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.


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.


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: Stardate recently? Early September? Last week or so?

Man this has been a week. Gardens been fine, kinda crisis mode in the house, but everyone’s doing better and I now have time for a Captain’s log. But it’s a few days of a captains log so buckle in.

Just some choice ladybugs last weekend, all over my peppers. Did give me a bit of a heart attack as I scoured them and then the tomato for aphids. One green one on the tomato, but there’s always one or two- the trick is to kill them before one or two turns into twenty billion.

So far the emergency transplant has done ok. I honestly expected after the smushing that I’d come out to a wilted dying pepper in a fancy new pot but by golly! It lives!

Also living despite the odds- the tomato which is just flush with new growth. This very much could be a case of too little too late as it is now September 6th and it looks like my dream of a nice hot Indian summer might have been a pipe dream. But historically we can have hot weather and heat waves in October (San Francisco- go figure) so IDK?

The mitsuba is sprouting, all the herbs in pots are doing well. What isn’t sprouting so well is the plants in the greenhouse. I’ve got one sprouting Swiss chard out of what should be 36 plants. Beginning to wonder if I should have just sowed the spinach into the new bed and been done with it. Or paid extra for starts at the garden center but no- I’m committed now.

The triffids are extra triffid-y. And even more plants have baby beans now:

I count 9 baby beans in this picture! and there’s the three I’ve already taken pictures of- and the hundreds of flowers… Oh god… Oh god, There’s going to be so many beans…

WELP. Time to scour the cookbooks I suppose.

The herbs are all doing great after I removed the ones going totally to seed and cut back the ones that were almost going to seed. The sage is being caterpillar bitten, so I’m looking into ways of combating that. Neem oil maybe?

The mint in the mint thunderdome is attempting an escape. I… probably should cut off that runner. But I don’t know, I’m so proud of this ridiculous escape attempt that I’m tempted to see if it can actually make it to the ground. Who am I kidding of course it will make it to the ground ITS MINT. 

All the other, non-emergency transplanted peppers look great, though the mole pepper doesn’t have any baby peppers. Might not produce this year oh well. But hey! look at those gorgeous red bell peppers! I mean, they are tiny and not red yet, but look at those little guys all growing nice and plump!

The succulents I have in pots aren’t for eating, but they’re doing well.

(Ok I can’t believe I have to say this- don’t eat succulents. I’m not going to take it for granted that a reader of this blog knows that a lot of them are poisonous, but in the era of tide-pod challenges you really can’t take anything for granted. A lot of succulents are poisonous! That one in front that looks like little green pearls? String of pearls! And if you or your kid or your dog eats those pretty pearls you are all going to have a bad time. Ok? good, PSA over.)

ANYWAYS. My favorite is the purple and pink echeveria giving jazz hands. The weather is a little wet for them, and I have no idea how I’m going to shepherd them through the true wet season in a few months… (In the greenhouse maybe?) I just like succulents honestly. I can’t really grow flowers, so succulents are a great way to add color to you life without sending yourself to the hospital with allergies.

What’s this?


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.


New herb table- and new herb

So part of my pottery haul yesterday was a little lemongrass plant. I love lemongrass for basically anything- but I’ve always hated the big tough stalks you get at the supermarket. Turns out if you grow them yourself they’re a lot easier to use.

Plant- meet pot!

Pot- meet your new table mates!

The table itself was a cheep affair from Ross. They had a bunch with different faux finishes and because it tickled me pink- I got the faux marble finish.

It’s a fancy place for my shade loving herbs.

Which they’re going to get a lot of since it’s super cold and cloudy today.


Planting the Mitsuba

So I want to plant the mitsuba. I have seeds not a plant so… a better way to construct that first sentence might be: I want to sow the mitsuba.

Mitsuba, or Japanese parsley is a woodland plant native to Japan. It likes shade, which means the workbench is the perfect temporary home for a mitsuba pot or planter. But what pot to put it in?

There’s always this empty pot- RIP dill.

I’m not putting it in the big pot- that’s for chard or bok choy in the winter/ peppers or tomatoes in the summer…

There is this old plastic pot that is currently home to many spiders… and should probably go to garbage land honestly…

Or there is this wooden box that held some sausages that was part of my dads birthday gift from a few months ago…


All joking aside, it really is the perfect size. Mitsuba isn’t like some herbs where you can pick it and then more grows, from what I’ve heard it’s more like a vegetable where you sow a lot because once you pick some that’s it for the plant. So I sowed like 18 seeds an inch apart each way, watered it well- and now I just have to wait. The box was just going to get recycled or thrown out anyways- this way it gets reused. Also the sides of the long part of the box don’t wholly connect with the bottom, which will function perfectly as drainage holes! (I have no idea why that’s there? Do sausages need to breath?)

Some of my backyard recycling hasn’t always gone so well- 4 of the pepper plants and like a dozen carrots are in three long plastic planters that hasn’t been used in a while. They were not well made and quite frankly- are falling apart. I’ve duct-taped the big holes and they’ll last this season- but they’re going to garbage land after that.

I also need to get a plant or pot shelf to put in the shady areas so I’m not clogging up the workbench- but it’ll do for now.

Or… maybe I could build one… TBC!

Japan town seed haul

There is a hardware store in Japan town across from peace plaza that sells seeds! Specifically Japanese seeds- though the company is based in Oakland. I could have bought pretty much anything there, but I settled for these two.

I have already decided that the monstreux de viroflay type spinach is what I want to plant this year in the spinach bed. (Which is currently the fava bed) It’s a monster spinach that grows very quickly and well in our climate. But variety is the spice of life- and I liked the description on the back of the seed packet.

Heat and cold tolerant! Good for us San Franciscans when you never know what the hell tomorrows weather will be like. Early maturing! Means I can sow a bit every week and have regular spinach. I have a new bed that I’ll probably dedicate to this fun new variety. More on that later.

But oh! Mitsuba! I’ve had mitsuba but I’ve never seen it in stores so I’m thrilled to add it to my herb garden. I think I’ll put it in a pot!

In other silly news:

Succulent printed origami paper.

God bless Japan town. I am going to make the weirdest cranes.