An Irish Cottage Garden and Homestead in Spring

The promise of peaches growing outdoors in the west of Ireland, another Bealtaine Cottage first! Blossom on these home grown trees, grown from seed, is looking good. So far, with only the first month behind us, this has been a remarkable Spring! New Bird Boxes have been added to the rich habitat, now in its fifteenth year on these three acres. The interior of the tunnel has been remodelled  to create a sanctuary in which to enjoy being in the garden, even in very wet weather! Sanctuaries are much needed in today’s world! The plastic has been washed inside and…

Food in the Midwinter Garden

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! There’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. In 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! Purple Sprouting Broccoli is giving lots of florets…delicious raw or cooked and full of goodness! Then there’s…

Subversion Without Violence

Bill Mollison once said, “I teach self-reliance, the world’s most subversive practice. I teach people how to grow their own food, which is shockingly subversive. So, yes, it’s seditious. But it’s peaceful sedition.”  Applying design to growing makes for good permaculture. As Ireland endures a wetter and wetter climate, constructing vegetable beds on the top of gravel helps to counteract the worst elements of flooding. The same design principles are applied in the polytunnel. Beds are raised and paths are lowered, allowing for good drainage on this north facing slope. This is a Nectarine tree, under-planted with Comfrey, which is then regularly…

Permaculture Gardens

The growing season has begun, with Rhubarb sending forth strong pink stems despite the storms of recent weeks. Meanwhile, down in the Fairy Wood, ferns have kept their green in the shelter of the dell. Mosses grow bright in the sunlight and ivy twists and twirls around the Goat Willow. Lots of Goat Willow has been coppiced over recent months, and although it takes a year or so to season, it makes excellent logs for the stove, giving out masses of heat for free! Further down the gardens, Pine, laurel and Great Western Cedar all grow happily together and appear…

Glimpses of Days to Come

Stormy weather has given way to a sunny evening. The Red maple has caught the glow, offering glimpses of days to come, for summer seems close at hand. The spring has lingered and time seems out of step with expectation. One day it’s flooding and the next there’s a hurricane blowing! I heard someone say to expect frost at night this week…I hope not, as I’ve planted a lot of seedlings out! The tunnel has escaped the ravages of the crazy weather and the Grapevine is coming into leaf. Herb Robert carpets the ground underneath the vine. This is a…

Looking Back at March 2012 in the Photo Album of Bealtaine Cottage Permaculture Gardens

The gardens came back to life with new leaves on the Photinia Blossom opened on the Nectarine tree in the polytunnel. Rhubarb seemed to grow in spurts overnight! Home made Blackcurrant wine was started as I began to empty the freezer. Lichens opened up in the warmth of the Spring days. Beautiful, delicate colours of Spring. The warming sun began to work it’s magic on the north facing gardens of Bealtaine Cottage. Garden benches dried out and warmed up enough to beckon the visitor to stop awhile! Sun, glorious sun…this old piece of driftwood stood up to it’s eighth winter…

Harvesting Rhubarb and Growing Peach Trees

Harvesting Rhubarb for the second time this year. The first crop was back in the middle of Spring. When that crop was picked, I manured the beds and allowed it to go on to develop a second flush. Once washed and chopped I lightly stew the rhubarb, then cool it and pack it into bags for the freezer. The Spring crop was made into delicious jam! One of my favourite winter puddings is simple stewed Rhubarb topped with toasted oats and demerara sugar, mixed with some chopped nuts…mmm! I lightly toast the oats in a big cast iron pan with…

How a Disaster was turned into a Triumph!

Disaster! Today was going to be about planting potatoes… It started off with digging the chosen patch in preparation for the sowing of the seed potatoes. Towards the end of the dig, the spade hit something rather tough… It turned out to be the water pipe which leads from the spring well on the hill above the cottage, down across my land towards the back of Bealtaine. Oh dear! (The Rhubarb this morning.) An emergency trip was made to Ballyfarnon, a village about three miles away, where there is a local hardware store. The connector was bought to mend the…