July Yard

comments: 44


These are the plums that grow outside my kitchen window. They're on a tree in my neighbor's yard, but its heavily loaded branches fall on our side of the fence. Possibly, a plum clafoutis will be in my weekend. I love the gray haze that frosts their merlot-red skin. Makes me want to write a poem. Or drink. 

The backyard is looking frowsy and tired. My lettuce has bolted, my peas turned yellow, and my potato plants — oh dear me. My seed potatoes, planted one each in their 12" pots (too, too small), sprouted towering stalks that should've been "hilled"; alas, I had no room in the pot left to hill them (i.e.: cover the stalks with dirt), so they grew, and grew, and grew, until they crashed into tangled, unhappy piles of leggy stalks and wilty leaves. I explained all of this to poor Margaret, who had been trying so hard to help me, and never judges. It hurt me to tell her, then, that I went and cut off all of the foliage (since it was all wilty and flopping everywhere). This is How Not to Grow Potatoes 101. Le sigh. But Margaret! Margaret! We did eat four stalks of broccoli! They were delicious (after I denuded them of tiny worms . . . ). A little butter, a little garlic, couldn't even tell. I will say that I have enjoyed everything about my vegetable garden this summer (especially how it . . . looked), but I confess that the things that did the best in the vegetable garden were (er . . .) the nasturtiums, which turned into gigantic cumulus clouds of lilypad leaves and peach-melba blossoms, billowing out over the sidewalk and making me feel, if nothing else, vaguely successful. And who wouldn't like that. Nasturtium seedlings, you were well worth the $12.


Oh dear. I had the same problem with my potatoes. Didn't know about the hilling.. now I do! :(

This is how we're doing potatoes this year: http://tipnut.com/grow-potatoes/

It remains to be seen how well they'll do . . .

xo jm

Priscilla says: July 16, 2009 at 05:54 PM

this was the worst year for my little garden. I'm so baffled. Most of my friends didn't have any luck here in San Diego, either....what's up w/the ecology???

I was just thinking today that of all the seeds I planted this spring, the only ones that really thrived were the Nasturtiums.

I love the phrase about lettuce bolting. I know what it means but I still get a mental picture of the lettuce leaving in the middle of the night.

I think it is time for you to put in the next crops.

My nasturtiums are pretty happy about our Portland weather too. I don't quite know what to do since they are taking over the porch.

I consider all experiments in horticulture a success, no matter what grows or doesn't; I love when people are brave enough to just plant things about which they have no idea and *see what happens.* I bet you will never forget The Potato Incident (as we shall forever more refer to it).

Years ago, I gave my best friend some paperwhite Narcissus bulbs for her apartment; she had admired these "foolproof" forcing flowers at my house. "Put them in the dish with the gravel and some water; so easy, I said."

Two or so weeks later, the call comes:

"Um, there is this white spaghetti sprouting like crazy, but no flowers," she says, frantic.

Damn, I forgot to tell her which end was up.

I am not much of a poetry person, but I love this one by William Carlos Williams:
This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I've planted potatoes in garbage cans this year. I'll be blogging all about it later this week. So far I think it is semi-successful, but I won't know for sure until Fall, I think.

I love nasturtiums too! I planted some seeds, and they're s-l-o-w-l-y growing. I hope they flower before Summer is over!

That photo is gorgeous. I mean it, gorgeous! I think it's the most gorgeous photo I've seen on this blog. Not as cute as Audrey or spunky as Clover, but absolutely perfect light, composition and color. Awesome. xoxo

I have a cottage garden in England - it looks heavenly in the first couple of weeks of June, but by now it, too, looks rather tired and bedraggled.

Pomona x

We planted our potatoes in bags made of rotproof material about 20" deep. I earthed them up as we say in the UK, but they are still flopping all over the place with massive amounts of foliage which the rain here encourages and then beats down. So far we've eaten about 20 small ones! Beans of various varieties and nasturtiums are doing rather better though!

You are the first person I've ever heard use the term *le sigh* besides me. Love that utube video.... :)

Good luck with your potatoes, I'm afraid the same thing is happening to my brussel sprouts!

For years I gardened and labored over the "look of it". (yours was adorable, BTW) Anyways, it wasn't until I just decided to plant and let it all be more natural that I was successful. Now I hack and dig and move and oh my...I have tons of success. Good luck. Being in the garden is always a good think regardless of the outcome.

Ha! This was funny!
I used to have a gigantic garden until I learned that bugs love lettuces and worms love broccoli and then I was afraid to even go in those sections to pick them - I let it all turn to seedy stalks. But I still have success with varieties of tomatoes and zucchini and yellow summer squash - easy and not too many critters.

My flower pots have become impressive to guests though - just last night some friends were exclaiming over how "gigantic and overflowing and colorful" they were. Made me feel pretty good. Thanks Miracle Grow.

Hahaha, your renditions are always so funny, Alicia! Have you ever considered writing the ultimate beginner's guide to gardening, something like "How to pop the cherry of your garden". Instant best-seller that would be :)
Always a pleasure to read you.

I remember my first garden being like that- funky. Keep gardening. It gets better. At one point, I labeled myself a brown thumb, but the better truth is that after many years of on again-off again gardens, I've learned what is easy and what is not, how to do things, and how to..not. Each year, I have glorious successes, dissapointing, er, dissapointments, and curious (and often beautiful or tasty) suprises.

That reminds me, I need to go water!

Oh, and aren't nasturtiums the best? Lovely, persistent little things.....

Laura A. says: July 17, 2009 at 12:17 PM

Howling with laughter. Thanks, Alicia!

oh dear, i was worried about your potatoes when i read they were in pots. they need lots of room. but there is next year! take a look at www.territorialseed.com. they are an oregon company and specialize in plant varieties that do well in the pacific nw. i have always had goodluck with their seeds and their catalog is full of lovely photos and great tips. i would love to take a drive to their main store in cottage grove, it's such a lovely area. you can always plant brussel sprouts and broccoli in the late summer for a fall crop!

Sorry to hear about your garden. Growing your own vegetables is so amazing. Don't give up though - everyone kills something the first time round.

Your plums look lovely, we only ever used to have one of those trees that grow the tiny, inedible plums that get rotten before they get ripe.
I am sorry about your garden, mine died as well. I am debating starting over for Autumn.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com