Raised beds

April 2022

We’ve been in our home for three years now and our attempts at establishing a productive garden in the Outer Hebrides have been met with a number of challenges which we’re pleased to say we’re learning from. In 2020 we reported on the greenhouse we had built, and in 2021 we gave a short update on the rest of the garden.

Growing fruit and vegetables in the northwest of Scotland is challenging for three main reasons:

  • the short growing season
  • the strong, salt-laden winds
  • the rocky, acidic soil

And then, of course, we have the same problems as elsewhere regarding weeds, slugs and other pests. The construction of our greenhouse addressed some of these problems, but it didn’t stop slimy critters and tiny flies having a field day with some of our leafy veg.

The raised beds we erected last year were fashioned out of wood salvaged from various places, in a Swiss Family Robinson-style attempt to work with the materials we had available. However, the soil was still untreated and the low beds did little to protect our crops from the harsh winds. What the weather didn’t destroy, the weeds and slugs did.

From our outdoor crop, we only managed to harvest a few potatoes and a regular supply of rocket (our favourite salad ingredient), as well as bountiful herbs and a moderate return on our fruit bushes (strawberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants). Our plum tree yielded a total of nine plums, but just before they were fully ripe, an autumn gale plucked them from the branches and scattered them far and wide!

So this year we’ve decided to invest in sturdy, high-sided beds and to cover them with netting, with the hope that this will have a positive impact on our crop yield. We’ve been working with the soil over the winter, suffocating the weeds with seaweed and adding three years’ worth of compost on top to provide valuable nutrients.

The potatoes and radishes we planted in one bed are already looking sturdy and we’ve got plenty of seedlings germinating indoors, ready to go out in a couple of weeks after the last of the spring frosts have passed.

The potatoes and radishes we planted in the far bed in March are doing well so far

We’ve also added a few more relevant publications to our gardening bookshelf; one we’ve found extremely helpful for our northerly location is Fruit and Vegetables for Scotland: What to Grow and How to Grow It.

We’re praying for a rewarding and abundant harvest this year, but as we’ve discovered, not all things are in our control.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top