Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Watching the Plants Grow (total of 4 and a half gardens)

I haven't been busy much in the garden, I have mostly been watching the plants grow. I still have left some tomatoes needed to be transplanted as well as melons and cantaloupe plants. Some of the tomatoes and pepper plants are going to take another two weeks before they are ready to transplant in the gardens.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I have four gardens this, with the addition of my cousin Lisa's garden I am tending to and adding a second garden at my Grandparents. I was able to directly sow corn, beans, and cucumbers a week ago at my cousin's; and two weeks ago I was able to plant corn and beans at my Grandparents, along with cucumbers, pumpkin, and squash.

Two weeks ago I transplanted 60 tomatoes into the garden, and two days ago I was able to transplant an additional 40+ tomato plants.
Two weeks ago I mentioned transplanting 80 cantaloupe plants. Unfortunately the location of the cantaloupe plants are not ideal, so they will be forgoing another transplant into a sunnier location (most likely where I have planted the corn and beans at my Grandparents).

Below I have posted recent developments in the garden...

The lettuces, spinach, and kale were directly sown one month ago and I have harvested four times in the last week from them. I will be able to continue picking from my greens everyday for the next two months.

Six rows of lettuces, spinach, kale, and peas

Buttercrunch lettuce

Here are pictures of the lettuce harvests in the last few days and a photo of my first strawberry from our gardens. 
First strawberry, and many more to come

Lettuce harvest
Lettuce harvest

Lettuce harvest
The potatoes have grown a foot or so since my last post. They will be ready in a couple months from now. The 125 lbs I planted in the garden is expected to triple (or at least double) the quantity. Possibly being able to feed off my potatoes for several months.

10 rows of potatoes

2 foot tall potatoes
My Cucumbers are a new addition, which have recently sprouted their third and fourth leaves. They should be putting off within the next month. It may be hard to tell in the photo, but the row of Cucumbers is over 30 feet long, approximately containing 400 seeds (perhaps only 200 plants will sprout). If half of the seeds I planted grow one cucumber, I will end up harvesting 200 cucumbers by end of July and August.
You can see in the picture below we have laid out cardboard to prevent weeds from intervening with the Cucumbers as they vine out.

Row of cucumbers with cardboard
My Yellow & Zucchini Squash were young transplants, so they are quite small. Yet they have grown much in the last week due to the increase in night temperatures. I have eight rows of Squash as you can see in the picture below. (To the left of the Squash plants I will be growing more varieties of beans).

Squash had some difficulties with bugs

8 rows of yellow & zucchini squash

Other squash varieties I planted were Cushaws and Pumpkins. These are grown in a shady area of the garden, so they may be stunted.
Below are pictures of my second garden at my Grandparent's property, where I have grown several rows of Corn and black eyed peas. As I have said I will growing more varieties of beans next to the Squash garden. Also in this Corn and bean bed I will transplanting Watermelon and Cantaloupe to the right of the black eyed peas.

And this is a little snapshot my cousin took of the beans I have growing at her house. Although the beans are only visible, she mentioned that the rows of corn and cucumbers were up as well. So I have two different gardens for cucumbers, corn and beans.


I haven't taken pictures of the Tomato and Cantaloupe progress because I am still working on these gardens. I have added more Tomatoes and need to transplant the Cantaloupe and Watermelon. Once this happens I will show progress photos!
Until next time, feel free to look at previous garden update posts.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Compost Benefits (May 13th garden update)

Since 2011, I have been composting my food scraps. Every year at the beginning of Spring, I use the compost for a raised bed. In fact I have raised beds dedicated to 15+ strawberry plants. The raised beds contain 1 year of compost in each. Compost is organic, Vegan, free soil containing much more vitamins and minerals than conventional soil from Lawn & Garden stores. 
I have written other blog posts on the benefits of Compost here "Compost food scraps...and get food back for free" and "What you need to know about Compost". I will also add, if you wouldn't put animal derived foods in your Compost or toxic chemicals/materials, then we should also avoid these products in our diet (heavy metals, toxic chemicals, acid forming foods).

The most beneficial aspect of Compost is the free food it produces. For example, 100+ Tomatoes fruiting within the strawberry beds (As you can see in the pictures below).
Free food to be transplanted
Tomatoes in the strawberry bed

Strawberry ripening

Compost makes strawberries taste like candy

Pine needles are used as free mulch

I am fortunate to have come across cheap Tomato plants at Ace hardware. This allowed James and I to transplant up to  60 Tomato plants into the garden yesterday, as you can see below.
Tomorrow I will transplant the Tomatoes from the Strawberry beds (in pictures above) into Styrofoam cups. After several weeks the Tomatoes will grow large enough to transplant into the garden. I am able to grow half the Tomatoes for free, and half of them purchased-- all-in-all, a successful Tomato garden, and I will still be eating free, tasty, High Quality, nutritious food.
Below are photos of the Strawberries currently fruiting in the raised beds.

60 Tomato plants (Big Belgium, Celebrity, Rutgers, & Roma varieties)

Other tasks I have done today: directly sow 10 rows of Corn; two rows of Black-eyed peas, and one row of Lima beans. I will have several more bean varieties to plant. I also have another variety of Corn to plant. I will present pictures tomorrow or another day of the Corn and bean garden (which is placed across the road from my Grandparents). I may also transplant watermelon plants in a small portion of the Corn & bean garden.

At the beginning of May, flowers and trees are in bloom. One of my favorite trees, The Locust, is blooming out at this time of year. It is one of the most fragrant trees around my neighborhood. I have a picture of its blooms below. Also in the following picture is a Frog pond and tad pole transitioning into a Frog. We have several Frogs around the pond, and many Frogs around my Grandparent's property. It is a pleasure to coexist with other life...

Locust tree

Frog pond with many tadpoles

Transitioning into a Frog

Mentioned above, the Frog pond is intended for creating a Frog habitat. Frogs will eat the mosquitoes and other bugs around the gardens to prevent bugs from snacking on plants or me!

As always, continue to follow Vegans Living Off the Land for future Garden updates, and simply scroll down the page or click "older posts" for previous Garden updates. These updates are meant to be used as a guide, what vegetables should I grow at the beginning of April; or what vegetables need to be started indoors, etc. Explore this blog for your gardening concerns and answers!

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12, 2014 Garden Update (Transplanting tomatoes)

I made a quick garden update yesterday (here) but I wanted log my tasks for today. I hope these daily (or every other day) garden updates are helpful. I am basing my planting schedule on gardening Zone 6. I am in Eastern KY, and currently this Spring and Summer has been wet and now humid. Luckily, this is the perfect weather for transplanting Tomatoes, Peppers, and melons.
Friday (the 9th) I transplanted 160 Zucchini and Yellow Squash (which I describe and picture here). Saturday (10th) I was able to transplant 80+ Cantaloupe (see here). I believe, Thursday (8th), was the day I directly sowed 400+ Cucumber seeds, 200+ Butternut Squash, 20+ Pumpkins and 20+ Cushaw seeds.

Today, May 12th, my Grandma generously bought 30+ Tomato plants for less than $18, so we also decided to purchase 30+ Tomato plants considering it was a good deal. The reason I purchased Tomato plants was because I was unsure the Tomato starters I have are too small to transplant in the ground this early. In the picture below, you can see James and I hoed up six rows, with a total of 60 Tomato plants, varieties of Rutgers, Celebrity, Big Belgium, and Roma. The Tomato plants I personally started were transplanted in bigger containers from the tubs (total of 80 Tomatoes). After several weeks the Tomato starters (and Pepper plants) will be ready to transplant to in the garden. I have about 100+ more Tomato starters to transplant in the garden from my Compost bins.

60+ Tomato transplants
In all, I am excited for our progress; and early achievements towards the garden. We have made sure to work early and commit to several purchases and tasks everyday.
Our efforts will show this Summer and Fall when our garden produces well over $3000+. At least this amount I expect considering I grew $1300+ worth of food last year.

Plus, you know it's all worth the energy, time and money when you see strawberries and blueberries, along with tall lettuce and greens (almost ready to harvest)!


So much to do every day! This is why I am trying to garden full time.
For previous Garden updates, keep scrolling down on the blog or click "Older posts" and remember to Subscribe by Email for future updates.

On a final note, in the pictures below I have featured my Breakfast and Lunch today. I didn't take a picture of my dinner (it was rice with some steamed carrots).

Banana smoothie with blueberry swirl

Cucumber noodles/mango/tomato over Lettuce

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11th, 2014 Garden update (Transplanting Cantaloupe & Squash)

Fortunately I started my melons indoors a month ago (around the beginning of April) so now that the weather is permitting, I was able to transplant 100 cantaloupe plants yesterday. I am sure (and hoping) that Eastern KY will not get a late Frost in the middle of May (or else a Frost may hurt my melons).

100 Cantaloupe transplants in 6 wide rows

Wide rows for growing melons

I will wait to put out my Watermelon plants because I have yet to hoe up a spot for them. But they are doing as far as size, as you can see below. Last month a man plowed a 50+ foot spot across the road from my Grandparent's, which I have designated for Watermelon and corn. I am not too keen that the spot is next to the road where hundreds of logging trucks drive by every week and the plants may be sucking up much of the pollution-- however it's fertile ground that is not being used for anything, and it's the only piece of property (at my Grandparent's) that gets the most sun. Hence the reason for designating the Watermelon and Corn plants in this location.

As mentioned in my last post, I transplanted 160 Zucchini and Yellow Squash plants (see below). The process took a little over 2 hours, but I was lucky to get them out before the rain. Now they are almost twice there size since I planted them three days ago. It will be raining here for the next week, so I expect the squash plants and Cantaloupe grow much bigger. I may see some cucumbers sprouting during this time. Not only should my Cucumbers be sprouting, also should my Pumpkin, Cushaw, and Butternut Squash plants.

160 Zucchini & Yellow Squash transplants

Zucchini sprout

Of course my lettuce, kale, spinach, peas, and potatoes have been in the ground for a month so they are responding well to this warm and rainy weather.

Have a beautiful Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

May 8th, 2014 Garden Update (Cucmbers, Squash & Grapes)

Tomorrow and Saturday will be rainy days so I made appoint to plant my summer vegetables. As of now, I can directly sow and transplant all varieties of fruits and vegetables, considering it is the first week of May. 

I am not expecting any late Frosts, so today I transplanted 160 zucchini and yellow squash, and directly sowed 400 cucumber seeds, 200+ butternut squash seed, 20 pumpkin, and 20 cushaw. In the photos below I have one row of half pumpkin and half cushaws, two rows of butternut squash and one extended row of cucumbers (probably over 40 ft).
10 rows of potatoes/40+ft row of cucumbers

1 row of cushaw/pumpkin & 2 rows of butternut squash


Another little job we did today was hoe/till between the rows of potatoes. As I mentioned I planted 125 lbs of potatoes, a total of 10 rows. And, the lettuce, kale, spinach, and peas are doing beautifully as you can see in the photos below. Notice the plants are crowded in wide rows, this is to discourage weeds growing in and around the greens. Also I have wide walking rows in order to till between them, this is to aerate the soil.

(from left to right) "Grand Rapids" lettuce, "Salad bowl" lettuce,
Spinach, Kale, "Iceberg"/"Buttercrunch" lettuce, & Peas


In the near future I will be transplanting pepper, tomato, and melon plants. Below I have posted additional photos of plants growing in my gardens.

Grape pods from my plants


Purple Iris

My partner and I have been conscious of the Toads in our garden. Today we counted five Toads hanging around that we transported to the woods. Luckily we are aware of these creatures in an effort to avoid tilling them. I know it must seem I am destructing their habitats but I keep aware of them as well as Spiders and other things that I want to protect. Keep this in mind when you're working in your garden as well.