A Tree Grows in Brooklyn…There’s Another One at My Place

Did you ever read, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?” I can’t remember if I ever did, but I know I had the book. If there is a tree there, I’m sure the dogs appreciate it. There probably isn’t much solar power on the neighborhood level in Brooklyn, so all is good.

There are lots of trees at my place. It is a tree farm, after all. The blooming Paulownia grove is a delight to the senses, right now. The pines, the ones the beetles aren’t eating, are clogging my lungs with pollen. The green pickup and the blue solar panels are yellow with the pollen. Then there are those danged oaks I have killed every year for the last 3 years. THEY are putting out again, indicating maybe I didn’t do such a good job of killing them.

I have talked about these before, but I feel like venting again.

Why am I trying to kill them? One is to the north of my array and the canopy does not hang over the panels, but the arc of the sun is such that it gives a bit of shading on a couple of banks, midsummer, when I need all I can get for air conditioning. I’m adding MORE a/c in the form of a mini-split for the Solar Shed’s control room/Man Cave. It hit 95 out there yesterday when I was working on taxes. That’s starting to get too warm.

The other big oak is off to the east and causes a slow start to the power production in the morning. The original phase of the Solar Shed was only 16′ long and was not affected, but the shed has grown and is getting near the canopy.

Dad used to kill the oaks in the planted pines two ways. They had a backpack-mounted machine called a Little Beaver. It would gnaw the bark away around the tree. This is called girdling and it interrupts the flow of nutrients.

They also had a thing that looked like a bazooka. You’d bang a pointy beak into the bark and pull a trigger. That dribbled in a dose of Agent Orange, as they called it in Southeast Asia. Agent Orange is the good stuff, but Home Depot doesn’t carry it, for some reason.

Well, I started with girdling, using the solar chainsaw. I have girdled a second channel. I have attacked the trees with a flamethrower. I have axed away all the bark between the two channels and charred the raw wood. I have bored holes in the trunk and roots, filling repeatedly with herbicide. And a different herbicide. And copper sulphate. The trees are filling out beautifully with the new leaves.

So why not just cut them down? Listen up. I was a Boy Scout, a half century ago before they ruined Scouting. I have skills. You put a bottle cap within range and I can drop a tree right on it. The rules for tree felling do not apply, though, when near expensive stuff and they totally go awry if there is a video camera running.

Therefore, I have turned to just plain killing in place. When you can actually get the tree to die, the smaller limbs fall straight down and the larger limbs come in pieces. You end up with the central trunk, which is easy to handle.

My next step will be to pour rock salt around the tree bases and to call my crop duster friend Rex. He has a reputation for killing every living thing in two counties whenever he goes up with a load of Roundup. He also managed to kill a 50′ swath of trees with an emergency dump of fertilizer at my place, last year. The man is death on wings.

If there is any point to this rambling, it would to be to advise you to take care of the tree issue before you start putting up panels.

And DON’T do this!

Don’t be the guy who installs $40 grand in hardware behind a tree.

–Neal