Sunday, 14 July 2019

Snail Damage Even In dry Weather

It’s now been three weeks since we’ve had any rainfall of note and the effects are starting to be seen on the allotment. Our total rainfall for July stands at 5.2mm (0.2in) set against a July average of 60mm or 2.4in. All our potatoes were looking really good as we moved into July thanks to a decent amount of rain in the early part of June especially. Now some of the haulms are taking on a yellowish appearance suggesting to me that they are running out of steam or more accurately water.
Temperature & Rainfall Data 14 June - 14 July 2019
I dug up a root of Casablanca early potatoes this week and the soil was very dry. We’ve been busy watering on the plot but I’m rather hoping that the potatoes will be okay as we concentrate on watering brassicas, beans, peas, squashes, carrots and parsnips.
Surprisingly, the dry weather doesn’t seem to have deterred the slugs and snails which have been munching their way through our plants at home and at the allotment.
We'd so much damage on a large hosta in a border in the garden that we decided to dig it out and replace it as the snail ravaged plant was spoiling the look of the whole border. The cut down hosta is in a large pot until we decide on its fate. In the photo above, the curious snail  that emerged from the base of the hosta was wondering what had happened to its food source but didn't have long to worry about its fate.

I’m always a little bit worried that birds might get trapped in the netting that's meant to keep them from damaging crops. It's necessary to keep some net over our cold frame at home as the resident blackbirds enjoy rooting out seedlings as they search for any tempting morsels to eat. I've never thought about these nets trapping snails until today.
I've never wondered whether snails have a reverse gear. Obviously, its shell was never going to fit through the netting.

The slugs and snails have been busy at the allotment too munching their way through our courgettes.
I doubt whether this courgette will recover from loosing all its leaves along with parts of its stems.
They've also enjoyed devouring plenty of our runner and climbing French bean plants although, with a few warmer days and nights, our beans are starting to grow with a bit more haste and giving the impression that they are at least considering doing some climbing.

With no "proper" rain in the forecast for the next week only the possibility of a few showers, it looks like we are going to have to do more watering at the allotment and in the garden.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Average Weather and Tomato Problems

A week into July and the month's weather so far hasn't been anything special. Daytime temperatures have been around average for early July but night time temperatures generally have been a little below average.
Rainfall has been limited to just 0.4mm (0.02in) which fell in the early hours of Saturday morning. Despite a wetter than average June the garden and allotment would like a decent drink but there doesn't look to be much rainfall on offer over the next few days. We've had very little rainfall now for the last couple of weeks.

On the allotment, we've got tomato problems with what looks like weed killer contamination of the compost in the growbags.
The fern like shape and cupping of the leaves is typical of damage caused by compost contaminated with weedkiller. Sue has contacted Levingtons the growbag manufacturers and we are supplying a soil sample from the growbag for analysis. I have my doubts  about this testing as it involves finding a sample of contaminated soil in the growbag. Two of the three tomatoes in the growbag appear at this stage to be unaffected so only part of the growbag compost appears to be contaminated. It will be interesting to see what the outcome of the discussions with the manufacturer and testing reveal.

On a brighter note, our new strawberry bed has produced some decent strawberries despite us only having planted it up this spring. The best of the varieties this year has been "Elegance" which has produced a some large tasty strawberries.
The start of July has also seen us begin harvesting our First Early Potatoes. We've dug the first roots of 'Casablanca' and 'Rocket' both of which have produced a decent crop of new potatoes. At the moment we are edging towards Rocket producing the tastier of the two varieties. Amongst this year's trial varieties is one First Early potato 'Premiere' which was planted later than 'Casablanca' and 'Rocket' but it will have completed its 90 day growing period in the coming week so we will need to lift a root to see how it compares in quantity and taste. Even at this early stage, I think it's safe to say that this year's potato crop will be much better than last year's but it is getting to the stage where they need a decent drop of rain to keep them growing strongly. Despite that wet June, the ground has dried out quickly as I discovered digging a root of potatoes on Saturday afternoon.
The forecast is for average temperatures and remaining mostly dry for the next week so the potatoes might not get the rain they require.

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Poor June for Weather

I've had chance to put June's temperature and rainfall data together and, if you're a gardener, it doesn't make for that good viewing.
Average Temperature & Rainfall - June 2010 to 2019
After a relatively dry April and May, to be near the top of the table for rainfall wasn't too bad and we didn't have to do much watering at the allotment.
Not everything appreciated the wet weather, but on the allotment brassicas and potatoes, in particular, enjoyed the wet cool conditions.
Looking at the chart below of temperatures for June, it's clear that both daytime high temperatures and night time low temperatures remained stubbornly below average.  
 June 2019 High & Low Temperatures with 10 year Highs and Lows
After the first few days of the month, it remained on the cool side with only the 29th of the month providing some real summer warmth with a very odd one day heatwave.

At least now we are into the beginning of July that hungry gap on the allotment when we wait for our new season produce to come on stream is over and on each visit to the allotment we can do a little bit of harvesting. 
What we want from July are some warmer days and nights to give more tender plants like runner beans, sweetcorn and squash a boost after a disappointingly cool June. The first day of the month has started off cool and breezy not exactly providing that boost of summer warmth.

Sunday, 30 June 2019

One Day Heatwave Brings the Hottest day of the Year

After what seemed an awful lot of weather hype, Saturday became our hottest day of the year with the temperature topping out at 29.4°C (84.9°F) late in the afternoon. A coincidence is that last year on the 29th June the temperature also reached 29.4°C (84.9°F) but we were already well into that lovely summer and it wasn't the warmest day of the year either as we'd already cleared the 30°C(86°F) mark earlier in the month.
Temperature Records 01-July 2018 to 30 June 2019
It's the hottest day we've had since the end of July last year when the temperature reached 32.2°C (90.0°F) on the 26 July 2018. Last June was a very dry month, unlike this June when we've had 85.0mm (3.35in) of rain, making it the wettest month of the year and the wettest since February 2018 when we had 104.0mm or 4.09in.
Sunday morning has seen a return to normal temperatures for late June with no more hottest days in the forecast.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Finally, Some Warmth

A week ago some weather models were suggesting that yesterday (Thursday) would, not only be the warmest day of the year, but in my case the hottest day my weather station has recorded over the last 10 years. Needless to say that forecast changed over the past week. In the end the forecast on Thursday morning still suggested that Thursday, if not the warmest of the last 10 years, might well be the warmest day of this year, with the temperature reaching 24°C (75.2°F) in the afternoon.
Temperature Record for 27 June 2019
Rather amazingly as we come to the end of June our warmest day of the year goes back to 21 April when the temperature reached 24.6°C (76.3°F) as today's temperature only made it to 22.6°C or 72.7°F. It is also worth noting that the overnight temperature fell to 6.5°C (43.7°F) a record low for my weather station this late into June. It now looks like we'll have to wait for Saturday to break the record when the temperature is forecast to hit 31°C or 87.8°F.

However, one record is certain. June will become the wettest month of the year as the total for the month already stands at 85.0mm or 3.35in.
Cauliflower - Helsinki (through some very wet environmesh)
It will take over the record from March when we had 78.0mm or 3.07in.

Monday, 24 June 2019

Planting Out Before The Rain

We've had plenty of rain this month and from planting and weeding last week I knew our ground was fairly wet, really on the limit for planting and sowing. The weather forecast for Sunday night and early Monday morning was for thunderstorms accompanied by torrential rain with 75mm (3in) falling in a matter of hours.
Broccoli - Rudolph & Cauliflower - Clapton
We decided to pull out all the stops and get our remaining brassica plants into the ground. Any heavy rain was going to make our ground unworkable. Sue was in charge of planting whilst I sorted out the protection. On our plot it is pointless planting out brassica plants and leaving them uncovered as pigeon fodder. They've even taken to attacking our dahlia flowers this year. Some hoops were already in place for the broccoli and cauliflower plants but they needed erecting for a batch of cabbage plants going into a new brassica bed.
Cabbage - Kilaton
Once planted all the plants were covered with environmesh. There was time to plant out some lettuce seedlings where winter onions and garlic had been lifted. Once again some protection measure had to be put in place using some coppiced hazel poles and old pieces of chicken wire. 
Lettuce - Great Lakes, Mixed Varieties & Salad Bowl  Onions Radar & Senshyu Yellow
It was a busy afternoon but at least we'd got everything that was ready for planting out in the ground. Of course you can probably guess the punch line that is coming and that is, of course, that the thunderstorms and rain never materialised. We did have a little bit of overnight rain amounting to 0.6mm or 0.02in. 

The forecast is for some hot weather this week which should see our hottest day of the year which currently stands at 24.6°C or 76.3°F dating way back to the 21st April. Of course the hot weather might turn out to be like last night's rainfall.

Friday, 21 June 2019

Another Cold Morning

Over the last few days we've had some decent weather. It's rained at sometime through the day but not in any great quantity. Generally daytime highs have reached around average for mid to late June but we just don't seem to be able to shake off uncomfortable cold mornings.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 14-20 June 2019
I blogged about the low temperature of 5.9°C (42.6°F) on Sunday morning which is the lowest temperature I've recorded in June so far into the month. Well on Friday morning the temperature fell to 7.7°C (45.9°F) which is another 10 year low temperature for June so far into the month. It's certainly having an effect ,on the more tender plants at the allotment, like French climbing and runner beans, squashes and sweet corn which now think it is time that summer proper arrived and nights turned a little bit milder than they are.
The forecast is for us to have a heat wave for a few days next week. It's not forecast to hang around for long before we return to more normal June temperatures. I think our tender plants would appreciate some milder nights rather than a few days of blistering hot temperatures.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

All Change

It's funny how quickly things change. A couple of months ago we began preparing our new strawberry bed. The first job was to move the weed control fabric from the old bed to the new one.
The top picture is an aerial shot taken in the middle of May and below it a close up of how the ground looked when the weed control fabric was removed. I tried and it was difficult to even get the tines of a fork into the ground let alone dig over the bed. The ground resembled concrete and I decided to leave it well alone until we got a drop of rain to soften up the soil. It was spring so there were plenty of other jobs to be getting on with. 

We had some rain in late May but then June arrived and we've hardly had a dry day. 
Temperature & Rainfall Records 18-May to 17-June 2019
Since those photos were taken we've had 74.8mm (2.94in) of rainfall with most of that coming in the last week to ten days. That bone dry soil has been transformed.
It's not in a fit state for planting but I thought a week ago when I began digging it over that my big cultivator would break it down nicely and we could maybe even plant a few vegetables in it this year. I finished digging the last little bit on Sunday and my guess is that it's now too wet to break down with the cultivator. I might have to leave it to dry out a little bit. I might just test a patch if we get a half decent afternoon this week. There's no point cultivating it if the soil is too wet or I'll do more harm than good to our clay soil.

It is however, a rather amazing transformation over only a couple of weeks from dry, bone hard, undiggable ground to ground that is now too wet to dig.