2011/06/25 Northside Garden Meeting Notes

Notes presented by Flavia
Present were Flavia, Ardis, Phyllis, Barbara, DeAnna, Michael, Elizabeth, Shawn, Robin, Deborah, Larry, Dan, Laura, Nina, Leslie, Margaret, Sonya, and Michelle. We had a light agenda, and a lot of good input was shared and discussed! 

Meeting agenda:

1. Shady garden plots, submitted by Laura 
2. Update on the city oak tree pruning, submitted by Ardis and Robin
3. Rat in compost; rats around gardens, submitted by Michelle
4. Broken concrete, bricks, assorted broken pieces of wood and various other debris around garden, submitted by Robin and Elizabeth
5. Update on progress of proposed flower garden, submitted by Robin
6. Ideas of where to transplant roses that are presently in planters in front of cob shed, submitted by Nina
7. Planting and upkeep of the small street garden space, submitted by Elizabeth

Laura began discussion of shady plots in the garden. Suggestion of dedicating one plot as “shade plot” for gardeners who wish to plant shade-tolerant plants. Garden members noted that garden members often change plots, and have different planting needs that change with the seasons and from year to year, so that people are able to move to a sunnier plot fairly easily; there is no way to have all the plots be equal in terms of sun, shade, or size. (Nina, Shawn, and Elizabeth contributed to this discussion)

Leslie asked Sonya about update on city oak tree trimming.
The oak tree is now is serious need of major trimming, as it causes a lot of shade to Ardis’ and Sonya’s plots, and too much shade to Dan and Laura’s plot as well.
Sonya’s husband knows the manager, so she will have her husband ask the manager to set a date for trimming of the oak tree. 
Ardis had received a phone call back from the city of Berkeley, and was told that they would come within three weeks, but we need to remind them, or request the trimming again, as in the past they have come very late. 
Leslie raised question of the legality of our hiring someone to do the trimming, or of doing it ourselves. We also need to obtain tree trimming estimates; Nina volunteered to obtain the estimates; Leslie can recommend her tree pruner. 
It was agreed that we would wait to hear back from the city of Berkeley by the first or second week of July, before making a decision about hiring someone.
A vote was taken on whether to use the garden funds to hire a tree trimmer if the city of Berkeley does not come through. Majority voted in favor of using garden funds for this purpose. (Sonya, Michael, Nina, Laura contributed to this discussion)

Leslie began discussion about using the space near the pumpkin patch, closest to chain link fence, for growing tomatoes.
Is there room there for tomato plants? Should this be decided for next spring/summer?
It was suggested that priority could be given to those gardeners with shady plants; or that all gardeners could grow tomatoes, with a limit of two plants per person.
A vote was taken with the majority in favor of using that area next spring and summer for growing communal tomato plants. All those gardeners interested in growing tomatoes should let the Steering Committee know by April or May of next year. (Leslie, Michael, Elizabeth, Nina contributed to this discussion)

Rats in garden and compost:
Elizabeth asked nurses she had met at a Peralta garden event about possible diseases spread by rats in the garden; they said there is no serious danger of disease from the rats seen in the garden, and that there is no way to keep them completely out of the gardens.
What rats are exposed to determines what they spread; these are not sewer rats, but roof rats. Those gardeners who are concerned about spread of disease would like to be sure however, that we do everything possible to discourage rats in the garden. It will be necessary for all Northside gardeners to continue to be very careful about what we put in the compost bins:

NO cooked foods, egg shells, meat or meat bones, bread, baked goods, or dairy products!

It is also important for us to keep the compost damp, and anyone who wants to add water to compost from time should do it; it is already being turned regularly. (Shawn, Leslie, Laura, and Dan contributed to this discussion)

Concrete, bricks, broken pieces of wood and debris in garden:
At the work party just prior to meeting, all the concrete, bricks, wood, and other assorted debris around garden was gathered up and placed in front of the garden fence on sidewalk, for free pickup.
Phyllis will be posting notices to craigslist and freecycle for people to pick up. 
Elizabeth got an estimate on the cost of a hauler for this pickup, should we be left with some or all of this debris; estimate was around $350.
It was the consensus that we would like it to be picked up as soon as possible, as it is a trip hazard, as well as being unsightly to the neighbors.
Shawn suggested we wait two weeks (until July 11) and then call a hauler for pickup. All agreed. 
A vote was taken on whether we should have a limit of $250 to pay for the hauler – vote in favor.
(*As of 7/3, there is still some of this out in front on Northside Garden, so we may need to relist one of the postings.)

Robin opened discussion of a flower garden in the cactus/Yucca tree area to the right of the cob shed, near the Yucca tree. Suggestion was made that the Yucca tree be removed. At the last garden meeting a vote was in favor of removing this tree.
The tree has very strong, very deep roots, and could be difficult to remove.
Questions now raised: Do we still want this tree removed? Do we need to hire someone to remove it?
It was also suggested we plant fruit trees in this area.
Are we allowed to plant permanent trees in the garden? Peralta garden has some permanent trees. Several garden members agreed that more research needs to be done about this, and about Yucca tree removal.
It is a good drought resistant plant, and we generally want to keep such plants, and California native plants, in the garden near the cob shed
Consensus was that we cannot move ahead with plans to plant any permanent trees until we know whether we have the go ahead to do so by the city. 
A vote was taken on whether or not to plant native plants in the cactus garden/Yucca tree area – majority voted in favor of doing so. (Shawn and Ardis contributed to this discussion.)

Transplanting roses to the area against the chain link fence, behind the pumpkin patch, just to the right of the third compost bin:

Nina volunteered to handle all the transplanting of the roses, if gardeners are in favor of having this done. The roses will not require any extra watering this summer into fall, since the pumpkin patch will be watered regularly. Only three or four roses were suggested for the transplanting; one of which is a climbing rose. 
Vote was taken; majority in favor of the transplanting of three roses to this area. Nina will begin this next week (or first week of July)
Margaret raised her concern about shade from these roses to her plot. Michael and Elizabeth said that Elizabeth’s plot – to the immediate right of Margaret’s – gets lots of shade from the next door neighbor’s house, and from the plants that have grown on the fence, yet Elizabeth has not found shade to be a problem to her plants, many of which need lots of sun.
Question raised: Who will be keeping the roses cut back? 
Nina emphasized that the roses could be contained since roses are cut back in November; shade from the roses will then not be a problem. Also they will be planted at least a few feet to the left of Margaret’s plot, and kept regularly pruned to keep them from growing further to the right. (Margaret and Michelle contributed to this discussion)

Sidewalk garden:
There is a small sidewalk garden at the curve of the sidewalk, behind the cob shed. Elizabeth has been maintaining this small patch of garden in the past. It is currently in need of some “refreshing”. Suggestion of planting California Sage, which is a native plant, drought resistant, and a good choice for this oft neglected little garden area. Quick vote was taken as to whether Elizabeth could go ahead and plant the California Sage; majority in favor.

Larry asked about a straw bale. It could be kept by the BART fence. All agreed that would be a good area for it.

Elizabeth and Robin have been discussing the idea of a garden/neighborhood barbecue. A Weber grill has been donated to the Northside garden, which will be stored in the cob shed, to the left, near the shelves. All gardeners are welcome to use it. 
A potluck garden barbecue will be planned for sometime in August, date/time TBA.

Thanks to all for your contributions and hard work in the garden. Happy gardening!

~Flavia
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