This week in the garden, we need to keep a close eye on our soft fruit which is ripening nicely. The gooseberries may be ready to harvest any time now. They are usually picked between late June and early July. If we leave them too long the fruit will deteriorate and may fall on the ground. The best way to tell if a gooseberry is ready to pick is to gently squeeze it between your fingers. The berry should have a little “give” in the flesh if it’s ripe. If it feels hard then it’s probably not ripe and if it feels squashy it’s probably over ripe.

The second way to tell if a gooseberry is ripe and ready to pick is to taste it!  A desert variety should taste slightly tart. The taste test needs some experience so always taste a gooseberry or two whilst harvesting so you can build on your experience to judge a ripe or unripe fruit – what hardship!

We have a number of green gooseberry bushes, all of the same variety called Invicta. These are our very prickly bushes. We also have one desert gooseberry bush that produces attractive pink fruit which grow on almost spineless stems. This variety is called ‘Captivator.’

We hope to turn some of our gooseberries into jam, and for this the more bitter taste of the slightly smaller gooseberries are the best ones to use.

The other fruit we are keeping our eyes on, and hoping to get to before the squirrels do are the walnuts on our two walnut trees. We use these green unripe walnuts to make pickled walnuts and an Italian liquor called Nocino. Both recipes use green walnuts, at the developmental stage before the shell has set and hardened. Late June is about the best time to pick them.

To make pickled walnuts the soft green walnuts are punctured with a fork and soaked in brine solutions (salt water) for at least ten days. The walnuts are then drained and left to dry.  Soaking the green walnuts in brine causes a chemical reaction to take place and the walnuts turn dark brown to black in colour when exposed to sunlight. The now-black walnuts are then placed into jars and a spicey vinegary pickling solution poured over them. The walnuts are sealed and then left in jars for a few months when they are ready to eat.

In other BPCG news, Will Roberts is running brilliant and well attended music therapy sessions at BPCG on our lower garden decking on Wednesday afternoons. He could really do with some volunteer support from 3pm to 5.30pm to help with setting up the drums, welcoming people in, making tea, and then clearing up at the end…and of course (!) having a sing and a drum too in between. Will has been choosing lovely music for the group so it’s a really nice and special vibe on Wednesdays with Will so please if you can help out get in touch with Will on willondrums@googlemail.com. He needs volunteers from 14th July onwards.

On Wednesday July 7th, Natural Connection are starting a ten week free programme ‘Stretch, Walk and Talk‘ for refugee and migrant women.  These are 10 outdoor yoga and language sessions on the lower garden decking from 1pm to 2.30pm integrating gentle, therapeutic, trauma informed yoga with building participants’ confidence in English language on well being topics.  Participants’ children are welcome to come too for supervised nature based play activities. The sessions are funded by the Lambeth Active Fund and run by Sally Ramsden, qualified yoga and language teacher.  For more information, please email sallyconnecting@gmail.com or ring 07973 689362

Sally also runs fantastic yoga sessions at BPCG on Saturdays from 11 to 12.30pm and from 2pm to 3pm.  For more information and to book please go to https://www.naturalconnection.org.uk/book-a-class

It’s time again to ask you if you’d like to join the propagation team on Thursday morning or the maintenance team on Friday morning. You need to commit to 6 consecutive volunteering sessions starting on July 9/10 and ending August 12/13. Let Chris know by replying to this mail.

On Monday we advised by email quite a number of volunteers that they have qualified for membership of the charity in 2021. To gain membership volunteers must have completed 4 sessions of volunteering during 2021. But we’re bound to have missed some people. So if you did NOT get an email last week and you feel you qualify please let Chris know by replying to this mail.

Jelena Belgrave is back fermenting the most delicious things again at BPCG!  Her next workshop is on Saturday July 10th 2.30pm to 5pm.  Book here https://www.brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk/event/fermentation-workshop-3/

And last but not least, Simply Being garden sessions continue on Monday evenings at BPCG.  There are a few slots for BPCG regular volunteers on this link https://bookwhen.com/unboundmovingarts  Here you can look at the schedule and pick from any of the Simply Being – garden sessions which are showing (currently up to August 23rd) and book one of the volunteer slots.  Please arrive 45 minutes before the session starts to help with set up and be prepared to help too with tidying at the end of the session. Thank you!