May 2012                                                                                                                                                             Back to April


Tuesday 1st

9 to 11 to 8°C. 1.42kWh  250W max.  Rained all day though not as heavy as Sunday.


Not a good start for May Day.


Wednesday 2nd

8 to 17 to 10°C. 6.7kWh 1.8kW max. Started off cloudy but improved by lunchtime with broken high cloud in the afternoon and feeling quite warm.


Placed around 9" of mulch down the rows between the outside planted potatoes in preparation for earthing them up as they grow taller. Planted out the trial Bounty potatoes I started off in pots in the polytunnel. They already have small tubers showing despite the fact that they are classed as an early maincrop. Perhaps the name gives it away - those small tubers will swell to a bountiful crop by September?


Thursday 3rd

7 to 13 to 8°C. 4kWh 1.2kW max. A grey day with a few brighter spells.


Finished pricking out the Bristol onions into 20 cell trays then pricked out the Coleus into 12 cell trays. Took some more chrysanthemum cuttings. Pat finished weeding the strawberries.


The surveyor came to measure up for the new double glazed windows. They should be fitted by the end of the month and then we can start looking for someone to fit external insulation to the house.


Friday 4th

8 to 13 to 6°C. 4.1kWh 1.3kW max. Another grey day. Feeling colder as the wind moves to the north east again


Spent most of the afternoon weeding the vegatable patch and the border down the side of the drive.


Some might wonder why we grow not only the strawberries, raspberries and cherries in the fruit cage but the cabbages, calabrese, brocolli, brussel sprouts and kale as well. Today you could see the reason. A large rabbit was trying to dig under the rabbit wire mesh all round the bottom of the fruit cage. I scared it off but it will be back. Hopefully it wont dig under it and get in or the early Pixie cabbages won't be on our plates in a couple of weeks time but inside its stomach!! As a precaution I have placed an extra barrier of bricks round the outside of the mesh near to the cabbages.


Saturday 5th

0 to 13 to 5°C 9kWh 2.1kW max. Cold and clear overnight and sunny till mid morning but then clouded over with a few light showers and a cold northerly breeze. Cleared again after dark.


Continued clearing the border down the side of the drive.


Sunday 6th

2 to 14 to 4°C. 10.3kWh 1.9kW max. Thin clouds with long sunny intervals but still with that cold breeze.


Time to sow the cucumber, runner beans, climbing beans and dwarf beans in trays in the propagator, which needs turning up to 25°C to ensure germination. So hopefully we won't have any cold nights from now on (it has only a 60W heater). Also sowed celeriac double curled parsley.


Finished digging over the border down the side of the drive. Sprinkled growmore fertiliser on the potatoes, onions, raspberries, strawberries and round the top fruit trees. The new hedge is growing really well so gave this some more fertiliser too. Spot treated parts of the lawn which still need more lawn sand.


Monday 7th

2 to 14 to 8°C. 4kWh 500W max. Clear and cold overnight and sunny first thing but soon clouded over and started to rain at 10am. Cleared around 4pm but started raining again at 7pm.


The usual Bank Holiday weather!!


Tuesday 8th

4 to 19 to 9°C. 11.1kWh 2.3kW max. Long sunny intervals all day and a much warmer breeze.


Started to clear the ground behind the garage so I can move the path from the patio to the lawn and shrubbery away from the Ash tree which has lifted it with it roots making it dangerous to walk on. I can do this now that I have cut down the hedge which ran between this path and the garage.


At the same time I want to run electricity cables beneath the paths from the garage to the wood shed and beyond to the potting shed and polytunnel. Big jobs which will take several days to complete. Trouble is rain is forecast again tomorrow and Thursday.


Wednesday 9th

6 to 15 to 12°C. 4kWh max 1.9kW. Started off fine but soon started raining, heavily most of the time, and still raining hard late into the night.


Thursday 10th

7 to 22 to 13°C. 8.4kWh max 1.9kW. Rain cleared overnight and then high cloud with long sunny intervals. Very strong but warm SW wind.


Cleared the area behind the garage and tidied up the existing cables running from the garage, most of which no longer go anywhere. Started to lay the paving stones.


Friday 11th

8 to 13 to 5°C. 6.4kWh max 2.1kW. Similar weather to yesterday except that the wind moved back to the north and was cold.


Saturday 12th

3 to 15 to 6°C. 11.13kWh max 2.32kW. Long sunny intervals. Feeling warm where sheltered from the north westerly breeze.


Finished laying the path behind the garage. Pat made a start on clearing the cleavers, docks, cow parsley, dandelions, buttercups, nettles and couch grass from the wild garden, making it easier to see the bluebells, primroses and daisies currently in flower.


Sunday 13th

4 to 19 to 10°C. 14.04kWh max 2.31kW. Long sunny intervals throughout the day, leading to the best electrical generation so far!!


Strimmed the verges early in the morning before the traffic got too busy. The road is only just wide enough for two lorries to pass and yet there are cars moving at well over 60 mph most almost continuously during the week except for Sunday morning. So whenever there is traffic coming both ways I need to stop. When we bought the house in the 70s one of the attractions was how quiet the road was. As usual the line broke several times, not helped by discarded beer and soft drink cans tossed from passing cars buried in the grass. Why can't they take them home; I wonder how they would feel if I tossed my rubbish into their towny front garden?


Sowed another two rows of peas, Early Onward and Onward and started to dig over where I intend to sow the maincrop peas and plant the climbing, runner and dwarf beans once it warms up.


Monday 14th

8 to 18 to 7°C. 11.5kWh, 2.12kW max. Sunny but with more cloud than yesterday so slightly less electricity generated.


Finished digging over the remaining parts of the vegetable garden and sowed a row of Alderman main crop peas along two sides (S and E) of the hen run but not so close they will be able to peck at them when they have grown. They eventually grow up to 2m high so this way they won't shade any other vegetables. The hens might even appreciate the shade themselves if we get a sunny July and August.


Investigated one of the pots of Rocket potatoes. There are enough tubers in one pot now for one meal at least. Noticed that, despite the recent rain, they were quite dry so gave them a good watering, even though rain is forecast for tomorrow. Only showery rain so it may miss us.


Tuesday 15th

4 to 11 to 5°C. 7.7kWh 2.36kW max. Some rain overnight. Sunny intervals with very heavy showers, some with marble sized hail stones but nothing damaged. Cleared by early evening.


Started to move the chrysanthemums out of the polytunnel so I can start planting out the tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and squashes. Not yet though, there is still the threat of cold nights for the next few days.


Had our first salad of the season, radishes and mixed leaves, rather later than most years. Nothing seems to be growing very well with the continuing cold weather. Even the broad beans are late;nowhere near flowering yet, I have some celery plants ready to plant out but I can't risk the threat of frost, even covered with fleece.


The new potatoes were delicious!!


Wednesday 16th

3 to 15 to 5°C. 11kWh 2.31kW max. Breezy with sunny intervals.


Generally tidying up the polytunnel and watering. Pottted on the cucumbers and squashes.


Pat mowed the lawn. Amazingly, after nearly 10 weeks, she is still finding lots of broccoli to eat almost every day but it is finally starting to bolt. Obviously something that thrives in this cool weather?


Thursday 17th

4 to 17 to 10°C. 7.3kWh 1.9kW max. Some light rain overnight. Overcast but dry during the day with a few brighter intervals.


Started to plant out the brassicas into the fruit cage, starting with the Minicole and Golden Acre cabbages and early broccoli.


Friday 18th

8 to 17 to 8°C. 1.3kWh 1.9kW max. Thin cloud with a few sunny intervals. Rained in the evening.


Planted out the brussel sprouts and mid-season broccoli in the fruit cage. Planted the celery but not in the fruit cage so, because there are rabbits around, surrounded the bed with wire mesh to keep them off.


Saturday 19th

7 to 11 to 9°C. 2.1kWh 800W max. Light to medium rain all night and most of the morning then overcast but dry.


Started to dig over the soil inside the polytunnel in preparation for planting out the tomatoes peppers and squashes.


Sunday 20th

7 to 16 to 10°C. 7.63kWh 1.7kW max. Thin high cloud. feeling warmer.


Planted the tomatoes in the polytunnel at the far end (they were at the near end last year). There are four types, Shirley, which is a large salad tomato, Bejbino which is a smaller salad tomato with a stronger taste which I prefer, Big Red which is a 'beefsteak' cooking tomato, and Cherry Falls, which is a cherry plum bush tomato. All of them are supported to begin with using 5ft canes but the first three I will grow as cordons, removing all side shoots, up strings to the roof once they have reached the top of the canes. The Cherry Falls I have not tried before but from its name I assume the easiest way to grow it is to take the side shoots from the the first few nodes but then allow the upper shoots to cascade away from the main stem.


Monday 21st

6 to 18 to 9°C. 11.87kWh 2.1kW max. Mainly sunny with some patchy thin cloud.


Finally some proper May weather!


The men came to fit the replacement windows for the old double glazing we had installed over 30 years ago. Not aluminium like last time but UPVC but it looks OK since it matches the conservatory windows and the white walls of the cottage. Kept the old windows as they might make a useful cold frame.


Finished setting up the tomatoes. Moved the pots of dahlias, gladioli and tigridia out of the polytunnel to replace the finished hyacinths, tulips and narcissus on the patio; these I moved to the far end of the garden to die back and rest for next year.


Tuesday 22nd

6 to 22 to 12°C. 13.82kWh 1.9kW max. Hazy sun all day.  Temperature in the poytunnel went above 40°C for the first time this year.


Started to move some perennials from the nursery beds to the border down the side of the drive. Probably not an ideal day to do this, given the hot sun, but the soil is still very wet from the rain last week and leaving it any longer they would become too big to move.


Wednesday 23rd

9 to 23 to 13°C. 9.85kWh 2.1kW max. Misty start but cleared to thin cloud but mid-morning and hazy sunshine in the afternoon.


Too hot to work in the polytunnel but things to do in there, including planting the runner, climbing and fillet beans in trays, now that they have germinated. 39°C and 100% humidity. Who needs to invest in a sauna!!


Pat carried on clearing the big weeds in the wild garden, including cleavers which gave her some very sore arms. I told her to wear long sleeves if she was going to do this!!


Thursday 24th

12 to 24 to 15°C. 7.84kWh 1.7kW max. Misty start and overcast most of the morning. Sunny afternoon and clear evening.


Carried on planting out the perennials down the drive. Started planting up the troughs with bedding plants.


Went for a walk round the back roads in the evening. Only last week when we were walking I was wearing three layers of clothing and wondered whether I should have been wearing gloves. Today I was too warm just in a shirt.


Friday 25th

13 to 26 to 15°C. 13.65kWh 1.9kW max. The first continuously sunny day since we got the PV panels. The graph was a perfect bell curve. It was quite breezy from the east making it feel very pleasant despite the heat. Reminded me of a day at the seaside with the onshore wind keeping it cool.


The trouble with this hot dry weather at this time of year is all the young plants which need watering every day till their roots get down into the soil. We have already used well over half of our store of 2000L of rainwater in the 9 butts - only just over a week ago they were all full!! However, now we have the solar panels we can pump water from the well on a sunny day at no cost (the pump uses around 600W) and use it to refill the butts. I would still rather use soft rainwater rather than hard ground water though. So, never happy, we could do with some rain, ideally in the middle of the night.


My idea of a perfect climate would be temperature in the middle 20s, a gentle breeze, blue sky with a few wispy clouds by day and 2 hours of steady rain between 2 and 4am every 3-4 nights. It would be rather boring I suppose so maybe the unpredictable UK weather is at least more interesting, more challenging and a constant subject of conversation.


All that rain earlier in the month and now this sunshine is perfect for the farmers. For the last few days you can hear the sound of lush grass being mowed and the forage harvesters blowing it into the silage trucks towed by tractors constantly along thel local roads. Just for once the traffic is moving at a sensible speed past our drive.


Saturday 26th

11 to 26 to 14°C. 14.39kWh 1.92kW max. Very similar day to yesterday but there must have been more sun since that PV reading was the best yet.


Moved the rest of the chrysanthemums out of the polytunnel to make room to plant out the peppers and squashes. Rest of the day was filled with watering and weeding. Not very exciting but essential tasks in any garden at this time of year.


Sunday 27th

9 to 26 to 17°C. 14.25kWh 1.93kW max. Another sunny day with slightly less breeze and a few small fairweather clouds.


Planted out the peppers and aubergines in the polytunnel. As an experiment I planted half of each variety in the north sunnier border and half in the south border. I shall do the same with the squashes, apart form those planted in the middle bed. It will be interesting to see which fare best.


Monday 28th

12 to 26 to 14°C. 12.67kWh 1.95kW max. Sunny but becoming increasingly hazy with thin high cloud as the day progressed. Feeling colder in the evening as the breeze picked up again.


Finished planting out the summer bedding troughs.


Planted the cucumbers at the far end of the poytunnel. Hopefully they will be far enough away from the squashes to prevent any risk of cross-fertilisation. Cucumbers go bitter if they are fertilised. The variety I grow produces only female flowers so the only possible way they could be fertilised is from male flowers on the squashes. I am never sure what the chances of this happening are.


Continued to clear down the side of the drive in preparation for planting the summer bedding.


Tuesday 29th

10 to 23 to 12°C. 9,27kWh 2.2kW max. Sunny but with increasing amounts of fluffy clouds and a cool breeze. It appears that the presence of some cloud cover increases the maximum output of the solar panels but the total daily amount is reduced. Possibly this is because the clouds spread the photons more widely across the panels when the sun is shining but block them when the sun is directly behind a cloud?


Continued to plant out the squashes and clear the drive.


Wednesday 30th

9 to 25 to 13°C. 8.6kWh 2.1kW max. Misty start clearing to sunny with a few clouds but clouding over by late afternoon with a few spots of drizzle.


Pat noticed the strawberries were beginning to ripen. So time to put the fine mesh net on the fruit cage before the blackbirds and squirrels notice. A big job which took most of the afternoon to do. The cage is 2m high, 12m wide and 13m long. The fine mesh also keeps out the cabbage white butterflies and cabbage moths so they can't lay eggs on the brassicas and later will protect the cherries and raspberries from the birds and squirrels..


Thursday 31st

12 to 19 to 12°C. 3.3kWh 650W max. Overcast with occasional periods of light drizzle.


Finished digging over the border down the drive. If it clears up I will plant summer bedding there tomorrow.


June 2012