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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Honey Locust Nightmare in the Making?

In addition to fighting Poison Ivy, I have discovered Honey Locust.
Those thorns are as long as my index finger.

Apparently I am going to learn how to eradicate Honey Locust from the little woods.  They are a nitrogen fixing "pioneer" species of tree that works hard at protecting and feeding other (not thorny) young trees as it helps to turn grasslands back into forests.   The Internet (and more specifically, Google), is not giving me much encouragement that I can win this war - even if I resort to toxic chemicals and fire.  What are we getting ourselves into?  I am really hoping that the two giant canopy trees that we have seen are not - honey locust!  (Named after the locust because they are a plague?) 

Possible Battle Tactics
I read from here that one might be able to use a blow torch to burn the thorns and then harvest the tree.  Make sure to rake up debris to get dropped thorns and then burn.  According to the thread, the trees themselves appear to make good firewood.

Suggestion here is that, if you are desperate and resort to chemicals, to put a dye in it, so you know you hit your target.  Chemicals to apply to the cut stump to prevent suckering can be found here and here

More labor intensive, but less chemically toxic method here.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beginnings of a Tree Planting Plan

The initial set of trees.
Planning.  Did I mention that Planning is a favorite hobby of mine?  This plan will probably change 3, 4, 5, 20 times before we actually planting anything; however, it makes for good entertainment on a cold, Winter's night.

Purpose of these plantings will be to 1) screen the neighbors so we can pretend we are in the middle of nowhere, 2) provide future firewood for when we put in a fireplace in the next few years, 3) drain the boggy soggy area in the lower left area, 4) provide some pretty spring flowers along the driveway.  What is not pictured here are the location of the 6 or so fruit trees that I will plant during the fall of 2015.  And ditto for the blueberry and raspberries that will go in, also.  I will be busy enough with observations and filling out an overall plan for this property that I won't be ready to start my "food forest" until fall.  That's a better tree planting time, anyway, for things that I will actually put some care into. 

  • Large Olive Circle: The Weeping Willow that my husband has been wanting for at least 15 years
  • Small Olive Circle: Some kind of fast growing conifer - a thuja or some kind of cypress
  • Small Bright Green Circle: Hybrid Poplar (probably only keep 5 years and then cut)
  • Small Pink Circle: Flowering ornamental to parallel future driveway
  • Yellow Dashed Lines: Double wide future driveway
  • Green Dashed Lines: Some upright hybrid willows to suck up some of the water in the soggy areas.
  • Orange Dashed Lines: Property lines, easements, and setbacks

Trade-offs and Compromises

TVA Power Easement - 75 feet from the middle of the power lines into our property.
When purchasing any property, home, or even a car, there are always trade-offs.  Hopefully, we are going into this knowing what "defects" we are accepting.   And, with my background in Permacutlure, we are hoping that we can make the "problem be the solution."

So, trade-off number 1 - The Tennessee Valley Association owns a 75 foot wide easement on one side of the property.  Means that there can be no trees grown and no structures built (including fences) on that part of the property.  Means it's also kind of ugly to see the tower on either side of the property along this side. The upside being, that the other people's property also has a 75 foot TVA easement - so the closest anyone could build on that side of us is 150 feet.  We can live with that, especially since there are no buildings/houses on that property right now, and it is mostly wild and wooded.  And, second bonus, there are no towers actually on our property. 

Compromises.  We got: close to work for both of us, high speed internet connection, more than 3 acres, 15 minutes from a grocery store (maybe less the way I drive), less than that to a gas station, 25 minutes from the heart of town (i.e. like to the farmer's market), trees and more trees, close to the Dodge Dealership. A place with lots of potential.

What we wish wish we didn't have, but are going to move forward with mitigating: neighbors on 3 sides.  Like a track home neighborhood.  They are most likely excellent people, and I have nothing against them other than that they are closer than a mile to us.  Ah, well, planting more trees so we won't see their houses and can pretend we are in the Smokey Mountains.  And maybe I can sell tomatoes to them? ... Rock on and near the surface.  Like, bedrock rock.  Like trees can't grow in it rock.  Luckily, I can raise bed garden on it.  Can I grow 10 feet of soil on it and then plant trees?  Ah, the gauntlet has been thrown. ... Falling down wire fences.  Well, there is a very nice cattle gate, but most of the once high tensile fencing is now low sagging barely fencing.  Mostly the wire is being held up by shrubs (and, shudder, poison ivy!)  Some of the wire might be good.  Perhaps it is a lifetime supply of trellis wire?  It is probably too stretched and old to become fencing again.  But trellis wire, I could use.  Like how that works - the problem becomes the solution.  Waste not, want not.  The hubby has already found an iron bracket in the trash pile that he wants.  

Surface Rock - looks like granite to my untrained eye.
What we're hoping we didn't get: a money pit!  Ok, I am sure we got a money pit - it will take all of our time and money to develop this property - but the journey, ah, the journey will be well worth it.  So blessed to have a little piece of land to steward.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Outdoor Project No. 1 - Extend Driveway

Outdoor Project No. 1
Ok, yes, I know. we have not even closed on the house yet, and we are already acting as if it was ours!  But, my hobbies include Researching and Planning (and Facebook!), and so here I am, Planning. 

Took this picture on the day I met the home inspector at the house.  From the street, the driveway goes up the side of the house and then makes a small rectangle of parking area in front of the garage.  Actually, for most people, it makes a fairly big parking area - 4 cars can fit OK in it.  For a True Mopar Enthusiast, professional diesel mechanic, and hobby dirt track racer, however, this is a tiny driveway and parking area.  Can't even turn around any of our trailers. So, before even moving in, we have to extend the driveway.  Like, 100 feet.

Remove the fence from the left all the way to the X to the right of my truck, salvaging as best as possible, as I have designs on painting it and using it in my garden.  The red X's represent things that need to go - like the fence and several shrubs.  After working so hard in the desert to keep trees and shrubs alive, we are loath to remove them; however, we have a few acres worth of trees at this point,  and these ones have to go.  :(  I'm not good at rooting shrubs yet, but I may take some cuttings and stick them in the ground in our "forest" and see what happens.  Double wide driveway between the dotted yellow lines about a 100 feet from the fence towards the back of the property.

Of course, that makes my husband happy about this project, but what makes me happy?  Thinking about extending the tree line on the left out parallel to the new driveway.  Pink and White Crepe Myrtles?  Besides Magnolia and Lilac not much else says, "I love The South" like Crepe Myrtles.  Ok, maybe Honey Suckle and Jasmine, but I am talking trees, here, and fairly rapidly growing trees.  Showed the handsome half of this team some pictures of Crepe Myrtles lining a street.  He didn't look impressed.  Never let that stop me before, so, the thinking is still Crepe Myrtles.

Now, what would really make me happy is to plant plums and peaches and other fruiting trees, but this close to the driveway, they are probably not practical.  They also don't grow as fast as, say, Crepe Myrtles; however, that doesn't mean that I wouldn't put a few dwarf fruit trees in, just for diversity's sake.

Dreaming of Spring Time and Summer; however, everything is looking rather gray and brown right now. Still, all of that grass will turn emerald green and start growing at a rate of 6 inches a week once the sun returns around March or April.  And that brown oak tree - once Spring Fever hits it, the new, green leaves will push the brown ones out, and we'll have a mini-Autumn Fall.  Google Maps showed the line of small trees on the left as being dark red (the photo was from April), so maybe they are cherry or plumbs (fruiting or not)?  Can't wait to see what secrets Nature has in store for us here.

Mystery Trees Along the Existing Driveway

Monday, December 22, 2014

Tennessee & Other Wildlife Resources

National Wildlife Federation - Backyard Wildlife Habitat Certification

Rutherford County - Online Burn Permits - Needed October 15 to May 15.

Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency

Tennessee Watchable Wildlife - includes plans to make bird houses and bat houses

University of Tennessee - Wildlife Food Plot PDF

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Trees, Lovely Trees!

 (Click on photos to see larger versions.)
"Forest" Edge in Winter.
The trees have definitely  taken advantage of any pockets of dirt wherever people have not worked to keep the wooded at bay.  Less than 20 years, and the young, wannabe forest would happily take over the whole property, if given half a chance.  Going to be using everything I have studied and researched over the last 30 years to manage the woods and extend it.  Right now, the woods take up about 1/2 of the property - but mostly brambles and young trees growing too close together.  Some judicious culling, and some of the smaller trees should get their chance to race to the sun.

Lots of thickets - I wonder just how much poison ivy there is in there.
Yes, there, I said it: Poison Ivy.  I'm sure it is rampant.  Going to be fun attacking all that brushy stuff.  On a brighter note, some of those leaves on the ground are oak leaves. There is at least one black walnut on the property, too. I wonder if deer browse our thickets?  Maybe we don't want to clear too much of it.  And, I am sure hoards of squirrels will descend from the trees to feast upon my gardens - already laying out my battle plans!  I am very excited to have an abundance of wildlife on our property - just not in the gardens!

Another Step Closer - Official Survey

"Pins" found and flagged.
It was a cold, but sunny and beautiful day when the surveyor went out to find the pins and flag the property.  They didn't tramps through the woods to find the "pin" at the back of the property, but the main locations were completed.  Sr. and I slogged through mud, brambles, and thistle, and walked the property line.  Well, most of it.  We didn't tramps through the tree thicket at the back of the property, either.

I had been concerned that "almost 4 acres" would be too small since we had previously had "almost 5 acres;" however, my fears were unfounded - "almost 4 acres" is a large amount of land.  That is over 550 feet on the long side of the property - or more than 180 yards - or, almost the length of two football fields. I can live with that - especially for being 10 minutes from a grocery store, and half that to a gas station, and an easy commute to my job.

One of the reasons the property is relatively economic to purchase here is because the bedrock is at or very near the surface in many (most?) areas.  This leads to poor drainage, some boggy (mosquito-y?) areas towards the back of the woods, and challenging traditional gardening environments.  My, er, our, little 29 HP Case New Holland tractor is going to get a workout.  I am seeing some "earthworks" in my future.  Haven't run the tractor in a few years - going to be fun re-learning how to use the bucket loader!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Our Soon To Be Little White Farm House in the 'Boro

So, technically, it is a "Cape Cod" style house, but in my eyes, it's a Farm House!
With careful planning, some luck, and a lot a patience and a lot of paperwork, this baby and the 3+ acres that she sits on, will be ours with the beginning of the New Year.  We are, as they say, "Under Contract."  Already thinking those little round bumpkins of bushes will be replaced with purple Bearded Irises this summer - with, perhaps, yellow roses flanking the steps.  She needs a little TLC, but she is structurally sound.  We should be able to grow old together quite nicely.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Journal Entry 2014-12-04

Gardening in Middle Tennessee

Cannot believe it is already December! We have seriously begun looking at homes. I really, really want a lot of acres; however, also need extreme Internet, affordable mortgage, and a commute that won’t kill me. So we are looking at a four acre lot in town in a neighborhood. I’ve been playing with the plat map. I could do a lot with this.

[Note 2017-12-07: We bought it in 2015!]

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