This Sunday

Tools and where they live

Many thanks to Ian for searching out a source of reconditioned hand tools. We now have ten ‘new’ trowels and forks which, when they’ve been colour coded, will be distributed between the sheds.

As you may have noticed, small tools have terrible habit of becoming lost, in long grass or on the edge of plots, or otherwise misplaced. Please make sure that all tools you borrow are either put back in the right shed, if they’re marked with a colour, or put back where they came from. Recently gone missing are little green pricking out tools, watering can roses, all from the greenhouse, and kneeling mats from the blue shed. If anyone knows where these might be hiding, please let us know.

Volunteering morning this Sunday

Even reconditioned tools are costly. One of the ways funds are raised for the project is to make jam and chutney from our own fruit to sell, on Open Day or during the year, from the Big Shed. Among the tasks for this coming volunteering morning is to pick gooseberries from the bushes near the polytunnel.

Bring some good gloves, sit in the sun and chat while you pick. Then find some shade and top and tail the fruit ready for jam-making. Other tasks for the morning are clearing and planting the baths in the family picnic area, clearing paths, weeding and cutting grass. And if you would like take cuttings of thyme, sage and other herbs, come along and learn how it’s done.

Are you a jam or chutney maker? Or would like to learn?

The gooseberries, once picked, topped and tailed, will need preserving.

Preserves - Pickles, Jams, Chutneys, Sauces, Beverages, …

If you are able to take some of the fruit and turn it into pots of jam or chutney to raise funds for GO2, let us know. We can provide sugar and other ingredients. If you would like to learn how to make jam or chutney – as well as gooseberries there will be currants, strawberries, plums and apples and many suitable vegetables later in the season – also let us know. If enough people are interested we can hold workshops in the kitchen of the new SLI Centre in Fourways Community Centre, 
Stevenson Road.

Time to make Elderflower Cordial

An easy way to start preserving produce is to make your own elderflower cordial. There is an elder bush on the allotment, by the manure heap, which is a mass of blossom. Pick the elderflowers in the morning if you can, when the scent is strongest. Choose blossom heads that are creamy in colour rather than white and overblown. Give them a good shake to get rid of any tiny insects and use as fresh as possible. Here’s an adapted version of Sophie Grigson’s recipe from ‘Country Kitchen’, published by Headline.

About 20 elderflowers heads
1.8kg (4lbs) granulated sugar
1.2 litres (2pts) water
2 unwaxed lemons
75g (2 ½ oz) citric acid
  • Place elderflowers in a large bowl.
  • Put sugar in a pan with the water and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Pare the zest from lemons in wide strips, slice the lemons and add all to the bowl of elderflowers.
  • Pour over the boiling syrup and stir in the citric acid.
  • Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • The next day, strain the cordial through a sieve lined with muslin (or J cloth). Pour into very clean glass or plastic bottles.
  • Store in a cool dark cupboard. The cordial also freezes well if you leave a gap at the top of the bottles for expansion.

Larger chemists and shops selling winemaking equipment stock citric acid, though if you can’t find it, tartaric acid can be used instead. The cordial will last all year. Try it diluted with sparkling water or poured over ice-cream. Or use it to sweeten gooseberries or apples in a compote or crumble.

What to plant or sow this Sunday

There are salad plants of all kinds, a few climbing beans and squash plants, parsley and four types of basil. Look at the grower’s guide for advice on what to sow in June on the website,; there will be plenty of seeds in the Big Shed.



 Grow Our Own is Growing

After nine years of the birth of GO2 Bluebell South allotments, we now have a new site – Marlpit Community Garden – situated at the junction between Marlpit Lane and Hellesdon Road. This site will provide growing spaces for up to 200 people who live in Marlpit, Larkman and West Earlham, plus up to six schools and community groups.  The site is going to be OPEN on Saturday 29th  June, 2013.

Anyone interested in helping out or wanting know what is happening out there, please let me know.

 Mahesh Pant


Tel: 01603 920147

Mob: 07969 996646

Click for slideshow

This Sunday, 23rd June…

what to do with your vegetables

Broad beans – once pods have begun to form, the growing tips of each plant may be removed. This helps to reduce infestation by black bean aphid, and the tips may be eaten if steamed or fried lightly. Harvest the pods when the beans can be felt through them.
Peas – once they start to crop, pick every few days to stimulate the plants to produce more.

Nettles – may be used as a mulch (laid on the surface of the soil) around fruit bushes and trees after rain. This retains moisture in the soil, inhibits weed growth and as the nettles rot they provide a source of nitrogen which stimulates plant growth.
Nettles may also be soaked in water to produce a nutritious, albeit smelly, liquid plant feed for tomatoes, squashes, courgettes, sweetcorn and other heavy feeders.

And it is still not too late to sow french beans, radishes, carrots, peas………

Communal stuff …

Thanks to everyone who helped with clearing out and planting in the young peoples’ plots, especially Tessa, Jane G and Peter M. This Sunday we will focus on the area around the polytunnel and greenhouse. And maybe the composting area.

Bangladeshi Dhata

I am taking part in a Garden Organic trial to examine whether or not this plant can be grown viably in the UK. I have a few spare plants if anyone would like to try them. Also, if you have any recipes for this vegetable, please let me know. The trial forms part of Garden Organic’s Sowing New Seeds Project , funded by the Big Lottery Local Food Fund.

Golden Triangle Open Gardens 22nd & 23rd June

If you are a garden lover, or you are just nosey, here is a chance to look at over 20 gardens in this part of Norwich. Entrance is by programme, available for £5 per person, from the Plantation Garden in Earlham Road. Net proceeds will go to The Plantation Garden Preservation Trust (Registered Charity No. 801095).

Strange Weather?

AMERICAN football player Flash Gordon is to investigate the UK’s recent unusual weather.

The Met Office hopes to discover the cause of the unpredictable weather by sending Gordon into space with an attractive journalist and a scientist of questionable sanity. A Met Office spokesman said: “Some would argue that a professional sportsman is not the obvious choice for a meteorological research project, but Michael Fish was busy doing a series for BBC2.
However we don’t feel this will be a problem, as Flash will be accompanied by the brilliant scientist Dr Hans Zarkov and journalist Dale Arden, who is extremely feisty. Our plan is to send Flash and his companions to a new planet that has just entered the solar system, Mongo, which we think may have some connection to our lousy summer weather. Once they get there, they will just need to conduct some simple meteorological tests then come back. It should all be pretty straightforward.”
Gordon said: “I’m just glad to help. There’s nothing worse than it raining during a barbeque and having to finish your sausages off under the grill. Dr Zarkov says he’s been picking up some strange radio transmissions, including the words ‘dispatch war rocket Ajax’ and the sound of booming laughter, but it’s probably nothing. It’s not as though we’re going to encounter some threatening but weirdly camp extraterrestrial civilization.”
The Met Office has predicted scattered meteorite showers at the weekend.
(Credits to the Daily Mash for this story)


Layout and graphics by Jim

This Sunday …

… there will be plenty to plant and sow. If you haven’t put any runner beans in yet there are plants, or you could sow seeds. There are still sweet corn, courgettes and squash, plenty of salads, brassica and leeks.

Herbs on the allotment

Our light sandy soil really suits herbs and they don’t need much attention. Following on from Juyna’s piece on drying herbs last month, here are two herbs that come into their own in summer dishes.

Janet writes:

My favourite herb is French Tarragon – it has an aniseed flavour and goes well with chicken, mushrooms and tomatoes.

Gardening books say that Tarragon is not hardy in our climate, but my plant has been on the allotment for about 4 years and survived really cold winters – but it does die back so I harvest the last leaves and dry them for the winter. As soon as a hint of spring came it was putting up shoots and looking quite cheery. It lives in a sheltered corner which may offer just a little protection.

Try roasting a chicken stuffed with a herb butter made from a tablespoon of tarragon leaves, garlic and 1oz of butter and salt and pepper. You can make a sauce at the end with brandy and cream, added to the meat juices. An alternative to the brandy is vermouth and lemon juice. Or just lay sprigs on tarragon on the breast, and incorporate them into gravy at the end.

Tarragon is also good with mushrooms – try it with parsley in a mushroom sauce for pasta. I use a little pancetta as well, but I’m sure it would be good without the bacon. You don’t need a lot of the leaves – the proverbial tablespoonful will do. Try flavouring a white bean soup with spring onions and tarragon and bay leaves. It also has an affinity with tomatoes – try roasting tomatoes with tarragon and butter. You can add parmesan and cream if you want some richness.

Or make a herb mayo – I use Hellman’s, with finely chopped tarragon, thyme, flat parsley and chives. Pink peppercorns and celery seed are an interesting optional addition. Nice with salads, cold meat and fish fingers.

If you would like a cutting for your plot, please come and see me!

Janet Johnson


Basil is a wonderfully aromatic herb but it is very tender. While it will grow outside in Norfolk in a good summer, in a sheltered spot, it won’t like the weather we’re having at the moment anymore than the rest of us do! However, it will thrive on a warm windowsill, so why not take a potted-up seedling to grow on at home? We have several different varieties available; just ask in the Big Shed. And, if you can give a hand with the potting up – some seedlings are still in their trays – you could take several different kinds to see which do best.

We have Genovese basil, the variety most supermarkets stock. We have lemon basil, which is lovely added to a pasta sauce. Then there is lettuce leaf basil with large leaves making it ideal for pesto. And purple basil which, when mixed with Genovese basil, looks spectacular on a tomato salad. We’ve planted all varieties in the polytunnel so take a look when you’re passing.


Book review

The Nordic Diet – Trina Hahnemann
Quadrille Publishing Ltd 2010

Looking for some ideas for using your salad crops? This book by a Danish chef may be of interest.
The Nordic diet, reported to have the health benefits of a Mediterranean style diet, is based around the traditional lifestyle in Scandinavian countries:
• Eating indigenous seasonal produce (whole grains, root and green vegetables, berries and herbs, fish)
• Enjoying eating by taking time to prepare and share meals with family & friends
The book starts with a section explaining the nutritional basis and philosophy of the Nordic diet. The tone is a bit preachy but factually clear and concise.
Then there are 75 recipes, beautifully photographed. I found plenty of ideas for
• salad combinations e.g. fennel & strawberries
• soups e.g. cold cucumber
• open sandwiches as per the famed Scandinavian Smorgasbord
The book is a well presented, glossy paperback of 144 pages, published at £12.99 and could make a nice gift.

Alison Foss

Layout and graphics by Jim

Note that graphics are usually links to further information on our website or elsewhere – let me know if links do not work for you.
The whole newsletter is always in the members pages and is also archived.

Sunday, 9th June…

… what to do with your vegetables

Plants available include squashes, courgettes, runner beans, kale, … and seeds such as dwarf french beans, sugar snap peas, carrots. Water any newly established plants and small seedlings, remembering that thorough and occasional watering is better than superficial and frequent applications of water.


You may think that your crops are delicious, and you are not alone in your thoughts. Pigeons will love to eat your kale and peas. Protect brassicas (kale, cabbages, brussels sprouts etc) with netting and peas with netting and/or closely woven sticks. And look out for signs of caterpillars and other pests.

What to do with your fruit…

The “June drop” is nature’s way of removing surplus fruit from trees and bushes, reducing the stress on branches which will be less likely to break. You can aid this process in the case of gooseberries for example, if they are laden with lots of tiny fruits. Consider removing every other fruit, which will allow the remaining fruits to grow larger. And of course you can cook and eat the thinnings!
Strawberries should be producing runners (tiny plants that grow on stems from the mother plant). You can use some of these to produce more plants for next year. Remove the rest because they may sap the energy of the main plant. To use the runners, simply peg them into a pot or directly into the soil using a piece of bent wire. Detach from the mother plant once new roots have formed.

Communal stuff…

I won’t mention grass cutting again; well, maybe once. Also, some of the young peoples’ plots are unused and looking neglected. And they need to look especially amazing, being near the entrance. So let’s clear them out, and create something beautiful! Maybe someone could take some photos for our website?


 Sorry, no graphics this week, Jim is away.

Update from Dano, our medicinal herbalist…

I love this time of year as each week new plants come to the fore. A way to mark the passing of the seasons and celebrate seasonal flowers as well as veg. So May flowers for me are Cowparsley, Bluebells, Lily of the valley. June is the start of poppy time. As a June baby myself those really big red poppies were always on my birthday table, what flowers mark your birthday? Its never too late to have a birthday flower and a great way to mark if seasons are changing and there are always a few flowers out even in winter.



Opportunity to take part in a research project…

Hello all
I am a university student from the University of East Anglia, and am undertaking a Masters degree in Environmental Science. My final project is around the aspects of sustainable food systems and community involvement, the GO2 project being my case study. I have visited the project and liaised with the organisers, and in the coming weeks I will be around the site talking to people and helping out as much as I can. I will possibly be interviewing people who would be willing to talk about their various reasons for joining the GO2 project, and their history of growing food.
I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible.

Joe Chambers