Sunday, 15 September 2019

Weird Sky and Looking Forward to Spring Cabbage

After a very cold start Saturday was a pleasant sunny day but with a very strange sunset.
We are in a particularly dry spell of weather with very little rainfall over the last month. We've had small amounts of drizzly rain on a number of days but it's not been enough to do any good for watering plants. We took pity on our brassicas and leeks at the allotment and gave them a good soaking.
Temperature and Rainfall Records 16 August - 15 September 2019
Over the course of a month we'd expect around 50mm or 2in of rainfall rather than the 25mm or 1in we've actually had over the last 4 weeks. It also includes a very hot week at the end of August so it's not surprising with virtually no rainfall to speak of since that hot spell that the ground is very dry.

I sowed some spring cabbage on 29 July directly on the plot after some sown at home were devoured by snails soon after germinating. Surprising the amount of damage they do even in a dry spell of weather. 
Spring cabbage 'April' sown on plot 
They've been watered regularly and have produced some good plants but they needed thinning out and transplanting into our winter brassica bed. With the ground being very dry I've kept putting off transplanting them but decided on Saturday it couldn't be delayed any longer.
Although it might not look like it from the photo above, they received lots of water during the transplanting process with each row getting a couple of cans of water. Hopefully, they'll recover from the shock and produce some tasty cabbages next spring. They were covered with environmesh in an attempt to keep the cabbage white butterflies and pigeons at bay. There doesn't appear to be much rainfall in the forecast for the next week so it will be important to keep them well watered until they get established.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Almost a Frost!

September is certainly off to an unusual start. Firstly we've had some strong to gale force winds to contend with and then in the early hours of Sunday morning the temperature fell to 4.6°C (40.3°F) which is unusually cold for the first few days of September. The only other time we've had a temperature below the 5°C (41.0°F)mark so early in the month was 08 September 2013 when it fell to 4.2°C or 39.6°F. 
Temperature Records 06-08 September 2019
Hopefully, the allotment will have avoided a frost as well. Our climbing French beans and All Gold raspberries were still cropping really well but I don't think they'd appreciate a frost.
Raspberries - All Gold
Our Climbing French beans Cobra and Goldfield haven't enjoyed our recent windy weather but we tried a variety called Python and this variety has tolerated the windy weather much better as you can see in the video below.

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Fed Up Of Windy Weather

It has been a very poor start to September and rather than it seeming like summer is continuing it certainly feels like autumn has arrived. We've had some amount of precipitation on the first 6 days of the month. That's not to say it has been a wet start as so far the total amount of rainfall is only 5.0mm (0.2in), but it's a continuation of the weather we had in the last few weeks of August. It seems much wetter than it really is and in truth the allotment is rather dry and it wouldn't hurt from a decent spell of rain. The strong to gale force winds have been the real cause of it feeling like autumn and it's certainly been the windiest start to September I've recorded in the last 10 years.
High Wind Speed Records 01-06 September 2010-2019

I highlight in red once wind speeds reach 20mph. These are wind speeds recorded at plant level not high above the ground and they're in a sheltered suburban garden not an exposed cliff top. A gust of 27mph in August was enough to bring down an apple tree in the garden. Obviously, it's by far the windiest start I've recorded to September.

It didn't stop us having an afternoon walk around the lake at Clumber Park on Friday. It was a bit drizzly as we set off but luckily the sky cleared after a while and it wasn't too bad an afternoon.
Of course the squirrels as usual were only too happy to pose for a photograph.

The forecast for the next few days hints at some cooler than average temperatures but at least it's forecast for the strong winds to abate. 

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Meteorological Autumn Begins

The first couple of days have certainly had an autumnal feel to them with overnight temperatures down into single figures. We made the most of a couple of warm days at the end of August visiting Sandringham Estate and the North Norfolk Railway.
Sandringham Estate
North Norfolk Railway
Both visits were enjoyable although I was a little disappointed with some parts of the Sandringham Estate. The visit to the railway's steam gala didn't go without any problems either as they'd had a few "technical problems" which meant the trains weren't running to the timetable. The staff were very helpful though so it didn't cause us any problems.

September sees the start of meteorological autumn so it's time to have a look at August's temperature and rainfall comparisons over the last 10 years as well as the last 10 years' summers.
 August Temperatures and Rainfall Records 2010-2019

I shouldn't be surprised that this August finished up the warmest of the last 10 years. It started off on the warm side with a cooler spell in the middle and ended on a very hot note with 26 August becoming the hottest August day I've recorded when the temperature reached 31.2°C or 88.2°F. I'm more surprised to find out how dry August was. We had 18 days with some rainfall which probably made it seem wetter than it actually was. Obviously, we didn't have much rainfall on most of those 18 days. I was surprised how dry the ground was when I was lifting a row of potatoes towards the end of the month. To confuse things even more we had our windiest August day on 15 August when the wind was strong enough to bring down one of our apple trees.
Summer Temperature and Rainfall Records 2010-2019
Temperature wise it's been a pretty good summer for us but obviously it didn't match up to last year's glorious summer weather. Once again I'm rather surprised it's so high up in the amount of rainfall through summer. There's certainly been times when the allotment and garden seemed very dry although you wouldn't think it from the rainfall figures.

I'm hoping to get our remaining potatoes lifted before any really wet weather arrives. The weather forecast for the next week to ten days looks to be unsettled with showers rather than any spells of heavy rain and the temperatures look to be slightly below average so no excuses for not getting the last of the potatoes lifted. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Record Breaking Temperatures for August

After a drop of rain late into Tuesday evening, I think our current brief heatwave has probably come to an end. It was hot again on Tuesday but unlike the previous two days it didn’t get high enough to make it into the list of top twenty hottest days.
Temperature Records 22-28 August 2019
I think it’s probably safe now to publish an updated list of hottest days for the last ten years as it’s unlikely there will be any more additions this year.
The high temperatures late into August this year have been out of step with the previous 9 years when Augusts have definitely cooled off towards the end of the month rather than warming up like this year. The table below shows the colour coded temperatures, red to blue representing hot to cold, for the last 10 years .
August Daily High Temperatures from 2010 - 2019
It's easy to see how unusual it is to get a splash of red representing the hottest August days at the end of the month.

It's a little difficult to make out from the chart but 31.2°C (88.2°F) recorded on 26 August 2019 became our hottest August day taking over top spot from 01 August 2013 when the temperature reached 31.1°C or 88.0°F.

The heat has meant that any gardening activities requiring some effort, such as lifting potatoes, were put on hold waiting for cooler weather to arrive. 
It seems that over the next few days the weather will cool down considerably as meteorological autumn begins on Sunday.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Summer Returns - Too Hot For Lifting Potatoes!

We'd had a couple of poor weeks of weather for August and it seemed like autumn had arrived already. Then, on Friday and Saturday summer returned. The mid afternoon temperature on Saturday afternoon reached 29.3°C (84.7°F), not high enough to be August's hottest day or make it into the top twenty hottest days, but the highest so late into August. However, it's worth noting that the highest temperature I've recorded late into the year was 29.4°C (84.9°F) on 13 September 2016.
I'd spent some time on Friday afternoon lifting potatoes and it was warm work. 

The potatoes in the photo above are Casablanca which is a First Early potato but we've found that they produce a good crop when left in the ground and that they store well and can be used well into autumn. As the forecast was for Saturday to be even warmer, which turned out to be correct, I didn't fancy lifting the rest of the remaining rows of potatoes thinking I'd find a less energetic plot activity.

As I was lifting the potatoes I was surprised at how dry the ground was. My impression of August to date is that it had been a rather wet and windy month. The strength of some of the winds can be in no doubt as it's brought down one of our apple trees. The rainfall is a different matter. There's been plenty of media reports of flash flooding but we've been lucky to miss any such downpours. Our rainfall total to date for August is 33.4mm and if we don't have anymore rainfall this month that would make it the driest August of the last 10 years. So far we have had 15 days out of 24 with some amount of rainfall most of it in very small amounts which don't do much for keeping the ground moist. As you can see from the chart above we've had rainfall on 4 days this week but in total it only amounts to 1.6mm (0.06in) which is of no use in keeping the ground damp. Instead of digging potatoes I decided my time would be better spent watering a few crops.

In between coffee breaks there was still time left to do a little bit of harvesting on what turned out to be a hot Saturday afternoon.
Sunday is forecast to be even hotter so it might make its way into the record books

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Lost In The Gales - One Apple Tree

It was very windy when we were at the allotment on Thursday afternoon and on Friday it rained for most of the day meaning gardening was on hold. It wasn't until Saturday morning when I headed up the garden to see if anything needed watering in our cold frames that I discovered the damage caused by the gale.

I found that I couldn't get to our coldframes as they were covered by one of our apple trees. The gales on Thursday had obviously been too much for it, in full leaf and ladened with apples, the trunk had snapped off somewhere around the graft. We think the apples were a variety called Peasgood Nonsuch which we bought many years ago. 
The tree has now been cut up and the apples, which weighed in at 20kg, boxed up. We will have to see how long they will keep.
Some of the apples are damaged and will need using quickly. It's a shame about the tree as the apples it produced were very good for cooking. We'll have to make best use of the last ever apples the tree will produce.

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

Saturday, 17 August 2019

More Gale Force Winds and Rain

After a pleasant warm start to August, the weather over the last week has deteriorated rapidly. The warmer weather has disappeared to be replaced by much cooler, wet and windy weather. Last Saturday wind speeds reached 27mph, only the second time in 10 years that I'd recorded such speeds in August.
Temperature & Wind Speeds Records 10-16 August 2019
On Thursday afternoon those gust speeds were reached again making it three times in ten years and two of those occasions in the last week. I haven't put the rainfall on the chart above, but following on from a windy Thursday was a wet Friday. It was mainly light rain for most of the day with heavier spells on and off throughout amounting to 8.4mm in all. This brings this month's total up to 31.6mm about average for the midpoint of the month. I have the impression that's it's been much wetter than that.

So far the weather hasn't done any serious damage or delayed any jobs on the allotment. By far the worst casualty of the gales is one of our cardoons.
Its growing days for this year are well and truly over. I'll leave the blown over stems as they are until the flowers have faded as they're adored by the bees. I'll then remove all the stems and leave the cardoon to regrow from the base.

Although we've lifted a reasonable amount of potatoes, I think I need to lift most of those remaining to avoid them becoming slug fodder. Now that the ground is wet, I think the longer they are left in the ground the greater the amount of pest damage there will be. I lifted some Osprey and Nadine this week.
Potato - Osprey
Both varieties produced a decent crop with only a small amount of pest damage. We picked our first apples, which we think are Discovery, but as we inherited the apple trees years ago we can't be certain of the variety.
So far the wasps have stayed away from the apples presumably because they are enjoying the plums too much. Most of our Oullins gage plums were attacked by wasps as soon as they were ripe ruining most of the crop. I'm assuming they will move to the greengages as soon as they start to ripen and in a bid to save a few gages for us I've started picking some unripe fruits.
Greengage - Mannings
Hopefully, we can ripen these fruits at home away from the any wasps. I'll have to decide quickly whether or not to pick more greengages before the wasps move in.