The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Flowers from the garden: March 2009

Posted in Flowers | 10 comments

Flowers from the garden: March 2009

I suddenly realised that I hadn’t posted “Flowers from the Garden” since Christmas. I have been picking flowers. Mini bunches of bulbs and Wintersweet in January. Hellebores and winter flowering honeysuckle in February. And now the garden is bursting into song with a background of flowers and unfurling leaves. Even though I don’t buy flowers anymore, I’m often tempted. This evening there were early scented white sweet peas, knocked down to 79p in Waitrose. My bargain hunting antennae whirled with pleasure until I remembered that...

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White sprouting broccoli 2

Posted in Discoveries, Vegetables | 12 comments

White sprouting broccoli 2

The taste of really fresh purple sprouting broccoli from the garden is only beaten by the flavour of sweet white sprouting broccoli. John Coe gives us broccoli plants each year in July. They need to be covered with nets or the birds will strip the young leaves clean within a few days. They also need to be protected from the cabbage white caterpillar.  Apart from those two key rules they are easy to grow as long as you know that they will not produce their delicate spears until April of the following year. A lot of my clients have planted...

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Sun and sunset

Posted in Cottage tales | 10 comments

Sun and sunset

Wednesday was like a summer’s day here in East Anglia. Our winter flowering honeysuckle is covered in tiny white fragrant flowers. When I opened the cottage door that morning sun, the lemony scent and the sound of the bees hit me with a surge of spring. The forsythia was just coming into flower.  A few daffodils had opened – the first of hundreds that will bloom in the grassy stretch in front of the cottage. I’m working outside this week and jacket, hat, gloves and scarf were ripped off and I basked on my ladder in the sunshine...

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Scented geraniums are a must for every summer garden

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 16 comments

Scented geraniums are a must for every summer garden

Seraphina’s pelargoniums have survived the winter in window boxes in Cambridge. I was stunned when I spotted this the other day when I arrived to decorate her dining room. She chose the grey shade  (Pacific Breeze) in the Dulux Light and Space collection. The room looked stunning, soft and bright. Like walking inside a shell. Knowing Seraphina, I think that she had forgotten the pelargoniums. We have sadly lost all of ours. A collection that we’d kept going for years. Carefully potted up each autumn to over winter in the greenhouse. Even...

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Garden update: March 2009

Posted in Vegetables | 5 comments

Garden update: March 2009

Even though our broad beans were planted in November they have only just come through over the last couple of weeks. Usually they appear by late December. I was beginning to think that the seeds might have failed. John Coe planted his own beans a good couple of weeks before he sowed ours. Just before Christmas we stood surveying the kitchen garden. “Your beans will be coming through very soon. Mine started peeping through last week.” But the freezing weather in late December and January must have set them back. I don’t mind at all. We...

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Tending raspberries and making fruit cages

Posted in Fruit | 25 comments

Tending raspberries and making fruit cages

I’ve always fancied having a walk-in fruit cage. The sort supplied by Harrod Horticulture, with a sturdy ‘easy to assemble frame’ and nets without rucks. I’ve gazed at the pictures on their site imagining that I am the slim woman in jeans, opening the door, large trug in hand. Beyond her the bushes are bursting with fruit. These cages are expensive. Whilst waiting for a windfall, I bought some cheap nets two years ago and laid them over the canes when our crop was ripe and attracting the local birds. I didn’t...

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Flowers from the garden: March into April

Posted in Flowers | 4 comments

Flowers from the garden: March into April

Danny used to say that he didn’t buy me flowers because I would think that he was having an affair. Despite assurances and numerous gentle hints, his trotters were in. So I always bought my own flowers until January 2007. Then I decided to try and not buy any for a whole year. I am noticing and enjoying the flowers in the garden much more as a consequence and picking these for the house. We have been so busy lately that I missed the boat on the March Flowers From The Garden post. I picked daffodils (we have early and late) from the...

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Hyacinths in the garden

Posted in Flowers | 1 comment

Hyacinths in the garden

I always plan to plant my hyacinths in the garden immediately after flowering indoors. They are put outside the back door and often forgotten. About fifty percent survive there. Sometimes I discover a forgotten pot the next year, bravely flowering, The stems pinched and weak, the bulbs nibbled by mice and slugs. If I’m galvanised, the indoor hyacinths are quickly transferred from their pots to the borders when the flowers fade. This year I cut off the dead flowers of my indoor hyacinths and put the pots in the greenhouse. I can’t...

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