I have planted the first trees.
Two weeks ago I walked around the property for an hour with the owner of Workman Forestry, Tom Workman. The land had been largely ignored over the winter, we had done some brush and small tree clearing but it hadn’t been mowed since October, and the vines were taking over. In Florida, any forest that has moderate soil fertility and doesn’t have a completely closed canopy, which is rare here, will have lots of vines. The majority of this property was mature trees, palms, and vines. (And poison ivy!) We’d been slowly, slowly making clearings by hand, cutting down small trees and brush, and the vines rushed to fill any space we created. I couldn’t clear land fast enough to plant before nature filled the space I had cleared. Mowing wasn’t enough, small chainsaws and machetes wasn’t enough.
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The answer is heavy machinery. Sure, I could’ve burned the whole property- Workman Forestry could’ve done that too- but there are certain things that rebound after fire or need fire to germinate. I don’t need things rebounding, I need them gone. So I sketched out two main planting areas and he pushed over and ripped out small trees, scraped off the topsoil, shallow roots, and forest duff, created berms to redirect storm water, and built up huge compost piles.
Two very large longleaf pines had fallen last winter, way too big for us to cut up with my medium-duty chainsaw. They cut up the trees and piled them up at the highest point on the property, and in the process created a more-stable curved path between the high area and the valley shown above. Now when I’m ready to use those huge logs I can just roll them downhill. Here are the logs, with my 18-year old son for perspective.
It rained like crazy the day after this happened. I went out the day after, found out that the valley floor has a shallow clay pan (homemade pottery here we come!) and decided to plant trees anyhow.
One loquat and six Vitex negundo, finally in the ground! I also planted some rice paper plant in the back. It begins!