December 2011                                                                                    Back to November


Thursday 1st

3 to 9 to 2°C. Sunny intervals. NW wind.


Continued laying the hedge. The main section is now complete with 146 plants in 29m. Started the bottom section near the road.


Friday 2nd

-1 to 6 to 9°C. Clear frosty start but cloudy by mid-morning, slowly becoming warmer.


The Met Office says this was the next warmest and driest autumn on record. It certainly seems like that to me. But it seems that winter may be finally coming next week.


We have nearly finished laying the hedge. There are 19 spare plants which I will grow on in 7.5L pots for the time being, They might be needed as replacements.


Saturday 3rd

4 to 10 to 6°C. Sunny intervals. Blustery NW wind.


Cleaned up the begonia corms still in their pots in the polytunnel and placed them in box to take them into the conservatory. Some of them are several years old and 15cm across. it would be a shame to lose them to the frost. The gloxinias are already in the conservatory just beginning to die back so these will be rested soon as well.


Finished filling in the hedge trench. Next we planted the Commice pear tree in the newly cleared area near the road and moved one of the apple trees here as well. It was too close to the Russet and never grew very well in its shade. Put some of the mycorrhizal fungi, left over from planting the hedge, around their roots.


Sunday 4th

4 to 7 to 3°C. Started off quite bright bu became increasingly gloomy and miserable by lunchtime with some light rain showers in the afternoon. Then cleared after nightfall, feeling quite cold.


Dug a narrrow trench in front of the new hedge and placed the spare bluebell bulbs, taken from the bed in front of the conservatory last month, into it. Retreated into the polytunnel as the weather deteriorated, emptying the pots from which I had taken the begonias and other bulbs, using the soil, and the pots, for the spare privet and viburnum plants.


After lunch made a start on clearing the rest of the polytunnel, starting with the tomatoes.


Monday 5th

2 to 4 to -1°C. Broken cloud with a cold westerly wind making it feel more like -2°C. Saw a few snow flakes while on my bike ride at lunchtime. Winter is definitely here!


Finished clearing the tomato, aubergine and pepper plants from the polytunnel. Left the chillies which are more hardy and can survive a little frost. If the winter is mild they may even survive till next spring.

Spent the rest of the afternoon starting to mulch the new hedge, trying to keep warm.


Turned the heater in the conservatory to its frost setting.


Tuesday 6th

-2 to 5 to 4°C. Frosty start but less wind so actually felt warmer. Light rain in the evening.


Finished mulching the new hedge. Now all we have to do is wait till next Spring to see how well it grows.


Wednesday 7th

5 to 4 to 1°C with a high westerlt wind-chill. Clear and frosty by late evening.


Kept warm by splitting logs most of the afternoon.


Had our first brussel sprouts of the season. There should be some brocolli by now but, despite them being strong healthy plants there are no signs of any flowers on either variety. There is plenty of kale, including new shoots on the spring kale which never bolted so we left it growing. Very succulent. Trouble is Pat doesn't like kale. We also have celery until the first hard frost and enough parsnips and swedes to last us well into next spring.


Thursday 8th

1 to 11 to 2°C. Wet and very windy, though nothing like as bad as Scotland where wind was gusting well above 100mph.


A day to stay inside and start deciding on my seed order.


Friday 9th

2 to 7 to -1°C. Sunny intervals with wintery showers.


Dug over the remaining parts of the polytunnel. I have decided that, throughout the winter, I am going to move water from the water butts into the polytunnel whenever they are more than half full. Hopefully this will wet the soil enough to need less watering in the spring and early summer, seeing as the last three years we have had very little rain during that time. Made a start by moving 28 large watering cans full; around 350L.


Saturday 10th

-3 to 1 to 4°C. Clear and frosty start, only warming up after dusk.


Spent most of the morning ordering seeds, potatoes and onions for next year. Kept warm in the afternoon splitting more wood.


Sunday 11th

6 to 7 to 1°C. Very grey miserable day with intermittent rain during daylight hours, clearing late afternoon.


Monday 12th

-1 to 4 to 7°C. Clear and frosty morning but clouded over by lunchtime and then became wet and windy. The forecast is more of the same.


Tuesday 13th

1 to 7 to 1°C. Cleared overnight to a frosty start but clouded over by lunchtime with a blustery westerly wind and intermittent showers of rain, sleet and hail, including while on my bike ride (hail hurts!!)


Moved another 500L of water from the butts to soak into the polytunnel beds.


Wednesday 14th

0 to 5 to 0°C. This morning the drive and the paths were covered in very slippery glazed ice. It thawed during the morning with some sunny intervals and only a light breeze. Snow is forecast for later in the week.


Took advantage of the quieter weather to give the Bramley apple tree a hard prune. This is well over 100 years old and still produces a large number of good sized apples every year; much more than we can ever manage to eat even though they usually keep well till March. It was getting rather tall in the middle and some of the largest and soundest fruit were impossible to reach this year. So time to cut out the middle stem again and trim back some of the side branches too.


Thursday 15th

0 to 6 to 1°C. Fairly bright and with only a slight breeze.


Back to splitting wood for the stove. Looks like we might need quite a lot in the next few days if the forecast is correct. Nothing like as cold as it was last year though.


Friday 16th

-1 to 3 to 0°C. A miserable dull day with heavy dark clouds and sleet showers.


Saturday 17th

-2 to 3 to 0°C. Another miserable day.


Added some more photos to the new hedge page and then washed scoured the ink of some plastic plant labels so I can use them again next year.


Sunday 18th

- 2 to 3 to -1°C. A much brighter day with a cloudless skyv most of the daylight hours though rain just before dawn falling on the frozen ground made the drive and paths very slippery till nearly lunchtime and all day where the sun never reached.


Went for a refreshing walk round the back lanes in the afternoon.


Monday 19th

-2 to 2 to 5°C. Another dull day with heavy rain till late afternoon. I moved 500L of water from the water butts yesterday and they are overflowing again!! The forecast is better for the rest of the week.


Tuesday 20th

2 to 6 to 5°C. Cloudy but feeling milder.


Moved another 500L of water and then started tidying up and cutting back the chrysanthemums in their pots in the polytunnel. Some of them are already producing some healthy new shoots so, unlike this year, I should have no trouble raising new cuttings in the Spring.


Moved 3 barrowloads of mulch into the chicken run. That should keep the hens happy for a few days and help to increase the fertility of the soil even more. Onions will be going here next year.


Wednesday 21st

3 to 14 to 7°C. A warm sunny morning but, as happens when the sun shines on very damp ground, it clouded over by lunchtime. Still feeling very mild for the time of year though.


Continued to tidy up the chrysanthemums, fuschias and geraniums in their pots in the polytunnel.


Thursday 22nd

3 to 13 to 9°C. The shortest day started clear with only a few thin clouds covering the sunrise and it stayed sunny till late in the afternnon, and very mild.


I bought a water butt pump to help move the water into the polytunnel. Spent half the afternoon setting it up, which was longer than it takes to move 40 watering cans full. It doesn't flow as fast as we expected but the polytunnel is around 2 metres higher than the house. Now have set it up it may save some time. More heavy rain is forecast for tomorrow.


Friday 23rd

9 to 5 to 2°C. Poured down all day with a blustery wind, slowly getting colder as the day progressed.



Saturday 24th

0 to 10 to 8°C. Cold frosty start but with blustery light showers most of the day.


Pumped another 1000L of rainwater into the polytunnel. It is still soaking it up.


Sunday 25th

8 to 12 to 12°C. Strong blustery SW wind with clouds racing across the sky. Very strange weather for Christmas day.


Had our usual Christmas lunch for two but didn't go for our usual walk afterwards. It was too windy and I am suffering from a cold and a very sore throat.


Monday 26th

9 to 13 to 9°C. Even milder than yesterday, especially as there was less wind.


Turned out some of the pots of second crop potatoes. Not as many as we have had in the past but very nice for new potatoes with the cold chicken.


Went for a walk round the back lanes in the aftenoon. Some of the hedges have newly opened leaves and we saw red campion and dandelion flowers. There are also daffodils coming through on the verges, the full sized ones not just the miniature narcissi which you expect to see coming through at this time of year. Very different to the snow and frost last December.


Tuesday 27th

6 to 13 to 8°C. Started really sunny but clouded over by lunchtime.


Finished tidying the chrysanthemums. Moved some more mulch into the chicken run. The hens think I am giving them a treat (lots of scratching, pecking juicy morsels and contented clucking) but actually they are doing me a favour keeping the weeds out and mixing lots of organic matter and their droppings into what will be the onion bed next Spring.


Wednesday 28th

5 to 9 to 4°C. Grey cloud with a few short sunny intervals. Cold westerly wind.


Kept warm sawing up some more wood for the stove.


Thursday 29th

4 to 8 to 5°C. Wet and windy from early morning to late afternoon and then even windier with a wind chill of at least -5.  Not a day for working outside.


Friday 30th

3 to 6 to 10°C. Clear morning but raining by lunchtime and continued most of the afternoon. feeling milder with a southerly wind.


Saturday 31st

9 to 10 to 9°C. Overcast with spots of rain in the southerly wind.


Despite the damp weather managed to saw up some more of the wood from the hedge.

Cleared somewhat by midnight but the New Years Day fireworks in the distance were considerably less than last year when they were all the way round. This year just one display south of Wem - you could hear them but only a few went high enough into the sky so it was mainly just flashes. Looks like the austerity is causing people to cut back even on fireworks.


 January 2012