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Spring and Gardening on Hold
The cold grey weather continues and with temperatures hovering around the 5°C mark there is little point in sowing any seeds. As far as I’m concerned they’re better of in their seed packets until the weather warms up a little bit.
We have already exceeded the rainfall for all of March last year by mid day on the 10th of the month. Last March certainly lacked much rainfall and followed a dry winter. Hosepipe bans had already been introduced in certain parts of the country last year as one “expert” after another appeared in the Media reporting that it would take years to make up for the long dry spell. We’d all have to learn how to garden in dry parched conditions. Clearly they were all proved wrong as the weather didn’t behave anything like they predicted in fact almost the complete opposite. I wonder what these “experts” are doing now. I suppose they’re getting ready to tell us how to garden when the ground is wet and cold.
Saturday was cold and wet. It didn't pour down just drizzle on and off for most of the day. It turned to sleety rain late into the evening. Just a hint in the weather that spring is on its way would be great.
Last Saturday we visited the Yorkshire Dales and The Wensleydale Creamery where it’s possible to watch the cheese making process. Below is a short video from last week. I’m sorry about the rather blurred look to the video but that’s the view you get through the windows into the cheese making part of the Creamery.
Shouldn’t It Be Getting Milder!
Sunday turned out to be the coldest day of the month so far with an average daily
temperature of only 1.2°C. We did have a little bit of sunshine but the thermometer
didn’t rise above 3.3°C and by late evening the temperature was down to -
The TV weather forecasts sometimes highlight the wind chill factor giving an idea of how much colder it will actually feel to us because of a strong cold wind. It’s not something I regularly look at on my weather station because for most of the time it’s the same as the current temperature. Just for once I’ve plotted the wind chill factor and normal temperature values for last week and up to Monday morning.
The plots do follow the same pattern but the easterly wind has added a significant
wind chill factor. Early on Monday morning the temperature had fallen to -
I have a sneaky suspicion that Monday might soon be replacing Sunday as the coldest day of the month.
State of Play
Monday was brighter with some spells of sunshine interspersed with snow showers with the bitingly cold easterly wind continuing. As I’d half expected yesterday, Monday took the honours as the coldest day of the month.
There’s no doubt that we are off to a much slower start to our gardening activities this year than last. Conditions have been such that we haven’t visited the plot in a couple of weeks. At home we had certainly started off more seeds last year so I thought it was time to make a comparison.
Last year by this time our we had already sown the following:
And later on in March the following seeds were sown:
As far as I’m concerned I’m a little bit late but there’s no need to panic. After a good start in March last year we had a very poor April and May which slowed down or almost stopped the aubergine, peppers and tomatoes plants in their tracks. This year I’m going to delay sowing them by a couple of weeks and hopefully will avoid the worst of any cold setbacks when the seedlings are moved into the cold greenhouse.
That leaves broad beans, cabbages and leeks which I’ll attempt to sow in the greenhouse this week. I don’t think any of the seeds will be frosted but germination times might be slowed down if the cold weather persists.
That just leaves the plot to be sorted out!
Dreaming of things to come.
In the sunny spells the thermometer made it up to the dizzy heights of 1.9°C but
even the daytime temperatures fell below freezing as the clouds and snow showers
rolled in. In the end the average daily temperature finished at -
It’s just a question of keeping warm and waiting for the weather to improve. This collared dove looked like it was hoping for an improvement as it sat out the cold conditions in our crab apple tree.
Tuesday was another day with sunny spells and some bits and pieces of snow in the
wind. It was a cold day but certainly not in the same class as yesterday, however
the overnight low did get down to -
That low overnight temperatures in the greenhouse gave me a little bit of concern regarding the seed potatoes that are chitting in there. They’re only protected by a couple of layers of fleece not much protection against the frost.
In the greenhouse in the sunshine was very pleasant indeed. The temperature was almost 20°C almost enough to convince me to start sowing some seeds. With overnight frosts predicted all week I decided better of it and checked out our seed potatoes under the fleece.
These first early Winston’s look to have survived the frost and are just starting to show signs of some sprouts. Good news that there’s no soft or blackened potatoes due to last nights low temperature. Just to be on the safe side I had another look under some more fleece at some maincrop Charlotte potatoes and fortunately these were fine too.
In the garden I spotted one lone pansy making an effort to flower. It’s certainly a bedraggled looking flower but looking more closely at the picture it’s also got a bud so more flowers are on the way.
Making Its Mind Up
Wednesday morning started off beautifully sunny if still a little bit on the nippy side but by lunch time the sunshine had given way to cloud. We had some light wintry showers in the afternoon.
My early March weather station report makes for interesting but rather dodgy reading for gardeners ready to get their seeds sown and the new season under way.
The figures are a summary of the temperatures for the first three months of the year. Of particular interest are those areas shaded light blue with those on the left giving the mean (maximum, minimum and average) temperatures for each month (MO) whilst those on the right highlight the actual maximum and minimum values in the month and the day they occurred.
ANNUAL CLIMATOLOGICAL SUMMARY
NAME: Ossett Weather Station CITY: Ossett COUNTY: West Yorkshire
ELEV: 65 m LAT: 53° 40' 39" N LONG: 1° 33' 26" W
TEMPERATURE (°C), HEAT BASE 18.3, COOL BASE 18.3
DEP. HEAT COOL
MEAN MEAN FROM DEG DEG MAX MAX MIN MIN
YR MO MAX MIN MEAN NORM DAYS DAYS HI DATE LOW DATE >=32 <=0 <=0 <=-
13 1 5.8 2.1 4.1 -
13 2 6.1 0.6 3.4 -
13 3 6.0 0.8 3.3 -
March at the moment is colder than February and our warmest day of the year was on 29 January. What a mixed up year so far. Here’s hoping the weather will soon get its act together and spring will finally arrive.
A Convincing Argument Or Not?
No improvement in the weather today. It wasn’t too bad in the morning but we had a few spots of rain in the afternoon just enough to register 0.2mm on my rain gauge. The morning was once again frosty and it didn’t warm up much through the day.
I’m still trying to decide whether or not to sow some seeds. If the sun’s out it’s quite pleasant in the greenhouse but the last four nights have seen below freezing temperatures in there which is not conducive to seed germination. I decided to look at some of the temperature statistics over the last four weeks to help resolve, one way or another, my seed sowing dilemma.
I was looking through this blog which suggest some suitable soil temperatures for seed germination. Without going into detail the suggestions are that somewhere between 7°C and 10°C should be suitable where 7°C is really an absolute minimum. The chart below plots our outdoor temperatures over the last four weeks.
Over the last four weeks we have had occasions where the outside temperature has exceed that minimum value of 7°C but the temperatures haven’t exceeded 10°C in the whole of the four weeks. The last time we touched the dizzy heights of 10°C was on 04 February 2013 and the ‘heat wave’ lasted for less than one hour. I’m convinced that for us sowing anything outside at the moment would be a waste of time and money.
That leaves sowing in the greenhouse. Assuming the same sort of germination temperatures are required then the hours above 7°C are shown below.
Clearly in the greenhouse there are a lot more hours above 7°C. I’ve actually chosen 7°C as one of my greenhouse critical temperatures and keep a check of just how many hours are above that temperature. I updated the database figures on 13 March 2013 and the result was that 73 hours out of 312 hours in total were above the magical 7°C level. On the negative side we’ve had 29 hours of below freezing temperatures in the greenhouse in March. To put that into perspective there were just 3 hours below freezing in March 2012 and only 33 hours below freezing in the whole of February this year. I wouldn’t expect seeds to germinate in the greenhouse in February.
Until the weather warms up I’ve decided not to sow any seeds outside. In the greenhouse the options aren’t quite as clear cut but I still think it would be wise to curb my enthusiasm and hold back a little longer before getting down to sowing any of this year’s crops.
To finish off with and on a much brighter note here’s a picture of a siskin I managed to photograph in a break from number crunching.