The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


How to prepare the best seed bed for winter salad

Posted in Vegetables | 9 comments

How to prepare the best seed bed for winter salad

My mother and stepfather were both talented amateur watercolour artists. They rented a chalet in the Swiss Engadine for a month each summer when we were growing up. They spent their days painting. I used to refurbish Henrietta’s wardrobe. She was my rag doll. Much loved and a great model for my creations. Later I moved on to reading and dreaming. As he set up his easel, my stepfather always announced each painting as “an exercise.” These two words insured against failure. If a painting was a success, then the announcement was forgotten....

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Flowers from the garden: October 2008

Posted in Flowers | 3 comments

Flowers from the garden: October 2008

In 1990, at the start of the boom, I was living in London and working in a small photo library in the East End. This was way beyond the City (the square mile of London’s East End that is the financial centre). Here there were quiet residential streets and parking spaces. I wasn’t happy in this job as my dyslexia (never divulged to the proprietor) meant that my indexing skills were eccentric. This often caused explosive ructions when a transparency had to be found in a hurry. In the end I spent most of my time mounting slides...

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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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Flowers from the garden: October

Posted in Flowers | 7 comments

Flowers from the garden: October

It’s the tenth month of flowers from the garden. Last January I decided not to buy flowers for the house for a year. The benefits would be two fold: I would save loads of money but also I would be encouraged to focus more on our herbaceous borders. It has been an absorbing challenge. When I started gardening here (fifteen years ago), I concentrated on flowers in this garden. Slowly, edible produce has diverted my attention and the herbaceous borders have declined. Since I made the decision not to buy flowers I have planned and planted...

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