Tj Jefferson wrote:The way people clear on the east coast with the insane rapid growth is to cut, grub the roots, and burn it all. Then they fence and run grazers.
Tj Jefferson wrote:I have done quite a bit of research on how to turn forest into savanna. I have watched Greg Judy, Alan Savory and multiple others until I can recite them (not really, that would be weird).
What I have is mature garbage forest of sweetgum and white pine, acres of it. The pines apparently had a borer infestation not too long ago, and they are rotting at the bases and falling down. This really accelerated this spring, which was long and very wet. There are hanging trees throughout at this point, and the gums are now the main canopy in most of it. None of the wood has structural value to me, and people here won't even take it as firewood. Mills will absolutely not accept either species here, and even pulp companies will take them if you transport (its a small acreage, nobody likes these jobs). So it is a pretty dangerous, not very rich environment. For those uninitiated, sweetgums are just one step more desirable than gonorrhea. Goats will eat them if there is nothing else, but they are very good at turning fields into forest, and it will take years of intensive goat therapy to get some other canopy tree. They sucker up incredibly fast, much faster than any tree around here. Very hard to clear in Greg Judy fashion, since I don't have acreage for more than maybe 2 cows in grass.
I cleared about an acre with tools I have available, just a chainsaw and a tractor. I built hugels, hundreds of feet of them, and they are great. And that acre took probably a year of my disposable time. I have a lot more area to work on, and the falling trees and dense sweetgums means a perimeter fence to contain LGDs is not an option, not even to install much less maintain. The area I cleared needs browsers, which need LGDs, and I just had to reclear most of that acre I cleared last year. I feel like I am on a treadmill.
The way people clear on the east coast with the insane rapid growth is to cut, grub the roots, and burn it all. Then they fence and run grazers. I would need industrial machinery to hugel a fraction of the remaining woods. This is a crisis of faith, evil me says pay to have it cleared, do the earthworks/fences/ponds and install more desirable species. There will be more sweetgums every year, they just do that, and I can hugel to my hearts content. Kinder gentler me says this should be done with animal labor. I have tried for a year to see how that would look.
The sweetgums are now largely free of the pine cover, and are really growing. They are getting so big I can't safely handle them with my tools. This means doing it a little at a time is falling off the table.
I am really thinking maybe these "hicks" know more than I do. Which happens with regularity, living in a rural area is quite humbling. It's a benefit not a curse.
Maybe you could compromise? Clearing costs $100-$200/acre in Texas last time I asked. No telling what it costs there. What if you paid to clear enough of it to fence to keep LGDs in and run grazers to keep that part clear? Then you could either do a little more as money allows, or keep trying to find a DIY method?
Bryant RedHawk wrote:Sweet gum is a nasty tree but there are mills that use that wood (in the Carolinas).
Sweet gum is fire resistant so the best thing to do is drop and rot them if you are wanting to make a savanna type system.
The gums have to be dropped, usually by chain saw (unless you have a huge track machine with a cutter head (approx. 150,000 dollars used)
The safe way is to make the wedge cut then two cuts (one from either side) to make the drop, when you hear the crack it is time to run away far and fast.
Fungi love sweet gum, this is a factor to remember since it only takes mycelium about a year to fully occupy a 90 foot x 5 foot log.
Once the trees are just stumps you can drill 1 inch holes and fill with mushroom slurries to get that rot process going, it will spread all the way to the ends of the roots in about a year.
Once this happens, no more "sprouts" will show up and the soil will be getting richer all the while.
The best way to go about doing a clear cut by yourself is to take out the largest first, this stops the issues of hangers quite a lot since these trees are heavy enough to break through the smaller trees.
I like to use a spray can of blue paint (color is a matter of choice) and mark every tree with a number that corresponds to the felling order I plan to use.
This way I can cut in a logical order, and should I find some folks that are willing to help, they know where to cut, an arrow on the tree shows the direction it needs to fall.
You might be able to find some others with chain saws, talk to them about having a felling party where you provide the food or make it a pot luck affair.
It will cost more, but I'm betting it'll be a lot cheaper than a hospital bill.
How much money could you make off this piece of property? How many years would it take you doing hand work to start making that money? Stuff like that often helps me make decisions.
Tj Jefferson wrote:Josh,
No where near Fairfax, I'm in central VA about an hour out of Richmond. If you have contact info I would be interested. I am willing to wait a year on the stumps if it saves me that kind of money. I have a huge pile of rotting wood chips with lots of mycotic activity I can make a slurry from. I am even thinking about just making a pile of chips over each stump.
Bryant, would that be as effective? This has rotted for a season and there are fruiting bodies all over the place. It would sure be easier, I have no generator and I am trying to limit acquisition of "stuff". I have a tree service giving me a quote for the section with the power lines and hangers. That is beyond my comfort zone.
Sarah Koster wrote:This probably isn't helpful, but in the off chance that it MIGHT be... would it be possible to temporarily flood the area? I don't know if it would even kill the gumballs, or how long it would take, or whether it would do other harm to the land. The reason people flood rice fields is to kill plants that compete with rice but are less tolerant of flooding than rice, so maybe...... you could drown the trees if it's in a depression where water outlets could be dammed up relatively easily. And maybe get some beavers or something. They're great at killing trees. Sorry if it sounds weird but in all seriousness there are SOME locations where it could work, it's just a long shot.
Bryant RedHawk wrote:
That will work Tj, if you can make a few axe cuts at the stump rim the mycelium will be able to really get a good foot hold and invade very quickly. ( you can do a burn and dowse of some of those trunks and branches so you get some charcoal for the soil too! )