After giving my hips a chance to recover, it was time for more manual labour today!
Today, I decided to do a bit more cleanup around the junk pile, so I could access some dead trees that need to be taken down.
Here is how it looked before I started.
We have our ongoing battle with the spirea that’s choking everything out, so I wanted to pull them up by the roots as much as possible.
Some of them had roots so long, they started going under things. I pushed them aside after a certain point, so I could focus on clearing around three specific dead trees.
The thistles were much more of a problem. The thorns go right through my work gloves!
I did leave on thing behind, besides some wildflowers.
There was a little Saskatoon bush, at the base of one of the trees, and it’s actually trying to produce berries! Weather willing, the berries you see will turn a deep, dark purple, and look a bit like blueberries.
Once the area was cleared of tripping hazards, I started taking down the first tree, using a bucksaw. Because of where these trees are, I tried to do it in such a way that it would fall in a space between some other spruces. I didn’t want it falling towards the open yard, because then it might land on the beet bed or compost pile, or some Saskatoon bushes and an elm tree we want to keep.
It almost worked.
It fell too far to the south, and got hung up on another dead tree, that’s right nest to a still live one.
I was able to wrap some rope around the trunk and get it off the stump, but it would not come loose from the dead tree it was entangled in.
So I moved on to the next tree. This time, it actually fell into the gap I wanted it to fall into.
It still got hung up! I had hoped these trees would be heavy enough that the dead branches would break and let them fall to the ground, but apparently, they are still quite strong.
On the plus side, I was very pleased with what I saw after cutting them down.
The wood is nice and solid, with no sign of rot or ant damage. This is very encouraging, because I want to use the logs. These nice, solid stumps will later be used to make seats and tables.
Here is how it looked when I stopped for the day. I did try to use the rope and our van to try and get that first tree loose from the dead tree it’s hooked up on, but the rope kept breaking. We don’t have any stronger rope. If we’re going to need to use the van anyhow, I will pick up some sturdy rope and hook it up to near the base of the trunks, and pull the entire trees out into the yard, where we will break them down.
Since the wood is in such good shape, these will be used to make the high raised beds we will be building in the main garden area, where we currently have the low raised beds we’d planted spinach, onions and carrots in. I’m thinking of cutting the logs into 10 ft and 4 ft lengths, and I figure it will take about 4 logs to get the accessible height we are after, though of course, that will depend on how big the individual trees are. We don’t have a lot of time left, if we want to get these ready for next year. I’m hoping to get at least a couple built for next year. By using whole logs like this, we won’t have any concerns about the sides bowing out under the weight of the layers of wood, compostable materials and soil they will be filled with.
Once these dead trees closer to the edge of the spruce grove are down, we’ll be able to feel the other ones towards the yard, and there will be no other trees for them to get hung up on!
Once all the dead trees in this corner are down, and the area is cleaned up, we will be able to convert the trunks into seating and surfaces. Then we can start planting food trees that need a protected microclimate. I will be testing the soil, and if the acidity from all those decades of spruce needles is high enough, I hope to be able to plant blueberries. We do still want to grow a mulberry tree, since the one we got this spring got killed off by that one cold night in May, and it was in here that we originally intended to plant it. I think, this time, we will try and get a Canadian variety we found out about, that is increasingly endangered. We will still need the microclimate for it, but if we can help keep a variety at risk going, that’s what we prefer to do, if we can.
There are a lot more dead trees further to the east and around to the south, inside the spruce grove. Some will also have their trunks converted to seating, but as we go further into the grove, I want to start transplanting more spruces into the spruce grove! 🙂
While we are getting rid of the spirea, we will be leaving the wild roses and red bark dogwood as underbrush. I will probably take out most of the chokecherries I’m finding in here, as there are so many, to make room for the Saskatoons to spread. We will also be transplanting new spruces in here, though more strategically. Lots to do, but I am really looking forward to when we have a lovely little sanctuary in here, where we can sit and enjoy the outdoors, somewhat protected from the elements by the trees. 🙂
For now, however, I’m going to get some tweezers, and get that thistle thorn that got through my gloves!