A joke goes horribly horribly wrong. Or horribly horribly right?

So dad really really loves the garden. After all, he and mom started it before I was born, and both of my parents are really glad I’ve picked it up again, now that they can’t do the sort of intensive labor that a vegetable garden needs.

Mom still helps out, G-d bless her, watering during heat waves when I’m at work for instance, checking on tender seedlings, and quite a few times I’ve come down to a very clean work table and a weeded garden just because she was bored and wanted to help me out. Mom’s the best.

Dad on the other hand is not as steady on his feet as he used to be, and after a few falls in the back, (he was ok- but it could have been much worse) dad doesn’t garden anymore. Trust me though- he wants to. I’ve definitely put in plants for him, he does get out and look around from time to time (with care) and he loves the blog so he can keep up- (Hi dad!) but he’s permanently off watering and weeding. (Which he probably doesn’t mind!) It’s my greatest joy to bring up produce for him, he’s a huge fan of the alpine strawberries and Bok Choy.

Now sometimes, since he knows I’ll put in plants for him, he likes to yank my chain. I tend to take things very literally, so it sometimes takes me a while to get that he’s kidding me about the orange tree he wants me to plant or the rare tropical fruit.

(Though I’m still looking for a banana that will fruit in San Francisco- stay tuned.)

But! A few weeks ago he made a joke about how I should grow a redwood. After patiently explaining to him that we didn’t have the room, and that I grow edibles not trees- It finally dawned on me that he was joking and my parents and I had a good laugh at my complete lack of joke-sense.

And then in Sausalito on one of my days off I found this:

I’M GONNA DO IT DAD, WHO’S LAUGHING NOW!

(All of us, all of us are laughing now.)

The idea is, we don’t own this redwood, we are fostering it. I’m going to grow it in increasingly bigger pots, and see how big I can get it. When it’s just big enough that any more growth means we can’t get it through the garage to the outside, I’ll find a permanent home for it.

Maybe Muir Woods could use a new redwood?

That’s a future problem.

The current problem is- how do I do it?

So after some research and a poll of my coworkers I determined that redwoods like acidic soil. Good thing I have some azalea mix left in the soil shed!

Ah, but redwoods also need superior drainage- so it’s also a good thing I have a lot of perlite left from potting the chayote.

The soil was mixed in one of my left-over gallon pots. Then I extracted the redwood plug from the weird plastic cylinder and cardboard surround. A mix of sure start in the hole and I potted it up!

Of course what redwood would be complete without shredded redwood mulch! Now, before you think that’s a tad cannibalistic, shredded redwood (gorilla hair) is usually taken from the outside of living redwood trees, and not from dead ones. So if you think about it, a naturally growing redwood seedling on the coast would be sprouting in soil covered in the fallen outer bark of its parents, so this is probably ideal.

I watered it well with a shot of tappin roots for extra oomph and now I’m just going to see what happens.

It’s weird that the best case scenario of this folly is a forest ranger taking my redwood away after 5 years to go live in a park, but I’m committed to this, and so is dad.

Dad and I should also be committed.

But I’ve known that for a while.

Weather damage in late October

Most of this post could be un-ending cursing just because I may have lost about 20-30% of the plants in my garden due to the absolute bull pucky that is fall in San Francisco, but I’m going to try and not go blue.

We’ll see if I can succeed.

So this was sort of a one-two-three punch. First, we had very very wet weather for a week and half or so- which was welcome even if it caused a few problems. One of the entertaining problems was the sudden cluster of mushrooms in the shade herb bed.

And before you even ask- no I am not eating random mystery mushrooms. I like to live my life on the edge but that is too far thank you very much.

The wet was the return of the fog, but also some morning rain, which was very welcome. It is making my zucchini look very sad though. Powdery mildew is basically the price of doing business in San Francisco. You will get it- it’s just a matter of controlling it. This actually isn’t so bad, I should be able to cut off the worst leaves and despite it being almost November, I should still get the occasional squash until real winter comes.

But then we had the two day heat wave.

Now- I watered well, but it was not enough. As you can see- my garlic chives bit the dust. Also my yerba buena, most of my tarragon and half my parsley plants.

And not to underplay this- when I say heat wave? It was nearly 100 degrees in my neck of the woods. Highs of 97.

Still trying not to swear, but you better believe the blackberry vines were covering their ears the days this happened.

And then- it got worse.

These are the seedlings I have yet to plant. They are inside. Why are they inside?

Because yesterday- oh god yesterday, the santa ana winds came back. 95 mile per hour wind gusts. I first heard them at 3:30 am on Sunday morning, when like all good little neanderthals I was asleep in my bed. Ooh I thought, how nice, the howling sounds make my bed feel extra cozy.

Then, as I snuggled in my warm bed, my eyes shot open in horror as I realized what was about to happen to my half flat of seedlings outside on nothing sturdier then two milk crates.

One half naked pitch black run outside later, my seedlings were living on top of the washing machine for the night and later day.

Judging my how the milk crates were strewn throughout the garden come dawn on Sunday, I’m really glad I took them inside.

Here’s a quick video I took before heading to work. At work pretty much half the tall plants were knocked over, and we didn’t bother righting them because they’d just get knocked over again. Also our internet was down because of the power outages in Marin, which turned the usually quick process of ringing people up into a molasses like slog.

It was a day.

There were causalities. The corn is basically toast. The ginger mint seedlings are gone. and as you can see, my chile de arbol got hammered.

Luckily it’s a pepper plant all it needed was a stake and some love.

I’m not sure love can save my blue basil though. The winds dried it out to the point that while I’ll make an attempt- coming on the heels of the heat wave makes me suspicious it can be saved.

My pot bush beans also got re-arranged but they’re the type of plant that doesn’t really care.

My tree collard needed re-staking and my parsnips fell over, but all in all it could have been much worse.

After all that, I still have a half-flat worth of plants to plant. And a giant clean-up project.

And I’m going to have to completely re-do the shade herb bed.

Shit.

Oh god monster zuke

So for a while all the zucchini I’ve been getting have been fairly runty, and if I try to let them grow to normal size, fairly rotty. Not terribly surprising as the vines are old at this point. Weirdly the leaves look very healthy for this time of year, so I started digging around the base to see if anything was off or not.

WHY HELLO THERE.

Um. Wow. Looks like my vines were putting all their energy into one monster zucchini which is why all the rest were on the runty side.

Good news is now that the monster has been slain picked, the rest of the squash should develop as normal, and I should be getting zucchini into at least October.

The bad news is what the hell am I going to do with this behemoth? It’s almost as hard as a pumpkin! This is a straight up marrow!

Stuffed and baked?

Stuffed and baked.

As far as ridiculous problems go, this is a good one to have.

Planting a fall bed, second best brassica edition

As the season turns, from summer into actual summer fall, it comes time to plant more cabbage family crops. I have my nice bok choy, which despite my best efforts of spraying them and setting slug bait, are becoming well nibbled.

*sigh*

One must pay the pest tax to garden.

ANYWAYS.

Look, I don’t have the room/time/patience to painstakingly make my own compost. So I buy, sue me. It’s good stuff! After sifting through the remains of the last bed, I added a bag of the good stuff and mixed it in. I kept some of the old shredded redwood, it helps the bed drain.

Then it was time to plant my little darlings.

And time to swaddle them in mulch as a hedge against the 80 degree temperatures we keep getting.

80 degree temps *and* rain in the morning whoo hoo San Francisco!

But what, you ask, are these little darlings?

Brussels’s sprouts!

My second favorite brassica, and one I’ve never grown before!

I’m terrified!

But they look nice, and with the exception of my cursed experience with turnips, I’m good with the brassicas.

I hear they look like spaceships when they get tall!

Oh and I planted some spinach.

In literally the shadiest part of the garden, and I still expect half of it will bolt by October.

Or fall prey to the pests.

Spinach keeps breaking my heart, but I keep answering it’s siren song.

Time to buy more sluggo!

Pepper problems

So at this point I have two established pepper plants, a lipstick pepper and a Italian Bull Horn pepper. The Lipstick has some nice fruits, so I thought it was time to pick a few.

Look at those nice big green peppers. Now lipstick peppers are generally picked at the red stage, but even with our heat wave there is no guarantee they’ll get that ripe, and I just wanted to check for texture anyways.

Quality control!

One of my local ladies was chilling on the plant, which is always nice to see.

Right. So three nice green peppers. One minor problem- there was a small hole in the top of one of them. Might as well cut it open just to make sure right?

Fuck cabbage moths. Just… I hate those little bastards so much. Needless to say this pepper ended up in the compost.

Also- since when do ‘cabbage’ moths eat peppers! ARGGG.

Well It’s a good thing I bought B.t. for the tree collard. Turns out I’m going to have to use it for the dang peppers too because life’s not fair and caterpillars suck.

In the end the peppers were ok but too bitter. I’ll try to let the rest ripen, or make sure to cook them first. It’s ok- these were picked as quality control, so it’s ok that they weren’t perfect.

But seriously I hate cabbage moths.

 

The dangerous damp

Well- dangerous is an exaggeration. In many ways the added moisture is good for most of my plants.

Not the tomatoes.

The tomatoes are a fucking mess. No pictures, but maybe a future post on what not to do.

The powdery mildew is becoming a real pain though.

It’s destroying my peas- gonna have to pull them early, but it’s not a death sentence for most plants.

That’s a squash leaf. One I’ll be cutting off soon. It’s annoying- but the squash I’m getting is great.

Just so much squash. Powdery mildew on a lot of plants is largely cosmetic. As long as you dutifully cut off the worst leaves, the fruit will be fine.

Same with the cucumbers.

Bushy leaves that are starting to look a bit rough.

But…

I’ve got so many damn cucumbers!

The telegraph improved in particular are the real winners here. The Boston pickles are good, but I made the mistake of letting them get too large and they became totally bitter to the point of being inedible. The telegraph can get huge and still be delicious. So now I have to be really on top of the Boston pickles and pick them young, but I can be a bit calmer about the telegraph.

I wish I knew what was wrong with the pumpkins. The vine is healthy. The leaves are only slightly mildewed, but the fruit that sets rots after a week. I’ve working in oyster shell in case it’s blossom end rot- and I’ve worked in good long term fertilizer and I’ve watered well- I’m mystified.

I’ve consulted with my boss and his suggestions is that it could be incomplete pollination or a lack of phosphorus. So I’ll work some phosphorus into the bed and next time I get a male and female flower at the same time I’ll hand pollenate just to see if it works.

We haven’t gotten too many bees this year due to the cold and damp so incomplete pollination seems likely. Guess I get to play bee this year.

The tops of my beets also look a bit weather beaten.

But the roots look fantastic.

The weather may be terrible- but you can’t beat beets!

I will never apologize for a pun!

Upcoming projects or; the infinite madness of garlic chives

So A few nice plants came through the door of my local garden center, and with my employee discount, a purchase was in order. I’ll have some projects for my days off- which is how I like it.

These are jade plants. Interesting jade plants. I’ll talk more about them when they have their own post. The front of the house has been a tad neglected, and is more than a little weedy. On top of that, the succulents in the soil strip out front haven’t been taking. They’re alive, but runty.

Except for my two gigantic jade plants. My only problem with them is they’re very generic. I feel like every house in San Francisco has those two jade plants. But, clearly, that area is very favorable to jade. So jade plants it is- but that doesn’t mean they have to be typical.

I’ve also gotten two new Greek oregano. The first one I put in died- the second looks rough, I’m just not taking any chances you know?

I’ll have to make space of course.

That won’t be hard. This is the Italian oregano. It’s woody and buggy and tasteless. Makes pretty flowers, but has almost no flavor or aroma. Seriously- Greek is the way. So I’ll pull this one to make room for my two new guys and hopefully with a little TLC at least one of my now three oregano plants will survive to flavor my imminent tomatoes.

Now a quiz.

Spot any garlic chives here? In this pot of garlic chives I’ve re-sowed THREE TIMES.

See any? No? Me neither.

Are these garlic chives? I sowed some along with regular chives in the color bed, and only the regular chives came up. So most likely- not garlic chives.

Here’s an egg carton full of dirt I sowed with garlic chive seeds, and in order to give them the darkness they crave I would close the lid after watering. After all that care… Bupkis.

I’ve gone through two seed packets- for absolutely nothing.

I swear to god when the garlic chive plants came through the door at work today I cackled like an overly satisfied witch. Screw seeds! I have four goddamn plants and I am going to be lousy with garlic chives.

Nothing can stop me! I’m going to have egg drop soup with garlic chives in a month or so and it’s going to be perfect.

Seriously why is it so hard to grow garlic chives when regular chives are the easiest thing in the world.

Anyways, I have a few projects ahead of me. Which suits me just fine.