20 Medicinal Herbs That I Have in My Prepper Garden

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“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” –  Hippocrates


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So, many of you may be asking my I want to go to all the trouble and grow herbs and roots for natural healing. You can read about seven reasons why I started a medicinal garden, but in short, I wanted options at my disposal. From a preparedness standpoint, I know that infection and illness could be very prevalent in the aftermath of a disaster and accessibility to medical care will be difficult to find. As well, with the massive over-prescribing of antibiotics in our modern healthcare industry, today’s crop of antibiotics has become less effective. Let’s be honest, bacteria has a 4 billion year head start in the evolution and has been adapting to environmental changes since the beginning of time. The time will come when antibiotics will be moot in terms of its effectiveness.

I love natural remedies solely for their simplicity and worry-free use. It is difficult to overuse natural remedies, but more importantly, they have been used for centuries. While researching which medicinal plants I wanted in my garden, I made sure that many of them were hardy perennials that could perform multiple medicinal duties. I don’t have a lot of space where my herbal garden is, so the plants had to be exceptional. These 20 herbs made the cut and I couldn’t be more pleased with my choices.

Ready Nutrition writer and herbalist, Jeremiah Johnson has written extensively on how to cultivate a medicinal garden to use in a long-term emergency. His favorite medicinals are what he refers to as the 3 G’s: garlic, ginger, and ginseng. You can read his article on the subject.

  1. Angelica – This herb is one that everyone should be growing in their garden. It’s great for children, adults and the elderly. It has antibacterial properties, astringent properties can be used externally as a medicinal gargle for sore throats and mouths and as a medicinal poultice for broken bones, swellings, itching, and rheumatism. It is also known for strengthening the heart. A powder made from the dried root can be used for athlete’s foot, as well as an insecticide and pesticide.
  2. Calendula – Also known as pot marigold, this pretty yellow flower is believed to be one of “the greatest healing agent for all wounds.” It naturally cleanses wounds and promotes rapid healing. It slows bleeding in some cases. Marigold was also used as a toothache and headache preventative in the 1500’s in England. It is an excellent herb to have on hand for skin issues such as eczema, skin inflammations, soothing varicose veins, soothing chapped hands and can be used to reduce body scars. Commonly made into oil by soaking fresh or slightly dried plant parts in one’s choice of base oil, it can be applied topically to relieve all sorts of fungal infections.
  3. Catnip – Your cats may be drawn to this herb, but it has plenty of medicinal uses and a wonderful herb to have in the herbal medical cabinet. Most notably, it has sedative effects and helps calm the nervous system. Making a tea from this herb before bedtime will help settle the body. It also has anti-fever properties, as well as antibacterial effects. The compound can also be used to repel common insect pests such as mosquitoes and cockroaches. When nepetalactone is distilled, it is more effective than DEET than repelling mosquitoes. As a matter of fact, it is up to 10 times more effective in accordance with laboratory experiments conducted by isolating the compound via steam distillation. Read more about using this herb here.
  4. Chamomile – This herb is also most recognized by its sedative effects, but has more to offer than just that.  The flowers can be strained out of the tea and placed into a warm compress to use on ear infections. Tea compresses and tea rinses can be used to gently treat eye problems. It also has the power to assist in comforting the effects of indigestion, morning sickness, nervousness, neuralgia, painful periods and assists as a sleeping agent.
  5. Comfrey – I just added comfrey to my garden this year. Not only does it have medicinal values, but can be used as a nutritional supplement to livestock and used as a fertilizer because it is high in potassium. To make a liquid fertilizer: chop off the top of a comfrey plant and throw the leaves in a bucket. Cover with water and let them rot into green liquid… then water whatever needs a boost. Medicinally speaking, comfrey is also known as “one of nature’s greatest medicinal herbs.” It helps heal wounds and mend broken bones, and even helps to bring fevers down. Nutritionally, it is a good source of vitamin C and calcium.
  6. Echinacea – Although the root is most widely used for its medicinal purposes, truly the entire plant can be used. This herb strengthens the body’s ability to resist infection and stimulates the production of white blood cells.  Echinacea stimulates the body in non-chronic illness such as colds, bronchitis, sore throats, abscesses and for recurrences of yeast infections. Echinacea can also be taken as an anti-inflammatory for arthritis. A gargling solution can also be made with the tea to use with a sore throat.  For cases that are not strep throat related: add 10-16 drops of water or to sage or ginger tea and use as a gargling agent.  If a person is fighting strep throat: every two hours, gargle with the above-mentioned teas to which add a drop full of echinacea extract.
  7. Garlic – This is simply a must-have in your garden. Its medicinal uses are too extensive to list but can be read in more detail here. In short, it is effective in preventing the common cold, reducing recovery time, and reducing symptom duration. An infused oil can be made from garlic to treat wounds and ear infections. And, I need not mention all of its culinary uses.
  8. Ginger – the medicinal value of this root is amazing. In fact, recent studies have revealed that ginger may be stronger than chemo in fighting cancer. It’s truly a remarkable medicinal to have in your garden. Here are 8 more benefits of ginger.
  9. Ginseng – This herbal powerhouse assists with nervous disorders, helps alleviate symptoms related to cardiovascular and blood disorders, is beneficial for diabetics as it reduces the amount of blood sugar in patients with mild to moderate diabetes, inhibits the formation of tumors and helps as a cancer preventative, and helps to minimize the effects of X-rays and radiation produced by radiation therapy as well as negative effects caused by free radicals are minimized and reduced by the adaptogens in ginseng.  Read more here.
  10. Lemon balm – This is one of my favorite herbs. This herb is great for adding a light lemon flavor to dishes, but I love it for its sedative qualities. If you have problems sleeping, this is a great herb to take before bedtime. The aromatic properties help with alertness and can sharpen memory. It is also a good herb for diabetics to use as it helps regulate blood sugar. The antioxidant properties present in this herb are also beneficial.
  11. Lavender – This is a great multipurpose herb to grow. Not only is it a calming aromatic, but it has antiseptic properties, assists with burns, can be used as a stress reliever, good for depression, aids skin health and beauty. Here are 15 more ways to use lavender medicinally.
  12. Peppermint – This aromatic herb is great for digestive aid, and dispels headaches. Peppermint tea will also assist in overcoming muscle spasms and cramps. Due to the camphor present in peppermint, if peppermint is applied to a wet washcloth it can externally relieve pain. This herb also hep clear sinus infections.  Apply a large, warm peppermint pack to the sinus area.
  13. Onion – Onions might not be at the top of your healthy snack list, but you should make efforts to include them regularly in your diet nonetheless. They help to fight insulin resistance, have anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and antibacterial uses, and are powerful antioxidants. They even help to relieve congestions. A time-tested effective cough syrup can also be made from onions. Read more about onion’s health benefits.
  14. Oregano – This little herb works as a savory culinary herb and a potent medicinal herb, as well. Most importantly, it is a powerful antibiotic and has been proven to be more effective in neutralizing germs than some chemical antibiotics. It has been effective against germs like Staphylococcus aureus, E. coli, Yersinia enterocolitis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. An extract of its essential oil can be made to treat fungal infections and skin issues like dandruff, dermatitis, psoriasis and eczema. Carvacrol and thymol, the powerful enzymes in oregano, help to combat fungal and bacterial infections.
  15. Rose hip – Not only are roses beautiful, but they can assist in boosting our immunity, as well. Rose hips are high in vitamin C and if rosehips are made into a syrup it also”provides a welcome boost of vitamin D, something that should be welcomed when our exposure to sunlight is minimal and our vitamin D manufacture is at its lowest. Vitamin A is naturally present in the rose hips so pregnant women should seek medical advice before taking rose hip syrup.”
  16. Rosemary – This highly aromatic plant is used today in any number of organic products to help alleviate bone and muscle soreness, reduce anxiety and promote well-being.
  17. Sage – It’s anti-inflammatory properties also make this an effective herb. This herb can also be used in aiding anxiety, nervous disorders, used as an astringent. There are aromatherapy qualities to this herb and have been known to lift depression. Rubbing the sage leaves across the teeth can be used to effectively clean the teeth and assist in bad breath. American Indians used this herb as a fever reducer.  Sage has antiseptic properties and the leaves can be chewed to cleanse the system of impurities or made into a tea. Sage has also been known to assist with hot flashes associated with menopause. If a person has stomach troubles, cold sage tea can be used to alleviate the symptoms. Sage can also be used to treat the flu.  Using the tea before and during any type of epidemics and to hasten healing during a flu attack. Sage leaves can be wrapped around a wound like a band-aid to help heal the wound faster.
  18. Thyme – I have multiple thyme plants in my garden and allow them to creep over rocks in my garden. Thyme can help alleviate gastric problems such as wind, colic and bad breath, helps with bronchial disorders, shortness of breath and symptoms related to colds. If it also effective in fighting sore throat and post nasal drip. If a person has whooping cough, make a syrup of thyme tea and honey to help treat the disease. Thyme can also be used to treat a fever.
  19. Toothache plant – My medicinal garden wouldn’t be complete without some dental aides too. The toothache plant has a powerful numbing effect and works great for inflammation of the gums, lips, and mucous membranes of the mouth, and it can be used as toothpaste. It can also be used to alleviate those with asthma and allergies. It also is a powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory. The toothache plant also contains B-Sitostenone it also lowers blood sugar. Other notable qualities are that it lowers blood pressure, chronic fatigue and is a natural pain reliever to all parts of the body.
  20. Yarrow – This plant was a favorite among Native American tribes who would use it to control bleeding, heal wounds and infections. It can also be effective in cleaning wounds and to control bleeding caused by puncture wounds, lacerations, and abrasions.

Don’t feel handcuffed to using only these herbs in your garden. Think about what future health issues you may have to deal with and plan(t) for them. Even tobacco has its medicinal uses. There are also medicinal weeds that you may want to locate in your yard and cultivate for the future.

Once you get your medicinal garden going, start experimenting with making your own medicinal pantry. Here are some ideas:

In the future, I plan on adding mullein, plantain, marshmallow and some cayenne peppers. What medicinals are you growing in your garden? Share them in the comments section to help our community!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

7 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden

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Growing medicinal plants are a great way to ensure garden sustainability and more notably, have access to natural medicine when you need it most. When I introduced more herbs in my garden, I noticed it had a profound impact on the vegetables and fruits I was growing. It also encouraged beneficial insects and birds to visit my garden and this helped cut down on plants being eaten.

Because of this observation, I changed my focus from solely growing to eat and, instead, worked to create a welcoming growing environment. Not only were my plants healthier, but I had access to natural herbs to use for making extracts and poultices. The following are reasons I feel gardeners should adopt adding medicinal herbs to the garden.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden

  1. Have access to multiple forms of natural medicine for future needs. When you have fresh cut herbs to use for natural medicine, you have access to the freshest forms of their healing properties. For example, what if you cut your hand and did not have a bandage. Did you know that the sage leaf can be wrapped around a wound and used as a natural band-aid? Or, if the bleeding from that cut was so bad that it wouldn’t stop. Did you know that a few shakes of some cayenne pepper can help control the bleed? Or, if you have a severe bruise, make a poultice. It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to use herbal medicine.
  2. Calm your senses with medicinal teas. Herbs like lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, catnip, and peppermint have a natural sedative quality to them to help calm your spirits or help you sleep better at night. Taking a handful of leaves and adding them to a cup of hot water will create a soothing cup of herbal tea. Here are some great herbal tea remedies to start with.
  3. Many medicinal plants and herbs are perennials and will come back year after year. The more established the plants are, the more they will produce each year. This will save you money in the long run! I bought a small oregano plant three years ago and it is the size of a small shrub. I have so much oregano now that I can use it for culinary uses and experiment with making my own tinctures and astringents. As well, my echinacea has produced so many “baby” plants that I have dug them up and transferred them to another part of my property where I am creating another medicinal garden.
  4. Feed your livestock! Livestock can also benefit from growing herbs in the garden.  Not only can they be added for additional nutrition, but you can use herbs to make natural cleansing shampoos and even clean wounds. Some herbs I feed my animals are oregano, comfrey, lavender, mint, and sage.  Note: not all herbs are healthy for your livestock, so do research to find out which ones are good for your animals.
  5. Another added benefit of having a thriving medicinal garden is that bees love it! This promotes bee sustainability and a healthier garden, as well. The blossoms put out by the flowers and herbs will attract bees that will, in turn, happily pollinate your vegetable and fruits. Consider planting some of these beneficial flowers in addition to herbs:
    • Asters (Aster/Callistephus)
    • Sunflowers (Helianthus/Tithonia)
    • Salvia (Salvia/Farinacea-Strata/Splendens)
    • Bee balm (Monarda)
    • Hyssop (Agastache)
    • Mint (Mentha)
    • Cleome / Spider flower (Cleome)
    • Thyme (Thymus)
    • Poppy (Papaver/Eschscholzia)
    • California poppies (Eschscholzia)
    • Bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea)
    • Lavender (Lavandula)
  6. Regrow from cuttings on your windowsill. Herbs like rosemary, lavender, mint, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, lemon balm, and thyme are perfect for starting in a glass or canning jar. Simply add water and set in indirect sunlight – it’s that simple! Read more here.
  7. Herbs can be great companion plants for the vegetable garden. Don’t feel handcuffed to only growing vegetables, but herbs can be planted nearby to do double duty as companion plants. Companion planting can also help control the insect balance in your garden and repel some of the more unwanted guests like mosquitoes. Some favorite companion herbs are pairing basil with tomatoes, chamomile near cucumbers, garlic planted near apple, pear and peach trees, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery. Read more about which herbs are great companions here.

Ready Nutrition writer and herbalist, Jeremiah Johnson has written extensively on how to cultivate a medicinal garden to use in a long-term emergency. His favorite medicinals are what he refers to as the 3 G’s: garlic, ginger, and ginseng. You can read his article on the subject.

To better understand natural medicine and using herbals for health, I strongly recommend you read more on the subject. The following books come highly recommended:

Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria,” by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor, by Cat Ellis (Herbal Prepper)

This is not a new gardening concept, yet is still not widely used. When you are planting your garden, consider adding a few herbs and watch the benefits grow before your eyes.

 

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

8 Sustainable Changes You Can Make That Will Have a Positive Impact on Earth

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It’s a cold, hard fact that Earth’s once plentiful resources are drying up. Climate change, food and water shortages, pollution, deforestation, agriculture changes are all being caused by the wasteful nature of humans. These impacts have directly altered the Earth’s surface faster than the natural process. We are at a tipping point.

One small act can have a far-reaching impact and it all starts with a single step.

Here are some interesting facts to put things into perspective.

  • An average of 230 million tons of trash that is thrown away each year in the United States, and many do not realize that the trash they are throwing away can be reused.
  • Commercial food sources have become corrupted with genetically modified foods, hormones/antibiotics, pesticides and neurotoxins.
  • On average, one household uses 350 gallons of water.
  • Running tap water for two minutes is equal to 3-5 gallons of water.
  • America uses about 15 times more energy per person than the typical developing country.
  • In the United States, more than 40 percent of municipal solid waste is paper — about 71.8 tons a year.
  • Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags—including large trash bags, thick shopping bags,and thin grocery bags—were produced globally in 2002. Roughly 80 percent of those bags were used in North America and Western Europe. Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags. (Worldwatch Institute)

The way we live directly impacts our environment and, let’s be honest, humans are very wasteful in regards to using up precious resources. We must begin doing our part to prolong tho negative effects we have on this planet. Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect upon what we can do to live more in tune our planet. In the past, we have suggested ways to make more earth-friendly choices such as recycling, not using chemical cleansers and re-purposing items, but it’s time to take another step forward and begin to live in a more sustainable nature.

8 Sustainable Changes You Can Make That Will Have a Positive Impact on Earth

  1. Buy localFarmers markets are a great way to buy locally and teach your family about sustainability. It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. Our dependency on far away food sources leaves a region vulnerable to supply disruptions, and removes any real accountability of producer to consumer. As well, nutritional value can quickly decline as time passes after harvest. Finding local food sources can circumvent this impending issue and, because locally grown produce is freshest, it is more nutritionally complete. As well, join an organic food co-op to get more good food for less. It’s a great way to start to dip your toes into the self-sovereign movement that is sweeping the US.
  2. Cut the crap out of your diet – GMO and chemically enhanced food is no way to keep your family healthy. This is a big change to make, but will enhance your health in the long run. The easiest way to cut out foods that are full of hormones, antibiotics or considered gmo is to buy organic. A study recently noted that eating organic foods is more healthy than conventional foods. found that organics contain 18 to 69 percent higher concentrations of antioxidants. This means that an organic consumer will ingest the antioxidant equivalent of approximately two extra produce portions every day, without altering food intake. In your new diet, you should also steer clear of artificially colored or flavored food, non-organic milk and meat sources. As well, corn and soy are almost always GMO. Foods containing neurotoxins like MSG, fluoride, or aspartame (along with other artificial sweeteners) should be avoided. By switching to organic and natural foods you are letting all the commercial food sources out there that you object to chemicals being put in your foods. Think of it as a silent protest – and when they can’t get you to buy their product, they’ll take notice and make necessary changes.
  3. Support the bees – Our basic way of life is largely dependent on those little buzzing bees busily collecting food. Bees have been in sharp decline in North America and in parts of Europe over the last several years. Many believe multiple factors are to blame for colony collapses, a few being chemical-based fertilizers, climate change and invasive parasites that attack the hive. This is causing massive amounts of damage to insect-dependent agriculture. As a result, food shortages are on the rise and many experts are quickly trying to find ways to help the bees. Another way to support thriving bees is to follow in the footsteps of Oslo and help create a “bee highway” or feeding stations in urban areas to help feed the bees. “The idea is to create a route through the city with enough feeding stations for the bumblebees all the way,” Tonje Waaktaar Gamst of the Oslo Garden Society told local paper Osloby. ”Enough food will also help the bumblebees withstand man-made environmental stress better.”
  4. Start a garden – America was founded upon an agrarian lifestyle, and farmers were the driving force behind America. Currently, people are trying to find ways to move back to farming in order to grow their own food, to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on the government. In fact, by growing your own food, you cut down on trips to the grocery, thus cutting down on gasoline, carbon emissions and save some money in the process. As well, a lot of attention on yardfarming in suburbia has started becoming very popular in many parts of the United States. Yardfarmers converts unsustainable suburban developments, urban food deserts, or other neglected land into sustainable, more resilient opportunities for people while building community. How great would it be if the yardfarming movement popped up in your neck of the woods? If you can’t wait for the yardfarms, start a community garden. Community gardens encourage an urban community’s food security, allowing people to grow their own food. They bring urban gardeners closer in touch with the source of their food, and break down social isolation by encouraging community interaction.
  5. Sustainable landscaping – 60% of a person’s household water usage goes toward lawn and garden maintenance. During times of drought, our lawn and landscaping can become a bottomless pit where we are throwing away money to keep grass alive. Rather than spending exorbitant amounts of money to maintain landscaping, think outside of the box and choose a more sustainable form of landscaping. As well, consider growing native plants in your area. This will cut down on water usage and encourage native wildlife, insects, etc. to hang out in your yard.
  6. Only use organic fertilizers when gardening – Despite what some corporations want you to believe, chemicals are not good for plants. The application of glyphosate around the world has increased 15 fold since these Roundup Ready crops were first introduced in the 1990s. Roundup Ready crops have created a problem in agriculture that is similar to the problems caused by antibiotics, whose overuse has bred highly resistant strains of superbugs. The overuse of glyphosate has bred superweeds, which are resistant to the pesticide. And the more resistant they become, the more pesticides that farmers have to apply. It’s an endless cycle that farmers have no idea how to break out of. Composting organic material for the soil is a healthier alternative. With composting, you are utilizing aerobic and anaerobic decomposition processes to break down the compostable material and invite beneficial organisms to assist in the process. The end result is a full spectrum soil conditioner that has many benefits.
  • Compost contains macro and micronutrients often absent in synthetic fertilizers.
  • Compost releases nutrients slowly—over months or years, unlike synthetic fertilizers
  • Compost enriched soil retains fertilizers better. Less fertilizer runs off to pollute waterways.
  • Compost buffers the soil, neutralizing both acid & alkaline soils, bringing pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants.
  • A compost tea can also be used as a foliar spray on the plant or poured into the soil.
  1. Some natural fertilizers can be found in your garbage and can be composted and turned into natural garden amendments. Banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds are great for the garden! You can feed the soil with some of these soil amenders, as well: earthworm castingsphosphatepowdered oyster shell, and green sand.

7. Water conservation – Did you know that if a household started conserving water, you can reduce your in-home water use by 35%? This means the average household, which uses 130,000 gallons per year, could save 44,000 gallons of water per year. Learning ways to practice the art of conserving water now, will help you make the most of your water sources. Here are 22 ways to start!

8. Use less packaging – We are all guilty of using zip-loc bags and throwing them away after each use. It’s so wasteful! Luckily, there are lots of alternatives available to us. Some favorites are these paper sandwich baggies or this re-useable velcro sandwich bag. Both will reduce that dreaded carbon footprint. As well, purchasing re-usable lunch containers like these eco-friendly stainless steel containers are great alternatives to plastic. There are some foods like potatoes and oranges that come in their own mesh packaging and knowing how to reuse packaging can simplify your life. In addition, purchase grocery bags that can be reused. This will cut down on having an excess of plastic bags.

Find Alternative Uses For Some of Your Trash

Some of the trash we collect can serve other purposes, and changing your mindset is also an essential sustainability skill. Learning the art of using what you have around you to live is the core of being self-reliant – and what many of us are trying to achieve. Here are 50 of the most common items thrown away and ways you can reuse them. Creativity and resourcefulness can go a long way if we need to rely on what we have around us.

Whether you want to believe it or not, our current way of living is not sustainable. We over consume are wasteful and there is a better, more sustainable way to life. We can’t keep going on like this and if each of us where to make some minor changes to how we live, the earth would already be a better place to live. Let’s make Earth a better place!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Monsanto’s Terrible Secrets Are Tumbling out as Company Faces Wave of Cancer Lawsuits

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In 2015 the World Health Organization declared that glyphosate, the world’s most popular herbicide, is probably carcinogenic. That declaration has since become a serious chink in the armor of Monsanto. It was one of the first times that a reputable institution suggested that maybe, Monsanto’s best-selling herbicide could be bad for human health. In fact, the company’s first response to that claim was that every other regulatory agency in the world had seen the same data as the WHO, and none of them thought that glyphosate was harmful.

But it seems that was enough to turn up the heat on Monsanto. Two years later, 700 people across the US are now suing Monsanto because they believe glyphosate gave them non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It turns out these people were right to ignore the claims of all those regulatory agencies around the world, because these lawsuits have revealed evidence that may prove Monsanto has been colluding with government agencies, and manipulating scientific studies.

For instance, last week a judge in San Francisco unsealed documents that suggest Monsanto was scheming to ghostwrite scientific papers about glyphosate, and hire real scientists to publish them.

The debate over the safety of Monsanto’s weed killer Roundup has become more complicated, as newly released emails suggest the company had ghostwritten scientific research on glyphosate, the pesticide’s key ingredient.

Monsanto’s internal communications were unsealed Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Vince Chhabria in California. Chhabria is presiding over litigation brought by farmers and other agricultural workers who claimed that exposure to glyphosate caused them to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

In one email, Monsanto executive William Heydens recommended company employees could write papers about glyphosate and hire scientists to publish studies under their names. He said that this had been done once before.

“We would be keeping the cost down by us doing the writing and they would just edit & sign their names so to speak,” Heydens wrote.

The court has also found evidence that may show that Monsanto was working with the EPA to shut down studies that questioned the health effects of glyphosate.

“If I can kill this I should get a medal,” Rowland told a Monsanto regulatory affairs manager who recounted the conversation in an email to his colleagues, according to a court filing made public Tuesday. The company was seeking Rowland’s help stopping an investigation of glyphosate by a separate office, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, that is part of the U.S. Health and Human Service Department, according to the filing.

A federal judge overseeing the glyphosate litigation in San Francisco said last month he’s inclined to order Rowland to submit to questioning by lawyers for the plaintiffs, who contend he had a “highly suspicious” relationship with Monsanto. Rowland oversaw a committee that found insufficient evidence to conclude glyphosate causes cancer and quit last year shortly after his report was leaked to the press.

It would suffice to say that Monsanto is probably in big legal trouble for the first time in a long time. If Monsanto is found guilty, the whole world is going to know that they’ve been lying to us, colluding with the government to cover that up, and they did so without any regard to the health of agricultural workers and consumers.

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

The Prepared Home: 5 Prepper Projects to Start in the Spring

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ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, as many of you know, planning is an important aspect of emergency preparedness. Each year, you should make new plans and practice your new skills. I wrote an article a little while back about planning (and possibly starting) an icehouse/root cellar during the wintertime.  As of this writing, spring is just around the corner (officially), and the cold weather is starting to retreat bit by bit.  We’re going to cover a few ideas for you to pursue during the spring months for building projects around your property.  Let’s jump right into it, with a description of the projects and the reason for building them.

Here are 5 Prepper Projects You Can Start in the Spring

  1. The Icehouse: As mentioned in the earlier article.  If you plan on doing it, you may just have at least 2-3 weeks where you can obtain some freezing temperatures.  This would behoove you to act, if you rent out a small backhoe and dig your cellar/icehouse.  Remember to go below the frost-line!  Fill up bins with water and let them freeze.  When the icehouse is finished, fill it up with these huge blocks of ice.  Sawdust is an excellent insulator, as is pine mulch (brown needles, not green, if you use needles).
  2. The Greenhouse: If you don’t have one, well, now’s the time to put one into place just before it’s time to plant and sprout your seedlings. There are almost innumerable styles and sizes to choose from.  Once again, you have about a month to get that baby up and running. Here is one greenhouse project you can do for less than $300. As well, consider the convenience of cold frames to get a head start on your garden.
  3. Underground (hidden) vault/cache point: Now this one will take a little bit of explaining. Once again, going below the frost-line, the key here will be to make a little “room,” so to speak, under the ground.  Make a foundation of gravel after you’ve dug out a cubicle/rectangular chamber.  Position this away from the house, where some government clown with a metal detector will not tread.  All the same, you can pick up a precast concrete module, or make it out of a culvert pipe.  You want to cover it up in the end with about 6” of earth, so that it’s not too much that you can’t get through it in the wintertime.  If you’re interested and indicate so in the comments, I can give you a good plan that I know works in a future article.
  4. Storage shed: Yes, build your own, if you have the time and resources.  Those pre-made sheds for sale in the building supply big-box stores cost a fortune.  You can do better by stick-building it out of 4” x 4” s and 6” x 6” s with pressure-treated plywood.  Make sure all your lumber is pressure-treated.  When you’re done, make your roof out of corrugated steel instead of shingles…it’ll save you time and energy during the winter with snow removal.
  5. Smokehouse: Now’s the time to prep that smokehouse for meat…months (or many moons, if you prefer!) before hunting season comes around again. This will involve perhaps the emplacement of a wood stove or the creation of a barbecue pit-type structure.  There are plenty of plans and diagrams on the Internet that you can weigh and balance against your needs.

This is the time to lay out all of your plans and figure out what materials you will be using and the costs for all of them.  In our rigidly-controlled social structures, there may even be a friendly government permit man or inspection man to meet…to find out how much they will take out of you before you start building.  Factor all of this into consideration prior to actually building, as it will alleviate headaches later.  You may want to do some smaller projects, such as a place to store firewood, or a small toolshed or such.  Do not allow the 5 mentioned in this article to dissuade you from some kind of project in the good weather for building.

Hopefully the weather will warm up soon, but this is an excellent time to lay the groundwork for what you have been thinking of building during the winter months.  The only limit is your imagination and to actually take action on the project.  The best plans in the world are only plans until they’re executed.  Here’s hoping you have some good weather and start the ball rolling on whatever project you decide.  Let me know about that item #3 above, and you keep fighting that good fight!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

10 Awesome Tips You Never Knew About Using Wood Stoves That May Change Your Life

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 ReadyNutrition Readers, we’re having a heatwave out here in Montana…it’s 9 degrees Fahrenheit while I’m writing this.  I hope you guys and gals are nice and warm and you have a good wood stove in front of you keeping it so.  You recall I wrote one on wood stoves not too long ago, and I wanted to supplement this for a few more things you can do with yours.  Aside from using wood stoves to stay warm and cook food on, here are a few tips you never knew on how to get the most out of your wood stove.

10 Ways to Make the Most of a Wood Stove

Ashes

One of the things you should consider is the potash that comes from your stove.  Yes, all that wood turns into ashes that can be recycled and used.  One of the things that you can do is to store them in a container (preferably a metal one that has a tightly-fitting lid) and use them later for producing your own soap.  The ashes are boiled down in water (yes, this too can be done on your wood stove!), and combined with lye and other ingredients.

Your ashes can also be used for metal polishing, for the likes of metals such as brass and silver.  It works really well straight up, or mixed with just a few drops of water.  The ashes can also be combined with your compost piles and used as a form of fertilizer to replace many valuable minerals and nutrients that comes from carboniferous materials being burned.  Why do you suppose a new forest sprouts up in a few years after a forest fire?   All of that burned wood goes into the soil and enriches it.  You can turn it into your gardens when you’re planting in the springtime for the same effect.

Charcoal

Charcoal is another product that you can take from your wood stove.  Used for a variety of things besides just cooking, charcoal can also be finely-crushed and added to your ash supply to make soap.  It can be set aside for use as cooking material or a fire-starting ingredient and even used to clean teeth.  Charcoal can also be used to filter water (see previous articles on water purification).

Soot

There’s also soot from the chimney (although you’ll probably have to wait until springtime to obtain it when you brush your chimney pipe).  Soot is the black substance formed by the combustion of your wood in the stove.  This is fine particulate matter that adheres to your pipe walls, and is blackened, consisting mainly of carbon that has not been completely burned. Soot is responsible for many chimney fires.  Soot can be mixed (in small quantities as needed) with a little bit of vegetable oil and some water to make your own ink.  A type of soot is called lampblack, and is used in enamels, paints, and inks from a commercial perspective.

That soot also has a great deal of unburned oils and resins in it (especially if you burn a lot of pine…don’t scoff…if you live in the Rockies, you will burn pine unless your last name is Rockefeller, believe me).  The oils, resins, and unburned carbon are excellent to mix with things such as sawdust and lint, with some wax for fire starters for the wood stove or camping and backpacking.

Dehydrate Food

The top of the stove is great for dehydrating food as well.  You have recipes from ReadyNutrition for pemmican and jerky.  You can make your own on top of the stove with small-aperture wire racks…of the type to cool off hot sandwiches and the like.  Lay your meat on top of the wood stove top on the racks and allow that heat to dry them right out.

We’d love to hear any suggestions of things that you have found to do with your wood stoves (along with heating your home and cooking, of course).  It is all part of your preps and homesteading and learning to economize and obtain the maximum use for all of the materials you have at your disposal.  Explore some of these and let us know what you think, as well as things you have discovered on your own.  Keep up that good fight, drink a good cup of coffee, and stay warm!

 

JJ

 

Don’t forget to join us March 9th 7 p.m. (CST) for a FREE interactive webinar about solar cooking. Click here for more details!

MARCH9G

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How To Prepare an Herb Garden in Winter

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imageWho’s itching to get outside and start gardening? This article has to do with some things you can start preparing in your herbal gardens for the spring…but prepare now.  Yes, now, while the snow and ice and the Yeti are all around… well, probably not (and hopefully not) the Yeti.  But just because that snow and ice are still on the ground does not mean you cannot start taking the steps to give you an advantage and a “step ahead” of the pack come springtime.

Having a successful garden is all about timing. Make sure you prep your starter soil, pots and the area where you plan to grow. If you don’t live in an area where there is heavy snow, begin cleaning and preparing your growing area. Here are some tips to get started.

Planting Conditions

So, what kind of herbs are we talking about here?  Chives, Cilantro, and Parsley, for starters, are perfect herbs for starting in the late winter.  You’re going to start these guys indoors: seeds in general don’t germinate unless the mean temperature is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  In addition, you’re going to have to utilize as much of that sunlit side of your house as possible.  When you throw these guys into pots (containers) and leave them in your windows?  Give them some “setback” from the glass, as the cool air will linger up to about 1 to 1 ½ inches away from the glass.

Sunlight

You’ll need the sunlight, but not the cold up against the glass.  You will have to be more inventive if you have closed off your windows with plastic, as this will stop some of the sunlight from reaching your sills.  Your herbs will need at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight (morning is preferable), and some indirect in the afternoon if it can be provided.

Naturally, if you have your greenhouse, then much of this becomes a moot point as long as allowance for sunlight and temperature are taken into consideration.  You may need to heat the greenhouse, and this can be done in several ways: with electric heat/heat lighting, with manure/peat that generates organic heated “gassing,” or with a small wood stove.  With this last option (as I’ve mentioned in past articles), it is very important to throw a teakettle (a noiseless one!) or a pot of water on the top of the woodstove.  This will allow for some moisture and humidity, and your plants will appreciate this even more than you!


The factors to control are your water, your soil, and your drainage.  An excess or inadequacy of any of these can lead to ruined herbs, whether you’re germinating your own seeds or whether you’re using cuttings.


Potted windowsills or potted greenhouses, take your pick and stick with it.  Another thing you can do is in March, set up low-tunnels, with hoops made of plastic or aluminum and covered with plastic sheeting.  These will enable maximum amounts of sunlight, and keep your cuttings or seedlings close to the ground.

Prepare the Garden Area Before Planting

Make sure you clear out an area for them that is sufficient.  When the weather warms up so that your herbs (the hardier ones) can handle a frost, it’ll be time to transplant them into boxes.  Anything on the ground should not be touching the ground directly, to prevent frost from entering.  You mulched your perennials in the fall, and soon it will be time to start tending to them, such as garlic, for example.

All in all, potting your seedlings and/or cuttings is the way to go, either in the windows or in the greenhouses.  Best thing to do is research your herbs prior to exposing them to the cold, as some herbs like basil cannot handle cold weather and fall over when the cold hits them.  Plan according to the herb, and the zone in which you live, all of which can be determined either online or in your county extension office.  So, start your herbs and planning for the spring…a few are “early risers” (such as the ones mentioned) that you can begin in the wintertime.  Spring will be here before you know it, so get those green thumbs moving!  We’d love to hear those “green thumb” comments about what you do, as they are valued by us and all of the other readers as well.  Thumbs up, and happy winter herb gardening!

 

JJ

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Natural Medicine: How to Make and Apply an Herbal Poultice

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poutlice1


“The fruit of it shall be for eating and leaf of it for healing…” (Ezekiel 47:12)


5 years ago, I came down with a bad upper respiratory infection. I was taking over the counter medicines, but none seemed to work and I was worried about secondary infections. My wife grandmother suggested I make a mustard plaster (poultice) for my chest. She told me that was what her mother did when she was a child. If it would help me with my chest congestion, I’d try anything. You know what? After a few applications, it worked!

We live in an amazing world where everything is provided for, all that is needed is to learn and understand how to use it. In our pursuit to live a more simplistic lifestyle, it is paramount to understand the vast world of herbs. Some of our favorite herbs can be lifesaving and easily grown in our backyard.

One of the easiest and fastest ways to use herbal medicine is by making a poultice. Poultices are one of the safest ways to use herbal remedies directly on the skin. The overall benefit of using this herbal remedy is the direct contact the body will receive from the herb or plant. While poultices are not as concentrated as essential oils or tinctures but they are an effective way of treating insect bites, burns, sore muscles, and sprains. They also assist is in drawing out infections and are great to help with blood poisoning, swollen glands, cysts, boils, pimples, internal injuries and even tumors. As well, poultices can be used to loosen chest congestion, aiding in expectoration of phlegm.

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What is Needed to Make an Herbal Poultice

poultice2

How To Make a Poultice

Familiarize yourself with natural herbs that grow nearby so that you can later forage for these when needed. For instance, plantain is a common green weed that is often found in lawns. If you know how to recognize it, you can use its extensive medicinal qualities. If you are foraging for herbs, make sure the area hasn’t been sprayed with any type of chemical. The most basic poultice applies the herbs to the skin, either directly or folded into a piece of cotton fabric.

In that same vein, this website states that herbal teas and extracts can also be used. “Compresses can be made using teas or extracts. A cloth dipped in arnica can be applied to unbroken skin to relieve bruising and sprains. Hot castor oils packs are unparalleled for rheumatic joints or congested muscles. Cool sage tea soothes abrasions and vinegar compresses are healing for sprains, sore throat, swollen glands, and aching muscles. Lastly, witch hazel is known to reduce the inflammation in varicose veins and hemorrhoids.”

Some popular herbs to have on hand are:

  • Aloe vera
  • Chamomile
  • Calendula
  • Comfrey 
  • Echinacea
  • Elderberry
  • Golden Seal
  • Lavender
  • Marsh mallow
  • Mullein
  • Nettle
  • Oats
  • Plantain
  • St. Johns Wort
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow

Applying a Poultice

*If you are using fresh herbs or vegetables, mash or grate them and mix with boiling water to form a paste. If you plan on using dried herbs or clay, just add enough boiling water to form a thick paste.

Using both hot and cold poultices will create different reactions from the skin:

Applying a hot herbal poultice relax spasms and relieve pain. They also draw blood to the skin’s surface and increase circulation. The heat also pull impurities to the surface and relieves congestion (like my grandmother’s mustard plaster) to affected areas. To prolong the heat of the poultice, cover with a towel to keep. You can also apply a hot water bottle or heating pad over the poultice. Replace the poultice as it cools down and repeat as needed (for up to an hour at a time). As well, herbs can be added into a large muslin bag and added to the bath.

Applying a cold poultice or compress reduces inflammation and swelling and soothes excess heat that occurs from sunburns, bruises, strains, sprains, swollen glands and mastitis.

Fomentation is an external application of alternating hot and cold poultices to help capillaries dilate and constrict. This manipulation of the blood flow is one of the best and safest mechanisms for removing congestion and obstruction out the system. Apply a cold (kept cold using ice cubes) compress and leave on for 2-3 minutes. Next, apply a hot compress for 2-3 minutes. Alternate between hot and cold for at least 20 minutes. Alternating hot and cold compresses are also particularly useful for sprains to speed healing and repair. Herbs such as elder leaf, ginger, comfrey or horsetail could be of use here.

Note: A good rule with compresses and poultices is that if it feels uncomfortable then remove it immediately. Anything that is too hot or causing irritation or itching is best removed and allowed to cool or discarded. You can also make compresses with a few drops of essential oil dispersed in warm or cold water in place of teas or tinctures.

Best Types of Herbal Poultices

  1. Wound Healing Poultice – This combination of herbs help to reduce inflammation, sooth irritation, disinfect wounds, stop bleeding and heal tissue. Adding a tablespoon each of dried plantain leaf, Calendula flowers, thyme leaf and yarrow and adding to an empty tea bag will help soothe and heal. This poultice can be made ahead of time and even used on hiking or camping trips. Simply, place the herbs into the tea bag and seal the bag by stapling the ends together. Add tea bags to a plastic container and store in a cool dark place or in first aid kit. To use as a poultice place the bag in hot or warm water and soak for 1- 2 minutes and then apply to the affected area. You can then wrap the area with either a bandage or clear plastic to keep it moist and in place. Healing Antiseptic Wash: The same herbs mentioned above can be used to make a strong antiseptic wash as well. Place the bag in boiling water  and steep for 20 – 30 minutes.  Allow the liquid to sit until it is cool enough to apply to the skin. Remove the bag and reserve the liquid. Once the liquid is cool enough to apply to the skin it can be used to wash and disinfect the affected area.
  2.  Grandma’s Mustard Plaster – Break up congestion in the sinuses or chest. Use 4 tablespoons of flour, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, lukewarm water and a hand towel to make this poultice. Make a paste with ingredients and add to one half of a hand towel. Fold in half and apply to chest area for 20 minutes. Thoroughly wash off after you are finished applying. Repeat steps to back of chest for 20 minutes and wash off when finished. Take note: mustard can burn the skin. Before using, cover the skin with olive oil and then make sure to remove and check frequently and move the compress around to prevent burning.
  3. Poultice for Muscle Strains or Broken Bones – Comfrey reduces swelling and heal wounds and is an excellent herb to use in speeding the healing process of sprains, strains and broken bones. St. John’s wort relieves nerve and muscle pain. To make poultice: crush a handful of comfrey leaves and pour enough boiling water in small bowl to cover leaves. Using a mortar and pestle, mash into a pulp and allow to cool off. Once cool, with a spoon spread the pulp directly on the affected area. Cover with gauze and bandage to hold poultice in place. Leave on for several hours.
  4. Poultice for Insect Bites – Powdered clay including red, green or white clay is an essential component of a natural first aid kit and can help draw out toxins to the surface of the skin from spider bites, mosquito bites, or bee stings. It also relieves swelling from bites. Simply fill a 2-4 ounce container of dry clay, and then moisten with small amounts of water until a paste like consistency is achieved. The paste can be applied to bites, stings, boils, or acne. This poultice can also be used to remove stubborn splinters. Chickweed and lemon balm are also good herbs to use as a poultice for insect bites.
  5. Poultice for Boils  Onions possess antiseptic properties that act as an antimicrobial and irritant to draw blood and “heat” to the boil. Cut a thick slice of onion and place it over the boil. Wrap the area with a cloth. Change the poultice every three to four hours until the boil comes to a head and drains. You can also use a slippery elm and thyme poultice to draw out boils and heal the skin. Here’s what to do: Mash a handful of thyme leaves and cover with boiling water and allow to cool. Pour off excess water and mix in 2 tablespoons of slippery elm powder. Apply directly to the boil or enclose the pulp in gauze. Leave in place for several hours.

The old ways of doing things should not be disregarded. There is a reason our ancestors used these herbs and why the herbal ingredients continue to be shared. In a time when we are becoming resistant to modern medicines due to overuse, it would be advantageous to start turning back to these old remedies.

We’d love to hear what your favorite poultices are! Share them with the Ready Nutrition Community below.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

The Ultimate Chicken Crap Composting Guide

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chicken crapThere are no two ways about it – your soil needs nutrition regularly. This isn’t just dirt that we’re talking about. We’re talking about soil and soil is alive. In order for plants to grow to their optimum capacity, they need bio-intensive nutrients present in the soil to assist with growth, root development and disease prevention. While there are other nutrients needed for perfect soil, there are three responsible for the overall health of the plant.

1. Nitrogen: Encourages green foliage by producing chlorophyll and improves leaf development.

2. Phosphorus: Phosphorus promotes good root production and helps plants withstand environmental stress and harsh winters.

3. Potassium: Potassium strengthens plants, contributes to early growth and helps retain water. It also affects the plant’s disease and insect suppression.

This Bi-Product is One of the Leading Soil Amendments and Preferred by Most Organic Farmers

While most of these elements and nutrients are naturally found in soil, sometimes they can become depleted and need to be added to help the soil get healthy again. Those of you who are working towards sustainability are well versed in the importance of composting and may even be making the most of your property by caring for backyard livestock.  If you do have livestock, you probably have a plethora of the bi-product they produce – manure. Once composted, aged manure is a great addition to create rich soil. In particular, chicken manure can be one of the best types of manure to add.


“Chicken manure has higher levels of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium compared to cattle, sheep or horse manure.”


Safe Handling

While chicken manure is a desirable compost to add to the garden, there are some things you need to know before you apply this soil amendment. First of all, gloves should be used when handling manure. Salmonella spp., E. coli and other human pathogens are present in chicken manure, so handle carefully. As well, because chicken manure is packed full of powerful nutrients, it is considered a “hot manure” and requires proper composting. Make no mistake, raw chicken manure applied to plants can burn, and even kill them. Moreover, since vegetables are growing in compost manured, take extra care when harvesting. Thoroughly wash any harvested vegetable or fruits that touched with compost with soapy water. As well, peel root vegetables and wash leafy greens with soap, or thoroughly cook garden vegetables before eating to kill any pathogens that may remain in the soil.

How To Compost Chicken Manure

Did you know that one hen produces 45 pounds of manure every year. This livestock is a pooping machine! Taking that 45 pounds of chicken manure and chicken litter and applying it each year to 100 square feet of soil will work wonders in your vegetable garden and increase the fertility of your soil.

There are two ways to compost chicken manure. Cold composting is a slow aged process that requires weeks for the manure and chicken bedding to age and mellow. Hot composting creates an interior heat in the center of the compost mound and the high-heat cooks the manure and considerably shortens the composting process.

Cleaning out the chicken coop is the best time to start a composting pile for your manure. When we prepare our chicken coops, we use a layer of cedar chips and them apply straw every month or so until it’s time to clean the coop again. This process naturally gives the future compost a 2:1 ratio of brown material to green material.

Cold Composting Method:

This composting process allows nature to do its business. Manure is added to a compost heap and allowed to sit and slowly decompose.

  1. Add a shovelful of already finished compost or native soil, which will be full of microorganisms to jump-start the process.
  2. Using gloves, rake, shovel and deposit the bedding and chicken droppings directly into the compost pile.
  3. Water it thoroughly and then turn the pile every few weeks to get air into the pile. Allow six to nine months for the manure to naturally age.
  4. Once compost has aged properly, it is done when originally bedding and manure is no longer recognizable and has turned into rich, dark soil.
  5. Once you have finished chicken manure composting, it is ready to use. Simply spread the chicken manure compost evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with either a shovel or a tiller.
  6. Thoroughly wash any raw vegetables before eating.

*If you are uncertain how well your chicken manure has been composted, you can wait up to 12 months to use your chicken manure compost.

Hot Composting Method

This is a faster composting method that heats the composting manure up to high temperatures that will kill off weed seeds and pathogens (diseases), and break down the material into very fine compost considerably faster than the cold composting method.

  1. Add a shovelful of already finished compost or native soil, which will be full of microorganisms to jump-start the process.
  2. Using gloves, rake, shovel and deposit the bedding and chicken droppings directly into the compost pile that is 3 cubic feet (1 cubic meter) in size and no more than 5 cubic feet (1.5 cubic meters). *This size creates the best heat and moisture to speed the decomposition process.
  3. Water compost pile thoroughly (It should be as wet as a wrung sponge).
  4. Cover compost pile with a large burlap or other breathable tarp to maintain moisture.
  5. With a garden thermometer, take pile’s temperature daily to ensure the temperatures rise to 120 to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually takes one to five days. *Temperature trends are approximate and vary depending on the type of materials you’re composting, the size of the pieces, the level of moisture, and so on.
  6. Every four to seven days, when the temperature of the pile begin to drop below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius), turn all of the organic matter to introduce more oxygen and heat it back up.Thoroughly mix materials from the pile’s exterior to the interior. If needed, water as you turn to maintain the “wrung-out-sponge” moisture level. *Be careful not to get material too wet, because doing so cools off the pile.
  7. After about 14 days, the ingredients of the organic matter will no longer be recognizable. Continue monitoring and recording daily temperatures and repeating the turning process.Turn every four to five days, when the temperature drops below 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius). Add moisture, if needed. Turn a total of four times throughout one month.
  8. After 1 month, the pile no longer heats up after turning, and the bulk of it is dark, crumbly compost.The temperature drops to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29 degrees Celsius) or lower.
  9. Monitor the pile and once you are satisfied that the entire contents of your bin has been heated, loosely cover and allow the compost to cure for 45-60 days before using.

More information on this process here

When your chicken manure has sufficiently turned into fertilizer, simply spread evenly over the garden. Work the compost into the soil with either a shovel or a tiller and watch how fast your plants will grow.

The use of manure is an integral part of sustainable gardening and adds necessary organic matter in soil to improve water and nutrient retention. In turn, this creates a prolific ecosystem in the soil to give your plants what they need to produce. Adding chicken manure is an excellent soil amendment and if composted properly, you will find that your vegetables will grow bigger and healthier as a result.

 

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

You’re Wasting Millions of Gallons of Water Each Year and This is How You Can Change It

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water conservationReadyNutrition Readers, we covered a few basics on the importance of taking in enough water during the winter months.  We’re going to take it a step further and talk about the importance of supply and conservation.  Many of the western states, California and Nevada being a couple of examples have been experiencing droughts over the past summers.  With a lowered amount of precipitation during the winter and spring months, aquifers have declined, as well as several rivers that supply tremendous segments of the country.  A prime example is the mighty Colorado River, which generates power and provides drinking water for tens of millions of people.

Fresh water is no longer able to be considered as a simple natural resource that is infinite in nature.  Only three percent (3%) of the world’s water supply is fresh, and 2/3 of this amount is to be found tied up in glacial ice (the North and South poles).  The world’s animals and plants are therefore dependent on 1% of the world’s water supply.  In drought years, this can present a problem.

The average American family uses approximately 170 gallons of water per person each day.

The bathroom is responsible for ¾ of this amount: every time the toilet is flushed, 5 gallons of water is lost on average.  When you stop to consider there are about 315 million people in the United States who flush that toilet about 2-3 times per day, the amount of water is staggering.  To be sure, this water isn’t “destroyed,” but it is difficult to recover and render drinkable again.

Pollutants are introduced into our water supplies by industry and farming, and these pollutants seep into the groundwater to contaminate the water supplies and the crops that are raised upon them.  It is estimated that 338 billion gallons per day are drawn from surface and subsurface water resources.  90 billion gallons are for people, livestock, and crops.  The remainder?  It goes to industry, mining, and hydroelectric/nuclear power plants.

So, what can we do?  A good deal, actually.  There will be differences with you, the Readers as a percentage of you use your own wells, and others use a municipal water supply.  The conservation can be done by both groups, however, as conservation starts at your front door.  The reasons are not so much as being part of a “green” movement as they are of preserving resources for your own family’s use.  If you are responsible for your own resources, it benefits a community as a whole.  Self-responsibility (not legislated responsibility) is the method for conserving your resources and supplies…this is part of preparation.  There are a number of methods.

Firstly, be aware of information and resources that can help you.  Contact the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in Washington, D.C., for information pertaining to water usage and ways to control it.  Yes, they’re a government agency, however, it is your tax dollars that fund them…you may as well pick up some useful information they have garnered…that you already paid for.  It is free to obtain, but you paid for it to be researched: use it!

If you decrease your time in the shower by just 1 minute per day…this will save 700 gallons of water per month.  By estimating how long you shower, you can add to this water savings drastically by planning your showering time.  VICTORIA AMAT CVRAM.  “Victory loves Preparation,” as the saying runs.  Most toilets have water-conserving features that affect the water flow.  Placing a half brick or a brick in your toilet tank does not interfere with the toilet’s function, but can enable you to save anywhere from 8-20 gallons of water per person, per day.  That is quite a bit of water, if you’re unable to compost your waste products.

Composting brings up another valuable point.  There are plenty of composting toilets available, if it is within your ability to do effectively.  Obviously if you live in a high-rise apartment building in Manhattan, you’re not going to be able to employ a composting toilet in your unit.  There will be a difference if you live in a remote area and on your own property with no zoning/neighborhood requirements limiting what you can do.  Research what will work for your area.  Also, refer to the articles I wrote previously on rain-collection for a water supply, and different measures for establishing water points and water storage for your home and family.

There is also information on water purification methods in these articles that details how to go about making your water drinkable.  I also suggest free resources such as www.howtopedia.com for downloadable, free plans on water collection points and storage methods, as well as how to obtain water from different sources.  The conservation is not a mere “greening” but an exercise in supply and logistics…stretching your resources to the maximum of their conservation and employment.  In this way, you are continuously preparing and honing a survival skill that will come in handy on a daily basis, and when the SHTF.  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How to Procure Protein Sources During Winter

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  ReadyNutrition Readers, we already kicked off the first segment of this two-part series on protein and its importance in a day-to-day, as well as a survival scenario.  Now we’re going to cover a little more on protein from a survival perspective.  This will include wild game, of which we must give you a short note to keep in mind.  A person needs fats in his diet that wild game will not provide, as the meat is very lean.  For this reason, one cannot subsist solely on wild game and must supplement that food with other foods that provide fats as well as other nutrients.

That being said, there is still an abundant amount of protein out there in the wilds you can take advantage of.  Concentrating first on the animal protein, let’s make a list of what you can obtain during the winter months.

  • Fowl:  Ducks, Geese, Turkey (No!  Not more turkey!), Grouse, Dove.
  • Fish: Trout, Bass, Bluegill/Crappie, Pike.
  • Game: Deer, Antelope (primarily the Western States), Sheep, Mountain Goat, Elk, Rabbit/Hare.
  • Other Game: Black bear, Wild Boar.

In a survival situation, beggars can’t be choosers.  It’s wintertime now, so we’re going to concentrate on what you’ll find (and face) in the wintertime.  Black Bear are semi-hibernators; that is, they slumber for extended lengths of time during the winter and emerge periodically to feed.  They do possess more than the average needed to supply humans with the essential fats.  Bear meat is very tough.  If you can, roast and/or smoke the meat, chop it up well or cube it, and then throw it in a Dutch oven.

Over the coals with a good amount of moisture and the meat will tenderize quite a bit more than just cooking it over a fire.  Supplement this protein with cattail roots.  When you dig them up (their presence is indicated by the dead reeds at the edges of frozen lakes and ponds), take the roots and boil them.  They are very similar to potatoes.  Acorns can also be gathered and pulverized into powder for a flour, but be advised: acorns are high in tannic acid. This can be leached out of the acorns by soaking them in water for a few hours, and then allowing them to dry out before making the flour.

Now be advised that many trappers (according to reports from the Hudson Bay Company in the 18th and 19th centuries) died from only eating rabbit.  As mentioned before, wild game (especially rabbit) does not contain enough fats and nutrients to keep a person alive. As the company reported, many trappers starved to death by not rounding off their diets.  The human body leaches minerals and vitamins from within itself in order to digest the rabbit, and these are passed out in the stool.  The trappers literally ate themselves to death, when if they had supplemented their game with some vegetables, their protein uptake would have been assured without depleting themselves.

Pine needle tea provides enough Vitamin C when steeped in boiling water (about 1-2 cups of needles per quart of water.  Beneath the snows can be shoots of different edible plants; use a guidebook for your geographical area to determine what you have available.  Also, your trees such as spruce and willows, as well as lichens can provide you with nutrients to balance your needs for protein with a well-rounded diet that supplies you with vitamins and minerals.  Remember, the goal is to take in more than just lean protein that will steal nutrients from your body, although protein is very, very important.

Fish and waterfowl contain more fat and while providing the protein you need are more well-rounded in terms of fats and carbohydrates.  In the wintertime, the feeding activities of fish decrease, however, you will still be able to get them if you’re diligent.  As worms and insects are mostly unavailable during the wintertime, you will need to use either artificial lures or you may use offal/meat from game that you have trapped or shot.  With ice fishing, you’ll probably need an ice augur to open a hole in a lake.  There are many rivers and streams that do not freeze totally, and it is here that you will still be able to find and catch trout.

Just 3 ounces of trout yields 21 grams of protein, along with 9 grams of fat, plus calcium, iron, potassium, and sodium.  You pull in a good-sized brookie or a rainbow trout, and you’re looking at about an 8-10 lb. fish.  Brown trout can reach about 30-40 lbs.  You can do the math: that’s a lot of protein per fish!  In addition, you can smoke and salt the daylights out of it to preserve it and carry with you.  The Northern Pike (also known as Chain Pickerel) is also a good-to-eat fish.  Be advised that from the beginning of January to about the beginning of February, they lose teeth and will not be able to strike as much.  Be careful with them when you land them, or they can bite off a finger if they’re big enough, and their teeth are very sharp.

Be advised, especially in the Western States.  Salmon are also available, but as a fisherman, you have some competition: the bears, especially Grizzly Bears.  The salmon are one of their principal food sources before they hibernate, and between September and sleepy time, they eat everything and anything they can sink their teeth into, including us.  Black bear will also fish for salmon and trout.  If it’s a survival situation, you be the judge, but for either of those two you had better be armed.  You also (regarding the Grizzly) better have the ability to prove to a court of law that it really was a survival situation, and not that your car just broke down and you would have had to walk 5 miles to get to McDonald’s.  The survival situation better be real in this case.

To back up a bit, ducks and geese have high protein, and high amounts of fat…they’re a waterfowl and need that fat to insulate them from the cold of the water and in flight.  Render the fat and save it in a jar in a survival situation; you can use it to supplement the wild game you take on land that is low in fat.  Those two also have tremendous amounts of minerals to help balance your diet.  Turkey is leaner, as it is a “ground” bird, with less fat, although it too does contain vitamins and minerals.

Also, be advised to read up on things such as Tularemia, as well as intestinal and liver flukes and parasites.  All of the mentioned types of land game can have them, the former being in rabbits and the latter found especially in deer/venison, and wild pig.  Cook all meat thoroughly, making sure to keep from contaminating the meat when you’re dressing it out and preparing it for the spit.  Better safe than sorry, so ensure that it is cooked through and through to avoid such pitfalls.

To summarize, there are many methods to prepare your protein that you garner in the outdoors.  Such is beyond the scope of this article, the point of which was to make you well aware of your options in the outdoors, especially in a survival situation.  Winter is not a “dead” time of the year; it is merely dormant, with different pitfalls and challenges to face.  Use your greatest resource – your mind – to learn about your geographical vicinity and the game and vegetation that you can subsist upon.  I also highly recommend a good book on scats and tracks to be able to identify the game that moves about in your locale.  Keep fighting that good fight, cook all your wild game until it’s well done, and be safe!  JJ out!

 

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

The Beginners Guide to Hunting

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ReadyNutrition Readers, this is kind of a sensitive subject: hunting for food.  The article is designed to help those who either actively hunt and/or for those who would hunt if it was necessary to survive.  Part of pioneer spirit and resourcefulness is to consider all avenues to a thing to succeed, and our forefathers certainly hunted for their food.  Even though many of the colonists were farmers and ranchers, game was hunted to provide for their tables.

I do want to give you my own personal viewpoints on hunting, as simple as they are:

  1. I do not “trophy” hunt: it’s only for meat, and only when my freezer is about emptied.
  2. I use the whole animal: as much of it as I can, without wasting any of it…I don’t feel I have the right to waste any of it.
  3. I hunt for food and do not derive any pleasure or satisfaction whatsoever in killing the animal I’ve hunted.
  4. I am 100% responsible for the safety of those around me when I hunt: those who I see and those who I do not see…who may be within the range of my firearm?
  5. Every bullet that leaves the muzzle is placed exactly where I want it, and it must be that way – no exceptions. Read more about the 10 commandments of handling firearms.

Setting Hunting Objectives and Standards

These things being mentioned, it is important to define for yourself objectives and goals, as well as standards prior to your hunting excursions.  What game are you hunting?  Ground-dwelling animals, or birds, and if the latter, are they waterfowl?  These considerations are important for your selection of a firearm, as well as the technique you will employ when using it.  If you haven’t hunted before, you’ll find there’s a lot more to it than you imagined.  Hunting is not a “singular” skill but blends many different skills in the pursuit of an objective.

You must learn to identify tracks and how to track (there’s a difference).  You must learn how to forecast weather and how to hunt with in it.  You need some basics on ballistics and firearms, and when you finally arrive on a selection of your firearm?  You must know it akin to the back of your hand: everything about that rifle relevant to function, cleaning, and positive/negative factors needs to be known by you.

You must learn first aid: for yourself and others.  Remember: it is not just a matter of you shooting someone by mistake, may God forbid it.  You may be stalking a deer in the brush and slip on rocks, hurting yourself badly.  Then it morphs from a simple hunting excursion into a grim battle for survival.  You must know how to dress out, cure, skin, and butcher the game that you shoot.

Two guys who had never hunted went out and bagged a deer.  They dragged the deer by the hind legs, and the antlers were getting caught in the underbrush.  After about a half a mile of this, one said, “Hey, why don’t we pull him from the other side?”  The two men nodded at one another and commenced to drag the deer by the antlers.  The second man said, “Yeah, good idea.  Dragging him this way is a lot easier.”  The first man said, “Yeah, it is, but…we’re getting further and further away from the car!”

This is homesteading.  This is survival.

You must know the habits and ways of the animals or birds you’re hunting.  There are a lot of big advantages to hunting that are mutually beneficial to the hunter and the environment.  During the wintertime, many deer (especially here in Montana) have a terrible time with browsing and foraging for food, and many do indeed starve to death.  The population of deer is not in a decline.  Hunting does “thin out” the herds and enable the animals to have more resources than if the herds were to be left unchecked.

The forestry service does (at least here in Montana) a tremendous amount in terms of conservation.  The whole thing is more than just “hunter and hunted,” but is an actual symbiosis where (with the proper checks and balances) humans can secure more than enough meat to eat, at the same time keeping the herds from growing unmanaged.  If you know anything about deer, you know that in the spring when you’ve planted your garden that they will eat it all up as soon as the shoots poke out of the ground.

When you hunt, you can secure a large quantity of meat to throw some in the freezer, to smoke some of it, and to home-can the rest.  This is prepping.  This is homesteading.  This is survival.  There is a way to maintain a balance with nature: the respect for the animal and the utilization of all that he has, for the purpose of eliminating/reducing any waste.  This is conservation, because you and your family have the right to provide for yourselves, as well.  Read Eric Schlosser’s “Fast Food Nationto remove any obstacles of thought that may allow a person to feel “cleaner” or “better” when they’re munching on that Double Quarter Pounder with extra cheese, extra onion.  The book, not the movie; the movie was nothing compared to the book.

Hunting is not a step backward: it is a big step back toward reclaiming the heritage that is ours – yours and mine – of when Americans were not only socially conscious but self-sufficient.  Soon we will cover some different types of firearms and recommend certain calibers and models for different types of game.  Until then, do some research and homework on what types of game you have in your area, and how you would plan on hunting it for your table and your supplies.  Be safe, take care of one another, and keep up the good fight!  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Thriving When It Counts: How To Use Bug Infested Food

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It is a fact that bugs in all of their life cycles can be harmful to your stored food sources. They are one of the true enemies of your food supply and can usually be avoided by properly storing food for long-term use. But there are times when they find a way to get into your food supply. While these infestations may prevent humans from consuming it, take comfort in knowing that all is not lost! But first, the facts!

Pantry pests damage food by contaminating it with their bodies and their by-products. According to an integrated pest management system, nearly all dried food products are susceptible to insect infestation, including cereal products (grains, oats, cornmeal, rice, spaghetti, crackers, and cookies); seeds such as dried beans and popcorn; nuts; chocolate; raisins and other dried fruits; spices; powdered milk; tea; and cured meats.

The Usual Suspects

  • The larval stage of the Indianmeal moth produces frass (excrement) and webbing, and some beetle larvae produce secretions that give food a disagreeable odor and taste.
  • Setae (hairs) from the warehouse beetle can irritate the mouth, throat, and stomach of people who eat infested products.
  • In addition, pantry pests might introduce microbes into the food that could produce mycotoxins (highly carcinogenic compounds), especially if the food is stored in warm, humid conditions.

In The Prepper’s Cookbook, it was emphasized that insects are most likely to infest food products that have been opened but are also capable of penetrating unopened paper, thin cardboard, and plastic, foil, or cellophane-wrapped packages. They may chew their way into packages or crawl in through folds and seams. Insects within an infested package begin multiplying and can spread to other stored foods not only in the same area but in other rooms in a home. All stages (egg, larva, pupa, and adult) may be present simultaneously in infested products. Source

That said, there are times that even though all precautions are taken at preserving your food supply, sometimes bug infestations happen. Here are some ways to reuse food that has been infested.

A Bold New Approach to Feeding Livestock

While infested food may be less palatable in certain circumstances, some dry goods can be fed to livestock. Dry grains and cereals are already given to chickens, goats, pigs and cattle as a nutritional supplement. As well, many animals naturally gravitate to ingesting bugs. Goats, chickens, pigs and even cows.

Infested dry beans can also be incorporated into livestock’s diet. Edible beans (e.g. navy, pinto, kidney) that are shrunken, broken and/or discolored will not make the grade for human consumption and may make their way into cattle rations for added protein. In an article on the subject, researchers believe that certain bug infested grains and foods can be fed to livestock for added nutrition.

A new article in the journal Animal Feed Science and Technology notes that insects literally breed like flies and are highly efficient (because they are cold-blooded) at converting their feed into body mass. Though it may need to be supplemented with calcium and other nutrients, that body mass is rich in the proteins and fats animals need. But the best part—questions of squeamishness aside—is that insects can thrive on manure and other waste.

The article reviews the state of research on livestock use of locusts, grasshoppers, crickets, black soldier fly larvae, housefly maggots, mealworms, and silkworms. Each has advantages and disadvantages in different habitats and for different species, but together they offer a battery of alternatives to conventional soybean and fishmeal feed.

Black soldier fly larvae are already commonly sold as pet food and fish bait. Studies suggest that pigs and poultry could do as well or better on a larvae-based feed as on soybean and fishmeal feeds. The larvae could also be a practical alternative on fish farms, particularly where customers object to feeding fish other fish. For some fish and for poultry, eating insects may also be a lot closer to their natural diet than are conventional livestock feeds.

Source

Note: this is not to be confused with feeding livestock moldy food. Doing so can introduce toxins to the livestock that can make them ill and possibly die. Moreover, molded feed contains fungal spores that, if inhaled, can cause a myriad of health issues such as respiratory allergies, or a type of pneumonia that prevents oxygen from getting into the bloodstream.

Why This Approach is Brilliant!

Farmers raising livestock for meat have been on the look out for ways to introduce for nturiets to the animals diets and cut down on feed costs. This sustainable approach could be the answer they have been looking for. A meal ground from infested grains and cereals can be fed to livestock and will drastically cut down on feed costs. As well, one can consider growing fodder to further supplement the livestock diet.

Using this “insect meal” is also beneficial in an organic garden and add needed nutrients to the soil. This promotes a more sustainable gardening method.

To ensure a healthy transition into this alternative food source, research what types of food pests could be added to your livestock’s diet beforehand. This could be a great way to add additional nutrition to the livestock’s diet and make better use of the food you would otherwise throw away.

According to Science Magazine, “regulatory agencies are beginning to weigh the benefits against potential safety risks, including the possibility that insects might accumulate environmental toxins or even transmit diseases to the farm animals that eat them. On 8 October, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in Parma, Italy, released its first report on the risks of using insects as food and animal feed. It concluded that the risks depend on the insect species used—and that more studies like PROteINSECT are needed before livestock or fish are switched to this new diet. But in other countries, the brave new world of industrial-scale insect farming is already on view.”

 

Recommended Reading:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/insects/find/insect-pests-of-stored-food/

http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7452.html

http://www.chowhound.com/post/bugs-rice-edible-301992

 

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Three Underrated Alternative Energy Options You Can Find in Your Home

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Green Home
Sure, there are plenty of alternatives to fossil fuels:  most people have heard of solar cells, wind and battery power, but there are other energy options as well. Some of them are a few years away from being viable in the US, but many of them could be excellent candidates if a little more research and funds are invested now. Here are three of the most familiar, yet underrated, energy options.

Cooking Oil

There are reports of cooking oil being used as a fuel source as far back as 1896, and peanut oil was used to power diesel engines throughout the turn of the century. But there hasn’t been much of a desire to move further into the realm of using cooking oil for fuel; the issue that makes vegetable oil a less popular or likely choice is largely availability. Though the US alone produces more than 2.5 billion pounds of grease through restaurants and other industries, there are some regions where the byproduct is simply not available. Shipping drives up the cost and makes other resources more attractive. However, for those who DO have a readily available supply (such as farmers or restaurant owners), cooking oil can provide up to 25% of the energy needed to run these establishments. An investment in a special generator up front can allow these businesses to turn their used oils into energy and also cut down the cost of oil disposal (which can cost upwards of $75 a month) in the process. Best of all, cooking oil is completely renewable and burns cleaner than fossil fuels.

Garbage

Incineration, or the burning of garbage, has been around for centuries; however, the process is not as simple as merely torching trash and being done with it. Incineration produces pollutants such as dioxin and releases them into the air. One way around this issue is to create special waste-to-energy plants that control the release of hazardous air pollutants.

Estonia has facilities that meet these requirements and they recently made headlines when they imported 62,000 tons of garbage from other European nations for use in their power plant in Iru. Sweden also produces more than 60% of their energy using renewable resources (primarily a combination of wind power and waste-to-energy). Currently, the United States has 87 waste-to-energy plants that generate approximately 2,720 megawatts, or about 0.4 percent of total US power generation. In European countries there are more government incentives and business benefits to utilizing alternative energy resources, but in the US we’re still much more reliant on our traditional sources. We don’t yet have the infrastructure to make the strides that Estonia or Sweden have, but as these and other European countries continue to develop these methods, they can serve as a model for future areas of exploration.

Poop!

Yes, that’s right: human and animal feces can be used as a source of energy. When processed through bioreactors that are equipped at removing the natural gas from waste, this method is efficient and (after initial startup costs) affordable.

The specialized bioreactors work by feeding solid human and animal waste into chambers full of bacteria. The bacteria eat any remaining nutrients in the waste and release natural gas that we can use as fuel. It’s also possible to convert solid waste into hydrogen and other gasses for various uses. Toyota’s Fukuoka plant in Japan has been experimenting with biogas-turned-hydrogen for fueling a new fleet of vehicles. Hydrogen vehicles are currently available in the United States as well, but they are expensive and the filling stations are rare at this point. Scientists at UCLA are hoping that “brown energy” continues to develop in the US because the benefits are so great and the source material is, ahem, endlessly available.

 

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Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

6 Fall Plants to Get Planted Now

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fall-gardenThe weather is getting colder, but that doesn’t mean your gardening plans are thwarted. There are distinct benefits to planting some things in the autumn months: the temperature is cooler, the soil is still quite warm, there is more moisture in the soil and there are more good weather days for planting (as compared to the spring when sudden thunderstorms threaten your gardening days and wet the soil too much). In addition, you can cash in on discounts at your local gardening center as they try to move the last of their merchandise before winter. The ideal time to plant in the fall ends about 6 weeks before the first frost, usually in mid-to-late October.

The following are the ideal plants to get into the ground during the fall months:

Spring Bulbs

Spring bulbs actually require a period of cold in order to bloom. Plant bulbs in the fall in order to guarantee blooms for spring. If you have issues with deer in the autumn months, try planting allium, English bluebell, dog’s-tooth violet, or snowdrop bulbs.

Pansies

Pansies are ideal for planting in the autumn months because their roots thrive in the still-warm soil. You’ll get to enjoy them for two seasons if you plant them in September/October. Keep the soil wet and remove spent flowers so the pansy doesn’t use any effort to set its seeds. Once the soil freezes, mulch to prevent alternating freezing and thawing cycles that can eject plants from the soil.

Turfgrass

Cool-season turfgrass is most successful when soil temperature is between 50 and 65 degrees. Planting in September/October ensures that the roots will take adequate hold before the first frost, when growth slows dramatically. Cool-season turfgrass includes Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, tall fescue, and fine fescue.

Cool Season Veggies

Many vegetables thrive in cooler months (namely broccoli Brussels sprouts, cabbage, radishes and carrots), but they must be planted by late August. Veggies that perform the best when planted during the fall include lettuce, spinach, and other greens with a short harvesting time such as collards and swiss chard. Another benefit of growing these vegetables is that they don’t need a whole lot of space and can be crowded into smaller areas with partial shade.

Trees and Shrubs

Planting from early September to late-October offers many advantages to certain trees and shrubs. Transpiration is low and root generation is at an all-time high during these months. Typically, plants with shallow, fibrous root systems can be planted easier in the fall than those with fewer, larger roots. Trees that can be successfully planted in the autumn months include alder, crabapple, ash, buckeye, catalpa, hackberry, hawthorn, honey locust, elm, Kentucky coffee tree, linden, maple, sycamore, pines, and spruces. Most deciduous shrubs can easily be planted in fall.

Cover Crops

Even though it is Fall, it does not mean you should neglect your garden. Now is the perfect time to get your garden cleaned up and ready for the Spring. Master gardeners like to plant cover crops to help add nutrients to the soil during the winter months. Cover crops such as fall rye, crimson clover, buckwheat and others are easy to grow. Here’s how they work: when they are digested by soil microorganisms they restore organic matter and nutrient levels in the soil. Because they are sown thickly, they also help to outcompete weeds. Cover crops also control erosion from heavy winter rains, and help prevent the soil from compacting over winter. Depending on your growing region, some cover crops will die during the coldest weather. The crop residue is still a valued supplement in the spring. Check with your favorite gardening website to see if they carry these organic cover crops.

Take advantage of the nice fall temperatures and get your garden growing! For more information about gardening in general, check out the 7 Laws of Gardening: Time-Tested Tips For Growing a Successful Garden.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Natural Medicine: How to Make Your Own Tinctures, Part 1

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 ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, we’re going to delve in the exciting and fascinating world of herbal tinctures.  There are many reasons for making tinctures.  The foremost are:

They are simple and relatively inexpensive, and they are an excellent way for you to preserve the naturopathic herbs that you wish for your supplies on a day-to-day basis and for when the SHTF.  We’re going to give you the basic fundamentals here that you need to get started.

Basic Terminology

Let’s cover a few basic terms you’ll need to keep in mind:

Menstruum – a solvent, in this case with tinctures, alcohol and water that you use to extract the soluble and viable components and constituents of an herb.

Marc – taken from the French marcher, as “to trample,” this is the solid and insoluble matter remaining after you extract an herb’s soluble components.

Tinctures – primarily alcohol or water/alcohol solutions that are created from dried or fresh plants, although they can also be made from vinegar, wine, or glycerin as a base.  Glycerin is a special case, though, as the solutions you make are referred to as glycerites or glycerates, as they have properties that vary from a standard tincture that we’ll cover in Part 2.  The USP (United States Pharmacopoeia) only recognizes tinctures with either alcohol and water or alcohol alone.

Herb Ratios

Now you’re going to need some ratios for herbs.  The International Protocol adopted in Brussels, Belgium in 1902 established these ratios of herbs to menstrua, that is to say, the amount of herb and the amount of menstruum (solvent) for it:

  1. Tinctures of dried plants represent the activity of 20 grams (g) of dried herb in each 100 cc of tincture.  This yields a 20% or 1:5 weight volume (w/v) tincture.
  1. Tinctures of dried toxic or intense plants hold the activity of 10 g of dried herb in each 100 cc of tincture. This is referred to as a 10% or 1:10 w/v tincture.
  1. Tinctures of fresh plants represent the activity of 50 g of fresh herb in each 100 cc (a 50% or 1:2 w/v tincture). The menstruum used in this case is undiluted ethyl alcohol, as with grain alcohol (190 proof).  Note: “proof” when you divide the number by 2 yields your percentage/concentration of alcohol, in this case 95%.

Example: What this means is that if you tincture a dried Dandelion tincture and take 100 cc (the ccs are equivalent to milliliters, or ml) at a 1:5 ratio, you will receive the same actions as if you ate 20 grams (g) of the dried dandelion.

The weight (the weight of the herb) to the volume (of the menstruum) is the w/v method you should be using.  This by far is your most accurate method for delivery of the component parts of the herb.

When tincturing fresh herbs, you want to macerate (chop) them into small pieces.  For dried herbs, you want to grind them into a moderately coarse powder (mcp).

We’re going to give you what you need to get started, and in the second part we’ll cover the finer parts of dosage calculation and adjustments of the menstruum.  For right now, we’re going to use that straight-up 190 proof grain alcohol as your solvent to create the tincture solution.  JJ uses this for most of his creations, bringing us to other reasons to tincture:

  • Tinctures will usually preserve the med the longest in your herbal solutions, on average at least 3 years…the longest preservation method there is available from your own hands.
  • Tinctures with high alcohol contents (you can look up a chart on the Internet) do not freeze, or freeze at ridiculously-low temperatures, such as 75 degrees below zero. With that 95% alcohol content in the grain alcohol, your tincture will not freeze, thereby saving your bottle and saving you a tincture and a lot of grief.

Making the Tincture

Here are the steps to tincturing your herb:

  1. Chop your fresh herb/grind your dried herb.
  2. Place it into a large jar that can be sealed up tightly, filling it to the top with fresh, and ¾ full with the dry.
  3. Add your menstruum. With the fresh, all the way to the top.  With the dried, about ¼” above the top of the herb.
  4. Clean off your rim and lid of the jar, and then put on your lid, and tighten it securely.
  5. Agitate/shake your jar (JJ does it 100 times in the morning, 100 times before beddy-bye), never unsealing the lid…and do this for 14 days. You need to keep this jar in a cool, dry place where no light hits it…in a cupboard will do nicely. Do not open the jar before the 14 days are done!
  6. After the 14 days, decant your liquid carefully into a brown or blue bottle or bottles. Take your marc and press it (a coffee filter works for this…double ‘em up if needed) and pour the liquid from this into your tincture bottle(s).
  7. Filter the liquid if desired (JJ does not: get all of that good, agitated residue…it’ll help)
  8. Bottle your newly-made tincture, cap it tightly, and label it.

Your label should include who made it (that’s you!), the date it was completed, and

Exactly what herb (common name and scientific name), as well as the ratio and what the menstruum is made from.  You can utilize the w/v method to accurately learn how much herb you’re placing in your jar prior to agitation, as well as the volume of liquid menstruum to come up with your ratio in accordance with what was mentioned in the w/v paragraph above.

That’ll get you started!  You need to research your herbs thoroughly prior to conducting your exercises.  Here are 30 of the most popular herbs to start with. There are many variables, and yes, you need to learn as many of them as you can, especially contraindications and potentially poisonous substances.  Next time we’ll cover some dosage calculation and the finer points of crafting yourself a good supply of herbal aids.  Until next time, keep shaking those jars and keep them in the dark!  JJ out!

 

 

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind this article is for informational purposes only, and does not diagnose, treat, prescribe, or advise any actions or undertakings regarding illness or injury.  Only your physician is qualified and certified to make such decisions.  Consult him or her prior to taking any actions with the information presented here.

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How to Select the Best Grow Light for Your Indoor Garden

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plantWith the price of food on a steady incline, more people are making an effort to grow their own food sources at home. While having a functioning garden is easy during the warm summer months, when the days get shorter in the fall, gardeners have to get creative in helping plants grow. Many turn to grow lights to provide plants additional light and time to establish themselves. This indoor gardening trick allows you to bring the benefits of sunshine indoors to make the most of your garden. Here is a list of which plants to grow during each month of the year.

There are, however, a lot of different options when it comes to these lights and it can be overwhelming to pick the right one. The following list will help you identify which grow light will work the best for your needs.

The Best Grow Lights for Your Indoor Garden

Fluorescents

Fluorescent lamps are great because they are inexpensive and readily available. Fluorescent tubes are great for installation under counters or on ledges and shelves. They provide enough light for seedlings, herbs, vegetables and some small house plants like African violets; however, they fluorescent tubes may not provide enough light for larger flowering plants or buds.

Compact Fluorescent Systems, on the other hand, are quite bright and can be used for growing most plants. Though the initial investment is a bit more up front, CFSs last up to 10 times as long as incandescent bulbs while only using a third of the electricity.

Incandescent Lamps

Incandescent lamps are affordable and can be bought at most hardware stores. They are sufficient for growing herbs or small houseplants, but they are not always a strong enough light source for growing vegetables.

High Intensity Discharge Bulbs

HID Bulbs are very bright and very efficient, but they are also quite expensive. There are a few different types of HID bulbs available, including High Pressure Sodium, Low Pressure Sodium, Metal Halide, and Mercury Vapor bulbs, though for an indoor garden, you’ll want either the High Pressure Sodium or Metal Halide bulbs (any of the other choices are overkill for what you’re trying to accomplish).

Bulbs aren’t the only things to consider when purchasing an indoor growing system. You’ll also need to acquire a ballast, cord, and reflector, though there is less variety in these components. You can buy each of these parts separately or as a complete kit. It’s best to price these systems and see what works best for your budget and your needs.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Some Basics on Living a Self-Reliant Lifestyle, Part 2

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 ReadyNutrition Readers, we explored some precepts in the first part of this Self-Reliant Lifestyle Series a few weeks ago.  Part 1 covered a major component of such a lifestyle: identifying the needs of your family before you “jump into the water” and begin the lifestyle. This rule holds true in Part 2, as well, and I’ll repeat these major points I wrote in Part 1 that need to be kept in mind:

  1. Self-reliant lifestyles are going to have a different definition for different people.
  1. Self-reliance means you must provide for and take care of each family member’s needs, especially from a medical/caregiver standpoint.
  1. You must correctly assess what your needs are and realistically pursue a course of action to fulfill those needs in order to be self-reliant.
  1. Self-reliance is still going to leave you reliant on someone.
  1. We can return to the basics of living, and do it in a manner that does not inflict severe pain upon ourselves or our family members in the process of doing it.

These things having been mentioned, we can keep them in mind with this piece.  Now comes a time of some important decisions to be made.  There are too many resources on this site alone to tell you how to develop the most self-sufficient cabin and storehouse for all of your supplies.  Miss Tess Pennington has provided a plethora of resources for you to use in the information you will need to make a plan of action for home canning, gardening, and the like.  I have done pieces on survival medicine and for water procurement that you can research on ReadyNutrition’s archives.

Your Homestead/Retreat Should Provide These 9 Essentials

So really, what you need is an outline to go about planning in accordance with your geographical location, family’s special needs, seasons and times of the year, and the developing situation in your immediate location as well as nationally.  This last part, the situation, you can use this phrase to guide you:

            In order to prepare, you must first be aware.

The economy, and federal, state, and local laws are going to affect a great deal of what you do.  In order to camouflage your activities, you must not so much conform, but you must blend in so that your activities are unnoticed.  In this manner your preps are undiscovered by potentially hostile neighbors and you maintain a proper level of OPSEC, or Operational Security.  We’ll go into this more, as we begin our list.

  1. What kind of home/retreat do you have or are planning to have?  How are you going to provide for heat and fuel to do things such as boil water, cook food and can or preserve your foods?  You must take into account how long your growing season lasts, as well as how long the winter is in your locale.
  2. Each person requires about one acre of land to produce food for one year, times two. The “times two” factor involves rotation, because after one year of growing and harvesting, you must have a year that the land lies fallow and can be conditioned (with composting and other methods of fertilization) to be able to produce again the following year.  Micro gardening and terraced gardening along with greenhouses are your solution to this.
  3. Protein. Are you going to raise a whole lot of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, and other livestock?  Do you have enough forage and arable grazing land to sustain them?  Do you have the capabilities of slaughtering, preserving the meat, and replenishing your stock?  What are your family’s food needs in terms of protein?
  4. Hunting for your protein. Hunting and fishing may play a major part in your family’s sustainment if you are not going to raise livestock, and if you are going to raise it and cannot sustain it with arable land after the SHTF.  Are fish and game abundant in your area, and do you know their seasons and migratory patterns?  All of these questions are “food for thought” in order to help you plan for your family’s food needs.
  5. Solar/Geothermal/Wind/Water. What will be your heat and power sources?  Have you assessed what is within your budget, and how long you will be able to use your system?  Montana is a good example, because solar power goes out the window (literally) at times when there is little sun and a ton of snow and ice that need to be cleared from your panels during the winter months.  Geographical location and severity of the winter are factors that are crucial to determine your plan of action in this regard.
  6. Herb Garden. Do you have an herb garden that is not just for a savory meal, but for medicinal herbs?  This must be grown especially with the needs of any medically-dependent family members with special needs.  Do you have mugwort, Jerusalem artichoke, and juniper that is growing that can be used to make homeopathic solutions for a diabetic in the family?  Do you have Echinacea, oregano, lomatium, garlic, and other herbs for viral and bacterial infections growing in a controlled environment?
  7. Water. This is a biggie, because I outlined a rain catchment system for your use in previous articles.  This is where you have to know all of your existing laws in your locale.  Is it illegal to take the rain?  Well, guess what?  The way around this is to have the system in place and operational but not operating.  When it hits the fan, you probably won’t need to consult with a lawyer, and you can begin to harvest the water.  There needs to be a plan for obtaining water during the summer months and during the winter, because temperature doesn’t change the fact that each person needs 1-2 gallons per day, and don’t forget about any animals that you have, either as pets or as livestock.
  8. Waste. Human and animal waste (with the exception of the latter being cats, as they carry Toxoplasmosis in their stool) can be composted.  Once again, if you live in an area that prohibits such activity, you have to take this into account…and perhaps have a system ready to go at a moment’s notice after the SHTF.  The same for garbage.  It needs to be either recycled (such as aluminum foil, plastic bags, plastic bottles, steel cans) or used as fuel in a woodstove, or if it’s biodegradable then into the compost bin it must go.  The legal consideration exists until the SHTF, so know your local laws.
  9. With whom?  Who can you trust?  This is part of self-sufficiency, because the tenet “No man is an island” holds.  You will be self-sufficient to a point: we are a social creature with needs of interaction with others.  It would behoove you to develop your network of those who are trustworthy now.  I stress one point that may sound mean, but it serves a purpose, that being your survival:  Don’t just link up with people because they’re “nice” people: they have to have either some skill or something they produce that can contribute or be exchanged for your skills or products…or else they’re just a liability…or worse.

Regarding this last statement, I highly recommend watching “The Shelter,” an episode of the old “Twilight Zone” series, where a family builds a bomb shelter, and an air-raid comes about.  Watch the reaction of the neighbors and how things “morph” into a very bad situation indeed.  Having served in some very nasty areas of the world with the military, I have seen firsthand how these situations develop in the blink of an eye, so be forewarned that they can and will occur!

Skills, skills, skills.  You need skills…to develop the ones that already exist, and learn new ones that you don’t yet have.  Gunsmithing.  Can you reload?  Can you fix the firearms that are in need of repair?  Basic Mechanics.  Can you change the brakes on your vehicle?  Change your tires?  Put in a new battery?  Change the fluids?  Put in a new alternator or distributor?

Medicine.  Do you know how to give an IV?  Can you diagnose a life-threatening condition such as ectopic pregnancy?  Can you give CPR?  Do you know how to treat a patient for shock, as well as the injury he or she has sustained.  Herbalism.  Do you know how to dry and tincture herbs?  Do you know how to find herbs (wild-craft) that are medicinal in nature in your own backyard?  Do you know what herbs are nutritious and edible?

I could go on, but the point I’m trying to impress is that in order to live a self-sustained lifestyle, you have to be the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.  You must be a jack of all trades and a master of all.  You must wear many hats, and assume the role in each hat, and take up another hat when another role comes along that you must fulfill.  In order to be self-sufficient you must prepare.  We had a very good saying that a First Sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division used to say all the time that holds true, and it can serve you well here:

            How you train in peace is how you’ll fight in war.

Very true, and I know I’ve mentioned it before.  It is true, and it is important for us as preppers and survivalists.  In order to live a self-sustained existence, you must prepare, and practice what it is that needs to be done…so that you can actually do it and not just have it stored away in a book or in your files.  Hope this piece helps you to organize, and we welcome any comments or suggestions you may have.  Keep up the good work, and have a great day!

 

JJ

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

5 Reasons Why Some Are More Prone To Mosquito Bites Than Others

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mosquitoMy husband always jokes that mosquitos like him because he’s so sweet (thereby implying that I am mean because I almost never get bit). It’s a joke, but there’s definitely something to it. We can go outside and I’m completely fine while he’s covered in bites.

This begs the questions, why are some people more prone to mosquito bites than others? It turns out there are reasons why and knowing what they are could prevent future bites. In this time of the Zika virus and other serious mosquito-borne illnesses, it pays to understand a little about what make someone a mosquito magnet.

5 Reasons Why Some Are More Prone To Mosquito Bites Than Others

Clothing

Mosquitos are visual insects and they are drawn toward the color red, along with darker colors like black, navy, and brown. It may be to your advantage to wear light colors, especially during dusk and other times when mosquitoes are more active.

Blood Type

Research shows that people with Type O blood attract more than twice as many mosquitos as those with Type A blood (Type B blood attracted a med-range of these two).  I’m type A- and my husband is O, so this definitely explains some of his popularity with mosquitos.

Beer

In one study researchers found that significantly more mosquitoes landed on people who had recently imbibed a beer than on those who did not. Maybe choose a glass of wine or refrain altogether at that next BBQ if your goal is to avoid mosquitos.

Warm Bodies

Mosquitos are attracted to warm bodies. They are drawn to the heat and also the scent of sweat, so if you tend to run hot, beware.

Pregnancy

Mosquitos love pregnant women. Researchers believe this is largely due to the fact that pregnant women secrete more carbon dioxide that non-pregnant people and the mosquitos use CO2 as a way to determine the location of their hosts. Pregnant women also tend to have higher temperatures, which goes along with the warm body point above. This is particularly alarming since the recent Zika virus outbreak. Pregnant women are encouraged to wear long sleeves, bug repellent, and to avoid being outdoors in areas where mosquitoes congregate.

So my husband may be sweet, but it’s more a matter of these particulars that make people mosquito magnets. Stay safe and exercise caution at that late summer BBQ. It’s not just annoying—mosquitos could seriously affect your health

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Create Your Own Butterfly Kingdom with this Child-Friendly Project

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butterflyAs part of my ongoing summer effort to get my kids outside and keep them there, we recently constructed a butterfly haven. Butterflies are an excellent addition to any backyard or garden and attracting them is easy and doesn’t require much space. They gravitate toward bright colors and like to congregate in moist spots because they search for salt and other minerals in damp environs. Kids of all ages will get a kick out of building a haven and observing all of the butterflies that stop by to visit.

To build your own butterfly haven you will need:

  • A pie plate
  • Potting soil
  • Some flat rocks (these will weigh down the pie plate)
  • A few sponges in various bright colors
  • A pair of scissors
  • Water

How to Construct Your Butterfly Haven

Step one: Spread potting soil all in the bottom of the pie plate.

Step two: Arrange the rocks in the pie plate, making sure the entire plate is weighted.

Step three: Use the scissors to cut the sponges into shapes of all different sizes. Place the sponges between the rocks, so that all of the soil is covered.

Step four: Wet the sponges all the way through so the water seeps down into the potting soil. There shouldn’t be any standing water in the pie plate, but the sponges should be very wet.

Step five: Place your butterfly haven in the sun near other brightly colored flowers. Make sure your haven stays moist by watering it every other day or so.

That’s all there is to it! Once butterflies start to visit your haven, a book like this will provide a handy reference for determining which types of butterflies are visiting you. This is a great way to teach your kiddos the importance that butterflies and moths bring to the garden and world around them.

You can sit with your children and take photographs of the butterflies for them or you can give your child crayons and paper and have them sketch the different butterflies they see. Older kids might make a grid to record information such as the time of day when most butterflies frequent the haven and how long they stick around.

 

 

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Grow Your Own Lemon Tree

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 Lemons are such a versatile fruit—especially for summer time foods. They’re great squeezed over fresh fish, mixed into iced tea, or as an accompaniment to your favorite cocktail. Lemon trees are very pretty to look at and they are among the easiest citrus fruits to grow yourself—though you should note that lemon trees thrive in temperatures around 70 degrees—if it’s much hotter or cooler than that in your backyard, you might want to tackle a different planting project!

Lemon trees make wonderful potted plants to have on your patio garden and will be easy to access from the kitchen! With a little bit of effort, you could be using homegrown lemons in your drinks and recipes in just a few months.

Start a Lemon Tree in Seconds

Before you start, you’ll want to make sure that you are using a seed from an organic lemon as non-organic lemons typically have non-germinating seeds that will not grow. You’ll also need a seed pot, a larger planter pot, some plastic wrap, and fertile soil.

Step 1: Work With Damp Soil

Lemons need very moist soil so before planting, you’ll need to properly and thoroughly moisten the potting soil. Because lemon trees have a tendency to dry out, make sure you don’t skip this step (but also don’t overdo it—keep the soil damp but not watery).

Step 2: Add the Soil to Your Seedling Pot

Fill your smaller seedling pot with soil, leaving a small gap (1-2 inches) at the top

Step 3: Pick and Plant Your Seed

Take your organic lemon and squeeze out the juice and seeds into a bowl. Pick the seed that looks the largest and heartiest. Plant your seed a half an inch below the surface of the soil in your seedling pot. Water the soil immediately afterward.

Step 4: Put Plastic Over the Pot (or not!)

Like all citrus plants, lemon trees flourish in warm climates. You’ll want to cover your pot with plastic (regular cling wrap will work but you’ll need to poke several tiny holes in it so that it air can circulate). Be careful that you do not overheat or dry out the soil—if you believe that it is warm enough in the space where your seedling is planted, you might not need the plastic cover.

Step 5: Transfer the Seedling to a Larger Pot

Once the seedling sprouts, you can transfer the seedling into the larger pot that will become your lemon tree’s permanent home. If you’ve been using the plastic cover on your seeding, you can continue to do so once the transfer is made. Once your tree starts to really gain height, you can place the planter outside for a few hours each day so that the tree gets proper sunlight. You’ll know your conditions are ideal when your fruit starts to grow! Also, remember to give your new lemon tree some citrus fertilizer to give it the best growing conditions.

If you want to bypass the seed process, there lemon trees are usually readily available at commercial garden stores and you can even order them online, but you won’t have as much control over what growing medium will be used. Do some research to find out which lemon tree variety grows best in your neck of the woods.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Black Gold: Add Nutrients to the Garden – The Easy Way!

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 Black gold is a nitrogen and potassium-rich product that improves soil structure, increases plant yield, and has even been known to improve the taste of fruits and vegetables grown with it. It doesn’t require wasteful packaging and it’s made without chemicals or other harmful industrial additives. So where do you purchase this miracle product for your own garden?  The answer may surprise you.

Black gold is the product of vermicomposting—or, in simple terms, it’s the rich, black stuff that comes out the back end of a worm. This so-called “super soil” has many benefits and it only takes a little bit of work to build your own worm farm and start getting a constant supply. Soon you’ll have thousands of tiny employees helping your garden to grow—they are humble and work hard, twenty-four hours a day. Best of all—worms do their work for free!

To build your own worm farm you’ll need:

– A drill

– Two plastic storage bins with snap on lids (make sure they are opaque)

 – A small flowerpot or a brick

– Some old newspapers and household food waste (aka worm food)

And don’t forget the critical ingredient:

– Worms! Eisenia fetida are common earthworms sold by the pound at most gardening centers. If you have trouble finding them, your local bait shop is your next best bet. You don’t need a ton of worms to start a home worm farm. A pound will yield approximately 1,000 worms. They reproduce quickly and are hearty and adaptable to many environments.

  • Drill out holes on one of the bins. Mark some holes around all four sides of the top of one bin with a pencil. Then mark out about 20 holes in the bottom and the top of the bin. Once you’re happy with the placement of the holed, drill them out. A 3/32” drip bit works best for the lid and sides while a larger bit (3/16or so) works best for the bottom. Leave the other bin free of holes.
  • Stack the bins. Put a flowerpot or brick in the undrilled bin and stack the drilled bin on top of it. This allows some space for the liquid to drain out of the top bin into the one below.
  • Prepare the bedding. Shredded newspapers work very well, as do pieces of corrugated cardboard—make sure to avoid any pages/sheets with glossy color or tons of ink. Once your bedding is laid out, moisten it with water until it resembles a wet sponge. Don’t overdo it—the bedding should be moist, but still a bit fluffy.
  • Add worm food. There’s no need to buy special worm cuisine. Non-animal, non-dairy table scraps work best. Keep the scraps diverse. Here’s a great article on how to use your food scraps for vermicompost.
  • Add your worm friends! Now that your bin is made up, bury a small amount of food scraps in the newspaper and let your worms loose on it. Worms like the dark, so they’ll likely cover themselves entirely in the table scraps.
  • Cover and protect your worms. Place a few layers of slightly damp newspaper over the top of your worms. Roll up a few more sheets of paper and place them around the edges. This will keep fruit flies from infesting your worm farm and will keep your worms from wandering off. The newspaper cover mimics earth and the worms will fee safe and secure underneath it.

Worms can consume their own weight in food in just one day, so soon enough your worms will be flourishing. You can feed them every day or every couple of weeks, just make sure that there is always food available. Once the worms begin digesting the food scraps, you’ll begin to see black gold in the bin. Being careful of your worm friends, gently scoop out the vermicompost for use in your garden. Over time, some dark liquid will accumulate in the lower bin—this is also an excellent nutrient for your garden and can be diluted with water and sprinkled over houseplants for an extra boost.

Your worms should thrive with little effort from you, aside from feeding them and keeping them in a shady location. Enjoy your new little buddies!

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How To Grow Pineapples Like a Pro!

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pineapple 1Pineapples are delicious and nutritious—they’re great when used in smoothies, muffins, or baked goods (find even more recipes here). They provide 105% of your daily value of Vitamin C, they’re high in Manganese and Thiamin, and studies have shown that three servings per day can prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Pineapples are also hearty, hard-to-kill additions to your garden. If you plant them in the right place they need virtually no care and will thrive.

Grow Pineapples Like a Pro!

Besides the tasty fruit, the flowering plant itself is also very beautiful. Here are the steps for adding pineapples to your garden:

  1. Cut the stem from a store-bought pineapple (be sure to remove all of the fruit flesh as well as the lower leaves). Let the stem cure for a day or two.
  2. Make a small hole in your garden and drop the stem in, pushing the soil around it so that it stays upright and will not tip over. Pineapples don’t need a lot of soil and the soil itself does not have to be high quality. Pineapples are part of the bromeliad family, and like all bromeliads they do not have large root networks. Because of this, you don’t need to worry about having a large space underground; however, beware that pineapples are large and spiky and give them enough room to spread out without bothering your other plants. Pineapples are even content to grow in pots or tubs, so it’s really whatever location you prefer.
  3. Pineapples don’t need a lot of water and they have very tough leaves that don’t lose moisture through evaporation.
  4. Pineapples grow in direct sun, even in extremely hot climates, but they also do well in shaded areas.
  5. Pineapples rely on their leaves for nutrition. If you apply concentrated/artificial fertilizers they will harm your plant. Instead, mix a little compost into the soil if the leaves of your pineapple take on a purple or reddish tinge. Otherwise, your plant is healthy and has all of the nutrients it needs.
  6. Once the pineapple plant flowers you’ll have to wait about 5 months for the fruit to grow and mature. When it’s yellow, it’s ready to pick.

And that’s all there is to it! Pineapples really are ridiculously easy plants to grow and they make an exotic and beautiful addition to any garden.

Pamela Bofferding is a native Texan who now lives with her husband and sons in New York City. She enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing with her dogs.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

How to Ferment Feed for Healthier Chickens

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fermented feedNo doubt that many of you have heard the buzz about keeping your gut healthy with probiotics and fermented foods. Well, a chicken’s health is no different. In fact, the health of a chicken is directly related to how healthy their gut is. If their gut it out of whack, then they can develop illnesses. So taking extra measures to ensure this part of their body is in good shape will go a long ways in terms of the chicken providing you continually with healthy meat and eggs.

Fermenting a chicken’s feed is an inexpensive and easy way to promoting a good gut health and also has some other positive effects..

  • increased absorption of nutrients in feed
  • probiotics in feed will promote overall health of chicken
  • creation of b vitamins like niacin, thiamin and folate
  • naturally increases egg weight and shell thickness
  • stronger immunity

It is said that because the chickens will be receiving more nutrients and vitamins brought on by the fermenting process, they will eat 1/3 to 1/2 less feed! You can go a step further and supplement this with some home grown fodder and will drastically cut down on your livestock feed bill.

Fermenting chicken feed is easy-peasy, here’s what you need:

  • 1 gallon sized glass jar
  • distilled water
  • chicken feed, crumble, and/or oats
  • cheese cloth
  • rubber band

Simply, add the feed and enough water to cover the feed by a few inches and wait a few days. There should be a fermented grain smell (similar to sourdough starter), by the second or third day.

I have used fermented chicken feed with my recent batch of chicks and they prefered the fermented food over the dry feed. It’s a good feeling when you know you are giving your chicks the best start at a healthy life.

Using the process described in the video, you can keep this a small project or make it more large scale by using 5 gallon buckets to ferment the feed. All it takes is three days to start your chickens on a healthier path. As well, other livestock will benefit from this fermentation process, so start experimenting! Best of all, with the extra money you will be saving, you can start some more homesteading projects.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Why Every Prepper Should Have Five Gallon Buckets

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5 gallon bucketsPreppers have a habit of extracting as many uses from any given object as they can, and for good reason. Prepping is an activity that takes up a lot of space, and it’s done to prepare for emergencies that may or may not happen. It’s difficult to justify this activity if it displaces things that you know you’ll need, so preserving space by finding more than one use for your belongings is essential.

Also, it just comes naturally to preppers due to our mindset. We regularly prepare for chaotic and desperate situations that require improvisation and creativity to survive. Coming up with multiple uses for an item is child’s play for us.

However, some things are better suited to being modified for multiple purposes. Everyone knows that duct tape and paracord can be used for countless applications, but there’s another item that has nearly as many uses, and that is the humble five gallon bucket. Here are just a few of the ways you can use this simple product:

  1. Use them for carrying water, washing clothes, or harvesting rain water.
  2. Food grade buckets are also quite versatile. You can use them to store dry goods such as rice, beans, flour, or even dog food. Or since plastic is a fairly good insulator, you can use them as a cooler to store perishable food.
  3. If you own anything that needs to be buried for short periods of time, five gallon buckets can help.
  4. You can use them to build gardens, worm composting bins, or composting toilets.
  5. They’re great for storing any supplies that shouldn’t get wet, such as charcoal, paper towels, or kindling.
  6. With a few modifications, these buckets can be made into biosand filters for cleaning water, or you can drill holes in a bucket to make an improvised camp shower. If you’re exceptionally handy and live near running water, you can even build a hydroelectric generator out of a five gallon bucket.
  7. And of course there are a few odd tasks for five gallon buckets that most people would never consider. They can be turned into very effective mouse traps, and with the right gear they can even be used as backpacks

And to be frank, this is just a short list. Five gallon buckets are arguably one of the most versatile tools for a prepper, and their applications are endless. They’re also cheap and plentiful, and you can often get them for free from friends, neighbors, and local businesses. I’d be so bold as to say that you’re not really prepared unless you have a short stack of these buckets somewhere in your home.

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

Garden Hack: Make Your Own Seed Tape

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 Those perfectly uniformed rows of vegetables are next to impossible when you are sowing seeds directly to the soil – until now. This simple garden hack is the most efficient way to make the most of your garden space. As well, it uses biodegradable paper that will add nutrients to the soil when composted.

Gardening couldn’t get any simpler than when I stumbled upon this garden trick. Now I never have to wonder if my seeds have germinated! An added benefit is that I don’t waste as many seeds. This easy, inexpensive way to get your seeds right where you want them is a great project to get the kids involved in gardening too!

Tips to the Perfect Seed Tape:

  • Soak your larger seeds. I have also found that larger seeds like beans or peas can be soaked overnight before being added to the seed tape. This will cut down on the waiting time.
  • Check spacing on the back of the seed packet. Some seeds like a little more room to roam, so make sure you have the right spacing.
  • Use the right paper when making your strips. Make sure you use black and white newspaper as these are less harmful to earthworms and will decompose faster. Paper towels can also be used, but may be a more expensive alternative.
  • Label your seed bags. It’s easy to forget which seeds are which, so pre-label your bags to stay organized.
  • Don’t go crazy on the water. When you are spritzing your seeds, water just enough to thoroughly wet the seed tape. If you over water, you risk the newspaper disintegrating.

Make Your Own Seed Tape

Try this easy diy seed tape and watch how quickly your seeds will sprout!

Here’s what you need:

  • newspaper strips (you can also use paper towels)
  • water spritzing bottle
  • seeds
  • plastic sandwich bag
  • marker to label seeds
  1. Cut strips of newspapers. Cut the newspaper from top to bottom into 1-inch-wide strips and set aside.
  2. Lay the strips on a table and place a single row of seeds along each one. For correct spacing, read the back of the seed packet for specifics. Usually spacing vegetables like peas, radishes, and spring onions need to only be 1 inch apart, but there are other vegetable types will need to be spaced further.
  3. Add another 1 inch strip of newspaper and spritz with a water bottle and saturate the newspaper.
  4. Roll up and gently place in a pre-labeled plastic sandwich bag.
  5. Store in a cool dry place until planting time. You should see germination in as little as a few days or up to a week.
  6. Continue spritzing with water as needed.

Planting your seed tape

When your seed tape has thoroughly sprouted, it’s time to get them planted in the soil. Plant by laying tapes in rows and covering with a fine soil to the recommended depth.


Keep seedlings moist until they have established. In a few weeks, douse them with compost tea or fertilizer.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

6 Organic Mulches That Will Keep Plants Cool This Summer

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mulchMulching your gardens during the warmest summer months will do wonders for growing plants and will encourage a healthier soil environment for your plants to grow. Over time, this creates a biodiverse growing platform that will be the envy of the neighbors. In fact, this is one of the 7 laws of gardening. By doing this crucial step, it reduces evaporation from the soil surface by 25%-50%. This will drastically reduce how often you water and save you money in the process. As well, mulching controls the temperature of soil, shades the roots so they can branch out and grow, controls weeds and prevents soil compaction.

There are two types of mulches: organic and inorganic. In this article I will concentrate on the most popular types of organic mulches and ones that are easily found around the yard. I prefer organic mulches because they improve the soil quality as they decompose; which, in turn, encourages more microscopic activity in the soil. This makes it a more inviting environment for beneficial insects.

Here are some things to keep in mind when using organic mulches:

  • Weed first. By doing all the dirty work ahead of time, you will be less likely to do this during the hottest parts of the summer.
  • Add your soil amendments and fertilizers before you mulch. When you add your soil amendments like powdered oyster shell, compost, manure or green sand to the soil before mulching, you allow it to really penetrate into the soil and give the roots exactly what they need.
  • Don’t by stingy with the mulch. The more mulch you put down, the less likely weeds will grow. Most organic gardeners will put down 4-6 inches of mulch.

You don’t have to run to your garden center and spend a small fortune on these organic mulches, many of these you may have around your yard. Here are seven excellent mulches that will keep your garden thriving!

  1. Grass clippings – Rather than throwing away your grass clippings after you have mowed this lawn, use them to your advantage. This natural mulch will also return nitrogen back to the soil, thus feeding your soil an essential nutrient to keep plants growing. This is also a great addition for lasagna gardens.
  2.  Pine needles – Many of us having a plethora of pine needles and may not realize these make a great mulch. Despite what you may have heard, pine needles will not change the acidity of the soil. They are an ideal mulch because they provide uniformity to the beds, easily allows water to pass through and create air pockets which is beneficial for the soil.
  3. Straw – Straw is an ideal mulch that really does everything an organic mulch should do: retains moisture, reduces weeds and adds organic matter to the soil when it breaks down. Make sure you purchase straw that is weed free.
  4. Shredded leaves – Leaf mulch is a great way to utilize fallen leaves. Read more about which leaves are best for mulch. These make wonderful mulches and have a slow decomposition process. An electric leaf mulcher will chop leaves to a suitable length and cut down on time. Note: Leaves of the black walnut tree (Juglans nigra) are an exception due to the presence of juglone, a chemical that inhibits growth of many plants. While walnut roots and hulls cause most of the problems, the leaves also contain smaller quantities.
  5. Wood chips – By far, wood chips are one of the most popular types of natural mulches. These are readily available at your local garden center, but if you happen to have a downed tree from a storm, make the most of it and retain some of the bark for wood chips. Also, contact local tree-care companies to see if they would be willing to sell you a trunkload of chips at a nominal price.
  6. Newspaper – This is a frugal mulch choice for your garden and a great way to reduce weeds. Using 2 to 4 layers of newspaper strips is great for use in pathways and around newly set strawberry plants. It’s best to use another organic mulch in addition to newspapers, such as sawdust or hay, to hold paper in place.
  7. Living mulches – A living mulch a low-growing plant used in the vegetable garden as a mulch. It is often a companion plant. Some of the most favorite types of living mulches are clovers, hairy vetch, alfalfa and rye grass. Once the garden is put to rest, the living mulch can either be tilled into the soil or harvest and fed to livestock like rabbits or chickens as a treat.

Mulched gardens are healthier, contain fewer weeds, and are more drought-resistant compared to gardens that are not mulched. Done properly, this will make for a more efficient gardening experience and keep you from fighting weeds and pests. Make the most use of the items you have around you and utilize them in garden beds and landscaping rather than throwing them away.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Five Inflammatory Foods That You Should Eat in Moderation

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donutsThese days, most people associate the word ‘inflammation’ with ‘unhealthy.’ Truth be told though, inflammation can be a very good thing. It’s your body’s way of healing. When you’re sick or injured, your body flushes the effected area with blood, immune cells, and nutrients, in an effort to combat pathogens and heal what is damaged. Obviously, this results in pain and discomfort, but in the big scheme of things it is exactly what you need to survive and live a healthy life.

When someone says that inflammation is bad, what they’re really talking about is chronic inflammation, which is a bit more insidious. It doesn’t always make you feel like you’re sick or in pain, but it is highly damaging to your body. Chronic inflammation has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, depression, and even cancer. It can be caused by a lack of sleep, stress, pollution, certain allergies, or a poor diet; and it can add more damage on top of whatever is causing the inflammation.

However, diet is often associated with inflammation more than any other cause. Certain foods and can do a number on your body, and if you’re eating them every day, you may be on the path to an early grave. Foods that you should either eliminate from your diet or consume in moderation include:

White Bread

You’ll find that most foods that are “refined” typically have a higher glycemic index, which causes inflammation. White bread is one of the worst examples. It causes your insulin levels to spike, creating the perfect environment for inflammation to run rampant. Whole grain foods however, can reduce inflammation.

Sugar

Of all the inflammatory foods that you eat, sweeteners are the most notorious. The human body simply did not evolve to process straight sugar. Rather, our digestive systems were made to take sugar in small amounts, preferably bound in whole foods like fruit, which take much longer to digest. The consumption of white sugar gives your body a massive spike in blood sugar, which is highly damaging and inflammatory. Not only that, but refined sugar leads to weight gain, which is also inflammatory. Artificial sugars can also create an immune response, since your body does not recognize them.

Fried Foods

Foods like french fries, potato chips, and donuts are cooked at a high temperature, which creates advanced glycation end products, or AGES. Your body doesn’t recognize these compounds, so they are treated to an immune response upon ingestion. Not only that, but fried foods are also often cooked in vegetable oils, which typically contain very high levels of omega-6 fats. Normally these fats are good for you, but if they’re not balanced with omega-3 fats they are inflammatory.

Alcohol

Not only does alcohol often contain inflammatory gluten and sugar, but by itself it can initiate your body’s immune system. The way your liver breaks down alcohol produces toxins, and alcohol can make your intestines more porous, which allows bacteria to spread throughout the body. On top of that, alcohol can have a devastating effect on the good bacteria in your digestive tract, which plays a significant role in your immune system. Overall, alcohol is pretty hard on your immune system. It weakens your immune response while simultaneously giving your immune system more to fight, both of which can be inflammatory.

Meat and Dairy

While meat and dairy products provide an excellent source of nutrition, they should be consumed in reasonable portions. They both contain saturated fats, which while essential to a healthy diet, are also inflammatory. They contain arachidonic acid, which your body produces naturally when it needs to create inflammation. Meat is especially inflammatory, since like fried foods, it is often cooked at a high temperature which produces AGES. Again, these foods can be quite good for you, and their pros typically outweigh the cons, but only when you don’t go overboard on them.

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

Grow the Heartiest Tomatoes with These Organic Tips

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heirloom tomatoesTomatoes are summer’s gift to the gardener. I simply cannot grow enough tomatoes in one season, so I’ve started growing enough for second, and sometimes third crops. The secret to growing an endless crop of tomatoes during the summer is easy! Follow these organic natural tips and enjoy a juicy crop, perfect for summer salads and fresh sauces.

1. Choose the right location. Tomatoes love bright locations where they receive 10 hours or more of sunlight. Full morning sun is always the best location, but tomatoes will do well with some afternoon sun too. As well, ensure that you have properly spaced your plants.

  • Dwarf varieties should be spaced about 12 inches apart in a row.
  • If you are staking your plants, space them about 24 inches apart.
  • Indeterminate tomatoes should be spaced about 36 to 48 inches apart.

2. Plant tomatoes in multiple locations. When you alternate where you plant your tomatoes, it helps to diminish the risk of soil-borne diseases such as bacterial spot and early blight. One of my favorite gardening resources, Carrots Love Tomatoes: The Secrets to Companion Planting taught me that when you plant companion plants near each other, it also helps to reduce soil-borne diseases, as well as, encourage beneficial bugs to hang around. Here is a list of companion plants for your tomatoes:

  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Borage
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Dill
  • Lettuce
  • Melons
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Peppers
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Thyme

3. Plant them deep! When you plant your tomato seedlings deep, it helps the plant develop a better root system. The extra roots will strengthen the plant so that it can support more fruit and survive hot weather. Gardeners recommend you planting your seedlings up to the first true leaves. If you have heavy soil and cannot dig your hole deeply, you can lay the plant on its side, and cover with dirt (ensure that the hole is at least 5 or 6 inches deep when buried).

4. Prune your tomatoes. I realize that many feel this step is optional, but it really helps. By pruning off any non-fruiting branches, it directs the tomato plant’s energy into growing more tomatoes. Every three weeks, I will prune my tomato plants in the early morning. Doing this step in the morning will help reduce any plant stress.

5. Fertilize! Tomatoes are heavy feeders and require lots of nutrients to produce all of those lovely tomatoes. Adding a layer of balanced organic fertilizer like 8-8-8 during the transplanting process will help shield plants from stress and encourage root growth. When plants begin to put out fruit, fertilize every two or three weeks with fertilizer and then water it in.

As well, consider giving your plants some compost tea. Compost tea takes the beneficial bacteria and fungus present in compost and exponentially increases them through aeration and sugars. These bacteria and fungus are critical in root establishment – and the more bacteria you have in your soil, the better. This all around plant booster helps foliage, increases root development, feeds the soil – you can’t go wrong! I usually make some compost tea once a month to help my plants.

6. Give them some support. Certain tomato varieties can grow over 6 feet high and will require a trellis, staking or tomato cage. The trellis system keeps ripe fruit off the ground, so it’s less susceptible to disease and is easier to harvest. Any garden center will have tomato cages and trellises. The best time to add stakes is during the time you are transplanting. This cuts down on damaging root systems later on.

7. Water them correctly. Last, but not least, is the most important tip of all – correct watering. Tomatoes need deep, yet infrequent watering. This helps cut down on tomato blight. As well, do your best to keep leaves dry.

8. Plant more! Succession planting in three-week intervals will keep you loaded with tomatoes throughout the growing season. As soon as you plant your seedlings, start a new batch of seeds. I usually plant tomatoes two or three times during the summer months.

9. Harvest as soon as they show their colors. Keep an eye on your growing tomatoes and harvest as soon as they color up fully. Birds and other wildlife love tomatoes as much as we do, so pick them as soon as their color comes. You can also pick your tomatoes a little early and allow it to ripen on your kitchen windowsill.

These tips will ensure that your tomato crop will be the best crop yet. Happy gardening!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

5 Ways Trash Helps Grow Your Garden

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compostYou don’t have to spend a fortune at the nursery or garden supply center to have a happy and healthy garden. There are a few things you probably have lying around the house that can put some extra green in your thumb—and many of them are items you might otherwise consider trash!

  • Coffee Grounds: What’s better than starting the day with a strong cup of coffee? Saving those coffee grounds and using them as compost, of course! Coffee grounds are an excellent addition to your garden; simply spread them directly onto the soil. Don’t worry about coffee grounds being acidic—since acid is water-soluble, it stays in your coffee and out of your garden. Coffee grounds improve soil structure and anecdotal evidence suggests that the grounds keep slugs and other pests away. As a bonus, you can even shred used paper coffee filters and throw them into soil as well. These act as a carbon source and make your soil even richer.
  • Toilet Paper Rolls: I’m willing to bet you regularly use toilet paper, and that means you have a steady supply of free seed starter pots at your fingertips. Simply take an empty toilet paper roll and cut it in half. Take one of the halves and cut four slits approximately an inch up the roll. Fold the toilet paper rolls into each other to form the base of the seed pot, using tape to secure. Layer your soil and seed inside. Once the seed is ready to be planted, you can simply cut off the bottom of the toilet paper pot and plant it directly into the soil, where it will break down over time.
  • Lemon Rinds and Eggshells: An even easier, completely natural, no work seed starter is a lemon rind or an egg shell. Just poke a hole into the bottom of wither of these for drainage, sprout seeds and then plan t directly into the soil. The peels and shells will not only break down easily, but they will also provide nourishment to the soil.
  • Beer: Instead of throwing out the dregs of your beer, put them aside in a cup. Once you’ve gathered a few ounces, take the liquid to your garden and make a slug trap. Put some of the beer into a wide, shallow jar buried in the soil. Slugs like beer so much they will crawl right into the jar and drown (not a terrible way to die, IMHO). Empty your slug traps often and prop up a jar top with a stick to prevent rainwater from diluting the beer.
  • Broken Pots: It’s no fun to break a pot, but when accidents happen, find a way to make the most of it. Instead of throwing away broken pieces of ceramic or terracotta, use the shards as plant markers to label the plants in your garden. Identify areas where labels could be helpful, then break the broken pot into enough pieces for your project. Try to keep them roughly the same size for uniformity, but feel free to be as creative as you like. Use a permanent marker or paint that won’t wash off in the elements to write the names of the plants (if your handwriting isn’t great, a stencil might come in handy). Try out a few positions before sticking the label firmly into the ground.

These tips are win-win—you can feel good about minimizing waste and helping your garden at the same time. Happy recycling!

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Straw Bale Gardening: Everything You Wanted to Know for the Best Bounty Ever

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Two years ago, we moved into a house that had an abandoned garden; and to put it bluntly, the garden was in pretty bad shape. The soil was dry, rocky and compacted and there were weeds growing, but I was able to turn it around by conditioning the soil and experimented using a cardboard box gardening theory I was trying out. Since that time, I have added rabbits to our mini homestead and their nutrient-rich poo has turned my garden’s soil into that crumbly, rich dirt we all desperately want. Even though this garden is primed and ready to go, it just isn’t large enough for what I am trying to achieve.

9

This old garden bed has seen better days. Not only is it falling apart, but it doesn’t give me the right space for what I want to achieve.

For years, I have been working on backyard strategies that anyone can use to achieve food freedom to finally break away from the system and my family’s dependence on grocery stores. We have been able to find local meat sources, now it’s time to get enough produce to put away.

Why Straw Bale Gardening Works!

I decided to try my hand at straw bale gardening. It sounded practical enough. In fact, author, Joel Karsten of Straw Bale Gardens Complete, wrote on his website that this gardening method is a game changer. “Minimal maintenance resulting in maximum production, through Straw Bale Gardening.  It will completely change everything you thought you already knew about gardening.”

As well, this raised bed gardening method is very economical. For under $100, we were able to purchase 12 straw bales and extended our garden area by over 20 feet! We also purchased about $30 in organic fertilizers to condition the bales, but if you have the gift of time on your hands, you can bypass this step completely. I’ll get to that a little later.

Not only was I was drawn to this gardening method because it was cheaper, but it was easy for those with physical limitations and took poor soil quality out of the gardening equation. As well, I love natural gardening methods and liked the idea of the bales decomposing as the plants were growing, thus giving them essential nutrients in the process.

How it works

In short, as the bale of straw decomposes, it creates a nutrient-rich medium for the plants to grow. As well, the space between the straw creates tiny air pockets that are beneficial to the roots.

The bales need to be “conditioned” at least two weeks before planting. This will create the right growing environment for your plants. Once the bales are conditioned, you plant your garden and sit back and enjoy the view. It’s that easy, folks!

What you’ll need

  • straw bales
  • cardboard, newspapers or landscaping cloth
  • soaker hoses
  • garden stakes for trellises for tomatoes
  • 2 boxes each of organic blood meal and bone meal
  1. Getting started is easy! All you need to do is choose the area where you want to start your straw bale garden project. Make sure the location will get ample sunlight – up to 6 to 8 hours a day. Next, set down landscaping fabric, newspaper or cardboard boxes to prevent weeds from growing through the bales. Don’t skip this step – it’s important!
  2. Position your bales. Once you have set down the landscaping fabric into an outline you want the bales to go in, start positioning your bales so that the strings that bind the bales should run across the sides, not across the planting surface. By positioning them this way, it will keep the shape of the bales as they start to soften and decompose.
  3. Water your bales and get them ready for conditioning.
  4. Condition bales.
  5. Plant garden and fertilize as needed.
6

After positioning the straw bales into the shape I wanted, I was surprised at how much extra space I had in the garden.

How to conditioning straw bales

Like all gardens, before you plant your plants, you need to make sure they will have the right environment to grow in. Conditioning will help activate bacteria inside the bale to begin digesting the straw. It will make nitrogen and other nutrients available to the seedlings and create a productive, warm, moist and nutrient-rich rooting environment for young seedlings.  This is an ideal environment for beneficial insects including earthworms. As well, the bales will last you for up to two garden seasons because it slowly breaks down. Once it is completely broken down, you can throw it in your compost pile and turn it into rich compost.

You will see a difference in the bales overall appearance after it has been conditioned. It begins to slump and the color of the straw will start to “pepper.” In addition, the internal temperature of the straw bale increased too. If you insert a thermometer, it may rise to 120 degrees or even higher. I knew when my bales were properly conditioned when I saw earthworms living in the bales when I was planting the plants.

There are two processes for getting the straw bales conditioned and which one you use is dependent on how much time you have. Conditioning the bales will take two weeks or more to get the decomposition process started.

If you’ve got plenty of time, use this method:

After you have added the landscaping cloth and positioned your bales, simply add some top soil, fresh manure and all-purpose fertilizer to the tops of the straw bales, water thoroughly and allow this to sit uncovered for a few months. Many people who use this method will position their bales in the fall and allow them to decompose over the winter so they are ready for spring gardening.

If you are short on time, use this method:

This is a quick way to get your bales decomposition process going. For ten days, you will be watering and fertilizing your bales to get the inner straw composting.

Days 1-6: For the first six days, you will be adding 3 cups of organic fertilizer per bale every other day. Then, thoroughly saturate the bales with water so that the fertilizer is pushed down through the straw. I used an organic fertilizer that was high in nitrogen like a 12-0-0 blood meal. On the off days, simply water the bales. To make the fertilizer more available to the bacteria more quickly, I use a tent stake and hammered holes in the straw bales before adding the fertilizer. This really seemed to speed up the process.

Avoid using manures for the “quick cook” method because most manures do not have enough concentration of active nitrogen. The only exception to this is pure chicken manure that has been composted for 6-12 weeks and does not have any bedding or wood shavings mixed in. Read more about why manures won’t work with conditioning.

Days 7-9:  For two days, I added 1 cup of an all-purpose organic fertilizer and thoroughly watered the bales. By now, you should start seeing some significant changes to your bales.

Day 10: On the last day, I added 3 cups of bone meal. This fertilizer is high in phosphorus and potassium and is great for making sure there are nutrients present for essential root development.

 Planting time

After your bales have properly cooked down, now is the fun part and what you have been waiting so patiently for – planting time! Use a gardening trowel to remove the straw in the shape of a hole. You can also help any exposed roots, by adding some sterile planting mix to the hole.

If you’re planting seeds, then cover the bales with a one to two-inch layer of planting mix and sow the seeds directly into the planting mix. As the seeds germinate, they’ll grow roots down into the bale itself.

Suggested number of plants per bale

  • 2-3 tomatoes
  • 4-6 cucumbers
  • 2 pumpkins
  • 2-3 zucchini
  • 2-4 squash
  • 4 peppers
  • 2 winter squash

Tomatoes and cucumbers are very thirsty plants, so make sure you have a way deeply irrigate these plants. I added soaker hoses to my bales and also added these ceramic water irrigation stakes.

Don’t limit your straw bale garden to just vegetables. You can use every inch of free space and plant flowers and herbs in the bale to attract bees and other pollinators. I even added strawberry plants to the sides of the bales that were going unused.

Continue to fertilize

Straw bales do not offer all the essential nutrients like soil does and plants may need extra fertilizing. Here are some indicators to look for:

  • yellowing leaves – nitrogen deficiency
  • leaves are browning on edges – potassium deficiency.
  • leaves turning purple – potassium deficiency

I am very hopeful that this garden method will be a good fit for me and I am pleased with how easily this addition to my garden was. I will keep you all updated on the progress and hopefully, I can give a good report back with a great summer bounty.

Happy gardening!

straw bale

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Raspberry Vanilla Jam (Pectin-Free)

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 There is nothing like freshly picked sun-kissed berries. We have a plethora of wild growing berries where I live and I love to preserve them. I tend to draw on more natural based recipes that have been passed down from my pioneer ancestors, like the ones found in my prepper cookbook. After all, past generations didn’t have packets of pectin in their pantries and still their preserves always came out delicious; so this is me paying homage to my people.

This recipe for raspberry jam is delicious and has a touch of vanilla to intensify the flavors and doing have added ingredients like corn syrup that you find in store bought preserves. As I was making this recipe the other night, my daughters flocked into the kitchen to “taste test” the jam bubbling away on the stove. What I love most about this recipe is it is so easy and always cooks up with just the right thickness.

Raspberry Vanilla Jam

Makes 5 – 1 pint jars

  1. Wash and sterilize canning jars. Boil the flat parts of the lids in a small pot and keep at a low simmer.
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add fruit, sugar, and lemon juice. Allow mixture to come to a boil. Mash the fruit with a potato masher and skim off any foam that may form and discard.
  3. When mixture has come to a boil, lower the heat to medium and allow the mixture to continue to softly boil for 5 minutes. Tip: Stir regularly to prevent scorching. You will know that the jam is done with a gel forms on a spoon.
  4. Remove jam from heat and let sit for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. It will thicken slightly.
  5. Ladle jam into hot jars, clean rims, then place flat lid on jars, and add screw bands.
  6. Immerse jars in hot water bath, and boil rapidly for 15 minutes (check your elevation areas and adjust the cooking time accordingly).
  7. Remove from bath and place on a towel on the counter to cool. If jars aren’t sealed within 12 hours then move them to the fridge and eat within 2 weeks.

Happy Jammin’!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Someday, This Humble Fungus Could Kill Millions of People

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stem rust wikimediaIn the 1960’s, a biologist by the name of Norman Borlaug created several strains of high yield, disease resistant wheat. He developed these strains in countries like India, Mexico, and Pakistan, and with the help of modern agricultural techniques, he helped these countries double their wheat yields in less than a decade. Borlaug’s crops were so successful at bringing food security to the third world, that it’s estimated his efforts have since saved over a billion lives.

That should give you a pretty good idea about how important wheat is to the global food supply. There are literally billions of people who are living right now, because modern civilization is so good at growing this stuff. Imagine what would happen if something threatened even a small percentage of the world’s wheat yields.

Unfortunately, that something exists and it goes by the name of Ug99, a strain of stem rust fungus that is known to kill wheat plants.

Since 1998, Ug99 has been sweeping its way across Africa to the Middle East from its origin in Uganda. Altogether, 11 confirmed races in the Ug99 lineage have been detected in Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iran, Kenya, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe, showing that the pathogen has evolved and expanded widely, according to recent research by Singh, Hodson and collaborators.

Trans-boundary pathogens blown by the wind, spread by travel and commercial trade, pose an increasing threat to global food security. Emerging strains colonizing new areas can cause significant crop losses. Pathogen changes in one region can quickly migrate with serious consequences to more distant regions.

So just how bad is Ug99? When a single spore lands on a wheat farm, it’s been known to eventually multiply and kill 100% of the crop, before making the leap to neighboring farms. Though there are some breeds of wheat that are resistant to it, less than 10% of the farms in the countries where it has shown up, actually grow them. And many of these wheat strains are of the same variety that Norman Borlaug developed decades ago. Thus, the spread of this stem rust threatens to derail decades of agricultural progress in the third world.

But truth be told, it may not stay in the third world for very long. Much like a virus, stem rust can ‘infect’ people. The spores can cling to clothing and travel anywhere in the world. Each acre of stem rust infected wheat can create billions of spores, so it wouldn’t be far-fetched for someone to brush shoulders with one of these crops, and spread it to anywhere in the world.

In any case, it could still make the leap to the developed world even without human help. It’s widely believed that stem rust spores could conceivably be blown across the ocean and into Australia, one of the world’s largest wheat producers. And if it can make it there by natural forces, it can make it anywhere.

While the scientific community is busy trying to figure out a way to deal with this threat, the Ug99 fungus has always been one step ahead of them. It’s a rapidly evolving organism that has adapted to nearly every strain of wheat that it has come across. Fortunately, dozens of wheat genes that are resistant to it have been discovered, so there is some hope that it can be beaten in much the same way that it was beaten in the past: by breeding resistant strains of wheat with the ones that aren’t resistant.

However, a successful breeding program would take years to develop. In fact, you would probably need separate programs for different regions and climates. And once several highly resistant plants were created, it would take several more years before the world’s farmers could make the switch to the new wheat strains. Until that happens, Ug99 will loom over the global food supply, threatening to eliminate sustenance for millions, or perhaps even billions of people.

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

The Good and the Ugly: Beneficial Creatures You Need Around Your Garden

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 Everyone who has tried to grow something outside, be it in a planter or in a garden or in a row, has found that nature really doesn’t give a darn about your fence or your wall or your dedicated weed pulling. At every given chance, some seed or bug or lizard will move in to the veritable Eden you have set up for them. You can spray the weeds and the aphids, put nets up against the birds, and build taller than you thought you’d need fences to keep the deer out. There are many, many articles out there on how to rid your garden of pests – but this is not one of them.

For a list of plants that attract beneficial insects and creatures, click here.

Many of us are able to see a butterfly or a ladybug and recognize that it is beneficial to the garden, but most of us run across organisms from time to time that leave us scratching our heads and wondering if it is good or bad for the garden. There are some animals that get a bad reaction simply by the way they look or move, and we don’t really consider what part they play in the food chain that is happening all around us. Although we are striving to live a lower impact, more Earth friendly lifestyle, we need to know a little more about those strange neighbors in or near your garden as they will help you in unexpected ways.

Snakes

To knock out one that many people have trouble with, let’s talk snakes. I know that snakes may conjure images of giant pythons or deadly cobras from action movies, but snakes are extremely diverse and widespread. Many healthy, established yards and gardens will have a resident snake or two, though you may never see them. While it still holds true that you should take no chances with your region’s venomous snakes, such as the rattlesnake, many other species are peaceful cohabitants that can help keep the real pests out. Non-venomous snakes, such as garden snakes, sometimes called garter snakes or gardener snakes, are found pretty much everywhere and come in a huge array of colors and patterns.

These small and harmless snakes have big appetites and are known to consume most everything they can overpower. This includes slugs, leeches, ants, crickets, and rodents, all of which are damaging to crops or human health and safety. These types of snakes generally do not grow very large, and spend most of their days on the ground, making the impact on songbird populations negligible or nonexistent. Some species will pursue eggs when available.  Anybody who can get past their aversion to snakes and give them and chance will find them to be a valuable asset in maintaining a low pest population.

The cousins to the aforementioned snakes, and another useful predator in the garden, are lizards. Many folk find lizards to be easier to handle than snakes and they still offer serious bug munching power. Lizards fill a niche separate yet overlapping of snakes. The lizards in your region may consume different insect species, and very few garden sized lizards would even dream to bother a song bird. While snakes prefer to remain unseen, lizards are much bolder. You may see your lizards sunning themselves, running around, and performing mating displays. Not only do these little guys pack a punch to pests, but they add a bit of entertainment as well!

Crickets

Another creature that gathers a very visceral reaction is the Jerusalem Cricket, sometimes referred to as Child of the Earth or Skull Insect. They are very widespread in the western half of the states and down in to Mexico, as well as Germany. While their strong jaws do put out quite a bite, they are not poisonous or venomous in any way. This category of insects is on the fence between good and bad. While they prefer to eat decaying materials, and will be very happy campers in your compost pile, they have been known to sample tubers, such as potatoes, when desperate. These freaky looking bugs are nocturnal, and while they may be a bit clumsy when hunting, they are known to munch slugs and other slow moving insects. They also help aerate the soil with their burrowing and spread nutrients in the process.  So, if you see these big headed bugs in your compost pile, or under a log, cut them a break. Chances are, they are doing good for your garden. If you do not have a compost pile or any leaf litter or anything for them to eat, and you are finding them nibbling your root veggies, consider relocating them to greener pastures.

Bees and Wasps

The next category is pretty big, being bees and wasps. Everyone knows to leave a honey bee alone and that they are helpful. But with the huge arrangement of menacing looking bee cousins, it can be hard to tell who is friend and foe. Yellow jackets, sometimes mistakenly called meat bees, hold a special place of fear in my heart. Step on a nest once, and you will understand why yellow jackets are best loved at arm’s length. While yellow jackets are important parts of the web of life, and do consume staggering numbers of pest insects, they are not very safe for children or pets or really anyone with skin. Yellow jackets are not suitable garden companions. If you find a yellow jacket nest, and it is far enough away to not concern you, consider marking it with a brightly colored flag to be sure nobody steps on it.

The fear inspired by the yellow jacket leaves many people gun-shy about anything remotely wasp like. Polistine paper wasps, however, are known to be very docile and only attack if directly threatened. Paper wasps build much smaller, grey, papery nest usually in a place they feel protected. For an insect, they are highly intelligent, and have even been shown to recognize faces. These wasps are often omnivores, feeding both on pest insects and on nectar, making them an often overlooked native pollinator.

If the Polistine paper wasp has set up her nest too close for comfort, you may be able to move it. Though rarely successful, if the nest is located attached to a branch or other moveable structure, you can try moving the branch a few feet away each day until you feel more comfortable. If the nest is attached to a structure that cannot be moved, and the nest has to be broken off, feel free to try to relocate it, but know it will most likely be abandoned.

Carpenter bees and Great Black wasps are the last guests on my list. Their large, shining black bodies make them intimidating to look at, but they are even more harmless than paper wasps. The two are often confused. Carpenter bees have an almost circular shape to them, looking like giant black bumble bees. Great black wasps look like super-sized black versions of yellow jackets. Carpenter bees live in small groups, and are good pollinators for open faced flowers. They are extremely docile and often only sting if held in the hand. In fact, males do not even have stingers!  Great black wasps live alone, and so are not at all aggressive about a nest. They are not so much about pollination, but are of the family of wasps that tirelessly hunt tomato horn worms, and other fleshy pest insects, like grasshoppers.

As always, no matter the creature you find visiting your garden, be sure to respect the animals and take action in a way that suites your conscience. You may find that what was once creepy and crawly to you is on your side, and cuts down on the amount of chemicals and work you have to put into your garden. If you are feeling curious, you can always rummage around your plants and take pictures of any mysteries wiggly thing you find, and try to look them up! You may learn something new!  Stay tuned!

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Three Natural Approaches To Clearing Land of Tree Stumps and Invasive Plants

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 Whether you desire a life off the grid, are prepping, or just want to be a little more self-reliant, the ability to grow your own food is a valuable skill. Unfortunately for many people, the property they currently have is not perfect, rich, and loamy or free of weeds and pests and ready to be planted. While the easiest way to remove unwanted plants from the area you intend to cultivate is to douse everything in chemicals, I prefer a more natural, poison-free approach. While these options take more time and energy, you will reap the rewards of having a non-toxic planting space. Unwanted plants come in many shapes and sizes. The ones I am most commonly asked about are trees, blackberries, and the ever growing swathes of dangerous weeds such as star thistle, which can take over pasture and kill livestock.

We all know plants need water, soil, and sun. Trees are often in exactly the wrong spot, taking valuable ground space and casting huge areas of shade. In many cases, chopping down the offending tree is the easy part. The trouble begins when you are left with a large stump that refuses to stop sending up dozens of suckers. You could just keep cutting the suckers as they pop up, but let me speak from experience- that gets old fast. This also doesn’t solve the problem of wanting to use the space the stump is occupying. Fear not, for there is more than one way to kill even the most stubborn stump!

Three Natural Ways to Remove Tree Stumps

Option 1: Find a Stump Grinder. While this is the fastest option, it is also the most expensive. Stump grinders can usually be rented at your local garden or hardware store. Borrow a couple of buddies or really good neighbors, and dig as much dirt away as you can. Follow the roots out as well. Then, just stop by your local equipment rental store and grab a grinder! While this is the fastest option, it is also the most expensive. If you are clearing large areas with many trees, do the math and see if it would be more economical to purchase the stump grinder, rather than rent it. Always follow all manufacture instructions for use, but the idea of it is pretty simple. Wear protective gear, turn on stump grinder, and grind a little at a time, as far down and as far out as you can reach. Voilà! From stump to sawdust! Some people choose to burn the sawdust and allow it to smolder until it extinguishes itself. Use extreme caution if you choose to burn what is left. This is better suited for a wetter time of year.

Option Two: Use Salt. Another natural option that is significantly cheaper and significantly slower, is to kill the stump with Epsom salt. Drill the biggest hole you can manage in to your stump- sized about ½” to 1” wide, and at least 10” deep, or deeper if possible. If there are roots you can get to poking above the spoil, drill in to them as well, taking care to not pass all the way through. Fill the holes in the stump with Epsom or rock salt, leaving two or three inches to the top open. Fill the holes in the exposed roots about halfway. Seal the holes in the stump and in the roots with a generous cap of wax. Paraffin is fine, beeswax is better. You want a good, thick seal so that when rains come the salt is not washed in to surrounding soil. This method can take several weeks for several months. Depending on your climate and the type of tree you are dealing with, you may choose to cover the stump with a tarp to smother any little shoots that may pop up. You will know the stump is dead when it begins to fall apart on its own. At this point, you may let it decay naturally, dig it up, or simply cut it as close to the ground as you can and place a raised bed over it.

Option Three: Smother it. Smothering is the most passive option. All one needs is to simply cover the stump with a heavy tarp, and hope to smother it. While this is the easiest of the options, the success rate is low and the process is long. You can snip any suckers that come up and try to keep the stump as dry as possible to further cut off lifelines. This method is only for those with amazing patience.

Removing Invasive Weeds

Another aggressive, hard to kill plant we all love and hate are blackberries. While what comes to mind for me are the invasive, spread-like-fire Himalayan blackberries we see all over in the west, these methods hold true for most bramble type plants you may want to remove. With any of these methods the first step is the same- remove any visible foliage above ground. You can do this in a number of ways. Hungry goats, chainsaw/ brush cutter, or yank them out by hand. What you choose depends of course on what is available to you and how big your bramble is. If you are going any route besides goats, I recommend burning the vines as you remove them. Some bramble type plants can take root from cuttings. Burning them ensures they will not take root. Like with the tree stumps, brambles often can and do come back even after being chopped down. To solve this, you can choose to either pull up suckers as they appear, which is the slowest and least effective option, or you can smother the suckers with a tarp. If you would rather not deal with suckers at all, you can try to kill the roots of the bramble.

How to Kill of Bramble

To kill the roots, you can either hand turn the soil with a shovel or use a tiller to chop up and flip over the vast majority of the roots. To ensure that the surviving roots do not take hold, you can plant a fast growing grassy crop, such as barley, over the tilled area. The barley will be more than happy to settle in to the freshly turned soil and will choke out any remaining roots. If you don’t want to be bothered with barley growing from seeds next season, simply turn the barley in to the soil before the heads mature. Or, you could open the pasture to your livestock that would be quite happy to mow down the barley for you.

Star Thistle

The final nasty, unwanted plant on my list of badies is Star Thistle. While your noxious plant may be of a different species, every area has their wicked weed that comes to mind. The key to getting a grip on these unpleasant invaders is to be vigilant. Getting a major infestation under control can be next to impossible and extremely expensive. It pays to keep your eyes peeled for invasive species, and to remove them as soon as is possible. Never assume that you managed to destroy every plant. If it is at a small enough scale that hand removal is an option, be sure to burn the plants after pulling them out. Do not attempt to compost noxious invasive weeds. It is a bad idea to simply till the plants under the soil or the burn the area. These types of plants thrive on freshly disturbed soil, and will move in faster than any native plant. This often makes the situation worse than you started with. If you do till or burn the area, be certain to plant a fast growing cover crop. Tarping the area prevents anything from growing, and once uncovered is at just as high if not higher risk for being infested. A good option is to contact your local or state department of agriculture and see what they can offer you. Some species of invasive plants are able to be killed by certain local plants, or are the favorite snack of a local insect. Regardless of the route you follow, keeping on top of the plants will be essential.

While it may seem like nothing but hard work and no fun, the rewards of having your land cleared and the peace of mind in knowing you did not introduce any toxic chemicals in to your soils are well worth it. Be sure your game plan is realistic, and is going to work for your specific area as well as the specific plants you want to kill. Once you know the direction you want to take, grab some gloves and some friends and get going! Stay tuned!

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

DIY Vermicomposting: The Most Efficient Way of Using Organic Material

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In an earlier article we talked about different methods for traditional composting yard and kitchen waste.  Today, we’re going to cover Vermicomposting- composting with worms!  Composting, the process of taking raw organic material like kitchen scraps, lawn trimmings, dead leaves, and chipped woody material and turning it into a useable, stable, non-offensive soil amendment can be done in any living situation.  By composting our green waste and kitchen scraps, we reduce our impact on landfills and enrich the soil in our yard and gardens.  For this discussion, we’ll be using the word “organic” to mean anything that is alive or was once alive like plants and animals or any waste produced by plants and animals.  Organic material accounts for as much as 52% of the garbage humans create.  That’s a huge amount of material ending up in our landfills that could be utilized in our yards, gardens, and even our planter boxes.

Vermicomposting Is An Efficient Way To Reduce Trash

Vermicomposting, also known as vermicasting, is the process of using worms to break down those materials and turn them into a rich, dark, humus-like substance that can be added directly to our gardens without aging it.  Like traditional composting, vermicomposting breaks down organic material, but is much easier to do on a smaller scale and is an excellent choice to compost kitchen scraps in a controlled, enclosed, odorless environment.  It’s clean, socially acceptable, requires no physical effort on your part to keep aerated (traditional compost must be turned), reduces the mass of waste by 30% or so, and even creates more worms that can be used for fishing.  It’s also faster than traditional composting.  Vermicomposting takes about 22 to 32 days to turn organic waste into castes (worm poop) whereas traditional composting can take 30 to 40 days for hot composting or even years for passive composting.

Although food waste can be added to traditional compost piles, adding kitchen scraps to compost piles comprised of dead leaves and other yard debris can also attract unwanted pests like rats and raccoons.  Rats especially love compost piles- they like to burrow into the warm pile and enjoy feasting on all the kitchen scraps you’ve provided.  Left unchecked, they breed very quickly and can spread disease.  They’ll also eat eggs from your coop and kill your poultry.  We were recently reminded of how destructive rats can be when they got into our quail coop.

Learn about how to start a quail flock

We raise our quail on the ground on a coop tall enough for them to fly.  We prefer this method as it allows the quail to behave naturally and build up their muscles, thus giving the meat a texture closer to wild quail.  We use a gravity flow water system that feeds into multiple automatic watering cups.  We had drilled small holes in the side of the coop to thread the water hoses through, but when one recently busted, we pulled it out and meant to get back to repairing that one cup when we had more time.  We soon noticed our quail had stopped laying…or so we thought!  Young rats can fit through an opening the size of a quarter!  They were feasting on the quail food, gorging on eggs, and enjoying the fresh, clean water provided daily.  Within a very short time, we had a multi-generational rat infestation.  I can tell you from experience it’s much easier to take steps to prevent the rats from wanting to set up house than it is to get rid of all of them once they do.

Vermicomposting solves this by using worms to compost kitchen waste in a controlled, closed environment.  In order to get started, you’ll need:

  • A container
  • Electric drill
  • Bedding (shredded cardboard or paper, dry leaves, wood shavings, or straw)
  • Red worms (Eisenia fetida)
  • kitchen scraps

 Many urban gardeners use vermicomposters as a way to get started with raising worms.   You can buy a worm bin like the Worm Factory or simply build your own. Arguably the easiest way to build your own is to purchase a plastic storage bin with a lid.  The size of the tub will depend on the amount of food scraps you think you’ll generate in a day.  Generally, worms can eat about 75% of their body weight in food scraps in a day, and the bin should have one square foot of bin surface area for every half-pound of food scraps.  Use the formula of width in inches divided by 12 times length in inches divided by 12 (or W/12xL/12).  A tub similar to this one would work well.  Avoid clear or see-through tubs.  Worms don’t have eyes, but they do have light sensors on the surface of their skin.  Light causes them pain and they’ll run away from it.  It’s better to use a bin that is opaque.

Building a DIY Worm Bin

The best type of earthworms to get for composing are Red Wigglers. These are heavy feeders and have been shown to thrive in worm bins. Like every other living thing, worms need three basic things for life: food, water, and air.  You’ll need to drill some holes in the bottom and sides of the tub to allow for air circulation and for water to seep out.  The number of holes you’ll need depends on your climate and how moist the food is going into the tub.  It’s better to err on the side of caution and drill too many holes than it is to not drill enough.  If you’re concerned about castings falling out of the bottom of the tub, use a liner.  An inexpensive nylon sheer curtain works well.

If you’re going to use the lid of the tub as a catch basin under the tub, don’t drill holes in it.  Place it upside down under the tub and fashion a new lid for your worms (remember, they like it dark!) our of a piece of cardboard or plywood cut to the same size as the tub so that it rests on the lip of the tub or even overlaps a little.  Avoid having the cardboard or plywood lid so small that it fits into the tub and will be resting on the bedding and worms.  Not only does this cut off some of the airflow to the surface of the material, but your worms will happily compost your lid right along with your food scraps.

Here’s a great video to follow step-by-step:

Bedding Material and Moisture Level

Once you have the holes drilled in the bottom and sides of the tub and the plastic lid flipped over and under the tub, it’s time to get your bedding material ready.  No matter what you choose – shredded paper, sawdust, straw, etc- it should be soaked in water.  Allow it to sit in water until it has soaked through and then drain it.  You might need to squeeze the water out.  The goal is to have your bedding about as damp as a well-wrung sponge.  Any water and the worms might drown.  Too dry and they’ll die from lack of water absorbed through their skin.  The ideal moisture level is about 75%.  Place handfuls of bedding in the bottom of the bin and fluff the bedding up a little.  Fluffing allows the bedding to develop little pockets of air so the worms can get enough oxygen, too.  If the bedding is too compacted, the worms will have a difficult time burrowing through it and may trap too much moisture.  It could also create an anaerobic (lack of oxygen) environment which encourages rot and foul odors.  Keep your bedding layer to 1 foot deep or less to prevent compaction.

Worms can survive temperatures ranging from around freezing to as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but their productivity will suffer at either of those extremes.  If you plan on keeping your worm tub in an area protected from temperature fluctuations, like a garage, basement, or mudroom, there’s no need to insulate the tub.

Adding Your Worms and Feeding Them

Now it’s time to add your worms.  Place about a half pound to one pound of worms for every square foot of surface area in your tub.  Red Worms are epigeic, meaning they’re surface dwellers.  More accurately, they live just under the surface of the soil, whereas other types of worms (like night crawlers) can tunnel much deeper.  Place your lid on the tub and allow the worms to settle down into the bedding for a few hours before feeding them.  It’s a good idea at this point to keep a bright light on over the lid.  This encourages the worms to burrow down into the bedding instead of trying to crawl out and away from the tub.  After about a week, the light can be removed.

Once the worms have settled into their new habitat, it’s time to feed them.  Worms will eat just about any organic matter, but you’ll get better and faster composting if you chop it in into small pieces first.  You should also avoid adding high acid or salty kitchen scraps like citrus.  Meat, bones, dairy products, greasy foods should also be avoided.  The worms won’t eat them and it encourages other pathogens to populate your worm bin.  Of course, never, ever add dog, cat, or bird poo or any feces of a meat-eating animal.  It’s better to feed once or twice a week than it is to disturb the bin daily to add more scraps.  To feed, simply pick a new spot each time, create a small hole in the bedding, and drop the scraps in.  The worms will migrate over and find the new feeding spot.

When the conditions are right, your worms will start reproducing.  Worms are hermaphroditic, meaning they have both male and female organs.  The thick band near their head is part of their reproductive system.  Each worm can produce an egg capsule (cocoon) every seven to ten days.  In fourteen to twenty-one days, two to four baby worms will emerge.  Baby worms will mature to breeding age in about two to three months and the adult worms can live as long as seven to ten years.

Maintaining a worm bin is relatively simple once the worms have been provided the right amounts of bedding, air, moisture, and food.  Fresh fruits and veggies are about 90% water, so there’s usually little need to add more moisture to the worm bin once you’ve soaked the initial bedding.  Over-feeding can be an issue and will cause odor and attract flies, so carefully measure the amount of food you’re giving your worms until you get a feel for it.  If, after the first week, you see worms trying to escape, there is something wrong in your worm bin- check their basic requirements again for water, air, and food to make sure they’re in the right balance.  Stay tuned!

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

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When The Meds Run Out, These are The Natural Alternatives That Could Save Your Life

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herbsOne of the perks of Ready Nutrition is to read books on prepping and natural living and share which ones I like with all of you. Like many of you, I have a natural curiosity about natural medicine and practiced using essential oils and herbs to make my own salves and teas. I am by no means a master herbalist but love learning about the subject. I envy author Cat Ellis’s herbal background and believe it will serve her well during a time when there is no doctor. I was so excited when she decided to do a book on the subject and she was kind enough to let me interview her about her book, the Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor.

1. Tell us a little bit about your book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine. 

51ieolyMzzLPrepper’s Natural Medicine is the book I wish I had when I first started learning about herbal medicine. It is written for the total beginner, with no assumptions of prior experience with herbs. However, I have a few tips and tricks that even experienced herbalists would find interesting.This book covers all of the basic skills necessary to make herbal medicine, the therapeutic properties of 50 herbs that will grow almost anywhere in the United States, plus provides formulas for how to create your own medicine. Instructions are provided in an easy to read, conversational style, much as I would speak if the reader were taking one of my classes in person. While this book would be of use to any budding herbalist, it specifically addresses concerns that preppers have, especially long term disasters where the option of getting professional medical care is off the table. For example, how would you treat a snake or spider bite? What about anaphylaxis? Hypothermia?There’s a trend to sanitize herbal medicine with claims that “herbs work gently”. And to a point that’s true. Chamomile is a gentle herb that helps with stress and winding down at the end of the day. On the other hand, some herbs are potent analgesics, antispasmodics, and antimicrobials. Some herbs can help stop bleeding both internally and externally. Others help with seizures.This book is primarily a medicine-making book using herbs for one’s primary source of medicine. It is not a gardening, foraging, or a plant ID book. If your survival plan is to stay mobile, this may not be for you. I do have thoughts for a future book to address those needs, though. If you are stocking up on food, water, ammo, silver, and other supplies, then this is the herbal book for you.

In your book, Prepper’s Natural Medicine, you emphasize the importance of having herbs as part of your preparedness plan. What would you recommend as a starting point for beginners?

I would start off with easy to grow herbs, such as comfrey and peppermint- just try getting either of those two not to grow, and herbs that do dual duty as culinary and medicinal herbs, such as cayenne, garlic, ginger, thyme, and sage. These are familiar to most people, which makes learning how to make herbal medicines less intimidating.

In the book, you mentioned that ingesting essential oils has its place. When is that?

Very rarely, and almost never. There are oils which have GRAS status, which means, “General Recognized As Safe” by the FDA as a food additive. The most common use of this is as a flavoring, whether that be in food or in cosmetics, such as lip balm or lip stick. What this normally means is a drop or two of, say, lemon essential oil in a batch of lemon squares. It is diluted across the entire recipe, and most people don’t sit down to eat the entire batch in one sitting.

However, from a therapeutic standpoint, essential oils are best inhaled or applied topically in some type of carrier, like a salve or lotion, as many are irritating to the skin to apply directly. Regular ingestion of essential oils over time leads to complications, like liver damage, and really misses the mark on how essential oil work best.

That being said, a drop of clove oil applied to a painful tooth, or peppermint oil in an enteric coated capsule for intestinal infections and cramping, or a drop of cinnamon oil added to herbal cough drops or an herbal sore throat spray, are good examples of when ingestion has its place. And, of course, in that batch of lemon squares.

My favorite chapter in the book is the herbal first aid kit. What herbs would you consider the most important and why?

It was tough to narrow it down to just the 50 herbs in the book! But, if I had to pick just 10, my choices would be:

  1. Peppermint: This one herb does so many things. Peppermint can settle the stomach, relieve congestion, soothe away a headache, help cool a person’s temperature, it has a pleasant taste, and kids readily take it.
  2. Comfrey: Two of this herb’s folknames are “knitbone” and “bruisewort”. Comfrey helps to knit tissues back together. This goes in my burn care salve, is excellent in a poultice for a sprained ankle, helps the skin to heal quickly and with minimal (if any) scarring. It works so well, that it should not be used on deep wounds, healing the upper tissue layers and trapping bacteria inside. Short term use only as a tea, though. But could be very useful for someone healing from a serious sprain or broken limb.
  3. Thyme: This is your respiratory system’s best friend. Use in teas, syrups, and most importantly, in herbal steams for any respiratory infection, either bacterial or viral. Add to bath water when you feel sick, to benefit from the steam and sooth the entire body, or use thyme’s antimicrobial properties in herbal cleaning products. Blends well with lavender for the same purposes. Thyme can be taken as a tea or syrup for sore throats and general respiratory relief.
  4. Yarrow: Easy to find growing wild, yarrow is known for its ability to stop bleeding. It is taken both internally and applied externally for this purpose. It can also help reduce fever through sweating, and is an anti-inflammatory, making it a wonderful flu herb, chasing away the aches and pains and fever associated with the flu.
  5. White willow: This tree’s bark contains a chemical called salicin. Salicin is metabolized into salicylic acid, which is the origin of aspirin. The active ingredient in aspirin is acetylsalicylic acid, a synthesized version of salicylic acid. White willow is much less irritating to the stomach than aspirin, and in my experience, is more effective and lasts longer. If you don’t have a white willow nearby, meadowsweet is a good alternative for your herbal garden.
  6. Cayenne: Cayenne contains capsaicin, which is well known for pain relief by blocking the signaling of pain from the source to the brain. Cayenne is a vasodilator, primarily of the small blood vessels and improves circulation. This is really important for people who are sedentary or diabetic. Cayenne is also anti-inflammatory, and analgesic. It is a primary ingredient in one of my oxymel (herbal vinegar sweetened with honey) recipes, which I use as an herbal decongestant.
  7. Berberine: This is actually a chemical found in various herbs, not an herb itself. Berberine has more uses than can be listed here. It’s top uses are as a local antibiotic, for blood glucose management, to strengthen the gut wall, lowering liver inflammation, and promoting healthy cholesterol and triglycerides levels. A berberine-containing herb can be used for wound powders. Berberine is excellent for throat infections as a spray, though it does have a very bitter taste. It must come in contact with the infected tissue to have an effect, so sweeten it up with honey or glycerin, then thin with water to work in a spray bottle. Some people taking berberine for its blood glucose and metabolic benefits prefer to take theirs encapsulated. Wherever you live in the United States, there is at least one herb that contains berberine that grows in your area naturally. These might include the Amur cork tree (an invasive on the east coast), Oregon grape root (Northwest), chaparral (Southwest), algerita (Texas and southwest), barberry (not a native plant, but can be grown almost anywhere), and goldenseal (endangered, but was native to east coast and midwest).
  8. Echinacea: This herb has been pigeonholed as a cold and flu herb, but it offers so much more. Echinacea is excellent for wound care, and makes a great addition to wound powders. The tincture is slightly warming and numbing, making it perfect in a spray for sore throat spray, or dental infection or wound. Echinacea is an immuno-stimulant, and it can act as a systemic antibiotic at the right dosage. Dosage is usually far more frequent than people expect, all the way up to once every hour. My preference is for Echincea angustafolia root.
  9. Garlic: Everyone needs lots and lots of garlic. This is the posterchild herb for food being medicine. Have your garlic raw, fermented in honey, or cooked, it’s all beneficial. Garlic supports immune function, is antibacterial, antifungal, and is well known for it’s heart health benefits.  If you want to stay healthy, eat a lot of garlic.
  10. Valerian: In about 10% of the population, it can have the opposite effect, but valerian helps almost everyone sleep. Valerian also helps with pain, spasms, coughing, and can be used topically for sore muscles.  Something to be aware of with valerian is that the dose is really dependent upon the individual. A very small dose may be fine for one person, and the next may need three times that amount.
  11. Mullein: This list needs a good expectorant to round out the list, and mullein is one of the best. The soft leaves from the first year plant are excellent for helping break up stuck phlegm. In the second year, the plant sends up a large stalk with yellow flowers. Pick the flowers and infuse them in olive oil for earaches.

What three points of the book do you want readers to walk away with? What tools would you recommend?

First, herbal medicine works, and works very well, even in serious cases. Herbs aren’t just for gently falling asleep after a stressful day. They can help . Second, while there is a lot to learn in order to use herbal medicine safely and effectively, it is fun learning. This process is enjoyable and empowering, and my book gets you started off on the right foot. And thirdly, the time to learn how to use herbal medicine is right now, while things are still relatively good.

In a long-term emergency, what natural medicines do you think will be needed most?

In a long term emergency without access to a doctor, pharmacy, or a hospital, we will still need to have the ability to treat both acute and chronic conditions. Acute injuries and infections are obvious, and require antimicrobials and analgesics. According to the CDC, however, 1 out of every 2 adults in the United States have a chronic illness, and that’s just based on people who actually go to the doctor for a proper diagnosis.While a lot of preppers are concerned with how to treat a bullet wound, and that’s a valid concern, far more people will require a sustainable source of medicine for heart conditions, diabetes, arthritis, mood disorders, and so on.

We will need:

Antimicrobial herbs: wounds, respiratory infections, and intestinal infections. Several I mentioned above, but I would add clove, black walnut hull, and artemesia for parasitical infections. I would also put special attention toward herbal antibiotics in the face of every-increasing antibiotic resistance. We would need both local and systemic herbal antibiotic alternatives to drugs. Herbs that come to mind as local antibiotics would be berberine herbs, garlic, juniper, burdock, and sage. Systemics are a little more scarce, but sida, bidens, and artemesias such as sweet Annie, cover a lot of ground.
Cardiovascular herbs: In addition to the cayenne, garlic, and berberine I mentioned above, as well as the yarrow to stop bleeding, I would also add bilberry, hawthorne, and motherwort.
Analgesics: In addition to the pain-relieving white willow bark, we will need additional pain relievers. Arnica is great for join pain, especially from arthritis, sprains, and repetitive motion injuries. Corydalis, California poppy, and Jamaican dogwood is a combination used for severe pain. Black cohosh and lobelia can be infused into an oil and a salve or lotion made from it for muscle spasms.
Anti-diabetics: Diabetes is one of our most common chronic illnesses in the United States. For type two, goat’s rue is the origin of the active ingredients for metformin. A three month study found berberine as effective as metformin.[1] There is some hope for type one diabetics with Gymnema sylvestre and fenugreek, as both help to regenerate the beta cells in the pancreas to help the body start to make its own insulin again. Gymnema is not available in plant or seed form in the United States, so one would have to stock up on the dried herb, and tincture it for both dosage and longer term storage.

You have a new book coming out. Can you tell us about it?

pandemicMy new book is called Prepping for a Pandemic: Life-Saving Supplies, Skills, and Plans for Surviving an Outbreak, and is available for preorder on Amazon. This book covers a whole range of issues related to pandemics, and is in direct response to emails I received from readers of my blog and my live internet radio show audience.We have had this unique opportunity to observe and learn from the Ebola crisis in West Africa. We have been witness to individuals attack clinics, what happens when medical facilities reach surge capacity, curfews and quarantines, martial law leaving people without food, had the specter of bio-terrorism lingering, and how our government and media control what the public know. The goals of individuals, staying healthy and not dying, are not the same as government concerns, which are maintaining order and suppressing panic. And, of course, we had the tragic case of Thomas Eric Duncan who brought Ebola to the United States by plane, and spread the disease to hospital staff. There is so much to learn from all this that helps us make better plans in case of an outbreak. If there is any positive side to the horrific loss of life in this unprecedented Ebola outbreak, it would be how to better prepare for pandemic threats.

In the book, I cover seven illnesses I believe are the most significant threats to trigger the next great pandemic. This includes drug-resistant bacteria, viruses which have a demonstrated history of causing pandemics, the human involvement of both terrorism and human error, and the conventional and herbal treatment approaches, if any, are provided. The book wraps up with a pro-active section on how to establish a Self Imposed Reverse Quarantine (SIRQ), with resources to learn more about pandemic preparedness.

My Thoughts on Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor

Have you ever wondered what you would do if there were no pharmacy? In the early onset of my prepping endeavors this question plagued me. Dying from illness or infection is one of the most likely ways one can die in a long-term emergency and without the knowledge of medicinal herbs and natural medicine, you could be a world of trouble. This very question was the first sentence that Cat wrote in her book and what I loved so much about the book. From the very beginning, she cuts to the chase and gets to the heart of topic. Throughout the book (and something she mentioned in her interview with me) she listed fifty of the most useful herbs, medicinal uses and recipes to practice. She holds nothing back in this book and uses a layered medical approach to assembling a natural medicine kit.

This book teaches you the how’s, what’s and why’s about creating a natural medicinal pantry. Because Cat comes from a prepping background she uses a common sense approach to emphasize the vulnerabilities of solely storing western medicine supplies including how supplies will expire, run out and the ever-looming antibiotic resistance bacteria in the near future.

The book is easy to read, written in a friendly manner and is packed with information. If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. From start to finish, I absolutely loved it! Cat is a wealth of knowledge and I will recommend this book for years to come. As well, Cat has an equally informative website, Herbal Prepper that all of you should check out!

 

[1]    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2410097/

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

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Which Kind of Chicken Breed Is Best For Your Backyard Flock?

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 A hot topic in homesteading these days is backyard hens and the eggs they will produce for you. Many people are so swept up in the excitement that they stop by the local feed store and pick up some adorable fuzzy chicks and starter feed. This rash thinking can cause problems down the road as there will be some who are unprepared and have not fully understood the requirements of chicks and then adult chickens. So today I am offering some information of how to select the right chicken for you and your climate. This will not be the end all be all of chicken selection, and I hope you continue to research different breeds to best suit you and your needs. For the sake of simplicity today, we will categorize chickens into four groups: egg production, meat production, dual purpose, and ornamental.

Best Egg Producing Breeds

Hens that are egg laying specialists are ideal for those have no plans to consume the chicken after it has passed peak production. These hens will have less meat on their bones than a dual purpose or meat production bird. This isn’t to say you couldn’t eat the hen after, and many people choose to repurpose them as stewing hens or dog food. While eggs can come in as many different colors as the chickens themselves, there is no nutritional difference between egg shell colors. There is however some general connection between egg color and the climate the bird is best suited for. In most cases, hens that lay brown eggs have a heavier-weight body type, and do better in a cooler climate. They generally have smaller combs and wattles that help them resist frostbite, but leave them disadvantaged in hot weather. Chickens do not sweat, and use their combs and wattles to keep cool. The iconic brown egg laying hen we are almost all familiar with is the Rhode Island Red. These birds come in two distinct strains. For the best egg numbers, search out a “production red”. These birds are less heavy than the heritage Red, but lay more eggs. They still retain strong independence and foraging skills, though slightly less so than the heritage variety.

On the flip side, hens that lay white eggs often have a lighter-weight body type, and do better in a warmer climate. They will lay more consistently in warm weather, and less consistently when it is cold. They tend to have larger combs and wattles to better dissipate heat. This does make them very susceptible to frostbite.  If your large combed hens are going to be out in freezing temperatures, it is recommended you apply Vaseline to the comb and wattles to help prevent frostbite. The most popularly used white egg chicken is the Leghorn. They are often seen as white or brown, but other variants are available. Many hatcheries and egg farms have their own specific strains of this breed. Be advised, if you purchase a specialty strain from a hatchery, it will not breed true. This stands for all production type chickens, be it for white eggs, brown eggs, or meat. These specialty strain chicks are produced by the hatchery having two distinct genetic profiles for the roosters and for the hens, and when combined they create the desired chick. If you purchase a male and female of these strains and attempt to breed them, they will not come out as productive as the parents, and may vary significantly. This method of breeding allows the hatchery to keep you buying more chicks to maintain the same quality of bird.

When it comes to “Easter Egger” chickens- those chickens that lay eggs in any color but white or brown, the suitability depends greatly on the genetic background of the bird. These birds are often Araucana and Ameraucana cross, though some may be mixed with other breeds. Eggs can be anywhere from pale blue to deep olive, and infrequently even pink. These hens normally have tufted cheeks and bare legs, with small combs and wattles. They often do better in cooler climates, though they tolerate heat better than some dedicated heavy breeds. While they come in many colors and patterns and add visual interest to your egg basket, these hens do not always guarantee the rock-star steady, high production of specialist egg laying strains. Their production is more similar to a heritage breed, but do not always put on the same bulk in weight.

Meat Producing Breeds

In the other direction are meat type chickens. The vast majority of meat chickens are the previously mentioned specialty strain that do not breed true. Some get so heavy they are unable to breed naturally. If you want a true breeding meat breed that you can raise on your own, then you may want to consider changing the way you raise the chicks. While no heritage chicken that breeds true can rival the meat specialist chickens, some can get pretty close. Some heavy weight breeds, such as the Buckeye and Dark Cornish birds are good choices. These types of birds are lacking in the egg production area, but can still offer you plenty of chicks in a year for meat. When you take a heritage bird and aim it for meat production, they should be fed a diet consistent with production meat birds. As expected, males will grow much larger than females and will offer better meat yields. When it comes time to replace your breeding stock, raise the chicks as you would normal heritage chicks. This is because the heavy production diet can cause irregular development and health problems down the road, which won’t be an issue for the meat birds destined for your freezer. In this way, you can have true breeding meat birds with sufficient yields and still be able to sustain your own breeding population. Keep in mind the plumage and skin color of the breed you select. White feathered birds with pale yellow skin dress out with the cleanest look. It is often reported that the specialty meat strains are also easier to pluck. If you are considering meat chickens, be sure that you are either comfortable processing the chickens or have a place to take them to be processed. If you choose to do them at home, a good way to learn is to ask someone who has meat birds to show you how it is done.

Processing meat chickens in any large volume is a significant work load. Many families choose to dedicate a day and process them assembly line style, so that everyone helps and the work goes faster. It always pays to have the processing area entirely prepped and ready to go before starting. Be sure to think ahead on making sure there is more than enough room in the freezer. If you choose to pay to have someone do it for you, consider the processing cost into your overall cost per pound meat. The price can sneak up on you!

For those homesteaders looking for an all-purpose solution, nothing beats a dual-purpose heritage bird. For many people, this means the Rhode Island Red. As previously mentioned, the Red comes in more than one distinct strain depending on the purpose of the bird. A “production” Red will be of lighter weight, with more intense focus on egg laying. A strain of Reds for show lays the focus on appearance, and less on egg production, ability to forage, etc. A quality heritage bird should come from a line that has steady growth, moderate or better egg production, and sharp wits. For homesteaders who wish to let their hens free range, a sharper bird is more likely to not only find more food on its own, but to avoid being food for something else! Many heritage dual purpose birds can be encouraged to set on a clutch of eggs, and are entirely capable of raising their chicks without help.

Other popular heritage dual-purpose breeds include Australorps, Orpingtons, any of the Rock (barred, partridge, buff) family, and Brahmas. Always keep in mind that birds vary significantly, even from the same stock, based on diet, age, and conditions. Many seasoned homesteaders choose to breed their own birds after some time, to establish the equivalent of a “land race” population. A land race is a breed or strain of bird specifically bred to be best suited for a given environment, with little to no focus paid to aesthetic features like plumage or egg color.

Ornamental Chickens

Ornamental chicken breeds may not come to mind when considering what to add to your backyard flock. They do not offer the meat production or egg production of any previously mentioned class. If you are dying for the bright colors and interesting shapes some ornamentals come in, there are some tasks they are well suited for. The primary function of ornamental or bantam hens specifically on a homestead is to raise other birds’ babies. Bantams, such and Silkies and Cochins, or even smaller, such as Serama hens, can be of huge value for a homesteader who is looking to not have to rely on an incubator. While you can use the small hens to set large eggs, you can’t use a large hen to set the tiny eggs of quail or pheasant.  While some pheasant will set their own eggs, the vast majority of quail will not. If you have decided to add these birds to your homestead, small bantam birds can be vital to continuing your breeding population without the use of an incubator. Click here to learn more about raising quail and the use of different incubators.

Larger bantams, such as the Silkies and Cochins, can be used to set the eggs for your other large breed hens. Keep in mind that they are not able to cover as many eggs as a large breed hen. Brooding a clutch of eggs is a huge strain on the hen, and while they are brooding they will not lay eggs. If you want to maintain the egg laying rate and body weight of your large breeds, letting the bantam do the heavy lifting is a great strategy. When creating a mixed flock of heavy breed and ornamental breeds, it is not a good idea to mix in Polish or Silkie hens with vaulted skulls. Vaulted skulls are essentially a bubble of skull that is often frail and may leave the brain prone to injury. The vaulted skull is bred in show birds because it helps add body and structure to the poof of feathers on the tops of their head. Polish and Silkie hens with vaulted skulls often get so picked on by large hens that they are constantly suffering or may even die. Their timid nature and irresistibly bubbled, feathered heads lead to many other birds pulling out their feathers and pecking their heads. This can be a death sentence for these hens, as the skull vault may be weak or not complete. Always be certain the “top hat” breed strain you are acquiring does not have a vaulted skull.

At the end of the day, every flock is as unique as the homesteader who tends to them. What works best for you may not work best for your neighbor living just down the road.  I encourage you to take careful stock of exactly what it is you want out of the birds, and just as importantly, what it is you are willing to put in. Be honest with yourself about the limitations presented by your climate, your land, and your personal schedule. Read up on the essentials of chicken health, the requirements of raising a chick, and be sure you have all the resources needed for happy, healthy, productive chickens.

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Study Reveals Ginger May Be Stronger than Chemo for Fighting Cancer

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ginger root public domainWe all know that ginger is a healthy addition to any meal, and that it can reduce nausea and inflammation in the human body. It’s a food with curative powers that have been highly regarded for centuries, though science is still unlocking its secrets. Coincidentally, three researchers from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology in India may have just stumbled upon one of those secrets, and it will likely have far-reaching implications for the cancer treatment field.

They’ve found that there is a chemical in ginger called 6-shogaol, which has an impressive effect against breast cancer cells. It also targets cancer stem cells in particular, which are largely responsible for spreading cancer throughout the body, as well spurring the growth of tumors that have been previously treated with chemo or surgery. And best of all, it is effective at doses that aren’t harmful to noncancerous cells, unlike chemotherapy.

In fact, the researchers decided to see how 6-shogaol would stack up against a traditional chemotherapy drug known as taxol. While taxol is known to inhibit ordinary cancer cells (and cause a host of awful side effects) it still struggles to eliminate cancer stem cells. The researchers tested the taxol at a concentration that was 10,000 times higher than their 6-shogaol samples, and it still wasn’t as effective at destroying cancer stem cells as the ginger chemical.

As for how 6-shogaol works in the human body, the researchers found 6 different ways that it can inhibit cancer growth.

  • It reduces the expression of CD44/CD24 cancer stem cell surface markers in breast cancer spheroids (3-dimensional cultures of cells modeling stem cell like cancer)
  • It significantly affects the cell cycle, resulting in increased cancer cell death
  • It induces programmed cell death primarily through the induction of autophagy, with apoptosis a secondary inducer
  • It inhibits breast cancer spheroid formation by altering Notch signaling pathway through γ-secretase inhibition.
  • It exhibits cytotoxicity (cell killing properties) against monolayer (1-dimensional cancer model) and spheroid cells (3-dimensional cancer model)

While the study investigated the effects 6-shogaol in the lab, it’s hard to say how well it will proliferate in the human body, if at all. Although previous studies have found that feeding ginger to mice can inhibit cancer, so there’s a good chance that you can receive 6-shogaol by consuming ginger. However, you have to find dried ginger, since it is produced by gingerol chemicals that are dehydrated.

Although the study doesn’t definitively prove how effective ginger would be in the real world, or how useful it would be against other forms of cancer, it certainly is promising. It has provided another perfect example of how mother nature has solutions to health problems that we’ve been struggling to treat with pharmaceuticals for decades. Hopefully, future research will prove that something as simple and affordable as ginger can prevent and treat some of our most devastating diseases.

If you’re interested, you can read the study in its entirety at plosone.org.

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

Black Gold: Creating Perfect Compost with Kitchen, Yard and Garden Scraps

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Most Americans produce a lot of household trash and waste a lot of food.  What if I told you there’s a way to reduce both?

compostpicIn the Kitchen

Start by planning your meals to reduce the amount of food you accidentally compost in your fridge.  You know what I’m talking about- that kale looked great at the farmer’s market and you seriously meant to incorporate it into your meal planning, but you got busy, and now it’s turning into brown mulch.  That, my friend, is refrigerator composting.  It wastes food and it wastes your money.  For ideas on how to save money and plan your meals ahead, go here.

Before you start cooking, set two bowls near your workspace.  One bowl will be for food scraps that can easily be made into stocks or added to soups and another for foods that will go directly to your compost bin.

Most fresh vegetable scraps can be saved for later use in stocks and soups, so don’t compost those.  I like to keep a gallon sized freezer bag in my freezer for the ends of carrots and celery, onion peels and roots, and scallion tops and roots.  I use that bag to season my chicken stock that I make from the leftover bones and trimming of previous chicken dinners.

Another bag can hold the trimmings and leaves of other root vegetables like beets, turnips, parsnips, any extra carrots, celery, or onion trimmings you don’t need for your chicken stock bag, the stem ends of fresh green beans, pea pods, etc.  That bag can be used for making vegetable stock.  Be careful when adding strong flavored vegetables like cabbage, Brussel sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli – too much of those vegetables can overpower the flavors of the other vegetables in your stock.  Be sure to put these scraps in the freezer quickly as you would any other perishable food.

The second bowl is for food scraps that can’t be repurposed into soup and stock.  Examples include egg shells, coffee grounds (and the filter!), bruised or insect-damaged portions of fruits and veggies not fit for consumption, etc.  If you want something more decorative than a bowl or want to hold your scraps over for a few days without taking them to the compost pile, one of these “kitchen composters” might be the ticket.  After your meal, you can scrape your plate into the compost bowl/bin, too. If you are running short on time, you can also freeze your scraps and even use egg cartons as compostable container for your frozen scraps.

Although it’s possible to compost meat products, including bone, there are some stricter guidelines that need to be followed.  We’ll get into that later in the article.

A word of caution about compost bowls: any open container, like a bowl, should be emptied soon after finishing your meal.  Scraps, especially cooked scraps, tend to draw pests like ants, fruit flies, cockroaches, and rodents.  Keep it sanitary by keeping it clean.  Many of the “kitchen composters” listed in the link above come with a tight fitting lid and some have a filter that fits in the lid to reduce odor.  They don’t actually compost your scraps, though, so you should still empty them into your compost pile or bin.  The real composting requires more than those receptacles can do.

Don’t forget that you can regrow some of your food scraps. Check out this video to find out which vegetables can be regrown.

 In the Yard & Garden

If you grow your own food, composting is a must!  Any healthy trimmings or waste can be added to your compost pile.  The compost produced will replenish the nutrients in the soil, reduce water use, and provide a healthy environment for next year’s garden.  If you’d like to learn more about the relationship between plants, the soil, and the microbes that live there, I’d recommend watching Symphony of the Soil.

Grass clippings and diseased trimmings from your garden can be problematic for compost bins.  Grass clippings are high in moisture and can change the ph balance of your compost, especially if you are going to be adding high-moisture content kitchen scraps.  A better practice is to allow the grass clippings to compost in place right on top of your lawn in a process known as mulching.  Reel mowers are the best choice if you intend to mulch the clippings.  You can find American made reel mowers here.

Diseased clippings and plants may survive the composting process, so careful consideration should be given before adding them to your compost pile.  The same is also true of some weed seeds, tubers, corms, and rhizomes.  Compost piles can reach 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit, but problem additions need to be exposed to those temperatures for 72 hours (three days) and all the problem material needs to be exposed to those temperatures.  When in doubt, either don’t add it or create a separate quarantine compost pile.

Meat and bones present their own problems.  Although meat and bones will decompose and turn into compost, it attracts vermin and other wildlife (like predators) much more often than plant-based composting material.  Flies are attracted to the decaying meat and you may find maggots in your compost pile.  If you’re new to composting, stick with plant-based materials for your compost pile until it’s well-established.

 Compost

There are several options to choose from when composting depending on your space, time, and physical abilities. All of them require a balance of materials to compost correctly and efficiently.  Ideally, composting should recreate the conditions found in nature for the natural decay process.  To achieve that, four components are needed: organic waste (kitchen waste, leaves, woody material, paper in small amounts, etc), soil (to provide microorganisms), water (60% is optimal for microorganisms to break down the material), and air (for oxygen).

“The compost pile actually has a complex organization of living organisms — a foodweb. Bacteria and fungi primarily break down the organic matter in the trash. Single-celled organisms (protozoa), small worms (nematodes), and mites feed on the bacteria and fungi. Predatory nematodes, predatory mites and other invertebrates (sow bugs, millipedes, beetles) feed on the protozoa, mites and nematodes. All of these organisms work to balance the population of organisms within the compost, which increases the efficiency of the entire process.” Source

In order to create a hospital environment for your hardworking microorganisms, it’s important to have the correct nutrient balance, or carbon to nitrogen ratio (C:N).  Think of it as browns and greens.  Browns would be things like dead, dried leaves, small wood chips, twigs, etc (carbons).  Greens could be fresh trimmings from your garden or kitchen scraps (high in nitrogen and moisture).  The optimal ratio to start a compost pile is 30:1.  For example, a recipe using 1 part leaves and 1 part food waste by volume would achieve close to a 30:1 ratio.

Moisture content is important to the microorganisms and the other hard working insects that will inhabit your healthy compost pile.  For instance, did you know that sow bugs (aka pill bugs, woodlouse, roly-poly) are actually crustaceans?

“Living in a terrestrial environment, woodlice breathe through trachea-like lungs in their paddle-shaped hind legs (pleopods), called pleopodal lungs. Woodlice need moisture because they rapidly lose water by excretion and through their cuticle, and so are usually found in damp, dark places, such as under rocks and logs, although one species, Hemilepistus reaumuri, inhabits “the driest habitat conquered by any species of crustacean”.[22] They are usually nocturnal and are detritivores, feeding mostly on dead plant matter.” Source

However, moisture content above 70% can create an anaerobic environment and increase the chances of the compost pile developing a foul odor.  It also slows down the composting action since composting relies on living organisms to happen and nothing will live without air.  The best way to test your compost pile is to squeeze a handful of it.  It shouldn’t drip water or be too dry and crumbly and instead should clump together in a soft, non-dripping ball in your hand.

The structure of the compost pile can range from “piling” (also known as passive composting) which is quite literally just making a pile of organic matter and letting nature take its course, to constructing containers or bins to hold the compost in place.  Piling takes the longest to decompose and the pile of organic matter should always get a top dressing of finished compost or soil to inoculate it with microorganisms.

Bins, three-sided structures, can be made from wire mesh or wooden frames.  Welded wire and reclaimed pallets are a popular choice for building material.  Drum or “tumbler” composters are an excellent choice for those who have a difficult time lifted a heavily loaded shovel or rake due to mobility issues.  There are also many ideas on the Internet to build your own tumbler composter out of material you might have on hand.

We’re getting ready for winter and have recently spread our finished compost out in an area with poor soil.  In the first picture, you can see how hard and packed the native soil here is in the Sierras (known as decomposed granite).

compost 1In this photo, we’ve spread our finished compost and incorporated it into the hard dirt.  Notice how much more moisture the compost amended soil holds compared to the natural, unimproved soil.  They were both watered at the same time, but the compost enriched soil is still moist.

compost 2Our perennial landscaping is mulched with a new dressing of fallen leaves for winter.  This will compost in place (piling or passive composting) and provide a deep mulch layer for our bushes and trees.  This is especially important now with the severe drought in California.  We haven’t watered our bushes and trees in over two years, yet they’re showing no signs of drought stress.

compost 3Composting is a great way to reduce the amount of food waste and yard debris from going to landfills, it provides a wonderful “free” amendment to poor soils, and can even reduce your water use and save you money.  With all the different methods, it’s easy to find one that fits within the space you have available and the time you have to commit to it.  Up next, we’ll talk about one of my favorite composting methods- vermicomposting.  Stay tuned!

Ruby is a first generation Californian who grew up in the heart of the Central San Joaquin Valley farming community. She’s been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition