More Brassicas, more problems, more heat.

Well it cracked 90 today here in the sunny Excelsior and I felt like I was going to melt out of my shoes.

Had to do some mid-day emergency watering, which is always fun at noon. Then once the sun wasn’t so high in the sky I did some planting and an even deeper watering that meant I was out until literal nightfall. At least a summer night is pleasant, even though the mid-day temps were brutal.

Kohlrabi! Now this, unlike the Brussels sprouts, is a veggie I’ve grown before. It’s actually pretty easy, and is one of the real fun brassicas. If you’ve never eaten one before give it a try at a farmers market or a really good supermarket, it’s weird looking but tasty.

Unlike the head of cabbage or broccoli, the edible part of a kohlrabi is it’s swollen stem and the leaves. Since it’s not a root veggie like a turnip, I shouldn’t have to worry about the horror that is cabbage maggots.

Easy peasy, just put my seven little plants in a row in front of the sprouts!

Unfortunately the sprouts themselves look a little rough. The heat has done a number on them, though the new growth in the center looks promising. Nothing some deep watering and good mulch can’t fix.

That and as we go into fall, cooler temps.

The caterpillars however, a being a pill.

See that white dot? That’s an egg! My sprouts were riddled with them. I picked off what I could see, and then it was time to spray.

I’m just not going to fool around this year.

I also moved my tree collard over by the other brassicas, and gave him a fresh coat of B.t. as well. I got my first harvest out of him, and boy are collard greens delicious.

I’m having to move a lot of things around, as the season starts to change. So of course my latest garden map is now out of date. Oh well.

I’ll leave you with my neighbor’s barking corgi, who serenaded me all evening long as I gardened. He apparently had something important to tell me as I worked, but as I don’t speak dog it was incomprehensible.

He’s quite cute though.

San Francisco perils: wind and sun

It’s been sunny and clear for several days thankfully, and it will continue to be clear for a while yet. (Fingers crossed!)

Unfortunately while it has stopped raining, it has not stopped wind-ing.

Ha ha oops. There goes the garlic chives! My fault for using that old plastic pot I guess- I had gambled that the weight of the soil would be enough but apparently it was not!

Well that’s the advantage of seed packets- I had plenty more. But I scooped the soil into a new heavy pottery pot and re-sowed.

Small- but heavy.

There’s a reason I prefer the larger terra-cotta and glazed clay pots, it’s partially an aesthetic thing of course but it’s also because the backyard can be really really windy. Weighty pots are safer.

Owl down! Owl down!

The other problem is that the clear sunny skies are drying out the soil really quick, despite the fact that a week ago it was practically flooding.

But there’s an easy solution for that- mulch!

There’s my leeks, all lovingly swaddled with redwood bark. I also mulched the romaine and the green onions in the 4×4 bed.

Now there are only a few green onions that sprouted largely because of how wet and cold it was, so I decided to put up a few more for later transplant.

If I just keep putting out more scallions in the seedling cells I’ll have plenty to transplant all over the garden.

It’s fairly easy to tuck scallions wherever you have space for them, they’re super skinny and you don’t even need to thin them as long as you space them right. Dad eats a lot of green onions so I’d really like to grow a ton of them. So I guess every week or so I’ll put 12 more seeds out. Accounting for a few dud seeds I should have plenty in the ground by late April.

Now it’s just a matter of waiting til Friday- soil day!

I’m so excited!

Mowing adventures

Between hefting a pot and plants on two buses yesterday and pushing a mower through thick weeds today- I’m definitely getting my exercise.

Besides the usual moving pots and bags and benches to get at the grass and weeds, there was also a lot of hand pulling to do, because certain weeds get really woody with time and rain, and the mower just can’t do it.

I did a pretty good job in most of the beds, moving things around and just getting on with it. There was one major problem though.

This- is mint. Growing completely feral behind the sunny herb patch. This is mint of a species I have not planted in 4 years.

Oh man you just cannot kill this stuff! I’m both mad and in awe!

I can’t kill it- but it can kill my mower.

The culprit: a clump of mint root.

The victim:

Man down!

Luckily my push mower is pretty basic and cleaning the blades was fairly simple. So crisis averted- but I’m not making the mistake of mowing mint again.

(Mint. Goes. In. Pots!!!)

All in all it was a good afternoon’s work.

Look, the greenhouse bench is no longer on a thicket!

I still have more work to do today- I have to plant the chervil and mint (in. Pots.) but I’m taking a break right now- I’m really tired!

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.

Captain’s log: November 21st 2018

Seems like forever since I’ve done anything but the most basic of watering. Some of that was due to having less plants that need less water- and some of that was due to the terrible smoke filled air which made it all but impossible to do anything outside without putting on a mask.

Well there won’t be a ton of watering this week- but for the best of reasons!

The rainy season has begun!

Just in time too- all the particulates are getting washed out of the air and the sweet sweet rain is cleaning up the streets and watering my plants. It was a good long rain from this morning until around 3pm, and we might get more tonight. And tomorrow. And next week!

Ah, slippery concrete!

Because I wanted to make a blog post, and because I like getting wet, I decided to take stock of the garden while it was raining.

My little box of Mitsuba continues to grow, and it’s well drained in that box so I’m not worried about it getting drowned. Besides it’s a woodland plant so sticking it in a shady spot and dumping water on it is sort of how it’s meant to live.

The tomato continues to grow like wildfire, though in order to not have it completely overgrown I’ve stopped fertilizing it, but the sudden flood of water won’t stop it growing that’s for sure. Lots of ripening tomatoes- and the half of the plant that wasn’t tied up has almost completely collapsed so once there’s a break in the rain I’m going to get out there with my soft ties and macgyver the plant into, you know, not falling over.

I just cannot grow a lettuce to save my life. The plants all got borked early on from the sudden late heat wave, so I’m fairly confident that I can pull the bad plants and grow some romaine from seed fairly easily now that it’s reliably cold. (Also best to grow romaine from scratch now that we’ve had yet another recall of it). Not to mention the continued bug problem which the cold should also take care of.

Pretty right? Well looks is about all the shishito peppers are good for. They’re undersized and tasteless. The bell pepper was infested with all the ripe peppers having holes in them and bugs inside.

Ick ick ick.

The hatch are also tasteless- and probably not even hatches, but I might be able to save that plant, because while a few are ripening early there are a few still gaining in size. The shishito plant may be salvageable- if I cut it back and just overwinter it by next summer it might produce. I’m not sure though. Sadly the infested dwarf bell peppers will probably have to be pulled- the pot is too short and the plants roots were all scrunched from the beginning- bugs or no bugs.

The mole pepper just keeps on trucking though and that plant is definitely a contender for perennial pepper.

The sudden downpour and chilly temps is definitely reinvigorating the spinach, and as long as I keep sowing I’ll have spinach all season long.

The arugula doesn’t give a crap about anything except being delicious. I’ll probably cut a bunch soon and then sow some more.

Damnit basil! Stop blooming!

I know I have to cut it back, but it’s too wet to really work in the back right now so it’ll have to wait.

It’s super healthy though- so I’ll have basil for cooking all winter long.

Ok. I am concerned.

We jokingly called our first sorrel plant Audrey II for a reason- darn thing was unkillable and gigantic. And now- before the rains… Audrey III here has already doubled in size. I’m just glad I put it in a pot.

The Plastic Owl Guardian will protect me.

Feed me Seymour

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.

Some new fall plants

So I was at the zoo, as one does, and after giving my regards to the penguins, as one does, I realized I was a block away from my local garden center- and the madness gripped me.

That is a lovely if gangly purple sage plant and a lovely and vibrant French sorrel plant.

Now the purple sage is really strictly for show- the berggarten sage fulfills all my culinary needs… but the purple stuff is so pretty!

It goes in the empty spot in the sunny herb patch.

Now the sorrel is kinda funny. I had a sorrel plant years and years ago. I put it in the ground in front of the lemon tree- and regretted it immediately. See, the sorrel plant is a little bit similar to mint, in that it cannot die.

We respectfully named the plant Audrey.

Every winter it would get huge and bushy and overgrown, and we would pull it out- and it would come back in the spring!

This happened like three times before we dug out enough of the roots to finally kill it.

Mind you sorrel is absolutely delish- and we made good use of the leaves, it was just that one plant turned into monster plant from the 8th dimension!!!

And it was a bit much.

My solution:

Put it in a pot!

Specifically the mystery pot- because the mystery seeds were clearly dead and nothing came up oops.

But hopefully in a medium sized pot under the watchful gaze of the plastic owl guardian, Audrey III won’t get oversized, just right sized.

Hopefully.