Wednesday, 16 October 2019

A Cold October So Far!

Gardening activities have gone on hold due to the wet weather. In the last 24 days we've managed just 3 dry days and a rainfall total of 129.9mm (5.11in) or the best part of 3 months rainfall in a little over 3 weeks.
The rainfall isn't the only thing though, as it's been an unusually cool start to the month as well. Daytime temperatures have really struggled to reach anything like average values for October.
High Temperature October 2010 - 2019 
The image above shows part of my table of daytime high temperatures for the last 10 Octobers. The highest October daytime temperature for each year is shown in the red box. At the moment a value of 15.9°C (60.6°F) is the lowest value over those 10 years.

The second table below shows the temperature record for this year with the monthly high temperatures indicated in the red box.
Temperature Records for 2019
Amazingly, only January has a lower daytime high temperature with even February managing one day reaching 16.9°C or 62.4°F. At least, night time temperatures have held up reasonably well, with the exception of the third of the month when it fell to 1.6°C or 34.9°F. Perhaps this means we are due a couple of nice warm days before the month is out, however, the weather models are suggesting a cold snap towards the end of the month rather than any warmer weather.

Monday, 14 October 2019

Gardening Activities Have Stopped!

We've had more rain over the last week, enough to put a stop to visits to the plot. We've managed only 2 dry days so far in October. Whilst we've had more rain over the last week it's not been in large amounts but enough each day to keep the already saturated ground saturated. By Sunday night October's rainfall has already amounted to 46.8mm (1.84in) and is already above October's average for the last 10 years.
Temperatures have staged a bit of a recovery over the last week but still only October 2012 remains colder at this point in the month. We've just had a couple of days where the daytime temperature has reached what we might expect at this time of the year. The recovery in the average daily temperature has been due to some milder nights.

We haven't visited the plot since my last blog post when we cut back the hazel and cobnut trees and began removing the honeyberry bushes. We'll need to visit soon to harvest a few fresh vegetables. There's plenty of jobs to be getting on with both at the allotment and in the garden but we need a spell of better weather before we can make a start on them.

We did have a day out on Saturday heading up to Cumbria and then to the Settle to Carlisle Railway line to do a little bit of steam train photography. We managed to find some heavy showers in Cumbria but at Ribblehead Viaduct conditions were much better with some sunny spells. I've included our video of 6201 Princess Elizabeth working hard on the climb up to Shap summit on the West Coast Main Line and then as she crosses the famous Ribblehead Viaduct on the picturesque Settle to Carlisle railway line. 

6201 Princess Elizabeth crossing Ribblehead Viaduct - The Cumbrian Mountain Express

There still doesn't seem to be much improvement in the forecast for the next week but there seems to be the possibility of some drier weather towards the end of the month.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Cold and Wet First Week of October

It's been a cold and wet start to October in fact one of the wettest and coldest starts I've recorded.
October Average Temperatures 2010-2019 
As you can see from the table above, colour coded red to blue indicating hottest to coldest, it's almost the coldest start to October with only 2012 marginally colder after the first 8 days of the month. It was cold enough on the third of the month for a touch of frost which finished off our courgettes.
It has been the wettest start to October I've recorded as indicated in the table below. 
October Rainfall Totals 2010-2019
The rain has meant that the beds on the allotment have gone from too dry to dig to too wet in the space of about two weeks. Autumn digging is on hold until the soil dries out a little bit. I know that digging over the ground now when its too wet will lead to problems in spring and it will be difficult to prepare the soil for sowing and planting.

That doesn't mean that all allotment jobs are on hold and beds can still be cleared of their summer crops and the cleared vegetation added to the compost heap. We've been thinking all summer about clearing our honeyberry fruit bushes which over the last six or seven years that they've been planted haven't produced us a single honeyberry. They are going to be cleared to make way for some new gooseberry bushes. 
It's a patch of the allotment that has become rather neglected due to the fact that it has been very unproductive. The cobnut and hazel tree growing nearby have been cut back. Both trees produce cobnuts but these are eaten by the squirrels long before the nuts are ready to pick.
Whilst the trees have been cut back the honeyberry bushes still need to be cut back and dug up. It's one of those jobs on the allotment where the cutting back doesn't take too long at all it's the sorting out of all the debris that takes the time.
I’ve now got a large heap of hazel and cobnut branches to sort out. Many of the branches will make some excellent sturdy bean poles for next year and the smaller branches will make some fine pea sticks. Any left over material that isn't suitable for the compost heap will hopefully be burnt on a bonfire later in autumn.

Meanwhile we need some decent weather to dry out the ground and dry off some of the prunings that will need to be burnt.

Friday, 4 October 2019

After A Wet September, October Begins With A Cold Spell

September seemed like an odd month to me. It certainly didn't seem like an extension of summer more like the immediate arrival of autumn. Early in the month we had a few cold nights which came as a real shock after a hot spell towards the end of August.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 04 August to 02 September 2019
After August's hot spell we had a dry spell of weather and although we had some rainfall it was no more than enough to keep the top of the soil moist. Such was the spell of dry weather that by the middle of September we decided some parts of the allotment needed some water.
When our mid month birds' eye video was made, our hosepipe was set up to water our brassicas. Of course doing this could only result in one outcome, a spell of wet weather. September went from being one of the driest over the last 10 years to the wettest in a matter of days. Firstly, 24th September became the wettest day of the year only for the 29th to take over the record. By the end of the month September had become the wettest month of the year and the wettest September of the last 10 years.
Average Temperatures & Rainfall Records for September 2010-2019
Temperature wise, September 2019 was around average for the last 10 years producing no high or low temperatures worthy of note.

Initially, we didn't think we'd be able to start digging over beds at the allotment because it was too dry. Now it might be too wet but we'll have to pay a visit to see just what condition the ground is in. Even if we can't start our autumn digging we've got plenty of clearing up to do with lots of spent crops to be cleared away to the compost heap.

If you would like to have a look around our plot at the end of September I've added a video tour below.

October has started wet and cold with an early morning low of 1.6°C (34.9°F) on Thursday and more than likely a touch of frost. It will be interesting to see if our dahlias survived at the allotment. It's the coldest start to October in the last 10 years.
The above chart showing October's average temperatures is a little bit messy but the purple line showing the average temperature for the first few days of the month indicates clearly how cold a start to the month we've had.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Wouldn't You Just Know It!

It seems incredible that it was only a week ago that the allotment was too dry to contemplate autumn digging. Now after a wet week it may well be too wet. We haven't visited since the rain started but over the last week we've had 68.2mm (2.7in) of rain. That's well over a month's worth of rain since last Monday.
Temperature & Rainfall Data 23-29 September 2019
Last Tuesday was the equal wettest day of the year but that has now been superseded by Sunday with 20.4mm (0.8in) of rainfall.

Needless to say we haven't done much on the plot with all the rain but we did visit the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Autumn Gala and rather unsurprisingly it rained there too.

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Drought Over - Equal Wettest Day of the Year

Following on from Sunday, Tuesday was another wet day equalling the wettest day of the year with 18.2mm or 0.72in.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 24 September 2019
It tied with 28 July this year when we had the same amount of rainfall. Our main weather records for this year are listed in the table below.
It's probably as well that I lifted the last of our potatoes on Monday which were dry enough to store in hessian sacks after drying off on the grass for a couple of hours.
The ground should be moist enough now to start some autumn digging.

Monday, 23 September 2019

A Wet Day - At Last!

Sunday was our wettest day since the end of July. Not that we had any great amount of rain 10.8mm (0.43in) all together but it almost doubled this month's rainfall which now stands at 23.2mm or 0.91in. The month's previous rainfall has all come in small amounts which don't do any good as far as watering the garden or allotment are concerned.
Temperature & Rainfall Details for 22 September 2019
The morning rainfall came as heavy showers with the first one setting a record for this year as the heaviest rainfall of the year at 90mm/hr or 3.54in/hr. Fortunately it only lasted for a few minutes.

Hopefully, there will have been enough rainfall for us to make a start at digging over a few empty beds on the allotment.
Plots 41 & 42
Most of our potatoes were dug up at the end of August and the ground was very dry and didn't dig over very well at all so we decided to leave digging over empty beds until we got some decent rainfall.

The fruit season on the allotment has almost come to an end now. It began with rhubarb followed by strawberries, gooseberries, tayberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, blueberries, plums, greengages and finally apples and pears which we harvested during the week.
 Egremont Russet
We've still a few more apples to pick but that will hopefully be completed this week, the only problem will be finding somewhere to store them. Normally, the final fruit of the season to be harvested would be our quinces but this year we've had a crop failure with our Meeches Prolific failing to live up to its name and not producing any fruits at all.

Our remaining brassicas, carrots and parsnips will all remain in the ground over winter and be harvested as required. The carrots and parsnips will be covered with straw to protect them from the worst of any frosts and to help lifting them should any spells of prolonged cold weather occur through winter. Autumn has arrived!

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Weird Sky and Looking Forward to Spring Cabbage

After a very cold start Saturday was a pleasant sunny day but with a very strange sunset.
We are in a particularly dry spell of weather with very little rainfall over the last month. We've had small amounts of drizzly rain on a number of days but it's not been enough to do any good for watering plants. We took pity on our brassicas and leeks at the allotment and gave them a good soaking.
Temperature and Rainfall Records 16 August - 15 September 2019
Over the course of a month we'd expect around 50mm or 2in of rainfall rather than the 25mm or 1in we've actually had over the last 4 weeks. It also includes a very hot week at the end of August so it's not surprising with virtually no rainfall to speak of since that hot spell that the ground is very dry.

I sowed some spring cabbage on 29 July directly on the plot after some sown at home were devoured by snails soon after germinating. Surprising the amount of damage they do even in a dry spell of weather. 
Spring cabbage 'April' sown on plot 
They've been watered regularly and have produced some good plants but they needed thinning out and transplanting into our winter brassica bed. With the ground being very dry I've kept putting off transplanting them but decided on Saturday it couldn't be delayed any longer.
Although it might not look like it from the photo above, they received lots of water during the transplanting process with each row getting a couple of cans of water. Hopefully, they'll recover from the shock and produce some tasty cabbages next spring. They were covered with environmesh in an attempt to keep the cabbage white butterflies and pigeons at bay. There doesn't appear to be much rainfall in the forecast for the next week so it will be important to keep them well watered until they get established.