Welcome to our New Growers and Volunteers

We have five new subscribers to this newsletter this month, and we wish them welcome and look forward to meeting them.

Volunteering Sunday

This Sunday is the last in February and so it’s our regular Volunteering morning when we tackle the big jobs that need the joint effort of several people to accomplish. It’s forecast to be cold but, as usual, we have projects that are guaranteed to warm you up.

Clive and Peter M will be working on the newest compost site alongside the Red Sheds. Once completed, it will mean that if you have a plot down past those sheds, getting rid of your weeds will be much simpler. And, in time, the site will produce a regular supply of compost for enriching the soil. So come along and help complete the job.

Click for fennel facts

Another warming project is to dig out some of the massive fennel roots that have invaded the border by the Big Shed. This will need to be done carefully to avoid damage to the bulbs that are beginning to push their way through, but at least we can get started on the task. Charles will be there to nominate the roots that can be tackled.

The herb-basins by the composting toilet need a gentle weeding. I say gentle because the different sorts of mint planted there won’t be sending up their green shoots for a few weeks yet so the containers look a bit unkempt. But teasing out the clover and the like from the mass of mint roots will make a difference to the look of the basins and to how productive they are.

There’s a task for anyone good at construction. The heap of poles and wire trays lying alongside the greenhouse needs turning into the cold frame for use later in the season for hardening off plants. Pieces of string, rubber bands and the like will be supplied.

There are jobs to be done in the Big Shed. Seed potatoes are ready to be lain in their eggboxes for chitting. And anyone with a flare for writing and maybe illustrating labels for the jars in which seeds are stored, and the ability to do such work in the cold, would be very welcome. Jane G, Eddie and I will be in and around the big shed so find one of us and ask where the action is.

We usually break for a hot drink at around 12pm. If you’re baking and can bring cakes, biscuits or anything snack-like such contributions could help keep the workers on task!

Calling green-fingered growers looking for a challenge.

Jane C was contacted by Silver River Productions, a TV company who are looking for people to take part in new Gardening Programme they are producing for BBC2. They write that the programme:

‘will be an exciting and stimulating series which will reveal all the wonderful possibilities that can be unlocked from one patch of earth. From vegetables to fruits and flowers, this programme will illustrate that gardens aren’t just for sitting in! We are looking for pairs of contestants who have the skills and the dedication to compete to be the nation’s best kitchen gardener. Someone who can cultivate the perfect carrot, make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney and turn their dahlias and sweet peas into floral arrangements fit for a Queen. We would like to hear from people who believe they have the skills to compete and are interested in featuring in our series. It couldn’t be easier to apply; all you need to do is email your contact number to grow@silverriver.tv for an application form.’

It would be such great publicity if two people from GO2 were contestants!

In the greenhouse…

… the first seeds, sown last week, have started coming through. In a very few weeks, weather permitting, there will be lettuces, mizuna and mibuna ready to plant out.


Planning what to grow

How many beans make Fava?

It is a good idea to stagger the sowing of seeds over the sowing period. This helps to reduce the chances of gluts and shortages as crops become available over a longer period. It also spreads the risk of germination being poor due to adverse weather conditions shortly after sowing.
Crop rotation is a fundamental principle of organic growing, helping to avoid the build up of pests and diseases and maintaining soil fertility. Go to our website www.grow-our-own.co.uk for more information.

Broad beans (fava beans)

We have lots of seeds ready for sowing.

Thanks to Max, Al and Nerea we have lots of plants in the greenhouse to replace beans that were lost over the winter or failed to germinate. Super Aquadulce and Supersimonia (a newer variety) are available, and both produced well last year.

Stuff to get sorted on the allotment

Thanks to Paul for offering to dispose of the car tyres! If anyone else can take non-compostable waste away from the site that would be great. I have limited capacity to carry rubbish on my bike.

Thanks also to those people who have offered to help with the seed sowing this year.
I have begun to compile a list of tasks on a board in the shed, so please let me know if you notice anything that needs sorting out near your plot which you are not able to deal with yourself.

Food growing and the National Curriculum

You may have noticed that the Government issued its proposed national curriculum for schools last week – “The National Curriculum in England: Framework Document for Consultation”. I think that one of the more interesting proposals was that from September 2014 pupils at Key Stage 1 to 3 “should be taught practical knowledge, skills and crafts working in fields such as ……. horticulture, to cultivate plants for practical purposes such as for food or for decorative displays”.

We already have a schools group growing food on our allotments, and maybe there are opportunities here to develop this area of our work


What to do in February

If it stops snowing, sleeting… now is a good time to dig in green manure that was planted in late summer or autumn. Where there is substantial growth, cut it before turning in to the soil.
There is a lot of compost in a bay near the red shed. This can be put on to the surface of the soil around e.g. cabbages and broad beans, to provide a boost to spring late winter and spring growth. Or it can be dug into the soil ready for sowing and planting later in the year.

Seed sowers needed

We need help to sow seeds in the greenhouse over the next few months. You don’t need previous experience because we can show you what to do. You do need to be able to make a regular commitment, have enthusiasm for learning, and show a positive attitude towards helping other growers.

Please talk to Bridget or Clive if you are interested.

Stuff to get sorted on the allotment

(1) We want your cardboard and coffee grounds for composting, and your egg boxes for storing potatoes.
(2) And if your plot is near the red shed you will have noticed that we are preparing to construct another composting site. Let me know if you can help with completing this task.
(3) We need some rubbish taking away from the site to a local dump or recycling centre. If you can help with this, that would be fantastic. Especially if you can find out where to take old car tyres.
(4) If you notice other things that need doing, please let me know, or add them to the list of tasks that will be appearing on a board in the Big Shed. Or maybe you could design the board to display a list of tasks?

Norwich Farmshare – A chance to find out what’s going on