Captain’s log: Early December 2019

The rains have begun in earnest!

Which means I have to delay my planting, hunker down any little plants, and focus on a big clean up. A clean up of what?

Apples. When I took this picture I was anticipating a not so fun job for my next day off, but when I came home that night the apples were gone, my mother having gone out and taken care of it during a break in the rain. Both to give me a break, and to hopefully deny any rodents a snack. She counted over 150 apples which is a sad waste. We just normally don’t have these sort of yields on this old tree, and it took us completely by surprise this fall. Not to mention the tree is tall and ungainly which means if we get these sort of yields next year I’m going to have to buy a picker so I can get the ones at the top. (and maybe rent a cider press… hmmm)

The other job I’m anticipating… is the interstitial weeds. Ah hello carpet of green. You’re pleasant now, but in a month when you’re kissing my ankles you wont be.

But hey! My idea of strawberry pots is still going strong! When I can run out and pick a nice juicy red guy like this everything is right with the world.

Of course the rains started just when I went to all that effort to try and save my squash vines for another month. They are toast! So are the bush beans in the pot and the bull horn pepper plant. Maybe next garbage night I’ll toss them into the compost.

Losing the squash is interesting as it means I now have a heavily amended free 4×4 bed and I am racking my brain on what I can plant here. Considering my wish for pumpkin supremacy next year I may just do a cover crop. But also I like brassicas and no one can stop me?

It’s a dilemma.

My last really pretty red lettuce is just about ready to pick.

I cut back the sage and… it’s sort-of re-sprouting? I have enough faith in the magic that is Berggarten sage to leave it be through the rains to see if it will come back. If it doesn’t? I’ll replace it. I got few years out of this one, and seven out of my first one from the before times. I’ll never grow another sage again!

Oof I have to pick those leeks. Also I need to weed that pot. All the more so because…

I still have these leeks to plant! And mitsuba and parsley and chervil. Not the baby green onions, they still need more time.

In the keeping of my new format of doing these logs, let’s have some good news. My Japanese bed is doing fantastic because the new rains have really reinvigorated the plants. I still need to weed, and I still need to pick up the dang broken garden gnome/spider factory behind the bed but ew it’s a spider factory you touch it first.

Alright now for some not so great news. The shade herb 4×4 bed is a MESS. All capital letters are needed. The thyme is all dry and bleh the parsley is bolted or already bolted, my garlic chives died in the heat wave and I don’t even like anise hyssop I just think it’s pretty. I have a feeling if there’s a break in the rains I’m going to take a good look at the available herbs at work and do some digging.

Not you Mr. lemongrass you’re perfect.

Hmm… I did get those shallot bulbs…

No that’s crazy talk.

Speaking of things I need to eat. Now that’s a kohlrabi! We’re at the “make Cole slaw with me” stage of this guy and I am here for it.

The only downside to free watering from Mother Nature is that the nutrients in the beds get washed out. So there are for sure a few yellow under leaves of my Bok Choy that I’m having to pull so they down attract slugs.

Time for some seaweed fertilizer!

Also time for some swear words. Arg I hate these cabbage aphids. Wet conditions and extra ants are really helping their population to boom.

I mean insecticidal soap exists for this very reason and I took care of it but it was still icky and gross.

And of course since I can’t be out there in the pouring rain it’s hard for me to hand pick them off. I think the Brussels will be ok but it’s still a pain.

Now that it’s December it’s officially time to take in the bath. I stuck the bee pebbles into the old pitcher and stuck my disassembled bird furniture out of the way. This is truly what a shed is for.

Now of course I have the rest of the month to rearrange the whole garden!

In the pouring rain.

Good think I have a good parka.

Planting the mystery brassica

Well it was time to pick the largest Bok Choy left in the ground, and that freed up space for my mystery veg.

It also gave me an excuse for a wide shot of my west beds.

I would have photos of my yummy Bok Choy only one had cabbage maggots *in the stems* fuck. And it turns out I’m pretty mad about that.

Anyways, mystery plants are in and they’re ready to grow!

I will have to treat these beds now that I know a handful of the cabbage flies are still flying around. Never wanted to bother with beneficial nematodes but I don’t have a choice at this point.

As for the identity of the mystery plant…

I did find one other plant in the store that had some similarities.

Portuguese cabbage or sea kale? This isn’t sea kale. Sea kale is its own thing.

But a fancy kale sounds nice I suppose.

If I can only protect it from maggots bleh.

Mystery brassica

Well sometimes things get mixed up. A six pack of veggies can get misplaced by a customer who decides they want something else- and wind or misadventure can misplace a tag.

Then you end up with something like this.

It’s… a brassica!

Probably Brassica oleracea judging by the shape of it.

But it’s a little strange…

Purple stems and green leaves…

The stems don’t seem to be swollen so probably not a kohlrabi…

Could be a collard or a kale?

Growth comes from the inside… but that’s common for almost all brassicas.

Brussels? Cauliflower? Broccoli? A straight up cabbage?

Well. I suppose I’ll just have to grow it and find out!

The leaves aren’t too damaged from the ubiquitous cabbage moth- I did give it a spray down with B.t. regardless.

Anyways…

🎶mystery plant, it’s a mystery plant🎶

🎶gonna put it in the ground and see what comes up🎶

Of course the space requirements of a Brussels versus a cabbage are very different so…

Stay tuned.

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!

More Brassicas, more problems, more heat.

Well it cracked 90 today here in the sunny Excelsior and I felt like I was going to melt out of my shoes.

Had to do some mid-day emergency watering, which is always fun at noon. Then once the sun wasn’t so high in the sky I did some planting and an even deeper watering that meant I was out until literal nightfall. At least a summer night is pleasant, even though the mid-day temps were brutal.

Kohlrabi! Now this, unlike the Brussels sprouts, is a veggie I’ve grown before. It’s actually pretty easy, and is one of the real fun brassicas. If you’ve never eaten one before give it a try at a farmers market or a really good supermarket, it’s weird looking but tasty.

Unlike the head of cabbage or broccoli, the edible part of a kohlrabi is it’s swollen stem and the leaves. Since it’s not a root veggie like a turnip, I shouldn’t have to worry about the horror that is cabbage maggots.

Easy peasy, just put my seven little plants in a row in front of the sprouts!

Unfortunately the sprouts themselves look a little rough. The heat has done a number on them, though the new growth in the center looks promising. Nothing some deep watering and good mulch can’t fix.

That and as we go into fall, cooler temps.

The caterpillars however, a being a pill.

See that white dot? That’s an egg! My sprouts were riddled with them. I picked off what I could see, and then it was time to spray.

I’m just not going to fool around this year.

I also moved my tree collard over by the other brassicas, and gave him a fresh coat of B.t. as well. I got my first harvest out of him, and boy are collard greens delicious.

I’m having to move a lot of things around, as the season starts to change. So of course my latest garden map is now out of date. Oh well.

I’ll leave you with my neighbor’s barking corgi, who serenaded me all evening long as I gardened. He apparently had something important to tell me as I worked, but as I don’t speak dog it was incomprehensible.

He’s quite cute though.

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!