Western Isles Gardening
A Western Isles garden this September is wind burnt.
The flowers were a glorious abundance of colour Saturday afternoon, Sunday morning the blossom had gone, burnt green replaced the colours. I grieved a little.
A week later and there has been an astounding comeback of bloom, the peak has passed but there is a definite feeling of Autumn on its way. Those people who do not garden in the Western Isles for fear of the wind taking it are really missing out on pleasure. (I am biased!)
I recommend leaving the growth that is dying back, for a while longer. Those stems are helping support the others, who will likely need it, as the Autumn Equinox storms and gales will soon be upon us. The garden might look smarter trimmed and tidied but nature has got a system in place!
It is time to make sure there are rocks weighting down all the loose objects in the garden!
The midges have been out a lot less since August finished, so we have a chance to enjoy a bit of summer evening garden time again. Often August evenings we just can not get out there without severe discomfort, so make the most of the sunset golden opportunity!
Autumn is my favorite season. As the harvest comes in, I dig ready for next spring, then apply plenty of seaweed mulch. I have found this Autumn digging and mulching to be the least labour intensive, effective method of soil preparation.
As well as feeding the soil, seaweed helps to break it down. Just cover the soil until you can not see it. If you apply seaweed in Autumn mostly it will compost completely away by Spring, you can dig in any odd bits then or add them to the compost heap. January is not too late to add a seaweed mulch , but you might have a bit more digging in to do come Springtime.
Most flowers and vegetables and fruit grow well where the soil been had this organic seaweed mulch. (For plants already in place it is best to add seaweed pre composted, or a little fresh but not right up to the plant stem)
The Western Isles Storms and Gales at Autumn Equinox Throw a Lot of Seaweed Up on the Shoreline.
Many of our crofts have traditional rights to collect seaweed from the shore. These days I have not known anyone object to it being collected (I think the shore belongs to the Crown) but you do get some odd looks!
The best places for seaweed collection are where you can get your vehicle right beside the shore, wet seaweed is heavy.
The easiest collection I ever did was after the hurricane, the road was covered!
Take rubber gloves and wear your overalls. I use old coal sacks to collect seaweed, if putting it in the car you will need a sheet of plastic to protect the boot.
I overheard (I could not help it!) once a conversation where one crofter said to the other that they knew someone who had tried putting seaweed on his croft the previous month, and it did not work. It takes a few months to show effect.
I have not had any problem with the seaweed bringing in weed seeds to the garden, but avoid collecting it in places where the long grass is mixed in, as the grass will love your extra rich soil!
If you put a lot of seaweed in the compost heap, mix in other plant matter too for the best result.
Local horticultural groups or gardener's clubs can add details of meetings etc to the garden page - email webmaster.
Peaches, grapes, tomatoes and other salad crops are
grown on The Poly Croft on the Isle of Lewis
Visit the web site for growing tips and location details of the most North Westerly vineyard in the UK...