Mill Cottage the home of Craftsteading
Mill Cottage

About Craftsteading

Save money, relax and find your creativity by making stuff out of plants. And even monetise your hobbies!
Craftsteading is about self-sufficiency, making things with your hands, lost trades and bushcraft. It’s about prepping for hard times or relaxing with mindful handcrafts.
We value traditional skills that are sometimes lost or forgotten, the very same methods your ancestors used.

What you’ll learn

When you join like-minded craftsteading fans, you’ll learn how to make useful, beautiful things to amaze your friends and family. Without spending much money!
Grow the materials in your own garden. It’s cheaper, more satisfying, sustainable and carbon negative!
Or forage in the wild for raw materials.
And if you’re not into gardening or foraging – no stress, you can buy craftsteading supplies right here.

Mini-brooms and gourds for craftsteading
Shuro palm fiber brooms and gourds.

Sally Gardens shows you how to use plants to make a wide range of beautiful and useful things, such as brooms, whisks, jewelry, bags, baskets, dyes, cordage, containers, soaps, lights, candles and more.

You can make containers from gourds, jewelry from seeds called Job’s tears, baskets from cattail bulrushes and brooms from sorghum.

Follow our blog to keep up to date.

What’s Craftsteading?

Craftsteading is for –
Gardeners and farmers
Makers and craftspeople
Cooks and chefs
Home brewers and broom makers
Survivalists and Permaculturists
Geeks and nerds
Weavers and spinners
People who love natural fibers
Back to basics and simple living enthusiasts
Woodworkers and Do It Yourselfers

Why You’ll Love Craftsteading

There is never been a better time to live sustainably, ethically, and self-sufficiently.

  • Enjoy mindful, traditional handicrafts
  • Learn calming, satisfying skills
  • Make your own beautiful & useful things
  • Grow your own household items
  • Find out how easy it is to be frugal and thrifty

You’ll find that making things with your hands is wonderfully relaxing, mindful and satisfying.

We craftsteading fans support artisans and try to be as independent as possible from mass-produced, manufactured items. We aim for sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Unique products

Craftsteading products are not uniform in appearance, because they’re hand-made. When you receive yours, they may vary slightly from the dimensions and colors shown in this store, but their uniqueness is what sets them apart from mass produced goods.

Basketry uses natural plant fibers that can be grown in a craftsteading garden

Our tagline

Because we love making beautiful and useful stuff out of plants, our craftsteading tagline is, “Use plants to make anything”. We agree that yes, this is a bit over-the-top, and it probably should be “Use plants to make almost anything,” but it’s not too far off the mark!
Plants have been used to make a mind-boggling array of things. Even airplanes!
People constructed the first airplanes from wood, linen (from flax plants), cotton (from cotton plants) and cellulose, a material that’s extracted from plant fibers.

Our tagline
Writing a tagline.

Happy making!
~ Andy and Sally Gardens


“Exciting classes”

Sally’s podcasts are great. Her blog posts are educational and lot of fun too, and you learn how to make something lovely with your own hands.



“Endless possibilities”

We are amazed with everything we’ve learned at Mill Cottage. Who would have guessed you can grow so many useful items in your home garden!



“Traditional crafts”

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make things the way our ancestors made them, instead of buying them in the shops.


Mill Cottage

Gourds are useful plants
Gourds drying under the window

We call our little workshop “Mill Cottage”. It is here, near a small coastal village in a pleasant, temperate climate, that we practice, teach and learn more about basketry, broom-making, woodworking and other creative crafts and “lost trades”.
We also installed a drying shed to store gourds and dried flowers and to hang natural plant fibers such as reeds, rushes, broom-corn, hazel rods, grapevines, Watsonia leaves, dogwood sticks etc.

At Mill Cottage, the home of Craftsteading, we love making beautiful and useful stuff out of plants. We grow fiber plants for weaving and basketry, dye plants, gourds and other plants with a wide range of uses.

We like to help other craftsteading fans by offering tools and supplies, and even finished products you don’t have time to make, or that you’d like to use as models or templates for your own creations.

Wondering about shipping times? Find out more here.

The dam, where grow bulrushes for weaving and other craftsteading activities
The dam at Mill Cottage, where we grow native rushes for weaving and plaiting.

Uses for plants

Many plants are edible or medicinal, and many can be used in other craftsteading applications.

Lavender is an ideal plant for craftsteading
Lavender is a useful plant.

From “Plants for a Future:

Other Uses

Plants also provide us with fibres for making cloth, rope, paper etc. There are numerous dyes obtained from plants with which to colour our fabrics. Many plants have oil-rich seeds and these oils can be extracted when they have a variety of uses. Many of them are edible and they can also be used as lubricants, fuel, for lighting, in paints and varnishes, as a wood preservative, waterproofing etc.The articles below highlight some of these uses.

Alternative Lighting: Plant Oils and Waxes
Fibre Plants
Soap Plants
Vegetable Oils

Building Materials

Insulation  Providing insulation against extremes of temperature, sound or electricity.
Pipes  For carrying water etc.
Pitch  Used for waterproofing, in paints etc.
Plaster  Used for covering walls.
Roofing  Used to give a waterproof roof to buildings. See also Thatching.
Thatching  Used for making thatched roofs.


Buttons  Plants that you can use as buttons. Not including making buttons from wood.
Darning ball 
Fibre  Used for making cloth, rope, paper etc.
Latex  A source of rubber.
Leather  Substitutes, that is.
Needles  Used for sewing, darning etc.
Pins  Used as needles and pins in sewing etc. Also used to lance boils, extract splinters from the skin etc.
Raffia  A substitute for that material.
Starch  Used as a fabric stiffener.
Stuffing  Used in making soft toys, mattresses, pillows etc.
Tannin  An astringent substance obtaied from plants, it is used medicinally, as a dye and mordant, stabilizer in pesticide etc.
Weaving  Items such as grass and palm leaves that are woven together for making mats, baskets etc. See also Basket making and Fibre.

Dyes, paints, inks and paper

Blotting paper  Plant that can be used to make blotting paper.
Dye  Plants that provide dyes.
Ink  Plants that can be used as an ink.
Mordant  Used for making a dye more permanent, it also affects the colour of the dye.
Paint  Plants used directly as a paint. Does not include oil plants and dyes that can be used as ingredients in paints.
Paper  Related to the entry for Fibre, these plants have been specifically mentioned for paper making.
Pencil  A couple of plants especially mentioned for making the tubes that pencil leads fit into.
Size  Used on materials, paper etc to give a surface that will take ink, dyes etc.


Compost  Plants used for activating compost heaps, providing biomass for composting, using as instant compost etc.
Fertilizer  Provides a concentrated solid plant food.
Green manure  Fast-growing plants that can be used to increase the fertility of the soil.
Liquid feed  Plants that can be used to make a liquid fertilizer.
Potash  Used for making glass, soap and as a fertilizer.

Fire and lighting

Alcohol  Used for fuel etc. (this is wood alcohol, it is not the sort that can be drunk.
Biomass  Provides a large quantity of plant material that can be converted into fuel etc.
Charcoal  Used for fuel, drawing, deodorant, filter, fertilizer etc.
Friction sticks  Used for starting fires when there are no matches.
Fuel  Usually wood, plant materials that have been mentioned as being a good fuel.
Kindling  Plant material that burns easily and can be used for starting fires.
Lighting  Plants that can be used as torches etc. See also Oil and Wax.
Oil  Vegetable oils have many uses, as lubricants, lighting, soap and paint making, waterproofing etc. This does not include the edible oils unless they are also mentioned as having other uses.
Tinder  Used for starting fires. See also Kindling.
Wax  Used for making candles etc.
Wick  Used as a wick for candles, lamps etc.

In the bathroom

Baby care  Various plants that can be used in place of items such as nappies.
Cleanser  For various materials. Perhaps best included under separate headings.
Cosmetic  Used to improve the physical appearance of a person.
Cotton wool  Plants that can be used as substitutes for cotton wool.
Deodorant  A pleasant smelling plant that is used on the body to mask the human smell.
Disinfectant  Plants used for disinfecting.
Essential  Essential oils that are used in perfumery, medicines, paint solvents, insect repellents etc.
Hair  Plants used as hair shampoos, tonics, to treat balding etc.
Resin  Used in perfumery, medicines, paints, soap making etc. This also includes turpentine, which is extracted from many resins and used as a preservative, water-proofer etc.
Soap  Plants used directly as a soap substitute.
Soap making  Plants used as an ingredient in making soaps. Does not include the essential oils, dyes and oils that are also used in making soap.
Teeth  Plants used to clean and care for the teeth.

In the Garden

Fencing  Plants that can be used for fencing.
Fire retardant  Plants that do not easily burn and can be used in barrier plantings to limit the spread of forest fires.
Hedge  Plants that can be grown as hedges.
Mulch  Used for covering the ground to conserve the nutrients in the soil.
Pioneer  Plants, usually trees and shrubs, that can be used to reforest land.
Plant breeding  Used in producing new species of plants or improved varieties.
Plant support  Usually bamboos, used as canes in the garden for holding up plants.
Rooting hormone  Substances that can be used to promote the production of roots in plant cuttings.
Rootstock  Plants used as the rootstock for grafting scions onto.
Shelterbelt  Wind resistant plants than can be grown to provide shelter in the garden etc.
Soil conditioner  Plants grown to improve the structure of the soil. See also Green manures.
Soil reclamation  Plants that can be grown in such circumstances an the spoil tips of mines in order to restore fertility.
Soil stabilization  Plants that can be grown in places such as sand dunes in order to prevent erosion by wind, water or other agents.
Companion  Companion planting is the careful placement of plants (especially vegetables and herbs) which have been shown to have beneficial effects on one another.
Fodder  Food given to the animals (including plants cut and carried to them) rather than forage for themselves.

In the home

Bedding  Used as a lining for sleeping on or putting fruits etc on.
Besom  A type of broom.
Brush  Used for cleaning clothes, as a paintbrush etc.
Incense  Aromatic plants that can be burnt to impart a pleasant smell, repel insects and disinfect closed areas.
Lining  Used for lining boxes, baskets etc so that fragile items can be more safely carried in them.
Packing  Used as a filler in boxes etc in order to protect the contents.
Pot-pourri  Aromatic plants used to impart a pleasant smell to an area. Can this be grouped with incense or essential oil?
Scourer  Used for cleaning pots, pans, plates etc.
Strewing  Plants, usually aromatic, that are strewn on the floor to give a nice smell, repel insects etc.
String  Plants that can be used for string or can be easily made into a string. See also Fibre. Plants for ropes may be included.
Cut flowers  Cut flowers are flowers or flower buds (often with some stem and leaf) for decorative use.
Houseplant  A plant grown indoors for decorative purposes.

In the kitchen

Bottles  Plants that can be used as bottles.
Containers  Plants, such as gourds, that can be used as containers. Does not include baskets or containers made from wood.
Cork  Including any plants used as a cork substitute. Cork is used for insulation (sound or heat), fire-retardant, bottle stops etc.
Filter  Used to strain out particles from liquids.
Fruit ripening  Substances that promote the premature or rapid ripening of fruits.
Gum  Gums have a wide range of uses, especially as stabilizers, emulsifiers, thickening agents, adhesives etc.
Pectin  A substance that is used to thicken jams etc and as a culture medium in laboratories.
Straw  For drinking with.
Waxed paper  Substitutes that is.

Other Uses

Broom  Used for sweeping the floor etc.
Litmus  Used for testing whether a substance is acid or alkaline.
Miscellany  A rag-bag of items that are difficult to categorise.
Musical  Specific mention of plants used as musical instruments. Does not include the various woods that can be used for making musical instruments.
Pollution  Plants used to combat pollution.
Repellent  Plants that are said to deter but not necessarily kill various mammals, birds, insects etc.
Weather forecasting  A few plants that are supposed to help us forecast the weather.
Weather protection  Plants that can be used to give the body protection from severe weather.


Fungicide  Arrests the growth of, or kills, fungi.
Herbicide  Plants or plant extracts that can inhibit the growth of other plants.
Insecticide  Kills insects.
Parasiticide  Kills external body parasites such as hair lice.

Woodwork and other crafts

Adhesive  Glues.
Basketry  Plant used in making baskets and other items such as chairs. Includes plants that are only used as an ornamental addition.
Beads  Used as necklaces etc.
Furniture  A few miscellaneous uses that do not fit easily into other headings.
Lacquer  A type of varnish.
Nails  A few woods are tough enough to be used in place of metal nails in certain circumstances.
Polish  Plants used to give a shine to metals, wood etc.
Preservative  For food, or for treating wood, ropes etc.
Rust  Plants that can be used to prevent or treat rust.
Sandpaper  Plants used to smooth rough wooden surfaces by means of abrasion.
Varnish  Plants that can be used as a varnish without any special treatment. Does not include varnishes made from oils etc.
Waterproofing  Does what it says. See also Pitch and Oil.
Wood  A list of the trees and shrubs that are noted for having useful wood.

Find out more about useful craftsteading plants at Plants for a Future.