• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

What to do with this Birch monoculture patch?

 
Andris Skuja
Posts: 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hey guys,

I've got these 1.5 acres of a young birch stand (8 years old). It's been thinned to about 4~6m between the trees a few weeks ago.
The forestry company that owns the surrounding land did the thinning accidentally, while thinning their own forest.
It used to be a very dense birch/willow planting.



So now I'm thinking I want to get something more out of it. While there is some light coming in, I think it would be a good time to plant something more between the birches.
Any ideas on productive fruit/nut trees or shrubs that will tolerate the partial shade the birches cast? Should I thin them even more?
Would walnuts and filberts do well here? btw, are the birches (betula pendula) tolerant to juglone? Couldn't find this info anywhere.

What would you do with a patch like this ?
 
John Polk
steward
Pie
Posts: 7766
Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
240
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Welcome to permies Andris.

Looking at that photograph, it looks like the birch trees will do better now that they have more room & light. Personally, I would probably do some more (selective) harvesting, as I imagine that once leafed out, there will still not be much light reaching the understory except at high-noon.

As far as the Walnut's juglone, I don't know how much affect it would have on mature trees. It will certainly cause germination problems for many seeds, and seedlings.

I would think that filberts would do well as under story trees. They are quite compact trees - often shrub like. One of the quickest nuts to reach 'fruiting' maturity.

It looks as if they left you a lot of wood on the ground. Birch makes a good firewood, and it looks as if you could build a few hugelbeds with some of it.

Browse around the site, as I am sure that you will find many good ideas here on what options you have available. Don't be afraid to ask questions. It would help others answer your questions if you include your location in your profile. If people have a better understanding of your location, they are less likely to give advice that is for an opposite climate.

 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2295
76
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Make some canoes?

 
Tyler Miller
Pie
Posts: 102
Location: Trapper Creek, AK (3a)
6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My hometown is mostly spruce-birch forest. Some common native berry bushes in the area are elderberry, huckleberry and high-bush cranberry.

I my area the natural succession is for white spruce, which are shade tolerant, to grow up among and eventually shade out the birch (and then the whole thing burns down and starts over). I don't know how close pine-nut producing pine trees are to white spruce. but you might try planting some and by the time the birch trees are ready to be made into firewood or hugel mounds you might have some producing pine trees.
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3646
Location: Vermont, off grid for 22 years!
78
bee chicken fungi solar trees
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Location? (consider adding your location to your profile).

Paw Paws are shade tolerant , as are gooseberries.

Is this new property? Have you considered a formal permacultural design which would take zones, sectors, aspect, orientation and so on into consideration?

Do you have livestock? Pollarding them and feed the leaves/small branches to your livestock.

 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1268
Location: Central New Jersey
34
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Birch syrup. Those trees are about the right size to cut off and hook up to the vacuum. Seriously, you could be looking at a significant cash crop from those trees, just as they stand now.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I would use the cut wood to build hugelkultur mounds. This will lift you off the cold, damp ground. I'm assuming Latvia , Lithuania ... , so many crops could benefit from placement on the south face of a hugel mound. As the trees mature, use a pruner pole to ensure that branches don't sprout on your clear sections of log. Birch makes good flooring, dowels etc. It is prone to rotting and being invaded by fungi at points of injury. For this reason and the poor production of sugar as compared to maple, I would only tap trees that are to come down soon.

In a few years you may want to get a band saw mill. Birch grow to a nice safe size for a small operation to handle. There's probably lots of good birch in the area available for milling, so the mill could be added whenever you get enough wood to warrant it.
 
Peter Ellis
Posts: 1268
Location: Central New Jersey
34
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
We have had a couple of threads recently that were the reasonsI posted the syrup suggestion.

One is here http://www.permies.com/t/33052/trees/Walnut-Birch-Syrup mentioning the price that birch syrup can bring in the appropriate markets.

Another is here, http://www.permies.com/t/32980/trees/gallons-maple-syrup-acre-years discussing a new method for producing incredible quantities of sap from young trees.

I think that if I had an area loaded with young birch trees, like the OP, I would be seriously looking at this emergent technology for sap extraction, and exploring the market for birch syrup.
 
Dale Hodgins
gardener
Pie
Posts: 6139
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
186
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, that changes things. I was unaware of the vacuum technology being used on young trees. --- http://modernfarmer.com/2014/01/maple-syrup-revolution/ --- I've got a couple acres that could quickly be dominated by maple with the removal of some competition. It seems like something that could work with coppicing. They show a lopped sapling. I have some stumps with 20 trunks coming out.

Cut firewood in the spring.

Suck the log and branches dry.

Suck the roots dry.

Do this to 15% of each clump every year for a constant supply.

I guess now the race is on to produce a rocket powered vacuum pump.

Just imagine how quickly coppice wood could be ready to burn if the vacuum were applied to the log as well. Do it right there in the bush so that only dry wood is carried home.
 
Tyler Miller
Pie
Posts: 102
Location: Trapper Creek, AK (3a)
6
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Currants would be another thing to consider. They are shade tolerant (but need sun for good production) and they like to grow on rotting wood.

Also, make sure to keep an eye out for chaga as the trees get older.
 
alex Keenan
Posts: 485
12
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Are you where Paw Paw grow? They are a great understory tree.
 
steve bossie
Posts: 224
Location: Northern Maine (zone 3b-4a)
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
serviceberry , and ligonberry are also shade tolerant.
 
Fredy Perlman
Posts: 36
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I second the syrup. It's more work to make than maple (higher water content) but way more profitable. You can also drink the sap neat, it's reportedly tasty and a health tonic in Korea and Japan.

You can also inoculate them with chaga (Inonotus obliquus), especially dead/dying ones and logs. Besides the health benefits of drinking tea from it yourself, it can be a tidy little income stream, I've seen it done and plan to try and inoculate some myself.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic