Summer time is traditionally the "best time" for the backyard garden. It's great for many reasons, such as being able to see real, significant growth of your garden, as well as being able to enjoy the warmer weather that isn't always available during the fall, winter, and even spring months.
Over the course of the year, I had produced quite a few videos showing the early summer update. Given that 2016 is coming to a close, I thought I would put all of these together in one neat article on the Plant-Smart Living website so you can have convenient access to all of these informative videos.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Black Beauty Zucchini Plants are Growing!
A member of the squash family, zucchini is a great vegetable to grow in your garden. It is relatively easy to care for, and the usability in the kitchen as a part of a whole foods, plant-based diet is pretty significant. From baked zucchini breads to simple applications in a garden salad, there are many opportunities to use your own, home grown, organic zucchini.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Waltham Butternut Squash Plants are Growing!
Butternut squash is very nutrient dense. A cool thing that was learned "at home" is how some reptiles, like the relatively friendly bearded dragon, consumes this veggie as part of a healthy balanced diet. Even more surprising when I learned about this was how they can essentially become vegetarians as they age. It's a unique thing, and maybe not what you would expect from a "dragon" diet.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Climbing Spinach are Growing!
This year I decided to experiment with growing malibar spinach - also known as "climbing spinach." In this video, you can see the humble beginnings of growth of this ornamental and edible plant. It's a great alternative to traditional spinach and compliments my garden well. You can see the updated, full-bloom, of this spinach plant in my Late Summer Garden Update 2016 review.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Improved Blue Hubbard Squash are Growing!
I direct sowed these blue hubbard squash about a week after our last frost date (around mid-April). As is common throughout my garden, I use raised bed gardens to help promote better and healthier plant growth - and this is no different with these different squash varieties. The key thing for successful rearing of squash is having heat, plenty of sunlight, and plenty of space to grow and spread. A single seed will net you about 2-3 large hubbard squash.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Red Russian Kale!
Kale is one of my favorite vegetables - it just has a really rich taste, and is nutritionally dense. A good source of vegan protein as well if that is something you are concerned about. Like many greens, kale is pretty easy to grow in your own backyard garden, and if you are looking for some good starter plants I'd like to encourage you to give this one a try. I hope you enjoy the shots of Bailey in this video as well as he joins me throughout!
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Ford Hook Swiss Chard!
Like kale, Swiss chard is another great tasting green that is very nutrient dense. I have experimented with planting Swiss chard in my raised garden beds, as well as in my lean-to greenhouse and under row covers (last year I had one I measured the leaf at 24" long!). I have had great success and plentiful harvests for many years with Swiss chard, and it always manages to make it's way into many of my salads. Add some potatoes and a nice balsamic vinaigrette, and you'll be a happy camper.
Early-Summer Garden Chores 2016
Every season I try to make a video that shows something more than just little updates of my garden growth - sometimes revealing more of a background of what goes into creating such a great backyard garden. One of the keys for success in your own garden will be creating a list of "garden chores," which are typically things you have to do routinely (whether it is daily, weekly, or monthly).
One thing not really mentioned in the video worth adding that you can also do is make alfalfa tea fertilizer and apply to your garden weekly (or more/less frequently depending on what you are growing and other factors).
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Imperator Carrots!
In this video, I show you how useful keeping a garden journal can be when it comes to influencing your future harvests. I was able to reference what I did with previous imperator carrots, and make adjustments to have a better harvest in 2016. I have found that carrots have been hit-and-miss throughout the years, but I was quite happy with my harvest this year in particular. Great for salads and making into grilled carrot reubens with a panini grill.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Royal Burgundy Bush Beans!
There is nothing quite like some homegrown beans. After harvesting some of these, I was able to make a nice dinner for my wife and I with just a little bit of added water in my Instant Pot pressure cooker. You'll find the taste is really much fresher than what you would typically purchase in a can at the local grocery store.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Red Norland Potatoes!
If your on a starch-based diet, growing your own potatoes can be a really affordable way to maintain the bulk of your diet. While this variety takes about 3 months to mature, the harvest can last for a good chunk of the season and savings can be significant if you eat a lot of potatoes normally.
A great point of reference for more about this dietary lifestyle can be found by reading Dr. McDougall's book The Starch Solution.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Jack O' Lantern Pumpkins are Growing!
Pumpkins may not seem like the sort of plant you would be harvesting during the early summer months given how popular they tend to become during the fall.
The biggest challenge to growing pumpkins (or most squash varieties) is having enough space for them to expand - these pumpkins can end up taking up 8 to 10 feet of space when all is said and done. For the most part, I do not eat these as I primarily grow them to be ornamental for my grandson Hunter - but it is a fun experiment none-the-less and becomes a natural fertilizer when I compost them.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Martin House Gourds are Growing!
I had direct sowed these Martin House gourds in May 2016, and they have been developing quite well at the point of harvest.
While these are edible and for just a few dollars you can have more than enough for yourself and your friends and family to eat, I primarily like to use them as organic bird houses that can be seen around my backyard garden - I show one of these in the video as well!
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Royal Acorn Squash are Growing!
A fun story about these royal acorn squash plants is that I had planted them in a repurposed toy chest my kids used to use. I try to live a life of sustainability when possible, and this was a simple project to convert the wooden toy chest into a raised garden bed.
The acorn squash is great, and I especially enjoy making stuffed squash with beans and rice. It makes for a simple but satisfying meal straight from the backyard garden.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: Let's Go See How the Sweet Potatoes are Growing!
2016 was a great year for trying out some new things - and experimenting in my garden was no different than other aspects of life. This was the first time I tried growing sweet potatoes in my garden, and they ended up working out quite nicely!
If your just starting out with growing potatoes, these are some of the easiest to grow and maintain as you do not have to hill your sweet potatoes. If your unaware, hilling potatoes means bringing soil up along the vines of the potatoes when they reach about 8 - 10 inches high.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Super Snappy Peas!
As you can hopefully see with these videos, a plant-based diet can be great and very diverse. As a gardener, I am able to explore so many different types of fruits and vegetables - even within the same plant family. Snap peas are another great option that you may overlook in the supermarket in exchange for frozen peas that you will take home and microwave for a few minutes (not that there is anything inherently wrong with frozen peas!). I find this diversity in food has made a WFPB diet easier for me to stick to over the years.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Georgia Southern Collard Greens!
It's hard to beat the taste of freshly cooked collard greens. They are really easy to make up - many people use their Instant Pot pressure cookers for this purpose as well.
Early on in this video you may notice a few hole in the collard green leaves, but this is the natural result of organic gardening where no pesticides are used - leaving some opportunity for garden visitors to stop in for a bite. In general, these plants still looked healthy and are satisfying to consume regardless.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Cauliflower Plants!
Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that some people never bother to try in their lifetime, but is an invaluable member of the cabbage family (or scientific: brassica oleracea).
I have seen them really come to the fore of the whole food, plant-based diet lifestyle in the form of many recipes for BBQ cauliflower, like can be seen in The Potato Strong Recipe Guide.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Broccoli Plants!
Broccoli is a great vegetable to include in your diet for the nutrients it brings and the unique taste and texture. Many people have at least tried the broccoli head (the part that looks like the leaves of a tree), but these people also overlook the other valuable part of the broccoli such as the stem and leaves. In our modern world where veggies are made available in grocery stores, we often find that the broccoli leaves are removed, likely to make it more aesthetically presentable to the consumer, but it leaves some good quality nutrients from our diets. This is one of the perks of having your own organic garden because you can consume the whole plant.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Purple Top White Globe Turnips!
As with most of my veggie, I grow these purple top white globe turnips in my raised garden beds with leaf compost and added topsoil. I do my best to create a nice and diverse organic garden that can suit much of my dietary needs. While I still do have visits to the grocery store, most of these veggies sustain themselves for just pennies on the dollar. These turnips are really easy to grow out in your vegetable garden and provide the actual turnip as well as the greens that grow along with it. A single pack will last for several years!
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Bright Light Swiss Chard!
Harvesting Swiss chard is one of my favorite past times - mostly because I really enjoy getting to add this green leafy vegetable to my salads. A really unique feature of these Swiss chard plants are the vibrant red/purple stalks they grow on, making them a nice addition to your backyard garden on a visual level.
You may notice how clean and unscathed the Swiss chard appears - and that is because I have noticed they are not bothered all that much by garden pests and aphids.
Another great thing about Swiss chard is that they are (what I call) "pick-and-come-again" vegetables. You can continue to harvest it regularly throughout the season.
Early-Summer Garden Update 2016: It's Harvest Time for My Detroit Dark Red Beets!
The last video for this early summer garden update will be about my dark red beets. These are one of my favorite vegetables. If you haven't noticed, I have a lot of favorites! :)
Like a few other veggies I grow, these red beats also develop leafy greens that can be consumed, that are often missed when purchasing beets in the grocery store.
I hope you were able to learn a lot and enjoy my early summer garden update for 2016. It has been fun producing these videos, and I look forward to being able to go back and watch some of them myself as they help function as a video journal of sorts to compliment the pen-and-paper garden journal I keep regularly.
If you have any questions about the veggies I am growing or my garden, be sure to let me know in the comments below!