Archive for 05/11/2013


Official blog of the Met Office news team

Provisional Met Office statistics for October show it was one of the warmest in the national record dating back to 1910.

The mean temperature for the UK is 11.2 °C, which is 1.7 °C above the long-term (1981-2010) average. This makes it the 9th warmest on record, and means that five out of the top ten warmest Octobers have occurred since 2000 – the others being 2011 (11.3 °C), 2005 and 2006 (11.7 °C) and the warmest on record 2001 (12.2 °C).

Mild nights were a feature across the UK, with most stations south of Scotland yet to report an air frost.

October 2013 is also notable because it was, for most places, dull and relatively wet. Sunshine hours for the UK were 83 % of the long term average, while rainfall was 27 % above average. For England this was provisionally the wettest October since 2000 and equal-8

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Rethinking Childhood

Fire in churchyardThis post looks at fires, the value of fire in children’s play and learning, and the sometimes problematic attitudes and actions of the fire authorities. It starts with a personal anecdote. (Its timing on Bonfire Night is kind of coincidental, but kind of not.)

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Weed - proof membranes can be an effective way of controlling weeds around vegetable crops

Weed – proof membranes can be an effective way of controlling weeds around vegetable crops

A weed might be a ‘plant in the wrong place’ but some ‘weeds’ have positive features. They can look good; some are edible; some provide food and shelter for birds, butterflies and beneficial insects and many can also be used in the compost heap (though if you don’t have a ‘hot’ compost system its probably unwise to put in the tap-rooted perennials).

But much of a gardener’s time is taken up with preventing, removing or controlling those plants that if left alone might quickly over run less vigourous species and rob them of precious moisture and nutrients. So what are the best ways of keeping these invaders under control?

  1. Try to ‘design out’ weeds by close planting, crop rotation, weed-proof membranes under paths and effective barriers (possibly including some plunged into the soil to prevent spreading roots) to keep weeds from entering the garden from surrounding land.

  2. Know your weeds it will help to work out the best way of dealing with them.

  3. Take time to clear perennial weeds effectively before any permanent planting- this might take more than one year and be realistic – don’t clear more than you can keep weed free. Cover the rest up with black plastic or other covers. And wait for the soil to be moist to aid removal.

  4. Choose methods to suit the time and energy you have using  glyphosate- based herbicides might be the quickest and most effective for large, difficult areas

  5. Never leave soil bare plant it including with green manures. Use man made covers or nautural mulches which can both prevent and eradicate weeds- for little effort.

  6. Create ‘stale seed beds’ by preparing the ground a few weeks before you need it – this will allow weed seeds to germinate and mean that you can clear the weeds before you sow,  or cover the ground with black plastic for a couple of months. This will give your plants a better chance of survivial.

  7. Use transplants rather than sowing directly into the ground where strong weed competition is likely.

    Weed or food source?

    Weed or food source?

Old School Gardener

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