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Scotchbroom - and NOW what do I do with it???

 
Lindsey Jane
Posts: 19
Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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When we bought our farm this last March the whole lower pasture was consumed with scotchbroom.

I have heard that scotchbroom is a natural nitrogen fixer and that, overall, it can be good for the soil (I only heard that recently - I have much more reading to do on this...) but I am clearing pasture for animals, food, orchard, etc, so I need the scotchbroom gone, pronto. It hasn't been touched in probably 15 years and some of it is about 10 -13 feet tall; it looms heavy over my head as I cut it down.

Here is the dilemma and question:

I am cutting it with loppers and a saw. It works really well and goes fast. So cutting isn't my problem - it's what to do with the giant, crazy tall piles of scotchbroom that are now littering my pasture. I have only cleared about 1/4 of it so far and the piles are monstrous. They do wilt and settle relatively fast, so they don't stay dangerously huge for long, but...

I don't want to burn the piles, I want to use the biomass.

HOW

They spread by seed, I have gathered, and the ones I'm cutting are silly with seeds. I'm reticent to build beds with them...I do not want to be pulling scotchbroom until I'm 80. Although something tells me I'll be pulling little ones every stinking year until I die.

I just need some direction and/or some ideas on how to use this resource...I'm a bit bumfuzzled on this one.

Thanks, all!

 
Kyrt Ryder
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Posts: 694
Location: Graham, Washington [Zone 7b, 47.041 Latitude] 41inches average annual rainfall, cool summer drought
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Option A: Brush Dams/Windbreaks.

Option B: Hugelkulture.

Option C: Scotchbroom+Repetitive machete/lopper work [or a wood chipper+fuel] = nitrogen-rich woody mulch.
 
William Bronson
Posts: 1130
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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forest garden trees urban
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Do you have animals?if so, it should be good fodder for them, but this wont stop the seeds from being spread.
Sounds like a good candidate for making Biochar out of. This would kill the seeds and preserve the carbon.
This post explores some uses, and suggests that burying it deep in a hugleculture bed would prevent e seeds from germinating.
Scotch Broom: problem or solution?
 
Tracy Wandling
pollinator
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Location: Cortes Island, British Columbia. Zone: 8ish Lat: 50; Rainfall: 50" ish; sand and rocks; well water
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bee books chicken forest garden fungi hugelkultur trees
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Hi Lindsey;

You have exactly the same situation that we faced when we bought two years ago. 15 years worth of 'Old Growth' Broom forest. It was crazy tall and thick, and there were parts of our new property we couldn't even get to until it was cut down. The Man cut it off at ground level with a saw.

We chipped ours. It's a bit of a pain to chip, especially the twistier pieces, but we did it! We piled it up and let it sit for about a year or so, and boy does it break down nicely. It has made some really great stuff for building the garden with. If you have straighter pieces, they can go into hugelkultur or buried wood beds whole, but they are hard to stack. That's why we decided to chip them. And I wouldn't worry about seeds. After 15 years there are a squillion seeds on the ground already. Nothing can be done about that but to keep it mowed, or let the animals mow it for you.

Biochar sounds like a good idea as well. I plan on making some, too.

Good luck! And let us know how it goes.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Angela Aragon
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You are in an enviable position, even though it might not seem that way right now. One thing that you could do is spread all of that biomass back on the ground - put armor on the soil, as Gabe Brown would say. If you have grazing animals, put them on that stretch of land  once new shoots appear. You will wind up with a rich soil base in which you can rotate in a cash crops, while simultaneously layering in other other cover crops to increase diversity.
 
Ivan Weiss
Posts: 172
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
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I use an Extractigator. Yanks them right up by the roots.

https://www.extractigator.com/


I just leave the yanked-up broom in the pasture to dry out. Once dried, it goes in the wood stove and warms my bones. Or, I make biochar out of it.
 
R Ranson
master steward
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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I feed it to the goats, they turn it into manure.  Near instant soil fertility.

The alpacas and llamas like it as well, but too much nitrogen isn't good for them, so they don't get as much.
 
R Ranson
master steward
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Location: Left Coast Canada
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R Ranson wrote:I feed it to the goats, they turn it into manure.  Near instant soil fertility.

The alpacas and llamas like it as well, but too much nitrogen isn't good for them, so they don't get as much.



Also, the wood from the larger stems is beautiful.  Easy to carve.  Good for buttons and other small projects. 
 
Simone Gar
Posts: 84
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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Flowering? Sell it to florist wholesale!
 
S Tonin
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Location: zone 6a, ish
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Simone Gar wrote:Flowering? Sell it to florist wholesale!


Even if it's not flowering, lots of florists use it as a higher-end green (at least, in my area).  I've been out of the business for years, but in 2009 it was $2.50 to $3 wholesale for a 3" diameter bunch.  If you're crafty at all, you can use it to make Grinch trees (which are probably out of fashion now, but they were *the* hot ticket in the late aughts).
 
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