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Soil and Composting: Recommendations for a leaf shredder

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Forum: Soil and CompostingReplies: 35, Views: 328
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lovedirtynails
Portland, OR

April 19, 2010
8:42 AM

Post #7717983

I think I am going to splurge and buy a leaf shredder this year. I need one that can also handle my dahlia stalks (I have tons in the fall). I think I prefer electric... gas engines are too much for me. Does anyone have one they really like and would recommend? thanks!!!

anne

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 20, 2010
9:22 AM

Post #7720988

Anne, I use our Troybilt mower. It takes three passes to make the leaves small enough to use as a mulch.

My other method is to scatter leaves on the grass, pass the mower over both, and add the residue to the compost bin. (Actually my hubby does the mowing)
lovedirtynails
Portland, OR

April 20, 2010
11:29 AM

Post #7721293

thanks, honeybeenc, that really does make the most sense and cents.

anne
meisgreen
Phoenix, AZ

April 21, 2010
4:32 PM

Post #7725277

I just throw my leaves in the heap and they take care of themselves. Of course they really aren't my leaves I drive around looking for yards with bags in front. And the only time to find them is in winter so we have to use other brown stuff.
Katye
Sammamish, WA
(Zone 7b)

April 21, 2010
6:03 PM

Post #7725536

hmmm - wondering how well that would work up here - we're outside of Seattle & known for WET autumns. Portland might be a bit drier but our weather patterns are similar.
Trying to mow wet leaves on the wet lawn is a losing battle.

Can anyone else chime in on an electric leaf shredder?
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 22, 2010
12:06 AM

Post #7726294

Got a weed whacker & a big trash can?
meisgreen
Phoenix, AZ

April 22, 2010
1:07 PM

Post #7727722

There's a low cost way to go, puddle! Maybe a little work, tho...
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 22, 2010
8:58 PM

Post #7729003

Sweat never killed anybody. :)

Just be sure to wear eye protection.
Katye
Sammamish, WA
(Zone 7b)

April 22, 2010
10:13 PM

Post #7729095

I've utilized that method, PP, but with wet leaves (as in soaking wet) it's still time consuming. I suppose they would jam up anything we put them in!
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 23, 2010
9:04 AM

Post #7729990

A friend of mine keeps wet autumn leaves in trash bags over the winter in her garage, with a handful of soil tossed into each. By late spring or early summer, they're just leaf mold. Great stuff for gardens, and no shredding needed!
Katye
Sammamish, WA
(Zone 7b)

April 23, 2010
5:28 PM

Post #7731071

I've done this too & it does work well. But I'm trying to save the chopped leaves for growing potatoes, so I don't want them to break down too much. Thanks though - I'm sure others that are viewing would find this info quite useful, PP!


Gymgirl

Gymgirl
SE Houston (Hobby), TX
(Zone 9a)

April 25, 2010
7:45 AM

Post #7735251

Katye several of us are currently growing potatoes in containers down south and using leaves to hill up. I'm in old washing machine tubs. There's potting soil n organics to the top of my tubs. Then I extended the vertical by wrapping plastic poultry wire around to make cages. I'm continuing to hill with leaves. From m current experience, if rather hill with chopped leaves than whole. Whole creates too many uneven crevices in the structure and wetting down is difficult because the water doesn't percolate to the bottom soil easily. JMHO...

Linda
Katye
Sammamish, WA
(Zone 7b)

April 25, 2010
9:26 AM

Post #7735484

Hi Linda - I had access to less Ieaves last fall, so what I had went into the raised beds for my worms and their buddies.

I've been growing potatoes this way for years, too - it's a clean, easy method. This year I'm using straw & compost which is working well. I don't think the potatoes really care. We have so many evergreens in this region, you really have to look hard for leaves from deciduous trees. I try to get enough to fill an area 6'x8'x3', which is the size of the potato bed. This year i'll try to hang out in an older ritzy residential area & bribe the landscapers for the leaves!
I saw your posts about the washing machine tubs - that's a cool idea. I did something similar the very first year I tried growing potatoes the "no-dig" way - large container with wire mesh as a surround, then filled to the top. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked: the ease of harvest & volume of potatoes made it a permanent way for me. so I built a shallow rised bed & surrounded that with fencing. Thus - the necessity for the quantity of leaves! I was trying to figure out an easy way of dealing with the wet leaves; I think I'll fill the old kennel, blow them with a leaf blower (like a giant hair dryer) and cover with a tarp for winter. I appreciate your input!
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 25, 2010
12:02 PM

Post #7735790

You could always mix 'em with blood meal to help 'em break down.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

April 26, 2010
9:56 AM

Post #7738772

I meant to add blood meal to my compost bin - I purchased the blood meal, and casually mentioned to hubby that I wanted to turn the old compost into the now empty bin (I have two bins) - next thing I knew he had completed the task! So the blood meal didn't get into the bin!

I tried a small experiment last summer with blood meal in compost, and noticed my strawberries really took off when I used the compost as mulch.
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

April 26, 2010
1:10 PM

Post #7739301

I once kick-started a carbon-rich compost bin that didn't want to heat up by using a rake handle to jab a couple of holes deep down through the top of the lumpy crud, into which I poured blood meal, followed by water. It took off within 24 hours.

This message was edited Apr 26, 2010 4:10 PM

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 2, 2010
11:08 AM

Post #7757136

PuddlePirate - thanks for the tip. I'll pass it along to hubby :)
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

May 2, 2010
11:29 AM

Post #7757220

Tell him that used beer works very well, too. It's high in nitrogen.

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 2, 2010
11:37 AM

Post #7757245

Used beer? Would that be the same as "tinkle?" (giggle) Unfortunately, my hubby can't drink beer, or alcohol with his medication, and I don't like beer :(
PuddlePirate
North Ridgeville, OH
(Zone 5b)

May 2, 2010
1:48 PM

Post #7757549

Yup! Used coffee, used juice, used water ... it's all good for compost!

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 2, 2010
1:54 PM

Post #7757567

Okay - I get it! Take a whiz in the compost - I can just see my 76 year old hubby being hauled away by the guys in blue - or just maybe, the guys in white coats (giggle)
lovedirtynails
Portland, OR

May 4, 2010
2:38 AM

Post #7762430

I'm glad this thread took off towards growing potatoes - I"m growing them for the first time this year, and had seen the method where a cage was erected around the potato. The guy just added old hay as the vines grew. I think he said he added kitchen waste and lawn clippings, too, just like a compost pile. Has anyone tried that?

I have some rather large (tomato?) cages the previous owner left behind. I guess they're about 3 feet in diameter and five feet high... would that be big enough to use? Do the vines grow up or out or both?

Honeybee, I am jealous. My husband, wonderful man that he is, is not prone to jump in and finish gardening tasks for me. How do you do it?



thanks

HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 4, 2010
2:35 PM

Post #7764099

lovedirtynails - hubby and I both grew up in England with home-grown vegetables. We know that our own vegetables are free from pesticides, are as fresh as they can possibly be, and are loaded with vitamins!

We've been married since 1965 (or was it 1964?) and have always worked as a team.
lovedirtynails
Portland, OR

May 6, 2010
7:41 AM

Post #7769120

HoneybeeNC, congrats on 45 years! I guess it's going to stick!

We are also organic growers. It's so easy here, in Portland, to be green. In fact, you might feel right at home here. We have perfect gardening weather.

anne



HoneybeeNC

HoneybeeNC
Charlotte, NC
(Zone 7b)

May 6, 2010
8:41 AM

Post #7769257

Anne, if it were up to me I would live in Oregon. One year we took the coast highway from Seattle to - can't remember the name of the town in Oregon - where we cut inland to catch a plane to San Fransico.

From the photos I've seen online, I think I'd like Oregon.

I think it was Oregon where we were not allowed to pump our own gas?
Katye
Sammamish, WA
(Zone 7b)

May 6, 2010
6:10 PM

Post #7770560

that's Oregon, HoneyBee!
Let us know if you'll be out this way - well, I'm in the Seattle area. Love to meet you!
lovedirtynails
Portland, OR

May 9, 2010
8:11 AM

Post #7777372

I wasn't born here, but I got here a soon as I could.

You probably cut over at Cannon Beach, highway 26. Beautiful little coast town.

I lived in Charlotte for a few years... in fact, I have some gardening books I bought there. Would you like them?
phkat
Libby, MT
(Zone 5b)

September 25, 2012
5:31 AM

Post #9285745

Did you ever end up getting a shredder? If so, which one? I'm thinking of getting one too but I have small branches from many fruit trees and what not, so with the research I did, I'm going to need one that does more than leaves. Like up to 2 inch diameter stuff I think. I'd like a bigger one but that's probably overkill for as often as I'd use it. ... Anyhow... tell me about what you got, if anything. Please. :-)

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

September 25, 2012
11:25 AM

Post #9286101

There's always tool rental places ... if you can rent a good one 6 times for the price of a marginal one, it might be a good deal. But if you can only rent it four times for that price, maybe not. If you don't have much storage space, and don't want to maintenace on it, renting looks better and better.

I was thinking of putting requests on local bulletin boards, trading something for the loan of a chipper.

I usually just sharpen my electric lawn mower blade and run back and forth over sticks, then rake up the chips and mow them again (several times).

I keep thinking about flipping the mower over, setting something like a bottomless trash can over the base, and feeding sticks in from the top. And then thinking about the Emergency Room trying to stitch my head back on if I tripped and fell into it!
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

September 25, 2012
12:56 PM

Post #9286168

Buy a chipper - it's cheaper than a new head, hands ,etc.

Damien tried the mower routine but our mower is so old and gutless he said it would just ruin the mower. We got the chipper with a 3" wood feed and the leaf feed. Only problem is if the stuff that is green isn't pretty dry it really wants to clog up the feed. We had to use a stick to jam the stuff down so it would spit out. Now I put stuff in bags ASAP to try to keep it dry. I have five bags waiting. I raked up a bag of leaves and got two more from neighbors. Hoping they go through easier.
tropicalnut777
Provo, UT
(Zone 5a)

September 25, 2012
4:16 PM

Post #9286301

i also hope ya dont try that idea rick..:)
my mower does a good job on the leaves.. last yr borrowed neighbours mower too..
had 2 kids mow down all my leaves.. big thing is..mow them over couple times..
the finer the better.. neighbours mower was a mulching one..and it did a great job..

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

September 25, 2012
6:33 PM

Post #9286397

Borrowed a leaf shredder last year and i was a slow job due to clogging.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

September 25, 2012
7:30 PM

Post #9286457

Yeah. I know what you mean. I guess if you mix dry stuff and small twigs in with the green stuff it might go through better

RickCorey_WA

RickCorey_WA
Everett, WA
(Zone 8a)

September 26, 2012
12:22 PM

Post #9287004

I have not yet had enough patience, or so much brush that I was very tempted to even TRY this theory, but it seems to me that it "should" work:

If you let twigs and banches sit in a damp pile for a year or two, and do keep it damp, and maybe throw some green yard waste in amongst the branchs, by the 2nd or third year it ought to be much easier to chip finely.

And, at that point, it "ought" to help push leaves through at the same time, even if they are somewhat damp.

Of course, if you let the leaves sit in a damp pile for that long, they won't need very much shredding.
Oberon46
(Mary) Anchorage, AK
(Zone 5b)

September 26, 2012
2:08 PM

Post #9287085

true... sigh. So much to figure out.
applefarmer2701
Vergennes, VT

May 23, 2013
1:17 PM

Post #9531399

I'm not sure how safe it is, but i am trying to make one out of an old flowtron by replacing the trimmer cord head with a small lawnmower blade. The flowtron does a decent job with just leaves, but the cord is so small that it can't handle anything else. The only draw back is that i have to pick everything up to dump it in, but i guess that's the case with the expensive shredders.

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