Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Garden is coming alive

Every thing is starting to wake up and come alive.  The soil is waking up all the seeds (weeds).  This year I've been able to stay some what ahead of the weeds.  I've found that it's better not to wait to see the weeds but give the raised beds a stir about three days after a rain.  The little weed seeds are sprouted and get nipped right away.  Tiny little weeds become big weeds over night it seems.  Every year a new weed plague comes to the garden.  This year it's Creeping Charlie.  It's appears to be every where but easy to pull up out of the ground and dispose of.  My disposal area is just to heave a bucket full up over the back wooden garden fence into the wooded area. 

I had in mind to expand the sweet corn fortress by adding two more raised beds but once I got started it ended up being four more.  It went well and in just about three days the beds were lined with a rock border and ready to be dug.  First time digging is tough.  Vines, rocks, and other interesting finds make the virgin digging quite intriguing.  It's been a real boon to have free old dumpster carpeting to help keep the weeds suppressed until I can work on an area of the garden.  

 There's the last of the raised garden beds for this year.  My neighbor where I live does lawn and landscaping for a living.  On occasion he will tear out a rock wall and replace it with the nice looking concrete retaining wall blocks.  I always want the rocks to use in my garden.  They are much better than wood because they last forever.  Now the challenge becomes hardwood mulch and fencing to keep out the raccoons and other night time critters that like my garden.

This is bed number 9 and is planted with the potato crop.  The first grass mowing has been used for mulch.  It will decompose and allow the nitrogen rich elements to soak down into the soil under the mulch to fertilize the potatoes and it will be a deterrent to weed growth.  There's always a few weeds that can come up through the thickest of mulches but far less that with bare soil.  Potatoes will have no problem finding their way up through the mulch.

The strawberries are starting to flower and look like I may just get a few berries this year if the birds, rabbits, or other critters don't get there first.  It's always a battle with wild life, weather, and city officials.

This Spring the power company came by and needed to trim trees.  They worked an entire day on my property trimming up trees.  The good news was that I convinced them to trim off a big branch that hung out over my garden area.  Now instead of  losing the sun every day at 2pm for half the garden it will be good until about 4pm.  The threat of falling on top of my fence some day during a wind storm is gone as well.  The trimming crew informed me that my big cottonwood tree next to the picnic table was covered with .... poison ivy.  It's a good thing I've never been susceptible to the effects of poison ivy.  However, it would make it a danger for visitors.  

It's a good thing that planting season isn't far away.  The seedlings are busting to get outside in the garden.  Lots of work will be required in the next four weeks.  Hopefully, the weather will be kind and let the work get done.

Well, that's all for now.  Have a great Spring day.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spring has Sprung 

The outside is delightful.  The birds are chirping and the warm Spring rain is quenching the thirsty earth.  It's time for nature to wake up.  Spring is my favorite time of the year.  Every thing just seems right in the Spring.  New life abounds in plants and animals.  Even old gardeners begin to feel the urge to be more active and have more energy.  The smell of the moist earth; the sounds of the wild life; and the Spring blooming flowers all have an effect on emotions in a positive way.  Filled with new ideas and plans for the garden year, work begins in Terra Nova Gardens. 
The garden expansion continues.  One and a half more raised beds have been built with one more in the plan.  It will make for six beds on this half of the garden.  The inside fences will be constructed in preparation for the electric fence.  I always have high hopes to stay on top of the weeds but alas by August they are a bit out of control.  Hopefully, this year will be that year when I win and weeds lose. 😃😃

 My plant seedlings are busting at the seams to get outside.  The soil temperature is 46 degrees and should reach the 50 degree mark for me to plant by next week.  I'll be hardening off the plants starting tomorrow by putting them outside for a couple hours the first day and increasing the time each day to perhaps all day by Friday.  Then they will be ready to plant out along with sowing radishes.  Salads will be on the way.   Tomatoes, Green pepper, and Eggplant will have to wait another four to six weeks before planting out.  They are all  ready to be transplanted for the first time.  Each of the two transplanting times the plants will get fresh potting mix which gives them a good boost.  By the middle of May they will be nice sturdy plants ready for the real world.

That's pretty much all for this time.  Happy gardening to all.

Nebraska Dave

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Before Planting Projects

Before Planting Projects 

The weather was glorious today.  It got a little cool in the late afternoon but morning and early afternoon was bright sunshine and almost shirt sleeve weather.  One of my blogger friends has a saying that says, "Do a little bit in the garden at one time and do it often."  Today was a garden day but because the weather was s-o-o-o-o-o nice I did a little bit; then another little bit; and, well, then a whole lot.  I had to get re acquainted  with my old friend Ibuprofen.  Yes, I found those muscles that were forgotten over the Winter months.  😇

Perhaps you can remember that last March I worked on building a platform over the top of my natural Spring.  It didn't really get any farther then this.  It was enough for one year and I've learned to only do things until they stop being fun to do so this project was put in retirement until this March.
I thought it best to add some added support for the platform that will sit on top of the bridge supports.  I got the supports free off Craig's list.  It was just what I needed to span the almost ten feet across the spring.
After re engineering a free pallet from my local exercise equipment store, it is in its final resting place.  I pulled up the pallet boards and spaced them closer to each other.  You can see the rear section of the platform is what it looked like before I started working on it.  After the remodeling,  a hole was cut for the stand pipe.  This pipe, with a little help from neighborhood friends, is buried about six foot or better into the heart of the spring.  Before setting the front part of the platform in place, a good coat of moisture repellent sealer was applied.  Hopefully, this platform will still be good long after I'm gone.  Now I just have to do the same with the back section.  Handrails from again free pallets will surround the edges of the platform.  Then a sand pipe hand pump will be put on top of the pipe.  I figure there's about 30 gallons of water that can be used for miscellaneous things that can be pumped out of the pipe.  I'm not sure all that will get done this year but then there's always next year.

OK, on to the next project for the day.
Yes, the expansion of the protected garden space is now under way.  The fence next to the other beds built last year known as the "Sweet Corn Fortress" was removed.  It was five year old chicken wire fencing that had out lived it's useful life.  I'm hopeful to find some chain link fencing on Crag's list to use which basically lasts a life time.  Any way here's the spot for the next new bed.  Those weeds here I call the Velcro weeds.  The mature heads on the stalks are just like Velcro and will grab a hold of clothing with a strong vengeance.  
I finished up one end of the bed and one side.  There's still a few thin spots to fatten up with a few more rocks but it's a good solid line.  When the rocks have been placed around the perimeter of the bed the inside portion will be cut away with a carpet knife and used else where in the garden.  When the soil dries out some the soil will be turned over with a hand space and cultivated several times about three days after a rain.  After every rain, the unsprouted seeds will wake up and try to grow.  It's much better to cultivate sprouting seeds than to have pull or hoe weeds.  Duh, what a novel idea.  I should have used that method a lot more last year.  

I'm really hopeful to get one more bed completed and the fence up before planting time.

What have you been doing in the garden these days?

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Actual Planting will soon Begin 

The famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, came out of his burrow or should I say was dragged out of his burrow and saw his shadow.  Legend has it that if he sees his shadow, then there is six more weeks of Winter left.  Well, Nebraska is about 1200 miles away from where he lives.  That area of the country is getting Winter by the foot of snow.  Here the weather is mild.  It's like 50s and 60s mild.  It is about 20 to 30 degrees above what the normal temperature should be.  

There's a lot of speculation about global climate change.  My own opinion is that climate has been changing for thousands of years.  It's definitely much warmer than when the glacier during the ice age covered most of North America.  The real issue becomes how much is being caused by mankind.  That's a question that will be a topic of discussion for many years to come.

I've been staying busy during the off season.  Hauling is always on the schedule for some one that has a truck.  It's one of the reasons I bought one.  I just like helping people with small projects.  This little truck of mine has hauled more furniture, rocks, sand, compost, mulch, concrete blocks, and tree brush than any other truck that I know.  My Ranger Rick as I call him has been to Las Vegas twice, Canada fishing twice, South Carolina, Texas (Gulf of Mexico) twice, Louisiana, and Many trips to Kansas for gardening shows.  He's 215,000 miles old and still running strong.  Born in 2004, he's covered a lot of territory and still has a lot more to cover.  He, Big Bertha (my chainsaw), and I have been a force to be reckoned with.  Together the dynamic three some has cleaned up a lot of tree carnage from storms.  This year I expect Ranger Rick and I will continue to haul garden and home project materials in a never ending attempt to beautify the world around us.  

I'm down to only one dripping faucet from all the plumbing issues.  I will eventually get around to it or as the Texans say, "I'm fixing to work on it."  I'm sure glad that part of the year's projects are over.

I'll be sliding into gardening real soon and things will be very busy.  I'll try to keep up better with blogging.  I'm even toying with the prospect of videotaping some of my escapades.

What projects do you have in mind for 2017?

Nebraska Dave

Urban Farmer

Friday, January 20, 2017

Finally Gardening begins 

So you ever had those areas that seem to attract junk with the thought of dealing with it later?  Yes, my basement seed starting area was one of those this year.  I decided yesterday to get down there and start cleaning it up.  Card board boxes, wrappings from last year cell starting kits, bits and pieces from small construction projects for the area were all part of the rubble in the middle of the room.  The first order of business was to clear it all out.  I had a 10 foot gutter trough built for the five gallon buckets that had lettuce and radishes growing in last year.  That experiment was a success and I had it in mind to do it again this year but alas Christmas and plumbing issues stole it away from me.
So I decided to modify the gutter to turn it into a seed starting station.  I have enough room for 288 cells.  Leveling and a better hanger for the lights will be next.  Two more lights will be hung over the cell kits.  I have every thing I need to get it done.  Now I just need to muster up the desire and energy.


This is the year for a new phone.  The old phone was so far into the last century that it had no trade in value.  It only took two days for me to figure out how to answer a call.  My daughter and grandson snickered across the room every time I fumbled around with my phone.  You see I was used to poking buttons with the old phone and every thing seems to be a swipe with the new phone.  I've had to retrain all those muscle responses.  So after about three weeks, I have learned every thing I need to know.  I'm sure the phone will do much more than I will ever use.  It's kind of amazing to think that I can hold in one hand held phone more powerful technology than what took the astronauts to the moon.  I now have total access to the entire Internet's knowledge with a simple command of "OK Goggle".

Have a blessed January.  There's another post coming soon.

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year Projects

So let the inside projects begin.  With the toilet not shutting off fixed and the kitchen sink drain leaking fixed, it's time to move on to repairing the washing machine shut off valve.  There are some challenges with this project.

 These shut off valves are old and haven't been turned off in decades.  They have become corroded.  In my experience with this type of valves to put some muscle on them and shut them off is a mistake.  Oh, they will shut off but when turned back on they leak. Then it becomes replace the valve.  That opens up the issue of twisting the pipe in the wall which could lead to breaking the pipe.  Now there's leak behind the drywall.  The first alternative is to always shut off the water to the entire house every time the washing machine needs to be worked on.  Even though that's unhandy, it's the only way to be sure not to disturb the corroded valve and cause unwanted issues.  

These are the parts that will fix the valve issue.  Instead of replacing the valve, I'm just going to put another valve in front of the existing one.  These valves are made different and will not have the shut off issues of the original valves.

Here is the new valves installed with no leaks.  Stage one is complete on the shut off valve replacement.  Now the real transplant needs to be done.  I took down the model, serial number, and stock number of the washing machine to take to the parts place.  The parts guy said it's not on the computer.  This machine is probably 20 years old.  It didn't surprise me that it wasn't in the computer.  So now I have bring in the part to who the parts guy for him to come up with a replacement.  They all kind of work the same and I actually believe I've replaced this one before.

What projects have been keeping you busy these cold Winter days?  Be safe.

Old Nebraska Dave

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Yes, Well, here it is a new year once again. I struggled to stay awake to usher in the New year. Bradley, my 12 year old grandson, made it with abundant energy. After 69 New Years, it just doesn't have the same excitement as when I was younger. So Now we have clean slate for the year. What will be your New Year resolutions? Lose weight seems to be the most popular one in my experience. I'm always competing with weight. I've lost hundreds of pounds over the decades but it seems at the end of each year my weight increases ever so slightly. I guess the inside Winter projects just don't expend enough energy to keep down the tonnage. 

I mostly have given up on resolutions and have plans instead. It gives me the freedom to change the plans at will or eliminate them all together. So what are my plans for the year? I always have way more plans than time to complete them so some come from last year's plans. Many are kind of open ended and will take several years to complete.

1. Continue to develop Terra Nova Gardens. The plans there are to expand the rock lined beds by at least three more. I do want to double the electric fence protected area. It was amazing to see how well the portable electric fence worked last year. That was my greatest success.

2. Work more at bringing my house back into order. Yeah, a lot of hard work for that one. After many years of neglect, I hardly know where to begin. I'll probably start with plumbing. Yes, my favorite thing. Slow running drains, dripping faucets, toilets that don't shut off until the handle is jiggled, clothes washer that drips water when the wash is done, leaky drain pipes under the kitchen sink. Well, you get the idea. Old houses are in a constant state of repair.

3. I really want to write more. Last year was the least amount of blogging for me since I started blogging in 2008. Perhaps I might creep into video some. I have watched hundreds of hours of gardening videos on YouTube over the last three years. Blogging and Vlogging is a good way to keep a record of when things were done.

So here's to an awesome 2017. What are your plans for the New Year?

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer
Omaha Nebraska
GRIT Magazine Blogger