Captain’s log: September 1st 2019

September is always a difficult time in the garden. Depending on the weather certain summer veggies are going strong- or failing. Certain herbs are thriving, or starting to die back. Somethings are unchanged, and somethings are just starting to fruit. And of course some bugs have gone away, and some are being a pain in my backside.

It’s a land of contrasts. Now I have to start thinking about fall planting.

I’ve got a lot on my plate.

This rather gorgeous herb is anise hyssop. It supposedly makes great tea, but I haven’t tried it. Honestly planted this one on a whim to see what the flowers looked like. Well now I can say the flowers look pretty great!

The big-leaf thyme flowers are wonderful as always. Also a great attraction for bees which sadly have been lacking in the garden this year. That’s been something of a disappointment, but the wild weather is out of my hands.

Speaking of wild weather yesterday it was 80, and today it drizzled and is foggy.

My poor plants don’t know if it’s coming or going.

Speaking of flowers, the zucchini continues to be very productive. I’m starting to get those wonderful late season baseball bats, that are a little on the tough side but are still delicious.

Time for some stuffed zucchini I guess!

Finally my large corn stalks are starting to flower. Hopefully I can get some full or full-ish sized corn from these stalks. These are flowering at just the right time because September and October are often our hottest months and corn needs to ripen when it’s warm.

This is the base of one of the small runty corn stalks, and as you can see… I’ve got tassels. Which means I have a baby corn and god knows how that will end up.

The blackberry is traveling far afield, which bodes well for next year’s pies.

In brassica news those damn grey cabbage aphids are back again. The foil ring stopped the cabbage fly, and the B.t. has been guarding against cabbage moths. I’ve been using neem for the aphids- but screw it. I’m going to buy an entire container of ladybugs and dump them all on my tree collard.

Nuke it from orbit- it’s the only way to be sure.

I finally planted my fancy oregano. You can see it’s slightly white fly damaged. One more plant to put ladybugs on I guess. I put it in the space the other blue basil was in, as it was dying. The one I have in a pot is also not doing great, but that one I’m going to try to save by hook or by crook.

This whole bed needs a makeover, but it will be a while til I can get to it.

Oops. I was shifting some pots around so I could wack the weeds and uh… whoopsie. I’m sad because I love this pot, I only got it because a wonderful family friend got me some gift cards, and I’m determined to save it. Some sort of epoxy maybe? I’m handy enough that I’m sure I could do it, I just have to figure out how.

This is a ripening lemon boy! Some of the fruits on this plant look really rough, so we’ll see how it does long term, but hey! I’ve got at least one silly yellow tomato.

I’ll take it!

That is less then ideal. I really wanted to get some fennel bulbs this year, and once again fennel is not being nice to me. Fennel might be just too much of a time and space investment for me. The extreme irony is that wild fennel grows, well wild, all around my neighborhood. Wouldn’t eat that stuff though.

And while my pole beans are withering, at least my new bush beans seem to be sprouting at top speed. Life’s just not worth living without beans!

Per usual my dill has sprouted well. I’m going to endeavor to use this dill more aggressively so it doesn’t get all seedy too soon. I have pickling to do!

So when I finally pulped the dying wilted ginger mint, I clipped a few root runners from the most vigorous plant and it looks like I’m going to be rewarded with more of my favorite mint. Seriously this stuff is so crazy vigorous it’s incredible.

And despite everything the sun gold keeps trucking. This has to be the best variety for San Francisco, you can throw everything and the kitchen sink at it weather wise and all it needs is a little TLC and it’ll keep going.

Looks like absolute hell, but it keeps going.

I finally ripped out my overgrown arugula only to find that it had reseeded itself into it’s neighboring beds.

Good thing I like arugula, looks like i’m getting a lot of it!

In intentional seed news, I let my cilantro go to seed entirely as an experiment. You see this is a fancy type of cilantro called “confetti” that has really cool leaves. I wanted to see if I sowed the coriander seed it made, if it would breed true and make the cool leafed cilantro again. Not always a given!

So I sowed it in a couple of pots and time will tell if I get fancy cilantro or the regular but still yummy stuff.

I leave you with the greatest creation of my garden, my very own pumpkin. I’m picking it tomorrow.

Ok, so maybe late summer as we turn into fall is a tough time in the garden. But damn.

That’s a fine pumpkin, so clearly I’m doing something right!

August work part three: putting things in pots and looking ahead

The absolutely wild weather continues, but we had a break in the rain and fog so I could pot up a few plants and contemplate future actions.

I have no idea where the celery is going to end up in the end. Probably in its own larger pot but for now it’s in a one gallon grow pot with a good handful of bio fish fertilizer. Celery is a bit of a heavy feeder and you got to take care of it.

I HAD three fennel- now I have two, because when I looked at the forming bulbs, two were fine, and one (not pictured) had little bugs living inside the bulb. This one was ok though.

Now while the celery will probably have to graduate to a bigger pot, Mr and Mrs Fennel can probably stay here till I’m ready to eat them. Fennel is funny- put them in the same pot and they’ll go to seed instead of produce a bulb. You have to either space them a foot apart in a bed- not ideal for an urban garden- or give them their own little pot to live in. As tasty as their fronds are- I like to cook with the bulb!

Unfortunately the logistics of my oregano is getting complicated. It should go in the sun herb bed where the sun herbs live- but something is wrong with that bed. I think the soil has gotten really compacted because it’s draining really poorly. It, along with my 4×4 shade herb bed is the oldest bed in my garden, and I think it needs to be dug out. I don’t want to lose most of the herbs in it though, so it would be a real project- I’d have to dig out all the herbs I want to keep and keep the root balls wet while I heavily tilled and amended the dirt… anyways so the oregano is going to stay in it’s pot for a while while I contemplate matters.

I ripped out my gigantic flowering dill weed, and next week I’ll re-sow the dill. I’m trying to figure out if I have the right dill seeds for my needs however, so I’m also waiting til next week.

And of course I still have four cells worth of onion starts. Arg that is too many onions! Which is a nice problem to have.

This area which has only a lone romaine can house some of them. I’ll probably have to break out another fabric pot for the rest. I’m trying to tilt the garden into more perennials and longer growing root veggies anyways, so I suppose I’ll figure it out.

The dill isn’t the only thing that needs re-seeding- I have to go into the beet bed and the carrot bed and the leek pot and re-seed what I’ve picked and what never popped up in the case of the leek pot.

So while I have more work to do in the garden- I suppose August has gotten off to a great start.

Now I just have to figure out if I can save my potted tomatoes or not.

Many tears are going to be shed over that I’ll tell you.

Gearing up for some work

It’s always good to be busy. And i’m going to be busy.

My plan to turn the back bed into onion land continues. You might also spy another oregano back there, as well as a celery. I’ve never grown celery before, I hear it’s hard.

Got some soil, and a mystery plant.

Got a trellis for the chayote finally!

I got a pot for the mystery plant!

And finally, I got my bird bath! Which is more of a bee bath really. Anyways, I have quite a bit of work to do. Always good to be busy!

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.

 

Herbal indulgences

Now get your minds out of the gutter I’m not talking about that.

I’m talking about basil though.

Everyone knows my favorite basil is the incomparable African blue bush basil.

Both of my bush basils are growing great. So great I think I’m going to try and root cuttings from them.

But African blue bush basil has a more camphor flavor then the Genovese basil and that’s not to everyone’s taste. I like it- but sometimes you just want a more classic basil flavor.

Problem is, green basils just do not grow well in San Francisco.

Well… there’s this one.

This is Greek basil. It smells and tastes (to me at least) just about the same as the Italian stuff, but it’s a hell of a lot heartier than the really picky Italian basil.

So I put the basil in front of the tomatoes in the color bed.

Got to love a mixed bed!

In other herb news all the oregano I put in a bit back has done alright- except for the Greek oregano which beefed it.

So I replaced that.

Now I forget which nursery the first Greek oregano came from, but it was not my favorite. This one came from sweetwater and I think their herbs are pretty high quality.

The borage is just going hog wild, doubled in size already and flowering everyday. And look at all those buds! I keep getting the pink variation too which is nice to look at.

The other herb (well kind of an herb more like a small tree…) that is doing well is my lemon verbena.

It likes it’s home in a pot and stinks real pretty. I’m not even sure I’ll ever use this- though I’m pretty sure you can. I just like the idea of a small herb tree in a pot. Hopefully in a few months it will be a medium herb tree in a pot!

Herbs are nice.

Mixed beds and new plants

I had a lot of work to do yesterday, the carrots and potatoes weren’t even the half of it.

I had to wrestle the sun herb bed into shape for one.

That sage is super overgrown. And the chamomile is no longer viable. Well for me anyways. I had a few cups of chamomile tea from this plant. They were delicious. And I got super sick. Turns out chamomile doesn’t agree with me.

Out it goes!

After ripping out the poison flower and hacking away at the sage, it was time to plant.

I got a marjoram, and three types of oregano to add to my extant Italian variety. Mexican oregano, Greek oregano, and the exquisite smelling Syrian oregano.

I like oregano.

After planting I put down a top dressing of compost and dressed that with the mulch.

The most fun mixed bed is yet to come.

I got two late season tomatoes on a whim.

The first is a Lemon Boy,

Nice yellow guy- nothing wrong with that.

I’ll let the label of the second one speak for itself.

Dancing with smurfs!

A blue cherry tomato!

I had to try it.

They’re in the purple pea bed, and to help with the inevitable bugs I sowed a few borage seeds along with every last one of my chive seeds.

I’m gonna have to get tomato cages at work soon.

But this is nice.

What’s also nice is blueberries. But what about a pink blueberry?

(Of course this raises a few ontological questions on whether a pink blueberry could be considered a *blue*berry but I’m just going to think happy thoughts about berries)

To grow any kind of berry you need acidic soil, so I chucked a bag of azalea mix into a 10 gallon fabric pot and potted it up all pretty.

It should really be on a milk crate for better air circulation to the roots, but an old basket was all I could find.

The final job was to plant my tree collard.

This presented an issue. Collards, tree or otherwise, are brassicas. Aka cabbage maggot bait. I want perpetual collard greens, and I’m not about to let some silly flies get it my way.

So I decided to try out an old wives tale.

You wrap the roots in aluminum foil. They can grow out the base, but the sides and top are protected from flies.

Hopefully.

Anyways he’s a pretty tree-to-be and at least I’ve done my due diligence with regards to my eternal fly issue.

Don’t talk to me about cauliflower I will cry.