For us garden composters,

is there some genius out there who can devise a hand (or foot) powered leaf  and twig chopper?   I'm groing old cutting this stuff by hand with scissors or shears.   It must be rugged, and able to chew up wet stuff as well as dry, brittle or stringy.   Mother Earth needs you!!

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djsc7 years ago
I'm looking for the exact same thing. so far I have to burn it as there is so much.
I have seen the heavy bladed flywheel in old farm magazines, I'm thinking of something bicycle powered?
seandogue7 years ago
Well, if you can wind up a nice heavy flywheel by hand, you can generate sufficient torque to drive a blade thru the twig(s), so some form of modified leaf/twig shredder might form a good basis for your idea. I do know from years of experience pushing a mower that they are not good candidates for the job (although that was a clever idea and might, with modification and replacement of the blade with one of a harder composition), as they were made for much finer material and twigs dull the blades very, very fast (My father would make me police the yard prior to mowing to ensure he didn't have to sharpen it after I was done with the chore and got very cross when he found I hadn't - by inspection of the blade.)...even wet grass can dull the blades, but at least it doesn't nick them...

I guess I'm old and lazy...I use my leaf blower to shred the leaves, and then I do as you do...chopping or or just hand snapping the twigs. (and yes, it can get quite tedious!)
JimFlo7 years ago
I run them over and over and over  with a mulching mower until they are very small, but like NobodyInParticular sais, I also throw in some larger stuff on prupose Its mostly the leaves I run over, to reduce the bulk.
That's my approach. The mower also bags them for easy dumping into a can, which can then be dumped into the compost pile.

But that's more because I hate raking, and as Jim says because this reduces the bulk (gets more into the composter before I overflow and have to start putting 'em out for pickup), than because I think they really need shredding.

Twigs... I still have trouble convincing myself that twigs will compost. I *know* they will, intellectually, but it still seems wrong somehow.
What you want is called a "manual reel mower". You may need to find a heavy-duty one to handle the twigs.

http://www.google.com/products?q=reel+mower&hl=en&scoring=p&lnk=pruser&price1=50&price2=110 

But what's wrong with throwing the leaves and twigs in the mulch pile as they are? A properly aerated pile should decompose them pretty quickly.