Saturday, 30 May 2015

Something Different

I’m sure I hardly need to write it down as once again Friday was cool and windy. We had some rain through the morning which cleared away to leave sunny spells and scattered showers for the afternoon. 

The last time we visited the plot we found that our new wheelbarrow had developed a puncture. We don’t normally have enough space in the car to fit in a wheelbarrow so the wheel was removed and brought home for a repair.
I can’t remember doing a puncture repair since I had a bike many years ago which once was my main mode of travel. A trip to Halfords to buy a puncture repair kit reminded me of all those different little items you need. Some levers to get the tyre off the wheel rim then there’s the chalk dust, marker crayon, a bit of sandpaper to roughen the area, adhesive and last but not least some patches. There’s the fun of finding the hole in the inner tube. Our greenhouse water butt came in handy for dipping the inner tube in to find the leak. The leak was found the patch stuck on and after a lots of messing about the inner tube and tyre were put back onto the wheel rim and the tyre inflated. 
Having checked the tyre this morning the pressure hasn’t gone down so hopefully my efforts have worked. 

Friday, 29 May 2015

Gales Just Keep On Coming

Thursday turned out to be another windy day. It doesn’t seem to be enough for this May to become the windiest I’ve got on record, which it did a week ago now, but the wind just keeps on blowing. 
A gust in the middle of the afternoon blew over our potted kiwi Issai. It stands in this pot in the same position all through the winter gales but now it’s in leaf it takes much less of a gust to blow it over.
It’s not as though it’s in a small pot. For the time being it’s been moved behind the summerhouse out of the strong westerly winds. It will be replaced into its normal sunnier position once the winds abate. I’m not at all sure when that will be.

Weather forecasting models are known to be fairly unreliable at getting the weather correct for more than a few days in advance. The forecast is for a wet and windy weekend and not all that good for the first few days of June.
This is the GFS forecast for Friday 06 June 2015 showing some much warmer temperatures for most of the UK taken from Of course that’s a whole week away so there’s plenty of time for the forecast to change but just maybe it will be correct.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Wettest Month This Year

Wednesday was a dull, cool day with a little light rain around teatime. Although we didn’t have a great deal of rain, a few more showers early on Thursday morning have brought May’s total up to 62.2mm (2.45”) making it the wettest month of 2015.
There doesn’t seem to be much of an improvement in the forecast for the remainder of the month so May looks like finishing up a bit wetter, cooler and windier than we might expect. Let’s hope that June brings an improvement.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Starting Again

We had a decent amount of sunshine on Tuesday but it didn’t do a great deal for the temperature which managed 17.4°C (63.3°F).

We sowed our carrot seeds on 21 April and by the middle of May germination had been good and our seedlings were doing well.
Rather dangerously we thought that everything was fine but then a few days ago we noticed that all our lovely carrot seedlings had disappeared between visits.  
Nothing remained apart from a couple of seedlings and even these had been nibbled showing the tell-tale damaged caused by slugs. There was no other option but to re-sow another batch of carrots.

This time the ground has been treated with Nemaslug in an attempt to control this pest.
Slug nematodes are microscopic transparent worms which feed and multiply inside the slug, not visible with a hand lens. Just dilute with water and water on.  
An infected slug stops feeding within 3 to 5 days and then displays a typical swelling of the mantle. The nematodes multiply inside the slug and when it starts to decompose, a new generation of nematodes emerges.
I’m hoping that by the time our new seedlings emerge the nematodes will be doing their job and reducing the slug population.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Making Space

Disappointingly Saturday afternoon’s fine weather didn’t last for the holiday weekend which turned out to be a cloudy cool affair. On both days we had a little bit of sunshine late into the afternoon. Sunday felt especially chilly and it wasn’t until around 18:00 that the temperature suddenly rose to 16.3°C (61.3°F) and it became the warmest it had been over the two days.
Temperature and Sunshine Saturday 23 - Monday 25 May 2015
On Monday I decided it was time to make some space in the home greenhouse for our main crop tomato plants. These have been growing quickly now and need to be moved into some grow bags before they become pot bound.
This meant that lots of things had to be planted out in the garden or moved into one of our two cold frames. These are now full to bursting.
With just a little bit more sorting out I’ll have space for three growbags of tomatoes in the greenhouse. Somehow I want to incorporate some mini cucumbers in this space too. I’ve still to decide which varieties of tomatoes to plant in our home greenhouse and which will grown in our plot greenhouse.
All I need to do now is find some suitable growbags. I might try a different “variety” this year after problems with my plants for the last couple of years.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A Matinee Performance

After a fairly cloudy start on Saturday morning most of the clouds dispersed for the afternoon giving us a lovely warm sunny afternoon with just a gentle breeze. The temperature reached 20.3°C (68.5°F) in the afternoon only the second time this month we’ve reached the dizzy heights of 20°C or more. Surprising our warmest day of the year is still the 10 April with 21.3°C (70.3°F)some 43 days ago. 

On the plot things are at last starting to grow away a little bit. I think we might have a few plums although most seem to be at the top of the tree.
A zoom lens helps to see our plumlets but it won’t be much help when it comes to picking them. Our greengages have also set a small amount of fruitlets at a much more reachable height than the plums.
Our main flower border on the plot which is in desperate need of some attention due to the amount of couch grass growing in it still manages to produce some lovely flowers. You just don’t have to look at the grass amongst them.
It will be a challenge to sort out this bed without loosing some of the mature plants growing in it.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Calm Down!

Thursday and Friday weren’t anything special weather wise for late May. Thursday was sunnier but Friday was milder reaching around average temperature.

If you’ve read many of my posts over the last six months you’ll no doubt have noted that many of my weather summaries include descriptions of windy weather including gale force, strong breeze, gusty winds and so on. So here’s a couple of charts showing how windy it’s been over the last six months.
This shows each month side by side so it’s easy to see which have been the windiest Decembers for example. It turns out that December 2014 was the windiest December I’ve recorded and it’s the same story for January, March and May this year. February and April haven't been a great deal better as they’ve turned out to be the second windiest on a month by month comparison.
The second chart shows the wind speeds in chronological order from January 2011 and it’s easy to spot the windiest times of the year. It also shows how we’ve had consistently windy weather for the last six months. Unless we’re in for something very unusual the months of June through to October aren’t particularly windy months. Let’s hope this year doesn’t turn out to be the exception.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Tomato Trials

Wednesday was another day of blustery winds and although it was warmer than Tuesday the temperature remained lower than normal.

I’ve now got two tomato trials on the go. The first started some time ago which was to try to get some early tomatoes by growing on some plants on a sunny window ledge indoors compared to growing the same varieties in the greenhouse. The time has arrived for all the plants to grow on together in the greenhouse. Hopefully any cold and frosty nights are behind us now.
I’m guessing you won’t have any problems deciding which plant of Baby Boomer was grown in the greenhouse and which wasn’t. Indoors the plants has reached a rather leggy height of 550mm (22”) whilst the greenhouse tomato has produced a much more stocky plant about half the height. But the purpose isn't to produce the best plant but some early tomatoes.
The greenhouse plant is starting to produce some flowers but the indoor plant already has a small tomato set from the first truss of flowers.
I’m now going to try to concentrate all the efforts of this plant into producing fruit and leave only a couple of flower trusses as well as keeping all the side shoots removed. For comparison purposes I’ll do the same with the plant grown in the greenhouse.

The second tomato trial has only really just started. I’ve been given a seedling of a new tomato from Suttons Seeds called Crimson Crush. Its main claim to fame is that it’s completely blight resistant as well as producing slightly larger than average tomatoes which taste good too.
I have to admit that at the moment it doesn’t look the same as a normal tomato plant. The leaves look like you’d expect but it doesn’t yet seem to be growing a main stem. We shall see how it grows on. To give it a test it will be planted outside on the plot next to a few other varieties to check its blight resistance should the dreaded disease attack this year. It normally does and it the reason we’ve stopped trying to grow tomatoes outside on the plot. Will this variety prove to be a solution to our problem?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

At Least April’s Arrived!

Tuesday was much more like April than mid to late May. It was cold and breezy with showers interspersed with some sunny spells.
In that heavy shower around 11:00 in the morning the temperature fell to 7.6°C (45.7°F)
Once again the day’s high temperature was disappointing reaching only 13.4°C or 56.1°F. I decided to look back over the last five years of records to see if it was particularly unusual to have a cold spell at this time of year. It turns out it’s not even our coldest May 19th as in 2012 the high temperature was a very cold 8.7°C (47.7°F) making Tuesday pretty balmy in comparison.
Lets hope it starts to get a little bit milder soon. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Getting There

There wasn't much improvement in the weather on Monday. It was a showery and blustery day with temperatures below average for mid May with a high of only 13.2°C (55.8°F).

A little bit more progress was made in the Cold Frame Courtyard. The weed control fabric was fixed to the bottom of the fence and the decking boards were fixed in place.
With the addition of a couple of bags of bark chippings the border looked to be finally nearing completion.
I’ll be needing a few more bags of bark chippings to cover the remaining fabric then we can get our two climbing roses planted.

We thought it was a good time to do another video tour of the plot so here’s a spring tour of the plot.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Poor Weekend Weather

It was a poor weekend weather wise as the strong winds returned on Saturday and abated only slightly on Sunday. It was on the cool side too with only a few sunny spells on Saturday.

More progress was made on sorting out the Cold Frame Courtyard.
Our raised bed now has a veggie mesh covering to protect our precious salad crops from as many pests as possible. Last year lots of our salad leaves had nibbled edges and this year we’re hoping to prevent that.

On Sunday the border next to our new fence was dug so that we can plant a couple of climbing roses to train along the fence.
The ground dug pretty well but it was slow hard work as the soil had been infiltrated by snowberry which had spread its roots, from under an adjoining fence, well and truly into this area. We finished up with a wheelie bin full of root dug out from just this small area.
We’re using weed control fabric to try to prevent any more problems from the snowberry. My plan is to fasten the fabric to the back of some decking boards which will then be fixed to the bottom of our new fence panels. This will all be covered with bark chipping and our roses will be planted in pockets through the fabric.
By the end of Sunday the area was starting to look a bit tidier and looking a bit nearer completion.

Now if only the weather would improve!

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Growing Pea Sticks

Friday was a decent day with plenty of sunshine and a high of 18.6°C (65.5°F). With just a light breeze it was just the sort of day for spreading our some weed control fabric and getting our sweet peas planted.

Back on the 25 February this year I cut back one of our hazel bushes to provide us with some pea sticks for this year.
All the branches cut back were left in an enormous heap on a spare patch of allotment ready to be trimmed down into pea sticks and some longer sturdier branches for supports.
Like many jobs planned on the plot nothing gets done until its critical and that applied to the hazel branches which were left in their heap until some pea sticks were needed at the end of April. A suitable number were cut and used to support our first row of Onward peas.
That was on the 26 April and the peas are not the only thing to have grown a little bit. Our hazel twigs are starting to grow too.
It looks like a few twigs are growing although I've no idea if they’ll go on to form any roots through summer. So I reckon that’s 60 days from when they were cut back and left in a pile to being pushed into the ground as pea sticks and then only a few days before they started to shoot.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Not So Good

Thursday was cold for May as by early afternoon the the temperature eventually only struggled up to a cool 11.1°C (52.0°F). A cold easterly breeze and a complete lack of sunshine didn’t help matters.
We didn't fancy planting out our sweet pea plants on the plot in the chilly weather so the next improvement phase to the Cold Frame Courtyard was undertaken instead. It went from looking like this before…..
…to this afterwards.
The old timber and rail fencing had been there for many years and was well past its sell by date. All the posts had rotted away at their bases and I think the whole fence only remained together due to a combination of plastic mesh fixed to it and plant stems entwined through it. The next job is to sort out a border at the base of the new fence so that we can grow some climbers along it.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Starting Off With Good Intentions

Wednesday was a big improvement on the last couple of days as the strong winds finally abated. With some decent sunny spells and temperatures around normal 16.0°C (61.0°F), it was a pleasant spring afternoon.

Every year I start off with the intention of sowing successional crops such as lettuce on a regular basis. For some reason it never seems to last or a couple of crops fail and we are left with a long gap between crops. This year has started off well so far. 
This module of Tom Thumb lettuces are our most advanced crop and will be planted out into the raised bed at home and a few will be planted out on the plot. Following on close behind these are some Little Gem lettuces.
We've some mixed salad leaves planted in trays which should be ready to pick in the next few days.
Last in the production line at the minute are some seedlings of Little Leprechaun lettuce a variety we haven’t tried before. These were only pricked out this week.
Sue sowed some more salad leaves in trays this week. Our next sowings of salad leaves will be in our raised bed at home. I should also sow some more lettuce seed but these might have to be germinated in the cold frame as it can get too warm in the greenhouse for germination to take place.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Yet More Windy Weather

I’d been hoping that yesterday’s windy weather would go away so that we could get some weed control fabric down on the allotment. However that wasn't the case as Tuesday was even windier with a maximum gust speed of 23 mph and average wind speed for the day of 5.6 mph the windiest May day I've recorded.

Temperature and Wind Speed Records Sunday 10 May 2015 - Tuesday 12 May 2015
For the record the maximum gust speed I've recorded in May was on 09 May 2014 at 28.0 mph but the average wind speed that day was 3.6 mph indicating that the windy weather that day didn't last very long whereas on Tuesday we didn't have such a strong gust but it was windier for a much longer spell.

In the greenhouse protected from the strong winds our Lewisia is putting on a fine display.
We really do need to find it a better pot.

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

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Sweet Pea Preparations

Monday turned out to be the warmest day the month with the afternoon temperature reaching 20.8°C (69.4°F). Rather surprising the highest temperature of the year occurred over a month ago now on the 10 April when the temperature reached 21.3°C (70.3°F) giving rise to thoughts of summer starting early. There was a strong breeze blowing for most of the day.
I decided to see if this year’s sweet pea and squash bed would cultivate okay. After all the rain this month I had my doubts but the ground dug really well.
Sue weeded around the cardoons whilst I cultivated the ground in between the two plants. It’s now ready for the weed control fabric to be replaced and hopefully we’ll be able to plant out our sweet peas this week. The strong winds have caused some damage to the cardoon and we might have to remove some of the bottom leaves.

Monday, 11 May 2015

At Least It Stayed Dry

After Friday’s heavy rain it was good that it remained dry over the weekend to help the plot dry out a little. I’m hoping to get a little bit more cultivating done during the week as we now urgently need to get some ground dug over for this year’s sweet pea plants which are patiently waiting in the cold frame to be planted out.
Our early potatoes have pushed their tops through the ground but just in case we have any more cold nights in store I covered them over with some straw.
The straw was originally used for protecting our carrots over winter. I’ll keep using the remaining straw as a way of earthing up the potatoes planted under weed control fabric. By autumn time the straw will have decomposed enough to be dug in to help improve the condition of the soil once the potatoes are harvested .