Raspberries at CACG

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bench In The Making

A few photos, with thanks, for the Natural Building class students from Diablo Valley College (DVC).
The mix. Still 1 part clay to one and a half parts sand with a handful of straw

Late afternoon on Sunday September 28th the bench was uncovered, wetted down, scored a little then added to.
The sticks were added for strength as the bench back was added. It is a little more tricky to pack in the cob around the sticks.
The teacher Bethalyn Black on the left

Only two batches of mix could be added at this time. Drying time is necessary. Our playtime ended with the covering of the newly laid cob. There is an intention to continue, and perhaps complete, the back of the bench next Sunday afternoon October 5th at 4:00pm. Please feel free to come and watch or participate.
Until next week!

Next Saturday October 4th 2014 at CACG

Fall Crops.

At 9:00am we are going to do some cool season planting in the "Joy" raised bed.
Come and join us to learn about what can be planted in our area at this time of the year.
This a an informal sharing of information with a chance to get our hands dirty.
We will also talk about cover crops.

This is a photo of the "Freedom" raised bed at CACG
In it you can see: Squash flowers, Oregon Sugar Snap peas that needed picking yesterday, carrots and Tomatillo

Tractor Aid

We need a pro bono diesel mechanic, or a very discounted one.
Our Beloved Terry Murtha, pastor at the First Baptist Church of Pacheco, just happens to own a Ford 545A with a loader. Known as Mr Ford this helpful machine has been a tremendous help in moving tree chips and compost etc. at the garden. Last year, while moving tree chips, it had a fire around the started motor. Some hoses and electrical wires were damaged.
 Mr Ford is out of commission now and we miss him! Too much moving of materials by wheel barrow burns out volunteers quickly. It might well be that the damage is not too serious. We could fund parts. We just need an experienced eye to survey the damage and possibly make a repair.
This is Terry on Mr Ford during the early stages of CACG development in August 2010
If you are able to offer some Tractor Aid please call me at 925 286 7225
Thank You.


Monday, September 22, 2014

CAT Lover

On September 20th 2014 an enthusiastic group of 13 garden supporters and one Cat moved 70+ cu. yds. of tree chips to mulch the whole CACG.

It was no small feat the we were able to cover the whole garden.
Here is a typical "Before" photo

One area along Flame Drive "After"

Some areas were sheet mulched. Some of the perimeter will need plant replacements when the rain comes.

Cardboard thanks to Trader Joes on Concord Ave.

There was a pot luck lunch ...


As the afternoon went on we were able to clean out some of the vegetable beds that have been fallow over the summer.
It was uplifting and inspiring to see so many smiling, dusty faces working away on a Saturday morning. Many of the volunteers had come from a garden project at home, or were going back to one. Still they offered their time and energy to the enhancement and wellbeing of our community garden.
It was such a joy to witness and I hold much appreciation and gratitude for the day.
Amazed and Happy David

Thank you to:

My beloved partner Tess for calling many tree companies to ask for free tree chips. Also coordinating the food component.

Delivery of Tree Chips.
This is not a super busy time for tree companies. Tree chips are only available when they are working on trimming or removing trees. We did receive free chips from. Bartlett Tree Experts.  Hamilton Tree Service. C&W Tree Service and Traverso Tree Company. Thank you all!

Cresco Equipment Rentals in Pleasant Hill.
They created a huge discount for the CAT 226 skid steer loader that we rented for the day.
I've been working with them for years. They have a very knowledgeable and attentive staff that are courteous and friendly. They become like working partners. I could say much more but perhaps the best way to close is to add that I go out of my way to rent with them. I highly recommend them for equipment rentals.

If all this gifting and coming together of community was not enough ...

The skid steer loader was delivered, returned and paid for by Tim Shelton. Tim lives one block away from CACG and has been a major contributor to the garden this year. Thank you Tim for your generosity in the use of your truck, your financial support and your back in spreading chips all day.

Oh and one more!

Our water bill for CACG was $106 for the two month period ending Sept. 14th 2014.
Terry Murtha, pastor at the First Baptist Church of Pacheco, paid the whole amount. Thank you Terry and Triva.

Crop Swap

This Wednesday Sept 24th at CACG. Please see right side panel for more details.

You might also be interested in:


Toby Hemenway Talk in Benicia

TOBY HEMENWAY, the author of “Gaia’s Garden: A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture” is coming to Benicia!
This Friday, September 26, 6 pm, Benicia High School Auditorium
Toby will explain permaculture and how you can apply principles of permaculture to one backyard or to the entire community. He will both inform and inspire!. For more information on Toby Hemenway: http://www.patternliteracy.com. The event is sponsored by Benicia Community Gardens. http://beniciacommunitygardens.org/Benicia_Community_Gardens/Welcome.html



Local Hands-on Water Harvesting Workshop

Saturday, October 11 - 10am - 3pm $45
Private Residence, Martinez/Pleasant Hill

Learn more and register (space is limited):
We can catch the rain!! The myth of California being too dry is gone.  There is an abundance of water and that water falls on your roof every winter.  It takes just 1" of rain on a 1000 sq ft house to catch over 600 gallons of water.  We'll teach you how.
Join Rootstock Permaculture, Sustainable Contra Costa & Pleasant Hill Green Team as we build a water harvesting system from BlueBarrel Rainwater Catchment Systems using recycled, food grade barrels. You'll learn what it takes to harvest water in small spaces, from sizing and placement to actually installing a water harvesting system.
In this workshop at a Martinez/Pleasant Hill, CA residence, participants will work together to build a 4-barrel (220 gallon!) BlueBarrel System.  Everyone will use their hands.   Everyone will have fun!!

Tina King Neuhausel, President & Co-Founder
Sustainable Contra Costa | 925.979-5053

Thank you for reading all the way down to here !

Happy Autumnal Equinox.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Make A Seat

On Saturday September 6th 2014 an enthusiastic group of natural building students from DVC began the crafting of a cob bench at CACG.
Marking the site where the sand and clay were to be delivered

Digging a foundation down to the sandstone substrate
The group was led by seasoned and dedicated Permaculture teacher Bethallyn Black.
Bethallyn demonstrating mixing rice straw into the 1 part clay 1 1/2 parts sand mix
The sourcing of materials was mindfully executed to keep the carbon footprint as small as possible.
The sand came from a quarry on Mt. Diablo. The clay was surplus material from a landscaping project in Martinez. The broken concrete base material came from a local tear out. The straw  ... we're not too sure about, probably a little north of Sacramento.
Unloading broken concrete to use as base material

Mixing of the sand and clay with water takes place in a tarp
The mix is formed into balls

Moving finished balls to bench

"smushing" balls together

Two local chickens, who had nothing to do with the cobbing project at CACG, admiring a stone bench

Empty wine bottles added for artistic effect

A cobbing crowd

Above the bottle layer

Foot washing

David very happy to witness this long held dream for the garden taking shape

There is still a back to add to this bench but the cob needs to dry before we can elevate any more. A group of students will return at 9am on Friday September 12th to continue the project. All are welcome to watch or take part in the construction.

There is more to follow as the first ever cob bench at CACG takes shape.




Monday, September 1, 2014

When In Drought

Mulch Is Our Friend !

My 20 plus years as a professional gardener have highlighted the value of mulch in its many forms. I’m an advocate of mulching all planted areas with biodegradable material.

This serves multiple functions such as:

 Conserving moisture.

Seed saving in progress. Protection from birds feasting on selected heads

Mulched areas allow faster absorption of water into the soil and holds the moisture in the soil for a longer period. An example is to be found in the Center Avenue Community Garden. A self sown cover crop of Lemon Queen Sunflowers thrived through late July on land mulched with tree chips. These path areas received no water since the last of the meager winter rains of 2014. Adjacent fallow raised beds with no mulch cover or irrigation did not grow anything viable. Mulch slows evaporation from the soil surface. Most people could save 30% on their residential water usage with drip irrigation and a good layer of organic mulch.

Disease control

It prevents splashing of mud and certain plant disease organisms onto leaves and flowers.


Weed control

A layer of mulch smothers small weeds and prevents weed seed germination. Weeds that do grow through a layer of mulch are much easier to pull.


Erosion control

When in doubt cover it with mulch and decorate with people
Mulch breaks the force of a heavy rain event which can cause erosion, compaction and crusting.


Soil temperature moderation

Insulation from extreme variances of temperature. Sun, wind and freezing conditions have less impact on the delicate roots at the soil surface.



The homogenizing effect can be dramatic and offers a clean, tidy and contrasting appearance.


Soil structure

The humus resulting from the decay of mulch over time helps build a healthy soil structure allowing air and water movement. Decaying organic mulch on soil keeps both plants and beneficial soil life species flourishing so they can help each other.



In decay an organic mulch provides a wide range of plant nutrients not offered in hydrocarbon based purchased fertilizer. This slow release organic feast feeds bacteria and fungi, earthworms and other beneficial soil life. These useful actors process and make available plant nutrients that the plant roots cannot directly absorb.
"Mulch is our friend"

As a way of reducing our water usage at CACG we are currently only watering the lower row of raised beds, the fruit trees planted in 2013 and the perimeter planting.

Our current water bill for 2 months is $68.

Crop Swap

Held every 4th Wednesday of the month. 6:30 pm at 333 Center Ave. Pacheco Ca.
Some images from the August 27th 2014 Crop Swap.
You never know what might show up!

The monthly Crop Swap has become quite a social event. Some choose to stay and chat until sunset.
Colin's new gardening equipment
May we all enjoy a Labor Day of rest and celebration as we reflect, with appreciation, on the fall rains to come.
May your mulch stay moist!
925 286 7225