The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Flowers from the garden: April 2009

Posted in Flowers | 8 comments

Flowers from the garden: April 2009

When I moved into the cottage sixteen years ago I was greeted at the end of the first month by hundreds of bluebells. I was thrilled, as most are, by the smaller wild British varieties of bluebells that I remembered from woodland walks as a child. These are prettier than the large ones that grow into thug-like clumps and invade with big hefty boots. We have a few of those and have found that they are not very invasive. I also discovered that there were small white and pink bells too. I didn’t know that these existed. The blue ones are...

read more

Potato Head

Posted in Vegetables | 9 comments

Potato Head

Danny is enjoying tending his potato bed. At the moment it just is tweaking the drip feed watering system from our water butts so that his seed potatoes are perfectly irrigated every day. Somehow he managed to nick the first and strongest spur of drip pipe for his bed. Needless to say the spur that led to john Coe’s potato patch was a much weaker affair and there was a blockage somewhere in the pipe. I’ve been watering John’s spuds and the broad beans by hand. We returned home from an excellent lunch party today and I took the blocked...

read more

You can eat the leaves of sprouting broccoli plants

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 13 comments

You can eat the leaves of sprouting broccoli plants

For the past five years John Coe has supplied us with sprouting broccoli plants. The purple variety gives a bigger, longer harvest. But nothing can beat the sweetness of white sprouting broccoli. This is the Premier Cru of sprouting broccoli. It is generally not available from the shops as the plants are smaller, the yield is minimal and the harvest is short. Sounds like the sort of vegetable that you should ignore. Wrong. White sprouting broccoli is a real delicacy. On a par with the first longed for asparagus shoots. If you have the space,...

read more

The magic of seeds

Posted in Vegetables | 12 comments

The magic of seeds

This has been a weekend of feverish digging and preparation. The new potato bed has such wonderful soil that we have ripped up half the rose walk to have a similar sized bed beside the spuds. This will be the brassica bed this year – cauliflower, calabrese, Brussels sprouts and sprouting broccoli. Although we won’t harvest the latter until April 2010. It’s our first year for cauliflower and Brussels sprouts so there has been quite a lot of thumbing through the vegetable gardening books. I can highly recommend Joy Larkcom’s...

read more

Gardening surprises

Posted in Flowers | 11 comments

Gardening surprises

I concentrated on the herbaceous borders all weekend and stayed outside this evening until I couldn’t distinguish weeds from plants. Quite a few plants had been knocked out by the hard winter, which is always sad. As usual giant buttercups, dandelions and nettles are thriving. But at this stage in the year they are easy to remove. I moved in to the cottage seventeen years ago this April. Easter was early and my mother and I spent the long weekend weeding the existing beds. They were packed with buttercups that were so hard to remove that in...

read more

Finally a whole weekend in the garden: Plans and promises

Posted in General care | 17 comments

Finally a whole weekend in the garden: Plans and promises

I spent most of the day in the garden today. I have prepared the borders in the kitchen garden and should have been setting seeds but I was drawn to tackle The Border of Stones. This is not a horticultural installation rather a border that was laid on top of the place where the basket weavers’ pig sty and outbuildings were knocked down covered with a thin layer of topsoil and laid to lawn. Over the years I have removed about six barrow loads of stones from a border than cannot measure more than 4’ x 8’. The stones gradually move their...

read more

Flowers from the garden: April 2008

Posted in Flowers | 5 comments

Flowers from the garden: April 2008

“Please ring me when the apple blossom opens.” Years ago, this was my mother’s plea. She always came to stay at the cottage in the spring to paint the apple blossom. She’s a talented water colour artist. In the autumn Mum cooked vast batches of apple puree and filled the freezer with small boxes, so we could enjoy apples throughout the winter months. It seemed a perfect circle. Things have changed since then. It was a weekend cottage for me and my mum stayed during the working week. A perfect dovetail for peple who need...

read more

Forget-me-not. Myosotis

Posted in Flowers | 18 comments

Forget-me-not. Myosotis

Forget-me-nots really come into their own when they self seed. They just don’t seem to work when they are sown and transplanted. They need to find their own place and more often than not appear beside a perfect companion and astonish me. If you don’t have any, scatter some seed around your garden and they should grow. Within a couple of years they will surprise you. They are part of large Boraginaceae family. This includes Pulminaria, Borage, Helitorope and Comfrey to name just a few. Most of this family share the same attribute...

read more


Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder


FD