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best way to burn yard debris... ?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by maverick06, Nov 21, 2010.

  1. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    I live in the suburbs and over the year collect a decent amount of yard debris (sticks from the trees, forsythia, wisteria, and other woody bush trimings, only a few leaves that ride along with some of the sticks). But my township doesnt collect yard debris, I dont have woods to toss the stuff into, and I dont want to pay for yard waste collection.

    For the last 3 years I would just collect the stuff, break it up, and toss it into my woodstove to burn it. But thats very annoying work, takes a lot of time and is messy bringing it all inside... specifically all the forsythia and wisteria prunings).

    So I have been thinking about getting a wood chipper. That way I can toss all of the debris into the chipper, collect the chippings in brown bags, and let them dry in the shed. Then the bags can just be tossed in the woodstove. This seems to be a lot easier.

    Any thoughts with this approach?

    Thanks
    Rick

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  2. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    You might have a problem with moist (possibly moldy) bags if you put green clippings in the bags right away. If you could dry the yard debri first, then chip and bag it I think it would have a higher degree of success for what you are trying to do.
  3. adrpga498

    adrpga498 Minister of Fire

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    Chimnea? I burn lots of twigs and such.
  4. mesuno

    mesuno Member

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    Lots of processing for limited BTUs.

    With the twiggy yard waste I usually make biochar - a very useful soil improver and it removes carbon from the atmosphere. I've used lots of different approaches including retorts and simple open fires. My final conclusion is that you can burn much more in a shorter period of time using a simple open bonfire. Once it has burned down and pretty much stopped flaming spray water over it so you can get close and use a shovel to dump the embers in a bucket of water.

    I find it smokes least if you use a top lit method - put some of the driest material on the very top and light that, rather than trying to light around the base.

    Once you have the biochar wet and cold you can add it to your garden beds directly, or break it up a bit and add it to your compost heap. It seems to do yield better results in the soil if put through the compost first, as it absorbs all the nutrients from the compost.

    <a >A bit about biochar</a>
    <a >How I make biochar</a>

    NB: Biochar is not simply wood ash, it is the black charcoal let behind when a fire is extinguished. In this form it improves soil fertility, promotes soil microorganisms and reduces leeching of mineral and fertilisers from soil.
  5. mesuno

    mesuno Member

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  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the link Mesuno. I intend to do some reading on this.


    I agree with Carbon_Liberator. Don't place in bags until it is dry because it will not dry in the bag.


    You could get a chipper but those things are not cheap. We've thought about one but the expense to us is more than it is worth. I'd simply stack the stuff for a time and then build a little bonfire.
  7. mesuno

    mesuno Member

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    Backwoods - you'll get hooked once you get started :p Just warning you.

    Oh, and a chance for some REALLY impressive flames. I've given up using oil drums for them, but when I did burns that way flames 20ft tall were not uncommon. Don't burn on a windy day and have LOTS of water on hand.
  8. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I take it you can't burn a small campfire in your back yard so that's out. Our township lets you drop off green waste at no charge. Just ask around, co-energy plants pay $'s to get that stuff to burn so more places are accepting it for drop off. Yeah it's a hassle to load up but that's the way it is.
  9. Cowboy Billy

    Cowboy Billy Minister of Fire

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    At my brothers we put it in his back yard fire pit and burn it. And at my place I can call for a burn permit and burn it it a big pile.

    But I prefer to burn at the farm!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks Mesuno

    I have been wanting to do that for a while. I found where I have had a big bonfire and spread it out when there was a lot of charcoal left is where the fields grew the best.

    Here's a different charcoal burner for you. http://www.twinoaksforge.com/BLADSMITHING/MAKING CHARCOAL.htm


    Dennis:

    Check out a few auctions. My Dad bought a nice chipper for $55 this spring. And here's a link to more about the benefits of charcoal in soil.

    http://www.farmallcub.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10694

    Billy
  10. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    many towns complied with different Federal and State regulations to continue and to apply for grants for garbage and waste collections.
    Media, Pa, would appear to be one of them.
    *


    * YARD WASTE COLLECTION PROGRAM
    Effective April 1, 2008, Media Borough complied with the newly enforced Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) yard waste requirements for mandated municipalities (recycling) and those receiving DEP performance grants.

    The Borough instituted a monthly curbside collection program (January through September) consisting of yard debris, trimmings and leaves. No grass trimmings will be accepted. Sticks/branches will be accepted provided they are no wider than four (4) inches in diameter and no longer than four (4) feet. This collection takes place on the first Wednesday of the month from January through September..

    Curbside collection items must be placed in recycled bags, which will be available at Media Borough Hall between the hours of 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

    Residents may also drop off yard waste (shrubs, tree trimmings and similar vegetative materials, excluding grass trimmings) at the county's compost farm on the third Wednesday of each month (January through September). Delaware County's Compost Farm is located on the grounds of the Chester Transfer Station at 2300 Concord & Incinerator Roads, Chester. Hours will be from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Proof of residency will be required.

    Please contact the Borough Office at 610-566-5210 for more information




    http://www.mediaborough.com/






    Years ago farmers would burn trees and branches not just to be rid of them but to have the wood ashes and charcoal to spread on their fields.

    The smoke today might drive neighbors crazy unless you could pick a day the wind was blowing the right way.

    Course burning that crap in a wood stove could drive the same neighbors crazy.

    I have a neighbor that burns green brush and cardboard in his back yard.
    The brush wouldn't be so bad - it's like wet leaves - more annoying than anything ( no asthma here) but then he starts burning household trash, too. Including plastic.
  11. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the input guys. No outdoor fires are permitted in my township which makes it much more challanging to dispose of things like bushes.....We used to be allowed to have open burning, in the last year all burning was banned, with no alternative disposal provided. This is why i was trying to find a way to get it inside in a more managable way.

    And thats not so much a bonfire but a forrest fire!!! HAHA
  12. louieva

    louieva New Member

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    Maybe just dump them into a corner of your yard like a compost pile? Eventually everything breaks down...

    Chipper sounds nice but expensive, at least for a good one.
  13. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Mav,
    I live right down the road from you in newtown sq. Here I know you are not supposed to burn open fires. But there is one loophole that a friend of mine takes advantage of. He claims that you can have open fires as long as it is for cooking. He burns his yardwaste at night and always has a cooler of hotdogs and marshmallows next to his fire, as well as his hose. He claims that the police have come to his house and when they saw he was "cooking" they didn't give him any trouble. Also lots of my neighbors burn in firepits and chimeneas and have never had a problem.
  14. Flatbedford

    Flatbedford Minister of Fire

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    I am lucky to have vacant land across the street for me where I can dump all that stuff in the woods and let it go back to the earth. Without that land across the street I would be in trouble. My town will come with their chipper for brush and small limbs if I call them.
  15. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    If you can chip it then use it as a mulch, or put it in a long-term compost pile. I have composted a surprising amount of yard debris.
  16. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    I have thought of those little chippers, but I hear they really are not that stong, they take too long, they do not handle large enought branches. I get so many branches around here I would need a commercial chipper. I would love a bonfire but we are not permitted. Perhaps several small fires would work in a fire pit. So far I am stacking mine down the hill, out of site.
  17. mesuno

    mesuno Member

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    Do a google search for

    hugelkultur

    It is a method of growing vegetables in piles of brash wood. They seem to need less fertiliser and less watering.
  18. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I have a little chipper for sale. Cheap. :)

    (PS: It's a fair amount of work chipping sticks and shredding leaves, but if you have nowhere else to put them, like in the suburbs, or if you really have a hankering to make something out of it like compost or whatever, it's not a bad option.)
  19. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    While cleaning up the last of the fall leaves yesterday, I collected the sticks I found and made a stack in the garden. I added wood splitting chips and bark to the top and lit it on fire. Once it was burning nicely, I doused it. I ended up with some charcoal and lots of partially burnt and charred sticks and wood chips, as well as some badly charred jalepenos that were left over from harvest. Whatever is left will be worked into the soil. I hope it helps.
  20. mesuno

    mesuno Member

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    Wood duck - if you have a compost heap going, preferably one that is nearly done, turn the charcoal into the heap and give it a bit of a mix around. It really helps the biochar by inoculating it with beneficial microogranisms and nutrients. Otherwise when you dig it in it can actually remove some nutrients from the soil.

    What I do in my burns is let it burn right down to proper embers and then use a shovel to dump the embers in large metal bin full of water. The texture is much more crumbly then, and you get smaller bits which break down in the soil more easily.
  21. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Mine will be mixed into the garden soil with a bunch of chicken manure and whatever garden waste I come by before I mix it. I thought about letting it burn more, but for my first small attempt I didn't want to over burn. I have read that small twigs are an excellent source of recalcitrant carbon for the soil, so whether I get charcoal or twigs or something in between, I can't go wrong. I am sure I'll try again soon, and perhaps I can find a barrel before that time.

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