Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bradley's Fort and first Tomato
It's nearing completion.  Just another day or two and the project of Bradley's fort will be a done project  just in time for his return.  Only the roof and ladder remain to be completed.  All the neighbors are amazed at the building of it but it was really just a simple small porch kind of plan.  Hopefully it will last many years for not just Bradley but his kids as well.  Any of the parts can be replaced relatively easy if they should need replaced.  It is turning out really good.  Bradley returns home a week from today.  He doesn't have a clue that old grandpop has been busy building him a fort up high in the sky.

This picture was taken just five days before consumption.  They ripened fast.

Oh yeah, this is the day that's been in waiting for a long time to enjoy. The warm weather plants were tenderly planted that May Friday the 12th with great anticipation of the first harvest of the season which was two months away. Mulching, watering, weeding all took place as the plants grew in stature, then began to blossom, and set fruit. Each day the anticipation grew as the harvest came nearer and nearer. Today, was the infamous first bite of juicy flavor filled backyard home grown delicious tomatoes. Two were harvested and immediately sliced up with cucumbers and onions which were made into a delightful tomato salad. Aaaaaah, it was worth the wait. More delightful delicacies will be ripening soon. The rain last night will help with replenishing the much needed water in the rain water tank and giving the garden a boost. The official garden Van Camp bean can rain gauge says my garden has received about an inch and a quarter over the last couple days. May you all be as fortunate with rain and harvest as the urban, bio intensive, vertical growth, experimental garden as been this week.

Have a great day in the garden or project building everyone.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bradley's Fort part 2

Well folks here is the fort almost fully built.  Now all that must be done is get it up on top the white elevated structure you see faintly in the back ground on the right side of this picture.  I've only tacked it together with a couple screws in each wall corner just to hold it together temporarily until I get the floor painted and strapped down to the elevated structure.

The tomatoes have not started turning yet but I suspect it won't be long before the urban ranch's kitchen counter will be filled with tomatoes on a daily basis.  What I don't give away I just can and use for soups later in the winter.  Yummm!!

The cucumbers have started to produce.  I suspect it will be a large harvest of cucumbers this year.  I've already started giving them away as fast as I can.  I want to make some dill pickles for Bradley but I think I better try just a few this year and see if he likes them before getting into full production.  I will try a few quarts to see how they turn out.  The cucumber on the right side of the counter is an English cucumber for sandwiches.  A friend of mine asked if I could grow a couple plants for her.  Well, I hope she likes them as they seem to be very productive.

You can see that the cucumbers are trying to take over the garden.  They have reached the top of the eight foot structure that I built for them to climb.  One vine has gone a courting to the pretty little bush next door.  It has crawled up the chain link fence and across the top rail of the fence and intwined with the bush on the right of this picture.  I'm not too sure about what the result will be but maybe a new type of bush cucumber is in the making.  What do you think?

Sorry I haven't been more frequent at blogging but the back yard calls and days of summer are quickly slipping away.

May all your gardens be watered with fresh rain water when needed.  May all your projects be finished before the summer ends.  May you all stay in good health all the days of summer.  If you can't stay cool then stay hydrated.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bradley's Fort

Bradley, my grandson that lives with me, is gone visiting his Dad for the month of July.  During his time away I have decided to built him a fort in the back yard.  He doesn't know that I am building it and hopefully it will be a great surprise when he returns.  Many years ago I built a eight foot high platform out of four inch PVC sewer pipe to aid in painting the house.  For 7 years it has stood silently beside the house not being used for anything.  I thought that this structure would be perfect to use for the elevated base to a fort built high in the sky for the boys of the neighborhood.  I thought that if I can get Bradley and his pals to hang out in the backyard, then I'll always know where he is and be able to watch what's going on with him.
The first order of business is to be sure the foundation for the fort structure is solid.  Holes were dug four foot down into the ground to have the structure a solid base to stand upon.  You can see here the bottom of the PVC structure and one of the tubes that will be fit down into the hole and be filled with concrete.  It was kind of a hot sweaty day when I started this project but my anticipation was at a high level.  The project will require steady work to be completed before August 5th when Bradley returns.

After digging the holes and filling them with concrete, mixed by hand in a wheel barrow, the base of the elevated support structure is set in place.  Here you can see the 5 1/2 inch carriage bolts that were pressed down into the wet concrete to hold the structure to the concrete base pillars that go into the ground.  Three rebar rods were pressed into the drying concrete in each hollow vertical leg of the support structure base.

The elevated support structure is completed.  A total of 14 bags of concrete has gone into the pillars in the ground and the vertical legs of the structure.  That's way over a yard of concrete and weighs in at about 1500 pounds.  I suspect that this structure will be standing long after Bradley has moved on in life.  Maybe the great grand kids will be able to enjoy it after old grand pop is long gone as well.  Building for future generations to come.

Today will begin the actual building of the fort walls.  It's been a labor of love so far and I can't wait to see the look on  Bradley's face when he gets back home.

Have a great day all and leave a comment to tell me what you think about the project.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Life is good on the Urban Ranch
Hey everyone things have been growing on the Urban Ranch by leaps and bounds. As you can see the trellis is a great success this year. It makes a great difference to grow shade plants on the trellis. The drip watering helps too. It was a great addition. It makes for a great place to just sit and relax after a day working in the yard and garden.
One of the projects that I'm involved with is the swingset that the neighbor gave to Bradley, my grandson. His kids are too old for the swingset and he thought it would be a great idea to tell Bradley that he could have it. Well, it actually was a great addition to the back yard and was is fairly good shape. Here you can see the condition of the cross bars after the boys have climbed and jumped on the bars. Sixty five pounds of active boy on a skinny cross bar doesn't work too well. Ah well what's a grandpa to do?Grandpa's fix was to make cross bars out of the top bar of a chain link fence. The test was to let the neighborhood boys climb on the bar to their heart's content. It passed the test of the sixty five pound boys. The swingset is now concreted into the ground and the horse has been installed back on the swingset. Yesterday Bradley and I went to the home improvement store and bought new swings and a set of rings to hang on. All that's left now is to repair the glider and the slide. That shouldn't take too long. The backyard is already the place to hang out for the boys of the neighborhood. Actually, I kind of like that idea. At least I can see where they are and what they are doing.Mornings are spent in the garden just enjoying the view and morning cup of coffee. It's becoming a morning ritual. It's amazing how the garden changes in just a couple days. This picture is about a week old and already the garden looks quite different. The tomatoes are beginning to grow green tomatoes, the green peppers have buds on them, the potatoes are blooming, and the cucumbers are growing toward the top of the support structure. The spring salad garden is done but the GRIT magazine garden software says that I can replant the lettuce and radishes now for the fall. I am thinking it's a little early and might wait until the end of July before plant the fall salad garden. What do you think?
Here's a full view of garden. The new blue water barrel is in place. It is a 50 gallon barrel that replaced the 35 gallon black barrel. It works better since I can take off the top and clean it when neccessary. The water spigot can be attached much better by being able to get inside to tighten up the nut on the inside of the barrel. I have two more blue barrels for garden expansion. Right now I have five garden beds but plan to expand by one or two more before the summer is over. However, the expansion will require the removal of the bush you can see on the far end. Ah, well, I used to dealing with roots to accomplish projects.
Bradley, my grandson, is leaving to visit his Dad for the month of July. While he is gone I plan on building a fort which will be about 6 feet up in the air. It will be a surprise when he returns home. I figure it will be a good welcome home surprise. That should definitely make the backyard a place for the boys to hang out.
Until the next time have a great day in the garden and keep those projects in progress.