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Cleaning up

November 3rd, 2011

This spring I mentioned that we had a few tress taken down and we started clearing the new lot next door. Not too long after that we started working on our little camper for our trip, and we neglected all the piles of brush laying around the gardens. It’s been a bit of an eyesore since spring and it’s been driving me crazy because they’re kind of in the way. When I hang laundry I have to step around a big pile of cherry branches. When I walk to the compost I have to weave through a few piles of oak logs.

We used a rather large amount of this brush to build a dead hedge across the back of the property. Basically it’s a neatly stacked brush pile that acts as a fence or hedge. It provides wildlife habitat and gives us something to do with all that brush. We still have a ton left though and needed to do something with it. Rent a chipper is on our list, but we haven’t gotten around to it. Yesterday I started burning some of it to clear off the area I want to plant my tulips (which was piled high with branches).

One of the benefits to burning the brush is that it gets rid of a lot of it rather quickly and you end up with a nice bit of ash. The ash will be added to soil to sweeten it a little, it’s very valuable for our highly acidic soils. The entire batch of ash I made yesterday will be returned to the hillside where the brush was and it will be worked into the soil when I plant the tulip bulbs.

Just a quick word of caution – when burning in early spring, fall, or other dry seasons, always keep a full watering can handy just in case you have a spark that gets away from you. No need to be running to get a hose or watering can since you’ll have it right there where you need it! I’m certainly glad we don’t have rules about campfires here, it was nice to warm myself during the cooler parts of the day. We even cooked our supper over the fire last night!

There’s something so great about fires, I don’t know what it is. It was very cleansing to spend some time cleaning some of the brush out of the garden and burning it. Time spent tending the fire was a much needed bit of relaxation even though I was working! We certainly should make it a point to have a few more campfires this fall and spend some time sitting by the fireside!

Have you ever built brush piles in your garden for wildlife habitat? Do you enjoy sitting around a fire?

15 Comments to “Cleaning up”
  1. Andrea Duke on November 3, 2011 at 5:54 am

    We had a fire yesterday and made our dinner on it too! We should use it more than we do.
    Several years ago, I wanted a firepit. I went to a junk yard, where a guy sold me a big, hollow tire rim for $5 and then I put some brick around it that we had on hand. I love it!

    Thanks for the reminder about the ash. My very clay soil can always use some help!

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  2. kristin @ going country on November 3, 2011 at 6:01 am

    We have burn piles all over the place. I’m sure the wildlife to enjoy them, because we rarely actually get them burned. Our climate is so damp that most of the time only a carefully built pile started with gasoline or something will actually burn. It’s kind of annoying. I even have trouble getting piles of dead leaves to burn most of the time.

    On the up side, this means we really don’t worry about forest fires.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  3. Sofie Dittmann on November 3, 2011 at 6:57 am

    The men in our family are major pyros. :)

    Reply to Sofie Dittmann's comment

  4. Rhonda on November 3, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I love a nice fire. We can only have a fire here if we make it in a store bought fire pit, which is fine I guess. Beggars can’t be choosers… With all of you brush and trees you’ve been taking down, are any of them pine? Another blog that I visit uses pine branches to create fences and they’re beautiful. I will definitely be giving it a try when I get the dream home. I found out about their blog when I bought a drying rack from them — by the way, the rack is THE BEST. Take a look at the fence here, it’s very pretty.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on November 3, 2011 at 7:57 am

      Love that fencing, I have considered making waddle fencing similar (but shorter) but haven’t gotten around to it. None of our wood here is pine, mostly hard woods like oak, cherry, maple and a few softer woods like tulip poplar and sassafrass.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. daisy on November 3, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Love how you are repurposing things in your yard, from the twigs to the ash that will supplement the garden. We don’t burn here, but it sounds like a cozy way to spend a crisp fall evening!

    Reply to daisy's comment

  6. goatpod2 on November 3, 2011 at 9:11 am

    My Dad did a brush pile but for making room for some more garden space.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  7. Daedre Craig on November 3, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I have never intentionally built a brush pile, but they seem to happen on their own!

    Reply to Daedre Craig's comment

  8. MAYBELLINE on November 3, 2011 at 10:14 am

    No wildlife habitiat but I do love a fire. Sadly, there are burning restriction in the San Joaquin Valley.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

  9. t on November 3, 2011 at 11:38 am

    Oh yes I must agree with you.. burning a big brush pile somehow frees up some space in your head, also… IT’s like that project is done and forever…Done!
    We had a lot of stuff come down in the recent snow storm….all the trees had their leaves still, and the weight of such a wet snow really just tore trees up…
    I am wondering though, I am sure it helped, in your case…you waited and the branches and brush were much drier by the time you got to them… ours are all still fresh and green….perhaps just to pile it till spring may be the better idea for us?

    Reply to t's comment

    • Susy on November 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

      Yes ours were very dry because they were cut down in the spring and sat all summer long drying out. They burned quite readily since they were so dry. Waiting till spring will probably make it an easier task for you!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Alyse on November 3, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I love fires. I was probably the only kid in school whose parents had a fire ring in their yard. They’ve since moved and built their own cabin in the woods, but the fire ring came with them. It’s nice when I visit to have that little piece of “home” at their new home. :-)

    When I camp that is the best part. And nothing tastes so good as food cooked over an open fire.

    Reply to Alyse's comment

  11. Grace on November 3, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Funny that you would post this just now. We’ve been invited to a ceremonial bonfire on Saturday night. The idea is to throw your baggage on the fire, let go of what you want to get rid of, and cleanse your spirit for the new year.

    Reply to Grace's comment

  12. KimH on November 3, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    I love a good bonfire.. We always had them in the country when I was growing up. Burn piles too. I have a wonderful cast iron chiminea I burn wood in nowadays when I feel the urge.

    I live in town so no brush piles for me, though I imagine it looks like one behind our garage… a combination brush pile & harley parts graveyard. Animals definitely love it back there.. ;)

    Reply to KimH's comment

  13. mistresseve on November 3, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good fire…

    Reply to mistresseve's comment

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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