Thursday, 28 February 2013

Thought So

The cold dull weather continued through Monday and Tuesday but then, on Wednesday everything changed, well almost everything.the temperature still remained cold but the sun came out to brighten things up and give us hope that spring is on the way.

As I thought earlier in the week the little bit of sunshine brought out the snowdrops which seemed to have been in bud and ready to come out for a couple of weeks now.

The clear skies lasted over night into Thursday giving a sharp frost and a beautiful sunny start to Thursday.

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

Monday, 25 February 2013

Winter’s Holding On

There was no let up in the dull cold weather over the weekend. We did have just the briefest glimpse of the sun on Sunday and although the temperature only managed 4.3°C it was the highest since Tuesday 19 February.

Sadly the forecast for the week doesn't hold out for much of an improvement. Although the temperature may get a little warmer by the end of the week it’s well below expected as we move into March and meteorological spring.

Gardening will be on hold again this week as it’s probable that more harm than good will be done trying to cultivate wet soggy soil. On the positive side our spring bulbs are continuing to make slow progress and I think the cold conditions are probably extending the flowering period of  Katharine Hodgkin.

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

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Everything On Hold

The bright sunny weather didn't last and as forecast the last three days have been dull, cold and miserable. The temperature has just about managed to scrape above 0°C during the day but it’s felt extra cold in a bitingly cold east wind.

It means that all gardening tasks have gone on hold until some better days arrive. Fortunately the weather has been dry even though it’s been dull and cloudy. So far we haven’t had a great deal of rain in February so hopefully the soil down on the plot will be drying out a little. 
This chart from my weather station gives an approximation of how much drying out might be going on. ET (mm) isn't my own extra terrestrial but a measure of how much evaporation has taken place from the ground in general. As you can see so far this month we've had 34.2mm of rain and 11.7mm of that is estimated to have evaporated. I’m presuming that as we've had more rainfall than evaporation it’s why the soil on our plot is still wet and tacky. It’s the same story for the year with 83mm of rainfall and only 21.6mm lost to evaporation.

I’m sure some of our early spring bulbs have decided to wait for better weather. A couple of weeks ago I thought our snowdrops would be in flower but they seemed have been in a state of bud ever since then.
I’m sure that once they get a little bit of sunshine and some warmer days they’ll be bursting into bloom.

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

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Spring For A Couple of Days

The last few days have been really superb lulling us into a false sense that spring has arrived. We've had plenty of sunshine and very little breeze so although the temperature hasn't managed double figures it’s felt mild especially in the sun. Apparently all is going to change from Wednesday onwards as we get cold dull weather back again. 

This robin certainly thinks spring in here as it’s been singing its heart out from the top of our crab apple tree for the last couple of days. Even when we've been out in the garden he hasn't been deterred keeping up his song to attract a mate.

Making the most of the weather I managed to clear some space in the greenhouse whilst Sue planted some onion and shallot sets into modules to get them started. It may be several weeks before conditions improve enough on the plot to get the ground prepared and left to their own devices in net bags the sets will start to shoot in any case. It goes to reason then that they might as well gets some roots down into a little bit of compost and be planted out when conditions are more favourable. 
At the moment Sue has planted up one tray each of onions Sturon, Red Karmen, Rumba and Stuttgart together with 2 trays each of shallots Golden Gourmet and Red Sun. Once some more space is cleared in the greenhouse some more onions may given an early start.

It was around this date last year when we sowed our celery Victoria F1 and celeriac Giant Prague seeds. All seemed to go pretty well until the seedling eventually got transplanted into the plot. Once there they seemed to grow very slowly and neither produced any worthwhile crop. To be honest they didn't produce any crop at all. We've had a good few attempts to grow these two crops and never had any success. Not to be deterred we’re having yet another go this year. We will try to grow them a little differently to last year but at the moment our technique for this year has yet to be decided.
At the same time our free onion seeds Bedfordshire Champion have been sown to see how these compare with those grown from sets. Celery, celeriac and onion seeds have all been placed under our indoor growlight to give them the best possible start to life. Just a small stick of celery and a celeriac bigger than a walnut would be something of an improvement for us. We can but try.

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

Monday, 18 February 2013

Chitting Potatoes

Sunday was another sunny day, that’s two in a row, we will be getting spoilt.

As the sun lifted the greenhouse temperature to around the 20°C I decided to move our seed potatoes out of the garage and set them to chit in the greenhouse. The potatoes have survived a month in the garage without any problems and it possible to just see the first signs of tiny shoots on some of the earlier varieties.

The tubers were set out in seed trays with the sprouting end uppermost. 
I’m hoping that all my labelling stays in place because there is nothing worse than finding labels have gone missing at planting time. It’s the first time we've had seed potatoes from JBA Potatoes and these look to be of really good quality.
Once all the varieties were set out the trays were placed on the greenhouse shelving for the chits to form. All the trays were covered with a couple of layers of fleece to give some protection from frost.
Hopefully the tubers shouldn't need any more attention until they’re planted out in the first few weeks of April. 
This is our full list of potato varieties for this year which consists mostly of tried and tested varieties along a few new types to us just to see if we can find better tasting and higher yielding varieties than the ones that have earned their place on our tried and tested list.

DT Brown's potatoes can be found here.

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

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Early Carrots

Saturday produced another nice February day and as we hadn't been down to the plot for over a month due to the weather and problems having our gas main replaced we decided on a visit.

I’m not going to dwell on the fact that our over wintering brassicas have been totally decimated by wood pigeons. The only decision to be made is whether or not to net them now and see if they recover and produce some sort of crop. I had my doubts about our remaining carrots left in the ground to over winter.

All they've had for frost protection is some loose straw around the roots. With all the frost, rain and snow of the last few weeks I wouldn't have been surprised if the carrots underneath had turned to mush.
As you can see we’re not too good at thinning out carrots. Once sown they’re left to get on with it. I suppose thinning out might produce better looking carrots but we only want them for the pot not the show bench.
One thing I discovered digging up these roots was that the soil is far too wet to work as it glued itself to my fork as I dug around the carrots. The carrots looked a bit of a mess when first dug having lots of muddy gooey soil sticking to the roots. 
Once washed they didn't look too bad. They have some slug and carrot root fly damage so there is some wastage on the carrots but these are Early Nantes sown last spring as an early crop which have managed to over winter reasonable well without too much effort from me. They still tasted good when cooked which is one of the reasons for growing your own.

It helped make up a little bit for the disappointment of those devastated brassicas but not completely.

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

Saturday, 16 February 2013


For a while on Friday it felt that spring might just be on the way. Out of the breeze and in the sunshine there was a little bit of warmth in the sun. We couldn't let the opportunity of such a nice day slip by so we paid a visit to one of our favourite RSPB reserves at Old Moor.

Like they usually do on our arrival the star attractions decided to go into hiding but I did manage to get a photograph of a brambling, the first I've ever seen. It’s name suggests to me it ought to be growing on the allotment but in reality it’s a rather pretty little bird. This is a male.

It was rather a long way off so not the best of pictures. The challenge is now to get a much better picture. Unfortunately the weather spoilt itself a little in the afternoon as it clouded over and the light faded quickly making photography a little more tricky.
Of course most of the regulars put in an appearance and we had plenty of pictures to sort through once we got back home. Certainly there were lots of greenfinches making the most of the plentiful supply of food available.

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

Friday, 15 February 2013

Final Potatoes Arrive

Thursday was a massive improvement weather wise. Yesterday’s snow melted overnight as the temperature lifted and we even had a few sunny spells through the day. According to the BBC some places had their warmest February day this year but that wasn't the case for us as we managed a just above average 8.4°C by 13:30.

It didn’t manage to beat the 10.2°C on the 04 February which was rather bizarrely recorded at 03:00.

Our final seed potatoes arrived today from D T Brown. These final two varieties are Vales Emerald which we liked so much last year that we were determined to give it another go and Harmony. This is a new potato to us which we are hoping will provide us with some good size baking potatoes. It’s a Scottish bred early maincrop variety.

Now a milder spell of weather has arrived I think it’s time our seed potatoes came out of the garage and into the greenhouse to start chitting. It’s also time that we planted some onion sets into modules to give them an early start. These will grow on in the greenhouse until space is required for more tender early crops probably some time in April.

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

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Woodpecker Log

The predicted snow arrived on Wednesday but thankfully not in the quantities predicted but enough to have caused temporary traffic chaos locally. It started to snow around lunchtime and continued snowing lightly until darkness fell when it turned to more drizzly rain. The temperature didn't manage to rise much above 1°C all day so the day’s precipitation didn't register on my rain gauge. That should happen tomorrow when much milder weather is forecast. 

It was a good opportunity to try some more bird pictures in the afternoon as our regular’s made most of their stock of food on the bird table and hanging feeders.

This week Sue refilled our empty half coconuts and woodpecker log with home made fat cake. We hoped that the birch log filled with pockets of food would attract our rather reluctant woodpecker, that we only see now and again, into the garden. 
The log has been refilled several times now but we certainly haven’t caught sight of our woodpecker. I did catch one of our numerous blackbirds having a crafty look from the back of the log today with what looks like fat on his beak. I suspect he’s found a way to peck out the fat cake filled holes.
The coconut halves are favourites with the blackbirds and starlings. The blue tits, great tits and robin will happily eat from the coconut if they’re given a chance by the dominant blackbirds and starlings.
With a bit of luck the coconut will last them a couple of days before it needs a refill. If it’s warmer tomorrow I’m sure the birds too will welcome a change in the weather.

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

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Cold and Dull

Tuesday continued the cold and mostly dull theme that the weather is stuck in. 

Wednesday looks a different matter altogether with snow arriving courtesy of a weather system bringing in rain and snow from the west. 
This is the forecast precipitation for the middle of Wednesday afternoon. Will it be rain or snow? The good news is that there is much milder air coming in so any snow should turn quickly to rain and bring the possibility of more normal February temperatures on Thursday.

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

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Early Broad Beans

The last bits of the overnight snow disappeared slowly through the morning amounting to 1.4mm in the rain gauge. It was another cold damp cloudy day as forecast. At least there’s the hope of some milder weather towards the end of the week.

Last year we tried autumn sown peas and they didn't work so this year to be different we decided to try broad beans instead. Rather than plant directly on the plot I decided to sow them in pots and look after them at home where they could be given a bit of winter protection if required.

They were sown on 15 August from a free packet of seeds. I've since decided that this might have been a little bit early but I felt I needed good strong plants to get though winter.

All the early signs were good. The beans, Bunyards Exhibition, soon germinated and grew away well as the plants in the bottom right corner of the picture above shows. This was 18 September and I left the plants in our cold frame with the intention of moving them into the greenhouse if really bad weather threatened. Of course the bad weather came and I didn't give the beans a second thought.
The beans are in a sorry state now after the cold weather. They’re the brown stalks sticking out of the 15 cell module. I don’t think I need leave them to see if they will have a second coming. They've had it and I’ll just start an early crop off in the greenhouse as usual some time towards the end of the month. Maybe I’ll have another go next year but perhaps it’s not really worth the effort to get beans a week or so earlier than we normally do especially as we still have plenty of last year’s crop in the freezer.

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

Monday, 11 February 2013

Didn’t We Do Well

For us at least the forecast of lots of snow on Sunday didn't happen. We had plenty of rain, steady, rather than any heavy downpours amounting to 9.8mm. Late in the evening the rain did turn to wet snow and we did manage a covering. By Monday morning this had mostly disappeared but it still remains cold with temperatures just above freezing. 

These snowdrops are almost out. They weren't photographed in our garden but up in the Yorkshire Dales at Horton in Ribblesdale on Saturday. Our garden snowdrops are a little bit behind these despite their more favoured location. I’m not sure snowdrops are any sign of early or late spring just a sign that spring is on the way.

Just for good measure we've had our gas turned off for the day as our supply network is upgraded. It’s hoped that it will be back on for 16:00 but it’s going to be pretty cold in the house by then. That will be 7 hours with no heating. The current outside temperature 2.5°C.

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

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Rain and Snow

The weather has continued in its dull and cold mood for the last couple of days with temperatures below average for February.

On Saturday we had a visit up into the Yorkshire Dales. It was cold and murky making taking pictures a challenge. There was still some snow about on the tops, well really the middles as we couldn't see the tops for the low cloud. 

With the lower slopes still waterlogged it’s going to be a difficult start for the farmers up there.

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

Friday, 8 February 2013

Keep Off My Sunflower Hearts

Not much to say about the weather. It’s winter and it’s cold and windy.

Around the end of February 2011 we noticed siskins on some of our bird feeders. They were only about for a few days before they disappeared completely. Well we just managed to spot a couple of male birds on the feeders again on Thursday which was certainly earlier in the year than we saw them last time. I wonder if that has any good or bad omens for the weather. There ought to be an old wives tale about when our siskins arrive.
They’re very striking birds but I only just had time to get the video camera into action before one of our regular goldfinches decided it wasn't going to have this newcomer eating its sunflower hearts. It took decisive action as you will see in the video below.

We didn't see the siskins again all day. It would be a real shame if this turned out to be their only visit.
Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Doubts Are Setting In

Tuesday was a poor day with strong winds and scattered snow, hail, sleet and rain showers throughout the day.

I was sorting out some potatoes for the kitchen from last year’s harvest which are kept in the garage. We've still got plenty of potatoes left but as I started to get some out of the top most box I actually noticed a note written on the bottom most box. 
It’s my own “Use By Date Warning” which I've completely forgotten about. I remember some of our Winston potatoes had small holes in them but as they were big specimens I decided there was plenty of usable potato to go at despite the holes. They would just need using up quickly as they wouldn't keep over winter. Well we’re always told not to store damage fruit or vegetables.   
My note couldn't have been much plainer. I wondered what sort of mess would greet me if I investigated the condition of these damaged Winston’s stored in this box since last August. I moved all the boxes above and to my surprise the potatoes were still in excellent condition. 
I’d taken a couple of pictures thinking it would be the making of a decent blog post. It was good to get inside out of the cold and damp. Camera hooked up and pictures downloaded. My first reaction was that the spuds had come out a bit of a funny colour but I didn't think that mattered too much. They were never going to win any prizes for quality. 

Only then did I notice, never mine the colour the potatoes are starting to sprout. So I might have to re think leaving my newly arrived seed potatoes in the garage. I’m sure they’ll be alright whilst the temperature remains just above freezing but perhaps once this spell of cold weather breaks I’ll have to get them into the greenhouse to start chitting. 
Copyright: Original post from Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Windy Weather Returns

The gale force winds have returned so the sunny spells were rather wasted as it felt cold in the wind. Once again on Monday the wind speed reached 30mph which is a rarity for us. 
Tuesday morning has started with just the lightest dusting of snow and feeling bitterly cold in the strong wind. Glad I put the seed potatoes in the garage rather than the greenhouse.

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

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Katherine Hodgkin Beats the Snowdrops

The gales at the end of January that continued into February finally abated late on Friday. Saturday wasn't too bad with some sunny spells but a little colder. It’s forecast that the weather will become cold and wintry again from the middle of the week. It seems winter’s not finished with us just yet.

Putting on a spectacular display in the front garden is Katherine Hodgkin. Out before any of the snowdrops it’s another sign that spring and some better gardening weather is on the way. That’s my theory anyway!

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

Friday, 1 February 2013

More Arrivals

Thursday was another day of gale force winds, sunny spells and squally showers.

Following close on the heels of our seeds arriving from Kings Seeds on Tuesday some of our seed potatoes arrived from JBA Potatoes today. It’s the first time we've ordered from this particular supplier and I had wondered about the quality of the potatoes supplied.

They arrived very well packed and the quality of the seed potatoes supplied looks very good. I've now got to decide whether to store the potatoes in the garage for a few weeks where they will be more protected from any keen frosts or set them out in tray to chit in the greenhouse. I’m tending towards the garage for a couple of weeks at least.

Last year’s potatoes moved into the greenhouse at the end of January but in 2011 it was the end of February before they were set out to chit.

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