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

Black Bees, Compost and Rocket Stoves

Blue table on veranda at bealtaine cottageNasturtiums, Lobelia, Petunia, Sweet William, Perlagonium, Valerian and Night Scented Stock are jostling for space near the back door.

Roses lead the way to the new orchardAbundance reigns supreme in the gardens, as seen here in these lovely old-fashioned roses that lead the way up to the new orchard.

Bee with a black bumBees are in a frenzy over the Cotoneaster.

This is a strange bee with a black bottom half.

Black beeThe black bit appears shiny.

strange beeDo you have any idea what kind of bee this is?

cotoneaster in full bloom at Bealtaine CottageAll this buzzing guarantees lots of food for the birds over winter!

Bee on cotoneaster at Bealtaine CottageAnother lovely bee working hard here at Bealtaine Cottage this evening.

Cotoneaster and Dog daisiesThe evening is very still and warm…perfect for all the insects that work in the gardens.

Raised Potager Beds WorkshopLots of stone and wood piled up and ready for the workshop tomorrow.

These beds are very abundant and productive, considering the shallow depth and intensive planting…the weather is promised good for tomorrow!

Lysimachia Punctata in full bloom todayLysimachia Punctata is in full bloom.

This cable table has sat in the garden for eight years…great garden furniture for free!

Redcurrants today at Bealtaine cottageThe Redcurrants are almost ready to harvest.

Rose arch today at Bealtaine CottageThis is the new rose arch…first year and doing well.

Blackcurrants almost ready for pickingThe Blackcurrants are ripening and will be ready for harvesting very soon.

Tunnel at Bealtaine Cottage todaySunflowers and lots of seeds getting ready for harvesting in the tunnel in these Potager raised beds.

compost heaps todayAs I harvest the compost started last summer, a new compost heap is started.

Friday evening at bealtaineFriday evening at Bealtaine…the rocket stove is boiling the kettle for another pot of tea…could it get any better?

rocket stoveI wonder what the equivalent saving on electricity this little contraption affords?

Would this be equal to a few solar panels?

free tea Just a small matter of washing the cups…have a great weekend everyone!

May Morning in Ireland

Porch door at Bealtaine Cottage

A May morning at Bealtaine Cottage.

Looking through the front door, the sky is grey, but the trees are all greening up!

Back door at Bealtaine Cottage

The roses on the veranda are ready to burst into bloom quite soon!

Arabica floods the stone walls of the Angel planter and Poppies are still bulbous eggs waiting to open near the Buddleia.

Colour is just waiting to spring forth!

Pink tulips at Bealtaine Cottage

These are the Tulips this morning at the back of the cottage under one of the Beech trees.

The early morning rain sits atop the still closed petals.

Laneway at Bealtaine Cottage

The drive-way up to the cottage is filling out with greens, reds and whites as the trees take on their new mantles of summer cover.

Parsley growing at Bealtaine Cottage beside old iron kettle

Parsley and peas growing in one of the raised Potager beds at the back of the cottage this morning.

You can see the shreddings and seaweed!

Metal table and chairs at Bealtaine Cottage

I recently moved the garden table and chairs to this sheltered little spot near one of the Potager raised beds…near enough to the back door to nip out with my tea!

Honesty under the arch at Bealtaine Cottage

Lots of Honesty, (Lunaria), in bloom this morning under the shelter of the Laurel arch.

Crocosmia, Columbine and Geranium are growing up alongside.

flowers in a pot at Bealtaine Cottage

These little rockery flowers have blossomed in this earth pot for years now.

They sit atop an old iron fireplace filled with shamrock and watched over by Buddha.

Abundant Harvest at Bealtaine Cottage…seeing is believing!

Despite the problems with weather and lack of sunshine, this  is turning out to be one of the best years on record for the harvest at Bealtaine Cottage.

Continual adaptation to climate change is paying off, as the Potager Beds have excelled themselves in little over ten weeks since construction and planting.

Designed and built in the truly vernacular style, using stone sourced on site, these beds have been a blessing in production and style.

Blessed with continual warmth and shelter at the back of the cottage, the plants have excelled themselves, doing better than those planted in the tunnel!

Bees and, blessed be, Butterflies are all in abundance too, a sight to behold!

The Apple harvest is the best ever, as these trees have brought apples to my table every year since planting.

I have been out this morning and made a video for you to see for yourselves…it is amazing.

Oh, and as a joyous footnote…the Bats are back at Bealtaine Cottage…small and few, I suspect a new colony, but it is a stunning sight to watch at dusk!

Today’s video…just click on the link!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cWLrpb6_9Wc

Eggs For Swap and other interesting ideas!

Despite the worst of the weather over the past two months, the raised beds planted out about eight weeks ago are producing abundantly!

Continual rain has not deterred production.

Even the grey skies have not stopped or slowed down growth…could this be anything to do with the stones used in constructing the beds and the white gravel which reflects whatever light there may be?

It certainly is a most unusual micro-climate that has been made here in the west of Ireland.

The beds themselves sit atop gravel, so are really well-drained.

They are lined along the bottom with sheep’s wool, which deters slugs and feeds the plants.

The area is well sheltered and south facing.

No harsh winds manage to invade this micro-climate area as the surrounding trees and bushes offer maximum protection.

Today’s video takes you around what is growing in the two beds.

You can click on the link at the bottom of this blog to access the video on YouTube!

I have plans to build another raised bed in this same area very soon…perhaps this week.

On another note entirely, I went along to the Boot-Sale in Carrick this morning and bought a fine addition to the kitchen, as you can see above, for a mere 20 euros!

Recycling at it’s best!

I am planning to get some hens this week and my dear friends Anne and Simon have offered me a fine cockerel to chaperone the girls.

I am making a sign to hang at the end of the lane…it will read, “Eggs For Swap” as swapping is much more beneficial than money!

I’m thinking, perhaps a bag of logs for some deliciously fresh eggs…or whatever is offered within reason…anyway, it should be much more fun than boring old money!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmg9_FJspwE

Constructing Raised Beds in Permaculture Gardens

Do you believe in Fairies?

There are times when the only way I have of explaining the growth of everything  here at the permaculture smallholding that is Bealtaine Cottage, is by citing the Fairies as the little workers that sally forth at night, as the sun descends and their Fairy Forts allow them exit…and here’s what I mean…

This bed is less than 3 weeks old, built and planted out on the same weekend…now look at the growth!

Well, it must have been the Fairies, because it wasn’t the chemical companies that most people use to grow food…

Mirrored cottage of Bealtaine Permaculture CottageTalking of which, I was in Lidyl this morning and they had some lovely Rose Bushes for sale.

I did what I always do, I read the label…and oh, the utter disappointment!

It read that the Rose was licensed and one could not grow cuttings from it!

Imagine?

Not grow cuttings?

That’s like telling me not to drink the Spring water from the well, or breathe the clean air on the mountain!

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So, …these are the raised potager beds in the Magical Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage…

Cardboard straight onto the gravel to stop weeds coming through!

And now to show you a little secret…here’s what I use to line the raised beds, sheep’s wool.

It’s referred to as “shoddy,” which is the parts of the fleece of little or no use for spinning.

It is very rich in plant food and even a liquid feed can be made from it.

It will rot down nicely and the roots of plants can bury themselves into the feast of food that is trapped therein! Fairies are fond of beauty and loathe straight lines…none here!

Just one more little bit of information on this beautiful Sunday in the west of Ireland…

You may be wondering why on earth there are pots sitting on the top of the raised beds…well that’s another brainstorm I had…

Potager bed at Bealtaine CottageCut the bottoms out of pots and plant that on the raised bed, with a plant inserted, so the roots have even more depth!

www.bealtainecottage.com 003Have a lovely day and watch out for the Fairies! Earth Spirits are at work everywhere!

My special thanks and blessings to:

Linda Vassar

John O’Donoghue

Lynne Gruber

and Frederique Llensa

for your wonderful support!

 Please consider supporting Bealtaine Cottage

Growing Fruit and Vegetables the Permaculture Way

Apples

Apples today in the gardens at Bealtaine.

No chemicals.

Lots of mulching.

Sheeps wool mulched around base.

Regular feeds of manure tea.

Maximum biodiversity planted around the trees.

Trees well spread out.

Hedges and shrubs to protect from the wind.

In other words, intelligent planting, thought-out and planned along  permaculture lines…

Planning Permaculture

Just a few shots of empathy for and with Nature, alongside good, basic common-sense, realising that Nature is poly-cultural and loathes monoculture in any form, so, be diverse!

Plant for maximum biodiversity, with pockets of plants everywhere in your garden…and don’t try to dominate!

Us humans seem to have an innate desire to dominate Nature, an idea supported by so many of the world religions!

Use Local Resources

Raised beds can be made from most materials.

Local is best.

I continue to use some tyres in my gardens, but am replacing them gradually with stone, local stone, as and when I uncover it or come across it.

Wood is good and sustainable.

All my compost heaps are made using old doors, up-cycled to a new use!

Look at what you have as a local and preferably free resource and start using it!

No-Dig

By far the easiest and best way of growing I have ever encountered…this is my template for a great garden.

These are the potatoes this morning, growing mightily on a no-dig potato bed.

Have a look at previous blogs to see how this was started…

Collect and Save Seed!

Fennel in the tunnel this morning, flowering and soon to seed.

Save seed…any seeds and grow them on and share them out and value this above all else that you do, for without seed we have nothing!

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

Visitors to Bealtaine Cottage are welcomed free.

Donations are always welcome.

Thank you!

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