According to our recollection, May last year was dreadful – so cold wet and windy that our fruit and vegetables were about a month ‘behind’ for the rest of the year. True there were a few sunny days – as the chart shows, but total ‘amount’ of sunshine over the month was clearly less than the year before, 2014. (To be fair, autumn 2015 was one of the warmest and sunniest for many years – we were still picking tomatoes from the greenhouse in October – more than a month later than usual.) There’s no doubt, though, that May this year has been exceptionally sunny, with total PV output 621kWh – 32% greater than May 2015.
Here’s a potted selection of sunny days, May 2016:
For the gardener, crofter, or farmer, sunshine is not the be-all-and-end-all. Oh no! Two other things are needful : warmth and moisture. (Well, nutrition too of course!) Anyone who has lived in Uist will know that the brightest sunshine is generally associated with wind from the north which is both dry and cold: and so it has been. Today it’s been a fortnight without a drop of rain, and though I don’t have the figures to prove it, I’m pretty sure the fortnight before that brought us very little rain. And the forecast is for this weather to continue for at least another week. Last year the livestock were needing additional feed because the grass was starved due to cold and lack of light ; but this year it is due to the strong dry winds. Here in the walled garden we can water (well, we can if the wind drops!), but on the croft it’s another matter: there even the streams are drying up, and I’ve had to bring the sheep back down to near the road and steading, so I can provide them with water into a large tub.