Cuke Sprout Sighting!

Dear Liza,

I feel like I have been waiting FOREVER for my garden to really take off. The radishes, lettuces and carrots have finally poked their tiny green heads above ground, but the cool cloudy weather, along with some shade from a nearby camellia bush, isn’t giving them any inspiration to really GROW.

Frankly, I’m getting just the tiniest bit impatient….

The latest page in my Garden Journal

And then, making a stop by on the way to the grocery store, I saw this. This intrepid, stalwart zucchini sprout, lifting his little green towards our lukewarm sun.

Hooray!!!

I also noticed my itty bitty lavender plant has sent up some buds. They are getting blue and smell great! Maybe we are gonna see some growth after all.

Come on, sunshine! Gimme an “S”! Gimme a “U”! Gimme an “N”!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Seeds In!

Dear Liza,

Finally! After months of anticipation, we have seeds and a plant in the ground at the allotment. The weatherman has promised we will have no more frost this spring, so it was time to commit.

Chilly Auntie Bridgett, drawing

Auntie Bridgett went along with me, though she is not a gardener; there is too much mud involved for her liking. But she wanted to draw the garden, keep me company, and make notes. That’s what she does.

We bundled up against the chilly morning, carrying the seeds, the lavender plant, and nifty home made garden markers along in a bag. We chatted briefly with other gardeners. After so long in isolation we long for companionship, but we were all there on our own missions. The camellia tree had given us more blossoms, and I realized it may be a good idea to trim it back just a wee bit, to give us more space and sunlight. All good relationships need a little space, right?

Lumpy bed, waiting for some care

The soil was very lumpy, and I spent a lot of time crumbling the clods between my fingers, making a smoother bed for my seed babies. I sprinkled the seeds in and patted the soil gently, laying down a bit of of decomposed straw over the top to keep them damp.

There. The seeds are right there.

When my back was tired and my fingers were numb, it was time to lock the tools back in the shed and head out. Light rain is predicted for a few days, and should get the seedlings started. I am so excited for what happens next!

That marker says “LETTUCE”. That burst of green is a lavender transplant.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Progress in The Garden Journal

Dear Liza,

I haven’t done much work in the garden, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it! My garden journal gives me a place to put my dreams and imaginings down in a art-y, fun, not-having-to-think-too-much-about- it sort of way.

So when the rain comes down and the garden plot is all mud, I dream and draw, get out the collage glue and the watercolors, and have fun making up what I WANT to be doing.

Hopefully, by the time I run out of ideas to paint, spring will have sprung enough to where I can put seeds in the ground.

I am anxious for spring to come and to be able to watch my seeds grow.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Getting to Know Our Plot

Dear Liza,

Well, we got our garden plot in the Blair Community Garden! I mean, we knew that we had one, but today we got the actual number and the combination to the garden’s lock. So of course, Grandpa Nelson and I walked the two blocks over to have a look at our new dirt.

The part covered by the burlap… is all ours!

It is a ten by ten foot (exactly the size of your daddy’s room when he was growing up) raised bed. It has a gentle southward slope, and is bordered by a cyclone fence (good for tying tall sunflowers to) on one side and someone else’s plot of land on another. I am sure this other gardener and I will get to know each other as the season progresses.

Me and my dirt!

And I am looking forward to meeting my other fellow gardeners, as well. The Community Garden Program in Portland is 46 years old, and is not just “here’s your dirt, come plant stuff” situation. It is practiced as a stewardship program, a way of helping overcome societal prejudices and inequalities, of bringing people together by gardening, providing for people and caring for the land.

Our plot, off to the far left, in the midst of everyone else’s.

So, tomorrow I need to go to the used clothes store and get some coveralls so I can start digging! I am excited, happy, and looking forward to my summer adventure!

Love,

Grandma Judy

Bits of Happy

Dear Liza,

Happy March! The calendar tells us spring is just a few weeks away, although in Romania they celebrate the First of March as the beginning of spring. Even with cherry blossoms making some of our trees look like they are wearing lacy pink underwear, it is still chilly here.

Auntie Katie, belated birthday girl

But even with the chill, we have some things going on. On Sunday Grandpa Nelson and I finally got to celebrate Auntie Katie’s birthday with her, taking her a present and lunch, and eating in the gazebo at Abernethy School, just across the street from her Books with Pictures shop. We had a chat and a walk around the neighborhood.

In the parkway by the shop, Cousin Kestrel has installed a new fairy doorway and friends in one of the elm trees. Kestrel is always taking care of our local fairy folk, and their pony and ducky friends.

New fairy door….

There is also a yummy new place to eat! Covid has taken its toll on restaurants, and folks are having to get creative to stay in business. One of our favorite places to walk to was Monk’s Deli, which was a food truck parked just behind the Belmont Station Bottle Shop and Pub. We were sad when it closed last year, but it has now re-opened under a new name.

It turns out the former owners had wanted to retire and the people living literally next door had asked to get first dibs on the place. They did, re-opened, and now Monster Smash makes the best, biggest, juiciest burgers, with homemade pickles! AND, fabulous, crispy French fries! Yummy! We will definitely walk there when you get to visit.

Auntie Bridgett and I also discovered some new places down in Division Street. After a long walk and shop at Collage Art Supplies, we needed a snack. Pinolo Gelateria is right next door and sells just eight flavors, but they are stunning. We had Pistachio and Fior di Latte ( Milk Flower) flavors, which were rich, not too sweet, and just what needed.

Not our order! Photo credit, Pinolo Gelateria

As we sat in the chilly sun (properly wrapped up, of course) we noticed the Division Do It Best hardware store across the street, and were helped by their friendly staff in buying my new garden wagon! Hooray! Now I will be able to haul gardening stuff to and from our “allotment” in the Blair Community Garden.

So that’s what’s going on here. I hope you are well and staying happy. See you soon.

Love,

Grandma Judy

In the Garden!

Dear Liza,

When we first moved into our house here in Portland, we noticed the Blair Community Garden just two blocks away. Fitting in between a long term care facility and a few houses, the L-shaped lot is filled with raised beds of various sizes.
Knowing I would be missing my own garden back home, Grandpa Nelson offered to see if we could get a space in the garden. “Sure!” I said, eager to get out and dig.

It’s just up the block!!

That was in 2018, and there was a waiting list. A long waiting list. But we got word last night that we’re in! We have a 10 foot by 10 foot raised bed in which to grow anything we want! I am excited, happy, and feeling just a wee bit overwhelmed.

This sunflower has been calling to me….

I am verklempt with possibilities. We will need some equipment! Some hand tools, and a hose, and a wagon to haul them back and forth the two blocks to the garden.
AND what will we grow? Basil, of course, for pesto. And cherry tomatoes and chives and all sorts of lettuces. Sunflowers for Auntie Bridgett. Fresh baby carrots for Grandpa Nelson. Some squash and most surely, a pumpkin!

I need to do a LOT of homework about what is and isn’t grow-able here. I have always gardened in Southern and central California, and Portland is a very different, and soggier, place. There are also rules to make sure our garden plot doesn’t interfere with anyone else’s. I have already had folks volunteer to help me. This should be fun!

And as soon as the snow melts, I’ll be there.

Love,

Grandma Judy