The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


We have got a Solar Tunnel polytunnel!

Posted in Discoveries, General care, Reviews | 14 comments

We have got a Solar Tunnel polytunnel!

  It’s all Lynn Keddie’s and Jackie’s fault. They both set the “why not get a polytunnel” seed in my brain. Like everyone else we are becoming very concerned about the rising price of food. It just seems to be creeping up and up. If we invested in a polytunnel we could extend the growing season even further and might be able to become 95% self sufficient in vegetables and a lot of fruit. That is with the help of the freezer, the dehydrator and plain old fashioned bottled fruit and tomatoes. The fledgling flower selling business...

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Beetroot crisps recipe: a way to cope with and enjoy a beetroot glut

Posted in Vegetables, Vegetables and Sides, Vegetarian | 9 comments

Beetroot crisps recipe: a way to cope with and enjoy a beetroot glut

  Vegetable crisps are surprisingly delicious. I was first introduced to them at a party in the 90’s, when a bowl of these were passed round and scoffed. They must have been Tyrrell’s  as this was the first company to manufacture them in the UK. Last year I dehydrated  beetroot slices for the winter and discovered that I had made tasty, healthy crisps. They didn’t last very long once we’d tasted them – we guzzled the winter stores within a week.  This year I’m going to increase our vegetable crisp repertoire and try...

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The potpourri project: How to make a simple solar drier

Posted in Flowers | 2 comments

The potpourri project: How to make a simple solar drier

  Rose petals are an important ingredient in many potpourri mixtures. You can buy rose petals  online at around £15.00 for 500g. That seemed like an awful lot of money until I started drying our own rose petals. I large rose weighing 150g produces approximately 10g of dried petals. I’ve also found these – 2 Ltrs of rose petals but am not sure how much 2 litres of rose petals actually weighs. Luckily, even though we dug up our long rose walk there were a lot of other roses dotted about the garden. Mainly French, climbing and...

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How to make potpourri: starting out

Posted in Flowers, Reviews | 12 comments

How to make potpourri: starting out

  I’ve been interested in drying flowers since I started growing them in earnest this year. This would be a way of extending the ‘sales’ season and getting 100% out of the flowers. Recently a kind reader emailed me and suggested that I dried rose petals as confetti. This would be a great use of our old French climbing roses – these go over fairly quickly so I can only really sell them in bud. I had also been toying with they idea of making a range of really good potpourri – this could be sold all year and wouldn’t be expensive to...

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Do you think you’re happier now than when you were working? Say, all illness and weariness aside?

Posted in Cottage tales | 17 comments

Do you think you’re happier now than when you were working? Say, all illness and weariness aside?

  This is partly a response to a great comment that Paula – who writes an excellent blog – Weeding for Godot– left on yesterday’s post  and I think that answering her questions is worthy of a post of its own. We are in our early 50s. Faced with the probability of living on a small pension we started preparing for our retirement six years ago. Not by investing in extra pension plans but by looking at ways we could enjoy the good things in life for minimal costs. That is why we started keeping bees, curing bacon and ham...

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Store cupboard recipes: spaghetti and veal meatballs in a light tomato sauce

Posted in Beef and Steak and Veal, Pork Ham Bacon Sausages, Rice and Pasta | 5 comments

Store cupboard recipes: spaghetti and veal meatballs in a light tomato sauce

  I had a yearning for spaghetti and meatballs yesterday. I have no idea why as I don’t think that I’ve ever eaten this dish in my life but somehow the combination appealed. I spent a morning in the kitchen creating the sauce. My challenge was to use as many dehydrated ingredients  as possible and some of our home bottled/canned tomatoes from the autumn. Incidentally these are delicious and I will be making much more this year. The meat wasn’t dehydrated – I haven’t tried doing meat yet – but I had found and defrosted some...

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Harvesting the purple sprouting broccoli 2010

Posted in Vegetables | 9 comments

Harvesting the purple sprouting broccoli 2010

  Our farming friends dropped by for afternoon tea on Sunday. They are easy and relaxed and their little girl A is divine. She gave our biscuits the thumbs up – the past selection weren’t up to much and we found little pieces of half eaten biscuit hidden in the kitchen for several days after her last visit. Our kitchen is a messy, lived in room so the biscuits provided a great diversion for the dogs. I had fallen asleep after a late brunch on Sunday and woke with just time enough to fly into Newmarket to buy the biscuits. Yes I know that...

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Flowers from the garden: February 2010

Posted in Flowers | 9 comments

Flowers from the garden: February 2010

  It’s been just over three years since I gave up buying flowers for the cottage. In January 2007  I decided to save a cool £500 a year and not buy those tempting bunches from the supermarket. The first year was quite tough as I didn’t grow many flowers in the garden and I like to have vases of flowers dotted about the cottage. Gradually I’ve overhauled the herbaceous borders and planted more flowering perenials. This year I’m even growing flowers from seed to sell at the garden gate in the summer. Over the years I’ve come to...

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