Fava bean takedown

I am so over the triffids. So two days ago I put on my big hominid pants and got to work.

Despite me not watering for a few days (to ease removal) and despite spraying all the time- the vines were just black with aphids still.

Gross gross gross gross gross.

I harvested the few broad beans I got a while back- everything I pulled was destined for the compost bin.

But what about the ladybugs?

Well of course I saved them!

Some had interesting spot patterns.

Now they live on my really nice tomatoes!

So it took a while (and I had to stomp down in the green can to get it all in) but after all that work:

Silly bee eater for scale.

The worst part of this is: because of how screwed up the fava beans got I’m probably not going to be able to save the soil. The whole initial point of growing the fava beans as cover crop was to fix nitrogen to the soil for next season’s plants- and I’m not even going to get that!

And what few beans I got don’t look too great- and this was a variety meant as cover crop not for eating so they’ll probably taste not great.


At least the bed is freed up for other plants now- and the aphid breeding apparatus is gone.

The worst thing was having the spray down the compost bin because the aphids were trying to escape the bin. No pictures because I don’t want to be responsible for vomit covered keyboards or phones.

I need to buy more neem oil. I also need several long showers.

You win some- you lose some. True of life- true of gardening.

Lesson learned.

Captain’s log: October 5th 2018

It’s been a fun few days here- everything here is growing wonderfully, including the weeds.

The carrots are starting to sprout, early. Everything is starting to sprout, I have a lot of weeds to pull, probably tomorrow- and I think the fava experiment is a bust.

The ladybug swarm just isn’t enough. It’s not enough that I spray the aphids- most of them are dead, but still on the plant.

It’s a damn mess. I put on a pair of rubber gloves and was going to just… rub them off the plants but… I just don’t have the intestinal fortitude for that.

There are definitely fava beans though- so I will be picking them and eating them- and then I’ll pull the plants. It’s not a total bust however, because the whole point of these triffids was to fix some nitrogen to the soil for winter plantings. I never expected to get any beans at all, so whatever I do get is a win.

In other not so great news one of the romaine lettuces has bit the dust. It just sort of flopped over so I had to pull it. Pictured is the void. But I have some coir pots with romaine seeds in the greenhouse, so I’ll have a replacement in the ground before you know it.

It’s not just the carrots sprouting, the Swiss chard is growing nicely too. You can already see the red stems!

The spinach has grown to the point where I’m going to have to thin it, so I put some slug bait down to discourage the slugs.

The shishito peppers are growing nicely, I’ll probably pick one soon to test.

The hatch peppers should be bigger but a few are going red early and I guess I’ll pick a few soon and eat ’em! Peppers can vary wildly heat wise plant to plant and season to season- I don’t think anything I’m growing is habeñero hot (hopefully) but I’m hoping they’re at least a little hot.

Lastly, in confusing but wonderful news, the tomato has decided it really really likes October. I have no goddamn words. I can count like 5 flowers scattered around the plant, and while there definitely are a few scattered red aphids, not so many I can’t hand kill them unlike the disaster that is the fava beans. Also those are a different species called bean aphids and they’re like the platonic ideal of an agricultural pest. Red aphids can totally kill plants but they’re not nearly as crazy virulent. Basically as long as you’re vigilant red aphids are more of an icky nuisance.

I… don’t know if I’ll get any more tomatoes from the plant- I seriously doubt it, but I greatly enjoy watching this stupid plant go from a dying husk to a healthy bushy plant.

You just never know!

Captain’s log: September 18th 2018

There are still a few herbs that are flowering slightly, including now the rosemary. It makes for some nice decoration indoors.

Also a nice decoration, the Red Admiral Butterfly, a common sight in San Francisco gardens. It just decided to take a powder on the brick, and stayed there while I watered.

So it turns out one of the shishito peppers is ripening ahead of schedule, which is a funny sight to see. Probably got damaged by insect activity! It’s not big enough to pick, though I probably will have to. First red pepper of the bunch, which… isn’t really helpful considering its small size and the fact that you’re supposed to pick shishitos green!

The spinach is sprouting like crazy, in another week or so I’ll have to thin it out, but I’m pretty happy that spinach is so easy to grow.

Ah the lemon tree. Damn thing was here before my parents even bought the house, and it just wont die! It looks like we’re going to start getting our lemons. It’s a little early but it was very cold this summer so It’s not very surprising!

The triffids continue to exceed expectations. I keep having to prop them up with stakes as they get too tall, and douse everything in neem oil and insecticidal soap to kill the aphids but dang, they just don’t quit!

Bless the bean, the workhorse of the garden!

The tomato plant is just flush with fresh growth, which probably doesn’t help me get any tomatoes but meh. I’ll take it.

Despite the chilly temp, dad and dog decided to take a break outside. Dog inspected the garden, dad watched the dog on her rounds. Visible in the back is the apple tree, which is producing little hard (but tasty) apples this year, surprising everyone.

It’s been a hell of a year. But everything continues. It’s a comforting thing.

Captain’s log: September 12th 2018

So after a fun few weeks it’s good to get back into the rhythm of more than basic garden care and into fixing up the garden for the wintry future.


The Herb corner is doing well. This reminds me, I have to update my layout page. Time to dust off the colored pencils. The moss growing on the mitsuba box is actually a good thing, its a woodland herb meant for damp shaded environments, so the fact that its damp enough, and shaded enough for some moss to grow is the best sign. The lemongrass is getting taller and taller, and the one ONE ONE small flat leaf parsley is beautiful and not taking over my garden because I made the mistake of buying TWO plants labeled “giant” and putting them into the ground…

Sorry, had a flashback there.

The large shaded herb patch is also doing well. Now that the giant flat leaf parsley is gone I have to thin things a bit, and I certainly need to weed- but the chive aphid horror of 2018 is well and truly over. (Thanks be to insecticidal soap.)

I am still somewhat… perplexed by the sheer height of my bi-colored shiso, as it started as a small potted herb that fit in my hand. Go team shiso I suppose.

The fennel is doing… something. Is it going to seed? Is this stalk edible? Does it contain more fronds? Was I a fool for growing fennel at all? I think I’m going to wait and see what’s going on. Again, like the chives, aphid issue is gone! SO THERE.

Both Lovage plants are doing very well in their nice pots, and nary a nasty bug in sight! I’ve been picking it for sauces and soups, and I’m thrilled at it’s versatility in the kitchen.

The spinach bed is sown! I have given up on the foolishness of seedlings in my greenhouse (for now…) and have direct sown my spinach seeds into this new bed. It’ll take a week and a half for the first sprouts. Expect gushing and photos when it starts coming up.

Yesterday I pulled out the borked carrots from the bean bed. Soon- this will be the combo lettuce and Swiss chard bed! I think? See I’m fairly sure that romaine doesn’t like all the sun it’s going to get up there so maybe I need a cover? Tomorrow or Friday I’ll pick apart the worst of the bed, add a little more fresh soil and direct sow… something. TBD.

As for the carrots, out of dozens of borked babies that just never grew from too much nitrogen- 6, yes 6, were edible. They were delicious of course, but ugh. Only 6?

I think I’m definitely going forward with a dedicated carrot bed.

The shishito peppers are growing well, tons of flowers, tons of baby peppers, tons of life. All the peppers are doing well, even the mole pepper plant which is a nice plant, just not producing like the others.

We had a minor fava flop. See, now that the favas are growing beans, some of the plants got a little heavy and flopped over. Also might be due to the continuing aphid load. I am spraying as fast as I can! So as needed I’ve been jamming old stakes in the ground and using the soft ties to gently guide the fava stalks to not, you know, fall on the goddamn ground.

Kudos to my mother who noticed the triffid’s listing to one side. Kudos to my dog who wouldn’t stop eating DIRT NEAR THE FAVA BEANS WHICH IS WHY MY MOTHER NOTICED THE FALLING OVER THING.

Dog. I’m begging you- stop eating dirt!

God help me it’s better than bees though!

Fava beans defying the odds, while still being a pain in the butt

So during this last week of suck, I watered the garden but I wasn’t on top of spraying the damn aphids and what do you get on your fava beans when you’re not on top of killing the bastards?

Yeah- aphid apocalypse. But you know what? It’s manageable. Fava beans (broad beans) are troopers and you just got to get back on the mineral oil/insecticidal soap spray and just hose those jerks down.

Because yeah- ok, my fava beans clearly have some sort of bean rust

And so maybe I got to start using the copper fungicide too. (Or… neem oil…) but I don’t care- I don’t! Because look at these cool beans!

Fava beans are like honey badgers- they don’t give a damn!

As long as the beans keep growing and the bees keep coming- I’m gonna have fava beans.

Really gotta start looking up recipes…

Captain’s log: Stardate recently? Early September? Last week or so?

Man this has been a week. Gardens been fine, kinda crisis mode in the house, but everyone’s doing better and I now have time for a Captain’s log. But it’s a few days of a captains log so buckle in.

Just some choice ladybugs last weekend, all over my peppers. Did give me a bit of a heart attack as I scoured them and then the tomato for aphids. One green one on the tomato, but there’s always one or two- the trick is to kill them before one or two turns into twenty billion.

So far the emergency transplant has done ok. I honestly expected after the smushing that I’d come out to a wilted dying pepper in a fancy new pot but by golly! It lives!

Also living despite the odds- the tomato which is just flush with new growth. This very much could be a case of too little too late as it is now September 6th and it looks like my dream of a nice hot Indian summer might have been a pipe dream. But historically we can have hot weather and heat waves in October (San Francisco- go figure) so IDK?

The mitsuba is sprouting, all the herbs in pots are doing well. What isn’t sprouting so well is the plants in the greenhouse. I’ve got one sprouting Swiss chard out of what should be 36 plants. Beginning to wonder if I should have just sowed the spinach into the new bed and been done with it. Or paid extra for starts at the garden center but no- I’m committed now.

The triffids are extra triffid-y. And even more plants have baby beans now:

I count 9 baby beans in this picture! and there’s the three I’ve already taken pictures of- and the hundreds of flowers… Oh god… Oh god, There’s going to be so many beans…

WELP. Time to scour the cookbooks I suppose.

The herbs are all doing great after I removed the ones going totally to seed and cut back the ones that were almost going to seed. The sage is being caterpillar bitten, so I’m looking into ways of combating that. Neem oil maybe?

The mint in the mint thunderdome is attempting an escape. I… probably should cut off that runner. But I don’t know, I’m so proud of this ridiculous escape attempt that I’m tempted to see if it can actually make it to the ground. Who am I kidding of course it will make it to the ground ITS MINT. 

All the other, non-emergency transplanted peppers look great, though the mole pepper doesn’t have any baby peppers. Might not produce this year oh well. But hey! look at those gorgeous red bell peppers! I mean, they are tiny and not red yet, but look at those little guys all growing nice and plump!

The succulents I have in pots aren’t for eating, but they’re doing well.

(Ok I can’t believe I have to say this- don’t eat succulents. I’m not going to take it for granted that a reader of this blog knows that a lot of them are poisonous, but in the era of tide-pod challenges you really can’t take anything for granted. A lot of succulents are poisonous! That one in front that looks like little green pearls? String of pearls! And if you or your kid or your dog eats those pretty pearls you are all going to have a bad time. Ok? good, PSA over.)

ANYWAYS. My favorite is the purple and pink echeveria giving jazz hands. The weather is a little wet for them, and I have no idea how I’m going to shepherd them through the true wet season in a few months… (In the greenhouse maybe?) I just like succulents honestly. I can’t really grow flowers, so succulents are a great way to add color to you life without sending yourself to the hospital with allergies.

What’s this?


Fava beans incoming

I am almost 100% shocked about that btw.

I was convinced- that this cover crop variety of fava beans was never going to bear fruit (well vegetable). I mean- it’s a zillion feet tall like a triffid. It’s clearly suffering from bean rust- and for god sakes the aphid load!

I mean UGH! I’ve been playing whack a mole with the aphids all summer! Mineral oil- insecticidal soap- it works, but if you miss one… the damn ants will *literally* pick up a nearby aphid and move it to your other plants.

(In all seriousness this winter I am looking to organically tackling the ants as a precursor to summer planting… I have… plans…)

I am definitely getting the next step in aphid killing, neem oil, the next time I’m at my local garden center. Still not 100% sure what a “neem” is- but it’s organic and kills bugs without hurting dogs so sounds great to me!

And yet- and yet…

That’s a goddamn baby fava bean. I counted three on the stalk.

Fava beans are like honey badgers.

Fava beans don’t care. Aphids? Bean rust? Weird San Francisco weather?

Fava beans just grow.

I planted this guys as a freaking nitrogen fix for winter spinach. And now I’m going to eat them! While fixing nitrogen for later spinach planting WHOOO-HOOO!!!

God bless fava beans.

And fuck aphids forever.