• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Does Paul hate wood chippers? If so, why?

 
Jared Stanley
Posts: 65
Location: Toomsuba, MS, 8a, 54" annual rainfall
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I heard Paul mention in this clip that he does not like wood chippers:



He didn't go in to why, and, being new here and new to his YouTube channel, I don't know what the reason might be.

Could someone enlighten me please?

Thank you!
 
Will Scoggins
Posts: 62
Location: Northeast Arkansas
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I believe it is because he sees more value in unchipped wood, be it for lumber or for hugelculture.
 
Julia Winter
steward
Pie
Posts: 1657
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
117
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Paul does a great job of explaining in a recent interview you can find here (look for the mp3 link):
http://www.kzyx.org/index.php/talk-shows/self-help-and-sustainability/the-farm-and-garden-show/entry/paul-wheaton-on-hugelkultur-and-more

Briefly, he doesn't like homogeneity, and that's what a wood chipper creates. You start with randomly sized pieces of wood and you end up with a bunch of little chips. If you have wood, Paul would vote for burying it in a hugelkultur bed, and for that use the bigger the pieces of wood the longer they will function as underground water holders for you.

One of the other jobs of a wood chipper is to break things up for faster composting, and once again Paul says it's better to bury organic waste, either under mulch or under soil, so that less nitrogen and carbon are lost to the atmosphere during the composting process. Thus, Paul is also not a fan of dedicated compost piles. When you run a fast, hot compost pile, the amount of material shrinks impressively. Some of that is due to settling as everything gets broken down into tinier pieces, but a fair amount of the loss is due to nitrogen and carbon escaping into the atmosphere.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When you look at the cost of chipping and the labor that goes into it, the whole process is not efficient on a small scale. I had a 5hp chipper. I had to wear goggles, ear muffs, and gloves. Mine was far better than most but still a whole lot of noise and fumes for what was supposed to be a convenience.

I once worked with a machine that could chip 400 tons per hour. There are times when a huge machine is used to reduce stumps and forestry debris. I have no issue with hauling some home from the giant pile. These machines use far less fuel than the home models. It costs about $5 per ton to chip on this scale. This includes fuel, labor and a machine that isn't cheap.
 
Adam Klaus
author
gardener
Posts: 946
Location: 6200' westen slope of colorado, zone 6
65
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll toss my hat into the ring and say that I hate wood chippers. Like Dale said, they are ugly and expensive machines to work with, unless you are on a serious scale. It is hard, loud, dirty work operating a wood chipper for any significant amount of material.
 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't like any loud machinery that runs on fossil fuels. I love wood chips though, they make the best mulch for my blueberries and a thick layer of cardboard topped by a thick layer of wood chips is my favorite path material.
I wouldn't buy a chipper but I am glad others have them and give me the chips.
 
Jared Stanley
Posts: 65
Location: Toomsuba, MS, 8a, 54" annual rainfall
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Okay, I understand.

I suppose when I think of "mulch" I use the term interchangeably with "wood chips". We have also used hay as a covering, but then hay is expensive and/or requires expensive, loud, fuel burning machinery to create as well.

Is there a better alternative I can consider for mulch that is not coming to mind?
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jared Stanley wrote: We have also used hay as a covering, but then hay is expensive and/or requires expensive, loud, fuel burning machinery to create as well.



Not always! I cut it with a scythe and rake it by hand Since I haven't yet perfected my haystack-building, I have mounds and mounds of fantastic mulching material. But obviously you have to have a meadow that is big enough for your needs and not too big as to be unmanageable.

I hear what people are saying about woodchippers, on the other hand I do think that woodchip is really useful in some ways. We have a small garden chipper someone gave us that I haven't actually used because we do other things with our prunings and trimmings. But I have made a lot of use of the chip that I got for elsewhere - the local sawmill chips their waste (and they're very selective, they're not chipping things that could be used for something else - that is forming a nice thick deep bedding pile for the chicken run. And the fact that I don't like wood chippers isn't going to stop the entire world from using them, so I made good use of several tons of ramial woodchip created by the power company pruning around the power lines in the area. In certain situations you really do want faster breakdown (like building soil on top of undiggable subsoil), so throwing armfuls of unchipped branches would have been pretty pointless.

I think my point is, it's always good to look at things, especially ubiquitous machines, and ask if they are really the best solution to a given situation. We need to stay critical and look for ways to improve. At the same time though, it's silly to turn your nose up at a useful and freely available resource just because it's maybe not the absolute best way of processing wood.
 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Has anyone ever made a people powered wood chipper?

I know Paul's reasons for disliking wood chippers include the fact that wood is best left unchipped, but for me that is a true ideal that sometimes lacks practical application.

For that matter, how about a people powered sawmill...
 
S Carreg
Posts: 260
Location: De Cymru (West Wales, UK)
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu Collins wrote:

For that matter, how about a people powered sawmill...


That would be one of these. It's damn hard work! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saw_pit
 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There's got to be a better way! I'm thinking something with gears. We know how to make physics work for us.

I often think of oxen, perhaps when the whole fossil fuel based system breaks down people will be more motivated to keep and breed oxen.

How about an ox/draught horse powered engine that could have a sawmill attachment and a chipper attachment?

I get the idea of wood chips breaking down too fast but my farm eats mulch as fast as I can find it. I'm greedy for them. What would the alternative be? Spoiled hay is great for gardens of I can get it, not good for paths. I use old boards for straight paths when I can. Mowed clover is really nice for paths but labor intensive, especially with the reel mower. (Perhaps this question is worthy of its own thread. I searched for path threads and didn't find what I was looking for.)
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 777
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
82
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
While I can agree that chipping up wood is a wasted effort for some applications, I find it to be very beneficial for some projects. I prefer to use non-chipped wood for filling pits that eventually becoming growing beds. Since I have access to plenty of grass clippings now, I no longer use wood clippings for mulching. As an aside, not every region has access to straw, old or spoiled hay, fall leaves. Here on my island, straw bales can easily cost $20-$30. Old or spoiled hay is not available. No such thing as autumn leaves.

I have a Mighty Mac hammermill shredder/ chipper that I use at least weekly for processing brush and small tree trimmings. I own my own because of timeliness and cost. A commercial chipper requires that you have a minimum of 5 hours worth of chipping time before they will come to your property. That's something that's impossible for me unless I stockpile debris. It's just not feasible since I need to re-open up the land for grazing and orchards. Nor can I justify the cost of a large chipper. Nor do I have the knowledge to maintain and repair one.

I chip my debris because I use it to create a growing medium on my seed farm. The seed farm has no soil, really. It's just broken lava. I initially built boxes for growing in, but I am now concentrating on covering the lava with organic debris with the intent of being able to plant into it. In a test area the debris (clippings, manures, other vegetative waste, plus ash, coral dust, lava dust, biochar) is 6 inches thick (after settling). I've planted sweet potatoes into it and just recently harvested my first crop. Successful.

A chipper /shredder in my circumstance is a useful tool helping to bring 1 1/2 acres of lava rock into food/seed production, during my lifetime that is. Centuries from now soil would be created here via natural processes. With the aid of the chips, I will be able to create permanent growing areas for pineapple, papaya, sweet potatoes, gourds, succulents, and bromeliads. I plan to still produce seed in grow boxes because I will be able to protect the plants better and control pollination.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
When I was 14, I had 14 goats. I fed them mountains of fruit tree prunings. Small stuff was completely eaten and larger stuff was debarked.

Several horses shared the concrete feeding area. They trampled the branches into the manure. The resultant mixture wasn't wood chips, but it was a good rich mulch that looked more woody after a few rains.

All of my grain costs were covered by an old apricot and cherry grower from the Crimea region of Ukraine. He stopped by weekly to gather manure and to feed the goats tree trimmings.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1266
Location: Central New Jersey
34
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Matu Collins wrote:There's got to be a better way! I'm thinking something with gears. We know how to make physics work for us.

I often think of oxen, perhaps when the whole fossil fuel based system breaks down people will be more motivated to keep and breed oxen.

How about an ox/draught horse powered engine that could have a sawmill attachment and a chipper attachment?

I get the idea of wood chips breaking down too fast but my farm eats mulch as fast as I can find it. I'm greedy for them. What would the alternative be? Spoiled hay is great for gardens of I can get it, not good for paths. I use old boards for straight paths when I can. Mowed clover is really nice for paths but labor intensive, especially with the reel mower. (Perhaps this question is worthy of its own thread. I searched for path threads and didn't find what I was looking for.)


May I suggest water power? Using a waterwheel to directly power a sawmill could make for pretty good efficiency, avoid use of hydrocarbons, and not tie up your livestock.

Mixed feelings on the woodchip front. Sometimes homogeneity is a desirable thing and lots of people have very good success using wood chips as mulch. Depending on what else is available, I can see where using some of the wood supply that way would make sense. OTOH, I am really hesitant to let random arborists or power company crews drop off loads of who knows what wood chips on my property...
 
Jared Stanley
Posts: 65
Location: Toomsuba, MS, 8a, 54" annual rainfall
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Su Ba,

Sounds like we might have the same equipment. I have the 12PT. We got ours because we thought wood chip mulch was the way to go. Since there is a mulch company only 1.5 miles away, nobody will bring me the free wood chippings - they will drive right past me and go there, as it is still on the way to the highway.

We have enough wood to supply our needs, so long as we have the equipment and are willing to put in the physical effort required.

Su Ba wrote:
I have a Mighty Mac hammermill shredder/ chipper that I use at least weekly for processing brush and small tree trimmings.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Su Ba, have you considered running a plate tamper, rock plow and disk or other rock breaking device over lava rock to break it up or having an excavator and hammermill process a large quanty ? It might knock a century off of your soil building regime.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3304
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
32
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jared Stanley wrote:Su Ba,

Sounds like we might have the same equipment. I have the 12PT. We got ours because we thought wood chip mulch was the way to go. Since there is a mulch company only 1.5 miles away, nobody will bring me the free wood chippings - they will drive right past me and go there, as it is still on the way to the highway.

We have enough wood to supply our needs, so long as we have the equipment and are willing to put in the physical effort required.

Su Ba wrote:
I have a Mighty Mac hammermill shredder/ chipper that I use at least weekly for processing brush and small tree trimmings.


I have the little PTO mac. Cost me a whopping $150 and it was like new. My little diesel tractor sips fuel. But it is still cheaper to have a big guy do it for large stuff. Like Su, we use it for little projects here and there--a new little path, a new tree, etc. Cheaper than buying by the bag and on my schedule.

I have played with the shredder making chopped straw for cob and shredded cardboard for worm beds--both work well but still slow.
 
Jared Stanley
Posts: 65
Location: Toomsuba, MS, 8a, 54" annual rainfall
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wish I had the PTO one now. We did not have a tractor at the time.

Outside of wood chipping, we use ours to shred rabbit manure. It works great.

R Scott wrote:I have played with the shredder making chopped straw for cob and shredded cardboard for worm beds--both work well but still slow.
 
Jonathan 'yukkuri' Kame
Posts: 488
Location: Foothills north of L.A., zone 9ish mediterranean
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Short answer is woodchippers turn a solution into a problem, rather than the other way around.

We've taken responsibility for a job that nature would do by itself (breaking down cellulose) and turned a resource into a problem (need machines & fuel).

What else can perform the function of a wood chipper? Fungus, bacteria, worms, farm animals, humans walking down a path covered in twigs, wood gasifiers, etc. Probably the best way to break down wood is with fire. Why use energy to break down wood when you can get energy out of the wood?

In any particular situation, none of those might be practical and a few situations mentioned in this thread where a woodchipper could be useful. Like with earthworks, perhaps a one-time sheet mulching with woodchips makes sense in some situations, but ongoing woochipping (fossil fuel inputs) seems counterproductive, especially when there are so many other elements that can take care of that function for you and provide a yield.

I confess to having used a woodchipper recently (neighbors were complaining of fire risk from my brushpile, and they were right) and now I have a beautiful pile of well-composted woodchips - amazing soil from it LOADED with worms. Since I'm in early stages of establishment, building soil is a priority. The woodchipper solved a short-term problem (fire risk & neighborly relations) and gave my garden a boost towards long term productivity. I can live with the compromise.

I don't hate woodchippers. But I certainly wouldn't want to build woodchipping into a design for a property.




 
minyamoo metzger
Posts: 19
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nature takes care of wood, yes.
Over time.
I've only got so long and I need to speed up natures processes.
Trees take up less area than a meadow. (hay/straw)
Driving to the the big guys and buying $15 a yard X2 $30 once a year. (and that is CHEAP)
Wood is very heavy decreasing vehicle efficiency, and you need a truck, so you are already getting poor gas mileage.
That is more gas used driving back and forth than the chipper.
Chippers are starting to go electric, who knows if that's better or if they work but?

So even though I don't have one I want one, because I don't have a truck, or time to drive places.
I want to share the expense with at least one other person.
So I'm a selfish bastard, I prefer the texture, smell, and look of wood chips around trees, berries, and flowers.
Now I am growing cover crop for my veggies.

So yea, if I lived on a full fledged farm with livestock (other than chickens) and a meadow, forest, a creek, and lot's of rocks I wouldn't need chips.
I could use twigs (naturally tiny) and leaves.

And I'm pretty sure a horse, or ox is worse for the carbon output and cost than a woodchiper. Unless you are making them work or going to eat them.
 
Julia Winter
steward
Pie
Posts: 1657
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
117
bee bike chicken food preservation hugelkultur urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We refitted a gas powered Mighty Mac hammermill chipper/shredder with a 5 HP farm duty electric motor and it is *awesome*!

The motor was actually too much power--we had to buy new body pieces for it after my bad habit of tossing in fist sized chunks of wood to clear out clogs led to the back wall actually getting deformed outwards.

That said, the main things I used it for were pretreating weeds and other compost materials for hot rapid composting, and these days I am reconsidering the whole thing. . .

If you really need one of these, consider buying a used one with a broken motor and switching it to electric. You need to know how to hook up 220, put in the outlet, etc. of course. The power cord for this thing looks like a hose, it's so thick.
 
Matu Collins
Pie
Posts: 1967
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I wouldn't only use the draught animals for this, if I had them. I'm not thinking about carbon output as much as long term sustainability. I know there are still fossil fuels left but they won't last forever and they aren't getting cheaper or easier to extract. Also, the international situations that make politics seen precarious make me want to find ways to avoid fossil fuels.

The electric idea is simpler, since it's not hard to put up a wind turbine. If I had a river, water power would be good. I don't have the volume of twigs I want for paths. That would be a lot of twigs. I also don't have enough meadow trimmings. Hmmm, what else is there...
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 777
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
82
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale, I had a bulldozer work the lava, breaking it down into pieces ranging from football down to ping pong ball size. The big chunks are blue rock, a very hard form of lava. Getting the stuff smaller sized would cost more money than I can now justify putting into it. But the dozer guy spent a day working the top layer really well, so most of the surface rock is small. Since there is plenty of big irregular chunks below the surface, compacting isn't a problem.

I took a load of wood chips and grass clippings down to the seed farm today, and while there checked on a section I had covered 12 months ago in 12 inches of cardboard/grass/chips. I was really pleased to see that it had decomposed down to about one inch of powdery material with some pieces of cardboard still evident. The organic material had sifted down between the lava for a depth of about two inches. So far so good. The only problem at this stage is that the material is strongly hydrophobic. So it still needs a lot of work and amendments. So I'm planning to cover this area now in layers of horse manure, clippings, wood chips, brush clippings, a bit of compost (to inoculate it with micro organisms), and urine innocuoated biochar. My goal is to get a layer of fresh material 12 inches thick, if I can manage it. As I water it (extremely little rain this time of year) I will add amendments of wood ash, coral sand, processed bone, and ocean water. I've had good success in the past with that combination. I'm hoping to plant sweet potatoes into that after it sits for a month or two.

If this works, then all the chipping and mowing has been worth it.

I like the suggestion of the farm duty electric motor for the Mighty Mac. But alas, I live totally off grid. I find the gasoline motor to be an acceptable solution for now. Besides, I can tow the shredder anywhere on the farm, getting it right to the job site. Couldn't do that with electric. But I'm going to keep the idea filed away for future reference.

...Su Ba
www.kaufarmer.blogspot.com
 
Fred Morgan
steward
Posts: 979
Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
14
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I had a wood chipper, in fact I have had two in my life. Never want one again. I can understand those who choose to have one since there are times it makes sense, but to me, it is a lot of work chipping, unless as people say, you have a really large one.

I tend to take brush and throw it to the goats, who are more than happy to strip it, larger limbs, well they might actually turn into rustic furniture - or be buried in the soil.

Or used as fuel for my ant killer... (rocket stove for boiling water - fire ants don't recover from being boiled I have found)

 
Abe Connally
Posts: 1502
Location: Chihuahua Desert
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've never had a chipper or shredder, but I've always wanted one. The amount of dry stalks, branches, bramble, dry grass, etc that could be turned into animal bedding, animal food, compost, soil material, etc is just enormous.

I had always envisioned a wood chipper powered by wood gas (pretty simple for something in the 5 hp range). It would be nice if it was on a trailer, I could easily pick up tons of organic material on outings, chip it, and take it home. With that sort of setup, I'm using the wood to power the chipper to recycle other wastes into soil material for me, and on top of that, it produces charcoal and ash (more soil). Seems like a win, win, win.

It my climate, wood takes a long time to decompose, but our base soil is very pour in organic matter, so it helps to have things go a bit faster than logs/branches.

Jean Pain did chipping right. He was building soil and using the chips to provide energy for his home at the same time.

A chipper/shredder is also good for making animal feeds from green trimmings. Silage could be made with seasonal weeds and green trimmings.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
For those who are determined to chip, mesh size can make a huge difference in how fast the process goes and on the amount of fuel used on a given amount of materials. My 5 horse Bear-Cat could make chips the size of a pea or the size of a cell phone depending on the screen used. The big commercial stump chipper, made chunks the size of a shoe. Far less energy goes into large chips and they break down slower. A good comprise for hugelkultur building. Not so nice for path coverage.
 
Nicholas Mason
Posts: 91
Location: Colton Or
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Su Ba that is awesome what you are doing with the lava rock. I would think that you are getting some good minerals from the rocks as well. I don't really know the mineral content of lava rock though.

Space is a big consideration for chipping as well. For commercial entities it would be unprofitable to remove the material from a site if you didn't chip it. And if you only have so much propery you can only store so many sticks before you run out of room. Yes hugelkultur is awesome but after you make your beds what do you do with the extra sticks that might continue to fall down. Some places can be really picky on how often you can burn, and that's not the greatest solution either.

Paul hates wood chippers because he is an extreme personality. If there is a extreme side for him to be on he will be on it. That's why he has been able to build this empire, and that's why I listen to him. But in listening to him I understand that I have to take some things with a grain of salt.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Nicholas Mason wrote:

Paul hates wood chippers because he is an extreme personality. If there is a extreme side for him to be on he will be on it.


That may apply to several members of the forum, myself included. It could be that those with a definite opinion are amongst those who have thought things through and those with first hand experience. Sitting on the fence is often a position taken by those who speculate rather than engaging in actual experimentation.

I think Paul hates wood chippers because he sees what a bloody waste of resources and time they represent. If one guy puts 100 hours into gathering bags of leaves and sticks and chipping them, while another spends his hundred hours gathering and piling; in the long run, guy #2 will have made much more compost. A 5 hp. chipper consumes at least $5 per hour in fuel, oil, blade sharpening and repairs. The guy with the chipper will be down $500 in this case. He will have spent 100 hours breathing exhaust and listening to the thing squeal. He will have wasted a lot of fuel.

Running a chipper is a form of fiddle pissing. It seems very manly at first. It looks and feels like you're really getting stuff done. There's noise, danger, and a fancy thing to buy, show off and maintain. But in the end when compared to other means of reducing organic waste, it's a huge time and money sink.
 
Craig Dobbelyu
pollinator
Posts: 1239
Location: Maine (zone 5)
63
forest garden hugelkultur
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In preparation for winter the DOT is out chipping and clearing the roadside ditches. Gotta make a place to put all that snow! When they are working within a couple miles of you, it's a good idea to stop and ask for the material. They will usually drop it off wherever you want it by the dump truck-full. I don't know why they insist on taking it away. they could just shoot it all back up on the hillside but... anyway. If they're gonna move it , I might as well take it. Mostly it's saplings and little brushy shrubs all neatly blended together to make compost or mulch. I just got 4 dump-trucks full which is going to be spread on pathways and used for litter under the rabbit hutch and in the winter coop for the chickens.
The lesson is that I use all my own cuttings for hugel stuff and building materials, while the DOT keeps me in a good supply of mulch. Now... what am I going to do with that chipper that was given to me a few years ago?
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's exactly how I get chips except that I call a tree service company. Their machines are much more efficient in both labor and fuel (that you didn't pay for).

I think road crews haul it away because they're not trying to create a better growing environment close to the road. By maintaining a bare, largely mineral soil, future cutting is reduced. When running water is involved, wood chips can wash down where they end up clogging culvert screens and filling ditches and leach fields.
 
John Wheeler
Posts: 41
Location: Slippery Rock, PA
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Someone has made a pedal-powered chipper:



Obviously there is a limit to how large a stick you can put through that, but then again, there probably are better uses you can be making for larger wood.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In the urban dictionary, next to the term "fiddle pissing" they should have a photo of that chipper in action. I found my 5 hp model inadequate and far too slow. It was 50 times faster than this.
 
mike mclellan
Posts: 93
Location: Helena, MT zone 4
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Dale,
I have the same model and HP of yours. I only use it when I "have" to ( like we cut 27 trees down to make an area usable and safer near the house and the slash pile was terrifying to behold. I tell ya, Russian olive fights you all the way until it is chipped. Hate cutting that stuff!) The stink and noise of the chippers get old after about 2 minutes. I will say though, that as dry it is here in Montana and previously Wyoming, it takes many years for any sizable piece of wood to break down in the dry country. I only have so many years left on terra firma and a whole lot to do to get this place growing a variety of plants we can use/eat so I chip (therefore I am). I have lately found excuses to bury branches in smaller hugel mounds and thus the chipper stays in the shed. Using a local tree service as a chip source has provided enough chips to keep me busy spreading them this winter. Love the expression "fiddle pissing". Is that a Canadian thing? Cheers. Now quit sending us YOUR cold air!
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
mike mclellan wrote:Dale,
I have the same model and HP of yours. I only use it when I "have" to ( like we cut 27 trees down to make an area usable and safer near the house and the slash pile was terrifying to behold. I tell ya, Russian olive fights you all the way until it is chipped. Hate cutting that stuff!) The stink and noise of the chippers get old after about 2 minutes. I will say though, that as dry it is here in Montana and previously Wyoming, it takes many years for any sizable piece of wood to break down in the dry country. I only have so many years left on terra firma and a whole lot to do to get this place growing a variety of plants we can use/eat so I chip (therefore I am). I have lately found excuses to bury branches in smaller hugel mounds and thus the chipper stays in the shed. Using a local tree service as a chip source has provided enough chips to keep me busy spreading them this winter. Love the expression "fiddle pissing". Is that a Canadian thing? Cheers. Now quit sending us YOUR cold air!


I might have learned the term "fiddle pissing" from my dad. I'm the only one using it so far as I know. I have lots of others, many of a derogatory nature. Although Canada does send you plenty of cold air, I'm sure other forum members will agree that I'm more likely to contribute to the ample supply of "hot air" around here.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've come up with a good alternative to chippers and garden hogs. This machine is used only on materials under 3/4 inch diameter. It's cordless electric. I don't have to lift material into a hopper. I pile it and slice it up.

http://www.permies.com/t/37947/gear/Cordless-hedge-trimmer#327322


I use it here to process tangly vines that tend to wrap up and clog hammer mills.

http://www.permies.com/t/40664/mulch/Dale-Compost-Cutter-processed-lb


Sometimes I pile up branches up to 2 inches thick and slice them into 4 inch chunks with a chainsaw. This is done on deep piles where the chain can't reach the dirt. All of these processes use far less resources than a chipper would.
 
Thomas Wright
Posts: 21
Location: Florida and Colorado
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have a small electric chipper/mulcher. It can only process up to around 1.25 inch diameter branches. The noise level is not too loud to need ear protection, but it's not whisper quiet either while running wood through it. It is definitely more cost effective than a gasoline powered unit, and if you can sharpen your own blades you can cut costs even more. I also like being able to pull it out of the shed after a long time of not running and start it right up without dealing with fluids. I've got quite a bit of use out of the machine, but I'm not sure how it would hold up in a commercial or large scale, every day application. Taking a heavier duty gasoline powered chipper and replacing the motor with an electric one like suggested earlier would probably work much better for longevity and thicker branches.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1253
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
15
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
minyamoo metzger wrote:

So even though I don't have one I want one, because I don't have a truck, or time to drive places.


Dude. You don't need a truck. I've hauled tons of compost in the back of my tiny KIA Rio. I just put a tarp in the trunk and fill it up.
 
Ray Ko
Posts: 15
Location: Central Virginia zone7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I was on the verge of buying a PTO mounted chipper for logging slash. Instead, one of these days I will just rent a 12" towable model. I would process material much faster and not have to deal with maintenance. Until then, the slash will just rot and roast the occasional marshmallow.
 
Troy Rhodes
Posts: 551
21
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
A chipper, and wood chips, are just tools. They can be used well. They can be used badly. They can be overused, or underused.

I suspect the 5-10 hp homeowner sized chipper gets overused, and that there are better ways to accomplish that task--usually.

But I wouldn't go so far as to tell people they shouldn't...


And wood chips, well, use 'em if you got 'em.

I recently had a new oil pipeline installed in my back yard, not because I wanted one, but because they forced it on me. I got some money out of the deal, and a pile of wood chips the size of a house.

So yeah, I use wood chips. Great for soil building.


Again, wood chips are a tool. They can be used well, or badly...


troy
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic