Sunday, 12 December 2010

I miss my polytunnel

I really miss my polytunnel - don't have many pictures of the last one we had before we moved. It was great for me as I miss having the shelter of a garden in the south. We grew lots of things in there that I couldn't grow outside up here (lavender, sweet peas, normal peas, courgettes, coriander, tomatoes, runner beans and alot of flowers - the wind here has a bad habit of destroying things just when you'd rather it didn't). Having a polytunnel which gives you shelter from the wind up here is a god send - means you can actually *grow* things you'd never be able to normally in our climate - it extends an otherwise short climate to a more tolerable one - and gives you somewhere to hide if its wet and rainy. On a day like today - when its getting dark at the back of 3pm - its been rainy and a bit windy - I miss it the most as I'd be able to potter about - listening to the radio and just have a wee indulge in a bit of 'compost action'. to keep me sane.

Average windspeed of 20mph all year round with gusts upto 60mph not uncommmon!
I've a bad habit of moving house and for a gardener thats a bit sad in lots of ways - whilst its great to have a new garden to play in - moving house often generally means your hard work is left behind - or in the case of this garden - the polytunnel was purchased by the new tenants (easier than moving it) and I ended up in a house with a greenhouse, sheltered garden and no real need for a polytunel. Now, two years later we've moved into a new space (brilliant open views - as you can see from the windsock its very exposed) and now I really need something up outside to be able to grow anything. [Private renting often means that you can find yourself moving, when you'd rather stay put - but on the other hand it means you get to know another part of this lovely island]. I've made a start to the 'outdoor' veggie area (for hardier things like kale, onions, cabbage, carrots and beetroot) many of these I'll grow under cover too, as a bit of an experiment to see what way works best.

New veggie bed started - for the hardier vegetables to have a view of the hills!
We've a new polytunnel to get put up here (a bit bigger than that previous one) which we were given a free frame of if we could take it down (its down now - yippee) and it needs to be moved here (5-6m lengths - not easy - its a 'task in hand'). This new house we will be our home in until the children leave home for university 'south' - and then we'll probably relocate on the mainland of scotland to be nearer to them (another garden change - but its 4 years away - so I'll work really hard on this one inbetween). The task for next year will be to get the tunnel up early enough to be able to get use out of it - but late enough to be able to put a cover onto it successfully when its warmed up a bit. I think I'll put a net over the tunnel - having lost polytunnel covers before in the wind - I'm not taking any chances this time. Then it can be very productive for the time we're here and hopefully we'll take it with us when we go - or at least thats the plan.

Polytunnels means we can grow alot of things people elsewhere can grow outside -  because of the wind - things like sweetpeas or runner beans alot of fruit needs to be under cover here or you get no fruit/flowers. Although in a sheltered spot I've seen folk get away with sweetpeas outside here but only in a couple of gardens - but I've never seen runner beans outdoors here.......
Well that will give me something to look forward to and I will be able to have sweet peas again and a whole lot of other crops I have no hope of growing here without some cover - I'm not sure I will chance a greenhouse here - but you never know! I can't wait to have some shelter to play around in and have a lovely garden in.


  1. Life as a gardener's interesting isn't it , it's a constant battle between the weather and pests and diseases . It's great when it all comes together though . Good luck with the new polytunnel, look forward to seeing it full of runner beans :)

  2. Some much to think about when you are a serious gardener. Good luck with the polytunnel!!

  3. I guess it keeps life interesting! I'm very much looking forward to getting on with the garden next year - I'm hoping to not only grow our own food here - but to supplement income by selling our extra plants and perhaps have a little 'cottage' industry at home to keep me busy. Fingers crossed, I hope I'm not too much of a serious gardener (do I give that impression - maybe I am?!) as very passionate about being able to live here and to be grow things one way or another!

    If I get it right shaz the wind can take the pests and diseases away with it and I'll be left with only the good stuff - well a girl can dream eh?

  4. Fay, I am excited for and jealous of you right now!! I love gardening in a polytunnel, I love the slightly unearthly light, the faint hush, the refuge it provides from wild weather. I loved pottering about in one when it was blowing a gale outside. I'm sure you will find lots of ways to both augment your income and have fun too. Perhaps the people of Orkney would relish being able to buy Orkney-grown beautiful flowers rather than Kenyan roses? Will you use raised beds in it?

  5. dont you worry wee one! we'll get that poly-tunnel sorted in time for you to start growing things next year!


  6. Janet - yup - raised beds all the way - I'm going to make sure we put it up in a way that we can move it after 4 years when we stalk the children on the mainland. I do like them too, you're right the light is lovely in them - and its a nice place to be able to be 'outside' and actually sometimes feel warm too!!

    I use to take home grown flowers tied up bit garden twine to the local farmers market when I sold herbs and stuff a while back - you never know - my calendula/alchemilla/cosmos/ox-eye hand tied bouquets were a bit of a riot for the eyeballs - but they did last for ages in a vase........:)

    I like the idea of a life powered by flowers - ta for popping past!

    ... and DB I know you'll hate doing it but once its up I'll be a very happy bunny!