Jan 19

back ways in snow
Backways in snow

Winter has finally arrived, we have a little snow that has stuck around for a few days, gradually refreezing as ice as it is trampled and melts a little during the day.  I quite like a bit of quiet time to look around and see the structure of the ground under the plants.  You can see the pathways made by people and dogs as the slightly flattened grass remains whiter with snow than rougher areas.

I have done a little pruning, although you are not supposed to do this when it is frosty!  The remaining gooseberries in the fruit garden didn’t take long, and I have cut down the sapling sycamore tree that would have crowded one of the apple trees there.  It may grow back, but I can just prune it out each year for pea sticks until it gives up!  The apple that I grafted before I came to Skye and that was living in a pot for a while has unfortunately grown a little one sided.  I assume it is just the prevailing wind that has achieved this, and am not sure if it is possible to reverse….

With the freezing weather there is little plant wise to do outside, but I have been able to get a little done in the polytunnel.  As threatened I have drastically pruned back the kiwi vine.  As well as shortening it, I have also taken out some of the larger fruiting side branches. This should encourage new ones to grow and be more fruitful.  I tied the main trunk a little tighter to the overhead wires, as it was hanging a little low and even interfering with my headroom.  The grapevines are far simpler to prune.  I simply cut back all the side branches close to the main trunk.

after pruning
After pruning

I am very hopeful that what I am seeing here is flower buds on my apricot.  I’m still not really sure whether I’m doing the right thing with the pruning of this.  I think I now need to cut back the main branches by one third to an upward facing bud and tie in new branches in between the existing ones, and then I’m into ‘maintenance pruning’ whatever that means! I know I’m not supposed to prune when the plant is dormant so I need to leave it a couple of months.

apricot blossom
Apricot blossom?

There is a little weeding to do, and I also need to start watering a bit more in the tunnel as well in preparation for some early sowing.  I think the akebia is surviving nicely, but I’m not sure about the passionflowers.  I think they were a bit small and I should have brought them into the house last autumn.  The propagation area keeps expanding.  I could really use more space for putting the growing on plants. I’ll have to have a think about this.  Maybe I just need to tidy up a bit more efficiently!  Theoretically there is lots of space on my little greenhouse frame, so perhaps I’ll just concentrate on getting that properly sorted again.  It just keeps filling up with empty pots!

too many pots
Too many pots….
greenhouse frame
Mini greenhouse frame (and polytunnel pond)

 

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18 thoughts on “Jan 19

    1. Yes, a rainy day job. I have got some spare wooden shelves I can tuck the pots into (with other assorted useful stuff). They need to be sheltered, or the wind will distribute them down the glen.

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  1. it looks like you have a lot of greenery in your polytunnel, it also looks a good size, do you grow any winter veg in it?
    we had some snow over here too, the locks on the moor were frozen when I took the bus to Stornoway today, your snowy path through the trees looks inviting, Frances

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    1. The green is mostly self seeded leaf beet and kale. The leaf beet suffers from caterpillar damage, so I rarely get enough to nake a meal. Perhaps I’m a bit fussy. There is almost always kale. It is very tender and sweet in the tunnel. The same variety outside is tougher and more bitter. I don’t bother much with salad greens, just pick the weeds!

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      1. self sown kale sounds good, I have saved some red kale seed which I shall sow this year, maybe I’m fussy too as I don’t like to eat anything that has been nibbled and since listening to Pippa Greenwood’s descriptions of what lurks in small brown spots on leaves etc. I can be quite fussy, Frances

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    1. We never got anywhere as cold as that. -3 to +3, a little warmer now the snow’s almost gone.
      Dyson doesn’t like me going in the tunnel. He knows now he’s not allowed in. I’m sorry because he loves to ‘help’, but has no idea where his backside is and doesn’t appreciate the difference between ‘path’ and ‘garden’. To be fair, this distinction lies partly in my mind in places!

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      1. I’m having a little problem with my comments. They don’t appear so I repeat them and then they appear. I’ll check again in the morning and see whether my reply comes back!

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  2. No, that comment seems to have disappeared. I was going to say…
    When we first had our other dog Douglas (the one that looks a bit like your Titus) he would go round the kitchen after his dinner, to see what else was lying around and we said then we’d call the next one Dyson. We like the name, like the vacuum (our DC02 de stihl finally got retired after 24 years domestic abuse) and admire the man. I’m not sure what Sir James would think, but the name was chosen with respect! Dyson isn’t greedy, but you can set your watch by his dinner time (he actually keeps better time than my watch).

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    1. Thanks Carole, I don’t do much annual vegetables these days – just continued attempts at tomatoes. We are very mild here, despite being so far north, thanks to the North Atlantic drift. Last week was the coldest we normally see. Although we have seen -12 deg C, that is pretty unusual. Our problem is wet (!) and wind (!) and acid soil. That does however mean we never had the drought that most areas of the UK had last summer, so every cloud…. Most of the plants I mention in this post, apart from the apples, gooesberries and other currants, are in the polytunnel. I’m a bit worried the apricot is going to outgrow the tunnel given how well it has done in the last two years!

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  3. We’re using our greenhouse as a storage point. Obviously it’d work much better as a greenhouse if we put the glass back in it! On the list for this year 😉. I’m surprised at your climate, would’ve assumed cold not mild. So pretty in the snow 😊.

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    1. Yes I think glass would help the ‘greenhouse effect’.
      We’re wet and windy rather than cold here. The temp for Skye in January is warmer than southern England. Our last and first frost dates are earlier/later by a week or so than we had in Solihull despite being 500 miles further north. It is still dark in winter (although light outside now at 5.30pm and never dark in summer!) and we don’t tend to get hot summers. So 15 degrees in July, 5 degrees in January!

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