The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


The hand dug well project: thinking and planning

Posted in Watering | 9 comments

The hand dug well project: thinking and planning

  The water table is very high in our garden. When John Coe used to mow our lawn he declared that it was the greenest midsummer lawn that he had ever mowed. “Even in the hottest summers it’s still lush when the lawns in my village are burnt and dry.” Admittedly he gardens on sandy soil over in Freckenham. That’s why he can grow long straight carrots. Unfortunately I can’t but win hands down on the lawn front. When the pond was being dug I wanted a deeper area for the fish to hibernate safely overwinter. The men digging the pond...

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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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How to maximise your space for planting. Take a long hard look and think laterally.

Posted in General care, Watering | 22 comments

How to maximise your space for planting. Take a long hard look and think laterally.

  “Danny I’m thinking of renting some more land. We just don’t have enough space for all our projects.” “I’m sure that you could rent some land very easily around here but let’s wait until we have maximised the space at home first. Our land is free.” “But we have maximised our space – increased the size of the borders and made the paths quite slim in the kitchen garden.” “Well the forsythia in the front could go for a start. I’m having problems getting out of my car.” He’s had it in for the forsythia for months...

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Giving away plants and watering

Posted in Vegetables, Watering | 12 comments

Giving away plants and watering

“I gave him some purple sprouting broccoli plants and told him to net them. A week later he rang me to say that the pigeons had eaten the lot.” John Coe peered at me, eyebrows raised over his coffee cup. “And then he had the nerve to ask for replacements! No chance. I’d cared for those small plants for months.” If you give away plants you have to let go of them there and then, and not get upset if you see dried out husks still in their pots a couple of months later. This only happens occasionally. It’s generally with new gardeners...

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The oasis watering trick. How to reduce the time that you spend watering.

Posted in Watering | 9 comments

The oasis watering trick. How to reduce the time that you spend watering.

Water is expensive and so are plants. We have a water butt drip feed watering system for the kitchen garden in the summer. The initial investment has paid dividends – in time and money. Drip feed watering is used by the poorest countries and is designed to get the best possible results from the smallest amount of water. The system encourages plants to develop good roots and search for water. This watering method combined with the oasis trick could save you money, time and energy and give you a maximum return for minimum effort in your...

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Tip top care for tomatoes

Posted in Fruit, Watering | 11 comments

Tip top care for tomatoes

“You’ve spent hours on the Internet. What exactly are you looking for?” “I’m trying to decide what disease our tomatoes are suffering from. If I can identify it then we can treat it.” “Why? The great thing about our vegetables is that they are not treated with chemicals.” Having lost fifteen tomato plants to an unfathomable disease (blight?), I just wanted to find out what had gone wrong. I discovered that there were so many tomato plant ailments that my head whirled and I gave up in the end. I...

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Adapting your watering system

Posted in Watering | 2 comments

Adapting your watering system

My Bee Mentor, Mike, is a dinger. When I mentioned the automatic watering system that we have here, he finally agreed to come for lunch. Mike and his wife, Brenda, examined my system and asked hundreds of questions. They rang me a week later. They had not ordered the components online. They had actually driven to the Garden Systems store, talked to the people there and bought the perfect system for their garden. I now know that if you want to water your garden efficiently and well, you need to think about your garden’s needs and also...

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Setting up the drip feed water watering system for the summer

Posted in Watering | 10 comments

Setting up the drip feed water watering system for the summer

I’ve spent the afternoon playing with water. There’s nothing more relaxing. Especially if you know that your system will save time, energy and water throughout the summer. There are loads of watering systems available for your garden. The ones that run from butts appealed to me as they are environmentally friendly by reducing mains water usage. We now have six small (250-300 litre) butts and a large 1500 litre one. We have another large butt waiting in the wings to be linked up. We have four sheds that potentially could feed...

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