Preparedness

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Midwinter has passed, and with it, the counting down of the days towards the light.

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Visitors have now left and the cottage seems eerily quiet…somewhere in the stone walls I can hear a mouse scrambling about.

The cats are sleeping off their party food, including creamy custard from the sherry trifle, and are ensconced on top of the straw bales in the barn.

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This was my first opportunity to get out into the gardens and observe the flow of the water through the ponds after all the heavy rain of recent days.

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The weather has been very warm with heavy rain.

The temperature has stayed around and above 55F day and night.

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Despite the midwinter, there remains plenty of colour in the gardens.

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Dogwoods of red and lime green, willow and evergreens merge to make a colourful picture, especially in the winter.

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The weather experts are fore-casting possible snow and hard frost after Christmas and before New Year.

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The worst of the weather is yet to come, as so often is the case in December.

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The warm weather has seen the continued growth of Fungi, one of the beautiful aspects of decaying wood.DSC00261

I have watched the cost of food escalate this year, so am mindful that this is a good time to start preparing food-grow areas, such as raised beds.

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The small potager beds here at Bealtaine continue to give food through these darks days of winter.

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If you have not yet started a compost heap, then section off a corner of the garden for that too.

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There’s masses of leaves still on the ground, so just bagging these up will give you precious leaf mould in the growing season!

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I want to take this opportunity to say a huge “Thanks” to all of you who have posted cards, presents and donations over the past week.

I am overwhelmed by your love, kindness and generosity.

Bless you XXX

A Year at Bealtaine…part 3

Poppies in Permaculture

2013 moved from Spring to summer with ease and Poppies jostled with one another for space in the beds.

potager beds at bealtaine cottage after the rainThe potager beds were extended and two more were constructed.

angel at bealtaine cottageAquilegia and Valerian ignored the seasons and came up together, surrounding the porch with delicate shades of pink and purple.

bealtaine cottage permaculture gardensIt was a frenzy of colour!

roses on verandaThe roses made their appearance on the veranda, more abundant than ever!

dealing with slugs, the seaweed methodMy friends Terri and Lol brought me masses of seaweed from their beautiful Clifden in Connemara and it was spread all over the potager beds!

Sammy Bear and meSammy-Bear turned from a rather naughty kitten into an even naughtier cat!

Roses at Bealtaine CottageVisitors had to dodge the low-hanging flowers and…

Apples growing in the permaculture gardens of Bealtaine Cottageemerging fruit!

bird bath in pollarded Sycamore at Bealtaine CottageBird baths were sat into trees for the rather hot birds…

Car-boy of blackcurrant must for wineand Blackcurrant wine was started off in the glass carboy.

demijohn of blackcurrant wineThen transferred to a demijohn to sit out the next few months on the kitchen windowsill.

Roses at the back of Bealtaine Cottage todayThe heat of summer continued and the well ran dry!

Bealtaine Cottage signBealtaine Cottage basked in the sun and heat, as I carted water up from a spring well lower down the land.

Roses on veranda at bealtaine cottage todayRose petals fell like confetti all over the veranda…it was lovely!

bealtaine Cottage this eveningOx-Eye Daisies flourished everywhere!

Che Mousy Bear rolls over in the tunnel this morning at Bealtaine CottageSammy-Bear cooled off by rolling in the dirt path in the tunnel and getting absolutely filthy!

Cats in the shade at bealtaine cottageChe-Mousey found a cool spot in the shade of the laurel arch.

Bealtaine Cottage this morningIt was sheer abundance!

Bealtaine Cottage this morning.And the summer rolled on…

Gosh…almost there…part 4 methinks!

Blessings from Bealtaine XXX

Permaculture Midwinter Gathering

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Sprouting winter greens on the kitchen window sill, couldn’t be easier than this…the top of a swede sitting in a saucer of shallow water and left to continue growing and giving!
I shall harvest small leaves to add to stir-fries.
It actually looks quite Christmassy too!
www.bealtainecottage.com 001The seed-heads of Poppy and Honesty, now void of seeds, but perfect for winter displays.
I have harvested all the seeds and am packing them up for distribution across the world…especially for the bees, but also for their extraordinary beauty, even when dried!
www.bealtainecottage.com 003Dried Chillies, ready for packing into containers and storing in the pantry…an effortless way to store food!
www.bealtainecottage.com 012And outside, in the gardens this morning, the colours of winter deepen as the mists continue their journey from the lough.
www.bealtainecottage.com 008Nature’s baubles decorate the bare trees…
www.bealtainecottage.com 016The mild, early winter creates a feast of chocolate scented berries, for the Blackbird, on the Leycestria Formosa…early mornings can be noisy, as birds squabble over this winter feast!
www.bealtainecottage.com 004This old bread tin, bought in a Charity shop in Belfast last month, is ready to be packed with seeds, saved at Bealtaine Cottage…a perfect container for this purpose!
www.bealtainecottage.com 009Potager beds continue to hoard food in this little micro-climate area at the back of the cottage.
www.bealtainecottage.com 013Vibrant red dogwood splashes colour here and there, making winter as joyous an occasion in the gardens as any other season!
www.bealtainecottage.com 015Midwinter, on the 21st of December, is a lovely time to be with loved ones and celebrate!
This year will be easy to gather, as the 21st falls on a Saturday…
I had arranged a get-together for the Sunday, 22nd, but…The Midwinter Gathering is transferred to a closer date…all on the list have been contacted and there’s sure to be some great fun on the day!
 
Enjoy your Gathering!
 
www.bealtainecottage.com 017Blessings X
 

The Wood in the Willows

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This is when the coppicing begins…early winter as soon as the leaves have fallen.

www.bealtainecottage.com 011This Willow will make excellent logs for the stove, once properly seasoned.

www.bealtainecottage.com 009The thinner bits will be added to the kindling pile and left to dry.

www.bealtainecottage.com 004Coppicing allows for continual regeneration of woodland and is an excellent way to help young woodland get established.

www.bealtainecottage.com 036This is a selective process and involves wonderful interaction with Nature, as it is slow and steady work.

www.bealtainecottage.com 003This is the interface of the young woodland, colourful and vibrant!

www.bealtainecottage.com 044The warmth of Bealtaine Cottage on a Winter’s night, is fast becoming dependent on this most under-appreciated of all our natural resources…trees!

www.bealtainecottage.com 012As I work through small areas of the gardens, it allows me time to tidy up some of the paths…though allowing the leaves to stay where they fall, as this helps to build soil and define pathways.

www.bealtainecottage.com 014Buddha sits among the leaves…

www.bealtainecottage.com 024Meanwhile, down in the Bog Garden, little Che-Mousey enjoys the November sunshine and temperatures of 14 oC!

www.bealtainecottage.com 032Spindle continues to hang onto its berries…

www.bealtainecottage.com 048And the Potager beds, at the back of the cottage, continue to deliver food for the table…

www.bealtainecottage.com 039So far its been a beautifully mild early winter, making the season seem much shorter!

A Little Bealtaine Cottage Christmas Book…

I am into a second print run and am posting from today, Friday 15th of November!

Sad to add that all the lovely cards are now gone! (I can post seeds with the booklets!)

If any kind visitor to this blog would like to support the work of Bealtaine Cottage, then…

This is the link to the details of how to purchase  your own copy…

https://bealtainecottage.com/christmas-book/

Blessings from Bealtaine X

Companion Planting in Permaculture

Pumpkin and kaleHere are some of the combinations that have worked really well for me this summer here at Bealtaine Cottage. Pumpkins, Kale and Nasturtium…the bees love the flowers on the Nasturtium, bringing them in towards the Pumpkin flowers.

Celery and RudbeckiaAnother strange but beautiful combination…Celery and Rudbeckia.

Rudbeckia is late flowering and especially useful in a potager bed, making lots of babies that can be potted on and sold at the market next Spring.

Parsley and SedumParsley and Sedum…Sedum is the last meal of the year for the bees and will ensure adequate nutrition for their long hibernation. This is the Sedum, Autumn Spectabalis, which makes lots of babies for potting up!

Tomatoes and FeverfewTomatoes, Feverfew, Borage and flat leaf Parsley…all very happy and thriving together in this potager bed. This is the way I grow all my fruit and vegetables…to the point where no soil is exposed. It works great every year!

KaleYoung Kale with Sedum and Nasturtium. The plants are continually surrounded with shredding. I make shredding from what I cut at Bealtaine Cottage and put it back onto the earth to build up soil. I use an electric garden shredder.

Corn and kaleSweetcorn and Kale in one of the potager beds outdoors.

Lemon Balm and RocketLemon Balm and Rocket…both go great together in a salad as well!

Working in the potagerPotager beds are the focus of companion planting in extremis!

Colette in one of the orchardsThe next harvest in the fruit gardens is the from the Apple trees. Plenty this year!

Potager bedsMeanwhile, the work continues in the potager beds.

bee on courgette flowerOne of the many workers supporting Bealtaine Cottage.

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Cottage Garden Harvest

Cottage garden harvestRed onions and seeds dry in the heat of the afternoon sun at Bealtaine Cottage. cottage garden harvestThe Permaculture harvest is on it’s way.

cottage garden harvestI am saving lots of seed from the biggest, healthiest and tastiest plants!

cottage garden harvestThe rain came and has left a little water…not much, but enough to fill the tank in the loft!

Cottage Garden HarvestHerbs and seeds are coming into their own!

potato harvest at Bealtaine CottagePotatoes are appearing where none were planted…these have grown from seed dropped last year and have not been earthed up!

cottage garden harvestBlackcurrants are taking over the gardens!

Apple harvest

Apples are plumping out…

Runner beansRunner beans are seeking Heaven…

Raspberry harvestRaspberries are being eaten straight from the garden!

broad beansBroad Beans are looking monstrous!

potager beds at Bealtaine CottageAnd the Potager beds have received their second planting…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 006My brother Hugh O’Neill has made some very special Bog Oak pendants for the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy shop.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 003Hugh has carved some Rune and Ogham symbols on some of these special little pieces of Bog Oak.

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 004The wood is carved and polished by Hugh into these amazing pendants, each accompanied by glass or wooden beads…

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 005 A little piece of Ancient Ireland to wear around your neck!

Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop 002You can find these on the Bealtaine Cottage Etsy Shop…

https://www.etsy.com/listing/157732408/ancient-irish-bog-oak-pendants

 

An Angel at Sunset

Sunday morning at Bealtaine Cottage

Sun and rain has enabled wonderful growth.

Rocket stove in action The rocket stove has allowed me free tea all day…just a few twigs to boil the water.

Potager beds of abundanceThe Potager beds are filled with plants and new growth, as the seaweed is watered in by the Atlantic rains.

Car-boy of blackcurrant must for wineLast year’s Blackcurrants are being emptied from the freezer to make this year’s wine.

demijohn of blackcurrant wineThe race is on to use the remaining harvest from last year as the summer promises yet more abundance.

sunset in Ireland

The brilliance of this sunset beckoned me out to capture it in photograph and share it with you!

Sunset at Bealtaine CottageThere is a mist descending on the mountain.

Sunset through the trees at Bealtaine CottageThe bats are beginning their night patrol.

Sunset in the window of Bealtaine CottageThe day is almost over.

Angel at sunsetThe sun is setting in the west.

It is 10pm.

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

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Growing Food in Cottage Gardens

Roses at bealtaine cottageIt’s a perfect day for being in the garden, with just the right amount of sun and shade as the voluminous clouds drift overhead, sun shines full in between and there’s just a promise of rain!

roses on verandaThe roses on the veranda are hanging so low that one has to limbo-dance under them to get in and out of the cottage.

roses at bealtaine cottageIn doing this manoeuvre, one gets smothered in the most heavenly scent.

weed suppressing with cardboardMy friend, Terri brought lots of cardboard and seaweed from Connemara and I laid the cardboard down in the new orchard yesterday.

dealing with slugs, the seaweed methodThe seaweed is being spread on the Potager beds much to the disdain of the slugs…but they will move out, deeper into the gardens, where their voracious appetites will be welcomed!

bees and peas at bealtaine cottagePeas are podding…these are an Irish heritage variety and seeds will be saved!

Peas and Bees at Bealtaine CottageThe bees work hard here at Bealtaine Cottage to make sure I have harvests of abundance every year!

Young Kale in the Potager Beds at Bealtaine CottageKale and Broccoli are thriving in between herbs and flowers.

Potager bed at Bealtaine CottageGarlic stands ready to be harvested.

Young Pumpkins at Bealtaine CottageOnions are thriving and Pumpkins are finally rooting in and beginning to grow.

Roses at Bealtaine CottageCara, who now has Gloria, is delighted to report that the aforementioned hen adores slugs and eats 20-30 daily.

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Raspberries are coming into fruit.

Sweet Joe Pye at Bealtaine CottageSweet Joe Pye…food for the eye…soon to be in flower!

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Salads are continually harvested from the tunnel…mixed with much herbs and very tasty!

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Blackcurrants ripen towards a promise of Cordial, Wine, Jam and Chutney.

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Mother Earth knows no austerity!

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