On Wednesday 20 June we were proud to host BBC radio Four’s long-running show, Gardeners’ Question Time.
Before the show the BBC team visited the garden, where Mandy was interviewed by the show’s chairman Eric Robson. Then, refreshed with Pimms or Elderflower Cordial, an audience of nearly a hundred filled nearby Half Moon Crescent Community Hall to hear the panel of experts, Matt Biggs, Anne Swithinbank and Christine Walkden
Share their knowledge. How to create toad-friendly habitats, suggestions for crops that won’t get pinched by passersby and how safe is it to eat fruit and vegetables grown in London soil? were just some of the questions. If you’d like to know the answers just click here to listen to the whole programme. https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qp2f/broadcasts/upcoming
Bring your little ones along for a week of fantastic summer arts with our resident artist Igor Barros.
Sessions are drop in in and free (although donations very welcome)
Monday 6th - Friday 10th August 10-3pm
Monday 13th to Friday 17th August 10-3pm
Come along and help spruce up the garden in time for Autumn. Mandy's famous French Onion soup will be available after.
Passing by the pond to the right and through the rose and wisteria drooped arch, you cannot fail to stop short at the sight of Crambe cordifolia in full splendour. Some seven foot tall (2.25m), the giant heart-shaped leaves are surmounted by a great cloud of tiny scented star-shaped flowers on tall stiff stems. As a great performer, it has an Award of garden Merit from the RHS who recommend it as ‘perfect for pollinators’. A seaside plant, variously known as giant sea kale or coalwort it is a brassica but, unlike its cabbage family cousin, Crambe Maritima, the leaves cannot be eaten.
Crambe cordifolia hails from the Caucasus and can cope with tough coastal conditions, including drought as it has a deep taproot. It needs little care once established but the flower stalks should be cut down in autumn in preparation for next year’s grand spectacle.
June is a joyous month, the season of English roses and strawberries and all the delights of summer. With the spring plantings going over you can slot in young plants in the knowledge that summer is finally here. As most of us haven’t the space or the facilities to grow much from seed at home in the warmth, it is worth taking a look at the small plants in the markets and garden centres for tender produce – tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, sweet corn, courgettes, and squashes, sweet potatoes and outdoor cucumbers. You will be recompensed handsomely for the outlay in both in quantity, absolute freshness and a superabundance of taste in late July and August.
Examples of plants that can be sown from seed outside now are bush beans, radishes and salad leaves. Baby carrots, baby leaves of kale and other greens and radishes can be grown in under a month and spinach in six weeks. Summer annuals also grow fast. Poppies sown now will flower in six weeks. Sarah Raven has some lovely suggestions of flowers to sow now to enjoy in late summer.
When sowing it is important to take the trouble to make a fine tilth, to sow as thinly as possible and then thin the young plants further to the right planting distances according to the instructions on the packet to avoid overcrowding.
The local Sainsbury’s has quite a good selection of seed and their potted herbs at £1 each can go straight into the garden now.
Watering is always a major feature of high summer. Rules on wise watering are, when possible, to water early morning or - even better - in the evening when evaporation is less. This also avoids scorching the plants in hot weather. Don’t use a hose. The plots at Culpeper are so small that it is easy to hand water them. Make a little moat around plants as a reservoir. Water the base of the plant. Prioritize the plants that need water most – e.g. young plants that are not fully established or any plant in a container. Use up grey water. Washing up water from the Tea Hut is fine for watering the garden. If you haven’t already done so, take advantage of the manure that has come in, and spread it as a mulch after a good rain to keep moisture in and weeds out, while improving the soil and feeding the plants.
Deadhead plants for more blooms and to keep things tidy but leave roses that will bear good hips for the birds in autumn and winter. Cut back dead foliage of bulbs now and cut oriental poppies right to the base after flowering. Above all, enjoy the month of June.
Possibly the coldest April for three decades with snow flurries in London (known as ‘thunder snow’ –snow and thunderstorms combined) sleet and icy morning frosts, has not been very conducive to the risk of sowing seeds and planting cuttings. However the Met Office forecast for May - in the South at least - is for above average sunshine. So now looks like a good time to take the plunge, especially keeping in mind that it takes a couple of weeks for most seeds to germinate and emerge from the protection of the soil.
If you are growing vegetables on the plot, choose ones that don’t take up too much space (as the plots are small), that don’t take too long to grow, are what you most enjoy, are more delicious home-grown or more expensive to buy.
Some starter suggestions include salad leaves and herbs which are expensive to buy and are useful every day. Salad leaves can be kept going through the growing season (and even through winter if you go onto a ‘winter mix’) by just sowing a few seeds every three weeks and always leaving a few of the leaves at the base when picking. This will usually give you three pickings from each plant.
If you buy potted herbs from the market or a garden centre, check that they haven’t been grown for ornamental use and been sprayed with insecticides. The supermarket ones grown for eating are completely safe but may be on the tender side and need hardening off.
Fresh home-grown strawberries are incomparably delicious. Buy a few plants and you are all set up for the future as they will throw out rooted runners which can be snipped off for more plants next year. The original plants are usually replaced every three years when they run out of steam. The scent alone of a freshly picked tomato warmed by the sun a real summer treat. Tomatoes are dead easy to grow from a small plant, just needing a warm sheltered spot and a weekly feed.
As Culpeper is strictly organic, it is best to net or cover your produce to protect it from slugs and snails and other pests. A further defence is to confuse flying pests by both sight and smell. The pungent aromatic scent of the Mediterranean rosemaries , sages and lavenders is good protection as is a planting of strong smelling French marigolds. Nasturtiums will draw slug and snails away from your produce and a further benefit is that the leaves and petals are good in salads. Garlic is said to ward off aphids, while carrots interplanted with leeks make a very happy partnership indeed. The carrots repel both onion fly and the leek moth and the leeks repel carrot fly. Growing flowers amongst the vegetables will further confuse pests which go by sight and will make Culpeper even more enjoyable for visitors than it is.
We planted this Hamamelis two years ago and it seems to have settled into its new home well.
A treat for late Winter and early Spring - the flowers have a delicious, spicy lemony scent so get up close.
Flowering now by the bench on the terrace.
Just in case you missed this last autumn, the RHS have awarded Culpeper a National Certificate of Distinction. We're so pleased - a real tribute to all the members and volunteers who've worked so hard to create this beautiful garden
Your Committee Needs YOU!
It's our Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 15th November and we need Culpeper members to stand as, propose and elect new committee members (aka trustees).
What does the Committee do?
Culpeper Community Garden's Committee is responsible for managing the garden. We meet every 6 weeks along with the Garden Workers, Mandy and Martha to plan, solve problems and decide on issues which affect the Garden and its members.
Who is on the Committee?
Currently, the Committee members are:
Shakir Lih Razak
Jack Mallinson (Secretary)
Stephen Mullin (Treasurer)
Margaret Pitt (Fundraiser)
Helen Wallis (Chair)
My role is to ensure that meetings run smoothly, that fair, effective decisions are made and to support my committee colleagues and the Garden Workers. I'm stepping down this year, but am happy to remain as a Committee member if elected.
Who can be on the Committee?
Any Garden Member can join the commitee. The constitution states that a majority of the committee must be plotholders. This is to ensure that we represent the Garden Members interests properly.
How do I join?
To join the committee, you must be recommended by two other garden members. One will "propose" you and the other will "second" you in writing. After this, garden members will vote for you at the AGM.
What's in it for me?
You get to make decisions about how Culpeper is run and support this fantastic garden and the vital community work it does. It will develop your management and community engagement skills and you will work alongside a group of experienced, committed Trustees.
What is a Trustee and what are their responsibilities?
A Trustee is a more formal word for committee member. Trustees make key decisions about Culpeper and are ultimately responsible it. This is a serious responsibility as Trustees are personally liable if a charity is mismanaged. However, Culpeper is a long established, registered charity with externally audited accounts and robust, transparent management so we are not at risk. In addition, Culpeper will soon become a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) which limits trustee liability.
Ideally, Trustees should commit to attending at least 6 meetings per year. Meetings take place every 6 weeks and are usually on Wednesdays between 7pm-9pm. Every year, the committee members resign at the AGM and a new committee is elected by the members.
What happens in Committee meetings?
Any Culpeper member is most welcome to attend and see for yourself!
We start the meeting looking at the record of the previous meeting (the minutes) to check it is accurate and we've done what we agreed (action points). We then go through a list of of discussion points (the agenda), which includes finances, fundraising, the Garden Workers report and any day to day planning or problems which need to be sorted out.
What happens if no one volunteers to be on the committee?
With no one to manage it Culpeper could close down. The garden needs to be maintained, everyone has to get on, plots have to be fairly allocated and managed...there's a lot of work which wouldn't get done if it wasn't for the committee and the Garden Workers.