Monday, June 25, 2012

Different Lawnmower for Urban Ranch
One of the benefits of helping folks to move is being the recipient of good stuff.  A retired co worker decided to move to Colorado to be nearer to relatives and because he just likes it there.  He has in mind never to mow grass again and just have landscaped yards.  His lawnmower of the 1980s vintage was in better shape than my tired old Craftsman with no self propulsion and wobbly wheels.
Honda Lawnmower
Now I've never operated a rear wheel drive lawnmower.  The sign said easy start.  Yeah, been there before so I was a little skeptical.  Imagine my suprise when it started on the first pull and it was easy to pull.  The speed lever had two speeds turtle slow and rabbit fast.  Since I'm an old Grandpa I selected turtle slow and threw the bar forward to engage the rear drive.  Immediately the mower lurched forward at fast rabbit speed.  The front wheels popped up in the air.  Yes, I popped a wheelie with the mower.  I managed to hang onto the handle and catch up with the mower about half way to the back fence at which time I noticed the mower wasn't cutting the grass.  Upon farther inspection, another lever was found to engage the cutting blade.  I also found that the turtle slow speed didn't work and only the rabbit fast speed worked no matter what was selected on the speed handle. 

So, blade engaged, one two three, get ready, engage the rear drive and off we roared (mower and me) toward the back fence.  Closer and closer to the back fence we came.  Finally action was needed to turn around.  Yeah, I'm used to front drive and all that's needed is to push down on the handle and lift the font wheels off the ground to turn around.  That doesn't quite work with rear drive.  The Honda mower climbed half way up the fence before the handle slipped out of my hands and everything shut down.  The mower slowly coasted backwards and set all the wheels on the ground, the blade disengaged, and the motor sat purring along as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened.

By the time the front and back yards were mowed we were getting along much better.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

New picnic table for Terra Nova
Terra Nova Gardens has a new addition.  The neighbor that lives next to me had a picnic table that fell victim to a large tree branch that broke and fell from a tree in his back yard.  It broke the seat and twisted the frame.  He donated it to the garden.  I removed the broken wood.  With a plumbers torch and a pipe, the twisted frame was heated and bent back into place.  New wood on the frame made the table good as new.  The area that Terra Nova Gardens resides is not a very good part of town and anything that is left sitting around will most likely disappear. Like a nice picnic table. :0)  So I devised a plan to maybe won't keep it from getting stolen but at least make them work for it.  Real hard.  It definitely won't be a back up the truck and load it up job.
Block with anchor ready for concrete

The first thing that was completed was the earth anchors screwed down into the dirt, then the U bolt over the table frame was loosely fastened to the earth anchor.

Concreted U-Bolt

Now the concrete block was filled with concrete.  So the anchor is in the dirt connected to the U-Bolt which is concreted to the concrete block.  Yeah, that ought to slow them down when they try to steal the table.  Each of the four frame legs of has this anchoring method.

Picnic Table for Terra Nova

There's the end product with the patio started under the table.  The patio will cover the concrete blocks and keep the anchoring from showing.  Imagine the surprise if someone backs up a truck thinking a quick snatch and steal will get them a nice picnic table.

Have a great day in the garden.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Forever waves of grass
Terra Nova Gardens has been over run with waving grass.  I have found the solution but it will take awhile to accomplish.  The neighbor that planted the potatoes and watermelon has a lawn business and volunteered to mow down the prairie grass as I call it.
Carpet on the Garden
My solution for weed control is carpet on the garden.  I have the only carpeted garden in the city.  It's just like a thick weed barrier and the apartments are glad to be rid of it when they tear it out.  About three weeks will kill every thing under the carpet.  After three weeks then I move it to another spot and start over.  The left side with carpet strips have sweet corn growing between the strips.  I have moved some of the strips to the bare patch you can see in the back and planted it to sweet corn as well.  Slowly, I will work my way out to the road.
A peek under the carpet
You can see the carpet has indeed killed every thing and the ground is ready to plant.  The carpet strips were moved to the right and three more rows of corn were planted.  The grass was mashed down and the large pieces of carpet were moved to cover those areas.  The carpet can not remain on the ground permanently because it will attract bugs and snakes both of which I don't really like.  I know snakes are good bug eaters for the garden but they are just too sneaky for me.  Any thing that creeps around and scares the bejebers out of me has to go.  Once the area has been cleansed of weeds and the corn gets up about six inches the next section will be covered.  As corn grows and shades the ground the weeds will not be a problem so the carpet will be rolled up and stored for next year.
The pumpkins are taking over

The pumpkins are the star of the garden right now.  They are growing by leaps and bounds.  I've only splashed water on them a couple times and that's it.  The hay mulch from my cousin is really working great to keep the weeds under control in this area.  Hopefully next year I will have the entire garden covered in mulch.  It's amazing how three weeks in a garden will change the whole look of it.

Potatoes in tires
The potatoes in the tires are really looking swell.  My neighbor wants to expand the potato patch next year and add more potatoes.  I really love the way this garden is coming together with a little help from my friends and neighbors.

The picnic table that the neighbor next door has donated is nearing rebuild completion.  A couple more bolts and a check to make sure all bolts are tight and it will ready to be placed in a convenient spot at Terra Nova Gardens.  Terra Nova Gardens has become the topic of conversation when they see me.  It's really great to have a positive thing going on in such a negative world.

The tomatoes are really starting to grow and have lots of blooms.  The bell peppers just seem to be getting started.  They are not as peppy as they should be.  My friends cabbage, eggplant, and tomalitos are twice the size of when he planted them a couple weeks ago.  He has been working on the bottom of the fence make it critter tight.  I really like how he's doing it.  He became acquainted with the dreaded nettle weed and had to quit working on it for awhile.  I really believe that the young and tender nettle weeds produce a stronger and longer burn.  I can remember getting into the nettles as a kid and they would burn for a time but it would be over in a couple minutes.  Not so for these wild nettles.  A slight brush up against one of these nettles and fingers are still numb a couple hours later.  I've heard tea can be made from dried nettle leaves but I haven't been brave enough to try that.

I planted the zucchini today in hopes to thruart the dreaded vine borer.  I read that planting very late in the season will circumvent the egg laying cycle of the vine borer.  So we will see what happens.  It could be an explosion of zucchini fruits.

When life has got you down and it seems that the whole world is crashing around you, spend some time in the garden.  My world crashed this week with two major car repairs and now the kitchen sink is plugged up.  So I ran off and spent the day in the garden and I'm better now. ..... But the sink is still plugged.  Oh well maƱana (tomorrow).

Have a great day in the garden.