I have a 5.5 horsepower chipper-shredder made by Craftsman in probably the 80s. My dad acquired it when a neighbor of his decided to sell or give it away – not sure which. I had to replace some rubber aprts of the air intake, and the starter cord, but that was pretty easy and cheap. It’s a solid machine, and does a very good job of turning bits of organic matter into smaller bits of organic matter. On the minus side, however, it uses a lot of gasoline and spews pollution like nobody’s business. And it’s loud. I have to use ear protection with it.
Still, it’s a great piece of the composting arsenal at my disposal. It does take some prep to break down stuff to be shredded – branches and other materials generally need to be trimmed down so they don’t get hung in the chutes, but once you get things to that stage, it’s wonderful to use. Oh, and it helps if branches aren’t too green. If they are, they tend to – sometimes – bend more than shred and get stuck in the blades.
This past weekend I hauled it out, parked it in the shade, and managed to get it started with the first pull of the cord. That impressed me. I have so much material in the yard I knew I wouldn’t finish the job, but I did make a two-hour dent in it. I took a substantial pile of branches from the ash tree in front and turned those into a whole wheelbarrow of mulch. Next up, a bunch of partially-rotten cedar fence slats. Those make wonderful, arromatic mulch. Lastly, I made a decent dent in the Chinese tallow branches I’d stacked up. Much of that material is 1″ – 3″ inches in diameter, so I had to use the secondary chute for those.
All said, I made three wheelbarrows of mulch, some of which went in beds, and some the compost heap. Though, considering how much gas usage and pollution this thing is responsible for, and how much time it takes, I’m not sure making my own mulch balances out all that well. Still, I like using this thing, It reminds me of my grandfathers (though there’s no real connection I can discern) AND that end scene of Fargo. Okay, maybe that’s disturbing.
There’s still much more to do, but it was a great start.