Wednesday, 1 October 2014

I'm not So Sure!

Tuesday was another nice day to end September with a very pleasant afternoon temperature of 21.4°C.

I decided it was time to get on with a bit more autumn lawn treatment. I did aerate a small part of one lawn a few weeks ago as a test of my new aerator. It seems to work alright so the rest of the lawn got the aerator treatment and a rake with the tined rake to remove old dead grass and moss.
This is how the lawn by the pond looks like after treatment. A dry September has had an effect and there’s not a lot of green grass left now. It looks like it could do with some of the greenery I raked out putting back but it’s a bit late now.
It’s got some pretty large bald patches and by the log roll edging where some moss had taken hold there’s nothing but bare soil where the moss has been raked out. I think I'm going to try to reseed a few areas and see if it will germinate before any cold weather arrives.

The lawn in front of the greenhouse is looking a little bit better. At least it looks to have a bit more grass and only has one area that looks a bit iffy. 
I might scatter a little bit of seed in this area too although there aren’t any big bald patches in this lawn.

The best bit of grass is by the puddle pond where the grass has a few stepping stones set in as it’s our regular route up to the greenhouse. This bit of grass didn't look too good when I’d finished the steps leading to the summer house earlier in the summer. It had suffered badly from too much treading on along with a scattering of mortar and bits and pieces of stonework.
This is the one area of lawn where I won’t need to do any reseeding.

I'm sure the grass will recover well especially once the current spell of dry weather comes to an end. Aeration and a good raking certainly haven’t done anything to improve its appearance but this is all about having a better lawn next summer. That’s what I'm hoping for whether it works out that way only time will tell.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Apples Harvested

Monday never really managed to sort itself out. It started out a bit murky and later in the morning the sun did its best to break through the clouds but never really managed to accomplish the break through. We left the plot earlier than intended in the afternoon as it began to rain. It wasn't very heavy but it continued into the evening bringing the total rainfall for the month up to 9.6mm.

The forecast is for the good settled weather to come to end in the next few days with more unsettled conditions spreading in from the west bringing rain and winds. It seemed it might be a good day to harvest the remaining apples.  We picked our first few Discovery apples on 05 August and we've harvested various varieties regularly since then.
Most of the apples left for picking were on our apple hedge. We don’t know for certain any of the varieties that make up the hedge but we've named them all as best we can. Unusually this year we've a crop from our “Worcester Permain”. Normally we only get one or two apples from this tree but for some reason its done extremely well this year producing a good crop of good sized apples. It’s an excellent dessert apple. 
We also had a good crop from Egremont Russet which is my favourite apple. We know this variety for certain as we planted this tree a few years ago now in 2008.
As you can see this year’s crop was pretty good with some fairly large sized eating apples.
All the slightly damaged apples will be sorted and used up quickly in apple crumble or frozen to use through winter. The rest will be stored in the fridge in the garage where they will keep in good condition for a few weeks.

Perhaps it’s time to bring the “Crown Prince” squashes home before the weather turns for the worse?

I've finished editing part one of my video of our visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway covering Friday 26 September. There’s plenty of smoke, steam and some stunning Yorkshire Moors scenery too. Click here for the video link.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Smoke and Steam on the North Yorkshire Moors

The last few days haven’t been too bad for the end of September. Certainly Friday was the best of the days with some long sunny spells and early morning on Sunday was the coldest with the temperature falling to 4.4°C.

We spent a couple of days filming and photographing on the North Yorkshire Moors around the railway’s autumn steam gala which is held usually over three days every September. On these occasions I normally do the filming and the photography is down to Sue. That includes any pictures of steam locomotives. 
This shot is taken high on the moors overlooking Whitby and the North Sea beyond. It’s possible to make out the remains of Whitby Abbey perched on the top of the cliffs. Of course I can never be sure that Sue’s camera is trained on the steam locomotives and I'm never disappointed with the variety of pictures from one of our expeditions.
We just happened to park the car by the gate to where this beast was kept. I'm not sure that’s a pleased to see you look. But beasts of a different sort were on the main agenda and this picture of 45428 Eric Treacy (named after a Bishop of Wakefield who was a keen steam train photographer), with the dining train The Pickering Pullman, was taken at Goathland station.
We had an afternoon walk from Goathland station to Darnholme, a lovely spot on the railway for taking photographs. It’s a rather steep walk in places but the scenery is well worth the effort. This picture doesn't do justice to the steps which Sue will confirm have individual rises of half a metre.
The railway shots aren’t bad either as the locomotives have to work hard on the climb from Beck Hole to Goathland.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Our Pear Tree Thinks It’s a Fig

Wednesday wasn't too bad a day with some decent sunny spells although there were a few rather threatening clouds about at times.
Our pear tree Invincible had lots of flowers in spring as this photo taken on 18 April shows.
By the middle of May things looked to be shaping up for a good crop of pears. Lots of the flowers seemed to have set fruit so we were hopeful of a good crop.
But as I’m sure all gardener’s are aware, you can never count on anything until it’s harvested and even then there might be other issues. Anyway these fruits never got much bigger than in the picture before they all parted company with the tree. Since the middle of May the tree has produced a few flowers at varying times through summer. Unfortunately these flowers haven’t gone on to produce full size pears but at the moment we have two generations of pears on this little tree.
We have three or four fruits that are the size of mini pears. As you can see this one isn't much bigger than the leaves on the tree. Then there’s another generation of fruit on the tree from some later flowers.
The only other fruit tree I can remember seeing with different generations of fruit is a fig tree. I suppose I should remove these fruits from the tree as they are never going to have a chance of forming full size fruits. Then again I've never been any good at thinning out tree fruit so I’ll probably wait for them to fall off naturally.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Finding Autumn Onions

Early Tuesday morning was the coolest of the cool starts this month with the temperature down to 5.7°C. Another bright sunny morning soon warmed it up a bit but by early afternoon it clouded over eventually turning into a damp murky late afternoon and evening. We even managed a bit of light drizzle adding 0.6mm of rainfall to this month's miserly total of 8.2mm.
We spent a large chunk of the afternoon visiting nearly all our local garden centres in our bid to buy some autumn onions and garlic. On the Internet from the mainstream gardening companies there’s always a good selection of onions and garlic. Unfortunately there seems to be no control about the dispatch dates for these onions and a couple of years ago it was the middle of October before our order arrived. It was far too late for us and the onions never had a chance to grow. Winter arrived as they were planted and the tiny sets never made any attempt to grow and just rotted away over winter.

We decided then that we’d be better off buying locally and planting in September rather than October. This does however mean a very limited choice of varieties to grow. This was our collection after visiting eight garden centres. The larger establishments are now preparing for Christmas and garden products take a back seat, how sad is that, with only another 91 days to go, whilst the smaller ones have a red and brown onion variety to choose from. 

Still we had this problem last year and we are only just finishing the last of last year’s autumn onions so even though we had a limited choice we did actually have a crop of onions. It’s tempting to go back online for a better choice but with a possibility of no crop due to late delivery of sets  I think we’ll stick with the limited choice offered by our local garden centres.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Concrete Soil!

Monday was a super September day. With clear blue skies in the morning. It warmed up nicely from an early morning low of 6.1°C to a pleasant 19.7°C in the afternoon.
Woody took up his morning spot at the top of the weather station pole, against a clear blue sky, to survey the garden and see what was on offer.

I decided it was time to prepare a bed on the plot for planting our autumn onion sets. I knew it was going to be a bit tricky as after three weeks of dry weather the soil doesn't break down easily into a fine tilth. The bed had grown a summer potato crop and had been dug over as the potatoes were lifted so it was a soil preparation job only.
After some cultivating, incorporating some fertiliser and much raking the soil eventually looked like this. It should be suitable for planting our onion sets in. There is a but coming though. Look carefully in the foreground and you will see the soil raked to one end of the bed which consists of gravel size lumps of soil that have the consistency of concrete and weren't going to break up into a suitable state.   
Then there were these lumps of soil. A couple of barrowfulls of rock hard soil were picked up and moved to another part of the plot. These can be whacked with the back of a spade and very little damage done. I'm hoping some rain and frost will break these down over winter and convert them back into soil for next spring.
The bed was finally covered with weed control fabric and a layer of manure laid on the top of this to keep it in place. All we need now are the onion sets for planting.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Poised for a Dry Calm Month?

Sunday was much brighter than the last few days although it clouded over around lunchtime for a while. A couple of coolish nights with the temperature falling to 6.9°C and 6.1°C are a reminder that autumn’s here.

After a wet, windy and cold August, September has so far turned out dry, calm and mild in comparison.
At the moment September is in line to be one of the driest months of the last five years but of course it will only take one wet day in the remaining week or so to change things around.

There’s also the possibility of September joining June 2011 as the only month in the last 5 years when we haven’t had a gust of wind over 15mph. 

After a colder than average August when the average temperature for the month ended up at 15.1°C, the average for September (up to midnight on 21 September) was 14.9°C very little difference to August. September’s temperature is around the expected value but does go to show what a cool month August was.

The forecast for the rest  of the month seems rather similar with high pressure remaining in charge of the weather. The real test for the forecasters is to accurately predict when we can expect a change in the current weather pattern. 

Updated weather charts to the 21 September can be found here.


Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sunshine Please

Saturday was a dull and miserable day. It wasn’t particularly cold for mid to late September with an afternoon temperature of  16.4°C. My weather station has recorded only 36 minutes of sunshine for the whole of the last four days.

Sunday has started much brighter if a little cooler.
White Cloud
I've noticed that BBC Autumnwatch will be coming from RSPB Leighton Moss this year. Having quickly looked at the picture taken at the reserve on Friday this cheeky little robin is probably going to be one of the best.
He or she popped out of the hedgerow and perched on a gate we were going through. It wasn't in a rush to head for cover and I think it expected a few meal worms in return for the pose. Unfortunately it was out of luck. Just in case you were wondering it did have two legs.  
It’s back to the allotment today to see if we can prepare some ground for planting some winter onions. With virtually no rainfall this month our soil is very dry and not easily broken down into a fine tilth for planting. Then a trip to the local garden centre for some onion sets.