February in the Goddess Permaculture Gardens of Bealtaine Cottage, Ireland.

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Work has continued unabated all this week. I managed to get a load of cardboard to begin mulching the problem bed over by the Lughnasadh Garden.

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Here I have laid the aboard and mulched with chipping from the garden shredder and laid another layer of cardboard.

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The progress is fairly rapid, with the exception that all the chipping come from the gardens, so pruning and shredding has to happen in conjunction with the mulching…and that takes quite some time!

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These are the magnificent red dogwoods that I am pruning at the moment…providing lots of mulch.

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The shredder is electric, second hand and the cheapest one on the market. It serves me well, but capacity is limited!

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The Robin keeps me and Jack company as I work.

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All the Laurel pruned last week is now laid as weed-suppressant mulch, as well as small mammal habitat. Goddess permaculture is about ALL LIFE!

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This week has been both cold and wet, so the occasional sunshine is worth photographing…I keep my camera with me as much as possible.

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The days are getting longer, with dark drawing down around 5.30pm.

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The sap is rising in the plants, developing a depth of lovely colour!

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Work in the tunnel continues, as I move from task to task in order to remain enthused with energy…small results are energising!

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I walked down through the gardens this morning and took these photographs.

IMG_1541It was delightful to see the first catkins on the willow.

IMG_1547IMG_1552Heavy rain fell last night, so the pond was gushing!

IMG_1554IMG_1556IMG_1557Back up to the cottage to write this blog and upload some of the photographs. I have heaps more that I may put on a slideshow on YouTube.

Thank you for your continuing support…I will continue to happily share freely.

Blessings X Colette

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

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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

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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!

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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:

https://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…

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

Country Cottage Journal…Beginning the Year in the Garden

Propagator at Bealtaine Cottage

Now is the time to sort out seeds and get sowing underway. January passes very quickly…we’re already halfway through!

First of all, ensure all trays and pots used for sowing are scrupulously clean.

No need to use chemicals for this, as soapy water, clean rinsing water and air-drying will ensure a perfect result.

I have used this method for the past eleven years and it has never failed.

Always use a good compost if you cannot make your own.

The John Innes recipe is perfect, but can be difficult to get it all together…

2 parts sterilized loam
1 part moss peat alternative 
1 part sharp sand

The loam and peat is put through in 3/8 in (9mm) sieve.

To each 36 L  add:

1-2 oz (42gm) superphosphate
1/2 oz Potassium nitrate
4-6 oz (21gm) ground limestone

I prefer to purchase sowing compost, as one small sack is usually enough, keeping home-made compost for the potting on process.

Once seeds are sorted and new ones added to the stock, it’s time to get sowing.

Success is all as the season can be delayed!

At this time I also clean the tunnel plastic to ensure maximum light penetration.

Daylight is now increasing by over a minute a day!

A good tidy up of the garden begins around this time, especially in the west of Ireland as Spring is about a month earlier in the gardening calendar.

This is measured on charts from Wisley in the SE of England and is in line with the Cornwall temperatures, due to the effect of the Gulf Stream.

Once the first signs of Spring appear, it is as though a magic wand has been cast over the landscape, with each day being a new day of discovery.

Sometimes there happens a snowfall that appears to set everything back, but in the absence of a deep and lingering freeze, it is very temporary indeed!

Pruning fruit trees and trees in general can be done before the sap starts to rise.

However, and this is from my own experience, Birch trees are known to rise sap very early on in the year, so do not cut as this can lead to the tree bleeding to death!

I encountered this much to my own grief…

In short, just because it’s cold and wintry at present, be aware that Nature’s clock is ticking and, if like me, you garden alone, there’s simply not enough hours in the day! Happy gardening!

Please note there are seeds available from Bealtaine Cottage…here’s the link:

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

Many are perfect food providers for Bees…remember the Bees in your garden planning this year!

Follow Your Bliss and the Universe Will Open Doors

Looking out on a May evening...

Looking out on a May evening…

Making a decision is always the most difficult part of moving forward.

DSCF1379In deciding, one simply puts it out there, for the Universe to pick up.

DSCF1382That is what I have done here at Bealtaine Cottage…the next move comes from that energy.

Sammy-Bear takes a seat...

Sammy-Bear takes a seat…

The sale may, or may not happen…but the planting of trees will move forward.

The feeding system I have devised and constructed for the hens...an old pipe and tin, firmly secured on the wall of the hen-house!

The feeding system I have devised and constructed for the hens…an old pipe and tin, firmly secured on the wall of the hen-house!

I have done what was asked of me and agreed to the sacrifice.

What happens next is synchronicity and the will of Divine Energy…The Forest of Bealtaine will happen in the same magical way as Eden emerged here at Bealtaine Cottage.

Food is poured in to the top of the pipe and emerges from the feeder at the bottom as the hen peck!

Food is poured in to the top of the pipe and emerges from the feeder at the bottom as the hen peck!

As my friend, Rosie, on Twitter, pointed out to me this morning…“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” -Joseph Campbell

DSCF1394Bealtaine has begun here in the west of Ireland.

Down the steps into the may gardens

Down the steps into the may gardens

Planting is under way of crops and even a few more trees, though mostly the trees are in pots awaiting a forest!

Sedge in bloom to the left of the steps.

Sedge in bloom to the left of the steps.

Walking around the gardens this morning I snapped these pictures…

Through the Fairy Wood...

Through the Fairy Wood…

 

 

Foxglove in Spurge on the woodland floor...

Foxglove in Spurge on the woodland floor…


Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage

Fairy Wood at Bealtaine Cottage

Sedge in the Fairy Wood

Sedge in the Fairy Wood

Stopping by the Silt-pond

Stopping by the Silt-pond

Willow in the Bog Garden

Willow in the Bog Garden

Monet in Gaia’s Garden

Coppiced wood makes one neat pile to be used in the wood stove next winter.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe small logs burn very well in the wood stove and give tremendous heat!

The building of the next pile is under-way.

www.bealtainecottage.comMuch of today has been spent cutting back the growth on the stream that carries the water into the ponds.

Che-Mousey-Bear has stayed in the Bog Garden with me as I worked, keeping me entertained… www.bealtainecottage.comas you can see!

www.bealtainecottage.comThe lower pond looked like a Monet painting…

www.bealtainecottage.comin the soft afternoon light after the storm.

www.bealtainecottage.comEthereal…

www.bealtainecottage.comAs I worked silently along the banks of the stream, frogs croaked, mating, swimming and spawning in both ponds.

www.bealtainecottage.comThe spawn was visible…

www.bealtainecottage.comand floated in big chunks across the water and weeds.

www.bealtainecottage.comWillow and Dogwood was pruned back and cuttings inserted along the stream banks,

www.bealtainecottage.comwhere they will root and keep the earth from being eroded by the ever-increasing rain…this is building resilience and adapting to Climate Change!

www.bealtainecottage.comBirdsong filled the gardens all afternoon and Coltsfoot made an early show of yellow flowers in the gravel…

www.bealtainecottage.comnear the lower pond.

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.

Heartfelt thanks for supporting Bealtaine Cottage

A Day in Early Spring

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Juicing is a great way to ensure one has the maximum of vitamins and minerals and this is something I do every day.
It’s also a reason to keep greens growing all the year around, as even small bits can be added to the juicer and vital vitamins extracted.
I’ve used some small bits of Kale that have escaped the frost and storms.
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There is no waste in Permaculture, just compost and more vegetables growing! Compost is the food needed to grow food!
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Slowly, slowly the Willow is cut and stacked…time is running out as the buds thicken! Baskets, Fedges and Obelisks are standing here!
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These beds are fairly sheltered and continue to produce Kale, which is processed in the juicer.
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Fine Willow used in basket weaving waiting to be harvested. The gardens look colourful all the way through Winter, as the stems of Willow, Dogwood, Ash and Birch are revealed.
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So much rain has fallen here in Ireland this Winter and now, in the early days of Spring, the flooding has begun to dominate the landscape. Here at Bealtaine cottage I spent much time in the early days digging out drains and water channels, as well as keeping them maintained over the past ten years…and it has paid off, as you can see from the lower pond. The water runs free, out into the streams and rivers that take it to the Atlantic Ocean. 
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In sheltered areas all over the gardens the ferns have remained green, though a little bit droopy. The winter was mild and warm, with plenty of rain!
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This is the beginning of the wood pile for next winter. It comprises of coppiced logs of Birch, Ash and Hazel. The twiggy bits are thrown into the back of the pile as they make wonderful kindling! These logs may be small, but are perfect for a small wood-burning stove!
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I’ve been stocking up on straw recently, as this makes great mulch around the garden helping to suppress weeds and line paths.
www.bealtainecottage.comGreen Beech hold their leaves right through Winter, adding even more colour and shelter to the gardens! 
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And look who’s keeping an eye on me as I type…my loyal Jack!

A New Era at Bealtaine Cottage

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Smoke rises into a clear blue January sky.

The birds are singing like it’s Spring and black ice covers the road by the gate. www.bealtainecottage.com 012My friend Michael is here this morning to finally remove the toilet and install my compost loo.

The septic tank is, from today, a grey water tank!

www.bealtainecottage.com 008I have been using the compost system for the past year, keeping the flush toilet for visitors, but this is the time to finally say goodbye to a system that no longer makes any sense!

www.bealtainecottage.com 019Those who visit, or stay at Bealtaine Cottage, will experience a neat loo, that is both efficient and hygienic, adding to the environment rather than being a source of pollution.

I shall write a blog and post pics of the new loo in a few days time…

www.bealtainecottage.com 006Meanwhile, there are signs of life all the way through the permaculture gardens, with Daffodils pushing up through the more sheltered earth under the Beech trees.

www.bealtainecottage.com 027The sun is not yet high enough on the horizon to reach the paths in the Bog Garden, many of which will remain frozen for weeks to come.

www.bealtainecottage.com 026In the sheltered parts of the woodland, Ferns remain green and quite lush.

Many keep their life until new fronds unfurl in late Spring.

www.bealtainecottage.com 005The Willow continues to be cut, tied and stacked in the barn.

www.bealtainecottage.com 029Many of the Fedges will need to be pruned before Spring and vigorous new growth that follows.

This Fedge borders the stream that runs from the Spring Well.

www.bealtainecottage.com 038Many of the Bird Boxes around the gardens will need to be water-proofed with whatever I have to hand…usually a coat or two of gloss paint.

This does not seep into the wood and so does not harm nestlings in the box.

                                  Many thanks for the continuing support for the work of this Bealtaine Cottage  website.

Blessings

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

Tar Sands Destruction

Canada September 2012

Canada is a beautiful country, with stunning scenery and some of the most spectacular trees I have ever had the pleasure to see.

I visited Canada last September…here I am in Ontario, not far from North Bay.

Canada is, at present, extracting oil from Tar Sands, oil that will be piped into the US via the Keystone XL Pipeline.

It breaks my heart to think that any part of this extraordinarily beautiful country should be sacrificed to the greed of those who (would happily) see Mother Earth so destroyed.

I have posted a link to some basic info about this…

http://ran.org/what-are-tar-sands

Front door at Bealtaine CottageToday has been disturbingly hot.

I don’t tolerate this extreme of heat well, so most of my chores were done this morning, very early and this evening as the day cools into night.

Potager beds at Bealtaine CottageAll that we do on this small, sacred, little planet is all connected, all the good and all the bad.

Rambling Roses at Bealtaine CottageAs a gardener and tender of the Earth, I can state quite categorically, that the weather systems are more extreme and unpredictable.

Raised Potager bedsCause and effect…we are having an effect for sure!

The Lodge at Bealtaine CottageAs I boil the kettle on the rocket stove, fired with dried willow left over from basket making, I remember Canada.

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The Rocket stove…