Saturday, 16 February 2019

Spring's Here ?

The last few days have been very mild for the middle of February and with the afternoon temperature on Friday reaching 15.8°C (60.4°F) it felt very spring like. That makes it our second mildest February day in the last 10 years only being beaten by 23 February 2012 with 16.6°C (61.9°F).
February High & Low Temperatures for 2019
However, there was a sting in the tail as early on Friday morning the temperature fell to -1.5°C (29.3°F).

With the pleasant early spring weather, at the allotment, we're getting on with a few jobs that need doing before the main planting season begins. So far February has been reasonably rain free and following on from a dry January it means our clayey soil is in good condition for digging over. This week one of our hazel trees was coppiced for pea sticks and bean poles.
The larger of the two trees was cut back and it will take it a couple of years to grow back to a similar size. The coppiced poles will be used for pea sticks and bean poles but will need some further trimming before they can be put to use.
At the moment the coppiced branches are all in a rather large pile on part of the allotment. The top more twiggy parts of each branch will be cut for pea sticks and the remainder will be used as supports for sweet peas or runner beans.
I'm hoping that we wont get a repeat of last year when the "Beast from the East" descended on us in March bringing exceptionally cold and snowy weather delaying the start of the growing season.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Storm "Erik"

Storm Erik has blown through leaving Sunday morning much calmer. Saturday became our wettest day of the year with 6.2mm (0.24in) of rainfall which is nothing out of the ordinary. Storm Erik did manage to make it into my list of top twenty windiest days of the last ten years.
It's probably fair to say that 13 January this year was windier as it had a higher average wind speed measured over the whole day.
Temperature & Wind Speed Records 08-10 February 2019
The highest wind speeds were in the early hours of Saturday morning with storm Erik finally easing through Saturday afternoon.

At home the garden has survived without any damage and hopefully there will be nothing damaged at the allotment either.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Wettest Day of the Year!

It's only mid morning on Thursday but surprisingly it has become our wettest day of the year. I say surprisingly because we've only had 3.4mm (0.13in) of rainfall early on Thursday morning but that relatively small amount still makes it the wettest day this year.
Rainfall Records 09 January to 07 February 2019
The cold weather at the beginning of February meant I didn't get round to posting the facts and figures for January. The low rainfall in January was more worthy of note than the temperature. As you can see from the table below January this year was easily the driest over the last few years.
Rainfall January 2010 - 2019
Temperature wise this January turned out to be more or less average with some rather mild days cancelled out by some colder days.
Average January Temperatures 2010 - 2019

We're now starting to get a bit of colour into the garden. The hellebores have been in flower for a few weeks and our snowdrops are in bud and will be in flower any day now.

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Coldest Night of the Year

Dawn on Sunday morning produced our lowest temperature of the year as the thermometer plunged to -5.2°C or 22.6°F.
Temperature Records 01-03 February 2019
It's not quite the lowest temperature I've recorded in February, that record is still held by 11-February 2012 with -5.9°C or 21.4°F. However, it's still cold enough to move it into my list of top twenty lowest temperature since 2010.
Top Twenty Lowest Temperatures Since 2010
A few weeks ago I compared a couple of weather model outputs to show just how much the output could vary over a 10 day period. It's worth a quick look at this morning's output for the GFS and GEM models especially regarding the low overnight temperatures.
GFS (Top) and GEM (Bottom) Output for 03-05 February 2019
Whilst neither model has accurately modelled the temperature, at least the GEM suggests something rather unusual. The GFS model suggests nothing other than a slight frost, nothing out of the ordinary for a February night. The GEM is suggesting another cold night Monday into Tuesday, so it will be interesting to see if it continues this trend over the next day or so as the output updates.
Our newly purchased seed potatoes will be staying bagged up in the garage, hopefully protected from the cold temperatures, rather than moving into our unheated greenhouse to chit. There will be plenty of time for them to chit before planting time if they move into the greenhouse in March.

Friday, 1 February 2019

February Starts With A Dusting of Snow

January certainly departed on a cold note with the temperature remaining below freezing all day.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records 30 January - 01 February 2019
It remained misty all day long too along with a temperature of around -2.5°C (27.5°F) for most of the daylight hours. The coldest was -3.1°C (26.4°F) at 18:40.
Although it was the coldest day of the year it wasn't a record breaker. It was the coldest January day since 25 January 2013 when the temperature fell to -4.8°C (23.4°F) but to find a colder day, we only have to go back to late last February when the "Beast from the East" struck. On the 28 February 2018 the average daily temperature was -4.2°C (24.4°F) with a low of -5.7°C or 21.7°F.

February has started off with a very light dusting of snow.
The bird bath was well and truly frozen over and it looked like someone had already been trying to get a drink.
Some hot water soon thawed it out but I'll need to keep checking it throughout the day to see if it freezes over again.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Snow - No Show

The snow forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening didn't show up. We had a few very light rain showers through the afternoon and evening amounting to 1.0mm in total so had it been snow it would only have been a light covering. It's continued cold though, with the wind chill effect making it feel even colder.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records 28-30 January 2019
The weather models seem to have had a rethink about the snow forecast for Thursday and that now appears to have done a disappearing act as well.
It was frosty overnight, Tuesday into Wednesday morning, and it looked as though we'd had the tiniest amount of snow when I ventured outside to thaw out the bird bath and top up the feeders.

The forecast is for the weather to remain cold for the rest of the week and through the weekend before turning milder next week.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Looking Forward to New Varieties

Last week was generally on the cool side apart from Friday and Saturday which turned out to be much milder. We are now on a downward temperature trend for the rest of the month and into the beginning of February. There is the possibility of some snow this week, along with the cold temperatures, but the forecasts are far from certain about the snowfall. 
Temperature & Windchill Effects 21-27 January 2019
Sunday was a particularly windy day with the wind chill effect making it feel bitterly cold.

We did manage to get a few allotment jobs done and Sue has covered most of these in her blog post here.

With the new season's seed orders arriving in the post, and a couple of trips to local garden centres to supplement our online orders, a start to the new gardening year has begun even if we haven't yet sown any seeds. Each year we like to try a few new varieties of vegetables to see what we might be missing. It does means that over the years we've tried many different varieties, with potatoes and tomatoes the most prolific.

I think we've tried at least 43 different sorts of potato varieties. These are the ones I have photographic records of giving a list 43 different types. This year's new varieties will be Athlete, (a recommendation by Bill's Allotments 2 Plots of Heaven) Rudolph and British Queen. At the garden centre we thought Premiere would be new this year, but checking back we grew it back in 2012. We're also growing some Sarpo Mira this year, which doesn't appear on the list, but I can remember growing them in the past. It must have been a good few years ago.
Our Potato Varieties Over the Years
Casablanca Potatoes July 2017
We haven't tried quite as many tomato varieties, 41 if the listing below is correct but I'm sure there will be the odd omission. This year's new tomato variety will be Albenga. It's an Oxheart type originating from Northern Italy and a recommendation from Roger Brook the "No Dig Gardener". We were lucky enough to be given a couple of ripe tomatoes last year and we thought they tasted good and decided to give it a go.
Our Tomato Varieties Over the Years
Moneymaker Growing In 2011
Now I can't finish on tomatoes without mentioning our own record breaking tomato. Back in 2009 we grew some Brandywine tomatoes one of which grew to what we thought was an enormous size. We decided to make a YouTube video of this tomato being picked and sliced for sandwiches and called the video "A Monster Tomato". I know it's ten years ago now since we uploaded the video but since then it has had a staggering 206,000 views!. That's easily our most viewed video. I've added the video below just in case you are one of the few gardeners who hasn't seen it.

We now have some sharper scissors but I think the bread knife is still going strong.
Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Monday, 21 January 2019

Tale of Two Halves

The weather has certainly turned much colder. It looks like it could be a month of two halves, the first half mild, and the last two weeks much colder. I was hoping that the change to much colder weather would at least get rid of the dull and dreary weather of the first couple of weeks of the new year, but we’ve unfortunately swapped the mild temperatures for cold ones and kept the dull and dreary conditions.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-21 January 2019
We visited Potteric Carr on Friday afternoon for a walk around the nature reserve. 
It was a cold, cloudy day and any still water was still ice covered early in the afternoon.
There’d been some posts on Facebook showing some starling murmurations at the reserve. Thousands of starlings gather at the reserve and produce magical flying displays before they settle down to roost for the night.
Unfortunately for us they chose to carry out their display some distance from where we were standing but we still managed to get some photos and video of their display.