Food in the Midwinter Garden

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It’s surprising just how much food is growing in the gardens of Bealtaine at this time of year, the time of scarcity…but far from it!

dsc05673dsc05672dsc05671There’s the makings of a decent salad, with Fennel, Japanese salads like Mizuna and others as well as a lovely edible garnish in the form of Pansy flowers.

dsc05670dsc05675In other parts of the gardens, where little micro-climates exist in the form of stones and shed walls, there’s Flat-leaf Parsley and Thyme.

I used Thyme in roasted potatoes yesterday…delicious!

dsc05664Purple Sprouting Broccoli is giving lots of florets…delicious raw or cooked and full of goodness! dsc05663Then there’s Leeks…all grown from saved seed and the stronger for it!

dsc05662Elsewhere in the gardens I found stands of Kale…shred this in salads and roast as chip dips!

dsc05669dsc05668Here and there in the flower beds and in pots…lots of Sage and Rosemary…great herbs to add taste to root vegetables at this time of year!

dsc05666Bay is growing in abundance, quite acclimatised to the Irish climate.

dsc05674Golden Oregano continues to thrive past Midwinter.

All of this is growing outdoors, not in the tunnel and these pics were snapped today, 26th of December!

dsc05651Even the Rhubarb is beginning to produce!

dsc05642There’s lots of other food in the garden…for birds and small mammals, in the form of berries.

Seeds are available from the link below…

 

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-for-sale/

To join the Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…

https://bealtainecottage.com/bealtaine-cottage-good-life/

 

Bottling Summer

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com

The old tin bath has been taken down from the wall of the barn.

Used wine bottles are left to steep for a few hours in rainwater.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (3)Washed and clean, ready to be filled with home-made Blackcurrant wine.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (4)There is always at least one day during the Summer, when one feels enthusiastic enough to overcome the reluctance to get stuck into bottling wine…today, all the right chords were struck and the work began!

Cork stoppers were duly washed and left to soak and soften, till, finally…

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (2)the wine was securely bottled! All that remains to be done is labelling…Chateau Bealtaine!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (2)Outside the back door, Summer continues in layers of sheer abundance…Feverfew splurges on masses of tiny, daisy-like flowers.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (5) Midsummer has only just crossed over and the garlic is ready to pull, with the first batch of Garlic and Oregano Olive Oil infusing.

Summer just keeps on getting bottled!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (4)There is so much food and flowers, it’s sheer Heaven!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (5)Walking around the cottage is a feast for the senses!

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.comEven the ancient Polygonum is covered with bright red flowers…one of the very few plants here that has nothing for the Bees…but a delight for me!  

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (6)Yellow Loosestrife stands tall in the casual cottage borders.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (7)Roses fall over in a drunken Summer stupor, heavy with scent and bees.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (8)Petals cascade onto stone steps, ivory wraps for blushing fairies.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (9)Valerian falls onto the gravel path, dropping seeds and heavy flower-heads onto the visitor’s shoe.

permaculture @ bealtainecottage.com (10)And the Summer that was bottled today, will be brought out amidst smiles and raised glasses in the depths of Midwinter.

Permaculture Fruit and Vegetable Garden

I made a short video about the Fruit and Vegetable garden…  It’s around five minutes long and begins to explain how it all works. I hope you enjoy it…      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayBXUeT5NL0&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Country Living at Bealtaine Cottage…Soaring temperatures for November!

The weather has been so very mild over the past few days with temperatures hitting 17 centigrade…this is hotter than Valencia in Spain!
The hens don’t seem to mind and working outside has been pleasant, so it’s good all round.
Oregano grows almost wild here in the west of Ireland…growing up around the water bins here in this pic…it’s such a bee friendly plant and is perennial too, so once planted it will happily spread all over the place. It especially likes the gravelly ground and indeed is sprouting all along the driveway up to the cottage! The flowers dry well and make great teas…the leaves are, of course, an essential part of any decent pasta or pizza dish!

I am busy making candles for Christmas and bottling wine…to give as presents of course! Home made gifts are always the best!
It’s been a busy week, but I hope to get the video camera out at the weekend and make some more film of the gardens…

Have a great weekend!

Permaculture Cottage ~ 70,000 Visitors…(now almost 300,000) seek a better way forward.

Potting, planting, protecting and nurturing the future of Earth…the babies of Gaia are secure in the Nursery beds as the storm approaches from the west, with an early winter not far behind…in late October to be expected!

Visitors to this permaculture blog topped 70,000 this week.

Interest in permaculture is booming as the forces that rule and dominate this sacred earth go into a tailspin, driven by their hatred, greed and compelling and overwhelming desire to destroy all that is good and sustainable on Gaia.

More and more people are becoming desirous of finding a way forward which can only be based on sustainability.

Permaculture is the way that has proven itself to be foolproof here at Bealtaine Cottage. Marian, Colin and Marisa, visitors this week, will testify to that!

Sedums this morning, near the tunnel.  It’s hard to believe that these are growing where once only rushes grew…with nothing sprayed, turned, dug, imported, raped or plundered.

The thing is, when you start to trust Nature and treat her as a friend, wonderful things start to happen…that is permaculture for me, in a nutshell!

Oregano growing around the water bins near the tunnel this morning.

The flower heads can be dried and used to make tea which has wonderful anti-bacterial properties.

Good for sore throats!

Ash trees stand tall and heroic all around the borders of Bealtaine…I have more faith and trust in these guardians of Gaia than any standing army!

The pathway into the Fairy Dell, lined on either side by a Willow Fedge…now is the time to create fedges like this, easy to make and cost ZERO…my favourite word as you all know!

PS…since posting this in September 2011, over 295,000 visitors have made their way to Bealtaine Cottage…permaculture is blooming!

Permaculture Cottage ~ Friday Photographs from the Smallholding

Leaving the tunnel and walking towards one of the orchards. Crocosmia to the right with water barrels. Oregano growing on the left, just outside the door of the tunnel.

Blackthorn trees on the edge of the woodland near the tunnel. These are now heavy with Sloes, ripe for picking after the first frost…then making Sloe Gin, for Christmas!

Looking back at the tunnel and the Blackthorn trees.

And a little later in the morning as the rain fell.

Willow, cut recently and stored in the Willow Hide.

Permaculture Cottage ~ Oregano, Hippocrates and Herbs

The hips of the Rosa Rugosa are yet to turn red.

Rugosa rose is widely used as an ornamental plant. As a seaside plant it is invaluable as it can tolerate the salty wind and storms really well.

The sweetly scented flowers are used to make pot-pourri in Japan and China,  where it has been cultivated for about a thousand years. This grows well here at Bealtaine Cottage.

The other rose growing abundantly here at Bealtaine is the Rosa Canina, or Dog Rose.

During world war two, the shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables was having an adverse effect on the nation’s health,  so the call went out for the collection and distribution of rose hips  from the hedgerows, as they provided the highest home-grown source of Vitamin C.

In response, the government organised a nationwide initiative to collect roadside rose hips which, with the help of the Women’s Institutes, were processed into syrup for babies and children.

Oregano is an important culinary herb, used for the flavor of its leaves, which can often be more flavourful when dried than fresh. It has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste, which can vary in intensity. Factors such as climate, seasons and soil composition may affect the aromatic oils present.

The leaves are most often used in Greece to add flavour to Greek salad, and is usually added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that accompanies many fish or meat barbecues and some casseroles. I grow heaps of this lovely herb and dry it for daily use all the year round. It is a mainstay of my cooking, especially tomato sauces!

Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic, as well as a cure for stomach and respiratory ailments.

Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. The flowers can be dried and used in tea and as it is a good antiseptic it is useful to stave off colds during the winter.

The easy to grow corm, Crocosmia, this evening at Bealtaine Cottage. The chains of corms are fragile and easily separated, a quality that has enabled some species to become invasive and difficult to control in the garden. However, I welcome invasive flowers…less weeds!They are commonly known in the United States as coppertips or falling stars, and in Britain as montbretia. Crocosmia are winter-hardy in Ireland. They can be propagated through division, removing offsets from the corm in spring.

It’s hard to believe that this is not a garden flower…but the beautiful herb, Chives. This plant has been flowering since the middle of Spring! Chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are the smallest species of the edible onions.

Chives are a commonly used household herb, frequently grown in gardens. In culinary use, chives leaves (straws) are shredded for use as a seasoning for fish, potatoes, soups, and other dishes. Chives have insect-repelling properties that can be used in gardens to control pests.I think they make great border edging plants as well!

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!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 85 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

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How Permaculture Helps Us Re-Connect…Notes from a Cottage in Ireland

The beautiful Kilronan Mountain…

Rubbish dumped over a bridge into the Mountain Stream Bed below…How we perceive the world around us depends largely on how we connect with it, if at all. Most dog owners will know this to be true, because an otherwise dull morning can be transformed by simply walking the dog…getting OUT into the natural world. Walking and connecting with Nature is tremendously uplifting and inspiring…the Romantic Poets and Artists did a lot of walking in Nature and we have their legacy of work to prove that uplifting feeling.

 Walking out to the tunnel in the morning is enough to make the heart happy!As I write this I am listening to the radio and am shocked to hear that Ireland has the 2nd highest alcohol consumption per capita, (that means per person), in the world, spending on average 2000euros per person.

 Drinking large amounts of alcohol depresses the body, causing bio rhythmns to move chaotically, eventually causing depression. The suicide rate here in Ireland is also fairly high with many deaths from suicide not being reported as such. Playstation users in Ireland rank amoung the highest users in the world. There are many signs that the disconnect from the land is causing unhappiness. Litter is a big problem here also. How we treat the land can be a reflection of how we view ourselves…we are connected but are more often than not in denial about this.

 Re-connecting with Gaia is the best one single action to make/take for personal health and wellbeing…

The north facing bank which protects the cottage  from the worst of the weather is filling out as the trees and shrubs come into flower and leaf. The variety of planting gives all year round colour.Lettuce and Oregano growing together in a home made planter box. This sits on the veranda and so is close by for quick and easy salads…usually an add-on thought at any meal, so I don’t have to go far!Conditions have been exactly right over the past nine months or so for the germination of Blackcurrant seeds and these tiny Blackcurrant seedlings are all over the gardens here at Bealtaine.