The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Biodynamic gardening update. One year on.

Posted in General care, Pests and Diseases | 7 comments

Biodynamic gardening update. One year on.

  I’m continuing to practice biodynamic principles this year. Last year, when I followed the planting and harvesting days religiously, I had great results. Good strong plants, more disease resistance and better harvests. With the exception of battling with cabbage white fly that nearly decimated the Sutherland kale*. I tried to save our crop but in the end just threw it out. Didn’t want to ingest the horrid infestation. Too small to be considered added protein. Last autumn I armed myself with yards of insect netting – bought in the...

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How to deter cabbage whitefly organically? New discoveries

Posted in Pests and Diseases | 10 comments

How to deter cabbage whitefly organically? New discoveries

  Cabbage whitefly has been this Summer’s bane and it is causing problems this Autumn too. Cabbage whitefly are different from ordinary whitefly. When you brush against the plants, clouds of minute white winged specs fill the air. On the underside of the leaves you will notice tiny lesions which are sucking the sap out of the leaves. The Sutherland kale resprouted well after hacking away the infected leaves – the whitefly didn’t like the nettle tea at all – but they are back with a vengeance. How can these tiny creatures...

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An infestation of mice

Posted in Discoveries, Pests and Diseases | 26 comments

An infestation of mice

  We have mice in the chicken run, mice in the garden, mice in the larder, the kitchen, the bedrooms. In fact there are mice everywhere. Looking ultra cute and messing up our cottage big time. Something had to be done. I tackled the larder first. Trapped one within minutes and no more came. Just one mouse had created havoc in there. QD had a great deal on Tala Le Parfait style jars so I invested in loads of them. Now nothing in our larder is contained in a box or a bag. It looks pretty too. “Catching mice is easy peasy.” I thought as I...

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Cabbage whitefly: can it be controlled with nettle tea?

Posted in Pests and Diseases, Vegetables | 5 comments

Cabbage whitefly: can it be controlled with nettle tea?

  I’ve just discovered that cabbage white fly is attacking our Sunderland kale.  This is my first year growing this variety and it had been romping along – growing quite tall and bushy. Last week I noticed that the strong green leaves were yellowing and by yesterday they were looking very grim. When I touched them yesterday clouds of tiny white mothlike creatures flew into the air. Apparently these creatures are cabbage whitefly. They only attack members of the brassica family. I noticed a few on the Tuscan Kale last autumn but had...

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Biodynamic gardening update: July 2010

Posted in Fruit, General care, Pests and Diseases, Vegetables | 20 comments

Biodynamic gardening update: July 2010

  “It’s nearly the end of July. Surely there’s something we can eat from the garden?” Danny was exasperated – forgetting that we have already munched loads from the garden in the past few months. Spuds, orach (German Mountain spinach), calabrese, turnips, broad beans, raspberries, strawberries, tayberries, loganberries, peas, lettuces and salad leaves. But then I twigged that he’s desperate to start harvesting his favourite.  Runner beans. They are a bit late this year but a careful examination of the beans revealed that they...

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Companion planting: flowers with vegetables

Posted in General care, Pests and Diseases | 9 comments

Companion planting: flowers with vegetables

It’s all very well growing 2000 flower plants but having started planting them out in the herbaceous borders it was clear that I was quickly running out of space. Some of my large swathes of perennial plants just had to go. I cut the more rampant ones back and dumped the ones that I didn’t like 100%.  I also took a long hard look at the shadier border that I’ve never really bothered with and moved any plant that can cope with semi shade to that location. But still I didn’t have enough space. Then I had a brain wave. If marigolds are...

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Experimenting with intensive potato planting

Posted in General care, Pests and Diseases, Vegetables | 5 comments

Experimenting with intensive potato planting

  Danny has been frantically busy for weeks now. So he swapped cooking for seven nights running (simple quick food) if I finished off his potato border and planted the spuds. As you know I’ve started practicing biodynamic principles in the garden this year. I’m hoping for an increased harvest and a healthier garden all round. I read what John Soper had to say about potatoes in his book Bio-dynamic Gardening –lots of good advice but he didn’t give spacings. So I consulted my gardening bible Joy Larkom’s Grow Your Own...

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And the culprit eating my pea shoots was…

Posted in Pests and Diseases | 19 comments

And the culprit eating my pea shoots was…

  I’ve been busy tackling the mystery of what was eating my pea shoots. These peas were planted in October under fleece. They germinated well and were at the stage where they needed to be supported by twigs. At first I suspected slugs. My open beer traps didn’t attract a single slug. Then Cath gave me the tip that traps need to be covered and I remembered that years ago my mum gave me the ultimate in slug traps. I found it in the greenhouse and set it up with a trill. But even the mighty Slug X beer fest didn’t attract a single...

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