Posted in Earth, Earth Day, Permaculture, Permaculture in Ireland, Spring, Uncategorized, Woodland

Earth Day at Bealtaine Cottage

DSC09083Photographs (18 exclusive photos taken today) from the gardens of Bealtaine Cottage on EarthDay 2016.

Words from the Earth Day network…on Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.

We are now entering the 46th year of a movement that continues to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.

In 1970, the year of our first Earth Day, the movement gave voice to an emerging consciousness, channelling human energy toward environmental issues. Forty-six years later, we continue to lead with ground-breaking ideas and by the power of our example.

And so it begins. Today. Right here and right now. Earth Day is more than just a single day — April 22, 2016.

This Earth Day and beyond, let’s make big stuff happen. Let’s plant 7.8 billion trees for the Earth. Let’s divest from fossil fuels and make cities 100% renewable. 

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April 2011 Ballyfermoyle 013The paid subscription website, Bealtaine Cottage Good Life allows you to support my work in return for some extra special blogs and photographs…and allows me a small, but much needed, income.

Here’s where you can sign up…

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

Yes, I have a mortgage and some bills to meet each month and this is my only source of income. The free website, Bealtaine Cottage, has almost reached maximum capacity at 97.8% of 13 GB allowance at a cost of 199 Euros per year. Bealtaine Cottage Good Life has the same 13 GB allowance, but with only 18% used, so you can see why I now publish new blogs on Bealtaine Cottage Good Life! My total expenditure on both sites and internet maintenance now exceeds 700 Euros.

I will continue to write about, and photograph, Mother Earth whether you subscribe/donate or not…but I so appreciate those who do!
…blessings to all XXX Colette

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Bees, bog gardens, Cottage, First day of Spring, Garden, Ireland, Permaculture, season, Uncategorized, Woodland, woods

Signs of Spring

Catnip Heart Toy made at Bealtaine Cottage

Life is stirring.

Light shines higher in the morning sky.

Thickening buds cast a haze over the land.

“But there were certain early days in Casterbridge- days of firmamental exhaustion which followed angry south-westerly tempests-when, if the sun shone, the air was like velvet.”
Thomas Hardy

The woodland that surrounds Bealtaine Cottage

Colours emerge and birds sing out a joyous, higher note.

Warm weather in January

We are officially in the season of Spring in the West of Ireland and the new energy is tangible, from rising in the morning to the growing lateness of dusk.

The temperature seems rather unstable, as you can see evidence of in the photograph above.

The morning began very cold and in the space of minutes, the temperature had climbed by 18 F., causing the mirror on the veranda to steam up!

I recorded this as most of the only real information about climate and weather appears to be anecdotal evidence from social media! Cottage interior at Bealtaine, 2016

My favourite aspect of Spring is the way the light changes.

If one simply sat in this cottage and never ventured outdoors it would be possible to map the seasons in light play.

I expect birds, animals and even insects are similarly informed.

Living in the glare of artificial light can be dulling to our senses!

“She walks in the loveliness she made,
Between the apple-blossom and the water–
She walks among the patterned pied brocade,
Each flower her son, and every tree her daughter.”
Vita Sackville-West, The Land

DSC08092

Elsewhere in the woodland gardens at Bealtaine, frogs have emerged from hibernation and busied themselves, as only frogs can in cold ponds!

Frogs in Bealtaine pond have the luxury of a shallow, sheltered, ancillary pond, hand dug by myself, just off the main one.

This water heats faster and earlier, ensuring maximum attention to the detail of frog mating and spawning…a sort of nursery pond!

Anyway, it works a treat and has done for the past eleven years.

As a consequence, the amphibian life force has healthily expanded!

“Woods were ringed with a colour so soft, so subtle that it could scarcely be said to be a colour at all. It was more the idea of a colour – as if the trees were dreaming green dreams or thinking green thoughts.”
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

 

Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016
Frogspawn at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland, 1st Feb 2016

“It is spring again. The earth is like a child that knows poems by heart.”
Rainer Maria Rilke

Permaculture gardens at Bealtaine Cottage Feb 2016

Diversity of planting not only has created resilience, but bestowed all year round colour to Bealtaine Cottage…so appreciated as Spring emerges…for with this rising of the sap, comes a much defined colour change!

“She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
“Winter is dead.”
A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young

Pussy Willow at Bealtaine Cottage. Ireland

Catkins have appeared on the Willow…and there’s many different varieties in the Woodland. Pond and even Orchard gardens. Essential food for the bees emerging from a hungry winter hibernation.

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”…
“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Quince flowers, Bealtaine Cottage, Feb 2016

This Quince grows in the Bog Garden and has begun to flower!

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.”
Margaret Atwood

DSC08097

Where would Spring be without the exquisite little Primroses?

Seen here in the Fairy Wood at Bealtaine, surrounded by Spurge!

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

Spurge at bealtaine cottage in the Fairy Wood

The Fairy Wood awakens!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You can place an order for seeds harvested here at Bealtaine cottage, from the plants seen growing here…all strong and vigorous. Click on the link below that will take you to the selection available:

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

 

I’m happy to write, photograph, podcast, YouTube and Facebook on behalf of Mother Earth…it would be great if you could take a second or two to press the LIKE button, leave a comment, or even subscribe to Bealtaine Cottage Good Life…

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

Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, Edible Gardens, Garden, Lifestyle, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Thoughts, Uncategorized

We Are At War!

DSCF0805The ‘Dig for Victory’ campaign was started at the beginning of World war two, in Britain,

www.bealtainecottage.comThe people of Britain were urged to use any spare land to grow vegetables.

 www.bealtainecottage.comVictory gardens were planted everywhere…and I mean everywhere!

www.bealtainecottage.com 006All land was considered viable for planting, including gardens, lawns, parks, golf clubs and all public spaces even in the City of London, around the Tower of London, for example! 

www.bealtainecottage.com 004During the height of the war, when food was rationed through scarcity, there were 3.5 million allotments in Britain, producing over a million tonnes of vegetables and it was estimated that in 1944 British gardeners produced between 2 and 3 million tons of food overall!

www.bealtainecottage.com 034People were encouraged to keep small livestock and ‘Pig Clubs’ were formed as a way of best utilizing leftovers to feed the pigs.

Flo, with me holding GloriaHens and Ducks were kept for their valuable eggs.

Autumn in the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage 034The children growing up through this period of time were the healthiest ever reared in Britain.

apples and sunflowersMy mother was born and raised during this time and lived a remarkably long and healthy life!

Colette in one of the orchardsSo, now we are all in a state of financial hardship and unemployment, I have one simple question to pose.

harvestWhy cannot our governments introduce a similar campaign?

harvesting blackcurrantsWe are at war…with poverty!

Posted in E.U., Earth, Food, Fracking, Garden, Growing Food, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Politics, Trees, Uncategorized

G8 Summit of Charlatans

wheelbarrow at bealtaine cottageWhat is happening in our societies is not about austerity.

It is not about the economy either.

permaculture gardens at bealtaine cottageIt is about the blatant, criminal misuse and misappropriation of our taxes.

Was any government you ever voted for, mandated to give our tax money to banks?

By the barn at Bealtaine cottageWas that the platform that the trustees we elected, in trust, to hold in trust, our state, voted into office?

bealtaine Cottage Permaculture gardensThe media keeps talking about our “Economy”, as though it were our lack of work  or effort that caused any of these problems.

We are told continually that the past is the past, what’s done is done and to move on!

We are told that we need to get the economy moving by spending!

Valerian at Bealtaine CottageI do not want to buy stuff.

I want an equitable society where all are cared for.

June 15 2013 at Bealtaine CottageRecently, here in Ireland, our government at the behest of the EU, inflicted a “carbon tax” upon us in the form of 75 cents rise on a bag of coal.

But here’s the catch…it is the poorest people who are reduced to buying coal to keep warm…and usually the oldest and most vulnerable in our society.

Field Maple tree at Bealtaine CottageWhere is this tax going?

Well, Ireland has the lowest tree cover in Europe and it is not being re-invested into the planting of deciduous trees.

Trees at Bealtaine CottageMost of this money will be traded for Carbon Tax credits…total madness!

We need trees here in Ireland!

Copper Beech at Bealtaine CottageI am currently sitting in a G8 Exclusion Zone.

They will be converging just up the road from me, in the next few days, to start the carve-up of what is left in societies.

A canopy of Beech,Birch, Ash and Field Maple today at Bealtaine CottageThe forces that be have recently been out on the roads around the G8 Summit Hotel, removing anti-fracking signs…leaders must not be subjected to any kind of opposition to their distorted world views!

Pollarded Sycamore at Bealtaine Cottage I can tell you what they WILL NOT be talking about…

bird bath in pollarded Sycamore at Bealtaine CottagePlanting trees!

Broccoli and Campion at Bealtaine CottageHow we expand education for all!

Ox-eye daisies in bloom today at Bealtaine CottageWays of supporting the Carers in society!

Creating a more just and equitable society.

Bealtaine Cottage todayPutting programmes in place to encourage people to grow organic food.

Roses at the back of Bealtaine Cottage todayNationalising water and all major utilities to ensure front-line democracy for all citizens!

Missy today in the sun at Bealtaine CottageSocial unrest is being driven by corporate greed and the resulting societal chaos compounded by unemployment, mental trauma, & poverty!

Missy todayWill the G8 address any of these real issues?

I’m not holding my breath!

Roses today at Bealtaine CottageThere’s some real work to be done here at Bealtaine Cottage…trees to plant, food to grow and Nature to engage with…with the occasional cup of tea brewed up on the rocket stove!

Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 100 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

Thank you for supporting this blog

Posted in Badgers, biodiversity, Birds, Garden, Gardening, Gardens, Growing Food, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sustainable Living, Trees, Uncategorized

Permaculture Brings Hope…before and after images!

It’s been almost nine years since I began planting this smallholding in the west of Ireland. Before permaculture. Bealtaine CottageMany of you are familiar with the landscape as it looked then.

The picture above shows Bealtaine Cottage after a lot of cutting and clearing, around the time that the planting began. June 2011 permaculture cottage 021

This picture shows the same view today.

As you can see, the cottage is obscured…melting into the gardens of intense production.

Bealtaine Cottage before and after

The lonely, abandoned cottage on the first day I saw it.

Bealtaine Cottage driveway

Disappeared into the Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…nine years of planting by one woman and a spade!

Installin permaculture pond at Bealtaine CottageThis picture shows the Bog Garden after the first pond was created and the surrounding land cleaned up for planting.

Photographs taken at the time depict a barren looking, rushy, wet landscape that offered little hope or sanctuary for gardeners, growers, wildlife or Nature.

Permaculture Cottage July 2011 016The same view down to the pond is obscured with dense and abundant planting.

This nine year journey has opened my eyes and my mind to the problems facing the entire planet in terms of food production, sustainable living and facilitating Nature.

The answer is simple.

June 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 023Plant!

As the planting develops, so fertility returns to the land.

Tree planting at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 015Birds choose to set up home nearby.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture March 2011 016Frogs, Toads and Newts find their way to your pond and start to breed.

wild orchids at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture 019Wild flowers make a show…like these wild Orchids.

apple trees at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage July 2011 011Fruit trees and bushes grow and give you fruit…more than what can be harvested!

tunnel at Bealtaine cottage005Micro-climates evolve as everything grows.

June 2011 Permaculture 002Fuel is harvested.

Small mammals settle into chosen areas…there is a Badger set at Bealtaine Cottage now.

veranda at Bealtaine CottageYour body becomes attuned to the seasons and good health follows.

The best part of all this, is that although permaculture requires  labour to set up, it is maintained with minimal work and attention.

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Posted in Animals, Bealtaine Cottage, biodiversity, Cats, Climate, Country Living, Dogs, Ecology, Garden, Herbs, Ireland, Permaculture, Smallholding, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Cats in the Sink and Frogs in the Pond!

Missy Cat in the sink at Bealtaine Cottage

Missy Cat is being stubborn and uncooperative.

Frogs are laying spawn in the pond.

The sun is shining and snow is promised.

All that’s missing is the Mad March Hare!

Bealtaine Cottage SeedsI’ve been having fun stamping my little cat stamp all over the seed envelopes.

Bealtaine Cottage stampAs you can see it is a specially made stamp that says “by Bealtaine Cottage.”

Bealtaine Cottage summer in the permaculture tunnelLots of you have asked for seed, so I’ve been busy sorting and labelling before posting all over the world!

Missy Cat at Bealtaine CottageI always dreamt that the magic of this little cottage in the west of Ireland would spread out, like a ripple of life and energy, to all four corners of the world…and it really is happening.

Many of the plants grown here over the years will be grown this year across Europe, America and Australia…it’s wonderful to think of.

This is today’s video all about the frogs in the pond in the Bog Garden…

Posted in Garden, Growing Food, Inspiration, Life, Permaculture, Spring

Permaculture Planting at Bealtaine Cottage

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine CottageCardboard and seaweed.

Copious amounts of both were brought to the cottage last Sunday by two followers of this Permaculture blog, Terri and Lol, now good friends!

Living by the Atlantic Ocean in Connemara, access to seaweed was available and, as Terri has a health shop, cardboard was plentiful.

Bealtaine Cottage willowMaking the journey  all the way from Connemara, with their friend, John, the boot of the car was opened and this incredible valuable material was hauled out.

Atlantic shore seaweed, bags of it, along with flattened cardboard, was to be used in the making of a new garden.

As with all permaculture gardening, it would be simple and easy.

Bealtaine Cottage permaculture plantingI started this process yesterday and made a short film about my progress this morning…see the link at the bottom of the page.

Preparation of the permaculture is easy and takes a relatively short amount of time.

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Permaculture is the easiest and most environmentally-friendly way to garden, grow or farm.

Bealtaine Cottage willow archPermaculture considers every single aspect of the world around us, from the home, extending into the garden and beyond.

You will see how this is applied in some small way in the video.

Enjoy!

Posted in Animals, Autumn, biodiversity, Dogs, Garden, Life, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Uncategorized

Cutting, Clearing, Planting and Composting…Autumn at Bealtaine Cottage

Cutting back the willow in the forest fruit garden today, allowing the willows archways space to develop more.

The cut willow is shredded and spread around the fruit bushes as an autumn mulch.

This will compost down over the winter months and provide food for the soil which in turn will feed the bushes…cycle of life completed with a bountiful harvest nest summer.

I have cleared some of the potager beds today to make room for an autumn sowing of garlic and onion sets.

It makes good sense to plant out the garlic bulbs before the soil cools down…same for onion sets.

This is the sure way to grow good-size onions to harvest next year!

This is my favourite time of year to work outdoors.

It’s not too hot nor too cold…and the autumn scents are so evocative.

Meanwhile, indoors, Jack and Flo have spent the morning fighting over who gets the biggest dog basket…Flo has lost this time, so has decided to make Jack as uncomfortable as possible by sitting on his back!

Isn’t it amazing how little dogs can be so bossy?

The paths around the garden are so overgrown that some are no longer navigable.

The word “jungle,” springs to mind!

However, the sheer volume of prunings is adding enormous bulk to the compost heap, which is now the biggest ever!

I have grown some mighty pumpkins in the potager beds this year that have had only compost in them.

I think that the sheer biodiversity of the plants here at Bealtaine is the basis of some great compost!

Clearing the paths and cutting back is a lovely way to spend quiet time on the land…being outdoors on a fine autumn day is hard to beat!

Posted in Abundance, Cats, Country Living, Food, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized

Waiting for the Storm…

 The weather is about to break…we are expecting thunder storms!

The earth is dry and the well is low.

Thunderstorms and rain, lots of rain, will be very welcome indeed!

It’s eight years since I laid this floor, bit by broken bit and I decided to give it a facelift of sorts, by simply colouring in the cement using some green masonry paint, sponged on and then wiped off the tiles…it has made the floor look good and the cost was zero!

The garden is sheer abundance at the moment!

Everything is growing and flourishing.

The vegetable bed I started on Sunday, is now extended even further and planted up as I go.

I can pop out with a torch and remove slugs…easily.

Having vegetable beds near the cottage, makes taking care of these precious plants easy!

This is how permaculture works…easy!

The Willow hoops are working great, keeping the cats away…they scowl as they pass!

Planting lettuce, which grow fast and have a short time in the bed, between plants like cabbage and cauliflower, makes perfect sense, helping to keep the weeds down.

I will whitewash the stones when the bed is completed.

The Valerian has grown up around this old bicycle, affording it an arty look…sometimes the natural evolution of a piece of junk takes on a beauty all of it’s own!

Posted in biodiversity, Birds, Cats, Fairies, Folklore, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Woodland

Permaculture Planting…The Importance of Trees

Following on from the short video on Willow and using willow in the garden as living willow fedges and structures, here’s a short video on trees… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBu_fP82VDY&list=UUHkXJ9wsrdPEpzb-KMgmt-A&index=1&feature=plcp

Posted in biodiversity, Bloom, Country Living, Ecology, Food, Garden, Growing Food, Permaculture, Uncategorized

Permaculture Planting at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland

Over the last few months I have been gradually clearing the compost heaps…5 in total.

The ground under the heaps is in lovely condition, as you can imagine, so I decided to use this area to plant potatoes into tyres.

The chitted potatoes are pushed deep into the earth and the tyre place on top, then gradually filled with compost, from, you guessed right, the nearby heap.

It’s a bit like growing potatoes in the heap, but they’re much easier to find!

There’s quite a few chitted potatoes left, so I am doing the same thing in whatever spaces I can find!

Last year, many of my neighbours lost potatoes to the blight, but mine came through just fine.

I think this may be due to planting the potaoes irregularly…here and there, with no uniform rows, so blight does not get the chance to spread!

Crops in the tunnel are coming along well, with all the sunshine!

The stone edges hold the heat of the sun and release it at night…the perfect passive solar collectors.

 As I walk in the gardens, there is the most tremendous hum of bees and insects…going in a mad frenzy around all the Ribes blossom!

As you can see from the pics, the weather today is marvellous! The temperature is 21c…!

Just a small section of the Ribes…this grow like a weed here and is a stunning bush, windbreak, source of kindling for the stove and, of course, restaurant for the bees!

Early summer! It’s hot in the gardens, so lunch will be served outside!

Posted in Cottage, Garden, Inspiration, Ireland, Permaculture, Uncategorized

January at the Cottage

Re-cycling

The cottage is warm and cosy, thanks to heaps of old timber 

collected over the summer months.

Old wood flooring, pallets and posts have been stock-piled. Most

were sodden wet,

but have dried out well and give off super heat!

You may be wondering at the pic…yes, it snowed a little today and

this was snapped around 4pm.

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January Work

  • Plant trees
  • Clean out land drains
  • Prune fruit trees, mainly apple.
  • Prune bushes
  • lift and divide perennials
  • Wash tunnel inside and out   

Oh…and how could I forget…take Jack on longer walks!

Reflections

There are times when it can seem impossible to see the wood for the trees, as the old saying goes…and this time after the midwinter can appear confusing, as winter and the beginnings of Spring tend to merge and fade.

It remains a time of hibernation on cold days and Spring activity on sunny ones. My advice is simply to ‘go with the flow.’

Most of all, enjoy the days of this month and measure the gradual lengthening of each one.

Posted in Uncategorized

A Life in the Country ~ Cottage Living

Living in a small cottage in the west of Ireland is easy enough!

Irish dresser in the cottage kitchen at Bealtaine CottageIt’s small…very small…two tiny bedrooms, one sitting room, a kitchen, shower room and porch. 

Bealtaine Cottage before Christmas 2012It’s old…ish, and built from stone in the vernacular style and all local stone!

Midwinter mist at Bealtaine CottageBealtaine Cottage, for that is it’s name, nestles nicely into three acres, now mostly set to trees and ponds and permaculture!

The best place to seek God is in a garden.

You can dig for him there.

 ~George Bernard Shaw

Bealtaine Cottage Midwinter GardenPermaculture means planting, planting and more planting!

Plant for your life!

The Earth needs trees and cover and food and fuel…lots and lots…and Abundance follows!

Oregano grows wild here, through the gravel, around trees and all over the tunnel and bees love it.

I think it annoys God if you walk by the color purple in a field
and don’t notice.
                                                                                   – Alice Walker
From “The Color Purple”

The Barn at Bealtaine Cottage, midwinter 2012Garden writing is often very tame, a real waste when you think how opinionated,
inquisitive, irreverent and lascivious gardeners themselves tend to be.  Nobody
talks much about the muscular limbs, dark, swollen buds, strip-tease trees and
unholy beauty that have made us all slaves of the Goddess Flora.  ~Ketzel
Levine’s talkingplants.com

Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture midwinter 2012Secret Garden…Adagio…beautiful… Click on the link to watch and listen!

http://youtu.be/nNL9Lole-iE

Posted in Abundance, Autumn, Gaia, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Self-Sufficiency, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage Daily

Your Daily Permaculture News from Ireland

Plant propagation and Increasing your stock.

Plant propagation is the process of creating new plants from a variety of sources: seeds, cuttings, bulbs and other plant parts. This is a great time of the year to engage with this way of increasing your garden/smallholding for free.

Now is the time to…MULCH!

In agriculture and gardening, mulch is a protective cover placed over the soil to retain moisture, reduce erosion, provide nutrients, and suppress weed growth and seed germination.

This is the best time of the year to do that…before the soil begins to cool off as the Autumn sets in. That way, the soil is warm as it is mulched and this keeps in the heat to a fair degree, which is good for the plants and life forms.

Mulching in gardens and landscaping mimics the leaf cover that is found on forest floors.

Making Compost

As you progress through permaculture, you will find you have access to more and more compostable materials in your garden/smallholding/farm. This is, simply a golden opportunity for your land to benefit from compost!

Compost can be rich in nutrients.  The compost itself is beneficial for the land in many ways, including as a soil conditioner, a fertilizer, addition of vital humus or humic acids, and as a natural pesticide for soil.

In ecosystems, compost is useful for erosion control, land and stream reclamation and wetland construction.

Compost  is organic matter that has been decomposed and recycled as a fertilizer and soil amendment.

Compost is a key ingredient in Permaculture. At its most essential, the process of composting requires simply piling up waste outdoors and waiting a year or more.

Perennial Crops

Perennial crops are crops planted and grown to reduce inputs necessary to produce food. By greatly reducing the need to replant crops from year-to-year, perennial cropping can reduce topsoil losses due to erosion and increase biological carbon sequestration within the soil. Rhubarb is a great example of perennial cropping, though division every 4-5 years is necessary. This is also a perfect way of increasing the crop yield and spreading the planting base.

And Flowers to feed the bees and the soul…

And…one ab fab simple permaculture idea!

The idea was pioneered by Brazilian Engineer Alfredo Mozer in 2002 –

Check this video out —  Solar bottle lights in the Philippines http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBWi3NtND68&feature=share via @youtube

Posted in Abundance, Beltane, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Inspiration, Ireland, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Smallholding, Summer, Uncategorized

Permaculture Cottage…Groups of Plants and Jack….

Jack has settled into Bealtaine very well and now runs around the cottage playing with anything he can steal…usually one of my socks, scarves or shoes…

Highly scented Buddleia, drooping under their own weight, hang down after the storms of recent days.

No butterflies as the weather has been so bad recently…hoping all that will change at the weekend when warmer days are promised!

Intense permaculture planting of Bamboo, Spirea, Horse Chestnut, Buddleia, Dogwood and Greengage, bullying and pushing weeds away from them…

More intense planting of Gunnera Manicata, Cherry and Ribes.

The permaculture gardens here at Bealtaine Cottage have lots of rain and like to pretend to be a rainforest!

Little Gatherings…

Hypericum, Sedge, Pine and Beech, with Michaelmas Daisies coming slowly into flower, rather too early I think!

The tall pink plumes of the Spirea and the long lasting flowers of the Lysimachia Punctata make a lovely show despite the rain and wind!

Posted in Current Affairs, Earth, Ecology, Gaia, Ireland, Leitrim, Permaculture, Roscommon, Sligo, Trees, Uncategorized, Wildlife, Woodland

The Fear of Trees ~ Why Our Environment is Sick!

If we understood the need for trees on our planet, we would be out planting for our very lives!

This is a realisation being brought more and more to the fore of my thinking.

All that is wrong in our world today can be traced back to our reckless and insane treatment of the environment.

The cost of economic growth in our world has been paid for by Gaia herself.

And yes, I know I sound passionate and maybe even upset, but, then, I am!

The E.U. and Trees!

I once held out hope that Ireland’s participation in the European Union would create a sense of joined up thinking about the state of our sick environment and how we could start to create instead of continually destroy.

That somehow, policy and directives from Brussels would create enlightenment and lead to the wholesale planting of trees on our monocultured island…but recent discussions with someone in receipt of E.U. grants for tree-planting has led me to be very concerned indeed!

Grant to Plant!
In order to qualify for a specific grant to plant deciduous trees, my friend has to agree to plant 2,600 deciduous trees on 3 acres…and I’ve tweeked these figures…DOWN!
Now for those of you who don’t know what 3 acres looks like, have a closer scan of some of the 500 or so posts put up from Bealtaine Cottage.

Sitting on 3 acres, the cottage is surrounded by trees, planted over the course of the past 7 years.

Somewhere between 500-600 trees have been planted, with plans for a further 100-200 in the future.

Can you identify much room for a further 2,000 or so trees?

I conclude that the E.U. does not have a clue, not even an iota of one!

Monoculture Monsters

The state of tree planting here in Ireland can be summed up as inadequate, with the emphasis on monoculture plantations of Sitka Spruce, planted for harvesting, in long, tight rows, where only a huge machine could possibly access the nightmare of environmental sickness.

These trees are planted for money and regarded only in fiscal terms.

Monoculture is the order of the day because the environment is tied into the “Merchants of Greed,” as John Seymour called them…the institutions now viewed as the great destroyers of our country!

And, This Fear…?

Where does it come from?

What is it that makes so many people frightened of Nature?

Where does this desperation to control Gaia come from?

To see trees reduced to gangly, over-crowned sticks that need staking in order to stand up, is a sad reflection on our lack of understanding of our world and Mother Nature.

Trees don’t need stakes if the WHOLE environment in which they are planted is taken into consideration.

There are no staked trees at Bealtaine other than some of the smaller fruit trees that become heavy with fruit and need supporting during this time.

It is this continual need to dominate Nature and control her that causes humanity to fear the environment.

We must awaken to the possibilities of living with her, or, well, I don’t want to go there!

Posted in Abundance, Birds, Garden, Gardening, Orchids, Permaculture, Smallholding, Uncategorized, Wild Flowers, Wildlife

Biodiversity in the Garden and How to Achieve it!

Mowing the paths this morning in preparation for the visit of 19 permaculture students this Wednesday.

It should be a busy day!

The grass had grown quite high over the past few weeks as I was unable to get out to cut it because of the continual rain.

I went slow due to the amount of frogs in the grass and because it was still wet!

Planting close together allows shade and shelter to develop.

The Birch shown here, planted close-up to the Ribes, are providing shelter from the north wind, which can be cold and destructive!

You can see Kilronan Mountain in the distance.

It would be impossible for me to work 3 acres without the benefits of permaculture techniques.

I don’t do weeding except directly around vegetables!

The reality is that I simply don’t have the time for this and anyway, I find that mulching and planting takes care of the gardens more than adequately!

Small areas of lawn add interest to the gardens and allow one to look around at the plants , shrubs and flowers and to appreciate the wildlife which is absolutely integral to the health of the land and humankind on it.

This is one of the most important elements of permaculture in my view…after all there is nothing without pollinating insects!

Where would a garden be without birdsong?

Biodiversity at its best…a tiny orchid grows up alongside a young Ash sapling.

I best go back to work…nettles to pull and use as mulch!

Posted in Bealtaine Cottage, Ecology, Food, Growing Food, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, Sligo, Smallholding, Uncategorized

National Compost Awareness Week at Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Smallholding, Ireland

This is National Compost Awareness Week and I’m planting potatoes today, so, decided to break into one of the four compost heaps I started last year.

Here it is…

This compost is still quite bulky, but is perfect for potato planting and covering. It’s packed with goodness!

The method I use for composting is a simple one called Cold Composting…that means just stacking it and topping it up, no turning and eventually thatching it.

This protects it from the worst of the elements!

This is planting potatoes the permaculture way…

First I lay cardboard on the ground.

Spread compost on the top, followed by the spuds, then more compost!

Thank you for supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Posted in Abundance, Bealtaine Cottage, Earth, Ecology, Gaia, Garden, Gardening, Growing Food, Ireland, Leitrim, Organic Garden, Permaculture, polytunnel gardening, Sligo, Smallholding, Sustainable Living, Uncategorized, Woodland

Weekend Permaculture Tree Planting at Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

 

Blossom on the Plum and Cherry trees continue to develop at Bealtaine Smallholding.

As I type this blog on a calm and warm Friday evening I am amazed at the continual good weather experienced here in the west of Ireland since the middle of March. The climate is changing…that I know.

Peach blossom covers the tree in the tunnel and all the seedlings are growing well. The bottom line is that food is very easy to grow. A small warm space is all that’s needed to get seedlings up and ready for planting out.

The Fairy Dell is now covered in green growth. Primroses, Mosses, Violets and Ferns are all competing with hundreds of other species to grow. The scents emanating from the warm earth below my feet as I walk the woodland are nothing less than intoxicating!

This is the willow wreath made here in December. I will strip back the winter foliage of Larch and Ivy and re-dress the willow base for the Easter celebrations. This Willow wreath will keep for several years and can be dressed for seasonal celebrations.

The leaves on the Amelanchier tree are out and making colour in the garden.

The weekend is here and I have another five trees to plant. These are all pot grown from seeds, so can be planted at any time of the year as long as they are kept well watered!

Posted in Uncategorized

Lovage and Lettuce…Easy Permaculture Crops in Ireland

The view from my window a few moments ago.

Mist is clearing upwards from the valley floor up towards the top of Kilronan Mountain.

There’s great promise in the day.

Frost has melted into the heat of the morning as the temperature rises…

As the buds burst open and the blossom thickens, the planting grows dense and shade descends below…the earth is once more protected from the impending heat of the summer.

Leaves opening on the dogwoods.

This is a good time of the year to feed plants like these.

I make up a sludge from chicken droppings that have been left to ferment.

Lovage is growing fast at the moment and will continue to grow, reaching heights of over seven feet by midsummer!

This is a perennial herb.

The flavour is intense…spiced celery and strong!

I use it in soups and curries.

I grow most of my summer lettuce in hanging baskets for a slug-free happy growing system!

This is one recently planted out and hanging in the tunnel to get ahead before hanging outside.

This is a lovely and easy way to grow all the organic lettuce you need, from now until early October!