Sunday, May 26, 2013

mulch to compost


We recently bought a 7hp electric start mulcher.



I had become tired of travelling to the tip with prunings, to pay for leaving them there. Though it is possible at the same rubbish tip to bring trailer and shovel and load as much green chipped material as you want, this is an irksome thing and the product uncertain and pretty rough cut.

The new mulcher has enabled us to reduce prunings up to 75mm (3 inches) in diameter to fine chip via a chute to a blade on the side of the flywheel. There is also a top hopper feeding to a hammer mill, which is producing an astonishingly fine product.

harshest editing!

We have learned the first lesson in managing the mulcher: check constantly to see that you are not overloading the mill. If you feed at a sensible rate, and mix brittle stick with softer material, the mill product is cleared fairly swiftly. The height of the machine allows an easy peak over the rim of the chute. Lid lowered when brittle sticks dropped in.

On rubber tyres, weighing 70kg or so, it is easy to tip and trolley the machine around the garden. And the garden small enough to bring material to it. The mulcher uses a little petrol: but I no longer need a petrol mower and I will not need to take stuff to or from the tip. The electric start is wonderful, having had great problems with a pull start mulcher in the past.

Our garden is hungry for good soil. compost, growing material. This especially the case, of course, with raised beds, which are large to fill and will require replenishment often enough. We can now make a lot.

The mulcher also relieves me of the grief caused by the modern accumulation of packaging and paper. The first thing in this category that it consumed was its own cardboard packaging. We have a weekly garbage collection and a fortnightly collection of recyclable material: paper, plastic and metal. With two dogs, three hens and composters, we have little 'garbage' to send away. I have now been able to radically reduce our contribution to recycling by removing the paper and cardboard from the bin to the mulcher. And we are getting an amazing product.

Glarey winter day makes for difficult photography.
In the middle, the mulcher.
Right foreground, paper and cardboard left out in the rain to soften and open, plus some plant material.
To the left, a mound of mulcher product: paper -> big confetti, cardboard -> fawn fibre.

Also added, some old rotted palm trunk material, see below what wonderful
material like peat moss it makes.

Product:
fine brown, almost like coffee grounds: rotted palm trunk
stick and shred green: plant prunings
tattered squares of white: paper
(at the top/back) fawn, fine, hairy, fluffy—like stuff from a vacuum cleaner bag: cardboard
This shredded mulch material includes an array of minerals and has a very high carbon content. Composting requires carbon and nitrogen in a ratio near 4:1 to work quickly. We will add manures and existing compost (rich in micro-organisms from bacteria and fungi to bugs and worms) to produce a high grade soil from this. And try some short cuts. Winter seedlings have sent petitions asking to be planted out very soon. 

Black and coloured ink have been suspected as possible chemical problems in gardens. My recall is that Max Lindegger established in the 1990s that the amounts of chemical likely to be involved are potentially beneficial rather than harmful in mulch.




5 comments:

  1. I love your site! You will be in our prayers and thoughts! Nice and informative post
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  2. Thanks very much Hajj and Umrah. We hope to hear your ideas too! Much to be learned from each other!

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  3. Nice Dennis - is it loud when mulching with it? I hired a mulcher back in suburban Sydney and it was the loudest thing - neighbours paid for me to hire it for a second day/stop since it was their mums 70th bday coincidentally and I'd only hired it for one day. Kind of left me feeling awkward and annoyed. Mostly at the insanely loud mulcher.

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  4. Nice Dennis - is it loud when mulching with it? I hired a mulcher back in suburban Sydney and it was the loudest thing - neighbours paid for me to hire it for a second day/stop since it was their mums 70th bday coincidentally and I'd only hired it for one day. Kind of left me feeling awkward and annoyed. Mostly at the insanely loud mulcher.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Aneurine! I've added your interesting blog to links in right column. THAT should drive your blogging ahead in your new location.

      Oops, timing is everything, sorry you had that experience. I am sure my machine smaller and quieter than things rented. I certainly use ear protection and have located it when working in the backyard with a shed blocking sound from directly hitting my neighbours' windows, otherwise close. I have neighbours who use mowers and woodworking machinery, etc, the sounds are not entirely beyond that range, or no more than double, or tuning a motorbike, also not unknown here... oh and the other week a neighbour had a spectacular native pine at least 20 metres high, taken down through a whole day, chipped or sliced for firewood. Enough wood to make a house. So people know the sound of giant mulchers too.

      Sensible in a suburban environment to use the mulcher at decent hours. And it's not in use as often as mowers.

      Speaking of 70th birthdays, mine soon: a friend remarked today that he knows no one else to whom he can give a load of manure as birthday present and be thanked... :-)

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