Sunday 26 February 2023

Fixing a Gap In A Hedge - Part One - Basic Hedge Laying

 So, we've had a very stressful week and I've not been on the smallholding much, but I put this video together the beginning of the week before and I I thought I'd still share it with you all. 

Down by the duck pen there is a huge gap in one of the hedges. It bothers me every time I walk past it. After spending a few days hedging laying the week before I thought I'd tackle it. In doing so it should give me (some of) the materials for my larger stretch of hedge to be laid later. 

Friday 24 February 2023

Planting 300 Willows In A Morning

 Trees amaze me

 I work with wood every day and yet there's not a day when I'm not amazed by them.

I try to make sure I plant more than I cut down and I managed to tip the balance again on this the other day at my dad and brothers. 

They're building a new set of barns and had created a bund behind it to shield the buildings from the neighbours view. This bund is the very typical red clay soil that we have on their farm. It takes a while for trees and stuff to establish but then it romps away once it gets its roots down. 

So my brothers idea was to plant it up with willow and maybe undertow it with something else to prevent the weeds (nettles, docks and fat hen) from establishing. When I thinned out my section of hybrid willow here. 

I've no idea how many we planted but it must be about 300. Watch the shirt video above to see how we got on. 

Like having lots of willow growing? 

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Short Rotation Willow Coppice - Managing Growth

So I had one more job to do on my willow coppice and that was to manage the growth that came back from last years cut. 

 Each stool had put up loads of shoots, which might be ideal depending on what you're after. But as I want to grow this for firewood I'd rather have a few good stems where the growth could be directed to. 

So in this video I show what I'm taking off each plant to grow on, there are a few risks involved (rabbits or deer could eat the remaining shoots) but hopefully this will direct the tree to grow a lot stronger and have larger firewood for me to burn in a few years time. 

Watch the video and let me know what you think. 

Sunday 19 February 2023

Apple Tree Pruning An 11 Year Old Tree

I've done another apple tree pruning video, this time it's a 11 year old tree which needed quite a bit of growth off it. 

I've filmed it in pretty much real time but it shows the process I go through to tackle a tree like this. 


Please let me know what you think (comments on YouTube would be even better as it helps other people find my videos)! 

Friday 17 February 2023

Seedswap 2023

This post is a little late, as the seed swap was the weekend before last, but I've been busy (as always)! 

It was a great day again. 

There's something about a seed swap that's hard to describe. Someone said to a member of the team that she found the vent "nourishing" and I think that really sums it up. 

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Learning Hedge Laying

 Last week I had a couple of perfect winter days. 

I do some work for a friend on a casual basis as he has a number of properties and they all need things doing to them on occasion (sash cords, floors, kitchens, etc), and he has a man who does much of the outside maintenance work on the estate. 

His name is Steve and he works on lots of farms and small holdings locally, he does some great work and one that always stands out is his hedge laying. I always chat to him if we're working on the estate at the same time, he's a smallholder as well so we share similar interests. 

Monday 13 February 2023

Kolrosing Article - Woodcarving Magazine

I'm quite excited by my latest article series, this is a two part one really which details kolrosing. A type of wood tattooing. 

In this article I show how to make a simple kolrosing knife and then how to decorate a spatula using it (you stain the cuts with coffee grounds). 

Saturday 11 February 2023

Young Apple Tree Pruning

I've managed to prune all the apple trees here. 

I've still got my mums to do and need to tidy up the branches from mine. 

It's a job I look forward to every year, I love watching them develop over time. This year I've done a few videos showing how I approach pruning them and the speed I can get them done. 

The first video shows some young trees in the coppice, from trees I grafted myself. They're coming on nicely and have established themselves. A few needed straightening up a bit as well. 

I have a another few videos ready to go with some older trees I need to prune out. I'll probably follow the same format and just film some examples rather than talk too much about the job as a whole. Practice is what makes this job better. 

Let me know what you think of the video!

How do you tackle your apple trees?

Thursday 9 February 2023

Future Talk Dates

I have a good number of talks booked up for the coming year so I thought I'd share on here where and when they are. 

Normally you can go to a garden club you're not a member of and pay a visitors fee, but it is best to email the garden club directly to check first! 

I've added this as a tab below my header, I'll try to keep that page updated as I get more bookings. 


25th Jan - Malvern Garden Club - Unusual Fruit and Veg I

8th Feb- Blakeney Garden Club - Preserving the Harvest

16th Feb - Southam - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

8th March - St. Michaels - Tenbury Gardeners - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

13th March - Bishops Cleeve Gardening Group - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

6th April - Dymock diggers - Preserving The Harvest

10th April - Llanthony - Preserving The Harvest

15th April - Worcester black pear gardening club - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

19th April - Gothering - A Talk About Our Homestead & How We Got Here

20th April - Kington - Preserving The Harvest

1st May - Colwall - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

17th May - Winchcomb - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

31st May - Little Thorne - Unusual Fruit And Veg II

8th June - Alderton - Preserving The Harvest

10th June - Hellen's Garden Festival - Q&A Session

27th June - Hereford Fuchsia Society - Unusual Fruit And Veg I

18th July - Leominster - University of the Third Age - A Talk About Our Homestead & How We Got Here

12th September - Slimbridge - Preserving The Harvest

15th September - Lower wye Valley - Unusual Fruit and Veg

21st September - Newent - Preserving The Harvest

27th September - Severnside cottage gardening society - Unusual Fruit And Veg II

10th October - May Hill garden club - Preserving the Harvest

8th November - Wellington Heath Garden club - Preserving The Harvest

13th December - Bourton Vale Horticultural Society - Preserving The Harvest


16th January - Stoke Lacy Garden club - Unusual Fruit and Veg I

I'll try and add in dates as they get booked. 

Let me know if you're coming to any of them! I wonder if I should do some courses here as well at some point  in the future, let me know what you'd like a course on (that you think I could teach). 

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Planting In Early February

 It was our annual seed swap on Saturday and it was as brilliant as ever (I'll do a post on it later in the week), one thing it did was get me really fired up for this years growing! 

I was so fired up I even stopped on the way home and got some compost. I decided that with Sunday being quite warm and sunny for a February day it was ideal to sow a few things and get started. 

Sunday 5 February 2023

Short Rotation Willow Coppice - Year 8 & 9

So I started my adventures with willow in 2014. The idea was to start to produce a bit of our own firewood in a sustainable way. 

I did the first proper cut of it last year (2022) and had some good results. This year I decided to film it all and show the work involved. 

It didn't take long to chop it down and log it, then I got the children to help to move it the day afterwards. A nice job for a warm and dry winters day. 

I'd say we got a builders bag full of wood, maybe a bit more. This was from about 30 trees spaced at 1m apart. 

I'm looking forward to managing this in the coming years, it seems like an incredible renewable resource. Hopefully it'll produce even more as time goes on and the roots get established. 

Watch the video and let me know what you think - do you think it's worth it?

Do you grow and manage any wood for firewood with coppicing or pollarding?

Friday 3 February 2023

Latest Woodturning Magazine Article - Taglatelle roller

I saw a rolling pin like this while we were visiting a manor house in the summer, on holiday in Wales.

When I saw it I just knew I had to make one and thought it would make an interesting article.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Hereford Seed Swap This Weekend!

So it's the annual Hereford Seed Swap this weekend. 

I look forward to this every year, it's always such a fun event filled with likeminded people. I'll be behind the tables with the rest of the volunteers, giving out advice and trying to sort out seeds as they're handed in. 

 It really is incredible and you could easily get your whole years worth of seeds from this event! 

I'm sure the talk is going to be good as well, I've met Liz and she's lovely, really knows her subject well (her book is great). 

If you go make sure you say hello to me! I'll be easy to spot - pockets filled with seed packets and talking non stop about growing! 

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