Sunday, February 12, 2017

Actual Planting will soon Begin 

The famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, came out of his burrow or should I say was dragged out of his burrow and saw his shadow.  Legend has it that if he sees his shadow, then there is six more weeks of Winter left.  Well, Nebraska is about 1200 miles away from where he lives.  That area of the country is getting Winter by the foot of snow.  Here the weather is mild.  It's like 50s and 60s mild.  It is about 20 to 30 degrees above what the normal temperature should be.  

There's a lot of speculation about global climate change.  My own opinion is that climate has been changing for thousands of years.  It's definitely much warmer than when the glacier during the ice age covered most of North America.  The real issue becomes how much is being caused by mankind.  That's a question that will be a topic of discussion for many years to come.

I've been staying busy during the off season.  Hauling is always on the schedule for some one that has a truck.  It's one of the reasons I bought one.  I just like helping people with small projects.  This little truck of mine has hauled more furniture, rocks, sand, compost, mulch, concrete blocks, and tree brush than any other truck that I know.  My Ranger Rick as I call him has been to Las Vegas twice, Canada fishing twice, South Carolina, Texas (Gulf of Mexico) twice, Louisiana, and Many trips to Kansas for gardening shows.  He's 215,000 miles old and still running strong.  Born in 2004, he's covered a lot of territory and still has a lot more to cover.  He, Big Bertha (my chainsaw), and I have been a force to be reckoned with.  Together the dynamic three some has cleaned up a lot of tree carnage from storms.  This year I expect Ranger Rick and I will continue to haul garden and home project materials in a never ending attempt to beautify the world around us.  

I'm down to only one dripping faucet from all the plumbing issues.  I will eventually get around to it or as the Texans say, "I'm fixing to work on it."  I'm sure glad that part of the year's projects are over.

I'll be sliding into gardening real soon and things will be very busy.  I'll try to keep up better with blogging.  I'm even toying with the prospect of videotaping some of my escapades.

What projects do you have in mind for 2017?

Nebraska Dave

Urban Farmer

Friday, January 20, 2017

Finally Gardening begins 

So you ever had those areas that seem to attract junk with the thought of dealing with it later?  Yes, my basement seed starting area was one of those this year.  I decided yesterday to get down there and start cleaning it up.  Card board boxes, wrappings from last year cell starting kits, bits and pieces from small construction projects for the area were all part of the rubble in the middle of the room.  The first order of business was to clear it all out.  I had a 10 foot gutter trough built for the five gallon buckets that had lettuce and radishes growing in last year.  That experiment was a success and I had it in mind to do it again this year but alas Christmas and plumbing issues stole it away from me.
So I decided to modify the gutter to turn it into a seed starting station.  I have enough room for 288 cells.  Leveling and a better hanger for the lights will be next.  Two more lights will be hung over the cell kits.  I have every thing I need to get it done.  Now I just need to muster up the desire and energy.


This is the year for a new phone.  The old phone was so far into the last century that it had no trade in value.  It only took two days for me to figure out how to answer a call.  My daughter and grandson snickered across the room every time I fumbled around with my phone.  You see I was used to poking buttons with the old phone and every thing seems to be a swipe with the new phone.  I've had to retrain all those muscle responses.  So after about three weeks, I have learned every thing I need to know.  I'm sure the phone will do much more than I will ever use.  It's kind of amazing to think that I can hold in one hand held phone more powerful technology than what took the astronauts to the moon.  I now have total access to the entire Internet's knowledge with a simple command of "OK Goggle".

Have a blessed January.  There's another post coming soon.

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year Projects

So let the inside projects begin.  With the toilet not shutting off fixed and the kitchen sink drain leaking fixed, it's time to move on to repairing the washing machine shut off valve.  There are some challenges with this project.

 These shut off valves are old and haven't been turned off in decades.  They have become corroded.  In my experience with this type of valves to put some muscle on them and shut them off is a mistake.  Oh, they will shut off but when turned back on they leak. Then it becomes replace the valve.  That opens up the issue of twisting the pipe in the wall which could lead to breaking the pipe.  Now there's leak behind the drywall.  The first alternative is to always shut off the water to the entire house every time the washing machine needs to be worked on.  Even though that's unhandy, it's the only way to be sure not to disturb the corroded valve and cause unwanted issues.  

These are the parts that will fix the valve issue.  Instead of replacing the valve, I'm just going to put another valve in front of the existing one.  These valves are made different and will not have the shut off issues of the original valves.

Here is the new valves installed with no leaks.  Stage one is complete on the shut off valve replacement.  Now the real transplant needs to be done.  I took down the model, serial number, and stock number of the washing machine to take to the parts place.  The parts guy said it's not on the computer.  This machine is probably 20 years old.  It didn't surprise me that it wasn't in the computer.  So now I have bring in the part to who the parts guy for him to come up with a replacement.  They all kind of work the same and I actually believe I've replaced this one before.

What projects have been keeping you busy these cold Winter days?  Be safe.

Old Nebraska Dave

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Yes, Well, here it is a new year once again. I struggled to stay awake to usher in the New year. Bradley, my 12 year old grandson, made it with abundant energy. After 69 New Years, it just doesn't have the same excitement as when I was younger. So Now we have clean slate for the year. What will be your New Year resolutions? Lose weight seems to be the most popular one in my experience. I'm always competing with weight. I've lost hundreds of pounds over the decades but it seems at the end of each year my weight increases ever so slightly. I guess the inside Winter projects just don't expend enough energy to keep down the tonnage. 

I mostly have given up on resolutions and have plans instead. It gives me the freedom to change the plans at will or eliminate them all together. So what are my plans for the year? I always have way more plans than time to complete them so some come from last year's plans. Many are kind of open ended and will take several years to complete.

1. Continue to develop Terra Nova Gardens. The plans there are to expand the rock lined beds by at least three more. I do want to double the electric fence protected area. It was amazing to see how well the portable electric fence worked last year. That was my greatest success.

2. Work more at bringing my house back into order. Yeah, a lot of hard work for that one. After many years of neglect, I hardly know where to begin. I'll probably start with plumbing. Yes, my favorite thing. Slow running drains, dripping faucets, toilets that don't shut off until the handle is jiggled, clothes washer that drips water when the wash is done, leaky drain pipes under the kitchen sink. Well, you get the idea. Old houses are in a constant state of repair.

3. I really want to write more. Last year was the least amount of blogging for me since I started blogging in 2008. Perhaps I might creep into video some. I have watched hundreds of hours of gardening videos on YouTube over the last three years. Blogging and Vlogging is a good way to keep a record of when things were done.

So here's to an awesome 2017. What are your plans for the New Year?

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer
Omaha Nebraska
GRIT Magazine Blogger

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Yikes it's been too long

Yes, I am alive and well.  The time has slipped away and now it's Winter.  The garden is at rest but the last couple months have whizzed by quickly.  I can't believe it's been three months since my last post.  

I have many plans for the post Christmas months before Spring arrives.  There's 85 days until Spring, 141 days until it's frost free, and 152 days until school is out.  Not that I'm counting.  

Let's see if I can get caught up some.
The potato harvest was fairly good.  I harvested about 20 pounds from eight plants.  For me that's a pretty good harvest.  I'm planting potatoes at Terra Nova Gardens next year so the harvest should be much larger.
The backyard garden and Terra Nova Gardens were cleaned up and put to sleep for the Winter.  The backyard garden always seems to zoom into a weedy mess by the end of the summer.  I think it was four or five yard waste bags of debris to clean out all the beds.  
Half of Terra Nova Gardens has been developed.  Next year four more stone bordered beds will be built.  
The side yard Fall project is half finished.  The was an area that was just a junk, weed, scrub tree infested area.  I finally got inspired and began turning it into a side yard patio.  It will have a twin section built next year to complete the project.  I've wanting to do this for years.

The month of December was spent sending out Christmas cards.  Just printing the letter was a project in itself this year.  Three pages both sides for 90 cards took a lot of ink cartridges.  Every year I say it's the last then through out the year as I run into those that received a card, they say how much they enjoyed it.  So I continue to send them out.  

Have a very Merry Christmas and a 
  Happy New Year

Friday, September 30, 2016

One last gasp of Tomatoes

Finally the Fall weather has arrived.  Last week it was still in the 90s but this week we are back to a normal 70s during the days with 40s and 50s at night.  I had to finally give in and turn on the furnace.  There was a short time for windows to be open at night but now it's too cold and I'm into the sweat clothes for night time sleeping wear.  It's been a funny year for weather and the last week's hot weather gave the tomatoes one last flush before starting to dry up.
As you can see the tomatoes grew up and out of the towers that I built last March.  These were Early Girl tomatoes.  No fertilizer was used and after the dry spell in June no watering was done.  They have produced a huge amount of tomatoes from just seven plants.
 A few days after this harvest about half this amount again was harvested.  I decided to make some tomato soup for Winter dining.
The tomatoes were basically just quartered and cooked down.  The only other ingredients were onions, celery, flour, sugar, and butter.  The recipe is on my blog site under Homestead Recipes.  But for your convenience here's the link.  I cooked them down for about 20 minutes.  Then I drained the liquid into another similar sized pot.  The Nutribullet was used to blend up the soft solids into a puree.  The other ingredients were added and whisked together before putting into canning jars and waterbath sealing for about 30 minutes.
The net result was four quarts of tomato soup and one partial quart for right away consumption.  The procedure from start to finish was about two hours.  Yeah, four quarts doesn't sound like much but I'm the only one that will be eating tomato soup.  No one else likes it.  Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwich makes for a great lunch in my opinion.

I like the cooler weather to preserve the harvest.  The middle of August for canning is just too hot in the kitchen for me so I'm glad to have enough tomatoes for another batch of tomato soup.  Eight quarts should last me the whole Winter.

I've been thinking about the basement gardening again for this winter.  I have some changes which will be in another post but it should give me more space to grow young tender plants for salads.  I'm not sure what exactly to plant yet but it will come soon enough.  Last year I started in December.  It was such a great success, I couldn't eat it all.  But for now the Fall garden cleanup is top priority.  I have to drain down all my water tanks.  The rains provided most of the moisture for the garden this year so irrigation wasn't needed.  

The biggest success, of course, was defeating the raccoons and keeping them out of the sweet corn.  But now they invaded the pumpkin patch and punched a hole in the side of half the pumpkins.  Nothing but the shell was left of those pumpkins.  Apparently they didn't really like the watermelons but the vine borers did.  Gardening is not for the faint of heart.

That's all for now.  Catch up with you later.  Just waiting for the Mother Earth News Fair in Kansas at the end of the month.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Summer Fast Fading Away

The summer is fast sliding in Fall.  The nights are beginning to dip back in the 60s with regularity.  One night was even in the 50s.  That's not to say that 90s could raise an ugly head a time or two before being defeated for the year.  This year has had more 90 degree days than any summer I can remember.  
The tiny little tomato plants that were planted in the tomato towers have grown considerably.  Since this picture was taken the closest two tomatoes have grown up above the tower by at least a foot and are still climbing.  All I've done for these tomatoes is water them with the natural spring water in June.  There's been no special fertilizer and no chemicals for bugs or blight or fungus.  They are awesome.  I've been harvesting a five gallon bucket full of tomatoes every couple days for the last two weeks.  There's way more than I can use and I don't preserve garden vegetables.  I just like to grow them.  I set up a pallet in front of the garden with a free sign on it.  I put all the tomatoes on the pallet and the next day they have all disappeared.  It's my way of giving to the neighborhood.  I have some small pumpkins and watermelons that I'll be doing the same thing with soon. 

The big thing now that the harvesting is in full swing is weed eradication.  The weeds have become monstrous because of the rains that have been falling on the gardens.  I had a light bulb moment this summer and came to the conclusion that not only do I not really like to preserve the harvest and give it all away but I really wasn't into growing the vegetables this year.  Well, what is it then that draws me to the garden.
Yeah, garden design and structure has been my interest this year.  The tomato towers, the sweet corn fortress, the minit water tower, and now the poor man's brick entrance to the garden.   Oh, contrar, this is not the end of the red brick road.  The formal 30 X 30 foot garden area will have all brick pathways.  Maybe not this year and maybe not even next year but some day it will have all six pathways bricked.  The time needed is too much for one year's project.  

Yes, the sweet corn fortress was worth every minute of construction and finally I got to eat sweet corn until I was sick of it.  It was the best sweet corn ever.  Now I know what it takes to keep the raccoons out of the corn.  I was so glad that no raccoons were harmed or killed in the growing of the sweet corn.  I really do need to see if that old freezer in the garage is still operational.  It worked 10 years ago but seriously, it's 30 some years old so I'm not really expecting that it will.  

How has your summer been?