Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

The Battle Against Alien Plants from Outer Space

A photo of Nebraska Dave Greetings from the Urban Ranch.  I truly hope and pray that all our fellow GRIT bloggers and readers have not been harmed by the volatile weather that has been causing havoc across the country.  Here in Nebraska we have escaped the brunt of the storms that have ravaged certain parts of GRIT-land.  We have only had normal storms with enjoyable thunder and lightning.  I do like a good thunder storm but not one with tornadoes, hail, or damaging wind.  We did get some hail but it was only a short burst and teeny tiny little balls which were even smaller than a pea.  None of my garden plants were damaged.

The poor man's patio is shaping up for this years display.  Across the top in the hanging baskets are Impatiens and up the sides are Begonias.  I kind of over bought with the Begonias.  I bought a flat of Begonias thinking that there were 24 in a flat when actually as it turns out there are 48 in a flat.  Yeah, so, I've been trying to give them a good home.  So far only 4 have be adopted out.  The four larger containers you see back by the wall on the patio now have zucchini in them.  I've always liked zucchini but have been plagued by vine bores that would kill the plant just as they started producing.  A trip to the local nursery gave the containers one plant and seeds for the other three containers.  So we will see how effective this method of growing zucchini will be.  Anyone out there in GRIT land have good recipes for zucchini bread, or maybe casseroles.  I think I just might need some with four plants.

Poor Mans Patio with living trellis 

As with all working ranches, things break.  Oops, I think I pulled a little hard on that last pull.  I've learned to boldly tear into mechanical things where most fear to go.  Most times it turns out OK.  I've worked on recoil starters before and the trick is to wind up the coil and hold it while threading the rope through the hole while tying a knot in the rope end.  That can be quite a trick and some folks just buy the whole assembly new and eliminate the tedious task of holding a wound up spring while practicing knot tying.  As for me, well, you know me, I'm always up for a challenge.

Chomper the lawnmower with broken starter cord 

After wrestling with the spring and getting the rope through the hole at just the right spot, success rules.  Oh, yeah!!  Oh, yeah!!  Old Chomper, the lawn mower, is once again back on duty in his faithful undying way of keeping the lawn cut.  He has served faithfully for many years here on the Urban Ranch.  He was given to me some years back and needed a little tender loving care to nurse him back to health.  A few minor parts and his life here on the ranch as been remarkably reliable.  He might not look pretty, his wheels wobble a little when pushed across the lawn, and his blade might not be the sharpest in the neighborhood, but when the grass needs mowed, he's the one I can count on to get the job done. 

Chompers repaired rope starter 

Here is the vine plague from outer space.  It sprouts up every year and must be nipped immediately or it will take over the entire side yard.  I mistakenly left it grow one year and had a difficult time untangling the mess from the side yard.  This year I have cleaned it out early so as not to be overcome with frustration.

Side yard vines 

This is what happens if this vine isn't kept under control.  It will invade your land and take over every square inch.  Then in the fall it will generate pods of fluff that looks like cottonwood fuzz and blow out a billion seeds all across the land.  I think it's been sent here by aliens from outer space to terraform the earth.  Run for your life the end is near.

Side yard vine out of control 

One day as I walked past it, the deadly plant reached out and grabbed me.  It was a long and difficult battle between me and the alien plant from outer space.  Relentlessly, I persevered with loppers and choppers until the deadly force of the alien plant was broken and brought under control once again.  There's just nothing like a good fight with an alien plant to make a person sleep better at night.  Once again the neighborhood was safe from the invasion from space.  Hey, Jean, remember the old sixties horror movie called "The Day of the Triffids".  It kind of reminded me of that.

Dave fighting the deadly alien plant 

The Urban Ranch Garden as it looks today.  All is well with the garden so far.  The radishes grew extremely well but went to all top and no radish.  I've never had that happen before.  I suspect the soil might have been just a little rich which made the tops grow out of proportion.  I'm about to take the net off the lettuce and harvest what is there.  I think there's about enough for one salad.  What's there looks really good and next year I'll be definitely planting more.

Urban Ranch Garden May 27 

Well, that's about it for this time.  Until next time keep those plants watered and growing.  Harvest time is coming sooner than you think.  Be sure to leave a comment about how your garden grows.

nebraska dave
6/9/2011 10:05:11 AM

Cindy, I'm so sorry you had to go through so much trauma and anguish. Thank you so much for always being a regular at leaving comments on my blog here at GRIT. It looks like we are done with hot weather for awhile and now the high for today will be 68. It's just crazy trying figure out what's going to happen weather wise every day. The garden plants are surviving the weather just great. The hot weather seemed to stimulate them into a massive growth spurt. I can see just the beginning hint of yellow from a tomato blossom. All the surrounding neighbors are waiting for Old Nebraska Dave's tomatoes to start producing. Well, even Old Nebraska Dave is anticipating that first bite out of the warm just picked sun ripen home grown tomato. There's just nothing like the taste of the first garden fresh tomato with juice flowing down the chin. I hope the weather breaks for you in Michigan as working outside in hot weather will wear a body down. Have a great Nursery/Garden day.


cindy murphy
6/8/2011 11:21:02 AM

Whew! Crisis averted (sort of). Thank goodness, Dave, that you have a good sense of humor. I always enjoy your blogs.


nebraska dave
6/7/2011 4:04:37 PM

Dave, I have a daughter that lives in Las Vegas and I am well aware of that dreaded snake weed. It has roots that go clear down to the earth's molten core I think. It's virtually indestructible and just won't die. She even tried fire and that didn't work either. I don't know how you get rid of that stuff. I truly believe that one of Murphy's laws is that if things will break it will break at the most inopportune time. I can just count on it happening. Most of my life is lived inside Murphy's laws. I think I've invented a few of my own but then they would be Dave's laws wouldn't they. I've learned from experience to just roll with punch and come back up ready to fix what ever is broke. The arbor I built last year and tried to get pole beans to climb up the sides but that was a total bust as the patio is shaded most of the day. This year I installed drip watering to each container and planted Impatiens across the top and Begonias up the side. So far it's been working out great. I have spent many hours sitting on the bench by the house just enjoying the scenery and happenings in the neighborhood. I hope you are not anywhere close to the fires there in Arizonia. Have a great day enjoying your house.


dave larson
6/6/2011 10:22:59 PM

Good Grief Dave, that is indeed the vine that ate Chicago! Here in the desert we have snakeweed and spurge that seem to thrive even in a drought. But nothing quite like that. By the way, when we lived in Minnesota and I still had a lawn to mow, I must have restrung the pull cord on our old Briggs every other year. It became a ritual of sorts. Old lawn mowers do develop a fairly high level of sentient behavior and know just when it is most inconvenient to break. So it goes. Your arbor looks great, by the way. Enjoy your wonderful greenery.


nebraska dave
6/4/2011 9:35:04 AM

Mary, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Those invasive plants are certainly a test of patience and endurance. Aren't they? I've found that the key is to start early and be diligent in keeping these plants under control. I have yet to eradicate any of them totally, but I have been able to eliminate their spread. In my area the cold winters at least kill the plant foliage from the current year and they have to start new the next year. I'm not sure where the alien plant came from. It just appeared about five years ago and started taking over the side yard. I have plans to eventually cover the whole side yard with a patio so maybe just maybe it will kill the plant. Have a great day in the garden.


mary carton
6/4/2011 8:18:47 AM

Dave I have wild grapes coming up everywhere also and I built on land that had been pasture and in the 1800's cotton fields. One is taken over a low growing dogwood, so I'll have to crawl under it to try and dig it out. Chinese privet is taken over in this area also. You get one area cleaned up and a bunch come up elsewhere. The seeds are scattered by the birds. Some where I have a recipe for zuc chips. Mary