May 2016                                                                                                                                                     Back to April


Sunday 1st

0 to 9 to 12°C. 3.76kWh 900W max. Cold bright start soon clouding over with some continuous rain till late afternoon, some of it quite heavy. The good thing was that following this rain was much warmer air and a southerly wind.


During the rain it was quite cold even in the polytunnel. Knowing it was going to come warmer we planted out the tomatoes and then potted on the the Bonita marigolds.


Monday 2nd

11 to 14 to 4°C. 4.99kWh 1.6kW max. Dull start with some rain, mostly light but a few heavier periods. Cleared in the afternoon and was warm and sunny for a few hours before a very heavy thundery shower and then cleared again in the evening.


Potted on the african marigolds and the celery in the morning then cleared the verge north of the drive, taking out the dandelions, nettles and docks but leaving most of the grass. Also cut back the hedge, especially the ivy which is smothering the lilacs and damsons.


Tuesday 3rd

1 to 14 to 7°C. 9.66kWh 2.3kW max.  Mainly sunny but with a chilly westerly wind.


Forked over some more of the vegetable garden between the fruit cage and the fruit trees so I could plant the first half of the Onward peas which had been growing in cell trays. Afterwards we noticed two magpies near to where I had planted them. These birds sometimes pull up pea seedlings to get at the remaining pea beneath the ground. Fortunately these two were not doing this, just finding grubs in the soil I had turned over.


Wednesday 4th

1 to 16 to 10°C. 13.74kWh 2.2kW max. Sunny with only thin wispy clouds; these are the best conditions for generating electricity. Feeling warmer as the wind has dropped.


Spent most of the afternoon moving wildflower mats from the nursery to the verge we cleared on Monday. 39 mats altogether 3 at a time walking around 1/4 mile round trip. So quite a lot of exercise but it will be worth it when they start to flower in a couple of weeks time. The ones we planted on the verge south of the drive last year flowered well and seeded, filling the whole bank and the ditch with new plants so we should have a good show here too.


After a short rest I started to move the geraniums into their final 1L pots.


The old potatoes have finally started going soft and sprouting so Pat had a look in the bags of Swfit super early potatoes. By feeling down in the soil she found a single large enough tuber in several bags for our first new potatoes of this year.


Thursday 5th

4 to 20 to 8°C. 13.348kWh 2.1kW max. Another sunny Spring day.


Went round to the local polling station to vote, though round here the only election is for the Police and Crime Commisioner so they weren't very busy. 3/4 mile but felt good enough to carry on round the shortest cricular route rather than straight back. Walked nearly 3 miles and I will admit I was getting rather stiff and achy by the time we got back but even so I was quite pleased to be able to walk that far only 8 weeks after my operation.


After a short break back to moving the geraniums.


Friday 6th

4 to 21 to 11°C 9.12kWh 1.8kW max. Warm, still and humid with high white clouds.


Took the opportunity of the lack of a breeze to spray the weeds in the paths and drive and the nettles in the wilder parts of the garden with glyphosate weedkiller. Also the still air made it easier to finally sow the parsnips in the bed between the Bramley and the hen house. Rather later than the usual middle of March but there was no way I could have done it at that time. Hopefully the seeds will germinate faster and catch up by the end of the summer.


Once it was cooler continued to pot on the geraniums in the polytunnel.


Saturday 7th

7 to 22 to 10°C 8.00kWh 1.9kW max. Thin high cloud. Warm and very humid eventually causing some very heavy rain for a time in the evening though it didn't thunder.


In the morning before it became too warm finished potting on the geraniums and then the petunias. There are over 160 of each so this took all morning and part of the afternoon to complete. Then planted out the first half of germinated Aldeman climbing peas, transplanted the hot peppers into 7cm pots and the germinated Chater's Double hollyhocks into 12 cell trays.


More new potatoes, one from each of some of the Swift bags.


Sunday 8th

12 to 25 to 15°C. 11.81kWh 2.1kW max. Broken cloud with some long sunny periods and a south westerly breeze. Very wam for early May. The temperature in the polytunnel nearly reached 40°C. Much too warm to work in and also for some of the plants which are still in there but I can't be sure it is safe to move them outside yet.


Took the polycarbonate and fleece box apart in the polytunnel so I could start building the insect proof boxes in the fruit cage for the brassicas. Planted the calabrese, early Pixie cabbage and main crop Golden Acre cabbage, which are now outgrowing their 3.5in pots into this first box.


Monday 9th

16 to 27 to 15°C 8.87kWh 2kW max. A warm muggy day with variable cloud though became breezier in the afternoon.


Continued to pot on the summer bedding, this time the Bacopa into 4.5in pots.


Tuesday 10th

13 to 15 to 13°C. 2.20kWh 600W max. A very different day with fine rain in the morning and more persistent and heavier rain in the afternoon.


Moved more of last years chrysanthemums from their 3L to 5L pots. At least I didn't need to water them when I put them outside.


Wednesday 11th

13 to 17 to 13°C. 4.50kWh 1.1kW max. A very humid day with some light rain in the morning, some brighter periods around lunchtime and some very heavy showers in the afternoon.


Despite the weather I did get chance to use my new toy, a Fiskars Weed Puller, This actually works very well, pulling deep rooted weeds like dandelions thistles and docks almost completely out, including the root, with very little disturbance of the surrounding ground. It also saves your back. It doesn't work as well with shallow rooted or creeping weeds like buttercups but it does loosen them and you can then use it as a prop to help you bend down to pull the rest of it out. It will be especially useful in the wild garden, which, despite its name, does need a lot of work keeping these coarser plants from overgrowing the wild flowers. Digging them out with a fork or spade tends to damage the surrounding plants as well; this doesn't.


Thursday 12th

11 to 24 to 14°C. 12.86kWh 1.9kW max. Hazy sunshine.


The grafted cucumbers came in the post. These are much better than growing cucumbers from seed yourself. They are difficult to germinate and even when you can get them to grow they don't last very long with a lot of fruits to begin with and then only a few on each of the side-shoots. Grafted plants last much longer and you get one or two cucumbers off each plant each week for several months if you keep them warm and well fed and watered. So 4 plants are more than enough for two of us. Planted each in a mix of equal parts of soil and seived compost in 25L polybags half buried at the far end of the polytunnel where the heat and humidity suits them.


Friday 13th

7 to 15 to 8°C. 9.74kWh 2kW max. Sunny intervals with a north-easterly wind.


Started moving the pots of spring bedding and replacing them with the summer bedding. Hopefully this cold spell won't lead to a frosty night.


Saturday 14th

6 to 12 to 6°C. 13.47kWh 2,1kW max. The sunniest day so far this year but not the warmest as there was a chilly northerly breeze.


Planted out the Sarpo Mira late maincrop potatoes in the bed between the fruit cage and the apple trees.. These are the ones which we only stopped eating a couple of weeks ago because the remaining ones were soft and sprouting. There are  now enough new Swift potatoes so Pat hasn't needed to buy any to keep us going between them.


Now I need to dig over the rest of this bed for the leeks, celery and runner beans which I have just started to sprout. I may have overdone things recently so that may have to wait for a couple of days to rest my leg before I do this.


Sunday 15th

2 to 15 to 5°C. 11.10kWh 2.1kW max. Sunny intervals with less wind so feeling quite warm in sheltered parts of the garden.


I did start to turn over the rest of the bed between the fruit cage and the fruit trees but only with a fork which needs mainly just my arms and shoulders. Then continued to move the summer bedding out of the polytunnel so we can plant out the the squashes and peppers. Also moved the late brassicas, kale and winter purple sprouting broccoli, into 3,5in pots. We are still eating this latest flowering broccoli from last years planting.


Monday 16th

3 to 14 to 7°C. 12.63kWh 2.3kW max. Another mainly sunny day with a north-westerly rather than north- easterly wind.


Finished potting on the brassicas and then moved the late leek seedlings into 12 cell trays; again we have only just finished eating these from last year.


All the summer bedding is now moved out of the polytunnel so I can move the woven polythene and start planning how to plant the squashes and peppers. But first the tomatoes needed hoeing.


Tuesday 17th

6 to 18 to 12°C. 12.84kWh 2.0kW max. Hazy sunshine clouding over by 6pm with some rain in the evening.


Continued to sort out the polytunnel starting by giving the cleared earth a good weed and hoe. Moved the germinated runner bead seeds, Moonlight and Firestorm, into 9 cell trays. That's it this year for vegetables, though if there is room I might sow some turnips later in the summer.


Wednesday 18th

9 to 13 to 9°C. 5.84kWh 1.7kW max.  Showery rain and sunny intervals in the morning. Cleared in the afternoon but still mainly cloudy.


Still tidying up the polytunnel. Tomorrow I can  start to plant out the squashes and peppers.


Thursday 19th

6 to 16 to 12°C. 8.47kWh 1.7kW max. Thin cloud in the morning with some heavy showers in the afternoon.


Pat helped me set up the strings for the tomatoes and then side shoot and start to train them up these strings. Some of them are already flowering on their first truss.  Then started to plant the squashes starting with then tallest ones, Crown Prince and Autumn Crown in the middle frame.


Friday 20th

12 to 16 to 12°C. 8.73kWh 1.4kW max. White cloud, very humid, some light rain in the evening.


Planted out the rest of the squashes in the polytunnel, butternut Hercules and summer squashes Patti Pan and Rolet. Also planted out the aubergines and made a start on planting the hot peppers.


Saturday 21st

12 to 16 to 10°C. 6.41kWh 1.7kW max.  Sunny intervals with some very heavy showers, especially in the afternoon and early evening.


Despite the rain we managed to weed and dig over some of the brassica beds so we could plant the early Montgomery sprouts and the Minicole cabbages. I was intending to plant out more of the brassicas but the rain became more persistent. Hopefully tomorrow I can get the butterfly netting over these before the Cabbagre Whites and Cabbage moths come out after the rain has passed. During the rainy periods I finished planting the peppers in the polytunnel so that is now finished.


Sunday 22nd

7 to 15 to 10°C. 12.43kWh 2.3kW max. Mainly sunny but with a chilly northerly breeze and a few heavy showers in the afternoon.


Continued to prepare the beds and plant out the brassicas; today it was the early broccoli.


Monday 23rd

6 to 15 to 8°C. 10.76kWh 2.3kW max. Mainly sunny but still with that chilly breeze.


Finished, for the time being, planting the brassicas; today Bronte sprouts. Then started to dig over the flower bed down the side of the drive.


Tuesday 24th

6 to 17 to 10°C. 13.53kWh 1.9kW max. Sunny morning but turned cloudy in the afternoon. The breeze is still mainly from the north east.


Blocked off the bed between the chicken house and the fruit cage so I can plant the onions there. Even though I had already dug it over a few weeks ago their constant walking on it meant it needed forking over again and raking flat. At least it should be fertile with all their droppings. Started to plant the onions out as they have now started to outgrow the 6 cell trays I was growing them in.


Wednesday 25th

3 to 10 to 6°C. 3.48kWh 500W max. Overcast with a cold northerly wind. Eventually rained in the evening.


The grass, thistles and cow parsley on the verge had grown so high it was getting dangerous to turn out of the drive either in the car or on a bicycle. By now the council should have mowed it but there is no sign of them doing so. So I decided to do it myself. Not the safest of jobs given we live on a bend with very busy traffic going very fast in both directions on a road only just wide enough for two lorries or buses to pass. It also wasn't helped by the tall grasses and weeds obscuring the view of this approaching traffic, passing only a couple of feet away at up to 60 or even 70 miles and hour. This isn't a main road and doesn't really go anywhere other than between two small towns and a few villages in between and it is very bendy in many places. I often wonder why there is so much traffic; 40 years ago when we first moved here it really was very quiet with just a few farm vehicles and local cars and vans but not anymore. Maybe it is because the main A49 road  is so busy that this is seen as an alternative?


Thursday 26th

7 to 14 to 10°C. 3.01kWh 700W max. Overcast and very humid with very little breeze so at least it felt a little warmer.


Had a bad asthma attack in the night, probably a delayed reaction to something from one of the cars that went past as I was cutting the verge. By the afternoon I was feeling well enough to carry on planting out the onions but not well enough to help Pat put the fine net on the fruit cage. This was a shame because is was an ideal day with no wind and no sun to blind you when looked up. It will need doing soon as there are strawberries starting to ripen.


Friday 27th

5 to 18 to 13°C. 9.43kWh 2.1kW max. Misty start and mainly cloudy till late in the morning with sunny intervals in the afternoon.


Very little wind so decided to put the fine net on the fruit cage. This took most of the afternoon but I did get some time to nearly finish planting the onions.


Saturday 28th

9 to 19 to 12°C. 9.85kWh 21.kW max. Misty overcast start but cleared by mid morning to sunny intervals for the rest of the day. Feeling quite wam when out of the  north easterly wind.


A busy day. First I finished digging over the last part of the vetegable garden between the fruit cage and apple trees. Then finished planting out the onions before planting the last of the peas and then the celerly in the ground I had dug over earlier. We always grow green celery which you plant on the surface and eat as a cooked vegetable and not blanching celery which you plant in a trench and earth up as it grows. This year as an experiment I planted the last two rows much deeper and will earth them up as it grows.


Meanwhile Pat, with a litttle help from me, erected a mesh fence round the fruit trees and the part of the vegetable garden too shaded to grow anything useful. We joined this with a tunnel under the boundary fence so the hens can get into it and hopefully keep the weeds down under the trees especially. In the past I have used weedkiller to control this but I would prefer a more natural way. They don't like all weeds, nettles for instance, so we will still need to control these but only by digging them out or hoeing.


Sunday 29th

7 to 20 to 10°C. 13.79kWh 2.0kW max. Thin cloud with a few sunnier periods. Feeling quite warm out of the north-easterly wind. Much better than the thunderstorms in the near continent.


Started transplanting the perennials I grew from seed last autumn into larger pots. Once I am able we intend to clear the bed down the side of the drive and cut down the holly hedge so we can plant them out. Till then, and it may be autumn before we do this, they will have to stay in pots; in the case of the delphiniums and hollyhocks very large pots.


Monday 30th

8 to 18 to 12°C. 12.66kWh 2.1kW max. Mainly sunny.


Planted the mid-season broccoli and sprouts. Pat weeded the beans, peas and strawberries and I hoed between the rows. While it was quite on the road, a bank holiday, I took the opportunity to move some more wild-flower mats onto the area between the hedge and ditch along the road.


Tuesday 31st

9 to 18 to 13°C. 14.6kWh 2.1kW max. The sunniest day this year so far but not very warm because the wind is still coming from the north east. Much better than further east on the continent where they have had violent thunderstorms for several days and this weather might reach parts of the UK tomorrow but probably not us.


Moved the rest of the wild-flower mats, some to the back of the verges but most of them, which were mainly grass and coarse weeds, to the chicken run where the hens can have fun eating the plants they like and scratching the rest into the ground. Some time in the next few days I will sow some more and maybe some grass mats as well.