May 2017                                                                                                                 Back to April


Monday 1st

9 to 14 to 8°C. 4.93kWh 1.6kW max. Light rain overnight continuing into the morning. Enough to wet under the trees and water the garden for a few days but not to replenish our dwindling supplies. Feeling quite warm in the southerly breeze and the temperature in the polytunnel reached 26°C in the afternoon.


Dug over and raked to a fine tilth the parsnip bed next to the Bramley apple tree. Much against my usual rotation rules we usually grow parsnips here more than one year at a time. Preparing a new bed is a lot of work as it needs to be stone free and the only way to do this is to seive it. This garden has been cultivated for at least 200 years and is full of bits of brick, animal bones, cinders and broken crockery as well as the gravel and small pepples working their way up from the sub-soil. Growing parsnips in stony ground leads to branched roots. I will leave it to settle for a few days and then rake it again before sowing.


In the polytunnel I started to move the annuals from their cell trays into pots, starting with the Cosmos.

Tuesday 2nd

4 to 16 to 11°C 10.13kWh 2.1kW max. Mainly sunny with variable cloud and very little breeze.


A good day to put the fine net on the fruit cage before the strawberries start to ripen, attracting the blackbirds. There are quite a few holes in it and it looks like it is getting to the end of its life so we will probably have to replace it for next year. It has lasted over 20 years.


Moved the pots of short stemmed lilies out of the polytunnel to make room for all the pots of annuals I shall be filling in the next few days. The orientals and giant orientals I will keep inside for a little longer.

Wednesday 3rd

 5 to 15 to 10°C. 12.67kWh 2.2kW max. Cool clear start and continued sunny most of the morning but it turned dull and windy in the afternoon.


The wind caused the gaps in the fruit cage net to widen so I have decided to order a new one rather than try and darn it back together.

Spent most of the afternoon seiving soil from the old turf mound and placing it in 80 more seed trays making 180 altogether. These I will leave for a few weeks to grow any weed seeds that might be in them which can then be removed to sow more wild flower mats. This time I have bought a special 'roundabout' mixture which contains only wildflowers less than 30cm high which can be used to grow on the front of the road verges without blocking the view down the road when turning out of the drive.

Thursday 4th

 9 to 17 to 9°C. 111.11kWh 2.2kW max. Another sunny but rather windy day.


Reached 28°C on the polytunnel, rather too warm for the chrysanthemums so started to move them out. I would also like to move the early potatoes in their bags outside but I am not sure about the weather coming too cold at night with these clear skies.

Continued potting on flowers and brassicas. Today the tagetes, broccoli Monclano and cabbage Minicole.

Then in the evening walked round to the village hall to vote in the council elections and came back the long way.

Friday 5th

 5 to 15 to 9°C. 12.78kWh 2.2kW max. Another sunny day but still with a strong wind.

Pat bought two young hens to join the remaining older pair. One is another white hen which we will call Snowdrop like the one which died a couple of weeks ago and the other one is a very dark Rhode Island cross which we have decided to call Paeony. The older ones were a little suspicious of them but they didn't show any real aggression and eventually they all settled down in the hen-house together in the evening.

Moved out from the polytunnel the pots of potatoes we are going to plant in the vegetable garden. I will start planting them out tomorrow.

Saturday 6th

 8 to 11 to 8°C. 1.95kWh 400W max. A grey windy day.


Planted out three lots of the potatoes I have been growing in 2L pots in the polytunnel up till now. Karpo Blue Danube which is an early maincrop, Vales Sovereign and Cara, which are maincrop. This involves digging a long deep trench, distributing them evenly along it, there are usually around 20 pots, and then half filling the trench back. The deeper the better and doing it this way they can be earthed up twice more as the stems grow taller.

We haven't had any proper rain since March and I am now having to water plants outside the polytunnel as well as those inside. If it doesn't rain soon we will run out of stored rainwater; there is only about 1000L left of the 3500L when everything is full.

Sunday 7th

 8 to 18 to 9°C. 12.51kWh 1.9kW max. Sunshine and a cloudless blue sky nearly all day and less wind so it felt warmer.

Finally got round to sowing the parsnips which is difficult to do when it is windy. The hoed all the empty beds inside the fruit cage ready for planting the brassicas once they are large enough.

Then moved more potatoes out of the polytunnel, this time the early potatoes which have been growing in polybags and are now growing too tall in the warmth. So we moved them round the back of the polytunnel and filled them up with more soil. For the moment just the super early Abbot and then the first early Casablanca. The second early Kestrel can stay inside for another few days.

Monday 8th

 3 to 14 to 8°C. 10.57kWh 1.9kW max. Clear overnight then sunny intervals with variable cloud and less wind during the day.


Planted out the fourth set of potatoes, Karpo Kifli which is a second early. Continued to move more pots of plants out of the polytunnel, this time the fuschias, to replace the tulips which have now almost finished. Then back to transplanting more brassicas into 7cm square pots, this time the purple sprouting broccoli.

Tuesday 9th

 2 to 12 to 5°C. 8.42kWh 1.6kW max. Cold cloudy start, brightening up by mid afternoon but with a chilly breeze.


Continued to pot on the brassicas into 7cm pots to grow some more before planting inside the fruit cage. Today it was kale,white sprouting and purple sprouting broccoli.

There is a chance it might rain on Thursday which will be very welcome. Before that the new top net for the fruit cage arrived today and if the wind drops we might get chance to fit it, removing the old rather holey one.

Wednesday 10th

1 to 18 to 10°C. 13.68kWh 2.1kW max. Clear blue sky and sunny all day and with very little breeze feeling quite warm.


Some proper rain is forecast for Thursday night and Friday, maybe into the weekend. So spent some time clearing out the gutters and down pipes to make sure we catch it all. Then moved out the rest of the chrysanthemums and potted the basil seedlings.

Thursday 11th

 6 to 20 to 14°C. 12.99kWh 2.1kW max. Another sunny day. Showers of even more prolonged rain are forecast for tomorrow.


Continued to pot on more seedlings.

Friday 12th

 10 to 16 to 12°C 3.86kWh 1.2kW max. Cloudy humid start with a few spots of drizzle and then some short heavier showers in the afternoon in evening. Enough to water most of the garden at least for the next few days but didn't do much to replenish our rainwater stocks.


Snowdrop didn't turn up when Pat called them in tonight. Where she has gone we can't guess. She is quite young and probably couldn't fly over the mesh fences but just in case we have searched the rest of the garden and the nearby fields, hedges and ditches. Usually if they get out they don't go far and are always back by evening. Maybe she has hidden away in a hedge for the night and will turn up in the morning, hungry, grubby and wet.

Saturday 13th

12 to 16 to 13°C. 5.81kWh 1.7kW max. Some light rain overnight then sunny intervals and showers during the day.

Moved the bags of Kestrel potatoes out of the polytunnel and continued to pot on the flower seedlings and plant some new begonia corms I got half price to replace some we lost over winter.


I woke up around 5am and decided to go and look to see if Snowdrop had turned up. I was pleased to see she had. She was still in the run so somehow she had managed to hide when we were looking for her the previous evening though how she did this with her white feathers is a mystery.

Sunday 14th

9 to 18 to 12°C. 11.55kWh 2.3kW max. Some rain overnight to water the garden and partially replenish our stocks and then mainly sunny during the day with a few cloudier periods and spots of rain.


Planted out the Bejbino and Malinwy Henryka tomatoes in the polytunnel where is was so hot and humid we had to keep going outside to cool down. Finshed planting the begonias in pots and also another bargain of Tiger Lily bulbs, 5 to each of 3 15L pots.

Also pulled up all the forget-me-not flowers in the more cultivated part of the garden before they seeded again which is what happened last year and why they were here this year. Their blue haze looks nice in the Spring but they can become weeds later in the year. There are plenty more in the wild garden and along the verge.



Monday 15th

 9 to 17 to 16°C. 3.45kWh 600W max. More light rain overnight then cloudy and very humid with a warm sourtherly wind and occasional showers.


Continued potting on seedlings, including the three different varieties of brussel sprouts we usually grow to harvest between October and March.

Tuesday 16th

16 to 18 to 15°C. Warm and humid with some light rain showers.


Moved the barrier to completely close off the bed nearest the chicken run and dug it over to plant the rest of the broad beans and maincrop peas. I have nearly finished potting on the annuals; just the zinnias and mesembryanthemums are left. Rain is forecast for tomorrow.

Wednesday 17th

 11 to 12 to 11°C. 3.04kWh 500W max. Cloudy and damp.


Planted out the rest of the Alicante tomatoes.

Thursday 18th

4 to 14 to 10°C. 8.07kWh 2.1kW max. Cold start then rather cloudy with some showers in the morning clearing to sunny intervals in the afternoon with more cloud by sunset.


Finally a still day so we can remove the damaged top net from the fruit cage and replace it with the new one. Took longer than we expected. I had forgotten how difficult it is the first time to get these large diamond nets to the correct shape. Now it is on it will stretch to the right dimension and stay that way when we take it off in the autumn.

The grafted cucumbers came in the post so I planted these as usual at the far end of the polytunnel where they will get the highest heat and humidity. Also the runner beans Moonlight and Firestorm had germinated so planted these in 9 cell trays.

Friday 19th

 9 to 13 to 10°C. Fairly bright in the morning but black clouds in the afternoon with some heavy rain though for less than an hour. Even so it did help to partly replenish our stocks.

Saturday 20th

4 to 13 to 8°C. 7.11kWh 1.1kW max. Sunny periods with a few short light showers.


Starting weeding and digging over the empty beds in the fruit cage to get them ready for planting the brassicas.

Sunday 21st

9 to 17 to 14°C. 9.78kWh 1.8kW max. Sunny intervals with variable cloud.


Rather busy trying to catch up with verification my software so that the latest version can be released this month. So didn't have time to do much outside.

Monday 22nd

 10 to 22 to 11°C. 11.8kWh 2.1kW max. Thin high cloud with a warm southerly breeze.


Starting swapping the spring flowers for summer ones. The wallflowers have flowered continously since early March but they are past their best so we moved their pots away from the bed in front of the house, along with the even older pansies, and replaced them with pots of short-stemmed lilies, salvia, tagetes and lobelia.

Tuesday 23rd

 10 to 22 to 13°C. 9.7kWh 1.9kW max. Sunny intervals, especially in the afternoon, and a warm breeze.


A bit too hot for digging but the late potatoes in their pots needed planting out. I have nearly finished potting on the summer flowering annuals.

This hot dry weather has caused the last of the leeks to bolt so Pat dug them up leaving me room to plant something else, probably celery.

We had our first strawberries today from the pots in the polytunnel. only five between us but they were delicious.

Wednesday 24th

10 to 25 to 16°C. 10.54kWh 1.9kW max. Another warm sunny day.


Pulled up all the large weeds in the less cultivated parts of the garden before they take over and, even worse, seed. Mainly cleavers, nettles and willowherb behind the polytunnel and along the outer hedges.

Started planting out the brassicas under butterfly netting inside the fruit cage, starting with the two head forming broccol, Monclano and Aquiles.

Finally finished potting on the summer flowers. The runner beans are through in their cell trays.

Thursday 25th

 13 to 28 to 20°C. 10.31kWh 1.8kW max. A very warm day with some cloud but sunny intervals between.


Reached 36°C in the polytunnel by lunchtime. I had already decided to start moving everything out, starting with the dahlias. Some of these already needed supporting with pea sticks and others moving from their 5L pots into 7.5L. There are even a few flower buds starting to show.

Cut back and removed the remaining haulm from the daffodils and bluebells behind the conservatory and covered the bed with woven polythene as usual. Then moved the dahlisa onto the back of this. The raspberry roots I removed from the fruit cage some time ago and moved into 7.5L pots have mostly taken and grown several shoots and I moved these into the nursery  to clear the shady area near the woodshed to move the potted annuals into to harden off.


Friday 26th

14 to 27 to 18°C. 14.07kWh 1.9kW max. Blue sky and sunshine all day made more comfortable by a gentle breeze.

Moved nearly all the summer flowers out of the polytunnel so I can plant out the squashes, aubergine, peppers and the rest of the tomatoes. They certainly needed moving as many of them were wilting in the 38°C heat as was I by the time I had finished. Thunderstorms are forecast for tomorrow afternoon into Sunday.

Saturday 27th

 15 to 20 to 15°C. 5.8kWh 700W max. Cloudy with a few brighter periods but also some showers of rain.


Started planting out the rest of the tomatoes, squashes and peppers in the polytunnel.


Sarah and Euan have come to stay over the weekend.

Sunday 28th

 14 to 19 to 14°C 8.11kWh. Hazy sunshine with some rain in the evening. More rain is forecast for tomorrow.


Pat,Sarah and Euan went out for the day including walking up to the top of the Wrekin, a hill between Shrewsbury and Telford. I stopped at home because there were likely to be a lot of other people with the same idea and most of those would be wearing clothes washed with modern laundry products very likely to give me asthma.

So I spent the day planting out the rest of the Onward peas and the first half of the maincrop Alderman peas. Then I continued building more butterfly proof areas inside the fruit cage for the brassicas.

Monday 29th

 14 to 16 to 14°C. 1.72kWh 250W max. A miserable day with periods of light drizzle during the day and finally some heavier rain for a time in the evening. No thunderstorms nor heavy rain like was reported in other parts of the country.

Tuesday 30th

 13 to 18 to 14°C. 7.38kWh 1.7kW max. Sunny periods with a cooling breeze.


Cleared the strip of soil down the side of the fruit cage and built a frame for the runner beans which I will plant tomorrow.

Wednesday 31st

9 to 23 to 18°C. 11.38kWh 1.9kW max. Hazy sunshine with very lttle breeze making it feel quite warm.


Planted the runner beans Moonlight and Firestorm below the frame I built yesterday and fenced it off to keep the hens away. Continued building butterfly - proof boxes and planting them with brassicas, this time the Golden Acre and Minicole cabbages, planting them very deep to encourage lots of roots. Finished planting out the tomatoes, peppers and squashes in the polytunnel.


June 2017