Garden Buddies

MaryClare James--Meg harvesting sugar snap peas.

Garden Buddies

There was a time in my past when I had to concede that my home was a hospice for the unfortunate plants that caught my eye and came home with me. I never intended for them to have such a short lifespan, but I just didn’t have a good plan for their continued prosperity. In some ways those plants represented all my wishes of what I wanted to have flourish around me.

One of my gardening dreams started to come true when, at the Alameda Backyard Growers Tomato Tasting in September 2011, I met a woman who became my garden buddy. The tomato tasting was a delightful event with a lot of yummy tomatoes, but my favorite souvenir was meeting Meg Easling, who at that time did not have space at her condo for a backyard garden. She had gone to that event looking for someone who might have some space for a garden and could use some support. That was me. Amazingly enough, I showed her my Bermuda grass-filled backyard and she thought that would be just fine.

As is reflected in the title of this article, I am sharing information about garden buddies. Often when starting a new activity or project we are encouraged to get the support of another person or group. The input of another person with their time, energy, visions, and knowledge can be a perfect addition to developing and maintaining a backyard garden.

Our backyard garden became a blend of various ideas and concepts of what we wanted to try. I remember feeling more adventurous and intrigued with trying new things since I had Meg’s input and ideas. We grew squash, yacón, tomatillos, asparagus, thyme, sugar snap peas, potatoes, and tomatoes.

Meg also had a plot at a community garden. Our garden, since it was in my backyard, had a little more security. Without Meg, I don’t know that I would have ever really started a backyard garden.

I found that even weeding was more fun when she was there. I greatly enjoy the synergy that can be found in working with others. Also, it was very nice to have extra help with the watering, especially if I was going to be out of town.

Shortly after we started gardening together Meg asked me if I’d be interested in having bees in my backyard. At that time, I wanted to get our garden established and I told her that would be our Plan B, pun intended.

Following May 2012 when Meg learned of a friend who needed more space for his hives, she helped us make the connection and I’ve had bees in my backyard since then. With Meg’s suggestion I have those bees, my own crew of pollinators.
A few years ago, Meg moved to Sonoma and obviously we’re not doing backyard gardening together now, but she definitely got me started on it.
My backyard garden currently includes cilantro, arugula, asparagus, onions, sage, tomatillos, kale, sugar snap peas, and some up-and-coming tomatoes.

Garden buddies can be inspiring. Possible garden buddy connections could be made at Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) events including the ABG Plant Sale on April 23 at 1453 Webster St. from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Alameda Backyard Growers is dedicated to teaching neighbors how to grow food. During this difficult time, ABG’s education program has moved online. Visit ABG at / to join their mailing list to receive our educational newsletters and information on classes and events, locate the Free Seed Library nearest you, or join Project Pick as a fruit picker or fruit donor.

MaryClare James    Meg planting a yacón in our garden.