Wednesday 25 October 2017

Mild autumn: the good, the bad, and the ugly

The weather our way today has been a sunny 17C and so far it has been a distinctly mild autumn. Possibly not one Keats would recognise. The peripheral breezes of Storm Brian have also moved on too. 

Ladybirds are abundant and cluster around fence posts looking for a hidy-hole to over-winter. Ladybirds are gardeners' friends because, among other things, their larvae are voracious consumers of aphids so I'm always pleased to see them about.

Ladybirds are out in force
I think this might be a harlequin ladybird 
which is not so good news

There are red admiral butterflies about as well as tortoiseshells. Bees from the hives were flying too. More surprising perhaps at this time of year, and certainly less welcome, is that when I was picking some kale leaves the plants were covered in cabbage white butterfly caterpillars munching merrily away. It's about time we had a hard frost to restore the balance. 

Cabbage white caterpillar on a kale leaf

Incidentally, a phenomenon that I've noticed since living in this part of Suffolk is that the warmest time of the day, during the summer at least, is generally 4 or 5pm rather than in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. I'm not sure why this is. Maybe it is the dry sandy soil warming up and radiating the heat out from the arable fields surrounding us.

Another consequence of the mild weather is that weeds are continuing to spring up, so today I've been out with the hoe to keep on top of them. I also took advantage of the pleasant conditions to finish pruning the fruit bushes and tying in next year's fruiting canes of the thornless blackberries. I attended to the raspberries a couple of weeks ago. All the fruit beds have had a thick layer of a manure mulch added.

Things might feel different when the clocks revert to GMT at the weekend. No doubt we will have our fair share of frost, wind, rain and maybe even snow in due course. Things can change quickly and a sudden sharp frost can cause the leaves, still in the main riding high, to descend in great heaps. 


  1. You are blessed with good weather over there. Its wet here in Ireland even when its not raining at the moment. Do you compost the leaves for leaf mould?

  2. Yes, I have a compost bay just for leaves. One of my boundaries has a line of poplar trees and I rake up the leaves for composting. Poplar leaves breakdown reasonably quickly.