April bugs have returned

But not the bugs I want sadly. The bees have been showing up but as a trickle and not a roar. Nothing I can do about that- it was such a wet and cold winter that I suspect the big buzzers are still shaking it all off. Still- I have herbs flowering or about to flower- and soon I’ll have sunflowers and poppies.

The cabbage moths however, are back in force. Those little white butterflies are not the vegetable growers friend. Far from it. Luckily as far as turnips go- who cares. It’s not like I’m eating the leaves. I’ve already eaten one of the turnips, it was delicious, but before I pick more I’m waiting for them to get a little bigger.

Unfortunately I most certainly will be eating the Bok Choy leaves. I put down sluggo in case this is slug damage but as I was doing so I saw the white butterfly of doom flying around my head. Tried to kill it but it got away. I’m just trying to be diligent about checking the leaves for caterpillars but they’re little green things the same color as most plant’s leaves so it’s always hit or miss if you can actually find them.

There was some sort of cocoon on one of my carrots. I wasn’t so worried for my carrots, not much eats carrots except for carrot fly and it’s still too cold for them. Still I destroyed the cocoon to protect my other plants.

Some bugs are fairly harmless however. This lovely bit of froth conceals the spittlebug or frog hopper. Now if their numbers go crazy they can damage plants but they’re pretty harmless so I don’t go crazy killing them. I wish all the bugs in my garden were as harmless as these guys.

Speaking of harmless- sow bugs! Or rollypollies or pull bugs or wood louse. They’re isopods! They’re super cool! They don’t really do much and they aren’t mega creepy like earwigs so I don’t really care.

Also they make me smile so that’s nice.

Something has been nibbling on one of my potatoes which is fairly hilarious since I’m fairly sure potato leaves are mildly toxic. Probably something in the rodentia family so not much I can do about that.

What’s really annoying and I have no pictures of is the green aphids that keep getting up on my pepper seedlings. Aphids aren’t great but green aphids are like the easy mode of aphids so it’s easy enough to squish as many of them as you can and then just spray the plants down with neem oil. It’s more annoying then anything.

Of course the way the aphids are climbing the bench to get to the seedling are ants. Here’s a few on my first really spectacular squash blossom. I had to cut back some of the moldy leaves on the squash monster and mulch heavily but it seems to be taking well.

Here’s hoping to more bees and less pests.

And maybe some netting for my Bok Choy.

Damn cabbage moths.

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.

The tomato lives!

Though it has some unwanted company…

The sun gold cherry tomato plant that gave me three delicious tomatoes despite being a plant that looked like it was about to die- has made a grand comeback.

It’s a proper bush now- my fertilizing and good watering has really helped. As has the insanity that is late September weather in San Francisco.

But a healthier plant isn’t necessarily one that’s free of bugs. It never had a significant aphid load besides one or two- largely because it wasn’t healthy- aphids tend to go for the healthier plant.

This little reddish thing is a large red aphid. There were more that this one I’m afraid, though most were smaller. There were a few leaves that were just covered in little red specks on the underside.

Red aphids were the culprit that killed all 5 of my tomato plants many years ago- the last time I planted tomatoes in fact, and I swore at the time I’d never do it again, largely from the thousands of red bastards covering my dying plants like a breathing layer of terrible.

But this time I’m prepared.

I hand killed as many as I could, which was really icky, and then I sprayed the plants down with neem oil. I’m gonna repeat that procedure for the next few days and that should be that.

Here’s the thing- a few bugs is fine. Take my fava beans- I’m never going to have zero aphids. But as long as it’s not a zillion- the plants should be fine. The mentality that there should be no bugs ever is what gets you DDT and dead bald eagles. Just by using organic pesticides and basic management techniques…

That beautiful tomato flower should turn into a tomato!

I mean- hopefully, it is nearly goddamn October.

Hey- a Neanderthal can dream!

Bonus picture:

That weird little fellow on the rim of my shishito pepper is a ladybug larvae! Aka the little friends who munch on aphids for a living. And why you should be sparing even on the organic pesticides. I inspected my tomato for these fellows before I put the neem oil on- don’t want to kill the good bugs with the bad! Since the peppers have the most ladybug larvae I won’t be spraying them. The crazy aphid load on the tomato plus how delicate tomatoes are justified it.

But hand killing aphids is definitely the safest way.

Even if it is also the grossest way!