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.

 

Mixed beds and new plants

I had a lot of work to do yesterday, the carrots and potatoes weren’t even the half of it.

I had to wrestle the sun herb bed into shape for one.

That sage is super overgrown. And the chamomile is no longer viable. Well for me anyways. I had a few cups of chamomile tea from this plant. They were delicious. And I got super sick. Turns out chamomile doesn’t agree with me.

Out it goes!

After ripping out the poison flower and hacking away at the sage, it was time to plant.

I got a marjoram, and three types of oregano to add to my extant Italian variety. Mexican oregano, Greek oregano, and the exquisite smelling Syrian oregano.

I like oregano.

After planting I put down a top dressing of compost and dressed that with the mulch.

The most fun mixed bed is yet to come.

I got two late season tomatoes on a whim.

The first is a Lemon Boy,

Nice yellow guy- nothing wrong with that.

I’ll let the label of the second one speak for itself.

Dancing with smurfs!

A blue cherry tomato!

I had to try it.

They’re in the purple pea bed, and to help with the inevitable bugs I sowed a few borage seeds along with every last one of my chive seeds.

I’m gonna have to get tomato cages at work soon.

But this is nice.

What’s also nice is blueberries. But what about a pink blueberry?

(Of course this raises a few ontological questions on whether a pink blueberry could be considered a *blue*berry but I’m just going to think happy thoughts about berries)

To grow any kind of berry you need acidic soil, so I chucked a bag of azalea mix into a 10 gallon fabric pot and potted it up all pretty.

It should really be on a milk crate for better air circulation to the roots, but an old basket was all I could find.

The final job was to plant my tree collard.

This presented an issue. Collards, tree or otherwise, are brassicas. Aka cabbage maggot bait. I want perpetual collard greens, and I’m not about to let some silly flies get it my way.

So I decided to try out an old wives tale.

You wrap the roots in aluminum foil. They can grow out the base, but the sides and top are protected from flies.

Hopefully.

Anyways he’s a pretty tree-to-be and at least I’ve done my due diligence with regards to my eternal fly issue.

Don’t talk to me about cauliflower I will cry.

Captain’s log: April 28th 2019

It’s been a bit of a week. Bit of two weeks really, the increase in temperature and sun has been a boon for the tomatoes and maybe not a boon for some other things.

First the sun gold. It’s huge! And it’s still growing which is phenomenal! I’m not falling into last year’s trap of overwatering so by being sparing with water but unsparing with maxsea I seem to have hit upon the right formula for cherry tomato nirvana.

Of course unleashing ladybug larvae on the plant seems to have helped. I still find the occasional red aphid on the plant but it’s clearly a lone survivor easily snuffed out by a squish.

I’m spotting ladybug larvae all around the garden, including nestled in my sage.

Aphids generally don’t attack sage, but other pests can, so go and be hungry my larvae friend!

I’m not so great larvae news, the cabbage fly maggots have definitely attacked the roots of the cauliflower. I killed a bunch yesterday and thankfully today they were nowhere to be found. So either they’ve turned into pernicious flies- or between squishing and spraying I got them.

As you can see the cauliflower looks fairly healthy regardless- but some of the underleaves look very rough, and clearly the root nibbles were not good for the plant. I’m giving them a little extra fertilizer and hopefully they’ll rebound. Cabbage fly is an awful pest but much more deadly to root brassicas than leaf brassicas- especially a cauliflower of this size that’s well developed.

That being said I have baby romanesco all over the garden and I’m going to have to be very diligent in checking their roots for eggs. In a baby leaf brassica cabbage fly can be fatal.

Speaking of baby cabbages, the new shade fabric bed filled with brassicas and lettuce is starting to sprout. I sowed the bed in a frenzy and didn’t write down what was what… but I think I sowed tokyo market turnips and komatsuna closer to the fence along with radishes and mizuna- and then lettuces and arugula closer to the path. I think. The point is it looks like it’s all coming up so go shade bed!

My new potted chervil is doing well- it looks like chervil is more of a pot herb then a bed herb. You can see the little fronds on top, that’s fresh growth, a sign that the chervil likes its new moist shady spot.

Besides the issues I’m having with the parsley in the shade bed, the lemon balm has gotten quite tall. I’m attempting to try to grow a few new plants from cuttings but so far the lemon balm hasn’t taken. The pineapple mint has though, I have several growing from cuttings.

As you can see they’re quite vigorous. I’m also attempting to grow some thyme from cuttings, jury’s out on that one. Cuttings are a crapshoot- like 60% just don’t take. But with a little surestart and some love some will- and then you can multiply your plants. This is especially useful in plants like mint and thyme which can be used as borders or ground cover- expensive to buy all the plants you need to cover such a space- much cheaper to take care of a few vigorous specimens and over the course of a few months take cutting after cutting until you have enough for your needs.

I wish my chives were doing better. There’s a very un-chive like sprout in the garlic chive pot which makes me think weed, and the regular chives are barely growing. Are they getting too much sun? Should I have sowed more thickly? I just really want some dang garlic chives! Back to the drawing board I figure.

The monster squash is growing squash! We picked our first zucchini yesterday and there will be more in the coming days. I suspect much more.

And of course there’s my other zucchini plants in the back which are growing well when the feral cats aren’t sitting on them. I suspect they’ll be too spiky for cat butts soon anyways.

The beans sowed from seed in the back- Kentucky Wonders- are growing nice. They’re mulched and one or two of the Swiss chard seeds have sprouted in front, but they’re too small to mulch. Swiss chard can get huge when planted with beans, due to the nitrogen fixing so fingers crossed. In a week I’ll put up the trellis for these guys- have to check to see if I have enough stakes of the proper size though.

I have concerns about the blue lake pole bean starts though. Some have been just eaten up and are wilting badly, while others are vigorous and putting out new growth.

I had good luck with the haricot vert starts last year and I’m sad those weren’t available but I’ve staggered my pole beans well so I should get a good harvest. Not to mention if the trionfo violetto give harvest early enough I might be able to take advantage of our Indian summers in September/August and plant some late season harvest green beans. After all the soil temp requirements for germination are separate from the growing temperature requirements and as long as we don’t get any frosts I might get some winter beans.

My bigger potatoes are looking a little rough. Much like the spittle bugs on my parsley, earwigs are harmless unless they’re in great numbers. Sadly, much like the high level of spittle bugs on my parsley, the level of earwigs feasting on my potato stems is causing problems- so it’s sluggo time.

Luckily my younger potatoes are growing great- it’s gonna be time to put extra soil in those bags soon. This might be the crucial difference between proper seed potato and just chucking supermarket potatoes in a bag though. It could be the sulfur dip I put on my supermarket potatoes wasn’t enough and that’s why it’s acting up. We’ll see anyways.

I re-staked the San Francisco fog, as the v-shaped bean trellis was not right for this tomato the way it was right for the sun gold. It’s just a hoop and two free standing stake and I’ve used soft ties to lift some leaves off the soil. Not fancy but it works.

I’ll leave you with some magnificent chamomile ready for harvest. The ease with which I’ve grown this is pretty astonishing. Just put the plant in and away it went! I’m looking forward to tea.

Tea and less cabbage fly.

Finally sowing the back mixed bed

This is the bed that used to have Swiss chard and arugula- both going to seed. I still want Swiss chard, but I have an arugula pot for the arugula. Also this bed gets a lot of sun, good for chard not so good for arugula. In winter it wasn’t such a big deal but now that the days are longer…

Ripping out the bed was hard work. I had no idea arugula roots were so deep.

I had about a third of a packet left of five color silverbeet and many Kentucky wonder seeds left.

The back is sowed with green beans, and the front with chard. I’m expecting the chard to need some serious thinning, I oversowed because chard is one of those seeds that sometimes just doesn’t come up.

I also sowed what was left of the chard packet behind the upper Bok Choy and romanesco. Eventually the very back of that bed will also have green beans. In order to get a staggered harvest of beans I’m waiting to sow until the other plants are bigger.

In other seed news, the regular chives are coming up- but the garlic chives are not, so I resowed them.

Chives need darkness to germinate so it’s possible the soil on top wasn’t packed down firmly enough.

I’ll leave you with my neighborhood supervisor who was very interested in all the work I was doing out back.

Captain’s log: March 14th 2019

Well I had to push the grand soil haul til tomorrow, but that didn’t mean I could rest on my laurels.

The weather is beautiful out- and coupled with the return of daylight savings I have a ton more usable time out in the garden. It was around 70 degrees out in the hottest part of the day today, and while I know a week from now we are going to have some more rain, it truly feels like the beginnings of Spring.

See- a bumble bee! This is the third or fourth I’ve seen this year so far, which is exciting. Just because I don’t grow most flowers doesn’t mean I can’t have a bee friendly garden. Most of my herbs flower wonderfully, and I’m planting more.

The blue pot is the garlic chives 2.0 after the wind killed pot 1.0- the other pot on the stand is new, and houses some regular chive seeds.

What- I like chives ok? Why not have both? Besides all varieties of chives have wonderful edible flowers that make bees go crazy. And more bees means more tomatoes later and more green beans and more cucumbers… you get the idea.

I also wanted to pot up some cilantro. I keep getting cilantro and planting it in the shade herb bed and having it grow just plain weird. Well- turns out this was 100% my fault. Cilantro is like dill- transplanting cilantro tends to make the plant all screwy.

Ok so I’ll sow it by seed into a pot like I did with the dill, only the only pot the right size is the plastic pot that we all know the wind likes to knock over…

The solution is rocks. The solution is always rocks.

Those are a couple of big rocks I found that I plunked down in the pot before I filled it with soil and seeds. Made it good and heavy- try to knock that over wind!

(Just kidding wind please be cool)

I’ve also been pretty pleased with the seedlings so far, except for the one Boston pickle I started indoors during the deluge- it died in the night. I just sort of shrugged and put another Boston pickle cucumber seed in the pot- you can’t really plant cucumbers in their bed til around May so I have plenty of time to screw around with seeds and grow a few strong plants for transplant.

Rip Boston Pickle plant. As you can see the rest of the older seedlings are doing really great- as are some of the younger ones…

All 12 of the Joi Choi came up! Which… is problematic as at the moment I only have room for 8 of them! Luckily with the soil infusion I’m getting tomorrow I’ll have room for plenty more and it’ll be a while before these little guys are ready for transplant anyways.

I’ve also started some mustard greens and Japanese spinach as nothing but 2 radishes ever came up in the side bed and it’s good shady real estate for greens.

The warmth and sun has really reinvigorated some of the herbs. All the water plus now the warmth has made my sage plant very happy. It wasn’t looking so hot in January so I’m glad it seems to have rallied. I really like sage, which is why I’m a little sad I’ll probably have to pull the purple sage.

I mean- that’s just not right.

The other herbs in this bed are doing well- including the hyssop which I never even thought I wanted.

Truly magnificent. That should flower very nicely in June- a real treat for the bees.

Another win- the potted mints. The mint thunderdome is roaring back to life after its winter slumber- and my two individual mints are growing with real vigor. This is the pineapple mint which is a real pretty plant. Smells fantastic too.

Happily both of the potato bags are also going strong, I’ll have to put more soil in soon. I’ve made up my mind on the potato front- I’m definitely going to get a few more bags and some proper seed potatoes and grow a few more. That whole middle area has a fair amount of room and a medium amount of sun- and I’m the sort who could eat my weight in spuds. Not to mention my mother who’s diet is fairly limited- like the zucchinis I will be growing and the carrots I am growing, it makes sense to grow her some more potatoes, which are some of the few vegetables she can eat.

The first bean seeds are in- we’ll see if they take- it’s early but the soil is just warm enough.

I’ll leave you with lettuce.

Get it- *leave* you, sounds like leaf…

Aw forget the bad pun. It’s pretty lettuce.

Winter rains bring surprises

Some more surprising then others.

Anytime everything gets watered as opposed to the targeted watering that only waters what you want watered- weeds pop up obviously, but also plants you might not expect.

For instance, in the shade herb bed we had two allium surprises.

The chives popping back up wasn’t a huge surprise, I only just ripped them out and it was such a hard job that I missed a few roots, not surprising.

What was surprising was the garlic.

I haven’t had viable garlic in this bed for months and months, but the deluge brought up two forgotten scrapes.

Cool! I like garlic greens!

I say garlic greens because it’s highly unlikely these will develop good clove structure considering that this is regrowth from a pulled out clove.

Another not really too surprising surprise is the regrowth of all the weeds in between the beds and pots, including some pretty oxalis.

Pretty- but a pest my mom is allergic to, so it’s got to go.

After tomorrow’s new rain I’m gonna have to drag out the push mower to take care of the grass and oxalis.

Oh well, it’s a good workout.

*sigh*

Damn birds! Judging by the size of the crap that’s either from the local crows or the transient sea gulls.

I like pigeons. Sea Gulls are the rats with wings.

What.

That’s mint! That’s spearmint! That’s spearmint that was never even planted in this bed, it was in the bed before this bed- I ripped it out!

My god, it’s the return of the immortal spearmint from the before times!

God damn.

More herb maintenance

As we get more into fall, my herbs have been looking a little ratty. I already trimmed my basil back, but a lot of my herbs have red or yellow leaves and are generally a little messy.

To say nothing of the dying shiso behemoth. Add to that a fennel going to seed, and I knew I had some work to do.

So I pulled the fennel and the shiso(s) and cut back all the flowery bits on all the other herbs along with any red or yellow leaves.

Then it was a matter of fertilizing, to prevent future discolored leaves. I use a pretty powerful kelp based fertilizer for my peppers and tomatoes- but frankly that’s horribly overpowered for herbs. For herbs I use fish emulsion.

Now there are a few problems with fish emulsion- chief of which is it smells horrific. Just… awful. But it really works and it wont burn your plants with too much nitrogen.

Think of fish emulsion as the scientific version of what a lot of grandmothers used to do when they’d bury a fish head under their roses.

Also what the Roman’s used to put on their food

The hyssop is growing well after I pinched it’s flowers:

Lots of new growth coming up. The thyme was bushy as always- I thought I was being clever putting in two plants and while I do use a lot of thyme, thyme is like mint in that it will always get overgrown.

The tarragon also needed to be pinched back, and the sage needed some undergrowth to be cleaned up.

The Oregano continues to grow mightily, which reminds me, I haven’t made tomato sauce in a while…

Anyways it’s the right time of year for this maintenance, and a good weekend to get it done.