Newsletter February 2018

Dear SLI Members,
This is your first Newsletter of the year 2018 with notices, and information about forthcoming events. From now on, all SLI members including the Grow-Our-Own (GO2) Bluebell and Marlpit Community Garden members will receive our newsletter once a month around the third week of each month. For information about training and other social events planned and handy gardening tips, please visit members’ page on our website or contact us at

If you have a plot in 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.

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!

We still have plots available on Bluebell as well as on Marlpit sites, so please do tell your friends and families who might like to have a small plot.

Forthcoming events

Sunday 4th March, 2018, 10 am 1 pm. The first volunteering Sunday of this year followed by food-share lunch.
The first volunteering Sunday will be on 4th March, starting at 10am, with a focus on tools and sheds.  Jane’s special sausage rolls available for all volunteers!  Afterwards there will be the usual food-sharing lunch at 1pm.

Saturday 17 March, 2018: Training on all about soil: digging, mulching, composting and more, by Jon Darby and Mahesh Pant at Marlpit Community Garden, from 10 am to 1 pm.
This training is free of charge to SLI member and a fee of £10.0 for non-members. All tools, handouts and refreshments provided. Booking essential. To book you place, please email to, subject – Training.

Sunday 1st April, 2018, 10 am to 1 pm. Spring welcome followed by food share lunch at GO2 Bluebell South Allotments.

All welcome! Please bring plenty of food and drinks, preferably homemade, to share and invite your friends and families.

Tuesday 24th April, 2018, 10 am 1pm. Scything training at Marlpit Community Garden.
This training is only for SLI members; anyone interested, please contact Mahesh (

Thursday 26th April, 2018, 10 am 1 pm. Shiitake mushroom log inoculation workshop,at Marlpit Community Garden.

This workshop is only for SLI members. If interested, please contact Tish Kerkham (


February sun
When the wind drops, the sun comes out and there’s a promise of spring in the air, there are jobs that can be done on your plot.  A few raspberry canes planted now will produce fruit from August this year.  A small crown of rhubarb will take longer, a couple of years before it can be picked, but worth the wait.  Both are available, ready for planting, outside the greenhouse.  There are very few seeds that like being sown in cold ground, the ground won’t be warm enough until mid March or April.  But broad beans seeds can cope and a row sown now will produce pods in May or June.  There are seeds available in the big shed.
Bridget for Seeds and Plants team

July 2017 News

Notices and information about forthcoming events. For information about what to grow, when and how, please look here 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 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 (MCG), 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

Sunday 6th August, 10 am to 1 pm General maintenance tasks and food-sharing lunch, at GO2 Bluebell South Allotments.
Just a reminder about our regular volunteering day, we would like more helping hands to carry out a number of essential maintenance tasks.

Moira, Food Team Leader, says there is plenty of produce to make some tasty dishes. The variety of recipes is always surprising and delicious. It would make everything easier if you could bring your own utensils and take them home with you. If you use the utensils from the shed, please wash up using the facility available on site. Help with clearing up after lunch is always welcome. (PLEASE DON’T LEAVE YOUR DIRTY PLATES ON THE TABLE AND EXPECT SOMEONE TO WASH UP FOR YOU!)

Saturday 19th August, 10 am 1 pm. Indian cooking with Viji, at Marlpit Community Centre
This session is free to all SLI members but booking is essential; there will be charge for non-members. Please e-mail ( or call 01603920570 and leave a message to book.

Sunday 1st October, 10 am to 4 pm. GO2 Bluebell Open Day
This is an advance notice!
We will be renewing our subs, enjoying food and apple juice from the press, and generally making visitors and new growers welcome. More later. Offers of help most welcome. Please email Christine at (

GO2 Bluebell Car Park
There are clearly marked three spaces for Blue Badge holders and one space for first-come-first-served, but this must have priority for elderly people, those on shed duties, or immobile for some other reason. If people park on these spaces when they do not need to, they must be asked to move. Please note, this is a gentle reminder; if the problem of unauthorised parking persists, we will have to introduce more stringent measures.
Mahesh Pant

General Gardening Tasks , GO2 Bluebell
It’s seeding time – weeds are seeding all over the place – perhaps on your and your neighbours’ plots? Please cut or strim the grass around your plots and keep the paths tidy bearing in mind also that some of our neighbours are not in our scheme and may have things to say to us about this!

There have been a few thefts of veges from neighbouring plots. If you see or hear of anything, let us know. If you see people wandering around with bags and you don’t think they are bona fide plot holders, you can always ask if you can ‘help’!

Weeding – use a hoe to keep weeds down on your strip. Regular hoeing will keep the weeds at bay.

Another predator! – the Great White butterfly is around. They lay their eggs on brassicas and the caterpillars, lovely to look at as they are, will devour every leaf. Protect your brassicas with netting.

And don’t forget to pick your produce. Several plots have lettuces that are bolting and even broad beans. Please do not waste food!

Seeds and plants Team at GO2 Bluebell


There is still time to sow seeds. Carrots, beetroot, fennel, spring onions, Swiss chard and lettuce should all give a crop in the autumn. Sow thinly and keep seedlings as weed-free and watered as possible.

There will be pak choi and kale plants ready soon alongside spicy salad leaves – mizuna, komatsuna and red mustard frills. Again, all need to be kept well-watered. And, as birds find pak choi very tasty, covering with netting as soon as it is planted is a good idea.
Bridget for Seeds and Plants team

An urgent message has come round from the Bluebell Allotments Association
On Bluebell North a person has been spotted helping himself to produce from various allotments. To make it harder for people to do this, please can you make sure that you lock the allotment gates on arriving and on leaving. It is recommended that you do this each time you enter or leave however it is particularly important early in the morning and at times when there are only a few allotmenters around. (Anyone who is legitimately on the allotment site should have a key to let themselves out, so you needn’t worry that you will be locking someone in!)

If you do see someone acting suspiciously at any time or witness a crime being committed please report it to the police. They recommend dialing 999 if the crime is in progress.
If it is possible (and safe) to take a photo of either the person or their vehicle that may be helpful.

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.


Seeds and plants at GO2 Bluebell

If you haven’t already planted your early potatoes, now is the time. There are still plenty of Orla seed potatoes ready chitted available from the GO2 big shed. Main crop potatoes will arrive by the end of the month so save a space for a few of those.

There are seeds of the most popular vegetables on the table at the end of the big shed. Carrots, beetroot, turnips, radishes, spinach, parsnips and all kinds of peas can all be sown now, in well-watered drills. Don’t forget to give peas netting or chicken wire protection from the birds.

The first plants – lettuce, mizuna and mibuna – will be available outside the polytunnel on Sunday. If you miss them look on the shelves just inside the polytunnel where they’ll be put for safe-keeping at the end of the morning.

We’re busy sowing tender seeds – courgettes and squashes and the like – in the GO2 greenhouse. They, along with runner beans, sweet corn and climbing French beans, will be ready as plants once the risk of frost has gone, usually the last week in May or even early June. The tender plants on sale now in garden centres can be very tempting but be warned, with frost forecast next week, even cloche protection is unlikely to keep them safe.

For now, the sun is shining, there’s plenty to sow and plant, and to look forward to.

Bridget for Seed and Plant Team

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The soil is warming up; it’s time to start sowing.

Have you noticed a rash of newly germinated weed seedlings on your plot? The weed seeds have been dormant during the winter but now their germination is a sure sign that the soil is warming up and that sowing of seeds can start in earnest. The weedlings can be hoed off – best done when it’s sunny so they dry out and shrivel – and the soil raked to a fine tilth.
Click for video
At GO2 Bluebell, there’s plenty to sow. Radishes, beetroot, parsnips and carrots can be sown in well-watered narrow drills. Broad beans, mange tout, sugar snap and traditional peas are sown in wider drills. All seeds can all be found in the Big Shed on the table at the back. If you’re not sure what do, or need a reminder, there are people to ask on Wednesday and Sunday mornings when the shed is open. There are also sowing guides in the planting manual kept in the shed and on display in the window.

In a week or so there will be potatoes to plant. The first earlies, Orla, are developing shoots – chitting – in boxes in the shed, almost but not quite ready to go out.

We have been sowing seeds in the warmth of the greenhouse for several weeks. The first batches of Brussel sprouts and purple sprouting broccoli, lettuces and oriental salads, parsley and thyme, several varieties of flowers are growing fast. The first, probably salad plants, will be ready to go out sometime in late April.

for Seeds and Plant Team at Bluebell South

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News from the Seeds and Plants Team at Bluebell South.

As the weather continues to be wintry the soil temperature is still too cold for sowing any seeds as they are unlikely to germinate.
Later in the month when hopefully the weather is more spring-like, the soil temperature should be warm enough to start sowing hardy vegetables like Beetroot, Broad Beans, Parsnips, late Garlic, Radish and Turnips. The seeds will be made available at the back of the Green Shed.
It is still a good time to plant soft fruit bushes – Gooseberries, red and black currants and autumn-fruiting Raspberries – see our Encyclopedia.


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Overwintering Vegetables at GO2 BluebellBluebell-members

There are a couple of weeks left to plant overwintering vegetables before the weather gets colder, Broad Beans and Onions are available in the Green shed, the Garlic is finished now but can be planted in spring, anyone who has missed out this Autumn please let me know and more can be ordered for spring planting.

icon-onions-guideicon-broad-beans-guideInformation on how to plant the broad beans and  onions is available on the website, in the Green Shed and in the Planting Manual.


MCG Winter planting MCG-button-logo-icon

Broad beans, garlic and onions are available in the container at Marlpit Community Garden.


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.



We seem to have run out of garlic for planting, if anyone has unknowingly planted whole bulbs of garlic instead of separating the individual cloves, could they please bring back any cloves they don’t require.garlic_5

I will put a list for people to sign if they have missed out on supplies and we will get some more for spring planting.

It is not too late to get broad beans planted, or if you have already planted some earlier, another sowing now will bring a second crop in the early summer.

There are also winter lettuce plants ready for planting that will bring you early lettuces in the spring.


Stir-up Sunday Approaches

Why not try making Eliza Acton’s Christmas pudding from 1845 Eliza-Acton-Christmas-pudding 

Traditionally you should make this on Stir-Up Sunday, the last Sunday in November

To see our other seasonal recipes, click here.