We are now under three weeks away from the spring equinox. The equinoxes come around twice a year, once in the spring and once in the autumn, (around March 21 and September 23) and they mark the time of year when the number of day light hours and night time hours are approximately equal – hence the term: equinox. After the spring equinox the day time hours continue to increase (as the night time hours decrease) and this results in the acceleration of plant growth that we recognise as spring. The daylight hours continue to increase all the way up to the midsummer solstice around 21st June, which is the turning point in the year when the daylight hours stop increasing and instead the night time hours begin to increase as the daylight hours shorten.

Nearing the spring equinox means that we can start to prepare our outside vegetable beds for seed sowing. First, we will be checking our irrigation systems. This involves connecting the underground leaky hoses to our stand pipes, and checking that everything is working so that when warmer weather arrives we can easily keep our vegetable beds well irrigated. 

In the vegetable beds we will be raking the soil into a fine tilth, to create a crumb like structure while at the same time removing any weeds, twigs or stones. Then to help warm up the soil more quickly making its temperature ideal for seed sowing we will be covering the beds with horticultural fleece or closhes. By covering the beds for around a week we should be able to raise the soil temperatures sufficiently to enable us to sow directly into these beds earlier than if we had not warmed the soil. This should get our vegetables off to an earlier start.

Our BPCG jarred produce – marmalades, relishes and herb salts – have been flying out of the BPCG shop over the past few weekends (open 12 to 2.30 Sat and 10.30 to 2 on Sunday) so we need to replenish stock and will be busy making more goodies for the shop this week.

We are looking forward to being open again to the public from Saturday 3rd April at weekends, and we want the site to be looking great and welcoming.  This week we are going to make new explainer signs about our bird and bat nesting boxes, and our newly refurbished bug hotel with solitary bee accommodation on the upper levels!  

In the greenhouse we will be potting up our chilli plants, and sowing many more seeds to go into the heated propagators for germination.

In other BPCG news, join us online on Tuesday 9th March at 7pm for a fascinating talk from urban bat ecologist Jo Ferguson on how bats live alongside us in the built environment and what we can do to help them. Jo is the Bat Conservation Trust’s Built Environment Manager and has almost two decades’ experience of researching and helping to protect Britain’s only flying mammals.  Book your ticket here .You only need to book one ticket.  There are four types: free, £5, £10 or £15.  Anything you can contribute will help us to keep the charity running in these difficult times. Your ticket will include your Zoom link and we will also send you a reminder email before the event.

In other news, Please look at, and if you agree sign this important petition https://www.change.org/p/london-mayor-six-hours-sunlight-for-parks-playgrounds-and-wildlife to ensure that planning rules for new buildings that allow woefully inadequate provision for hours of sunlight in parks and public spaces are over-turned. Thanks to the Garden Museum and Sue Stuart Smith for alerting us to this petition.

Incredible Edible Lambeth are engaged in a citizen-led mapping project to chart existing and un-tapped green space with potential for food growing and bio-diversity conservation in the borough to increase people’s access to healthy, affordable and locally grown and produced food.  If you would like to know more, go here https://www.incredibleediblelambeth.org/news/mapping-lambeths-food-growing-potential/

Do look at Dulwich Open Gardens lovely new web site advertising all the gardens which are opening this Spring and Summer locally to raise money for charity. http://dulwichopengardens.org/  It should put a spring in your step (argh ghastly pun sorry)