Monday, 29 June 2015

Carrot Spotting

It was a pleasant weekend weather wise with Saturday the better of the two days with far more sunshine. Both days were mild and much better than the earlier part of the month.

On the plot I decided to make use of our carrot tent of enviromesh, where the carrots for one reason or another have disappeared, to plant some left over lettuces which weren’t planted in our raised bed at home.
I had a little investigation to to see if I could spot any carrot seedlings growing alongside the few weeds that had germinated. I did manage to find a couple of carrot seedlings along the two rows I weeded.
It certainly wasn’t going to be a problem finding space to plant out a few lettuce plants. The soil was very dry but I don’t think that was the cause of our carrot disaster. Then pulling out a few more weeds I found I’d pulled out this tiny carrot too.
I wasn’t too disappointed at pulling it up as the top had been eaten away by slugs or snails so I don’t think it was ever going to grow to be a full size carrot.

The strange thing is, sown in the same bed and at the same time as our first carrot sowing are our parsnips Gladiator and they seem completely untouched.
It will be interesting to see if the slugs or snails now munch their way through the lettuces that I’ve planted out.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Another Go with Carrots

Friday was a cloudy but mild. Throughout the day we had a few sprinklings of raindrops now and again. By the end of the day they’d added up to 0.2mm of rainfall.

We decided to have a third attempt at getting some carrots to grow this year. Our first sowing germinated well but was devastated by slugs. We re-sowed some seeds but these germinated poorly and the slugs seem to have hoovered up any surviving seedlings. We’ve sown a third batch in another part of the plot. We chose some quick maturing varieties Early Nantes and Amsterdam Forcing due to sowing this late in the season.
The ground is now very dry and it could do with some good steady rain to improve things. Watering with tap water never seems to have the same effect as a decent amount of rain. When sowing the carrots on Friday each drill received a can full of water before sowing then a couple of can fulls over the bed to settle the seeds in once they were sown.
The chart above shows the rainfall for the last couple of months. May had a little bit above average rainfall but it mostly fell in the first few days of the month. Since then we haven’t had any decent spells of rainfall and as a result the plot and garden are very dry. I’m not sure what will happen if we do have the forecast high temperatures through the middle part of next week.
These potatoes planted rather late on 30 May look like they good do with a good drink. I’m not into watering potatoes though they just have to make the most of the conditions. Who knows I might produce the exact conditions for a Smith period and blight by watering especially in warmer weather.

The Interpretation of Smith Periods. Smith Periods for blight control are calculated from hourly temperature and relative humidity values. The weather records on which the post coded Smith Periods are based are supplied by the Met Office.  
A full Smith Period has occurred if, on each of 2 consecutive days: 
  • the minimum air temperature was at least 10°C, and
  • there were a minimum of 11 hours with a relative humidity of at least 90%

Friday, 26 June 2015

Blimey Look at Next Week’s Forecast

The decent weather continued on Wednesday and Thursday with the latter becoming the warmest day of the year at 24.5°C or 76.1°F.

Have you seen the forecast for next week? It looks like we’re due a scorcher in lots of places with the temperature reaching 30°C (86.0°F) or higher. Wednesday looks to be our hottest day with southern parts of England even hotter next Thursday. 
To read the Met Office posting in full click here.

Still there’s all most a week to go before then so it’s quite possible that the forecast will change before then.

I had to have a quick check on my hottest and coldest summer months chart for recent years. There’s little doubt that this June has been a bit on the cool side even if it doesn’t set any records.
Looking at this chart where the red line indicates the hottest recent summer and the blue line the coldest at the end of June the averages temperatures for both years were almost the same. Once we moved into July 1995, the hottest year saw the temperatures increase considerably where as in the cold year of 1998 the temperatures through July and August did little to improve the average at the end of June.

Perhaps some hot weather at the start of July is a good omen?

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

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Double and Single Tomato Flowers

After a chilly start Tuesday turned into a decent June day.

I couldn’t help but notice two very different flowers on our greenhouse tomatoes.
Tomato Ananas 
Tomato Sungold
Ananas is described as a heirloom variety producing large, slightly flattened beefsteak tomatoes with distinctive yellow and orange streaked skins. It’s the first time we’ve tried this variety and it is said to produce tomatoes weighing in at around 500gms or 1.1lbs each. It’s clearly not going to produce large trusses of fruit with tomatoes that size. The flowers it is producing are what I would describe as double flowers.

Sungold is producing what I would consider normal single tomato flowers. We grew this variety last year and it produces masses of small but very sweet and juicy tomatoes with lots of tomatoes to each truss.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Laws of Gravity and an Apricot

Monday was yet another poor day weather wise for June. It was cloudy and drizzly in the morning but started to clear up in the afternoon. The sun tried to come out and the temperature began to lift but in the middle of the afternoon we had some heavy showers. One with an intensity of 47.2mm/hr (1.86in/hr) almost matched the highest of the year of 51.4mm/hr (2.02in/hr) on 31 March 2015.
The first part of the afternoon wasn't too bad so I decided to pot up some seedlings in the greenhouse. I'd potted up some cabbages Tundra, some savoys Resolution and was concentrating on transplanting some wallflowers Tom Thumb when a little thudding noise made me look to my left.
On the top of the soil of our potted apricot Flavourcot there was one of our two precious fruits. Perhaps I should have taken a picture but I was more concerned about the state of the apricot. A quick and gentle wipe revealed that it wasn't damaged by its fall.
I thought it was best to sample the fruit straight away and headed for the house. There it was given a quick wash and had its photo taken, after all this was our first ever ripe apricot. Photos taken the apricot was carefully cut into two. At this stage I realised that it was a perfectly ripe fruit and the stone inside separated from the flesh without any difficulty.
Half each it was now down to the taste test. I know now what a ripe apricot should taste like. It was delicious. The problem is we only have one more fruit on the bush. We wondered last week how long we should wait before testing out our only two apricots. In the end this particular fruit made its and our minds up for us.

We now have to discover how to encourage our bush to produce more apricots next year.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Mowing the Grape Vine

What an odd weekend weather we’ve had. As you can see from the chart Friday was cool and cloudy and very poor for June. Saturday morning started off even worse with some very light drizzle through the morning. It took until lunchtime for the rainfall to amount up to 0.2mm (0.01") and tip the measuring device in my rain gauge which measures in 0.2mm increments.
Temperature and Rainfall Friday - Sunday 19 - 21 June 2015
By mid afternoon the sun was doing its best to break through the clouds and the temperature started to lift reaching a high of 20.0°C (68.0°F) at 18:30. I thought that might be an end to the cool weather but it wasn’t to be as the temperature fell back to 11.5°C (52.7°F) during the night and didn’t get an awful lot higher all day on Sunday. 
During the decent spell on Saturday afternoon I did a little bit of pruning to our Himrod grapevine. Left to its own devices it would completely take over the greenhouse. Through summer it becomes a weekly task a bit like mowing the lawn. I have to be careful not to cut off any young bunches of grapes which is very easily done amid all the vine stems vying for the best growing position along the greenhouse ridge.
Once again this year we’ve lots of bunches of grapes. Each year I entertain the idea of cutting a few bunches off, hence increasing the size of the grapes on the remaining bunches but each year that’s as far as I get and all the bunches are left on the vine. I can’t bring myself to deliberately cut off some bunches. Who knows what might happen between now and the end of August when the grapes are usually lovely and sweet and ready to pick. 

It’s possible that in one of the many pruning sessions required before then that one or two bunches may accidentally get the chop much to my annoyance. They have to be quickly hidden in the wheelie bin before my mistake is spotted.

Saturday, 20 June 2015


Friday continued our cool spell of weather for June. Friday’s high was fractionally lower than Thursday’s, pushing yesterday’s record a little bit further into June. Today’s high was 14.8°C or 58.6°F.

As if we hadn’t enough rhubarb growing on the plot we received a variety called Poulton’s Pride from DT Brown today.
I’ve potted each root into a larger pot to allow it to grow on a bit before planting it out on the plot. I don’t suppose rhubarb will mind this spell of cool June weather.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Not a Good June Is It

Thursday was cool and windy. The temperature only made it up to 14.9°C (58.8°F) making it the lowest high temperature this far into June in the last six years.
On the plot more tender plants refuse to grow. Our second sowing of carrots has germinated very poorly and we’re thinking of trying another sowing on another part of the plot. Our outdoor tomato plants aren’t showing any signs of growing and to make matters even worse our climbing French beans and runner beans have been devastated by slugs.
Fortunately it wasn’t all bad news on the plot as we had a our first little harvest of strawberries from our newly planted bed. 
The ones above are Fenella and we also picked a few Vibrant as well. How did they do in the taste test - well both were delicious but perhaps Fenella took the honours by a short taste bud.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Will It Ever Go Away?

Wednesday was mostly dull although fairly mild. In the afternoon it tried to drizzle for what seemed like most of the afternoon but it never amounted to a measurable amount of rainfall. After a few calmer days a strong breeze was back.
We painted the outside of the summerhouse this week and the few calm days tempted us to move this large tub of dahlias out of the greenhouse to stand outside the summerhouse. After a couple of days they already look like they are missing the shelter the greenhouse gave them.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

To Pick or Not to Pick That Is the Question?

Tuesday was another decent day after a bit of a dull start the afternoon turned out bright and warm when the sun came out.

If you’ve been following our blogs you’ll know that this year we have kept our apricot, peach and nectarine trees in the greenhouse in an attempt to avoid peach leaf curl. Over the last couple of years we’ve been lucky to have leaves on the trees let alone any fruit.
Keeping the trees under cover seems to have worked and not only do we still have leaves but fruit as well. In the case of our apricot Flavourcot that amounts to only two fruits but we’re not going to start complaining. They both look ready to eat but are they? We don’t want to pick the fruit too early as these are our first ever apricots we want to pick them at their very best. If grown outside the fruit should be ready for August.
With that in mind mid June seems a little early even though they’re growing in the greenhouse. The apricots are still very firm to the touch so we’ve decided to wait a little longer before picking them. But how long will we manage to wait?

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Veggie Gap is Over

Monday was a much better day, pleasantly mild with only a gentle breeze and some decent sunny spells.

So far this season we’ve harvested rhubarb and a few bits and pieces to go towards salads but nothing very meaty if you get my drift. Well Monday put an end to the veggie gap when we harvested our first cabbage of the season.

As you can see from its brief history above it’s from Marshalls Early Brassica Collection which I received as plug plants on 20 March 2015. The calabrese, Marathon is also doing well and is just beginning to form small heads. The third variety supplied was cauliflower Mayflower which has grown into excellent plants but so far there are no signs of any heads which is probably a good thing as I don’t want all the collection ready to harvest at the same time.

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

Monday, 15 June 2015

Worst of the Month

Sunday was a poor day by any standards let alone for the middle of June. We had drizzle on and off throughout the day.
Temperature and Rainfall Friday - Sunday 12-14 June 2015
Rather unusually for a June day the warmest part of the day was at midnight and then the temperature gradually fell through the remainder of the day. For most of the day the temperature remained stubbornly around the 11°C mark or 52.0°F. It continued to fall down to a very chilly 5.3°C (41.5°F) by dawn on Monday morning.

I’m not sure my outdoor tomatoes and beans will be too impressed with such a chilly night but the forecast is for it to warm up through the week.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Experimenting with Video

Saturday never really brightened up after some early morning rain. It felt muggy in the afternoon and the sun tried its hardest to break through the clouds but it didn’t quite manage it. The morning rainfall came to 7.2mm (0.28”) making it the wettest day of the month.

It was a good day to do a little bit of video editing to sort out my video from RSPB Old Moor taken on Friday. It’s now uploaded in glorious 4k resolution.

All the birds on the reserve kept their distance from our camera lenses and all the videos of birds were taken with my camera operating on its maximum zoom equivalent to a 400mm lens.

Having filmed all my video in 4k resolution I decided to compare the quality of an individual frame grab using video editing software (CyberLink Power Director) and an individual frame grab using my camera which does the same thing.
Frame grab using CyberLink Power Director
Frame Grab Panasonic DMC FZ1000
Frame grab using CyberLink Power Director and image cropped
I’m not sure I can spot any difference in the end. Both methods produce an excellent clear image and there’s enough detail in the images to allow for cropping. It’s easier to grab an image using video software but using my camera retains much more of the EXIF data that would be stored along with the image.

Either way I’m happy enough with the final result.

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

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Bad Hair Day

Thursday and Friday were two lovely warm and sunny June days. A nice change from the cool and windy weather of earlier in the month.

We made the most of the fine weather with a visit to the plot on Thursday to plant out our runner beans, climbing French beans and sweetcorn. 
While we were having a well earned cup of coffee we spotted a wren flitting about in our redcurrant bushes. Unusually for a wren it perched on top of a fence post long enough for us to get some decent photos.
I did have a little bit of a concern that it might get trapped in the redcurrant bushed once our netting is in place to stop the blackbirds raiding the ripening berries. My concerns were soon dismissed as I saw this tiny little bird fly through the chicken mesh netting with no problems at all. A reminder of just how tiny this bird is.
Friday turned out to be the warmer of the two days and we paid a visit to RSPB Old Moor.
This lapwing was having a bad hair day or perhaps it was drying off after a bath.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Nearly Time for Elderflower Cordial

Tuesday and Wednesday weren’t too bad through the day although after a chilly start it took a while for each day to warm up. Overnight the temperatures continue to be well below average for June. 

If you saw our early spring video tour of our plot we had showed a view of this area.

It’s not a tidy area because it’s where all the large stones and rubbish were dumped as we cleared our plots. Over many years grass has grown up between the stones and the stones themselves are covered with moss and lichen. We’ve scattered a few unwanted bulbs in this area, the ones you dig up by accident and find you’ve managed to slice the bulbs in half have all been put in this patch.

Over time it’s become home to a mature elder which covers much of the ground through summer. By now this area looks like this.
It’s just coming into flower which means we’ll soon be making some elderflower cordial.
This means that even our old dumping ground for stones will at least be a little bit productive. The tree does need cutting back every few years to prevent it from taking over completely and usually means a year without flowers. That’s not the case this year so I’d better start looking up some recipes for elderflower cordial.

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

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Flaming June!

The weather doesn’t get any better. The gale force winds of the last few days abated but still left a cold nagging breeze. In the early hours of Tuesday morning the temperature fell to 4.1°C (39.4°F) the coldest June temperature I’ve recorded in six years of record keeping. 
Some of our squashes, pumpkins and courgettes planted out last Friday didn't survive the gale force winds of Saturday.
I’d also planted some tomato plants outside on the plot. These were the ones I hadn’t any space for in either our home or plot greenhouses. If you remember I was going to plant our trial Crimson Crush tomato plant alongside these to see if it was blight resistant. I’m not sure that the outdoor tomatoes are going to survive this cold and windy weather. Our greenhouse tomato are growing well protected from the cold wind.
Outside is a different story, they don’t look so good.

Fortunately I didn’t get round to planting out our Crimson Crush variety and it’s still growing rapidly in the more favourable conditions of our home greenhouse. I think I might find a sheltered  spot for it at home and grow it in a large pot. It seems a bit of a waste to plant it out in the plot too soon.
Our sweet corn, climbing french beans and runner beans are all waiting at home to be planted out. They wont hold out much longer before they suffer a set back growing in small pots. I’ll soon have to take the risk that the weather will improve. After all it is flaming June.

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

Sunday, 7 June 2015

More Gales and Cute Tiger Cubs

The weather doesn’t seem to know it’s June as we were treated to more gales force winds on Saturday. Only 6 days into the month and it’s become the windiest June of the last six years.
It’s the first time in June that I’ve recorded gust in excess of 26mph in the month.

Although it was lovely and sunny outside we decided against trying to do any gardening in the very unpleasant conditions. It gave me some time to do a little bit of video editing of our visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park on Thursday. After watching one of the polar bears diving into the lake we thought we would be hard pressed to see something else as entertaining but we were wrong.
 The three Amur tiger cubs born on the 29 March 2015 came out to play and have a little bit of lunch with their mum, Tschuna.

Some better weather is now required so that I can get on with some gardening.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

That Didn’t Last Long Did It?

Friday became our warmest day of the year as early in the afternoon the temperature reached 24.0°C (75.2°F). By mid afternoon the weather was already changing as the clear blue skies of the morning clouded over and a stiff coolish breeze picked up. I suppose we have to be thankful for a day and a half of decent weather.
The wind from last week has already damaged some of the main stems to one of our cardoons. It’s not supposed to be windy in June!
On the plot Sue planted out our squash, pumpkin and courgette plants. By the time we left they already had a bit of a lean on due to the strong breeze. It felt like we might be planting them out a bit early but then again it is June so if they can’t safely be planted out now I don’t know when.
The forecast for the next few days is not that impressive for early June. We might get some sunshine but the temperatures are fairly disappointing.

Friday, 5 June 2015

A Polar Bear Trick on the Warmest Day of the Year

Wednesday wasn’t a bad day but Thursday was forecast to be much better. On Thursday morning we set out for a visit to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park near Doncaster on what turned out to be the warmest day of the year at 23.3°C (73.9°F).
We’d been meaning to visit for a while as we wanted to see the two male polar bears Victor and Pixel which have arrived at the park since our visit last year.
The Wildlife Park is planning for the arrival of more polar bears and new paddocks are under construction ready for their arrival. Victor who is fifteen years old and Pixel who is two years old aren’t exactly cramped for space.
Both polar bears are in the picture but they’re not that easy to spot. The lake is 8.0m (26ft ) at its deepest point and covers an area of 6500 sq/m (70,000sg/ft). As we watched one of the bears decided to perform its party trick much to the amusement of all the children watching.
A quick technical note about this video. I made my first attempt at recording and editing in 4k video at the Park. If you watch this video on Youtube you can select the option to watch in 4k by clicking on the little cog in the bottom right hand corner and clicking on the appropriate quality from 4k down to 144p. 
After watching the polar bear for a while I though I might be struggling for a better bit of video especially as the lions, tigers and leopard only seemed content to remain almost hidden in the shade. It turned out I was wrong but a little bit of video editing will be required to sort out the afternoon’s star turn.