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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Thursday - December 18, 2008

From: Iron Bridge, ON
Region: Canada
Topic: Trees
Title: Seasoning oak for burning
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I have an oak on my property that has been dead for at least two years. It has produced no leaves. When I cut it down (it was 93 inches around), it looked extremely healthy. We split it up and my father-in-law has had a horrible time burning it. He says that it was dead in the extremities, but the main trunk was still "green". Is this possible??

ANSWER:

We suspect that your father-in-law is right, not using "green" in the context of still being alive, but as meaning the wood has not aged in the proper conditions long enough. Not being personally experienced in this practice (you don't burn trees in Texas if you can help it), we found an excellent website, Woodheat.org, How to prepare your firewood supply that gives very explicit instructions on how to deal with this problem. One thing we learned was that improperly stacking the wood in a too-crowded condition to season it can cause mold to grow on the wood and then be transmitted into the house when the wood is brought in to the fireplace, not a good thing. You may have to recut and/or restack the wood from your tree, and maybe wait another year to use it, but apparently oak is one of the most difficult woods to properly season for use in indoor fires.

 

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