Be The Change You Want To See!

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Sustainable living in full sunshine as the Indian Summer continues in the West of Ireland. The back door remains open and the rain barrels stand empty.

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This has been the driest September I have recorded in the ten years spent here at Bealtaine Cottage.

There is something afoot in the climate…it has changed into a series of extreme weather events.

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And so we must adapt as best we can, for there is nothing being done by governments here in the west.

It’s all talk and taxes!

The majority of people I have spoken with are concerned, but not to the point of implementing real changes in their lives.

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People appear to be looking to others, to see what changes are being implemented and then tending to follow suit, to a greater or lesser degree.

In this respect, I feel energized to keep writing my blog, to let people see that it is possible to live sustainably in style and comfort!

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it is the choices we make which empower, or disempower us.

No corporation, government or institution want you, the human being, to know that!

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Many imagine that their personal choices make no difference in terms of impact on their environment, but they do!

Each choice, every decision that is implemented, has a direct and cumulative effect on the planet, for everything is connected!

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I have a visitor this weekend. I have chosen to make a vegetarian cottage pie…this is the filling and it tastes yummy!

There is no need to be part of the killing industry, no need at all.

As a vegetarian and aspiring vegan, my health is good and I have lots of energy.

I have visited the doctor twice over the past ten years.

I feel good about that choice, for I truly love all animals.

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My guest will have home made pizza tomorrow and here is the sauce being cooked on the stove.

Cooking the day before allows all the flavours to infuse.

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And we shall eat in a style that does not cost the earth in an unfitted kitchen.

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If we recognise that there is immense change ahead for us all in the climate chaos manifesting, then we can build as much resilience into our homes and lives as possible.

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My guest will stay in the Eco-lodge, heated to perfection with this small wood-burning stove, where the kettle sings constantly ready for tea.

Be the change you want to see!

A New Way of Living

DSCF1520Food production can be a problem for many people who have little or no access to land.

DSCF1521There are many who live in conditions where even a balcony is a precious space.

DSCF1532I have spoken before about the ways in which access to growing space can be achieved, through allotments, community gardens and the like, but here is something which may prove to be an inspiration, a new way of looking at food, both growing it and eating!

DSCF1527As an aspiring Vegan, (sometimes I miss the mark!) and dedicated grower and lover of all life, I have recently been converted to “Micro Greens.”

DSCF1526The concept is extraordinarily simple!

DSCF1525Seeds such as lettuce, peas, beets, etc., are sown and grown for about two weeks or less, before being harvested and added to dishes.

DSCF1519These Micro-Greens, it is said, contain up to 40% more nutrients than older, traditionally grown and harvested vegetables.

I can believe it!

DSCF1524Yesterday evening, I had a dish of cooked brown rice, mixed with Micro Greens, seasoned and drenched with the juice of half a fresh lime and this morning I feel a surge of energy!

DSCF1530Micro Greens can be grown on a window ledge, balcony, hanging basket…anywhere they can get a decent dose of light!

DSCF1538Growing Organic is easy to manage in small areas too!

DSCF1541Little or no problem with slugs and availability all the year around!

DSCF1540For me, the days of packaged salad of any kind are over and the tiresome task of cooking greens are almost over…adding raw makes more sense in every aspect of preparing and eating food!

DSCF1544All you need is a tray, or pot of compost, seeds and water!

DSCF1545So, there you have it…a new way of living…simple, easy and kind to Mother Earth!

And the fun part? Now you can enjoy seeing some of your vegetables run to seed, like this Mizuna in the Potager Bed!

DSCF1546Here are just some of the seeds you can grow Micro Salads from…
Arugula
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Kale
Mustard greens
Radish
Red cabbage
Turnips
Watercress
Basil
Chervil
Chives
Coriander
Fennel
Lemon Balm
Mizuna
Rocket
Sage
Chard
and many more…
DSCF1547(Both the Light Catcher and the Bird Box were gifts, made by Nick O’Neill…aren’t they lovely?)
Happy growing!
Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage 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!

The Best Medicine!

www.bealtainecottage.com

Lists are great things to spend time on.

Despite the wet weather, I’ve been busy making a comprehensive list of what to grow …and the reasons why I should.

The ability to store food is at the forefront of my thinking.

I’ve discovered this year that Beetroot stores very well indeed.

Not just that it stores well, but is a first class root vegetable in the making of healthy juice.

www.bealtainecottage.comThis is one taken from a box in the pantry and cut open to be juiced.

Last year was the first year that I grew this wonderful root vegetable and was surprised at how easy it was to grow! www.bealtainecottage.comThe tunnel is now ready to sow.

Most of the seeds will go into the polystyrene fish boxes I used last year.

www.bealtainecottage.comI simply scattered the seeds into the filled boxes and pricked out the seedlings as they came on…the healthiest were those from boxes where the seed was all mixed in together and in no particular order!

Swiss Chard in the tunnel today...Ruby Chard

Swiss Chard in the tunnel today…Ruby Chard

Greens are next on my list…and again, in no particular order, just greens!

Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel

Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel

As a vegetarian who tries to avoid dairy, greens are an important part of my diet.

Mixed greens picked in the gardens and tunnel today

Mixed greens picked in the gardens and tunnel today

I add greens to my juice every day to stay fit and healthy.

Parsley,Fennel,Chard and Broccoli leaves all go into a healthy juice.

Parsley,Fennel,Chard and Broccoli leaves all go into a healthy juice.

I have lived at Bealtaine Cottage for almost ten years and have only needed to visit my doctor once.

The best medicine...fresh juice made from home-grown produce! A healthy alternative to big pharma drugs!

The best medicine…fresh juice made from home-grown produce! A healthy alternative to big pharma drugs!

During this time I have not suffered a cold or infection and never stayed a day in bed…something I must treat myself to at some point!

Fresh straw was laid on the paths between the beds.

Fresh straw was laid on the paths between the beds.

All the Herb beds were cut back and the paths in-between covered with straw…

to keep the weeds down.

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Sometimes we do not even need to sow or plant, as foraging for wild food can produce excellent results.

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When I lived in London there were many places that bordered on wilderness and produced masses of food.

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There’s a growing movement to get local and municipal councils to plant fruit and nut trees in public parks and highways.

November 2011 079Resilience has it’s foundations in food security and is an aspect of life we need to take more seriously, but, more importantly, see that it not only gets onto the political agenda, but stays at the top of all planning!

If you wish you can subscribe to the latest website from Bealtaine Cottage…”Bealtaine Cottage Good Life”…simply make a donation of 12 euros for a full year and access the long list of blogs now on site. Quote: “Bealtaine Cottage Good Life” with your donation.

(Please note that this small donation sustains the work on this website, Bealtaine Cottage YouTube, Bealtaine Cottage Podcast and Bealtaine Cottage Magical Gardens FaceBook.)

 

A Weekend of Sustainable Living…

Kitchen at bealtaine Cottage

Many people are trying to make the transition into a more sustainable way of living.

courtyard at Bealtaine CottagePermaculture, growing food, making wine, spinning… are all facets of sustainable living that interest many people, as the economy continues to dwindle.

Willow arch and buttercupsVisitors to this blog and the Bealtaine Cottage YouTube channel continue to grow at an amazing rate…sparking an interest in what sustainable living is all about.

permaculture garden at bealtaine cottageThis is an opportunity to spend a full weekend at Bealtaine Cottage, immersed in sustainable living, experiencing first hand, a comfortable and permaculture lifestyle.

Roses at bealtaine cottageThe subjects covered in this weekend workshop will include wine-making, composting, soft fruit growing, raised Potager bed construction and planting, as well as growing/harvesting fuel for the stove.

 

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine CottageYou will get to use a rocket stove, shred harvested materials to make mulch, learn to take and plant cuttings and ask lots of questions about many aspects of sustainable living.
veranda at bealtaine cottageThis will afford you the time and space to ask  questions about the permaculture way of living, growing and developing a sustainable lifestyle…easily!

The Lodge at BealtaineYou will get to stay in the Lodge at Bealtaine, with it’s own wood-burning stove and veranda, with beautiful, peaceful views across some of the gardens.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageDuring the course of the weekend you will be able to explore the gardens at leisure, eat wholesome Vegetarian or Vegan food and enjoy home made wine!

herb gardens at bealtaine cottageThe dates for this weekend are: 2-4th of August.

Irish dresser at Bealtaine CottageThe sustainable living weekend is limited to two people sharing, so it helps if you know each other!

herb gardens at Bealtaine CottageFor further details, email: coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

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Oops…it’s gone…This weekend is now fully booked!

Bealtaine Cottage Fruit Growing and Winemaking Workshop

Bealtaine Cottage rhubarbGrowing food is important.

Bealtaine Cottage BlackcurrantsHere at Bealtaine Cottage there is another bumper crop of Blackcurrants, Rhubarb, Apples, Pears and Plums growing.

Bealtaine Cottage redcurrants from the permaculture gardensPreserving and using fruit is a challenge when the crops are this abundant!

Bealtaine Cottage wine makingMaking wine is one of the delights of summer, allowing fruit to be preserved in a unique and tasteful way…wine!

Bealtaine Cottage wine makingThere will be a day long wine making and fruit growing workshop at Bealtaine Cottage on Saturday, the 29th of June.

Bealtaine Cottage teaA Vegetarian lunch will be provided, as will morning and afternoon tea/coffee and home made cakes.

home made wine at Bealtaine CottageIf you would like to book a place, please email Colette on:

coletteoneill2010@hotmail.com

An Alternative Christmas

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture porch

The frost has settled on the ground all around the cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardenThe land looks very much like a Christmas card, with frost sparkling in the early morning sun.

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter GardenThere is something so captivating about the light at midwinter…it really is quite magical!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Garden at MidwinterThe sad thing is that much of the magic has disappeared from Christmas.

This special time has become so very commercialised, that it seems near impossible to avoid the frenzy that is now Christmas!

However, in recent years I have attempted to do just that, and this year I feel comfortable with my own very special take on the festivities.

I am a baby vegan…just starting this wonderful journey.

Previous to that I was a vegetarian, so meat has been off the menu for some time now.

This dietary choice takes me out of one Christmas loop.

So, instead of a massive dinner that used to leave me wedged onto a sofa for most of the evening, stomach heavy with over-indulging, I cook up an absolute feast of dishes that serve as a dinner and evening buffet for family and friends.

Xmas eve Dec 11 001As it is a special feast, all who attend bring a special dish of food, so the term feast is justly applied.

Gifts are exchanged, but they are special, hand-made or locally sourced gifts.

This year I have made each family member an album of photographs of special memories.

A painting of a beloved pet was commissioned for another dinner guest.

An Irish woollen scarf has been knitted for another…and so on.

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 010There are lots of home made wines and liqueurs, all made from fruit and flowers grown here at Bealtaine and none of which will cause a hangover!

Games are played…most of which end in silliness!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture stoveAs there is no television we talk…something that the television usually does for us!

In the afternoon we all go for a walk in the woods down near Lough Key…usually with no-one else around.

“Who shall describe the inexpressible tenderness and immortal life of the grim forest, where Nature, though it be midwinter, is ever in her spring, where the moss-grown and decaying trees are not old, but seem to enjoy a perpetual youth.” ~Henry David Thoreau

At this special time of year, in the deep midwinter, there is beauty and joy and friendship.

Money cannot purchase any of these gifts.

The Easiest to Grow Vegetables and Fruit from Bealtaine Cottage

Potatoes.
Last year I grew them successfully on straw and manure spread on the ground on top of cardboard.
The ground was in perfect condition afterwards for digging in a new Rhubarb bed.

Swiss Chard.
A  cut and come again crop.
It just keeps on giving!
www.bealtainecottage.com 007Here it is growing outdoors during the winter.
The frost may set it back but it grows again quickly from the root.
Swiss Chard in the tunnel today...Ruby Chard

Swiss Chard in the tunnel today…Ruby Chard

Eat young leaves as salad or
cook.
You can sow directly into the soil, but I prefer to start almost everything off in pots to give them some strength to resist the slugs!
Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel

Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel

The stalks are marvellously coloured and can be white, as above, yellow, red, and orange, so they can look great in flower beds too!

www.bealtainecottage.com

Beetroot grows easily and stays in the ground over winter, so can be harvested without fuss.
If left in the ground until the following spring, you will be able to harvest some young leaves from the plant too.
Great in Juices too!
www.bealtainecottage.com 029Parsley…a biennial, so will over-winter perfectly and not be set back by frost if protected just a little, like above, using an old bottom-less bread tin.
 

Pumpkins…grow the same as Butternut Squash…the more enriched the soil,  the bigger they grow…so, watch out! 

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash…I grew these from saved seeds from the previous year.
Just make sure that the soil is enriched with lots of well rotted manure, or good compost, for they are hungry plants!
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Apples…invest in a few apple trees…fruit trees will never let you down! I have planted around forty fruit trees of all varieties here at Bealtaine Cottage.
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When in blossom, fruit trees are a wonderful source of food for the Bees…
harvesting blackcurrantsBlackcurrants…the gardens at Bealtaine are infested with them!
I have grown all of my Blackcurrant bushes from seed or cuttings!
I have a surplus of Blackcurrant cuttings at the moment and these are offered for sale at this link…
https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/
 
Bealtaine Cottage https://bealtainecottage.com/
Bealtaine Cottage YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/BealtaineCottage
Bealtaine Cottage Soundcloud https://soundcloud.com/bealtaine-cottage
Bealtaine Cottage Twitter https://twitter.com/PermaGoddess
Bealtaine Cottage Magical Gardens Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GoddessGardens/

Bealtaine Cottage now offers a subscription website and seeds for sale at minimal cost to supporters, (this keeps me solvent, pays the mortgage and sometimes a little more)…keeping the main website free for all, along with a NO ADS Youtube channel, Podcast and FaceBook sites, all listed above.

 

“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
Wendell Berry

Permaculture Cottage ~ Funky Scarf and Chunky Cake!

Friday afternoon at Bealtaine and despite the rain work between showers has contiued throughout the day. I hung this plaque on the kitchen door earlier, a present from a friend. It’s simple, colourful and evokes a sense of what lies beyond the door…the pantry!

Talking of which…there’s several demijohns of wine waiting to be bottled and laid down in here!

Knitted a scarf recently and was thinking about the edging…and after considerable searching around in the craft boxes stashed under beds and other forgetful places, I found these wooden beads, which I’ve threaded onto the edges of the scarf with wool and a big darning needle!

A big and bold arrangement in the vase on the mantlepiece in the sitting room, using some quickly cut pieces from the upper garden…just two varieties here! Simple is best and looks fab!

Simple and easy chunky cake…

  • 12 ozs SR Flour
  • 6 ozs  Margarine
  • 4 ozs caster sugar
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • buttermilk
  • home made Rhubarb Jam
  • Organic oats
  1. Weigh all the ingredients.
  2. Put all ingredients into the mixer.
  3. Whizz.
  4. Add eggs
  5. Whizz
  6. Add a little buttermilk
  7. Whizz.
  8. Line a cake tray, add half of the mix.
  9. Dollop jam on top and add remaining mix.
  10. Sprinkle with oats and demerara sugar.

Bake at 190 c for about 20 minutes or so.

And for a wet Friday evening…what can be nicer than a hot vegetable stew, with big chunks of fresh bread?

Have a good weekend!