Archive for January, 2013

Charcoal Burn – Truro

January 28, 2013

Overlooking the Helford Passage is a beautiful woodland project with established deciduous woodland and new plantings of over 5,000 trees. Amazing! The managers of the site invited me down to do a charcoal burn with lots of overgrown hazel they had cut the previous Winter. With a fantastic view over the river we loaded the portable kilns and began the burn.Image


Each burn is different with its own problems and challenges (I think thats why I love charcoal burning so much :-)) and this was no exception with a lid collapse near the end and the ignition of gasses. However, all was under control quickly and the kilns were damped down and starved of oxygen. Thank God for experience!


In the end we got a good 70kg of charcoal from the kilns which I’ll be selling in the Summer season.

Thanks to Hilary and all the crew at Malpas nr Truro.

If you are interested in ordering charcoal or learning to make it yourself then please contact me at


Ash Coppice Dilemma

January 28, 2013

Apart from charcoal burning and educational activities much of this Winter has been reclaiming neglected and overgrown coppice at Plan-It Earth Environmental Project.


Due to a land ownership dispute the ash coppice was allowed to be completely over-run with brambles and as you can see they had ‘scaffolded’ on the lower branches of the ash to grow over 12′ high!! Nightmare. The only way to deal with them without damaging the trees was to get in there with a billhook and clear it all tree by tree.

After a lot of hard work, a couple of pairs of gauntlets and a few scratches a lovely clean ash coppice is revealed.


THe spacings are slightly wider than I would have liked, but after some pruning the trees look remarkably healthy 8 years old and ready for their first cut.

However (and here is the dilemma), with Chalara Fraxinea (Ash Dieback) doing so much damage, particularly in newly coppiced stools, do I cut them? Or should I leave it a few years and see what happens?