I've been taking advantage of the decent weather in Chicago to do some garden cleanup. Having your typical postage-sized urban garden makes the cleaning up of the garden easy, but it comes with its unique set of complications. Besides the dying plant stems, fallen leaves and weeds, I often have to contend with a lot of trash. People feel like they can toss garbage into the yard and then there's the trash that overflows from the alleys and is carried into the garden by the wind.
Normally I collect the debris in a bucket and carry it around to the back of the house because there isn't enough space between the adjacent properties for a wheelbarrow or to bring a trashcan to the front. This chore usually takes a number of trips and can be so annoying that I've been known to leave the trash there and let the snow cover it until the spring. A couple of weeks ago a marketing rep for the Leaf Loader offered me a product sample and review. At first I declined because I don't think that something designed to make gathering leaves from a yard or garden would be very useful. Then it dawned on it that maybe it could help me cleanup the garbage from the garden so I accepted the product.
The Leaf Loader cut the number of trips to the back of the house and garbage can by half because I could fit more trash on it than I could in a bucket. There isn't really much I need to say about the Leaf Loader. It is a collapsible circle (that resembles a trampoline) that you rake leaves on, fold in half and empty into a receptacle like a bag or trashcan. It works just as you'd expect and you don't need an extra set of hands to hold open a bag while you pour the leaves or garbage into it. It is a great garden tool that is more efficient than using a tarp or a rake and shovel. The afternoon after I tested the Leaf Loader I passed by two neighbors doing the same fall garden chore with a rake and a shovel and laughed. If they had invited me to one of their summer cookout maybe I would've let them borrow my Leaf Loader to make the job easier. The Leaf Loader retails for $29.95, but I received mine for free and would recommend it to make cleaning up your garden and raking leaves easier.
Above I mentioned that I've been known to skip cleaning up the garden in the fall and do it in the spring. I don't do this often and I don't recommend you do either. Remove dead or dying plant material from the garden in the fall. Garden pests like iris leaf borers and diseases could overwinter and attack your plants in the spring. Cleaning the garden now will result in an easier spring and summer next year.