Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Spring Planting and Mowing at the Urban Ranch

A photo of Nebraska DaveI am glad to see you back. It’s been a busy week again. Grab that infamous cup of coffee, sit back and relax for a spell, and let me tell you about what’s been happening on the urban ranch this week.

I love to help other people in between the home projects. So I helped to move a 100 year old upright heavy piano, and, of course, there were steps involved with the move. Then one night I had the pleasure of helping to assemble a propane grill. The grand reward was the delightful steak cooked to perfection from the initial lighting of the grill. Folks, I literally work for food or a good cup of coffee.

There’s a difference between a true rural ranch and an urban ranch. Of course there is the limitation of animals on the urban ranch, and then there’s anything that’s done on the urban ranch, it has to look pretty to keep the neighbors calm. So, I haven’t totally gone green, but I’m trying as much as I can. Lawns are a big thing with urban ranching. Keeping them manicured can be a taxing thing. The weekly cutting does provide green for the compost pile.

Dave mowing the lawn

Here’s a good shot of Old Chomper my cantankerous old Craftsman lawn mower. No one really knows how old he is. He was given to me for doing some gutter cleaning. He’s a bit crabby but has been a faithful lawn mower. It won’t be too long before he will be requiring some replacement parts. Every year the wheels get a little more wobbly. This could be the year of surgical replacement of the wheel joints. I can’t complain though as my joints are acting up and some day will probably need replacing. Anyone notice anything different in the backyard?

Chomper the lawn mower

Yes, you guessed it. The windmill is new. Well, it’s not new but it’s new to the yard. I picked that up helping my Mother-in-law move from a house to an apartment. I not only work for food, I work for stuff as well. It has to be good stuff though.

Lila has really out done herself this year. As I have said in past posts she has spent her entire life under Old Rose the redbud tree. She has blossomed incredibly well this year with full sun. The aroma is heavenly coming from all those blooms. I guess that’s just the way nature is. The death of one thing is replaced by the rising up of another. It will be wonderful to see how she takes over the Spring beauty display in the absence of Old Rose.

Lila the lilac bush

Spring is such a wonderful time. Digging in the dirt just seems like the right thing to do. Onions are one of my favorite things. I decided to give onions a try this year. I don’t believe that I’ve ever tried to grow onions before, so this will be a totally new experiment for the bio intensive garden beds.

Nebraska Dave planting onions

Another thing that I like is Yukon Gold potatoes. Dad inspired me to grow potatoes one year in high school. We planted one and a half acres of potatoes. I never wanted to see another potato as long as I lived after that experience. Then along came the town’s first Mc Donald’s with ... french fries. I told you I was an old guy. I remember when Mc Donald’s displayed their first million hamburgers sold. They used to keep a running tally of burgers sold on their sign. Anyway, I devoted an entire bed to just potatoes. Hopefully I can remember how to grow them. No, I’m not making them all into french fries. I’ve gotten past that and usually eat mine baked. I really like potato soup, too. Oh, yeah, and clam chowder. I don’t remember which one it is, but it’s the one with white sauce, potatoes, and corn. I could use a good recipe if anyone has one.

Nebraska Dave planting potatoes

The weather here has been rather mild this Spring. We haven’t had any bad storms and only gentle rains. The temperatures are usually in the 70s during the day and many times in the 60s at night. Still occasionally we will get a 40-some degree day, but we haven’t had any 30 degree temperature for some time now. I really need to get a soil thermometer to test the soil temperature for planting tomatoes at the right time. I think we could maybe get them in the ground a little early this year with hotcaps in the wing just in case. I checked out the nursery this last weekend, and good golly they got some monster tomato plants. I’d have to dig a foot and a half hole to bury them up to the first leaves or trench them in. I've never seen plants like that before in the nursery.

I did try to start tomato seeds in my green house. “Wait,” you might say, “I didn’t see any green house in the tour.” It’s really really really small.

My greenhouse is tiny

I planted a total of 6 seeds from the packages. What a shock it was to pay $1.95 for 25 seeds. It’s a big package for hardly anything in it. I can remember when Mom ordered seeds through the mail, and the package was fat with seeds. OK, I know that was then and this is now. Of course back then farmers bought seed corn by the bushel and not by the seed count. Anyway, I planted the seeds in the little water expanded pods in the green house, put them gently on the heat mat on top of the fridge, and waited for ten days. Only two seeds sprouted, and they were from the palletized seeds. I tested the seeds by sprinkling them on a moist paper towel, folded the towel over the seeds, inserted them in a Ziploc bag and placed them on the heat mat to see if they would sprout. After 10 days nada, zip, nothing; bad seed; dang big box store anyway. Once again I will have to buy plants from the nursery. The lesson learned was always check your seed. It may be too late to grow plants for this year, but I’m going to keep after the sprouting to have it perfected by next spring.

That’s it for this week. I hope to be farther along with the water tank project by next post and into the poor man’s patio trellis support project. The water tank project will require me to use Sparky my welder to mend a split seam in the side of the tank.

Don’t forget to leave a comment as I always enjoy hearing about what you are doing as well. I’ll try to stay out of trouble, but you know some times ya just gotta do what ya gotta do. Until next time, keep your tools sharp and enjoy the beauty of nature.