Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Cottage, Folklore, Food, Herbs, Permaculture, Tea, Uncategorized

Building Fireplaces and Growing Your Own Herbal Teas…

For a long time, the small fireplace in the bedroom was closed up.

Then I decided to open it up and build a small surround.

In the true vernacular style I have used stones from the area around the cottage.

These were stones that the earth had simply pushed out…pieces of red sandstone.

I collected up the small bits to make two piers, one for either side of the fireplace.

These piers were then built onto the larger stones used for raising up the fire grate.

On the top of the larger stones in the grate I placed a big flag stone I had sitting around by the back of the cottage.

I put this old fire insert in place.

I had this sitting out the back with plants in it for a long time!

An old piece of wood was placed atop of the stone piers to form a small, compact mantelpiece.

It was then painted the same colour as the walls to bring it all together!

As you can see, it serves the purpose well! 

There is nothing quite so comforting as drifting off to sleep in front of a beautiful, open fire! 

I grow over 40 varieties of herbs here at Bealtaine Cottage. These I store in glass jars in the pantry, pictured above…

As well as the cultivated herbs, there are, perhaps hundreds of wild herbs growing here as well, such as Sorrel and Mint…in fact several varieties of mint!

wild herbs at  Bealtaine Permaculture cottageOther wild herbs are less obvious, but are there when one goes looking for them!

The fact is, more and more people are becoming alarmed at the reliance on modern medicines.

herbs at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Many people are seeking natural alternatives and many of these are already known to us.

sage in the tunnel at  bealtaine cottage herbsIt is important that we pass on the wisdom accumulated  in our lifetimes as much of what was common lore, folklore is fast being lost as the lines of communication between people are closing, for people talk with each other much less these days!

Making elderflower cordial at  Bealtaine Cottage Folk wisdom was founded on a combination of what people knew, what was passed on to them, understanding of the human mind and a very deep understanding of the value of herbs and plants.

candle in the window at  Bealtaine cottageWhat is more comforting than a cup of peppermint tea to soothe a bilious stomach?

Or a cup of Camomile tea to calm the nerves, or tea made from Lemon Balm or Lemon Verbena?

Wild Mint tea, Nettle tea are ancient recipes for various health problems.

herbs at Bealtaine Cottage All these are now dried teas that we now buy in shops, but these are easily grown, cultivated or even collected from the wild!

Herbal teas are very easy to make!

Simply take half an ounce of the dried herb and pour on one pint of boiling water.  

Alternatively use one ounce of a fresh herb to one pint of boiling water and let it stand for five minutes.

One can add honey or sugar to sweeten and any milk or cream…it really is a matter of personal taste!

early morning at Bealtaine Cottage It’s important to pick the herb before flowering and in the early morning, before the sun is at it’s strongest and many of the oils in the plant are weakened.

If you have a particular herbal tea that you enjoy, it would make sense then to grow an abundance of it, dry and store for all year round use.

willow arches and ponds at bealtaine Cottage permaculture gardensIt’s always best to store in either glass, or stoneware jars as these are natural and will not impart any unwanted flavour to the herb.

I often drink herbal teas that I mix with Indian or Ceylon teas…and get the goodness and flavour of both!

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

Permaculture Cottage ~ Healing Herbs and Using Them

Oregano, harvested today and drying by the stove in the kitchen.

These are the flowers of the Oregano plant and are excellent for use as tea, once dried and stored. Oregano tea is good for sore throats and for warding off colds.

The thin rays of the sun on the windowledge this afternoon. It is almost autumnal. Indeed there appears to be an early start to Autumn.

Lavender was harvested as well as Oregano today. This is a bunch of lavender hanging from above the window. The scent is wonderful.

English lavender yields an essential oil with sweet overtones, and can be used in balms, salves, perfumes and cosmetics. I use the oil in many ways, including making my own cleaning sprays and dropping some oil onto the stove to freshen the air.   

Essential oil of lavender has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. It was used in hospitals during World War I to disinfect floors and walls. These extracts are also used as fragrances for bath products.

According to folk wisdom, lavender has many uses. Infusions of lavender soothe and heal insect bites and burns. Bunches of lavender repel insects. If applied to the temples, lavender oil soothes headaches. In pillows, lavender seeds and flowers aid sleep and relaxation. An infusion of three flowerheads added to a cup of boiling water soothes and relaxes at bedtime. Lavender oil (or extract of Lavender) heals acne when used diluted 1:10 with water, rosewater, or witch hazel; it also treats skin burns and inflammatory conditions.

Lavender can have influence on sleep quality and I often use it to aid sleep, by either sprinkling a few drops of oil on my pillow, or slipping some flower or seed heads inside the actual pillowcase. It can help in alleviating anxiety and related sleep disturbances.

Looking through the front window of the cottage, out onto the rainy day and the wet trees…always beautiful. Seven years ago there were no trees here, just rough grass and rushes. Nature is abundant and generous when encouraged gently.