The first week of July and there’s a feint scent of Autumn in the air this morning.
The morning brings a quiet and gentle beginning to the day, untouched by the continuing perplexities of man.
“Man has drawn artificial lines on the chest of the Mother Earth, which have no significance, except for the sake of war and clashes between countries. The soil seems to be the same, the trees the same, the grass the same, and the fragrance of the air, the smell of the earth the same.”
~ Girdhar Joshi
Yes it is…all the same…at most times hard to believe when one watches the circus of life on MSM.
Bread and circuses, but we all know and recognise real life.
It has a colour and fragrance all of its own.
“The earth is a mosaic, and most fail to notice the gossamer tesserae floating down from the realm of the mind that form its images of beauty and horror.”
~ Lawren Leo
After so much rain during the past few weeks, it was a relief to have a relatively dry day! You may remember that last week I visited the Atlantic shoreline to harvest some seaweed to use on the garden. The strands to the south of Sligo town have piles of loose seaweed here and there along the beaches.
Always only ever take the loose stuff…don’t pull seaweed from stones as these form habitats and are essential to the ecology of the seashore!
In the end I managed about three big bags of seaweed and headed home with my foraged booty!
The first thing I do is to spread it on the gravel around the cottage and allow the rain to wash out excess salt.
After about a week, I start to spread the seaweed around established plants in the garden and tunnel.
The seaweed acts as a wonderful feed and a weed-suppressing mulch!
One of the best things about growing food in the garden is the opportunity to use local and near resources that are free to be foraged or collected…seaweed is an organic fertiliser! Seaweed is washed in by the tide, so is easy to forage!
Only ever take what you need!
It can be used straight away too by the way!
It’s packed with Potassium and Nitrogen, bot wonderful for the garden!
In the next blog, over at Bealtaine Cottage Good Life, I will explain how to make Liquid Seaweed Manure…along with lots more pics of the vegetable beds mulched with seaweed and how this feeds the plants!
Towards the end of a perfect day at Bealtaine Cottage. The gardens are looking well tended as the evening descends. Strawberries have been potted up in hanging baskets and seedlings rescued from the gravel around the cottage and potted up. These will make fine plants for the Summer ahead! And…all the while…the birds sing!
As the Winter nights draw in, we have a sense of being confined to home. This is the time when many people feel there is little to do, often resorting to whiling away the evenings doing nothing much…and I speak from personal experience more’s the shame!
The reality is actually quite different from that which we first encounter, for this is not time we have to pass, but down time allowing us to catch up, prepare for the lighter days ahead and make plans.
There lies ahead of us a mere 5-6 weeks to that most busiest of holiday seasons, Yule…Christmas.
This is the perfect time to give home-made gifts…especially edibles!
I say especially edibles because much of what passes as Christmas food in the shops is really quite mediocre.
For real taste and great packaging, nothing beats home-made!
Jam, wine, knits, biscuits, bakes…the possibilities are endless!
And the other half of this title?
Mend it…the economy of home management. Sewing, knitting, darning, painting, upcycling…a good lamp to work by and work away!
Of course, all this is about skills, and no better time to learn a new skill than by joining an evening class and meeting like-minded people.
Come to think of it…there really is very little time over the course of one winter to get half of it all done!
If you’re short of ideas on sending gifts abroad, then have a peek on the Bealtaine Cottage Seed site.
Many permaculture garden visitors ask me why I have no solar panels?
My stock answer is that I cannot afford them…but that hides all the other reasons why solar panel are not high on my wish-list of add-ons to Bealtaine Cottage!
I see the issue in much more simple terms…frugality!
Over the past ten years of developing Bealtaine Cottage, I have successively scaled back on my use of electricity.
From getting rid of many of my original electrical appliances and refusing to replace those that have given up along the way, I have the equivalent of a roof load of solar panels!
We are a wasteful society that is easily swayed towards consumerism, failing to take responsibility for our waste, when there is NO AWAY…just Mother Earth!
Studies in America, for example, have shown that 20% of all electricity produced is wasted. (Dr Helen Caldicott)
This is interesting as Nuclear power represents 20% of all the electricity produced!
The correlation between what we waste and our environmental concerns can be very revealing!
According to statistics produced by the WWF “Power plants typically only turn about 30% of the energy input into usable electricity.
We are losing up to 75 % of the energy in the fuel at the start of the process. Energy companies could do much better – combining power and heat production can lift efficiency to over 70%.”( http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/aboutcc/cause/wasting_energy_eff/ )
In a detailed study in 2001, the International Energy Agency (IEA) found that from 3% (Switzerland) to a scarcely credible 13% (Australia) of residential electricity used in OECD countries was standby.
“I was amazed when I first learned the dimensions of standby power,” said Robert Priddle, IEA executive director. “In my own home, appliances that I thought were ‘off’ were actually consuming considerable power.”
You have immense power…the power to choose!
Your power to consume is there as a choice.
It is MY DESIRE to have a wind turbine and solar panels, but it is MY CHOICE to live lightly with Mother Earth.
Understand power…but more importantly, understand YOUR power!
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The start of the week in this sacred place, where edges meet and overlap…a cooling, calming morning.
Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.
The gardens are flourishing and birthing beauty all around me, so there was much to gather and choose from.
This is the tenth year using the roll of cellophane bought for me by my eldest daughter all those years ago as a leaving London present!
Small investments can and do go on giving!
Walking the gardens this morning, after the rain, with the earth scents rising all around me, it was a delight to see the apples well on their way to a grand harvest.
I continue to drink the apple juice saved as frozen juice from the harvest last year.
The “poor” land here has given me more food than I can cope with…a continuing surplus builds year on year.
In this tenth year, it is no longer a surprise that the main stream media has steered clear of permaculture, for the truth of biodiversity undermines the huge Agri-business pushed by governments and those in power.
Permaculture has been pushed out to the fringes of society by ignoring the outcomes of such an approach.
This is why I write and photograph and film and keep putting it out there.
I don’t mind being ignored, but Mother Earth WILL have her voice heard and those tuning in are rising in numbers to a point where the mainstream media will have to take notice or end up being overtaken.
The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade. Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter. Natural Spring water flows in abundance from an aquifer that is unabused by demanding “flush it away,” toilet cisterns.
There is no away and besides which, water is sacred!
Why use clean water to flush our human waste into the rivers and oceans…no way, there is no away! Taking care of people means taking care of the Earth…how simple is that philosophy to put into practice?
Not if you are a corporation or a politician on the make and take, for there is no money in caring, just an abundant, real economy!
Our abiding relationship is with Mother Earth.
It is the only physical relationship which surpasses all others in this life.
If we imagine our world as a tapestry, then where are you on the stitching?
Where do you want to be on the weave?
Here’s a thought: one of the biggest and most powerful supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland spent a small fortune on creating this advertising slogan, “Every Little Helps!”
Second-phase food production is under way as from this week.
Midsummer has passed and many harvests are home or under-way.
This week has seen me clear the tunnel, spread lots of compost afresh on the beds and begin planting for the next phase of crops.
As I cleared the tunnel and collected masses of seeds and seed-heads, I was thinking about the crops I would plant.
Number one on my list is Kale; one of the great foods, especially in juicing.
Regular intake of Kale juice keeps health at a peak.
Soil is the most important aspect of good food.
The food takes up the essential minerals and goodness in the soil and turns these into health-giving good food.
This was a good time to prune the Peach Tree and remove about half of the Nectarines and feed the tree.
I left some of the herbs in place and moved the rest into pots and outside beds.
“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture
“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution
“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water. We are demanding soil that is free to do its job and seeds that are free of toxins. We are demanding that our children be protected from harm. We all need to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done—buy organic whenever we can, insist on organic, fight for organic and work to make it the norm. We must make organic the conventional choice and not the exception available only to the rich and educated.”
― Maria Rodale, Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe
All the Poppy heads are now harvested, providing a massive amount of Poppy Seed…great in cooking and baking!
The post you’ve all been waiting for…the Bealtaine Cottage Compost Toilet.
Easy to install and simple to use.
No running outside on cold mornings to tramp across wet grass to use the toilet!
This is located in the bathroom…not quite a bathroom though as I took out the bath and installed a shower instead!
There’s still a little bit of tweaking to be done to finish the project off to a high standard, like decorating the wall where the cistern used to be and making a wooden surround with a small door, but as you can see, it is simple and attractive.
This is the material used for covering one’s toilet.
It is grown here at Bealtaine Cottage, shredded in the shredder and smells nice and pine fragranced, as it is cut from evergreen trees in the gardens.
This material is also anti-bacterial.
There is absolutely no bad odour!
So what happens next?
The bucket is taken to a corner of the garden, tucked in behind a Willow fedge, and then emptied into a large bin. The bins have holes in the bottom so all liquid is drained out slowly.
This system uses five such bins on a rotation basis.
After about a year, the contents have turned into sweet-smelling compost that I use around trees in the lower gardens.
This compost is not used in the productive gardens as I have adequate vegetative compost on site in the vegetable and fruit gardens.
Besides…the trees thrive on the waste produced here at Bealtaine and in return, I have plenty of wood for my stove…cycle complete!
…and the Arum Lilies seem to like it!
In the course of life here at Bealtaine Cottage, there is really no need for a septic tank…flush it away?
There is no away!
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Mist prevails as the earth slowly heats, releasing some of the water absorbed during the wettest winter on record here in Ireland.
The air is still and birdsong echoes through the foggy dew…
The first of the seeds are now sown in a big fish box in the tunnel, made from thick, white polystyrene, once marked out for the dump but rescued and up-cycled here at Bealtaine Cottage…perfect for seeds and young plants!
There’s a digger at work on the hill of Ballyfermoyle, I hear it’s machinations echoing through the misty morning.
Young trees and bushes are being torn up and tossed aside, in an effort for land to be measured by the EU on Google Maps.
Less tree cover shows more grass and it is grassland that the EU are paying farmers here in Ireland to grow.
More grass, more meat, more export, more globalization…you know the story!
And so, the Earth is losing more habitat in a land that cannot feed it’s own people…Ireland is heavily reliant on imported food!
Another famine lurks around the corner, as monoculture food systems are the order of the day, financed and controlled by the EU bureaucrats, blinkered up to the eyeballs with bullshit!
In this land of plenty there is little food grown around this area.
EU sponsored, subsidized and pimped Monoculture prevails!
Bealtaine Cottage has built up a Permaculture Seed Bank.
If you want to see a list of available seeds, this link will take you there…
We are realizing the importance of space…the space we actually need to live comfortably.
If I had the opportunity to build another home, it would, undoubtedly, be much, much smaller than Bealtaine Cottage.
Living comfortably means a warm home, less opening and closing of doors, one big room where all comforts are to be found, much in the same way as the old cottages used to be here in Ireland.
Here in this little Lodge, built onto the back of the cottage, constructed mostly from re-cycled materials, over-wintering is now embedded into my lifestyle.
Energy use is one-quarter of that needed for the cottage.
Small pieces of coppiced wood has fed the wood-burning stove, keeping all snug and cosy.
This was a decision I made out of a challenge, to prove that it was possible to be warm and comfortable through winter…and it is more than possible, it is a new-found freedom!
This is possible with a multi-faceted approach: one small, medium or even big living space; masses of insulation; small wood-burning stove; low energy lamps; a sofa bed, or, as in my case a bed that doubles as a sofa; woollen blankets and rugs; thick curtains and menu plan for cooking one-pot meals on the stove!
A small clothes-rail doubles as a drying rail as the heat from the wood burner keeps the place toasty!
I am a fan of the Tiny Home movement for many reasons, but, primarily because this way of living empowers one…absolutely! The more one can conserve and live minimally, the more power one actually has !
Planting lots of shelter-giving plants, shrubs and trees around it also helps the micro-climate inside and out.
A place to sew and knit in comfort with the luxury of a kettle of ever-free-boiling water is magic!
A door that opens onto the most sheltered part of the garden is a bonus.
And yes…that is an old table top up-cycled as a step!
As it does, a new growing season begins to unfold.
This is the year of change, as more and more people realize, that civilization, as we have come to know it in these past decades, holds little hope of holding together.
I do not say this lightly and the reasons I see for it are manifold, but the main contributors to the calamitous and increasing loss of habitat and stable environment on the planet, is civilization itself!
Our civilization has created the perfect conditions for collapse of the very systems that sustain us.
We have watched the collapse of the financial world over the past few years.
There is no recovery!
Have you joined the endless queues in your local bank recently, just to be served?
Governments, like mine here in Ireland, are extracting carbon taxes from impoverished people and are not planting trees! Extreme weather events are fast becoming an accepted part of our weather systems…have you noticed?
If you know how the Jet Stream works, or should work, then you will be aware of the reasons why climate change is happening.
Quote science for or against and waste time debating…or simply look around you and keep a weather diary.
So, as always with my writing, I move onto the positive, the can-do…and what comes to mind is a simple skills set, that we need to acquire, if we are to move beyond the last years of civilization as we know it.
These are skills we need to acquire and pass on to younger members of our society…the ones who will be left adrift, without the security blanket we have used and abused.
Healthcare…basic first aid! can you prevent someone from bleeding to death or help deliver a baby?
Craft skills…how to make and create from local resources.
Building and construction, as well as maintenance to keep a home dry, for example!
Cooking and baking…Home economics is so degraded now in general education, I wonder why?
Permaculture…encompasses all the skills listed here!
Fire-making…few young people know where to start and the basics!
Management of resources (NOT financial!)
Herbs and the vital role they play in good health, food and body-care.
Conflict resolution and society building without hierarchy.
Basic mechanics…look how people in poorer societies keep their cars on the road!
It’s time to start putting plans in place for a better world.
The politicians are not bothered about our future, but we should be!
I write to encourage, help and inspire mindfulness for our beautiful world and have photographed and written over 870 blogs on the Bealtaine Cottage site, as well as over 110 videos on YouTube…all free from advertising!
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