Sunday, July 1, 2018

July already?
Oh, my goodness has it really been almost three months since the last post.  I have lost track of not just days or weeks but it seems like entire months. Since my last post, I've been to Las Vegas for my grand daughter's graduation, worked on kitchen floor replacement, tried to plant garden, went to cousins gathering, was a pall bearer at a funeral, built a cover for the back of my truck, went to an Oak Ridge Boys concert, and have been working on a patio bucket gutter garden.

The weather has been quite extreme this year. It started with a cold and late Spring which turn hot. Two 100 degree days in May are kind of rare for Nebraska. Since then, the weather has either been hot (90+) or raining. Gardening for this year has practically been a total loss. Weeds have taken over Terra Nova Gardens and only potatoes, cabbage, sweet corn, and three lonely volunteer cherry tomatoes reside there.  My main task at Terra Nova Gardens is to save the sweet corn by getting the electric fence functional before the raccoons decide to destroy it. They aren't the brightest animal in nature's kingdom. Even before the ears start to form on the stalk, they will come in and decimate the crop. There's absolutely no value for them in that.  If they would wait for the ears to form at least there would some thing for them to eat but they don't. In their greed they destroy the very thing they could have later.  The interesting thing is that my neighbor where I live has an area at Terra Nova Gardens where he plants popcorn which is never bothered by raccoons. It just doesn't smell right, I guess.

Those alien vines and scrub Mulberry trees are making a play to take over the side yard again. It looks like a Brazilian jungle. I will have to spend some time cleaning that mess up once again. It seems to be a yearly task. There's no lack of things to do around the Urban Ranch or Terra Nova Gardens.

I did get a watering system set up for the Urban Ranch tomatoes. It's about the fifth generation of gravity feed watering for the raised beds in the back yard.  It's the simplest, easiest to build, and cheapest to afford yet. The bucket gutter garden has been moved to the patio and will be fed strictly by gravity without even having a timer. There's too much activity going on to put into one post so I'll have to post more often and reveal details in a timely manner. 

I just wanted to get a post out and let you know that I'm still alive and kicking.

Have a great 4th of July and stay safe. 

Nebraska Dave

Monday, April 16, 2018

Spring has arrived?
Yeah, if it has, I haven't found it. The weather continues to bring freezing rain, wind, and snow. The soil temperatures are still hovering around 35 to 40 degrees. Air temperatures are a full 20 degrees below the average for this year. I expect we are due for one of the years where we will go straight into summer temperatures without a Spring. My seedlings have had to stay down in the basement bunker under the grow lights. I haven't been able to even get them outside for some fresh air because the temperatures have been so cold. I probably could get the potatoes and onions planted but why throw them out into the cold. Yes, they probably would survive but it wouldn't get to harvest any sooner than waiting. I do hope this weather cycle breaks soon.

Even the hardiest of flowers are struggling for survival this year. The normally perky Daffodils are having a hard time keeping their heads up and the hyacinth has a little freezer burn on the tips of their blooms. The tulips seem to have caught on to nature's prank and kept their buds protected.  It's been a rough Spring for those normally beautiful flowers but still they are trying their best to put on a show. I have to admit that they don't give up too easily. 

In the mean time I've been working on a kitchen project. It was inspired by a refrigerator failure that ruined the floor under it. 
It was an ugly mess that looked like it had been destined to failure for a long time. Well, the refrigerator was 23 years old so I guess I can't complain and the kitchen floor was the original 1965 floor so it need to be refreshed.
After a couple weeks of working on the floor around other domestic responsibilities, I'm down to getting the cabinet kick board painted and installed. This floor will continue on into the dining room but might take a bit longer due to .... gardening season .... well, if it ever happens. So, yeah, new refrigerator, new kitchen floor, life goes on.

I wish a great day to one all and I'll catch you on the next post.


Monday, March 19, 2018

Wow, March already?
Where does the time go? Not much happened over the Winter and old Jack Frost is hanging on tightly to the chilly mornings. We hopefully had our last wet snow of the season but it just doesn't feel like Spring has truly arrived yet. This time last year I was full force preparing for Spring planting but this year, the weather has been so crummy that I haven't been to the garden yet. I'm hoping to get there soon just to take inventory about what needs to be done. Potatoes are always the first thing to be planted. I'm going to start harvesting them early this year and eating the small little potatoes first.  Every year I have way too many that spoil in storage so my plan is to start eating them early and not have so many to store.
The onion sets were planted first and put under the grow lights when sprouting started. Yes, those are half toilet rolls. Later they will be planted out in the garden when the soil warms up to the right temperature which hopefully will be in about another two to three weeks. Onions are heavy nitrogen feeders so these guys are about at the stage where they need a good feed. They can also be set outside to soak up the sunshine on warm days.
The bell peppers and eggplants are doing really well.  My first bell peppers I put in my computer room on a heat mat thinking it would really help them sprout better. About two weeks into the germination period, I took a soil temperature reading and found it to be 97 degrees. Not a single seed from that batch germinated.  I think I cooked them. The second batch that you see here was started by sprouting the seeds on a paper towel inside a Ziploc bag. Just as the seeds began to sprout (I think about a week or 10 days), I planted them.  Two weeks later they were up and growing. I transplanted them into larger cups for now and perhaps in a month to bigger yet cups.

I planted lettuce but it didn't seem to germinate. I'll have to plant more and see what happens.  Strange things happen when germinating seeds in the Spring. I'm just glad that signs of the coming Spring is every where and the long cold Winter is coming to an end. My favorite season is Spring with all the new life and fresh growth. So I can definitely say the garden season has begun.

Do you have any thing under the grow lights yet? 

Have a great Spring day where ever you are.

Nebraska Dave

P.S. Now that Spring has arrived I'll have more to write about and post will come more often.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas
Since I some what resemble Santa Claus, I do get some double takes from the youngsters and I have been asked if I am Santa. My answer is always, "No, I'm not Santa but I know him. Have you been naughty or nice." Invariably the answer is always "Nice" with a sheepish look. It seems that the Christmas season has lost it's focus for the reason of the season.  

This year the retail stores started their Christmas thrust right after Labor Day and really geared up after Halloween.  I'm not a Scrooge by any means and I do like the decorating and .... cookies yum. There's no such thing as a bad cookie.  Same with apple pie but you already know that if you been following my blog. I still work for apple pie, apple crisp, apple any thing. This Christmas has been a little more organized so it seems.  

Well, other than the Christmas cards there's not much to organize for me.  No one is coming to my house for dinner, no one is baking Christmas goodies, and decorating is very minimum.  It sounds pretty bah hum bug, doesn't it.  Not so much.  My festivities are outside the home with other family, friends, and neighbors. 

My wife Dottie was the decorator, baker, and dinner maker.  I did try to continue that tradition but gave it up because I just wasn't any good at it and really didn't enjoy doing it. So now in my mature season of life, I just enjoy other people's dinners and such. I don't have any lack of invitations to join in with other folks.  Some times I have several to attend during the December Christmas season.

I'm hardly a sit at home and be lonely kind of guy. I can't remember the last time I was lonely or bored but then again, I cherish my alone times with no immediate responsibilities to take care of. I enjoy it all but I am kind of glad when it's all over and I can settle in for a couple months of Winter rest.

Yeah, right.  The Winter list of projects keeps growing and I'll never get them all accomplished.  I have some big ones coming up. Major house cleaning is on the top of the list. Seriously, why are there still clothes for my 13 year old grandson that look like he hasn't been able fit into them since he was 5 years old still in the dirty laundry in the laundry room.  You know how it is. All those things that we are going to get around to but never do are on this year's Winter ToDo list.  

It seems like plumbing is always on that list as well.  I've already had two major plumbing fixes accomplished and another really major fix that needs attention on the list.  Floors are another concern.  The old 1965 linoleum is starting to buckle, crack, peel away from the floor.  There's always vacuuming up those cobwebs off the ceiling, cleaning the ceiling fan blades, or inside house repair things.  It's been 30 years since some of the rooms have been painted.  Like my bedroom.  It could use a total make over. It's so much like a guy bedroom with no curtains and a pile of dirty clothes on the floor.  It's just in a guy's DNA.  Guys don't have to be taught to pile dirty clothes on the floor and girls don't have to be taught how to shop.  It just in their genes. 

So have a Holly Jolly Christmas and I see you on the back side of St. Nick.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Thanksgiving Week
Thanksgiving week is upon us and preparations are being made all across the land.  Turkeys will be stuffed; breads will be baked; and (my favorite) deserts will abound.  
I'm thankful this year for family, friends, and neighbors that are awesome. It's been a year of many blessings in my household. 

Sixteen years ago on  November 10 was the day of my wife Dottie's passing.  No it wasn't a blessing for me but it was for her.  She suffered all her life with health issues and went to heaven where she experienced perfect health for the first time ever.  Even though her death was close to Thanksgiving, I've never had issues with Thanksgiving.  A family that I've known for over 40 years adopted me into their family and have been a blessing over the years with standing invitations for Thanksgiving. It was very special and helped a lot to have a family do that.  This year it is still a tradition to spend time with my family and give a well deserved blessing over their meal.  

This is my 70th Thanksgiving.  As I reflect over the years, many special memories come to mind.  Child hood, adult, and now mature (ok old) memories are brought to mind.  The Lord has truly blessed me over the years and continues to do so.  

I wish all of those who read this to have the best of Thanksgiving memories this year.  May all the food be delicious, conversations be joyous, and the Tums be plentiful.

            Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brrrr it's cold out there
The temperatures here in Nebraska are falling.  It's been down in the 20s at night with consistency the last few days.  Today the high will be only 38 with a wind chill in the 20s.  It's soup (especially chili) time, don't you think? The ground is not quite frozen yet so garden cleanup will continue for a few more days.  
Bed 4 from the last post is now ready for it's Winter blanket.  It will be covered with a yard waste leaf mulch as you can see that Bed 3 on the right has. Now the job begins inside the inner fence.  That is a total out of control weed mess. It's amazing how fast things can become out of control.
This section of the fence with the name on it is in pretty sad shape after the vandals were finished.  I've put a steel welded fence over this fence.  It doesn't show up very well in the picture.  By gardening time next year painted plywood will cover these sections of the fence.  I'm not sure if it will have the name on it just yet.  The Rugosa Roses are really growing big and this fence can't really be seen any more in the summer time.  So the name will probably be moved down by the gate in a more visible place.
I harvested the last of the squash.  I have way more than I can use and have been giving away as much as I can.  These squash came from seeds that a friend gave me.  She saved them from a squash that she bought from a brand name grocery store.  They were prolific.  I counted 75 total from about eight or nine plants.  She will be saving the seeds again for planting.  Every thing grew well this year in spite of the neglect.
The last of the green peppers were harvested, chopped up, blanched, and frozen for Winter soups and stir fries. This was a great success.  These peppers were grown on a bed that has been less than productive.  This year I did my direct compost method of burying leaf mulch at a spades depth but in addition three bags of composted manure from the local nursery were top dressed and lightly dug in on the bed.  Then a sprinkle of garden lime was scratched into the soil.  A covering of fresh grass clippings covered the bed and let dry a bit before the pepper plants were planted.  An irrigation system was built that watered the plants every day for about three minutes.  I'm not sure how much water that was but it went directly on the base of the plant.  Last year I didn't get a single pepper.  This year I have so many that it buried me with peppers.  It was one of my best productive beds for the year.

As the year transitions from outside projects to inside projects, I am a bit sad to be putting the garden to bed for the year but at the same time excited about the coming year.  I've already started planning for 2018.  How about you?

Have a great Fall day.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

November is here
Thanksgiving now looms on the horizon. Summer is definitely over. The killing frosts keep coming and all plant life is dead. There's nothing left but to continue to clean up the yard and garden.  The timer watering system for flowers has been dismantled and the garden rain water storage tanks have been drained.  There are a few warm days left but I suspect they will be limited.  Halloween was a cold chilly evening for the trick or treat kids.  There was a snow flake or two in the air but nothing that would really be called snow.
This last month I've had to deal with vandalism.  Three times the kids of the neighborhood have broken through the tired old chicken wire fence and tore up stuff inside the garden. Each time they were more destructive than the last. This time they punched through the front fence and broke up two of my wooden tomato cages and dumped over barrels.  The neighbors in the area kind of look after the garden and one called the cops.  They were apprehended and talked to.  I didn't press charges so hopefully that will be the end of this issue with those teenage boys.  Well, and then the new steel welded fence might help keep them out as well.  I needed to replace that tired old rusty chicken wire fence anyway so it just sped up the schedule to do that.  I still have some sections to put up more fence before the area is secure once again.  
This is bed 3 where the green beans were. I had thought about just letting the beans mature after a couple harvests that I canned but as it turns out the garden neglect made for a complete weed mess. So out came the weed whacker and buzzed off all the mess.  It was raked down to one end to eventually dispose of.  I think I'll get a steel burn barrel and start burning all the garden debris.  It just takes too long and there's too much volume to compost it down.  Ashes of the burnt debris can be spread back on the beds for the mineral content. I get enough yard waste for organic direct composting to keep the beds in good health.

If you look real close you can see a ghostly image of me in the picture.  I'm not sure how that happened but it's a bit creepy.  I didn't discover it until I downloaded the images off my phone.  So the ghost of Terra Nova Dave roams the garden even when he isn't there.
Here's the next bed to cleaned up.  It's bed 4 where the eggplants, zucchini, and chard lived.  Both eggplant and zucchini were bitten by the frost and killed.  The chard still hangs on for a while longer. The next garden visit will be a cleanup of this bed and more fence repair. Three sections of wooden fence are in pretty sad shape.  I'm guessing the teenage boys didn't help things with that either but it needed to be repaired regardless.  
Here's the latest look at the formal part of the garden. Eventually, I would like the poor man's brick to be in all the pathways and all the beds to be lined with rocks.  Each year I get a little closer to that.  Next year I'll be able to concentrate on that more as the bed building is done for a time.  Twelve beds are more than enough to provide all my vegetables and more to give away. So next year the focus will be more on gardening and less on development. Well some development of the irrigation will be addressed. It worked really well on the tomatoes and green peppers this year.  

That's what's been happening in my neck of the woods.  How about yours?