Posted in Abundance, ancient Ireland, biodiversity, Bloom, Celts, forest gardens, Growing Food

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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Posted in Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Permaculture, Sustainable Living

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.

April 2011 bealtaine 015

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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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Birds, Cats, Edible Gardens, Garden, hens, Herbs, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding

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!

 

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, compost, Culture, Current Affairs, Eco-Living, Ecology, Edible Gardens, Food, Gardens, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency

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!

 

 

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Ecology, Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Woodland

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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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Earth, Food, Garden, Gardens, GM Food, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Monsanto, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Seed-Saving, Seeds, Sustainable Living

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.

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

Posted in biodiversity, Current Affairs, Garden, GM Food, Growing Food, Inspiration, Monsanto, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Seeds, Sustainable Living, Trees, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

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!

 

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Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, biodiversity, Butterflies, Culture, E.U., Ecology, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Thoughts, Trees, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

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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Posted in Badgers, biodiversity, Birds, Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Brings Hope…before and after images!

It’s been almost nine years since I began planting this smallholding in the west of Ireland. Before permaculture. Bealtaine CottageMany of you are familiar with the landscape as it looked then.

The picture above shows Bealtaine Cottage after a lot of cutting and clearing, around the time that the planting began. June 2011 permaculture cottage 021

This picture shows the same view today.

As you can see, the cottage is obscured…melting into the gardens of intense production.

Bealtaine Cottage before and after

The lonely, abandoned cottage on the first day I saw it.

Bealtaine Cottage driveway

Disappeared into the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…nine years of planting by one woman and a spade!

Installin permaculture pond at Bealtaine CottageThis picture shows the Bog Garden after the first pond was created and the surrounding land cleaned up for planting.

Photographs taken at the time depict a barren looking, rushy, wet landscape that offered little hope or sanctuary for gardeners, growers, wildlife or Nature.

Permaculture Cottage July 2011 016The same view down to the pond is obscured with dense and abundant planting.

This nine year journey has opened my eyes and my mind to the problems facing the entire planet in terms of food production, sustainable living and facilitating Nature.

The answer is simple.

June 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 023Plant!

As the planting develops, so fertility returns to the land.

Tree planting at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 015Birds choose to set up home nearby.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 016Frogs, Toads and Newts find their way to your pond and start to breed.

wild orchids at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 019Wild flowers make a show…like these wild Orchids.

apple trees at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage July 2011 011Fruit trees and bushes grow and give you fruit…more than what can be harvested!

tunnel at Bealtaine cottage005Micro-climates evolve as everything grows.

June 2011 Permaculture 002Fuel is harvested.

Small mammals settle into chosen areas…there is a Badger set at Bealtaine Cottage now.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageYour body becomes attuned to the seasons and good health follows.

The best part of all this, is that although permaculture requires  labour to set up, it is maintained with minimal work and attention.

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Posted in Abundance, Bats, Bees, biodiversity, Butterflies, Country Living, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Smallholding

Abundant Harvest at Bealtaine Cottage…seeing is believing!

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!

Bees and, blessed be, Butterflies are all in abundance too, a sight to behold!

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!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWLrpb6_9Wc

Posted in Abundance, biodiversity, Culture, Growing Food, Inspiration, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Roscommon, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Ireland under Permaculture could feed Europe!

It is difficult to comprehend, without seeing this photograph, that what is now a lush, abundant paradise, was once a barren monoculture, devoid of wildlife, birdsong and no biodiversity to speak of…

This was Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Smallholding on day one of the transformation, only made possible by applying permaculture principles and design.

What you are looking at is the view of the land from the cottage itself.

The transformation has been carried out single-handedly, by myself, aided only by planting, mulching and manuring, again carried out by hand over the course of eight years.

Today I decided to visit the well which feeds water to the cottage. The landscape of the hill behind the cottage remains unchanged, so you can see for yourself how inhospitable the cottage and land first looked…

Click on the link below to watch…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzjOMUpRTQU&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in Abundance, biodiversity, Garden, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Winter

A Life in the Country ~ The Growing Disaster of Impoverishment!

Early winter and the weather is brilliantly sunny with clear skies above the cottage and moonlit nights that are bright and cold!

It’s worth enduring the rain and grey for mornings like this…

September 2011 Permaculture Cottage 008Colours continue to develop in the densely planted gardens. This palette of colour continues all the year round…

Dense planting as is undertaken in any permaculture plan, lends itself well to the enrichment of the soil.

 Permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage. The verandaImpoverishment of the soil is no natural disaster, in fact it is the result of nothing less than greed…for money!

Henhouse at Bealtaine  Permaculture Cottage Cash crops and monoculture are both killing the soil, which is an integral part of our lifeline.

permaculture at Bealtaine cottage  In the past seven years since the beginning of Bealtaine, this land has gone from rushy monoculture half  life to enriched, protected earth and being continually enriched and protected due to planting.

Permaculture Cottage ...September 2011 013Poly-culture, which is the opposite of monoculture is of maximum importance for the survival of Nature as we know it.

This high level of biodiversity provides all year round food for the Natural World.

Diverse planting with permaculture at Bealtaine cottage  Peanuts, imported and therefore carrying a huge carbon footprint, are not a sustainable source of food for the birds and wildlife.

Diverse and enriched planting is.

We should therefore stop trying to re-invent the wheel and plant our gardens and urban spaces to this end.

A beautiful garden becomes a paradise when Nature is placed high on the list of important horticultural demands!

At the top!

This is one of the many delights of a garden that embraces maximum biodiversity…silky spider webs woven through Cotoneaster on a winter’s morning.

Light is important at this time of year as we descend towards the Midwinter Solstice and within it, the shortest day of the year.

Mirrored cottage of Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage Light is also very beautiful during this time…silver streams filtered through landscape hedgerows and trees.

 

In the words of Saint Columcille…”It is peaceful and it is delightful.”

Posted in Abundance, Animals, Autumn, Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Climate, Cottage, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Recipes, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Spirituality, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Permaculture Cottage ~ Sustainable Living, Willow and Trees

All the ingredients to make Autumn Chutney are in the pot and heating up on the stove. The apples are from the trees here at Bealtaine. Onions were grown here as well. The stove is burning wood grown here also…which all adds to the sustainability of living…and living well.

I posted the recipe for this last night…so you can easily find it on the previous day…just scroll down and click on the link to go back…

Delicious and top quality as all the ingredients are sourced or grown by myself. Shop bought chutneys just come anywhere near this stuff taste-wise!

And lots of material for the compost heaps… All the apples used in this chutney were windfalls!

I have been reading a lot of stuff on Twitter recently about how pointless it is to plant trees and the importance of protecting our woodlands and forests! Well, the latter I do agree wholeheartedly with, but as for the pointessness of planting new trees…that’s just damned silly! Anyone who has planted a tree in their lifetime will testify to that!

Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky,
We fell them down and turn
them into paper,
That we may record our emptiness.
~Kahlil Gibran

Seven years ago there were NO trees here on this land…just some in the rather neglected hedges that skirted the land. All you see on the blogs I post are trees that I have planted…over 600 to date. the willow I am harvesting in this photo is a catch crop, planted inbetween the actual trees.

However, there is another very important reason to plant trees and willow and anything else you can think of…biodiversity and wildlife!

Those same people who believe it futile to plant trees should ask the little bird who built this nest if it was futile!

It is amazing just how much we can create from nothing with the magic of Gaia. This was a rod of willow I just stuck into the ground…

Real change needs to grow from the roots up…that means ourselves, individually and collectively getting on with it…creating the world we want to live in.

We are Change                     http://youtu.be/ji8iYgLx8G0  Listen with your Heart…

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Baking, Food, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Daily News from Ireland…Bumper Permaculture Harvest!

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.

The Plum trees are bearing up well with the wight of the fruit and this will be used for jam and wine. I have planted four Plum trees so far and am also growing some trees from seed.

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…

This is the Fennel in the tunnel this morning, with a good crop of seeds developing.

Apple too are plumping out well…juice, chutneys, pies and crumbles here!

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…

Posted in Abundance, Beltane, Country Living, Eco-Living, Food, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, polytunnel gardening, Smallholding, Summer, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Growing Fruit and Vegetables the Permaculture Way

Apples

Apples today in the gardens at Bealtaine.

No chemicals.

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…

Planning Permaculture

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!

No-Dig

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!

Thank you for supporting this blog

Posted in Abundance, Culture, Current Affairs, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Gaia, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Thoughts, Uncategorized

From Reproductive to Extractive Growing…What Lies Ahead…

The permaculture students have all left, making their way home filled with enthusiasm and plans for what lies ahead…and that is what a permaculture course does for one…giving hope for a future where the land is viewed as to be looked after and nurtured…

The word ‘ecology,’ comes from the word ‘oikos,’ which means house or habitat.

Ecology is something we have to understand fully before we can begin to implement the changes that are necessary to preserve our environment and nurse it back to health.

Our resource base is what forms our ecology, or home…energy and materials.

All primitive communities relied on renewable energy.

Industrialism reversed the pattern and way of life followed for millenia by our ancestors.

Since industrialisation, we have used non-renewable energy and have done so to our own peril!

The way in which we view the earth has moved from feudalism to capitalism and has marked the end of the collective view of our resource base and the start of a much more egotisitical and self-centred view  of the world around us.

Not for the better, I hasten to add!

So, what happens when humanity has spent over a 150 years or more living off the capital instead of the interest?

The advent of industrial capitalism has changed the way in which we regard and relate to our environment.

We speak of the earth’s resources as ‘raw material,’ with little respect for the land which produces it.

And as we hurtle down this path of eventual destruction, Gaia struggles to maintain a balance…all is fast becoming unbalance and anarchic.

Biodiversity is lost to the devastation that is ‘economic growth!’

 The very essence of our survival is biodiversity.

Permaculture is the only model that provides abundantly and increases biodiversity as it does!

Posted in Abundance, Birds, Garden, Gardening, Orchids, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

Biodiversity in the Garden and How to Achieve it!

Mowing the paths this morning in preparation for the visit of 19 permaculture students this Wednesday.

It should be a busy day!

The grass had grown quite high over the past few weeks as I was unable to get out to cut it because of the continual rain.

I went slow due to the amount of frogs in the grass and because it was still wet!

Planting close together allows shade and shelter to develop.

The Birch shown here, planted close-up to the Ribes, are providing shelter from the north wind, which can be cold and destructive!

You can see Kilronan Mountain in the distance.

It would be impossible for me to work 3 acres without the benefits of permaculture techniques.

I don’t do weeding except directly around vegetables!

The reality is that I simply don’t have the time for this and anyway, I find that mulching and planting takes care of the gardens more than adequately!

Small areas of lawn add interest to the gardens and allow one to look around at the plants , shrubs and flowers and to appreciate the wildlife which is absolutely integral to the health of the land and humankind on it.

This is one of the most important elements of permaculture in my view…after all there is nothing without pollinating insects!

Where would a garden be without birdsong?

Biodiversity at its best…a tiny orchid grows up alongside a young Ash sapling.

I best go back to work…nettles to pull and use as mulch!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Birds, Cottage, Country Living, Ecology, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

The Wren at Bealtaine…Biodiversity in Permaculture, Naturally!

Can you see the little bird nesting in the corner of the hanging basket? I think it’s a Wren and it has made a nest here in the shelter of the veranda.

I waited util it had flown and quickly snapped some pics…and was really surprised to see these tiny eggs in the nest!

Looks like there’s five eggs…I didn’t want to hang about snapping pics as I guessed Mother Wren was eyeing me up from nearby!

She’s in the fifth basket along from the left, on the inward side of the basket, so very sheltered and safe!

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, cows, Culture, Current Affairs, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Orchids, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Wild Flowers, Wildlife, Woodland

European Monoculture Monsters…The Struggle for Biodiversity. Permaculture and Gaia.

Ferns…some of the oldest living plants in our world.

When I began the Bealtaine Permaculture Project back in 2004 there were few of these beautiful plants anywhere on this land. I remember digging one up in a woodland not far from here and planting it in the small, wannabe woodland that was to become the Fairy Dell…and yes, it is certainly magical! From then till now the population of Ferns on this smallholding has steadily increased each year…

Since the Banking Crisis broke worldwide it has become evident to me just how embedded  the corporations are with western governments and the amount of deceit and corruption that abounds within these structures. All kinds of directives come from Europe in relation to farming that, in my understanding, do nothing more than create Monoculture Monsters. To view the land as an economic farming industry is to do so at our peril…Nature WILL not tolerate what we attempt to ignore for the sake of industrialized food production and ultimately, greed.  “The world has enough for every man’s need, but not enough for every man’s greed!”

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Culture, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Food, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, PermaGoddess, photography, Politics, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland

Permaculture Photos from an Irish Smallholding. Bealtaine Cottage, West of Ireland.

 

3 acres, over 500 trees.

From monoculture to increasing biodiversity. Gaia now creates her own fertility.

The Water of Life…it is our sacred duty to ensure this supply for all is kept clean, above all else!

Growing food wherever we can helps to keep us healthy and INDEPENDENT!

Biodiversity happens because CHEMICALS are BANNED!

Everyone has choices… I chose Permaculture.

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Earth, Eco-Living, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Ecosystems, Stability, Wild Orchids and Cuckoos @ Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding, Ireland

Working in the tunnel this morning I heard the first Cuckoo of the year calling from the hill behind Bealtaine. This is extraordinarily early to hear the Cuckoo…usually in May, or at the earliest, very late April…the seasons are coming earlier here in Ireland.

The flowers on the first Wild Orchid of the year are opening. I noticed a second Orchid beginning to open further along the bank.

Biodiversity is more than an elastoplast sticking plaster on the skin of Gaia…it is the CURE!

I would go so far as to say that it has been the introduction of biodiversity here on the 3 acres of Bealtaine Smallholding that has allowed such incredible harvest of food to manifest.

Permaculture plantings aim to create and sustain as many food webs as possible, as this gives stability and strength to the environment.

The structure of an ecosystem is represented by food webs and the more cmplex the ecosystem, the greater the stability. It is unfortunate that even Organic farms are not home to complex enough ecosystems, as many of the crops are grown in a monoculture, uniform row, type way.