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saints de glace

Seeing the colors, the varieties and amazing selection of seed packages and seedling plants at nearby garden centers and supermarkets, who wouldn't want to start a little garden plot? Maybe you could just start with 3 pots to get the hang of it instead of planting in full ground. With Mother's Day this coming Sunday, 12 May 2024, a gift filled with a thoughful collection of seed packets, a tomato seedling, some potting soil, gardening gloves, and a garden tool would surely win you some points!

Some annuals are best seeded directly in the garden in spring whereas some can be nurtured in little starter plug pots and then transferred outdoors once the freezing temperatures have finished. Side note on this subject, known in French as Saint de Glace, here is an excerpt from the latest Know-it-all passport®:

saint de glace

As we have had some unpredictable weather in the last weeks, with one weekend reaching 27ºC then followed by freezing temperatures, one has to pay attention to these wise words from history: Avant St, Servais, point d'été. Après St. Servais, plus de gelée (Before St. Servais, no spring. After St. Servais, no more frost).

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We wrote an article about HOTBIN last year at this link. With a special discount for our readers at the end of the article, recycling food waste at home can be started by next week!

It's fast to produce compost in just 30 to 90 days.

  • 32 times faster than cold composting
  • works all year round
  • tidy and compact with a sealed base
  • no bad odors
  • no accelerators
  • no turning or tumbling
  • no plug in heat source

So how does it all work? Bacteria naturally populate your waste. They chomp down on your old peelings and pruning and generate heat at the same time. This heat is locked in by the thick insulating walls of HotBin. The hotter the heap becomes, the more efficient. HotBin works to break down your waste and generate rich garden compost.

Just throw in your chopped waste, mixed up with some shredded paper and wood chips, and sit back and let HotBin take the hard work out of composting. HotBin composting. Recycle more if you waste into rich homemade peat-free compost and watch your garden blossom.

Watch this 90-second video ⇩ and see how easy it is to compost at home with HOTBIN.

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Composting at home is one of the many ways people can focus on other activities while at home. If you have ever considered recycling food waste at home, this is a great time to start.

One product that is now available in Switzerland is Hotbin. Do you face the challenge of food waste disposal? HOTBIN is a solution to significantly reduce this waste and make a positive impact along the way – creating healthy soil for the gardens, promoting community recycling and gardening, taking steps individually and collectively for our environment.

“The first summer using the Hotbin has been great! It has helped us greatly reduce the amount of grass clippings that we take to the communal composting. We are also composting 100% of kitchen scraps in it as well. Best of all, it will provide us with a steady supply of nutrient rich, organic compost with which we will fertilize our vegetable garden and flower beds. We are happy that the Hotbin is saving us money and reducing the number of trips to the store to pick up garden fertilizer.” Don, Bern

hester Schilliger

Hester has kindly offered one lucky reader a copy of the book! Read below for competition.

Most everyone knows of Hester Macdonald. She not only voices her way into your life via the radio, but also runs her own garden design company HM Garden Design, as well as the Swiss Gardening School, and provides guided tours for the garden at the Château de Prangins. Mother of two, she is an empty-nester and is always on the lookout for a challenge. Is this her next baby? Gardens Schweiz/Suisse/Switzerland, a 52-page delight for the eyes, the senses, and the emotions is a must-have for anyone with a passion for the neat, the natural, and the unusual. The only thing missing would be the wonderful scents these gardens release... in the early morning, baking in the afternoon sun, or at rest at dusk. Switzerland has many of the world’s finest gardens. British garden expert Hester Macdonald features 52 of them in her new book. Gardens Schweiz/Suisse/Switzerland is the first multilingual guide to Swiss gardens to date.

We asked Hester to give us some background on this new venture and here is what she said:

What prompted you to do this book?
I'd visited lots of amazing gardens in Switzerland, I thought they were easily as good as many famous gardens I'd visited elsewhere in Europe, and thought it was time that Swiss gardens were recognised in their own right as a reason to visit Switzerland. I also wanted to to help them become better known for people living in and around Switzerland, who may not know that there was a gem of a garden, waiting to be discovered, right on their doorstep! I was introduced to Richard Harvell of Bergli Books, by Ian Smith at WRS, and Richard loved the idea of doing a book about Swiss gardens from the start.

Did you comb through every garden or were you invited?
I had already visited dozens of gardens, for my radio show Dig It, over the years, so I already had a significant number of great gardens I wanted to include. I then asked advice from colleagues, friends, other gardeners, in person, and via various FaceBook pages, as to which gardens they thought warranted a visit. I made a huge list, grouped by area, and tried to visit them all. Some were amazing, some were disappointing, and I also revisited gardens that I had liked previously. For some of the gardens, I went "officially", because I was going to interview the head gardener or the curator or creator, and for some of the gardens, I was just a member of the public, who asked some pretty specific questions!


Are you too busy with work to find the time to manage your garden? Do you need to tidy up and prepare your garden for the winter, but feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all – especially when you’d rather spend the time relaxing with your family? Or have you already decided you need a gardener, but just get fed up every time you arrange for someone to come and they never arrive on time, if at all!

Having worked in the region since the beginning of 2010, local gardener and handyman, Thomas Wilkins, knows only too well the problems faced by expats, trying to find a reliable gardener who not only understands what needs to be done, but who is prepared to take on some of the less glamorous gardening jobs such as plant removal and leaf clearance. As a former project manager and consultant within the construction industry, Tom is also aware of the importance of time management and completing projects on time.

Tom told knowitall.ch, “When I arrived in Switzerland I found that many expats were looking for a reliable and competent handyman or a knowledgeable gardening service. Most people wanted someone who would turn up when they said they would and do what had been discussed without communication problems or other proposals for work that they didn’t want. If a client wants more, then I am very happy to discuss how they may develop their garden to its full potential, and will provide a fair and competitive quote for the work that will meet with their expectations on quality and time delivery.”