July 2012                                                                                           back to June


Sunday 1st

9 to 19 to 14°C. 6.59kWh 1.4kW max. Started off bright and sunny but clouded over by 9am with a blustery wind and a few sunny intervals and scattered light showers.


Spent most of the morning hoeing the flower beds and vegetable garden though how much good it will do I can't say. The idea of hoeing is to undercut the weeds just below the soil surface so that their roots are deprived of water and the sun kills the tops by drying them out. Without much sun and the soil soggy all the way to the surface this isn't going to work. Trouble is this is ideal weather for weeds which can grow quickly in these cool damp conditions whereas the plants you want to grow need a higher temperature and rapidly get swamped. Hand weeding might work but with a garden our size there jsut isn't the time.


The afternoon I spent turning the compost bins to make room for all the chipping and shredding we will need to do from the branches of the trees we are having cut down.


Went for a walk round the back roads in the evening. The weather is fine for all the wild flowers in the verges and hedges, they like all this rain. I have never seen so much honeysuckle, dog rose, briar, campion, foxglove, cow parsley, meadow sweet, vetch, yellow pea, clover, and many others.


Monday 2nd

12 to 19 to 14°C. 4.72kWh max 800W. Overcast with a few brighter periods but drizzling most of the time with a blustery wind.

Not the sort of weather you expect in July. Not much light for the solar panels. I was expecting up to 15kWh on a good day at this time of year.


Tuesday 3rd

12 to 22 to 16°C. 5.4kWh max 1.7kW. Started off bright (the 1.7kW was at 9am) but soon clouded over with some patchy drizzle but not continuous like yesterday.


For some days we suspected the rabbit had a burrow in the garden. A hole kept appearing and then disappearing in the bed near the garage but we never saw what was digging it and were mystified as to how neatly it kept being filled in. Today Pat startled the rabbit as it came out of the hole and it ran off leaving the burrow open.


I decided to investigate and dug round and under the hole, discovering a leaf and fur lined nest and four baby rabbits which I quickly dispatched. I don't like killing things and I am sure some people might disapprove but I don't see what else could be done. So now we know what was happening. The mother rabbit was covering up the entrance when she left the babies so they wouldn't be discovered, doing it so neatly that you wouldn't have know there was a burrow there except when she herself was in residence. How they don't suffocate when she does this I can't understand. Hopefully finding her burrow filled in and her babies gone might deter her from trying again?


Later on in the day another creature was dead. Pat went to look to see if the hens had laid any eggs and found one still sitting in the nest box, or so she thought until she lifed her to see if there was an egg beneath. The poor thing was stiff but still warm. We had no inkling that any of the hens was unwell; they were all feeding scratching happily first thing, though one has been broody for the last week or so (it wasn't this one that died). So we need to wait and see if the others are OK before we think about replacing her.


Wednesday 4th

14 to 22 to 14°C. 4.85kWh 1.2kW max. Light rain in the morning with sunny intervals and showers later in the morning and afternoon, feeling very humid, then heavy rain most of the evening. As I write this at 11:30pm it is raining really hard out there.


The tree before it was cut down


The men came to fell the large cypress tree near the road. Not much room to do it so it was a case of climbing up and cutting the branches off one by one. Not a job I could have done myself. This produced an enormous pile of log rounds and an even larger pile of branches, half of which were on the drive so we needed to clear these away. Looks like with all the wood already from the hedge we cut down last winter and these two latest trees we should have enough wood for at least anotherc three years. I shall have plenty to do splitting and sawing it when autumn comes and Pat, mainly, will be turning the branches into mulch with the shredder and chipper.

After is was cut down. The logs here are only one of two piles and there are also several large piles of branches. There is probably enough wood here to last us a whole winter and the chippings will probably cover most of the vegetable garden at least twice!!


Another large pile of logs from the sycamore tree in the back garden.


Later on, before it rained again, I started repotting the short stemmed chrysanthemums from 3L to 5L pots using the soil from the potato pots we have alreadyv started to harvest. Nothing gets wasted; everything is recycled or used again.


Thursday 5th

13 to 22 to 16°C 7.82kWh 2.3kW max. A warm humid day with thin cloud in the morning breaking to sunny intervals in the afternoon.

36°C in the polytunnel this afternoon

Finally some flowers in the pots in front of the conservatory


Made a start on cutting up the branches from the felled tree so we can store them in a smaller area than where they were left. It took them around 4 hours to cut down the tree but it will take several days to clear it away and many more days, later in the year, to shred and chip the brash and split the log rounds.


We finally stopped at 9pm. Tomorrow they are forecasting heavy rain all day, again.


Friday 6th

14 to 17 to 13°C. 1.62kWh 250kW max. Started raining around 5am and rained hard till late in the afternoon.


Needless to say we didn't do much outside today apart from the essentials of picking raspberries and strawberries. Shouldn't grumble though, there is no risk of flooding round here, unlike many other places in the UK which are low lying and/or close to rivers. The television news was full of pictures of roads awash with several inches of water and houses inundated with stinking muddy water.


Seems the cause is that the Jet Stream has been running south of us for many weeks, drawing in one depression after another. Could it be cause by Climate Change warming up the Arctic ocean and changing the air circulation in Northern Europe? I  am no expert but there seems to have been a change in the weather in the last few years with drier colder winters and wetter cooler summers. Not what you would expect from what is also sometimes called Global Warming but the emphatic word here is Global; the average global temperature might be rising but locally some places could be cooler and others warmer than this average.


Saturday 7th

11 ro 21 to 14°C. 8.38kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny intervals with a few short showers.


Again we seem to have faired better with the weather than other parts of the country with severe flooding in the southwest and heavy rain affecting the qualifying session of the British Grand Prix. Two wheelbarrows and some buckets left outside on Thursday had over 2in (50mm) of water in them (adjusted from 60mm because of  the sloping sides) but this was much less than the over 100mm in less than 24 hours recorded elsewhere.


Spent most of the day clearing the logs and brash from the site where the big tree was cut down on Wednesday.


Sunday 8th

12 to 22 to 14°C 8.71kWh 2.1kW max. Started quite bright but soon clouded over, raining by mid-afternoon and then drizzling most of the evening.


Finally got round to making a start on rewiring the outbuildings (garage, two sheds and the polytunnel) since it looked as if it might be dry for a few days, but obviously not!!


Monday 9th

13 to 19 to 13°C. 5.28kWh 1.3kW max. Bright start but soon became dull and overcast. Eventually started to rain just after dark.


Decided to lay the cables between the outbuildings but without connecting them up to the mains till the weather improves. Pat continued with the never-ending job of pulling up weeds. The weather is perfect for them, unlike the runner, climbing and french beans which are just sitting there not growing till it comes warmer.At least the brassicas, peas and broad beans seem to be coping.


Picked some cherries but very few; most have split before they are ripe because of the lack of sun and excess of rain. Pat found a single ripe plum but it was mouldy; last year we had enough to fill at least 10 5L containers to freeze for the winter. There are no apples, not even Bramleys which have never failed in the nearly 40 years we have been here. A few pears but most of them have fallen off. Only a few damsons. This is looking like the worst year ever for top fruit. At least we have some strawberries and raspberries, but more mouldy than sound,


Tuesday 10th

10 to 15 to 10°C. 2.62kWh 700W max. Another miserable day with almost continuous light rain or heavy drizzle.


The latest casualty to this weather is the roses. Almost all the flowers are soaking wet and mildewed. Looks like they will need to be cut back to produce new shoots hopefully for when it finally warms and dries up. the potatoes don't look too good either. I will be surprised if they don't start suffering from blight.


Wednesday 11th

9 to 17 to 11°C. 9.41kWh 2.3kW max. A better day with broken cloud and long sunny intervals. Feeling warm in the sun but with a cool northerly breeze.


Decided to dig the Kestrel potatoes since these were the worst affected and had died back so there wouldn't be any more if we left them in the soil which, being very wet, might cause them to rot. The yield was very poor; around 10kg from the original 1.5kg seed which was less than half what we got last year from this variety. They were sound though with no signs of blight on the foliage or in the tubers.


The pear tree up till now still had a few pears still on it but these have nearly all dropped off in the last few days. So there are no plums, no apples, very few cherries and now no pears this year.


Thursday 12th

7 to 21 to 13°C. 13.41kWh 2.3kW max. Started bright and sunny with thin cloud and continued like this till late in the afternoon when it started raining again.

The local rabbit too was enjoying the sun. So long as she doesn't try producing more babies we can tolerate her since, now that we have surrounded the vegetables with rabbit fencing, she isn't doing much damage, cropping the grass and even eating some of the rain rampant weeds.The squirrels, thank goodness, have disappeared; maybe caught by the local buzzards and goshawks? They do a lot more damage, including digging up and eating all the crocus bulbs.


Friday 13th

13 to 17 to 13°C. 3.33kWh 350W max. Light rain all night then heavy fine soaking drizzle till late in the afternoon.


The ditches surrounding us are full and overflowing onto the road. This is the first time in the 38 years we have been here that the ground is so waterlogged that there is standing water in some parts of the garden . Only small shallow puddles but if it this is happening here, which is locally the highest point, it is no wonder so many parts of the UK are experiencing flooding.


Finally when it stopped raining for a time in the evening we planted the celeriac in the ground where we had dug out the potatoes earlier. Very muddy but I think they will be OK.


Saturday 14th

11 to 20 to 12°C. 9.63kWh 2.1kW max. A very varied day with long sunny intervals and short but very heavy showers and a cold westerly wind.


Continued with the rewiring of the outhouses but gave up when it started raining again; electricity and water don't mix!!.


The ground was too waterlogged to work on in most parts of the garden but Pat managed to weed the onions and leeks. I replanted the privet we removed while the tree was being felled. Actually this was with the spare plants we had over from the original planting which have being growing in pots. The ones we removed, also now in pots, I decided to leave to get better established. There are several plants in other parts of the hedge which haven't grown very well and may need replacing in the autumn.


Sunday 15th

9 to 19 to 12°C. 10.63kWh 2.4kW max. This cloud with sunny intervals. Less wind making it feel quite warm in the afternoon.


Finished wiring up the outbuildings and then proved it worked by connecting the hedge trimmer to the socket in the toolshed and cutting the remaining (drive) side of the old cypress hedge. A little later this year because I was waiting till the hedge was dry; this is the first completely dry day for quite a long time. According to the forecast it won't last though.


One good thing about this weather. Usually it is too hot to comfortably cut the hedge in summer. This year it was much cooler.


Monday 16th

12 to 18 to 15°C 2.6kWh 350W max. Back to light rain and drizzle with a few heavier showers but with the difference that it feels warmer.


There is now a steady supply of cucumbers and tomatoes from the polytunnel and today we picked the first courgette. Started on the later crop of broad beans, Perla, which are smaller but just as tasty. There should be some Excellenz peas later in the week, only 4 weeks later than expected. At least they are growing. The runner, climbing and french beans are just sitting there waiting for warmer weather which looks like it might be coming soon.


Tuesday 17th

14 to 21 to 17°C. 4.4kWh 1kW max. A dull overcast day but feeling warmer with a few short sunny intervals. Becoming brighter in the evening when we went for a walk.


Started to clear the beds within the fruit cage where we intend to plant the late brocolli, spring cabbage and kale. Not that there is any hurry to do this. Since sowing them early last month they germinated but have just sat there doing nothing since. They are certainly not big enough to transplant. Hopefully the forecast for better drier and sunnier weather by the end of the week will be correct.


Wednesday 18th

15 to 22 to 15°C 6.73kWh 1.9kW max. Sunny intervals. Black clouds threatened rain several times but it stayed dry till after dusk when there was a little light drizzle.


Finally decided the weather was warm enough to plant some basil and parsley outside in the herb garden. They have been growing in pots in the polytunnel since early May and some will stay there and be moved into the conservatory in the autumn but the basil especially seems to taste better when grown outside. I also cleared away the last of the Sweet William so I could plant out the remaining summer bedding. Very late but it actually felt like summer today for the first time.


Thursday 19th

12 to 18 to 13°C. 4.95kWh 900W max. Overcast with heavy black clouds but didn't actually rain until late in the afternoon.


Dead headed the roses, removing a large number of blooms which didn't even get the chance to open before being damaged by the cold wet conditions of the last couple of weeks. Started tying up the chrysanthemums some more but was driven inside by the heavy drizzly rain. The forecast is better for the weekend into  next week.


Friday 20th

11 to 19 to 12°C. 7.81kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny intervals with a few short light showers in the moning. Feeling warmer and the wind moves from north to west.


Pulled up the rest of the early broad beans then dug over the soil (with the help of the hens who finished off the slugs, millipedes and ants and, unfortunately, some worms as well). Then sowed a row of Excellenz peas.


Saturday 21st

7 to 22 to 15°C. 12.49kWh 2.4kW max. Thin broken high cloud and hazy sunshine.


Continued to tie up the chrysanthemums and tidy up the garden. Pat mowed the lawn now that it isn't waterlogged any more. It definitely needed it.


Sunday 22nd

13 to 24 to 16°C. 12.36kWh. Misty start with clear blue sky and hot sunshine from 10am onwards.


Generally tidying up the garden. There are plenty of weeds after all the recent rain.


Monday 23rd

14 to 28 to 17°C. 11.07kWh 2.2kW max. Broken thin high cloud. Feeling warm in the southerly breeze.


For the first time this summer it was warm enough to wear my shorts on my lunchtime bike ride.


More weeding and chrysanthemum repotting.


Tuesday 24th

13 to 30 to 17°C. 13.06kWh 2.2kW max. Broken high cloud. Very warm, in fact too warm for my liking, especially when I returned from my bike ride before lunch. If it continues like this I may have to go at a different time of day.


Some mindless idiot has stolen our house sign from the bottom of the driveAngry It couldn't possibly have happened by accident as the post was sunk over 50cm into the ground. No doubt it was some drunk thinking it would be funny to place it at the bottom of someone else's drive to confuse the delivery men.


I realise that compared with people who open fire in cinemas or corrupt bankers and business men who salt their money away in tax havens or criminals who make their money trafficking drugs and people or perverts who assault young children this is is only a minor crime but it is still very annoying. It took me quite a long time to paint and erect that sign and I don't really have the time at the moment to make another.


Wednesday 25th

15 to 23 to 16°C. 6.72kWh 1.4kW max. Misty start then thin but solid cloud most of the day with a few sunny periods.


More general gardening.


Thursday 26th

16 to 27 to 16°C. 10.67kWh 1.9kW max. Misty start but soon cleared to broken high cloud.


Friday 27th

14 to 22 to 12°C 10.44kWh 2.0kW max. Broken cloud with long sunny intervals but the cold wind is back


Kirstin, Mark and Anna called in on their way back from a camping holiday at Plas Madog. They had a good time but the weather wasn't as good as it has been here. Unfortunately soon after they left I started feeling unwell with the usual silent asthma and aching limbs.


Saturday 28th.

10 to 22 to 12°C. 11.05kWh 2.3kW max. very similar weather to yesterday.


Still not feeling too good but even so we decided to investigate the potato crop.


Most of the plants have died back. They don't appear to have blight, which usually shows as the stems going slimy and black. Instead they have just died back as  they would do in autumn, the stems being dry and brown. I can only assume the the poor cold and damp weather throughout most of June and July caused them to act as if autumn was here.


Digging up the second early Rubesse the tubers were very small and some of them were rotten but not smelly as if they had blight. It looks more like this was caused by ground being waterlogged for such a long time.


The next row of early maincrop King Edward had also died back. Each plant had a lot of small tubers which would certainly have grown to the large potatoes you expect from this variety. Again I think it is just the poor weather which has caused this.


The other two rows of maincrop Vales Sovereign and Golden Wonder still have some green leaves on the stems though nothing like you would expect at this time of year. We have left these, hoping they might recover now the weather has hopefully improved?


All in all a very poor crop of potatoes and definitely means we won't have enough to last the winter. I only hope the farmers have faired better than us as otherwise there will be a shortage this winter in the shops or they will be more expensive. It is a shame they won't keep more than a few months - last years crop was so good we ended up throwing quite a lot away when they started to sprout in April.


Sunday 29th

10 to 21 to 11°C. 10.80kWh 2.1kW max. Sunny intervals with a few light showers.


Extended the chicken run into the area we dug the potatoes out of.


Monday 30th

9 to 20 to 9°C. 6.65kWh 1.7kW max. Mainly cloudy with a few short heavy showers and a few glimpses of the sun.


Started to tidy up the shrubs and thickets round the lawn.


Tuesday 31st

10 to 20 to 17°C. 3.74kWh 1.1kW max. A miserable day with almost continuous light rain and drizzle apart from a brief sunny spell in the early afternoon



August 2012