Fire starter/composting/brush cleaning

Talk about multitasking here we go. There are several ways to clear brushthat are easier than the method I’m going to explain, but this way I accomplish 3 different things at the same time. For instance, it would be easy to set fire to the woods and burn the brush. it would also be easy to bush hog all the brush. With these two ways you don’t end up with compost or fire starter. If you have acres to clear, you will probably need to one one of these methods but if you have only a few hundred square feet or if you you need started, try this.

Trimming Gallberries

I have almost 50 acres of gallberry bushes tha are about 1/2 inch in diameter. A metal blade on my Ryobi 40 volt weed eater works amazingly well for cutting these off near the ground. I then pick them up and stack them with all the stems in the same direction.

Next, I move them to the area that needs compost. Using a sharp Gerber short machete, I trim off the leaves and small twigs. Hold each bush by the base with the top on the ground. Use the machete to strike along along the stem to remove small twigs and leaves. Limbs that are too big to easily cut will be taken care of in the next step. These leaves and twigs, if they are green, are high in nitrogen and will end up making excellent compost. The leftover sticks are stacked in a neat pile next to a chopping block.

The chopping block is an importand part and should be positioned so that it is comfortable to use whether stand, sitting or kneeling. I preferred kneeling so the sticks don’t fly so far when they get chopped off.

  1. It’s important for the branch you are cutting off to be touching the block.
  2. Make sure your machete is sharp. That’s another work saver.
  3. Cut the sticks off at an angle. For some reason that only a physics professor would know, it is much easier to cut them off at an angle rather than straight across.
  4. Cut them while they are green because again green wood cuts much easier than dry wood.

I cut the firestarter in about 8-10 inch lengths and then let them dry out for a few weeks before using.

When starting a fire, I like to begin by making a pile. On the bottom is a couple of pieces of corrugated cardboard about 6X8 inches that I have beliberately torn so that the edge is paper thin. On top of that, goes a pencil sized piece of fat wood. On top of the fat wood place a handful of twigs. On each side at of this pile put sticks 1-2 inches in diameter. Now stack more small branches and logs on top. Hopefully you have save a small opening so you can get to the paper thin cardboard. Light that cardboard and you should have a great fire in just a few minutes.

There are lots of composting videos on the internet and most of them call for green material to be mixed with brown “carbon” material, and manure. Most of the time i don’t have a lot of green material, so these leaves help me make compost. I’m also happy to have good fire starter and as a bonus, I get some land cleared. After s[emdomg a couple hours doing this, I have enough fire started for most of the winter and I’m happy with that.

Warm days and peace to you.