Monday, 23 April 2018

Back to Normal

The good weather couldn't last and Monday morning has seen a return to more normal April weather. Sunday started off warm but it cooled down through the morning with a little bit of rain over lunchtime.
Temperature Records for April 2018
The combination of a very cold March followed by more cold and wet conditions at the start of April has put our gardening schedule behind. Now the mad dash to catch up is on. This meant sowing lots of seeds on Sunday. Some seeds needing a bit of warmth have been put under the indoor growlight and others like brassicas left in the greenhouse to germinate. The full list of sowings is in the table below.
List of Seeds Sown on Sunday, 22 April 2018
Our early brassicas, broad beans and sweet peas were growing slowly in the greenhouse through the cold spell of weather but over the last week they've grown quickly and the broad beans and brassicas need planting out fairly urgently of they'll spoil.
Early Brassicas - Cabbage (Regency), Cauliflower (Helsinki) and Calabrese (Aquiles)
Broad Beans - Witkeim Manitor
Some of our sweet peas have grown well enough to need the tops pinching out and moving out of the greenhouse and into the cold frame.

Strangely some sweet peas sown at the same time are only just starting to germinate. It looks like we will be busy at the allotment weather permitting.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Plum Blossom and a New Record

Well, what a month April is turning out to be. At the beginning of the month it was very cold, followed by a wet spell and then over the last few days, it's turned exceptionally hot for April. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records for April 2018
I do mean hot rather than warm or mild. Thursday, 19 April 2018 was exceptional for mid to late April with the temperature here reaching 28.8°C or 83.8°F. Suggestions were that it was the hottest April day in the UK for 70 years. I don't know about the rest of the UK but it certainly smashed my April records although they do only go back over the last 9 years. Not only was it the hottest April day I've recorded it crept into my list of top twenty hottest days overall since I started keeping records..
We had a couple of days away in Norfolk visiting Pensthorpe Nature Reserve and the North Norfolk Railway. After our days out we decided it was time to visit the allotment. We hoped the bed for this year's main potato crop would have dried out enough to be dug over. When we got to the allotment we had a lovely surprise.
When we left the plot last Tuesday none of our plum blossom was out, but on Saturday all the trees had decided to flower at the same time. I can't remember them all being in blossom at the same time before and for all the trees to have so much blossom.
Once we'd finished photographing the fruit trees, we got on with planting our main crop potatoes. The ground had dried out nicely and once it was dug over and the bed covered with weed control fabric we had enough time to get our main crop potatoes planted.
Obviously, this lovely but exceptional April weather can't last and this week is due to cool down with some more wet weather in the forecast. It's been lovely while it lasted though.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

What A Difference A Week Makes!

It was well forecast that we were going to get some warm, sunny weather on Wednesday and sure enough it produced our warmest day of the year by far with the thermometer reaching 24.4°C (75.9°F).
Temperature & Rainfall Records 12-18 April 2018
Only a week ago on 12 April, temperatures struggled up to 6.0°C or 42.8°F. There wasn't any need to check plants in the greenhouse to see if they needed watering as they went day after day without drying out. Temperatures in the greenhouse weren't much different to outside in the dull and murky conditions.
Broad Beans - Witkeim Manitor
Today they've needed watering twice as the temperature in the greenhouse soared. Perhaps I'm not used to giving the plants a good drink. It's been a while since we had any hot weather. In cold, dull weather I don't like to over water the plants so perhaps I was a little bit mean with my watering on Wednesday morning.
Brassicas Bought In From DT Brown
Our brassicas and broad beans are just about ready to move out of the greenhouse and into the cold frame. I'll give them a week or so in the cold frame before planting them out at the allotment.

On the weather front, it looks as though Thursday will be the warmest day of the week before the short spell of good weather comes to an end over the weekend. It's then forecast that we'll return to more unsettled weather with temperatures returning to normal or even below normal for the rest of April and into the beginning of May.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Things Are Looking Up

Over the weekend and into the first part of this week the weather has certainly taken a turn for the better. Temperatures are now more normal for the middle of April rather than well below as they were for most of last week. Monday was our new warmest day of the year reaching 17.3°C (63.1°F).
Temperature & Rainfall Records for April 2018
The next few days are forecast to be even warmer and rain free so I'm hoping that one or two beds on the allotment will dry out enough to be dug over. Our maincrop potatoes are still chitting away in the greenhouse as it's been too wet to get them planted.
We did have an afternoon at the allotment on Monday. The grass paths got their first strim of the year and I managed to get around most of the edges too. A couple of more beds had their covering of weed control fabric removed to allow them to hopefully dry out ready to be dug over. Where a few weeds were removed from the edges of some beds it was clear that the ground was too wet to be dug. Sue dug up the last of this year's leeks and reported that they were growing in mud, more confirmation that the ground would be better left for a few days to dry out before being dug over.
The plot still appears to be very bare even though it's the middle of April. If it wasn't for our fruit trees and bushes together with bulbs and a few perennial plants there would be nothing to see apart from bare earth. Over the next few weeks given some decent weather the plot should start to "green up".

Sunday, 15 April 2018

At Last Spring? - Our Warmest Day

Saturday saw an end to the dull, misty and wet weather of the last week. We saw the sky and some sunshine for the first time since last Monday and the afternoon temperature reached 16.2°C (61.2°F) which is very respectable for the middle of April. It was our warmest day of the year.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 09-14 April 2018
We thought it would be still very wet on the allotment and had a day out to the North Yorkshire Moors. It was very pleasant to be outside and not feel cold. The plan was to do a little bit of steam train chasing. There were two steam specials in the county on Saturday. The Ebor Flyer headed by 60163 Tornado travelling from London to York and The Whitby Flyer with steam locomotives 48151 and 1264 hauling the steam section of this trip between York to Whitby. When we arrived at Colton Junction near York to capture 60163 Tornado I checked on my phone to find out exactly where Tornado was on its trip from London. The answer was near Peterborough more than 100 miles away. Obviously something had gone wrong so a rethink of the day's plan was needed. We decided to head to Grosmont in the North Yorkshire Moors.
926 Repton operating on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with a Grosmont to Pickering train
At Grosmont we managed to capture trains operating on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. We had a walk along part of the Rail Trail which runs from Grosmont to Goathland. There were signs along the walk that, whatever the weather, spring has certainly arrived.
Grosmont station serves as a station on the main line network linking Whitby and Middlesborough and also for the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It meant that the Whitby Flyer would pass through Grosmont station on its run to and from Whitby.
1264 brings the returning Whitby Flyer into Grosmont Station
We're now hoping that the better weather will hang around for a while so we can get started on catching up in the garden and allotment. If indeed this is the start of spring its already very late arriving this year.

Friday, 13 April 2018

Still Waiting for Spring - Gardening on Hold

It wouldn't really matter what month of the year we were discussing, the last few days have been very poor. The last three days in particular have been exceptionally cold, misty and damp for the middle of April.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 10-12 April 2018
Day time highs have struggled to get much above 7°C (45.0°F) and, with the low cloud and misty, wet weather prevailing all day long, even greenhouse temperatures haven't made it to 10°C or 50°F. However, the cloudy and wet night times do mean that we haven't had any frosts.

The poor weather means that we are behind with getting beds dug over and planted up at the allotment but then we're not the only ones that are behind.
Magnolia Blossom 01 April 2012
Magnolia Blossom 13 April 2018
Hopefully, next week will turn out to be as good as the forecasts suggest and we might be able to get a few gardening jobs done as conditions improve.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Like November or December - But There's Promise!

If Tuesday had been in November it would still have been considered to be a dull and miserable day. Overnight rain on Monday night gave way mid morning on Tuesday to misty, drizzly weather that didn't clear up all day. It's continued much the same into Wednesday morning. Not much rain to speak of, but everything outside remains wet. So much for my hopes of conditions drying out at the allotment.
Out of interest I thought I'd compare previous Aprils with this year to see how their temperatures and rainfall compared by the 10th of the month.

I'm certainly not surprised to find it's the wettest at this stage of the month. It's worth noting that April 2012 is the wettest April I've recorded with 120mm (4.72in) by the end of the month. Hopefully we wont be getting anywhere near that record. As for temperatures, it's one of the coldest Aprils apart from 2013 which was an exceptionally cold month.

There is a promise of much better weather next week - jam tomorrow you might say!
 10 Day Forecast for Ossett

However, a week away in weather forecasting is a long time and there's the possibility that things might change but at least there's some hope that weather more like spring or, even dare I say it, early summer might be on its way next week. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

More Wet Weather

I posted yesterday that I was hoping for some dry weather to help dry out the ground so that it could be dug over ready for us to plant our maincrop potatoes. Well, the weather gods aren't being helpful. After a decent sort of a day up to early evening yesterday the weather went rapidly downhill and it's rained all Monday evening and through into Tuesday morning.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 08-10 April 2018
We're now up to 54.8mm for the month so far, which already amounts to almost twice our average total of 34.4mm for March and we're not half way through the month. There doesn't seem to be much chance of the plot doing much drying out this week although I've noticed the weather models are going for high pressure building next week which, if their forecasts turn out to be correct, might bring some warmer and more settled weather.

At least our coldframes at home got a bit of a spruce up on Monday with a lick of preservative.
All I need to do now is give the insides a bit of a clear out to remove the rubbish left in from last year and they'll be ready for this year's seedlings. Our broad beans and brassicas will soon be moving out of their cosy quarters in the greenhouse and into the coldframes.
I don't think that there is much difference between night time temperatures in the greenhouse and coldframe but the plants will spend a week or so acclimatising in any case before they are planted out on the plot.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Early Potatoes Are In!

After last Monday's rainfall, which give or take a little bit, amounted to April's average amount, the rest of the week wasn't too wet and occasionally we even saw a little bit of sunshine. The temperatures managed to reach around average for early April during the daytime but we did have a couple of chilly nights.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 02-08 April 2018
We decided to head to the plot on Sunday afternoon to plant our early potatoes and if we had time our six trial varieties for this year. Luckily the beds for these potatoes had already been prepared so no digging or cultivating the ground was required.
Planting Our Trial Potatoes
For a good number of years now we have planted all our potatoes by digging a hole with a trowel and just popping the potato into the hole. We've had good crops this way and when we first trialled this method we didn't notice any difference in yields so have continued to plant our potatoes like this ever since. Our trial varieties were planted through weed control fabric. However, as we lift our early potatoes - Casablanca - as and when required we find it easier to harvest them if they're planted without any weed control fabric.
Casablanca Potatoes
We're now stuck for planting any more potatoes as the bed for our main crop varieties hasn't been prepared.
The bed on the right of the photo covered with pea sticks will be our main crop potato bed this year. After planting was completed, I cleared away the pea sticks and lifted the weed control fabric that had been covering this bed. Hopefully, we'll get a few decent days to allow the bed to dry out before I set about it with the cultivator.
The weed fabric was folded up and moved and the bed will now be left to dry off enough to be dug over. The forecast is for the weather to be unsettled this week with more rain so it might be a while before this bed does any drying out.

Saturday, 7 April 2018

At Last Some Improvement

Finally, we've got some improvement in the weather. Temperatures have recovered to about what we can expect for early April and we've had some decent sunny periods. Wednesday was showery and so another 2.8mm (o.11in) of rainfall brought our monthly total up to 35.8mm (1.41in) or around average for the whole of April.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 04-06 April 2018
We spent Friday afternoon at the allotment. After all the rain I thought the ground would be too wet to cultivate but I did consider planting our early potatoes in a bed that's already prepared for them. In the end I decided to tidy out the plot greenhouse which tends to be taken over as a storage space over winter. Environmesh and canes are stored inside to give them some protection from the worst of the winter weather so some sorting out was needed.
The remaining "stuff" stored in the greenhouse will hopefully be moving out over the next few weeks. The boxes containing our overwintering chrysanthemum plants will soon be moved out. The roots are now producing some tiny green shoots and once these have grown on a little bit they will be planted outside. This year we are considering allocating them a bed of their own. The large roll of environmesh is used to cover our carrots as soon as they are sown which should be before the end of the month. Underneath the environmesh are the canes which will be used for our runner beans and climbing French beans so these too will be moved out of the greenhouse in time for summer tomato plants to move in.

We even managed to do a little bit of harvesting before leaving the plot.
There are some firsts and lasts amongst the harvest. The daffodils are our first cut flowers of the season and the parsnips are definitely our last as all the crop has now been cleared. The purple sprouting broccoli and spring onions are both first and last with both crops producing a very disappointing harvest. We certainly have a few more leeks to dig up and maybe some more Brussels sprouts to pick. 

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Wettest April Day & A Look Back In The Archives

Easter Monday turned out to be a "real treat". It snowed all morning before turning into rain in the afternoon. It then continued to rain all afternoon and evening. By the end of the day we’d had 32mm (1.26in) of precipitation in the day. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records Easter Monday, 02 April 2018 to 04 April 2018
Tuesday was our warmest day of the year as the temperature reached 15.2°C or 59.4°F. It wasn't as dry as the above rainfall chart shows as we had very light showers at regular intervals which were just enough to stop anything from drying out a bit. Wednesday morning has started off with more showers which are forecast to continue for most of the day. 

All that rain on Easter Monday puts it into sixth place in my league table of wettest days since 2010. I’ve included the table below.
Not only did we have all the snow and rain but it was also one of the coldest April days since 2010 too with the average temperature for the day coming in at only 3.3°C (37.9°F) rather than 9.2°C (48.6°F) the average daily temperature for April.

I’m hoping things can only improve through the rest of the month.

I noticed as I checked back through my rainfall records that April 2012 was an extremely wet month with 120mm (4.72in) of rainfall. We normally expect an average of about 35mm (1.38in) based on the last eight years. We're a little concerned that our planting and sowing this year will be delayed due to the very wet weather. All that rain on Easter Monday fell on already soggy ground. I decided to have a look back at my archive blog posts to see how we faired planting potatoes, carrots and parsnips in 2012.
 Potato Planting 20 April 2012
As it turns out we didn't plant any potatoes until the 20 April in 2012 with parsnips sown on the 30 April. Our carrots weren't sown until 12 May. Judging from my harvesting records we still managed decent returns from all three crops. So perhaps all isn't lost yet and I think we might be best waiting until the ground dries out a little bit.

Who knows it might warm up a bit and dry out so we can get on with some gardening by the middle of the month.

Incidentally, if you want to look back at my archive record for planting potatoes back in April 2012 click here. (You will need to scroll down the page that opens).
Archive for 20 April 2012

Monday, 2 April 2018

More Snow - Winter Continues

Winter doesn't seem to want to go away this year. Easter Sunday was the second coldest April day I've recorded with the temperature only managing to creep up to 5.8°C or 42.4°F. Unsurprising, the only colder April day I've recorded was the first day of April in 2013 which was a notoriously cold spring.
Easter Monday has got off to a snowy start. Traditionally it's the day to plant early potatoes. Had it not snowed, our potatoes weren't going to be moved out of the greenhouse due to the very wet ground conditions at the allotment which resulted from a March with double its average rainfall.
Our potatoes will remain in the greenhouse until we get an improvement in the weather and the ground dries out and warms up.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Unwanted Ton!

Spring continues to be elusive. After a few dry days when I managed to dig over a some beds at the allotment the weather has returned to being cloudy, cold and wet. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records March 2018
The overnight rain into Saturday morning saw the rainfall total for the month exceed the 100mm mark. It's only the fifth time we've had over 100mm of rainfall in a month since 2010 and moving this March into fifth place in my wettest months' table.
Rainfall Data from 2010 -2018
We did manage to plant our onion sets on Thursday although it was touch and go as the weather did its best to rain all afternoon.
Onion sets - Stutgarter, Sturon, Red Karmen and Rumba
It’s now too wet to dig over anymore beds until we get some drier weather. We’ve got a couple of beds ready to plant both our early potatoes and trial potatoes but I think that the soil is far too wet and cold to plant them. I wouldn't think of planting potatoes in the allotment in January but January was not only drier than March, it was also milder. So far this year January is our warmest month! I’ll give it a couple of weeks and see if we get some drier weather and hopefully it will have warmed up a bit by then. At the moment we are stuck in winter waiting for spring to arrive.

However, there are just a few signs that spring is slowly arriving. I caught these two frogs doing what they usually do at this time of year.
I nearly stood on them as I headed up the steps to feed the birds. Sue eventually moved them nearer the pond where they were much safer as we did some gardening on Friday afternoon. In the greenhouse our nectarine tree is in full flower.
Nectarine - Fantasia
Perhaps April will see an improvement in the weather although with the possibility of more snow on Easter Monday it might not get off to the most promising start.