Captain’s log: February 21st 2019

Today was a busy day. Actually a busy couple of days, but that’s not important.

A lot of what I’ve been doing is watering now that we’ve had some clear weather- it’s sunny but cool. Heat evaporates water in the soil, but the chief evaporator is the sun- so even though it’s not even above 55 most days- I’ve had to water a fair amount last couple of days.

Part of that of course is the plants I’ve been putting in- new transplants need water no matter the weather. Both the mints and the chervil seems to be doing well- but so are the herbs I put in last month which is a sigh of relief.

Here’s my pretty Italian oregano which took pretty much immediately. All the herbs are growing well.

Today when I got outside to start work- I had a visitor.

He or she is a local kitty, I think one of the ones born last year, and this one and their siblings keep taking vacations into my garden. I’m pretty sure this is the one who put his paws in my arugula pot- and here you can see them hard at work looking at a vole hole. The minute he saw me he went “?!!!!” And sprang backwards over the fence in fear. Entertainingly he kept coming back to keep tabs on my work.

In local news outside of my garden- here’s the toll of the wind and rain, a tree got knocked over in my local park and crashed through the fence. Which illustrates how nutso the weather was, and will be. Its clear for now, but my wish of a longer spell of dry weather has not been answered- it looks like scattered showers or worse are in San Francisco’s future. Hopefully no more downed trees will follow.

I pulled the purple Bok Choy, which for whatever reason had totally passed from edible to stringy stalks- so the Joi Choi can survive until I can eat them. And I will be eating them- they are delicious. Into the compost bin with the non leafy Bok Choy’s!

And look at those lettuces! I am a total convert to the temple of raising lettuce from seed.

And speaking of seeds…

I started several seeds in little seedling pots. Specifically I started 6 sunflower seeds, 6 romanesco broccoli, 6 cucumbers, (3 telegraph 3 Boston pickle) 6 zucchini (3 Nimba 3 green bush) and 6 lipstick peppers. They are all living inside for the moment- as I don’t trust the wind and temperature outside. I used regular potting soil mixed with a little sure start, as I tried some seed starter mix and it was so damn light it wouldn’t take water. Potting soil is better.

Once these sprout it’s off to the greenhouse bench with them! But that will be several weeks from now.

The spinach bed has been overgrown and weedy for too long, so I pulled the spinach and amended the soil so I could plant by seed.

A back row of purple snap peas, a row of radishes, a zig zag row of mustard greens, and a final front row of green onions, since only a few of the green onions I planted in the big 4×4 bed have sprouted.

Now that’s some sexy dirt. We’ll see what takes in the temperature and upcoming wet, but that’s why I’m starting with peas that have a lot less stringent temperature requirements than beans.

Of course I was being spied on while I worked….

Spooky! Kitty kept coming back as I worked and then fleeing as soon as I turned to coo at it.

I wish no one in the house was allergic, otherwise I’d try to befriend the poor feral. But me and mom would need hospitalization after being close to a house cat so it is what it is. At least kitty and his siblings take care of the rats.

The turnips are starting to look really pretty in the evening sun. Turnips never fail me.

Speaking of the infallible, look at that thyme! Both plants, big leaf and French growing huge after all that rain. Thyme is like mint in that it should probably be in a pot- but it’s less of a wanderer than mint so you can take a chance on it. It’s definitely more thyme than I can eat, but it’s pretty and it smells good so who cares!

And look at that sage! It’s throwing up new leaves! Finally! It looks like it took a rainfall to finally wake up the herb but now it’s going to do nothing but grow. That’s a nice feeling.

Finally the arugula. It’s basically growing wild which is to be expected when you sow it as thickly as I did. The problem with that is the absolute thicket of oxalis growing underneath it. Pulling all that oxalis without seriously damaging the arugula would be almost impossible so I’ve just given up for now. In a month or less I have to pull up almost everything in this bed so I can plant the back with pole beans so IDK the weeds are going to get it- just not anytime soon.

The most amazing thing happened today- but I couldn’t get a photo of it, no matter how hard I tried. I saw the first bumble bee of 2019! It’s late February but as far as I’m concerned spring has sprung because traveling around the mowed weeds was the fattest little bumble butt. Fuzzy and black with yellow trim, buzzing around looking for flowers, I dropped everything to follow her around but I was sadly unsuccessful in snapping a pic. But she was here! The first bee of the year!

It’s gonna be a good year.

The bees have arrived!

Captain’s log: January 6th 2019

Rainy days make for an idle gardener.

Best to keep an eye on things though, especially since the last big rains caused some of my baby green onions to commit plant suicide. Not really sure how to stop that though.

They seem to be doing ok all things considered, even if they are a bit wonky.

The baby romaine lettuces are a bit wobbly too, too much rain probably effecting the roots a bit. Once they get bigger it’ll be less of a problem.

The ever-ripening tomato plant is showing its age but I did get some more tomatoes today.

Some of these are really only half-ripe, but the force of the rain had drove them off the plant so…

Sometimes nature picks your produce for you.

The leafy greens are all drinking it up, with the Swiss chard winning awards for beauty.

Of course so are the Pac Choi:

Cabbages and chard like the wet, unlike other plants which can get waterlogged. One of the advantages of growing cabbages in this sort of climate honestly, you don’t have to worry so much about potential disasters. Even plants that do well in our mild summers and don’t need too much heat can fail in our winters from just way too much rain.

The spinach bed still needs a good weeding, but at least the rain seems to be rejuvenating everything. If there’s a lull in the rain tomorrow I’m probably going to pick some.

Finally, the herbs seem to be doing ok, but I just love how the sage looks.

It was giving me some pause, but after a day’s soak it seems to have been revived.

Now, whether the basil or oregano will do well is a question mark, as is the fate of the tarragon.

The cilantro is thriving at least. And so is the sage.

I think the biggest chore I have to do soon is just spend several hours weeding the beds. I was on top of it, but rain doesn’t just grow your plants!

We’ll also see if the tomato plant survives this latest downpour. It looks… rough- and with over a weeks worth of rain to come, it could be that the tomato may finally have met its match.

Or I could put up the umbrella again.

Captain’s log: December 21st 2018

I hope everyone is having a good solstice. This year certainly was… interesting. I have a few surprise additions for the garden coming up- but the timing isn’t right yet so it might be a week before I put them out.

But all the lovely seedlings are sprouting.

Those little green stalks are baby green onions. They took their time to sprout but I knew they’d come through. Funnily enough, either because of the torrents of rain or just the unbridled enthusiasm of onions- several of these little guys totally escaped the soil, as if they overshot in their vigor. Oh well. I sowed a ton of them, and in a month when it’s more clear who survived I can always sow more.

Now the pea seeds may in fact have been too old, as the have not sprouted which is a surprise because legumes are usually the first arrival- but the turnips have sprouted. It goes without saying I’ll have to thin them- but it’s nice to have a plant you can rely on, and you can always rely on a turnip.

Speaking of cabbages and reliability, every Pac Choi I’ve put in is thriving. Some are definitely bigger than others, but that just means I can stagger eating them. It’s always nice to have a cabbage in the back ready to pick- though if I had to guess it’ll probably be 3 weeks to a month before the largest of these is ready to harvest. Maybe a little longer.

The Swiss chard has gotten a second wind along with the spinach:

It’s amazing what a good drenching and cool weather will do for your leafy greens. Now I definitely have some work to do trimming and weeding (to say nothing of the pepper conundrum) but I think I’ll harvest some spinach this weekend and go from there.

I was worried that my various succulent pots would drown in the rain, but all seems to be well. This particular aeonium is loving it- it’s growing over the jade plant in its pot. Both are cuttings from larger plants that live in a tiny strip of dirt in front of my house- those mother plants are also loving the rain.

Reminds me I have to weed the front patch too.

Yet another of the tomatoes is becoming ripe which makes me very happy indeed.

What really makes me happy though…

Life has officially given me lemons. This tree in the back is ancient and wise and it just… is. We don’t do much with it- it needs a prune but I’m terrified I’d somehow hurt it so I just leave it alone. In return every winter and spring it gives us its bounty- oceans of lemons.

It’s officially green season in San Francisco!

Mixed greens bed is sowed

Did some good work today in advance of the rains- still some risk of a wash-out but I’ll take the chance.

Did the newspaper trick after clearing the old moldy fava bean dirt and the few weeds that had taken root.

Then it was just a matter of dumping a few bags of soil in, which was quite the workout!

I’m not making the same mistake I made with the moldy lettuce- I put a few good shakes of sure start fertilizer after bag of soil 2. See the weird roots of my lettuce might have been a result of not only the freak heat wave right after I planted them- but the lack of good soil microbes. Sure start fertilizer is a good way to inoculate the soil. I like to think of it as soil probiotics.

These are the Pac Choi I’m putting in, the green one is the “Joy” cultivar and the purple one is the “Rosy” cultivar.

I’ve had great luck with Pac Choi. It’s just a Asian cultivar of cabbage, but much more robust and pest resistant. Also easier to grow and the whole thing is edible. Yummy firm stems and green leaves (or purple!) make for a great side dish or stir fry. (Or salad or braised dish or…)

But I like a mixed bed- no mono cultures here!

So since I’ve been having bad luck with the Romaine plants- time to plant romaine from seed!

Two rows that will of course need to be thinned pretty heavily, but hopefully they won’t be washed out by the rains.

But that’s not all…

My dad’s favorite vegetable!

He eats so many of these I’m surprised I haven’t been growing them already!

I think I’d been laboring under the delusion that they’re hard to grow- maybe in other places, but not in our climate!

Three rows and the best thing is that you don’t need to thin them at all. Just a seed every half inch to inch and you won’t need to pull any till they’re full grown and ready to eat!

This is also one of the great advantages of growing in San Francisco as in different climates you’d never be able to grow green onions in winter but here- full speed ahead.

Anyways- it’s a pretty bed.

Romaine at the back which is the shadiest, Pac Choi in the middle, and green onions in the front to capture all the winter sun.

Of course the seeds might get borked by the upcoming torrents of rain- but I have plenty of seeds to re-sow next week in case of disaster.

That being said I am considering mulching over the seeds before the rains and then removing it after- but I haven’t made up my mind on that.

What I am is tired- this was a lot of soil to lug around on a Sunday.

Here’s a picture of some beautiful little cabbages:

God I love Pac Choi.