Posted in Autumn, Country Living, Garden, Growing Food, Ireland, Life, Permaculture, Thoughts

A Special Delivery from the Postman!

My postman, Tom Benson, was clearing out the cowsheds on his farm in Keadue and kindly offered me an absolute mound of well-rotted cow manure, one of the best additions to the permaculture gardens at this time of the year.

It will boost the fertility in all areas of the land, especially the fruit and vegetable gardens.

The harvest next year will be a good one, for sure!

Spreading it on the earth before the soil cools is also a way of letting it get in around roots before the next growing season.

Never mind diamonds…this is a permaculture girl’s best friend!

And on the subject of diamonds…here’s my little Pumpkin Mouser Missy, sitting beside the pumpkins on the veranda.

These will soon be ready to bring into the pantry and store for the winter, ready for pies, soups and curries.

Grown only on home-made compost, these cabbages continue to develop good firm hearts, ideal for saukeraut and freezing.

The autumn is continuing to be a fair season, dry and mild.

Time to tidy sheds and treat all outside wood with a preservative.

Last night was a full moon and the land was illuminated beautifully.

Tonight promises the same.

I do so love the autumn!

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!

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Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Books, Climate, Food, Garden, Gardening, Herbs, History, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

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!

Posted in Uncategorized

Lovage and Lettuce…Easy Permaculture Crops in Ireland

The view from my window a few moments ago.

Mist is clearing upwards from the valley floor up towards the top of Kilronan Mountain.

There’s great promise in the day.

Frost has melted into the heat of the morning as the temperature rises…

As the buds burst open and the blossom thickens, the planting grows dense and shade descends below…the earth is once more protected from the impending heat of the summer.

Leaves opening on the dogwoods.

This is a good time of the year to feed plants like these.

I make up a sludge from chicken droppings that have been left to ferment.

Lovage is growing fast at the moment and will continue to grow, reaching heights of over seven feet by midsummer!

This is a perennial herb.

The flavour is intense…spiced celery and strong!

I use it in soups and curries.

I grow most of my summer lettuce in hanging baskets for a slug-free happy growing system!

This is one recently planted out and hanging in the tunnel to get ahead before hanging outside.

This is a lovely and easy way to grow all the organic lettuce you need, from now until early October!