Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall cleanup begins
Fall is definitely upon us.  The promise of 30 something temperatures will put an end to the summer garden.  I'm not going to try fall gardening this year.  There are still many things in the works at the Urban Ranch (the house where I live) and Terra Nova Gardens (the new garden).
The hauling of hay continues.  You can see that I've nearly completed hauling the first bale to the garden.  I have about one more load then I can begin on the second bale.  I hope to have the hay hauling completed before winter comes.  It will be a good mulch cover to have on the ground over the Winter months for Terra Nova Gardens.  My neighbor Tim the lawn man promises me a large volume of grass leaf mixture to help with mulching the garden this fall.  That's a great blend of mixture that will compost in place over the winter.
This is the good stuff.  It's almost to the compost level.  I suspect that the Winter weather and snow will complete the process by next spring.  I'm already planning next year's garden.
It's amazing what a little work can do for a yard.  This is after the axe job on the sequoia weeds and taking a lawn mower after the crab grass.  It appears that the regular grass did not make it through the long hot dry summer.  I'm waiting until spring to see how much has survived before comprehensive seeding begins.
Another donation to Terra Nova Gardens has helped to protect the pond in progress.  The chain link fence was given to the project.  I used it to block the access of the unfinished pond.  As you can see some of the area has been dug out.  I want to expand that to about twice what you see.  Right now it's about 28 inches deep and I want to go to a depth of about four feet if I can.  From where you see the fence to six feet over the pond will have a deck with railing.  The rest of the pond will be open for the wild life get to the water to drink.  I would like to get the pond dug before winter weather prevents it but if not there's always next year.
The tomatoes have taken over the garden and by far are the best vegetable of the garden for this year.  They are done for this year.  There are still a truck load of green tomatoes that will never turn green with the cold night time temperatures.  Tomatoes need warm humid temperatures at night to ripen.  The pumpkins were awesome but were ready to harvest early in August.  The watermelons are still surprising me.  They just keep popping up out the dead vine mass.  Two more have showed up.   I don't really know how they can produce when the vines look dead at the roots.  It just amazes me how that can be.
A platform has been built up on the bank behind the pond to serve as a makeshift water tower for the garden.  It has about a 15 to 20 foot drop down to the garden level.  When I hauled water with my truck it was about  a three to four foot drop and it was surprising just how much water pressure came from that.  I watered through 100 feet of hose to any place in the garden with ease.  I can add more barrels to increase the capacity if needed.
This is the method of pumping the water up to the barrels on the bank.  It will pump about 150 gallons a minute so the two barrels will be filled in just over one minute.  it can pump from down to 20 feet deep and push it up to a 90 foot rise on the outlet.  Since there is no electricity on the property, it will be just the thing to pump water from the pond to the garden water storage supply.  These are ambitious plans that most likely won't get completed this year.
Have a great fall day and I'll see you again next week with more crazy ideas about how to tame the inner city garden called Terra Nova Gardens.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Fall is here
I must apologize to my faithful followers of this blog.  I've been so busy that I just noticed that it's been almost a month since I've blogged.  I promise on my honor to blog more often.

Temperatures indicate that fall has arrived.  The temperatures are falling regularly into the 50s with promises of 40s next week.  Gone are the 90 degree days of summer and 70s rule.  The trees are beginning the leaf shedding process and are most likely glad that the long hot dry summer is over.
Many projects of the summer have been left undone.  The fire pit that I've been working on for a couple years has been greatly neglected this year.  With the acquisition of the new garden, some projects flourish and others have been neglected.  Perhaps during the fall season more work will be completed on the fire pit.
Transition of the back yard raised beds will be on the list as well.  Next year the raised beds will be beds to grow the plants for the bigger garden and maybe a bed for salads.
This last weekend a friend and I traveled about two hours away from where we live and made plans to help with some tree cleanup.  We traveled there on Friday; worked all day Saturday; and came back home on Sunday.  It gave us a full day for tree work.
Early Saturday we started with stump removal.  Well, that is cutting stumps off at ground level. After lunch we set out to clean up a tree brush area in the camp ground.  This is a picture of the area when we started.  There were two widow makers (hanging branches) and lots of major branches and brush on the ground.
After the day was finished, it looked fairly decent.  I have to say that I was just a bit tired and glad that we were finished.  The pile you see in the picture is one of the two piles.  The other pile might have been just a smidgen bigger.  It really did clean up nice.  The owner of the place of prayer and refuge said that we could come back any time.
Both Vince and I are early to rise so we were on the road home by 6:30am on Sunday.  A great breakfast at the Summer Kitchen was a fun way to end this adventure.
Monday was another work day about an hour to the west of where I live at a non profit organization.
Steve, Al, and myself had five windows to replace in an old house that the non profit organization uses for their headquarters.  I'm about seven feet up from the ground pulling out a rope pulley from the window casing.  The old windows had weights in the wall to help with opening and closing of the windows.  The scariest window we replaced was one that measured five feet by six feet.  Everything went off without a hitch and all the windows were installed by noon.  We installed a dishwasher, a refrigerator ice maker water line, and helped with preparing some bulk mailing during the afternoon hours.  We got a lot accomplished.
We received 1.44 inches of rain a couple days ago.  That should really kick start the grass growing again.  I'm really going to have to get busy with yard cleanup.  I call the weeds in the picture above the "Nebraska Sequoia Weeds" because they are huge.  These weeds can grow in dead clay dirt with out any rain and still grow very large.  I'm sizing them up to plan how to cut them down with my axe.  Yes, they really are that big.  The stump at the base is two to three inches in diameter.  They did come down easier than a tree.
I hit the mother load of mulch for Terra Nova Gardens. This is two of the big square bales of what I thought was hay and turned out to be bromegrass hay.  That's even better for mulch. I watched the farmer load the hay onto a big semi truck and hall the load away.  All but these two bales.  One had broke which he just moved to the side and I believe he just didn't have room for the other.  These bales have been sitting beside the road for about four years.  They are far past being any good for live stock feed.  My thought was to use this for mulch in the garden.  It was difficult to track down any one that could give me permission to haul it away.  Finally one day I came upon a big green farm looking tractor mowing down the weeds by the road.  It didn't look like a city machine so I took a chance and asked the operator if he was the farmer of the land.  He said that he worked for the farmer and when I asked if I could use the hay on my garden, he said that I could. 
This is about three loads and much more is covered at this point in time.  I discovered that the bottom layer of about a foot to eighteen inches has almost turned to compost from sitting the four years in the weather.  That will go on the main part of the garden.
Even my daughter has gotten involved with Terra Nova Gardens.  She works for Walgreens and finds store bargains when they come on sale.  At the end of the season the manager was going to toss the garden seeds and write off the loss.  My daughter talked him into selling them to her for a penny a package.  She bought 250 vegetable seed packages for my next years planting.
What a stash it turned out to be.  I will have to purchase popcorn as my grandson wants to plant some next year.  He planted sweet corn this year but I was too busy with fence building and weed control to protect it from the critters.  He did get about four ears before the wild critters moved in and cleaned it out.  Next year we have a plan.
The tomatoes are just about done for the year and the green peppers never really got started.  The eggplant was a success but the squash succumbed to the dreaded vine borer.  My zucchini plan that I planted in July as an experiment circumvented the vine borer and did great until the deer ate it off most of the leaves.  (big sigh)  I didn't get my gate in place soon enough.  Next year we have a plan.  The gate is now in place and working.  Now the foot opening at the bottom of the north side of the fenced garden needs to be secured and the fenced garden will be finished.
Well, that's enough for now.  I hope you have had a great summer and will be having a wonderful fall season.  Back at you later.