The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Thunder and hail

Posted in General care | 9 comments

Thunder and hail

Still having problems with the laptop. I’ve tried the air spray idea but the precious machine is crashing constantly – answers to inquiries and comments when the system is more stable. Meanwhile here is a post. “When you were little did your parents tell you that thunder was just God moving his furniture around?” “No.”  Danny smiled. “It’s a great concept, though.” “Part of me liked it. I enjoyed imagining the size of a table or sofa that would make that noise. But the idea worried me, surely God would get his...

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Kitchen garden update: June 2009

Posted in Vegetables | 6 comments

Kitchen garden update: June 2009

“I’ve brought you some broad beans and some new potatoes.” My heart leapt as John Coe passed me the bags. We haven’t grown new potatoes this year – just concentrated on our main crop. “Just wipe the potatoes and the skins will fall off. Easy.” He placed a pack of plants wrapped in newspaper carefully beside his Wellingtons. “What are those?” “Purple sprouting broccoli.” He beamed. My mind whirled. The kitchen garden is choc a bloc. The baby purple sprouting broccoli plants usually are planted in July. I had been planning...

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Selective views

Posted in General care | 5 comments

Selective views

It’s easy to be selective and just ignore areas that don’t work well in a garden. I’m trying to concentrate on these patches at the moment rather than spend hours tending and polishing my favourite corners. I must have spent a good two hours removing the brambles that have crept up through the yew hedging and were waving like valiant anarchists across the top. One specimen has evaded all attempts to restrict him and is still at large. I see him every morning, bobbing about above the hedge. So along with the daily hunt for the...

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Huge delights in every garden

Posted in Cottage tales, General care | 7 comments

Huge delights in every garden

My first very own garden was barely three strides square. I was in my mid thirties and began planting with passion. It was the size of a giant’s plant pot but small enough for me to scratch around with confidence. It could be weeded in twenty minutes and was small enough to notice and cherish every tiny detail. When my clematis Jackmanni opened for the first time, I fell hopelessly in love. The gardening bug is like a benevolent form of Malaria. It keeps on returning. You might take a year or two off but it will get you in the end. After...

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Growing cucumbers in a greenhouse or polytunnel

Posted in Vegetables | 11 comments

Growing cucumbers in a greenhouse or polytunnel

I spent an hour and a half happily planting my baby cucumber plants into seven large pots against the end wall in the greenhouse. I also constructed a frame for them to scramble up. The seed pack for these precious plants was expensive. £4 for just seven seeds. They were planted in newspaper pots and germinated in our heated propagator and then brought on in our greenhouse. Last year I went downmarket seed-wise with disappointing results. The cheap pack had loads of seeds but only three out of five seedlings made it to the big pots and these...

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Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum)

Posted in Flowers | 14 comments

Opium poppies (Papaver somniferum)

I went into the garden in the morning when it was sunny to check the keets and see what was happening in the garden generally. The rain has battered a lot of the plants in the herbaceous border but it still is looking lush. This opium poppy had opened in the kitchen garden and was attracting hover flies. I love the flowers of this anual herb. The papery petals and their fleeting flowering makes them so special. I have seen opium poppies in the hedgerows in the lanes around here. They are tough plants that thrive anywhere. The medicinal value...

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Flowers from the garden: June

Posted in Flowers | 4 comments

Flowers from the garden: June

I’ve been away in London for a couple of nights. Danny took over as Maternity Matron and attended to Mrs Boss’s castle. The first thing I did on my return was rush down to check if we had keets. They could arrive anytime from now on. Mrs Boss was looking pretty chirpy and the nest of eggs was still a complete nest of eggs. There is nothing like a trip to London to make me realise how much I love living in the country. When I poked my head out of the back door I could smell Hyacinths. An unusual waft for this time of year, as they...

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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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