Winter Foraging For Your Fire!

Wood, kindling and tinder gathered from your garden over the winter is a great way of providing your own heat.

Winter is the perfect time for pruning and chopping down any trees or branches that have come to the end of their life. The greenery is gone, no birds are nesting in them and the tree is dormant.

First, cut the timber into usable sized logs.  The smaller the diameter of the wood, the faster it will dry. Generally, wood needs about one year of drying time for every inch of diameter.  When it’s cut to size, store undercover, stacking it off the ground, for at least a year to season it. If you have it, try apple, pear or cherry wood – it gives off a lovely perfume when burning.

To make your own kindling save your garden prunings and keep them dry in covered boxes.  Hawthorn, birch, juniper and hazel sticks make excellent kindling.  In the summer when the prunings have dried out, you can turn them into ‘pimps’.  These are small bundles, made up of a handful of sticks some 20cm long, tied tightly together with twine.  Pimps are a fantastic kindling hack and look really attractive stacked on the hearth.  Pine cones are another great form of kindling.  You can either use them as they are – let them dry out for a couple of weeks before use – or you can turn them into firelighters by adding wax to them.

How to make cone firelighters:

Collect pine cones and spread them on a sheet of tin foil on a baking tray.

Put them in the oven on a very low temperature (60-80 degrees C) for about an hour to dry out.

In a suitable container melt some wax – this could be old or broken candles, beeswax or candle making wax – whatever you have to hand.

For scented firelighters which will give your fire a wonderful aroma, use scented candle wax or

stir in ground cinnamon, cloves, and other spices into the melted wax.

Tie a wick to the dry cone and dip it in the melted wax. Set aside to dry.

Store until ready to use.

There are lots of other plant materials that can be used as tinder. Tinder is an easily combustible material that’s purpose is to ignite the thicker kindling. It consists of small shavings or shreds of material that will burn hot, quickly.  Dead, dry leaves, bark and flower stems such as lavender, rosemary, nettles and cow parsley make good tinder. Like the kindling, this should be collected and dried in covered and well-aired boxes.

Happy foraging!

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