About The Garden Smallholder


Welcome to The Garden Smallholder blog!

the garden smallholder

My name’s Karen and I’m the blog author. I’m a veg gardener, 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 fell totally in love with vegetable gardening and keeping chickens around 10 years ago while raising our young children, we had a lovely garden in Bristol and grew many crops in containers with great success. Our very first hens were ex battery chickens and our children helped with their care and needs, experiencing first hand the transformation from scruffy and scared birds to beautifully feathered, healthy and happy hens! 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. No air miles or nasty chemicals. Just us and the soil.

Living here in Bedfordshire I worked a full plot from scratch at our local allotments (April 2011 to October 2015), growing pollinator friendly flowers alongside vegetables and soft fruits. I enjoy community gardening, the allotment way of life and meeting like-minded people, but I felt it was time to let somebody else enjoy my plot while I concentrated on the kitchen garden at home. We have a large garden with fruit trees too, this is the view from the veg garden looking back towards the house:

the garden smallholder

Part of the veg garden, photographed May 2016:

veg garden

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 and gardening sparked during those early years, bringing home injured pigeons to nurture and forever hunting around for bugs and butterflies which fascinated me, and still do!


I hope you enjoy reading about our veg garden and life with our feathery friends, the blog has many years of information regarding growing your own and chicken keeping so please do use the search option if you’re looking for particular information.

© All images and written content are copyright of thegardensmallholder.wordpress.com unless otherwise stated. If you would like to contact me, please use the email below:



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

  2. 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…

  3. 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!

  4. 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 :)

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

  11. 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.

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