Good Oak News

Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016 Stewardship Seminars: Managing Weeds and Invasive Plants Series

We're excited to announce that as part of our expanded Land Stewardship Center we'll be offering three seminar series on ecological restoration and sustainable landscaping this spring. These series are going to give us enough time to cover each topic in the detail they deserve, teaching folks how to "save the plant" on their own property.

 The first series is coming up next Wednesday!  

 Managing Weeds and Invasive Plants Series

I've given presentations on invasive plant management many times, and never have enough time to really 'get into the weeds' so to speak. By breaking this topic down into 4 classes we'll have up to 8 hours (!) we'll have plenty of time to talk about all the common weeds and invasive plants of each type, and comp up with individualized plans for the weeds attendees are dealing with on their own property. Here are how we're breaking down this topic: 

   1.  Invasive Brush & Weedy Trees - 7pm, Wed. 03/02/16
   2.  Woodland & Shady Area Weeds - 7pm, Wed. 03/09/16
   3.  Prairie & Sunny Area Weeds - 7pm, Wed. 03/23/16
   4.  Landscape & Urban Weeds - 7pm, Wed. 03/30/16

All classes run from 7:00pm-9:00pm.
$15/class OR $13/class if you register for the entire series. 

To Register: email us, call us at 608-209-0607 or stop in at our Land Stewardship Center (4606 Pflaum Rd. in Madison)

For more information this and the rest of our series for this year, check out the 2016 Stewardship Seminars web page, or click on the flier below.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Want to Save the World?: Good Oak is Hiring

We're looking to fill a few positions here at Good Oak.

We're looking to build up our team for the season, hiring for our Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Landscaping Technician position. This is our general get it done on the ground position, working both in natural areas and residential/commercial landscaping sites.

We're also announcing our spring and summer internships. We're looking for college students that want to learn a lot about native plants, ecological restoration and sustainable landscaping. Our spring internship starts in early-March, and applications are due soon, so don't wait!

We're also looking for someone with a strong background in horticulture and landscaping for our Sustainable Landscaping Manager position. Please note that this is not a position focused on ecological restoration, and only those with strong a landscaping/horticultural background should apply.

Find out more at our new Employment page.

The Good Oak Team, summer 2015.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Beaver Blades Make Brush Cutting More Efficient

Winter is the time to clear invasive brush that chokes our woods. With snow or frozen ground, you're not going to do much damage treading on the soil and if carefully applied, herbicide will have no impact on the recovery of native flora.

I'd like to tell you about a product that we've been using for years now. Its been so revolutionary to how we work, I've kind-of tried to keep it a trade secret. But we love so much that we've decided to set ourselves up as a retailer, so we can share this product with our clients and other land managers in our region. They're now for sale in our online store, or our Land Stewardship Center at 4606 Pflaum Rd., Madison, WI.

The Beaver Blade is a replacement, and significant upgrade for those standard brush cutting blades that come with your "weed whip", "string trimmer", "brush cutter" or whatever you want to call it. It basically turns your brushcutter or heavy duty weed-eater into the best brush clearing tool available. Once you’ve used them, you’ll never go back to standard brush blades. We’ve been using them for our winter brush clearing work for over 6 years, and I really can’t recommend them highly enough. It improves on the standard blades that you get with your brushcutter in three important ways:
  1. It incorporates actual chain saw links into its design, meaning larger, stronger cutting teeth that are easier to sharpen. The chainsaw teeth allows for clearing the wood chips more easily and they also reduce resin build up. Both of these issues can slow the cutting ability of traditional brushcutter blades.
  2. These teeth are, in-fact, part of a loop of saw chain that runs around the circumference of the disk blade, and are not bound to the disk directly. This allows the chain to slide around the disk when substantial force is applied, acting as a clutch mechanism. This reduces jerking when you do get the blade pinched, or hit it against a hard object and also reduces vibration while cutting. This increases your safety, comfort and work endurance.
  3. The disk is made of heavy gauge steel. The mass of the disk acts as a fly wheel. It maintains momentum well and thus keeps the disk keeps spinning fast for high speed cutting. It can cut through stems up to 1.5" instantly, and quickly tears into of larger diameter stems.
The overall effect is that you can clear brush approximately 50% faster than with a standard brush blade with much reduced operator fatigue. You can easily cut large stems up to 3.5”, and can even tackle small trees up to 8” in diameter with a little care working on both sides of the trunk. But note that you largely loose the ability to directional fell when cutting around the perimeter of a larger tree truck with the Beaver Blade, so we make it a policy to cut "trees" larger than 4" in diameter.

The first rule of brush-cutting: Don't drop a tree on your boss (especially when he's holding an expensive camera). This is a good example of how you don't have much control where the "tree" falls when using a Beaver Blade, but at this size this buckthorn is not too heavy, and not too hazardous.

Beaver Blades are made in the USA with high quality steel and real saw chain. They can be sharpened with the common 3/16" chain saw file. Though they cut surprisingly well even when dull, they should be sharpened after 4-8 hours of use (assuming you haven't hit any rocks or the dirt) for maximum performance. When you wear the teeth down to nubs, you don't have to throw your Beaver Blade out! They can be outfitted with a new chain, a service we will be providing for about $35 (contact us directly for this service).

Brushcutters in general are better than chainsaws for brush clearing since you don’t need to bend over to make your cut. Just remember if you want to kill a decidious tree/shrub permanently, you will need to apply concentrated herbicide to  every stump that you cut, or it will resprout.

Apply herbicide to the stump carefully, its only needed around the circumference of the stem where the live cambium is. Additional herbicide application is wasteful, or worse: over-spray that could kill surrounding plants too.

The 8” Beaver Blade attaches to most mid-powered weed-eaters/brush cutters to high powered brush saws. It fits the most common 1” arbor size found on brush-cutters, and comes with an adaptor to work with 20mm arbors.
We use them with Stihl FS-130, FS-240 and FS-250 brushcutters, and they should work with any brushcutter of similar size or larger from Stihl or other brands. 

We've found that we've had to do some minor modification to fit it with the safety guard on our brushcutter; we need to file down the outside-bottom edge of our safety guard just about 1/8” for the Beaver Blade's teeth to clear, since the guard is designed for the thinner blades that Stihl produces).

Are you hard at work clearing brush to help restore our woodlands and prairies? Tell us what tools you like. We've managed to gather up our favorite cutting tools in our online store, take a look.