Sunday, 31 March 2013


Our holiday to Thatched Cottage in Worcestershire didn't go entirely to plan due to the rotten weather, in particular the snowfall. It was touch and go as to whether we attempted the journey or not. Thankfully being able to scan all the motorway cameras for the biggest part of our journey was really useful.

Having arrived the problem then was would be able to get out again. As we were self catering on our first full day in the cottage we needed to find some groceries. Overnight snow caused us some concern but unlike some parts of the country it wasn't too deep where we we staying so a trip to the local farm shop was possible. 

The return trip home was uneventful although there was still snow around on the ground for virtually the whole journey. Looking back though things could certainly have been a whole lot worse.

Back home today I've had a little look around the garden to see how things have changed in the week we've been away. The answer is not a lot. Our Tete a Tete daffodils are in flower surrounded by the remnants of last weeks snow but looking very pretty.
Outside the greenhouse our Apricot “Flavourcot” is almost ready to burst into flower. It’s probably going to need to be covered at night to give the flowers some frost protection. I wonder if there’ll be any insects around during the day to carry out pollinating duties. Sue may have to get her tickling stick out. 
In the greenhouse there is still very little action. Some of our potatoes are now starting to form shoots or chits. I’m not too worried though as I haven’t got any ground prepared on the plot for planting them so they could well be spending a few more weeks “chitting”.
Vales Emerald on the left are still showing virtually no signs of shooting but the variety Winston on the right is starting to produce some strong looking dark green shoots. None of the potatoes appear to be frost damaged even though the temperature in the greenhouse fell to -3.1°C early on Friday morning.

So things are starting to grow very slowly but in the garden we’re still waiting for spring to show up. It’s gone missing at the moment.

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

Friday, 29 March 2013

Record Breaking March

Well we've just spent a week on holiday in the Midlands staying in a thatched cottage in the small Worcestershire village of Abbots Morton.

The bad news for us was that the weather wasn't much better further south than if we’d stayed at home. It was bitterly cold too with a biting easterly wind blowing for most of the week we were there.

The media seem to have decided it’s the coldest March since 1962. I know strictly speaking Ossett isn't in the Central England Temperature area but it’s the only list I have to work with. The average temperatures for the ten coldest months of March are shown in the table below.
Currently in Ossett we’re lower than the 1962 average temperature with an average value of just 2.6°C by late afternoon on Good Friday. That puts this March the 7th coldest on record in this Met Office record going back to 1772 and the coldest in 176 years since March 1837. If nothing else it shows how exceptionally cold this March has been.

With the forecasters predicting that this weather may continue for a least another week or maybe longer it’s getting pretty tricky deciding when to start sowing seeds in any great quantities. The average temperature for January this year was 4.1°C compared with 2.6°C for March. I can’t convince myself sowing seeds in such cold temperatures will be worthwhile so I might wait another week and mull over the pros and cons of seed sowing in these ridiculously cold temperatures. 

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

Friday, 22 March 2013

Wordless Friday!

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

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Every Cloud and All That

Wednesday continued cold and wet and without a hint of sunshine. In the morning the rain was sort of sleety but nothing settled. The temperature was, how shall we say, on the low side hovering below 2°C for much of the day. The forecast looks like something for the middle of January rather than the start of spring.

I suppose we should be grateful it’s actually forecast to be above 0°C tomorrow and then, well, it looks like more snow. Glad I didn't bother sowing those broad beans yesterday now.

I have spotted one benefit of the cold weather. I noticed the other day that the potatoes set to chit in the greenhouse weren't making much progress. I took some of last year’s stored potatoes out of the garage for use in the kitchen. As it’s colder in the garage than the greenhouse even now as we approach the end of March they’re not really making any sprouts or starting to go soft as I would normally expect them to do by now.

These are Charlotte potatoes harvested early in August last year and stored in the garage over winter. They’re still in perfect condition for use in the kitchen with only the tiniest of sprouts starting to form.

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

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Almost Tempted

Tuesday morning started off with stunning blue sky and bright sunshine. It tempted Sue outside to plant some bulbs in the front garden that had been started off in pots over winter. I was almost tempted to sow some broad beans into modules to germinate in the greenhouse but in the end thought better of it.

I’d spent a little bit of time in the morning looking through some weather records for March. Oddly at the moment March could turn out to be colder than January and February not that they were particularly mild months this year. That’s got to be unusual!
Originally on the chart above I decided to show 1996 as the coldest March in the last 25 years. At the moment we are well on course to be colder this year so I started looking further back into the records for some additional records to add to the chart. The Met Office records I checked through date back to 1772 but it’s unlikely that we will go too far into history as March 1962 was the 9th coldest since those records began. The average temperature that year was just 2.8°C by the end of the month. Our current monthly average is 3.4°C which compares with a rather enviable value of 8.7°C last year.

The morning sunshine did bring out the tulips in the front garden.

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

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Lucky Us

Monday was another cold grey and wet day. Luckily it rained where we live but further north it fell as snow and first thing on Monday morning the A66 was closed due to snow. This was the route we’d taken to Cumbria at the weekend.

As you can see from the picture captured early in the afternoon Monday was a miserable day with the maximum temperature reaching just 2.9°C. There doesn't seem to be any sign weather wise of the approach of spring. It’s going to be a late start on the plot and sowing seeds this year.

This is the forecast for the rest of the week.
I think our seeds will be remaining in their packets for another week at least looking at the temperatures predicted by the Met Office.

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

Monday, 18 March 2013

More Miserable Weather

There’s been no let up in the dull cold weather at all over the weekend. The temperature struggles up to a few degrees by day and falls to almost freezing point each night. We've managed a few showers and some longer spells of rain through the weekend too. Thoroughly miserable and we still haven’t visited the plot this month. 

We did have an excellent trip to Cumbria to visit a friend. On the way we stopped for coffee at Mainsgill Farm just off the A66 and, after our coffee, had a look in “The Lambing Live” shed.

If you watch the video you’ll see how quickly little lambs learn how to read.

After leaving the farm we continued on the A66 and headed on over the Pennines where there was still snow about.

Once over the high ground of the Pennines the snow disappeared for a while but once we were into Cumbria and the Lake District snow was still evident on the tops of the peaks. 

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

Friday, 15 March 2013

A Convincing Argument Or Not?

No improvement in the weather today. It wasn't too bad in the morning but we had a few spots of rain in the afternoon just enough to register 0.2mm on my rain gauge. The morning was once again frosty and it didn't warm up much through the day.

I’m still trying to decide whether or not to sow some seeds. If the sun’s out it’s quite pleasant in the greenhouse but the last four nights have seen below freezing temperatures in there which is not conducive to seed germination. I decided to look at some of the temperature statistics over the last four weeks to help resolve, one way or another, my seed sowing dilemma.

I was looking through this blog which suggest some suitable soil temperatures for seed germination. Without going into detail the suggestions are that somewhere between 7°C and 10°C should be suitable where 7°C is really an absolute minimum. The chart below plots our outdoor temperatures over the last four weeks. 

Over the last four weeks we have had occasions where the outside temperature has exceed that minimum value of 7°C but the temperatures haven’t exceeded 10°C in the whole of the four weeks. The last time we touched the dizzy heights of 10°C was on 04 February 2013 and the ‘heat wave’ lasted for less than one hour. I’m convinced that for us sowing anything outside at the moment would be a waste of time and money.

That leaves sowing in the greenhouse. Assuming the same sort of germination temperatures are required then the hours above 7°C are shown below.
Clearly in the greenhouse there are a lot more hours above 7°C. I've actually chosen 7°C as one of my greenhouse critical temperatures and keep a check of just how many hours are above that temperature. I updated the database figures on 13 March 2013 and the result was that 73 hours out of 312 hours in total were above the magical 7°C level. On the negative side we've had 29 hours of below freezing temperatures in the greenhouse in March. To put that into perspective there were just 3 hours below freezing in March 2012 and only 33 hours below freezing in the whole of February this year. I wouldn't expect seeds to germinate in the greenhouse in February.

Until the weather warms up I've decided not to sow any seeds outside. In the greenhouse the options aren't quite as clear cut but I still think it would be wise to curb my enthusiasm and hold back a little longer before getting down to sowing any of this year’s crops.

To finish off with and on a much brighter note here’s a picture of a siskin I managed to photograph in a break from number crunching.

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

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Making Its Mind Up

Wednesday morning started off beautifully sunny if still a little bit on the nippy side but by lunch time the sunshine had given way to cloud. We had some light wintry showers in the afternoon.

My early March weather station report makes for interesting but rather dodgy reading for gardeners ready to get their seeds sown and the new season under way.

The figures are a summary of the temperatures for the first three months of the year. Of particular interest are those areas shaded light blue with those on the left giving the mean (maximum, minimum and average) temperatures for each month (MO) whilst those on the right highlight the actual maximum and  minimum values in the month and the day they occurred. 
March at the moment is colder than February and our warmest day of the year was on 29 January. What a mixed up year so far. Here’s hoping the weather will soon get its act together and spring will finally arrive.

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

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Potato Worries

Tuesday was another day with sunny spells and some bits and pieces of snow in the wind. It was a cold day but certainly not in the same class as yesterday, however the overnight low did get down to -3.4°C outside and -2.9°C in the greenhouse.

That low overnight temperatures in the greenhouse gave me a little bit of concern regarding the seed potatoes that are chitting in there. They’re only protected by a couple of layers of fleece not much protection against the frost.
In the greenhouse in the sunshine was very pleasant indeed. The temperature was almost 20°C almost enough to convince me to start sowing some seeds. With overnight frosts predicted all week I decided better of it and checked out our seed potatoes under the fleece.
These first early Winston’s look to have survived the frost and are just starting to show signs of some sprouts. Good news that there’s no soft or blackened potatoes due to last nights low temperature. Just to be on the safe side I had another look under some more fleece at some maincrop Charlotte potatoes and fortunately these were fine too.
In the garden I spotted one lone pansy making an effort to flower. It’s certainly a bedraggled looking flower but looking more closely at the picture it’s also got a bud so more flowers are on the way.
Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

State of Play

Monday was brighter with some spells of sunshine interspersed with snow showers with the bitingly cold easterly wind continuing. As I’d half expected yesterday, Monday took the honours as the coldest day of the month.

In the sunny spells the thermometer made it up to the dizzy heights of 1.9°C but even the daytime temperatures fell below freezing as the clouds and snow showers rolled in. In the end the average daily temperature finished at -1.2°C. The last time I recorded a minus average daily temperature for March was 07 March 2010 with -0.9°C.

It’s just a question of keeping warm and waiting for the weather to improve. This collared dove looked like it was hoping for an improvement as it sat out the cold conditions in our crab apple tree.
There’s no doubt that we are off to a much slower start to our gardening activities this year than last. Conditions have been such that we haven’t visited the plot in a couple of weeks. At home we had certainly started off more seeds last year so I thought it was time to make a comparison.

Last year by this time our we had already sown the following:

  • 26-Feb-12 Broad Beans Witkiem Manita (In modules in cold greenhouse)
  • 06-Mar-12 Aubergine Early Long purple 3 (indoor grow light)
  • 06-Mar-12 Cabbage Golden Acre - Primo 2  (indoor grow light)
  • 08-Mar-12 Leeks Blue Solaise, GiantWinter, and Lyon 2 Prizetaker (In modules in cold greenhouse)

And later on in March the following seeds were sown:

  • 20-Mar-12 Phacelia green manure directly in the plot
  • 21-Mar-12 Tomatoes Alicante, Amish Gold, Gardeners Delight, Jakarta F1, Moneymaker and San Marzano (indoor grow light)
  • 21-Mar-12 Peppers Jimmy Nardellos's, Palladio, and Planet F1 (indoor grow light)

As far as I’m concerned I’m a little bit late but there’s no need to panic. After a good start in March last year we had a very poor April and May which slowed down or almost stopped the aubergine, peppers and tomatoes plants in their tracks. This year I’m going to delay sowing them by a couple of weeks and hopefully will avoid the worst of any cold setbacks when the seedlings are moved into the cold greenhouse.

That leaves broad beans, cabbages and leeks which I’ll attempt to sow in the greenhouse this week. I don’t think any of the seeds will be frosted but germination times might be slowed down if the cold weather persists.

That just leaves the plot to be sorted out!
Dreaming of things to come.

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

Monday, 11 March 2013

Shouldn't It Be Getting Milder!

Sunday turned out to be the coldest day of the month so far with an average daily temperature of only 1.2°C. We did have a little bit of sunshine but the thermometer didn't rise above 3.3°C and by late evening the temperature was down to -1.4°C. To add to all this we had a strong and bitingly cold easterly wind. Not a day for gardening.

The TV weather forecasts sometimes highlight the wind chill factor giving an idea of how much colder it will actually feel to us because of a strong cold wind. It’s not something I regularly look at on my weather station because for most of the time it’s the same as the current temperature. Just for once I've plotted the wind chill factor and normal temperature values for last week and up to Monday morning.

The plots do follow the same pattern but the easterly wind has added a significant wind chill factor. Early on Monday morning the temperature had fallen to -2.8°C but with wind chill effect added in that would feel more like -5.8°C. 

I have a sneaky suspicion that Monday might soon be replacing Sunday as the coldest day of the month.

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

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Saturday was cold and wet. It didn't pour down just drizzle on and off for most of the day. It turned to sleety rain late into the evening. Just a hint in the weather that spring is on its way would be great.

Last Saturday we visited the Yorkshire Dales and The Wensleydale Creamery where it’s possible to watch the cheese making process. Below is a short video from last week. I’m sorry about the rather blurred look to the video but that’s the view you get through the windows into the cheese making part of the Creamery.

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

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Spring and Gardening on Hold

The cold grey weather continues and with temperatures hovering around the 5°C mark there is little point in sowing any seeds. As far as I’m concerned they’re better of in their seed packets until the weather warms up a little bit.

We have already exceeded the rainfall for all of March last year by mid day on the 10th of the month. Last March certainly lacked much rainfall and followed a dry winter. Hosepipe bans had already been introduced in certain parts of the country last year as one “expert” after another appeared in the Media reporting that it would take years to make up for the long dry spell. We’d all have to learn how to garden in dry parched conditions. Clearly they were all proved wrong as the weather didn't behave anything like they predicted in fact almost the complete opposite. I wonder what these “experts” are doing now. I suppose they’re getting ready to tell us how to garden when the ground is wet and cold.

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

Friday, 8 March 2013

Decorating Weather

Thursday was yet another cold grey day without any hint of sunshine and some light drizzly rain. You could say it was good weather for staying indoors and getting on with our decorating.

This is the forecast for the next five days. Doesn't look much like spring is on the way at the moment. Don’t think that there’s any need to rush the decorating.

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

Thursday, 7 March 2013


I think that sums up Wednesday’s weather.

As the weather was so yucky and to have a little break from decorating the hallway I decided to try a little bit of Macro photography or in this case macro videography if that’s a word. It took me a while to figure out how to get set up to do this but in the end I managed to get a clear image on the camera’s screen instead of just a fuzzy image. Getting objects into focus is an art in itself. Below are three pictures which convince me more time devoted to this type of videoing might yield some worthwhile pictures.
African Violet
African Violet leaf

This goldfinch sort of accidentally came into view as I was trying to find the African violet flower. All in all I think there’s some promise. I started off having to go back to the video instruction manual which I always think is a bad sign. Sort of got there in the end by accident. The light for taking all the shots was dull so startling shots were never going to be the order of the day.

It’s back to some more decorating today  - Thursday.

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

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Just Our Luck

Apparently for lots of Britain Tuesday was a spring-like day with temperatures getting into the mid to high teens. However, that wasn't the case for us as we were unlucky enough to be engulfed in mist all morning and cloud for most of the afternoon.  The sun did manage to peek through around the middle of the afternoon.

This image represents the temperatures around England and Wales just before 17:00. Lots of lovely double figures about except for the north east where temperatures remained stubbornly in single digits. 

I did have a look around our cold greenhouse but there’s not a lot of activity in there at the moment. Our potted hydrangea plant bought last summer and kept in the greenhouse to over-winter has survived. New green shoots are emerging from the cover of last year’s old dead flower clusters which were left on to provide some extra winter protection. 
To add insult to injury there’s now talk of a cold spell of weather starting early next week. I don’t understand how this can be as we haven’t had anything else since the end of January when we last managed an hour above 10°C

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

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Frost Proof?

It was a cold cloudy start to Monday but into the afternoon although the sun did manage to break through, it didn't warm up very much with the maximum temperature only making it to 5.7°C.

The sun helped to bring out a few more spring bulbs so no matter what the weather throws at them they put on a display to convince us that spring really is just around the corner. These miniature daffodils were out in the afternoon sunshine.

On our back border our Katherine Hodgkin bulbs are continuing to flower and have now been joined by this iris reticulata Alida bringing a real touch of early spring colour to the border.
Our hostas which surround the pond are planted in large terracotta pots. When we buy any clay pots we always ensure that they are labelled as frost proof. I’m now beginning to wonder exactly what that means. 
These are the tell tale signs on the patio that the frost has been at work. Perhaps the pots are frost proof down to just a few degrees of frost although this winter hasn't been that cold. The pots are a few years old now so perhaps I shouldn't expect them to last forever.
It does give the edge of the pots a rather old weathered appearance so it’s not all bad. I suspect we might be looking for some more frost resistant terracotta pots before too long.

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

Monday, 4 March 2013

Cool Start

March has started much as February ended on a rather cool note. Despite a lovely sunny day on Saturday the temperature didn't manage to reach 10°C. That makes it a month since the temperature last made it into double figures. We managed 10.2°C on 04 February 2013 and we’re still waiting to exceed this value again as we move into March. On the positive side it has been dry for a couple of weeks so hopefully soil conditions will be improving on the plot.

On Saturday we decided on a trip into the Yorkshire Dales for a little bit of photography. We visited the Wensleydale Cheese factory at Hawes and had our lunch there in the restaurant. They do dishes without cheese in case you were wondering.

There are still some bits of snow about high on the tops. This is the road o from Hawes to Thwaite. It was still a little bit bleak even when the sun managed to peak out from behind the clouds.
We headed back to Hawes and then on towards Dent capturing some shots of Dent Head Viaduct almost bathed in wintry sunshine before the sun disappeared behind the peaks.  
The famous Settle to Carlisle Railway winds through this picture to Dent Station just visible as a few small building to the top right hand corner of the photograph. At an altitude of 1150 ft (350.52m) Dent is famous as the highest main line railway station in England.

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