How to compost with a chipper-shredder machine

You probably bought your chipper or shredder to deal with the large amount of yard waste that falls to the ground every year. Chippers and shredders are great for pulverizing unwanted tree trunks, branches, twigs and other items that make their way into your yard, and they also have the added benefit of giving you free mulch and garden decoration. However, chipper shredders can also help you improve the quality of the soil in your garden as you compost organic matter to make a whole new breed of topsoil.

Lawn mower mulchers and yard trimmers have long used this philosophy by cutting up yard trimmings into small bits and letting them return to the ground in order to promote more growth and healthier soil. With the rise of organic and locavore culture, many gardeners are now turning to their own sources of rich soil instead of paying for the bagged stuff at the store.

Composting is a simple process that still does require some careful work. In order to get a compost that produces soil fairly quickly, you will have to use a combination of different types of waste materials. You will need a balance of nitrogen-rich or green matter and dead stuff, such as old twigs or logs. If you throw only logs into the chipper shredder, you will have some great hard mulch, but it will take a long time to decompose into soil. Likewise, a large amount of green items will get your compost too "hot," which can just turn your compost into an icky mess. Many avid composters suggest that you use your chippers, shredders and mulchers to make a 50-70 blend; 50-70% live matter with 30-50% dry leaves and twigs. Of course, this is just a starting point; you may have to experiment a bit in order to find the blend that produces soil in the shortest amount of time. Don't forget that kitchen scraps also count as live matter, too.

Nature's work

Once you have produced your small pieces with your chipper shredder, add in any additional materials like kitchen scraps and leave your compost bin alone. You will need to turn your compost regularly in order to mix up the matter, but otherwise, nature will do the rest of the work for you. As you are experimenting with blends, be sure to check the moisture content of your compost. If it is too wet, heat can build up and turn your compost to goo instead of nutrient-rich soil.

You may already have a shredder, chipper, mulcher or combination machine, but you may need a few other materials to get your compost going. Sears can help you find a compost bin and humidity/temperature gauges so you can quickly get started making your very own soil.

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