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Discussion Starter #1
It's that time of year, and I've got 3 massive Maple Trees about to lose their leaves. My shipping pallet compost bin is ready and waiting...

Shredding the leaves is better than whole leaves. Here's the challenge... using HAND TOOLS ONLY... How? No gas or electric devices allowed.

The reason I'm asking... I'm frugal (and going broke) and don't want to spend $$$ on equipment, so I'm trying to figure out how to do it, with what items (common, simple tools) I might already have on hand....:thumb:
 

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You can take some chicken wire and make bins with about a 1.5-2' diameter and fill them up with leaves. An added benefit to these is you can line them up and make a wind wall.

But to answer your question best way to shred without power would be a manual lawnmower.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
To post #2 and #3... excellent ideas, that I thought myself. However... I'm partly trying to solve MY problem, but also trying to solve a 'what if' problem. I currently don't have a old fashion push mower... can't afford to spend the money on such a mower... but more importantly....

IF IF IF... SHTF tomorrow.... I'm pretty sure 90% of this country doesn't have 1 of those push mowers either.... therefore??? What would be an alternative???? (using common yard/garden tools that the typical sheeple might own)
 

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Here's the other thing... IN A WORSE CASE SITUATION OF SHTF.... people in the South, such as Florida, can make compost/garden near all year round. HOWEVER... for those of us in the brutal winter North... we have a very very limited amount of time, therefore... we have to get pretty savvy, and cut corners on *time*..... (therefore, SHREDDED leaves are preferred)
 

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We have a tool that is called a "corn knife" around here. Farmers used to use them to cut down corn stalks and maybe even chop them up. It's like a machete. I've heard it called other things, but don't remember now. I would let them get as dry as possible, pile them up and let them have it with the corn knife. That is what I plan to do with the vines, etc. from the garden before they go in the compost. If leaves are good and dry they will crumble pretty easily. There are several old cutting tools that would probably work. Look around at what you have.
 

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Or, crumble the dry leaves by hand into the compost bin. Yes, takes a while, but it is effective and low tech.
 

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You could use a hoe to chop the leaves, or an axe if that's all you had. If you pile the leaves up you could chop through a bunch with one swing.
 

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If you had chickens, you could line the coop floor with whole leaves. Throw a little grain or some worms into the leaves and they would do all the work for you. The manure would get neutralized during composting and it would speed up the process quite a bit also.

I've thought about packing leaves as tight as possible into a large burlap or feed sack. Tie the open end and smash it, roll it, run over it, smack it with a baseball bat, stomp it, or whatever it takes.
 

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"Through a glass, darkly"
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Here's the other thing... IN A WORSE CASE SITUATION OF SHTF.... people in the South, such as Florida, can make compost/garden near all year round. HOWEVER... for those of us in the brutal winter North... we have a very very limited amount of time, therefore... we have to get pretty savvy, and cut corners on *time*..... (therefore, SHREDDED leaves are preferred)
Scratching my head here.... :confused: I've never even contemplated shredding fall leaves for composting. We rake up the leaves, carry them by wheelbarrow to the garden beds and spread them in a layer over everything. Turn them into the top 6" of soil with a spading fork (you said low-tech, right?), and let the rain and the snow and earth critters finish the job. In the spring, turn the soil again and you're good to go. "Sheet composting" is about as low-tech and labor UN-intensive as you can get! :thumb:
 

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Old Philosopher,

I do nearly the same as you with leaves to the garden in the fall. But our oak leaves take much longer to decompose, so we shred them and add a shot of hot manure in hopes they're composted by spring. Most of the time, regardless of how many times I turn the leaves into the dirt, I still have a bit of shredded leaves when I go to plant seedlings and seeds. I usually scrape the leaves aside, plant, then use the pile of decomposing leaves as mulch.

It's all good in the end!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Sheet composting also does not work for fruit trees, blueberry bushes, strawberry plants, etc.... therefore... compost bins would be necessary.
 

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Nearly all of my sheet composting is done now with apple, Hawthorne and lilac leaves.
My belief is that the hardwood leaves (oak, maple, etc) have a higher cellulose content, hence the slower decomposition.
Here's something I've found few people know:
A double handful of yarrow leaves, mixed into 1 cu yd of compost material will speed the composting by 3-4 times! What would take 90 days to break down, is ready in about a month. Works miracles in rotary composters.
 

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Or, crumble the dry leaves by hand into the compost bin. Yes, takes a while, but it is effective and low tech.
Well, how about by glove? I did it your way until my unfortunate discovery that the cats were using the leaves as an organic litter box.:eek:
 

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How 'bout the same way we'd shell the hulls off walnuts, drive over 'em. How 'bout burning them? Sharpen the edge of a shovel and have at it. Throw 'em into the blades of a floor fan. run over them with a lawn mower. SHTF, I'd just rake 'em in a pile and leave it.
 

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How 'bout the same way we'd shell the hulls off walnuts, drive over 'em. How 'bout burning them? Sharpen the edge of a shovel and have at it. Throw 'em into the blades of a floor fan. run over them with a lawn mower. SHTF, I'd just rake 'em in a pile and leave it.
On that note, if TSHTF, just rake them into one big pile and hide under them. :eek:
(Don't you love how little it takes to totally screw up a serious thread?)
 

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Old Philosopher,

I had not heard that about yarrow! I'll have to try it, thanks!

I use comfrey as a compost activator and plant fertilizer. The cut leaves can be tossed into compost bins or dug in around the growing plants as a side dressing. A concentrated liquid fertilizer can be made from infusing the fresh cut comfrey leaves in a covered bucket of rain water, too. And it's a great medicinal plant for hand creams, salves, and ointments to heal cuts and scrapes! A great all-round plant to have in the garden.
 

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It's that time of year, and I've got 3 massive Maple Trees about to lose their leaves. My shipping pallet compost bin is ready and waiting...

Shredding the leaves is better than whole leaves. Here's the challenge... using HAND TOOLS ONLY... How? No gas or electric devices allowed.

The reason I'm asking... I'm frugal (and going broke) and don't want to spend $$$ on equipment, so I'm trying to figure out how to do it, with what items (common, simple tools) I might already have on hand....:thumb:
Back on topic for a second, hopefully.
I don't know how primitive you expect to get, but part of my "survival" equipment is a chainsaw, and gas. I also own a weedeater. If I could spare a piint of mixed gas, and absolutely had to shred my leaves, I'd meter them into a rubber garbage can and mulch them with the weedeater. Kinda like a giant Bamix! :) We've been known to do that to shell beans dried on the plants, except you don't have to winnow the leaves. :thumb:
 
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