Let it Burn: Complete Allotment Clear Out

We unexpectedly had a car at our disposal today, as a friend was practicing driving. To kill two birds with one stone, I suggested that his practice drive take us to my allotment. I started off the day by buying some bulky supplies at Homebase, most notable of which — a 75L galvanised steel incinerator! The biggest in stock. I’ve never owned an incinerator, to be honest, nor have I ever used one.

But the mound of bramble waste from the initial allotment clearance hasn’t been getting any smaller. Still an eyesore right in the middle of the plot. Fortunately, the past few weeks have been rather dry, so the waste has mostly dried out. Instinct and a limited budget suggested that the best way to eliminate it now would be to burn it!

Stoking the flames

So on this freezing January day, we started a bonfire in the incinerator.

Handily, the previous allotment tenant had left a few wood starter blocks in the shed some 2 years ago. He even conveniently left a lighter that still worked! With all the ingredients for bonfire night, we began to stoke the flames.

Does it actually start?

The fire proved a bit hard to start at first. A light drizzle set in. Of course, after a really long dry spell, it was the perfect time to rain now. While we were starting a fire with lots of dry twigs. The air became heavy and moist — the top layer of green waste got damp too. Yikes.

Eventually, our sandwich packaging and some dry grass from the bottom of the mound caught fire. And voilà! My first bonfire on this allotment soared up in flames.

Burn… please.

I put the brambles in, one small pile at a time, but they proved quite tough to burn. They still had moisture inside, which bubbled up visibly through the stem ends. I had to reach deep into the pile to find the really dry stuff that hadn’t been rained on.

Let’s just say progress was really slow. The 75L incinerator, as big as it was, just wasn’t cutting it. We made a small dent in the green waste pile but clearly we’ll have to keep burning it for a while until all the brambles disappear. The sparks flying out of the incinerator were also a bit worrying, as they got caught and carried by the wind. There were plenty of other brambly patches on neighboring allotments where the sparks could catch, but the dampness contained them.

We ended the day with a good amount of ash to use as fertiliser. But sunset approached fast, and soon enough the fire had to be put out. I dumped a watering can full of water over the top to vanquish the fire completely.

Shed woes

Before leaving, I also tidied and organised the shed to prepare it for the busy period of spring. I added some plastic and metal shelving units to contain little pieces of string, seed trays, and other sundries. I removed all the rotten wooden shelves, all nibbled by woodlice, and cleared all the cobwebs. Most of my equipment and tools fit inside, but there’s still more work to do! A lick of new and bright paint is definitely in order for this old shed.

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