Bridget

Posts Tagged ‘organic’

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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Off Grid Living.

In Gardening, Off the beaten track., permaculture, sustainable living on September 11, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Our friends Elaine and LJ live on a 7 acre smallholding about 10 miles away from us. Living the good life for about 7 years now their wooden clad house is warm, cosy and welcoming despite having no mains electricity or water, things most people can’t imagine living without.

Electricity for the house comes from solar panels and a wind turbine atop this pole. Sorry, I cut off the wind turbine, crap pic, anyway you get the idea! Water is gravity fed from a well on their own land, some rainwater is also collected.

There are 2 polytunnels for vegetables and also an orchard. Slowly this land which was only ever used as grazing for cows is being converted to a haven for wildlife. No chemicals are used here, nature rules. Elaine and LJ call their philosophy “Permaganics, a combination of organic and permaculture techniques.”

Their 2 donkeys Floyd and Bowie have the run of the land that isn’t being cultivated, about 4 acres. I think the names reveal a little about their owners musical tastes too!

 Willow cuttings planted last year have taken well, they help to divide the land into separate spaces and take up excess moisture from the ground. More will be planted over the coming Winter. Willow grows easily from cuttings planted in frost-free weather in Autumn or Winter. Here they have been formed into overlapping semi-circles to form a “fedge”.

This willow lined pathway leads to a magical woodland area. One can imagine Nymphs, Fairies and maybe even Leprachauns having their abode here. They will not be disturbed.

This pic was taken walking back to the house from the woodland.

In the orchard the Apples are ready for picking.

Spuds and Flowers @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening on September 1, 2011 at 6:51 am

Every year we grow some Potatoes in bags. A few inches of compost in the bottom of a sack, holes in bag to allow drainage, pop in 3 or 4 Potatoes per bag, cover with compost and there you have it. The ones above are Sarpo Mira. They were topped up with compost twice as they grew. They were not treated for blight and only now are they getting some spots on leaves.

They were harvested last week and as you can see there were lots of lovely little pink potatoes to be gathered. We emptied the bags into the wheelbarrow for easy access.

This lot is from one bag which contained 3 seed Potatoes. The Potatoes are small but I do find the bags don’t produce big Spuds.

This is the total from the 4 bags, a little over 10 lbs. Not bad for very little effort, delicious little organic Potatoes from our own garden.

The resulting barrowload of compost was used to top up one of the veg beds.  I love little garden experiments like this, it proves you can grow spuds anywhere even without a garden.

In the long border this pink Astible is blooming,

and outside the polytunnel this container of Cosmos continues to provide colour. I love Cosmos and will save seeds from these for next years crop.

Garden progress at Prospect Cottage.

In Bees, Cooking, Gardening, Herbs, sustainable living on April 8, 2011 at 9:02 am

Yesterday was a glorious day, blue sky and too hot to work in the polytunnel by afternoon. I managed to spend the whole day in the garden. Strawberries (Elsanta) and lettuces were planted out in the big polytunnel.

Tomatoes were potted on, these are Mexican Midget, from seed savers in Co Clare. They form a long gangly plant with trusses spaced well apart. Fruits are the size of grapes but so delicious, lovely sweet flavour. They were still producing late in the season last year. We are also growing Moneymaker which gives a nice size Tomato. Many people say they don’t have a good flavour but grown organically I do not find that to be the case.

Sweet Cicely at back, Lady's Mantle and Sedum spectabile in front.

I love how certain plants that complement each other in the kitchen come into season together. Sweet Cicely and Rhubarb typify this. Rhubarb is known to have a lot of acidity and not suitable for people suffering from arthritis. However when Rhubarb is cooked with Sweet Cicely it reduces the acid considerably.Reduction of the acid means less sugar is needed so good for diabetics too. It also looks good, mine is in a flower border. White flowers are produced later in Spring, the bees love them.

Everything here is grown naturally, no boxes with skull and crossbones lurking in our shed! It works, plants want to grow, no mystery.

Meanwhile in New York 60 farmers,seed businesses and agricultural organisations have filed a lawsuit against Monsanto challenging the company’s patents on genitically modified seed. The plaintiffs are suing to prevent themselves being accused of patent infringement should their crops become contaminated by Monsanto’s seed. Monsanto has a history of this, with one Canadian farmer having to pay the company $28,000.

Natural Beekeeping at Prospect Cottage.

In Bees, Foraging., Gardening, sustainable living on March 30, 2011 at 10:20 am

Langstroth Beehive.

Bees have been in residence here at Prospect Cottage for almost 2 years now. Andy did a beekeeping course in Summer 2009 and the bees arrived here that September. Since then we have had the 2 hardest Winters in recent times, thankfully our bees are well and healthy. Andy prefers to keep bees in as natural a way as possible, with minimum interference. Verroa mite can be treated naturally, with oxalic acid, but there is no need to treat unless it is present. Most beekeepers treat routinely with chemical strips.

Swarm, Summer 2010, caught and rehomed in Co.Clare.

At a beekeeping meeting on Monday Andy was appalled to hear that clipping the Queen’s wings is common practice to stop swarming. We had 6 swarms last year and still got lots of honey. Swarming occurs when there are 2 Queens and there is overcrowding. To prevent swarming the Queen larvae are killed, which we don’t do, or taken out with a handful of bees and reared to make a new colony.

Swarm on ash branch.

There is much concern in the UK at the moment about “neonicotinoid” pesticides, these are absorbed into the plant and are present in the pollen and nectar. Made by German company Bayer, they are banned in Germany! They are also banned or restricted in France, Italy and Slovenia. These chemicals work by poisoning the central nervous system of insects including bees who partake of the nectar and pollen.

We are fortunate here in Arigna that we are surrounded on all sides by an organic farm where, of course, no poisons are used. We ourselves do not use any poisons on our land or produce. I don’t understand why one would use something on your land that has a skull and crossbones warning on it! It does’nt make sense!

          I feel that Man has ruled this world as a stumbling demented child king long enough,

         And as his Empire crumbles our precious Apis mellifera shall rise as his most fitting successor.

         These words I speak are true. We’re all humanary stew, if we don’t pledge allegiance to BEES.

                                       ( Adapted from Alice Cooper song, The Black Widow.)

Daffodils blooming, grass growing @ Prospect Cottage.

In Gardening, sustainable living on March 23, 2011 at 12:25 pm

The first Daffodils opened here yesterday. Things happen a little later here as we are 110 metres above sea level. The bees are in ecstacy to have a supply of nectar again. It’s lovely to watch them flitting from flower to flower.

I wonder why so many Spring flowers are yellow?

The fields are greening up again, almost recovered from the hard Winter frost. Daphne is delighted to have fresh pickings again. No artificial fertilisers are used on the land here so no pollution runoff. Actually we are very lucky here as our smallholding is bounded by an organic farm. The only thing we put on the land is lime every few years. The land here is fairly acidic because of the high rainfall. The application of lime helps to sweeten the land and improves grass growth. Everything here, vegetables, fruits and animal health is dependant on soil health so it is incredibly important to look after it. 

These hyacinths were some of my January sales buys. They were brought on in the polytunnel. The flowers started opening up yesterday so I brought them into the house to get the full benefit of their glorious scent. This morning the heat in the house had coaxed the flowers to open fully. The scent pervading the whole house today is gorgeous, I love it.

The weather here today is great, sunny since early morning. It feels like Summer. It’s the first day this year that I am only wearing one layer of clothing. Yippee, I’m off now to sow parsnip seed and continue mulching the fruit area.