Saturday, 31 October 2015

Sunny and Mild

Friday started off like the last couple of days very dull and wet. Then just after lunch time the clouds dispersed, the sun came out, and the temperature lifted to 17.8° C or 64.0°F. The mild sunny weather tempted me out into the garden. There wasn't much I could do as the ground was wet and very squishy and squelchy.
After a dry spell of weather it’s been a rather wet week with 16.8mm (0.66") of rainfall and whilst that’s not a great amount it’s easy to forget that in October things don’t dry up as quickly as they do in summer. Especially with a few damp and dreary days thrown in for good measure.

As it was reasonably mild I decided to give our bird feeders a good clean out before winter really sets in. Too much wet weather seems to make the feeders a bit gunged up where the seed is dispensed. Hopefully they will be alright to last over winter now.
It’s now back to the time of year where the best of our bird photography is done from the comfort of the house watching the birds come and go to the feeders. Our little wren wasn’t a bad start.

Friday, 30 October 2015

A Miserable End to October

Wednesday and Thursday were dull and wet, failing to record any sunshine at all. My weather station has recorded 15.8mm (0.62”) of rainfall without a 24 hour spell of dry weather up to 10:30 am on Friday morning.
Temperature and Rainfall from Wednesday 28 through to Friday (10:30am) 30 October 2015
Friday is not starting off a great deal better although the heaviest of the rain should be past now with showers to follow.
We’ve not had an enormous amount of rainfall it’s just made everything rather wet and soggy.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Six Years of Weather Blogs and Some Harvesting

It's my blog's sixth birthday today well on the 27 October. The weather on Tuesday wasn't very good for its birthday in fact it was much like it was six years ago when it was damp and cloudy all day.

For the record here is a table of the highs and lows, wettest and driest days and months of the last six years.
Although the weather wasn't very nice we needed to make a visit to the allotment for some fresh vegetables. It had been ten days since our last visit. Although it hadn't actually rained it was a welly day as the grass was soaking wet.
We managed a decent harvest considering it's almost November. 
Our lettuces are managing to survive the damp conditions and cold nights which is surprising as they're not winter varieties. I thought it was about time to check out our parsnips and see if they had grown some reasonable sized roots. The first couple of roots were very disappointing with only a very small parsnip appearing out of the ground. I then came to one parsnip which I couldn't get out with my fork. The soil was dry and the root was very deep. In the end I had to use a spade to get the parsnip out of the ground without doing too much damage. Having dug a few more roots I am reasonably satisfied with the general size. They should keep us supplied well into winter. I think the flavour will be even better once they have had a frost. 
A complete list of our harvest can be found here. You may need to navigate down the page to the 27 October as this page lists all our harvests in October.

Monday, 26 October 2015

A Decent Weekend after a Wet Start

I don't suppose it's been too bad a weekend for the end of October. After some morning rain on Saturday it brightened up in the afternoon. Sunday was bright for most of the day but chilly finishing with an average daily temperature of 8.0°C (46.4°F) the lowest this autumn. 

We didn't manage a trip to the plot this weekend. However we are still managing to harvest a few salad leaves from our raised bed in the cold frame courtyard.
I have cheated a bit in the photograph as those Sungold tomatoes were picked last weekend from outside on the plot. I have been really impressed with our Sungold tomatoes grown outside this year. We picked our first outdoor ones on 11 August and they’ve provided us with a steady supply through to the end of October.
I checked through our apples and quinces stored in the summer house on Sunday afternoon. Luckily I only found one small Golden Delicious apple starting to turn mouldy. Our bowl of apples consists of Golden Delicious, Egremont Russet and Fiesta.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Wet and Windy

Wednesday saw the breakdown of our settled spell of weather. The early hours of Wednesday morning were wet with 8.8 mm (0.35”) of rainfall. The remainder of the day was dull and breezy.

Thursday on the other hand was dry but windy with the strongest gusts of the month. The recent spell of settled weather has been lovely and calm. A couple of breezy days has certainly brought lots of autumn leaves down from the trees.
Temperature, Rainfall and Hi Wind Speeds Wednesday 21 - Friday 23 October 2015
In the early hours of Friday morning the temperature fell to 2.3°C (36.1°F) our coldest temperature of autumn so far and unsurprisingly Friday finished with the coldest average daily temperature for the month of 8.2°C or 46.8°F.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Carrot Trials

Tuesday was another nice late autumn day with plenty of sunny spells and dry.

I blogged yesterday about harvesting carrots and I've called this post carrot trials. I'm not referring to trials in the sense of testing different varieties but in the problems we've had growing any carrots at all this year.
First sowing 21 April 2015
The tale begins back in late April this year when we sowed our main crop carrots. Things started off well enough and after a couple of weeks our young seedlings emerged and we thought things were going well. 
Good germination on 15 May 2015
However by late May all our seedlings had mysteriously disappeared. We put this down to slugs and unperturbed decided to re-sow more carrot seeds in the same place. As you may be aware we had exactly the same problem and after germinating all our seedlings disappeared once again.
No seedlings left by 26 May 2015
We were tempted to give up on carrots this year. By this time it was towards the end of June but I remembered that we once sowed carrots in the beginning of July in an attempt to avoid carrot fly. I seem to remember it didn’t work. That was before we discovered environmesh. Anyway we decided to have one more attempt at sowing which we did in a different part of the plot on 26 June. These germinated well and avoided any damage by slugs. The veggie mesh was laid over the soil rather than constructing a tent. These are the carrots we harvested on Saturday.
Our Third attempt took place on 26 June 2015
Carrots on  17 October 2015 when veggie mesh removed
The soil for growing carrots probably wasn't ideal for them. It was too firm and stony but that was down to the dry weather making soil preparation difficult. The result is the carrots have forked. Some carrots have also split which is probably down to irregular rainfall and my irregular watering regime.
Still the carrots we have managed to use have been very tasty. The fact that they've forked isn't really too much of an issue they just take a little more preparation time for the pan.
Definitely not our best carrot growing year.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

At Last Some Sunshine for Our Late Veggies

We were treated to some long sunny spells on Monday. It made a welcome change from the dull and dreary weather of the last week. It was a little bit milder too as in the afternoon sunshine the temperature managed to reach 14.2°C or 57.6°F

In the middle of summer we had a rather long spell of dry weather. It meant planting in the plot was almost impossible. The ground resembled concrete and planting and sowing were delayed for a few weeks until some rain arrived. Eventually some brassicas and peas Onward joined our late sown carrots Early Nantes. In another vacant part of the plot we planted a few lettuce plants. These were a mixture of Tom Thumb, Red Fire and Little Gem.
To be honest we didn't really expect to harvest anything from these late sowings. To date we've managed to harvest one small head of calabrese Monclano a few small carrots and our lettuces are doing a good job of supplying some tasty leaves for salads and sandwiches. I think our peas are on borrowed time. They have flowered and produced a few small pods. We'll need some good weather for them to produce some peas.
Still it seems that sowing and planting past the recommended dates might keep us supplied with some fresh produce for a few more weeks especially if we avoid any night-time frosts.

For the record here’s the listing of our late sowing and planting times.

Monday, 19 October 2015

A Dull and Dreary Weekend

The miserable weather continued through the weekend. My weather station managed to record only 30 minutes of sunshine all weekend. The last seven days have resulted in a miserly three hours of sunshine.
Sunshine hours are recorded under BS Hours
The weather didn't stop us making the trip to the plot on Saturday. We changed our minds about harvesting a couple of quinces as a test. The fruit looked a nice golden colour so we decided to take the plunge and pick all the fruit on the tree. These have now joined our apples stored in the summerhouse. There's a few quinces that need to be used quickly and I'll make apple and quince crumble as soon as I can with them.
On Sunday we had a trip over to Lancashire to visit the East Lancashire Railway’s autumn gala. The weather there wasn't any better. It was misty over the top of the Pennines on the way to the gala.
Once there the weather wasn’t any different to home with heavy cloud and occasional light drizzle. It didn't really spoil our day but it wasn't a day for standing about waiting for trains. We kept on the move.
The steam locomotives seemed to want to add to the damp and misty weather by departing stations hidden in clouds of their own making.
Hopefully we will see a little bit more sunshine next week.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Settled but Naff

The weather has been settled for the last three days but the problem is it's not been good settled.
Looking at the chart for the last three days we had a short spell of sunshine around lunchtime on Wednesday since then virtually no sunshine. Friday has been dullest of the three days hardly getting light all day with the temperature only managing a high of 11.4°C or 52.5°F. On Thursday and Friday my weather station recorded a very small amount of rainfall on each day. The time  indicated on the chart doesn't actually refer to when the rain fell it's when the drizzle which fell off and on through the day amounted to 0.2mm (0.01”) the smallest amount my weather station records.

With the temperature around 10°C (50°F) mark and damp it's not been gardening sort of weather. We could do to visit the plot over the weekend to harvest a few fresh vegetables and do a little more tidying up. 
We also need to decide if I want quinces are ready to pick. Last year we had a couple of testers on 1 October and then picked the remaining quinces on 8 October so obviously this year we are at bit later. Perhaps we need to do a test this weekend to check for ripeness.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Apple Harvest

After a chilly start it never really warmed up on Monday. We had some short sunny spells and it felt pleasant in the sunshine and light wind. Out of the sunshine it felt a little bit on the chilly side. In the end the temperature didn't get higher than 12.8° C. That's our lowest daytime temperature since the beginning of May this year. The average for the day was 8.3°C the lowest since the 02 May this year. 

Tuesday was more or less a repeat but with less sunshine and a bit less chilly over night. 
Temperature and Solar Radiation Records from Monday 12 Oct to Wednesday (am) 14 October 2015
Over the last weekend we finished harvesting our apple crop. Well into summer I didn't think we were going to have very many apples. Having finished picking our crop I will have to change my mind as we've done very well. 
As you can see from the table we have harvested seven different varieties of apples. I think my favourite tasting apple is Egremont Russet. For a small tree it’s managed to produce almost 11 kg or 24lbs of apples. Fiesta another small tree produced more or less the same amount.
Egremont Russett
When we took on the renovation of this plot we knew it had a row of cordon apples which we now refer to as our apple hedge. The trees are old and I think most gardening experts would reckon that they needed replacing. We can’t bring ourselves to do that and the trees are “pruned” in early autumn and left to do their own thing after that. They do get the treat of a codling moth trap hung amongst their branches.

In the table above we think our apple hedge includes Discovery, Golden Delicious and Worcester Pearmain. This year we’ve harvested 23.5kg (52.0lbs) with Golden Delicious producing the heaviest crop this year. 

At the moment most of our apples are stored in the summer house. They’ll need checking on a regular basis and any apples showing signs of deterioration will have to be removed and used quickly or discarded. 
I’d like to improve the air circulation around them a bit so I’m thinking of using some small pieces of timber to increase the spacing between the boxes. We haven’t the space to store the apples so that they’re not touching which would be ideal but as that’s not possible it does mean inspecting them more often.

We've already eaten lots of our Bramley apples in blackberry and apple crumbles. It will be interesting to see how long our eating apples will store in the summer house. They may need a bit of extra protection if any frosts are threatened.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Coldest So Far

It was a dry weekend with Sunday turning out to be much sunnier than Saturday. Midday temperature were around average for the middle of October.

Early Monday morning has seen our coldest autumn temperature so far with the thermometer falling to 3.2°C or 37.8°F.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

White Cloud

Friday turned out to be another lovely autumn day. Again it was a cool start to the day but even though it was less sunny than yesterday it didn't feel too bad in any afternoon sunshine.

I've written a few blog posts about plants attempting a second crop. These have included pears, grapes and figs. None of these attempts at second crops have succeeded. 
Rose -  White Cloud - 01 June 2015
While it's not a true second crop our rose White Cloud still has flower buds to come. It was in flower on the 01 June this year as you can see from the picture above. A few weeks ago I'm sure that there were no signs of any flowers to come and I thought flowering had finished for the year but I was wrong.
Today we have a couple of flowers out and plenty of buds. It's just a question of how long the weather will remain decent before the buds begin to rot rather than open. Still we can't complain when we have flowers at the beginning of October.

The forecast at the moment seems to be for high pressure to be in charge, possibly for the next couple of weeks, resulting in dry weather but with some pretty chilly nights.

Friday, 9 October 2015

A Final Strim

After a rather wet few days Thursday turned out much better with some long sunny spells. After a chilly night it took a while for the temperature to warm up a bit. With only a light wind it felt pleasant in the afternoon sunshine.

We had planned a trip to the plot in the afternoon. It has been a few weeks since the grass was strimmed. It was desperately in need of another trim.
There is definitely a look of autumn on the plot now. The leaves from the plum trees have turned yellow and are now falling to the ground. It’s only a couple of weeks ago that we were harvesting plums.
In the middle of the afternoon there were some very dark clouds over the motorway. It looked for a time that we might get a heavy shower but luckily the rain stayed away.
It took me most of the afternoon to finish strimming the plot. I still need to do the edges of the beds but I will do them over the next few visits.  
I’m wondering if this will be the last time I need to cut the grass this year. Perhaps just one more time.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Turned Out Wet

The weather has certainly changed although I’m not sure now it’s for the better. Tuesday for most of the day was rather mild and muggy after a little bit of over night and early morning rain. Around lunch time the sun attempted to break through the cloud but the clouds won.

Our peppers and aubergines haven’t really enjoyed the last month of cold nights in the greenhouse and so we decided to pick the lot as some were starting to rot.
The remaining tomatoes were picked so the greenhouse is now cleared of its summer crops. As we finished clearing away the sky darkened threatening some heavy rain. It didn’t arrive until early evening along with some thunder.
A rate of 80 mm/hr will give us October’s average rainfall in 30 minutes. Fortunately it didn’t last too long and the day’s total came to 16.0mm (0.63”) our second wettest October day I’ve recorded. The wettest was 03 October 2010 with 17.4mm or 0.69”.

We’ve more heavy rain forecast for Wednesday.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Change at Last

The weather continued in the pattern of coolish nights, foggy mornings and afternoon sun through the weekend eventually breaking down on Monday. Monday turned out cloudy and mild with rain on and off all day but not really amounting to much.

We’d been away for a couple of days to visit the late Geoff Hamilton’s garden, Barnsdale in Rutland and a visit to the Great Central Railway Gala on Saturday. I’d had some doubts about visiting Barnsdale Gardens so late in the season. I thought most of the flowering plants would be finished and any allotment areas would be well past their best by the beginning of October. In the end we decided to visit in any case.
I hadn’t given a thought to the trees giving the garden its structure and that they would now be turning into their spectacular autumn colours.
It was warm and sunny as we slowly made our way around the gardens.
There were still some roses putting on a late display. It turned out to be the best of our days out as Saturday was much cooler and cloudier. Walking around the gardens I could almost hear Geoff explaining how he’d built the paths and garden furniture as well as why he’d decided to use the plants he had.

I think we might be making some return visits.

Friday, 2 October 2015

A Season of Fog Continues

Thursday saw another cool and foggy start to the day before the sun broke through in the afternoon.
All my updated weather graphs for September can be found here and the updated charts for this year here.