Making Log Wreath Picks

Son and heir James has found a new skill to raise funds before returning to Manchester for the final year of his Masters degree…. bundling up small willow ‘logs’ to make what florists call “picks” which are used to decorate festive wreaths and garlands.

A length of green stubbing wire is wrapped around three suitably sized twigs or sticks (we use our home grown willow) to form the bundle which leaves the tail of the wire to be pushed through the wreath base and bent over at the back to hold it secure.

Wired bundles of twigs for Wreaths
Bundles of ‘log’ picks for wreaths and garlands

The picks can be used ‘as is’ or further decorated with bows made of ribbon or raffia to suit the colour scheme of the wreath (and hide the wire) in a similar way to how cinnamon is often used.

The fruits of James’ labours are available in packs of six, along with everything else you need to make your own wreath, from


Leafing Tomato Plants

We usually only remove tomato leaves as they eventually turn yellow as the tomato plant slowly moves its efforts to supporting fruit higher up the plant (i.e. de-leafing the plant up to the truss that is producing ripe tomatoes). But, due to the very low light levels we have experienced this year we have got a bit ahead of ourselves and stripped back the leaves so that what light there is can see the fruit and ripen the tomatoes.

Leafing Tomatoes
Leafing tomatoes

Mowing draws the crowds

Yesterday proved to be quite an attraction for the residents of our coppice with both hens and geese needing to see if anything tasty was being uncovered.

Mowing coppice with Kubota tractor and spectating hens
Mowing between the coppice trees to prevent weed seeds spreading to neighbouring land
Mowing with geese
Our geese keeping an eye on mowing progress in the coppice

This field was partially planted with ash trees (all grown from seed ourselves) but after news of the breakout of ‘ash die back’ we planted the remainder of the field with a mix of Alder, Birch and Sycamore.

Where possible, the best of the harvested wood is used for a variety of crafts, but the bulk of it gets cut up for fuelling wood fired pizza ovens, wood smokers or logged as a certified Renewable Heat Initiative Biomass for wood boilers.


The giant sunflower has flowered

I don’t know if they stop growing once they have flowered so we thought it best to take a measurement…. 12′ 3″ (3.73 meters).

Definitely a personal best but I suspect it won’t be enough to win the local competition. All the plants in the local competition were from the same source  so it was a level playing field.

The giant sunflower has flowered
Giant Sunflower Competition

Later on I accepted an invite to verify the height of the sunflower grown by Mr Peter Ball of Banks, Southport. It was 12’5.5″ so was 2.5 inches higher than mine. I really don’t think it counts though as he has had a massive sodium light on above it throughout the nights AND he lives in Banks. Cheats the lot of ’em.

Giant sunflower grown by Peter Ball of Banks
12′ 5.5″ sunflower grown by Peter Ball




Hydroponic Lemongrass Update

A quick view on the progress of our fresh lemongrass being trialled in two simple hydroponic systems; both in a polytunnel that has no electrical supply.

Pot Culture
One is a very simple ‘pot culture’ system where the plants are in a soil medium with a capillary wick which dangles down into a reservoir containing the nutrient solution.

Hydroponic Pot Culture Lemon Grass
Hydroponic ‘Pot Culture’ Lemon Grass

Drip Irrigation
When the sun shines, our solar powered pump circulates the nutrient solution from the reservoir to the top of the clay balls in which the lemongrass plants are sitting. There is no other medium around the roots, just the clay balls.

Lemongrass growing in solar drip irrigation
Solar powered drip irrigation hydroponic system

Both systems are performing very well and a nice fresh Thai curry is very much anticipated soon!



Make a twig star decoration


Make a rustic willow twig star decoration

Twig stars are easy to make and, with appropriate supervision, are a craft project suitable for a wide range of ages. The stars can be used as a decoration or as a rustic wreath base.

Twig stars can be scaled up to make magnificent shop window displays or scaled down to make a small decoration for hanging on a Christmas tree.

The star pictured here is for use as feature wall hanging so we have used twenty 60cm (2ft) willow sticks of around 8mm – 10mm diameter, florists stubbing wire, rustic string and some basic tools.

Willow sticks to make star decoration

The twigs are then grouped into five bunches of four sticks and wired together using florists stubbing wire. You can vary the amount of sticks in each bundle to suit the diameter of the twigs and the overall size of the star you are creating.

Wire bundles of 4 willow sticks together

Trim off the stubbing wire tails and, to avoid any sharp edges protruding, fold back the twisted wire tail into a gap between the stick.

Trim off the stubbing wire tails

Next, just lay out the star paying attention to the ‘weave’ i.e. which length goes under and which goes over the other. I don’t know why this step is so difficult but it always seems to take more thinking about than it should so don’t worry if you need a couple of attempts.

Lay out the twigs to form the star shape

Wire together the ends of the two bundles of sticks at each of the star points.

Join together twig bundles at each of the star points

If the star is to be used as a base for further decoration or a wreath then you have finished but if you want it to be a stand alone decoration then you can cover up the stubbing wire using some rustic twine or bind over it with some fine willow whips.

Finish by wrapping the stubbing wire with rustic twine and are part of our ‘Rustical’ endevours.