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.

My new bucket.

Well I finally cracked and did it.

I bought a 5 gallon bucket.

Because really, who doesn’t need a bucket?

I had a bucket- but I tried to do bucket compost in it and then forgot about it for 5 years and when I opened it…

So I have a new bucket.

Why do I have a new bucket?

Beneficial nematodes baby! Gonna treat my Brassica beds with the good good stuff that kills nasty awful no good cabbage fly maggots!

Look. I have no pictures of it because my instinct was “kill it with fire” but I had what can only be described as the worst experience with my last big Joi Choi. I knew from my many times growing turnips that cabbage fly maggots like to eat the roots of brassicas- which is why I don’t plant root brassicas anymore. (Which is sad as I love turnips and radishes) Now cabbage flies can affect not just root brassicas, but all brassicas by nibbling at the roots and killing the seedlings. But as long as you time it right and you take care of your seedlings the plants will be healthy enough to withstand the onslaught.

Integrated pest management! It’s not about killing all the pests- it’s about managing them.

I thought I was safe. After all they die back in autumn, there will only be a few…

But then I picked my last beautiful Joi Choi- brought it upstairs, and when I cut into the stem- a maggot popped its little head out. It traveled up the stem! All the stems had maggots in them!

NOPE.

Nematode time!

There are some pretty detailed instructions- but my lack of a bucket was a challenge so I picked one up.

I did this right at dusk which is the right time apparently, though that wasn’t a sign of any pre-planning (pre-planning? What’s that?) on my part, it just happened to be when I was free.

Gross! And blurry!

You dump the contents of a container that’s within the main container into some water and then wait a bit for all the microscopic nematodes to get dissolved in the drink. What floats to the top is carrier.

You’re then supposed to water the beds with it. My problem was getting the carrier bits off the top. I do not have a mesh strainer that I was willing to dirty with nematodes. Also I was concerned about getting the bucket water into the watering can and not the ground.

Old pitcher and old Giants branded cardboard cups? Check.

Everything in this garden is Gerry-rigged and I’m ok with that.

After I skimmed off the carrier and filled the watering can with nematode water, I just… watered all the beds with brassicas!

I also watered my cut back squash vine because if it does fail that bed will most likely host brassicas of some type.

I could not take any pictures of this in the moment as it was no longer dusk- it was night.

Night-time gardening. It’s the Neanderthal way.

Here’s the view from the next morning.

While you skim off the carrier you also use it as it most likely still contains nematodes and you want to get your money’s worth.

So I just sprinkled it where needed.

The north beds should now be protected!

As should the West beds!

And my favorite- Mr. Tree collard.

All in all this wasn’t too difficult, doesn’t pollute the water table, won’t poison me or wildlife, and wasn’t stinky.

So 10/10 would nematode again!

This type of nematodes is really good at combating lawn grubs- that’s the really gross looking thing on the container. I don’t have a lawn, but nematodes eat a lot of things.

So here’s to integrated pest management.

And my new bucket.

It’s a nice bucket.