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How to grow Black Locust for firewood?  RSS feed

 
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Hi there, I am new to the blog as well as to the permaculture/organic/non-gmo/grow your own food/homesteadish movement. I live in San Diego County, California. I am looking for recommendations on how to grow the black locust tree, which from my research, it sseems like a very good option to use for firewood since it has a fast growth rate.what would be a good number of trees to start with. We definitely do not get very cold winters but I would like to use firewood to heat my house during the winter rather than the furnace which runs on propane and it really isn’t effective. My house has a Timberline wood insert or wood stove (proper term?) I have burnt eucalyptus which I really like because it burns hot, it has no smell and it’s long lasting. I don’t want to be buying firewood if I can “grow” my own. Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks.
 
Posts: 163
Location: Western Washington
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Hi Hector,
How much land do you have to work with?
 
Hector Dominguez
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One acre, a section of that acre would be dedicated to the blacknlocust maybe 1/10?
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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I haven't had luck getting black locust to grow.  I dug up quite a few, transplanted that at my house and they all died.  I may try from seed next.  Hopefully you will have better luck.

In the area you are talking about, I would plant them very close together, no more than a foot or so apart.  If you have some die off, you have plenty more, and if they all grow, it's very simple to thin them out.
 
Posts: 327
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I saw your thread last night, but didn't respond because I'm totally out of touch with growing so far south. Your in USDA zone 10, the Black Locust is usually recommended south to zone 9. It did occur to me that you might find something that grows well in your area that you could dual use. Lets say for example Orange or Lemon. You grow them for ten or fifteen years and then cut what you need for firewood and replace those trees. You get the citrus crops and the firewood. I don't know anything about citrus, they don't do well here in Pennsylvania, but I'm using them only as an example. Maybe figs. You say that Black Locust grows fast, but does it grow fast in zone 10.

I also don't know how my examples do for firewood. I'd guess that you don't need a wood that gives off the most heat of all the woods. Myself I've burned a lot of wood for many years. I saved any oak I had to burn in January. I burned maple and cherry the rest of the winter. Cause that's what I had. I liked the Wild Black Cherry the best because it looks nice, splits easy, and doesn't give you splinters every time you pick up a stick.

I'd guess your not likely to grow logs long enough to have to split. But I'd say that of all the wood I've split Locust is the worst to split. When you get it split it tends to have veiny stringy pieces holding the two pieces from separating.

If I remember correctly citrus grow well from seed.

Good luck with all you do.
 
John Duda
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Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I read a forum that suggested NOT burning fig wood for cooking, smoking foods, or for heat. So ignor my suggestion. The folks on the same blog thought orange was a valued firewood.
 
Posts: 22
Location: Douglas County, WI zone 4a 105 acres
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Hector, I was going to just jump in and say that eucalyptus are very fast-growing, but I thought I'd quick "fact-check" that assumption on Google, and I found this link:
http://www.angelfire.com/bc/eucalyptus/eucgrowth.html
Tons of info and pix - mentions best species, since a few are slow.
Hope this helps!

 
gardener
Posts: 4890
Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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hau Hector,

Sadly, you are too far south for Black Locust to work as a firewood tree, not enough cold days.

You might look into Honey Locust as it too responds well to coppicing USDA honey locust fact sheet

Redhawk

(Check with your local forestry department about suitable trees for what you want to do, they should have good suggestions)
 
John Duda
Posts: 327
Location: SW PA USA zone 6a altitude 1188ft
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I'm reminded of a quote from a fellow who has lots of Black Locusts on the steep bank behind his home.

"They turn green in June and start losing their leafs in July"

I can't imagine me growing Black Locusts intentionally. I had thousands of Crab Apples growing so close you couldn't get your shoulders between them. All loaded with thorns, fallen branches on the ground, their thorns coming thru your boots. I spent twenty years chopping them down, for no other reason than to get rid of the thorns. I found a brand of boots that were impenetrable by the thorns, Wolverine, and couldn't change brands because the trial was too painful to contemplate. One afternoon I cut down about a half acre solid with crab apple. about a foot apart. I had to crawl between them and cut them all at ground level. None of them fell, they were all intertwined and interlocked. I got maybe one fire log from each, occasionally two fire logs. I had a chipper and couldn't use it as the crabs grow like birds nests. I'm off subject, sorry

We have a lot of Black Locust here. A large part of the trees that grow on Pittsburgh''s hillsides are Black Locust. My neighbor has them growing across the front of his acre lot. They don't grow fast. I've been here 14 years, they're maybe 10 inches in diameter, same as when I moved here.

I hope I'm being too negative.
 
pollinator
Posts: 330
Location: SoCal USA
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Depends on the part of San Diego county you live in... are you near the coast where it's zone 9-10, or farther east where it gets to zone 7 in Borrego and Julian and has freezing temps in the winter? Water is also a problem, unless you water them some. I don't think 8-9 inches of rain a year is enough.

If you plant the trees between 5-10' apart and give them enough time to get 5-6" thick before you coppice then they should sucker back up. But if you are in a warmer area that doesn't get a cold winter, they might not recover if the sap is still in the trunk.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1984
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
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I have a small stand of black locust in zone 4/5 and appreciate the n-fixing and yummy blossoms but wouldn't intentionally grow more for firewood. There are things that grow/regrow much faster here (like elm) and don't have thorns on their branches to hassle with.  But really, I deal with thorns and spines enough here.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1453
Location: northern California
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I would think that the warm winters and dry summers would both diminish the vigor and productivity of black locust, which is native in the East with colder winters and more summer moisture.  That said, it does survive in my part of the northern Central Valley, often in unirrigated positions. I am trying to plant fast growing trees to coppice for firewood also, and have two locusts among other things (several Acacias, Casuarina, Grevillea, Albizia and poplar being the main ones so far)  Eucalyptus though very common is being discouraged in the state as a fire hazard, especially anywhere near houses or in suburban areas.  If you have sufficient space perhaps you can trial several species and then select the best to plant more of after a few years?  Or fast-track this by observing and identifying various trees in your neighborhood and region.  Once you have the trees' name, you can look up information about it's properties, including it's value as firewood.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1109
Location: Green County, Kentucky
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I would check with on-line resources and see what trees grow well in your area, and then sort those for good firewood that is fairly fast-growing.  You might be able to grow mesquite or pecans, for example.

Kathleen
 
Hector Dominguez
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Thanks everyone. John, thanks for all the info. You really got me thinking about all the pros and cons. Mary Beth, thanks for the link, it was very useful and informative. I actually have a couple of eucalyptus in my property. i actually fell one of them about a month ago because it was shading a huge part of my vegetable garden. I am saving it to use maybe next year. I also bought half cord of eucalyptus firewood for $90 from a local guy. Bartering for firewood might be a better route for me. I also planted a couple of cuttings from one of my eucalyptus trees, they seem to be doing ok. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again!
 
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More "bad" about Black Locust:

Yes, it's great for BTU's (one of the best) but I never burn it.  When I decide to or have to take out some black locust on my property the go to fence posts.  Why fence posts?  Well that's all will let my chainsaw give to a black locust.  A single tree will completely ruin a chain on a chainsaw. I can't say I've ever sawed a good dry one and not seen sparks fly like hitting a piece of metal.

Great fence posts 50-75 years easy.

 
Kathleen Sanderson
pollinator
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Location: Green County, Kentucky
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Jese Anderson wrote:More "bad" about Black Locust:

Yes, it's great for BTU's (one of the best) but I never burn it.  When I decide to or have to take out some black locust on my property the go to fence posts.  Why fence posts?  Well that's all will let my chainsaw give to a black locust.  A single tree will completely ruin a chain on a chainsaw. I can't say I've ever sawed a good dry one and not seen sparks fly like hitting a piece of metal.

Great fence posts 50-75 years easy.



That's actually good to know, because the two barns on my new property were built with black locust poles, and the fence has a lot of black locust posts in it. 

Kathleen
 
No prison can hold Chairface Chippendale. And on a totally different topic ... my stuff:
Food Forest Card Game - Game Forum
https://permies.com/t/61704/Food-Forest-Card-Game-Game
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