Monday, 22 June 2015

Empty Common Garden in June

Yesterday I joined the volunteers for some weeding with my daughter in tow and took my camera with me to take pictures of what the Empty Common Garden looks like on the first weekend of Summer. We didn't have a great start to the Summer season as Saturday was quite rainy, but the garden enjoyed it as it has been a bit dry of late.

As you can see everything has grown quite well, with not too much snail damage. Unfortunately the weeds are growing too but volunteers have been coming during the week to keep them under control and the garden looked lovely. You might not see it in the pictures, but it was a sunny Sunday, with just a few clouds for the sun to play hide and seek.

All is well in the polytunnel, with tomato plants shooting up and in flower. All supporting stakes have been topped with an old tennis ball to prevent their sharp ends tearing the polytunnel's plastic cover.

It's quite warm inside it, as warm as in a greenhouse. The alpine strawberries outside are a bit late but they are coming along.

Aside the veggies, we have some pretty flowers in the raised beds, including sunflowers. Last year they achieved an impressive height and it would be nice to see these giants raise their big yellow heads above the rest again.

If you want to join us, read the first post, the one with the map and the contact email.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Our first 'homegrown' salad social!

The Sunday before last, all volunteers gathered to eat the first communal salad of the year. In the salad bowl they mixed homegrown lettuce, nasturtium leaves, land cress, radish and parsley. 

It was a lovely, sunny day, unlike yesterday and our very wet Saturday, which can be disappointing for us people craving summer sunshine, but it is good for the garden!

Many of us are thinking about making elderflower cordial, which is a widely available plant here in Cambridge, growing in many gardens and public spaces.

Elderflower heads, picture from Wikipedia

If you spot some blooms near where you live and want to have a go, I recommend this easy Elderflower cordial recipe, courtesy of BBC Good Food. Feel free to leave links to your own favourite recipe or share a family one...

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Happy composting in June: hints & tips

Composting in action & BBQ whatever the weather!
In a big open space, you run out of composting bins pretty soon, so here is how we are doing our composting this year. First we use straw, scrunched-up newspaper, bubble-wrap bits and plastic bottles pushed into the gaps in the pallet, which makes up the sides of our container. 

These help to insulate the heap and keep it warm, but they are loosely packed in order to let the air in. We then start making our biomass 'lasagne' with alternate layers of straw, pulled-up weeds, cut comfrey and nettles all watered in with really smelly drowning fluid and sludge from the drowned horsetail and bindweed bins. 

The whole heap is covered with two old sleeping mats to keep it warm and to keep the rain out. This is a great use of materials that are usually discarded - it gives them an extra lease of life.

To finish off, we cover the front of our heap with some twinwall roofing to insulate it and add another pallet to hold it in. 

Now we are waiting for it to cook. The weather is getting much warmer...