Friday, 30 September 2011

Amazingly even hotter still

Today was warmer than any day in July or August as the afternoon temperature reached 28.4°C and we need to go back to June 27th when the temperature reached for us a staggering 31.6°C for a hotter day.
It was dawn to dusk sunshine with clear blue skies all day long. Our medlars are still to be harvested and must be enjoying this spell of hot sunny weather. Will this spell last into tomorrow and set some high temperature records for October? The forecaster seem to think it’s possible.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Amazingly even hotter

Wednesday was even hotter with the temperature getting up to 26.8°C. In West Yorkshire apparently we’re not in danger of breaking any temperature records as this spell of weather has come at the end of the month. However, should this spell last into the weekend and the start of October who knows!

We decided on a walk around the RSPB reserve at Fairburn Ings in the afternoon. It was pleasant walking around the lake under the shade of the trees and just a gentle breeze blowing.
Most of the trees are still looking very green but a closer look reveals that the leaves are certainly taking on an autumnal tinge.
It's fantastic to have this superb spell of weather but we are going to have yet another dry month. We've only had 50% of the rainfall we would normally expect in September and it doesn't look as though this will change in the next couple of days. This will be our seventh month in a row with below average rainfall. On our drive to Fairburn we noticed that some of the ings were looking a little low on water and one smallish ing was nothing more than mud. More watering will be required on the plot but at least now we can concentrate on our crops that will be over wintering. We've never had a whole growing season where the crops have required regular watering throughout. We often have a dry spell but not one lasting for seven months.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Coldest and Hottest

After the coldest overnight temperature of the month on Tuesday (6.7°C) we had the hottest day of the month (24.8°C), in fact the hottest day since the 3rd August.

It wasn’t a windy day but the lawn certainly took on an autumnal look as even a gentle breeze was enough to bring leaves falling from our crab apple tree.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Club root free

Monday was a very pleasant day for late September, plenty of sunshine, mild and just a gentle breeze so it tempted us to visit the plot to do some tidying up and see what we had to harvest after our week away.

This year we grew some club root resistant cauliflowers, Clapton, after seeing how well they had done on Beechgrove Garden. We have a hit and miss affair with cauliflowers, mostly miss, so we gave Clapton a try.
These had produced some good cauliflowers, ten to be exact, throughout the first couple of weeks of August but I’d left the root in the ground after cutting the cauliflowers. In the mood for tidying up I decided to dig up the left over stumps. Normally I don’t have much of a root to dig up, but not with these.
These had a well established root system and not a trace of club root to be seen. It’s amazing how clean these roots came out of the ground. Our dry soil not clinging to the roots at all and just a few gentle taps on the fork and the bone dry soil fell from the roots.  

Monday, 26 September 2011

Dull and mild

No sunshine on Sunday until late in the afternoon. After our damp week in Wales it was a change for us to have a dry day. The rain has certainly missed our garden whilst we were away and once again it looks like yet another dry month.

The forecast for the week is better than anything we had all summer.
If this forecast is even remotely right then it doesn't seem likely we’ll get any more rain this month but we’re certainly in for a brilliant spell of weather. 

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Home from Wales

After a week on holiday in Wales we know how wet the rest of the UK can be. It rained on most of the days we were away, some days torrential other days just drizzle and certainly not much sunshine. Click on the image to read more about our trips out and my weather blog for our week in Wales.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Who’d be a weather forecaster

The sun shone all day Wednesday but made no appearance whatsoever today. The forecast was for rain in the form of showers all day. Typically for us this meant just 0.6mm of rain in one shower around 18:00. We made a visit to Rothwell around this time, travelling along the M1 motorway, which was pretty wet.
To arrive in Rothwell which is only about 10 miles from Ossett we had to negotiate two flooded sections of road. The exit slip road to the M1 motorway was flooded and the main A639 leading to Rothwell and Wakefield was also flooded. A sudden torrential downpour had left the drains unable to cope.
This was the scene in Rothwell as we arrived and typical of the conditions on the motorway slip road and A639 into the town. I’m guessing that Rothwell just a few miles from Ossett had more than our 0.6mm of rain.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Super day

The sun shone all day on Thursday and after a cold start it became warm too with just a gentle breeze. This was a September day just to let us know how nice September days can be.
We made the most of the weather to cut the grass and do a little bit of harvesting on the plot.
We’ve now picked all our apples and it won’t be long before our raspberries, blackberries and strawberries produce their final fruits of the season. 
Our apples are not typical supermarket size and they certainly aren't blemish free but their flavour more than makes up for these imperfections. 

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pepper picking

After the last two very windy days it was nice to have a much calmer day. The temperatures were just about normal for the time of year but we had intermittent showers through the morning and early afternoon spoiling an otherwise pleasant day.
In our home greenhouse our Jimmy Nardello’s peppers had plenty of ripe fruits on them so these were harvested and frozen. There’s still plenty of fruit on them which hopefully will have time to turn but will be used green before the conditions in the greenhouse become too damp turning the fruits mouldy. Our cherry tomatoes Tumbling Tom Red have decided to ripen at last. Normally this variety has been one of our first tomatoes to turn but not this year. Perhaps the position in the greenhouse hasn't been to their liking. The plants have grown really well but the tomatoes have remained stubbornly green until now. 

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Gales and drought not preferred

It was another windy day on Tuesday, with the highest gust speed of the last couple of days reserved for the early hours of this morning. Like yesterday it was pretty mild once again with plenty of sunny spells but the wind remained strong throughout the day although not as bad as Monday.

We visited the plot in the afternoon to see exactly what damage, if any, the wind had done. Certainly the plot looks worse for wear now as the long dry spell and two days of gale force winds take effect.

It was a surprise to discover that our quinces were still on the tree, although the tree has developed a lean and the leaves look a little yellow due the wind, dryness and of course the approach of autumn.

Our runner beans had a rather drunken lean to them as well but at least they are still upright and hopefully will produce some more beans before the end of the season.

We also managed to do some planting and our winter brassica bed is now fully planted up with a mixture of bought in plants and home grown plants. Details of our planting today can be found here.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Remnants of Hurricane Katia arrive

What was left of Hurricane Katia arrived today. Our little bit of rain fell in the early hours of the morning before the gale arrived. The early part of the morning wasn't too bad but the wind soon picked up to gale force and remained strong throughout the day. It was mild despite the gale force winds. It was our windiest day since the 22nd May.
From inside the house it had the appearance of a nice day as there was plenty of sunshine. The noise from the wind gave the game away and looking more carefully outside bamboo canes took on an almost horizontal position as their tops were blown about in the stronger gusts of wind. The birds too had problems hanging onto the feeders as they blew wildly about. It will be interesting to see if our runner bean wigwams have stood up to the gales. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Mild and breezy

Sunday was mild again, although not up to yesterday’s temperature, but  managing a pleasant 18°C. Once again it was a mostly overcast day but it stayed dry all day.

As we’re still on chicken duty we visited the plot to do some harvesting as well as providing the chickens with some fresh water.
It was another bumper harvesting session. Almost all our apples are harvested, just a few remaining to be picked. We’re still trying to decide on the best way to store our apples in both the short and medium terms.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Lull before the storm

Saturday turned out to be the warmest day of the month with the temperature managing 24°C. In fact it’s our warmest day since the 3rd August when we managed 26.8°C. It was a dull start to the day with a little light drizzle mid morning before brightening up. Despite the temperature it was a mostly overcast day with just a few sunny spells.  We took advantage of the fine weather with a walk around Walton Nature Reserve.
The forecasts for early next week are that we will be having strong to gale force winds courtesy of hurricane Katia. By the time it has crossed the Atlantic Ocean it will be an ex-hurricane having lost some of its strength travelling across the cold Atlantic. Our forecast at the moment is for very windy weather on Monday and Tuesday with the worst of the winds expected on Tuesday afternoon.
Click here to read the full article in the Mail Online.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Spring Onions - at last

A surprising mild day with some sunshine. Just a shower of rain early in the morning and then dry for the rest of the day.

We have developed a problem growing spring onions. The term successional sowing is irrelevant for us as we’re lucky to get our first crop to produce any decent onions by autumn. This year our plot sown spring onions were a disaster probably because they didn't get watered often enough. To try to get round this we decided to sow some spring onions at home where they could get a little more attention. 
Sown at the beginning of July these onions looked like they were ready for using especially these Crimson Forest ones. The bunching onions just visible behind are still much smaller. 
Disappointingly small when they were pulled out of the tub. This may be due to my rather thick sowing of the seed. It will be interesting to see how the onions develop over the next few weeks.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Cornless - well almost

Thursday was a better day than the last few days but nothing special. The rain that we had, fell overnight and early morning. It brightened up as the day went along and felt mild but there was always the threat of more rain from some dark ominous clouds that were about all day. 
We picked our first two sweet corn cobs this week and although the tassels were a golden brown the corn in one of the cobs wasn't ripe and the other contained a rather disappointing amount of kernels. 
We seem to have waited forever this summer for our sweet corn to produce any ripe cobs. I think we can blame the cool and very dry conditions again for a poor crop from what is normally one of our banker vegetables. I've had a look back at last year’s sweet corn crop and by this time last year the same varieties had yielded 66 cobs and as far as I can remember they were all well filled and ripe.
This is our sweet corn harvested on 5th September last year. It's a far cry from the two cobs harvested so far this year. Certainly the seeds were sown at similar dates in both years. Unfortunately this year's crop has suffered from both lack of rain and cool temperatures. At least our runner beans are now in full production giving us masses of beans which we are freezing to make up for our sweet corn failure.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

More showers but less windy

Wednesday was another showery and blustery day. We didn't see much sunshine either and whilst we didn’t end up with a large amount of rainfall it somehow felt like a wet day.
We needed to pick some fresh vegetables and as mentioned previously we are helping to look after our neighbours chickens so we visited the plot in the afternoon. It was a case of picking quickly and dodging the frequent showers in the dryness of the shed. Our apples and pears are ripe and some were picked yesterday, the remainder left for a dryer day.  
These are pears (Invincible), and apples Fiesta and Golden Delicious. All taste really good and the Golden Delicious taste nothing like those bought in the supermarket.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Autumn’s here

It was a miserable day with a strong to gale force wind blowing all day. The temperature managed around 17°C which I suppose isn't too bad but the wind took the edge of the temperature. We had a scattering of showers throughout the day. 
Once again we decided to wait for better weather to visit the plot, although as we’re on part time chicken duties this week we will have to visit on Wednesday in any case whatever the weather. Our plot neighbour is on holiday and we are helping to look after his chickens.

In one of the calmer spells of weather I decided to harvest some of our cooking apples before they were blown off the tree and bruised.
These apples which we think are Peasgood Nonsuch cook really well and have grown to a good size. I didn’t manage to pick all the apples before it started to rain again. Most of the apples were in excellent condition although a few had been damaged by the pesky codling moth.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Easy decision

It was a dull showery morning and it was an easy decision to give the plot a miss on Monday. It seems ages since we had anything like a wet morning but a few reasonably heavy showers late morning and into the early afternoon gave the impression of a wet day. It was a cold morning too with the temperature struggling to just 13°C by lunchtime.
Altogether we had 4.8mm of rain to get our September total up and running. The newly planted out brassicas on the plot will manage for a few days without any watering. The forecast for the week ahead isn't too good with lots of windy weather forecast.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Being watched

Sunday was a dull, cloudy but mild day although it did brighten up late afternoon to give a bright and sunny end to the day.

I picked some tomatoes from our home greenhouse to cook to make tomato sauce for using in warming winter dishes.
I was well aware that as I picked the tomatoes I was being watched by this pretty large garden spider perched on the greenhouse roof. I think she might have got a little upset if I’d spoilt her carefully constructed web amongst the tomato foliage.

I’ve done a little more analysis on the weather comparison between The Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh and my weather station in Ossett. The graph shows the daily maximum and minimum temperatures and the daily rainfall total at both sites. Whilst Ossett has recorded slightly higher daytime temperatures the minimum temperatures are quite similar. The difference in rainfall  is astonishing.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Confusion wet or dry?

September has started pleasantly mild and for us like the months before it is dry. Some reports I've seen suggest August was a wet month and I've no doubt that in some places it was. Here the whole of spring and summer has been very dry and we are awaiting some autumn rains to replenish the dry soil. At least now, once watered, the ground stays damper. I've produced some charts showing the different conditions recorded between Ossett and Edinburgh throughout 2011. I've used Edinburgh because the figures are readily available from Edinburgh Royal Botanical Gardens.
The same theme continued for August with Ossett experiencing higher maximum temperatures but with little to choose between the two minimums.
Edinburgh wins hands down again this month on rainfall receiving more rain in August (149.6mm) than Ossett managed in the last 6 months (134.9mm).

We wait to see what September has in store for us.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Two in a row

Friday was another sunny and mild day so we made the most of the weather to do some more harvesting, planting and clearing on the plot.
After a slow start our runner beans are now prolific. The plums from our broken section of plum tree have ripened well and are being picked and frozen. 
Our three old strawberry beds are now cleared although the middle one of the three still needs digging. Despite the return of summer for the last couple of days the plot is certainly in autumn mode now.

Friday, 2 September 2011

A taste of summer

Not sure the forecasters got this one right but it was just like a summer’s day. Plenty of long sunny spells and the temperature just nudging 20°C.

I decided it was time to transplant our cauliflower plants received from Marshalls a few weeks ago which have been carefully nurtured at home in an attempt to revive the plants. 
A number of the plants were in much better condition, but were very leggy and have been planted very deep to try to overcome this. This is fine if you have a fantastic depth of top soil but on our plot digging a deep hole soon reveals the rather clayey sub soil. However there were some seedlings which I didn't consider planting out.
This leggy specimen had refused to produce any new leaves at all and as it had no centre it was never going to produce a cauliflower. I finished up with four plants that were consigned to the compost heap. I don’t want to spend lots of my time looking after plants that are never going to produce a crop. I’m still amazed that Marshalls think these were good quality plants.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

End of summer

The dull and cool weather continued yet again on Thursday. Meteorologically speaking it’s the end of summer although there’s a good argument for suggesting it never really arrived. Unlike most of the country our extremely dry spring was followed by a dry summer. In the last 6 months we've received just 46% of our normal rainfall. But that doesn't mean we've had a glorious summer. August has been cool and cloudy after a promising start. That sums up our summer, one good day here and there or perhaps a nice morning or afternoon but no spell of prolonged summer weather.
Our pergola is in need of a major overall just another one of those projects on the go. It’s completely overgrown so I've started hacking back the vegetation. The aim is to save the wisteria, clematis and honeysuckles growing on the pergola. It’s going to be quite a task!