As soon as I stepped outside Saturday morning, I could smell woodsmoke.
Off in the distance, plumes of whitish smoke rose straight up into a windless sky from large scale professional prescribed burns.
Why should they have all the fun?
I started firing up a plan.
Part of the PFHQ forest consists of a oak, cedar, and palm mix that is heavy with palm. We call it "The Glade", a name from when we first bought the property and had a picnic lunch dreaming of what was to be.
It just seemed kinda gladey doncha know?
Most of my controlled burning takes place in an open grassy area near the garden, but I really wanted to burn down in the glade and conditions were just so perfect ...
So, I linked together about 3 long sections of hose to bring water down to the glade. Then I toted in a variety of tools ... machete, file for machete sharpening, shovel, huge landscaping rake, and of course ... camera and tripod.
Before I burned I used the big rake to delineate the burn area by scraping leaf litter and branches to create a fire break. After raking, I used the machete to whack the sheathing of old frond bases from the sabal palms that grow so thick in this section.
The glade had never been burned in 20 years of living on the land, so a large amount of fuel had built up on the forest floor. Dead palm fronds are especially FLAME-BOYANT in this respect. The brown fronds go up in flames with a WHOOSH and a ball of fire, plus the sabal palm trunk is covered in a dry fabric of palmy stuff that is the perfect tinder.
Every palm is a roman candle just waiting to go off.
I actually use the dead fronds as a poor man's drip torch. I can light the fronds on fire and walk along bouncing the flaming bits here and there to start a line of fire.
The photo above was taken as the sun was setting and shows the actual glade, an open grassy spot surrounded by palms and oaks. Ahead in the center of the photo, you can see the peaked roof of PFHQ.
I'm not going for cleared land or "city park openness", I just want to mimic the natural cycle of fire and growth in my forest. It should be interesting to see who pops up out of the ash this spring.
I did manage to almost have a palm go up like a torch and I blame that squarely on you nice folks. I was so busy looking down while taking pictures for this post, at one point, that I failed to notice that a spark had ignited the fluffy sheathing about halfway up a tall palm.
Luckily, I did catch it in time and really extra luckily, the stream of water from my triple length hose just reached the flames.
This video does not offer much variety after the first 30 seconds or so. You won't hurt my feelings if you leave early.
Honest ... just a lot of frond whacking.
Nothing to see here folks, move along, move along ...
Tomorrow: Rainbow Springs