February 2017                                                                                                       Back to January


Wednesday 1st

8 to 11 to 8°C. 1.83kWh 1.2kW max. Heavy rain all night with some large puddles in the surrounding fields by the morning. Mainly cloudy during the day with some sunshine around midday before clouding over again.


If I plant beans or peas directly outside they are all dug up by mice sometimes even before they have pushed though the surface. This is why I always grow them by germinating indoors between wet paper towels and then planting them when the root and the first leaves have grown, in cell trays. These I then place in the polytunnel, the early ones to start with in the propagator at around 8-10°C. This starts them off early and protects them from the mice.


Today I went to look at the ones I planted in trays a few days ago. They are in the propagator and each pair of trays is covered by a transparent plastic dome which fits quite tightly. This is sat on aluminium staging inside the polytunnel. The first one I looked at had some neat holes dug in each cell of the tray, the stems bitten off and the remains of the seed missing. Mice!!


You have to admire their tenacity, climbing up the slippery aluminium frame and squeezing under the dome to get at the peas. Trouble is, now they know how to do this they will be back. Only one tray had been emptied in this way, tomorrow it could be more. So I have put much heavier domes over the trays and put two baited traps on the ground under the staging. We will see tomorrow if this works.


In the afternoon we decided to do some shredding but I had to give up after less than an hour when my operation site started to hurt. Maybe I need some more time to recover.


Thursday 2nd

9 to 12 to 9°C. 766Wh 500W max. Cloudy and wet with a very strong and gusty southerly wind.


The seed potatoes finally came; they had been delayed by the poor weather in Scotland last month. So these have now been placed in trays in the back bedroom with a northerly window to chit.


Friday 3rd

5 to 8 to 2°C. 1.43kWh 300W max. Bright but cloudy in the morning but then the wind moved to the east with showery rain for the rest of the day.


Saturday 4th

0 to 7 to 3°C. 5.03kWh 1.3kW max. The rain cleared overnight with a slight frost by the morning. Then sunny all day tempered by an easterly wind.


Pat did some more shredding while I tidied up in the polytunnel in preparation for sowing seeds, starting with the tomatoes and peppers. Mixed some seed compost and half filled some seed trays, leaving them to soak in readiness.


Sunday 5th

-3 to 5 to 0°C. 2.63kWh 1.3kW max. Cold foggy start clearing by late morning to a sunny afternoon with a cold south-easterly wind.


Pat did even more shredding while I finished tidying up in the polytunnel and repotted the Super Aquadulce broad beans into 12cm pots.


Monday 6th

-5 to 4 to 4°C. 1.18kWh 500W max. Cold foggy start with a brief brighter period in the late morning before heavy rain in the afternoon and evening.


I was going to start sowing seeds in the propagator this week but I think I will leave it until the weather warms up again.


Tuesday 7th

3 to 9 to 3°C. 4.77kWh 1.3kW max. Foggy start but soon cleared to a sunny day before raining late in the afternoon and evening.


I changed my mind about sowing seeds. Looks like we will have sunny days and cold nights for the next few days which means I will only need to heat the propagator during the night.


Plug plants are getting very expensive. Five years ago they were £9.99 for 170, now they are £15.99 or even £16.99. For less than the cost of one tray I have bought 12 different packets of flower seeds. There will  be some cost in heating the propagator but it needs to be on anyway for starting the tomatoes, peppers and squashes. There isn't that much more work and it is more rewarding to raise them from seed.


So for the first lot of seed trays I have sowed some good old fashioned annual flowers; Salvia, Antirrhinum, Lobelia, Dahlia pompon, Nicotinia, 10 week stock and Statice. Also tomatoes Bejbino, Malinowy Henryka and Alicante, and early leek Elefant and Aubergine.


Wednesday 8th

2 to 5 to 0°C 851Wh. Cloudy with frequent light showers. Not what was forecast.


Thursday 9th

1 to 2 to 1°C. 629Wh. Heavy cloud with some light drizzle and a north easterly wind making it feel a lot colder.


Friday 10th

0 to 3 to 1°C. 2.7kWh 800W max. Sunny intervals with a cold easterly wind.


Despite the cold Pat did some more shredding but she has now run out of fuel for the shredder.

There is nothing I can do outside which won't involve strain on my groin, which I am not allowed to do till 6 weeks after the operation. So I spent the afternoon cleaning the writing off hundreds of old plant labels.


Saturday 11th

1 to 3 to 2°C. 288Wh. A miserable day with dark clouds, sleety rain and a bitter north easterly wind.


Sunday 12th

2 to 2 to 3°C. 92Wh. Dull and damp with an even chillier north easterly wind.


Monday 13th

3 to 9 to 3°C. 4.81kWh 1kW max. A much better day with thin cloud and sunshine but tempered with an even stronger north easterly wind.


Most of the seeds I sowed have now germinated; only the Aubergine, Malinowy Henryka tomatoes and the Nicotinia are still not showing. Now that the sun is back I won't need the propagator light to encourage them to grow.


Spent most of the afternoon clearing the path and the soil between it and the northern hedge so we can sow grass and wild flower seeds there. We have decided to let the hens out at the end of the month so we will need to fence this off till it gets going. I managed to fork over the soil without any problems but I don't think I will risk doing any digging for another week or so.


Tuesday 14th

2 to 6 to 7°C. 1.5kWh 600W max. A cloudier day but with less wind so feeling warmer.


Finished preparing the soil down the side of the northern hedge.

Only the Nicotinia to germinate.


Wednesday 15th     Happy Birthday to Sarah

5 to 9 to 5°C 742Wh. Mainly cloudy with some occasional light rain. Feeling warmer.


Fenced off the ground along the northern hedge and between the path and the fruitcage to keep the hens off it. We can't let them out till the end of the month when hopefully the government will relax the regulations.


Thursday 16th

3 to 10 to 7°C. 3.1kWh 1.5kW max. Sunny morning but started raining around lunchtime and this lasted most of the afternoon with showers in the evening.


Friday 17th

4 to 11 to 7°C. 2.76kWh 1kW max. Light cloud, brighter in the afternoon.


More shredding. Also started to soak some coir blocks so I can make potting compost for the smaller seedlings, such as the antirrhinum and nicotinia, when they grow large enough to transplant. The larger seedlings will go straight into a soil based medium.


Saturday 18th

7 to 11 to 8°C. 3.51kWh 1.2kW max. Cloudy morning, sunny afternoon with a warm southerly breeze.


Pat did some more shredding. I planted the second batch of germinated Douce Provence peas in 12 cell trays and then started to sort out the pots of perennials I intend to plant down the side of the drive once the hedge has gone.


Sunday 19th

7 to 12 to 9°C. 2.31kWh 800W max. Mainly cloudy but with a warm southerly breeze.


In the morning I tidied the dead stems and oak leaves from the wild flowers on the verge. I should really have done this last autumn but wasn't agile enough. Then we planted some narcissus bulbs under the turf along the verge. These were spare from when I repotted some earlier and from some clumps of bulbs we divided last year.


Then in the afternoon Pat did some more shredding and I carried on sorting out the pots of perennials.


 Monday 20th

10 to 12 to 9°C. 2.76kWh 1.4kW max. Sunny morning, cloudy afternoon with some light rain in the evening.


Mixed the coir based compost for pricking out the seedlings which have now germinated. 4 small coir blocks soaked with 15L water for 24 hours and then fluffed up, add 1L perlite and 4 scoops of base fertiliser and pass through a 6mm seive. This makes around 40L of potting compost. I use this for small and delicate seedlings. The larger robust seedlings go straight into the usual soil based mix with 3 parts soil and 1 part seived well rotted compost.


Tuesday 21st.

10 to 12 to 10°C. 1.98kWh 900W max. Sunny intervals in the morning, cloudy and damp in the afternoon and evening.


Pricked out the aubergine and tomato seedlings into the coir compost in 12 cell trays. Also 120 leek seedlings into soil based compost.


Wednesday 22nd

11 to 9 to 8°C. 964Wh 150W max. Cloudy with showery rain during the day continued into the evening. More stormy weather 'Doris' is forecast for tomorrow.


While it was still fairly mild and still took the opportunity to try and straighten and tighten the cross pieces on the fruit cage.


Thursday 23rd

7 to 8 to 2°C. 1.47kWh 400W max. A very windy day with some heavy showers but also some brighter periods in the afternoon. The wind dropped later as it moved from southwest to northwest and came much colder.


Not a day for working outside but I did plant on some germinated Turbo broad beans into cell trays in the polytunnel and start tidying up the pots of dahlias.


Friday 24th

2 to 7 to 5°C. 4.81kWh 1.4kW max. A blustery day with sunny periods.


Spent most of the afternoon tidying up the debris from yesterdays storm, including removing broken branches from one of the plum trees, which needed pruning anyway, and a dead hawthorn bush in the southern hedge which was only being held together by ivy vines until the wind finally tore it over.


Saturday 25th

7 to 10 to 7°C. 1.37kWh 500W max. Wet and windy with a few brighter intervals.


Decided it was time to move the onions from the cold frame and Pat flattened out a patch of ground to place the pots on. However we decided there was a risk of them being blown over so left them where they are for the time being but without the glass cover.


One of the plants damaged yesterday was a box tree. It was originally grown from a cutting and I decided to take some cuttings of the broken branch. Perhaps we could grow a low box hedge somewhere?


Sunday 26th Happy Birthday to Kirstin

 8 to 9 to 6°C. 1.7kWh 500W max. A similar day to yesterday but the stronger wind made it feel much colder.


Monday 27th

4 to 6 to 2°C. 2.04kWh 800W max. Sunny spells and showery rain. Feeling warmer now the wind has dropped.


It actually felt quite spring-like today. Though not very warm the robins were singing much louder than they do in the winter and chaffinches and great tits were also to be heard. We saw a pair of collared doves leaning against each other a few days ago and today they were cooing in a tree near the road as were some wood pigeons in the ash tree.


Started clearing the ivy and holly saplings from the ground where the cypress hedge was down the side of the drive. Once this is done I will try to cut the stumps flush with the ground and then cover it all with shreddings.


Tuesday 28th

-1 to 6 to 2°C. 1.8kWh 1.2kW max. Cold sunny morning, clouding over by lunchtime with heavy showers in the afternoon and evening.


Decided to do some work outside in the morning since rain was forecast for later. Sowed grass seed in the fenced off area along the northern hedge. Raked it in then covered it with fleece while it germinates; a robin was already scratching up the seed between the time I finished sowing and fetched the fleece.


Pat then let out the hens for the first time in 3 months. Amazingly they remembered all the places they could get to, even though some parts need passing down a narrow passage between wire netting or ducking under the netting to get into the orchard area. Obviously they are not as stupid (bird-brained) as some people make out.