Last year I planted a new orchard at Bealtaine Cottage.
To date there are thirty eight fruit trees planted across the three acres of land here.
This new orchard was planted on an area previously fenced off and used for hens over a period of years.
This is always a good start, as the land was prepared by the hens in terms of manuring and picking over.
Before the trees were planted I laid down a generous spread of seaweed and covered this with cardboard, to hold back the weeds for a year or so.
Over the morning I have been planting yet more layers into the orchard, mainly flowers and herbs to attract and feed the bees…my secret of abundant harvests; where would we be without the bees?
The next phase will include planting a bee-friendly hedge along the south edge of the area.
I planted Fuschia and Berberis, Dogwood and Rubus along the north edge.
As I cut back around the orchard, cuttings are dropped onto the ground around the trees and bushes as a mulch. The planting continues as more and more flowers and herbs are brought from my small nursery area, a really important part of any permaculture garden or smallholding!
As with all my projects here at Bealtaine, I couldn’t resist using some Willow to effect, constructing a simple arbour that will eventually house a home-made bench, on which to sit and sup a cup of tea! The plan of maximum planting has worked well all over the land here, building resilience as well as fertility into the land, as a forest does naturally.
The days have been warm and sunny, with the back door open all day long.
There is such a good balance of biodiversity here that flies don’t seem to be a bother…this can be a serious Irish complaint during the summer months!
I pulled the sofa chair over to the open door as I find the soft sounds of life in the gardens very soothing.
Sammy does too!
The idea of planting food trees is taking off here in the west of Ireland.
My local town of Drumshanbo has planted a Community Orchard near the entrance to the town…a great Transition Towns inspiration!
The sun rises in a cooler sky, as the mist crawls slowly along the valley floor, in from Lough Meelaugh, past Kilronan castle to eventually meet the mists that cover the giant stretch of water that is Lough Allen.
Autumn is a time of mists, just as Samhain merges into Winter, so do the mists swirl and merge away off into the low clouds.
Lough Allen is an English translation from the Gaelic, meaning ‘Beautiful Lake’, and that it is!
The little town of Drumshanbo lies just above the Lough in the County of Leitrim.
It is little wonder it is referred to as “Lovely Leitrim.”
On a calm day the Lough takes on a look of pure glass, as in Maeve Binchy’s book, “The Glass Lake.”
I am happy to see such a beautiful sunrise and then sit here writing in the still of the morning…it’s now exactly 9am.
This morning has to be slowly enjoyed because there’s a mighty storm of heavy rain approaching Ireland.
Rain has been heavy all year and the earth is quite sodden…the wettest I have ever experienced.
As I write this, clouds have shadowed out the morning sun and already spots of rain are dotting the windows.
Even as the rain falls, the harvest continues…
Did you know that Rose-hips contain 20 times more vitamin C than the same weight of oranges?
Here is an old recipe for making Rosehip Syrup, a Vitamin C product given to babies and young children during World War Two…
2lb ripe rose-hips
6 pints water
Wash and remove stalks.
Mince or finely chop.
Add to pan with 4 pints boiling water, bring back to boil then remove from heat.
Stand for 15 minutes then strain through a jelly bag.(I use a cotton pillow-case!)
Return the pulp to pan with 2 pints boiling water, bring to boil, remove and stand for 10 minutes, then strain through jelly bag.
Now mix both juices and boil until reduced to 2 pints.
Add sugar, stir until dissolved, boil for 5 minutes.
Pour into small bottles, seal and sterilize using pan method.
Other Uses for Rose-hips…
Rose hips can be gathered and dried for tea.
Drying methods are simple as the fruit is small and easily dried…but keep it slow and steady…I use the oven on my wood stove and leave the door slightly ajar to keep the dry air circulating but not baking.
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day to all! If you are planning on visiting the “Land of Saints and Scholars,” to see the “Forty Shades of Green,” make sure you come before the Fracking Starts! This was the message today from the Saint Patrick’s Day Float which won the “Most Entertaining Float,” in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade in my local town of Drumshanbo!
A representative from “NO FRACKING IRELAND,” Cara, accepts the award on behalf of everyone who worked so hard for several weeks, making the float, from Martin Kenny, Sinn Fein Councillor and Councillor Gerry Dolan.
Deputy Colreavy of Sinn Fein, speaking on the issue of Fracking in Ireland, stated that, “Sinn Féin will stand with the people in their fight against it.”
Michael Colreavy, Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-North Leitrim, has criticised proposed plans for the use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking as a means of gas extraction in the Lough Allen Basin. Deputy Colreavy highlighted the fact that there are real concerns about the use of fracking, both for the health of the people in the surrounding areas, and also environmental concerns.
Speaking on the issue Deputy Colreavy said: “The use of fracking has been outlawed in France and in Bulgaria. In England, near Blackpool, fracking has been suspended due to strong evidence that it was a contributing factor to a number of earthquakes. The practice, if introduced into Ireland, could well have environmental and health implications for people in the vicinity of the fracking activity. The practice is not likely to benefit the people of the area because, just like the gas, the money too will flow out of Ireland.” Deputy Colreavy added: “People will be excused if they are sceptical of Tamboran Resources promise of jobs to the area. The practice of fracking will cause more harm to the area than benefits. The real potential for job creation in the North West region is in the development of clean, renewable energy. Most people in Leitrim, Cavan, Fermanagh and other areas realise that this practice could have a huge impact on their lives and their surrounding area. This has been clearly demonstrated by the massive groundswell of opposition to fracking. Sinn Féin will stand with the people in their fight against it.
Representative of “NO FRACKING IRELAND,” with Hugh Gallagher, Chairperson of Cull and Tymon Cumann, Arigna. This branch of Sinn Fein hosted a screening of Josh Fox’s “Gasland,” as a community event in Arigna. People in this part of Ireland are becoming moreinformed about the perils of fracking.
Thanks to the Transition Year students at Carrick School who helped out with the Float!