Cutting Saplings


We use a lot of saplings. Good thing they grow so fast! It is very handy to have a patch of brush that is growing up toward tree height. The tighter they are packed the straighter and narrower they grow. These are thin enough at about 3″ diameter at the base to be easily cut with a large pair of geared loppers. This makes for excellent hardwood and softwood posts for all sorts of projects around the homestead from fencing to gardens. The branches get cut off and either given to the livestock to munch on or bundled up and dried for kindling and tinder in the wood stove.

On this particular day we were cutting posts and beams to be supports for the greenhouse tunnels we were building in the garden. These are simple affairs – you may have noticed them in some of the past photos. Basically four posts set in a line in the ground with an iron tamping rod to make the hole. Then a 20′ long sapling goes across the top of these to make a ridge pole. Next we laid 6666 Welded Wire Mesh over this to form iron cages and tied them together with twine. 6 mil translucent sheet plastic went over the structure. Presto, magico, instant greenhouse.

It is still pretty cold inside the greenhouses right now but they have already melted the snow down to bare ground underneath each one. The soil there will warm much faster than the rest of the soil so we’ll be able to plant earlier in those areas and use them for starting seedlings as well. This extends our rather short growing season.

During the summer the plastic can be rolled up to get ventilation. By leaving it part way down it creates a warmer space than we can otherwise get – perfect for watermelons I hope!

Friday: 18째F/2째F, Snow flurries, Sunny

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Cutting Saplings

  1. TNfarmgirl says:

    We have also done the little greenhouse over our rows – works so well. Another thing you might try, if you haven’t, is Wall 0′ Water. It is a greenhouse for a tomato plant. Essentially it is a bunch of sleeves in a row, placed in a circle. Fill the sleeves with water and the top of the circle collapses in a bit sheltering the wee tomato plant inside. Instant Greenhouse! We love them!

  2. Emily says:

    Hi Walter, this seems like a pretty creative idea! Being that the saplings are free, about how much would you say it would cost for the other materials per tunnel? Extending our growing season here would be a very good thing. Also, would you mind posting a link to the photos you mentioned so I can get a look? Thanks, and God bless your day!

  3. TNFarmGirl, I’ve seen the water wall, my father uses them, but I’ve not tried them yet. On my list. :)

    Emily, Each sheet of 666 WWM costs about $6 – prices vary with the market and location – and makes a 5′ long section. So to make a 20′ long garden tunnel it is about $24 for the metal. I have contemplated using saplings bent over the ridge pole. I think that would work, but I had the metal because I’m going to do some cement work in the spring so until then it is ‘stored’ as greenhouses. :)

    The plastic needs to be at least 10′ wide and 12′ wide is a bit easier to work with. It should be as long as the tunnel plus 10 more feet to close off the ends. It seems the cost of sheep plastic varies greatly. I got a 100′ roll for $35 this time but other times it has been more expensive. I used up most of that roll on the many greenhouse tunnels and animal shelters.

    That material can be rolled back up and saved for next year. Not leaving it exposed to the summer sun will make it last longer. Don’t fold it as the creases break later.

  4. Oh, I forgot the links to the photos, here you are:

    Chicken’s house

    Winter Pig Farrowing

    In the back on the right…

    I’ll do more in the coming month I suspect.

  5. Emily says:

    Thank you for sharing your ingenuity, Walter. This has been so helpful especially with the photos. We’ve been meaning to use movable pens for the chickens so the links you posted served double duty as I came across your plans for the hoop houses. I’ll have to sit down with my husband and make a supply list now! By the way, you seem to know so much about livestock, do you have any experience with guineas?

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