Captain’s log: July 12th 2019

I went out this morning before work, expecting to have to water a few things.

Mother nature seems to have done that for me in the night. In July.

God I love San Francisco weather. Even when it screws me. I’ve got powdery mildew on nearly everything, and lord only knows what this will do to my tomatoes but hey, I got some nice pictures of water on my plants.

Here’s some raindrops on my corn. The corn is growing well, and corn can always use more water so I’m not very concerned at all.

My tree collard has rebounded, perhaps wrapping the roots in tin foil wasn’t so stupid, as it shows no sign of maggot infestation. It also looks pretty drenched.

It seems my succulent pot is hosting a spider convention, judging from the dewy spiderwebs. Oh well, they live in the back too.

The dill is growing well, and can use the water. So far this dill plant has been fairly successful, so my bad streak of failed dill plants has finally ended.

The sage has been a bit curious. That whole bed has been curious, as one of the newer Greek oregano’s beefed it, the blue basil in the bed isn’t doing as well as the one in the pot, and the sage is sprouting a ton of new growth from underneath, while having yellowing leaves up top.

The rain on top looks like snow, and well, maybe some extra water will be good for the bed.

It was time to water the potted tomatoes anyways so I’ll just hit them with some fertilizer tomorrow and call it a day. Too much water on the plant is only going to encourage the aphids, but if that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.

Cucumber’s are thirsty thirsty plants so while the dreaded powdery mildew might strike the leaves, the cucumbers themselves are probably thrilled. I see you little Boston pickle, you’ll get picked soon, wait your turn!

California poppies are the honey badger of flowers. They don’t give a fuck. Too much water? Fine. Not enough water? Fine. No worries here.

Alas the pea plant is a bit of a mess. The really wet fog, to say nothing of the rain, has impacted not only the leaves but the pods, with the latest harvest being covered in powdery mildew. I had to scrub it off the pods, and soak them in a slight vinegar solution before I rinsed and stored them. Still edible! But very ugly. Nothing I can do though, except take a very pretty picture of a wet pea flower.

AH San Francisco- never change.

Fixing up the front

So the front patch was looking more than a little weedy and overgrown, with the jade plants kinda taking over the place.

The solution was a little weeding- and more jade plants.

See? It needed some work. Clearing out the weeds was no problem, and then I planted my two new specimens.

I nestled my silver dollar jade next to the paddle plant against the wall.

This funny guy is supposedly a vigorous grower, so I put him closer to the curb so he can get more light. Then I just watered them with a little tappin roots and hopefully they’ll take. Maybe I’ll spring for some cactus fertilizer in a week or two to give them a boost.

Then It was just a matter of hacking back the jade plants. Poor little Aeonium, he’s not in the best of shape sandwiched between two jades. I might get some rocks to fill in the gaps. Still, it’s a better front patch then it was yesterday, so that’s nice.

Not everything has to be edible you know.

Upcoming projects or; the infinite madness of garlic chives

So A few nice plants came through the door of my local garden center, and with my employee discount, a purchase was in order. I’ll have some projects for my days off- which is how I like it.

These are jade plants. Interesting jade plants. I’ll talk more about them when they have their own post. The front of the house has been a tad neglected, and is more than a little weedy. On top of that, the succulents in the soil strip out front haven’t been taking. They’re alive, but runty.

Except for my two gigantic jade plants. My only problem with them is they’re very generic. I feel like every house in San Francisco has those two jade plants. But, clearly, that area is very favorable to jade. So jade plants it is- but that doesn’t mean they have to be typical.

I’ve also gotten two new Greek oregano. The first one I put in died- the second looks rough, I’m just not taking any chances you know?

I’ll have to make space of course.

That won’t be hard. This is the Italian oregano. It’s woody and buggy and tasteless. Makes pretty flowers, but has almost no flavor or aroma. Seriously- Greek is the way. So I’ll pull this one to make room for my two new guys and hopefully with a little TLC at least one of my now three oregano plants will survive to flavor my imminent tomatoes.

Now a quiz.

Spot any garlic chives here? In this pot of garlic chives I’ve re-sowed THREE TIMES.

See any? No? Me neither.

Are these garlic chives? I sowed some along with regular chives in the color bed, and only the regular chives came up. So most likely- not garlic chives.

Here’s an egg carton full of dirt I sowed with garlic chive seeds, and in order to give them the darkness they crave I would close the lid after watering. After all that care… Bupkis.

I’ve gone through two seed packets- for absolutely nothing.

I swear to god when the garlic chive plants came through the door at work today I cackled like an overly satisfied witch. Screw seeds! I have four goddamn plants and I am going to be lousy with garlic chives.

Nothing can stop me! I’m going to have egg drop soup with garlic chives in a month or so and it’s going to be perfect.

Seriously why is it so hard to grow garlic chives when regular chives are the easiest thing in the world.

Anyways, I have a few projects ahead of me. Which suits me just fine.

 

Captain’s log: March 9th 2019

It sprinkled off and on, but it was warmer and clearer than I expected so I sprang into action. I was hoping to see a movie this weekend, but I can always see a movie in the rain- can’t effectively garden when it’s pouring so the silver screen can wait.

I have moved the mint thunderdome and succulent pots from the former home, and now they’re elsewhere in the garden. The thunderdome got a trim- hopefully that will promote more mint growth in spring.

There’s the new home of the terra-cotta succulent pot and the little purple pot. Eventually the succulent pots will go in front of the house but thats a while off.

Why am I moving everything around?

So I can place my new fabric bed where the other pots were of course!

I really have to update the map of the garden…

It took all the soil I had left to fill it, plus mulch on top. It will be a while before my Joi Choi seedlings are big enough to be transplanted outside, but I wanted to make sure the bed was there when I needed it. This is in a semi-shaded area of the garden which doesn’t make a ton of sense for mint but makes good sense for things like Bok Choy.

They wait.

In other seedling news the greenhouse seeds seem to be doing ok, but the stems are a bit spindly. I might have to transplant the sunflowers to larger plastic pots soon- but as I used up all my soil it will have to wait. I was planning on Wednesday being the soil day for the new beds- but it looks like I’m going to have to go tomorrow first for 2-3 bags for other garden use.

In really good news it looks like the potatoes are doing well. The one on the right had some scary damaged leaves which had me anxious about blight- but it seems to have rebounded. I’m quite happy with it.

The baby romaine lettuce look amazing…

The last remaining Bok Choy looks more than a little eaten. It’s going to get eaten either today or tomorrow- but I need to get some more soil to level off the area in preparation for zucchini.

The radishes in the mixed bed have come up- but the purple peas have not. It looks like once again the over-much rain has caused the baby peas to force themselves up too early and not develop good roots.

I really want my purple snap peas.

So I’m starting some indoors!

I’m not taking any chances, I want my peas!

I’ve already harvested most of the harvestable chard- and tonight I’ll do the same to the arugula. That’s because the soil temperature in the back has finally reached bean temperature. So these plants are going to get ripped out in favor of green beans soon enough.

Swiss chard!

Speaking of harvests, I’m starting to get some great carrots when I thin.

I over-sowed a bit when I planted the carrot bed- my bad. But it’s hard to regret it when the thinnings are so delicious. That middle one is a yellow carnival blend carrot, I’m surprised it got that big.

Finally, the rosemary has decided it’s spring. It’s flowering all over, and has begun to attract the first bees. I couldn’t get a picture but the whole time I was working in the garden today I was followed around by a big fat bumble bee. That’s really good news for tomatoes later on- bumble bees are the best pollinators for tomatoes.

Wednesday is the big soil day- but tomorrow looks like it’s going to my first opportunity to get pole bean sets if they’re available this early.

Spring is coming, and I am ready for it!

Captain’s log: January 21st 2019

Got a fair amount of work done today in the sparkling sun. It’s always nice after the rain passes to just take stock of all the new growth. Or lack of growth in the case of the snow peas.

Of course it’s not all fun and games.

Yeah the tomato has grown it’s last.

Its time to pull it. Which was fun considering my lack of proper gloves. I managed to find a pair that fit me in the glove pile, but they were almost more like thin winter gloves than work gloves.

Whatever, they fit (mostly) and they worked (mostly).

Goodbye tomato plant, you will be missed!

I really need to buy a new pair of work gloves.

Onto the next project!

The weeds in the front yard were really satisfying, they all came out in one pull. There was a lot of trash underneath which was less than great- and the underlying succulents were well watered but not super healthy.

Except for this beautiful echeveria. I’m really proud of this little guy, I found it in the wreckage of the last front yard patch, the remains of a plant I put in over 5 years ago. When I discovered it, this time last year or so- it was a thick stem with one tiny centimeter diameter echeveria sticking out. I replanted it and put some cactus fertilizer and soil down, and it rewarded me by getting huge!

I’m definitely adding one more big guy to the edge to discourage littering and dog activity, but mom has vetoed my idea of a gigantic cactus.

Something about it not being “neighborly”.

Thanks mom for being all… sensible!

Pfft.

Has to prune the mystery mole pepper, the sucker stems were really taking too much out of the plant.

I should have done this months ago- but better late than never.

Pruned and re-tied the plant is a lot more handsome.

Interestingly the few baby peppers that were on the stalks I cut were not healthy, so it’s a good thing I pruned it now so the remaining peppers can grow. It’ll also mean than once the weather gets warmer more flowers will set, the plant will get taller, and hopefully I’ll get my mole peppers to eat!

The local sheriffs were in town to inspect my newly pruned pepper. That’s a good sign!

But what about the newly empty tomato pot?

I can’t plant anything that’ll take too much time to grow- new tomatoes go in late March/early April…

Sassy salad mix to the rescue!

I mean any salad mix will do. But I like this one.

There’s my pot of sexy dirt!

I might have to put some soil in my barbecue patterned pot and plant another batch of sassy salad, or maybe another area of arugula.

Speaking of arugula…

Picked some for dinner tonight!

There’s still a ton left in the ground, but maybe putting some more in a pot is a good idea, because as soon as the ground gets warm I need the back part of that patch for green beans.

It was a good day’s work!

Next job- MOWING!

Kill me now

Post-rain overview

Well It’s instructive to see what’s really benefited from the rain, and what hasn’t.

The surprise garlic like getting drenched.

The Pac Choi are growing like mad- something is chewing on them though.

The string of pearls succulent is all plump again.

And the turnips are happy campers too.

The peas still haven’t sprouted, neither has the Swiss chard in the pots. So I’m probably gonna re sow them today or tomorrow.

Other things have benefited too of course,

But that’s just par for the course after a long stretch of rain.

I have about a weeks worth of mowing to do- along with my new project of moving the bench and putting in a couple new raised beds.

Work work work!

Future project for the front yard

That’s kind of a joke- I don’t have a front yard. Honestly unless you live in one of a handful of very rich neighborhoods in San Francisco you don’t have a front yard. Even if you do live in one of the very rich neighborhoods in San Francisco you probably don’t have a yard.

The cosmic accident that is my house is funny because- the house is tiny and the back yard is huge. That’s how these lots were built in the 1940s during the post-war building boom. The expectation was either that the stay at home spouse would have ample land to tend to a kitchen garden, or that once your GI bill husband had more cash after his education landed him a better job, you’d build off of the back to get a bigger house.

Personally I think these houses were built as perpetual starter houses for small families who would move out as they grew. That was my parent’s initial plan- but then I came along and the prices of houses absolutely soared in San Francisco- making my parents realize- this house was it, and they were damn fortunate to have it. There are a few reasons I’m an only child- the house size is one of them.

This supports the kitchen garden hypothesis. What also supports that hypothesis is that this neighborhood pre WWII was almost entirely greenhouses and farmland. So it’s pretty good soil for cultivation- or it was before over half a century of drought cycles ruined it. Probably if I had the inclination (and the manure) with a little effort I could grow food out of the ground still- I’d just have to rent a rototiller and I’d waste a lot of water.

Mind you- I’m happy for how this worked out. It means I have a ton of space to garden in a large city, which a lot of people can’t have. Most people who are dedicated vegetable gardeners in San Francisco either have very small plots or pots- or they garden in a community garden. I’m very lucky to have the space I do out back.

However- there is one tiny strip of dirt in the front of my house. I call *that* the front yard. In days of yore my parents grew strawberries there. But I am not comfortable growing edible plants out front where cars and gasoline and runoff and pissing dogs etc are…

That’s where succulents come in! You can’t eat them, but they sure are pretty- and unlike flowers they don’t make you sneeze and they don’t take a ton of fertilizers to grow.

Of course- that’s also where weeds come in. As you can see from my poorly lit photo- the recent spate of rains has not spared my little tiny strip of dirt from a massive overgrowth of weeds.

(Also trash, as it’s on the street and people can be terrible)

There’s really no point to me putting in the work to pull them today, or to clean up the trash as there will just be more from the rain as it’s going to rain again tomorrow. BUT! After Sunday’s rains it’s going to abate for nearly a month. Supposedly.

Anyways it will give me the chance Monday to do a final damage assessment and get my hands dirty.

The main plants are a splendid Aeonium flanked by two Jade Plants.

One Jade Plant has leaves rather like a tube of lipstick or coral plant-

And the other’s leaves are round and flat.

It’s all very green though, which on the one hand is nice as it plays off the red painted concrete. But I did hope for more color and around the time I started this blog after my last surgeries (or perhaps a little before) I put in a few other cheap but colorful succulents to see if any would grow big and balance out the more established fellows.

Well you can see the flowering tip of an echeveria here (covered by weeds)

And here’s a beautiful but short paddle plant.

Covered by weeds.

I have some work to do on Monday then- not only weeding but trying to figure out if any of the covered succulents are likely candidates for sustained vertical growth.

I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to spring for one or two already tall succulents in a contrasting color to the omnipresent green to flank the jade plants.

Maybe another aeonium in an interesting shade?

Or just a gigantic fucking cactus closest to the street to try and discourage the absolute spatulas walking through my neighborhood from throwing their food wrappers and used napkins in front of my house and into my plants.

I might be going with a cactus.