March 2012                                                                                                                             Back to February 2012


Thursday 1st 

2 to 14 to 3°C, Slight frost first thing but sunny most of the day. Feeling slightly cooler in the westerly breeze


Started to transplant the strawberries, which have been in pots in the polytunnel all winter, into beds in the fruit cage.


Friday 2nd

1 to 13 to 5°C. Frost and mist first thing but but sunny most of the day with a cool breeze. Didn't clear by night like yesterday though.


Raked the leaves and moss of the lawn and then made a start on spiking and lifting the turf. It is in worse condition than normal because of all the walking on it late last autumn when we carried all the debris from the hedge over it; at one time we also had some of the debris piled on it for a couple of weeks.


Saturday 3rd

4 to 13 to 3°C. Heavy clouds with brief sunny intervals in the morning and late afternoon. Scattered heavy showers.


Finished spiking and lifting the lawn then pulled up last year's green kale since this year's is now ready for plucking. I sometimes wonder if we could continue for a second year rather than growing new? The red kale never got going this year, possibly because the weather was too mild? Same applies to the winter broccoli. The plants are enormous and very healthy and yet they are only just starting to flower.


Sunday 4th

2 to 6 to 2°C. Very dull, cold, windy and wet day with heavy showers till late afternoon.


To make things worse the rain somehow got into the outside electricity supply and I had to turn off the propagator. I need to fix this before we get any more frost. The cable goes straight from the waterproofed fuse box in the garage to the waterproof junction box in the wood shed with no joins so how this is happening is a mystery.


Monday 5th

2 to 8 to 1°C. Strong cold wind with occasional drizzle and a few bright intervals.


Spent most of the afternoon trying to find out what was wrong with the external electricity supply but without success. Trouble is it doesn't throw the trip switch straight away, only 15 to 20 minutes later, so it is very difficult to work out which part of the circuit is causing the problem. Luckily we have a 50m cable, usually for connecting the chain saw, which reaches from the house to the polytunnel. So temporarily we can use that.


Tuesday 6th

-2 to 11 to 6°C. Frosty clear start and stayed sunny all day but with a cold breeze.


A perfect day for the man to visit us to discuss fitting a solar photo voltaic system on the roof of the house. Decided to have 12 panels = 3KW on the front SE facing roof which gets all the morning sun and most of that in the afternoon, even at this time of year. This should supply just over half our requirements. This not only saves on the electricity bill but we also get paid a feed-in-tariff for each KWh we produce whether we use it or feed it into the grid plus some extra for when we are producing more than we are using.


Wednesday 7th

0 to 11 to 1°C. Clear cold night but started to rain around 5am coming warmer by morning - it was warmest around 10am. Rest of the day was windy with squally showers, some of them with hail and sleet but cleared again in the eveing.


Continued to tidy up the polytunnel, repotting the lilies and weeding the chrysanthemums before they start to grow new shoots. Ordered summer bedding and bulbs. Gazanias, geraniums and begonias. Freesias, gladioli and dahlias. Also new acer and some more fuschias.


Thursday 8th

0 to 12 to 6°C. Clear frosty start, clouding over by lunchtime with a chilly westerly breeze.


Finally I think I have discovered the problem with the outside electricity supply. A cable from the main fuse box in the house leads directly to a consumer unit in the garage which itself supplies cables to the various outbuildings. When you switch on the consumer unit everything seems OK for several minutes, sometimes over half an hour, when the main trip switch in the house goes off. It is this delay which made it so difficult to work out what was going on. Slowly over the last few days I have taken devices out of the system until finally today there was nothing connected at all. But it was still tripping.


So I came to conclusion that maybe the consumer unit itself was at fault. I connected the cable from the wood shed and polytunnel into the input side of the consumer unit, thus taking power directly from the house without going through the dipole isolator switch and this worked. Obviously not a permanent solution but I now know that it is the consumer unit which needs replacing and when I have doen this hopefully everything will work again, especially the propagator.


Friday 9th

6 to 13 to 8°C. Overcast with a few brief sunny intervals.


This morning at 6 am was the first dawn chorus I have heard this year with blackbirds, finches, robins, pigeons and great tits singing in the morning mist. Of course there may have been ones on previous days when I wasn't awake !! The thick curtains and double glazing don't help.


Saturday 10th

8 to 14 to 7°C. Thin cloud with a few sunny intervals. Less breeze making it feel warmer.


Trimmed the hedges and shrubs in the wild garden. Soon this will be filled with narcissus, primroses and bluebells to succeed the snowdrops, aconites and celandines which are now going back.


Sunday 11th

5 to 13 to 7°C. Overcast with brief sun in the afternoon. Apparently most of the country had blue sky today but not here.


Made a start on knocking down the old shed behind the polytunnel. Originally it was built to house the equipment for the swimming pool which has long gone. It has had a rotting roof for some time and I have finally got round to demolishing it. Once it has gone it allows access to quite a large patch of land between the polytunnel and hedge which I shall clear and maybe move the chickens to it later in the year.


Monday 12th

7 to 13 to 8°C. Exactly the same weather as yesterday.


The shed is down but there is a lot of debris to clear.


Tuesday 13th

7 to 11 to 8°C. More overcast and humid spring anticyclonic weather.


Sowed 4 diffferent varieties of tomato (Shirley, Big Boy, Bejbina,Cherry Tumbler), 3 of pepper(Hot, Sweet and Romanian) and aubergine (Moneymaker)


Wednesday 14th

6 to 11 to 1°C. Overcast and misty in the morning. Cleared to a sunny afternoon but with a cool breeze. Still clear after dark so got a good view of the apparently close approach of Venus and Jupiter over the western horizon just after sunset. Just for once the sky was clear for an astronomical event Smile


The beans and calabrese have germinated so started to transplant them into trays, 6 cell for the broad beans and 12 cell for the calabrese. The peas haven't yet germinated - why do I always have trouble with this early crop every year?


Most of the Rocket and Arran Pilot potatoes are growing vigorously in their 7.5L pots so started to put more soil in to earth them up.


Thursday 15th

1 to 9 to 4°C. Cold and misty morning. Cleared a little by lunchtime but still a miserable cold damp day. Further east parts of the countru were sunny and warm with temperatures around 20°C.


Kept warm by moving 25 barrow-loads of mulch next to the potato bed. I estimated a walked over 2 miles doing this!! Eventually once the potatoes are through this will be used to earth them up. Usually I take the mulch directly to them as I do it. This will save me time which I will need for other jobs in the garden by then.


Friday 16th

4 to 14 to 8°C. A slightly better day. For a short time in the afternoon it came sunny and felt quite warm.


The heat treated onion sets, Red Baron and Hytech, came so I planted these in 12 cell trays to start them off in the polytunnel. Just like the earlier sets I find it better to start them this way. It gets them going earlier so they grow bigger before they ripen and we don't have trouble with the birds pulling them up if you plant the bulbs directly outside before they are well sprouted.


Pat continued to clear the debris from the shed and I sawed up thewood from the  semi-rotten  parts to burn in the stove. The sounder planks I will use to make a second hen house when I have time later in the year.


Saturday 17th

5 to 13 to 4°C. Rained overnight, though not very much, and cleared to sunny intervals by the afternoon.


Finally finished emptying the first compost bin, throwing the last 12 barrow-loads into the chicken run, much to the delight of the hens. They love scratching it around finding lots of tasty morsals, and, at the same time, helping to improve the quality of the soil. The onions are growing well in the polytunnel and some of them will be ready to planted out in this well fertilised ground.


Sunday 18th

2 to 11 to 1°C. Rain overnight. Sunny in the afternoon leading to a clear cold night.


Continued to earth up the early potatoes in pots. Started to mix the potting mixture for the summer bulbs. Hopefully I can start to plant these later in the week, assuming the potential frost in the current weather doesn't penetrate the polytunnel and the fleece covered frames within.


Digging out loam from the turf mound to make this potting mixture noticed that some creature, probably a rabbit, had made several burrows into the mound. If it is still there it probably got a shock when I started digging it out!!


Monday 19th

0 to 14 to 5°C. Cold and sunny in the morning, slowly clouding over by teatime.


The scaffolders came to erect the scaffolding for installing the solar PVA panels which will probably happen on Thursday.


Transplanted the leeks and celery into 20 cell trays. Potted the gloxinias.


Tuesday 20th

3 to 17 to 8°C. A really sunny Spring day. Lots of bumblebees in the primroses and narcissus. I also saw a couple of Red Admiral butterflies.

The geranium plug plants came in the post so I transplanted these into 9 cell trays. Then continued potting the begonias and dahlias.


Wednesday 21st

6 to 14 to 4°C. Started off overcast but soon cleared to another sunny afternoon.

Continued potting more dahlias, then freesias and dwarf gladioli.


Thursday 22nd. My sister's birthday.Smile

2 to 16 to 10°C. Cool and misty to start but soon cleared in the bright sunshine.


Pat made a start on tidying up the wild garden. I suppose that sounds like a contradiction but without some intervention it would be taken over by nettles, docks, cleavers and creeping buttercup.


I continued to pot the summer bulbs and also moved the Kestrel potatoes started in the polytunnel into 17.5L polypots. They should provide a fill in crop between thepot-grown early potatoes and the main crop, including Kestrel, planted in the garden.


Friday 23rd

8 to 17 to 7°C. Misty start. Long sunny intervals.


Moved the hen run so they are only beneath the fruit trees, exposing the area next to the road where the onions will go once I have raked it flat.


Saturday 24th

4 to 17 to 9°C. Quite thick mist in the morning clearing by lunchtime to a warm sunny afternoon.


Planted the onions then returned to the polytunnel to prick out the tomato seedlings into 9 cell trays.


Sunday 25th

4 to 17 to 7°C. More warm Spring weather just like the previous few days.


Dug a deep bed with plenty of compost dug into it behind the heather bed next to the rose garden. Planted 50 large gladioli bulbs in it. Something we haven't grown for many years. They need to be planted deeply (> 20cm) to stop them being blown over, the main reason why I gave up growing them before.


Monday 26th

2 to 18 to 7°C. More of the same weather.


Continued to pot the summer flowering bulbs and corms.


Tuesday 27th

1 to 18 to 8°C. Clear, sunny and cloudless all day.


Started taking chrysanthemum cuttings. Much earlier than usual because of the warmth, especially in the polytunnel.


Lots of butterflies feeding on the aubretia and primroses mainly. Tried to take some photos but they are more wary than they are in the summer and only stay a few seconds on each flower.


Wednesday 28th

1 to 18 to 5°C. Wall to wall sunshine but with a light breeze making it feel a little cooler.


Sowed the first batch of salad crops. Lettuce (iceberg and cutting), salad onion, radish, beetroot and mixed leaves.


Finally, two weeks later than promised, the men came to fit the solar panels. They were only here around 4 hours and only got as far as attaching the rails to the roof. Tomorrow they are going to a job in Durham (!!) and won't be back till Friday. Looks like there is no way they can be finished by the end of March when the feed-in-tarrif halves again to only 9p a unit - it was 43p last August when we first enquired. Not to worry, the main reason for getting this done was to save on the ever increasing cost of electricity and do our bit for the environment. Even so it would have been nice to get the bonus of the higher tariff.


Thursday 29th

2 to 17 to 7°C. Slightly less sun and a northerly breeze making it feel cooler.


Friday 30th

6 to 13 to 8°C. Overcast with a northerly breeze. Looks like the exceptionally warm weather is over for now.


Still potting on the potatoes and taking cuttings of the chrysanthemums.


Pat has started on the late maincrop potatoes, Golden Wonder. The Vales Sovereign are sprouting too much to continue eating them. The warm weather isn't good for everything.


Saturday 31st

8 to 10 to 3°C. Overcast with a cool northerly breeze, clearing by dusk. May be frosty by morning.


The men finally turned up to fit the solar panels but there were no electricians to follow them so there is no way we can register them before the end of March despite the promises  that they would finished with days to spare. So much for using a local firm - they couldn't organise a proverbial booze-up in a brewery.


Turned two of the compost heaps, taking advantage of the cool weather; 2 into 1 and 3 into 2.


April 2002