All our training sessions are designed to be practical help for successful growing and this review by Anne-Marie was a delight to receive, so thank you Anne-Marie.

Growing Vegetables Organically –
A free training event at Marlpit Community Garden

Before the event, Mahesh emailed several useful charts of planting guides and crop rotations.
On the day we gathered around the table, with coffee, tea, cake and flapjack, and Jon and Mahesh opened the session with a discussion of seeds and sowing methods. Jon had some humorous advice about the practicalities of using seed tapes and fluid sowing. The informal nature of the session meant that the discussion could respond to the interests and queries of those attending, so it was great for getting advice about a particular problem be that to do with seeds, sowing, mulching, earthing up or whatever.
The practical sessions consisted of a weed identification walk, plenty of those, and we noted the difference between creeping buttercup and meadow buttercup. Then Jon led a seedbed preparation workshop, demonstrating the use of different hoes and how to use a rake effectively to level the bed and draw off stones. We learned how to make a drill line using string and sticks and how to create drills of different sizes for different seeds. A revelation to me was the rose on Jon’s watering can that produced a fine linear spray pattern, ideal for watering the drill, rather than the usual ‘showerhead’ spray pattern. Finally, we had experience at pricking out some modular grown seedlings, learning about safe handing to protect the plants and their roots.
Jon and Mahesh were very knowledgeable and genial hosts. It was a valuable experience for me as a beginner as well as for much more experienced growers.
Anne-Marie Steward (New member GO2)

Homemade Jam

Plenty of delicious jams available to buy for just £2.50 a jar.
Plum, mixed fruit, rhubarb and gooseberry to name a few!
Speak to Hannah or Mahesh

Half Term Bee Activity – Cancelled

Unfortunately, we have had to cancel our half term bee-keeping activity as Tish, our wonderful bee-keeper, is unwell. I’m sure we’d all like to wish Tish well, and for a speedy recovery.

Students from UEA visiting – all members welcome!


Lunch will be provided.

A group of UEA students will be spending the day with us to help manage the garden and learn about what we do, we will then all enjoy a home cooked lunch.

All SLI members are welcome to join but please, let us know if you will be attending for catering purposes!

Midsummer Celebration!

Everyone is welcome to our annual midsummer evening picnic

Wednesday 20th June from 6pm at GO2 Bluebell.

Bring food and drink for yourself or to share. Family and friends welcome. And keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Shed Painting

Many congratulations to everyone who helped with shed painting on May 6th. It was wonderful to see so many people participating, we got a huge amount done, and the sheds looks so much better in their new paint!

Painting the Green Shed – SLI Volunteers 

before and after


Please could everyone bear in mind that individual plot holders are responsible for cutting the grass around their plots. Some are looking very wild at the moment! It is to your benefit to keep it short – slugs and snails will happily take up residence in long grass and then come out to eat your crops, but they don’t like short grass half so much.

Planting and Sowing for Summer

The Bluebell greenhouse is bursting at the seams, full of little plants waiting to go in the ground once any danger of frost has passed. This week the courgette, sweet corn and runner bean plants will be put into the covered stand to be hardened off. If it stays mild they’ll be ready for planting in the last week of May. These are greedy plants so give them plenty of space, add compost or manure to the planting hole, and water well once you’ve planted. Squash, cucumber, purple sprouting broccoli and Brussels sprout plants will also be ready soon.

It’s not too late to plant potatoes. There are Orla (earlies) and Lady Balfour (main crop) ready in the big shed. And there’s plenty still to sow. Beetroot, carrots, turnips, spinach, Swiss Chard, French and runner beans, lettuce, radish and spring onions, if sown now, will all give a crop later in the summer.
– Bridget

SLI April Newsletter

First of all, a big welcome to all our new members!

Don’t miss next week’s workshops on:
Scything – Tuesday 24th – 10am-2pm (Marlpit)
Shitake Mushroom Growing – Thursday 26th – 10am-1pm (Marlpit)


I’m sure most of you will be aware that Marlpit suffered a break-in over the Easter weekend leaving us without power tools and much of the equipment we need. After speaking to local businesses, and raising awareness through social media, we have received approximately £300 through donations which will help us replace some of what was taken.
For more info, see the article written by the EDP

Vacant Plots
We still have many vacant plots at Marlpit so if you know of anyone who would like to get involved then please put them in touch with Mahesh or Hannah.
Jam and Honey
We have now sold the final jar of delicious honey from last year but there are still plenty of jams available to buy for just £2.50 a jar.
Speak to Hannah or Mahesh
Training: Growing Vegetables Organically
with Jon Darby and Mahesh Pant


FREE for all SLI members with refreshments provided.

Learn about:
– Growing vegetables from seed
– Plant family and crop rotation
– Types of Seed
– Seed sowing techniques
– Seed sowing in modules
– Indoor sowing
– Sowing Seed Directly in the Ground
– Looking after plants: watering, mulching and plant protection
– Seed saving



Shed Painting
One of the tasks for a volunteering Sunday this year is to paint the big
shed, toilet shed and blue shed. However, this needs dry weather so it’s hard to predict when we’ll do this. Please take a look at the weather forecast if you’re coming to a volunteering Sunday from now on, and if dry, wear clothes you don’t mind getting paint splashes on! Extra paint brushes and trays would also come in handy, so please bring these if you have them available. We’ll be using a non-toxic water based paint so it should wash out of brushes.
Vacant plots at Bluebell
There are a couple of plots remaining from last year which are somewhat overgrown so are now available at half price (£10) for the rest of the year. The area down from the greenhouse (which used to be communal soft fruit) has also been marked out for normal plots. However, these plots are in a rather poor condition – very overgrown, in dire need of a *lot* of compost, uneven paths around them. They are therefore available free of charge this year for any member who wishes to tackle the work required to bring them into condition.
Please speak to Gillian or Christine if you’re interested.

Spring at last?
At last, fingers crossed, spring seem to have arrived, and there is plenty to go into the soil as it warms. If you haven’t done so already, clear the ground of weeds and rake in a layer of compost. There’s a heap alongside the path near to the Red shed. Broad beans, carrots, turnips, beetroot, parsnip, spinach, spring onions and peas of all kinds can be sown now. Seeds for these are in jars and small packets at the back of the big shed.

There are early potatoes, also in the shed, ready to go in the ground. You could even risk sowing a few dwarf French beans. However, for both potatoes and beans, once they show above the ground, be prepared to cover with fleece or similar if overnight frost is forecast.

There will be a few lettuce plants ready soon, with more to come in the next couple of weeks. Outside the greenhouse, there are strawberry plants ready for planting. These should produce fruit this year.
– Bridget

Annual Report
SLI’s Annual Report for 2016-17 has now been published.

It’s lovely to look back on all that has been achieved at both Bluebell and Marlpit and it allows us to see just how much we have grown.

Click the picture on the left to read.


General Volunteering – Every Tues. (10am-2pm) – Marlpit
Forest Gardening – Every Thurs. (10am-1pm) – Marlpit
Workshop: Scything – Tues. 24th (10am-2pm) – Marlpit
Workshop: Shitake Mushroom Growing – Thurs. 26th (10am-1pm) – Marlpit

General Volunteering – Every Tues. (10am-2pm) – Marlpit
Forest Gardening – Every Thurs. (10am-1pm) – Marlpit
Volunteer Day and Food-share – Sun. 6th (10am-1pm) – Bluebell
Training: Growing Veg Organically – Sat. 12th (10am-1pm) – Marlpit
– Note change of date from previous newsletter

General Volunteering – Every Tues. (10am-2pm) – Marlpit
Forest Gardening – Every Thurs. (10am-1pm) – Marlpit
Volunteer Day and Food-share – Sun. 1st (10am-1pm) – Bluebell
Training: Rhubarb Jam Making – Sat. 16th (from 10am) – Marlpit Community Centre
Open Day: MCG Open Day – Sat. 23rd (11am-4pm) – Marlpit


June Newsletter

with notices, and information about forthcoming events. For information about what to grow, when and how, please click here.

If you have a plot in Grow-Our-Own (GO2) Bluebell and would like to know what seeds and plants are available, please read the message from the GO2 Bluebell Seed and Plant team below. As this Newsletter comes only once a month, you will find the latest information and updates on the noticeboard on site.

If you are a Grow-at-Home member or have a plot in Marlpit Community Garden (MCC), please come and see us on Tuesdays from 10 am until 3pm.  Marlpit Community Garden also has a regular volunteering session on every Tuesday from 10 am to 1 pm, followed by home-cooked lunch. All welcome!

Forthcoming events

Saturday 24th June, 12 to 4 pm, Marlpit Community Garden Open Day, at Marlpit Community Garden.
Our own honey and home-made gooseberry jam, summer fruit and plants for sale,  a tour of the forest garden and bee-hive viewing,  are some of the attractions.
Look forward to seeing you all tomorrow.

Sunday  02nd  July,  10 am to 1 pm,  General maintenance tasks  and food-sharing lunch, at GO2  Bluebell South Allotments.
Thanks to all those who helped with improving the path leading to small picnic area. We would like more people to join this time as well.

Saturday 15th July, 10 am to 1 pm, Practical Gardening Training on pests and diseases, by Jon Darby and Mahesh Pant at Marlpit Community Garden, followed by lunch at the Marlpit Community Centre at 1 pm.
This is a must for all organic growers and it is free for all our members. Please let Mahesh know (   if you would like to attend the training.

Saturday 15th July, 1 pm to 4:30 pm,  Food Production, Forest Garden Workshop by Aaron Wheaton at Marlpit Community Garden.
This workshop will start with lunch at the Marlpit Community Centre  followed by the workshop.  Topics for discussion include:

  • forest gardening as a sustainable food production system.
  • growing more edible perennials.
  • producing food within a self-contained low energy input system.
  • Tips and advice on plants that have more uses than you might think for you to use on your own plots.

Please let Mahesh know (   if you would like to attend the workshop. It is free for all our members.


Seeds and plants Team at GO2 Bluebell
There is still time in June to sow seeds for a crop later in the year.  Beetroot, carrots, dwarf French beans, lettuce, Swiss chard and perpetual spinach seeds are all available in the big shed.   Water the ground before and after you sow and, when they emerge, keep the seedlings well watered.

When clearing broad bean plants, cut the stems to ground level so that the roots are left behind.  The tiny nodules on the roots will add nitrogen to the soil.   It’ll leave the ground a bit rough but, with the addition of compost, it’s an ideal place for planting kohl rabi, kale, purple sprouting broccoli or Brussel sprouts.  These are a limited number of these on the table alongside the greenhouse.  Later, in July, there will be fennel, pak choi and more salad plants.

Bridget for Seeds and Plants team

May Newsletter

with notices, and information about forthcoming events. For information about what to grow, when and how, please visit members’ page or contact us at

If you have a plot in Grow-Our-Own (GO2) Bluebell and would like to know what seeds and plants are available, please read the message from the GO2 Bluebell Seed and Plant team below. As this Newsletter comes only once a month, you will find the latest information and updates on the noticeboard on site.

If you are a Grow-at-Home member or have a plot in Marlpit Community Garden (MCC), please come and see us on Tuesdays from 10 am until 3 pm.  Marlpit Community Garden also has a regular volunteering session on every Tuesday from 10 am to 1 pm, followed by home-cooked lunch. All welcome!

Forthcoming events
Sunday 04 June,  10 am to 1 pm:  Central path improvement and food-sharing lunch, at GO2  Bluebell South Allotments.
Thanks to all those who helped with weeding and clearing various strips by the greenhouse on  first  Sunday in May. It was a very good turnout!

This time, we are hoping to improve the central path.  Also the grass is growing fast now and about to sends its seeds everywhere, so we all need to clear our paths.

Saturday 17th June, 10 am to 1 pm, Cooking using seasonal produce, at Marlpit Community Centre.
Please let Mahesh know (   if you would like to cook or learn how to cook.

Saturday 24th June, 12 to 4 pm, Marlpit Community Garden Open Day, at Marlpit Community Garden.
Please let Mahesh know ( if you are able to make cakes, organise activities and help with general tasks on the day.

Admin Team at GO2 Bluebell
Rita will be arranging the next rota. If you’d like to help by spending a Wednesday or Sunday morning, please let us know:   It is a nice thing to do as you get to meet people and find out what’s going on.

Water, water everywhere?? Not always. It’s very important for everyone that the hose is connected to the tap by the carpark and that the tap is on. Sunday the week before, some tanks were nearly empty and not filling. This was because the big tank behind the shed was not sufficiently full and so it wasn’t feeding through to the smaller tanks. If the dry weather continues we will all be using more water. When you arrive/leave, please check that the hose is attached and the tap is on, provided that another plot holder isn’t using it of course! Valves in the large tank will stop the flow when it’s full. There are instructions for the watering system on the small tanks and in the shed.
Christine, Admin team Leader

Seeds and plants Team at GO2 Bluebell
The very end of May and beginning of June bring the promise of frost free nights and so the time to plant the tender crops that have been sheltering in the GO2greenhouse.  If it stays mild, the first few courgettes and beans will go out onto the tables beside the greenhouse over the bank holiday weekend.  There will be many more to come during June, so there’s no hurry.  We’ll add butternut squash, sweetcorn, climbing French and Borlotti beans, leek and salad plants as they become ready.

Courgette and squash plants grow large so give them plenty of room to grow.  They are also hungry plants so add a good spadeful of muck or compost to the planting hole, and water in well.

Runner beans, Borlotti and climbing French beans are grown vertically, so take up less space.  A mixture of plants grown on a wigwam of poles will give colourful display, and a variety of tasty beans, over a long period.

If you’re not sure how far apart or how deep to plant, look at the grower guides displayed in the big shed.
Bridget for Seeds and Plants team

Finally, do you want to be able to use a petrol strimmer? If so, training will be available on Sunday 4thof June between 11:30 and 1 pm at GO2 Bluebell South Allotments (subject to enough people signing up). Please let Mahesh know (  if you are interested.

April News

 Dear SLI Members
This is your April Newsletter with notices, and information about forthcoming events. For information about what to grow, when and how, look here on the website or contact us at
If you have a plot in Grow-Our-Own (GO2) Bluebell and would like to know what seeds and plants are available, please read the message from the GO2 Bluebell Seed and Plant team below. As this Newsletter comes only once a month, you will find the  latest information and updates on the noticeboard on site.
If you are a Grow-at-Home member or have a plot in Marlpit Community Garden (MCC), please come and see us on Tuesdays from 10 am until 2 pm.  Marlpit Community Garden also has a regular volunteering session on every Tuesday from 10 am to 1 pm, followed by home-cooked lunch. All welcome!

SLI Evaluation Findings
Thank you so much for your views and ideas about SLI. What a positive response! The evaluation report can be found at
Some of your suggestions have begun to be implemented – particularly the ones that don’t need immediate additional funding.   For example

  • A monthly volunteering morning has been re-introduced at Bluebell
  • There is a permanent notice board at Bluebell
  • The email newsletter has returned
  • Information about the project went out in “The Citizen” and new leaflets have been designed.
  • There are training sessions for all members at Marlpit Community Centre on the 3rd Saturday of the month.
  • Plans for improved signage are underway.

If you have particular comments to make about the evaluation findings and/or ideas about tackling the “Challenges for the Future” of SLI please contact Mahesh or one of the trustees.
Roberta Manners

Forthcoming events
Sunday 7th May:  Maintenance and food-sharing lunch at GO2Bluebell
Volunteering morning helping with general maintenance around the site. We look forward to seeing as many people as possible. There will be refreshments at 11 and the food-sharing lunch will take place at 1 pm. If you intend staying for lunch, and we hope you will, please bring a dish to share. You can use some produce from your plot if you have any, or cook up some beans or grains, or make a salad or dessert. All contributions are welcome and if you’ve been coming for some time, you’ll know what culinary surprises can turn up! If you don’t know what to bring, good bread is nice. You can ask us for some ideas as there are plenty of things that are inexpensive and easy! See you then!
Christine Wilson

Saturday 20th May: Growing Vegetables Organically at Marlpit Community Garden, 10 am. – 1 pm.
Whether you are a novice grower or a grower with some experience, this session is a must. The session will cover topics like plant family, crop rotation, growing from seed, looking after you plants and seed-saving techniques.  This session will be jointly run by Jon Darby (horticulture lecturer) and Mahesh Pant.

Saturday 20th May:  Herbal Medicine Workshop at Marlpit Community Garden, 1 – 4:30 pm.
Dan Wheals, Medical Herbalist will run a herbal medicine workshop which will talk about herb growing tips and cultivating culinary herbs, making herbal remedies and take-home creams.

Both sessions are free to all SLI members; please book to reserve your place by sending an e-mail to:

Admin Team at GO2 Bluebell
Welcome to several new members, the youngest being five weeks old! We still have a few plots if you have any friends who are interested.

Seeds and plants Team at GO2 Bluebell
The first salad plants – lettuce, mibuna, mizuna and red mustard frills – will be available for growers from Sunday 23rd April.  They will be on the open table alongside the greenhouse.  Take just a few plants; there will be more to come in the weeks ahead.
There are Lady Balfour potatoes to plant and plenty of seeds to sow now.  Small packets of radish, turnip, beetroot, spinach, carrot, spring onion and parsnip seeds are on the table at the back of the shed.
If you’re unsure about how to sow or plant ask whoever is on duty in the shed.  Or look at the growing guides available for each crop.  These are displayed in the window of the shed, or on the table at the back.
Bridget, for Seed and Plant team

Composting Team at GO2 Bluebell
Thanks to all who came and helped with the composting on 2nd April. This has opened up two compost heaps which have been labelled, so if your soil level is low, you can add to it.
Phil Young

Main picnic area – with planting-bathtubs.

WWW – wildlife welcomes weeds

Compost ready to be used – in the main composting area

Compost ready to be used – near the “crossroads”

Active compost heap near the Red Sheds


A small picnic area near the Red Sheds

Dear SLI Members

From now on, we will be posting important notices and information about our events once a month. For information about what to grow, when and how, please visit members’ page on our website or contact us at

If you have a plot in Grow-Our-Own (GO2) Bluebell and would like to know what seeds and plants are available, please visit the site on Sunday and Wednesday mornings (from 10 am to 1 pm).

If you are a Grow-at-Home member or have a plot in Marlpit Community Garden (MCC), please come and see us on Tuesdays from 10 am until 2 pm.

Forthcoming events

Sunday 2 April: Composting and food-sharing lunch at GO2 Bluebell
You may have noticed that the various composting areas need some TLC. With this in mind, I’ll be around from 10 in the morning of our next food-sharing day, Sunday 2 April, and I’d be grateful to anyone who could spare me a couple of hours of their time. The more the merrier and hopefully we can get things sorted in one go.
Look forward to seeing you!

Phil Young (the composting team),

Saturday 15 April: Making rhubarb jam and Cooking with beans and lentils at Marlpit Community Centre, 10 –1 pm.
The session is free to all SLI members; a donation of £10 is required for non-members. Booking essential.
Contact Mahesh at: ; Tel: 01603 920570


GO2 Bluebell Admin Team
We’d like to hear from people who could help with the rota of members in the shed on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Please let Christine know if you’re interested. It’s a great way of finding out what’s going on and meeting other growers. Email

Kids’ Club at GO2 Bluebell
Every Wednesday 3-5 pm: help to growers with young children. Please let Sophie know if you’re interested:

Skill-sharing session at GO2 Bluebell
Saturday 25 March, 11 to 1 pm: what and how to sow this month, with a special talk on how to tackle couchgrass and other weeds.
Please contact Sophie at:

Welcome to the 2017 growing season!

Let’s hope it is a productive year. Do make the most of the advice and information on offer to ensure that your plot has good yields.

What’s on?

Sunday 5 February – welcome to new members and food-sharing lunch at 1 pm. So the usual – bring a dish to share.

Sunday 5 March – we’ll start the growing season officially and lots of things will happen. Please come to GO2 Bluebell South and:

– help with tools check and tidy-up jobs, starting 10.30 am with refreshments mid morning
– discuss your planting plans and find out what seeds and plants will be available
– meet other growers
– bring a dish (savoury or sweet) to the food-share lunch at 1 pm

From 5 March the Bluebell South GO2 shed will be open again regularly on Sunday and Wednesday mornings. Rita will soon be inviting people to sign up for the rota. If you haven’t done so, do consider doing a stint as it makes it easier to have a strong pool of members to call on, you find out what’s going on and you get to meet other growers and new people. Email if you can help.

Also, at Marlpit Community Centre,  the first of Mahesh’s courses on essential gardening skills on pruning. I cannot recommend this course too highly. Jon Darby from Easton and Otley College is the tutor. Here are the details again –

Growing fruit, vegetables and herbs: a practical training course


Outline of the session

  1. Pruning – why, when and how
  2. Tools required for pruning and the correct use of tools
  3. Practical (participants to work in a group of two)
  4. Lunch and discussion 1.00-1:30

Free to all SLI members, booking essential. Please contact Mahesh at the address below.
Mahesh Pant
Sustainable Living Initiative
Marlpit Community Centre
Hellesdon Road, Norwich NR6 5EG
Tel: 01603 920570; Mob: 07969996646

Sunday 12 March at 11am at GO2 Bluebell South: skill-sharing session with Sophie. A good opportunity for beginners to get help and advice from more experienced growers, along with tea and cake. We’ll be talking about the tasks of the month and practicing soft fruit bushes pruning.

Have you read the SLI 2015/16 annual report: it’s here:

Look forward to seeing you all soon!

Early Years at MCG

Marlpit Community Garden was a lively place to be on Tuesday.
Regular volunteers were joined by children from the Earlham Early Years Children’s Centre and their parents. Some of the parents spent time weeding the garden as well as helping their children to plant and water flowers and herbs in a special plot. They will be coming along for four Tuesdays during August.
2016-07-21 10.51.43Two older girls took a break from working their after-school and holiday plot to don protective suits and join a group that Tish took up to the bee sanctuary to view inside one of our hives.

A substantial lunch cooked by Amy and Mahesh was much appreciated by visitors and volunteers.


Training Feedback – 2016

A Practical Training session was held on 18 June.
The morning course, titled “Looking after your plants“, was led by Jon Darby and Mahesh Pant, who explained Successional sowing, Intercropping, Catch-crops, Watering, Mulching, Feeding, Thinning, Plant support, Earthing up, Protecting from birds, animals and frost.
Click here to read about it in full.
In addition, there is a useful guide to some of the many weeds we find on our plots.

Various common weeds

Various common weeds


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.


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

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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Skill-sharing at GO2 Bluebell South Allotments

11 to 12am on the last Sunday of the month.
Next is 24th April, followed by 29th May and 26th June

chocolate_cakeThese are friendly and informal meetings for growers to share tips and advice, find answers to their questions and discuss specific topics. Tea and cakes provided!
This Sunday – 24th April, we’ll discuss improving soil and preparing the ground for sowing – sharing some of the ideas from the recent practical training session at Marlpit Community Garden.

Get in touch at Click here to see the “Team Page”

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Soil – Preparation and Planning

Soil, its composition and how we treat it, is fundamental to growing veges successfully…

Click here to read a full report about last Saturday’s course – Jon was entertaining and highly informative about soil types, nutrients, pH, soil-structure, conditioners, compost… Not to mention digging, earthworms, fungi, bacteria and weeds.

crop-rotationMahesh talked about crop rotation, ‘Turnip’ Townshend, Thomas Coke of Holkham, … and about plant families. You can find more on our website Grower’s Guide.  I recommend having a look at

Training was followed by a delicious lunch prepared by Amy.

training day lunch


Read more here

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Growing and Using Herbs – April 2016

Spring Tonics, the third of the ‘Growing and Using Herbs’ Practical Training Courses,  was held at the Marlpit Community Garden on Saturday, April 16th.

Once again, there were excellent  handouts providing descriptions of the plants that we would use and a recipe for Nettle Soup (a warming sample of which was also provided).

We were then instructed in the preparation of tinctures – extraction of essences by alcohol – which was followed by a practical session – a trip to the Garden to collect our own sample using Nettles, Chickweed, and Goose Grass to create our own  Spring Tonic.

We discovered that these humble plants are , in fact, “superfoods” in their own right, containing many necessary vitamins and trace chemicals.

The preparation of Chickweed Vinegar was demonstrated, and its uses described. (Both culinary and medicinal!).

We were shown how those herbal essences that cannot  be extracted by alcohol may be obtained by decoction – simmering in water.

spring tonic preparationcutting up dandelionchopping nettles and dandelionschopped chickweed



Teresa and Claire


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Grounds for

I’ve been wanting to experiment with coffee grounds to grow vegetables and now Waitrose in Eaton is offering customers free coffee grounds.
The consensus is that coffee grounds provide phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. You can find out more about physical properties and carbon/nitrogen ratio on websites, but the overall verdict is: coffee grounds provide short- and long-term soil improvement. They act as a slow-release fertiliser by either blending as ‘green’ compost on your heap and left to ripen there with everything else, or made into ‘tea’ by putting two cups of grounds into 20 litres of water, leaving overnight and then using around your veges on in containers. You can also dig them into the soil to a depth of 15-20 cm.
slug-sips-coffeeSome say they’re slightly acidic at a range of 6.2 on the pH scale, or 6.9 depending which website you look at.
They can also create a slug and snail barrier – and don’t we all want an effective deterrent to those? Coffee grounds are both abrasive as well as acidic, so a barrier of grounds placed near slug-prone plants may just save them from these garden pests.
If you want to get some from Waitrose, they’re in a galvanised dustbin near the ‘horticultural area’. Take your own bags and a scoop or take a box from near the drinks department. It’s probably best to use them when they’re still slightly fresh.


P1280320-strawberryP1280322-waitrose-starbucksLast Sunday I spread 2 Kg of used coffee grounds (from a motorway Starbucks) on Moira’s strawberry bed at Bluebell South. I have tried them as a slug deterrent to little effect, but we’ll see if it improves the strawberries (or the snails!)


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December’s Training Day

Last month’s course was on a very rainy day – to see Teresa’s report, click here.compostbin

Gordon taking advantage of the mild days of the new year to prepare the land edging the Marlpit the herb garden for planting. Picture by Mark Sorrell

Gordon taking advantage of the mild days of the new year to prepare the land edging the Marlpit the herb garden for planting.
Picture by Mark Sorrell

Training Day 11November 14th 2015

Gardening With Nature”, with George Ishmael

George discussed our climate here in Norfolk and Norwich. Very dry, almost drought (official definition) conditions.

Male Oedemera nobilis, False Oil Beetle, Thick-Legged Flower Beetle, Swollen-Thighed Beetle

Thick-Legged Flower Beetle on Ox-eye Daisy (Photo Jim) Click to book training courses.


And went on to explain how the large fields and intensive farming of our area is not an ideal habitat for wild life. There are more insects, small creatures and greater diversity in the smaller fields in the west of the country.

He gave us ideas of how to work with nature, in an organic way, to grow plants that like the dry conditions.

The training was held at the Community Centre, as the day was cold and wet.

A walk was taken to see the Wild Flower Border at the Garden. George explained his ideas behind the planning, and how it has proceeded so far, and what he expects in the future.

The walk was followed by a delicious lunch, provided by Amy and Mahesh, of food grown at the Gardens.

The group enjoyed the session and left with a native strawberry or ox-eye daisy.
George Ishmael is an Environmental Scientist and a Chartered Landscape Architect, he designed the layout of the Marlpit Community Garden.



Click here to see all Sophie’s photos of this training session.

Here is George explaining to the group about management of the wild flower border that he planted at Marlpit Community Garden last year.

Photos by Sophie

“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.

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

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.


Practical Gardening


Plant propagation and Taking Cuttings

Our next training session is on Saturday 12th September from 10 am to 1 pm at Marlpit Community Garden.

There are a few places left; it is free for our team leaders and GO2 Bluebell members will get 10% discount (£15 per session normal price).
Please let Mahesh know soon if you are coming.

Plant and seed news.

There is a selection of plants ready for planting out on your plot between the greenhouse and poly-tunnel. PLEASE remember when taking your plants, there are 160+ growers so only take 2 or 3 at a time, more will be available at regular intervals, and your crop will be all be ready to harvest at the same time. Check how far apart to plant them on the green shed window or in the planting manual.  A selection of seeds are also available at the back of the green shed and information posters on the windows and planting manual.


Protecting your crop

The next skill-sharing session will be on Sunday 31st of May, at 11am at the shed. We’ll talk about protecting seedling and crops against birds, butterflies, flies, slugs, etc. Please take note: if you have any electric wires (copper wires) going spare, don’t throw then away, but bring it to us! We’ll see how we can use them to protect climbing plants, courgettes and others veg against slugs.slug-tumblr_mw32ytAnlg1qcdozto1_500

Please email me if you intend to come, and for any enquiries (


Another Newsletter – this time it’s short and sweet.

Here are a few items of interest to GO2 members

These are all links to our pages on our website – if you don’t click to follow, you won’t see them!

Best wishes, Jim


Welcome to new members!

A number of new growers signed up recently and we welcome them to Grow-Our-Own.
Here is a link to some practical advice about what to do next. Click thisClick me.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask.
As one of the great assets of GO2 is the social and community side, we look forward to seeing you at our food-sharing lunches on the first Sunday of the month, and also at work days (also on the first Sunday of the month) and training sessions. Future activities are announced on an events page (click here).
If you have new neighbours, please look out for them and help them with any problems they may be experiencing.


Annual report

The annual report is under way. We would like to hear your experiences of GO2, whether you are a longstanding grower or have just joined.
Photos of your plot or produce may be included, if kept small. Please send to Christine at Thanks!

Upcoming events

The Big End Of Year Tool / Maintenance Clear Up.

Click here for details tool-rack in shed

Sunday 2nd November 10.30-12-30

Jane Graham – Team Leader Tools / Maintenance