View Full Version : mulcher alternatives
22-03-2007, 09:56 AM
we don't have a pertol mower and we don't have a mulcher. At the moment we're clipping with secateurs which is tedious.
What are the alternatives for a pertl run mulcher? I really don't want to buy one of these power tools which usually brake within little time.
(I don't even want to buy anything any more because of the bad quality - everything breaks: thrills, garden tools, screws, even my hand push mower is broken!!)
I search for a simple sturdy method.
22-03-2007, 11:19 AM
A couple of rabbit tractors will keep your grass down. Rabbits will also either eat or chew sticks and branches.
I know it is tedious but if you cut the branches into bits with secatuers they will go into the compost, it will just take a few times for them to break down. Branches and even logs make great bases for compost heaps, again, keep recycling them. You will be surprised but they will break down faster than they can reproduce.
Branches also make good microclimates for seedlings by providing them with shade and shelter. I also use big branches on the paths for wet weather it saves me compacting the soil and seems to assist drainage. Big branches can be trimmed and used for garden edging and plant stakes or even primitive fencing.
Probably my bias showing here but I think chooks & rabbits should be in most backyards. They are both excellent ''pre-composters'' to - meaning what they dont eat they condition by chewing, scratching, pecking etc most materials making them more suitable for composting.
Just on the mower thing. Electric mowers work every time and do an excellent job.
22-03-2007, 07:15 PM
our chooks are in a pen. I din't let them scratch everywhere (when we meved and we didn't have a pen they really got everywere even in the house -no!). Rabbits don't lay eggs and I think we won't be able to slaughter one - and I don't like too much rabbit meat. I have to lock the chooks away as well because the children were always carrying them around and I think they didn't estimate this very much. But I use thick branches to protect plantings in the chicen run.
Anyway I don't think we're buying a mulcher we don't want so much stuff around. But perhaps sometzhing simle an axe??
23-03-2007, 12:15 AM
hedwig, do you mean you want to clip grasses and weeds? Are you wanting them for mulch, or you want them to break down in place?
One thing you can do is put a dark tarp over them for varying periods of time which blocks out the light. If you want to knock them down by half, cover them for a couple of weeks, check every few days to see how it responds. They'll get pale, but they'll come back at about half the height. If you want to break them all the way down to brown, leave the tarp on until they get that way, maybe a month? The wetter they are under that tarp, the faster they break down.
If you have small spaces you are needing to clip, you can put down soaked cardboard which also blocks the light. Keep it wet so it won't curl up and let in light.
I always let my clovers get as tall as they want, because I need them to go to seed. If I have to plant among them, I rip off a row's worth by hand, using that for mulch, and plant right in among the clovers. I make sure the clovers don't grow over the new seedlings. And I've found that now that I keep the grass away, the clovers are winning :)
23-03-2007, 10:53 AM
the grass clipping we put on the compost pile but for example prunings (our neighbour prunes a lot) are sometimes work to clip. how did people this in former times?
23-03-2007, 01:27 PM
hedwig, when I clip hedges with woody trimmings, I clip them in 3 inch pieces, then they are ready for the compost pile. It's a little more work, but it's so handy. And it teaches me not to let it get too long so I don't have to work too hard.
For woody cuttings you could dig a trench and bury them, the soil critters will work on them. Throw in some extra nitrogen like coffee grounds or urine, then cover them up, mulch over the top. Grow to the side of it, not right on top for the first year.
Most farmers long ago, and now, burned their woody cuttings. And now that we're all rushing to add charcoal to our soil, it's a great source, as long as you don't mind the smoky air pollution it creates and it doesn't create a fire danger. We use to burn stuff in a big metal barrel with a screen over the top to keep burning embers from flying out :)
23-03-2007, 03:21 PM
"... how did people this in former times?"
They used animals. Since they usually had the animals around anyway, they put them (often temporarily) in places where they would be useful for pruning and get fed, too. Sheep were the original lawnmowers, goats kept the brambles and shrubs down. Cows kept the pastures short in dry (fire) weather, and also kept the undersides of the trees all nicely level at the height they could reach. Horses stood in the pastures and looked pretty.
Do you happen to have a neighbor kid with a mower that you could 'rent'? If so, lay out all your mulch that a mower could handle (no large sticks), about 10-15cm high along a wall or fence, and have him mow through it. Make sure he understands that the side of the mower that blows the grass and debris out MUST face the wall, which will contain it. He can't just go up and down the wall in both directions. One direction only.
Otherwise, all I know is the deadly tedious work-by-hand.
26-03-2007, 01:53 PM
how about a good machette and some supressed aggression?
Japanese brush axes are dreamy tools... sharp carbon steel laminated in a resilient steel blade, a perfect angle between the blade and handle... bought one in japan years ago and lost track of it... I still mourn.
http://japanwoodworker.com/product.asp? ... t_id=13269 (http://japanwoodworker.com/product.asp?s=JapanWoodworker&pf_id=11.436.5&dept_id=13269)
Big prunings, I cut and stack and use for fuel wood.
I have left twiggy stuff in a heap, mixed with some leafy stuff, and alternately squished it down and urinated on it. It seems to rot pretty well, and makes a nice future planting site.
I have also dug trenches on contour and filled them with brush. I have also put brush on top of my food waste pits and it keeps the coyote out.
26-03-2007, 02:18 PM
the brush axe looks great , perhaps a birthdy present (but quite dangerous one..) I hope nobody would cut his finger...
Wereelse do you buy a machete ? I si tyour internet buissiness?
Ithink this is the easiest solution and it has not much parts to damage.
Hedwig - after cutting the top of my thumb off (nearly, some deft needle work saved it) I am really wary of one hand chopping devices when used for repetative work. I think that a tool like the japanese chopper becomes a real hazard if you are tired, having a bad day, trying to chop something over thick, etc. It a nice looking tool though. I would stick to secatures, then again you can lop your fingers pretty easily with them too but the action is more controlled than chopping. Hmmmmm - you need someone to come up with a heavy duty version of a chaff cutter with a flywheel to give momentum.
26-03-2007, 07:06 PM
whats a chaff cutter??? Never seen!. Yes ist's true and if you have little ones running around and you have always halve an eye looking after them.
27-03-2007, 09:22 AM
n. - Spreu, Häcksel
n. - Scherze, Flachserei
v. - spaßen mit, scherzen
Hedwig a chaff cutter is like a very very sharp fan that you push long dry grass through [with grain] to make it easier to store and feed to horses. They were on all farms until the horses went. Dangerous machines if you werent thinking.
27-03-2007, 09:22 PM
Hi floot,shurely nothing for a metropolitan backyard!
02-04-2007, 08:17 AM
Here's a couple of examples of manual chaff cutters -
an old Australian Bentalls Chaff Cutter, the sort of thing tht turns up at clearance sales:
...and a contempory Indian model: http://www.tnau.ac.in/tech/implements/fm6-1.htm
An old paper guillotine might do the job, too.
Paul, that Japan Woodworker site is terrific! There are some marvelous tools there. I have WWI British army machette which is both indestructable and indespensible. Good qualtiy cutting tools are a delight to use. Bad, cheap ones are not only disappointing, but dangerous.
Powered by vBulletin™ Version 4.1.1 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.