March 2015                                                                             Back to February


Sunday 1st

10 to 5 to 0°C. 4.76kWh. Mild sunny start but the wind turned more northerly and the temperature had dropped by lunchtime with some blustery heavy showers, some with hail, in the afternoon and evening.


Not a day to work outside but did get chance to move 250L of the rain water into the polytunnel between the showers.


All 5 hens were basking in the sun this morning, though still not together but there seems to be less bullying going on between the two older ones and the 3 youngsters. This afternoon the hail shower drove them to an early bedtime.


Bluebelle who thinks she is in charge

Marigold who is henpecked but just accepts her place

Snowdrop who is by far the most intelligent and is really the one in charge because the others follow her and even the old ones show her some respect

Tweedledum and tweedledee; the older ones. Don' t ask which is which.


Monday 2nd

-2 to 6 to 2°C. 7.05kWh 1.7kW max. Another sunny but with a cold wind.


Dug over some more of the vegetable garden helped by Snowdrop and the two older hens.


Snowdrops in the wild garden.


Tuesday 3rd

-1 to 6 to 2°C. 8.71kWh 1.8kW max. Cold with some wintery showers overnight but cleared to a very sunny day, though still with a cold wind. Warmer weather is forecast for later in the week.


We got our first egg for some time this morning. Only half size and we suspect it was Snowdrop who laid it. Hopefully now they have settled down we will get some more on a regular basis, including from the older hens.


Finished digging over the vegetable garden with help from the hens. They will need all those worms, wireworms, leather jackets and millipedes to give them extra protein for all the eggs they are going to lay!



Aconites and snowdrops in the wild garden and plenty of daffodils and bluebells to come later.


Wednesday 4th

2 to 7 to 2°C. 6.31kWh 1.5kW max. Another sunny day but with more cloud than yesterday. The cold northely wind dropped in the evening to cold moonlit night with only thin clouds.


Another small egg; again it seems from Snowdrop. Dug over the salad bed. Tomorrow I will build blocks and cover them with the old double glazed windows to warm up the soil.


 The first of the transplanted pug plants, salvia (at the back left) and bacopa. The salvia seems to be suffering from cold even though the temperature only drops to around 6°C at night and is around 15°C during the day. I am covering them with fleece at night; I do hope this will help them survive. The forecast is for warmer weather from tomorrow.


Thursday 5th

0 to 10 to 6°C. 1.83kWh 600W max. The wind moved from NW to SW over the day but it was mainly cloudy so very different to the recent sunny but cold weather.


The Phlox Popstars plugs came so I transplanted these into 12 cell trays as usual.

Snowdrop laid another small egg; almost enough for an omelette for one of us. Hopefully the two older hens will start again and the two younger ones will produce their own small eggs soon.



The primroses are now flowering well in front of the house. Sorry can't photograph their perfume which unlike the chemicals people use on themselves and their clothes doesn't give me asthma. Behind them the Dianthus are just starting to flower also.


Friday 6th

6 to 12 to 8°C. 6.47kWh 1.7kW max. A sunny Spring day with a south westerly breeze making it feel quite warm for early March.


Two more eggs, one full sized and one not properly formed with no shell. The first means one of the older hens is laying again, the second is one of the other younger hens, not Snowdrop.


The Verbena Show Times plugs came today so planted them on into cell trays. Also the Cabbage Golden Acre have germinated and are big enough to plant out into cells. The early main crop potatoes King Edward VII had had also chitted and were getting soft so planted these into 3L pots.


Meanwhile Pat continued cleaning up the raspberries and strawberries in the fruit cage.


The hamamelis (witch hazel) has finally started flowering. It usually flowers in Mid-January but we moved it last year to new position and this probably explains the delay


Saturday 7th

8 to 13 to 8°C. 4.17kWh 900W max. Cloudy start but cleared by lunchtime to a sunny afternoon with a warm southerly breeze.



The Excellenz early peas and Aquadulce broad beans I germinated inside and then grew on in cell trays are big enough to plant out, especially as no cold weather is forecast for the next few days. So I planted these into the vegetable patch between the fruit cage and the fruit trees which is going to be the legume area for this year and fenced them off with wire netting to keep the hens out. I also placed fleece over them, not to protect them from the cold but to stop the magpies digging them up. They know that at the bottom of each plantlet there is still a pea; we have lost whole rows to them in the past.


Sunday 8th

8 to 10 to 0°C. 1.17kWh 200W max. Cloudy with some heavy showers. Brightened for a time in the afternoon but then turned cloudy and cold; the forecast yesterday was obviously wrong.


Feeling unwell so didn't do much today.


Monday 9th

-2 to 10 to 4°C. 1.87kWh 400W max. Frost overnight warming up a little by dawn as it clouded over again. Stayed overcast most of the day with a few short showers then cleared again after dusk.


Had a very severe asthma attack in the middle of then night to didn't feel up to much but managed to plant out the second half of the now germinated Excellenz peas into more 12 cell trays.



Usually at this time of year the chrysanthemums have died back and are starting to grow new shoots from which I can take cuttings. These are still last years growth; I am not sure how to proceed from here.


Tuesday 10th

4 to 12 to 1°C. 8.97kWh 1.7kW max. Another sunny day. Quite warm with only a slight breeze and even warmer in the polytunnel where the early potatoes are beginning to come through the surface of their pots.


Planted out the rest of the first batch of peas and beans.Then back to transplanting brassicas into cell trays.


Wednesday 11th

2 to 10 to 4°C. 2.97kW 1.2kW max. Sunnt start but soon clouded over with some heavy for a time around lunchtime and a few showers in the afternoon.



The first of the miniature narcissus have opened on the raised bed.


Thursday 12th

3 to 12 to 8°C. 2.74kWh 600W max. Mainly overcast with rain by evening.


The antirrhinum plug plants came so moved them into 12 cell trays. Then continued transplanting the brassicas, including the late and mid-season sprouts and the Darkibor kale.



There are plenty of open daffodils on the roadside verges but they are an earlier variety than any of those in our garden; I prefer to have a long season rather than them all open at once. This is the only one so far in the wild garden but there will be many more by next week.


Friday 13th

3 to 5 to 4°C. 1.28kWh 400W max. We have had quite a few sunny Spring days this month; this was not one of them. Overcast and wet with a cold northerly wind. It did brighten up later in the afternoon after over 10mm of rain but it still felt very cold in the wind.


Very cold even in the polytunnel. I tried to transplant some more brassica seedlings into trays but my fingers were so cold I had to give up after half an hour. Started moving more rain water into the polytunnel instead but one of the watering cans sprung a leak. Maybe it was the date?


The camellias have started to flower. Always a welcome sight.


 Saturday 14th

1 to 6 to 2°C. 1.53kWh 300W max. Another cold overcast day with a northeasterly wind making it feel even colder.


Kept warm by forking over some of the beds in the polytunnel. Then scattered some lime onto them to try and make them more suitable for the brassicas.


Sunday 15th

2 to 7 to 3°C. 1.68kWh 400W max. Very similar to yesterday with the same north easterly wind.


Finished transplanting the brassicase despite having numb fingers by the time I had finished. I needed to empty the propagators so I could sow the tomato and pepper seeds. Let's hope the weather will be a lot warmer before these need transplanting.


Pulled up what was left of the sprouts and gave them to the hens; they like their greens, especially in winter. Dug over the bed and limed it.


Monday 16th

4 to 8 to 3°C. 2.79kWh 1.5kW max. Mainly overcast  with a couple of short sunny intervals in the morning. Less windy so feeling a little warmer.


Finally got round to rearranging the vegetable bed where I am planting the beans and peas this year. It now has a lower movable mesh fence I can move as I plant more and this wil make itb easier to get in while still allowing the hens into the rest. Only Snowdrop and one or the other of the older hens are laying eggs; the other two younger ones haven't yet started.



Even on a dismal day the crocusses still look bright.


Tuesday 17th

4 to 8 to 0°C. 2.06kWh 400W max. Dull misty start staying overcast till late in the afternoon when it became sunny and stated clear after dark so we will probably have a frost.

The Swift potatoes are now through in their 2L pots and will need moving into larger pots or bags by the end of the month. Planted the maincrop Vales Sovereign and Cara in 3L pots. These will be planted outside once they are big enough and it has warmed up a bit more.


Wednesday 18th

.-1 to 9 to 3°. 3.93kWh 1kW max. Misty start, clearing by lunchtime to a mainly sunny afternoon. The electricity was off for most of the morning, they were trimming some trees which were getting too close to the cables, so the solar reading should have been more than this.


Spent most of the afternoon trying to get the chipper/shredder to start. Eventually discovered the low-oil safety cutout probe had become detached. This involved having to remove the cover of the crank case to fix it. By the time we got it working it was after 5pm.



The strawberries in their pots in the polytunnel are really starting to grow with some nice new green rosettes and even signs of a few flower buds.


Thursday 19th

0 to 9 to 4°C. 4.83kWh 1.5kW max.  Cold misty start clearing by lunchtime to a sunny afternoon, feeling quite warm in the light breeze and very warm in the polytunnel.


Pat finally managed to do some shredding while I started preparing lots of potting compost to repot the fuschias, dahlias and other summer bulbs, tubers and corms. This involves seiving the compost from all last years summer pots and mixing it with sieved rotted shredding from last year. Recycling at its best!!


Friday 20th

1 to 9 to 7°C. 5.42kWh 1.5kW max. Cold misty start but cleared by 7:30 and we thought we might get lucky with the solar eclipse. It came cloudy again but cleared just after it started around 8:50. Used a pinhole projection to see it but it wasn' t bright enough to take a reasonably clear photograph. It started to cloud over again but not before it reached the maximum cover which was about 85% here. It definitely went darker and felt colder. We expected the hens to notice but they didn't.


Pat did some more shredding and I continued to tidy up or pot on the summer flowers, bulbs and corms.




 This is what I managed to take at its maximum cover and this is what I was hoping to see (library picture)


Saturday 21st

3 to 9 to 1°C. 7.07kWh 1.7kW max.  Mainly sunny with only a light breeze.

Continued with the shredding and bulb potting. Also planted the heat treated onions Hytech and Red Baron into 12 cell trays.


Sunday 22nd

-2 to 10 to 3°C. 7.11kWh 2.0kW max.  Clear frosty night followed by a mainly sunny day.


Continued bulb potting and tidying up the dahlias also in pots. Also turned over one of the compost bins.


Pat went for her birthday day out with our two daughters Sarah and Kirstin; they alll have birthdays within 6 weeks of each other.


 Two eggs, four yolks. This is what I got for my scrambled egg today. Most likely they were from one or maybe two of the new hens; they are more likely to lay double-yolked eggs. We are now getting two eggs every day, mainly one from the older hens and one from the younger, most likely Snowdrop.


Monday 23rd

1 to 8 to 2°C. 2.71kWh 400W max. Overcast with a chill northwesterly wind.


Continued to tidy up the dahlias and then took cuttings from the chrysanthemums. Wasn't sure exactly how to do this as they have never died back from last year. Usually the cuttings are new shoots started in spring but there aren't any of these, so decided to cut  back the old shoots and use these as cuttings, assuming the mother plants will sprout back below where they were cut. It should work. Chrysanthemums are the easiest plant I know to take cuttings; just strip the bottom leaves off and plant them in cell trays, leaving these sat in water till they stop wilting.


Tuesday 24th

-2 to 8 to 2°C. 6.46kW 1.4kW max.  Sunny intervals with a few heavy showers, some with hail, and a cold northerly wind.


Not the best of days for us. It started with my going to a doctor's appointment at 8:30 only to find they had made it at the other surgery in the next village 5 miles away so that was cancelled and rebooked for the middle of next month. Then Pat went shopping in the afternoon and came back saying the car was reporting a puncture and when I had a look it was correct, the right rear tyre was partly deflated. I foot pumped it up enough so she could drive it to the garage and unfortunately the puncture was caused by a large metal bolt in the shoulder of tyre and couldn't be plugged. So that was a new tyre to pay for. The car is new and under warranty but that doesn't cover tyres. The car doesn't have a spare, just some foam to use in an emergency. After this episode we decided we needed to have a proper spare and also a jack, something else which didn't come with the car. So all together this cost over £200. Not the cheapest day out for her at the weekend where she probably picked up the bolt in the first place.


Wednesday 25th

0 to 10 to 5°C. 8.47kWh 2.0kW max. Cold mistt start followed by some long sunny intervals with less wind.


Transplanted the leek seedlings into 12 cell trays, early Porbellow, mid-season Elefant and late season Vernal; another vegetable we are still eating from last year. Pat started cutting the late purple -sprouting broccoli today and this is also started for next year. Mixed some coir compost so I can transplant the celery seedlings and after that the tomato, aubergine and pepper.


Thursday 26th

2 to 10 to 4°C. 5.3kWh 1.2kW max. Rained most of the night but not very heavily (4.5mm), clearing by morning to a very windy day with sunny intervals. Too windy to safely go on my bike ride.


Transplanted the celery into cell trays and also the Marmande outdoor bush tomatoes. There are quite a few gaps in some of the hedges. Some of these I can fill with self seeded hawthorn, quickthorn and holly saplings scattered around the garden but I also thought I would try taking some cherry laurel cuttings. New green shoots have started appearing and need trimming back anyway so I mixed 2 parts of soil with 1 part of perlite and planted lots of these new shoots with a ripped off heel into this.


Friday 27th

1 to 12 to 6°. 6.37kWh 1.4kW max. Sunny intervals with only light winds.


Planted the germinated Early Onward peas into cell trays. Continued to empty the soil out of last years summer flowers pots which I will use to make the potting soil for this years early potatoes. The Swift ones are nearly ready to pot on.


Saturday 28th

6 to 13 to 9°C. 2.64kWh 800W max.  Some light rain overnight and in the morning. Overcast and very windy. The old adage about March coming in like a lion and out like a lamb seems to have been reversed. At least, despite the wind, it feels warmer.


Did some rearranging of the polytunnel so I could build a polycarbonate box around the right hand new frame. I needed to start moving stuff from the propagator, starting with the celery, so I could start planting on the tomatoes and peppers into cell trays to go into the propagators instead. Soon even these will need warming into the box so I can start the squashes and marigolds.


The drainpipe is for later use when I want to water the squashes from the back of the bed.


Sunday 29th

6 to 11 to 6°C. 2.46kWh 400W max. Overcast and windy with a few brighter but not sunny periods but also some short heavy showers.


The clocks went forward overnight so another hour of daylight in the afternoon or early evening but also a chance of a cold morning start. Planted the germinated Turbo broad beans in cell trays and then made a start moving the Swift super early potatoes from their 2L pots to 17.5L bags. Some of them already have tiny tubers already starting to form.


Monday 30th

4 to 10 to 7 to 10°C. 5.99kWh 1.7kW max. Sunny morning but clouded over by lunchtime with some heavy showers into the evening. Still very windy.


Finished planting the Swift potatoes. There was one of those uncanny coincidences with these. Some time ago Pat was tidying up the potato bags from last year which we had left in the polytunnel to dry out. She didn 't finish doing this and some were still left there. When the potato seed came there were 23 tubers, some which had more than 5 eyes so I cut them in half before planting them and we ended up with 33 altogether. Everyone of these sprouted so there were 33 to plant on. And there were exactly 33 bags in the pile left in the polytunnel.


So Pat didn't know how many she had left, I didn't know how many seed potatoes would come and how many I could divide and how many would grow on for transplanting, and yet this was exactly the number of bags I needed. I suppose it isn't really that unlikely. I usually end up with between 25 and 35 potato plants and Pat would probably have finished tidying up if there were less than 10 bags and she had done more than half so you expect there to be somewhere between 10 and 40 bags left.


Tuesday 31st.

6 to 10 to 5°C. 7.47kWh 1.6kW max.  Very windy with sunny intervals between the scudding clouds but also some heavy showers, some with hail.


Pat has finally got to the end of our store of potatoes; we usually have a 6-8 week gap between the last of our main crop and the first of the super early. We don't have anywhere cool enough to stop them sprouting. Some of the last of the Rubesse and Vales Sovereign were good enough to use as seed potatoes so they were planted in 2L pots to get them going before planting them outside later.


On a better note the late broccoli has started flowering so we will have plenty of greens for next few weeks and we still have some parsnips and leeks good enough to eat.


Prepared the salad bed in front of the greenhouse and built a cold frame over part of it using concrete blocks and some old double glazed windows to warm up the soil.


The begonia corms stored inside over winter have started to sprout so took them into the polytunnel to give them a good soak before planting them in pots for the summer. Three of them are at least six years old and are getting so big I don't know if  I they will fit in anything less than a 10L pot..