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Forest clearing ideas.

 
Kristian Rasmussen
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Hi fellow Permies!

We have started our forest garden on our 10 acre land which primarily is covered by young trees (between 3 and 10 years), we have begone in patches here and there planting small support trees like black locust, siberian pea shrub among others. We have a problem clearing land of the very invasive black cherry (Prunus Serotina), we live in Denmark Europe, and this tree completely takes over here, not as the moderately useful tree it grows to in the US, but as a short shruby growth, growing to at least 4-5 feet in any single season. My question is this; is there a way to replace the cherries without digging out all the roots (not an option) or putting out 5 hectares of black plastic? We have access to almost endless bales of hay, so 2 feet of mulch after cutting the trees to the ground, would that work maybe?
All ideas welcome!
 
John Elliott
pollinator
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Why is digging out the roots not an option? Denmark is quite well known for its hams, so there must be some pigs you can enlist to help you. They seem to enjoy yanking out roots and making sure all traces of shrubbery are gone.
 
Tom OHern
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Location: Seattle, WA
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Your problem is a solution!

There are lots of people who would love to have a shurb like that which they can chop and drop every year and get so much mulch from. All I would do, is once a year, about two weeks after the flowers have bloomed so the bees can get pollen and nectar from them, go out and chop them all down. If they come back the next year, do it again. After about 3-5 seasons of heavy pruning, most of these will be dead. And in the mean time, the root systems of these plants will be mining minerals from your sub surface and bringing them up to the surface. This is what I would consider a support species until your main forest comes in.
 
bob day
Posts: 338
Location: Central Virginia USA
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i'm not sure if what i have is the same, but i also have lots of wild black cherry trees and have been told they will accept grafts from cultivated cherries. plan to learn grafting this winter and give it a go

i like cherries, and like even better the idea that something growing wild could give a headstart to something i like to eat
 
Kristian Rasmussen
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@John Elliot, thanks for the reply. There are several reasons we cant dig out the roots, 1) The soil is old forest floor and has an intact fungal network we do not want to disturb. 2) The shrubs are so abundant that it would take months and months to dig them out, just cutting them back takes 2 people weeks. 3) Pigs are an option for some areas, but again, they would destroy the mycorrhizal fungi living in the soil. We do plan on having a few pigs at some point, and rotating them through an area we want to keep more open.

@ Tom OHern, thank you for your reply. The shrubs are very very woody and would take a very long time to brake down. I guess we could run it through a chipper first and then use it as mulch ourselves. We have very sandy soil and could certainly use the structure. This is kinda what we have been doing until now, but the workload associated with cutting all the brush back every year is intense, and even after two years, it does not seem to hamper the growth, only provide air for new fresh growth. Bear in mind that there are a lot of trees outside of our property and seeds will keep dropping from birds, so a more long term solution is required. Competing plants spring to mind, but we have not found anything that can compete with the growth of the black cherry.

@ Bob day, thanks for your reply. This is a great idea, and one that we have thought a lot about, after a little research into the prunus family, it turns out that not only cherries, but also almonds, apricots and even some forms of pears might be compatible with black cherry grafting. We will definitely try this on some of the older, more established trees. Our problem is with the young shoots that keep appearing every spring, either from old cuts or new saplings.
 
josh brill
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I'm not sure what it is like in your neck of the woods but you might be able to rent a heavy duty weedwacker with specialty blade on the end. Their noisy and pollute but you could do a very large area really fast. You could do it once a year for a few years and that should weaken them quite a bit.

We've been running goats through a 4 year old patch cut of poplar/red maple for the past 2 years and it looks like next year most of the regrowth will be done. The poplar will still send more shoots but when they are smaller the animals gobble them up pretty fast.
 
bob day
Posts: 338
Location: Central Virginia USA
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i hadn't heard about all those other alternative grafts, do you have a link or more information to the alternate possibilities
 
Kristian Rasmussen
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@ Josh Brill, thanks for the ideas. I do have, and occasionally use, a weed whacker, but I find the scythe to do the job just as well on the young trees (as long as I keep it sharp and honed) The trouble is that much of the growth is new growth every year, so it would be a never ending task, needing repetition every year indefinitely. The black cherry is hyper invasive in this area and grows wild all over the place, and without a collaborated effort, we will never be rid of it as the birds spread the seeds far and wide.
Goats! Brilliant idea, I think they might be able to actually eat them, in spite of the leaves being fairly toxic (cyanide) to other animals like horses and cows. We do want to plant other trees among the cherries though, what is your experience with keeping the goats off certain trees? Would we be able to just make small enclosures for each tree say 3 by 3 feet? Or would a more drastic tactic be needed?

@ Bob Day, I will see if I can find more for you, I know I read a fairly advanced paper on the subject at one point. For now, this is all I could find: http://www.ehow.com/info_8769130_kind-needed-graft-almond-tree.html

 
bob day
Posts: 338
Location: Central Virginia USA
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so, would an almond branch graft on a black cherry survive a virginia winter or would it need mediterranean climate like an almond tree
 
Kristian Rasmussen
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Well I think that if the graft takes, it is the rootstock that determines whether the tree will survive the winter. I know that people here in Denmark, where we get fairly harsh winters, have grafted lemon and oranges on to Japanese Bitter Orange ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trifoliate_orange ) and have had it live through winter.
 
bob day
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Location: Central Virginia USA
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outstanding, i guess the next challenge is to get viable cuttings shipped quickly from california or wherever else they may be growing almonds in this country

guessing japanese bitter orange will survive in VA if it survives in Denmark

Thanks so much for the ideas

bob
 
S Bengi
Posts: 1355
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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You might be trying to do too much at once.
The best option would be for you guys to focus on clearing and establishing just 2 or so acres.
Trying to farm 10 acres by yourself without heavy machinery is suicidal, lol.
So focus on a smaller plot get it establish, that way you will have enough plant to out compete the cherry.
And with a smaller plot you will be able to chop down the suckers once a month or so and thus use up all the reserve energy in the tree roots.


@ bob day
If you buy almond from nurseries in the northern part of USA, they all say that almond is hardy to zone 5 aka -20F. So your location should be good.
I also got Bitter Orange growing here in Boston it too is also rated for zone 5.
Check out my garden for a few other ideas https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AjpWBJwPQ0nMdEpjV1AwcVJ0dGFZbnVpVEw0RlFQR0E


 
duane hennon
gardener
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Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
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an example of "chop and drop" of invasives

bio-rollo
http://treeyopermaculture.com/2013/12/06/contour-brush-piles-a-permaculture-design-course-handbook/
Contour Brush Piles | A permaculture design course Handbook
 
josh brill
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If you can plan to graft or plant trees on contour or keyline then put the goats between them I would do that. We move our goats through with electric netting that is a real pain in the brush but it keeps them in and the divided area lets us rotate them through. They do a better job at clearing that way and we reduce parasite pressure. We have tried to put them in areas with trees we want. If the are big enough 5+ inches for fruit trees and they have plenty of forage around them the goats don't bother them to much. So a bit of protection around the trunk seems okay. Smaller tree need a strong structure around them if the goats are just going to be hanging out with them. With other trees to strip that are similar to the ones you are protecting the chance of them eating you trees goes down. But when it does happen it really sucks and sets the trees back.
 
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