October 2012                                                                                                                                 Back to September


Monday 1st

10 to 15 to 10°C. 3.41kWh 1.8kW max.  Mainly overcast but with couple of sunny intervals and a few short showers. Cold westerly wind.


Started feeling better. Carried on training the chrysanthemums.


Tuesday 2nd

8 to 15 to 9°C. 2.77kWh 1.2kW max. Sunny start but soon clouded over with heavy rain just before lunch. Slowed down later in the afternoon.


Pat managed to do some more shredding in the morning but it was raining by the time I finished my morning's work.


Wednesday 3rd

5 to 14 to 6°C. 7.93kWh 1.9kW max. A much brighter day with long sunny periods, a few fluffy clouds and only a light breeze.


Both of us worked with the shredder. Most of the enormous pile of hedge and shrub and general garden debris, a pile over 2m high, 3m wide and 5m long, and a lot of larger branches from elsewhere, is now reduced to around 2m³ of compacted chippings and shreddings in one of the compost bins.  This new shredder really is very powerful. It can shred even soggy herbaceous cuttings, cabbage stalks and root balls without clogging and branches up 7cm thick go through easily. Despite the engine being more than twice the size of the previous one it doesn't seem to use any more fuel, presumably because it never comes under any real strain.


Thursday 4th

5 to 15 to 10°C. 8.15kWh 1.0kW max. Another sunny day.


Pat continued to work with the shredder while I started cuttng up the piles of branches from the rest of the hedge and the two felled trees which we had left in various corners of the garden. After all I wouldn't want her to run out of material to shred while she is still enjoying doing it Smile


Last year I sowed the overwintering Aquadulce broad beans directly into the ground in early September and they came through just before the warm spell in late September to mid October. Trouble was this caused them to grow too much, they even started to flower, and then the heavy frost late in the year killed most of them off and I ended up having to sow again in March. This year I have gone back to my previous strategy of sowing in trays in the polytunnel in early October and only planting them out, under fleece, when they are well established but too late in the year tp think of flowering. Hopefully this will work this winter and we shall have some strong plants ready to start flowering in March and some fresh beans to pick in April. A moderate frost actually makes them better as it causes them to branch.


Friday 5th

9 to 11 to 9°C. 1.21kWh 400W max. A very different day. Heavily overcast, still, but dry.


A good day for forking over the rest of the onion patch and letting the the hens in to help.


Bread and baking day for Pat so no shredding today.


Saturday 6th

5 to 14 to 7°C. 8.09kWh 1.9kW max. A very pleasant sunny autumn day with very little breeze making it feel quite warm in the sunshine.


Finished digging over what was the onion bed and what will be the pea and bean bed next year. Meanwhile the chickens can have a good scratch at it. At the northern end of this patch is a very sheltered area which will catch the winter sun when we have some so this is where I will plant the Aquadulce broad beans once they have grown to a reasonable size in the polytunnel. In preparation for this we spread 6 barrrow loads of well rotted compost onto this area; the hens can have great time mixing this into the surface of the soil looking for the creepy crawlies they like to eat!!


A frost is possible tonight so we decided to put some fleece over the celery bed as a precaution.


Sunday 7th

4 to 13 to 6°C. 7.13kWh 1.pkW max. Another mainly sunny day but not feeling as pleasant as yesterday because of the chill wind when not in the sun.


Started the big job of cutting back the boundary hedges. On and off between other more urgent jobs this will take us several weeks to complete, depending on the weather. First off is to cut the hedges back near to the house. We are thinking about having external wall insulation so the more access there is the better.


Monday 8th

5 to 12 to 7°C. 1.48kWh 450W max. A miserable damp day with light rain or drizzle most of the time.


Tuesday 9th

2 to 13 to 8°C. 5.07kWh 1.8kW max. Cold sunny and misty start slowly clouding over as the day progressed but still with some sunny periods late into the afternoon.


More hedge cutting and shredding; this time along the southern hedge behind the polytunnel. We need plenty of winter sun over the top of this hedge to keep things warm inside.


Wednesday 10th

8 to 13 to 10°C. 1.46kWh 600W max. Mist and fine drizzle in the morning. Dry after lunch but still mostly overcast..


Continued cutting the hedge on the southern boundary.


Pat found a large juicy turnip to cook for dinner. One of the vegetables that seems to have grown well during all this dull cold weather.


Thursday 11th

8 to 12 to 11°C. 480Wh 120W max. A damp dreary day ending in heavy rain in the evening.


Looks like we won't get much sun in the next couple of weeks so decided to start clearing out the polytunnel, cutting down the long squash vines and dismantling the the cane structures which supported them. As a bonus we found buried behind them three very large chinese pumpkins we didn't know about. Plenty of half grown squashes too though the butternuts are rather disappointing. They from later and depend on some autumn sun to grow and ripen them. Even so we have enough squashes of all varieties to last well into next spring. 17 pumpkins on their own will provide 4 meals each; 4 months worth at one a week.


Friday 12th

4 to 12 to 4°C. 6.25kWh 1.8kW max. Sunny intervals with a few light showers after overnight rain.


Continued to clear out the polytunnel.


Saturday 13th

3 to 11 to 2°C. 4.09kWh 1.4kW max. Clear cold start with sunny intervals and heavy showers most of the day. Cleared after dusk so another cold night is likely.


Not feeling very well with the usual symptoms.


Sunday 14th

-1 to 11 to 4°C. 7.30kWh 1.6kW max. Clear frosty start and sunny with thin high cloud most of the day.


Still unwell but managed, with Pat's help, to move the pots of the more sensitive plants into the polytunnel before we have any more frost. Begonias, tigridia, gladioli, calla and fuschia.


Monday 15th

4 to 11 to 8°C. 3.67kWh 1.8kW max.  Some light rain overnight clearing by mid morning to a few sunny periods over lunchtime. Clouded over again later with some showery rain in the evening.


Finished clearing the polytunnel and started to move the taller chrysanthemums into it to protect them from rain wind and frost. The rain makes the blooms top heavy, the wind blows them over and the frost causes ice to form on them if they are wet. They are just starting to produce some good flowers and will do so until well into December with the right protection.


Tuesday 16th

6 to 12 to 5°C. 5.03kWh 1.1kW max. Rained overnight clearing by late morning to some sunny intervals with some short light showers.


Continued to clear the boundary hedges and ditches. I am sure I saw a swallow chasing down the midges over the compost heaps. Surely it should have gone south by now. Maybe it is a youngster that got left behind.


Wednesday 17th

5 to 15 to 9°C. 6.53kWh 1.7kW max. Mainly sunny with a few clouds scuttering across the sky in the strong breeze. Rained after dark.


Thursday 18th

8 to 16 to 7°C. 3.67kWh 1.3kW max. Dull, drizzly and blustery with a few sunnier periods in the middle of the day. Cleared after dark.


A flock of about 20 geese on their way from Ellesmere(?) flew over late in the afternoon. The usual V shape except in this case one of the lines went back only 2 birds and then split again.


Friday 19th

5 to 14 to 9°C. 4.32kWh 1.2kW max. Thin cloud with a few short glimpses of the sun.


Saturday 20th

4 to 15 to 7°C. 6.03kWh 1.7kW max. Cold mistly start but cleared to a warm sunny day.


Continued to cut back the hedge behind the house. Some of it was quite tall cherry and holly trees so needed the chain saw. Plenty more for Pat to shred and chip and quite a lot of wood for the fire too.


I moved the tall chrysanthemums inside last week to protect them from any heavy rain or wind but left the cuttings from them, which will be next years plants outside as usual. They were coming on well with plenty of leaf and should be forming nice root balls to produce some strong shoots next spring. When I went to look at them today they were a sorry sight. They looked as if something had cut the stems just above the soil with secateurs and them stripped off the leaves. About half of them were in this state. Even more annoying was that whatever had done this had gone along the whole row of pots and each row is a single variety so I have lost all of three of six colours. I can only assume it is rabbits AGAIN!!


I have spent a lot of time looking after these cuttings and now they are ruined. The old plants which I took them from and which are flowering really well, will have to last another year, and next year they won't be as good. I  may even have to start again if I can't get both cuttings and new stems from them.


First the squirrels dug up all the crocus and then the rabbits ate all the early peas and beans and nibbled most of the summer bedding. Whatever next? Looks like I might have to surround the whole garden with rabbit netting and spend time each day making sure they haven't dug under it. We never used to have this problem with the wildlife.


Sunday 21st

4 to 11 to 8°C. 2.51kWh 1.2kW max. Foggy start clearing by lunchtime to some hazy sunshine in the afternoon.


Cutting the south hedge behind the polytunnel is letting a lot more light into it. It went above 20°C in the afternoon, where I was busy planting hyacinths and tulips into pots for the spring. Hopefully nothing will decide to dig them up and eat them.


Pat started shredding the debris from the hedges we cut earlier in the week and I turned the earlier composted shreddings into the next bins down the line to make room.


Monday 22nd

6 to 14 to 8°C. 412Wh 90W max. A dull, drizzly day


Needless to say I didn't get much done today. A surveyor came to talk about applying external insulation to the walls. The render is going in several places so rather than get it repaired it might be more sensible in the long run to make the house less damp and more cosy. And it might save a little on our heating costs. Not as much as some might think though. We don't have central heating and our main heating fuel is wood we grow ourselves plus some supplementation with electricity. He claimed we could save up to £800 a year but our full electricity use is only around £550 p.a. Nevertheless as we get older maybe we might want more heat in winter and if we can get that just by stopping it escaping that must be a plus. And the outside of the house will certainly look better.


Tuesday 23rd

8 to 13 to 12°C. 528Wh 120W max. Another dull drizzly day.


Cleared up a little in the afternoon allowing me to dig up the Marigolds and Nicotinias from down the drive and plant some Kaufmann tulips for the spring. The Geraniums and Gazanias are a little hardier and continue to flower despite the miserable weather so these I will leave for the time being. I have known them to survive the winter when we don't get much frost; you never know after two very cold winters this might be the case this next time.


Wednesday 24th

12 to 13 to 12°C. 315Wh 90W max. An even gloomier day but at least it didn't rain though it still felt damp.


Spent most of the afternoon trying to dig up a large tree stump in the area I am clearing behind the polytunnel. Not a job for when there are more urgent things to do. Managed to dig out the soil from all round it and to a certain extent under it and cut away the roots but it is still stuck fast. I am beginning to wonder if it has a tap root. Do field maples have tap roots?


Thursday 25th

10 to 11 to 8°C. 688Wh 150W max. Slightly brighter day. Dry until late afternoon when it started to mizzle again.


Seeing it was dry and fairly still decided to clear up all the leaves which had fallen from one of the Ash trees and the Poplar on the lawn. The other Ashes and the Oaks have changed colour but haven't started to shed their leaves yet. A good job since I collected 14 barrowloads and filled the only compost bin which still had any room after Pat's marathon shredding session over the past few days.


The forecast is bright and colder for the next few days.


Friday 26th

3 to 6 to 1°C. 3.42kWh 1.6kW max. Brighter with some sunshine in the morning but a strong cold northerly wind.


Not a day to be working outside.


Saturday 27th

-1 to 8 to 1°C. 6.53kWh 1.7kW max. Cold and sunny all day.


Went to Kirstin's for the day. Everyone was there apart form Euan, who has chicken pox, and Ian who had stopped at home to look after him. Went for a walk through some very muddy fields and along the canal in the afternoon. In evening we all had a rather early Halloween party. Anna, Thomas and Cowan seemed to enjoy themselves carving the pumpkins, toasting dough and marshmallows on the fire and lighting glowsticks and sparklers.


Sunday 28th

2 to 10 to 7°C. 710Wh 200W max. Cold dull start, becoming milder by noon but then started to rain.


Feeling unwell with the usual symptoms but I probably wouldn't have done much outside anyway.


Monday 29th

3 to 12 to 6°C. 4.06kWh 1.8kW max. Cold sunny start but clouded over by lunchtime and with a few showers by evening.


Still feeling unwell.


Tuesday 30th

3 to 10 to 7°C. 3.43kWh 1.2kW max.  Variable cloud with a few glimpses of the sun. Cold westerly breeze.


Feeling better and managed to clear most of the herbaceous borders, cutting the plants down leaving only the rosettes of leaves at ground level.


Wednesday 31st

6 to 10 to 5°C. 1.00kWh 500W max. Bright start but soon clouded over and started raining in the afternoon.


The surveyor came to finalise the arrangements for the external insulation cladding of the walls. Weather permitting they should start by the middle of next month and be finished by the end. Unfortunately the fragrance from either his clothes or his hair has made me ill again; this time I have lost my voice as well.