Why Freeze-Dried Food Can Be Cheaper Than Fresh

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Who knew freeze-dried foods could be be less expensive? Only those ‘geeky’ kind who love to do the math (that would be me). But to be clear here, I’m only talking about produce — freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. We all love fresh produce! How many times have you thrown out spoiled fresh produce before you had a chance to eat it? How old is that ‘fresh’ produce by the time you bring it home from the store? 1 week? 2 weeks? More?

E. B. White I feel your pain

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E. B. White author of Charlotte’s’ Web lived and wrote on a small farm in North Brooklin, Maine. While mainly a writer he liked to think of himself as a farmer also.

He lamented about his time spent writing as being detrimental to his farm and time spent farming as being time spent wasted while he should be writing.

As my writing picks up more and more I am spending less and less time doing anything on the homestead. I can’t even keep ahead of the mowing at this point. I need to make enough writing to get a big mower for my tractor so it will get done quicker.

I haven’t even gotten my chainsaw mill out of the package this summer. I had all these plans of cutting up the walnut and cherry logs I had saved from the wood furnace.

My 12 volt conversion for my Ford tractor is still in the box sitting by my chair…I do need to get that installed before winter.

I have several writing projects on the line at the moment…I have a couple articles coming out in a magazine (I’ll let you know when it comes out) and just bid on writing an ebook this morning. I have ongoing commitments to a couple websites now. So as you can see I am getting busier, and I hope someday to do this for a living and be going back and forth just like E. B. White.

Still clinging to my God and my guns,
Randy

Three Weeding Tips

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garden weedWeeding is a task that is impossible to get away from. No matter how hard you try and no matter which methods you use, weeds will pop up in your garden. Unless you get to them quickly, they can spread and begin to take over as they take away sunlight, water and nutrients from your actual plants. They can be prevented – somewhat, but even the best methods don’t stop them entirely. In order to get rid of weeds for good, consider following these three tips.

1) Prevent weeds from popping up in your garden. Of course, there are several ways in which weeds can be prevented. These include laying down mulch, and protecting your garden with landscape fabric. The success of these depends largely on the types of vegetables that you’ve planted in your garden. Not all of them can tolerate being surrounded by mulch or fabric without their growth being stunted or nonexistent.

2) Weed removal. There are several different ways to remove weeds, using physical or chemical methods. Before you resort to chemical weed killers, which aren’t good for the environment and may potentially harm your vegetables, you should first attempt to manually remove the weeds. This can be done with your hands or with gardening tools like a hoe or a winged weeder. Which one should you try first? It all depends on your soil, the size of the weed and how deep the roots go.

If your soil is loose in that area, then you may be able to pull out any weeds with your hands. Grip the unwanted plant at the base and pull it straight up and out. Make sure that you have the entire root system as well, or the weeds may spread. If your soil is compacted, then you’ll have to use the weeder, a hoe or a trowel to work the weed loose so that it can be removed. Start at the base of the plant and go in a small circle around it with the garden tool, loosening the soil and the weed itself. Once it’s loose, you can pull it out with your hands. Both of these methods are preferred to using a chemical weed killer.

While a chemical weed killer is designed to target the weeds that pop up between sections of concrete or on your lawn, you should avoid using it on your vegetable garden. It is hard to gauge the right amounts, not to mention the fact that weed killers only work on certain weeds – not all of them. This makes them pretty ineffective.

3) Safety First – Wear gloves when you’re weeding your garden, as some pesky invading plants have sharp spines, prickly bits and other things that will make pulling them out unpleasant. This is particularly important if you have allergies, as some weeds may cause you to break out in hives or an itchy rash. If you’re working with a pointed tool to remove the weeds, you should wear safety goggles as well, in order to protect your eyesight.

Find Out About The World’s Best Compost and Learn to Make Amazing Compost.

Would you love it if your plants just leapt out of the soil with the vitality of an Olympic athlete in peak competition readiness?

I highly recommend have a look at the World’s Best Compost System for making the best compost for your garden. Now, you can have beautiful, vibrant, healthy plants and ultra-delicious fruits and vegetables without dangerous pesticides and fertilizers.

The World’s Best Compost System can give you all the information for making the compost your garden deserves. You’ll learn step by step how to make compost which feeds your garden and promotes great tasting food. You’ll never even dream about fertilizer ever again. This compost is organic and even helps keep pests away. You and your soil will never be happier. Check it out NOW.

Click here to see if it is right for you.

 Pic by smysnbrg

 

All About Soil

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251586878_dfeb7d215a_bIt’s easy to take your soil for granted, especially if you’re new to gardening. However, experienced gardeners know that you need to have excellent soil in order for your crops to grow properly. If it’s too acidic, too sandy or too full of clay, you’ll run into problems.

Soil test kits are available in many big box stores, home improvement stores and garden centers. They are fairly easy to use, and usually come with tubes to test for different conditions, including the potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus content of the soil. Once you’ve determined how acidic or problematic your soil is, you can then set about fixing it.

There are other ways of testing your soil as well. You can have a professional soil tester come out and check it for you. Plus, there’s the “touch test.” This involves grabbing a handful of soil and determining if it is too sandy, too full of clay, or just the right texture for your plants. If your soil crumbles the second you squeeze it, then it’s too sandy. If it forms a solid lump, then it’s full of clay. However, if it remains somewhere in the middle, then it’s the perfect texture for planting. Once you’ve tested your soil and determined where its problems lie, then it’s time to fix them.

PROBLEM:  Clay-filled soil – it’s hard to dig into, doesn’t drain well and some plants, especially those that need good-drainage, won’t grow in it.

SOLUTION: You have several solutions here. If your garden plot is small enough, mix in gypsum and composted soil. This will give your smaller, surface-dwelling plants enough to grow in. If you’re planting trees and bushes with deeper root systems, make sure that the hole that you dig is wider, rather than deeper. This will encourage the roots to stay near the surface. You can also plant vegetables, shrubs and trees that thrive in clay-filled soil.

PROBLEM:  Sandy soil, which drains very fast and can be a detriment to certain plants.

SOLUTION: The best cures for sandy soil involve mixing in compost and/or coir (broken up bits of compressed coconut husks) to thicken it. This will help your soil absorb water better. The traditional solution used to be peat moss, but that has a number of problem, including the fact that it can make your soil more acidic.

PROBLEM: Unbalanced soil. Some plants like soil that’s fairly acidic, but most of them prefer the middle ranges of neutral and alkaline soil. Blueberries and cranberries can thrive in acidic soil that ranges between 4.5 and 5.0 on the pH scale. For everything else, you will need to decrease the acidity.

SOLUTION:  In order to make your soil more alkaline, you can mix in broken up oyster shells, agricultural lime, or wood ashes. Of course, if your soil is on the opposite end of the spectrum and you want to increase its acidity, you can mix in acidic organic matter. Options include pine needles, peat moss and pine shavings or sawdust. These will make your soil more acidic.

Find Out About The World’s Best Compost and Learn to Make Amazing Compost.

Would you love it if your plants just leapt out of the soil with the vitality of an Olympic athlete in peak competition readiness?

I highly recommend have a look at the World’s Best Compost System for making the best compost for your garden. Now, you can have beautiful, vibrant, healthy plants and ultra-delicious fruits and vegetables without dangerous pesticides and fertilizers.

The World’s Best Compost System can give you all the information for making the compost your garden deserves. You’ll learn step by step how to make compost which feeds your garden and promotes great tasting food. You’ll never even dream about fertilizer ever again. This compost is organic and even helps keep pests away. You and your soil will never be happier. Check it out NOW.

Click here to see if it is right for you.

Pic by ElvisRipley

 

Book Giveaway Winners and Top Ten Skills

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Thanks to all who participated in this latest book giveaway for a chance to win a free copy of The Darkness After.  

I received some excellent submissions from those who participated by sending in their personal list of what they consider the Top Ten Essential Skills that any prepper/survivalist should possess or attempt to master.

As you would expect, there was a lot of overlap in these lists, as most of us can agree on at least five of the top ten essential skills, especially: finding and purifying water, fire making, shelter making, navigation and food gathering (including foraging, fishing and hunting).  Other commonly mentioned skills included the use of firearms for hunting and personal defense, knowledge of first aid, use of camouflage and stealth and hand to hand combat skills.

One of the lists submitted had an interesting and probably overlooked skill set that most people should pay more attention to: mechanical skill to maintain gear, firearms and mode of travel.  People who like to work on things as a hobby or have jobs that require mechanical skills may be all set in this department, but in today’s society, fewer people do their own repairs or use their hands at work.  If you are among them, you can begin by doing small, routine maintenance jobs on your home, vehicle and other items.  As you gain proficiency in this, your confidence in your ability to keep everything you need going after the SHTF will be much greater.

As stated in the last post announcing the book giveaway, the five winners were chosen at random by a drawing, not based on the quality or content of their Top Ten List.  To those who didn’t win, I still appreciate your participation and contribution.  As Scott Finazzo and I put the finishing touches on The Prepper’s Workbook, these lists will be taken into consideration as we complete the final section of the book, and you may see one of your ideas published there.

So, here are the five winners of a copy of The Darkness After:

J.  Miller of Chesapeake, VA
J.  Guerra, of McAllen, TX
H. Coulter, of Prentiss, MS
T.  Cleveland, of Savanna, GA
D. Baldwin, of Ft. Collins, CO

The winners have also been notified by email and the books will be sent out today.

Busy Busy

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It seems the more work I do on this blog the more writing work I get.

In case you hadn’t noticed I put a lot of effort into the moth of June on this blog. I posted several posts and really made an effort to put helpful comments on any other survival related blog I could find. This led to a guest post on Survival mom ( Getting started Dumpster Diving). Which led to her asking me to submit something for here series on How will you know when the balloon goes up? (yes that is me right below James Rawles).

This led to a good bump in traffic for this site, which led me to make more helpful comments. Then folks started asking me to write stuff. If you don’t know I dabble in freelancing on the website Elance. You can see my profile here.

I have written quite a bit for Off The Grid News, and now am getting more offers from other publishers.
In a three day period I got hit up for seven articles, all due within three weeks. As you can see it has been fun.

Hopefully I can work this into a full time thing and be freer to work the old homestead.

Still clinging to my God and my guns

Randy

How to Grow Tomatoes

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How to Grow TomatoesTomatoes seem like the ultimate vegetables (although they are technically a fruit.) They can be used in everything from sauces to salads, and add a nice bright red color to a primarily green-colored garden. They are also easy to grow, right? Well, in some cases they are.

Some people have no problem growing tomatoes and end up with so many that they end up sharing them with their neighbors, while others can’t seem to get their tomatoes to grow at all. If you fall into the latter category, here are a few rules to follow:

1) Place your seedlings a fair distance apart. Plants don’t like to be crowded, especially tomatoes. Their small stalks need plenty of space to grow. If you’re starting them from seed, you can place several seeds in the same pot and thin them out later. Once they’re ready to be transplanted outdoors, make sure to leave at least 6 inches between each plant. This will give them enough room to grow while leaving you space to place a cage or pole by them later.

2) Plant your tomatoes where they will receive plenty of light. Tomatoes need between 14 and 16 hours of sunlight each day. This means that they need to go in a very sunny section of your yard. If you place them in the shade, they may grow, but will be stunted. You might also end up with a lot of green tomatoes that refuse to ripen. Avoid this by planting them in an ideal spot that’s free of shade.

3) Water your tomatoes a lot. This is especially true at first, when the tomatoes are mere seedlings. Once they begin to grow, they will still need plenty of water. Test the soil with your hand to see if it is moist enough. If they soil seems dry, then water them. However, you don’t want the water to sit in puddles on top of the soil, as too much water can be harmful as well.

4) Pinch off sucker branches. These tiny branches form in the triangle made by the stem and another branch. They appear as leaves at first, then begin to grow and form a separate branch growing out of the first one. Pinch off these fledgling branches and remove them before they grow too large, as they can take away from the nutrients needed to grow properly sized tomatoes on the original branches.

5) Be careful when placing the pole or cage into the soil. If you place the pole or edges of the cage too close to the plant, you could damage the stem or the root system. You’re better off placing the pole or cage several inches away from the main part of the plant and then loosely tying the plant to it to keep it upright. You also don’t want to tie the twine too tightly, as this can damage the plant, not to mention kill it if the twine begins to bite into the stem of your tomato plant.

The Secret to Growing Big Juicy Tomatoes Has Been Discovered. Learn the Secret Now.

Be Self SufficientDo you want to AMAZING tomatoes?

If you’ve ever wanted to find the secret to growing the best tomatoes, then I highly recommend that you check out the “Best Juicy Tomatoes” system for growing quality tomatoes without all the problems.

The “Best Juicy Tomatoes” system can help you grow truly AMAZING tomatoes. You’ll love the 260 full color pictures while gaining valuable insight into staking, irrigation, nutrition, disease control and pest control.

Click here to see if it is right for you.

 Pic by Photon_de

Garden Pests Part Two – The Insect Variety

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Garden Pests Part TwoInsects can be hard to get rid of, especially if your garden is organic, as you don’t want to use common chemical pesticides to kill them off. Some insects are small and hard to see, making it even tougher to remove them from your vegetables. Thankfully there are ways of getting rid of these pests without having to resort to methods that will harm your vegetables as well as the insects munching or living on them.

Aphids – Aphids don’t just go after one type of plant – they go after many different kinds, turning their leaves yellow by sucking out the sap. Instead of spraying your plants with a chemical pesticide, there are several other methods of getting rid of them. You can spray them with a mild soap spray (a few drops of liquid soap in a gallon of water) or use row covers and yellow sticky traps to catch the aphids before they get to your plants.

Weevils – You know that weevils have invaded your garden when you see holes punched in your plants’ leaves. They can also remove all of the foliage from your plants. Weevils will go after many different plants, not just specific ones, which makes them even more of a nuisance. In order to keep weevils away, make sure that your garden is as clean and free of debris as possible. Weevils like a messy environment, so by not giving them one, they’ll steer clear.

Slugs – Slugs are unpleasant creatures that will eat the foliage and fruits right off of your plants. While they are big and slow enough to be removed from your plants by hand, that can quickly become an annoyance. You are better off setting up a few anti-slug measures, like arranging a border around your garden and lining it with ashes, sand or lime to keep the slugs at bay.

Leaf miners – Leaf miners will stunt your plants’ growth by tunneling inside of the leaves and eating whichever parts they find appealing. Unfortunately, they like many different types of plants, so they can be tricky to avoid. However, by setting up row covers and removing the infected leaves, you can rid your garden of these insects.

Cutworms – Cutworms will kill your plants if you don’t get to them first. They can be hard to detect, as they attack your plant’s stem from the soil line and begin to eat their way through it. By keeping your garden clean and weed-free, not to mention being very careful when you transplant your seedlings, you can keep cutworms out of your garden.

Hornworms – Hornworms prefer to snack on your tomato, eggplant, pepper and potato plants. They go after the leaves and fruit of each plant, destroying your crops before they have a chance to fully ripen. If you don’t have any of these plants in your garden, then you won’t have to worry about these insects. But if you do, you can get rid of them by sprinkling dried hot pepper on your plants or removing the insects by hand.

Sick of Pests Ruining Your Garden? Natural Pest Control is NOT a Dream!

Be Self SufficientDo you want to be rid of pests in your garden?

If you’ve ever wanted to find out how to get rid of pests organically, then I highly recommend that you check out Companion Planting and Natural Pest Control for Veggies.

The Companion Planting and Natural Pest Control for Veggies can help you rid your garden of pests organically. You’ll learn 7 proven strategies for discouraging pests and 11 must have plants which attract good predatory insects. Get this comprehensive and gorgeous book today.

Click here to see if it is right for you.

 Pic by Martin LaBar

Two Book Giveaways: The Darkness After

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My latest novel, The Darkness After is now available and shipping in both the print and Kindle versions on Amazon, and most everywhere else books are sold.  I’ve been getting some great feedback from those who have read it, and I think if you enjoyed The Pulse, you will like this one too.  The action is a little more fast-paced, and it is also a somewhat shorter story and therefore a pretty quick read.  Another difference is that most of the action takes place on the road or in the woods, and there is no sailing or international travel involved in this one – just two young people with different but very strong motives to get to their destinations.

If you’d like a chance to win a free copy so you can check it out, I want to announce two book giveaways: one here on Bug Out Survival and the other on the Goodreads website.

My coauthor, Scott Finazzo, and I are putting the finishing touches on The Prepper’s Workbook, and the book giveaway I’m doing here relates to that project.  In the final section of the workbook, we discuss The Top Ten Survival Skills Every Person Should Know.  

What do you think are the top ten most important survival skills and why?  Post your answers in the comments section below or send them to me directly by email to scott@scottbwilliams.com, making sure to include your mailing address, to enter the drawing on August 15 for five (5) signed copies of The Darkness After.  Who knows, maybe you’ll submit something we haven’t thought of and see your suggestion printed in The Prepper’s Workbook when it is published in September.  I’ll announce the winners no later than Friday, August 16 right here on Bug Out Survival.

The other book giveaway for The Darkness After is hosted on Goodreads and all you have to do is sign up below for a chance to win one of ten (10) copies.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Darkness After by Scott B. Williams

The Darkness After

by Scott B. Williams

Giveaway ends August 31, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win