Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30th 2014 Garden Update & How to SAVE WATER

I have recently put together a list of ways to save on water here. Fortunately, Kentucky has got several feet of rain in the last few days. Because of this, my greens have shot up beautifully. The kale, spinach and lettuce have finally developed their fourth leaves.

Five rows of greens and peas in the sixth row

Iceberg lettuce

Kale, best when eaten young

Spinach, best when  eaten young

I have taken the opportunity to save the water from these rains as well. My grandma collected rain water with many containers she had lying around, like jugs. I bought two more Rain Barrels to add to my collection, a total of five Rain Barrels. I even used clothes tubs and buckets to collect rain. These are small ways to save water. I find that using rain to water your plants helps them grow better than using tap water. Rain water is natural and free!

Tub of water

Free, found barrel to use for water collection

(typical) Rain Barrels
It is not uncommon for drought weather during the Summer, so these extra expenses for rain collection systems will be beneficial for preparation. Last year we were fortunate to have a wet year, not needing to save much rain water. However the year before (my first year of gardening) became dry during the Summer, hurting many of my Squash and cucumber plants.

My grandma's ways of water collection

Trash cans & buckets used for collecting rain

In addition, I transplanted the rest of the cantaloupe and watermelon into Styrofoam cups. Then I planted 50+ watermelon seeds in small containers. Then I planted 100+ Zucchini and Squash seeds.
Melons transplanted to larger containers

Peppers and watermelons planted in starter trays

200+ Squash seed planted in (free) starter trays

200+ Squash seed planted in (free) starter trays

At this point, I am waiting for the ground to dry after these (much needed) rains, and I have been watering all of my starter plants. After the ground dries I will be back to tilling, shoveling, and having fires on the gardens. In several days I will be able to directly sow beans, corn, and cucumbers in my garden!

Here is a beautiful Tulip from my Grandparent's flower garden,

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

9 year Vegan Anniversary

I remember having shrimp for the first time and feeling disgusted with my decision to eat animal flesh after understanding the cruelty. That day, the first Sunday in April, I stopped eating animal flesh and became vegetarian. I am certain that I was vegetarian for several days to a week before Veganism.
After several days of vegetarianism, I realized I was contradicting my beliefs by continuing to have a milk and eggs in my diet with Ranch dressings, ice creams, and such. So towards the middle of April I stopped eating animal derived foods completely.
I also stopped using non vegan Shampoo, lotions, cleaners, detergents, cosmetics and many other products.

Looking back on what I ate the first few months of Veganism, I realize how uneducated and misinformed I must have been. Perhaps I was not given the proper foods because I was young and did not have much choice in the groceries. All in all I thank my Grandmother for helping me stick to my values through foods that allowed me to feel sustained.
Back in 2005 I was a Freshmen in High school, having to take my Breakfast and Lunch to school everyday. I ate bagels and Boca chicken patties for breakfast. Sometimes I would eat icing-less Pop Tarts, bananas and oranges and apples for breakfast. For Lunch I would eat peanut butter sandwiches, chips, Soy Turkey sandwiches. I think I had lots of salads at night and boxed Vegan meals.

I learned through my Grandmother how to eat healthy, whole, and much cheaper. My grandparents grew a large garden with lots of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, beans, and that's exactly what I ate everyday. I ate fresh vegetables that were lightly cooked or not cooked at all from the garden. My Grandma was used to making dairy-free desserts and breads due to my Aunt's allergies, so my Grandma made me dinner every night with fresh vegetables, Vegan breads, with Vegan desserts and fruits after our dinner meals.
Overall, I thank my Grandmother for teaching me how to eat. Actually I thank my Grandparents for influencing me to grow food and eat healthy! I remember I would eat several plates full of potatoes, carrots, peas, and other vegetables till I felt stuffed. Without my Grandparent's guidance teaching me to eat High Carbohydrate, I may have continued to eat high fat processed foods. Without my Grandparent's teaching me how to feel satiated with fruits and vegetables alone, I may have been unsuccessful.

Friday, April 25, 2014

April 25, 2014 Garden update (Greens sprouting)

I wanted to make a quick post about what James and I have been doing the past week, along with some pictures of our vegetable growth.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, my cousin Lisa has asked me to till her garden and grow food this year. So we burned on the garden space to take out the grass, ivy, and other debris. The space is almost as big as the garden at my Mom's, so that will grow plenty of beans, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers. Aside from the tomatoes, these vegetables can be directly sown in the ground.
The next step towards revamping the space is to burn in more spots, then dig up the space with a shovel. This process will take another week due to rain delaying our work. But once the garden is shoveled, we can till then hoe up rows at the beginning of May. 

Other than working on my cousin's garden, we go over to my grandparents to water our rows of greens and peas everyday. Of course we have rain barrels set up to collect rain water.
Below are pictures of the peas sprouting. Parallel to the peas is a row of half Iceberg Lettuce and half Buttercrunch lettuce. The next row over is Kale, then a row of Spinach, then Salad bowl Lettuce, then Grand Rapids Lettuce.
It is hard to see the greens sprouting, but a couple of days of rain will help speed their growth. (Some of the greens will be ready to eat within the next three weeks).


Iceberg lettuce

Half Iceberg lettuce & Buttercrunch lettuce

Six Rows of greens & peas
Other things that are growing nicely are my cantaloupe and watermelon sprouts. I have transplanted some melon plants to Styrofoam cups with potting soil.

Cantaloupe transplanted to Styrofoam pots
Cantaloupe & Watermelon seed
My tomatoes are growing nicely in the open trays/tubs, while the pepper seeds are taking much time to germinate and sprout. Only but a couple of pepper sprouts have popped up in the last couple of days.

Non-gmo "Beefsteak" tomatoes

San Marzano tomatoes + mixture of other tomatoes

I also have tomatoes and peppers growing in pots. So it seems I have many tomato plants started, but I also have them growing up in my strawberry beds. So I look at it as I am very fortunate. I also have greens and peas I started in large containers-- which are all growing at my Mom's.

"Sweetie" tomatoes

Non-gmo Green peas (I will be saving seed from)


As mentioned in my last Garden update, we have planted 125 lbs of potatoes, which I have displayed in the pictures below. I have ten 3 foot wide rows with approximately 12 lbs of potatoes. The rows are very short but we buried those potatoes with lots of pine needles as mulch.

At the beginning of May I will plant Squash on one end of the garden (in the foreground of the picture), then further down I will be planting non-gmo beans.You can see the peas and greens sprouting in the middle of the garden (middle of the picture). Towards the further end of the garden contains potatoes, then at the very end of the garden (in the background of the picture) will contain cucumbers and butternut squash and Cushaw.

Here is a picture an additional garden at my Grandparent's property. It is known as the one across the road. After I get the dirt mashed down, shoveled, then tilled, I will plant corn, beans, and tomatoes. Basically this year I am focusing on seven different fruits and vegetables.

On a final note, I wanted to show you some of the photography I have been doing of the beautiful blooms and the scenes of Spring as well.


How much fruit & vegetables should I eat? (Pictures of meals this week)

I have never heard a doctor say "you need to eat more meat", only those who say you need to eat more fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables contain all the necessary calories, carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins and minerals we need to sustain. It is ironic when I hear my fellow man say he needs to obtain protein from an animal, when that very animal obtains all of its protein from grass. It is also comical when people insist we evolved by eating and hunting animals and cooking our food-- when we evolved at that point by eating only fruits and leaves.

Our food industry has us so addicted to cheeses, meats, chocolate, greasy bread and fatty desserts, we couldn't care less where these foods come from. Food corporations do not want you to know how they slaughter billions of animals everyday, or the fact that your meat contains ammonia, bleach, and pink slime. They do not want you to know that your genetically modified foods are altering your own psyche.

Food works much like drugs, foods with high salt and oil content are stimulating which encourages us to consume more foods like this. Fruits and vegetables do not seem stimulating in the way that burgers, fries, cake, and chocolate are stimulating.
When did people stop viewing food as nourishment? When did people decide they would rather have anti-nutrient foods? Instead of sitting down to a plate of vegetables from our garden-- now if we make the decision to eat vegetables, it must be deep fried or breaded.

I have come to conclude that television and advertisements have ruined our ideology of health. Women limit their calories from food instead of eating an abundance of healthy foods-- then they wonder why they feel deprived and psychotic. Food corporations use trigger phrases like '100 calories' to mislead you about their product. Phrases like this try to reassure women and men that their product is healthy. Pink slime is pink slime (and calories do not matter).
This isn't the only issue with food corporations. They use snake tactics like Mascots (Ronald McDonald, the Colonel, the Red head from Wendy's and the Rat used for Chuckie Cheese) as images to associate with the food they are selling. This is especially good marketing to entice children.
We all know Wendy's had the word 'MOM' blended into collar of the red head within the logo. The word 'MOM' could create unconscious feelings of comfort, safety, home as a way to lure younger individuals. McDonald's usually attaches a play land to their restaurant-- another means to lure children. Obviously parents are doing what they think is best and feel good about taking their child somewhere to play with other children while eating food that works within their budget.

Can we not see that these industries make it easier to access unhealthy foods, while making organic, non-gmo foods unattainable to the poorest of people? Even the poorest people do not have access to the research on health, due to the expense of Internet, computers, books, education.

Of course, What you allow, is what will best I can do for people is to show them how much fruits and vegetables to eat. The best I can do for our society is show people how to grow their own food in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle and live for free doing so. I do not wish to judge those who still eat unhealthy because I understand that the corruption of our world leaders is deeply engrained in our culture. Those who understand do not judge, and those who judge, do not understand. So I am here to provide encouragement to eat healthier. At least eat more fruits and vegetables! How hard is to eat bananas everyday when it is the least expensive nutrient dense food?

In the rest of this post I have provided pictures of meals I eat regularly and what I buy every week from the grocery store.

In the photo above: Carrots, dates, oranges, apples, peppers, grapes, avocados, lettuce, cantaloupe, cauliflower and bananas. Bananas are my staple. Potatoes and rice are a staple in my partner's diet, which is not seen here, but potatoes and rice are inexpensive in large quantities, similar to bananas.It is important to obtain 80% or more of your calories from carbohydrates.

Here is a typical salad: Iceberg lettuce with cucumbers, carrots, peppers and tomatoes with dressing of tomatoes, pieces of cucumber & carrots and avocado. As you can tell in the photo above, I have spiralized the carrots and cucumbers into noodles.

Another salad with similar ingredients as the one before. I usually do not alter ingredients, I always stick to my basic formula: lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrots, avocado.

This salad is a little different, without the addition of carrots. Instead I have added chopped cauliflower for a 'feta cheese' effect.

Salad with spiralized cucumber and carrots overtop a bed of lettuce and tomato. The dressing I used is featured in the picture directly below:

The dressing is made of three oranges (juiced) with 1 cup of grapes (seeded) and a little avocado.

It seems I eat a lot of salads, but I actually eat much more smoothies. For breakfast I eat 7-10 bananas blended with a little water. It tastes like I'm drinking pure sugar. Sometimes I add blueberries, strawberries, grapes, or dates with the bananas. I also have banana smoothies for Lunch too. So it is uncommon that I eat up to 10-20 bananas everyday. In the photo above I made two separate smoothies (one for me and one for James), but I ended up mixing the two: 7 bananas blended with strawberries then the other with 7 bananas blended with strawberries.

50 Bananas, 4 heads of iceberg lettuce, 9 tomatoes, 3 red peppers, and 4 cucumbers = $20

Another salad with similar ingredients, lettuce, tomatoes, spiralized carrots & cucumber with chopped cauliflower on top.

In this salad I added purple cabbage for some color. All of the individual pictures of salads were different dinners. I usually have a salad everyday for dinner while I eat bananas and other fruits for breakfast and lunch. For example in the picture below, my favorite breakfast is melons. I will eat a whole cantaloupe or watermelon to myself...

Of course I encourage others to eat their fruits and vegetables in their raw, ripe, whole and natural form. Ideally for optimal nutrition, fresh, ripe, seasonal raw fruits and vegetables should make up most (if not all) of your diet. I understand that this may be difficult, so do your best. The Vegan diet can be incredibly inexpensive, my partner and I usually spend $30-$45 every week. Canned, dehydrated, or frozen fruits can be supplemented if you cannot afford fresh fruits. Potatoes and rice may be added in the diet if you have no other (optimal) options around. Potatoes and rice and refined sugars are best if Organic.
Remember, Bananas are the cheapest of all foods and contain Potassium and essential amino acids for sustenance, so these should be your staple. At this point in my life, bananas take up 60% of my diet.

Visit the links below for more examples of how I eat and what is most optimal for health, endurance, and preventive medicine:

As you read the links above, suggestions for further reading will be provided at the end of every blog post.

More pictures for you...


Saturday, April 19, 2014

April 19th Garden Update (Tomatoes & melons sprouting)

The last several nights have been bitter cold. One night dropped to 27 degrees and the past  two night have been in the upper 30s. I have had to cover my fruit trees with blankets, covered my strawberry plants with plastic, and mulched my blueberry bushes with leaves. My older peach tree was too big to cover, much like my 3 year old Pear trees.

Covered trees with blankets for threat of Frost

Recently my Cantaloupe and Watermelon plants have sprouted healthy, thick stalks. I have been watering them everyday with rain water I collected. My grandmother is also watering my cantaloupe, tomatoes, and peppers that I have in starter containers (at her house). My rain barrels stay at my grandparent's house for my grandmother to water some of her flowers and my starters.
Tomatoes sprouting in trays (filled with compost)

Cantaloupe sprouting tall (1 week old)

Melon, tomato, and pepper starters/
My grandma waters with spray bottle

Last night James and I planted another two rows of Kennebec potatoes. Today we finished the last row of potatoes, leaving us a total of 10 rows (125 lbs of potatoes). Hopefully by harvest time, the pound will triple or quadruple.

Finally after a week and a half our lettuce, kale, spinach and peas are poking out of the ground. The greens have been planted at my Grandparent's (which gets much more shade and colder temperatures than at my Mother's); so it is no wonder it took the greens longer to sprout.
In two weeks the young leaves of the greens will be ready to snack on, but it will take another four weeks for them to harvest.

I will make another post in several days on the progress!