The Cottage Smallholder

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The Bloggies, biodynamic gardening and the latest Cottage Smallholder Competition


Photo: Biodynamic Planting Calendar 2010

Photo: Biodynamic Planting Calendar 2010

I spent a happy hour in bed this morning – nominating all my favourite blogs for the Bloggies 2010. This is the most prestigious annual blogging award in the world and it’s now in its tenth year. You need to nominate three blogs in each category that you choose so I made a list of the relevant URLs and pasted them in. Lots of fun and a good positive start to the day!

Then the postman finally delivered my prize for the next Cottage Smallholder competition. As you know I’m using biodynamic techniques in the garden this year, and The Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar 2010 by Maria and Matthais Thun is core to this system of gardening. In my haste to order a copy, I ordered two. So this is the prize for our first gardening competition of 2010.

Maria Thun has been practicing biodynamic farming for over 50 years and this calendar is the result of years of research and experience. There is also a handy pull out calendar for the garden shed. I have been reading as much I can on the Internet but there’s not a lot of information out there. There was an interesting experiment with tomato growing at Audley EndMagic Cochin visited the Elysia Biodynamic Garden and said that the vegetables were amazing. Chickens in The Road has a good post about planting by the moon here  – the comments are worth reading too.

I had thought that it would be only relevant to countries in the Northern Hemisphere but there is a chart enabling it to be converted all over the world. So if you live in the Southern Hemisphere you can enter!

To enter the competition just leave a comment below outlining your best gardening tip for saving time and or money. You may enter as many times as you like with as many tips as you like. I want to post the prize fairly quickly so the winner can take advantage of its advice regarding the best times for sowing seeds. So the competition will run for just eight days and close at midnight Sunday 17th of January and the calendar will be posted to the winner on Monday 18th of January.

I can’t wait to read your tips. Best of luck to everyone who enters.

  Leave a reply


  1. Being accident prone beyond belief, I have a set of tips especially designed to help those who are also accident prone, or were standing at the back of the queue when common sense was being handed out.

    – Always wear clothes when making jam. Taking 20 minutes out to run your bellybutton under cold water wastes a lot of preserve-making time.

    -When climbing to the top of the apple tree to retrieve the perfect apples, don’t forget to take the collecting bag with you. Also make sure any cats you own are inside.

    -If you are forgetful, make sure you label everything in your vegetable garden. Until I was about 20 I thought broccoli looked like carrots…

    -When leaving out beer for slugs, resist urge to ddrink said beer the next day. Having your stomach pumped is even more inconvenient than getting gooseberry jam out of your bellybutton.

    -If you have a working bee, make sure to invite vaguely competent people – not just those who just want photos for facebook. It takes mor energy to supervise ten people in their tasks than it does to do them on your own. But, with a bunch of great people you can get heaps done. Also, providing beer (sans slugs) is a great motivator.

    And there you have my should-be-obvious-but-every-single-one-is-based-on-my-experiences list of time and money savers!


  2. I have two:

    To keep down the insects and boost bee health, make sure you’re rotating your crops and that you have a good mix. Moving stuff around confounds the pests, and a multicrop planting rounds out bees diets and boosts their immunity.

    The second one I learned from my ex-neighbor, who was the most amazing organic gardener- he planted his seed potatoes at the bottom of the planter, and then as they grew he added leaves instead of soil- the leaves would mold right there in the planter and be easy to dig the mature potatoes, and he grew lovely potatoes. Then he had a very rich bed for the next vegetable crop.

  3. To maximize your enjoyment in your gardening endeavours while husbanding all your resources, pick an appropriate number of your very favourite fruit, vegetables flowers or fruits which suit your conditions and lavish your care and attention on those few rather than the many.

  4. brightsprite

    On the website about the Elysia Biodynamic Garden, they name the plants used for composting, and they haven’t used sorrel – I thought that was an excellent plant for composting!
    My suggestion would be to provide all the available ‘homes’ for beneficial insects, whether handmade or shop-bought, to provide your plot with natural predators.

  5. I always have trouble with my bean/pea supports falling down! Last year I made a frame by tying one peice of twine across 2 supports at either end, then using a baton of wood at the bottom, wound the string from the top support, round the bottom of the baton and then back up to the top, all the way to the end.Then bury the baton into the bed and it stays strong and sturdy even in the highest winds. You end up with a zigzag network of string, but it is pretty and beats tring to stand up falling over beans all summer!

  6. Stephanie in AR

    Another suggestion for those with small children – plant a cherry tomato plant on the edge of the garden, then they can help harvest without trampling the garden & in most seasons there will always be something for them to pick. Picking can keep small children busy long enough for quick garden checks or chores. Of course a good, sturdy, well anchored cage is very handy.

  7. Choclette

    We’ve been growing and selecting Alberto’s Locoto for a few years now – it’s a great chilli and particularly good for making chilli sauce as it’s quite large and fleshy. I posted a recipe for this recently –

  8. I agree, Jane.
    Not being a gardener myself, I was amazed at the voulme of useful info in all the comments. Every one of them makes perfect sense.
    It is going to be hard for Fiona to pick a winner. Maybe she will have to bring in an independent arbitrator. (quite likely, actually).

  9. One essential tip is to not over complicate things when gardening, forget all the fancy books and tv programmes and stick to good, sound information from long term gardeners. I also find that accessing a good blog/forum (such as this one!) helps to save time and money when needing more information or advices.

    Another tip is to stick to a good, basic gardening mags if you read them e.g Amateur Gardening as it is full of simple, common sense advice with ‘free’ seeds throughout the growing season.

    I also use Freecycle for plants/equipment. So far I been gifted cabbage plants, cucumber seeds, a fuschia, pond plants, globe artichokes, 2 stone planters to name a few.

    love reading all the tips.

  10. Join the Cottage Garden Society! It costs £9 per year in the UK (20euros/£14 in Europe, $20 in the US). For this you get 4 magazines a year, and can participate in its seed distribution. For £4 you can request up to 15 varieties of seed, mostly flowers but there are herb and vegetable seeds too. If you contribute enough varieties of seed you can request more. The magazine has articles on a lot of topics, including growing veg, keeping poultry, book reviews, flower growing, recipes, garden pests…
    I have been a member for about 18 months now, and am eagerly awaiting my first allocation of seeds. The list comes out in December, and last year it got mislaid in the pre-Christmas clear-up.

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