Monday, 9 April 2012

Looking after the pennies....

Wherever and whenever I can, I re-use garden materials. Not just out of a financial necessity but because I've been fortunate (yes, fortunate!) to take on an overgrown almost blank 'canvas' and it feels right to use what I can from the current overgrowth in creating the new garden. Cut wood, in particular, is proving very useful in the renovation challenge! Hazel provides me with crooks for hedgelaying, woven shapes for Christmas decorations, sticks to make a pea fence, plant supports and much more. But other trees are proving useful too.

The hedge between mine and my neighbours is an informal, overgrown hedge; mainly dogwood and box, with a small elder tree (useful for future wine-making). Well this hedge hasn't been managed for years and as a result the top part of my garden wasn't getting much sun.  So back in February my neighbour helped me take down about 8ft off the top of the highest section and now I've got a heap of cut dogwood lying around.  I was going to have a big bonfire to get rid of it but it occurred to me that I could use some of the larger branches as kindling for the winter fire.

That's what I've been doing for the last couple of weekends; snedding (removing smaller side shoots and branches from trees/woody shrubs) and cutting branches. The recent purchase of a 21" bow saw, a billhook and the gift of a good pruning saw from my 'sister' The Green Man, has made the job much easier. I ended up with 4 crates and two bags full of kindling and a large pile of 'twiggy' branches for the bonfire.  At least I won't have to buy so many bags of kindling next winter and I discovered, with the recent drop in temperature, that the dogwood burns much better and longer as kindling than the stuff I usually buy.

hedge (top right) 11 months ago

use of pruning saw on lower branches,
February this year

useful tools: lopper, billhook &

hedge (top right) trimmed; more sunlight & room
for the Elderberry to grow

The start of the winter collection

It's also a good time to be thinking about getting a load of unseasoned wood to store and season for the winter. I haven't yet managed to source much free wood but purchasing unseasoned wood is cheaper than buying it seasoned so helping to cut costs later in the year. I'll be contacting my log supplier soon to do just that.

They do say "Look after the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves", so on that note, if there are any gardeners or tree surgeons in the Cornwall/Plymouth area who want someone to take cut wood off their hands..............hello!


bowledover said...

Lots of hard work there but so satisfying. Well done on your recycling too and the ash also is good for the garden.You can make elderberry curd rather like a jam.Slowly simmer the berries, when the juice runs add warmed sugar equal to the berry weight. Cook until curd sets on a cold saucer test.The berries remain in the curd and are full of antioxidants.
Would you like a blackberry vinegar recipe? you can use other berries its good for ice cream topping or as a hot drink when its cold and a treatment for sore throats.Be well.

Sensory Dragon said...

Hi Bowledover; yep, the Ash will be useful too. Much of the hedge on the left of the garden is made up of Ash and Hazel and I'm planning to do some hedgelaying with it this coming that I've got my trusty billhook! yes please, I'd love the recipe for blackberry vinegar and the elderberry curd is a fab idea too. I'll be giving that a go later this year, along with the usual wine of course! I've got various sites locally now where I know I can collect Elderberries. Hope you're well too.