Sunday, March 30, 2014

Spring is slowly coming
Old Winter seems to be hanging on this year until the very last gasp.  Even though the day time temperatures are now in the 50s and 60s, the night time temperatures are still mostly in the 20s.  It's not very favorable to planting just yet but perhaps in another week the cold weather plants such as cabbage and onions can be set out.  They are busting out of the containers and begging to be outside in the real world.  The first little plants I set out a couple weeks ago are surviving but just barely.  I will probably replant them and put them out of their misery.
As the weather temperatures climbed toward favorable conditions for working outside, the ground conditions were not in agreement.  After a couple of nice days and still frozen ground, my crazy pent up anxiety and made a little cabin fever from the long cold Winter months took control of my thoughts.  I just couldn't stand it any longer, so drastic actions had to be taken.  Here you see me chopping the frost filled soil out of the ground to recondition.  The process was to dig out the soil; take two five gallon buckets of soil, mix with two five gallon buckets of partially composted yard waste from last fall, one five gallon bucket of peat, a coffee can of vermiculite, a cup full of garden lime, and a couple handfuls of Epsom salts.  The mixing is done in a compost tumbler then the batch is put back into the raised bed.  Six batches later the 4X8 foot bed is done and (yea!!) no frost.  I know pretty drastic but I just couldn't help myself.

Yesterday was one of the warm days that called me to be outside working again toward the day when all things could be planted.  Two of the four beds are nearing completion for planting.  The rain collection system has been set up for the year and is ready to begin collecting rain water.  Now we need a good two inches of rain to fill the storage tank.  I'm hoping that the repairs to the tank last fall will once and for all put an end to the leaking situation.
Bed number one which the farthest away will have a rain gutter system on top of the raised bed.  More about that in another post.  Under the rain gutter system onions, cabbages, radishes, and lettuce will be planted.  It's a multilayer growing experiment.  We will have to see how that works out for this year.
The second bed will be potatoes this year.  It will also be an experimental growing project.  You can see that the bed is about eight inches below the top of the bed sides.  This bed will house four layers of potato plantings.  The first layer will be planted by laying the potatoes on top of the eight inches of soil in the bed.  Then an eight inch covering of soil and mulch will cover up the potatoes.  After these plants have a growth of 12 to 18 inches a second layer of potatoes will be laid on top of the mulch and covered with eight inches of soil and mulch.  The third and fourth layers will be planted in the same manner.  By seasons end I'm hoping to have a bed full of potatoes.  We will see.  As you can see I'm more into trying to grow things on the edge than having a bountiful harvest.
Wait there's more.  Another experiment will be planting and growing giant pumpkins from seeds given to me from one of my Maine penpals.  She sent me a handful of seeds to try at Terra Nova Gardens this year.  It requires some special treatments but the potential is for a several hundred pound pumpkin.  I don't expect any kind of record breaking growth but still even if a pumpkin reached a couple hundred pounds, it would be the talk of the neighborhood.

 You ever have one of those days when you're all set to do one thing and then stuff happens?  Not too long ago one of those days popped up in my schedule.  The sun was shining brightly, the birds were tweeting (singing not digital tweeting), the garden bed were begging to be cleaned up.  Yeah, one of those perfect top 10 Spring days.  Just one thing before going out and enjoying digging in the dirt.  Just throw a quick load in the washer.  Yeah, right.  The whole agitator seemed a bit loose when inserting the clothes.  Upon inspection the whole unit came out with a slight tug.  A bolt had come loose and the agitator would spin freely.  An agitator that don't agitate.  Now that's pretty useless don't, don't you think.  Now I could have just bolted it down tight and it probably would have worked just fine but in my experience when things fall apart and a chance is given to replace parts that could become a problem in the near future, just do it.
The above parts are the old parts that make the agitator spin.  Even though they look in fairly good shape, I did not pass the opportunity to replace them.  So this day instead of enjoying the great outdoors in the garden, I enjoyed the great indoors down in the clothes washer tub.  The operation was a success and the household has high hopes that the washer will continue to live long and prosper.
I don't want to bore any one too much so I'll leave it at that.   Spring is here .... well, sorta. Enjoy the Spring days as much as you can.
Leave a comment and let me know what's going on in your part of paradise. Until next time.

Monday, March 10, 2014

This is torture weather 
Why you might say is this 70 degree weather torture?  This is the time of year when I really want to start digging in the dirt but the ground has not thawed out enough to start working the soil.  Today was a balmy 74 degrees.  It was awesome to be outside in a t-shirt once again.  Can anyone else say goodbye to below zero weather with me?  I'm not saying we have seen the end of cold days but I am declaring the end of below zero for this winter season.   Tomorrow is high of 45 with rain.  That's pretty typical for March in Nebraska.  I'll take all the 45 degree rain old Ma Nature will give.  It will help to thaw out the garden beds.
I took a trip out to Terra Nova Gardens just to walk the land and get a grip on the 2014 garden projects.  I have on the list to develop the Spring, finish building the fence, and start with the water storage.  I have changed my mind about water storage barrels up on the hill and have decided to put the barrels inside the fence elevated about three to four feet above the ground at strategic places.

Here's what I call my balanced meal.  On the left is tomato soup made tomatoes harvested from Terra Nova Gardens and processed in the Urban Ranch's kitchen.  On the right is totally Walmart with bread containing unpronounceable ingredients and cheese food product.  It's a balanced meal because one is healthy and the other .... well not so much.  I'm still working on eating better.  As my garden harvests increase so will my healthy eating habits.  I hope.
Still cleaning out the basement and finding things from the past.  How about this one.
Yeah, anyone remember  this.  At one time there must have been millions if not billions of these manufactured.  A display was on every check out counter in the country trying to draw you in to the big new digital world.  Apparently, I picked up one but I never went the AOL dialup route.  I went with a service provider called Juno which I still have today with my original e-mail address.  Of course I've climbed up into the new century with Internet service and wireless in the house.
I call these my little shamrocks.  They kind of do look like little four leaf clovers.  They are the cabbages that I started a couple weeks ago.  I started them in a flat and transplanted them into the plastic cups.  I'm hoping to get them outside in a couple more weeks.  The onions are still coming on strong and are about six inches high and starting to add a second stalk.  I am hoping to get them out in the garden as well before April 15th when my warm weather seeds need to be started.  I never thought I would be running out of space under the grow lights and may have to figure out a way to expand the seed starting station.

 I'm always scouting the city foreclosure website for cheap properties.  This corner lot measures 44 X 60 feet and comes with a price tag of $100.  The two houses next to it are for sale and the house across the street to the right has a yellow sign stuck on one of the windows.  That usually means it's got issues.  I thought this would be a good garden space but of a different kind.  It would be more bushes, flowers, and landscape.  I don't want to get to wild but maybe just beautify the corner some.

Things that I've learned from my previous purchase would put the development out about two years or more.  First the EPA would be contacted about lead testing before doing any work.  Then the utilities would be located because I'm sure there are some on this property because a house was once on the lot.

Speaking of the EPA.  I found a website that listed all the properties in the city and indicated which lots have been tested for lead and which ones didn't need the soil removed.  All the properties that have been tested that surround Terra Nova Gardens for a block in every direction hasn't needed to have the soil removed so I'm really hoping that the soil at Terra Nova won't have to be replaced.  I haven't heard any word from them but I'm moving forward with planting and hoping for the best this Spring.

I hope all is well with everyone and until the next time remember "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, and snow is exhilarating.  There is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather."