Thursday, 28 August 2014

Carrot Inspections

Wednesday was another dull August day but there are rumours about that the weather may pick up a bit next week for a few days only. We shall see.

We've had plenty of fresh vegetables from the plot over the last month or so without missing our carrots which have been left to their own devices growing away under their environmesh tent. 
The last time I remember looking in the tent our carrots looked like this. We were a bit concerned that slugs had decimated a couple of rows of young carrot seedlings so we made some extra sowings. Since then Sue’s weeded a couple of times whilst the carrots were quite small. Despite using weed control fabric some weeds do grow between the seedlings and the edge of the cut fabric.

I thought it was about time to look inside the tent and see how our carrots had performed.
This is the tent from the outside and apart from looking full of green vegetation there’s not much of a clue as to how our carrots had grown inside it.
Inside was full of lush green carrot tops and not too many signs of any large weeds although I’m sure there will be some in there somewhere. So the only thing left was to carefully move some of the tops aside so I could manoeuvre my fork between the carrots and weed control fabric and lift our first “Early Nantes” carrots of the season. 
The first signs were good and a combination of easing roots out with the fork and pulling the carrot top revealed some decent roots. We always get some smallish carrots because, going against all good gardening advice, we never thin out our carrots. Our method works too so I'm not going to change it.
We had one rather enormous carrot and a few medium sized ones together with a few smaller carrots but all of a useable size. A couple of carrots had forked but had done so at the very end of the root and we don’t mind odd shaped carrots. None of the carrots had any slug damage to the useable parts of the carrot but the largest one had been nibbled around the shoulder which had turned a little green and needed discarding in any case.

If the remaining crop are like this I won’t be complaining. They've already had the taste test which they passed with flying colours.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Moving Inside

The weather’s been so poor of late that a couple of hours of sunshine on Tuesday afternoon felt like summer had returned. After a cool dull morning the sunshine tempted us out into the garden.

Our apricot “Flavourcot” and Nectarine “Fantasia” have now been moved into the greenhouse in an attempt to stop peach leaf curl fungus attacking the plants. A cause of this can be due to winter rainfall so the trees will have some protection and hopefully some lovely leaves and fruit next year.
Our pot grown apple tree “Baya Marisa” suffered a little bit in the July heat. The pot it was in was a little too small to keep the tree watered so it’s been moved into a much larger pot where hopefully it will be convinced that it’s really growing in the garden.
Looking at the pot in the photo it doesn't look that large but it’s almost 600mm wide at the top and full of compost it’s not exactly manoeuvrable. 

That just leaves our peach tree to move inside the greenhouse and once that is done we will have some space outside for some more potted fruit trees. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

What a Shocker

It’s been a very poor August weather wise so far but I think it saved the worst for Bank Holiday Monday. It turned out to be a very dull cool day with drizzle or light spells of rain all day followed by some heavier rainfall late on into the evening.
With more rain in the early hours of Tuesday morning bringing the monthly total up to 95.2mm it’s made August 2014 the wettest month of the year and it’s the wettest August of the five years I've been keeping records. 
Bank Holiday Monday’s temperature never really managed much above 13°C and it was even cooler for most of the morning. The result is that the average monthly temperature has now fallen to 15.1°C, the coolest I've recorded, and which I think from Met Office records would make it the coldest August since 1993 which had an average temperature of 14.6°C. 
Unless we have some exceptionally cold days, which aren’t in the forecast, I don’t think the average will fall to that 1993 temperature.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Grapes Galore

Sunday was one of the better days of the last few weeks with some decent sunny spells and the afternoon temperature reaching a very pleasant 19.7°C.

After a rather disastrous year in the home greenhouse last year, things are doing much better this year. Sue posted a greenhouse August update here. One thing I've tried to do this year is keep our grape vine Himrod under better control. It produces an large heavy crop of sweet grapes every year but left to its own devices it will fill the greenhouse full of shoots exploring all parts of the greenhouse.
The main stem of the vine is trained along the roof of the greenhouse and the never ending new shoots and leaves can soon cut out much of the light. In hot sunny weather this can produce some useful shade but in duller damper weather it reduces much needed light. This year I was determined to keep it in check if at all possible.
The pruning process has to start early on in the season and the first worry is will the vine produce some grapes if all its new shoots are constantly cut back. As you can see we have no shortage of grapes despite my attempts to stop the vine in its tracks.

My efforts to stop the grape vine taking over haven’t been totally successful as its managed to cunningly send out some tendrils behind the tomato plants where I can’t reach them.
It’s now in need of its weekly trim. I’ll trim back all the shoots leaving a couple of leaves near the main stem of the vine. It should keep us supplied with grapes until the end of September providing we don’t get any really cold nights.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Flamenco - Yes or No?

Saturday was another cool August day (I very nearly typed autumn instead of August) with a few sunny spells to a least brighten up the day. Our average temperature for August has now fallen to 15.3°C and into the coldest August over the last five years spot. It still has some time left to make a comeback though.

We still haven’t decided on our strawberry varieties for our new patch to be planted up next spring. We did decide back in the middle of the strawberry picking season that we wouldn't bother growing an everbearing variety. Flamenco is our everybearing variety at the moment and it didn't perform very well back in early summer. Who needs poor performing strawberry plants. 
For the second week in a row our old Flamenco plants have yielded up a punnet of delicious strawberries. A few fruits had some slug damage and a couple of strawberries had gone mouldy on the plants, not a surprise given the autumnal nature of the weather for the last couple of weeks. I think they've now done enough to earn a second chance.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

A Week of Computer Issues

It wasn't that good a day for August but we decided on making a visit to Breezy Knees Gardens and Nursery located close to York. The chances were that it might not be the best of days to head in the direction of York. It meant heading in the direction of Bramham Park where the Leeds Music Festival is taking place and the Ebor race meeting at York as well as early Bank Holiday traffic heading along the A64 to the east coast. Luckily we didn't have any major traffic problems.
The gardens alone were well worth the visit and gave us some good ideas as to what to grow for colour in late August and into September.
What a pity that having spent a couple of hours looking around the gardens photographing and making notes of what we would like to grow these plants weren't available in the nursery. It’s not the only gardens or show where we've discovered something we would like to grow only to find it unavailable to buy. We can’t have been the only ones who didn't part with any money because having found the star varieties walking around the gardens the nursery didn't stock them. These plants are available to buy on the Internet so these nurseries seem to be missing out on some sales.

That brings me onto yet another computer issue. I was going to add some photos of the gardens to my Flickr account but for the second time in a few months I am unable to access my account. It’s linked to a BT account which I can access and view all the details of such as payments but it won’t let me look at any pictures. As I mentioned earlier, this is the second time that I have been locked out of my account with no means of rectifying the problem so I think it’s goodbye to Flickr. BT can’t help and can only suggest passing me on to Yahoo who will no doubt blame Flickr. I don’t intend to go down that line.

I have added an album to my Facebook account which can be found here.

Friday, 22 August 2014

August Records May Tumble

Thursday was another poor day for August. The sun never managed to break through the heavy cloud cover and that also kept the temperature down to a disappointing 16.6°C. Some rainfall late evening and overnight into Friday morning brought our total for the month up to 81.2mm.

As we move into, more or less, the final week of August I updated the charts on my weather web pages. This month could set a few unwanted August records based on my records for the last five years. It could turn out to be:
  • The coldest 
  • The wettest
  • The windiest
  • And finally least sunny

It’s certainly been the windiest August of the last four years for which I have records. If the average temperature drops another 0.2°C by the end of the month it will become the coldest whilst another 3.4mm of rainfall will make it the wettest too. As for sunshine we need to manage another 23.3 hours by the month’s end to prevent it taking the least sunny record too.

Updated records for August 2014 can be found on my web site here.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Couldn't Help Myself

I'd decided on a plot visit in the afternoon. It promised to be another coolish August day and provided it stayed dry my plan was to get all our grass paths cut. As I was moving the mower from the garage to the car the heavens opened and it poured down for a few minutes. That put grass cutting on hold.
After a while the sun came back out and it looked quite promising so I decided to pop down to the plot after all but just to pick some runner beans. All three varieties are now producing masses of beans and our plan is make some runner bean chutney as we've already got lots in the freezer.

By the time I'd got to the plot the weather had taken a turn for the worse again it looked ready to pour down again. Undeterred I started picking and after a couple of minutes the sun broke through and it felt hot. There’s still plenty of warmth left in the sun. The runner beans almost started cooking on the vine as the hot sun got to work on the wet beans.
It didn't take long before I’d picked 5kg of beans equally shared between Desiree to the left and Lady Di. Plenty for some chutney so as it still hadn't started raining I decided to pick a few alpine strawberries, then a quick look over the raspberries, perhaps a punnet of greengages, some plums and a few apples for good measure.
In the end it wasn't too bad a harvest considering I nearly didn't bother visiting when it poured down with rain just after lunchtime. Time to get the runner bean chutney recipe out.

Note:
As of Wednesday evening our web sites are having serious issues with our Host server. I'm not sure what the problem is but if you try to view some of our web pages you will get a message reporting the web page is not available.