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Growing your own firewood

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  • Registered Users Posts: 976 ✭✭✭ mountainy man


    Have you done a pH test of the "soil" your planting in because I'd associate sweet chestnut with alkaline soils over chalk same to a lesser extent beech.

    No I've never done a test, but I recon it varies wildly across my 2 acres, I have areas of deep peat, lime stone outcrops ,thin peat over lyeing clay and a kinda degraded limestone gravel, this is a karst area with many deep pot holes and the cavers come regularly to play in them! I have a bit of exposed limestone pavement in my yard .

    The reason that I planted the few sweet chestnut is that I read a book by Ben Law called The woodland way, an excelent book , he's the chap who built the cruck frame house that was on grand designs a few years ago. He manages a sweet cheshnut wood in west sussex,eng by coppice. I can highly recomend it.

    I am delighted that they are doing so well. and the hares don't touch em:)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 262 ✭✭ greenfingers89


    I am delighted that they are doing so well. and the hares don't touch em:)

    im genuinly surprised that the sweet chesnut are doing well in peat in sligo, is your site exposed? have you actually got many hares in the area or just a very rare siting?


  • Registered Users Posts: 976 ✭✭✭ mountainy man


    im genuinly surprised that the sweet chesnut are doing well in peat in sligo, is your site exposed? have you actually got many hares in the area or just a very rare siting?

    They are doing fine in the areas of thin peat over the gravely clay stuff (about a foot of peat), some others are between the alders so mabey they are benefiting from the improving influence of the alders, only have 5 so far btw. yes very exposed , Pic below shows view to the north , the only shelter is a coilte plantation of lodgepole pine and spruce to the east of me.

    Loads of hares around here, in may/june my cat keeps bringing me leverets as presents , I see them in the garden all the time, everything has a rabbit guard on it, also red squirel, pine marten and red deer although no probs with them too timid to come too near the house.


  • Registered Users Posts: 570 ✭✭✭ Chicken Run


    slowburner wrote: »
    Have you tried Alder? They fix nitrogen in the soil.

    and the deer don't seem to eat them as much as they eat the ash saplings :rolleyes:

    We have mixed woodland which we can't deer-fence...deer trashed much of the ash so we replanted with alder which is flying.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 905 yourpics


    How about everyone posts details of their plantation, size, species, age etc, maybe include a photo!


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  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    and the deer don't seem to eat them as much as they eat the ash saplings :rolleyes:

    We have mixed woodland which we can't deer-fence...deer trashed much of the ash so we replanted with alder which is flying.
    That's good to know. They don't gnaw Willow or Birch as much either. There's an awful lot of the beggars around atm.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 262 ✭✭ greenfingers89


    slowburner wrote: »
    They don't gnaw Willow or Birch as much either.

    I've had a few wipeouts of birch due to deer damage


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    Really, I always heard that Birch bark was unpalatable to deer and they don't seem to touch them here. Cherries have been devastated though, even mature specimens. The height that the deer can get up to amazes me.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 262 ✭✭ greenfingers89


    yes my understanding is the same with the bark issue, where i have problems is plantations 1,2 and 3 years of age that the leaves are stripped off


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    Venison for dinner, anyone?


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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,479 William Powell


    Can I throw Larch into the mix? We used to grow European Larch in the UK on very poor soil it did great and while you can't coppice it the resultant timber is good for gate posts, fence pots and burns fine in a stove. The big advantage I have found with larch is that it has "soil building properties" because the needles tend to build up a rich soil improving mulch to a much greater extent than any other tree I know.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 262 ✭✭ greenfingers89


    Can I throw Larch into the mix?

    wouldn't trust any larch these days, id wait a few years to see if the disease in jap larch makes its way into hybrid and european or if the jap can build up a resistance


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    wouldn't trust any larch these days, id wait a few years to see if the disease in jap larch makes its way into hybrid and european or if the jap can build up a resistance
    What is this disease and does it affect 'native' Larch?


  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    I have stone walls that have about 1.5 x 1.5m of an embankment, probably due to shortage of stone at the time they were being built. I was thinking of planting willow along this. I have a number of questions

    Does willow work well in a solid fuel range or do you really need a gasification boiler?

    If it is a hedgerow do you really need a felling licence to prune/coppice your hedge?

    Do you need to protect willow from sheep?

    The wall I intend planting the willow along has been earmarked for tradtional stone wall maintenance under AEOS, can I still plant a willow hedge along it, or does this infringe the traditional stone wall aspect of the boundary?

    I have a small stand of ash trees in an old sandpit/quarry some of them are quite mature, i want to coppice them but I am not sure if mature ash trees are suitable for coppice, basically I want to cut it all down so that I can start again with some plantings and some coppice so that everything is more evenly spaced with similar growth rates, the mature ash trees have blocked off a lot of light and only a limited no of trees are growing around them, plus I want to level the sandpit to make it safer, I don't know what was in the sandpit /quarry it could be an open cast mine for all I know, there doesnt seem to be much evidence of sand but you never know, whatever it was, it supports the growth of Ash trees. suggestions welcome.


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    I have stone walls that have about 1.5 x 1.5m of an embankment, probably due to shortage of stone at the time they were being built. I was thinking of planting willow along this. I have a number of questions

    Does willow work well in a solid fuel range or do you really need a gasification boiler?

    If it is a hedgerow do you really need a felling licence to prune/coppice your hedge?

    Do you need to protect willow from sheep?

    The wall I intend planting the willow along has been earmarked for tradtional stone wall maintenance under AEOS, can I still plant a willow hedge along it, or does this infringe the traditional stone wall aspect of the boundary?

    I have a small stand of ash trees in an old sandpit/quarry some of them are quite mature, i want to coppice them but I am not sure if mature ash trees are suitable for coppice, basically I want to cut it all down so that I can start again with some plantings and some coppice so that everything is more evenly spaced with similar growth rates, the mature ash trees have blocked off a lot of light and only a limited no of trees are growing around them, plus I want to level the sandpit to make it safer, I don't know what was in the sandpit /quarry it could be an open cast mine for all I know, there doesnt seem to be much evidence of sand but you never know, whatever it was, it supports the growth of Ash trees. suggestions welcome.
    Should you not get the pit checked out for heritage reasons before you level it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    I possibly should but a) I can't afford an archeologist, b) It is not marked on any map as a monument c)There is no folklore attached to it so the likelihood is that it was just used by local farmers for either sand, stone or clay d) it isnt safe for tractors or kids
    By levelling it I can possibly find out what it was used for and find out if it can be economically exploited by yours truly


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 262 ✭✭ greenfingers89


    slowburner wrote: »
    What is this disease and does it affect 'native' Larch?

    no such thing as native larch....are you thinking of european larch maybe? the disease is due to the pest that is rhododendron, phytophtera romorum (mightnt be correct spelling) i think is the strain causing the problems....at this moment in time its only in japanese larch, which has led to the department taking it off the approved species list for grant aid. however, more worryingly, sitka spruce in close proximity to diseased jap larch has been found with the infection....lets just hope it doesnt spread into other sitka plantations!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,401 ✭✭✭ reilig


    I wouldn't recommend willow for a range because there isn't enough air control. With teh gasifier, the boiler allows the willow to burn at full tilt until the whole boiler reaches 72 degrees. Then its starts to control the amount air that enters the boiler. This allows for a longer burn. A range or a stove just doesn't have enough control over the air.

    Sheep will nip at new grown willow at this time of year when grass gets scarce. But willow is hardy and will always regrow.

    Thinning out the larger trees from the sandpit might be a better option for you. You could remove some of the bigger and mature trees which might be blocking the light and this would allow more space for the smaller trees to grow.

    Hope that helps.
    I have stone walls that have about 1.5 x 1.5m of an embankment, probably due to shortage of stone at the time they were being built. I was thinking of planting willow along this. I have a number of questions

    Does willow work well in a solid fuel range or do you really need a gasification boiler?

    If it is a hedgerow do you really need a felling licence to prune/coppice your hedge?

    Do you need to protect willow from sheep?

    The wall I intend planting the willow along has been earmarked for tradtional stone wall maintenance under AEOS, can I still plant a willow hedge along it, or does this infringe the traditional stone wall aspect of the boundary?

    I have a small stand of ash trees in an old sandpit/quarry some of them are quite mature, i want to coppice them but I am not sure if mature ash trees are suitable for coppice, basically I want to cut it all down so that I can start again with some plantings and some coppice so that everything is more evenly spaced with similar growth rates, the mature ash trees have blocked off a lot of light and only a limited no of trees are growing around them, plus I want to level the sandpit to make it safer, I don't know what was in the sandpit /quarry it could be an open cast mine for all I know, there doesnt seem to be much evidence of sand but you never know, whatever it was, it supports the growth of Ash trees. suggestions welcome.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 262 ✭✭ greenfingers89


    Does willow work well in a solid fuel range or do you really need a gasification boiler?

    If it is a hedgerow do you really need a felling licence to prune/coppice your hedge?

    Do you need to protect willow from sheep?

    The wall I intend planting the willow along has been earmarked for tradtional stone wall does this infringe the traditional stone wall aspect of the boundary?

    I am not sure if mature ash trees are suitable for coppice.

    1. willow will be a poor burner in a range and defnetly wouldn't be many peoples first choice

    2. technically you should have a felling licence for any tree over 10 years of age however farmers in particular are always incouraged to coppice trees on a sustainable basis. as far as i know it doesnt mean they are exempt from getting a felling licence (although i'd be truly amazed if anyone questioned you, many people will tell you you don't need one for coppice, the "unwritten rule" generally is if you are cutting a dead, dangerous or diseased tree work away..or if you are coppicing trees for your own firewood supply work away) having said all that a felling licence is free, can be got from your local garda station and lasts for 5 years so if i were you i wouldn't get hung up on do i/don't i need one. just get it anyway if you want piece of mind

    3. for the first tree years you probably will need to protect willow from the sheep, if they are nipped at all they will just fork and you'll end up with 20 stems not worth harvesting i.e a glorified bush.....this leads me to suggest you plant ash or spanish chesnut because you'll need to protect them all anyway but willow (although faster to grow) would be the worst quality firewood....i've seen a few great examples of sheep grazing in ash plantations BUT!!!! the farmer only lightly grazed the area with lambs AND!!! he took them out before the grass got too tight

    4. not sure about doing harm to the stone wall, check this with your planner and if he gives the go ahead for you to plant make sure you get that on paper just to cover your arse

    5. mature ash trees are fine to coppice just make sure you get a nice clean cut and cut it at a slant to avoid water sitting on the stump...after 1 or 2 years id thin out the shoots that grow from the stump and keep no more than 5 stems, avoid felling all these stems at the same time and eventually you will end up with a regular supply of firewood as apposed to a bulk amount every now and again


  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    Thanks reilig and greenfingers89, I like the idea of a gasification boiler but I don't think I'll have the cash for a few years, Having said that, it will take 5 years for the willow to mature so no harm in planning ahead.

    Didnt have a planner for AEOS wasnt obliged to get one, is there anyone else I can get the advice in writing from?, dept official or some such?

    Re the ash trees reilig thats what I thought too, cut the mature trees, plant some new trees at reccomended spacings from existing trees and hopefully have a fairly evenly maturing little plantation which will keep me from fuel poverty in my pension years
    As an aside Has anyone any experience of planting trees in pasture, whereby the trees are well spaced out and you dont lose any major amount of land your animals graze in between and in some cases you can take a cut of hay or silage if done properly, I remember reading about it in 'the furrow' magazine about 20 years ago but never heard of anyone who had actually done it in Ireland


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  • Registered Users Posts: 947 fodda


    Have you considered a log batch boiler or log batch gasification boiler?


  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    fodda wrote: »
    Have you considered a log batch boiler or log batch gasification boiler?

    Yes I have and it really boils:D down to one thing, I cant afford any investment over about 1000 including plumbing. I have about 10 things remaining in my house that need doing first, such as kitchen units, additional insulation, fences and gates, driveway, 4 windows need replacing, I could borrow but wont, I am paying enough back in mortgages and personal loans as it is. Insulation is something you can do one roll at a time, similarly you can replace your windows one at a time, can't install a boiler in stages though
    A willow plantation would cost very little which is why I was considering it, I cant afford a pension which is why I want to plant trees, I know I wont be cold in my old age. As I already have a range, I would hope to grow fuel that works in that, rather than in something that I might or might not be able to afford in a few years time.


  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    I have just had a thought, having taken a second look at wood gasification boilers and decided I cant afford them, My solid fuel range produces a huge amount of hot water, as it on all day during the winter a lot of the excess goes out through an expansion tank which then dumps it outside, would one of the accumulator tanks which are used with the Wood gas boilers work in a similar way with my range storing the excess heat allowing me to have time controlled central heating in the rest of the house i.e. mornings, whilst keeping the main living area warm all day with the range? Should work in theory


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    I possibly should but a) I can't afford an archeologist, b) It is not marked on any map as a monument c)There is no folklore attached to it so the likelihood is that it was just used by local farmers for either sand, stone or clay d) it isnt safe for tractors or kids
    By levelling it I can possibly find out what it was used for and find out if it can be economically exploited by yours truly
    pm me where the pit is, if you like, and I'll see what I can dig up (:p) for you on it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 947 fodda


    I have just had a thought, having taken a second look at wood gasification boilers and decided I cant afford them, My solid fuel range produces a huge amount of hot water, as it on all day during the winter a lot of the excess goes out through an expansion tank which then dumps it outside, would one of the accumulator tanks which are used with the Wood gas boilers work in a similar way with my range storing the excess heat allowing me to have time controlled central heating in the rest of the house i.e. mornings, whilst keeping the main living area warm all day with the range? Should work in theory

    Yes you can but it's not quite that simple. The tanks work as a battery holding all the heat from several sources if you like and are usually fed directly from the appliance, then fed back into the house when needed.

    As you want it you are feeding it as a dump load when the heating isnt on so you will need some extra plumbing with valves to transfer the heat or what i prefer is a good old fashioned manual valve to switch over the heat but i dont know if that would fit any plumbing regulations:)

    The bigger the tank the better and you need extra insulation on it, at least 12"


  • Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators Posts: 5,202 Mod ✭✭✭✭ slowburner


    Granted that willow is not the best firewood in the world, but I burn a fair bit of it in the stove. Once it's dry, it's grand for a bit of quick heat.
    Isn't it a source of charcoal btw?


  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    fodda wrote: »
    Yes you can but it's not quite that simple. The tanks work as a battery holding all the heat from several sources if you like and are usually fed directly from the appliance, then fed back into the house when needed.

    As you want it you are feeding it as a dump load when the heating isnt on so you will need some extra plumbing with valves to transfer the heat or what i prefer is a good old fashioned manual valve to switch over the heat but i dont know if that would fit any plumbing regulations:)

    The bigger the tank the better and you need extra insulation on it, at least 12"

    It doesnt have to be as a dump load for extra hot water, I am not against the idea of running everthing off the accumlator tank.
    Does the accumulator tank replace my hot water cylinder or does the hot water cylinder operate in conjunction with it? where do you normally store the tank does it have to be near the source like the hot water cylinder or can it be outside or up in the Attic? How does it mate up with the OFCH?

    Sorry for all the questions but I have been looking for an affordable solution for my heating issues for a long time


  • Registered Users Posts: 947 fodda


    No it doesnt replace your hot water tank as that is heated by a coil via the central heating i assume.

    Just measure how much hot water you are basically dumping each day and that should give you an idea of how much hot water you need storing and then go for a larger sized tank than what you need.

    But if you do not use this hot water, after a day or 2 you will be back to the same situation as you are now.

    I am no expert or a plumber but that's how i think it works.:)


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,401 ✭✭✭ reilig


    It doesnt have to be as a dump load for extra hot water, I am not against the idea of running everthing off the accumlator tank.
    Does the accumulator tank replace my hot water cylinder or does the hot water cylinder operate in conjunction with it? where do you normally store the tank does it have to be near the source like the hot water cylinder or can it be outside or up in the Attic? How does it mate up with the OFCH?

    Sorry for all the questions but I have been looking for an affordable solution for my heating issues for a long time

    My gasifier has a buffer tank - 1500 litres. Separate hot water tank in hot press which is heated by water from the buffer tank (a coil runs through the hot water tank to heat the water in it).

    Tank is in the garage - it weighs over 1.5 ton when full - so not suitable for upstairs or attic. Also, it is 9ft tall and 4 ft in diameter.

    Water from the buffer tank is pumped into the house when a stat from upstairs/ downstairs or the hot water tank triggers the circulation pump. On entering the house, our heating is split into 3 zones by automatic valves which are controlled by the stats. So, for example, if the hot water tank gets cold, the stat triggers the pump on the buffer tank and the automatic valve for the domestic hot water and this heats up the tank. If downstairs gets below the minimum temp on the stat, then it triggers the buffer tank pump and the automatic valve to open and allow heating the downstairs radiators until it reaches the required temp and automatically switches off.

    All 3 zones can be heated at the one time, or just one if we want. We laso have a 3 way timer which controlls all zones. ie. We only heat upstairs when going to bed, downstairs when there and only allow hot water to heat for an hour before the morning shower.

    Hope that explains it a bit.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 119 ✭✭ galwayhillbilly


    fodda wrote: »
    No it doesnt replace your hot water tank as that is heated by a coil via the central heating i assume.

    Just measure how much hot water you are basically dumping each day and that should give you an idea of how much hot water you need storing and then go for a larger sized tank than what you need.

    But if you do not use this hot water, after a day or 2 you will be back to the same situation as you are now.

    I am no expert or a plumber but that's how i think it works.:)

    Thanks for that, My hot water is heated by both the range and the OFCH, the range is not connected to the central heating, which is one of the reasons it creates so much excess hot water, I can calulate easily enough how much hotwater I am dumping.
    My thoughts were that if I was to plumb the accumulator tank directly to the range, all of the hot water would be stored there and released out to the central heating and the hot water as required,
    With the range not only are we producing too much hot water but also the water is far too hot coming out of the taps, I havent checked the temp but on a cold winters day when the fire has been on all day and the central heating kicks in in the evening you could almost make tea directly from the tap. THe accumulator tank should in theory give my thermostatically regulated hot water and central heating or am I completely on the wrong track here:confused: As for using the excess my plan is that the excess will be used in the mornings and perhaps intermittently at night to keep the house relatively warm and to stop things from freezing up


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