The Cottage Smallholder

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The Cottage Smallholder February gardening competition. The winner is…


Photo: Purple sprouting brocolli in the snow

Photo: Purple sprouting brocolli in the snow

As expected we’ve had some great entries for our February gardening competition. It was really difficult to choose just one winner. As I mentioned previously Erika from Lunar Organics is sponsoring this competition. The prize is one of the beautiful moon gardening calendars and explanatory booklet plus three packets of biodynamic seeds that the winner can choose from the Lunar Organics catalogue.

There were 26 entries for the February competition and Erika and I had a hard time selecting a winner as there were so many brilliant ideas. In fact I printed out the comments – 7 pages of them – so as to study them in depth.

I’ve started saving nets, following Cookie Girl’s tip as I plan to grow squash up poles this year – a friend of mine increased her harvest from 3 to 16 last summer, using this method. And Holly’s idea has inspired us to save our loo rolls too. Catrin’s rabbit proofing netting is an excellent idea and I love the though of using long twigs rather than bamboo canes for supports. Like Petoskyestone we are plagued with cats lurking in our front garden – waiting to pounce on wild birds so we were delighted to read Mandi’s comment about Roar. Danny is all set to make his mark at the front gate – thanks Paula.

Paula’s growlight is pretty impressive check it out on her blog here. Great idea using a shower curtain as a drip tray. The plastic decking will create perfect planters that will not rot. I hadn’t though of using cardboard as a mulch. Biochar fertiliser sounds fascinating another good use for urine! The apple growing tips are excellent and how clever to reuse olive oil tins as squirrel stops.

Rosie’s liquid sheep poo fertiliser sounds great. Jane’s mini cloches are a good idea too as they are so expensive in the shops. Like her I’m saving the plastic fruit and vegetable trays for extra seed trays but I wouldn’t thought of reusing plastic ties in the garden! Using Freecycle is a great tip too.

Like Tamar I grabbed a couple of French windows to make a giant cold frame but unlike Tamar I haven’t got around to making mine yet! Yes Linda I learnt to keep my seed packets dry the hard way. I loved Mrs Green’s video entries – the slug collars are inspirational and she also is reusing ties. Kate (uk) also has some great tips. I loved the uses for polystyrene – as an insulator and in big pots instead of stones. Double compost bags for potato bags, free cane toppers, hanging herb gardens in old tins, compost enhancer from rotten fruit and even a storage heater for the greenhouse made from a nightlight and a terracotta pot to name but a few.

Jenny Thane is recycling chimney pots and old carpet in her garden. She also uses the popular resource Freecycle. Su is sowing seeds in egg boxes (hooping that they will break down once planted and using loo rolls as root trainers. Gillian is using recycled egg shells as containers – really inventive and they look cute too she also uses crushed egg shells as a slug repelant. Ruthdigs uses a compost scoop complete with handle made out of an old plastic pint bottle with the end cut off – brilliant. She tips that polystyrene cups offer more insulation if you are sewing seeds in chilly months. See through plastic biscuit containers make great mini propagator tops. She makes cane toppers out of corks or snail shells. She also uses the polystyrene boxes that seedlings come instead of crocks in large pots. I was very interested in her spray to deter blackfly – water and garlic granules. I really like the idea of making a shed out of old doors.

Lucy has an entire shed made out of pallets – much stronger and more durable than feather boarding. She also suggests using them to make composters. Liz makes her sweet pea pots out of newspaper and stands them in a bigger pot for support.

Peter uses Benecol pots as cane toppers and with rubber bands as quick supports for netting – ingenious. He suggests old chimney pots as rhubarb forcers. Origami pots from newspapers are great as they can be planted straight into the ground. Peter also adds corrugated cardboard to his wormery and compost bin to stop it becoming too wet. He also suggested using tea bags as a plug for loo roll pots – a nifty idea as tea seems to be a such a good fertiliser.

Ruthdigs comes back using old video tapes as bird scarers and a great idea of cutting flaps in old plastic bottles which will spin inverted on bamboo canes. Scarer/eye protector in one. She has a natty suggestion for enclosed slug traps for organic gardeners and to protect other wild life and tips that Starbucks gives away coffee grounds which are great as a slug deterrent apparently. Ruth came back a third time with the lovely idea of a garden message board made out of an old slate. She haunts skips to find stuff to reuse – old library card filing cases now house her seeds in a perfect mouse proof container.

Mrs Pao has saved her christmas tree to make into twiggy supports and also saves dripping to make fat balls for the birds – we do this too! Polly’s entry was an ingenious use for those cardboard cylinders that posh whisky comes in at Christmas. Use them to plant carrots in this is a great idea if you have stony soil. She also reuses unwanted CDs and DVDs as bird scarers.

It was neck and neck between Paula, Kate (uk) and Ruthdigs, with highly commended to Mrs Green for her anti slug collars. As there can only be one winner we chose Ruthdigs for the most diverse range of thrifty tips. To claim your prize email me your choice of the three packs of Biodynamic seeds with your contact details and I will forward this to Erika.

Thank you everyone for entering the competition. We are building up a great knowledge base for gardeners all over the world. And thank you Erika for sponsoring this competition. I refer to your chart a lot and I will definitely be ordering one every year.

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  1. Oh cool! (as we say here in the states)

    I’m published!

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