The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Plant trees to invest in the long term future

Posted in Discoveries, Fruit | 11 comments

Plant trees to invest in the long term future

Years ago my friend Sylvia said to me. “The Fosdykes have their 50th anniversary coming up and we’re planning to give them a Judas tree. What do you think?” My head whirled. I had just been given a weeping tree that I did not want. A tree can be a great present if.. a) The person has space and b) The person actually would like that particular tree. So my response was. “Do they have an established garden?” “Well yes.” “Do they have the space for a Judas tree?” “I don’t really know.” Recently my friend Jo pointed out...

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I fell in love with tamarillos on Mothering Sunday

Posted in Fruit | 7 comments

I fell in love with tamarillos on Mothering Sunday

  We haven’t been out to eat for ages so we decided to take my mum to one of her favourite restaurants – The Three Horseshoes, in Madingley. The food is very good, the service friendly and it’s a real treat to visit. Of course, on special occasions, it’s a set menu. Having rather overindulged on the delicious home made bread as we ordered, I could hardly totter away from the table. Supper is definitely not on the cards tonight. The cheese course is always superb but felling a bit full I plumped for the yoghurt panna cotta with...

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Plotting, planning and planting for a future

Posted in Fruit | 12 comments

Plotting, planning and planting for a future

  “You’ve been led astray by Mark Diacono.” “No. He’s just shown me new ways of investing in our future!” There’s no sensible repost to that. If being led astray means that we have harvests of great edibles in the future, count me in. Gilbert agrees. At the moment he’s doing the same, buying trees, fruit canes and shrubs to fill the gaps in their range of fruit. He’s also bought some nut trees as they are a great source of protein. Nuts will have to wait until next year for me as the coffers are not quite as full as I’d...

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How to save tomato seed easily and the Gardening Which? blind tasting test results for the tastiest tomatoes

Posted in Fruit, Vegetables | 9 comments

How to save tomato seed easily and the Gardening Which? blind tasting test results for the tastiest tomatoes

  This idea was given to me by Amalee Issa in a comment on a tomato post that I wrote. Amalee writes the quirky blog The Garden Diaries of Amalee Issa and is well worth a visit. Not just gardening and always entertaining. Basically all you have to do is spread the seed on a piece of paper and let it dry in a warm room. Mark the piece of paper with the variety and store somwhere dry. In the Spring peel off the dried seed and sow as normal. I tried it last year and every seed germinated. Forget the fretting over water and seeds. This is easy...

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Growing strawberries from seed. It’s well worth it in the end.

Posted in Fruit, Save Money | 3 comments

Growing strawberries from seed. It’s well worth it in the end.

  Do you remember my excitement over growing Florian strawberries from seed? And later, my frustration when they just didn’t seem to grow- just sat there the size of doll’s house plants? Eventually I got fed up with viewing them though a magnifying glass and planted the five plants that had survived my fury in a large, redundant hanging basket. Not expecting great results. I used ericaceous compost as I discovered last year that strawberries prefer a more acidic soil than mine. They immediately began to thrive – clearly they hated...

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Biodynamic gardening update: July 2010

Posted in Fruit, General care, Pests and Diseases, Vegetables | 20 comments

Biodynamic gardening update: July 2010

  “It’s nearly the end of July. Surely there’s something we can eat from the garden?” Danny was exasperated – forgetting that we have already munched loads from the garden in the past few months. Spuds, orach (German Mountain spinach), calabrese, turnips, broad beans, raspberries, strawberries, tayberries, loganberries, peas, lettuces and salad leaves. But then I twigged that he’s desperate to start harvesting his favourite.  Runner beans. They are a bit late this year but a careful examination of the beans revealed that they...

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One Pot Pledge®

Posted in Fruit, Vegetables, Watering | 4 comments

One Pot Pledge®

  Have you heard of the One Pot Pledge®? This is a great campaign started by Garden Organic – the largest organic growing charity in the UK. The idea is to encourage 30,000 people who have not grown some of their own food before to make a pledge to grow something edible in a pot. This is a superb initiative as everyone has a place somewhere for a pot. Even if it’s on your desk at work. This campaign started much earlier this year but there are still lots of things that you can grow and enjoy. Salad leaves, peas or even nurture a tomato...

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Bottled fruit: enjoying the bounty seven months later

Posted in Desserts, Fruit, Preserving, Vegetarian | 22 comments

Bottled fruit: enjoying the bounty seven months later

When I sat down to savour the superb third day of creamy Greek yoghurt and organic blackberries and blueberries bottled last October from our own garden, I just had to take a photo. This is now pasted on the kitchen wall to  remind me how good bottled fruit is when I’m caught up in the bottling frenzy that dominates September and October. I do enjoy bottling fruit but sometimes it seems a bit of a palaver if I have other things to do. Sitting by the pond on a clear and sunny morning as the fruit and yoghurt combination burst in my mouth I...

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