The BPCG 21st Birthday party is on Saturday 29th June 7pm to 11pm. There will be live music, food, drink and chat.  Jim O’Mulloy and Paula Wichall will start the evening’s music off with two beautiful acoustic sets. Then, the fantastic South East London Folk Orchestra (SELFOLK) will get us dancing.  And for the last part of the party, it’s the fabulous bluesy, humorous, eclectic songs of  Emma and The Hot Tub Men.   BDDD….meaning Please Bring a Dish, Drink or Donation!   Please RSVP by booking your FREE ticket for you and a couple of friends here. (max 4)  If you can come earlier from 4pm on 29th to help us get the place ready to party, please let Kate know.

Read on below for more details on what we are up to in the garden this week….but meantime a couple of mentions of two other lovely events coming up shortly at BPCG.

On Sunday June 23rd 12 to 2pm, Mette Lindahl-Wise is doing a natural dye plant walk through the Greenhouses and out in the park.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about natural dyes locally available in plants and trees growing all around us.  There are two free places for volunteers on this walk, so let Kate know if you are interested.  To book a paid ticket, people should go here.

On Sunday June 30th 6pm to 9pm, there’s going to be a fabulous gig from Balladeste a beautiful collaboration between Preetha Narayanan (Violin) and Tara Franks (cello), Balladeste play Indian classical and folk inspired stunning music – vibrant, experimental and deeply melodic. Book here.  Or come for free at 4pm and help get the place ready for the gig. (Clear up ends by 10pm).

In the garden this week

At this time of the year it is important that we check our soft fruit regularly so that we pick them at their prime when they are fully ripe and not over ripe!

In the woodland, protected by nets from interested birds, the soft fruit on our gooseberry bushes are almost ready to harvest. Our fruit cages have hidden door ways, and it is important that we are careful to open and close these carefully. If not we can easily let birds into the fruit cages and this is not good for our fruit or the birds. Once inside the nets the birds quickly get distressed about being trapped and so we want to be very careful to open and close the nets carefully.

Gooseberries are a very popular summer fruit for pies, desserts and jams but also for eating fresh. The traditional tart green varieties are the most popular for cooking, while the sweeter red and yellow varieties are the best for eating fresh. Gooseberries are rich in vitamin C and other nutrients. They grow as small bushes and can be grown even in the smallest of gardens or even in containers on a patio. They are particularly suited to the cooler British climate. They are traditionally thorny bushes but some modern varieties are almost thorn free.

We grow two varieties, the Invicta which is a heavy cropping green gooseberry. Its stems are quite thorny, so some care is needed when harvesting it. Our other variety is the sweeter red variety Pax, which has very few thorns, and whose fruit turn an attractive pink colour when ripe. Both of these varieties are likely to be ripe this week and in need of harvesting. You can tell when the fruit is ready to pick because when you squeeze the gooseberry it feels a little bit soft to your touch.

Once harvested gooseberries are easy to prepare for cooking. The only thing you need to do is ‘top and tail’ them. to top and tail, simply means to pick off the stem and the flower ends from each one by hand.

In the woodland you may also notice a new feature. A wooden archway crosses one of the pathways. Andy built it to support the heavily laden branches of our damson tree. Have a close look and you will see the little green fruits covering these heavily laden branches. By September these fruits will have doubled in size and turned a deep purple colour ready for us to harvest!

If you are interested in how to look after stone fruit trees like our damson, join this workshop on Sunday 28th July on Summer pruning of fruit trees, when we will look at how to prune stone fruits (damsons, plums, cherries, and apricots.)  This is a paid for workshop but there are 3 free places for BPCG volunteers so let Kate know if you’d like to take up one of these.

Elsewhere in the garden there is more harvesting to do. Our peas and broad beans in the lower garden need regular harvesting. We pick the pods once they are full and you can see the shape of the peas / beans bulging inside the pods.

This year we have grown a lot of garlic and many of these plants are now dying back, (the upper leaves going yellow,) which is a sign that they have stopped growing and are ready to harvest. We will carefully dig up these garlic bulbs, tie them in bunches and hang them up to dry in the back of the greenhouse. Once the garlic are harvested there will be space in the vegetable bed for us to plant out our small leek plants.

Other jobs around the garden are to feed, and tie in the tips of our rapidly growing tomato plants. The tomato cordons also need to be checked for side shoots and these need to be removed.

The greenhouse could do with a good tidy, and our compost heaps could do with turning!