Posted in Art, Bealtaine Cottage, Blessing, celebrations, Cottage, Garden, hens, Inspiration, Permaculture, Spring, Wildlife

Easter in a Permaculture Garden…700th Post!

www.bealtainecottage.com

This is what happens in Permaculture…surplus is fed back into the system or shared out!

www.bealtainecottage.com In this case there was a small surplus of blue paint…the outcome is what you see here!

www.bealtainecottage.comI woke to a magnificent sunrise this morning…Kilronan Mountain is shrouded in mist, so doesn’t appear to exist at all!

www.bealtainecottage.comBees are buzzing and birds are singing to herald in this wonderful Easter weekend here in the west of Ireland!

www.bealtainecottage.comWith the emergence of Spring, several weeks ago now, there has been an accumulation of heat and light working on the earth that promises an early Summer.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe promise of seedlings has excelled…it appears that every seed sown has germinated!

www.bealtainecottage.com Fortunately, now that I have five beautiful hens, seedlings that are excess to requirements can simply be fed to the hens as a wonderful source of nutrition.

www.bealtainecottage.comSome of the seedlings are also used by me in salads, again a wonderful source of nutrition!

www.bealtainecottage.comSlabs of bedrock, rising out of the earth all over the land here at Bealtaine, show off their pink colour in the drying air of late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses play peek-a-boo on the driveway.

www.bealtainecottage.comCrocosmia show off a vibrant lime-green in the early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBack to blue, because…

www.bealtainecottage.comI simply cannot resist it!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe vibrant pink of this Saxifrage has found a perfect bed in the gravel driveway…another reason why tarmac is a non-starter here!

www.bealtainecottage.comPrimroses aren’t the only things around here playing peek-a-boo!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe mist in the valley has cut off Kilronan Mountain.

www.bealtainecottage.comFurther up the gardens, behind where I now stand, Comfrey, Lovage, Fennel, Valerian and Chives are all about a foot high and looking very robust in the late Spring, early morning light.

www.bealtainecottage.comBy my feet, the Euphorbia flowers.

www.bealtainecottage.comAnd indoors, on the dresser, reminders of Spring and Easter…

www.bealtainecottage.comHappy Easter to all!

PS: Next month will the my tenth anniversary of Bealtaine Cottage.

Today marks the 700th blog!

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Cats, Country Living, Garden, Growing Food, hens, Herbs, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Trees

Permaculture Orchard and Spring Well

New mulched permaculture orchardAn update on the new orchard…the mulching continues as the blossom breaks on the little trees.

Permaculture Orchard at Bealtaine CottageLots of nettles have been chopped and layered on the mulch!

mulching the orchardThe path is being extended, as I find time to do a little more and a little more!

Look who has made a little bed for himself on the weed suppressing mat…

New apple trees in the permaculture orchardThis project will continue into the autumn as I have several other projects on the go, including the new kitchen floor.

Herbs in tyres at Bealtaine CottageHerbs are lovely flowers to grow and these are growing just outside the Lodge.

Chives, Feverfew, Comfrey, Clary Sage and Ox-Eye Daisies all happily growing together!

Hen House at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture GardensThe hen house this morning…I leave the girls in long enough for them to lay.

This is the entrance from the new orchard.

I have just returned from cleaning out the well up on the hill.

The water tank had stopped filling and had, in fact dried out.

A visit to the well confirmed my suspicion that the pipe had clogged up with plant life!

I can hear the water filling in the tank in the loft as I type.

The hens at Bealtaine CottageThe hens are all in good shape now and are the most passive and calm little creatures I have ever encountered.

Hens at Bealtaine CottageJust adorable!

Lime tree walk at Bealtaine CottageThe Lime trees are now in leaf.

I have discovered that these trees grow very well from cuttings!

Pollarded Willow at Bealtaine CottageWillow is growing thick and fast on the pollarded trees.

This will grow up to 15 feet high, making great fedging lengths this autumn.

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Country Living, Ecology, Folklore, Garden, Herbs, Permaculture, Trees, Uncategorized, Woodland

Bealtaine Eve in Ireland

It is the eve of Bealtaine at Bealtaine Cottage and so I am celebrating 8 years of permaculture here at the cottage!  Summer is upon us once again and the Earth is busy producing the harvest of the coming season… The flowers of the Chives have already made an appearance and these are just so gorgeous in salads. Chives is also very easy to grow, forming lovely clumps as above and producing edible leaves and flowers that replace the traditional Spring Onion for me!

Yesterday afternoon was spent cutting the grass, regarded as a harvest and used in compost and as mulching. The by product of all this harvest is neat grass paths upon which to walk!

Lots of beautiful “weeds,” …what do you think? Here is today’s video…focusing on the woodland and what grows down there!

Click on the link to watch…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYqQaxZLPl0

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Bloom, Cats, Eco-Living, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Trees

Friday at Bealtaine Cottage.

Friday at Bealtaine Cottage, featuring Missy and Flo…

Click and watch

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvA7AONAaNc&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

(click on the speech bubble on the video to see Flo on her own video!)

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Food, Gaia, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers

Permaculture Cottage ~ Oregano, Hippocrates and Herbs

The hips of the Rosa Rugosa are yet to turn red.

Rugosa rose is widely used as an ornamental plant. As a seaside plant it is invaluable as it can tolerate the salty wind and storms really well.

The sweetly scented flowers are used to make pot-pourri in Japan and China,  where it has been cultivated for about a thousand years. This grows well here at Bealtaine Cottage.

The other rose growing abundantly here at Bealtaine is the Rosa Canina, or Dog Rose.

During world war two, the shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables was having an adverse effect on the nation’s health,  so the call went out for the collection and distribution of rose hips  from the hedgerows, as they provided the highest home-grown source of Vitamin C.

In response, the government organised a nationwide initiative to collect roadside rose hips which, with the help of the Women’s Institutes, were processed into syrup for babies and children.

Oregano is an important culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can often be more flavourful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Factors such as climate, seasons and soil composition may affect the aromatic oils present.

The leaves are most often used in Greece to add flavour to Greek salad, and is usually added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that accompanies many fish or meat barbecues and some casseroles. I grow heaps of this lovely herb and dry it for daily use all the year round. It is a mainstay of my cooking, especially tomato sauces!

Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic, as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments.

Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. The flowers can be dried and used in tea and as it is a good antiseptic it is useful to stave off colds during the winter.

The easy to grow corm, Crocosmia, this evening at Bealtaine Cottage. The chains of corms are fragile and easily separated, a quality that has enabled some species to become invasive and difficult to control in the garden. However, I welcome invasive flowers…less weeds!They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars, and in Britain as montbretia. Crocosmia are winter-hardy in Ireland. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.

It’s hard to believe that this is not a garden flower…but the beautiful herb, Chives. This plant has been flowering since the middle of Spring! Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are the smallest species of the edible onions.

Chives are a commonly used household herb, frequently grown in gardens. In culinary use, chives leaves (straws) are shredded for use as a seasoning for fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes. Chives have insect-repelling properties that can be used in gardens to control pests.I think they make great border edging plants as well!

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, Bealtaine Cottage, Food, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Herbs, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife

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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Posted in Abundance, Angels, Bealtaine Cottage, Beltane, Bloom, Cottage, Country Living, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Herbs, Inspiration, Permaculture, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Today at Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding…Start the Week!

Nasturtiums are now in bloom outside, despite the rain. This one is pot planted outside the veranda and is slowly winding its’ way over pieces of driftwood, stone and Herb Robert.

Our lives are full of clutter. A garden is a retreat and a permaculture garden is a perfect, food-bearing retreat, created for almost no money investment…just time and an opening of the senses. Plants like London Pride, featured here, are so very easy to transplant from snippets and cuttings.

Chives this morning in the vegetable garden, but these have been planted all over the gardens and are great visuals.

The long-flowering Columbine growing in the vegetable garden…a good Bee and pollinator insect attractant.

Permaculture at www.bealtainecottage.com 004
Density of planting…the essence of permaculture.

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Flowers…just flowers and endless beauty!

Blackcurrants ripening in the sun this morning. Writing this a short time later, the sun has gone back into hiding!

Plums on one of the many fruit trees at Bealtaine this morning…a good harvest is promised!

The many Apple trees are growing heavy with fruit.