Burn­ing de­sire

Devon Life - - Gardens -

Woodsmoke, walks and gather­ing-in are the essence of Novem­ber – a month that flies by like the geese con­gre­gat­ing here for win­ter. The har­vest sea­son might be over, but the hedgerows still hold a trove of ripe, bloom-cov­ered sloes that when picked, pricked with a pin and steeped in gin make a lus­ciously warm­ing win­ter tonic.

There’s the au­tumn leaves that drift like wind-blown con­fetti on lawns and at the feet of fences to col­lect too. Gath­ered to­gether they turn into a rich and crumbly soil-im­prover that boosts the wa­ter-hold­ing ca­pac­ity of dry, sandysoils and en­cour­ages worms that aer­ate sticky clays.

Novem­ber is also the one month of the year you can have a bon­fire with­out feel­ing guilty, es­pe­cially use­ful if you’re giv­ing the gar­den a good prune or tidy­ing through for win­ter. Stack the wood for your fire next to where it will burn and then move it to your in­tended spot just be­fore light­ing to al­low hedge­hogs the chance to es­cape. Save any forked branch prun­ings as nat­u­ral toast­ing forks for marsh­mal­lows and tof­fee ap­ples sticks. Hazel is ideal as it’s long and sappy so doesn’t catch fire, as is ap­ple and cherry wood, but avoid poi­sonous labur­num. Use the ash as a feed for fruit trees – sprin­kling a trowel-full per me­tre over the roots. En­joy!

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