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Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Reclamation of Terra Nova Gardens

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveTemperatures are beginning to creep downward as Fall descends upon Nebraska. Leaf color change is in the beginning stages. The lush green continues because of unseasonable rain that has our accumulation well above average for the year.

What should be a month of slowing down of yard work and grass mowing has not happened this year. Weekly mowing continues with the first killing frost date only three weeks away for Nebraska.

Terra Nova Gardens is being slowly reclaimed for planting next year. Big changes are on tap for Terra Nova Gardens next year. Because of the total out of control year that just happened a new plan is in the works.

It's a plan that requires only half of the 12 beds to be planted with six beds not planted and things done to build up the soil for the next year. There's a lot of work to be accomplished before Spring.

garden bed

As you can see Terra Nova Gardens is totally out of control. My time schedule this year just didn't fit into gardening. When I should have been in the garden I was out of town.

When I was in town, it was raining or way to hot to be in the garden. It produced massive weed growth super fast and before I could catch up it was beyond my ability to bring it back to cultivation.

So now in this season, I'm beginning to reclaim the garden. The bones are still under the massive weed mess.

garden bed

A couple hours later, this bed looks a lot better. I'm not quite done with the light soil turn over but it won't be long now. I have used in the past old carpet to cover the soil for weed suppression and it works great.

However, Terra Nova Gardens is by a dirt road and dust flies all the time. When it settles on top of the carpet it has enough soil to sprout weed seeds. The roots will grow down through the carpet and reach into the soil and begin to grow with leaps and bounds.

Periodic turning over of the carpet will keep the weed grown under control but if left for weeks or months... well, you see the result. I have thought about tarps and even began to cover the reclaimed beds with a couple but now I think better of it because no moisture will soak through the tarp. So that would only be a temporary thing.

The backyard garden beds at the Urban Ranch where I live did well this year. Eggplant was the star of the year. However, here in Nebraska, city folks don't really know what an eggplant is or what to do with it.

It's not good to have an abundance of eggplant because even those that want one will only take one for the whole season. Big note for next year: Don't grow so many eggplant even though they are easy to grow.

The bucket garden didn't happen this year but will be moved to the patio next year. A total of 21 buckets will be brought into production on three bottom watering gutters automatically filled with gravity feed from the 400 gallon rain water catch tank. I may have to work out some kind of automatic top watering system as well.

Each garden year brings new challenges, set backs, and surprises. This year the surprise was potatoes.


Who knew that under a totally out of control weed mess that a harvest of potatoes laid wait to be dug up. This hand full of potatoes is a small portion of what remains to be harvested. I took this group home and had a feast for dinner/supper that was so good.

The taste of freshly harvested potatoes is no comparison to the store bought potatoes grown for transportation and storage and not taste. My storage room will be filled with potatoes soon enough. It was total surprise to see such nice potatoes under the lost cause potato bed.

Well, that's all I have for now. Until the next time. I hope and pray that your harvesting will be abundant and last the entire Winter without spoiling.

grit blogger shirt

If you see a guy walking around at the Topeka MEN Fair with this shirt or a white one just like it, stop me and say hi. I would really like to hear about your gardening experiences this year. Hope to see you there.

Photos property of Nebraska Dave.

Building a Home Library and Killing an Alien Vine

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveI just knew that these cooler temperatures wouldn't last. The forecasters have predicted that the 90s will return soon. Today is the first day of a string of 90 degree days.

This week I tackled a couple of tasks. One was the beginning of a library room in my house. I have lots of books that I've accumulated over the years of life. The last couple years I've switched over to the digital format, which will be much easier to manage.

building home library

This is a few of the books that I have moved into the library. I'll be sorting through the stack and keeping some, giving away some, and throwing away the rest. I've already thrown away many old computer books from 20 years ago. Well, actually I recycled them.

home  library desk

It's just a plain simple desk with a chrome book for technology. It's the beginning of claiming my house back to me. This room used to be my grandson's bedroom when he lived at my house for nine years. Now that he and his mom have moved into their own apartment, I am making use of this room for my library and study room. It still has a ways to go but it's a good beginning.

Every year I have the invasion of the alien vine that I swear came to earth on a rock from space and landed in my side yard to sprout and take over the world. Every year I have good intentions of keeping it under control before it gets out of hand and every year about this time I have to deal with the mess because of my procrastination.

backyard jungle

It covers the side of the house, it covers the ground, and it tries to grab anything that walks by. It's the toughest, nastiest, most persistent growth that I have ever encountered. It takes a branch cutter, an ax, a mattock, and even a sawsall to do combat with this tangled mess. It took the better part of a day to untangle and root out this mess.

clean side yard

As the sun slowly sets on the western horizon, the path has once again been cleared to the backyard. Armed with a pint of brush and stump killer, the day ends with a crawl along the ground painting stumps with a hopeful cure to the alien weed from outer space.

brush load pickup truck

After a day of bush hogging, a load of brush was made ready to take to the brush recycle tomorrow. It's been a good day. A nice shower, a hot meal, and a bit of computer time will make for a good night's sleep.

Are there any noxious weed stories to tell out there? I'd like to hear about your battle for the good of all mankind with overly aggressive plants.

Keep your hoe sharp and your mattock handy. Let your garden be familiar with your shadow and feel your footsteps. Until the next time be safe and let the harvesting begin.

— Nebraska Dave

Photos property of Nebraska Dave.

Terra Nova Garden Gone Rogue and Vidor, Texas

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveTemperatures have cooled in Nebraska to a nice 80 degrees during the day and middle '60s at night. It's been wonderful to sleep with open windows once again.

Not much gardening has been going on at Terra Nova Gardens and the entire garden as gone back to natural wild habitat. What once used to be thriving vegetable beds are now head high grass and weeds.

There are many reasons why this dilemma has happened. Some are real and some are just plain old procrastination. I do have a few tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. But for the most part the sweet corn has become raccoon fodder because I didn't get the electric fence up in time to protect it.

Not to be daunted or discouraged, my plans are starting to form for next year. I'm thinking that I've expanded my garden too big too fast and will be considering a smaller more productive garden next year. I'll have the same amount of beds but some will be resting for the next year.

I have enough beds (12) to plant half one year and rejuvenate the other half for the next year's planting. Since I hand dig and trench compost, it would be better if I slowed down a bit and managed my garden better.

One of the things that has kept me away from gardening this year is another love of mine. I went on my first volunteer disaster/rebuild trip about 15 years ago and have loved it ever since. I'm now up to about trip number 31.

A week ago I had opportunity to go with a group of 23 to a place called Vidor, Texas. They were hit with 54 inches of rain in one day when the hurricane blew through. This trip was a rebuild trip for a week.

I got to witness first hand the brutality of Texas heat at its finest. Every day was 105 or more with 90 percent humidity. The task at hand was to completely rewire electrically a church that had water damage.

The flood muck and all the drywall had been removed in preparation for our coming. Some of the group were carpenters and moved walls and doorways for better use of the rooms. Most of the team worked in the sanctuary wiring switches, sockets, and lights.

My task given to me and one other group member was a little different. It was to remove the old service entrance boxes and hang new ones.

old service entrance panels

As you can see my task has challenges. This was outside in the bright Texas sunshine. Rusted bolts, screws, and box lock nuts presented some difficult moments in the tear out.

vidor window bars

A window had to be removed and covered with plywood to accommodate the new service panels. More power is always good right? I'm not sure what the old service was but the new service is going to be 400 amp service.

new service panels

By the end of the week new service panels were in place and this part of the rebuild was complete. The next volunteer group will continue to wire and bring the service inside the building. It was a joy and a privilege to be able to work with a group of dedicated volunteers.

I do wish I had more times to be free of home responsibilities to go on these kinds of trips. There was a time when I had a little more freedom to volunteer with these trips, but not so much in this season of life. Someday maybe that will change. In the mean time there's plenty of projects to keep me busy at home.

How about you? Have you had any interesting adventures this summer?

I hope and pray that you are having a good summer. Be well, eat desert first, sing like no one is listening, and dance like no one is watching.

Nebraska Dave

Photos property of Nebraska Dave.

New Kitchen Floor Part 2 With Heavenly Blue Wall Paint

Spring seems to be struggling to get here this year. One day here and there of 60 degree weather then back into the gloomy cold days of March. I took a soil reading in the garden a couple days ago and it was 40 degrees.

Today is cold and rainy with no chance of sun until day after tomorrow. It's a good day to watch paint dry.

If you remember in the last post this wall was dingy mustard yellow. It took two coats of Kilz primer paint to cover up the ugly stuff. I started asking around as what color I should paint a kitchen. One thing I learned never ask a 90-year-old mother-in-law what color to paint the kitchen.

kitchen wall

Her suggestion was a nice pink color would be nice. Really? A bachelor lives in this house. No way will the kitchen wall be pink. I've decided on a light pastel blue called "Heavenly Blue."

Yeah, it's a little darker than it looked on the color strip. I hope it looks good. I'm somewhat color blind so I need a color that I can see. While driving home from taking my grandson to where he lives now, I looked off in the distant sky and to my astonishment, I saw the same blue color as what was on my kitchen wall. I now understand the name "Heavenly Blue."

kitchen wall

The first section of the kitchen floor has been installed. So now the new refrigerator can be put in its proper place.

So there it is in all its glory fully functional. Three weeks of work around everyday routines finally got a new kitchen floor started and a new refrigerator installed. May this refrigerator last 23 years like the last one did.

kitchen wall

OK, the next step is to continue to work on the kitchen floor. Sheathing to cover the floor with self stick titles seem to be working great. I had some doubt about self-stick titles, but once it gets down on the floor it seems to be just fine. It's much easier than I thought it would be. So things are moving along with the kitchen upgrade.

kitchen floor

I hope all your spring projects are being completed smoothly. I'd be interested in hearing about what you are doing to keep busy in this cold and dreary spring.

Be well and see you here on the blog next time.

Replacing Kitchen Flooring

Kitchen appliances are modern day marvels. No one lives without a refrigerator, stove, or microwave in today's American culture. So when one of the basics fail, it requires immediate action. Even more so when it happens while on vacation.

Upon returning home from a trip to Texas to attend a friend's wedding, I found that my faithful fridge of 20 some years had failed and leaked out a mess. Apparently it was leaking for years and I just didn't know it.

kitchen floor

As you can see things have been happening under the fridge for quite some time. I would say that the fridge hasn't been out of it's cubby for at least 17 years. Maybe it should come out a little more often. So now a simple refrigerator replacement becomes a floor issue as well. So out comes the floor.

kitchen floor

Ok, hmmmm, now what? Spend hours scraping and removing the old flooring? There's no way to match the old floor and besides, who would want to match a 1965 floor? I mean I like retro but even that's a bit much for me. So how do I put a new floor in without tearing out the old? The first step is to level up the area that I removed the old nasty flooring.

kitchen floor

Ok, better. This is just the flooring that replaced the old flooring to make the spot level with the rest of the floor in the kitchen. You can see that there had to be some self leveling patch around the fringe of the new flooring. Ok, on to the next step.

kitchen floor

A 1/4 inch sheathing was screwed over the old floor and will serve as the base for the new flooring title. Now each screw has to be leveled up with a dab of self leveling patch before the actual flooring can be applied. If that's not done a little divot will appear through the vinyl title. So the extra time and effort will pay off in the end. I've learned from experience over the years that haste really does make for a sad looking finished project. The sheathing is 1/4 inch and the vinyl title is about 1/8 inch. When raising up the level of a floor 3/8 inch, a small amount of trim must be trimmed off the bottom of the vertical door opening trim.

kitchen floor

In days of old trimming off the bottom of a vertical piece of door trim would have involved taking the trim off and cutting off a bit of the trim and then installing the trim back on the door frame. Today, with the invention of the blade trimmer, it's a snap. All that's involved is turn on the trimmer and buzz off a small chunk from the bottom without ever removing the trim piece. I'm a firm believer that projects are so I can justify buying tools.

So onward and upward. Kitchen Floor Part 2 will be posted soon. May all your projects be simple, safe, and completed in a timely manner.

Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Plumbing

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave 

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas to one and all.  When the weather outside is frightful, plumbing is so delightful. Yeah, in the words of my so insightful 13-year-old grandson, "Grandpa, you're being sarcastic again aren't you." Yes, yes I am. The sewer gremlins left me a little Christmas present and put it in the bathtub drain. Hmmmm, I'm so blessed that I can hardly stand it. Well, there's more to the story than just this little messy wad. There's a wonderful tool called a Zip It that can be found most anywhere miscellaneous TV pitch add items are sold. It's a skinny piece of plastic with barbs down the strip.  The idea is to poke the strip with barbs down the drain and pull out the hairball that's accumulated in the drain. It looks like it worked really well don't you think? 

Drain Hair

Unfortunately the little gremlins had more up their sleeve. Unknown to me, a bigger wad of hair broke off and was forced down the drain, got stuck in the pipes and totally stopped the water flow.  Murphy's law about if things can get worse, they will always follows me around. Not to be daunted, I pulled out the Big Box store cheapo drain snake and began to poke it down the drain. My drain snake has a cordless drill option so being the handy tech guy that I am, that's the option I used. The snake lodged on something and before my finger came off the cordless drill, snap went the cable. Yes, the cable broke off in the drain. What started out as a simple drain cleanout was now a homeowner's worst nightmare. There comes a time, no matter how handy a home owner is, professional help has to be called. This was one of those times. Within the hour, Bob (not real name) the plumber came and looked at the plumbing from under the tub. His words were "Hmmmm, I've never seen a tub plumbed quite like this before."  Why does that not surprise me. I did learn some thing from the experience with Bob who was very willing to explain how to attack such a task.  When snaking a tub drain, the snake goes down the overflow tube, which should go straight into the P-Trap. Yeah, mine didn't. It had two 90-degree turns before going into the P-trap because of (big sigh) water pipes. Really?  Who designed that? Anyway, we caught a break and found the snake cable that had broken off and become confused with all the twisting and turning and went up the overflow tube instead of down the sewer pipe. It was a simple task to grab a hold of it and pull it out through the overflow tube. Now down the drain with a professional snake for about 25 feet seemed to clear the clog.  When the professional snake came out of the drain a big huge wad of hair was on the end of the cable. So one winter project off the list and I can't wait to get to the next one.  (Big sigh) Another plumbing job. It seems to be my destiny in life.

Faucet Replacement

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas. Faucet replacement came next. This faucet had a drip problem on the hot water side. During the summer months, I didn't have the time to work on it so I just shut off the water to the hot side under the sink. Weeks went by and turned into months without sink hot water in the main bathroom. Finally it came time to pay attention to the little faucet. Now in days past, faucet kits could be purchased and it was a simple task to just replace a washer or two and life was restored to the faucet. When I removed the hot water handle and cap to the shut off valve, parts fell out in pieces and a spring jumped out at me. Yeah, it's another one of those homeowner "Oh, crap" moments. I have in the past been stubborn to the point of I'm going to fix this no matter what. In my old age I've come to understand that trying to put Pandora back in the box so to speak won't bring joy to a job well done and usually resulted in frustration, words that should never be spoken, and a nasty disposition. So in my gray-haired wisdom (well what hair I have left), I trotted on down to the DIY store and bought a new faucet. I still had to roll around under the sink to get it installed, but it went much better than the previous plumbing issue. The faucet gods smiled on me. I'm just getting too old for this house maintenance stuff.

Well, that's my life this last week.  How have you been celebrating the Christmas season? Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night. May all your plumbing issues be small and easy to fix.

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.


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




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