Saturday, December 28, 2013

Year End Summary 
As the year of 2013 is fast heading to a close, my thoughts wander back through the year to catch some glimpses of what has been accomplished.  It always starts out with thinking that not enough has been completed during the year.  Each year is different with challenges that arise unexpectedly.
January - With Christmas over and the New Year beginning my attention was given to the three year project of a food storage area in my basement.  The electrical wiring was completed and the insulation was mostly completed with some of the drywall installed at the beginning of work this January.  Framing of a wall to close in the area with the installation of a door was the plan for this year. 
February - By the middle of February, the food storage room was finished and thoughts turned toward the beginning of the garden season.  A couple warm days allowed me to continue the work on turning pallets into a graphic sign that would be used for Terra Nova Gardens.  Construction continued with weather permitted on into the summer months before the sign panels were completed and installed.

The seed starting station was prepared to begin sprouting seeds into plants for the garden.  This year turned out to be a very successful year of growing my own plants for the garden.
March - March was a cold wet month which prevented the start of almost any gardening.  The construction of the graphic fence sign for the garden moved forward with lettering and graphic flower designs being painted onto the fence panels.
The cabbage and broccoli sprouts were up and growing nicely.  Both turned out wonderfully well or so the rabbits thought.  I was just thrilled that I had actually grown a cabbage from seed to wonderful heads of cabbage.  Perhaps next year with a little more protection a harvest will become a reality.  Each year the garden produces a little more.
April - The weather was still uncooperative with cold winds and rainy weather.  The garden was totally soggy and nothing could be planted. Everything was going to be getting a late start.
Out of desperation, I turned to natural native plants for spring time salads and started harvesting dandelion greens.  I guess they are alright but I'd rather have a good lettuce salad. I'd call them bitter greens.  I didn't try to put them in a stir fry which might tone them down a bit.
May - May brought 100 degree days so I labeled the year a year without spring.  Garden preparation and planting started but because of the cold wet spring every thing was a month behind schedule and delayed harvesting a good three weeks.
Two of the three graphic garden fence panels were installed at Terra Nova Gardens and a third was being finished.  Gardening was finally under way for 2013.
June - By this time things were growing gang busters.  The sweet corn was several inches high, potatoes were almost a foot high, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and cucumbers were growing nicely.  It was finally starting to be a great gardening year.
My long awaited Rugosa Rose bushes arrived and with great anticipation were planted around the outside of the garden area.  Many didn't survive the planting but with the ones that did, I can now propagate as many as I want.  I wanted all blue but some white ones managed to get in the order.
July - Mid summer geared up to be a busy time.  Projects for friends, harvesting of sweet corn began, and the third garden graphic panel was installed.  This month a discovery was made and a supply of free wooden fence panels were found.  A few loads of these panels was enough to enclose the main part of the garden area.  The project of installing 180 feet of wooden fence began.  By the end of the garden year only about 75 feet of fence still needs to be installed.
August - By now the fence project was moving along and looking very nice.  Tomato harvesting began and preservation of some of the harvest put winter bounty on the food storage shelves.  Most of the harvest was given away.  The surprise was the green bean harvest. Nearly 10 gallons of fresh picked green beans came from a 4X8 raised bed.  I plan on growing more next year to preserve.
Because of the last planting season and fence building the Urban Ranch was neglected.  In my haste to tidy the yard up the lawn mower hit the spout of the rain water storage tank and broke it.  Several days were spent soldering the spout back on and sealing up the tank.  Rain was sparse the rest of the summer and it never refilled.
September - This month started with a bang.  Literally, it did.  A call from a neighbor at Terra Nova Garden informed me of a van losing control and crashing through my graphic fence panels.  It took the rest of the month and part of October to put it all back together again. 
Joan, my grand daughter, was married and a wonderful trip to Las Vegas to be at the wedding lived up the month.
October - The garden year is winding down and fall cleanup has begun.  The end of the month started the great yard waste caper which allowed me to spread a foot of mulch over the entire garden area again.  It was indeed amazing how all the mulch from last year composted down to less than an inch.
November - Two weeks were spent in November collecting and hauling yard waste to Terra Nova.  The latter part of the month was spent working on a plumbing problem which still needs to be finished up.  Ceiling drywall replacement is not my forte.
December - December always brings the sending of about 100 Christmas cards with a Christmas letter inside and the beginning of receiving seed catalogs.
Now in a few days the New Year begins and we all can start over.   It's almost like having a do over but with more unexpected challenges to our plans.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gardening is over for this year 
As you can see from the November header the garden definitely has that Winter look to it.  I've finished up the yard waste mulch caper with a total net of 971 bags of mulch for this year.  It covered my fenced (well almost fenced) area and the guerrilla garden area.  I did have a scare with that.  While covering up the new area with mulch a young lady (at my age they all look young) in a city car pulled up and asked if this was my property.  Oh, oh, I'm in trouble now, so I thought.  I explained to her that my property ended about 50 feet down the road and that I was just trying keep the weeds down on a derelict property.  She seemed not quite convinced so I directed her to drive down and take a look at Terra Nova Gardens to see what I'm trying to accomplish.  As she drove past me on the way out of the neighborhood, she gave me the thumbs up.  I guess I passed the test.
Neighbors both at the Urban Ranch where I live and Terra Nova Gardens have told me that the yard waste company have taken pictures of all the yard waste bags.  Apparently, the yard waste caper has caused a stir in at least a couple departments of the city. 
Well, then there was the EPA visit.  A couple weeks ago the door bell rang and when the door was opened a nice man with a big smile and a clip board was standing on the poor man's patio.  I thought, "Oh, boy, another survey."  Nope no survey today.  He showed me an address on the clip board and asked if I owned this property.  After I told him yes, he indicated he represented the EPA and wanted me to sign giving them permission to test the land for lead.  Several lead smelting refineries along the river over the last 100 years put lead particles into the air which then settled onto the land in Terra Nova Gardens' area.  I talked with neighbors in the area and they said that many yards have had about 12 inches of top soil scraped off and replaced with "good top soil".  Oh, well there goes all the mulch.  The test results haven't come back yet so I can still hope for a good test.  The good news is that they probably won't require me to take down any fencing.  How much gardening happening at Terra Nova Gardens next year is sort of hanging in the wind.
A few more warm days this next week will allow me to finish up putting away all the rain barrels and storing away the hoses.  I did get all the leaves cleaned up from the Urban Ranch front yard and covered the four raised garden beds in the back yard.  The back yard leaves will just be left to over winter and melt into the sprouting grass (crab grass that is) next spring.
 This will be my Winter project.  After 12 years of neglect and catching any thing that I just didn't want deal with at the moment, it looks to be even a hoarder's worst nightmare.  Bradley has been after me to make it into a play area for him.  It certainly would be nice to have my living room back. 
So as one thing is shutting down for the Summer season another is ramping up for the Winter season.
May this be the best Christmas shopping year ever.  I don't mean spending lots of money but just meaningful gifts that build memories.  Now that black Friday is over, sanity will come back to shopping.