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Monday 22 July 2013

Not Just Any Old Fig

The forecast for Monday seemed way out in the morning as it was cloudy and on the cool side, but in the afternoon the sun broke through the cloud and the temperature was soon up to the forecast 26°C.

Back at the end of September 2011 our pot grown fig tree looked like this.  

It hadn't had any leaves all summer and to all intents and purposes it was dead. Never too keen to discard a sick plant we kept on feeding and watering and our Brown Turkey fig tree came back to life. This year it’s had a cosseted life in the greenhouse and it’s rewarded us with plenty of green figs. One or two had turned yellow and fallen off and I was hoping that this wasn’t going to be the fate of all the crop.  

Well I’m sure this fig is almost ripe the only problem now is how do I know when it’s fully ripe? I’d hate to remove it from the tree too early after all the effort of looking after it.

The forecast of thunder storms and heavy rain for Tuesday has proved correct with early morning thunder and rain. The allotment and garden will be enjoying the wet weather after a very hot and dry three weeks.




Tuesday 23 July 2013

Thunder and Lightening

Thunderstorms in the morning and then again in the evening brought some welcome rain. The heaviest rain fell through the morning before it brightened up for the afternoon. It was a very warm muggy afternoon and the threat of a storm never seemed far away.

We’d had 9.6mm of rainfall by the end of the day. I’m hoping the plot got at least the same amount but as it’s a few miles away I can’t be really sure how much fell there due the showery nature of the rainfall. Perhaps it got even more - that would be good.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Are Your Blossom Ends Rotting?

Wednesday was a warm muggy day with a light shower late in the afternoon.

I noticed that one of our garden greenhouse tomatoes has a bad attack of blossom end rot. I think that’s what it is and it does look like a serious problem. This variety is Sioux and it’s the only plant of this variety in our home greenhouse.

Thankfully all our other tomatoes in this greenhouse seem unaffected. It did set me thinking though that in the plot greenhouse we have three Sioux plants in one growbag and these might be badly affected too. Having checked them out they don’t appear to have any damage at all.

I’ve always understood that blossom end rot is due to irregular watering but if anything the plot greenhouse plants would suffer first rather than the ones at home which are watered more regularly. Perhaps it’s too much water but during the hot spell of the last few weeks that seems a bit unlikely to me.

There’s no saving the fruit so I’ll remove all the damaged tomatoes and see what happens.

Thursday 25 July 2013

Courgette Glut Coming On

Thursday was a very pleasant summer’s day with some sunny spells after a little rain overnight. It only amounted to 0.4mm which wasn’t enough to benefit the garden or plot.

Our weed control fabric experiment extended to our courgette bed this year. Our pot raised courgette plants were planted through crosses cut in the fabric. I admit to being a little worried as to whether the plants would grow well enough restricted to just this cut ‘hole’.

This was how the plants looked after planting out on 13-06-2013. The rather un-rotted manure was there just to stop the fabric in place and prevent any damage around the base of the plants from the fabric moving about in windy conditions.

For a few weeks the courgettes didn’t make any progress and I thought our experiment might reduce not only the weeds but our courgette crop too. By early July the plants were starting to look a bit more at home and the leaves were starting to take on a much darker green and looking much healthier.

Now the plants have put on lots of growth and are looking very healthy. Looking at the bed you wouldn’t know that they're planted through those little crosses in weed control fabric.

And as for the glut - bring it on. Thursday’s cutting produced 30 courgettes weighing in at 9.5kg. As this bed hasn’t required any weeding I think it’s turned out a success.

Friday & Saturday 26/27 July 2013

Dry becomes Wet - Overnight

Friday and Saturday were very nice summer’s days with long sunny periods and the temperature up into the mid to high twenties centigrade.

With just 14.2mm of rainfall this month by Saturday morning it was looking as though it would be much drier than the average 42.7mm we can expect to fall in July. All that changed overnight Saturday and into the early hours of Sunday morning. Checking my weather station on Sunday morning I couldn’t believe my eyes as the rainfall total for Sunday already showed 28.6mm.

Added to Saturday evening’s rainfall it amounts to 34.0mm, the best part of a months rainfall in 9 hours. I don’t think the plot will need watering today.

The month’s total now stands at 48.2mm making it wetter than an average July.

Sunday 28 July 2013

Almost Record 24 hour Rainfall

Sunday turned out to be the wettest day since last July. We had a total just over 36 mm of rain in 24 hours. That's the wettest day since 6 July last year with 39.2 mm. Sunday itself turned out to be a day of short sunny spells interspersed with some heavy showers.

During the last three weeks it's been difficult to keep our plants watered enough in the cold frame but today, after last night's torrential downpour, it was a case of emptying out the containers that the seed trays were sitting in .

We still seem to have lots of young plants in the cold frame waiting to be planted out on the plot. Amongst these plants are parsley, sweet Williams, wallflowers, sweet rocket, dog daisies, alpine strawberries and  lettuces and violas for garden tubs. I'm not sure where they’re all going to fit in the plot.

The good news of course is that the plot won’t need watering for a while now and it should be possible to tidy up and dig a couple of beds to accommodate all these youngsters.

Monday 29 July 2013

Never Caught Up

Monday morning got off to a fine start with some sunny periods and feeling quite warm. By lunchtime all that changed as dark thunderclouds started to develop resulting in some heavy afternoon showers. The rainfall amount didn't come to anything like Sunday's downpour and amounted to 2.2 mm.

I was fairly sure that in previous years we had already started picking plums by the time August came around. However, our plums were off to a bad start this year due to the very cold spring and they haven't recovered. Looking back in 2011 we picked our first plums on 24 July.

This was our Oullins Gage harvest on the 01 August 2011. Not just a couple of plums as we picked 17kg leaving loads on the tree for later.

In 2012 our plum trees took a year out and didn’t produce much fruit and were a little later as we didn't start picking our small crop until 16 August 2012

Whilst we didn’t have many plums they were still well worth waiting for and vastly superior to normal shop bought ones.

Now onto this year. I reckon this fruit still has a way to go before it’s anything like ripe.

The good news is that we have many more plums on all our trees this year compared to last so we will just have to be patient and wait for the fruit to ripen. I’m surprised that with the very hot July weather we’ve experienced over the last three weeks that the fruit didn’t catch up with previous years

Tuesday & Wednesday 30/31 July 2013

A Record Hot Month For My Weather Station

Tuesday was another nice warm day until late afternoon when some light showers began although they didn’t last too long and didn’t result in much rain. I left the plot late afternoon as it started to rain heavily only to find it dry by the time I’d driven a couple of miles home. Wednesday was a much duller day altogether with a spell of rain mid morning and another starting late afternoon lasting into the evening.

In my record books this will go down as the warmest month since I started keeping accurate records back in autumn 2009.

The average July temperature this year has been just over 3°C higher than last year. It’s certainly been a very good month weather wise although I’m sure most gardeners would have appreciated a little more rain during the first three weeks of the month.

I’ve tried to show the temperature difference between 2012 and 2013 on the chart above. The darker red line represents this year whilst the faded red shows last year’s temperature trace. Almost every day this year was warmer than last year.

The month could have been a very dry one as for the first 22 days of the month we had hardly any rainfall but all that changed in the last week of the month with thunderstorms and heavy rain the order for the final week of July. In the end we had more than average rainfall for the month with 57.6mm falling compared to a long term average of 42.7mm.

All our July 2013 weather statistics can be found here.