The best laid plans of mice and Neanderthals often go awry 2019

Or “Neanderthal proposes, God disposes”

Or “🎶It’s raining, it’s pouring, the Neanderthal is swearing🎶”

Here’s a video of my nice clear day for planting.

Oh goody- the forecast was wrong.

Well at least I can clear the beds for planting next week.

Nope. See, we’ve had so many damn blown down rotten apples to put in the compost bin…

That there’s no room for the stuff I have to pull out to make room for the vegetables I have to plant, that I can’t plant today anyways.

I… have so much to do and I’m not really able to do any of it.

So after an endless psychic scream, I proceeded to do what I could. It was raining, but not a downpour. So I picked up the soil underneath the potting table and put it in a box that will keep it dry- put a half pallet under the table for my remedies and bucket, and cleared the table for a much needed cleaning.

That’s a really dirty table! Time to get to work under the eyes of my sausageman sign that I will never ever get rid of.

A little elbow grease later everything is all set up for work. I can’t clear the beds for the veggies- but I can pot the herbs under the protection of the house overhang that shelters the table.

It was time to get to business.

My first victims were the flat leaf and curly leaf parsley that I had bought almost a month ago. Mr. Flat leaf looked amazing- Mr. curly looked a little nitrogen deprived.

A side note on curly leaf parsley. I love all parsley but I find curly leaf parsley makes very nice chimichurri. Something about the texture of the leaves perhaps? So I found the text on the label for the curly leaved parsley hilarious. Known for garnishing deviled eggs and an ingredient in tabbouleh? I mean the tabbouleh makes sense but they couldn’t think of another parsley centered dish then “a garnish for deviled eggs”? I mean I make deviled eggs but I’ve never garnished them with parsley! You dust them with paprika duh.

I make some great damn chimichurri though.

Point is I like parsley, and it’s more then a garnish! Get it together plant nursery!

I like it so much I tried growing it from seed in a pot and that was not a success.

It has a really low germination rate even in perfect conditions, so it’s the perfect herb to buy as a plant, since seed sowing is always gonna drive you crazy.

It can be a heavy nitrogen feeder too especially in wet conditions that wash out the soil nutrients. The parsley in my ridiculous herb bed also needs some fertilizer- and a trim.

That bed is a mess, but its not all doom, gloom and crispy thyme in that bed, the native coyote mint (which isn’t even an edible) is doing great! As is the *real* mushroom growing underneath my octopus behind my fake mushroom.

Which is depressing and hilarious in equal measure. San Francisco, fungal nightmare.

ANYWAYS, back in herb land I put the flat leaf type into a larger pot, as it’s label called it parsley “gigante” and I’m not taking any chances. I also said screw it to any sort of fooling around and straight up sprinkled some loam builder into the potting soil. I did that for all my herbs today and I regret nothing. Yeah I know that stuff’s 50% chicken manure. I. don’t. care. The rain’s gonna wash out half the nutrients anyways and this way I don’t have to maxsea as much.

I was going to rip out my dead garlic chives (sob) and put the curly leaf into the pot I painted but there were a few problems.

Firstly I used acrylic paint to paint the damn thing and it was a peeling mess. Second I realized my boss was right about pots with lips- it’s all but impossible to take out a plant to re-pot it- or junk it, because the lip in the pot hold onto the root ball. I had to take a trowel to the root ball in the rain by the compost and… I’m gonna put this one under the greenhouse bench and just make it a problem for another day. I have plenty of cast off pots from things like gallon veggies that will make fine herb pots. I took one for the curly leaf that was once a tomato pot and got on with it.

I’m not really sure if I have viable tarragon or not. I keep clipping the green bits for eggs but the root stems look rough. In drier weather I’m gonna take a hard look at the survivability of both plants, but for now they go on the ground to make room for the other pots.

Onto the mitsuba. I wanted to use a pot that had an attached saucer as that retains more moisture. Not a problem in this weather currently but we will have dry spells- our weather is inherently unpredictable, so I found one of my indoor pots that last housed a satin pothos. Don’t worry, she’s fine, she just needed to go into a narrower pot so she got taken out of the big boy here.

Side note, I know these biodegradable pots are in now, and lord knows I like sustainability but sometimes the roots get so robust you have to crack the pots open and I always ALWAYS cut myself on them. C’mon there has to be a way to make a biodegradable pot that’s not a hazard to ham hands. I am choosing to look on the bright side- the plant is none the worse for wear for having been in a little pot for three weeks, very nice root development.

I just have to mutter “there’s a bright side” to myself enough and maybe I’ll believe it.

Now onto the chervil train. I got three plants when I got them, on account of the fact that chervil is sensitive in the best of conditions and I love it with all my heart. These pots are also former houseplant homes, but sadly housed houseplants that are no longer with us because I re-potted them too soon and you really shouldn’t do that.

RIP Felix and Tina the first. You will be missed.

There were a few problems with my plan however.

And here we have a literal round hole square peg situation. I probably could have shoved it in, but I also have a thousand other random pots I can grab instead.

I had hoped to put two in the one rectangle, but they fit so snugly I wouldn’t have been able to get the soil into the sides without potentially damaging the leaves- chervil is a delicate baby.

This of course was a little bit of a shanda as I’d already put sure start in and I didn’t want to waste it.

A dilemma indeed.

Well. I did have one more herb, that like chervil is a member of the fines herbs…

That’s a modern looking herb pot. Thanks, I hate it! At this point it was getting to late afternoon, which this time of year meant very close to sunset. I had to hurry.

I shoved my three chervil into three random pots under the “eh it’ll be fine” principle, and surveyed the mess I’d made.

Ah yes. The natural state of the potting table. Complete chaos.

But hey! The herb tables look great! Despite the inherent wrongness of the rectangle of chives just… rectangle-ing all over the place- it’s a viable herb area that’s easily picked for all my breakfast, lunch and dinner needs.

And on the floor the losers and potential future winners. I’m gonna pick out the viable stems from the mint messes for new plants, and I do have to see about the troubled tarragon- but the last batch of chives is a goner. I have new chives now… in a rectangle… man that pot bothers me on an existential level.

But no matter. The potting table is clean once more!

But I have Bok choy, broccolini, napa cabbage, kohlrabi and leeks to plant… in beds that I cannot clear, and in weather I cannot plant in. I also have old plants in pots to pull for next month and mint plants to take runners from and…

Hey. It’s better then a drought!


So much work to do before the rains return

Well as mentioned the deluge means the squash vines are toast. Also as mentioned, this is a semi good thing as it means the 4×4 bed that is newly amended is ready for planting.

Also in good news bad news, the chayote is toast (may post a postmortem on that one) as are the tomatoes in that bed- though that isn’t bad news so much as expected news- its December after all.

And on top of that- it’s raining some more tomorrow which means I have one day to do two days worth of work.

Lets get cracking.

This would be a half flat worth of brassicas- plus some chives.

And this would be the last half flat full of herbs and leeks.

Here they are together- ready for action.

Today’s gonna be fun!

‘Tis the season- for acidic mulch!

It’s wall to wall trees at work. I’m not a huge fan of dead plants unless I’m eating them, but the proliferation of pines (actually firs) means tree trimmings!

Here’s a bundle I took home on the bus, confounding and amazing my fellow travelers. Also maybe making the train smell better then it usually does because hoo boy Muni.

But why did I bring home all these pine pieces? (actually firs)

Because now that the comfrey has died back my blackberries are naked!

Pine needles (again, can’t stress this enough, actually fir needles,) are a great acidic mulch for the garden, good for your berries and other acid loving plants like azaleas and camellias.

(Hmmm need some more trimmings for my tea plant).

I could have chopped them up, but that would have meant fiddling with clippers in the rain so I decided to go lo-fi and just give the roots of my vines a nice blanket.

Of course now Ms. blueberry is jealous and also in need of a good soil acidifier so I will have to pick up some more pine trimmings from work.

Fir trimmings.

Eh conifers are all the same to me.

Captain’s log: Early December 2019

The rains have begun in earnest!

Which means I have to delay my planting, hunker down any little plants, and focus on a big clean up. A clean up of what?

Apples. When I took this picture I was anticipating a not so fun job for my next day off, but when I came home that night the apples were gone, my mother having gone out and taken care of it during a break in the rain. Both to give me a break, and to hopefully deny any rodents a snack. She counted over 150 apples which is a sad waste. We just normally don’t have these sort of yields on this old tree, and it took us completely by surprise this fall. Not to mention the tree is tall and ungainly which means if we get these sort of yields next year I’m going to have to buy a picker so I can get the ones at the top. (and maybe rent a cider press… hmmm)

The other job I’m anticipating… is the interstitial weeds. Ah hello carpet of green. You’re pleasant now, but in a month when you’re kissing my ankles you wont be.

But hey! My idea of strawberry pots is still going strong! When I can run out and pick a nice juicy red guy like this everything is right with the world.

Of course the rains started just when I went to all that effort to try and save my squash vines for another month. They are toast! So are the bush beans in the pot and the bull horn pepper plant. Maybe next garbage night I’ll toss them into the compost.

Losing the squash is interesting as it means I now have a heavily amended free 4×4 bed and I am racking my brain on what I can plant here. Considering my wish for pumpkin supremacy next year I may just do a cover crop. But also I like brassicas and no one can stop me?

It’s a dilemma.

My last really pretty red lettuce is just about ready to pick.

I cut back the sage and… it’s sort-of re-sprouting? I have enough faith in the magic that is Berggarten sage to leave it be through the rains to see if it will come back. If it doesn’t? I’ll replace it. I got few years out of this one, and seven out of my first one from the before times. I’ll never grow another sage again!

Oof I have to pick those leeks. Also I need to weed that pot. All the more so because…

I still have these leeks to plant! And mitsuba and parsley and chervil. Not the baby green onions, they still need more time.

In the keeping of my new format of doing these logs, let’s have some good news. My Japanese bed is doing fantastic because the new rains have really reinvigorated the plants. I still need to weed, and I still need to pick up the dang broken garden gnome/spider factory behind the bed but ew it’s a spider factory you touch it first.

Alright now for some not so great news. The shade herb 4×4 bed is a MESS. All capital letters are needed. The thyme is all dry and bleh the parsley is bolted or already bolted, my garlic chives died in the heat wave and I don’t even like anise hyssop I just think it’s pretty. I have a feeling if there’s a break in the rains I’m going to take a good look at the available herbs at work and do some digging.

Not you Mr. lemongrass you’re perfect.

Hmm… I did get those shallot bulbs…

No that’s crazy talk.

Speaking of things I need to eat. Now that’s a kohlrabi! We’re at the “make Cole slaw with me” stage of this guy and I am here for it.

The only downside to free watering from Mother Nature is that the nutrients in the beds get washed out. So there are for sure a few yellow under leaves of my Bok Choy that I’m having to pull so they down attract slugs.

Time for some seaweed fertilizer!

Also time for some swear words. Arg I hate these cabbage aphids. Wet conditions and extra ants are really helping their population to boom.

I mean insecticidal soap exists for this very reason and I took care of it but it was still icky and gross.

And of course since I can’t be out there in the pouring rain it’s hard for me to hand pick them off. I think the Brussels will be ok but it’s still a pain.

Now that it’s December it’s officially time to take in the bath. I stuck the bee pebbles into the old pitcher and stuck my disassembled bird furniture out of the way. This is truly what a shed is for.

Now of course I have the rest of the month to rearrange the whole garden!

In the pouring rain.

Good think I have a good parka.

A seasonal pause- or the rain delays have started 2k19

While I was smart enough to get the brassica beds all finished in time, I dithered on my new herb and leek haul.

Which now that it’s pouring is a bit of a problem.

I mean they’re perfectly happy, but as with the tea shrub I’m a little concerned about them blowing over.

I’m also going to have to drain and disassemble the bird bath- it’s clearly time to take it in.

There’s also now the conundrum of will the scallions germinate in the cold, but if you look closely a few are starting to pop up. Nothing stops an onion!

Taking a cue from the seedling setup I just put a big ol’ rock in the flat.

Anyways, I hope your late November is going well, and may the rain continue!

It saves me from having to water!


Camellia sinensis

Tea. Wars have been fought over it. It is the defining drink of multiple countries and cultures, and was arguably one of the foundational pillars of English colonialism and empire, the ramifications of which we still grapple with today.

It’s also a nice drink.

It’s also a plant.

I grow those.

Now at my local garden center we sell lots of Camellias this time of year. Those are mostly from the species sasanqua or japonica, and grown for their flowers. Now Camellia sasanqua can be used for tea as well- but *the* tea shrub that is the backbone of green and black tea worldwide- is Camellia sinensis.

And now I have one.

I am uninterested in the flowers and will most likely cut them off. I want a bush. I want a shrub. I want to make my own green tea!

This is most likely impossible in this climate and I am aware that the goal of “nice shrub that smells good” is probably my most attainable goal.

Don’t care- gonna go for it.

This little baby shrub had a bonus though.

Those would be tea seeds! It looks like some of the flowers had already borne fruit and in the soil were three precious tea seeds.

So to add to my lofty goals, I’m gonna try a germinate them.

Because this wasn’t going to be difficult enough.

Adding to my difficulties the plant, while healthy, is rather small in its little gallon grow pot. You can squeeze the pot to see how developed the roots are and my new friend is rather squishy.

This means re-potting her now would be very detrimental to her health.

Problem is it’s incredibly windy this time of year and the rains are going to start soon.

In fact, yesterday at work while the winds were blowing down all our outdoor stock I frantically texted my mother in worry.

Mom has my back.

Bricks and a heavy spider plant are now miss tea’s companions I till I can figure out how to anchor her better.

This will be a learning experience, one I am going to embrace with both hands.

And hopefully a soon to be full teapot.

Carrot bed finally sown

G-d the carrot bed was depressing.

Beautiful carrots all tasteless and dull.

Well that’s what happens when the bed is too depleted. Last year I had trouble with tiny little carrots and bushy tops- too much enrichment. This year it was the opposite.

How about we aim for perfect sweet carrots 2k20?

That means clearing the bed of weeds and *sob* baby carrots.

Rip tasteless carrots. May you at least make good compost.

Then it was time for your friend and mine, a big bag of compost. Compost is key here. Manure is too rich, basic granular fertilizers not rich enough. It’s not so much about fertilizing so much as amending… the distinction between the two could be it’s own post.

There is one true carrot in my mind, though people’s opinions may vary. Kuroda carrots are wonderfully sweet and straight and like to overwinter, which is perfect, because winter is coming.

My perfect little rows are perfect as always.

Yes. Grow and be sweet little seed, grow and be sweet!

Then it’s just a matter of covering everything up and hoping for the best.

It’s cold at night and cool during the day so there is a non-zero chance not everything or even most germinate. It also takes a while for carrots to germinate even under warmer conditions. So if in three weeks I have no sprouts I’ll start some carrots indoors to transplant.

Yes that is not ideal and you have to separate them and be careful not to bruise the growing root and all that but carrots are worth it.

Carrots are always worth it.