In the garden this week, we have started by preparing our greenhouse propagation systems in such as way that we effectively extend the growing season by a couple of months. We do this by using a few specially designed heated plant propagators and grow lights in order to mimic the growing environment as it would be a few months later into spring, when the daytime temperatures have increased and the number of hours of daylight each day have done likewise.

How does this work? By providing heat, which heated propagators do by having electrically heated bases and a thermostat control, we can precisely set the temperature of the growing environment we wish to create for our seeds. For example, for chilli seeds the ideal temperature for germination is between 25-28 degrees so we set the thermostat to reflect this. Above the heated propagators we hang grow lights. These come into effect once the little seedlings emerge from the growing medium and put out their first seed leaves.

The advantage of using heated propagators and grow lights is particularly significant when growing plants like chillies which originated from countries with warmer growing seasons than ours. If we waited until our daytime temperatures were warm enough to sow chilli seeds without the aid of a heated propagator we would have to wait until April / May and then we would encounter the difficulty that the growing season would be too short for the chillis to produce fruit before our colder autumn weather arrived. By using the heated propagators we can expect our chilli plants to be producing fruits in July.

Chilli peppers have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC and  were one of the first cultivated crops in the Central and South Americas.

Moving away from chillies, we will also be starting to sow herbs for later sale in our shop. This week’s herb will be flat leafed parsley which we will sow in small pots. Parsley is fairly cold tolerant and will start to germinate at temperatures above 5 degrees, however it is slow to germinate, needing around 21-30 days.

In other BPCG news, we have our monthly volunteer meeting scheduled for Thursday 27th January at 6.30pm on Zoom.  Please email kate@brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk with items you’d like to get onto the agenda. The Zoom link will be circulated in the next weekly email.

Our New Year Volunteer Party is on Sunday 30th January and it’s a Pot Luck Lunch.  Please bring a dish/a bottle.  We will sit down and eat and catch up from 1pm in the Upper Greenhouse. All volunteers are most welcome! After lunch we will go and wassail our orchard trees singing and sharing mulled cider and apple juice with them to bless them and encourage them to a bountiful harvest in 2022.