Competition is the name of the game in our woodlands. Trees are competing against each other for nutrients. Wildlife are competing for food. Our own desires for our woods can compete against each other. However, you will most likely want to get a variety of things out of your woods (firewood, wildlife, recreation). Understanding what different trees can offer will help you balance all your management decisions. Let’s start by visiting the idea of what makes a good wildlife tree.
If you are thinking of planting trees, fall is the time to start planning for that project. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and private tree nurseries start taking orders in the fall (and specifically October for the DNR) for the spring planting season, and they do sell out. More details on how to order are at the end of this blog, but let’s talk about what you want to order first. There are two main factors to consider when deciding what trees you want to plant: site conditions and your goals.
It is not often that my trusty assistant (who shall remain nameless) and I get into arguments, but the stacking of split wood for drying is one place we constantly butt heads. He argues that the way they have always stacked wood has worked just fine, so why change. To which I counter that he has dropped too many trees onto his head. Needless to say, we don’t haul and stack wood together very often.
In an earlier post, I introduced the concept of agroforestry. In this post, I will expand on what agroforestry is, and how it is being used here in Wisconsin. Although this post may seem very agricultural centered, I should point out a few things. One, many woodlots are associated with farmsteads, and are not seen as a profit center for the farm, though they could be. Two, landowners are finding the costs of owning land to be so high that they lease their land to neighboring farms. Is there a way for both owner and farmer to benefit in ways they each want or need to use the property? Three, some of these are more forest centered (see forest farming), and can be a new way for woodland owners to spend time in their woods.
Clearcutting is one of several harvesting systems utilized in the state to achieve certain goals create conditions to favor certain tree and wildlife species. When done correctly, they can maintain the long term sustainability of a fores.
It may be helpful to understand the ecology of mushrooms before you get started hunting your own, or even growing them. A mushroom itself is a fruiting body, kind of like the acorn of an oak tree. The fungi itself (the tree trunk) is often hidden from our eyes either in the soil or the trunk of a rotting tree. Sometimes you can find them; they may appear as long, white, interconnected strands. Those strands are finding the nutrients needed to keep them growing. When conditions are right (usually a combination of day length, humidity, and heat), they will produce a mushroom.