The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Kitchen Garden update September 2009


Photo: Purple sprouting brocolli in Autumn

Photo: Purple sprouting brocolli in Autumn

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 biggest caterpillars and hundreds of dolls sized beasties on cabbage leaves were savoured behind the wire in the chicken run.

This is the first year that we are trying to grow vegetables all year round. Normally we plant garlic and broad (fava) beans in late autumn and the sprouting broccoli is planted out in July for a Spring harvest. But this year we decided to expand our horizons as home grown vegetables taste so much better than the ones in the shops. Ok they do require some time and attention but the savings are massive.

Taking account of the cost of the seed, fertilisers and mains water when our butts run dry I reckon that we are saving around £900 a year on vegetables alone. When I look at the soft fruit in our freezers and bottled fruit in the barn I reckon that we are saving at least £1,200 overall. Before we even count the chutneys, piccalilli, pickles, jellies, jams, fruit cheeses and butters.

For the winter we have lots of Brussels sprouts (Bedford Fillbasket), luckily maturing at different rates. Six different types of cabbage, four varieties of kale, winter cauliflowers and Swiss chard. Our leeks are beginning to fatten from biro refills to biro sized specimens. We also have successional sowings of salad and stir fry leaves. Our runner beans are just into their second flush, and we are harvesting the last of the calabrese and summer cauliflowers. The latter taste so delicate and sweet – completely different to their burly supermarket cousins.

If all goes well we will be feasting on early autumn planted carrots in the Spring, along with white and purple sprouting broccoli and early peas. The cash savings are good but the satisfaction is huge.

And this is just the start of a very exciting journey.

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Jan

    I picked this up by lingering on American food sites!

    Hello Kate

    What a marvellous idea. I happen tio have some diving rods in Jalopy.

    Hello Ellsea

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Re Autumn sown carrots – I’m not going to cold frame mine. But I’m going to protect my salad/stir fry leaves.

    Hello Belinda

    Brown turkey figs are delicious. Great that your peach tree is already flowering. Good luck.

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