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Permaculture solutions for Scotch Broom

 
Hans Quistorff
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Thank you for mentioning the Extractigator. When I was researching this last fall I only came up with a company that went out of business. Theres had a much more complicated base and grip.
 
William James
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I agree that Scotch broom is usually found in areas which are not "tended" or have been disturbed and left to its own devices. A permaculture design in an area that has scotch broom would utilize the nitrogen fixing capacity of the plant, utilize succession to grow high value trees, keep paths free of it, favor chipping in place as opposed to uprooting, and in the long term shade them out with a mid-to-late-succession forest. This goes a lot farther than just "how can i get rid of it?" and requires human interaction, a certain relationship with the plant, and "being there" -- something evidentially missing from most of the proposed "solutions" nowadays. Permaculture doesn't come in a bottle to be sprayed on a plant and then forgot about, which is why most people probably aren't doing it.

Apart from that, Right now the value of scotch broom seems to be less than zero, since people actually pay for products and services to have it eradicated.
I'm confident that when an enterprising person finds a way to use scotch broom effectively, turning free plant material into money (people would probably even pay to have you harvest it), the new problem will be curbing the extinction of scotch broom.
That's usually the way things go.

Anyway, this current exess points to a lack of creative solutions rather than some defect of the natural world.

Permaculture solutions?
1. Value the marginal.
2. The problem is the solution.
3. Use succession to your advantage.

William
 
Ivan Weiss
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Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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William James wrote:I'm confident that when an enterprising person finds a way to use scotch broom effectively, turning free plant material into money (people would probably even pay to have you harvest it), the new problem will be curbing the extinction of scotch broom. That's usually the way things go. Anyway, this current exess points to a lack of creative solutions rather than some defect of the natural world.



Turning it into biochar and supplementary heating fuel will have to suffice for me for now. For those lucky enough to have rocket mass heaters, Scotch Broom could be a primary fuel. When you come up with a more creative solution, please be sure to let us in on it.
 
William James
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Turning it into biochar and supplementary heating fuel will have to suffice for me for now. For those lucky enough to have rocket mass heaters, Scotch Broom could be a primary fuel. When you come up with a more creative solution, please be sure to let us in on it.



Those don't seem to me like bad uses. Depending on your needs, they might be high order uses and so putting Scotch Broom to use there would be appropriate.

Lots of other ideas here:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Cytisus+scoparius
Basketry; Broom; Dye; Essential; Fibre; Paper; Repellent; Soil stabilization; Tannin; Wood.

My first, knee-jerk response was "Brooms, many and various brooms". I still think that someone wanting to mass-produce natural brooms would have an easy time sourcing raw materials. It would be the labor, the broom handle, and creating a valid joint that would give you trouble. My point with that is when we've replaced all synthetic brooms with scotch brooms and bamboo handles, then we can open up a discussion of the merits of eradicating what's left.

I'm interested more in what an entrepreneur can get you to pay for (a) removing your broom and (b) selling your broom back to you as a nifty stocking-stuffer. That two-prong approach could probably be the start of a successful business plan for someone wanting to start an "eco-friendly business" based on maintaining scotch broom successfully.

William
 
r ranson
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Can we make brooms from scotch broom? I heard somewhere we cannot, but I don't think that person knew the first thing about making brooms.
 
Hans Quistorff
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A freshly cut scotchbroom would be suitable for sweeping clippings off a patio or droppings in an animal pen. Once dried the fronds are too brittle, A nice strait stem should make a good strong handle. If I get around to replacing a handle I will post it.
 
William James
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Just to chime in on the broom thing: the point is not the broom. The point is to try 100 things with scotch broom and 2 of them will be fantastic. Brooms probably fall into the not-very-fantastic category but unless you've researched it and maybe tried it out to see if there was some way around the "dried/brittle" juggernaut, then you probably wouldn't really know if brooms would be a fantastic, mediocre, or bunk idea...

Again, it takes a more intimate relationship with the plant (and the products and services it provides) to produce a good design.
William
 
Dale Hodgins
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I didn't have time to try 100 things, so I just tried one thing and it was fantastic.

Used loppers to quickly remove branches from broom and then used those branches as a mulch for the trees that I wanted to favor. Most material was moved less than 8 feet.

It burns quite well, but with burning the nitrogen is lost. I prefer to burn the many low nutrient things that litter the land.
 
r ranson
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I've been thinking about broom a lot.

According to the local Natural History Society, it kills the native plants by reducing acid in the soil and adding nitrogen.  We have a lot of trouble growing deciduous trees because the soil is too acidic and lacking nitrogen.  The trees also need protection from the dear and environment for the first few years.  Scotch broom is an excellent dew collector.

I wonder if I cleared a small patch in the middle of the broom, and planted some young, fast growing, trees.  Maybe protect them from the deer with a basket.  Would they grow and then eventually shade out the broom?

Or maybe broom is doing something more to the soil?
 
Hans Quistorff
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The soil structure under long standing patches of scotch broom is very fine textured in my experience here. I have found that once it has reached 3 feet of bare trunk the top can be cut off and it will not regrow. If I am patient and wait for the roots to rot then I can pull the trunks and use them for firewood. The undisturbed soil  exposed to the sun starts to grow grass luxuriantly  but if the roots are pulled immediately the scotch broom seed germinates. You could keep a protective hedge around the fruit trees and still reduce seed propagation if you took a hedge  trimmer to them this time of year and removed all the blooms.

I do have someone to take over my extra 5 acres now and we will be experimenting with these methods.
 
Velho Barbudo
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In Portugal, in the old days, people would use broom as the winter animal bedding.
Like said before, it grows in rocky and driy environments so i let it grow in the worst parts of the farm, they are working instead of me so that's great. Apart from that, they feed the bees as well

That being said, it's not considered an invasive here.
 
Dale Hodgins
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On any farm that has steep rocky slopes that are basically good for nothing, broom can make them useful. The broom that is grown in these areas can easily be lopped off and transported down slope to areas where it makes useful mulch. Grazing critters will tend to move materials downslope. They may graze the slopes, but are likely to poop in the barn and in gulley's where they seek respite from the heat.

I have a neighbor who is under the false impression that he can and gather up enough broom to significantly reduce his seed bank. He is welcome to dump it in a pile at my place. Makes a nice top dressing once it rots.
 
trinda storey
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If scotch broom lowers ph could it be used for lowering my soil ph maybe as a mulch
 
Hans Quistorff
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trinda storey wrote:If scotch broom lowers ph could it be used for lowering my soil ph maybe as a mulch


I don't think the broom specifically lowers or raises the PH.  It is a weed species that can grow in infertile soil or good soil that is bare. It has the legume genetics to partner with soil life and fix nitrogen and the broom strands it sheds as it gets older protects the soil life. The soil life works cooperatively with the minerals in the soil to bring the PH into the range for other plant life. If the seed pods have developed burn it to reduce propagation otherwise the fine tops make good mulch as described above.
 
trinda storey
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I ran into a couple picking it.curious I asked why they make fences out of it getting the idea from the U.K. Where the make roof out of it.
 
Dale Hodgins
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Broom goes up like gasoline, when exposed to flame. It is brittle and it decays quickly. There are few poorer choices for roofing material.

I could see using it on a temporary structure as a summer shade. It's just not durable.
 
Jazz Meyer
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I've had the idea of mulching it and using it as the carbon component in my (as-yet-non-existent) compost toilet, instead of sawdust.
 
Jazz Meyer
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Found a fun solution ;) I don't think it'll hold up for long, the bristles will probably begin to snap as it dries, but it was fun and easy to make and I certainly have enough broom to re-make it whenever I need to!

 
S Tonin
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While listening to a Radical Mycology lecture on YouTube (
 around the 33:20 mark), there was a brief mention that oyster mushrooms can be grown on scotch broom.  I haven't looked into it further because I don't have a scotch broom problem, but it might be worth investigating/ experimenting for someone who has it in abundance.
 
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