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 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…
Over 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!
That 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!
As Spring moves across the land, a drying wind is working its magic on the earth. The greening is under-way.
The 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.
This is the beautiful Field Maple to the front of the cottage.
Continuing my lifelong passion for trees…this is a wall tile I made from clay…complete with tree, a fairy tree.
The 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.
This 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!
Even cream came in little stoneware jars like this, as it kept cool in the pantry in the days before every home had a fridge!
Bill Mollison once said, “I teach self-reliance, the world’s most subversive practice. I teach people how to grow their own food, which is shockingly subversive. So, yes, it’s seditious. But it’s peaceful sedition.”
Applying design to growing makes for good permaculture.
As Ireland endures a wetter and wetter climate, constructing vegetable beds on the top of gravel helps to counteract the worst elements of flooding.
The same design principles are applied in the polytunnel.
Beds are raised and paths are lowered, allowing for good drainage on this north facing slope.
This is a Nectarine tree, under-planted with Comfrey, which is then regularly chopped and dropped throughout the growing season, thus feeding the hungry fruit tree.
It has been planted in a central area in the tunnel so as to avoid cold drafts when doors are open.
This morning sees the blossom opening at just the right time, as bees are emerging from hibernation, so it’s essential to have both doors open to receive them.
Now this is something rarely seen, but this system works very well for me…seeds are sown together in one, big, deep, polystyrene, re-cycled box.
As seeds emerge and gain strength, I gently tease them out and pot them on, leaving space behind for the next swathe of emerging seedlings.Rhubarb fills out a Spring bed, with Raspberries coming along next in seasonal line!
The Summer fruiting Rhubarb lies protected under this mound of straw…excluding light from emerging weeds.
The bed is mound shaped as every year sees more and more compost added.
And here’s the black gold…home made compost. As all of the gardens are on a north-facing slope, the tyres do not interfere with the quality of the compost, just protects the heap from the east and north weather systems…particularly cold!
Trees and bushes all play a part in the permaculture design, creating shelter and wind-breaks in this instance.
You can see one of the six bins used for compost toilet waste re-cycling tucked in on the right of the picture.
This makes great planting compost for trees!
More rain storms moving in from the west and Atlantic seaboard this morning, but the sun continues to shine!
As smoke curls up in wisps from the chimney, reminding me that a hot kettle awaits me indoors…tea!
I love the unpredictable Irish weather!
And the way everything greens up so quickly after the winter!
Have a good weekend everyone.
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…
Full moon rises over Bealtaine Cottage. The night air is clear, so the moon lights up the land as in a fairy landscape.
“The only basic and comprehensive answer to the colossal harm that our present industrial system is causing to the global environment – harm that could lead to the extermination of all life on earth – is to replace it with a sustainable system – geared largely to the non-polluting, life-enhancing products of the living world” Robert A de J Hart ‘Forest Gardening’
“It is our collective responsibility to protect and nurture the global family, to support its weaker members and to preserve and tend to the environment in which we all live” Dalai Lama
Have you ever gone for a walk in the light of the full moon?
“Is it all worth it? If we do our best to heal the Earth and make our place in her a sustainable one, is there a good chance that we will succeed?…to my mind that’s the wrong question. Even if we could answer it – and we can never know anything about the future for certain, it would beg the question How do I want to live my life? So my answer to the question..is that I want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem”. Patrick Whitefield ‘Earth Care Manual’
“It is time for all of us to make changes about how we live our lives and to follow a path of the heart. By following our intuition and inspiration we encourage our own acts of heartfelt genius and boldness. This makes us feel alive and vital, gives us a great purpose and harnesses parts of ourselves we may have neglected or didn’t even know we had. We no longer feel overwhelmed by the way the Earth’s resources are managed, but recognise that change is in our hands, yours and mine, the hands of extraordinary people who have made a leap of understanding and are determined to make a difference. We become part of the change by becoming part of the solution.” Glennie Kindred ‘Earth Wisdom’
“Permaculture is a design system for creating sustainable human environments. The word itself is a contraction not only of permanent and agriculture but also of permanent culture, as cultures cannot survive for long without a sustainable agricultural base and landuse ethic. On one level, permaculture deals with plants, animals, buildings, and infrastructures (water, energy, communications). However, permaculture is not about these elements themselves, but rather about the relationships we can create between them by the way we place them in the landscape. ~ Bill Mollison
Under such a sky the air is chilled.
“Permaculture is also a world wide network and movement of individuals and groups working in both rich and poor countries on all continents. Largely unsupported by government or business, these people are contributing to a sustainable future by reorganizing their life and work around permaculture design principles. In this way they are creating small local changes but ones which are directly and indirectly influencing action in the wider environment, organic agriculture, appropriate technology, communities and other movements for a sustainable world. After 20 years Permaculture may rank as one of Australia’s most significant ‘intellectual exports’.” ~David Holmgren
“Adopting permaculture in your garden could be the first step towards limiting your personal consumption and planning your life to become more creative as time goes by” Graham Bell, ‘The Permaculture Garden’