The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Broad bean and smoked duck breast salad with a garlic and spring onion dressing recipe

Posted in Duck Goose and Turkey | 8 comments

Broad bean and smoked duck breast salad with a garlic and spring onion dressing recipe

If anyone had suggested ten years ago that I might like to try growing broad beans, I would have thought that they were deranged. I hated broad beans. The flouriness of the beans and their crinkly skins. When John arrived with a large smile and a box of seeds it would have been rude to say no. So I smiled and enthused as he planted an entire bed of the kitchen garden with the plump seeds of these loathsome plants. I cared for these plants. Nipping of the tops to avoid the invasion of blackfly. Watering them when it was dry. They were planted...

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Broad beans revisted with delight

Posted in Vegetables | 9 comments

Broad beans revisted with delight

“These will make your hair curl.” Mrs Fromont wielded a large metal spoon into a vast steaming pot and served a pile of broad beans onto my plate. They loked like old men’s toes that had soaked too long in the bath and I didn’t want them. I had curly hair and longed for straight. I didn’t like vegetables. When I was speeding across Jesus Green, in my push chair with my mother at the helm, my sister had warned us about Mrs Fromont. So during my first days at school I knew that she had to be handled with care. Queen...

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Great Uncle Frank’s tip for broad beans: don’t throw away the tops of this delicate vegetable

Posted in Vegetables, Vegetarian | 8 comments

Great Uncle Frank’s tip for broad beans: don’t throw away the tops of this delicate vegetable

My great grandparents took their chances in the California gold rush. It didn’t work out and they saw their four children die of scarlet fever. They returned to England and had four more children. Three girls and a boy. Those four children would have been extra special. Boys were best in those days as they carried on the family name. My Great Uncle Frank was the one and only boy. He contracted consumption (tuberculosis). His mother was told that he wouldn’t live beyond 21. She didn’t tell him. At twenty and 10 months he...

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Broad beans need some gentle support

Posted in Vegetables | 5 comments

Broad beans need some gentle support

We planted our broad beans in November rather than the spring. Apparently you are less likely to get blackfly and blight and can crop an earlier harvest. We now have good strong plants. I also enjoyed seeing something growing in the vegetable patch during the winter. I noticed this evening that the stems of the broad beans were beginning to flop. Some of the stems are nearly four feet tall. When the flowers develop into beans the weight of these can easily snap the stems. As we were expecting rain overnight, I thought it might be wise to rig...

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