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?






Tuesday, October 24, 2017

October Update
This summer has flown by so fast. It's been a real struggle to keep up with gardening this year. It started in June with the trip to Las Vegas for a high school graduation.  I just never seemed to get caught up after being away for 10 days.  In spite of the neglect, Terra Nova Gardens produced mega amounts of produce and I had to just end the surplus by pulling out the plants.  Here it is the end of October and things were still producing. The killing frost date has come and gone and still we are getting middle 70s during the day and 40s during the night.  

Tomatoes on the left were part of the prolific garden year but the great disappointment was, they were not regular sized tomatoes.  The package I bought from the big box store said Rutgers.  When tomatoes started forming, I could tell they were not Rutgers because Rutgers do not grow in clusters and only get the size of marbles.  Yes, they were all cherry tomatoes.  I had buckets full of cherry tomatoes and none of regular size. In hind site I should have just pulled them out and planted some thing else.  
This is the third bed down for the Winter cleanup and nine more to go. As you can see, I lost total control over the weeds by the end of the year.  I'm trying my best to recover as much as I can before Winter sets in.
This is the sad looking green pepper bed. It might look sad but it produced so many peppers this year.  Removing the plants gave up another five gallons of peppers to be processed. I'm planning on blanching and freezing them for Winter soups and stir fries.
Here's the second part of the day of the cleanup.  The peppers are gone gone gone.  This bed is good until next Spring.  All this mulch that rests on top of the bed during the Winter months will be buried in the Spring to finish composting and feed the plants that are planted here.  I'm thinking maybe eggplant and zucchini will be in this bed next year.  Hopefully, the next two beds with get cleaned up on the next Terra Nova Gardens work day.
The potato harvest was pretty good this year as well.  I would say that it was about 50 pounds.  This is what was stored away in the basement storage room.
These are the potatoes that were stuck with the fork when being dug up.  It's inevitable that some potatoes will be damaged when digging them up.  I see some soups during the cold Winter days.  

It's been a good garden year with more preserved then years past.  It wasn't that I couldn't have preserved more but it was just that I didn't want to do it.  Next year will be even more preservation as the structure building of the garden will be less and the focus on actual gardening will be more.  It's taken six years to finally get the garden developed with fences to keep out critters and beds to grow vegetables.

Have a great Fall where ever you are.

Friday, September 15, 2017

What happened to July & August
The middle of September? No way.  Where did July and August go? It has been a busy summer with helping others get things done. Some preservation of garden produce was done this year and is still happening.  Plans for more next year is on the schedule.  I've decided that 12 raised beds at Terra Nova Gardens will be enough for now and that next year and maybe the next after that will be spent learning how to manage the beds. Some things grew really well and others not so much.  This time of the year the garden always gets a little out of hand.  With school starting and church activities beginning after the summer vacation, life changes into the busy schedule again.
Just a little neglect and nature will take advantage of the time.  This is about three weeks of neglect. It's a real mess when gardens don't get daily attention.
Some serious labor, massive amounts of resting, lots of fluids, and a transformation is accomplished.  There was carpet under all the weed growth.  Carpet will suppress the growth of weeds but not stop it. The great thing about carpet is to clean up the area just whiz down the tops of the weeds and turn the carpet over.  All that weed mess will turn into compost under the carpet.  So about once a year I just turn it over.  Looks great doesn't it. 
The tomatoes this year was a real bust.  I started them from seed that I bought at a big box store.  The package said they were Rutgers which is my favorite.
Does that look like a Rutgers tomato? No it does not. The package was miss labeled and all the tomatoes turned out to be cherry tomatoes.  One or two cherry tomatoes are OK but seven in the backyard and seven at Terra Nova Gardens was too much.  Besides that the vines grew up over my head and had hundreds of tomatoes as is the way with cherry tomatoes but only about a fourth actually ripened.  Not to worry.  I have lots of canned tomatoes from last year still in the storage room and I froze a bunch of cherry tomatoes for later use.
One of the great successes of this year's garden was the green peppers.  There are now 22 frozen stuffed peppers in the freezer along with the sweet corn and some of the cherry tomatoes.
Green beans and pickles were another success for this year.  I could have had a lot more but after the June trip to Las Vegas, I just never quite got caught back up. Next year will be a year of leaning more toward preserving and less building.

All in all it's been a very good year for the garden.  Now it's time to clean it up and put it to bed.

Have a great day.  Enjoy the Fall (?) weather.  What's up with the above 90 degree days?

Thursday, June 29, 2017

June mostly a month of weeds

The last week of June.  The month was filled with wheel barrows of pulled weeds.  I'm not done yet.  Just when I was caught up, the family packed up and spent 10 days in Las Vegas for a high school graduation.  My youngest grand daughter that lives in Las Vegas graduated this year so the family packed up and went to Las Vegas for the graduation.
 This is my family.  In the back row starting on the left is me, then Rob (my awesome son in law), then his wife (my daughter Sherry), then the graduate (Mary), then her sister Anna (my middle grand daughter), and Joan (my oldest grand daughter).  Front row is Bradley (my grandson), and Lydia (my youngest daughter).  My sister Pam is missing.  The graduation was on Tuesday at 9am which is a work time for my sister.  

I was hoping to see my grand kids in Wyoming but that didn't work out so we decided to take the Denver route back to Omaha.  We left Las Vegas at about 10:30am Vegas time and arrived at the car rental place about 8:30am on Friday.  It took 19 hours of driving time to get back home.  All of us were glad to get back home.   Vacation is a fun time but there's no place like home.
The garden exploded while I was away with sweet corn tasseling and weeds abounding.  Ten days of not being there and weeds try to take over.  This is the first corn planted with three more beds planted two weeks apart after this one.   I expect to have corn in July and weeks after.  Over all the garden looks to be the best since I've started Terra Nova Gardens.
These were small plants when I left 10 days ago and now look.  The plan was to let the squash crawl over into the second sweet corn bed.  These squash seeds were given to me by a friend that saved them from a squash that she bought from the store a couple years ago.  A row of cucumbers were planted behind the squash to grow up the slanted fence.  However while I was away the cucumbers starting growing along the ground and not up the fence.  It was difficult to bring them back up the fence but hopefully they will get the idea and start climbing the slanted fence.  I had to cut off a couple squash vines that decided to compete with the cucumbers and start climbing up the slanted fence.  

It was a sad day a couple days ago.  I have a 55 gallon barrel sunk down in the spring at Terra Nova Gardens that I pump water out of to water the garden.   Apparently, I didn't get the lid on the barrel tight enough and a raccoon pulled off the lid and fell into the barrel full of water.  I'm not a real fan of raccoons that ravage my garden but I wouldn't be so heartless as to have a raccoon drown from exhaustion trying to get out of a barrel of water.   I buried her on the hill behind the garden.  
The green beans are filled with blooms and look to have a great harvest.  They aren't the only things that are doing well.  The green peppers and egg plants are really doing good this year.  

We  just had a hail storm come through so it will be interesting to see what the damage is tomorrow.  It's always a threat to a garden to have a hail storm.  The hail was about quarter size for about 10 minutes.  I'm hoping that the hail didn't do too much damage.

While away at Las Vegas I set up a automatic watering system to keep the tomatoes and green peppers watered.  It seemed to work really well.  I'm hoping to expand it next year to move raised beds irrigated. The tomatoes this year are a bit behind because of the cold wet Spring.  The plants were extremely over grown by the time they were planted.  I have tomatoes the size of golf balls but won't have any ripe tomatoes until the some time in July.  Every year is so different.  

What's going on in your garden this year?

Have a great 4th of July.  Be well and be a safe.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

A very Productive Week

This has been the first week that the weather has been relatively decent.  Every day has been spent in doing some kind of garden work.  Every thing looks wonderful for the moment and my concentration has been on weed control.  That's always the last thing on the list.  Most time every thing is oriented to critter control.

The harvest of strawberries has begun.  If you can remember the strawberries were eaten to the ground two years ago by deer.  It took an entire year for the surviving five plants to recover from the devastation.
 As you can see they have recovered nicely and are loaded with berries this year.  I don't see any evidence that they have been ravaged by a four legged marauding critter of the night.  The fences seem to be holding and gardening life is good.  Yeah, by the way those small hand full of strawberries were ravenously devoured in about five seconds after the picture was taken.  They were so tasty.  Real strawberries are a taste treat and nothing like the plum sized monster strawberries in the stores.

There's a path in there on the left some where.  One thing I really like about the carpet method of weed control is how easy it is to deal with weeds.  The carpet doesn't eliminate them but greatly slows them down and is easy to weed the area when needed.
It's as easy as rolling up the carpet; cleaning up the few weeds on the sides; and turning the carpet over with the weedy side down.  In about 30 minutes one can go from a weedy mess to completely weed free.
 Big difference, huh.  It's unbelievably easy to accomplish a complete weeding in just a short amount of time completely chemical free.  

I've had one comment about toxic chemicals leaching into my vegetable beds.  This carpet here has been in my garden for going on six years without any sign of deterioration.  My answer to that question is if the material doesn't deteriorate, it can't be leaching much into the soil.  Besides for 50 or more years babies have been crawling around on it, father's have wrestled with their kids on it; people have fallen asleep on it; and I've yet to hear of a single study that says carpets are bad and cause health problems.  Have you?

More to come.  Have a great day in the garden.  If you don't have a garden then find a nice park to spend some time outside.