December 2016                                                                                             Back to November           


Thursday 1st

-1 to 9 to 6°C. 3.46kWh 1.1kW max. Frosty start but soon warmed up in the hazy sunshine and SW breeze to quite a pleasant day for the start of Winter.


The begonias have died back so cleaned most of the soil off the corms and stored between sheets of newspaper in crate in the conservatory to protect them from frost.

I noticed that the layer of shredding at the bottom of the cold frame I built for the pots of onions was growing a little bit more fungal mycelium than I expected, probably because is was fresh and quite warm. It is probably harmless but I don't really want it to find its way into the pots so we put a layer of soil on top of it about 2cm deep and then put the pots back on top.


Friday 2nd

6 to 8 to 4°C. 299Wh. A very grey day.


Continued to cut back the north hedge.


Saturday 3rd

5 to 6 to 2°C. 427Wh. Another very dull day.


More hedge cutting and shredding.


Sunday 4th

-4 to 6 to -1°C. 3.54kWh 900W max. Cold  night followed by a bright but chilly day.


Cut some more of the north hedge.


Monday 5th

-3 to 3 to 0 to 3°C. 1.23kWh 400W max. A very cold day with a milky sun and an easterly breeze. After dark the breeze moved to the south, clouded over and started to come warmer.


Very cold for working outside but did manage to prepare some of the debris we cut yesterday for shredding. When it dropped below 1°C I retreated into the 6°C polytunnel to start mixing potting compost for the bulbs I ordered last week.


Tuesday 6th

2 to 7 to 9°C. 321Wh. Very dull with heavy clouds but no rain and a southerly breeze. It slowly got warmer as the day progressed, even into the evening. Mild but damp weather is forecast for the next few days.


Finished mixing the potting compost. Now all I need are the bulbs which hopefully will come in the next few days.


Wednesday 7th

9 to 16 to 13°C. 1.58kWh 800W max. Mainly cloudy with a few brighter periods in the afternoon. You could feel the warm southerly breeze when you went outside; very unusual for December. It was actually warmer outside than inside the house in the afternoon. To think that two days ago I was dressed in a thermal vest, thick shirt, arran sweater and an insulated jacket with the hood up still feeling cold. Today it felt warm with half the layers of clothing.


A warning about a new strain of bird flu in the near continent prompted us to try and make the chicken run wild bird proof, placing wire mesh round the bottom of the hen house to stop them going under it to get inside the run which is already secure with mesh fencing and a polyester net over the top. For the next few weeks we are advised to keep the hens in the enclosed part rather than roaming over most of the kitchen garden. They don't like it but they will get used to it and won't suffer if we provide them with some overgrown cabbages to give them their greens.


While they are shut it we started moving the  grass mats we planted in the summer down to the bottom of their outer run. Once this is established they will have a constant supply of grass to eat.


Thursday 8th

12 to 15 to 9°C. 1.72kWh 1.2kW max. Some heavy rain overnight but it had cleared by the morning and came quite sunny for a while around lunchtime. Still very mild for December.


The bulbs came yesterday afternoon so spent most of this afternoon placing them in 7.5L pots. They are mainly tulips and hyacinths but also some miniature narcissus which were a free gift.


Friday 9th

9 to 14 to 9°C. 92Wh. A mild very dull and damp day though it didn't actually rain till late afternoon and then heavier in the evening.


Continued to plant the bulbs.


Saturday 10th

9 to 10 to 5°C. 228Wh. More rain overnight then another dark day with some more rain in the afternoon and evening.


Finished planting bulbs and started tidying up the chrysanthemums, removing the canes and ties and cutting back the stems. They have plenty of new growth so I shouldn't have any problems taking lots of cuttings next spring and getting rid of these old leggie plants which I couldn't reproduce this year because of my hip operation.


Sunday 11th

3 to 9 to 4°C. 680Wh 120W max. Still mainly cloudy and cooler now that the breeze has returned to the west.


Continued tidying up the chrysanthemums.


Monday 12th

-2 to 7 to 5°C. 108Wh. Cold clear night but clouded over by dawn to another dark damp day.


I have  nearly finished the chrysanthemums. Hopefully this weather will improve so we can work outside.


Tuesday 13th

5 to 8 to 12°C. 204Wh. Another dark damp day, coming warmer after dark as the wind moved to the south again.


Wednesday 14th

9 to 11 to 6°C. 1.4kWh 800W max. A much brighter day with even some sunshine around lunchtime.


Dry and bright so back to chipping and shredding. There is now around 10cm of shreddings over most of the polytunnel surface. Quite a lot of cypress and laurel so it smells nice too.


Thursday 15th

7 to 10 to 7°C. 452Wh 100W max. Started off quite bright but became very dark by mid-afternoon and started to rain around 4pm, continuing intermittently into the evening.


Not feeling too good today with the usual symptoms but managed to complete tidying up the chrysanthemums, finishing with this years cuttings, and then finally cut back the pots of fuchsia.


Friday 16th

8 to 9 to 6°C. 1.25kWh 500W max. Misty start with a brighter though still cloudy period around midday before coming damp and misty again in the afternoon.


Back to cutting back the north hedge. This is as very big job. It is actually two hedges with a ditch running between them and the easiest way to get at it is from the ditch since the side which faces the garden has wire mesh running along it to protect the chicken run and the side which faces the field has sheep mesh.


Saturday 17th

6 to 9 to 4°C. 793Wh 200W max. Misty start and remained dull and cloudy for most of the day before the mist returned late in the afternoon.


Sunday 18th

-1 to 7 to 5°C 1.80kWh 600W max. Cold misty start but brightened up to quite a sunny morning and afternoon before coming misty again in the evening.


Monday 19th

3 to 7 to 5°C. 271Wh. Misty morning followed by a cloudy afternoon and then back to mist in the evening.


Cleared more of the northern hedge. The piles of large branches and smaller branches and twigs is growing again and will need cutting up for next years firewood or shredding before I can do much more clearing.


Tuesday 20th

4 to 6 to 5°C. 1.8kWh 500W max. Mainly sunny but with a strong and chilly southerly breeze.


Sorted the debris from the last few days hedge clearing, taking the twigs and small branches of for shredding and the thicker parts to stack  and dry out over the summer. Also pruned the plum and pear trees; they were getting much too tall and wide after not getting pruned at all last year.


Wednesday 21st

5 to 8 to 1°C. 446Wh 150W max. The shortest day was cloudy and damp with a heavy shower around midday and a little brighter for a time afterwards.


Sowed broad bean Aquadulce in 9 cell trays and placed them in the propagator at 8-10°C to germinate. I used to sow them outside in October to overwinter but they nearly always succumbed, not to the cold but to the damp winters we get nowadays since global warming really got going. This way I can keep them going in pots under cover and plant them out when there is more light and hopefully more sun rather than continuous cloud.


This weather is not good for anything. Even the leeks, which are a plant which is supposed to grow in damp conditions, are suffering from lack of light and there aren't going to be any sprouts ready to eat at Christmas. The other staple brassica, kale, is bolting because it is too warm and I am beginning to wonder if the spring cabbage will do the same.


The raspberries also need some attention but this has nothing to do with the weather. They have started to spread outwards from their original rows to a point where they were difficult to pick this year. So we decided to cut them all down, not just the old canes, dig them up and plant the best ones back in neat rows possibly in a different part of the fruit cage. The usual advice is to get new disease free stock every few years but there is nothing wrong with them; they are if anything growing too well. They might fruit a little later but that could be a good thing; often they overlap with the strawberries and the combination is too many to eat or turn into jam or freeze.


Thursday 22nd

-2 to 9 to 4°C 2.16kWh 800W max. Frosty sunny start and stayed sunny all day apart from a short period in the morning.


Started digging over the raspberry bed, keeping the best of the clumps for replanting, though I still haven't decided where. At this time of year they will survive 'bare-rooted' for several weeks if necessary. Apart from cleaning out the old stems and roots I can also try and get rid of all the convolvulus which has also infested this part of the fruit cage.


Friday 23rd

5 to 11 to 5°C. 293Wh. Wet and windy though much worse in Scotland which got the centre of Storm Barbara.


Saturday 24th

6 to 11 to 10°C. 624Wh 150W max. Cloudy with a strong south-westerley wind.


Started digging up the bed of early strawberries in the fruit cage, keeping the newly rooted runners to pot on and keep for planting next year along with some I did earlier. I have decided to move the raspberries across to replace them and then plant these new strawberries where the raspberries were and also create some fresh brassica beds. Hopefully before this while the soil is empty I can dig in some compost as well.


Sunday 25th Christmas Day

11 to 14 to 11°C. 327Wh. Another very grey day with less wind and very mild for late December.


Had our usual quiet day with the rare departure from our mainly vegetarian diet, roasting a free range cockerel with the usual trimmings though the sprouts were bought.


Monday 26th

5 to 7 to 2°C. 2.73kWh 800W max. A very different day; sunny, colder and still.


Continued clearing the first strawberry bed in the morning. In the afternoon we went for a walk round the back lanes which we usually try to do on Boxing Day. Last year I was on crutches. This year my new hip is working fine.


Tuesday 27th

-3 to 4 to -2°C. 1.23kWh 400W max. Cold and still with some sunny intervals.


Too cold for grubbing out strawberries and convolvulus roots so did some shredding instead.


Wednesday 28th

-4 to 2 to -1°C. 569Wh 100W max. Frosty foggy start and remained damp and misty all day.


Thursday 29th

-3 to 0 to 1°C. 2.5kWh 900W max. Frosty foggy start and remained foggy all day with hoar frost on the trees, hedges and even on the fruit cage netting, but it was the kind of fog which was only a few feet deep. Above that it was sunny, as you can see from the electricity generation.


Very slippery underfoot so decided not to venture outside. Warmer weather is forecast for the weekend.


Friday 30th

-2 to 6 to 9°C. 1.86kWh 800W max. Frosty foggy start but soon started to warm up and clear with some bright sunshine in the morning before clouding over again.


Back to cutting back the northern hedge.


Saturday 31st

4 to 8 to 5°C. 127wH. A very grey day.


Continued cutting the northern hedge. It hasn't been done properly for a long time so it isn't a job just for loppers and a small bow saw. It was originally a mixed hedge of mainly holly, willow, hazel, hawthorne and blackthorn and some of them have grown into quite large trees, especially the hawthorne and holly so I also need the chainsaw. The good part is that the pile of logs for next years firewood is getting big enough to last most of next winter; there is already enough dry wood in the store to last the rest of this winter.


 New Years Day 2017