Sunday, 21 November 2021

Hut update and a visitor from New York


The roof has been started
The hut, surrounded by trees, is in a lovely spot

We had a visitor from New York who is involved in community gardening visiting us twice! Lenny Librizzi visited Empty Common back in 2018 - read the blog post of that visit here. He visited again this year and wrote this wonderful update - click here to see it. Both blog posts have some wonderful photos, thank you Lenny for your kind words and for spreading the news about our blog. 

Charlotte sent us some information about pollination to try next year. The Guardian has an interesting article on pollination of tomatoes and other members of the solanum family using an electric toothbrush. This article made her realise that they pollinate better when buzzed at. Charlotte explains: "We have our polytunnel closed off from the buzzy insects quite a lot of the time and from the breeze. Perhaps we should try it next year with our tomatoes, peppers, chillies and even aubergines. Another factor for good crops of the solanum family that I have just read about is to go for the smaller fruit varieties. I have noticed this with our tomatoes, but not thought about it for peppers and aubergines."

Something to think about and let's hope the roof is on the hut before winter strikes. It has been mild, with few frosts so far.


Sunday, 7 November 2021

November at ECCG - would you like to join us?



Remember our long-standing project of building a meeting hut? We tried in many ways and we have now raised money through different channels so we can have a building we can maintain and use with the help of our community of volunteers. As community groups soon find out, there are many grants out there, but some come with conditions that are not always possible to satisfy and commitments that are onerous to a small group of volunteers. 

Above are some photos of current progress, but of course there is so much to do. More photos are to come as our building, using a combination of new and salvaged materials, is taking shape.

ECCG was recently presented by Simone at a university society's meeting at Othersyde. Tzu Chi Cambridge is associated with the Tzu Chi Foundation, an international NGO and accredited observer of the United Nations' Environment Programme. The Cambridge branch, open to anyone who is interested in grass-root environmental projects, helps at a non-profit farm near Coldham Lane, has sessions in community gardens and tackles litter-picking in a number of Cambridge areas.

We are always looking for volunteers, if you want to join us, please read this post.

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!