Damaged Trees Can be Repaired

Occasionally, smaller trees in the woodlot will get damaged. Heavy snow, ice build up from freezing rain or perhaps a larger tree falling, can break the top of a tree.  If it is a tree that is special to you and you do not want to lose it, then there may be something you can do to help repair it.  In my work with Christmas trees, I sometimes use flagging tape to straighten up a top.  I’ve adopted this same principal to help repair smaller, damaged trees that I want to keep and it does work!   There is often some little trick that one can to help repair a damaged tree rather than give up on it.

The top on this pine tree was broken by heavy snow in the winter.   However, it can be saved.

The top on this pine tree was broken by heavy snow in the winter. However, it can be saved.

A stick is tied to the undamaged stem and a living branch is tied to this stick.  The branch will become the new top of the tree.

A stick is tied to the undamaged stem and a living branch is tied to this stick. The branch will become the new top of the tree.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Prince Edward Island we get freezing rain which causes ice build up on trees.  Sometime the weight is too much and the top of the tree gets broken.  I have pine trees planted along the side of one of my roads and I want to keep them.  I’ve had this ice problem break tops more than once.  Also, damage can occur when cutting larger trees or when high winds blow down some mature trees.

This pine tree had its top broken off about 7 or 8 years ago.  Now there is only a slight crook at the point where the branch had been tied up.

This pine tree had its top broken off about 7 or 8 years ago. Now there is only a slight crook at the point where the branch had been tied up.

The damaged top can be repaired and in time the damage might not even be noticed.  I start by tying a straight stick to the stem of the tree below the broken spot.  This stick will extend well up past the broken spot.  Plastic flagging tape works well for this.  In fact, I find a lot of uses for flagging tape around my woodlot. The next step is to take one of the branches below the damage and tie it to the stick.  Take care not to put too much pressure on the branch as you tie it to the stick. This branch will, within one or two years, become the new top.   The stick holding the branch will eventually be removed.  I’m sorry that my photographs do not show this as well as they should but this tree repair does work.

Although I am showing only pine trees in this blog, similar treatments can apply to hardwood trees as well.   Hardwood trees may have a tendency to have a two tops.  This will create a fork in the tree that will be a weak spot as the tree gets older.  By cutting back one of the two forks, at a very early age, and by tying the stem that you want to become the main trunk of the tree, you can straighten the tree.  This will make for a stronger and more attractive tree in the future.  A single main stem is usually more attractive then a tree that is forked only  a few meters from the ground. If any readers would like more information or would like to see photos of a hardwood (oak) tree that has been repaired please send me a  reply.  You can simply send a comment at the bottom of this page or send me an email at: wattstreefarm@yahoo.ca .

Until next time, keep safe and well.

*** Click on any photograph to get a larger image.***

Roads and Trails

Managing a small woodlot depends heavily on having good access to the woodlot.  Without good access it is nearly impossible to do good management.  The layout of where roads and trails will be established will be influenced by many factors.  In this short blog I’ll touch on some main points that I hope will get readers thinking about their need for access and do more research into proper locations and construction.

Main woods road at Watts Tree Farm.  The road has slight curves to reduce the sight distance and make it more enjoyable to walk when hoping to see wildlife.

Main woods road at Watts Tree Farm. The road has slight curves to reduce the sight distance and make it more enjoyable to walk when hoping to see wildlife.

One of the first questions to ask yourself is “Why do I need or want roads and trails?” The most probable answer is, to remove harvested products.  If you are managing your woodlot then at times there will be quantities of harvested products to remove.  Having an access road that allows for trucks to pick up the products, relatively near to where they are harvested, can be vey beneficial and in most cases a necessity.  However, people own and manage woodlots for many different purposes so the need for roads and trails should keep the objectives of the owner in mind.  Roads and trails can have multiple purposes and this is the way we look at them on Watts Tree Farm.

Smaller trails give access for many things.  Wood can be extracted or it can be a great place for a leisurely walk.

Smaller trails give access for many things. Wood can be extracted or it can be a great place for a leisurely walk.

At Watts Tree Farm we are fortunate to have relatively flat terrain and very few wetlands or water course to deal with.  As the woodlot is relatively long and narrow it made the most sense to locate one main road, more or less, in the center of the property.  The woodlot is managed for multiple purposes and therefor the design and locations of the main road and secondary trails takes into consideration more than one use.

Lets look first at the main access road.  If my only objective was wood extraction then the most efficient road would have been perfectly straight in the exact center of the property.  However, we are interested in recreation, aesthetics and wildlife in the woodlot along with economics.  Therefor, when the main road was laid out it was designed with slight turns to actually reduce the “sight distance”.   The road is used as much for walking and enjoying the scenery and wildlife viewing as it is for removing harvested wood.  In fact I would say we use it much more for these secondary uses.  By having shorter sight distances it makes the walking much more enjoyable.  There is always the excitement of what might be around the next corner.  The woodlot is home to many species of birds and mammals and  by having slight curves in the road it occasionally allows us to get a little closer to viewing some of this wildlife.   At the same time, the curves do not hinder the slow movement of trucks or machinery that might “occasionally” have to come in to pick up a load of logs, Christmas trees or for managing the blueberry field.  If you are planning to construct a forest access road you should consult professionals in your region.  There will most likely be environmental standards or restrictions that you must adhere to.

A properly constructed trail can be a cost effective way to haul fire wood home if you only have small equipment.

A properly constructed trail can be a cost effective way to haul fire wood home if you only have small equipment.

Trails, just like main access roads, can have multiple uses as well.  They are used more for recreations and wildlife viewing but they can also be use for extracting wood using my ATV (All Terrain Vehicle).    The decision of where to locate and how wide to make the trails is dependant on the type of machinery you have to do your management.  It also may have to do with the type of management to be done in a certain part of the woodlot.  For example,  in areas where I intend to remove my annual fire wood by either strip cutting or selection cutting I will create a slightly wider trail that will accommodate my ATV and trailer.  In areas where I do not expect to be harvesting firewood the trail will be narrower.

Sophie walking down a freshly cut trail in a young fir plantation.  Better access will increase the chances of better management.

Sophie walking down a freshly cut trail in a young fir plantation. Better access will increase the chances of better management.

Recently I have decided that I need to significantly add to my trails in the woodlot.    There are parts of the woodlot that I have not visited for several years and if I had a proper trail system I would most likely visit these areas more often.   I enjoy walking through my woodlot and that addition of more trails will make it more accessible for me and anyone else who want to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

Having access for management or enjoyment are a very important component of owning a woodlot.  The locating of these should reflect your personal needs and preferences.  But sometimes the locations may be, in part, determined by physical land conditions or by regulations or laws.  All of these things should be taken into consideration but by all means, make sure you do develop a system of roads and trails that gives access to the woodlot.

An early spring outing on one of the many trails at Watts Tree Farm.

An early spring outing on one of the many trails at Watts Tree Farm.

If you enjoy reading this or any of the blogs of Watts Tree Farm please consider following by clicking on the “follow” button on the side.   I appreciate receiving comments or questions from readers.

Until next time, keep safe and well.

*** Click on any photo to get a larger image ***

I Love Spring!

It is almost summer but I want to tell how much I enjoy spring here at Watts Tree Farm in Prince Edward Island, Canada.  After a long cold winter it is nice to get out and see the forest coming back to life.  Of course in a blog I can only show you a few photographs of the spring season.  As things begin to return to, or grow in, the forest after a long rest or a long flight back from some warmer place the promise of a new season of life is seen and felt.  Unfortunately, I can not convey the sounds and even the smell of the forest this time of year.  But it is a beautiful time of year and one that fills you with hope and just makes you feel good about the coming summer months.

It nice to go for a walk in the woodlot in early spring and not have to walk through snow.  The warm sun sure feel good.

It nice to go for a walk in the woodlot in early spring and not have to walk through snow. The warm sun sure feel good.

Just getting out to go for a walk this time of year seems so beautiful.  Life is beginning a new season of growth.  The leaves are not even out on the trees yet but you can feel the warmth of the sun and you know things are going to change every day.   Things seem to change more rapidly this time of year than at any other.  One of the earliest butterflies to appear in the spring is the Mourning Cloak.  I hadn’t seen one in years so I was pretty excited to see this one.  They seem to be more of a forest butterfly rather than a garden butterfly.

The Mourning Cloak butterfly is a very early butterfly in the spring.  I have seen it appear before the leaves are out on the hardwood trees.

The Mourning Cloak butterfly is a very early butterfly in the spring. I have seen it appear before the leaves are out on the hardwood trees.

Many of the forest flowers seem to bloom early in the spring.  Some are in bloom before the leaves are fully out on the trees.  I guess this is to take advantage of the warm sun before they are covered by the shade of the trees later in the spring.  There are a lot of woodland flowers that bloom early in the season.  Some are in the more open areas, like purple violets and wild strawberries.  Others grow where there is more shade.  One of my favorites for aroma is the May Flower.  Its small white or pale pink flowers give off one of the most beautiful scents.  As I was saying earlier, I can show you a photograph but I can not send you the aroma.  You’ll have to come for a visit when the May flowers are in bloom if you want to experience the fragrance of these delicate flowers.  We only have tiny patch of them in our woodlot.  I transplanted a few of them many years ago and they are established now but only in one spot.

The May Flower is not the most attractive of all the woodland plants but it has the most beautiful fragrance.

The May Flower is not the most attractive of all the woodland plants but it has the most beautiful fragrance.

Even the new ferns as they unfurl are nice to see.  When the conditions are right they can grow very quickly.  One of the most popular late spring flowers to bloom in PEI is the Lady Slipper.  The Lady Slipper is the Provincial flower of PEI and is seen on many craft items in shops across the “Island.”  Unfortunately it blooms just a little too early for most of the tourists to see them first hand.

Lady Slippers are the Provincial flower of Prince Edward Island.  The bloon in mid to late June in my area.

Lady Slippers are the Provincial flower of Prince Edward Island. The bloom in mid to late June in my area.

There is a Flying Squirrel peeking out of the opening in this nest box.  Flying squirrels only come out at night to feed.

There is a Flying Squirrel peeking out of the opening in this nest box. Flying squirels only come out at night to feed.

Along with the return of the earliest butterflies and the blooming spring flowers are the sights and sounds of wildlife.  The migratory birds begin to be seen in the tree tops and as soon as the leaves are fully out most of the birds will have returned for another nesting season.  You can’t blame them for wanting to come to PEI to raise their young.  Some of the mammals will also become more active and search for a place to raise their young.  I have written about the use of nest boxes in a previous blog.  This year I was fortunate to get a photo of a flying squirrel using one of my nest boxes as “home”.  Flying squirrels are out only at night so they are not often seen.  Most people probably do not even know we have them in PEI.  Although they are called “flying” squirrels they don’t actually fly.  They do have an extra layer of skin that is attached from their front legs to their back legs.  When they jump they spread this skin and glide easier from tree to tree.

There is so much to see, hear, feel and smell in the Spring.  It is one of my favorite times of the year.

 

Until next time, keep safe and well.

***Click on any photo to get a larger image***

The Forest Garden

Many people have beautiful gardens around their homes.  Perhaps you are one of those people who has that talent for keeping the beauty of flowers blooming around your home.  I am not so good at keeping flowers in my yard but I do enjoy the subtle and some times spectacular beauty of the wild flowers that grow in the forest.   As I continue to write my blogs I want to share all of the many things my woodlot has to offer.  In this blog I want to share some of the beauty found on the forest floor.

In my region, the wild forest flowers are at their best in late spring, around the first of June.   Many of these flowers seem to want to take advantage of the sun that reaches the forest floor just before the leaves of the hardwood trees are fully developed.  In my years of managing the forest I have noticed that some flora have a positive response to a little extra light reaching the forest floor.

The ground in this forest stand is completely covered with blooming forest flowers in early June.

In this blog I will use more photos and fewer words as seeing these flowers is much more important than reading about them.   You can click on any of the photos to get a larger image and I highly recommend this for this blog.

Yellow Clintonia

Bunchberry

Wild Lily of the Valley

Bunchberry grows best in more direct sunlight.  These grow well in parts of my christmas tree lot.  They make a very beautiful, low growing, ground cover.  The white petals, which are actually modified leaves, give way to a scarlet red cluster (bunch) of berries in the summer.

Star Flower

Lady Slipper – Prince Edward Island’s provincial flower

Close up of the delicate beauty of the Lady Slipper.

I put in two photos of the Lady slipper as they are most deserving of showing off their beauty.  These forest flora are one more reason I feel so fortunate to have this woodlot and I want to continue to share it with you, where ever you are in the world.

Until next time, keep safe and well.

The Gentle Giants of Watts Tree Farm

There is something we all feel inside whenever we see some of the wonders of nature.   I am fortunate to have some of these wonders of nature in my woodlot and I would like to share them with you.  We all know about the Giant Redwoods of California and the big Douglas Fir and Western Red Cedar of British Columbia but there are often some lesser know giants in our own area. There are few of these lesser known but still magnificent beauties growing in Kilmuir, Prince Edward Island.

These large trees have inspired me to think more about how I should be managing my woodlot.  If these few trees can grow this big on their own then we can certainly grow some very large trees if we truly want to manage our forest to grow large trees.  Of course this means that the time frame for management will cover centuries not decades.  But lets save the discussion for management for another day.  In this issue of my blog I want us to all just enjoy the true beauty of these gentle giants.

Eastern Hemlock tree. One of several in this small grove of long-lived trees.

There is a grove of Eastern Hemlock that surround and protect a small spring.  I don’t have an exact age on these trees but based on some other hemlocks cut in the area it’s a pretty safe bet to say these trees are between 300 and 350 years old.  This would mean that these trees were new seedlings when North America was being first settled!  These trees have lived through the ages of settlement and discovery of almost every thing that has happened in our modern history of North America.  This is truly amazing to think of.  When I walk through this small stand of trees I can’t help but wonder, who else has walked among these trees?  Did early settlers camp near this stream in the shade of these very same trees, only they were much smaller then?  Ah, if only trees could talk.

These trees are getting older now and many are at the end of their life span.   Strong winds and storms are taking some of them now.  But there are some replacements in the wings.  Young babies perhaps only 50 or 60 years old ready to begin to fill in the gaps created by the passing of some of these majestic trees.  Yes there is sadness to see one of these trees lay down but it is the way of nature.  It will probably take another century before one of the blowdowns is reduced to its smallest elements ready to be used to support new trees.  But in the meantime it will support other life.  Homes for wildlife and insects and a spot for moss and fungi to grow.

This Eastern White Pine is the largest tree in the woodlot.

One of the other gentle giants and the largest of the trees in the woodlot is an Eastern White Pine.  There are a couple of these scattered in the woodlot.  Again they show how big trees can grow in our area.  We don’t need to grow trees this big but it is nice to know that we can.  These pines grow very tall and when seen from a distance they are noticeably many meters above the surrounding trees.   They must be very strong trees with deep roots to withstand the force of the winds that they must have felt over the years.  To be this much taller than the other trees and to have survived recent hurricanes shows just how strong and resilient the trunks of these trees must be.   White Pine tend to grow more quickly than Eastern Hemlock so I don’t think the pine trees in the woodlot are as old as the hemlocks.  However, to get to the size of these few White Pine must have taken at least a couple of hundred years.

The third giant in the woodlot is a Sugar Maple.   These are probably less spectacular than the hemlocks and pines but still there are some very nice large maples in the forest.  There is a large stand of mixed maples and a few other species at the back of the woodlot.  This is the area where the Barred owls like to nest.  So for me keeping a good stand of larger trees is important.

This Sugar Maple has been around for a long time. It is a great example of what can grow in the forests in our area.

There is just something about big trees that draws our attention and our imagination.  Although these few examples are not the biggest trees of their kind in the region they happen to be the biggest in Watts Tree Farm.  They have inspired me to think long-term in managing the forest.  It continues to be my pleasure to show you the many things that I see and enjoy in the woodlot.

Until next time, keep safe and well.

(click on any photo to get a larger image)