End of Summer Garden

San Francisco being weird and all means the weather is as nice now as it has been all year, so it really still feels like summer. However, I know that for most people it is definitely autumn. Autumn in the garden to me feels like time to wrap up loose ends, cut things back, consolidate and get things into shape to survive through the winter without too much attention. Here we actually get some rainfall (and no frost) for the next few months so I can mostly ignore the outdoor plants and know they’ll be fine until spring. Since I’m not going to be going out in the garden as often, I like to tidy it up, re-pot things that need more space and chuck any plants which are past their best and not likely to recover.


This is the first, tiny strawberry I got from my 2 plants. They have given me a few more (deep red and delicious) but not really reached the point of producing a lot. Hopefully they’ll do better next year. Both plants have been plagued by spiders and something munching the leaves (maybe the spiders?) and most of the fruit on one of the plants went bad before it could ripen.


I loved the colors in this ripening strawberry but you can clearly see all the webs.



My lemon basil has been the star of the show. I planted the seeds outdoors, fairly late in the year in a pot already inhabited by my greek basil and they just grew like crazy. I gave the best sprout its own pot and you can see it’s really taken off. I’m hoping to make lots of pesto with it next year. Sadly my greek basil is not doing so well so I don’t have enough basil yet to make a new batch. I’ve moved the greek basil into a porous pot and I’m hoping that’ll be enough for it to recover over the winter. Since we don’t get frost here I think both basils should be able to survive till next year.IMG_2706

If you read my previous garden updates you’ll know that I was worried about my 3 lonely chive strands which I had to put outside early to stop my cats from chewing them. Happily you can see they’ve definitely started to spread, although they don’t want to stand up straight! I should get a few tasty meals from them soon.


My sage has never really thrived but, as you can see, is still hanging in there. I still have 2 plants because I don’t really trust either one not to die if I weed out the other. The lavender in the background is my 2nd attempt and doing much better than the first, although still growing very slowly. At least it looks happy and healthy so I think it’ll be fine.



I took loads of pictures of the varying colors the tomatoes went through as they ripened but the photos don’t really do them justice. I had several good crops of tomatoes despite not really keeping them watered enough. Next time I do think I’ll try a cherry variety though, they are supposed to do better in this climate and I imagine I could harvest several crops in the time it takes 1 beefsteak tomato to ripen! I’ll definitely put the tomatoes in much bigger pots next year, by the end of this season the root balls were so compact there didn’t really seem to be any soil left in there!IMG_2712

I know it’s not recommended to keep tomatoes from year to year because they go woody and produce less but I’ve decided to keep my best plant just to see for myself. I’ve chopped it back and its still putting out new growth. I’ve also moved it to a bigger pot and a non-porous one which I’m thinking will help me keep it watered!


I’m happy to announce that one my lemons finally turned yellow 🙂 Unfortunately, shortly after I took this photo it went missing. The perils of a shared garden I suppose! I guess I need to harvest them as soon as they’re ready.


Ever since we moved into this apartment my lemon tree has been plagued with spiders, and I mean completely covered in webs. Something is also eating the leaves and the worst affected areas eventually die. I’m not sure if it’s because of the spiders or if the spiders are eating whatever is causing the problem. Removing the webs is pretty much an impossible task because they are replaced so quickly. Luckily the plant seems to be surviving anyway so I’m not too worried yet. If you have any suggestions, though, I’d love to hear them!


As soon as October hit the garden suddenly filled up with these guys making huge webs across the paths. I enjoyed watching one from my window for a few days as it repositioned its web each morning but it did also stop me from going out into the garden for a few days! In the UK I knew that being scared of spiders was stupid because they couldn’t hurt me. Here I’m not so sure! I think I might need to learn a few common, garden species of spider so I know which ones to watch out for.


What is it about mint here? Where you find pre-potted herbs you hardly ever find mint alongside them, nor do they crop up much in seed racks. When my old spearmint turned black I decided it was time to get the peppermint I actually wanted so I ordered some seeds online. While I was browsing chocolate mint caught my eye so I picked that up too. Now I have these tiny tiny seedlings to show for them both and I’ll put them outside when they’ve grown a bit bigger. Mint’s pretty tough so I’m sure they’ll be ok to go out at any time of year.

I’ve also got some blackcurrant seeds stratifying in the fridge. I’ve never stratified seeds before (didn’t even know what it was until I looked up instructions on growing blackcurrant from seed) but blackcurrant is another thing that’s hard to find here so I’m determined to grow my own bush. I know it’s going to be tricky because it’s a bit too warm here but I have a nice north-facing spot in a courtyard in mind and I know blackcurrant does do ok in a pot so fingers crossed!

What do you do to prepare your garden for winter?


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