Warm,Naked Earth

DSCF1040The naked earth is warm with Spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun’s kiss glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze.
~Julian Grenfell

…except, in Permaculture gardens, little is naked, most is covered, yet the earth beneath the green mantle warms just the same.

DSCF1042April has set Spring firmly in place, with early sunrise and birdsong to lift the dullest spirit!

DSCF0999The boys awaken to the sunshine…

DSCF1006Honesty comes into flower…

DSCF1005Ribes sets the bees buzzing…apparently the Bumble Bee is losing numbers here in Ireland, as well as the UK, but certainly not at Bealtaine Cottage…the place is abuzz!

DSCF1016Amelanchier is coming into flower…yet more of the succession planting for the bees!

DSCF1002The playhouse is being transformed into a hen house…an upstairs~downstairs hen house to suit the due pecking order!

DSCF1020I’ve been busy with the brush and wood preservative, making sure that this little house sees another 10 years!

DSCF1009Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel and will keep producing right up until the newly sown Chard is ready to pick…so very easy to grow!

DSCF1019Photinia, Red Robin has opened its new leaves…a burst of red!

DSCF1013Perennial Poppy has weathered the frost well!

DSCF1032Quince is in flower against the barn.

DSCF1030These gigantic shells have been moved to hang on sticks driven into the earth, making a contrast to the emerging green!

DSCF1029Spring is bursting forth into a riot of greens, as the first Cuckoo of the year heralds its summery arrival…earlier than last year!

DSCF1027The Fairy Wood is a mass of lime green Spurge!

DSCF1046The Lavender-painted Barn takes on a new look, making a wonderful backdrop to Spring.

DSCF1057Newly painted benches are ready to withstand another year of crazy Irish weather!

DSCF1056Primroses emerge in places where birds have dropped seed!

DSCF1039And the warm earth, no longer naked, continues to push forth magic!

Edible Permaculture Gardens at Bealtaine Cottage

It is early evening as the clock shows and the day has been long.

I was up and working by 6am, so this evening will be early to bed!

Summer is like that here in the west of Ireland.

Much work is finished by early afternoon, so the evening is a time for gentle reflection on a working day.

One of the jobs I managed to get done today was that of polishing the stove in the sitting room.

It’s a long, messy job, but gives the stove such a mighty face-lift that it’s worth it!

Oh…is that one of the cloths on the mantle-piece…?

I walked out into the garden at the back of Bealtaine and was surrounded by Valerian, which is heavy with flower and as long as the seed-heads are picked, will stay in flower until September.

And as I turned around from the Valerian, there was Missy, sitting regally on one of the benches under the Cotoneaster, enjoying the sun as only cats seem able to do, despite their fur coats!

Most of the lettuce in the first vegetable bed is ready for eating and there’s some Chard growing alongside it, ready to occupy the empty space…

Rosa Rugosa in flower behind one of the sheds…Such a vivid Cerise Pink!

An abundance of young apples on the trees in the orchard…hard to believe that this was planted 6 years ago and has fruited every year!

And several hundred pounds of Blackcurrants almost ready for harvesting!

More visitors to the Permaculture Smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage tomorrow.

There are so many people now into growing food and living sustainably.

Permaculture is the ideal way to do both in Ireland, as they are linked into a living circle.

A recent visitor brought me some interesting books and C.D.’s so I shall curl up into a cosy bed to read and listen, earlier than usual!

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The Easiest to Grow Vegetables and Fruit from Bealtaine Cottage

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

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

Swiss Chard in the tunnel today…Ruby Chard

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

Dark Ruby Chard has over-wintered well in the tunnel

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

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

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

Pumpkin and Butternut Squash…I grew these from saved seeds from the previous year.
Just make sure that the soil is enriched with lots of well rotted manure, or good compost, for they are hungry plants!
www.bealtainecottage.com 001
Apples…invest in a few apple trees…fruit trees will never let you down! I have planted around forty fruit trees of all varieties here at Bealtaine Cottage.
permaculture at Bealtaine Cottage 019
When in blossom, fruit trees are a wonderful source of food for the Bees…
harvesting blackcurrantsBlackcurrants…the gardens at Bealtaine are infested with them!
I have grown all of my Blackcurrant bushes from seed or cuttings!
I have a surplus of Blackcurrant cuttings at the moment and these are offered for sale at this link…
https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/
 
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Bealtaine Cottage now offers a subscription website and seeds for sale at minimal cost to supporters, (this keeps me solvent, pays the mortgage and sometimes a little more)…keeping the main website free for all, along with a NO ADS Youtube channel, Podcast and FaceBook sites, all listed above.

 

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

Sustainable Food: Easy Grow Vegetables and Fruit

Some vegetables and fruit are so very easy to grow it seems ridiculous not to do so!

1. Chard. Simple to start from seed. Full of vitamins and minerals. Cut and come again…it just keeps giving!

This Ruby Chard has grown in the tunnel and given successive crops since last summer!

2. Parsley. In this case, curly parsley, but in fact any variety is great to grow, providing endless supplies of vitamin C and Iron for a healthy diet, as well as being simple to grow.

Parsley will grow for 2 years easily before it dies back!

Another great Chard is this beautiful yellow variety, bringing colour and taste to the table!

3. Purple-sprouting Broccoli.

These pics were snapped today in the tunnel, so you can see how far advanced this great vegetable is…ready to harvest in January.

The joy of these vegetables and herbs I have here is that they have all self-seeded, in true permaculture fashion!

Again, one of the benefits of cold-composting, allowing seeds to survive and continue on their merry way!

4. Mizuna. The great little winter salad crop…cut and come again!

These are just some of the crops in the tunnel today.

Bealtaine Cottage Apple tree

Apple, if you have space for a tree, are very easy to grow…what would life be like without the Apple Pie?

Bealtaine Cottage Pumpkins

Pumpkins in a sunny spot will provide you with easy to store and save fruit.

Bealtaine Cottage rhubarb

Rhubarb is another plant that just keeps giving and all one has to do is to manure it well once a year!

Bealtaine Cottage Blackcurrants

I grow masses of Blackcurrants here at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture gardens and they are incredibly easy.

permaculture at Bealtaine  cottage

Part of the Bealtaine Cottage ethos is to harvest and save seed.

All seed at Bealtaine Cottage is open-pollinated, mostly by Bees.

This is offered for sale at a minimal cost…2 Euro per pack which includes P&P to ANYWHERE in the world!

This is a link to the site.

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

For subscribers to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life, I will be posting a blog today that includes the easiest ever recipe for Brown Soda Health Bread…and I mean, the easiest!

Subscribing to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life allows me a small income…enough to pay the mortgage and a little more to live on…bless you…here’s a link…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

Permaculture Cottage ~ Dividing Rhubarb, Growing Trees and Composting!

Lots of the rhubarb has been lifted and divided recently and planted into the new beds, all loaded with fresh compost from the heaps stacked last year.

Rhubarb is an easy and early fruiting plant to grow. Although the leaves are toxic, various parts of the plants have medicinal and culinary uses.  In culinary use, fresh raw stalks are crisp (similar to celery) with a strong tart taste; most commonly the plant’s stalks are cooked and used in pies and other foods for their tart flavour. Personally, there is nothing equal to a Rhubarb Crumble, or, one of my absolute favourites…Rhubarb Jam!

Did you know that in England, the first rhubarb of the year is harvested by candlelight in dark sheds dotted around the noted “Rhubarb Triangle” of Wakefield, Leeds, and Morley,a practice that produces a sweeter, more tender stalk?

The New Vegetable Beds

The new beds are coming along well…planted out with Chard, Cucumber, Parsley, Tomato and Chives…for starters! I have spread wood ash recently on the beds and continue to build up with compost.

Chard can be harvested while the leaves are young and tender, or after maturity, when they are larger and have slightly tougher stems. Raw chard is perishes quite fast, so it’s best to pick only when about to be used!

Chard has shiny green ribbed leaves, with stems that range from white to yellow to red, depending on the cultivar. It has a slightly bitter taste. Fresh young chard can be used raw in salads. Mature chard leaves and stalks are typically cooked  or sautéed; their bitterness fades with cooking, leaving a refined flavor which is more delicate than that of cooked Spinach. I use Chard a lot in my home made soups and curries and as a replacement for Spinach.

Flowering Oregano and Chives

Both grow like weeds here at Bealtaine Cottage, with lots of Oregano now coming up in the gravel driveway. Great for drying and using in sauces and soups and breads!

More Trees Please!

Trees are planted all the year around here at the smallholding. Many are grown from seed and potted on several times before eventual planting out. Many are rescued from the roadside verges and gravel paths. Lots of these trees are given away to those who show an interest in planting. There is one thing for sure though, the Earth needs more trees. Trees protect her.

Compost this morning at Bealtaine

Now working through the second heap and already filled up the first again, so am busy as you can see!

Composting as a recognized practice dates to at least the early Roman Empire since Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79).

Traditionally, composting was to pile organic materials until the next planting season, at which time the materials would have decayed enough to be ready for use in the soil. This is the method I follow and it works every time as you can see!  The advantage of this method is that little working time or effort is required from the composter and it fits in naturally with agricultural practices in temperate climates. Personally I see no disadvantages in this technique. There is no real exposure to excessive rainfall, as the heaps are thatched with lots of straw to overwinter in peace and harmony with all the hibernating insects and frogs!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 85 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

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Permaculture Cottage ~ Abundance…

Harvests continue to develop and flowers bloom at Bealtaine Smallholding. Flowers like these Sedums require little or no attention and soon fill out a space.

White Buddleia in full bloom, though there are few butterflies around at the moment. This tree, well, bush really, serves as an air island for the birds nesting in the box nearby.

Pots of Curly Kale, Chard and Pumpkins, some of which will be moved across to the new beds in the Vegetable Garden. All these have been planted in pots filled with home made compost.

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.

Another good year for the apple harvest. This part of Ireland is great for growing fruit, as rhubarb, blackcurrants, redcurrant, plums, apples et al appear to thrive!

Another Attempt at Sourdough Bread…Perfect Starter…Bealtaine Permaculture Ireland

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!