Rain fell last night and continues this morning.
There will be no lack of water in the well for the next few weeks!
I have finally given away my hens…as I no longer eat eggs and there was a lovely home ready and waiting for them where they would be more useful, as they are good layers and their eggs will be anticipated and appreciated where there is a family of people to eat them.
I shall miss them, but as with life at Bealtaine Cottage, the void is quickly filled and the hen-house will be re-purposed and appreciated further.
In the past, their manure was a part of developing the fertility of the land at Bealtaine, but this is no longer needed.
The compoost system is now working very well and far exceeds what any animal manure could bring to three acres.
Seed production is well under way, with some of the harvest already collected and much more coming to fruition.
We are now one week away from Midsummer, as evidenced in the lush growth seen here!
We inter-breath with the rain forests, we drink from the oceans. They are part of our own body. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
The fruit trees and bushes were pruned back quite hard over the course of last Autumn and Winter and they are happily producing yet another bumper harvest.
…no matter how complex or affluent, human societies are nothing but subsystems of the biosphere, the Earth’s thin veneer of life, which is ultimately run by bacteria, fungi and green plants.
Your deepest roots are in nature. No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation.
“If we are going to be kind, let it be out of simple generosity, not because we fear guilt or retribution.”
― J.M. Coetzee
The leaves are just beginning to bud and appear.
Bees are busy at work here in the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…without them this would be a place of hunger.
But, it’s not…instead it boasts food for all and more to come.
This is what a food forest looks like as the sap rises and life returns.
These are the gardens of the goddess, Mother Earth in all her splendour and abundance!
And here is today’s video…
All the videos I upload are free from advertising, so you can enjoy watching…
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Collecting fresh laid eggs from the hen house on the morning of St Patrick’s Day at Bealtaine Cottage.
Step inside the Hen House with me to see where the girls have laid… then over to the tunnel to check on the seedlings.
I explain how the compost toilet system is so simple and easy and essential!
Finally, walking around the front of the cottage to delight in the quickening growth of the season!
All Bealtaine Cottage videos are free from advertising, so you can enjoy watching…
Please consider supporting Bealtaine Cottage
Midwinter has passed, and with it, the counting down of the days towards the light.
Visitors have now left and the cottage seems eerily quiet…somewhere in the stone walls I can hear a mouse scrambling about.
The cats are sleeping off their party food, including creamy custard from the sherry trifle, and are ensconced on top of the straw bales in the barn.
This was my first opportunity to get out into the gardens and observe the flow of the water through the ponds after all the heavy rain of recent days.
The weather has been very warm with heavy rain.
The temperature has stayed around and above 55F day and night.
Despite the midwinter, there remains plenty of colour in the gardens.
Dogwoods of red and lime green, willow and evergreens merge to make a colourful picture, especially in the winter.
The weather experts are fore-casting possible snow and hard frost after Christmas and before New Year.
The worst of the weather is yet to come, as so often is the case in December.
The warm weather has seen the continued growth of Fungi, one of the beautiful aspects of decaying wood.
I have watched the cost of food escalate this year, so am mindful that this is a good time to start preparing food-grow areas, such as raised beds.
The small potager beds here at Bealtaine continue to give food through these darks days of winter.
If you have not yet started a compost heap, then section off a corner of the garden for that too.
There’s masses of leaves still on the ground, so just bagging these up will give you precious leaf mould in the growing season!
I want to take this opportunity to say a huge “Thanks” to all of you who have posted cards, presents and donations over the past week.
I am overwhelmed by your love, kindness and generosity.
Bless you XXX
And as if Mother Earth
heard my despair, she has worked tirelessly overnight making the compost heap look beautiful…I laugh out loud in joy!
This morning as I spread compost and seaweed on the vegetable beds, before mulching down with cardboard and straw, I ponder on putting the exposed earth to bed for the winter…this makes me feel as though I am nurturing the great Mother.
It is all I can do to help assuage the horrors of what Man does to her!
The big tidy-up is important, before the wind and rain sets in…and what a lot of tidying to be done!
Just in case you thought anything about where the compost toilet is emptied…in these neat bins, holes drilled into the bottom of each, no smell, no flies and thoroughly sustainable on site!
Cutting and chopping Willow to store for burning…as Charlie supervises!
The Lime trees have begun to shed their leaves.
The bees continue their daily forage in and around the Nasturtiums.
As the seaweed dries out, all these lovely shades of autumn emerge…
Let peace rise up as the Michelmas daisies around Buddha…my mantra for today.
Tend Mother Earth…in this time of destruction…it’s the best we can do!
Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.
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!
In 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.
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.
The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade.
Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter.
Natural 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!
Taking 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!
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!”
The post you’ve all been waiting for…the Bealtaine Cottage Compost Toilet.
Easy to install and simple to use.
No running outside on cold mornings to tramp across wet grass to use the toilet!
There’s still a little bit of tweaking to be done to finish the project off to a high standard, like decorating the wall where the cistern used to be and making a wooden surround with a small door, but as you can see, it is simple and attractive.
This is the material used for covering one’s toilet.
It is grown here at Bealtaine Cottage, shredded in the shredder and smells nice and pine fragranced, as it is cut from evergreen trees in the gardens.
This material is also anti-bacterial.
So what happens next?
After about a year, the contents have turned into sweet-smelling compost that I use around trees in the lower gardens.
In the course of life here at Bealtaine Cottage, there is really no need for a septic tank…flush it away?
If you liked reading this, why not Like, Comment or share with others on Twitter, FaceBook or email to a friend! Blessings XXX
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I have spoken before about the ways in which access to growing space can be achieved, through allotments, community gardens and the like, but here is something which may prove to be an inspiration, a new way of looking at food, both growing it and eating!
I can believe it!
And the fun part? Now you can enjoy seeing some of your vegetables run to seed, like this Mizuna in the Potager Bed!
and many more…
Blessings from Bealtaine Cottage XXX
The shelled seed-heads of Lunaria… beautiful, ethereal, delicate additions to winter foliage arrangements.
The seeds are now packed and ready to post out all over the world.
Lunaria, commonly known as Honesty, is an early flowering annual flower, but, once seeded into your garden, spreads and re-seeds itself with wild abandon!
I love the simple sponged design, beautiful in its simplicity.
The veranda has been swept this morning…but don’t look too closely, as I didn’t move the clothes drier!
The wheelbarrow holds ashes from the stoves and waste from the barn floor, ready to be spread over compost heaps, flower beds and around fruit trees.
Winter is a time of spreading and stacking, as tidy-ups take place and waste accumulates.
The weather has been so very mild, that some flowers in the gardens continue to bloom, like this Fuchsia, with the Lemon Balm looking ready for harvest just behind it!
Seeds for growing Lunaria are available on this website…just click on the link…
If you wish me to post seeds, from you, to a friend or loved one, cards are available on this link…
Recycling waste cardboard in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…part of the work programme for today as I continue to make new beds that will be planted out in the Spring.
It is early morning here in the west of Ireland and the sun is playing hide and seek…a beautiful, warm autumnal morning.
The apple harvest is bountiful…nine years of apples and no chemicals, sprays or other tampering with Nature!
Tomatoes are falling out of Potager beds…these are the seeds that Tara Angell sent me from New York…Black Tomatoes.
This is the potager bed I made with students in a workshop this summer. There is no soil in it, just home made compost and shredding mulch.
In fact, all the seeds sent to me this year and last are growing magnificently here in the west of Ireland, in these north facing gardens of poor, thin soil!
As I walked through the gardens I noticed the abundance of berries for the birds this winter…a sign of cold days ahead!
This huge shrub almost dominates the apple trees in the orchard…keeping the wild birds fed and happy!
Nasturtiums, Lobelia, Petunia, Sweet William, Perlagonium, Valerian and Night Scented Stock are jostling for space near the back door.
Abundance reigns supreme in the gardens, as seen here in these lovely old-fashioned roses that lead the way up to the new orchard.
This is a strange bee with a black bottom half.
These beds are very abundant and productive, considering the shallow depth and intensive planting…the weather is promised good for tomorrow!
This cable table has sat in the garden for eight years…great garden furniture for free!
Sunflowers and lots of seeds getting ready for harvesting in the tunnel in these Potager raised beds.
Friday evening at Bealtaine…the rocket stove is boiling the kettle for another pot of tea…could it get any better?
Would this be equal to a few solar panels?
An update on the new orchard at Bealtaine Cottage…the mulch is holding well and the little fruit trees are all bearing leaves and a little blossom too!
The ground beneath the mulching is layered with seaweed.
A new path has been created using shreddings from the garden waste and stones dug out from the ground.
A membrane for the path has been cut from builders material, that was on it’s way to a landfill, before I hi-jacked it!
Blackcurrant bushes are ready to be planted underneath the trees and flowers beneath those.
If this is put into place, then all will be abundant and fruitful!
Meanwhile other work is under-way…re-planting the Potager beds and spreading compost.
Perennial poppies are about to open…these are red and white flowers and quite unusual.
And all this despite the early summer thunderstorms and incessant rain!
Geranium , Bamboo and Willow holds back the Ground Elder…there seems little point in trying to get rid of it as planting equally insistent plants appears to hold it in check!
The evening sun illuminates the gardens and all is still…the prelude to further thunder storms apparently!
Have a lovely weekend and enjoy the sunshine!
Compost is made in two ways here at Bealtaine Cottage.
The first is what most people would imagine is the only way…certainly the one favoured in all the gardening books…where everything is kept neat and stacked and covered and turned and generally fiddled about with!
Yes, I have one of those heaps on the go and yes it works great…if one is in a hurry for the finished product; rich, crumbly, dark and nutritious food for plants!
However, I have just begun to uncover my lazy compost…where I have done zilch in terms of work, throwing all the garden wastes into an ever-expanding mound of general untidiness!
Pushing back the top layer of waste and flinging it back into the mound on the far-side, I uncovered this superb compost yesterday!
Looking at the amount of seedlings and young plants here in the tunnel this morning, the copious amounts of compost being uncovered will be much needed!
Pick a corner and get stacking!
Today’s video…just listen!
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Harvesting Rhubarb for the second time this year.
The first crop was back in the middle of Spring.
When that crop was picked, I manured the beds and allowed it to go on to develop a second flush.
Once washed and chopped I lightly stew the rhubarb, then cool it and pack it into bags for the freezer.
The Spring crop was made into delicious jam!
One of my favourite winter puddings is simple stewed Rhubarb topped with toasted oats and demerara sugar, mixed with some chopped nuts…mmm!
I lightly toast the oats in a big cast iron pan with the sugar and nuts.
It takes minutes and tastes divine topped with Soya cream!
Oops…the pics are mixed up!
Lots of good stuff for the growing compost heap.
I had no intention of waiting until winter for this treat!
Taking the compost over to the heap, passing the Nasturtiums on the way…lack of sun doesn’t appear to bother them at all!
Just to share with you the progress of one of the little Peach Trees, grown from seed here at Bealtaine Cottage…a real Irish Peach tree…and very strong indeed!
And as I return from the compost heap, I spotted the Spirea in blossom in the hedge.
This is a mixed hedge planted with cuttings and home-grown plants about five years ago.
It is in the Orchard, so all the shrubs are flowering and Bee-friendly.
P.S. You may have noticed the name change at the top of the page. Well, I thought it best to make it a simple “Bealtaine Cottage,” for this is where it’s all happening…
After a full moon last night, the morning is beautiful.
As I write this the sun has illuminated the interior of the cottage and blue skies are making themselves known.
I’ve just snapped this pic…it’s the view from my desk, so you can see for yourself!
It’s been busy here over recent days as I attempt to bring some of the enormous harvest home.
It helps to have a veranda to sit where I can prepare the blackcurrants for the freezer.
This is a home-made drying rack for the fruit, after it’s been washed in the rainwater barrel.
I have lined it with a piece of bridal veil, sourced from an old dressing up box .
As the weather has turned out so fine, I am making the most of the day by mowing and harvesting some of the grass on the many paths here at Bealtaine Cottage.
This path to the tunnel and compost area is well worn as you can imagine, so I’ve laid a little leftover gravel onto the bare areas.
It stops me from slipping, as I make a dash to the compost with the bucket of waste!
Talking of compost, this was the beautiful sight that greeted me today…Poppies in the compost heap and lots of growth on the potatoes!
This is just the beginning of the harvest.
It will continue for several months and is a very busy time…in fact there are days when the stillness of midwinter seems awfully appealing!
But even as the harvest is brought home, sowing and planting continues as the most of the long days are appreciated.
I have recently sown these, swedes and beetroot…they can be planted outdoors or in the tunnel and make tasty additions to meals later on.
Lastly, a pic of a rather successful and very easy way to get perfect strawberries…I planted these in the hanging pot about two years ago and have had good crops of strawberries with no input what so ever, other than a feed in late spring! I will be planting and hanging lots more here on these Blackthorn tress…a good way of using the vertical garden approach!
Flo, the littlest hobo, follows me around today as I work in the gardens.
Another waif and stray who has found a home at Bealtaine Cottage.
She is a character for sure!
Today has been busy…baking, weeding and topping up the potatoes, as well as cutting down the comfrey and topping up the compost…yes indeed, I swing from one task to another with nothing between each except the soap and sink where I wash my hands!
This used to be a pathway, one of many that needs a good trimming.
No wonder that the compost heaps are brimming and the soil is so healthy…there is so much to feed the soil with, it’s almost impossible to keep up!
Healthy abundance, the true gift of permaculture!
Monetary systems produce scarcity, Permaculture produces abundance, freely!
As I trim archways like this willow one, I throw the cuttings around a plant or tree, as a food and mulch.
In this way, the soil is built up and good bacteria is introduced into it as the cuttings decompose.
Permaculture…it is time…instead of weapons of destruction, we need to unleash weapons of creation and abundance.
Willow archways and the beautiful Purple Beech, a stunning and simple combination!
Here are the simple white-washed stones I wrote about a few weeks ago in this blog, down by the entrance gate near the road.
This little garden was put along by the fence and has settled in really well. All the plants are home-grown from either cuttings or seed.
The stones were collected up from the land, so the cost of this was zero!
Our true divinity is in our ability to create.
Missy manages to climb to the top of the barn and nestle herself into the barley straw…high enough to keep a watchful eye on all!
This is one girl who takes no prisoners…just look at that expression!
A good sprinkling of lettuce seeds and within a few weeks there is more than enough to harvest for weeks to come.
Most people can manage to be self-sufficient in salad for at least half the year!
This is a potager style bed, with Lavender and Thyme nearby.
There are several varieties of lettuce here, in amongst the Nasturtium and Borage.
Sedum and Poppies continue to push their way up through the compost!
Moving compost from last year’s heap over to the new raised vegetable bed today.
A bed of abundance outside the tunnel today.
And here’s the new raised vegetable bed…coming along…
Reasons to make compost…
A fine way to use kitchen waste.
Feed the soil, not the plant.
Live a cyclical life…keep things going round!
It makes great potting on compost.
Potatoes grow effortlessly in it!
A short video on how to make the easiest compost ever…
Here’s a 5 minute video from Bealtaine Cottage on making and using compost on a permaculture smallholding. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mLkBREOi8hE&feature=plcp&context=C4035676VDvjVQa1PpcFOWi9w1WJ3Ko7EephcqjG1KM5MBe0Xa1V8%3D
Over the last few months I have been gradually clearing the compost heaps…5 in total.
The ground under the heaps is in lovely condition, as you can imagine, so I decided to use this area to plant potatoes into tyres.
The chitted potatoes are pushed deep into the earth and the tyre place on top, then gradually filled with compost, from, you guessed right, the nearby heap.
It’s a bit like growing potatoes in the heap, but they’re much easier to find!
There’s quite a few chitted potatoes left, so I am doing the same thing in whatever spaces I can find!
Last year, many of my neighbours lost potatoes to the blight, but mine came through just fine.
I think this may be due to planting the potaoes irregularly…here and there, with no uniform rows, so blight does not get the chance to spread!
Crops in the tunnel are coming along well, with all the sunshine!
The stone edges hold the heat of the sun and release it at night…the perfect passive solar collectors.
As I walk in the gardens, there is the most tremendous hum of bees and insects…going in a mad frenzy around all the Ribes blossom!
As you can see from the pics, the weather today is marvellous! The temperature is 21c…!
Just a small section of the Ribes…this grow like a weed here and is a stunning bush, windbreak, source of kindling for the stove and, of course, restaurant for the bees!
Early summer! It’s hot in the gardens, so lunch will be served outside!
This is the new feature on WordPress and it is just fascinating…a breakdown of visitors to Bealtaine Cottage on Friday.
I love to look at statistics, as these represent real people in real time…and from all over the world!
Feverfew coming up in the gravel driveway…I must admit to being rather naughty and deliberately shaking seed from plants all over the gravel…I shall NEVER get my driveway tarmaced! That would be the end of such fun!
The delightful little buds on the Hawthorn hedgerow are fast becoming leaves as they unfurl in the bright warmth of an Irish Spring…
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…
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.
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!
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…
We are Change http://youtu.be/ji8iYgLx8G0 Listen with your Heart…
Mulching is really important once the dry weather sets in! It keeps the moisture in the ground as well as suppressing weeds. The fruit trees and fruit bushes were all mulched heavily during May. This helps to produce a good harvest as the fruit plumps out according to the amount of moisture they receive.
In gardening, mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, provide nutrients, and suppress weed growth and seed germination. Mulching in gardens and landscaping mimics the leaf cover that is found on forest floors.
This is the tunnel today. Courgettes, Pumpkins, Fennel and Corn are all producing well. As crops come to fruition, the ground is cleared, fresh compost is spread and new plants set out. Compost is rich in nutrients and used for all planting at Bealtaine Cottage. The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus and as a natural pesticide for soil.
Courgette flower today and small fruit underneath. Courgettes are one of my favourite veg, especially cooked as fritters and served with a homemade, tomato salsa sauce…mmm! Courgette is also known as Zucchini!
When used for food, zucchini are usually picked when under 20 cm in length, when the seeds are still soft and immature. Mature zucchini can be as much as three feet long and known as Marrows. These are delicious stuffed and baked! Jam can also be made using Marrows…Marrow and Ginger jam is delicious!
Courgettes can be prepared using a variety of cooking techniques, including steamed, boiled, grilled, stuffed and baked, barbecued, fried, or incorporated in other recipes such as soufflés. It also can be baked into a bread, zucchini bread or incorporated into a cake mix. Its flowers can be eaten stuffed and are a delicacy when deep fried, as tempura.
Zucchini can also be eaten raw, sliced or shredded in a cold salad, baked into a bread similar to banana bread.
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
Visitors to Bealtaine Cottage are welcomed free.
Donations are always welcome.
Thank you for supporting this blog
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.
Potatoes growing by the east side of the shed. Did you know that there are about five thousand potato varieties worldwide? Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten. However, I left potatoes in the ground over the course of last winter, when all was frozen solid for six long weeks…and they were dug out after the defrost and were perfect! I think it may have been the layer of straw that was atop the ground!
Throughout Europe, the most important new food in the 19th century was the potato, which, of course fast became a monoculture among poorer people… I strive hard to avoid planting all the tubers in one area, preferring to plant here and there in a positive way to avoid disease…and it appears to have worked thus far!
Now in its seventh year, Bealtaine smallholding has achieved new heights of growth, meaning that compost is plentiful. This is because there is so much to cut back and use to build compost heaps…I have made two so far and am still using the compost made last year, with loads to go!
At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more. This is the method I use and it has benefitted Bealtaine well! The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil. Any parts of the heap that have not degraded sufficiently can be added to the next heap…a process I indulge in!
Permaculture planting lends itself really well to bountiful compost production, so even if you do not keep animals for manure, it is still quite possible to maintain a high degree of healthy and fertile soil, using plant compost alone…however, a few hens are easy and happy and productive little workers to have on any smallholding!
Crataegus,or Hawthorn is one of my favourite trees here at Bealtaine and I have grown all I have planted from seed. Hawthorns provide food and shelter for many species of birds and mammals, and the flowers are important for many nectar-feeding insects.
In Gaelic folklore, hawthorn ‘marks the entrance to the otherworld’ and is strongly associated with the fairies. Lore has it that it is very unlucky to cut the tree at any time other than when it is in bloom, however during this time it is commonly cut and decorated as a May Bush or Bealtaine…Irish meaning May. This warning persists to modern times; it has been questioned by folklorist Bob Curran whether the ill luck of the De Lorean Motor Company was associated with the destruction of a fairy thorn to make way for a production facility.
Hawthorn trees are often found beside clootie wells; at these types of holy wells they are sometimes known as ‘rag trees’, for the strips of cloth which are tied to them as part of healing rituals. ‘
When all fruit fails, welcome haws’ was once a common expression in Ireland.
These are the pears in one of the orchards this morning, continuing to develop. Good rainfall has helped enormously and the days are healthily damp!
The No-Dig Method of Growing.
It is possible for one woman as myself to look after 3 acres of poor land and make it productive, using the No-Dig method which is in itself an integral part of Permaculture.
Making compost…the most important work you can undertake in the garden, for whatever you don’t want growing will be turned into this rich food for all you want to encourage. Start a compost heap today, don’t wait! I practise the cold-composting method, which is the easiest one to do…just heap it up!
These were planted onto a thin layer of cardboard that was placed directly onto grass. However, you could dispense with the cardboard, as I have done in the past and it works perfectly well! Used straw from the hen run is spread on the top.
As the potatoes push up compost is added on a weekly basis…I have 4 huge compost heaps, so no shortage of good organic food!
Animals and Bedding
I keep 4 hens. Their bedding is barley straw. This is changed often and regularly, giving the garden a continual supply of nitrogen impregnated mulch and fertilizer. I also spread generous amounts of barley straw around their outdoor runs as they love to scratch and I continue to collect the used straw. It’s a good method and works very well for me!
Mulch to Grow, Mulch not to Grow!
Srtaw is placed on the top of cardboard as a way of excluding growth and preparing the ground for the following year. This can also be planted into and is super for trailing plants such as pumpkins!
Nettles on the compost heap…
Lots of lovely straw from the hens garden, ready to put into tyres as a healthy base for growing spuds.
The spuds are placed on a bed of the used straw and covered with the same.
And as the spuds grow I will top them up with home-made compost…the more home-madey the better!