Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Update for Terra Nova Gardens

Progress continues at Terra Nova Gardens.  I discovered today by talking with a neighbor in the area that the tree being cut down is actually a Mulberry tree and not a cotton wood.  The tree is now all cut into chunks.  Some need to be split before being stacked. 

I had time to stake out some of the garden beds and dig one before the snow began.  It appears that this land has been the recipient of dumping for some years.  I have found many vine roots, rocks, chunks of concrete, carpet, and car parts.  That's just in the first 4 foot by 8 foot garden bed.  In another spot, I found a sizable chunk of concrete that will possibly need to be dug out and broken up.  There's many other assets to be recycled on the property such as old tires, big rocks, and four inch trees that could be used for rustic fence rails.

I truly feel like a land owner now.  My first tax assessment came in the mail yesterday.  I paid the whole $10.74 for the year.  Ah, yeah, I could have paid just the first half year of taxes but I thought, "I'll just be a big spender and pay the whole thing at once." 

Finally all the parts for the seed starting station have been bought and assembly began.  With only a few interruptions from Bradley, the station was completed.  Now the timer will be plugged into wall socket where the extension cord is plugged.  I've heard there needs to be a little wind on the growing plants to make the stems strong instead of spindly and leggy so I will get a small clip on fan to provide the gentle wind.  The seed starting station is not too fancy, didn't cost much, is adjustable, and can easily be expanded.  The lighting is two 4-foot shop florescent lights with four sunlight bulbs.  I wanted a four bulb fixture but really $30 was a bit much so I bought two 2-bulb lights at $9 each.  It works just as good maybe better.  I'll put an old towel under the heat mat to help it work a little better.  These shelves are three foot in length.  I could have bought four foot shelves but it would have been a little tight to get to the furnace so I decided to purchase a six foot shelf and cut it in half, which was cheaper anyway, giving an extra foot for furnace maintenance.

Granny blessed Bradley with the most awesome Christmas present.  Well that's according to him anyway.  This is a Lego Kreo Megatron Transformer.  There's 346 parts with an instruction book of 105 steps to assemble the awesome Transformer.  The above picture is two hours into the construction at step number 25.  Below is five hours into the assembly with the completion of step 68.  Woo hoo over half finished.  I expect another 3 or 4 hours of pure grand pop and grandson bliss.  Well, actually it is kind of fun seeing his excitement as he assembles Megatron.  It's team work.  I find the parts and Bradley assembles them.  Actually he's pretty good at it.  He's much faster at assembling than old grand pop is at finding the parts.

The weather is finally getting colder well for a couple days at least.  Back in the 40s by the weekend.  I should be able to do some more surface clearing at Terra Nova Gardens by next week.  Yesterday was a volunteer day at a local non profit organization.  Plugging some floor holes where water pipes used to go to the steam radiators before the hot air furnace retrofit happened.  Today just a coast day.

Have a great day everyone and I'll catch up with ya later.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Update for Terra Nova Gardens

It's time for an update on Terra Nova Gardens. A lot has happened since the last post. I've actually got the deed in my possession. Once again it was a little disappointing to see the actual deed. I mentioned in the last post about how unsatisfying the non signing of the final action of acquiring the property was. Well, the deed was just a piece of regular printer paper basically giving information as to where the property was located and to whom it belonged. The Notary Public stamp was not even embossed. It was just a stamp. I guess I was just expecting a little more flare. Oh, well, I can get started with some real work now. It's going to be a long process to bring this property under production. Since the weather has been so warm I've been able to start work much sooner than I expected. I first have to start with a story about a man I met on the first day working at Terra Nova Gardens. I have nothing but hand tools so armed with a rake, small branch loppers, and a shovel, I started the daunting task of cleaning out the first year's area for gardening. Along came curious Larry. He has a son that lives right across the road. Larry is an old (85 year old) construction worker that basically drives the neighborhood looking for conversation. We struck up a conversation and I explained that I had plans for a garden on this property. After a few more minutes of conversations, he indicated that we could get some fuel for his machine, as he called it, and he could scrape all the those weeds off the property. He never would quite say how much he would charge and always dodged the question. So for the good sake of the being a good neighbor so to speak, I agreed that he could help. I really didn't know what to expect. We climbed in his old beater truck and drove to the gas station for off road diesel fuel. He used his machine (medium sided Bobcat) and worked for about an hour scraping off the weed, vines, and scrub brush. After the process was finished, I asked how much I owed him. He said, "How about 20 bucks." After I got over the shock of how cheap it was, I couldn't get the money out of the wallet fast enough. Now it seems that I've made a friend for life as he has made it his mission to watch my property to made sure no one will be messing around with it.

It looks a lot better since the weeds and debris have been scraped off. I have been able to get a better look at the ground. I thought the water issue would be not enough but it seems that the issue just might be too much. There are several wet spots on the property. The soil in these spots is black mucky sticky dirt. However, with raised beds I should be OK and probably will have to do much less watering that I had first expected. I've talked with several neighbors, who probably think I'm a crazy old coot, and have discovered some history of the area. It seems that this area was a river bottom at one time in the early 1900s until they confined the Missouri river to it's current channel. The water table is high here and my friend Larry said it would take less than ten foot to hit as much good water as I wanted. So my spring up behind the other cottonwood tree, which is called in this neighborhood a sink hole, just might supply a goodly amount of water if nurtured in the right way. Since I am massively ahead of schedule, I decided to cut down part of an old cottonwood tree that would fall right in my gardens should it decide to do that. As it turned out the tree had a hollow core and most assuredly would at some time fallen in my garden area. Armed with big Bertha, my chainsaw's name, and all the technical support things that must go with a chainsaw, I started the task of cutting down the 50 foot tree. After about three hours of nibbling around the base of the tree and many coffee breaks the first crack was heard and the tree moved about a half an inch. From then on it was give that notch a little buzz and stand back and listen for more cracks and movement. After three more buzz and runs, the tree let out a major crack and moved another inch. Two more little nibbles at the back side relief cut and the tree crashed to the ground right where I hoped it would fall. For the next two days a friend of mine and I sawed away at the tree slowly but surely getting it down to the bare trunk.

It doesn't look too scary now does it? You can see over on the left side a branch that was buried into the ground when the tree fell. You will see it better when you view the video. I worked on getting that branch out of the ground for about an hour and a half. I dug a two foot hole around the branch and it still went deeper in the earth. I finally just fired up big Bertha and cut the branch off two foot under the ground and covered up the stump. One thing I did discover was the the dirt had a rich black look and had good texture to it. In most parts of our city the top soil is a little anemic and is only about 6 inches deep at most then a hard pan clay soil goes on forever. Here as I dug the two feet down the soil remained the deep rich black earth. It had a few chunks of small rock in it but all the better for drainage.

If you made it this far and are still with me, then here's a video tour of how Terra Nova Gardens look today. I hope you are enjoying the reclamation of Terra Nova Gardens.

As the sun sets behind the trees, the light grows dim, and the turkeys come to roost high in the trees above Terra Nova Gardens ever watchful for any suspious activity as the nocturnal critters creep out to see what has happened to their world. Tune in next time for another episode of how Terra Nova Gardens is evolving. Leave a comment to tell me what you think. Have I really jumped off the deep end into the deep dark depths of a sink hole or is there hope for this vision?

(Muttering to myself as I walk away from the computer with voice trailing off) Oh man, I'm just not as young as I used to be. Where is that bottle of Alieve? I sure could use a hot tub right now. Aw that hot shower and coffee will really feel good tonight. (big sigh) It was a great day. I'm going to just sit down here in the recliner for a minute. (big yawn) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz