The glory of weeds

We had some sun showers today but it was otherwise bright and sunny- perfect for some work, and for taking stock of how much the weeds have been growing.

But that’s not such a bad thing, even though I will be mowing tomorrow.

See those little flowers, the purple and the white? They’re all over the garden.

There are those awful oxalis of course, but also those little blue flowers that look like forget-me-nots speckled throughout the garden.

My favorite of the flowering weeds are these red guys. They’re in front of my back beds and while I’ll be mowing the others, I’m not going to pull these. The bees will thank me I’m sure. See that’s the thing about these native weeds, they feed the native bees! So while I mow and keep things level when I can, I don’t tear these guys out by the root.

Of course, there’s also the edible weeds!

See those round weeds? That’s miner’s lettuce! Supposedly a favorite of the miner 49ers during the gold rush, it’s a native Californian plant that I used to eat on hikes when I was younger and backpacked. I fully plan to snack on these tomorrow when I mow everything else! And hey maybe they’ll grow back!

Then I can eat more miner’s lettuce!

I really like miner’s lettuce.

Captain’s log: February 21st 2019

Today was a busy day. Actually a busy couple of days, but that’s not important.

A lot of what I’ve been doing is watering now that we’ve had some clear weather- it’s sunny but cool. Heat evaporates water in the soil, but the chief evaporator is the sun- so even though it’s not even above 55 most days- I’ve had to water a fair amount last couple of days.

Part of that of course is the plants I’ve been putting in- new transplants need water no matter the weather. Both the mints and the chervil seems to be doing well- but so are the herbs I put in last month which is a sigh of relief.

Here’s my pretty Italian oregano which took pretty much immediately. All the herbs are growing well.

Today when I got outside to start work- I had a visitor.

He or she is a local kitty, I think one of the ones born last year, and this one and their siblings keep taking vacations into my garden. I’m pretty sure this is the one who put his paws in my arugula pot- and here you can see them hard at work looking at a vole hole. The minute he saw me he went “?!!!!” And sprang backwards over the fence in fear. Entertainingly he kept coming back to keep tabs on my work.

In local news outside of my garden- here’s the toll of the wind and rain, a tree got knocked over in my local park and crashed through the fence. Which illustrates how nutso the weather was, and will be. Its clear for now, but my wish of a longer spell of dry weather has not been answered- it looks like scattered showers or worse are in San Francisco’s future. Hopefully no more downed trees will follow.

I pulled the purple Bok Choy, which for whatever reason had totally passed from edible to stringy stalks- so the Joi Choi can survive until I can eat them. And I will be eating them- they are delicious. Into the compost bin with the non leafy Bok Choy’s!

And look at those lettuces! I am a total convert to the temple of raising lettuce from seed.

And speaking of seeds…

I started several seeds in little seedling pots. Specifically I started 6 sunflower seeds, 6 romanesco broccoli, 6 cucumbers, (3 telegraph 3 Boston pickle) 6 zucchini (3 Nimba 3 green bush) and 6 lipstick peppers. They are all living inside for the moment- as I don’t trust the wind and temperature outside. I used regular potting soil mixed with a little sure start, as I tried some seed starter mix and it was so damn light it wouldn’t take water. Potting soil is better.

Once these sprout it’s off to the greenhouse bench with them! But that will be several weeks from now.

The spinach bed has been overgrown and weedy for too long, so I pulled the spinach and amended the soil so I could plant by seed.

A back row of purple snap peas, a row of radishes, a zig zag row of mustard greens, and a final front row of green onions, since only a few of the green onions I planted in the big 4×4 bed have sprouted.

Now that’s some sexy dirt. We’ll see what takes in the temperature and upcoming wet, but that’s why I’m starting with peas that have a lot less stringent temperature requirements than beans.

Of course I was being spied on while I worked….

Spooky! Kitty kept coming back as I worked and then fleeing as soon as I turned to coo at it.

I wish no one in the house was allergic, otherwise I’d try to befriend the poor feral. But me and mom would need hospitalization after being close to a house cat so it is what it is. At least kitty and his siblings take care of the rats.

The turnips are starting to look really pretty in the evening sun. Turnips never fail me.

Speaking of the infallible, look at that thyme! Both plants, big leaf and French growing huge after all that rain. Thyme is like mint in that it should probably be in a pot- but it’s less of a wanderer than mint so you can take a chance on it. It’s definitely more thyme than I can eat, but it’s pretty and it smells good so who cares!

And look at that sage! It’s throwing up new leaves! Finally! It looks like it took a rainfall to finally wake up the herb but now it’s going to do nothing but grow. That’s a nice feeling.

Finally the arugula. It’s basically growing wild which is to be expected when you sow it as thickly as I did. The problem with that is the absolute thicket of oxalis growing underneath it. Pulling all that oxalis without seriously damaging the arugula would be almost impossible so I’ve just given up for now. In a month or less I have to pull up almost everything in this bed so I can plant the back with pole beans so IDK the weeds are going to get it- just not anytime soon.

The most amazing thing happened today- but I couldn’t get a photo of it, no matter how hard I tried. I saw the first bumble bee of 2019! It’s late February but as far as I’m concerned spring has sprung because traveling around the mowed weeds was the fattest little bumble butt. Fuzzy and black with yellow trim, buzzing around looking for flowers, I dropped everything to follow her around but I was sadly unsuccessful in snapping a pic. But she was here! The first bee of the year!

It’s gonna be a good year.

The bees have arrived!

Mowing adventures

Between hefting a pot and plants on two buses yesterday and pushing a mower through thick weeds today- I’m definitely getting my exercise.

Besides the usual moving pots and bags and benches to get at the grass and weeds, there was also a lot of hand pulling to do, because certain weeds get really woody with time and rain, and the mower just can’t do it.

I did a pretty good job in most of the beds, moving things around and just getting on with it. There was one major problem though.

This- is mint. Growing completely feral behind the sunny herb patch. This is mint of a species I have not planted in 4 years.

Oh man you just cannot kill this stuff! I’m both mad and in awe!

I can’t kill it- but it can kill my mower.

The culprit: a clump of mint root.

The victim:

Man down!

Luckily my push mower is pretty basic and cleaning the blades was fairly simple. So crisis averted- but I’m not making the mistake of mowing mint again.

(Mint. Goes. In. Pots!!!)

All in all it was a good afternoon’s work.

Look, the greenhouse bench is no longer on a thicket!

I still have more work to do today- I have to plant the chervil and mint (in. Pots.) but I’m taking a break right now- I’m really tired!

Captain’s log: February 10th 2019

Today was clear and cool. Very cool, under 50 degrees. One of those things that made me glad the only warm weather plant out back was my wonderful pepper, which will be the subject of another post.

Everything was so well watered from the heavens opening up I didn’t have to do anything except take pictures of beautiful plants.

The amazing surprise garlic is just thriving in the wet. Which is good data to have if I grow garlic this year intentionally- maybe time it in order to take advantage of the winter rains.

In other allium news- the baby leeks are growing well. I mean I assume as much, as I have zero experience growing leeks. It’s interesting how much the baby leeks look like the baby green onions and baby chives. The chives of course stayed little, the green onions will hopefully get bigger than chives, and the leeks will hopefully get even bigger than that.

Alliums!

There seems to be a distinct winner in the battle that is mint thunderdome. After a while where the mint plants were bare twigs the Roman mint has joyfully rebounded into leaf. There are some scattered growth from the orange and chocolate mints- but Roman mint is the clear winner of the thunderdome.

The hyssop has also responded well to the deluge- turning bushy and thick. Not sure if I’ll ever use this herb culinarily but it smells real nice and flowers are good for the bees in the summer.

I swear I could fill this blog to the brim with just glamor shots of turnips. They’re so lovely and green but with yellow touches- and I love their leaf pattern.

Arugula! So much arugula! I just picked some and it’s almost all grown back which is nice. It’s also super weedy. The plants grew together because I sowed the seed rather thickly- which with arugula you can totally get away with. But it is problematic when it comes time to weed. I have to get in there, but I only had a little time outside today, and we have another straight week of rain coming.

The dill is growing so well- which is wonderful considering how long it took me to realize that dill was a seed herb not a transplant herb. It’ll probably be another month before I can pick some for pickling though.

Why… why is the rosemary flowering in February? I’m not upset- just confused.

Might as well make lemonade with rosemary flower lemons!

That’s… a weird metaphor I apologize.

What I mean is that I picked some of the flowery rosemary and some Mitsuba and made a bouquet for my lemon pitcher. It’s a nice table decoration that won’t make me sneeze like real flowers will. It also, as my dad might say, stinks the house up real pretty.

Here’s to rainy days!

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!

Not so idle Tuesday

I don’t know what’s giving me so much energy but it’s a shame to waste it.

Now that the rains are done for a while- it was time to mow!

I’ll still have to hand pull the weeds in the corners and such, but the push mower is more than good enough for most of the work.

Moving all the pots to one side to mow under them was a lot of work, but weeds and grass can be bug reservoirs so it’s important to keep everything trim.

They can also be vole reservoirs, especially if everything’s so overgrown the mice and other little backyard friends can run wild.

I even moved the greenhouse to mow underneath it- but that wasn’t too difficult.

Then I turned my attention to the barbecue pot.

That’s what this style of pottery glaze is called. I can dig it.

It’s eventual fate is to house a tomato plant- but it’s gonna be while before I can put one in. Conversely- I can’t plant anything with too long of a time to harvest, because come April it’s tomato time.

The solution is always greens.

In this case the Rocket Salad arugula. I love arugula and I’ll have to pull out some of the back arugula for green beans come March, so why not more!

I had a brief thought for some micro greens.

If I let them get huge, would they be macro micro greens?

A possibility (and philosophical question) for another time.

Ah the happiest of sights (and smells) fresh dirt!

As you can see there needs to be some hand pulling of weeds- but that’s another day’s work- I’m pooped!

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!