Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Beds Dug In The Nick Of Time

The forecast for rain in the early hours of Tuesday morning turned out to be correct. Another 5.8mm of rainfall, so far on Tuesday, has made this March the wettest I've recorded.
Although we've had plenty of rain this month over the last week it's been a bit drier and so, bearing in mind that rain was forecast, I was determined to see if some of the beds on the allotment had dried out enough to be dug over with my cultivator.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-27 March 2018
Once I started the cultivator digging over the first bed I was pleasantly surprised by how well the soil turned over. In the odd spot it was a bit wet, where the soil was a little bit more compacted, but in general it wasn't too bad and progress was fairly speedy. Fish,blood and bone fertiliser was added and raked in. Rather than cover the ground with the appropriate piece of weed control fabric I thought it would be a better use of my time to get more beds dug over while conditions were suitable. Weed control fabric can be put in place even if the soil is very wet as it doesn't involve me standing on the cultivated ground.
Beds for Broad Beans, Potatoes and Onions Dug Over 26 March 2018
By the end of the afternoon I'd managed to get six beds dug over. All the soil cultivated well enough and broke down into a suitable tilth for either planting or sowing directly into it. All the beds still need to be covered with weed control fabric before we start planting or sowing. Hopefully, that will get done fairly soon and we'll actually begin the growing season proper.

Monday, 26 March 2018

Warmest Day

I posted yesterday morning that Sunday morning had started off bright and sunny and it continued like that for most of the day.
Sunday Afternoon at The Allotment
There was a little more cloud around in the afternoon but it didn't stop Sunday from becoming our warmest day of the year so far as the temperature reached 14.0°C or 57.2°F.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 19-25 March 2018
We haven't had a great deal of rain in the last week so I'm hoping the soil at the plot will have dried out a little and be okay for digging over.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Done All We Can!

What could possibly go wrong. The clocks have gone forward so we're now on British Summer Time. Sunday morning has started off bright and sunny but with a bit of a chill in the air.
We've spent a couple of afternoons on the plot getting our first beds ready for planting. Beds for early potatoes, onions, broad beans and peas have all had their weed control fabric removed and the edges of the beds have been tidied up.
We have now done as much as we can to get the beds ready for planting up but the main problem is that they are still too wet to dig over. We need a few good drying days so that the beds can be dug over, some fertiliser incorporated and the weed control fabric replaced. A couple of the beds could be planted up without being dug  but the beds needed first, to get our onion sets planted, aren't suitable without a bit of cultivation.

Sue has weeded our perennial bed and raked in some fertiliser.
Our fruit beds have had a similar treatment so should be ready for the growing season to get into full swing.
Now we need the weather to play ball so the soil can dry out a little bit. However, the forecast for next week doesn't look like it's going to play nicely with rain forecast for most days next week. With a bit of luck it will be dry on Sunday and Monday so I'm planning to see how the beds dig over on Monday afternoon. The rest of the week doesn't look to be drying out sort of weather!

Friday, 23 March 2018


Thursday was a much better day than we've been having recently and there were some rumours around that it produced our warmest day of the year. Unfortunately for us that wasn't quite the case as the temperature maxed out at 12.5°C or 54.5°F our warmest March day of this year. Amazingly as we approach the end of March our warmest day of the year is still 28 January when the temperature reached the dizzy heights of 13.8°C or 56.8°F.

The one thing that is noticeable is that the wind has moved out of that bitterly cold easterly flow into a milder westerly direction.
Wind Direction Records 16-22 March 2018
Given the better weather you might have thought we'd head for the allotment but we didn't and instead did the next best thing and had a trip to the garden centre. We picked up some different dahlia tubers for the perennial bed at the allotment. We don't know yet whether or not last year's tubers will have made it through this winter's cold spells.
If last year's tubers don't make it through winter hopefully these 5 different varieties will make a splash of colour in our perennial bed this summer. Whilst we were at the garden centre we couldn't resist the temptation to buy a few herbs so that we've some early picking while we get this year's herbs sorted out.

As I was sorting out our newly purchased herbs and dahlias into their spot in our home greenhouse, I noticed that our first seeds of the year have germinated today.
Broad Bean - Witkeim Manita
Lettuce - All Year Round
I'm always happy to see the first seeds of the year germinate. Hopefully it's just the beginning as we've lots more seeds to sow.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Somebody Tell The Weather!

Both meteorological and astronomical springs have sprung but the weather still thinks it's winter. I sowed our sweet peas and planted some Casablanca potatoes in a potato sack on Tuesday afternoon. It was reasonably pleasant in the greenhouse as some afternoon sunshine lifted the temperature into the mid teens centigrade or around 60°F but overnight the temperature in the greenhouse fell to -0.4°C or 31.3°F.
Potatoes - Casablanca
Sweet Pea - Kingfisher
Somehow it feels a bit like I'm trying to garden in the middle of winter. At least now astronomical spring is here we have more daylight than darkness each day so I'd hope colder overnight spells are shorter but it's odd to note that last November, December and January were all warmer than March 2018.
 Average High & Low Temperature November 2017 - March 2018
There doesn't seem to be much improvement if the current weather model forecasts turn out to be accurate as temperatures are set to remain on the cool side with more snow showers from early next week.

I'm sure spring will arrive eventually it's just a case of when!

All our March sowing can be found here.

Monday, 19 March 2018

The Beast is Relenting

Monday has dawned much brighter and whilst the temperature couldn't be described as mild it much better than the last few days. In the sunshine the snow is melting quickly.
Although it looks lovely and bright outside it's still feels bitterly cold as I found out when I ventured outside to fill up the bird feeders and thaw out the bird bath. The temperatures might have lifted but the strong breeze is still from the east.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for Monday, 19 March 2018
The wind chill factor was making it feel a couple of degrees colder than the actual temperature. Below is a chart for the last month showing the wind direction. For much of the last month this has been from the east which has brought us "The Beast from the East Parts 1 & 2".
Wind Direction Records 18 February -19 March 2018
Over the last month, as you can see, we've only had a few days, around the second week in March, when the wind hasn't been out of the east.

Hopefully we've seen the last of any very cold weather and we can look forward to some frost free weather. Our main seed sowing season normally begins in April so an improvement by then would be much appreciated.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Winter's Icy Grip Continues!

Well, winter just refuses to go away. Almost lunchtime on Sunday and the temperature is still below freezing with a bitingly cold easterly wind blowing.

Gardening continues to be on hold.
Looking forward to spring!

Saturday, 17 March 2018

I Should Have Moved Our Potatoes

The drawback of having a weather station is I know the current outdoor temperature and it's -2.5°C or 27.5°F. I'm beginning to think I should have moved our seed potatoes out of the greenhouse.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for 17 March 2018
As darkness falls we've had our worst snow showers of the day.

Whilst it's good to be able to take photographs at 18:15 in the evening now our daylight is lengthening I would prefer it if it wasn't to take snowy scenes.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary http://ossettweather.blogspot.co.uk/ author M Garrett

Snow Showers

Friday was what we've come to expect, dull, cool with some morning rain. Saturday morning has started off as forecast with snow showers and feeling bitterly cold outside in the strong easterly breeze.
Temperature, Wind Chill & Rainfall Records 15-17 March 2018
It's cold enough at 09:45 for the snow showers not to be showing up on the rainfall totals until it warms up a little bit and the snow in the rain gauge melts.
Hopefully, the snow will melt away quickly. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

It Keeps On Raining

The cold wet weather continued throughout Thursday. Although the rainfall total itself wasn't anything spectacular, 5.2mm (0.2in), it fell on well saturated ground. It's not as though it rains and then brightens up for a bit but rather the rain stops and it remains so dull and dreary its difficult to know if it's still raining or not. Our monthly total is up to 65.4mm (2.57in) already the second highest March total I've recorded and we're only halfway through the month.
Temperature & Rainfall Records for 01-16 March 2018
Friday has started dull and wet and the forecast is for the temperature to fall further as the day goes on with any more rain on Saturday and Sunday falling as snow. Maximum temperatures over the weekend are predicted to be around freezing point with night time temperatures predicted to give some severe frost. Should I move my seed potatoes out of the greenhouse to somewhere frost free again?
As far as allotmenting goes we are still in winter mode. We head to the allotment to harvest the last of our overwintering vegetables and can do little else as the ground is waterlogged.

The only comparable March over the last few years has been March 2013 when a cold spell at the end of the month resulted in an average temperature of 2.5°C or 36.5°F. Currently, our average temperature this March stands at 3.9°C (39.0°F) but with some colder days forecast. However, rainfall in March 2013 was only slightly above average whereas this March has seen much higher rainfall.

Any outdoor gardening looks like it will remain on hold for some time.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Seed Sowing - Madness?

After all the rain on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were dry with a few sunny periods. There's some warmth in the sunshine now we're in the middle of March and during the day the greenhouse warms up nicely in any sunny periods. It was enough to tempt me into sowing a few seeds. Our leeks, which take a considerable time to germinate and grow on, certainly needed sowing. I decided to sow a few lettuce seeds too as there's plenty of seeds in a packet so I didn't see there was much to loose. My plan for them, should they germinate, is that they'll grow on in the greenhouse and coldframe before being transplanted into our raised bed at home for an early crop.
Lettuce seeds "All Year Round" & "Tom Thumb"
However, I couldn't help but think that I wouldn’t have considered sowing seeds in January or February but temperature wise January's average temperature was 5.3°C (41.5°F), February's 3.2°C (37.8°F) whilst March stands at 3.7°C (38.7°F) with a forecasted cold spell of near freezing temperatures by day, let along by night, to come over the weekend. There's more snow showers in the forecast too. At least in the greenhouse the seeds will be a bit warmer by day even if the temperature does fall below freezing through the night. They will also be protected from the rain, speaking of which, it's raining here again on Thursday morning.
I think I'm going to have to give some thought to alternative planting strategies at the allotment. It's not going to be possible to dig over any beds until we have a decent spell of dry weather and I don't think our onions and shallots can wait that long. 

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Some Decent Weather Urgently Required!

There's not a lot to say about Monday. It rained all day starting in the early hours of the morning continuing through until almost midnight.
In total it amounted to 19.0mm (0.75in) and it fell onto already saturated ground. It will take a good few days of good drying weather before it's fit to do any work on the allotment.
Monday finished up as our second wettest March day since 2010 with 04 March 2016 holding the record with a whopping 27.6mm or 1.09in. The monthly total is already 58.0mm (2.28in) which only leaves March 2016 with a higher March monthly rainfall of 79.0mm or 3.11in.

My table of top twenty wettest days since 2010 looks like this.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Wettest Day So Far

We've had plenty of rain so far in March, enough to put most allotment jobs on hold. Monday has already become the wettest day not only of March but the year so far. The rain gauge has just ticked over to 12.4mm (0.5in) at 10:30 and if the forecast turns out to be correct we've got more wet weather to come today.
We had a trip into the North Yorkshire Moors National Park yesterday (Sunday) to see Tornado. This wasn't one of the weather variety but a steam locomotive named Tornado.
60163 Tornado at Goathland Station
There was still some snow about on the highest points of the moors, especially near Levisham Station, but it was now coated black and not looking its best.
We really should be getting on with some jobs at the allotment but it's far too wet at the moment to even consider digging over any ground let alone planting any crops. If I can this week I'd like to sow some leeks, in modules in the greenhouse, just to feel a little bit of progress is being made.

I've noticed that the computer weather models are suggesting some colder weather following on from next weekend. I'm not sure at the moment that it won't be any worse than overnight frosts and fairly cold by day but there's always a chance that we could get a return of some snow as well. With a week to go there's plenty of opportunity for the weather models to come up with something very different. I'm hoping they will as I'm fed up with cold, snowy and wet weather and would very much appreciate it if spring would hurry up and arrive.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Plenty of Wet Weather

Thursday morning's snow didn't take long to thaw and by Thursday afternoon most of it has disappeared. However, the downside was that the rapid thaw left the ground very wet and soggy.
To compound the issue we've had more rain since then. February has started off as one of the wettest ones I've recorded at this stage of the month. In the last nine years only 2016 recorded more rainfall.
  Temperature & Rainfall Details 04-10 March 2018
Friday turned out to be a much better day. Morning sunshine meant it was pleasant in the greenhouse which had quickly warmed up after an overnight frost. It tempted me into sowing some broad beans. The first seeds to be sown this year.
Broad beans are fairly tough but I'll leave them in the greenhouse to germinate. In the greenhouse I expect germination will take a couple of weeks. They could be sown outside directly into the ground at the allotment but even if that were my preferred option,  due to the recent rain, and snow the soil on the plot is unworkable at the moment.
Preparation of Early Brassica Bed
The good weather tempted us down the allotment on Friday afternoon. The ground was very wet, certainly too wet to dig over, but I managed to prepare a bed ready for our early brassicas which are coming as plug plants from DT Brown. The bed had some compost spread over it and as brassicas prefer to be planted in firm ground I thought the bed didn't need to be dug over. Some fish blood and bone fertiliser and some garden lime were incorporated before the weed control fabric was moved from last year's brassica bed to this one.

Next on the list is to get a bed ready for planting our onion sets but with heavy overnight rain Friday night into Saturday morning, it's going to have to wait until the ground dries out a bit. I've learnt the hard way that attempting to dig our clayey soil when it's too wet can create almost unworkable soil. It's far more productive to delay digging and sowing until the ground dries out a bit. 

Thursday, 8 March 2018

More Snow - Spring Didn't Last Long

The early hours of Thursday morning brought some more snow. Judging from the depth of snow on the bird bath it's probably the best part of 2in or about 50mm.
Thursday, 08 March 2018
It's that wet sort of snow we get, not like that very dry powdery sort we got with the "beast from the east". With virtually no breeze to speak of it's left the trees looking very Christmasy with snow piled up on the branches.
Having said that I'm hoping it all disappears very quickly. We'd planned on a bit of gardening today but it looks as though that might now be on hold until tomorrow. The temperature is a little bit above freezing and the sun is beginning to break through the clouds so fingers crossed it will thaw quickly.
I have a suspicion that it's going to be a rather delayed start to the allotmenting year.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Overnight Spring Arrives

Overnight the snow disappeared and after a bit of a misty start to Tuesday the sun came out, the temperature returned to normal for early March and it felt like spring had arrived.
I even moved the seed potatoes back into the greenhouse to continue chitting.
A final note on the cold weather of the last week or so. I noticed this tweet from Paul Hudson yesterday.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Balmy Weather - In More ways Than One!

Sunday morning has started off almost balmy with the temperature hovering around 1.0°C or 34.0°F. It's rather unusual for our temperature to manage to reach such dizzy heights so far this month. In the table below, of last week's temperatures, I've highlighted the 0°C or 32°F level to show how many days were below freezing point.
Temperature Records for 26 February - 04 March 2018
To put some sort of perspective on how unusually cold a start we have had to March 2018 it's worth considering that in the previous eight Marches I've recorded a grand total of three days with average daily temperature below 0°C or 32°F. The first three days of March this year have all been below that level. The graph of our previous mildest and coldest March months is shown below again emphasising the unusually cold start to the month.
However, the good news is with the temperatures above freezing a thaw has set in even if it is a dull murky day with occasional bouts of sleety rain.
These early flowering daffodils are emerging from their blanket of snow. There's still a reasonable amount of snow to thaw and parts of the pond are still frozen over.
The weather forecast is for the milder weather to continue with temperatures gradually returning to more normal values through next week for early March.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Out of the Freezer and Into the Fridge

It goes without saying that Thursday was the coldest March day I've recorded since 2010. The lowest temperature was -5.4°C (22.3°F), the daytime high was -0.5°C (31.1°F) and the daily average -2.4°C or 27.7°F. It's our only "ice" March day when the temperature has remained below freezing all day.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records for 01 March 2018
I don't think our plants are enjoying the snow or the bitterly cold gale force winds.

I've now sorted out my February comparison tables.
Temperature & Rainfall Comparisons February 2010 - 2018
In summary a cold and dry February 2018. Hopefully March will be much better for getting on with some gardening jobs but it certainly hasn't got off to a very good start.