Readers of Dakotas Landing know we recently bought 40 acres that joins the National Forrest. This land has not been lived on for 12 years and much of it is forested property. Recently we were on the land working to clear a place that will eventually be our new home. For over a week we raked leaves, mowed prairie grasses, and removed dead trees and limbs that were a fire hazard to our property.
As you would imagine we quickly accumulated piles upon piles of leaves and organic debris. To prevent a fire in the drier months to come we quickly set about control burning all the waste. A control burn is a small manageable fire that a property owner does to rid the land of hazards that could turn into a wild fire.
We burned on a very windy day even though it wasn't windy when we started. We didn't have any problems containing the fire to our designated burning area. As a property owner the fear of fire spreading is a great motivator to do things the right way.
We were safely able to burn much of the debris on our property using this method:
Remove all the debris in a 3 foot path around the area you will burn in.
Use metal wire mesh bigger than the fire you plan to set.
Anchor the wire with rocks so that it will not blow away in a strong wind.
Use a fireplace lighter to light the fire through the holes in the metal mesh.
As the fire begins to burn down feed more of the debris to be burnt.
Control burning has been performed for 1,000's of years. It is an optimal way to manage forested land, and encourage new growth. Some seeds can only grow after a fire has broken down the seed coating. The ashes from a control burn are a great source of potassium and is used in many farming and horticulture applications. In the coming weeks we will till up land for a garden and spread the ashes to encourage fertile soil.