Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Willow trees  (Read 634 times)

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Willow trees
« on: January 11, 2023, 09:24:23 am »
We have a parcel of land, approximately 80mx40m. We've lived with it for about 4 years to see how the land changes in different seasons. After that period if has become apparent that it is wet pretty much 11months a year!

The land is quite hard to maintain as the only access in is via a gateway before it opens out (kind of wedge shape).

I've though about quite a bit and I'm thinking of planting a willow coppice. Like all things I'm doing on the farm I'm trying to make anything we do serve as many purposes as possible. I'm after recommendations for types of willow to plant and the uses they can provide. For example is there a market for willow in crafting and is there a species that is best for that? I are there any other uses and species that work well for the purpose?

Appreciate any advice.

Thanks

Fleecewife

  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: Willow trees
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2023, 12:24:00 pm »
The most commonly found willow is usually Goat Willow, which has the type of 'pussies' we associate with willow and grows very tall.
I don't know the name of the type used for biomass for boilers, but sections of plants are readily available for planting.
The willow used for basket weaving is Osier, grown on an almost industrial scale in the SW.  Locally however, weavers may have a need for willow with coloured stems.  There are many of these, from bright scarlet and yellow through to blue. Growing stock for these in small quantities is available on Etsy and from the second year you can propagate your own.  You would need to learn how to grow and cut willow to be suitable for weaving.
Once you have a coppice planted up you could sell on propagation material yourself.
I don't know the willow type used for growing structures such as woven hedges, kids living gang huts, living picnic spots etc (probably goat willow) but selling pieces for people to grow their own could be a market.
if you keep sheep then 'tree hay' can be made from willow for winter fodder and fresh branches can be fed all year round to provide micronutrients and forage.


There are also many, many species of willow which are worth growing just for their beauty and variety. They will help to dry out the sogginess from your parcel of land - we use them here for the same purpose.
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

There is NO planet B - what are YOU doing to save our home?

Do something today that your future self will thank you for - plant a tree

 Love your soil - it's the lifeblood of your land.

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Willow trees
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2023, 01:37:23 pm »

Is it wet because it gets flooded/ is in a floodplain or just not draining? Is there a dip which could be enlarged to create a pond? Was there a pond at some point in the past? What has it been used for most recently and also longer ago (like 100 yerars ago or so), if you can find out?

I would have thought the market for willow for basket weaving is quite small, and more importantly not really guaranteed.


However growing willow, poplar, alder, birch etc for firewood and ramial woodchips (used for soil improvement) may be a much better option. We have found goat willow to be really fast growing, and hybrid poplar is reputedly similar. Just about to take our first crop for firewood after about 10 years or so (I have lost the notebook with the planting dates...) from goat willow, planted as quite small whips.


Also you can use branches for tree hay if you only have small-ish numbers of goats/sheep/cattle and somewhere to dry them.


80 x 40 is a decent bit for a garden or similar... you probably could build at least a couple of houses on it...


Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: Willow trees
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2023, 02:02:44 pm »
Thank you both for your advice, it is really useful. With regards the land, its flatish with no dips for standing water. It looks to me that the topography of the land means that everything from the neighbouring land falls in my direction,  there's a ditch adjacent which always has running water and for most of the year is fast flowing. My take on it is that the land is fairly saturated, the adjacent ditch can only take water away and a given speed so there's hydraulic pressure from the ditch preventing water from passing through the land and into the ditch to drain away. It it's a bit tricky to tell as the area it pretty overgrown almost as soon as it is cleared. I've driven a tractor in there to top it and it definitely has areas that are wetter than others. Due to the weather I haven't been able to get in there to cut it back. I will take the brush cutter in with a mulching blade and clear the ditch area so I can check that there isn't anything fundamentally wrong there but I cleared it the first year we moved in and I seem to remember it being the same kind of issue. I like the idea of planting it as firstly it will look more appealing than scrub,lsecondly remove an area that needs continually clearing and finally if it can provide a useful byproduct then that is a bonus.

The idea of building is great but my local planning authority are a nightmare and I don't have enough brown envelopes to get anything through. In terms of a garden it's too far away from the house to be a practical option and I have spent a few years cultivating an area closer to the house.

In my ideal world I would have planted Ash for firewood as that can drink shed loads. Sadly that isn't an option I thought I'd go for something that both looks nice and provide s a benefit to the land. If I get a useful product from the end then that's a bonus.

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Willow trees
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2023, 03:24:47 pm »
A wildlife pond?  It would act as a sink for excess water and might help drain the rest of the area, plus it would help bio diversity - encourage wildlife and establish its own eco system
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: Willow trees
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2023, 04:52:24 pm »
This was a possibility, I had thought about doing this and installing a spillway pipe. I have a similar arrangement on the ponds for the ducks. The main reason that put me off was the expense as it will be to have a machine operator dig and move the spoil etc. The willow was a cheap option that potentially had the chance of a small side income but I do like the pond idea

doganjo

  • Joined Aug 2012
  • Clackmannanshire
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Re: Willow trees
« Reply #6 on: January 12, 2023, 05:06:52 pm »
The spoil could be used to create a banked inlet stream from the worst affected areas
Could you hire a mini digger and do it yourself to reduce costs?  Shouldn't need a liner.  Mine didn't but it was only about 20 feet across.  Worked great to stop the garden flooding and the ducks loved it. I did have to put barley straw in occasionally to limit the pond weed. but it made great mulch
« Last Edit: January 12, 2023, 05:10:12 pm by doganjo »
Always have been, always will be, a WYSIWYG - black is black, white is white - no grey in my life! But I'm mellowing in my old age

Anke

  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: Willow trees
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2023, 08:13:44 am »
We are currently burning well-seasoned birch in our wood burner and it works very well. As far as I know birch can also take quite a bit of wet land, so that may also be an option.

Kiran

  • Joined Apr 2019
Re: Willow trees
« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2023, 07:13:02 pm »
Birch isn't a bad shout. I've been burning storm damaged silver birch and it gives good bang for its buck. I wasn't sure what the growth rate of up front investment will be but will do some investigation.

Thanks

 

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