The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Taking water cuttings of pelargoniums

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 11 comments

Taking water cuttings of pelargoniums

The kitchen is sweet with the smell of lemon scented geraniums. I finally hoicked out our two giant 3.5 feet plants and put them in the greenhouse. We are hoping that they will survive the winter and delight us again next summer. We are planning to plant them in the half barrels either side of the front door. I rarely take cuttings but this year we have taken quite a few from the scented geraniums. We are hoping that we have discovered a giant strain. The cuttings are insurance. Years ago, Bunty taught me how to take water cuttings. I have...

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The best way to ripen green tomatoes

Posted in Fruit | 32 comments

The best way to ripen green tomatoes

Danny loves guzzling our ripe tomatoes straight from the vine. This is partly why I grow them. It’s great to see my tomatoes savoured and relished. Now the evenings are drawing in, I often see him out with a torch when I swing in from work, searching to see if any have ripened in the autumn sunshine. The ripening process is slow at this stage of the season. We have managed to keep the tomato blight at bay by removing blighty leaves, stalks and fruit as soon as they appear. This has to be done daily and the blighty bits burnt. We...

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Guest Spot: How to build a hedgehog villa and nurture hedgehogs in your garden by The Mildred Mittens Manufactory

Posted in General care, Wildlife | 41 comments

Guest Spot: How to build a hedgehog villa and nurture hedgehogs in your garden by The Mildred Mittens Manufactory

I like hedgehogs. Even though they are partial to eating frogs. The few that have visited our garden caused a first night opening uproar with the Min Pins and had to be escorted off the premises in a cardboard box. Clearly intelligent beasts, hedgehogs no longer visit our garden. Only an Einstein amongst hedgehogs could coexist safely beside a Min Pin. This week I had an interesting exchange of emails with Mildred who happened to mention, in passing “And last night we watched our 7 hedgehogs trooping round the garden looking for the...

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Tomato harvest

Posted in Fruit | 10 comments

Tomato harvest

I have been bewailing my fate on the comments section of our first tomato blight post . I can’t find organic remedies for tomato blight or sterilising the greenhouse (soil and general environment) or the soil in the kitchen garden. If we have a cold winter with a decent length of hard frosts, the soil in the kitchen garden should be OK as the spores are killed by prolonged frosty weather (But how long is prolonged?). Then peter m gave us the link to a great site with organic treatments for vegetables. I can’t wait to try them on...

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Seven random garden facts

Posted in Cottage tales | 11 comments

Seven random garden facts

Ten days ago, Sara from Farming Friends tagged me for seven random facts about my garden. I have lived here for fifteen years now, creating and maintaining my garden is how I keep vaguely sane. When I first moved here it was just after I had been released from a short, unhappy marriage. A marriage that was so brief that all I tottered away with was half the wedding presents and a tattered heart. I am extremely lucky in “The boy stood on the burning deck” sort of way. My aunt had unexpectedly died and left me some money. I could...

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Growing tomatoes in large recycled olive tins

Posted in Vegetables | 13 comments

Growing tomatoes in large recycled olive tins

After the disaster of my tomatoes getting what I thought was blight, the replacements that I bought are romping along. Good sturdy plants and much better than the understudies that were waiting in the greenhouse. These are growing but in a thin and straggly sort of way. I should have moved them to the cold frame much earlier on. Meanwhile it turns out the tomatoes with ‘blight’ didn’t have blight after all. If they had blight they would have turned black weeks ago. They are happily growing out of the carrier bags that I put...

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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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Watercress update

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 11 comments

Watercress update

I’ve been coddling a 24 cell tray of watercress seedlings for weeks and suddenly they have put on a growth spurt and moved rapidly from dolls house sized plantlets to doll sized plants in the space of days. This week they can finally be settled in large 12″ pots and delivered to their new homes. We have a list of happy recipients that is lengthening daily. A large pot of these (3-5 cells to a pot) should provide enough watercress all summer for 2 watercress lovers. They need to be fairly well established, flopping over the sides of...

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