Biological warfare part 2

So my regular ladybugs weren’t working out. They were active, but not as numerous as I’d like, and the aphids keep trying to take over the Sun Gold.

There is a solution to this dilemma. And they’re native ladybugs to boot. Had to store them in the fridge for a while.

My insane employee discount has raised its head again. The procedure for releasing them is kinda involved, but it works.

You have to wait til it’s dusk. Or dawn, but dusk was more acceptable to me.

First things first you have to spray down the plants you’re releasing the ladybugs on. This gives them water to drink.

Oh boy. That’s a lot of bugs. I tipped in some ladybugs into each pot or bed with aphids. Then I sprayed them down with a little more water so they could drink.

In the morning I saw aphids- and their predators circling their prey.

Not all of the ladybugs made it- a few I tipped into the cauliflower were clearly dead, as a few I put on the herbs.

But they’re reproducing like mad, and I await the hungry larvae.

And while I’m sure a few are going to travel to the neighbors- quite a few of the ones flying around are just going to my other plants. So I have that going for me.

This was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever done- but hey, fuck aphids.

Seriously.

Fuck aphids.

A bolt from the blue

Well quite a bit is going to seed. I gave up on the spinach altogether- tiny plants all growing flower heads. It’s too late for spinach anyways.

As for the old curly leaf parsley-

Parsley is a biennial anyways and these plants are- you guessed it, 2 years old.

The older flat leaf is also bolting, which is annoying as it most certainly isn’t 2 years old.

The big stalks in the back are the bolting flat leaf- the mess in front is the bolting chervil. That’s not a surprise it’s a very tender herb that doesn’t like heat and we had just a few too many sunny days. I wouldn’t even replace it until November or so. Which sucks because I love chervil and you can’t really buy it in stores.

If we end up with a radically cold summer I’ll buy another plant… I also might have seeds… well I have some thinking to do re: chervil.

These beauties are my carrots. Once they start flowering they’re basically no longer edible. Woody cores, lack of flavor… on Friday I’m going to dig up the lot and see if there are a few small edible carrots hiding in the thicket. But yeah, it’s time to re-seed the carrot bed anyways.

That was always this month’s task anyways.

I would find the parsley ending it’s lifespan annoying if it wasn’t for one thing.

So a month ago or so I went through a whole song and dance trying to grow curly parsley from seed. It’s kinda tricky- you have to soak the seeds overnight and sow them a certain way. I waited and waited and waited… bupkis. Until now! It looks like parsley just takes a really long time to germinate. I had planted quite a few herbs along my parsley row when it didn’t come up, and now the parsley is growing up in-between everything.

Best laid plans of mice and Neanderthals I suppose.

But at least I’ll have more parsley.

Romanesco issues

The little romanescos are still growing, but the big one that survived the maggots is getting quite big.

There’s just one problem.

This is a romanesco:

This is what is growing in my garden.

Did… something happen when the seeds were packed? Did purple cauliflower jump into the seed packet? Did I screw something up so badly that the color and shape changed?

I’m grateful that the romanesco isn’t having the same issues as the cauliflower, but I am deeply confused.

Oh well. It’s some kind of broccoli and I love broccoli.

But this is weird.

Captain’s log: sometime this week

I never have enough time these days, but now thanks to my job, I have plenty of thyme!

(BOOOOOOOOOOO)

Specifically lemon and English thyme, which I added to my French and big leaf thyme.

Soon they’ll be trying to take over the herb bed too. The other herbs I put in are doing well thanks to the wacko May downpour we’ve suddenly got.

More on that later.

The purple peas are vigorously trying to scale my neighbor’s fence, and they’re putting out gorgeous flowers.

Nice. Snap peas here I come.

In other flowering news- my biggest sunflower has gotten gigantic.

No closer to making a flower head- though it’s neighbor’s the zucchini’s look nice and bushy. And wet. Squash is prone to molds and mildews on the leaves- but if it’s going to keep raining I’m not sure what I can do to stop it.

The cucumbers are soaking it up though. They are obediently growing vertically and soon I can train them up the tripod.

I got more herbs then thyme however- a lemon verbena, a really fancy cilantro, and a lonely apple mint that I’ve seen languishing on the herb table at work for longer than I’ve actually been working there- getting bigger and bigger while nobody bought it.

I’ll buy you you beautiful gigantic apple mint.

But first I had to plant my lemon verbena. That meant getting rid of my sorrel.

Look- I like sorrel, but it’s toxic in large quantities and it was refusing to play nice in its pot- to the point where it was growing its roots through its drainage holes trying to take over the garden yet again. There’s a reason I call all my sorrels Audrey II.

So I put my Verbena in my newly empty rainy grey pot.

Lemon verbena is actually a small shrub or tree. Or it will be. That’s why I put it in a larger pot. It’s deciduous like an oak tree- and will be bare twigs in winter- but it will come back into lemon scented magnificence in spring.

I had more planting to do… but…

Sudden rain attack.

Come on San Francisco it’s May! And I planted your namesake! Give me a break!

I had to wait a bit to plant the rest.

Mister big mint had to go into a plastic pot that once held my blackberry- as I’ve run out of proper pots. Oh well my employee discount will be doing some work in June I suspect. Mister fancy cilantro went into the old pennyroyal pot. the reason my pennyroyal pot was empty was that it had become majorly pot-bound.

Oof. I saved it and put in in my next biggest pot- but it will soon need another repotting. Again… I have some shopping to do.

You may have noticed that I cut the apple mint down to size- And he wasn’t the only one.

My red-stemmed peppermint that I grew from a cutting has gotten gigantic- so I cut him down to size too. And then took the cuttings and put them into pots!

I’m just going to be drowning in mint soon and I’m loving every second of it.

I’m going to have to throw a meet-up in a month to give away plants. That’s a great problem to have.

I’ll leave you all with the poppy the birds sowed this year- blooming away with a bee in one of its flowers.

Wait I lied- I’ll leave you with the most beautiful image a gardener can have in May.

Hell yeah baby tomato!

Yesterday’s breakfast harvest

The fabric bed under the lemon tree is a huge success. It looks like all the copy about fabric beds being good for roots has some merit. While it’s a risk growing yet more cabbage family plants this time of year with the cabbage fly- I’m hoping the quick harvest time on some of these will give me a reprieve from the maggots.

The French breakfast radishes are beautiful- and tasty.

Radishes are possibly the quickest growing vegetable available- at least the small guys- daikon is another delicious story. 20-30 days from seed to harvest. I scatter them in shady areas around the garden- as long as they aren’t in a bed with a legume they grow fast and fat.

My first green onions are ready to harvest as well. These are also good to scatter throughout the garden, for a few reasons. One- like a lot of alliums, they repel pests. Two- they need very little space. Because they grow vertically and thinly, you can really pack them into a bed. And three- unlike radishes and other root crops, you can total put them in a bed with a legume, and take advantage of all that sexy nitrogen.

Here’s my first fat scallion. These are also, much like radishes, a crop you can basically grow year round in my climate. Radishes will get a little iffy in the absolute hottest of weather- but even then they’ll grow in a shady spot. Nothing stops an green onion. Big onions have some restrictions, I’ve never grown them due to being a bit nervous about it- it scallions are like gardening on easy mode.

A few days before the great radish harvest- I pulled the horrible ugly dead potato bags and discovered they actually had given me potatoes.

Not a lot of potatoes- but I’ll take it.

Those are some nice thin skinned new potatoes. Of course the six remaining heathy bags will give me many more potatoes than this.

They wait- growing bushier by the second.

Fingerling potato heaven here I come!

Yerba Buena

So one of the perks of my job is getting to see all sorts of really interesting plants the days they come in. Because before I was only really at my local garden center every so often for soils and plants- I’m sure I missed plenty of really interesting things just because they’d all sold out before I could get to see them.

Here’s a good example.

This beautiful trailing mint is Yerba Buena. If you know anything about the history of my hometown, you’ll probably know that during the years of Spanish occupation- San Francisco’s name *was* Yerba Buena. The name only became San Francisco after the Mexican-American war.

Literally translated, Yerba Buena (there’s some real nomenclature confusion with this one, the scientific names are many- some say it’s in genus Satureja, others say Micromeria or Clinopodium. My plant label says Satureja but apparently molecular evidence says otherwise.) means “good herb”. When the Spanish missionaries first stumbled upon the area of land that would become San Francisco, they found this plant in abundance, a creeping perennial that grows all over Northern California.

To add to the nomenclature confusion- it is sometimes referred to as “Indian mint” which is a common name that can refer to many different plants. It was used as food and medicine by the indigenous Ohlone, and to this day makes a really nice tea that various herbal medicine types claim will cure your ills.

I don’t need a cure all- but I love mint and mint relatives, especially this glorious specimen. The smell is incredibly pleasant- minty but not like a sharp minty smell, more soft and… honestly it defies description. This is a plant which odds are will just not be available to you unless you live in Northern California, but I highly recommend it if you can find it. It likes shade and is a real creeper- cascading over a pot so delicately.

Can’t wait to try to make tea from it, can’t wait to see if I can propagate it from cuttings.

I love my new job!

Fun with cuttings

So I like to take cuttings from my mint plants and grow more mint. Some of this is so I can finally ditch the mint thunderdome and put something else in that pot- but a lot of it is so I can give home grown mint plants as gifts to friends.

Like this lovely strawberry mint. It’s easy to grow mint from cuttings- but it’s never a one hundred percent success. In fact-

Those are my successful cuttings so far- minus the few I’ve given as gifts already.

Here’s a stack of all the failures! Cuttings are always a gamble- but mint in particular has a higher chance of success than most other plants.

It’s a fairly simple procedure. You just snip off some mint, right under some leaves, usually a piece a few inches long. Then you strip all but the top-most leaves off, and stick it in some dirt. I put a pinch of sure-start on the stem. Then you just keep it wet and wait!

Here’s my new hopefuls- 2 more pineapple mint, and 4 lovely ginger mints from the new plant I put in.

Hopefully I’ll have more mint to give soon!