About this blog

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Wales, United Kingdom
In autumn 2010, my husband Ian and I both quit our jobs, sold our house and left the flatlands of the east for the mountains of Wales. Our goal is to create a more self-sufficient lifestyle in a place we actually like living. Whilst Ian will continue to earn some money as a freelancer, my part of the project is to reduce how much we spend by growing and making as much of what we need as possible. The purpose of this blog is to keep friends updated with how the grand project is progressing, but all are welcome here. If you're not a friend already, well perhaps you might become one.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Home made firelighters and a rack to dry them on

After hacking back an unruly leylandii or ripping out brambles, it's nice to be able to put the bits to good use and, as it happens, both of these make excellent firelighters.

Bundles of bramble and coils of leylandii drying on the wheelbarrow

The trouble is, they take a long time to dry (which is why I make them in spring for use next winter) and they can't sit on the wheelbarrow for that long. I needed a better drying rack.

I went down to the workshop and hunted out the wire shelves that originally came from a cheap plastic greenhouse, before being used as store room shelves, which collapsed catastrophically a couple of years ago. I found three shelves - I thought there were more than that - and applied string.

Three-shelf drying rack hanging in the conservatory

So far so good, but that's almost full and I have more brambles. I found a piece of chicken wire that was last used as a bin for making leaf mould - completely ineffectively, as it was too small and all the leaves blew out. That was about twice the size of a shelf, so I cut in in half. It wasn't rigid enough for shelves, so I fetched some metal poles from the same old, cheap greenhouse, and wrapped the wire round them a bit before tying it all together with more string.

Five-shelf drying rack

That basket of dandelions doesn't really need to be on the rack, as the basket itself allows quite good air flow, but it might as well sit there until I've made more firelighters. Bundles of brambles are just as prickly as you'd expect them to be but once dry, they do go up well.


  1. Ooh handy. We've just got a wood burner installed and I'm constantly scrabbling round outside for kindling... I love the idea of burning bramble as we have heaps of the blinking stuff strewn all over the place. I have been burning the not really long enough hazel pea sticks I used last year, but I've all but exhausted that supply now... Also love that basket. Did you make it? Distinct dearth of baskets round here too.

    1. I love the idea of burning brambles for exactly the same reason. Their prickliness means I tend to use them only after I've run out of everything else, though.

      Yes, I made the basket at a class last year. I insisted that I did not want to make a log basket like everyone else; a flat, shallow basket would be much more useful. Note that what I ended up with is, essentially, a cut-down log basket with wide base, and it is indeed useful.


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