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!

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: 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.

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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!

Captains log: August 11th 2018

The gloom seems to be lifting! Today wasn’t the warmest, it barely cracked 69 degrees around 1pm, but it was sunny at least, and if it can only stay this way, maybe my tomato plant will at least ripen the little green tomatoes we have so far. (Not super optimistic about any more than that sadly.)

Mint thunderdome continues to cement mint’s reputation as the hardiest plant in any garden. The little one in front is the one I’m the most excited about- that’s strawberry mint! If I could eat dairy I’d make a mint panna cotta or something like that, but instead I’m just going to make tea.

My little fennel plant is also doing well. I don’t plan on using the bulb for a while, I’m just going to take the fronds for things like stocks and soup. But when investigating the part where the fronds join the bulb, I found a lot of ants. Which means- of course… aphids hiding in the plant. I sprayed into the holes with mineral oil, and i’ll have to do that for a few days, but the plant itself looks fine, so I don’t think its a heavy load. Unlike the load on the dill plant, which killed it. (RIP dill)

I cut the worst leaves off the zucchini plant, leaving three left for basic photosynthesis, but look! A new flower! and a new leaf! As soon as that new fresh green leaf is any big, I’ll be cutting off the other nasty yellow too-moist leaves and hope for the best. If this flower is an actual zucchini it will be squash #3 from the plant. *sigh* Mom keeps cheering me up by rightfully pointing out that this entire venture this year was an experiment, and the beans alone, along with the herbs have really justified the experiment- but c’mon! Its zucchini! It’s supposed to be taking over the garden, and due to the weather I can barely keep it alive!

Ughh.

However the shaded herb bed is loving the weather. And my runty little green shiso plant which almost died when I put it in- is bouncing back! Dad and I just used some- we went to Japan town yesterday (more on that later, I got some seeds) and got some fish for sashimi, and it was so cool plating it on a shiso leaf from the garden. It’s gotten a bit of damage from caterpillars and such, but its still plenty edible, it just needs good washing before eating.

The Hatch Peppers are totally un-bothered by the weather, though the sun today was very good for them. Peppers are related to tomatoes (and potatoes) but are a lot hardier than their nightshade cousins. I love hatch peppers, so I have something to look forward to next month.

The fava beans just don’t give a fuck. They just don’t. They went kind limp during a break in the cold snap from water lack, but once I bumped up the water they perked right up. They don’t even get a ton- like a gallon or a gallon and a half a day for a 4 foot by 4 foot square of densely packed fava beans- a little less when it’s cold, a little more when its hot- and it looks like I’m going to get a ton. I’m going to be using this bed for spinach in the winter, but you can plant fava beans year round, and I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to have to put in a dedicated fava bed once this one is done. I just have to be aggressive with the mineral oil spray/insecticidal soap usage due to the bean aphids that like favas.

The greatest thing honestly has been the bees. The dang African Blue Basil along with the hyssop has been just drawing in the bees. Sure- I’m getting a lot of your basic European honey bees and fat bumble bees- but I’m also getting some beautiful green sweat bees and this guy. On my parsley. I think she’s a hoverfly? I don’t care she’s a beautiful pollinator and I love her.

Cause I got butterflies, but most of them are damn white cabbage moths and their caterpillars are eating the leaves of everything so…

Bees please.