May 2014                                                                                                                                               Back to April


Thursday 1st

10 to 15 to 9°C. 3.27kWh 900W max. Misty start with light rain by lunchtime and heavy rain most of the afternoon; altogether 12mm of rain which will help to refill our rainwater supplies.


Started to tidy up the polytunnel in readiness for planting out the tomatoes and squashes later this month.


Friday 2nd

6 to 15 to 7°C 4.31kWh 800W max. Cloudy all day with a chill wind.


Continued to move plants out of the polytunnel to plant elsewhere, including the trays of Early Onward peas and Green Longpod broad beans. Moved more of the trays of recently sowed wild flowers into the nursery area to clear the cold frames for the summer bedding which also needs moving out of the polytunnel.


We have caught 5 rabbits in the last three days, one full grown and 4 little ones, possibly her litter? Hopefully that will have got rid of the rabbit problem for the time being at least. Looking back this problem started a few months after the local farmer dug out a new pond in the field next door in 2012. I suspect maybe they are burrowing into the large pile of soil he dug out when he did this.


Saturday 3rd

1 to 16 to 10°C. 11.28kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny but very chilly start, not really warming up till late in the afternoon.


Planted out the peas and broad beans into the remaining area of the chicken run which I have now fenced off; they still have lots of room to scratch in other parts of the vegetable garden. Then back to rearranging the polytunnel and moving more of the potatoes out.


Sunday 4th

9 to 18 to 10°C. 5.18kWh 900W max. Overcast with a few brighter though still cloudy intervals in the afternoon.


Finished moving all the wild flower trays from the cold frames to the fenced nursery, pulling out the grass and nettle seedlings as I did so. There are 190 of them altogether. With the origina1 80 which are already in the wild garden and the 120 more from last years sowing ready to move there that makes nearly 400.

Started moving the pots of summer bedding into the cold frames to harden off, starting with the mimulus and impatiens.


Monday 5th

6 to 16 to 10°C. 8.29kWh 1.8kW max. Sunny intervals till late afternoon with some light rain into the evening.


Moved the 120 grown trays of wild flowers from the vegetable garden, where they have been all winter, across to the wild garden where I laid the mats out, avoiding the clumps of daffodil leaves and the still flowering bluebells. There is still room for many more of these mats.

Temporarily let the hens into where the trays were till I can get round to digging the ground over for the maincrop potatoes,  leeks and peas.


Tuesday 6th

10 to 18 to 10°C. 11.5kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny morning with a few short heavy showers in the afternoon.


Despite the rain managed to dig over the parts of the vegetable garden I uncovered yesterday and the rest of the

ground between the apple trees and the road. Tomorrow I hope to plant the maincrop potatoes here.


Wednesday 7th

7 to 15 to 11°C. 11.35kWh 2.2kW max. Very similar weather to yesterday but with more wind.


Planted out the maincrop potatoes, King Edward and Vales Sovereign which I had already got going in 3L pots in the polytunnel. They were tall enough to plant them quite deep so that means they will need less earthing up.


Thursday 8th

9 to 16 to 10°C. 2.26kWh 800W max. A dull day with some heavyy rain in the morning, clearing by mid-afternoon.


Two days ago the water storage was half empty. By the afternoon it was full to overflowing; I estimate we have collected well over 1000L. We will need quite a lot of this when I start planting the tomatoes and squashes in the polytunnel.


A good day to catch up on jobs in the house. Fitted a new pump for the shower and cleaned the ball valve on the upstairs toilet. Then continued to move the rest of the potatoes out of the polytunnel.


Friday 9th

8 to 15 to 10°C. 8.24kWh 2.1kW max. Windy with sunny intervals and some blustery showers.


Used some of the polycarbonate sheets from the polytunnel inner box, which isn't needed any more, to build a box  round the calabrese and cabbages in the fruit cage. This we covered with a very fine mesh which is claimed to keep out all insects, not just butterflies but aphids as well. Just an experiment but if it works I might get more of this mesh next year.

Planted out the rest of the maincrop potatoes, Safari and Harmony. the polytunnel is now nearly empty apart from some trays of brassicas, peas and marigolds so started to plant out the squashes.


Saturday 10th

9 to 17 to 9°C. 8.05kWh 1.9kW max. Windy with some sunny intervals but also some heavy showers (6mm of rain in the last 24 hours)


Now the polytunnel is empty I can start to plant the polytunnel. Finished planting the squashes, Honey Bear, Patty Pan, Autumn Crown, Crown Prince and Hercules butternut squash and the Floridor courgettes and then later in the afternoon and in the evening the tomatoes, Shirley, Bejbino, Marmande and Malinowy Henryka. That leaves the aubergines and peppers still to be planted and I musn't forget to leave room for the three grafted cucumber plants which should be coming in the next week or so,


Sunday 11th

8 to 13 to 7°C. 4.11kWh 1.2kW max. Heavy rain overnight followed by a dull damp day with a short brighter spell in the afternoon.


The water store was full to overflowing by this morning so moved around 300L into the polytunnel, giving everything a good watering; you never know this could be the last rain for months so better make the best of it.

Kirstin Mark and Anna came for the day so didn't get much done apart from entertaining Anna and talking to Kirstin and Mark. It was nice to see them. Anna wants me to knit her some more dolls so that will keep me occupied  till her birthday and Christmas.


Monday 12th

7 to 15 to 9°C. 4.82kWh 1.1kW max. Rained most of the night and morning with some heavy bursts from time to time. Cleared by mid-afternoon but there were still some short spells of light rain and drizzle into the evening. There has been over 30mm of rain in the last few days.


Completed planting out the polytunnel.



Tuesday 13th

6 to 16 to 6°C. 7.12kWh 1.2kW max. Heavy rain in the morning with sunny intervals and heavy showers, some with hail, later. Cleared in the late afternoon to a moonlit night. It is forecast to be a better day tomorrow.


Started sowing some more wild flower mats.


Wednesday 14th

5 to 19 to 9°C. 12.79kWh 2.3kW max. Mainly sunny with a few clouds in the early afternoon. We have now produced 4000kWh of electricity from the solar panels in 27 months.


The extra early potatoes, Casablanca, are now supplying us with delicious new potatoes every day, enough for two. Pat takes a couple of tubers from each bag and leaves the rest to swell for next time.


Thursday 15th

7 to 21 to 11°C. 10.37kWh 2.3kW max. Sunny with thin high cloud. Rather humid.


The tomatoes need training and their side shoots removed. In the past I have trained them up strings to wires attached to the hoops of the polytunnel but the strain of these wires caused the end hoops to bend inwards making the polythene skin loose. I think this was why the skin failed last winter a year earlier than I expected. So this year I am training them up 2m canes instead and fastening these canes together with other canes crossing them horizontally to give them more strength. I have always done this with the sqashes but in their case they need much more bracing; this I will do as usual in early June.


Friday 16th

8 to 25 to 12°C. 12.37kWh 1.9kW max. Sunny but with thin cloud. Warm and humid with only a light breeze so, in short, a perfect late spring day.


Continued to sow more wild flower mats. We now have nearly 300.


Saturday 17th

8 to 23 to 10°C. 13.66kWh 2.2kW max. Another sunny day with only a few small fluffy clouds.


Spent most of the morning spraying the remaining invasive weeds (nettles,docks, cow parsley, creeping buttercup, thistles, cleavers etc.) on the verge and the rest of the garden, particularly the wild garden,  with glyphosate. Then back to more wild flower trays and planting the remaining mid-season potatoes, Cara and Rubesse, into bags.


Sunday 18th

8 to 24 to 12°C. 13.69kWh 2.3kW max. Another clear sunny day but a strong southerly breeze made it feel cooler.


Dug over some more of the vegetable garden so I can plant out the leeks. Then finally finished planting the potato bags.


Monday 19th

8 to 23 to 14°C. 11.35kWh 2.1kW max, Mainly warm and sunny with some broken cloud in the morning. More cloud in the afternoon with some thundery showers.


Finished the wild flower trays and started to pot on more of brassica seedling, starting with the Purple Sprouting Broccoli and January King cabbage.


Tuesday 20th

14 to 22 to 14°C. 6.43kWh 2.1kWh max. Mainly cloudy with a few sunny intervals but also some heavy showers. Feeling warm and humid but the breeze picked up in the afternoon.


Continued potting on the summer bedding starting with the Nicotinia and Coleus.


Wednesday 21st

14 to 20 to 14°C. 14.53kWh 2.2kW max. Sunny all day. The best solar generation so far this week. But it didn't feel as warm as recently because there was a stronger wind. Started to cloud over in the evening.


Planted out the late broccoli and brussel sprout plants, started in the polytunnel, in the fruit cage. Then back to potting on the summer bedding, this time some of the marigolds.


Thursday 22nd

14 to 17 to 15°C. 3.98 kWh 900W max. Rained during the night and most of the morning, stopping long enough for me to cast my vote in the European Elections. A few brighter periods in the aftenoon but also some heavy thundery showers. More rain is forecast for tomorrow.


Planted out the early broccoli in the polytunnel and then started to pull up the remaining leeks so I can clear the ground for planting climbing and runner beans. Started raining so came inside to investigate why the Broadband has been so slow and unreliable for several weeks now. This is why I can't always do this diary every day and haven't posted any pictures recently. My ISP thinks it is a problem with the wiring in the house or maybe from the BT box outside into the house. So far I have found one junction box which was a little damp and rusty so I replaced this but it still isn't much better. Let's hope this latest entry saves when I try now.


Friday 23rd

8 to 15 to 11°C. 3.46kWh 600W max. Overcast with heavy rain showers, some of them with thunder.


Plenty of work to do in the polytunnel out of the rain. including potting on more marigolds and training the tomatoes and squashes up their canes. The three grafted cucumbers, variety Socrates, came and I planted these at the far end of the polytunnel. This is something new; I have always grown them from seed before but this takes a lot of electricity for the propagator and often the first sowing doesn't work. The 3 grafted plants cost around twice that of two packets of seed and are supposed to keep going longer and produce more fruits. We shall see.


Saturday 24th

7 to 13 to 11°C. Overcast with light to heavy rain most of the time. Cleared in the late afternoon.


Plenty to do in the polytunnel training the tomatoes, potting on the last of the marigolds and starting to build the frames for the squashes.

For the first time this year our dinner consisted almost entirely of produce from the garden. An omelette made from eggs laid by our chickens, the first courgette, early peas and potatoes. For pudding we had rhubarb crumble though the crumble wasn't made with things we had grown, and neither was the tea we washed it down with.


Sunday 25th

10 to 14 to 11°C. 4.76kWh 1.2kW max. Mainly cloudy with a few sunny intervals but also some heave thundery showers.


Finished training the tomatoes and nearly finished building the frames for the squashes, also placed short canes near the peppers and aubergines ready for when they grow taller. There are already flowers on the peppers and aubergines and some set fruits on the squashes and tomatoes.


Sarah turned up with Euan around 6pm to stay for a few days. Hopefully the weather will improve for them to go out for the day.


Monday 26th

7 to 18 to 11°C. 13.8kWh. 13.7kWh 2.3kW max. A much better day with plenty of sunshine and some thin cloud to stop it being too strong.


Sarah took Euan out for the day to Chirk castle and the Llangollan Viaduct. We stopped at home to try and fix the problems with the telephone line. As you can see the Internet is working though very slowly but the telephone doesn't have a dialling tone and if you call it rings but you can't answer. Checked all the lines between the outside box and the master socket inside and couldn't find anything wrong so contacted BT to report a fault. Hopefully the cause is them not us; the charge for a callout caused by faults on your side of the connection is £129.99 !!


Finally got round in the late afternoon to planting out the leeks.


Tuesday 27th

11 to 17 to 12°C. 7.63kWh 1.9kW max. Sunny intervals with mainly broken cloud. A few spots of drizzle in the afternoon.


Started to prepare the fruit cage for putting on the fine net. Some of the bolts which hold the top bars onto the uprights have come loose so these need to be tightened first as otherwise the net will catch on them as we pull it over. Not an easy task as the uprights are 2m high and the pigeon netting gets in the way. So you need to screw the bolts back in not being easy to reach them and doing it entirely by touch. Now we need to wait for a quiet dry day; certainly no tomorrow which is forecast heavy rain.


Sarah and Euan went to Hawkstone Follies in the morning coming back around 4pm. Euan was very useful helping me build the runner bean frame and planting them. I gave him and Sarah the first strawberries we have picked this year; there will soon be plenty more for Pat and me when they have gone back home.


Wednesday 28th

10 to 12 to 9°C. 2.74kWh 600W max. A very dull day with light rain or drizzle and some occasional heavier showers.


I am writing this (and Thursdays) on Friday because the Broadband finally gave up on Wednesday morning. Not a day to be outside but still had some work in the polytunnel finishing training the tomatoes and squashes.


Thursday 29th

10 to 14 to 9°C. 2.86kWh 700W max. Another dull day but with only a little drizzly rain.


Sarah and Euan went back home leaving us to tighten up more of the fruit cage frame. Later I started potting on some impatiens and begonias into 1L pots to place in the beds in front of the conservatory and house, replacing the pots of spring flowering primula, pansies, viola and bellis.


Friday 30th

10 to 15 to 12°C. 4.93kWh 1.4kW max. Dull start but brightened up a little in the afternoon before becoming cloudy again.


Still enough to fit the fine net on the fruit cage; only just in time because there will be a lot of ripe strawberries once we get some sun. Unfortunately there must have been some mice in the shed where we stored the net so there wer a few holes to darn up with string after we had fitted it. If there is even one hole you can be sure the blackbirds and thrushes will find there way in after the cherries, strawberries and raspberries.

Carried on potting on some more impatiens and begonias for the beds near the house.

The BT Open Reach engineers finally turned up in the afternoon to fix the telephone wire. It had snagged on the branches of a tree which it passes through to get to our house and they needed to fit a completely new section. The broadband is now working again though it is rather slow; they advised me to ring our ISP on Monday to ask them to speed it up again.


Saturday 31st

12 to 18 to 11°C. 7.79kWh 1.6kW max. Broken cloud with a few sunny intervals.


Dug over the rest of the onion bed to plant the remaining onions. Dug over the strip of land between the fruit cage and the path down the north of the vegetable garden, This has been open for the hens up till now but I need to fence it off so I can plant the climbing main-crop peas, Alderman, to climb up the fruit cage netting. Finally dug over and fenced off the salad bed between the back of the house and the old greenhouse. Pat continued to train the tomatoes and squashes in the polytunnel. Later, when it had cooled off I hoed the whole of the polytunnel to deter all the tiny weed seedlings now growing between the tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and squashes.