Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Backyard Garden Growing Experiment

A photo of Nebraska DaveHey, I'm so glad to see you're back again. I made it back from my trek across Central America and if you really want to read about it, you can go to my personal blog.

It's time to grab a cup of coffee sit back and let me take you on a tour of the Urban Backyard Garden Bio-intensive Vertical Raised Bed Growing Experiment. These pictures were all last fall when the warm weather of November was wafting across the land, and life was good. It did abruptly end when the subzero weather of December hit. Ah but that's just a story to tell the Grandkids about some day.

Urban ranch from the front

So here's my Urban ranch. Over on the left you can see Old Syc the Sycamore tree. He's kind of the nuisance of the neighbor hood. He has big hand sized leaves that dribble off all fall and Winter. Because of the big leaves the slightest breeze will blow them all over the neighborhood which is good for me but everyone knows where they came from ‘cause old Syc is the only Sycamore tree for miles around. On the right with only one branch showing is Elmer the Elm Tree. He's always very nice and quiet and at the mention of frost he does a total leaf drop overnight. The Cedar Tree by the car goes by the name of CC short for Cecelia. She's been trying to take over the drive way for years and I've had to keep her in check with an annual shearing. Let's walk over to the left passed old Syc to the West side of the house. Watch your step now those leaves are a little slippery and lawn has some hidden holes.

The west side of the urban ranch

There you can see the Iris are just about done for this year. There's a good look at my wonderful rabbit sieve chain link fence. I just can't believe that they can get through that fence without even breaking stride. On the left is my neighbor's bush that blooms positively magnificent in the spring. Way in the back you will notice the neighbor's wild Mulberry trees trying to climb over my fence and invade my yard. A branch lopping session every Spring keeps them in check. Mulberry trees grow just about where ever a bird poops in Nebraska. That's about it for here, so let's open the gate and walk around the corner and go into the back yard.

Urban ranch backyard

Here we have a view of the back sliding door steps. The left front we have what used to be a bird feeder pole but now only holds a rain gauge. A little farther down you will notice the patio which has become the staging area for all the projects in progress. On the right are the full sized Hostas. Way in the back by the fence is a bush of some sort that has the most glorious white little flowers with a wonderfull aroma in the spring. To the left of that is the beginning of the raised bed growing experiment area. On the right is a big 8-foot horse tank that will become a water feature someday. Oh yeah, and up the hill on the left by the fence is the composting area.

Raised bed backyard garden expansion

Here's a little closer look at the expansion of the raised beds. The one on the right will be entirely Yukon Gold potatoes this year. I love potatoes and eat them almost every day.

Installing vertical supports in raised bed

I enjoyed the warm November weather and getting the beds hammered together. This bed that I'm working on will be the tomatoes and cucumbers. I took a neighborhood poll and discovered that most everyone liked tomatoes and cucumbers. The support will be the vertical part of the growing experiment.

Squaring the garden supports

All right it's time to get everything squared up so the braces can be screwed on the support structure. One cordless screw driver (the best thing ever invented), a few screws, and 2-by-2s cut to dimension and by golly it ends up being a solid structure. Well, pretty solid. Would you believe a little bit solid? The next one I think I'll use 2-by-4s and maybe try to make it portable.

Raised garden beds ready for planting

So here's the end product for this year. The bed over on the far left will contain the bell pepper plants and onions. Onions are one of my main ingredients in all that I cook. I think I see a lot of salsa on the horizon this fall. I can always find a community mission kitchen that loves to receive fresh vegetables when I can't give any more away and get tired of canning.

There you have it, the Urban Backyard Garden Bio-intensive Vertical Raised Bed Growing Experiment in the nut shell. It's definitely a work in progress and will get expanded again next year. I hope you all enjoyed your tour. See ya all next time, and be sure to leave a comment about what you think.

elizabethsagarminaga
1/14/2015 5:27:31 AM

I visited your link and was really impressed to see this beautiful backyard along with its chain link fence that can prevent your yard from wild animals. Mulberry trees around your yard acts as a fence that not only enhance the beauty but also protect from aggravated burglary. I also work with fencing company in and around California that offers a wide variety of fencing options, including chain link fence installation and hardscape services. Thanks for nice sharing.


s.m.r. saia
4/30/2010 6:12:30 AM

That looks great! I would like to have something that contained and structured, but I'm not that handy with tools. I'm looking forward to seeing everything starting to grow soon!


nebraska dave
4/24/2010 2:45:08 PM

Hortense, thanks for dropping by. I hope you enjoyed the tour of the Urban Ranch. Thank you so much for the information about the bush. I have many times considered cutting down the bush but then Spring comes and it blooms. It puts on such a magnificent display that I just don’t have the heart to get rid of it. So I trim it up and leave it go another year. Spring time for me is the best season ever. The flowers are always so bright and colorful. The Lilac another favorite of mine are just coming into bloom. They are always so fragrant. I love the smell of Lilac. After the Lilac is done it’s almost time for the peonies to bloom. They display their blooms around Memorial Day here in Nebraska. The Iris are really budded out and will most likely break into bloom this week. The Daffodil have already been dead headed as they were done. The tulips are still hanging in there which has quite surprised me. They have completed week number three and counting. I expect your area is a little ahead of Nebraska that is if you are still in Arkansas. I hope you come back and visit again.


nebraska dave
4/24/2010 2:30:53 PM

Mishelle, I did write that I wasn’t much of a traveler. I’m going to quite saying that. As soon as I say I probably won’t be doing that again something comes up and there I go skipping across the country or should I say continent. I really don’t travel for the sake of seeing things along the way. My traveling is usually goal oriented. I like doing the things on the other end of the travel but the travel itself is not the main enjoyment. I hope you enjoy the trip blog. It certainly was a once in a life time trip for sure. It was really interesting to see how third world country people live. What we take for granted here is a luxury there. Clean hot water for showers being what I missed the most. In Nicaragua the water was off when we arrived and we washed out a 5 gallon bucket while standing in the shower. That happens often there and the native people don’t think any thing of it. One never knows when the electrical power will be on or off. It’s quite a different way of living. We may have some troubles here but there’s still no place like the good old U.S.A.


hortense boudreaux
4/24/2010 9:57:41 AM

Hi Dave! I think I may have solved your mystery bush! Some sort of Spiraea/meadowsweet... Had one in central AR and it, along with the honeysuckle, honey locust and yaupon blooming in late April/May made spring official! :) Happy gardening!


mishelle
4/24/2010 8:36:08 AM

Looks impressive Dave! As for central america, didn't you write recently you weren't much of a traveler?! gonna go check that out now!


nebraska dave
4/21/2010 6:12:01 PM

K.C., thanks for stopping by. The Central American Road Trip was indeed a once in a life time event. After traveling all those miles and experiencing all the different cultures, there’s still no place like the good old U.S.A. We can all agree that things are bad here in the economy and jobs, but I’ve yet to hear that we have 50% unemployment like in Nicaragua or that we not only don’t have hot water, but water period. It’s truly an eye opener and I’ll never complain about how bad we have it here again. It rain here today. About an inch of nice gentle rain fell over night through the morning. I expect I’ll cranking old Chomper the lawn mow before the week is over. I did get a hot cap made from PCV pipe and a trash bag. It almost turned out like I pictured it in my mind. There were only some minor changes made while in progress. It sure is getting close to the infamous last frost date here and I have been itching to get started with the tomatoes and bell peppers. It won’t be long now. I might just throw in a tomato early and give the hot cap to try to get a little bit of an early start. I haven’t gotten my soil thermometer yet so I can’t tell how close the temperature is to being ready to plant. I hope everyone’s garden does really well this year.


k.c. compton
4/21/2010 5:20:02 PM

Thanks for sharing this, and also for the blog on your trip through Central America. How hair-raising! Glad all ended well. An epic adventure and a hot shower at the end of the trail--sounds like a pretty good deal to me. --KC


nebraska dave
4/20/2010 10:20:18 PM

Paul, thanks for the encouraging words. I have formulated in my mind the plans for a portable support frame as I really only need one bed to have the supports for the climbing vegetables. I will rotate the beds each year so instead of building a support for each bed I came up with the idea of building a support frame that would fit over the raised beds and could be moved each year to the next bed for the climbing stuff. It works wonderfully well in my head but I know from experience that there could be a snafu or two before I get a working model. It just seems to work that way for me. I’ll have to come visit your personal blog more often to get more ideas about how to conserve space in the Urban backyard plans. I worked on the beginning of the gravity feed watering project today and boy I think it will be about a three aspirin night. I’m just not as young as I once was. Digging and lugging cement blocks around has certainly allowed me to find a muscle or two that hasn’t been used in a while. Best of gardening to you and thanks for stopping by.


paul gardener
4/20/2010 5:30:46 PM

Hey Dave looking good. I always love it when people take us for a walk through their gardens. Makes me feel like I'm taking a visit. I love your garden frames... they look familiar :) I hope yours are as successful as mine have been for me! I look forward to watching your progress. Paul~


nebraska dave
4/20/2010 1:49:50 PM

Hank, thanks for all the kind words. Some times I just never know what will pop up when the day begins. The Nicaragua trip just kind of came up with about three weeks to prepare for it, if there is a way to prepare for such a thing. My motto has become “Live life to it fullest and at the end of life slide in sideways fully spent exclaiming WOW what a ride.” So far life has not disappointed me with surprises. I’m really nothing but an ordinary man that tries to take advantage of every opportunity to make others look good at what they are doing. I’m really a background guy that tries to stay in the back ground. It’s not working too well for me this year. Thanks for stopping by to hand out encouraging words.


hank will_2
4/20/2010 1:16:49 PM

Dave, you continue to be a total inspiration. Thanks for sharing your tour and project. And thanks for giving Lila some light -- I suspect she'll return the favor. Thanks too for all the other work you do to help make this world a better place. I drove from LA to the Sea of Cortez just northeast of La Paz once, but I cannot imagine driving to Nicaragua. What an adventure.


nebraska dave
4/20/2010 12:50:35 PM

Pam, I’m glad that you liked the tour. Last year I just really got tired of canning the produce cause I didn’t want any to go to waste. I think I still have enough to supply the neighborhood. That’s when I came up with the plan to grow what the people in the neighborhood liked so it would be easier to give away. I expect that I will still have plenty to preserve this summer and fall. I used to garden and can many many …. Many years ago and got out of the practice. It just feels right to be back into the growing and preserving again. I never have tried drying anything but I see plenty of dehydrators in the stores. They finally have come down in price that I could actually consider trying to dehydrate something. Have you ever dehydrated? Gardens do have a way of growing not only vegetables but in size as well. I started with just one small area and expanded it to three and will be expanding it again to five. There’s just never enough space to grow everything. Now my daughter wants sweet corn. That takes up a lot of room. I’m not sure how I’m going to handle that. Community garden maybe. Thanks for stopping by and I’ll catch up with you next time.


nebraska dave
4/20/2010 12:43:45 PM

MW, Oh yes coffee. I must have coffee in the morning. Thank you for the compliments on the house. It’s still a work in progress as you can tell by the backyard. I’m attempting to spruce up the inside as well with bathroom updating. I expect to have many years of work to keep me plenty busy and out of trouble. The vertical growing I have been reading about this last long cold Winter when there was nothing else to do but watch the temperature drop and the snow fall. I just could hardly wait to get out in the dirt as Spring arrived. My scrawny little Lilac bush named Lila is giving her best to bloom but she’s been under the shade of old Rose for so long that she doesn’t really know how to react with full sun. She’s just starting to break out in bloom so maybe in another week she will be in her best bloomage (yeah I know I made up that word). So I lift my coffee cup high and say, “This will be the day that I work on backyard projects.” Well maybe a hour or two. Aaah, would you believe I’m going to think about it. :0) Thanks for stopping by and I hope all your gardening goes well today.


nebraska dave
4/20/2010 12:31:38 PM

Cindy, Oh yeah first things first and that’s usually coffee. Sandy soil can be a boon or a bust just as you say. I’ve heard that melons love sandy soil but as you know there are some plants that just don’t care for it. I really like the idea of barter gardening. It cuts down on the amount of different types of vegetables. So far I haven’t tried to grow the green stuff like lettuce, collards, or radishes. I am expanding the garden again for next year which will allow for the early stuff. I know about the zucchini. Here we have the vine bore that bores its way up the center stalk just about the time the zucchini starts to produce and flattens the plant. If the bore can be controlled you are right about the abundance of zucchini. To raise or not to raise that is the question about gardening. Raised beds are something different and new to experiment with. I would say that I like the challenge of it more than any thing. Vertical is a new thing for me as well. I hope that it will all come together as the summer progresses. Thanks for stopping by.


pam_6
4/20/2010 9:10:22 AM

Hi Nebraska Dave, I enjoyed the tour and just love your raised beds. It is nice you have sharing on your mind because I know how vegetables can really produce. I also checked out your blog of your trek across Central America. I plan on going back to it when I have a little more time. The pictures are great. Good luck with your planting. We have just finished planting what was going to be a small garden but it somehow grew and grew in to a great big garden. I can't wait until it produces! Have a great day. Pam Life on a Southern Farm


mountain woman
4/20/2010 7:12:39 AM

Good Morning Nebraska Dave, So glad I found this entry this morning because I have my cup of coffee :-) I have to say your home is lovely. Yellow is my favorite color and your home looks so welcoming. I loved the photo tour immensely. I think your idea with having the beds go vertical is really creative and it should work well. I can't wait to read more about it and I'm off to visit your personal blog as well.


cindy murphy
4/20/2010 5:31:11 AM

'Morning, Dave. I've had my cup of coffee, and have enjoyed the tour. I like your idea of growing what your neighbors like, so when you pawn off that abundance of veggies on them, they'll actually enjoy it, (ever try to get rid of excess zucchini; it becomes a nightmare after a couple of days?). I've gone back and forth, debating on whether or not to put in raised beds. The soil in our vegetable garden is incredibly sandy, even after years of adding organic matter and compost. A few things though - spinach and mustard greens, which are already in and sprouting; peas, which I'm skipping this year; green beans, squash, potatoes, parsley and chives all do very well in the existing soil. We happen to like these things, so I think to myself 'are raised beds really necessary?' But I can't grow a decent tomato in the sandy stuff to save my life. That's where the neighbor comes in - he's got raised beds, and always puts in an over-abundance of tomato plants. It's a trade - they get greens and beans in exchange for tomatoes. Not a bad deal at all. Looking forward throughout the summer to see how your experiment progresses.