Alameda Backyard Growers

According to “The Super Bowl of Beekeeping” an article by Jaime Lowe in the Aug. 9, New York Times Magazine, “About one in every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination.” While local gardeners may not be feeding the world from here in Alameda, the Island City does have a farming history and it does host a lot of fruit trees.  

So providing pollen for bees, which is essential for the growth of seeds and fruits, is a big deal. Whatever the size garden, there are many ways gardeners can help promote, protect and feed our precious pollinators. 

Summer is an especially wonderful time to enjoy fresh produce. Tomatoes, green beans, peaches and berries all beckon us to enjoy them. 

But fresh produce spoils more quickly than other food. So summer is a good time to talk about preventing food from going to waste. 

It’s hard to believe, but 40 percent of all food produced in the United States is wasted. We can do something to change this, because 43 percent of all food wasted in the U.S. is wasted by households. Simple changes can reduce wasted food and return nutrients back to the soil by composting food scraps. 

Becoming involved in Project Pick was the main reason I decided to join Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) back in 2010.

While driving around town (in my electric car) I had always noticed how many fruit trees we have in Alameda. Everywhere you look there are trees loaded with many unpicked lemons, oranges, apples or persimmons, depending on the season. Alameda trees also produce plums, figs, loquats and avocados — an amazing bounty of delicious food. 

Powdery mildew may well win the race for “most common problem in Alameda food gardens.”  Here’s what happens. 

Although the city of Alameda and Bay Farm Island historically had considerable farm land, and still have some large yards, many of us live in multifamily units that, at best, have small patios or balconies. With some thought and planning, these areas can still provide adequate space for gardening. 

As Alameda’s deciduous fruit trees have come out of dormancy, passers-by might be forgiven for having simply enjoyed the beauty of their blossoms, unaware of the dynamic little miracle advancing the tree’s true mission. In super-slow-motion and from the ground up, reproduction takes place in the form of juicy, sugar-laden fruit. With the help of a root system in a new cycle of growth, and the process of winterstored sap being drawn up into every reach of the tree, flower and foliage growth are thus ensured.

The impending return of the drought presents challenges for Alameda gardeners. Fortunately, there are some ways to mitigate the impact, protect the soil and save water. Soil is key here. Healthy soil is alive with billions of organisms per cubic inch and it is vital that it remain that way so that it can support plant life in future, rainier years. This means keeping it moist through the summer whether it is used to grow plants or left fallow. 

There should be some more rains coming, so plan on implementing a few of the following tactics to save water and protect soil:

It’s bareroot fruit tree season! Many fruit trees can be successful in Alameda if planted now, but there are pitfalls when choosing both a suitable tree and the best spot to plant it. 

In the spirit of Alameda Backyard Growers’ (ABG) 2018 initative “A Year of Sustainable Gardening” we’d like to share some of what we’ve learned over the years growing fruit in Alameda.

Join Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) as they kick off their “Year of Sustainable Gardening” for a free screening of filmmaker Mark Kitchell’s new film: Evolution of Organic at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11, at Rhythmix Cultural Works.

The film tells the story of organic agriculture, told by those who built the movement. By now organic has gone mainstream, split into an industry oriented toward bringing organic to all people and a movement that has realized a vision of sustainable agriculture. 

 

The local group dedicated to helping people start and maintain their gardens, Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG), has a workshop to help “Start Your Gardening Year off Right” scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17, from 7 to 8 p.m. Alameda gardeners Cynthia LaCroix and Linda Carloni will lead the session at Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave.

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