Kitchen Garden in May

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Between the Potager Beds, shown here, and the tunnel, there’s lots of food being harvested, even in these early days of Summer!

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Masses of Carrots here in the shelter of the tunnel and thinning them out is such a tasty task, as I get to eat the smaller ones, complete with vitamin B12. Maybe that’s something you didn’t know…but B12 is found in the soil and why red meat has it in abundance, for cows and sheep are herbivores! If we ate more homegrown veggies, lightly rinsed and raw, our B12 intake would be taken care of!

I ran out of Russian Kale seed, (posted it all of to many of you!), but no need to worry, as it’s come up on it’s own accord in the tunnel!

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Pumpkins are planted in the Potager here in a bottomless pot, (more room to grow roots!), surrounded by Celery, Lettuce, Beetroot, Beans, Cauliflower, Tomato, and Chard.

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Here’s a Leek opening to flower and seed and lots of baby Leeks around too!

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Purple Sprouting Broccoli is seeding nicely too, so there’ll be lots on the seed site!

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I’ve wrapped some raw wool around the Courgette to protect her from slugs, as well as provide a feed.

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Cauliflower and Kale seem happy enough together in this sheltered Potager.

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The tasty leaves of the Bronze Fennel are essential in salads! This perennial is growing near the veranda.

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Lemon Balm near the back door is another essential salad ingredient.

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There’s lots of Thyme in the tunnel, but this one is in a pot by the new veranda…great added to chopped Garlic and fried with mushrooms!

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Another quirky pot, with Lavender, lettuce and Leeks!

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More Kale…I’ll be on a slug hunt tonight!

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Kale, Peas, Beans and Tomatoes…and a tiny Feverfew coming through!

Lots more to plant and sow…but it’s all underway!

 

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Homemade Bread and Book Update

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As promised, here’s the recipe for my easy to make/bake and life-sustaining bread…

For this recipe you’ll need a heavy cast iron saucepan and lid. I use a Le Creuset one, but any cast iron one is good!

I use the cup method of measurement since my daughter Cara bought me some stainless steel measuring cups for my birthday

dsc062672 cups organic wholemeal flour…spelt flour makes for a lighter bread!

2 cups organic white flour

2 cups mixed pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, linseed and poppy seeds. You can choose your own mix to taste!

1 & 1/2 tsps dried yeast

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp herb salt…any one will do.

1 tsp fresh finely chopped herbs…Rosemary or Thyme is good!

Mix well together, then add 2 & 1/3 cups of tepid water.

Using a big spatula, mix well for a few minutes.

dsc06264Now cover with cling film and set aside for 3-4 hours in your kitchen…room temperature is good enough!

dsc06263Pre-heat your oven to 450F and put your pan with lid in to heat.

dsc06262When hot, remove from oven, sprinkle a little flour into the bottom of the pan to prevent bread from sticking, pour in mixture, cover with lid and pop back in oven.

Bake for 30 mins.

Remove from oven, remove lid, then return to oven to bake for a further 15 mins.

dsc06261Remove loaf from pan and leave to cool.

 

Book Update…

The proof returned from the printers today, so I am busy reading and re-reading…

I expect the cover through in the next day or two. At that point I will feel confident enough to allow purchase of advance copies, knowing that the book will be off the presses and delivered to me by a certain date. I’m delighted with what I am reading and seeing so far. I’m happy also that I chose to go with printers here in Ireland, although this makes the book more expensive…the alternatives are not in keeping with what Bealtaine Cottage represents, works for and most importantly, cares for.

I hope to be back on this site with good news before the end of the week!

Blessings to you XXX

Colette at Bealtaine Cottage

Post Midsummer Polytunnel Gardening at Bealtaine Cottage

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Second-phase food production is under way as from this week.

Midsummer has passed and many harvests are home or under-way.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 009This week has seen me clear the tunnel, spread lots of compost afresh on the beds and begin planting for the next phase of crops.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 010As I cleared the tunnel and collected masses of seeds and seed-heads, I was thinking about the crops I would plant.

Number one on my list is Kale; one of the great foods, especially in juicing.

Regular intake of Kale juice keeps health at a peak.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 013 Soil is the most important aspect of good food.

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 007The food takes up the essential minerals and goodness in the soil and turns these into health-giving good food.

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This was a good time to prune the Peach Tree and remove about half of the Nectarines and feed the tree.

I left some of the herbs in place and moved the rest into pots and outside beds.

“The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all. It is the healer and restorer and resurrector, by which disease passes into health, age into youth, death into life. Without proper care for it we can have no community, because without proper care for it we can have no life.”
― Wendell BerryThe Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture 

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 016“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”
― Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 019“Organic is something we can all partake of and benefit from. When we demand organic, we are demanding poison-free food. We are demanding clean air. We are demanding pure, fresh water. We are demanding soil that is free to do its job and seeds that are free of toxins. We are demanding that our children be protected from harm. We all need to bite the bullet and do what needs to be done—buy organic whenever we can, insist on organic, fight for organic and work to make it the norm. We must make organic the conventional choice and not the exception available only to the rich and educated.”
― Maria RodaleOrganic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe

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All the Poppy heads are now harvested, providing a massive amount of Poppy Seed…great in cooking and baking!

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 011“Someday we shall look back on this dark era of agriculture and shake our heads. How could we have ever believed that it was a good idea to grow our food with poisons?”
― Jane GoodallHarvest for Hope: A Guide to Mindful Eating

Summer at Bealtaine Cottage 022“All the human and animal manure which the world wastes, if returned to the land, instead of being thrown into the sea, would suffice to nourish the world.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Permaculture Cottage ~ Organic Apples, Grapes, Pumpkins and Sun Drenched Flowers.

Organic Apples growing at Bealtaine Permaculture Smallholding today. Chutneys, juice and freezing on the menu for these beauties!

Organic Grapes in the tunnel this evening, continuing to ripen and swell. This year has seen the best harvest yet. I mulched and fertilized the vine with raw sheeps wool.

Organic Pumpkins surrounded by oregano and tomatoes in the tunnel about an hour ago.

More Apples on more trees. All organically grown, 6 year old trees, NEVER been sprayed! Here’s a rude salute to the chemical companies and a big ‘hurrah,’ for PERMACULTURE!

The evening sun floods the flowers in the East Garden at Bealtaine Cottage. The Pear in the foreground was wind damaged back in the late Spring, but I have left it to grow as it will do nicely for Chutney!

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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Simple Country Style, Ireland. Cottage Gardening

The Cottage Garden Approach…

cropped-0068.jpgA cottage garden is the most  informal garden it is possible to create and the easiest to maintain, if following the permaculture, no-dig method and approach.

bee on Lavender at Bealtaine CottageLadys Mantle will grow, fall, spread, then grow some more from the centre, outwards…if allowed, and that is what happens in a cottage garden!

Sammy-Bear CatPlants are ‘allowed,’ to do their own thing to a large extent!

Informality is the only hard and fast rule and that’s a contradiction in itself!

Formal or Not

Spirea simply HAS to get unruly before it produces these exquisite spires of pink fluff!

bealtaine Cottage windowThe hedge or bush…there is both here at Bealtaine Cottage, can only be brought back into semi-formality after the flowering period!

Blue Borage

This stunning herb gets very big and quite straggly, but it’s all worth it when the flowers happen.

It self-seeds everywhere, but who cares?

It’s carelessly beautiful!

 Poppies

Once these seeds are introduced into your garden, there is no way back for splashes of pink bobbing on the morning breeze between vegetables and fruit alike.

hanging webThe Bees adore them!

misty morning at Bealtaine CottageAbsolute Anarchy…

Bealtaine CottageJust let it be!

Back door at Bealtaine CottageAt the end of the day that’s the great joy to be found in a cottage garden.

Dog Daisy benchPrepare to be surprised, shocked even!

cropped-060.jpgThere is no rule book!

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Saturday Morning in the Permaculture Garden

These are the pears in one of the orchards this morning, continuing to develop. Good rainfall has helped enormously and the days are healthily damp!

The No-Dig Method of Growing.
It is possible for one woman as myself to look after 3 acres of poor land and make it productive, using the No-Dig method which is in itself an integral part of Permaculture.

Mulching…the Magic!
Making compost…the most important work you can undertake in the garden, for whatever you don’t want growing will be turned into this rich food for all you want to encourage. Start a compost heap today, don’t wait! I practise the cold-composting method, which is the easiest one to do…just heap it up!

Easy Potatoes…
These were planted onto a thin layer of cardboard that was placed directly onto grass. However, you could dispense with the cardboard, as I have done in the past and it works perfectly well! Used straw from the hen run is spread on the top.
As the potatoes push up compost is added on a weekly basis…I have 4 huge compost heaps, so no shortage of good organic food!

Animals and Bedding
I keep 4 hens. Their bedding is barley straw. This is changed often and regularly, giving the garden a continual supply of nitrogen impregnated mulch and fertilizer. I also spread generous amounts of barley straw around their outdoor runs as they love to scratch and I continue to collect the used straw. It’s a good method and works very well for me!

Mulch to Grow, Mulch not to Grow!
Srtaw is placed on the top of cardboard as a way of excluding growth and preparing the ground for the following year. This can also be planted into and is super for trailing plants such as pumpkins!

The Permaculture Centre in N.W. Ireland. Moving Forward.

Lysamachia Punctata is just opening for its annual display of yellow. This is the 7th year of Bealtaine permaculture. It was pointed out to me recently that Bealtaine is becoming more of a centre for permaculture than any other place in the N.W. of Ireland. There are visitors all year round, as well as students who want to view a mature permaculture smallholding , functioning on a daily basis, producing food and energy, as well as a permacultured home, with permaculture principles adopted as a lifestyle choice.

The weather is warm, encouraging flowers to open. Paths are closing in, demanding my attention!

Considering the fact that there are 3 acres of tended gardens here, the total time spent maintaining these is about 2 hours per day, Monday through Friday. This is the biggest bonus to permaculture growing…once established the gardens require little tending. This is because Nature does most of the work and cutting back become the major task through the seasons.

Good harvests of Blackcurrants are promised. None of the bushes are ever covered, as there are lots to share…no need to be selfish!

Redcurrants are ripening. The Redcurrant wine I made last year was very successful and extremely potent, so I know what these will be used for!

The basic recipe I use, from an ancient book, is as follows:

4lbs redcurrants

4lbs sugar

1 gallon of Spring Water

1 tsp wine yeast

Steep the fruit in the water for 4-6 days, stirring daily. Keep covered with a clean cloth. Strain. Add sugar and stir well. Add yeast. Stir well. Pour into demijohn, insert bung and airlock and place in warm area. When clear and no more bubbles rising in airlock, syphon off carefully into bottles and cork.

Abundance in the polytunnel this afternoon.