Captain’s log: October 9th 2019

Been a while, and this one’s largely going to be a good news/bad news post because I have a lot of that going on right now.

October is a good month.

So good news first! The second brassica bed is doing great. Sprouts are sprouting, kohlrabi is rabi-ing- good news all around.

My next project isn’t really good news or bad news, it’s just an empty bed.

The bad news is…

Due to some delays the brassicas for that bed got a little wilty. We’ll see how many of them I can salvage.

It’s also time to put my celery into a bed, they’re both chafing at being in pots.

The whitefly traps are certainly killing the whitefly!

Chayote still looks rough though. Lots of damaged leaves at the bottom. The tops are pretty vigorous though so I’m cautious but not overly concerned.

The powdery mildew has returned to the zucchini, which is bad news but not unexpected news. It’s just what happens when the fall fog comes in.

The apple tree is producing like crazy which is nice. The apples are super tasty this year too, great for baking.

And the falling leaves make great mulch for the onion plot.

Back to bad news. The garden wide scale problem continues, and I’ll have to send my chocolate peppermint back to mint rehab.

Annoyingly my baby ginger mints are also damaged. I really have to get a handle on the ants out here, which are spreading the scale.

In good news, the Roman mint looks fantastic. Still some slight whitefly issues, but as mentioned previously, whitefly is more cosmetic than anything else, and only really bad when it’s everywhere.

My corn is sort of both good news and bad news. The ones I put on the edge of the bed were largely duds… But the big ones in the back…

Looks like I might get a couple of ears after all!

Back to bad news. This one really stings. The carrots look beautiful, nice sized roots, not to big, the right orange color… And they are bitter and tasteless. Looks like from a bed that was over-enriched which was the problem last year, I went to a bed that was very nutrient depleted and therefore the carrots are inedible.

I’ll have to pull everything, mix in compost and re-seed. What a pain.

It looks like my new Marjoram and Oregano are doing great though, maybe those humic acids are the key to nutrient uptake after all!

In good news that means a lot of prickly work, the blackberry vines are doing what blackberry vines do- grow like crazy.

I’ve got to strap on my gloves and tie up this sucker. I can already feel the wounds on my hands!

The arugula that reseeded itself is almost pickable. No such thing as too much arugula.

The thyme forest needs to be hacked back again, as it often does.

And finally in really really really good news, it turns out the confetti cilantro does breed true, and all that lovely coriander I got from the last plant is now two pots worth of more cilantro- and I still have seed left over!

I really have to get moving, the rains will come soon and then garden work will be very difficult. But October is a good month for planting, since there’s no frost or snow to worry about.

Just the possibility of a deluge!

Trying to fix the sun herb bed

The latest try to anyways.

It’s not draining great and paradoxically dries out too easy and in general the really established plants are doing great while any new ones are kinda meh.

Also the sage looks rough.

That empty spot on the end in particular is like where herbs go to die. I lost a blue basil there and two oreganos.

Time for a change.

Part of the problem seemed to be that nutrients were going nowhere, so I tried something a little interesting. Granular Humic Acids are a soil additive that (supposedly) helps with nutrient uptake. This is not even remotely settled science, but anecdotes support it, and it isn’t too expensive so why not.

I also dug out as much soil as I could and lightened it up.

Of course I planted my newest two sacrifices to the death corner, a nice marjoram and a fancy mountain oregano.

Fingers crossed!

Then I cut back the sage (still going strong underneath) and mulched like crazy.

Its… a work in progress.

Like all things.

White fly abatement, hopefully

So whitefly is an issue this time of year as the aphids start to go away, out come the whitefly.

So I got some traps.

They’re sticky traps that smell like new leaves, which is what those bastards go for. The mint seems to be one of the big pulls for the little buggy jerks.

It’s just a matter of peeling the paper off and sticking it close to the plants.

The glory of the new plant stand is that it’s very easy to tie sticky traps too.

The real problem is the chayote. With the whitefly and scale infestations on the mints I’ve just been cutting back the afflicted parts and letting the plants grow back, I can’t do that with my chayote.

And here you can see one of the little bastards.

Those white specks are what the damage looks like.

Anyways the trap is up and hopefully it takes a good chunk out of the whitefly population.

The chayote is very vigorous, to the point where after I put up the trap I had to disentangle it from the apple tree. So I’m not worried too much about it, but it’s better to get ahead of these things.

I have a fair amount of work to do this week, including figuring out what to do with my sun herb bed, which keeps killing oreganos. At least whitefly wont be so much of a problem going forward.

 

Nuking it from orbit

The it of course being my tree collard. The nuke of course…

It’s not like I love the usual red and green aphids, they’re the worst. It’s just that grey and black aphids are the extra worst.

And those damn grey aphids are on the tree collard, and I killed a few black ones on my new baby celery.

So, in the dead of night, my weapon of many little beetles was deployed.

And in the morning at least a few remained!

Some migrated a little off course…

But the few I tipped into the baby celery were still there. In ripping out the awful potted tomatoes I kinda decimated my ladybug colonies. So in order to make sure I have enough eggs in late fall to overwinter, I’m probably going to have to keep topping up the ranks every month or two months until we stop selling them around November.

It’s always better to use a natural method of pest control, even over organics like neem and insecticidal soap.

You’ll pry my B.t. out of my cold dead hands though, as it’s the only thing I’ve ever done against caterpillars that actually works.

I’m a land of contrasts.

Sometimes you just want a potato

And I have potato bags ready to dig!

They are a mess, but potatoes are potatoes, even if the greens are icky looking.

I saved the dirt so I could sift it and reuse it. Probably not for more potatoes however, you can spread potato disease if you do that. I got a good pound of fingerlings.

Maybe not he highest of yields, but I’m learning!

In other nightshade news, the first Black Krim of the season was ready to pick. It was a little mealy- could have picked it yesterday, but the flavor was incredible. I wish I was more confident about the tomatoes in general, our late rain just messed everything up, between the actual water and the fact that the deluge stopped me from doing your basic tomato maintenance in time.

Oh well.

I just boiled the potatoes up and dressed them in olive oil and chives. Best dinner I’ve had in a while honestly.

Sometimes all you need is a pound of home grown carbs.

It’s hard to grow wheat in a backyard, but it’s easy to grow a potato!

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.

Herbal indulgences

Now get your minds out of the gutter I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about basil though.

Everyone knows my favorite basil is the incomparable African blue bush basil.

Both of my bush basils are growing great. So great I think I’m going to try and root cuttings from them.

But African blue bush basil has a more camphor flavor then the Genovese basil and that’s not to everyone’s taste. I like it- but sometimes you just want a more classic basil flavor.

Problem is, green basils just do not grow well in San Francisco.

Well… there’s this one.

This is Greek basil. It smells and tastes (to me at least) just about the same as the Italian stuff, but it’s a hell of a lot heartier than the really picky Italian basil.

So I put the basil in front of the tomatoes in the color bed.

Got to love a mixed bed!

In other herb news all the oregano I put in a bit back has done alright- except for the Greek oregano which beefed it.

So I replaced that.

Now I forget which nursery the first Greek oregano came from, but it was not my favorite. This one came from sweetwater and I think their herbs are pretty high quality.

The borage is just going hog wild, doubled in size already and flowering everyday. And look at all those buds! I keep getting the pink variation too which is nice to look at.

The other herb (well kind of an herb more like a small tree…) that is doing well is my lemon verbena.

It likes it’s home in a pot and stinks real pretty. I’m not even sure I’ll ever use this- though I’m pretty sure you can. I just like the idea of a small herb tree in a pot. Hopefully in a few months it will be a medium herb tree in a pot!

Herbs are nice.