The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices – a free exhibition at the British Library until April 3

Posted in Reviews | 11 comments

Evolving English: One Language, Many Voices – a free exhibition at the British Library until April 3

British Library I was really tickled when I read one of the posters for the British Library’s current free exhibition – One Language, Many Voices. “A man’s home is his castle, pad, dig, shack, roost, gaff, sock, crib, hame, place…” Hame is a longstanding family joke at the cottage. I had never heard the word hame used to describe home before – apart from in a smart London drawing room, many years ago. Fly with me back in time to 1989, the year that I became engaged to my ex-husband.  We had been invited to a celebratory...

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Making Your Own Cheese: How to Make All Kinds of Cheeses in Your Own Home by Paul Peacock. A review

Posted in crafts, Reviews, Vegetarian | 8 comments

Making Your Own Cheese: How to Make All Kinds of Cheeses in Your Own Home by Paul Peacock. A review

  This year is the year that I’m determined to start making my own cheese. Ever since I’ve watched the progress of Suzanne McMinn who writes the addictive Chickens In The Road blog describing her progress on the cheese making front, I’ve been curious and a bit envious of her endeavours. Last year her partner bought her a cow for her birthday. Now let’s get things straight immediately, I do not want to actually own a cow and would be horrified if Danny led one up the drive on the next big birthday day. A cow is a massive...

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A good Christmas and an inspirational cookery book

Posted in Christmas, Reviews | 7 comments

A good Christmas and an inspirational cookery book

  We had a very good, enjoyable and peaceful Christmas. Seraphina hosted two lunches, one on Christmas Day and the second one was yesterday. My poor mum was ill over Christmas so we celebrated Boxing Day a day late so that she could join in the fun. My sister is a very good cook and extremely independent. It was bliss to leave all the cooking in her expert hands. Danny and I are not really turkey fans but Seraphina’s Bronze feathered free range turkey was delicious. Moist and full of flavour. A real eye opener – turkey can be succulent...

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Sneak preview of my Christmas book wish list!

Posted in Christmas, Reviews | 17 comments

Sneak preview of my Christmas book wish list!

  I’ve spent quite a few delicious hours making a Christmas book wish list and I thought that you might like a sneak preview. Although I’m sent a good stream of books to review there are always others that tempt me throughout the year. Of course if I can find the books on discount sites it’s a real plus as it means more books for less money. The Book People website is a good start when looking for discounted books. They have some excellent collections that are hugely discounted – such as the eight nominated books for the Booker prize....

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In praise of my Cape Cod weeder: a review

Posted in General care, Reviews | 7 comments

In praise of my Cape Cod weeder: a review

  This little tool has become a favourite in my hand weeding armoury. Danny gave it to me, along with a new hand fork and trowel for my birthday. I’d heard that the Cape Cod weeder is an excellent tool but it took quite a few weeks before I decided to put it through its paces. Within a few minutes, I discovered that it’s much better than a trowel or hand fork for clearing weeds fast. The head is drawn below the surface of the soil to cut off weeds at the roots – like a tiny hoe. But I soon discovered that all that is needed to dislodge...

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Low Cost Living. Live better, spend less by John Harrison: a review

Posted in Reviews, Save Money | 13 comments

Low Cost Living. Live better, spend less by John Harrison: a review

  I was really shocked when a middle aged woman declared on the radio last week that people should not make money writing books on low cost living. “Why on earth not?” I thought. I’d just finished John Harrison’s excellent book Low Cost Living. The book is filled with good advice and introduced me to lots of new ideas. A thoroughly sound investment. The subtitle of the book “Live better, spend less” is something of a mantra here at the cottage. We have been trying to do this for the past seven years and I wish I’d had a book...

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Achocha: an easy alternative to growing sweet green peppers

Posted in Reviews, Save Money, Vegetables | 17 comments

Achocha: an easy alternative to growing sweet green peppers

  I tried growing peppers yet again this year in the greenhouse. Some were attacked by a mystery pest that ate into the fruit just at stem level. The fruit gradually rotted. But one plant was not attacked and we ended the season with sweet peppers – just four but these are the first peppers that I’ve ever managed to grow. I also planted achocha this year. I hadn’t heard of these until I spotted them on The Real Seed website. Who could resist the name “Fat Baby” and the photo of just a hand poking out from the undergrowth of achocha....

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We have got a Solar Tunnel polytunnel!

Posted in Discoveries, General care, Reviews | 14 comments

We have got a Solar Tunnel polytunnel!

  It’s all Lynn Keddie’s and Jackie’s fault. They both set the “why not get a polytunnel” seed in my brain. Like everyone else we are becoming very concerned about the rising price of food. It just seems to be creeping up and up. If we invested in a polytunnel we could extend the growing season even further and might be able to become 95% self sufficient in vegetables and a lot of fruit. That is with the help of the freezer, the dehydrator and plain old fashioned bottled fruit and tomatoes. The fledgling flower selling business...

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