Sustainable Gardening

Fig Propagation and Garden Tour – Jun 20

Please join ABG for a very special event, the first of our “off site” summer season.  Jasmine Tokuda, a very successful Alameda grower of fruit trees and vines, both common and rare, is opening her garden for the evening. Jasmine will describe and demonstrate her technique for propagating fig trees through air-layering.  Jasmine will then lead a tour of her garden, giving us a peek into her tips and tricks for growing those varieties that challenge us in Alameda.

We invite attendees to stay for potluck and live music after the demo and tour. Because of the size of the garden, attendance is limited.  Preregistration is required at
If the event is already full when you try to sign up, please email to be put on the waiting list.

Street parking is extremely difficult, and carpooling is encouraged.  If you are disabled or are coming in a carpool of 3 or more, email at least three days in advance, and we’ll arrange for nearby parking.

Vertical Gardening Techniques for Fruits and Vegetables

Monday, August 10, 2015 (6:30 – 7:30 PM)
Rhythmix Cultural Works, 2513 Blanding Ave, Alameda

Learn about growing edibles on the Up and Up: Vertical Gardening Techniques for Fruits and Vegetables with Claire Splan, author of “California Fruit and Vegetable Gardening”.

Looking for a way to fit some more fruit trees in your yard?  Squash taking over your garden?  Join us for an informative and entertaining presentation on how to use your vertical space to increase and diversify your garden’s production.

About the speaker:  Claire Span is an Alameda native, enthusiastic gardener, noted speaker and author of with the 2014 award-wining California Month by Month Gardening, as well as California Fruit and Vegetable Gardening.  She shares with us a deep appreciation for the joys of gardening in sandy soil and a Mediterranean climate.

Click here for a PDF handout of Claire’s talk.

Drought gardening: tips for growing food

As we head into what could become an epochal drought, despite recent welcome rains, vegetable gardeners are feeling the uncertainty. Will water restrictions snuff out the salad garden, bash beans and thwart tomato dreams?

We do know that it is typical for Central California to have great variations in annual rainfall. Our location between a wetter north and a desert south puts us at the mercy of small shifts in weather. Those of us who were living in California during the mid-’70s drought, which is about half the number of people living here now, remember the anxiety and water restrictions then. That drought did end, as did some smaller droughts later. But if climate change is under way, who knows how this one will turn out? While we can’t know what is in store, we can plan this year’s garden with care.

By all accounts, we’ve been, overall, very good at saving water in recent decades. Now it’s time to rededicate ourselves to conservation.

There are good reasons to grow your own vegetables and herbs. You can do so using much less water than the average large-scale farm; you save the Earth part of the carbon cost of transporting your food, and it will probably inspire you to eat more vegetables.

Read more tips on drought gardening from the original article in the SF Chronicle (February 2014) here.

‘Wattles’ – Thinking Outside the Box

acga_wattlesby Ron Limoges, ABG Board Member

“Wattles” were featured at the American Community Gardening Association’s display at the San Francisco Flower and Garden Show held in San Mateo from March 19th through 23rd. Wattles are made with rice straw bound into a tube with twine. Most of us are familiar with these items (though we may not know they were called “wattles”) because they are used extensively to provide erosion control on construction sites, especially along new roadways, and are designed to keep sediments and debris from entering the drainage system.

Wattles can be purchased at most home improvement stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s) for about $1.25 per foot and usually come in 25 foot sections. By shaping the tube into an oval and filling with a mix of compost and soil, they provide an instant, and very cheap, eight-foot-long “raised” gardening plot. Wattles can also be stacked for a deeper garden bed. Their flexibility also allows them to be formed into spirals for a planting area with a different shape and more depth.

Wattles are a natural product and will last about three years before they decompose. You can place new wattles on top of the old ones as they compress, holding the stack together with stakes or rebar or you can break up the old ones and recycle them in your compost bin.