APRIL 2002                                                                                                                                   Back to March


Sunday 1st

-1 to 15 to 3°C. Frosty start but warmed up with the sun in an almost cloudless sky.


Planted out the Karmazyn and Green Longpod broadbeans started in trays in the polytunnel and sowed rows of peas. Excellenz and Early Onward next to them.


Monday 2nd   Pat's Birthday

1 to 11 to 7°C.  Sunny start but soon clouded over with intermittent heavy showers by late afternoon, continuing into the evening.


The electricians came to connect the solar panels to the electricity supply. They didn't switch it on till 4pm so we don't really know yet how it is performing, especially as the weather was very dull by then.


Tuesday 3rd

5 to 9 to 3°C. Rained overnight and again during the afternoon. Very dull generating only 3.3Kwh electricity. There was one brighter spell when the sun almost broke through the clouds. The output of the panels shot up to 1.25Kw for that short period showing their potential for when we get back to weather like that last week.


So much rain fell that the conservatory water butt was full to overflowing so moved most of the water to the 5 butts draining the main roof. I don't want to waste any of it just in case we get a dry spell like last April and May. I definitely think the weather is getting more unpredictable. This makes it difficult to plan when to sow seeds and plant out plant them out when they are ready.


Sowed most of the brassica seeds which, of course, are less dependant on the weather to germinate; it should always be warm enough in the polytunnel without the use of the propagator. Early and mixed broccoli, brussel sprout Bedford Fill Basket, Golden Acre Cabbage; also Bristol Onion.


Wednesday 4th

1 to 4 to 3°C. A really miserable day. Snowed overnight and then dark clouds with heavy rain showers and blustery wind. So dark the solar panels reached a maximum of 150W and produced a total of 700Wh. But there is always a silver lining - the water butts are all full = 2100L. Looks like we won't have the problem we had last year wth insufficient water for the plants in the polytunnel.


Thursday 5th

3 to 8 to 2°C. 4kWh max 1.25kW. A much better day with thinning cloud, clearing by nightfall, but with a cold northerly wind.


Planted the rest of the onions, Red Baron and Hytech, and the Calabrese; this under fleece for the time being. Cur down the giant grasses as new growth is now coming from the bottom.


Sarah came this evening for a few days on her own while Ian looks after the boys. A rest for her and a treat for us.


Friday 6th

-2 to 9 to 7°C. 4kWh max 1.2kW. Clear and frosty overnight and sunny intervals early morning but then clouded over though not as dark as Wednesday. Drizzle in the evening.


Went for a walk round the back roads in the morning. The hedgerows are full of white blackthorn flowers and the birds were singing but it didn't feel very springlike with the overcast sky and cold northerly breeze.


Back to moving more of the compost heaps, this time 3 into 4 and 2 into 3. The tomato seedlings are getting too big for the propagator but I don't dare move them elsewhere in the polytunnel while it is so cold and dull.


Saturday 7th

7 to 9 to 8°C. 3.2kWh max 1.3kW. The temperature range tells you what the weather was like. Another dull day with some light drizzle, a few short brighter intervals and some blue sky late in the afternoon.


Decided to risk moving the tomatoes into the inner box in the polytunnel. They are getting too big and drawn in the propagator and there is no frost forecast for the next few days, just the same dull wet weather. In any case it is time to sow the squashes in the propagator and they need 25°C to germinate - too hot for the tomatoes. Courgette Floridor, winter squash Baby Pan, Crown Prince and Sweet Dumpling, butternut Hercules and Squashkin and summer squash Patty Pan. Most of these keep really well; we are still eating the Crown Prince and butternut harvested last September.


Sunday 8th

8 to 14 to 8. 3.2kWh max 0.9kW. A slightly better day but still overcast and a few spots of drizzle.


Made a start on clearing the land between the polytunnel and the south hedge, starting with cutting down that hedge which has been neglected for many years, partly because the shed we have now dismantled was blocking the way. Most of the hedge is really small trees 4 to 8m high which block the sun into the polytunnel, especially in winter and early spring. I intend to reduce it to a more manageable 1.5m. The task is made more difficult because I don't want them to fall on the polytunnel skin with the risk of it being punctured. So it will be necssary to cut the taller trees from the top down a couple of metres at a time.


Monday 9th Easter Monday and typical Bank Holiday weather.

7 to 12 to 7°C. 2.6kWh max 500W. Overcast with long heavy showers.Cleared to light drizzle by late afternoon.


Unlike this time last year the water butts are overflowing so when there was a drier period gave everything in the polytunnel, mainly the potatoes and chrysanthemum,s a good soak just to use some of it up. Better than letting it go to waste.


Tuesday 10th

3 to 14 to 4°C. 8kWh max 1.9kW. A very different day with long sunny intervals and white clouds but with a cold wind making it feel colder than the thermometer suggested.


The first day where the potential of the solar panels could be seen. Averaged around 1.5kWh from 10am till 3pm and still running at 500W at 5pm. For a maximum 2.25kW rating that is pretty good for early April with only partly clear skies.


Back to clearing the hedge and the area south of the polytunnel. Sowed Marigold Naughty Marrietta and Bonita and green Nicotinias in the propagator.


Wednesday 11th

2 to 14 to 6°C. 5.3kWh max 2.3kW. Started sunny but clouded over by late morning with a heavy rainstorm by lunchtime with thunder and hail. More short heavy showers in the afternoon. clearing by evening.


When the sun was out in the morning the solar panels were producing lots of electricity. For a short time this rose to 2.3kW which is more than their stated rating!! I wonder how much this will climb to in a sunny day in June or July?


Thursday 12th

4 to 12 to 3°C. 7.4kWh max 2.1kW. Sunny intervals with several heavy showers during morning. Still with a cold northerly breeze.


An ideal time, while it is showery, to treat the grass with lawn sand. The damp weather last year caused moss to grow , smothering the grass. Pricked out the rest of the peppers in cell trays.


The plum and cherry trees are in full blossom and the pear trees soon will be. Hopefully the frost forecast for the weekend nights won't cause any damage.


Friday 13th

-1 to 14 to 6°C. 8.5kWh max 2.1kW. Cold clear frosty start becoming cloudy by lunchtime. Feeling warmer because there was less breeze.


I continue to clear the land and cut the hedge behind the polytunnel. Pat continues to shred what I am, cutting out.


Saturday 14th

3 to 12 to 2°C. 10.7kWh 2.1kw max. Clear start becoming cloudy by lunchtime with a few spots of rain in the afternoon. Cold northerly breeze.


The second early potatoes, Rubesse and Kestrel, and early main King Edward VII planted out in the garden are through so removed the woven polythene. Needed to cover them with fleece because there is still a risk of frost. The main crop Vales Sovereign and Golden Wonderb aren't showing yet.


Now the scaffolding has finally gone from fitting the solar panels I was able to dig over the soil in front of the house in preparation for planting more broad beans and sowing parsnips.


Sunday 15th

-1 to 1 to 2°C. 10.6kWh 2.2kW max. Clear frosty start. Sunny intervals most of the day with thin cloud but still with that cold northerly breeze.


Completed cutting back the hedge behind the polytunnel. Once the debris is cleared for shredding I can start attempting to clear the ivy and weeds from the ground.



Monday 16th

-1 to 14 to 7°C. 12.2kWh 2.1kW max. Clear cold start with sun in a cloudless sky till nearly mid-day. Then the cold breeze returned and it became overcast again. Even so this was the best day yet for the solar panels, generating 9kWh before is clouded over. The potential for 15kWh is possible, maybe even 20kWh in June and July?


Sowed three rows of parsnips in the usual place next to the Bramley, in a shallow run covering with spent seed compost as usual, then covered with fleece till it germinates. the Crown Prince squash is now too big for the propagator so transplanted into 4in pots to go in the fleece covered 'box' within the polytunnel. The rest of the squashes will need the same in the next few days.


Looks like the weather may be wet for the rest of the week so took the opportunity to give everything in the polytunnel a good soak with water from the butts which will soon be replaced. Very different to this time last year when we had run out of rain water.


Tuesday 17th

5 to 13 to 5°C. 10.4kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny intervals and April showers. Feeling warmer as the wind moved to the SW.


Continued to clear behind the polytunnel.


Wednesday 18th

5 to 10 to 5°C. 4.1kWh 1.3W max. Wet and windy with a few brighter intervals.


The Gazania plugs arrived so I transplanted these into 12 cell trays. Started tramsplanting the brassica seedlings also into 12 cell trays. 5 of each making 60 plants altogether though I only expect to use at most 40 of these. Early broccoli and Yellow Acre cabbage.


Thursday 19th

4 to 11 to 4°C. 4.8kWh 1.7kW max. April showers, some of them heavy with hail.


The peas are through so removed the woven black plastic and replaced it with wire mesh covers to prevent the magpies pulling them up.


Friday 20th

1 to 13 to 3°C. 9.5kWh 1.9kW max. Clear start but clouded over with a few sunny intervals and short light showers.


Finished pricking out the brassicas, Brussel Sprout Bedford Fillbasket, Cabbage Minicole, Mixed Autumn Broccoli. Moved the rest of the squashes inti 4in pots.


Pat went on what she called a 'Dandelion Hunt' before they seeded. The younger leaves went to the hens.


Saturday 21st

1 to 14 to 5°C. 8.6kWh 2.2kW max. Clear cold sunny start but clouded over by lunchtime with heavy showers in the afternoon. One of those days when it seems to have cleared but as soon as you go outside it pours down again.


Continued to clear the ivy, nettles, brambles and other weeds from the ground behind the polytunnel.


Sunday 22nd

4 to 14 to 5°C. 6.4kWh 2.5kW max. Sunny start but soon clouded over with short sunny intervals and longer heavy showers during the rest of the day.


There is a big enough space cleared to move the potatoes from the polytunnel so while it was sunny first thing and with no rain forecast till the afternoon decided to spray the remaining nettles behind the polytunnel with glyphosate as a surer way to ensure they won't grow back.  Unfortunately the forecast was wrong but hopefully it will have been adsorbed before it was washed off.


Dodging the showers I managed to move most of the early potatoes outside during the afternoon.


Monday 23rd

5 to 16 to 6°C. 10.4kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny start but clouded over to short sunny intervals but only one short, but heavy, shower.


Finished moving out the potatoes. Pat managed to mow the grass while it was dry.


Tuesday 24th

2 to 14 to 4°C. 7.6kWh 2.5kW max. Sunny intervals with heavy clouds but stayed dry.


The maincrop potatoes, Vales Sovereign and Golden Wonder, are through so removed the woven black polythene. Also took the fleece off the salad bed and sowed some more lettuce and radish.


Noticed two baby rabbits in the flower garden. At the moment they only seem interested in eating the grass on the lawn and nibbling young dandelion leaves. If only they would contine like that they would be welcome to stay. Trouble is they might start to take an interest in the salad crops and the brassicas. So covered the lettuce, beetroot and salad leaves with wire mesh Vs and checked the rabbit netting all round the fruit cage is secure.


Pricked out the basil and marigolds into 20 and 12 cell trays.


Wednesday 25th

4 to 10 to 8°C. 2.7kWh 1.2kW max. Very wet and very windy all day apart from a very short period in the late afternoon.


Not a day for doing anything in the garden, inside or out. And there is more of this weather still to come, probably right into the weekend Frown


Thursday 26th

7 to 15 to 8°C. 4.5kWh 2.6kW max. Rained most of the morning, brightening by lunchtime. But soon clouded over again with heavy showers well into the evening.


Moved 900L of water from the butts into the polytunnel - no sense in letting it run to waste.


Transplanted the fuchsias into 5.5in pots and removed weeds from the sunner bedding plants in the cell trays. By this time last year I was considering moving them out to harden off!!


The glyphosate seems to we working on the nettles I sprayed on Sunday so the rain musn't have washed it off before it was adsorbed.


Friday 27th

7 to 9 to 6°C. 2.7kWh 500W max. A miserable day. Overcast with drizzle and heavier showers.


Spent most of the afternoon organising the replacement of the some of the double glazing (30+ years old) so didn't do much outside. It makes sense to do this before fitting external wall insulation to our solid walled house.


Saturday 28th

4 to 12 to 4°C. 7.8lWh 23.kW max. A brighter day with sunny intervals in the morning but feeling cold in the strong NE breeze.


Plenty to do in the polytunnel. pricked out the African Marigolds into 12 cell trays, weeded the pots containing the summer bulbs and corms. Started moving the tomatoes into 5" pots. Normally at this time of year I would plant them straight into the polytunnel border but it isn't warm enough to do that.


Sunday 29th

2 to 4 to 6°C. 670Wh max 200W. Heavy rain all day and still raining late into the evening.


I can't remember rain as heavy as this for as long as this ever. To give some idea how much fell we pumped the water from the butt draining the conservatory and the butt draining the south east roof 3 times each and they still overflowed between doing this. I don't like letting these overflow as the conservatory runns into the septic tank and the south-east roof runs against the side of the house. Didn't bother with the 5 butts draining the rest of the roof since they drain into the ditch if they overflow. The conservatory is approximately 3 x 5 metres so 1mm of rain will produce 15L of water. 3 water butts full, assuming most of the 210L was pumped out each time is around 600L. So that means at least 40mm of rain, probably more since it overflowed between pumping and filled up again after dark!


Monday 30th

5 to 17 to 10°C. 9.6kWh max 2.33kW. Sunny start but clouded over later. The most noticeable change, apart from the absence of rain, was the warm breeze. Becoming humid by nightfall.


Planted out the Manita broad beans, started in trays in the polytunnel. Then finished transplanting the tomatoes into 5" pots.