Carrot bed finally sown

G-d the carrot bed was depressing.

Beautiful carrots all tasteless and dull.

Well that’s what happens when the bed is too depleted. Last year I had trouble with tiny little carrots and bushy tops- too much enrichment. This year it was the opposite.

How about we aim for perfect sweet carrots 2k20?

That means clearing the bed of weeds and *sob* baby carrots.

Rip tasteless carrots. May you at least make good compost.

Then it was time for your friend and mine, a big bag of compost. Compost is key here. Manure is too rich, basic granular fertilizers not rich enough. It’s not so much about fertilizing so much as amending… the distinction between the two could be it’s own post.

There is one true carrot in my mind, though people’s opinions may vary. Kuroda carrots are wonderfully sweet and straight and like to overwinter, which is perfect, because winter is coming.

My perfect little rows are perfect as always.

Yes. Grow and be sweet little seed, grow and be sweet!

Then it’s just a matter of covering everything up and hoping for the best.

It’s cold at night and cool during the day so there is a non-zero chance not everything or even most germinate. It also takes a while for carrots to germinate even under warmer conditions. So if in three weeks I have no sprouts I’ll start some carrots indoors to transplant.

Yes that is not ideal and you have to separate them and be careful not to bruise the growing root and all that but carrots are worth it.

Carrots are always worth it.

Late summer planting and re-seeding

The wilting lettuce was good for something- clearing the worst of it gave me space for the rest of my walla walla onions.

Some of them will have to share space with one of my romaines, but otherwise it’s nice I found room for them.

And I have a new pepper. Just in time to take advantage of the ridiculous heatwave I got a chili de arbol just for the heck of it. It’s my favorite chili and for some reason we got a late shipment of them at work and there were only a few left and god knows I like a long shot. I have the two free pots now that I’ve pulled two of my under-performing tomatoes, and I, like nature, abhor a vacuum.

As for free pot number two I’ve decided to mix things up.

My pole beans are doing ok, but not as great as they were doing last year. To supplement the pole beans, I bought some bush bean seeds, and I planted a few in the pot. They shouldn’t need support, and should give me some more lovely tender green beans into fall.

Also as is becoming a habit, I reseeded the dill. It looks like in order to get good fronds reseeding every quarter or so is necessary. I might need to get two dill pots going at once so I always have dill on hand, it’s an herb I use a lot of and waiting for it to sprout again is tedious. It is growable by start, but I have such ham hands that I always disturb the roots too much and it dies on me. SO growing from seeds it is!

In other new seed news, I’ve decided to try these beets. I was going to re-sow my beet patch anyways, but I thought maybe some white beets would be nice to try. It would be nice to have beets without staining every surface in the kitchen.

I actually have to pick more soon.

That’s a golden beet, just waiting for me.

Last but not least, I’ve finally planted my summer savory in the herb bed. This is the annual form of winter savory, a plant that’s in my other herb bed. It’s a nice herb.

I have to figure out my herb beds as things are both thriving and dying in equal measure, same with the pots, and I have a lot of experimental herbs that frankly, I’m not eating and I’m probably never going to eat and that’s just a waste of space. So I have to get planning. Fall is coming, and depending on the heat it may or may not be brassica season soon. Of course brassica season means cabbage fly season, and I have to be pro-active this year about combating that.

Work never ends. But the results are pretty tasty.

 

August work part three: putting things in pots and looking ahead

The absolutely wild weather continues, but we had a break in the rain and fog so I could pot up a few plants and contemplate future actions.

I have no idea where the celery is going to end up in the end. Probably in its own larger pot but for now it’s in a one gallon grow pot with a good handful of bio fish fertilizer. Celery is a bit of a heavy feeder and you got to take care of it.

I HAD three fennel- now I have two, because when I looked at the forming bulbs, two were fine, and one (not pictured) had little bugs living inside the bulb. This one was ok though.

Now while the celery will probably have to graduate to a bigger pot, Mr and Mrs Fennel can probably stay here till I’m ready to eat them. Fennel is funny- put them in the same pot and they’ll go to seed instead of produce a bulb. You have to either space them a foot apart in a bed- not ideal for an urban garden- or give them their own little pot to live in. As tasty as their fronds are- I like to cook with the bulb!

Unfortunately the logistics of my oregano is getting complicated. It should go in the sun herb bed where the sun herbs live- but something is wrong with that bed. I think the soil has gotten really compacted because it’s draining really poorly. It, along with my 4×4 shade herb bed is the oldest bed in my garden, and I think it needs to be dug out. I don’t want to lose most of the herbs in it though, so it would be a real project- I’d have to dig out all the herbs I want to keep and keep the root balls wet while I heavily tilled and amended the dirt… anyways so the oregano is going to stay in it’s pot for a while while I contemplate matters.

I ripped out my gigantic flowering dill weed, and next week I’ll re-sow the dill. I’m trying to figure out if I have the right dill seeds for my needs however, so I’m also waiting til next week.

And of course I still have four cells worth of onion starts. Arg that is too many onions! Which is a nice problem to have.

This area which has only a lone romaine can house some of them. I’ll probably have to break out another fabric pot for the rest. I’m trying to tilt the garden into more perennials and longer growing root veggies anyways, so I suppose I’ll figure it out.

The dill isn’t the only thing that needs re-seeding- I have to go into the beet bed and the carrot bed and the leek pot and re-seed what I’ve picked and what never popped up in the case of the leek pot.

So while I have more work to do in the garden- I suppose August has gotten off to a great start.

Now I just have to figure out if I can save my potted tomatoes or not.

Many tears are going to be shed over that I’ll tell you.

Mid-June planting and sowing

I got a few interesting herbs at work a few days ago, but due to the heat wave I had to wait to plant them. They just sat on my work table which is slightly under the overhang of the back of the house so they didn’t get scorched.

You will note the second tarragon. My original tarragon is doing great, but it’s very low and shrubby. I like big twigs of tarragon for throwing into sauces and stews and soups, so I got a second one that was growing a tad taller.

I eat enough tarragon that it makes sense to have multiple plants.

I also got one of the best smelling mints I’ve ever had- Moroccan mint.

It’s s type of spearmint but it has a really deep and complicated scent. They make tea of it fairly commonly, I used to drink a lot of Moroccan mint tea, now I can make my own.

And yes, I bought a second Yerba Buena. I put her in the corner of the sunflower patch, so she can dramatically drape over the corner.

My most interesting purchase by far was the coyote mint.

Coyote mint isn’t a true mint, and isn’t really even a culinary herb at all. It’s a California native plant that smells like mint. It’s so native to me, it grows wild around the Russian River! It’s flowers should help feed the local bees too- I haven’t seen a sweat bee yet this year and I do worry.

I finally picked the cream of the lipstick pepper seedlings and put it in its forever home. I pulled the underperforming jalapeƱo to make room. Hot peppers are just not great out here, but lipstick peppers are sweet peppers so hopefully…

I used some microryzae in the pepper pot, maybe that means the roots will grow quicker.

I also took stock of my shade bed and sowed those nice black lettuce seeds that a pen pal sent me in the mail from Ohio.

And also some red scallions and some parsnips.

Now there’s some fancy dirt. I also don’t have to worry about keeping it moist, because in true San Francisco fashion, after our ridiculous heat wave… it rained this morning.

In June.

I give up.

Taking care of your roots

Root vegetables that is!

Every other Tokyo market turnip is maggot eaten. But the two I’ve eaten so far have been safe. I’ve been tossing the duds. I suspect no matter how mild a San Francisco spring and summer are- turnips are a winter crop, if only because of the damn cabbage fly.

Lesson learned.

But happily cabbage fly ignores carrots and potatoes, my other root vegetable loves. (And beets, but that’s another post)

Anyways, I ripped out the last of the carrot bed today.

Most of the carrots left were certified messes, except for a few really nice Kuroda, that got a nice trip to the sink to clean them and are now living in the refrigerator til I eat them up.

Now the trick with growing carrots is that if you fertilize them too much or use anything with too much nitrogen, you’ll get great big bushy tops and not so great roots. And it’s carrots- the roots are the whole point. Enter- neem seed meal.

Specifically formulated as a fertilizer for root veggies, note the potatoes on the box, neem seed meal is great for helping your root veggies grow great without putting too much energy into the inedible parts.

Score one for my new job, I’d never heard of the stuff until I started working at Sloat.

And yes- it’s from the same plant that neem oil is from.

Kills bugs grows carrots, what can’t the neem tree do!

Also it smells amazing. Like- I should be putting this on steak before grilling it amazing.

Don’t eat this stuff.

But yeah it smells finger licking good.

ANYWAYS.

Kuroda carrots are wonderfully sweet, but their main advantage is that they handle hotter temps better than most carrots. Considering that these carrots will be maturing in late August, one of the hotter months in my fair city, I’ll take it.

I spaced my carrot seeds appropriately this time instead of willy-nilly.

Now it’s just a matter of keeping everything moist until they germinate.

Now onto the potatoes!

It is high time I filled up those bags with soil for maximum spud production.

I put a good fistful off the neem seed meal in each bag and then spent the better part of a half hour wrestling soil into bags that would rather not be filled. You have to cover as many of the lower leaves as possible because covered leaves equals more spuds.

And I love spuds.

Boom! Filled bags!

I watered the heck out of all of them, and hopefully the tops will grow more, and then I’ll fill the bags completely to the top and then by August/October I’ll have more potatoes then I know what to do with.

Here’s hoping!

New plants, new bed, and bad news

So this was a good day, mostly. I got my new fabric bed in the mail a few days ago but I underestimated its size and realized I needed more soil than I actually had.

A trip to the garden center was in order.

I got some blue lake green beans sets along with a replacement for my ailing chervil, a basil gamble and one last squash plant.

First a note on the chervil.

That does not look healthy. It’s the fact that it’s in a bed. This area of the garden, the shade herb bed, is shady in fall and winter. It’s also shadier in spring and summer. But we’ve been having very bright and windy days and that’s just been murder on the chervil. Murder on the parsley too, but that’s solvable.

The thyme doesn’t give a shit it’s huge.

To solve the evaporation problem on the parsley side, the answer is, as always, more mulch.

Just got to lay it on. As for the chervil…

Sometimes you just got to get a new plant. Healthy plant in a pot which will help with water conservation, and on the shade herb table in the shadiest possible spot in the garden. It’s a nice delicate herb chervil, hope this one takes.

In the long shot category, we have basil.

I have completely given up on Italian basil, and if I were to un-give up on it, it would go into a pot. They didn’t have any blue bush basil which is a shame, but they had some very healthy looking Thai basil. Slightly different flavor, but a heartier plant, which as you can see I’ve mulched the absolute heck out of. It’s still a crazy gamble, but it’s been so sunny… well, all gardening is a gamble really.

The squash was fun though.

See I’ve been growing pretty much all plain green zucchini, largely because it’s easier and mom likes them. But it occurred to me that I had a space for one more plant, and dad likes grey squash, so I got a “Magda” zucchini for him. It was a really healthy looking plant, and it’s a cinch to grow so no skin off my nose to put in an extra plant.

The beans went in easy, as beans tend to, I still mulched the heck out of them of course.

I also put some stakes down for them, I also have some netting that I think I’m gonna use for the trionfo beans.

The main issue today was turnips. They’d been growing slow, and were starting to bolt, no surprise there. One of the reasons I got this fabric bed to stash in the shadiest part of my garden was so I could grow the more temperature sensitive crops like lettuces and arugula and turnips in a shaded area of the garden.

The problem was cabbage fly. I had eaten a lovely turnip a week ago, small but tender, and was all set to pick the biggest few for tonight’s dinner. Only to discover all but one eaten up by cabbage fly maggots.

The one survivor was added to dinner, the rest were added to the compost bin. This is not my first tangle with cabbage fly. Years ago I had a whole lot of really beautiful turnips ruined by them. They’d been scarce as of late, and I thought I could get away with it, but it looks like our really wet start to spring helped the damn flies get off to a good start. Of course, while the damage cabbage fly can do to turnips is the most dramatic due to them eating the roots all up, cabbage fly can damage the roots of any brassica. SO tomorrow’s big task is going to be checking the roots of all my cabbage family crops for maggots or eggs and hand destroying and spraying the lot of them. And sadly I have a lot of brassicas.

This is the new bed. There was clearly a sewing error as you can see it’s a little lopsided. As I got it fairly cheap I suppose it would be bad form to complain about a minor cosmetic error so who cares.

I have quite a few plants I’m putting into this bed, including a few types of fancier lettuce, but these are some of my favorite Japanese vegetables that I picked up from the ferry building a few days ago and can’t wait to grow. Of course both are cabbage family crops so now that I know the cabbage flies are out I’m going to have to be extra vigilant. Both of these plants are quick growers, so it should be only a month from sprouting to harvest and then I can sow again. In between most of the lettuces I sowed some extra french breakfast radishes. I had sowed some radishes in front of the peas, and due to the extreme wet only about three came up.

This guy was my first to eating size. I cleaned it up and gave it to dad and he ate the whole thing leaves and all.

God bless him.

Well soon I’ll have many more, radishes are one of those plants you can tuck anywhere and they’ll mostly grow no matter what you do. Of course they are cabbage adjacent so I will once again have to be a little diligent sweeping for fly eggs.

In other not so good news, the red aphids have returned to the sun gold, and in the course of hand picking them, I made a truly bone-headed error.

This is the rose tip of my watering can, and as you can see, the inner part that has the little holes in it is missing. That’s because I set the can down to remove the aphids from the sun gold (and they only were on the sun gold which was weird) and I stepped on it. I heard a *ping* as the inner part went flying somewhere and I have no idea where it went. So while I will scour the garden in the morning hoping to find my missing part, I have a good idea I’m going to have to replace my watering can tip, possibly my watering can.

In the meantime, I have this little fellow playing back up. So what if he doesn’t hold much water, he has the right tip and he doesn’t just barf water out like a plain spout does. I could blame the aphids for this latest clumsy mistake, but I think it’s just my complete inability to see where I’m stepping.

I will of course blame the aphids anyways.

Finally sowing the back mixed bed

This is the bed that used to have Swiss chard and arugula- both going to seed. I still want Swiss chard, but I have an arugula pot for the arugula. Also this bed gets a lot of sun, good for chard not so good for arugula. In winter it wasn’t such a big deal but now that the days are longer…

Ripping out the bed was hard work. I had no idea arugula roots were so deep.

I had about a third of a packet left of five color silverbeet and many Kentucky wonder seeds left.

The back is sowed with green beans, and the front with chard. I’m expecting the chard to need some serious thinning, I oversowed because chard is one of those seeds that sometimes just doesn’t come up.

I also sowed what was left of the chard packet behind the upper Bok Choy and romanesco. Eventually the very back of that bed will also have green beans. In order to get a staggered harvest of beans I’m waiting to sow until the other plants are bigger.

In other seed news, the regular chives are coming up- but the garlic chives are not, so I resowed them.

Chives need darkness to germinate so it’s possible the soil on top wasn’t packed down firmly enough.

I’ll leave you with my neighborhood supervisor who was very interested in all the work I was doing out back.