The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

In the little things

goldfish cavortingOn Friday evening, when I am tired, it’s always the small husbandry tasks that magically make me feel better.

By the end of June, the fish respond to my footfalls as I pass the by pond, rushing to be fed with mouths wide open. Food falls from the sky when they hear the thundering steps. Inca and I tend to linger by the pond, enjoying watching them feed. She loves the ceremony of the feeding of the fish because she gets to sample their diet.

On the fish front the supreme personality is George. A giant now at 25 years old. His restaurant is in a separate area well away from the smaller fish. He is an Old English Carp. His miniature playmates number about a hundred goldfish, cottage carp/goldfish hybrids and many, pretty, multicoloured shubunkin.

Then Inca and I stroll down through the orchard area to the greenhouse. The chickens perk up in their run, which is screened by a long rose border. They want treats but they are only given corn before noon so that the can hoover up everything before dark. That’s when the rats wake up and fancy some.grain.

The greenhouse is the intensive care area of the garden. Things really move here. Massive growth alongside mammoth devastation. That’s the scenario commanded by some spectacular plant eating slugs.

We catch a lot in the milk traps but there is a breed of pentathlon slug that can climb up the side of the greenhouse walls and then absail onto a particularly tasty cucumber plant. The shredded leaves indicate a great restaurant review to other slugs.

Sometimes I lie awake at night imagining coach loads of slugs beaming their way to our garden. Many mornings I would swear that this is happening.

The fifteen tomato plants in the front garden are my last port of call. Inca and I part company inside the front door, as all dogs are banned from the front of the house. It’s a busy road and a tight bend. A curious Min Pin wouldn’t last long out there.

Tomatoes are great on the calming front. Watering tying up and pinching out the side shoots needs a steady hand. There is a frog who lives under the grow bags. After I have watered the third grow bag he wakes up and shifts away from the watering can. I am gentle with frogs and actively breed them, They eat slugs and snails.

The chickens love the tomato side shoots so, if I have some, I collect Inca and we tramp down the garden, to toss the shoots in the chicken run.

In the pond the fish have quickly lined up open mouthed. They are ignored but the chickens rumble down from their perch to savour a late tomato leaf supper snack. As everything is more relaxed and I look up at the sky. It’s generally pinkish at this time of year and this means that it will probably be fine tomorrow.
“Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.”

My mum used to add swiftly, “Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning.”
This old saying generally works for me. This evening it was deep pink. Perfect weekend gardening weather

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Your deck sounds enchanting. I’ve seen something similar in England and it worked very well. The pond became the total focus.

    Although I am not aware of hundreds of frogs in the garden, I often see them in the borders and the damp places in the garden. Particularly frogs that are a year or so old. They need places where they are undisturbed. There is a problem with frog diseases in the UK. We didn’t get nearly so many returning in the spring this year.

  2. My pond is therapy for me. It is where I go to first thing in the morning with my tea or coffee, and quite often the last place before bed.

    We built a small deck with a roof along the rear side of the pond. We put solar lights all around the garden and pond area so at night it is very calming.

    We have a lot of toads but not so many frogs. How do you get them to stick around?

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Apart from slugs, Amanda, we are having problems with the wood pigeon eating the leaves of the baby purple sprouting broccoli. If the woodpigeon ate the slugs at least one problem would be solved!

    Our milk traps are working well but the Min Pins seem to like the taste of rancid milk so we can only use them in the greenhouse now.

  4. Amanda

    ‘Sometimes I lie awake at night imagining coach loads of slugs beaming their way to our garden. Many mornings I would swear that this is happening…’ I believe this is the answer. We must speak with the slug tourist board!

    Red sky at night, shepherd’s delight. Red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning. I love that old saying, and it does work.

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