New Scary Chipper
In the end of the fall, I purchased a wood chipper that works as an attachment on the 2-wheel tractor. It is a sturdy wood chipper that uses the engine of the 2-wheel tractor in stand-still mode. Instead of servicing two engines, one for the tractor and one for the chipper, I can use the Honda engine that I already have on the tractor.
The power take out is called PTO in the farm business. There are a few standards and all of them have in common that there is an outer shaft that is fixed and an inner shaft that is rotating.
Today, I finally had a sunny day and time to test the machine.
I had some pruning branches from birches, beeches, rhododendron and sorbus trees.
The chipper is out
It took a while to figure out how to operate the engine without holding on to the safety clutch of the tractor. Had I only read the instruction manual, I would immediately understand why a velcro band was supplied, that snugly fit around the dead-man-grip.
The chipper was a scary beast of 100 kg steel, most of it rotating at full speed. It pulled branches into the shredder with a passion that I have never experienced before. I realized the power of the pull, and how risky a shawl or loose fitting clothes could be.
All the different kinds of woods were devoured without hesitation. The most difficult were the rhododendron branches, since they are both dense and curvy. The beech was hard, but the machine was harder.
The chipper is actually a two-in-one-machine. From the top, I can put in small branches, up to 3cm/1", and these pieces are completely shredded.
From the side, I can insert slender branches up to 6 cm/2", and they are chipped by a classic chipping wheel.
Therefore, depending on where I insert the branches, I get a different kind of output.
Trees are cannibals. They love eating other trees' chips.
I use the wood-chips as soil amendment to increase the soil carbon and to share the nutrients from the bark. According to organic apple-grower Michael Phillips (see his excellent book - the Holistic Orchard ), the small branch woodchips (a.k.a. ramial woodchips) are a high-nutrient booster for all fruit trees.
Since I have most experience on sandy soils, all wood chips help to improve the soil structure. Also at our new place, we have a very sandy soil.
We have also started winter propagation of berry bushes. Cuttings of red and black currants are placed in sandy soil, watered and with a little electric bottom heat, they make new roots in a few weeks.
Current (Ribes) cuttings - with a hood to keep heat and humidity inside
The cuttings already start to bud out, partly thanks to the bottom heat. They will stay here for another week or two, then I will switch to gooseberries and then mini-kiwis.
Cuttings are starting to develop beautiful buds