I don’t think I can take care of the gardens, how can I be involved?

You should consider the Adopt a Garden program. For $25.00 per year, you will support one garden that will produce an average of 250 oysters for restoration/enhancement. To learn more, click Adopt a Garden.

What are spat?

Spat are juvenille oysters. 

I am only at my house in the summer, can I still be a gardener?

The program runs from June through November. If you will not be in town through November, let us know and we will take all of your oysters at the mid-season pickup in September.

How many oysters do I grow?

Most Gardeners raise four (4) gardens. Each garden produces an average of 250 oysters for a total of 1,000 oysters as an average per gardener.  So far, the record for four (4) gardens is 2,000 oysters produced. 

When do the oysters get picked up?

A mid-season pickup is conducted in September as requested and needed.  To request a mid season pickup, contact us.  If the oysters in general grow really well, we may have to move up the final pickup. This serves to lighten the gardens making maintenance more effective.  Otherwise, the final pickup in in November.

How do I get my gardens and oysters?

In June, oyster spat are available on a pre-announced saturday morning at one of three locations. The Pines Boat Launch (Mile Marker 8  Ft. Morgan), Mary Ann Beach Park (Scenic 98 & County Road 1), and the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island.  Oysters should be picked up, divided among your gardens, and returned to the water as quickly as possible.  As the time approaches, all gardeners will be notified well in advance of the date and time of the pickups.

How much time does it take?

If maintenace is done routinely, 20-30 minutes per week.

What happens to the oysters?

When the oyster are picked up, they are transported to restoration/enhancement sites within Mobile Bay and planted.

Who decides what water is open or closed?

Classifications are assigned by The Alabama Department of Public Health. 

How will I know if I am doing it right?

Every Gardener receives a manual which contains detailed information about what to expect.  Additionally, there is a monthly newsletter which you will receive.  The newsletter is a primary source of communication within the program.  Check for updates of oyster growth, condition, and general observations made during the occassional checks made of the gardening locations by Extension personnel.  Finally, you can always contact us by phone or e mail if you have a question and we can make arrangements to meet you at your garden to answer any questions that remain.

What is conditionally open water?

Conditionally Open is one of four classifications used by the Alabama Department of Public Health: Seafood Division.  The others include Conditionally Restricted, Unclassified, and Prohibited.  Gardening locations for The Mobile Bay Oyster Gardening Program can only be located in Conditionally Open areas (AREA III).  Here is a map of Mobile Bay and surrounding water bodies for guidence.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

What are the requirements to be a Gardener?

While there is a way for everyone to be invovled, to be a Gardener, certain requirements must be met.

  1. New gardeners must sign up by contacting the Program Coordinator.
  2. You should be able to pick up (or arrange for them to be picked up) your oyster spat (on a Saturday) in June.  Pick up locations are at Ft. Morgan, the boat ramp at the end of County Road 1, and at the Auburn University Shellfish Laboratory on Dauphin Island.
  3. Your gardening location must be located in waters classified as conditionally open.  Locations outside of this area cannot be used as gardening sites. If you are in one of these outside areas, please consider Adopting a Garden.
  4. You should be able to spend 20-30 minutes per week caring for your garden. A hose is helpful but not required.  Weekly maintenance involves washing away mud and algae from the gardens, removing predators such as blue crabs and oyster drills, and optional measuring is done at this point.
  5. Occassionally, Extension personnel associated with Oyster Gardening will make checks of garden sites to look at growth rates and take samples.  Will you allow them to access your wharf to make these checks?
  6. Are you at the gardening location (or can make arrangements for the necessary maintenance) weekly from June through November?

Oyster Trail Unveiling