Albert's Soup

The kitchen garden is producing lots of cucumbers and courgettes at the moment so it is a good time (space-time?) to make Albert's Soup - named, of course, after Albert Einstein.

Albert's most famous culinary equation (recipe) is:

E = mc²

where m = marrow, c = cucumber & E = Energy (food)

I am using the Vitamix method with the following ingredients:

  • Two cucumbers (c²)
  • One small marrow (m) - here you can substitute zucchini/courgette because all things are relative
  • Handful of cashew nuts
  • Tbsp bouillon
  • Garlic clove
  • Mixed herbs to taste
  • Water (ca 0.5 litre)
Albert's Soup - hot and frothy


View from the Rear Window - June 2022

 June is the month when everything in the garden moves into high growth mode, especially in the kitchen garden. All danger of frost has gone, there is plenty of warmth in the June sun, daylight hours are peaking and it just needs sufficient rainfall to bring all the plants on.

Early June (2nd to 5th) was the Platinum Jubilee Weekend celebrating 70 years on the throne for Queen Elizabeth II. We held an impromptu Garden Party for a few neighbours on the Sunday (5th). The banners went up on the 4th and the patio was given a good clean! From the rear window, the garden looks green and leafy but not that exciting!

June 4th - the day before our Platinum Jubilee Garden Party

By mid-June (16th), all the roses (right foreground) were in flower ...

June 16th
... yet, by the end of June (28th), only the pink roses (Gertrude and Maid Marion) were prominent while the patio has stayed remarkably clear ...

June 28th

Jobs in the Garden

1.    Harvest strawberries, asparagus (till mid-June), cherries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, raspberries, cucumbers, salad vegetables and radish

2.    Succession sow climbing French beans (Organic Cobra)

3.    Succession sow Sweetcorn (Incredible F1)

4.    Transplant celery and celeriac into large Salad/Veg Planters

5.    Transplant brassicas (calabrese, cauliflower, kale, brocolli, red cabbage) into final positions

6.    Sow salad vegetables in large & small Salad/Veg Planters

7.   Regular watering of leeks in seed bed

8.    Replace pheromone lures in codling moth traps

9.    Transplant butternut squash and courgettes into their final positions

10.   Trim wild cherry tree, medlar, hedgerow - lots of shredding & composting

June 2022 Weather

June's weather statistics are summarized below. A bit of a mixture weatherwise - not hot, not cold, not wet, not dry. 

June 2022

Weather Parameter



Average Monthly Temperature 

16 oC

Maximum Monthly Temperature

32 oC


Minimum Monthly Temperature

6 oC


Number of Air Frost Days


Number of Hot Days (> 25 oC)


Monthly Precipitation

43.0 mm

Greatest 24 h Precipitation

9.0 mm

4th - 5th

Number of Dry Days


Monthly Sunshine Hours (estimated)


Average Wind Speed

3 km/h

Highest Wind Speed

39 km/h


Maximum Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1026.5 hPa


Minimum Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1000.8 hPa


Average Barometric Pressure (Sea Level)

1015.5 hPa

Daily maximum and minimum temperatures are plotted below [click for larger image]. Steady overnight temperatures throughout the month with a warm period in the middle of the month. According to the UK Met Office, June temperatures in Herefordshire were close to normal (relative to the 1991-2020 period).

Rainfall and solar radiation (proxy for sunshine hours) for June are shown below [click for larger image]. There were more wet days than dry days but we did enjoy an extended warm, dry and sunny period in the middle of the month. Met Office provisional data for June indicates near normal rainfall and sunshine hours for Herefordshire.

A comparison of June 2022 with its predecessors of 2020 & 2021 [next two bar graphs - click for larger image] confirms how similar the June weather has been over the last three years.  

Finally, a few photos from the garden:

Scarlet Tiger Moth on Currant Bush

Wood Pigeon 'nest' in Wild Cherry Tree

Photos of the Paradise Garden on June 8th...

...and June 22nd...

The Secret Garden (late June)...

Squirrel spotted on 7th June - too quick for a  photo

Heatwave Update

As predicted by the UK Met Office, the recent heatwave ended on Tuesday 19th July after some record-breaking temperature maximums all over the UK including the first record of >40 ℃ temperatures. Maximum daily temperature records were set for England (40.3 ℃), Wales (37.1 ℃) and Scotland (35.1 ℃) along with the highest UK minimum (night) daily temperature of 25.8 ℃ in Greater London. For our American friends, 40.3 ℃ is 104.5 ℉.

UK temperatures above 38 ℃ have only been recorded in this (21st) century - a clear sign of a warming planet. And the high temperatures were widespread not only in the UK but also in Europe.

BBC Reality Check did a reasonable summary along with a comparison to our 'most-remembered' heatwave of 1976. One aspect of the BBC summary I was not impressed with was the bar-graph labelled 'Hottest day of the year since 1970'. Who in their right mind puts up a graphic for maximum summer temperatures in the UK with the temperature axis starting at 0 ℃!! If you are showing annual differences in maximum annual temperatures then a range of 25 to 40 ℃ would have been appropriate - at least until this year when the upper limit would need to be even higher.

A minor contrarian blog did complain about this BBC report saying it was just opinion even though the BBC clearly presented its evidence and gave its data sources (albeit the source links should have been clearer). For the contrarian to opine most people thought the 1976 heatwave was more intense (it was longer-lasting but not as hot) than the 2022 version (no evidence provided to support that claim) does seem a tadge hypocritical! I lived through both heatwaves and I certainly found the recent one more debilitating; albeit I was obviously younger in 1976!

Our contrarian then compares June/July daily maximum temperatures, from the Central England Temperature (CET) series, for 1976 and 2022 which just confirmed what we already knew. The former was longer and not as hot as the latter. To see a better statistical analysis of the CET data with respect to the recent heatwave, go here.

Finally, our contrarian takes issue with the UK Health Security Agency issuing its highest level 4 heat alert with a warning of increased risk of illness and death even among the fit and healthy. This is where our contrarian friend resorts to cherry picking and red herring fallacies by:

  • using total deaths rather than 'excess deaths' as the BBC report does
  • showing a couple of bar charts to demonstrate summer death rates for England & Wales are lower than in other seasons, especially winter. This supports one of the contrarian memes that global warming is good because the reduction in cold weather deaths will outweigh the increase in hot weather deaths. Of course, it is far more complicated than that. As global temperatures rise, the much faster increase in heat-related deaths will surpass the slowly decreasing cold weather deaths leading to higher overall temperature-related deaths.
  • ignoring the point of the heat alert that temperatures over 38 ℃ come with a significant health risk, yet providing irrelevant information about summer death rates in sub-38 ℃ conditions (a red herring fallacy).
  • playing down the effect of such high temperatures. Temperatures of 38 ℃ and above were seen on 10th August 2003, 25th July 2019 and, most recently, 18th & 19th July 2022. The August 2003 heatwave resulted in 2139 (+16%) excess deaths. Below, I have plotted total deaths in England and Wales during the summer months of 2018 (selected by our contrarian friend as a hot summer) and 2019. Do I need to tell you which of these 6 months contained a daily maximum above 38 ℃ despite occurring in a relatively cool summer?
  • hiding the spike in deaths resulting from hot periods with/without a >38 ℃ daily maximum by trying to 'blend it away' in seasonal (summer) data rather than showing what actually happened in the month where the daily maximum of 38 ℃ was exceeded.
  • not including the part of the BBC Reality Check report that clearly shows the 2022 heatwave was widespread and more intense than the 1976 version.
Finally, as a point of interest, my Davis weather station reported its highest temperature (38 ℃) on the 18th July, a day before the new record 40.3 ℃ temperature maximum for England was set.

Goodbye Ol' Friend

 Today, I said goodbye to an old friend - a pair of Rohan 'Jungle Expedition' Cargo Trousers - after long and faithful service.

Rohan Cargo Pants

They have been repaired a few times: notably the zip replaced and a big tear repaired by Mary. Which reminds me of the Trigger's broom scene from the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses. After serving time as a regular pair of trousers, one day they were splashed with paint while decorating and, overnight, converted to diy/gardening apparel.

I was trying to find out how long I'd had them. The original receipt was no longer around but could I narrow the timeline?

  • I have been using Rohan (yes, named after the mythical Lord of the Rings land) since the mid-1980s (?) after seeing an advert in the Sunday Times Magazine - I still have one item of clothing from that era!
  • My on-line account & order list with Rohan only went as far back as 2010 and did not include this item so the trousers were bought between 1980 and 2010.
  • These trousers had a feature known as Dynamic Moisture Control, introduced by Rohan in 1999.
  • Hence the evidence leads us to conclude this item was purchased sometime between 1999 and 2010
  • To narrow the timeline even further, we have to 'rely' on memories which are notoriously unreliable! Mary & I both think I bought these cargo pants before moving to Hereford which was late 2001 (or was it??).
  • There could be additional photographic evidence but it would be of the old-fashioned type (prints) and not date-stamped. At the moment I don't have the time or inclination to check out that line of evidence.
  • In summary, these 'Jungle Expedition' Cargo Trousers are at least 12 years old and, more likely, just over 20 years old.
I am fortunate enough to have no fashion sense and to care even less about whether the clothes I wear are fashionable or not. Practical, comfortable, hard-wearing and long-lasting are my four criteria. Rohan fulfils all these objectives; it is on the pricey side although still excellent value when you consider how long they last. There has been plenty of discussion recently on the unsustainable nature of fast fashion, particularly with regards to pollution and carbon footprint.

And finally, the Rohan garment that is 30+ years old...

Rohan Olfio Jacket/Top

It is still in remarkably good nick, with only a small repaired tear, and it still fits me - a claim I could not make about trousers of a similar age! 

My attitude to clothes is purely functional but I realise this is not everyone's point of view. If you want to be fashionable, maybe think about starting the fashion yourself rather than just following what the fashion industry's latest idea. Buying clothes that will last and you will wear again and again is good for your pocket and the planet. And dispose of your clothes responsibly by repurposing, donating to charities, homeless shelters, etc or recycling before putting them in the bin.

Flowering Asparagus

The cropping season for asparagus has finished and the bed is in its resting stage throwing up its ferns to replenish the crowns. Later, in autumn, the ferns will turn golden yellow before they are cut back.

Tying my shoelace next to the asparagus beds, I started to look around to see if there was anything else I could do while I was down there. There was a strong buzzing sound in my ear and my attention was drawn to several bees navigating the asparagus forest adjacent to my head.  The bees were collecting nectar from the tiny asparagus flowers; I cannot recall having noticed the flowers before. Here is the video I recorded on my Pixel 4a phone in slow-mo... 

Here is a close-up of the delicate lemon-green flowers...

Asparagus flowers
...and seen from a different point of view...

Asparagus flowers

That's what I love about Nature and Gardening - always something new, always something to learn.

Heatwave & Extreme Temperature Alert


We are on dog-sitting duty near Reading (16th July) in the middle of a heatwave. The Met Office has issued a Red (Extreme Heat) warning for this coming Monday and Tuesday (18-19th July). Today at 3 pm, it is a balmy 28 ℃ in Oxfordshire with a predicted 39 ℃ for Monday! There is a good chance the UK maximium temperature record (38.7 ℃) will be broken in the next few days

Gardenning-wise, not the best time to be away. Fortunately, we have someone staying who can do some watering but the plants in the garden, polytunnel and greenhouse will be experiencing some degree of stress back in Hereford.

The UK Met Office define a heatwave as an extended period of hot weather relative to the expected local conditions at that time of the year. For the UK, a period of 3 consecutive days when the daily maximum temperature exceeds a set threshold for that location is deemed a heatwave. Threshold temperatures are set for individual counties and vary from 25 ℃ to 28 ℃. As a result of global warming, threshold temperatures are increasing especially in the South-East of England.

The UK Met Office has set a 2022 heatwave threshold temperature for Hereford at 26 ℃ though much of the UK (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the South-West and North England) retain a heatwave threshold of 25 ℃.

The plot below shows the minimum and maximum temperatures for July (up to 16th) as measured by my Davis Weather Station back home in Hereford. Based on the Met Office's current heatwave threshold of 26 ℃, the 7th - 13th July (inclusive, 7 days) was a heatwave and a new heatwave commenced on 15th July and will likely end on the 19th (inclusive, 5 days).

My definition of a 'hot' day is a daily maximum of 25 ℃ or higher and hence, by my 'reckoning', the current heatwave started on the 6th July and will not end until the 19th July at the earliest.

A key factor in being able to 'weather' heatwaves is the night time temperature - anything above 18 ℃ is likely to be uncomfortable. The chart below shows the high and low internal temperatures measured using the Davis WeatherLink Live internal module. Min/Max temperature variation is much smaller indoors than outdoors. The main point, however, is that internal temperatures have not dropped below 20 ℃ during the whole of July. A comfortable night's sleep indoors has only been possible through the use of fans.

The Fruity Thief

This is one of our friendly blackbirds often seen singing from nearby rooftops and chimneys or scurrying around in the undergrowth looking for worms & grubs. This morning he is perched on the fence in our kitchen garden...

Blackbird at his all-you-can-eat buffet

 The strawberries, just below his perch, are ripe and the redcurrants on the adjacent bush are almost ready for picking. Somewhere in the proximity of the pear tree, there is a rustling sound. In a flash, the male adult blackbird dives into the redcurrant bush and emerges with a slightly underripe redcurrant before disappearing into the pear tree. And the rustling sound seems to go up a notch!

Young Blackbird in Pear Tree

Then I spotted the young blackbird in the pear tree (Concorde). I have this youngster, or one very like it, around the garden for a few days now. We are slightly concerned for its/their safety as there is a pair of magpies in the locality. Two years ago, we witnessed a young blackbird become a meal for the magpies, although that was likely a young fledgeling that had fallen from its nest.

A few minutes later, there was a plaintive cry from another corner of the kitchen garden. With phone in hand, I tracked down the source...

  • 14 seconds, the male adult appears and disappears
  • 34 seconds, first youngster appears and makes the short run to the potato patch and safety
  • 39 seconds, second youngster spotted - fairly well camouflaged so decides to stay put
  • 44 seconds, the first youngster now makes his/her final run for freedom - probably following Dad!
Although blackbirds have a taste for my red fruit (strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants and rowanberries), I do enjoy having them around. Their song is delightful and they will happily 'belt' it out from the rooftops for long periods.

PS It seemed appropriate the blackbirds were spotted near Mary's bird painting, featuring blackbirds! 

Garden Makeover - Part 2

Back in late April/early May, we visited our son & his girlfriend (now fiancee) to help out with a garden makeover at their newbuild house. The housing developers handed the garden over looking like this...

Original Garden Design

Three days later, the basics were in place and we left the garden looking like this...

Garden after Re-design (3 days later)

Two months later, after more work (and no help from us!), the garden is maturing nicely...

Garden in early July

A small garden, filling up with edibles and bee-friendly flowers, has turned a sterile environment into a wildlife haven attracting birds, bees, butterflies, and insects. The lawn is still an issue but is shrinking fast and will be further reduced when the patio is extended. We think a wildflower meadow with a path(s) mown through would be delightful and easy to maintain.

Onions, Leeks and Garlic

One of my four 'rotation' beds is given over to growing onions, leeks, and garlic (one of Simon & Garfunkel's less well-known songs?). The bed is surrounded with insect mesh for protection against onion and leek flies. The photo below shows the bed in mid-June with garlic at the top, onions in the middle, and leeks at the bottom. At this stage, the leeks are still in their 'seed bed'; i.e. the green trough. 

Onion, Leek, and Garlic Bed (June 18th 2022)


Garlic comes in two varieties: softneck and hardneck. As a general rule, softneck varieties are milder in flavour, mature earlier, have a longer shelflife, and are less hardy than the hardneck varieties. Supermarket-bought garlic is usually of the softneck-type.
We bought a softneck garlic variety (Early Purple Wight) in late November at a reduced price from the Best Garden Centre in the UK (2021). The separated cloves were planted in coir seed compost in early December and left to sprout in an unheated greenhouse before planting out on New Year's Day 2022.  Harvest day was six months later on the 4th July 2022. 

Harvesting Early Purple Wight (4/7/22)

We think there were two smallish bulbs in the original pack; in any case, we harvested 18 bulbs - most of which were larger than the original 'seed' bulbs; each bulb contained about 12 cloves, on average, of varying size...

Harvested Bulbs

Harvested Cloves

Softneck varieties can be stored for up to 9 months once cured (dried). However, the Early Purple Wight is an exception and should be used within 5-6 months (even when cured). Garlic freezes well and, in the past, we have blended garlic (deskinned) with a little oil for freezing in an ice cube tray. This time we just removed the skins & diced the cloves...

Joie Garlic Dicer

before packing into shallow plastic boxes...

Ready for the freezer
... and freezing.

In addition to the Early Purple Wight, we also purchased a garlic bulb (softneck?) from Sainsbury's in February - the separated cloves were planted in coir seed compost, and left in an unheated greenhouse to sprout before planting outside on March 9th.  As of the 4th of July, these were still growing and will be harvested at a later date.

Sainsbury's Garlic (background); Early Purple Wight (foreground)


We still have a few onions left over from the 2021 season. Meanwhile, this season's onions are developing nicely. We are growing the same ones as last year, Cupido F1 and Red Baron, but in a different raised bed.

2022 Onion Bed (4/7/22)

Growing onions from sets are extremely easy: prepare the bed by digging in garden compost, plant onion sets in a line about 4 inches apart (six inches between rows), weed regularly, and water in dry weather. Last year we had a bumper crop so it will be interesting to see if this is repeated this year.


We usually have problems with leek moth and/or allium leaf miner so growing leeks is a bit of a hit-and-miss operation. Using a protective insect mesh barrier helps while a detergent-based organic spray such as SB Invigorator offers some control if there is an infestation. I always expect to lose a few plants and I don't grow leeks every year. They are an extremely useful vegetable as they can stay in the ground over winter.

Someone suggested to me that growing leeks a little later in the year minimizes the pest problem. So this year I'm giving that a try. Leek seeds were sown in late May (instead of the normal February to April) in a window box filled with coir-based seed compost - see photo at top of the page. Seedlings were transplanted into their final position in the Allium bed 4-weeks later and kept well-watered to settle them in.

Leek Seedlings in the Allium Bed (4/7/22)

I'll report later on whether this experiment was successful.

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