Late Spring Heat!

Dear Liza,

It has been HOT in Portland!

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!!!

All tucked in safe and sound….

Love,

Grandma Judy

New in the Garden (and the Journal)

Dear Liza,

Things keep coming up in our community garden plot. The zucchini sprouts have secondary leaves now, and I’ll need to move them apart a bit so they can have room to spread out.

Looking prosperous!

I’ve moved some parsley that was in our sunny window into the plot, so we could use that window as a nursery for re-starts of pumpkins and cucumbers, the seed of which have apparently died in the ground.

My painting of the Parsley in its mobile home….

Our house faces north, and we only have the one really bright window. New tomato starts have shot up there! I’ve started calling it “la fenetre magique”, which means magic window. When the tomatoes are a few inches tall, I’ll put them out in the plot, too.

On their way up!

I put a few sunflower seeds into the plot, as well, fitting them in between the currently tomato-less tomato cages. I’m keeping them wet and hoping for the best.

Dreamin’. ….

Enjoy your spring!

Love,

Grandma Judy

First Harvest

Dear Liza,

I stopped by the garden plot yesterday, to pull tiny weeds and remove the camellia blossoms. I noticed that some of the radishes were looking weird… the soil around the leaves was lumpy and tilted.

Harvest!!

And then I saw why!! Some of them have actual radishes below the leaves. Taking a clue from my friend Shawn Quione in Salinas, I chose the biggest ones to thin out, so the others would have more room. Each one was about the size of the end of my thumb.

Once I got them home, I washed them gently and put them away like fine jewelry, to have with supper. And while I was waiting for Auntie Bridgett to get home, I celebrated with a portrait of the harvest. It is my favorite page in my garden journal so far.

The latest page in my garden journal

I know it is only May, and summer goes until September, but I don’t know if I will be as excited about anything I pull from my dirt as I am about these four radishes. The newness of this sort of creation is just wonderful.

Love,

Grandma Judy

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

Getting My Hands Dirty

Dear Liza,

It is still too wet and chilly to plant seeds in our garden plot, but there is a lot of work to be done, anyway.

Our plot, 25G, waiting for us…

The City of Portland has 57 of these Community Gardens, in a program that has been running since 1975. When you sign up to have a plot, you pay between $20 and $220, depending on the size of your plot, and promise to help maintain the whole garden, donating a few hours during the year to keep things in good shape.

The hated Lessor Celadine!

Our General Manager, Ruth, sent out an email alerting us to work that needs doing. Public paths need weeding and covering in burlap, to make them less muddy. Fence lines need to be cleaned up. Vacant plots need help.

Ruth described the newest weed invading the garden, the Lessor Celadine, so perfectly that I recognized it right away. It is a type of wort with pretty round leathery leaves and a bright yellow flower. It is tempting to leave it alone, but apparently it spreads like wildfire and will take over an area.

So on Monday, I put one of our trash-collecting buckets in Dickon my red wagon, put on my coveralls and gardening shoes, and trudged up to the garden. I had decided to weed one of the public paths, a ten foot by three foot section that was weedy and goopy with mud.

Enjoying the silence, solitude and physicality of it, I sat right on the ground and dug in. I found the Bermuda grass stolens and dug them out, as well as the hated Lessor Celadine. An hour and a half later I was muddy and worn, but very, very happy. The path looked better, too.

All cleaned out and ready for burlap
In the rubbish!

I met a fellow gardener when I went to fetch the old coffee bags we use for covering the paths, and we chatted as we rested. Using Dickon the wagon to carry the heavy burlap, I covered the path with recycled coffee sacks.

Burlap keeps the mud down…

Then I packed up my weeds and trudged home, feeling every one of my 65 years. But I knew a hot shower and rest would set me right.

I am so happy in the garden! Being peacefully alone while being part of a decades-old community is wonderful.

Love,

Grandma Judy

Blooming Lovely

Dear Liza,

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”.

Dickon the Wagon

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.

Love,
Grandma Judy

Hoofin’ it to the Nursery

Dear Liza,

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.

A little bit of snow doesn’t stop The Portland Nursery!

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.

Happy quince owners!

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!

Our new babies-to-be

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.

Everyone is gearing up for spring!

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!

Love,

Grandma Judy