Spring has Sprung – Production and Observation

The Spring was late this year, late snows into April stunted and prohibited growth in the forest which had only last winter been forested for lumber.  So, we anxiously have awaited the regrowth and regeneration of the forest. It was hard seeing after the operation but it was necessary as we did not have the means to manage it ourselves and the homeowner needed both the management and the cash. for useful infrastructure repairs.

As hard as it is to see so much healthy wood leave the forest, the forestry operation I think really made our plans achievable in many ways.  There is still an ancient tulip poplar which may be as many as 100-200 years old at the top of the hill. A tree which we refer to lovingly as the mother tree.  This tree had a ribbon tied around it before the logging operation sparing her life and now that the thick underbrush has been disturbed and some dense trees around her base removed, vine removal has been relatively easy, and in some cases, naturally occurring.  There are still a number of extremely tall and extremely healthy black walnut as an overstory though their shape was developed while being in a dense forest they now look like skinny towers.  I\’m curious to see if they will take advantage of the lower altitude exposure and back-bud a few limbs. I\’m not sure of the Black Walnut\’s propensity to do something like that.  Perhaps not this spring but maybe next, I will attempt to tap 2-3 of these trees (there are probably 20-30 around the property) for black walnut syrup.

Another thing that the forestry operation allowed for was that it created a mosaic pattern and walking paths. There are now open areas that are inspiring the silvopasture, water management, and forest gardening opportunities that simply weren\’t there before.  The access to these areas has been improved by way of the heavy machinery which thankfully took common paths that they created rather than just rolling around everywhere.

Tulip Poplar, Black Locust, and Sassafras babies are everywhere!  These are three very good very useful trees and since they are self-seeded they should be accustomed to the environment.  This is much better than purchasing these trees, finances aside.  We can decide where we want these trees and where we don\’t want them and can offer seedlings to anyone who might be interested.  It wouldn\’t be a horrible idea to pot a few up in a couple of years for a tree sale to raise money for our efforts.

Looking at such a big picture has really forced me into a few philosophical exercises. The first is patience.  None of this is going to happen overnight and it will change over time. Some things will work out as expected and some things will take on their own life to which we will adapt.  The second is really observing natural patterns and working within them.  For example, the forestry has left some open areas that I can connect for silvopastures that are relatively on-contour.  Rather than work against these opportunities, I\’m going to try to work within them.

I\’ve learned that I\’m going to need a lot of coarse woody debris.  One way of attaining that which might be less labor intensive and less expensive than importing that would be to rent a wood-chipper and chip into the areas I\’m interested in covering.  Renting a decent wood-chipper for a day will run about $100 so if I want to make the most of it, I should really have a plan in place and lots of help.  It could be a three or more day project each year but I\’m thinking it could produce in excess of $300 in mulch with the amount of wood on the ground.

I\’ve learned that I\’m going to need some help.  I can\’t seem to do the work and maintain the kids at the same time and especially not alone.  The time between their hunger pangs and other fatherly needs is pretty short!  🙂  I\’m really going to need to tap into some friends and find ways to return the favors.  Being a longer term project the yields aren\’t much right now!

I planted a lot! and I plan to plant a lot more.  My basic solo operation of a planting was to prepare the site by mowing down the tall grasses and then to loosen the soil around the site in some cases with a trenching hoe and other cases with a not so broad fork.  I\’m hoping to purchase an actual broadfork by next year to make these jobs easier and more effective!  Then, I would dig a hole and match that hole on large sheets of cardboard I acquired to hold down the weeds and give the new tree a fighting chance.  My plan is to go back in two weekends with as much mulch as I can gather and cover those sheets of cardboard to weigh them down and further surpress the weeds.  Over a few of the trees, I put cages but I\’ve decided that I probably will not need cages on all the trees and at least not until winter when the deer run out of the beautiful grassy options.  I\’ve been told deer won\’t eat paw paw so the paw paw grove should be safe without.

After planting using a mix of forest soil and the provided potting soil I gave each plant a healthy dose of compost tea that we make in our backyard. After rains i use the buckets under the bin which have filled with compost tea and transfer them to used milk jugs and bring a number them along to the property when we go out there.  During my plantings it has been very regular raining and i\’m talking GOOD RAINS.  For this I am very grateful and feel like it will give the new trees a great chance at becoming accustomed to their new home.

The following is a list of my April/May 2018 plantings:

Planted:

Upper Woodland Silvopasture

American Chestnut, 5 (two left to plant)

Pignut Hickory, 1 (one left to plant)

Pequea Riparian Buffer Zone

  • Bald Cypress, 1
  • Pussy Willow, 1
  • 2 American Red Mulberry left to plant
  • Paw Paws, 3 (understory)
  • Arrowhead Verbanum, 2

Hilltop Orchard

  • Wild Black Cherry, 1 (had three others that died in the pots)
  • Russian Comfrey, Bocking 14, 2
  • Gooseberry, 2

Old Pasture Path

  • Elderberry, 6
  • Gooseberry, 2
  • Russian Comfrey, Bocking 14, 2

 

 

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