This week in the garden, we will start chitting our potatoes. Chitting simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. We start chitting our potatoes about six weeks before they are due to be planted. Ours are main crop potatoes and will be planted early April. All varieties of potato benefit from chitting before planting by setting the seed potato in a light, frost free room, (the back of our greenhouse) and allowing shoots to develop. Egg cartons are ideal for this. Chitting will normally result in bringing the harvesting date forward by 3-4 weeks. The potato is ready for planting when the shoot is 2.5cm long.

We will be growing four varieties of potatoes this year, Isle of Jura (main crop), Apache (main crop), Rooster (main crop) and  Salad Blue (salad potato).

We will be pruning our Brown Turkey Fig, (Ficus carica) which is trained against the herb garden wall. Figs should be pruned in the dormant season, before the buds open. We have been layering a few low growing branches which hopefully will have rooted. If they have we will pot these up for sale. 

Many of the paths around the garden have become muddy during the winter and so we are spreading a fresh layer of wood chip over these. 

The bees’ new apiary has had its front viewing panels attached and it is time to give the wood a coat of wood preservative and to clean the window to make for easy viewing of our bees. Anyone working on the inside of the apiary panels, we can provide you with a bee suit!

We hope to complete the kitchen installation of oven and cupboards this week too.

Our first chilli and tomato seeds have been sown and are in the heated propagators in the greenhouse. These seeds should take around 7-10 days to germinate. We are growing three bush tomato varieties and one chilli variety. Tomato Tiny Tommy (Red fruit) height 15 cm Tomato Sweet ‘N’Neat Lemon Sherbert, (Yellow fruit) height 25cm, spread 20cm Tomato Garden Pearl –  which has pink fruit. This is a bush tomato with a trailing habit, good for planters and hanging baskets. height -30cm. Chilli Numex Twilight is a Chilli Pepper that produces an abundance of small, 2cm upright peppers with a medium-hot flavour. The colourful chillies ripen through a rainbow of colours as they mature from purple to yellow to orange to red.

We are running a second winter tree pruning workshop this Sunday 16th February 10am to 1pm. Book here

This Sunday 16th Feburary is also the next in our series of composting workshops 11am to 1pm. Do join in this free workshop and learn all about making compost for your garden – this is real learning by doing!  Find out more here

Have a go at Tai Chi on Saturday 15th February 2pm to 3pm with Andy Petch.  Pay Andy on the day £10 (£7 concession)

On Saturday February 29th, 11am to 1.30pm, Jelena’s wonderful Fermentation workshops start up again this February.  To find out more and to book go here. We need two volunteers to take part and to help at this workshop, so if you’d like to take up one of these places, please reply to this email.  You will need to arrive by 10am to help set up and stay on til 2.30pm latest.  

Other News
If you haven’t caught it yet, there’s a day left to watch BPCG on the BBC on Iplayer.  It’s available here  It will bring back the Summer as you see us at the Lambeth Country Show.  Our slot is 8 minutes in but it’s well worth watching the whole programme (Farmers Country Showdown Series 4, Episode 7.)

There’s a new great sounding free 6 week gardening training course on lots of different aspects of gardening. It’s for 18 to 26 year olds and it starts on Feb 28th with Urban Growth on Fridays 12 to 3 at Slade Gardens, Brixton.  Email for more details.