Fall maintenance

Today the temperature was much more November standard. So it was time for some garden work.

The bushy mess that is my tomato plant needed some trimming, as some of the more yellowed stalks were growing over some of the healthier parts of the plants. They also were kinda aphid breeding areas so I took care of those two. I counted about 7 total baby tomatoes so far, and I fertilized the plant. I also moved the pot a bit so that I wasn’t constantly running into it’s little side frond.

You’ll note there is a tomato cage in the middle of the pot. A completely useless tomato cage.

I also thinned my carrots. Took about half the plants out in what I think was an intelligent way, to give everyone space to grow.

The spinach thinning and cutting took some time. Had to get rid of the plants what were just too heat damaged, and cut off the damaged leaves from the healthy plants. There were also a ton of weeds under the plants, largely due to the fact that it’s been so crazy around here weeding has taken a back seat to life.

The romaine and the red lettuces needed some trimming of the worst outer leaves. Also weeding was needed, along with some snail bait and a good spray with neem oil.

I also cut back the damaged leaves on the Swiss chard and planted more seeds in the dead areas. Along with a light fertilize with fish emulsion- hopefully the temperature cooperates.

The arugula is perfect. I want to kiss it’s peppery leaves. Instead I just have a nibble every time I water. Yum!

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.

Captain’s log: October 5th 2018

It’s been a fun few days here- everything here is growing wonderfully, including the weeds.

The carrots are starting to sprout, early. Everything is starting to sprout, I have a lot of weeds to pull, probably tomorrow- and I think the fava experiment is a bust.

The ladybug swarm just isn’t enough. It’s not enough that I spray the aphids- most of them are dead, but still on the plant.

It’s a damn mess. I put on a pair of rubber gloves and was going to just… rub them off the plants but… I just don’t have the intestinal fortitude for that.

There are definitely fava beans though- so I will be picking them and eating them- and then I’ll pull the plants. It’s not a total bust however, because the whole point of these triffids was to fix some nitrogen to the soil for winter plantings. I never expected to get any beans at all, so whatever I do get is a win.

In other not so great news one of the romaine lettuces has bit the dust. It just sort of flopped over so I had to pull it. Pictured is the void. But I have some coir pots with romaine seeds in the greenhouse, so I’ll have a replacement in the ground before you know it.

It’s not just the carrots sprouting, the Swiss chard is growing nicely too. You can already see the red stems!

The spinach has grown to the point where I’m going to have to thin it, so I put some slug bait down to discourage the slugs.

The shishito peppers are growing nicely, I’ll probably pick one soon to test.

The hatch peppers should be bigger but a few are going red early and I guess I’ll pick a few soon and eat ’em! Peppers can vary wildly heat wise plant to plant and season to season- I don’t think anything I’m growing is habeñero hot (hopefully) but I’m hoping they’re at least a little hot.

Lastly, in confusing but wonderful news, the tomato has decided it really really likes October. I have no goddamn words. I can count like 5 flowers scattered around the plant, and while there definitely are a few scattered red aphids, not so many I can’t hand kill them unlike the disaster that is the fava beans. Also those are a different species called bean aphids and they’re like the platonic ideal of an agricultural pest. Red aphids can totally kill plants but they’re not nearly as crazy virulent. Basically as long as you’re vigilant red aphids are more of an icky nuisance.

I… don’t know if I’ll get any more tomatoes from the plant- I seriously doubt it, but I greatly enjoy watching this stupid plant go from a dying husk to a healthy bushy plant.

You just never know!

Captain’s log: September 18th 2018

There are still a few herbs that are flowering slightly, including now the rosemary. It makes for some nice decoration indoors.

Also a nice decoration, the Red Admiral Butterfly, a common sight in San Francisco gardens. It just decided to take a powder on the brick, and stayed there while I watered.

So it turns out one of the shishito peppers is ripening ahead of schedule, which is a funny sight to see. Probably got damaged by insect activity! It’s not big enough to pick, though I probably will have to. First red pepper of the bunch, which… isn’t really helpful considering its small size and the fact that you’re supposed to pick shishitos green!

The spinach is sprouting like crazy, in another week or so I’ll have to thin it out, but I’m pretty happy that spinach is so easy to grow.

Ah the lemon tree. Damn thing was here before my parents even bought the house, and it just wont die! It looks like we’re going to start getting our lemons. It’s a little early but it was very cold this summer so It’s not very surprising!

The triffids continue to exceed expectations. I keep having to prop them up with stakes as they get too tall, and douse everything in neem oil and insecticidal soap to kill the aphids but dang, they just don’t quit!

Bless the bean, the workhorse of the garden!

The tomato plant is just flush with fresh growth, which probably doesn’t help me get any tomatoes but meh. I’ll take it.

Despite the chilly temp, dad and dog decided to take a break outside. Dog inspected the garden, dad watched the dog on her rounds. Visible in the back is the apple tree, which is producing little hard (but tasty) apples this year, surprising everyone.

It’s been a hell of a year. But everything continues. It’s a comforting thing.

Captain’s log: September 12th 2018

So after a fun few weeks it’s good to get back into the rhythm of more than basic garden care and into fixing up the garden for the wintry future.

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The Herb corner is doing well. This reminds me, I have to update my layout page. Time to dust off the colored pencils. The moss growing on the mitsuba box is actually a good thing, its a woodland herb meant for damp shaded environments, so the fact that its damp enough, and shaded enough for some moss to grow is the best sign. The lemongrass is getting taller and taller, and the one ONE ONE small flat leaf parsley is beautiful and not taking over my garden because I made the mistake of buying TWO plants labeled “giant” and putting them into the ground…

Sorry, had a flashback there.

The large shaded herb patch is also doing well. Now that the giant flat leaf parsley is gone I have to thin things a bit, and I certainly need to weed- but the chive aphid horror of 2018 is well and truly over. (Thanks be to insecticidal soap.)

I am still somewhat… perplexed by the sheer height of my bi-colored shiso, as it started as a small potted herb that fit in my hand. Go team shiso I suppose.

The fennel is doing… something. Is it going to seed? Is this stalk edible? Does it contain more fronds? Was I a fool for growing fennel at all? I think I’m going to wait and see what’s going on. Again, like the chives, aphid issue is gone! SO THERE.

Both Lovage plants are doing very well in their nice pots, and nary a nasty bug in sight! I’ve been picking it for sauces and soups, and I’m thrilled at it’s versatility in the kitchen.

The spinach bed is sown! I have given up on the foolishness of seedlings in my greenhouse (for now…) and have direct sown my spinach seeds into this new bed. It’ll take a week and a half for the first sprouts. Expect gushing and photos when it starts coming up.

Yesterday I pulled out the borked carrots from the bean bed. Soon- this will be the combo lettuce and Swiss chard bed! I think? See I’m fairly sure that romaine doesn’t like all the sun it’s going to get up there so maybe I need a cover? Tomorrow or Friday I’ll pick apart the worst of the bed, add a little more fresh soil and direct sow… something. TBD.

As for the carrots, out of dozens of borked babies that just never grew from too much nitrogen- 6, yes 6, were edible. They were delicious of course, but ugh. Only 6?

I think I’m definitely going forward with a dedicated carrot bed.

The shishito peppers are growing well, tons of flowers, tons of baby peppers, tons of life. All the peppers are doing well, even the mole pepper plant which is a nice plant, just not producing like the others.

We had a minor fava flop. See, now that the favas are growing beans, some of the plants got a little heavy and flopped over. Also might be due to the continuing aphid load. I am spraying as fast as I can! So as needed I’ve been jamming old stakes in the ground and using the soft ties to gently guide the fava stalks to not, you know, fall on the goddamn ground.

Kudos to my mother who noticed the triffid’s listing to one side. Kudos to my dog who wouldn’t stop eating DIRT NEAR THE FAVA BEANS WHICH IS WHY MY MOTHER NOTICED THE FALLING OVER THING.

Dog. I’m begging you- stop eating dirt!

God help me it’s better than bees though!

Spinach ahoy!

So I just straight up lost my patience yesterday. It’s been long enough for the seedlings in the greenhouse to have sprouted by now- and the one Swiss chard seedling that sprouted has died. Nope! Time for some direct sowing!

I will still need to start seedlings to replace the spinach that grows in two months or so- but I’m not using the seed starter mix or the coir pots- clearly they don’t hold onto enough moisture in a greenhouse environment. Basic cardboard pots and basic potting mix is good enough for seedlings. Lesson learned.

So I mixed the nice dank soil from the ex- pepper pot into the new spinach bed- and sowed some alrite seeds on the left, and the monstrueux de viroflay on the right.

No muss no fuss. Should have done this from the start. I’m still glad I set up the greenhouse bench- it’s definitely going to help down the road, but I’ve got to be smarter about starting seeds.

New raised bed

*slams fists on desk*

New bed! New bed! New bed!

Ok- so like a month ago the cedar raised bed kit I like went on sale and I grabbed it up knowing I was planning a few more.

It’s a pretty basic design- 4 corner pieces, 6 short pieces, 6 long pieces. There’s also 4 little caps for the tops and nails or screws to fix the little caps to the tops of the corner pieces. Now- I don’t use those. I like the idea that if I had to disassemble them I could, so I just recycle the wood caps. (And save the screws/nails, never know when you’ll need some.)

The only tool you need to put this type of raised bed together is a mallet.

Pictured: one mallet.

Now the instructions say you can do this with your hands. I call bullshit. I’ve put 4 of these types of beds together at this point- two 4×4, one 2×4 like the one I put in today, and the 2×8 that housed the beans. And because these are on the cheap side- the wood isn’t always cut exactly so… you’re gonna want a mallet.

I also recommend some kind of sturdy garden glove- because as you can see by this picture the wood is a little splinter-y. This one actually came together real easy. As I was putting it together I was thinking- huh, probably didn’t need a mallet. Another quirk of this kind of bed is-

Well the boards aren’t always totally straight. But honestly it’s going against the wall so who cares if it’s a little bulge-y. For what I’d paid… I’ll take it. I like these cedar numbers because cedar wood repels certain kinds of bugs and nasties. Just a little added help if, like me, you don’t use the big gun pesticides.

Boom!

Before I can put it together against the wall, I had to weed and level the area. At this time of year the weeds aren’t too bad, but whatever you can get rid of makes for less work down the road. I also leveled it by using a shovel and weirdly, a long handled ice scraper?!?! I found it in the shed of doom. (WTF dad, why the heck do you have a long handled ice scraper?) it honestly made for good leveling so…

In a perfect world I’d put pavers or stones down under the bed for a weed free raised bed. Instead I use weed barrier.

Completely optional. If I didn’t have a leftover roll of it- I honestly wouldn’t use it. My number one advice about weed barrier is to not use the staples some people do to fully secure the weed barrier. I did on one of the old beds I put down- and when I ripped it up, I missed a few of the staples and my dog nearly ate a few. It’s just unnecessary and it can easily become a problem.

Three bags of soil filled it- my trick is to shake some basic granulated fertilizer after the first bag- EB stones is good, but whatever works- then put the other bags down. Once my spinach sprouts it’s getting put in here!

By the way- you totally don’t have to buy a specialized raised bed like I do. You got some wood and nails? Make your own! You got a few boxes? Line it with some garbage bags and fill it with dirt! Raised beds can be complicated- or very simple.

This one is in a good slightly shaded spot perfect for spinach which isn’t the biggest fan of tons of sun.

Not that that’s a problem right now.

Pictured: my feelings about the weather.