New Permaculture Orchard

permaculture orchard at 007Last year I planted a new orchard at Bealtaine Cottage.

permaculture orchard at 008To date there are thirty eight fruit trees planted across the three acres of land here.

permaculture orchard at 012This new orchard was planted on an area previously fenced off and used for hens over a period of years.

permaculture orchard at 009This is always a good start, as the land was prepared by the hens in terms of manuring and picking over.

permaculture orchard at 010Before the trees were planted I laid down a generous spread of seaweed and covered this with cardboard, to hold back the weeds for a year or so.

permaculture orchard at 013Over the morning I have been planting yet more layers into the orchard, mainly flowers and herbs to attract and feed the bees…my secret of abundant harvests; where would we be without the bees?

permaculture orchard at 014The next phase will include planting a bee-friendly hedge along the south edge of the area.

permaculture orchard at 015I planted Fuschia and Berberis, Dogwood and Rubus along the north edge.

permaculture orchard at 016As I cut back around the orchard, cuttings are dropped onto the ground around the trees and bushes as a mulch.
permaculture orchard at 021The planting continues as more and more flowers and herbs are brought from my small nursery area, a really important part of any permaculture garden or smallholding! 

permaculture orchard at 019As with all my projects here at Bealtaine, I couldn’t resist using some Willow to effect, constructing a simple arbour that will eventually house a home-made bench, on which to sit and sup a cup of tea!
permaculture orchard at 024The plan of maximum planting has worked well all over the land here, building resilience as well as fertility into the land, as a forest does naturally.

permaculture orchard at 002The days have been warm and sunny, with the back door open all day long.

There is such a good balance of biodiversity here that flies don’t seem to be a bother…this can be a serious Irish complaint during the summer months!

permaculture orchard at 003I pulled the sofa chair over to the open door as I find the soft sounds of life in the gardens very soothing.

permaculture orchard at 001Sammy does too!

The idea of planting food trees is taking off here in the west of Ireland.

My local town of Drumshanbo has planted a Community Orchard near the entrance to the town…a great Transition Towns inspiration!



  1. We are up to nine fruit trees here with five more trees on order, and three more after that if I can figure out where to put them. Two of those trees need to winter inside with us, though, due to climate — a Meyer lemon and a cold hardy avocado, which is hardy to 18 degrees F (not hardy enough for us, though). You’re fortunate to have had hens prepare the soil. Our trees have not had such a good start, but they seem to be doing well with extra first year attention.

    @ Josephine, I don’t know your location, but in the US, I just discovered we have a dwarf oak tree available. Supposedly, it has very low tannin acorns, which require minimal, if any processing. The oak only grows about 15 feet high and can make thickets if you let it, which is nice for wildlife. I’m exploring this as a possibility for our own forest garden on 1/3 of an acre. We can’t have many tall trees, or there won’t be sun for the gardens.

    Colette, I’m curious if you’ve explored mycelium (medicinal/edible mushrooms) for soil enhancement and yet another layer of function in the food forest. I would think Ireland has a great climate for growing things like shitake, Reishi and lion’s mane. There’s a learning curve, but I’ve decided to learn how to grow these superfoods, as they support the trees and other plants and make use of shady areas. Plus, they provide vitamin D, B-vitamins, protein and many of the edible mushrooms make a delicious, healthy meat substitute. Chicken of the Woods tastes so much like chicken that my BF and I kind of freaked out the first time we ate it, thinking we’d accidentally gotten a chicken stirfry.

    I’m hoping that “keeping mushrooms” provides a vegan and urban friendly solution to soil nourishment without needing to import in so much compost or keep animals. (We can’t keep chickens as renters, and I don’t think I have the heart to keep rabbits in cages.) We shall see… just thought I’d mention the mycelium if you’ve not looked into it. Seems right up your alley!

  2. Colette, I hope you don’t mind. I’ve been in touch with Janaia Donaldson of “Peak Moment” in the States. She was asking where she might visit / video here (very active you tube channel) and I suggested yourself, among others. Then, less than an hour later, your ‘orchard’ email arrived, so I forwarded it to her. I trust you are well and enjoying the Summer. you certainly seem to be! sincerely,

    Robert Jordan

    You can read the blog about my “From Field to Forest Garden” project in Donegal at

  3. What nuts please to grow, Colette? Donegal…small as poss. tree / bush

    Sent from my iPad


Your comments are welcome!