Alameda Backyard Growers

 

Project Tree was created in 2016 when the publishers of the Alameda Sun, alarmed at the decline of Alameda’s urban canopy post-drought, offered Alameda Backyard Growers (ABG) $1,000 to buy and plant some trees. A fledgling program was designed to purchase and plant fruit and shade trees in private yards around town. Project Tree Phase 1 eventually proved itself a success by putting 34 new trees in Alameda soil.

 

Majestic stands of Live Oak trees once thrived on Alameda, along with willows and other species. Development and the passage of time have taken many historic trees, but some remain and many have been replaced, as Alameda values its urban forest. Designated a Tree City USA in 2011, Alameda protects its oaks and other heritage trees by restricting their removal. 
But more trees are needed. Adding trees to Alameda and protecting current trees improves our environment and our well-being: 

Though nurseries offer a great selection of tomato plants in the spring, anybody wanting to try an obscure variety will need to start ahead of time from seed — now is not too early to begin planning for indoor tomato seed sprouting. Alameda Backyard Growers’ informal tomato growing team always gets busy just after the New Year sowing unusual varieties for Alameda’s Earth Day Festival the following April. Requests for tomato-starting pointers abound. In the spirit of giving, those pointers are presented here.

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:

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