Friday, 31 May 2013

Starlinglings Today

Thursday was an improving sort of a day with the rain of the last few days clearing away at last. It remained cool though with the temperature only reaching a high of 13.8°C.

There’s talk about how cold our spring has been this year. Here are my unofficial figures with only one more day to go. The 3 month average for March, April and May won’t change much with the addition of a single day.

By my reckoning that makes it the coldest spring since 1962. No wonder then that everything in the garden is late.

The starling fledglings arrived at the bird table today. As soon as they arrive their squawking can be heard as they demand feeding.  
There wasn't enough space on our bird table for the whole brood and some waited rather impatiently in the magnolia tree for their turn. 
I've still to see any blackbird, robin or blue tit fledglings. I'm sure they've all got nests nearby so it should just be a matter of time. 

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

Thursday, 30 May 2013


Wednesday was a repeat of yesterday but with more rain. It’s definitely not gardening weather.

Timescale Midnight Tuesday 28 May to Midnight Thursday 30 May at 10:00am on 30 May
The rain might have put gardening on hold but it hasn't stopped the sparrows bringing their fledglings into the garden. We had a whole flock feeding and drinking today.
Always so inquisitive this one had already managed to find a drink although the bird bath was in need of a refill. Some looked rather more unsure about the great outside world.
As the weather’s still not very good the challenge today might be to capture some young starlings. Unless of course we have an unusual visitor into the garden.

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

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

A Year On

Tuesday wasn't a very pleasant day with rain on and off all day. It was only light rain amounting to 3.6mm for the day.

Last year 28 May 2012 was our hottest day of the year with the thermometer reaching 28°C a far cry from yesterday’s high of just 13.9°C. The temperature comparisons are shown below.
Funny isn't it because I thought last year was pretty bad but this year is even worse. It’s only a couple of days before summer starts meteorologically speaking.

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

Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Another pleasant day although it did cloud over late in the afternoon.

On the plot our cardoons are looking really good. The old flower stalks from last year were removed and the bed was dug over ready to be planted up with sweet peas in a few days time.

I need to get the paths strimmed and the edges of the bed tidied to finish off the job.

Sue was busy weeding around our carrots and parsnips which have germinated well. Even though we’d used  weed control fabric some weeds had grown in the compost drills in which the carrots were sown.
Now all the competition has been removed we’re hoping that the carrots and parsnips will grow on with a minimum amount of attention. The best laid plans…….

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

Monday, 27 May 2013

Coconuts and Quinces

Sunday was sunny and warm with the temperature making it to a high of 20.5°C in the afternoon.

On the plot our quince “Meeches Prolific” is living up to its name at least if the flowers are anything to go by. It’s difficult to photograph the tree in all its glory but the picture below shows the branches are absolutely covered in blossom.

This is just a typical branch. It’s obvious that the tree wouldn't be able to support such a weight of quinces should all these flowers set fruit. We’ll have to wait and see what happens and decide then the appropriate course of action.

In the garden, by the pond, we have had a palm tree growing for many years. It began life years ago in a small pot and was moved into the greenhouse to over winter. The plant and pot eventually got so big that we had to take a risk and leave it to stand outside all winter. We needn't have worried as cold weather hasn't stopped it growing. Its now so big we couldn't move it very easily even if we wanted to.  
This year for the first time ever it looks like it’s going to flower. It’s developing enormous buds on the stem. I’m assuming these are flower buds as I've never seen a palm tree in bud. It’s a pity it doesn't produce coconuts. That would be a first for Ossett.

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

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Aberystwyth and The Vale of Rheidol

Saturday was a lovely sunny day which was very fortunate for us as we had booked a day out at Aberystwyth and the Vale of Rheidol in Wales. We let the train take the strain as our specially chartered “Statesman” train picked us up in Leeds and transported us smoothly into mid Wales.

On the way from our train we managed to spot the ospreys of Springwatch fame at RSPB Ynys-hir but sadly no pictures. At Aberystwyth our narrow gauge steam train was waiting to take us up the Vale of Rheidol to Devil’s Bridge. 

The views are absolutely stunning but the vastness is difficult to capture on camera. We even chose the cattle class carriages with open sides to get the best views and camera shots. It was cool and breezy on the train but still a beautiful little excursion.
The steam train ride meant that we had no time left to explore the seaside town of Aberystwyth. It was a long day out with a great deal of travelling but we did gain an albeit too brief view of the stunning Welsh scenery.

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

Saturday, 25 May 2013

First Fledglings

Friday was another cold, wet and windy day. It was more a less a repeat of Thursday. I've seen talk of it being the coldest spring for about 30 years. It just doesn't seem like spring.

The bad weather didn't bother our goldfinches who brought their first fledglings of the year to our sunflower feeder. The youngsters were swaying about violently as the wind blew the rose branch they were perching on.

This youngster was getting his fill even when the branch was swaying about in the gale force wind.
This young bird had to undertake a little bit of wing action to maintain its balance. I wonder who will be next to bring along their brood?

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

Friday, 24 May 2013

Not Playing the Game

Gardening and allotmenting were on hold again today as the weather changed for the worst. Thursday produced the lowest average daily temperature of the month at only 7.1°C. Summer should be on its way but that seemed a long way off today.

We had blustery showers of hail mixed with rain throughout the day and even a few very short spells of sunshine. All in all a pretty poor day for late May and a very different story from 23 May last year which went like this:-
In Search of Perfect Sunshine Trace
Wednesday produced another fantastic day with virtually unbroken sunshine and a new hottest day of the year 25.7°C (78.3°F) beating yesterday by 0.4°C.
The last couple of days have produced almost unbroken sunshine. Tuesday gave 10.2 hours of sunshine according to my weather station and the trace for the day looks like this.
Note: The reference to Tue 22 May is confusing but it is the start point of the chart which in this case is midnight on 22 May through to midnight on the 23 May.
Back in the real world of this spring we've had gale force winds over night and into Friday morning. The temperature hasn't improved much either only 7.4°C at 10:00 a.m. On a positive note the forecast for the Bank Holiday weekend isn't too bad. Roll on summer if this is spring.

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

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Digging & a Visit to Leighton Moss

Not a bad couple of days although we had more sunshine on Wednesday and the temperature both days was only into the mid teens centigrade.

On the plot on Tuesday we got a couple of beds cleared and cultivated. 

This bed will be planted up with more onions, shallots and peas patiently waiting in our cold frame at home.

I also managed to clear, cultivate and plant up with potatoes another bed. It will be interesting to see how these late planted potatoes compare with ones planted at a more traditional date. I’m expecting a good crop just a few weeks later. There’s a mixture of varieties planted so I’m hoping I’ll be able to tell my earlies from maincrop in this bed. 
On Wednesday we had a day out spent mostly in Lancashire at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve. As usual most of the regular bird sightings went into hiding for our visit. I suspect some were well outside the range of our camera and video lenses. 
It didn't stop us having a very pleasant walk around the reserve stopping off at the various hides around the reserve.

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

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Good and Bad This Spring

Monday continued with warm cloudy weather as the temperature only just failed to make it to 20°C again.
The last week or so of May last year was one of the best spells of summer with May 28 being the hottest day we had all year with a temperature of 82°C. The forecast this year seems for the weather to cool off over the next few days rather than warm up. 

Whatever the weather is until the end of May it’s not going to improve the average temperature for the spring months of March, April and May.

The chart needs to be viewed in full size to see the detail. This can be done by clicking over the image. This spring is almost certain to finish up colder than last year but at least we've had a significant improvement from midway through April when we were flirting with one of the coldest springs ever recorded.

May hasn't been too bad temperature wise and looks certain to be warmer than last year but still below what we might expect for the month.

Once again click on the chart for a full size view to see the detail. I suppose all options are still open as a warm end to this month could soon bring this spring’s value up to average or better whereas a continuation of the colder spell of weather as forecast could see the month tail off and finish up very similar to last year’s value.
Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Monday, 20 May 2013


As if by magic Sunday was a much better day allowing us to get down to the plot and plant out some broad beans, peas and plant a few more potatoes. It was mostly cloudy all day with a few short sunny breaks in the afternoon but with the temperature making it to 19°C it was very pleasant working on the plot.

Our quince Meeches Prolific is almost into flower on the plot. It’s absolutely loaded with flower buds.

If all those flowers set fruit the branches won’t be able to take the weight. It would be a lovely problem to have though.

I've still got one patch of green manure to dig in. It’s over wintered pretty well with just a few bare patches showing. I sowed 2 varieties Winter Tares and Phacelia. The Phacelia sown in the centre of the bed is about to come into flower, which is loved by the bees, but unfortunately for them I’m going to strim down the top growth before digging the bed over. Our runner beans and sweet corn will be planted in this bed so I need to get this task done fairly soon. 
The green manure does seem to have kept any weed growth to a minimum in this bed so I think I might add this into my crop rotation. Once this year’s potatoes are lifted that bed will be sown with green manure which will be left to grow on over winter.

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

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Same Old

Saturday was the coldest day of the month with the temperature just managing to creep into double figures at 11.2°C. The morning was drizzly clearing away in the afternoon but making absolutely no effort to brighten up.  

My weather station output at 19:00 confirms what a cold dull day it was. Gardening was on hold again but we've got some pea plants Meteor and Sugar Snap, as well as broad beans Masterpice Green Longpod, all sown in pots at home which really need planting out in the plot. We could do with a break in the weather to get them planted.

Judging from the state of the trays the peas and broad beans are standing in they won’t be short of water. If anything after the last few days of wet weather they will more than likely be waterlogged.
At least our marsh Marigold doesn't mind the wet weather and is looking at its best at the moment in the shallow area of our pond.

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

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Normal Service Resumed

After a better day yesterday Friday was back to more like we've become accustomed to. Cloudy and cool all morning with a few brighter spells in the afternoon and a little rain again into the evening.

The rain and wind has given blossom a hard time this spring so that blossom on trees and bushes hasn't lasted very long. It’s a case of hoping that the fruit blossom has lasted long enough for the bees to have done their pollinating work. In the garden our Conference pear blossom is over but the apples are still in flower.

We've lots of blossom on the apple tree which we think is Peasgood Nonsuch. This is a really good cooking apple and has proved to be a good keeper. 
On the other had our crab apple John Downie hasn't got much blossom at all this year but as we often don’t use the fruit it produces this won’t be too much of a hardship.
Our medlar Nottingham may well be the last of the fruits to come into flower and will be another week or more before these flower buds open. Will we be able to decide when the fruits have bletted this year I wonder?

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

Friday, 17 May 2013

A Big Improvement

Thursday was dry and bright and feeling much warmer in the sunshine.

There still seems to be talk of frosts on the weather forecasts. I thought I’d look back over the last couple of years for which I've records to see when we had our last frosts. In the end I decided to make a note of the last day in spring when the temperature fell below 0°C and 3°C. Then out of interest I found the corresponding days these temperatures occurred in the autumn and calculated the number of days between each of the dates.

So our latest frost date over the last two years has been May 17th so hopefully we’re now past the last date for planting out more tender plants
The weather hasn't stopped the grass growing. One drawback of having grass paths on the plot is that it does grow quickly and needs cutting on a regular basis. It had become rather long so I needed my trusty strimmer to bring the grass paths back under control.
Once it was cut the fruit beds by the shed looked much tidier. Having a mid afternoon coffee break it looked like spring might have arrived.

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

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Wednesday was our wettest day for quite some time with rain continuing from late Tuesday night through to Wednesday lunch time. It did brighten up a little bit in the afternoon. By the time it stopped raining we’d had 15.8mm in the day, more than the whole of April. The last time we've had over 10mm of rain in the day was 09 March 2013 so the rainfall was much needed.

It was also the coldest average daily temperature of the month with a figure of just 7.4°C

These were the tell tale reading from my weather station at lunch time. Needless to say all gardening operations were on hold.

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

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Potato Shoots for a Short While

Another cool day for May with some morning sunshine giving way to more cloud in the afternoon. Light drizzle set in late in the afternoon which turned into more persistent rain later in the evening. 

We’d decided to do some work on the plot in the afternoon provided it wasn't tipping down with rain. As we usually do we have a quick look around the plot as soon as we arrive to check on progress. A few of our potatoes have broken cover but they might just be a little early as more frosts are predicted for later in the week.

These are our first earlies Swift on the right and Vales Emerald. Some of our later varieties Winston, Nicola and Nadine were through as well. Before we left these tender new shoots were covered with soil giving them a little bit of protection against any late frosts.

We managed a little harvest before the drizzle forced us to leave early. Rhubarb and cauliflowers fairly standard for this time of year but I also found a few spring onions “White Lisbon” and beetroot “Boltardy” that had been covered in straw over winter. It will be interesting to see if these cook and taste okay.

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

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Why Isn’t It Warmer?

We had over 6 hours of sunshine on Monday but it was still the coldest day of the month with the temperature managing only 13.1°C. I thought the idea was that the weather got milder through May not colder. Not only was it cold we also had gale force winds to accompany the occasion heavy squally showers.

In the greenhouse I managed to transplant some of our squash and courgette seedlings which are growing quickly now. These will certainly need the weather to improve before they are planted out on the plot.

Our sweet peas had their tops pinched out to encourage them to grow into bushy plants instead of producing one long main stem. The before and after pictures are below.
So far this year we haven’t suffered from slug and snail damage in the greenhouse. A warning yesterday not to let my guard down as under one of the trays of sweet peas I found this menace in hiding. 
After suitable butchering it was put out of the greenhouse for an easy meal for our resident blackbirds. I had a look under all the other trays and a check in the cold frame but didn't find any more slugs or snails. I’m not expecting this pest to be about in such limited numbers for much longer. Perhaps the last few weeks of dry weather have reduced their numbers for a while.

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

Monday, 13 May 2013

Not Good for Exotics

Another naff sort of a day with drizzly bits and pieces of dampness but no proper rain. Once again it was cool with the temperature only just making it into double figures.

At the end of April our sweet potatoes Beauregard arrived from Dobies and were immediately potted up and left in our cold greenhouse to grow on. They were excellent plants when they arrived.

They did have a few cool nights to contend with in the greenhouse but one thing for sure is that they didn't appreciate the change from the cosseted growing environment they had been in to my cold greenhouse. The leaves went limp as though frost damaged and things didn't look too promising. However, all apart from one plant now look to have become more accustomed to the conditions and are starting to produce some new leaves.
I’m as sure as I can be that this one hasn't survived but it is the the only one. All the other are starting to make new leaves so I have high hopes that they will now survive.
As I was coming out of the greenhouse having taken photographs of the sweet potatoes I noticed this on our apricot tree.
Could it possibly be what I think it is? I couldn't find any more so if it goes on to maturity we might have to share. There’s an awful long way to go before that happens and I could always be mistaken. It wouldn't be the first time!

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

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Going Downhill

After such a promising start to May the weather has definitely taken a turn for the worst. Saturday was the coldest day of the month with a maximum of 13.1°. With a strong to gale force wind it wasn't a particularly pleasant day at all. The heavy rainfall forecast for the afternoon didn't materialise.

Last year our Crown Prince squash seeds didn't germinate but this year all six seeds have germinated successfully and have been moved on from under the indoor grow light into the greenhouse. At the same time I sowed a variety we hadn't grown before called Stripetti. This too was left under the indoor grow light but until today there wasn't any signs of germination taking place and I was beginning to think we had another germination failure on our hands. However this morning a couple of seeds at least have germinated. 
This seedling is trying its best to push through the soil and head for daylight. Now all four varieties of squashes that we are growing this year have germinated we will need plenty of space on the plot for them to wander during the hot summer months to come. Our four varieties are Crown Prince, Stripetti, Vegetable Spaghetti and Futsu Black.

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

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Petal Fall

Thursday’s and Friday’s weather wasn’t really anything special for May although we did register our first rainfall of the month with 3.4mm and 2.0mm falling respectively on the two days. Not really enough for us gardeners and with a blustery wind blowing I don’t suspect the dampness penetrated very far down into the soil. The unsettled weather is forecast to persist so it’s likely we’ll get some more rain over the next few days.

Our camellias are shedding their flower petals almost as soon as they open. The path around the plants is covered with pink blossom. We've had just enough rain to sort of glue the petals together so that they aren't blown about too much in the breezy conditions.  The magnolia is suffering the same fate!

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