Planting a fall bed, best brassica editon

Well the first of a few hopefully. Despite the perennial issues with cabbage fly, it’s officially brassica season, the best time of year.

Armed with B.t. to deter the moths I rode into battle with my favorite of all brassicas.

Bok Choy!

Joi Choi to be specific, that wonderful variety that resists bolting and tastes just as good as a large head as it does small.

The cucumber bed got ripped out to make room. As did the buggy Swiss chard and beans to the right, but that’s another day- and another post.

Luckily I had a bag of compost in the shed so after some pretty intense weeding I dumped the good stuff in the bed and got planting.

All these beauties need is some mulch and they’re ready to go!

Yes. Perfect.

The strip of bare soil in the back is where I sowed some shelling peas. Legumes and brassicas (at least leafy brassicas) are the perfect soil mates. Nitrogen fixation will help my little cabbages grow big and strong.

The other reason I love Joi Choi so much is that it resists the worst of the cabbage fly. I have no doubt I’ll get a few of those maggoty bastards- but as long as the plants are healthy one or two maggots seems to just be the price of doing business.

Once the peas sprout I’ll put in some support and mulch the rest of the way.

Now onto planning the other fall beds!

Mint rehab

It’s time for an intervention.

A mint-ervention, if you will.

Look. The Moroccan mint is just a mess, and it’s all my fault. It’s just not mint tea weather, so I haven’t been picking as much as I should. (Never got the hang of iced tea I’m afraid)

The Chocolate peppermint’s problems are not my fault.

Oh boy it’s scale! One of my least favorite pests.

The only solution is to cut it back, and drench it in horticultural oil. And then keep doing that until it springs back.

The Moroccan mint got a drench too, and I’m fertilizing it and babying it and hopefully it will have some new growth I can take cuttings from so I can refresh the plant.

The constabulary is over-interested in my roman mint. This is a sign of white-fly. The other sign of white fly is, all the white flies. Ick. I’m loath to spray it down while the ladies are visiting though, so I’m hoping they’ll take care of business so I don’t have to.

I think my pineapple mint has gone past needing rehab into needing a hearse. Well. It served me well and gave me many cuttings and much tea, so I suppose it was bound to happen.

Luckily I still have one of it’s clones. And this guy is super duper robust and healthy.

Tada, meet pineapple mint, son of pineapple mint!

They grow up so fast.

Now my strawberry mint looks like it needs an exorcist, but it’s fairly healthy, just needs a trim. It’s interesting which mints tend towards the buggy and which tend to repel them. Peppermints seem more vulnerable than spearmints and pineapple mint (a sub variety of apple mint) seems to be the most resistant of all.

Anyways, the mint-ervention is ongoing, and I have high hopes for them all.

I will never apologize for a pun.

Late summer planting and re-seeding

The wilting lettuce was good for something- clearing the worst of it gave me space for the rest of my walla walla onions.

Some of them will have to share space with one of my romaines, but otherwise it’s nice I found room for them.

And I have a new pepper. Just in time to take advantage of the ridiculous heatwave I got a chili de arbol just for the heck of it. It’s my favorite chili and for some reason we got a late shipment of them at work and there were only a few left and god knows I like a long shot. I have the two free pots now that I’ve pulled two of my under-performing tomatoes, and I, like nature, abhor a vacuum.

As for free pot number two I’ve decided to mix things up.

My pole beans are doing ok, but not as great as they were doing last year. To supplement the pole beans, I bought some bush bean seeds, and I planted a few in the pot. They shouldn’t need support, and should give me some more lovely tender green beans into fall.

Also as is becoming a habit, I reseeded the dill. It looks like in order to get good fronds reseeding every quarter or so is necessary. I might need to get two dill pots going at once so I always have dill on hand, it’s an herb I use a lot of and waiting for it to sprout again is tedious. It is growable by start, but I have such ham hands that I always disturb the roots too much and it dies on me. SO growing from seeds it is!

In other new seed news, I’ve decided to try these beets. I was going to re-sow my beet patch anyways, but I thought maybe some white beets would be nice to try. It would be nice to have beets without staining every surface in the kitchen.

I actually have to pick more soon.

That’s a golden beet, just waiting for me.

Last but not least, I’ve finally planted my summer savory in the herb bed. This is the annual form of winter savory, a plant that’s in my other herb bed. It’s a nice herb.

I have to figure out my herb beds as things are both thriving and dying in equal measure, same with the pots, and I have a lot of experimental herbs that frankly, I’m not eating and I’m probably never going to eat and that’s just a waste of space. So I have to get planning. Fall is coming, and depending on the heat it may or may not be brassica season soon. Of course brassica season means cabbage fly season, and I have to be pro-active this year about combating that.

Work never ends. But the results are pretty tasty.

 

August work part three: putting things in pots and looking ahead

The absolutely wild weather continues, but we had a break in the rain and fog so I could pot up a few plants and contemplate future actions.

I have no idea where the celery is going to end up in the end. Probably in its own larger pot but for now it’s in a one gallon grow pot with a good handful of bio fish fertilizer. Celery is a bit of a heavy feeder and you got to take care of it.

I HAD three fennel- now I have two, because when I looked at the forming bulbs, two were fine, and one (not pictured) had little bugs living inside the bulb. This one was ok though.

Now while the celery will probably have to graduate to a bigger pot, Mr and Mrs Fennel can probably stay here till I’m ready to eat them. Fennel is funny- put them in the same pot and they’ll go to seed instead of produce a bulb. You have to either space them a foot apart in a bed- not ideal for an urban garden- or give them their own little pot to live in. As tasty as their fronds are- I like to cook with the bulb!

Unfortunately the logistics of my oregano is getting complicated. It should go in the sun herb bed where the sun herbs live- but something is wrong with that bed. I think the soil has gotten really compacted because it’s draining really poorly. It, along with my 4×4 shade herb bed is the oldest bed in my garden, and I think it needs to be dug out. I don’t want to lose most of the herbs in it though, so it would be a real project- I’d have to dig out all the herbs I want to keep and keep the root balls wet while I heavily tilled and amended the dirt… anyways so the oregano is going to stay in it’s pot for a while while I contemplate matters.

I ripped out my gigantic flowering dill weed, and next week I’ll re-sow the dill. I’m trying to figure out if I have the right dill seeds for my needs however, so I’m also waiting til next week.

And of course I still have four cells worth of onion starts. Arg that is too many onions! Which is a nice problem to have.

This area which has only a lone romaine can house some of them. I’ll probably have to break out another fabric pot for the rest. I’m trying to tilt the garden into more perennials and longer growing root veggies anyways, so I suppose I’ll figure it out.

The dill isn’t the only thing that needs re-seeding- I have to go into the beet bed and the carrot bed and the leek pot and re-seed what I’ve picked and what never popped up in the case of the leek pot.

So while I have more work to do in the garden- I suppose August has gotten off to a great start.

Now I just have to figure out if I can save my potted tomatoes or not.

Many tears are going to be shed over that I’ll tell you.

August work part two: onion interlude

In warmer weather I could have gotten away with the back squash patch. We have not had warmer weather. Therefore the back squash patch was basically a mildew factory.

So I ripped it out, added some more soil and put down some neem seed meal fertilizer.

And put in some onion sets!

California reds and walla wallas. I’m fairly confident with the walla wallas as you can grow them year round here. I also like red onions and I suspect an onion with California in the name will grow well here- just a hunch.

The real question of course is- will they bulb? I think so. I hope so.

Anyways there is one problem.

Turns out I have more onion sets then I know what to do with!

I might have to start a fabric pot just for onions or put some in the front fabric bed… Anyways, too many onions is a good problem to have. And if they don’t bulb right I’ll just have fancy scallions, which is another good problem to have.

If the weather isn’t what you want, don’t curse the weather, just start growing other vegetables.

I mean, I curse the weather too- but maybe also grow other vegetables alongside the cursing.

The point is don’t just curse.

Except this day. This day was entirely curses. When you can’t see ten feet down the road because of fog in August and you wake up to a soaked garden because of rain in August- It’s curses all the way down.

Ah San Francisco weather. Can’t live with it- can’t live without it?

I could live without it.

 

 

August work part one

Well I got a fair amount done, even if I have more to do.

The chayote is in! And more importantly it’s staked to it’s new trellis. This nice mixed bed is coming along nicely. These tomatoes of all my tomatoes are the best looking. This bed may end up being the tomato bed with all it’s afternoon sunshine. I don’t think the chayote and the basil mind sharing.

Here’s my mystery plant, a mystery no more! It’s an Ugni, or Chilean Guava. Also known as a strawberry myrtle, it’s a south american relative of the guava that has tiny little tasty fruits. Apocryphally, it’s fruits were the favorite of Queen Victoria.

I don’t know about that, but it likes acid soil and can tolerate some foggy weather, so I’m all for it.

It can grow up to six feet if you baby it, and I intend to baby it.

I want some little fruits!

And here is my beautiful bird bee bath. The rocks are there to give the bees something to sit on while they sip. They’re not really swimmers.

Why do I want to keep the bees happy?

Well, because they haven’t been doing their job! The reason the pumpkins were shriveling off the vine was that the plant was aborting them due to incomplete fertilization. (H/T to my manager at work who figured that out) So I had to play the bee!

Pictured, one beautiful baby pumpkin that I hand fertilized, next to a shriveled up one that I did not.

So clearly the bees need some incentive, and I hope the bee bath provides it for them.

Joking aside, it’s just been so wet. As I type this we had rain this morning, and the day before. In August!

So I think I know why the bees are under-performing.

Oh well, more work to do!

Chayote adventures

Pretty plant right? This is a chayote- a type of squash very commonly grown out here, but not very commonly seen at my local garden center. In fact the three we got in last week are the first three I’ve ever seen there.

I’ve not eaten a ton of chayote outside of a few restaurants- but I do like it. More importantly it’s a bland squash which is just perfect for mom.

And supposedly it’s an absolute breeze to grow- like most squashes the problem is too many fruits not too few. On top of that, it’s fruiting season is November/December, so it will be bearing when the other squashes have stopped!

Sounds perfect right? Not to mention I know exactly where I can put it.

One problem.

There are still peas in the perfect spot. And I’m not about to pull the peas early- they’re still giving me tons of wonderful pods.

Which reminds me I have to harvest some of these tonight.

I’ve probably got another month of good peas coming from this plant.

So what to do about the chayote?

Well the other day at work a customer came in, laden with plastic pots. He was apparently laboring under the belief that we wanted him to bring back the plastic pots from the plants he bought from us. We can of course recycle them but we generally assume our customers will do that at home.

Well they were just going to be recycled anyways- so my manager okayed me bringing them home. So now I have a ton of plastic pots for repotting things!

Well that takes care of the pot for the chayote- but what about the soil.

I have plenty of my usual organic potting soil, but there is a problem with that. The organic potting soil is a pretty rich mix, and chayote, while easy, doesn’t like getting overwatered. The organic potting holds water well- perhaps too well for the chayote.

The solution is perlite. A couple of cups added to the soil while potting up the chayote will loosen up the soil and ensure good drainage.

Now my chayote is in her temporary home for a month or so until the peas die back and I have the space for her in the color bed behind the tomatoes. Of course chayote are perennials so she’ll be in that bed for quite a long time.

Now I have to think up a good trellis- but I have the time to plan that out.

Hope to see some of you at the meet-up! My plants are begging for new homes.