The Cottage Smallholder

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The Cottage Smallholder February gardening competition

Photo: Snow in the garden

Photo: Snow in the garden

It’s competition time again at Cottage Smallholder. I really enjoy running these competitions as I’m picking up so many tips from around the world. I’ve been looking for sponsors and have two lined up already – this is great as they will help with the judging and of course the prizes are much more deluxe than the rather humble prizes that we’ve offered before.

As I mentioned yesterday, Erika from Lunar Organics is sponsoring this competition. The prize is a beautiful moon gardening calendar and explanatory booklet plus three packets of biodynamic seeds that the winner can choose from the Lunar Organics online catalogue.

And what to you have to do to win this prize? Erika came up with these suggestions. The first is how to re-use /recycle things to get ready for the new growing season. For example Erika makes labels using old pieces of wood for big labels or cuts up white plastic containers for seedlings, instead of buying new. The second theme is how to protect plants from birds, rabbits, mice, squirrels, rats or any pest in your neck of the woods. Erika mentioned that rags soaked in vinegar would deter rabbits as they hate the smell of it.

Anyone can enter as many times as they like. You can post entries for just one theme or both. The competition will close on Sunday 7th February at midnight. If you have won a Cottage Smallholder competition in the past six months you can enter but you won’t be eligible to win – this gives everyone a fairer chance.

Best of luck everyone. I’m really looking forward to reading the entries!

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  1. I hang unwanted free CDs as bird scarers around the veg patch. They catch the light, so flash and glint and send the pesky pigeons packing.

    But I’ve eventually found a use for those cardboard cylinders that Scotch bottles come in. Make a few holes near the bottom with a skewer, fill with John Innes, and plant carrots. Very useful on flinty soil. If anyone else has other suggestion, I’d be pleased to hear – supply is outstripping demand at the moment!

  2. I’ve saved our Christmas tree to cut up into twiggy bits to grow peas and beans up.

    Also, saving dripping to make fat balls for birds.

  3. Ruthdigs

    Sorry to be here 2x in a row but I forgot to include a recycle tip earlier. Hang an old roof slate up in your shed/on the ouside and it makes a great looking chalkboard for a ‘things to do’ or planning guide or reminder which seeds to buy etc. Can also be used in the kitchen as a message board / shopping list etc etc. I think they look lovely too being a natural product.
    Old row of coat hooks – school type ones (rescued mine from going in a skip) to be reused to hang tools up on.
    It’s always worth keeping an eye out if there’s any refurbishment going on around you. Lots of things establishments throw out in favour of shiny new things I think are actually a lot nicer, better made and have more charm and character. If you ask most places don’t mind you helping yourself to skip contents.
    I have reused some metal library card file boxes for my seeds – I can sort them by month to be sown and being metal no rodents are munching on them.

  4. Ruthdigs

    Recycled bird scarers: (We have many a fat pigeon at my plot!) Tie lengths of your old VHS tapes to a line and string over your patch, the tape rustles and moves in the wind. Also cut plastic shopping bags into lengths for the same thing or use that red and white builders tape that gets left tied to trees etc.
    Another recycled scarer: cut flaps into the side of plastic bottles and bend them out to catch the wind. Place inverted bottle on top of a cane so it can spin freely and rattle.
    Reuse / slug trap: Again with plastic bottles, this is a way for organic gardeners to use slug pellets safely without scattering them on the ground and potentially poisoning other birds/animals too. Cut a sideways H into the side of the bottle an inch or so from the base. Bend the flaps inward. Weight the bottom with a stone and place slug pellets inside. Place round garden/plot. Slugs can get in and eat the pellets and die but pellets aren’t on your soil going into the food chain. Also good if you’re concerned about friendly beasties like stag beetles drowning in beer traps.
    Coffee grounds as a slug deterrant/barrier. Starbucks give them away free if you ask.

    I don’t drink tea but I like the idea of using the bags as plugs, think I will put a collection box in my work kitchen. Already get the coffee grounds saved. 😀

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