Captain’s log: April 8th 2019

There’s a real difference between winter rain and spring rain. All the rain we’ve been having has been winter rain- but today’s shower was a spring shower.

The view from my window was nice and green, and while I got a little wet while checking on things outside, it’s a gentle rain.

A few days ago I got my second blackberry plant. I have been reliably informed that since blackberries of all species and varieties grow practically feral all over San Francisco, you actually can get away with one vine, as the pollinators will no doubt have some blackberry pollen on them when they visit.

I like symmetry however. Also- this means I could have two Marionberry vines as I wouldn’t need to get a second of a different variety!

One problem. This was the only Marionberry left at the garden center.

Blackberries are an investment in the future anyways. I put some coffee grounds under the mulch to give the soil an extra acidic kick, and the mulch should help reduce how much I have to water and weed.

Of course this extra moistness is not so great for the squash monster. Wet leaves are not great for zucchini- but there’s not a damn thing I can do about it so we’ll just have to see how bad it gets.

Even the baby zucchini don’t look so hot, though they’re definitely growing. All I want is to be up to my eyeballs in squash! Is that too much to ask for?

I am up to my eyeballs in sage.

Delightful! Berggarten sage is such a grower in spring, it has that lovely silver green color and such nice wide leaves.

In other good herb news the lemon balm has rebounded. I might regret having put it into a bed- it is mint after all, but ha ha too late to fix that now!

The cilantro I sowed is starting to come up. This is the lightweight pot I made heavier with rocks and so far I can confirm- hasn’t gotten blown over again!

The sauce pot is starting to bloom like crazy. Again- there are only a handful of bees out this early, especially because of how winter dragged on, but sauce pots gonna sauce pot.

This is the first sungold flower. I have nothing bad to say about this, sungold can do no wrong. If it wants to flower early, clearly it knows best.

The new potato bags are starting to sprout nicely, and the old potato bags are almost all filled up with soil.

Super happy about the potatoes.

I’m also super happy about the cauliflower.

I’ve never grown these before and I’m glad they seem to be taking. The Bok Choy are taking of course- but that’s not a surprise.

They seem to really like their new bed, which is nice. Supposedly the fabric beds make for more aerated roots and less water-logging so hopefully that helps them grow well.

The peas are starting to climb well. I have a feeling these are going to end up trailing up the fence. I might have to get some eyelets and wire so there’s a good support on the fence.

Might have to do that with the blackberries too- once they crawl up the bamboo supports to the fence.

While I did have to sacrifice the sassy salad pot for the black krim tomato luckily I haven’t had to sacrifice the arugula pot yet. Which is great as I am going to have to sacrifice the upper arugula bed for beans and beets soon, and I love arugula.

I’ll leave you with the view of my blackberry patch. Which just makes me happy to look at. Even if will be a year or two before I get a berry.

April planting part 2

It’s almost all in. I say almost because despite the fact that rain wasn’t forecast until tomorrow… it started today. So I got most of my plants in anyways.

The blackberry will have to wait until the rain stops- but at least the tomatoes and the mess of zucchini are in.

The zucchini was an adventure however.

For one thing the root ball was very stuck in.

Yeah, not gonna be able to separate that.

On top of that, the other problem is this bed that has the best room for the squash ball is fairly shallow. I tried to separate the roots so I could have a few plants in different areas- but that dog wouldn’t hunt. Faced with lots of roots… I improvised.

I took a bag of potting soil and mounded it up into a hill. Then I dug as deep a hole I could and put the sure start inside. And then I planted my squash ball and hoped for the best.

I still have to mulch the hill, but as mentioned, we’ve had a rain delay.

Mount squash. It’s gonna be real interesting to see how good a neighbor the zucchini monster is going to be to the romaine lettuce and the green onions. Not so worried about the scallions mind, as long as they have some vertical room they’ll grow. Hope the romaine don’t get squashed.

Heh. Squashed by squash.

I might have to find some sort of trellis system- but I have to do more research.

The tomatoes were much more straight forward.

The Roma mega pot went into the big green pot. Similar to the squash pot it’s three plants in one big root ball, which is also semi-crazy but the plants are super healthy and Roma tomatoes are like the gold standard paste types so I’m affectionately referring to the red pot as the sauce pot from now on.

I put all the soil around the pot while the pot was still on the plants, then removed the mega pot and put down my sure start and planted the big boy.

I mulched it and put some extra stakes in.

I’m gonna string some soft ties around the stakes to support the stalks. it’s a Gerry-rig but I’m known for that!

As for my other tomatoes, it was much easier.

I bought a sweet 100- your bog standard red cherry variety, and a funky heirloom called “black krim’. I chose the black krim because it’s a globe but not a beefsteak and it was developed in Russia. I.e., if we have a cool summer it should still produce since it was bred to perform in an even colder climate than ours.

Also the fruits look SUPER COOL. Like red with black streaks. I’ve also totally bought these at farmer’s markets before, and they are super delish.

I pulled the sassy salad from the green pot- it was going to seed anyways because of the increasing sunshine- and some sure start later- the black krim was in.

It’s a pretty runty plant so far- I have to figure out how I’m going to cage it- but it looks healthy.

The sweet 100 went into my new extra large terra-cotta pot, along with granular fertilizer, sure start and lots of potting soil. I think the old tomato cages will do for this one- on Wednesday when the rain breaks I’ll assess my options.

I’ve got my eye on you miss blackberry- and while I’m probably going to have to buy you a friend in a week- you’re getting planted soon enough- wait your turn!

God I’m so excited about putting in a blackberry.

Stupid rain delays!

Part one of new raised bed adventures

It was dry today, and it will be dry tomorrow. Then a bit more rain- then dry for a while. It’s the first good break in the weather so I’m taking advantage of it.

The first step is mowing everything I can get my mower on.

Under the greenhouse was a priority, but the most important place to mow and weed was the areas where I’m going to put my new beds.

Up here against the fence needed some work, including a lot of hand weeding.

Over here needed work too. I filled the compost bin almost halfway full before I was done.

Then I figured- I don’t have the soil yet, but won’t it be easier if I set up the new beds now?

Mallet time.

I ordered these two new beds over a month ago expected to be sent two smaller boxes. Instead to save money they bundled up both beds in two boxes which makes sense but made the package incredibly heavy. Wrestling it outside was very fun.

Luckily before I ordered anything I measured the areas well, so I knew for a fact the beds would fit in their new homes.

They still need straightening out, and tomorrow I’m going to dig out the remaining weeds and lay down some newspaper for weed prevention. Then it’s just a matter of covering both new beds with a tarp to protect them from the rain. Don’t want my new beds turning into swimming pools.

Then next week I’ll finally be getting the soil to fill the beds.

This was a lot of work, but better to break it up. I know from experience lifting multiple bags of soil first from the car to the back, then from where I set them to the beds is a CrossFit level of activity, so doing this now means in a week I’ll only have to do that, and I’ll be free to collapse afterwords.

I am very tired.

Too much rain!

I hesitate to even say that. It’s too close to a jinx. After years and years of dry or barely wet winters, drought after drought, it seems… unseemly to complain about rain.

But oh god I am sick of it. It’s clear today, but it’ll start up again tomorrow, and my poor plants are getting hammered.

I’ve never grown a lemon grass plant before so I don’t know for sure- but I’m pretty sure this is not the best sign. The plant is too tall to stash in the mini-greenhouse so out it sits- getting overwatered.

The Mitsuba is yellowing a bit- which will become a recurring theme. As a woodland plant, it doesn’t mind the rain- but like a lot of the plants in the back- it needs some fertilizer. All the rain is washing away the nitrogen from the soil. So yellow plants.

Even the hardy parsley looks a little wilted. Luckily fixing a parsley plant on the fritz is pretty easy- light fertilize, cut away the yellow leaves, harvest the good leaves so new growth can form. Not sure how to do that with the lemon grass.

Honestly though? The lemon grass was planted for one reason and one reason only: it repels mosquitoes. So since I’m not really using it culinarily, if this one is just dead from rain I’ll just plant another one to ward off the wee bloodsuckers.

And maybe I’ll look up how to harvest and use fresh lemon grass because I do like the flavor.

Lemon balm is also supposed to ward off mosquitoes, and it also makes very nice tea. It seems to have developed spots on its top leaves, though the bottom growth is coming on fine. It’s a mint so my strategy is to leave it alone. Mint will figure itself out!

Mint always wins.

Ah cilantro. Also getting spotty- but the spots seems to be a cosmetic blemish as the leaves taste as good as they always do. It also needs a light fertilize like the parsley, but the center growth is pretty good so I’m not going to fiddle with it much.

The poor pepper plant looks positively pathetic. What it needs is some sun and time to dry out- what it’s getting is a deluge. The wind keeps knocking it out of its ties, so I keep having to go out and re-tie it. I was really hoping my pepper would last til summer and start growing again, but I’ll be surprised if it survives the month.

Oh well.

In better news, the bees are starting to appear! This is a bumble bee who got caught out in the rain a few days ago, poor girl, and wisely decided to take a load off under the sheltering leaf of my sorrel plant. Smart bee! Wet bee!

It’s not the first bee of 2019 but it’s the first bee I’ve been able to photograph. Gonna have to start fixing the bee house for little miss bumble’s mason cousins.

Squarely in the “loving it” category are both my new potted mints. I was worried about transplant shock but they clearly weren’t. New growth already and they smell fantastic. If only all my plants were as water loving as mint.

Finally- the last Bok Choy’s are in line to get eaten this coming week and they look amazing. A little slug eaten ok, but with this much rain it was inevitable. I have a small fabric bed coming in which I think I shall plant solely with Joi Choi- it’s a really good producer that doesn’t bolt in the heat like the purple type did. I finally figured that out- we had like two hot days in January that messed up the plants. Considering how variable San Francisco weather is, I’m not going to plant any variety that’s that sensitive to changes in temperature. But how can you learn these things except by experimenting? Lesson learned.

Here’s to March!

Captain’s log: February 1st 2019

Man it’s just been a week of nothing. Between the rain and just waiting for things to sprout I’ve been left twiddling my thumbs.

But despite that it’s been an exciting Friday.

First things first- the weird purple Rosy Bok Choy is… being a weirdo.

It’s growing a stalk and flowers. All edible of course- that’s the glory of the Brassica family of vegetables, after all Broccoli and Cauliflower are just edible flowers. It’s still really weird though! You can see in front of the Bok Choy my baby romaine lettuces are growing nice.

The leeks in a pot and green onions (the ones that came up anyways) are growing well. Even more excitingly…

Baby potatoes have begun to sprout! Only one bag so far- but we’re getting so much rain the other one will sprout soon, potatoes are a long project, I probably won’t get a single spud til at least August.

The turnips are doing great, though I noticed some yellow old leaves. I think the constant rain is washing some nutrients into the ground water, so what I did do today was give everything a very light fertilize.

The turnips are super pretty though. A few days ago I put a few more turnip seeds in the gaps, for maximum turnip. The peas never sprouted behind them. Which is ok at this point, since as soon as we have a warm spell I’m putting in the first of my pole beans.

But we had a visitor in the night!

That’s some cat prints in my arugula pot. Since there was no cat poop in the arugula pot- I don’t care if a local kitty decided to patrol. Keeps the rodents down. But there were more exciting activities in this pot:

Itty bitty baby arugula sprouts! The sassy salad mix in the pot next door has also sprouted which is grand. Weirdly the two Swiss chard pots have not sprouted yet.

Eh whenever they sprout they sprout.

I’ve got a lot of weeding ahead of me. Both mowing and hand pulling. Nothing for it!

I also have some work up here.

I’ve ordered two new 8×2 beds, for up here and over here.

Both areas need to be mowed, and the bench has to be moved. I have other work too- but this is the most pressing. All in all I have work to do.

But hey- the dill is growing spectacularly! And that’s worth enduring a deluge.

More rain causalities

It’s just been absolutely storming. Wind, rain, we had a hail advisory but the actual hail never materialized- thankfully.

Unfortunately there have been some casualties.

As you can see, the tomato plant is not liking how wet it’s gotten. The mystery pepper plant is also dripping and unhappy, but I still think that plant is salvageable.

I just need a couple more days for the last tomatoes to ripen- but the plant is definitely on its last legs.

I mean look at the vines just moldering away. All the umbrellas in the world couldn’t stop this.

Something is eating my Pac Choi a little bit- so I put down some sluggo. Honestly any kind of leafy cabbage is going to be nibbled a bit so it really doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me is that two of my pea seeds seem to have commutes suicide in the heavy rain.

The force of the rain has driven the seeds out of the soil. Now these are only two of about 7 seeds I planted so hopefully the others will come up- but yeah, it’s a little upsetting. I was having problems with the green onions growing funny, and enough did come up that I’m not worried, but I’m going to wait til the rain is gone before I sow more green onion seeds.

Luckily all my leafy greens don’t give a shit about the rain, and I have more arugula then I know what to do with.

(That is a lie. I know exactly what to do with arugula- shove it into my mouth with great gusto. I fucking love arugula)

Overall the herbs are liking the rain, with the exception of the potted tarragon plant which was on its way out before the downpour anyways so there’s very little I could do about that.

The purple sage looks real rough though.

I don’t think it’s going to die- it’s just waterlogged. Sage is pretty resilient as far as herbs go, the berggarten sage is just soaking up the wet. But the berggarten sage was well established, and the purple sage was new- that’s the real difference.

Luckily for me, and the continued health of my plants, after Sunday the rains should stop for a month. Gives me time to plan for spring and undo some of the damage the rains have done.

So it’s going to be a while before I can do anything out back.

It’s nice to read inside and listen to the rain though. We’ve had such a history of bad drought in California these last few years that even though this amount of rain is not great for me personally, I’m really glad we’re having this amount of rain. It’s good for the health of the state.

Even if it’s not the greatest for the health of the garden.

Captain’s log: January 6th 2019

Rainy days make for an idle gardener.

Best to keep an eye on things though, especially since the last big rains caused some of my baby green onions to commit plant suicide. Not really sure how to stop that though.

They seem to be doing ok all things considered, even if they are a bit wonky.

The baby romaine lettuces are a bit wobbly too, too much rain probably effecting the roots a bit. Once they get bigger it’ll be less of a problem.

The ever-ripening tomato plant is showing its age but I did get some more tomatoes today.

Some of these are really only half-ripe, but the force of the rain had drove them off the plant so…

Sometimes nature picks your produce for you.

The leafy greens are all drinking it up, with the Swiss chard winning awards for beauty.

Of course so are the Pac Choi:

Cabbages and chard like the wet, unlike other plants which can get waterlogged. One of the advantages of growing cabbages in this sort of climate honestly, you don’t have to worry so much about potential disasters. Even plants that do well in our mild summers and don’t need too much heat can fail in our winters from just way too much rain.

The spinach bed still needs a good weeding, but at least the rain seems to be rejuvenating everything. If there’s a lull in the rain tomorrow I’m probably going to pick some.

Finally, the herbs seem to be doing ok, but I just love how the sage looks.

It was giving me some pause, but after a day’s soak it seems to have been revived.

Now, whether the basil or oregano will do well is a question mark, as is the fate of the tarragon.

The cilantro is thriving at least. And so is the sage.

I think the biggest chore I have to do soon is just spend several hours weeding the beds. I was on top of it, but rain doesn’t just grow your plants!

We’ll also see if the tomato plant survives this latest downpour. It looks… rough- and with over a weeks worth of rain to come, it could be that the tomato may finally have met its match.

Or I could put up the umbrella again.