Friday, 30 November 2012

Cracking Day

Thursday was a lovely early winter’s day with plenty of sunshine even if it was a little on the cold side.

We had a trip to our local RSPB reserve at Fairburn Ings. The frosty weather had lingered into the afternoon in the sheltered spots where the sun hadn't managed to penetrate.
There’s still plenty of evidence of all the recent rainfall around especially in the fields. This is a picture of a farmer’s field near Fairburn and not a picture of an Ing although it could easily be mistaken for one.
The area around the RSPB reserve is low lying and is prone to flooding and the road leading to and from the reserve was still partially flooded.
On the way back home from the reserve the sunset was spectacular.
Whilst we were at the reserve we also had a little time to photograph some birds.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Investment Protection

Wednesday wasn't too bad a day. It was dry, cloudy and cold with the temperature only making it up to 5.8°C.

We’d run out of fresh vegetables at home so a trip down to the plot was required. With freezing temperatures predicted for the weekend I couldn't put off giving our carrots a bit of cold weather protection. We've gone to a fair amount of effort to produce this year’s crop so loosing what we have left to frost damage would be very disappointing. I stopped of at the local farm on my way to the plot to pick up a couple of bales of straw.

The carrot tops haven’t been knocked back by any of the cold weather to date so I’m assuming the carrots underneath are fine.  Before covering them with straw I though it would make sense to dig a few roots.
The ground was wet and claggy but after a wash under the tap these Early Nantes looked in pretty good condition and certainly proved that it was certainly worthwhile providing them with a little protection to make them last as long as possible.
Hopefully with almost a bale of straw spread around the roots they’ll manage to get through all that winter has to offer keeping us supplied with fresh carrots into the new year. I did have a little straw left and this went round a few Boltardy beetroots that are still in the ground.
Next spring the straw will either be dug in or used on the compost heap.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Dry at Least

After rain in the early hours of Tuesday morning the rest of the day was dry. It remained cloudy all day and always threatened more rain but we missed any that fell.
The wind on Wednesday morning is blowing generally from a northerly direction so the milder Atlantic weather is probably on hold for a while.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Tuesday, 27 November 2012


Hopefully after more rain through Monday and into the early hours of Tuesday morning we are now moving into drier colder weather for a time.

We certainly haven’t had the amounts of rain talked about on the news programmes and where all the flooding has occurred. We've had 59.6mm of rain from last Wednesday to 10:00 Tuesday morning. Our average rainfall for November is around 64mm so we've had a month’s rainfall in the last week. Up to last Wednesday November had been a little on the dry side.

We must have either failed to put enough crocks in one of our tubs of bulbs or the drainage has simply become blocked but the week’s rain has converted it into a mini pond.
I don’t suppose it will be doing the bulbs any good so I might have to investigate and see if I can unblock the drainage holes.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Monday, 26 November 2012

Better than Expected

After the overnight rain it turned out dry through the daytime on Sunday. We didn't get as much rain as the forecast had suggested. It was blustery all day with a temperature of 8.4°C which is about what we can expect for late November. 
Through the afternoon we had some sunny spells but the rain returned around 21:00 with light rain falling into the early hours of Monday morning. Another 6.0mm to add to this month’ growing total which has now amounted to 78.0mm.

The forecasts now seem rather certain of a colder spell of weather towards the end of the week but there seems to be a great deal of uncertainty as to whether or not the cold spell will continue for some days or be replaced by a return to milder more unsettled weather.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Sunday, 25 November 2012


A few days ago November was looking like being a relatively dry month but the last few days has changed all that. After a cold Saturday morning and afternoon the rain started to fall steadily from early evening and went on well into the early hours of Sunday morning.

The total rainfall from 11:00 Saturday to 11:00 Sunday was 24.6mm which would rank as the 6th wettest day had in not straddled over 2 days. I image any further allotmenting apart from visits to harvest a few winter vegetables will be off the agenda for a few weeks.

It does look at the minute like the weather will be turning much colder and dryer from the middle of next week.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Sunny then Frosty

Friday was a pleasant mild sunny day without any rain or strong winds but the penalty was the coldest night of autumn so far with the thermometer down to -0.5°C early on Saturday morning.
It’s the first time our bird bath has iced over trapping in some of the leaves that fell in the strong winds. I might just have to tip in some warm water and remove the leaves. 

The forecast is for more wind and rain tonight and into Sunday so it’s only a short cold snap.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Friday, 23 November 2012

The weather throughout Britain was atrocious on Thursday but fortunately we missed the worst of it. We only had a small amount of rain and it was windy but nothing too exceptional. 

Our rainfall for the day was 3.4mm bringing our total for the month up to 44.6mm around the expected amount for November. It wasn't the windiest day of the month here either with the highest gust speed recorded as 21mph compared with 24mph on the 07 November.

The forecast is for more gales and rain over the weekend. I wonder if we can be lucky for a second time?

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Deja Vu

On Tuesday we managed the mildest temperature this month then quickly followed that with the wettest day of the month on Wednesday. That mildest temperature was 15.1°C well above expected for late November and the rain gauge notched up 13.4mm for the day. I’d like to think that will remain the wettest day of November but the forecast is for lots more rain and gale force winds over the next few days.

The rain has certainly brought down a lot more leaves from our magnolia tree. The path alongside the house was once again covered in leaves.

When the rain stopped on Wednesday afternoon I decided to sweep up the leaves and continue my black bag leaf composting trial as recommended by Monty Don on Gardener’s World. I’d got some sound advice from Liz who’d tried this method, not too successfully, and found that normal plastic bags start to break down before the leaves. So Liz recommended using old compost bags which are considerably stronger instead.

The newly fallen leaves were swept up and along with the contents of the previous plastic bag all added into an old compost bag. With a good shake the leaves settled enough to allow the top of the bag to be tied up. A few drainage holes were made and it contents left to produce some (hopefully) magical compost.
On the garden, beneath the magnolia tree, there’s still an amazing covering of leaves. These will all be left where they are to break down in their own time and improve the soil in this area of the garden. The wildlife will enjoy foraging amongst them through winter. I did remove the leaves from the bird bath to leave enough space for the birds to actually have a bath.  

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Look How Many Birds We've Lost

The last couple of days haven’t been too bad. Sunday was much sunnier that Monday. There was a strongish breeze on Monday and the temperature, rather oddly, steadily increased throughout the day.

I saw this report about how many birds we have lost since 1966 and thought it was worth a closer look.
Click here or on Image to read more
I’ll start checking out our common garden birds just to see how they’re doing in the league tables of winners and losers. By far the easiest birds to start with in our garden are the goldfinches as they’re so easy to photograph happily feeding from the sunflower hearts just outside the window.

These brightly coloured little finches help themselves to sunflower hearts every day. The feeder is set to allow a maximum of three goldfinches at a time to stop the sparrows taking too much advantage.

So how are these little birds doing. Well the answer from the report is not too badly. In the period between 1970 and 2010 their population was up by 1.24 but conversely in the shorter term between 1995 and 2010 their population has decreased by a factor of 0.91. So I’d better keep on supplying them with sunflower hearts.

Their estimated population in Britain in 2009 was 1,200,000. Three years ago it was a rarity for us to see any goldfinches in the garden but since then a steady supply of niger seed and sunflower hearts has attracted them and now they are regular visitors.

You can download the full report from the RSPB’s web site here.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Sunday, 18 November 2012

A Trip to Cumbria

Friday wasn't too bad a day with a little sunshine now and again until the rain arrived early in the evening and continued into the early hours of Saturday morning. We’d decided on a trip to Cumbria for Saturday and we didn't let the wet start to Saturday morning put us off.
The forecast was for an improvement in the weather so we were hopeful the rain would be clear of Cumbria by the time we arrived. Much of the journey north up the A1 was wet but as we started to head west the weather started to improve.

The late morning and afternoon were pretty good with some nice sunny spells but it certainly felt cold when the sun disappeared behind the clouds. 
That bit further north and the trees have shed virtually all their leaves now unless they’re nestled in a sheltered spot out of the wind. All too soon the light starts to fade and the chance of more photographs goes with it.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Friday, 16 November 2012

Had to Have A Go

I saw Monty Don collecting leaves to make compost on TV last week. We don’t have leaves in anything like the same amount as he has but he suggested using a plastic bag to compost smaller quantities.

As it turned out to be a mild afternoon with some sunny spells I thought I’d sweep up the leaves that had fallen from the magnolia tree as they get really slippery on the path when they become wet.
Once swept into a pile the amount looked a little more promising. These were all transferred to a large black plastic bag given a good watering as they were on the dry side. As recommended a few hole were punctured through the bag before it was tied up to be left for the leaves to break down and form a rich crumbly compost. That’s the theory the practice might turn out to be something quite different.
The leaves that fall on the garden border will be left as they fall for the benefit of all the wildlife through winter.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Blasted Wood Pigeons

Wednesday was another nondescript sort of a day. The mild spell continued but it was cloudy all day and always suggested it could pour down at any time.

I decided it was worth risking a visit to the plot to finish repairing the felt on the shed roof. At least it was mild and provided we didn't get any rain I reckoned the flashband I was using to repair the felt would at least have a chance of sticking. Once finished it didn't look too bad. The final testing will come after the next heavy rain.
Having finished the shed roof I was planning to head home, but as you do, I decided to have a look around the plot. Not that there’s much to inspect in mid November as nothing is growing only sort of existing and preparing to get through winter. It was a good job I did have a quick look around though.

On the 03 November when we removed the netting from our brassicas including our spring cabbage. We reasoned it was too large for the wood pigeons to have a go at and that there certainly wouldn't be anymore butterflies about. I sort of did a double take, slug damage on the outer leaves I expect, especially with the current spell of mild weather, but the wood pigeons had been attacking the newly formed hearts of the cabbages. Something that hasn't happened before.
So before I left the netting removed a week or so ago was put back in place. I think the cabbage hearts will recover but it’s a blow after they've grown so well to have them damaged by pigeons when it could so easily have been avoided. 
Fortunately I hadn't removed all the timber supports or even moved the odds and ends that had previously held the netting in place so it was a pretty quick job to put the netting back. 

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bonsaied Gunnera

After a cold start to November the last few days have been mild. We haven’t had any sunshine for the last couple of days and we had a drop of rain on Monday but the weather hasn't been too bad for mid November.

I've still to decide what to do with our potted gunnera. Our old plant was excavated and removed as part of the project to install our new summerhouse. To all intents and purposes I thought the gunnera would be no more as it was hacked at with spade and pick axe to remove it from its pond side location. It had been growing in the same location for several years and had formed into a mammoth plant.
In winter the leaves turn brown and die back just leaving an enormous crown and “new buds” for the following year. When I dug out the gunnera back in spring I couldn't resist the temptation to keep one or two pieces that I thought might grow and go on to form new plants. These pieces were potted up and left near the pond to see if they would grow.
In fact they've grown well in pots through summer. I guess they've had plenty of water, something gunnera’s can’t do without. As you can just about see here is a new red “bud” ready for next spring. I’ll have to decide how to give the plant a little bit of protection from the worst of the winter weather. Maybe I’ll leave the plant outside and protect it with some fleece around the bud and bubble wrap around the root. I don’t want the plant to get “soft” by over wintering it in the greenhouse.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Monday, 12 November 2012

Repair Under Way

Sunday turned out to be a nice day with some decent sunny spells, feeling mild in the late autumn sunshine.

On the plot it was a case of repairing the shed roof. It would have been finished if I hadn't have run out of materials. I reckon a good patching job should see the roofing felt last a few more years. Another dry day should see the job complete.

We didn't spend too long at the plot as it seemed to be the chosen spot for a particularly heavy shower. It left everywhere soaked so we decided to return home where it turned out it hadn't rained at all.

I harvested a few Early Nantes carrots. These are the first carrots lifted that haven’t been grown under weed suppressant membrane although they were protected from carrot fly by environmesh.  

After a quick wash under he tap they looked good enough to eat. In general they were a bit small because they hadn't been thinned out. One very large specimen had split and was consigned to the compost heap the rest were fine with no damage from slugs or carrot fly. 

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Sunday, 11 November 2012

When Will Bonfire Night End

The clue should be in the name Bonfire Night and it should take place on November 05. Long ago that was the case unless November 05 fell on a Sunday in which case Bonfire Night took place on Saturday night. That was it just one night. Not these days though. Last weekend we had bonfires and fireworks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. It’s been a case of sporadic fireworks going off each night through the week with more bonfires and fireworks on Saturday night the 10 November. Our poor dog can’t rest as all fireworks now seem to come with loud bangs and crackles. Perhaps we’ll be able to get through Remembrance Sunday without anyone letting off fireworks. 

We still have our annual challenge of when to pick and what to do with our medlars.

They’re still waiting to be picked from the small tree in the garden. They are still very firm to the touch so I don’t think they've “bletted” yet. If only I could tell the difference between fruits that have bletted and those that have rotted. The Royal Horticultural Society has this on its web site regarding medlars.
Medlars are ready to pick in late October or early November when they are about 2.5-5 cm (1-2 in) across. At this stage they are not fully ripe.
You can leave fruit on the tree well into autumn to develop flavour provided there is no danger of frosts. Pick in dry conditions when the stalk parts easily from the tree. 

Storage until ripe
The fruits are unpalatable immediately after picking, but can be used to pleasantly flavoured jellies, can be used in desserts and for wine-making. To be eaten raw they must be stored before using.
Briefly dip the stalks in a strong salt solution to prevent rotting. Store fruit eye downwards and not touching in trays in a cool, dark, frost-free place. Use when the fruit is ‘bletted’, that is, the flesh softens and turns brown, but not rotten. This will usually take about two or three weeks. 

I might leave them on the tree for another week as the forecast isn't for any keen frosts in the next week. Maybe I’ll try them “unbletted “ with some apples in a pie.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Weather Winners and Looser's - So Far

The milder weather continued on Friday but it remained mostly dull and cloudy all day with some light rain starting in the late afternoon.

A winner in our garden at the moment is our banana plantation. Although we've had a few frosts with the temperature getting to fractionally below 0°C our plantation remains intact in the late autumn weather.

So I think it’s fair to say our bananas are winning at the moment but it will just take one hard frost and they’ll become green mush.

On the plot our shed is the loser. The wind this week has been strong enough to rip the felt off the roof. It’s not ripped completely off but certainly needs some repair work.
Fortunately the damage was spotted by our neighbouring plotter Joe who was good enough to make a temporary repair by putting the felt back and adding some well positioned bricks on the roof to hold the felt in place.

That’s what I consider being a good neighbour - Thanks Joe

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Friday, 9 November 2012

Last Tomatoes Harvested

The milder weather continued through Wednesday and Thursday with the daytime temperature just managing to reach double figures and remaining mild over night with the frost having disappeared for the time being.
I decided it was about time I harvested the remaining tomatoes from our home greenhouse. The ones in the plot greenhouse were finished weeks ago but at home the tomatoes have taken much longer to ripen.
Not too bad a harvest for the beginning of November. You may spot our entire sweet pepper harvest, consisting of two Jimmy Nardello’s, amongst the tomatoes. That large Amish Gold should make an excellent couple of sandwiches. I guess after that very cold start to the season our tomatoes haven’t done too badly. At one time I was doubtful about getting any tomatoes at all as the plants just refused to grow in the cold spring weather. 

The table below summarises how our six varieties cropped .

Taste wise of the six I found Jakarta a little disappointing but perhaps it just didn't appreciate the cool conditions. Gardener’s Delight and Amish Gold produced the tastiest tomatoes with Alicante and Moneymaker just a little way behind. All were better than the watery tasteless supermarket varieties. The San Marzano’s have all gone into producing tomato sauce for use over winter so the taste test hasn't really been checked just yet. 

I’d certainly grow the same varieties again next year although I might consider an alternative to Jakarta if something catches my eye in the seed catalogues.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Cold then Wet

Monday was a cold sunny day and it tempted us into the garden to do a little bit of planting and some tidying up. The weather changed during Monday night as rain moved in to make Tuesday a wet and windy day but much milder.

It gave me chance to pot up our new apple tree Baya Marissa. Sue has more about this apple tree on her blog here. The plan is it will spend the worst of winter in the greenhouse before being moved outside once the weather improves in early spring. The plan at the moment is that it will be moved into a larger pot and grow along side our other “pot” fruit at home rather than be planted in the plot. 

I’m undecided as the whether it should go into a bigger conventional type of pot or be planted into a large air pot like our new cherry tree. I've got all winter to make up my mind.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Monday, 5 November 2012

Carrot test results

Saturday morning was the first time my thermometer had fallen below 0°C this autumn. It was only just below as it fell to -0.1°C. It remained dull and cloudy for most of the day with just a hint of some sunshine in the early afternoon. Sunday morning much the same down to -0.2°C and remaining dull and cold all day with the thermometer not managing to make it to 4°C.
The last time we visited the plot I dug up some Autumn King carrots. I've now lifted some of all four varieties that we've grown this year. Regular followers will be aware that after a complete crop failure in 2011 we tried everything we could this year to produce a decent crop of carrots which we consider an essential part of our winter root vegetables. There’s information here about the methods used to grow our four different varieties this year.
From a growing perspective all the varieties have performed well producing good size carrots. Protection from seed sowing until September with environmesh has been extremely effect at keeping the dreaded carrot fly at bay and so far all the roots have been unaffected. One of my main concerns was that using weed control fabric would provide a breeding ground for slugs and snails resulting in lots of damaged roots. This doesn't seem to have happened and considering all the rain this summer, conditions must have been ideal for hose pesky molluscs. There has been a little slug damage mostly to the Early Nantes roots, the remaining varieties that have been lifted damage free so far.

As for taste the only disappointing variety has been Flakkee with not such an intense carroty flavour as the other three varieties. I will probably grow four varieties again next year introducing another variety to replace Flakkee.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Turned Out Cold and Wet on the North Yorkshire Moors

We headed off for the North Yorkshire Moors as the forecast was for a decent day with some sunny spells. As we turned off the main road between Pickering and Whitby there were excellent views over the town and out over the sea.
This was around lunch time and although it was cold it was a beautiful sunny day. It didn’t last much longer as the clouds rolled in and the sun did a disappearing act. By the time we reached the same vantage point a couple of hours later the view looked like this.
Difficult now to distinguish between sea and sky as the rain set in.
We also had one of those SAT NAV moments. We were exploring the Esk Valley and I was expecting some narrow roads but this "ford" was a little bit too deep to risk.
Judging by the depth marker the water was around 2 feet deep somewhere around the middle of the river which was running pretty swiftly. To be fair an earlier road sign had warned of a deep ford ahead but who takes notice of every road sign. Better safe than sorry it just meant reversing back up the road to turn round.
Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Friday, 2 November 2012

Winter Vegetables to the Fore

Thursday began November with yet another cool and cloudy day with temperatures below average for the start of the month.

We made our first visit to the plot for just over a week as we'd run out of fresh vegetables and Sue had some wallflowers and tulips to plant. I thought it was about time to try some of our Autumn King carrots. As I lifted them out of the soil, these looked like good carrots. The ground remains very wet and the carrots needed a wash to reveal their true conditions. No carrot fly and no slug damage so just the flavour test remains.
Whilst in testing mode I lifted the first of this year's parsnips, Gladiator, and they too after a quick wash looked to have produced some decent sized roots for winter. The cauliflowers are probably the last of this year's crop although I left a couple of small plants in the ground to see if they will eventually grow to produce a head. The cabbages too are the first of our autumn variety Kilaton. Our summer crop of Golden Acre are  now finished.

To finish off my experimental visit I lifted a couple of our celeriac roots. It's stretching the imagination a little to call them roots. They look as though they need potting on for next year. A complete failure again so I'll have to try something different and see if I can do better next year.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Could Have Guessed

Wednesday finished off October and just like the majority of days this month it was cool and cloudy with some rain in the evening.

For us October hasn't been particularly wet with rainfall for the month around 75% of that expected but we may well be the exception with many other locations receiving well above their average monthly rainfall. The main feature has been the cool temperatures throughout the month with the final average of 8.9°C making it the coldest October since 1992. We've also had a distinct lack of sunshine with less sunshine than the previous two Octobers. The same can be said for June through to September.
This summer’s certainly been a major disappointment. After that brilliant start in March and a sunny May thoughts were of a great growing year but in the end it turned out to be a difficult and challenging season.

Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrettt