As the nights get cooler it is a great time to make the most of the final long evenings by firing up your firepit or chiminea. You’ll also no doubt be thinking about all the different kinds of fuel you can burn. Choosing the right fuel can be confusing, and costly, but if you are a gardener you may be surprised just how useful all those falling leaves could be as a cheap source of fuel.
Producing your own fuel
There are a few things you should do when using garden waste as fuel. Green waste contains a lot of nitrogen and should be dried out as much as possible before burning. Drying transforms a large part of the nitrogen into carbon and results in a far more efficient burn and far less smoke.
If you’re pruning a tree, you can season the wood yourself. Buy or make a simple wood store, keep it dry, ensure good air circulation, and let the wood dry for between 6-9 months for timber, or a few months for larger branches.
There are a few types of wood that should never be burnt, so if you are unsure just Google it and check!
Also avoid driftwood. Although it’s an easy source of wood if you live by the coast, burning driftwood releases a lot of toxins into the air, and may even corrode the inside of your chiminea.
Reaping the benefits
- Fallen leaves – gather dry leaves up and then pack them loosely into a paper bag for the fire.
- Garden clippings – e.g. green woody shrubs, trimmings from the vegetable plot, twigs and green foliage. Put cuttings into a clear plastic bag and leave in the sun for a day or so, or spread out on a dry surface in the summer.
- Seasoned wood – large peices of timber should be stored out of the rain and left to dry. Wood ash is also great for the compost heap as it contains high levels of potassium, but only use a bit as its very alkali.
- If you have lots of thick, woody cuttings to get rid of, dry these for a short while before burning.
- For smaller bits of garden waste or household waste – you can buy log makers which will compress the waste into a handy log. See more about these handy log makers here.
In summary, you could do a lot worse than rely on the free fuel lying around in your garden: it’s free, eco-friendly and it can smell great, too. Not forgeting junk mail, boxes, and newspapers. You’ll not only discover a renewable source of fuel for your garden heater, you’ll also reduce your carbon footprint. Sounds like a win-win to me!