Eventually every garden reaches the stage where the distinguished patina of age decays into senescence. This probably applies to the croft gardeners too, but in the summer of 2021 it was evident that parts of garden were in need of some care and attention. Over the years we have learnt that, in our harsh environment, we need to use stainless steel screws and fixings, and heavy grade fencing timber. We also have a rabbit problem, so we have had to put in some extra gates and fencing to make the vegetable garden bunny proof. Therefore, once we had finished building the enclosed garden, the Head Gardener moved on to repairing the fences and replacing the boards around the vegetable beds.
By the end of August, the gardeners were in need of some rest, recuperation and rejuvenation, but one more task remained. The large fruit cage, had also been damaged by the storm which destroyed the original polytunnel, and was unlikely to survive the winter gales. It was condemned as beyond repair and demolished. This left an 12 x 6 m space and exposed the small fruit cage and the orchard to the full strength of the southerly and westerly winds.
Yet another garden dilemma and design conumdrum. During the summer I had been using one of the greenhouses by the house to grow vegetables. I had intend to use it mainly for growing salads, winter vegetables and herbs and it had not been designed for vine crops such as tomatoes or cucumbers. Therefore, it was not a difficult decision to decide to build another polytunnel.
A new type of polytunnel had recently become popular in the islands, locally known as crubs they were based on a design developed in Shetland. They comprise a polycarbonate shell fixed to a series of polyethylene tubes (recycled from the local fish farms). We were initially sceptical, because of the lack of ventilation – just the door and a small window at either end. However, after interrorgating almost every polycrub owner on the island, the decision was made.
We would have liked to have modified the design, but it was a “take it or leave it” package. Although it was an expensive and unsatisfactory option we decided that what we didn’t like we could change. However, we were adament that we would be responsible for the interior.
One the tunnel was erected we replaced all the boards with heavy timber coated in bituminised paint, replaced all the nails with stainless steel screws, replaced the door and window and added mesh screens to keep the birds out. Inside we built three long raised beds, a work bench and watering points at each end of the beds. A little excessive? Not when the Head Gardener is a perfectionist. He is still muttering but I’m too busy gardening.