Winter Basement Purge

Reader Contribution by Nebraska Dave
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We finally have snagged a bit of snow from this last storm moving across the country. I’d say the final measurement was about four inches, which will be welcome moisture for gardeners and farmers. It was great to get out and shovel some snow. Exercise has been a little sparse this month. The cold vortex bipolar weather has kept me inside more than I would have liked. Bradley and I did hit the slopes today. Well, he hit the slope and I watched from the warmth of my truck. He’s finally old enough to actually go up and down the hill on his own. As much fun as it is to sled down the hill, old grandpa just ain’t as young as he used to be and getting back up that hill is a little more taxing then I remembered it to be in the past.

The great basement purge has begun. “American Pickers” have nothing over my basement. Years of storage and long forgotten memories are stored there. One of the first  things I found was this box that housed the WebTV unit that was my first entry into the Internet. The actual unit has been long gone but finding the box was a memory jogger for sure. Some of the readers probably have no idea why this was such a great thing. WebTV was a cheap way to actually be online without spending a lot of money. Computers were a bit out of my financial ability when they first came out. WebTV hooked up to an average TV and allowed dialup service through the phone line. It had a qwerty cordless keyboard and introduced me to e-mail. It was a brave new world of cyber space. Download speed at that time was a blazing 2.75 K. Yes, that’s right, kilobytes and not giga or even mega. E-mail was entirely text and websites were even less then basic. Message boards were the rage, which are similar to modern day forums but without HTML.

This was an exciting find for sure. Back in the early 1970s my interests were organic gardening magazine Mother Earth News, and the Foxfire books. A high-school teacher decided to keep his class interested in learning, and he would start a class project. The result was this set of Foxfire books. Anyone who is interested in homesteading would benefit by having a set of these books. When I bought these three, it was all that had been published at that time. Who knew that over the next decade the series would grow to 12 books about every thing imaginable. These books are the most in depth and minutely detailed books that I know about homesteading. They were written from interviews taken from 70- and 80-year-old folks in the 1970s. First-hand knowledge, from a generation of people who actually lived the life of pioneers, was written into these books in every detail and many times word for word. Pictures abound to explain the details of all the procedures. These are still available through Amazon and are priced some what reasonable. I’m planning on building out my set and have ordered book 4 and 5.

Boxes of so-last-century electronics will go to Best Buy to be recycled. Yeah, when was the last time you actually saw a 1.2 megabyte 5 1/2-inch floppy drive? Ah, yeah, I’m not talking about the 3 1/2-inch but the first floppies, which were bigger and not in a hard case. It’s like opening up a sealed museum. I’ve just barely scratched the surface. I’ll be pressing onward in the center of the room this next week. Who knows what treasures lie beneath the piles of stuff.

I have decided to try to grow some onions this year from seed. Last year I planted some onion seed directly into the garden soil. I quickly learned that onion seed is a delicate plant in the beginning stages and can’t compete with the fast-growing grasses and and other garden weeds. The tender young seedlings were smothered by the weed growth. This year I have started the seeds inside under the grow lights.

The onion seeds are up and growing. About a week under the plastic wrap with a heat mat and they popped up out of the soil. Now the grow lights are on 12 hours a day and twice to three times a day misting will nurture them along until about 5 inches high. A little bit of a haircut at 5 inches and transplanted into fiber pots to encourage their growth even more. In a couple months the little fellas might have a better chance to compete with the weed growth.

I just received some Walla Walla onion seeds from Baker Creek last week so they will be planted and go on the heat mat next week. I really want to try to save some onions in storage next winter. I have two places to store them. Either my basement storage room or the front part of my garage. Both have low temperatures but don’t freeze.

That’s about all the news from the Urban Ranch. And advice from the old farmer (not me) would be to keep skunks and bankers at a distance.  See ya next time.

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