The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Plotting, planning and planting for a future


Juicy home grown plums

Juicy home grown plums

“You’ve been led astray by Mark Diacono.”
“No. He’s just shown me new ways of investing in our future!”
There’s no sensible repost to that. If being led astray means that we have harvests of great edibles in the future, count me in. Gilbert agrees. At the moment he’s doing the same, buying trees, fruit canes and shrubs to fill the gaps in their range of fruit. He’s also bought some nut trees as they are a great source of protein. Nuts will have to wait until next year for me as the coffers are not quite as full as I’d like them to be.

This year’s investments will all eventually produce fruit, perennial vegetables and spices for us. Much more reliable than the stock market! A lot of the plants are just sticks at the moment but I’m optimistic – enthusiastically planting them with love and lots of organic matter. The seeds are germinating steadily. We are lucky as we have a big garden but I’m still finding that I have to be a bit creative on how I actually fit them all in.

The great thing about fruit is that it can fuel so many projects. Of course it can just be eaten raw but it can be dehydrated, bottled, frozen, made into jam, chutney and of course wine. Soft fruit is extremely expensive to buy so any excess is great for selling or bartering. BTW if you have some spare cash, invest in some Polka raspberry canes. They are an autumn fruiting strain that is relatively new. The bear more fruit and for longer than Autumn Bliss (the winner of best autumn raspberries until these appeared). They have won awards for taste too.

Why am I doing all this?

I am concerned about the future. The rising price of oil and the resulting hike in the price of everything. We have been trying to become more self sufficient for seven years and I realise that we are so very lucky – having had years to build up some skills without too much pressure. But now I’m firing on all cylinders. Trying to fill in the gaps and prepare for a very different world. It has become something of an obsession. It’s good to be focussing on moving towards a brighter future.

The plotting and planning is fun. And the main focus is on sustainability. I’ve been reading widely on creating the best compost, growing my own fertilisers and insecticides, rainwater/grey water harvesting and getting the best out of all our space. This year I’m planning to experiment more with vertical gardening which could add another 20% to our output.

All this takes time. Having been off sick since July 2009 I have the time and, as always, am happy to share my discoveries here.

There’s one book that I’ve been reading recently that has given me lots of ideas and inspiration on the sustainability front. I will be reviewing the book in a few days time – The Permaculture Garden by Graham Bell.

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  1. Maggie L.

    “The Permaculture Garden” is great – also try “The Earth Care Manual” by Patrick Whitefield; The SeedSavers’ Handbook by Jeremy Cherfas and Michel and Jude Fanton; and “Keeping Food Fresh” by the Gardeners and Farmers of Terre Vivante. And subscribe to “Permaculture” magazine….loads of inspiration there.

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