April has no more showers- but plenty of flowers

So the last couple of days were in the 80s. Today was much more sedate- but still warm for April. At least it was properly overcast. The main advantage of the extra unseasonal heat is that it’s triggering some early flowers- which is good for the bees I suppose.

Now I’m not 100% sure this is a bee- it might be one of those pollinating flies that mimics bees. Also could be one of the smaller native bees. I don’t know. I do know that it really likes my chamomile and it is adorable.

The insect activity is reaching June levels. This is of course both good and bad. Plenty of fat little bumble bees trundling through the garden, along with some truly lovely western tiger swallowtail butterflies. Yesterday I saw the most amazing dragonfly flitting too and fro the garden. It was moving much too fast for photography but it stayed darting around for almost an hour. The bad is that the “harmless” spittlebugs are reproducing at rates that make them harmful and I had to spray them on my parsley plants and there’s some sort of small scale insect on my dill weed. Not to mention the aphids- though it looks like operation ladybug has curbed the worse of it. Also the amount of earwigs in my potato bags has me worried.

But wow the flowers.

Despite being heavily laden with lemons- the lemon tree is flowering again for next year’s crop. I suspect this is due to the heavy rain it’s gotten this year. I’m not complaining- just racking my brain for lemon recipes.

The apple tree is also setting out flowers. For a few year later during the drought I thought we’d lose this tree so it’s continued existence and health is an absolute joy. It is frankly a gnarled mess that desperately needs pruning but I’ll handle that this winter. For now the fact that the tree planted by my parents still lives is a triumph.

The sauce pot is flowering like mad- as is the sun gold. If half these flowers turn into fruit I’m going to have a very productive year of tomatoes. That’s a ways off. The black krim however is giving me a bit of pause.

I have never seen a tomato flower look like that. It looks nothing like the other tomato flowers- almost as if it’s a related but different species. Maybe it’s a function of being an heirloom, but it’s slightly odd looking. The black krim was an experiment anyways so I’m not overly concerned.

Now this isn’t flowing yet- but it’s sprouted encouragingly. This is my poppy pot, ready to give me lovely multi-colored California poppies. Highly recommend them- especially if you want to sow them in the ground, they grow like absolute weeds. In San Francisco they grow wild in the cracks of transit lines and sidewalks- almost like their preferred growing medium is concrete.

The squash monster continues to flower rather magnificently, and it’s starting to set out little fruits-

In a couple of days I’ll have my first zucchini!

Now that’s a lovely surprise for April!

Lemon tree mystery

So when my parents bought the house in the late 70s, the backyard came with a lemon tree. According to the previous owners- the tree was a Meyer lemon.

It’s a pretty tree, and a real productive one. It’s main season is winter of course, when all citrus tends to fruit- but this tree tends to fruit pretty much all year round, it just fruits the most in Winter and Spring.

I largely neglect it. No seriously- I’d worry that if I did anything to the tree I’d somehow kill it! I water it weekly in the hottest part of summer and fall and once 4 years ago I put some citrus fertilizer at its base. It’s never been pruned. We just leave it alone and this 30+ year old citrus tree just does it’s own thing and give us lemons.

So. Many. Lemons.

Now they’re big like Meyer lemons- but poking closely you can tell they’re more yellow than yellow-orange like Meyers tend to be.

The pith is also a little weird.

As you can see the pith is fairly thick. The ratio of fruit to pith is not what I’d expect from a Meyer lemon, or at least it’s not like any Meyer lemon I’ve ever bought.

But- the fruit is not overly bitter- sweet as far as a lemon goes while still being tart, and the peel is super fragrant. Seriously the biggest culinary use of these lemons is the zest- cookies, lemon cakes, sauces, the zest is amazing. Which does track with a Meyer lemon.

As for this specimen, dad ate it.

Seriously- I cut it into wedges and he ate it like apple slices.

Big bowl of lemons for dad.

He just… eats them. Whole- peel, pith and all.

I mean- it’s a healthy snack but…

ANYWAYS.

So the modern Meyer lemon is the “improved Meyer lemon” which got popular in the 50s as a way to combat a disease that was sweeping through lemon orchards.

What if the reason this tree is weird is that it’s an OG Meyer? If it was planted when the house was built in the 40s it would be an original Meyer, and since it was a residential lemon tree it was never culled like the orchard trees on citrus farms.

It’s just a theory. The tree might not be a Meyer at all, but some other type of hybrid sweet-ish lemon.

I’m tempted to dig out a seed from my next lemon and try to see if I can get it to sprout.

Not sure what that would tell me other then just be kinda fun.

Captain’s log: February 10th 2019

Today was clear and cool. Very cool, under 50 degrees. One of those things that made me glad the only warm weather plant out back was my wonderful pepper, which will be the subject of another post.

Everything was so well watered from the heavens opening up I didn’t have to do anything except take pictures of beautiful plants.

The amazing surprise garlic is just thriving in the wet. Which is good data to have if I grow garlic this year intentionally- maybe time it in order to take advantage of the winter rains.

In other allium news- the baby leeks are growing well. I mean I assume as much, as I have zero experience growing leeks. It’s interesting how much the baby leeks look like the baby green onions and baby chives. The chives of course stayed little, the green onions will hopefully get bigger than chives, and the leeks will hopefully get even bigger than that.

Alliums!

There seems to be a distinct winner in the battle that is mint thunderdome. After a while where the mint plants were bare twigs the Roman mint has joyfully rebounded into leaf. There are some scattered growth from the orange and chocolate mints- but Roman mint is the clear winner of the thunderdome.

The hyssop has also responded well to the deluge- turning bushy and thick. Not sure if I’ll ever use this herb culinarily but it smells real nice and flowers are good for the bees in the summer.

I swear I could fill this blog to the brim with just glamor shots of turnips. They’re so lovely and green but with yellow touches- and I love their leaf pattern.

Arugula! So much arugula! I just picked some and it’s almost all grown back which is nice. It’s also super weedy. The plants grew together because I sowed the seed rather thickly- which with arugula you can totally get away with. But it is problematic when it comes time to weed. I have to get in there, but I only had a little time outside today, and we have another straight week of rain coming.

The dill is growing so well- which is wonderful considering how long it took me to realize that dill was a seed herb not a transplant herb. It’ll probably be another month before I can pick some for pickling though.

Why… why is the rosemary flowering in February? I’m not upset- just confused.

Might as well make lemonade with rosemary flower lemons!

That’s… a weird metaphor I apologize.

What I mean is that I picked some of the flowery rosemary and some Mitsuba and made a bouquet for my lemon pitcher. It’s a nice table decoration that won’t make me sneeze like real flowers will. It also, as my dad might say, stinks the house up real pretty.

Here’s to rainy days!

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!

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.