Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Winter projects

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave 

Gardening is over for this year, Christmas cards have been sent, shopping for gifts has been completed, and decorations have been carefully put in place with care. Now begins the winter projects.  The ones that have been literally piling up over the summer.  Those things that I was always going to get around to doing but just never quite had the time to do.

Clothes 2017a

Like all those clothes from the laundry room that need sorting. It's just not one of those tasks that I love to do. It's a necessary responsibility, but even the low priority to-do things get to a point where they can not be put off any longer.  Well, I guess this is at that point.

Ceiling Drain

Yeah, like that hole in the ceiling from emergency plumbing repair. This time, yes there have been other times, I am going to come up with a removable cover for easier access to the plumbing instead of just covering the ceiling with drywall. 

Laundry drain

Yeah, speaking of plumbing. This drain in the laundry was discovered to be totally plugged.  The drain for the washing machine works just fine.  The complication is that this drain is in an area of the house that is on a slab.  So if the trap needs to be replaced, a section of the floor has to be removed to dig out the trap.  Not fun.

Seed Station

Then there's the seed-starting area that needs a total clean to get ready for the next gardening year.  I'm going to use this area to grow microgreens until the seeds are started in February.

Basement

In my spare time the basement clean up is always available to be worked on. Yeah, when my wife died I just shoved a lot of stuff into the basement to deal with later.  Well, that was 16 years ago and the basement is still a mess. My 13-year-old grandson would like to make this a man cave with big screen TV for gaming and a computer desk.

So you see, the next couple months will be filled with plenty of things to work on. Now all I have to do is find the energy and desire to get them done.

You have any winter projects that need attention over the winter months?

Have a great time through the Christmas season and may all your winter projects be completed without complications or extra cost.

Nebraska Dave

 

 

 

Christmas Preparation

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveThanksgiving is now history and my hope is that you have all been stuffed with tasty food, had good conversations, and have been filled with plenty of great memories. Now all eyes have turned toward Christmas and the hustle and bustle for decorating, baking, and present buying has begun in earnest for the coming celebration. I've started the long process of sending out about 80 to 90 Christmas cards to family and friends. The Christmas letter has been drafted and tweaked to perfection, the cards have been found and sorted, and the writing of personal notes for each card has started. For the next two weeks it will be every spare moment devoted to Christmas cards. I don't do much store shopping for Christmas. I'm closing down on Christmas number 70 in my life and I'm just not too inspired to shop until I drop. So everyone knows that they will be getting a gift card from me to spend on what ever they want. I was never too creative when it came to finding gifts for people.

The weather continues to be relatively nice with temps in the 50s and 60s on a daily basis. That is way above normal for Nebraska this time of the year. There is a threat of the first snow of the year next week. I've still been able to work on garden cleanup. The ground is still soft and moist, which makes for easy turning of the soil. I like to turn the soil once in the fall and once in the spring. Some say it might stir up weeds but that's why I do it.  I get them to sprout and use a stirrup hoe and a garden rake to easily cultivate the raised bed. After cultivating three times, the weeds that are going to sprout have been dealt with. The rest of the year will be relatively easy to weed.  After cultivating three times a deep layer of mulch is laid down and planting begins.

This winter I want to grow more microgreens under the grow lights until seed starting time. When I get the push for Christmas done, it will be time to start planting the microgreens. I've had some success the last couple years but the technique changes every year. This year it will be different again. 

Well, yeah, speaking of seeds, it's time to start thinking about ordering seeds. Those seed catalogs are overwhelming to me. I for one just can't picture a tomato any other color than red. I guess I'm just so last century in my gardening. I'm not too willing to experiment with new plants. This year I'll pay attention to where I buy my seeds. Last year I bought an off brand from a big box store and ended up with all Cherry tomatoes instead of Rutgers. You would think after all my years of life I would have learned that cheap is hardly ever better. I won't be doing that again. 

Now that gardening is winding down, inside projects are gearing up. There are plenty of projects to work on that have piled up over the summer. One that is top priority is to get my garage cleaned out to allow my truck to be inside during the winter months. I've taken one load to the landfill with perhaps a couple more before I'm finished. It's amazing how just a couple things in the garage can morph into a garage full of stuff just in one summer. The garage clean out has been long overdue and the addition of a refrigerator given to me that has to reside in the garage generated the garage clean out to begin to find a space. So I better get after it before the snow flies.  

So that's my life for now. How about you? Are you into Christmas or is it just another holiday that you are glad when it's over.


Merry Christmas a

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave 

Thanksgiving is on the horizon and will soon be in the house. All those delicious smells as food is prepared; all those folks scurrying around in the kitchen making sure every thing is just right; and all the conversations about what's happened in lives for the last year make for a wonderful time. The level of activity subsides a little during dinner and continues to slow down after the meal. By the time the sun goes down, naps abound in front of TV. Another Thanksgiving dinner has turned into leftovers. That's another reason I like Thanksgiving. Leftovers are wonder in the days following Thanksgiving.  

My Thanksgiving will be spent with family and friends. The Thanksgiving activities start today. Yes, I know it's not Thanksgiving yet, but a friend has a special Thanksgiving dinner for a select few before Thanksgiving so it doesn't interfere with normal family festivities. I've always had several invitations to be included in family celebrations. I am truly a blessed man. 

Some have not so good memories of family Thanksgivings, but I can't remember a single bad one in our family. I know it's hard to believe, but then maybe the bad ones I just choose not to remember.

I did have one Thanksgiving that bordered on bad but turned out good. The dinner was being prepared at my house by my wife. She was an awesome cook. We had about 15 people at the house. My wife was also a very emotional and sensitive person. About halfway through preparing the dinner, she was too overwhelmed with it all and locked herself in the bedroom and wouldn't come out. It turned out to be the best ever Thanksgiving dinner. The guests pitched in and completed the dinner. A great time was had by all. Even my wife had a good time when she eventually came out of the bedroom. I've learned that seemingly bad situations can turn out to be good memorable ones.

I truly hope all have the best Thanksgiving ever.  May the food be delicious, the leftovers be even more so, and the conversations be encouraging.

thanksgiving wishes



November To-Do Things

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave 

Oh yes, the deep fall temperatures have arrived with a biting wind to accommodate them. There has been lower 20s at night with barely into the 40s during the day for the last week. It's kept me inside thinking about winter projects. 

Bed 4 2017a

This is bed 4 after a good cleanup. The plant debris and weed mess was weed trimmed off and the mulch buried at a shovel's depth. It will be covered with yard waste leaf mulch like the bed next to it for a winter blanket. That completes the formal garden area cleanup. This next week will be in the 50s and 60s so the cleanup will continue. Only five more beds to go and then I can hunker down for the winter.

Bed 11 Harvest 2017

Here's the squash harvest for this year, 75 in all. Some have been given away and some have been stored away for a winter's day. I see eating a lot of squash this winter. I'm thinking that the squash plants will be less next year.

Stir Fry

I have had a couple baked and stuffed squash that were tasty, and this is a stir-fry that I made. My stir-fries are mostly just clean out the fridge and see what happens. Some turn out great and others ... not so much. This one was great with chunks of squash that were first microwaved for 10 minutes then put in with the rest of the stir-fry.

dishwasher installation

The winter projects have begun. During the summer months a friend remodeled his kitchen and gave me the white dishwasher. It was an upgrade from the cheapo that I've used for many years. So the exchange was made on a cold and dreary day with the wind howling outside. The old washer was taken to the recycling center.  The installed dishwater is a much better one. However, it didn't come with a cutlery basket. It was just my luck that I'd already taken the old dishwasher to the recycle center before I discovered the missing item. Amazon came to the rescue. 

A refrigerator came with the dishwasher but it's just a second fridge that will reside in the garage. I wanted it mainly for the freezer space, which I've filled up with garden produce. I suppose the refrigerator side could be used for soda and water. I don't drink much soda, but my daughter and grandson do. My family has always thought my eating habits were a little strange. Eating healthy in the 1980s just wasn't thought about in the same way as today. Anyone who thought about gardening, canning, and living off the land was just weird. The trend is turning back to the basics today and more folks are gardening, even in the city. Almost every neighbor on my street has a couple tomato plants and a pepper or two in the backyard. Salsa is the rage today, to make fresh out of the backyard. I say whatever it takes to inspire people to grow things is OK with me. 

There's always some thing to fix in an old house. Well, some would laugh when I say my house is 52 years old when their house is over 100 years old.  Unfortunately, the very thing I liked about living in this neighborhood has become my plague. Tree roots have begun to creep into the main sewer line. It happens so often now that I will have to learn how to rent the machine and clean out the main line drain on a regular basis. I've discovered that a major name DIY home improvement store rents the machines for a reasonable price, which is much less than a service to come out to do it for me. So I better get to it. I'll let you know how it turns out. 

Have a great day. May all your chores be pleasurable; all your disasters be small; and all your days be filled with joy.

Nebraska Dave

Gardening in November 2017

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave 

November finally brought the fall weather to Nebraska. The temps are 50s during the day and 20s during the night. The killing frost came about 2 1/2 weeks late. For a couple weeks, wind was the weather that kept me inside and not working on the garden cleanup. 

Terra Nova East side fence

This year has been the year of vandalism for the garden. Old rusty chicken wire might keep out rabbits and other creatures, but not so much 13-year-old boys roaming the neighborhood with nothing else to do. This is the second or maybe third time they have vandalized the garden.  Each time the escalation was a bit more than the last. They smashed up two of my big wooden tomato cages beyond repair, dumped over barrels off the mini water tower, and tore a big hole in the chicken wire fence. As I've said in the past, neighbors have taken over watching out for the garden as I live about 20 minutes away. Cops were called and the culprits were caught. I didn't press charges and hopefully this will be the end of damage from them. This area where the garden resides is not the best part of town and I expected a lot more than what I've had over the six years of gardening here.

So anyway, yesterday was a day of fence replacement. It really needed replacing, so the schedule was just stepped up a little sooner. I still have some work to be done on the roadside wooden fence. It's the section that the van smashed through about four years ago. I did my best to get put it all back together, but it just wasn't the same and is now falling apart in those sections. I'm hoping to get that repaired before the snow flies as well.

Bed 3 2017

This is Bed 3, where the green beans grew this year. I had in mind to let them mature after a couple of harvests to have dried beans for soups during the winter. It was such a weed mess due to garden neglect that I just weed-whacked down the whole mess and covered the bed with leaf yard waste from my front yard. Next spring all that cover will be buried at spade depth and the beds will be left bare during the spring season until planting time.

I've found that spring weed control is in three stages. First the early spring seeds sprout and cultivation is just easier without mulch on the soil. Then comes the grasses and finally the bind weed. So a good hula hoe, or some call it a stirrup hoe, on a bed without mulch only takes about 15 minutes to completely cultivate. The mulch is laid down right before planting with more layers as needed during the growing season.

I'm not sure how it happened, but if you look real close, you can see my ghost in the picture. I didn't realize that had happened until I got home and was downloading the pictures to my computer.  It looks pretty creepy to me.

Bed 4 2017

Yup, here's bed 4 with the frost killed eggplant, zucchini, and chard. The chard is still surviving but has a little bit of frost damage. One more good day of fence repair and cleanup will bring the formal part of the garden and fence repair for now to a finish for this year.

Garden View Fall 2017

Here's the garden view as of November 3, 2017. It's starting to look like a winter garden with slumbering raised beds and no green.

I guess it's time to fire up the basement microgreen project that uses the seed starting station. More on that later.

Have a great fall season and Thanksgiving Day.

Garden Harvesting and Winter Preparation

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

I'm not sure where this week went, but I only got to Terra Nova Gardens two days. One day was to fix fence, and the other was to remove all the tomatoes. It seems that something tore a huge hole through the fence. I kind of think that critter stood upright on two legs as there was evidence inside the fence that lead me to believe it was more than just curious neighborhood night critters. Barrels were turned over and things were out of order. The fence that was damaged was a 6-year-old chicken wire fence that needed to be replaced anyway; it was all rusty and crumbly. The chicken wire fence was replaced with a 5-foot steel welded fence with 2-by-4-inch openings. It's a better fence and should last longer.

Terra Nova Fence 2017

This looks like a squash graveyard. The idea when I built this slated wire trellis was to have the squash on the ground and the cucumbers that had been planted behind the squash would climb the trellis. The cucumbers did OK, but they stayed on the ground and the squash took over the trellis. Much to my surprise, the vine borer that kills any kind of vine plant never bothered the cucumbers or the squash. I'm not sure, but perhaps I've stumbled upon a way to confuse the little white moths that lay their eggs on the vine base and allow the their offspring to kill vine plants. I'll give it a try again next year to see if it was a fluke or really is a discovery. 

Squash Bed 2017

The potato crop was a great success this year. I suspect the crop produced somewhere in the vicinity of 50 pounds of potatoes from a patch that was 4-by-28 feet. This picture is just part of the harvest. It's inevitable to stick a few potatoes with the fork while digging them up; that produced 11 quarts of canned potatoes for winter soups. 

Potatoes in Storage 2017

This is the potato bed after the potatoes have been dug and the bed processed for winter. Now the last thing is to cover the bed with fall yard waste that contains leaves and grass mixture. The compost process begins over the winter, and next spring the fall yard waste is buried in the bed to continue to compost and feed the squash planted in this bed. My method of composting is called "direct composting" and the compost is just buried in the growing area instead of allowed to compost down in a pile.

Potato Bed 2017 a

This week will be to clean up the tomato bed and perhaps the green pepper bed. Those dang green peppers just won't quit this year. I'm sure I'll have another bucketful before the plants come out.  Last year I had beautiful plants but not a single pepper.  It sure is making up for it this year.  

Have a great garden week and enjoy the fall weather.

Garden summary

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave 

The end of September and beginning of October was a busy time.  The garden kicked in and was producing an abundance even though it was neglected big time.

Victoria Dinner 1

Harvey came with devastating destruction. It's been a few years since I've gone on a crew to hurricane-damaged areas of the country. I couldn't pass up a chance to go to the Houston area with a chainsaw crew. This group is from the Southern Baptist Convention. On any given day, there was 80 to 90 men and women from all across the country. Crews were sent out each morning with work orders to complete. The orders might include covering a roof with a tarp, or cleaning out moldy, wet drywall, or cutting up fallen trees. There is still so much to clean up and repair even after a month has passed. As with any hurricane, the mosquito population booms and clouds of them roam the land looking for anything to provide their dinner. Fortunately, I'm not one that they seem to like much, but some on the team had to not go out because of being bitten all over their bodies. Mosquito repellent didn't seem to work too well.

It's always good to get together with like-minded folks and help those in need.

Potato Harvest 1

Potato harvest was great this year. I netted probably about 50 pounds of potatoes from a bed that was 4-by-28 feet. Most went right into the basement storage area and some were peeled and canned for soup-making during the dark winter months. The canned ones were ones that were stuck by the fork while digging. That amounted to about 11 quarts. 

Overall the garden did well this year. The tomatoes were a bust because of the mislabeled package. Rutgers tomatoes do not grow the size of a cherry and come in clusters. So I had 12 cherry tomato plants and no Rutgers. I was so disappointed. It's a good thing I have tomatoes from last year that will carry me over to next year. Never will I buy seeds from a big box store again. I learned that lesson the hard way.

As the garden winds down for this year, it's a sad but invigorating time. I'm sad that this year is almost over, but invigorated that the winter resting and planning season is about to begin. This year will be a year of growing microgreens in my seed-starting station. I have found that it's relatively easy to do. So even with the weather outside being frightful, I can still have a hand or two in the dirt.

In some ways it's been a long season, but it seemed to fly by fast. Always at the end of the year, I reflect on the year and surprise myself with how much was accomplished. This year was the same. Next year will be a year with more gardening and less building. All the garden beds are in place and all the fences have been secured, so most concentration can be given to just gardening. Garden projects are by no means finished, but the beds are done for now.  The automatic irrigation system will continue to be perfected both at Terra Nova Gardens and at Urban Ranch.

I hope all your garden experiences for this year were productive as well. Have a great fall season.