Post Midsummer Polytunnel Gardening at Bealtaine Cottage

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Second-phase food production is under way as from this week.

Midsummer has passed and many harvests are home or under-way.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 009This week has seen me clear the tunnel, spread lots of compost afresh on the beds and begin planting for the next phase of crops.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 010As 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.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 013 Soil is the most important aspect of good food.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 007The food takes up the essential minerals and goodness in the soil and turns these into health-giving good food.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 015

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 BerryThe Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture 

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 016“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

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 019“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 RodaleOrganic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 020

All the Poppy heads are now harvested, providing a massive amount of Poppy Seed…great in cooking and baking!

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 011“Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?”
― Jane GoodallHarvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 022“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Easiest Ever Compost Toilet

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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!

Permaculture@ bealtainecottage.com 004This 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.

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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.

Permaculture@ bealtainecottage.com 005There is absolutely no bad odour! 

So what happens next?

compost loo 001The 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.

compost loo 003This 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. 

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 002This compost is not used in the productive gardens as I have adequate vegetative compost on site in the vegetable and fruit gardens. 

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 004Besides…the trees thrive on the waste produced here at Bealtaine and in return, I have plenty of wood for my stove…cycle complete!

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 011…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?

bealtainecottage.com Permaculture 009There is no away!

If you liked reading this, why not Like, Comment or share with others on Twitter, FaceBook or email to a friend! Blessings XXX

If you enjoy all the stuff shared from Bealtaine Cottage on FaceBook, Youtube, Podcast, Twitter and this website…

 

Uplifted

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The roses are in bloom on the veranda.

The view through the sitting room window is cheerful and lovely!

DSCF1684I sit with my back to the stove, warm, waiting for the kettle to boil on the hob, so as I can make a big pot of tea.

As I type the kettle begins to sing…

DSCF1688The day has been warm and dry with lots of sunshine.

I am still in my dressing gown, more relaxed and rested, thank goodness!

DSCF1689Sammy-Bear and Che-Mousey have kept me amused all day and Jack has been excellent company, staying close by my side, stoic and silent, as only the best dogs can be.

DSCF1690I have listened to music and read, made vegetable soup and slept.

DSCF1699Thank you all for your lovely, warm and uplifting messages…such a pleasure to read and such reassurance too…Bless you all XXX

DSCF1701The full moon is now waning and I feel I have learned something quite valuable…something to do with energy and being, though am not sure how to articulate it just yet.

DSCF1712I feel a shift of energy has taken place…for the better!

DSCF1714 The weekend lies ahead and this Bealtaine Moon in Scorpio is waning.

DSCF1715May you all have a lovely, uplifting and positive weekend

XXX Blessings XXX

Food Harvest 2020

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Small farms in Ireland are in a steady decline and have been for several decades now.

Violets growing all over the woodland at Bealtaine Cottage

Violets growing all over the woodland at Bealtaine Cottage

In fact farming is now referred to as an “industry”…a most illuminating use of language!

Buddha in the gardens

Buddha in the gardens

The pressure on small farmers to produce more and more, (mostly meat), is driving many off the land, as they find it difficult to compete with the bigger landowners and thus meat growers!

Sammy-Bear says "Hello!"

Sammy-Bear says “Hello!”

The countryside is fast losing vital habitat, as hedgerows are pulled out, trees felled and field size increased.

Apple blossom and Honesty flowers in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

Apple blossom and Honesty flowers in bloom at Bealtaine Cottage

There is a government initiative behind this, of course…”Food Harvest 2020!”

Willow archways at Bealtaine cottage

Willow archways at Bealtaine cottage

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, is Simon Coveney TD.

Water that is drinkable!

Water that is drinkable!

Minister Coveney  held a meeting on the 17th of April.

Sedge in flower today at Bealtaine

Sedge in flower today at Bealtaine

Invitations were issued to key stakeholders, including farm organisations, beef processors and relevant state agencies to a round table discussion on the future development of the Beef Sector, as it is referred to! 

Mixed planting in the very productive Potager Beds

Mixed planting in the very productive Potager Beds

Participants at this meeting were invited to discuss the government initiative, Food Harvest 2020.

Photinia and Kerria

Photinia and Kerria

This scheme was introduced by the Irish government to increase production of beef! (Ironic naming it “Food Harvest 2020!)

Golden Euphorbia in the early morning sunshine

Golden Euphorbia in the early morning sunshine

Now, read this statement from the Minister of Agriculture…using language of industry, markets and sport!

Commenting today on the initiative, Minister Coveney said

By some measures the beef sector is Ireland’s biggest indigenous industry, involving more than 100,000 farm families, and 8,000 jobs in processing, sales and marketing, with exports valued of more than €2 billion in 2013.  Food Harvest 2020 set an initial target of a 20% increase in the value of output for the beef sector. The target for beef exports has already been exceeded. 

The time is now right to sit down with key stakeholders in the sector, to consider the strategic approach  needed to support its development, using the best available market intelligence, and the newest technology and research to improve performance at all levels of the supply chain.  The beef sector makes a vital contribution to Irish agri food and to employment and the economy generally. I am convinced that with the right strategic approach and positive collaboration from all of the players, the beef sector in Ireland has a bright future.”

(https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/press/pressreleases/2014/april/title,74954,en.html)

Near the veranda at Bealtaine Cottage

Near the veranda at Bealtaine Cottage

All the while, loss of habitat is causing devastation!

Ferns and Spurge cover the floor of the Fairy Wood

Ferns and Spurge cover the floor of the Fairy Wood

Friends of the Earth, (FOE), have called on the Government to do a full Strategic Environmental Assessment of Food Harvest 2020. 

Buddha wears a crown of moss in the Bog Garden

Buddha wears a crown of moss in the Bog Garden

Other groups raising concerns with Food Harvest 2020 include:

The Irish Climate Justice Group

The Environmental Pillar of Social Partnership.

Friends of the Irish Environment and Allies

Buddha at Bealtaine

Buddha at Bealtaine

The European Commission has announced it is launching an investigation of whether proper procedures were followed.

The lower pond at Bealtaine Cottage, teeming with Newts, Frogs...

The lower pond at Bealtaine Cottage, teeming with Newts, Frogs…

Each and every photograph I post here on this website is taken at Bealtaine Cottage.

Stream flowing from the Spring Well through both ponds

Stream flowing from the Spring Well through both ponds

These three acres of abundance exist because I took the cattle off the land.

The Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage

The Bog Garden at Bealtaine Cottage

I would like to invite Minister Simon Coveney to Bealtaine Cottage to see what happens to land when it is allowed and nurtured  to re-generate!

The Lower Pond filled with clean Spring water that flows out into the River Shannon and on into the Atlantic Ocean!

The Lower Pond filled with clean Spring water that flows out into the River Shannon and on into the Atlantic Ocean!

We need, as a nation, to cherish our land and protect it for future generations.

Sammy by the pond

Sammy by the pond

We need to produce more Organic Food for our people rather than importing it…that means fruit and vegetables and grains!

Bealtaine Angel

Bealtaine Angel

Oh, by the way Minister…you may call it Food Harvest 2020, but, I and many like me, do not eat beef…not much food there then!

Keeping Hens, in the Town or Country

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 The hens have settled into their new home and are all laying.

Happy clucks and soft singing emanates out from the hen house.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe secure enclosure promises to keep the Fox family away…for I have lost too many of my lovely hens to Mr and Mrs Fox. www.bealtainecottage.comInside, the house is spacious and comfortable, with an upstairs and five windows in total!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe system is similar to the one I used in London for over a decade.

It is known as a deep litter system, using lots of straw.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe dirty straw is then used in the gardens as a mega-mulch!www.bealtainecottage.comThe deep litter system allows the girls foraging in a limited space and I collect greens for them on days when they are stay at home.

www.bealtainecottage.comDays when I am in the garden, the girls are allowed out under my watchful eye!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mulching continues unabated, as the grass paths are mowed…grass clippings are piled onto cardboard as a weed suppressant, allowing newly planted trees to get a footing!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the system I have used for ten years and all the fruit trees are producing well.

www.bealtainecottage.comHonesty is in full bloom now and being enjoyed by the bees.

www.bealtainecottage.comMost of the early bees are bumble bees and are most prolific here at Bealtaine Cottage, where succession planting keeps all visitors fed from February through to the end of November.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe painted stone Cockerel stands guard by the front door of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comNewly mown paths allows everything alongside to look lush!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Cherry tree, grown from seed, stands covered in blossom,  with the promise of lots of Cherries, some high for the birds and some low for me!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe Bealtaine Feast has begun!

www.bealtainecottage.comSeedlings are flourishing in the late Spring sunshine.

We Are At War!

DSCF0805The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was started at the beginning of World war two, in Britain,

www.bealtainecottage.comThe people of Britain were urged to use any spare land to grow vegetables.

 www.bealtainecottage.comVictory gardens were planted everywhere…and I mean everywhere!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006All land was considered viable for planting, including gardens, lawns, parks, golf clubs and all public spaces even in the City of London, around the Tower of London, for example! 

www.bealtainecottage.com 004During the height of the war, when food was rationed through scarcity, there were 3.5 million allotments in Britain, producing over a million tonnes of vegetables and it was estimated that in 1944 British gardeners produced between 2 and 3 million tons of food overall!

www.bealtainecottage.com 034People were encouraged to keep small livestock and ‘Pig Clubs’ were formed as a way of best utilizing leftovers to feed the pigs.

Flo, with me holding GloriaHens and Ducks were kept for their valuable eggs.

Autumn in the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage 034The children growing up through this period of time were the healthiest ever reared in Britain.

apples and sunflowersMy mother was born and raised during this time and lived a remarkably long and healthy life!

Colette in one of the orchardsSo, now we are all in a state of financial hardship and unemployment, I have one simple question to pose.

harvestWhy cannot our governments introduce a similar campaign?

harvesting blackcurrantsWe are at war…with poverty!

Sustainable Food Revolution

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Living in a time when the cost of food is rising day on day, it might be time to re-think the lawn! This is what Bill Mollison, one of the founders of the Permaculture movement has to say on the subject:

Bill Mollison

“. . . every society that grows extensive lawns could produce all its food on the same area, using the same resources, and . . . world famine could be totally relieved if we devoted the same resources of lawn culture to food culture in poor areas. These facts are before us. Thus, we can look at lawns, like double garages and large guard dogs, [and Humvees and SUVs] as a badge of willful waste, conspicuous consumption, and lack of care for the earth or its people.Most lawns are purely cosmetic in function. Thus, affluent societies have, all unnoticed, developed an agriculture which produces a polluted waste product, in the presence of famine and erosion elsewhere, and the threat of water shortages at home.

The lawn has become the curse of modern town landscapes as sugar cane is the curse of the lowland coastal tropics, and cattle the curse of the semi-arid and arid rangelands…

www.bealtainecottage.comOver the past few days I have been busy converting this little shed into a new hen house and run…food to swap and share…fresh eggs! it is going to be a simple enough barter, swapping a sack of logs for nine eggs. Most logs are traded at 3.50 a sack, so that’s a fair swap!

www.bealtainecottage.comThat makes a good swap as eggs are getting more expensive by the day and the logs will be delivered to my door! I just have to ensure that the hen house and run are secure against Mr ans Mrs Fox and family!

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As Spring moves across the land, a drying wind is working its magic on the earth. The greening is under-way.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe view from the sitting room window is being filled in like a ‘Painting By Numbers,’ canvas. Ash trees are the last to get their leaves and so stand proud in all their silver glory against temperamental Spring skies.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is the beautiful Field Maple to the front of the cottage.

www.bealtainecottage.comContinuing my lifelong passion for trees…this is a wall tile I made from clay…complete with tree, a fairy tree.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe lone Fairy Thorn one often sees growing in the middle of fields here in Ireland served as my inspiration. They are often windswept and leaning away from the west.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis sits upon the dresser in the kitchen…a time when preserves were sold in stoneware jars. All containers were re-cycled, in that they were re-used…even milk bottles! Lemonade bottles had a money deposit attached to them and children would collect them up to return to the shop, as a way of earning pocket money!

www.bealtainecottage.comEven cream came in little stoneware jars like this, as it kept cool in the pantry in the days before every home had a fridge!

“A sacred way of life connects us to the people and places around us. That means that a sacred economy must be in large part a local economy, in which we have multidimensional, personal relationships with the land and people who meet our needs, and whose needs are met in turn.”
― Juliana Birnbaum FoxSustainable Revolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide

EU Pimping Monoculture Failure!

Bealtaine Cottage March Ribes blossomMist prevails as the earth slowly heats, releasing some of the water absorbed during the wettest winter on record here in Ireland.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 047The 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!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture march 2011 006There’s a digger at work on the hill of Ballyfermoyle, I hear it’s machinations echoing through the misty morning.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March primrosesYoung trees and bushes are being torn up and tossed aside, in an effort for land to be measured by the EU on Google Maps.

cobwebs Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March Less tree cover shows more grass and it is grassland that the EU are paying farmers here in Ireland to grow.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 004More grass, more meat, more export, more globalization…you know the story!

Bealtaine Cottage March 2012And so, the Earth is losing more habitat in a land that cannot feed it’s own people…Ireland is heavily reliant on imported food!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture March 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!

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture March 2011 021In this land of plenty there is little food grown around this area.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture march 2011 004EU sponsored, subsidized and pimped Monoculture prevails!

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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…

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-from-bealtaine-cottage/

Seeds from Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland are posted all over the world…the donation remains the same no matter where you live, even Outer Mongolia!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

There are over 600 blogs in the archives on this site.

As an Ark for Nature, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from the EU, as only farm animals, monoculture and set-aside are grant-aided!

Your donation helps remedy that…

Small Spaces and Tiny Homes

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Tiny homes are becoming popular.

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.

www.bealtainecottage.comLiving 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.

www.bealtainecottage.comHere 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.

www.bealtainecottage.comEnergy 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.

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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!

Cheap energy!

www.bealtainecottage.comThis 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!

www.bealtainecottage.comA small clothes-rail doubles as a drying rail as the heat from the wood burner keeps the place toasty!

www.bealtainecottage.comI am a fan of the Tiny Home movement for many reasons, but, primarily because this way of living empowers one…absolutely! www.bealtainecottage.comThe more one can conserve and live minimally, the more power one actually has !

www.bealtainecottage.comPlanting lots of shelter-giving plants, shrubs and trees around it also helps the micro-climate inside and out.

www.bealtainecottage.comA place to sew and knit in comfort with the luxury of a kettle of ever-free-boiling water is magic!

www.bealtainecottage.comA door that opens onto the most sheltered part of the garden is a bonus.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd yes…that is an old table top up-cycled as a step!