After leaving it dormant for two or three years, I’ve been making use of my manual shredder again this week. Plant cuttings are dropped in the hopper, pressed down with a lump of old wood and, as the handle is turned, the blades shred and grind the green material, which is collected and added to the compost heap.
What is the point of this effort? It makes for better, quicker compost. Just like chewing your food before you swallow, grinding the cuttings promotes their digestion. Smaller pieces give a great surface area for composting organisms to work on and they will more quickly fall apart because the binding structures have been disrupted. I suspect it will also help the heap run hotter through both accelerated activity and the material being packed more closely together.
This weekend, I might give the heap a turn as well – another exercise that aids the aerobic bacteria and speeds the process up. Speaking of exercise, some of the early flowering plants, like Buddleja globosa, are now coming to an end so I’m also going to have plenty of material to continue my upper body workout on.