Plan B?

We have just survived one of the worst weeks of weather I can remember for a long time. Storm force winds had been forecast for Saturday 13 February and by the late afternoon it was gusting about 70 mph, so we were not too surprised when there was a electrical power surge which blew several circuits and left us in the cold and dark. On Sunday the power was restored and we managed to revive the central heating system. The wind got stronger and stronger, until it blew out the middle section of the big polytunnel!

Storm damaged polytunnel
The morning after!

On Monday the wind had dropped to gale force and the torrential rain had been replaced by squally showers. The damage report – one trashed poytunnel, a serious list on the big fruit cage, and the loss of a couple of inches of soil from the vegetable beds. The metal framework of the polytunnel, although galvanised steel, had been showing serious signs of corrosion for sometime. We had hoped that it would last a little longer, but we had not expected such a catastrophic structural failure, even with the wind gusting upto 95 mph.
With the help of a friend we managed to make the structure safe and removed the whole centre section. Unfortunately, the weather has prevented us from starting to take down the remaining structure, but the two ends appear stable, even in 70 mph winds.

So what next? Last week’s plan is in the bin or at least subject to a major reappraisal, as the priority is to dismantle what remains of the polytunnel and see if we can repair the fruitcage. This is likely to be a slow process as the weather forecast for the remains of February appears to be a continuous succession of southerly gales, and until we are released from lockdown we can’t arrange for deliveries of hardcore or gravel. Good thing we didn’t sell the concrete mixer!
If you are going to live on the exposed west coast of a Scottish island on the edge of the North Atlantic with nothing between you and North America, you have to have a degree of stoicism when your garden gets trashed by the weather. So you clear up the mess, try to learn from the experience and continue gardening. To be horribly pragmatic, I also have the new challenge of what to do with an area of 19 x 17m! I’m open to suggestions and offers of serious sponsorship from anyone who would like to build a hurricane, corrosion proof covered garden.

To be continued when the weather improves……..

23 thoughts on “Plan B?

  1. Oh dear. How depressing. I hope you get it all back up and running before too long.

    • Thank you. I think my reaction is more of a “bit miffed”. We may not be fully functional for a while – stil in the demolition phase!

  2. I admire your pragmatic approach, although I am sure some swearing and tearing at hair was the immediate reaction! Good luck with the tidy up once the wind subsides. Ideas for the new veg garden… underground with grow lamps?! 😉

    • For the firts few years I did a lot of shaking my fist at the wind gods and giving them the benefit of my opinion. However, after a while, you just get on with it and try to rebuild bigger and better. I like the idea of a subterranean garden – perhaps mushrooms!

  3. OH. MY. STARS. What a mess to have to deal with and how frustrating to have to repair/redo. I’m sending my apologies and empathy- that sort of weather is unpredictable at best, chaos-inducing at worst… and it looks like you guys got the latter.

    • Thank you Cortney. Hebridean weather is very unpredictable, very dramatic and sometimes very destructive, but it is not as bad as other places. On my desk is a picture of Charles Darwin with the following misquote ” ‘It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change’. Over the 13 years we learnt to adapt.

  4. Blimey, that’s a tough blow. I applaud your philosophy. Good luck with the clear up.

    • Thank you. I’m not sure if it’s a Lent penance or a punishement for too much winter indulgence, but it is better than going to the gym.

  5. Hello Christine,
    I don’t know about a degree of stoicism… How dreadful, and we thought we’d had a bad week here. It pales by comparison.
    I think one of the trickiest things as gardeners all round the world, who along with farmers are well aware of how weather events seem to be see sawing ever more violently from one extreme to the next is trying to work out just what the limits of wind, rain sun, heat or cold might be, next year, or in 10 or 20 years.
    And then trying to formulate any sort of rational plan to cope. You both have our sympathies, and at least (?) it’s happened towards the end of February, and not say the beginning of November. Though I guess this is scant consolation.
    Wanting to share something lovely, but struggling, so in case you haven’t discovered this, maybe you might enjoy some of this, interesting take, as a switch off, when the power’s on?
    Best wishes

    • Thank you Julian – a gift of music is always appreciated.
      Hebridean weather is always unpredictable, but I suspect that we are experiencing some of the effects of climate change. It is difficult to predict how quickly and how much our situation will change. To be on the safeside i have checked the increase in sea level predictions and we have built the house in the right place, although we might find ourselves living on a very small island!

  6. Luffy

    Oh lord. We had gales but nothing like this. Best of luck getting back up and running…

    • We are in emergency planning and operation clear-up mode, weather permitting. Unfortunately the downside to a stunning location, fantastic wildlife and a quiet life, in our case it’s the weather. I still wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else.

      • Luffy

        I know what you mean. I feel the same 👍

  7. Oh no! I’ll stop complaining about the wind down here now. Only half the strength that you’ve experienced. I hope the clear up goes well. I love the Darwin misquote. Very true nonetheless. It isn’t just the sheep which need to be hardy up there.
    In cheerier news, for me anyway, two Massonia seeds have germinated. So far.. Beyond excited!

    • Hurrah, great news on the Massonias. I’m doing my best to ignore the weather and I’m hoping things will calm down soon so that we can start projecy garden restoration. In the meantime I’m enjoying everyones perfect Spring gardens.

  8. My Mum mentioned ‘weather’ last weekend but I hadn’t realised that the Hebrides were being buffeted the way they were. Remembering previous posts when your hatches were well and truly battened gives me a better picture of how severe this storm must have been, and your stoicism doesn’t surprise me… You will replace the polytunnel, I guess? I wonder where the lost soil has gone…?

    • Apologies for the tardy response – been hunting for my lost soil among other things. The Croft Garden Team – demolition experts, landscape gardeners and general builders inc. have been busy. Anyone seen my hard hat and high vis jacket?

      • Most understandable inthe circumstances – but I don’t suppose you found your lost soil? Reminds me of playing the ‘wide’ game as a child, when our mother asked us to find a range of random things…

        • I retrieved some of it from fencing cormers, but after todays gale I think I’ll be searching again! Forth Bridge syndrome!

  9. Oh no! Was just catching up on blog reading and saw this! I hope that things are improving…we’re still in the clutches of winter here, but don’t have as much repairing to do. Wish I could help you!!

    • How kind. March is still very wet and windy, but not quite as bad as the February gale, Hebridean winters are not for the faint hearted and they part of island life.

  10. How dreadful! Have just re-discovered your blog and reading back through from the top. How are you doing now with your polytunnel plans? Have you heard of the Polycrub tunnel from Shetland, made to withstand Shetland weather? A Hebridean Instagram gardener I follow installed one last year and it seems still to be standing. Her account is @jacqui_ferguson if you want to have a look. I’m planning a Polycrub for my exposed garden on Speyside. Good luck, and I’ll enjoy reading more!

    • Hello Linda, I’m still around but despite my good intentions my post are intermittent. There is an epidemic of polycrubs in the islands which are well liked and appear to be robust. As I have 3 greenhouses I’m not really in need of another to replace the polytunnel. Hopefully my new garden area will be finished soon – subject to the weather of course!

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