This week in the garden we will be sowing the first batch of chilli seeds in the upper greenhouse.

Chilli peppers were perhaps the first plants to be domesticated in Central America and come from warmer climatic zones than ours. To allow the plants enough time to grow and ripen their chillies before the cooler autumn weather arrives we need to sow the seed early, at a time when our unheated greenhouse is still fairly cold. We get around this difficulty by sowing the seeds in propagators. Chilli seeds need a constant temperature of 28 degrees and they take between 7-10 days to germinate.

By sowing our chilli seeds in February we encounter another difficulty. Our daylight hours are still fairly short at this time of the year with dawn at about 7.30am and dusk 5pm. Compare this to June’s mid-summer daylight hours of dawn at 4.40am and dusk at 9.20pm. To compensate for this we set up a light over the seedlings to provide additional ‘daylight’ hours which enables the plants to grow more rapidly. This is why, once the seeds have germinated you will see lights attached above some of the propagators.

We will be sowing six varieties of chilli this year:  Bulgarian Carrot, Ring of Fire, Nosferatu and Hungarian Black for harvesting and using at the greenhouses in fermenting and pickling. We want to get these off to an early start so we have enough time for them to ripen.

In addition to this we will be growing plants for sale in the summer when they are in bloom. The sales varieties will be Numex Twilight, Cayenne Long Slim, Nosferatu and Hungarian Black.

We will be sowing the chilli seeds in modules, lightly covered with vermiculite (a yellowish mineral used for insulation and as a moisture-retentive medium for growing plants) and placing them in the propagators at 28 degrees C.

Other garden jobs this week include laying more ‘leaky hose’ irrigation along the fern bank. (In the autumn we planted more ferns and now it is time for us to give them extra irrigation.)  Have a read about laying leaky hoses here in volunteer Jen Botezat’s lovely blog here about last week’s workshop.

We will be doing a final tidy of the upper greenhouse, clearing the shelves and floor space ready for growing 2019’s plants.

Also, we have some new wheelbarrow tyres, the kind that are puncture free! These need to be put onto our wheelbarrows, so we are ready for plenty of earth, compost and manure moving activities during the coming year!


Adult Workshops coming up

On Sunday 10th February 10am to 1pm, Chris is running his free monthly workshop ‘Make a Kitchen Garden in 10 Easy Steps’.  All are welcome to join. More details here. Please come wrapped up for a 10am start. Do also check out Jen Botezat’s lovely blog about this workshop here.  Thank you Jen!

On Saturday 16th February 1.30pm to 4pm, Jelena is running a Winter Fermentation workshop in the BPCG kitchens. This is a paid for workshop which you can book for here.  There is one free place still available for a BPCG volunteer so if you are interested in learning about fermentation and can help Jelena with some prepping from 12.30pm and clearing up afterwards, please let Kate know on  Jelena’s fermentation workshops will take place every 3rd Saturday of the month throughout 2019.