shammock112
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:25 pm

Mulch from Old Garden Plants

Hi, I would like to make mulch from my spent garden plants like tomatoes, corn and peas. Does anyone have suggestions for the best chipper/shredder that will be suited for this type of material? I was looking at small gas chippers but some comments said small vine plants would not chop and pass through the hopper. Any suggestions please.

PaulF
Greener Thumb
Posts: 804
Joined: Tue Nov 09, 2010 10:34 pm
Location: Brownville, Ne

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

Are you making mulch or compost? Either way be careful that you do not put diseased plants into a compost pile unless you are very sure it heats up to the point where pathogens are thoroughly cooked and killed. I would be wary of any tomato vines into a compost pile; absolutely not as mulch.

I have a large Troy-Bilt chipper/shredder that does a great job, but still if vines are on the green side they do not get shredded and can plug up the works. I think most chipper/shredders will do OK on dead stuff.
Paul F

shammock112
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Aug 15, 2015 1:25 pm

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

Great advice, thanks for your reply. My intentions were to use the spent vegetable plants, after they have dried in the sun for a week, to make a compose pile that would eventually make it's way into my garden.

CharlieBear
Green Thumb
Posts: 590
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 9:19 pm
Location: Pacific NW

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

I wouldn't take the plants out of the ground and dry them first, as that tends to make them harder to cut up. How small you make the pieces will help determine how fast it composts of you can simply cut them up in say 6" pieces with a pruner by hand as well. Remember, compost has to be moist to compost quickly and as reasonably high temps, so drying out the plants is counter productive. I stopped wasting energy shredding plant materials, other than really tough things like grape vines. I find a quick rough chop works fine. Note you also need as mixture of green as well a brown materials to get the compost really going unless you just want to wait for it to rot. By the way peas rot down so quickly I just cut each into several pieces or tear them as I pull them up and throw them in. I compost very young tomato plants that bolt in the greenhouse, but not mature ones. To do that you would have to be sure they don't have any disease at all and they don't go through any of the shredder very well. Also add leaves if you can get them, spent hay, as well as vegetable peelings and so forth.

keberle
Newly Registered
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 19, 2016 3:43 am

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

I read the comments about a chipper/shredder. I am a member of a large community garden, about 100 plots. We have been making compost by chopping up material with a lawn mower. It is labour intensive. We were thinking a chipper/shredder would help. We are willing to invest $1,500 on a larger gas powered unit. Trouble is we can't find anyone that has used a chipper/shedder for mostly green material. Most people use them for trees and branches. All videos I have found shown the same. Any advice or recommendation for a commercial grade chipper/shredder for breaking down green material ranging from sunflower stalks to potato tops would be appreciated.

imafan26
Mod
Posts: 11610
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 1:32 pm
Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

Our community garden thought about that too, we definitely have enough material since we have 465 plots. The issue we had was theft. A commercial chipper would be stolen and someone would have to be willing to keep it at their house and trailer it in whenever we had a work day. We have already had chain saws, tools, and tillers stolen from locked storage units so we tell people not to leave anything they would miss in the garden. I only leave a bucket, a shovel and a hoe in my garden. I have to bring in the pruners, loppers, hand tools, bow rake, weedwhacker and whatever else I occasionally need when I need it . It is a hassle. A shovel and hoe was the basic things I always need to have around. I don't have expensive ones and they do have fiberglass handles since the termites ate the handle of the pick I forgot at the garden in a few months.

I usually don't have enough browns to compost so I send my green waste to the city greenwaste recycler. I have mostly weeds anyway and they have to be hot composted to keep them from coming back. I have used cornstalks for mulch but not soft material like tomatoes or greens. They melt down too fast.

I can give some of the greens to the worms. I have done trench composting.

I usually use newspaper for mulch. I cut the plastic bags the potting soil comes in to fit the pots. It works well to keep weeds down and to hold a little more moisture. The plastic bags work better than weed cloth sometimes because they are thicker.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

User avatar
rainbowgardener
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25303
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 11:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

shammock112 wrote:Hi, I would like to make mulch from my spent garden plants like tomatoes, corn and peas. Does anyone have suggestions for the best chipper/shredder that will be suited for this type of material? I was looking at small gas chippers but some comments said small vine plants would not chop and pass through the hopper. Any suggestions please.
If as the other posts suggest, what you want is to put them in a compost pile, please read the composting basics and composting 101 threads here: https://www.helpfulgardener.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=35

Your garden wastes are mostly "greens," moist and nitrogen heavy. For good composting they need to be mixed with "browns," dry and carbon heavy.

But to put them in a compost pile, unless you are trying for very fast composting, they don't really need to be shredded (except hard corn stalks). Just use your hand pruner to cut them in smaller pieces (like maybe a foot long or so for tomato vine). Pea vines are small and thin and don't need to be chopped at all, just throw them in.
Twitter account I manage for local Sierra Club: https://twitter.com/CherokeeGroupSC Facebook page I manage for them: https://www.facebook.com/groups/65310596576/ Come and find me and lots of great information, inspiration

toxcrusadr
Greener Thumb
Posts: 969
Joined: Thu Sep 09, 2010 8:50 pm
Location: MO

Re: Mulch from Old Garden Plants

Rainbow: the original post was from a year ago so they may not see your (entirely correct!) answer.

I rarely chop my greens except for very large or long stuff, and I use a machete or shovel for that. Greens will decompose pretty fast, especially if you turn the pile which helps break up materials. It may be more efficient to just turn your piles a couple of times rather than put all that effort into chopping. Especially if you can get a loader in there to do it several times a year - either borrowed, rented or provided by the City.

Totally agree with the need for Browns. If you keep a supply on hand you can layer with the greens as they are added. The first turning will mix them together pretty well.
Tox

Return to “Composting Forum”