The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

It’s that time of year again! Seeds and dreams


Seed packets

Seed packets

“How many seed catalogues have you received this month? It must be at least eight!”
Danny gets a bit panicky when the catalogues arrive as he knows that I love buying seeds and can be tempted to splash out in a trice.

I do like the catalogues but actually tend to choose my seeds online. The Real Seed Company is always a first stop – the seeds are always good quality, postage is cheap and the site is fun to browse. This year we are going to try growing yacon. This is a plant from South America and it’s the tubers that you eat. Apparently they are a good substitute for water chestnuts and are also delicious in salads. They are also a perennial plant – if you save some tubers for planting the next year. As you know I’m very keen on perennial plants as, if all goes well, you need only shell out once for them.

We are keen to raise some new edibles and have ordered two types of Amaranth – one for leaves and one for grain. Apparently the latter are very easy to thresh and are a good source of protein. Judging by the photos the leafy amaranth should produce an enormous amount of leaves over a long period.

Last year I ordered ‘Lisse de Meaux’ Long Carrot seeds as ithis variety has good keeping qualities once harvested. I left them in the ground and despite the freezing weather and snow in December they have stood up well and are still crisp and delicious plucked straight from the ground. Needless to say they were top of my list for this year.

I don’t tend to be very lucky with growing peppers – sweet or hot. So I’ve ordered just one variety Nigel’s Outdoors Chilli – early maturing to give them the very best possible chance of producing lots of chilli peppers for apple chilli jelly. I’ll be growing these in the solar tunnel.

Do you remember that I wrote an article on the Gardening Which? Best tasting tomato tests? These were blind tasted by hundreds of members of the public and Sioux was voted the best. After a long search Plants of Distinction was the only UK company that I could find that were selling Sioux tomato seeds. If you live in America these seeds are widely available.

I’ve invested in globe artichoke seeds there (more perennial vegetables!) we have to wait a year for the first harvest but I’m going to put one plant in the solar tunnel to make sure that the first harvest is early.

We can never grow enough runner beans. I have ordered the wonderful old and tasty variety Scarlet Emperor – the kitchen mice ate my saved seed. I’ve also ordered a variety called Czar from The Real Seed Company. I hope to dry seeds from the latter in the autumn to put into casseroles and stews next winter. We are going to use the south facing fence that we uncovered in the front garden last summer as a vertical support for runner beans, sweet peas and borlotti beans. These will be watered using a slow drip water butt system which gets the most out of every drop of water.

I love this time of year on the garden dreaming front. Almost everything seems possible, in my minds eye I see us gliding about the garden with trugs bursting with bug and disease free giant vegetables. Our cottage is filled with of vases of flowers that we have grown ourselves and the larder is choc a bloc with bounty. Of course every year has it’s own successes and failures but that’s what makes gardening such a fascinating, rewarding and addictive pursuit. There is always next year to look forward to and that year has arrived.

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  1. Ah, the delights we get from the simple pleasure of choosing, planting, nurturing our young seedlings in to fully-grown plants is wonderful isn’t it?
    To get a good tasty produce, picked fresh,from our own efforts is great, they’ve done no ‘miles’, we know that there’s nothing ‘bad’ been used to pre-treat them or grow them. Nothing beats the taste of home-grown fruit & veg!
    I too wish that I had a bigger garden with soil, not clay, yet we still managed to get a good yeild.
    I’m pleased that you have tried ‘Kavolo Nero’, I shall try that, being pest free is even better news! Thankyou for that, another choice sorted.
    Also interesting is the Pepper plants from Lidl, hope they have them this year as I’ve never had much success growing them either. Decisions, decisions…….Here’s hoping for a ‘good year’ to everyone, the results will be interesting to hear about. Thanks, Odelle.

  2. Ali at Very Berry

    Yes, I have a visit to the Real Seeds website planned for the weekend. I’ll be buying their Amish Paste tomato seeds for making tomato chutney & sauce – fantastic crop last year. Intending to fill my greenhouse with tomatoes!! Planning on growing Kale and Cavolo Nero too – we love them both – gorgeous with chorizo in a spicy sauce or soup.

  3. I’ve started looking at seed catalogues with childish excitement, although I am ashamed by the plethora of seeds I have left from last year. But there is little so wonderful, so full of potential as a fresh packet of vegetable seeds 🙂

  4. Heather E

    Thanks for the links to Real Seeds and PoD. I’m tempted to try the Alberto’s Locolo chilli pepper and the Trieste White courgette this year. We grew kale for the first time last year and had the best crop of greens ever – really sturdy, pest-free plants. Unfortunately we just didn’t like the taste or texture when it came to eating it. The leafy amaranth looks interesting.

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