Thoughts on the 2021 Philadelphia Primary

Well, it’s primary season again here in Philadelphia. Now, you may be thinking, didn’t we just do this? Yes, we did. But there’s a whole new slate of positions and things to vote on:

  • State and Local Judges
  • District Attorney
  • City Controller
  • Ballot Questions

Voter Eligibility and Registration

If you’re eligible to vote in Pennsylvania, but haven’t already registered, you have until May 5th to register to vote in the primary. You have to register by May 5th to vote in the primary, which is on May 18th. You can also sign up to vote by mail, but you must do so by May 11th. Finally, for the primary, Philadelphia has 14 drop box locations, in case you’re worried the mail won’t deliver your ballot in time.

In Pennsylvania, you have to be registered with a party to vote for judges, district attorney, and city controller. However, anyone in Pennsylvania can vote on the ballot questions. So, if you’re registered to vote, but not with a particular party, feel free to jump down to the ballot questions. If you’re registered as a Democrat, read on. If you’re registered as a Republican… I’m not entirely sure what you’re doing here, but welcome! I’ll only be talking about the Democratic Candidates though. 

Leo is here to provide emotional support.

Democratic Judicial and Local Candidates

The following positions are presented in the order they’ll most likely appear on the ballots. I based my decisions mainly on the endorsements of the PA Working Families Party and Reclaim Philadelphia and the Judge Accountability Table. 

The following indicate which of the organizations endorsed them. 
* = PA Working Families Party
= Reclaim Philadelphia/Judge Accountability Table

PA Supreme Court (Only one Democrat candidate)
Maria McLaughlin*

Superior Court (Allowed to vote for 1)
Timika Lane*

Commonwealth Court (Allowed to vote for up to 2)
Lori Dumas*

Court of Common Pleas (Allowed to vote for up to 8)
Caroline Turner*
Wendi Barish*
Cateria McCabe*
Nick Kamau
Dan Sulman
Betsy Wahl*
Michele Hangley*
Chris Hall*

Municipal Court (Allowed to vote for up to 3)
Michael Lambert*
Greg Yorgey-Girdy*

District Attorney (Allowed to vote for 1)
Larry Krasner
(I’m not thrilled with Krasner, but his opponent, Vega, is running as a “law and order” candidate who wants more to bring more drug-related cases to trial. I suspect Vega’s policies will end up being disproportionately burdensome on Black and brown communities.)

City Controller (Only one candidate)
Rebecca Rhynhart

Ballot questions

There are five ballot questions, accompanied by my thoughts on them. The Philadelphia Citizen Guide has much more information about each of the ballot questions. https://thephiladelphiacitizen.org/voter-guide-pa-primary-2021/#ballot-measures

Disclaimer: I had a lot more time to think about the first 3 questions than the last two. 

Q1 – Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law and increase the power of the General Assembly to unilaterally terminate or extend a disaster emergency declaration—and the powers of Commonwealth agencies to address the disaster regardless of its severity pursuant to that declaration—through passing a concurrent resolution by simple majority, thereby removing the existing check and balance of presenting a resolution to the Governor for approval or disapproval?

My thoughts: No – This seems like a Republican reaction to state mask mandates and COVID emergency declarations.

Q2 – Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to change existing law so that: a disaster emergency declaration will expire automatically after 21 days, regardless of the severity of the emergency, unless the General Assembly takes action to extend the disaster emergency; the Governor may not declare a new disaster emergency to respond to the dangers facing the Commonwealth unless the General Assembly passes a concurrent resolution; the General Assembly enacts new laws for disaster management?

My thoughts: No – This seems like a Republican reaction to state mask mandates and COVID emergency declarations.

Q3 – Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended by adding a new section providing that equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged because of an individual’s race or ethnicity?

My thoughts: Yes – Having equal rights matters.

Q4 – Do you favor expanding the use of the indebtedness authorized under the referendum for loans to volunteer fire companies, volunteer ambulance services and volunteer rescue squads under 35 PA.C.S. §7378.1 (related to referendum for additional indebtedness) to include loans to municipal fire departments or companies that provide services through paid personnel and emergency medical services companies for the purpose of establishing and modernizing facilities to house apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, and for purchasing apparatus equipment, ambulances and rescue vehicles, protective and communications equipment and any other accessory equipment necessary for the proper performance of the duties of the fire companies and emergency medical services companies?

My thoughts: Yes – This expands which fire companies and ambulance services to apply for loans from the state in order to upgrade equipment, which seems important.

Q5 – Shall The Philadelphia Home Rule Charter be amended to provide for an expanded Board of License Inspection Review that can hear and decide cases in three-member panels?

My thoughts: Yes – This seems like it would speed up these reviews.

More Garden Experiments

Spring is here, and my sargent cherry tree is in bloom. I felt like it was late to bloom this year, but for the last few years, I’ve kept notes. It bloomed two days earlier this year than it did in 2019, though about 2 and a half weeks later than it did in 2020 (which was unusually warm). The tree is mainly ornamental. I’m told that it can bear fruit, but that it’s only worth eating if you’re a bird.

I’ve had some limited success with my seed starting. I now have 1 okra plant that’s doing well, 3 baby tomato plants (2 sungold and 1 black cherry), and 1 buena mulata pepper seedling. In total, I had 3 okra seedlings germinate, but 2 had issues with the seed coat staying stuck on. That’s definitely something I’d like to learn how to manage better in the future. The flower seeds didn’t germinate at all, and I’m not sure if the petit marseillais peppers will germinate either.

I decided to experiment and also tried getting some okra and pepper to germinate using wet paper towels inside a plastic bag. So far, this got a few okra seedlings to crack open their seed coats. At that point, I put the seedlings into some potting soil, but they don’t seem to be doing anything more.

I have to say, though, that I am not known for my patience. That fact is only reinforced as I check my notes from previous years and realize that, last year, many of my plants returned from dormancy later than I remember.

Hoping to get some more seedlings, I put some seeds in plastic baggies with some wet paper towels.

When my vegetables are eventually ready to go outside, and assuming I don’t mess up with acclimating them to the outdoors, there’s a new raised bed waiting for them. I decided to go with a bed made of grow bag material over a PVC frame. I’ve filled it with Pittmoss, which I’m using despite the compression issues I’ve seen with it, because it was the easiest for me to get in bulk.

I’m planning to grow okra, peppers, chard, and dill in it. So far, the only thing that I’ve planted in it are and some okra seeds under a plastic cover and some chard seeds. No germination yet, but it’s still early. I don’t think I’ll get okra but it seemed worth a try as I had enough seeds and I’ve heard okra seeds don’t keep well beyond the first year.

We’ve had several days of warm weather this month, and I’ve taken advantage of them to work on the rest of the patio garden. Most of what I’ve done is cleaning up the old and dead stems and leaves from the perennials, pulling up last year’s annuals, and adding some plant supports to a few perennials that seem prone to flopping.

I also re-potted the Amsonia Blue Ice and Russian sage, both of which had been planted in Pittmoss that had compressed quite a bit. Now, both plants are in pots with a mix of Pittmoss and either coir or peat based potting mix. Unfortunately it turns out that re-potting plants that are in large pots is difficult, but I’m hopeful that both will recover from the experience and flourish in their new potting media. Interestingly, the pot with the Russian sage was full of (good) worms. (The worms often come in with the compost.) Most of the time, the worms don’t stay in the pots.

If you’re interested in a mini garden tour, see the video below.

Garden Tour: March 23, 2021.

Adventures in Seed Starting

This year, I’ll be trying to grow 3 types of food plants I’ve never grown before: okra, peppers, and tomatoes. All 3 need to be started indoors to get a head start on the growing season, so you either have to start them from seed yourself or buy starts from a nursery. Being a glutton for punishment, I’ve decided to try starting them indoors from seeds.

In addition to the vegetables listed above, I’ve also decided to start some cosmos and some bee balm as well. I’ve never grown bee balm before, so this is another experiment for the year. As for the cosmos, in the past, I’ve just scattered the seeds directly onto the soil where I wanted them to grow. I haven’t had the best of luck with this method, though, so this year, I’m going to try to baby the along for a bit before planting them outside.

A brief note: I’ll be mentioning some specific products in this post, but it’s not a sponsored post and I purchased everything I’m posting about.

7 seed packets are arranged on a white table.
The seeds I’m starting indoors this year.

Most of the seeds I’m growing are heirlooms:

  • Evertender Okra, from Southern Exposure Seeds, originally from India
  • Buena mulata peppers, from Truelove Seeds, an African American heirloom
  • Petit marseillais peppers, from Truelove Seeds
  • Bee balm, from Truelove Seeds
  • Black cherry tomatoes, from Renee’s Garden

The Sungold cherry tomatoes are a hybrid, and the cosmos are open pollinated but not an heirloom. Both are from Renee’s Garden.

I ordered a seed starting kit, pictured above. The set up includes a tray and vented cover, a heating mat, LED lights, a metal contraption for hanging the lights, and 72 discs of compressed peat. I would have preferred to avoid using peat, but it came with the kit.

A plastic tray with a cover and lights hung above it. Several rehydrated discs of peat are sitting in the tray.
The seed starting kit.

I’m only using 24 of the discs. My garden just isn’t big enough to fit that many new plants. As it is, I’m theoretically starting more than I’ll need. I figure if I have too many, I can thin them out and give away some seedlings. And if I have too few of anything, I’ll have learned something and can use that space to grow something else.

I’ve arranged my seeds according to the diagram below. Each row is 4 cells/discs.

A hand-drawn 'map' of where the seeds are located.
My “map” of the seeds I’m starting.

Row 1: Evertender okra, 1 seed per cell
Row 2: Buena mulata peppers, 3 seeds per cell
Row 3: Petit marseillais peppers, 3 seeds per cell
Row 4: Cherry tomatoes, 2 cells sungold, 2 cells black cherry, ≥3 seeds per cell
Row 5: Cosmos, 2 seeds per cell
Row 6: Bee balm ≥3 seeds per cell

The tomato and bee balm seeds were tiny, so i probably got a lot of seeds in each cell. I’ll just thin the seedlings as needed.

And now, I water and wait. With luck, I’ll have about 2 dozen baby plants in a few weeks. I suspect that’s when the hard part will begin.

Pitmoss Follow-Up

Back in September, I posted about my experiences with Pittmoss. I thought I should post an update now that a few months have gone by.

First off, the plants that I used the Pittmoss with seem to be doing quite well. Of course, I don’t really have a control, and most of these plants (except the Yarrow) came from the same source (The Growers Exchange). In particular, the greek oregano, sage, and thyme (lemon and french) are doing quite well. I would at the very least recommend the Growers Exchange. (One friend did get some tarragon from them that didn’t do well, but their other plants seem to have been fine.)

Clockwise from top left, the square bed contains rosemary Hardy Hill, Lemon and French thyme, Yarrow Richard Nelson, and culinary sage. The rectangular container at the bottom contains Greek oregano.

Now, for the not-so-good news: In some of my containers, the Pittmoss has compressed a lot. I’d say it’s reduced by a third to a half. I was expecting some compression, given how fluffy the Pittmoss is, but this is more than expected.

I am still planning to use Pittmoss in most of my spring planting. However, I may try to set up some beds and pots with it ahead of time and then let it sit a bit before planting/transplanting. I also want to try to add some growing medium to the Russian sage and amsonia, where the Pittmoss has compressed the most. 

As an aside, the pictures in this post were all taken in January. We just had a big snowstorm, so the sage and the other herbs are looking less green, but… Well, my garden was very confused about the seasons for a while. I’m blaming it on global weirding.

46 Under 46

Well, Biden is going to be our 46th President. In honor of that, I thought I’d come up with a list of 46 things I’d like to see happen under his administration. Some of these are probably more doable on a local or state level, but they’re at least things I’d like to see his administration support. 

This is not an exhaustive list. But I think it’s a pretty good list. 

Get ready. It’s a long list.

Food, Water, and Shelter

  1. Extend unemployment through the course of the pandemic and make payments retroactive.
  2. Restore food safety inspections
  3. Increase eligibility for and reduce requirements for food subsidy programs (eg, WIC)
  4. Create other programs to increase food security
  5. Eliminate hookworm in Georgia
  6. Adopt and Promote Housing-first approaches to homelessness
  7. Ensure that all Americans have access to clean water, including: access to running water for Native American communities; remediation in areas with fracking; restoring access to clean water in Flint

Voting Rights

  1. Restore the voting rights act
  2. Eliminate ID requirements for voters
  3. DC and Puerto Rico statehood

The Internet

  1. Restore Net Neutrality
  2. Ensure all Americans have access to electricity—especially in Native American communities
  3. Increase Broadband availability in rural areas
  4. Regulate Broadband like a Utility so that it’s affordable in both urban and rural areas
Keep going.

The Post Office

  1. Restore all Postal Sorting machines and service capabilities
  2. Remove the requirement for the post office to prepay pensions
  3. Implement Post Office Banking as a way to help for the underbanked

Healthcare

  1. Protect insurance coverage for birth control
  2. Eliminate the tampon tax
  3. Increase access to evidence-based addiction treatment and stop paying for non-evidence based programs
  4. Require healthcare cost transparency: what procedures costs, what is covered by insurance, etc.
  5. Eliminate ‘surprise’ healthcare bills
  6. Pass legislation that requires/implement subsidies that assist hospitals in such a way that all Americans are able to have physical access to healthcare
  7. Prioritize reducing maternal mortality in the US
Halfway there.

Physical Safety

  1. Ban assault rifles
  2. Go after white nationalist terrorists using the same tools used for international terrorists
  3. Prosecute mass shooters as terrorists
  4. Investigate all instances of police brutality
  5. Get rid of ICE and eliminate detention camps for immigrants 
  6. Ban use of rubber bullets and tear gas

Money Matters

  1. Redesign US currency so that blind people can identify the denomination of each bill
  2. Legalize and tax weed.
  3. Increase the prosecution of white collar crime
  4. Increase IRS audits of high net worth individuals
  5. Stop audits of EITC recipients, which disproportionately affects Black Americans
  6. Increase anti-trust investigations and enforcement, particularly in the tech sector
  7. Increase capital gains taxes
Just a little further.

Education 

  1. Create and subsidize a system of free city and state universities
  2. Student loan forgiveness
  3. Equiity funding for K-12 public schools to alleviate disparities based on local funding availability

The Environment

  1. Implement policies that reduce single use plastics
  2. Climate taxes on corporations
  3. Restore all pre-existing EPA protections
  4. Ban drilling and fossil fuel extraction from federally owned areas
  5. Phase out use of fossil fuels, including natural gas
  6. Improve municipal and national public transport systems
You made it!

November in the Garden

It’s November, but no one seems to have told my plants that. This does not seem normal. At this rate, I”m wondering if some of these plants will skip dormancy altogether.

I’ve been letting things go a bit, but I will try to harvest and dry some of the oregano soon.

Leo enjoying the cat grass and ignoring the catnip. The only plant with yellow leaves now is the phlox.
Mint and painted lady runner bans.
I only have one bean pod on the scarlet runner beans.
The herbs are doing well, and annual salvia still has flowers.
At least asters are supposed to be autumn flowers.
Nira, the other garden inspector.

Policing in Philly

A marshy area at Heinz Nature Preserve.
A marshy area at Heinz Nature Preserve: something soothing before we get to the serious stuff.

Before I get into the local policing information, I wanted to say that I’m really pleased that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris won the election. I also hope that we repudiate and address systemic racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, graft, and cruelty of all kinds—and that demands justice from those who have put their own well-being ahead of the lives and welfare of those who live here.

Ballot Questions on Policing

In addition to the national and state level candidates on Philly’s ballots, there were 2 ballot questions on policing in Philadelphia. One was to “constitutionally ban stop and frisk” and the other was to create a police oversight panel. Both passed. (Yay, Philly!) WHYY has some additional details on these ballot questions.

Additional Measures and Next Steps

Prior to the election, the City Council passed a ban on tear gas and rubber bullets. However, this still needs to be signed into law by Mayor Kenney. I’ve included an email I wrote to Mayor Kenney below, if you’d like something to work from.

james.kenney@phila.gov
(215) 686-2181
Twitter @PhillyMayor

Ban police use of “less than lethal” force

Dear Mayor Kenney,

I am writing to ask you to sign into law the ban on police use of “less than lethal” force that was passed by the Philadelphia City Council on October 29th. The citizens of Philadelphia should not be treated as the enemy when they are exercising their rights.

Thank you.

Of note: 3 Councilmembers (David Oh (R, at large), Brian J. O’Neill (R, 10th district), and Bobby Henon (D, 6th district)) voted against the bill.

Another Police Shooting

About two weeks ago, a mentally-ill Black man named Walter Wallace was shot 14 times. According to WHYY, body camera footage shows Wallace was not rushing officers and didn’t have a knife raised at the time they opened fire. There’s a petition calling on the city to to fire the officers who shot Wallace, to ban police from answering mental health calls, and to not provide additional funding to the police (for acquiring tasers).

Finally, here’s a list of resources that are alternatives to calling the police in Philadelphia.

2020 Voting Information for Philadelphia

Pins that say have white stars on red in the top third, the word "Vote" in white in the middle, and white stars on blue in the bottom third.

The 2020 general election is less than 6 weeks away. This post is where I’m collecting information specifically to help Philadelphia voters. Some of this information may apply to other voters in Pennsylvania, but you should check with your local authorities. 

I’ll be updating this post as I get additional information. You can get additional information from the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Voting Guide.

Whether you’re a PA voter or not, you can register to vote at Vote.org

If you don’t want to read through this, here are some quick links.

The Census

First, if you haven’t filled out the Census, please do so. The Census is what helps determine how congressional districts are drawn. It’s part of what determines how you’re represented in Congress and who you may be eligible to vote for. It also helps determine how much federal aid a given area gets. 

You can fill out the Census online. The deadline was moved up this year, so you only have until September 30th. 

Important Dates for PA Voters

The following are the state deadlines for voting related activities. However, if you’re planning to vote by mail, please assume you have 2 fewer weeks than listed. I’ve provided links that will allow you to register to vote and request a mail-in or absentee ballot online. 

September 29, 2020 – First day of “early voting” in Philadelphia (See below for details).

October 19, 2020 – the last day to REGISTER before the November election. Pennsylvania residents can register online, but you’ll need your driver’s licence PennDOT ID number. If you’ve already registered, you may want to check your voter registration on or before this date just in case.

October 20, 2020 – I strongly suggest that you send in your mail-in or civilian absentee ballot by this date. 

October 27, 2020 – Technically this is the last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot for Pennsylvanians. If you do this, I strongly recommend that, rather than requesting your ballot online, you go to your local election office

November 3, 2020 – Election day. Your mail in or absentee ballot must be received by this date. (The PA Supreme Court extended the deadline so that ballots must now be postmarked by November 3rd and received by November 6th, but the Republican party is planning to appeal. To be safe, assume your ballet needs to be received by November 3rd.)

Ensuring* Your Mail-In Ballot is Counted

*as much as that’s possible

There are a few important things to keep in mind if you’re using a Mail-In Ballot. Not doing these things could mean your ballot won’t get counted:

  • Your ballot must be received by the deadline (assume it’s November 3rd). For that to happen, you should probably turn it in in-person or mail it by October 20th.
  • Your ballot needs 2 envelopes. There’s an inner secrecy envelope and an outer envelope. Make sure you use both.
  • You must sign the outer ballot envelope.
  • Your signature must match what’s on file with the elections office.

If you’ve already requested your mail-in ballot, you can check your mail-in ballot status online.

Early Voting and Election Offices in Philadelphia

In Philadelphia, you can vote early at one of 17 locations: 2 permanent elections offices and 15 temporary satellite offices. The Philadelphia Inquirer has information on their locations, hours and services. A few of the surrounding counties are also opening satellite elections offices, as well.

Here’s a brief list of what you can do at these satellite elections offices:

  • Register to vote (until October 19th)
  • Request, receive, fill out, and submit a mail ballot in one stop (until October 27th)
  • Request a mail ballot to take home and submit later (until October 27th)
  • Drop off a completed mail ballot (until November 3rd)

All 17 elections offices will be open 7 days a week from September 29th to November 3rd. Their hours are:
Monday through Thursday: 11:30 am to 6:30 pm
Friday through Sunday: 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Voting in Person

If you’re frustrated by the complications of mail-in ballots, you can vote in person. This year, Philly is using new voting systems. You can watch a video of how those work on the Philadelphia City Commissioners website.

Philadelphia Sample Ballots

I haven’t seen sample ballots yet. I’ll update when I do.

Pittmoss Review

3 x 3 raised garden bed with Pittmoss mixed into the soil that was previously in the bed. Clockwise from the top left, the plants in this are culinary sage, rosemary Hardy Hill, lemon thyme, and French thyme.

This post is to document my experiences (to date) with a new-to-me planting/potting medium called Pittmoss. Before I get into details, I should state up front that I purchased the Pittmoss and all of the plants I’ll be talking about, and there are no affiliate links in this post.

To be honest, my decision to try it really came down to the fact that, while the cost per cubic foot of the Pittmoss was relatively high, shipping costs for my other choices would have been prohibitively expensive, and I was really looking for something that would just show up on my doorstep. (I’m lazy, remember?)

I’m not sure where I first heard about Pittmoss, but it’s basically made from recycled paper with other stuff (eg, bark, compost, microorganisms from bovine compost, etc) added to it. I was interested initially because it’s peat-free, but then also because it uses recycled paper. (Their website says upcycled.) I believe it’s called Pittmoss as a play on peat and because the company is based in the Pittsburgh area.

I ordered several 2-cubic-foot bags of the stuff, and they arrived at my doorstep, as expected. They were packed in cardboard boxes, which I stacked up. Leo decided that the stack was his new perch and he greatly enjoyed lounging there for a few days until my fall plants arrived.

Amsonia Blue Ice.

The Pittmoss smells… essentially like what it is: old paper. It’s a bit musty but the smell doesn’t bother me. If you’re into that old paper smell, you may even enjoy it.

Once my fall plants arrived, I took them and the Pittmoss to the patio to begin planting. I have to say, Pittmoss is very lightweight. Usually, carrying 2 cubic feet of potting medium would have meant I need a break. (I’m not very strong. It’s probably related to my laziness.) But carrying 2 or even 4 cubic feet of Pittmoss is no big deal.

Once you open up the bag, it looks a bit like gray insulation. The texture is super fluffy. There were a few chunks of paper still stuck together. When you break them apart, you can see all the colorful bits of shredded paper. It’s a little like breaking up an owl pellet, I suppose. (I’ve never done that personally, just seen it done.)

Russian sage.

I used a bit over 2 cubic feet to top up my raised bed and mixed it in with the existing soil in the bed. I used about another cubic foot mixed with existing soil to fill 2 large round containers, a 1’x2’ rectangular container, and a window box.

The raised bed got sage, rosemary, and 2 types of thyme and will also be getting some yarrow later. The rectangular planter got oregano, the window box got chives, and the two round containers got russian sage and amsonia blue ice.

Oregano in a rectangular planter. The Pitmoss looks like gray fluff/mush here.

Pittmoss claims to have “improved water retention” and to require ⅔ less watering. I’m assuming this is compared to peat-based planting media. I’ve planted a whole variety of plants in this stuff, and their water needs range from ‘really liking dry’ to ‘really liking wet.’ I’m really curious how they do with the Pittmoss. My suspicion is the rosemary will be the least happy, but we’ll see.

I’m also curious about how much this stuff will compact, given how fluffy it started out. I don’t want my plant roots trapped in paper mache. Similarly, I’m curious how this will hold up over time, as everything I’ve planted in it so far is a perennial. I may just try some basil indoors to see how it does with an annual. (The basil on the patio has become a tasty snack for something that owes me a few bucks for seed and watering.)

So here’s a bullet point summary, if you didn’t read the above.

  • Good:
    • lightweight and easy to carry
    • fluffy texture is kind of neat
  • Neutral (for me):
    • smells like old paper
  • To be determined:
    • how much it compresses over time
    • how it does for perennials
    • how different plants like the water retention

It should also be noted that this is a purely observational, uncontrolled, non-blinded experiment. It has no scientific validity, but it’s fun. I’ll post updates.

The Patio Gets New “Walls”

I’ve lived here for a little over 10 years. In that time, the patio walls have been a particular challenge. They’re made from cinder blocks and have been painted maroon. They probably contribute to the concrete oven effect, and over the years, I’ve gotten really tired of looking at them.

One of the neighbors has some reed fencing that they used to cover their patio walls. This year, I decided to try it for my own patio. The patio is still really warm, and it will probably still be an oven next summer, but at least it looks better now..

I ordered something called ‘reed roll fencing’ and used zip ties and string to attach it to the rebar coming up from the cinder block wall. At the bottom, it’s pushed against the wall by the planters. The trickiest parts of the installation were getting the fencing unrolled and keeping it upright while I attached it. (It might have been easier with a 2nd person, but there’s a pandemic, so I just did it myself.)

The results are a little wonky, but overall, I’m pleased.