Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15th 2014 Garden update/What's growing on & Gardening Tasks

The blueberry bushes, peach trees, pear trees, and plum tree and grape vines are blooming. The fig and cherry trees are not showing much sign of life, but I have some hope for them.

Peach tree blooming (20+ years old)
 Ground violets are covering my Mom's yard and many other neighboring yards...no need to mow a beautiful lawn...The hyacinths are growing lovely. Our rock wall is coming along slow, but it is the least of my worries.


Rock wall for smothering ivy/thorns/weeds

It has been raining every 2-3 days; so I have been collecting rain water in tubs and buckets for watering my starter plants.

My partner James and I have been busy in the last two weeks. In between rains we have aerated the soil for our potato garden by shoveling and tilling. So far we have hoed six wide rows and planted 75 lbs of potatoes (25 lb of Ukon Gold and 50 lb of Kennebec potatoes).
We have another 50 lb of Kennebec potatoes we must plant after the upcoming rain. It's supposed to rain Monday and snow on Tuesday, so I will be back to hoeing and tilling on Thursday, hopefully the garden will be dry by then.

Last week I had planted cantaloupe, watermelon, and tomatoes in starter containers; and sewed varieties of lettuce, kale, spinach, and peas in my garden.
Varieties of greens that went in the garden
Tomatoes sprouting in cantaloupe starters, haha

Starter containers of watermelon and cantaloupe
Last week I also mentioned (here) that I transplanted what I thought was squash and cucumber seedlings. Unfortunately as they sprouted their third and fourth leaves, I realized they were weeds! What a disappointment, but I ripped all of them up and planted cantaloupe and tomatoes in the tubs. 

Ripping up weeds for tomato starting containers
Tomato and cantaloupe starting containers with
glass lids for solarium effect

In larger pots I planted peas, spinach, and herbs (mint and parsley). The peas have already sprouted in just a couple of days, whereas my garden peas have not thought about sprouting (after a week)!

Pots of spinach, peas, and herbs

Overall I have been focusing much attention to the potato garden and our strawberry gardens. We have a total of three strawberry beds. The picture below is our third bed that we constructed with logs, dirt from around the yard, and compost on top. Several weeks ago I filled a second strawberry bed of most of the compost I had left too.

This is actually the third strawberry bed we made
This is the first strawberry bed we made out
of logs and compost/mulched with leaves and
 pine needles

Total of 18 strawberry plants!

We may find more logs in the woods to construct a fourth strawberry bed, but we'll see as I have many tasks ahead of me...

In the upcoming weeks I will be transplanting tomato and pepper starters in the ground.
At the beginning of May I will be planting Non-GMO varieties of beans.
My cousin Lisa and her son want us to shovel and till a garden at her house, so I will find the time to do that in the following weeks. I'm sure she only wants a couple of rows for beans and tomatoes. Very simple.

At the beginning of May, I will also be planting corn across the road from my Grandparent's house.
In one garden (at my grandparent's house), I will sewing cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, butternut squash, beans, and (perhaps) more lettuce or other types of greens directly in the ground.
Later towards June I will transplant my watermelon and cantaloupe starters in my garden (at my Mom's house).

Leaves for mulch
 As I have said, I have taken on little side projects when I am not planting potatoes or greens in the garden, or starting tomato and melons indoors. For example, I am working on the rock wall in front my of my Mom's house which is usually taken over by ivy and thorny bushes. I have been working on the strawberry beds, and collecting rain for watering pepper, tomato, and melon starters. Well I have also hauled lots of leaves with trash bags from the woods, in order to mulch the garden, but I have been using the leaves to mulch the fruit trees and bushes. It's a good thing I did too (and covered the strawberry bed) because Kentucky got a snow and ice last night. It was 83 degrees yesterday!
Actually I talk about seasonal tasks in the garden, what to plant at this time; and also what foods produce the best in the video below. If you're interested, feel free to watch. :)

I have another video I made today, I will have to upload to YT before posting to here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 6th 2014 Garden update, what to start indoors, transplant, and sow

Yesterday I planted watermelon seeds in starter pots with compost I made. I am keeping the watermelon starters indoors until they sprout. Transparent, plastic sheeting is covering the watermelon for extra heat and condensation (to retain moisture). I actually have demonstrated starting watermelon seeds (plus gardening tips) in the video below.

Today my partner transplanted four blueberry bushes and tilled in one of our gardens. I planted six strawberry plants in our new compost bed at my Mom's; and sowed iceberg, buttercrunch lettuce and several other lettuce varieties, kale, peas, and spinach (at my Grandparents).

We have been trying a new technique my grandpa suggested. Mix small seeds like lettuce, kale, turnips with wood ash (Save the ash in containers after burning wood). Mixing ash with the small seeds allows you to see where you are sowing. Plus the potassium and nitrogen and other minerals jump starts the seeds, acting like a fertilize.
Although I used a lot of ash over the rows, the rain will wash most of it away yet enough to nourish the seeds and ground.
These popped up in my garden, I am not sure if they're squash or melon sprouts
Squash sprouts were growing in my garden, so I transplanted 50+ into tubs with compost.
I covered the tubs of squash sprouts with transparent, plastic sheeting as well. I am keeping these indoors for now.

It will be raining all day tomorrow, which is why we hustled to transplant fruit plants and sow seeds. However the wind and sun for the next few days will dry out the ground, allowing us to shovel and till Tuesday.

On Tuesday through Thursday, we will shovel my grandparent's garden to till and plant 100+ pounds of potato seed. Along with shoveling and tilling, I am planting 100+ cantaloupe seeds, tomato and pepper seeds in starter pots.

I Transplanted sprouts into compost to mature, in May I will
transplant a second time into the garden.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Spring & Summer Garden Layout

As you know I am not taking my trip across America, see post here.
New strawberry bed with my compost!
I have had much to do since I got back from NC. Now that I am back in KY, I have tilled one of my gardens which I will turn into a Melon patch (watermelon and cantaloupe).
I also had someone plow one of my gardens that I will be dedicating to corn, beans, and tomatoes.
The other day I collected leaves from the woods and brought down to one of my gardens. Yesterday in the same garden I started a fire to burn off some weeds around the outline of the garden.
Basically I am working with two additional gardens along with my usual three gardens. I have my Mom's backyard garden where I grew tomatoes and peppers last year. I will also be growing tomatoes and peppers there again. Also on my Mom's property I have a separate triangle garden where I grew broccoli and cabbage and lettuce last year, that I will be dedicating to melons this summer. I have added a raised bed over the winter where I will be growing more strawberries with my other strawberry patch (in the picture at right).

At my Grandparent's, I have my large garden where I will be growing greens, cucumbers, beans, squash, and potatoes. Plus I have a new garden at my Grandparent's (that I had plowed for corn, beans, and tomatoes).
My cousin Lisa still wants me to work on her garden, so I will have a fifth garden to work on that I will be growing beans and tomatoes in!
Overall I have five gardens with additional raised beds and fruit trees/bushes to tend to. My five gardens will be focusing on the staples: potatoes, beans, tomatoes, corn, lettuce, squash, cucumbers, peppers, and melons. These will be grown during the Spring and Summer. I will focus on root vegetables this Fall when I can construct additional raised beds. I will also be growing a continual supply of lettuce and tender greens throughout the year.
I am glad I chose to come back home to garden because I have many ideas and projects ahead of me!
Below I have a basic layout of my TWO MAIN gardens (Mom's and Grandparents):

One of my main gardens at my Grandparents
 As you can see in the above picture, I have my main garden for squash, beans, lettuce, cucumbers, and potatoes. I have a new garden that will be growing corn but I may also grow beans and tomatoes in the patch. You can see I have some fruit around my Grandparent's too!

One of my main gardens at my Mom's
In the above picture, I have my main garden I am growing half tomatoes and half peppers. I also have a triangle garden dedicated to melons. You can see my raised beds for strawberries. I forgot to add my other raised bed I am using to grow herbs. You can also see my fruit and nut trees around the property.

Today I planted some watermelon seeds indoors, so I will be transplanting them at the first of May. Considering I have had a late start, I have not started any other vegetables indoors, so I am going to purchase or come across tomato starters. I will plant cucumbers, squash, beans, and corn directly in the ground.
Stay tuned for more updates, pictures, and tips. Check out my new video here where I demonstrate how I started watermelon seeds indoors.
I have included some of my best tips with starting seeds indoors within the video.

Remember to check out my other blog posts on gardening that will help you prepare, get started, and avoid gardening mistakes:

Gardening Mistakes 2013 & Tips + Photos
4 Mistakes I've Made as a First year gardener
My Vegan Garden Calendar for 2013
Grow Food in Feb, March, & April
What Vegetables to Grow in the Summer
Garden Prep (What I'm doing to prepare for Spring Gardening)
How to Plan your Summer Garden

Saturday, March 22, 2014

walking across country update

My partner and I attempted our walk on the 18th and ended up coming home the next day! We camped overnight at Paris Mountain State Park in South Carolina.
The night was warm up until midnight, of course we stayed uncomfortable and cold in the morning hours.
Within the night we had a discussion about continuing the walk across country, so we decided --within just a couple of hours of attempting this feat-- that we may not be able to do this physically and emotionally.
So The following morning we walked back into town at Traveler's Rest, about 10 mile walk in the blazing hot sun...

We walked passed Lake Placid and a waterway, lots of ponds, animals, beautiful flower beds and decorated yards. I loved walking in South Carolina~
The 10 miles or so we walked was beautiful and enjoyable in that sense, and that was why I wanted to walk across country, but the weight of our backpacks was too heavy!

I was a little disappointed that I couldn't carry 30 lbs as far as 10 miles!

Luckily, we caught a ride with a young guy who so happened to be a biker, and an avid camper too. He gave us a lift for a couple of miles. He was such a nice, polite guy-- he ended up checking back in with us as he was going back out of town-- he noticed that we hadn't left the location he dropped us off at. Of course our ride back home hadn't made it, yet. Actually we done a little more walking back-and-forth to watch for our ride.

Of course the weight our packs needed to be lightened. I needed to avoid carrying so much food. I didn't really need to carry a pot around with me. Also I had an extensive first aid kit that needed to have been reduced. I carried what felt like 30 lbs and James carried about 40 lbs because of the tent.

However it wasn't just the weight of our packs that was holding us back from continuing.
The walk seemed a little daunting. And perhaps we were running away from the inevitable-- getting jobs to afford land. So it seemed I was running away from my long term goals. Then again, if you adopt a nomadic lifestyle-- is your main goal but food, water, shelter?

I may do this walk in the future-- perhaps I need more time for preparation, more investment. I want to see the monuments of Utah, the forests in California, foraging fruit in Arizona, Mt Rushmore of South Dakota, find gems in Colorado, soak in the hot springs of Washington...

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Top 5 Foods I Eat the most

I choose what I eat by the quality of the food.
Will this food make me feel good tomorrow, or will I regret eating this?
Will this food supply me with nutrition?
I crave sugar, so I eat fruit instead of cake containing oils, salts, flours, and refined sugars. I crave salty foods, so I eat greens and vegetables that supply sodium.

I find that fruits and vegetables satisfy my needs, enhance my performance/endurance levels and improve my health. What I eat the most is also based on the price I have to pay. Fruits are the most inexpensive foods in comparison to pre-cooked/processed foods and animal by-products.

(1) The number one food I eat the most is Bananas. I am used to eating close to 40 lb of bananas a week for $20. Lately--since becoming homeless and having little money-- I can only get several bundles of bananas a week. Regardless of where I am or how much money I have, bananas is always the best option. Bananas taste good in smoothies, and usually make smoothies taste better. Bananas taste good by themselves and eaten with many other fruits.
Bananas are inexpensive, full of fiber, potassium, protein, carbohydrates which keeps me energized. Because I eat bananas the most, they have become my favorite food of all time.

(2) Dates are another food that I buy the most-- simply because it is one of my favorite fruits. Dates are not particularly cheap, however I find that they come at a good price for the amount of calories per lb. Compared to cheaper foods like cucumber, carrots or peas-- dates may not be that cheap but at least I can feel satiated on a little amount of dates. Like bananas, dates fill me up with their sugary goodness which gives me the capabilities to think, read, write, and feel grounded. Also like bananas, dates can make smoothies taste better and they always taste good by themselves.

(3) Apples, one of the cheapest foods in my area. Apples are one fruit that can grow in cold or warm climates, so you can get local apples for a cheaper price. This also means you may be able to forage apples for free in your area or grow them. There have been times when I found gallons of apples for free! And there have been many times when I had to eat apples only, because that's all the food I had available.

(4) Oranges (citrus) are inexpensive when purchased in season. My favorite citrus is in bite-sized form, like clementines or mandarins. I also prefer to juice oranges with grapefruit or clementines, as you can see here "The easiest way to eat grapefruit" Juice.

(5) Lettuce is the fifth main aspect of my diet. I eat bananas the most, probably up to 20 a day if  I want (but usually up to 10). Dates are the second food I eat most, because it contains the sugar I need for energy, alertness and happiness. Dates and bananas are high in calories, carbohydrates and sugars-- funny enough-- these two foods make me feel the most satiated, light, clean, and happy (better mood). So at the end of the day I want a food that balances the sugar foods with greens and vegetables.
Lettuce is water rich, full of omega-3, fiber, and high in calcium. Iceberg lettuce gets a bad rep for being bland and not nutrient dense, but this is false! Iceberg lettuce has more omegas and calcium compared to other greens.
It is usually best to grow your own lettuce. Home grown food usually provides better nutrition and b12 availability.

As I said, bananas consumes the majority of my diet. Actually, bananas may make up 50% of my diet alone! Dates, apples, oranges, and lettuce also take up the majority of my diet, but I also eat a lot of mangoes, berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado. I like to have carrots, broccoli, rice, and potatoes once or twice a week.

I understand that people are at different places in their health journey, so I can see where eating 7 bananas for breakfast or 7 mangoes is alarming. People would rather have a bowl of oatmeal with a banana and some brown sugar. That is why I took the liberty of listing meals that I usually prepare for my (vegan) boyfriend, or meals that I would make for non-vegan friends and family. You can view the post here "Cheap Low fat vegan meals for non-vegan friends & family".

Eating more simply doesn't mean depriving yourself. In fact I encourage people to eat as much as they would like until they feel satiated. However my approach to health is eating large quantities of healthy fruits and vegetables. The more fiber you get in your diet, the more you can clean it out!
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