Monday, 26 October 2020

We Missed The Showers

Last week was a showery one with a couple of cold nights thrown in.
Temperature and Rainfall Records 20-26 October 2020
We didn’t have any great amount of rain on any particular day but the showers tended to be spread out through the day. We fancied visiting Fountains Abbey to see it lit up by floodlights. Of course in these Covid times, that means booking in advance so it’s not a case of being able to wait for a good day and just go. At one point the weather forecast suggested that Monday would be the best day of the week and so we booked a visit. By the time it got to Monday the forecast for the day wasn’t as promising as when we booked. We headed off in any case hoping we’d miss any showers that were forecast. Our arrival time was 15:00 giving us plenty of time to wander around the lakes at Studley Royal before it got dark.

As dusk fell the floodlighting of the Abbey began to take effect. Extra evening catering facilities had been arranged and we enjoyed a teatime coffee and cake as we waited for darkness to fall.
Both the inside and outside of the Abbey was lit by floodlights.
As we made our way back to the car park it was beginning to rain so we’d been rather lucky with the timing of our visit.

We did manage a couple of trips to the allotment. Fortunately, we don’t have to book them in advance. We managed some more tidying up, removing the remains of our runner beans and outdoor tomato plants to the compost heap.
It’s all starting to look a little bit bare now as more and more beds are cleared of their summer crops.
It was a case of hoping any showers would miss the allotment. The threat of a heavy downpour was never very far away.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Cool October Weather

The weathermen like to call the conditions over the last week "settled weather". They use this term when our weather is controlled by high pressure. However, the weather so far in October has been pretty cool to date. As we pass the middle of the month just one day has managed to reach above the average daytime temperature for the time of year.
Temperature Records for October 2020
On the chart above, I've circled that one day in blue. If it hadn't been for a run of above average night time temperatures (also circled in blue) the monthly average would be much lower. Over the last eleven years, only 2012 has been colder by this stage of the month. Perhaps there will be an improvement over the second half of October.

One minute the sun could be shining and it would seem quite pleasant. Then clouds would roll in quickly and we'd get a heavy shower. It hasn't stopped us venturing out and taking Ruby for a few walks. 

Ruby's first walk, of the week, was in Rothwell Park on a lovely sunny morning. We also took her for a walk at Nostell Priory where we weren’t so lucky with the weather.
When we arrived the sun was shining but it wasn’t long before some dark clouds arrived and it began to rain heavily. Luckily we were near the car, so we decided to sit in the dry and wait to see if conditions improved.

We spent some time seeing who could take the best photo of Ruby while we waited for the rain to stop. After some time, like other people visiting, we left as the rain looked set in for the afternoon.

We had one visit to the allotment, which was also cut short because of the weather.

A little bit of harvesting was done before it began to drizzle. It was the sort of afternoon when you felt as though you ought to get something done but it was just wet enough to make it unpleasant. Rightly or wrongly we decided to leave clearing away our runner beans for another day when hopefully the weather will be a bit pleasanter.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Lazy Photography?

The weather forecast for Monday was a little bit out. Instead of a cloudy and cool day as forecast, it turned out sunny and mild in the afternoon. We decided on a walk around the nature reserve at Walton.
It turned out to be the best afternoon of the week as the weather forecast, which had been predicting cold and wet weather all week, turned out to be correct apart from this short blip of fine weather on Monday afternoon.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 05-11 October 2020
I’ve become rather complacent with my photography at the allotment. I’ve been taking most of my photos and videos using my iPhone. The results are plenty good enough for what I require. The photos are used for blogging and record keeping purposes. As I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the photos, I’ve been using my iPhone on visits to several National Trust sites. Again I’ve been surprised by just how good the results have been.
Nostell Priory - National Trust
Whilst my iPhone is pretty good for general landscape photography it’s not much use if you need a powerful zoom lens for wildlife photography. I’m amazed at just how good a handheld shot I can get with my Sony camera. The photo below is taken with my iPhone. On the far edge of the water it’s just about possible to make out there’s a couple of swans. I’ve circled them in red.
The photo below is from the same spot but taken with my Sony camera on full zoom. Not only is it possible to get a decent photo of the swan it’s even possible to read the number on its tag.
In the smaller image above, of the swan, on Blogger it's not possible to make out the tag number on its leg but the cropped image below shows a close up.
In this view, it's possible to make out the tag number around the swan's leg.

It goes without saying that on most of my outings my trusty Sony camera will be in my camera bag as you never know when you might need a really good zoom lens.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

September Finishes On The Dry Side

September in many ways was similar to the summer months in that we had a few hot days for the time of year but the remaining days were pretty disappointing. This September finished in fifth place, temperature-wise, equal with 2010, with an average 13.8°C or 56.9°F.
September Average Temperatures 2010 - 2020
As you can see from the rainfall figures, it was a dry month finishing in tenth place out of eleven years. The dry weather has meant that we’ve been able to get some tidying up done at the allotment.
I’ve at last managed to get our old strawberry bed dug over. It’s a few years now since the old strawberry plants were removed. Under the weed control fabric, the ground had become exceptionally dry and compacted with large cracks.
It’s good to have it finally dug over. Hopefully, over winter it will be broken down by the winter rain and frosts and be in a suitable condition for planting up next spring.

We’ve already had our first frost of autumn. Whilst it wasn’t a keen frost it was enough to finish off our courgette plants.

It didn’t do any damage to our dahlias so with a bit of luck we might be picking a few flowers for another couple of weeks.

October has got off to a wet start making up for a dry September. Saturday was a thoroughly wet day with the rainfall adding up to 19.9mm or 0.8in. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records 02-04 October 2020
I'm pretty sure,  judging from posts on social media., that we avoided the worst of the rainfall.

Monday, 28 September 2020

Coldest September Night

We left the allotment at about 17:30 on Sunday afternoon. It had been a dull and chilly afternoon even for late September. However, in the hour or so before we left the cloud cleared and the cool breeze disappeared as it became quite calm.  If conditions remained the same, it had all the feelings of a cold night to come.
As it turns out they did, leading to the coldest September night in the last eleven years with the temperature falling to 2.5°C or 36.5°F. 
Temperature Records 26-28 September 2020

The previous lowest September temperature was 3.1°C (37.6°F) on 25 September 2018.

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Unusually Calm

At breakfast time on Monday the sky was blue and normally at this time of year that a sign that we’ve probably just had a cold night. I decided to have a quick look at my weather station to see if we had indeed had a cold night.

The table above shows that it had been a chilly night with the temperature falling to 5.4°C. Then I noticed the wind speeds which I’ve circled in red. From midnight to around 08:00 there hadn’t been the slightest gust of wind. A look outside and the trees and bushes in the garden were very still. It was just after 08:00 when there was enough breeze to register on my weather station.

Last year at this time in September we were just about to move from a dry spell of weather into a wet one. I’d put any winter digging on hold until it rained because the ground was so dry. That digging didn’t get done until the start of spring when we eventually got some dry weather. This year the weather has been kinder and we’ve got most of our beds that have been cleared of summer crops dug over. 

It looks as though it’s in the nick of time as cold, wet and windy weather is due to arrive later this week.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Growing Winter Onions Two Different Ways

All through the gardening year, it’s been difficult to know if we’d be able to find some compost, plants or seeds for the allotment. This was true when I was looking out for winter onion sets. I saw that winter onion plants could be ordered online and, as I didn’t know if we’d be able to find some sets, I ordered some plants. As it turned out I managed to buy some sets from our local garden centre.
We collected our onion sets early in September before our plants arrived. I’d dug over a bed that we’d grown potatoes in over summer and we decided to get our onion sets into the ground. I think that the sooner they are planted the better the chance of a good crop. It gives the sets a chance to get established before the onset of any bad winter weather.
Our winter onion plants arrived a week or so later and we wasted no time in getting them planted. However, it was difficult to decide exactly how they should be planted. We decided the best method would be to plant them in compost filled trenches rather than trying to plant them directly into the soil.
It was difficult to decide how deep to plant the onions. Hopefully, we’ve got it about right. We’ve planted a few of our leftover onion sets in a row between the plants as a direct comparison of how the sets and plants compare.

We’ll now have to see how they all get on over winter. For the next few days, the forecast is for the weather to remain decent but by the middle of next week, it looks like autumn will arrive bringing some much colder temperatures accompanied by spells of heavy rain and gale force winds.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Another Short Lived Hot Spell

All through this year, we’ve had the occasional day or couple of days of very warm weather. The last couple of days have been very warm and it’s probably the last time this year we will get some hot weather. The temperature on Tuesday reached 27.7°C (81.9°F) pretty warm for September but Wednesday turned cool and cloudy with a temperature only managing around 15.5° C (59.9°F) through the day. 
Temperature & Sunshine Records 11-17 September 2020

We made the most of the good weather and had a couple of days visiting some National Trust properties. Our first visit was to Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Gardens. We weren’t all that sure about how a visit would go taking into account the coronavirus restrictions. When we arrived the car park was very busy. In the large grounds of Fountains Abbey, there didn’t seem to be all that many people and we enjoyed our wander around the abbey and water gardens.

Our second visit out on Tuesday was to Clumber Park. Rather than make our usual walk around the more formal gardens we decided to find the path that led to the far side of the lake. This involves crossing Clumber Bridge which has recently been restored after vandals destroyed it.

Ruby enjoyed her visit on both days and it’s probably the longest walk she’s been on so far. She seems to enjoy a picnic lunch provided it was followed with a few pieces of apple for dessert. 

Although the weather has turned cooler there is no sign of any rain in the forecast so with any amount of luck we will be able to get some tidying up and digging done down at the allotment. It might even be the case that we need to water some of the brassicas and leeks that were planted recently.