Is this over the top(iary)?

We’ve divided our little smallholding into four distinct areas: formal garden, kitchen / cutting garden, woodland garden and playground and livestock paddocks. Whilst this is a working smallholding and I want to keep the property functional in that respect, we do have two small children and I want them to grow up in a large […]

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The seedling slaughter, or, death by over-ambition

I am known, amongst those of my close acquaintance, for occasionally over-reaching myself. I’ve always felt that if I’m going to hit a brick wall in any of my endeavours, I’ll do it at a run. Some of the time this attitude has served me well but horticulturally it’s becoming something of a problem. My […]

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Planting an edible boundary hedge

Our little smallholding is surrounded by very appropriate but rather ugly stock fencing. We needed something that would fit in well with the rural nature of our village, but that would keep our livestock safe (and, frankly, would keep other people’s dogs out). However, the stock fencing that was in existence when we moved in […]

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Sowing seeds with a toddler

Ever since my oldest son was born, I’ve always tried to interest him in the outdoor world. We go for walks whatever the weather, we look at trees and plants and birds and investigate animal holes and tracks and calls. We also mess about in the garden, and he’s joined me in the garden since […]

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Location, location, location

Chickenopolis has moved. That is to say, we’ve moved our tiny flock of hens from one paddock to another. I am actually rather astonished at all that we’ve done to our smallholding since moving in October. But there’s still so much more to come. It’s our intention to build up a kitchen garden and a […]

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Better beetroots – how to thin beetroot seedlings

Shamefully puny beetroots Last week I thought that I’d be enormously smug and plan a lovely afternoon of cooking with my toddler son. He’s always so happy when he’s perched on his tiny stepladder with his little apron on, cracking eggs or stirring things and tasting everything within reach. What could complete this middle class […]

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How to release ladybirds with a toddler

Ladybird in situ The day the aphids came back was a dark one. There they were, hordes of them swarming and pulsating all over my innocent strawberries and mint. I was beside myself in rage and frustration at their sheer numbers (previously I’ve always pulled aphids off by hand before their populations reach critical levels) […]

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