The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Kitchen Garden update September 2009

Posted in Save Money, Vegetables | 11 comments

Kitchen Garden update September 2009

  Thank goodness the cabbage white butterflies have stopped using our kitchen garden as a prime love fest location. They were attracted by so many tasty brassicas they are the new super food after all. Watching them canoodling was fun but fighting with their caterpillar offspring was a nightmare. For a good two months it was war. By the end I was patrolling morning and evening with the organic gardener’s version of a Kalashnikov – a powerful soapy spray gun. I don’t know whether it did much good. But the chickens enjoyed eating the...

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Edible garden update: September 2009

Posted in Vegetables | 7 comments

Edible garden update: September 2009

Even though we bought a budget greenhouse that arrived in a long thin box and caused a lot of head scratching and cursing, I love this small haven. I hang out in it all year – I suppose it’s the place where I go to dream. When the seeds start to germinate everything seems possible. Of course growing fruit and veg can be a bumpy ride. The only pests that we were not plagued with this year were aphids. This was down to an explosion of ladybirds encouraged by the June sunshine. This September we are awash with vegetables and fruit. Life seems...

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Flowers from the garden: September 2008

Posted in Flowers | 11 comments

Flowers from the garden: September 2008

I keep on extending the borders in the first part of the garden. This means digging out masses of bricks and rubble, generally a large barrow load to a square metre of soil. I now have two things. A large pile of hardcore and a very pretty border. Over the last two years I’ve filled the new border with perennials from the stand outside the secret garden. We visited this wonderful garden again early this summer when I discovered that the church fete was going to be held in the grounds. The fete was the quintessential English church fete. A...

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Flowers from the garden: September

Posted in Flowers | 11 comments

Flowers from the garden: September

This is the ninth month of flowers from our garden. I decided to stop buying flowers from the supermarket and wayside stalls in January. I worked out that including parties and festivals we were spending over five hundred pounds a year on flowers. Flowers have always been a regular treat and indulgence for me. They give me enormous pleasure. Especially a bunch on the kitchen table as this is where I sit and work when I am at home. Giving up buying flowers has not been a easy. The first three months were the worst when there wasn’t much...

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Rich Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe: for the freezer

Posted in Rice and Pasta | 37 comments

Rich Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe: for the freezer

This spring, my friend Jack told me that he was planning to grow his tomatoes in large pots; some inside his greenhouse and some just outside. The pots would stand on giant trays of gravel to increase humidity. I must admit I was secretly a bit dubious about his method. We’ve not had much success with tomatoes raised in our greenhouse, apart from seedlings. As our 14 outdoor plants flourished during the July heat wave, I wondered what was happening on the tomato front chez Jack. The cold wet August was clearly a bit of a shock to our...

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Runner Bean Chutney Recipe. How to freeze runner beans.

Posted in Chutney and Pickles | 34 comments

Runner Bean Chutney Recipe. How to freeze runner beans.

This morning John Coe and I went down to the kitchen garden to check what was available and edible. For the last few days, I’ve been back late and have gone down with a torch to quickly snatch the vegetables for supper. I discovered that we have finally got our longed for glut of runner beans. The Runner Bean Couple down the road have had their stand laden with huge bunches for the last few weeks. I wonder what they are financing with their takings which must be huge. Our production is not quite at their level so rather than set up a...

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It took me a year to drive to Beth Chatto’s garden

Posted in Reviews | 0 comments

It took me a year to drive to Beth Chatto’s garden

My sister, Sara, gave me a birthday treat today. We went out to lunch and then on to visit this famous magical English garden.Whenever I think of this garden, it’s the ponds that I remember. Vast stretches of water surrounded by water loving shrubs and perrenials. Exotic plants loll in the shallows and the architectural giant, gunnera, gives the pond garden a real Alice in Wonderland feel. We chatted and looked and breathed in the garden. We spotted some grey fish with a red flash on tail and fins. Leaving the ponds, we strolled through...

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Plums in our garden

Posted in Fruit | 0 comments

Plums in our garden

We have our own plum tree in the front garden, self seeded from a plum stone. This is its second year of fruiting and the harvest is still quite poor. Danny spotted that the plum trees in a couple of adjoining gardens were laden with plums and had branches overhanging our plot. He came into the kitchen, eating one and suggested that we pick them for plum chutney.Poor D suffers from acid tummy and malt vinegar is not good for this condition but he can eat our homemade pickles and chutney as we use cider or wine vinegar and this seems to be...

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