The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Flowers from the garden: November 2008

Posted in Flowers | 4 comments

Flowers from the garden: November 2008

Oops. It’s now December and I’ve forgotten to post November flowers from the garden. But during November I did cast a beady eye around and spotted that the Mahonia x media ‘Charity’ was in bud and now it’s started to open. This is a beautiful shrub that enjoys a shady spot and can survive in most neglected UK gardens. I know this as I visit different houses and their gardens on a regular basis. We have counted and these visits averages around 70 a year. An amazing opportunity to meet new people and examine their houses and...

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Planting broad beans in the winter

Posted in Vegetables | 19 comments

Planting broad beans in the winter

I was up earlier this morning than usual. To clear a bed in our kitchen garden so that John could dig it over and we could plant the broad bean seeds. This is the second year that we have sown broad beans in November and already it has become something of a ceremony. Discussed and planned for weeks. “Shall I dig over this bed? There’s nothing but weeds.” John had said a couple of weeks ago. “Don’t worry. I’ll do it. Next time that you come the border will be clear.” Unfortunately, I had fallen at the...

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Flowers from the garden: November

Posted in Flowers | 13 comments

Flowers from the garden: November

When I saw the clever fireworks post on Purple Podded Peas I felt inspired to rush out and see what was flowering in our garden. I must admit I wasn’t dazzled by our display but I managed pick this little old fashioned posy. The sort of bijou arrangement that I imagine would sit on a side table in a Dicken’s novel. An incidental backdrop to the plot. The Flowers from the garden posts report on my progress since I decided not to buy flowers for the house in January 2007. I have managed to avoid buying cut flowers from supermarkets,...

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Japanese maple. Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

Posted in Plants and Bulbs | 32 comments

Japanese maple. Acer palmatum ‘Atropurpureum’

I bought this little tree on eBay three years ago. It looks bereft now in autumn and it is rapidly losing its leaves. They have turned from dark purple to a stunning red. For nine months it delights me. The foliage is small, dainty and exquisite. I had always thought that Japanese maples were a bit prinky, until I got one. Somehow this diminutive tree has crept under my skin. I would like to buy more. Old friends had a large one in a stone pot in their garden and it looked superb. I was disappointed when mine arrived. It looked so small and...

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Planting broad beans in November

Posted in Vegetables | 4 comments

Planting broad beans in November

This morning John Coe arrived to mow the lawn, clutching an old yellowing ice cream carton. He explained that he was going to set the seeds for the broad beans. My face must have been pretty blank, so he rattled the box temptingly before he kicked of his boots and sat down for coffee. He picked up his cup and described how he always sets his broad beans in November, on or around firework night. He went on to say that years ago an old boy had bothered to stop by his gate and give him this tip. Apparently the plants are far less likely to get...

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Wrapping up the greenhouse for winter

Posted in General care | 2 comments

Wrapping up the greenhouse for winter

The first year that we had the greenhouse I haunted that section of the garden centre. At that time I was spending quite a bit of money on materials for jobs from Homebase and the Save and Spend card was sending me wads of vouchers very quarter. I had longed for a greenhouse for years. We bought the Baron Greenhouse 8ft x 6ft. As it was a Meccano affair, arriving in a long thin box, it wasn’t very expensive. I quickly realised that the greenhouse companies make most of their turnover selling ‘essential’ greenhouse equipment...

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