Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Sugar Maple is a favorite shade tree with reliable fall color, found in the forests and meadows throughout all of Ohio, but flourishing in the cooler climates and more acidic soils of northeastern Ohio and Appalachia. It is valued for its hard, dense, fine-grained and difficult-to-split wood, which is utilized for floors, furniture, veneer, musical instruments, and railroad ties.
The hardness of the wood gives it the alternative common name of Rock Maple.

Native Americans invented the process of maple sap collection and its distillation into maple sugar and maple syrup. If you are interested in learning more about the sugaring process, there is a workshop scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Feb 11th. Click on the Education icon above for a flyer and more information. A native of southern Canada, the greater Midwest, and the Northeastern United States, trees found in the open may easily grow to 80 feet tall by 40 feet wide. As a member of the Maple Family, it is related to all other species of Maple.

Planting Requirements - Sugar Maple thrives when it is planted or transplanted into rich, moderately deep soils having even moisture coupled with good drainage. While it prefers acidic soils, it adapts readily to those of neutral or alkaline pH. Clay soils cause it to struggle more in terms of root penetration to tap into deep soil moisture in times of drought.
The key to the preservation of established Sugar Maples is to not disturb the roots by extensive digging, or compact the soil above them with heavy equipment or vehicles, or a serious decline in tree health will likely occur. Sugar Maple adapts to shady conditions in its youth, but must eventually grow in full sun to partial sun, and is found in zones 4 to 8.

Potential Problems - Sugar Maple does not perform nearly as well in the southern limits of its range (zones 7 and 8), where the heat, humidity, and drought of summer take their toll. More commonly, encroachment of construction traffic and the associated soil compaction, soil grade change, root disturbance, and various pollutions associated with housing construction and subsequent urban conditions do not favor established Sugar Maples, and they often respond with a rapid decline or death when their forest is converted into a subdivision. Sugar Maple also does not like being transplanted into heavy clay soils or to long periods of drought in summer. Verticillium wilt is an occasional disease primarily occurring in wet springs, and leaf scorch is a perennial problem when drought occurs.

The Sugar Maple is one of 8 tree seedlings which will be offered in the 2012 Tree Sale held by the Guernsey Soil & Water Conservation District. Other seedlings include white pine, red pine, black walnut, sawtooth oak, American plum, redbud, and flowering dogwood. The district will also offer 2 varieties of blueberry, a red raspberry, and a gold raspberry. For more information and to print an order blank, please click on the Tree Sale icon above.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

American Plum (Prunus Americana)

American Plum, also known as Wild Plum, is present throughout all of Ohio, and is native to most of the eastern and central United States. It white, pungently sweet blossoms emerge in early spring before the foliage breaks bud. It easily forms colonies and thickets in fields, fence rows, and along roadsides and woodland edges, where its suckers from roots and its germinated seeds create a mass planting similar in mounded appearance to that of wild Sumacs and Crabapples.

Its fruits are sweet when fully ripe, and make excellent jelly or jam due to their high pectin and high acid content. American Plum reaches 20 feet tall by 25 feet wide as an individual specimen under optimum conditions, but forms thickets of indeterminate width with time. As a member of the Rose Family, it is related to the Serviceberries, Chokeberries, Hawthorns, Crabapples, Cherries, Pears, and Roses, as well as other Plum species and hybrids.

Planting Requirements - American Plum, like many members of the Rose Family, is very adaptable to a wide variety of environmental conditions, including soils that are rich, average, poor, or rocky, and of acidic, neutral, or alkaline pH. This species likes moist, well-drained soils, tolerates drier soils, and thrives on neglect in full sun. American Plum is found in zones 3 to 8.

Potential Problems - American Plum, like all members of the Rose Family, is prone to a host of diseases and pests, which primarily affect the foliage and fruits.

This is one of the 8 seedlings available during our ongoing tree sale. We'll also have blueberries and raspberries for sale. Click on the Tree Sale icon above to print an order blank. The deadline is March 16th, with limited quantities on some of the plants.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chainsaw Safety - Operating the Saw

Follow these safety procedures:
1. Always engage the chain brake at these times:
• When you start the saw.
• When you take one hand off the saw to do something.
• When you take more than two steps with the saw running.

2. Start the saw safely by using one of the following two techniques:
• Place your left hand on the front handle. Hold the back of the saw tightly between your legs. Pull the start cord (after engaging the choke, if necessary) using a fast but short stroke.
• Place the saw on the ground. Place the toe of your boot through the back handle to hold the saw down. Hold the front handle with your left hand. Pull the start cord using a fast but short stroke.

3. Focus on the forces of the saw. Anytime you use a chain saw you need to be aware of the reactive forces created. When you cut with the bottom of the bar, the rotating, cutting chain can pull you into the work. When you cut with the top of the bar, it can push you away from the work. Your body stance and grip are determined by which part of the bar you are using to start your cut so you are physically prepared for the reactive forces that may occur.

4. You can experience a kickback almost every time you use a chain saw. Most are mild and easy to control. A severe kickback can cause one of the worst accidents you can experience working with a chain saw. Most kickback accidents—in which the chain saw is suddenly thrown violently back towards the operator—occur while removing limbs from a tree that is on the ground and while cutting the trunk (bucking). Kickback occurs when the chain is suddenly forced to stop. The most common way this happens is when the upper tip of the bar touches a tree, log, or branch. Another way the chain can be stopped suddenly is when a log or a limb pinches the top of the bar and chain while cutting from below with the top of the bar.

Kickback can be prevented by:
• Making sure the upper tip of the bar touches solid wood
• If you have to cut a log from below, do it in two stages: first cutting from above, then making another cut from below to meet the first cleanly
• Holding the chain saw with both hands
• Gripping the handle by putting your thumb around it
• Keeping your elbow locked
• Never cutting above shoulder height
• Keeping the saw close to your body and not reaching out with it
• Using a saw equipped with a chain brake
• Starting every cut under full throttle
• Keeping the chain sharp.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Chainsaw Safety - Choosing the right saw

Your local chain saw dealer should be able to advise you on the chain saw that will meet your needs. Before you select a chain saw—as a minimum—consider horsepower, bar length, chain type, and safety features.

Horsepower—Use a saw with a power head rated at 3.8 cubic inches or less.
Bar length—Use the shortest bar possible to accomplish your tasks, to reduce the hazards involved. Finding a bar length that is suited for all your woods work means you can avoid adjusting your thinking and physical movements for different bar lengths, which should help you avoid mishaps. You should be able to perform all your tasks with a bar length between 16 and 18 inches.
Chain types—learn how to choose the right chains for your saw and how to sharpen and maintain them. This knowledge will improve your productivity and help you avoid wear and tear on your body and the saw. Some chain styles may reduce cutting time, which in turn may reduce your fatigue and result in fewer accidents. A dull chain saw will not cut straight, if it cuts at all.

Safety features—Chain saw safety features include these three:
• Chain brake—activated with a flip of the wrist to prevent the chain from moving.
• Throttle safety latch—mounted on the top of the throttle handle, it must be depressed by your thumb before the throttle can be engaged.
• Chain with guard links—designed to reduce the incidence and severity of kickback.

What personal protective gear do I need?
You need to protect your head, hearing, eyes, face, hands, legs, and feet.
A hardhat outfitted with earmuffs and a screen type full-face shield is the best protection for your head, hearing, eyes, and face. Not only does it protect you from saw injuries and hearing loss, but also from getting particles in your eyes. You can use a hardhat, earplugs, and eye goggles, but a hardhat provides the added face protection and all the safety features in one piece of equipment.

You need to wear gloves or mittens when you operate a chain saw. You may want to consider additional protection by wearing gloves or mittens constructed with chain saw protection for the left hand if you’re right handed or for the right hand if you’re left handed.

Leg protection is absolutely necessary. Leg injuries account for nearly 40 percent of all chain saw injuries. Chaps, leggings, or protective pants are options. If you choose chaps, be sure to purchase a wrap-around style and a length that will protect the ankle. Pants provide greater comfort and avoid the problem of twigs catching behind the chaps.

Leg protection options are made with different types of fibers. Purchasing those with washable ballistic nylon fibers makes it easier to keep them clean, which is necessary for the fibers to do their job. Long-term protection depends on the types of fibers used. Oil soaked fibers will not explode and stall a rotating chain, which is how the protection occurs.
Chain saw protective boots or at least an above-the-ankle leather work boot is a must to protect your feet.

What other equipment do I need?
Assemble these other necessary tools and supplies: wedges, ax, large hatchet or maul, properly mixed fuel, bar oil, bar wrench, chain file with protective handle, small screwdriver with magnetic head, minor maintenance tools, and a first aid kit.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Successful Seedings Workshop

How do you define success? Is it when things turn out like you wanted them to or close to it? Webster defines success as a: degree or measure of succeeding b: favorable or desired outcome. Successful Seedings is an educational program to give you information so that when you do a seeding on your property you can have the greatest chance of success.

Anytime you plant a seed there are a few things to consider. It does not matter if it is grass seed for your yard, clover in your pasture field, corn in your crop field, or peas in your garden. There are steps you need to take in order to be successful in this endeavor. The information to make good decisions about your seeding will be covered during Successful Seedings. Topics to be covered include; soil types, basic fertility, seeding rates, herbicides, equipment, frost seeding, and soil health.

Every year seems to have its challenges when it comes to the topic of seedings. 2011 was wet, 2010 was dry, and what will 2012 bring? ‘Who knows’, is probably the best answer. Did your lawns, hay fields or pastures get beat up because of the wet weather and the mud it caused? Do you need to reseed some of those areas? What are the best plants for wet areas or dry areas? How deep should I place the seed? How much fertilizer do I need? These are a few of the questions that should go through your mind as you look toward this coming spring.

Maybe you don’t need to do a seeding at all. This program will also provide you with the information to help you manage what you currently have, potentially increasing the aesthetics of your property, the productivity of your operation and your bottom line. Start out the new year and set yourself up for success!

Please bring your questions and join Joe Lehman and Van Slack from the Guernsey Soil and Water Conservation District and Clif Little from OSU Extension for this program.

The Successful Seedings program will be held at the Guernsey SWCD office located at 9711 East Pike, Cambridge, Ohio on Thursday, February 2nd from 6:30pm – 8:00pm. Reserve your spot by calling the Guernsey SWCD at 432-5624.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Chainsaw Safety

As you begin to implement your backyard woods plan you may want to remove some trees to give a favorite tree room to grow, or cut some firewood or fence posts, or remove a tree with a hazardous defect. A chain saw is the tool used most often to cut down trees. Cutting down a tree is one of the most difficult and dangerous activities you can do in your woods. From the moment you take a chain saw out of storage to the time you put it back, you can be hurt by it or by whatever you are cutting. To work safely in your woods you need knowledge, skill, and safe working habits.

What do I need to know?
Learn how to use a chain saw before you take it into your woods. Books, Web sites, and videos can provide you the information needed to cut down a tree up to 8 inches in diameter that has very little lean, remove the branches, and cut the trunk into pieces. To become skilled enough to safely drop a tree in a desired direction, however, requires hands-on chainsaw training.
Skill and safe working habits are developed by training and practice. One way to obtain training is to learn from someone experienced with a chain saw. There are also hands-on chain saw training courses available. The local Cooperative Extension Service or local chainsaw dealer are a couple places to find training opportunities.

Never work alone in your woods with a chain saw. In the event of an accident or emergency, you have to have someone who can help or bring help. You can quickly get into trouble when working alone in the woods with a chain saw.

When you are in the woods where someone is operating a chain saw observe the safety zone rule: Never approach within 200 feet of a person using a chain saw until he or she sees you, stops work, and signals you forward. A person using a chain saw tends to be unable to hear anyone approaching or calling to them because of the high noise level and their hearing protection. They tend to be concentrating on their work and not looking for other people. This rule also applies to two people operating chain saws in your woods. If you ignore this rule you are in considerable danger of being hit by a falling tree or flying debris.

Knowing your limitations and that something is beyond your capabilities is essential. If you are not sure you can do something, don’t do it. Hire a professional to do it for you.