It’s worth noting that theses productive little beds, built near the back of the cottage, straight onto gravel, have no soil in them whatsoever!
Soil is precious here in North Roscommon and the land is rushy and wet, so I filled the beds with home-made cold compost and shredding…I continue to build up the structure with shredding, made in my little electric shredder!
The beds carry a lot of food in them still, due to the close planting system I use…as food and flowers are harvested, other plants spread themselves out and the gaps are quickly filled with seasonal planting.
Garlic will be planted out over the weekend in this bed.
They like the micro-climate afforded them by the stones, as well as the good drainage.
This is an important aspect to growing apples in the west of Ireland, as many storms blow in from the western seaboard at a terrifying speed, decimating fruit production that’s in any way exposed!
Today is a fine day with clear skies and strong sunlight…this will help the tomatoes in one of the baskets to ripen, the salad tomatoes! it’s such a pleasure to be outdoors on days like today…one of the last flings of Summer as she goes on her wilful way!
If you would like to support the work of the Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture website, Youtube (ad-free) videos and Open Gardens project, please feel free to…
or visit the Etsy shop and purchase a hand-made or vintage product.
It’s a bed, with a cover and lots of cushions.
Looks good and is inter-changeable.
Like this fancy mirror above the mantle piece…born from broken mirrors and turned into a mirror mosaic.
The mantle piece cost 50 euros in a second-hand furniture shop.
The simplicity of living, almost cash free, is liberating and allows one to appreciate everything that comes ones way.
Like this mosaic floor, created from broken tiles, throw-a ways from a consumer driven society.
Life within the shop-till-you-drop, over-burdened, corporate-controlled madness that passes as culture, is beginning to wane.
A piece of Bog Oak, found on the beach and stood up in the garden, surrounded by plants…
A simple life, is one where bees are appreciated for the work they do and not just seen as a source of honey.
There are several wild bee nests here in the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage.
I plant food for them, though have no hives.
I want nothing from them, but their labour…let them keep their honey, they deserve it!
With little in material goods, there is less to think about and worry about.
Red onions and seeds dry in the heat of the afternoon sun at Bealtaine Cottage. The Permaculture harvest is on it’s way.
Potatoes are appearing where none were planted…these have grown from seed dropped last year and have not been earthed up!
Apples are plumping out…
My brother Hugh O’Neill has made some very special Bog Oak pendants for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop.
The wood is carved and polished by Hugh into these amazing pendants, each accompanied by glass or wooden beads…
I was given this beautiful old frame by a guy in a second-hand market in the local town.
It is one of the most beautiful picture frames I have ever come across.
Look closely at it, for it is a colourful mosaic of sea washed glass and shells.
For several years now it has waited patiently in the shed for someone with a good idea…who just happened to come along this week.
Cara was helping me to find a hammer in the outside shed on Monday, when she spied this frame and suggested it be used as a chalk board for the garden…all it needed was some board cut to fit, which could then be painted with blackboard paint and fitted into the frame!
Cara turned up with the finished, magnificently up-cycled chalkboard today and promptly fitted it onto the wall of the lodge under the shelter of the veranda.
After juicing organic apples and carrots, I add Kale, Apple-mint, Lemon Balm, Fennel and Parsley.
Juicing is a great way of ensuring a steady supply of the finest and freshest nutrients, especially using what is so easily grown in the edible gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage.
These are the ingredients for this evening’s meal.
Despite the problems with weather and lack of sunshine, this is turning out to be one of the best years on record for the harvest at Bealtaine Cottage.
Continual adaptation to climate change is paying off, as the Potager Beds have excelled themselves in little over ten weeks since construction and planting.
Designed and built in the truly vernacular style, using stone sourced on site, these beds have been a blessing in production and style.
Blessed with continual warmth and shelter at the back of the cottage, the plants have excelled themselves, doing better than those planted in the tunnel!
The Apple harvest is the best ever, as these trees have brought apples to my table every year since planting.
I have been out this morning and made a video for you to see for yourselves…it is amazing.
Oh, and as a joyous footnote…the Bats are back at Bealtaine Cottage…small and few, I suspect a new colony, but it is a stunning sight to watch at dusk!
Today’s video…just click on the link!
Pumpkins take pride of place on my dresser back in 2010.
There is a brilliant Pumpkin season underway here in the west of Ireland, with some of the biggest and best being grown outdoors, despite the lack of sun this summer.
There was an almost full moon in the southern sky last night and the sky was clear and blue this morning.
However, rain and storms are forecast!
The moon last night was strong enough to light up the back of the cottage.
It waxed and shone brightly.
I am busy harvesting onions, garlic, herbs, potatoes, chard and loads of Apples.
Nights are closing in and there’s even a little frost on the grass some mornings.
This is my favourite season!
I feel strongly about the amount of waste that happens every day in our lives…”throw it away”…but where is ‘away?’
We all live on this finite planet.
We share the oceans…they’re all connected.
We share the air, good grief, we share everything on this planet, though some are greedy beyond belief!
These broken tiles were going to be buried in a landfill site…I needed a floor…and so a connection was made between some like-minded people.
This is the result, much admired by visitors to the cottage…my floor, a statement of permaculture fusion, permaculture art maybe?
Making a Rose Arch in the garden needn’t cost a penny!
This Rambling Rose is supported by a Ribes hedge and a couple of lengths of Willow.
There are several different kinds of flowering shrubs on either side to support wildlife and biodiversity, which is probably the reason why my Apple Harvest this year and every other year is so bountiful!
Observation is a key element in Permaculture.
It is also a great friend of any gardener, for observing one’s garden allows one to continually create small and interesting places from what grows and shapes itself.
A kind of evolutionary gardening if you like!
According to the Irish Calendar which is based on ancient Celtic traditions, autumn lasts throughout the months of August, September, and October, or possibly a few days later, depending on tradition….so the first month of autumn is almost over!
There is a heavy harvest of all berries this year…sign of a cold winter to come…but the birds will be fed well as there are simply tons of berries here at Bealtaine Cottage.
I began my work here providing nuts for the birds in feeders all over the gardens, but the shrubs and trees planted are all producing more than adequate food for the birds and all wildlife, so the bird-feeders have all been passed on.
The land approaches Lughnasa, (Lughnasadh), August and the beginning of Autumn.
Looking at the apples today on the trees at Bealtaine Cottage, it is easy to see how this is.
Harvests continue to be gathered and develop, ripening to plumpness and fullness.
Tomatoes, like the ones above, grown outdoors in areas of micro-climate warmth and shelter, continue to flower and produce.
The weather is promised good for the week ahead, as grass moves in the gentle breeze of a July afternoon…the only missing part of this picture is the beautiful Butterflies, so decimated by rain last year and almost finished off with rain and cold this summer.
There is little I can do to help this situation, other than continue to grow and plant out Buddleias and other shrubs and flowers much beloved of these fairy creatures with coloured wings.
Herbs are harvested, tied into small bunches and hung to dry in the warmth of the tunnel, with lots of air circulating, as both doors remain open day and night during summer.
Lughnasa is a harvest festival, marking the end of the period of summer growth and the beginning of the autumn harvest.
This is the time to save seed…as you can see, seed-heads have formed beautifully on the Leeks in the tunnel today.
I will save the seed of the strongest plant, for sowing next year.
Jostaberries are almost ready to harvest.
They come into season just after the Blackcurrant.
Many people think that Lughnasa was a fire festival, but it was not.
Lughnasa was associated with water and earth, as seen in decoration of wells, making of corn-dollies, decorating and adorning with flowers, and climbing mountains.
Many of the most beautiful flowers come into flower at this time…the Crocosmia by the door of the tunnel will flower over the next week or so, as will the gorgeous Shasta Daisy!
The plant just peeping into the tunnel is Lemon Balm.
Wonderful scents arise as one brushes past it!
Wood cut last winter will be ready for the barn by Lughnasa.
It dries well when stacked like this!
Lughnasa is a Celtic cross-quarter festival, meaning it is not a Solstice or an Equinox, but falls between.
Perhaps this Lughnasa you will climb a mountain, visit a Holy Well, collect Bilberries, bring in the first potatoes…all celebrations of this special, magical, Celtic Festival!
I made a short video to show you some of the beauty… you can click on that below.
The apples have all set and are developing well.
There promises to be a magnificent crop this year, so all the recipes for apple wine, chutney,butter, cider and more will be perused and debated…will I make this or that or…
The Willow is now in leaf, as are most of the trees, with the Ash being the last to leaf.
The scent as I walk around the gardens from the blossom on the Hawthorn trees is heavenly!
Work in the kitchen is almost finished and the task of stencilling will start later in the week.
I thought that an Ivy stencil would be lovely, so will cut one out when I get the chance to sit down!
Anyway, here is today’s video, with love from Bealtaine Cottage…click and enjoy…
Apples harvested at Bealtaine Cottage last year…you can tell it’s from 2010 as the walls are now blue…though I may repaint them soon, as I mix my own colours and feel a creative moment or two approaching!
Bring forth the raisins and the nuts-
Tonight All-Hallows’ Spectre
Along the moonlit way.
~John Kendrick Bangs
Of course, Apples are the signature of Samhain/Halloween…where would we be without the Apple Ducking Game or the Toffee Apple, or, best of all…the Apple Pie?
There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the
dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable
mystery. ~Joseph Conrad
Stir the fire till it lowe
How like a queen comes forth the lonely
From the slow opening curtains of the clouds
Walking in beauty to her
Little beats the delight of walking though deep piles of Autumn leaves on a crisp, sunny day, with a chill in the air!
The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and
there a yellow leaf shows itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a
beauty who has seen one season too many. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is
a time of sowing, of scattering abroad. ~Edwin Way Teale
Jack is my beautiful rescue dog…I usually introduce thus to strangers as a way of excusing his enthusiasm for life…jumping up to greet people!
Jack loves walking, so we go out at least twice a day along the laneway where I live, here at Ballyfermoyle.
I took these photos this morning for you all to see soem of what Jack and I see…
Recipe for Autumn Chutney…easy and you get to choose the fruit!
- 1.5kg apples, chopped up in small pieces
- 80g chopped dates
- 100g raisins
- 450g onions, fine chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 350g soft brown sugar
- 550mls malt vinegar
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- half tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt
Put all the ingredients into a large pan over a gentle heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.
Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for one and a half hours. Stir a few times during cooking.
Pot immediately, but leave to mature for at least a week for the flavours to infuse.
I had some on bread whilst still hot and it’s yummy!
I will save some of the corn seeds for planting next year…
First of all a BIG TA VERY MUCH for all who have visited my blog over the past year. I began in the middle of August 2010 and in little over a year, 70,000 of you have made the journey to Bealtaine Cottage at Ballyfermoyle, here in the beautiful West of Ireland…well, actually, a very great many of you have visited many times over and subscribed to the blog. Hopefully in the next year the blog will expand even more in some exciting ways…ssshhh, it’s still a secret!
Fuschia and Fedges grow side by side. Both are grown from slips or cuttings. It will soon be time to harvest the willow and plant more cuttings, which is really the story of these gardens. Planting has been ongoing now for seven years, since day one of Bealtaine…
The Wisdom of the Hopi Indians…something to share with you, just click on the link…http://youtu.be/zNlNUJcEcoY
Have a great weekend! Plant a tree for the Mother…Gaia… x
The evening sun floods the flowers in the East Garden at Bealtaine Cottage. The Pear in the foreground was wind damaged back in the late Spring, but I have left it to grow as it will do nicely for Chutney!
The first day of Autumn in the Celtic calendar and the harvest continues. Blackcurrants are being picked at Bealtaine, along with masses of herbs, including Oregano, Chives, Dill and Fennel…though the Fennel in the tunnel is seeding and will be dried and stored for baking purposes later on.
Yes…it’s hard to believe, but there have been bumper harvest every year at Bealtaine and this is set to continue as the land moves from monoculture in year one to wonderful biodiversity in year seven, with shelter developing and compost heaps bursting…
Remember the immense power as a consumer you have…and ultimately, your ability, with others, to control the market…buying Fairtrade and supporting local producers is one way to control the market for the good, rather than giving your precious money and support to the global corporations who wreak havoc on our world…
The grapevine, grown from a cutting about four years ago, has produced well this season. This was pruned hard at the end of the winter and then lightly at the end of spring. Well developed bunches of grapes have set and continue to thrive.
A Celtic emblem on my back door. The paint on the door is well scratched and there is a definite patina of life therein. Dogs and children, all attempting to enter the cottage with little patience and no time to wait! I know I have to paint it soon, because the weather demands it, but then this testament to life and laughter and fun and games will be erased…
Moving the tyres in the vegetable garden is a milestone reached this week…converting all to log, deep beds and narrow paths…easier to mulch and now that the soil has improved, I can do this. It has taken 7 years of work and patience, but it has finally paid off!
Apples continue to swell and grow and are, each one, quite perfect. These trees have never had any sprays or chemicals of any kind at all, yet continue to give perfect harvest every single year. Nature knows best!
Valerian grown from seed continues to flower and will do all summer and into the autumn all the time that the seedheads are removed…
Blackcurrants and Sage in the Nursery area, again grown from seeds, so 100% permaculture at Bealtaine plants to come. Both of these plants grow very easily from seed scattered into limestone gravel and left to overwinter, before being pricked out and potted on…how simple is that?
Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium ), a member of the sunflower family, has been used for centuries in European folk medicine.
This sweet smelling flower is commonly associated as a remedy for headaches, arthritis, and fevers.
The name Feverfew is derived from the Latin word for fever…febrifugia, meaning, fever reducer!
It grows really easily from seed, self-seeding all over the gravel here at Bealtaine Cottage.
This is growing in a pot near the back door of the house, on the southern side.
These are rambling roses, climbing and pushing their way across a willow arch I made to help support them last year.
Roses are best known as ornamental plants grown for their flowers in the garden.
There are several different varieties here, though I don’t really know the names, as I have grown them from slips, mostly purloined from other gardens!
Roses are used for commercial perfumery and commercial cut flower crops.
Some are used as landscape plants and for hedging.
Although Roses have minor medicinal uses, the fruits, or Rose-hips tell a different story altogether, most famous for the syrup made from them and fed to babies!
This is a little apple tree bought by my mother and planted into a quiet little spot on the land behind the cottage.
The apple is from the species, Malus domestica, in the rose family (Rosaceae).
It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits.
The tree originated in Western Asia, where its wild ancestor, the Alma, is still found today.
There are more than 7,500 known cultivars of apples.
Cultivars vary in their yield and the ultimate size of the tree, even when grown on the same rootstock.
This particular cultivar is a miniature apple tree.
At least 55 million tonnes of apples are grown worldwide, annually. China produces about 35% of this total.
The United States is the second-leading producer, with more than 7.5% of world production.
Iran is third, followed by Turkey, Russia, Italy and India.
I noticed the birds coming down to feed on the flowers of the pansies.
The red and pink plant at the front is the little plant, Herb Robert.
Apples today in the gardens at Bealtaine.
Lots of mulching.
Sheeps wool mulched around base.
Regular feeds of manure tea.
Maximum biodiversity planted around the trees.
Trees well spread out.
Hedges and shrubs to protect from the wind.
In other words, intelligent planting, thought-out and planned along permaculture lines…
Just a few shots of empathy for and with Nature, alongside good, basic common-sense, realising that Nature is poly-cultural and loathes monoculture in any form, so, be diverse!
Plant for maximum biodiversity, with pockets of plants everywhere in your garden…and don’t try to dominate!
Us humans seem to have an innate desire to dominate Nature, an idea supported by so many of the world religions!
Use Local Resources
Raised beds can be made from most materials.
Local is best.
I continue to use some tyres in my gardens, but am replacing them gradually with stone, local stone, as and when I uncover it or come across it.
Wood is good and sustainable.
All my compost heaps are made using old doors, up-cycled to a new use!
Look at what you have as a local and preferably free resource and start using it!
By far the easiest and best way of growing I have ever encountered…this is my template for a great garden.
These are the potatoes this morning, growing mightily on a no-dig potato bed.
Have a look at previous blogs to see how this was started…
Collect and Save Seed!
Fennel in the tunnel this morning, flowering and soon to seed.
Save seed…any seeds and grow them on and share them out and value this above all else that you do, for without seed we have nothing!
Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 85 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.
Visitors to Bealtaine Cottage are welcomed free.
Donations are always welcome.
Thank you for supporting this blog
Mum celebrates her 81st birthday this month and is staying with us for a holiday. Flo is on permanent holiday! mum loves the animals to be close-by and finds great comfort in them. So, she sleeps contentedly on the bed, watched over by Flo, the rescue babe…it’s a joy to see them both in their shared happiness. Long life to them!
Dog Daisies, regarded as a weed, are blooming all over the west of Ireland at present. This is a clump of them near the back of the cottage. Allowed to grow each year, they will begin to form a little colony and eventually become a part of the flowering season, like these!
Blackcurrants ripening…soon time to begin harvesting…cordials and wines will be on the top of the list to make from these this year. Since becoming Vegan I am aware of the importance of good quality food and drink and am developing a fondness for cordials. The Elderflower cordial at the moment is being snaffled by visitors, so am having to step up production! I have yet to make Blackcurrant Cordial, but am looking forward to learning and doing!
Here is the recipe for the Elderflower Cordial
It’s so very simple!
30g citric acid
1 litre water
Coll boiled water. Add Elderflowers & citric acid. Leave for about 48hours, strain, add sugar. Dissolve sugar, keep stirring. Bottle.
This recipe was given to me by a Permaculture Visitors to Bealtaine, Derek and Mary, who left me a bottle of the cordial and I was well impressed! It keeps for a year and more…if you have that much willpower! I use glass bottles, the screw top kind
The roses hang heavy on the veranda trellis, spurred on by copious amounts of soft rain and sunshine…Today at Bealtaine.
And furry little balls of new peaches start to look important on the tiny, new tree in the tunnel…Today at Bealtaine.
And the small Nectarine tree, also in the tunnel, showing off with an abundance of fruit on its two year old branches…Today at Bealtaine.
Water drops on Lady’s Mantle…one of the reasons why this perennial is so beautiful and loved here at Bealtaine.Picked all this beautiful Chard in the tunnel this morning to juice with some apples and kick-start my day…and it did!Pulling and stretching the sourdough is really therapeutic! I’m using the recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall…It’s looking good…now to wait for the rise…The bread has spread…oh dear! I have a feeling that either the starter is too powerful or I needed to add more flour…I’ll get there eventually!