March showers better bring April flowers, because if I get April showers too I’m gonna freaking riot.
It’s been insanely wet here. I’m loving it, as it reminds me of the San Francisco of my youth, rainy and foggy in winter, dry and warm in summer. Our two seasons were wet and dry, like the Mediterranean, and then the droughts came.
It didn’t mean gardening was impossible, but it meant mom and dad couldn’t grow corn anymore, and eventually stopped vegetable gardening all together. By the time it was my turn, the only thing you could bet on was unpredictability, and that’s still the rule today. But after nearly four straight months of rain, intense rain! The water table is healthy in San Francisco for the first time in years. And so my options have widened considerably.
The weeds have as well.
The back was a mess, despite the fact that last brief dry period I’d cut everything as close as I could. Good thing I did, or the weeds wouldn’t have been calf high, they would have been waist high.
It certainly wasn’t warm this Sunday, but it was sunny, and dry enough to start whacking some weeds yet again. It was quite nice to see that my silly little poppy mounds appreciated being saved from last months cut down, so I trimmed around them again so they can live their best lives.
Sometimes your weeds can be the best flowers in your garden if you allow them a little space and care. Just because these poppies weren’t planted intentionally doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them. The same can go for certain edible weeds as well.
Not these jerks, they’re only growing like weeds, these guys are my biggest mistake.
Once again the rains have emboldened the cardoons I have fruitlessly tried to kill season after season. I am resigned to the teardown possibly having to involve heavy equipment and an exorcist this time, and will prepare accordingly.
The good news and the good “weed” is the profusion of miner’s lettuce. I made the mistake (or good choice) of buying a cultivated miner’s lettuce around 7 years ago for funsies. They grow naturally in the bay area and most of coastal California but my tendency for a little rain in winter to bring out tons of the little guys is certainly because I planted one once and now it’s seeds are just in my soil. A happy little accident, as Bob Ross would say.
Sadly, they needed to go. Into my stomach! Rich in vitamin C, and delicious I wasn’t about to waste this rain given bounty.
So I harvested multiple bowls full before I cut down in between the beds!
As I type I have a very full belly filled with a salad made with a base of miner’s lettuce and my great garden love, perennial arugula.
But while neatness had to be maintained post rains, that doesn’t mean I didn’t keep some of the delightful native plant for later. So much miner’s lettuce was growing in this unused bed, I’m choosing to keep it at least until it seeds. Fingers crossed I can save some, and then maybe I can keep some going in a shaded spot in Spring and Summer when miner’s lettuce in my neighborhood tends to get a bit scraggly in the sun.
I’m happy to say that the lettuces and violas I put in during the last rain break are doing well, if in need of a weed. My perfect perennial arugula needs no introduction, as it weathers all, and gives yellow flowers, and delightfully peppery greens year after year.
More seriously a lot died this year. My greenhouse got destroyed by hail. Things I bought on a whim and enjoyed, perished in the deluge. Old staples from long past just couldn’t handle the soak. But for as many exits, there were endurances. I’d totally given up on the valerian root. I thought it went the way of the corydalis that delighted me for months last year. Sure it had survived winters before, it’s meant to die back. But the sheer force and intensity of the rains we had made me give up hope. I tried to save the corydalis, but when I dug it up, it was all rot and no roots. I figured the same was true for my valerian. I kept the pot and it’s soil, bare though it was, mostly because I didn’t know where else to put it, and I knew if I dug it up and found mush, I’d be devastated.
Stupid me for doubting it’s vigor! The first of the month it showed new growth, and seems to grow centimeters every day. It’ll be flowering it’s peculiar sweet flowers by May I predict, and I’m thrilled that even the intensity of this years and last’s rains couldn’t quite kill it.
But the most beautiful sight of all, the most incredible survivor, a seven-spotted ladybug! Not a true native no, but oddly enough endangered in its native Europe, and just as beneficial as our local lady beatles when it comes to aphid control. Just as important as our red friend, is the lacewing behind it!
I take both of these little soldiers as a sign that the natural ecosystem of my little slice of nature is well defended and quite healthy, and now that April is here, I will have better luck this year than ever.
After all, Gardening is gambling- and while I’ve been dealt a lot of wild cards this year regarding the weather, I can still make a winning hand with them.
Sky’s the limit.
8 thoughts on “So, five-card stud, nothing wild… and the sky’s the limit.”
Cultivated miner’s lettuce?! I was not aware of a cultivated type. The species grows wild. Do you notice that the cultivate sort is better than what grows wild? Does it eventually revert to the wild sort? I do not eat it anyway, just because there are so many more substantial greens growing wild here. Gee, I wish I had grown cardoon like that. I have not even tried it yet.
I have no idea as it was so long ago that I bought it. But it all tastes the same to me!
It seems like an odd plant to try to improve on.
Also, don’t grow cardoons unless you want everything to be cardoons forever
If I were to ever grow it or artichoke, I would give them plenty of space. I am less likely to grow artichoke, not only because it is one vegetable that fails to impress me, but also because it occupies so much space for such minimal production.
Oh yes, it was an experiment that backfired spectacularly.
Perennial arugula?! What kind? Where did you get it? I love arugula and grow it regularly, but haven’t run across perennial!
I got it at a local garden center (sloat for the bay area peeps) but I’m not sure I still have the tag- and it’s an odd shape for arugula (not lobed) so I’m really not sure. i might try to save seed this year so I can experiment with it more.