Captain’s log: Late July 2019

San Francisco’s weather continues to be horrifically typical, but regardless, I got a fair amount done the last couple of days, including clearing the horribly mildewed peas.

I’ll spare you the pictures as it was bad. Just gobs of white powder all over my hands and shirt as I wrestled yards of pea vines into the compost bin.

But hey! The color bed is otherwise well, and now I have a spot for the chayote to live. I really have to spend a day off laying down more sluggo, as all this damp weather is bringing back the slugs in force.

Sluggo and weeding.

The upper squash bed was not one of my more brilliant ideas. If we were having a warmer summer I might have gotten away with it, but being under the Apple tree has increased the mildew on the leaves by about a thousand percent. This is after I chopped off most of them and it’s still a mess.

Ok. I can make lemonade with these lemons. Onion bed? Onion bed.

The Swiss chard that has been delicately shaded by the beans is growing well, though it’s a tad buggy. You can see the edge of the ever encroaching pumpkin vine. Like a madman, I’m probably going to put my little scallop squash plants in front of the chard, just to see what happens. The okra seedlings I planted there never took so I have the space, even if they’re going to trail down over the front.

Yes yes yes green beans!

Also yes yes yes purple beans!

The bean vines might be a little wimpy this year but it looks like once again I’ll be drowning in haricot verts.

This pleases me.

As much as all the tomatoes look a mess- the San Francisco fog’s are plugging away. Dozens of fruit slowly growing and still more flowers. This plant was far enough away from nightmare aphid land that it seems to have escaped the horror that enveloped the sungold. So I might get my oceans of tomatoes after all!

For all that it’s runty- my Italian Bull Horn pepper has set a nice pepper. Like the fog it seems to be subscribing to the slow and steady mentality- and I’ll take it. These are meant to be picked red, so I’ll wait.

The hyssop continues to grow. Since adult ladybugs feed on pollen as well as aphids- I’m inclined to leave the hyssop to flower. It’ll encourage the ladybugs to stick around and eat the nasties.

I picked my first beet! And unlike the nightmare that was my turnips, the only critter eating this beet is me! And my dad. I think I’m just going to have a dedicated beet bed and keep re-sowing. This was pretty easy to grow and I am always here for an easy crop.

The tree collard had rebounded, but of course it’s still a brassica and that involves some issues. I noticed that one leaf had a few holes in it and when I went to inspect it- the underside had DOZENS of little squirming caterpillars munching away. After making a manly sound that could be heard from space, I clipped that leaf and smushed it, and sprayed the whole plant down with neem oil.

It seems to be otherwise fine, but oh god blech. Got to keep a close eye on this guy for sure.

I forgot how simple corn is at this stage. The tricky stuff is all in the pollination and ripening stages, but corn at this stage is easy-peasy. Water it well and you will be rewarded with astonishing vertical growth. I do occasionally have to spray out the interior with water where the new growth comes from to kill bugs, but that’s not overly difficult.

To replace my stolen jade plant I have planted a “sticks on fire” euphorbia. These can get quite vertical and showy, and have toxic sap to boot. I wore gloves to plant him. So if anyone wants to try to dig him up they are welcome to try.

In new crazy mint news, I got my new favorite mint, chocolate peppermint. Smells like a gourmet peppermint patty.

I leave you with the first bloom of my fancy sunflowers. Another bonus food source for the ladybugs and bees, and a welcome sight at the back of the garden. Summer is well and truly here.

Even if so is the fog.

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!

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!

Captain’s log: July 12th 2019

I went out this morning before work, expecting to have to water a few things.

Mother nature seems to have done that for me in the night. In July.

God I love San Francisco weather. Even when it screws me. I’ve got powdery mildew on nearly everything, and lord only knows what this will do to my tomatoes but hey, I got some nice pictures of water on my plants.

Here’s some raindrops on my corn. The corn is growing well, and corn can always use more water so I’m not very concerned at all.

My tree collard has rebounded, perhaps wrapping the roots in tin foil wasn’t so stupid, as it shows no sign of maggot infestation. It also looks pretty drenched.

It seems my succulent pot is hosting a spider convention, judging from the dewy spiderwebs. Oh well, they live in the back too.

The dill is growing well, and can use the water. So far this dill plant has been fairly successful, so my bad streak of failed dill plants has finally ended.

The sage has been a bit curious. That whole bed has been curious, as one of the newer Greek oregano’s beefed it, the blue basil in the bed isn’t doing as well as the one in the pot, and the sage is sprouting a ton of new growth from underneath, while having yellowing leaves up top.

The rain on top looks like snow, and well, maybe some extra water will be good for the bed.

It was time to water the potted tomatoes anyways so I’ll just hit them with some fertilizer tomorrow and call it a day. Too much water on the plant is only going to encourage the aphids, but if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.

Cucumber’s are thirsty thirsty plants so while the dreaded powdery mildew might strike the leaves, the cucumbers themselves are probably thrilled. I see you little Boston pickle, you’ll get picked soon, wait your turn!

California poppies are the honey badger of flowers. They don’t give a fuck. Too much water? Fine. Not enough water? Fine. No worries here.

Alas the pea plant is a bit of a mess. The really wet fog, to say nothing of the rain, has impacted not only the leaves but the pods, with the latest harvest being covered in powdery mildew. I had to scrub it off the pods, and soak them in a slight vinegar solution before I rinsed and stored them. Still edible! But very ugly. Nothing I can do though, except take a very pretty picture of a wet pea flower.

AH San Francisco- never change.

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.

Cuttings and seedings for the meet-up

So if you’re on metafilter and a local you know what I’m talking about- if not this might be a slightly confusing post.

I’m hosting a meet-up where I can hopefully offload some of the cuttings and seedlings I’ve been growing so I don’t have to compost viable plants.

This includes the 4 lipstick peppers that I didn’t plant, oodles of mint, and some other assorted veggies and herbs.

No telling who will survive until next week of course, transplanting is dangerous.

I went a little overboard in the dwarf sunflower department, but they’re a good plant for a balcony pot. I also have some borage, which is my new favorite herb, along with more mint, and a few squash plants because why not.

Some of the root systems were really encouraging though. This romaine looks like a real trooper.

Some of the larger mint plants roots were frankly a little scary. Look at those runners developing under the root ball! I put this one into a gallon pot- I suspect whoever gets this one will have to move it to something bigger within a month or so.

Here are my giant mints, an assortment of ginger mint, pineapple mint and one each of apple mint and a mystery mint.

What is the mint?

A mystery.

No seriously I can’t remember what it is.

Now I just have to figure out how to get these plants to the restaurant. Ah logistics, my eternal nemesis.

See some of you there!

Fixing up the front

So the front patch was looking more than a little weedy and overgrown, with the jade plants kinda taking over the place.

The solution was a little weeding- and more jade plants.

See? It needed some work. Clearing out the weeds was no problem, and then I planted my two new specimens.

I nestled my silver dollar jade next to the paddle plant against the wall.

This funny guy is supposedly a vigorous grower, so I put him closer to the curb so he can get more light. Then I just watered them with a little tappin roots and hopefully they’ll take. Maybe I’ll spring for some cactus fertilizer in a week or two to give them a boost.

Then It was just a matter of hacking back the jade plants. Poor little Aeonium, he’s not in the best of shape sandwiched between two jades. I might get some rocks to fill in the gaps. Still, it’s a better front patch then it was yesterday, so that’s nice.

Not everything has to be edible you know.