Western Isles Gardening
Western Isles gardening in November is often done under a roof it at all possible, well at least it is this year, for days now the weather forecast has been heavy showers, light showers, heavy rain or light rain and so on. We have however not had drizzle for a while...
It is a very good time of year to sort out the greenhouse, potting shed or polytunnel if you have got one.
Outbuildings are of great value here in the Western Isles once the rain sets in. (Particularly so as the days are getting shorter, which they do dramatically with the clocks having gone back last weekend)
A good clear out of the garden buildings can help improve next years' crops.
Before the hurricane this January (when I lost the polytunnel cover to the gale), aphids in the polytunnel had year by year got progressively worse, even the mint which is used herbally to make an anti-aphid wash for plants was attacked by aphids.
The tunnel cover lost in January was not replaced until May, and during the weeks of winter the aphids were cleared by the frosts.
Despite the unusually warm October (even here in the Western Isles we were out in t-shirts!) a hard winter is being predicted. This can have great advantages in the garden, with the frosts killing off pests and diseases in an organic way!
Clearing debris from the garden buildings also helps get rid of those unhelpful bugs and diseases.Washing the plant pots is especially important to stop fungal problems from building up.
Plastic plant pots that are cracked, will dry out too quickly in the warm weather, so let them go to the recycling bank if you can not find another use for them.
It is a really good time of year to do any garden building maintenance or repairs, a chance to mend greenhouse windows, put a bit of tunnel tape on the holes, make sure nothing is left swinging in the wind, or it will be off it's hinges soon!
If you have a polytunnel and can secure the door safely, it is a helpful to encourage the Blackbirds in, as they will vigorously root about in the mulch for bugs.
If you use gravel, sand or capillary matting on your greenhouse bench clear it off and wash down and renew as necessary.
Then comes the good bit...plants to herald the Spring. I was gardening last week and accidentally exposed the growing shoot of a big Daffodil bulb. It was a strong shoot already about half an inch long, a real sign of Spring growth beginning even as the Autumnal dying off of plants is happening.
Try putting a few Daffodil bulbs in deep flower pots in the greenhouse, also Crocus, Primulas, Pansies, Cowslips or even a few first year Foxgloves for their foliage. Some kitchen herbs are good too especially a bit of Lemon Balm which does not often survive winter outside.
Create a spring plant corner in the greenhouse coldframe or polytunnel just to lift your spirits at the tail end of winter when things are still getting blown about outside.
Just bringing the less hardy plants in to protect them from the worst of the frosts will add some heartening spring green colour at the end of winter.
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...