Clean Up: spruce grove perimeter, by the Saskatoons

One of the clean up goals that got shifted back a year, due to my husband’s hospitalization and other issues last year, was to clear the spruce grove. Not all of it; parts of it will be left overgrown to shelter critters. I do want to get most of it cleared. This will be a multi-year project, but at the very least, I want to get the perimeter done.

That was supposed to include clearing around and into the junk pile, but now that we know Butterscotch’s kittens are in there, that will wait.

We never did get a chance to clear things out to reach the Saskatoon bushes near the junk pile, but I still wanted to get that done so we can reach them, and the chokecherry trees beside them.

Here is how it looked when I started.

The spruce tree in the foreground is still alive, while the tree on the left of the photo is dead, as is the one by the junk pile on the right of the photo.

(Also, I set up containers for kibble and water for the babies, and yes, they’ve already discovered them!)

There had been quite a few bushes and spirea at the base of the live spruce tree, and crowding the horseradish, that I cleared away a couple of nights ago (it was too dark for photos at the time), so a start has already been made in this area.

The first thing to do was cut away the elms that have been growing in the old wine barrel planter that used to be such a favorite place for the kittens to nap and play in. Then I began working a bit towards the junk pile. Not too far, though, as the spirea in there creates places for them to hide in.

I’d forgotten about that tire rim that was buried in there… 😀

After moving the tire rim into the old wine barrel planter, I discovered something else.

Those are concrete blocks, buried in the soil!

When we first moved here, the wine barrel on its side in the bushes was intact enough that the cats would sit on it. It was another favorite spot for them, until it rotted out enough that the staves collapsed! 😀

It looks like the tire rim was placed on top of the blocks, then the barrel on top of the tire rim until it eventually got knocked over. Unlike the planter, this was a whole barrel, not one cut in half to be a planter. I don’t know what it was set up for.

I’ve left the blocks for now, and did not clear further around the remains of the barrel. I figure this makes a nice spot for kittens to play in!

I didn’t want to go any closer to the junk pile – I don’t want Butterscotch to move her babies! – so I started working around the other side. Some of this area, I’d cleared before, but it doesn’t take long for spirea to spread out again!

Here is how it looked when I stopped for the day.

I would have liked to continue, but even working in the shade, it was just getting too hot.

The Saskatoon bushes are still loaded with – now dried – berries. I’m sure the birds will enjoy what we could not harvest. The chokecherry trees in there should be ready for picking fairly soon. It is likely too late in the season to make a difference this year, but clearing up around them will likely result in better growing and fruiting conditions, too.

Here is another view.

For this photo, I’m standing near the horseradish and facing right into the Saskatoon bushes, with a few chokecherry branches hanging over from the side.

This is how it looks from further in.

All those skinny little trunks you see on the right half of the photo are chokecherries and Saskatoon bushes.

When I worked in here previously, I’d cleared away the spirea up to a spruce tree with an extension cord hanging down from it. So most of this area had already been done. I only worked closest to the Saskatoon bushes and chokecherry trees for now. Eventually, I want to clear all the spirea out of here. There are wild roses growing not far from here, and I would like to encourage those to spread, instead.

As for this area near the edge of the spruce grove, I want to keep it clear of undergrowth. It’s one of the areas I want to eventually set up a bench and create a little haven, near the stone cross my late brother set up at the very edge of the grove. If possible, this would be an area I’d like to encourage moss to grow as a ground cover.

It was a fairly small area that got cleared, but there was a lot in it! I was able to pull most of the spirea out by the roots. With some of them, there was a LOT of root coming up with them! The topsoil here is decades of decomposed spruce needles, so it’s quite loose, making it much easier to get those roots out.

Eventually, we will have the tree company that cleared our roof and power lines come back and take out the two dead spruce trees here. We were supposed to get that done this spring, or at least get the chipping done, but we ended up spending all our money fixing vehicles and replacing appliances. We probably won’t be able to get it done this year at all.

Which gives me more time to clean up the area, which will make it easier for them to get at the dead trees.

Little by little, it’ll get done!

The Re-Farmer

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