Thursday, 14 October 2021

October is Apple and Pear month!

Photo: Aarón Blanco Tejedor, Unsplash

At Emtpy Common we have Cottenham Seedling, Maxton and Wayside apples. We also have Concorde and Conference pears. Apples and pears can last longer if stored, well spaced, in dark and cool places like a garage or shed. 

Some varieties of apples are too sour to eat, so they are cooked in a variety of ways - pureed, cooked and chopped in savoury dishes, in pies, chutneys and preserves. There are some wonderful, free recipes on this well-trusted, British website:


Photo: Joanna Stołowicz, Unsplash


****Charlotte recommends two websites sharing useful information on apple and pear varieties: https://www.orangepippin.com/ and https://www.fruitid.com/. These websites will help you identify a range of fruit varieties and find out about local orchards wherever you are.


Saturday, 11 September 2021

September is harvest time!

The garden a few weeks back.


As we have entered September, the weather has suddenly warmed up and has become much more dry (which means more frequent watering for us). It seems that the average Summertime temperatures have arrived a bit late this year.

At the moment, we are currently harvesting many delicious fruit and vegetables from the garden. Here are some of our recent produce photos (thank you to Nicola for providing the photos).





 

Saturday, 4 September 2021

Recycling and Re-purposing at the ECCG (tennis balls and more)

At the Empty Common Community Garden, we focus largely on sustainability and permaculture (growing in a more self-sufficient and environmentally friendly way). As well as this, we commonly recycle, reuse and re-purpose old items to help us with something new.

For example, we have several uses for discarded tennis balls, which are kindly collected for us by Ian's dog.

Here, a tennis ball is placed on the end of a cane post, which is used
to support wiring around a plant bed. The tennis ball covers the
sharp end of the cane.


Another idea, involving support of canes, uses the tennis
balls to help balance nets securely over the plants. This
is very helpful at protecting produce from being eaten
by wildlife.


Again, tennis balls are stuck on the end of canes. As seen in the picture,
this also works well for canes that support growing plants in our
polytunnel.
 
Here are some pictures of different re-purposing around the garden:

We are currently in the process of the creation of our new
meeting hut. This is a picture of its base, which is made
of recycled materials.

In this picture, plastic cloches are used to
shelter some of the plants in the bed. We
were given them by someone who had
not ended up using them.
We used old plastic bottles to support the bottom of tomato
plants and help them grow upwards.


Here, plastic bottles are placed over plants that are growing against canes.
This protects them from being eaten, as well as reusing plastic.

Other examples:
  • Pallet compost heaps
  • The use of old, second-hand bike racks
  • The pond and both our sheds are also second-hand
  • The mulch depot was made of old decking and reclaimed slabs
  • The bee home in our garden was made from off-cuts from another project
  • Our toilet is made from old doors from a skip
  • Our fire pit is a deflector from the top of an old outside gas heater, also found in a skip
  • We have a plant bed that was made from a thrown-out partially-broken trampoline
  • And almost all of our tools are from Ameycespa recycling.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Unseen pictures from the ECCG's archive

As August comes towards an end, we are reminded of many great moments at the garden. Here are some archive pictures of plants, volunteers, visitors and produce from the Spring and Summer of 2019:

(1st May 2019) The fire created by the woodcraft folk, when
they visited to play music at the garden.


(5th May 2019) Some of our
gardeners enjoying hanging
out in the trees after a busy
Sunday.

(7th July 2019) Our shed after Ben kindly
finished its new painting job.

(7th July 2019) Some hover flies enjoying the marigolds
around the vegetable garden.

(14th July 2019) Lots of delicious Summer produce from
the garden.
(28th July 2019) A volunteer standing by
our very impressive sunflower, on a very wet Sunday.

Monday, 16 August 2021

Summer at the Empty Common Community Garden

Some of our indoor tomatoes

Unlike the previous year, it has been a peculiarly cool, damp summer. Unfortunately, these conditions are well-matched for the spread of blight and we have lost all of our outdoor tomatoes. 

In August, it is usually difficult to begin sowing in the early weeks (due to the dryness of the soil). Because of this, we normally wait until later in August before sowing for a quick, last crop.

Here are a few suggestions of things you might want to sow outside by Charlotte:

  • Pak choi
  • Lamb's lettuce
  • Swiss chard
  • Spring cabbages
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • Oriental greens
  • Kale
  • Overwintering onions.

At the garden, we decided to sow oriental greens, radishes and spinach. If the weather does become dry and hot again, like a usual August, we have to remember to water the seed beds ourselves.

Here are some pictures Nicola and Michela have taken of some of the crops we have harvested in July and August:


 



We are definitely happy to have harvested some delicious, organic produce!

Thursday, 5 August 2021

'Thrive' Transition Cambridge workshop at the Empty Common Community Garden

On Saturday the 31st of July, Hilary Cox Condron (in the centre, below) ran a 'Thrive' art workshop (on behalf of Transition Cambridge) at the garden. The workshop focused on exploring how we can 'thrive as a community', particularly how we can meet our needs as well as sustaining natural resources.


We discussed and drew out our visions of a future Cambridge, using the shape of our hands to represent the concept of 'Doughnut Economics'. This economic model focuses on the idea that humanity should be able to meet the needs of all and make sure that everyone has access to life essentials, without compromising the planet and our natural world. Read more about Doughnut Economics here...

Here are some pictures of the group's brilliant artwork:






 

To accompany the art, the page was also filled with words and quotes that relate to what us as individuals hope for Cambridge.


"Change, equality and happiness are connected."

"Shouldn't be exclusive — We should all have access to open space."

"Free bikes, growing gardens, scents."

"I want to live in a city where nothing is privately owned."

"Nature, drinkable river water, solar & wind power."

"Quality human rights, clean air, shared spaces."

"Free busses, bicycle-only areas, childcare."

"All schools should be 'art schools'."

"No food poverty."

"Love our teens (and listen to them)."


The workshop was definitely an amazing experience and everyone is welcome, so we do recommend looking out for any future events.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Volunteer day at the Empty Common Community Garden

On the 15th of July, a local company sent volunteers to the garden; a lot was completed on the day!

Relocation of wild garlic


Wild garlic was relocated into the shaded bed near the compost toilet and some pendulous sedge was planted to replace the garlic. Charlotte thinks the garlic will be a good ground cover for the bed.


The creation of the hazel barrier

A hazel barrier was made, in order to prevent people cutting through our bike rack area. We want to plant a ground cover plant there, such as ivy.



Windows were sanded and painted for the meeting hut and panels were made from pallets to cover our wood storage space, so we can lock it up.


     As well as this, some of the volunteers dug a drainage trench around the base of the meeting hut. This was filled with hardcore, followed by gravel. 
Finally, a wildlife wood pile was created for ground beetles and hopefully stag beetles too! Stag beetles are found in the southern area of England, especially around woodland areas. However, they are also sometimes found in gardens that have a lot of trees.

The group of excellent volunteers

    We are definitely all impressed by the group's hard work.