Monday, July 29, 2013

What's up with Summer?  
July has indeed been an interesting month for Nebraska.  It's been hot, dry, record lows, and definitely surprises in the garden.  The first of the month brought many 90+ degree days with very little rain.  The average moisture for this month is 3.95 inches of rain.  So far the moisture for July is .38 of an inch.  It has caused the yards in the neighborhood to start turning brown.  Unlike last year, the temperatures have been moderate ranging from the high 90s to last week's record breaking low of 49.  Something is definitely up with nature.  It makes for interesting times for gardeners that's for sure.
I just couldn't pass up a chance to install a ceiling fan for a good friend of mine.  You ever notice I have allot of good friends.  They would still be good friends even if I couldn't do things for them.  That's just how they are.  I get truly blessed being able to help them out.  Here are all the necessary things to install a ceiling fan.  There's all the parts; there's all the tools; there's the instructions; and most important there's the cup of coffee.

Another ceiling fan installation success.  I've been installing ceiling fans just about since they were invented.  Today they are much easier than 25 years ago.  It's just a bit more complicated when the wires coming out of the ceiling are four and only three are needed as it was in this case.  Well, careful observation on how the ceiling light was wired was a must to be able to correctly wire the fan/light.  A little extra time to make sure all wiring was correct and all worked just like it was supposed to work.  My most complicated installation was when an installation had a remote control for the fan and the light instead of the chains.  No I take that back.  The most complicated was my own bedroom ceiling fan that had a separate switch for the fan with a rheostat speed control.  That was before plug in ceiling fan wiring.  After a couple hours of sorting through a rat nest of wires the fan worked great and has worked great for a couple decades. Nice!!

I'm afraid I've gone and done it again.  I've waited way too long before tackling the weed problem in the back yard.  Yeah, the birds seem to keep the fence line supplied with Mulberry trees seeds.  It's amazing how fast land will revert back to the wild without human intervention.  I always promise myself that next year I won't let it get out of hand like this again.  (big sigh)  Nature waits for no one.

Several hours work with weed pulling, mattock wielding, axe chopping, and tree pruner lopping makes a big difference, don't you think?  Ha, I bet you didn't even know there was a bush in there did you.  Not to be daunted, there's allot more fence line to cleanup.  The raised bed you see here half under the bush will be taken out.  It was a bad idea to put it there in the first place.  Four other beds not in this picture will provide the table with fresh garden produce.

What do you see here; an out of control garden bed maybe; a bug ridden cabbage patch perhaps; a total disaster attempt to garden perchance?  Nope none of the above.  I consider it my most successful garden experience of the year.  These cabbages started from tiny little seeds way last February.  They grew to tiny little shamrock plants.  After the weather broke here in late late Spring, they were poked into the mud and forgotten.  Terra Nova Gardens took all efforts to get the soil prepared and planted.  Never have my efforts to grow cabbage turned out good.  Every time the plants would shrivel up and pass away peacefully in the night.  I suspect that's the way a night shade plant would want to go but for me, it was a bit frustrating.  So now I hate to really touch any thing and just marvel at how they have grown among the worst of conditions without weeding; without watering; and without really any attention at all.  Maybe I've just been loving them to death in the past.  What do you think? 

The tomatoes are still producing green tomatoes.  I have learned one thing this year.  Tomatoes need to be started under the grow lights a little earlier than the end of April.  Next year it will be the beginning of March. 

 This is the best surprise of the gardening year.  Last fall as some of you will remember, I dumped almost 600 bags of lawn and yard waste from the fall grass and tree leaf neighborhood cleanup on Terra Nova Gardens.  Apparently there was more than just leaves and grass in some of the bags.  Two zucchini, three pumpkins, and two of these squash plants came up volunteer.  So far the harvest has been three zucchini and two squash with more to come.  It's been an absolutely wonderful surprise.

 I foiled those dirty little night critters this year.  Last year I checked the sweet corn on a Friday and found that it wasn't quite ready the way I like sweet corn.  By the following Monday the thieving little buggers stripped the entire patch.  This year, even though it was not quite what I like, I beat them to it.  I saw evidence that they had been nibbling around the outside so I picked every thing that was within a tolerable eating range and left the unripened ones for them.  At least I got a few ears of corn to eat this year.  I have another batch of corn that will be ripe in a couple weeks but this has volunteer pumpkin vines growing through the corn.  I've heard that the vine plants will keep the raccoons and possums  away from the corn so we will see.  The critters don't like the feel of the leaves on their feet.

Have a great week.  Be safe until we meet again.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Time and the Living is easy?

Summer Time and the Living is easy?  
Yikes summer is counting down to fall already.  The year without a spring has drifted quickly toward the end of summer.  My first hearing of the Cicada was last week.  The old Farmers would say that winter was six weeks away but I find that it's more accurate to say that cooler weather is six weeks away indicating the slide into fall.
After many hours of work, I'm finished with painted fence panels for this year.  It's been a long process that started with acquiring the pallets to use for this fence way back last December.  All through the winter months and wet spring months design and actual building took place.  The spring weather was not very nice for painting with only a few dry days above 50 degrees.  When the weather finally turned it was a busy time preparing and planting the garden.  As a result much less fence building took place than I wanted.  Not to worry, it's a work in progress and there's always next year.  The only bad thing is that it leaves the sweet corn unprotected from the night shade critters and most likely will be large loss again this year.  I see that some sampling has already started in the first sweet corn patch shown behind the fence.

 What you see here is a thoroughly picked over pile of old fencing.  I didn't have my camera on the day I was hauling old fence panels but five loads of usable fence panels netted me enough free fence to totally surround the North Terra Nova Garden area.  All I have to do is install about 150 feet of fence.  Yeah, like that will be done this year.  Hopefully, I can get some finished this year.

I have stumbled upon the give away vegetable.  Most people have a couple tomatoes and green pepper or two in there back yard.  Green beans seems to be a vegetable that many really like but don't plant in the back yard garden plot.  I planted ten plants in one small backyard raised garden bed.  The harvest from those ten planted came to four and a half gallons of beans.  It came after the micro burst winds of 70 MPH came whistling through and flattened the plants.  Who knew that they would stand up again and produce in abundance?  Certainly not me.  I gave away all but enough for a couple meals for me.  Next year I'll know to plant many more plants.
 I'm afraid I've gone and done it again.  I just couldn't say no to a friends sister that wanted some bushes removed.  Her husband just died of cancer a few months ag0.  He was the yard man extreme and manicured the yard to excellence.  However she, on the other hand, hates yard work and didn't want to be constantly trimming the bushes.  So out they went.  Each bush was a load for my little truck.  I hauled all five bushes out to Terra Nova Gardens and started a head high brush pile as a boundary along the North side of my property.  The property to the North of Terra Nova Gardens is nothing but over the head weeds giant trees and nasty brush.  So the brush pile actually will keep the weeds from creeping into my garden area and it might be a great place for critters to call home.  Yeah, just what I need, a critter hotel with a ready made garden buffet. Ah, well, at least some one will be well fed from the garden.
Here's the beginning of another project that I worked on this year.  A friend just bought a house last fall and really didn't like this landscaping that led up to her front door.  She was the designer and I was the builder.
We put our heads together and this is what we ended up with.  She was the one that put the final touches on the flower beds with miracle grow dirt, mulch, plants, and rock decorations.  It was a two day long project.  It took three trips to Menard's for supplies, two day's end muscle soaking showers, two Alieve, four Advil, and a day of rest afterward.  We both thought it turned out really well.
Remember in the last post I was planting the Rugosa Rose bushes I just received.  Well, this is one of them.  I know I should be pinching off the flowers this season to help the bush establish the root system but I just couldn't do it.  I ended up with a double order and planted a total of 49 bushes.  Some look as though they didn't make it but I'm not making that determination until next year.  Some times those bushes look pretty dead until the next spring with they come to life so the final decision to replace will be next spring.
One more project during month of June.  I spent some time with a good friend of mine that moved to Des Moines. This was a floor project.  It would have been a great learning process but we found that when my friend bought the flooring, he didn't have enough to finish this room.  Upon going back to the store he bought it from two years before, the flooring was since discontinued and nothing now stocked would match the floor.  It was a disappointment for him and his mother that was going to be moving into this bedroom.  The above picture was just a dry fit so the flooring could be removed easily.  I'm not sure what they decided to do to the floor before his mother moved into the room.

Well, that's it for now.  Hopefully the next post won't be so long in coming.  Stay cool and healthy until the next time.