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 ?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fredy Perlman wrote: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.
Fredy (or anyone else for that matter), how do you inoculate them? I have several chagas growing in my woods and I have hundreds of mature birch that could be growing them.