Months ago, I decided to start my garden early this year. I thought I could outsmart the weather. I had squash and cucumber starts in my window in February!
Then came the wettest Spring on record, complete with an April 15th snowfall. My super-early transplants survived the snow but got eaten by wet-loving slugs and I ended up with nothing. Zip. Nada. Bupkis.
So much for rushing things.
But now it is mid-May, and weeks of mostly sunny weather are predicted. So, back to the nursery and we’ll try this again!
Fortunately, Portland Nursery is there for me. Auntie Bridgett drove me down and after getting side-tracked by cool sculptures and Fairy Moss, we picked out five different organic cherry tomato plants, a Delicata squash, some dahlias and a begonia.
We delivered them to the garden, went home for lunch, and back to the garden for the digging fun! More about that tomorrow.
When Grandpa Nelson got me a plot in our local Community Garden, I was excited to be able to grow fruits and veggies. I didn’t expect to be growing friends, as well.
There are about fifty plots in the Blair Garden, where I am, and I have gotten to know many of my fellow gardeners. We chat and swap stories while pulling weeds and watering. The folks with more experience give advice to us rookies. We help folks out with watering when they need to be out of town.
In short, we are part of a community.
Tonya watered my garden while I was in Lake Oswego, and this weekend I will water hers while she is at the coast. She harvested a few zucchini in payment, and today she brought by these two beautiful tomatoes for me. They were so pretty, I posed them with some of my lavender.
She also told me to cut a bunch of basil while I’m there. Pesto, here I come!
I have had some real progress in the garden this week!
The zucchini plants are still getting bigger. I wonder when they will start to take over the plot! The tomato plants I put in, from the nursery and from my windowsill, are still alive and getting taller. The carrots are getting taller, as you can see in the picture. But it has been weeks and weeks since I planted them, and I felt the need to know what was going on under the ground. I pulled a medium sized one up!
It is teeny tiny, even for a miniature carrot. But it tastes perfectly carrot-y and gives me hope for a future harvest. I will keep watering and hoping.
The strawberries planted by a previous gardener are coming ripe, but up until now, the squirrels have gotten to them before I did. Not today! Hooray! They were wonderful.
The pumpkin seedling is standing tall, up to about four inches so far. It has a little mound all to itself by the miniature lavender plant.
And most surprising, the replacement radish seeds I put in just last week are coming up! I spaced them out better, so they will have more room to grow than my last crowded bunch. Keep your fingers crossed!
I love having the garden just up the street to play in. Some days I go for a quick stop to water, and others I take a snack and have a nice visit. Love,
After a week of really warm weather, last Saturday was actually a little chilly. I worked in the garden a bit, planting seeds for some replacement radishes and six sunflowers. I have lost all the cucumber seedlings to some tiny slugs that eat the stems, but I have replacements growing in the sunny window and will buy some organic “Sluggo” repellent next time I am at the nursery.
My carrots are getting taller, and the zucchini plants are spreading out. While I was sitting in the garden, the sky got grey, the wind started to blow, and I got drizzled on for a while.
The smell of fresh rain in a garden is one of the best smells in the world, and I sat there, very happy, thinking how blessed I am.
Once I had the seeds in and watered, I cut some of the lovely lettuce to have later. Then I went home for lunch, which was leftover pulled pork sandwiches from The Portland Ciderhouse. Yum!
After some quiet time of reading, art and French lessons, Grandpa Nelson headed out for a walk, and I joined him! The clouds had mostly blown away but it was still cool. We walked the mile south to Division Street, to Salt and Straw Ice Cream. I ordered a flavor I didn’t even know existed, Pear and Blue Cheese. I know it sounds weird, but the sweetness of the pears and vanilla ice cream made a nice balance with the strong flavor of the blue cheese, and it was wonderful.
We sat by the sidewalk and watched dozens of other folks walking down the street to get their ice cream. There were more people than I’ve seen in one place for over a year. It was delightful, bright, and very human. Folks wore masks when they got into the crowd, which let everyone feel safe.
We headed for home up 32nd Street, which is lined with lovely old houses and beautiful gardens. The azaleas are fading but the roses are really coming into their own.
We spent the rest of the day reading, doing crosswords, and watching the Giants beat the Chicago Cubs. A very pleasant day, all around.
I went out picking up trash with the Adopt One Block folks this past weekend. In an hour and a half I collected about 20 pounds of old masks, cigarette butts and beer cans. It is very satisfying to make a part of my city better. But by the time I got home, I was a very sweaty Grandma Judy.
In the garden, the plants are reacting to the heat by charging out of the ground. Our only difficulty seems to be keeping them watered! I will be heading over today to transplant some cucumbers, pumpkins and tomatoes, and I will make sure to flood the plot.
To protect my newly planted babies from wily crows, I did some crafting. Using cardboard boxes used to sell cherry tomatoes, netting from avocados, and shipping tape, I made cages. I will place them over the little ones and hope for the best.
I am hoping the clever crows don’t just lift them off and fly away!!!
We have had a solid week of sunshine and above freezing temperatures, and I have been busy in the allotment!
The carrots, radishes and lettuces had already begun to show their first baby leaves, so I put in cucumbers, zucchinis, and even pumpkins. It feels almost summer, with temperatures predicted to be in the high 70s today. I was able to garden in just my coveralls and a tee shirt, and even got my garden hat out of the closet.
Of course, the camellia bush next door continues to drop its lovely blooms on my plot, and the water for the garden hasn’t been turned on yet (it’s not ours to control… it belongs to the hospital whose land we are using). I will need to carry the big watering can up to the allotment twice a day until it is, to make sure my seedlings get what they need. So there are, you know, glitches.
But being able to dig and water and watch things grow is such a gift!
Our spring is certainly springing along nicely. A lot of rain and a little sun, and our neighborhood trees are popping with blooms!
On Thursday, Grandpa Nelson and I walked down to Zach’s Shack for hot dogs and French fries for lunch, and then the two miles to Division Do It Best Hardware Store to fetch the new garden wagon we bought. It is red and strong and handsome, rolls well, folds up to store easily, and can carry up to 150 pounds. I have named it Dickon, after my favorite character in “The Secret Garden”.
We had a bit of rain last evening, and the showers will continue this weekend. But Monday, when it clears up, I will head over to Portland Nursery with Dickon the Wagon and fetch some stepping stones to use in our garden plot.
Then I will head to our plot, lay in the stones, and plant some radishes and lettuce. They like the soil a little damp and the air a little cool, so this is the right time for them. Of course, I will save some seeds for later, just in case of weather-related disaster.
I hope there are lots of flowers blooming where you are.
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.
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.
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.
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!
You knew that it was only a matter of time before we headed to the Portland Nursery, right? With Spring only a month away and a spot in the community garden waiting for us, Auntie Bridgett and I headed off to see what we could see.
It is still cold here… it was jacket and gloves weather as we walked the mile and a half to Portland Nursery on Stark. Patches of snow still shivered, bunched up under trees and beside stairways, and even in the nursery itself!
Portland Nursery has had a year to get Covid protocols in place, and have done a fine job. One way traffic lanes, arrows on the ground, and limited people inside the buildings help keep everyone safe while letting us gear up for garden season.
Of course, most of the nursery shelves are empty at this time of year, but everyone was finding what they wanted. These folks choosing a quince bush were happy to tell me about their spring expectations. “It is grafted!” They said. “It has red, pink and white blossoms on each branch!” I am excited for them!
We hunted up seeds for our garden plot, trying to find small species so we can have more variety. Little Finger carrots, Black Beauty zucchini, Salad Bowl lettuce, tiny Parisian Gherkin cucumbers, Cherry Belle radishes, and Sugar Pie pumpkin seeds all came home in my sack! We didn’t buy tomatoes or sunflowers yet…. I want to do more research and find the best growers for our damp city.
On our way home, the wind was picking up, bringing us rain for the coming week. We saw a crow up in her last-year’s nest, plucking out leaves and getting it just right for spring.
See? I’m not the only one who is anxious for winter to be over!
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.
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.
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!