This week, we are going to chit our spuds!  Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. We start chitting the potatoes about six weeks before we intend to plant them outside.

Each seed potato has an end which is more rounded and blunt than the others – and has a number of ‘eyes’. We will stand the tubers with the blunt end uppermost in old egg boxes, and then put them in a frost free space protected from squirrels. The potatoes are ready to be planted out when the ‘eyes’ have developed into shoots of 1.5-2.5cm long.

There are dozens of different potato varieties to choose from and they usually broken into 3 categories indicating when they crop: early, second early and maincrop potatoes. Earlys crop in late June, and maincrops in October. We have chosen nine different varieties to grow this year: 1) Red Duke of York (Early) (a salad potato) 2) International Kidney (Second Early) excellent flavour and waxy texture 3) Stemster (Maincrop) pale red and a good all rounder in the kitchen 4) Casablanca (Extra Early) 5) Charlotte (Second Early) a salad potato 6) Cara (Maincrop) a great baker 7) Apache (MainCrop) red skin dotted with cream  8) Isle of Jura (MainCrop) good boiler 9) Rooster (MainCrop), red skin, yellow flesh, a great all rounder in the kitchen.  

We are also going to be making and hanging up some more willow bird feeders. We will feed them with a bird cake mix using a recipe recommended by the RSPB which combines suet and wild bird seed feed.  If you would like to try this at home, here’s the recipe.  Here’s hoping we see lots of greenfinches, tits and possibly even great spotted woodpeckers!

In other BPCG news, do get a ticket for our next BPCG at Home talk which will be with Sue Stuart Smith who will be talking about her book ‘The Well-Gardened Mind – Rediscovering Nature in the Modern World’.  It’s next Tuesday 9th February at 7pm. Sue’s inspirational and authoritative book investigates the remarkable effects of nature on our health and wellbeing and teaches us how vital gardening can be, both as an escape for the brain and to help our minds through movement as well as thought. Using case studies of people struggling with stress, depression, trauma and addiction, as well as her own grandfather’s return from World War I, she explores the many ways in which gardening can help transform people’s lives. Book a ticket either for free or if you can, with a donation to BPCG here,

We are also delighted that BBC1 are repeating Farmers Country Showdown Series 4 and that the episode featuring Brockwell Park Community Greenhouses will be on BBC1 at 15.45 on Wednesday 10th February.  If you haven’t seen it, do have a look and see us preparing for the 2019 Lambeth Country Show.  (Or catch it later on IPlayer.)  It’s a reallly enjoyable watch. In the episode, we double up with the excellent Vauxhall City Farm whose Alpaca are really cute – and well worth catching too!

In other news,  we noticed these really interesting looking free online courses from Buglife on spider and beetle identification and on seasonal gardening. Each course is repeated several times and the current list runs until 30th March.  Sign up via their website:  

Butterfly Conservation’s Surrey branch are also putting on a series of free online talks about various aspects of butterfly and moth conservation. Check them out here