The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum)

Posted in Flowers | 14 comments

Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum)

I went into the garden in the morning when it was sunny to check the keets and see what was happening in the garden generally. The rain has battered a lot of the plants in the herbaceous border but it still is looking lush. This opium poppy had opened in the kitchen garden and was attracting hover flies. I love the flowers of this anual herb. The papery petals and their fleeting flowering makes them so special. I have seen opium poppies in the hedgerows in the lanes around here. They are tough plants that thrive anywhere. The medicinal value...

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We have keets! Fourth update on Farming Friends’ and Cottage Smallholder’s interblog guinea fowl breeding event

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 14 comments

We have keets! Fourth update on Farming Friends’ and Cottage Smallholder’s interblog guinea fowl breeding event

We are now on day 28 of Farming Friends’ and Cottage Smallholder’s interblog guinea fowl breeding event . The gestation period for guinea fowl eggs is 26-28 days. This morning I jumped out of bed, pulled on my wellies and shot down to the chicken run. Perhaps the eggs that Sara from Farming Friends had sent us in the post had hatched. I removed the side of Mrs Boss’s castle. She gave me a cursory glance before she hopped off the nest and hoovered up the corn that I had scattered in her handkerchief garden. I examined the...

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Guest Spot: Downsizing, bees and battling with molluscs. By Jane Greppi

Posted in Fun | 9 comments

Guest Spot: Downsizing, bees  and battling with molluscs. By Jane Greppi

My friend Jane and her family moved from London to the coast a few years ago as they didn’t want their children to grow up in the city. They are now is planning to make the leap to life in a country cottage. She kindly agreed to let me publish extracts of her sparky email as tonight’s post. Guest Spot: Downsizing, bees and and battling with molluscs. By Jane Greppi We are rushing round like mad things at the moment as we have just – gulp – put our house on the market in the hope of buying our very own – yes,...

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Flowers from the garden: June

Posted in Flowers | 4 comments

Flowers from the garden: June

I’ve been away in London for a couple of nights. Danny took over as Maternity Matron and attended to Mrs Boss’s castle. The first thing I did on my return was rush down to check if we had keets. They could arrive anytime from now on. Mrs Boss was looking pretty chirpy and the nest of eggs was still a complete nest of eggs. There is nothing like a trip to London to make me realise how much I love living in the country. When I poked my head out of the back door I could smell Hyacinths. An unusual waft for this time of year, as they...

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Why not make your own fat balls for the birds?

Posted in Discoveries, General care, Wildlife | 69 comments

Why not make your own fat balls for the birds?

Watching the birds feeding just outside the kitchen windows gives me enormous pleasure. Since the bird eating cat that used to lurk in our front garden has moved away there are many more ground feeding birds and quite often I spot mice collecting seeds. Mice in the shrubs are fine. When they come into the house they are a problem.We give the birds mixed seed and fat balls all year. We only put out peanuts in the colder non nesting months as baby birds can choke on peanuts. Finally my large tub of fat balls for the birds has run out. So I...

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Growing tomatoes in large recycled olive tins

Posted in Vegetables | 13 comments

Growing tomatoes in large recycled olive tins

After the disaster of my tomatoes getting what I thought was blight, the replacements that I bought are romping along. Good sturdy plants and much better than the understudies that were waiting in the greenhouse. These are growing but in a thin and straggly sort of way. I should have moved them to the cold frame much earlier on. Meanwhile it turns out the tomatoes with ‘blight’ didn’t have blight after all. If they had blight they would have turned black weeks ago. They are happily growing out of the carrier bags that I put...

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Third update on Farming Friends’ and Cottage Smallholder’s interblog guinea fowl breeding event

Posted in Guinea Fowl | 4 comments

Third update on Farming Friends’ and Cottage Smallholder’s interblog guinea fowl breeding event

Hopefully this is the last weekend that we will be waiting for the arrival of the keets (baby guinea fowl). The eggs were sent by Sara at Farming Friends and are due to hatch anytime from June 27, so the next Mrs Boss newsflash may well report the addition of tiny keets to our menagerie. Mrs Boss is in her element. Happy in her own studio apartment, she is shifted off the nest twice a day but now doesn’t spend much time in her private garden. She refused to pose for the solo Paparazzo (me) and shimmied back to the eggs, but finding that...

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Sea bass baked with wild fennel and lemon recipe

Posted in Fish and Seafood | 0 comments

Sea bass baked with wild fennel and lemon recipe

Do you remember the craze for cooking fish in little foil parcels in the oven? I was looking through some old Waitrose recipes and I thought that I’d try baking some sea bass in them. It worked well and infused the fish with the fennel and lemon flavours. It was easy too, giving me some time to potter in the garden whilst it baked in the oven. We served the bass with the first new potatoes from the garden and warm samphire. Sea bass baked with wild fennel and lemon recipe Set the oven to 220c (200c fan) Ingredients: 2 sea bass, cleaned,...

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