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!

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!

Late summer planting and re-seeding

The wilting lettuce was good for something- clearing the worst of it gave me space for the rest of my walla walla onions.

Some of them will have to share space with one of my romaines, but otherwise it’s nice I found room for them.

And I have a new pepper. Just in time to take advantage of the ridiculous heatwave I got a chili de arbol just for the heck of it. It’s my favorite chili and for some reason we got a late shipment of them at work and there were only a few left and god knows I like a long shot. I have the two free pots now that I’ve pulled two of my under-performing tomatoes, and I, like nature, abhor a vacuum.

As for free pot number two I’ve decided to mix things up.

My pole beans are doing ok, but not as great as they were doing last year. To supplement the pole beans, I bought some bush bean seeds, and I planted a few in the pot. They shouldn’t need support, and should give me some more lovely tender green beans into fall.

Also as is becoming a habit, I reseeded the dill. It looks like in order to get good fronds reseeding every quarter or so is necessary. I might need to get two dill pots going at once so I always have dill on hand, it’s an herb I use a lot of and waiting for it to sprout again is tedious. It is growable by start, but I have such ham hands that I always disturb the roots too much and it dies on me. SO growing from seeds it is!

In other new seed news, I’ve decided to try these beets. I was going to re-sow my beet patch anyways, but I thought maybe some white beets would be nice to try. It would be nice to have beets without staining every surface in the kitchen.

I actually have to pick more soon.

That’s a golden beet, just waiting for me.

Last but not least, I’ve finally planted my summer savory in the herb bed. This is the annual form of winter savory, a plant that’s in my other herb bed. It’s a nice herb.

I have to figure out my herb beds as things are both thriving and dying in equal measure, same with the pots, and I have a lot of experimental herbs that frankly, I’m not eating and I’m probably never going to eat and that’s just a waste of space. So I have to get planning. Fall is coming, and depending on the heat it may or may not be brassica season soon. Of course brassica season means cabbage fly season, and I have to be pro-active this year about combating that.

Work never ends. But the results are pretty tasty.

 

August work part three: putting things in pots and looking ahead

The absolutely wild weather continues, but we had a break in the rain and fog so I could pot up a few plants and contemplate future actions.

I have no idea where the celery is going to end up in the end. Probably in its own larger pot but for now it’s in a one gallon grow pot with a good handful of bio fish fertilizer. Celery is a bit of a heavy feeder and you got to take care of it.

I HAD three fennel- now I have two, because when I looked at the forming bulbs, two were fine, and one (not pictured) had little bugs living inside the bulb. This one was ok though.

Now while the celery will probably have to graduate to a bigger pot, Mr and Mrs Fennel can probably stay here till I’m ready to eat them. Fennel is funny- put them in the same pot and they’ll go to seed instead of produce a bulb. You have to either space them a foot apart in a bed- not ideal for an urban garden- or give them their own little pot to live in. As tasty as their fronds are- I like to cook with the bulb!

Unfortunately the logistics of my oregano is getting complicated. It should go in the sun herb bed where the sun herbs live- but something is wrong with that bed. I think the soil has gotten really compacted because it’s draining really poorly. It, along with my 4×4 shade herb bed is the oldest bed in my garden, and I think it needs to be dug out. I don’t want to lose most of the herbs in it though, so it would be a real project- I’d have to dig out all the herbs I want to keep and keep the root balls wet while I heavily tilled and amended the dirt… anyways so the oregano is going to stay in it’s pot for a while while I contemplate matters.

I ripped out my gigantic flowering dill weed, and next week I’ll re-sow the dill. I’m trying to figure out if I have the right dill seeds for my needs however, so I’m also waiting til next week.

And of course I still have four cells worth of onion starts. Arg that is too many onions! Which is a nice problem to have.

This area which has only a lone romaine can house some of them. I’ll probably have to break out another fabric pot for the rest. I’m trying to tilt the garden into more perennials and longer growing root veggies anyways, so I suppose I’ll figure it out.

The dill isn’t the only thing that needs re-seeding- I have to go into the beet bed and the carrot bed and the leek pot and re-seed what I’ve picked and what never popped up in the case of the leek pot.

So while I have more work to do in the garden- I suppose August has gotten off to a great start.

Now I just have to figure out if I can save my potted tomatoes or not.

Many tears are going to be shed over that I’ll tell you.

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.

Planting the spring herb beds

I had a great day today in the garden working my herb beds.

Here’s a previous shot of the shadier herb bed. As you can see the thyme is heavily overgrown. First task was cutting it back, along with the lemon balm, and weeding as best as I could.

Thyme is a great herb, I grow two types, big-leaf and French. Problem is, a little thyme goes a long way, even fresh, so the growth I had wasn’t helpful.

The thyme conquered- it was time to place the four new plants that go into this bed.

I have a few interesting survivors in this bed, some chives that refused to die, a lone parsley seedling that sprouted when all the others wouldn’t, and a shiso that refused to die.

That’s the bi-colored shiso that I ripped out last year. As you can see- it has returned. Oh well.

Next to the thyme is the culantro- next to the octopus is the anise hyssop- next to the lemon balm is the lemongrass, and up in the corner is the borage. I gave everything a deep watering, and then in the next couple of days I’ll put down some mulch.

The sunny herb bed was also overgrown. I trimmed the oregano, and hacked away at the hyssop and sage. Then it was just a matter of placing my plants.

I put the purple basil next to the Thai basil, and the lemon grass next to the oregano. Yes I have two lemongrasses. I like the taste, but it also has a way of repelling pests (not unlike the borage) and I hope by having one in each bed I can have less pest problems as it gets warmer.

There are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to basil in San Francisco I’m afraid. As you can see the Thai basil is a chewed up mess- but it’s alive so I’ll take it. The purple basil will also be a gamble- but much less of one then Italian or sweet basil which is iffy at the best of times. Sadly the local garden center is not stocking African blue bush basil this year- or at least not yet. That’s the only basil that I’ve had very good luck with.

I’m not screwing around with the shiso. In my garden at least it has a tendency to get really buggy, and I’d like to have more for eating so pots it is! And the pots can go on the new herb tables!

I have resown the mitsuba, I have two parsley’s- one of which is going to seed, so I have to work on that. The two shiso, the chervil, the tarragon, and the two chive pots. The other herb I had to wrestle with today was my dill.

As you can see, it was a mess. So I pulled it and sowed some more.

It’s a beautiful pot of dirt. Dill is a pain in the ass, as it doesn’t transplant well. So I can buy dill seedlings but unless I keep them in the original pot I won’t get much dill, as once transplanted it tends to swiftly die. Growing dill from seed isn’t difficult, but you have to tenderly press the seeds into the soil because they need light to germinate. Not to mention it tends to get really buggy, and it attracts scale insects and aphids. Like I said, a pain. But it will work, and I use a lot of dill when I pickle so I guess I’ll just have to keep re-seeding it.

I’m looking forward to the lovely blue flowers of the borage, bees love them, but other bugs don’t.

It can also get really gigantic and I’m looking forward to my dad making triffid jokes again.

I am a Neanderthal of simple pleasures.

Making hay while the sun shines, or planting while I’m not being rained on

It’s super sunny today. Which is super weird, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth- it’s time to work.

Look at those blue skies! It was incredible. I suppose spring has sprung. I posted earlier about my seedling disaster/adventures, but I had more work to do then just that.

Before I could even re-pot the seedlings I had to haul in the soil I got yesterday. It started raining so while it was dry enough for me to go to the garden center- it was wet enough for me to abandon the soil to the trunk of the car overnight because I didn’t want to get poured on.

Also gotten at the garden center yesterday was a packet of garlic chive seeds. I… love these and I’ve never seen seeds for them so I’m super happy I can grow them for myself now.

Boom. Garlic chive pot. It’s in the position for some sun, around where I put most of my full sun pot herbs. Such as my dill.

Look at that fab dill! Looks nice in the sun for sure.

Considering the break in the rain I also gambled on some early green beans.

These were my favorites from last year. I sowed 8 or so in the back bed behind the turnips.

I’m hoping they’ll take- the soil temperature is warm enough- these will be my early green beans if they sprout.

The salad greens in the old tomato pot are finally growing well- be a while to harvest of course and only a few seeds took- but I’ll get at least one salad before I put a tomato in for May.

Now here’s a mystery. There is some kind of funny mushroom/fungal fruiting body growing amongst my Swiss chard. It has a texture like pebbles. No doubt it’s growing because of all the rain- I’ll just have to rip it out when I rip out the chard.

I picked a few small carrots but the main harvest was this last big Joi Choi. The outer leaves went right to the compost pile, they were super slug eaten, but it was still a lot of Bok Choy for eating. I’m hoping it really is clear for a week plus- if it isn’t I’ll have to move the seedlings and maybe the garlic chive pot indoors for a bit.

There was some fun and games with a rogue earwig that hitchhiked inside on the Choy but I’m still trying to forget that.

I have a lot of weeding to do this week- got to take advantage of the dry weather. It’s probably gonna rain again late March and sprinkle into April, but hopefully it will be sprinkles not absolute pouring driving rain.

Spring seems to be here!