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Page: Feb 2015 wk 1


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Sunday & Monday 01/02 February 2015

More Met Office Severe Weather Warnings

The last few days of January and the first few days of February see us covered by Met Office yellow warnings for snow and also for icy conditions. These warnings change on a fairly regular basis and but for the last few days haven’t really described our weather conditions. It’s been cold and we had a few snow showers on Thursday but since then nothing. We’ve had some overnight frost but nothing very severe with the coldest temperature down to -1.2°C on Monday morning. It is the end of January after all we can expect it to be cold, frosty with a few snow showers thrown in.

As it’s turned out January wasn’t all that cold, finishing up a little bit milder, by just 0.2°C, than expected. It’s finished up a little cooler than last year.

Whilst it won’t be remembered for its frostiness or heavy snow falls, January 2015 certainly gave us plenty of gales. It’s easily become the record month for gales over the last five years and equals the whole of 2011 on its own.

February is starting with a pretty chilly theme but in the garden the first signs that spring is on its way are there but they do take a bit of searching out. The hellebores pictured above are obvious as are the snowdrops below which will be coming into full flower over the next week or so.

Following from our snowdrops will be iris Katherine Hodgkin. I had to have a close inspection of the border to find any sign of them but then I spotted this little cluster of buds that will be soon coming into flower.

So even though February can be one of our coldest months, we’ve got the first flowers of the year to look forward to and then once March is here we can start planning for the main growing season.




Monday 02 February 2015

Last Thought on January’s Weather

Monday was cold and cloudy. After an overnight frost the temperature only managed to reach a high of 2.9°C.

Back in January I posted that the Met Office reported that 2014 was the hottest year in the Central England Temperature records dating back to 1669. I thought it might be interesting to plot a comparison for this year to see how the year’s average temperatures build up. The left hand table below is the one published here in January and the table on the right this year’s average temperatures as they build up.

The monthly Central England Temperature data published by the Met Office can be found here. January has got us off to a much cooler start this year and as February had the highest anomaly* of any month last year the current cold spell needs to come to an abrupt end if we are to match last February’s average temperature.


I think I understand how the anomaly figure is worked out. Records from the CET between 1961 and 1990 are averaged out for each month and Jan 2014 is compared against the average value for the Januarys between 1961 and 1990 records. The difference between these two values is the anomaly. The result is that January 2014 was 1.9°C warmer than the long term average.

Tuesday 03 February 2015

A Garden of Two Halves

After a cold, frosty night and a cloudy start to the day, the afternoon turned out to be really sunny. This time of the year our pond at the back of the house doesn't get any sunshine. Neither do the bird baths, well not enough to melt the ice. The result is it stays cold and frosty all day. In the afternoon it felt pleasant in the sunshine at the front of the house but round the back there was still ice around on the pond and bird baths. The bird baths had been deiced with hot water earlier in the morning.

At the front of the house it was a completely different story. Some lovely afternoon sunshine made it feel like a spring had arrived. For the first time this year the sun felt like it had some warmth in it. Sue made a start tidying up the front border. I decided on collecting some litter that had blown into the garden in the January gales.

We had quite a collection, a couple of supermarket plastic bags tangled in our magnolia tree, what looked like a pizza container amongst the leaf litter and for good measure some felting from someone's shed roof.

Of course tidying up under the magnolia tree caused a bit of a commotion amongst the local bird population as they were all still busy finishing up the last scraps of the day’s food and didn’t take too kindly to being interrupted by me. Apart from one rather persistent female blackbird who carried on regardless.

The forecast for the rest of the week is for duller weather which is a pity. I don’t mind a bit of frost if it means some lovely sunny weather through the daytime.

Wednesday & Thursday 04/05 February 2015

Bare Necessities

The rather cold spell continued on Wednesday and Thursday but some pleasant sunshine made Wednesday a much nicer day.

For the last few weeks we’ve been expecting a delivery of soft fruit and some roses from Ashridge Nurseries. As the weather’s not been too good the order has been delayed but the nursery has kept me updated about delays in delivery and finally notifying me when the plants were lifted, packed and ready for delivery.

As notified by e-mail the package containing our plants arrived first thing on Thursday morning. It contained strawberry, raspberry and rose plants. All these came bare rooted which means we get the plants much cheaper than if we bought them all container grown a little later on in the season.

This is how our strawberry plants Royal Sovereign looked once they had been unpacked. Whilst it’s good to get these at a reasonable price my problem is I haven’t got their new bed prepared on the plot. I suspect our ground is much too wet to dig in the middle of February. Digging our heavy clay soil when it’s too wet can do more harm than good so the plants needed to be potted up for a few weeks.

Our strawberries are now potted up and in their new home until their bed down on the plot is prepared. Once I think they’ve got established in their pots I will move them from the greenhouse into the cold frame as I don’t want them to put on any soft growth due to early warmth in the greenhouse. That might be wishful thinking as it was only 5°C (41°F) in the greenhouse on Thursday afternoon as I potted the plants up.

The raspberry canes (Glen Ample) have got some of the longest roots I’ve seen. These too have been put into some temporary accommodation for a few weeks until they can be planted out.

Our three new climbing roses have been heeled in next to the three bought last autumn. As soon as conditions improve I’ll be aiming to get these planted in their allocated spots in the garden.

As I heeled in the roses, it started to drizzle a little bit. It was dull, cloudy and cold and I was certainly ready for a little bit of indoor warmth and a cup of coffee. It wasn’t really a gardening sort of a day either in the greenhouse or outside. All that’s required now is some decent weather to get the ground in a fit condition for planting.

It’s good to tell we’re starting off new plants in the greenhouse as the weather has put in its coldest night of the year. The Met Office warnings of snow and ice have gone but that didn’t stop the temperature dropping to -2.7°C (27°F) as dawn broke on Friday morning.

Next to arrive will be our seed potatoes but their arrival will need a blog post to themselves.

Friday 06 February 2015

More New Arrivals

Friday morning started out as the coldest day of the year at -2.7°C (27°F) but the bonus was that the clear skies which gave us a keen frost also gave us a lovely sunny day. It was the lowest temperature since the final day of last year when the temperature fell to -3.3°C (26.1°F).

This year we ordered our seed potatoes from Kings Seeds as part of an allotment order. It was the first time we’d used Kings Seeds for potatoes even though we’ve been happy with the seeds they’ve supplied through their allotment association scheme which means that we get our seeds for around half their normal price. Their seed potatoes prices are more inline with other Internet suppliers.

Our seeds arrived a week or so ago but the potatoes were to be dispatched at a later date. Sue deals with all the orders from Kings for our allotment site and late last week she received an e-mail from Kings Seeds to inform us that our potatoes were ready to be dispatched. On Tuesday the courier delivered a parcel marked as 2 of 2 explaining that parcel 1 of 2 must be coming from a different depot and it would probably arrive on Wednesday. We didn’t get a delivery on Wednesday and, a little concerned, Sue contacted Kings Seeds on Thursday to inform them that one package had gone missing, (or at least hadn’t arrived as expected).

Sue was asked to confirm exactly which varieties of potatoes had been received and was told that the problem would be sorted out.  Our package of seed potatoes arrived the next day, on Friday. This looks to be a replacement rather than the original delivery so somehow the courier appears to have lost a package containing 30kg of seed potatoes. I have to say that I was very impressed by the prompt and efficient way in which Kings handled the problem. The potatoes look to be good quality and have gone into the garage to be kept cool and dark until I decide they can be placed into the greenhouse for chitting prior to planting sometime in April or early May.