Cauliflower woes

I had to pull another cauliflower today- and yeah, maggots on the roots. The plant came up really quickly too- like it was barely alive.

And that’s not even the only bug on the plants.

Ah good old cabbage moth. Or cabbage moth caterpillar anyways. They’re hard to see most of the time- this was the first one I managed to kill this year.

It gets worse.

In the folds of the leaves were an absolute mountain of aphids. I smushed what I could- and I’ll spray some horticultural oil in the morning.

Honestly after pulling the weakest one, I thought I’d just pull them all, and just chalk it up, maybe sow some spaghetti squash.

Only… the largest cauliflowers weren’t so weak rooted. A light tug was all it took to uproot the dying ones, but the big boys are firmly rooted.

I’m not stupid, I know there has to be maggots on these roots too- but maybe the neem oil pours I did last week worked in reducing their numbers? One or two maggots don’t hurt the plant- a zillion do. I just pulled a few of the Bok Choy for tonight’s supper and there was one maggot between them. So they’re around but not causing too many problems, except what they did to my turnips and what they’re doing to my cauliflowers.

I’m hoping with all the other cabbage family crops in the garden that this is the worst of it.

But they remaining cauliflowers do look good- if buggy.

Now the problem is… it’s going to rain again. Which might bring out more flies and more maggots.

Ah San Francisco. Growing things here is so tricky sometimes.

Making hay while the sun shines, or planting while I’m not being rained on

It’s super sunny today. Which is super weird, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth- it’s time to work.

Look at those blue skies! It was incredible. I suppose spring has sprung. I posted earlier about my seedling disaster/adventures, but I had more work to do then just that.

Before I could even re-pot the seedlings I had to haul in the soil I got yesterday. It started raining so while it was dry enough for me to go to the garden center- it was wet enough for me to abandon the soil to the trunk of the car overnight because I didn’t want to get poured on.

Also gotten at the garden center yesterday was a packet of garlic chive seeds. I… love these and I’ve never seen seeds for them so I’m super happy I can grow them for myself now.

Boom. Garlic chive pot. It’s in the position for some sun, around where I put most of my full sun pot herbs. Such as my dill.

Look at that fab dill! Looks nice in the sun for sure.

Considering the break in the rain I also gambled on some early green beans.

These were my favorites from last year. I sowed 8 or so in the back bed behind the turnips.

I’m hoping they’ll take- the soil temperature is warm enough- these will be my early green beans if they sprout.

The salad greens in the old tomato pot are finally growing well- be a while to harvest of course and only a few seeds took- but I’ll get at least one salad before I put a tomato in for May.

Now here’s a mystery. There is some kind of funny mushroom/fungal fruiting body growing amongst my Swiss chard. It has a texture like pebbles. No doubt it’s growing because of all the rain- I’ll just have to rip it out when I rip out the chard.

I picked a few small carrots but the main harvest was this last big Joi Choi. The outer leaves went right to the compost pile, they were super slug eaten, but it was still a lot of Bok Choy for eating. I’m hoping it really is clear for a week plus- if it isn’t I’ll have to move the seedlings and maybe the garlic chive pot indoors for a bit.

There was some fun and games with a rogue earwig that hitchhiked inside on the Choy but I’m still trying to forget that.

I have a lot of weeding to do this week- got to take advantage of the dry weather. It’s probably gonna rain again late March and sprinkle into April, but hopefully it will be sprinkles not absolute pouring driving rain.

Spring seems to be here!

Too much rain!

I hesitate to even say that. It’s too close to a jinx. After years and years of dry or barely wet winters, drought after drought, it seems… unseemly to complain about rain.

But oh god I am sick of it. It’s clear today, but it’ll start up again tomorrow, and my poor plants are getting hammered.

I’ve never grown a lemon grass plant before so I don’t know for sure- but I’m pretty sure this is not the best sign. The plant is too tall to stash in the mini-greenhouse so out it sits- getting overwatered.

The Mitsuba is yellowing a bit- which will become a recurring theme. As a woodland plant, it doesn’t mind the rain- but like a lot of the plants in the back- it needs some fertilizer. All the rain is washing away the nitrogen from the soil. So yellow plants.

Even the hardy parsley looks a little wilted. Luckily fixing a parsley plant on the fritz is pretty easy- light fertilize, cut away the yellow leaves, harvest the good leaves so new growth can form. Not sure how to do that with the lemon grass.

Honestly though? The lemon grass was planted for one reason and one reason only: it repels mosquitoes. So since I’m not really using it culinarily, if this one is just dead from rain I’ll just plant another one to ward off the wee bloodsuckers.

And maybe I’ll look up how to harvest and use fresh lemon grass because I do like the flavor.

Lemon balm is also supposed to ward off mosquitoes, and it also makes very nice tea. It seems to have developed spots on its top leaves, though the bottom growth is coming on fine. It’s a mint so my strategy is to leave it alone. Mint will figure itself out!

Mint always wins.

Ah cilantro. Also getting spotty- but the spots seems to be a cosmetic blemish as the leaves taste as good as they always do. It also needs a light fertilize like the parsley, but the center growth is pretty good so I’m not going to fiddle with it much.

The poor pepper plant looks positively pathetic. What it needs is some sun and time to dry out- what it’s getting is a deluge. The wind keeps knocking it out of its ties, so I keep having to go out and re-tie it. I was really hoping my pepper would last til summer and start growing again, but I’ll be surprised if it survives the month.

Oh well.

In better news, the bees are starting to appear! This is a bumble bee who got caught out in the rain a few days ago, poor girl, and wisely decided to take a load off under the sheltering leaf of my sorrel plant. Smart bee! Wet bee!

It’s not the first bee of 2019 but it’s the first bee I’ve been able to photograph. Gonna have to start fixing the bee house for little miss bumble’s mason cousins.

Squarely in the “loving it” category are both my new potted mints. I was worried about transplant shock but they clearly weren’t. New growth already and they smell fantastic. If only all my plants were as water loving as mint.

Finally- the last Bok Choy’s are in line to get eaten this coming week and they look amazing. A little slug eaten ok, but with this much rain it was inevitable. I have a small fabric bed coming in which I think I shall plant solely with Joi Choi- it’s a really good producer that doesn’t bolt in the heat like the purple type did. I finally figured that out- we had like two hot days in January that messed up the plants. Considering how variable San Francisco weather is, I’m not going to plant any variety that’s that sensitive to changes in temperature. But how can you learn these things except by experimenting? Lesson learned.

Here’s to March!

More winter work

Wasn’t planning on doing anything today garden-wise, but we’ve had a break in the rain. It’ll be scattered showers the next few weeks, but today was clear and cold.

In bizarre news there was snow in the Bay Area last night and today Mt. Tam and Mt. Diablo got coated in the white stuff- and even more bizarre there were reports of light snow on twin peaks. You know- in San Francisco!

Ha ha ha holy crap.

No snow in my neck of the woods… yet.

Maybe is a good thing I refrained from putting in some early green beans.

So, the new pots are in their new home!

I have to weed around everything, but I think I’ll drag out the weed whacker for around the pots instead of moving everything for the mower.

In more organizational news I finally tackled the ugly pile of gloves and got rid of the old and torn work gloves, and put my new work gloves on top (thanks for the new gloves mom!)

In order to make sure I don’t throw out two lefts like last time…

Yeah. I’m labeling everything. Everything.

My last labeling failure was the mystery mole pepper, which was labeled without a proper weather-proof marker so it faded.

But my research has panned out!

The mystery mole pepper is in fact a “Chilhuacle Negro”.

I still have to do more digging on the proper care of this guy, but the good news is that the green peppers turning brown is normal for this variety.

The size probably isn’t, so since I already pruned him down a bit, I’m thinking I’m gonna have to cut the last sucker stems and pick the undersize peppers so that in a few months he can put out flowers again.

I’m proud of my resilient pepper, but I have to do more research on how to care for him.

I had some bench moving to do as well.

The bench which has so far survived wood chipper-ing is now living here-

Because it’s former spot will soon become another bed. Lugging the mower up there should be fun for sure, but that’s a problem for tomorrow’s Neanderthal.

Finally, I planted the oregano.

The hardest bit of this was ripping out the old one which had gotten really shabby and shrubby and woody and took gloves and tools for me to finally rip from the soil. But the new guy looks at home with new mulch and a zesty smell.

Tomorrow the new beds come in, we’ll see if I have the energy to set them up tomorrow or if tomorrow is just mowing day.

Nobody can say I’m not getting my exercise!

More rain causalities

It’s just been absolutely storming. Wind, rain, we had a hail advisory but the actual hail never materialized- thankfully.

Unfortunately there have been some casualties.

As you can see, the tomato plant is not liking how wet it’s gotten. The mystery pepper plant is also dripping and unhappy, but I still think that plant is salvageable.

I just need a couple more days for the last tomatoes to ripen- but the plant is definitely on its last legs.

I mean look at the vines just moldering away. All the umbrellas in the world couldn’t stop this.

Something is eating my Pac Choi a little bit- so I put down some sluggo. Honestly any kind of leafy cabbage is going to be nibbled a bit so it really doesn’t bother me.

What does bother me is that two of my pea seeds seem to have commutes suicide in the heavy rain.

The force of the rain has driven the seeds out of the soil. Now these are only two of about 7 seeds I planted so hopefully the others will come up- but yeah, it’s a little upsetting. I was having problems with the green onions growing funny, and enough did come up that I’m not worried, but I’m going to wait til the rain is gone before I sow more green onion seeds.

Luckily all my leafy greens don’t give a shit about the rain, and I have more arugula then I know what to do with.

(That is a lie. I know exactly what to do with arugula- shove it into my mouth with great gusto. I fucking love arugula)

Overall the herbs are liking the rain, with the exception of the potted tarragon plant which was on its way out before the downpour anyways so there’s very little I could do about that.

The purple sage looks real rough though.

I don’t think it’s going to die- it’s just waterlogged. Sage is pretty resilient as far as herbs go, the berggarten sage is just soaking up the wet. But the berggarten sage was well established, and the purple sage was new- that’s the real difference.

Luckily for me, and the continued health of my plants, after Sunday the rains should stop for a month. Gives me time to plan for spring and undo some of the damage the rains have done.

So it’s going to be a while before I can do anything out back.

It’s nice to read inside and listen to the rain though. We’ve had such a history of bad drought in California these last few years that even though this amount of rain is not great for me personally, I’m really glad we’re having this amount of rain. It’s good for the health of the state.

Even if it’s not the greatest for the health of the garden.

Captain’s log: December 31st 2018

Well. Last captain’s log of 2018. That’s something.

The weather here in not-so-sunny California is dry, bright and windy.

So. SO. Windy.

The back trash can got blown about 20 feet away from where it’s supposed to be, and separated itself from it’s lid.

It’s kinda hard impossible to photograph wind, but sad trash can comes close.

This happened last night, and boy trying to sleep last night was hard, the wind was howling and howling and howling.

Luckily the only thing knocked over was a trash can.

I was slightly worried my Gerry-rigged tomato setup would get blown over, but it’s hanging in there, and the little tomatoes are continuing to ripen.

The Mystery Mole peppers are continuing to grow, which is nice, even if I have no idea what they are supposed to look or taste like.

The seed packet I ordered came in, so I planted some peas that are (hopefully) not dead.

And the turnips in front of the peas are doing nicely.

Snow peas are the perfect winter veggie, they love the cold, and they’re a legume so they grow super easy and with little extra work.

I’m not sure the basil is going to survive the winter sadly. African Blue Bush Basil can become a perennial in this area, but it’s a coin toss. Basically it just has to survive one winter and then you’ll have it for 7-8 years if you’re lucky. It’s looking like I’m not lucky.

This entire herb bed has been weird. The Hyssop and savory are gold, the oregano is acting all weird, and the purple sage looks perpetually sad, but alive. The regular sage seems to have rebounded though, so there’s that.

In far better news, the dill has sprouted! Was worried about it, but hopefully dill from seed is heartier than dill from plant.

The lemon balm I perhaps foolishly planted in the main herb patch is doing it’s minty thing, which means I’m expecting a takeover. This herb bed is where the tarragon pot lives, and that plant is doing kinda not great. Maybe I should have bit the bullet and just put the plant in the ground, root takeover be damned. Oh well.

The Pac Choi look fantastic though.

Happy New Year to all, and here’s to all your gardens growing well in 2019, both actual and metaphorical.

See you next year!

Captain’s log: December 21st 2018

I hope everyone is having a good solstice. This year certainly was… interesting. I have a few surprise additions for the garden coming up- but the timing isn’t right yet so it might be a week before I put them out.

But all the lovely seedlings are sprouting.

Those little green stalks are baby green onions. They took their time to sprout but I knew they’d come through. Funnily enough, either because of the torrents of rain or just the unbridled enthusiasm of onions- several of these little guys totally escaped the soil, as if they overshot in their vigor. Oh well. I sowed a ton of them, and in a month when it’s more clear who survived I can always sow more.

Now the pea seeds may in fact have been too old, as the have not sprouted which is a surprise because legumes are usually the first arrival- but the turnips have sprouted. It goes without saying I’ll have to thin them- but it’s nice to have a plant you can rely on, and you can always rely on a turnip.

Speaking of cabbages and reliability, every Pac Choi I’ve put in is thriving. Some are definitely bigger than others, but that just means I can stagger eating them. It’s always nice to have a cabbage in the back ready to pick- though if I had to guess it’ll probably be 3 weeks to a month before the largest of these is ready to harvest. Maybe a little longer.

The Swiss chard has gotten a second wind along with the spinach:

It’s amazing what a good drenching and cool weather will do for your leafy greens. Now I definitely have some work to do trimming and weeding (to say nothing of the pepper conundrum) but I think I’ll harvest some spinach this weekend and go from there.

I was worried that my various succulent pots would drown in the rain, but all seems to be well. This particular aeonium is loving it- it’s growing over the jade plant in its pot. Both are cuttings from larger plants that live in a tiny strip of dirt in front of my house- those mother plants are also loving the rain.

Reminds me I have to weed the front patch too.

Yet another of the tomatoes is becoming ripe which makes me very happy indeed.

What really makes me happy though…

Life has officially given me lemons. This tree in the back is ancient and wise and it just… is. We don’t do much with it- it needs a prune but I’m terrified I’d somehow hurt it so I just leave it alone. In return every winter and spring it gives us its bounty- oceans of lemons.

It’s officially green season in San Francisco!