We have 10 acres and currently it is in alfalfa. 10 inches of rain a year. Totally flat. Zone 4. I would like to turn 2 acres into a woodlot. I want to eventually get firewood, lumber for building, food for animals and a place for the kids to play. I am not sure what species to plant or how to plant it with spacing etc. Here are some thoughts so far:
Black Locust - Lumber, firewood, bees, N fixer
Honey Locust - Fodder for goats. Thornless variety so the kids can play in the area
?? - For firewood
?? - For additional fodder production for animals and humans
Osage Orange -for additional firewood and fodder
I am not sure if I should be copicing etc these trees, or planting an understory of something else. Are there bushes I should plant under the trees for additional animal/human food etc.
I am starting completely from scratch so please help me out.
Hey Dan, I do not have any special directions since I have no direct experience in establishing woodlots but I have considered it myself and thought I would give two ideas. In your state all I could find was this service which has cheap bulk seedlings that are fit for your area.
Another idea is a suggestion on a book called woolands for profit and pleasure which opened my eyes to many things woodlot related.
Good luck with your project.
If you're starting from a blank slate, you might want to plant some fast growing hardwoods, like cottonwood, silver maple or hybrid poplar to give yourself a jump start to some larger trees. Granted, they aren't as good firewood producers, but they can pick up the initial slack while you're waiting for your other hardwoods to mature. Maple, Oak and Black Cherry were our preferred firewood sources back when I was growing up. Oak is great for all sorts of uses (lumber, fuel, food) but can take a while to mature. Plus, of course there's any number of fruit trees (apple, mulberry, cherry) that you could interplant. You could even plant a stand of bamboo for the goats, just be careful because bamboo can be invasive (although it can also be used as firewood if you're careful to break the cells - otherwise it's an explosive hazard).
As for understory, there's always berries (blue, black, rasp) and choke cherries. I'd plant a bunch of herbs, wildflowers and supporting plants as well. I'd probably try to include clover, cowpeas and chicory for the goats.