Thursday, 11 February 2016

Chitting the Rest

As it was a lovely sunny day I decided to move our seed potatoes from the garage into the greenhouse to chit. These varieties are listed below with a brief description of each.
These have all been placed onto a greenhouse shelf and covered with a couple of layers of horticultural fleece to keep the worst of any cold and frosty weather at bay.
Casablanca will be the first to be planted late on in March if weather conditions allow otherwise as soon as possible in April. I always think it’s better to plant when the conditions are right rather than on a set date in the year.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A Bit of Advanced Planning.

After visiting our local garden centre’s potato day a couple of weeks ago we added six new varieties of potatoes to grow this year. I've decided that they would all neatly fit into our potato bed on plot 42 keeping all our new experimental varieties together. Our provisional layout of beds on plot 42 with our planned crops for this year is shown in each of the four beds in the plan below. 
These beds follow a simple four year rotation with each crop moving round one bed in a clockwise direction every year.Our trial potato varieties with a few details of each are listed below.

For the moment the tubers have been placed in the greenhouse to stop the tiny green shoots becoming leggy. The tubers will remain in the greenhouse until planting time in early April - weather conditions permitting.
They've been covered with a few layers of fleece as protection against frosty nights before planting time.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

It’s Wet in Cumbria Isn't It?

Generally it hasn't been too bad a week for February with the weather continuing on the mild side with some nice sunny spells.

The forecast for Saturday didn't look too bad - well the morning looked dry with the possibility of some rain in the afternoon. As it turned out the forecast was wrong - very wrong. I’d decided it was my last chance to get some photos as videos of the world famous steam locomotive 60103 Flying Scotsman. After some test runs in the week it was scheduled to haul the Cumbrian Mountain Express to Carlisle on Saturday.
Our trip up the A1 to Scotch Corner wasn't too bad although it was a little bit misty in places. By the time we’d stopped for coffee at a farm shop near Scotch Corner not only was it misty but it had started to rain too.

By the time we reached the Cumbrian border it was cold and rainy which I suppose is only to be expected in early February.
Our Sat Nav managed to find some of the narrow Cumbrian roads to get to our chosen vantage point and at least on this occasion we avoided any closed bridges. 
As I had suspected we wouldn't be the only ones out trying to get some photos of Flying Scotsman and by the time we arrived at Lowgill, other enthusiasts had already arrived. Need I confirm that it was pouring down with rain. After a bit of a discussion we decided our best option was to use an umbrella to protect both us and our cameras from the rain. It’s not that simple to take video and photos sheltering under a small umbrella. We’ll have to lash out and buy a bigger one for future rain affected photo opportunities. 
So this is the best still image we managed grabbed off some video. Neither video or photography went according to plan due to sheltering under the umbrella.

After an excellent lunch in Hawes we set off to Garsdale to try our luck at some photos as Flying Scotsman headed up the Settle and Carlisle line. By now the roads were rather wet with some very large puddles in places. 
My camera was already playing up which I think was due to it getting damp in the morning although it was certainly sheltered from the rain. In the end we took the comfortable option of trying to photograph and video the train from the comfort of the car with the windscreen wipers working hard to keep the windscreen clear. It might have been the comfortable option but it didn't work very well at all. 
The Flying Scotsman’s next public outing will be its inaugural run from London Kings Cross to York on 25 February 2016 when it will have been repainted in its BR green livery.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Hardly Surprising - Gales to Start Off the Month

The month has got off to a windy start although not wet and windy. Monday was windy enough to make it into number 3 spot in my windy day records since January 2010. It didn't seem to let up at all for the whole day.
January turned out to be another mild month so combined with the exceptionally mild December we could easily finish up with a very mild winter.
From the graph it looks like February would need to be a little bit on the cold side to bring it down below that red line. I haven’t seen anything to suggest we are going to have anything other than a fairly average February so it looks like a record might be on the cards.

Monday, 1 February 2016

Steam and Potatoes

The weekend was cold and miserable but it didn't stop us from visiting the Great Central Railway's Winter Steam Gala. We were lucky to miss any showers that were around although there were a few snowflakes falling late into the afternoon.

There's obviously been plenty of rain in Leicestershire judging from the amount of water in the railway car park. Some puddles were the size of a mini lakes.
It wasn't an afternoon to be very far away from the cafe. A cup of coffee is great for warming fingers back up after they've become numb spending a couple of hours clicking away in freezing cold weather taking photos.
Fortunately all the necessary facilities are well sign posted. 

The Great Central Railway always seem to manage to arrange for a few historical vehicles to be on show in the car park. This particular vehicle wasn't on show but it looks as though it needs a bit of TLC.
Heading home on Saturday evening we encountered some snow showers on the M1 as we headed north but nothing too serious. Once we were home the snow showers continued and around midnight we had a covering of soft, slushy snow.

By Sunday morning the snow had disappeared but the weather continued cold and damp - not out of the ordinary for the end of January. One of our local garden centres had arranged a potato weekend where it was possible to sample a selection of potato varieties cooked in different ways. If you find any that you like, individual tubers can be purchased. We tasted a few different varieties and then decided to buy a few tubers of some varieties we've never grown to see how they perform in the plot and more importantly how they cook and taste.
In the end we finished up with 5 tubers each of six varieties each for £1.00. As you’re allowed to pick out your own tubers I went for the biggest I could find. To be honest all the tubers on sale looked to be in excellent condition. Now I've got to keep them that way until planting time.

The varieties we chose are listed below.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Ready For the Off?

Friday was another blustery day with gale force winds and some intermittent showers. It continued mild for late January. 
We had a nice mid morning rainbow but I couldn't find a spot in the garden where the full rainbow was visible. Then we had our final delivery from Kings seeds. This time it was a couple of sacks of seed potatoes.
They're not all for us I hasten to add a few are for other plot holders as we have ordered through the Kings Allotment Holders Scheme. I’m guessing I’ll have to get them set out in trays to chit in the greenhouse over the next few days. It’s a matter of keeping them cool so that they don’t start growing too quickly producing long thin straggly shoots. They won’t be planted for a couple of months. We don’t normally start planting our potatoes until the beginning of April.

We had a quick visit to a garden centre on Wednesday afternoon and apparently I bought another hellebore, Spring Promise, to add to our ever growing collection.   
Whoever decided on the purchase I think it was a pretty good choice.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Mixed Up

The last four days (Monday to Thursday) have been a bit mixed. In general it's been very mild for late January but with a few cooler spells thrown in for good measure. We've avoided any further frosts but had to put up with some windy weather instead. It's rained at times but not to any great extent and not enough to cause any more localised flooding problems.
The rainfall on my chart looks a bit more dramatic then it’s been in reality due to scaling issues. Wednesday's rain amounted to 2.0mm (0.08”) so less than that on other days with a total amount of 6.2mm (0.24”) by mid morning on Friday. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

An All Time Record for 2016 Already

Sunday wasn't a sunny day but it was very mild in fact the mildest January day since records began, well since my records began in 2010. The high temperature managed 14.7°C (58.5°F) and with a low for the day of only 9.2°C (48.6°F) giving a daily average of 12.9°C (55.2°F) also a record for January.
It looks like mild and wet weather is due to last through the week and into next weekend. It might just tempt our snowdrops to flower.