Removing Trees For More Light
If you are going to grow vegetables and other foods, if you are gardening extensively, you know that many ingredients go into the garden system. One such part of this system that I used to take for granted, but not any more, is direct sunlight. Yes, but, although many plants do well in partial shade, most of our vegetables will simply suffer if left sunlight deprived.
When we first came to Maine and began gardening in the existing plot my dad had always used, we experienced only partial success. We worked hard on soil improvement, using compost and adding organic matter when we could. But despite the soil having excellent consistency, that garden did not perform very well. All one had to do was look in the direction that the sun came from, and you’d instantly see a big clue: There was a large stand of pine trees growing between the garden and the sun. Well, just cut the trees down, you might say. Problem was that they are situated on the other side of the property boundary. They belonged to the neighbor, and he was growing that stand for the market. It did not take very long to figure out that we’d have to come up with a plan B, if we were to grow most of our own vegetables.
Turns out that our plan B was to create two new gardens in an area where we could control the sunlight. The first big challenge was roto-tilling and removing rocks from the area earmarked for gardening. We had two gardens to build. One received decent sun during the morning hours, but then by early afternoon it went into shade because of a huge hemlock tree right up next to the house. The goats told us that the hemlock had to come down. They did so by girdling the trunk of the tree. They literally took the bark off of it all the way around, and in fact the tree began to die. No two ways about it. Trees had to come down to let in more light, and this time the trees were on our property. Yea!
I have a chainsaw, and sort of know how to use it. But I limit myself to smaller trees, say, six or eight inches in diameter. And nothing really close to the house as my aim when it comes to dropping trees (guiding their descent) is not all that great. It turns out that our dental hygienist told us of someone in the area who does tree work, so we gave him a call. He has had his crew over twice now, once last fall and now this spring. It really pays to hire a professional if in doubt. They took down about thirty trees, two-thirds being hardwoods. All I have to do is buck the logs into firewood length. My neighbor is taking a few of the softwoods. After the first batch of trees came down, an old truck had to be removed from the new garden site. Then another crew dug out the stumps, since this was going to be part of the garden, as well.
We had the tree crew back again this spring to take down another batch of trees that prevented sunlight from coming in from the west. And the goats’ hemlock tree was part of this grouping. Although at the moment there is something of a mess of branches and logs in the yard, we are extremely pleased, as the sunlight comes in so nicely.
The investment was well worth it. The tree crew had done in four hours what it would have taken me a couple of months. Plus we will recoup much of the pay-out in firewood savings. Our gardens and two greenhouses are being bathed in sunlight. And also, now we have room to begin our orchard. So if you think you can’t make a go of homesteading because of serious shade issues, you can open up a nice size garden. The work cost about fifteen hundred dollars, though we will save about a thousand in firewood. I would shop around and get an estimate, to help make your dream homestead possible.
Thats about it for this week. Join us next week as we talk about seedlings.