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2006 Pictures 3

What's next?

There are still a bunch of trees to clear this summer. So calling all swampers. If the surf is too small we can snorkel at Shark’s Cove. (South shore surf should be sweet, and less crowded as people watch the odds of getting flesh-eating bacteria.)


But longer term, let’s assume Jim and I finish clearing all the trees, at least as chop and drop. The question is how to manage the swamp for the next decade or so.


At this stage, there are at least two options.


One option would be to wait a few weeks for the grass to start re-growing, then spray the grass and not kill trees. If we take this route, similar to what we did before, we would then have a matt of dead straw on top of the mud, and ideally we’d re-plant honohono thru the matt. We'd end up with a comfy swamp, and (ahem) if we then went through another slack period, we'd have a few years grace before the CA grass got back in.


The other more likely option is to do nothing to the grass. Jim suggested that maybe the time has come to just let the trees and California grass co-exist. As long as we got in once or twice a year for a little chop and drop to keep it out of the trees, it would just be another ground cover. Not as cool to walk in as the honohono, but fine as long as we mashed it down a little. The house trees are now trimmed up much higher, maybe high enough that the grass will have a hard time getting a grip. As long as the trees are cleared each spring before they break dormancy, they should get a good summer's growth.


We might even come up with some motorized way to mash the grass down, like a very small dirt bike or scooter (easiest to get out there, small because it would have to be carried across the gooey berms). Or, best working machine, a 4-wheeler, but these are way expensive, and we would probably have to take it apart to carry it out. And then again to transport it back. And need a truck or trailer to haul it. And garage to store it. Hmm, fun but marginal. Most likely we’ll just tromp, maybe with some carpet pieces or snowboards to stand on.



Some of the smaller trees (like these, the “garage” trees) will probably need more help to stretch free and clear of the grass. And we will want to spray / kill any signs of that vine that killed a few trees; ditto any returning thorn trees, elephant grass, etc. It would just be very liberating to move California grass from the "weed" list to the "ground cover" list.














Here (on the last day of clearing) you can see the garage trees in the background. More of them got bent over pretty badly, but most were alive. (Note all of the trees lean away from the tradewinds. When we get to building, we will have to ban concepts like posts being plumb and beams running at right angles to the posts.)








One of the worst bent over trees did die. (This is the one shown way earlier as completely covered.) This was a “lanai” tree in case we wanted a nice porch on both sides of the house. We’ll probably move another tree in to take its place.


Video link in a new window:

(Thanks for the scythe idea to Mike Vanecek. Link to Mike's taro site in new window:

We could consider testing some building. Some of the trees are about a foot wide near the bottom, and big enough for a 4” beam up at deck height. (This pix is one of the main house trees, but we have some others along the stream that are not critical for the house.)

The other test building would take advantage of “knees”. This picture is a postcard from Reelfoot lake in Tennessee (thanks, Nancy) (you can’t see our knees, yet, but you sure feel them walking around). Ours may be approaching the size where we could cut a line of knees off nice and level, then lay a 4X4 on them. If that works, do it a few more times, then lay a deck of plywood or plastic decking. This would be just above water / soil level, but may make a handy staging area, or, get brave, a camping deck for a tent.

Guy says one of the bumper stickers he sees up in Alaska is “Alaskans for global warming”. Since we are right at sea level, we may want to think about what our situation would be like if the worst forecasts come true (sea levels rising 20 feet). The picture is Waimea valley at a very high tide (and during all the heavy rains of 2006). Our access problems may, er, float away. Our “house” may become a dock.

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If we get the CA grass down low and growing vertically, we could test cutting it short with a European scythe. Mark sez there is one on the family farm we can borrow for testing. He'd found it long ago, laying about, and restored it, and tested it. This design is supposed to be quite easy, as long as you are cutting vertical weeds close to the ground. (You might enjoy the fun little video link.) The biggest problem is the CA grass is more horizontal…. I could have picked up the scythe in April on my Ozarks trip, but decided to wait. My excuse was I have not yet scored a “peening” hammer and the skill to go with it. (If you read about the scythe you’ll see it has to be razor sharp. I’m testing that trick on my machete.) But perhaps it was a lack of vision.