Spring Time in the Woods

Exciting times, flowers aplenty and blue skies and sunny days at least now and then. We have been working hard on the growing spaces with carrots, onion sets, garlic and shallots planted. The Hugel mound has beans, beetroot and even lettuce growing. We have had one marauder visit ( a pheasant ? ) tuck in to some cabbage and broccoli.

The local school Ysgol Glan Y  Ferri – Ferryside primary school are visiting us next week to learn about charcoaling and to see the wild flowers in full bloom. Also great news from Mrs Howells, a teacher in the school. They are through to the last five in a competition  run by The Royal Forestry Society, Excellence in Forestry Schools Award competition ( http://www.rfs.org.uk/ ) The judges are coming to the school and visiting the woodland in late June. Congratulations!!

Some pictures of the wild flowers – Just got a handy reference book produced by the RSPB called  simply Wild Flowers A pocket guide to identifying over 400 wild flowers.

Early Purple Orchid

Early Purple Orchid

 

Dog Violet

Dog Violet

And the very British native Blue Bells evident where the last coppicing took place and throughout the glades in the wood.

Bluebells among brash in the coppice

Bluebells among brash in the coppice

Even common flowers like the dandelion give joy

Common dandelion

Common dandelion

Alternative name for the Anemone is “smell fox” because of its musty smell. Greek legend has this flower springing up where Aphrodite’s  tears fell as she wept over the death of her lover, Adonis. The plant is poisonous

Wood Anenome

Wood Anemone

Lady’s smock beloved of the Orange tip butterfly. It was once used as a food substitute for watercress. In folklore it was said to be sacred to the fairies, and so was unlucky if brought indoors.

Cuckoo Flower or Lady's smock

Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s smock

Cowslip

Cowslip

The celandine is one of the first Heralds of Spring

Celandine

Celandine

 

Campion

Campion

The willow hedge has been clipped and more branches tied in. An apple tree blossoms centred in its guild

Blossom with Guild and Hegge

and on the hill the small pond has burst into life with tadpole, water boatmen and fresh red leaves evident.

Liily pond

Liily pond

Posted in 2015 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Charcoal Making Course in Ferryside Woodland. 2nd and 3rd May.

PLEASE SHARE DETAILS ABOUT THIS COURSE ON YOUR OWN NETWORK. A BIG THANK YOU!

CHARCOAL MAKING IN A SUSTAINABLE WOODLAND

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VENUE: COED PANTEG WOODLAND OUTSIDE FERRYSIDE ON THE CARMARTHEN ROAD.

WHEN:  Saturday and Sunday the 2nd and 3rd May.  10 til 4 p.m (Subject to change if heavy rain is forecast)

You will learn all about small and medium scale charcoal making. The course will be hands on. You will be making a batch of charcoal over the two days. You will participate in the process from start to finish and hopefully go away with a bag of charcoal you have made.

We will be using oil drum kilns that can be cheaply made and used by anyone with access to a small amount of wood to charcoal.  We will also demonstrate the use of a larger 6’ Ring Kiln.

During the weekend you will learn all about the charcoal making process, the uses of charcoal, what wood to use and how to prepare it, bagging, using and market the product.

Over the course of the two days we hope to show you the coppiced woodland, appreciate the woodland ecology, view newly planted woods and see the various interesting projects ongoing at Coed Panteg

Refreshments will be provided but you will need a packed lunch on Saturday, on Sunday we will cook on our charcoal so bring something for a barbeque. You will need suitable strong clothing for working in the woodlands and in making charcoal, strong boots and gloves are essential.

You are welcome to camp in the woods or on the field in approved pitches. Toilet facilities are basic and there is no running water. Parking is limited on site.

A FEE OF £30 IS PAYABLE IN ADVANCE TO COVER OUR COSTS. PAYMENT SHOULD BE BY CHEQUE. PLACES ARE LIMITED SO BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL. APPLY TO MIKE EVANS, WOODLAND COOP LTD, 3 VICARAGE CLOSE, FERRYSIDE. SA17 5SU.  THE COURSE MAY BE RESCHEDULED TO A DIFFERENT WEEKEND IF HEAVY RAIN IS FORECAST FOR THAT WEEKEND.

(CONTACT by email– mikee@canolnet.plus.com.     Mobile: 07904313156.   You will receive course details and a location map on receipt of your application plus cheque. Please include your name and address with if possible email and phone contact details)

 

Posted in 2015 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Already 2015

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Rare event – ME smiling!

Already 2015 and not a blog post on line. Just invited Andy, Lucy, Mary and Martin to contribute posts- talk to me if you would like to contribute.

Coppicing weekend went well in February and March.A few pics from the two days. We got loads done and also had a cracking time- Spring/Summer is still a way off but the odd signs of change evident

Martin in good form apart from a twinge or two in his back. All better now!

Lunch break in the sun

Lunch break in the sun

Coppice area looks fine- lots of timber and the neatest brash piles in Wales.

Coppiced wood stack

Coppiced wood stack

Lastly my favourite tree – El Gigantico

Gigantico

 

 

Posted in 2015 | Leave a comment

Back on the land!

View up to latest coppice compartment

View up to latest coppice compartment

My first extended visit to Coed Panteg for some 4+ years was great. I finally met the ‘new’ members, helped tidy up the new coppice area, celebrated Martin’s birthday and attended my first AGM in a while… My last two days were spent exploring the changes that have happened on the land over the last few years – not least the ongoing hard work of managing the woodland and fencing projects. I enjoyed cooking on the fire and listening to the buzzards, owls, foxes and badgers(!?) at night. It certainly won’t be as long between my next visits.

Here is the link to my firends’ project in Devon. I’ll be getting in touch with them soon to arrange a long overdue visit to their land too…

http://www.bulworthyproject.org.uk/

My abode for the week

My abode for the week


It was great seeing how some of the original coppice compartments had developed. The woodland is much lighter and consequently more bio-diverse now. I heard woodpeckers this time which was a first for me!

Re-growth after coppicing in one of the previous years

Re-growth after coppicing in one of the previous years

I was particularly pleased to see how much the woodland that we planted nearly 10 years ago had survived and grown. Some of the trees were huge (tall and wide!). It was lovely to walk about them and feel that all the gruelling work planting them that freezing February had paid off.

Showing the growth width of one of the oak trees we planted

Showing the growth width of one of the oak trees we planted

Posted in April 2013 | 2 Comments

Ferryside VC Primary school visit Coed Panteg Woodland

Had to share some lovely letters and photographs from the Y5 and Y6 pupils of Ferryside School. They visited the woodland about a week ago accompanied by their teacher Mrs Howells and their assistant teacher. They behaved impeccably. Polite, courteous and always attentive. You can see what they thought about their visit by clicking Letter 1 and Letter2 :

Letter 1  and    Letter  2

and 4 photos

Ferryside Primary school pupils and Mrs Howells

Ferryside Primary school pupils and Mrs Howells

Measuring trees

Measuring trees

Quadrat time

Quadrat time

and one last one showing me really gripping everyone’s attention!

Rapt attention

Lovely to see you all. Till the next time

Posted in September 2014 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Mushrooming

Lucky enough to recently  entertain a group of Year 5 and year 6 children from Ferryside V.C Primary School  who visited our woodland for a science/environment lesson accompanied by their teacher and classroom assistant. A joy to share the delight of the children in the woodland. Magic moments like stopping still with closed eyes listening together to the sound of the birds or the sight of chiddren scoffing  raspberries and blackberries and even fresh pulled carrots.

We walked round the whole of the woodland and came across log piles covered in fungi. Anyone tell me what we saw? Love to know

Mushroom 1

Mushroom wonderland

Mushroom wonderland

Mushroom wonderland

Posted in September 2014 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

You tube video. Charcoal making in Coed Panteg

Menter Cwm Gwendraeth –

Charcoal Project

Thought you might like to see this short video about the charcoal making course held in Coed Panteg woods, filmed by the excellent Zero Carbon officer Paul Thomas. The course was led by Martin and every one who attended thoroughly enjoyed and learnt lots about the secret art of charcoal making. Thanks Martin. X

 

Posted in April 2013 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ace update

Apologies for the long silence – a thousand reasons not to write but all come back to  one cause- extreme laziness!

Casey is back for a few days and we recently paid a visit to the hillside to pick crops and survey progress. Ace is Casey’s poodle and he loved it as well!

Ace

Ace

The mound has continued to produce great crops this year. We have been able to water fairly regularly using the newly installed water cubes. Despite the warm dry weather most plants dug deep to access the stored moisture in amongst the logs.

Beans, beetroot, broccoli, tomatoes and onions in profusion. Strange how you always think you’re a great gardner when the weather is with you

Lucy's joy

Lucy’s joy

Beetroot

Beetroot

Greens

Greens

Booty!

Booty!

We have set more space for growing this Autumn by putting down black plastic. Carrots and parsnips seem to be growing away free from the dreaded carrot fly. I planted too thickly and in places pests got in and nibbled the seedling but we should get an Autumn crop.

Black Plastic

Carrots under fleece

Carrots under fleece

Further on up the hill birds are taking a lot of fruit. I’ve noticed a pair of blackbirds hard at work amongst the fruit bushes. We have lost all the black currants and some of the red. Most of the apples have been pecked in half and the crop is poor. I guess when you create a thriving eco system you expect all animals to prosper. Next year we will have to net the fruit and pick early and learn to share the bounty a bit more evenly.

Pecked not picked

Pecked not picked

The guilds are doing ok with comfrey and horse radish flourishing but we still need to restrain the grass.

Horse radish in a guild

Horse radish in a guild

We want to learn how to use hand scythes to tackle the grass. I feel a permaculture course coming on

Lucy’s growing experiment was a success, spare potatoes were planted in existing turf mounds and grew away. A tasty crop of small spuds- will do this again.

Lucy's spuds

Lucy’s spuds

Dear followers we are hoping to organise a work day on one Sunday every month. We will let you know if we have your email but I will post details on this blog and on “Ferryside – What’s on” on   facebook. We usually meet at about 10 and clear our most recent coppicing- usually there is wood to split and stack, brash to pile and paths to clear. Its usually a very social fun day with as much labour as you feel  comfortable to give. Email me if you want details- mikee@canolnet.plus.com

Cheers now

Posted in July 2014 | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Taking the lid off the kiln

Just got back from Coed Panteg. Went down with Lucy, Nicola ,Jim and Dave to open up the kiln and if possible bag up  charcoal.

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Open sesame. Looking good!

Charcoal lumpwood

Charcoal lumpwood

Although at first glance it looked good with about 50 % charcoal production on close examination there was a fair bit of unburnt partial charcoal. However we can use these bits in our next burn.

Brown and partial charcoal

Brown and partially burnt  charcoal

Bagging up

Bagging up

I’d spent the day making a charcoal sieving shute with the specified 20mm mesh. It worked ok and we collected a good number of bags due mainly  to the combined skills of Dave, Nicola and Jim. Memo to self- buy effective dust masks.

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We stapelled up the filled bags as they are destined for the Ferryside market and the Pont Yates market.

A local, product produced in sustainable woodlands – let’s hear it for Coed Panteg’s charcoal.

Posted in June 2014 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Charcoal making using the 6′ kiln

Second day of the course and Martin fired up the carefully stacked kiln. We retreat behind flimsy tape!

Lighting up

Lighting up

After a while the burn got going thanks to a pair of paraffin soaked trousers and dry kindling in the middle of the heap.

Smoking

Smoking

The smoke continued poring out and we ducked under to inspect the charcoal from the metal drums.

After a while the kiln was capped with fierce flames roaring and the chimneys put in place. Sand was poured round the lip and the chimney openings. The fire could be seen burning through the openings.

3 Chimneys

3 Chimneys

The chimneys were then moved on round every 2 hours for about 10 hours until hopefully all the wood logs had become charcoal.

Meanwhile the smoke continues to fill the woodland canopy. Strangely beautiful -I think

Strangely beautiful

Strangely beautiful

While we waited Martin took a walk round the top woods and Lucy took some folk onto our plot. A lengthy barbecue to follow using yesterdays charcoal. Always amazed by the ease of starting the barbecue- just a bit of crumpled news paper. Within 15 minutes the charcoal was white and very hot- perfect!

Barbecue time

Barbecue time

After about 8 hours Martin and I capped off the burn, removed the chimneys and made sure that no more air was being drawn into the kiln. Time for that shower and a cold beer- Good day with great people. Thanks to everyone especially Martin for putting on such a good show and to Paul (Zero Carbon ) for his support

Shut down

Shut down

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in June 2014 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment