Monday, 29 February 2016

Trust Winter to Start Now

It’s only because it’s a Leap Year that it isn’t the end of winter meteorologically speaking. As everybody seems to be saying it has been a very mild winter. In our part of the world it’s been due to that exceptionally mild December, followed by a bit above average January and an around average February. The result is one of the mildest winters on record.
The little chart above shows the temperatures for Ossett for the winter months. The bright green line indicates the average temperature for this winter for each month whilst the blue line indicates the average temperature for that month over the last six winters.

I’ve done a similar chart for this winter’s rainfall. I’m aware that other parts of the country have had far more rainfall than we’ve had locally. Even so on visits to the plot the ground has seemed very wet and claggy. The dark blue line indicates the expected rainfall for each of the winter months.
We’ve had some cold but lovely sunny days over the last week but it has remained cold through the day. The sunshine has certainly brought out the apricot blossom in the greenhouse. We’re now waiting for our nectarine and peach trees to come into flower.
My main problem now is not to start sowing seeds too early. Perhaps I should stop reading blogs and looking on Facebook as lots of gardeners are already starting to sow seeds or even have young seedlings by now. The predictions I’ve seen are that the cooler weather will continue into March with a few milder days thrown in to add a bit of confusion. The forecast is not tempting me to start sowing seeds. I found in the past later sowings often catch up earlier sowings that have been checked by cold weather so it might be a few weeks yet before I’m tempted to tear open some seed packets.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Something Old Something New

It's been rather cold over the past few days. On some days we've had lots of sunshine but Friday has been different as it's remained cold but without any sunshine.

On Thursday we set out to capture some images of the world famous steam locomotive The Flying Scotsman. I suspected there might be a few more enthusiasts turn up than for your average steam locomotives. In no way did I anticipate the large number of people who would be there.
We've visited Moor Road several times over the last few years. Usually there will be maybe two or three other cars parked up but on Thursday there were no parking spaces left by the time Flying Scotsman was due to arrive.

However things hadn't gone according to plan for The Inaugural Run and the train was delayed because of people trespassing on the railway in an effort to get the best photo. So the train had a helicopter checking that the line ahead was clear.
After our efforts to capture some images of Flying Scotsman we decided to head to Farmer Copley's for some lunch. We'd finished our lunch but as we arrived back at our car we spotted some lambs in a field next to the car park. Of course we couldn't resist the temptation to take some photos and videos of the lambs playing.
My videos of The Flying Scotsman is below followed by a short one of the little lambs.

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

RHS Harlow Carr

Monday was a much brighter day with some decent sunny spells. There were enough clouds about at times to give some spits and spots of rain. It was still a little bit windy but certainly not as bad as the weekend. It’s now the windiest February in my records.
We decided on an afternoon visit to RHS Harlow Carr. It was a lovely sunny afternoon but chilly in the shade with a cold stiff breeze. All the usual culprits were in flower, snowdrops, crocuses, irises, and hellebores.
Against a lovely blue winter’s sky, the bare branches of the trees provided some good photo opportunities.
The visit to Harlow Carr convinced us to make a start tidying up our greenhouse on Tuesday. It was lovely and warm in the greenhouse in the February sunshine which brought out even more of the apricot blossom.
On such a lovely afternoon it’s difficult to resist the urge to start sowing seeds. The forecast is for some cold and frosty nights over the next few days so I’ll perhaps give it another week and see what the forecast is then before making any sowings.

Monday, 22 February 2016


Sunday turned out to be this February’s warmest day of the month reaching 14.3°C (57.7°F) early in the afternoon. Saturday was mild too and indeed if the only thing you take into consideration is temperature then you’d think we had a good weekend weather wise. That, however, wasn’t the case as it’s been windy all weekend and for the most of Saturday and Sunday it’s tried to rain too without ever really managing to do so.
As the weather didn't do anything to persuade me work outside in the garden I decided to try improving my white flower photography. I decided to try on our orchid which has just come into flower. Camera on burst mode and manual focus I tried a couple of shots- well about 50 to be a little more accurate. Then the tricky bit deciding which was the best shot. 
That looked better than my snowdrop efforts last week so I decided to try some snowdrops but this meant going outside. As I looked out of the window Woody arrived, perched in the magnolia tree and looked to be asking for his photo taking - so I did.
Once Woody departed I ventured outside to try my luck at photographing some snowdrops in close up. It didn't take more than a few seconds to realise it wasn't going to happen as the flower heads were blowing about too much in the gale force wind. After a few days when we thought our snowdrops were never going to come into flower they’re now almost fully out. 
 In a sudden calm spell, I did manage this close up of one of our hellebores.
The forecast for next week is for colder conditions to return so perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to loose the gale force winds of the weekend.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Chitters Spared

It’s been a mixed few days with some long sunny spells some days and dull at other times. Clear skies overnight have resulted in early morning frosts. The thermometer in the greenhouse got down to -3.7°C on Tuesday morning and was again below zero on Friday morning. I was hoping our potato tuber chitting in the greenhouse would survive the cold with only a few layers of fleece for protection. It’s been chilly in the greenhouse over the last few nights as the table below shows.
It was nice and sunny on Friday morning so I decided to venture up to the greenhouse and see how our potatoes looked. I pulled back the fleece from a few potatoes and they looked fine and a gentle squeeze of the tubers confirmed that they hadn't been frosted and remained firm and not squelchy when tested.

Our apricot, which is grown in the greenhouse had its first few flowers opening in the morning sunshine. 
I'm rubbish at taking photographs of white coloured flowers. I'm never all that happy with photos I take of snowdrops either so I'm going to have to do a bit of experimenting to see if I can do better. There’s plenty more buds on the apricot so I've got something to experiment on!

It’s also time for Sue to get her paintbrush out and do some insect impressions to pollinate the flowers. No self respecting insects will be about so early in February.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Late Snowdrops?

After a bitterly cold start to Tuesday it turned out to be a lovely winter’s day with clear blue skies all day long.

I'm sure our snowdrops normally come into flower before our miniature daffodils.
Not this year. Our snowdrops look like they’ll be in flower any day now but our daffs seem to have been in flower for a week or so. Perhaps the snowdrops are working to their usual timetable unfazed by the mild winter and the daffs are early because of the mild weather. 

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Out of the Blue

It’s been a mild winter so far. I was assuming it was going to carry on that way as you’ll may be aware I've put my potatoes into the greenhouse to chit. This was sort of based on the assumption we wouldn't be getting any bitterly cold and frosty nights.  After all it’s a mild winter. Then out of the blue comes Monday night or more accurately Tuesday morning. 
Temperature Records for Sunday 14 - Tuesday 16 February 2016
The temperature fell to -3.7°C (25.3°F) making it the coldest night time temperature since 31 March 2013 when it fell to -3.8°C (25.2°F).

I'm hoping my seed potato aren't frozen solid and that fleece has done its work.

Monday, 15 February 2016

A Tale of Two Baths

It's been a bit of a cold weekend with temperatures not much above freezing point but with some decent sunny spells.

I'd decided the topic for my blog post before I had all the necessary photos I required. On Sunday morning I'd taken some video of sparrows and a couple of starlings having a proper splash in our bird bath.  From the video I managed to grab one or two stills which I posted on my Facebook page. I've added a couple of those images below. 
After a bit of messing about the edited video was completed and uploaded to YouTube.

Once the birds have finished splashing about and the bird bath is empty I think they expect me to dash out and refill it so that they can have another go.

Now to the second bath of the weekend. I've blogged before about the special charter steam train called the Tin Bath named after the Last of the Summer Wine television programme. On Sunday it was due to travel through Wakefield passing close by our allotment. This was too good an opportunity to miss so my plan was to pop down to grab a quick video clip as it passed by. I knew from the Internet the train was running almost an hour late and so judged our arrival time accordingly. Trouble was I got it wrong and we arrived just in time to see smoke billowing over the bridge parapets. So as you've probably guessed there are no photographs of the second bath.

To make up for that I've added some extra bird bath images.

Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Beginning to Garden?

I suppose the week improved as it went on changing from mild, wet and windy in the early part of the week to cold, sunnier weather towards the end of the week with some night time frosts. That nagging gale force wind eventually abated too.
The rainfall amounted to 19.2mm or 0.76” in old money. February last year was the driest month of 2015 with just 11.2mm (0.44”). The average for February is around 45.0mm (1.77”) and so far this month’s total is 25.2mm (1.02”) as we approach the mid point of the month.

I did do a little bit of gardening this week although it was restricted to the greenhouse. This year’s seed potatoes are all set out in the greenhouse chitting before they’re planted out when the weather warms up a bit. I also thought it was about time I tidied up the grape vine before it decides to shoot. 
All last year’s remaining leaves were removed and last year’s stems were cut back to the old gnarled main stems. I even cut back part of the old stem to give the potted apricot, nectarine and peach trees more light to hopefully help produce a good crop of fruit.

I couldn't help noticing that our apricot will soon be coming into flower and Sue will have to get busy with her paint brush as there won’t be many pollinating insects about at this time of year if indeed there are any. 
We've some thing in the greenhouse to crop too. I was hoping for some salad leaves from the two beds we planted up in late autumn but those succumbed to the damp weather and haven’t got any crops to speak off. I might resow them at the end of this month and see if I can get them to produce an early crop.

What we do have to crop is some mint.
This tub of mint was cropped pretty extensively all through last summer and by autumn time it looked in a very sorry state. I thought we’d done the impossible and actually killed off mint. I’d a bit of space left in the greenhouse once all the plants requiring winter protection had been transferred inside and I took pity on this tub of mint. I'm hoping it will  keep us supplied for a few weeks with fresh mint. A bit of a treat!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Chitting the Rest

As it was a lovely sunny day I decided to move our seed potatoes from the garage into the greenhouse to chit. These varieties are listed below with a brief description of each.
These have all been placed onto a greenhouse shelf and covered with a couple of layers of horticultural fleece to keep the worst of any cold and frosty weather at bay.
Casablanca will be the first to be planted late on in March if weather conditions allow otherwise as soon as possible in April. I always think it’s better to plant when the conditions are right rather than on a set date in the year.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

A Bit of Advanced Planning.

After visiting our local garden centre’s potato day a couple of weeks ago we added six new varieties of potatoes to grow this year. I've decided that they would all neatly fit into our potato bed on plot 42 keeping all our new experimental varieties together. Our provisional layout of beds on plot 42 with our planned crops for this year is shown in each of the four beds in the plan below. 
These beds follow a simple four year rotation with each crop moving round one bed in a clockwise direction every year.Our trial potato varieties with a few details of each are listed below.

For the moment the tubers have been placed in the greenhouse to stop the tiny green shoots becoming leggy. The tubers will remain in the greenhouse until planting time in early April - weather conditions permitting.
They've been covered with a few layers of fleece as protection against frosty nights before planting time.