Thursday, 21 March 2019

Winter Goes Out On A High

Wednesday marked the official end of winter, going out on a high note, with a lovely sunny and warm day and the highest temperature of the year reaching 20.3°C or 68.5°F.
Temperature Record for 20 March 2019
That made it the warmest day since 13 October 2018 when the temperature reached 22.6°C or 72.7°F.

On the plot there are now some signs of spring, as the first of the fruit blossom is starting to open. First of the tree fruit into flower is our Oullins Gage plum and our Honeyberry bushes are also just coming into flower.
Plum - Oullins Gage
There is plenty of blossom on the honeyberry bushes, which I think are now on their last chance, as even though they produce plenty of flowers they never go on to produce any fruit. Maybe this year will be different!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The Mysterious Storm "Hannah"

Saturday was seriously wet and windy and although in the media this was put down to storm "Hannah" I don't think the storm was officially named by the Met Office. However, Saturday was our wettest day of the year with 14.6mm (0.57in) of rainfall but judging by the photos on social media of flooding around Yorkshire we got off very lightly.
Temperature & Rainfall Records for 16 March 2019
Fortunately, the rain wasn't particularly heavy, just persistently steady rain all through the day.
The effects of all the rainfall up in the Yorkshire Dales is now producing flooding in the rivers lower down the catchment areas.

Sunday has started off much sunnier and colder, although we've had a couple of showers, so March is managing to maintain its record of having some rainfall on all 17 days of the month so far. The forecast suggests that the next week or so should be much drier.

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Windy and Wet March Weather

I think it's safe to say that we've had our windiest spell of March weather in the last 10 years. We did manage a visit to the plot during a calmer spell of weather to do some harvesting and check to see if any damage had been done.
We'd escaped any serious damage, although someone had lost an empty dalek composting bin which had ended up trapped between our weigela bush and water tap. I'm assuming the owner will recover it. We've now had 10 days in a row where I’ve recorded a wind gust speed in excess of 20mph. They are highlighted in red in the table below. The previous March record was 8 days in a row, set in 2014.
March Wind Gust Speeds 2010 - 2019
Now I know that compared to the gust speeds quoted in the media, which are usually above 60 or more miles an hour, my record gusts above 20mph sound a bit odd so I'll explain. Ideally my anemometer should be set around 10m (33ft) above ground level but mine is set no more than 3m above ground level. When I set up my weather station my idea was that it would tell me how the weather was at ground level where all my gardening activities take place and how it might affect plants growing in the garden. My intention never was to produce weather data to match that recorded by professional meteorologists. We also live in an urban area, only 3 miles outside Wakefield City centre, and are surrounded by other houses. Usually those high wind speeds are recorded in exposed locations and have little relevance to our more sheltered location.

However, once the wind speeds exceed 20mph the plants begin to be battered about a bit in the garden which is why I keep a note of wind speeds above 20mph.
Between the showers, and in a little bit of sunshine on Friday afternoon, we visited a local garden centre. The results of the gale force winds were easy to spot.

Not only has it been windy, it's been wet too, with 71.0mm (2.8in) of rainfall so far this month, or about a month and a half's worth to date.
Temperature & Rainfall Records for March 2019
Everywhere is now rather soggy and we'll need some dry days to allow the ground to dry out a little bit. So far we haven't had a rain free day in March.
It's a good job we didn't have a wet January and February.

Sunday, 10 March 2019

Is The Benefit Slipping Away?

After two dry months to start off the year something had to give, and up to know we are waiting for our first rain free March day. Those lovely mild February days seem a long time ago, as we try to plan a trip to the allotment avoiding wet and windy weather.
We'd made really good progress at getting beds dug over ready for spring planting and the soil was just in the right condition for sowing and planting. I'm guessing that will not be the case now, with 32mm (1.3in) of rainfall already in March. That's almost as much as we had in January and February combined. It's beginning to feel like that all that early progress made in February is beginning to slip away, especially with another wet and windy week forecast.

It's tempting to start sowing some seeds to keep up with the trend on social media. I'd managed to resist the temptation until now by not sowing any seeds until Friday. I'd been considering sowing our leeks earlier, as they seem to take a long time from sowing to the time when they’re ready for planting out so I decided to get them sown. They will stay in the greenhouse for the next month or so before moving outside into the coldframe.
I popped in a few lettuce seeds as well. I'm not sure if they will germinate or not but there's plenty of seeds in the packet for successional sowings.

Next on the planting list is some early Casablanca potatoes in boxes in the plot greenhouse. We're aiming to get that done in the next dry spell when we can get down to the allotment and also harvest some fresh vegetables.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Wettest Month of the Year and Early Brassicas

I know we are only 7 days into March but it's already become the wettest month of the year as the total on Thursday afternoon notches up to 22.0mm or 0.87in.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 05-07 March 2019
After a lovely mild and dry February it's a shock to the system with a return to typically wet and windy March weather.
January and February were both very dry months with only around 17mm (0.67in) of rainfall in each month so it hasn’t taken an awful lot for March to become the wettest month of the year. I don't think there’s been enough rainfall to halt progress on the plot, although there does seem to be plenty more rain in the forecast, which might make the ground too wet for sowing and planting.

One of the first jobs we need to finish is the preparation of our early brassica bed.
This year's early brassica bed is on the right and has already been dug and had some lime incorporated into the soil. The weed control fabric covering the bed on the left needs to be moved across and then the bed will be ready for planting. I'll incorporate some fish blood and bone fertiliser into the soil before covering it over.

The plants to fill this bed arrived from DT Brown's today, and they've been potted on and will be left to recuperate from their journey for a few days before they move to the cold frame for hardening off and subsequent planting out on the allotment.
Hopefully, by early summer we'll be enjoying some lovely fresh vegetables.
In the past these early brassica plants haven't let us down and have produced some excellent crops.

Monday, 4 March 2019

Winter Returns?

The beginning of March sees the start of meteorological spring although with the collapse of the lovely mild weather to something more normal for the time of year it feels a bit like winter has returned. There's no doubt about it, February was a little bit special. 
February 2019 Temperature Records
In the end only the first two days of the month had daytime high temperatures below the expected average for the month with 27 February 2019 setting a ten year February high temperature of 16.9°C (62.4°). It probably goes without saying that this February turned out to be the mildest I've recorded over the last 10 years.
February Temperature & Rainfall Averages 2010-2019
February turned out to be a good month for getting lots of tidying up jobs done on the allotment not only because of the mild temperatures but because it turned out to be another dry month following on from a dry January.
I don't think we've ever made so much progress, tidying up the plot and getting beds dug over ready for spring planting, so early in the season. However, the fine February weather didn't tempt us into sowing any seeds but that job will begin in the next few weeks of early March.

Whilst February made it to number one spot in the mildest February chart it didn't do enough to make the winter of 2018/19 the mildest I've recorded.
Winter Temperature & Rainfall Averages 2010-2019
The average winter temperature finished at around average based on my records but that dry January and February I mentioned made it the driest winter of the last 10 years.

Perhaps I'll regret posting this but so far this is the worst of our winter snowfall.
Of course there is still the chance of a decent snowfall in either March or April.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Another February Record

The rather unbelievable weather has continued with Wednesday producing another 10 year high temperature for February reaching 16.9°C or 62.4°F.
Maximum & Minimum Temperatures for February 2019
Amazingly only the first two days of the month have had daytime temperatures below the average. However, nighttime lows have been much more up and down with a few frosty mornings. The unseasonably mild weather has now come to an end so the last day of the month is unlikely to set a new record.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

A New Record For February

After all the media hype about the very warm spell of weather for February it didn't dare not to produce a new record warm day for February. Friday produced the goods setting a new ten year high temperature for February at 16.7°C or 62.1°F. It was a close call though as the previous high was 16.6°C (61.9°F) set back in 2012.
Temperature Records 17-23 February 2019
We've been making use of the excellent weather getting more tidying up done and beds prepared for spring planting at the allotment.
The forecast is for the warm weather to continue through the weekend before starting to gradually cool down to more normal temperatures for the time of the year. We have so far resisted the temptation to do any early planting.