Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A Cold September

Tuesday was another day of misty and cloudy conditions lasting until the early afternoon before the sun broke through giving us a lovely late afternoon. One thing’s for sure now is that this September will be our coldest of the six years I’ve been keeping weather records. Although there’s still one day to go it’s not going to make any dramatic changes to this month’s average temperature.
We made the most of the afternoon sunshine with a walk around RSPB Fairburn Ings. As usual the birds kept a long telephoto lens away but we did manage one or two pictures.
The long range forecast seems to be suggesting a rather more unsettled pattern of weather for October. We shall see.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Will They Wont They?

The settled pattern of weather continued on Monday except that the morning mist and cloud didn’t clear away until the early afternoon.

Back on the 29 July we sowed a row of very late Onward peas as a bit of an experiment to see if we could manage a very late harvest or if they would succumb to the cooler weather. 
Despite a cool September they’ve not grown too badly and are now starting to produce a few flowers
Perhaps if we’re lucky enough to get a good October we might yet get a few late fresh peas as an tasty treat.

Monday, 28 September 2015

A Settled Spell

The weather has been fairly settled for the last few days. It’s meant some cool, cloudy or even foggy mornings with some afternoon sunshine if we’ve been lucky. Sunday produced the coldest day of autumn so far despite a mild and sunny afternoon. A cold night with the temperature down to 4°C (39.2°F) followed by a foggy morning left us with a daily average of 9.8°C or 49.6°F.
The foggy mornings do show how many spiders webs we have in the garden. Our palm tree seems to be particularly favoured.
After a couple of days away in the North Yorkshire Moors photographing birds and trains it was back to the plot on Sunday to plant our winter onions. I think that completes all our sowing and planting on the plot for this year.
It will soon be time to start planning next year’s crops. Those tempting seed catalogues are already falling through the letterbox. 

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Out with the Tomatoes and in with Some Growbeds

A couple of decent September days with temperatures around average for late September and no rain.

I decided it was time for a change around in the greenhouse. Our tomato plants were taking up an awful lot of space for the amount of tomatoes that were left on the plants. The tomatoes were removed and will be ripened elsewhere, perhaps in the summerhouse.
This year we are trying something new in an attempt to have some winter salad crops. Rather than the greenhouse be left empty or worse still filled with “stuff” we can’t be bothered to clear away before winter sets in we’re trying our luck with some growbeds.
Three of these beds have been set up down one side of the greenhouse. They’re pretty big and take a large amount of compost to fill them up. Each one so far has the contents of two extra large growbags emptied into it. These were used through summer for our tomato plants so I’m going to add some fish, blood and bone before topping them up with some extra compost.

All we need to decide then is what crops to try in them.  

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Too Hot for Planting Onions

After the pleasant weekend Monday was mostly wet. The rain didn’t stop until the middle of the afternoon when the sun managed to come out. It never felt very warm even in the late afternoon sunshine.
Temperature, Rainfall and Solar Radiation for Monday 21 September 2015
The days rainfall came to 4.4mm (0.43”) bringing this months total up to 29.6mm or 1.17in. Average rainfall for the month is 43.2mm or 1.70in.

Rather bizarrely we were told in our local garden centre yesterday that their supply of winter onions hasn’t been delivered because their suppliers think the weather has been too warm. I wonder where they live? 
Ossett Average Low Temperatures for Recent Septembers
Last year our winter onions were bought from the same garden centre and planted on 25 September during a much warmer spell of weather. They went on to produce one of our best winter onion crops. We’ve found that if planted too late the onions don’t do any growing before the cold weather sets in and then they just rot away over winter. 

We might have to look elsewhere for this year’s supply of onions.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Varied Weekend

The weather over the weekend was pretty decent and we made the most of Saturday’s weather with a little bit of harvesting on the plot. Although we can harvest a few bits and pieces on each visit production is beginning to wind down as we move further into autumn. 
On Sunday we visited the North Yorkshire Moors Railway to get some pictures of 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley, a steam locomotive making its final appearance on Sunday before been withdrawn for a major overall. This will take several years to complete and be a costly exercise.

It was one of those days when the Sat Nav went a bit haywire. Once into the North Yorkshire Moors things seemed to be going alright and the chosen route was alone decent enough roads. 
Then all of a sudden we were off the main roads and heading along little used country lanes. We got a little bit worried but we’ve had this sort of thing happen before and it’s usually turned out okay. 
This time it didn’t as we were instructed to turn right down nothing more than a bridleway which was narrow and unsurfaced. It didn’t look like the sort of road that you could turn around on if things got really tricky. Eventually we found our way back to some proper roads. However we did have to cross this ford which Sue wasn’t too happy about at all.
We managed to make it to Grosmont to get some picture of 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley leaving the station for the engine sheds. It was much later than planned and took place almost in darkness.
There were lots of other folk who hung about into the darkness to see the locomotive steam into the engine shed.

As Sir Nigel tooted its farewell, out of the darkness a male tawny owl hooted back.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Surprising Spuds

Thursday wasn’t bad. After another cool start to the day it wasn’t too bad although the morning’s short sunny spells disappeared altogether in the afternoon.

I decided it was about time I lifted our second bed of maincrop potatoes. I've been putting off lifting these potatoes for fear of what was underneath the weed control fabric. In some areas of the plot it's been a very bad year for slugs and I expected plenty of damage to our main crop potatoes thinking slug damage would be much worse underneath the fabric.
The potato tops have mostly died down. It seemed like that at each cut in the weed control fabric a nasturtium plant had grown through. The flowers were attracting a few bees but there was no way I could dig up the potatoes and save the nasturtiums.
I pulled back the weed control fabric and I've become accustomed to seeing a good number of potatoes on the surface of the soil but this wasn't the case.
The crop turned out to be better than we had obtained by planting more conventionally and even more surprisingly there was less damage from slugs and other pests. 
I'd half expected the soil to be a bit wet for digging after the recent spells of rain but that wasn't the case and the soil dug over very nicely. All I need to do now is tidy up around the edges of the bed and replace the weed control fabric and the bed can be left over winter and it shouldn't need much preparatory work to get it ready for next season.
Out of interest the larger bed planted up conventionally produced a total crop weight of 36.4 kg against 38.4kg in the slightly smaller bed where the potatoes were grown under weed control fabric.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Two R’s

The last three days have been a mixed bag as far as the weather goes. Monday and Tuesday were wet as forecast although we didn’t have much rain on Monday. It was more persistent very light drizzle all day. It made it feel wetter and damper than it really was. Wednesday was forecast to be wet but it turned out to be sunny and easily the best of the three days.
Temperature and Rainfall Monday 14 to Wednesday 16 September 2015
The temperatures have remained on the cool side for September with some chilly nights. It’s our coolest September since I started keeping records. 
Our tomatoes are ripening fairly slowly which I’m putting down to the chilly nights and often dampish daytime conditions. I did pick this bowl of John Baer tomatoes on Tuesday a new variety for us which has done well this year.
However we’ve quite a few tomatoes that are beginning to rot away on the plants before falling off onto the greenhouse floor.
Not a pretty sight are they? Carrying on unscathed though are Sungold which have reached the eaves of the greenhouse and are using the grapevine for support. They’re still continuing to give a regular supply of very sweet and tasty tomatoes.
I might remove our remaining green tomatoes and see if they will ripen indoors rather than leaving them to rot on the plants.

Monday, 14 September 2015

In Autumn Mode

After a chilly start Sunday turned out to be a nice day with plenty of sunshine and a high temperature of 18.1°C or 64.6°F.

On the allotment I seem to have got into autumn mode far too quickly. I feel I should be clearing beds ready for winter digging. However on Sunday afternoon I prepared a bed ready for our autumn onions and garlic. It's had fish, blood and bone added and been covered with weed control fabric.
Sue was busy lifting the last of our summer onions and shallots to dry off in the greenhouse. I went round the raspberries, blackberries, plums and runner and climbing French beans to harvest more goodies to freeze for winter.
That still left tomatoes to be picked from the greenhouse and from outside. I'm amazed how well our Sungold tomatoes have performed outdoors especially as it was pure luck I bothered to put plants in. Normally the odds and sods would be dumped on the compost heap. We've been especially lucky as they haven't been affected  by blight this year.

After this year’s success I might plant some tomatoes outdoors next year to use up any spare plants that haven’t made into the plot or home greenhouses.

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Sweet Corn Passes the Wasp Test

Saturday morning into the early afternoon was wet with a short but very heavy spell of rain over lunchtime. The day’s total came to 11.0mm or 0.43in. It put gardening on hold for the day.
We’ve tried a new variety of sweetcorn this year called Extra Early Sweet. It’s done okay but a combination of me planting the seeds a little bit late and some cool weather through most of summer have probably reduced the crop. The cobs we have picked have been very sweet.
This wasp obviously thought so as it made the most of some bits of left over kernels remaining on a cob.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

A Dry Start to September?

I've been trying to decide for most of Saturday morning just what to blog about but the weather has made it a bit tricky. It was going to be about the dry start to September but it's raining on Saturday morning as I'm writing this post so the dry spell has come  to an end.
On Friday afternoon I'd tried to cultivate some beds on the plot. A couple dug nicely but some others were too dry and wouldn't break down into the fine tilth I wanted.
Some of the soil had formed into small rock like pieces which wouldn’t break up with the cultivator. A drop of rain will probably help.

Having looked at the forecast for next week I don't think the too dry issue is going to last for very long. It looks like next week is going to be wet. 
At least the bed for planting our autumn onions and garlic dug okay so that's one job we can do once we've bought some onion sets. That’s provided it doesn’t rain too much.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Something in the Sky but Not the Sun

Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday it was cold and dull. Thursday was much better once the sun broke through the early morning cloud. After a couple of cold days Thursday became our warmest day of the month with the temperature reaching 21.6° C or 70.9°F.
On Wednesday afternoon I visited a friend to share out some of the plums harvested on Tuesday. It's not very often one of these lands just outside your garden.

Without doubt it's probably the quickest way in and out of Leeds during the rush hour. It's very good at clearing away fallen leaves from the lawn when it takes off too.

Thursday was a do it yourself day. The garage roof was in need of some repair. Once that was done I still had time to water our plants growing in tubs and harvest a couple of John Baer tomatoes and an aubergine from the greenhouse for dinner. The variety of aubergine is Jackpot and I didn't think it was supposed to grow fruits as large as this.
Tomato John Baer has produced a good crop at home and on the plot so it's one I think I will try again next year.

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

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Coldest So Far but Loads of Victorias

Any hopes that Monday's warmth would last into Tuesday were dashed as Tuesday started dull and cold. By lunchtime the temperature had only managed to creep up to 12°C (54°F) as the clouds refused to lift.
We decided on a short visit to the plot to do a little bit of harvesting. I'm not sure how we've come to have so many Victoria plums. I remember the tree had lots of flowers but through summer I wasn't aware of how many had set fruit. Still I'm not complaining. It didn't take long to pick about 10kg (22lbs) of plums and there's still plenty left to pick. We may have to give some away to friends and neighbours.
We left the plot late afternoon by which time the temperature had managed to reach 14°C (57°F) not very impressive for early September.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Iffy Forecast

Monday’s forecast was a little bit iffy. It was supposed to remain cloudy and cool all day but that wasn’t exactly right. The morning was pretty dull as forecast but the afternoon brightened up and the temperature lifted to a respectable 20.2°C (68.4°F) giving us our warmest September day this year. It was like a little bit of summer returning.
However despite the return of summer for a few hours it hasn’t done much to improve the cold start to September.
It does look like it might be a bit warmer later in the week.

Monday, 7 September 2015

A Weekend Harvesting and Clearing

The cold start to September continued over the weekend. Sunday was far the better of the two days with almost unbroken sunshine after a very chilly start. In the afternoon sunshine the temperature just about reached the average for early September.

The plot is certainly taking on an autumnal look now as beds are cleared of their summer crops and dug over ready for winter. I lifted our maincrop potatoes over the weekend. They’d all produced a crop of smallish potatoes which I’m putting down to a dry summer spell when they should have been growing well. They didn’t get watered and the result is small potatoes. They’re all usable though with very little damage from pests.
The bed where the potatoes were is now dug over and ready for covering with weed control fabric.

We still managed to do some harvesting though. Our runner beans and climbing French beans eventually recovered from their slug attack and the cold weather and are now producing beans at an amazing rate. Our Victoria plum tree has produced an excellent crop this year and so far the wasps don’t seem to have found them. I think they’re still busy finishing off what’s left of the greengages.
I don’t know if it’s just me but we seem to be well into autumn not just at the start. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

A Potential Record Breaker?

Friday continued the cold start to September with another dull day.

It’s very early in the month to consider it turning out to be a record cold September but the first few days have been much colder than we’ve experienced over the last few years.
I’m hoping it gets a little bit warmer over the next few days.

Friday, 4 September 2015

Covers Are Out

Wednesday and Thursday were pretty substandard for the beginning of September, much more akin to October, especially Thursday with a high temperature of only 14.7°C or 58.5°F and a cool breeze.

On Wednesday I decided to tackle the bed that a few weeks ago had large cracks in the soil as a result of a dry spell of weather. The recent rains had certainly got the weeds growing and it’s a reminder of what a good job weed control fabric does.
This is how it looked before I began. The weeds and flower remains were dug out and the cultivator was put to work. The soil was in a much better state for digging and the cultivator did a good job. If anything the ground was a little bit on the wet side but it dug okay.
It’s now ready to be covered with weed control fabric and planting up with wallflowers and sweet Williams for next spring’s cut flowers. I did intend to get a little bit more cultivating done but a heavy shower brought the covers out to protect the cultivator from the rain.
We didn’t get too much rain but it was enough to make the top of the soil a bit claggy and sticky so I decided it would be best left for another day.