Saturday, 8 December 2018

Turned Out Wet & Windy

Wednesday turned out to be the wettest day of the week with steady rain all through the daylight hours. In general terms it's been a fairly mild start to the month.
Temperature, High Wind Speed & Rainfall Records for 06-08 December 2018n
We'd been down to the allotment on Tuesday for a few fresh vegetables and the ground was already on the wet side. Our grass paths can get rather slippery through winter. I'm guessing that further rain through the latter part of the week will have made our clayey soil too wet to dig. It's just as well we've done all our main winter digging.
It was a cold and miserable day on Tuesday not a day for messing about on the plot. We harvested some carrots, leeks and parsnips.
Once we'd washed the parsnips and carrots and tidied up the leeks we spent a few minutes making a video of how the plot looks in December.

Since Monday we've had 24mm (0.94in) of rainfall up to mid morning on Saturday, giving us one of the wettest starts to December I've recorded. To add further to the miserable weather it's been blowing a gale since late on Friday night. The gales are forecast to ease in the early hours of Sunday morning. 

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Winter's Here

The first day of December marks the start of meteorological winter. To be honest it seemed like it arrived a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately for us we just managed to get our winter digging done at the allotment and most of our beds are as prepared for spring as we can manage.
We had a very mild last few days to the month which ensured that the average temperature for November was ever so slightly above average at 7.7 C (45.8°F) compared to a recent average of 7.4°C or 45.3°F over the last eight years.
Novembers 2010 - 2018 Average Temperatures and Rainfall 
Rainfall was surprisingly a bit below average considering that we had some precipitation on 23 of the 30 days in the month. It was, without doubt, the dullest November I’ve recorded in 8 years. Although I wouldn’t claim my sunshine records are super accurate due to the positioning of the sensor but the values this year are far lower than any previous years.
Potteric Carr Nature Reserve
Of course as November brings autumn 2018 to a close we can compare this autumn with the previous eight autumns.
 Autumn 2010 - 2018 Average Temperatures and Rainfall 
After a summer that hit the number one position, temperature wise it was a little bit disappointing for autumn to finish a lowly seventh out of nine years. Autumn this year has turned out a little bit wetter than normal so I can't say we've managed to get our winter digging done because of the dry weather.

We've still some jobs to do at the allotment over winter but the weather over the next couple of weeks looks like it's going to remain unsettled with more wet weather to come so it might be that we just make a quick trip or two to the plot to harvest some fresh vegetables rather than get any other jobs done.

Saturday, 24 November 2018

Allotmenting On Hold

We still have some jobs at the allotment that we would like to get done through winter but we do have some limits on visiting the plot. If the weather is cold and wet we will normally give visiting a miss unless we are desperate for some fresh vegetables. This week was forecast to be cold with frequent showers throughout the week as well. That’s turned out to be a very accurate forecast.
 Temperature & Sunshine Records 11-24 November 2018
The chart above shows last week's and this week's records overlaid for comparison. Last week is represented in red and yellow with this week's records in blue and green. 

All week has been dull and damp without any hint of sunshine. Our highest temperature on Thursday came as darkness had fallen when the temperature managed to climb to 5°C or 41°F. It was dull all day with drizzly rain on and off. If you look closely you can see a small bump representing the sunshine record for Thursday. It was the equal lowest value for a November day matching the value set on 07 November 2013. 
Friday continued in much the same vein. The forecast doesn’t give much hope of any improvement from this dank and dreary weather until the middle of next week. I’m hoping that might be wrong.

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Winter’s Arrived

The weather models and forecasters were correct and this week has seen an end to our lovely autumn weather. Last week temperatures were a little above normal reaching a rather heady 13.5°C (56.3°F) whereas this week they are definitely below and there’s a bitingly cold east wind blowing with daytime temperatures struggling to reach 10°C or 50.0°F.
Tuesday was the poorest day so far this month with plenty of showers, a daytime high temperature of just 5.9° (42.6°) and not even any brighter spells between the showers.

It’s a good job we got our winter digging done as this week has also seen an end to our dry spell. Having got ourselves up to date at the allotment, digging wise that is, we had a day train chasing on Saturday and visited the Great Central Railway on Sunday where they were holding their final gala of the year before the "Santa" specials begin.

Our train chasing on Saturday was to see 6233 Duchess of Sutherland now running in her old London Midland & Scottish livery of Crimson Lake. She was heading the first Yuletide Express of the season from London to York.
6233 Duchess of Sutherland at Colton Junction
The "Last Hurrah" of the season gala held by the Great Central Railway saw the final gala appearance of 70013 Oliver Cromwell.
70013 Oliver Cromwell departs Quorn & Woodhouse station with a passenger train to Leicester North
It's now in need of a major overall as its 10 year boiler certificate has expired, or will have by the end of this year. I wouldn't want to be footing the bill for the overall, and I'm not sure the National Railway Museum who I believe owns the locomotive have the money readily available either, so it might be some time before this locomotive makes a gala appearance again. 

With the possibility of some cold weather over the next few days I decided on Monday that it was time to move our dahlia tubers out of the greenhouse and into the garage. 
They’ve been left in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks and have dried out nicely. My plan is to store them in paper potato sacks alongside our potatoes kept in the garage for winter storage. I tried this last year and it worked very well so I’m giving it another go this year.

Friday, 16 November 2018

Winter Digging Finished

I’m not sure why this year has been any different but for the first time in quite a few years we’ve actually managed to get all our winter digging done. 
The weather has been very good this year but I can’t convince myself that that’s why we’ve accomplished all the digging we had planned to do. Certainly, the dry spell of weather has helped and it’s noticeable now that even though we haven’t had a great deal of rain the grass at the plot remains wet all day long. I think we've got the digging done just in time before any proper wintry weather sets in. The well trodden path to the shed had become muddy and slippery and required a covering of wood chippings to make the path less hazardous.
Lots of our beds are been left with the intention that winter rain and frost will break down the soil. The long hot dry summer has left its mark on many of our beds resulting in the soil becoming hard and compacted.
We're pleased with the progress we've made getting all our beds dug over this year. Hopefully this will give us a flying start next spring, unless of course we have another cold and wet spring, like this year, in which case we've learnt that it much better to wait for conditions to improve rather than sow or plant into ground that is cold and wet.

We do have some other jobs we would like to get done over winter. Our raspberries need to be re-staked, the greenhouse glass needs a good wash, our old cold frame has to be cleared and renovated and we have one bed on plot 30 that is waiting to be cleared of weeds before it can be dug over. I’d like to coppice one of our hazel bushes for bean and pea sticks too. I’m sure they’ll be other jobs that will crop up over the course of winter.

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

A Let Off

We hadn’t visited the plot for a week as we’d been busy with other things. At the end of last week we had a visit to Potteric Carr and had a walk around the nature reserve.
Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - Potteric Carr Nature Reserve
Then on Saturday I took Sue train chasing in the Yorkshire Dales National Park. On the way to the Dales it was pleasantly sunny but by the time we arrived at Dent Head Viaduct there was a lot more cloud about. There was just about enough light to capture some video footage of the train heading over the viaduct.
Dent Head Viaduct
The wet and windy forecast for the weekend never really materialised and the dry and mild November weather continued. A month's expected rainfall is equivalent to one full column of blue over the month or around 50mm (2in).
Temperature & Rainfall Records 14 October - 13 November 2018
At the allotment we wanted to clear the bed where our sweet peas and some annual flowers for cutting had grown over summer. As we didn’t get too much rain over the weekend I wasn’t anticipating any problems digging over the bed once it was cleared of dead flower stems.
August 2018
It didn’t take long to clear away. The waste material was used to start a new compost heap. Once that was done we could make a start digging over the bed. We had a couple of interruptions from light rain showers and made use of one of the interruptions to have a cup of coffee.
We would have liked to harvest some leeks, carrots and parsnips but the weather didn’t play fair as it came on to rain heavily. We abandoned the idea of harvesting anything and headed for home.
In between the showers, drinking coffee and doing some digging we managed to make a video of our afternoon at the plot.

Friday, 9 November 2018

Settled Weather Results In Allotment Progress

So far the settled weather conditions that we've enjoyed ever since last May and which brought us a hot dry summer have continued into autumn. However, there seems to be a chance that this is coming to an end with wet and windy weather arriving in off the Atlantic Ocean over the weekend.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 10 October to 09 November 2018
The dry spell of weather has allowed us to complete many of the jobs we wanted to do on the plot before any really nasty winter weather set in. A couple of bonfires to get rid of piles of dry prunings, cleared away lots of dry debris and we've managed to dig over most of our beds for winter a job we didn't manage to do last year. Sue has covered most of our allotment activities in her post A Touch of Frost.
Wednesday has been our wettest day of the month with 3.6mm (0.14in) of rain bringing the monthly total up to 4.2mm (0.17in) which is a pretty dry start to November. 
More unsettled weather is forecast over the weekend bringing some wet and windy weather but then it looks like more settled weather will return by the middle of next week. We've a couple more beds that we'd like to sort out at the allotment and providing we don't get too much rain over the weekend we might be able to do that next week.

Saturday, 3 November 2018

Making the Most of the Fine Weather

With the weather forecast for wet and windy conditions over the weekend I thought it would be a good idea to lift our dahlia tubers. All the foliage had been blackened by the frosts last week. We haven’t had any rain to speak of for a couple of weeks now so I was reckoning on the tubers being reasonable dry and in good condition for winter storage.
It was a lovely November afternoon and whilst I was lifting dahlia roots Sue was planning on getting another bed dug over.

The ground was certainly on the dry side in our perennial bed but that made the job of digging out the roots so much easier.
It didn’t take me too long to lift the roots and I removed as much loose soil from around the tubers as I could without doing any damage to them.

I’d planned to empty one of our compost bays and add the material to one of the beds dug over last week. There wasn’t as much good compost as I’d hoped. The material on top of the heap had remained dry through the long hot summer rather than breaking down. I added all the suitable material I could find to one of the beds dug last week. There was enough to cover about one half of the bed.
Sue thought that the bed she had dug over would be better left uncovered for the winter weather to break it down for next spring.

The weed control fabric has been rolled up and left at the end of the bed.

Once we’d finished digging beds and lifting dahlias it was time to do a little harvesting. We needed a cabbage and as all our late summer cabbages are now finished we cut our first Kilaton autumn cabbage.
Once we’d dug a few carrots and picked a few spinach leaves it’s was time to get our dahlia tubers loaded into the car and head home.

I’m planning on drying the dahlia tubers off in the greenhouse before storing them in potato sacks in the garage over winter. This method worked well last year so I’m going to give it another try this winter.

Perhaps the weekend weather won’t be as bad as it’s forecast to be and we’ll be able to get some more plotting done.

Of course there's a video to go with the afternoon's jobs.