Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fences are being built
I've been working on building a fence at Terra Nova Gardens.  I've been in the lumberjack mode.  Several sapling trees have sacrificed there existance to become the rail fence along the road of Terra Nova Gardens.
Rail fence at Terra Nova Gardens
It's actually starting to look like some gardening might happen there this year.  It's taken a couple days but the fence is coming right along.

The mystery plants have grown since the last post and have definitely been identified as common daylilies which I understand are some what invasive.  Great another challenge.  Just what I need.  I'm going to try to tame the wild common invasive daylilies and keep them corraled around the outside of my fenced in garden area.  In the back wooded area you can see that it's greening up.  However, I'm pretty sure it's all nettle weeds.  I'm going to try to keep the perimeter weed whacked as much as I can and let the trees shade out the rest. I hope.
Old Tom strutting his stuff
Old Tom is looking good.  He's the Tom that's on the top of the pecking order.  There are three other Toms but this one is definitely the king.  He spent almost an hour strutting around in front of the ladies while I worked on the garden yesterday.  The ladies didn't really seem to be too interested yet.  According to the neighbors living in the area that usually comes around May.  It will be kind of interesting to see little gobblers scampering around the area.  Or maybe not when they start eating everything.

Well, that's what I've been doing this week.  How about you?  What's been happening in your life this week?

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring has Sprung
All the signs of Spring are upon us.  The sun shines brightly with soil warming rays; the birds are tweeting their hearts out; the squirrels are getting very frisky; and the spring flowers are starting to bloom.  The last sign of spring is when I hear the lawn service neighbor's mowers fire up.  It sounds like a swarm of airplanes warming up their engines for take off.  Oh, yeah, it's spring and I'm loving it.

Daffodils Rule
The daffs are putting on quite the display this year.  The tulips are budded up and most likely will pop any day now.  Some time after the two flowers strut their stuff the Iris around the corner will start their claim to fame.  Aaaah, I love this time of the year.

I tried to plant some seeds today.  I got a few carrots and four Swiss Chard planted before the rains came.  It's another misty day just like the last rain we had.  I would like to see a good rain to start the filling process for my main water supply tank for the the gardening watering.  The very small amount of rain we had a week ago only put one inch in the tank.  When it's full it boasts 24 inches of water right at 400 gallons.  It takes about five inches of rain to fill it up.  During the summer months about one inch a day is used for watering the plants.  So almost a month's watering can be stored in the main tank. 

However, this year the plan is to add a water fountain to help keep the algae down and the best part, according to my grandson, will be to add fish to the tank.  We will just catch some fish from our local lakes to add to the tank which is another thing that grandson Bradley thinks is awesome.

Terra Nova Gardens is coming along.  The main gate to the garden has been erected; the entire garden area has been plowed and smoothed out with a disc; the utilities have been marked; and the spots for the post holes have been staked. 

Main Garden Gate
Here's a shot of Terra Nova Gardens before the plowing and discing.  It doesn't look much different except for the protruding wild grape vines.  I will have to walk the garden and pull out the vines as much as I can.  The fence building can begin.  I'll start with the corner posts then fill in the rest of the posts.  A fence along the road will be made with the tall thin sapling trees you see along the back of the garden.

The inside project of the last week was plumbing.  Those that have followed this blog know that I have a love hate relationship (well maybe just hate) with plumbing.  This week the infamous bathroom that caused me fits a few blogs ago acted up again.  This time the newly installed sink and plumbing plugged.  I attribute it to being inactive for almost a decade.  Here's how it's done Old Nebraska Dave style.

Snaking out the drain
First the plumbing was removed.  I already knew it wasn't in the plumbing under the sink as it took a good amount of water to start backing up.  It would slowly go down over an hour or two.  The auger hit something hard at about 10 feet in.  After a few minutes of drilling at what ever it was phase two was implemented.

Cleaning Drain Phase 2
This is my own invention of sorts.  It can be the greatest thing ever or it can be a dog gone it why did I do that kind of a thing.  It's pipe connections hooked up to the drain with a garden hose adapter.  It can quickly turn into a disaster especially with old pipes.  Drains were not designed for pressure and if an old rusty pipe gets too much pressure it will explode out the side of the pipe.  That's why a good drilling with a drain snake is a must first.  So holding my breath I turned the water from the outside spigot on very low.  When water runs in my house, the water meter clicks and the sound of water running can be heard.  The water meter clicking right along and the sound of running water indicated the blockage was clear.  The water was cranked up to full blast for ten minutes to dislodge as much as possible and definitely flush it out to the street sewer line.  Of course the plumbing under the sink went back together without a hitch because .... it's new from the install (fluctuating voice).  Once again the sink and plumbing is in working order.  As you can see there was a bit of cleanup to do.  It was quite a wrestling match in close quarters with that drain snake.

Some seeds were planted before the rains came today.  It rained just enough not to be able to plant any more seeds.  So half the carrots and four Swiss Chard plants were snuggled into the soil.  Now a light misty rain has coated everything with a wet layer of moisture.  The forecast says rain every day this week.  That's OK the main garden water tank needs filling up.

Well, that's what's been happening in my part of the world.  Hopefully, yours is just as exciting. 

Happy trails until we meet again. (Dale Evans)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Clean up Begins
Yesterday was a wonderful day to be outside tilling the soil in the garden.  All five backyard beds are ready for planting.  It won't be for another couple months before the warm weather plants like tomatoes and green peppers will be able to be planted.  It was just nice to be able to be outside in the Spring sunshine working in the dirt. 

Garden Ready for Planting
Here's a picture of the backyard with the garden ready for planting and the patio still under construction.  With the nice weather upon us here I'll be outside more and more.

The main water tank has been sealed and will be hooked up to the rain barrel just in time for the rain.  Tomorrow rain is predicted.  Light rain what ever that is.
First Harvest of the season
Ha, here's the first harvest of the season.  While digging up the garden beds, I came across these little gems.  I planted some fall carrots last year but didn't really think that any made it.  They were a little rubbery but quite tasty just the same.  I had to savor their great fresh garden taste as it will be several months before any other harvest will be coming.
Tulips and Daffodils
The flowers are starting to begin their beautification of the world.  Tulips, Daffodils, Iris, and Crocus are well on their way to blooming. 

Crocus are already flowering but a little spotty.  The first year they put on a great display but the second year down from the first and now this year very much down from the first year.   I thought Crocus were supposed to get better with age but maybe these new hybrids are not long term flowers.

Hard at work
I've been out at Terra Nova Gardens a lot this last week just working real hard.  Ah, well, except for the break times.  Here I'm waiting for the Quick Crete to dry so I can take down the stabilizing ropes.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  This is the anchor post for one side of the gate.  I call it the anchor post because all the measurements for the rest of the garden starts at this post.  The gate is up but the batteries in my camera died and I couldn't get a picture of the completed gate.  I've been giving the entire area (60' X 60') a hand rake with a stout garden rake.  I just want to get as much debris out of the area as I can before the man comes to plow up the garden.  So far I've found many treasures that have accumulated over the years.  They would not have been very friendly to the plow.  I have one more day of cleaning up before the plow man can come.  My plan is to fence in a 30'X30' section for first year garden space.  The neighbor across the road was wondering if I would have space for some potatoes so he will get a 30'X30' section behind the fenced garden.  The rest of the unfenced area measuring 30'X60' will be sweet corn for the critters and neighborhood if they can get there first.  I figure if I give the turkeys, squirrels, and rabbits easy pickings for the sweet corn then they just might leave my fenced in garden alone.  Well, that's the plan anyway.

So until next time.  Keep your tools sharp and your seeds dry until time to plant.

Friday, March 9, 2012

 Improvements on the Rain Barrel
I've been working outside on the rain water catch barrel.  This  is about version three and could possibly be the last improvement.  The weather here as been great.  Nice temperatures have given me a chance to begin with the Spring cleanup and start thinking about gardening.  Of course the first thing is to get the watering system back in service.

Improved water collection system
 This is the improved version of water flow into the barrel.  It incorporates a screen filter to keep leaves and sticks from entering the barrel. 

Under side of barrel lid
Here's a view of the under side of barrel lid.  You can see the screen covering the cut off five gallon bucket. I used a few screws to keep the bucket/screen/lid assembly from separating.

Screen filter bucket with lid
The barrel lid is in place with the bucket lid on the bucket.  The hole in the lid fits the down spout.  I have to say I didn't come up with this idea.  I found it on the Internet and thought it was a great way to catch water in the barrel.  The next rain will tell the story for sure.

Final assembly complete
Here it is all together with the gutters cleaned and waiting for the rain to pour off the roof.  The concrete base of the barrel needs to be moved over just a little more so the barrel is centered on the base.  That will be another day soon.

Keep you spade sharpened and your garden trowel within arm's reach.  Have a great day in the garden.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Work continues on the Food Storage Area

Eastern Nebraska has managed to dodge the bad weather patterns so far this year.  Only one recorded tornado in Nebraska and it was out in an unpopulated area.  Even the rains have been without concern.  The first good old fashioned thunder storm came through and left the streets clean from the winter crud and the air fresh as only a Spring thunder storm can.

The garden beds are still just a bit wet to work the soil but I expect in another week the gardening will be happening here at the Urban Ranch.  I have some plans for a couple garden beds to be fresh salad greens so I am planning on planting those soon.  Most of my garden area has always been warm weather plants so those will be started in the new seed starting station.

Food Storage Area
I started this area last year about this time thinking that I'd have it completed before the end of the year.  Life has a way of intervening doesn't it.  Well, and I just like to help others.  Last year seemed to be a year that many folks needed help.  It's sad to see how the economy has affected so many lives.  All of the moves that I helped with last year were forced moves because they just couldn't afford to live where they were. 

This started as an area that got stuffed with things that hadn't been seen in 20 years.  It was time to clean it out and bring it back into a useful area.  The walls and ceilings were bare studs.  My plan was to insulate the walls and ceilings and put drywall over the insulation.  A new wall will be built to actually close off this area from the rest of the house.  My hope is that the two outside concrete block walls will keep this area cool for storage in the winter months without actually freezing.

The one inside wall and the ceiling have been completed as far as the insulation and drywall.  Because of the new wall which will include a door the area will need a light.

Ceiling Light Electrical Box
The electrical wire was installed last year before the activities of Spring and summer gardening brought a halt to progress.  The light was purchased back then and has laid in wait for an entire year to be installed.  Yeah, I know, I'm not too speedy with projects around the home.  I'm about an hour away from having this light installed.

Shop Light fixture
I'm just a little cheap so instead of buying a fancy light fixture designed for ceiling installation I bought a shop light.  A shop light hangs from the ceiling with chains and has a cord that plugs into the wall socket to provide electricity.  The difference in price would be the reason I purchased a shop light instead of an actual ceiling light.  Some modifications will have to be made but with just a little change this light can be used as a ceiling light.  Since I had to install one light outside of the storage area and one light inside of the storage area the cost saving was about $30 for the two fixtures.  With the electrical plug cord removed and the hole for the ceiling wires to come through the fixture all that remains is to attach the ceiling box cover to the fixture, bring the wires through the hole, attach the fixture to the ceiling box, and wire the light into the circuit.

Ceiling Box Cover Ready for Attachment
Here the ceiling box cover has the knock out removed and has been placed over the hole drilled into the shop light fixture.  A little gizmo called a connector will actually fit through the hole and has a clamp on one side and a treaded nut on the other side.  It's used in electrical wiring to keep sharp edges away from insulated wires.  The connector will hold the cover plate in place on the fixture as well.  Two screw holes will be drilled to allow the fixture and the cover plate to be attached to the ceiling box.  Walla, wire it up and all done.  Well, of course, install the light bulbs.

There's always something going on around the Urban Ranch.  This year I am determined to finish some of the projects in progress.  Well, that is after I'm finished helping others.

Until next time keep the coffee on and your shadow in the garden.