Clean up: spruce grove, clearing to the dead trees

Today turned out to be such a hot and sunny day, I took advantage of it to do a bit of work in the spruce grove. Specifically around the dead trees near where we intend to plant the mulberry tree that will be shipped later in the spring.

I normally post the before pictures at the start, and the after pictures near the end, but this time I’m going to set them side by side. It’s the only way I can see the difference 2-3 hours of work resulted in. :-/

Here is the first area, and where the mulberry tree will be planted.

They’re a bit hard to see in the before picture, but there are two steel wheels leaning against the reddish dead tree. Those have joined the “found object” art display for now. 😉 Then there was the remains of what appears to have been a bench made with two logs as support, and another log that I think was just there to sit on.

It must have been a very pleasant place to sit, when they were first set up.

Someone (probably my mother) had gone to some effort to make sure the seats were stable. I found these, under them.

These were under where the bench was, with a group of bricks under where each log would have been. It was a good idea to put the bricks under the logs, but nothing had been done to keep them from sinking into what is essentially composted leaves and spruce needles, so the logs started to rot from below.

It wasn’t until I found these that I realized the other log was intended as a seat, too.

I had to cut away what I thought were two small trees, just to access the area. It wasn’t until I tried to cut them down to ground level that I realized, it wasn’t two trees.

I had to dig out and cut away the roots to get them out, and they were both growing out of the same root, which ran under the bricks.

This was, hands down, the most difficult part of the clean up today. Partly because there were other roots running under the roots I was trying to cut! Some belonged to the dead spruce they were next to, but I later ended up pulling out about 8 feet of root, and never finding out what tree it came from!

While trimming the undergrowth, I realized I need to get thicker gloves than the gardening gloves I’ve been using.

Another reason to encourage the wild roses – they make great security barriers! Those spines go right through ordinary garden gloves!

I don’t mind cutting away the roses for now, though. They will grow back, and with clearing out the other stuff, they should have more sun and space to spread out, too.

It was really hot work, though, so I stopped for a rest in the shade. I look forward to when we set up new seating areas around the yard. It would be much more pleasant than sitting on concrete steps!

With how hot it was feeling, I just had to check the temperature. I was thinking we were certainly about 15C/59F Maybe even approaching 20C/68F


It was 10C/50F

RealFeel, 8C/46F

Yeah. I know. You folks from the south are laughing at me right now! 😀

Meanwhile, the thermometer in the sun room was approaching 30C/86F. I opened the solid doors to allow air circulation through the screen doors, and increased the speed of the ceiling fan, so the onion seedlings would not be too hot!

One of these days, we should set up our own weather station, so we can have more accurate readings!

But I digress…

I did have a visitor while I was taking a break on the stairs.

I love how the woodpecker likes to get to the seeds on the ground by way of the bird feeder’s support. 🙂

Then it was back to clearing away the undergrowth, and working my way towards the stone cross. Here is that section, taken from the same spot I took the first before and after pictures from.

I’m having a hard time seeing the difference between these two pictures. In fact, the “after” picture looks worse, because I didn’t line the angle up the same. :-/ Trust me. I did take out quite a bit of undergrowth in the distance!

In the second picture, you can see the tarp covering the junk pile. The tree beside it is dead, as is the tree my supplies are under. That whole area is full of spirea. It’s better to pull those up by the roots, but I just didn’t have the energy for that, today. Too hot! 😀

I worked more into this area.

In the before picture, I’d already started cleaning up the undergrowth a bit. The row of trees you can see on the right are part of north edge of the spruce grove. My older brother planted those, before I was born. It’s hard to believe they were planted at the same time as the huge spruces on the north edge of the grove, but there were three rows planted, close together. The further into the grove the rows were planted (at a time when the rest of the grove’s trees were in their prime), the less light they got, and the less growth there was. I’d cleaned up along the north side of the grove, taking out a lot of little dead spruces in the process. Hopefully, the more things are cleaned up, the better it will be for the surviving trees.

Most of the large spruces in the pictures are dead, so once those are cleaned up, that will allow a lot more light into here. If their trunks are still solid enough, I want to turn them into supports for benches and maybe a table or two. Over time, more spruces will be transplanted into the spruce grove, as well as more food trees – the mulberry tree being our first – that need the extra protection these spruces will give them. The mulberry tree should grow quite large, and will provide quite a bit of shade, so we need to keep things open around where we plant it. Long term, I want this area to be a pleasant, park-like setting. I will have to keep in mind that the benches and possible tables that I hope to make on the tree trunks nearby will end up covered with berries when the mulberry tree gets bigger! I’ve read warnings that mulberry trees can be quite messy. 😀

I’m sure the birds will clean it up for us, though. 😉

I probably won’t get a chance to work here again for a while, as we are supposed to start snowing tomorrow evening, and it will be a few days before the temperatures warm up again. I want to get the spirea out, in particular – they’re lovely, but very invasive, so we’re keeping them in one area of the yard, and taking them out everywhere else. I know some of what I’ve already taken out today were chokecherry trees. We have lots of those, and it turns out they can be invasive, too! What we really want to clear up around are the Saskatoon bushes. These ones are still healthy, and keeping the area around them clear and open will help keep them that way. They are crowded by spirea and chokecherry right now, so when I work my way to where they are, I will back off until they are in full leaf, or even starting to bloom, so I don’t accidentally cut any down, mistaking them for chokecherry.

Today has been a very deceiving day! It got so hot, and when I was shoveling around those roots, I didn’t hit any ice or frozen ground at all. Quite a few of our garden seeds say to direct sow “as soon as the ground can be worked.” Well, that would be now, but it’s still another month an a half before our last frost date. Not only are we expected to have snow starting tomorrow evening, but we could easily get more snow later in the month, or even in May, so anything we tried to sow would likely not survive.

Which is fine for now. We can’t do anything until the garden soil is delivered! I keep forgetting to call about it. I’m sure the soil is thawed out enough to load into their trucks by now, and I still need someone to come by so we can look at where would be the best places to drop the loads.

I get excited, just thinking about it! 😀 The girls and I are so looking forward to gardening this year!

The Re-Farmer

9 thoughts on “Clean up: spruce grove, clearing to the dead trees

      • Shoe melt season starts in mid to late June and ends around mid September. Where I live, is not desert. It used to be a desert, but now that it’s all urbanized, it’s now just a city that’s hot. In the *real desert*, it’ll get almost to 50C during the day, but “plunge” to around 20C at night.

        In the cold, I’d probably give a new definition to “blue moon” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • And to think, there’s the Urban Heat Island effect, too! I’m used to cities being several degrees hotter than the surrounding area. Pretty wild when it’s the other way around!


      • Yup. It’s amazing what a difference lack of humidity makes. And in urban centres, all that brick, concrete, glass etc. would be releasing heat for quite some time after the sun goes down.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: It’s crowded out there! | The Re-Farmer

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