The Easiest Way to Harvest Blackcurrants

It is early July, early evening and it’s cold.

The stove is lit.

The weather systems all over the world appear to have gone wild, but as I sit here, sipping tea and typing, the reality of life is more to do with getting the harvest of blackcurrants into the freezer!

Blackcurrants in the freezer at Bealtaine CottageI have returned from the kitchen with a cuppa and red-tinted fingers from all the handling of the currants as I weigh them into bags.

Bealtaine Cottage Blackcurrants in the Permaculture GardensWhatever the weather is like we have to adapt as best as possible and Blackcurrants don’t seem to mind any way!

There is no sense in this weather here at the moment, or in the fact that Summer in Ireland started in March of this year and ended in April…take a look at the blogs I posted during that time, bearing in mind that I take photographs on a daily basis, real-time so to speak!

However, life at the permaculture smallholding goes on in quite a pleasant way, harvesting, freezing and making chutney.

I have found that the easiest way of harvesting the currants is to cut whole stems and wheel-barrow them over to the veranda where I can sit quietly and harvest the berries, listening to the gentle tinkling of the wind-chimes…it’s pleasant work with lots of time for fleeting thoughts!

It saves a lot of backache and gives the bushes a good pruning too!

The sky seems to be perpetual grey blanket of cloud, with the very occasional peek through of blue sky and sunshine…very occasional that is!

It does remain fairly bright, being that this is the west of Ireland  and we are surrounded by ocean.

Visitors to Bealtaine tell me about droughts in western USA and torrential rain in England.

It does all seem rather mad!

I’m hoping for a beautiful Autumn!

Roses on the Veranda and the Apples have set!

The roses have come out on the veranda.

I made a short video to show you some of the beauty… you can click on that below.

The apples have all set and are developing well.

There promises to be a magnificent crop this year, so all the recipes for apple wine, chutney,butter, cider and more will be perused and debated…will I make this or that or…

The Willow is now in leaf, as are most of the trees, with the Ash being the last to leaf.

The scent as I walk around the gardens from the blossom on the Hawthorn trees is heavenly!

Work in the kitchen is almost finished and the task of stencilling will start later in the week.

I thought that an Ivy stencil would be lovely, so will cut one out when I get the chance to sit down!

Anyway, here is today’s video, with love from Bealtaine Cottage…click and enjoy…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqX4Q4G8NPE&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Permaculture Harvests in Ireland

Plum Harvest

Plums from the one of the Plum Trees here on the land. 

Plums are easy to grow in Ireland as they are related to the Blackthorn tree, the one that fruits Sloes.

Rowan berries, collected from trees near my local town, Carrick. Foraging can be a very fruitful and worthwhile undertaking in the country, bringing in a bountiful harvest!

mushrooms and rosehips 002

Hips from the Rosa Rugosa growing at Bealtaine Cottage…these are brimming with Vitamin C and make a delicious syrup, as well as magnificent wine, which has the body of a good Sherry!

Home-made wines are very easy to make…simply observing the “clean” rule. Mind you, if you do have a slip-up, the wine can be turned into a delicious fruit vinegar…which makes lovely and unusual presents at Christmas!

Apple jellies and Rowan jellies…delightful garden produce!

The Apple harvest at Bealtaine has been consistently good, producing more apples than what I can use!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture pumpkins

Pumpkins and Tomatoes grow well in the tunnel. Pumpkins will store for 6 months and more in a cool pantry, as happens here.

Bealtaine Cottage June 2012 005

The so-called “poor,” land produces hundreds of pounds of Blackcurrants…which I turn into jams, chutney, wine and delicious cordial.

These are just some of the wonderful foods that can be grown on poor land, on a north-facing slope, in the west of Ireland, using Permaculture! 

Unlike so many of the books that tell you what can and cannot be grown, I simply plant it and see…and have yet to be disappointed!

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…

An Early Morning Walk with Jack along Ballyfermoyle

Jack is my beautiful rescue dog…I usually introduce thus to strangers as a way of excusing his enthusiasm for life…jumping up to greet people!

Jack loves walking, so we go out at least twice a day along the laneway where I live, here at Ballyfermoyle.

I took these photos this morning for you all to see soem of what Jack and I see…

Recipe for Autumn Chutney…easy and you get to choose the fruit!

I used…

  • 1.5kg apples, chopped up in small pieces
  • 80g chopped dates
  • 100g raisins
  • 450g onions, fine chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 350g soft brown sugar
  • 550mls malt vinegar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • half tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients into a large pan over a gentle heat and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Bring to boil, turn down heat and simmer for one and a half hours. Stir a few times during cooking.

Pot immediately, but leave to mature for at least a week for the flavours to infuse.

I had some on bread whilst still hot and it’s yummy!

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Pantry

Sweetcorn harvested over the weekend…this is the native American corn, called ‘Painted Mountain,’ and is very colourful!

I will save some of the corn seeds for planting next year…

Heaps and heaps of windfalls… planting apple trees is cheap and easy and all you do is wait for the windfall! Ha! Ha!…I love it. Simple, easy and so very permaculture!

And more apples in the pantry…buckets of them…free food, good food and not a corporation in sight!

Free-range eggs with deep orange yolks and pumpkins in the pantry today…it’s starting to fill up as the  harvest comes in…

Bountiful Blackcurrants…waiting to be turned into jam, chutney, wine et al, rest in the freezer in the Pantry.

Permaculture Cottage ~ Organic Apples, Grapes, Pumpkins and Sun Drenched Flowers.

Organic Apples growing at Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding today. Chutneys, juice and freezing on the menu for these beauties!

Organic Grapes in the tunnel this evening, continuing to ripen and swell. This year has seen the best harvest yet. I mulched and fertilized the vine with raw sheeps wool.

Organic Pumpkins surrounded by oregano and tomatoes in the tunnel about an hour ago.

More Apples on more trees. All organically grown, 6 year old trees, NEVER been sprayed! Here’s a rude salute to the chemical companies and a big ‘hurrah,’ for PERMACULTURE!

The evening sun floods the flowers in the East Garden at Bealtaine Cottage. The Pear in the foreground was wind damaged back in the late Spring, but I have left it to grow as it will do nicely for Chutney!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Not enough food in Ireland…

Tea after Enniskillen and a shopping expedition for another camera.

Recycled of course!

A great book shop up there also and by the looks of the cars in the car park, most of the population of North Roscommon and Leitrim were shopping there too!

What a relief! It rained yesterday and rained really heavily overnight. All the water butts are spilling over and the tunnel has had an early morning drink…6am! I love the way that the rainwater is held in jewel-like drops on the Ladys Mantle!

A tiny Oak seedling being nurtured in the tunnel. This will be ready to plant out next year. It will be potted on once more before then.

Pumpkins continue to set in the tunnel and around the garden.

These have been late this year, but hopefully there will be an Indian summer and easy ripening.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture PumpkinsPumpkins I grew last year stored really well and I was able to use them right up until just recently!

Another bumper harvest at Bealtaine Cottage, Ballyfermoyle!

Successive harvests this year have been excellent!

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture RhubarbEarlier there was a great crop of Blackcurrants and before that, Rhubarb, as well as the other crops in between.

It’s a shame that so very few people in North West Ireland bother to grow food.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture hensMuch of the complaint is that the land is not good enough for that purpose…well, it would appear to be far from that, don’t you think?

It is a fact that if the supermarkets closed their doors tomorrow, people living in the countryside in Ireland, would be very hungry indeed, so little food is grown here!

eggs and pumpkins at bealtaine CottageEggs, jams, chutneys, potatoes, fruit, vegetables and all other home grown and home made produce has given way to poor quality supermarket food.

Country gardens in this area and beyond consist mainly of suburban type lawns, prolific use of weed-killer and a few chosen plants.

This is normally put into place, at huge expense, by the local garden centre.

November 2011 312The disconnect with the land is a sad reflection of today’s society.

Permaculture Cottage ~ Knitting and Reading

The weather has forced me indoors a lot recently, encouraging a hive of activity that includes knitting and sorting cupboards and reading… I’ve just completed this scarf for someone who wanted me to knit for her in these colours and in natural wool. So hard to get a scarf knit in natural 100% wool these days apparently. So there it is, completed and ready for collection.

I enjoyed the task so much, I decided to use all the leftover wool and knit one for myself…

This is a great book I’m enjoying reading at present…picked up in a charity shop for 50cents. it’s amazing just how much info I’ve gleaned from this so far and Im only on the second chapter!

Finished reading this book a few days ago and again, so much info and fascinating facts that have been forgotten and yet are so useful for us today…simple things like the fact that a cobweb, placed over a cut, will stem the bleeding and help to heal the wound! Soldiers going into battle hundreds of years ago carried a tiny box with cobwebs inside to treat deep cuts inflicted by the sword!

As the weather has blown a gale outside, I’ve been in the kitchen making chutney and curries…freezing the curries for ready meals later on. Imagine having to light the stove in July, but the weather has really been that bad!

Bad weather means I get to sit and drink tea and read…so there are advantages to be had from the wettest day!

I picked these flowers from the garden last week and as you can see, the display includes Dill. Over recent days the scent of the Dill has changed from a liquorice smell to a very sweet coconut scent and it is gorgeous!