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The calm before the storm

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The calm before the  storm  Empty The calm before the storm

Post  plantoid on 1/12/2013, 7:00 pm

Mid January into mid February 2013
With a few days free to play around I decided to make an interim post because we need to be thinking a few weeks ahead . Our weather forecast is starting to show snow and hard frosts in th next few weeks they may be taking place of the usual first fortnight of cold and snow session associated with February or they might be the start of a prolonged cold snap of six week or so .

I thought you may be interested in these figures that show the usual number of hours of sunlight each month. These figures are for the England and Wales UK as a whole. Scotland however whilst part of the UK (at the moment ) is quite different up on the north coast and their island areas where it has been very close to having a midnight sun once in a while during late June
Where you live in the world it will most likely be quite different not only in hours per day but also for hours in each month. Getting hold of the figures for your locality can be very useful so you know when the temperatures start to rise perceptibly & when the right length of day light occurs .
Whilst it varies for each plant species that has adapted to nature millions of years before humans arrived on the scene there is a general supposition that 11.5 hrs of light per day is the trigger point for germination. Once the year moves on through those hours there comes a time when we reach the same day light hours per day as summer heat declines into autumn and this is usually when seed germination is not so successful.
Sunlight and the resultant heat it brings after a while are the triggers for seed germination outside in the beds. I suspect that many seeds like lettuce need sunlight & penetrating infra red heat before higher air & ground temperatures though germination rates will be lower till the optimum temps are found.

Sunlight average no of hours per day

Obviously the first number is the start of the month and the last is at the end of the month
Jan 7.5 to 8.5 hrs
Feb 9 - 10.5
Mar 11 – 12.5 Vernal Equinox 21 March
Apr 13 - 15
May 15 – 16
Jun 16.5 – 17 Sumer Solstice 21 June
Jul 17 – 16
Aug 15 – 14
Sep 15.5 – 12 Autumnal Equinox 21 September
Oct 11.5 – 9.5
Nov 9 – 8
Dec 7.5 -8 Winter Solstice 21 Dec

Equinox means equal hours of sunshine and darkness , they can move on a day if a leap year or the position of the moon
The solstice is the maximum and minimum hours of day light .

When you look at your own chart and read your seed sowing info on the seed packets you should be able to see patterns emerging of light and heat as well as last frost times
Printing off the chart and marking things out as they occur might be very useful in future years for those of you who live in microclimates different to the general advised geographical areas for crop sowing /planting such as coastal areas , valley’s or sun facing hillside etc.

Tasks in the veg gardens for the UK Mid Jan to Mid Feb
Make the runner bean trench deep filled with manure or in the case of a MM filled bed put lots of new quality homemade MM in the square foot where the beans will be put as they are best suited to a rich feed source to get them off to a flying start 7 long crop production so long as you keep picking the beans as they are ready .
Put your seed potatoes in an empty egg fitting box on a window cill out of direct sunlight in a cool bed room so they start chitting in readiness for planting out around the end of March etc.
Keep pulling leeks , harvest parsnips ,Swedes and carrots . Parsnips will soon start to re grow greenery and have to go into the compost heap or be kept for next years seed stock .
Make sure you buy new seed for the parsnips as they are notoriously only good for the year of stated use . though that said I have managed a few germinations during the next year after storing asap after opening in air tight tube and storing it in cool dark place for a year but it was very very errratic.

Those autumn carrots should be being used steadily , they will take a frosting down to a gentle minus 3 or 4 centigrade .. Covering with garden fleece or straw or old bed sheets etc can ward off continued hard frosts and allow you to dig them up or perhaps you can dig up a basket of them and store them as is , at no lower than 3 o C and no more than 5 o C but not in the fridge as this tends to dry them out and wizen them up.
If a prolonged cold snap is forecast ( usually the first two weeks of Feb ) just before it hits chop a stalk of Brussels off and store them in the frost free garage so you can have better than shop fresh sprouts for at least 14 days .
Do the same with ball and Savoy cabbages , celery, beet roots and any remaining potatoes or Jerusalem artichokes if you still have any in the ground
You can store the roots in three or fiver inches layers of new peat or new composted coir perhaps even using new MM for weeks & week of storage but do be sure you only store tip top sound stuff .

Don’t bother about curly kale , it is a very hardy crop so even if it is minus 15 and there is two inches of snow & ice on it just hack off a few leaves and bring inside to thaw then use as normal.

You can start putting in garlic toward the middle of Jan if the bed is frost free .
Stratify as a complete bulb in the fridge say at 3 o C for ten days or more to get the growth node excited when the temperature goes up after planting out inthe bed as individual cloves split off the bulb.

If you haven’t already done it leave the glasshouse door open for a few days tied secure if there are no crops inside so it can start to dry out a bit , then use a sprayer filled with Jeyes fluid disinfectant diluted to garden usage rate spray the inside glass and squeegee it off this will give you nearly 15 % more sunlight once you do inside and out side . I’ll also be cleaning the floor with it then leaving the doors open a few inches to let it all dry off . This last year has been truly evil for me in the green house the green algae has grown almost as good as the plants due to lack of strong sunshine and far too much rainfall at 9 mm or so short of the record fall since records began in the UK . Though I think that here where I live if it had been meticulously recorded we would now be the UK’s record holder.

Towards the middle of Feb start sowing your brassicas indoors if applicable .
If you have cloches , are happy to chance your arm along wwith a few seeds go ahead and sow a couple of square feet of carrots like “ Early Nantes “ or “ Nantes fruh bung “ . In five weeks time you should have some of those fantastic fingerling baby carrots .

Pre heating the area with some black sheeting on the bed for 14 days before you sow and cloche is very advantageous . Don’t forget to close off the end of the cloches either ... guess how I know ???

I read somewhere that once a week when the potatoes have started to chit to spray them with a diluted feed of seaweed solution at the foliar feed rate for tomatoes etc. Apparently it is supposed to make much better /stronger seed potatoes ..perhaps even producing runaway slips if you do those sort of things.

Happy new gardening season


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The calm before the  storm  Empty Wintry Conditions in UK

Post  Kelejan on 1/18/2013, 10:40 am

Being born and bred in England, I read the Daily Telegraph online.
The headlines are about the 40-hour Snowmageddon in England Scotland and Wales.

I was amused by the following tweet:

Today 03:29 AM
A Government warning said everyone travelling in icy conditions should take a shovel, hat, blankets, a supply of food and drink, de-icer, rock salt, a torch and spare batteries, a petrol can, first-aid kit and jump leads. I felt a right prat on the bus."

Are the conditions really as bad as depicted? Are you affected where you live?


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The calm before the  storm  Empty Re: The calm before the storm

Post  plantoid on 1/18/2013, 12:13 pm

There was about a foot of wet big flake snow dropped in a couple of hours this morning on the M4 near Swansea ( 12 miles from me ) and the motorway was closed till the salt lorries could reverse up one of the long slow climbs throwing tonnes of grit 7 salt out so vehicles could get traction ..think it was re opened amount 14.00 hrs to day .
The Valley's area of Wales will cop it hard for the geography of the land will cause some very heavy drops all along the coal margins.

The main band of snow is moving from SW cornwall to NE, it's about 80 miles wide by 300miles long and very wet . Tonights minus 4 oC or so freeze will turn most roads in to ice rinks unles they have been heavily salted and snow ploughed off, as there wil be two inches of so of hardened slush , part melted snow ( day temps 1 oc for most of the country ) and it will be worse if the second snow front due 18 . 00 ish drops any depth down on top of that.

As you know until you have experienced our wet snow and how it is for driving on a foot of it people will not understand how quite different it is from ski snow & dry big flake stuff on the big land masses.

I spent seven yrs in Northern & Southern Germany and never had anything like UK snow in all that time .

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