July planting and experiments

My garlic chive madness has abated- now that I have one in a pot and three in the shade bed.

Garlic chives are like cowbells. The answer is always more cowbell- and more garlic chives.

But I had more to plant today then the garlic chives, and I got a fair amount done on my day off.

First, an experiment. These are some okra seedlings. I have five in total, and they have not been doing well in their seedling 6-pack. So despite being runty I’ve transplanted them, and hopefully if I water them with tappin roots tomorrow they won’t die. This makes this bed a very mixed bed of blue lake green beans, Swiss chard, and now okra. I mixed some extra bio-fish into the soil to give everything a boost, and we’ll see how it does.

Komatsuna is no experiment- it grows great here but tends to bolt in the summer. And it’s summer now. I’ve been growing some as seedlings and now that I’ve filled up the fabric bed I thought maybe under the canopy of cucumbers might be a good place for it. The growing cucumbers will shade it- so hopefully it will get big enough to eat before it inevitably bolts.

It’s something of a risk of course, as a brassica it could fall prey to the dreaded cabbage fly that has deviled me all year, but I haven’t seen too many maggots- and I’ve killed what I’ve seen- so maybe it’s safe to plant it.

I’m still crossing my fingers for Brussels sprouts soon and I will move heaven and earth to grow those successfully.

Here’s my little mess of Greek oregano. It seems the one I wrote off as dead has rebounded so while I did go ahead and pull my Italian oregano- I will have no shortage of the Greek stuff. Which serves me just fine. This is the real flavorful oregano- similar to the dried stuff you put on pizza.

Funnily enough a lot of the “oregano” that’s in dried oregano is marjoram… but that’s a post in itself.

Herbs are weird.

Taking absolutely no chances with my garlic chives I used my customary sure-start *and* dressed the bed with some bagged compost. My new garlic chive ambassadors are going to love their new home- by hook or by crook!

I also put one in a pot.

Because it’s a pretty pot I painted.

And because I wanted to.

Egg drop soup with garlic chives is in my future.

I can already taste it!

More cowbell!

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.

 

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.

San Francisco perils: wind and sun

It’s been sunny and clear for several days thankfully, and it will continue to be clear for a while yet. (Fingers crossed!)

Unfortunately while it has stopped raining, it has not stopped wind-ing.

Ha ha oops. There goes the garlic chives! My fault for using that old plastic pot I guess- I had gambled that the weight of the soil would be enough but apparently it was not!

Well that’s the advantage of seed packets- I had plenty more. But I scooped the soil into a new heavy pottery pot and re-sowed.

Small- but heavy.

There’s a reason I prefer the larger terra-cotta and glazed clay pots, it’s partially an aesthetic thing of course but it’s also because the backyard can be really really windy. Weighty pots are safer.

Owl down! Owl down!

The other problem is that the clear sunny skies are drying out the soil really quick, despite the fact that a week ago it was practically flooding.

But there’s an easy solution for that- mulch!

There’s my leeks, all lovingly swaddled with redwood bark. I also mulched the romaine and the green onions in the 4×4 bed.

Now there are only a few green onions that sprouted largely because of how wet and cold it was, so I decided to put up a few more for later transplant.

If I just keep putting out more scallions in the seedling cells I’ll have plenty to transplant all over the garden.

It’s fairly easy to tuck scallions wherever you have space for them, they’re super skinny and you don’t even need to thin them as long as you space them right. Dad eats a lot of green onions so I’d really like to grow a ton of them. So I guess every week or so I’ll put 12 more seeds out. Accounting for a few dud seeds I should have plenty in the ground by late April.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting til Friday- soil day!

I’m so excited!

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!