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    • CommentAuthorRedNine
    • CommentTimeJan 7th 2009
    We have a small wood burning in our lounge and i'd like to grow a few fast growing trees or shrubs that would be suitable for burning. Has anyone got any suggestions ?? we dont have a particularly big garden 80ft or so.
    Check out the forrestry commision web site for details on fastest growing trees and best type for the soil etc. Is also a great read.:bigsmile:
    • CommentAuthorRedNine
    • CommentTimeJan 7th 2009
    ta for that, i'll have a look there
    • CommentTimeJan 7th 2009
    Posted By: RedNinea small wood burning in our lounge
    call the fire brigade!
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009
    Around my area the moment they are big enough to burn the council would slap a TPO on them :-)
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009 edited
    <blockquote><cite>Posted By: the stove installer</cite>Check out the forrestry commision web site for details on fastest growing trees and best type for the soil etc. Is also a great read.<img title=":bigsmile:" start="fileopen" height="15" alt=":bigsmile:" isMap="false" hspace="0" loop="1" src="http://www.greenbuildingforum.co.uk/newforum/extensions/Vanillacons/smilies/standard/bigsmile.gif" width="15" vspace="0"></img>

    Cross reference with this list...
    You won't heat the home from a small garden but I'd go for a mixture of willow, poplar and leylandii (yes, seriously).
    • CommentAuthorStuartB
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009
    A neighbour chopped down a 12 year old leylandii tree about 2 months ago and we burnt it over Xmas and it burned very well. So they obviously don't need much seasoning either. FYI - as we had run out of logs we also bought a bag from a petrol station and they were rubbish. The logs just wouldn't burn!
    Yeah, logs form oil wells are rubbish. Get them from trees.
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009
    Big Leylandiis make good looking floorboards etc - grown commercially for structural timber in NZ.
    • CommentAuthorShepherd
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009
    Traditionally a lot of firewood was from coppices - willow does coppice particularly well - but see the websites other people have suggested. Just thinking that a row of trees that you coppice from fairly early on should avoid tree preservation orders - also keep the height under control in your garden. From memory the cycle is about five years, though it depends on your growing conditions and part of the country - as in once the tree roots are well established, you have trunks of a nice thickness to make logs without needing splitting, five years after you last cropped that particular tree.

    You can start willow from slips - so if you know friends with willow trees, ask for cuttings from spring onwards. From experience, at least in our soil, they are best started in pots for a year to get a good rootball going. There are also faster growing than traditional trees modern hybrids of willow.

    Poplar - at least lombardy poplar doesn't make the greatest firewood I think. My father felled a poplar when I was a kid and we had it for fires, I seem to remember him complaining about it - can't remember if it was the cutting or the burning that was the problem. It is the wood traditionally used for matches he said.
    • CommentAuthorRedNine
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009
    Excellent, thanks very much for responses - very helpful indeed. Think i'll try a few fruit trees, some 'super' willow and give our leylandi a yearly snip.
    Generally the faster it grows the faster it burns. Willow you practically see growing - I've got some super fast hybrid stock that does 5m a season easily. But you've got to dry it before you burn it or you waste all the heat boiling out the water. Ash is the best as it will burn freshly cut. Big tree, though! But, yes, it does coppice and is a great wood too. Oh, yes, and dry hawthorn is the hottest. But it must be dry.
    • CommentAuthorsune
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2009
    you can coppice a lot of tree species:

    "Alder, Ash, Beech, Birch (3-4 year cycle), Hazel (7 year cycle), Hornbeam, Oak (50 year cycle), Sycamore, Sweet Chestnut (15-20 year cycle), Willow. Sweet Chestnut, Hazel (7 year cycle), and Hornbeam are the most commonly coppiced tree species in the UK currently"

    : )
    • CommentAuthorNut Hatch
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009
    I have been working towards more-or-less eliminating our gas (£PG) usage and in the process looked at the possibilities we have of employing a wood burning boiler and thermal store. The question of the amount of land we would have to dedicate to the production of wood is outlined in the "back of envelope" estimate below.


    There are many variables that will affect the growth of trees, but we can get some idea of the amount of energy that a stand of trees will store in a year.

    According to Nasa, the southern part of the UK receives an average of approximately 1 MWh per year on each square metre (optimally facing sun at all times).

    Our latitude of 52N affects how much actually falls on each square metre of ground. (At midsummer it is reduced to 85% and at the equinoxes to about 60%.) This is again reduced because the sun is not directly overhead in its daily motion from east to west. We can expect this effect to introduce another factor of 60%. Most sunlight is received during the summer when the sun is high in the sky and so we can expect trees to receive, say, 40% of the total suggested by the Nasa figure.

    Trees convert, perhaps, 0.5% of the incident energy, so we can expect one square metre of tree plantation to store 1000 x 0.4 x 0.005 = 2 kWh per year.

    One hectare (10,000 sq M =2.47 acres) will collect about 20 MWh per year. We can expect this figure to be a generous estimate. This energy would be stored by 5 tonnes of wood.
    • CommentAuthorCWatters
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009 edited

    "An average three bedroomed house would need 7-9 tonnes of air-dried wood to provide all the heating requirements. The area of coppice woodland would need to be at least 3 hectares in order to be self-sufficient in firewood."

    1 hectare = 2.471 acres
    3 hecteres = 7.4 acres.
    I believe that Willow, while fast growing is a very poor burning wood. That is, its hard to light & hard to keep lit. Tends to smoulder rather than burn cleanly.
    • CommentAuthorSimonH
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009
    The intersting thing is that if you want energy - PV is much better at converting sun light to energy than trees are. Running at about 10% per year acre rather than a trees 0.5%. (Of the potential sunlight energy that fell on the land).

    The problem is - how do you store it till winter? Use a compressor to store compressed air? Charge a huge battery bank? Make hydrogen?

    If someone can crack how to collect circa 10-20,000kwH of energy based on using PV as the source - then I guess they'd be a miwionaire Rodney.

    Plus not burning stuff is much better for the environment: Less land is used and no nasty "oxides of wood".

    I know that if you used the electricity to make hydrogen then you lose about 75% in conversions back and forth - however that still leaves you at 2.5% which is 5 times more efficient than an tree. But no one I'm aware of is yet selling home hydrogen and fuel cell heating kits.

    10,000 kWh of batteries will set you back circa £300,000 so that's a none starter.

    Compressed air - my geuss is that you'd need something the size of a petrol tanker or two.

    The other problem to get about 10,000 kWh of electric - as source energy, you'll need a 13kW PV system (assuming 750kWh per Kw Peak). So that's about £20,000+. Take out the losses from conversion to hydrogen and back and you'll need 4 times that.

    So 7 acres of trees seems like an economical solution until technology gets cheaper! Plus you can upgrade the land with PV at later date ;-) But even that isn't cheap at £5,000-£10,000 an acre depending on where you are. Wood isn't free! The interest on £75,000 would be, er, nothing these days! It used to be a few grand a year, but with interest rates hitting new lows you may as well spend the money on land if you have it!

    The cheapest solution would make sure you only need 5,000 kWh per year first. By spending say £10,000 on superinsulation. Then you'll only need to buy 2 acres of trees.

    I did some calcs a while back that showed if everyone superinsualted their house and got demand down to circa this level then we'd be able to grow tres on 5% of our farmland and provide all our domestic heating needs. Without insulating first we'd need to use 50% of all land - not just farmland!

    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009
    Posted By: SimonHThe cheapest solution would make sure you only need 5,000 kWh per year first. By spending say £10,000 on superinsulation. Then you'll only need to buy 2 acres of trees.
    or presumably one fifth of that, 0.4 acres, of PV? Why not instead, having super-insulated, capture the required heat from mid summer solar radiation, inter-seasonally store it as low-grade heat, retrieve that for the winter heating. What acreage of wet- or air- solar collector would that require? Far less, just a roof's worth, and far cheaper than PV?
    Red nine: do NOT let poplar, willow or Leylandii loose in your garden. Disaster is guaranteed owing to their very pernicious habits. I KNOW, I am not some armchair freak as we have plenty of experience on our 50acres of woodland.

    80ft of garden is mighty small, and cannot possibly make much impact on a thirsty woodburner. Sweet Chesnut and hazel are the most pleasant garden candidates and coppice forever at 7-10 years into say 3 to 6" diameter timber. If in southern England, you may get chestnuts and hazlenuts to eat as well!
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009 edited
    register with the local council for deliveries of felled timber
    contact arborists for deliveries of felled anything
    create a compost heap for any green leafy bits and small branches
    and use the 80ft of garden space to build air-drying shelters that also house solar hw panels

    then you could erect a wind turbine to ensure all around know that you are 'doing your bit'
    better still read a permaculture / self-sufficency book and grow your own food..
    p.s unlike funcrusher i am an armchair freak and my comments should be read with caution
    • CommentAuthorShepherd
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009
    We have a secondary motivation with planting willow and polar - sheep fodder. Our little Soay sheep are mighty fond of a few branches. If we ever have a drought summer, then we're hoping we could supplement their forage from the trees, as they should stay green longer with the deeper roots.
    Also, have about 20 acres and if we do have an invasive problem, then we turn the sheep onto it. Last summer had a few plants of Japanese knotweed appear in one corner which was basically a rubbish heap left by the previous owners - we put it on the to-do list to get in there in the next couple of weeks - then our sheep wriggled under a dodgy bit of the fence, having first eaten the nettles that were hiding the hole and the knotweed completely disappeared. So in a round-about way I'm agreeing with funcrusher - as in I'd forgotten what being a gardener as opposed to a smallholder was like.
    I'd say the same of sycamore too - it seeds like crazy - good firewood and coppice tree but you'll have lots of weed trees.

    Have fun with the tree planting - when you go shopping for trees, try looking for some sort of wholesaler. Garden centres would be the expensive way to go.
    • CommentAuthorRedNine
    • CommentTimeJan 9th 2009
    Thanks for the comments, i guess this is what i find both interesting and infuriating about some of these green issues - there doesn't always seem to be an immediate correct answer.
    • CommentAuthorfuncrusher
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2009
    That's because there are too many dewey-eyed innumerate young idealists who
    have either little practical experience and /or are unable to perceive that what might be possible in a shack on Snowdon cannot possibly work on a council estate in Hackney or on a large scale anywhere. They nearly all criticise the modern industrial society - until they have toothache or appendicitis.
    • CommentAuthorShepherd
    • CommentTimeJan 10th 2009
    So true Funcrusher, so very true.

    I used to do 17th century re-enactment and read a lot of the practical social economics and history for background. This was the end of the pre-factory age and woollen cloth production was based on the following pyramid.
    It took 8 carders working full time to clean enough fleece to keep a hand spinner working full time.
    It took 8 spinners working full time, to keep one weaver working full time.
    So that is 64 carders, 8 spinners and one weaver. Not to mention the fullers, dyers, dye growers or importers, farmers, shepherds, carters etc. for one piece of cloth.

    Most people in that period had one set of outer clothes, often second hand.
    Many servants were paid for their labours with food, a warm place to sleep in front of the kitchen fire and once a year a garment - jacket/bodice one year, skirt/breeches the next. No cash. No chance to have a home or raise a family.

    Really poor people couldn't afford linen - they used to process the fibres from nettles to make their shirts. In the English Civil War, a common recruiting ploy was to offer recruits a good linen shirt that they could keep.

    I have friends who are keen re-enactment handicraft people - working for years on carding and spinning - and that was nothing like full time. Several of them have had to quit due to arthritis in their finger joints following all that manual labour - well before our modern retirement age.

    I have worked Living Histories - living on a 17th century farmstead, chopping wood, making charcoal, hoisting every bucket of water out of the well, walking everywhere - by heck you go to bed before sunset in the summer - you're just too spent to do anything else.

    Rednine - me too on green issues. When you look at something properly it takes an awful lot of time. Wish there was a master website somewhere with all the right answers on it :-).
    I'm a scientist by training and do find the political/"mainstream" approach to green very annoying. People pick on one tiny issue and suddenly its like the Life of Brian - fights over whether the true sign is the sandal or the gourd. Got annoyed last year when the one true cause mentality lit on the methane given off by farm animals - no-one was discussing what would happen to that land if it wasn't grazed, the global warming impact of bumping off all the animals, and what would we eat instead and what would be the global warming impact of that. Nope, someone saw what a relatively large percentage farming was contributing to global warming emissions in Scotland and blamed it on sheep burps. (I exaggerate a little).

    Also oops, this was about firewood. Going to submit anyway as there have already been a lot of proper on-topic posts here. :-)
    • CommentAuthorGotanewlife
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2009 edited
    Gulp - it can't really be a 50 year cycle for coppiced Oak can it???? The wood I buy for my heating is 80% oak and does seem to burn really well but heaven knows how much woodland I will be using each year. I live in central Italy, callled the Green Heart of Italy for a reason, I just hope the strict laws here hold up and external pressures don't take too much out in the future. Otherwise, in a few years I might be wishing I had gone for a grain burner rather than wood.
    • CommentAuthorbiffvernon
    • CommentTimeJan 11th 2009
    50 years would (just about) produce construction timber rather than just firewood. The firewood would then just be the waste from the timber production.
    So what is the cycle for fore wood for Oak?
    • CommentAuthorDan McNeil
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2009
    Bit of confusion here regarding coppicing frequency. Coppicing can be carried out for many reasons - forage for animals, timber for construction, timber for boundary treatment (i.e. fencing), firewood etc. Your desired end result (i.e what you want the harvest for)will dictate the coppice frequency (as will the species, the soil, the exposure etc.).

    Yes, there's minimum coppice frequency (this will tend to be 5 - 7 years for production of fencing etc.), but otherwise, simple lists of coppice frequency with specifying what the end result is for are pretty meaningless.
    • CommentAuthorTheDoctor
    • CommentTimeJan 12th 2009
    if a household needs 7 acres of woodland to be self sufficient from a fuel perspective, before food, before infrastructure etc, this highlights the massive problem!
    we currently have 1 acre per person in the UK. this includes the Highlands, and all the windswept un-inhabitable areas, and acres of tarmac.

    the rural idyll of 'self-sufficiency' rapidly falls apart, and again shows that reducing need is equally, if not more important, than the source of the fuel.

    we'd all love 10 acres with a house, a hill, a stream, a woodland, some animals, a polytunnel and a mini-market garden.
    turns out to be a fairly blinkered 'i'm alright Jack' approach to the problem.

    i am by no means lily-white in this respect!
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