First shoots at
Croft 22


AUGUST, 2021

We at Croft 22, Kirkibost, have been residents for nearly 2 years but this year’s growing season was our first on Bernera. In spite of being without buildings or polycrubs, we had decided to experiment with crops and varieties of vegetables. With no anecdotal or other information to hand, we had no idea what would work in the area we were growing in. 

The first harvest

We have had some great successes and some notable failures in the end, ranging from massive courgette and zucca marrows, which have thrived outdoors, to flax growing successfully in the ploughed field alongside barley, potatoes and onions. Early success came too in the form of the Roman lettuce which has fed us for the entire summer, an italian northern spinach which has been delicious and loads of mixed variety spring onions. Not so successful, but growing in the open nevertheless, has been the maize corn which did really well until the wind and drier weather hit. 

Growing well in the raised outdoor beds have been the peas, broad beans, turnips, radishes, beetroot, onions, nasturtiums, cabbages, Italian round carrots and chives. Sprouting broccoli, endive, butternut squash and kale are replacing those plants which are now harvested and eaten.

“Crofting helps combat the climate issues of transporting and packaging our food” – Scottish Crofting Federation

We swapped some blackthorn for gooseberry, blackcurrant and raspberry plants, and we do have some blackcurrants though the others have struggled a bit with transplanting. Our ‘tesco special’ apple and plum trees are growing and had blossomed, before being chomped by the orphan lambs we have taken on. 

New plants we’ve never grown before like Scottish crowberries and artichokes, are thriving and blooming.

Windy day

In addition this year, we have planted 300 of 500 blackthorn, 660 willows, comfrey, clover, whitebeam and a hawthorne. Most seem to be thriving in spite of the lack of rain, though we envisage that only about half the willows will make it. 

Some plants haven’t done well at all such as the aubergines haven’t liked being grown outdoors and have been slow to grow. The small buddleia plants died in the late frost and have not regenerated which has been surprising. Definite failures have been basil, which has not enjoyed being outside at all, mint and lamb’s lettuce which in spite of multiple attempts in different plantings have not shown one shoot, which means we will have to retry next year. Not to mention our 2 Bernera news Sunflower seeds which were doing really well until the chickens escaped and ate them both. A successful season of experimentation under our belts and with both water and electricity now on the croft, we can look forward to an interesting growing season next year. With our next plans afoot, Croft 22 is well on its way from being unloved to abundant.