I compiled these statistics on 3rd April this year because my sceptical mind was making me curious as to whether the spring had been quite as wet as the newspapers were suggesting. Please look away now if you find this stuff boring, I wouldn’t blame you but for me it’s invaluable to look at the data before I start building the ark! There’s loads more on the site for non geeks!
These are the rain totals for Bath during Jan, Feb, March in mm
2007 4, 65, 97, 172.7
2008 183, 55, 119, 358.4
2009 No data
2010 62, 104 , 41, 208.3
2011 58, 58, 13, 129.6
2012 38, 30, 31, 100.4
2013 68, 17, 56, 142.6
2014 97, 77, 44, 219.2
2015 71, 41, 23, 136.6
2016 No data
2017 49, 42, 41, 133,
2018 91, 24, 101, 216.8,
So the median figure is 139.6mm and the average is 181.8.
Allowing for some missing data from 2009 and 2016 I think this shows that the year so far has been the third wettest since 2007; higher than average and much higher than the mean for the first three months. Which all goes to show that it’s wet, but not by any means biblically wet, just part of life’s rich tapestry! The figure for 2008 is interesting because that turned out to be a year of awful summer floods, and you can see that the ground was already saturated only to be drenched by heavy rain in August.
The Met Office data give the monthly averages as 82, 53 and 63mm giving a total of 199.4mm and that covers 1981 – 2010; so by that standard this spring is pretty average.
And so the traditional planting of potatoes on Good Friday begins to look a bit shaky because Easter Day can be any one of 35 possible days between March 22nd and April 25th and Good Friday could be any time from 19th March and 23rd April which covers a multitude of weather possibilities.
Wouldn’t it be sensible to plant potatoes some time around the second week of April which should see us free of frost before the shoots emerge?
Well that bold statement in April didn’t anticipate the “Beast from the East” a month later, and which felled our first planting of runner beans on May 1st. However the spuds we sufficiently underground to survive the onslaught. Here’s my diary entry for 16th April:
“Finally, after lunch I set out the rows for the potatoes (“measure twice, cut once”) and set about planting. I got the Sarpo Mira, the Desiree and the Pink Fir Apple in but then I ran out of space. In the plan I’d allocated twice as much space, but the purple sprouting and the other brassicas are still occupying the adjoining patch so the Jazzy and the remains of the Red Duke of York are going to have to go in one of the new beds on 168B. Still, it was a brilliant day and we achieved a lot. Now I ache in every bone and sinew and tomorrow I have to start all over building a new bed and path, digging the whole piece and fertilising it and then planting the remaining potatoes. But at least they’ll all be in.
The water level in the the trial hole next to the Lord Lambourne apple has dropped by two inches and the bottom is almost dry, so that’s great news and takes some of the pressure off. [Madame} has also been busy weeding so the plots are looking very good.”
While I’m on the subject of spring, it’s worth talking also about springs. The allotment stands at the bottom of the Avon Valley, overlooked by the southern end of the Cotswolds. So in wet weather there’s a great deal of water heading in the direction of the river. The old timers on the site tell me that there are three underground streams crossing it and there’s certainly evidence of one of them which flows across the pavement and on to the main road. I’m wondering whether our plots are near the course of one of them, which is good news and bad news depending on the season. As the photo of the trial hole shows, waterlogging is a real problem and so I hope all the remedial measures will help a bit otherwise we’ll be looking at more expensive options like land drains.