Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Gardens at the Urban Ranch

A photo of Nebraska Dave Some of you may have noticed that I have not been frequenting the GRIT website for a time. [We noticed! --Eds.] I, at times, travel with a group from the Southern Baptist Association disaster relief group to places that are needed.  The call came down from the association that we were to stage up to leave for Alabama on May 2nd.  Thirty of us prepared to leave and be fully contained.  That means provision for food, sleeping, all equipment and things necessary to live for 7 to 10 days were to be taken with us. 

Here are two of the five vehicles we staged up to convoy to Alabama.  I'm sure we will get another chance when the flood waters recede.   If you would like to read more about the trip or non trip as it was, you can go to http://olddavesadventures.blogspot.com/ .

Ready for Alabama 

The garden looks a little different than in April.  All the structures are built; the beds are filled with Omagrow soil, a city composted yard waste soil; and most of the watering system is in place.  I'm still tweaking that and probably will be for many years to come.  Ideas about how to improve the system just keep popping into my mind.  I just can't help it.  All the beds are planted except for the cucumbers.  Hopefully, in the next couple days the seeds will be planted directly into the bed.  You can see my rabbit barrier for the radishes and lettuce on the first bed and the fence structure for the cucumbers to climb on the second bed.

Daves May Garden beds 

Here is the new look of beautification for the poor man's living patio trellis.  These hanging baskets are Impatiens that are watered by a low pressure watering system.  Impatiens have grown well on the patio wall so I expect that they will be great in the aerial display.  The sides will be planted with the begonias that you can see still in the flat on the back wall of the patio that  I brought them home in. 

Poor Mans Patio in May

The instructions say to fertilize these plants every three weeks.  I'm not sure that I will be organic with these flowers as I don't intend to eat them.  I'm thinking maybe a good dose of Miracle Gro every three weeks will do the trick.  I know, I can hear the gasping all across GRIT-land.  I'm not a dyed in the wool complete organic gardener either but pretty close.

I really have been researching the living wall idea but I am just not ready to give it a try yet.  A living wall is a vertical wall of what looks to be 4 inch slightly slanted front to back squares that hold soil for planting.  In each pocket of soil, a plant is planted.  The watering is done from the top of the living wall section and trickles down through each level of soil pockets.  It looks like a quite interesting concept of vertical growing.

Ok, I know some of you might be wondering about the front lawn Jerry Baker experiment.  Well here's a picture of the lawn after all the spring applications were applied and one dose of beer formula.  I have since put the first every three week for the rest of the summer dose on the lawn.  It is formulated from beer, corn syrup, household ammonia, liquid fertilizer, and dish soap.  Hmmmmm, I wonder if Impatiens and Begonias like beer?   It's applied through a hose end sprayer.   The two bare spots are due to winter kill and will have to be re seeded.  I think old Jerry has a concoction for starting a new patch of lawn as well.  The back yard is the control for this experiment and just to give the experiment a fair chance I am fertilizing the back yard and watering the back yard in the normal manner.

Daves Front Lawn Experiment May 

The Daffodils and Tulips are bloomed out but the Iris and peonies are starting to show buds that are almost ready to burst into flowering.  Speaking of peonies, I have a miracle peony in my front yard.  This little peony was once big strong and vibrant. Some years ago a very late frost killed it dead or so I thought.  It turned black and did not show a spark of life the rest of the year.  Winter came and went and the spring still showed no life.  The summer came and went still nothing.  I thought the Peony that had bloomed and filled the corner of the house with beauty since 1965 was certainly dead.  The spring of the next year I was quite amazed when a teeny tiny little sprout came poking through the ground and produced one little tiny Peony flower.  I could not believe it.  The next year it came back bigger and stronger and this year it will have several blooms for me to marvel over.  I have another story about a little rose bush that just wouldn't die.  That's for another time.

Daves Front Yard Miracle Peonia 

I had to modify the rain barrel as the spigot came loose from the barrel.  I since have used a regular spigot with a threaded coupler on the inside to hold the spigot in place.  I used two rubber grommets and landscaping adhesive to seal the spigot.  I shouldn't have any trouble with that again.  I decided to feed directly into the main tank instead of back flowing through the watering system.  I put a four gang full flow valve on the main tank to be able to attach four hoses if need be.  A full flow shutoff valve is a over sized shut off valve with a flow through the valve the same rate as through the hose.  Most shut off valves have a smaller flow through the valve than the hose.

 Daves Rain Barrel Number 1 

The main watering tank is now half full just from catching a couple rains.  I am sure it would have been full if I hadn't had some issues with the water flow and the rain barrel spigot.  I covered the tank to keep the debris out of the water and mostly to keep the algae from growing in the tank.  Eventually, I want to have a solar fountain in the tank to keep the algae from growing and to oxygenate the water for the fish that will be in the tank.  This whole project should keep me busy for a long time.

Daves Main Watering Tank 

Well, this week a list of things awaits my attention.  Let's see there's planting the cucumbers, mulching the garden, finishing the watering system, planting the begonias, door locks for my cousin, building raised garden beds for my friend, and work on the fire pit.  Oh, yeah, let's not forget to mow the grass.  That should keep me out of trouble for the week.

What's your week look like?  Don't you just love the spring and all the activity it brings?

nebraska dave
5/30/2011 8:15:12 AM

Mary, the group that I travel with mostly likely will be helping somewhere in the south for many months to come. Our sister state is Arkansas so I expect that might be the area we work in most. Tornadoes are the most unpredictable and scary weather related events in my opinion. We get straight line winds here in Nebraska too. That can be just as harmful to trees and buildings as tornadoes. So far our weather here in Nebraska has been pretty good this year. My cucumbers are just starting to come up. The tomatoes and green peppers are doing great as well as the potatoes. The lettuce is real spotty and I have enough to have maybe one salad but that's OK. I'll plant some more in the fall. The radishes went to all tops and no radish. I'm not sure what's up with that. The onions look great so far. Have a great day in the garden.


mary carton
5/29/2011 11:17:16 PM

Sharron most of Florida is too warm to grow peonies. They need a period of freezing weather to make them bloom.


mary carton
5/29/2011 11:11:01 PM

Dave your project is coming along nicely. Thanks for coming to my home state to help out. The amount of help from through out the country has been amazing. The hospital I work at still has 3 of the victims from the Phil Campbell tornado after more than a month. My cucumbers aren't looking too hot. We had a bad straight line wind storm this past week and didn't have power for over 12 hrs at my house. Some of my friends didn't have power for 2 or 3 days. My neighbor had some very nice squash plants that were broken off and took off like tumbleweeds. Mary at Rosedale Garden


nebraska dave
5/24/2011 3:40:54 PM

Johnna, when I get to point to have fish in the tank my thought is to catch them out of the local water shed lakes for the summer and when the weather starts turning back cold again take them back to the lake and let them have their freedom once again. I'm not sure that I will get there this year. I have installed a water spigot about six inches above the bottom of the rain barrel to allow the attachment of a hose. This hose has been attached to the main tank. The rain barrel is just a buffer for the main tank. When it rains the water comes to fast to allow a 5/8 inch hose to drain into the main tank fast enough. At the moment my main tank is full which will water the garden for about 6 weeks so I have diverted that rain barrel to just run the water in it's normal path down to the street and into the storm drain. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.


nebraska dave
5/24/2011 3:31:59 PM

Sharron, I really don't know anything about peonies. When I bought the house, they were already planted here and well established. They are a beautiful flower and I have enjoyed them for the 25 years that I've lived here. Besides the miracle peony, I have another in the backyard by the telephone pedestal which is in the very back corner of the yard. It is a more colorful dark pink color as opposed to the white one in the front yard. I would suggest you find a reputable nursery in your area and ask them if there is a peony suited for your area. I by no means claim to be an expert in anything related to flowers. It's only by information from my friends here at GRIT that I have some what turned my very black thumb into a green one. I hope you find a peony to enjoy in your Flordia area. Have a great garden day.


nebraska dave
5/24/2011 3:22:00 PM

Carolyn, I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your college friends. There has been so much tragedy across the country this year. I suspect that our team will be sent out many times during the following months to continue to help those that need help with rebuilding. Our group does a lot of help with that as well. It is a great loss to the neighborhood to have a massive amount of trees that stood tall and straight providing decades of shade to be totally destroyed. It sounds like your house has been damaged as well. My prayers go out to you and your family as you begin to recover from this very terrible event. I hope that no one in your family was hurt during the tornado.


nebraska dave
5/24/2011 3:10:08 PM

Belina, I'm not convinced yet that all the interesting concoctions that Jerry Baker has formulated are really necessary to have a good lawn just yet. However, my front lawn is looking pretty compared to past years. I just went to the local library and checked out the book he has written called "Green Grass Magic". In that book is many of his, as he calls them, formulas. These formulas are applied to the grass at different times during the year and have interesting ingredients like household ammonia, beer, corn syrup, and tobacco tea for bugs. If you are really interested in trying his wacky tonics for your grass I would suggest you try getting his book from the library. I hope all your lawn experiences are good ones. Have a great day and thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.


johnna
5/24/2011 10:25:13 AM

What will you do with the fish in the main water tank come winter? Will they die off? Do you run and over flow hose from the top of your blue rain barrel to the main tank? Thank you for sharing.


sharron
5/24/2011 10:09:38 AM

Hi Dave;Do they have a peony that will grow in Florida? If so where could I get one?


carolyn gore
5/24/2011 9:14:15 AM

Thank you for coming to Alabama. There have been so many wonderful people coming and helping after this disaster. May God richly bless you for your compassion. My front yard was beautiful and full of raised beds full of all kinds of flowers that thrive in shade. I had five big trees fall on the house and my yard is now all dirt. People would drive by before just to look at my flowers. I am going to really miss all the beautiful colors. Our neighbor hood was all very shady now there are no trees and many houses are being torn down. Some are rebuilding and some are leaving. We are richly blessed though because most of the people in our neighborhood were not hurt. There were three young college students killed when their house collapse on them. We did not know this for two days and were devastated when we found out. I never realized how hot it can get when you don't have trees. I have the deepest tan that I have had in years and my hair has bleached three shades. God Bless and you are in my prayers.


belinda
5/24/2011 8:57:48 AM

Would you share the recipe for the 'Jerry Baker' lawn experiment?


nebraska dave
5/24/2011 8:43:41 AM

Lynda, thank you for your kinds words. The group I travel with does not forget those in need when the news media moves on to other things. We are a rebuilder group as well. We do respond in disaster times with chainsaw crews and food preparation crews but our main thrust is after things begin to rebuild to find electrical wiring projects in the devastated areas to help those in need. In 2009 we spent one week a month in Texas helping to rebuild from hurricane Gustav. I suspect our group will be involved with many projects over the coming months. I've seen much destruction and even though I've been to these places, I can't imagine what it must be like loosing everything and having to start over in life. I'm glad to hear that your town was spared. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.


lynda swink_2
5/24/2011 6:54:17 AM

Guess I should have read your other page first! :) Nevertheless, your spirit of willingness to help cannot go without mention and appreciation! People like you, and your friends, make the world a better place. Sincerely, Lynda in N. Alabama


lynda swink_2
5/24/2011 6:46:53 AM

Dear Dave, I wanted to take a moment to thank you for coming to Alabama and helping in the cleanup. It certainly is a huge endeavor isn't it? The work will continue for at least a year, and then there will be rebuilding and healing. We were one of the lucky ones. We have no direct damage, but we certainly felt the effects! The EF5 that hit Phil Campbell and traveled all the way across the state and into Tennessee lifted momentarily and spared our little town... but in doing so it dropped pieces of other peoples lives into ours. You cannot drive in any direction and not run into the damage and in some cases utter devastation these tornadoes have left behind. Bless you and those who came with you to help us in this time of need. It is appreciated by all. Sincerely, Lynda in N. Alabama


nebraska dave
5/19/2011 11:08:44 PM

Thank you Dave for your kind words. Minnesota is one of my favorite places. During my youth and teen years I spent many days with a fishing line in the water in the western part of Minnesota. I still love the call of a Loon echoing across the steaming lake in the early morning. It's been many years since I've hear that call. It's been far too long. I try to keep busy around the Urban Ranch. I'm in the middle of building a round patio in the backyard where a Redbud tree stood for many years. This year I hope to get the patio finished in time to toast marshmallows over the fire pit. The wood, by the way, will be from the Redbud tree. Poetic justice don't you think? You sure have put a lot of work into your Arizona place. It really looks nice though. I hope it brings you many years of enjoyment. Have a great Arizona day.


dave larson
5/19/2011 1:25:00 PM

Good Grief, the greenery at your place makes our Arizona desert homestead look like a kitty litter box. It does carry me back a number of years, rather a large number of years, to our 60 acre place in Minnesota. Mowing was a way of life and the need for irrigation was incidental rather than a daily necessity. On the other hand, I haven't used a snow shovel for a long time. Love you blogs!


nebraska dave
5/19/2011 10:37:46 AM

Robyn, yes I definitely know about graduations. My grandson is graduating kindergarten. Can you believe it? They have a graduation for kindergarten? My how things have changed in 50 years. I was elated to get a high school graduation. I am sure that we won't be making huge amounts of food to celebrate a kindergarten graduation. I guess it's a good thing to recognize accomplishments. I hope all your plans work out even better than you have planned. Arizona definitely would be a place to conserve water. There's not a water issue here in Nebraska .... yet. I think we all should be aware of how conserve water because sometime in the future it will become an issue for everyone. What do you think? Many family members live in Las Vegas so I am well aware of the squabbling that goes on for the water in the Colorado river. Have a great day in the garden.


robyn dolan
5/19/2011 9:51:22 AM

Love how the garden's coming along. Here in AZ watering is definitely an issue! You have inspired me to keep working on my system. I have put in a soaker hose, hooked up to the rain barrel. Next will be some drip lines. But first a party to celebrate some milestones in my 8yo son's life;) Gotta go make massive amounts of food now, for Saturday. Have a great weekend!


nebraska dave
5/18/2011 5:39:22 PM

Cindy, always good to hear from you this time of the year. I know that time is precious during the pre planting and during the peak planting time for the nursery. Thank you for leaving a comment. I also have noticed some slow response times for the Website. I spent some time tilling up a garden area for a friend today. She will be planting soon. The weather report says rain for the next two or three days. If we get the rain predicted my main water tank will be full. I have installed an over flow for the system because your comments about washing away the garden. Heaven't sake I don't want that to happen. The radishes are coming along and the lettuce is perking up since the weather warmed up a bit. We almost had a record low last night with 39 but not quite. Today it's back into the 60s. Remember I told you that I was planning to make Mulberry jelly and not fight the neighbor's volunteer trees that like to grow over the fence. Well, while mowing along the fence the last time I checked to see how the mulberries were coming along. Much to my surprise there's not a single berry on the trees this year. I suspect the crazy weather nipped the berries in the bud so to speak. Oh, well, there's plenty to complete around the ranch. Have a great spring planting time. When ever that is.


cindy murphy
5/18/2011 1:44:27 PM

Hi, Dave. I'm gonna make this quick because the site's been loading extremely slow for me, and every time I start to leave a comment, it's taken so long that I've given up, or run out of time, waiting. I so admire your philanthropy; what wonderful things you do for other people! Back at the urban ranch, things are looking great! Like Mountain Woman, we're not ready to plant outside yet...maybe very soon though. I've got all my begonias ready to go; I couldn't resist those eye-popping orange with yellow and pink tinges ones again, and have been dragging them in and out of the garage now for about a week. Oops, I've run out of time. Gotta run! Enjoy your day.


nebraska dave
5/17/2011 7:33:04 PM

MW, We were geared up to be ready for just about anything and everything. Hopefully, it won't be too long before we can head out. We are sort of on standby to go on standby. I really think that after the cleanup we could be spending many weeks helping with the rebuilding. We spent the whole year of 2009 going to Texas one week a month to help with the electrical wiring of several churches that were flooded by hurricane Gustav. Since our sister state is Arkansas, I suspect we might be spending time there. It's really great to have something productive to do during retirement. It's a great life if I just don't weaken. Have a great zoo day on the Vermont homestead.


mountain woman
5/17/2011 10:54:16 AM

Wow, Dave, you sure take some large trailers with you! The work you do for others is so inspiring. You are truly a living example of faith in action. Your garden is beautiful and your plans are amazing and ingenious. Here, although it is green, we are no where near planting outside yet. How I envy you in different growing zones! I look forward to seeing your progress throughout the summer and my wish is that someday Mountain Man and I can visit and share a cup with you while we discuss your adventures.


nebraska dave
5/17/2011 7:50:20 AM

Thanks for taking time to leave a comment. It has been busy around here. I kind of like that after the long winter rest. However, the old body doesn't care for it on some of the most active days. Oh, well, it will get used to it before long. My grandson can gobble up a gallon of dill pickles in about 10 days so I'm trying to store up a supply as much as I can. I just got them planted yesterday. The automatic watering is turned on for the green peppers and close for the tomatoes. Two of my timers apparently need water pressure to turn on. They won't work with low pressure. What's up with that? There's still plenty to do around the ranch. So far my make shift critter control netting has done it's job and kept the critters at bay. I'll make it a little easier to put on and take off later when things settle down a little. Have a great day in the garden.


s.m.r. saia
5/17/2011 6:54:30 AM

Hey N. Dave, sounds like you have been busy! Everything looks great. I can't wait to see your garden as it progresses. I like your rabbit radish guard. Too bad you can't do that with your pansies! Love the patio. It's really nice. I'm with you on going with what does well. It's so much easier on everyone. Are you growing a lot of cucumbers? That's quite a trellis. I like the story about the miracle peony. I love that about gardening, how much plants can live through, even if you've given up on them. Good luck!