Why Save Seed?

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All seed-saving at Bealtaine Cottage helps to preserve heirloom seeds’ genetic diversity!

This is Bealtaine Cottage Lunaria.

dsc07184This seed has adapted over twelve years to grow in difficult conditions, for as you know, it rains frequently here and the gardens are all on a north-facing slope.

harvesting seed at Bealtaine CottageThis is why the seed saved here, year after year, is more resilient than commercial seed, which is grown in ideal conditions for the maximum production value!

Foxglove seed Saving seed also makes one value the pollinators, especially the Bees…for without their incredible work there would not be any seed to collect! 

Lunaria seeds drying on the veranda of the LodgeDuring the 1900’s we experienced a startling drop in the number of heirloom varieties—because gardeners stopped saving and trading their own seeds.

Bealtaine Cottage SeedsHere at Bealtaine Cottage I have developed a seed bank over twelve years, adding more and more seed year on year, as the biodiversity increased similarly throughout the gardens. 

growing seeds at BealtaineWhen we rely on commercial seed companies, any seeds that sell slowly simply get dropped from production and disappear.

seedlings in tunnel at Bealtaine CottageIf you would like to support this vital work of seed-saving and building resilience for the future, consider purchasing some seed from Bealtaine Cottage…

Click on the link below to see what’s available so far… (I’m adding continually as more becomes ready to pack!) 

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

Natural Gardening and No-Dig Growing

DSC00027DSC00032Ireland is the richest source of Celtic  myths and legends.

DSC00029Down through the Ages, Ireland remained remote and cut off from mainland Europe, holding onto its rich folklore and spirituality.

DSC00030DSC00031It’s peoples worshipped all aspects of the natural world in which they recognised the Divine, in much the same way as I do here at Bealtaine Cottage.

DSC00034The reason for the wealth of myth and legend that pervades Ireland, today and it’s people lies not just from its isolation from mainland Europe for much of its history.

DSC00035Ireland remained free from pressures exerted by other cultures such as the Roman Empire.

DSC00036So much so, that the great writer, John B. Keane referred to his people as having only a “thin veneer of Christianity…” in that they merged their pre-Christian practices with their newly inducted Christianity.

DSC00037 And so I offer this up as a simple explanation for the gardens at Bealtaine Cottage having evolved through a similar understanding of the natural world and the supreme forces of Nature.

DSC00038This is no ordinary Permaculture garden as you can see, but one deeply nourished and inspired by the Goddess.

DSC00039For me there is a spiritual, otherworldly, ethereal force at work and play here.

DSC00040This is the rational (for me) way of explaining the extraordinary growth and extreme revving-up of biodiversity that has happened at Bealtaine.

DSC00041All beyond my control…not that I ever wanted to control this magnificent force!

I leave that to the Planet-Wreckers!

DSC00042As I re-emerged through my journey with Mother Earth, I came to an intuitive understanding of the need to stop digging Her…to let Her be!

DSC00043So I mulch and cover Her with as much tenderness as befits the Great Mother.

DSC00044You will never see any of Her precious skin exposed.

DSC00045Her mantle remains in place.

DSC00046And so this brings me to the second part of this story…

DSC00047The wonderful success of No-Dig Gardening…

DSC00050And here is the first of over twenty photographs and the story of growing success at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland…continued over at Bealtaine Cottage Good Life… bealtainecottage.org

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Thrive

April 2011 Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardens

Seedlings are thriving in the tunnel.

Spring is in full bloom and life is thriving at Bealtaine Cottage.

April 2011 Ballyfermoyle 013

There is a certain joy in the air that is spiralling outwards and upwards capturing the energy of all life.

April 2011 Earth Day at bealtaine cottage permaculture gardens

Primulas and Lady’s Mantle show off their form and colour, jostling for attention as the sun rises higher and higher in the clear blue skies above this little cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage

I love archways like this in the gardens, for there is something deeply spiritual and connective about the shape of them, joining one side of a path to another…connecting, as we’re all connected!

April 2011 Bealtaine 005

Green, deep shades of green symbolising life at it’s most potent and powerful.

April 2011 Bealtaine 003

Healing colour that pulses energy through the eye and deep into the human mind creating calm and joy.

April  Bealtaine Cottage Polytunnel

As Mother Earth thrives, so do we.

Bealtaine Cottage Gardens  in April 2011 001

The connection is so very simple to make.

We need little education to understand this most elemental of connectors we share with her.

The Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage

We need Nature to thrive.

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There is much to be said for the “Green Economy”, including the aspects of personal health and well-being we acquire through allowing Nature and ourselves to thrive.

April 2011 permaculturecottage 045

If you want to thrive, go to Mother Nature.

Pond in the Bog Garden at  Bealtaine Cottage

If you want children to thrive, place them in Nature.

April 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 011

The sounds, sights, scents of Mother Earth are all around us.

April Bealtaine Cottage 2011 013

The eminent Archaeologist, Marija Gimbutas, describes the power of Nature so well… “Her power was in water and stone, in tomb and cave, in animals and birds, snakes and fish, hills, trees and flowers. hence the holistic and mythopoeic perception of the sacredness and mystery of all there is on Earth.”

It’s time to go to her and begin to thrive.

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New Permaculture Orchard

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 007Last year I planted a new orchard at Bealtaine Cottage.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 008To date there are thirty eight fruit trees planted across the three acres of land here.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 012This new orchard was planted on an area previously fenced off and used for hens over a period of years.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 009This is always a good start, as the land was prepared by the hens in terms of manuring and picking over.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 010Before the trees were planted I laid down a generous spread of seaweed and covered this with cardboard, to hold back the weeds for a year or so.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 013Over the morning I have been planting yet more layers into the orchard, mainly flowers and herbs to attract and feed the bees…my secret of abundant harvests; where would we be without the bees?

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 014The next phase will include planting a bee-friendly hedge along the south edge of the area.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 015I planted Fuschia and Berberis, Dogwood and Rubus along the north edge.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 016As I cut back around the orchard, cuttings are dropped onto the ground around the trees and bushes as a mulch.
permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 021The planting continues as more and more flowers and herbs are brought from my small nursery area, a really important part of any permaculture garden or smallholding! 

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 019As with all my projects here at Bealtaine, I couldn’t resist using some Willow to effect, constructing a simple arbour that will eventually house a home-made bench, on which to sit and sup a cup of tea!
permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 024The plan of maximum planting has worked well all over the land here, building resilience as well as fertility into the land, as a forest does naturally.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 002The days have been warm and sunny, with the back door open all day long.

There is such a good balance of biodiversity here that flies don’t seem to be a bother…this can be a serious Irish complaint during the summer months!

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 003I pulled the sofa chair over to the open door as I find the soft sounds of life in the gardens very soothing.

permaculture orchard at bealtainecottage.com 001Sammy does too!

The idea of planting food trees is taking off here in the west of Ireland.

My local town of Drumshanbo has planted a Community Orchard near the entrance to the town…a great Transition Towns inspiration!

 

From the Fringe…

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 001The start of the week in this sacred place, where edges meet and overlap…a cooling, calming morning. 

Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 002The gardens are flourishing and birthing beauty all around me, so there was much to gather and choose from.

This is the tenth year using the roll of cellophane bought for me by my eldest daughter all those years ago as a leaving London present!

Small investments can and do go on giving!

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 003Walking the gardens this morning, after the rain, with the earth scents rising all around me, it was a delight to see the apples well on their way to a grand harvest.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 004I continue to drink the apple juice saved as frozen juice from the harvest last year.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 005The “poor” land here has given me more food than I can cope with…a continuing surplus builds year on year.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 006In this tenth year, it is no longer a surprise that the main stream media has steered clear of permaculture, for the truth of biodiversity undermines the huge Agri-business pushed by governments and those in power.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 007Permaculture has been pushed out to the fringes of society by ignoring the outcomes of such an approach.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 008This is why I write and photograph and film and keep putting it out there.

I don’t mind being ignored, but Mother Earth WILL have her voice heard and those tuning in are rising in numbers to a point where the mainstream media will have to take notice or end up being overtaken.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 010The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade.
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 011Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter.
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 012Natural Spring water flows in abundance from an aquifer that is unabused by demanding “flush it away,” toilet cisterns.

There is no away and besides which, water is sacred!

Why use clean water to flush our human waste into the rivers and oceans…no way, there is no away!
Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 013Taking care of people means taking care of the Earth…how simple is that philosophy to put into practice?

Not if you are a corporation or a politician on the make and take, for there is no money in caring, just an abundant, real economy!

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 014Our abiding relationship is with Mother Earth.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 016It is the only physical relationship which surpasses all others in this life.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 017If we imagine our world as a tapestry, then where are you on the stitching?

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 020Where do you want to be on the weave?

Here’s a thought: one of the biggest and most powerful supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland spent a small fortune on creating this advertising slogan, “Every Little Helps!”  

Own it!

 

 

The Permaculture Challenge

IMG_0057This is the tenth anniversary of Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Smallholding.

IMG_0002It’s hard to believe that ten years ago this was a desolate cottage on three acres of the poorest agriculture land imaginable.

permaculture at Bealtaine CottageWet, north-facing, thin, dauby soil promised little in the way of growing.

www.bealtainecottage.comIt was a challenge few in their right minds would have contemplated, let alone sink their life savings into, as well as borrowing from the bank!

DSCF1274But, I fell in love with the land, for it looked immeasurably forlorn and abandoned.

www.bealtainecottage.comMy approach was simple…it was holistic, nothing was separated or apart…all was connected and that included being connected to me, as the new caretaker and caregiver.

www.bealtainecottage.comI have never taken a Permaculture course, but read every book on the subject and applied the principles. Autumn 2013 at Bealtaine Cottage 015As a teacher I had created environmental gardens in primary school grounds in London, bringing Mother Nature to children living, in many cases, remote from Mother Nature and all her wonders!

www.bealtainecottage.comIn the early days I was physician and surgeon, intensive care nurse and visitor, channeling all my energy and hope into the sick land.

DSCF0813Working on my own was a blessing, for the land took all my time and love.

Autumn 2013 at Bealtaine Cottage 002
After ten years, this once barren little place is one of the most fertile and productive pieces of land in all of Ireland…in fact I would like to issue a challenge to The Botanical Gardens in Dublin and it is this: Bealtaine Cottage has more biodiversity in it’s flora and fauna than the Botanical Gardens, Dublin!

Dog Daisy benchVisit and prove me wrong!

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And in the beginning there was only this…

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Know Your Seeds

August 2011 permaculture cottage 010There are basically four different kinds of seed you can purchase.

  1. Open Pollinated Seed.    Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland 001
    This is the most natural seed, simply because it has not been interfered with in any laboratory.Seed growing in the polytunnel in late April at Bealtaine Cottage
    This seed is pollinated by Nature…bees, insects and wind. Occasionally by us too as we brush up against flowers and accidentally get pollen on our clothes, carrying it to another flower and so on. Permaculture Cottage August 2011 007Sometimes we help Mother Nature a little by gently brushing the pollen from one flower to another. It’s all good! August 2011 permaculture cottage 024These seeds are what are commonly referred to more and more as “Organic” on the packaging. August 2011 permaculture cottage 010Organic seeds are fast becoming more difficult to obtain in Garden Shops etc. August 2011 permaculture cottage 008This is because the big seed companies are busy buying up the small seed companies, leaving the consumer with less and less choice!
  2. Gloria, me and FloHigh Yielding Seed.    These look attractive in the packet, with lots of blurb attached to get you to buy, but, these seeds thrive on chemicals and are sort of married to chemicals too! Definitely not organic and in many cases a danger to bees and insects.
  3. www.bealtainecottage.comHybrids.   These are actually designed not to be saved!
  4. www.bealtainecottage.com 006G.E. Seed.   Otherwise known as GM, GMO and all about genetic engineering Nature and patenting the result. These seeds are injected with chemicals and then patented by corporations such as Monsanto. Monsanto declares to be above God Almighty, by stating, and being supported by US Law, that it created the seed!

Bealtaine Cottage 2nd August 2011 Permaculture Cottage 007This is merely a guide for you to build on.

August 2011 permaculture 048Find out all you can about seed, for it is your future and that of your children.

Veranda at Bealtaine CottageVandana Shiva: The seed in its essence is all of the past evolution of the Earth, the evolution of human history, and the potential for future evolution. The seed is the embodiment of culture because culture shaped the seed with careful selection—women picked the best, diversified. So from one grass you get 200,000 rices.

That is a convergence of human intelligence and nature’s intelligence. It is the ultimate expression of life, and in our language, it means “that from which life arises on its own, forever and ever and ever.”

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July permaculture 2011 008Here at Bealtaine Cottage in the West of Ireland I save seed…grown under Permaculture conditions which seek to protect both the integrity of the seed and the environment!

Open pollinated seed is available from Bealtaine Cottage.

Click on the link below to see the current list of seed.

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

Thank You, Monsanto!

Evening at BealtaineSo much for panicking…my computer is fixed!

I was really in a tiz thinking that I was going to be without the means of spreading the energy from Bealtaine Cottage and I’m glad about that, because as the evening progressed and my computer was being fixed, I had time to think about all the people I have met through this blog…and what we all have in common…Passion!

growing seeds at BealtaineGrowing life from seed and sharing the abundance of the ensuing seed and all because of Monsanto!

Elena's Rocket at BealtaineIf Monsanto had not attempted to own and monopolize  our seed, I would never have met Elena from Greece, who posted me this Rocket seed…now in the process of making more seed!

Oak seedlings growing at BealtaineOr David from the U.S. who sent me these Oak seeds, now growing in pots in the shelter of one of the sheds.

Sycamore and Fern at Bealtaine CottageAnd Eric who posted me a selection of tree seeds, all scattered in the gardens, for me to find in the autumn, as flowers and fruit and vegetables die back.

For then I will carefully lift and pot them on.

Fruit trees and berry bushes in the permaculture gardens of bealtaine CottageAnd the package I recently received from Switzerland, filled with Ginkgo seeds,  a unique species of tree with no close living relatives.

A tree that tolerates pollution and indeed even survived the Atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima!

Tunnel at Bealtaine this eveningOr the Black Tomato seeds from Tara in New York!

redcurrants ripening at Bealtaine CottageThe wickedness perpetrated by Monsanto, in trying to arrest, control and kill off the great biodiversity of life, has awakened so many to the very essence of life itself…seed!

Another Rose arch at bealtaine CottageWe are now aware and able to articulate what it is that makes life so fantastic…and it all stems from seed.

Apples growing in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine CottageNine years ago, my main interest in seed was far from protecting it, but simply in growing.

Thanks to Monsanto, I got to know great people like Dr Vandana Shiva, who  opened the door into a wonderful world of possibilities and challenges, to save and nurture seed.

Feverfew at BealtaineNine years ago I was growing food and flowers…today I am growing an Ark for Mother Nature, one that is more than the sum total of everything I have ever done before!

Feverfew at Bealtaine CottageMonsanto has aroused passions in people that few were ever aware of…certainly I never felt this passionate about Mother Earth!

Poppies growing up through the Nectarine tree at Bealtaine CottageAnd that is the difference between Monsanto executives and Seed savers and nurturers…passion.

bealtaine Cottage this eveningThey just don’t have it!

Eat your heart out, Monsanto!

 

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 120 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

There are over 550 blogs in the archives on this site.

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In Search of Sanctuary

Barn at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens

“Sanctuary” refers to a place set aside or designated as a protected spot.

Under EU Agricultural Policy there is a “Set Aside” plan for farmers to fence off small, protected areas for biodiversity.

However, this does not apply to Bealtaine Cottage, as the holding is too small to be significant!

Plant diversity at Bealtaine CottageI plant and protect for the love of Nature, not for the money from the EU!

Maybe that is why there is such diversity packed into these three acres!

Protected plants at Bealtaine CottageThe more well-known forms of sanctuary are areas set aside by humans for the protection of land wildlife, sea life, or ocean life.

Plant sanctuary at Bealtaine Cottage IrelandHere at Bealtaine there are areas of woodland, fresh water ponds and wetland, as well as other significant areas.

Plant Sanctuary, Bealtaine Cottage, IrelandBealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens is, in essence, a wildlife and unique sanctuary.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageWithin these three acres exist a flourishing ecosystem, as well as  areas set aside to maintain functioning natural habitats.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageThese ecosystems act as refuges for species, whilst maintaining ecological processes that cannot survive beyond Bealtaines’ boundaries in most intensely managed landscapes.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensProtected areas act as benchmarks against which we understand human interactions with the natural world.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine CottageToday they are often the only hope we have of stopping many threatened or endemic species from becoming extinct.

Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage

In the midst of EU sponsored monoculture, Bealtaine Cottage is an Ark for Nature.

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