Every year around this time, I begin clearing the old and dying plants out of the garden to make way for new ones. The following is a little bush craft tip that some of you may find interesting.
Fire starting is one of the most essential elements for survival, and having good tinder is essential to making a good fire. My wife plants giant sunflowers in our garden most every year. These flowers grow upwards of nine feet tall, and branch out to create dozens of small sunflowers, at least in one particular variety. I try to allow these plants to die out as completely as I can so the bees, and birds can harvest as much nutrition from them as possible. This leaves dried out woody stalks with long, thick stems. When the stalks and stems turn brown, or even a bit before, I cut the stems off, and save the stalks to dry. When dry, I split them open to find a white spongy pith. This is quite easy to remove and looks a bit like long cigarette filters. I make sure they are completely dry, then I store them in a waterproof container to use as tinder. Once lit, it produces a slow burning coal that is actually hard to extinguish. It burns slow and so efficiently, that nothing but a whisp of black ash is left over.
I highly recommend this material to add to any good fire starting kit. I am always in search of materials to carry as tinder in the woods, and this is one of the better ones I have encountered. Happy trails, John.
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