Implement companion planting in your garden The practice of companion planting has been around for generations. We see the principle working brilliantly when the three sisters – corn, beans, and squash – are planted together. Each crop is doing its part to sustain the other. “Companion planting is about marrying plants that work well together […]
The internet is full of websites that give information on survival topics, including food storage. There are dozens and dozens of books that will teach you “the right way” to store food and YouTube videos galore. Most contain valid, trustworthy information, but mixed in with that are a number of food storage myths that many people accept without question.
Here are 10 that I take issue with, and I explain why.
By the way, following Myth #10 are 2 short videos that review these myths.
Myth #1: You should stock up on lots of wheat.
When I was researching foods typically eaten during the Great Depression, I noticed that many of them included sandwiches of every variety. So it makes sense to stock up on wheat, which, when ground, becomes flour, the main ingredient to every bread recipe.
There are a couple of problems with the focus on wheat in virtually all food storage plans, however. First, since the time of the Great Depression millions of people now have various health issues when they consume wheat. From causing gluten intolerance to celiac disease our hybridized wheat is a whole ‘nother animal that our great-grandparents never consumed.
The second issue is that wheat isn’t the simplest food to prepare, unless you simply cook the wheat berries in water and eat them as a hot cereal or add them to other dishes. In order to make a loaf of bread, you have to grind the wheat, which requires the purchase of at least one grain mill. Electric mills are much easier to use and, within just seconds, you have freshly ground flour. However, you’ll probably want to add a hand-crank mill to have on hand for power outages. All together, 2 mills will end up costing a pretty penny, depending on the brands you purchase.
Then there’s the process of making the bread itself, which is time consuming.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t store wheat, and, in fact, I have several hundred pounds of it myself. The emphasis on wheat as a major component in food storage is what I have a problem with. In retrospect, I wish I had purchased far more rice and less wheat. Rice is incredibly simple to prepare and is very versatile. It, too, has a very long shelf life.
Myth #2: Beans last forever.
While it’s true that beans have a long shelf life, they have been known to become virtually inedible over time. Old-timers have reported using every cooking method imaginable in order to soften the beans. A pressure cooker is one option but, again, some have told me that doesn’t even work!
Another option is to grind the beans and add the powdered beans to various recipes. They will still contain some nutrients and fiber.
Over the years, I’ve stocked up on cans of beans — beans of all kinds. They retain their nutrients in the canning process and are already cooked, so there’s no need to soak, boil, pressure cook, etc. You can always home can dried beans, and if you have beans that have been around for more than 10 years or so, canning them is a super simple process and insures they won’t become inedible.
Myth #3: If they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it!
Have you ever fallen in love with a recipe that was easy to make, inexpensive, and your family loved it? You probably thought you’d finally found The Dream Recipe. And then you made it a second time, then a third, then a fourth. About the 8th or 9th time, however, you may have discovered that you had developed a mild form of food fatigue. Suddenly, it didn’t taste all that great and your family wasn’t giving it rave reviews anymore.
When it comes to food storage, don’t assume that someone will eat a certain item they currently hate, just because they’re hungry. If you stock up on dozens of #10 cans of Turkey Tetrazzini, sooner or later the family will revolt, no matter how hungry they are.
Myth #4. All I need is lots and lots of canned food.
There’s nothing wrong with canned food. In fact, that’s how I got started with food storage. However, canned food has its limitations. A can of ravioli is a can of ravioli. You can’t exactly transform it into a completely different dish. As well, canned food may have additives that you don’t care to eat and, in the case of my own kids, tastes change over time. I had to eventually give away the last few cans of ravioli and Spaghetti-O’s because my kids suddenly didn’t like them anymore.
Be sure to rotate whatever canned food you have, since age takes a toll on all foods, but, as I’ve discovered, on certain canned items in particular. My experience with old canned tuna hasn’t been all that positive, and certain high-acid foods, such as canned tomato products, are known to have issues with can corrosion. Double check the seams of canned food and look for any sign of bulging, leaks, or rust.
Lightly rusted cans, meaning you can rub the rust off with a cloth or your fingertip, are safe to continue storing. However, when a can is badly rusted, there’s a very good chance that the rust has corroded the can, allowing bacteria to enter. Those cans should be thrown away.
Worried about the “expiration” date on canned food? Well, those dates are set by the food production company and don’t have any bearing on how the food will taste, its nutrients, or safety after that date. If the food was canned correctly and you’ve been storing it in a dry and cool location, theoretically, the food will be safe to consume for years after that stamped date.
Myth #5: I can store my food anywhere that I have extra space.
Yikes! Not if you want to extend its shelf life beyond just a few months! Know the enemies of food storage and do your best to store food in the best conditions possible.
TIP: Learn more about the enemies of food storage: heat, humidity, light, oxygen, pests, and time.
I emphasize home organization and decluttering on this blog, mainly because it frees up space that is currently occupied by things you don’t need or use. Start decluttering and then storing your food in places that are cool, dark, and dry.
Myth #6: My food will last X-number of years because that’s what the food storage company said.
I have purchased a lot of food from very reputable companies over the years: Augason Farms, Thrive Life, Honeyville, and Emergency Essentials. They all do a great job of processing food for storage and then packaging it in containers that will help prolong its shelf life.
However, once the food gets to your house, only you are in control of how that food is stored. Yes, under proper conditions, food can easily have a shelf life of 20 years or more, but when it’s stored in heat, fluctuating temperatures, and isn’t protected from light, oxygen, and pests, and never rotated, it will deteriorate quickly.
NOTE: When food is old, it doesn’t become poisonous or evaporate in its container. Rather, it loses nutrients, flavor, texture, and color. In a word, it becomes unappetizing.
Myth #7: Just-add-hot-water meals are all I need.
There are many companies who make and sell only add-hot-water meals. In general, I’m not a big fan of these. They contain numerous additives that I don’t care for, in some cases the flavors and textures and truly awful, but the main reason why I don’t personally store a lot of these meals is because they get boring.
Try eating pre-made chicken teriyaki every day for 2 weeks, and you’ll see what I mean. Some people don’t require a lot of variety in their food, but most of us tire quickly when we eat the same things over and over.
These meals have a couple of advantages, though. They are lightweight and come in handy during evacuation time and power outages. If you can boil a couple of cups of water over a rocket stove, propane grill, or some other cooking device, then you’ll have a meal in a few minutes.
TIP: Store a few days worth of just-add-water meals with your emergency kits and be ready to grab them for a quick emergency evacuation. Be sure to also pack a spoon or fork for each person and a metal pot for meals that require cooking over a heat source.
However, for a well-balanced food storage pantry, stock up on individual ingredients and fewer just-add-hot-water meals.
Myth #8: I can stock up on a year’s worth and won’t need to worry about food anymore.
That is probably the fantasy of many a prepper. Buy the food, stash it away, and don’t give it a thought until the S hits the fan. There’s a big problem with that plan, however. When everything does hit the fan and it’s just you and all that food:
- Will you know how to prepare it?
- Will you have the proper supplies and tools to prepare the food?
- Did you store enough extra water to rehydrate all those cans of freeze-dried and dehydrated foods?
- Do you have recipes you’re familiar with, that your family enjoys, and that use whatever you’ve purchased?
- What if there’s an ingredient a family member is allergic to?
- Does everyone even like what you’ve purchased?
- Have any of the containers been damaged? How do you know if you haven’t inspected them and checked them occasionally for bulges and/or pest damage?
If you’ve purchased a pre-packaged food storage supply, the contents of that package were determined by just a small handful of people who do not know your family, your health issues, or other pertinent details. These packages aren’t a bad thing to have on hand. Just don’t be lulled into a false sense of security.
Myth #9: Freeze dried foods are too expensive.
Yes, there is a bit of sticker shock initially when you begin to shop online at sites like Thrive Life, Augason Farms, and Emergency Essentials. If you’ve been used to paying a few dollars for a block of cheddar cheese and then see a price of $35 for a can of freeze-dried cheddar, it can be alarming.
However, take a look at how many servings are in each container and consider how much it would cost to either grow or purchase that same food item and preserve it in one way or another, on your own.
The 3 companies I mentioned all have monthly specials on their food and other survival supplies — that’s how I ended up with 2 cases of granola from Emergency Essentials!
Myth #10: This expert’s food storage plan will fit my family.
The very best food storage plan is the one that you have customized yourself. By all means, use advice given by a number of experts. Take a look at online food calculators, but when it’s time to make purchases, buy what suits your family best. What one person thinks is ideal for food storage may leave your kids retching.
Lots of resources to help you with your food storage pantry
- “A Round-Up of Food Storage Resources“
- Food Saver — vacuum system for storing food long-term
- Food Saver Mason jar sealer
- Food Storage for Self-Sufficiency and Survival by Angela Paskett
- Oxygen absorbers, 100 cc
- Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage by Gaye Levy
- The Preparedness Planner (Print this out and prepare a customized planner!)
- The Prepper’s Cookbook by Tess Pennington
- Survival Mom: How to Prepare Your Family for Everyday Emergencies and Worst Case Scenarios by Lisa Bedford
Want this info on video? Here you go!
Food Storage Myths, Part 1: Myths 1-5
Food Storage Myths, Part 2: Myths 6-10
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If you’re growing or foraging your own food for winter storage, there are plenty of options for keeping your family fed in the early days of winter. Many root crops, fruits and greens can keep for a few months cool and out of direct sun, even without a proper root cellar.
As the winter presses on, though, options start to dwindle and there are fewer and fewer choices in dependable home-raised crops that will take you all the way through the hunger gap into the first productive days of late spring and early summer. Nonetheless, humans survived millennia without refrigeration and long-term food shipments, so there’s plenty to get your family by.
There are multiple reasons you should look into long-term storage crops. What if spring and early summer crops fail? What happens when a full summer’s worth of crops fail and you’re heading into winter again, with just what you still have on hand?
In 2013 the Northeast experienced record rainfall and cloud cover in June, meaning that the growing conditions were more like an average northeast November. Crops rotted in the ground, and normally dependable summer and long-season fall crops were delayed by months or could not be grown at all. Looking back further, the year 1816 was dubbed “the year without a summer” because a volcanic eruption caused widespread climate problems, and many areas experienced blizzards and hard frosts literally every single month of the year.
Of course, you also could pressure can, salt cure or dehydrate food to increase storage life, all of which require either special equipment or considerable time and effort to ensure that a food that would otherwise spoil stays palatable for longer than it would on its own.
There is a better way. By selecting foods that naturally store for extended periods of time without specialized effort or processing, you ensure survival and food security with minimal extra effort and in general minimize your consumption of processed foods of any sort. There’s something to be said for providing your own home grown, long-term food security, all without the need of special equipment or elaborate processing.
While annual gardens and fruit orchards tend to get a lot of attention for providing food self-sufficiency, nut trees are a great investment to provide a stable fat and protein source to balance out your family’s diet. They have the added benefit of a long storage life, especially at cool temperatures. All nuts keep best unroasted and left in the shell.
Hazelnuts, a high-yielding, easy-to-grow home crop, can keep up to two years held between 32 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit (in a cool unheated basement), or for just over a year at 50-60 (F) degrees in a back closet on the north side of your house in cooler regions. They have the added benefit of being one of the most versatile nuts, because they can be grown anywhere between zone 4 and 9 successfully. There are even some zone 3 cultivars.
Pecans come in second place in nut shelf life, and can keep just over a year at cool, unheated basement temperatures. Very high fat nuts such as walnuts don’t keep quite as well as the others, but remain good for 9-12 months at cool temperatures.
Be sure to check your nuts for rancidity by smell before eating them. Nevertheless, rancid or not, it won’t harm you to eat them during an emergency situation as long as they don’t have visible mold or pest infestation.
2. Dried corn and beans
While many forms of grain and staple legumes store for extended periods of time, dry corn and beans are the most practical for growing and processing at home without equipment. Beans and corn can be harvested, cleaned, dried and stored all by hand without specialized equipment, unlike other grains such as wheat. If dried thoroughly to a low moisture content and kept cool, home dried corn and beans can last 2-3 years, without the need to invest in long-term storage options like vacuum sealing and oxygen absorbers. With the additional investment to reduce or eliminate oxygen, corn and beans can hold successfully for up to 10 years.
3. Honey and maple
Natural sweeteners like honey and maple are full of beneficial enzymes and micro-nutrients, not to mention a ready source of calories, and they boast considerable shelf lives. Honey, if kept uncontaminated and well-sealed from moisture, can last at room temperature indefinitely. Maple syrup, packaged very hot into glass jars such Mason jars, has very long shelf life potential – upwards of 50 year or more. Maple manufacturers recommend a storage life in glass of no more than four years for optimum flavor, assuming the jar is unopened. Maple stored in plastic jugs should not be kept more than 1-2 years, and metal jugs are only rated for six months of storage life.
What would you add to our list? Are there other foods you grow and store for long-term survival? Share your tips in the section below:
This season we are trying a slightly new garden method, just to see if it works. This will be our three sisters garden, corn, beans & squash. This method of making a garden bed is known as Hugelkultur .
I will be making a video of this later when the crops are up, but right now this is as far as I have got. I dug a trench first & filled it with garden refuge, cut grass & weeds, heavier tree trimmings on top of that, some old garden edging logs that we have replaced, then the soil on top. I did add some chook manure before adding the soil to help break down the refuse.
When I started mounding the earth, I soon realised that I was not going to have enough soil to cover the highest logs. I did not want to bring more soil from elsewhere or use our compost that we needed for our other garden beds, so I removed two of the top logs.
Beans: The Super Food that Keeps You Full Stocking up your food supply is one of the main aspects of prepping and something that a homesteader always keeps in mind. There are plenty of options for storage foods, like canned food, pouched food, dried foods or fresh produce in root cellars. A problem a lot …
I once did a horticultural analysis of a property way out in the scrublands. The owner had good clean water, no real neighbors, a great location… and hot, fast-drying, mineral-poor sand that was really, really bad for gardening.
There was no couching it. I had to tell him: this area just won’t cut it for most of your planned annual gardening projects. It will barely support much in the way of fruit or nut trees.
What it did have was a decent amount of native American persimmon trees. They were dwarfed by drought and stress, but they were strong and alive. That said, I saw very few with fruit.
With antive persimmons you deal with a variety of drawbacks. Unlike their cultivated Japanese persimmon relations, they’re dioecious. That means you have male and female trees – and you need both to get fruit. The male won’t make fruit but it does provide the pollen that allows the females to fruit.
Japanese persimmons are self-fertile, plus they make hefty, sweet fruit that’s very worth growing. They’re also regularly grafted onto American persimmon rootstock.
Seeing the wild trees gave me an idea: why not use the existing trees as rootstock for Japanese persimmons? They’re already established and growing in poor soil, making them a perfect support for a higher-producing and delicious variety of improved persimmon!
Sometimes our first observations aren’t the best. You might see a crabapple with lousy fruit in your yard and think “I hate that thing! I’ll tear it out and plant a good apple in its place!”
Step back and think about it: maybe that tough tree is a resource you can use. With grafting you can go nip some twigs off good apple trees and just graft them onto the tree you don’t like. If it’s a happy and healthy mature tree, use it! If you can graft fruit trees, you can grow more food for less money.
Another interesting factoid to consider: you know those stupid ornamental pears people grow for the blooms? You can graft REAL pears onto them. There are folks doing that in California right now by illegally “guerilla grafting” street trees:
Doesn’t that change the landscape a bit? Ornamental trees are generally a non productive liability… productive trees are a serious asset. If you’ve got ornamental pears, plums, peaches, apples, etc… why not switch them up by grafting on some good varieties?
Grafting In Local Woods and Property
Here’s another thought for you.
In my neighborhood there are wild persimmons growing here and there around the block. Some of these are on empty lots and in unused property with absentee owners. We don’t know how bad things are going to get in the future so it makes sense to grow as much food as possible near our houses… even if that food is on other people’s land right now.
Wild persimmon fruit is only found on 50% of the trees (since the other half are male). That fruit is about 1″ in diameter, plus it’s astringent and seedy.
I have Japanese persimmons in my yard that make fruit that looks like this:
That fruit is as large as a beefsteak tomato and just as delicious (if not more so).
Though the legalities are rather grey, I don’t think anyone would really mind if I were to take buds off my Japanese persimmon tree and graft them into the wild trees here and there around the neighborhood. People will find it rather puzzling, sure – but be upset by it? I doubt it. Heck, at the very worst all I’ve done is improve somebody’s tree. Hehhehheh.
Just thinking out loud here. In your local woods you may have quite a few trees growing which could be judiciously improved, turning them into fruit-production machines rather than marginally useful wild specimens.
Grafting Is Easy
I know what many of you are thinking: “All the above is nice, Dave… but I don’t know how to graft fruit trees!”
I understand that feeling. I was in your shoes for a long time. Grafting was something that seemed… complicated. Planting beans? No big deal. Drying fruit? Easy.
Grafting? OMIGOSHNO! THAT LOOKS HARD!
Well… it takes a little whittling experience (unless you go this route)… and a couple of decent tools… but it isn’t really hard. If you’d like a quick illustrated guide, click here. Though it states that wood should be dormant, I’ve been able to successfully graft in summer here in Florida, at least on loquat trees.
One of my favorite (and most successful) ways to graft is called “veneer grafting.” At my site you can see how I saved the genetics of an improved loquat tree hit by a string trimmer by grafting some of its buds onto some seedling loquats.
Don’t worry about messing up. We all mess up. There’s no harm in trying something new.
This spring I grafted a big, sweet improved plum onto a sour native plum tree. I did five grafts – one took:
Now, in the fall of the same year, that branch is about 3′ long. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have it bear fruit this coming spring.
Get yourself a sharp pocketknife, some pruning shears, a roll of grafting tape and your courage… then start experimenting.
Grafting can help you get food from unproductive trees and lots – harness it and you’ll be just that much more prepared for an uncertain future.
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Harvesting rain water should be a priority for any serious prepper or gardener.
Did you ever go on a long hike, then find yourself parched with thirst? The need for water catches up with you quickly.
If the city water or your well shut down for a week, would you be able to survive or would your house become unlivable? Stockpiling guns, gold and food is a good idea – but having a way to hold on to water is of paramount importance.
Fortunately – in most climates – God gives us a ready supply from above if we can just figure out how to capture it. I’ve been harvesting rainwater on a budget for years and have figured out what works and what doesn’t.
Today I’ll share my top 7 mistakes to avoid when harvesting rain water. I’ve also put them into a video version:
Let’s jump into the mistakes, starting with a very common one.
Mistake #1: Make It Expensive
Harvesting rain water DOESN’T need to be expensive!
If you have a larger budget and plan on keeping your homestead for a while, there are excellent systems with diverters, filtration, underground cisterns and pumps – which are great – but not necessary if you’re having a hard time rubbing two nickels together. You can do this on the cheap. I’ve even converted trash cans to rain barrels:
Though after I set up a couple of homemade rain barrels at my old homestead, I realized I could capture a lot more water for free by creating ponds. Instead of digging proper ponds with expensive liners, I got a pair of solid old hot tubs from a local pool company. All I had to pay was a delivery fee (these suckers were too heavy for me to move!), then find PVC caps to fit the pipe holes in them. Direct a gutter into a hot tub and you’ll hold hundreds of gallons of water. I planted mine with edible and useful aquatic plants and threw in some local “mosquitofish” and gold fish to eat any mosquito larvae that might show up. I also scored another hot tub by the side of the road, taking my total up to three.
The total capacity was roughly 1200 gallons between them and I had plenty of water to keep my gardens alive through any drought.
Mistake #2: Let the Mosquitoes In
Mosquitoes can take a great idea and make it a health hazard. As new viruses sweep around the world, people are rightly concerned about the danger of harvesting rainwater improperly. Even old tires hold enough water to breed mosquitoes, so a rain barrel has the capability of breeding thousands of the bloodsuckers.
The best way to keep them out is to keep your rain barrels or cisterns covered so mosquitoes don’t lay their eggs. I’ve covered mine with screening in the past, then had the screening get pushed in during a heavy downpour, which then let mosquitoes lay eggs, leading to a bunch of squiggling larvae.
A friend with an excellent rainwater harvesting system much bigger than my own told me that he had issues with mosquitoes occasionally due to openings, but he had used “mosquito dunks,” which are a non-toxic mosquito-killing product comprised of bacteria that sicken and kill the larvae. Just desserts!
I tried it and they worked like a charm; however, the best method is just to keep things closed.
Mistake #3: Choke The Flow
This was my first rookie mistake.
I built a pair of rainbarrels and carefully attached spigots to the bottoms of them, hoisted them a few feet above the ground on stacked cinderblocks, then directed in the gutters. After the first rain I was excited to give them a test, so I put a bucket under the spigot and opened it fully. To my great irritation, the faucet aperture was too small. It would take about three to five minutes to fill a bucket. That’s an eternity if you’re hoping to get some watering done, and it meant I used those rain barrels a lot less than I would have if they had generous faucets.
A friend has a great big PVC outlet on the side of one of his 1,000 gallon cisterns that allows out a blast of water when cranked open.
That’s what you want – don’t use fiddly weenie faucets!
Mistake #4: Go Too Small
Don’t go too small!
Just like you don’t want little faucets, you should also avoid small storage capacity. Though I thought rain barrels were a great idea at first, I realized that they filled in just a few minutes under the gutters, then overflowed for the rest of a rain storm. That’s when I got thinking about ponds and then added hot tubs. The rainwater harvesting capacity of a roof is incredible.
The University of Arizona reports “A one-inch rain will collect 600 gallons from a 1,000 square foot roof, while 4,500 square foot lot will receive 2,800 gallons!”
They further share how you can calculate the water catching power of your roof:
- Measure the square footage of the collection area (for example a roof that is 30 feet wide x 50 feet long = 1500 sq. ft.)
- Multiply the area by the amount of rain in inches
- Multiply that number by 0.623 (that is the quantity of water in gallons one inch deep in one square foot of space)
= number of gallons that can be collected.
More capacity is better!
Mistake #5: Miss The Power of Swales
This is a common mistake.
Like your roof, the ground also catches a lot of water, yet much of it is lost due to evaporation and run off.
Using swales as a method of rainwater harvesting makes a lot of sense. Swales are just ditches or indentations deliberately constructed to slow the movement of water and allow it to soak in.
Here’s a swale running through our cocoa orchard:
Though this isn’t a method for harvesting rainwater you can drink, swales hydrate the soil deeply and effectively, particularly on sloping ground. Using swales creates passive irrigation downhill from the swale and can transform a dry area into an oasis.
Find the contour of your land and dig some swales, then plant fruit trees or gardens or both around them. I’ve seen roadside ditches filled with green vegetation at the bottom during a drought that has burned all the surrounding grass brown.
If you’re harvesting rainwater to grow food, look into swales!
Mistake #6: Muck it Up with Algae
Algae is the enemy of clean water.
Though it won’t hurt your plants to dump scummy green water on them (in fact, they like it), it’s not appetizing or helpful if you hope to filter and drink the water you catch.
Like mosquitoes, the best way to beat algae is not to let it into the system to begin with.
Harvesting rainwater in black covered containers will keep algae from becoming a problem. They are tiny plants which photosynthesize for survival, so if you cut off the sunlight you cut off the algae. I’d rather use darkness than an algacide if I have my choice.
Mistake #7: Not Harvesting Rain Water at All!
The biggest mistake in harvesting rain water… is to NOT harvest rain water at all.
You need very little infrastructure to get started.
Heck, throwing a trash can under a gutter is better than nothing – and digging a swale isn’t tough either. Just mulching after a rain will trap moisture in the soil and make your plants happier. If you have more of a budget, get some big cisterns going.
Where I live in Central America, almost every house has a cistern for harvesting rain water in case of hurricanes or a loss of city water. Water is life – get harvesting now and you’ll be in a much safer place. Without water, you and your survival gardening plans will come to nothing.
Good luck and thanks for reading. May your plans prosper and the rains fall abundantly.
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If you don’t see tobacco as important to survival, I feel for you.
I’ve been growing it for years (and you can too) and during the worst days of the crash, when I was unemployed, watching friend after friend go broke and seeing folks lose their homes right and left… a good cigar was one of the few simple pleasures that made things better, at least for 45 minutes or so.
That’s not to say I was rolling my own. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to master that skill – but this video has given me some hope that I will one day:
The packing of the interior seems to be where my attempts always fall short. I’ve noticed that the elasticity of the tobacco leaf on the interior wrapper also presents problems, though I’ve been working on hydrating it better and my last couple of attempts did quite a bit better.
Sometimes it’s “try, try again,” especially when you don’t have a teacher locally.
If you don’t think you can manage to roll cigars, you might try making your own pipe tobacco or even grinding snuff with a coffee grinder. That works really well and ladies totally dig the snorting and sneezing associated with this arcane pleasure.
If all else fails, it’s pretty easy to roll a cigarette, too, but I don’t go in for those. It just doesn’t pack the “awesome” that a cigar does.
Trust me, though: if SHTF, tobacco is going to be a highly desirable commodity, no matter how it’s processed or consumed. Learn to grow it, at least – then pray you can find a Cuban friend to roll it for you.
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For gardeners who just can’t stand to keep their hands out of the soil for any length of time, growing food indoors in containers can be a great pastime during the winter months.
Green beans are a relatively quick-growing vegetable that can be grown inside your home and also look quite beautiful, as well.
Not only that, but they are also quite tasty and nutritious. While they may not be a nutritional powerhouse like broccoli and kale, green beans are still rich in many vitamins and nutrients. For example, one cup of cooked green beans has 22 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin K, 18 percent of manganese and 16 percent of fiber. They even have carotenoids in concentrations similar to that of carrots and tomatoes.
Some Facts About Green Beans
Green beans were once referred to as string beans because of a “string” that ran down the seam of the bean and needed to be pulled out before eating. Today, most varieties have had the string bred out of them and they are more often referred to as snap beans because their crunchiness allows them to be easily snapped between your fingers.
When selecting your seeds, it is important to know that there are two main types: beans that grow as vines (typically referred to as pole beans) and bush beans. For indoor gardeners, bush beans are preferred because they do better in containers and take up less room in your home.
Plants that you are growing indoors can be started any time of the year, but you still need to remember that they have certain environmental requirements. Green beans need plenty of light, so you will need to place them in a part of your home where they can get a minimum of six hours of sunlight each day. Alternatively, grow lights can work if you do not have a window that gets enough sun.
Your plants will do best if they are kept in a spot where the temperature is between 50 and 85 degrees.
They are also an annual plant, so you will only have them for one season.
Starting Your Seeds
The best containers for your green beans are long and narrow with plenty of drainage. Fill your containers with compost-enriched and well-draining soil. A good formula for growing green beans is two parts garden soil, one part compost and one part sand. You should avoid using soil that is rich in nitrogen.
Once your containers are ready, plant your seeds about one and one-half inches deep and at least four inches apart from one another. If you are growing pole beans, you will need longer stakes, or a trellis for the vines to climb. Place stakes that are about one foot in height next to each seed, and water.
Caring For Your Plants
Keep the soil for your green bean plants evenly moist, but not too wet. As the shoots begin to appear, make sure you are watering at root level rather wetting the entire plant. Once the seedlings are a couple of inches tall, you can add some mulch around them, as this will help to hold in the moisture and give you healthier plants.
Keep in mind that green beans are vulnerable to certain types of diseases, such as blight. If you notice a diseased plant, remove it immediately to keep the disease from spreading to other plants.
Green bean plants do not require much in the way of fertilization, but since you are growing them indoors, they can benefit from light feeding every so often. Try using a compost tea once or twice during their growing season.
Within 50-60 days, your plants should be fully grown and ready for harvest.
Harvesting and Enjoying Your Green Beans
Green beans are picked when they are still immature. Most varieties will be ready for harvest after they have reached about three inches in length but have not yet plumped out. Harvest them regularly to encourage more growth.
Unwashed beans may be stored in a plastic bag in your vegetable crisper for about a week, or if you have more than you can use in that timeframe, you may freeze them.
If you wish to save seeds in order to start a new plant, you will have to allow the plant to mature until some of the pods have become very plump and turned brown.
As for the beans that you harvest for eating, you can enjoy them raw or cooked in soups, casseroles or simply on their own. One of the healthiest ways of cooking them is to steam them for only five minutes. Doing so will make them nice and tender while bringing out their maximum flavor and preserving their nutritional value.
Do you have any advice for cooking green beans indoors? Share your tips in the section below:
If your eyes are open right now, you know Western Civilization is in trouble. Now is the time to start survival gardening.
Today we share 7 survival gardening secrets that will get you off on the right foot.
1. Grow Near, Not Far
This is one of those “secrets” I can’t repeat enough. Don’t put your garden beds at the edge of your yard. Put them where you’ll see them. This will keep pest problems from becoming plagues. If your chickens are digging up the corn, you’ll see it… instead of finding bare ground and chicken tracks a week later. You may think you’ll be out there in the garden every day, but “out of sight, out of mind” holds truer than most of us would like to admit.
2. Healthy Soil is Key
Make sure the ground you’re trying to garden upon is suited to it. A reader recently sent me pictures of the land she is hoping to plant as a food forest. I took one look and shook my head.
The ecosystem was obviously Pine Flatwoods: acid sugar sand, poor mineralization, a clay layer, intermittent flooding and droughty conditions.
When even the weeds look sick, you may need to hunt for a better spot. Though it’s possible to grow a food forest there – barely – a better use for the ground would be for growing timber and blueberries, not survival gardening or food forests.
If that was the only land I could get, I would turn to livestock such as goats, chickens and cattle for my calories, rather than plants.
If you are stuck with poor conditions all over your yard and need to garden, I recommend deep mulching the worst areas if you have the material – and if you don’t, then double dig or broadfork the soil, then feed it well with a wide range of nutrients. Planting nutrient-accumulating chop and drop species for mulch and compost is another good idea.
3. You don’t Need Lots of Compost
Having tons of organic matter is great but most of us don’t have that luxury. It’s hard to make enough compost (though I greatly expand the possibilities in my book Compost Everything) so you need to get creative. My favorite method is to make an anaerobic compost tea with a wide range of inputs. Manure, urine, seaweed, saltwater, fish guts, kitchen scraps, Epsom salts, weeds, grass and leaves – if it has some decent nutrition in it, I will pile it in a barrel, top off with fresh water and let it rot for weeks, then use it as a diluted fertilizer for my crops. Like this:
It (literally) stinks but can save your life in a survival gardening situation.
4. No Irrigation? No Problem
If you get a decent amount of rainfall during the growing season, you may not have to run irrigation to your gardens. Instead of planting intensively in tight spacing, clear more ground and increase the space between plants and rows. I grew a corn patch this way as an experiment one year and had fine luck.
Since then I’ve done the same with cassava, pigeon peas and winter squash.
Wide spacing and clear ground will keep your plants hydrated as root competition will be reduced and they can find the moisture in the soil with less difficulty. Steve Solomon’s book Gardening Without Irrigation is available online for free – download and read it for good in-depth info.
You can’t do this in all climates but you might be surprised how many farmers pull off irrigation-free gardening and where they are able to do so.
Want To Know Where To Find Hidden Water Sources For Irrigation?
5. Urine is an Excellent fertilizer
This ties in with the anaerobic compost tea idea but it’s quicker. Urine contains a range of minerals and lots of much-needed nitrogen. In many countries it’s been used instead of chemical fertilizers and I think it makes more sense. I’ve seen rich, green gardens and trees fed on nothing but urine. It works.
Dilute urine with water so it doesn’t burn the plants with nitrogen and salt – I find six parts water to one part urine works well. I’m feeding some weak pumpkin vines this way right now and they’re really starting to perk up.
6. Calories First!
I shouldn’t have to say this, but we gardeners aren’t always the most practical people on the planet. We like the challenge of growing interesting things and we also love our culinary treats. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, hops. These are all great – yet if you’re survival gardening, you’re not hobby gardening.
You need to find the best staple crops for your area and concentrate on those primarily.
As I’ve written before, plant calorie crops first – then plant some patches of nutrition crops next.
Keeping yourself from starving is more important than the potential nutritional deficiencies you might face later.
I would argue that in most case you could probably meet many of your nutritional needs through wild plant foraging for greens, nuts, berries and game.
Finding caloric staples is harder.
Plant roots, winter squash, beans and grain corn first in most climates. Also – Jerusalem artichokes and white potatoes are good in the north, cassava, sweet potatoes and African yams in the Deep South. Dent corn is your grain corn for the South – flint corn for the north.
This ties in to my next tip:
7. Snag Seeds Locally
Buying seeds through the mail from a seed company growing crops in a different climate isn’t the best way to prepare for a crash.
If the plants were cultivated for seed in Southern California but you live in New Hampshire, the varieties may not be well adapted to your growing conditions. This is why I seek out local varieties of vegetables at farmer’s markets, farmer’s stands and local gardeners.
See a stack of pumpkins on a stand by the road?
Ask the farmer if he grew them locally. If he did, buy one and save the seeds. Ask around for bean varieties that do well in your area. Pick up local grain corn from the farmer’s market if it’s being sold for decorations in the fall.
Keep your eyes open.
You want those seeds which will make plants that can handle your levels of sunshine, pests, humidity, rainfall and everything else. Local is good – start hunting!
I buy pumpkins all the time and save their seeds. In this video you can see how I do it:
I have been known to screech to a stop by a roadside farm stand because I spotted a variety not currently growing on my farm.
The survival gardening secrets I shared today will put you in good stead in a crisis but they’re just part of the story. You can grow your own food in a crisis but it’s very important to start right now.
I highly recommend you pick up my Survival Gardening Secrets program and learn. Get growing – and may God be with you.
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See larger image The Quick Wholesome Foods DVD with 28 page Recipe Booklet shows you how to make delicious heart healthy meals from wheat, grains, beans and more using your food storage. A complete HOW-TO&; Read More …
Like most gardeners I have been looking for ways to get the most out of my garden. I don’t know about you, but feeding my family is a year round deal, my garden plays a huge role in that. Extending the season with cold frame gardening is one of the simplest ways to do so. It allows gardeners to acclimate seedlings to the outdoors, and protect plants from frost by trapping heat inside of the cold frame. If you haven’t started a garden yet, check out THE FIRST 5 STEPS TO STARTING A GARDEN.
What is cold frame gardening?
A cold frame is just a box with a transparent top, and preferably bottomless. You could use an old window, polycarbonate, or plastic sheeting. As long as it is transparent it should work just fine. I found two cabinets with glass doors. I found them at a second hand shop for really cheap, because one of them was broken. I slapped some duct tape on it to put it back together. Duct tape fixes everything, right? You can make the box out of scrap materials or do what I did and find something cheap that will work for this project that is already put together.
How do cold frames work?
Cold frame gardening lets the sun and heat inside through the transparent top. Which keeps the plants warm, even when it is cold outside. it is not only warm inside the box, but the soil is warmer also. As a result the plants will be protected from frost. When you place seedlings inside a cold frame it helps them to get used to being outside and they will soon be ready to plant in the ground if you so choose.
A cold frame will help keep the plants warm when it is cold outside. Although, you will have to watch the temperature. Fall/Winter crops will like temperatures below 60ºF and above freezing. Summer plants should be below 75ºF, but no colder than 60ºF degrees. There may be days where you will need to prop open or remove the lid completely to control the temperature. Prop open the lid several inches if it is 40ºF, and if it gets up to 50ºF, take the lid off completely.
If you have many cloudy days, painting the inside walls white, or lining them with aluminum foil will help drawn in more sun. Also, if it is going to be a really cold night you may want to think of covering the transparent top with something that will help keep the heat in. You could wrap the entire thing with a blanket, or anything that can provide some protection from the cold.
You can use potted plants in a cold frame or you can plant directly into the ground. It will depend on your preference and the type of plants that you are sowing. I like to start carrots out in a small pot inside, but once the seedlings are big enough I will plant them in the cold frame.
You will want to place your cold frames in a sunny spot. It is recommended that you place it facing the South. It is better if you can bury the box just below the frost point. Especially, if you will be planting things like carrots, that need to grow deep into the dirt. Burying the box will help keep it well insulated throughout the winter. Bury the box at an angle, so that more sun can get in.
Fall cold frame gardening
Fall is my favorite time of the year. Not only are we harvesting our pumpkins but we can use a cold frames to plant carrots, cabbage, radish, leeks, and our leafy vegetables.
Winter cold frame gardening
Depending on where you live, winter can be the hardest time for growing. Many people have to cover their plants up completely to protect them from the frost. Using cold frames is a simple and beautiful way to garden during the winter. In the winter your leafy greens such as, chard, spinach, and lettuce will do well throughout the winter in a cold frame box.
Spring cold frame gardening
You can get a head start on the summer garden by using the cold frame in springtime. Sew your seeds about 5 weeks before the last frost occurs. You could also do another round of leafy vegetables if you like!
Cold frame gardening is one of the easiest ways to extend your gardening all year round. Not only that but they look much prettier than row covers. You can make large cold frames or a small one, to fit your individual needs. Using scrap materials, cold frame gardening doesn’t have to be expensive either.
If you already have a raised garden bed, you can turn it into a cold frame by finding old windows, doors or making your own transparent lid to go on them.
What is your favorite gardening trick? Let us know in the comments below!
Want Your Survival Garden To Grow 12 Months Of The Year?
Looking for ideas on how to keep your garden alive all 12 months of the year? Depending on where you live, there are inventions that make it quite possible if you’re willing to get clever.
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For many of us, buying food specifically for food storage is an additional expense that can, sometimes, become too burdensome. When money is tight, it’s hard enough to cover the groceries for our main meals, much less add another few day’s worth of food to the grocery cart.
One solution to this dilemma is to stock up on meal stretchers. Foods like rice, beans, potatoes, pasta, and other grains have always formed the core of most food storage plans. First, they are inexpensive foods, like these potato dices. Purchased either from the grocery store or in large multi-pound packages, it’s a lot of food that will go a long way in your meals. If you add just 1 cup of rice to a pot of soup, the expense is just a few cents. This is probably why some of my Nana’s recipes contained elbow macaroni. Just cook up a little ground beef, add some onion, a can of tomatoes, seasonings — and then double the amount of food in the pot with macaroni! During the Great Depression days, as I wrote about here, this was a common and necessary practice. Most of the macaroni in my pantry is in large #10 cans. The larger size provides lots of servings and the metal can provides an optimal storage container.
These meal stretchers also add a lot of calories. Now, for many of us, calories are something to be avoided but consider what life is like during a long-term power outage. Folks who have lived for days and weeks following a hurricane or Superstorm Sandy had to do without modern electrical conveniences that typically make our lives easier. We burn far fewer calories when machines do our laundry, wash our dishes, and help us in so many other ways. Without them, there’s more physical labor and stress. Thus the need for more calories.
I’ve heard stories of financially strapped moms learning that company is coming over and quickly adding a meal stretcher or two to their dinners. A scoop of homemade chili over a cup or two of white rice, stretches the pot of chili at least another few servings. One Facebook reader recently told me how she cooked bulgur wheat with beef bouillon until it was tender and then added it to some of her soups and chili. She said it had a similar consistency to ground beef. Classic meal stretcher!
One other advantage to most meal stretchers is that they are easy to store and have long shelf lives, with the exception of pasta. Grains, rice, dehydrated or freeze dried potatoes, and beans all have exceptionally long shelf lives, which means they retain most, if not all, of their flavor, nutrients, texture, and color over a long period of time. Stored in a cool, dark, and dry location, they will last for 20 or more years. Pasta, on the other hand, is a little more finicky when it comes to long term storage, but still, we’re talking about a good 8-10 years or more shelf life and worthy of including in your food storage pantry.
Not just for homemade recipes
Although I use meal stretchers primarily in my from-scratchrecipes, they can also be helpful with just-add-water meals. This Hearty Vegetable Chicken Soup mix could easily be stretched with the addition of rice or small pasta. Augason Farm’s Southwest Chili Mix can be stretched with any number of stretchers — more beans, bulgar wheat, or macaroni for Chili Mac.
This is also a good strategy for increasing the number of calories. One complaint many of us have with “survival food” meals is that they usually don’t contain enough calories per serving. That is easilysolved, again, with the magic of meal stretchers.
If you have pouches, cans, or buckets of instant meals, give some thought as to how you might stretch them if you ever really needed to make a 3-months-supply of food last 4 months or longer.
Some downsides to meal stretchers
There are just a few negative points about storing meal stretchers. First, they can attract insects. If you’re planning on storing them for many years, you’ll want to protect them by adding food safe diatomaceous earth to the container. Here’s some information about diatomaceous earth, if you haven’t heard of it before, and these instructions will help you know exactly how to add it to your food for pest control.
One other method for pest control is to put tightly sealed containers of food in the freezer for several days. This kills any microscopic insect eggs that could be present. I do this and also add the appropriate size of oxygen absorber, which deprives insects and their eggs of oxygen, insuring their doom.
Most store-bought packages of things like rice, beans, and pasta are made from very flimsy plastic or cardboard. In both cases,the foods will have to be repackaged to extend their shelf lives. Here are instructions for doing that. It isn’t a complicated process. It just takes a little time.
A reality of modern American life is the prevalence of gluten sensitivities and other food allergies. If this applies to you or anyone in your family, then wheat and anything made from wheat will be on the “Do Not Buy!” list. Instead, stock up on varieties of beans and rice. Stocking up on large quantities of gluten-free pasta is probably not going to be practical.
Wheat and beans, in particular, can be rough on digestive systems that aren’t used to them, so in a crisis, be prepared to deal with tummy troubles for a few days.
Stocking up on meal stretchers is a very smart strategy for any family’s food storage pantry.
While doing research for an awesome upcoming post on desert survival, I came across Shawn Woods, a seriously cool YouTuber who makes primitive weapons, braids his own rope, hunts frogs with an arrow sporting a head he hand-knapped from an old Jack Daniels bottle… this guy is intense!
We often focus on finding water in the desert, or maintaining hygiene – but how about food? Knowing plants is a good place to start but you will soon start to crave protein. Shawn Woods may have provided the answer in this video on the Paiute deadfall trap. In it, we discover why this is a better option than the standard “figure 4” deadfall trap, and see how to build one step by step. Plus, don’t forget how learning to make and use traps like this let’s you lighten your bug out bag load by allowing you to scratch a couple of items off your bugout bag checklist.
How Does the Paiute Deadfall Trap Differ from a Figure 4 Deadfall Trap?
Shawn illustrates at the beginning the difference between these two iconic traps.
The Paiute deadfall trap is slightly more complicated and has a piece of twine and a small trigger piece which the figure 4 deadfall trap lacks. According to Shawn, this makes it more effective.
So, how do you build one?
Step 1: Find Your Rock
First, find a suitable rock or log.
Make sure the rock is big enough to kill your desired game. In the video, Shawn is hunting mice so the rock is small.
Step 2: Secure Some Twine or Braid Your Own
The twine for the trigger can be purchased or, as Shawn does, made from local materials. In his area, he notes that cordage can be made from milkweed, dogbane, cedar bark and stinging nettle. In the desert you would turn to the trusty yucca for good fiber.
Step 3: Get Your Blade Ready
For the sake of historic authenticity, Sean uses a piece of flint that he chipped off a larger chunk.
Most of us would simply use a pocket knife, but the flint is definitely an option for you hardcore history buffs.
Step 4: Start Whittling Sticks
Cut your sticks and notches as shown in the earlier illustration.
At the end of your whittling, you want this set of pieces:
Step 5: Create Your Trigger
Now it’s time to create the trigger. This requires drilling a small hole through the flat trigger piece and running your cordage through it.
You can secure the twine with a knot or a small twig looped through it.
Step 6: Tie On the Trigger
It’s time to attack the trigger and get this sucker ready for trapping!
Step 7: Learn to Set the Trap
Now is the time of reckoning. Trap-setting time.
Seeing the pieces and how they fit really puts it all together in my head. As you can see, the trigger is bent around the base of the prop stick which holds up the diagonal stick. The little twig in the back is then separately braced against the trigger and tucked tight under the rock to stabilize the deadfall.
Step 8: Bait and Kill Meat!
Shawn demonstrates his trap on rats and mice via a night vision camera:
To hunt bigger game, make the trap larger. Ideally, you would be nailing creatures a little larger than mice in a survival situation but the dynamics are the same.
Note the bait – what appears to be peanut butter – smeared above the small stick that holds the trigger in place. Any leaning or bumping that little twig and SMACK! You’ve nailed some meat.
So how hard is it to make a Paiute deadfall trap?
Well, my nine-year-old son built one after watching this video a few times. Though he is a sharp kid, I’m sure you could do the same. I’m going to practice my skills now before I need them.
Heck, I’d do this just to kill some of the rats eating my corn.
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I used to wait for spring with bated breath. I would watch for a good day for tilling, go out and buy a bunch of transplants and seeds, and then have a wild and crazy weekend tearing up the earth and putting everything in the ground.
Thinking ahead? Naw… I had Spring fever! I wouldn’t think much about gardening until the seed catalogs started arriving… and then I would mostly browse and dream.
My nice garden beds were a good supplement to our diet but they weren’t a huge part of it. I was playing around with pretty beans and purple peppers, a few garlic plants, an heirloom corn I wanted to try… but it was haphazard and not planned for a long-term food security situation.
About a decade ago I realized how shaky the world was getting and knew things had to change. I also realized that just tearing up the ground and tossing fertilizer around wasn’t the way to ensure our piece of land was going to be healthy and strong enough to grow all of what we might need in a crash.
Even if you do work hard to build the soil, growing “all you need” is a tall order and it’s one even I haven’t reached yet… though every year I get closer. In 2015 I hit 1,000lbs of produce from our gardens (counting the random produce my children ate before it hit the scale) for the first time and the curve keeps going up.
The reason? I now work on preparing year-round by clearing and digging new patches of land, producing compost, planting fruit and nut trees and testing crops to find varieties that will go through the cold, the heat, the pests and the many diseases that want to rob us of our gardening sweat and toil. Much of this knowledge and experimentation culminated in my Survival Gardening Secrets course.
This fall, Chet and I want you to get ahead of the curve and get growing on a larger scale that takes less money out of your pocket and puts more produce on your table.
Here’s how you can build a fall garden – and an upcoming spring garden that will keep you fed through the year.
Let’s start with chickens.
Chickens Are Gardening Machines
When you pull out the gnarled remains of your summer tomatoes and squash, why not let chickens do the hard work of preparing your fall garden plots?
Get a good chicken tractor or fenced area in place around that plot and let those claw-footed tilling and manuring machines go!
My friend Larry built this simple chicken tractor for about $150:
He raises a good portion of his large family’s meat in there while improving his lawn. If you did the same thing with a garden plot, you’ll reap the benefits of all that turning and manuring. Chickens will compost in place while ridding your garden plot of stinkbugs and cutworms. I’ve pulled out a mess of spent vegetable plants from a garden bed and have been amazing to see just how many destroying insects are crawling around in the suddenly uncovered shade area beneath the brown stalks. Chickens turn those pests into eggs!
While this is a GREAT approach if you have a flat lawn, this sucker gets real heavy to pull through loose garden soil, up hills, in and around tightly planted Orchards or over raised Garden beds, which is why Chet Created these plans for a more light weight Chicken Tractor:
The Ultimate Portable Chicken Tractor
Paul Gautschi of Back To Eden fame has a different approach. He uses his chickens to make good soil in their pen, which he then sifts and takes to his garden beds. If you have a big problem with predators snagging your Kentucky Fried goodness, this is another approach worth considering:
Kill the Weeds While the Sun Shines
I used to avoid using plastic in my gardens. Then I discovered its power for weed killing and I haven’t looked back.
If you have an area you’d like to garden but you haven’t gotten around to tilling it yet, summer and fall are the time to use the remaining heat of the sun to get it ready for later.
Get yourself some thick sheets of clear plastic and put them over the area. Pin down the edges with rocks or logs and let the sun create a weed-destroying greenhouse effect that will kill what you don’t want without removing the good biomass of all those weeds. They’ll bake and put humus into the soil beneath that plastic, then you can get out there and loosen the soil with a broadfork (this one from Meadow Creature is my favorite) or spading fork, then get planting when you’re ready.
When you till you turn up a lot of seeds that are waiting in the ground. When you kill with tarps this is less of a problem. I used to prefer black plastic until I saw some tests that were done side-by-side. Now I’m in the clear plastic camp.
An Alternate Approach
If you want to kill the weeds and really improve the soil long-term (and if you don’t have a big problem with pests like snails and slugs in your area), sheet-mulching is a good approach. The downside of sheet mulching is how much material it takes to cover a large area. If you have a friend with a tree-trimming company, great. If not, it’s not easy to get everything you need.
I successfully knocked out a persistent patch of Bermuda grass by putting down a double layer of cardboard and then stacking a foot of tree company mulch on top of it for a year. Back when I tilled that same area I had a very hard time keeping the grass from invading my beds and sapping the life from my tender domesticated vegetables.
One of my favorite ways to improve the tilth of the soil and reduce the water needs of my crops is to deeply double-dig garden beds. This is hard work but it’s good work. If you double-dig a garden area it adds more oxygen to the soil, improves the drainage and helps your crops delve deeply with their roots so they can get what they need in the soil.
I once did a test where I created a perfect square foot garden bed and a double-dug bed in sand that had only been amended with a half-inch of compost on top. The double-dug bed gave us about the same yields but needed a lot less watering. It also ate up a lot less compost, as a “proper” square foot bed is 1/3 finished compost. That’s too much pile-turning for me!
If you dig a garden bed well and then don’t step on it, it can stay loose and friable for a year or more. Pick areas where you can expand your garden beds while you’re planting your main beds in the fall, then get digging. If you’re not going to plant them right away, cover the area with tarps – or even better – woven plastic professional landscape “fabric” and then they’ll be ready to go when you need them. You can also dig beds and plant them with bags of beans, peas, rye, buckwheat, lentils, fava beans, chick peas, mustard or wheat seed from a local organic grocery store with the bulk bins. That’s a cheap way to cover the ground to keep out weeds while improving the soil at the same time. Sometimes I make a big seed mix from these bins, scatter it on the ground and rake ‘em in. As a bonus, you often get a bit to eat from these beds.
Double-digging is time consuming but when you dig a bed here and there on nice days, you’ll find eventually that you have a lot of long-term space in which to plant.
Get Composting Now
Composting used to be a chore for me. Now that I’ve realized Nature doesn’t care all that much about turning and aerating and that jazz, I’m having a lot more fun. After over a decade of extreme composting experiments, I even wrote a popular book on it. I’ve composted meat, sewage, pasta, paper and all kinds of other naughty things and my gardens just keep getting better and better. There are two main ways I compost without much work.
The first way is to choose a garden bed that I think could use some help and then start piling up compostable materials there, like this:
The other way is even cooler. It’s borrowed from the Koreans and isn’t anything like most compost most Westerners have seen.
All you do is find materials you want to compost and throw them in a barrel of water to rot down and ferment. I pick highly nutritional items such as urine, manure, moringa, seawater and comfrey to start with, then add whatever else I have around. Like this:
That looks insane but it works.
Let that rot for a few months and then thin it out as a liquid fertilizer for your gardens. It’s the bomb and it grows some danged good corn. Corn is needy, so if that crop likes it… imagine how the others will do!
On the downside, it smells horrible. Get a clothespin for your nose and don’t worry about it. And don’t pour it right on anything you’re about to eat. That’s nasty. It’s best for the establishment phase of a garden up until a few weeks before harvest. It’s also powerful growing magic for fruit trees.
One thing you absolutely DON’T want to do is buy compost or manure for your gardens.
Why? Because a lot – and I mean a LOT – of compost, manure and straw now contains persistent long-term herbicides that will utterly wreck your beds for a year or more. Don’t believe me?
I’ve read a lot of stories like this now and it happened to some of my own beds almost 5 years ago. Don’t let it happen to you.
BONUS IDEA: Plant Fruit Trees!
Fruit trees are really cheap compared to their potential yields.
What is an organic pear worth? Maybe $2? Imagine getting 400 of those from a tree you paid $25 for! That beats the heck out of most investments. Yet many of us don’t want to wait the 5-10 years it takes for impressive yields on fruit trees.
I used to feel that way… and then I got older. I plant on being here in a decade. Don’t you? Then get planting.
Plant more fruit and nut trees than you ever think you’ll need. Every fall, plant more. Go, drop $500 on fruit trees. Seriously. Get them in the ground, mulch around them, water them for the first year or two… and then, each spring as you plant your new garden beds, watch them wake up and grow. Eventually they’ll bear a few beautiful fruit. And then more and more and more. You can dry and preserve them. You can turn them into wine or hard liquor with a still. You can barter with them. You can fatten pigs on the fruit that falls. You can make incredible pies and cobblers, serve your children sun-ripened apples and peaches.
Look – just do it. Don’t wait to plant. Plant now and in the future you’ll look back and thank the “you” that is reading this right now.
We haven’t even covered all the potential vegetables you can plant in a fall garden yet… but what I’ve shared in this post will hopefully get you thinking long-term about your survival gardening plans. Get those chickens working. Get those weeds torched. Dig some new beds. Start some batches of compost. When you have the proper groundwork in place, your cabbages and turnips will almost grow themselves.
And so will the purple peppers (shh!).
Want More Survival Gardening Ideas?
Grab a copy of my Survival Gardening Secrets course that teaches you how to grow enough food to feed your family, even after the gardening centers close and you can no longer buy seeds, fertilizers, or pesticides to keep your garden alive.
The post Your Getting Started Guide To Fall Gardening Like Your Life Depended On It: Part I appeared first on .
The thought of food storage can be very overwhelming, especially if you are new to being self sufficient. You have just realized the need for food-storage and the dangers of what is happening in the world. So now what are you going to do about it? You may find some very good answers in the video below.
The best answer that I have is research and lots of it. You Tuber ObessivePrepperAz shares her thoughts on an easy and affordable way to start off making sure you have two weeks’ worth of food. She walks you through how to calculate food storage for your family and points out some very helpful hints.
However, ObsessivePrepperAZ is just touching on the bare minimum you will need in her video, but by adding things like rice or noodles to some of your storage you can turn one can of soup into a pot of stew. Her tips and secrets are very helpful for a beginner prepper.
She focuses on how many cans of Campbell Chunky Soup you would need for one meal a day. One of her viewers suggested a very effective way to stretch those cans to feed four people 2 or 3 meals per day. That is a LOT more than one can of soup for one person.
“Tip: Double that food storage with one bag of rice, one bag of dried potatoes, and two packs of cubed bullion. Take two cans of that chunky soup, add I cup rice OR potatoes, and a bullion, add at least 3 cups water; make it into a large pot of stew. Feeds four, 2-3 meals per day. Stew is salvation.”
We hope you enjoy her suggestions and please feel free to comment some of your tips and advice to help the newbies!! We all have to help each other become reliant on ourselves.
The Reality of 2 Weeks of Food Storage
I was listening to a podcast the other day, the host was talking about the best survival foods you should be stocking up on. He was suggesting the typical rice and beans diet, with a few dollar store spices thrown in for flavor. I was a little taken aback when he commented, “It’s not so much about nutrition, it’s about survival!”
I instantly felt regret for the new preppers who were likely listening to his show. It’s not so much about nutrition? Doesn’t he realize that when your body is lacking key nutrients it begins to suffer physically? Doesn’t he realize that it’s the sickly who die first?
Here at the Prepper Project, we’ve talked plenty about the importance of nutrition when the SHTF, but how exactly does that translate into storing the best survival food? What kinds of foods should we be storing in order to maximize nutrition?
As we all know, eating a balanced meal will yield the best results. There isn’t one food item alone that has all of the essential minerals, vitamins, protein, and nutrients that you’d need to survive. You must eat a variety.
Storing the proper variety of foods is key to your survival. A year’s worth of mac and cheese and beenie weenies might keep you alive, but you’ll feel like crap. Poor health is all it takes for disease to quickly set in and take over.
A good variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, meats, and grains is absolutely essential for a well stocked pantry. There’s no doubt fresh foods are far superior to cooked or dried foods. Grow as many of these survival foods as you possibly can where you are now. But beyond the garden there are a handful of nutrient dense, shelf-stable foods to focus on attaining and storing long term. These will help you get by when the garden can’t be counted on.
Here are 11 of the best, most nutritious survival foods you should be storing for emergencies:
1) Soups and Stews
Whether you opt for home-canned soups and stews or the store-bought variety, these hearty meals combining meats and vegetables (or vegetables and legumes) are a great way to pack a ton of nutrients into one jar.
My favorite home canned meals are venison or beef stew, chicken and rice soup, chili con carne, and vegetable beef soup. You can whip up a huge pot of your favorite soup and pressure can it to be used for years down the road. Pretty much any soup you buy at the grocery store, with the exception of really thick products such as the cream-of soups, can be canned at home. Venison becomes particularly tender and flavorful when canned in a soup with potatoes, carrots, and tomato juice.
Never can low acid foods, such as meats and vegetables, in anything other than a pressure canner. I’ve seen people on YouTube demonstrating “oven canning”, where you heat jars of food in an oven, and then allow them to cool until the lid seals. Folks, just because a lid seals it does not mean the food in the jar is safe to eat. It must be heated adequately in order to kill botulism spores. Please be safe and don’t cut corners. If you want to can soups, stews, meat, beans, or vegetables, you absolutely must use a pressure canner.
Please read the article 23 Things You Must Know To Can Meat Safely before you can soups and stews for the first time.
2) Bone Broth
Homemade bone broth is an excellent source of minerals. Bones from land animals are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, and fish bones also contain iodine. (Source)
Bone broth is also a rich source of gelatin. “Although gelatin is by no means a complete protein… it acts as a protein sparer, allowing the body to more fully utilize the complete proteins that are taken in. Thus, gelatin-rich broths are a must for those who cannot afford large amounts of meat in their diets.” ~ Nourishing Traditions
You can start making your own rich bone broth now by using kitchen scraps you’re probably throwing away. Save the carcass of roasted chicken, carrot peels and ends, onion skins and tips, garlic scraps, and celery trimmings. Fill a freezer bag with your scraps until you have enough to make a large pot of broth to can. It can even be frozen in ziploc bags once cooled, though it won’t last nearly as long as canning it. Home canned broth will last for many years when stored in a somewhat cool place, out of direct sunlight and away from moisture. I try to use it up within 1-5 years for best nutritional value. Store bought bone broths are also available in shelf stable forms.
3) Sweet Potatoes
These tasty tubers are a great source of vitamin A and beta-carotene, vitamin C, complex carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, manganese, and potassium. If you have to choose between white potatoes and sweet potatoes, the latter is the winner in nutritional content.
Sweet potatoes are easy to grow at home from “slips”. Potato slips are those sprouts that start to grow from the eyes of sweet potatoes when they’ve been stored for too long. When the sprouts are a couple inches long, break them off as close to the base as possible and sit them in a cup of shallow water for a week or so. Roots will begin growing from the slip. Once a good root system has been established and the sprout starts forming leaves, the slip can then be transplanted directly into the garden. Sweet potato plants grow as long vines, so be sure to either trellis them or give them lots of room to roam! They love deeply cultivated, loose, rich soil.
To store them long term you can easily can peeled sweet potatoes at home in a pressure canner. They’ll last for several years in a jar, but will need to be rotated out for best quality. If growing and canning your own isn’t an option, commercially canned sweet potatoes are available at the grocery store. You can also find them in freeze dried form with a typical shelf life of 20-30 years.
Fresh kale is an amazing superfood. It’s full of vitamins C, A, and K, as well as other micro-nutrients and antioxidants. If there is any way possible that you can grow it, I would highly encourage you to do so. It’s easy to cultivate, has few pests, and tolerates cold temperatures very well making it an excellent crop to try growing year round.
Although some nutrients are lost during processing, preserved kale is an excellent alternative to fresh. Kale can be canned at home in a pressure canner, or purchased as canned kale greens at the store. It can also be found in dehydrated and powdered forms, as well as freeze dried for longer storage.
Another important dark, leafy green to have plenty of is spinach. Spinach is low in fat and and cholesterol, and high in niacin, zinc, protein, fiber, vitamins A, C, E and K, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and manganese. Heck, it’s practically a multi-vitamin!
Spinach can be grown and canned at home, or purchased canned at the grocery store. Spinach will last for several years in a can or jar, but should be rotated out regularly for best nutritional value. You can also purchase it in freeze dried form for longer storage, up to 25 years.
I have a hard time stomaching canned spinach, so I’ve been stocking up on freeze dried greens. I plan on using them to make green smoothies, which combine fruits and juices in a way that masks the taste of fresh or dried spinach and kale. Green smoothies are a great way to get a lot of nutrient rich foods down at once.
6) Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon
You must be careful when choosing canned fish from the grocery store. Mercury and other toxins have been found in some wild caught fish, and farm-raised fish are lacking many of the nutrients that wild fish contain (not to mention have also tested positive for environmental contaminants). From what I’ve researched, the healthiest choice for canned fish is wild caught “sockeye salmon” (also referred to as red salmon) from Alaska.
Salmon is an excellent source of Omega 3 fats which are essential for proper body function and are necessary for good brain and heart health. It’s also low in sodium, and is a good source of thiamin, riboflavin, phosphorus, protein, niacin, vitamin B12 and selenium.
Want to make SURE You’re Stockpiling Enough Food?
Discover how to calculate your “Survival Calorie Number” so you know exactly how much of this food to stockpile for a years supply.
If you aren’t familiar with quinoa yet (pronounced KEEN-wah), it’s an excellent alternative to plain rice in your long term food storage. When rinsed and cooked, it has a very bland flavor that makes it blend well into a variety of dishes. Some people prefer it in savory meals in place of rice, while others like to sweeten it and enjoy it more like a hot breakfast cereal. It’s also great for thickening up soups and stews.
Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. (Source)
I like to purchase quinoa in 5 gallon buckets for long term storage. It’ll last indefinitely when packaged in a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers, sealed in a plastic bucket and stored somewhere out of extreme temperatures.
According to the CDC, Strawberries are the healthiest, most nutrient dense choice of berries (which surprised me, I would have guessed blueberries were number one). They contain more vitamin C than other fruits, and are especially high in antioxidants and flavonoids.
Strawberries should be in every home garden. Mix them into a flower bed if you don’t have a dedicated garden space. Strawberries are perennials, so they’ll come back year after year. They’re easy to grow, and once established will provide you with food for many years. You’ll have to do a little research to find which varieties grow best in your region. If possible, opt for an “everbearing” variety for a longer harvesting season.
Strawberries can be canned in a water bath canner, dehydrated, or freeze dried. For longest storage, stock up on freeze dried strawberries, which can last for 25 years!
We wouldn’t think of garlic as a stand alone food. But when added to other dishes not only does it embolden the flavor, it also adds incredible antioxidants and disease fighting properties to what you eat. Garlic has been known for centuries to be a strong antibiotic. Including it in your daily rations will help your body rid itself of dangerous free radicals, and will fight disease causing bugs you might have been exposed to.
Garlic is easy to grow in your own backyard, especially in a raised bed. Did you know you can grow garlic from store-bought bulbs? There are plenty of varieties to choose from through seed companies as well. To plant garlic, pull a bulb apart and place each individual clove with the flat end down into loose soil, pushing it just below the surface. Plant cloves a couple inches apart for bigger bulbs. Water regularly until the cloves begin to sprout. Garlic likes cool weather best, so wait until Fall to plant.
For strongest medicinal value and best flavor, garlic should be used fresh. Once harvested from the garden, it can be stored for several months if cured and kept dry. You can also store dehydrated garlic, or jars of garlic cloves in oil, though they won’t have quite the benefits of fresh.
Oats are a good source of calories, protein, carbs, fat, and fiber. The great thing about stocking up on oats is that they’ll last 25+ years when stored properly. You can buy them from a food storage company in bulk, or better yet, shop at wholesale clubs such as Sams or Costco and package them in large quantities yourself. Choose from steel cut oats, rolled oats, quick oats, or old fashioned oats… they’re all nutritious and worth having in an emergency.
Fill a 5 gallon mylar bag with oats, drop in a 2000 cc oxygen absorber, seal the bag with a straight iron, and store it in a sealed 5-6 gallon food grade bucket. You can spend a few extra dollars and save yourself a lot of hassle by using gamma seal lids on your food storage buckets. Store the buckets somewhere where they won’t be exposed to extreme heat or cold. Under your bed, in a closet, or in a dry basement would be perfect.
Keep in mind that oats go rancid after a few months once they’ve been opened. If you don’t think you can go through 5 gallons of oats within a few months, you’d be better off packing them in smaller quantities or purchasing them in #10 cans.
Dried beans are full of protein, fiber and calories, and are known among the prepper world to be an excellent (and much cheaper!) alternative to storing a ton of meat. High fiber foods help you feel fuller longer, as well as assisting the digestive tract. Beans also contain iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, copper, zinc, folate, thiamin and potassium, all essential nutrients to keep your body running properly.
Store a variety of beans to keep your meals interesting. For best results, store dried beans in a mylar bag with oxygen absorbers, sealed and stored in a food grade bucket in a dry location with an average temperature no higher than 70 degrees F. Plan on rotating your beans out every 8-10 years to keep them fresh. Over time beans will begin to lose their natural oils, and will get hard and won’t cook up soft no matter how long you soak them.
Every year or so I like to go through our buckets of beans and can a bunch of them. I have found this to be a good way to rotate through our storage, as canning the beans keeps them usable and soft for a few more years. Having the beans already canned and ready to heat and eat is also very convenient for meals.
Worst case, if your beans have been stored for a really long time and become too hard to cook with, you can always grind them into bean powder and use them to thicken up soups.
Of course, these aren’t the only healthy foods you can stash in your pantry. What nutritious survival foods would you add to this list?
The post The 11 Best Survival Foods To Store For NUTRITION appeared first on .
Some garden plants require intense diligence and extensive resources to coax out a single flower or handful of berries. Other species, however, are determined producers, bearing bushel after bushel of fresh, sun-ripened, bounty.
Want to get the most “bang” for your gardening efforts? In this post, we’ll look at some of nature’s top producers and why these “bunny rabbits” of the vegetable world ought to be included in your home garden.
Nothing screams summer quite like a tomato plant covered in bright red fruit. It’s no wonder these plants require caging or other support — a 10-foot row of tomato plants on average yields 15 pounds of sun-ripened bliss over the course of a season. And even more amazing, by taking special care to pick varieties appropriate to your growing conditions, properly amending the soil, and providing adequate support, it’s possible for a single plant to produce that much (or more!) on its own. Even taking into consideration the inherent challenges of growing tomatoes, it’s well worth the effort to include these high-producing summer staples in your garden plot.
2. Summer squash
There’s a reason August 8 is National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day. Even if you’ve only planted a few of these prolific plants, you’re likely to be swimming in squash by the end of the season!
Set aside a 10×10 plot specifically for zucchini and you will literally find yourself surrounded by more than a hundred pounds of deliciousness. To keep plants producing, pick zucchini while they’re relatively small — the size of a large cucumber or so. Not only does smaller summer squash taste better than their ginormous counterparts, but the frequent picking will stimulate additional growth.
3. Winter squash
Not to be outdone by their warm-weather counterparts, winter squash are another family of plants sure to bulk up your garden yields. Like summer squash, a dedicated plot of winter squash can easily produce a hundred pounds of fruit over a season. And with so many varieties to choose from, you’ll definitely want to set aside a space for them! Whether it’s pumpkins for home-grown Jack-o-lanterns and pie, vitamin rich butternut squash, or fun-to-eat spaghetti squash, there’s sure to be a variety for every taste. And, unlike many vegetables which must be carefully preserved in order to enjoy long term, an abundance of winter squash isn’t likely to be a problem — most winter squash will keep well into the winter months if stored in a cool, dry location.
Not only are cucumbers easy to plant from seed directly in the garden, but if you can keep the cucumber beetles at bay, you’ll soon find yourself surrounded by piles of pickle-worthy produce. You can expect roughly 12 pounds per 10-foot row or 120 pounds per 100 square-foot plot. Want to extend your harvest? Consider staggering seed-starting dates, adding a few plants each week for a rolling harvest that lets you enjoy fresh cukes throughout the season.
Beans are another crop that can easily go gangbusters in a home garden. Not only are individual plants high producers, generally averaging up to 15 pounds per 10-foot row, but because they grow so quickly from seed to harvest it’s possible to rotate through multiple bean plantings in a single season. And while bush beans are notable producers, anyone who knows, well, beans about gardening will tell you that pole beans are where things get particularly impressive. Pole beans are happy to crawl up supports, producing over and over for weeks or even months before petering out.
Finally, any list of high-yield hotshots wouldn’t be complete without a shout-out to rhubarb. A rare perennial vegetable, rhubarb returns season after season, expanding as it grows. Considered low-maintenance and long-lasting, once a rhubarb plant is established it’s one of the easiest ways to guarantee a hefty harvest from the garden.
Few dilemmas in life are as delightful as discovering your garden has grown even more food than you can consume immediately. High-producing vegetable plants are the perfect plan for a harvest that can be shared with friends or preserved to enjoy throughout the year, making them not only a great way to maximize the return on your garden, but also the satisfaction that comes with those efforts.
Which high-yield vegetables would you add to this list? Share your advice in the section below:
If there’s one thing we all learned from the crash of 2008, it’s that any one of us could be dragged down into poverty. No one is really immune to that anymore. In the Western world, economic prosperity has been crumbling for years, and stability is rapidly disappearing for a variety reasons. Truth be told, you’ve probably read about countless disasters and survival situations on this website, but the one situation that is most likely to affect you, is a financial calamity in your family.
And if that happens, one of your most pressing concerns will be food. Every resource you consume will have to be restricted, and every day you’ll be forced to triage your finances. You’ll have to choose between paying for your rent/mortgage, utilities, debts, medical bills, and of course groceries. And even if you accept assistance in the form of food stamps, you’ll likely struggle to afford nutritious food.
That’s why I’ve compiled this list of low-cost groceries. Keep in mind however, that this isn’t a list of the cheapest foods. Things like taste or long-term health implications aren’t a priority either. These are foods that simply provide the most nutrients for the least amount of money, and you should keep them in mind if you ever find yourself in the poorhouse.
In terms of the number of calories you get for every dollar, you can’t beat butter. The only thing that would surpass it is refined sugar, but obviously you don’t want to make that a significant part of your diet. Butter is cheap, and brimming with saturated fats that will keep you sated for hours.
Whole Grain Wheat Flour
Grains have fallen out of favor among health conscious eaters in recent years, and for many very good reasons. But again, long-term health isn’t the priority of this list. Despite its faults, whole grain flour is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and is incredibly cheap. So cheap in fact, that even the organic brands often only cost a few cents per ounce.
The main drawback to wheat, and most grains for that matter, is that they contain phytic acid. This substance is known to prevent the absorption of many different nutrients. However, if you’re planning on using the flour to make bread, pancakes, or even hard tack, you can soak the flour dough in lemon juice overnight, which will eliminate most of the phytic acid.
Lately eggs have been pretty expensive due to a rampant avian flu epidemic that wiped out millions of chickens last summer. At one point, prices rose so high that ounce for ounce, the protein in chicken meat was cheaper than egg protein. Most of the time however, eggs provide one of the cheapest sources of protein and fat. However, not always as cheap as…
While milk can provide plenty of protein, fat, and sugar at a low price, unlike eggs it has far more vitamins and minerals. Milk contains an abundance of vitamin D, Riboflavin, and Vitamin B12, and for minerals, it provides plenty of calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and selenium. It also contains a very good ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fats, which eggs do not.
White beans, Lima beans, Kidney beans etc. They all have a few things in common. They’re usually light in vitamins, rich in minerals, and contain a moderate amount of protein. They aren’t always cheap, but their high shelf life allows you to cut down costs by buying them in bulk.
I don’t normally recommend any processed canned foods, but canned salmon is one of those rare foods that are healthier than the fresh version. Aside from being expensive, fresh salmon is usually farmed, which means they are typically contaminated with PCBs, and fed chemicals that turn their flesh pink (which happens naturally in the wild). Canned salmon is almost always caught in the wild, and is usually very affordable. It provides an abundance of omega-3, vitamins, and minerals, and unlike other canned sea food like tuna, the amount of mercury in salmon is negligible.
While the cost of groceries has gone up significantly in recent years, bananas are still remarkably cheap. They also contain a well-rounded dose of nutrients like vitamins C and B6, as well as minerals like magnesium and potassium. Contrary to popular belief, bananas don’t contain the most potassium (see beans above) but they are one of the cheapest ways to consume that mineral. Though most westerners aren’t aware of this, you can actually eat the banana peel as well if it’s properly prepared, which will double your potassium intake.
There’s no doubt that the taste and texture of liver renders it unpalatable to most people. Unless you grew up eating it, there’s a good chance that you will absolutely hate beef liver. However, the widespread unpopularity of liver means that it’s usually pretty affordable. The nutrient profile of this organ is also amazing. It might give you the best bang for your buck, compared to everything else on this list.
In fact, some of the nutrients in beef liver are so high, that eating a single serving every day might actually be bad for you. That serving would include 431% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A, 137% of riboflavin, 800% of B12, and 486% of copper. Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep very long in the fridge, so you may want to skip liver if you live alone. But if you live with a family, you can easily divvy up a single slice between everyone.
Have any great ideas for highly nutritious foods that won’t break the bank? Let us know in the comments below.
Joshua Krause was born and raised in the Bay Area. He is a writer and researcher focused on principles of self-sufficiency and liberty at Ready Nutrition. You can follow Joshua’s work at our Facebook page or on his personal Twitter.
Joshua’s website is Strange Danger
This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition
Stockpiling food can be expensive. But there is some good news for those of us on a tight budget – you don’t have to spend a fortune to be prepared.
You may not have all the food you want, but you’ll have food to keep your family alive. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?
The most expensive part of any food stockpile is meat. While I’m a carnivore, I do recognize that I can survive without it. I also recognize that of all the types of food in our diet, meat might be the easiest to come up with in the wake of a disaster. You can hunt for meat, but last I checked, you can’t hunt for a loaf of bread.
With that in mind, here are my top foods for stockpiling, based on the nutritional bang you get for your buck:
1. Dry beans
On a worldwide basis, beans are one of the most common sources of protein. If you spend any time in Mexico, you’ll find that you get beans with pretty much every meal. That’s because beans pack a lot of nutrition into a small space, and there are a lot of different types of beans. They also store very well, if you can keep moisture and bugs away.
Maybe beans aren’t your family favorite; that’s OK. A lot can be done to doctor up the flavor of them, especially by using spices. Chili con carne and soup are both excellent places to hide your beans and actually get your family to eat them.
Rice is also a staple in many parts of the world. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Colombia, and rice is also typically served with every meal. Beans and rice are a common dish in many countries and territories, such as Puerto Rico.
As with any food, the more processed rice is, the more nutrition is lost. Brown rice can be mixed with just about anything and fried, making your own version of fried rice. But many survivalists prefer white rice because it stores longer.
3. Whole grains
We normally think of wheat when we think of grains, mostly because that’s what we usually use to make bread here in the U.S. But just about any type of grain can be used. When you buy some specialty breads, such as rye bread, you’re buying a bread that is made of a mixture of rye flour and wheat flour. When you buy “seven-grain bread,” it’s literally a mixture of seven different types of grains.
Having a stock of grains, especially a mixed stock, will allow you to experiment and break up the monotony of your diet. You’ll also have more nutritious bread, as wheat flour isn’t the most nutritious grain you can use.
You’re better off buying whole grain, rather than flour, as it will keep longer. Keep in mind, however, that if you buy whole grain you will need a mill to prepare it.
4. Cooking oil
In order to use those grains, you’re going to need to have cooking oil. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive unless you buy pure olive oil or something similar. Oil keeps well for prolonged periods of time as long as it is sealed. There is little risk of insects or bacterial forming in it.
5. Peanut butter
As an inexpensive source of protein, it’s hard to beat peanut butter. Besides, what American child hasn’t grown up eating peanut butter sandwiches? That makes it a good comfort food as well. Peanut butter keeps well, is inexpensive and provides a lot of nutrition – so stock up.
Pasta, like rice, is a good source of carbohydrates. The nice thing about it is that there are so many different things you can do with it. Besides throwing some sauce on it and having spaghetti, pasta forms a good base ingredient for many types of soups and casseroles. You can mix pretty much anything with it and turn it into a tasty dish.
Bouillon is your basic dehydrated or freeze-dried soup stock. If you buy it in the grocery store, it’s rather expensive. But if you buy it packaged for use in restaurants, it’s very cheap. With bouillon and pasta to start, you can turn most any food into a flavorful pot of soup.
Salt is necessary for your health. While doctors talk about not eating too much salt (to avoid high blood pressure and other health issues), a lack of salt prevents your body from retaining enough water.
More than that, salt is the main preservative used for meat. If you happen to kill a deer or even a cow, you’re going to need to preserve a lot of the meat. Whether you decide to smoke it or dehydrate it, you’re going to need salt … and lots of it.
Don’t buy your salt in the one-pound containers you see in the grocery store. Instead, buy it in 25-pound bags. You’ll get it for about one-eighth the cost per pound. Considering that you want to have a couple of hundred pounds of it on hand, that’s a nice savings.
Sugar is more than a sweet treat. For example, it works as a preservative for fruits and helps bread dough rise so you can bake a nice, fluffy loaf.
Like salt, sugar will keep forever. The only problem is keeping moisture and ants out of it. Store it in a five-gallon, food-grade bucket and you should be able to keep it without any problem.
10. Powdered milk
Milk is one of nature’s most complete foods. It’s also needed for most baking. Unfortunately, in liquid form it doesn’t keep well and that’s why stockpiling powdered milk is wise. While powdered milk might not taste as good as regular milk, you’ll get used it and be glad to have it. Plus, powdered milk is very inexpensive.
Admittedly, seeds really aren’t food. But they grow into food, and that makes them the best single food item you can stockpile. Eventually – no matter how many bags of beans, rice and other foods you stockpile – you are going to run out and will need to grow your own food. Stocking up on seeds is a great way to ensure your long-term survival.
What low-cost foods would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:
When pulling together the nuts and bolts of your family’s preparedness plan, one of the biggest bolts to make sure you turn is long term food storage and it can be a daunting one. The first thing you have to do is figure out how you define “long term” and then appropriately slot that into your overall food storage plan. Once you have figured that part out, it really does not have to be difficult to square away your long term food storage. To prove it, I wanted to share a quick project that I knocked out in just a couple hours.
We continually add to our long term food storage and we do our best to cover a wide spectrum in the type of foods we choose to stock, but for this project I addressed a couple of the staples….beans and rice. During a recent trip to our local big box warehouse store I picked up some food supplies, I grabbed a stack of food grade buckets at a local bakery for $1 each and ordered the oxygen absorbers and Mylar bags from Amazon.com. What follows is the quick and easy way I package them for long term storage. Hopefully you will see that it is a really straight forward process and that you can do it too.
The project list:
- 2 ft aluminum level
- standard household iron
- Sharpie (red)
- 2 cup measuring glass
- 1 gallon Mylar bags (bulk)
- oxygen absorbers (bulk)
- food grade plastic buckets with lids
- 25 lbs dry pinto beans
- 50 lbs long grain white rice
To begin, I used the 2 cup measuring glass to measure out ten cups of dried pinto beans or 10 cups of long grain white rice into each 1 gallon Mylar bag and dropped in the oxygen absorbers.
Next, I pulled the top of the Mylar bag together at the top and pressed out as much trapped air as possible, then I folded it over the one inch wide flat edge of my aluminum level and used the hot iron (set to the highest setting) to seal the Mylar bag closed by pressing the one inch strip of the Mylar bag between the iron and the aluminum level across the entire width of the bag sealing it permanently. After a few hours, the oxygen absorbers pull all of the excess air out of the sealed Mylar bag essentially vacuum sealing the food safely inside. Once all of the bags are sealed and labeled, I placed the bags inside my food grade buckets with locking lids and then placed an external label on each of the buckets making them ready to go into storage.
As I hope you can see, this process is not as daunting as it may appear at first and that you can do an awful lot to bolster long term storage food supplies and deepen your larder quickly and inexpensively. Remember, at every level of your family’s food storage, you want to store what you eat and eat what you store. Stick to what you know your family enjoys and stack it as high and deep as you deem necessary to meet the requirements of your family’s preparedness plan. If you have questions or comments, please leave them below and I’ll get back with you as soon as possible.
It can be hard to decide on crops for sustenance farming, but growing beans is an easy decision. Beans have a long tradition in North America for a reason: They’re easy to grow, can yield large amounts of food, and are packed with nutrition. And if you know how many seeds to plant, you can easily grow enough to just about feed your family for a full year.
As a source of protein, beans are much less labor-intensive to produce than meat, dairy or eggs, and can be a valuable supplement in your diet. They store well, and each successive year of growing and harvesting beans will lead to better yields within your climate.
If you directly compare the nutritional content of black beans and chicken, the result is surprising:
|Black Beans, 100 g||Chicken, 100 g|
|Fat||1.4 g||14 g|
|Protein||22 g||27 g|
|Dietary Fiber||16 g||0 g|
|Calcium||123 mg||15 mg|
|Potassium||1483 mg||223 mg|
|Iron||5 mg||1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.3 mg||0.4 mg|
|Magnesium||171 mg||23 mg|
Comparing other beans and meats yields similar results. The two foods provide an almost equivalent amount of protein, but the beans are more nutrient-rich, by far. It should be noted that the protein in beans is an incomplete protein, and a vegetarian diet would require additional plant proteins such as whole grains or nuts eaten through the day to provide all the amino acids needed for the body.
This is partly why the Native Americans grew beans alongside corn and squash; the “three sisters” together provide nearly all the nutrients the body needs. When you’re using beans to supplement an omnivorous diet, you needn’t worry about that because the meat, dairy and eggs will provide all the complete protein you need. Beans are the go-to food to fill you up and stretch your meals, so they last longer and feed more people.
Choosing and Growing Beans
Select two to three varieties to grow in your first year, based on flavor preferences and the amount of space in your garden. You will need 10-20 plants per person to provide enough beans for a year. Plant beans in early spring, after the last frost, being careful to rotate them through your garden yearly to keep them producing well.
Generally, there are two types of beans commonly grown: shell varieties, which can be eaten fresh or dried, and snap beans, grown mainly for their pods. These categories are subdivided by the growth patterns of the beans: bush or pole. While bush beans can be planted unsupported, pole beans grow on vines which need to be staked to grow effectively; pole beans take up less horizontal space in the garden but require more maintenance during growth to ensure they climb properly. Dry beans are more traditionally used in North America, but snap beans have also been cultivated for centuries. Some plants can provide both types of beans.
Common varieties of beans for home gardens that can be eaten fresh and dried are adzuki beans, black-eyed peas, Fava beans, Lima beans and pinto beans.
You can easily experiment with beans to decide which are best suited to your climate and are preferred by your family.
Harvesting, Storing and Cooking Dried Beans
Dry beans are allowed to mature fully on the plant, becoming fully dried before you pick them. After picking, beans must be removed from the pods by threshing; you can beat the individual plants against the inside of a container to release the beans, or use a bean flail to hit the beans on a cloth and break the pods in order to remove the beans. Separating the chaff from the beans by winnowing on a windy day is simple: Simply pour the beans and chaff from one basket to another outdoors several times and let the chaff be carried off by the breeze.
You can store beans for many months or even years, in jars kept in a cool, dry location. If you intend to save some of the beans as seed, let them dry, spread out, four to six weeks before storing them in jars, until the beans are fully hardened and cannot be broken by biting them. Dry beans require soaking before cooking. Allow the beans to soak in cool water overnight before using in soups, as side dishes, or mixed with grains for a meal. Growing dry beans for storage is like saving up for the future; no matter what happens in your garden and with your livestock in the coming year, you will have a source of nutrition at hand, ready to feed your family.
What are your bean-growing tips? How many do you plant to feed your family? Share your advice in the section below:
How many of us have sisters we can truly count on? One or more who will be by our side rain or shine? You may be wondering how sisters and gardening go together, but it seems they always have for Native Americans. The ancient method called Three Sisters gardening is a proven method for healthy bounty and successful vegetable growing. You can grow three vegetables – corn, beans and squash – in an efficient and earth-friendly way. It’s the method the Native Americans taught the Pilgrims, and it’s the method that thousands of people still use each spring.
A Little Bit of History
Three sisters gardening provides a healthy diet and long-term fertility of garden soil. It was a system of gardening that native people perfected before the first European stepped onto the New World. Native people grew a wide selection of plants which often were drought-resistant and adaptable. Gardens were more of a small field or clearing. This would be big enough to grow produce for seeds the next year, as well as for food. Seeds would be gathered and stored, and it has been recorded by the early settlers how the native people would store ground maize to use during the winter.
They looked for signs in nature as to when to begin planting. For example, when the Canadian geese returned or the Dogwood tree’s leaves were the size of a squirrel’s ear, the soil was warm enough to plant seeds. They grew variations of today’s Three Sister gardens. Maize was the common corn.
At the beginning of the planting season, there would be ceremonies. A festival would be held for the harvesting of the first green corn on the cob. Men and women had specific roles in the garden.
So, why do corn, squash and beans get planted together in this type of garden?
Traditionally, the native people viewed the Three Sisters — corn, squash, and beans — as a gift from the gods. These three vegetables were important both physically and spiritually to every tribe. There were several different tribes, with their own variations of the story behind the three sisters, leading to different methods of gardening. In every one, however, each plant had a significant role. Scientifically, these three plants nutritionally complement each other. Corn has the carbs, beans have the protein and squash has vitamins and oils. Corn provides a pole for the beans to climb and in turn, bean vines stabilize the corn stalks and also provide nitrogen in the soil for the corn. Squash plants are prickly enough to deter predators. Squash also acts as a ground-covering mulch and prevents weeds from growing. Squash also helps the soil retain moisture. All leftovers can be put back into the soil at the end of the season.
Planting Your Own Three Sisters Garden
Planting a Three Sisters garden is slightly different than the common garden style we know of today. Find an area with a minimum space of 10 X 10 square feet. This ensures good corn pollination. The site needs to be in the sun. Plants will need six to eight hours of sunlight a day. Put compost or manure in the soil — or fish, if you truly want to follow native methods.
You can sow seeds once the night temperatures are about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually happens in middle to late spring to June.
Include pole beans or runner beans, as well as squash or pumpkins (both have vines, rather than bush.)
How to Plant a Three Sisters Garden
There are many ways to plant a Three Sisters garden, but here is one:
- Choose the type of corn, squash/pumpkin and bean to plant.
- Make mounds for your beans and corn. The center of each mound should be five feet from the next mound’s center.
- Mounds should be 18-24 inches across with flat tops. Plant the corn with four seeds in the center of a mound, and when the plants are about four inches tall, plant the squash and beans (at the same time).
- Plant about four beans in a circle around each corn stalk. (Make sure you weed the ground before planting.)
- Plant several squash seeds in a circle around the beans. Once the plants start growing, thin the mounds down to allow the stronger plants to grow.
Success for this garden depends on the spacing of seeds, timing of planting and the variety of crops. Do not plant too many seeds together or the vines will snarl into a mess and the corn will be smothered or crushed. Three Sisters gardening combines food, gardening, culture and history, making this gardening experience one-of-a-kind.
Have you ever planted a Three Sisters garden? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Beans come in different varieties and you can normally find one that will suite every taste. The Different Varieties of Beans Try different beans and find the ones that suite you and your family.
Most beans will store for 30 years if stored correctly. This means keeping them cool and protected from exposure to oxygen by packing them in Mylar bags in plastic buckets, #10 cans or their equivalent. They are sensitive to heat and will become hard if exposed to high heat.
Beans provide good nutrition and if served with rice or wheat will make a complete protein. Many people in third world countries use them as a staple in their everyday diet and stay quite healthy. Beans and Rice a Complete Protein for your storage
If you have been storing beans and they get hard, don’t despair. Tricks to soften them.
If you are going to add acid foods such as molasses, tomatoes, and vinegar, add them near the end of your cooking because they have a tendency to make beans hard. The same thing applies to salt, which should be added at the last minute.
If your beans still won’t get soft, soak them in water with baking soda to soften them. Start out with about 3/8 of a teaspoon and increase if needed. If the baking soda doesn’t work, try pressure cooking or canning the beans. This works most of the time. If nothing else works, try grinding them into flour. This flour can be used to make refried beans, soup or even to mix in bread recipes.
- Old Beans from 1970 Made Soft and Edible,
- More on Saving Old Beans that Have Turned Hard,
- Making Bean Flour and Cooking with Old Beans
An additional use for beans is to cook them and use them in baking to replace fat. Beans can Replace Fat and Oils in Your Baking. I claim these are low fat, high protein cakes and you can eat more. But all kidding aside you can’t tell the difference between them and ones made with oils or fats.
Here are a few recipes to help you get started with cooking beans.
- How to cook Beans the Old Fashioned Way
- Refried Beans a Good Hard Time Recipe
- A Good Recipe for Beans and Chili
Like anything there is a bit of a learning curve, start using beans before you have to and get some good eating.
The post Storing Beans, Everything You Wanted to Know About Them appeared first on Preparedness Advice Blog.
Want to know when I am most often thankful to have food storage? It’s on those nights when I have trouble figuring out what to have for dinner!
Being a Survival Mom doesn’t mean just being prepared for the big emergencies, but for the every day ones – like having four hungry children to feed.
More often than not, I have a main dish planned, but I need a side dish or two to go with it. For my kids anyway, they’ll need more nourishment than just an entree! When I’ve been desperate in the past for side dish ideas, I’ve looked over what we had on hand, hoping for some inspiration!
One recent night, I knew we were going to have shredded barbecue beef sandwiches. We’ve been having them two to three times a month as I’m trying to work our way through a half cow we bought. I needed a new side or two to keep my family’s taste buds happy. Baked beans and corn came to mind, so I searched for some new recipes on Del Monte’s Web site. (I didn’t have a can of baked beans in the house, so I’d have to make them from “scratch.”) Below is what I tried, along with a few variations that can be made with them. (There was one recipe I didn’t try yet, but it gave me an “aha” moment – using canned fruit in smoothies! My children love smoothies, but we don’t always have the right ingredients on hand. That will change soon.)
These recipes use canned ingredients, along with seasonings and an occasional fresh ingredient or two. Opening a few cans makes the cooking process super easy and painless.
This baked beans recipe called for pinto beans (canned), diced tomatoes (canned), sautéed onions, brown sugar, mustard, cinnamon and allspice. Dried beans could be used, although that takes a bit of planning and prep work to soak and cook them. Dried onions could be used instead of sautéed onions. Instead of baking, I threw the ingredients in a crock pot on low.
The recipe ended up a bit on the sweet side, so I added some paprika, cumin and jalapenos to make it a little zippier. It was a hit with everyone. I’ll probably cut down on some of the brown sugar next time and add some bacon if we have some on hand, but now I can make baked beans from “scratch” pretty easily.
This easy corn side dish calls for corn, butter, chili powder, cumin and lime juice. The corn could be sautéed in oil instead of butter and lime juice could be substituted with lime essential oil (just a drop or two). I had never cooked corn this way and it added a little crunch to the corn. This was another hit with the family and I wish I had doubled the recipe. Frozen or freeze dried corn could easily be used in place of the canned corn. Onions, green peppers, diced tomatoes or salsa could all be added for extra flavor.
Both of these recipes are very easy to make from food storage and pantry items. They could easily be done on the gas or charcoal grill or even over a fire. If we ever end up facing a long-term power outage, I think my family and I will be grateful to know different options for cooking from our food storage.
It’s in the can
Canned goods are a great part of any food storage pantry. Canned fruits and vegetables can make meals easy when the power goes out and are easy to pack up if you need to leave your home. Make sure to have a hand operated can opener with the cans and in any bug-out bag, though. If you end up in a situation where you have canned food and no can opener, you can try this tip from Survival Life: rub the can top side down on a hard surface like concrete until the seal starts to break.
Canned goods do have expiration dates, but many people believe the food can be good long past that date. Expiration dates are set by food production companies and can just reflect the “peak of freshness.” How can you know canned goods are still okay to eat? Signs that the food inside may not be safe to eat are bulging cans, rusted cans and cans that are leaking. Canned meat may break down more over time and tomato based products can break down cans eventually since they are high-acidic foods. In fact, I’ve heard complaints about canned tomato products than any other canned food.
While canned goods may not always be the absolutely healthiest option, in times of emergency (every day or catastrophic), they can come in handy to feed yourself and your family. Take the time to be creative with the food you store – your future taste buds (and those of your family) will thank you!
Canning Green Beans for Food Storage
Freshly harvested string beans are one of my favorite vegetables. The first year I started my garden, I planted a lot of different types of bush and pole beans. I loved the different colors and shapes. I may have gone a little bit overboard.
After eating my fill and giving a lot away, I blanched and froze extra to enjoy over winter. I was disappointed with the frozen string beans. I didn’t like the rubbery texture or the squeaky feeling they had on my teeth when I chewed them. I decided to try canning string beans instead.
The mission of canning green beans is what prompted me to invest in a pressure canner. Like carrots, string beans are a low acid food and can only be canned safely by using a pressure canner. I did some research and purchased the least expensive one I could find, Presto 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Canner. It holds a canner load of 9 pint sized jars and I can lift a full canner load off the stove without help.
Harvest your string beans in their prime when they are tender and small to medium sized. String beans grow quickly and I like to pick them every day so they don’t grow too big, but sometimes they get away from me. Select the small to medium sizes string beans for preserving. The large or seedy pods may taste ok when eating fresh, but they don’t hold up very well to canning and tend to get soft. Wash and store in zipper bags for a few days until you have enough for a full canner load. I like to aim for about 10 pounds to fill 9 pint sized jars.
READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
Other Useful Resources :
Another great one by Chaya Foedus:
(originally published on Pantry Paratus in 2012, this piece has circulated quite a few times! We’ve made some updates…enjoy!) Some swear by pressure cooking because of high altitude living constraints, meat tenderizing, energy reduction, nutrient preservation, or convenience. Other advise against pressure cooking because it leaches antioxidants, makes meat stringy and dry, or because they…
We all NEED food! In any real disruption, whether that be short or long term, people realize that they need or will need food. If you doubt, or need a reminder, just think back to pictures of grocery store shelves during winter storms or hurricanes. The problem with “ordinary” people (or maybe we should call them irresponsible), is that they wait till the disruption is right at their doorstep!
I knew when I started in preparedness that I didn’t want to be irresponsible. I have a family and I wanted to make sure that their needs are met if I can help it. So to me, as a father and husband, it is a no brainer to have long term food storage!
When most people start thinking about preparedness, they focus on food. Not shelter, gear, sanitation, power, self-defense or the myriad of other concerns that need to be addressed following an emergency or disaster situation. Quite simply, food is the number one concern people have second only to their concern for having an adequate supply of water.
What type of food should you buy, where should you buy it, and how should you store it? You are going to learn that acquiring food for the preparedness pantry does not have to be overwhelming. Furthermore, long-term emergency food storage is something you can do over the course of a week, a month, or even longer, if that is what it takes.
Perhaps even more important, when you have filled your storage pantry, you will be secure in the knowledge that if a disaster strikes, you will have plenty of food to feed your family, along with a few treats and surprises along the way.
My Long Term Food Storage Dilemma
After doing my due diligence and researching long term food storage, I soon realized that I wouldn’t be able to afford to purchase those big pallets of food for my whole family. It would have been nice and easy to place an order online and then just park all that food in a room, but it wasn’t happening for my budget, and I bet it isn’t happening for your own budget either.
There is also the issue with what your family will eat. Many of those long term food packs come with food that your family might not like and won’t eat. Yeah, I know. In an emergency, if they were starving, they would eat it. But still…why push it.
I knew I wanted to store long term food for my family, the issue was how and how much. It wasn’t long that I found that you could store food long term in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers inside of plastic 5 gallon buckets.
Side Note: Now, I will tell you here that I think the easiest form of food storage is buying canned foods at your local grocery store. You can easily create a 30 day menu by using cans. I wrote the article, Anyone Can Do It – Fool Proof Food Storage, which provides information to an old Y2K website with a ton of recipes…no guessing! Below that article, you will find a ton of links to other types of food storage from many of my friends who also blog about preparedness. BUT – canned foods aren’t meant to last for the “LONG TERM.”
The only thing that worried me about making my own long term food storage buckets was ME! At that time, there wasn’t as much information about making your own food storage buckets like now! What if I screwed something up and the food that my family depended on went bad and we were caught without any food during a long term crisis? It’s kind of scary if you think about it, but you have to GET OVER IT!
Making your own long term food storage buckets is very easy. I’m going to list out the steps in a 1,2,3 format. But if you need more encouragement, I’m going to include so many links after my steps that you are going to OD on information and feel like a long term food storage expert!
Steps to Making Your Own Long Term Food Storage Buckets
1. Acquire Your Supplies.
You will need mylar bags, O2 absorbers, 5 gallon buckets w/ lids, a mallet, a pail or bucket opener, an iron, a 2×4 board and the food you want to store.
Mylar Bags – Here you have a few options. You can go with big 5 gallon bag sizes or you can go with 1 gallon bag sizes and place 4-5 in each 5 gallon bucket. You really want to purchase mylar bags that have a decent thickness. I usually get 4mil thick bags from Amazon.
I have a big family, with big boys. I chose to use the big 5 gallon size bags. I figure that we are going to eat! If you are putting together buckets for just two people, you might want to use the 1 gallon size bags and place various types of food in one bucket.
O2 Absorbers – O2 absorbers will absorb the oxygen that you can’t push out of the mylar bag. Various sizes of bags require various cc’s of oxygen absorbers.
To take the guess work out of it though, you can purchase packs of mylar bags with O2 absorbers. Like I said, I purchase them from Amazon already put together.
- Purchase 5 gallon mylar bags (4.5mil) w/ O2 absorbers here.
- Purchase 1 gallon mylar bags (3.5mil) w/ O2 absorbers here.
5 gallon buckets – You don’t really NEED buckets, but you should use them! The buckets are there to protect the mylar bags from being punctured by accident or by little fury critters. They will also serve as an easy place to store your food when you open up your mylar bags. I purchase the orange buckets from Home Depot. I purchase the lids there too. Home Depot has also started selling gamma lids, lids that easily screw off. But you can also purchase them on Amazon.
Mallet – You will need this to hammer down the lids on the buckets after you finish sealing your bags.
Bucket/Pail Opener – This isn’t necessary, but will save your nails and fingers when you try to open your buckets. They are cheap and you will be glad you have one. You can purchase them on Amazon too.
Food – If you are doing this on the cheap, you probably want to stick with white rice, beans and pasta. All of these foods will last for a very long time. This will get you started, but you might want to add more. Like for example, you might want to store sugar. You can put that in a mylar bag, but don’t include an O2 absorber. It will turn your sugar into a hard block. For other examples of foods that you can store, see the links below.
Iron and 2×4 board – When you get ready to seal your mylar bags, you will place the top of the bag on the board and then iron over it. I used an old iron we didn’t throw out and I had a 2×4 just laying around in the garage.
2.Fill Up the Bags
First thing – Do not open the package that the O2 absorbers come in until you are ready to start sealing your mylar bags! Once you open the O2 package, the absorbers start working. You want to wait until you are really ready.
Setup your buckets in a line or in a work area that will allow you to move easily. Turn on your iron, connect with an extension cord if it makes it easier, and set it on high.
Place your mylar bags inside the buckets and pour your food inside. You might want to go ahead and label your lids with a Sharpie and place it under the buckets of food so you don’t forget what is inside each bucket…in case you are the forgetful type! Make sure you leave some space at the top of the bag so it can seal easily.
Shake the buckets to make sure you don’t have any air pockets. Once all your food is in mylar bags, inside of the buckets, open up your O2 absorbers and drop the appropriate size of O2 absorber inside each bucket.
Grab the 2×4 board, lay it across a portion of the mylar bag, at the top, and run the iron over it. You don’t have to hold it over too long. You will see it seal. (see the Yeager vid below) Again, this is easier than it might sound. You want to leave a portion of the bag unsealed, like at the end. The reason is that you want to push out as much air as possible. I have heard that you can get a long tube/straw and place it on one side of the mylar bag to help get the last bit of air out.
After you are comfortable with pushing as much air out of the bags that you can get, then completely seal the bag. You might want to make a diagonal seal at the end of the bag to close it off. (The first tutorial link I link to below will show you what I mean)
At this point, you can wait till the next day to make sure that the bags sealed before you hammer on the lid. You will notice that the bags will become “tight” and firm as the O2 is absorbed.
Any O2 absorbers that you have left can go into a mason jar. I don’t really know how long this would work because I have always used all of mine!
3. After you are comfortable with your sealed bags, you can place the lid on them and use the mallet to set the lids in place. You will notice that the lids from Home Depot have a rubber seal around the bottom. This makes for a very tight seal.
4. Your buckets should already be labeled, so just find a cool, dark place to store them, like in a closet or an unused room. Your buckets should last for many, many, years.
The above list of steps is what I did to make my long term food storage buckets. It is very easy to do. However, I know that I wanted to see pics and video. Again, you want to feel comfortable that you did everything correctly, your family is depending on you!
Below you will find some of the best tutorials and links that you will want to read/watch to help you feel more comfortable. All of these articles were linked on Prepper Website, so you know they are good!
DIY Long Term Food Storage Tutorials
How to Seal a Mylar Bag in a 5-gallon bucket (Modern Survival Blog) – This tutorial has the pic of using the diagonal seal I spoke about above.
Supersizing Food Storage with BUCKETS (Prepared Housewives) – Good info. with a lot of pics!
VID: Beginners Guide to Food Storage (James Yeager) – Yes, that James Yeager, often does videos on preparedness. He walks through putting together food buckets in this video along with other food storage basics!
How to Seal Food in Mylar Bags (Backdoor Survival) – Good tutorial with a lot of pics!
Sealing Food in Five Gallon Buckets is an Important Skill for Preppers (Preparedness Advice Blog)
Food Storage: Packing pails for long term storage ( Candian Preppers Network)
Tips & Tricks You Want to Know About Your DIY Long Term Food Buckets
Food Storage Demystified – (Ready Nutrition) – Lots of great tips to help you understand more about your food buckets!
Food Grade Buckets – (5 Gallon Ideas) – Understand the difference between food grade and non-food grade buckets!
Oxygen Absorbers For 5-Gallon Food Storage (Modern Survival Blog)
FREE – Food Storage Inventory Spreadsheets You Can Download For Free (Prepared Housewives) – Who doesn’t like FREE stuff?
A Food Storage Tip When Using Mylar Bags (Ed that Matters) – A great tip for storing rice and beans together in the same 5 gallon bucket!
Survival Basics: Using Mylar Bags for Food Storage (Backdoor Survival) – Some great tips!
Guide to Long Term Food Storage (The Daily Prep) – A graphic resource with links to specific topics and questions you might have.
The 15 Commandments of Food Storage (Survival Mom) – Just good info.
How Many Buckets of Freedom Do You Have? (The Organic Prepper) – Some thoughts on why it is important to have buckets of food!
Food Storage (Peak Prosperity) – There is a ton of info. here regarding food storage of all types. I’m including it because it does discuss long term food buckets.
8 Tips For Storing Food in Mylar Bags (Food Storage & Survival) – Great tips!
How Much Food Will Fit in a 5 Gallon Bucket? (Preparedness Advice Blog) – Good info.
12 Staples of Long Term Food Storage (US Prepper’s) – A good list of food to have.
3 Great Resources
The Prepper’s Cookbook (Tess Pennington) – This book is one of the best when it comes to cooking with your food storage. The book contains a ton of recipes, charts, how-to store food for long term food storage (various ways), food calculator and more! Read the review here. The book has 4.5 stars and 209 reviews on Amazon. It is definitely one you want in your preparedness library!
The Prepper’s Guide to Food Storage (Gaye Levy) – This ebook is concise and packs a powerful punch. You can read my review here. The book has 4 stars and 33 reviews on Amazon. You can often find it for $.99!
The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget (Daisy Luther) – I haven’t done a book review on this book. But knowing Daisy and reading all the articles that she puts out on her website, I know it is going to be good. The book covers building your pantry, cutting costs, storing food and also contains recipes.
Spices & Herbs?
I’m sure that your family will be very appreciative of all your efforts to provide food for extended emergencies. However, with all the bulk food that you store, you might find that eating becomes boring. Since food is so important to us, why not prepare a little bit more to have “good food” that your family would eat.
One thing that you will want to do is to store spices and herbs to make your food storage have various tastes. Spices, seasonings and herbs usually store very well. You might also want to grow your own herbs. Having fresh herbs is easy, frugal and can be done in your big garden or even in containers. Below you will find some good articles to reference.
Long Term Storage for Spices (Florida Hillbilly)
Food Storage: Storing Herbs and Spices for Long Term Storage (Self-Reliant School)
The Spice of Life (Paratus Familia Blog)
Food Storage, Bulk Spices, And My Must Haves (New Life on a Homestead)
10 Spice Blend Recipes (The Mountain Rose Blog)
Drying Herbs? Here’s what you do with them next (I Am Liberty)
How Do I Store That? Dried Herbs (Preparedness Mama)
Herb Gardening Basics (Simply Living Simply)
Food storage makes sense! You know it does or you wouldn’t have read this article. If you are looking for other ways to store food, including more tips, tricks and cooking ideas, take a look at the “Food Storage” tag on Prepper Website. There you will find pages and pages of great food storage articles. Just a note – at the bottom of each tag page, there is a link to take you to the next page!
Do you have a favorite food storage article or tip? Link it below in the comments!