Monday, 31 October 2011

Spring like

A lovely mild spring like day on Sunday. It was difficult to image it was late autumn. Certainly there were plenty of clouds about especially in the morning but there were some nice sunny spells in the afternoon. On the plot we did a little bit of harvesting and more tidying up.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Happy garden dahlias

Mostly cloudy today but we were fortunate to have a sunny spells. It clouded over more towards teatime with some light rain in the evening.

I lifted our garden dahlias in this afternoon. They were all varieties from the “Happy” collection although I’m not at all sure they were very happy at all in this summers dry conditions.
All summer planted out in the garden they haven’t managed to make much more than a decent sized pot plant in size. A couple of the dahlias had made some tubers which were on the rather small size.
This particular root didn't look to have any tubers at all to store over winter. Our next decision is how to  keep these plants and tubers over winter.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

More sunshine

Another nice day on Friday with plenty of sunshine and temperatures about average for the end of October.

Watching Autumn Watch on Friday night the weather report covered just how warm October has been and quoted something like the 7th warmest in 100 years. I’m not convinced that our October has been that good. Certainly it started off with record breaking temperatures during the first 3 days of the month but since then the temperatures have been around or below expected. My graph of our monthly average temperature shows how we’ve gone from the record breaking start to just above expected towards the end of the month.
My figures for our greenhouse show that we've had colder greenhouse temperatures this year than last. 
In this chart it’s possible to compare the number of hours below 7.0°C in my greenhouse up to 28th October 2011 and for last October. Already we've had 84 hours this year compared to 61 hours for the whole of October 2010.
It’s been a crazy year so far with our record temperatures for the beginning of October and our ongoing below average rainfall for most of the year. I wonder what surprises November and December have up their sleeves for us. 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Pear surprise

I expected Thursday to be a really wet day to help balance up the exceptionally dry last six months or so but it didn't happen -yet again. It was dull and cloudy all day with some spells of light rain on and off all day which in the end only amounted to 4.0mm.

One bonus from replacing the broken greenhouse window yesterday was that I managed to reach some pears still hanging on the tree. Whilst some were definitely beyond hope having been devastated by wasps and birds these four looked as though they had some edible fruit left.  

At least they wont be able fall off the tree and break another pane of glass when it’s next windy.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Embarrassing or what!

Wednesday dawned cool and clear giving us a pretty good day with some sunny spells.

My new sheet of cut to size acrylic arrived so, whilst the weather was dry and most importantly not windy, it seemed like a good opportunity to get it fitted. Due to the close proximity of a fence, the roof glazing cannot slide out in the same way as it went in before the fence was built by our neighbour. The only option was to break the glass still remaining in place to remove it. Strange how difficult it can be to break glass with a hammer when you want to. In the end I managed to remove it all and carefully clear away all the broken shards. The size of the acrylic sheet is 1.65m x 0.73m, well that’s what I measured, so I was hoping the new sheet would fit satisfactorily. It was pretty difficult to slide the new sheet into place as the acrylic flexed in the middle and kept falling out of the locating grooves in the wooden frame. I eventually managed to fit it into the desired grooves with the help of some temporary wooden stiffeners to stop it flexing. Permanent stiffeners are required to stop the sheet flexing and falling out when the wind blows or it’s weighed down by snowfall.

But now the new sheet is installed it’s embarrassing to see just how dirty the old glass has become. I’ll have to do some cleaning in time for next year’s seed sowing.
I had to look carefully at this photograph as the adjacent glass pane is so dirty it almost looks like timber. Certainly goes to show how important  keeping up to cleaning the greenhouse glass is.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Just a little rain

Tuesday was another nice day for the time of year with some short sunny spells throughout the day. We had some over night rain adding 4.8mm to our total for the month. Temperatures were around normal for late October and the winds were just a light breeze.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Have we any swedes?

Monday produced another nice day for us for late October although there are news reports that other parts of the UK are receiving lots of rain and flood warnings are in place. At the moment October for us is heading to be yet another month with below average rainfall.
On the plot the other day I was checking out our swedes (Marian). These were sown towards the end of July which I’m beginning to think might just have been a little late. The plants have grown well enough and the tops look really healthy but there doesn't seem to be any sign of a root to harvest. 
Just like our calabrese discussed yesterday it might be the dry weather that’s slowed the plants growth down in August and September but I think next year I’ll sow the seeds at the beginning of July rather than towards the end of the month.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Late calabrese is a treat

Sunday’s temperature got up to an impressive 16.6°C, good for late October. We didn’t have much sunshine, but with a fairly light breeze it felt pleasantly mild.

I decided to try some of our late calabrese (Green Magic). It’s been tempting me for a few weeks now but I've resisted thinking the heads could do to grow a bit bigger. 
Growth seems very slow at this time of year. I’ve wondered if I should have planted the seeds a little earlier to perhaps get rather larger heads or has our really dry late summer and autumn slowed down progress. 
The seeds were sown on the 2nd July and planted out on the 9th August.
The seed packet recommends sowing May to June, so I was fractionally late sowing the seed, and that it should be ready to harvest 75-80 days after planting. Does this mean after sowing the seeds or transplanting the seedlings? I assume it means sowing the seed in which case our calabrese should have been ready for picking by 20th September. If it does refer to a transplanting date then our calabrese is ready according to the 75 to 80 days stated on the seed packet.
This was our calabrese at the beginning of October. It looks to me to be a little short of water and looking rather blue at this stage. The early October rains did wonders.
As for the information on the seed packet I’m not too fussed either way as the calabrese tasted good and we’ve some more heads to look forward to. Perhaps next year I might sow the seeds a couple of weeks earlier towards the end of June. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Not bad for late October

Both Friday and Saturday were pretty good days for late October and in the afternoon sunshine it felt mild.

It was good weather for tidying up on the plot. The last of the runner beans and some old dry broad bean plants were cleared to the compost heap and the weeds dug out to make the bed ready for digging over for winter. Despite the lack of rain all summer the rain in early October has left the ground in excellent condition for digging.

I’ve put Friday and Saturday together not for any weather related facts but because my computer is playing silly games with me. At times it works perfectly fine, then suddenly decides enough is enough and just stops or rather slows to an absolute snail’s pace where every click of the mouse takes what seems like minutes to be performed. I do mean every click, choosing to vary the percentage view of a window will demand a long wait for the little box to open with the choice of screen sizes to click on. Re-boots don’t seem to sort the problem out and as yet I haven’t manage to fathom out the operation that causes the sudden slow down. Computers are so good when they’re working - so frustrating when they’re not.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Still a little warmth in the sun

It was our first frosty morning of the autumn on Thursday. The grass was white with frost and the greenhouse glass was frosted. The overnight low had dropped to 2.8°C.
There was a good deal of sunshine in the afternoon and it was pleasant on the plot as the sunshine still has some warmth left in it. It was more tidying up on the plot. We decided to cut down our dahlias which had survived the frost without damage. The soil is still dry and could easily be knocked off the roots. These were placed upside down in the greenhouse to dry off. Just how best to protect them over winter is still to be decided but I think some straw is probably going to be our preferred method.
As beds are gradually cleared of their summer crops the flowers in more permanently planted areas around the fruit trees are still full of flower or have attractive seed heads which will be left for the birds to feed on over winter.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Just a memory now

Wednesday gave us our coldest day of the month. That warm start to October is just a memory now as an autumnal chill has kicked in. The average temperature for the 1st of October was 19°C but today we could only manage a maximum of 11.2°C. 

Our average temperature for Wednesday finished at just 7.2°C. The forecast is for a frost Thursday morning with the cooler weather remaining until the weekend.

With frost anticipated it’s probably time for us to pick our medlars the last of our tree fruit for the year. They will need to be bletted, a technique we have still to master. Bletted to me is just before the fruits begin to rot completely and it’s a fine line between bletted and rotten. I’m sure we ended up with rotten last year.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pear damage

Tuesday was a windy day with a good deal of sunshine but frequent squally showers throughout a cold day.

I thought I'd managed to pick all our pears, but as I found out that wasn't the case, as the gale force winds managed to blow a pear off the tree and straight through a pane of glass in the greenhouse. The hole in the glass is where you can see out. I didn't realise how dirty the glass had become. Another job to add to that never ending list.
It's not the first time this has happened and it just goes to show it's a really bad idea to have a pear tree overhanging the greenhouse. Fortunately the breaking glass didn't do any damage in the greenhouse as it fell on some benching that we are clearing for winter.
I'll be looking to replace the pane with plastic. I've just got to find somewhere that will cut it to size.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

A mixed bag

Monday was a day of all sorts. We had some brief glimpses of sunshine amongst the cloudy spells and then in the early evening a strong wind picked up and we had a little rain.

The amount of rainfall was only 2.0mm so after a rather wet start to October we are now below average for the month yet again. With the sudden drop in temperature, strong gusty wind and rain it was a pretty unpleasant evening.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Cooler nights

The last few nights have been pretty chilly, a reminder that it’s the middle of October, and those warm un -seasonal days at the start of the month are now just a memory. To give our fig a fighting chance this winter as it’s just started to come into leaf we've moved it into the greenhouse for some extra protection. Our fig tree has had a most peculiar growing year, a full description of its struggles can be found under “dead or alive”.
The last few cooler days look to have put an end to our record warm October and the daily averages temperatures are now below the record breaking levels of 2001.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

We’ve got soil back

On Saturday two things made a very welcome return. Firstly the sun shone all day after a week hidden behind clouds and after a chilly start it warmed up quite nicely in the afternoon sunshine.

Secondly we have soil back at the allotment. After our dry spring and summer our soil was more like dusty concrete than soil. Now after last week’s rain it suddenly breaks up into a dark tilth when dug. Even the grass paths have a spongy feel to them now they’ve received some rain.

At last it was possible to dig over beds as we cleared our summer crops off them. We managed to plant our remaining garlic cloves in the plot and plant some peas (Meteor) to see if we have any success at over wintering them to achieve an extra early crop next year. They can’t really do much worse then some of our summer crops which failed to produce any peas at all.

In the flower bed adjacent to our shed we’ve planted some wallflowers to give some colour and perfume in spring time next year. Details of all our October plantings can be found on our web site by clicking here.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

It’s gone

Friday was another overcast day until late into the afternoon when the cloud started to break up and some blue sky appeared. The clear sky remained into the evening and the temperature fell away rapidly and was down to just over 6°C at midnight. Over night the temperature fell to 2.5°C giving a cold start to Saturday.

In the pond our water hawthorn produced a last flower of the season before the pond goes into its winter hibernation.

We also started planting our new garlic cloves. Some have been started in pots and tubs to grow at home and the remaining cloves will be planted at the allotment. Full details are on our October planting list.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Better late than never

It was a little brighter for a short time on Thursday afternoon but not really much different to the gloomy past few days.

At last our Tequila Sunrise peppers have started to turn yellow. They’re many weeks, later than our first Jimmy Nardello’s which were picked on 4th September. At least we’ll have a few yellow peppers to try.

Is it a bad year for yellow as our tomato Blondkopfchen was also very late producing. Early in the season many of the flowers on this small fruiting variety didn’t set but some of the later trusses set pretty well as this bunch below shows.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Continuing dull and wet

We’re just not used to this after our rain free summer. Gloomy again on Wednesday with more rain on and off through the day.
Wednesday became the eighth rainy day in a row although the amounts of rain for any one day have never been great. It does mean that the monthly average rainfall is just about on target to be met which seems a bit at odds with the dull, overcast and rainy weather we’ve had over the last week and a bit. 
On the chart the dark blue line shows the rainfall expected as the month progresses and the light blue line the actual cumulative total.
Surprising with all this overcast weather it’s not been a cold start to October. After our exceptionally warm start to the month temperatures are still above those recorded for our warmest October on record which was in 2006.

At the moment there doesn’t seem to be any exceptionally cold weather forecast in our part of the world during the next week we’ll just have to wait and see.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A frog in the tank.

Tuesday continued the gloomy and overcast weather with a little more drizzle in the morning. The afternoon was dry and overcast. Despite the gloomy weather the temperatures remain just a little above average. 

I noticed that the outflow from the pond filter had been reduced to a meagre trickle. I haven’t covered the pond so I guessed it was probably leaves or even the little fruits from our crab apple tree causing a blockage in some part of the filter.
Once the blockage was removed I decided to clean out the rest of the filter. To my surprise as I was emptying water out of one of the filtration tanks a little head bobbed up to greet me.
I’ve got no idea how this frog got into the filter tank but it’s not the first time it’s happened. I took him out of the tank and placed him on the pond wall where he quickly took a mighty leap into the pond and disappeared, appearing none the worse for his adventure. I've no idea by the way whether it was an him or an her.
The frog was in the tank on the right. I removed the brushes for cleaning, it was then as I emptied the water that I found the frog. Before anyone has any really awful thoughts it’s not possible for the poor frog to have been pumped out of the pond and through the filter system. There’s a filter on the pump and a venturi  in the system with a width of just a few millimetres where incidentally the blockage had occurred. This frog must have done some serious mountaineering.
 Blockage sorted and frog rescued my pond filter was restored to full working order.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Another miserable day

Monday continued in the same vein as the last few days giving us another cloudy day with outbreaks of light rain or drizzle throughout the day.

The rain was pretty consistent all day, never really becoming heavy but after our long dry spell it’s very welcome. It’s now a week since we had a dry day but strangely we are still below the average value for the 11th day of the month.

Whilst the above little chart doesn’t show any rain on Tuesday that’s because it only updates at midnight. We’ve managed 0.8mm so far on Tuesday and it’s forecast to be like this all day. It must be doing the garden and plot some good even if it keeps us inside.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Slipping into winter mode

Saturday and Sunday were both miserable days remaining cloudy with outbreaks of light rain on and off throughout Saturday. Sunday was drier and milder but once again the clouds never lifted all day.

At least the rain of the last few days should mean that our recently planted winter onions should be able to manage without any watering. It’s not that we’ve had much rain but with the dull overhead conditions the top layer of soil won’t be drying out too quickly.

The plot has suddenly gone from that plentiful supply of summer and early autumn into a much more conservative mode. Crops are suddenly starting to grow much slower. I thought a few days ago these broccoli, Green Magic, would be ready for the pot by now. 

That’s what would happen in the height of summer but not now, their progress is much slower. Something to look forward for next week perhaps.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Major clearing starts

Some decent sunny spells today tempted us down to the plot. The gales of yesterday had abated and in the sunshine it was pleasant with temperatures around average for early October.
On the plot it was time to start major tiding up before the onset of any prolonged bad weather. Our greenhouse was cleared of its tomato crop and the haulms consigned to the ever mounting compost heap. The runner bean wigwams were taken down and the canes stored in the greenhouse to keep the worst of the winter weather off them and prolong their useful life.
And finally the most important task of the day was to harvest out remaining quinces before they were either blown off the tree and bruised as they hit the ground or frosted.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Surprisingly tasty quinces

I must have upset someone yesterday suggesting that October might set record high temperatures. Wednesday's minimum temperature 13.4°C turned out to be Thursday’s maximum. 

It was even windier than the last few days especially when the squally showers arrived at various times throughout the day. The showers gave us 5.8mm of rainfall which I think will be enough to water in our newly planted autumn onions.

Earlier in the week we had picked our first two quinces, Meeches Prolific, and these were made into a quince and apple crumble today. 
I didn't hold out much hope when I peeled the skin of the hard pear shaped fruit. The centre of the fruit was hard and nutty making it difficult to cut out. Cooked with a little sugar and a drop of water they soon softened giving off a wonderful sweet smell and what’s more they tasted really good too. You can read more about our quince tree on Susan's blog soon.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Mild and Windy

After yesterdays plunge into October it was mild again today but it was still blowing a gale. The strength of the wind was stronger today than either Monday or Tuesday. A few showers gave us just under one millimetre of rain, an amount which is no good at all for the garden with the gale force wind drying up the ground even more.
I know it’s very early in the month but as this amazingly mild start to October continues I wonder if we might just make a monthly high average temperature for October having already set the highest daily temperature. 

I reckon at this stage of the month we are well above the highest monthly average for the warmest October on record set in 2001. In that year the average monthly temperature by the 5th of the month was 14.68°C and this year it’s 16.90°C well above 2001 but of course there’s still a long time to go.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

It might be October

After the last week Tuesday was a shock to the system and a reminder it’s October. The wind was still strong but its mild Monday feel had disappeared and it took on a cold edge. The temperature managed the mid teens rather than the mid twenties. October had definitely arrived.
After our day out on Monday we thought a visit to the plot to plant our winter onions would be a good idea. The ground is very dry, the hot weather and winds of the last week have totally dried out any moisture remaining in the soil. The four different varieties have each been given a row of their own and sufficient space left between each bulb to allow for weeding. This seemed to work well for our summer onions so we’re hoping it will work just as well for our winter ones. Rain is forecast for Thursday but I somehow have the feeling I'll be watering these onions by the weekend.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

On a go slow

There was no blog posted yesterday (for Sunday’s weather) as my computer had decided to have a long weekend and was operating on a very go slow. Each click of the mouse demanded a patient wait while the little blue circle whirled and nothing at all happened. After a few re-boots something sorted itself out and normal service was restored.

Sunday’s weather was a little bit disappointing following several days of absolutely glorious conditions it turned out to be an overcast day with the clouds just thick enough to give a little drizzle at times.

Our winter onions for storing have all been tidied up and placed in the greenhouse. They may need some extra protection when the colder weather arrive but for the moment they should be fine.
Monday was a much better day although it was windy in the afternoon. It was still very mild for October with a high temperature of 25.3°C. The night time low fell to only 13.4°C giving us an average temperature of 18.7°C, ridiculously high for October.

We decided to make the most of the weather and visited the RSPB Reserve at Blacktoft Sands. 
This reserve is situated almost at the confluence of the Rivers Humber and Trent. The land is very flat and the wind was even stronger here.