Winter, when sunlight slants in, is the time when bark comes into its own. Pause to take in the aged-brass bark of a yellow birch, or the hand-sized bark plates on a big white pine. [Read more…] about Tree Bark in Winter
As someone who grew up with wood heat, I assumed it was hands-down one of the most sustainable, eco-positive fuels for home heating. Like many other widely shared conventions, it turns out the veracity of that assumption depends on a lot of things.
How many people burn wood in a given locale is an obvious factor. The number of homes using wood heat rose sharply in the years following the 1998 ice storm which left residents without power for weeks on end. Also no surprise, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of wood heat. [Read more…] about Where There’s Wood Smoke, There’s Pollution
The tradition of burning a Yule log has largely fizzled out in most parts of the world. While holiday cards often feature cute, picturesque birch rounds in the hearth, old-time Yule logs in 6th and 7th century Europe were monster tree trunks that were meant to burn all day, and in certain cultures for twelve continuous days, without being entirely used up.
Apparently, if you didn’t have a leftover bit of this log remaining after the marathon burn, you were doomed to misfortune in the upcoming year. The remnant piece of charred wood was tucked away in the ceiling and was used to light the following year’s Yule log. I assume it was extinguished before being squirreled away in the rafters or some really bad luck would ensue. [Read more…] about Yule Logs: Some History & Science
Fir is our favorite type of Christmas tree because of its delightful, pungent fragrance. While Christmas tree farmers cultivate a variety of fir species, balsam fir is the only type of fir native to Northern New York. [Read more…] about Balsam Fir: A Native New York Christmas Tree
The Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District has announced a new grant program, Education on Agroforestry, funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) and Northeast Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC).
The grant funds a pilot program to develop education and implementation of an agroforestry plan for SUNY Adirondack’s farmlands. [Read more…] about An Education on Agroforestry from Warren County Soil & Water
When clients call about decay in large older trees, every so often it’s necessary to respond that I’m not interested in hearing any lip from them. I do this respectfully of course.
It’s a frequent misconception that the roll of callus tissue or “lip” that trees produce at the margins of a wound will cause, or at least accelerate, trunk rot by catching and holding a small amount of rainwater.
It makes perfect sense to us that if an open tree wound is allowed to stay wet for longer, it will decay faster. We all know that a stack of wood exposed to the elements will turn punky in a few years, whereas if it’s kept in a dry shed it can last indefinitely. [Read more…] about Lips and Walls: Digging into Tree Decay
“If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.” David Henry Thoreau’s statement, funny in a way, also brings to mind the grave harm done to cultures around the world by Western powers in the guise of “helping” them.
In a less horrific sense it applies to how we’ve “assisted” nature to disastrous ends. Cane toads in Australia, mongoose in Hawaii, Kudzu in the Southeast, and Asian harlequin ladybeetles that invade our homes each fall are a few examples of being too helpful. [Read more…] about Timber Stand Improvement: Helpful Enough, Or Too Helpful?
Even though he also said “Facts are stupid things” during a 1988 interview, it turns out his claim about dirty trees was partly correct. [Read more…] about How Trees Cause – and Mostly Prevent – Pollution
As a child in a devout Catholic household I was intrigued by “Indulgences,” a way for sinners to avoid penalties in the afterlife by paying a fee commensurate with their bad deeds. This was years before Heaven went digital, of course, and as a youngster I assumed these bookkeeping adjustments were made in such a way that God didn’t notice the erasure marks in the Eternal Ledger. [Read more…] about Indulging Reforestation, Protecting Woodlands
It’s normal to tune out all the Chicken Littles (such as yours truly) who run around squawking about this or that invasive forest pest or disease that pose a threat to trees. I mean, how many times can the sky fall, anyway? But the real danger is when we feel so overwhelmed that we throw up our hands. Thinking we can’t make a difference could result in more harm to forests than the pests themselves. [Read more…] about Preventing Oak Wilt: Painting Our Way Out of a Corner