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Growing Firewood in the 'burbs ?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by TreePapa, Dec 30, 2008.

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  1. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    I'd like to plant a few seedlings this next spring for the express purpose of cutting down for firewood before they are 20' tall. Any suggestions on species? My preference would be decidious so as not block winter sun, nothing with nasty seed pods or otherwise especially messy, easy to split, and not overly thirsty once established. Really high BTU values are not critical 'cuz it's not that cold here. Something that likes to grow straight would be a plus.

    I'm not thinking that I will be able to grow all of my own firewood, but growing a portion would be nice. I don't have a hugh amout of space to work with. I intend to start w/ seedlings rather than nursery stock mostly becuase it wouldn't make economic sense to pay nursery prices for trees I'm gonna cut down in a few years.

    Any suggestions?

    Thankx,

    Peace,
    - Sequoia

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  2. caber

    caber New Member

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    20' is not much of a tree. Our 20 footers are very narrow with not much to them after you subtract the thin branches on top. i could get maybe a week's fuel out of a 20 foot tree? I'm just not sure its a viable plan.
  3. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    The only hardwood tree I can think of that grows fast is Black Locust, but it has seed pods and thorns. It is also somewhat of an invasive.
  4. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Ash tree are great, fast growing and good burning!
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    So, what kind of trees grow fast in desert conditions in SoCal?
  6. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    lol fire trees!
  7. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Not sure of the viability of this plan with any species, really. I planted a Maple tree when I first moved into this house 7 years ago. Paid $20 for a ~6 foot tall sapling at a nursery year end close out. It's now getting close to 15' tall with a 3" diameter trunk...this is with regular fertilizing and watering some during the summer...less care would probably stunt the growth a little. A second worry is that you mention blocking the winter sun, which leads me to believe this might be close to the house? Would you be comfortable dropping a tree next to your/neighbors house?

    So the bottom line is $20 bucks, 7 years...probably 10-12 years to get 20+ feet tall, and would provide a couple days firewood at most. I'd do better buying plastic wrapped bundles of firewood at the local gas station or a couple cases of duraflame logs. You might have luck planting firewood for the 'next' generation of wood burners.
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Maybe raise camels and burn their dung. Seems to work well for them in the Middle East.
  9. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    I would go with the locust.
  10. caber

    caber New Member

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    I think the main problem is not the species or rate of growth, but the 20' height. A 20' tree is not worth cutting for firewood. A 40'+ tree in the suburbs should probably be dropped by an insured pro.
  11. roac

    roac New Member

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    Living in an area that is desert like isn't a problem if you have irrigation water available. Much of this area is high desert, sagebrush and all. We have a dam system that collects spring runoff from the snow melts that we use to irrigate. Irrigation water is really cheap. If you have it I would recommend growing a fast grower like poplar. Around here you can harvest after 10 years. Poplar while not the best firewood will grow fast enough to make up for that.
  12. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Actually, I live in the San Fernando Valley, which used to be grassland, not desert. The cost factor is the reason I want to plant seedlings, not container trees. My experience w/ landscape trees in this area is that they usually don't need supplemental water after one or two years due to the relatively high water table. And there's *no way* I would fell a 40' or even 30' tree. 20' is probably about my limit. There's a non-productive apricot tree behind our garage I'm contemplating taking down, and just like the tree trimmers, I would not just "fell" the tree, but remove brances first, then take it down in sections (I wouldn't take it down at all if it gave us fruit, but we haven't gotten apricots from this tree in over 8 years and it's awful close to the garage, and not in an area where the shade is useful).

    I'd be happy if the firewood trees reached 8" diameter. Heck, I'll settle for 6".

    I can order seedlines on the net from approx. $2.00 each to about $6.00 depending on the website. I'll probably need to set up a temporary drip irrigation system for the first year or two, then water monthly or ever 2 or 3 weeks 'till the trees are taller than I am, at which point they should not longer need supplemental irrigation.

    I'm still open to species suggestions, but will probably decide based on what the nurseries (http://forestry.about.com/cs/catalogs/a/best_seedling_s.htm) have to offer.

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  13. ScottF

    ScottF New Member

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    Id go for the camel dung option. sounds good to me.
  14. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    By the time the trees are big enough for firewood, you'll forget why you planted them.
    I have a lot of 20' trees on my property and none of them are big enough to be used for firewood.
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Just not a reasonable option. Growing trees for fruit, landscaping, privacy, etc. are fine. Producing trees for fiber is done in forests. The closest you can get is the hybrid poplars. We have folks doing that here in old hayfields. Several feet per year but low density "pulp" wood for paper when they're harvested. These are planted with sprigs.
  16. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    Camels are a little too high-maintenance!
  17. bsimon

    bsimon New Member

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    Until you said that, I was going to ask how fast mesquite grows. If you're looking for non-indigenous, fast-growing, poplar is probably the best bet, or birch.
  18. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    I think it's a very noble idea to want to grow your own firewood tree.
    I think I'd go with a poplar. Some of them babies grow super fast.
    Here's something I do in my woods; when you harvest it, instead of cutting it real close to the ground, leave about a two foot high stump and that will sprout many branches. Trim all the branches except one and that branch has the whole root system of the old tree and will grow four times as fast. You now have an eternal firewood tree. That's a good feeling and hey, you may be the one who changes the climate .
    Good luck and have fun-
    Ken :lol:
  19. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Ken,

    That's how they do it here with poplar plantations. You cut the tree and then the stump, the stool, sprouts a new tree. The healthy root system produces lots of nutrients and the new sprout is running.

    When I cut down a willow tree or when one falls, I can't keep the sprouts from shooting up. They are fierce and quickly become a tree. The proper method is to paint the fresh stump with a herbicide.

    Too bad the pulp market took a dump.
  20. wiringlunatic

    wiringlunatic New Member

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    Poplar especially will grow back like that. I've watched people try for years to get rid of poplar trees with little luck by cutting them down over and over again. Another fast grower is pin oak. I'm not certain how that would fare in CA, but it is considered a fast grower here in PA. There is another tree that I've seen in Allentown, PA that I think they said came from China or Japan. I'm not sure what it's called, but it is a deciduous tree that grows at an alarming rate. The main tree is about 50-60 years old and probably is 3-4 feet in diameter. It tends to grow seedlings on its own all over the place which may be 8 feet tall by summer's end. It does drop seed pods, however, which explains its rapid propagation. I just wish I knew what it was called.
  21. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Black Poplar especially and not just on the stump. We have a saying around here... cut down a Poplar and a hundred show up for the funeral.

    One way to propagate Poplar is to cut it off when it is about 3 feet tall and just stick it back in the ground and it will grow new roots and the stump will grow a new tree.
  22. wiringlunatic

    wiringlunatic New Member

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    I don't think it is Box Elder or Alder. The people who own the tree said that only one of the people that they've hired throughout the years to trim it even knew what it was. Box Elder is fairly common around here (as are the beetles that follow it) but seems to be mostly a scrub tree whenever I've seen it. This drops seed pods and other dirt all over the yard and others sprout up continuously. The owners would probably let you have the firewood if you'd take it down -- it's 40-50 feet tall, 3-4 feet in diameter, and growing in a yard in Allentown that is about 20' by 40' with wires crisscrossing it in every direction. Anyone want to cut that thing down?
  23. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like Black Locust to me...Excellent firewood.
  24. wiringlunatic

    wiringlunatic New Member

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    No, Black Locust is common around here -- I'd know that. I think they said that it is native to China or Japan, I can't remember which. This thing has even swallowed a washline post that was several feet away when they moved in -- it's like some kind of blob from a slow motion horror film. I'll have to get pics in spring if I get up there and post them and let you guys debate what it is.
  25. bsruther

    bsruther Minister of Fire

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