Something like this one, but probably not from Amazon.
Between pruning and heavy snow damage, we lost a pile of our fruit, spruce, and lilac branches. Over the winter we tried to burn some of them in the fire pit, but that was futile as it took more good wood to keep the fire going just to burn up a bit of lilac.
We lamented about how nice it would be to have a chipper so we could mulch all of the piles up and at least get some benefit from the destruction.
We tried advertising locally to see if someone had one that they would like to rent out, but nobody responded, so we started looking at nearby rental businesses.
The problem is that the closest rental place to carry wood chippers is two hours away in Dawson Creek. There’s four hours of driving and at least $50 in gas on top of the $150 a day rental fee.
That’s for a chipper that will handle up to 3″ limbs or trees.
We couldn’t justify spending $1000+ on a new machine to mulch up a few piles of branches each year, so we started to look at local classified ads to see if there were any used ones for sale.
There wasn’t, but I did notice that there were electric chippers for as little as $200 when I Googled it, so I started to look into that option.
We really liked the design of the Earthwise GS70015, but it was more than double the price of similar units without the catch bin.
Then we found the same one with a different paint job at Canadian Tire for $199 and started to do a little research and comparisons. Overall, it seemed like a much better option, because we could easily trim our branches small enough to fit through the 1 1/4″ opening with the Cyndi Loppersand we loved the no cleanup aspect with the built in bin.
I had read a bunch of complaints about the product and the screws rusting into the blades and making it nearly impossible to get them out without stripping them, so I took the advice of one reviewer and put anti-seize on all of the screws before use.
Then we went out and fired that sucker up. It made great sized chips for mulch, and once the branches were cut down to size, it gobbled them up quite fast. It didn’t take too many crabapple branches to make this little box of gold.
I’m going to do up enough to get 8″ of this stuff in the chicken’s run and let them work it around and build up some good compost. I wanted to try it in the coop for bedding, but I’m told that it isn’t a good idea for a few different reasons. All of the reasons include the girls’ health, so I don’t want to chance it. I was just hoping to save a bit of dough, because the bales of shavings are $10 a piece at the local feed store (which doesn’t seem bad after looking at Amazon), and that all adds up.
We also plan on making some good mulch for around the trees and in the gardens, so I will play around with the green/carbon ratios when I’m doing the chipping. I’m sure that I can find the right amount somewhere on YouTube.
Another thing we want to try is hugelkultur, so this is another way we will be able to use the chips and the bigger wood together. I am going to look further into it, but I do want to get at least one bed going this year.
I also got thinking that we might get a smoker and see if we can dry the fruit wood chips enough to use them for that. We have a bunch of crabapple, plum and apricot branches to do, so it would be free fuel. I mean why bury them when you can smoke meat to go along with your fresh veggies? 😉
Anyhow, if you are in the market for a little chipper, and you don’t mind a little extra work, you can save yourself quite a bit of money and hassle by shopping around for a small electric one. I can’t vouch for any of them right now, but this one seems like a good deal, and works really good so far. I will definitely update this if things go awry though.
P.S. If you get the Canadian Tire one, look at my review there. It will tell you about getting new blades from the company. What it won’t tell you is that they will send you free ones if you call before you have had it for two years and they wear out. That is all done over the phone, so you don’t have to take them into CT.
That’s if they weren’t lying to me, and if things don’t change in the next two years.