Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Chitting Potato Decisions

The last day of January is shaping up to be cold and showery., like lots of days this month. It's going to finish up as one of the wettest Januarys I've recorded and nearly all of that rainfall has been of a showery nature rather than prolonged spells of rain.
Temperature and Rainfall Records for January 2018
Having bought our seed potatoes over the weekend the question was what to do with them until planting time. I did consider storing them in the garage in potato sacks, where they will be frost free and in the dark. at least until the end of February. That would stop them from sprouting. Once March arrives and hopefully the keenest of frost are finished with then they could be moved into the greenhouse to chit.

However, quite a few of our seed potatoes already had a few sprouts starting to form so I wasn't sure that storing them in the dark was the best option. I decided to store them in the summerhouse which I don't think gets quite as cold as our greenhouse.
2018 Trial Varieties Stored in Summerhouse to Chit
There wasn't enough room in the summerhouse to store our main varieties. The summerhouse still has some of last year's onions in store, a couple of Crown Prince squashes and this year's onion and shallot sets. I decided the main varieties would have to be set to chit in a partially tidied up greenhouse.
Main Potato Varieties Stored in Greenhouse
Provided we don't get any really keen frosts I'm sure that they'll be fine but if some extremely cold weather is forecast I might have to think about moving them into the garage overnight for some extra protection.
They're covered with a couple of layers of fleece for protection. Hopefully, they'll survive and be ready for planting in the allotment by the end of March or beginning of April. I might put a few Casablanca tubers in pots before then to treat us to a few extra early new potatoes.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Potato Day

It's been very mild over the last few days considering that it's only the end of January.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 23-29 January 2018
There's no record breaking high temperature amongst them but it's going to be a bit disappointing when this rather spring like weather is replaced with winter conditions. February can be one of our coldest months.

It was a spring like morning on Saturday as we headed off to our local garden centre which holds an annual potato day every year at the end of January.
There's always some cooked potatoes ready for a taste test. We didn't bother with the taste test though and decided to select half a dozen varieties that we hadn't grown before. Surprisingly this wasn't difficult to do. 
Once the six new varieties were safely bagged and labelled it was just a matter of finding our main crop potatoes which are a carefully selected mix of tried and tested varieties and some from successful trials of previous years.
Below is a short video of our visit to the garden centre.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Wettest Day of the Year

The mildest day of the year on Tuesday was followed by the wettest day of the year on Wednesday with 8.8mm or 0.35in of rainfall.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 24 January 2018
We haven't visited the plot since New Year's Day when the soil conditions were on the wet side. We've had 61.2mm (2.41in) of rain over the last few weeks so the plot will need to dry up a little bit before the soil is in a workable condition.
As the garden was so wet as well I decided to do a little bit of tidying up in our home greenhouse.

We do have a few jobs to do on the plot,  such as winter washing the fruit trees and cutting back a hawthorn tree, that don't depend on the soil drying out. Maybe we'll get some suitable weather next week.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Warmest Day of the Year

Tuesday was the mildest day of the year reaching 13.8°C or 56.8°F.  It’s been windy overnight into Wednesday morning but I’m not sure if it’s storm Georgina or not. I'm not sure if named storms are supposed to bring exceptional weather or just run of the mill storms we get every winter. Certainly for us this wasn't anything out of the ordinary for January.
Temperature, Hi Wind Speeds and Rainfall Records for 22-23 January 2018
The last couple of days have been milder and we’ve made the best of the weather with a visit to RSPB Old Moor and an afternoon tidying up in the garden. As is usual on our visits to Old Moor the birds tended to keep out of photographic range.
These cormorants were just about at the limit of my camera's range. However, at the tree sparrow farm we had a bit more luck.
This particular sparrow couldn't have got much closer although I don't think he was aware of my presence. It was also a case of trying to get some pictures of a pair of reed buntings. They were alternating between perching on tree branches and then on a large seed feeder. A photo of them in the natural settings of the tree was the preferred option but they had no intention of making that easy.
I managed to capture the male but not his elusive female partner.

On Tuesday afternoon I started to tidy up our home greenhouse in readiness for seed sowing time which will be late March or the beginning of April.
Interestingly these sweet peppers which had been left on the plants were good enough to harvest. It's certainly fallen to below freezing in the greenhouse so I'm surprised they haven't rotted away or at least gone a little bit mouldy. A bit of a bonus crop you might say.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Our Greenhouse Needs A Tidy Up

Our extremely mixed up and changeable weather continued through Friday. The morning started off cold with a covering of black ice making roads and pavements very slippery. The sun even made an appearance in the morning before the clouds returned with more heavy showers which were a mixture of rain, sleet and snow.
Temperature, Wind Chill and Rainfall Records for 19 January 2018
I did have a little trip up to our greenhouse this week. It's not had much attention since autumn time when the tomatoes finished fruiting. I've put together a little video showing how little we have growing in there in the middle of winter.

Friday, 19 January 2018

Lucky Again With The Weather

We’ve had a real mixed bag of weather over the last few days. The storm forecast for Wednesday night into Thursday morning never really happened or more to the point the weather never changed that much as the storm passed through.
Temperature, Pressure and Hi Wind Speed Records 16-18 January 2018
Temperature, Wind Chill and Rainfall Records 16-18 January 2018
As you can see from my weather station readings it’s been a wet and windy few days in any case and the arrival of the storm made very little difference except for a rather sudden rise and fall in the temperature. It's interesting to see how that sudden temperature change and associated strong winds coincided with a fall in barometric pressure as the storm centre passed through. Rainfall since Monday this week has so far amounted to 27.2mm (1.07in) giving us one of the wettest spells for quite some time. It might be a bit too wet to get any more winter digging done at the allotment.

Whilst some places have had moderately heavy snowfalls we’ve had almost none. We had a couple of millimetres on Tuesday evening which was enough to bring the motorway to a standstill near us. Our journey from Rothwell to Ossett was a bit of a record breaker with an average speed of 13mph even though nearly all the journey is on the motorway.
M1 Motorway Southbound Near Leeds 16 January 2018
Not much snow I'm sure you'll agree but it seemed to bring the motorway to all but a standstill.

The forecast is for the weather to stay cold through the weekend with the possibility of more snow showers on Sunday. After that it's forecast to get a little bit milder.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Good Job It's Fallen as Rain!

The forecast for the last few days has suggested we'd get lots of snow showers. At times that has been true but most of the time the showers have fallen as rain, with some hail and snow mixed in for good measure.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 15-17 January 2018
We've had 17.2mm (0.68in) of rainfall, all falling as showers, over the last 3 days up to 10:00am on Wednesday 17, January which I would have thought added up to a decent snowfall had it indeed fallen as snow as was forecast.

Wednesday morning has started with more showers and windy. I've just filled up the bird feeders in the garden and it feels bitterly cold outside in the strong wind and rain.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records 15-17 January 2018
As you can observe from my weather station data, taking in the wind chill factor makes it feel more like 0°C (32°F) rather than the actual recorded temperature of 3.5°C or 38.3°F.

I'm struggling for outdoor photos today but inside our hibiscus, which spent summer in the summerhouse, continues to flower on an indoor window ledge. It's just a pity that the flowers only last for a day.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

First Flower of the Year!

As forecast there has been a change in the weather and last week's calm, dreary and dull conditions have been replaced by wet and windy ones. One things remained the same though and that's a lack of any sunshine. So far we have escaped any snow showers.

I noticed this morning that one of our hellebores has come into flower making it the first flower of the year in our garden.
Yesterday we had a flying visit to RHS Harlow Carr on a wet Monday morning. After a coffee waiting for the rain to ease we managed a quick walk around the rain soddened gardens.
At least there are a few signs that Spring is on its way as we pass into the second half of winter.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

A No Weather Week!

It's been a miserable week weather wise. The last time we saw any sunshine was on Sunday 07 January when we visited RSPB Fairburn Ings.
Since then we haven't had any weather, no wind, no rain, no very mild days, no very cold days and certainly not any sunshine. All in all, it's been a very dull, drab and murky week.
Sue would like to test out her new camera but the only colours available at the moment are a selection of browns and greys. However, it is forecast to change next week with some colder and windier conditions arriving with snow showers in the mix starting on Tuesday and going through to Friday.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Nothing Much Going On

After a mildish start to the new year it's turned a bit colder. At first the colder weather brought some clear blue skies and night time frosts but that's changed over the last few days to dull, murky, drizzly days.
Temperature & Solar Radiation Records 04-10 January 2018
As you can see from the above graphic it hardly bothered to get light at all on Tuesday. So much for daylight hours increasing!

We managed a visit to RSPB Fairburn Ings on a lovely, crisp, sunny, Sunday afternoon. Areas in the shade stayed frosty all day.
RSPB Fairburn Ings on 07 January 2018
It can't have been very warm cruising on the river Aire.

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Connection Issues

It's been a fairly average start to the new year with dull, wet and windy weather the order of the day.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-06 January 2018
On Thursday evening my computer did one of those magical Windows updates. Since then my weather station seems very reluctant to connect to the Internet. I constantly receive a message informing me of an Internet connection failure.
My weather data to Weather Underground was last uploaded on 04/01/2018 and it doesn't want to upload any more data. As you're reading this post it's obvious that my Internet connection is working okay so I'm not too sure where to look for the problem. If you're looking at some of my weather data on the Internet and it seems a bit out of date this is the reason why.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

Mild and Windy Start to January - Will It Last?

The first few days of the year have been on the mild side for January but it's also been dull and damp. 
The last time I looked the computer weather models didn't seem to agree on next week's weather. They agreed it will be cooler at the weekend but then disagree on what might occur through next week. Either we'll get a milder option with weather coming in on a westerly breeze off the Atlantic or a cold easterly breeze from continental Europe. 

I've finished sorting out last year's weather data and included a few tables below comparing December's temperature and rainfall records for the last few year's. The temperature in December was a little below average and it was on the dry side too. I've also included some tables giving yearly comparisons of the same records. The year finished up milder and drier than average.
The table below summarises the yearly wind speeds. Although my method probably isn't scientifically correct I think it gives an idea of how windy each year has been. I'd say 2017 turned out to be about average. 
Now I've got to set up the tables for 2018!

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Didn't Miss Storm Eleanor

We might have missed most of the snow that arrived over the last few weeks but we didn't miss storm Eleanor as she blew through.
Temperature and High Wind Speed Records for 01-03 January 2018
Wind gusts peaked at 30mph overnight which isn't all that unusual for storms in January. We don't seem to have any damage in the garden.
The birds might have to make do with seed on the bird table this morning as the hanging feeders are being blown about rather dramatically in the wind. Some fancy aerobatics will be required to land on the feeders. In anticipation of this year's winter storms I took the precaution of adding some extra ballast to the base of the bird table.
It seems to have worked as normally winds of 30mph would result in the bird table falling over into the rhododendron bush.
In the past even strong winds in summer would topple it.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

New Year's Day Harvesting

The weather for the first day of the new year wasn't too bad. We needed some fresh vegetables and a little bit of fresh air so we decided on a trip to the allotment.
We decided to harvest some vegetables before starting to do any tidying up jobs. It was just as well we did as it started to drizzle heavily by mid afternoon. By this time we'd managed to harvest some decent fresh vegetables.
Parsnips - Gladiator
Brussels Sprouts - Crispus
Before the rain came Sue started digging out one of our clumps of rhubarb which has become over run with wick grass and I did a little more clearing work on a bed on plot 30 which had been neglected for a couple of years.

There's a video below showing the crops we have to harvest on the plot as the new year begins.