Important message for SLI Bluebell growers.

05-courgettes 13-runner-bean

Courgettes, Beans and Squash plants are hardening off behind the greenhouse, and will be ready for planting-out on your plot at the end of the week. Please plant according to guidelines, so that the plants have enough space and so there will be enough for all.


Water supply at GO2 Bluebell South

Some of the water tanks around the site (the ones which do not have a tap on them) are filled from the very large black drums behind the big green shed.
If the drums are not kept topped up, the smaller ones do not automatically refill.
tap_at_water_tankIt would help to maintain a constant supply of water in the tanks, if, when you pass the tap by the rockery on the right of the car park, you check our hosepipe is connected and switched on, as shown in the photo.
If someone else is using the tap, check later to make sure ours is connected and the tanks are being refilled. You can leave the tap switched on when you leave the site as it shuts off automatically when the tanks are full.

Thank you.

Plants for Marlpit growers to use

A lot of plants are now available; please come and see us on Tuesday from 10 to 3, or look out for plants left outside the greenhouse. Please do not take plants from inside the greenhouse without asking us.
Last chance to sow potatoes! We still have a lot of potato seed available – both early as well as main crop, but time is running out. If you need more space to grow potatoes, please let me know, I will find an extra plot free of charge.


Shorn at Maaaarlpit

The spectators who gathered at Marlpit Cobeforemmunity Garden on the evening of 13th May were huddled in warm coats to watch Angelica, Audrey and Urban be shorn of their woolly winter coats.
Jason Shorten arrived in his truck and within minutes had set up his equipment.

First to come under the electric clippers was Angelica, closely watched by Audrey and Urban.

For Angelica and Audrey this was their first experience of being shorn. Jason quickly caught the sheep and held them still while he clipped them.What are you doing to Angelica
It was fascinating to watch the skill with which Jason undertook the task, carefully clipping away the wool without harming the sheep or damaging the fleece.

Each sheep took about seven minutes to clip.

Finally three bemused looking sheep were shut in their warm shed for the night, leaving three bags of variously coloured wool.
Three bags fullsheep shearing at Marlpitsheep dogsshearing the headDSC03087catching AngelicaAngelica with audienceAfter shearing

Sustainable Living Initiative (SLI),

Annual Members’ Meeting

Sunday 3RD July 2016

at 11:30 am followed by lunch at 1pm

All GO2 Bluebell and Marlpit Community Garden members, Grow-at-Home members and regular volunteers and ordinary members of SLI are invited to attend the meeting at the Marlpit Community Centre, Hellesdon Road, NR6 5EG

Lunch will be provided, so it is important you let us know if you are staying for lunch.

Click here to read about last year’s meeting.

Training at Marlpit – 21st May 2016

A very informative morning with Jon Darby who had lots of hints and tips for growing vegetables from seed.
The main topWP_20160521_12_24_09_Proics covered were

Types of seed
Seed sowing
Pricking out
Hardening off
Final destination for plants
Sowing seed directly into the ground
Modular sowing

Other topics covered were,

F1 Hybrid seeds,
Where to obtain good seeds.
Types of pre-prepared seeds, i.e. cells, strips, foil packets.
Soil temperature.

WP_20160521_12_24_18_ProThe group then worked on a roughly dug strip – digging-over, treading-down and raking. Then we prepared drills for carrots spinach and wide drills for peas.
Mahesh gave a demonstration planting courgettes – he also reiterated the importance of after-care of plants, watering and checking at least every two days.
A discussion regarding SLUGS and pest control in an organic environment ensued, a new nematode called Nemaslug is available. Other ideas were discussed with most of the group agreeing that quite a few don’t work!! Jon did warn that because of the mild winters there are lots of slugs about and said if you look in the ground lots of eggs can be found. They look like white opaque little balls and should be squished (a popular word during the slug discussion).
After we had finished we had a very nice lunch provided by Amy.
Thank you to Jon and Mahesh for organizing the morning.


Newsletter Number 16 – 13th May 2016

Upcoming events

Saturday 21st May 2016 Learning at Marlpit Community Garden (morning and afternoon)
Friday 27th May 2016 at 10am to 4pm Volunteers Day at Marlpit Community Garden
Half Term Activity at Marlpit CG – “It’s all about bees” Saturday 4th June 2-4pm
Saturday 25th June 2016 at 10am to 5pm Open Day at MCG
Sunday 3rd July 2016 at 11:30 am Annual Members’ Meeting followed by lunch at 1pm

Recent events

Saturday 7th May Jam at Marlpit Community Centre
May Day Nature in the Garden at Grapes Hill Community Garden
Tuesday 26th April Mustard Interviews at MCG
Sunday 24th April Skill Sharing at Bluebell


21st May – Learn about gardening at Marlpit Community Garden

Morning session 10am to 1pm – Growing vegetables and herbs from seed with Jon and Mahesh.
Afternoon session with Alex – 1 to 4pm SPRING FLOWERS, LEAVES and BARK: Hawthorn leaves and flowers, limeflowers, birch, harvesting cramp bark and willow bark.

Click below to book this month’s training.Training at MCG - May 2016


 Existing colonies

We went into the winter at Marlpit Community Garden with two thriving colonies of bees in our apiary. The third colony had a virus disease, chronic bee paralysis, and sadly didn’t survive the winter.
On 4th May it was warm enough to open up our two remaining hives for the first inspection of the year. The mild winter meant the queens continued laying right through, and the cold April kept the flying bees indoors on most days and delayed the inspection.
Both colonies are doing well. I found thousands of worker bees, some drones, and evidence the queens had been busy, in the form of brood – eggs, uncapped brood (larvae) and capped brood(pupae).
I also found queen cups and queen cells in both hives. This was a sign that the bees were preparing to swarm and urgent action was needed if the queen and half the bees were not to leave in search of a new home.
Over the next two days I performed an “artificial swarm” on both hives. This is a method of separating the queen and flying bees from most of the house bees and brood and at least one queen cell. Then, if all goes well, the old queen will continue to lay in one hive, while in a new hive the workers will raise a new queen, she will go on a mating flight and on her return start laying and establish a new colony.
If this is successful, we will end up with four colonies of bees instead of two.

Badevci Hive

Five days later I received a call from John Everett of Apple Bee Apiary and Orchard that the “nuc” of bees we had ordered for the hive donated by the Heary family were ready. I collected them on Tuesday 10th May and set up their box on site, ready to introduce them to their new home once they settled down.


New Colony

Bees moving_inOn Wednesday I introduced the bees to the Badevci Hive by transferring the frames from the nuc box to their
new home with the bees still on the comb. Within minutes they started to emerge from the doorway and orientate themselves to their new position.
Some of them seemed confused because this hive was on legs so I gave them some bricks to climb up to help them to find the way home.
Bees - moving_in_close-up


Water supply at GO2 Bluebell South

GO2_WATER_SYSTEMTo allotment holders at Bluebell.

 We ran out of water over the weekend as no one checked that the tanks were being refilled, and since last year you may have forgotten about filling of the tanks. Here’s a reminder – click the picture.

Tessa – Bluebell Seeds Team

It’s growing fast.

Tall weeds

Allotmenteers who haven’t attended their strips over the last fortnight will see the need to cut grass and invasive weeds now making seed heads. Please cut or pull the weeds before seed matures.

Mark –
Land and water team at Bluebell

Potato Printing on May Day

SLI stall at Grapes Hill Community GardenSunshine and the display of hawks and owls drew the crowds to the celebrating nature event at Grapes Hill Community Garden on 1st May.potato prints
After admiring the birds, many of the younger visitors tried their hands at potato printing at the SLI stall. Our display of photos and information about Marlpit Community Garden and GO2 at Bluebell also attracted a lot of interest.potato printing (1)look at that! (1)concentrationcarving potatoes

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Marlpit on Mustard

Mustard-videoOn a cold, wet day, Tuesday, 26th April, a team of three from Mustard TV turned up with their cameras at Marlpit Community Garden. Our regular group of Tuesday volunteers was somewhat depleted because of the weather, but Stephen ‘Fozz’ Foster interviewed a few of us and put together a short cheerful piece showing different aspects of the project. It was shown on Mustard TV on Thursday, 28th April.

Click on the picture to see the programme.

Rhubarb Jam Saturday 7th May 2016

On a sunny Saturday morning, 6 people set out to make rhubarb jam. This is what they did and what you can do, too!

Rhubarb jam recipe:
You need
Rhubarb ( obviously)
½ Lemon
sterilised jars
(optional: add ginger)


-Mix 1:1 Rhubarb & sugar and leave overnight in a container (maybe even in your saucepan already). Next day, you will see that out of nowhere (=the rhubarb) a lot of water has appeard in your container. This is the only liquid you use in the jam-making process.

Jam making:
-In a saucepan, heat the watery rhubarb/sugar mixture.
-Keep stirring to avoid the sugar going to the bottom and burning.
-No phones, No answering the door, while making jam!!
-stir until the mixture thickens and bubbles like a magic potion, has changed colour (reddish) and has passed the “old man’s test”.

Old man’s test:
In order to see whether the setting point has been reached you can either use a thermometer – it is set when the temperature is about 104°C OR do the old man’s test!

If you suspect your jam has the characteristics described above, put a spoonful of the jam onto a clean plate. Let it sit a bit and then use your finger to “scrape” through the jam ( see picture). Should the jam make little wrinkles (like an old man has) in front of your finger, it is ready to be filled into jars. Should it part smoothly in front of your finger, when going through, you have to keep stirring and wait for a bit longer.
-The test can be repeated several times
-Don’t waste the trial jam – you can lick it off the plate while stirring (:

We made two batches of rhubarb jam. One is pure rhubarb, and the other one contains sweet sugared ginger bits. If you add this kind of ginger, you could use a bit less sugar.
Whatever quantity of rhubarb jam you make, add the ginger depending on your taste. The amounts vary a lot in different online recipes. You can reduce the sugar accordingly.
Alternatively, you can also use a big ginger root, peel it and scratch the surface. Then wrap it into a muslin cloth and add into the jam. Take it out once you fill the jam into the jars.

Followed by this jam making, we had delicious lunch prepared for us by Mahesh, with a delicious crumble made by Amy for dessert.


A Timely Intervention

A delivery of Chainsaw Chipping’s, tree ‘limbs’ and assorted material were being tipped on GO2 Bluebell’s disability parking area. It was lucky I was on site with Christine to stop the tip. The driver surprised by my intervention said it was a requested delivery by a GO2 member. He was unable to give a name nor a description. Returning to the shed we noted an entry in the day book re the delivery.

Bye the bye…..

Allotmenteers of Bluebell who wish to use wood chipping need to resource from known sources clean from pests and diseases. Be available to take delivery and transport to their strip/s
Keep the good practice of noting deliveries in the day book. Identify firm or company delivering.
And please be there to take delivery. What was being delivered looked like a garden clear.

Section 11 of NNC Allotment Rules specify what is not to be brought onto allotments.
Wood chip is not as yet included.

Mark Newman
Land and Water

Hello Members,

We have a lot of surplus rhubarb which we need to cook.
Mahesh will be cooking rhubarb jam at Marlpit Community Centre on Saturday 7th May between 10 and 1 pm. If you can help or would like to learn how to make jam then come along but places are limited so please book your place by phoning me on 01603 440444 or e-mail
Happy gardening,

Moira (Food team)


Skillshare Sunday

On Sunday 24th April 2016 Sophie ran a skillshare session on Soils, Soil Prep and Manure, with a guest appearance from Composting Phil. Hail and the lure of cake and tea increased attendance to a total of six lucky, cake-filled individuals in our GO2 shed in Bluebell site.

Sophie talked about soil preparation, talking about soil structure and properties here at the Bluebell site.

 Click here to read a full report…

Bluebell skillshare 1 240416 Bluebell skillshare 2 240416 Bluebell skillshare 3 240416 Bluebell-skillshare-4-240416
Natasha’s plot … Phil’s plot … Vicky’s plot … Demo plot …

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Birds of Marlpit Community Garden May 2016

A heron has been feeding in the lake at the bottom of the site, which is somewhat surprising as it is not connected to the river. It caught several fish, though it wasn’t possible to identify them, but they were larger than sticklebacks

A plasterer’s “hawk” and a pruning “handsaw”.

Herons can often be seen flying over the area, and are increasing in Britain due to the series of mild winters we have had lately.
The old Norfolk name for a heron was ‘harnser’, and this is the source of the line in Shakespeare’s Hamlet “When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw” – handsaw should have been written as harnser. The hawk in question was the goshawk, a favourite falconer’s bird which was often used to catch herons.*
A pair of goldfinches have been seen near the entrance to the community garden, and it is likely they are nesting nearby. They nest in small trees or tall bushes and the hedges around the edge of the garden provide good nesting opportunities, whilst there are plenty of wild plants to provide food in the form of seeds.

Read more on the web

Chris Keene

Pheasant family

A female pheasant flew up under my feet when I was raking back the undergrowth on 3rd May. Startled, I jumped back, and then checked among the long grass and stinging nettles.

pheasant_s_eggsThis is what I found …

I counted 12 eggs, then carefully raked back the undergrowth.

pheasant_maleHere are photos of adult pheasants taken at Marlpit Community Garden earlier this year.



leatherjacket-285x300I have some Nemasys Leatherjacket Killer sent to me in error, which I don’t need, and would love to give to anyone who has a problem with them in their lawn.