January 2014                                                                                                                                  Back to December


Wednesday 1st

3 to 10 to 7°C. 348kWh 200W max. Another miserable damp and windy day with one short brighter period around lunchtime.


It is so muddy out there that it is unlikely I will be able to do anything even when it finally clears up.


Thursday 2nd

2 to 10 to 8°C. 3.11kWh 1.1kW max. A sunny day with only a light southerly breeze. But is probably the lull before the storm as more gales and heavy rain are forecast for tomorrow. Yet another time when we are glad we live a long way from the coast on the locally highest spot far away from any rivers.


Took advantage of the calmer weather to cut down some more of the trees near the polytunnel. We aren't the only ones; there was the sound of several chainsaws in the distance this afternoon.


Friday 3rd

4 to 9 to 5°C. 2.52kWh 1.1kW max. Sunny with strong southerly breeze until late in the afternoon when the wind strenghtened with several periods of heavy rain during the evening. Much nicer weather than the gales and floods all along the south and west coasts of the UK.


Started to dig out the trench round the polytunnel which was very hard work since the soil is very wet and therefore heavy.


Saturday 4th

3 to 6 to -1°C. 277Wh 100W max. A very dull day but with no wind and very little rain. Cleared after dusk to a clear frosty night.


Continued digging out the trench though it is even heavier going now I have reached the far side. The soil is not only water-logged but full of tree roots so I am having to cut round each sod with the spade before I can remove it; I might even need the mattock. The trench needs to be at least 50cm wide and 50cm deep and the polytunnel is 15m long and 7m wide so this isn't going to be done in a couple of days. It was probably still enough today to fit the new skin but it hasn't arrived yet and even if it does it will need several more days to prepare for it. If it lasts 7 years like the last two then I will be 77 next time we need to do this; I am not sure if I will be able to manage this again.


Sunday 5th

-2 to 11 to 9°C. 234Wh 50W max. A very dull and rainy day.


Went to Kirstin's for the annual family get-together. It rained there as well and very hard on the journey back in the evening. Still, it was nice to see the family again.


Monday 6th

6 to 11 to 8°C. 1.23kWh 500W max. Sunny intervals with heavy blustery showers and a very strong wind. Quietend down in the evening.


Not a day for working outside. The forecast is better for the rest of the week.


Tuesday 7th

6 to 10 to 7°C. 1.73kWh 1.1kW max. A much better day with broken cloud and no rain and even the wind has dropped to just a gusty breeze. Looks like the weather is finally settling down at least for the next few days.


A good opportunity to try out my new work coat and boots which I bought myself for Christmas along with two more log splitters. Spent most of the afternoon digging out more of the soil round the polytunnel. It is now around 2/3 done though the last bit, which involves moving paving stones before I can move the soil beneath them, is the bit which will probably take the longest.


Wednesday 8th

7 to 9 to 6°C. 351Wh 100W max. Another very dull drizzly day but with very little wind. Started to rain more heavily in the evening.


The polythene skin for the polytunnel arrived and today would have been a good day to fit it if we were ready. But there is still quite a lot of preparative work to do.


Thursday 9th

6 to 9 to 0°C. 2.61kWh 1.1kW max. Light rain overnight, clearing by the morning to a sunny breezy day. Feeling colder and there will be a frost tonight.


Finished digging out the trench round the polytunnel and the the removed the paving stones from the front. Started to readjust the tension bars at each corner and the ridge bar. The hoops slowly bend away from the prevailing westerly wind and need to be realigned before we can put on the new skin. I was surprised how easily I managed to loosen the bolts on the clamps, given that they are over 20 years old. Obviously they are very good quality stainless steel. Saturday looks like it may be a quiet dry day so I will try and get everything ready for then.


Friday 10th

0 to 5 to 8°C. 1.06kWh 800W max. Dull damp start clearing a little around midday but then clouded over again.


My new work jacket kept me warm as I continued to straighten out the polytunnel structure. It is unlikely we will manage to re-cover it this weekend.


Saturday 11th

-2 to 6 to -3°C. 3.03kWh 1.2kW max. Cold and sunny apart from a short cloudy spell just before lunch.


Continued to reposition the ridge pole on the polytunnel. Not an easy job given it is nearly 3 metres up and needs to be securely clamped to each of the six hoops which all need to upright and the ridge pole straight and at the same height on each one. At the moment the ridge pole is around 60cm longer than the distance between the two end hoops. I might need to dismantle the hoop at the west end so I can straighten it. More delays but it needs to be done right. If the skin isn't tight along both sides and the ends with no creases it won't last for another 7 years like the last two.


Sunday 12th

-4 to 3 to 6°C. 608Wh 120W max. Cold frosty start and remained below zero till late morning when it started to spit with rain. It finally started raining around 4pm and also warmed up a little.


Managed to clamp the ridge pole to all but the last hoop but taking this apart and trying to straigten it will have to wait till a warmer day. Taking metal poles apart with bare hands when the temperature is just above freezing it not my idea of fun so I went back to the much more satisfying and warming occupation of splitting logs until it started to rain. Very kindly it was nearly dark by then.


Monday 13th

0 to 7 to 3°C. 3.38kWh 1.2kW max. Cold clear frosty start and remained sunny nearly all day only starting to rain just before dusk. Mostly light rain during the evening becoming heavier by 11pm.


Well it felt a little warmer as the wind was light and the sun quite strong for the time of year. So managed to remove most of the clamps and stabilising struts from the end hoop but two of them had very stubborn bolts so we have soaked them with easing oil overnight and hopefully they will come apart tomorrow. the plan is then to dismantle the four curved parts of the hoop and lay it on the ground to see if it can be straightened up. Another good day tomorrow will allow us to do this and put it back together. Then later this week we might get to the point where we can put on the new skin. It all depends on the weather staying mild and dry for a little longer.


Tuesday 14th

-1 to 8 to 5°C. 3.04kWh 1.2kW max. A very similar day to yesterday; it even started raining just as it was becoming dark again.


Managed to move all but one of the stays from the end hoop and after a lot of pulling, pushing, twisting and hammering we managed to turn it enough so it was more upright. Not perfect but once we have re-attached the stays and adjusted them to push it outward a little more it might only be necessary to cut only a few cm off the end of the ridge pole to get it to fit without pushing beyond it and damaging the new skin.


Wednesday 15th

5 to 10 to 6°C. 381Wh 80W max. Damp and overcast all day but with no actual rain and very little wind. Very mild for January.


Finally managed to refit the ridge pole and, we can hardly believe it, it is the right length. So tomorrow I will tighten everything up and hopefully at the weekend it will be still enough to fit the new skin.


Thursday 16th

3 to 8 to 5°C. 1.16kWh 600W max. Mainly cloudy with a few short sunny spells but also some light showers.


All we need now is a still day to we can put the new polythene on the polytunnel.


Friday 17th

4 to 9 to 3°C. 1.83kWh 1.3kW max. Variable cloud with some good sunny intervals and a few short showers.


Too windy today to put the skin on the polytunnel so continued to tidy up.


Saturday 18th

3 to 9 to 6°C. 1.04kWh 600W max. Wet and windy with a few sunnier periods around midday.


The forecast for tomorrow is dry and sunny with less wind so maybe...


Sunday 19th

1 to 10 to 1°C. 4.03Kwh 1.3kW max. Sunny all day. Half of that electricity was diverted to the immersion heater for the first time this year.


We had just got to the point when were ready to pull the polythene over the hoops and the breeze picked up. The sheet is 14m wide and 22m long so you can imagine what will happen if the wind gets under it at the wrong moment which is when you have it over the polytunnel but haven't yet tethered it down. We waited to see if it died down again but the trouble is that the sun at this time of year causes a breeze just by warming the ground. Tomorrow it is forecast to be colder and misty so we might have a better chance tomorrow. After that the wind and rain is coming back again.


Monday 20th

-2 to 7 to 1°C. 1.91kWh 800W max. Cold misty start clearing to sunny intervals and no wind.


Perfect weather for pulling the polythene sheet over the polytunnel hoops without the risk of the wind causing it to take off, though it was a little cold first thing to we couldn't start till 11am. It was also very muddy after all the recent rain. By dusk we had managed to get the sides taut and some of the soil back in the trenches to hold it down. Tomorrow I will start making the doorways.


Tuesday 21st

-2 to 4 to 6°C. 1.81kWh 700W max. Cold bright start but started to cloud over by lunchtime with wind and heavy rain by mid-afternoon.


The doorways will have to wait for another day. As the instructions say 'after cutting hold theloose polythene securely to prevent a gust of wind ripping your cut further up the sheet before you can secure it with the batten'.


Wednesday 22nd

3 to 10 to 3°C. 2.81lWh 1.2kW max.  A bright and breezy sunny day with a few short heavy showers but mainly sunny in between. Quite Springlike. The birds certainly think so with a mini-dawn chorus this morning and a thrush and several blue and great tits, chaffinches, robins and wrens singing during the day.


Unfortunately the 16mm of rain we had yesterday puddled in the top of the polytunnel skin pulling it up from its only partly buried trench which I didn't have time to finish on Monday. So we had to dig all the soil back out and try and pull the polythene tight again. By that time it was coming dark so I will try and do it properly tomorrow. If not more wind and rain forecast for Friday and the weekend might put everything back again. At least there isn't any snow yet; that would really cause problems if we haven't finished tightening up the skin. 


Thursday 23rd

0 to 9 to 0°C. 3.5KWh 1.3kW max. Mainly sunny but with a strong easterly wind making it feel colder.


Despite the wind and the heavy mud we managed to finally pull the polythene tight on the polytunnel and properly backfill the trenches. Hopefully we have got it taut enough this time to stop the forecast heavy rain puddling in the roof and undoing all our hard work yet again.


Friday 24th

0 to 6 to 4°C. 334Wh 100W max. Overcast with light and occasionally moderate rain.


The polytunnel skin hasn't sagged but too wet and windy to finish the doors. But we did manage to move everything back from the conservatory back inside the polytunnel.



Saturday 25th

4 to 7 to 2°C. 2.01kWh 1.3kW max. Started off as a really sunny early Spring day with birds singing and a gentle southerly breeze. But by lunchtime it became very dark with thunder and heavy rain for a time then light rain till after dark.


So far this month we have had 77mm (6.5in) of rain and we have probably had less than most parts of the UK.


Sunday 26th

1 to 7 to 2°C. 761kWh 600W max. Very wet and windy morning finally clearing after lunch with a brief sunny spell and a rainbow before it clouded over again but without any more rain.


Too windy to finish the doors to the poytunnel so decided to rearrange the chicken runs to fence off the parts of the vegetable garden for planting in the Spring. Even more important was fencing off the rhubarb bed which the chickens have been scratching at and is beginning to produce shoots.


Monday 27th

0 to 8 to 5°C. 2.13kWh 1.3kW max. Sunny morning then windier damper afternoon and evening.


Carried on trying to batten the polythene to the doors but the wind made it difficult to do it properly.


Tuesday 28th

5 to 7 to 5°C. 1.02kWh 700W max. Rained all night and most of the day except for a short bright spell around midday. Most of the rain was quite light but there were a few heavier showers, especially in the middle of the night and the total accumulation was 10.5mm. Still overcast with just a few spots of rain this evening and it remains very mild for late January. They are forecasting a cold period (of only 24hours!) on Thursday.


Laid out the potato seed tubers, which came a few days ago, near the a north window to start chitting.


Wednesday 29th

5 to 5 to 2°C. 451Wh 250W max. A very dim miserable damp day.


Kept warm by splitting more logs.


Thursday 30th

1.4 to 2.5 to 1.2°C. 218Wh 50W max.  Overcast, still and dry apart from a few flurries of sleet.


At last a still dry day to finish the door openings on the polytunnel.

A trip round the garden revealed some signs of Spring despite the recent miserable weather with snowdrops aconites and primroses flowering in the wild garden and down the drive and it won't be long till the camellias start to flower.


Friday 31st

1.5 to 6.5 to 4°C. 59Wh 20W max. Wind and rain all day (12mm). Finally cleared just before dark and it is now a still and clear starlit night. Even the hens stayed inside most of the day.


February 2014