June planting and construction

Well the jury’s out on the ladybug’s overall effectiveness, but that didn’t mean I could rest on my laurels.

Again the siren call of my discount…

The Kentucky wonder beans I’ve been growing from seed look awful. Not surprising after all, they were planted during a sluggy season and they all got nibbled to death.

I re-sowed them but they still look rough. Anyways it doesn’t matter, because the haricot vert starts came in!

So I planted them and built a trellis.

4 six-foot stakes, some netting and 16 soft ties is all you need for one season’s trellis. The stakes and soft ties are reusable, the netting not so much. Hopefully the new beans take as well as the blue lake I got earlier.

As you can see those are positively bushy.

Speaking of terrible segues, the African blue bush basil has come in, and I have a plan to make at least one of them perennial.

The trick was to buy two. One goes where it always goes, replacing my Thai and purple basil that never really got anywhere, and the other goes in a large pot.

The idea is- if we have a mild winter both should survive just fine outside. But if it’s a cold windy rainy mess like this year, I can leave the bedded basil to its own devices- but the potted basil can be taking indoors at night.

Now that’s using your noodle.

I also finally ripped out the bolting chervil and replaced it with my favorite herb, lovage!

I’m not taking out the bolting parsley as it has bugs and ladybugs so I’m leaving it alone. I’m looking forward to having lovage to cook with again.

I’m also still taking cuttings in an attempt to corner the mint market. I got a specialty fancy soil I’m going to use for cuttings from now on- in an attempt to give them a boost.

It’s one of the foxfarm ones, this one’s called ocean forest and it’s filled with goodies.

I’m trying my hand at propagating the Yerba Buena for gifts. Since it’s so rare it would be really cool if I could grow them from cuttings, so I’m trying the ocean forest to maximize my chances.

It’s already starting to get on the sunny side when it’s not cloudy. I think summer is coming!

Finally!

Not so idle Thursday

Today I got one clear day after some rain, with over a weeks worth of more rain to come. I was just gonna pull the dead basil, maybe weed a bit, water where the pea seeds have yet to sprout… and then I got carried away.

Rip Basil. I thought the added water would help it bounce back but it was basically a twiggy spider factory. Like most woody plants it was an absolute bear to pull.

I had two pairs of good work gloves that actually fit me, and one pair got a little funky and since they’re super cheap I threw out the messed-up pair. Only… I somehow threw out two lefts. Leaving me with two right gloves.

I’m a dingbat.

Once that task was taken care of I checked on the lovage pots.

Not great! But last time I rummaged through my seed box I found a packet of lovage seeds. Getting the nasty plants out of their pots was the hardest part. Lovage, for an herb, has some pretty tough roots, so I had to sort of slide the plants into the compost bin.

Then I got distracted.

Look! A mushroom!

I put some potting soil and some sure start in the pots, and once I was done lying on wet grass in order to get a good picture of a fungus, I sowed a few seeds per pot.

Absolutely no guarantee they’ll sprout in the cold- but it’s worth a shot.

I mean it’s chilly, but it’s San Francisco. So it’s not like we’re getting frosts.

There is a possibility however, depending on how much rain comes starting tomorrow, and how hard it comes down, that the lovage pots are going to be less “well watered” and more “soil soup”.

I still have to figure out exactly what I’m doing with the old bench. Wood chipper still an option. While I was again distracted by taking an arty picture of a weed in the sun, I decided to tackle the peppers.

Never got a good shishito. It was a mess from day one. It was put in too late, the ripened weird and too quick, and not a single one grew to full size. So it was time to yeet the dang thing into the compost.

They all got squishy to touch too, like every last one was rotting. Ick.

I uprooted a roly-poly so I wasted yet more time to get a glamour shot of the little dude.

These guys are super cool. They’re isopods- terrestrial crustaceans! Also they have the coolest scientific name: Armadillidiidae.

I’m always careful not to kill these guys. I’m pretty sure they are eating my plants a bit but I just love watching them move.

Unfortunately there are non-pill bug bugs in my garden too- and it seemed like half of them were living in my hatch peppers.

I did get a few that were intact and un-infested which should be good eating, but after I fumbled a few because someone was peeking out of their little homes and I didn’t want grubs climbing up my sleeves, I tossed the long suffering hatch plant into the compost too.

Of course now I have two empty pots filled with really well fertilized soil and I won’t need those two pots for tomatoes til tomato season, so I figured I’d throw a few Swiss chard seeds in the now empty pots and call it a day.

Ooh a centipede! Neat! Nearly crawled up my hand. Not neat! Centipedes are a pretty beneficial insect, garden wise- they eat a lot of the bad bugs. Depending on the species they can be a little venomous though, so definitely not a critter you want climbing on you, just in case.

There. Two new Swiss chard pots for the winter months then I can plant tomatoes or peppers come late March or April.

Of course- this means the new garden layout I drew and posted 4 days ago is now… out of date.

Goddamnit.

Post downpour update

Well I say “post” downpour but there’s gonna be more rain on Tuesday- so post downpour for now?

The herbs are all pretty happy, but the mitsuba is putting up these lacy little flowers that are really lovely. Again- it’s a woodland herb so it’s well adapted to heavy rain in the shade.

In good but confusing news- the downpour seems to have knocked out the mold issues in the lovage pots. I’m still gonna scoop out the top level of soil and replace it- just in case.

All of the greens are doing well

There were no more criminal footprints in the 4×4 bed but with all the rain coming and going it’s now slug season so I laid down a little sluggo. Tis the season for Gastropoda eating all your greens.

The sorrel has almost reached the plastic owl guardian. Oh dear.

You can’t eat too much sorrel, oxalic acid in the plant means too much sorrel can hurt your kidneys. So I’m about to have way too much sorrel.

Speaking of oxalic acid…

These are oxalis, an invasive weed. They also have a lot of oxalic acid- hence the name. The leaves look like clovers and they have a pretty yellow flower. They also have a crazy taproot which means pulling them without breaking the plant is really difficult. These guys were in the side of the carrot bed. It looks like my newspaper layer had a hole and these fuckers were growing almost a foot up from the ground. Lucky for me the ground was wet enough that the root slid right up.

The wet season is weed season!

I may have had to ditch the umbrella but the tomato is doing well.

SOON.

Mid-downpour update

Well it’s well and truly pouring now, at this late hour- but it was dry enough for me to take stock of the garden before it got dark today.

There has been a criminal in the 4×4 bed! Probably a cat. Always the problem with a low newly sowed raised bed- the local cat population just thinks “yay, new litter box!” Luckily there wasn’t any poop to be seen just the footsteps (and probably urine) of a local ruffian.

(Probably the cute grey ruffian that belongs to my neighbor- oh man if I wasn’t allergic she is the fluffiest… ahem.)

Luckily the soil seems loose enough that it is draining well which is great news and means I probably won’t have to re-sow the seeds I planted- and since they’re going to be nice and watered, they’ll probably come up early too.

Fingers crossed.

In other news a few days ago I picked the last of the atomic red carrots in the low green pot

They were of course delicious. This leaves me with an empty pot.

It’s about 18 inches in diameter which for a low pot gives me a fair amount of options as far as vegetables go. It was basically *just* deep enough for carrots, but barely, and since I have the dedicated carrot bed now…

Maybe a few leeks? The lowness of the pot does mean unless I put it on a platform (kinda a no go it’s a pretty heavy pot) It’s gonna have a few bug issues. The carrots had a scale insect/aphid issue exacerbated by ants- which was no biggie since carrot stems are not yummy- carrot roots are, and the bugs were ignoring the roots. I’m leaning toward leeks because like all members of the alliums, their inherent stank makes them highly bug resistant.

Also yummy. Also I’ve never grown leeks and I’d like to try!

I also have some scrap wood I could make a pot shelf out of… but that’s crazy talk, and will have to wait til I’m less busy.

The umbrella has held!

The baby tomatoes are still viable if unripe!

The beacons are lit- Gondor calls for aid!

Now onto the semi bad news

That’s mold growing on my lovage’s soil. It’s on the other one too-

I cut back the non-viable leaves to reveal the new growth and discovered more than new growth.

Well what I discovered was new growth- just not the kind of new growth I want.

See this is the problem I’m having with the lettuce- too much moisture leading to moldy stems, though in the lovage’s case the stems seem to be fine, it’s the soil. I checked all the other potted plants and they’re all fine- except for the flat leaf parsley.

Which adds a bit to the puzzle since lovage and parsley are in the same family, so that they are both getting moldy when other plants aren’t- makes me think this family of plants may just be a tad susceptible.

Nothing I can do about it now- but as soon as the rains stop I’ll take the top layer of soil and dump it- replace it- then spray it with the neem oil, which is not only a bug killer, but an anti-fungal.

Luckily the lovage plants themselves look fine, have a ton of new growth, and the scale insect issue has abated.

Which leads to the last bit of semi-bad news.

Rain means the return of grass weeds and grass like weeds. The return of oxalis and the return of clover. The return of really stubborn burrs and stinging nettles.

The return of the push mower.

*sigh*

It’s a good workout anyways.

Captain’s log: November 1st 2018

It’s always time for a captain’s log when the weather is unseasonable. Today it reached a high of 81 around 1 pm. It is November 1st. God bless San Francisco, never change.

Tomorrow when the weather isn’t quite so melting for a delicate hominid as myself, I have a few tasks. Chief among them is to thin the carrots. As you can see they’re really bushy- they’ve grown really quickly, proving everything I’ve read about growing carrots from seed is incorrect and it is in fact quite easy- if you do things correctly.

The other major task for tomorrow is to try to get a handle on the spinach. The erratic heat has really damaged it- I have to definitely remove the heat damaged leaves and harvest the rest, pull the weedy plants (and the outright weeds) and sow some more spinach plants in the bare areas.

Luckily I’ve gotten some more Japanese spinach to sow:

A different variety this time, but it looked nice and the Japanese varieties tend to be much more heat resistant. Just looking at what I’ve sowed- the monstrueux variety has done much worse than the alrite Japanese variety- when I did get a baby spinach harvest I got much more out of the alrite. I still have some alrite seeds, but they’re more of a baby variety and I wanted something that would grow a bigger plant for harvest, so when I was in Japantown I got this Okame variety for, well, variety! If I have any advice when it comes to plant variety it’s look outside the western paradigm. Humanity has been growing vegetables worldwide since the dawn of agriculture- and that means there are a lot more types of plants then you get in your typical American seed catalogue.

The lettuce is doing well- which is slightly surprising considering the heat wave. This is the advantage of starting from a plant rather than a seed- more heat resistance due to the more established nature of the plant.

While the Swiss chard is also heat damaged- I’ll have to re-sow a few of those- the arugula is just booming. Arugula is almost like a weed- there is no arugula season, as long as the sun is shining and there’s no ice on the ground, it’s arugula season! It’s become my garden snack, if I’m watering in the back- I’m eating some arugula. not sure I’ll have enough for the table- it’s all going in my mouth!

We had a pepper casualty. I was so happy! An all red baby bell pepper ready for harvest! And then I spotted the hole in the bottom… and something moving inside.

NOPE!

I picked it and threw it right into the compost ick ick ick. I also checked all the other almost ripe peppers, and luckily this was the only infested pepper, so I should at least get a few others.

Price of growing plants honestly! 10% of the harvest goes to the bugs! If you’re lucky of course, if you’re unlucky it will be more, but that’s what neem oil is for.

The weird warm weather is causing the basil to sprout flowers again, along with the hyssop. That’s another job for tomorrow- going to have to clip all the flowers so the leaves don’t get bitter.

I’m also going to have to cut back the mint thunderdome, as the top leaves are a little crunchy looking and not as fragrant as the other leaves. The tendril still abides.

The Mitsuba continues to grow, as do all of my pot herbs. We had either a scale insect or mold issue with the base of the lovage- or rather a scale insect issue that turned into a mold issue- either way, that’s what neem oil is for. The lemongrass is growing like a weed which is nice.

The owl guards the sorrel. The sorrel grows. All is good under the gaze of the owl.

Lastly- those are two baby tomatoes. I have counted 4 total, along with dozens of flowers waiting to turn into tomatoes. IT’S NOVEMBER FIRST!!!

I am staying on top of appropriate watering and tomato fertilization, along with both hand killing the red aphids, and using neem oil when appropriate.

This is nuts. I’m going to get late November early December tomatoes.

God damn I love San Francisco.

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!

Captain’s log: August 29th 2018

Oh boy. So much is going on! Besides returning to university for my last semester, it’s been busy busy busy! But as I transition into a fall/winter garden I’m still happily plugging away in the garden.

We had an aphid scare on the chives a few days ago.

I went to pick a few herbs for dad, who was cooking a delightful recipe we refer to as a “meat cake”. (Meat loaf cooked in a cast iron pan in the oven). I picked everything else and when I picked a few chives my hands came back crawling with aphids. After a good manly yell to the heavens- I got to work on mineral oil spraying the damn things, and I’m happy to say that today, there were only one or two of the bastards left.

Wish I could say the same with the fava beans. The bees keep coming to pollinate, even though as these are cover crop, I’m not sure they’ll ever give me beans. But around the back several stalks were covered in aphids. Just a few- but considering the bean rust crawling up the stalks, I’m not sure if I’m getting a crop from these. I sprayed of course, and I’ll have to do it again tomorrow, but such is the gardener’s life!

In slightly bizarre but not unexpected news some of the formerly infested carrots are going to seed. Which is my fault entirely. See carrots don’t like summer and generally should be grown through the winter. But a bunch of my favorite purple and red carrots were being sold at my local garden center, and they’re one of the few veggies my mother can eat… SO I took a risk. I’ll probably cut back the tops of the carrots and see if they’ll keep growing roots.

And now for the good news!

Ah the most beautiful sight in the world. A seedling pushing its way up and out of the soil. The mitsuba is sprouting!

In even better news…

The tomato has rebounded! Fresh green growth above and below! It’s going to make it!

It’s not dead Jim!

It’s just so nice to have good news for once. The seedlings in the greenhouse are still waiting to sprout- and it will be a while before the new bed and pots are filled with glorious plants- but the lovage is in its new pot(s), the tomato isn’t going to die, and I’ve beaten back the aphids on the chives.

Also I potted a new succulent for the indoors.

It’s your basic echeveria in a basic blue pot. It lives in the dining room under the skylight.

It’s been a good day.