Grit Blogs >

Adventures of Old Nebraska Dave

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


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.


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. 



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. 


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. 


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. 




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.


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.

Live The Good Life with GRIT!

Grit JulAug 2016At GRIT, we have a tradition of respecting the land that sustains rural America. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing to GRIT through our automatic renewal savings plan. By paying now with a credit card, you save an additional $6 and get 6 issues of GRIT for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and send me one year of GRIT for just $22.95!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me