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Dealing with Closed Canopy

 
                    
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This issue really strikes me to be near the center of permaculture. How many people have land with a closed canopy of, perhaps valuable, useful, or pleasing trees, that they have no real value or use for.

What are also pleasing are valuable, and useful trees we can value and use. For myself I have a lot of maple, mostly red maple, which can be used for maple syrup. I suppose there are hundreds of uses, including firewood. But for my purposes I have no intention of making as much maple syrup as this forest could provide.

Beyond that the other two large member of the canopy (there are others) are Eastern Pine and Bigtooth Aspen. Aspen that high in the air (Aspen is just beginning to lose out to stronger older species (maybe a 40 year clearcut in some spots?) are of no use as fodder. Cutting them should lead to sprouts all over which as I've read are good fodder species.

A near clearcut of the interior of my land from Aspen should provide added light and a further thinning of the maple should begin to solve my problem, which I consider to be a nearly closed canopy of species with questionable use.

What we need to do, (collective we, as permaculturists) is to plant the species to the point we can use them. This is why we plant fruits, and nuts. I am constantly doing a balancing act of trying to get these in the ground because they take so long to produce, while managing the land responsibly. I would appreciate opinions on planting prior to pruning. That is if I'm going to open checkered swathes within a year or two, can the trees go in now. Do i just risk damaging them in felling. Would it be appropriate value to leave them as snags if they risk damaging plantings, or will their slow falling pieces pose even more threat than a controlled cut.

There is a certain are of my property that is nearly a "pine desert' as Sepp might say. This area I value highly for its beauty and protection. I will eventually thin the stand of lesser pines and basically any other sepcies of tree inside (mostly the aspen). The aspen in this are should be girdled I suppose so as to provide snags for wildlife. The pine forest, as I like to call it, will increase in value and hopefully never have to be removed.

I have considered building some animal housing in that pine area. I have read that chickens should be out in an open area, and they were my first thought. That are is a strategic area and perhaps could house a dog at night. I'd love to hear ideas for further utilizing this area of my closed canopy, as well as where you think the best bet for feralish chickens is, closed evergreen canopy, open meadow, edge of a and b, closed deciduous canopy, dappled deciduous canopy, and as well is it perhaps preferable to situate them in the winter in the closed evergreens and spring meadow, fall deciduous)). I've considered azalea and rhododendron and blueberry for nursery stock etc. as a product for closed evergeen canopy.

As I get further from the home of my property (the most valuable thing i think i learned solely from permaculture thus far was the zone system) it ends in what I call a maple swamp. This canopy is nearly closed except a few areas where the standing water has killed enough rootage to topple a few trunks and free the canopy. This space I hope to keep as swamp, but also turn into a highly highly useful area, despite its distance from my house.

This area is the furthest from my thought process right now as spring has me scrambling to deposit my seeds in educated places. As I've read from Ben Law, and as a logging friend of mine let me once know, most of this canopy freeing should be done, November on. The question presented here pertaining most to now for me is if I should begin the change over to fruit and nut trees before freeing canopies.

Even tho the land here is not giant, or small, actually pretty perfectly in the middle for a man with a shovel, I am fortunate to have chosen a land that is all edge in nearly every valuable way. If I keep on being fair with what nature has given me perhaps I can get it right in the first shot and benefit from what the valuable men have taught me in their literature.

 
John Polk
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If I were to start such a clearing project, I would certainly want to get most of it finished before planting out the fruit/nut trees.  It is not just the matter of felling the trees, but the cleanup afterward.  Young seedlings are easily damaged, and not that easy to avoid when you have truckloads of litter to be cleaned up.

Chickens do very well in wooded areas, especially in the heat of summer, when they need lots of shade.  However, if they are egg hens, they may start laying all around the woods.  Egg hens need to be watered, fed, and collected several times per day.  Therefore, I believe they should be in zone 1.  The further away they are, the easier they are to ignore on a blustery cold winter morning.
 
Terri Matthews
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Location: Eastern Kansas
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Bee hives might be a good fit for you.

Bees like sun in the morning to warm things up but they prefer shade when it is hot outt, as it is easier to keep the hive at a comfortable 90 degrees or so. That many living bodies in a wooden box make for a fair amount of heat to get rid of.

Bees need water, and if it is not near their hive then they will go and find somebodies stock tank or swimming pool, which would annoy the neighbors. The ideal water has an area that the bees can stand on while drinking, so many beekeepers put out a large, shallow pan of water and set rocks in it for the bees to stand on while they drink.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Currants, onions, chives, and garlic can do fairly well in the shade. Once established they can reseed themselves. I think you could also do lettuce ginsing, and ginger.
 
Paul Cereghino
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Mushrooms cultured in logs
www.fungi.com
 
John Polk
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If you have areas of deciduous  canopy, you could try wild leeks (aka 'ramps'.  Since Yankee chefs have 'discovered' them, they have become a good ca$h crop.  They are native to Appalachia.

For a good intro to their cultivation, check out:

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/ncnu02/v5-449.html

Once established, they are often the first crop in spring.
 
Tyler Ludens
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What might be planted in dry ground under a closed canopy?  Trees are primarily oak, elm, and juniper.
 
Jeff Hodgins
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Acording to a study I read recently aspen wood can be digested by goats. I'm not saying they'll live on it but you could feed them the smaller branches with leaves. goats seem to love dry tree leaves, green ones not so much.
 
Lee Einer
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Closed canopy sometimes = degraded ecosystem. Many forests are dependent on fire to open them up and renew them.

Setting fires in a forest these days can get you in trouble, but you may need to emulate a fire.

Maples predominating? Is it too many maples or too few syrup processors, and too few harvesters of fine hardwood?
 
rose macaskie
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      I came across a sight for growing mushrooms and they said one problem for the fungi grower was finding wood to grow mushrooms on, i suppose ideally we want to have wood that has not been treated with pesticides and herbicides, maybe your maples would make good sawdust, chips and such for mushroom growers.
      They also said you need somewhere to put the spent mushroom compost it gives you a lot of compost for your garden i suppose.
       Some sorts of maple make good forage for livestock so you could cut the trees down small and keep them as hedges or bushes to provide alternative fooder for live stock.
       It seems a pity not to make a lot of maple syrup. To have a mono crop is not good permaculture but as the world needs woods keeping them is good for sinking carbon dioxide and for bringing rain.

      I like LasVegasLee questions is it too many maples or too few syrup processors or too few harvesters. agri rose macaskie.
 
Lee Einer
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M. Edwards wrote:
Somewhat off-topic, but I thought it'd more or less fit here. Anyone have experience with southern shade being a positive rather than a negative?


Southern shade can be an asset for fruit trees and bushes in areas susceptible to late frosts. The southern shade will keep them dormant somewhat longer, so that they hopefully don't have their blooms killed off by the frost. The effect can be increased, I am told, by painting the trunks white.
 
John Polk
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I have also heard of people plowing/blowing the snow onto the root zone for the same purpose.  Keeping the roots cool can delay the spring awakening.
 
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