This week, our nine (!) varieties of potatoes which are growing in the lower garden, have begun to push their leaves out of the soil and emerge above ground. Once potatoes do this they need to be ‘earthed up’. This is a process that protects early shoots from frost damage and ensures that the developing potatoes aren’t exposed to light, (which turns them green and poisonous.) It’s a simple process – once the stems are about 10cm tall we cover them in soil, creating a ridge of earth to cover all the shoots completely. As the stems continue to grow this process needs to be repeated several times. We also need to remember to keep the potatoes well watered especially in dry weather and later on when the tubers are developing.

The squash, courgette and gherkin seeds that we sowed last week are germinating in the propagator. These plants like warm conditions so we will grow them on in pots in the greenhouse for another few weeks before planting out into the garden.

We will be sowing annual herbs for the kitchen garden. Now that the soil is finally warming up after a very cold April, we will be directly sowing into the soil of the kitchen garden to add to the dill we sowed a week ago. To spread our risk and compare the pros and cons of both methods, we will also start some off in modules in the greenhouse. Generally speaking the advantage of direct sowing is that the herbs should not have their growth checked by transplanting, and the disadvantage is that they well be exposed to more risk to attack from pests by being outside in the garden at the young, vulnerable seedling stage. Those sown in modules/ pots/ seeds trays, get more protection from fluctuating weather conditions where they are sheltered, watered automatically and protected from the cold. But they will need to be transplanted and this can cause some root disturbance which may slow their growth initially.

Some of the annual herbs we will be sowing are; borage, tarragon, rocket and agretti.  You may not have heard of agretti? The Italians know and like agretti and call it ‘monk’s beard’. ) The Latin is Salsola soda, which reflects its historical importance as a source, once burnt to ashes, of sodium carbonate, which is used in the manufacture of both glass and soap. Agretti can be found growing on sandy seashores around the Mediterranean basin. It is so salt-tolerant that you could irrigate it with seawater if you really wanted to.

It is related to spinach and beet, though it’s not immediately obvious, since the leaves are needle-shaped and succulent in texture. The young leaves bring a nice crunch to a salad and have a mild salty flavour. Cooked, the taste is quite similar to spinach.  Let’s see if we can grow some successfully!

In other BPCG news, Kate is looking for two volunteers who would enjoy doing some cooking at BPCG on Tuesday evenings 5.30pm to 8.30pm.  Sign up on the volunteer rota here week beginning 10th May onward.

As part of our Windows to Nature project – where we’ve added cameras to bird-boxes and wildlife runs across the site – we are looking for BPCG volunteers who are interested in nature/wildlife photography and film and would like to help us share our access to urban wildlife with our community.

We’re running a 2-session workshop steered by Lead Volunteer Joshua to talk about the kind of digital skills we need, how to spot and snap wildlife at the Greenhouses and in the wider world, and the very basics of video editing and project work. The workshop runs over Saturday 19th June / Sunday 20th June but don’t worry if you can only make one session – there will be another workshop later in the summer.

Sign up via the spreadsheet here (if you’re yet to have a BPCG induction, please note it on the spreadsheet): https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1v6nifAKcjYGHAnuKqehl4K2LWFFVZACBOjJ2LklBX00/edit#gid=0

Don’t miss out on Saturday outdoor yoga on the decking with Sally 11am to 12.30am and 2pm to 3pm.  Details on www.brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk and booking is here https://www.naturalconnection.org.uk/yoga-for-all

And a new playgroup for under 3s is starting this Saturday 8th May 10.30 to 11.45 at BPCG led by Ugonna Eseyi from Palm Blossoms.  For more details go to https://www.brockwellgreenhouses.org.uk/event/palm-blossoms-play-group-for-under-3s/  Booking essential by emailing palmblossoms@gmail.com

In other news, Urban Growth are recruiting a Managing Director. For more details go here

And….Lambeth Council will commence spraying the weedkiller Glyphosate on our streets from May 4th, again in August, after which it plans to change to non chemical methods. Estates are now exempt from spraying, but it is also possible for streets to opt out of the spraying through a Council scheme.  Learn more about it here https://beta.lambeth.gov.uk/streets-roads-transport/community-weeding-scheme