The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


2012 New Year’s visit to the allotment: January update

Posted in Allotment, Vegetables | 8 comments

2012 New Year’s visit to the allotment: January update

I was very busy before Christmas stocking The Cottage Smallholder shop and making up orders, so I didn’t have time to go to the allotment regularly. In fact I probably haven’t been up there for a couple of months. We’d planned to go down for some Christmas veg but in the end ran out of time. I had also found fleece to make cloches to protect the more tender salad crops. This mighty plan had fallen by the wayside too. We keep on promising each other that we would pop down at the weekend but Danny’s armchair football passion...

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Allotment update: All Hallows Eve

Posted in Allotment, Save Money, Vegetables | 7 comments

Allotment update: All Hallows Eve

Our allotment neighbour, Mark, has grown a giant pumpkin on his site and lots of little pumpkins and squash. I reckoned that his kids would be carving the monster pumpkin but this evening it was still lying on the ground looking like a vast, beached Humpty Dumpty. The allotment below us has tomatoes and plump red pepper ready to harvest for the past few weeks – they are just rotting on the plants. I must admit that I’ve been eyeing this bounty. Danny is severe, “Even if they are clearly just going to rot, you can’t take them. It’s...

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How to design your allotment layout

Posted in Allotment | 5 comments

How to design your allotment layout

Apart from areas for growing fruit, vegetables and possibly flowers, every allotment needs to house some basics. A shed or some sort of shelter for when it rains, a composting area, a place to store tools and an area to relax and rest. Our challenge is to grow enough fruit and veg to easily feed us, my mum and friends that would welcome an occasional basket of fresh organic produce. Our plot is large enough to experiment with growing a wide range of edible plants and pass on our findings to you. Every one’s needs are different when it comes...

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We are now the proud owners of a Kelly Kettle

Posted in Allotment, Reviews, Save Money | 14 comments

We are now the proud owners of a Kelly Kettle

Suddenly at the Milton Keynes get together, Jean and Roy (aka Gottaknit and Seth) stepped forward and offered me a large mysterious object – wrapped in a dustbin liner with a very tight knot. “Here is a late birthday present Fiona. You’ll need this on the allotment!” The package was bulky. As I struggled to open the parcel I wondered what was inside. I could feel cardboard and something hard. Could it be metal? Some sort of feeder? Imagine my delight when I finally peeped inside the box and found a Kelly Kettle lying on a nest of twigs...

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Roasted Echalion shallots recipe.

Posted in Allotment, Vegetables | 10 comments

Roasted Echalion shallots recipe.

I bought some rather swanky British shallots from Tesco yesterday. Hoping that I could plant them to over winter on the allotment. The were Tesco Finest Echalion shallots – the ones preferred by top chefs and foodie the world over. They are sometimes called banana shallots as they are long rather than round. The sets for slim, longer shallots are very expensive to buy compare to the round to the cottage. So I took a chance and bought 2 packs for 2 quid and chortled my way back home. I brief search on the Internet told me that round shallots...

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How to harvest and store walnuts and cobnuts

Posted in Allotment, Hedgerow food, Save Money, Vegetarian | 5 comments

How to harvest and store walnuts and cobnuts

“I’m going down to collect some walnuts. Apparently there are masses under the trees.” “Is it OK to pick them up from the ground?” “Yes. I used to collect them on the big estate when I was working there. They used to call me down from my ladder to gather them so that they could mow. The shells mucked up the mower.” We were sitting at the top of our allotment. On two ancient chairs that we inherited with the plot. We spend quite a bit of time perched on these. Looking down the hill and on to the flat area on the other side of the...

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Choosing and cultivating the best autumn raspberries

Posted in Allotment, Fruit | 13 comments

Choosing and cultivating the best autumn raspberries

I’m a raspberry lover. When the dessert trolley rolls up in a restaurant I ignore the profiteroles and sticky meringues and go for raspberries sprinkled ideally with a little vanilla sugar. My passion for raspberries has led me astray recently. Our allotment site in Newmarket is a raspberry lovers haven. There is a narrow path that’s a shortcut to our plot. Here bushes laden with fruit tempt me. These bushes are so fructulent that the branches stray across the path – waving, tempting and teasing. I have to admit that I have snaffled on...

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Allotment update: six weeks on

Posted in Allotment, General care | 11 comments

“You look so happy.” Danny said. We were resting from digging on plot 90B. The wind was warm. And yes I was happy. We were out and working together on our new project. An allotment, five miles from home, that feels like paradise. I’m finding it very hard to tear myself away from our allotment. There’s a lot of work to be done – preparing the ground and working out a rough layout. For the time being we’re going for long borders that are roughly 6’ wide, separated by grass paths. But it’s not the work that makes me happy –...

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