The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


April edibles in our garden

Posted in Vegetables | 2 comments

April edibles in our garden

We grow a lot of brassicas. With the allotment and the kitchen garden at the cottage we have feasted all winter and spring on cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouting broccoli as well as spinach and salad leaves, winter lettuce and so much more. Now tiny hands are clapping with glee – the final swan song of kale and cabbage is the production of tasty shoots. If left these will eventually open into flowers and produce seed for the future. One day we might save the seed but at the moment we savour these fresh shoots. They are generally sweet and...

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How to easily grow the best shallots

Posted in Vegetables | 7 comments

How to easily grow the best shallots

I love using shallots in my recipes. I prefer their mild taste to most onions and the fact that they generally store so well gets the thumbs up from me. Until last year my shallots were not the chubby specimens that I saw in the supermarket. If I was lucky they were the size of a small walnut. I tried investing in more expensive sets, giving them more water, feeding them, putting grit in the soil and still the results were disappointing. So last year I took a tip from Monty Don, on Gardeners World. He set his shallots in trays of compost....

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Out in the garden again. Preparing, polishing, fertilising and dreaming.

Posted in Gardening, General care | 4 comments

Out in the garden again. Preparing, polishing, fertilising and dreaming.

Over the past day or so I’ve spent a few hours making a start on the garden here at the cottage. There’s so much to do! But I’m not panicking about that – just focusing on each job in hand. I love this time of year – heavy with the promise of things to come and the summer to look forward to. There are always surprises too. Plants that I’ve forgotten are there, plants that are doing better this year and off course there’s the occasional plant that hasn’t got through the winter. Simple tasks like clearing away the...

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Deep root trainers: a review

Posted in General care, Reviews | 2 comments

Deep root trainers: a review

I’m way behind with sowing my seeds this year. I was very envious of Celia’s seedlings that I spotted in her greenhouse at Purple Podded Peas HQ this week. So this weekend will be a flurry of seed sowing activity. I think that I’m a bit late for sowing chillies this year, as these really need to be sown in early February but I might try a few alongside the tomato seeds in the electric propagator. Apart from the seeds that can go straight in the ground, I’ll be using seed trays and deep root trainers for everything else. Deep root...

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Celia’s Purple Podded Peas blog birthday – 5 years old today!

Posted in Chickens, Fun, Gardening, Wildlife | 3 comments

Celia’s Purple Podded Peas blog birthday – 5 years old today!

To write a blog for five years is something to be applauded. But to create a blog as inspirational and well written as Celia’s Purple Podded Peas blog takes true talent. “I keep on thinking about what I would have done with all that time if I hadn’t been writing my blog,” mused Celia, “but then I wouldn’t have met other bloggers, or been discovered by galleries and so much more.” Blogging is a social activity. In most cases it’s a celebration of being human in its broadest sense. Celia combines a wide range of activities and...

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Growing and eating yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

Posted in Fruit, Vegetables | 11 comments

Growing and eating yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius)

If you have not cultivated yacon before it would be worth seriously thinking about growing it this year. If you are already growing yacon you will know why! So many of the little known vegetables are a bit of a disappointment – it’s easy to see why they are not in every garden in the land. Yacon is different. It’s delicious. It is a great contrast to most of the winter veg that we chomp through each year. It’s easy to grow and so versatile. Yacon is a perennial tuber from South America. There it is eaten as a fruit. In the UK it is...

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Seed potatoes for 2012

Posted in Vegetables | 11 comments

Seed potatoes for 2012

If I don’t move fairly quickly I’ll miss out on ordering a decent selection of seed potatoes for this year. Last years harvest was good and we enjoyed all the new (to us) varieties that we chose, with one exception. Ezel Blue will never darken our cottage door or vegetable patch again. We ended up throwing them away. International Kidney – from which Jersey Royals were bred – are sweet and delicious. Shape’s Express were a good, fluffy, floury spud. Our Rooster potatoes did well – these need to be boiled in their skins to avoid...

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Check out this great Sungold seed offer and much, much more

Posted in Flowers, Vegetables | 16 comments

Check out this great Sungold seed offer and much, much more

I felt a bit of a pig last spring. Danny adores Sungold tomatoes but I suddenly couldn’t find my wallet when I saw the price on the pack – £2.99 for just ten F1 seeds. Feeling a bit guilty I bought one plant in a sale in late June. Perhaps this plant hadn’t had the coddling that one would usually give a tomato plant of this calibre, as it didn’t produce a great harvest. Just three trusses that were largely green by the end of September. We grew Sungold tomatoes years ago with great results so I decided that this year I’d invest...

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