Grit Blogs > Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Where did Spring go?

A photo of Nebraska DaveFirst off I want to thank the GRIT IT department for all the efforts they put into fixing GRIT blogging.  This community is a unique website community.  I know of no other website where all bloggers are welcome.  Forums are usually the avenue for members to express themselves.  GRIT has taken a different approach with open blogging.  It has inspired me in so many ways and information has abounded because of this expression.  I know it's a more difficult thing to manage for the website IT guys so thanks again for giving our lifeline back to the GRIT blogging community.Field Kitchen 

Two weeks ago an invitation to be part of a yearly men's camp out gave me opportunity to spend three days deep in the woods with a great group of men.  They have been doing this annual trip for over a decade.  As you can see from this picture of the field kitchen, they have this camping down to a science.  All kinds of man food came from this kitchen.  Bacon, eggs, fried chicken, onion rings, biscuits and gravy, grilled steak, mashed potatoes (no instant), and many other things that men love to eat but really isn't to good for them.  It was a great time.

Old Dave shooting 

You might ask what do men do, other than eat, way out in the deep woods of Nebraska.  Well they shoot guns.  That's what.  I didn't bring any guns but here you can see me preparing to make coleslaw out of a head of cabbage.  The owner of the gun blurted out a bunch of statics about the gun but basically it was Russian sniper rifle.  Yeah, that got my adrenalin flowing for sure.  Rest assured that no animal life was lost .... well other than the cabbage head during the weekend activities.
Old Dave shooting defense weapon
Yeah, you can tell by the bulging belly that this was day three of man food.  Perhaps there's a reason to not eat like that every day.

This gun again has a bunch of statistical information to define it but it's strictly a defense weapon and you can see the 100 round magazine clip bulging from the bottom of the gun.  Guns are fun to shoot and I had a great time

Spring just didn't show up this year in Nebraska.  It's hard to believe that last week we were still having snow and even last night the temperature was a chilly 36 degrees but then in a couple days we will be sweltering in mid 90s.  Where did spring go?  It just didn't happen.  All next week will be highs of 80s and lows in the 60s.  I'm not complaining mind you but I feel that I've been robbed of my favorite season. 

Things are starting to progress in the garden.  Nothing has been planted yet.  My neighbor planted some potatoes, watermelon, and pumpkins but I suspect either the soil is too cold, wet, or both to be favorable for growth.  I've been working on other garden things.  The seedlings are still healthy and strong.  The transplanted tomatoes are doing well and perhaps I'll only have to buy a couple this year just to get early tomatoes for the table salads and, of course, the first bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.  To me it just isn't the start of home grown tomato season without the first BLT.

I've mostly been working on my fence panels.  What I thought would be nearing completion by now is no where near done.  The cold rainy spring has not been favorable to working and painting outside.

Garden Panels ready to be put in place
Here are the two completed panels from the previous post that are about to be set in place.  One thing I forgot to do when building these panels was to make sure they were square.  They are close but not exactly.  Oh, well, gardens are not supposed to perfect, are they?  The foot deep mulch that was spread on the land last fall is doing it's job.  Very few weeds are poking up through the now three inch deep layer of composting mulch.  One issue that I ran into while setting these panels up was digging the post holes.  I wanted to dig down three feet and put two bags of Quikcrete in each post hole to keep the fence panels from blowing over in wind.  However, at two feet I hit water.  After reaching a depth of three feet, a full foot of water stood in the bottom of the hole.  In went the post along with a bag of river rock, then two bags of Quikcrete to hold the post in place.  The only way that panel is going to fall over is if the post breaks off.

Terra Nova Gardens Fencing Panels
Here's the two panels set in place hopefully for many years to come.  Many folks in the neighborhood have commented on how great it looks.  I still can't believe that this is something I created.  Two more fence panels will complete this side of the 30 foot square area.  One panel will have the word "Garden" on it and the last one will have the flowers along the bottom and in the top right corner a big smiling sun.  You can see the pile of pallets in the back ground that will eventually become the other three sides of the fence which will not be painted.  I really wanted to have this fence nearing completion by now but both March and April were a bust for working outside or painting which requires the temperature to be above 50.

Planting has sort of begun.  I have one bed that's in process of preparation for planting.  Since the turkeys like to scratch the seeds out of the ground and eat them, I have purchased some light garden fence four foot by 25 feet with 2inch by 4 inch squares in the fence.  This fence was laid out flat on the ground and pinned in place and then seeds will be planted in the fence squares.  Since the mulch is three inches deep a plug down to the dirt will be taken out of the mulch to expose the soil for planting.  My thought after seeing how deep the corn seed would have to be planted to hit the soil was to fill the hole with a good soil/compost mixture and then plant the seed in that.  It's all experimental but then that's what this garden is all about.

I have 21 Rugosa Rose bushes in route.  They are Maine sea coast hardy and will be planted between the rail fence and the pallet fence.  The catalog information tells me that they grow to be six foot tall and six foot wide in two year's time.  I'm planting them four feet apart so it should end up as a thick hedge.  After a couple years, propagation of more bushes will begin to eventually surround the entire garden area.  With a thick thorny hedge and first line garden defense and a better than four foot wooden fence as second defense, it should slow down the critters a bit.

A week ago was the Bear Creek Planting Festival in Mansfield, Missouri.  I've always wanted to go to one of their festivals for the experience of it.  This was a place way out in the sticks of Missouri about 30 miles from Springfield.  There was an interesting mix of people there.  Speakers in the main tent flowed all day long and was where I mostly spent my two days there.  Our own Hank Will GRIT editor in chief was a speaker there and talked about how to use animals on the homestead for many useful things.  He just couldn't pass up the opportunity to bring some gadgets with him.  (I mean that in a good way Hank).  He brought his pride and joy wheel horse with a seed planter and several shovel cultivator attachments.  I got my copy of "Plowing with Pigs" signed by both Hank and his wife, Karen.  It was good to see them both again.  I met Jere, owner of Bear Creek, and he signed my copy of his book, "The Heirloom Life Gardener".  I recommend both these books for the gardener's library.

Traveling is done for a while so now it's time to get back to work.  Until next time may your rains be gentle and just at the right times;  may the sunshine be warm on your face; and may your harvest abound. Have a great gardening season everyone.  

nebraska dave
5/19/2013 2:28:52 PM

Mary, I haven't been over to Terra Nova Gardens to check on the corn seed that I planted about a week ago. I was going over tomorrow (Monday) but now there's rain in the forecast so maybe not. I'm just glad I got the Urban Ranch (backyard) garden planted before the rain set in again. I hope that you can get your corn to grow this time. The grass and weeds are supercharged here as well. It's been a challenge to stay ahead of the wild growth at Terra Nova Gardens around the perimeter but the mulch weed control in the main garden area has been a great success. Only a few weeds here and there have poked up through the three inch layer of mulch. The third time is a charm and soon you will be growing corn in the garden. Have a great day in the garden.


nebraska dave
5/19/2013 2:22:40 PM

Cindy, we are having 80 degrees every day now and 60s at night. I have my seedling outside all the time now. Some I've planted with some held back just in case the bizarre happens. The weather is so unpredictable this year no one knows what will happen next. Our frost free date here was May 15th but the zones have been bumped and now we are supposedly in zone 5b instead of 5a which would mean our frost free day is a little earlier in May but I'm still going by the old date. I should be able to start planting the big garden (Terra Nova Gardens) next week. Good luck with gardening this year. Have a great day in the garden.


cindy murphy
5/19/2013 1:57:18 PM

Hi, Dave. Spring here was slow to come, and is slow to leave - we had freezing temperatures last weekend. My lettuce was the only thing I've planted in the veggie garden up until that point, and it came through the frost fine, as it should. Feeling quite daring, I planted beans this past week, and put in tomatoes last night. I haven't got the peppers planted yet, but have the plants - Hungarian Wax, and poblanos always seem to be hard to find here for some reason, so I have to get them when I see them, even if it's early. Our last median frost date here is not until Memorial Day, so it's just a bit risky planting them now; ah well, what's life without taking a few risks, eh? Your fence is looking good, and glad to hear the rugosas are on their way. Hope you're enjoying the weekend - it's a beautiful one here!


mary carton
5/19/2013 1:58:27 AM

I went to the Co-op and bought more corn seed. Maybe third time is the charm. 0.69 inches of rain Friday. Hopefully next week I can plow it back up. The 3 acres in the bottom don't look like it was mowed twice. Need to start on that again. We'll be begging for rain this summer. Garden looking good.