Growing your own firewood

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by onalove, Oct 1, 2010.

  1. onalove

    onalove Junior Member

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    I've read references to instructions for growing your own woodlot and managing it for firewood, but can't remember where. I'm in the Central West NSW and I'd like to dedicate 1/4 acre to growing firewood trees. I understand trees which coppice are preferable, and acacias, casuarinas and some eucalpyts best. Does anybody have any information or ideas? I'm an older woman on my own, but I'm hoping my neighbours might help me with cutting and splitting in return for some of the wood. At the least it might be cheaper than buying wood!
     
  2. adrians

    adrians Junior Member

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    in australia, and similar countries, the definition of "fire-wood" seems to be a bit different to "developing countries" alot of people you will find, look at acacia and other small thin timber, and say, that's not firewood, it's rubbish! And in some ways, it is alot easier to burn nice blocks of eucalypt etc rather than small wood which burns out quickly, meaning you have to constantly stoke the fire. Eg sometimes one of the stated uses for pigeon pea is for "firewood", the small amount produced makes me think this is only viable where very small cooking fires are being used, or things like a rocket stove, rather than heating a house with a standard wood fire.

    Can anyone tell me what size timber they would normally grow from coppiing?

    Anyway, I just wanted to say this, because I wouldn't want you to plant stuff hoping people will help you out, only to find your neighbours don't value it as firewood.
    What trees grow around your area? maybe plant those? Is it grey box, yellow box, red gum? maybe some cypress and bulloaks too? these all work really well as firewood (cypress mainly for kindling). I would try to plant it out with a good diverse range of local species (including, but not entirely acacias etc)
     
  3. pebble

    pebble Junior Member

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    Location:
    inland Otago, NZ
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    Inland maritime/hot/dry/frosty
    I also think the type of fire you have, the size of the firebox, and what kind of house you live in is important. I've been burning willow this year and really like it - it burns somewhat fast but burns very hot and holds its own embers (unlike something like pine which burns fast and disappears fast) and it works for the situation I am in.

    I agree with looking at what grows in your area as a starting point, both what's been planted and what grows naturally.

    Timber sizes... there's a thread in the past where people explained to me really well how many smaller logs are better than one big one (it's to do with surface area). You can look that up. I'm looking at this more now as there is alot of free firewood around that is smaller in diameter than most people want. It's also easier for me to manage in terms of cutting and storing. I haven't grown firewood yet but would be looking at this size issue if I was wanting to coppice.
     
  4. milifestyle

    milifestyle New Member

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    Been looking for an article i read once about using bamboo for firewood... can't find it and time is getting the better of me... might be worth your investigating... Needs to be cured and from memory it can explode if not dry...

    Good thing is it grows fast.
     
  5. mischief

    mischief Senior Member

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    Ah yeah bamboo explodes!!

    We have recently lost our timber mill where we used to get the off cuts quite cheaply for firewood.
    This was kiln dried and used to burn quite quickly and hot.
    Its taken some time to get used to how natural wood burns.
    Different types do apparently burn differently.
    We've had eucs, macrocapa,oak, pine,rimu.
    From what I ve seen for the most part, is if the piece is around 10-15 cm in diametre,then it burns really well in our firebox.
    If its bigger than that now especially if it still has al its bark on, we split it or rough the bark up with the tomohawk
    I also notice that if a piece feel heavy then its wet and sit it by the firebox for awhile til it dries out.
    you get used to how the different types feel when you pick them up.
    Wet wood burns cold'n smoky.
    Although I've been told that Oak will burn hot even when its wet.
    Another trick we learned was to rough up the bark on the kindling with the tomohawk, by making cuts all up and down the length of it.
    It helps the kindling catch the flames better.
     
  6. onalove

    onalove Junior Member

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    Thanks for the quck replies! Yes, I can imagine with all those pockets of air in bamboo it would be a risky business. I know fire is quite a personal thing - you get to know your stove, your wood, your needs. I'm hoping to use branches rather than trunks of trees, so I don't need to split it. Somehow there has to be a solution for us older folk who can't get out there with chainsaws and axes! I thought if I couldget someone to cut branches down and into manageable sections, then leave them to dry for 12 months, I could drag them up to the house, and cut them smaller with an electric circular saw.
     
  7. onalove

    onalove Junior Member

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    Thanks Adrian - yes I agree, smaller is better. In any case, I'm not able to split bigger pieces, as using a block splitter is mostly beyond my abilities and strength. I'm hoping to cut branches. If I can pay or swap with someone to cut down branches and slender trunks in large but manageable lenghts, and leave them lying on the ground to dry for 12 months, I can drag them up to the house or put them in my trailer, and cut them into usable size with a circular saw. Or that's the plan anyway!
     
  8. onalove

    onalove Junior Member

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    Now that's any idea. We have a hardwood timber mill about 140 kgs away. Not sure of the economics and environmental effects of lugging off cuts so far though.
     
  9. Mirrabooka

    Mirrabooka Junior Member

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    I wonder if any colleagues have experience using coppiced tagasaste and chestnut for firewood? It seems that these species, at least on paper, fire retardant, drought proof, fodder tree, ticks all the boxes.

    Also, I am looking for species suggestions for South East Australia timber for pole timber, fence posts, building lumber, etc
     
  10. Grasshopper

    Grasshopper Senior Member

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    Ive got a lemon scented gum that constantly supplies perfect little sticks for a rocket stove and hibachi.
    No chopping required,occasionally you have to snap one over your knee.
     
  11. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    Black locust!


    Rocket stove?
     
  12. Lumbuck Thornton

    Lumbuck Thornton Junior Member

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    The first program of “SHELTERED” on NITV (Australia Sunday Nights at the moment) about a guy with Canadian indian origins who is a builder who is visiting indigenous peoples all around the world to see how they build their shelters went to meet this tribe that makes floating islands out on a lake 15 metres deep. The had no trees and had to import some wood for building frames but their cooking was all done by burning reeds. Probably similar to bamboo in that the stalks can explode but I think with the right shaped rocket this might even make it go faster !! Tussock burns really hot and fast which might be good for start up but common rush on inclined feed into a rocket with enough draw not to burn back might be interesting.
     
  13. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    You can't go past Casuarina for firewood, surely. Some are frost-tender, pick wisely.
     
  14. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    right again SOP!
    Casuarina splits beautifully ! not sure on its coppicability
    and hot as hell!
     
  15. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Poor coppice. Can be pollarded.
     
  16. andrew curr

    andrew curr Moderator

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    Where about in central west!???
    Casuarina Leauminii,cuninghami,cristata
    Osage orange?
     
  17. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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  18. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    Eucalyptus camaldulensis. One of the widest grown fuel woods in the world.

    Excellent coppicer. One PDF just mentioned 2 forms, one suited to a Mediterranean climate. Always difficult to find stuff for other climates, most of my memory is tropical-based.

    https://createyourgoodlife.com/coppicing-for-firewood-eucalyptus

    https://www.pir.sa.gov.au/forestry/...firewood_in_the_south_east_of_south_australia - this link is a good one. Worth extrapolating for southern (to me) states. Good tables available with all the info required to get started. Available as PDF too.
     
  19. EllieB

    EllieB New Member

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    I've only just found this site, so forgive me for posting years after the initial posts.
    I too am looking to grow my own firewood in the Central West of NSW. I have plenty of room (9 acres) and I am already growing Causarinas and Eucs.
    I have plenty of horse manure - would that be OK to use as a good fertiliser to promote faster growth?
    I read that coppicing is required? I would like to see how this is done rather than just get all my knowledge out of books.
    I use firewood in my combustion fire that has an oven underneath, as my only source of (very efficient) heating. Because I am growing lots of trees anyway, the thought of growing my own fuel only dawned on me this week.
     
  20. S.O.P

    S.O.P Moderator

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    This is what coppice is. Luckily for you, I came across these E.propinqua just last week!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Most of the documents listed above should pertain to you. Pick your species, set up a rotation or removal and replace, and design your forest for easy removal. The horse manure would be better suited for composting at your house and using that as a tonic for better tree establishment at planting time, and maybe during the first year. Eucs, Casuarinas, and the better firewood Acacias will grow well without much help. Ripping, broad forking, subsoil plowing will probably be a better choice for prior establishment.

    Coppice is a rotation system of cutting a trunk lowish to the ground (first harvest), and allowing new growth to form. Approx 5-7 years. Then repeat. Note in the photo the regrowth, if it was cut now, wouldn't need splitting as it would go straight in the fire at that diameter. Keep that in mind to reduce splitting labour.
     

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