Captain’s log: Early December 2019

The rains have begun in earnest!

Which means I have to delay my planting, hunker down any little plants, and focus on a big clean up. A clean up of what?

Apples. When I took this picture I was anticipating a not so fun job for my next day off, but when I came home that night the apples were gone, my mother having gone out and taken care of it during a break in the rain. Both to give me a break, and to hopefully deny any rodents a snack. She counted over 150 apples which is a sad waste. We just normally don’t have these sort of yields on this old tree, and it took us completely by surprise this fall. Not to mention the tree is tall and ungainly which means if we get these sort of yields next year I’m going to have to buy a picker so I can get the ones at the top. (and maybe rent a cider press… hmmm)

The other job I’m anticipating… is the interstitial weeds. Ah hello carpet of green. You’re pleasant now, but in a month when you’re kissing my ankles you wont be.

But hey! My idea of strawberry pots is still going strong! When I can run out and pick a nice juicy red guy like this everything is right with the world.

Of course the rains started just when I went to all that effort to try and save my squash vines for another month. They are toast! So are the bush beans in the pot and the bull horn pepper plant. Maybe next garbage night I’ll toss them into the compost.

Losing the squash is interesting as it means I now have a heavily amended free 4×4 bed and I am racking my brain on what I can plant here. Considering my wish for pumpkin supremacy next year I may just do a cover crop. But also I like brassicas and no one can stop me?

It’s a dilemma.

My last really pretty red lettuce is just about ready to pick.

I cut back the sage and… it’s sort-of re-sprouting? I have enough faith in the magic that is Berggarten sage to leave it be through the rains to see if it will come back. If it doesn’t? I’ll replace it. I got few years out of this one, and seven out of my first one from the before times. I’ll never grow another sage again!

Oof I have to pick those leeks. Also I need to weed that pot. All the more so because…

I still have these leeks to plant! And mitsuba and parsley and chervil. Not the baby green onions, they still need more time.

In the keeping of my new format of doing these logs, let’s have some good news. My Japanese bed is doing fantastic because the new rains have really reinvigorated the plants. I still need to weed, and I still need to pick up the dang broken garden gnome/spider factory behind the bed but ew it’s a spider factory you touch it first.

Alright now for some not so great news. The shade herb 4×4 bed is a MESS. All capital letters are needed. The thyme is all dry and bleh the parsley is bolted or already bolted, my garlic chives died in the heat wave and I don’t even like anise hyssop I just think it’s pretty. I have a feeling if there’s a break in the rains I’m going to take a good look at the available herbs at work and do some digging.

Not you Mr. lemongrass you’re perfect.

Hmm… I did get those shallot bulbs…

No that’s crazy talk.

Speaking of things I need to eat. Now that’s a kohlrabi! We’re at the “make Cole slaw with me” stage of this guy and I am here for it.

The only downside to free watering from Mother Nature is that the nutrients in the beds get washed out. So there are for sure a few yellow under leaves of my Bok Choy that I’m having to pull so they down attract slugs.

Time for some seaweed fertilizer!

Also time for some swear words. Arg I hate these cabbage aphids. Wet conditions and extra ants are really helping their population to boom.

I mean insecticidal soap exists for this very reason and I took care of it but it was still icky and gross.

And of course since I can’t be out there in the pouring rain it’s hard for me to hand pick them off. I think the Brussels will be ok but it’s still a pain.

Now that it’s December it’s officially time to take in the bath. I stuck the bee pebbles into the old pitcher and stuck my disassembled bird furniture out of the way. This is truly what a shed is for.

Now of course I have the rest of the month to rearrange the whole garden!

In the pouring rain.

Good think I have a good parka.

A seasonal pause- or the rain delays have started 2k19

While I was smart enough to get the brassica beds all finished in time, I dithered on my new herb and leek haul.

Which now that it’s pouring is a bit of a problem.

I mean they’re perfectly happy, but as with the tea shrub I’m a little concerned about them blowing over.

I’m also going to have to drain and disassemble the bird bath- it’s clearly time to take it in.

There’s also now the conundrum of will the scallions germinate in the cold, but if you look closely a few are starting to pop up. Nothing stops an onion!

Taking a cue from the seedling setup I just put a big ol’ rock in the flat.

Anyways, I hope your late November is going well, and may the rain continue!

It saves me from having to water!

 

Weather damage in late October

Most of this post could be un-ending cursing just because I may have lost about 20-30% of the plants in my garden due to the absolute bull pucky that is fall in San Francisco, but I’m going to try and not go blue.

We’ll see if I can succeed.

So this was sort of a one-two-three punch. First, we had very very wet weather for a week and half or so- which was welcome even if it caused a few problems. One of the entertaining problems was the sudden cluster of mushrooms in the shade herb bed.

And before you even ask- no I am not eating random mystery mushrooms. I like to live my life on the edge but that is too far thank you very much.

The wet was the return of the fog, but also some morning rain, which was very welcome. It is making my zucchini look very sad though. Powdery mildew is basically the price of doing business in San Francisco. You will get it- it’s just a matter of controlling it. This actually isn’t so bad, I should be able to cut off the worst leaves and despite it being almost November, I should still get the occasional squash until real winter comes.

But then we had the two day heat wave.

Now- I watered well, but it was not enough. As you can see- my garlic chives bit the dust. Also my yerba buena, most of my tarragon and half my parsley plants.

And not to underplay this- when I say heat wave? It was nearly 100 degrees in my neck of the woods. Highs of 97.

Still trying not to swear, but you better believe the blackberry vines were covering their ears the days this happened.

And then- it got worse.

These are the seedlings I have yet to plant. They are inside. Why are they inside?

Because yesterday- oh god yesterday, the santa ana winds came back. 95 mile per hour wind gusts. I first heard them at 3:30 am on Sunday morning, when like all good little neanderthals I was asleep in my bed. Ooh I thought, how nice, the howling sounds make my bed feel extra cozy.

Then, as I snuggled in my warm bed, my eyes shot open in horror as I realized what was about to happen to my half flat of seedlings outside on nothing sturdier then two milk crates.

One half naked pitch black run outside later, my seedlings were living on top of the washing machine for the night and later day.

Judging my how the milk crates were strewn throughout the garden come dawn on Sunday, I’m really glad I took them inside.

Here’s a quick video I took before heading to work. At work pretty much half the tall plants were knocked over, and we didn’t bother righting them because they’d just get knocked over again. Also our internet was down because of the power outages in Marin, which turned the usually quick process of ringing people up into a molasses like slog.

It was a day.

There were causalities. The corn is basically toast. The ginger mint seedlings are gone. and as you can see, my chile de arbol got hammered.

Luckily it’s a pepper plant all it needed was a stake and some love.

I’m not sure love can save my blue basil though. The winds dried it out to the point that while I’ll make an attempt- coming on the heels of the heat wave makes me suspicious it can be saved.

My pot bush beans also got re-arranged but they’re the type of plant that doesn’t really care.

My tree collard needed re-staking and my parsnips fell over, but all in all it could have been much worse.

After all that, I still have a half-flat worth of plants to plant. And a giant clean-up project.

And I’m going to have to completely re-do the shade herb bed.

Shit.

Chayote adventures

Pretty plant right? This is a chayote- a type of squash very commonly grown out here, but not very commonly seen at my local garden center. In fact the three we got in last week are the first three I’ve ever seen there.

I’ve not eaten a ton of chayote outside of a few restaurants- but I do like it. More importantly it’s a bland squash which is just perfect for mom.

And supposedly it’s an absolute breeze to grow- like most squashes the problem is too many fruits not too few. On top of that, it’s fruiting season is November/December, so it will be bearing when the other squashes have stopped!

Sounds perfect right? Not to mention I know exactly where I can put it.

One problem.

There are still peas in the perfect spot. And I’m not about to pull the peas early- they’re still giving me tons of wonderful pods.

Which reminds me I have to harvest some of these tonight.

I’ve probably got another month of good peas coming from this plant.

So what to do about the chayote?

Well the other day at work a customer came in, laden with plastic pots. He was apparently laboring under the belief that we wanted him to bring back the plastic pots from the plants he bought from us. We can of course recycle them but we generally assume our customers will do that at home.

Well they were just going to be recycled anyways- so my manager okayed me bringing them home. So now I have a ton of plastic pots for repotting things!

Well that takes care of the pot for the chayote- but what about the soil.

I have plenty of my usual organic potting soil, but there is a problem with that. The organic potting soil is a pretty rich mix, and chayote, while easy, doesn’t like getting overwatered. The organic potting holds water well- perhaps too well for the chayote.

The solution is perlite. A couple of cups added to the soil while potting up the chayote will loosen up the soil and ensure good drainage.

Now my chayote is in her temporary home for a month or so until the peas die back and I have the space for her in the color bed behind the tomatoes. Of course chayote are perennials so she’ll be in that bed for quite a long time.

Now I have to think up a good trellis- but I have the time to plan that out.

Hope to see some of you at the meet-up! My plants are begging for new homes.

Captain’s log: June 23rd 2019

Well it’s been busy and it’s going to get busier.

That my friends, is a baby pumpkin! It looks like October pumpkins might be a thing. Or August pumpkins if I’m lucky.

The vine is… going the wrong way. But who am I to tell a pumpkin vine where it can or cannot go. I’m just going to have to accommodate the darn thing as it meanders around my garden.

I’m trying not to make the same mistake I made with my big pot tomatoes- and I’m diligently trimming off the bottom stems of the new guys.

The reason this is a problem is what’s happening with the Black Krim.

This is a beautiful baby tomato- and it’s on a sucker stem. So I am concerned that the weight of the growing fruit is going to knock off the whole branch and lose me a bunch of fruit and flowers. I might have to put a stake in the ground next to the pot and tie that branch to that for support. So it’s going to need a Neanderthal level Gerry-rig, but it is what it is.

Lastly- my one big Roma is ripening nicely. It’s been cool-ish, but on the warm side of cool-ish, and this baby tomato lived through the heat wave so it looks quite nice.

And more ladybug larvae are makes their little cocoons so I’m about to have more voracious aphid killers- which suits me just fine.

It turned out way more spaghetti squash germinated then I needed- so I hope some of my friends want some seedlings. Only a couple of the scallop squashes came up, but I only wanted a couple of them anyways.

This is some lovely oak leaf lettuce that has been patiently awaiting harvest.

Oak leaf is a good choice for warmer climes as it doesn’t get that bitter in warmer weather. The seed packet I got was a mix of red and green oak leaf- and the one that turned up red has not been growing as well as the green. But that’s sometimes the case- red varieties of any vegetable don’t photosynthesize as well as their green counterparts.

The blue lake beans are quite vigorous- here’s one that has escaped its trellis and is starting up the cucumber trellis. Which reminds me- my next day off I have a real project on my hands tying up the cucumbers- they’ve gotten real messy.

But they have lots of little flowers and baby cucumbers so I’ve got that going for me.

Speaking of trellis failures my purple peas are so vigorous- and so top heavy, that they’ve sort of half fallen over the color bed. They’re still producing- I keep bringing up snap peas for dad to munch on, it’s just very precarious. I expect I’ll get peas into August- the vine is just going to be a bit of a mess.

Still have some leeks growing. Also, as evidenced by the soil, still have some very frustrated gophers. Ha ha you rodent bastards- all my plants are in raised beds and pots! I’m an evolved hominid, I can outthink you furry jerks!

Sorry.

Not all my animal visitors are feral cats and hungry rodents. Some are quite welcome. This is a California Towhee. They’re prolific grub hunters. They were chased out of the garden by the cats- but I haven’t seen my feline friends lately, and the birds have returned.

I don’t believe my tree collard is going to make it. It could very well be that my “ingenious” solution to the cabbage maggot problem was the collard’s downfall. Surprise! Aluminum foil rings around the tops of roots probably don’t allow for good root growth. I’m going to try to cut out the foil and use some root growth fertilizer as a last attempt but I’m not too hopeful. Turns out you can’t collar a collard.

Oh god that pun was terrible I’m so sorry.

Here’s a bit of cock-eyed optimism to make up for that pun.

I bought some sweet corn.

Now my parents grew corn when I was a child- it can be done. I’m anticipating a hot summer and fall…

And there’s some room in the 4×4 bed…

If I sort of curl the stalks around the squash the wind *should* pollenated them…

And multiple indigenous groups in America grew squash and corn together so it’s a good soil pairing…

It’s a lot of shoulds.

But I’m gonna do it!

I told you it was going to get busier!

Seedling progress late March

Well at this point some of the seedlings are less seedlings and more plants.

That is a baby zucchini and it needs to go into a bed soon. As there is a bonafide thunderstorm forecast for tomorrow the zucchini will have to stay in a pot for a few more days- but soon it will go into a bed.

The baby purple peas are also raring to go, I’ll give them at least 5 more days but I also suspect by the weekend they’ll be in their bed.

This fellow is the one purple pea that actually came up when I sowed it in the bed directly- I’m glad he made it and soon his buddies will be next to him.

In other exciting direct sown news:

That is a beautiful bean plant. It looks like 5/7 of the bean plants I direct sowed are coming up- two of them look damaged, but I can always put another two seeds down. This is the Trionfo Violetto pole bean that performed so well last year. And yeah, it’s purple too.

I like colorful vegetables alright?

The Joi Choi are colorful too- crisp white stalks and lush green leaves. Of course it’s going to be interesting finding room for all of them- I was expecting a few dud seeds when I sowed 12… there were no dud seeds…

No duds here either- these are some more sunflowers who have no purpose whatsoever except to look as pretty as possible and be nice for the bees.

I’m worried about my older romanesco seedlings- they’re awfully leggy. The one Boston pickle cucumber that I had to replant after the first one died has sprouted nicely- and a few of the telegraph improved cucumbers are starting to come up. The two sunflower seedlings I salvaged from the greenhouse disaster also look nice.

Be fun to scatter the sunflowers around the garden for maximum impact.

The lipstick pepper seeds have also come up though they’re slow growers and it will be a long while before I can put them anywhere.

Spring is officially here, but it won’t feel like it to me until after the thunderstorm. It looks like Thursday is the last of the heavy rain, and anything afterwards will be more like scattered showers.

Which is good- I have work to do in April!

Captain’s log: vaguely late March 2019

It’s really pouring again but in short bursts punctuated by bright sun. So spring is here but it’s also quite damp. That’s not stopping my neighborhood criminal from lounging in my pepper pot.

The nerve of some people! He also likes to sit on my leeks.

Which is always cute but I’m worried if he sits in my baby tomato pots he’ll crush them with his big cat butt.

Baby sun gold is growing nicely- fresh growth already. I’m hoping the deluge, as intermittent as it is, won’t damage them.

My seedling zucchinis are pretty much ready to put in a bed, but it’ll have to wait until it’s dryer.

Right now the zucchini and other seedlings are under the house’s overhang on the work table. During a worse downpour earlier they went indoors for a while.

This took up some space but better than having them get washed away.

Spring is really here- I’m seeing the first big fat ladybugs. I’ll have to put out my bee house soon.

The original potatoes are growing like crazy- the rain is helping them be their best potatoes.

This is my latest project- I’ve taken cuttings from my various mint plants and I’m attempting to grow some plants for friends. We’ll see if they take- but I have high hopes as mint is indestructible.

I’ll leave you with yet another of my plastic owl guardians- now hanging from the apple tree being judgmental.

Of course he’s not the most judgmental thing in my garden.

This cat is the most judgmental thing in my garden. He sits. He watches. He judges.

As long as this guy doesn’t stick his furry butt in my pots.

I don’t have high hopes.