Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Rain at last

It rained on Monday morning. It was by no description heavy rain but it lasted all morning so it did at least add some moisture to the top few inches of soil. The afternoon was mostly dull with some late evening sunshine.
A dull holiday Monday on the plot
In the afternoon we visited the allotment to water the greenhouse tomatoes as we hadn't been down for a few days. As it happens we managed to harvest enough vegetables and fruit for our evening meal.
Potatoes - Maris Bard
Our greenhouse potatoes are taking over. They will have come out of the greenhouse in the next few days to make way for our final planting of tomatoes. These Maris Bard and Winston potatoes were planted on the 1st April and I thought it worth a test to see if they had produced a worthwhile crop in just 2 months.
Harvested crops 30th May 2011
As it turned out I wasn't disappointed with a crop of just over 0.5kg. No doubt I could have left them a little longer as there was a fair number of tiny immature potatoes that were not large enough to use. I was pleased with this early very tasty crop of Maris Bard potatoes. We also harvested enough other vegetable and fruit to provide us with enough for our evening meal. A short but worth while trip to the plot.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Three months around the UK and World

Sunday was much the same as the previous days and to be quite frank we're ready for something different. We might just get some rain on Monday or there again maybe not.
Rain forecast for Monday morning

It did set me thinking about the weather our fellow bloggers have had over the last 3 months equating to spring in the UK and autumn in other parts of the world. These are some of the weather figures I've put together using Weather Underground. As all the data is taken from personal weather stations I can't guarantee the accuracy of the figures or exact locations but I'm hoping they're not too far out.

Weather data 01 March 2011 to 29 May 2011

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Some decent weather please

Weather wise little different for Saturday. Another blustery day with occasional showers and not particularly pleasant. Perhaps June will bring some decent weather? It's "rained" at some time for 15 of the 29 days of May so far yet the garden and plot are dry.

Rainfall May
We've had around half the anticipated rainfall for the month but it's come in such small amounts that it's not done more than wet the soil surface at the most. The months temperatures will turn out to be about average, we had warmer days in April than May and colder nights in May than April.

Our lawn still looks green despite the lack of rain - I refuse to water the lawn - but a few bare patches were in need of re-seeding. I did a test patch a few weeks ago which has grown well. I confess to having kept this small area moist to germinate the seed. 
Lawn repair
With the success of the previous patch I decided on a bit more renovation work. 
New lawn repair
Not the most exciting gardening work but a good lawn does help to set off the border. 

We have our most exotic crop to date growing in the greenhouse. Our Snake Beans (sent to us by Diana from Kebun Malay Kadazan Girls) are growing well and were transplanted into more spacious containers. We've still to decide where they will spend summer, in the greenhouse or outside and also what there final container will be.
Snake beans

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Disappointing for May

Friday turned out to be much the same as the last few days, mostly cloudy and cool. The weather over the last few days has been disappointing for May. This month has not managed to reproduce the pleasant temperatures of April. 

Fairburn Ings
We went to Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve for a walk and it was the wild roses that stole the show from the birds. Along the walk there were lots of wild roses on flower and a sprinkling of foxgloves.
Wild rose
There were far more white roses than pink. Both are very pretty.
Pink wild rose
Just like garden plants though these wild roses have to fight of the ravages of pests. This lone caterpillar was looking menacing on one of the wild rose bushes.
Caterpillar on wild rose

Friday, 27 May 2011

Showers are no good!

Thursday was another day with a few showers, a little sunshine early afternoon, but mostly cloudy. Although we had more showers they're not doing any good as far as watering the plot and garden are concerned. As soon as the rain falls it dries up in the sun and wind without any chance to penetrate into the soil.

In May we have received 26.4mm of rain, all in the form of showers which have soon dried up and this is shown in the graph on the left. On the right hand side is a graph estimating the amount of moisture that is lost from the soil based on the temperature, wind and sunshine for each day. This so far totals 61.0mm for May, more than twice the amount of rainfall. I'm sure we wont have lost all this moisture as it's not in the soil to be lost due to the previous dry months.

Thursday, 26 May 2011


Wednesday was mostly cloudy and breezy at times.

 I visited the plot to water the tomatoes and to check if the recent strong winds had done any major damage. I thought the tomato plants would be dry as the plot greenhouse only has an automated vent and can get very warm in the sunshine but they were still moist which was a surprise.
Wind damaged carrot protection
The recent strong winds had removed the environmesh cover from the carrots and just a few bricks had probably stopped it blowing away all together. The mesh wasn't damaged and was soon put back in place. Just hope the carrot flies haven't had chance to invade our carrots.

Blue tits ready to leave nest 
Our three surviving blue tits fledged early this morning. All the details are on our video which can be found from the link at the top of this page.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

More young birds

The Chelsea flower show has started this week and there is much discussion about how the exhibitors are struggling with the recent hot weather. Do they refer to our superb April weather or the pretty average May weather which has been dry and windy so far. Unless something spectacular happens in the remaining few days of May, which isn't forecast, it will turn out to be virtually spot on average temperature wise.
May 2011 average temperatures
Next week Springwatch returns to BBC. If they were filming here they would have missed most of the nesting birds. Young blackbirds and sparrows have been about for a week or so. I've managed to take a couple of pictures of a young robin and yesterday I photographed this youngster. We couldn't decide between greenfinch or goldfinch until it flew into the magnolia tree and received some food from a parent greenfinch.
Young greenfinch

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Windy yet again

Monday was yet another windy day. Will it ever stop?

Our cold frame is now chock-a-block with plants waiting to be transplanted into their final positions on the plot. I've been hoping for some rain so transplanting is easier but it looks as though it's not going to happen. I'll gradually start transplanting them as we shouldn't have any more frosts now so courgettes and winter squashes can be planted out. It will just involve watering them well to get them established until we eventually have some rain.
A packed cold frame
Our garden greenhouse tomatoes are now starting to grow rapidly in their grow pots and the larger plants now need securely staking so they don't collapse under the weight of tomatoes they will be carrying in August. Well that's the plan hopefully.
Greenhouse tomatoes

Monday, 23 May 2011

Cute or not!

Sunday was to say the very least extremely windy. It was windy and sunny all day with the wind only relenting in the evening. Not a very pleasant day at all.

Wind speeds Saturday into Sunday

It most certainly wasn't a day for gardening and I thought about some bird pictures and then suddenly noticed that our large feeder had run out of sunflower hearts. This is rather unusual as I try to avoid it running out completely. It was then I spotted the likely culprit.
Grey squirrel
Looking cute and furry in the magnolia tree it was more than likely that this grey squirrel had finished off the sunflower hearts. It's a rather rare visitor to our garden.

It was then that our neighbour's cat arrived on the scene to  scare off the squirrel and any birds that were around. 
Just a nuisance
This cat visits our garden on a much too regular basis It's quite a pest as far as the birds are concerned. I know a few places where in takes cover under bushes lying in wait for any unsuspecting birds. I think it knows the sound of my footsteps as it hastily departs our garden as soon as I approach.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Missed it again!

Saturday was a breezy, mild mostly cloudy day. The main weather event was to be some overnight rain into Sunday morning. Once again it didn't happen and a couple of showers left us with a rainfall of just 1mm.

Garden border
In the garden our border come hedgerow still looks good despite the lack of rain but the lawn is now dry and starting to develop some dry patches. The lawn won't get watered as it will soon recover once we have some rain.

On the plot we have planted up our trial bed of club root resistant cabbages and cauliflowers. This is following the rather successful trial I saw last year on the Beech Grove Garden TV programme.

Cauliflower - Clapton and cabbages  - Kilaton
The plants have been well spaced out to give them plenty of growing space - perhaps it's a bit of wishful thinking. All the plants had produced excellent root systems in their module cells.
Cabbages and cauliflowers after planting
Each planting hole was filled with water to give the plants a good start in the dry ground. They have been covered with butterfly netting to not only keep away the butterflies but also the wood pigeons who can devastate a crop in  just one day. 

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Just a taster

We had a fairly heavy shower on Friday afternoon - enough to make us take cover in the shed as we're not used to rain any more.

With luck though this shower was just a taster of what's to come with rain forecast for the early hours of Sunday morning and Monday afternoon. It is true though that forecasts can change and they have been known to be just plain wrong but I'm hoping that the rain arrives and gives the plot and garden a good watering for the first time since the end of February. May's rainfall has so far has fallen in dribs and drabs  drying up immediately in the wind and sunshine rather than penetrate any depth into the soil and of course there wasn't any rainfall in March or April so it's fingers crossed for the forecast being correct.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Worth the Effort

Thursday was mild with some decent sunny periods and only a light breeze for a change.

Our over wintering brassicas were devastated by the severe winter weather. By early spring there were only a few survivors and I did consider pulling up the few remaining rather pathetic looking specimens that had made it through winter. 
Brassicas on 17th January 2011
My initial thoughts were to sow seeds early to replace the spring cabbage and Mayfair cauliflowers but then I had second thoughts as I could make no use of the ground until spring. In the end I decided to leave them and see what would happen.
Cauliflower - Mayfair
I'm now really glad I left them on the off chance that I'd get some early cauliflowers and cabbage. This is our second cauliflower and we have a few cabbages hearting up. So I reckon its definitely worth trying to overwinter brassicas for an spring crop and despite the winter losses fresh vegetables from the plot at this time of year are certainly worth the effort.
Cabbage - Spring Hero
Our first fresh cabbage of the year from the plot.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Medlar jelly perhaps

Wednesday turned out to be not too bad after a dull start. The afternoon had some sunny spells but it was once again quite breezy. If there were any showers about we missed them again.

In the garden our medlar is on flower and as all the flowers usually set fruit we might have to think about making some medlar jelly this year.
On the plot our roses have taken a battering from a week of rather windy weather. There is not much shelter for them with the wind coming from a westerly direction but they are still managing to put on a display.
Rose - Elmshorn

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

This is rain!

Tuesday was once again cloudy after some early morning sunshine. It was pleasantly mild and for once the wind had abated. The cloud gave some extremely light drizzle at times but not enough to measure on my rain gauge.
Pansy flower with drizzle drops
I took this pansy in the light drizzle which was just enough to leave droplets of water on the petals. This is what we call rain around here at the moment.

Clouds through our Glencoe raspberry bush
The drizzle was short lived and it was a pleasant day to spend some time watering on the plot. Since we started planting up the plot in the middle of March it hasn't had a good rainfall - just a few showers which have quickly dried up in the sun and wind.

Cabbage Kilaton and Cauliflower Clapton
We've been putting off planting out some of our brassicas in the hope that we'd have some rain. It's so much easier to keep the plants watered at home. These cabbages and cauliflowers wont wait much longer and will spoil in the modules if not transplanted into the plot soon. I feel more watering on the plot will be the order of the day.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Miserable Monday

What a miserable day Monday turned out to be. There was a very stiff blustery wind that didn't let up all day and  a complete lack of sunshine made it another inside day. I spotted a forecast in the papers suggesting May will be the warmest May since records began 350 years ago! All I can say is that we will have to have a pretty dramatic change in the next couple of weeks.

It did give us a chance to process the video of our young blackbird and robin taken on Sunday.

Monday, 16 May 2011

An inside sort of day

Apart from a brief glimpse of some early morning sunshine Sunday was a dull cloudy day. Although the wind had abated a little it still felt cool coming from a north westerly direction.

It was more a day for working inside rather than outside. We're still growing seedlings under our indoor grow light with some success. These outdoor cucumber seedlings are ready for transplanting and have produced good strong healthy plants under the grow light.
Outdoor cucumber - Burpless Tasty Green
We've plenty of young birds about at the moment and I thought it might be fun trying to get some photographs of them. The're very shy and don't like their pictures taking but I did manage to get a picture of a baby blackbird and robin.
Young blackbird
This youngster was getting a drink as well as getting its feathers ruffled in the breeze.
Young robin
Much more tricky to photograph as it kept darting about and just didn't want its picture taking. 

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Dahlia dilemma

Saturday wasn't a very pleasant day. We had a strong north westerly wind all day making it feel pretty cold. Whilst we haven't actually had gale force winds it's been consistently windy for the last few days and I can't help but feel that April's brilliant growing weather is now been undone.

It would have been easy to give the plot a miss but I wanted to get some more tomato plants into the greenhouse so we did spend a rather windswept afternoon planting, weeding and transplanting cardoons and  young raspberry plants .
Plot greenhouse tomatoes
I'd never thought about not having more than one variety in a grow bag before as discussed on Mrs GL's blog. I've never noticed any problems from mixing varieties. Moneymaker and Amish Gold are our banker tried and tested varieties.

Having now decided to start again with new dahlias this year we're not sure how much space we should give to our dahlias raised from seed this year. The packet indicates heights of 1.0m for the plants.
Dahlias - Giant Hybrids Mixed - from seed
We managed to raise 30 seedlings so our dilemma is how much room to give them. Spacing them 1.0m apart seems a bit rash looking at the size of the plants at the moment. However our squash plants are even smaller at the moment and they take up as much space as I'm prepared to give them so perhaps current size is nothing to go by. Maybe a 1.0m spacing and if they don't perform the gaps will have to be inter planted with other crops.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

April arrives!

At the moment it's like April and May have swapped places in the calendar. Each day seems to be showery or at least have the threat of showers with fairly blustery winds. Friday afternoon continued the pattern of the previous few days with some morning sunshine then a cloudy afternoon with plenty of light showers.

The showers started mid afternoon and lasted into the evening. The rainfall for May is still a little below the expected amount.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Dahlia protection failed

Wednesday continued in a similar pattern to the last few days. Some sunny periods and the threat of showers which didn't happen.
On the plot the dahlias which had been protected over winter using straw and polythene were uncovered. It didn't make for pretty viewing.
Dahlia protection over winter
The tubers certainly hadn't survived the severe frosts of last winter. Some tubers had 300mm or more of straw cover but the tubers had been turned to mush. 
Rotten dahlia tubers
I think with much sorting out it might have been possible to save a small part of some of the tubers but it would be a really messy and unpleasant job so we have decided that the whole lot can go to the compost heap and we will start afresh.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

A winter survivor no more!

Tuesday wasn't a bad day. Sunny spells but with the threat of heavy showers all day which we managed to avoid. That's good or bad I suppose depending on your point of view. The start to May has been reasonably mild even allowing for the frost at the beginning of the month.

One of our few cauliflowers that survived winter is no more. Despite the fact that it was only small and could have grown to twice the size had it had chance I was unable to resist cutting it for the dinner plate.
Cauliflower - Mayfair
Very tasty too and fortunately we have a couple more still in the plot but not ready for cutting.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Sunshine and showers

We had some very welcome showers again on Monday bringing a drop more welcome rain. The showers were most frequent in the afternoon with a couple of them accompanied with thunder and lighting. Sowing and weeding on the plot in the afternoon had to be halted several times as we took shelter in our shed from the worst of the showers.
Sunny periods for most of the day
It was a matter of fitting sowing, planting and weeding around the showers. Most of the afternoon was sunny and mild but it was easy to see the showers approaching in the shape of dark clouds.
Heavy showers clouds
The showers didn't last long and the soil was workable as soon as the rain stopped. The showers to date in May mean that May's total rainfall is about as expected after the two previous very dry months.
More rain in the distance

Monday, 9 May 2011

Recovering potatoes

Sunday was mild with a strong breeze at times but no more rain after the over night showers. Having visited the plot it's still very dry and the rain that did fall hasn't penetrated very far into the soil. However all is not lost as the forecast is for the showery weather to continue. One prediction of the rainfall for the next 7 days is below. We might just be in the green zone.
Rainfall to 16th May  - link to site 
Our Duke of York potatoes that suffered from frost damage on Tuesday are recovering. Rather too late I covered the damaged shoots up on Wednesday and the fresh sprouts are already coming through.
Potatoes - Red Duke of York
I'm very surprised at the potatoes I planted in potato sacks. I only planted them on the 1st April just a week before I planted our potatoes directly into the plot. I did wonder at the time if it was worth the effort - just how much would be to gain from planting up my potato sacks and then leaving them to grow on in the greenhouse until the space is required for tomato plants. I think the picture below shows how much protection the plants receive in the greenhouse.
Potatoes - Winston
These are Winston potatoes planted on 1st April and my Winston planted directly in the plot are just coming through. The greenhouse potatoes escaped any frost damage and with any luck they will provide us with some early potatoes well before the outdoor crop.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

A bit disappointing

Saturday and overnight into Sunday morning was to be the time the heavy rain would fall. As the chart to the left shows a few short light showers gave us a damping around Saturday lunch time but we still looked forward to the main event to come. That seemed to be it though for Saturday. Then late Saturday night we had a short heavy downpour which was the heaviest of the rain we've had. I anticipated bucket fulls of rain falling through the night.

During the night we had some steady rain which amounted to 6.4mm so it's given us about 10mm of rain over the two days. A little disappointing, not quite the bucket fulls I'd hoped for but I suppose we ought to be grateful as it will save us watering on the plot for a few days.