Monday, 29 June 2015

Carrot Spotting

It was a pleasant weekend weather wise with Saturday the better of the two days with far more sunshine. Both days were mild and much better than the earlier part of the month.

On the plot I decided to make use of our carrot tent of enviromesh, where the carrots for one reason or another have disappeared, to plant some left over lettuces which weren’t planted in our raised bed at home.
I had a little investigation to to see if I could spot any carrot seedlings growing alongside the few weeds that had germinated. I did manage to find a couple of carrot seedlings along the two rows I weeded.
It certainly wasn’t going to be a problem finding space to plant out a few lettuce plants. The soil was very dry but I don’t think that was the cause of our carrot disaster. Then pulling out a few more weeds I found I’d pulled out this tiny carrot too.
I wasn’t too disappointed at pulling it up as the top had been eaten away by slugs or snails so I don’t think it was ever going to grow to be a full size carrot.

The strange thing is, sown in the same bed and at the same time as our first carrot sowing are our parsnips Gladiator and they seem completely untouched.
It will be interesting to see if the slugs or snails now munch their way through the lettuces that I’ve planted out.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Another Go with Carrots

Friday was a cloudy but mild. Throughout the day we had a few sprinklings of raindrops now and again. By the end of the day they’d added up to 0.2mm of rainfall.

We decided to have a third attempt at getting some carrots to grow this year. Our first sowing germinated well but was devastated by slugs. We re-sowed some seeds but these germinated poorly and the slugs seem to have hoovered up any surviving seedlings. We’ve sown a third batch in another part of the plot. We chose some quick maturing varieties Early Nantes and Amsterdam Forcing due to sowing this late in the season.
The ground is now very dry and it could do with some good steady rain to improve things. Watering with tap water never seems to have the same effect as a decent amount of rain. When sowing the carrots on Friday each drill received a can full of water before sowing then a couple of can fulls over the bed to settle the seeds in once they were sown.
The chart above shows the rainfall for the last couple of months. May had a little bit above average rainfall but it mostly fell in the first few days of the month. Since then we haven’t had any decent spells of rainfall and as a result the plot and garden are very dry. I’m not sure what will happen if we do have the forecast high temperatures through the middle part of next week.
These potatoes planted rather late on 30 May look like they good do with a good drink. I’m not into watering potatoes though they just have to make the most of the conditions. Who knows I might produce the exact conditions for a Smith period and blight by watering especially in warmer weather.

The Interpretation of Smith Periods. Smith Periods for blight control are calculated from hourly temperature and relative humidity values. The weather records on which the post coded Smith Periods are based are supplied by the Met Office.  
A full Smith Period has occurred if, on each of 2 consecutive days: 
  • the minimum air temperature was at least 10°C, and
  • there were a minimum of 11 hours with a relative humidity of at least 90%

Friday, 26 June 2015

Blimey Look at Next Week’s Forecast

The decent weather continued on Wednesday and Thursday with the latter becoming the warmest day of the year at 24.5°C or 76.1°F.

Have you seen the forecast for next week? It looks like we’re due a scorcher in lots of places with the temperature reaching 30°C (86.0°F) or higher. Wednesday looks to be our hottest day with southern parts of England even hotter next Thursday. 
To read the Met Office posting in full click here.

Still there’s all most a week to go before then so it’s quite possible that the forecast will change before then.

I had to have a quick check on my hottest and coldest summer months chart for recent years. There’s little doubt that this June has been a bit on the cool side even if it doesn’t set any records.
Looking at this chart where the red line indicates the hottest recent summer and the blue line the coldest at the end of June the averages temperatures for both years were almost the same. Once we moved into July 1995, the hottest year saw the temperatures increase considerably where as in the cold year of 1998 the temperatures through July and August did little to improve the average at the end of June.

Perhaps some hot weather at the start of July is a good omen?

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Double and Single Tomato Flowers

After a chilly start Tuesday turned into a decent June day.

I couldn’t help but notice two very different flowers on our greenhouse tomatoes.
Tomato Ananas 
Tomato Sungold
Ananas is described as a heirloom variety producing large, slightly flattened beefsteak tomatoes with distinctive yellow and orange streaked skins. It’s the first time we’ve tried this variety and it is said to produce tomatoes weighing in at around 500gms or 1.1lbs each. It’s clearly not going to produce large trusses of fruit with tomatoes that size. The flowers it is producing are what I would describe as double flowers.

Sungold is producing what I would consider normal single tomato flowers. We grew this variety last year and it produces masses of small but very sweet and juicy tomatoes with lots of tomatoes to each truss.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Laws of Gravity and an Apricot

Monday was yet another poor day weather wise for June. It was cloudy and drizzly in the morning but started to clear up in the afternoon. The sun tried to come out and the temperature began to lift but in the middle of the afternoon we had some heavy showers. One with an intensity of 47.2mm/hr (1.86in/hr) almost matched the highest of the year of 51.4mm/hr (2.02in/hr) on 31 March 2015.
The first part of the afternoon wasn't too bad so I decided to pot up some seedlings in the greenhouse. I'd potted up some cabbages Tundra, some savoys Resolution and was concentrating on transplanting some wallflowers Tom Thumb when a little thudding noise made me look to my left.
On the top of the soil of our potted apricot Flavourcot there was one of our two precious fruits. Perhaps I should have taken a picture but I was more concerned about the state of the apricot. A quick and gentle wipe revealed that it wasn't damaged by its fall.
I thought it was best to sample the fruit straight away and headed for the house. There it was given a quick wash and had its photo taken, after all this was our first ever ripe apricot. Photos taken the apricot was carefully cut into two. At this stage I realised that it was a perfectly ripe fruit and the stone inside separated from the flesh without any difficulty.
Half each it was now down to the taste test. I know now what a ripe apricot should taste like. It was delicious. The problem is we only have one more fruit on the bush. We wondered last week how long we should wait before testing out our only two apricots. In the end this particular fruit made its and our minds up for us.

We now have to discover how to encourage our bush to produce more apricots next year.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mowing the Grape Vine

What an odd weekend weather we’ve had. As you can see from the chart Friday was cool and cloudy and very poor for June. Saturday morning started off even worse with some very light drizzle through the morning. It took until lunchtime for the rainfall to amount up to 0.2mm (0.01") and tip the measuring device in my rain gauge which measures in 0.2mm increments.
Temperature and Rainfall Friday - Sunday 19 - 21 June 2015
By mid afternoon the sun was doing its best to break through the clouds and the temperature started to lift reaching a high of 20.0°C (68.0°F) at 18:30. I thought that might be an end to the cool weather but it wasn’t to be as the temperature fell back to 11.5°C (52.7°F) during the night and didn’t get an awful lot higher all day on Sunday. 
During the decent spell on Saturday afternoon I did a little bit of pruning to our Himrod grapevine. Left to its own devices it would completely take over the greenhouse. Through summer it becomes a weekly task a bit like mowing the lawn. I have to be careful not to cut off any young bunches of grapes which is very easily done amid all the vine stems vying for the best growing position along the greenhouse ridge.
Once again this year we’ve lots of bunches of grapes. Each year I entertain the idea of cutting a few bunches off, hence increasing the size of the grapes on the remaining bunches but each year that’s as far as I get and all the bunches are left on the vine. I can’t bring myself to deliberately cut off some bunches. Who knows what might happen between now and the end of August when the grapes are usually lovely and sweet and ready to pick. 

It’s possible that in one of the many pruning sessions required before then that one or two bunches may accidentally get the chop much to my annoyance. They have to be quickly hidden in the wheelie bin before my mistake is spotted.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


Friday continued our cool spell of weather for June. Friday’s high was fractionally lower than Thursday’s, pushing yesterday’s record a little bit further into June. Today’s high was 14.8°C or 58.6°F.

As if we hadn’t enough rhubarb growing on the plot we received a variety called Poulton’s Pride from DT Brown today.
I’ve potted each root into a larger pot to allow it to grow on a bit before planting it out on the plot. I don’t suppose rhubarb will mind this spell of cool June weather.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Not a Good June Is It

Thursday was cool and windy. The temperature only made it up to 14.9°C (58.8°F) making it the lowest high temperature this far into June in the last six years.
On the plot more tender plants refuse to grow. Our second sowing of carrots has germinated very poorly and we’re thinking of trying another sowing on another part of the plot. Our outdoor tomato plants aren’t showing any signs of growing and to make matters even worse our climbing French beans and runner beans have been devastated by slugs.
Fortunately it wasn’t all bad news on the plot as we had a our first little harvest of strawberries from our newly planted bed. 
The ones above are Fenella and we also picked a few Vibrant as well. How did they do in the taste test - well both were delicious but perhaps Fenella took the honours by a short taste bud.