APRIL 2017                                                                                                      Back to March                   


Saturday 1st

 8 to 12 to 8°C. 3.79kWh 500W max. Cloudy and drizzly damp for most of the day. It brightened up for a short while in the afternoon but this was followed by some heavier rain.


Not a day to work outside but I did pot on some of the seedling tomatoes and dahlias in the polytunnel.

Pat had a day out with Sarah and Kirstin in Birmingham including the stage version of Billy Elliot.

Sunday 2nd.  Pat's birthday, though she never celebrates it, but she did go out yesterday

8 to 14 to 9°C. 8.93kWh 2kW max. Cloudy start but soon came sunny and stayed that way for the rest of the day. No breeze so felt quite warm in the sunshine.


Planted out the rest of the strawberries then mulched them with shreddings before covering them with fleece to encourage them to flower early. This warm weather has caused most of the fruit trees to blossom, plums, pears, cherries but not all the apples. Hopefully we won't get an air frost before they are fertilised.


Later went back filling some more trays to grow wild flower mats and planted some more raspeberry runners in 5L pots.


Monday 3rd

 2 to 15 to 10°C. 10.29kWh 1.9kW max. Clear night so quite cold by dawn then sunny all day but with a chilly wind.

Pat has nearly finished digging the convolvulus out of the raspberry patch and I have finished potting up the runners. Planted out the lobelia and basil seedlings into 12 cell trays and then gave the whole of the polytunnel a good watering.

Tuesday 4th

9 to 12 to 6°C. 10.09kWh 2.0kW max. Another sunny day with a cold northerly wind.


Started to plant the perennials I started as seeds in Autumn 2015 into the new bed running down the side of the drive. I have started with the delphiniums. I also had another tall plant, hollyhocks, they were growing well last week but when I went to start moving them also there was very little left in the pots, just a stump with all the side shoots looking as if they had been cut down with scissors. Looks like the local rabbits like hollyhocks! They had already eaten most of the pansies and bitten the flowers off a lot of the primroses.

I have moved them into the nursery, which has rabbit mesh round it; hopefully some of them will grow again.

Wednesday 5th

 4 to 11 to 7°C. 8.68kWh 1.9kW max. Slightly less sunny and the north-westerly wind was very chilly.


Continued planting down the drive and moving brassica seedlings into cell trays starting with purple and white sprouting and a variety called Monclano which is more like a calabrese or the 'broccoli' they sell in the shops which is really a calabrese. Also the kale and the Golden Acre cabbage.

Thursday 6th

 2 to 11 to 7°C. 4.46kWh 1.3kW max. Cold start then sunny intervals, especially in the afternoon, but stil with a cold northerly wind.


Continued to plant the bed down the side of the drive and move brassica seedlings into cell trays. Pat has finally finished digging the convolvulus out of part of the raspberry patch. I intend to lime it and use it for brassicas instead; that way if there are some convolvulus roots left we can have another go at them next winter.

Friday 7th

 4 to 13 to 7°C. 6.5kWh 1.6kW max. Cold cloudy start with some sunshine by mid-morning and most of the afternoon. The wind has dropped so feels a little warmer.


Continued planting down the drive. I should have finished by Sunday.

Saturday 8th

0 to 19 to 12°C. 11.25kWh 1.8kW max. Clear cold night followed by a clear sunny day.


Finished planting out the bed down the drive but I have still to cover it with shreddings to mulch it and I also want to move polyanthus and primula plants from other parts of the garden, like the other side of the drive, as a front to the border.


When the polytunnel had cooled down from 32°C in the afternoon to a more bearable 24°C moved the four kinds of pepper seedlings, Nosferatu, Cayenne, Californian and mixed hot, into 5cm pots and placed them in the polycarbonate box covered with fleece in case it comes cold again overnight.

Sunday 9th

 6 to 22 to 10°C. 11.12kWh 1.8kW max. Cold start but soon warmed to a sunny day until it started to cloud over around 5pm and temperature dropped almost instantly by several degrees. Tomorrow will be back to normal April weather; we might even get some rain which will be very welcome.


Most of the winter and spring bedding plants, apart from the sweet william, are now finished so spent the first half of the day emptying all the pots of wallflowers and pansies and remixing with well rotted compost to make a potato planting mixture. Then started to move the Abbot super-early potatoes, which have outgrown their original 3L pots into 20L polypots.


Monday 10th

 7 to 11 to 7°C. 6.03kWh 1.5kW max. A much cooler and cloudier day with a chilly northerly wind.


Started moving primulas and polyanthus from the other side of the drive, where there are a lot out of place due to seeding, to the front of the new bed. Even when I have finished this there will probably still be too many on the other side. Ideally we just want one row all the way down both sides of the drive.


Later I went back to moving the Abbot potato plants into 20L polypots.

Tuesday 11th

2 to 13 to 7°C. 8.3kWh 1.7kW max. Variable cloud.


Finished moving the primulas into the front of the bed and started to mulch it.

Wednesday 12th

6 to 12 to 8°C. 3.99kWh 1.9kW max. A mainly cloudy day with a brief period of sunshine just before lunch but later in the afternoon and into the evening there were some light rain showers. Not enough rain to properly water the garden but still welcome.


Continued to move the early potatoes into polypots. I have finished the Abbot and am half way through the Casablanca. Also spent some time watering all the plants in the polytunnel. As usual it is nearly full  with pots of dahlias, fuschias, lilies, chrysanthemums, begonias, potatoes, trays of annual bedding plants, onions and brassicas all waiting to go outside and pots of tomatoes and peppers waiting to be planted inside.

Thursday 13th

 5 to 10 to 8°C. 3.30kWh 1.2kW max. Mainly cloudy with a chilly NW wind.


Finished mulching the new bed and then started to tidy up the vegetable garden, starting by digging out the coarse weeds under and around the fruit trees. The hens do a great job keeping most of the weeds down but they don't like nettles, thistles and docks and, though they nibble the tops off, the dandelion roots need digging out too. They enjoyed catching and eating the worms and millipedes and will get the same chance tomorrow when I start diggin it all over ready for planting the onions and potatoes.

Friday 14th

 7 to 13 to 9°C. 4.92kWh 1.7kW max. Cloudy with a few sunnier periods. Some rain in the late afternoon and evening.


Before it rained managed to dig over about a quarter of the vegetable garden. Then finished potting on the Casablanca potatoes in the polytunnel.

Saturday 15th

5 to 11 to 7°C. 7.78kWh 2kW max. Variable cloud with some sunny periods but a cool northerly wind.


Continued to dig over the vegetable garden which I have nearly finished.

Sunday 16th

 4 to 13 to 8°C. 4.65kWh 1kW max. Sunny start but soon clouded over with some heavy showers in the afternoon and evening.


Finished digging over the vegetable garden before it started to rain. I also had time to dig out and seive 300L of soil from the turf mound and 100L of fully rotted compost and started to mix these in 50L crates with a compost fertiliser base. This is to pot on the annuals which are now growing well in the cell trays. But first the begonia tubers need potting. Unfortunately a lot of them have rotted but there should be enough left for a good display. I really do need to find a way of keeping them safely dry inside the house over winter rather than continously having to buy new ones nearly every year.

Monday 17th

 7 to 10 to 6°C. Cloudy with frequent short showers.


Finished potting on the begonias and started to move last years chrysanthemum plants raised from cuttings into larger 3L pots. Pat weeded the pots of lilies.

Planted out the next batch of Turbo broad beans.


One of the hens, Snowdrop, hasn't been very well for a few days. Just standing looking miserable and off her food; even worms didn't interest her. They are only 2 years old but she isn't scouring and even laid an egg on Saturday and yesterday but today she looked even worse. So we don't think she has an infection but it is possible she might be dead by the morning. This often happens with hens, they just seem to give up the will to live. If she does go then we will need to keep an eye on the other two for a few days to make sure it isn't infectious, and, if they remain healthy, we might get two more point-of-lay youngsters to replace her. Hopefully they will get on with the older ones.

Tuesday 18th

 5 to 11 to 7°C. 12.26kWh 2.0kW max. A very sunny day but not feeling very warm in the northerly breeze.


Spent most of the afternoon rearranging the polytunnel and giving everthing a goo watering. Then potted on some more chrysanthemums.


Snowdrop didn't survive the night so I buried her beneath the new turf mound we have just started to build. The other two seem perfectly healthy and don't seem to be missing her though they did show some concern when she was still alive.

Wednesday 19th

 3 to 14 to 9°C. 7.0kWh 1.8kW max. Variable cloud with a very light breeze so feeling warmer.


Kirstin Mark and Anna paid a quick visit this afternoon on their way back from Aberystwyth. Before and after their visit I continued to pot on the chrysanthemums and then some strawberries started from runners last autumn to give us some earlier fruit.

Thursday 20th

 8 to 13 to 11°C. 3.94kWh 1.2kW max. Damp start and continued cloudy apart from a short spell of sunshine just after lunch.


Continued to weed, pot on and disbud the chrysanthemums.

Friday 21st

10 to 13 to 10°C. 3.02kWh 600W max. Cloudy.


Started removing the coarse weeds, cleavers, dandelions, thistles, nettles, docks and cow parsley from the wild garden and the verges so they don't swamp the less vigorous wild flowers.


Saturday 22nd

7 to 12 to 6°C. 11.13kWh 2.0kW max. Sunny most of the day but still with that cold northerly wind.


Much warmer in the polytunnel so spent most of the day finishing potting on the chrysanthemums and moving the Kestrel potatoes into 20L bags. This cold weather is forecast for several more days so I can't really move anything out yet. There is very little room left and there are more seedlings ready to move into cell trays.

Sunday 23rd

 5 to 14 to 6°C. 8.6kWh 2kW max. Sunny intervals but with the same chilly northerly wind. The forecast is for colder weather coming straight from the Arctic so everything will have to stay in the polytunnel for now.


Planted more bean and broad bean plants in the bed next to the chicken house after making more room by moving the barrier between it and the chicken run. Raked over and limed the area we have cleared in the middle of the raspberries; I intend to grow the sprouts here.

No real rain for some time and none forecast for another few days so needed to water the new perennial bed and the pots of wallflowers, pansies and sweet williams in the beds near the house.

The back to moving the Kestrel potatoes into poybags which I have nearly finished; just 2 more to do but I need to mix some more potting soil.

Monday 24th

7 to 10 to 3°C. 3.84kWh 600W max. Cloudy with a very strong northerly wind and a few spots of drizzle. Cleared in the evening so it could be frosty by the morning.


Finished moving the Kestrel potatoes into polybags and then made a start pricking out some more annuals into cell trays, staring with the Zinnias. Also moved the second sowing of aubergine seedlings into cell trays and sowed Autumn Crown squash and Harrier butternut in cells to go in the propagator.

Everything is covered either with plastic domes or fleece in the polytunnel so hopefully they won't get too cold. This weather is only forecast to last a couple more days before it warms up again from the west.

Tuesday 25th

2 to 9 to 3°C. 11.71kWh 2.1kW max. Cold clear night followed by a sunny morning with a cold northerly wind. In the afternon it stayed sunny except for some short sleety showers.


Continued working in the polytunnel, potting on the early aubergines and the pompom dahlias.

Wednesday 26th

 2 to 9 to 3°C. 10.91kWh 2.1kW max. Another clear night and mainly sunny day which felt a little warmer since the wind had dropped. Milder weather is forecast for the weekend.


Went to see the orthopaedic surgeon who fixed my hip for a follow-up. First they took an X-ray and he was very pleased with this so has signed me off.  Consequently I didn't get much done in the garden this afternoon though I did manage to pull a large number of coarse weeds, nettles and dandelion mostly out of the verge before they swamped the wild flowers which are just starting to flower again.

Thursday 27th

0 to 10 to 8°C. 5.61kWh 1.8kW max. Cold and clear overnight but cloudy by the morning with a few spots of drizzle. I wish it would rain properly. We have less than half our rainwater supplies left, around 1600L, and every time I water in the polytunnel uses about 200L and that is a weekly event at this time of year.

Moved most(80) of the remaining wildflower mats into the wild garden. I have kept back the last 20 to fill spaces on the verge once we have cleared away the coarse weeds and cut back the hedge.


Friday 28th

 7 to 12 to 8°C. 4.67kWh 600W max. Mainly cloudy with some occasional light drizzle and no breeze.


Finished tidying up the verge and placed twenty wild-flower mats in places where those from last year hadn't re-seeded.

Put up a wire mesh fence round the parts of the vegetable garden where we don't want the hens to go. They still have under the fruit trees and by the road where it is very shady and doesn't get much rain but that is mainly where they to anyway.

Moved the Rolet and Crown Prince squash seedlings into 1L pots. Also moved the Bloody Butcher tomato seedlings into 12 cell trays and sowed early, mid-season and late brussel sprouts.

Saturday 29th

6 to 12 to 10°C. 6.18kWh 1.6kW max. Mainly cloudy but with some sunny periods around midday.


Started planting out the onions starting with the overwintered ones. These are in pots and are already quite big with 5 or even 6 shoots so we should have some big bulbs by July when they start to ripen. There are also three more sets planted this spring in cell trays which are also nearly big enough to plant out.


Sunday 30th

 10 to 18 to 10°C. 7.85kWh 1.9kW max. Sunny with some fairweather clouds and much warmer south-easterly wind. Came cloudy later in the afternoon with some light rain in the evening but nothing like enough.


Planted out the rest of the onion sets. Planted the latest batch of broad beans and peas in cell trays. Pat picked the last of the purple sprouting broccoli. We will have to rely on vegetables from the freezer for the next few weeks. I also used the last of the sound Bramley apples in my porridge yesterday.


May 2017