Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Ecology, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Permaculture, Trees, Woodland

Coppicing Trees and Making Space at Bealtaine Cottage

It’s amazing how quickly trees grow.

A mere eight years and here I am today thinning and coppicing, pruning and pollarding to make enough space for the fastest growers.

The permaculture plan of planting trees is ongoing.

Many were planted over the course of the winter months.

Most were grown from seed here at Bealtaine Cottage, or sourced locally.

All these thinnings will be sorted to use in the wood-burning stove, either as kindling or small logs.

The rest of the material will be added to the compost heap, ensuring that every bit from the land is a harvest!

All this work today has left a lovely spot in which to sit, protected from the weather and listen to the life that is all around.

Already the sunlight is casting dappled shade onto the earth that was last walked upon almost eight years ago, when I planted this area out.

For eight years ago this was a barren, windswept piece of land in front of a rather sad and decrepit cottage…

And now there exudes a snug, cosy and very happy aura around Bealtaine Cottage.

Embraced by Nature and loved by all who make the journey.

Posted in Climate, Country Living, Folklore, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Health, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Vegan, Wild Flowers

My Herb Garden

I grow lots of herbs in the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage, picking freely wherever I walk along the paths.

Herbs grow very easily in the Irish climate, as the fairly constant temperature agrees with the plants.

Herbs have a variety of uses that include culinary and medicinal.

The crossover line is blurred, as much of what we cook with does so much good and is easily integrated with everyday food.

Think of Garlic for example, or Parsley, both great for the blood!

Herbs can also be used in spiritual practice too, usually through the method of burning to release scent and as a cleansing or purification ritual.

Many herbs release anti-bacterial oils into the air, thus cleansing, so again, the crossover line is easily blurred, as herbal oils released into the air can have a tremendously uplifted effect upon the senses.

This can also be in the form of strewing underfoot, as was the practice during medieval times, to combat pungent smells and general sickness.

Here at Bealtaine Cottage I grow over fifty different herbs, including perennials  such as Thyme, Lavender, Rosemary, Fennel, Lemon Balm and Mint.

The list goes on to include: Chervil; Angelica; Borage; Catnip and Chives.

Include in this list, Dill, Elderflower and Garlic. Lavender, Lovage and Salad Burnet.

Parsley is a good permaculture herb, coming up each year and growing steadily for two years as a biennial plant.

Most herbs self-seed easily.

Feverfew and Borage, once introduced to your garden will grow always.

Some perennial herbs are shrubs, such as Rosemary, Sage and Lemon Verbena, or trees, such as Bay laurel, all growing healthily here.

Oregano grows virtually wild here as does the strongest mint you will ever smell or taste, which grows in the Bog Garden as Water Mint.

Willow Herb is another wild addition and even the Valerian around the cottage looks after itself.

Inserting willow to make arches that will support the developing crop of Pumpkins and Butternut squash.

Many herbs are enjoying the space left in between the squash, such as Nasturtium and Thyme.

The production in these newly established raised beds has been phenomenal!

Growing herbs will give an easy and beneficial garden anywhere.

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Posted in Country Living, Health, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture

The Ebb and Flow of Life at Bealtaine Cottage

Evening at Bealtaine Cottage and the the night is drawing in.

The sunshine of this morning ebbed and flowed all day, like the waves on the strand at Rosses Point, as the sun dipped in and out of rolling clouds that occasionally deposited rain.

Strange weather, but the day was passed in constructive ways.

I sorted out the recycling, washing out cans and finding all sorts of uses for them.

They make great tea-light holders, piercing holes in the sides using a hammer and nail to make patterns.

The one above sits atop the hot stove, filled with water and essential oils, that emits small wisps of fragranced steam into the cottage.

Vases were dusted…

…as the dogs played in the porch, rearranging their beds as you can see…

At least the continual drizzle keeps all growing and lush…

And the veranda means that I can enjoy the outdoors despite the weather!

Posted in Abundance, Bees, Current Affairs, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Health, Inspiration, Life, Nature, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Self-Sufficiency, Thoughts

Our Food Security is Under Threat!

Bees spend a lot of time around Nasturtiums. Fortunately lots came up in the compost I filled the new raised beds with.

It is crazy to think that these beds were only created about six weeks ago.

There is a brilliant harvest to be had from these little beds already.

Tomatoes are ripening and almost ready to pick.

I’m glad about that as over recent weeks the price of tomatoes has shot up to two euros for a handful of small toms that are not even organically grown!

These Sugar-Snap Peas have been producing for several weeks already, so will definitely save some of the seeds for next year!

Food is rising in price as land is being either scorched away, washed away, or bought up by corporations!

I have just finished storing the Blackcurrant Harvest in the freezer.

It amounted to well over a hundred pounds…I stopped weighing out the bags in the end!

The Pumpkins are promising a grand harvest as they continue to grow and produce more and more fruit…I will have to stop them soon!

I made a video earlier this morning about the progress of plants and wildlife over near the tunnel…enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEnyIc7KkSc

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Celts, Country Living, Courses, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Lughnasa, Nature, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Spirituality, Uncategorized

The All-Ireland Permaculture Gathering…

I brought lots of flowers and seed heads into the cottage to brighten up the greyness that is July.

Nothing stops the movement towards Lughnasa and the time of spiritual gathering.

The “All Ireland Permaculture Gathering,” takes place near Bealtaine Cottage this year in the town of Strokestown, County Roscommon.

It’s ideally placed, being located in  the near centre of the island.

It happens on the first weekend of Lughnasa.

For more details you can contact Hannah Mole on:

http://www.permaculture.ie/news/permaculture-gathering-2012

For those wishing to visit Bealtaine Cottage on or around this time, you can get my number from Hannah…I am happy to show visitors around the permaculture smallholding that is Bealtaine Cottage…

Lughnasa is a good time to assess one’s life harvest of wisdom, for the dark evenings of winter are a good time to learn new skills and crafts, to read and share, to think and plan.

It is about preparing the land for winter too, helping to put it asleep, mulching and covering…

We also need to prepare ourselves for the journey through Lughnasa and into Samhain, by ensuring we gather sunlight on ourselves, walk and meditate, enjoying sunrises and sunsets at this mellow time of the year.

Times like today, when the rain seems relentless will give way to sunny mornings and misted evenings, the Lughnasa of the year.

Long walks with Jack and Flo are great excuses to go out and explore new pathways, leaving the dark evenings ahead to navigate the pathways of the soul…

Posted in Abundance, biodiversity, Country Living, Food, Gardening, Growing Food, Life, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Seed-Saving the Easy Way…

Working in the tunnel today.

Much clearing and preparing the beds for the Autumn and early winter cycle of growing.

It’s well worth planting anything at this time of the year, as there is a harvest from what would be ordinarily thrown onto the compost heap.

I had several tomato plants that were sitting around, looking quite forlorn, so I planted them into the spaces left by clearing.

There’s bound to be a few tomatoes offered up to a decent salad!

Much of what is in the tunnel has been left to seed, so at this point it makes a good addition to the compost and the video explains why and how.

Even though the day has been has been grey and wet, it’s been lovely working in the stillness in the tunnel…contemplative and dry!

Today’s video…all about natural seed saving…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h78I26NNzAI

Posted in Animals, Autumn, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Earth, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Lughnasa, Nature, Permaculture, Thoughts

Lughnasa and the Solstice…Ancient Time

At certain times today, as I was working outside, I had a distinct sense of Autumn.

The way the sun shone on a plant, the smell from the earth around my feet…it was quite tangible.

The growing cycle in the west of Ireland adheres very much to the old Celtic calendar.

It is easy to tell the season just by walking the land and watching shadows…

Autumn begins on the 1st day of August.

This cycle is in essence closely linked to the Solstices and Equinoxes of the year.

 It is the  same solar alignment that determines the correct time for Lughnasa and this is also the exact same alignment for Bealtaine.

The ancient calendar is correct, as it follows the sun and planets rather than the time of man.

I am more attuned to Natural Time as I work on the land.

I am also much happier in this time mode.

The midsummer solstice was last month, four weeks ago and harvesting is well under way.

I do believe that animals are more closely tied into these ancient seasons than we care to admit.

I have enjoyed the company of many rescue dogs and cats over the years and often observed their habits, right down to times when they will bury food.

Flo, here, is a little hobo dog and has been used to fending for herself for most of her life…

Flo is a persistent food secreter and will often sit on a stash in her basket!

On that note, I think I’ll just go and check…

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Posted in Abundance, biodiversity, Butterflies, Country Living, Earth, Ecology, Inspiration, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

The Magic of Life

I had no idea!

Reading about soil today has enlightened me…no, transported me…into another world, seriously!

The world beneath my feet.

I have always had a fascination with Fairies and the world of Nature, but was never fully cognisant of the facts about our soil…that deep, dark, rich matter that gives forth all we eat.

Facts like, a gram of soil contains about 100 million bacteria.

A square metre of fertile farmland can be inhabited by something like around 55 million worms and about 50,000 small insects and mites.

Monoculture diminishes all this, of course.

A monocultured ecosystem is very weak and may not be up to withstanding disturbance…hence the severe erosion and dust storms seen throughout places like the mid west of America.

A complex ecosystem, such as can be found here at Bealtaine Cottage, is better able to adapt to disturbance.

Permaculture has a healing effect in a very short time, allowing the soil to build up a strong ecosystem relatively fast…a few years in the case of this monocultured 3 acres!

Homo sapiens, means, Wise Man.

A Wise Man would not be sieving life out of our Eco-system, or interfering with our food chain and supply by patenting seeds.

A Wise man in Government would not allow that to happen.

Where have all the Homo sapiens gone?

Today’s video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCIaK07EieY

Posted in Bees, biodiversity, Butterflies, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Garden, Health, Life, Music, Permaculture, Politics, Thoughts

Monsanto, Bono, Africa and Suicide

He was once a hero of mine.

A singer who sang about the issues I cared about.

But, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday,” has become “Endgame, Bloody Endgame,” as the one time singer who articulated the ideals of a generation, turns advocate and spokesperson for the awful, dreadful, death impregnated, GM seed and food corporations of the globe.

The G8 Summit, where the great and the greedy met to plan their attack on an unsuspecting continent, will go down in history as the final chapter in a globalized attack on the poor and downtrodden of our world.

For we all know about India and the almost quarter of a million dirt poor farmers who have taken their lives in all manner of disturbing ways.

That was about seed.

GM seed.

Seed with great advertising and promises behind it, pushing it upon the most vulnerable upon our sacred Earth.

And, if I know…I, a woman living in the remote west of Ireland without television or daily paper, then I am certain that Bono knows all this and more!

After all, did he not spend time with President Obama at the G8 Summit?

So, why, Bono…why?

Today’s video…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqkpQyo5CjM

I write about, film and photograph, Mother Earth, from Bealtaine Cottage, encouraging others to open little portals of healing energy all over the world.

Blessings and thanks for your support.

Thank you for supporting this blog

Posted in Abundance, Bees, Cottage, Country Living, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Health, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Recipes, Self-Sufficiency

Harvesting Rhubarb and Growing Peach Trees

Harvesting Rhubarb for the second time this year.

The first crop was back in the middle of Spring.

When that crop was picked, I manured the beds and allowed it to go on to develop a second flush.

Once washed and chopped I lightly stew the rhubarb, then cool it and pack it into bags for the freezer.

The Spring crop was made into delicious jam!

One of my favourite winter puddings is simple stewed Rhubarb topped with toasted oats and demerara sugar, mixed with some chopped nuts…mmm!

I lightly toast the oats in a big cast iron pan with the sugar and nuts.

It takes minutes and tastes divine topped with Soya cream!

Oops…the pics are mixed up!

Lots of good stuff for the growing compost heap.

You’re right!

I had no intention of waiting until winter for this treat!

Taking the compost over to the heap, passing the Nasturtiums on the way…lack of sun doesn’t appear to bother them at all!

Just to share with you the progress of one of the little Peach Trees, grown from seed here at Bealtaine Cottage…a real Irish Peach tree…and very strong indeed!

And as I return from the compost heap, I spotted the Spirea  in blossom in the hedge.

This is a mixed hedge planted with cuttings and home-grown plants about five years ago.

It is in the Orchard, so all the shrubs are flowering and Bee-friendly.

P.S. You may have noticed the name change at the top of the page. Well, I thought it best to make it a simple “Bealtaine Cottage,” for this is where it’s all happening…

Posted in Butterflies, Cats, celebrations, Celtic Mythology, Celts, Climate, Earth, Eco-Living, Fairies, Folklore, Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Lughnasa, Permaculture, Spirituality, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

The Magical Festival of Lughnasa…

The land approaches Lughnasa, (Lughnasadh), August and the beginning of Autumn.

Looking at the apples today on the trees at Bealtaine Cottage, it is easy to see how this is.

Harvests continue to be gathered and develop, ripening to plumpness and fullness.

Tomatoes, like the ones above, grown outdoors in areas of micro-climate warmth and shelter, continue to flower and produce.

The weather is promised good for the week ahead, as grass moves in the gentle breeze of a July afternoon…the only missing part of this picture is the beautiful Butterflies, so decimated by rain last year and almost finished off with rain and cold this summer.

There is little I can do to help this situation, other than continue to grow and plant out Buddleias and other shrubs and flowers much beloved of these fairy creatures with coloured wings.

Herbs are harvested, tied into small bunches and hung to dry in the warmth of the tunnel, with lots of air circulating, as both doors remain open day and night during summer.

Lughnasa is a harvest festival, marking the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.

This is the time to save seed…as you can see, seed-heads have formed beautifully on the Leeks in the tunnel today.

I will save the seed of the strongest plant, for sowing next year.

Jostaberries are almost ready to harvest.

They come into season just after the Blackcurrant.

Many people think  that Lughnasa was a fire festival, but it was not.

Lughnasa was associated with water and earth, as seen in decoration of wells, making of corn-dollies, decorating and adorning with flowers, and climbing mountains.

Many of the most beautiful flowers come into flower at this time…the Crocosmia by the door of the tunnel will flower over the next week or so, as will the gorgeous Shasta Daisy!

The plant just peeping into the tunnel is Lemon Balm.

Wonderful scents arise as one brushes past it!

Wood cut last winter will be ready for the barn by Lughnasa.

It dries well when stacked like this!

Lughnasa is a Celtic cross-quarter festival, meaning it is not a Solstice or an Equinox, but falls between.

Perhaps this Lughnasa you will climb a mountain, visit a Holy Well, collect Bilberries, bring in the first potatoes…all celebrations of this special, magical, Celtic Festival!

Posted in Country Living, Earth, Garden, Inspiration, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Summer

Sometimes, We Just Forget…

There was this fantastic and vibrant sunset last night…around 10pm, so I made a little video to share with you.

We should remember, when we feel low, just what a technicolour wonder nature is capable of producing, effortlessly and sometimes when we least expect it!

Our sunrises and sunsets are there every day…sometimes we just forget to step outside and marvel!

Well, last night, I did just that and I’m happy to share it with you…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xnXjIOaShU

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Bloom, Butterflies, Climate, Country Living, Current Affairs, Ecology, Garden, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

A World Without Butterflies and Bees…

Buddleia are in full, heavy, nectar perfumed bloom all over the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage.

This is one just opposite the front door.

The purple coloured blossoms droop expectantly, waiting for the seasonal Butterflies, but there are none…

What has happened is the fault of humankind, weather, pesticides, corporate greed and ecocide happening all around me.

If the Butterflies had to rely on the Bealtaine gardens alone, then the world is mad.

I fear, in this area, they do.

Flowers like these Perlagoniums hold nothing for Bees or Butterflies.

Colourful they are and I love the vibrancy and traditional look of them, but they are just that, traditional ornaments.

There are no others like this at Bealtaine Cottage.

Yet, parks are filled with these plants and others that are of no value to the natural world around us.

Gardens the same…

There is only one neighbour who tends a garden.

Only really one other garden in bloom with plants so loved by Bees and Butterflies.

The pathways in between are now cut as the silage machines level the meadows of meadowseet and buttercup and all the wild flowers much beloved of the humble Butterfly, whose days in the sun were always few and now, it appears, none.

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Posted in Climate, Country Living, Food, Frugal Living, Garden, Growing Food, Health, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding

The Easiest Way to Harvest Blackcurrants

It is early July, early evening and it’s cold.

The stove is lit.

The weather systems all over the world appear to have gone wild, but as I sit here, sipping tea and typing, the reality of life is more to do with getting the harvest of blackcurrants into the freezer!

Blackcurrants in the freezer at Bealtaine CottageI have returned from the kitchen with a cuppa and red-tinted fingers from all the handling of the currants as I weigh them into bags.

Bealtaine Cottage Blackcurrants in the Permaculture GardensWhatever the weather is like we have to adapt as best as possible and Blackcurrants don’t seem to mind any way!

There is no sense in this weather here at the moment, or in the fact that Summer in Ireland started in March of this year and ended in April…take a look at the blogs I posted during that time, bearing in mind that I take photographs on a daily basis, real-time so to speak!

However, life at the permaculture smallholding goes on in quite a pleasant way, harvesting, freezing and making chutney.

I have found that the easiest way of harvesting the currants is to cut whole stems and wheel-barrow them over to the veranda where I can sit quietly and harvest the berries, listening to the gentle tinkling of the wind-chimes…it’s pleasant work with lots of time for fleeting thoughts!

It saves a lot of backache and gives the bushes a good pruning too!

The sky seems to be perpetual grey blanket of cloud, with the very occasional peek through of blue sky and sunshine…very occasional that is!

It does remain fairly bright, being that this is the west of Ireland  and we are surrounded by ocean.

Visitors to Bealtaine tell me about droughts in western USA and torrential rain in England.

It does all seem rather mad!

I’m hoping for a beautiful Autumn!

Posted in Abundance, Bees, biodiversity, Birds, Country Living, Current Affairs, Earth, Ecology, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Personal, Uncategorized

The Abomination in our Midst

Harvesting Redcurrants yesterday and today.

After washing and air-drying, I pack them into 8oz bag and store them in the freezer.

Redcurrant sauce is a delicious accompaniment to Nut Roast!

Many of the seeds that are dropped by the birds from gorging on this fruit, will, in turn become true Bealtaine Cottage fruit bushes…conceived, born and bred here.

I regularly give away hundreds of plants like this to visitors, as a way of practising the Permaculture Ethics.

Much of the Buddleia is now in heavenly scented bloom.

This tree was grown from a seed harvested here at Bealtaine.

And this beautiful white Buddleia.

Still no butterflies…just the one on the day my visitors came.

I’m hoping that it is just the wet weather!

Apple crops continue to look good despite the annual, “drop,” that happened during the week.

Now anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that I abhor injustice.

I consider it unjust to patent seeds and plants.

This is wrong.

Everyone knows that this is wrong.

There is a feeling one gets in one’s gut when something is unjust and wrong.

Some prefer to train themselves away from this intuitive conscience, our remaining link to the Divine.

Well, I do not and will not.

If something is wrong, it is wrong.

Any politician who colludes in any way with the patenting of seeds and plants is not worthy to serve the people.

They, quite simply, should be cast out from office, as soon as it is possible to do so.

In the meantime, as we have to deal with this abomination in our midst, saving seed and sharing it as Nature does with us, is the most important thing anyone can do.

Now is the time to save seed.

Time is against us.

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Thank you for supporting this blog

 

Posted in Cats, Country Living, Culture, Current Affairs, Ecology, Garden, Inspiration, Nature, Permaculture, Personal, Uncategorized

As We Awaken…

The weekend lies ahead.

My Connemara visitors have left…sad to wave off such great folks!

Missy and Che are both fed and pampered.

The Tea cups are washed and stacked on the draining board and the last of the muffins packed away into the freezer…for if not I would surely eat them…well, I may share them with Jack and Flo!

Missy appears to be more tolerant of Che, for today at least…he may be taking his life in his hands by getting this close tomorrow!

We talked and talked about such interesting things…it’s a pleasure to share time with like-minded folk!

 By understanding the Universe as a vast, holistic system and our Earth as a part of that complex and unified system, we can start to bring about the restoration of the natural ecosystems that hold it all in place.

This is why so many visitors are drawn to what is happening here at Bealtaine…the restoring of the ecosystem  on three acres can be mirrored anywhere.

To begin, it is essential to honour and trust Nature…that is what I have learned at Bealtaine Cottage.

For once we let go of the urge to control and dominate Nature, we become open to understanding creation itself.

We simply do not yet have the words to articulate this wonder.

We have been constrained in all aspects of our living for so very long…

 Terri brought me big generous bags of wholefoods from her shop in Connemara…I feel utterly spoilt!

I may visit Connemara to give a talk on Permaculture…thank you both for the invitation!

As we stood together in the garden nearest the cottage, we spotted a Butterfly…I hope this is a good omen of lots more to come!

We live in such strange times.

I feel blessed to be here, at this time, for so much has been revealed.

More and more people are becoming conscious, as though they have awoken from a very deep slumber.

We live in interesting times, we live in dangerous times, but most of all, we live.

Today, I was reminded of that.

Life is good.

Posted in Bats, Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Current Affairs, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

It’s Not Just About Bees…is it?

Bees have been dying off at an alarming rate.

Moths are no longer fluttering around this cottage at night.

The Bats have left Bealtaine Cottage.

This is big, a very big issue and we have to look at what’s really happening…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoxitKEp2QA

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Country Living, Eco-Living, Food, Frugal Living, Inspiration, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency

Rocket Stove makes the Tea at Bealtaine Cottage…

Harvesting Blackcurrants, mowing grass and mulching…deserves a pot of tea, at least.

So, the trusty Rocket stove was put into action and I enjoyed endless cuppas as I worked through this glorious day.

It gave me the opportunity to sit and watch the birds and insects get on with their work too.

And the scent of wood burning on the early evening air  is simply one of the most evocative smells ever!

So, here it is…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgjOODGXa0c

Posted in Abundance, Climate, Country Living, Ecology, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Recycling, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized

Permaculture Harvest Home and Easiest Strawberries Ever!

After a full moon last night, the morning is beautiful.

As I write this the sun has illuminated the interior of the cottage and blue skies are making themselves known.

I’ve just snapped this pic…it’s the view from my desk, so you can see for yourself!

It’s been busy here over recent days as I attempt to bring some of the enormous harvest home.

It helps to have a veranda to sit where I can prepare the blackcurrants for the freezer.

This is a home-made drying rack for the fruit, after it’s been washed in the rainwater barrel.

I have lined it with a piece of bridal veil, sourced from an old dressing up box .

As the weather has turned out so fine, I am making the most of the day by mowing and harvesting some of the grass on the many paths here at Bealtaine Cottage.

This path to the tunnel and compost area is well worn as you can imagine, so I’ve laid a little leftover gravel onto the bare areas.

It stops me from slipping, as I make a dash to the compost with the bucket of waste!

Talking of compost, this was the beautiful sight that greeted me today…Poppies in the compost heap and lots of growth on the potatoes!

This is just the beginning of the harvest.

It will continue for several months and is a very busy time…in fact there are days when the stillness of midwinter seems awfully appealing!

But even as the harvest is brought home, sowing and planting continues as the most of the long days are appreciated.

I have recently sown these, swedes and beetroot…they can be planted outdoors or in the tunnel and make tasty additions to meals later on.

Lastly, a pic of a rather successful and very easy way to get perfect strawberries…I planted these in the hanging pot about two years ago and have had good crops of strawberries with no input what so ever, other than a feed in late spring! I will be planting and hanging lots more here on these Blackthorn tress…a good way of using the vertical garden approach!

Posted in Abundance, Bloom, Cats, Cottage, Country Living, Culture, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Personal, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Thrift, Uncategorized

Growing Grapes in Ireland…Outside!

Those who follow this blog will know that I grow grapes in the polytunnel, very successfully.

This recent experiment is about growing a fruitful grapevine outside, in Ireland.

The first thing is to try to emulate the conditions most favourable for grapes and a recent visitor to Bealtaine cottage spent some time giving me lots of good advice to this end…thanks Sigi!

Sigi grows lots of vines in Austria and is very knowledgeable indeed on this subject.

First, the vine detests wet feet…so ensure that the soil is very well drained.

Well in this case I replanted the vine onto the gravel at the back of the cottage, which faces south, banking it up well.

Stone collects the heat of the sun and holds it well…thermal mass! I added lots of stone around the plant.

Sigi advised me to keep to one main stem, so I cut it back and will cut some more too.

Recycling tins…this one has been serving the Sedum for about 3 years now!

Just punch a few holes in the bottom using a hammer and nail!

The experiment with the tomatoes outdoors as opposed to the tunnel is good so far.

This one is cropping earlier than the several in the tunnel!

Everything in the raised bed is growing fast and furious…less than a month after the first stone was set in place!

Plenty of time yet for sowing seeds…I started these off on Saturday.

The Rudbeckia on the left were transplanted from a small pot.

Harvesting seed from Parsley…save seed, it’s our independence and our future!

Borage flowers adorn the water in the tunnel…ensuring lots of bees visit the plants in here, there’s lots of Borage!

Today’s video…and yes, Missy has barged in!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vejVN3L1_LU

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Country Living, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Nature, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wine

The Rain-Sodden Lushness of Midsummer in Ireland

Harvests are looking good despite the lack of sunshine.

Today, Sunday, is overcast and still.

If the weather is fine tomorrow I shall begin to harvest the Blackcurrants.

It looks to be a mighty harvest…certainly in excess of last year, when over 100lbs were picked…and the birds had their feast along the way!

Redcurrants are cropping well also and most of these will go in the freezer, as I enjoy fruit yoghurts throughout the winter.

The Redcurrants give the impression of jewels hanging on bushes.

I often wonder why more of these delightful and easy to grow fruit bushes are not planted in borders in the garden.

The leaves are a lovely vivid green and look really attractive!

I bought this lovely lamp in a Charity shop in Enniskillen, on my way to Omagh, my home town.

 I was up visiting my Mum on her 82nd birthday last Friday!

She is in great form and looking fantastic!

I must post a pic of her soon!

Happy Birthday Mum! (I’m saying this because she has recently started looking on the net and perusing the Bealtaine Cottage blogs!)

I notice that the flowers are all in bloom on the St John’s Wort bush…they are all open despite the lack of sun!

The Bealtaine Angel silently surveys the Valerian…

I have been gathering big bouquets of Yellow Loosestrife to fill vases in the cottage.

Everywhere the lushness of midsummer continues to hold sway…