Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Food, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Permaculture Cottage ~ Dividing Rhubarb, Growing Trees and Composting!

Lots of the rhubarb has been lifted and divided recently and planted into the new beds, all loaded with fresh compost from the heaps stacked last year.

Rhubarb is an easy and early fruiting plant to grow. Although the leaves are toxic, various parts of the plants have medicinal and culinary uses.  In culinary use, fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong tart taste; most commonly the plant’s stalks are cooked and used in pies and other foods for their tart flavour. Personally, there is nothing equal to a Rhubarb Crumble, or, one of my absolute favourites…Rhubarb Jam!

Did you know that in England, the first rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in dark sheds dotted around the noted “Rhubarb Triangle” of Wakefield, Leeds, and Morley,a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk?

The New Vegetable Beds

The new beds are coming along well…planted out with Chard, Cucumber, Parsley, Tomato and Chives…for starters! I have spread wood ash recently on the beds and continue to build up with compost.

Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity, when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Raw chard is perishes quite fast, so it’s best to pick only when about to be used!

Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked  or sautéed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked Spinach. I use Chard a lot in my home made soups and curries and as a replacement for Spinach.

Flowering Oregano and Chives

Both grow like weeds here at Bealtaine Cottage, with lots of Oregano now coming up in the gravel driveway. Great for drying and using in sauces and soups and breads!

More Trees Please!

Trees are planted all the year around here at the smallholding. Many are grown from seed and potted on several times before eventual planting out. Many are rescued from the roadside verges and gravel paths. Lots of these trees are given away to those who show an interest in planting. There is one thing for sure though, the Earth needs more trees. Trees protect her.

Compost this morning at Bealtaine

Now working through the second heap and already filled up the first again, so am busy as you can see!

Composting as a recognized practice dates to at least the early Roman Empire since Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79).

Traditionally, composting was to pile organic materials until the next planting season, at which time the materials would have decayed enough to be ready for use in the soil. This is the method I follow and it works every time as you can see!  The advantage of this method is that little working time or effort is required from the composter and it fits in naturally with agricultural practices in temperate climates. Personally I see no disadvantages in this technique. There is no real exposure to excessive rainfall, as the heaps are thatched with lots of straw to overwinter in peace and harmony with all the hibernating insects and frogs!

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Posted in Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Culture, Ecology, Folklore, Gardening, History, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Lughnasa and the Celtic Calendar

The feast of Lugh, Lughnasa, or Lughnasadh happenssoon…on the eve, which is the 31st of July. A time for a bonfire and celebrations of the harvest…celebrations here at Bealtaine Cottage will be focused around a rather small outdoor fire but with the equivalent gusto of the eve that’s in it!

 The Festival of Lughnasadh

This was  said to have been begun by the god Lugh as a funeral feast commemorating his foster-mother, Tailtu, who died of exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland for agriculture. Little changed there then, as most of the agricultural work in many African countries is carried out by women!

In days of old, Lughnasadh was a favoured time for  trial marriages that would generally last a year and a day, with the option of ending the contract before the new year, or later formalizing it as a more permanent marriage.

 Lughnasa is the first of the three autumn harvest festivals. The Autumn Equinox and Samhain, or Halloween, being the other two.

Already there is a feel of Autumn in the air and can be seen in the plant life as harvests begin and fruits ripen on the trees. The days have shortened, now over a month past the longest day.

Here, plums ripen on one of the trees at Bealtaine Cottage and nettles produce their seeds…

And…

Flowers like this Perscaria Bistorta, a late flowering perennial, begin to show a magnificence beyond their humble beginnings!

Irish calendar

is a pre-Christian, Celtic system of keeping the year and still in popular use today to define the beginning and length of the day, the week, the month, the seasons, quarter days, and festivals.

  The meteorological seasons  begin on March 1, June 1, September 1, and December 1.

The Irish Calendar observes the equinoxes and solstices and has a more realistic seasonal observance…

  • Spring – February, March, April.
  • Summer – May, June, July.
  • Autumn – August, September, October.
  • Winter – November, December, January.

These seasons are much more in keeping with the observations I make here at Bealtaine Cottage and I would abide by these dates rather than any other.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Ecology, Folklore, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees

Permaculture Cottage ~ Many Magical Trees

The Life Force of Trees

It was a common belief, long ago, that many conditions could be cured by bringing the patient into contact with the powerful life force or MANA represented by trees…

Nearly 800 trees have been planted here at Bealtaine and there is something so awesome about trees that makes me want to get more land and keep on planting. 

Today has seen the transplanting of another 20 or so Birch trees, seedlings rescued from the road verge before the tractors mow the grass.

More Buddleias for FREE!

Managed to pull up 3 tiny Buddleias from the gravel around the cottage…gravel makes an ideal seeding ground for many plants and trees.

These too have been potted on and will make fine specimens for planting out next year.

Birch Trees

This is a little Birch sapling planted only a few weeks ago and already grown over a foot in height and spread.

Grass cuttings have been spread around the base to deter weeds and provide food for the fast growing tree.

Apple Trees and Verbascum

Apple trees under-planted with Blackcurrants and perennial flowers…here is the Verbascum in bloom with Geranium  and Calendula amongst others.

Many Magical Trees…

Willow, Birch, Copper Beech, Twisted Willow, Oak and Pine, all planted in very close proximity to one another…this is the permaculture way and very quickly excludes weeds and provides an excellent source of coppiced wood for the stove.

Ash trees were traditionally used in Folk Medicine against poison and evil. Lightning runs to the Ash…’Avoid the Ash, it courts the flash!’

Long ago, in many parts of the Highlands of Scotland, on the birth of a child, the midwife would take a green stick from the Ash tree and hold it in the fire. As the heat worked on one end of the stick, the sap would ooze from the other. This was administered to the newborn baby as the first liquid to pass its lips!

I write about, film and photograph Mother Earth, for Mother Earth, opening little portals of healing energy all over the world.

Blessings and thanks for your support.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Books, Climate, Food, Growing Food, Herbs, Ireland, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Permaculture Cottage ~ A Summer Feast on a Wet Evening

Lots of Parsley and loads of eggs…yes, it’s summer and the food is in plentiful supply here on this Permaculture smallholding.

An easy way of preserving food for the leaner times is to use it to cook and freeze, or bottle or…anyway, you know what I mean…just don’t let it go to waste!

Here is one of my favourite fast foods, devised by Rose Elliot, my favourite Vegetarian Cookery writer…Parsley Burgers.

I made these on the Cook and Dine Evening I hosted on Monday evening at Cleen Hall, Knockvicar, and, they were very well received!
Anyway, here’s the recipe…
********************************
2 eggs / 6 heaped tablespoons of breadcrumbs / 1 small onion, chopped / 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley / salt and fresh ground black pepper / oil for shallow frying.

*********************************

Add the breadcrumbs, onion and parsley to the beaten egg and season to taste.

Pour oil into pan to cover the base thinly and heat.

Spoon the mixture into the pan and fry for about 3 minutes on either side, until crisp.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve with salad or baked beans!

As they freeze really well and there is a glut of all the ingredients here at Bealtaine, I have made dozens of them to freeze and save as a fast food…

AN UPDATE ON THE GRAPEVINE…I planted outdoors…it’s doing really well, so far!

It had over-wintered at Bealtaine and endured being frozen in its pot for weeks on end, survived well and is now set to be a successful outdoor grape…

A Forecast for the Winter Ahead…

Lots of logs continue to be stockpiled for what is going to be a very cold winter indeed.

Seriously, now is the time to prepare!

If you live in the British Isles, try to get hold of a wood burning stove now and start your woodpile.

Ash can be burned without seasoning!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Permaculture, Sligo, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Abundance…

Harvests continue to develop and flowers bloom at Bealtaine Smallholding. Flowers like these Sedums require little or no attention and soon fill out a space.

White Buddleia in full bloom, though there are few butterflies around at the moment. This tree, well, bush really, serves as an air island for the birds nesting in the box nearby.

Pots of Curly Kale, Chard and Pumpkins, some of which will be moved across to the new beds in the Vegetable Garden. All these have been planted in pots filled with home made compost.

The grapevine, grown from a cutting about four years ago, has produced well this season. This was pruned hard at the end of the winter and then lightly at the end of spring. Well developed bunches of grapes have set and continue to thrive.

Another good year for the apple harvest. This part of Ireland is great for growing fruit, as rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrant, plums, apples et al appear to thrive!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Thoughts, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Inspired Ideas for Gardeners

8am this morning. The steps that lead down to the front garden…and on the tree, a weather-proof mirror and some bamboo chimes. These make the stsrt of the garden walk an interactive experience for all. Few can resist looking at the reflections of the garden behind them, in the mirror, or shaking the chimes. The melodious sounds follow as one descends the stone steps!

This small mirror is made from a lightweight metal and has been wired onto the tree…which is an Alder that has been pollarded to remain compact and umbrella shaped. Alders are fast growing and results can be achieved rapidly…in less than 3 years in this case!

White Buddleia and Bamboo form a natural gateway into another small garden at Bealtaine. The table is an old cable reel, disguarded by the electric company. There is a display of large shells on top, that would otherwise just be collecting dust indoors!

Another naturally shaped path and gateway, marked with an old piece of driftwood, hammered into the ground and topped off with another indoor ornament, of which I had too many! Now, scattered throughout the gardens here at Bealtaine and better appreciated!

Avoid straight lines where you can and plant in clumps with edges that can be rounded off easily using a mulch…I use grass clippings as this also feeds the soil. Place pieces of sculpture where you can…in this case an old fountain, now used as a planter with sedums. Sedums require NO looking after at all!

Another idea for a planter…stones, encircled and topped out with soil, then simply planted into. In this case, Hypericum.

Just a few ideas, but food for thought for lots of your own. And bear in mind that the best are recycled!

Posted in Beltane, Birds, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, History, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Winter

Permaculture Cottage ~ Compost, Potatoes, The Fairy Tree and a Cold Winter to Come!

Potatoes growing by the east side of the shed. Did you know that there are about five thousand potato varieties worldwide?                            Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten.  However, I left potatoes in the ground over the course of last winter, when all was frozen solid for six long weeks…and they were dug out after the defrost and were perfect! I think it may have been the layer of straw that was atop the ground!

Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which, of course fast became a monoculture among poorer people… I strive hard to avoid planting all the tubers in one area, preferring to plant here and there in a positive way to avoid disease…and it appears to have worked thus far!

Now in its seventh year, Bealtaine smallholding has achieved new heights of growth, meaning that compost is plentiful. This is because there is so much to cut back and use to build compost heaps…I have made two so far and am still using the compost made last year, with loads to go!

At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more. This is the method I use and it has benefitted Bealtaine well! The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. Any parts of the heap that have not degraded sufficiently can be added to the next heap…a process I indulge in!

Permaculture planting lends itself really well to bountiful compost production, so even if you do not keep animals for manure, it is still quite possible to maintain a high degree of healthy and fertile soil, using plant compost alone…however, a few hens are easy and happy and productive little workers to have on any smallholding!

Upcycling baked bean tins…making a few holes in the bottom and planting with sedums…these are two years old now and quite attractive when grouped together like this, don’t you think?

Lots of berries on the Hawthorn. last year was the same and I predicted a very cold and long winter…I forecast more of the same for the coming winter based on much evidence around me…

Crataegus,or Hawthorn is one of my favourite trees here at Bealtaine and I have grown all I have planted from seed. Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, and the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects.

In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn  ‘marks the entrance to the otherworld’ and is strongly associated with the fairies.   Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom, however during this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush or Bealtaine…Irish meaning May.    This warning persists to modern times; it has been questioned by folklorist Bob Curran whether the ill luck of the De Lorean Motor Company was associated with the destruction of a fairy thorn to make way for a production facility.

Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as ‘rag trees’, for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals. ‘

When all fruit fails, welcome haws’ was once a common expression in Ireland.

Posted in Current Affairs, Food, Gaia, Growing Food, Politics, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Monsanto:the global takeover of our food…

Fresh eggs from my hens.

Food.

Without food we would die.

How fundamental to our existence is that then?

I grow lots of food here at Bealtaine Cottage.

I grow it on trees, bushes and plants…most of which are grown from seed here at Bealtaine and saved here and in the locality.

But, if the story emerging from Iraq is anything to go by, then soon, I will be breaking the law!

For all the seed I save will be done so illegally. Monsanto want to issue patents  

http://t.co/idDWlzQ

on all seed and are being aided by the US government…check it out for yourself!

Complacency is the biggest weapon they have, that and ignorance.

So it behoves us all to become very educated about what Monsanto have done in other countries…a kind of trial run.

Thousands of poor Indian farmers have killed themselves because of the corner that Monsanto knowingly and greedily backed them into!

I urge you all, now, to arm yourself with as much information as you can find on Monsanto and their global practices.

Leave any comment here on this site, complete with links to any info you come across…I will put this into further blogs and post on Twitter.

Don’t play into the hands of the global elite…empower with knowledge and discuss with all!

 

This post was written in July 2011 and it is happening as I feared it would!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Books, Climate, Food, Garden, Gardening, Herbs, History, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Knitting and Reading

The weather has forced me indoors a lot recently, encouraging a hive of activity that includes knitting and sorting cupboards and reading… I’ve just completed this scarf for someone who wanted me to knit for her in these colours and in natural wool. So hard to get a scarf knit in natural 100% wool these days apparently. So there it is, completed and ready for collection.

I enjoyed the task so much, I decided to use all the leftover wool and knit one for myself…

This is a great book I’m enjoying reading at present…picked up in a charity shop for 50cents. it’s amazing just how much info I’ve gleaned from this so far and Im only on the second chapter!

Finished reading this book a few days ago and again, so much info and fascinating facts that have been forgotten and yet are so useful for us today…simple things like the fact that a cobweb, placed over a cut, will stem the bleeding and help to heal the wound! Soldiers going into battle hundreds of years ago carried a tiny box with cobwebs inside to treat deep cuts inflicted by the sword!

As the weather has blown a gale outside, I’ve been in the kitchen making chutney and curries…freezing the curries for ready meals later on. Imagine having to light the stove in July, but the weather has really been that bad!

Bad weather means I get to sit and drink tea and read…so there are advantages to be had from the wettest day!

I picked these flowers from the garden last week and as you can see, the display includes Dill. Over recent days the scent of the Dill has changed from a liquorice smell to a very sweet coconut scent and it is gorgeous!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Ecology, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Hare and the Ducks

Managed to snap a pic of the baby Hare who has come to live at Bealtaine, just as he emerged from the shelter of the underneath of the shed this morning.

He wasn’t at all fazed as I stood near the back door snapping away with my camera.

There are 3 ducks staying here at Bealtaine for a short break.

The hens are very intolerant of them and boss them around continually.

If the weather dries up any time soon I will get all the wood on the sheds painted.

Harvesting continues in and around the Blackcurrant bushes.

For the moment I am freezing them.

This is a good way of collecting and saving daily.

The ducks are sticking together…but will be happy to return home on Thursday…I’m sure!

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Posted in Abundance, Beltane, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage…Groups of Plants and Jack….

Jack has settled into Bealtaine very well and now runs around the cottage playing with anything he can steal…usually one of my socks, scarves or shoes…

Highly scented Buddleia, drooping under their own weight, hang down after the storms of recent days.

No butterflies as the weather has been so bad recently…hoping all that will change at the weekend when warmer days are promised!

Intense permaculture planting of Bamboo, Spirea, Horse Chestnut, Buddleia, Dogwood and Greengage, bullying and pushing weeds away from them…

More intense planting of Gunnera Manicata, Cherry and Ribes.

The permaculture gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage have lots of rain and like to pretend to be a rainforest!

Little Gatherings…

Hypericum, Sedge, Pine and Beech, with Michaelmas Daisies coming slowly into flower, rather too early I think!

The tall pink plumes of the Spirea and the long lasting flowers of the Lysimachia Punctata make a lovely show despite the rain and wind!

Posted in Food, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Just Sunday Pics…

Curly Kale and Parsley growing in pots at the back of Bealtaine Cottage.

The flowers on the Lady’s Mantle near the tunnel have all flopped outwards, but they remain beautiful…

The flower on the Mullein has begun to open…near the vegetable garden.

Potatoes and blackcurrants and even a little orchid…can you see it on the right?

Today has been very stormy…this was yesterday! The vegetable garden and tunnel.

 

 

 

Posted in Abundance, Eco-Living, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ Passionate Gardeners and Outdoor Living

Passionate and gardening are two words that seem to fit seemlessly together.

There were three visitors to Bealtaine this morning and as walking around became enthused to talk of their own gardens! One had brought a photo album to show me…and it was well worth a look, as there were shots taken from just about every angle of her small garden in Dublin. it reminded me of a garden I once tended in London. It was an old garden, created when the house was first built around 1795, so the porportions were conducive to the size of the house…a Georgian Artisan Cottage.

We all had tea on the veranda, deciding that the outdoors was where it was at!

When I lived in London it became a Saturday ritual to go to the local park and the Teahouse therein for an early morning coffee…just to be outdoors! Summer and Winter alike, the same glorious ritual applied and more often than not it was shared with friends and family.

It is always the little cafe or teashop I go in search of…the big franchise, multi-national , always the same, just does NOT do it for me…!

Trying to control nature is not an aspect of personality of the passionate gardener…well, not that I have found! Valerian has found its own way up by the side of the tool-shed and there it will continue! Putting down a mulch or a sheet to stop growth of weeds is as much control as I have it in me to exercise…apologetically I may add…

Mulching around a garden sculpture, (home-made), using freshly shredded waste…

And mulch will keep the no-dig beds looking neat and work-free!

Some of the new beds this morning…mulched paths in between work really well and cost zero to make!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Summer, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Thursday Photo-Diary

A Celtic emblem on my back door. The paint on the door is well scratched and there is a definite patina of life therein. Dogs and children, all attempting to enter the cottage with little patience and no time to wait! I know I have to paint it soon, because the weather demands it, but then this testament to life and laughter and fun and games will be erased…

Moving the tyres in the vegetable garden is a milestone reached this week…converting all to log, deep beds and narrow paths…easier to mulch and now that the soil has improved, I can do this. It has taken 7 years of work and patience, but it has finally paid off!

Apples continue to swell and grow and are, each one, quite perfect. These trees have never had any sprays or chemicals of any kind at all, yet continue to give perfect harvest every single year. Nature knows best!

The beautiful flowers of the remarkable Comfrey plant. This generous herb is not just a pretty face!

Look how well this tiny spider manages to camouflage itself on the Cotoneaster bush…Nature is so very clever!

Flowers have opened on the Fuschia…almost an adopted native plant here in the west of Ireland…

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Culture, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, Growing Food, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Vegan

Permaculture Cottage…the Acres of the PermaGoddess

Three acres of Permaculture and seven years of growing from scratch…monoculture emptiness.

A journey via Permaculture that has led me to give up smoking, become a Vegetarian and evolve into a Vegan.

Happy to be an Economic Terrorist…I rarely shop, so that makes me an enemy of the Corporate State…and anyone who wants to rant about me being a Conspiracy Theorist…well, I live in the real world and watched as Ireland was handed over to the Corporations, mostly banks, bankers and greed-mongers…if this resonates with you then be prepared to be dismissed as a C.T.!

You can’t buy anything on this site…everything I advocate comes for free and I’m happy to welcome visitors to this Permaculture Smallholding and show them around, even send them off with free plants and advice on how to do permaculture.

A willow arbour. Free. No Garden centre involved here! No money, just the abundance and love and goodness that is Nature…beyond money and the Merchants of Greed!

And places to sit made from upcycled castaway wood and concrete blocks…free!

Hens at Bealtaine today…Battery eggs are degraded food…the corporations will degrade you because you are little more to them than battery hens!

The Permaculture Polytunnel this morning. Spilling over with food and seeds…Seeds are the bankable currency of the VERY near future! Why do think the US government shares the control of GM seeds with that Monster Monsanto?

Nature is perfect…so why does all the corps., want to control and degrade her?

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, cows, Ecology, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Permaculture Cottage ~ Herbs and Cows

I have a fascination with cows.

They are very sociable and family oriented animals.

These belong to my neighbour, Gabriel, here in Ballyfermoyle.

They are contented and very laid back.

At this time of year the land is over-run with wild herbs and flowers and cows are out in the fields all the time.

It’s fascinating to watch them…and they watch me…and Jack, but mostly Jack!

Isn’t the little brown calf and the white one coming along behind, just adorable?

I stood by the fence for about half an hour and they were as interested in me as I was in them.

The flowers of the Rosa Rugusa are in full bloom at the moment and already quite a few hips have formed.

These are packed with Vitamin C and used to make syrup, amongst other foods.

They also make lovely additions to Seasonal wreaths and bouquets.

A spider has encapsulated this plant inside a web, all silky and delicate.

I am reading a book about life in Medieval Times in England and was fascinated to read how soldiers going off to battle would carry a tiny box with them at all times, filled with…spider’s webs!

These would be used, very successfully apparently, to stem the flow of blood from a wound.

Amazing!

Willow arches in a quiet spot near the vegetable garden.

The sun setting over Bealtaine Cottage…

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Food, Gaia, Garden, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Lough Allen Basin, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage Daily Diary

It’s been a really busy day!  After making the decision to re-design the vegetable garden and move the tyres…and this was several months ago, I finally got my act together to make a start on the work.

The Rhubarb in the first line of tyres had become embedded as they had not been divided for about four years or so…it was time to use brute force!

Stage one complete…next I will manure and mulch heavily while the soil is warm. Straw on the top will suppress weeds and keep the heavy rains from leaching the soil!

I’m doing this now because it is the right time and a good way of expanding the veggie garden!

Although it’s taken me most of the day, I’m glad to have got it done, finally, as there’s nothing worse than putting things off…now that can be ticked off my ‘to-do,’ list! Anyway, it’s been a lovely day for the work, though now have quadruple the freckles on my face that I started the day with!

Peas are growing well and ready for picking. It’s a task in itself just keeping the harvest up tp date on my list of work…still, that’s not a bad complaint really now, is it?

Before I came in for the evening, I picked a big bunch of flowers…Shasta Daisies, Dill and Lavender and it smells as good as it looks!

Posted in Abundance, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Uncategorized

Permaculture Sunday…Apples, Sweetcorn and more seedlings

More logs wait to be carted around to the barn and stacked ready for the cold winter days ahead!

Valerian grown from seed continues to flower and will do all summer and into the autumn all the time that the seedheads are removed…

Something else grown from seed here at Bealtaine…this gorgeous Poppy this morning in full bloom, all red and frilly like the Folly Bergere!

Blackcurrants and Sage in the Nursery area, again grown from seeds, so 100% permaculture at Bealtaine plants to come. Both of these plants grow very easily from seed scattered into limestone gravel and left to overwinter, before being pricked out and potted on…how simple is that?

This is one of the many apple trees snapped this morning. The harvest is coming on well, with plans for lots of Apple Chutney! The trees continue to be fed with mulched comfrey and nettles.

Painted Mountain, Native American Sweetcorn is a real success in the tunnel, with lots of heads coming to maturity. Definitely one to save seed from!

The Aloe Vera on the sitting room window has had babies!

Posted in Culture, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Growing Food, History, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Politics, Roscommon, Sligo, Sustainable Living, Thoughts

Procul omen abesto! Ovid and the Days to Come…

Far be that fate from us…said Ovid over 2,000 years ago…

The Nursery at Bealtaine Cottage

It got me thinking of all I thought would not happen when I first took up growing…

Potting up in the polytunnel

We would not destroy our lifeline, the soil, for all that is necessary for life lies within…

And yet this is happening all over the developed world, and, everywhere else too!

Did you see the gigantically terrifying Dust-cloud that enveloped Phoenix, Arizona?

Reminiscent of the Dust-Bowl catastrophes of the hungry thirties…

In Permaculture we mulch…and mulch and…mulch! Building up layers of soil and goodness.

dealing with slugs, the seaweed methodThere is little need to dig, disturbing the ecological balance of the soil.

weed suppressing with cardboard

The fate that awaits us all is a depleted soil and thence a depleted Earth and this is happening every day in corporate controlled Agriculture…and there is a Land-Grab going on, have no doubt about that!

The Corporate monsters are on the march!

We must all take our positions in making a stand against this and we can!

As consumers we are powerful, very powerful indeed!

Potager bed at Bealtaine Cottage

I was reminded on Twitter this morning of this when reading some of the tweets accumulated overnight and one of them was about buying local, another about imported foods from parts of Africa where hunger is now ravaging the people…think on…

Hazelnuts beginning to ripen here at Bealtaine…this is a food to forage as well as grow and forms a good source of protein for the vegan or vegetarian.

These store well and can be ground or minced and added to burgers!

And a few more words from Ovid…”Video meliora, proboque; Deteriora sequor,” which translated means, simply…”I see the better way, and approve it; I follow the worse.”

We have choices.

We have the power.

Roses at Bealtaine Cottage

We can be the change we want to see…

Posted in Autumn, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Permaculture at the Cottage.

SWEET JOE PYE

A perennial, growing near the apple tree pictured in previous blog, it grows tall and flowers quite soon as you can see.  Otherwise known in Latin as Eutrochium Purpureum is a clump forming plant. it can grow to 2 metres high…wow, indeed it does too! The leaves grow to 30 cm (12 in) long and have a somewhat wrinkled texture. Plants  attract a lot of activity from insects that feed on the nectar produced by the flowers.

Mulching

This clump grows well beneath the Copper Beech tree and wedged between it and the Apple tree. I recently mulched around the area with cardboard and straw in oreder to clear some ground for planting out this Autumn.

I once spent Autumn in Toronto in Canada and that was definitely the most gloriously colourful place ever for that season…it took my breath away!

Roses and Willow

Roses, Willow and Copper Beech…some of my favourite plants. I must take lots of cuttings this Autumn and grow these Roses on! I took some last year and they all did well!

Planting Together

Why is it that plants like to be together? They obviously thrive well like this! Perhaps they are aware that they are not alone…

The Butterfly Bush

The white Buddleia near the Barn is coming into bloom. Soon the Butterflies will be around and about!

Posted in Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Organic Garden, Roscommon, Sligo, Uncategorized

Permaculture Notes from Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ), a member of the sunflower family, has been used for centuries in European folk medicine.

This sweet smelling flower is commonly associated as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers.

The name Feverfew is derived from the Latin word for fever…febrifugia, meaning, fever reducer!

It grows really easily from seed, self-seeding all over the gravel here at Bealtaine Cottage.

This is growing in a pot near the back door of the house, on the southern side.

These are rambling roses, climbing and pushing their way across a willow arch I made to help support them last year.

Roses are best known as ornamental plants grown for their flowers in the garden.

There are several different varieties here, though I don’t really know the names, as I have grown them from slips, mostly purloined from other gardens!

Roses are  used for commercial perfumery and commercial cut flower crops.

Some are used as landscape plants and for hedging.

Although Roses have minor medicinal uses, the fruits, or Rose-hips tell a different story altogether, most famous for the syrup made from them and fed to babies!

This is a little apple tree bought by my mother and planted into a quiet little spot on the land behind the cottage.

The apple is from the species, Malus domestica, in the rose family (Rosaceae).

It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits.

The tree originated in Western Asia, where its wild ancestor, the Alma, is still found today.

There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples.

Cultivars vary in their yield and the ultimate size of the tree, even when grown on the same rootstock.

This particular cultivar is a miniature apple tree.

At least 55 million tonnes of apples are grown worldwide, annually. China produces about 35% of this total.

The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 7.5% of world production.

Iran is third, followed by Turkey, Russia, Italy and India.

Plants in pots and tubs at the back of the cottage today.

I noticed the birds coming down to feed on the flowers of the pansies.

The red and pink plant at the front is the little plant, Herb Robert.

Another rose growing here at Bealtaine…

Posted in Fairies, Inspiration, Permaculture, PermaGoddess, Summer, Uncategorized, Woodland

And After the Weekend…Bealtaine Cottage in the West of Ireland

Monday morning, balmy, warm and bright. Midsummer has passed and the work outdoors continues unabated. Sheds to be cleared and painted, as well as fences to be fixed and preserved. Lots of blackcurrants still to be harvested…

The beautiful eerie light that falls across the land after the solstice, almost autumnal, bright and silvery and very romantic.

The heavenly scent of honeysuckle, or woodbine, is captured on the gentlest of breezes. The Fairy dell woodland is permeated with the sweet aroma.

The trees and ivy have merged into an elegant repose. Ferns have grown high and luxurious.

Light and shadows begin to play tricks on the eyes.

Posted in Abundance, Baking, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Fairies, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, polytunnel gardening, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

A Sunday Ramble around Bealtaine Cottage Smallholding, Ireland

My visitors have left. Home made wine and pocheen, lots of home made vegan food and cakes and talk into the wee small hours…what better way to share a weekend!

Sunday afternoon. The first in July. Bealtaine basks in the sunshine.

Willow has been trimmed. Grass cut. Pumpkins are in flower.

The pears are making good progress on the youngest of the Pear Trees planted here at Bealtaine Cottage. I continue to feed the earth around them with a liquid tea made from nettles and comfrey.

The heady scent of Meadowsweet fills the air on this calm and balmy Sunday afternoon. It grows all over the Bog garden…here is some in the woodland, Fairy dell.

On an afternoon such as this I feel almost intoxicated as I walk around the gardens, with sweets scents filling the air and bees flying to and fro along their pathways of pollen.

Turning to look back at the tunnel as I approach the Fairy Dell, I am taken with the sounds coming from the blackcurrant bushes, only to see a Blackbird swooping out from a gorgefest of fruit…

Geraniums and Oregano spill across mown grass paths. All is peace.

Posted in Abundance, Family, Food, Gaia, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Politics, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian, Wine

The Promise of Pumpkins, and Mum at 81…Permaculture on Friday

Surrounded by pots of everything, all grown from seeds, the Pumpkin…and don’t ask me what kind it is until it produces fruit…is sporting a big, fab., yellow flower! It’s happy! I’m happy!

Talking of happy, I was in Omagh on Wedneday last to help Mum celebrate her 81st birthday…what a girl! She manages to outstyle me, out-talk me and usually outsmart me as well! Not looking bad for a woman who told the doctors to back off over her diagnosis and operation for breast cancer late last year! “No more drugs or treatment, I ready for living my life not sitting in waiting rooms,” she quipped just before Christmas…yep, you can’t keep a good woman down! …And, talking of Alice Taylor, isn’t she a woman for our times? On board the Gaza Flotilla…more power to you Alice!

Continuing to harvest a magnificent crop of blackcurrants…Permaculture sown and grown…the BEST!

More wine ready to be bottled and fined down and cleared without the use of animal products, as used in the commercial wines! Still, if you want to eat and drink the finest than it’s always best to make it yourself!