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Monday, March 09, 2009

Chipper Review: Part 2, Chipping

Short version of the review: I like this chipper quite a bit and now that I have it, if I didn’t have it, I’d miss it.

Long version of the review: This Saturday, it was a beautiful day in central Indiana, with a high temperature of 76 F, so I wasted no time in putting my newly assembled chipper to work.

The same company who sent me a compost tumbler to review last year, sent me this electric wood chipper a few weeks ago to try out in my garden.

So with the chipper in tow, I headed out to the backyard to put it to work, to see what it would do for spring clean up.

At our first stop, I cut down the “winter interest”, a variety of perennials I left standing last fall, mostly tall Sedum and Shasta daisies.

The pile started out like this…

And ended up like this.
That’s everything all chipped up in one bin. When I previewed this picture with a few other gardeners, the most often made comment was that there are still some big pieces. More on that later.

Next I tackled the grapevine…


Which ended up like this.
And so I continued around the yard.

This evening I went back out and did some more chipping, mostly perennials, and finished up the clean up in the back yard.

How do I like this chipper?

I like it quite a bit and now that I have it, if I didn’t have it, I’d miss it.

I love the portability of it. It was easy for me to pull around the yard to where I cut back the perennials and then chip them right there. With my other chipper shredder, I generally set it up back in the garden with a tarp cloth beneath it and then I hauled all the trimmings back to it. Both chippers, by the way, are electric so you can only go as far as your extension cord will let you.

I love the plastic bin that all the chippings fall into. With my other chipper shredder, I’d end up with a pile of stuff on the ground that I had to either scoop up and dump in the compost bin, or gather up in the tarp and carry to the bin that way. With this one, I just carry the plastic bin back to the compost bin. It’s large enough to hold quite a bit, but not big enough to be too heavy. It makes clean up nice and neat.

I love the relative quiet of it. For something that has a motor and is chipping, it doesn’t make all that much noise. I still wore ear protection, but then I usually do when running something that is consistently loud. Here’s a video to show it in action, with sound.



Disclaimer, I wouldn’t normally feed a branch quite that long into the chipper because it could whip around and hit you in the face if you aren’t careful. I also wore eye protection but never noticed any chips flying out.

Now, about the size of those chippings...

The directions are pretty clear that some larger pieces might not be completely cut up on a first pass, especially for softer material like I was chipping up. You can adjust the size of the opening to be smaller, which helps, and I also found that if I fed several dried stems through at once, I was less likely to end up with large pieces.

If you check out the electric wood chipper website, you’ll see a picture of someone chipping up much larger branches than I’ve attempted so far. I did chip up some redbud tree branches and they came out in nice little pieces.

Those branches were probably about half an inch at the base. I personally don’t think I’d try to chip anything bigger than an inch in diameter and I think that’s probably going to take some time to chip, but I haven’t had a branch that big to try yet, so I still need to test that out.

Some other features I didn’t get to test…

What happens when it jams up. It is supposed to go into a reverse mode automatically if it jams up, but I never jammed it up, so I didn’t get to test this feature. I did at one point have some stringy stuff spinning around on the cutting wheel, but after feeding through a few dry sticks, it cleared itself. I do think it is less likely to jam up than my other chipper-shredder and that auto-reverse feature will be nice.

What happens with green plant material. It’s early spring here at May Dreams Gardens, so everything I have to chip is dried up or leafless. As soon as I have some branches with leaves, I’m going to run them through and see what happens. And this fall, I might even send a few corn and sunflower stalks through it and see how they come out.

In the meantime, I have some Spirea shrubs that I like to cut down to the ground every few years, and this is the year for it. Last time I did it, I ended up putting the trimmings in the trash. Not this year. This year, I’ll bring along my new chipper and chip as I go, right into the bin and then it will all go into the compost tumbler.

(The Crocus blooms have nothing to do with this post, I just thought they were pretty.)

26 comments:

MA said...

ECG. And you know what I mean. That, and chipping sodburry, Woman! Chipping sodburry.

Cindy, My Corner of Katy said...

Here's to many chipper days ahead! I don't have one and I miss it, thanks to your review!

Katie said...

Very interesting Carol! I am in the market for a chipper as well, and this one sounds like it fits the bill on every account of what I am looking for.

Leslie said...

The visual was great...it made me want to be able to do that. Just think of all the compost if I could chip my own stuff!

Darla said...

I haven't thought of getting a chipper before? This is wonderful. The crocuses have everything to do with the post, it's a garden blog and it's almost Spring, silly!!

Daphne said...

I'm glad the crocus blooms are just decoration. I was worried that your enthusiasm had gotten the better of you when you had them at the top of the chipper post.

Janet said...

Carol, so I guess you are only limited by the length of the electric cord? Looks like something we all could use. I always have so much debris to haul up to the dump. Would be nice to use it in my own garden!

Lancashire rose said...

Carol- I am reading your chipper articles with great interest. If you saw the pile of trimmings I have you would know why. With no shredder any more I showed your article to D and he seemed in favor of a new purchase. He just hates that unsightly pile out back so anything to get rid of it. The question would still be which one. Your old trusty one or this new toy. I did think the chips were a little long compared with the old clunky noisy gas driven chipper we had but as you say maybe that can be adjusted.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Very thorough review; including the video really helped. If I had a place to store it, I would get this chipper. We could certainly use it.

Kathy said...

I agree with the others who say it is a good review. The photos and video help a lot. And I like that the chipper and the tumbler have a partnership going; the two together are better than either one by itself. I think the compost tumbler works a lot better when all the pieces are chopped up.

Laura said...

I can't tell you how frustrated I get with my chipper; it jams all the time and is a pain in the rear to fix. I also end up blowing a fuse when I use it.

The chipper you are testing looks like a good one (esp. that 'reverse when jammed' feature!).

Unfortunately, it's not in my budget this year :(

mss @ Zanthan Gardens said...

I'm really entranced by this chipper! Many years ago I bought a large gas-powered one from Sears for about $700. It did a good chop of cutting up large stuff but it would jam with long string plants like lantana. The real problem though is it was almost impossible to start. I had it in for tune-ups to try to address the problem but even the strong man of the household could not get it started. So I gave it away.

I really want a chipper. I would use it constantly, I know. An electric one would be just the thing, too. I recently got an electric mower and I love it. I like the features you noted like the tray to catch the trips. That seems really smart.

Well, I have a birthday coming up. Maybe this is what I'll get.

healingmagichands said...

Well, this review doesn't answer the question I had which was about green stuff. I can wait for that information, since we still have a chipper/shredder that works just fine. It is very loud, but it is also very powerful, and except for its habit of getting indigestion from green stuff, is quite satisfactory.

I am afraid that this might be a little too small for our purposes. The pile of stuff that needs to go through the grinder is about one cubic yard right now. How long would your chipper take to process it?

Also, the results seem awfully big chunks to me. They are smaller than what you started with, but I would think that those chopped branches would take a very long time to compost.

So one more thing. You don't have any problem with funguses on your grapevines? All the vineyard and grape information we have indicates that all grapevine and grape leaves should be burned rather than composted to avoid the spread of fungal and viral diseases from year to year. We have a beautiful spring bonfire every year from the vineyard trimmings on this place.

Entangled said...

This sounds like a good chipper. The price is way higher than the one I killed, so maybe I was too frugal when I bought my first one. Thanks for the review!

JGH said...

Ok, my boss just looked over my shoulder, caught me looking at a chipper video and said, squinting, "What the heck are you looking at?" Why the May Dreams Chipper Video of course! You've got the whole office entranced.

Seriously, very cool to see and seems very do-able for most of my backyard tasks.

inadvertent farmer said...

This is one of my 'wished for' pieces of garden equipment.

You have just convinced it it need to move to the 'must have' list! Kim

Layanee said...

Looks like you had some fun with your chipper! Gratifying work and I can't believe how warm it was there!

Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp said...

Carol -- a great, informative piece on the electric chipper/shredder and first-time experience. I've lusted after a chipper/shredder for a long time and had never considered an electric model. Thank you!

Carol said...

Hi, everyone and thanks for the great comments and questions. I've exchanged some emails with the company and as I suspected, this chipper isn't designed for 'green, wet' plant material. I know from experience with my other chipper that it definitely isn't either. That's what would always clog it up. I suspect what we would need for that kind of stuff is a giant blender, just add water (ha!)

This is also NOT a leaf shredder, it really is designed for chipping up branches. Their suggestion on corn stalks, sunflower stalks, and material like that is to let it dry out some first, then chip it. It may still come out in larger pieces, but you can choose to send it back through. (Corn stalks choked up my other chipper and was a big mess to unclog, as I recall).

If forced to choose between my old one and this one, I'd choose this one. Portability, collection bin, and I could not clog it up, all weigh in its favor. I'll still keep the other one, and pull it out on occasion, especially in the fall or when I really, really, want smaller pieces and have good dry material to chip.

I'll post more later in the spring as I continue to use this in my garden.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Annie in Austin said...

We had a big Sears chipper in IL where we needed size and power to turn large tree branches into material for paths. Philo & I worked together - as MSS notes- no way I could ever start or run it.
Your electric chipper would have come in handy for the smaller stuff from beds & shrub borders, and I could have done it myself.

Loved your video! Now that we're on a much smaller lot in Texas, we don't need the big chipper and the electric one is looking very interesting!

Just one warning: Yucca leaves + chipper = Chipper FAIL.

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

perennialgardener said...

Looks like it did a great job Carol. I don't blame you, this is one piece of equipment that would be quite handy to have in the garden. Thanks for sharing the video too!

beckie said...

Carol, great review. sounds like something I could really use to get rid of the 'winter interest' as you say. I did one small bed this past weekend and ended up with a pile 3' high and about that big around!

How great for you to have another wonderful garden tool to use!

Astrid said...

I've been a long-time reader of your blog (been too shy to comment). Love the idea of a chipper. We could really use one...except that we have black walnuts around here and I'd be too nervous accidentally mixing that in.

I'm wondering...how much corn do you usually plant? What spacing do you use and are you successful in growing it? We've tried for several years to grow corn and it's been a dud every year. Now I've got raised beds (thanks in part to your photos!) and I'm thinking we could try again. Any thoughts?

Sherry at the Zoo said...

I think you need to bring that chipper down my way....we have some branches, and a few more branches, and some other 'stuff' that would be great to test it's endurance!

your little sister....

Enlighten said...

If you live in a northern climate where the growing season is short, it might be to your advantage to move your garden indoors. Obviously, this cannot be accomplished physically, but a small scale version of it is not beyond reason.
How to Grow Vegetables and Herbs Indoors

Kerri said...

My husband and I enjoyed your review, Carol. It looks (and sounds) like a good machine. Loved the video. That was a nice addition.
Happy chipping!
The compost bin sounds good too. That's quick compost!