Sad news…

We were saddened to hear of the death of Alison Foss unexpectedly on Thursday 20th August 2015. The funeral was at 2:15 on Wednesday 23rd September at Earlham Cemetery.Marlpit sunflowers

Alison has been active at Marlpit Community Garden since it started and was the accountant for Sustainable Living Initiative since April this year.
Alison wrote the Marpit Newsletter which we send monthly and regularly contributed to our Bluebell Newsletters, with recipes , reports and even a book review. We enjoyed Alison’s company last Saturday, cooking lunch at Marlpit Community Centre.
Our condolences go to Dennis, Alison’s husband – we’ll miss her.

Jim and Moira


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.


breadnbutterpickleChutney Workshop

A busy Saturday morning was enjoyed by members of Grow Our Own, preparing, cooking and bottling two chutneys and a wonderful “Bread & Butter” pickle.

They will be on sale on at our Open Day.

A very big thank you to Bridget for her guidance and the use of her facilities, from all who attended,

 Daria, Moira, Helen, Peter and Amy.

Click here for the recipes and here are some pictures


Look here for some new additions to the recipe pages

“Rhubarb, rhubarb, …!”

Click here

Click picture to see our rhubarb factfile


Join us on Sunday 4th May to discover how to use, prepare, cook & store rhubarb.It’s all happening between 10am – 12pm at
the SLI Office in the West Earlham Community Centre, 10 Wilberforce Road, Norwich NR5 8NE
Limited spaces – maximum of 6 people.
To book, please contact Juyna Lewis (food team leader): 01603 504121 or

Afterwards, it’s all up to GO2 Bluebell South for Food Sharing Sunday and more food!


If you have anything you’d like to submit to GO2 News, please send it to


Sorting out your garden? Any surplus plants would be gratefully received. Please leave them by the herb patch near the toilet. Many thanks. rhubarb-and-custard


A popular garden plant.

Marigold has exceptional healing powers and is used in many therapeutic disciplines, as its unique anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties promote rapid healing. It lifts the spirits, relaxes spasms and is a common first aid for cuts, burns and particularly good for dry skin.

Come and try my test run of marigold oil and cream on our Open Day this Saturday, 21st September at Marlpit Community Garden.
See you Saturday?



Here’s a new take on how to make spanakopita, from Janet J.
And more Plum Tarts from

Jane C.

Grow Our Own (GO2) Bluebell South Allotments, Norwich

Management of the Bluebell South Allotments project from 1st of October 2013

Thank you all for sending your feedback.

As you may know, we had a meeting on Sunday 25th August to discuss the new organisational arrangements.

Adobe PDFPlease follow this link to the minutes document.

Here are the main points:

From 1st of September, 2013, the GO2 Bluebell South Allotments will be managed by seven teams (see below); each team will have a team leader and growers will have to sign up to one team at the time of joining/renewing their membership of GO2. Land and water management and compost and muck team leader’s position is vacant at the moment.


  • Admin – Christine Wilson
  • Seed and plants including Heritage seed – Jane Chittenden
  • Training and mentoring – Rochelle Wilson
  • Land and water management – vacant
  • Maintenance/Buildings – Jane Graham
  • Food and jam-making – Juyna Lewis
  • Compost and muckvacant

If you are interested in any of the vacant positions and/ or have any questions/comments, please let me know.

Mahesh Pant

This Sunday, 4th August… what to do?

Eating alfresco

It is the first Sunday of the month, so we will be sharing our allotment grown food. There is an abundance of crops at the moment; courgettes, beans, chard, onions and much more. I’ve just acquired a copy of Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book (thanks to a recommendation from Jane C), which is packed with recipes and peppered with historical references and anecdotes. For example, the former US President Thomas Jefferson was a keen gardener, and engaged in annual pea growing competitions with his neighbours. A far cry from a more recent President of the United States who famously hated broccoli!But as far as I am aware, no US President ever grew peas like these:,

August Recipes

Alison Foss shared these recipes on the website

Broad Bean Bake

Beetroot tops and bottoms with a pearl barley risotto

Tomato late-blight research

The recent rainfall, although very much needed, has increased the chances of late-blight infection of tomatoes and potatoes. The most obvious symptom will be brown or black lesions on leaves and stems, without significant yellowing of the surrounding leaf. James Stroud, a Bangor University/Sarvari Research Trust PhD student, is investigating late-blight with the aim of developing new strains of tomato that have higher resistance to late-blight. If you would like to take part by examining potatoes and tomatoes, and sending James samples of infected plant matter, please let me know.

Lost watch

If you find a Lorus swap watch, lost on or around 7th July, please let Tom Greaves know

Time to relax?

It’s hot, crops are maturing, and maybe now is the time to be less busy on the allotment. Instead, aim to be mindful and observant. Watch the bees moving in and out of flowers, see which plants are prospering, smell the soil after the rain. Because the physical benefits of growing our own are obvious. The manual work, the nutritious fruit and vegetables. But being in the moment, and letting all of our senses engage with our environment, is beneficial too.


Management Changes

Mahesh has proposed a new management strategy which can be seen on the Members’ Documents page
Please read the document – it aims to share ideas about changes to coordinating task-based teams and to increases in plot rentals.

Graphics and layout 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.

What to do on Volunteering Day

Communal activities

Grass cutting, planting in unused areas, grass cutting, weeding, grass cutting, compost bin construction, and did I mention grass cutting?

Vegetable activities

Squashes and courgettes to be planted on your plots. Remember that they are big plants so need lots of space. We have lettuces and other salad plants to fill in the gaps. And climbing beans, komatsuma, heritage kale (Theyer) and much more.

And seeds to be sown, such as chard, beetroot, carrot, radish, dwarf beans……..
If you have planted or are going to plant sweetcorn, green manure seeds can be sown in the gaps between the corn to help prevent weed growth.

Fruit activities

Check gooseberry leaves for sawfly caterpillars. They are a similar shade of green to gooseberry leaves, and tend to cling on to the underside of the higher leaves, eating their way from the edge to the centre.

They have voracious appetites, so plants will need to be examined every few days. Collect the caterpillars and take them several yards away from bushes. The soil around fruit trees and bushes can be mulched with cut grass and weeds to retain moisture.
Strawberry plants benefit from having straw placed under their leaves. This prevents the fruit from touching the mud, and helps to reflect heat back from the sun.

Historical find in the compost heap!

This is what Natasha found while sieving compost!Click to see bigger image
Peter Robins, at Norwich Castle Museum, identified it as a flint knife, long, narrow secondary flake with shallow retouch along much of the right edge and signs of use wear on the left edge. Probably Early Neolithic, 4,000-3,000 BC.

Worth a Visit

Audley End has a wonderful organic walled fruit and vegetable garden. It is accessible by public transport, the village being on the train line between Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Visit for details


with graphics and other exciting bits from Jim

Jane says …

Here’s a fab recipe to add to the seasonal collection – Spanakopita, which is a Greek spinach and feta cheese pie

23rd May 2013

Sunday 24th March

This week’s newsletter comes from Eddie, Tessa and Juyna who will be on duty, with Jane G, in the Big Shed on Sunday.

‘How on earth did you get parsnips that big?’

Last year my plots were very productive and successful with large onions, good sized garlic and beetroot and an extremely good crop of parsnips.
Some have asked, ‘How on earth did you get parsnips that big?’ The only answer I have is, ‘I have no idea but by the Grace of God and a bit of luck it’s happened’. Many of you know that I have survived a stroke and my involvement with GO2 has been an integral part of that recovery. Helping to pot on seedlings, watching my crops grow and the many friendships I have made have helped me to become part of the wider community.  Now I look forward to the new season and what it may bring, including the slugs and snails.


Keeping paths clear

As the main growing season begins and you begin to work on your plots, remember to keep the main path clear of garden tools, wheelbarrows and personal effects. As well as being a health and safety hazard, such objects make for an obstacle course for anyone trying to pass, particularly with a wheelbarrow.
Also, keeping the grass short in front of your plot both looks neater and reduces the habitat of the slugs which we were plagued with last year.


Your wellbeing & gardening

As I write this I’ve just heard on the radio that it’s the first day of Spring!  Now is the time to get your allotment plots organised as the soil is warming up.

Whilst gardening is a lovely thing to do as it great way to keep fit and has calming effects it can also unfortunately result in injuries, especially in the lumber region. Just a few precautions will help to avoid these problems. In particular people with existing back pain should take extra care when gardening. Plan your gardening time and don’t overdo it.
Firstly, warm up by taking a quick walk around all wonderful plots which will stimulate your circulation. Secondly, limber up by doing some simple stretches exercise such as the one illustrated. This is simple to do and can be done by anyone; even in a wheelchair. Start by rolling your shoulders forward VERY GENTLY 10 times and back 10 times. Continue to breathe normally as you do this. Finally, relax and start gardening. Enjoy!


Jane’s Recipe for the Spring Equinox

Impossible to work out what to eat with this changeable weather – blooming cold and snowy, then lovely and sunny (but still cold). So – it’s French vegetable soup, which is very simple but really good.


Layout and graphics by Jim

What to do this weekend?

You could sow a few broad beans or a row of parsnip seeds and there are white and red onions to plant.

You might even risk sowing a row of peas. Choose smooth-skinned ones as these germinate better in cold weather. There will be seeds and sets for all the above in the Big Shed.

Find ways of warming the soil ready for sowing more tender seeds.
This week I constructed a cloche from sheets of clear plastic to cover a small section of my plot. It’s rather rickety but, if it stands and does its job, I’ll sow a row of beetroot next week and maybe some sugar snap peas (wrinkled seeds as it gets warmer) as well. Covering the soil with black polythene will also warm the soil and has the advantage of suppressing weeds.

Join the watering (and snail hunt) rota

The seeds sown in the greenhouse are doing well and it won’t be long before the young plants require daily watering. We need volunteers to take on one or more ‘slots’ in a rota. The job doesn’t take long; it involves checking and watering if necessary and then a quick inspection of pots and modules to search out any snails that have found their way into cracks and crevices. So, if you can come regularly on the same day each week, either morning or evening, let us know. There is a technique involved, to avoid under- or over-watering, so, if you’re unsure, we’ll show you how. Hunting out snails needs less skill.


Because of the disease, ash dieback, threatening our ash trees nationally we’re unable to get bean-poles from our usual supplier. We have some left over from last year but there won’t be enough for everyone. We prefer not to buy imported bamboo canes so need another source. If you’re intending to grow runner beans this year keep an eye open for anything, in skips or stacked behind garden sheds, that could be used as poles, for your own plot or, if you know of a good supply, for the rest of us.

Happy gardening


Recipe for Fennel and Pea Risotto

Don’t I wish I could succeed with growing fennel! I’ve tried and it was a dismal failure. BUT if I had succeeded, I could be making this lovely dish with my own home-grown fennel (have to wait a few weeks for home-grown peas though).

Jane C.

Welcome to our New Growers and Volunteers

We have five new subscribers to this newsletter this month, and we wish them welcome and look forward to meeting them.

Volunteering Sunday

This Sunday is the last in February and so it’s our regular Volunteering morning when we tackle the big jobs that need the joint effort of several people to accomplish. It’s forecast to be cold but, as usual, we have projects that are guaranteed to warm you up.

Clive and Peter M will be working on the newest compost site alongside the Red Sheds. Once completed, it will mean that if you have a plot down past those sheds, getting rid of your weeds will be much simpler. And, in time, the site will produce a regular supply of compost for enriching the soil. So come along and help complete the job.

Click for fennel facts

Another warming project is to dig out some of the massive fennel roots that have invaded the border by the Big Shed. This will need to be done carefully to avoid damage to the bulbs that are beginning to push their way through, but at least we can get started on the task. Charles will be there to nominate the roots that can be tackled.

The herb-basins by the composting toilet need a gentle weeding. I say gentle because the different sorts of mint planted there won’t be sending up their green shoots for a few weeks yet so the containers look a bit unkempt. But teasing out the clover and the like from the mass of mint roots will make a difference to the look of the basins and to how productive they are.

There’s a task for anyone good at construction. The heap of poles and wire trays lying alongside the greenhouse needs turning into the cold frame for use later in the season for hardening off plants. Pieces of string, rubber bands and the like will be supplied.

There are jobs to be done in the Big Shed. Seed potatoes are ready to be lain in their eggboxes for chitting. And anyone with a flare for writing and maybe illustrating labels for the jars in which seeds are stored, and the ability to do such work in the cold, would be very welcome. Jane G, Eddie and I will be in and around the big shed so find one of us and ask where the action is.

We usually break for a hot drink at around 12pm. If you’re baking and can bring cakes, biscuits or anything snack-like such contributions could help keep the workers on task!

Calling green-fingered growers looking for a challenge.

Jane C was contacted by Silver River Productions, a TV company who are looking for people to take part in new Gardening Programme they are producing for BBC2. They write that the programme:

‘will be an exciting and stimulating series which will reveal all the wonderful possibilities that can be unlocked from one patch of earth. From vegetables to fruits and flowers, this programme will illustrate that gardens aren’t just for sitting in! We are looking for pairs of contestants who have the skills and the dedication to compete to be the nation’s best kitchen gardener. Someone who can cultivate the perfect carrot, make their green tomatoes into award winning chutney and turn their dahlias and sweet peas into floral arrangements fit for a Queen. We would like to hear from people who believe they have the skills to compete and are interested in featuring in our series. It couldn’t be easier to apply; all you need to do is email your contact number to for an application form.’

It would be such great publicity if two people from GO2 were contestants!

In the greenhouse…

… the first seeds, sown last week, have started coming through. In a very few weeks, weather permitting, there will be lettuces, mizuna and mibuna ready to plant out.


Three happenings and a recipe

Sunday 2nd  September at 1pm is our monthly food-sharing lunch.  No   doubt there will be ever more ingenious ways of using produce from plots –   courgettes, runner beans, raspberries, whatever is ready – so come along with   dish to share and join in.
On Sunday, 16th   September, the GO2 Centre will host a stage in the
‘Good Food March’ as it makes   its way through Norwich.  The march is to publicise the call to Brussels   for a Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) that delivers good food and good   farming.  Cyclists and walkers will arrive from John Innes at about 2pm   for a refreshment break and to hear more about our project, so come and join   them.  I’m sure we’ll have much in common with the marchers.  See   for more details.
Open Day is on Saturday 29th   September, from 12-4pm in the big shed and around.  Any offers of help   and items for the tombola are most welcome. 

Things to do on 26th August
We need lots of help clearing and tidying in the communal areas please!

How to Prepare and Eat Garden Snails

Here is some advice on how to prepare and eat garden snails! It’s from Elisabeth Luard’s book Saffron and Sunshine. She’s spent much of her life in places like Spain, living in simple villages on a tiny budget to feed a family.
Luard says that all land snails are edible but you must starve them before you eat them, because they contain potentially toxic excreta – that is, snail poo, Collect them (that won’t be difficult!) and keep them in a clean container that allows air to circulate. Feed them on whatever you’d like to flavour them with – she recommends lettuce and mint. Keep them for about two weeks – less if small, longer if big – and clean out the container every day. She doesn’t mention whether you should have water, but another source says you don’t need any – there’s enough in the atmosphere.

Preparing a box of snails

When you’re ready to cook them, wash in several changes of water and salt them. They will froth (ugh, this is getting horrible!). When they stop frothing they are considered clean enough to cook. Put them in a pan with enough warm water to cover. Bring gently to the boil. Skim off the froth and add salt and a tablespoon of vinegar, some peppercorns, a couple of bayleaves, parsley, thyme and an onion (this begins to sound like Stone soup!). Simmer 30 mins. Drain, rinse. Remove snails from their shells and pinch off the little curl of black intestine at the end of the body. Finish by simmering a few minutes in garlic and wine, like cooking mussels (this is what they do in Liguria in the Italian Riveria) or in a spicy tomato sauce (which is what they do in Andalucia in southern Spain).

Snails ready to cook

Many thanks (possibly!) to Jane C for researching this topic.
Clive (picture-links by Jim)