Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Terra Nova Gardens Post
Yes this is yet another post on the Terra Nova Gardens.  I can't help it.  My imagination is running wild with anticipation.  Can you tell?  These two properties together would be almost an acre of land which would net, after a major clean up, about half to two thirds of an acre to turn into gardens.  That would be more than enough to keep me  busy and out of trouble for many years to come.  Don't you think? 
You may have to click on the picture to get a bigger view of the properties.  As you can see there are many trees.  The left road in the picture has a major bank that drops down to the flat part of the property.  I'd say that the usable part of the property is about half.  The rest on the left of the property will be left in trees to hold the bank together.  The bank is about a 45 degree climb which may require a stairway in the future project plans.

Here's a little higher up view of where the property is situated.  You can see that it's surrounded by city but yet kind of isolated from the city.  The property lines in this picture are both properties.  The one that's mine and the one that will be in foreclosure soon.

Here's a closer look at the properties.  I have marked where the turkeys were and if you click on the picture you can get a bigger picture.  You can see why I'm concerned about them crossing the road.  It's a major thoroughfare and I wouldn't want anything to happen to Tom and his girls.

It's difficult to decide what to do first when spring comes.  Now I have to rethink my backyard gardens as well.  That will have to be more immediate vegetable gardening fresh for the table.   The storage and give away will come from Terra Nova Gardens.

I know that some of you have exciting plans as well or at least plans that will require lots of work.  I better start going back to the gym this winter to strengthen up for the coming year.

Well that's all for now.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Terra Nova Gardens
The new property (Terra Nova Gardens) paperwork is moving along.  We are now into the final phase of the process.  The owner has not responded to the pay up notice so now the title is being cleared of all the liens and back taxes.  This should take about another 30 days.  It's almost 100% assured that I'll have the deed by January or maybe by Christmas.  What a present that would be.

Bradley and I drove out to the property today because I had made some discoveries a couple days ago and I wanted to get some pictures of what I had found.

I discovered that a flock of wild turkeys had taken up residence on the property just north of mine.  There is one magnificent tom and about 20 hens.  I walked over all the properties all the way to the fence.  Most of the rest of the properties belongs to the city. This property with the Turkeys on it will come into foreclosure in January and would be a great addition to the one I have.  It's cheaper, bigger, and would require a lot more work to clean up.  Two major cottonwood trees would have to come down to open up the property to allow gardens to get sunshine.  In addition to the two cottonwoods there are many downed trees and four inch sapling trees to clean out.  It would, however, made the property a tad short of one acre of land.  What you see in the above picture would be left in woods as it begins the steep climb to the top of a bank which needs to have the trees to prevent erosion.

Here's a little better picture of Tom and his harem.  He is a magnificent bird.  For a fleeting moment I thought, "Thanks giving dinner", but then the thought left.

Another shot of this beautiful bird.  They had actually climbed up the steep bank and were now across the busy highway in a small patch of  brush cover.  Cars were stopping along the road just look at the flock of wild turkeys in the midst of the city.  Now I expect I'll have to find out what to plant in my gardens to feed the flock.  I wouldn't mind having them hang around.  Hopefully, they will become accustomed to me being there and working the gardens and not cross the busy road any more.

Here's Bradley, my grandson, standing about half way up the bank.  He tried to climb to the top but it got too steep and he didn't make all the way up to the top.  His first visit to Terra Nova Gardens in his words, "Grandpa this is awesome but it looks like a tornado hit this place."  Don't you just love the uninhibited truth that kids speak?

The second discovery was this very wet spot.  I found several other bigger spots like this one including one that flowed water under the road through a culvert.  That one belongs to the city and I seriously doubt that I could buy that property.  Since we have not had any rain for about three and a half weeks, I suspect these spots are natural springs.  I may have to rethink the water issue.  Most folks would think this is just an old mud hole but I on the other hand thought it was a remarkable find.  I just have to figure out a way to utilize it for watering Terra Nova Gardens.  I took samples of the water and soil to be tested by the county extensions service to see just what the issues, if any, there are.

As you can probably tell I am quite excited about the purchase of the property and hopefully but this time next year it will look quite different.

Have a great day.  What are your plans for gardening next year?
Last Garden Harvest and Working on the Patio

Hi everyone. Thanksgiving once again has passed us and for me it was a time for reflection on the past year and thinking about all the things that I have to be thankful that are in my life. Because of a recent event, I reflected much on how grateful I am to have had such wonderful parents. It's so sad that many kids of today's generation will not experience the love of parents as I have. The normal stuff such as food, clothes, shelter are other things that I am grateful to have. I can't ever remember going hungry unless I wanted to go hungry in my life. I've always had a car since I was 15 years old. I've been able to purchase and maintain a house since the early 70s. I have truly been a blessed man.

I am thankful for the health that I have because without health I could never be able to do what I feel is my calling in life, which is helping others in need. I am thankful for the family and friends that support me during the down times and rejoice with me during the good times. I am especially thankful for my blogger friends that I have acquired over the course of the last couple years. You are the best encouragers ever.

What are you thankful for?

The last of the harvest came on October 21st. The tomatoes were small compared to earlier in the year but with the weird weather they just kept getting smaller as the year progressed. The green peppers started out slow and really didn't start producing until the hot weather of July was over. Then they kicked in and produced prolifically until the cold weather killed the plants. This batch of green peppers now resides in the freezer to be consumed when the cold winds of winter are blowing outside.

Mesclun salad mix still surviving after several mid 20s night time temperatures. I am starting to like the tough rugged nature of this salad mix. Chuck informs me in one of my comments from the post about the Mesclun salad mix that a Mesclun salad goes for $10 in Chicago. I've eaten at least a $100 worth of salad and as you can see it hasn't put a dent in the plants. It appears that there are four different plants in this mix. I have no idea what their names are but here's a picture of the different plants.

Now you probably will be saying, "Hey I only see three salad leaves and one carrot." You would be correct. The fourth plant in the salad mix is the normal yellow leaf lettuce that I'm accustomed to seeing. Unfortunately there were only two plants and I ate them. The calendar says that the carrots should be ready but as you can see they are just a bit small. They are quite tasty though. The leaf on the left by the carrot just looks mean and tough doesn't it. It's the one that seems to be the bully of the mix and has taken over almost entirely. Ha, I suppose it's the one that has the most nutrition. I keep eating as much salad as I can until the cold temperture finally puts an end to the experiment. I would count the Mesclun Salad mix experiment a great success .... well that is after I finally got over the weed look of it. My family and friends couldn't believe that I would actually eat such a nasty looking thing. It just proves the old saying to not judge a book by the cover or in this case a plant by its looks.

Ok, let's move on to the backyard patio. I've been attempting to get as much done as I can before the extreme cold weather and snow set in. Some will remember the slow progress I made during the spring and summer months. It seems that things have a way of getting me side tracked. There has been a little bit of a set back in the progress but nothing that will keep it from being finished .... eventually. :0)

Two years ago a retaining wall was built for a friend of mine who was selling her house and needed some curb appeal. About 30 blocks were left over from that project and took up residence in my side yard. Being the conservative minded guy that I am (cheap), I thought it would be just the thing to use for the retaining wall of my backyard patio. So the first layer was dry fitted on the buried concrete block foundation. After the dry fit, the blocks were removed one at a time, the top of the foundation was cleaned with a wire brush, construction adhesive was applied, and the block was set in place. Twenty four blocks for the first layer were glued in place. A trip to Menard's was supposed to be to gather up about 25 more blocks to make another layer but instead it only brought disappointment when the blocks needed to match the others had been discontinued and the replacement blocks were not compatible. So I had to pull up the other glued down blocks and replace them with the new design. The old blocks will be used for the fire ring so it won't be a total loss.

So life goes on at the Urban Ranch. Things get built, progress is made, and all is well with my soul.

I would be interested in hearing about any projects that you have in progress.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where has Nebraska Dave been?

Well, folks it's with a sad heart I write this post today. Two weeks ago my sister called with a message that our Dad of 87, who fought the good fight against bladder cancer all summer was beginning to slowly deteriorate. The cancer was in remission but the chemo and radiation wore down his strength.  She suggested I come for a visit. He lives in Las Vegas and I live in Nebraska. My daughter and grandson decided to tag along to see their grandpop. Upon arrival we were told that he had taken a turn for the worse and was now in a semi comatose state. When we arrived at the Long Term Care facility, I immediately went to his room and talked to him. He opened up his eyes and looked at me intently for five minutes as I talked, then closed his eyes. It was to be the last conversation I had with him. Five days later he passed away peacefully.

Dad started his life in a small town in Nebraska and lived all his youth years on a farm. His school education was 9th grade but he just had a way of knowing how to fix things, build things, or come up with solutions for a problem. He was a self taught truck mechanic and had his own business for over 20 years. He retired at 55 and moved to Las Vegas where he and Mom worked as trailer park managers for many years. His attitude for positive living influenced all those that knew him and his humor kept all entertained. He was indeed my hero and a great Dad.

While in Las Vegas I took Bradley fishing at a small stocked city pond close to my Dad's long term care facility. We didn't catch any fish but he had a good time throwing out the plastic fish and reeling it back in. The weather was good most of the time but one day it did rain .... well, they call it rain. It got the street wet. They have a term there they call dry rain. That's when it actually rains but because the temperature is so hot it evaporates before it hits the ground. That happens during the summer hot months.

There's not been much activity with projects or gardening the last couple weeks. All that's left to do is to dig up the potatoes. The broccoli and carrots are not going to reach maturity but the Mesclun salad greens are still growing like weeds. (pun intended). I haven't heard anything from the new property yet but I expect to hear something any day now.

My daughter was in a car accident right before we left for Las Vegas. Someone cut across three lanes of traffic on the Interstate and then slowed way down. She was able to get slowed down but the car behind her didn't. The car hit her so hard that neither the trunk nor the two back doors could be opened. It blew out the back window as well. It's a blessing that Bradley was home with me as he would have been in the back seat. Now we have to go car hunting. I'd rather take a whipping in the town square than buy or sell a car or a house. I'm just not good at wheeling and dealing. It's a good thing that I have a friend in the car business. Oh, yeah, Lydia had a few bumps and bruises but she was OK.

Remember the storage room project of last winter? Well, it's about time to start working on that project again. Maybe, just maybe I can get it finished this year. :0) I still have hopes of working on the backyard patio project but the weather is starting to get cold with the threat of freezing rain and snow. So it's time to move the working projects inside for the winter. Does anyone else have winter projects planned? It's only about a month until the first of the seed catalogs come out. That's always a joyous time for me. How about anyone else? Which seed catalogs do you like and order from?

I've been working on the GRIT garden planner program for the new Terra Nova Gardens property. Whoa, I can have a lot of garden beds there. The beds will be 4'X8' but without board or rock borders. They will be raised just by natural tillage. I will have four foot pathways between the beds. Each row of beds will be six deep so for every 32 feet I can have 18 beds. The area in the video that's flat is about 50 or 60 feet wide. I can have about 35 to 40 beds without too much hard work. I want to work on some other things before get into gardening on that scale. A ten by ten patio in the back of the beds with a simple fire ring will be one of the first things on the list to be able to burn the brush and weeds.

Then there is the water issue. I see another gravity feed system in the planning stage. I have a source to acquire 55 gallon barrels that could be ganged together and store as much water as I wanted to store. I would put the barrels as high on the back bank of the property as I dare without being visible from the street. That would give me at least a 45 to 50 foot drop to the gardens. That should give me a good amount of hose pressure just from gravity. Water for the garden would have to be hauled. I figure my little Ford Ranger (Ranger Rick) would be able to haul 110 gallons at a time. At 8.34 pounds per gallon for water it would be about 917.4 pounds which is about the load limit for Ricky. If I pull off the road on the street above the bank, gravity would feed the water into the barrels for the garden watering.

Where would the water come from? I will be beefing up the rain water system from my house. The total roof area is 800 square feet and with a possible .62 gallon per square foot rain collection for every inch of rain, it would be a total of 496 gallons for every inch.

Whew, big plans with a lot of work. I expect this will be a work in progress for the rest of my life. What do you think? I haven't even thought about the fruit trees, berry bushes, or bee hives yet. My mind is spinning with the possibilities.

I really need to go now. I need a coffee break after thinking about all that work. Ya'll have a great fall in the yard and garden.