Castle Garden in May

I was given a few plants – a nice meaty tomato, and a winter squash – and went to plant them in the garden in Castle Row. Last time I went was in the winter – and it looked a bit dead and unkept. Now it is beautiful and lush:


There are many little patches of good stuff. Strawberries at the front, that Italian herb which I think is marjoram, three stalks of fennel are coming up, the rosemary bush. Many different aromas and colours.

The rest of the cover are non-edible plants native to the Cambridge area. They’re not really a problem, much better than naked soil, and we can pretend we’re doing polyculture. Nothing really dominates, probably because we’ve pulled out lots of alkanet with James before it flowered.

The trees are doing well, I think the optimistic future of this garden are large towering fruit trees, known to every local pear-eating child. This is a hazel:


I am also a fan of these raspberries. They’re flowering, there’s a buzz around them, and in this picture I have managed to snap a particularly good bee:



We’ve planted this last time as well. Very healthy mint!


It still puzzles me what the last gardener wanted to do – the barrel had a heavy porcelain thing on top of the soil, I think it was meant to crowd out the weeds and grow stuff in the gaps but the main result was that the soil was very compacted. The barrel had nothing growing in it and was full of weeds. We’ve removed the thing from the top, emptied the barrel, put the turf upside down, put some soil from the middle above the turf, and planted the mint. Feel free to borrow the upside-down-turf trick as an alternative to weeding, works every time, you just need to start with a garden in a barrel.

The mint took, it’s definitely going to crowd out anything else in the pot – I took the picture before doing anything to the pot, and you can see there wasn’t really anything to weed. Now I can rely on it to be there for years and years. If there’s ever a heatwave that comes and kills a mint plant planted in half-shade over a metre of top quality soil, I will probably have bigger things to worry about.

The Missing Sock garden in March

Rosie and Jo were leading gardening there, and the past posts are full of really beautiful pictures. Then they got a bit discouraged because the rabbits were eating everything up, and the last time they gardened there was in January 2018. We went to see what the space is like now.

It’s pretty wild. The Missing Sock crew are looking after it a tiny bit – they say they mowed it from knee height in November.


The trees and bushes are growing beautifully, and will be giving value to whoever comes there in the summer.


Some anti-rabbit techniques applied in the space haven’t worked very well. For example, when we came in, we have chased out out a rabbit from a caged area which was supposed to deny them entry. Fences don’t work very well against burrowing animals, do they. This anti-rabbit technique of protecting saplings by plastic tubes has worked very well though:


Jo and Rosie planted rhubarb in the space, and it’s still there, it was very cool to find it coming out of the ground. I thought it was chard at first.


Raspberry plant:


Apart from that, the place is full of nettles. This is, from a certain perspective, very good: it means garden is full of food from February until April (when they flower, they’re no good any more) in an otherwise barren part of the year. Nettles are of high nutritional value ( Adhikari et al. , 2016 ) and make excellent smoothies when blended very well. Blanching or cooking removes the sting fully, and they can be used like spinach: in pasta, or curry dishes.

Also, it may not be entirely clear – it wasn’t to me before I went- but the garden is open for entry, you have to open a knee high gate and go around. If you go there do say hi to whoever is looking after the Sock – we spoke with Michael, but he and Roxa will be moving on from there in a bit – and if you want to e.g. take a whole bag of nettles for cooking you are very welcome to do it.

Castle Garden in the winter

I went to see the garden on Castle Street. It’s not that hidden, but it definitely feels a bit magical to find it. When I was there I also met Ana, living in a house just next to it, who saw the garden keep growing over the years.

the trees have grown to about two metres tall. Ana says the plum tree didn’t bear much fruit this year due to an illness.

One of the neighbours has put in the raspberries three years ago, they have spread out nicely and bear fruit in the summer. I heard of a few more people periodically looking after the garden over the years apart from us, apparently including some guy who was into rewilding and thought it would be the coolest to see what happens with the place without human intervention.

There was apparently also a property developer interested in it, who applied to buy the land from the council and build flats there. He got rejected because there’s a community garden in the space.

This is how it looks like in January:


This guy is a champion in gardens without human intervention. It’s a weed, but flowers blue in the spring, and it currently keeps large patches green quite nicely, so I didn’t pull it out. It’s also interesting that it does so well there: it has one long thick root and a low base, which keeps it really firm in the (quite rocky) soil.



There are also a few herbs going strong in the garden. One (of the Italian ones, I’m sorry dear Internet to be failing you here but I don’t recognise it by name, I don’t use it in my cooking) forms an entire bush, and I have also found a single onion plant.

All in all, a beautiful place that will keep on giving us stuff. We’ll probably come for an event and plant a few more perennials this year, I am also considering some infrastructure for composting, to steadily build up the soil. Ana mentioned she’ll be planting onions in the corner, I’m all for it.

Romsey fruit aisle on Wycliffe Road cleanup

The space was completely overgrown. The blackberry bush from the other side of the fence has spread over to our side and there was other growth of great magnitude and variety.

I’ve cut quite a bit of the bush from the other side of the fence to give the space more sunlight.

Then I have removed all the plants I didn’t like. It looks like I don’t like most plants because this was the result:

20181111_123725-3 20181111_123725-0

There are a few raspberries – quite tiny, they’re not doing great – and currants. The currants struggled in the undergrowth but they are healthy, this one is the biggest:


I reckon the space is not worth much effort, but it’s worth some effort. It’s by a fence and under trees so it’s always going to be quite shady. On the other hand, there was already a lot of work put in there, and it does not take much to keep it going.

I think the currants can cope now. They should give a handful of fruit, and we can also propagate them in the space – through cuttings, or by rooting branches – and plant them somewhere cool.

Fruit trees in Romsey

I came there with a friend following a map and we really weren’t sure we’re at the right spot, it looks like that:

Romsey site

The dot on the map shows it well but otherwise it’s not easy to see that the bushes by the fence may be of any interest 🙂


I was lost and looking around for signs, and then finally there was one, it said currant bush:

Romsey site sign on the currant bush


The other bushes have no signs and it’s all quite overgrown and messy. It’s also very salvageable – the site is not trashed, and importantly the bushes are in good health and they have grown for quite a few years now so they can have lots of fruit if we give them a chance.


We’ll have an event to tidy up the site later this year – just remove stuff that’s overgrowing the bushes, maybe scatter woodchips around bushes so that the weeds don’t grow and it looks more intentional. Do let wojtek<at> know if you’re interested!

Ashley court garden

The site is by the Blue Moon pub, next to a nice lawn. I’ve been passing by many times, and never noticed there’s an edible garden there!


Everything’s in rude health. Clean, no weeds, clearly somebody cares. The mint is growing particularly well, there’s plenty under the bush here:



I also saw other herbs. Chive is cut down pretty low, somebody harvested it recently – it’s a small, round and dense patch of chive so probably somebody bought a living pot in a supermarket and planted it there there.


Do have some mint tea if you’re from the area before it dies off for the winter 🙂 And high five if it’s you who was looking after the space!

Co-creation of our George IV street site!

We won’t garden there any more. The space didn’t really work out – Sandra told me the compost was full of dandelion seeds that they always had to weed. It’s around a tree, in the shade, just next to the dumpster, and we did nothing there for a while. We can always return, but for now I made an executive decision to cease activity, and packed up the sign.

We’re not even needed there 🙂 There’s already a thriving, beautiful edible garden in the communal area of the estate.

The sign says, Hanover & Princess Court Community garden:

Hanover and Princess court


Margaret Wright orchard in the autumn

I took a friend to see how the orchard is doing and take some photos. It’s being looked after. There was freshly cut grass in the compost, and the leftover apples got tidied up.

Margaret wright orchard October 2018

Margaret Wright orchard Abbey apple trees

There are some unused beds, without much soil and mostly overgrown. I’ve cleared up one to plant winter wheat. I’ve asked my friend to thresh the grain – I’m not sure if it actually helps, maybe putting it in the ground with the husks is actually better!  – and I’ve weeded the bed, and brought lots of compost in. I’ve filled up the bottom of the bed with stuff – twigs first, then some fresh compost that I didn’t have to dig, then the good compost with soil on top.

Then we’ve sowed the seeds in two rows.