The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Baby aubergines

Posted in Vegetables | 13 comments

Baby aubergines

I sprang home last Spring with a pack of Chinese legend aubergines, dreaming of a greenhouse full of aubergine plants laden with succulent fruit. By the end of the summer I had not even seen a flower let alone a peep of an aubergine. Since then I’ve discovered that the seeds need to be sown really early (by January in a heated greenhouse at the latest). So I didn’t bother this year. About a month ago I was costing a job in Saffron Walden, for my old pal Anna of onion gravy fame. And I popped into the Springwell Nursery to buy some...

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Snowdrops and aconites

Posted in Flowers | 11 comments

Snowdrops and aconites

A beautiful postcard stands beside my computer, showing drifts of woodland snowdrops. It’s an advertisement for four snowdrop weekends at Chippenham Park. One day I hope that there will be bountiful drifts of snowdrops and aconites in front of our cottage. At the moment there is a patch of grass. The south westerly aspect means sun all afternoon. There have always been small patches of snowdrops in spring, a few aconites and a little later, pale blue crocuses open like stars on bright days. The gravel driveway takes up most of the space...

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Flowers from the garden: January 2008

Posted in Flowers | 10 comments

Flowers from the garden: January 2008

This is the start of the second year of not buying flowers and just picking flowers from the garden. In January 2007 I decided not to buy flowers for the house for a year. Having been a rather extravagant flower buyer for decades, this was a testing challenge. Especially when I passed a flower shop or supermarket display. Danny bought me an occasional bunch but as the months went by I began to prefer the flowers cut from the garden. They have a softness and a charm that is rarely found in commercially produced flowers. Having been an avid...

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Flowers from the garden: January

Posted in Flowers | 0 comments

Flowers from the garden: January

Driving to the supermarket to do the Big Shop on Sunday I worked out that we spend over £500 a year on flowers for the house. A chilling thought as I love flowers. A house without flowers just doesn’t sing. As I squeezed the car into a tight parking space I hoped that an excuse to continue with this magnificent expense would come to me. It didn’t. As I strolled with my trolley, I’d decided that it might be fun to try and find flowers for the house from the garden. This is the first post in a series of twelve, one each month...

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Snowdrops (Gallanthus)

Posted in Flowers | 0 comments

Snowdrops (Gallanthus)

These are the first snowdrops in our garden. I spotted them near the gate when I was driving out yesterday. As there is so little else in the garden at this time of year, I treasure the snowdrops. When they get into full swing we usually have a few in an eggcup on the kitchen table, ours are all small varieties. Snowdrops are massively popular nowadays. So much so that there is a real danger that all our wild snowdrops are likely to die out. Snowdrop thieves are plundering naturalised sites. This is a real cash crop. A small pot of three...

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