A New Home

ladybird in a bug box

I have some news to share – we’re moving house next week.

We’re staying in the village, upsizing to a lovely big family home. I will be sad to leave my vegetable garden behind but happy with the knowledge the new owners are looking forward to joining the ‘grow your own’ way of life.

Our new garden has the most beautiful Koi pond I’ve ever seen, complete with a small bridge. Stepping down the huge rock steps the garden is mostly a blank canvas of extensive lawn and established fruit trees. There’s a greenhouse but sadly no veg garden. Once I’ve had enough time to get to know my new garden I will think about how I could design a raised bed veg patch around the greenhouse, sleepers would look lovely. But for now my allotment will be my place to grow vegetables and get stuck into the growing year.

I will post again once we’re settled, so please bear with me!

Chicken Health · Chicken Keeping Tips

Caring for Chickens in Winter

Photo by Sue Presley
Photo by Sue Presley

Healthy chickens are quite hardy in normal winter weather conditions, here are some tips to help keep them happy in winter:

  • Combs and wattles are susceptible to frost bite damage during freezing weather, smear with Vaseline to prevent this from happening.
  • Pieces of carpet or an old duvet on top of the hen-house roof will stop heat escaping. Avoid covering ventilation holes and make sure ventilation is above head height. Remove before the onset of spring to avoid harbouring red mite.
  • Check drinkers regularly during very cold weather, they’re likely to freeze quickly.
  • Feed warm wet mash in the morning, this can be done by mixing layers mash with slightly cooled boiled water into suitable bowls. I use large ceramic dog bowls. Check the temperature with your finger before feeding!
  • Feed a little mixed corn as an afternoon treat just before shutting your hens up for the night. Corn provides a boost of energy to help keep them warm on a cold winters night.
  • Spread an extra thick layer of straw or bedding on the coop floor, make sure the coop is clear of droppings and watertight.
  • Add Life-Guard to the drinking water, it’s a tonic and vitamin boost for chickens which is helpful during cold weather and the moult.
  • Be extra vigilant with foxes. They’re likely to be hungry during difficult weather conditions making chickens more at risk than normal, even during the day.
Photo by Linda Grier
Photo by Linda Grier

Thank you to Ex Battery Hens forum members, Sue Presley and Linda Grier for kind permission to use their photos.


My Handmade Jewellery

handmade bracelet

Apart from my obvious love of kitchen gardening, occasionally I like to pull out my craft stash and play around with beads, metal and wire. I adore beads and wire wrapping but I also like to work with mixed media for my creations, from beautiful Czech glass beads to rustic pearls and gemstones, ceramics, polymer clay, chain, wood, fabrics and silk, paints and inks, buttons, vintage finds and my recent found love of Vintaj brass and copper metal work.

handmade bracelet

handmade vintaj necklace

I source beads and findings from artisan owned bead shops and directly from artisans from the UK and all over the world. I’m self-taught and really enjoying where my craft journey is taking me – although I haven’t had much time to make anything of late! Someday I would love to learn to make some of my own beads, I think polymer clay would be a great place to start but for now I shall stick to expressing myself through design.

bird nest earrings

handmade butterfly necklace

mixed media handmade bracelet

boho earrings

handmade bracelet

ceramic bead bracelet

Do you craft?


RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2013


Watch the birds visiting your garden or local park on the weekend of 26 – 27 January 2013 and submit your sightings (bird sighting form will be open from the birdwatch weekend until 15 February 2013) to the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I take part every year, it’s very easy and only takes an hour of your time! http://www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch/

Register to receive a free birdwatch pack full of tips:


You can also download and print out this handy bird ID sheet to help with your birdwatch:



My Vintage Sussex Trug

vintage sussex trug

I’ve been at it again, buying old bits and pieces, adding to my vintage gardening treasure trove. I bought this lovely old Sussex trug recently, using Christmas gift money given to me by my even lovelier Nan.

sussex trug

I’ve wanted an old Sussex trug, like, forever! I couldn’t think of anything better to spend the money on because every time I use it I will think of my beautiful Nan.

Thank you Nan and Julie at Ember Gate.

Book Reviews

Book Review -Tales from the Coop

Tales from the Coop by Sophie McCoy

Edited by Sophie Mccoy, Tales from the Coop: The Joy of Ex Battery Hens is a collection of stories, poems, photos and more by ordinary people who’ve already opened their hearts and coops to rescued battery hens. From chicken friendships and a hen’s love of treats, to the first moving glimpse of freedom from the battery cage. Tales from the Coop is a must for anyone considering adopting battery hens and those who already have. All profits from the sale of Tales from the Coop will go to the British Hen Welfare Trust and Little Hen Rescue.

I was thrilled to be asked by Sophie Mccoy to contribute my photographs to the book, regular readers of The Garden Smallholder blog may recognise the front and back cover photographs, along with a few photos within the book.
You can get your copy from the following sources:

Paperback or Kindle edition from Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B009LI6HJU

Paperback or Kindle edition from Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B009LI6HJU

All e-book formats: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/237806

Also available from Amazon.ca and all the European Amazon sites too. Plus the Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble stores.

Happy New Year 2013

Allium seed heads remind me of fireworks

Happy New Year, I hope 2013 is a better growing season for us all, with bumper harvests and long sunny days.