The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Update on our Bosch Rotak lawnmower and why it was left out all winter

Posted in General care | 6 comments

Update on our Bosch Rotak lawnmower and why it was left out all winter

“I’m going to get dressed and mow the lawns today. I just hope that the mower will work as it has been out all winter.” “What! Why?” spluttered Danny. “I did tie on a bin liner to protect the electrical bits.” This strange action needs an explanation – I have been treated for depression for about four years now. This doesn’t mean that I sit in the corner weeping, in fact I always think of myself as a happy person. The depression manifests itself in an extremely debilitating way. I find it very hard to do certain tasks. I...

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Out in the garden again. Preparing, polishing, fertilising and dreaming.

Posted in Gardening, General care | 4 comments

Out in the garden again. Preparing, polishing, fertilising and dreaming.

Over the past day or so I’ve spent a few hours making a start on the garden here at the cottage. There’s so much to do! But I’m not panicking about that – just focusing on each job in hand. I love this time of year – heavy with the promise of things to come and the summer to look forward to. There are always surprises too. Plants that I’ve forgotten are there, plants that are doing better this year and off course there’s the occasional plant that hasn’t got through the winter. Simple tasks like clearing away the...

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Deep root trainers: a review

Posted in General care, Reviews | 2 comments

Deep root trainers: a review

I’m way behind with sowing my seeds this year. I was very envious of Celia’s seedlings that I spotted in her greenhouse at Purple Podded Peas HQ this week. So this weekend will be a flurry of seed sowing activity. I think that I’m a bit late for sowing chillies this year, as these really need to be sown in early February but I might try a few alongside the tomato seeds in the electric propagator. Apart from the seeds that can go straight in the ground, I’ll be using seed trays and deep root trainers for everything else. Deep root...

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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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How to improve soil organically on your allotment or garden

Posted in Allotment, General care | 6 comments

How to improve soil organically on your allotment or garden

We have two big borders at the bottom of our kitchen garden that formerly were just a rough patch where very little thrived.  With great hope and optimism these became our first space for growing vegetables. I scattered a bit of Growmore and watered my seeds fervently. Things germinated and grew in a spindly sort of way, the nasturtiums were the only great success – these don’t mind a poor soil and will grow virtually anywhere. We extended our kitchen garden to a slightly more fertile patch. Now we had the opportunity to compare the...

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How to make simple and strong raised beds for your garden

Posted in General care, Save Money | 7 comments

How to make simple and strong raised beds for your garden

Our cottage is set quite a way back from the road. We like this as it gives us a lot more privacy than a house set beside a pavement. This front garden faces south west and is a much warmer and more protected spot than the kitchen garden – which lies in a bit of a frost pocket. Last year we extended the long south facing herbaceous border that runs from the gate to the cottage. This year we decided to use some more of the front drive for raised beds. Our drive is full of rocks and the soil is heavy clay – so raised beds seemed like a good...

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Can you help us and identify this plant please?

Posted in Flowers, General care | 17 comments

Can you help us and identify this plant please?

“Did you know that you’ve got a giant dock weed growing in the herbaceous border?” “Well yes and no. I thought it might be a dock at first but its leaves are larger and curly.” Danny picked a regular dock leaf and compared them. Same colour, similar veins. The dock leaf was much smaller, without the grandiose frills. I nipped inside and searched online for a plant with dock like leaves and found several possibilities but I would really like to know exactly what this plant is. It needs to be moved as it is dominating a newly planted...

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Dog poo/poop composting the easy way

Posted in Discoveries, General care | 8 comments

Dog poo/poop composting the easy way

I’m switching my worm composter from dog poo to food scraps. I was pleased with it at first, but the worms just couldn’t keep up with the amount of poo that the Min Pins generate. Perhaps I needed more worms or a bigger unit? To be quite honest with you the sight of the worms digesting dog poop is not a pretty one. I know that some people toss dog poo onto their compost heap but this is not a great idea as it contains many harmful pathogens. Not quite as bad as cat poo but still bad enough to halt simple healthy composting in its...

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