1st Neighborhood Garden Open-House!

Yesterday I hosted the first, of which hopefully becomes a regular event, neighborhood garden open house. It was nothing formal, just a get-together of other amateur gardeners like me. The purpose was to share ideas and gardening expertise with others and create an engaged community of people with similar interests. While meeting with many people who decided to stop by, a few common topics came up which I would like to make available to everyone here:

  1. How to deal with those pesky gophers: It seems that many people are having trouble with gophers attacking their garden and ruining crop yields. Gophers, being subterranean creatures, go for mostly root plants. Many of my onions were being attacked at the roots and the entire bottom of the bulb was being eaten. The gophers only seemed to be interested in the onions, so for the sake of my other plants, I didn’t harvest the onion, fearing that if the gophers no longer had onions, they would begin to attack my other plants. Well, it seems that it is too late for this sort of thought, as this morning I discovered that they had gotten to one of my beefsteak tomato plants. One of a few solutions that came up was using small noise emitters that can be placed in the dirt to scare the critters away. Among the group of people who came, the success rate seemed to be quite low, so this method is probably not the best course of action. A few people who stopped by had either cats or dogs which seemed to do the trick. Having a pet roam the backyard is most likely an effective way to keep away squirrels and gophers. To keep birds away from fruits that are high up in a tree, maybe try investing in a falcon or hawk. Another idea is keeping pieces of gum near the roots of your plants. Rodents will likely eat them and it will clog their stomach, which should reduce their appetite. If you are really fed up with gophers and morality is no longer a concern, poison pellets can be sprinkled around the garden.
  2. What can be grown in Fremont?: The issue with the native soil in Fremont is that it is very clay rich. VERY clay rich. No, seriously…it is pretty much all clay. This means that before growing anything, you should try and make your own soil. I have published a guide on my blog (Starting a Garden) which will take you through the necessary steps. This soil mix should ensure a nutrient rich medium as well as be easy to turn once you have harvested. Clay-rich soil can be very difficult to dig up and turns into an absolute nightmare once is it watered; it becomes extremely dense and hard to work with. Now, this is California, so mostly anything can be grown. Our summers get quite warm, but not too hot, so most sun-loving crops will do just fine. Feel free to try your hand with tomatoes, corn, spinach, watermelons, cucumbers, etc. Just be sure to water them when you have ample sunlight, maybe even twice a day. California winters aren’t too cold for gardening either. Lettuce, onions, garlic, carrots, and many leafy greens are only some of a few plants that can  be grown.
  3. Composting is great!: If you haven’t already, you should make it a point to start composting. This way, not only do you reduce the amount of food you waste, but you can get a free soil additive. Simply add fruits, vegetables, peat moss, and earthworms into some sort of bin and in some time, fertile compost should be ready  for you to add to your soil.

Hopefully I can make this into a once-a-month event, as the turnout was good and everyone learned a lot from each other.



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