Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Snow - No Show

The snow forecast for Tuesday afternoon and evening didn't show up. We had a few very light rain showers through the afternoon and evening amounting to 1.0mm in total so had it been snow it would only have been a light covering. It's continued cold though, with the wind chill effect making it feel even colder.
Temperature & Wind Chill Records 28-30 January 2019
The weather models seem to have had a rethink about the snow forecast for Thursday and that now appears to have done a disappearing act as well.
It was frosty overnight, Tuesday into Wednesday morning, and it looked as though we'd had the tiniest amount of snow when I ventured outside to thaw out the bird bath and top up the feeders.

The forecast is for the weather to remain cold for the rest of the week and through the weekend before turning milder next week.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Looking Forward to New Varieties

Last week was generally on the cool side apart from Friday and Saturday which turned out to be much milder. We are now on a downward temperature trend for the rest of the month and into the beginning of February. There is the possibility of some snow this week, along with the cold temperatures, but the forecasts are far from certain about the snowfall. 
Temperature & Windchill Effects 21-27 January 2019
Sunday was a particularly windy day with the wind chill effect making it feel bitterly cold.

We did manage to get a few allotment jobs done and Sue has covered most of these in her blog post here.

With the new season's seed orders arriving in the post, and a couple of trips to local garden centres to supplement our online orders, a start to the new gardening year has begun even if we haven't yet sown any seeds. Each year we like to try a few new varieties of vegetables to see what we might be missing. It does means that over the years we've tried many different varieties, with potatoes and tomatoes the most prolific.

I think we've tried at least 43 different sorts of potato varieties. These are the ones I have photographic records of giving a list 43 different types. This year's new varieties will be Athlete, (a recommendation by Bill's Allotments 2 Plots of Heaven) Rudolph and British Queen. At the garden centre we thought Premiere would be new this year, but checking back we grew it back in 2012. We're also growing some Sarpo Mira this year, which doesn't appear on the list, but I can remember growing them in the past. It must have been a good few years ago.
Our Potato Varieties Over the Years
Casablanca Potatoes July 2017
We haven't tried quite as many tomato varieties, 41 if the listing below is correct but I'm sure there will be the odd omission. This year's new tomato variety will be Albenga. It's an Oxheart type originating from Northern Italy and a recommendation from Roger Brook the "No Dig Gardener". We were lucky enough to be given a couple of ripe tomatoes last year and we thought they tasted good and decided to give it a go.
Our Tomato Varieties Over the Years
Moneymaker Growing In 2011
Now I can't finish on tomatoes without mentioning our own record breaking tomato. Back in 2009 we grew some Brandywine tomatoes one of which grew to what we thought was an enormous size. We decided to make a YouTube video of this tomato being picked and sliced for sandwiches and called the video "A Monster Tomato". I know it's ten years ago now since we uploaded the video but since then it has had a staggering 206,000 views!. That's easily our most viewed video. I've added the video below just in case you are one of the few gardeners who hasn't seen it.

We now have some sharper scissors but I think the bread knife is still going strong.
Copyright: Original post from A Gardener's Weather Diary author M Garrett

Monday, 21 January 2019

Tale of Two Halves

The weather has certainly turned much colder. It looks like it could be a month of two halves, the first half mild, and the last two weeks much colder. I was hoping that the change to much colder weather would at least get rid of the dull and dreary weather of the first couple of weeks of the new year, but we’ve unfortunately swapped the mild temperatures for cold ones and kept the dull and dreary conditions.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 01-21 January 2019
We visited Potteric Carr on Friday afternoon for a walk around the nature reserve. 
It was a cold, cloudy day and any still water was still ice covered early in the afternoon.
There’d been some posts on Facebook showing some starling murmurations at the reserve. Thousands of starlings gather at the reserve and produce magical flying displays before they settle down to roost for the night.
Unfortunately for us they chose to carry out their display some distance from where we were standing but we still managed to get some photos and video of their display.

Friday, 18 January 2019

January Weather Arrives

There has most certainly been a change in the weather to more normal January temperatures. There doesn't appear to be anything worse than we might expect in January in the weather model output but there are some distinct differences in the forecasts as can be seen below.
The top forecast is from the GFS model and it doesn't forecast any below 0°C (32.0°F) temperatures before the 26th of the month. The bottom forecast uses the GEM model output and it is going for a much colder forecast over the next 10 days. Friday morning's actual temperature fell to -2.8°C (27.0°F) more in line with that GEM forecast. I'll keep a note and see which forecast is more accurate by the end of the month.

A couple of days ago I noticed a rose in the front border had a bud. I thought it must be left over from summer and didn't give it any chance of opening up. Wrong!
It managed to open up before the colder weather arrived.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Warmest and Windiest

The start of the new year means a fresh set of highest and lowest weather records for the year. Sunday set a couple of those producing the mildest and windiest day of the year.
Temperature Records 01-15 January 2019 (with Highest & Lowest values since 2009)
The temperature reached 11.4°C (52.5°F) on Sunday afternoon, the mildest this year, but accompanied by a gales force wind it wasn't the nicest of days. It was windy enough to make it into my top twenty list of windiest days since 2010. Even though it was the twelfth windiest day in almost ten years, as far as I know, it wasn't due to any named storm. 
Almost half way through the month and January is turning out to be a mild month with the average temperature for January a couple of degrees Celsius above what we might expect. Nightime temperatures in particular have been well above average with some overnight temperatures exceeding average January daytime values.

Outside there are the first hopeful signs of spring as early flowering bulbs push through the surface of the soil.
It's nice to see the bulbs emerging but I'm guessing we've still got the worst of the winter weather to come.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Continuing Dull and Mild

The dull and mild start to the new year continues but there are all sorts of stories about how the weather might change by the end of the month. I don't think anything is certain at the moment but it seems the longer range weather models are suggesting much colder conditions towards the end of January and into February probably as a result of that Sudden Stratospheric Warming event at the end of last year. The shorter range models haven't picked up on this cold weather pattern yet so anything could still happen.

Yesterday, Friday, we set out to see 60103 Flying Scotsman haul the Scotsman Salute a charter train from London Kings Cross to York. This was in memory of Sir William McAlpine who repatriated Flying Scotsman from America. Sir William was the owner of Flying Scotsman from 1973–1996.
Sir William bought Flying Scotsman for £25,000 and paid for the locomotive to be brought back to the UK from San Francisco where it had been on tour. He then paid for the locomotive to be restored and brought back into main line operation.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

First Flowers of the Year

It's been a very dull and dreary start to the new year. Up until yesterday, Tuesday, my weather station hadn't recorded any sunshine hours at all. With all the cloud it's resulted in a pretty mild start to 2019 even if it's been on the dull side.

Temperature & Rainfall Records 03-09 January 2019
Sunshine or not our hellebores are starting to flower and with a bit of luck will provide us with 
an early display of colour for a couple of months.
I've noticed that there's a suggestion our weather could turn much colder by the end of the month and into the beginning of February. This might well be the weather models responding to the Sudden Stratospheric Warming which occurred over Christmas. Of course this comes with the usual warning that predicting what our weather will be like in a couple of weeks time isn't set in stone by any means.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Not Much Happening

There’s not a lot to say about our weather at the moment, nor have we been doing a great deal at the plot, so there's nothing much to blog about. Since the new year we haven’t been lucky enough to see any sunshine and apart from the first few hours of the new year it’s been on the chilly side, although as yet the temperature hasn’t fallen below freezing.
Temperature & Rainfall Records 29 December 2018 - 04 January 2019

I need to set up my new website pages for 2019 which will take me a week or two to complete so links already set up might not work as expected until I get all the new links for this year sorted out.

Despite the cold and dull weather we’ve, had a couple of visits to the allotment. One of the jobs we’ve been planning on doing for a couple of winters now was sorting out our old cold frame which had been wrapped in environmesh to stop the wind from breaking the glass. Brambles had taken control with stems attaching themselves to the environmesh.
It took a while to untangle the brambles and remove the glass which is now stored safely in the greenhouse.
Once the cold frame was moved out of the way, to another part of the plot, the ground it had been covering for a few years was dug over. The ground was thick with bindweed roots, and as many of these as we could find were removed as the soil was dug over. There’s now a large heap of bindweed roots drying out ready for burning.
Moving the cold frame was one of those jobs where if they don't get done through winter, then they won’t be done at all, as we’re too busy sowing, planting or harvesting at other times of the year.

It’s not the only winter job we have planned but at this time of year the weather can put all our plans on hold.

I was surprised when I looked back at the temperatures for 2018 that with that long hot dry summer it wasn't the warmest year I've recorded over the last nine years. Amazingly, it didn't even make second or third place either.
Average Yearly Temperatures 2010-2018
Average Yearly Rainfall 2010-2018
If you haven't already guessed despite that long dry summer, our rainfall for the whole year was slightly below average but no way near the driest year of the last nine.