Monday, 30 May 2016


We made the most of a decent weekend weatherwise clearing beds and planting on the allotment. Saturday was the better of the two days with more sunshine although the temperature for both days was around the 18°C (65°F) mark which is about average for late May.

We needed to plant out our runner bean and climbing French bean plants before they outgrew their containers. The longest job though is erecting some supports for the beans to grow up. The weed control fabric is in its third year of use for runner beans and this was already in place with the slits cut in it ready for the beans to be planted through.
Runner Beans St George Celebration & Lady Di. Climbing French Beans Cosse Violette, Cobra & Corona d'Oro
It's important to make the frames secure otherwise high winds in summer will blow the beans over resulting in a loss of the crop. We use bamboo canes as supports as we haven't managed to work out a better natural source as supports.

Our peas, Onward, and sweet peas crops were also in need of support. We use hazel twigs for this and I've been amazed how well they seem to work. I used to use some sort of stakes and netting either a metal mesh or plastic mesh specifically for supporting peas. Neither worked as well or looked as good as the hazel twigs.
Sweet Peas
Peas Onward
Our main problem at the moment is that weevils are munching away at the peas and we're just having to hope that the peas will grow through the attack. We are hoping that we manage to keep the slug damage on the beans to a minimum as last year the newly planted beans were devastated by slugs and although the beans survived our crop was much later than normal.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

The Summerhouse Collection

Friday's weather was a great improvement over the last few days. It took until the afternoon for the clouds to break and the sun to come through but it was a welcome change from the drabness of the last couple of days.

We visited a few garden centres and of course we didn't come away empty handed. We bought some alpines and two scented geraniums for the summerhouse.
As it was a nice late afternoon and early evening we made the best of it and planted up our newly acquired plants.

I took the opportunity to repot last year's summerhouse plants into fresh compost so they should be set up for the summer.
We bought this begonia. Once upon a time this almost grew like a weed in the garden and greenhouse but for some reason we lost all the plants. Perhaps a bad winter finished them off. It's like having an old friend back.

Our full list of purchases is included below.

Friday, 27 May 2016

More Wet Weather - Gardening on Hold

We certainly are having a poor end to May. Thursday turned out to be another cool and cloudy day with lots of showers throughout the day.
We've got stuff to be doing on the allotment but having got soaked through on our last two visits we're a little bit reluctant to get soaked for a third time.

I did manage a few minutes in the greenhouse transplanting a few lettuce and sweet pepper seedlings but we need some growing space at home.
We need to get some plants moved to allotment to create some wriggle room in the greenhouse and cold frames. The forecast for the next few days isn't all that good either.
Climbing French and Runner Beans with Broad Bean Robin Hood
When the weather does improve I think we're going to be busy on the plot.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Cold, Wet and Dull

Wednesday was probably the worst day of the month. May seems to be keeping the worst weather for the end of the month. It was cold and damp all day although we didn't have as much rain as some of the forecasts had suggested. The rain mostly held off until late in the afternoon but it was cloudy and cool all morning.
By teatime the mercury had only managed to make it to 10.2°C the coolest maximum daytime temperature of the month. It was also the dullest day of the month. I've left the sunshine trace  (yellow line) on the chart above so the trace for sunny days on Monday and Tuesday can be compared with Wednesday's dullness. Once it starts to get light a sunshine trace is recorded and the difficult bit is converting the original trace into hours of sunshine. My weather station calculated 4.8 hours of sunshine on Monday, 6.7 hours Tuesday and zero hours on Wednesday.

It wasn't a day for venturing out into the garden to take photos nor was it a day for visiting the plot. I did take some photos of our hostas around the pond edge on Tuesday to record the fact that so far they have remained slug free.
I think it's unlikely that we'll be able to keep them like this all summer but we can always hope.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Must Do Better!!

I'm not sure if the figures back me up but May seems to be ending colder than it started. On Monday night, or rather the early hours of Tuesday morning, the temperature got down to 4.6°C or 40.3°F.
I always reckon the allotment site is a little bit colder than home. It must be located in a cold spot so I wouldn't be at all surprised if there wasn't a frost on the plot on Tuesday morning. That 4.6°C is the equal lowest I've recorded so late in May with the only other occasion occurring the 25 May 2013.

I was a bit surprised to receive a letter from Wakefield Metropolitan Council on Tuesday warning me that I wasn't keeping my plot up to their exacting standards of cultivation.

I'll be interested to see exactly happens after 14 days.

Meanwhile Tuesday was spent pottering about in the garden wilfully ignoring the letter. The pond filter had stopped working which turned out to be nothing more serious than masses of gunk blocking up the pump. All the time I was messing about around the pond I was treated to a family of young starlings squawking in the magnolia tree demanding food from their parents. 
We've some sparrow chicks about and our blackbirds and blue tits are busy collecting beakfuls of food for their chicks.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Got Wet Again!

We certainly aren’t picking our days for visits to the plot very well. After getting a soaking on Saturday we decided to spend Monday afternoon at the allotment. The fastest growing thing on the plot at the minute is grass and our paths were in need of a serious strimming. Sue had some annual flowers to plant out whilst I was cutting the grass.
Temperature, Rainfall & Sunshine Records from Saturday 21 May - Monday 23 May 2016
As you can see the rain held off until around the middle of the afternoon. We almost packed up to head home but after a while the rain stopped and the sun came out and it felt very warm. We changed our minds and carried on doing a few tidying up jobs as well as planting  and strimming.
This part of the plot is now fully planted up and it's just a matter of looking after the crops and hopefully harvesting some fresh fruit and vegetables. There is, however one bed on this part of the plot that we want to renovate but we never seem to get round to it. At the moment is doing its best to look good with the first roses coming into bloom, some iris flowers as well as lots of poached egg plants flowering amongst the grass.
Its one of those jobs that we never quite get round to on the plot. Sorting out our vegetable crops is always our priority and once we get on top of all the planting we'll consider doing a bit of renovation. At the moment I'm not sure whether we are behind or just about right with our sowing and planting. We're definitely not in front.
On this side of the plot we have much more planting to do but some beds still need a little bit of clearing and digging before we can get our courgettes, sweetcorn, leeks and more peas sown let alone more annual flowers. If the weather stays favourable over the next week and these beds can be dug over we'll be on schedule but some bad weather now could put us behind.
If it turns out I need something to do I could always tackle this little bit of jungle under our greengage trees. It would look much better with a good strimming but I'm not too sure what might be among the long grass and in the nettles. I'll content myself with the fact that nettles are supposed to be good for wildlife. Maybe I'll get round to it later in the year.

Monday, 23 May 2016

One Wet Day, One Dry Day

Saturday turned out to be rather wet. We decided on planting out our sweet pea plants on the allotment. Of course as soon as we had all the plants unloaded and in position ready for planting it decided to pour down with rain. We took shelter in our shed and had a cup of coffee while the shower passed over.
As the rain stopped we left the shed and began planting the sweet peas but no sooner had we started than it started raining again. We decided we may as well get soaked and carried on planting.
At least we got the sweet peas planted. We decided that they probably didn't need watering in.

On Sunday we visited the Great Central Railway who were holding their Railways at Work event. We thought we'd watch someone else doing a bit of work. Luckily the weather turned out to be warm and dry.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

We Need These at the Allotment

Over the last few days that lovely May weather has given way unsettled conditions with a few showers and not a lot of sunshine.

We decided  on another trip to North Yorkshire on Friday to visit The National Centre For Birds Of Prey situated in Duncombe Park at Helmsley. We almost didn't set off as the weather was cloudy and rain was in the air. We passed through some showers on the way to Helmsley and, at one point, thought we might well be turning around and heading home. As it turned out the weather wasn't too bad.
There was a strong cool breeze which helped the larger birds in the flying displays but at times heavy clouds threatened rain.

As you may well be aware on our allotment plot we have a problem with wood pigeons. At times they seem to eat anything that's green and not protected from them. We could do with a couple of these on the plot to reduce the wood pigeon population.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Picturesque Bird Table

Thursday was mostly dull but the rain held off until late afternoon. It was quite mild in the early part of the afternoon too.
Usually one of my first jobs of the day is to pop outside and replenish the bird tables and feeders. In winter it's a job to get done as soon as possible and get back into the warmth of the house. At this time of year it's often a far more leisurely job and I have a look around the garden to see how our borders are filling up and check inside the greenhouse and cold frame to see if any watering needs doing.
I thought this morning how much more pleasant it is to sprinkle some seed on the bird table with the crab apple, John Downie in full flower along with rhododendron, Elizabeth. I don't suppose for one minute the birds take much notice in the change of scenery.

My morning inspection revealed that our garden fruit is progressing nicely at the moment. Our potted cherry tree Stella looks as though it could live up to its name and give us a stellar crop of cherries this year.
There's still plenty of time for things to go wrong before we're harvesting any cherries but at least some of the flowers have set fruit. In the greenhouse our apricots are progressing well.
The fruits are continuing to swell. We have lost one or two fruits that didn't progress much from the immature stage. They dried up and fell off the tree. So far though so good.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Long Season Daffs

It wasn't very pleasant at all on Wednesday. It was fairly mild but we had heavy showers throughout the day putting any gardening out of the question.
It seems ages ago now that photos of daffodils appeared on blog as the early sign of spring. I posted this picture of our first daffodils back on 15 February.
Taken on Monday 15 February 2016
Sue added lots of bulbs to one of our newly renovated beds at home to give it a bit of spring colour. In it are some late flowering daffodils which are only just coming into their best.
Taken on Tuesday 17 May 2016
I think we've had a few daffodils in flower since I took that first photo back in February. We might just about get to the end of May with daffodils still in flowering and putting on a good display.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Quality Plug Plants

Tuesday was a lovely May day with plenty of sunshine and pleasantly warm.

I've been a bit critical of the quality of some of the plug plants we've received over the last couple of years. They've normally gone on to produce decent quality plants after they've had some loving care and attention. We'd ordered some fuchsia and lavender plug plants from Thompson & Morgan when they were on special offer. I had my concerns about the quality of the plants we would receive especially as they were on offer. Over the last week both sets of plants have arrived and I've been very pleased with the plants supplied. 
Hardy Fuchsia Collection
Lavender Hidcote & Munstead
All the plug plants are now transplanted and if they don't grow on to produce some decent plants I don't think we can blame it on the poor quality of the plants we received.
The plants have been left in the greenhouse but will be moved into the cold frame outside as soon as there is some room available. We seem to be struggling for growing space at home at the moment but that's not really unusual at this time of the year.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Late Frost Maybe?

Monday was another lovely day and we made the most of the good weather getting some beds prepared down on the plot ready for more vegetables.

It wasn't all good news though. The temperature on Sunday fell to 2.7°C (36.9°F) and, despite my best efforts to protect our early potatoes Casablanca from any frost by earthing them up, they couldn't help themselves and pushed shoots out of the soil.
I'm sure the potatoes will recover from the damage they always have done in the past when they've been caught by a bit of late frost.

With the help of the cultivator a few beds were turned over ready for planting more crops over the next few days.
Sweet Peas and Squash Crown Prince will be planted in this bed
This bed was dug over ready for later plantings of brassicas. The bed to the left is already planted up with our main crop potatoes and the bed on the right was dug over and covered with weed control fabric and is ready for our runner and climbing French bean crops.
Sue started clearing away the grass from this little bed which had become rather neglected. Once cleared I'm hoping to plant it up with the few remaining seed potato we have.
The part of this bed which was dug over will be planted up with annual flower seeds over the course of the summer.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Lovely Weekend

The weather forecast for the weekend was poor. At best it was to be cloudy and cool for mid May and the possibility of a few isolated showers wasn't ruled out. As it turned out the forecast was fairly rubbishy itself and we had a very pleasant weekend with some decent sunny spells although a little on the cool side out of the sun and in a coolish breeze.

Saturday afternoon was spent tidying up on the plot and on Sunday we had a trip into the North Yorkshire Moors to visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway which was holding the last day of its Scottish Branch Line Gala.
On our way we got some stunning views.
We had intended to head to Grosmont but for one reason or another we never made it there.
We visiting Goathland and Levisham stations instead.
Goathland Station on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway
Near Levisham Station