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Running poorly-shredded chips from tree service through my home shredder: "Will it blend?"  RSS feed

 
Posts: 8
Location: Middle TN Zone 7A
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Hello All

I have recently taken 2 large loads of wood chips from a local tree service to use for mulch and such.  One pile is more coarse than the other as their chipper was not set up to well and I would like to run it again through a smaller (homeowner) chipper/shredder.  No pieces in this pile would exceed a 2"-3" chipper capacity.  I am wondering though if I was to dump small amounts into the upper hopper portion of a chipper would it function the way I hope or just clog up.  
Does anyone own a homeowner (i.e. troy bilt or similar 8-10hp) and have any experience with this?   I am holding off on purchasing one as I am not sure if it will work without feeding just small handfuls as these piles are roughly 10-12 feet in diameter x 5+ feet high.  I would imagine that anything less than a 5 gallon bucket being fed each time into the hopper would take way too long in my opinion.  Any input would be great.
Thanks
 
master steward
Posts: 2510
Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Ryan, Welcome to permies!  Here are some threads that might be of interest:

https://permies.com/t/63272/Wood-chipper-advice

https://permies.com/t/71222/home-wood-chippers

https://permies.com/t/51002/Troy-Bilt-Tomahawk-Wood-Chipper
 
pollinator
Posts: 1167
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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In my experience, you may be spending unnecessary time and energy re-chopping them.  Fungi doesn't care if the chips are 2" or 3" or 1" or whatever.  Once the microbial community gets going, they'll break those chips down within a year.

Less work is better than more work, in my experience.
 
pollinator
Posts: 228
Location: ALASKA
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I have a similar sized chipper as you describe.  I wouldn't want to rechip that much mulch with mine.  It's fine for small amounts, but I mostly use it for coarse compost materials in small batches to help speed up my compost efforts.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 1376
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
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I would never ever chip it once again! The work the fuel the mess, simply use it and it will be gone soon. Save your time for better things.
 
Ryan Kennedy
Posts: 8
Location: Middle TN Zone 7A
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Thank you all for the replies.
Thank you Anne for the links... I have already read through those however.
Yes the extra time and emissions has been on my mind for sure.  There are lots of long shredded and stringy material in the piles that do not fit the bill of what "I would like" or consider mulch. Half of the largest pile will qualify as brush and bramble. This part would definitely benefit from shredding to be an ideal mulch, but it may just have to go on my beds and paths anyway.
I am on a suburban acre lot so unfortunately some "I admit a very small amount" of thought may need to be placed on aesthetics for the sake of the neighbors... Sometimes people believe that You should be doing what they want. LOL
So, it was already looking like the piles were just going to have to be as they are...

Thanks all
 
Posts: 353
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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Sounds to me like the two loads came from different chippers. The chipper that produced the bigger chips had blades that were too short because they were worn out. I suspected that, but when you mentioned the stringy material I was certain. I agree with those who recommend not rechipping.
 
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If your going to be getting this material on a regular basis I would consider building a trommel to screen it to the size you like. compost the large pieces if you have the space.
 
Marco Banks
pollinator
Posts: 1167
Location: Los Angeles, CA
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I get a couple of loads of chips a year and I'm quick to ask the tree crew, "Is there any palm in it?"  If they say "yes", then I'll pass on the load.  Palm is a stringy mess to try to work with.

Yes, you get all kinds of crap in a load of wood chips, but in my experience, if you can just pile that stuff up somewhere and let it rot down, it's just extra carbon for your garden.  Its good to have a section of your garden that is dedicated to "pile it up and let it rot".  I'll pile stuff up on the south side of trees where the sun tends to bake the soil.

I take the longer sticks and lay them down around the base of newer fruit trees.  I'll make a donut of biomass, carefully weaving the branches and such so that they stay put.  Then I'll shovel a bit of soil on top of the donut to assure good soil to wood contact.  A couple of years later, they'll be broken down and contributing to the fungal network in the soil around the base of the tree.  
 
Posts: 119
Location: Nevada County, CA
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Beware of rocks and gravel!
 
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Hello, i agree with those telling not to re-shred. Last year my neighbor was cleaning his land and offered me a about 20 m3 of cut down shrubs and bushes. We borrowed 13hp (Hecht 6389) shredder from my parents. Shredded half of what we had and burned the rest. It was more work, noise and fuel than we expected.

In my opinion household shredder works if you have spare money and need to shred occasional material after pruning or cutting down a tree or two, but not for big scale work. Have patience, cover pile up and let it decompose on its own is my advice.

Good luck
 
Posts: 88
Location: Fort Myers, fl - Durango CO
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So...  another perspective,  I pickup free very coarse mulch from the city, all hand loaded into a trailer, 5-6 yards at a time.  It is very coarse and ok for where i need mulch around trees and large areas where I don't go barefoot.  In other areas like flower beds or around the garden, I need it much finer, so I run loads through my Troy built super tomahawk with the screen having 1-1/2" holes.  This produces an very nice mulch.  I clear an area at the end of the loaded trailer for the chipper and pitchfork the coarse mulch into the hopper and the result piles up on the ground off the trailer.  This works good because of the size of the resulting pile, I'm not continuously forking chips out of the way.  The large screen allows mulch to go thru chilpper pretty fast, so if I work at an easy pace, I can pitchfork at a constant rate and not stop, other than to move the trailer forward or fork processed chips out of the way.  It takes me a few hours to process the 5-6 yards of mulch.

Yes, it is a lot of work, but it's 100% free product, I get very nice mulch, my wife likes it in the flower beds and garden, the mulch doesn't go to landfill, and I get a workout without having to pay for a gym!!  I can go pickup the coarse mulch whenever I want, so it's not another bothersome task I haven't gotten to yet, I have radio headset if I don't like the noise, uses maybe 2.5 gallons of gas per load.  For me, there are far more pros than cons, and it's really satisfying to see the beautiful results of all that work!
 
 
pollinator
Posts: 797
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Ryan,

I would say it depends on how soon you need chips, and how fine. If you have a good reason to need fine chips (like small row back to eden) maybe it is worth it.

Travis Johnson has the rule of 2s- anything 2" within 2' of the ground will be gone in 2 years, and your climate is not too different from the east in terms of degrading biomass.

I let mine sit for a month or so, which decreases the nitrogen stealing dramatically, and then put them out. I think quantity wins over quality. I would not be picky about the chips, they are the cornerstone of revitalization around here. You would go broke putting down the potassium you get for free.
 
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