Friday, 5 January 2018

Happy New Year!

Winter blooms by Carol

We had a very mixed December. There was snow (fleetingly) after many years of no show while temperatures went up and down. One day it was 5 degrees and two days later 10. No wonder there are still a few flowers in the garden. The picture above was taken just before Christmas, which turned up to be a sunnier and warmer day than expected. Crops doing well in December included cabbage and sprouts.

Ice corals by Charlotte

A giant radish
There are some exciting plans afoot, we are discussing building a meeting hut and we are going to get help from students at the University of Cambridge. Students, postdocs and even lecturers at the University have been helping before - some have moved away but are still in touch. 

We get emails from ex members now and then - you might be gone but we have not forgotten you, the photos in this blog show your hard work and your sense of fun. In this nostalgia vein, here are a few photos from our archives that have not been posted before.

Just over a year ago... December 2016

Rebecca sent us these photos to show volunteers removing the strawberry netting. There was an abundance of plants and two boxes were filled to share at the Seedy Sunday event. The oak tree was decorated with festive tinsel by some enthusiastic young visitors. 

Monday, 18 December 2017

Happy Xmas from Empty Common

We had snow for a weekend only... Lisa took these photos of the garden in early December. We wish you all a Happy Xmas and Prosperous New Year.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

A year in review and Seasonal Greetings

In the last blog post of 2017 we are looking back at a wonderful year of gardening and friendship. Here is a review of the four seasons of the Empty Common Community Garden. This was presented at the Transition Cambridge's AGM.

In winter 2016, the old Burwell wheat was sown and protected with nets. Postgraduate students from the University of Cambridge helped to set up our seating by the pond. In October, Empty Common participated in Cambridge Sustainable Food's Pumpkin Festival. Volunteers started to build the compost toilet.

Spring 2017 was a hive of activity, with a lot of planting and tending of young shoots including the old Burwell wheat. A shady corner became a wildlife patch and public relaxation space. The Community Gardening Nomads visited us and helped to finish our wildlife corner.

Summer 2017 was particularly busy as we hosted Hobson's Conduit Bioblitz's scientific survey and family weekend. We had a Transition Cambridge stall, gave tours, made flowers from plastic bottles and ran a leaf identification activity. Other highlights included a stunning wildflower patch and a storytelling session in our hazel copse.

In Autumn 2017 the old Burwell wheat was harvested with Cropshare on their pedal-powered thresher. Our compost toilet was christened and celebrated. Last but not least, our pumpkin harvest was the best ever!

Giuseppe Arcimboldo - Winter

It's December and it's very frosty at night. We had snow on Sunday, but it's nearly all gone as we publish this blog. We wish you all a Serene Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Nasturtiums, salvaged materials & pumpkins!

A Happy Halloween from the Empty Common Community Garden!
The days might be getting shorter but it's busier than ever at the Garden. We have harvested some lovely pumpkins and squashes, great for soups and pies! 

We do work hard, but there is also a lot of chatting going on, we take great pleasure in talking to new and regular volunteers. You might be surprised to read we do not have 'officious' meetings as such, we communicate via a Google group and the highlights are published on this blog. 

Charlotte rescued an old trampoline frame from being dumped and we think it could make a good rail to lean our bikes against. One photo shows it being held up a bit higher than it would be once the legs were in the ground. The other photo shows its curves. One curve would go around the apple tree that we planted last year. However, the framework could also be made into a circle (4m diameter) and used as an arch or frame for growing stuff up... we are still debating this among ourselves. Salvaged materials are everywhere in the Garden.

We picked lots of nasturtium (Tropaeolum) seeds, last year we had very few and this year was a bumper crop. Thank you Mary for planting them, they have been and still are wonderful. Nasturtium is Latin for twisted nose, but ours aren't from the genus Nasturtium. The annual garden nasturtiums are from the genus Tropaeolum (Tropaeolum majus). Here is a website with recipes for pickling them. It has a recipe for nasturtium butter too, which sounds yummy. A friend also makes nasturtium pesto; she uses ground almonds, which are cheaper than pine nuts. The nasturtiums will disappear with the first reasonable frost, so it's now or never! 

We also harvested chard, celery, peppers and cabbage. We picked a 'rude' veg, which was entered in a special competition. It is a cheeky turnip indeed!

Last but not least, someone in the US is 'hearting' us with a juicy tomato. Thank you, John. We miss you and Mary.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Hello autumn, plus some exciting news!

Nigel from the RHS' initiative It's Your Neighbourhood visited Empty Common in August. Charlotte welcomed him with a special tour and Rebecca took the photos above. Nigel seemed impressed by our efforts. Fingers crossed we passed!

Below are some photos from Silvia, showing Empty Common's bounty. The pond is well established and the garden is thriving. There was even a party to celebrate our new compost toilet... any excuse to get together and celebrate our wonderful space.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

A cooler August at Empty Common and a big thank-you!

Dunkirk Little Ship and Empty Common Community Garden's sweet peas

The garden has been thriving, produce is being picked, wild flowers are creating lovely patches of colour and the community is coming together on Sundays and at special events. A butterfly count was also attempted. 

I have received a lovely photo from Charlotte featuring our colourful sweet peas. Elena Moses from Transition Cambridge sent us some beautiful summer pics of the Garden, you can see her album here.

Cambridge is a transient city, so it's with heavy hearts that we say good-bye to two top volunteers, Mary and John. They have contributed so much of their time and have sent great material for this blog. Here's a photo of Mary with two other regulars... We wish them well and hope they stay in touch to see the garden grow.

And here's a photo of John, busy on the pond...

You will be missed, no doubt you will come back and see us if you visit Cambridge again. Thanks again for all your dedication and great party food!

Last but not least, a picture from our archive.... May 2017!

We had around 15 workers at ECCG and were visited by a wonderful team of community gardeners from Peterborough who helped us complete the installation of our pond and then helped ECCG members form a bucket brigade to fill the pond with water from the creek on the west side of the garden. Many helping hands made the work social and fun!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

A variable summer at Empty Common

It is hot, it rains, it gets cooler, it warms up, the sun scorches... It's a British summer but on balance not a bad one... John has sent us some lovely pics of the garden.

The 'old' wheat is doing well

The pond is teaming with wildlife

Veggies are being harvested

Everything is great, except some beasties are eating beetroots and courgettes, a net has been deployed to discourage further munching.

Mary sent us the evidence
The bioblitz event put us on a map and we are getting requests from groups to use the garden for their events. If you would like to host an event or collaborate with us, do get in touch. The email is on the first post, where the map is.