Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hot Thoughts

Last winter, Emma and I control burned this open grassy area, just south of the pig pen/garden area. There were alot of deadfall oak branches in the area at the time and these we piled high to burn in the spot above.
Obviously, it's been a good year for grasses and wildflowers, look at the growth above. Everything in the photo above was burned by Emma and I, but only the pile of branches supported a sustained fire.
Our controlled burns are rapidly moving grass fires that sweep over the designated area quickly, leaving the ground beneath relatively cool.

The fire ring makes me wonder just what changes took place in that soil due to the log fire. I've heard people say that fires sterilize the soil, and I can buy that for a short period of time after the fire, but ... "Life will find a way" and all that. I can't see fire sterilizing soil so much that essentially nothing grows in the spot most of a year later.
Seeing the fire ring so barren after a grass blade's dream of a summer, makes me wonder just what does the fire do to the soil?
Does it change the chemistry of the soil so much that even tough as nails scrub plants won't reseed it?

It's a burning question I have.

These asters (?) are blooming now in the big fall flush of wildflowers. They grow happily in soil that is barely more than beach sand in some places and they seem to appreciate the controlled burns we do.

Now here's the result of a good controlled burn. These are the ribs I barbequed for Junior's birthday Sunday.
Yes, they tasted just as good as they look. Moist with a carmelized coating, tender, but not mushy.

My hotrod of a truck supporting a hot load of datil peppers. I have enough peppers for my personal use so I'm saving peppers for seed at this point.
... Okay, it's a dormant 1982 GMC S15 pickup truck ... not a hot rod, but it IS toting a hot load.


threecollie said...

I love the whole growing plants in buckets thing. We get dairy pipeline cleaner in 15 gallon barrels. After a good wash when empty we cut them in half and grow lettuce, carrots, etc. in them. This year I even grew zucchinis in them. Because of the heavy rain, which drowned the garden, I got my best veggies from them.
Having them up in the truck must be even better so ground pests have to work harder to get at them.

Pablo said...

I have long, open glades in my forest -- all aligned north to south -- where only the wispiest of grasses will grow. I attribute that to being the sites of burn piles back in the days of the cattle ranch.

lisa said...

They look pretty darn good and at least the truck is being put to good use one way!

Anonymous said...

One of the factors is the ash left over from the fire is full of lye and changes the soil PH for several seasons. Hardwoods (oaks and fruit woods)will make a bigger difference than soft woods (pine and fir) and large piles which build deep ash and lots of heat remain barren the longest.

The controlled burning of dead grasses and weeds actually benefits the ground by killing of undesirable weeds and young invasive trees, and leaving behind easily assimilated nutrients for the fresh growth in spring.

But then the Native Americans knew that,long before we decided it was a good idea. Eccl.1:9

Thunder Dave said...

Those ribs looked mighty tasty and the Datils look nice and healthy!

Anonymous said...

The ribs look great. What kind are they? Babyback?

I just discovered Datil sauce in the past few years. Yum!


Hurricane Teen said...

You need to quit with the BBQ and Datil posts, they're driving me to homesickness :-)
Good looking plants! Being elevated in the "obligatory redneck broke-down truck" helps keep the blight at bay, I'm sure.

robin andrea said...

It'll be interesting to see what does finally grow there in the fire ring. I like natural experiments like that.

tai haku said...

Those datil plants look so healthy, nice upright habit too.

elpbulls said...

Best ribs ever!! Don't forget your Tampa bound daughter needs some datils for vinegar and if she is ever to make a delicious batch of pilau!! Love you!

Marge said...

I asked your question of Dr. and Mrs. Broussard (they own Forever Florida, near Holopaw, and the Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Park is named in honor of their son)- Dr. Broussard agreed that “Yes, a sustained hot fire does sterilize the soil – kills everything in it – and it’s very hard for seeds to get a start in pure ash."

Perhaps you can start a drumming circle or something :)


Aunty Belle said...

I alwys learn a whole lot when I come heah to visit a spell. Wow to AKA who knows a thang or two about soils.


Caroline said...

Man, those ribs look great. It's Homecoming week, Flag Captain is very busy and her father is getting ready for a trip to Toronto on Thursday and I had an egg salad sandwich (with the dog for company) for dinner.


Doug Taron said...

We see the same thing up here in Illinois when we burn brush piles. The explanation given above by Angrywhiteman is pretty much how we understand this to work. Depending on how large the brush pile is (and therefore how much ash was deposited) the area will remain barren for 2-6 years. Eventually things come back.

I don't think that your DYC is an aster. If I had to guess I'd say some sort of coreopsis- but my botanical knowledge falls off rapidly in the tropical rainforests of northern Florida.

Floridacracker said...

3C, I love them and down here, the white color helps with overheating.

It does sound like that is the reason.

I love that truck.

Thanks! Thought so.

Two accurate observations!!

Spare ribs from Sams in Gville.

It's dormant, not broke. :)

You know me, I'll keep you posted!!

They really were a perfect batch weren't they? Love you!!!

Thank you for that information!

These were my finest bones yet!

Just finished my pbandj sandwich so I can relate.

I was in a hurry and couldn't take the time to double check.
Your hunch was correct. It's Honeycomb Head "Balduina uniflora".

Anonymous said...

Good recycling on that truck, FC.

How hot are Datil peppers, any way?