Captain’s log: January 21st 2019

Got a fair amount of work done today in the sparkling sun. It’s always nice after the rain passes to just take stock of all the new growth. Or lack of growth in the case of the snow peas.

Of course it’s not all fun and games.

Yeah the tomato has grown it’s last.

Its time to pull it. Which was fun considering my lack of proper gloves. I managed to find a pair that fit me in the glove pile, but they were almost more like thin winter gloves than work gloves.

Whatever, they fit (mostly) and they worked (mostly).

Goodbye tomato plant, you will be missed!

I really need to buy a new pair of work gloves.

Onto the next project!

The weeds in the front yard were really satisfying, they all came out in one pull. There was a lot of trash underneath which was less than great- and the underlying succulents were well watered but not super healthy.

Except for this beautiful echeveria. I’m really proud of this little guy, I found it in the wreckage of the last front yard patch, the remains of a plant I put in over 5 years ago. When I discovered it, this time last year or so- it was a thick stem with one tiny centimeter diameter echeveria sticking out. I replanted it and put some cactus fertilizer and soil down, and it rewarded me by getting huge!

I’m definitely adding one more big guy to the edge to discourage littering and dog activity, but mom has vetoed my idea of a gigantic cactus.

Something about it not being “neighborly”.

Thanks mom for being all… sensible!


Has to prune the mystery mole pepper, the sucker stems were really taking too much out of the plant.

I should have done this months ago- but better late than never.

Pruned and re-tied the plant is a lot more handsome.

Interestingly the few baby peppers that were on the stalks I cut were not healthy, so it’s a good thing I pruned it now so the remaining peppers can grow. It’ll also mean than once the weather gets warmer more flowers will set, the plant will get taller, and hopefully I’ll get my mole peppers to eat!

The local sheriffs were in town to inspect my newly pruned pepper. That’s a good sign!

But what about the newly empty tomato pot?

I can’t plant anything that’ll take too much time to grow- new tomatoes go in late March/early April…

Sassy salad mix to the rescue!

I mean any salad mix will do. But I like this one.

There’s my pot of sexy dirt!

I might have to put some soil in my barbecue patterned pot and plant another batch of sassy salad, or maybe another area of arugula.

Speaking of arugula…

Picked some for dinner tonight!

There’s still a ton left in the ground, but maybe putting some more in a pot is a good idea, because as soon as the ground gets warm I need the back part of that patch for green beans.

It was a good day’s work!

Next job- MOWING!

Kill me now

Future project for the front yard

That’s kind of a joke- I don’t have a front yard. Honestly unless you live in one of a handful of very rich neighborhoods in San Francisco you don’t have a front yard. Even if you do live in one of the very rich neighborhoods in San Francisco you probably don’t have a yard.

The cosmic accident that is my house is funny because- the house is tiny and the back yard is huge. That’s how these lots were built in the 1940s during the post-war building boom. The expectation was either that the stay at home spouse would have ample land to tend to a kitchen garden, or that once your GI bill husband had more cash after his education landed him a better job, you’d build off of the back to get a bigger house.

Personally I think these houses were built as perpetual starter houses for small families who would move out as they grew. That was my parent’s initial plan- but then I came along and the prices of houses absolutely soared in San Francisco- making my parents realize- this house was it, and they were damn fortunate to have it. There are a few reasons I’m an only child- the house size is one of them.

This supports the kitchen garden hypothesis. What also supports that hypothesis is that this neighborhood pre WWII was almost entirely greenhouses and farmland. So it’s pretty good soil for cultivation- or it was before over half a century of drought cycles ruined it. Probably if I had the inclination (and the manure) with a little effort I could grow food out of the ground still- I’d just have to rent a rototiller and I’d waste a lot of water.

Mind you- I’m happy for how this worked out. It means I have a ton of space to garden in a large city, which a lot of people can’t have. Most people who are dedicated vegetable gardeners in San Francisco either have very small plots or pots- or they garden in a community garden. I’m very lucky to have the space I do out back.

However- there is one tiny strip of dirt in the front of my house. I call *that* the front yard. In days of yore my parents grew strawberries there. But I am not comfortable growing edible plants out front where cars and gasoline and runoff and pissing dogs etc are…

That’s where succulents come in! You can’t eat them, but they sure are pretty- and unlike flowers they don’t make you sneeze and they don’t take a ton of fertilizers to grow.

Of course- that’s also where weeds come in. As you can see from my poorly lit photo- the recent spate of rains has not spared my little tiny strip of dirt from a massive overgrowth of weeds.

(Also trash, as it’s on the street and people can be terrible)

There’s really no point to me putting in the work to pull them today, or to clean up the trash as there will just be more from the rain as it’s going to rain again tomorrow. BUT! After Sunday’s rains it’s going to abate for nearly a month. Supposedly.

Anyways it will give me the chance Monday to do a final damage assessment and get my hands dirty.

The main plants are a splendid Aeonium flanked by two Jade Plants.

One Jade Plant has leaves rather like a tube of lipstick or coral plant-

And the other’s leaves are round and flat.

It’s all very green though, which on the one hand is nice as it plays off the red painted concrete. But I did hope for more color and around the time I started this blog after my last surgeries (or perhaps a little before) I put in a few other cheap but colorful succulents to see if any would grow big and balance out the more established fellows.

Well you can see the flowering tip of an echeveria here (covered by weeds)

And here’s a beautiful but short paddle plant.

Covered by weeds.

I have some work to do on Monday then- not only weeding but trying to figure out if any of the covered succulents are likely candidates for sustained vertical growth.

I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to spring for one or two already tall succulents in a contrasting color to the omnipresent green to flank the jade plants.

Maybe another aeonium in an interesting shade?

Or just a gigantic fucking cactus closest to the street to try and discourage the absolute spatulas walking through my neighborhood from throwing their food wrappers and used napkins in front of my house and into my plants.

I might be going with a cactus.