The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Growing your own tomatoes and coping with blight

Posted in Vegetables | 17 comments

Growing your own tomatoes and coping with blight

Each year we marvel when the first tomato seedlings appear. It’s hard to believe that they should grow into sturdy plants almost as tall as me and provide us with pounds and pounds of fruit. Out of 80 potential finalists, only forty will make it to the next round. Usually we end up with around thirty plants. These make up the cast of our grand tomato opera. A few divas and supporting roles and at least twenty less showy plants that make up the chorus. The main cast bask against the sunny side of the cottage and the rest are in the...

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Old roses: Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

Posted in Featured, Flowers | 19 comments

Old roses: Rosa banksiae ‘Lutea’

I planted this beautiful rose beside the front door fifteen years ago, following the advice of Saggers nursery in Newport, Essex. Saggers give really good advice. In fact most of the best plants and stunning shrubs in our garden come from them. Being privately owned they are a good bet compared to the more commercial local nursery gardens. This is Rosa Banksiae ‘Lutea’, a rambling rose that does not drop its leaves in winter in this part of the world. It’s also virtually thornless and the clusters of small double petalled...

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Flowers from the garden: April

Posted in Flowers | 0 comments

Flowers from the garden: April

Yesterday it was the birthday of the two Carols in my life. My friend Carol and her namesake, Carol the chicken. As my pal doesn’t have chickens at her new house I thought she might like a box of fresh organic eggs to celebrate her big day, we had three in the larder and another three in the nesting box. This was perfect as two large brown eggs had been laid by Carol. I also found a chicken card in our desk and signed it with the sort of signature that I thought Carol (chicken) would like. A Heavy, ponderous claw. I jumped into Jalopy...

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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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Home grown Purple Sprouting broccoli

Posted in Vegetables | 79 comments

Home grown Purple Sprouting broccoli

If more people tasted home grown purple sprouting broccoli they would surely cultivate it. You would see it on London balconies, in country herbaceous borders and standing proud in every kitchen garden in the land. Home grown does not have the slight limpness and bitterness of the supermarket stuff. It’s sweet and delicate and melt in the mouth. The only problem with this vegetable is that it takes a year to mature. The seeds are planted towards the end of April and the long-ish wait puts people off. I reckon most people plant it, loose...

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Flowers from the garden: March into April

Posted in Flowers | 4 comments

Flowers from the garden: March into April

Danny used to say that he didn’t buy me flowers because I would think that he was having an affair. Despite assurances and numerous gentle hints, his trotters were in. So I always bought my own flowers until January 2007. Then I decided to try and not buy any for a whole year. I am noticing and enjoying the flowers in the garden much more as a consequence and picking these for the house. We have been so busy lately that I missed the boat on the March Flowers From The Garden post. I picked daffodils (we have early and late) from the...

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