About The Garden Smallholder

Welcome to The Garden Smallholder blog.

My name’s Karen and I’m the blog author. I’m a veg gardener, allotmenteer, blogger and published photographer. I live in North Bedfordshire, UK with Rich and our teenage children. Most days are spent in wellies, pottering around our rural village garden tending to the vegetable garden and chickens.

bluebell hen

I also rent and tend a full plot at our local allotments (since April 2011), growing plenty of pollinator friendly flowers alongside vegetables and soft fruits. I’m a big fan of mason bees and help them to thrive and populate with my many bee boxes. I enjoy community gardening, the allotment way of life and meeting like-minded people.

allotment rhubarb

Born and raised in London I had no access to a garden of my own. As a child I enjoyed planting seeds and flowers with my mum on our tiny council flat balcony and helped my grandad tend his small rose patch at the front of his ground floor flat. It wasn’t really his to tend, but he kept it looking beautiful just the same. My interest in wildlife, nature and gardening sparked during those early years, bringing home injured pigeons to nurture and forever hunting around for ladybirds, caterpillars and butterflies which fascinated me. And still do!


I lived in Bristol for 10 years raising our young family, we had a lovely house with a decent-sized garden and I fell totally in love with vegetable gardening and keeping chickens during that time. In 2008 we exchanged city life for ‘The Good Life’ and moved to a small rural village in Bedfordshire. Here we love collecting fresh eggs and picking seasonal food from our garden smallholding and allotment.

No air miles or nasty chemicals. Just us and the soil.


If you would like to contact me, please use the email below.


Leave a comment


  1. capitalgardener

     /  July 9, 2012

    Your blog is inspiring – beautiful photographs and really informative, well written content. Thankyou!

  2. Karen

     /  July 9, 2012

    Thank you!

  3. Love your blog. I will be living vicariously through your industry :) Maybe one day I will get it together but for the moment I’m resting. Like you I used to live in London and had a gardening/garden design career for 17 years – hence a sore back and being worn out, it’s hard work isn’t it? So now I just potter and look and have embarked on this cow adventure…

  4. I love your blog.
    I have a small garden in Brtittany ( France ) but I lived in Northampton 3 years ago!

  5. Hi Karen – I just found your blog and feel both inspired and reassured. I’ve recently left the city for the countryside and now have my own patch to tame, so I’ll look forward to following all your expertise. Gorgeous photos!

  6. I’ve just found your blog today and it’s really inspiring! I am going to love catching up on all I’ve missed and following in 2013 :)

  7. Thank you very much for your lovely comment Anna!

  8. Thank you for your comments thinkingcowgirl, Notre petit jardin Breton and ascott9618. Apologies for not replying sooner!

  9. Just found your blog, lovely philosophy and I look forward to reading more as I try to acheive similar aims here in the Outer Hebrides. Thanks, Tracey

  10. feebie1956

     /  February 4, 2013

    Just discovered your blog and love it. We retired early to a rural spot in Cornwall last year and are just in the process of getting the veg plot going and planning on getting some rescue battery chickens soon. So I will be following your blog with great interest as I’m a newbie to all this, despite being brought up in rural Romney Marsh with chickens, horses and a veggie gardening nan. It’s taken more then 40 years to get back to it – but I’m very keen now!

  11. gavmomof2

     /  May 4, 2013

    Hello Karen! I just found your blog and Absolutely LOVE IT! I had no idea about Rescue Hens! Sweet Emily :) I learned something new – thanks! Looking forward to spending a little more time reading your blog this rainy weekend. Lost to learn about your neck of the woods.

  12. Hi Maria, many thanks for stopping by and for your great feedback!

  13. Hey Karen! Wow, your blog is so inspiring! I simply adore your lifestyle. At the moment I am living in a busy, fast pace urban area. I too would love to move in a rural area where I can find peace and serenity in the garden!

  14. Hi Vegansavy, many thanks for stopping by and for your lovely comment! I hope you find your peace and serenity soon.

  15. A very beautiful blog and an inspiring way to live. I hope one day to grow fruit and veg as delicious as yours.

  16. Thank you for your kind comment

  17. You have a great blog,it is nice to find a fellow Brit gardener. Your garden and allotment look great. I would love to have a bigger garden to be self sufficient…maybe one day.

  18. Many thanks Greenhousestarter! Where in the UK are you?

  19. Evening! I’m in St Helens, between Manchester and Liverpool. It’s not grim up North at the moment!

  20. Hi Karen, love the blog! No only do I share your first name but also your aspirations and sentiments : )

  21. HI Karen, I wanted to say that your photographs are beautiful. I often think what my life would be like if I could move away from the city and plant my own vegetables. I love that you live this life and I can live vicariously through you. Looking forward to reading your posts.

  22. Beautiful blog. Nicely done.

  23. Hi Karen,

    I’ve just nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award, just to say I think your blog is great :)


  24. Hi Jen,

    Many thanks for the award, and for your lovely comment regarding my blog.


  25. Just found you. Super blog. Congratulations!

  26. Many thanks Norman!

  27. Beautiful blog! Really enjoy reading it!

  28. Sarah

     /  February 17, 2014

    Wonderful blog, I look forward to reading about how you get on

  29. Beautiful pictures. I look forward to reading your blog as I am at the starting point of a similar journey.

  30. What a beautiful blog…and I love your way of life, it’s just perfect!

  31. Just found your blog.. i love it! We just bought our property to start our farm, so hopefully i can use some of your ideas for gardening in the next month! =)

  32. Hello aislingalpacafarm and thank you for your kind comment! Best of luck with your new farm :)

  33. Lovely blog – really like the photographs they are great.

  34. I am so happy that I found your blog. I look forward to following your progress and admiring your beautiful photographs!

  35. Thank you Sarah!

  36. Hola Karen.!!
    Bonitas fotos en tu blog de tu agradable y bonito huerto.
    Saludos desde España para ti y un fuerte abrazo para tu gallina. :)

  37. mademadera – Mi español no es muy bueno, gracias por tu comentario

  38. Really excellent blog, but you know that…Really admire the effort that goes into answering comments, and the beautiful photos of course. Today is the first time I had a real look through, will have to find some time somewhere to read more.

  39. Many thanks for your comment Marco!

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