Thursday, 15 February 2018

More On That Stratospheric Warming.

Wednesday produced another miserable February day. After a very cold frosty start the day really made no effort to warm up. It wasn't a day for gardening. We had some sleety rain in the afternoon for good measure.
Temperature, Windchill & Rainfall Records 12-14 February 2018
It would appear that the forecast stratospheric warming event has starting and is taking place through this week. We will have to wait a while to see what the changes are to our weather. They may be good or may be bad and also depend on your point of view. As a gardener I don't want a very cold spell of weather as I'd appreciate some milder conditions so I can start to sow a few seeds.

I have spotted these 2 explanations of the stratospheric warming event which explain better than I can the process that is occurring and its possible effects.


From The Met Office - Weather Forecast Plus Sudden Stratospheric Warning

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Didn't See This Forecast!

Wednesday wasn't much of day to do any gardening. It was cold and dull all day with the afternoon temperature only managing 5.0°C (41.0°F) which is below average for the middle of February. I've now got my new greenhouse thermometer and in the sunless conditions it wasn't much warmer in the greenhouse at 7.3°C (45.1°F) in the middle of the afternoon.
Now, as I remember, the weather forecast on Tuesday went something like - a frosty start into Tuesday night with milder wet and windy weather arriving through the night. - That didn't happen and Wednesday morning produced the coldest temperature of the year falling to -2.9°C (26.8°F) as measured by my weather station. 
In the greenhouse my new thermometer recorded a temperature of -3.2°C (26.2°F) only marginally different from my weather station. I know from past measurements that there's very little difference between outdoor temperatures and those in the greenhouse on very cold nights.
I'll have to have a look in the greenhouse to see if our seed potatoes that are chitting away in there have survived the keen frost.

Our coldest day of winter still remains 11 December 2017 at -3.2°C (26.2°F) and the coldest February temperature I've recorded over the last eight years was on 11 February 2012 at -5.9°C or 21.4°F.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Not My Idea of a Beautiful Day

A couple of BBC weather presenters commented on Sunday night what a beautiful day Sunday had been. In my mind Sunday hadn't been anything at all like a beautiful day as we'd had frequent showers of rain, sleet or snow and a strong to gale force bitingly cold wind. 
Temperature, Wind Chill and Rainfall Records for 11 February 2018
For most of the day the temperature wasn't much above freezing and the wind chill knocked a couple of degrees off that. 

Overnight into Monday morning we've had a dusting of snow.
Monday, 12 February 2018
The forecast doesn't hold out much hope of the temperatures improving very much over the next few days. Tomorrow looks like there might be a bit of snow about.
Precipitation Type Forecast from  netweather.tv
Gardening activities continue to be on hold!

Saturday, 10 February 2018

A Sudden Stratospheric Warming - Gardeners Beware!

February has got off to a fairly cold start with temperatures generally below average. It's not been exceptionally cold but daytime temperatures haven't managed to live up to what we might expect.
 Temperature Records for February 2018
It's that time of year when as gardeners we're getting that rather irresistible temptation to start sowing some seeds. I'm trying hard to resist and I'm planning on restricting any February sowings to some broad beans, leeks and maybe some early potatoes in sacks. All these will be sown in the greenhouse and they'll grow on in there until some warmer weather arrives. That's my plan.
However, there's another reason why I ought to wait a while before sowing too many seeds. There's a sudden stratospheric warming supposedly taking place this weekend. I'm not going to go into details of this event but if you would like to read about it in more depth there's an article about it here. The end result is that this phenomenon may change our weather pattern and set us up for a cold end of February and early March. As with all weather predictions there's no certainty in the outcome. Certainly anything needing some warmth like tomato seeds will be remaining sealed in their packets for a few weeks yet.

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Better Safe Than Sorry

The forecast for the last few days was for Wednesday morning to be the coldest of the year with temperatures down to -4.0°C or 24.8°F.
 Temperature & Rainfall Records 05-07 February 2018
As it happens it didn't turn out to be so cold but with the temperature falling to -2.1°C (28.2°F) it becomes the coldest day of the year. The coldest day of this year's winter is still -3.2°C (26.2°F) on 11 December 2017.

However, with such a low temperature predicted I thought it wise to move our seed potatoes, which have been set to chit in the greenhouse and summerhouse, into the garage where I think they are a bit more protected from the cold.
The seed trays were placed into some old supermarket boxes and moved to the garage where they were stacked one on top of another and then finally covered over with some old curtain lining for good measure.
My greenhouse thermometer stopped working last autumn and I haven't sorted out a replacement yet so I'm not sure of how low the temperature fell in there but I know that the temperature fell to -1.8°C in the summerhouse.
The temperature over the next few nights isn't forecast to be as cold so I'm intending to move the seed potatoes back into the summerhouse and greenhouse straight away.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

Frozen Seed Potatoes Maybe?

We had planned a trip to the allotment on Saturday afternoon but the weather was cold, miserable and damp so we decided not to bother. We really could do to harvest a few fresh vegetables though so we might have to wrap up warm and venture down to the plot even if the weather remains cold.

Our trial seed potatoes have been set out in the summerhouse to chit and our main varieties placed in our home greenhouse. Now I'm sure that they will be okay where they are provided we don't get any severe frosts.
I'm keeping a check on the weather forecasts to see if any lowish temperatures are forecast so I can either give them some extra protection where they are or perhaps even move them to a temporary location where I'm sure that they won't get frosted.
7 Day Forecast for Ossett from Netweather.tv
The forecast looks particularly cold for next Tuesday night into Wednesday morning with the temperature forecast to fall as low as -4.0°C (24.8°F) so I might have to consider extra fleece or a move out of the greenhouse to somewhere a bit warmer. If the forecast turns out to be accurate it will be our coldest spell this winter.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

A Mild January?

After all the predicted snow, which never arrived for us, we finished up with a mild but wet January.
January 2010 - 2018 Average Temperature & Rainfall
The weather forecasting models have predicted that we'd get some snow several times through January but other than one very light covering which fell one evening and had disappeared the following morning we've escaped any serious snowfall.

Over the next week or so they are suggesting the possibility of some cold weather and more snow. Wouldn't you know it, as soon as our potatoes are placed in the greenhouse to chit, cold weather and snow is forecast.
UK Precipitation Type for Tuesday 06 February at 12:00 from Netweather.tv
There's plenty of time for the weather models to change their minds. Just to make matters worse there's talk of the coldest spell of winter approaching. Better make an effort and get some fresh vegetables from the allotment before we get snowed in.

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.