The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Biodynamic gardening update for January

Posted in General care | 14 comments

Biodynamic gardening update for January

  It all started with The Gaia Book of Organic Gardening by Patrick Holden and Cindy Engel. The Chicken Lady gave me this book for Christmas. I absorbed every page. It’s packed with ideas on how to improve the soil in your garden without the need for chemical fertilisers and very useful information and pointers to make a garden more self sustainable. Exactly the book that I needed, as I’ve become obsessed with improving our kitchen garden soil. Then I started to read more widely and discovered that biodynamic gardening is like organic...

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Simple Seville orange, ruby grapefruit and lemon marmalade recipe

Posted in Jam Jelly and Preserves | 17 comments

Simple Seville orange, ruby grapefruit and lemon marmalade recipe

  When I was a decorator I’d often dream about decorating as it was an integral part of my life. I’d often wake exhausted in the morning having been ‘decorating’ all night. Decorating was the backbone to all these dreams overlaid with the classic dramas. Anxiety dreams – would I finish painting the room in the allotted time? Adventure dreams – scaling roofs and walls with a pot of paint and a brush. Travel dreams – decorating around the world. Even frightening dreams – decorating alone in a haunted house. The decorating...

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Growing First Early potatoes in the greenhouse

Posted in Vegetables | 11 comments

Growing First Early potatoes in the greenhouse

  I never in my craziest dreams thought I’d be writing this post. As my fingers fly across the keyboard it’s sleeting outside.  I’ve planted some Swift (First Early potatoes) in a potato bag in the greenhouse. If all goes well they should produce a crop by the end of March. This is not a moment of Cottage Smallholder madness, I found the advice on the Harrod Hoticultural site. John Harrison has written a series of great monthly grow your own articles for this site.  He is the author of Vegetable Growing Month by Month and also...

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Best recipes for leftovers: Spectacular goose, red pepper and tarragon risotto recipe

Posted in Duck Goose and Turkey, Rice and Pasta | 8 comments

Best recipes for leftovers: Spectacular goose, red pepper and tarragon risotto recipe

  “Would you like goose risotto tonight?” “Oh yes please!” We eat a lot of risotto at the cottage. The perfect easy comfort food. What I didn’t mention was the age of the goose. I’d found some last week in our freezer left over from Christmas 2008. It looked a bit stringy and unappetising so I hid it from Danny as it defrosted. Leftover goose – even if it’s been lingering in the freezer for months makes a risotto to die for. It smelt and tasted fine and once it was chopped up and stirred into the risotto it transformed the...

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And the culprit eating my pea shoots was…

Posted in Pests and Diseases | 19 comments

And the culprit eating my pea shoots was…

  I’ve been busy tackling the mystery of what was eating my pea shoots. These peas were planted in October under fleece. They germinated well and were at the stage where they needed to be supported by twigs. At first I suspected slugs. My open beer traps didn’t attract a single slug. Then Cath gave me the tip that traps need to be covered and I remembered that years ago my mum gave me the ultimate in slug traps. I found it in the greenhouse and set it up with a trill. But even the mighty Slug X beer fest didn’t attract a single...

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Easy Seville Orange Marmalade recipe

Posted in Jam Jelly and Preserves | 70 comments

Easy Seville Orange Marmalade recipe

  “I want to make a marmalade that looks pretty. Like this.” I pushed our copy of New British Classics by Gary Rhodes across the table. “It looks stunning but it would take hours to remove the pith and cut the peel that fine.” “Not if I poach the oranges à la Delia. I could probably scoop out the pith with a spoon.” I’d been researching making marmalade in depth. Having been brought up in a dark chunky marmalade household I’ve steadfastly continued with the tradition. Assuming that this is the best marmalade. Until last...

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Slug challenge 2010 and seedlings

Posted in General care, Pests and Diseases | 11 comments

Slug challenge 2010 and seedlings

  Our basic electric propagator has been brought into service again as I’m really keen to get my tomatoes and peppers started early this year. Also I wanted to sow the Florian strawberry seeds to get a May/June crop. The propagator hasn’t got a thermostat but it is a real little cracker. Germinating seeds very quickly. This year they seem to have germinated even more rapidly – perhaps using rainwater to water them is helping? I’m also using biodynamic techniques and sowing, planting and tending by the moon this year – which is...

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Marmalade Dayzzzz

Posted in Cottage tales | 21 comments

Marmalade Dayzzzz

  This past two weeks or so I have been caught up in a fever that hits the UK from mid January to the end of February. The great marmalade making bonanza. I was determined to develop a new range of recipes for the gate side stand  – from dark and chunky to light and dainty. I have come up with two new easy recipes. I’ve also made a few discoveries and now feel much more competent when it comes to making marmalade. In fact I think that I was probably up a bit too long each day, falling asleep the instant my head touched the pillow....

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