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Tuesday 22 October 2013

Dull and Mild

Tuesday continued the now established weather pattern of wet morning and a much improved afternoon. The upside of this weather is that it’s been really mild for late October. In the afternoon sunshine the temperature reached 17.6° very pleasant for taking Tivvy for a little walk.

The downside is that all the dull and mild weather has resulted in a real shortage of sunshine. With just over a week to go to the end of the month it looks like it will easily be the dullest of the four Octobers my during which weather station has been operating.

As you can see so far my weather station has recorded 18.4 hours of sunshine for the month up to the 21 October so we’re going to have to have some very sunny days in what’s left of the month to match 2010 and 2011.

Tivvys afternoon walk incorporated a little bit of photography in the sunshine to capture The Cathedrals Express on its return journey from York to Kings Cross hauled by 70013 Oliver Cromwell.

Some drier weather would be much appreciated so that we can get some final tidying up done on the plot before any proper winter weather sets in.




Wednesday 23 October 2013

The Power House

Wednesday was a better day so I decided on a visit to the plot to sort out the allotment power house although it’s an area that doesn’t appear in plot photographs very often.

I refer of course to our compost bins which aren't very photogenic whichever side they’re photographed from but form an important part of the recycling process for dead plant material.

These were the two sections I wanted to sort out. The one on the left is all our dead plant material from last autumn and this summer. Some material has also been added to the right hand section if the left hand side has been full. It’s amazing how much a heap of compost shrinks as it decays. I’m not the best compost maker in the world and never manage to turn the heaps every month or so or whatever the recommendation is. Material doesn’t really get sorted out and mixed up as recommended either it just gets dumped into the bins as it’s cut down or pulled up out of the plot. The only exception is grass clippings which I do try to mix in to stop them becoming a slimly smelly layer. I’d describe myself as a lazy compost maker.

This is the result of 12 months of composting once the side of the bin has been moved out of the way for easier access. I didn’t think it looked all that promising but my idea was to move all the material that hadn’t yet rotted into the bin on the left, spread any good compost onto the plot and then move everything back into this section. This would then be left to do its thing until this time next year.

Once the top layers of un-composted material had been removed there was some pretty decent stuff to spread on the plot. I managed a dozen barrows full of well rotted compost from this heap.

Once all the compost had been barrowed onto the plot everything was moved back into the bin on the right of the picture.The left hand bin is empty and ready for filling up with the next 12 months of fresh composting material. I’m tempted to cover the full heap with weed control fabric to try to control the weeds a little bit. This part of the plot suffers from bindweed not the easiest of weed to keep under control. This will now be left for 12 months to finish the composting process.

Now all I’ve got left to do is to sort out the three similar sized bins that are full of composted material produced from all the weeds that have been removed.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Dry and Sunny

Thursday remained dry and became only the second day out of the last sixteen without any recorded rainfall. Not only that we had plenty of sunshine, especially through the morning, with more cloud around in the afternoon.

There was a small price to pay for such a lovely day. The early morning temperature on Thursday produced our coldest morning of the autumn so far with the temperature dipping down to 3.5°C.

It was a good day for more tidying up on the plot.

The runner bean wigwams were taken down and the old sweet corn stalks pulled up and consigned to the compost heap. The wigwam canes were tied together and put into the greenhouse to protect them from the worst of the winter weather and prolong their useful life. Any large weeds were removed and the compost from the recently emptied bin was spread out over the bed. It’s been covered with some weed control fabric and with a little bit of luck the worms will get their act together and incorporate the compost into the top layer of soil. I’d like to cover the fabric too but the supply of decent horse manure has run out so I am considering using some wood chippings which are readily available on the site. The fabric and chipping will be removed in spring when the bed will need to be dug over ready for planting.

Harvesting certainly doesn’t take up much time now compared to a few weeks ago. I dug some carrots and beetroot which needed a wash to remove some soil clinging to the roots as a result of the wet weather.

The little Tom Thumb lettuces area bit of a surprise as I’d given up on them growing at all. These were planted out in the plot on 23 August and haven’t seemed happy at all.

Tom Thumb are the row on the left and some have eventually managed to produce some tiny hearts. The middle row is Webbs Wonderful which haven’t grown at all and the final row is Little Gem some of which have also produced some tiny hearts. Hopefully we’ll get some small pickings until the first frost of autumn finishes them off.

Friday 25 October 2013

What a Turn Around

Friday morning started off dull and wet suggesting a miserable Friday but by mid morning the rain had stopped, the sun came out and the temperature scorched up to 18.0°C.

The temperature hasn’t managed 18.0°C this late into October over the last four years.

Of course this is lull before the storm. The forecasters have been warning us for a few days now of the storm brewing out in the Atlantic and heading our way for Monday.

This is the latest forecast maximum speed for gusts of wind at 06:00 on Monday morning. The centre of the low pressure system is set to track over central England with the worst of the winds, forecast around 80mph in exposed locations, across southern counties of England and northern France. I don’t think I’d be wanting to cross the English Channel on Monday.

Saturday & Sunday 26/27 October 2013

Spoilt by Showers

The weekend wasn’t too bad for late October. Saturday was the milder cloudier day and Sunday was a little cooler with more sunshine but a gale force wind especially around lunchtime.

We’ve been lucky to avoid the storm that was forecast for the southern counties of England for the early hours of Monday morning. The gale force winds of Sunday lunchtime died down during the afternoon and haven’t returned. Monday morning has started off calm, dull and wet. Brighter weather is forecast for Monday afternoon.

Monday 28 October 2013


Monday produced one of our coldest days of the month with a high of 11.8°C which to be fair is about what we should expect for the end of October. After a dull wet morning the rain cleared away.

There was a blustery wind around lunchtime and into the early afternoon but nothing like the ferocious winds that the southern part of the UK experienced on Monday morning.

As we get towards the end of October and two thirds of the way through autumn our average temperature has just about hit the average expected for autumn. After a cooler September our average was below expected but a mild October has put us back on track.

Autumn this year is proving to be much warmer than last year when by this time it felt like winter was already well under way. If October maintains its current average of 12.4°C my figures would make it the 11th warmest on record based on Met Office records going back to 1772.


Oct av °C





































No one seems to be ready to predict an end to the mild, wet, and windy weather coming in from the Atlantic so the mild autumn seems set to continue.

Tuesday 29 October 2013


Tuesday turned out to be our coldest daytime temperature of the month managing just 11.1°C which I suppose is typical after I’d written a blog post about how mild October has been. Tuesday wasn’t actually a bad sort of a day except that we had a prolonged heavy shower at lunchtime which put us off going down to the plot.

I’ve noticed a few reports on Twitter that some areas had a frost overnight and into Wednesday morning. Although the temperature dipped down to 4.2°C for us it wasn’t our lowest for the month which was Thursday 24th at 3.5°C.

In the last four years I haven’t recorded a temperature of 0°C or below in October so it’s not unusual for us to avoid a frost at this time of year. The lowest October temperature in the last four years was 25 October 2010 at 0.2°C, pretty close to zero but not quite.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Perfect Pears?

Wednesday was another pretty decent day for late October. It’s going to be quite a shock when the weather eventually turns colder.

In my mind pears are much more difficult to decide when to eat than apples. We picked our 7.1kg crop of “Invincible” pears on 17th September.

They parted from the tree easily which was one reason for picking them as we didn’t want them to fall to the ground and bruise in any strong winds. However, they were definitely not ready for eating as they were rock hard. I know, I tried to eat one, and there was no taste at all. Since then the pears have spent their time in the salad drawer of our spare fridge freezer in the garage.

This how they look now after their 6 weeks in the fridge. They’ve turned more golden in colour than they were and have softened up. They’re not soft and mushy like pears sometimes go but still firm to the bite, juicy and pleasantly sweet. I wonder how long they will keep in this condition. It’s a while since we had such a success with one of our pear varieties.

Thursday 31 October 2013

A Cloudy and Mild Month

October for us has been a cloudy and mild month. Amazingly we’ve had some measurable rainfall on 24 of the 31 days this month but still had just below average rainfall with 67.6mm actual against an expected 68.7mm. However, it’s been our wettest month of the year. Our average monthly temperature has finished up at 12.1°C dropping it down that list of record mild Octobers into 12th place below 1811. I’m sure the official figures will show something different but they are the experts.

What does November have to offer. Well we still have our medlars to pick if only we can decide when they’ve bletted rather than rotted but weatherwise, based on the last three years, November can still be a fairly extreme month. 2010 saw the mildest November day I’ve recorded at 17.3°C (04/11/2010) and the coldest at -7.6°C (28-11-2010). In 2011 and 2012 we didn't even get below zero. The average monthly temperature will probably be between 6°C and 9°C a considerable drop from this year’s October average. It’s been a wet month in two of the three years that I’ve recorded.