Sunday, January 30, 2022

The Garden Report: January of 2022

The oxalis comes in fast and green in January, especially when we've had rain like we had this autumn. I pull it out of the gravel paved stairs, from behind the compost bins, through winter-sad lavender branches. If I don't catch it in time, it starts to bloom, and even though Oxalis pes-caprae doesn't set seed, it sets corms along the root as the plant reaches bloom size. The more corms it sets, the more of it I'll have to pull out next year. 

On the other side of the oxalis spectrum, sweet candy-cane blossoms of Oxalis versicolor are blooming in the alpine tub right now. Also in the alpine tub, Iris reticulata spreads its blue carpet. First, a single spectacular blossom, as January progresses, the blue gets bigger.

Oxalis versicolor.
Iris reticulata blooming in the alpine tub.

Also blooming are narcissus, a single-out of season Anastasia passion flower, and a surprise Cyclamen coum. I have several patches of Cyclamen hederifolium that bloom in the fall and put up their tapestry of intracately patterned leaves in the winter to stand through the spring and early summer. Since they had grown well for me, I wanted to try another species cyclamen, so three years ago, I planted Cyclamen coum corms—fifteen of them, if I remember correctly. No leaves ever sprouted. Nothing happened until this week, when a single leaf and flower appeared where I had planted them so long ago.

Passiflora "Anastasia."
Cyclamen coum.

A few early honeywort have just started to curl upwards with their purple bells against glacous foliage.

Blue honeywort.

This January, like the last few Januaries, we have leafy greens, luxurious as green velvet. Miners lettuce is everywhere, so much so that if it isn't pretty enough to eat, I drop it in one of our composters rather than sifting through it. The bitter greens—escarole, frisée, sugarloaf chicory—that I planted in the fall are still coming in, the kale is sweet, chard at its best, and purple collards at their sweetest. It is a good time to be a salad eater. In this month, I try to clear out a lot of the greens before they bolt with spring weather, and I start prepping the veg beds for spring and summer vegetables. Where there was a line of frisee, I planted parsley and cilantro seeds mid-month. I also started my year's peppers.

Diva escarole.

Dazzling blue kale.

At the beginning of this month, I pruned my fruit trees. Mid-month, I sprayed them with horticultural oil and the tiniest bit of copper to gird them against pests and disease. It's the only spray they will get other than a little bit of soap for critters or diatomaceous earth for pear slugs later in the season.

For the first time in this San Francisco garden, I'm trying to grow bulb onions. Over the Martin Luther King, Jr holiday weekend, I planted the seedlings, Candy and Red Candy Apple, that I purchased from Dixondale. Though I've never grown bulb onions in San Francisco, I've had a lot of luck with green onions, and the best bulb onions I have ever grown were for a client in San Carlos, not too far away. In her garden, I planted a ton of Red Candy Apple onions from Dixondale, and they grew fat, sweet, and succulent. We grew so many onions, her husband asked what to do with them all. Make magic, I thought to myself. Magic is what happens when onions join heat and fat in a pan.

The largest bed of onions. The twigs are there to keep the cats and other critters from digging in the bed as the seedlings are getting established. Purple sprouting broccoli in the background.

At the very end of January, I planted a ring of Oregon Giant snow peas, using the circumference of a cylindrical trellis as a guide. I watered them in, sprinkled diatomaceous earth generously over the surface to provide a little protection against slugs and sowbugs, and wrapped the whole trellis with a layer of ag fabric to keep the birds from pulling up the seedlings as they sprout. I also threw some annual flower seed around in flower beds to see what takes.

First pea planting of the year.
Sweet Tsuki guards against rodents. Here, she sits on a composter. 

Working in January means harvesting in June.

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