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Need advice on planting around a huge dead felled pine tree

 
pollinator
Posts: 381
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
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We just had the last two dead pines taken down, and one of them was so huge we just left the biggest part of it lying where it fell because we've had to scrape to have trees downed on the cheap, and I'm having to deal with all the debris by myself with my 4'11" 67-year-old female body. Now that 46 trees have been felled, I can start planning more tree plantings for next fall, but for now I want to cover up this big old ugly thing by growing something over it.

I was thinking of using 3.5' square concrete mesh panels (I have a lot of them) to arch over the log at intervals (leaving room to get in between them) and planting vining edibles to see how they do. The log runs east to west, and there should be decent sun on both sides of the log. On the north side of the log is a path; the south has a small stand of trees, mostly pines, and should get pretty strong sun at least in the afternoon. I'm in zone 8a, and it was very hot and dry here last year, although some years it gets soaked. If I had the wherewithal to do it, I'd dump dirt on top of this log, but I don't.

I was thinking of planting either scarlet runner beans, cucumbers, or a vining squash because I have those seeds. I'm thinking it might be best to plant on the north side and let the vines grow up over the log and into the area on the other side, where they could grow rampantly along the ground, intermingling with the wild grape vines if they need to. Am I thinking correctly, or should I plant on the south side of the log? What would you do if you were in my situation? The log is going to be left to rot down, which will happen fairly quickly as these things go because it's already chewed up pretty badly by pine bark beetles. But, still, it will be a long time before it's gone.

Dead-tree-before-felled-(summer).jpg
Dead tree before felled (summer)
Dead tree before felled (summer)
Herb-spiral-wide-view.jpg
What has been planted to the left of where the log is
What has been planted to the left of where the log is
Dead-log-lying-E-W.jpg
Dead log lying East-West
Dead log lying East-West
Dead-log-in-context.jpg
Dead log in context
Dead log in context
Log-with-concrete-mesh-panel.jpg
Concrete mesh panel arched high, but should be done lower and wider
Concrete mesh panel arched high, but should be done lower and wider
 
pollinator
Posts: 2130
Location: 4b
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Diane Kistner wrote:
I was thinking of planting either scarlet runner beans, cucumbers, or a vining squash because I have those seeds. I'm thinking it might be best to plant on the north side and let the vines grow up over the log and into the area on the other side, where they could grow rampantly along the ground, intermingling with the wild grape vines if they need to. Am I thinking correctly, or should I plant on the south side of the log? What would you do if you were in my situation? The log is going to be left to rot down, which will happen fairly quickly as these things go because it's already chewed up pretty badly by pine bark beetles. But, still, it will be a long time before it's gone.



I don't think it is going to matter which side you plant on.  The sunlight won't be blocked enough to matter in my opinion.

Any amount of soil, leaves, coffee grounds, or compost you can put on the log with speed it's decomposition a great deal.  A log of that size lying there will likely be there many, many years, but if you can put some organic matter on it, it will hold moisture and the friendlies that break down the wood.  I understand what a task it would be to bury it completely, but if you just pile a little soil or such on and next to it every time you walk past, it will add up enough to make a very substantial difference.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 3592
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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hugelkultur dog forest garden fungi trees rabbit urban wofati cooking bee homestead
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I agree with Trace. Anything at all that you can place right on top and alongside that log will do wonders to its decomposition. I would almost go ahead and make something like a fungal slurry, but with coffee grounds blended right in, such that you can pour it into holes and right atop the log. The nitrogenous, inoculated slurry will colonise the wood, if appropriately selected, and will help to break down the log into soil.

I would go one further and suggest that you first wrap the log in some black material, tarps would do fine, and allow the log to heat up sufficiently to kill anything living in the outer layers of the log. I would then inoculate the log itself with a slurry of a culinarily or medicinally significant fungus that likes pine as food. You will end up not only with fungi breaking down the pine log into an amazing nurse log environment, but you will also be growing mushrooms for food or medicine.

-CK
 
Chris Kott
pollinator
Posts: 3592
Location: Toronto, Ontario
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Even, and perhaps especially, piling forest duff up on either side will keep moisture there, and there should be native forest decomposing microorganisms present in the duff. Just surrounding it on either side would accelerate decomposition, though that might obviate deliberate inoculation with specific desired species of mushroom.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 280
Location: near Athens, GA
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I have not seen mushrooms growing on pine, proper.  But Chicken of the woods will grow on conifers.  You might try getting some chicken dowel plugs from Mushroom Mountain and seeing if they will take... they are reasonably priced and worth experimenting.  IF they do, that is a crop in itself, but will also help break the trunk down.  Might be a few other mushrooms worth trying, too.
 
master steward
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Location: USDA Zone 8a
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Those trees reminded me of this picture in this thread:  https://permies.com/t/hugelkultur



And the pictures in this thread:  https://permies.com/t/129244/Hand-built-hugelbeet-city-lot

And this one:




Seems like a perfect opportunity to try something new.
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