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.
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.
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.
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.
We are always on the lookout for logos that shows off our logs (and it makes a change from doing table numbers) and when the New Continental launched promotions for its 15th Annual Beer Festival it looked just the ticket.
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.
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.
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.
Both systems are performing very well and a nice fresh Thai curry is very much anticipated soon!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wire together the ends of the two bundles of sticks 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.
Today’s little ‘make’ was a set of tea light holders which were made from Alder that we have grown ourselves from seed. The trees are coppiced regularly to provide wood for crafts or wood chunks.
The pictured three pieces were commissioned for use as a table decoration in a festive photoshoot for a magazine, hence the (red) candles being placed straight into the wood.
For use in the real world rather than a studio, we would always advocate having a heatproof separation between the candle and the wood such as a small glass holder or jam jar.
For this shoot, the designer will be creating a Christmas table decoration, dressing them with holly, spruce, berries and pine cones but I think the great finish of the bark makes them a really nice touch for any rustic event.
Even though we are nearing the end of July, the sun has not done much shining, whilst it is relatively early in the growing season yet we have more than enough home grown vegetables to warrant a real treat of mediterranean style rustic roast vegetables (with a sneaky little sweetcorn starter while we are waiting).
Roughly chopped onion, courgette, tomato and garlic with rosemary, sea salt, ground black pepper and a good slug of extra virgin olive oil and a splash of good quality balsamic.
40mins at 200 degrees. Mmmm. Could only be bettered if done in a wood fired oven!