June 2012                                                                                                                                                Back to May


Friday 1st

12 to 22 to 11°C. 4.98kWh 1.2kW max. Overcast and humid with an odd short glimplse of the sun and a few spots of light drizzle.


Started planting out the summer bedding down the side of the drive.


Pat picked the first strawberries of the year, apart from a couple she found last week. There weren't enough for two and she insisted I had them so I did, with some yoghurt. At last a taste of summer and a change from rhubarb and last year's frozen plums and raspberries.


Saturday 2nd

11 to 15 to 11°C. 1.57kWh 270W max. A miserable gloomy damp day.


Typical bank holiday weather - the forecast for tomorrow is for heavy rain all day. Normally the bank holiday would have been last weekend, which was warm and sunny, but it was delayed to coincide with the Diamond Jubilee. Very strange how the weather nearly always is bad at Bank Holidays, even when it is not the normal weekend.


The drizzle cleared in the afternoon long enough for me to build the cane frame for the runner beans but it is too cold to plant them out. Did some work in the polytunnel including starting to train the tomatoes, cucumbers and squashes.


Sunday 3rd

8 to 11 to 6°C. 1.66kWh 180W max. Rained hard all night; the water butts were almost empty yesterday and overflowing by this morning. Overcast with light rain or drizzle all day and into the evening.


Decided to stay inside and watch the Diamond Jubilee river pageant on the television. The weather in London was slightly better than here. Damp but brighter and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Very similar to the Coronation in 1953 though a much better television to watch it on than the tiny black and white one we had then.


Monday 4th

6 to 16 to 8°C. 9.8kWh 2.15kW max. A much better day with long sunny intervals and large fluffy clouds. Warm if you avoided the cold northerly breeze.


Since more heavy rain is forecast later in the week took the chance to give the soil inside the polytunnel a really good watering with over 20 12.5L cans of water. Planted out the runner beans to grow up the frame I built on Saturday. Lots of weeds growing in the vegatable garden especially after all the sun and rain so Pat spent much of the day hand weeding the onions and I hoed between the rows of potatoes, parsnips, beans and peas.


Tuesday 5th

7 to 14 to 11°C. 3.46kWh 1.1kW max. Overcast with a few short sunny intervals in the morning. Light rain in the afternoon and early evening.


Managed to plant out the Bristol onions and Elefant leeks before the rain came.


The Bristol are grown from seed and started in cell trays. They ripen later than those grown from sets and last longer in storage. We still have a few from last year. Even so there is always a short period in June and early July when Pat has to buy some before the earliest of the sets onions can be picked.


The leeks are also started in cell trays and planted by the usual method of drilling a 15cm 2cm wide hole with a dipper, dropping a plant into it and filling the hole with water.


Dug over the soil in the greenhouse border and gave it a good watering. Usually we grow cucumbers in the greenhouse but they haven't done very well in the last two years with the poor summer weather so I am trying them at the far end of the polytunnel were they should be warmer. So I am replacing them with courgettes.


Wednesday 6th

12 to 21 to 12°C. 6.84kWh 2.1kW max. Started bright and sunny but cloudy by lunchtime and rained in the afternoon. Cleared again in the evening.


Spent part of the day trying to deter rabbits and squirrels.


The rabbits have taken a fancy to the pea plants, nibbling the tops off most of the early ones (the later ones are still under wire mesh covers).  So we decided to surround the whole of the pea and bean bed with a wire mesh fence to keep them out. The damage will slow down the development of the peas but they should recover. Indeed, some people advise nipping out the tops of pea plants to make them grown side shoots and thus more pea pods so the rabbits may have even done us a favour.


The squirrels are a perennial problem. Each year at this time the first litter of young ones turn up and try to raid the bird feeders. Most of these feeders are hanging inside an upside down perspex box which is around 150cm above the ground. The only way they can get at these is to jump straight up from the ground; the sides of the box are very slippy so they can't climb on top of it and swing in.


We also have a peanut and sunflower seed feeder outside the box for those birds too nervous to go under it. These are supposed to be squirrel proof and so they are for adult squirrels. They are surrounded by a wire cage with a mesh small enough for small birds to reach through but too small for a squirrels head. The wire is too thick for them to bite through, unlike some we had previously made from much thinner stainless steel mesh for the peanuts and thin plastic for the seeds. So in winter the squirrels can't steal the bird food.


These young squirrels can get their snouts through the mesh so to stop them getting to the feeders I grease the poles holding up the box and these feeders. There is a hedge behind this structure with mainly thin branches of holly and elder which won't support the weight of an adult squirrel allowing it to jump across directly onto the feeders. However the young ones are able to climb along the flimsiest of twigs to take flying leaps across, sometimes grabbing the feeder and sometimes falling off. Being light this doesn't seem to harm them. The solution is to cut back the hedge which we did this morning so that it is more than a 100cm horizontal leap to get across. Unfortunately one of them is even more agile than usual and managed this feat. Once it got there it started taking seeds out of the feeder, dropping most of them to its litter mates on the ground below!!


No amount of shouting seemed to scare them away for long so the feeder is now hanging inside the box. Surely it can't make a standing leap 120cm straight up from the ground to get to it? We shall see!!


Thursday 7th

10 to 15 to 12°C. 2.46kWh 550W max. Poured down most of the night and day till late afternoon and then became very windy.


Continued to move the troughs and pots of summer bulbs and corms onto the bed in front of the conservatory. Got very wet doing this but I need to clear them out of the polytunnel so I can plant the rest of the squashes. Started to pot on the chrysanthemum cuttings.


Friday 8th

11 to 18 to 10°C. 4.87kWh 1.5kW max. Light rain with a few sunny intervals. Very windy. Cleared by late afternoon but still the occasional shower in the evening. The wind also dropped.


The rabbit which had been eating the pea plants till we fenced them off turned up again. It couldn't get through or over the wire mesh so the peas and beans are safe, from it at least. Instead it was nibbling grass andv weeds in the parsnip patch nearby. I was worried it would eat the young parsnip plants as well but it delicately ate all the way round them, doing a fine job of removing the weeds between the rows till it had satisfied its hunger.


Parsnips are closely related to Cow Parsley which all grazing animals avoid. Presumably this is why it left them alone.  If only we could train it to weed the garden for us, leaving the vegetables alone Wink


Saturday 9th

9 to 16 to 12°C. 4.97kWh 1.3kW max. Started off quite bright but soon became dull with some spells of drizzle and light rain. Feeling cold in the strong breeze.


Pat went off to meet the family who had all gone to Stoke. Sarah Ian Kirstin and the four children all went to Monkey Forest at Trentham Gardens. Sounds like they had a good time despite the poor weather. I couldn't go; lots of adults and children all in the their freshly washed clothes would have given me asthma and spoiled it for everyone. This is when this problem hurts the most when I can't even see my own grandchildren as often most other grandparents do.


Sunday 10th

11 to 22 to 12°C. 11.32kWh 2.3kW max. A much brighter stiller day with thin cloud and a milky sun most of the time.


The rabbits have started nibbling the young runner bean plants instead now they can't get at the peas so spent most of the morning and early afternoon fixing wire netting around these too, along with the frames for the climbing beans and main crop Alderman peas. I am seriously considering surrounding the whole of the vegetable garden with rabbit netting next year if this continues.


Trouble is there are very few foxes around these days. You hardly ever see them patrolling the fields early in the morning and just before dusk and their distinctive nocturnal calls are much less frequent. Since the government banned foxhunting the farmers are shooting them instead, maybe even illegally trapping them. This is probably not what was intended but why keep them alive when they can't be hunted any more? The result is there seem to be a lot more rabbits, hares, mice and rats than there used to be and they are all becoming a nuisance.


Later on in the afternoon I hoed the polytunnel preparatory to covering the ground with mulch.


Monday 11th

10 to 18 to 10°C. 5.36kWh 1.25kW max. An overcast muggy day with a few short sunny intervals. the cold NE breeze is back.


Started to lay the mulch in the polytunnel. A big job but will save time later in weeding and watering and should increase the yields of the tomatoes, peppers and squashes, assuming we eventually get some more seasonal weather!!


Tuesday 12th

9 to 17 to 12°C. 8.17kWh 1.75kW max. Variable cloud with a few sunny periods. Still with that cold easterly breeze


Finished laying the mulch and then soaked it with 500L (40 watering cans) of water. Heavy rain is forecast on Friday and will refill the butts.


I have been feeling very well for over a week with no asthma attacks at all. My peak flow has been constantly 680 to 730l/min (normal for a man of my age and stature is 520). When I do get an attack it drops to around 150. I have been too busy or the weather has been unsuitable for me to go for my daily bicycle ride so I have not been near any lines of washing, joggers, walkers or cyclists wearing recently laundered clothes or fragrances, or cars with open windows.Often the reaction to these is delayed by several hours and I haven't even noticed the original exposure.


There are some people, even some doctors, who tell me that my Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is 'All in the Mind'. I smell perfume and this triggers a psychological reaction. While I was taking the water from the butts to the polytunnel I walked past several pots of Freesias in full flower, a bed of Sweet William, a bed of roses and an enormous Wisteria which climbs to the top of several tall trees. All of these have very strong perfume and had no effect at all on my lungs or eyes.


Wednesday 13th

10 to 21 to 10°C. 7.3kWh 2.3kW max. Variable cloud with clear sunny periods in the morning. Occasional light drizzle in the afternoon and evening.


Planted the the second variety of leeks.These are a trial called Porbello and I believe they are a 'baby leek'.

Also planted out the Primavera French beans, a filet type. Surrounded them with more netting since the rabbits will probably think they are tasty.


Went for a bike ride at lunchtime seeing as it was a nice day and I had more time. Late in the afternoon I started yawning, aching and short of breath; my peak flow was below 250 and continued to fall to around 160 despite taking several doses of salbutamol. I wasn't aware of any triggers during my ride but something must have caused this. As I wrote yesterday this is the first attack I have had since not going out of the garden for several days.


Thursday 14th

7 to 18 to 10°C. 6.97kWh 2.2kW max. Bright and sunny in the morning but became progressively cloudier with black clouds and heavy showers by mid-afternoon. Heavy rain started around 7pm and continued into the night.


Not feeling too good but managed to do some potting on of chryanthemums, celeriac and parsley during the afternoon.

While eating my evening meal a crowned filling came loose so I will need to go to the dentists, hopefully tomorrow if they can fit me in. I try and avoid going there, not for the usual reasons but because the building is full of biocides which make me ill and heavily fragranced people in the waiting room. Hopefully it won't still be raining when I go there. Even so I would rather get soaking wet waiting outside rather than risk being inside for any longer than necessary.


Friday 15th

7 to 18 to 12°C. 6.92kWh 1.4kW max. Bright first thing bu soon started to cloud over with several long heavy showers throughout the day.


Finished potting up the chrysanthemum cuttings. Pat made a start on weeding the new hedge between the showers. Mainly cleavers, nettles and chickweed which are easy to pull up when the ground is so wet.


I didn't go to the dentist. She is on maternity leave and the other one doesn't work on Fridays. The cavity doesn't hurt or taste bad, but it has some sharp edges so I need to keep my tongue away from it. Hopefully I can get at least a temporary filling next week.


Saturday 16th

11 to 16 to 12°C. 3.93kWh 600W max. Heavy showers most of the night and during the morning then intermittent drizzle for the rest of the day. You would think that June, being the month with the most daylight. would produce the most electricity from the solar panels. It has not yet produced half of what was generated in April and only just over a quarter of that for May!


Gave the polytunnel another good watering seeing as the water butts were overflowing again. Started to train the tomatoes up the strings hanging from wires across the top of the polytunnel. They are flowering and a few flowers have set but they are not swelling. Looks like we won't have any ripe tomatoes until late July at the earliest.


By this time we should be near picking the first broad beans but these also are weeks behind normal. One plant which is thriving in the cold and damp is the rhubarb. Usually this has gone limp and tasteless by now. Not this year; Pat picked some thick juicy stems and they tasted just like the first ones in March.


Sunday 17th

11 to 18 to 11°C. 5.3kWh 1.7kW max. Sunny morning but soon clouded over, drizzling by mid-afternoon.


My 69th birthday and, as happens when it falls on a Sunday, Father's day as well. Not that we bothered to celebrate either of them; we aren't ones for anniversaries. (our 43rd wedding anniversary passed without comment on the 14th). If it falls on a Saturday it coincides with the Queen's official birthday instead. So I have now started the final year of my 7th decadeSmile


Sowed Helinor overwintering swede and Milan Puple Top turnips in the fruit cage. Also January King cabbage, red and green kale and late broccoli for transplanting later. Not to stop the birds eating them but to keep the rabbits off. They are becoming a real nuisance and I have run out of wire netting to keep them out of anywhere else in the vegetable garden. They have also started nibbling the summer bedding, particularly the gazanias. I decided to plant these as an alternative to petunias which the rabbits ate last year. They don't seem to like begonias and strong tasting geraniums and marigolds and the nicotinias are poisonous (they are basically flowering tobacco plants). Annoying but looks like I will end up growing just the flowers the rabbits don't like; I can't really surround the flower beds with rabbit netting.


Monday 18th

9 to 22 to 14°C. 13.31kWh 2.3kW max. At last a proper June day with blue sky, a few fluffy white clouds and long sunny intervals.


Finished planting the summer bedding down the side of the drive. Later on started to build the frames for training the squashes in the polytunnel.


Pat cut the first of the calabrese. Not enough on its own, though it was ready to pick as the flowers were about to open, so had it with another Pixie cabbage


We were very proud of our display of crocuses in early spring all down the driveway and round some of the other flower beds. I planted single corms of the largest flowered types and over the years they multiplied into large colourful masses of blue, orange, yellow and white. I say 'were' because that will not be the case next spring. Something has dug up every clump and eaten them!! Some of this happened overnight but Pat is sure that at least one lot were intact in the mid-morning and disappeared between then and when I noticed the holes and shredded skins early in the afternoon.


This is becoming really annoying; more than that, upsetting. Anyone know how to get rid of rabbits? What are they going to destroy next?


Tuesday 19th

10 to 22 to 12°C. 14.03kWh 2.1kW max. Quite warm and sunny with a few fairweather fluffy clouds. It won't last; the next band of heavy rain is already approaching from the south west.


Fixed netting for the Early Onward, Onward and Alderman peas to climb up. Like the broad beans they are a couple of weeks late but the Onward and Alderman especially are growing well with the rain and sunshine. Then back to building the squash frames in the polytunnel.


Looking down the drive this morning saw two young squirrels foraging in the flower beds. They are very cheeky, only moving away when I got within 2 metres of them and then only ambling not running off in panic. Close inspection revealed they are the culprits for digging up the crocus. So it wasn't rabbits this time. Squirrels are even more difficult to keep away. They have always been around but never dug up bulbs before. Looks like now they have got the taste for them they will continue till none remain.


Wednesday 20th

8 to 25 to 15°C. 10.92kWh 2.1kW max. Another sunny day but looks like it will be the last one for a few days at least; more rain is forecast for early tomorrow morning right through the weekend.


Finally got an appointment with the dentist. Not as bad as I feared. The crown and filling beneath it were intact and the remaining part of the tooth was sound so all it needed was some cement to fix it back on.


Started training the taller chrysanthemums with three 100cm canes in each pot wound round with string. Didn't finish so the ones I left might be battered by the winds also forecast with the rain.


Thursday 21st

11 to 18 to 11°C. 2.14kW 500kW max. A very dull day with drizzle and heavy showers. Not what you expect on the longest day.


There are always silver linings to every [rain] cloud. At least we don't need to take time watering the garden and weeds, though they grow more and faster are easier to pull out. The more water we put into the polytunnel the better everything grows and despite the grey skies the temperature in there this afternoon was above 25°C. Moved another 40 watering cans full (500L) in there when it was only drizzling. Heavy rain soon filled up the water butts again.


Friday 22nd

11 to 16 to 11°C. 4.37kWh 700W max. Wet and windy with a few brighter intervals. Though the weather seemed bad here it was much worse just a few miles further north with flooding after up to 100mm of rain.


Continued to build the squash frames and train the tomatoes in the polytunnel.


Saturday 23rd

10 to 20 to 12°C. 9.43kWh 1.9kW max. A much brighter day but very windy. The wind dropped by the evening but then the rain came back.


Not feeling too good with the usual asthma and aching limbs. Not sure what caused it but I have had several short episodes of asthma since visiting the dentist on Wednesday but soon recovered each time after a few puffs of salbutamol. This time it only partly worked and then only for a couple of hours. Managed to tie up a few more chrysanthemums but that tired me out after less than an hour.


Sunday 24th

11 to 18 to 12°C. 6.7kWh 2.5kW max. Sunny intervals with heavy thundery showers. Cleared by evening when we went for a walk round the back roads. It was very quiet - maybe because there was a football match on the television? (unfortunately they lost so it won't be as quiet on Thursday evening Wink)The hedges are full of sweet-scented honeysuckle at the moment.


Finished building the frames in the polytunnel and also tidied it up. Finished tying up the chrysanthemums for the time being.


Monday 25th

12 to 25 to 12°C. 9.55kWh 2.2kW max. Sunny intervals. Feeling warmer.


Now the Spring work is finished it is time to start tidying the garden, starting with removing the weeds and stumps from in front of the new hedge. All rather boring but that is what a lot of gardening is about. There is some satisfaction when each part is cleared.


Tuesday 26th

10 to 21 to 17°C. 5.2kWh 1.3kW max. Overcast and very humid with very light drizzle and a couple of short heavy rain showers.


Continued to clear the ground in front of the new hedge. The drizzle was quite usefull in keeping me cool!!


Wednesday 27th

16 to 24 to 17°C. 6.91kWh 1.8kW max. Thin cloud with a few sunny intervals. Still very humid but no precipitation.


The first day when we had both strawberries and raspberries. The cucumbers and squashes are growing very quickly in the polytunnel, so quickly some of them need training more than once a day, the main and side shoots extending by several centimetres.


Thursday 28th

17 to 27 to 15°C. 6.33kWh 1.9kW max. Rained overnight then a very muggy, overcast day but no more rain. Compared with other parts of the country we got off lightly. Several places had violent thunderstorms and flash floods.


Watered in the polytunnel again while we still have lots of rain water. Too humid to do any more digging so watched Wimbledon later in the afternoon and evening.



Friday 29th

13 to 20 to 15°C. 5.31kWh 2.1kW max. Mainly overcast with a few short sunny intervals. Blustery wind.


Some men are coming to cut down the last of the cypress trees, which is getting so tall if it fell could end up in the road, and the rest of the sycamore which fell earlier in the year, barely missing the polytunnel. Both are too large for me to handle. A costly job but the amount of wood we get will probably nearly pay us back. In preparation I have temporarily dug up some of the new privet hedge near to the cypress and placed them in pots so they won't get damaged; they weren't growing very well near it anyway since it was taking all the moisture out of the ground. One of the advantages of privet is it can cope with being moved even in summer provided you keep it well watered.


Saturday 30th

14 to 22 to 12°C. 10.36 2.5kW max. Started off sunny but very windy with frequent short but heavy showers by late morning and into the evening and sunny between the showers.


Given the wind they decided to tackle the sycamore first and will return Tuesday or Wednesday next week to cut the cypress. The sycamore alone has produced several tons of wood, at least enough for half of next winter and the cypress is at least three times bigger.


During the first of the showers I did some more training of the tomatoes and squashes in the polytunnel. Then tried to continue with clearing the ground down the side of the new hedge. Trouble was each time I got started it suddenly rained really heavily, only for 5 minutes or so but bad enough to need to take shelter. Eventually I gave up.


July 2012