Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Garden Projects: Springtime on the Urban Ranch

A photo of Nebraska Dave Hey, it's me again.  I've been trying to stay busy around the ranch.  The weather here has been unpredictable to say the least.  Just ask the weather people.  They are certainly depending on percentages to keep their jobs intact this year.  They hardly ever get it correct.  Thank goodness we have not had the extreme weather folks are getting around the country.  It sure has been crazy hasn't it?  I am counting my lucky stars that the rains have been gentle and refreshing here.  How's the weather been in your part of the country?

Here's the first of many pictures of the poor man's patio.  This I guess would be the before anything trellis picture.  I'll be showing the patio in different stages of grow over the year.  As you remember last year I decided to grow pole beans up the sides of the trellis and had visions of luscious viney growth that would cover the trellis.  Ah, well, that really didn't happen.  Not even a little bit.  You see pole beans are a full sun plant and the patio is a full shade area.  The beans were puny, anorexic, and looked terrible.

You can see the black main line for the drip watering.  My plan for this year will be to have containers up both sides with shade loving plants.  The drip watering will keep them well watered even when I'm away on trips during the summer.  I haven't really decided what should go in the containers yet.  I'm going to concentrate on the trellis this year and not so much on the patio retaining wall as in years past.

 

Daves April patio 

Here's a beginning picture of the garden which will again be taken from the same view every week during the growing season.  The first bed has been planted with onions, radishes, and lettuce.  I will have to cover the bed with netting or the cute little bunny population will think that I've planted it just for their dining delight.  The next bed with the trellis structure will be my cucumber bed this year.  I will be perfecting the pickling process this year as my grandson can consume a gallon of dill pickles every 10 days.  I am going to try to preserve as many as I can.  The next bed will be my Yukon Gold potatoes.  They were a little disappointing last year but the plan is to deep mulch them this year.  The next bed with the upright concrete block will be the green pepper bed and the last bed next to main water tank will be the tomato bed.  Hopefully I can get the potatoes planted this next week.

Daves April Garden 

Here's a picture of the first rain barrel installed.  Well almost installed.  The hose was installed right after this photo was taken.  I have a couple small leaks to fix but overall it worked good when I ran water into the tank.  The hose from this tank was connected to the black  tank in the picture above.

DavesRainBarrel

The roof area for water to this barrel is 12 foot by 24 foot.  That would be 288 square feet of water area.  There is 144 square inches in each square foot which would be 41472 square inches of area.  So in one inch of rain fell on the roof area it would net 41472 cubic inches of water.  You can see where this is headed can't you.  It has all the ear marks of one of those math word problems we all hated so much in math class.  Where were we?  Oh, yes, there is, of course 1728 cubic inches in a cubic foot which would make 24 cubic feet of water from the section of roof running into this rain barrel.  Aren't you glad you decided to read this post?  I bet you never thought you would be barraged with math.  Now we all know there is 7.4805 gallons in one cubic foot.  What, you didn't know that?  Were you sleeping that day in math class?  Ok ok, I must confess, I googled it.  Isn't the Internet a wonderful thing?  Ok so 24 cubic feet is .... I'm just going to use 7.5 to make it easier .... 180 gallons of water.  Are you kidding me?  Please someone tell me that my math is wrong!!  My next problem to solve is how to get 180 gallons of water into a 40 gallon tank.  Yikes, I'm not sure I'm ready for this.

Here's a good shot of the construction on the firepit patio.  I've set about five of the foundation blocks and have maybe 20 more to go.  Hopefully by September I'll be sitting on the patio toasting marshmallows in the cool of the evening.  That's a ways down the road with a lot of digging ahead.  I have settled on poor man's bricks for the patio surface.  What you might ask is a poor man's brick?  It looks like a brick, it's the same size as a brick, and it's laid like a brick, but it's colored concrete molded to look like a brick.   A real brick can run up to three dollars each depending on the brick.  The poor man's brick is $0.48 each.  That's what this retired poor man can afford.

DavesFirepitPatio 

That's it for this time.  I hope that all your projects this year turn out even better than you had planned, that only gentle rains fall at just the right time during the growing season, and that your year end harvest is so abundant that you will have to give some away.  Keep your powder dry and the wind at your back.  See ya next time.

carolyn binder
5/3/2011 4:02:34 PM

Looking good, Dave! Isn't it fun to have multiple projects going at the same time? We always do. It's a wonder when we finish one. Hope all's well in Nebraska!


nebraska dave
4/27/2011 6:11:01 PM

Cindy, that's too funny. I just never thought there would be that much water coming off the roof. When I looked at the downspout during a rain, it didn't look like that much. I might have to think about ganging two forties together. With this first rain, I didn't have the connection to the big tank yet so the collection barrel was connected to a secondary tank in the garden area. After the rain was done I decided to look in the barrel and see if my height calculations were correct. The barrel was half full so I trotted down to the other barrel and unscrewed the three inch cap on the barrel and a three inch geyser came gushing out. I quickly screwed the cap on and connected the big tank into the barrel and drained down the water. It was a huge surprise to me that so much water would be collected from such a small rain. I was going to try to catch the water from all four corners of the house but I think just the back two will be quite enough. It appears that until I get this figured out, one will be quite enough. Have a great nursery/garden day.


cindy murphy
4/27/2011 10:28:10 AM

Looks like you've got quite a number of spring projects going, Dave, and I wouldn't expect anything less from you than working on more than one thing! Me? Not doing so much right now. Spring here has been too cold and too rainy to get out and do much. Soon though....I hope. I’ve got a been-there/done-that response in regards to your musings to Shannon’s comments….about you wondering what would happen if your tank filled, and you ended up with too much water. Last April, I got the brilliant idea to put the rain barrel under the downspout in the vegetable garden. Right there where you need it most, you know. One good, hard April downpour filled the barrel to overflowing, even with hoses connected to both the main spigots and overflow spigot on the barrel (I can’t see it in your photo, but if your barrel doesn’t have an overflow spigot, put one on!. Once the water from the hoses didn’t drain the barrel fast enough, it collected in that little lip on top, and pretty much created a waterfall in the veggie garden, washing all the seeds I’d just planted away. Learned by lesson the hard way with that one, and moved the barrel to another down spout. With rain nearly every day in the past few weeks, I haven't even thought about hooking up the barrel yet. Enjoy the day!


nebraska dave
4/26/2011 6:52:00 PM

Shannon, thank you for your compliments. My garden and watering system is a work in progress. I have a couple drip leaks to fix. One of my tanks took a nose dive in a wind storm before having any water in it and cracked the valves loose. The main tank has a drip still at the bottom of the patch and then another at the spigot. I'm not too worried about those and will fix them the first time the main tank gets close to empty. We had a little rain yesterday and last night so I got to check out how the drain down flow would work back to the main tank for the first rain barrel. It raised the level in the tank by five inches which I equate by doing the math it was about 85 gallons of water. Who knew that much water was coming off the roof. That was just a third of an inch of rain from 1/4 of my roof area. I may have to re design my rain catch system. Just this one barrel could fill my main tank in April if it keeps raining. Then what? I never thought about what would happen if I got too much water. Have a great strawberry harvest day.


s.m.r. saia
4/26/2011 10:57:51 AM

N. Dave I am always so impressed with your work! I love your raised beds, and the watering system you have worked out and built is amazing. I'm with you on trying to outsmart the rabbits. This year I got smart and planted my strawberries in pots on the deck rather than have them down in the garden at ground level. At least I'm thinking it's smarter...I guess I won't know until I start harvesting strawberries - or not! Good luck getting your garden in!


nebraska dave
4/26/2011 8:57:00 AM

Sara, it's been kind a slow weekend and looks to be the same all week. We are getting drizzly rain here. Nothing major but just enough to keep me from working outside. Although the little rain that fell yesterday put another inch into the main water supply tank from my rain barrel. I never knew there was so much water wasted off the roof of a house. Hopefully I will get the potatoes planted this week, but if not then I'll just be eating spuds a little later in the season. There's still plenty of time for that. Everyone here is getting real antsy about getting there garden planted but we still have until the middle of May to get things started in the garden. My radishes are continuing to make giant growth leaps every day. The lettuce is coming right along. I am going to try to get outside and get the lettuce bed covered before the cute bunnies come strolling by. Have a great snowless Vermont Day.


mountain woman
4/26/2011 6:52:58 AM

As always Dave, you are so busy with such wonderful projects and I always enjoy admiring your work. My personal favorite is the fire pit. I'd love to have one but alas I don't think it's in the works. I'll look forward with interest as your garden grows and your projects progress. Have a cup of coffee for me my friend.