A few of us met to plant trees at Marlpit Community Garden on Tuesday 10 November 2015.
Click on any photo and see a slideshow.

Trees ready for planting at Marlpit Community Garden

Trees ready for planting – the plan is Dogwood by the gate; Hazel in the coppice; Hawthorn, Rowan and birch in the hedges.

These are the spiral tree-guards.

Corylus avelana, Hazel to plant for coppicing in years to come.
Possibly Cherry?

Possibly Cherry?

Very young whips of Cornus sanguinea, Common Dogwood, to be planted near the gate.

Betula pendula, Birch will be used in the hedge and herbally.

Very young saplings are known as “whips”.

Sorbus aucuparia, Rowan – food for bees and birds.

What did I find in this discarded crisp bag?

Clearing up litter by the dung heap, what's this?

Clearing up litter by the dung heap, what’s this?

Lunch was provided by Mahesh and enjoyed by all present. As it was still sunny, we ate in the shade of the shelter and enjoyed the view of trees and horses and occasional birds (see Chris Keene’s item on the blog.)


Welcome once more to GO2

If you haven’t been given a membership card, there is one waiting in the Bluebell Shed. Just ask when you are next at the allotments, or at Marlpit Community Garden.

Remember “First Sunday Food” is on 1st November at 1pm

After the “Big Shed Tidy” finishes at noon, the other team leaders will take a few minutes to explain what their team does, before the Food Team start to set up for the 1pm food-sharing lunch. We hope you’ll stay, and if you can, please bring a dish to share.
You don’t have to be there all morning, but it would be useful to be there at 12 and it would certainly be nice to come to lunch and meet other members. If it rains we’ll eat inside.

Best wishes,

Christine – Admin Team

“Virtual GO2 – an introduction to our website.

A mnemonic image for you

Some pages of are for public information – others are for members only, and are protected by one password for all.  One such page is our “Members Area” blog, which has a front page showing all current news items (“posts”) shown much like the newsletter.

Alongside the blog is a menu leading to over 100 members pages; a table summarising the 8 most recent posts and a list of categories for searching the website.

When you follow a link in the newsletter or elsewhere, it may take you to the Members Area and your computer can “remember” the password for you for some weeks, so you may not be aware that you are reading a Members page. You’ll find links everywhere to everything, and Google can help you find your way round it.

The website has 216 pages, 243 posts and 1200 other media items – pictures and documents – please investigate – and let me know what you think. If you have ideas you would like to share or (better still) the skills to help manage this, do let me know. We use WordPresswordpress-login for the website and MailChimpmailchimp-loginfor the newsletter – both of these are designed to be easy to learn, and free to use.


Christine who leads the Admin Team at GO2 Bluebell South Allotments has been welcoming all new members by email with a new “Welcome” attachment document. If you wish to read it, it’s on the website along with many others.

Not Normal for Norfolk

Birds of Marlpit Community Garden Autumn 2015

Psittacula krameri, Ring-necked Parakeets, photo by Jim

Psittacula krameri, Ring-necked Parakeets, photo by Jim

A pair of Rose ringed parakeets (aka Ring necked parakeet) have been seen at Marlpit Community Garden. These brilliantly coloured birds have been popular as pets for decades, but in 1969 they started to breed in the wild in England, after having escaped, or having been deliberately released. There are now over 8,600 pairs in England and the population is rapidly increasing They are mostly found in the wild in South East England, and it is likely that the pair at the Community Garden had escaped from captivity. They hail from India originally, where they can sometimes cause damage to crops. In England they eat apples, pears, cherries and hawthorn berries, and also visit bird tables to feed on peanuts and sunflower seeds. read-more

Chris Keene

Bluebell GO2 Great Big End of Year Shed and Tool Day.

Sunday November 1st 10:00-12:00

Happy secateurs!

  • Sheds cleaned
  • Tools inventoried
  • Tools inspected
  • Cutting tools sharpened
  • Minor repairs as needed

All new growers welcome as we will have a short “meet & greet” afterwards.
Everyone who has put their name down for Shed and Tools, please try to come.
Coffee, tea and cake will be served – maybe scones and jam!

Look forward to seeing you all.

Jane G

Tools and Sheds Team Leader


A very warm welcome to both the existing and recently joined members of SLI. You’re now a member of a community gardening scheme which was started some 11 years ago. We hope you will enjoy being part of it. Our ethos is very much on sharing skills, knowledge and resources. Don’t hesitate to ask another grower for help or offer help to fellow growers. Because it is a community scheme run by volunteers, the long-term sustainability of the organisation depends on your cooperation and active participation.
From now on, you will receive a Newsletter every fortnight which will have all the information you need to know about your plot and the dates for upcoming events and training. If you do not get a copy of the Newsletter, please contact

Happy gardening!


Call for new trustees of Sustainable Living Initiative

We currently have four Trustees but there could be nine.

There are four meetings a year and the duties are not onerous. Laura who has a plot on GO2 Bluebell and is also a SLI trustee says – she enjoys having a strategic view and being a plot-holder; her role has enabled her to have a good insight into the organisation.

For information about the trustee’s role, please follow this link:…/the-essential-trustee-what-you-need-to-know-cc3

If you are interested in becoming a Trustee, please e-mail me, along with a copy of your CV.


Visiting Volunteers 1st October 2015

Lily Pharmaceuticals send members of their world-wide workforce to perform volunteer work. On October 1st, four volunteers and their team leader came to the Marlpit Community Garden. They worked very hard all day, putting in the twenty five 3 meter posts needed for the fruit bed netting.DSCN1947 Holes were dug 1 meter deep, which is almost exactly the length of a Marlpit children’s green spade. (Alternatively, deep enough for the smallest team member to get soil in her armpit!) The posts were inserted, carefully lined up, wire stretched across their tops and sides, and secured with staples. The netting will go over in the Spring. The group worked with a good will throughout, and deserve a big “Thank You!” for a job well done.


Read more on the “Past Events” page read-more

Lunch Club Meeting

We met on Saturday 26th September at the Marlpit Community Centre, and discussed organising publicity and sharing communal work. This was followed by Lunch Club for those who joined in with the Bluebell Food Team’s Mediterranean Lunch. Mark’s notes are here read-more

Birds at Marlpit Community Garden

MCG is not just allotments, it has a Forest Garden with bees and a Conservation Area. Being close to the River Wensum and some water-meadows, it is wilder the Bluebell Allotments. Chris Keene has written a short piece about the birds there (and Jim has added some snaps)

Marlpit Birds

Magpies-P1000111Autumn is the time of year when flocks of tits, often accompanied by chaffinches and goldcrests, can be seen in the hedgerows around the Community Garden.  Tits flock together in autumn and winter, which helps them avoid predators, as many pairs of eyes and ears are better than one; they also benefit in hunting their prey of small insects and spiders as birds catch food disturbed by their neighbours. read-more

Chris Keene


Halloween at MCG

two-pumpkinsWe are hoping to organise some activities for children at Marlpit Community Garden for Halloween, Saturday 31st October. Plans have yet to be finalised, so look out for information on the blog.

Birds of Marlpit Community Garden October 2015

Autumn is the time of year when flocks of tits, often accompanied by chaffinches and goldcrests, can be seen in the hedgerows around the Community Garden.  Tits flock together in autumn and winter, which helps them avoid predators, as many pairs of eyes and ears are better than one; they also benefit in hunting their prey of small insects and spiders as birds catch food disturbed by their neighbours.  Goldcrests are the smallest British bird, and are usually detected by hearing their calls and songs before they are seen, though these are so high in pitch that many older people cannot hear them.

Also to be found in the hedgerows in autumn and winter are redwings, which feed on berries; we heard them yesterday as we tended the Forest Garden.  These thrushes nest in Scandinavia and Iceland and spend their winters here.  I have yet to see another member of the thrush family which visits us in winter, the fieldfare, but I expect them to arrive soon, so watch out for them.

Flocks of finches, such as greenfinches and linnets, can sometimes be found feeding on the weed seeds around (and sometimes in!) the allotments, whilst bullfinches can occasionally be heard calling in the hedgerows.

Falco tinnunculus, Common Kestrel

Common Kestrel, Falco tinnunculus, at MCG (photo by Jim)

We once saw a kestrel hovering over the Forest Garden.  These small birds of prey eat small rodents such as mice and voles, and the long grass provides them with plenty of food.  Another bird which feeds on the same prey is the barn owl, and although I haven’t seen one of these on the site, they may well appear as I have often seen them further along the Marriot’s Way cycle track towards Drayton.

Herons sometimes fly over the Community Garden making their way towards their fishing grounds on the River Wensum nearby, though I have yet to see a little egret there.  However I have seen one a few hundred yards further towards Norwich, feeding in a ditch in the grazing marsh between the chemical factory and the River Wensum, so if you are lucky you might spot one.  These small white herons were very rare in Britain until about 15 years ago, since when they have become increasingly common.  They are normally found in southern Europe and our milder winters caused by climate change are probably responsible for their spread northwards.


A family of Magpies, Pica pica, at MCG (photo by Jim)

Woodpigeons are very frequently seen here, and they will eat plants such as cabbages unless you net them for protection.  Piles of grey and white feathers are evidence that they have been caught by predators, possibly the cats which live on the Marlpit estate nearby and frequently hunt in the Community Garden, or possibly by foxes which are also found there; we recently saw one in broad daylight near the eastern boundary.


Male Pheasants, Phasianus colchicus, at MCG (photo by Jim)

Members of the crow family are commonly seen, with jays burying acorns at this time of year and magpies looking for food along the hedgerows.  Jackdaws and carrion crows often fly over.  I have yet to see any rooks, but keep your eyes open because I have often seen them feeding in the fields further along the Marriot’s Way.

Pheasants are often to be found; we saw two hen pheasants yesterday near the horses’ field and I have had some beautiful views of male pheasants here.

The wildlife friendly gardening methods, avoiding chemicals such as slug pellets, have led to a thriving community of birds living in and visiting the Community Garden; please report any of your own sightings to us by emailing

Chris Keene

Growing Information for October

General Tasks

Clear all plots without any outstanding crops and prepare the soil for overwintering crops.
Draw up soil around brassica (kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli) plants to provide support to the plant; mulch around the plant base using compost or dried materials.
Cover all brassicas and spinach plants with suitable netting (to protect from wood-pigeons)
Cover empty plot (plot without any overwintering crop) with layers of cardboard or black polythene sheet (not carpet).


Garlic, onion-sets, broadbean.


French Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Carrots, Courgettes, Cucumber, Lettuce, Marrow, Radish, Rocket, Chard, Potato, Sweetcorn, Swisschard, Turnips, Kale.
Fruit – Raspberries.


Open Day 2015

GO2 Bluebell had a great Open Day on Sunday 4 October with lots of visitors and many new growers signing up. The weather was superb and the food excellent. We took over £100 in donations towards food and about £50 in money from selling jam and chutney. Many thanks to those who helped out with renewals in the shed, those who provided food, and those who helped generally. In eight years of open days, I would say it was the best.

... for tasting fresh juice of apple and pears

Tasting fresh juice of apple and pears

In addition some people helped with pressing apples and pears and those who sampled the juice must surely agree that it was delicious. Click here to see some FaceBook photos.

New members

Welcome to several new members to GO2: Tonia, David, Lucy and three children, Jenny H, Jeremy, Olivia, Natasha and her daughter, four members from Together UK with Sandra and Tammy as Peer Support Workers, Gavin, Jacqueline, Laraine, Maria, Philip, and William. We have recently returned two whole plots to the Council so we are now concentrated on 14 plots and we number about 90 growers at Bluebell.

GO2 is like John Lewis – it is owned by its members, so we hope to see as many people as possible, and new people in particular, on 1 November at Bluebell for the tool check from 10 – 12 noon and then for a few short introductions by team leaders of compost, seeds and plants, training and skill-sharing, land and water and food teams. The team leader of the team you put as your preferred choice on your form will be in touch. After all that, it’s Food-sharing Lunch so bring something to share for lunch. We still meet even if it rains!


NB: the training sessions at Marlpit Community Garden have already been arranged for 2016 so look out for the publicity. In addition Sophie will be arranging Skills-sharing sessions at Bluebell.

Membership cards

Everyone will now have a membership card and if you haven’t got yours, please ask when you’re next in the Bluebell Big Shed on Wednesday or Sunday mornings from 10 – 1 pm.


Please make sure and read the newsletter which is now going out fortnightly and will be for all SLI Members, including GO2 Bluebell and GO2 Marlpit. It will have announcements, events, calls to arms (tools!), and what seeds are available for planting out.

Shed closure for the winter

Please note that the Bluebell Big Shed will not be officially open from 15 November to 21 February although anyone who fancies can go there and open up. We’ll probably have a Food-sharing Lunch on the first Sunday in December, and possibly January too. These events will be in the newsletter so be sure and read your newsletter.


sweet potato oct2015A first for GO2

– a misshapen but very tasty sweet potato grown in the polytunnel at Bluebell.

We hope to have cuttings for sowing next year.

Bluebell GO2 Skills-sharing session, Sunday 18th October 2015, 11 to 12am

conundrumOur skill-sharing sessions are informal and friendly meetings where we exchange tips and advice. This time we’ll talk about what to plant this autumn and how to prepare the ground for next season. It will also be an opportunity to review our successes and failures of this summer, taking good note of them for next year.
Tea and cakes provided!calendars-page
You can’t make this date? Don’t worry, come to our shared lunch on Sunday 1st November. Many people will be there, able to answer your questions.


Winter planting

Now is the time to plant overwintering crops  - any uncultivated areas can be sown with green manure, which might be part of your crop rotation plan).At Marlpit garlic, onions and broad beans are available in the container along with sowing information. At GO2, Bluebell South, garlic, onions and broad beans are available in the Big Green Shed at the back with sowing information. and the Planting Manual. Click here for more information on our website about planting. We have three types of green manure this year, packets are on the plastic hanger at the back of the Shed – ask if in doubt.