Thursday, 14 July 2016

All united under the ECCG flag! Plus advice on pests

Sheltering in the polytunnel during a brief summer shower 

The flag was flying high while we shared food and friendship

On Sunday, about 20 of us met at the Garden - we enjoyed a shared lunch after a wonderful morning. A short burst of rain did not stop our enjoyment but suggested a rather fun photo opportunity. We are a multinational, multilingual community and in these troubled times, this is a big gift. So come and join us - commit the time you can, everybody is welcome, all ages and abilities. No gardening experience necessary but goodwill and generosity will be an advantage!

A giant kohlrabi

Our twig-powered kettle at work

Plenty of space to cartwheel

However even in paradise you have pests... our coordinator Charlotte gives us a lowdown:

'We are suffering from an explosion of slugs, woodlice and a newly learned habit of the squirrels. With all this wet weather the slugs and snails are very very happy. In an attempt to save our plants we have have been removing longish grass from the edges of the vegetable plots, cleaning out any weeds to keep the ground as clear and dry as possible. But what to do with a bucket of slugs and snails and no hens nearby?

There is research showing that caffeine deters and kills slugs. Researchers coated cabbage plants in caffeine solutions to see if slugs would be deterred from eating them. They discovered that at a concentration of just 0.01 per cent, caffeine reduced slugs’ feeding by one quarter. Given that a cup of instant coffee contains about 0.05 per cent caffeine that is pretty amazing.

They also discovered that 95 per cent of large slugs were killed by a spray containing two per cent caffeine. In fact the two-per-cent caffeine solution was found to be more effective than the standard 0.195 per cent metaldehyde treatment according to the research team.

So now we are off to get some more coffee grounds. The last lot were put out to protect squash plants planted into a mound of partially composted material. The plants were immediately eaten so we were disillusioned with the coffee ground theory. However we then discovered a mass of woodlice living in the mound and now believe they are the culprits. We planted the mound up with marigolds and they seem to be faring better, but its still early days. It is a lesson to let your compost heap or lasagne bed get well into the composted state before trying to grow squash and probably most young and delicate plants. I think we can say that coffee grounds don't seem to deter woodlice. Here is picture of woodlouse heaven....'

'Squirrels are eating our broad beans. Luckily the netting is saving some for us. We did get a lovely bucket-full on Sunday but only 100% netting cover is letting us get this crop. A couple of years ago allotment holders just up from us started having problems and we were exempt for our first two years. This year the squirrels have decided to come down to our end. Perhaps because so many allotment holders gave up on growing broad beans for squirrel parties? I wonder if other places have this problem, I couldn't find anything on it on the internet. Plenty of stuff written on bean stealing that goes on at the planting stage though.  Below is a picture of our harvest alongside squirrel's feast's debri.'

Due to interest when I posted this on Facebook within a Cambridge closed group, if you would like to find out more, you need to read the first blog post, here.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Going wild, wild, wild! Two events at ECCG

We have a lot of exciting events happening at the Empty Common Community Garden. We are participating in the Cambridge Wild Weekend, a free event running from Friday 8 July at 8:00 pm to Sunday 10 July at 4:00 pm. Our specific event is below:

Sun 10 July - Morning - ‘A Garden for Life’ 
Empty Common Community Garden ECCG will be showing garden design and gardening for wildlife. We will have several posters and signs so people looking around can see the gardening styles and features, and how they have been designed to incorporate wildlife. There will be people to chat to about the project too. Everybody is welcome.

Plus, Transition Cambridge are having their party at Empty Common on 31 July. Info: 
Empty Common Community Garden, from14:00, FREE. Here's the info from their website: Join us for our annual summer party to celebrate another year of Transition fun, friendship and community action. Please bring simple food to share and your own plate/cup/cutlery to share for our picnic. If anyone has some suitable outdoor games - eg boules, twister mats etc. feel free to bring them too. A nearby pub, the Earl of Derby will be our rainy day back-up. Transitioners, friends and family of Transitioners - all welcome!