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!
Up early this morning and climbed the hill at the back of Bealtaine Cottage to visit the well.
It’s a spring well and feeds water to the cottage via simple gravity…the well being further up the hill than the cottage!
Over the past week or so the water in the pipe has occasionally stopped flowing and this usually means an airlock…so I brought a water can with me to force water down the pipe and release the airlock…it worked!
The morning was sunny and windy, so I made the most of the day that was in it and hung the clothes out to dry…hand-washed in the rain barrel!
The water is flowing in a trickle and building up enough pressure in the pipe to get it flowing into the tank in the loft…I can now light the stove!
Another task completed in the vegetable garden…spreading straw on the path around the tunnel…this proves to be very effective at stopping the rampant growth of weeds over the course of the summer.
As this decays, it will be spread on the vegetable beds at the beginning of autumn, making a good top dressing for insulation over the winter months.
One of the Pear trees in the orchard…covered in blossom that promises a good harvest and a possible vintage Pear Wine.
The bees are out in full around the Ribes and are moving onto the fruit blossom, with the Pear and Cherry trees all showing off! These are the first fruit trees to come into bloom here each year.
More blossom on the Amelanchier trees…I planted all the trees over the past 7 years or so and am always amazed at the vigour each spring…they seem to suddenly shoot up and start to tower overhead. Some of the trees in this picture are Lime trees.
One of these days Bealtaine Cottage will disappear…
First of all a BIG TA VERY MUCH for all who have visited my blog over the past year. I began in the middle of August 2010 and in little over a year, 70,000 of you have made the journey to Bealtaine Cottage at Ballyfermoyle, here in the beautiful West of Ireland…well, actually, a very great many of you have visited many times over and subscribed to the blog. Hopefully in the next year the blog will expand even more in some exciting ways…ssshhh, it’s still a secret!
Fuschia and Fedges grow side by side. Both are grown from slips or cuttings. It will soon be time to harvest the willow and plant more cuttings, which is really the story of these gardens. Planting has been ongoing now for seven years, since day one of Bealtaine…
So much rain and so much water gushing along the stream beds in the Bog Garden…the rain brings music!
Walking up towards the woodland that is the Fairy Dell, through new plantings of Willow and Ash…
Spring water gushes up from the well in the woodland.
Deep within the Fairy Dell…has midsummer really passed that quickly?
Perfect apples…never ever sprayed, no chemicals and a bountiful harvest every year!