Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Apples Harvested

Monday never really managed to sort itself out. It started out a bit murky and later in the morning the sun did its best to break through the clouds but never really managed to accomplish the break through. We left the plot earlier than intended in the afternoon as it began to rain. It wasn't very heavy but it continued into the evening bringing the total rainfall for the month up to 9.6mm.

The forecast is for the good settled weather to come to end in the next few days with more unsettled conditions spreading in from the west bringing rain and winds. It seemed it might be a good day to harvest the remaining apples.  We picked our first few Discovery apples on 05 August and we've harvested various varieties regularly since then.
Most of the apples left for picking were on our apple hedge. We don’t know for certain any of the varieties that make up the hedge but we've named them all as best we can. Unusually this year we've a crop from our “Worcester Permain”. Normally we only get one or two apples from this tree but for some reason its done extremely well this year producing a good crop of good sized apples. It’s an excellent dessert apple. 
We also had a good crop from Egremont Russet which is my favourite apple. We know this variety for certain as we planted this tree a few years ago now in 2008.
As you can see this year’s crop was pretty good with some fairly large sized eating apples.
All the slightly damaged apples will be sorted and used up quickly in apple crumble or frozen to use through winter. The rest will be stored in the fridge in the garage where they will keep in good condition for a few weeks.

Perhaps it’s time to bring the “Crown Prince” squashes home before the weather turns for the worse?

I've finished editing part one of my video of our visit to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway covering Friday 26 September. There’s plenty of smoke, steam and some stunning Yorkshire Moors scenery too. Click here for the video link.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Smoke and Steam on the North Yorkshire Moors

The last few days haven’t been too bad for the end of September. Certainly Friday was the best of the days with some long sunny spells and early morning on Sunday was the coldest with the temperature falling to 4.4°C.

We spent a couple of days filming and photographing on the North Yorkshire Moors around the railway’s autumn steam gala which is held usually over three days every September. On these occasions I normally do the filming and the photography is down to Sue. That includes any pictures of steam locomotives. 
This shot is taken high on the moors overlooking Whitby and the North Sea beyond. It’s possible to make out the remains of Whitby Abbey perched on the top of the cliffs. Of course I can never be sure that Sue’s camera is trained on the steam locomotives and I'm never disappointed with the variety of pictures from one of our expeditions.
We just happened to park the car by the gate to where this beast was kept. I'm not sure that’s a pleased to see you look. But beasts of a different sort were on the main agenda and this picture of 45428 Eric Treacy (named after a Bishop of Wakefield who was a keen steam train photographer), with the dining train The Pickering Pullman, was taken at Goathland station.
We had an afternoon walk from Goathland station to Darnholme, a lovely spot on the railway for taking photographs. It’s a rather steep walk in places but the scenery is well worth the effort. This picture doesn't do justice to the steps which Sue will confirm have individual rises of half a metre.
The railway shots aren’t bad either as the locomotives have to work hard on the climb from Beck Hole to Goathland.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Our Pear Tree Thinks It’s a Fig

Wednesday wasn't too bad a day with some decent sunny spells although there were a few rather threatening clouds about at times.
Our pear tree Invincible had lots of flowers in spring as this photo taken on 18 April shows.
By the middle of May things looked to be shaping up for a good crop of pears. Lots of the flowers seemed to have set fruit so we were hopeful of a good crop.
But as I’m sure all gardener’s are aware, you can never count on anything until it’s harvested and even then there might be other issues. Anyway these fruits never got much bigger than in the picture before they all parted company with the tree. Since the middle of May the tree has produced a few flowers at varying times through summer. Unfortunately these flowers haven’t gone on to produce full size pears but at the moment we have two generations of pears on this little tree.
We have three or four fruits that are the size of mini pears. As you can see this one isn't much bigger than the leaves on the tree. Then there’s another generation of fruit on the tree from some later flowers.
The only other fruit tree I can remember seeing with different generations of fruit is a fig tree. I suppose I should remove these fruits from the tree as they are never going to have a chance of forming full size fruits. Then again I've never been any good at thinning out tree fruit so I’ll probably wait for them to fall off naturally.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Finding Autumn Onions

Early Tuesday morning was the coolest of the cool starts this month with the temperature down to 5.7°C. Another bright sunny morning soon warmed it up a bit but by early afternoon it clouded over eventually turning into a damp murky late afternoon and evening. We even managed a bit of light drizzle adding 0.6mm of rainfall to this month's miserly total of 8.2mm.
We spent a large chunk of the afternoon visiting nearly all our local garden centres in our bid to buy some autumn onions and garlic. On the Internet from the mainstream gardening companies there’s always a good selection of onions and garlic. Unfortunately there seems to be no control about the dispatch dates for these onions and a couple of years ago it was the middle of October before our order arrived. It was far too late for us and the onions never had a chance to grow. Winter arrived as they were planted and the tiny sets never made any attempt to grow and just rotted away over winter.

We decided then that we’d be better off buying locally and planting in September rather than October. This does however mean a very limited choice of varieties to grow. This was our collection after visiting eight garden centres. The larger establishments are now preparing for Christmas and garden products take a back seat, how sad is that, with only another 91 days to go, whilst the smaller ones have a red and brown onion variety to choose from. 

Still we had this problem last year and we are only just finishing the last of last year’s autumn onions so even though we had a limited choice we did actually have a crop of onions. It’s tempting to go back online for a better choice but with a possibility of no crop due to late delivery of sets  I think we’ll stick with the limited choice offered by our local garden centres.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Concrete Soil!

Monday was a super September day. With clear blue skies in the morning. It warmed up nicely from an early morning low of 6.1°C to a pleasant 19.7°C in the afternoon.
Woody took up his morning spot at the top of the weather station pole, against a clear blue sky, to survey the garden and see what was on offer.

I decided it was time to prepare a bed on the plot for planting our autumn onion sets. I knew it was going to be a bit tricky as after three weeks of dry weather the soil doesn't break down easily into a fine tilth. The bed had grown a summer potato crop and had been dug over as the potatoes were lifted so it was a soil preparation job only.
After some cultivating, incorporating some fertiliser and much raking the soil eventually looked like this. It should be suitable for planting our onion sets in. There is a but coming though. Look carefully in the foreground and you will see the soil raked to one end of the bed which consists of gravel size lumps of soil that have the consistency of concrete and weren't going to break up into a suitable state.   
Then there were these lumps of soil. A couple of barrowfulls of rock hard soil were picked up and moved to another part of the plot. These can be whacked with the back of a spade and very little damage done. I'm hoping some rain and frost will break these down over winter and convert them back into soil for next spring.
The bed was finally covered with weed control fabric and a layer of manure laid on the top of this to keep it in place. All we need now are the onion sets for planting.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Poised for a Dry Calm Month?

Sunday was much brighter than the last few days although it clouded over around lunchtime for a while. A couple of coolish nights with the temperature falling to 6.9°C and 6.1°C are a reminder that autumn’s here.

After a wet, windy and cold August, September has so far turned out dry, calm and mild in comparison.
At the moment September is in line to be one of the driest months of the last five years but of course it will only take one wet day in the remaining week or so to change things around.

There’s also the possibility of September joining June 2011 as the only month in the last 5 years when we haven’t had a gust of wind over 15mph. 

After a colder than average August when the average temperature for the month ended up at 15.1°C, the average for September (up to midnight on 21 September) was 14.9°C very little difference to August. September’s temperature is around the expected value but does go to show what a cool month August was.

The forecast for the rest  of the month seems rather similar with high pressure remaining in charge of the weather. The real test for the forecasters is to accurately predict when we can expect a change in the current weather pattern. 

Updated weather charts to the 21 September can be found here.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Sunshine Please

Saturday was a dull and miserable day. It wasn’t particularly cold for mid to late September with an afternoon temperature of  16.4°C. My weather station has recorded only 36 minutes of sunshine for the whole of the last four days.

Sunday has started much brighter if a little cooler.
White Cloud
I've noticed that BBC Autumnwatch will be coming from RSPB Leighton Moss this year. Having quickly looked at the picture taken at the reserve on Friday this cheeky little robin is probably going to be one of the best.
He or she popped out of the hedgerow and perched on a gate we were going through. It wasn't in a rush to head for cover and I think it expected a few meal worms in return for the pose. Unfortunately it was out of luck. Just in case you were wondering it did have two legs.  
It’s back to the allotment today to see if we can prepare some ground for planting some winter onions. With virtually no rainfall this month our soil is very dry and not easily broken down into a fine tilth for planting. Then a trip to the local garden centre for some onion sets.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Over the Border

We decided to head over the border into Lancashire for a couple of days. The weather forecast suggested that west might be best. The plan was to visit the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust centre at Martin Mere, then spend Thursday night in Lancaster  before heading into Cumbria for a little bit of steam train photography on Friday morning and to spend the rest of the day visiting the RSPB reserve at Leighton Moss.
The centre at Martin Mere is very similar to their Slimbridge centre which we had visited in spring. The opportunities for photos of ducks, geese and swans are fantastic.
After a very enjoyable visit to Martin Mere, Friday morning saw us make a short trip up the M6 into Cumbria near Beckfoot to photograph a steam locomotive, Number 61994 The Great Marquess, hauling “The West Highlander” up to the west Coast of Scotland on a four day tour.
I left the photography to Sue while I tried my hand at a little bit of video. 
The horses didn't mind all the other trains on the west coast main line but weren't too happy about a steam locomotive passing by. It was then back down the M6 to RSPB Leighton Moss.
It was a lovely mild September afternoon as we made our way around the reserve visiting most of the reserve’s hides. Some have views out towards Morecambe Bay.
As we headed back over the Pennines on the M62 motorway it was very misty and murky over the tops and back into West Yorkshire.
Judging from my weather station output I think we probably had better weather than if we’d stayed at home. Was the trip successful? My camera certainly thinks so with 1465 photos downloaded and some video too. I might be some time editing that lot.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

In a Knot

After another very dull and murky morning the sun came out early in the afternoon making it a lovely sunny afternoon with the temperature reaching 20.5°C.

I have no idea why I noticed this on the plot today but I did. One of our grapevines on the plot is Boskoop Glory and it’s trained on canes to grow along the side of our shed. 
This is how we tie it to the cane to allow the vine to grow horizontally along the shed. 
This is how the vine does it with a knot all of its own. Isn't that a lovely tidy knot. 

I was thinking today it was a good job I hadn't stopped our Sungold tomato or we would have run out of its sweet juicy tomatoes by now. It’s happily continuing to produce tomatoes with its flowers and fruits pressed up against the greenhouse roof. As I was looking at a well known Supermarkets web site for the price of fruit and vegetables I was pretty amazed to find that they were selling a super, extra special sweet variety of tomato. It wasn't Sungold and in fact it wasn't one I've heard of but it won’t be able to beat Sungold for taste. The price for these super special tomatoes - an amazing £9.72 per kg. 
Hidden under a few salad leaves are some Sungold I picked for lunchtime today. These few weighed in at a little over 100gms or valued at £1.00 by this particular supermarket. It values our seasons crop of Sungold at £30.60.

Our photos of our visit to Formby and “Red Squirrel Walk” are finished and can be viewed online here. There’s also a video of the red squirrels here.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary http://ossettweather.blogspot.co.uk/ author M Garrett

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Mundane but Necessary

Monday turned out a little bit sunnier than forecast with some hazy autumn sunshine from time to time. The forecast for the rest of the week remains much the same.

I must admit I'm not very good at looking after our two small lawns. Apart from getting cut as necessary that’s about all the loving care and attention they get. I thought it was about time I made an effort to improve things a little. It’s not that they look too bad but they could certainly be improved.
I've started the process by aerating the lawn. There seems to be a little bit of doubt, depending on which Internet article you read, as to whether the holes made with my aerating machine, a giant fork with hollow tines, should be filled in or not. I've chosen the easy option not to fill them in. I think I should have made a few more holes than I did but it doesn't come natural to me to make lots of holes in the lawn to improve its condition. The process is supposed to let stale carbon dioxide out of the soil and fresh oxygen in.
The next confusion is what to do with all the pieces of lawn that come out of the aerating fork as you work around the lawn. I just tested out my hollow tined fork on one of our small lawns so it was a quick job to pick up the tubes of soil removed. Some suggestions are that these can be left on the surface to dry out then the next time the lawn is cut the dry soil will be broken up and distributed back over the lawn. I think I’ll add our bits of grass and soil to the compost heap.

We did manage a little bit of harvesting with the produce having a bit of an exotic air about it.
A few bit size mini kiwis “Issai” to start with and from the greenhouse, one large orange pepper “Orange Bell”, an aubergine “Jackpot” and some grapes “Himrod”. A couple of large yellow tomatoes, Amish Gold had split but the damage was only skin deep and together with the aubergine and pepper made an excellent pasta sauce.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Falling Apart

Sunday made it three days in a row without any sunshine. That lovely sunny start to September hasn't continued for us although the conditions still remain settled.

The forecast for the next few days doesn't offer much hope for any sunshine either.
Looking at the facts and figure half way through the month it’s not been as warm a month as I seem to imagine. Whilst 2013 was cooler, 2010, 2011 and 2012 had higher average temperatures at this stage of the month.

Some more sunshine would be nice though even if it meant a few more coolish nights.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Turned Out Well

Friday and Saturday were much duller than the last few days and correspondingly a little cooler with the lack of sunshine.

On Saturday we had a train trip to North Wales. Initially I’d planned the trip as it included an optional trip on the Ffestiniog Railway through the Welsh mountains. Unfortunately we hadn't booked early enough and couldn't get tickets for the steam train ride and so decided to spend our afternoon at Betws-y-Coed which was an alternative destination.
As it turned out no-one got their ride on the Ffestiniog Railway as our charter train to Wales was delayed by more than an hour due to the failure of a swing bridge near Selby. Although we caught the train in Wakefield, its full journey was from Hull to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Despite making up all but about 15 minutes on the trip to Wales, our train missed its slot on the single track line from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog and the additional steam trip couldn't be fitted into the timetable.

We planned some walks along the banks of the rivers Llugwy and Conway which pass through the tourist village of Betws-y-Coed.
We were lucky enough to spot a heron on the river and managed to follow it along the river.
In this environment the heron was extremely well camouflaged making it difficult to spot at times as it hunted along the river banks.
Occasionally it broke cover giving us a better view as it kept a close eye on exactly how close we were getting. 
Then finally it decided it had had enough of being stalked by us and took flight and disappeared off down the river leaving us to continue our walk along the river before returning to Betws-y-Coed.