November 2016                                                                       October 2016


Tuesday 1st

10 to 10 to 3°C. 325wH, 60W max. Damp misty morning followed by another very grey day with thick cloud, some drizzle and no sign of the sun. As the day progressed it became colder; a sure sign the weather is changing to something more seasonal.


During the drier spells I continued to cut back the laurel hedge. When it was colder and drizzly I continued to pot on the wallflowers, which I have now finished, and the overwintering onions which I am moving from 12 cell trays into 7cm square pots. They have good roots on them and once they get going again I will either leave them in a corner of the polytunnel or build a cold frame outside.


Wednesday 2nd

 2 to 8 to 2°C. 4.43kWh, 1.3kW max. Cold and clear  overnight but there were no signs of a frost. Remained clear and sunny for most of the day with very little wind so it felt quite warm in the sun.


The pile of debris from more hedge cutting was getting quite high so we got the shredder out again.


 I spend a lot of time growing chrysanthemums over the year. Taking cuttings, growing them on into larger and larger pots, disbudding them to encourage them to branch and supporting them with canes as they grow taller.


It is only in late October and into November and December that I can realise the work was worthwhile. While everything else is finished, apart from the dahlias (below) these are in their full glory. So long as we don't get heavy rain followed by frost they should last for several more weeks.


Usually these would be plants I raised from cuttings the year before and I wouldn't let them get this tall but this year because of my hip I couldn't do this and these are 2 years old and rather leggy. Even so they make a nice colourful display even on grey days.


 Given favourable weather, no heavy rain, gales or frost, these can also last well into the autumn. This year some of the summer bedding, geraniums and bacopa, has also survived well.


Remaining summer bedding


The marigolds and geraniums still survive but for how much longer if we have a frost tonight?

In front of them the primulas and polyanthus are just starting and should flower all winter, even under the snow.

Thursday 3rd

 1 to 8 to 5°C. 446wH 150W max. Cold clear night, but strangely no frost, and had clouded over by morning. Feeling very cold in the northerly wind.


Too cold to carry on potting the onions and sweet william in the polytunnel even with gloves and my weatherproof insulated jacket so tidied up some of the debris brought round from the hedge cutting which needed further cutting up into logs for firewood and branches for shredding.

Friday 4th

 2 to 7 to 4°C 3.9kWh 1.3kW max. Cold overnight with a few light showers, followed by a sunny morning and afternoon with a few light showers in the evening.


Decided to start cutting back the north hedge behind the house but we were distracted when clearing away some rampant ivy to find some large concrete blocks from a greenhouse base which I had forgotten were there probably more than 20 years ago. I was thinking about building another cold frame using some double glazed panes Mark gave us last year when they were renovating their house; these will be ideal for the sides. So we spent the rest of the afternoon moving some of them out. They are very heavy and took both of us to lift them so we could get them on a wheelbarrow to move them to another part of the garden.

Saturday 5th

 2 to 7 to 0°C. 4.37Kwh 1.4kW max. A mainly sunny day but a cold northerly wind made it feel more like 1°C rather than 6. Looks like we will have a frost by the morning as the wind has now dropped.

Built a large raised bed+cold frame in front of the large shed using three layers of concrete blocks and the greenhouse base blocks I found yesterday. The bottom of this we fill with shreddings deep enough to produce heat as it breaks down and cover it with the double glazed panels.

Sunday 6th

0 to 7 to 3°C. 1.85kWh 1.2kW max. It actually warmed up overnight with some a few spots of rain wetting the paths by the morning. Continued cloudy and windy with some sunshine for a while around lunchtime. Cleared after dusk to a starlit sky

Finished building the cold frame we started yesterday and moved all the pots of onions into it, including the third batch Snowball which I finished moving into pots this afternoon.


Monday 7th

2 to 7 to 1°C. 3.87kWh 1.3kW max. Sunny intervals and feeling a little warmer now the wind has dropped and moved from north-east to north-west.

The cold nights have finally finished off the summer bedding (see above) down the drive so we pulled it up and forked over the soil.


Tuesday 8th

 -3 to 6 to 5°C 826kWh 100W max. Frosty start with overcast skies turning to rain by late afternoon and heavy rain in the evening but at least the wind is now from the south.


Unfortunately it was cold enough to damage the dahlias which are usually OK with only a mild frost. So we took them into the polytunnel to die back and dry out the tubers. The chrysanthemums were unaffected but this heavy rain might damage them as it makes the flowers top-heavy. However with the dahlias moved there was room to pull the chrsanthemums away from the conservatory and finish cleaning out the gutters before the rain came.

Wednesday 9th

 5 to 7 to 5°C. 956Wh 300W max. Rained all night and most of the morning with a few glimpses of the sun around midday before raining again later in the afternoon and into the night.


The chrysanthemums have suffered a little from the rain but will probably recover. The geraniums were affected by the frost and won't last much longer so we moved these into the polytunnel to dry out and replaced them with pansies, wallflowers and hardy petunia. Then it started raining again.

Thursday 10th

 1 to 10 to 3°C. 2.87kWh 1.3kW max. Clear cold night but no frost, then sunny intervals until early afternoon when it started to rain again and continued with some heavy bursts into the evening.


Potted on some more of the sweet william in the polytunnel out of the rain until my fingers got too cold to carry on any longer. Trouble is at this time of year the sun only gets into the polytunnel after lunch so it doesn't warm up if it is cloudy or raining by then.

Friday 11th

 -3 to 9 to 5°C. 4.21kWh 1.3kW max (we have now passed 9 megawatthours in solar generation)

Frosty and foggy to start soon followed by good sunny periods for most of the day, clouding over in the evening. More heavy rain is forecast overnight.


The heavy rain caused the septic tank to back up and I thought I would have to clear it out in the afternoon but Pat did it on her own before I had finished work in the morning; it was just the outlet to the land drain which had become blocked with leaves. In the afternoon I continued to clear the flower bed down the side of the drive while Pat took down the runner bean frame, leaving the haulm for the hens to pick over.

Saturday 12th


7 to 11 to 7°C. 804Wh 400W max. Some light rain showers overnight, not the heavy rain forecast, clearing by the morning but still dull though feeling warm for November. A little bit brighter in the afternoon and finally cleared after dark with the promised 'Super Moon' casting quite strong shadows. Even though it is clear the temperature isn't dropping as you would normally expect.


Moved most of the wire netting barriers out of the vegetable garden with just a temporary plastic barrier protecting the leeks and the celery. The hens can now roam freely round the rest and will do a good job of clearing most of the remaining weeds apart from some nettles which I shall have to dig up myself. Finished digging over the flower bed down the side of the drive and covered it with several barrow loads of shreddings.


Sunday 13th

 6 to 10 to 8°C 1.17kWh 600W max. Overcast with some light showers but a few breaks in the cloud in the afternoon.


Finished potting on the sweet william and started on the last of the chrysanthemum cuttings. A bit late but I didn't even take them till August and they should be grown enough to start strongly next spring.


Monday 14th

8 to 14 to 12°C. 815Wh 200W max. Very grey, mild and humid with some light drizzle from time to time.


Back to cutting back the northen hedge.


Tuesday 15th

14 to 12 to 9°C. 311Wh 50W max. Overcast and damp. Started very mild but slowly turned cooler in the afternoon.


Wednesday 16th

9 to 11 to 3°C. 1.91kWh 1.2kW max. Mainly cloudy with some sunshine around lunchtime. A strong north westerly wind made it feel a lot colder than the thermometer suggests and when it cleared just after dusk the temperature started to fall.


Too windy and cold to work outside and even in the polytunnel I needed to wear my quilted jacket and insulated gloves to keep warm but managed to finish potting on the last of chrysanthemums and empty all the pots of summer bedding so I can recycle the soil into more potting compost.


Thursday 17th

4 to 9 to 3°C. 1.81kWh 1.2kW max. Clear night and still clear at sunrise but soon clouded over. By late morning it came really black with high winds, heavy rain and some quite big hail stones. Only for a short while then it cleared again to a mostly sunny afternoon but still very windy. We heard on the news that a tornado had passed over Grinshill, less than 3 miles away, blowing over trees and damaging some buildings. Before then it had blown over trees at Harmer Hill and carried on afterwards through Preston Gubbals with quite a lot of damage to some tree plantations and then to Shawbury where a tree had fallen across the entrance to the RAF base. The weather station there had reported winds in excess of 80mph for a short period. Looks like we were lucky to just get the edge of the squall. A mile further north and it would have gone through Wem.


Woke up in the night with quite severe asthma and have been ill most of the day. Not that I could have done much in this weather anyway.


Friday 18th

0 to 6 to 0°C. 3.43kWh 1.3kW max. Sunny intervals with a few showers. Feeling cold in the quite strong westerly wind.


Woke up still feeling unwell but slowly got better as the day progressed and was able to walk a couple of miles round the garden, slower than usual, to get some fresh air. Hopefully I will be back to normal tomorrow.

Saturday 19th

 0 to 5 to 2°C. 3.56kWh 1.1kW max. A cold and very windy day with some sunny intervals but also some showers.

Not a day for working outside, not even in the polytunnel.


Sunday 20th

1 to 5 to 1°C. 831Wh 200W max. Rained most of the night and into mid morning. Very dull with some more showers later but the wind dropped to almost still by late afternoon.


Started to tidy up the dahlias, begonias and other summer plants we moved into the polytunnel only two weeks ago. They were still flowering at the start of the month and now most of them have died back and need the dead foliage cutting back before it rots which can potentially damages the tubers and bulbs. Unfortunately the chrysanthemums we replaced them with outside have also been damaged by the cycle of frost, rain and high winds so they will be the next to need cutting back and moving into the polytunnel to rest till the spring.


Monday 21st

0 to 6 to 5°C. 21wH. Started raining around 4am and continued all day, most of the time quite heavily. Floods are widespread in the south of country and the forecast is for at least another 12 hours of heavy rain.


Tuesday 22nd

5 to 7 to 5°C. 1.15kWh 500W max. Rained most of the night though not as hard as yesterday. Finally stopped around 10am and it even became quite bright for a short while but the rest of the day was damp and drizzly for most of the time. At least the wind has quietened down.


Continued to tidy up in the polytunnel, digging over most of the beds. The soil is very dry and dusty and needs a good mulch of shreddings before next spring. Once it stops raining, and the forecast is good for that, we can get the shredder out to work on the large pile of debris from the hedges again.


Wednesday 23rd

5 to 9 to 6°C. 1.81kWh 900W max. A better day with no rain and very little wind and even a short period of sunshine in the late morning.


Finished digging over the polytunnel and then moved 20 barrowloads of shreddings to cover it as a 10-15cm mulch. It still needs a lot more and there won't be enough till we do some more hedge trimming and shredding. First I will give what is already there a good soak; one thing we are not short of is rainwater.


Thursday 24th

6 to 8 to 6°C. 1.86kWh 900W max. A very similar day to yesterday.


Moved another 10 loads of shreddings into the polytunnel, raked it flat and then started to spray water onto it from the water butts. Once I had done part of the area I started moving the chrysanthemums onto it to die back for the winter.


Along with a large toad, two frogs and some lizards there is a robin who spends most of his time in the polytunnel. He was very interested in the half rotted shreddings finding all sorts of things to eat. In between he did what all robins seem to do, sitting on a plant pot or on one of the frames singing away quietly to himself. He even decided to have a shower under the water spray.


Friday 25th

1 to 7 to 0°C. 3.9kWh 1.3kW max. Sunny with blue sky all day but not very warm in the northerly breeze.


Continued to move the chrysanthemums into the polytunnel, walking nearly 3 miles in the process. Pat spent most of the aftenoon sweeping up leaves of the lawns and paths.


Saturday 26th

-1 to 5 to -1°C. 3.81kWh 1.1kW max. Cold foggy start, clearing later to sunny intervals but still with that cold northerly wind.


Moved the rest of the chrysanthemums into the polytunnel.


The company I order my seeds off,, had a Black Friday offer, selling many of their flower seeds for £1 rather than £1.69 up to £3.29. So, instead of ordering my summer bedding as plugs, costing next year £16.99 for 180, I have decided to go back to raising my own from seed. It will be cheaper and I will be able to grow 16 different sets of plants rather than the 3 I usually order. It might be a little more work and might consume a little more electricity for the propagators but I can grow plants like Zinnias, Phlox, Stocks, Rudbeckia, Statice and Cosmos rather than Begonias, Geraniums and Petunias.


Sunday 27th

1 to 7 to 5°C. 583Wh 100W max. A very grey still day.


Finally finished all my early winter jobs moving everything from the summer and autumn away from the beds in front of the house and moving in the pots of winter/spring plants pansy, wallflower, sweet william and hardy petunia. I was quite sceptical about the petunias but so far they have proved resilient to the frost and even produced a few flowers as have the wallflowers and the pansies are flowering very well.


Decided if was time to start feeding the small birds so filled up the feeders with peanuts and sunflower seeds. Within 10 minutes the blue tits turned up followed by great tits and some chaffinches and the robins on the ground picking up whatever the other birds dropped. Trouble is this also attracts rats and squirrels so we have placed some traps below the feeders to hopefully catch them.


Just like yesterday the company I order my bulbs and plants from, also had a Black Friday sale so took the opportunity to order some more tulips and hyacinths.


Monday 28th

5 to 8 to -1°C. 3.41kWh 1.1kW max. Misty start clearing by 11am to continous sunshine for the rest of the day

but still with that chilly NE breeze. A clear night with frost is on its way.


Back to shredding and chipping debris from hedge cutting.


Tuesday 29th

-5 to 3 to -2°C. 3.86kWh 1.1kW max. Clear and cold overnight and wall-to-wall sunshine all day but still very cold. Another clear night so will be frosty again.


A good day for doing something to keep you warm, like sawing firewood. An old saying says that wood warms you three times. Once when you cut it down, again when you cut it up and finally when you burn it.


Wednesday 30th

-6 to 7 to 1°C. 1.46kWh 800W max. Clouded over by the morning so not as cold as earlier in the night. Mainly cloudy with a brief sunnier period around lunchtime.


Back to cutting back the northern hedge. A lot of overgrown holly so quite a prickly job.


December 2016