Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘abundance’

Autumn time, abundance, independence and saving seeds.

In Gardening, sustainable living on August 29, 2012 at 3:00 pm

 

 

As Autumn makes it’s presence felt we await the ripening of Mother Nature’s offerings. A little more sunshine is needed to sweeten and ripen these Blackberries in the hedgerow. The shorter mornings and darker evenings seem to have descended quickly from the long days of the Summer that was barely evident. Maybe an Indian Summer is around the corner!!

In the garden there is an abundance of produce right now. The freezers are filled with fruits and vegetables which will be used to feed us and make preserves through the Winter. Onions and Garlic are drying in the polytunnel. I feel priviliged to have land that we use to produce so much of our food. Last week I read that Ireland imported 324million euros worth of fruit and veg from Britain last year. Sad that a country which proclaims independence is so dependent on imports from other countries to feed it’s people.  True independence, in my opinion, is only plausible when a country can sustain it’s own food supply. With rising fuel prices affecting the price of groceries worldwide it would seem wise for us to grow, grow, grow.

 

Regardless of weather there is so much that grows well in Ireland. We had fantastic crops this year from berried fruits, alliums did great and beans were incredibly productive. These beans above are being left to produce seed for next year. So easy, just leave some large pods at the end of the season, don’t be too quick to tidy up, and in a few weeks they will have dried out and be ready for harvesting. Remove from pods and store in a dry place and you have next years crop ready to be germinated . With 10 companies now controlling up to 70% of the world’s seed supply I think seed saving is a sensible step to take.

“To see things in the seed, that is genius.–Lao Tzu

Tomatoes are another crop from which seeds can be easily saved. Just soak the seeds to wash off the jelly like coating then dry them out on a piece of kitchen paper and viola! you have next years seeds. Do save from plants of organic origin.

“Abundance is not something we acquire, it is something we tune into.–Wayne Dyer

I shall be away from here for awhile as I am having a break from blogging and visiting and commenting on other people’s blogs. Happy Autumn days to you all. I will be back in the not too distant future. Bridget xx.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lughnasa.

In Garden, sustainable living on July 31, 2012 at 9:38 am

As we head into August we remember the festival of Lughnasa, one of the great Celtic cross quarter festivals. A time to harvest the offerings from the land and hedgerows. A time to reap the rewards of our work in the garden. A time of abundance, of preserving the bounty and stocking up our larders for the coming Winter.

For as sure as night follows day the seasons are changing too. The wheel of the year continues…the cycle must be completed. Already some plants are starting to show Autumn hues…

 

 while others are still full of colour and vibrancy. But very soon they too will move onto the next phase of their yearly cycle. As all life on this planet must… 

Here in Ireland we awoke this morning to hear of the death of Meave Binchy, a wonderful author and journalist. At just 72 it seems she has been taken too early, but obviously it was her time. Meave was an amazing individual who despite having massive success, she sold 42 million books worldwide, remained a kind and warm hearted person. Always appreciative of her fans she treated each and every one as a cherished friend. She could teach us all a thing or two.  

Here in Arigna we are revelling in the abundance of produce from the garden. The Onions in the bed above will soon be ready for harvesting, hung in braids in the shed for use throughout the Autumn and Winter. The flowers are self seeders from the compost that was dug in here last Spring. I must remember to pull the Poppies out before they spread their multitude of seeds everywhere. There are lots of berries to be harvested this year. This is ongoing as they are ripening slowly  because of lack of sunshine. That makes it easier in a way as there is less urgency about the harvesting. Blackcurrants and Gooseberries have given great harvests. I freeze them in 1 kilo bags which is ideal for making small batches of jam and chutney. This produce, as well as being for our own use, forms part of our income as I sell it at local markets throughout the year. Something to keep me busy during the long dark days of the Winter.

I seem to be focused on the changing seasons this morning. The dull grey, windy day that it is is not helping the mood. What has happened to our Summers? I’m off now to light the stove and warm up the house. No berry picking today as I just can’t bear that wind which is surely going to bring us more rain later.

The Longest Day.

In Ireland, nature, sustainable living on June 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

Summer Solstice is upon us once again. The high point of the Summer when everything in Nature is lush and abundant. This year the weather has been pretty good since March so it seems like we have had Summer for a long time already. We have also had lots of rain which combined with the warmth has enabled rapid growth of everything.

Now is a good time to propogate shrubs from cuttings. There’s always a place for new plants to be slotted in. Otherwise the abundance of the season can be shared with friends. A free plant always brings a smile to someones face.

A nice bunch of flowers is another welcome gift. This arrangement was collected from the garden yesterday morning. Given to a friend who is retiring from work,  it brought a beaming smile of appreciation. The flowers were placed in a glass which I then covered with this organza bag which was saved from I gift I had recieved. I always save nice packagings, ribbons and gift bags to be reused and recycled.

For me Foxgloves are the flower of Summer Solstice. They self seed everywhere here and most of them are left to reach maturity. It would be an insult to remove these gifts from Mother Nature. Far nicer than anything bought at the garden centre with the added bonus of no air miles attached. No patent attached here!

In the vegetable garden there is lots of produce. We are harvesting Lettuce, Spring Onions, Beetroot, Peas, Broad Beans and Mangetous right now. The Potatoes are just coming into flower. They will be ready for harvesting about 2 weeks after flowering. Of course leaving them longer gives bigger Potatoes but thats not likely to happen. These are Ballydoon which were planted on St. Patrick’s Day.

Summer Solstice is the time when bonfires are lit to celebrate the season here in north-west Ireland. This tradition which has been going on since Pagan times has died out in other parts of the country but alive and well in this area. It is now called St. John’s Night, the celebration of the birth of John the Baptist. Like many other Pagan celebrations it was masked by Christians as the celebration of a saint’s day.

To conclude I wish you all health, happiness and abundance at this special time of the Summer Solstice.  Happy Days!

Bridget x

After the storm.

In flowers, Garden, Ireland, sustainable living on June 9, 2012 at 9:51 am

At last the wind and rain have stopped. For two days we have had strong winds blowing in from the west accompanied by non stop rain. Apparently there has been a month’s rain in the last two days, that’s about 4 inches. The rivers, ditches and lakes are full to capacity and the waterfall, which is usually a Winter feature, is back on the mountain.

 In the garden the worst fatality was the Angelica. It had put on tremendous growth and was standing, rather magnificiently, at about 6 feet tall. It is however battered to the ground this morning. It will,  I’m sure,  rise again.

By the garden gate the Honeysuckle is coming into flower. I’m so glad this was’nt damaged as it has grown well. The scent is lovely and I really like the flowers. I grew this from a cutting.

Now is a very good time to start taking soft wood cuttings.Was watching Gardener’s World last night on the BBC, Carol Klien gave a good tutorial on how to do this. Carol is brill, I love her easy relaxed way of presenting and teaching.

In the micro-climate of the polytunnel all is well. Growth is rapid right now and everything is lush. Produce is in abundance, right now we are harvesting Lettuce, Spring Onions, Beetroot, Herbs and Spinach. Spinach goes to seed quickly but I sow some new every few weeks. There’s nothing to beat your own fresh Spinach. We also grow Swiss Chard which lasts a year before going to seed but proper Spinach is my fave. I love Nasturtiums in the polytunnel. They are of course edible, but they also attract beneficial insects which prey on nasties like greenfly.

These Nicotiana have come into flower in the last few days. Cosied up in a pot in the closed polytunnel, it was’nt opened for 3 days, has encouraged them to bloom. Thanks, whoever invented polytunnels. It certainly makes life easier, at 600 ft above sea level here, it would be impossible to grow fragile things without them.

Every available receptacle has been used to capture rainwater. The way our weather is changing, who knows, we could be back to drought conditions again next week!

Happy gardening!

The Light Returns…Imbolc.

In Garden, Ireland on February 1, 2012 at 12:09 am

Spring is here!  Imbolc, one of the cornerstones of the Celtic calendar, marks the start of the farming year. Imbolc is a Gaelic word meaning “in the belly”, this indicates the readiness of the Earth “to give birth”. to life again in the Springtime. We are enlivened by the lenghtening days and the stirrings in the land. The welcome return of the life giving forces. It is a time to come out of our Winter hibernation. Leave behind the darkness and our Winter contemplations. The light returns!

The abundance of Summer is not far off. Gardeners are powerless to resist the urge to till the land and plant seeds. These are rituals which are rooted in the ancient ways. Revel in them.

To the Romans this time of year, halfway between the Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox was known as Lupercalia. It was a celebration of Spring and also partly in honour of Lupa, the she-wolf who suckled Romolus and Remus, the founders of Rome. The focal point of the festival was the Lupercal, the cave in which this nurturing took place. William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caeser begins during Lupercalia.

Here in Ireland February 1st is also the feast of St. Brigid. Brigid was the daughter of a pagan chieftain and the patron saint of cattle and dairy. Cows in her care were said to produce more milk than all others. Brigid had a very generous nature and much to her Father’s displeasure she gave most of the produce away. She is also reputed to have been the best mead and ale maker in Ireland. She is thought to have converted to Christianity and used rushes to make small crosses which carry her name to this day. St. Brigid’s crosses are thought to protect the house from fire. A new one is usually made each year. The tradition of making the crosses is still very much alive and most children in primary schools will make them at this time.

Brigid was also known as the Keeper of the Sacred Flame, signifying once again the return of light, the return of the sun,  hence the practice of lighting candles around this time. Of course when Christianity came the old Pagans festivals were outlawed and given new focus in Church activities. Imbolc became Candlemas. However in recent years people are once again returning to their roots and giving new life to these ancient festival times. Long may it continue!

Happy Imbolc, St. Bridgid’s Day or Candlemas. The light returns!

Autumn Equinox @ Prospect Cottage.

In Animals, arigna, Foraging., Gardening on September 20, 2011 at 10:35 am

The changing colours of Autumn are upon us, much as we may not like it, changes are afoot. Human beings do not much like change, we like other inhabitants on this Planet are creatures of habit. Although when change is forced upon us we are quick to adapt. At this time the Autumn Equinox is upon us, hard to believe it’s 3 months since Summer Solstice. It’s said time flies when you’re having fun, well time is certainly flying!

The last of the wild berries can be harvested on nice dry days. All sorts of Fungi are to be found in woodland and pasture. Nature’s abundance is still there for the picking. Still to come are the almost ripe Hazlenuts of which there are lots this year. Sloes, which are best after the first frost has softened them. Elderberries will be fully ripe soon too. They are great for jams, chutneys, cordials and wine. A tincture can be made from them which is said to be a wonderful restorative and immune system enhancer.

The animals also benefit for the abundance of the season. Daphne loves apples, not too many together though as they can cause bloat. Peelings left over from making jams and crumbles are always a welcome treat. Last week I collected a big box of windfalls from our neighbour’s orchard. They will provide treats for a few weeks.

The Goats too are fond of Apples. They also watch for falling leaves at this time of year and really enjoy them. Soon their bodies will be preparing for Winter by growing their Winter coats.

For us at this time when day and night are equal we must also adjust our minds to the coming of Winter. Enjoy the first frosts and the sunny days they will surely bring. Gather the last offerings from Nature. The larder is filled with the abundance of Summer, all is well. Who knows, we may be snowed in again this year! Soon we will head to Tipperary for the day and bring back a trailer load of hay and straw to bed and feed the animals over Winter.

May you all enjoy this time of adjustment. Enjoy the longer nights, make it a time for enjoying each other’s company. The frantic activity of the garden is now winding down. Think of some craft projects to work on over the Winter. Walk in the woods and enjoy the Trees as they too make their seasonal changes. Happy Equinox to All!

Abundance.

In Cooking, Foraging., Gardening, sustainable living on September 15, 2011 at 10:53 am

Every year at this time we have a ritual of going to pick Black Plums at our former neighbour’s place. Don’t know the variety of these Plums but they are a cooking variety which the owners brought from their native Germany. In Germany they are known as a Plum for using in Plum Cake.

As yesterday was a nice dry day it was designated the Plum picking day. Other neighbours came along too so it evolved into a little social event. The recent wind had broken some branches which had to be cut out. As these were from the crown of the tree they were laden with lovely ripe fruit. It made the picking easier and quicker, not that we were in any rush!

This lovely big basket of Plums would grace any harvest celebration table. Some were to be used for a big Plum Crumble last night.

In less than an hour this box was full to the brim with Plums. I will destone them and freeze for use in jams, chutneys and crumbles later in the year when the days are shorter and more time is spent indoors. One kilo will be kept to make jam for immediate use. They are high in pectin, very similar to Damsons, so the jam sets easily. I will include the recipe I use for the jam.

Damson or Black Plum Jam.

1kg Damsons       1kg sugar     three quarter pint of water

Method:  Wash fruit, slit and remove stones. I like to have a kilo of fruit after removing stones so allow a few more grams to allow for weight of stones. Place them in a preserving pan with the water. Simmer until fruit is soft. Add sugar and slowly bring to the boil, boil until a set is reached. Stir frequently to avoid burning.  The set will come fairly quickly as the fruits are high in pectin. Pour into heated sterilised jars and seal immediately.

As today is again dry I’m now off to pick Blackberries!

The Potato Experiment @ Prospect Cottage.

In arigna, Folklore, Gardening, Herbs, sustainable living on August 3, 2011 at 9:28 am

Monday last was August 1st, also known as Lammas or Lughnasa. In the not so distant past this was a time of fairs and horse trading in honour of Rhiannon, the horse Goddess of the Underworld. There is still one remaining horse fair held on this day which is I believe held somewhere in Galway. Here in Arigna we like to harvest produce on this day  as it is also a celebration of the abundance of the season. A time of gathering and preserving in preperation for the Winter which is just around the corner.

In April we planted Potatoes using a method new to us. Newspaper was placed on the ground, potatoes on top then covered with a thick mulch of rushes (straw could also be used). See post Blueberries, Potatoes & Rushes published on 11th April for more info and pics.

The variety planted was Colleen. Wow, the results far exceeded my expectations, I admit I was dubious. The Potatoes are clean, just pull back the mulch and there they are. Good yield, the amount above is from 2 plants. The size was a bit erratic, some very large Potatoes, some small. All in all we are well pleased and shall definitely use this method again.

In the new gravel garden, see post Elephant Hawk Moth & Gravel Garden published June 8th, everything is filling out nicely. The pots with mostly succulents in are doing particularly well. It is the sunniest spot. Many of the plants have flowered for the first time. Really love the little flower on this one.

In the vegetable garden Oregano is flowering now. The Bees just love it. Some of the flowers will be dried for use in teas. It is useful for colds, headaches and gastro-intestinal disorders. With the addition of a teaspoon of honey it makes a delicious tea. The leaves can also be infused to make a hair conditioner or added to your bath water to promote relaxation.

Summer Abundance @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on June 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

Less than two weeks to the Solstice and growth is rampant, soon to reach it’s peak. The Sun almost at it’s highest point, it’s energy greatest for us in the northern hemisphere. The polytunnels are becoming jungle like, Nasturtiums, Potatoes, Grapevine seem to be growing before one’s eyes. The season of abundance, complete meals from the garden, a time to revel in the joy and beauty of nature. At the moment we are harvesting Purple Sprouting Broccoli(late but welcome), salads, Spring Onions, Strawberries, herbs and Sugar Snap Peas(my current fave veg).

The new bed which we did back in March is establishing well. It is a bit of an experiment to see what will grow here as it is north facing in the shade of the chalet. It does get some sun in the morning and for a short time in the evening. It is planted with perennial Geraniums, Sedum spectablis, Foxgloves, Primulas, Fatsia, Hostas and Lady’s Mantle. Most of the plants were from division or cuttings so cost was minimal. The area was mulched with newspaper and covered with mushroom compost which can be got for free locally. Yes, we’re lucky, I know some places in England charge for mushroom compost. An unexpected bonus from the compost is frequent flushes of Chestnut Mushrooms. Mushroom Soup, air miles free!!

Borage has self-seeded itself generously again this year. The Bees and other insects are ecstatic. The intense blue of it’s flowers would gladden the heart of anyone. Apparently the flowers were added to the stirrup-cups given to the Crusaders at their departure. They were said to give courage. Medical research has found that the flowers of Borage do indeed stimulate the adrenal glands, where of course courage begins. The seeds are high in gamma-linolenic acid .

On the last day of May @ Prospect Cottage.

In arigna, Gardening, sustainable living on May 31, 2011 at 2:17 pm

At last the weather seems to be changing again. The strong winds have abated and rain showers are less frequent. From tomorrow, June 1st, the temperatures are set to increase and lots of sunshine is promised.

Birch is one of my favourite trees. I love how it’s graceful branches and sparse foliage allow the light through creating dappled shade beneath. The one which grows outside our back door has a different habit to the other Birches on our land. They usually grow very straight but this one has a weeping habit. Beautiful.

The leaves of Birch are diutetic, antiseptic and a tonic, an effective remedy for cystitis and other infections of the urinary system, cleansing the body by removing excess water.

In the polytunnels there is an abundance of produce,  salad crops, Spring Onions, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Beetroot plus lots of herbs and edible flowers. I get tremendous joy from harvesting ingredients for our meals each day. The same joy is not to be had from browsing the supermarket shelves, especially as most of the produce is now from far off lands. Keeping the air miles low here in Arigna.

Delighted that Apples have set on this tree, Mrs. Perry, this is it’s first year to set fruit. The fruit is said to be dual-purpose, holding on the tree up to November. Don’t think these will last that long!

Looks like we will have Tayberries this year, this cross between Raspberry and Blackberry is delicious. It is easy to grow, we have it trailing along the fence. The fruit ripens from mid-July .