Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Garden Survival in the Extreme Heat

A photo of Nebraska DaveJuly is slipping away and I heard the first sound of the Katydid which I say means six weeks until fall.  The old farmers used to say it was six weeks until the first frost.  I seriously doubt my area will have frost at the end of August.  It looks like this year we will still be in the inferno until late in the year.  Today is another mid ninety day with no rain in sight for at least another 10 days.  Normal rain fall for July is about four inches but we have had nada, zip, zero rain with blazing heat.  The farming community is desperate for moisture.  Those that can will be irrigating but it cost about $1000 a day to run the irrigation system and it takes three days to make a full circle in the field.  It definitely cuts into the already slim profits.  Farming is the biggest gamble there is.

Boy where to begin since my last blog.  A lot has happened since then.Anchor for picnic table 

A new addition to the garden was a donation of a picnic table in need of a little TLC.  My neighbor next to the Urban Ranch where I live had a huge tree branch fall on the picnic table and break some of the wood and twist the metal frame for the bench on one side.  A plumber's torch to straighten the frame and a trip to the home improvement store for new wood made the table good as new.

Terra Nova Gardens is in the heart of the inner city and really is not in the best of neighborhoods.  I have become acquainted with the immediate neighbors in the area and they continually tell me that theft is a problem.  A nice picnic table would be a great snatch from the property so I devised a way to slow them down just a tad.  I planted a concrete block under the frame of the picnic table, screwed an earth anchor into the ground and put a U-bolt over the table frame, and bolted it loosely to the earth anchor. 
Finished Anchor for Picnic Table 

Next some quickcrete was mixed up and poured into the hole.  Each leg has an anchor like this one making a total anchor weight of nearly 300 pounds.  The table itself weighs about 150 pounds.  The blocks have dirt packed around them and my plan is to put a poor man's patio on top of the whole thing.Garden Picnic Table 

Here you can see the beginning of the poor man's patio under the picnic table.  I would indeed like to see the look on the face of who ever tries to load this table into their truck for a quick grab and run.  It's been a great asset to the property and a big thanks to my neighbor for his donation to the Terra Nova Project.Terra Nova Gardens July 

The fenced in portion of Terra Nova Gardens has been a great success.  I harvested my first tomato on July 11.  My friend who helps me at the garden has actually harvested some beans so I can't lay claim to the first harvest from Terra Nova Gardens.  This tomato will always be special as it's the first thing harvested from the new property.  Many hours of hard work have gone into the taming of the wild virgin territory.
Pumpkins 

The star of the whole garden has been the pumpkins.  The three hills of pumpkins have literally taken over a 30' by 30' area of the garden.  My neighbor across the street from the Urban Ranch where I live wanted pumpkins so I gave him a spot to grow them.  He claims they are nothing special and the seeds just came from a big box store off the rack.  Boy have they grown.  I've had to cut the tendrils to keep them from smothering the watermelons which was another thing my neighbor planted.Groundhog 

One day while sitting at the picnic table pondering the potential of my plantation, this critter came shuffling out of the trees at the back of my property.  I'm not sure where he was going but when he saw me, he made a quick retreat into the depths of trees and weeds.  Great now there's another thing to eat my garden.  The tally of animals seen so far has been rabbits, squirrels, deer, wild turkeys, and now a groundhog.  There have been a couple garden snakes and three hawks that live in the area as well.

Mean while back at the ranch, a new addition has been added there as well.  For those that are just a bit confused, the Urban Ranch is where I live and Terra Nova Gardens is my garden about five miles away from where I live.Different Lawnmower 

My mother in law has a front drive mower and I use it to mow her grass but I've never operated a rear wheel drive lawnmower. The sign said easy start. Yeah, been there before so I was a little skeptical. Imagine my surprise when it started on the first pull and it was easy to pull. The speed lever had two speeds turtle slow and rabbit fast. Since I'm an old Grandpa I selected turtle slow and threw the bar forward to engage the rear drive. Immediately the mower lurched forward at fast rabbit speed. The front wheels popped up in the air. Yes, I popped a wheelie with the mower. I managed to hang onto the handle and catch up with the mower about half way to the back fence at which time I noticed the mower wasn't cutting the grass. Upon farther inspection, another lever was found to engage the cutting blade. I also found that the turtle slow speed didn't work and only the rabbit fast speed worked no matter what was selected on the speed handle. So, blade engaged, one two three, get ready, engage the rear drive and off we roared (mower and me) toward the back fence. Closer and closer to the back fence we came. Finally action was needed to turn around. Yeah, I'm used to front drive and all that's needed is to push down on the handle and lift the font wheels off the ground to turn around. That doesn't quite work with rear drive. The Honda mower climbed half way up the fence before the handle slipped out of my hands and everything shut down. The mower slowly coasted backwards and set all the wheels on the ground, the blade disengaged, and the motor sat purring along as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. By the time the front and back yards were mowed we were getting along much better.

May only gentle rain fall on your crops with moderate temperatures to make them grow.  May harvest abound beyond your capacity to preserve so you will have to give away the overflow.  Stay hydrated my friends.  Until the next time, I'm off to haul more water and keep my shadow in the garden.