Thursday, 14 December 2017

Watercress - A Bit of a Survivor

The first spell of cold winter weather has passed, although technically winter won’t arrive until 21 December, now it’s turned a little bit milder. After a couple of weeks of December the milder days have lost out to the colder days and as a result our average temperature is currently 4.6°C (40.3°F) a bit below our December average which stands at 5.7°C or 42.3°F.
Monthly Temperature Records for December 2017
Our watercress has survived the cold weather of the last few days. I have to admit that when I took these two photos on Monday morning when the temperature was around -3.0°C (27°F) I didn’t hold out much chance of us having any more sprigs in our lunchtime sandwiches.
11 December 2017
11 December 2017
It wasn’t an awful lot warmer on Thursday morning but at least it was above freezing if only by a couple of degrees. However, much to my surprise our watercress had made a remarkable recovery. 
14 December 2017
I might even have to venture out at lunchtime to pick a few sprigs to go with our lunchtime egg sandwiches. I wonder if the freezing temperatures will have affected the flavour?

Monday, 11 December 2017

No Snow but the Coldest Night of the Year

Well, we didn’t get any snow on Sunday. I have to admit that by Saturday morning the weather models had adjusted their predictions of where snow was to fall on Sunday and we were unlikely to get either snow or rain. That turned out to be the case. We did manage a few flakes on Sunday afternoon but it would be pushing it a bit to describe it as a snowfall. 
However, Sunday night through into Monday morning produced the coldest temperature of the year so far as the thermometer plunged to -3.2°C or 26.2°F. 

It's the coldest temperature since 29 December 2016 when the temperature fell to -5.6°C or 21.9°F.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 09-11 December 2017
Last week we didn’t visit our allotment and instead had a couple of afternoons photographing steam locomotives. It’s the time of year when special charter trains head for York. First, on Thursday afternoon, was “The Christmas White Rose” heading to York from Norwich. It was running about two hours late by the time we arrived at our chosen photographic location. We decided to get some lunch in York rather than hang around in the bitterly cold weather. After lunch we returned to our spot in time to see 60009 Union of South Africa speed by on its way to York.
On Saturday lunchtime it was the turn of 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe with “The York Yuletide Express” from London Ealing Broadway to York.
Luckily for us, this train was running only about 15 minutes late so we didn’t have to wait around in the freezing conditions for too long.

Friday, 8 December 2017

It's Here

As forecast the colder weather has arrived as you can see from the temperature chart. The wind chill effect makes it feel even colder.
Temperature, Wind Chill & Rainfall Records 06-08 December 2017
That spell of rain that shows up on the chart around midnight on Thursday fell as snow but by morning there was almost no trace of it left.
I got the impression that it wasn't very warm in our greenhouse this morning as last nights snow had turned into a covering of ice. Hopefully some sunshine will soon thaw it out and warm up the greenhouse a little bit.

The forecast is for snow showers on Saturday and for a more prolonged period of snowfall on Sunday.
We're under that central grey area of predicted snowfall for Sunday morning. That grey area doesn't move much at all through Sunday so we may get a moderate snowfall. The temperature is forecast to be around freezing point all day so the snow might hang around a bit.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Storm Caroline

Caroline passed through on Wednesday night and Thursday morning giving us nothing more than a typically windy December night with no particularly strong gusts of wind. However, following a few heavy showers as it got light on Thursday morning the temperature dropped considerably.
Temperature and Rainfall Records 07 December 2017
If the weather models are correct the temperature is going to fall even more over the next couple of days.

You may have watched the video that Sue posted yesterday of the birds devouring the sunflower hearts in our feeder.

Whilst I enjoy watching their antics there is a price to pay in that that the chaff from the seed collects below the feeder and needs to be removed. Watching the goldfinches you can see how they roll a sunflower heart in their beak to remove the seed coat which falls to the ground. I've found the easiest way to collect all the fallen waste is to keep some weed control fabric under the feeder so that the fabric can be used to collect all the waste and disposed of as necessary. 
On Wednesday afternoon I had a tidy up around the base of the feeder. The weed control fabric is held in place with some hefty prunings from our magnolia tree and covered with a few leaves for good measure. Surprisingly storm Caroline didn't blow them away overnight.  

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Before the Cold Spell

There’s not much to report on the weather front at the moment. The last couple of days have been pretty decent with around average temperatures. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records 02-04 December 2017
However, things are set to change as first, wet and windy weather arrives mid week to be followed by a spell of cold weather accompanied by snow showers due to set in over the weekend and into next week.

I made a short video of our visit to the plot last Sunday when we lifted our dahlia tubers.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Dahlias Saved

Considering the time of year Sunday wasn't a bad day. After a bit of a cloudy start the sun broke through to give us some decent sunny spells and it was reasonably mild for December. We decided on an afternoon trip to the plot to lift our dahlia tubers and save them somewhere frost free and dry over winter.
Sue was hoping that our chrysanthemums had survived the recent cold spell and that they might provide us with a few cut flowers.
Unfortunately that wasn't the case and we decided that these too could be cut back and the roots lifted and protected again the worst of the winter weather.

Whilst I cut back and lifted the dahlias Sue cut back the chrysanthemums.
The last couple of months have been on the dry side with not a great deal of rain which meant the dahlia roots came out of the ground easily without too much soil clinging to the roots. Most of the soil was cleared off the roots with a small hand fork. The roots have been placed in a large potato sack and have gone into the garage to be stored alongside our potatoes. I'll leave them in the garage until around the beginning of March. 

The chrysanthemum roots were lifted too but these were placed in plastic tubs with the roots packed in wood chip. The tubs were placed in the plot greenhouse for protection.
After lifting the dahlias and chrysanthemums we decided we still had a little bit of time left before it got dark to do some harvesting. We managed to dig up some carrots, parsnips, leeks and beetroot as well as cut a couple of red cabbages and a green one. The main surprise of the day was that some tomatoes and a couple of red peppers in the plot greenhouse had survived the cold weather.
As you can probably tell from the photo by the time we'd finished harvesting it was starting to get dark.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

It's Warmed Up A Bit

The start of meteorological winter has brought some slightly milder weather with it for a few days. Although last month had some cold days it also had some very mild days for November and at the end of the month these balanced one another out and the monthly temperature was around average for November. 
It was another month with considerably less rainfall than we might expect. as you can see from the table above only 2011 has been drier since 2010.
A Dunnock Checks Out a Weathered Log for Food
At least it looks like we might be getting a few milder days when the bird bath won't need de-icing. The forecast at the moment is for cold weather to return towards the end of the week. The good or bad news, depending on how you view snow, is that we could get some heavy snow showers on Thursday and Friday accompanied by some cold northerly winds. In terms of computer weather models Thursday is a long way off and there's every possibility that a different outcome will be predicted over the next few days.  

Friday, 1 December 2017

Winter's Arrived - Meteorologically Speaking

It's definitely been a bit on the cold side over the last few days almost like winter has arrived a little bit early. It's been cold enough to put us off visiting the plot. On Thursday the temperature barely made it above freezing and combined with a strongish breeze it wasn't a day for being outside. It was the first time this autumn that the water in the bird bath has frozen over. The birds didn't appreciate not being able to get a drink.
Once filled up the birds were happy even if a very thin coating of ice began to form on the surface of the water.

Although it's felt cold it's been nothing like as cold as it was in November 2010. In that year I recorded a low temperature of -7.6°C (18.3°F) which still easily remains as my November record low.
Temperatures Records 23-29 November 2010 and 2017
The chart above shows the temperature records for the same weeks in 2010 and 2017.

We do really need to make an effort to get to the allotment to dig up our dahlia tubers and store them somewhere dry and frost free. I don't think it's yet been cold enough for any frost to penetrate down to the roots and do any damage. All the same, we're pushing our luck a little bit.