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One Year Later: The Miraloma Park FUF Planting

FUF Trees Down Los Palmos in Miraloma Park, San Francisco


Last April 2010, we did a tree planting in the Sunnyside and Miraloma Park neighborhoods of San Francisco. I had set my sights on getting something organized for the neighborhood late December in 2009 and worked with the good people at Friends of the Urban Forest to set a date that worked for them and the community.

A year later, all is mostly positive. Going around the various streets were we dropped the 35+ trees on that day for planting, I haven’t seen any dead ones besides the one we lost on Los Palmos. But, the one that died was really dead when it was planted due to cutting the root ball much too aggressively by our arborist on duty. We all knew the one was never going to make it and it showed signs of severe shock and death a few weeks after the planting.

The One Tree That Didn't Make It.

To FUF’s credit, they eventually did replace the dead tree with a healthy viable one a couple of months ago. So, the line of trees will not be too much different height and age-wise as they continue to grow. The other trees on Los Palmos (we planted 10 total in that first block off Teresita) are also doing well.

The New Replacement FUF Tree

All and all, I am still really glad we were able to get people out to help the neighborhood and city out with getting more trees in the ground. There was a lot of teamwork with the community, Miraloma Park Improvement Club and other businesses and organizations that contributed in many ways to the project.

But, there were some frustrations throughout the process that, if resolved, would have made the whole project even more successful. We had more home-owners willing to buy and plant trees, but the widths of the sidewalks in our neighborhood and rules along the lines of keeping sidewalk width standards compliant stopping  many from being able to participate. The San Francisco Department of Public Works stopped some plantings of trees in common areas that nearby home-owners were willing to pay for and take care of because for reasons that were and continue to be beyond me. SF DPW also told us that they would be the ones planting trees in those spots, but the spots are still empty a year later.

Lastly, I was surprised by the smallish number of owners that eventually participated and bought a tree. I thought getting solid numbers was going to be easier than it was and that the value proposition for doing it was pretty transparent. The apathy of many in my neighborhood on this was a little sad.

All the property owners that participated were awesome and did a great job. There is, of course, a lot more that can be done. I am not sure where the next phase or planting is at for this area, but I hope that with the changes with the DPW and the obvious needs out there, FUF and DPW can really work together to allow those interested in contributing be able to in a non-frustrating way. After participating the recent FUF State of the Urban Forest conference call a few weeks ago, it sounds like they are moving down the right paths for the common cause and I wish them the best and thank everyone who was a part of the 2010 planting.

Please feel free to leave comments here on your experiences and feedback over the last year if you were a part or wanted to be a part of it and how things are going with your trees.



Concerns on Sidewalk Width For a Miraloma Park Tree with FUF

In my recruitment of property owners in the Miraloma Park and Sunnyside areas of San Francisco, I have received many responses from people that were interested but concerned about the limited sidewalk width issues that the city mandates perhaps for ADA considerations.

I brought this up with FUF and they came back with this;

“I’ve gotten more details about the narrow sidewalks in Miraloma Park that makes it a difficult neighborhood to plant. Basically, it just requires a little bit of creativity and each basin that we cut out and place a tree into needs to have at a certain amount of substance put back into the basin on the outer edges. We can apparently acquire the material that needs to be put back in cheaply, and it isn’t a big expense, although it might add a few bucks per person. Then we need to tell our counterparts at the city’s Bureau of Urban Forestry that that’s what we are doing. Those details are all what our arborists work out, and I think the best thing to do would be to talk to one of our arborists to get a better sense of what to tell folks to expect, so they know its not completely straightforward.”

So, please hang in there and we will make this happen.

Getting rid of gophers in the garden


The gophers in San Francisco are tough and smart. There are not many places or them to go, so if you do have a garden, they know how to stay around. I guess they are also pretty tough because they must hit a lot of cement! The other aspect is, at least where we are located, the depth of dirt is only about 15″ or so before you hit solid rock, so tunnels can easily collapse if you try complex traps or other removal tools.

Anyway, we have the ‘noise/vibration posts’ that are supposed to annoy them to leave, but they really do not work for us and we didn’t want to go with poison because we have cats roaming the neighborhood as well as our dog. We decided to try the Juicy Fruit gum trick and it didn’t work at first but as we tried different attempts, we got it to really be effective.

Here is what we did.

First, if you see a mound, don’t mess with it except to open it slightly

Then, with a pair of rubber gloves on, cover them in dirt and roll a few sticks of Juicy Fruit gum into tight balls one at a time and try to get them down the gopher hole as far as possible. For each hole, I tend to put 5 or six balls in there. Lastly, cover the hole.

Getting the gloves dirty prior to rolling the gum seems to be the trick since it might mask any human and/or rubber scent. The gum is very fragrant and if you leave the hole and tunnel intact and cover the mound, the scent will travel back down through the tunnels and attract the gopher to it where they will eat the gum and it will adversly affect their digestive systems.

It is difficult to gauge the effectiveness of this, but the lack of any further activity (mounds, tunnels, etc.) in the garden is good enough for me. Also, we have been lucky enough on one occasion to see he direct effect – a gopher laying on the top of the dirt having issues from the gum intake and in a state where he was easily removed from the garden.

You might give this a shot, since the expense on this is minimal and it is actually the most effective way we have seen to get the job done.