Thursday, 30 June 2016

Another Wet Day But No Records Broken

Wednesday was another poor day for the end of June with more rain through the morning and into the early afternoon. I've had a look through my records as it seems to me June's been a very wet month and I was thinking about it breaking a few records for the amount of rainfall. It seems a long time ago now but the first 9 days of the month were dry but since then we've had only three dry days or maybe four if the last day of June is rain free.
Temperature & Rainfall 01-29 June 2016
However, our total rainfall for the month stands at 71.6mm (2.82") well short of the 131.5mm (5.18") that fell in June 2012 although that particular month is the wettest we've had in the last six years. This month doesn't at the moment get into my list of 10 wettest Ossett months in the last six years unless the last day of the month is extremely wet.
Still some plants are doing pretty well despite all the rain. Our roses are looking good although it is a bit wet to get onto the garden to do some dead heading. That's my excuse anyway.
It would be nice if the rest of the summer turned out a little bit drier and sunnier.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Rain Stops Play - Again!

It seems to be a regular occurrence on the plot that at some point in the afternoon we get rain off. Tuesday wasn't any different as a heavy shower arrived not long after we arrived.
My plan was to prepare some ground for sowing sweet Williams, rocket and wallflowers as well as somewhere for our lavender cuttings to be planted to grow on. I decided to get this done before picking strawberries. To be honest although it was cloudy it didn't look that much like it was going to rain even though the forecast said it would. One bed was dug and covered with weed control fabric but as I was finishing digging the second bed it started to rain heavily and I made a hasty retreat to the shed for shelter. The forecast was right after all!
We had a cuppa while sheltering from the rain in the shed and then decided to do a little bit of harvesting despite the rain. It seemed a shame to leave any ripe strawberries for the slugs to devour. That’s also our first Mayflower cauliflower in the photo grown on from small plants from Marshalls early brassica collection. It's alongside a cabbage Duncan from the same collection.

Some decent weather would be much appreciate but it doesn't look like we're going to get any just yet. Perhaps July will be better.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Rubbish Cabbage Plants

Monday was a reasonably sunny day but it was also the first windy day this month.
Temperature, Sunshine & Wind Speed Records from 21 June to 27 June 2016
The wind was at its worst late in the afternoon with a gust speed of 20mph.

I've complained, in the past, about poor quality brassica plants I've received from seed companies. Well now I've produce some rather pathetic red cabbage plants myself. This year we decided to try some red cabbages called Lodero supposedly a club root resistant variety. I sowed the seeds on 29 May and within a couple of days the seeds germinated. These were pricked out into modules and moved into the cold frame.
A month on this is how they look now. They've grown long and lanky and I'm in two minds whether or not to plant them out in the plot. I suppose I've nothing much to lose if half a dozen of the best looking specimens are given a chance. I'm not really all that sure why they've grown this way as they've been treated in the same way as all our other brassica seedlings which normally produce decent plants for the plot. 

Monday, 27 June 2016

Away Days

We had a couple of days away heading to Norfolk to visit Blickling Estate and a gala at the Mid Norfolk Railway. We were rather lucky with the weather as Friday was lovely sunny day to visit Blickling Estate although it did rain from mid afternoon on Saturday spoiling our visit to the Heritage Railway.
Temperature, Rainfall & Sunshine Records 24 June - 26 June 2016
In general the weather remains very consistent at being changeable.  As you can see from the above chart the temperature hasn't been too bad with sunny spells and spells of rain or showers.
Blickling Estate - Aylsham - Norfolk
Mid Norfolk Railway - 46100 Royal Scot at Thuxton Station
We visited the plot on Sunday afternoon and managed to pick this a nice selection of strawberries.
The weather obviously hadn't been too bad at home as only the odd strawberry had turned mouldy although quite a few berries had been eaten by slugs. Still there were plenty left for us.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Early Potato Test

The last few days have seen a bit of an improvement in the weather. We've had less rain and the temperature has lifted too giving the days a bit of a muggy feel at times.
Temperature, Rainfall & Sunshine Records 17 - 23 June 2016
You'll notice that none of the sunshine traces have that lovely curve to them which indicates sunshine all day long. It has been a lot more hit and miss than that with short sunny spells rather than any prolonged sunshine.

On the plot we decided to harvest a few of our first early potatoes Casablanca.
As we've lots of potatoes growing I like to start harvesting our first crop as early as possible because I think these early potatoes are the ones that have the finest new potato flavour. As you can see from the photo above the plants are only just coming into flower and I thought it might be a little bit early to see if there were any potatoes underneath the foliage.
There were enough potatoes on the first root I lifted for one meal for two so I'm reasonable happy with that. I'll continue to lift a few roots from now on to keep our potato supplies stocked up. Surprising none of the potatoes had any slug damage. Our slugs and snails have been on the rampage this year thanks to all the damp weather so to have all undamaged potatoes was a surprise.
The potatoes tasted great too after all that's one of the reasons for growing your own.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

It Must Be Summer - Banana's Out

Monday and Tuesday have seen a big improvement in the weather and we've actually had some sunshine. We had some rain on Monday morning but it had cleared away by lunchtime to leave us with a lovely afternoon. Tuesday was warm with some decent sunny spells.

As it's now officially summer and the weather has improved I decided our banana tree could move out of the greenhouse and into its summer spot just outside the door. It's not much of a move in distance, a couple of metres at most, but I'm sure our banana won't appreciate the move if we get some windy weather.
It's a tight fit to get it out of the greenhouse door without doing any damage to its leaves. Another week or so in the greenhouse and it would have been much too large to go through the door without damaging those glossy leaves.

We spent Tuesday afternoon pottering about in the garden filling up the last few pots with plants to produce some good summer displays.
With all the rain the garden is now set up for summer.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Picking Strawberries in the Rain

It was almost a dry weekend but the rain just couldn't keep away and late on Sunday afternoon we had more rain. It would be more encouraging if we at least had some brighter intervals between the bouts of rain but all we get is dull weather with rain at times. After a decent first few days of June the weather has been abysmal. The last 10 days have yielded a measly 5.0 hours of sunshine and 51.0mm (2.01") of rainfall which is above our average for June.  

We made the most of the dry weather getting as much planted in the mud on the plot as we could. It was a case of now or never as far as our sweetcorn and leeks were concerned. Most of the grass paths were strimmed between planting sessions. Eventually we were rained off on Sunday afternoon.

As the rain began to fall, we packed away quickly but still had a few strawberries to pick. This year's strawberry harvest is rapidly turning into a bit of a disaster. The constantly damp weather means slugs and snails are a real nuisance and the almost complete lack of sunshine results in the strawberries ripening very slowly. We've been tempted to remove strawberries before they are fully ripe in an attempt to harvest some fruits rather than leave them to the mercy of the weather.
These are the strawberries picked on Sunday afternoon. Any that had been partially eaten by slugs were left in place. Even then the berries aren't perfect by any stretch of the imagination.
From this side this strawberry doesn't look too bad, although it does still look like it has a little bit of ripening to do. Then when turned over it looks like this!
It looks like a slug has caused some initial damage and the damp weather has done the rest turning the fruit mouldy. It's never going to ripen is it? It is only fit for the compost heap. We have lots of strawberries like this.

The weather forecast doesn't seem very promising for the next week so it looks like our strawberry harvest is unlikely to improve.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

More Cloud and Rain

At one stage I thought Friday might turn out to be a dry day, the first for over a week. It was dull all day and not particularly warm for mid June but then as I was thinking the lawn might be dry enough to mow, more rain arrived.
Greenhouse Temperature 10-18 June 2016
The chart above shows the greenhouse temperatures for the last week. Normally in June it's a case of trying to keep the temperatures down with all the windows and the door wide open. That's not been the case over the last week. Normally the indoor temperature is in the mid thirties centigrade even with all the windows open. As you can see over the last week it has only managed the low twenties centigrade or temperatures that wouldn't be out of the ordinary as outside temperatures for the middle of June.

One rather unforeseen problem with cool greenhouse temperatures during the day and no hot sunshine through the glass is that it gives marauding slugs and snails even longer to maraud.
I caught these two just after 10:00am in the greenhouse. If the weather was anything like decent it would be far too hot for them in the greenhouse to be out and about. On a more positive note these individuals won't be out and about during the night anymore!

In the garden our clematis flowers are standing up to the poor weather much better than the roses.
Hopefully the weather will improve before too long.

Friday, 17 June 2016

Enough Rain For Now

The first 10 days of June were dry with a spell of lovely warm sunny days thrown in for good measure. Since that dry spell broke we've had some amount of rainfall each day.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-16 June 2016
The outcome is that in the last seven days the rainfall has amounted to 40.8mm (1.61") about what we might expect over the whole month. It would be nice now if the rain would go away for a few days and allow the allotment to dry out a little bit. In the seven days of sunnier weather at the beginning of the month we managed 36.6 hours of sunshine compared with a miserly 2.5 hours over the last  seven days. The forecasters like to refer to the current weather as changeable compared to settled conditions of the early part of the month. I don't see what's unsettled about the current weather as it seems settled on cloudy with heavy showers, drizzle or longer spells of rain. It's been like that for the past week and it's forecast to be very similar for the next week. Summer is rushing past without much summer weather.

I last visited the plot on Wednesday and the soil was extremely wet and would have been difficult to plant in. With another good dousing of rain on Thursday it's going to be even wetter. I'm not sure which is our most pressing crop to plant out but it would be good to get our leeks, brassicas and sweetcorn in the ground.
I might find out how well some of these crops perform when planted out in mud rather than soil. If they stay in the cold frames much longer they will spoil in any case.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Brightness Required

Tuesday turned out to be another dull and damp day. We didn't have any rain during daylight hours only drizzle off and on but such was the cloud level that it remained damp all day.
Ideally the roses need dead heading but it's a lot too wet to stand on the soil to remove them so until it dries up a little they'll remain where they are.

We've  a few things to finish planting on the allotment. Our sweetcorn, autumn and winter brassicas, leeks and outdoor tomatoes to mention only a few are all waiting patiently in the cold frames for their turn to be planted out. We didn't fancy planting in the drizzle and with a decent amount of rain falling on Monday afternoon and evening we decided against trying to plant out in the wet. Things may yet get desperate and we'll have to do some allotment planting in the rain. Not only that, the rain encourages the grass paths to grow at an alarming rate so no doubt they will need strimming again soon.

There's lots of baby birds about in the garden but the problem's finding a decent spell of weather between showers to get some pictures. I know Sue managed some photos of a baby blackbird and I spotted this young robin waiting for its next meal on our little bistro table.
I'm tempting fate but so far we've managed to keep the slugs and snails off our hostas which are in pots around the pond.
I'm sure that with all this damp weather it's only a matter of time before a marauding slug or snail finds a tasty leaf.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

No Watering Required

After a cold start and then some lovely mild sunny days June has turned decidedly wet although it has remained mild.
Temperature, Rainfall and Sunshine Records 08 June to 14 June 2016
Last Friday was our first rain in June and it doesn't seem to have dried up since then. We've now had 27.8mm of rainfall up to mid morning on Tuesday. The forecast is for more outbreaks of rain for the next couple of days at least.

The wet mild weather has brought with it a few gardening problems. We did manage to plant our carrot seeds Fly Away on the plot on Monday afternoon before the rain arrived but the soil was very wet and soggy. As we sow our carrot seeds in a shallow trench filled with compost the job was just about manageable. 
Our maincrop potatoes are looking good at the minute but the mild wet weather brings with it the risk of blight. When the conditions for blight are right Blightwatch issue confirmation warnings.
Of course it doesn't mean that our crop will get blight but if I spayed our crop for blight it would be advisable to do it straight away.

Then this weather is perfect for slugs. Constantly damp and mild. I caught this monster demolishing a radish.
They're helping themselves to our strawberries too, not to mention our French and runner bean plants and any other living green material they can slime their way onto.

Hopefully the weather will dry up a little bit soon and summer will return. 

If you've a strong stomach you can watch this slug eating the radish in the video below.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Up North

It was a poor weekend weather wise with low cloud, murk and some steady spells of rain all weekend. Saturday's plan was for a trip to the plot to sow some late carrot seeds which didn't go well as I left the carrot seeds on the dining room table. Still the soil was good for digging after the recent rain so we've now got a few more beds ready for planting up.
On Sunday we headed north up the A1 for a first visit to the Tanfield Railway situated near Newcastle. It was dull and drizzly as we passed the Angel of the North.
The rain just about held off for our visit to what turned out to be a beautifully scenic heritage railway.
We were lucky not to get one of the downpours that were about whilst we travelled up and down the line, hopping off at various points to take some photos. As we headed back home on the A1 it tipped it down.
Now I must remember that carrot seed when we next visit the plot.

Saturday, 11 June 2016

Strawberry Surprise

Friday saw our first rainfall of the month. It's not the driest start to June I've recorded which belongs to June 2013 when we got to the 13th of the month without any rain.
The clouds did break for a short while in the afternoon to give a little bit of sunshine but in the main it was a damp muggy sort of a day.

I'd been planning on covering our strawberries fairly soon to protect them from the birds. I was surprised on our last visit to the plot on Thursday to find that some fruits were already starting to turn red. What was also obvious was that I wasn't the only one who had noticed.
I couldn't make my mind up whether this damage was a caused by a slug or a bird. There didn't look to be any evidence of a slim trail normally left by a slug or a snail so it might well be bird damage. I couldn't see any other damage to one or two other strawberries that were starting to ripen.
Our strawberry netting is safely stored at home so any protection would have to be a makeshift job with materials we had about on the plot. More importantly should we pick the other few strawberries that were starting to turn or leave them to turn fully red. They were picked and eaten and I can confirm that whatever helped itself to that strawberry had good taste.

Before we left the plot on Thursday, a piece of old brassica netting was put to use to protect as many of the strawberry plants as it would stretch to before we left the plot.
Once the weather improves the job will need to be done properly. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Early Brassica Update

Wednesday and Thursday continued the fine dry weather.

On Thursday afternoon we did a little more tidying up and planting out on the plot. Our early brassica bed is now filled up although it may be stretching it a bit to call it early anymore. 
This is how our brassica bed looked after it was planted up on 03 May this year. Cabbages (Duncan), Cauliflower (Mayflower), and calabrese (Marathon) were all planted through weed control fabric and the whole bed was covered with veggie mesh. The plants had been purchased as an early brassica collection from Marshalls Seeds. Of course the veggie mesh didn't protect from slugs and on the 12 May some of the cauliflower plants had been devastated by slugs.
This was how the worst of our cauliflowers looked after the slugs had enjoyed a meal on our plants. On a visit to a local garden centre I bought six cauliflower plants of a variety called Navona. I hadn't heard of this variety but having checked up it's a Romanesco type of cauliflower. I thought to give these the best chance possible I'd put the young plants into some largish pots so that they'd have more chance of standing up to a slug attack. 
Cauliflower Navona potted up on 13 May 2016
They have grown into decent plants so it was time for them to be planted in the allotment.
Cauliflower Navona (6 plants)
As for the other brassicas they've made a bit of a recovery and I think we only lost a couple of cauliflower plants. Before planting our Navona plants I removed the veggie mesh and tidied up the edges of the bed.
The cabbages in the foreground will soon be ready for harvesting. 
I might be able to resist the temptation until next week but these look like they will be the first of this year's veggie harvest from the allotment. We're moving from that extremely lean harvesting period into hopefully a time of plenty.

Of course the veggie mesh has been put back in place.