‘Drone’ view of our food forest

Climbing the Tallow tree

Climbing the Tallow tree

I love climbing… trees, rock faces, boulders. Sadly, the responsible mother that I have become now keeps all climbing gear well away, stored in a plastic box in the shed!

Well, except today!

I went up a tree, took a drone-view of our work in the veggie patch and the food forest, and then… well, I cut the tree down!

Hear me well, I do not like cutting trees down (although for some strange reasons, I quite enjoy working with the chainsaw!!! Bizarre).

So. I had a Chinese Tallow tree on my hit list for a while. It was growing strong in our food forest (well, more specifically, the food forest grew around it!) and taking valuable light, space, nutrient and water from it.

Invasive weed

Valley's End veggie patch & chook yard (2013) Chinese Tallow Tree in the background (top left)

Valley’s End veggie patch & chook yard (2013)
Chinese Tallow Tree in the background (top left)

Besides, Chinese Tallow tree is a major weed in this part of the world, especially in riparian areas. It sends suckers everywhere and it seeds prolifically.

It is also very water hungry and sucked up valuable moisture from our burgeoning food forest and nearby veggie patch.

Our farm is so embedded into the bush where we manage a healthy regrowth of native riparian and rainforest species that it makes no sense to keep one invasive -albeit beautiful- tree.

So, for all these reasons, the tree had to go.

Create no waste – Value renewable resources – Obtain a yield

There is a plethora of options to do the above…

  • Heat: I will burn the bigger wood in the wood stove in winter.
  • Soil building: I will make biochar with the smaller branches.
  • Edging: I could use the logs to edge a garden bed (although I am wary of the fact that the log could strike roots where in contact with the ground… best is to dry it well off the ground first)
  • Compost: I cannot feed the foliage to any of our herbivores as it is toxic so I’ll have to compost it as there are quite a few mature seeds held on the branches (not to self, next time, get in before the tree set seeds!). Some seeds may survive the composting so I run the risk of inoculating the garden with a new tree… but I am always in the veggie patch and a young seedling is easy to weed out.
  • Soap: I could harvest the wax on the outer coating of seeds to make soap… but no, I won’t!
  • Honey: I toyed with the idea of keeping the tree standing because the bees just love it! But when I noticed half a dozen suckers ten meters or more around the tree base, and many seedlings in a 100m radius , I quickly changed my mind!
  • Food: I will inoculate the smaller logs (about 100-150mm in diameter) with shiitake mushroom plugs which I got from Will at Forest Fungi. I’ll run two batches side by side: one on Tallow tree, one on eucalyptus. We’ll report back later on the experiment!

Nothing in that tree will be wasted.


one simple over-riding rule

“Only remove a weed when you have something else to replace it with.”

That’s one of the many things I remember strongly from my training with Rosemary Morrow many years ago.

So, when I moved to Valley’s End, I carried out extensive weed identification and went about studying their ecology and ecological impact.

I also brainstormed lists of local or non invasive species that could replace those weeds.

So before cutting that particular tree down… well, I planted 40 others and their support species too! (Thanks Kelvin!)

Once those news trees were established, then, and then only, did I decide to cut that one down.


  • In my younger years...

    In my younger years…

    birds still have a perch, (and new food!)

  • bees still have forage,
  • the watertable is still being pumped,
  • soil microbes still have a habitat and food, and
  • the bush is free of invasive danger,
  • And I got to reacquaint with a former passion!

And if you’re ready to learn permaculture and weeds management…

Contact us

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.