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.

 

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!

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.

Captain’s log: September 1st 2019

September is always a difficult time in the garden. Depending on the weather certain summer veggies are going strong- or failing. Certain herbs are thriving, or starting to die back. Somethings are unchanged, and somethings are just starting to fruit. And of course some bugs have gone away, and some are being a pain in my backside.

It’s a land of contrasts. Now I have to start thinking about fall planting.

I’ve got a lot on my plate.

This rather gorgeous herb is anise hyssop. It supposedly makes great tea, but I haven’t tried it. Honestly planted this one on a whim to see what the flowers looked like. Well now I can say the flowers look pretty great!

The big-leaf thyme flowers are wonderful as always. Also a great attraction for bees which sadly have been lacking in the garden this year. That’s been something of a disappointment, but the wild weather is out of my hands.

Speaking of wild weather yesterday it was 80, and today it drizzled and is foggy.

My poor plants don’t know if it’s coming or going.

Speaking of flowers, the zucchini continues to be very productive. I’m starting to get those wonderful late season baseball bats, that are a little on the tough side but are still delicious.

Time for some stuffed zucchini I guess!

Finally my large corn stalks are starting to flower. Hopefully I can get some full or full-ish sized corn from these stalks. These are flowering at just the right time because September and October are often our hottest months and corn needs to ripen when it’s warm.

This is the base of one of the small runty corn stalks, and as you can see… I’ve got tassels. Which means I have a baby corn and god knows how that will end up.

The blackberry is traveling far afield, which bodes well for next year’s pies.

In brassica news those damn grey cabbage aphids are back again. The foil ring stopped the cabbage fly, and the B.t. has been guarding against cabbage moths. I’ve been using neem for the aphids- but screw it. I’m going to buy an entire container of ladybugs and dump them all on my tree collard.

Nuke it from orbit- it’s the only way to be sure.

I finally planted my fancy oregano. You can see it’s slightly white fly damaged. One more plant to put ladybugs on I guess. I put it in the space the other blue basil was in, as it was dying. The one I have in a pot is also not doing great, but that one I’m going to try to save by hook or by crook.

This whole bed needs a makeover, but it will be a while til I can get to it.

Oops. I was shifting some pots around so I could wack the weeds and uh… whoopsie. I’m sad because I love this pot, I only got it because a wonderful family friend got me some gift cards, and I’m determined to save it. Some sort of epoxy maybe? I’m handy enough that I’m sure I could do it, I just have to figure out how.

This is a ripening lemon boy! Some of the fruits on this plant look really rough, so we’ll see how it does long term, but hey! I’ve got at least one silly yellow tomato.

I’ll take it!

That is less then ideal. I really wanted to get some fennel bulbs this year, and once again fennel is not being nice to me. Fennel might be just too much of a time and space investment for me. The extreme irony is that wild fennel grows, well wild, all around my neighborhood. Wouldn’t eat that stuff though.

And while my pole beans are withering, at least my new bush beans seem to be sprouting at top speed. Life’s just not worth living without beans!

Per usual my dill has sprouted well. I’m going to endeavor to use this dill more aggressively so it doesn’t get all seedy too soon. I have pickling to do!

So when I finally pulped the dying wilted ginger mint, I clipped a few root runners from the most vigorous plant and it looks like I’m going to be rewarded with more of my favorite mint. Seriously this stuff is so crazy vigorous it’s incredible.

And despite everything the sun gold keeps trucking. This has to be the best variety for San Francisco, you can throw everything and the kitchen sink at it weather wise and all it needs is a little TLC and it’ll keep going.

Looks like absolute hell, but it keeps going.

I finally ripped out my overgrown arugula only to find that it had reseeded itself into it’s neighboring beds.

Good thing I like arugula, looks like i’m getting a lot of it!

In intentional seed news, I let my cilantro go to seed entirely as an experiment. You see this is a fancy type of cilantro called “confetti” that has really cool leaves. I wanted to see if I sowed the coriander seed it made, if it would breed true and make the cool leafed cilantro again. Not always a given!

So I sowed it in a couple of pots and time will tell if I get fancy cilantro or the regular but still yummy stuff.

I leave you with the greatest creation of my garden, my very own pumpkin. I’m picking it tomorrow.

Ok, so maybe late summer as we turn into fall is a tough time in the garden. But damn.

That’s a fine pumpkin, so clearly I’m doing something right!

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.

A new plant stand

That only took a little bit of work.

I bought a nice plant stand at work, but there was a problem- it’s an indoor plant stand. Not the most water resistant of metal.

But there’s a technical solution to everything.

And it involves teal spray paint!

It’ll protect the stand from rust, and it’s my mom’s favorite color.

Win win!

The first step to any painting project is a tarp of course. Don’t spray paint the grass! Or your plants or your pots or your fence or your bench.

Or yourself. Oops.

Anyways most of the paint ended up on the plant stand, and only some on the now even bluer tarp.

I even had a buddy come by and inspect my work. Luckily they landed after the paint was mostly dry.

And here’s the final result. It’s nice and elegant, but more importantly, it’s very practical. Should help with keeping the outside neat, as well as making it easier to keep pots off the ground and out of the reach of scale which keeps bothering my mint plants. The Roman mint in all its overgrown glory looks particularly nice cascading over its pot.

Not bad for a sunny days work last week, and I might get a second one so the bench can be flanked.

Of course there’s what needs to be done to the bench.

Firewood.

So maybe the metal parts of the bench will be teal soon too.

We will see!

One set of bean vines down

The purple beans have beaned their last.

Which is surprising to me as this time last year they were still going strong.

All the pole beans are doing kind of iffy this year, probably from the overly rainy weather combined with the subsequent roasting.

Now its cold again and my poor beans are in shock.

I did get a last harvest at least, and these guys are pretty yummy. I’m not sure If i’m going to resow them or not, I already put bush beans in one of the pots, and I have two more vines of pole beans, both in various stages of not great states.

Another complication is that the corner beds are the hottest in the garden- as they’re south facing. While that’s a good thing for warming the soil early in the growing season to reach bean temp for sowing, it does mean in a heat wave those beds are going to get absolutely roasty toasty.

So as always, I have some things to think about for next years planting.

Now I’m off to eat beans!