[permaculture] [Fwd: Re: Clearing Land]

Lawrence F. London, Jr. lfl at intrex.net
Wed Jan 29 15:19:35 EST 2003


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Clearing Land
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 09:32:59 -0500
From: Frank Teuton <fteuton at SYMPATICO.CA>
Reply-To: Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group <SANET-MG at LISTS.IFAS.UFL.EDU>

Hi daniel,

Alder indicates good soil, and is a nitrogen fixer in its own right, so the
prognosis is good for your land...:-)

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/environment/eao/culres/ethbot/a-c/Alnusrubra.htm

http://csf.colorado.edu/perma/tilth/alder.html

You've heard from others about some methods, so here are my ideas:

For the area you are clearing, cut the trees, harvest burnable size wood
(>3" diameter) and chip the rest for mulch and composting. With diameters
less than 7", I would be inclined to remove the stumps with a mattock rather
than bring on heavy equipment, but you might find a portable stump grinder
to be worth the labor savings....it would also leave you with no stumps to
dispose of.

I would like to inject a heretical note on the subject of tillage. I am a
longtime reader of Ruth Stout's work, and an interested practitioner of deep
mulching, lasagna gardening, composting with lots of leaves and wood chips,
and other things you might think would make me a gardener with a fungally
dominated soil, thus not so suitable for growing vegetables.

But, my experiences have shown me that even with lots of 'fungal foods',
plants such as brassicas (kale, cabbage, broccoli) do just fine in my soil,
and these are supposed to be the most bacterial of the row crops.

So, my advice would be to forego tillage to the extent you reasonably can,
and use the alder branchwood for chipping and mulching. Crops that ought to
do especially well in alder chip amended soil might include strawberries,
bramble fruits and potatoes; but, any crops might prosper there, in my
experience...can't guarantee that will be your experience, but you can check
around locally for advice, keeping in mind that there are some dogmas
floating around that might impede you getting truly experiential accounts...

Explanations for why even broccoli will grow well in a diverse organic soil
amended with leaves and woodchips could include the idea that as long as no
direct competition from tree roots is present, and as long as the organisms
the broccoli needs for its roots are present, the presence of other
organisms does not keep it from organizing the team of microbial mutualists
it needs, and so it does well. My experience is based on very rich garden
soils, not relatively depleted field soils...YMMV.

Something well worth reading for anyone considering working with wood chips
is:

http://www.sbf.ulaval.ca/brf/regenerating_soils_98.html

I've been around east coast wood chips since I was kid, and this corresponds
well with my own experiences.

I think you can expect chipped alder branchwood to disappear pretty quickly;
lightly mixed in with the surface soil, in a matter of months under warm,
moist conditions. Larger wood, and stump and root material, will have longer
persistence.

Consider using the cut alder for garden structures, such as trellises,
compost piles, gates and fences, etc, as well as for fuel wood. You could
also bundle suitable alder and sell it as a specialty smoking wood, like
mesquite, and this would be another way to make the land pay in the early
years, and perhaps even forever...

Hope that helps,

Frank Teuton






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