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Class Descriptions

Urban Gardening
listed alphabetically



Pre-registration is required and exact location is given once you have registered.


Many classes will repeat if there is enough interest. If a class is past or you do not get in on time,
please contact us and we will let you know if another session is forming.
Classes are for age 12 and up unless otherwise indicated.



Backyard Mushroon Cultivation
Sunday October 25 1-5pm
Instructor: Jeremy Watts
Location: South Berkeley
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale

Dive into the magical world of Fungi. They are delicious, nutritious--they might even save the world! Mushrooms are known for their healing properties both as medicine for humans but also for the planet. They help plants uptake nutrients, clean-up toxic waste, compost entire clear cuts as have a host of other uses. In this class we'll focus on growing mushrooms, homestead-style! We'll learn which mushrooms can be most easily cultivated at home both indoors and out, the difference between spores and spawn and what materials different mushrooms thrive on. We'll explore a range of growing substrates such as straw, cardboard, coffee grounds, wood chips and logs. Working with either oyster, shiitake or wine cap mycellium, students will then make starter kits to take home.

Bare Root: Selection & Planting of Your Urban Orchard
Saturday February 21, 2015 2-4pm
Instructor:K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $30-60
sliding scale
Enjoy the amazing taste of fresh sun ripened fruit from your own backyard! This course will lead you through selection and planting and general care of fruit trees and berries., including consideration of site selection, planting techniques, tricks for maximizing fruit production in small spaces and best varieties for our East Bay climate.

Biochar for Soil Fertility and Eco-Resilience
Instructor:Paul Taylor
TBA Fall 2015
Location: Fruitvale
Cost: $40-70
sliding scale
Come learn about the multiple benefits of Biochar for home-scale gardeners and commercial and small-scale land use. Biochar is a 2,000 year-old practice that converts agricultural waste into a soil enhancer that can hold carbon, boost food security and mitigate climate change. The process creates a fine-grained, highly porous charcoal that helps soils retain nutrients and water. Biochar is found in soils around the world as a result of vegetation fires and native soil management practices. In this presentation Paul Taylor, author of The Biochar Revolution will discuss the specific benefits of using biochar in agriculture as well as potential global benefits through more widespread use. We'll learn how to build simple devices for making biochar at home and we'll see one of these devices in action. We'll also learn how to blend and apply biochar to enhance soil fertiility in the garden as well as how it can be used in vermiponics, aquaponics and hydroponics. Copies of the book, The Biochar Revolution will be available for purchase as well as small Biochar ovens.

Dormant Season Fruit Tree Grafting
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Saturday February 21 2015 10am-12:30pm
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale plus $10 supply fee
Grafting is a wonderful way to make more from less in a small urban orchard and begin to explore the joy of variety in fruiting plants. In this class we will learn and practice methods which may be used for grafting dormant scion (cuttings) onto both rootstock and mature trees. You will gain an understanding of plant propagation and the role of grafting, the basic science of grafting, which fruits which are compatible, which take to grafting more readily and tools needed. We will then get hands on practice and each participant will go home with at least two grafted apple trees.

Drip Irrigation
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
In times of drought it is more important than ever to use water wisely and get it exactly where it needs to go. A drip irrigation system delivers more water to the roots of plants and wastes less through evaporation. In this class we will cover options, parts and installation of a drip irrigation system. Starting with how to assess your water flow we’ll learn about timers, gallons per hour, how to deal with plants that have different water needs, how to create zones and how all those bits and pieces fit together. Learn how to set up an initial system that can change as your garden changes and how to maintain an existing system. As a bonus we'll learn the benefits of using mulch--both to cover all those black plastic drip lines and to keep the water in the soil where it belongs. We'll be working hands on to set up a simple drip system on site using traditional drip irrigation components as well as a few household items that can be used for some cool DIY hacks.

Food Forests, Plant Guilds and Polycultures
Saturday April 11, 2015 2pm-5pm
Instructor: Giancarlo Muscardini
Location: Berkeley, 4th St
Cost: $35-70 sliding scale
Perennial Food Forests are a much beloved element of permaculture design, yet most food forest experimentation has been done in the tropics, where plants grow lushly year round. Come learn the ins and outs of temperate food forests and see how the DaTerra family food forest is weathering the drought. After a tour of the property we’ll learn the theory and practice of assembling perennial plant guilds, the different roles that each plant play within them and how to aseemble several guilds into a functioning food forest. We'll hear about experiments in tropical regions and how to take those ideas and apply them in our own climate including tips for maintenance and pitfalls to avoid. Then we'll get hands-on practice assembling a guild. As a bonus we’ll touch on polycultures, which utilize some of the same principles in the annual vegetable garden.

Native Bees & Native Plants: Pollination to the People
September 13, 2015 10am-1pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
Cost: $35-65
sliding scale
This is an introduction to pollination ecology, the wild world of bees and pollinator friendly gardening for folks who are curious and want to nurture an awareness for these beloved hardworking critters. There are over 25,000 species of bees worldwide, 4000 in the US and 1000 in California. We will learn about the lifecycles and biology of honey bees, and native bees, the differences between the two, the special relationship between bees and flowers and what you can provide to support more bee and insect life in your garden. We learn to how to tell the difference between a bee, a wasp and a fly and how to identify a few of our local native bees. We will also introduce the idea of api-centric beekeeping and offer possibilities for natural beekeeping. We'll taste some honey, observe both honey bees and native bees at work, and get the lowdown on Colony Collapse Disorder.

Organic Gardening 101
Saturday March 28, 2015 10am-4pm
Saturday May 2, 2015 10am-4pm

K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
This day long course will introduce you to the essentials and foolproof basics of organic gardening. In the first part of the day we'll learn about dirt, including soil types, tilling and amending,options for composting and sheet mulching, cover crops and more. In the second half of the class we will focus on plants: seeds and satrts, sun and shade, water, weeds and garden planning. There will be lots to touch and feel, garden tour, and break out exercises including hands-on work in the garden. Bring your questions and get your hands dirty! This class is for beginning gardeners and those wanting to learn more about organic perspectives and techniques

Propagate! Make More Plants For Free
saturday April 4 2015 10am-1pm

Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
sliding scale
Crash course in propagation. Nursery prices got you down? Is your plant habit breaking the bank? Now is the time to cut the ties and never look back ! In this class you will learn how to easily multiply plants in your own backyard, just like the pros.. We’ll take you step-by-step through best methods for seed saving and starting, cuttings, divisions, grafting, layering and everything else in between. We’ll cover timing, seasonality and materials needed and give you a handy list of crop to try.. We’ll break it up with hands on practice and you will take some plants and cuttings home with you.

Raised Bed and Container Gardening: Edibles
Sunday April 1`9, 10am- 1pm
Instructor: Kitty Sharkey
Lcation: East Oakland
Cost: $35-70
sliding scale
Growing edible plants in containers has many advantages for the urban gardener. Whether you have limited space, poor soil, or problems with gophers and other pests, container gardening may be a alternative solution to planting directly in the ground. In this class we will explore different types of planting containers including ones you can make yourself, growing vertically, soils and amendments, what types of plants to grow including annual and perennial fruits and vegetables, and caring for container plants. Seeds or starts will be available for you to take home and try in your own garden.

Urban Orchard Care: Winter Pruning
Saturday January 17, 2015 10am-1pm

Instructor: Molly Bolt
Location: South Berkeley

Cost: $40-65 sliding scale
This hands-on class will cover the basics of reconstruction, aesthetic and fruit tree pruning. Participants will practice assessment and pruning skills, as well as some common insect and disease identification. We will also discuss seasons for pruning, tree anatomy, and best installment practices. Bring hand tools if you have them. Class is outdoors. Raindate: Same time following weekend.

Winter Gardening Essentials
Sunday January 18 2015 10am-3pm
Instructor: K.Ruby Blume
Location: North Oakland
$50-85 sliding scale
In the cold time of year time when the soil and plants are resting, there are still many important tasks to be accomplished in the garden to prepare for a spring and summer bounty. This class will cover winter gardening essentials including garden planning, bed preparation, seed selection & seed starting, bare root fruit selection & planting, dormant season care of perrenial fruit & shrubs, basic pruning, cover cropping, composting and basic mushroom cultivation. The class will include a tour of the winter garden, lecture & hands-on..

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