Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Terra Nova Gardens Update

A photo of Nebraska Dave It's time for an update on Terra Nova Gardens. A lot has happened since the last post.  I've actually got the deed in my possession.  Once again it was a little disappointing to see the actual deed.  I mentioned in the last post about how unsatisfying the non signing of the final action of acquiring the property was.  Well, the deed was just a piece of regular printer paper basically giving information as to where the property was located and to whom it belonged.  The Notary Public stamp was not even embossed.  It was just a stamp.  I guess I was just expecting a little more flare.  Oh, well, I can get started with some real work now.

It's going to be a long process to bring this property under production.  Since the weather has been so warm I've been able to start work much sooner than I expected.  I first have to start with a story about a man I met on the  first day working at Terra Nova Gardens.  I have nothing but hand tools so armed with a rake, small branch loppers, and a shovel, I started the daunting task of cleaning out the first year's area for gardening.  Along came curious Larry.  He has a son that lives right across the road.  Larry is an old (85 year old) construction worker that basically drives the neighborhood looking for conversation.  We struck up a conversation and I explained that I had plans for a garden on this property.  After a few more minutes of conversations, he indicated that we could get some fuel for his machine, as he called it, and he could scrape all the those weeds off the property.  He never would quite say how much he would charge and always dodged the question.  So for the good sake of the being a good neighbor so to speak, I agreed that he could help.  I really didn't know what to expect.  We climbed in his old beater truck and drove to the gas station for off road diesel fuel.  He used his machine (medium sided Bobcat) and worked for about an hour scraping off the weed, vines, and scrub brush.  After the process was finished, I asked how much I owed him.  He said, "How about 20 bucks."  After I got over the shock of how cheap it was, I couldn't get the money out of the wallet fast enough.  Now it seems that I've made a friend for life as he has made it his mission to watch my property to made sure no one will be messing around with it.Weed free Terra Nova Gardens 

It looks a lot better since the weeds and debris have been scraped off.  I have been able to get a better look at the ground.  I thought the water issue would be not enough but it seems that the issue just might be too much.  There are several wet spots on the property.  The soil in these spots is black mucky sticky dirt.  However, with raised beds I should be OK and probably will have to do much less watering that I had first expected.  I've talked with several neighbors, who probably think I'm a crazy old coot, and have discovered some history of the area.  It seems that this area was a river bottom at one time in the early 1900s until they confined the Missouri river to it's current channel.  The water table is high here and my friend Larry said it would take less than ten foot to hit as much good water as I wanted.  So my spring up behind the other cottonwood tree, which is called in this neighborhood a sink hole, just might supply a goodly amount of water if nurtured in the right way.

Since I am massively ahead of schedule, I decided to cut down part of an old cottonwood tree that would fall right in my gardens should it decide to do that.  As it turned out the tree had a hollow core and most assuredly would at some time fallen in my garden area.  Armed with big Bertha, my chainsaw's name, and all the technical support things that must go with a chainsaw, I started the task of cutting down the 50 foot tree.  After about three hours of nibbling around the base of the tree and many coffee breaks the first crack was heard and the tree moved about a half an inch.  From then on it was give that notch a little buzz and stand back and listen for more cracks and movement.  After three more buzz and runs, the tree let out a major crack and moved another inch.  Two more little nibbles at the back side relief cut and the tree crashed to the ground right where I hoped it would fall.  For the next two days a friend of mine and I sawed away at the tree slowly but surely getting it down to the bare trunk.Terra Nova Tree Down 

It doesn't look too scary now does it?  You can see over on the left side a branch that was buried into the ground when the tree fell. You will see it better when you view the video.  I worked on getting that branch out of the ground for about an hour and a half.  I dug a two foot hole around the branch and it still went deeper in the earth.  I finally just fired up big Bertha and cut the branch off two foot under the ground and covered up the stump.  One thing I did discover was the the dirt had a rich black look and had good texture to it.  In most parts of our city the top soil is a little anemic and is only about 6 inches deep at most then a hard pan clay soil goes on forever.  Here as I dug the two feet down the soil remained the deep rich black earth.  It had a few chunks of small rock in it but all the better for drainage.

If you made it this far and are still with me, then here's a video tour of how Terra Nova Gardens look today.  I hope you are enjoying the reclamation of Terra Nova Gardens.
 

As the sun sets behind the trees, the light grows dim, and the turkeys come to roost high in the trees above Terra Nova Gardens ever watchful for any suspious activity as the nocturnal critters creep out to see what has happened to their world.  Tune in next time for another episode of how Terra Nova Gardens is evolving.  Leave a comment to tell me what you think.  Have I really jumped off the deep end into the deep dark depths of a sink hole or is there hope for this vision?

(Muttering to myself as I walk away from the computer with voice trailing off) Oh man, I'm just not as young as I used to be.  Where is that bottle of Alieve? I sure could use a hot tub right now.  Aw that hot shower and coffee will really feel good tonight.  (big sigh) It was a great day.   I'm going to just sit down here in the recliner for a minute. (big yawn)  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

nebraska dave
1/23/2012 1:20:34 AM

Jessica, thanks for stopping by and leaveing a comment. I have to keep a tight rein on my passion or I will definitely get in over my head. This will have to be a long five year project at this point. Of course, it will actually be a rest of my life project as each year improvements will be made. I'll be able to attempt many different types of gardening as well as have berries and fruit trees. It's a pretty crazy time planning things in my head right now. Have a great day.


nebraska dave
1/23/2012 1:15:39 AM

Barbara, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I wish you well with the sandlot gardening. The chicken waste and any other compostable material will certainly help the soil. I wish you well with all your gardening experiences this year. Have a great Michigan day.


jessica kotzman
1/22/2012 3:43:25 PM

If you are passionate about a project, and it seems you are, You will make it come true.. Look forward to following your progress.


barbara walter
1/22/2012 12:35:21 AM

Sounds like you have a good start on what I have ben "planning" for several years! Also sounds like you have some great soil to work with. I am in SW MI and have pure sand -- great fdor digging post holes, not so great for growing vegetables. However, the chickens & I are working on that.... Good luck, keep us posted on your progress!


nebraska dave
1/20/2012 4:02:54 AM

K.C., thanks for taking time from your busy schedule to stop and see what's up with old Nebraska Dave. As for the typing, I always blame it on the lousy keyboard that can't type right. :0) What ever happened to the giant sunflower seeds? I have a spot for them on Terra Nova Gardens. I hope your new position is everything you hoped it would be. Have a great Mother Earth day.


k.c. compton
1/19/2012 11:08:12 PM

"AS" you tame the wilderness, not "and." If I'd known I was going to make my living in front of a computer, I would have done better in typing class.


k.c. compton
1/19/2012 11:07:11 PM

It sounds like a great project, Dave. Keep you busy and off the streets. We'll look forward to updates and you tame the wilderness. The soil sounds spectacular and as for the sink hole? Grow rice! -- :=]


nebraska dave
1/14/2012 11:28:28 AM

Mary, Thanks for being a faithful reader of my blog posts. The crazy weather has been every where this year. We have had single digits at night the last and now the temperatures will climb back into the 50s tomorrow. I'm glad that you managed to navigate the ice and snow with out any damage to you or your vehicle. Enjoy the weather if you can. Spring is only 65 days away. :0)


mary carton
1/14/2012 4:11:27 AM

Sixties Wed and temps dropping all day yesterday and we had about an inch of snow late yesterday. Parking lot at work was iced over & I had trouble walking down the hill to the hospital. Will be back in the 50's tomorrow. Talk about crazy weather.


nebraska dave
1/14/2012 2:08:34 AM

Cindy, I have been outside working at Terra Nova Gardens. I found out the cottonwood tree is actually a Mulberry tree. We are back down in the single digits again with 50 MPH gusts of wind. It's not fit for man nor beast out there. I bought a few more things for the seed starting station and now only have to get a small clip on fan to simulate wind for the little sprouts to have strong sturdy stems. Only 65 days until Spring. Have a great snowy Michigan day.


nebraska dave
1/14/2012 1:29:18 AM

Allan, Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am trying to get to know the neighbors as much as possible. Maybe if they see that I'm going to be a good neighbor, I'll get better protection of the gardens. I started to mark out the garden beds and actually dug one. It's going to be quite a challenge to tame this property. I found chunks of concrete, broken cement blocks, a piece of car body chrome, a chunk of carpet, and several vine roots. That was just in the first 4X8 foot garden bed. I can't wait to see what happens when I try to dig a hole for a fence post. Have a great day in the kitchen


cindy murphy
1/13/2012 3:38:16 PM

Hi, Dave. We've had some of that unseasonably warm weather too. Last weekend I told Hubs if we had the type of temperatures in March that we're having now, I'd be outside working in the gardens.....even if I had to search for something to do. That's all changed as of yesterday afternoon, though....we're in the middle of a Lake Effect snowstorm (the girls are happy; it's the first school snow day of the year). Bobcat Larry sounds like an interesting character; I'm sure you'll be seeing and hearing a lot from him during the evolution of Terra Nova Gardens.


allan douglas
1/13/2012 2:05:42 PM

CONGRATULATIONS on getting a good start. Isn't it great when you come across folks like Bobcat Larry? I was working on repairing a badly washed out driveway with a rake and shovel one spring when a neighbor I hardly ever see because his house is tucked about 1/4 mile back into the woods came riding over on his tractor with a box grader attached. He spent all morning dressing things up then refused to take any money at all. He accomplished in a few hours what would have taken me a week to do by hand (and might have killed me in the process!). Sounds like you have an ideal situation there: rich soil, ready access to water, watchful neighbors. Couldn't be much better than that!


jeanette lee
1/11/2012 2:58:24 AM

Thanks for sharing Dave!!! This is really exciting!!! It's nice we can share this experience with you!!!


nebraska dave
1/10/2012 10:38:42 PM

Joshua, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. Hopefully by the time I'm 80, Terra Nova Gardens will have been a blooming asset to the neighborhood for many years. For me being 80 would be in about 16 years. I love listening to stories about how things were done in my Grand father's generation. Life was much different back then. Even though it was a hard life, they seemed to have more real life experiences. I guess with no TV, computers, or Wii, it would leave us with a lot more time to have real life experiences, huh. I'm with you neighbor. Life was not meant to just sit down and watch it pass by but to get out there and be a part of it. Have a great day.


joshua barmore
1/10/2012 7:19:51 PM

Dave, I also have a friend in his 80's, he lives across the street from me. My kids call him and his wife pawpaw and mawmaw wheelis. I love sitting in his back yard in the spring and him teling me stories of his childhood. His body shows the years of wear and tear, but he still plants a large garden every year and stays very active. But, as for your Terra Nova, what a great task at hand. When you get done, you will beable to sit back with some coffee and enjoy the fruits of your labor.


nebraska dave
1/10/2012 12:04:36 AM

Mary, thanks for taking time to stop by and leave a comment. I am fearful that if the weather doesn't turn cold soon the same will happen here. Some are saying that the tree buds are already starting to swell. That can't be a good thing with the last frost date being May 15th for this part of the country. I'm planning on getting as much work as possible done while the weather is warm. The planter idea is a great idea but this wood is destined to be firepit wood at both the Urban Ranch (my home) and at Terra Nova Gardens. I plan on building one at both locations. Have a great day.


mary carton
1/9/2012 11:53:23 PM

Dave, I'm glad you got rid of that hollow tree, you never know when they will decide to snap off, esp. if you are working nearby. I'l leave that log in the ground and make a planter or some other yard ornament with it. My 6hp walk behind weed eater is named big Bertha. It's good for neighbors like the guy who cleaned off the area to feel needed. With the price of diesel, he didn't make much off of you. Been warm here also. I'm worried about the fruit trees budding out and a hard freeze hit again. Last time we had a Jan like this we didn't have any fruit due to a late freeze. My daffodils are coming out. Enjoy your new play ground.