Friday, October 18, 2013

Forest Management

A mostly sunny, breezy day in the mid 60s. It was supposed to rain last night but didn't.

It's been 11 days now since we got half an inch of rain, but when I test around the new katsura or where I transplanted the dwarf deutzias on the east side, the soil is still damp.

I wandered out onto the back hill today, unprepared, just wearing my deck shoes and no gloves. I did have the pruners with me and thought to clip a few stray things, but instead I got totally immersed in forest management.

When I went just a little way into the stand of trees it was evident that bittersweet was choking everything. You don't see it from a distance, but once in under the trees I can see it is everywhere.

I scrambled around in the dense brush and cut off the vines and pulled down what I could.

The right way is to cut the vine and then paint Vine-X on the cut to kill the root, but in all the tangle out there I can't do that.

I can barely move, and I need the pruners at each step to clear what wraps around my feet as I step.

Here are my methods of forest management as I try to control the competition of vines, weeds, and the trees I am trying to grow:

Constantly cut and chop each vine. 
In spring and in autumn when it is cool enough and the bugs are not so bad, I need to go out there and cut the vines off the trees.

Just chop away. I have no chance of real control with Vine-X or by uprooting the vines, so it's the constancy of repeated chops that are a way to keep the worst at bay.

They come back, and I'll never eliminate them, but I can keep the vines off the trees if I repeatedly get out there with the pruners.

Walk around and flatten the weeds. 
I found that I can keep a sunny, open area around saplings by simply tromping around them and flattening the weeds with my feet. It's easy enough to do, no tools, no weedwhacker, no effort. Just walk around the area by each tree.

If I do that several times early in summer, it does hold the weeds down. They don't overwhelm the area and bury the plants I'm trying to encourage. By opening up around them I can keep an eye on the smallest saplings.

If I make an effort to get out there with the pruners more often in spring and fall, and if I remember to tromp around in the areas I want to open up several times in the summer, I feel I am managing my forest.

Here's another issue I need to manage in my forest: the cottonwood that was barely my height when we moved in 9 years ago is tall and skinny and is dominating the back hill now. This photo shows it in late September.

It needs to come down. Not only will it get even bigger and messier and more dominating, but it is growing out at an angle on the steep hillside. It is weak wooded, and at its tilted pitch, I can see it falling over in a storm.

It needs to be removed now while it is still skinny. That's going to be an issue.