Post Midsummer Polytunnel Gardening at Bealtaine Cottage

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…

Easiest Ever Compost Toilet

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…

Uplifted

The roses are in bloom on the veranda. The view through the sitting room window is cheerful and lovely! I 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… The day has been warm and dry with lots of sunshine. I am still in my dressing gown, more relaxed and rested, thank goodness! Sammy-Bear and Che-Mousey have kept me amused all day and Jack has been excellent company, staying close by my side, stoic…

Food Harvest 2020

Small farms in Ireland are in a steady decline and have been for several decades now. In fact farming is now referred to as an “industry”…a most illuminating use of language! 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! The countryside is fast losing vital habitat, as hedgerows are pulled out, trees felled and field size increased. There is a government initiative behind this, of course…”Food Harvest 2020!” The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the…

Keeping Hens, in the Town or Country

 The hens have settled into their new home and are all laying. Happy clucks and soft singing emanates out from the hen house. The secure enclosure promises to keep the Fox family away…for I have lost too many of my lovely hens to Mr and Mrs Fox. Inside, the house is spacious and comfortable, with an upstairs and five windows in total! The 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. The dirty straw is then used in the gardens as a…

We Are At War!

The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was started at the beginning of World war two, in Britain, The people of Britain were urged to use any spare land to grow vegetables.  Victory gardens were planted everywhere…and I mean everywhere! All 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!  During 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…

Sustainable Food Revolution

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: “. . . 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…

EU Pimping Monoculture Failure!

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…

Small Spaces and Tiny Homes

o 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. 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….