The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Hessian sacks, traditional English sack and three legged racing

Posted in General care | 7 comments

Hessian sacks, traditional English sack and three legged racing

I’ve been storing the paper sacks from our chicken feed to house Danny’s spuds (if they sail through). I mentioned this to him last night. “I’d prefer hessian sacks, ideally.” A couple of years ago I’d found hessian sacks on the Isle of Wight garlic farm site. This morning I drew a blank. There is no search facility on the site. Perhaps they still sell them, I just don’t know. I motored over to Cambridge to visit my mum and on the way home I decided to drop into Notcutts, Horningsea. We needed short bamboo stakes to support our...

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The annual village fete and a precious Eltex memory

Posted in Cottage tales | 11 comments

The annual village fete and a precious Eltex memory

We were lucky with the church fete this year. It was a warm sunny day and attracted loads of people. Gradually over the years it has evolved from a quiet village fete to an efficiently run machine. As a fund raising enterprise, this has worked. The takings have shot up and the small village church reaps the dividends. these days, we have Stewards’  badges and T-shirts for the core workers.  Danny and I help run the bar which now sells beer, lager and soft drinks alongside the St Clements Punch . The latter used to be optionally...

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The best gardening tools are not necessarily the most expensive

Posted in Discoveries, General care | 14 comments

The best gardening tools are not necessarily the most expensive

I’d cut down the rose bushes to large stumps and wheeled away about ten borrow loads of rose branches and quite a lot of bindweed roots. John Coe cast an eye over the warzone border covered with hefty skeletal stumps. “I can see what you mean. With this and the new potato border you will have a much more productive space for growing vegeatbles. Kitchen garden borders always fill up fast.” He picked up my spade and stabbed at the biggest rose root. “This’ll take some shifting.” Within five minutes the base of the spade had snapped...

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Gardening presents

Posted in General care | 12 comments

Gardening presents

The pleasure that I get from special garden tools and gardenalia is immeasurable. I love my two traditional Sussex garden trugs (giant and baby sized), the set of three cedar seed trays, my paper potter and my new mouseproof Burgon and Ball Seed Packets Tin. Seraphina has given me most of these luxury items. As with friends who have given me plants, I always think of the donor when I use them. Good solid old fashioned quality. The things seem timeless. The seed packets tin was given to me when I gave Seraphina a hand with her elegant...

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The Bower

Posted in General care | 4 comments

The Bower

Last year I decided to work on our main herbaceous border. I planted it when I first came to the cottage many years ago. It is quite a big border, roughly 12 feet deep (4 metres) x 33 feet long (11 metres). It started off as 5 x 33 feet and gradually increased in depth for the first five years. I didn’t have a master plan as I knew so little about gardening at the time. I just bunged in stuff that I liked. Every year I planned to do something about it but never had the time. So I made a start. The border is south facing with sun until...

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Germinate seeds fast with an electric propagator

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 20 comments

Germinate seeds fast with an electric propagator

I’m determined to set some of my seeds tomorrow. I have a small electric seed propagator, the cheapest one from Homebase. It has no thermostat nor any bells and whistles. Over the past three years, this willing donkey has germinated hundreds of seeds and has become an old friend. Admittedly I am not asking him to germinate really crusty coated seeds, such as those from the palm plant. But C.P. (Cheap Propagator) has our future in his warm embrace. He is perfect for germinating tomato, sweetcorn and cucumber seeds. An electric propagator...

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The first lawnmower

Posted in Fun | 2 comments

The first lawnmower

When I arrived at the cottage I bought various essentials from the vendors. These included a gorgeous Mountfield lawn mower. Not a ride on affair but the punchy, self propelled, elbows out Mountfield Emperor. The previous owner had it parked on the lawn at a natty angle. I was seduced in an instant. The water table is high here. Within a few days the grass was shaggy. I had moved in with my mother on tow. She looked up from her breakfast and suggested that it could do with a trim. Desperate to show off my new acquisition, I sauntered out to...

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Gardening gloves

Posted in General care | 3 comments

Gardening gloves

I used to think that gardening gloves were a waste of time. I’d pull on sturdy leather gloves for pulling out brambles but generally I liked the feel of mud between the fingers. The problem was removing the mud at the end of a stint in the garden. This took ages and somehow a feint residue of ground in dirt always remained. I tried pretty cotton gloves and found that the mud soaked through. The Homebase rubber gloves, with cotton backs, were too big. Marigold washing up gloves got clammy after a while. Everywhere I looked people were...

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