Monday, 16 April 2012

woodlot management

This past weekend we decided to round up a few volunteers and devote some long overdue time to our "woodlot". Over the past 20 years we have planted close to 1500 trees, a combination of softwoods and hardwoods and some understory shrubs. The survival rate hasn't been great and the trees that have grown needed attention. The softwoods had become crowded and were "self-pruning" with dieback. The hardwood whips on the other hand have a tough time competing with the quackgrass, goldenrod and milkweed.

I saw bundles of wine boxes behind my local LCBO store and it occurred to me that they could be used for the cardboard we needed to keep down the weeds and grasses around the base of the hardwoods. It turns out they were bundles of 100 to 200 boxes and very heavy. Because of liability issues the manager wouldn't let me help move them. So she and one of the other female employees literally did all the heavy lifting. Many thanks to Kathy at the Gerrard St. store!

We weren't exactly sure how the division of labour would work out but that became clear Saturday morning. A few weeks ago Alex and Christopher had flagged pine and spruce trees that were damaged or needed to come down because of overcrowding. Alex and our friend, Avo, used the chainsaw, bow saw and pruning saws to thin the softwoods. Diane cleared grass away from the base of the hardwoods and covered the cleared area with cardboard boxes and I delimbed the pines and used the branches for mulch to secure the cardboard boxes.

The first step for Avo and Alex was to sharpen the chainsaw with a file.

Avo filing the saw while he and Alex compare notes.
Then came mixing the gas with the two stroke engine oil at a ratio of 40:1.
Mixing the oil and gas.
Avo and Alex were a model of cooperation working on "creative solutions for challenging problems" as Alex says.
Alex and Avo coming up with a strategy for the tallest pines.
 Alex working on topping the pine.
And Avo takes his turn.
Diane achieved a zen-like state working in solitude with the hardwoods. Initially they were even hard to locate but once she got the hang of distinguishing the slender hardwood whips from the weed stalks they appeared to be popping up everywhere. The long grass at the base of the hardwoods had created a habitat for rodents and many of the trees had suffered "girdling" damage from them.
One of the apple trees girdled by rodents.
Diane, ready to start, before she achieves her zen-like state.
And in a world of her own.

And I, with more grunts than grace, used the long handled loppers to remove the limbs from the felled pine trees and collect them in the wheel barrow. Then I spread them on the hardwoods Diane had protected with the cardboard.
Black Walnut Saplings with a Crinoline of Cardboard and Pine Mulch
Alex had found the deadly pathogen, Commandra Blister Rust, on three of the pine trees we had planned on keeping. She cut off the specific limbs affected and we'll keep an eye on the trees. Getting rid of the affected branches made the perfect excuse to have a bonfire.

Christopher, recovering from a nasty flu that had left him achy and exhausted, came to life for the snacks at cocktail hour by the bonfire.
Cocktail hour by the bonfire
Christopher enjoying the appetizers Diane brought

Alex assesses the apple trees
And now there's skylight in the pines!

1 comment:

  1. And now all the trees breathe a sigh of satisfaction - everyone has a little elbow room!