Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

Cleaning up a sea of tree seeds in Janesville

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Greg Peck
Monday, June 9, 2014

I had lots on my weekend to-do list. It doesn't help that my summers are so busy that I rarely get two weekend days together to work around the house.

On this weekend's list were trimming the Boston ivy, which covers much of our brick house, and clipping the three hedges. I could tell before I was done with the latter that depositing all the resulting debris in our large compost bin wouldn't work. It was still full from last year, and we missed the opportunity before planting season to dump it out. A trip to the city compost site at the landfill was in order.

Before making that trip Saturday, I was determined to bag up and haul all those elm seeds in our gutters, too. Surely, some readers might be thinking, I must be mistaken. Dutch elm disease killed all those trees decades ago. Besides, disc-like elm seeds are so little.

You should have seen our gutters. A huge elm stands tall above the jungle our neighbor is growing across the street. Somehow, with the prevailing winds, we wind up with a lot of those elm seeds decorating our corner. Cheryl had spent time clearing the seeds from the edges of our driveway and sidewalk last week, lest we wind up with hundreds of tiny seedlings along the skirts of our lawn. The seeds blanketing our street gutters were even more daunting. I'm not kidding when I suggest they were like snowdrifts, at least 6 inches deep in some spots.

I got out the snow shovel to push them into four large piles, then used the push broom to sweep what the shovel missed. I wound up with three large leaf bags full of tens of thousands of these seeds, many of which had already sprouted in the dirty mess.

As I hauled my load to the dump, I crossed Milwaukee Street and saw two guys bagging maple seeds in another home's street gutters. If like us, you have mature trees on your terraces, you, too, have a mess in your street.

I suppose we could have waited for the city street sweeper, but the forecast called for rain later Saturday, and I figured all those seeds would either wash into the storm sewers or perhaps cause minor flooding problems.

I was right about the rain, which came soon after I'd finished the day's work.

So when is the city's next street sweeping go-round, had I decided to wait?

The city's website lists six rounds of street sweeping. Two have already passed.

Those remaining:

-- Third cycle: June 26-27.

-- Fourth cycle, Aug. 28-29.

-- Fifth cycle, Oct. 2-3.

-- Sixth cycle, Nov. 6-7.

In my book, all those elm seeds couldn't wait three more weeks. Besides, as the website suggests, those dates “are subject to change, depending on the volume of waste collected, weather conditions and shifting departmental work priorities.” Despite the uncertainty, the city encourages residents to park off the streets during those sweeping cycles.

Oh, and residents can request the cleanup of “unusual debris such as dead animals or tree limbs,” by calling the City Services Center at 608-755-3110. Hmm, I wonder if large piles left by one of the few elm trees remaining in Janesville qualify as “unusual debris.”

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.


Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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