Apple Watch

What a mild start to the year weather wise. You good folk have had to wait a couple of weeks for a blog because I’ve been nowhere near a computer, instead making good use of the weather spending time in the garden. Having had a lovely break courtesy of good friends who hosted us for Christmas and New Year, we returned to Gigha refreshed and ready to work at the start of January. Thinking the clement skies wouldn’t last we decided on a plan of working outside for a couple of days whilst we could. As I sit here today, hoping I haven’t cursed it, that good weather is yet to break.

The Orchard March 2021

I quite often look back at photos from when we bought to remind ourselves how far we have come so I will reference the above to say that our walled garden, approx 45m square, was very much in need of attention. We had always planned to lend about half of that garden to the pursuit of self-sufficiency. A note of caution here because there are others doing far better at the self-sufficiency than I ever will, what I mean is eating fewer meals that are centred around meat and growing the vegetables to make dishes to replace that.

So with help from knowledgeable gardeners on the Island of Gigha we set about a list of tasks to get started on that particularly journey. Suggestions included making compost bins, defining raised beds where they were before and resurrecting a poly tunnel from the frame where one once stood. In addition recognising it was time to prune both hedges and apple trees a longer time scale was given to those two activities. That and the general clearing of the newly christened vegetable garden and orchard.

Poly tunnel frame – not a series of croquet hoops taken from ground level

Ambition started high in that we could own a poly tunnel by clearing, resetting the hoops that had dropped and ultimately providing a new skin for the structure. Clearing took the best part of two days with brush cutter and strimmer. A realisation that the remains of the cover were still embedded in a trench that needed to be re-dug around the sides and ends of the ‘tunnel also were conquered in those two days.

The poly tunnel today

So as (hopefully) can be seen in the above picture we have managed to clear the ground but not managed to reset the height of the middle hoops. (Below) In fact after digging out one set of the sleeves that hold the hoops, allowing the hoop itself to be tensioned once the cover is in place, we have come to the conclusion that mechanical help is required. Not as simple as first thought, like many jobs in the renovation, the sleeves have sunk in the ground too far to be able to simply reset them so need excavated and the whole thing rebuilt. Well in my opinion anyway.

I must also thank Graham and Jacqui who dug out and postulated with Karen and I to a solution to the problem. Agreeing in the end that the two senior men should not continue to dig further.

Sleeve had about 3 foot of digging to find the bottom

Focus then turned to preparation of beds and compost bays. The material for the former had been sourced from a friend on the Island earlier that week – finding a new spot that afforded great views of the East coast and back to the mainland. But the makeshift materials for the bays were already at hand so the weekend concluded by building those:

Sides for raised beds
The compost bays constructed this weekend

Before the beds though, clearing of the ground was much needed. To finish this episode of the blog a few more pictures of clear(er) ground. It probably doesn’t come across as much in the pictures as the success I think it is. A once weed laden patch, with brambles consuming the apple trees in the orchard, and saplings fighting for limited space and light, have now been cleared. There is a distinction between each of the trees that remain that wasn’t there before and at last the boundary of the garden can be viewed.

From the orchard back to the house – smaller trees have their own space
Brush cutter and strimmer put to use
The well and orchard beyond clear of brambles
Karen working until the last of the light

Oh and the apple watch, well we will have to wait to see what appears. Meantime my own personal device tells me I’m hitting my step target each day in January so far.

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