Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave


Gardening Updates: June

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveSomehow May has passed me by with great haste and wild abandon. Many things have happened in May. Usually, May is the busiest garden month of the Spring but with ongoing family responsibilities my garden time is cut down to only having enough time to tend three beds out of 12 at Terra Nova Gardens. The rest are covered with tarps to control weeds until such time that I can properly bring them to harvest. I don't see that happening this year. I do have a bucket garden on the back patio with tomatoes and bell peppers. I'm hopeful to get some cucumbers planted as well.

potatoes1

The perimeter of my beds at Terra Nova Gardens are lined with rocks from retaining walls and I'm always on the look out for more rocks. My neighbor just across the road had a load of rocks delivered for his driveway and this is what they delivered. He was thinking gravel and the delivery service was thinking big rocks. So for a few hours of effort I acquired enough rocks to put a second layer on some of the beds. Nice!!

 potatoes2

The potatoes are liking the new raised bed and are growing leaps and bounds. They are already on the verge of blooming. The onions are liking the new bed as well. This bed has been planted with half potatoes and half onions. I haven't really had to deal with watering so far this year. We have had rain quite frequently. Some would say too frequently. Flooding has been a major problem this year for many folks. Fortunately, my properties have escaped the water destruction. Others that I know have not been so fortunate.

Bed 12

The dirt to build the potato raised bed came from this bed which left a 12 inch pit. I'm building a hügelkultur bed here. First I put chemical free grass clippings in the bed.

Bed 12-2

The  power company came by last year and trimmed trees around the power lines. They left piles of wood along the tree line which has dried out nicely. I thought it would be perfect for making a hügelkultur bed.  The wood is in place for about one third of the bed. Now another layer of chemical free grass clippings will be dumped on top of the wood. The last layer will be about 12 to 18 inches of dirt, The newly acquired rocks will layer up the perimeter to keep the bed contents confined. 

Mean while back at the Urban Ranch where I live, life goes on in the back yard.

Bucket tomatoes-2

The patio bucket garden is growing quite well. It took a bit to get started because of the cold weather up until the end of May but now that the temps are up in the 80s every day the tomatoes are really taking off. They are blooming and well on the way to producing a harvest. The empty buckets in the front are for the cucumbers. The seeds have been sprouted and now they need to be planted in the cell trays to grow into strong plants. Then they will be planted in the buckets.  On the backside behind the tomatoes are the bell peppers that also have buds and are close to blooming.

Sprouting Seeds

These are the cucumber seeds sprouting. I like to sprout my seeds to know if they are viable are not. These are old seeds so many have not sprouted but quite a few have. Looks like I'll be having some cucumbers before long. Seeds are placed on a damp paper towel and placed inside a Ziploc bag to keep them moist. The bag is then placed on the regulated heat mat at 80 degrees. Five days later seeds are sprouted. It's a great way to be sure about germination.

I'm hoping that every one is having a prosperous garden year. Have a great day in the garden.

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer

Building a Raised Bed

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

Winter is finally over but Spring didn't really get much of chance to be Spring. Flowers bloomed; trees displayed their flowering excellence; and snow melted away but it stayed cold and dreary all through March and April. Then came the warm rain in April that melted about 18 inches of snow pack almost over night. Terrible flooding resulted and the effects are still being felt in Nebraska from the flood devastation. Fortunately I'm not one that got flooded. I'll take the small amount of water in the basement compared to ten feet of water in the house. Some had flood insurance but most didn't. Many houses were a total loss. One thing I've learned about life is that there will be disasters along the journey of life. It may not be floods but emotional and some time financial devastation happens.  I learned to just keep on trudging forward and eventually things will get better.

Recycling Pallets

Pallets-1

There is granite countertop business near my house. Heavy duty pallets are required to transport granite countertops. These pallets are about 12 feet long and weigh over 100 pounds each. It's a bit of a chore to get them loaded up but well worth the effort. I decided to make a raised bed and see how it holds up. My garden is totally about experimenting with new crazy ideas just to see if it will work. The company just sets them out by the road and lets anyone take them. If no one takes them I suspect they just end up in the landfill. Most things in my gardens are recycled material. I have netted about 150 concrete blocks from the flood zone that a friend has just given to me for helping him. There's probably 50 more he said I could have. Those will be used to make permanent raised beds at Terra Nova Gardens.  

TNG Bed 11

The back side of the pallets were covered with a double layer of weed barrier and set into a ten inch trench around the perimeter of the bed.  Support boards were used across the top to stabilize the bed. A heavy layer of garden waste was dumped in the bed and a 10 inch layer of dirt was shoveled on top of that. 

TNG Bed 11-2

Potatoes were planted on top of the dirt layer and another healthy layer of garden cleanup waste covered the potatoes. Then the bed was filled up with dirt and covered with a four inch layer of fresh grass clippings. 

Half of the 28 foot bed was planted in potatoes. The other half had yellow onions planted just before the fresh layer of grass clippings was applied. The onions are now popping up but no sign of potatoes just yet but with the 80 degree weather over the next few days, I expect they will be showing signs of growth soon.

TNG Bed 11-3

There it is in all it's glory. How long will the untreated wood last before rotting out? I'm not sure. It's heavy duty oak wood so probably at least a couple years maybe.

So on to the next thing and there's always a next thing, isn't there.

Updates on Winter Projects

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveThe winter here in Nebraska rages on. Another six inches of snow fell over the weekend, making driving challenging. Snow blowers bellowed throughout the neighborhood as snow was being thrown high in the air. Temperatures hover in the teens and single digits at night. As for me, I still like using a shovel. So as the sound of roaring snow blowers echo through the neighborhood, my fuel efficient shovel quietly goes about business. It might take a little longer but it keeps a body warm and healthy to use the shovel, don't you think? So as the day comes to an end, all driveways are clear in hopes that spring is quite near. Unfortunately, the forecasters are predicting more snow accumulation of several more inches in a couple days.

New Seed Starting Station

The new seed starting station has been completed.

Seed starting Station b

This seed starting area resides deep in the bowels of my basement right next to the cold storage room that I built some years ago. There are actually three shelves that will need lighting, but for now only one shelf will be used, which will be more than enough for this year. Just this one shelf has the potential to start 588 seeds. It's not pretty, but it is functional.

Kitchen Floor

The kitchen floor is now finished and only the trim needs to have attention.

Kitchen Floor

Yeah, it's finally completed. The quarter round needs to be put back in place, and the kick boards around the kitchen cabinets need to be glued in place. It's been almost a year that I've worked off and on with this floor project. I probably have over 100 hours of work into this floor. Laying down the tile was the easy part. The floor prep took many hours but hopefully it will pay off with a long lasting floor.

Kitchen Wall

The next part of this project is to paint the wall. This wall is in bad shape from years of neglect. 

Kitchen Wall

This wall has many gouges, scratches, and other things that need attention before painting. Once again, the preparation time will be much greater than the actual painting. I probably should have done this painting before I put the nice floor in place, but that's what drop cloths are for, don't you think? I like to put on two coats of Kilz primer before the actual paint, then two coats of paint color to finish up the paint job.  

Do you have any winter projects to finish up before spring arrives? Winter can't hang on too much longer, can it? Stay warm and think spring.

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer


Photos by Nebraska Dave.

GRIT Blogging history

Adventures of Old Nebraska DaveWay way way back in the early days of blogging, GRIT blogs were born. I discovered GRIT blogging in the Fall of 2008. GRIT had started a blogging forum, and those interested in having a blog could apply. I was very hesitant about applying, but I sure liked the content of the blogs. The blog platform was actually started some time during the summer of 2008. July seems to stick in my mind. One of the things that I really liked about blogging was the connection that could be made with the blogger by leaving comments.

In the beginning of GRIT blogging all the GRIT staff had a blog and posted blogs relatively frequent. It was a great way to see what those behind the magazine had a passion for in their personal lives. Since then the staff have faded into the background with other responsibilities and requirements. I kind of miss those days of being able to see what the interests of the editors were. I lurked around the Website and blogs leaving comments on just about every blog post. I really didn't think I had much to offer that would interest anyone for a blog. So for a year I just commented and was thrilled when a blogger would reply. When I finally decided to apply for a blog in February of 2009, my first blog post was received well and to my surprise had several comments.

Over the years many bloggers have come and gone. The quality, style, and look of today's blogs have changed as it does with any media that has lasting longevity. It would be interesting to see if anyone has been actively blogging for longer than my 10 years of GRIT blogging. Some of the bloggers that no longer blog here have their own websites that I frequent, and I have made friends with them through social media. 

My style is still kind of the old original blogger style with just blogging about what's been going on in my garden mostly but with some life passions interspersed at times.

I tried to get back to the original blog post but the archive ends in April of 2010. It was just a blog introduction, and soon I became known as "Nebraska Dave" which has stuck with me throughout my media interests.

I have had several visits to the headquarters of GRIT and Mother Earth magazines in Kansas. They are all great people, and if you ever get a chance to visit, I'm sure you will be welcomed.

The new year has been filled with inside work on my kitchen/dinning room floor. The project is nearing completion.

Dining area

Today, I purchased the last box of peel and stick tiles which should finish up the last area. Some folks crinkle up their nose at peel and stick tiles, but so far I've had a good experience with them. I'm not sure how other folks have laid them down, and my method is a bit laborious, but I think it's the best. I just don't think that trying to stick the tiles down on top of the old floor is a good way to do the new floor. I laid down a 1/4-inch sheathing over the old floor with a liberal supply of glue to hold it down. Screws were used to increase the stability of the subfloor every four inches around the edges of each sheet and every foot elsewhere on the wood. Once that dried, a self leveling compound was used to fill the screw divots and cracks. A good sanding with 60 grit sand paper came next. Then a sweep with a good broom; a careful vacuum; and a through wipe down with a damp sponge. The surface is finally ready to lay down the tiles. Even with all that preparation there seems to be still some grit on the wood. I just used my hand and brushed the wood until no grit could be felt. Then the tiles were laid down. I probably have 100 hours invested in this floor, but I'm hoping that all the tedious prep work will pay off with more than the 10 year guarantee.

So things are moving along toward spring when gardening will gear up.

Seed starting area

This is the sad makeshift seed starting area that I put together last year about this time. It needs some real tender loving destruction and rebuilding. My MOTHER EARTH NEWS garden planner says it's time to start the onion seeds. Oh, boy, I'm behind again. I'm hoping that it won't take long to rebuild at least one layer. I'm planning on three layers with different spacing for new starts, transplanted, and plants ready to go out in the garden. That may not get all completed this year. March is coming up fast, so I better get started.

What all have you been up to this February?

Nebraska Dave
Urban Farmer

Happy New Year 2019

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2019

Winter here in Nebraska has been wild with temperature swings of 50 degrees or more from day to day. Last week temperatures were single digits with a high of 11 degrees. Today on January 4th the temperature will top 50 degrees. I've seen flocks of geese that don't know whether to go North or South. I suspect plants are having a difficult time to decide if it's time to grow or sleep. It is shaping up for an interesting year for gardeners. My plans are always larger than I could possibly accomplish but it's all about a little bit each day and accomplishments will be made.

NEW YEAR RESOLUTIONS

Yeah, New Year Resolutions. I gave them up many years ago. I now have plans for the new year. Plans can be changed, delayed, or even cancelled if need be. Resolutions for me are destined to be broken in my chaotic life. Every day ends quite differently than what I have planned in the morning. This year my plans have the mantra "Finish it" or in the words of a famous Nebraskan comedian "Let's get ur done". I have many projects that are about half done that I started with excitement but were left undone when the excitement left. I know that none of you have have that happen. So the list is long and the plans have been formed. In the words of one of my favorite vlog gardeners, "Just do a little bit and do it often." So here's to 2019's little bit often to finish the undone projects. 

 

WINTER PROJECTS

There's no lack of Winter projects. The number one project for the Winter is to finish the kitchen/dining room floor replacement. It's been under replacement construction since last March. Yeah, it's one of those unfinished projects that lost it's excitement. Kitchen floor

You might remember this mess that started it all when the refrigerator failed while I was away on a trip for a few days. It looks like it had been failing for a long time and I didn't know it.  So the process began in March and is down to the final thrust to finish up the process. 

Kitchen Floor 11

The new fridge and floor is in place in the kitchen area but the dining room area has to be completed. 

BEST THRIFT STORE FIND EVER

I have a good friend that doesn't have a car but likes to visit thrift stores. So a couple times a month I drive her around to do shopping for groceries and stop at a couple thrift stores. She knows that I like gardening and is always on the look out for garden books. She came across the mother of all organic garden books for only $.25.

Rodale gardening book

This book is in perfect condition with over 700 pages of Rodale style information on all aspects of organic gardening. It was printed in 1953 when organic gardening was just being started. Fascinating stuff about composting, bug control, soil life, disease prevention, wild life protection and so much more. It has quickly become my favorite book. I am forever grateful to my friend for watching out for things that interest me. 

ALMOST SEED STARTING TIME

Seed Catalogs 2019

The seed catalogs are starting to arrive in the mailbox which means it's time to think about ordering seeds. My imagination always runs wild and I end up with more seeds than I need or could possibly use. Every year I promise myself not to go over board but so far it hasn't worked.

I have much to do in my seed starting area. I am going completely rebuild the seed starting area to make it bigger and better. I need more seed starting space to grow flowers this year. I've not tried to grow flowers before but I am giving it a try this year. I'm starting with something easy. Marigolds maybe. I like Marigolds and they are said to be good for repelling pests in the garden and attracting bees. Both are beneficial. 

 

GARDEN PLANS

 

I have plans for Terra Nova Gardens this year.

Terra Nova Gardens 2018a

This is not what you want your garden to look like. Due to many higher priorities 2018, it was not a good garden year. The garden for 2019 will look much better.  There are 12 beds in this garden but in 2019 six beds will rest and six will be used to grow vegetables. The six unused beds will be covered with tarps and reconditioned one at a time. Hopefully, it will be more manageable. 

Well, that's all for this week. Have a great day in what ever you are doing and enjoy the Winter rest because Spring is coming and it will soon be garden time once again.

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.

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.







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