Friday, May 2, 2014

Asparagus, Rhubarb and Wood

It’s May 2 and we just ate asparagus fresh out of the garden. 
First Picking: May 2, 2014
 This weekend we’ll also make a dessert with rhubarb that is now sticking out of the ground over a foot. We’ve pruned some of the current bushes but still have lots more berries to trim so they are not too crowded.

It’s also time to replenish the wood we burned over the winter to keep warm. This year we consumed 5.7 cords, about a cord more than usual. It’s been very cold and we even need a fire going tonight. A cord of the mix of wood we gather weighs over two tons but drying it for over a year reduces its weight by about one third. Cutting trees into pieces that are easy to handle, loading them into a trailer and carting them home, then reducing them to chunks that fit into our stove gets me into shape every spring. Deep snow prevented harvesting dead wood during the winter while the ground was frozen so I’ve had to judiciously fetch loads when the ground is not too wet. The trailer tires sink deep into muddy soil so many lighter loads prevent getting stuck or making unsightly ruts in lawns and fields. Eight loads so far will fill about half the hole we made in the wood pile.
2014 Wood Being Added on Left; 2013 Wood Remaining on Right

Four-wheel Drive Diesel Tractor and Wood-filled Trailer
Besides gathering branches and cutting down dead or diseased trees, I've planted some fast growing trees that can be harvested over and over again. Most trees die if cut off at ground level but some like willow and ash-leaf maple send up shoots that develop into large branches. Because an extensive root syatem is already established, these trees are able to grow very rapidly, adding over an inch of diameter on each branch every year. In seven years this one tree produced more than a half cord of wood. It is growing in a former barnyard and gets watered by rain off the barn roof, so this productivity can't be expected in depleted soil - but it's still neat to see.

Seven Years of Growth of A Single Ash-leaf Maple with a Trunk That Is More Than 40 Years Old