Mince pies at noon

See our recipe

See our recipe

On Sunday, 16th December at 12pm there will be mince pies and something mulled to drink in the big hut, or even outside if the promised sun appears.

 

So, you’re intending to check on your plot or collect vegetables, come along to celebrate nearing the end of 2012 and raise a mug for a more fruitful 2013.

 

 


Winter closing

The big shed will be open from 11am until 2pm as usual on Sunday but then will be closed over the Christmas and New Year period.  We’ll re-open in mid January, the exact date dependent on the weather.  Of course that doesn’t mean that all work need stop.  If you go to the allotment on a fine day, it’s quite likely that there will be other stalwarts there too.  The tool sheds will be open as usual and the key for the composting loo can be collected from, and returned to, the blue shed.  And, if we have snow, the allotment site looks magical.


A warm winter task

If you do visit over the holiday period, there is plenty that can be done.  We’ve recently had a delivery of wood chippings.

If you’d like a task to help keep warm, dig the path between your plot and the next, or even a section of the main path.  Try to get out all the weeds and level the soil.  Collect a couple of barrow loads of chippings to spread in an even layer over the path.  They’re conifer chippings so while they’re too acidic to use as mulch on vegetable beds they are excellent for paths.  The fact that they take a while to break down means that weeds are kept at bay for that bit longer.


Finally …

…for all those stalwarts I mentioned earlier, we’ll open for a food-sharing lunch at 1pm on January 6th!  We’ll send out a reminder in early January.


All good wishes
Bridget

What to do on the allotment in December/January

Try covering parsley with a cloche or plastic bottle to protect it from severe frosts

During the dormant winter months you can prune currants and gooseberries. It is best to avoid doing this when the weather is frosty. And do use sharp secateurs or a pruning saw as appropriate.
We can offer advice on how to prune soft fruit, and on how to take cuttings from the prunings. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cut down to the base in January.


Crop Rotation

Visit the members’ area of our website www.grow-our-own.co.uk to learn more about crop rotation, and the part it plays in reducing the build up of pests and diseases. Lots of thanks to Jim for developing and maintaining such a great site. And if you want to track what you grew where and when, one of our members, Pete, has produced a spreadsheet to help. Please let us know if you would like a copy sent to you.


Roundup

Roundup is a herbicide that is commonly used to destroy broad leaved weeds. You may see it being applied by other allotment holders who are not part of the GO2 group, some of whom may not realise why it is banned from use within organic growing schemes.

Its active ingredient is glyphosate, which has been linked to pesticide related illnesses in agricultural workers. Glyphosate is acutely toxic to birds, and can kill beneficial insects and soil organisms. There is also evidence of glyphosate residues being found in crops such as strawberries, i.e. it may persist in the environment longer than is claimed by the manufacturer.


Of Mice and Men

Not many people wanted to share their (fruit and vegetable) failures publicly! So I will have to admit that almost all of my broad bean seeds have been eaten by mice. Which is particularly annoying because I can see broad beans flourishing on other parts of the allotment. So I will have to sow again in February (possibly in pots initially). This is the first time that I have lost beans in this way.

 

 

The lesson that I take from this is that no two years are the same, and that I can never be sure of success, or of failure. And that is part of what makes growing fruit and vegetables so fascinating.


Clive

Food share lunch on Sunday 2nd December

A sunny day is forecast for Sunday so come to the allotment to see how your plot is faring or even to work on it.  Then stay for the food-share lunch at 1pm.  If the sun really is out it might be warm enough to eat outside.  Bring a dish to share, made from allotment produce if you can.  There’s spinach, Swiss chard and kale still producing fresh shoots, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes ready for digging and for some, even more exotic vegetable to pick, as the photo of Christine holding her romanesco broccoli shows. 

Detail showing fractal structure

I’m going to use one of my precious stored pumpkins and make soup to bring.  And, if you’re warm enough to stay a while after we’ve eaten, bring something that’s caught your eye to read aloud.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any views on, or a story about, farming?

If you do, then this is to invite you to contribute to an innovative project to find out what people in the UK think and feel about farming. It is not an opinion poll, but is based on your experiences and thoughts about farming.
Your experiences may be your own, but we are just as interested in your thoughts on things to do with farming that you may have heard, seen or read (including on TV, in magazines, blogs etc).
Everyone’s contributions are important. So whether you are a farmer or whether your main connection with farming is simply the food on your table, please help us to learn from your thoughts and experiences.
To take part in the project, please click HERE or paste this link into your browser – http://eu.sensemaker-suite.com/Project/html/index.html?projectID=Farming. Depending on how much you contribute, the questionnaire should take about 10-20 minutes.
Your contribution will help us better to understand what farming really means to people in the UK.
Please pass this invitation to your contacts. Thank you for your help.

‘Farming Stories’ is being conducted by Vision 37, the Centre for Rural Research, University of Worcester, the Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter, the Oxford Farming Conference, and the RSPB.


 Bridget

Two more seasonal recipes for the GO2 collection.

Both are puds – one is Transparent Apple Tart and the other is Eliza Acton’s Christmas Pudding from 1845.

The eagle-eyed (that is, you!) will spot that the whole fruit in the apple pud pic are actually quinces, but they look so lovely that I couldn’t resist including them…allegedly the apples that tempted Eve in the first place…


Jane

What to sow or plant now

If you haven’t yet planted garlic or sown broad beans there is still time.  Collect them from the big shed on Sunday.

Click picture to see our lettuce factfile

 

Also, if you have an odd corner free, plant some lettuces, available from the polytunnel.  The tiny plants won’t grow much over the winter; they might succumb to frost, be eaten by slugs or get trampled by foxes but, if they survive, when the days start to lengthen in the spring they’ll start to grow and you could be the first to have tender salad leaves to enjoy.


Rhubarb 

Click picture to see our rhubarb factfile

There are rhubarb crowns available for planting now; they’re under the apple tree by the greenhouse.  Make sure the crown you choose has an ‘eye’, or a large bud that will provide next year’s shoots.  Prepare the ground well, incorporating manure or compost into the soil.  Dig out a hole slightly larger than the crown and place it in the hole with the roots facing downwards.  The top of the crown should be 2.5cm below the soil surface.  Mark where the crown has been planted with a cane or stone; new shoots will appear above the soil in late February or March.  Once planted you’ll need to leave it for a year or two but once established it’ll continue producing for many years.


Bridget

Broad bean seeds

Click here for our fact-sheet

Autumn-sown broad beans can do very well.  The seeds might get eaten by mice, the young plants can rock in the wind or suffer frost damage.  But, if they come through whatever winter throws at them, there’s nothing like the sight of the tiny pods developing on the plants in spring and then the taste of the first beans in May.

We have two varieties available in the big shed.  Superaquadulce is very hardy and has medium size pods; Supersimonia is an Italian variety, also hardy, producing longer pods.


Over-wintering lettuces

Click here for our fact-sheet

There will be lettuce plants available from outside the polytunnel to put in your plot now.  They won’t grow much during the winter but in early spring, once the weather starts to improve and the days lengthen, they’ll start to grow and provide young, tender lettuces in March and April.

Avoid ghastly monocultures, like the one on the left – plant yours amongst other young or small vegetables.


Sunday 4th November, food-sharing lunch

Come along on Sunday, bring a dish made from allotment or other seasonal produce to share and enjoy good food and company.

If you’re of a literary mind, bring along a favourite poem or piece of prose to share after the meal.


Bridget

Can you help put the allotment site to bed?

It’s that time again: the first frosts have flattened the courgette and pumpkin plants and sweetened the parsnips; the last runner beans hang from nearly bare poles; spinach, kale and Swiss chard stand ready for winter stir-fries. There are garlic and onions to plant now and next month there will be broad beans to sow but, apart from clearing and covering your plot, what else is there to do? The answer is that if you have an hour or more this Sunday, between 10 am and 2pm, come and help get the allotment site ready for winter.


Jobs for this Sunday include:

Clearing the area alongside the Red Shed
Dismantling old compost bins and constructing new ones
Weeding and planting in polytunnel

Coiling hoses, sweeping paths and cutting grass

There will be a break for hot drinks and cake at some point during the morning.

Come and do your bit. GO2 relies entirely on volunteer help and so the more growers take on necessary tasks, the more the project will thrive.

 


New GO2 Centre opening hours


From Sunday November 4th, the Centre will open an hour later at 11am, and close at 2pm. Wednesday opening will stay the same, from 10am until 1pm.
Garlic and onions are still available from the big shed

 

 

 


Lastly a link to a very inspiring project incredible-edible-todmorden.co.uk


Bridget

Garlic and Onions

Garlic is now available, and ready for planting.  The variety is Vallelado, which has large bulbs and has been selected for northern European conditions.

It will be ready for harvesting when the leaves begin to turn yellow, in July/August.

We also have a supply of over-wintering onions.


Fruit bushes and fruit trees

Once the weather turns colder, it is a good idea to pull back any mulch, and weed around fruit bushes and fruit trees.  This allows the autumn and winter rain (assuming we have some!) to moisten the soil, and prevents some pests from overwintering near the plants.  Mulch can be reapplied in late winter/early spring.

Plots available

We still have a few free plots, so if you know anyone who would like to be part of our project, please ask them to contact us as soon as possible.


Coffee grounds

Thanks to Sophie for bringing coffee grounds to the allotment.  They are an excellent addition to a composting system, being high in nitrogen. 

Spread over the soil, they are reputed to deter slugs and snails (not sure I believe this!).

Maybe you could find out if your favourite cafe will allow you to take away coffee grounds.


Finally…Money

The deadline for paying for your plot(s) was 30th September. We can’t guarantee to keep your plot(s) if you haven’t paid.  Please contact us straightaway if you have missed the deadline.


Clive

Cardboard

Please bring any unwanted cardboard to the allotment.

It can be used to cover the soil over winter, stopping weeds from growing and keeping the ground warmer.  It also stops nutrients from leaching through the soil where manure has been applied.

Cardboard is a good insulator in compost heaps too, breaking down to provide a carbon rich balance to nitrogen rich grass.

Manure

We will be buying more supplies of manure over the next few months.

Well rotted manure should be applied sparingly in most situations, around the base (but not touching) of growing plants such as cabbages and other brassicas, or left on the surface and covered with wet cardboard.

Gloves should be worn when handling manure, and there is a supply of anti-bacterial gel in the toilet that can be used to wash your hands afterwards.

You might prefer to use green manures instead, plants that are sown to enrich the soil.  We have tares seeds that will germinate to produce plants to add nitrogen to the soil, and suppress weed growth.

Harvesting

Winter squashes (e.g. butternut) will need to be harvested before the first severe frost, and should store for months if they have ripened, and the skins have hardened.

My courgette plants have already succumbed to the cooler weather, but not before I picked my 129th courgette!

Parsnips can be left in the soil until needed, and will benefit from any frost, which turns starches into sugar, improving the flavour.  Meanwhile, kale and chard may be harvested throughout the winter.

New Allotment Officer

We have met with Norwich City Council’s new Allotment Officer, Matt Hewes, who is very supportive of our project.  In particular that we encourage and support a wide section of the community to be involved in allotments, and that we ensure that our plots are used productively and not allowed to be uncultivated.

Finally……….Keys

Thank you to everyone who turned out their pockets, looked behind sofas etc in search of the missing keys.

The good news is that they have been found!

 

Clive

Over wintering onions


Onion sets are tiny, immature onions that have been grown from seed.  There are two chances for planting them, in autumn and in spring.  Onion sets planted now to over winter will be ready in June or July next year; spring-sown sets mature later, in July or August.  The over wintering onions have a crisper flesh than spring-sown sets so can be eaten straight away.  They won’t store well but this is rarely a problem as they’re very tasty raw or cooked, great for summer dishes.
The sets are available now and can be collected from the shed on Wednesday or Sunday mornings.  There are planting instructions on the GO2 website and also will be posted on the window of the big shed.  Tip: Don’t plant in freshly manured soil as this encourages the sets to rot.


 Sunday food-and-poetry-sharing lunch

Come along on Sunday, bring a dish to share and, if the forecast is to be believed, sit outside in the sun enjoying good food and company.  And, in honour of last Thursday’s National Poetry Day, bring along a favourite poem to share after the meal.


Are you tidying your garden ready for winter?


If you have unwanted spring bulbs or, when splitting herbaceous plants, have a root or two to spare, Juyna would be very pleased to receive them for the flower borders around the big shed.


Open Day

Very many thanks to everyone who helped to make last Saturday’s Open Day a great success.  The efforts of those who organised, looked after and contributed to the tombola, plant, cake and preserve stalls means that a total of £142.10 has been added GO2 funds.


Bridget

Open Day

Is happening from 12 to 4 on Saturday.  Please come and meet other growers, show off your plots to friends and family and generally have a good time.  And if you can make something to sell on the cake stall………….

Sunday

we will be recovering from the Open Day and will be closed!

Green Manures

www.greenmanure.co.uk

Phacelia

www.greenmanure.co.uk

Tares

www.greenmanure.co.uk

Mustard

These are used to suppress weed growth, add structure to the soil and provide ground cover over the winter. 

Visit the big shed for tares, phacelia and mustard.
Last year I sowed tares, which are related to peas and help to fix nitogen, adding to the soil’s fertility.

Volunteering

All of the tasks that help to make this project work are undertaken by volunteers.  And all growers, in addition to paying their plot rents, are expected to make some voluntary contribution to the community.  Please let us know what you can do, e.g. buildings maintenance, photography, grass cutting, rubbish clearance………..

Oak Trees

If you find any oak seedlings on your plot, please give them to Shena, who has a friend who is planting a line of oak trees!www.sciencephoto.com


Open Day Saturday 29th September – Midday to 4pm

A chance to socialise with other growers, show off your plots to family and friends, and generally have a relaxed afternoon on the allotment. Any contributions to the home-made cake or tombola stalls will be very welcome. And if you have not done so already, you can pay your plot rent for the next year!

Mahesh will be facilitating discussion groups on issues arising from growing our own food. What do you think are the benefits to physical and mental wellbeing, to the environment, and to the building of community? What works well at our scheme, and what improvements or changes would you like to see?


Things to be Done this Sunday

Grass cutting, tidying of the pile of indeterminate objects near the bike stands and weeding the baths are all needed ahead of the Open Day. For anyone who wants a more vigorous workout, there are opportunities to move piles of rotting plant material around in the main composting area.


Using Manure

We do have some well-rotted horse manure in a covered pile, marked “GO2 Muck”, halfway between the polytunnel and the red shed. It should be used sparingly, applied on the surface around, but not touching, nitrogen-hungry plants such as brassicas (cabbages, kale etc). Alternatively it may be put on the soil and then covered with a thickish layer of wet cardboard, weighted down with bricks or similar, and left until spring. It should not remain uncovered on ground where no crops are growing, because the nitrogen in the manure will be washed through the soil by rain, wasting the nutrients.


Annual Report

We want to include several short case studies from growers in our Annual Report. Would you be willing to say why you joined GO2, and what it means to you? If you prefer, we can tell your story anonymously! Please talk to Mahesh at our Open Day, or e-mail your thoughts to mail@grow-our-own.co.uk

Here is an example from a former member

Charlotte's 2011 Report

What Charlotte has to say about Grow Our Own


Clive

Paying for your plot

You should by now have received a notice asking you to pay for your plot for the year beginning 1st October 2012.  If you want to keep your plot please pay as soon as possible, because we need to pay Norwiich City Council.  The final date for payment is 30th September; we can’t guarantee that will be able to have a plot if you haven’t paid by then.  Alternatively please let us know if you don’t want to continue.  We will then be able to offer your plot to someone else.


Good Food March

The Good Food March is coming to Norwich on Sunday.  The campaigners will be visiting our community allotment scheme, talking to growers and having a (good food) picnic.  They will arrive at 2.00 if you want to meet and eat with them.  Meanwhile you can check out their campaign at www.goodfoodmarch.eu/


Raspberries

Red Admiral on Raspberry

Autumn fruiting raspberries have been prolific this year, with plenty of rain earlier in the season to help swell the fruit.
They will continue to produce through October if there are no sharp frosts.
You may want to clear a space on your plot to plant some in the winter.
They are good for wildlilfe too, with honey bees especially liking their flowers.


Clive

Open Day

Please put Saturday 29th September in your diaries/on your mobile devices!  And invite family and friends to visit.  This is a great opportunity to promote organic food growing and encourage others to get involved.

To make the site more welcoming, Juyna & Charles and Janet have replaced the pile of rubbish by the car parking with a beautiful rockery. (click for photos)

Jane G has done a wonderful job of tidying the area near the bike racks.  We still need people to cut grass, weed tubs etc in the communal areas ahead of the day.

If you can donate something for the tombola or make a cake or biscuits to sell on the day, please let us know.


Pest of the Month – Wireworm

Wireworms are the larvae of various species of click beetle.  The two most common are Athous haemorrhoidalis and Agriotes lineatus. They are often troublesome in newly cultivated ground, particularly when it was previously covered with grass.  Wireworms attack the underground parts of plants, especially potato, beetroot and carrot.  They leave knitting needle sized holes on the outside of the tuber or root.  On cutting open, a network of tunnels may be evident.  This may lead to bacterial or fungal rot, so crops damaged in this way should be harvested and consumed early.

Source – Garden Organic

Rubbish

Lots of thanks to Charles and Juyna for taking immense amounts of plastic and other discarded material to the dump.  Please remember to take home anything that can’t be used or composted on the site.


Cabbages

There are plenty of cabbages and other brassica seedlings available for planting out.  Remember to handle seedlings by the leaves and not the stems, and to fill the planting hole with water before transplanting them.


Clive

Three happenings and a recipe

Sunday 2nd  September at 1pm is our monthly food-sharing lunch.  No   doubt there will be ever more ingenious ways of using produce from plots –   courgettes, runner beans, raspberries, whatever is ready – so come along with   dish to share and join in.
 
On Sunday, 16th   September, the GO2 Centre will host a stage in the
‘Good Food March’ as it makes   its way through Norwich.  The march is to publicise the call to Brussels   for a Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) that delivers good food and good   farming.  Cyclists and walkers will arrive from John Innes at about 2pm   for a refreshment break and to hear more about our project, so come and join   them.  I’m sure we’ll have much in common with the marchers.  See http://www.goodfoodmarch.eu/   for more details.
 
GO2’s
Open Day is on Saturday 29th   September, from 12-4pm in the big shed and around.  Any offers of help   and items for the tombola are most welcome. 


Things to do on 26th August
We need lots of help clearing and tidying in the communal areas please!


Advance notice …

Our annual Open Day will take place on Saturday September 29th from 12pm. As usual we’re holding it on Michaelmas Day, associated traditionally with the end of harvest and the beginning of autumn when rents are due, land is exchanged and hiring takes place. Add to that mix a celebration of the past year and all, with a little imagination, can apply to GO2’s event.

The advance warning is for you to put the date in your diary.

 

The day is for everyone; growers, their families and friends of Grow-Or-Own and Growing at Home. We need volunteers to help on the day, in setting up, running a stall and clearing up. Jane G would welcome donations for the tombola and asks that any donation be put in the box (marked ‘Tombola’!) in the big shed.

If you have an idea for a stall or activity that would add to the celebration and also might raise a few pennies for the project, we’d love to hear. So, if you’d like to be involved, either email us at bluebell@ grow-own-own.co.uk or speak to whoever is on duty when you visit on a Wednesday or Sunday morning.

 

 

 


Just a few remaining….

We’re coming to the end of the growing season but there are still plants to go in.

There will be spring cabbage and a few salad plants available outside the polytunnel on Sunday.

 

 

 


Bridget

How to Prepare and Eat Garden Snails

Here is some advice on how to prepare and eat garden snails! It’s from Elisabeth Luard’s book Saffron and Sunshine. She’s spent much of her life in places like Spain, living in simple villages on a tiny budget to feed a family.
Luard says that all land snails are edible but you must starve them before you eat them, because they contain potentially toxic excreta – that is, snail poo, Collect them (that won’t be difficult!) and keep them in a clean container that allows air to circulate. Feed them on whatever you’d like to flavour them with – she recommends lettuce and mint. Keep them for about two weeks – less if small, longer if big – and clean out the container every day. She doesn’t mention whether you should have water, but another source says you don’t need any – there’s enough in the atmosphere.

Preparing a box of snails

When you’re ready to cook them, wash in several changes of water and salt them. They will froth (ugh, this is getting horrible!). When they stop frothing they are considered clean enough to cook. Put them in a pan with enough warm water to cover. Bring gently to the boil. Skim off the froth and add salt and a tablespoon of vinegar, some peppercorns, a couple of bayleaves, parsley, thyme and an onion (this begins to sound like Stone soup!). Simmer 30 mins. Drain, rinse. Remove snails from their shells and pinch off the little curl of black intestine at the end of the body. Finish by simmering a few minutes in garlic and wine, like cooking mussels (this is what they do in Liguria in the Italian Riveria) or in a spicy tomato sauce (which is what they do in Andalucia in southern Spain).

Snails ready to cook

Many thanks (possibly!) to Jane C for researching this topic.
Clive (picture-links by Jim)

Late summer planting

Most sowing and planting have been completed for this growing year, and crops such as french beans, courgettes and sweetcorn are ripening and maturing.  If they weren’t eaten by snails!  There are still a few salad plants available to fill any short-term spaces in your plots.  And you could sow quick growing crops such as radishes.


Planning for winter

We can begin to visualise how we want to use our land over winter.  For example, onions and garlic can be sown from October, or broad beans from November.  Cabbages and kale can be planted out in the next couple of weeks and eaten in late winter and early spring.  Or green manures sown any time from now through October.   If you are unsure about what to do, talk to other growers or ask Jane G or Christine who will be volunteering in the big shed.


Cooking with courgettes

One of our growers brought some wonderful courgette bread to our shared lunch on Sunday.  Ask Kay for her recipe, and let us have your ideas for cooking with courgettes.  The more left field the better!


Shears

Christine has arranged for our shears to be sharpened!  Thanks Christine!


Beautiful project

Check out this amazing project in Peterborough – www.thegreenbackyard.com  Many thanks to one of our growers, Suzanne Antonelli, whose father is one of the key people involved.


Clive

Food-sharing lunch.

Come next Sunday at 1pm with a dish made from allotment produce or from whatever is in season. My courgettes and patty pan squashes are coming into their own now. There’s not the usual glut (see below) but I’m hoping for enough to turn into a soup, if it’s raining, or something more exciting if the sun’s out.

 

 

 


To carry on or not?

It’s been a difficult year; first drought and cold, then too much rain and precious little warmth. Some crops have done well despite everything; others could have prospered if the snails and slugs had let them.

It has needed the strongest motivation to keep going and those who have kept their plots even half-productive all deserve gold medals. But the cold and wet have, maybe, put many people off coming to the allotment so perhaps it’s not surprising that several plots have become overgrown. That’s particularly sad if the plot holder is a new grower; it hasn’t been the best year to start growing your own vegetables. We can’t foretell next year, just that it’ll be different. So, if you’ve felt abandoned by your plot and the weather this year, a new growing season always brings the possibility that things will be better. We hope you’ll come back, clear your plot and continue. It’s not even too late for this season. There are salad crops, French bean and spring cabbage plants ready to go out. They’ll be put on the benches outside the polytunnel on Sunday. And, in a month or two, when the weeds have died down and the ground is easier to clear and dig, next year’s garlic, onion sets and broad bean seeds can go in.


Planning for next year

We’re beginning to plan for next year and so it would be helpful for us to know if you intend to give up your plot, by emailing us on bluebell@grow-our-own.co.uk.

If you have had a successful year and would like to take on a further plot, and if one is available, that would also be useful for us to know. Early next month we will be sending out reminders for plot fees that are due by the end of September.


Bridget

Volunteering Sunday 29th July 2012


Potato blight
The recent warm and moist weather conditions have led to an outbreak of this fungus-like organism – Phytophthora infestans. Please follow this link for detailed information. Please bring your own plastic bags so that you can deposit discarded plant matter in them and remove from the site.


Volunteering tasks
We particularly need help this Sunday to clear the bathtubs in the children’s area (under the Beauty of Bath apple tree) that have become overgrown. Once clear, the tubs can be planted with lettuce and basil and sown with French beans or carrots for a late crop. And watered. So, if there are any young children (and parents) still in Norwich and in need of a morning’s activity, then come along and help – my grandchildren, Athol (5) and Morven (3), have already (been) volunteered. We have a selection of small tools, wheelbarrows and watering cans. Breaks for drinks and a snack and lunch later are a possibility.
Other volunteering jobs include the always necessary grass-cutting along paths, weeding the lower compost pile, tidying the stacks of plant pots and trays by the white shed, and much more.


Growing advice
This Sunday Mahesh will be around to answer any of your fruit and vegetable growing questions. The next structured gardening workshop will take place on the first Sunday of September.


New project at Marlpit
Norwich City Council’s planning committee unanimously approved our application on May 17, 2012.  We hope to start the site development work soon and make the plots available to local individuals, families and community groups from September 2012. We will update you on the progress of our work. You can also check out what is happening here, on this website.


Bridget & Clive

Are slugs and snails stressing you out?

The unusually wet conditions experienced in the last three months have led to an estimated doubling or even trebling of Britain’s population of slugs and snails.  Disturbingly for growers, the most prolific of the slugs are two invasive Spanish species, Arion vulgaris and Arion flagellu. These slugs are larger and lay around 10 times more eggs than Britain’s native slugs, producing hundreds of offspring at a time.  Hopefully the six inch long slug found in Devon recently won’t make it as far east as Norwich, at least not this year.

What to do?

The following can help to reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of damage to crops:

  • Clear weeds and vegetation from near your plot, to reduce hiding places for these creatures that move around mainly at night
  • Wait for dryer weather conditions to return before sowing more seeds or replacing damaged plants.
  • The larger and more healthy seedlings are before being transplanted the more likely it is that they will survive
  • Use barriers such as slug tape (made from copper)
  • Pray for sun

Please see an example of a large red slug (arion rufus) below.  Apparently these are not especially damaging to seedlings, preferring to graze on decaying plant matter.


Plant and seeds to go

Bearing in mind the comments above, Juyna and Jane C will be around in and around the big shed on Sunday to help you decide what to grow, now that some early vegetables, such as broad beans, are finishing.


Composting issues

We are gradually moving away from using individual bins to having a larger-scale community composting facility, and several areas where plant waste can be stored and covered.  We think that this will provide a more efficient composting process, and will reinforce the communal aspect of our project. If you bring your plant material to the community composting facility near the entrance, please help Laurie our composter by following the instructions.  That is, separate green, brown and couch grass materials into the different bays provided, and chop up the plants into small pieces.  We are looking for someone to help Laurie with composting on a regular basis, so please let me or Bridget know if you are interested.


Clive

Salad days …

It’s not too late sow seeds. As well as crops for autumn eating – beetroot, carrots and turnips can still go in – there are plenty of salad leaves which will add interest and variety to late summer meals. Sow rows of mixed oriental salad leaves, cut-and-come-again lettuce, fennel, Swiss chard or spinach.

Pick some of the young leaves as soon as they are big enough to handle, leaving the rest of the plants to grow on.

Then forage for some nasturtium leaves (they give a peppery kick) and a couple of their red and orange flowers.

Add these, together with the spiky petals of a pot marigold flower and blue petals of borage (which taste of cucumber), to the mix of leaves for a salad with enough colour, texture and taste to cheer you while you watch the rain fall.




Potato blight

This perpetual wet weather means that, despite our seed potatoes being resistant to blight, we’re unlikely to escape it completely.
Look out for the tops of your potatoes developing brown patches on their leaves and dying back quickly.  If this happens, cut away all the foliage. Bag the diseased foliage and take it either to the municipal tip where the heat of composting destroys the spores that cause the infection or home to your landfill bin.
The potatoes will be quite safe to eat though, as they’re less likely to keep, it’s a good idea to lift and start using them sooner rather than later.

For more information see earlier newsletters


Bridget

Harvesting

At last, after the cold, wet spring, the allotments seem to be flourishing.  Broad beans are getting to the end of a prolific season but there are mangetout, sugar snap peas, lettuce, beetroot and courgettes to take their place. Strawberries are everywhere, in plots and on paths; even the slugs can’t keep up.  The first raspberries, the first flowers on runner beans, the first courgette turning into a marrow; it’s all beginning to happen.  If you haven’t been to your plot for a while, go this weekend, you might find a few strawberries hidden in the undergrowth and even spindly looking broad bean plants are producing a few pods.


Planting


There are plants – lettuce, brassica and pak choi – in the polytunnel and seeds – turnips, swede and beetroot – in the hut for the spaces left when you pull a lettuce, lift onions or dig the first new potatoes.


Holidays

It’s getting to the time when people are setting off on holiday. If you have crops which, despite all your plans, are going to crop while you’re away, don’t let them go to waste. Ask your allotment neighbours or friends but if they can’t use them let us know, in person or by email at bluebell@grow-our-own.co.uk.   We’ll make sure the produce is used, by our regular volunteers or for jams and chutneys to sell on open day in September.


Bridget

If you are growing potatoes, there is a question which you may be asking …
What is potato blight?

This leaflet from the Potato Council answers the question and has a link to their website with a wealth of helpful tips.

It’s the first Sunday of the month this weekend and there’s no rain forecast so come along to either or both of our two regular events.


At 11am Mahesh continues with his gardening workshops
Growing Soft Fruit, Vegetables and Herbs: A  Practical Workshop for Beginners

 Workshop 4: General gardening tasks including harvesting

1. How to create a sturdy structure for climbing plants such as runner beans; you must have noticed so many structures being collapsed under the weight of vigorously grown runner beans and strong winds.
2.  How to create a perfect netting to protect your brassicas from wood pigeons?
3. How and when to harvest your vegetables – basic things you should know. [Over the years, I have been asked by our growers – “when can I pick my sweetcorn, courgette, broadbeans ……?” This is an opportunity for you to learn just that].
4. How to deal with a current problem – Leek Rust and Potato Blight.

 Note: Workshop to take place on Bluebell South allotments on first Sunday of each month at 11 am, and is open to all GO2 and Growing at Home members. Space is limited to 10 people. To book a place, e-mail: sustainable@talktalk.net


 Food-sharing lunch

Then, at one o’clock, the tables in the picnic area will be cleared for our food-sharing lunch.  Come along with a dish made from whatever is growing on your plot or is in season.

At the Midsummer evening meal last week, among the wonderful variety of dishes there were some inventive, and delicious, ways of using broad beans, so maybe there’ll more this weekend.

To deal with another glut, I’ve googled the recipe for a spinach, almond and chickpea salad hoping to use up the blanket of spinach seedlings that is threatening to smother the more legitimate plants on my plot.


Plants and seeds from the polytunnel and hut.

There are plenty of brassica available; red and savoy cabbage, purple sprouting broccoli, kales of many hues, delicate pale green kohl rabi.  Salads too; lettuce, mustard greens, mizuna and mibuna.  For a quick crop try pak choi, Chinese cabbage or tatsoi, either as plants or from seed.

There’s still time to sow dwarf French beans, beetroot, Swiss chard, carrots, turnips and fennel, all of which are available from the big shed.


Bridget

Volunteering Sunday 24th June

Key tasks will be:

Grass-cutting along the paths and communal areas; if you can bring your own shears that would be great.

Composting (again!); we’ll look at emptying the contents of some of the smaller sized bins. Please bring gardening gloves for this task.


Is your garlic suffering?

The damp spring and early summer has led to plants of the allium species (e.g. leeks, garlic, onions, chives) being attacked by leek rust.  This fungal disease can be recognised from the appearnace of dusty reddish-orange pustules on leaves. The advice from Garden Organic is to in future, make sure that you don’t have too much nitrogen (i.e. don’t apply manure or compost that is too fresh) and maybe increase the spacing between plants to allow more air flow.  There is no need to harvest especially early but on the other hand if you leave it too late, secondary rots may develop on damamged tissue.  So once the bulbs are a decent size lift them to dry


Things to plant  

Cauliflowers, courgettes, squashes, salad leaves, pak choi, …

Things to sow

Peas, beans, beetroot, chard, carrots, …

Juyna and Jane C will be in the big shed on Sunday from 10 to 2, dispensing seeds, plants, wisdom and emotional support.


And finally…….   Mystery bike manifests itself on alloment!

This bike has been lurking in the bike racks for a couple of weeks, and should be approached with caution.

Did anyone arrive home recently minus a mode of transport?  Please let me know if you have any information that could help to solve this riddle

Clive

Don’t forget our
Midsummer Supper on Wednesday, 20th June

Come any time from 6pm when there will be allotment nibbles to keep hunger at bay. The main event will start at 6.30 pm. We want to eat outside so, if rain threatens, we’ll put up a gazebo, but come dressed for any weather. Bring a dish to share, perhaps something to drink (though there will be elderflower sparkle) and crossed fingers for a warm, sunny evening with a gentle breeze.


Plants and seeds available

As usual, there are plants available from the poylytunnel; courgettes, summer and winter squash, salads, parsley, basil and summer savory. Or, for winter eating, there are brassica of all kinds; red and Savoy cabbage, several different kinds of kale and purple sprouting broccoli. Brassicas need to be protected from pigeons which seem to like nothing better than a newly planted bed of cabbages. There’s netting and sticks available, so just ask whoever is on duty.
It’s not too late to sow many different kinds of seed. Try climbing French beans as a change from runners, fennel or even a row of swede.


Bees

Finally, you might be interested in a public meeting that asks:
Why is the bee declining?  What are the consequences?  What can we and the
Government do?
“The Bee-Cause”, the Norfolk launch of the Friends of the Earth Campaign to protect the bee
Venue: Assembly House, Theatre Street, Norwich.
Date: Wednesday 27 June Time:  7.30pm (doors open 6.30pm)
For more information go to
www.thehappybeecompany.co.uk


Bridget