Archive for September, 2009

The Kindest Cut

Monday, September 28th, 2009

As trees mature, their larger size may present the homeowner with a problem, because the tree was planted (or grew naturally) in the wrong place; e.g. it was planted too close to a house, or the branches hang over a powerline. Many people respond to a problem tree by having it topped. However, topping the tree will not solve the problem of the plant being in the wrong place.

Topping Not The Solution

A topped tree can regain its original height in as little as two years, and you are right back in the same situation; plus you have a severely weakened tree on your hands because of the damage done by the topping.

If a tree has out grown its space (for whatever reason), the best solution is to remove the tree completely and replant the area with a tree that will fit the spot through all stages of its life.

Fit The Space

The decision to remove a live tree that has started to cause problems may be difficult at best, or even heart-wrenching if you have emotional ties to it, such as one that was planted for a special occasion or as a memorial to a family member. As difficult as it may be, however, sometimes the kindest cut of all is the one made at the base of the trunk.

The Kindest Cut

While removing a tree may cost more than topping, over time you will spend more time and money if you top a tree because it must be done over and over again, until the tree finally expires anyway.


Eating Trees

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

Well………….fall is upon us and it’s time to be eating some of our trees; actually, not the whole tree, just the fruits and nuts some of our species produce! If you can beat out the squirrels, deer, and other woodland denizens, there may be some tasty morsels left out there in your woodland, backyard, or local “waste lot.”

True nuts, of course, come from trees. Thus, peanuts, corn nuts, and other such commercial confections come from something other than trees. Apples and pears come from trees, but they’re not nuts; but they’re still good and good for you. Deer, bears, raccoons, squirrels, et. al. also love them, so be ready for competition.

There are several native nuts out there (not including the human ones) that are good tasting, and good for you. Walnuts and pecans probably top the list, and are probably most familiar to many Missourians. Hazelnuts are also a favorite, although it is really difficult to beat the wild beasties to a crop of these babies. If you do, you’re in for a treat.

Occasionally, one can find chestnuts under a planted Chinese chestnut, if there are other chestnuts around to help with pollination. Hybrid and non-native chestnuts are finding more favor among folks, so there may be more out there coming into bearing age. Check them out. Chestnuts are good eating…………especially when roasted on an open fire.

My personal favorite (although I like all nuts) is shellbark hickory nuts. I don’t get them too often because shellbark is not common around my home area, at least in a place I can get to. Not many people collect them, nor do they like to process them because they are usually difficult to crack and pick. But, oh when you find a good shellbark nutmeat, yummy, yummy!

Among the tree fruits, other than the apples, pears, plums, etc., persimmon and paw paws have their devotees. However, I have found that you must catch their fruits at just the right time, if you are to get the true enjoyment of their taste. Eating a persimmon before it frosts can be quite an experience your taste buds will repel, while the banana-like taste of paw paw sometimes takes a leap of faith to identify, if the paw paw isn’t just right in ripeness.

So, check out some of the trees in your neighborhood to see if there is something out there to pique your taste buds. Remember, to get permission from a land or homeowner before you harvest fruits or nuts not on your property. In general, fruits and nuts can be gathered from most public lands, as long as they are for personal use. However, be sure to check with the local manager(s) to make sure you don’t violate some regulation for a specific area.

Trees are not just for shade anymore; they may also be furnishing lunch this time of the year.

Recycling Leaves

Friday, September 4th, 2009

It’s almost fall, and one of the more onerous chores of home ownership is about to happen; if you have trees on the property. Yes, it will soon be time to rake up and dispose of all those leaves that accumulate in those places where you prefer to have grass and/or flowers growing. Out in the woods, leaves are disposed of by Mother Nature herself through the decomposition process that results in a rich spongy topsoil. It is home to worms and other soil organisms that help in the process, and it serves the future forest by soaking up water and providing nutrients, as well as a good growing medium for new seedlings.

If you are raking and piling up leaves anyway, why not take advantage of the situation and use them to make your own good topsoil, instead of sending them off in a bag to an organic recycling center? How is this done? Through composting that you do yourself. Composting is the same process described above, only speeded up. It is simply the biological decomposition of organic wastes under controlled conditions. With a little work and in whatever space your yard allows, large quantities of leaves, twigs, garden refuse, and grass can be reduced to rich topsoil in as little as one to three months. You know the compost is ready when your pile becomes a dark, granular mass that resembles peat moss, and the individual ingredients are no longer recognizable.

If you’d like to try composting, the following illustration from the National Arbor Day Foundation shows how it’s done.

How To Make A Compost Pile

Although the end product is not a fertilizer, compost does offer these benefits:

1. It’s an inexpensive way to dispose of leaves without using landfills or polluting the air by burning.

2. When added to the garden or tree planting site, compost improves the physical properties of the soil for better root growth by making clays and sandy soils more like loams, decreasing soil crusting and cracking, improving water infiltration and retention, and improving aeration.

So, if you’re looking for a better way to deal with those leaves that are coming down in a few weeks, getting into composting may just be the way for you.