Subversion Without Violence

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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.”

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 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.

DSCF0796The same design principles are applied in the polytunnel.

Beds are raised and paths are lowered, allowing for good drainage on this north facing slope.

DSCF0797This is a Nectarine tree, under-planted with Comfrey, which is then regularly chopped and dropped throughout the growing season, thus feeding the hungry fruit tree.

DSCF0798It has been planted in a central area in the tunnel so as to avoid cold drafts when doors are open.

DSCF0799This morning sees the blossom opening at just the right time, as bees are emerging from hibernation, so it’s essential to have both doors open to receive them.

DSCF0803Now this is something rarely seen, but this system works very well for me…seeds are sown together in one, big, deep, polystyrene, re-cycled box.

As seeds emerge and gain strength, I gently tease them out and pot them on, leaving space behind for the next swathe of emerging seedlings.DSCF0805Rhubarb fills out a Spring bed, with Raspberries coming along next in seasonal line!

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The Summer fruiting Rhubarb lies protected under this mound of straw…excluding light from emerging weeds.

DSCF0807The bed is mound shaped as every year sees more and more compost added.

DSCF0808And here’s the black gold…home made compost. As all of the gardens are on a north-facing slope, the tyres do not interfere with the quality of the compost, just protects the heap from the east and north weather systems…particularly cold!

DSCF0809Trees and bushes all play a part in the permaculture design, creating shelter and wind-breaks in this instance.

You can see one of the six bins used for compost toilet waste re-cycling tucked in on the right of the picture.

This makes great planting compost for trees!

DSCF0810More rain storms moving in from the west and Atlantic seaboard this morning, but the sun continues to shine!

DSCF0811As smoke curls up in wisps from the chimney, reminding me that a hot kettle awaits me indoors…tea!

DSCF0814I love the unpredictable Irish weather!

DSCF0813And the way everything greens up so quickly after the winter!

Have a good weekend everyone.

Blessings XXX

Bealtaine Cottage has built up a Permaculture Seed Bank.

If you want to see a list of available seeds, this link will take you there…

https://bealtainecottage.com/seeds-from-bealtaine-cottage/

Seeds from Bealtaine Cottage in Ireland are posted all over the world!

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Bealtaine Cottage is also on YouTube…with over 110 videos about Permaculture, planting, growing and living.

There are over 600 blogs in the archives on this site.

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As an Ark for Nature, trees and wildlife, the smallholding of Bealtaine Cottage receives no grant aid from the EU, as only farm animals, monoculture and set-aside are grant-aided!

Permaculture Cottage ~ The Thursday Photo-Diary

A Celtic emblem on my back door. The paint on the door is well scratched and there is a definite patina of life therein. Dogs and children, all attempting to enter the cottage with little patience and no time to wait! I know I have to paint it soon, because the weather demands it, but then this testament to life and laughter and fun and games will be erased…

Moving the tyres in the vegetable garden is a milestone reached this week…converting all to log, deep beds and narrow paths…easier to mulch and now that the soil has improved, I can do this. It has taken 7 years of work and patience, but it has finally paid off!

Apples continue to swell and grow and are, each one, quite perfect. These trees have never had any sprays or chemicals of any kind at all, yet continue to give perfect harvest every single year. Nature knows best!

The beautiful flowers of the remarkable Comfrey plant. This generous herb is not just a pretty face!

Look how well this tiny spider manages to camouflage itself on the Cotoneaster bush…Nature is so very clever!

Flowers have opened on the Fuschia…almost an adopted native plant here in the west of Ireland…

Permaculture Cottage Daily Diary

It’s been a really busy day!  After making the decision to re-design the vegetable garden and move the tyres…and this was several months ago, I finally got my act together to make a start on the work.

The Rhubarb in the first line of tyres had become embedded as they had not been divided for about four years or so…it was time to use brute force!

Stage one complete…next I will manure and mulch heavily while the soil is warm. Straw on the top will suppress weeds and keep the heavy rains from leaching the soil!

I’m doing this now because it is the right time and a good way of expanding the veggie garden!

Although it’s taken me most of the day, I’m glad to have got it done, finally, as there’s nothing worse than putting things off…now that can be ticked off my ‘to-do,’ list! Anyway, it’s been a lovely day for the work, though now have quadruple the freckles on my face that I started the day with!

Peas are growing well and ready for picking. It’s a task in itself just keeping the harvest up tp date on my list of work…still, that’s not a bad complaint really now, is it?

Before I came in for the evening, I picked a big bunch of flowers…Shasta Daisies, Dill and Lavender and it smells as good as it looks!

Midsummer at Bealtaine Cottage.

Today is midsummer. The day is grey with low cloud and soft rain…a steady drizzle.

Summer has magically disappeared, just like in the magicians’ trick. Yesterday was a strange day! The clouds appeared to stand still all day long…

The soft rain has settled in drops on the red Perlagonium…Geranium to you and me! Red geraniums are linked in the minds eye with the Irish cottage. The simple, stark, vivid red stands out against the whitewash of the cottage walls. So much of Irish tradition has become subsumed into the vulgarity that was the so-called Celtic Tiger. One would be heard-pressed to find a traditional cottage that is lived in and cared for…most have been allowed to fall back into the ground.

Sweet William

This is the 5th year of bloom for this lovely white flower, planted into tyres around the veranda rose, it never fails to make a show of itself!

Strawberries in Hanging Baskets…
continue to fruit and ripen and be gorged upon!

The Sun Lounger has been temporarily abandoned…waiting for the sun!

Nasturtiums, emblematic of summer…

Delightful is the season’s splendour,

winter’s rough wind has gone;

bright is every fertile wood,

a joyful peace is summer.

-“Maytime,” Irish, 9th Century.

Gunnera Manicata, Valerian, Arabica and Sedums at Bealtaine Permaculture Cottage.


Rain has helped the Gunnera on the north bank really grow tall this year. The weather is usually quite dry around this growing time and this particular Gunnera Manicata tends to remain quite small in comparison to the mother plant near the lower pond.

These Sedums were planted into this old fountain last year and have spread to fill out the space. Sedums are ideal for planting into living or green roofs.

Valerian and Arabica are beginning to make a splash of colour by the veranda. The Roses just keep on giving…growing in 2 tyres, no less! I feed them with a chicken manure tea every week.

Valerian and Arabica make a good contrast when grown together and as they are perennials, are well able to take care of themselves!

Valerian growing along the west gable wall of the cottage today.

Hothouse Flowers in a Permaculture Environment. Evening @ Bealtaine Cottage

Laburnum and Ferns, hastily picked, make a casual, summer bouquet for the sitting room window of the cottage. I never buy flowers and don’t support the polluting, hothouse methods involved in growing shop bought arrangements. The seasonal look is more in keeping with caring for the environment as well as being much more stylish.

The rain has passed over for the day as the evening sweeps in from the East. Hoping for a lot more if the wells are going to resume full flow! I still haven’t moved the logs as the rain has continued unabated for most of the day. Added to this is the task of clearing out the barn in order to stack the logs, which is pending…ahem!

Jack has been having a ripping time, literally…nothing is safe around him! I got him some massive bones from the butcher yesterday and he has been crunching and chewing away to his heart’s content! I can’t quite get over just how intelligent he is! I would advise anyone thinking of getting a pet to visit their local animal sanctuary first…you might be as lucky as myself and come away with a gem like Jack!

Looking out the window onto the veranda is uplifting when the roses are in bloom. I planted a grapevine further along, into a couple of tyres and have big expectations for equally bountiful harvests of grapes!

Extreme Weather in Ireland…AGAIN! Permaculture @ Bealtaine Cottage.

Bealtaine Cottage May 2012 010The weather has been extremely dry over recent weeks.

Bush fires are raging in counties Donegal and Mayo as I write.

There can be no more wavering on the issue of climate change…it is real!

May 2011 Bealtaine Cottage 010There are very low levels of water in my spring well so I have to ration water use in the cottage.

Rain is promised for the middle to end of the week…bring it on!

Colours of the Copper Beech trees are deepening along the bank at the back of the cottage.

Planting deciduous trees like these will ensure that soil is not eroded and the land is protected from monsoon type rains which are becoming more frequent here in Ireland.

May 2011 Bealtaine 013Ireland, once known for its soft rain…

There is a distinct canopy emerging at Bealtaine, a forest garden is taking shape, and with it a magical landscape.

I see permaculture more and more as the only real solution to the massive environmental devastation that is happening across the globe.

The Earth needs to be re-forested…fast!

There are 60 fire engines out across N.Ireland this evening fighting wild fires on the hills.

Some homes in Donegal have already been evacuated.

May 2011 Bealtaine 006It is difficult to come to terms with this freakish weather on May 1…except that extreme weather in Ireland is no longer freakish and more and more the norm., Worrying!