Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer Project 2

The gravity feed watering system is still under construction. I'm working on the secondary storage tanks by the raised beds themselves. The progress will be blogged in a week or two. I'm still figuring out how to get a pipe into the barrel without leaking. The challenge is that the top of the barrel doesn't come off and only a four inch hole to work through. I'm already up to plan "C" and counting.

Here I'm working on a trellis for the Poor Man's Living Patio. It's experimental as always. I want to over head trailing vines by the front door for the secret garden affect coming into the house. Cutting the 2X4s and 1X2s would be the first step in the project. I went with treated lumber except for the 1X2s.

It kind of looks like a ladder doesn't it. It's one vertical side of the trellis. Two are required for the project. Thank God for a cordless drill. It's the best thing ever invented. It gets my vote for the best invention of the last century. I don't care what they say about the Internet. I drilled the holes in the 2X2s so they wouldn't split. Good thing.

To stand up the sides I've used concrete blocks which is my favorite building material. It makes for good solid bases. You can see that it's just a little crooked but that will be taken care of soon. The base consists of three concrete blocks for each side on top of each other. The legs of the sides fit down inside the holes of the blocks. River rock fill around the legs in the bottom two blocks. The top block is filled with tamped down sand. Hopefully that will keep the trellis stable in the strong winds of Nebraska. We have had a test this last weekend with 30MPH winds and nary a sway was detected.

Up goes the top part of the trellis. I finally had to put one side up and then get the step ladder for the other side. It's a good thing the 2X2s were near the end. It made for a perfect support to hold the top while I bored holes through the side and top pieces to bolt them together with 1/4 inch carriage bolts. I don't think it will be falling down any time soon. Well that's the plan anyway.

A funny thing happened while at the Lowe's store. I was loading up concrete blocks when a man comes walking by and asks, "How many of those are you getting?"

"Ten", I say, but "I'd like to get more."

He says, "I have about 30 and their yours if you want them."

"Where do you live?", I ask.

"Oh, on the other side of Elkhorn in King Lake."

"When will you going to be home?"

"I'm headed there now."

"I'll follow you there and thanks a lot."

"No problem."

Anyway I loaded up 27 blocks at a weight of about 1500 pounds in the little truck that could. Ricky, my truck, has a recommended payload of about 500 pounds. I have to tell you he handled it like a trooper. Never a bob or a weave or bottom out and any time on the way home. However, it was a smooth ride without any bumps.

Boring the holes for the carriage bolts with my new drill was a breeze. The old drill I bought back in 1970 on sale for $20.00. I think that it lasted long enough. I'm just not one to get the latest thing because I want it. I'm a firm believer in ware out what you have before buying new. This hot little DeWalt is sweet. It just might be the last drill I have to buy. Certainly if it lasts 40 years like the old one I won't be needing to replace it.

Here's the finished trellis. Well almost finished. The next day I straighten up the sides, put on braces, and filled the blocks with gravel and rock. So now it stands erect square and ready to be covered with sprawling vines. I'm just sitting on the patio and admiring the look of it all so far. I do have a wonderful picture in my mind of how it's going to look. I hope it comes out in reality somewhere close to what I see in my mind's eye.

Time to fire up the grill, invite the neighbors over, and have some good old burgers and brats on the barbie.

All that's left now is the planting of the containers that will house the vining plants to cover the trellis. It's going to be rainy this week so maybe it will be a good time to open up the garage garden shed, mix up some potting mix, and get those containers planted with plants. I have other bulbs to plant in containers too so it could be an all day affair.

May all your gardens grow twice as good as you expect them too. See you soon.

Leave a comment and tell what you have been doing to stay out of trouble.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reflections of days on by

This week was a week of reflections. My Mother-in-law moved from a rented house to a rented apartment. As I mowed the grass for the last time at the house, I couldn't help but reflect on the memories over the five years she had lived there.

The fence that we built was the first major project on the property. It took a couple weeks to plant the posts and install the panels. It was a great addition to the property.

The patio was another addition. She and I sat on this patio and talked about many things happening in the world. We found many solutions to the worlds problems here on this patio, but just couldn't get anyone to listen. Imagine that.

Who could forget the flag pole. When she moved into this house the Land lord had just removed a tree in the front yard. She wanted the flag pole moved from the rented duplex to this house. We dug up the flag pole along with the hardened concrete under the ground, transported it to its new location, and planted it in the ground concrete and all. Of course she wanted it right where the tree had been removed. It was a job to bore a hole down through the root system of the removed tree to set up the flag pole. I've found that everything has a solution. It's just a matter of how much work do you want to do to get it accomplished. So now we begin building memories in the new residence. Anyone ever had reflections of the ending of one thing and the beginning of another?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Gravity Feed automatic watering system Part 1

For some time now .... years .... I've been wanting to use the derelict horse tank left over from Lydia's, my daughter, backyard swimming days to make a gravity feed automatic watering system. This is the year that I got inspired to try to accomplish the project.

The first task is to dig the trench for the foundation layer of concrete blocks. Digging in an urban backyard can be quite interesting. One never knows what treasures will be uncovered in the digging process. It could be a large chuck of concrete, or a golf ball about 1 1/2 feet down, or pieces of toys buried long ago from kids that probably have kids of there own.

The first step is what I call getting the anchor block set. It has to be perfectly level length wise and crosswise. The whole project will be built off of this one block. The trench is dug and packed with a hand packer to get a solid base under the block.

There are easier ways to do this, but this is the least expensive which I'm all about. It's an eight inch square tamper that weighs about 10 pounds. A couple good whacks and the dirt is compacted and ready to see if the block is level.

Oh, yeah, this works for me. It's good both ways and if it wasn't then the task becomes sprinkle and pack dirt on the low end or side of the block. Some blocks seem to fall right in place and others will just be stubborn and won't want to set right.

This is not bad for the first day's work. So far things are coming together just like I planned in my mind. Sometimes that doesn't always happen. What I see in my mind and what the project looks like when completed are not exactly the same.

I think I'm going to sit a spell, gulp down a couple asprin, hit the shower and grab some grub. I just don't think I'm as young as I once was but the good news is that I'm not as old as I will be. See you in the next segment of the project.

Leave a comment about what you think of the crazy notions of Old Nebraska Dave.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gravity Feed Watering System Part 2

Finally after day three the entire first level base has been completed. This first level has to be perfect. I really was a bit nervous when the last block was put in place. The two sides came together with acceptable parameters. I think it might have been off 1/16 inch. That's pretty good considering my amateur ways of doing things.

The next level is just a matter of setting the blocks in place on top of the base level. There's not too much skill involved at all. All looks good so far.

Three levels of height from the anchor block should give me enough pressure to run the drip watering system. Things are really starting to look like this just might work.

Remember I told that the secret is to pack it down, pack it down, pack it down. The final layer of dirt is packed down in preparation for the final layer which will be sand. Even that gets packed down. Most likely next year the tank need to be removed from the base to level it up again. I figure when the 1200 gallon tank is full the weight will be close to five tons.

Sand is a little easier to work with than dirt. It can be leveled and packed to a much better level. The final screed is being completed and the base will be finished. Pretty retaining wall blocks will surround the base later to make it look much more pleasant to the eyes.

The end of the base project meets with my approval. This is after a week of rain and day four of the project. I like the way this is all coming together.

Here's the moment of truth. Let's just see how level is the tank on the base. Hot dog it doesn't get any better than that. I just love it when a plan comes together don't you?

Excellent!! This project will not only water my garden but be home for fish and a water feature. Maybe that will be next year. I just want to want my garden this year. I am even formulating plans for rain barrel water from the roof to gravity feed into this system. One step at a time.

Be sure to leave a comment about what you think of the gravity feed watering system. I think I'm going to sit on the poor man's patio with a nice hot cup of coffee and watch those gainfully employed come home. (grin)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Things are starting to bloom around the urban ranch

Things are starting to bloom around the Urban Ranch. I planted tulip, daffodil, and crocus last fall and they certainly have not disappointed me. I'm not sure what the official name for these tulips are but I call them "Tulips of fire." They are absolutely the best tulips that I have ever had on the ranch.

My black beauty tulips came into bloom right after the tulips of fire started winding down. They are now just about finished but the Iris are starting to come into full bloom. I am in need of reblooming day lilies and have been in hot pursuit of tracking down some for over planting the tulips. I have discovered that day lily roots are referred to as fans and the best I could find was about one dollar a fan. That's just a little more expensive than I thought it would be.

The daffodils certainly were in competition with the tulips. I had a double row of about 60 or 70 of these guys. Their bloom cycle is winding down and I actually dead headed their little shriveled blooms today. They did put on quite the display for the neighborhood for a couple weeks. I want to interplant day lilies in this flower bed to keep the area alive as the daffodils die down in early summer.

Lila has really out done herself this year. As I have said in past posts she has spent her entire life under Old Rose the redbud tree. She has blossomed incredibly well this year with full sun. The aroma is heavenly coming from all those blooms. I guess that’s just the way nature is. The death of one thing is replaced by the rising up of another. It will be wonderful to see how she takes over the Spring beauty display in the absence of Old Rose.

The Iris have just come into bloom. I call these the sea of Iris. I have actually cut a few stems and brought them into the house for decoration. I never got to do that before because of allergies that Dottie, my wife, had. It's a different kind of experience.

Well there you have it. The blooming urban ranch is really out doing itself this year. It's the best year that I've had in many years. I'm thinking the best is yet to come. There will be many projects for the summer. I'm working on one now and will blog about in a few days.