Mixed greens bed is sowed

Did some good work today in advance of the rains- still some risk of a wash-out but I’ll take the chance.

Did the newspaper trick after clearing the old moldy fava bean dirt and the few weeds that had taken root.

Then it was just a matter of dumping a few bags of soil in, which was quite the workout!

I’m not making the same mistake I made with the moldy lettuce- I put a few good shakes of sure start fertilizer after bag of soil 2. See the weird roots of my lettuce might have been a result of not only the freak heat wave right after I planted them- but the lack of good soil microbes. Sure start fertilizer is a good way to inoculate the soil. I like to think of it as soil probiotics.

These are the Pac Choi I’m putting in, the green one is the “Joy” cultivar and the purple one is the “Rosy” cultivar.

I’ve had great luck with Pac Choi. It’s just a Asian cultivar of cabbage, but much more robust and pest resistant. Also easier to grow and the whole thing is edible. Yummy firm stems and green leaves (or purple!) make for a great side dish or stir fry. (Or salad or braised dish or…)

But I like a mixed bed- no mono cultures here!

So since I’ve been having bad luck with the Romaine plants- time to plant romaine from seed!

Two rows that will of course need to be thinned pretty heavily, but hopefully they won’t be washed out by the rains.

But that’s not all…

My dad’s favorite vegetable!

He eats so many of these I’m surprised I haven’t been growing them already!

I think I’d been laboring under the delusion that they’re hard to grow- maybe in other places, but not in our climate!

Three rows and the best thing is that you don’t need to thin them at all. Just a seed every half inch to inch and you won’t need to pull any till they’re full grown and ready to eat!

This is also one of the great advantages of growing in San Francisco as in different climates you’d never be able to grow green onions in winter but here- full speed ahead.

Anyways- it’s a pretty bed.

Romaine at the back which is the shadiest, Pac Choi in the middle, and green onions in the front to capture all the winter sun.

Of course the seeds might get borked by the upcoming torrents of rain- but I have plenty of seeds to re-sow next week in case of disaster.

That being said I am considering mulching over the seeds before the rains and then removing it after- but I haven’t made up my mind on that.

What I am is tired- this was a lot of soil to lug around on a Sunday.

Here’s a picture of some beautiful little cabbages:

God I love Pac Choi.

A vain attempt to save the tomato from the downpour (UPDATE)

I have tied an umbrella to the tomato cage.

I’m not sure this will work to save the tomato plant from drowning but I had to do something.

It is also one of the silliest thing I’ve ever done.

Bonus:

The mole pepper started falling over in the rain so I staked it up so it wasn’t listing so badly.

I’m worried that the pots are just going to get saturated- and they’re isn’t much I can do about that.

Peppers are famously resilient and famously weedy so I’m less worried about them then the tomato.

Still a little worried though.

San Francisco! Torrential downpour or drought! No in-between!

(UPDATE):

Umbrella fell over so I re-tied it to the cage and then I got ambitious and tried to tie up the fallen bits to a stake in the ground

Nothing like macgyvering in a downpour!

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

That’s not fog- it’s smoke.

It was even worse yesterday. All the windows had to be closed and I couldn’t go out to water. I’ll have to water today, but I’m going to wear a mask.

This is a map of the active fires in California right now. The biggest one is the Camp fire to the North, but to the South there two more fires, The Woolsey and Hill fires to the north of Los Angeles. On paper that’s a lot of fire, very far away from me. On paper.

Problem is, smoke travels much further than the fire itself does. I don’t know if it’s wind carrying smoke south from the Sierras or wind carrying smoke north from LA, but it’s completely unbearable outside. My poor mother is housebound, the particulates in the smoke would be very damaging to her Asthma.

This is what climate change is doing, turning an already fire prone ecosystem into a tinderbox.

I mean I remember fires every other summer growing up as a kid, but they were usually small ones far away that were quickly contained. Not like this.

I suppose I should count my blessings. Last big fire we had in the summer laid ash down on my herbs. This is just ruining the air.

This is another risk of gardening.

Troubleshooting in November

It’s been so long since I’ve gardened year round instead of just having a few summer plants and just keeping the herbs- that a few problems are popping up, some of which I’m familiar with, some of which are a little new to me.

The first is simple.

As you can see on my flat leaf parsley in a pot (which is being caressed by the lemon grass) and by the curly leaf parsley in the ground:

Some of the leaves are yellow. This is usually either due to a lack of nitrogen or a lack of water. As both plants are well watered, it’s most likely time to fertilize the herbs. No biggie.

More annoying is my spinach/Swiss chard issue.

This is bug damage right? Or is it heat damage? I’ve sprayed and left bait and I picked to worst of the leaves but the spinach keeps getting damaged. I grew spinach earlier this year and while one or two leaves got a little chewed it was nothing like this. I’m chalking this up to heat stress/bug stress from the heat and hoping by the time the new spinach/Swiss chard sprouts it’s consistently cooler.

The lettuce is crazy though.

The void is where I had to pull another romaine- because the stem had gone all soft and mushy. Is that a fungal problem? Is there like a grub issue? I’ve checked all the other stems and they seem to be fine, and the red lettuce isn’t bothered. Am I watering too much? Too little? I’m so confused.

As for the tomato:

Yes the tomato plant has little baby tomatoes- but it’s also got curling leaves and leaves with brown and yellow spots.

Basically it got hot enough for a growth spurt- but now it’s getting cold enough that I’m pretty sure the plant is shutting down. I think perennial tomato plant is a pipe dream in San Francisco climate conditions.

I just hope it lives long enough for the dozen or so baby tomatoes to ripen, so I am watering (not too much!) and fertilizing regularly like normal.

Didn’t want this post to be too much of a downer, so here’s a picture of some almost ripe baby bell peppers

And I checked these- no holes!

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.

First rain of the wet season!

It was a fun sight to wake up to that’s for sure!

Grey and gloomy- how I like my 7:30s to be!

Everything is nice and wet!

I think the only thing I’ll need to water today is the seedlings inside of the greenhouse bench.

It’s good timing too- did a major spray of the aphid encrusted fava beans last night and hopefully the rain washed some of them off.

The wet/dry dichotomy of San Francisco weather has some perks. For one thing- it means during the dry season you don’t really have to mow, all the areas in between beds will die back.

Well as you can see by the little green weedlets- that’s over!

The heavy rains of the wet season also mean you don’t have to water yourself much. It will mean some trouble for my succulent pots- might have to move them around so they don’t get drenched.

Anyways- I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s no rain forecast for a while after this, it could be a fluke and we’ll have another drought-y winter. (Please no)

Also adding to the weirdness, it’s humid now- and 70+ degrees. Because San Francisco.

It’s been a while since we’ve had our Indian summer and the wet season at the same goddamn time. I for one welcome our terrible interesting weather. It keeps one on ones toes!

Hot and rainy? Might actually get another few tomatoes. Also should keep the greens watered, though if it’s sunny too the lettuces will wilt.

So fingers crossed for hot, rainy and cloudy.

The San Francisco terrible interesting weather triple threat!