The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

And the winner of Maria Thun’s The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar 2010 is…

 

Photo: View from the bower July 2009

Photo: View from the bower July 2009

I’m so pleased that we ran this competition as there have been so many helpful hints and tips and I’ve learnt loads!

But the flip side is that it has been incredibly difficult to judge. If you didn’t win this time don’t despair – we are going to be running a competition twice a month for the foreseeable future. I’ve been looking for sponsors and have already found two for the month of February.

I totally agree with Carole who left the first comment. Don’t but cheap seed. I did this one year and the harvests were poor. I “saved” £20 but lost hundreds of pounds worth of vegetables.

Mandi’s suggestion is brilliant – I’ve looked into it and you can still get mini plugs for very reasonable prices from two jersey companies. Jersey Plants direct is selling 660 plants for £41.00 and Blooming Direct 560 plants for £59.00. Thanks Mandi – I’m definitely going to try this next year.

Petoskystone gives a wise tip – make your seed list and then cut it by a third. I wish I’d read this advice before I ordered my seeds this year!

Lesley’s tip about taking up seed offers in magazines is excellent as seeds can be really expensive.

Stephanie in AR’s suggestion of marking rows with plants instead of sticks is wonderful – it would make the vegetable garden look so pretty. I’m going to do this myself this year. Thank you.

Suky’s suggestion was a good one. See if your local garden centre has a place for recycled seed trays and pots. I’ve already tested it out and got a load of pots from my local Homebase. Hurray.

Rosemary’s suggestion tickled us. Reuse your loo rolls as plant pots for seeds and seedlings. A great green money saving recycling tip.

Homojoe gave me the nudge to invest in some potato containers as they give great yields. I also didn’t know that birds are not attracted by red lettuce – I put red Salad Bowl straight on my list. As I haven’t lain on the ground to observe my black currants I don’t know if this tip is true – but our blackcurrant harvest always seems to be disappointing so I’ll give this a try in the summer.

He went on to give a tip about beer traps for slugs. These have worked for me in the past. Incidentally they also like sour milk but so do the Min Pins.
I like the idea of getting together with the neighbours to tackle heavy tasks and bartering to borrow tools. Having inherited a lot of tools I tend to be the person lending them and I don’t mind at all.

I knew that Magic Cochin would come up with some good ideas. Yes this year I’ll be saving a lot more of my own seed – thanks for the nudge. I love the idea of seed swaps too. I don’t tend to buy much summer bedding and have a lot of scented geraniums in pots in the garden too. But I’m not nearly as inventive as MC so I’m going to rethink my pots this year. I hadn’t heard of the wise old saying “don’t sow in soil you wouldn’t be happy to sit you’re bare bum on” but that makes sense to me! Someone lent me a copy of Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Bookwhich is excellent – if Jane Grigson’s Fruit Book is as good as the veg book it’s definitely worth investing in.

MC is right to suggest not to be tempted by nifty tools and accessories – although I do love my garden accessories! Oh how I wish I’d heard her tip to match the right plant with the perfect location for that plant when I was designing my garden it would have saved so much frustration and tears. Even though I’ve been a member of the RHS for years I didn’t know about the annual seed offer – thank you!  And yes, I agree it’s so easy to get downhearted if a crop fails – my sweet corn has been a disaster for the last two years and it hurts!

LindaM came up with a canny way of getting even more mulch for your autumn garden by offering the neighbours a hand to clear theirs in return for the leaves. I filled over 30 sacks of leaves to make leaf mould this year from the garden as our cottage is surrounded by trees.
Thanks Barbara for suggesting joining the cottage garden society – I hadn’t heard of this. It’s worth joining even if it is just for the annual seed allocation. Thank you for a great idea.
I agree wholeheartedly with Jane. A good gardening magazine can be a godsend – even though you may already have the information in a book a magazine can present a different way of looking at things. The free seeds are handy too. I like the idea of using freecycle for plants and tools – hadn’t though of that!
And Choclette’s tip for growing Alberto’s Locoto chillie went down very well with me as it is on my seed list this year! Great recipe too – thanks.
Stephanie from AR came back to add the tip of growing a cherry tomato bush on the edge of the kitchen garden to distract small children. This also distracts tomato loving Danny too. Perhaps I should grow tomatoes in that sturdy cage!
Raenbow’s string and baton arrangement sounds good. We had a bit of trouble keeping our runner beans supported well last summer so I think that I’ll try this out. Thanks.
Brightsprite left an excellent tip – make homes for beneficial insects so that they will be attracted to settle in your garden and hoover up your pests.
Willo’s advice is sound too. Concentrate on growing things that you love rather than trying to grow everything.
I agree with Paula – rotating crops to confound the pests is vital. I love the idea of using leaves in the potato planters rather than compost – this would save so much money as compost can be quite pricey. Now that makes the hours raking up leaves worth it!
Homojoe returned to advise wearing clothes when making jam so as to avoid jam in the belly button! Remember to take a bag when climbing a tree to pick apples – this has happened to me! Label everything in your vegetable garden – I will be doing this myself this year as I had the embarrassment of not knowing some of the names of the veg I was growing last year when visitors came to the garden.
His advice for a working bee is a good one – invite competent people who will get things done and provide beer. Nice one.
Yes Brightsprite comfrey tea is a great tonic for plants. I put some in the kitchen garden in the Autumn when I worked out how much we were spending on fertilisers!
You are so right Barbara sometimes you can save money by buying plants – especially if you have a slug problem. I buy veg plants from wayside stands when I see them as generally they are grown by experienced gardeners.
And finally Cookie Girl came up with a super tip. Plant fruit bushes along with your veg – this will give you access to fruit throughout the summer for just pennies and they taste so good straight from the bush.
Judging this competition has been extremely difficult. Every tip has value and I want everyone to win. In fact by entering the competition you are building a unique resource to help everyone win in terms of getting the most out of their gardens. I’m sure that you’ll agree for quality and quantity of tips the winner has to be Homojoe. Send me your address HJ via the contact us tab and Maria Thun’s The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar 2010 will be winging its way to New Zealand.


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9 Comments

  1. Well done Homojoe
    it’s been great reading all the tips..great idea Fiona
    Jane

  2. Fantastic – a worthy winner and great fun.

  3. Cookie Girl

    Well done Homojoe – great tips !

  4. Rae Mond

    I have to say, Joe’s advice to remain clothed when making jam saved me from a potentially sticky situation yesterday. I usually wear an apron (a rather fetching Wweeney Todd, demon barder of fleet stret one with decorative bloodsplash design), which is enough to protect the aforementioned belly button, but the covering on my arms provded by my jumper came in handy when the maramalde i was boiling started to spit.

    So a worthy winner i reckon.

  5. Yay! That is so YAY! There was really only so long that I could be sensible for, and thought back to last summer when I was teaching my flatmate the basics. Yay! Book! Yay! Thanks for the vote of confidence 🙂

    Joe

  6. Well as a non-gardener, I have to say that when Joe came back with his second volley, I thought then that he would be hard to beat. And that was indeed the case. Well deserved, Joe.
    The two alternatives that caught my fancy were Rosemary’s biodegradable loo roll planters (I love any practical use for them) and Mandy’s superb commercial suggestion.
    I would love if Fiona could offer 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes but I guess that is up to the sponsors from now on. Still, for the sake of a few postage stamps, the extra goodwill should be worth it for them and it would make future compys more enjoyable, I think.
    Congrats again, Joe.

  7. brightsprite

    mmmm, or earlier on, I should say !!

  8. brightsprite

    Well Done Homojoe – I knew you would win – you had my vote ealier on !!!

  9. Congrats to Homojoe!

    It’s especially good to see all your favorite picks in one place! I like the toilet paper tube idea as well and started saving them up right away!

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