The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


April edibles in our garden

Posted in Vegetables | 2 comments

April edibles in our garden

We grow a lot of brassicas. With the allotment and the kitchen garden at the cottage we have feasted all winter and spring on cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouting broccoli as well as spinach and salad leaves, winter lettuce and so much more. Now tiny hands are clapping with glee – the final swan song of kale and cabbage is the production of tasty shoots. If left these will eventually open into flowers and produce seed for the future. One day we might save the seed but at the moment we savour these fresh shoots. They are generally sweet and...

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How to easily grow the best shallots

Posted in Vegetables | 7 comments

How to easily grow the best shallots

I love using shallots in my recipes. I prefer their mild taste to most onions and the fact that they generally store so well gets the thumbs up from me. Until last year my shallots were not the chubby specimens that I saw in the supermarket. If I was lucky they were the size of a small walnut. I tried investing in more expensive sets, giving them more water, feeding them, putting grit in the soil and still the results were disappointing. So last year I took a tip from Monty Don, on Gardeners World. He set his shallots in trays of compost....

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Growing and eating yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

Posted in Fruit, Vegetables | 8 comments

Growing and eating yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

If you have not cultivated yacon before it would be worth seriously thinking about growing it this year. If you are already growing yacon you will know why! So many of the little known vegetables are a bit of a disappointment – it’s easy to see why they are not in every garden in the land. Yacon is different. It’s delicious. It is a great contrast to most of the winter veg that we chomp through each year. It’s easy to grow and so versatile. Yacon is a perennial tuber from South America. There it is eaten as a fruit. In the UK it is...

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Seed potatoes for 2012

Posted in Vegetables | 9 comments

Seed potatoes for 2012

If I don’t move fairly quickly I’ll miss out on ordering a decent selection of seed potatoes for this year. Last years harvest was good and we enjoyed all the new (to us) varieties that we chose, with one exception. Ezel Blue will never darken our cottage door or vegetable patch again. We ended up throwing them away. International Kidney – from which Jersey Royals were bred – are sweet and delicious. Shape’s Express were a good, fluffy, floury spud. Our Rooster potatoes did well – these need to be boiled in their skins to avoid...

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Check out this great Sungold seed offer and much, much more

Posted in Flowers, Vegetables | 16 comments

Check out this great Sungold seed offer and much, much more

I felt a bit of a pig last spring. Danny adores Sungold tomatoes but I suddenly couldn’t find my wallet when I saw the price on the pack – £2.99 for just ten F1 seeds. Feeling a bit guilty I bought one plant in a sale in late June. Perhaps this plant hadn’t had the coddling that one would usually give a tomato plant of this calibre, as it didn’t produce a great harvest. Just three trusses that were largely green by the end of September. We grew Sungold tomatoes years ago with great results so I decided that this year I’d invest...

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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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Collecting bean seeds from the garden saves money

Posted in Save Money, Vegetables | 10 comments

Collecting bean seeds from the garden saves money

This year I’m very behind in the garden. Seeds need to be gathered, pelargonium’s are crying out to be dug up and taken to a warmer place, the final lawn cut needs to take place. So yesterday I stepped into the bright autumn sunshine with a selection of bags. The seeds that I was chasing were sweet peas, broad beans, climbing French beans and runner beans. Last year I left the runner bean pods on the plants too long and they got damp, mildewy and rotted. This year I was determined to succeed. Seeds seem relatively cheap when you just buy a...

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