5+1 Organic Remedies For Your Spring Garden

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It’s almost that time of year again – time to set out your plants and get that beautiful garden growing! But, one of the biggest problems that many of us face is that we grow our own food to avoid chemicals, but we need fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to really get the most out of our labor.

Don’t worry – there are excellent organic options to help your garden grow.

Read the article below to discover them!

Seeds

You’re not going to grow anything of quality if you don’t start with good seeds. It’s easy to go the cheap route and buy seeds at the dollar store, but do your research. This isn’t the place that you want to skimp because if you do it right, you’ll only have to buy seeds once because next year, you’ll use ones that you harvest from your own crop.

Now, you’ve likely heard of GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism.” Scientists literally modify the DNA of the plant to make it “better.” Of course, we know that actually means, “more profitable,” not “more healthy.”

Because science tinkered with the natural structure of the plant, the seeds are unreliable. You may get great results by replanting them, or none of them may grow. Besides, GMO have been linked to several different illnesses. Skip them.

You want to go with heirloom seeds because they’ve been carefully cultivated from one type of plant for generations. They’re reliable and safe. To learn more about the different types of seeds, check out this article.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills for survival cooking! 

Organic Fertilizer

In the event SHTF, you might not be able to run down to the garden center and pick up a bag of Miracle Gro. Why would you want to even when you can? You can make your own fertilizer at home that’s every bit as good as the store-bought stuff, and you know exactly what’s in it.

But what if your tomato plants grow just fine? I’ll be rude and answer a question with a question. How do you know that they’re growing fine? Sure, they may be growing and producing, but here’s the thing – our soil is depleted.

That means that what passes for a tomato today likely only has a fraction of the nutrients that it had 100 years ago. Too many seasons of constant planting without a break has sucked all the nutrients out of the soil, and if there’s none in the soil, well, there’s none in the plant.

So you need fertilizer. Your compost is going to be a huge part of that, but you can also add nutrients in other ways, such as by mixing Epsom salt around your tomatoes and peppers or by mixing a bit of diluted vinegar in if your soil isn’t acidic enough. Check out this article for more tips for fertilizer, but don’t skip it, whatever you do!

Video first seen on GrowVeg

Compost

This is probably the most proactive step you can take for a healthy garden, but to do it right, you’re going to need to do it right. You can put many things, from food scraps to paper and ash in it, but there are definitely some no-nos.

Now, before you start saying that you can’t have a compost pile because you don’t have a big enough area, let me stop you because you only need an area the size of a bin to have a compost pile … err, bin.

Oh, and you can have liquid manure compost – aka manure tea – too. It’s exceptionally good for plants that require extra nitrogen. Manure tea is exactly what it sounds like – manure that’s been steeped in water. It’s a bit involved and takes some time, but it’s well worth the end result. It’s especially good for plants with deep roots.

Herbicides

Oh, those nasty weeds. Of course, if you’re container gardening, it’s not such a hassle, but if you have a traditional garden, it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively. And if you opt to use commercial herbicides, you’re often defeating one of the purposes of growing your own garden  by using chemicals on your food.

Fortunately, you have many natural options that will work just as well as harmful chemicals. First, mulch is an excellent idea for several reasons. It helps keep the weeds to a minimum, it holds the moisture in the soil, and it acts as a natural fertilizer when it breaks down. That’s assuming you make your own mulch, which is cheap (or free), or buy organic mulch, which is NOT cheap or free.

Another option that isn’t exactly an herbicide but works as well as one is to use landscape fabric, which you can also make yourself from recycled sheets, feed sacks, etc. Or, you can buy it. It prevents weeds from growing by blocking out the sunlight. A natural result of this is that it helps hold moisture in the soil as well.

Boiling water works, too. It’ll kill a weed quick, but this isn’t particularly effective if you’re treating your entire garden.

Borax, bleach, vinegar, and salt water are also effective herbicides though you may need to repeat the process. Add a little liquid dish detergent to each for an extra boost. Be sure to spray these only on the leaves of the plants that you want to kill because none of them discriminate.

Be careful not to saturate the soil because all of them alter the pH and can have catastrophic effects on your plants.

Video first seen on Grow Your Heirlooms

Insecticides

This is the big bad of the chemicals that most people consider necessary to growing a healthy, productive garden. And it’s true – nothing will wipe out a garden faster that a horde of hungry aphids, beetles, or other flying or crawling creatures.

Fortunately, you have options here, too, and some of them, such as dish detergent, serve double duty and kill weeds, too.

Neem is probably the most effective. It’s been used for centuries and has more than 50 natural insecticides. Since it’s safe for you, your pets, and your plants, you can use it without worrying about damage. The only problem is that the bug has to actually eat the plant to die, so if you have an infestation of something, you may have some losses before you win the battle.

Himalayan salt kills spider mites. Just mix 2 Tbsp. of salt in 1 gallon of water and mist onto infested areas.

Chrysanthemum flower spray is lethal to insects because it paralyzes their nervous systems and immobilizes them. Just boil 3.5 ounces of flowers with a liter of water into a tea and spray directly on the plant. The spray stores for up to 2 months. Add some neem oil to give it an extra boost.

I call this the pizza spray – it’s made of 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium sliced onion, and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add them to a quart of water and let it soak for an hour. You don’t want to cook it; just let it soak. Add a tablespoon of liquid soap and spray directly onto the plant. This will stay potent for a week or better in the fridge.

Grind a couple of handfuls of dried chilis and add to a cup of diatomaceous Earth, then add 2 liters of water. Let it soak overnight, then shake it up and apply.

Other natural pesticides include orange oil, citrus oil. Eucalyptus oil, soap, and mineral oil. Dilute them with water and spray directly onto the plant.

Note that, with the exception of the soap, all of these concoctions are drinkable (though I don’t imagine that you’d want to) so you’re not going to poison yourself.

Critters

Bunnies and deers are really cute until you find them eating your carrots and corn. Then, not so much. As a matter of fact, so may say that they’d look delicious on  a plate side-by-side with said veggies after they’re busted dining on your labors.

I once lost an entire crop of cherries overnight because apparently the birds had been waiting for them to be perfect just as I had, but they were up earlier than I was. Two words – bird netting.

But, they do have minds of their own and aren’t easily deterred. Some good ideas that may help you keep from feeding the neighborhood wildlife instead of saving it all for yourself are as follows:

Marigolds. Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife hate the smell of them so plant them around your perimeter. You can also build chicken wire fences around your garden, or around the plants that you’re worried about.

Raccoons and some other animals hate the smell of Epsom salt – which, by the way, isn’t a salt so it won’t kill your plants. Just sprinkle it around the perimeter of the garden. It also increases the magnesium in your soil, so your plants may thank you.

Solar motion-activated lights may help scare them off, especially if you relocate them regularly so that the animals don’t get used to them.

Finally, you can cover your plants at night using tulle netting – that gauzy stuff that a bride’s veil is made of. For that matter, if you’re only covering it at night, you can use light sheets or other fabric that won’t break the plants.

We’ve covered most of the ways that you can grow a healthy, delicious garden without worrying about chemicals leeching into your foods. Plus, most of these suggestions are free or super cheap, so it’s a win in all directions!

Do you wonder what are the secrets that helped our grandparents grow their own food to survive during harsh times?

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If you have any more ideas about organic remedies to keep your survival garden healthy, share them in the comments section below. Happy gardening!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Build A Walipini Greenhouse

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We use cellars because they maintain a more constant temperature than structures that are built above-ground. We use greenhouses to extend the growing season because they hold in heat. Well what if you combined a greenhouse and a cellar? You’d have a greenhouse that would allow you to grow plants year-round.

This type of greenhouse is called a geothermal, pit or, Walipini greenhouse, and is common in South America. ‘Walipini’ means ‘place of warmth’ in Aymara Indian, and it’s an apt name.

Basically, the idea is that once you get below the frost line (3-5 feet below the surface, the Earth maintains a fairly constant temperature. In the US, that temperature is typically around 45-50 degrees in the northern states and 50-70 in the south. That range makes for perfect plant-growing temperatures, especially when you add a covering to one side that sun can shine through and warm it up a bit.

You’re harnessing the existing geothermal heat by digging 6-8 feet underground and capturing and storing solar radiation in order to create a near-ideal growing climate that’s resistant to surface-level temperature changes.

Benefits of a Walipini Greenhouse

There’s the most obvious benefit – you extend your growing season, or even make it so that you can grow food year-round.

Another reason that this type of greenhouse may appeal to preppers is that, depending on how you build it, it’s not obvious what’s in it so your food will be better hidden.

I’ve even seen articles about Walipinis that are built in such a way that they are a self-sustaining unit containing animals, aquaculture, and hydroponic plants. That’s a bit complicated and beyond the scope of what we’re doing today, but it can be done.

If you live in a dry climate, another advantage is that your Walipini is going to hold moisture from the ground in. You can help this along by using water along the wall to help pull the heat from the earth. That way, you’re making the air warmer and moister. Plants will love you. Actually, take condensation into consideration when you’re building.

The final advantage that a Walipini or pit greenhouse has is that you can build the whole thing for just a few hundred bucks. Less if you already have the materials.

Learn from our ancestors the old lessons of growing your own food.

How to Situate your Walipini Greenhouse

The first thing you need to do before you start gathering materials is determine where you’re going to build. You need to know a couple of things when you make this decision:

  • your local water table
  • how large you want your greenhouse to be. The larger it is, the more stable the temperature will be.

Ideally, a Walipini greenhouse is built by digging into the ground so that 3 sides and the floor are underground, and the exposed side, which is covered with windows or plastic, is built facing the winter sun – south in the northern hemisphere – and at a 90-degree angle to the sun. Think digging into a hillside, then covering the hole with plastic, which is actually a pretty good description.

Of course, what’s ideal isn’t always realistic. We don’t all live in places that even have hills to dig into. You can also dig them so that they’re just a pit and the sun is directly overhead. Of course, you’ll see that you can use the dirt that you remove from the pit to build up the rear side of the pit both for better insulation and to give you that angle for your plastic that will both help with rain run-off and position your light better.

The important things are that you dig beyond the frost-line, provide good insulation that will pull the heat in, and make sure that you don’t dig below the water line. Obviously, that would be bad. You need to make sure that the floor will be at least 4 feet above the water line.

Now, if you live in an area where the water table is measured in inches instead of feet, (many coastal areas) that doesn’t mean that you can’t build this – it just means that you need to be a bit more creative and that most  of your structure will be above ground and you’ll pile dirt around it.

Video first seen on Ben Green

What do you Need to Build a Walipini Greenhouse?

At its most basic, all that’s needed is (maybe) wooden support beams (2x4s or poles), greenhouse plastic or windows, and insulating materials – natural soil may be used for the walls if it’s structurally sound enough to hold up – such as clay or mud bricks, clay, straw bales, earth bags, concrete, cinderblocks, or stone. Of course, you’ll need nails or screws for the support beams, and a door and door frame.

Video first seen on elicia clegg

Digging out your Walipini

When you start to dig, save the topsoil to use as the soil in the floor of your Walipini because the sub-soil won’t be good for growing. You can use the remaining dirt that you remove to build up the back berm of the structure so that you have better insulation and a higher back wall.

Many people dig a drainage ditch around the Walipini to help the water flow around the greenhouse instead of into it.

Dig down at least 6 feet (8 or 10 feet is even better) as long as you’re maintaining your distance from the water line. If you’re building into a hillside, you’re literally going to scoop a section out of the hill so that the back wall is vertical and the floor is horizontal.

If you’re building a pit, pile the soil that you’re removing so that it creates a berm behind and on the north side of the hole.

Remember when you’re digging that you’re going to be insulating the walls and floor so you’ll be adding at least a foot or so back to what you’re digging out. Account for that when you’re designing it.

There are so many different ways to design your Walipini based on your needs and geography that telling you where to put the door wouldn’t be of much help; just remember not to build one into your plans when you’re designing the Walipini.

Once you have your whole dug, reinforce your north, east, and west walls with whatever you chose as your insulator. Natural stone and brick are both great choices because they naturally pull the heat (and moisture) from the ground and into the greenhouse. Some people choose to line the floors with stones and some don’t.

Now, you have to decide if you’re going to plant directly into the floor or are you going to treat this as a standard greenhouse and use containers? I also saw a few great examples of container garden-type methods.

If you’re planting straight onto the floor, it’s a good idea to put a layer of gravel 6 or 8 inches deep under the soil to help with drainage and to pull more heat up from the ground. You can use compost or manure under the topsoil because it naturally generates heat as it decomposes and will help warm things up.

After you get your walls built, it’s time to cover the pit. I’ve seen several examples where people built a vent into the roof in order to let some of the heat escape. This may sound silly, but the inside of a Walipini can be as high as 100 degrees even in its below freezing outside – that’s no exaggeration.

So, either build in a vent or be prepared to leave the door open or cracked for part of the day in case it does get too hot.

The roof (cover) doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be clear plastic stapled over a wooden frame with braces every few feet.

There you have it – the basics on how to build a Walipini greenhouse. It’s a simple yet effective method to help grow plants during the winter or even in climates that aren’t typically conducive to gardening at all.

Click the banner below to discover the long forgotten secrets that helped our forefathers survive during harsh times!

Do you have a Walipini or pit greenhouse? If so, please share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments section below. Also, feel free to ask questions.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

How To Grow Tomatoes For Survival

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If I were told that I could only grow one vegetable (err…technically fruit, but that’s irrelevant) in my garden, I would pick tomatoes. Why? Because they’re delicious, nutritious, easy to grow anywhere, and you can use them in so many ways that you’d likely never get sick of them. You almost have to grow tomatoes for survival if you want your garden to be complete.

Just a single cup of tomatoes provides about half of your RDA of Vitamin C (move over orange juice), 25% of your RDA of Vitamin A, some Vitamin K just for kicks, and minerals including iron, potassium, folic acid, Lycopene and calcium. Plus, tomatoes have been linked to cancer prevention. Not too shabby for a little red, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, or pink fruit/vegetable, is it? Oh and did I mention that they come in an array of colors?

But which ones should you grow? How long do they take? Do they have particular needs? How much space do you need? There’s definitely a bit more to growing quality tomatoes than just grabbing a pack of seeds at the dollar store, but throughout the following paragraphs, you’re going to learn enough to get you started.

Different Types of Tomatoes

Many people grow several different varieties of tomatoes because there are so many uses for them. Just like anything else, most tomatoes are better for one purpose than another. For instance, if you want to grow tomatoes for juice and for eating raw, you’ll likely want two different types of tomatoes.

Of course, there are definitely good all-around tomatoes, but variety is most certainly to spice of life. And since there’s very little difference in planting and growing, why not grow different ones best suited to your individual needs?

Here are some of the reasons you may want to grow tomatoes:

  • Slicing, or eating tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes for salads
  • Plum tomatoes for eating or cooking
  • Juice tomatoes
  • Sauce tomatoes
  • Whole canned tomatoes
  • Tomatoes for chutneys.

Now, think about it. If you want to slice a nice, meaty tomato to put on your burger, you want plenty of “meat,” right? But if you want to can whole tomatoes, you’ll want something a bit smaller, and with a different consistency. And of course, if you want a little tomato for a salad, you need yet another type.

That’s the beauty of tomatoes; there are hundreds of options. All you have to do is find the ones you like best!

Learn from our ancestors the old lessons of growing and preserving your own food for harsh times. 

Types of Seeds

There are four main types of seeds out there: GMO, hybrid, heirloom, and open pollination.

GMO

These seeds have been genetically modified at the DNA level in a lab. They’re meant to make the seed better in some form or another. However, because the plant has been altered at the genetic level, you may find it difficult to get the next generation of seeds to grow, or to produce tomatoes that are the same as the ones in the first generation.

Hybrid

These are often mistaken for GMO, but they’re vastly different. They’re a naturally-occurring plant that occurs when one variety pollinates with another. Think of the hybrid as a family – a mother and dad get married and have a child that shares their traits – hopefully the best of each parent.

Hybrids have no problem growing but may not be consistent from one generation of seeds to another. First generation plants and fruit tend to be more consistent in size and shape and are often more disease resistant than heirlooms, but you don’t know what you’re going to get next year.

Open-Pollinated

These plants are the result of plants that are grown close together pollinating each other in a natural manner. You’ll have some genetic variability because of this, and when the seed is saved, those traits are passed onto the next generation. Open-pollination tomatoes are often regionally unique and have unusual shapes, colors and flavors.

These are the seeds that most farmers count on, because they’re reliable. You can save the seeds with a high degree of confidence that they’ll grow next year.

Heirlooms

The queen of seeds. Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been carefully preserved for generations – usually 50 years or more. They’re carefully tended so that the traits are consistent from one generation to another. The one trait that heirlooms have is that the fruit can vary greatly in size and shape even on the same plant. That’s not always the case, and it’s not really a bad thing – just something to make note of when you’re growing them.

Heirlooms grow consistently from one year to the next, so you can save your seeds and have the same exact plant next year.

So What Seeds are Best?

Many people grow hybrids and love them; for that matter, I have too. But if I’m saving seeds, it’s the ones from my hybrids and open-pollinated ones because I know that they’ll grow and I know what I’ll get. 

Growing Conditions

This is yet another trait that I love about tomatoes – no matter where you live, there’s a variety that will grow for you. Well, almost. If you live in an area that has no warm weather to speak of, or an extremely short (less than 50 day) growing cycle, your choices are limited unless you want to grow them inside, or in a greenhouse.

Altitude affects every single aspect of growing – temperature, soil conditions, precipitation, and humidity. In high-altitude climates, you often have short growing seasons, soil that’s either rocky and alkaline or shaded and acidic, too much rain, not enough rain, and a ton of wildlife that’s just waiting for you to grow them some delicious food.

But don’t despair, you can grow great tomatoes just about anywhere you want as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

What do Tomatoes Need to Grow?

I read a story about a couple who invested all of their summer into a tomato crop only to yield a single fruit. They’d gone out of town one weekend and forgotten to tell their friends to water them, and that’s what did it.

Now of course, that’s a tall tale, but it’s not far off. Tomatoes need a consistent amount of water, especially when the fruit is ripening. But if you water them too much during this period, they’ll be washed out and flavorless.

So if your tomato could pick its ideal situation (and it can because if you don’t listen, it won’t grow) what would it be? There are some variances in their needs, such as length of growing seasons, but in general, the necessary components to successfully growing tomatoes are:

  • Temperature – tomatoes need an average of 3-4 months or warm, fairly dry weather to grow and produce well. In order to “set” fruit – a gardening term that means that your plant will produce fruit after flowering and pollination. Generally, they need nighttime temperatures of 55-75 degrees F for this to happen. They won’t develop the proper color if night time temps are above 85, and most will quit growing if nighttime temps are over 95 degrees. Now, there are tomatoes that thrive in hot weather, so if this is your situation, do some research and find them. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
  • Sunlight – Your plants need at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of sunshine per day. If you live somewhere temperate, 8 is great. If you live in the sweltering south, then 6 with a nice shady afternoon will be appreciated.
  • Consistent Watering – This part is SUPER important. You want your soil to be moist but not wet. Too much will kill the plant, too little will stop the fruit from growing, or will give it a poor texture and flavor if it does grow.
  • Proper, regular feeding – Tomatoes like nitrogen in the soil, so prepare the soil with ripe compost and a scoop of aged manure in the bottom of the hole when you plant it. Another trick is to add some Epsom salt to the soil monthly.

You can do this via just sprinkling a couple teaspoons around the plant, or by mixing a couple of tablespoons in a gallon of water and watering your plants with it. Be careful though, because too much nitrogen will give you a beautiful plant but will delay ripening. Add nitrogen when the top leaves turn yellow and the stem turns purple.

  • Loose soil that drains well – honestly, they prefer this but will grow in nearly any type of soil as long as you provide the proper nutrients. If you have plants that harvest early, sandy loamy soil is best. Plants that bear fruit late like heavier loamy clay. They also like slightly acidic soil with a pH somewhere between 6 and 7.
  • Take Care of the Roots and Leaves – tomatoes are a good plant to start inside because if you live in most zones, you want your plants to be 8-10 weeks old when you set them out 2 weeks or so after the last frost. It’s important that you wait this long because if you get an “oops” freeze, your plants are done.

You also need to protect them from wind that can break them and try to keep the vines off of the ground to help protect them from mold and bugs. Bugs love tomatoes, so be proactive in your insect prevention and check the leaves, top and underside, regularly.

Planting Your Tomatoes

Ok, not that we have that set aside, let’s talk about how to grow your plants. This is the exciting part – well, one of them anyway!

It’s best to prep your soil a week or two in advance by turning in some aged manure and compost. A bit of Epsom salt may help too, if your soil is low in nitrogen. Rest easy – though salt will kill your soil, Epsom salt isn’t actually sodium – it’s actually magnesium and sulfur. The magnesium helps your plant absorb nitrogen.

Some people just dig the hole for the plant and plop a trowel full of compost/manure in the bottom. This may be OK, but make sure that both are well-aged so that you don’t burn up your plants. I’d recommend mixing it into the soil.

If you started your plants from seeds, they should be at least 8 weeks old now, and you should harden them off for a week or so before you plan to plant them out doors. This just means that you’ll start putting them out for a couple of hours per day, protecting them at first from the sun and wind, then gradually increasing their time spent outside so that it’s not such a shock when you actually transplant them.

Now, let’s plant. You can plant them in your garden, or tomatoes make excellent container plants. 5-gallon buckets work great.

Dig a hole with your trowel about 6-8 inches deep. Remember that your soil should be loose. Pull off the bottom few leaves  of the plant, then put it in the ground so that the root ball is buried and the remaining leaves are above the surface of the ground.

Plant them about 2 feet apart.

Water well to help reduce shock to its roots.

Stake or cage immediately. This doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but trust me – in a few weeks when they’re growing like gangbusters, you won’t find it nearly so easy as you do right now.

Water your plants well for the first few days to help prevent shock and help it to acclimate. Water consistently throughout the season so that your soil stays at about the same saturation. In some growing conditions, you may be able to get away with watering once a week, but 2 or 3 times is better. They’ll need about 2 inches per week.

Just a tip here – using homemade mulch is a great idea because it helps hold moisture in AND it helps fertilize at the same time. You can put the mulch down when you plant or you can wait a few weeks to do it. Don’t forget about liquid manure compost, either.

Keeping a steady fertilization schedule is good, too, Follow the tips above about that.

When your plants begin to vine and you get them staked, it’s a good idea to pinch off sucker leaves – those leaves that don’t lead to more vine but only exist to suck the moisture from your plant.

Wait for your bumper crop of tomatoes to appear!

Video first seen on Rogers Gardens

Preservation Methods

Now comes the fun part. The best way that I like to preserve my tomatoes is in between two slices of bread – oh wait, it doesn’t last long like that! Seriously though, there are a number of ways that you can preserve your tomatoes. Each way ends up using a canning method, but there are many different ways that you can prepare them for preservation including sun-drying and adding to olive oil, or dehydrating.

Juicing and Sauce

I can’t even tell you how many tomatoes I’ve mashed through a sieve with a wooden  pestle to make juice! All you need to do is cut your tomatoes into quarters and toss them into a saucepan. Bring them to a boil for 5 minutes to soften them up and get the skins all loose. The juice will start separating out.

After they’ve simmered for that five minutes, turn off the heat and pour some of them over into your sieve or food mill (which is over a pot or bowl, of course) to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. Mash them through and pour the juice back into a pan and bring to boiling again for another 5 minutes, then can.

You should add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint just to boost the acidity enough to preserve it. I also add in a teaspoon of salt per quart (1/2 tsp. per pint).

Water bath can as usual or 35 minute for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. If you’re pressure canning, it’s 15 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts.

Note that your juice may “clarify”, or separate so that the bottom is dark red with the tomato pulp in it and the top is almost clear. This is perfectly normal – just shake it up before you use it.

If you want to make sauce instead of juice, it’s simply a matter of cooking it longer so that the water evaporates and the juice thickens. You can make plain tomato sauce if you want, but this is a great time to jazz it up by adding seasonings such as garlic, oregano, rosemary, etc. Think spaghetti, pizza, taco sauce, etc.

Whole, Crushed or Diced

Blanch your tomatoes for just a couple of seconds – that is, dip them in boiling water for 10 seconds then toss them into an ice bath. An old Italian guy (because nobody knew more about tomatoes than this guy) taught me that if you slice a small ‘x’ somewhere on the bottom of the tomato, it makes it easier to peel. The skin will fall right off and you can proceed to the next step.

Once you get the skins off, cut away any bad parts or green sections. If you’re canning them whole, stuff them into the jars. If you’re halving, quartering, dicing, or crushing them first, do it now. And add them to the jars and top with water so that you leave 1/2 inch headroom, at least. Add lemon juice and salt, seal, and can.

Paste

The process of making tomato paste is similar to making the juice except you cook it WAY down into a super thick sauce, then add olive oil and salt and bake it in a 200-degree oven, spread evenly in  pan, until it’s the thickness of tomato paste.

Chutney, Salsa, Etc.

This is possibly the best part! Make your favorite salsas and chutneys with tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and other spices and can them up so that you have some of this deliciousness year round!

As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into growing tomatoes, but there are so many different ways that you can use them that it barely qualifies as work. It’s like growing an entire winter’s worth of possibilities all with just a few plants.

Study what kind of tomatoes you want to grow and get started! What are some of your favorite tomatoes? Do you have a recipe or an idea you’d like to share?

Discover how our forefathers produced their own food during harsh times! Click the banner below for more!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

References:

http://leitesculinaria.com/87323/recipes-homemade-tomato-paste-conserva-di-pomodori.html

How Long Does Shelf Food Really Last

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Just about any food item that you pick up is going to have a date that says something along the lines of “sell by,” “best if used by,” or “use by.” The question is, though, how important are those dates? Well, in some instances, they’re important. In others, not so much.

Baby formulas have strict dates on them – they’re about the only foods absolutely required by law to have them. Stores can’t sell them beyond that date and it’s not recommended that you use them beyond that, either.

Perishable Items

Perishable items such as milk, eggs, and meats should be used by the date on the package. Most meats have a “sell by” date, which means that the store or producer has likely figured that you’re going to keep it in your fridge for up to a week after that, so they allow a little wiggle room.

If you buy perishables that are within a couple of days of the “sell by” date, either use it or freeze it within a day or so just to be safe. It’s always a good idea, especially with meat, to eat it or freeze it within a few days of buying it even if you haven’t reached that date. (Poultry – 1-3 days, other meats, 3-5 days) It’s better to be safe than suffer food poisoning.

Now, if you’re talking about perishables that came from your farm, you may have a little more wiggle room.

Discover the ingenious recipes that helped our ancestors stay alive!

Eggs

Eggs most certainly last longer – It’s not uncommon for an egg to be a couple of weeks old by the time you buy them at the grocery store so if you’re pulling them straight from under the hen as soon as she lays it, you have some extra fridge time on those babies.

When you buy them from the store, you still have a minimum of 3-5 weeks that they’ll be good. Want to know if an egg is bad? Use the water test. If you put it in a container of water and it sinks, it’s fresh. If it sort of hover-floats with one end sticking up, but the rest trying to sink, it’s not so fresh anymore but edible. If it floats like your bobber in the middle of a choppy sea, toss it.

Milk

Milk, on the other hand, may not have any extra time, especially if you don’t pasteurize it – which we never did. The good thing about milk is that you don’t have to guess if it’s good or not. One solid swig of spoiled milk and there’s no doubt left in your mind! I’ve found that the “sell by” dates on my store-bought milk (oh how I miss the good stuff!!) usually allows me a week or so beyond it to drink it up.

Other foods, such as canned foods or shelf-stable foods, have the same tags, but this often has more to do with quality than safety.

For instance, I found a box of mac and cheese in the cabinet (I rarely cook that type of food, so it had been there awhile). The mystery cheese powder was a little dark and I found that the “best by” date was nearing. Like within a week. I mixed it up and, though I didn’t get sick, it didn’t taste that great. This is a good reason to practice the First-In-First-Out rotation method.

Food Preserved at Home

Food that you preserve at home has expiration dates, too, or at least some of them do. So, let’s talk about expiration dates, when they’re relevant, why they’re important, and how you can keep track.

The best way to determine if perishable foods are good is to look at them, feel them, and give them the sniff test. Bad meat will smell “off” and may look a little discolored and feel slimy. Especially with poultry, if you suspect it may be bad, pitch it – it’s not worth the risk.

If you ever run across a commercial can of food that’s bulging or leaking, toss it. If your home-canned goods are leaking or the seal has popped, toss it. If, when you open either commercial or home-canned goods, the food is frothy, discolored, milky, slimy, or smells off, toss it. Those are all pretty good signs that botulism is present.

After you throw it away, scrub your hands in hot, soapy water. That’s a bug that’s meaner than old Aunt Sally when she’s lost her teeth and her panty hose are twisted, and you don’t want to mess with it.

Canned Foods

I grew up on a farm and learned about food preservation early. We always canned enough to get us through for two years each season. That means that often, even when we rotated the foods out, we had foods that didn’t get eaten for several years because we may have overestimated.

Mom always said it was better to have too much put back than not enough. Of course, foods like apple pie filling didn’t usually last that long! We lived on a farm and we all hunted, which means that we had plenty of meat. We typically canned the majority of that. We’d make spaghetti sauce, canned meatballs, soups, and other meals in a jar, in addition to canning them separately.

Some we dehydrated into jerky, but that was usually just for fun – it never lasted more than a couple of days.

As far as home-canned foods are concerned, most “official” agencies will tell you that it’s good for anywhere from 5-10 years. Some even speculate that it’s good for up to 20. I loved the part in the movie “Holes” where the kid was trapped in the desert and lived off of 100-year-old canned spiced peaches that he dubbed “sploosh” because they were just mush.

I don’t know if I’d let my canned goods go quite that long, but I’d be comfortable eating them at 10 years, for sure. As a matter of fact, I have.

Dried Goods

Foods such as flour, salt, sugar, rice, and beans all have really long shelf lives. As a matter of fact, the only one in the bunch that really has an expiration date is the flour, and even it’s good for at least a year, though some say 6 months. As a baker, I can tell you that I’ve used flour that was a year old and it was fine.

That was all-purpose, though. When you get into the self-rising, it may go bad faster so do a test batch and add more salt and baking powder if you don’t get a good rise.

You can tell when flour goes bad because it gets a rancid smell to it and it may get oily or have a weird, sticky texture and off smell.

The most important step to take to getting the most mileage out of all of your dried goods is to store them properly: keep them in air-tight containers in cool, dark places.

Vacuum Sealing

I’ve taken to buying all of my cheese vacuum-sealed. The same thing goes for deli meat, if you can find it. Air is every food’s worst enemy because bacteria (except botulism) need air to grow. I even smash my packages of cheese, etc. flat and squeeze out as much air as possible, and it’s seriously increased my shelf time since doing that.

If you have a vacuum sealer at home, use it! Seriously, it can double or even triple the shelf life of food.

Dating

Sharpies are your friend. If you’re canning or preserving food at home, date everything that you make with the date that you made it. Then you know how long you’ve had it when you reach for it. For that matter, do the same thing with canned and shelf-stable foods that you buy at the store. Use either the date you bought it or the “best by” date. Then you don’t have to break out the magnifying glass to find the “best by” date.

FIFO

Organize your food so that the oldest food gets used first. This is easy to do by just putting the new food behind the older foods every time you bring in something new. Then you know for a fact that what’s in front is what you should use.

Finally, the shelf life of foods is most certainly affected by how you store it. Canned goods should always be stored in a cool, dark place. Milk, meat, and eggs should be refrigerated at about 35 degrees, and veggies should go in the crisper drawer because the temperature is different there, too.

Just as an aside, milk, butter, and other dairy products will freeze just fine, though they may separate a bit. The texture of your cheese may be a bit weird, too, but it should still taste fine. You can also home-can butter.

Knowing the shelf life of your foods is important, but what’s more important is knowing how to tell if they’re bad. If you even ask yourself, “Hmm. This looks/smells/feels weird. I wonder if it’s good?” then the answer is to toss it. Food poisoning is, at the very least, brutal until you get through it 5-8 hours later, and at its worst can be fatal.

Go forth and eat safely!

Click the banner below and discover our farfether’ survival food secrets!

If you can think of any tips or advice about food shelf life that I’ve missed here, please feel free to mention them in the comments section below!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Prep Blog Review: How To Cook From Scratch

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It isn’t as hard as it seems to cook delicious and nourishing food from scratch. Learning how to cook using natural, unprocessed ingredients is the first thing to do if you want to start homesteading, no matter where you live. Your family will love it!

Plus, cooking from scratch is super easy, as you will see in the following 4 articles I’ve gathered for you for this week’s Prep Blog Review.

  1. 35 Basic Ingredients You Need For Cooking From Scratch

“One thing anyone can do to start homesteading no matter where they live is cooking from scratch. It can help you eat healthier, save money, and reduce your dependence on the grocery store. However, it can be hard to make homemade meals all the time, especially if you don’t know what to keep on hand.

If you keep these simple ingredients stocked in your pantry, you’ll be much better prepared to cook all kinds of wholesome, simple meals with ease. Note: I included links to some brands I’ve tried myself, but for most of these, there are plenty of other great options.”

Read more on Homestead Survival Site.

  1. Mississippi Pot Roast Recipe

“The Mississippi Pot Roast craze is almost as big as the Instant Pot craze. If you haven’t heard of Mississippi Pot Roast, just take a moment on Pinterest and you will!

Mississippi Pot Roast ready to be shredded.

This recipe has gone viral and after taking one bite, I totally understand why.

This isn’t you standard pot roast. The tangy flavor of the pepperoncinis combined with the ranch dressing flavor and mouth watering buttered meat makes this a family favorite.

Serve with buttered noodles or alongside of mashed potatoes and you have a new classic comfort meal. “

Read more on Old World Farm Garden.

  1. DIY Bone Broth For Nourishment During Hard Times

 

“Bone broth has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity in the last little while, but it’s actually been around for a while.

Some people refer to it as stock, but according to culinary experts, while stock and broth are related, they are distinct liquids with different characteristics.

Functionally, though, they are so similar that I’ll be treating them as though they are the same thing in this article.

One of my favorite meals growing up was my mom’s turkey noodle soup, made from the little bits of meat and bones of our leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

My mom would make a huge pot of it every year, which we would then keep in the fridge until someone felt a little peckish.

The broth would set up like Jell-O, so if we wanted some we’d have to gouge out a portion with a measuring cup; it would melt into a liquid in the microwave.”

Read more on The Survival Mom.

  1. How to Make and Can Vienna Sausage

“I stockpile a lot of canned goods, from tomatoes to chicken, to beans and beef. But my favorite canned goods are Libby’s chicken Vienna sausages (see picture).

So I tried to make them at home and believe it or not, they are more delicious than the ones I bought.

The ones I stock have a 3 year expiration date. I have eaten lots of things that were expired. These will still be good years after that. So in the title I mentioned a 2 years shelf life for my sausages, but it can actually be much more. We’ll find out.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.

Best Ideas On Growing A Garden In 5 Gallon Buckets

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Container gardening – growing plants in 5-gallon buckets, for example – is usually discussed in the context of (not enough) space.

The idea is that if you don’t have a “real” garden because you live in an apartment or your backyard is too small, container gardening would make for the best option. And-5 gallon buckets are the ultimate containers both in terms of availability and shape.

Also, they’re highly mobile, meaning that you can put them in the best spots to catch the sun and so on and so forth. Due to their versatility, resilience and low cost, 5-gallon buckets are already famous in the prepper community and they’ve also captured the imaginations of home gardeners.

Now, if you have enough buckets and you’re ready to put them to good use, just keep reading folks!

Eeven if you don’t have them yet, just poke around a little bit and you’ll discover that 5-gallon buckets are the definition of “readily available,” “dirt cheap” items. Just go cruise your nearby stores and restaurants or check out Craigslist.

Getting back to business, gardeners are doing remarkable things with 5-gallon buckets, things that you can’t even imagine actually. This humble piece of plastic is a tool of a thousand uses, which makes it extremely valuable to a prepper.

However, keep in mind that you must stay away from secondhand buckets that were used to held toxic stuff, like paint or what not. The ideal 5-gallon bucket to use for gardening purposes should be made out of food grade plastic, at least in a perfect world.

Now, if you’re going to grow flowers (as in non-edible stuff), you can forget about the food grade thingy, but keep an eye on toxic materials just in case.

Speaking of bucket supply, you have 2 choices: to buy brand new 5-gallon buckets from building supply stores or hardware stores, or to go scavenging bakeries, local restaurants, grocery stores, and similar places. These buckets often come with plastic fitted lids, so remember–it never hurts to ask, alright?

Now and then, you may be asked to cough up a couple of bucks for a sturdy, clean, used 5-gallon bucket, but that’s definitely worth it if it’s the right type. Even if they smell a little weird (they are used often for storing pickles and/or frozen products), don’t worry – the smell will go away relatively easy if you clean them right.

This proven-to-work portable device provides clean fresh water 24/7! 

With all these considerations taken care of, let’s see about some projects involving 5-gallon buckets, shall we?

Project 1 – DIY Alaska Grow Bucket

If you’re already scratching your head, an Alaska Grow Bucket is the scientific term for a bottom watering container. There’s nothing complicated, just fancy talk. These are the easiest DIY watering containers anyone can make to grow their own food at home.

The materials required are cheap and easy to acquire. Besides the famous 5-gallon bucket, you’ll need a fabric shopping bag and a plastic kitchen colander – you know, that piece of gear used for draining rice or pasta.

You’ll have to drill some ventilation holes (the more the better) and another irrigation hole for the water feed line. Ideally, you should use a power drill, but you can always improvise if you’re a meat eater. The irrigation line should be drilled as low on the bucket as possible, and then you’ll insert a plastic, T-shaped connector.

Video first seen on devineDiY

Project 2 – The Hanging Bucket Planter

If you don’t have much space, e.g. you’re living in a condo, you can DIY a hanging bucket planter for growing organic tomatoes. Obviously, you can use hanging bucket planters for growing a large variety of stuff, not only tomatoes, those are just a suggestion because tomatoes are a popular choice.

Also, if you have a small yard, this type of project will suit you like a glove. Making the best of one’s available space is next to Godliness for a true prepper, right?

For making tomato gardening great again, you’ll need:

  • a hook
  • a 5 gallon bucket
  • steel cable (galvanized utility wire)
  • a wall (the bucket will hang by the hook hammered/drilled in the wall).

The idea is that hanging a bucket planter outside your condo’s wall will provide your plants with plenty of sunshine, which is a necessary ingredient for growing big fat tomatoes (along with water and carbon dioxide).

Video first seen on Peter P.

Project 3 – The Raised Bed Bucket

Here you’ll learn how to grow veggies successfully in a raised bed garden using the famous 5-gallon bucket, thus making for a garden within a garden or something along these lines.

With this cool technique, you’ll be able to grow more food in less space and that’s the definition of efficiency and sustainability (don’t worry, I hate Agenda 21 too).

Here’s an interesting video about the reasons for growing vegetables in raised bed gardens.

Video first seen on Learn Organic Gardening at GrowingYourGreens

The concept behind this project is that plastic buckets are used for providing more soil depth for the plants thus allowing for more nutrients, more space for root growth and less frequent watering. This technique makes for a cool hack which will enable you to grow deep-rooted plants in a shallow garden.

Project 4 – The Self-watering Planter

This DIY job makes for the easiest way to build sub irrigated self-watering planters using PVC pipe, a 5 gallon bucket, and a milk jug for practically next to zero costs. You’ll have to cut some holes in the bottom of the bucket that are large enough for the water to drain through, so you’ll not flood your plants. It’s easiest to use a drill for this.

The jug must be placed inside the bucket with the PVC pipe stuck on the top of the milk jug. The jug gets filled with water (you’ll have to drill some holes in the upper part of the jug too) and then the bucket must be filled up with dirt, then you put a plant in it. Pretty simple and highly efficient.

Video first seen on Growing Little Ones for Jesus

Project 5 – The Hydroponics

Finally, here’s a cool idea about how to build a hydroponic DWC system with a trellis-type system for growing cucumbers, and obviously it involves a 5-gallon bucket. This project is a little bit more complicated, but it’s doable with a little bit of research and elbow grease.

The supply list includes a 5-gallon bucket, a 6” bucket lid net pot which can be bought online or at a local hydroponics store, a small airstone and air-pump (from Walmart), black hose for the airline, vinyl tee fittings, clear vinyl tubing, rubber grommets and wire green border fence.

Video first seen on Jksax914.

Now that you know how to grow a garden in a 5-gallon bucket, you could learn how to DIY your own portable device for an endless water supply.

Click the banner below and find out how to build your own portable device which provides fresh water 24/7!

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

Prep Blog Review: Gardening With Canning In Mind

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As spring is coming, I am already thinking about my healthy and beautiful garden and I am getting ready for the new preserving and canning season. One of the best things of growing your own food is that you and your loved ones will enjoy healthy and tasty food, fresh or canned, for a long time.

With this thing in mind, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered 4 articles on this topic to help you plan your garden with canning in mind.

  1. 22 Ways for Growing a Successful Vegetable Garden

“Spring is fast approaching, so are you planning to grow a healthy and beautiful vegetable garden that will help beautify your home’s outdoor and be a place of relaxation?

Growing your own fruits and vegetables in the yard lets you spend more time outside, at the same time saves your money for buying organic food.

So if you have the space to grow your own vegetables, you should definitely take advantage of that.

Even if you only have a small space, it isn’t an obstacle anymore in your effort to vegetable garden. In the following projects you will find a lot of vegetable garden designs to help you start your neat and tidy veggie garden that produces fresh and tasty food for you.

Take a look and get started!”

Read more on Backdoor Prepper.

  1. 7 Secrets to Successful Canning – How to Preserve This Year’s Harvest

“Now is the time to get ready for a successful canning and preserving season!

One of the best things about growing your own food is keeping it the year around for great homemade taste!

For an individual who wants to start canning for the first time, or for the seasoned veteran, here are a few secrets to help you have a successful canning season this year.

The results of our canning efforts one summer.

The most important thing to remember about canning is to simply not be afraid to try!  Maybe you have only water bathed before and never uses a pressure canner. Whatever it is, if you are feeling a little nervous, ask someone to help you or try it out with you.”

Read more on Old World Farms Garden.

  1. More Thoughts on Canned Goods and Food Storage

“Several weeks ago we established that canned goods are safe to eat far past their expiration date thus a great choice for food storage programs.

I received an email from someone saying that they felt tremendous pressure to prepare right now and due to their budget just could not afford to stock up on freeze dried food for the long term.

This motivated some additional words on the subject.

Every tragic disaster that takes place ultimately causes the question of “What now?” to be asked. More often than not “What are we going to eat?” and”How are we going to get food?” are also asked.

This doesn’t have to be in a Third World country as most anyone who has experienced the loss of a job or some other major financial personal SHTF has asked similar questions.”

Read more on 1776patriotusa.com.

  1. How to Store Food Storage In a Small House

“Have you sometimes wondered “how can I store food storage in a small home?”

Well, I have a fairly small home, it’s only 1900 square feet.

I am going to show you my home in small doses because otherwise, the post would take too long to load.

I have a three car garage, if you can call it a three car garage with the narrow one car section. You can barely fit two very small cars in the double garage and one car in the third stall.

Mark and I use the third garage section for our emergency preparedness items that can withstand the heat in the summer.

Everything else is stored inside my home.”

Read more on FoodStorageMom.

This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia. 

How To Make A Potato Pot

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I love potatoes. Boiled, mashed, fried, baked – it doesn’t matter how they’re served, I’ll eat them. They help stretch your food supply and provide energy when you need it the most.

Unless you have a place to grow a traditional garden, you may have discarded the idea of growing them, but you can make a potato pot and grow them wherever you want – and you can even take them with you if you need to bug out.

If you’re shooting for the “potato” that offers the most health benefits, shoot for yams or sweet potatoes. Though the names are often used interchangeably, they are not the same vegetable, nor do they have the same nutrients, though they’re both high in vitamins, particularly vitamin A. Technically, neither one are even potatoes but that’s outside the scope of this article.

How to Store Your Potatoes

If you were raised in the country, you likely remember the root cellars. Ever wonder why they’re called that? Me too, and the best explanation I can come up with is that they were used to store root vegetables – traditional white, yellow, or red potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, etc. All of these will store all winter if kept at the right temperature. The important thing is to not wash them because the dirt extends their shelf lives.

Unlike other potatoes, sweet potatoes love the warmth – unlike traditional spuds, room temperature is great for them. They’ll keep up to a year! Again, don’t wash them. And if you’re growing them yourself, as you’re going to be after you make your pots, do your best to leave them somewhere warm – 80 degrees is great – for 10 days or so after you harvest them. This promotes the growth of a chemical on the skin that protects them from rot and also “cures” them to make them sweet.

Another advantage to growing sweet potatoes is that you have a tremendous yield. Believe it or not, you can yield as much as 130 pounds of sweet potatoes from just 3 potatoes.

You can grow both sweet potatoes and “regular” potatoes in pots, but the process is different. We’ll take about the easiest and fastest way first, then tell you how to grow sweet potatoes.

Now, are you ready to get your hands dirty and make a potato pot that will produce a great crop of potatoes? Good. Let’s get started.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills for survival cooking! 

Making a Standard Potato Pot

First off, I have to say that this is the perfect  idea for a prepper because once you get it going, you’ll have potatoes literally forever without even needing to add dirt or fertilizer. It’s absolutely brilliant, but so simple that anybody with 1 potato, soil, water, and access to clover can do it.

Of course, any potato crop is self-perpetuating, but with this one, you don’t need fertilizer and you won’t have to dig in the garden.

Expect to yield about 10x (perhaps just a bit less) the weight of potatoes that you plant; that’s ten pounds for every pound, so you don’t have to do math.

  • First, choose your container. You can grow them in anything from a 5-gallon bucket up. Use a bucket or container that has never been used to store any type of chemical or poison. A great place to get food-grade buckets is local restaurants and bakeries. They usually buy in bulk, and items such as pickles, lard, sugar, flour, and frosting often come in 5-gallon buckets.
  • Fill your container with a mixture of potting soil and compost. I’ve even heard of people using sand and sawdust, but for this method, use the potting soil and compost.
  • Let your potato sit long enough to start growing eyes. That way you know that it will grow because some are treated with chemicals that keep them from sprouting in order to extend shelf life. While you’re waiting, prepare your bucket and get your clover growing.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of your bucket for drainage and make sure that you have a place to put the bucket so that it’s not in direct contact with something such as dirt that can clog the holes and prevent drainage.
  • Put a few inches of gravel (and sand if you’d like) in the bottom of the bucket and fill it with soil to within several inches of the top.
  • Sprinkle white clover seeds across the top of the soil and just run your hand over them to get a bit of soil over them.
  • Once your potato sprouts eyes and you know it’s good to grow, your clover should be starting to grow, too. Dig a hole 12 inches deep or so in the center of the bucket. Don’t worry if you have to dig through the clover – it will grow back.
  • Plant your potato at the bottom and cover back up with dirt.
  • You’ll see a plant within just a couple of weeks, then all you have to do is water it once or twice a week and let it grow. After 3 months or so, the plant will die back. When it does that, your potatoes are ready to harvest.

Video first seen on Hollis & Nancy’s Homestead

Making a Sweet Potato Pot

This has several steps and takes quite a bit of advance wait time, but your yield will be awesome. Plus, sweet potatoes are delicious and nutritious just as they are. Not to say that a good old regular potato isn’t delicious, too!

Because the yield is so high, you may want to use 20 gallon buckets for this. That’s what was used here – if you’re only using 5-gallon buckets, just put one slip per bucket. You’ll know what that means in a minute.

  • Start with a single sweet potato. Unless you want to be overrun with them, or intend to sell them or trade them, you don’t need more than a couple because one potato seriously can yield forty pounds or so.
  • Find cups, jars, or containers that are wide enough and deep enough to accommodate one half of the potato, lengthwise.
  • Stick 3 toothpicks into the potato at equal distances around the middle so that you can dangle one end of the potato (half of it or so) into the glass or jar and have one end sticking out. You want to have at least a half-inch or so all around the potato between it and the inside of the container.
  • Put the potato into the container so that it’s suspended by the toothpicks.
  • Now it’s time to wait for the slips to grow. Slips are basically shoots that grow into individual plants, and one potato can yield up to 50.
  • The slips will begin to grow off of the bottom and up around the potato and will be ready to separate after a couple of months.
  • Once they are, separate them out into different jars, and you can even cut and root new slips off the first ones as they grow. Once you have the slips that you want and they’re at least 12 inches tall, it’s time to plant them.
  • You’ll want a trellis behind them because sweet potatoes vine, and they root where they touch the ground, so if you’re using containers, you don’t want them vining all over your yard.
  • Fill the buckets with equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and compost to about 6 inches of the top.
  • Ramp the dirt so that one side of the container (the one furthest away from the trellis) is 8 inches or so more shallow than the side closest to the trellis and soak it with water.
  • Place 3-6 slips in each bucket so that the tops are facing the trellis and the roots are at the side of the bucket that’s furthest away from the trellis.
  • Add soil mixture to cover the roots and make the dirt level. It’s OK if you cover up some of the leaves and only just the tops are sticking out.
  • Water it again a bit and cover with straw or mulch to keep weeds from growing.

Video first seen on OFF GRID with DOUG and STACY

They love hot weather and take about three months to mature. They’ll get super bushy, so try to encourage any long vines to grow up the trellis. The plants will also grow really pretty flowers, which makes them great for ornamentals. Since the good stuff isn’t visible, if people don’t know what they are, they’ll just think they’re bushes – hiding your garden in plain sight.

The leaves will start to turn yellow. After that, leave them for another week or so and test a part of the bucket by digging down to see if they’re ready. Or, you can just dump a bucket and see how they are. Though remember – you only get one shot if you do it that way.

Now you know how make a potato pot.

Potatoes are the ultimate survival crop and they were included almost in every meal during the Great Depression.

Discover more about how our forefathers handled their survival food.

Click the banner below and uncover their secrets!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

14 Best Vegetables To Grow In A Bucket

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There’s nothing better for you than fresh, homegrown fruits, herbs, and vegetables, but not all of us have the luxury of being able to plant a traditional garden. But did you know that you can get great yields on many types of produce?

Today we’re going to take a look at the best vegetables to grow in buckets, so that no matter where you live, you can eat well.

Growing in buckets enables people with limited space to grow their own food. Even if you have the land, buckets still make growing easier if you have a hard time getting up and down to weed the garden, take care of the plants, and pick the veggies. Or, if you’re simply too busy to dedicate the time it takes to care for a traditional garden.

If you’re using buckets, don’t forget to poke a few drainage holes in the bottom. After you’ve poked the holes, use some natural filters so you won’t lose the dirt. Put a layer of rocks, then a layer of sand if you want, then your soil. Don’t use regular dirt because it will likely compact and impair growth. Instead, use an equal mix of ripe compost, potting soil, and peat moss.

Do a little research on what your plants need so that you know to make the soil more or less acidic.

If you live in a cold climate, it’s a good idea to plant seedlings for plants that require extra time. This includes just about every plant except for green onions, shallots, carrots, potatoes, and radishes, and plants that are grown from bulbs. Of course, you always have the option of moving the buckets inside if it gets too cold too early.

Finally, you may look at the yield you’re getting per bucket and think, “Wow. That doesn’t sound like much for the amount of space I’m using. There’s a lot of soil left underneath that plant that isn’t being used.” You’re absolutely right. If you want to maximize that space instead of wasting it, consider growing plants out the bottom, too. Many plants grow well upside down.

These lessons of yesterday will teach you the basic skills you need for survival cooking! 

Potatoes

Whether you like plain old spuds or prefer sweet potatoes or yams (yes, there is a huge nutritional difference), potatoes are a great bucket crop. Potatoes are hardy, grow in virtually any soil, and are grown underground, so they’re tolerant to weather changes. They’re also simple to prepare.

The key to getting a good potato yield is to grow them in a nitrogen-rich environment. Potatoes also self-perpetuate, so you’ll never run out.

Hint – grow clover on top of your potato bucket, or on the topsoil of any plant that needs lots of nitrogen, because clover pulls nitrogen out of the air and distributes it through its root system and down into the soil.

All you have to do to plant regular potatoes in a bucket is let the “eyes” or little roots grow from it, cut the potato into sections so that each section has an eye, and plant it. Plant the equivalent of one whole, large potato per 3-gallon of bucket, and 2 potatoes to a 5-gallon bucket.

You don’t even really HAVE to cut it into pieces. I just do because it’s how I was raised with a traditional garden. Old habits.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes grow fabulously in buckets; just remember that you’ll still have to stake them to something. This can be as easy as sticking a stake right in the bucket with it. No problem.

Cherry or bush tomatoes work the best and you shouldn’t plant more than one per bucket. You can pull tomatoes off in a 3-gallon bucket as long as you’ve got something besides just a stake in the bucket to stake them to, so that the weight will be supported.

Video first seen on ROCKNTV1

Cucumbers/Squash

Any type of cucumbers or squash grow well in buckets. As a matter of fact, I have a little better luck with the buckets because it’s easier for me to find the vegetable. Often when I planted them in a regular garden, I’d lose a few in the foliage.

Plant one plant per bucket.

Peppers

These are nice to grow right on the porch as ornamentals. For that matter, so are cucumbers and squash because of the nice flowers. If you’re growing colorful peppers such as banana peppers or chilies, they brighten up the porch, too.

Interesting pepper fact that many people don’t know:

The only difference between green, red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers is the time they spend on the vine. Green ones are picked first, then if they’re left alone, they turn yellow, orange, then red. Nutritional values vary widely among the colors, though.

Plant two peppers per 5-gallon bucket.

Video first seen on Gary Pilarchik

Beans

Bush beans grow best. Plant 1 bush per bucket.

Carrots/Radishes

Plant 10 per bucket. You can get away with using a smaller bucket or planter for these. Just make sure that the soil is at least a foot deep.

Onions/Garlic

Green onions, shallots, and any type of larger onion all grow wonderfully in buckets. For green onions and shallots, you can use a shallow bucket or window box as long as the soil is at least 6 inches deep. Just sprinkle a tablespoon or so of seeds evenly across the top of the bucket and cover with 1/4-1/2 inch of soil. For large onions and garlic, plant 4-5 per 5-gallon bucket.

Beets

Plant 4-5 per bucket.

Eggplant

Plant 2 plants per bucket because each plant requires 12-14 inches of growing space. You may be able to get away with 3. They’re good as ornamentals, too. Eggplants can be a bit finicky to grow because they require adequate water, good drainage, and pollination. Nothing is more frustrating than growing a plant then watching the flowers fall off without bearing fruit.

For your soil, use half sand and half soil/compost. Make sure they get at least two inches of water per week – more if you live in a hot climate. It’s a good idea to give them all of this water at once so that the water reaches the roots. Test your soil between waterings to make sure that it doesn’t dry out. You don’t want it too wet, but it should be moist.

Since they’re wind-pollinated, you may have a problem with adequate pollination. If you’re worried about this, it’s easy to pollinate them yourself. Just take a little paintbrush and run it around the inside of each flower.

They’ll also need a support system just like tomatoes do.

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage

These are great vegetables to plant in a bucket and you can grow 2-3 plants per bucket. Broccoli and red cabbage in particular are packed with nutrients.

Herbs

All herbs grow well in buckets, and you don’t need to use a full five-gallon bucket, either – they only need about 6 inches of soil to grow well. How many you can plant per container depends upon the herb, so pay attention to planting directions. You can even easily and successfully grow herbs inside.

Growing plants in buckets is a great method for several different reasons. From a prepper’s perspective, perhaps one of the biggest advantages is portability. If you have to bug out, you can take your food with you.

Since nearly all plants have seeds, you’re basically leaving with a food supply that will self-perpetuate, so it’s best to use heirloom seeds to ensure consistent growth and quality. I can’t overstate how important it is to choose the correct seeds for your needs.

Do you wonder what are the secrets that helped our grandparent survive during harsh times?

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Prep Blog Review: 100+ Gardening Secrets Revealed

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Gardening is a fun, healthy and rewarding activity, but in a survival situation, knowing how to grow your own food is a necessity. In a post-disaster world, having a resource of fresh food will make the difference between a healthy meal and starving.

For this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered four articles where you can find more than 100 gardening secrets you can start following right now whether you are an experienced gardener or you’ve just begun growing your food.

  1. 101 Gardening Secrets the Experts Never Tell You

“A well-tended 400 square foot garden will feed a family of four.

The trick is planning, planting, tending, and harvesting that garden right.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to maximize your garden’s production, everything the experts don’t tell you!

How to Grow from Seeds

I like to use natural topsoil to start my garden seedlings in. I usually don’t use potting soil because it generally does not produce the results I want.

I fill a large, deep baking pan with top soil and bake it for thirty minutes at 350 degrees.

This sanitizes the soil and ensures that no unwanted weeds or grass will come up in your soil. I usually start on this project in the winter and I fill up a couple of large plastic barrels with lids with the sanitized soil.”

Read more on Backdoor Prepper.

  1. Growing and Drying Your Own Herbs

“As a new gardener, I often found the task of growing prize winning tomatoes and succulent melons very daunting. Can I say succulent melons here? Get your head out of the gutter!

Gardening has never come naturally to me. But I learn and grow each and every year.

I finally began to master tomatoes by the third year of gardening. But I’ve still never mastered the green bean.

It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re gardening, but I’ve found one thing that I can never kill.

I suppose I could if I drenched it in chemicals, but ultimately, they’re very forgiving.

What is it, you ask? Why, herbs, of course!”

Read more on The Fewell Homestead.

  1. How to Make Compost with Worms

“Vermicomposting (aka worm composting) is a great way to rapidly compost your food waste.

They are hugely efficient at breaking this waste down into high quality compost.

A worm composting system is easy to build from scratch or you can choose an excellent commercial vermicomposting system.

The heart of the system is the worm bin.

This is basically the home for the worms.

It is also where they will work their magic – turning your waste into great worm castings.

A good vermiculture bin has several important components.”

Read more on The Weekend Prepper.

  1. Unbelievable Hydrogen Peroxide Uses in Garden You Should Know

“Is it possible? Are there Hydrogen Peroxide Uses in the garden?

Well, yes, it can be useful! Read on to find out how.

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom than Water (H2O), this extra oxygen atom breaks down and the molecule of water releases from this separately.

It is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful.

The Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, as a disinfectant etc. but it can also be used in horticulture.

In simple words, Hydrogen Peroxide acts as an oxygen supplement for plants (beneficial if used in low strength).

It works by releasing oxygen and it also aerates the soil.”

Read more on Balcony Garden Web.

 

This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia. 

Prep Blog Review: The Good & The Bad Food In Your Pantry

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You probably already have a well-stocked pantry for survival, but have you checked the foods lately? While some foods from are a bless and you can use them for several purposes in a survival situation (e.g. honey), there are other foods that you are stockpiling without knowing how dangerous they are.

Since there are good foods and bad foods in your pantry, for this week’s prep blog review I’ve gathered four articles on this topic to help you check your stockpile and make sure the food you choose for a survival situation is healthy, nutritious and won’t put your life in danger.

  1. 23 Survival Uses for Honey that You Didn’t Know About

“Whether you enjoy the sticky amber manna that is honey or not, there are a ton of potential uses for it in survival situations, or simply to maintain your everyday health. It has been a popular remedy for centuries, and with good reason.

Types of Honey:

While you may be thinking solely of the little grocery store bears, there are literally thousands of different types of honey. We’ll go over some of the varieties noted for their health benefits.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

  1. How to Avoid This Dangerous Preservative Found In Dried Fruit

“If you opened up a pantry belonging to any prepper, you’d most likely find a veritable cornucopia of dried foods within.

It’s pretty much a staple for preppers. Unfortunately, dried foods of all kinds often come packaged with preservatives that aren’t so healthy.

It can be a real challenge to find long-lasting foods that you would want to eat during an emergency, that aren’t also filled with toxic preservatives.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

  1. What Refrigerated Foods are Safe to Consume after a Power Outage

“Time is not your friend when the power goes out and your refrigerator stops cooling. Typically, if the door is not opened food should stay within a safe temperature for four hours.

What is a safe temperature for fresh meats, and other perishables?

Forty degrees Fahrenheit or below, if raw ground beef, for example, is stored for longer than two hours above 40° F it must be discarded, it is simply not safe to eat because of the growth of possibly harmful bacteria.”

Read more on Preparing For SHTF.

  1. Wise Food Storage for Long-Term Survival

“I’m certainly no stranger to dehydrated and freeze dried field rations. As a United States Marine, I lived on Meals Ready To Eat (MRE) for weeks at a time. So I understand the need for wise food storage.

The value of these MRE meals were that they provided a heavy dose of calories with very little, if any, preparation time required.

When time allotted, we would use heat tabs to warm up our meals in order to make them more comforting.

But regardless of how much tabasco sauce, salt, or pepper that we added to these MRE’s, the outcome was usually the same…the taste was horrible and our digestive system paid one hell of a price!”

Read more on Survival Life.

 

This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia. 

How To Choose A Good Pressure Cooker

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Ahh  … the much revered and often feared pressure cooker.

Your mom makes delicious pot roasts in them, and you can cook food in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook it on the stove or in the oven. The problem is that you’ve heard horror stories about pressure cookers that blow up and spew hot food and liquid all over the place.

That’s a reasonable fear. I cook with a pressure cooker at least once every couple of weeks, but I have had an explosive incident when I was young and learning to use it. It was a completely user error.

I was using an old pressure cooker with the top jiggler and I didn’t put it on correctly, nor did I properly seal the lid. The jiggler blew clear through the dry wall in my ceiling, and my roast beef blew all over my kitchen.

They say there’s no better teacher than experience. Fortunately for me, I had my mother to tell me what I did wrong, after she made sure I was OK, then laughed for ten minutes when she saw my kitchen.

Don’t let this story scare you. It’s a rare thing, and if you’re buying a modern pressure cooker, much of the mysticism and dangerous flying objects have been removed so that anybody can use one without needing to patch their ceiling.

For that matter, if you’re buying an old one, you’re gonna be just fine after you read this article.

Can I Can Foods in a Regular Pressure Cooker?

The short answer? No. don’t do it. And this is coming from somebody who laughs in the face of most government-issued warnings.

And here’s why you shouldn’t use a pressure cooker to pressure can foods. Pressure cookers don’t maintain a steady heat and pressure. Both rise and fall, and you don’t have control of heat other than high, medium, or low.

It’s imperative that your pressure-canned food maintain a minimum temperature for a set amount of time in order to kill pathogens that won’t kill you in 2 months or 2 years when you get around to opening that jar. Buy pressure canners specifically meant for canning. You can find these at thrift stores and yard sales, too.

Discover the ingenious recipes that helped our ancestors stay alive!

Types of Pressure Cookers

There are two types of pressure cookers: rangetop and electric. Electric pressure cookers may be better for you if you’re especially timid because they work very much like a crock pot does; well, at least they’re more goof-proof. On the other hand, they are useless during blackout unless you have a good and steady energy source.

A stovetop pressure cooker can be a bit trickier, especially if you’re using an older one. One is no better or worse than the other and the end result is the same as long as you use them properly. Rangetops do typically cook faster, though.

Video first seen on thenewsurvivalist.

Tips to Buying a Good Used Pressure Cooker

Like most of my good kitchenware, I inherited one of my pressure cookers and picked the other two (yes, two) up at yard sales. There are five traits to consider when you’re buying a used pressure cooker.

  • First, make sure that the seal is in good condition. You’ll find this in place in a ring around the inside of the lid. Pull it out and inspect it. If it crumbles in your hand or shows signs of dry rot, skip it.
  • Next, make sure that the pot and the lid are in excellent condition. This isn’t one of those products where you can overlook a few dings. You want to make sure that the sides all feel even and that the lid seals tightly onto the pot. Most have a locking mechanism that falls into place when the lid is properly locked, so check that if there is one. Lock it down to make sure that it works. The handles should line up and stop. If they just slide right past each other, skip it.
  • Don’t forget to look at the jiggler. It’s technically called a regulator and most that you find will have at least five- and ten-pound capabilities. Make sure it’s there because the pressure cooker won’t do you a lick of good without the regulator.
  • Make sure that the rack is in it. Pressure cookers have a rack that sets in the bottom of the pot. This keeps the food suspended above the bottom so that pressure can circulate all around it, and it keeps the food from burning to the bottom of the pan.
  • Finally, look for a good brand name. Even if you buy an older one, if it’s by a well-known brand name, chances are good that you’re going to get a good product and will likely be able to buy a replacement seal if yours goes bad.

After all, a pressure cooker is something that you’ll be able to pass to your kids. One of mine is over 50 years old and is still as reliable as an April shower. Or snowstorm, depending on where you live.

Two excellent older brands that are still producing pressure cookers today are Presto and WearEver. Newer brands include Imusa, Fissler, WMF, Tramontina, and Fagor. Two of mine are Presto and the other is WearEver. I don’t have any experience with new ones.

Tips for Buying a New Pressure Cooker

First of all, you’re going to have to decide whether you want to buy an electric pressure cooker or a rangetop pressure cooker. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Rangetops typically cook faster and the pot can be used by itself as a stockpot. You’ll have to regulate the pressure via the regulator and the heat settings on your stove.

Electric models automatically pressurize and depressurize according to how you set it and most of them can be used as slow cookers and steamers. They take longer to cook, though.

Which type of pressure cooker you need is up to you. They come in different sizes and some offer only a couple of pressure settings while others offer 3 of 4. The electric ones can get pretty fancy and have many settings. It’s all a matter of what you want and need. Good Housekeeping did a review on top pressure cookers that may help.

In general, you’re going to need to pick a size based upon what you plan to cook in it, and you’ll have to decide between electric and rangetop. Look for a pressure cooker that has a good seal, and I recommend one with a locking mechanism for somebody just learning to use one. That takes away the chance of not aligning the lid and pot properly.

What’s up with the Different Pounds on the Regulator?

The pressure regulator is what determines the pressure inside of the pressure cooker. Typical pressure settings are 5, 10, and 15 though many of the electric models have ranges from just a couple of pounds up to 15 pounds. That number is how many pounds of pressure build up inside the cooker.

Different foods require different pounds of pressure. For instance, delicate vegetables like spinach may only need 5 pounds, while roasts require 10 or 15. In many new cookers, this will likely be expressed as low, medium, and high.

Now that you know how to choose your pressure cooker, you can easily go ahead with the best recipes for your family.

Find how our forefathers handled their survival food, and steal their secrets for your own survival!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

How To Feed Your Family Without Any Soil Or Space

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Growing hydroponically sounds complicated and expensive, but it’s actually neither. All that it means is that you’re growing your plants without soil. I’ve seen examples of hydroponic systems made out of our favorite tool ever – a 5-gallon bucket.

I’ve also seen systems that are exactly what you imagine – tables and tables full of fancy equipment and mysterious-looking tools and chemicals.

Just like anything else, it’s just a matter of how complicated you really want to get.

Let me give you a quick rundown of what it’s all about though, and why you should consider it, then we’ll talk about why it’s a great partner for vertical gardening.

As we already determined, you don’t use soil. The entire system is based on the concept that the roots are freely flowing in the water. They’re not packed tightly in soil. Hydroponic plants grow 30-50 percent faster than their soil-grown sisters, are generally healthier, and produce more fruit.

This is likely because the extra oxygen in the water helps the plant absorb nutrients better, and the nutrients are readily available in the water/solution and the plant doesn’t have to work to extract it from soil. It uses the extra energy to grow and produce.

Use it Inside

Hydroponic growing is also good to use inside because you don’t have the dirt mess and the plants don’t have to struggle so much to get the nutrients that they need, so it’s easier for them to grow in a semi-challenging environment. It’s a great way to grow food in small spaces.

Save Water

Vertical gardening and hydroponics also pair well because the drip-down system is an effective method of watering, and if you’re using a hydroponics system to catch the runoff, you’re saving a ton of water.

In a situation where fresh water is limited, that’s a huge benefit. As a matter of fact, in a world where soil is becoming depleted and water isn’t as plentiful as it used to be, vertical hydroponic gardening is seen by many as the method of future mass food production. Of course, their plans for world garden domination is a bit more complex, but it’s based on this theory.

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Stack it Up – The Foundation of Both Ideas

Also, and this takes us to our next point, hydroponics systems are commonly used in a stacked fashion so that the water is drawn up from  catch basin at the bottom and is released via drips onto the plants below. Then it drips from the top layer to the layer beneath, and so on until the water is back in the catch basin.

This makes hydroponics a great partner for vertical gardening.

Lighter and Portable

One problem that you often face with regular, dirt vertical gardening is that the wall is heavy and bulky, in large part because of the weight of the wet dirt.

With hydroponic vertical towers, you get rid of that.

There’s still some water weight, but unless you’re using gravel or sand to secure the roots, the weight is less.

This makes it more portable, too, especially if you use a well-contained system like Plug and Farm Towers. Portability is good for a couple of reasons.

If you need to move your vertical gardening wall or tower so that the plants are getting more or less light, or so that looters won’t know that you have food, then you want to be able to quickly and easily move the wall.

Know What You’re Eating

Another huge benefit is that you know exactly what’s going into your plant. Though you can buy bags of soil to grow your plants in, there’s no way for you to know what’s in that dirt. The same goes for using plain old yard soil. There could be residual fertilizers, pesticides, or acid rain in it and you’ll never know.

When you use hydroponics, you know exactly what your plants are coming into contact with. Enough said about that.

Best of Both Worlds

Finally, the “piece de resistance”, so to speak, about combining vertical gardening with hydroponics is that you get the benefits of the expanded growing space that comes with vertical gardening with the faster growth and higher yield of hydroponics. Bam! That’s what does it for me.

Vertical gardening and hydroponics are like peas and carrots – different, but when you bring them together, they’re a delicious combination that just works!

Start growing your own survival food without soil or space! You only need 10 minutes per day to take care of your fresh food.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Why Vertical Gardening Works for Preppers

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As preppers, we all share the common goal of being able to take care of ourselves and our families in worst-case scenarios.

Having a ready supply of nutritious food is most certainly at the top of that list. And since we don’t all have the acreage (or even the yard) to grow a huge, traditional garden, enter vertical gardening!

Vertical gardening is exactly what the name implies – you’re growing your plants vertically instead of on a flat surface (the ground). This is great because it allows for growing fresh produce even if you don’t have any space other than a wall or a porch. You can even grow a vertical garden inside!

Grows Anywhere

Whether you have a fence around your yard or you only have a space on the porch or even a wall inside your house, you can grow a vertical garden. Living in urban areas doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own food – it just means that you have to get creative about it.

If you have even a little bit of a yard, you’ll be surprised how much you can grow using the vertical gardening method – the options are practically limitless. You can even grow plants out the top AND bottom of the planters!

If you only have a single closet or small wall in your apartment, you’re still in luck, though you’ll have to make sure that you have plenty of light either in the form of sunlight or grow lights. Herbs are great to grow vertically, as are tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, onions, and green leafy vegetables.

Can be Used for Privacy

If you have a porch or yard, build your vertical garden in such a way that you block vision of your house. If you use a solid back that faces out from your house, people won’t even know what you’re doing!

Of course, you may not want to advertise what you’re doing, so grow it somewhere that people can’t look over your fence.

Works Well with Hydroponics

Growing plants hydroponically is a great way to increase your produce yield while decreasing your water consumption. It also takes the guesswork out of what you’re exposing your plants to, and how many nutrients the plant is getting, because you control both of those conditions.

Plants grown hydroponically, such as in the Plug and Farm Towers we tested, and have been shown to be healthier, grow faster, and produce a bigger yield. This is likely because water is oxygen rich, which helps the plants absorb nutrients, and they don’t have to harvest the nutrients out of the soil, so they can use that energy to grow instead.

You can Grow without Sharing What You’re Doing

Because you don’t need to lay everything out in the yard, you can grow in places that your neighbors won’t know about. You can grow a ton of vegetables on vertical growing racks inside your house. If you decide to go with a hydroponics system, you won’t have a dirt mess, but you can grow them in soil just as well.

Other places that make good hiding places include old sheds or barns that back up to a place in your yard that’s out of site. Just remember that you need plenty of light no matter where you plant them.

Grow Year Round

If you decide to grow a vertical garden inside, you can have year-round fresh herbs, veggies, and fruits. They do well in greenhouses, too. This is yet another advantage you’ll have over your neighbors if stuff goes south in the winter.

You’ll have access to fresh produce right there in your guest bedroom. Don’t be shy about putting a vertical garden in your living room, either. They look beautiful and make the house smell good, especially if you’re growing herbs.

You can Grow a Variety of Produce

The good thing about growing up instead of out is that you can have 7 or 8 different types of plants in an area that’s only 8 feet long and a foot or so wide. Nearly everybody has that much space!

An advantage to this is that if you don’t have access to a good food supply, having several different types of plants growing in what space you have will allow for you to have a variety of nutrients. Go for different colors because each color has different nutrients – red, yellow, orange, green – they all provide different nutrients that will help keep you and yours well-nourished.

Easy to Care for by Anybody

It’s hard to get down on your hands and knees to root around in a garden, pulling weeds in the sun and making sure the soil stays loose. With vertical gardening, it’s all right there in front of you. You can sit on a chair to take care of your plants if you need to. And harvesting is easy, too. For that matter, if you plan it right, you can make your vertical garden portable.

Another way that vertical gardening is easier is that, especially if you’re growing hydroponically, there are minimal weeds and you don’t have to worry about squatting over to take care of your vining plants.

Less Waste

This is one of my favorite reasons to grow vertically – the plants aren’t dragging on the ground and the fruits aren’t sitting in dirt, so they aren’t as prone to disease and rot.

There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than working hard to nurture plants all the way from seed to harvest just to lose part of it because it was tucked under leaves where we couldn’t see it, and rotted. That’s not a problem with vertical gardening.

I’m obviously a fan of vertical gardening because of where I currently live and have benefited from it myself.

Remember that every survival plan should have food at its core. With only 10 minutes per day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start growing your own survival food!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

What You Need To Know For Hunting During Winter

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Winters can be harsh and if hunting is a hobby you enjoy, it is important to be aware of the equipment requirements, hunting laws, gun certifications and proper apparel necessary to have a successful hunting trip in the winter.

Hunters aren’t required to have a degree, ACLS certification or CPR training, but they should be familiar with the basic demands of hunting.

This sport in the winter can be enjoyable, if hunters prepare by studying the different types of animals and birds, know the right clothing and equipment they should use, and understand other important techniques of hunting.

Any activity is dangerous if the participants are not aware of or do not understand rules and regulations surrounding that activity. Hunting, specifically, can be a very dangerous game if you aren’t aware of its basic guidelines and procedures.

Here are our top tips for understanding the do’s and don’ts of hunting when it comes to the winter hunting season.

Licensing and Certifications

We know it’s basic, but let’s state it again. All states require a hunting license or a tag that allows people to hunt. Whether they are using a gun or traps, all hunters need licenses in order to go out and hunt. Certain states also require licenses to set out traps for different animals.

Before leaving for a weekend trip, hunters must gain a license or certification showing they are able to own a gun and/or set a trap. Getting the correct paperwork can prevent hunters from paying hundreds of dollars in fines.

Animal and Bird Seasons

As winter continues, it’s important that hunters know the rules and regulations regarding animals and their hunting seasons. Depending on the state, specific animals and birds aren’t allowed to be hunted during certain months of the year.

Each state has different regulations when it comes to the hunting of animals, so it’s important that hunters are familiar with state regulations wherever they are.

Never leave for a hunting trip without having a hunting license and knowing which animals are in season. Before starting a weekend of living in tents and hunting food, hunters should do their homework and find out what animals and birds they are allowed to hunt to avoid paying a few hundred dollars in fines.

Fighting the Weather

Keeping warm is essential in the winter, especially for those who spend hours tracking and hunting animals. The cold can make it harder to concentrate. When it is bitterly frigid outside, the weather is often all people can think about.

Focusing on the weather instead of the gun in your hand can be dangerous to yourself and those around you. When planning hunting trips, look at the weather forecast. It is best to be flexible and adjust your plans when there are clear signs of a storm.

Think about the Donner Party and how that brutal snow storm found our forefathers trapped in the mountains. They learned the survival lesson the harsh way, but you can prepare now and don’t repeat their mistakes.

Discover the secrets that helped our forefathers survive in the wild! 

If you do need to hunt during a storm, there are three time periods that are safe for hunters: before the storm, mid-storm, and post-storm.

Hunting ahead or behind the storm will allow hunters to know if they need to stop or if it is safe to keep going. Mid-storm can be a more dangerous time to hunt in, but if you watch the storm you can track where it is going or when it starts to lighten up.

A mistake many hunters make on their winter hunting trip is thinking they need several layers. The more layers a hunter wears, the more they will perspire and the harder it will become for the hunter to move about quietly and efficiently. Adding layers will keep you warm, but the layers can often add unwanted bulk.

Mobility while operating any type of weapon is essential. If you cannot move efficiently, the risk of someone getting hurt increases. As important as dressing warm is, it is good to keep in mind the question whether you can move efficiently or not.

There are several options of clothing that keep you warm without adding bulk. Below are listed six useful pieces of clothing that provide warmth and protection while still giving hunters the mobility that they need.

Parkas

Purchasing a parka that is designed to keep in the warmth, but also cut down the bulk, will help the hunter stay warm without having to worry about cutting out mobility. Proper insulation doesn’t have to mean a bulky jacket. A simple layer of fur on the inside of the jacket can keep a hunter just as warm as if they were wearing several layers.

A parka will help keep out the cold without adding resistance to the hunter’s movements.

Elevation jacket

At any elevation, weather can change and fluctuate drastically. In addition to keeping warm, hunters often need to find ways to keep dry. An elevation jacket is a lightweight jacket that can stay that way even in the pouring rain. With water-repellent fabric, it is able to keep heat in while keeping water out.

An elevation jacket will allow the hunter to stay warm, dry and able to still move without limiting mobility.

Coldfront Bib Pants

Legs need just as much coverage as the upper body. Hunters need pants that use the same technology and fabrics as their jackets to keep them warm and dry without preventing mobility. Coldfront Bib pants are meant to do just that. With micro-grid fleece lining, these pants administer an extra layer of insulation to keep a hunter’s legs warm. This material also helps keep legs dry in snow or rain.

Not only do coldfront bib pants keep legs warm and dry, they also have the ability to shield against harsh winds.

Hunter Extreme Overalls

Hunters looking for clothing that covers their whole body and helps keep them warm should look to the 70’s trend of overalls. Hunter Extreme Overalls are built to trap body heat, keeping the hunter warm even in extreme weather conditions. They give the warmth needed and also the room needed for hunters to move properly.

Some overall designs contain removable hoods, removable hand muffs, and hand warming pockets designed to withstand rain, snow, and wind.

Wooltimate Ninja Hood

Covering the mouth and nose is important for keeping a person warm and preventing frostbite. A Wooltimate Ninja Hood covers the head, mouth, and nose. With a blend of wool and fleece, a ninja hood has the abilities to block out rain, snow, wind, or any other extreme weather condition. The hood also covers the neck so a hunter is truly covered top to bottom. Due to the eyes being left uncovered, pairing a Wooltimate Ninja Hood with goggles or glasses can provide the best results.

Infrared Scent Control Gloves

With jackets sporting extra layers, pants to keep out the wind, and a hood to cover the face, all that is left for a hunter to keep warm as they hunt is protection for their hands. Hunters need gloves that keep their hands warm without taking away mobility.

Infrared scent control gloves take it one step further. Animals can detect a human from several miles away based on their distinct human scent. Scent control gloves eliminates natural body odor which can allow hunters to sneak up on their target. These gloves also absorb body heat and radiates it back into the gloves to keep hands warm.

Tracking Tips

When tracking animals, hunters can find them by their footprints, broken twigs and places where they have slept. Another way hunters can find a group of animals is by looking for water. Wherever there is water, animals are not far from the source.

An animal’s main goal in the winter is to stay warm. This means wherever the sun is shining is where animals tend to be. They can often be found on hills or ridges facing the sun to keep warm. Hunters should try to hunt in sunny areas and avoid shady spots.

Snapping twigs in the woods is unavoidable. When it happens, hunters should wait a full minute before continuing their hunt. By waiting a full minute, it will give the animal time to forget about the noise and go back to what they were doing.

When deciding on a location, keep in mind that putting yourself in a single location and expecting animals to come to you is unrealistic. Moving about will increase your possibility of coming across an animal to hunt, especially in cold weather.

Animals don’t stay in one place and neither should you. Animals also tend to shift to different resting places every day. When deciding where to hunt or when, hunter’s should study the animals they’re tracking and take notice to how they react to the cold.

Winter causes many animals to switch into survival mode where they begin to find food more carefully. If hunters study different animals and how they behave in the winter, they can find ways to catch the animal without scaring it off.

Whether you’re hunting ground consists of green trees or snowy mountains, learning game-scouting techniques will help the hunter find animals in any type of environment.

Click the banner below and discover how to prepare traps and hunt wild animals, the old way!

This article has been written by Ryan Thompson for Survivopedia. Follow Ryan on Twitter – @ryan_thompson03

References

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http://www.fieldandstream.com/node/1006033160#page-2

Start Growing Your Own Food Using Hydroponics

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Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil, is gaining momentum throughout the gardening community for many different reasons.

The water requirements are stupendously less than growing in soil, you don’t have to worry about what chemicals have leached into your soil, and you can grow healthier plants that yield more fruit in less space, both indoors and out.

Though many people are vaguely interested in the concept, most people write it off as being too technical, difficult, or expensive. The truth is that none of those terms apply, or at least they don’t have to.

You can start a hydroponic garden for very little money and it takes practically no effort to maintain it, at least in comparison to a soil garden.

Start Your Seeds

Regardless of whether you are planning to grow your plants in soil or in a hydroponic system, starting them from seeds is basically the same process. You need to choose a medium to start the seeds. You can use just about anything that you want – rockwool, grow cubes, or even plain dirt. The important thing is that you get your seeds to grow to seedlings.

There are also mediums that support starting your plants right in the system from seeds. In that case, don’t worry about the seedlings! The only problem that I’ve heard about from folks that do this is the same one that I’ve experienced when starting my garden using only seeds – they’re not all going to sprout, so you may have dense areas and sparse areas.

Regardless of whether you’re putting seeds or seedlings in your system, it’s a good idea to start your own seedlings.

Seeds are cheap, you can choose what you want to grow instead of depending on what plants the store has available, and your system won’t be contaminated with chemicals, pests, or diseases that may accompany commercial plants.

Choose a System

You also need to choose a system. For your first time, it’s probably a good idea to start small so that you can make your mistakes and learn the ropes on a small, manageable scale. There are several different types of systems, but the one that we’ve found to be most efficient on a small scale is a drip system.

Drip systems use a submersible pump placed in a basin on the bottom that pulls the water up to an irrigation tube above the plants. The water drips down into the pan(s) and trickles back down into the catch basin and is then recirculated. It’s efficient and simple to use.

NOTE: Very few commercial hydroponics systems (or DIY ones for that matter) operate without electricity. In the case of an EMP or a complete grid failure, your system will require manual watering, so choose carefully if those situations are a concern for you. You’ll want to choose a system such as a vertical gardening tower that makes it easy to water without an operational pump.

We tested the Plug & Farm Tower system that’s great for both beginners and experienced growers and works well indoors or out, though it does require electricity. There are many different options out there, or you can build your own.

What Can You Grow Hydroponically

Well, just about anything, in theory. After all, you’re providing everything any living plant needs to thrive – water, nutrients, light.

However, there are some plants that are more challenging than others. For instance, root vegetables are a challenge and require a system that’s deep enough to grow them. You may want to get a bit of experience before you jump off that particular log.

Vining plants and light-weight fruits grow well hydroponically, too, and did well in the tower we tested. You can even start fruit trees, then plant them into soil when they’re big enough.

Now, for the system that we tested, vining plants, herbs and green leafy vegetables worked, but not root vegetables.

Transplanting Seedlings

If you’re starting your seeds outside of your system and transplanting it as a seedling, it’s a simple process. Germinate your seeds. You can do this by placing them in a grow cube or in a paper towel or baggy.

If you use the grow cube, just keep it damp with water or your hydroponic solution until your seedling pops through – anywhere from two to four weeks.

If you’re germinating the seeds before putting them in a growing medium, put them in a damp paper towel on a plate and keep the towel damp. Your seed will germinate in just a few days.

Now that you have your seedlings, you’re ready to transplant them to your system so that they can grow into delicious plants.

This process is going to be determined by the system that you’re using but will consist of placing the seedling so the roots are in the water/solution and the plant top is not.

A Note about Growing Mediums

You can use many different mediums in your hydroponics setup including gravel, sand, coconut shells (they don’t break down easily) or just about anything else that is food-safe and won’t decompose.

If you choose to use gravel, be sure to choose stones that won’t leech minerals into the water, because then you’re affecting the nutrients available to your plants.

The entire purpose of the medium is to support the roots in a way that water can flow freely around them, so don’t use mediums such as mulch that are going to break down to, well, soil.

Growing Your Plants

Now, your plants are in your hydroponics system, so what next?

Make sure that they stay hydrated and are getting the nutrients that they need! They should be watered thoroughly several times daily to prevent the roots from drying out, and the automatic drip system is great for this.

Once your plants begin to grow in earnest, you’ll need to provide support for vining plants. Trellises are great for this.

Keep your plants from dragging the ground in order to avoid rot and exposure to disease. Prune them properly and watch them grow!

Click the banner below to grab this offer and start your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Prep Blog Review: Food Lessons For Survival

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It’s survival food time again! From how to grow your own vegetables, to how to stockpile correctly, this topic never gets old, and it’s one of my favorites, too.

Starting with a few food lessons from the Great Depressions, and continuing with some emergency food preparedness basic, for this week’s prep blog review I’ve gathered five useful articles on this topic.

  1. 10 Food Lessons From the Great Depression

“A time wracked with suicide and fear the great depression was a holly terror on the nation.

Many people exclaim that the crash of 2008 cost them everything. The truth is that the “everything” of 2008 was very different than the everything of 1930. Mothers left alone by their husbands to feed children while living in doorways. Losing children to disease or hunger and not having a dime to help them, nor a way to procure one.

All that terror aside the emulsification of cultures and despair in America during the depression created everlasting practices in the management and creation of food. The type of meals that remind you of your grandmother and her dinner table. Many of these meals are still popular today. Many of the methods are used widely as well.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

  1. Emergency Food Preparedness Basics Every Prepper Should Know

“Emergency Food Preparedness is essential for every prepper to have. In this video we will be talking about the 3 different types of emergency food preps that essential for survival.”

Video first seen on Smart Prepper Gear.

  1. 13 Direct Vegetables to Direct Sow

“To direct sow your seeds just means to plant your seed outdoors in the garden where it will grow instead of starting the seeds indoors in containers under lights.

If you live in a warm climate, you can direct sow almost any crop. Those of you who garden in colder areas either begin sowing seeds indoors under lights or purchase seedlings form a green house that can be transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost is past. If we don’t start some crops ahead og time, there isn’t enough time to produce a harvest before our first fall frost.”

Read more on Grow A Good Life.

  1. How to get Your Chicken to Lay More Eggs

“Does it seem that your egg collection is decreased or that your hens aren’t laying as they once did? Or the yolks are pale and lackluster, lacking the nutrients they should provide? When the chickens are part of a plan for independent living or as a structured food supply, this can put a damper on things and thwart being able to rely on them as a nutritional resource.

It can be a catastrophic event in a survival situation to have your chickens stop producing a crucial food source.”

Read more on Survival Sullivan.

  1. Perennial Plants that Produce Food Year After Year

“A perennial plant or simply perennial is a plant that lives for more than two years. Perennials, especially small flowering plants, grow and bloom over the spring and summer, then die back every autumn and winter, and then return in the spring from their rootstock, are known as herbaceous perennials”.

Below are a few of the more common food plants that are known to live and produce for over two years, and some like asparagus, for example, can produce for literally decades if the asparagus bed is well taken care of.”

Read more on Prep for SHTF.

 

This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.

Take The Advantage Of Growing Hydroponic Plants!

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Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of hydroponic planting. Even if you did live in a cave, you probably saw an example of it when you saw that little plant growing in a puddle of water in the rock. That’s what hydroponic growing is – it’s simply growing plants without soil.

But why should you try it? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

When you think about hydroponically growing plants, you probably get this vision of complicated systems and expensive grow lights, but that’s not the case. Growing plants using a hydroponic system is actually easier that using a soil-based system, as you’ll see in a bit.

You can use water alone, gravel, sand, coconut husks, or even artificial materials to secure the roots of your plants, but the idea is to choose a medium that allows the water to flow freely around the roots of the plant.

Here are just a few advantages of growing hydroponic plants.

Plants Grow Faster and Yield More Fruit

Studies show that plants grown hydroponically grow 30-50 percent faster than soil-grown plants and also yield more fruit. This is probably because there is a constant supply of water and the nutrients are delivered straight to the roots throughout the day.

Since the plant doesn’t have to search through the soil and break the nutrients down in order to absorb them, it’s free to use that extra energy to grow and produce.

Also, there is generally more oxygen in water than there is in soil. This helps the plant absorb nutrients faster and it also promotes root growth.

No Weeding

Since you’re controlling the medium and you only plant what you want in it, you’re not going to be dealing with weeds, and if you do manage to get a couple weed seeds blown or carried in, they’re easy to pluck out, roots and all.

This saves you time, and prevents the plant from fighting with weeds for nutrients and water.

You Control the Nutrients and pH

One of the biggest problems that we face when we grow plants in dirt is that we’re often at the mercy of the quality of the soil. Without sending it off to be tested, it’s tough to tell what nutrients are in your soil and how acidic it is.

Since some plants prefer a more acidic soil and others prefer neutral or base soil, you’ll find that some plants grow better in your soil than others.

With a hydroponics system, you take all of the guesswork out of the growing process because you control the amount and type of nutrients as well as the pH. This is another reason that plants are healthier and more productive.

You Know What you’re Eating

You really don’t know what’s in your soil even if you’ve lived there for 20 years because pesticides, chemicals, and even acid rain can contaminate it with all sorts of harmful materials. When you grow your plants using the hydroponics method, you know exactly what’s in the food that you eat.

Year-Round Fruit

Because there’s no dirt to mess with, hydroponic systems are exceptionally easy to manage indoors or in a greenhouse, which means that you can have fresh produce year-round.

If you get sick of growing tomatoes, just switch them out and grow some basil to go with them. Since your plants will also yield more fruit, you’ll really ramp up your production.

Indoor/Outdoor Options

We just mentioned that hydroponic systems are easily adapted to indoor growth, and there is more than one reason why that’s a good thing. First, you don’t have to go out in the rain or heat to tend your plants, or look at a snow-covered, barren garden in the winter.

That’s great, but what about security? If you’re growing plants inside, nobody will know what you’re doing. In hard times, when you’re trying to survive, this can be a deal-changer. And you don’t necessarily need much room for an indoor hydroponics system, either.

As a matter of fact, we’ve tried on, the Plug & Farm Towers can be mounted against a wall and only extends about 6 inches from the wall. It’s only a few feet wide and tall, but is designed so that you maximize your growing space. You can use it in an apartment or even a slightly large closet as long as you have the necessary lighting.

Less Space

Unlike traditional soil growing techniques, hydroponic systems lend themselves nicely to growing in stacked trays. I’ve seen many setups that range in size from the Plug & Farm Towers to ones that consist of 5 or 6 layers of trays that are several feet wide with a couple of feet between each layer.

If you use a gravity system, you can get quite clever with your angles so that each layer trickles down to the next, then is fed back up to the top again. Even using a hydroponics system that large, you’ll still be using very little water in the scheme of things.

Vertical crops

Soil Quality Doesn’t Matter

This one sort of goes without saying since you’re not using soil. To drive home the point, though, I live in Florida and the soil is extremely sandy, with just a bit of loam on the top. Tomatoes grow OK here in that, but they’re merely compared to ones that I grew in the rich soil of West Virginia.

However, if I use a hydroponics system, I don’t have to worry about soil quality. If you pair this with an indoor growing system, you can grow pretty much anything.

Lower Water Requirements

Any plant needs water because that’s how it absorbs nutrients.

Now, of course we can’t give an exact number here because the US has such a wide variety of soils and rainfall amounts, but in soil that’s not too wet or too dry, and grown in conditions that aren’t miserably hot with low humidity, it will take about 20 gallons of water per week to water a 32 square foot garden. That’s a garden that’s roughly 5 feet x 6 feet.

Now, if you have to water an area that large using a hydroponics system, you’re going to use as little as 1/4 of that. Maybe less if you’re filtering and oxygenating the water, because it’s a re-usable source.

In other words, with a soil garden, you’re going to be using 80 gallons per week, but in a hydroponics garden, you’re going to be using that initial watering (5 – 7 gallons) over and over again.

When you’re in a survival situation, that’s a huge difference in the amount of something that you need to live! In essence, that saves you an extra 15 gallons just in the first week, and, even assuming you lose a couple of gallons to evaporation weekly, you’ve still saved at least 40 gallons. That’s enough water for almost two people over a month!

Diseases and Pests are Easier to Get Rid Of

The way that many diseases and pests attack your plants to begin with is via soil. So, since you’re eliminating soil, you’re also eliminating much of the risk of your plants becoming infected. And one of the main reasons that pests and diseases are so hard to get rid of if you DO get them in soil-grown plants is because they hide in the soil and keep reinfecting your plants.

With a hydroponics system, there is no dirt to hold the pest or disease, so they’re easier to get rid of if you are unfortunate enough to contract them in the first place.

Greater Variety

Since you’re no longer dependent on soil quality or large land areas, and you can easily use a hydroponics system to grow year-round in a greenhouse or indoors, you can grow basically whatever you want.

You can also experience three or even four growth cycles (depending on what you’re growing), so even if you have a smaller growing area, you can grow one plant this cycle, and another plant the next cycle.

Physically Easier to Grow and Harvest

You can grow your plants at whatever height is comfortable to you – just build your system accordingly. That means that you don’t have to bend over on your hands and knees like you do when growing a traditional garden.

You don’t have to weed the garden, either, at least not on any serious level. If you do need to pick out a few, they pull out easily because their roots aren’t buried in dirt.

Now that you have a few really good reasons to try a hydroponics system to grow your fruits and vegetables, get started! We’ve provided a link to one that we’ve personally tested. It’s efficient, easy to assemble, and simple to use.

It’s also big enough to make a nice wall garden outside, but small enough to use inside even a small apartment. And with only 10 minutes a day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.

Click the banner below to grab your own survival farm!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

This Is The Smart Way To Invest In Food!

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The Smart Way To Invest In Food

Remember when Mom or Grandma would send you to the pantry or down to the basement to grab another jar of pickles or peanut butter? There were probably at least a couple of extra jars behind the one that you grabbed.

That’s because they lived through times when having backup food meant the difference between eating and going hungry. They had it “just in case.” Do you practice this? If not, you should.

We live in unsure times. The United States economy is by far the largest in the world; more than twice that of China, the world’s second largest economy. US money and goods support the global economy to the point that if we suffer an economic collapse, we take the rest of the world down with us.

But there’s one solid way to hedge your future – a basic commodity that everybody will always need: food.

Considering the state of the nation right now, an economic collapse is just as likely as not – maybe even more likely. The crazy explosion in the US monetary system and the instability of our government doesn’t just make it possible that we’ll face hyperinflation in the near future – it practically guarantees it.

Food costs are going to keep increasing and in the case of an economic collapse, will quickly increase to the point that foods that are barely affordable to many households now, such as meat, will be completely out of reach. The price of many “affordable” foods such as sauces, pasta, rice, sugar and flour will likely increase to the point that they’ll barely be affordable, assuming they’re available.

Until recently, the primary concern for most of us was economic collapse, with governmental collapse being a peripheral concern. Now, in these uncertain times, either – or both – is increasingly likely. Both would bring about life-altering circumstances that would dethrone the current money-based system in favor of a barter system.

Guess what that does to all those stocks, bonds, and savings accounts (and for that matter, cash) when that happens: they become worthless. But do you know what gains value exponentially? Food. And to a lesser extent, hygiene products. Investing in both will give you the tools you need to barter, survive, and even thrive.

No matter how poor somebody is, they’ll always need to eat. That doesn’t mean that you should gouge them. It just means that you’ll have a commodity that will be of value to everybody.

So, investing in food is the way to go. Even if you only invest in it passively, without ever selling a single noodle of it, you’ll still be saving much more by buying food for tomorrow at today’s prices than many investments that most of us can afford would yield. The longer you eat food bought at today’s prices, the more money you’ll save.

Food costs, with the exception of fresh fruit, decreased for the first time in years from December of 2015 – December of 2016, but that isn’t anticipated to continue. The USDA anticipated a hike in 2017 based on stable conditions – in other words, before the political climate changed so radically. Essentially, you have the chance right now to buy at bargain basement prices and put off buying when the prices go up.

So, how do you invest in food? Well, there are several different ways, and you can do it, at least to a certain degree, no matter where you live or how much money you have.

Considerations to the Return on Your Investment

Unless you have a huge farm with numerous gardens and storage spaces, and a lot of money to feed livestock and grow fresh produce, you have some challenges. That’s OK. You just need to work with what you have and find a proper way to secure your future.

Save Yourself $24,000 Instantly Using This One Easy Prepper Hack!

Space

This is probably the biggest limitation that you may face. If you live in a 1-bedroom apartment in an urban environment, the only space you may have is a closet and some cabinets. That’s fine. Make the most of what space you have by stockpiling a variety of staple foods and hygiene items.

Even the cabinet under your bathroom sink will hold more hygiene products than you might think. The more you can buy now at a lower price, the more you’ll save. Utilize your space well, buying products that you’ll use, and that will last.

Shelf Life

No matter how much space you have, shelf life is always a consideration. If you buy enough food to meet your needs for five years but it expires in two, you’ve wasted your resources.

Allocate your money responsibly and with forethought. Know how much you and your household eat monthly/annually. Use the FIFO (First In, First Out) method and store food in a way that will preserve it for as long as possible.

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What Types of Food You Can Store

While you can save a ton of money on buying extra boxes of cereal and jars of peanut butter, there are some types of foods that will save you more than others.

For instance, meat, eggs, and dairy prices are anticipated to increase significantly more than cabinet foods but they don’t have much of a shelf-life. Consider your resources and storage capabilities when you plan your shopping.

Methods to Help You Invest in Food

Now that you know what you need to consider when you’re investing in food, let’s talk about ways to help you invest better so that you get the most bang for your buck.

1. Buy a Freezer

Milk, meat, and eggs just aren’t shelf-stable as-is, but they’re the top foods that increase quickly in cost. You do have some options. All of these products have canned or powdered options that have excellent shelf lives.

You can also can your own meat and butter, and you can buy a freezer to store up to a year’s worth of food. Believe it or not, all dairy is freezable.

Many people are worried about lack of electricity in the event of a collapse and avoid freezers, but the odds of complete electric failure are pretty slim if you have an alternative power source. Most meats and dairy store frozen for up to six months, or even a year. Also the cost of a freezer, if you have a proper place where you can put one, will be covered by the savings in a short time.

2. Build a Food Storage Space

If you have the space, build or buy an extra food/supply shed. The money that you save in food and necessaries will pay for it in very little time.

3. Use Coupons and Sales

If you combine coupons and sales, you’ll be amazed how quickly you can build a stockpile for next to nothing. It’s a matter of paying attention to what’s on sale.

For instance, today I bought 6 bottles each of ketchup, shampoo, and laundry detergent for $13 total. My total savings was $24. And that doesn’t even count what I’ll save by not buying later when the price is higher.

All three are products that I use and that would be valuable if something happens and I need to barter, so there’s no way I can lose.

4. Buy Popular, Necessary Products

There are some foods and products that everybody just has to have. Examples: flour, green beans, tampons, deodorant, etc. Don’t buy a ton of lima beans if they’re on sale unless you really love them because they’re not a popular food. Sometimes there’s a reason things are on clearance – nobody else wanted to buy it!

Also, if you’re preparing for a bartering situation, alcohol and tobacco are going to be premium, in-demand products. Cigarettes are brutally expensive, but loose tobacco and rolling papers are fairly inexpensive and, as long as they’re sealed in air-tight containers, have a long shelf-life.

Regarding alcohol, remember that it’s not just for drinking – you can make tinctures and clean wounds and first-aid tools with it, too. Having extra vodka or bourbon is never a bad thing.

5. Buy Healthy Products

For some reason, people seem to want to pile in the boxes of cookies and cans of spaghetti-o’s because they’re cheap and delicious, but have no (or little) dried eggs, milk, canned meats, or meal stretchers such as flour and rice.

Think healthy. It’s important that you buy foods that you like – and cheap is good, too – but remember that you may be depending on your stockpile for survival. Stock up with healthy foods, too.

Also, canned milk, eggs, flour, rice, and other similar products are extremely versatile. You can eat or drink them as-is, or you can use them in recipes to make other products such as bread, cakes, side dishes, etc.

6. Buy in Bulk

This is our final point today, and it’s a big one because you may not need 20 pounds of flour or sugar now, but will you use it eventually? Of course you will, and it really doesn’t go bad as long as it’s stored properly.

A 20-pound bag of sugar often costs only a few bucks more than a 5-pound bag. Same with sugar. Compare cost per unit instead of just thinking of one being more expensive than the other. Dollars to donuts, bulk is almost guaranteed to be cheaper than smaller portions.

Now that you have some ideas about how to invest in food, start planning, then start buying. You can have a great stockpile built up in no time even if you just buy stuff that’s on sale buy-one-get-one-free and put back the extra. It adds up quickly, and you’ll have a nice nest egg sitting in your pantry or basement!

Plug_and_farm_600x137

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

Survival Kitchen: How To Revive Cast Iron Cookware

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SVP cast iron skillet final

Want to know the best thing about cast iron skillets and pots? They’re practically indestructible and will last literally hundreds of years.

I used to have a couple that were well over a hundred years old. When they were stolen, I was heartbroken. Yes, that’s right. Somebody stole them. And that, my friends, is about the only circumstance from which you can’t revive your cast iron cookware.

Another great thing about cast iron is that, unlike most other kitchenware, you can use it on an open camp fire without damaging it. As a matter of fact, Dutch ovens were designed for just that use. They’re suitable to bury in the coals and use them as an outdoor oven.

Since you can use them outdoors, they’re excellent for making one-dish meals in and come in sizes that can accommodate a meal for one or a meal for ten depending on your needs.

How to Find Quality Cast Iron

I absolutely love this part – I have 6 different pieces of cast-iron cookware and I only bought one of them new. I found each of the other pieces at yard sales and junk stores.

Actually, I found the two skillets that were stolen at an old “antiques” store (translate junk shop) that sat along the highway leading into Mt. Airy, NC. I bought each of them for $5. Best 10 bucks I’ve ever spent.

This is the most important investment you can make to your well prepared survival kitchen!

I live in Florida now, and I still see them at about a quarter of the yard sales that I go to, and probably three quarters of the estate sales, and most of the time they’re listed at less than $5. The salvation army and Goodwill frequently have them, too.

You can, of course, also find them used online from places like eBay, Craigslist, Freecycle, and Letgo, and you can buy them new at any home goods or super store. Basically, cast iron cookware is about as easy to find as toilet paper. Well, almost.

What to Look For

The good thing about cast iron is that even if it’s got some surface rust, it’s usually redeemable. What you want to watch for, though, are integrity issues.

Check to make sure that there are no cracks, and rub your fingers along the sides and bottom to check for uniform thickness. Set it flat and make sure that it doesn’t rock. Test the handle and make sure it’s sturdy.

Make sure that there aren’t too many cooked-on rough spots because, though you CAN get usually get them out, it’s a lot of work considering how easy common pieces like skillets and griddles are to find. If it’s a good one and you’re willing to invest the elbow grease and the time it will take to re-season it, then use the rough spots as a means to talk them down on the price.

Just make sure that it’s actually a cooked-on rough spot, though, and not rust that’s been painted over. I’ve seen it, believe it or not.

If you flip the cast iron skillet or pot over and there’s a lipped ridge or rim around the bottom of it, it’s an old one. That lip was used to keep it steady on top of a wood burning cook stove, so you can figure it’s a good 100 years old, at least, and likely older.

There will also likely be a seam visible across the bottom. Don’t let on like you know what you have because, if it’s in good shape, you’ve found a gem!

How to Revive Old Cast Iron

Now that you’ve got your gem at home, it’s time to bring it back to life! What I’m about to tell you may earn me some frowns from “those who say so,” but I’m speaking from 30 years of experience finding, reviving, and using cast iron cookware.

  • If it has rust that won’t just rinse off, sticky stuff, or baked-on crusties, use a steel wool pad to scrub all of the rust off. All of it. Inside and out. Yes, I’m aware that they say not to do this, but who are ‘they’?
  • Now that you have a clean, rust-free surface, it’s time to re-season it. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and bake the piece until it’s almost too hot to handle.
  • Remove it and apply a thin layer of vegetable oil, olive oil, or solid shortening inside and out. No butter or cooking spray. You may want to put a cookie sheet under it in the oven in case it drips, but you really shouldn’t have that much on it.
  • Put it back in the oven and bake for an hour, then allow it to cool completely and repeat the process. I like to repeat twice, at least, so that the seasoning really has a chance to set.

Remember that this is just the beginning of the seasoning part and unless you were fortunate enough to get one that already had a nice seasoning to it, it may take a few uses for the seasoning to completely cure and build a hard, non-stick coating on the inside of the pot or skillet.

Video first seen on Tasty.

The first few times I use a new skillet, I like to cook fatty foods such as bacon, sausage, or other meats in them so that they can absorb the fat and really get a nice non-stick coating going. Before you know it, it will be the best egg skillet you have. Seriously.

People differ in how they like to clean their cast iron. Some say not to use any soap, ever – just wash it out with water and call it good. I have a bit of a problem with that because of silly little things like salmonella and other creepy crawlies that make people sick. I use soap, but make sure that I rinse it WELL.

I definitely do not use steel wool on any of my skillets or pots after they’re seasoned. You shouldn’t have to. If food becomes cooked on, I just put a bit of water in the skillet and if it won’t soak off in the sink after a few minutes, I place it on the stove with about a half-inch of water in it and bring the water to a boil. That usually works to get off any stuck-on food.

Once you’ve washed it, place it on the stove on low heat so that it dries completely, then add a thin layer of oil (I just put a drop in the middle of the skillet and wipe it around with a paper towel) and let it cool. Done.

I really can’t emphasize enough how important it is not to let your cast iron air dry. It promotes rust, plus each time you heat it and add oil, it helps keep it non-stick so that your great-grandkids can enjoy it long after you’re gone. They will appreciate it as much as we appreciate the knowledge that we’ve inherited from our forefathers.

We still have a lot to learn from our ancestors. Click the banner below to discover more of the secrets that kept them alive!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Prep Blog Review: Freeze Drying Or Dehydrating?

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When it comes to food preservation for survival, I am always trying to find the best technique. I want to preserve not only the taste of the, but also the nutrients. Freeze drying and dehydrating are easy techniques that you can do at home.

Are you curious to discover the differences between freeze drying and dehydrating food for survival? In this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered 4 articles on this topic.

  1. How To Freeze Dry Food, With And Without A Machine

how-to-freeze-dry-food-with-and-without-a-machine

“Learning how to freeze dry food is something that’s gaining popularity.

It doesn’t come as a surprise to us, because many preppers are now simply discovering the “long forgotten” art of freeze drying their foods at home.

In truth, freeze drying has been in constant commercial use for generations. Applying it in your home is quit easy, with or without a special machine.”

Read more on BeSurvival.

  1. How To Freeze Dry Your Food In Your Home

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“Learning about the common methods of food preservation is important. When we find ourselves in a situation where food scarcity is on a large scale and the number of people dying because of starvation is rising at an alarming rate, having stocked or preserved food is definitely a life saver.

There are food preservation methods and one of them is through the process of freeze drying. Through vaporization, this process removes the moisture from the food. One of the awesome things about this method is you can save freeze dried food for a lot of years.”

Read more on Survival Life.

  1. How To Freeze Fish For Long-Term Survival

Preserving-fish-for-long-term-survival

“Living in a world where supermarkets are out of business is certainly no easy task. In order to survive in such world, you will be forced to hunt or fish for your food. Fishing for long-term sustenance requires for you to know various methods of preserving fish.

Of all flesh foods, fish is the most susceptible to tissue decomposition, rancidity and microbial spoilage. To prevent your fish from going bad there are some popular solutions that people have been using with great success. Preserving fish can be done through freezing, canning, pickling and smoking.”

Read more on Prepper’s Will.

  1. 6 Rules To Follow When Dehydrating Foods

6-rules-of-dehydrating

“Before you go crazy dehydrating, keep in mind that there are a few rules to follow to ensure food longevity, freshness and prevention of discoloration.

You can dehydrate any fruit or vegetable, regardless of quality or ripeness. If something is too ripe and soft, you can always puree it and dry the puree. Although using the best quality fruits and veggies will result in the best quality dried goods, remember that the goal here is preservation, not perfection. So don’t be afraid to dehydrate the bruised, overripe, and slightly damaged goods. Just make sure not to put mold in the dehydrator as it can spread and infect the rest of the foods.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton For Survivopedia. 

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Prep Blog Review: Best Practices For Storing Survival Food

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Disasters can happen to anyone, anytime and hence you can’t prevent them, you can prepare for them. I want you to answer to one question: if disaster strikes tomorrow, do you have the basics covered? And when I say basics I mean food and water.

Water and food are at the top of the list when it comes to storing for survival if you want to have a healthy, ever-lasting, super-diversified diet when SHTF. But storing food for survival becomes overwhelming when you keep buying, and buying without a plan in mind.

That is why, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered 4 articles that sum up the best practices for storing survival food.

  1. Top 10 food Storage Myths

TOP-10“The internet is full of websites that give information on survival topics, including food storage. There are dozens and dozens of books that will teach you “the right way” to store food and YouTube videos galore. Most contain valid, trustworthy information, but mixed in with that are a number of food storage myths that many people accept without question. Here are 10 that I take issue with, and I explain why.

Myth #1:  You should stock up on lots of wheat.

When I was researching foods typically eaten during the Great Depression, I noticed that many of them included sandwiches of every variety. So it makes sense to stock up on wheat, which, when ground, becomes flour, the main ingredient to every bread recipe.”

Read more on The Survival Mom.

  1. The Best ORAC Foods to Stockpile

“ORAC stands for ‘oxygen radical absorbance capacity.’ It is a unit of measure to determine the antioxidant capacity of a particular food. The higher the ORAC unit value, the more antioxidants a food will have.food Storage

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and therefore play a role in overall long-term health. Of course, you may think: why should I care about my long-term health when SHTF? No, you probably shouldn’t. But, if you are like me, you’re probably rotating your food stockpile. So when your cans are about to expire… instead of throwing them away you can eat a healthy balanced meal.”

Read more on Ask A Prepper.

  1. 50 Food Items To Keep Stocked for Emergencies

food-storage“Emergencies happen every day. We are faced with everything from a broken-down car on the freeway, medical emergencies, financial difficulties and natural disasters on a pretty consistent basis. Over the last 16 years, our country has been faced with some major events. We were attacked on 9/11 and many other terror attacks followed, we were faced with the devastating effects of Katrina, school shootings, our officers being shot, economic difficulties, and even rioting in our streets. All of these things are red flags that remind us to be prepared for just about anything.”

Read more on The Well Prepared Mama.

  1. How To Dehydrate Herbs for Long-Term Storage

dehydrating-herbs-for-storage

“Herbs are one of the first plants we put in our garden. There is nothing like fresh culinary herbs to intensify the flavors of food. As well, herbs are hardy garden plants that don’t have to be watered as much as vegetables and can serve more than one purpose by being used as natural medicine. For instance, did you know that a sage leaf can be used instead of a band-aid because it has natural healing qualities? Some of these popular culinary herbs are oregano, thyme and sage and can grow year-round in many parts of the country.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.  

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Australian army set to seize farming family’s land.

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What happened to this?

And this?

How long before we become totally dependent on overseas supplies of food?!!! What are we going to do if there is another war?!!!

Prep Blog Review: Let’s Talk About Survival Food

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Survival Food

As I remember, survival food was one of the top resolutions for preppers in 2017. From planning your stockpile, to cooking the best survival recipes, food should be a priority for every prepper. And, no matter how many times I’ve talked about food, there is always something interesting to share with you.

So, let’s talk about survival food!

For this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered 5 useful articles on this topic.

1. One Plan Is Not Enough: 7 Tips to Create a Successful Food Plan

Farmer“Every prepper has his/her own food plan for acquisition or storage of food for a crises scenario. Many might be homesteaders who rely heavily on their gardens and animal husbandry skills. Many of us store food either by canning, dehydrating, or stocking up on freeze-dried goods and MREs. Most of us include emergency rations in our bug out bags. Others plan to rely heavily on their ability to fish, hunt, trap, and forage for food.

The various preferences and vast differences in food prep styles are often largely based on what exactly the individual is preparing for. Whether you are planning to be snowed in and without power for the worst winter storm of the century, extensive layoffs, or putting together a militia for an imminent invasion, everyone can agree on one thing: Food must be accounted for. So where do we start? What are the most important things to consider? In this article I cover some of the requirements of creating your master food plan.”

Read more on The Prepper Journal.

2. 3 ‘Survival Crops’ That Store Naturally More Than 1 Year

“If you’re growing or foraging your own food for winter storage, there are plenty of options for keeping your family fed in the early days of winter. Many root crops, fruits and greens can keep for a field-852242_640few months cool and out of direct sun, even without a proper root cellar.

As the winter presses on, though, options start to dwindle and there are fewer and fewer choices in dependable home-raised crops that will take you all the way through the hunger gap into the first productive days of late spring and early summer. Nonetheless, humans survived millennia without refrigeration and long-term food shipments, so there’s plenty to get your family by.”

Read more on Off The Grid News.

3. A Beginners Guide to Sausage Making

Food, meat. Delicious sausages on the table“My grandfather was a large influence on my passion for homesteading. He was an avid gardener, hunter, made his own wine and sausage; and was always generous about sharing.

He made use of the plethora of meat he would get from hunting or deals he found at the grocery store. Once he was loaded up on meat, he would get his meat grinder out and carefully cut his meat for grinding and make some of the best sausage you could ever have. I grew up on his homemade sausage and could never get enough. I am a big believer in sharing family recipes and did so in my book, The Prepper’s Cookbook, so I had to share some of my favorite sausage recipes too.

Sausage making is a great way to use up an abundance of meats in the home freezer. I use an assortment of cheap meats. My grandfather’s secret was using equal amounts of brisket and pork butt.”

Read more on Ready Nutrition.

4. 5 Recipes to Make Your Own Survival Protein Bars

“Survival protein bars are becoming more and more popular among preppers and survivalist, but you can also find a few of them in any type of survival kit you can think of. These small snacks are5-Recipes-to-make-your-own-survival-protein-bars ideal for emergency kits because they help you control hunger, they provide proteins and fats, but they also keep your calorie intake in control.

These survival protein bars contain the right amount of protein and fats to keep you energized after intense activity even in the harshest of environments. There are many brands you can chose from and the flavors vary from chocolate to berries.”

Read more on Prepper’s Will.

5. Kitchen DIY: How to Nixtimalize Corn

Recipe-Hominy-300x200“This project looks deceptively simple, but it is one that I had to try a couple times to get right. I only stuck with it because Nixtamalization is a vital process for people that use corn as a staple food.

This is because the nutrient niacin is unavailable in unprocessed corn, and by cooking dried corn with a strong alkali (nixtamaling it), Niacin becomes available thereby preventing nutrient deficiency diseases like pellagra.”

Read more on Dave’s Homestead.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.

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Survival Gardening: How To Plan Your Low Water Garden

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Low Water Gardening Droughts are becoming more common. The impact of droughts on food production is very real. After all, plants need water to grow. But, you don’t always need a ton of water to grow food. That’s where low-water crops come in. They can produce food for your family to eat without taking nearly as much water.

If you don’t have a large water stockpile, or you are concerned about a coming drought, it might be time for you to switch to a low-water garden.

Low-water gardens are designed to receive significantly less water than a traditional one. The soil, coverings, and seeds are all meant to work together to minimize your water needs.

Also known as dry farming, this method is a return to the roots of agriculture for many locations. Before dams and irrigation innovations, farmers didn’t have the access to water. They planted, gave an initial soaking, and then let the plants tend to fetching water for themselves.

Winter is a great time to plan your low-water garden. But, no matter the season, here are some essentials to consider when working on this type of garden.

The Soil Is Essential

The quality of soil in your garden will help stretch the length of time between watering sessions. You’ll want plenty of compost and organic material in your soil.

This will help absorb water and slowly release it. You’ll also want some coarse sand in your soil. Sand helps draw in any moisture that does fall, so you’ll maximize the benefit of rain.

Clay is another component of low-water garden soil. The clay will hold the water, and slowly give it to the plants’ root systems.

You’ll want to thoroughly mix your soil, incorporating all the elements evenly. That way all your plants will grow well. Loose soil is recommended for this type of gardening, so tilling your soil to a depth of four to six inches will help.

Unfortunately, making the exact soil combination that you need for your climate will take time. There isn’t one perfect formula that’ll work everywhere.

Set up highly nutritious soil for your plants! Get your A to Z guide on survival gardening!

You Can’t Skip the Mulch

In a low-water garden, mulch isn’t just a suggestion. It’s essential. You need this soil covering to ensure the water stays where it belongs.

Without mulch, you’ll lose precious water to run-off. Evaporation will also be a problem.

A good layer of organic mulch prevents both of those from occurring. It’ll keep the water around the plants longer, and allow it to soak deeply into the soil.

Mulch

What Plants to Choose

When picking plants, be sure to check out the hardiness zone recommendations so you don’t plant something that won’t grow well in your area. There are a variety of crops to pick from that don’t take as much water.

You can also have a long-term vision when creating a low-water garden. If you have plenty of water now, you can plant some perennials that will take water initially. Once those plants are established, their water needs drop substantially.

For both long and short term planning, here are some crops to consider:

Grains

If a drought happens, you won’t be able to depend on large grain producers to keep on growing. Even if you don’t regularly plant grains, you’ll want to have some low-water seeds stored on hand. That way you have them when you need them.

A bonus with these grains is they’re easier to harvest than wheat. Many take minimal processing before being ready to eat. These grains would be a good addition to your low-water garden crops:

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Field Corn

Vegetables

Vegetables are a great way to add variety and nutrients to your diet. Here are some excellent options for a low-water garden.

  • Jerusalem artichoke (this takes more water the first year, but once it’s established it needs very little.)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Peppers
  • Asparagus (another long-term crop)
  • Drought tolerant zucchini

Fruits

To add some natural sweetness to your diet, be sure to include some fruits in your low-water garden. Here are some plants that grow well with little water.

  • Watermelon
  • Figs
  • Pomegranates
  • Most pit fruit trees (once established)
  • Rhubarb (once established)

Legumes

Many legumes don’t require much water. Consider adding these to your garden:

  • Black eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Tepary beans

Think Native

If you head to a natural area nearby, what plants are you going to see thriving? Chances are many of those are wild edibles. Take time to learn about plants native to your region.

Some of the plants considered weeds by many will be the perfect purposeful addition to your low-water garden. After all, no one is out in the woods irrigating the weeds. They just grow.

If you can’t find any seeds for these plants, try to dig up some established ones and transplant them. That way you’ll get a variety that grows well in your area.

You might even have a separate area where you encourage these plants to grow. That way they don’t take over your dedicated garden space. That will also help spread out your gardening efforts and minimize your risk of losing everything from theft. Hidden food sources are wonderful!

  • Burdock
  • Dandelions
  • Lamb’s quarter
  • Stinging nettles
  • Plantain

Shopping for Seeds

When selecting varieties, you’ll want to go with heirloom seeds. Many modern versions of these plants have been altered and turned into very needy seeds. This is especially true with corn.

Back in the day, irrigation options were very limited. Plants often didn’t get much water unless it rained. You want plants that survived then—not the needy variations humans have turned those plants into.

The one exception would be plants that have been selectively bred for dry-land planting. You can often find drought-resistant varieties of many of your favorites.

Another tip is to plant mini-varieties of the plants you most want to grow. For instance, it takes much less water to grow a cherry tomato than it does a beefsteak. Planting a few of your favorite water-loving plants in the mini-form will help you keep from feeling deprived with your garden.

Save Your Seeds

By saving your own seeds each year, you’ll be selecting varieties that did the best in your soil. Over time, your seeds will be essential to increasing your yield. They are locally adapted plants that thrive in your garden.

Get your step-by-step instructions on how to plant over 125 plants inside your garden!

Companion Planting

The Native Americans knew much about growing food. One method they used is known as the three sisters. This method of companion planting grouped plants together to maximize their yield.

Corn, beans, and squash were the original three sisters. These crops work together in harmony. The beans give nitrogen to the soil, which the corn and squash need. The beans grow up on the tall corn stalks, reducing the need for additional scaffolding.

Finally, the low-lying squash leaves protect the soil from the sun’s rays and help ensure water doesn’t run-off.

Planting companion crops will also help you plant more in a smaller space. This is essential if you’re just getting your low-water garden established and don’t have much soil built up.

Companion planting

 

Give Plants Space

Because your dry land plants will need to establish a deep root system, you can’t plant individual plants or companion groupings as closely together as you do in a traditional garden. That means your yield won’t be the same.

When to Plant

Your soil needs to accumulate the winter moisture. This built-in reserve is what will get your plants through until harvest.

If you wait too long to plant, your soil will be too dry. Conversely, if you plant too early you risk a killing frost freezing your garden.

When you plant your seeds, you want the soil to be nice and moist. Keep an eye on both the weather and the soil. You’ll want to plant after the last killing frost, but before the daytime temperatures get so high that they dry up your soil.

Once planted, you need to seal in the moisture in the ground by applying a good layer of mulch. Have your mulch on hand and ready to go before you plant.

Caring for Your Low-Water Garden

Low-water gardens are easy to care for once they’re planted.  You don’t want to water most of them, because you’ll risk cracking the dry soil. Cracked soil loses moisture much faster than soil that isn’t cracked.

Any watering that you do for your long-term plants that are just getting established needs to be done gently. You can’t turn a hose on full-blast. Rather, gently water the soil around the plant instead of the plant itself.

You don’t want to overwater any of the low-water varieties you are planting. Plants that don’t get watered will grow a deeper root system than ones that are frequently watered. You want to start your plants off trying to seek water from the ground.

Besides doing less watering, low-moisture gardens bring a couple of other benefits. They take much less time than a traditional garden.

For instance, you’ll notice that you won’t get as many weeds in a low-water situation once your plants are up. There just won’t be enough water for them to grow.

But, you’ll want to pluck out any weeds that do creep in. You’ll also want to be diligent about weeding as your plants are just sprouting. That way weeds aren’t competing with your plants for resources.

Many garden pests thrive in moist environments. They’ll often leave your dry land crops alone. So you’ll have fewer to deal with.

You might notice your plants starting to shrivel up before harvest. The leaves may turn brown and you might see spots. These are typical signs in a low-water garden, and they don’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your harvest.

Are you a dry farmer?

What tips can you add to help others get started in this style of gardening? It’s a different approach to growing food, and everyone can benefit from you sharing your knowledge.

Start growing your survival garden that will keep you and your family fed for life!  

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia. 

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DIY Winter Water Heaters For Chicken Coop

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DIY Water Heater Coop

If you’re a chicken farmer, you may already know that chickens actually thrive in colder temperatures, as they’re designed with a unique ability. They are excellent at regulating their body temperatures – way better than humans actually.

However, with the winter upon us, it would be nice to help our little feathered friends as much as we can.

The thing is that during the winter, your chickens require at least as much water as they do during the summer in order to generate body heat, so it’s still crucial that they receive an adequate supply of fresh, clean, unfrozen water. Going without water for even a couple of hours can decrease egg production for up to 2 days.

Keep Your Chickens Hydrated During Winter

Dehydration sets in quickly with chickens, especially in extremely cold environments. Even though your hens will drink significantly less water during the winter – about 3 times less on average than in the summer – it’s critical that you keep your “girls” properly hydrated during the winter.

Also, depending on where you live, wintertime survival for your chickens can be anything from a walk in the park and a day of busting bricks, if you know what I mean.

Another fact is that chickens are basically 65 percent water and shuffling back and forth to the chicken coop 3 or 4 times a day carrying heavy buckets of water in freezing cold and/or heavy snow is pretty far from my idea of having quality time during the winter months.

The problem with harsh winters and chicken coops is that water tends to freeze rather quickly in sub-freezing temps. Since your chickens need water on a daily basis, you’ll have to find a way to provide it to them without breaking your back in the process.

Water is involved in all aspects of poultry metabolism, which essentially means that if they don’t get enough of it, your girls will not be able to regulate their body temperature properly among other things (food digestion, body waste management etc).

Also, water is very important in the production of eggs, as an egg is made roughly from 74 percent water. If your girls don’t have access to enough clean/fresh water, you can kiss your egg production goodbye during the winter.

Just like humans, poultry are more sensitive to a lack of water rather than a lack of food, so you must be extra careful that they always have access to fresh and clean water (water no older than 24 hours would be ideal).

Discover how to easily build an attractive and affordable backyard chicken coop!

How To Stop Your Chickens’ Water Freezing

Now, during the winter, your biggest problem is preventing your chickens’ water supply from freezing. I know I am stating the obvious here, but just like with so many other issues, this is easier said than done.

Even if chickens come equipped with pretty tough beaks, they’ll never use them to pierce through heavy ice to get to the water. In other words, this will be one of your many designated jobs during the winter.

There are 2 main strategies when it comes to mitigating the freezing issue:

  • the hard way is to manually replace the water when it freezes
  • the easier way is to prevent it from freezing in the first place.

Carrying water may be quite fun – some may even say idyllic – during the summer, when it’s nice and warm outside, but it will make for a miserable experience during the winter’s freezing dark conditions. While this is basically the most passive option, it’s pretty far from the ideal one, at least in my book. It’s labor-intensive because you’ll have to refill the chickens’ water at least 3 times/day. Which brings us to the second option: prevention.

It pretty much goes without saying that in order to prevent water from freezing, you’ll have to summon a little bit of magic to apply some heat to the water container in your coop 24/7.

I must emphasize the word “little” here, because chickens aren’t very fond of drinking lukewarm water, pretty far from it actually, so you’ll have to pay attention to that issue. You should concentrate only on keeping the water from freezing because, as a matter of fact, chickens really love sipping freezing-cold water.

Again, there are 2 strategies involved here: if you’re not DIY friendly, you can always take the easy approach and buy an electrically heated pet bowl, though you’ll have to cough up a few bucks in the process.

Also, this solution only works if your chicken coop has easy access to a source of electricity (solar panels would work, but that’s overkill for your budget). These bad boys will do the hard work for you, but you’ll have no fun in the DIY-ing process and that’s a bummer.

Now, the flip-side to that coin is to use that big brain of yours along with a little elbow grease and build your own water heater.

Start building your own chicken coop. No special tools required. Get your free easy plans! 

DIY Winter Water Heater Using Electricity

As long as you’re handy with a screwdriver and you don’t have a problem with getting your hand dirty whilst saving a few bucks in the process, you can do this. To improvise a water heater you’ll just need a few basic materials and tools, including:

  • a stepping stone
  • a cinder block
  • a light bulb (the good old-school incandescent variety, alright folks?)
  • a fixing bracket.

The fixing bracket will be used to secure the light bulb firmly in place to the side of the cinder block. Also, you’ll have to drill a tiny hole through the side of the cinder block, so you’ll be able to run an electric wire to the light bulb.

When turned on, the light bulb will provide enough heat to keep the cinder-block warm provided it’s strong enough. It needs to be at least 40 watts. Obviously, if you place the chicken’s water bowl on top of the cinder block, it will stop the water from freezing without making it so warm that they won’t drink it. Depending on how low your temperatures drop, you may need a stronger bulb, or a weaker one.

Make sure you isolate all the electrical parts properly, because you don’t want to wake up in the morning and discover some fried chicken inside your hen house.

Video first seen on Gustavo Monsante

DIY Winter Water Heater Using Sun Light

If you don’t have electricity available or you just don’t want the fire hazard or you’re afraid of electricity, wiring and what not, don’t despair just yet. We have another solution for you: the Sun-is-your-best-friend approach. The idea behind this DIY job is to use the sunlight (if any) for keeping the water from freezing.

Since chickens are usually sleeping during the night, they’ll only need water during daytime, when the sun is presumably up and shining.

For this DIY job, you’ll only need:

  • a tire
  • styrofoam
  • a rubber tub
  • sunlight.

The idea with the tire is that, being black, it will absorb the sunlight, thus keeping the water from freezing.

The styrofoam is used for insulating. Remember, this neat trick only works if there’s enough sun, which is a best case scenario during the winter. This may not be reliable enough if you don’t live in an area that gets lots of sunny, albeit cold, winter days, though it’s worth mentioning.

Video first seen on Lisa of Fresh Eggs Daily

The easiest way to prevent water from freezing is to float 5-6 ping pong balls in your water container. The ping pong balls will float around the container at even the slightest breeze, thus making tiny waves on the surface, which will prevent the initial layer of ice from forming. That’s right – ping pong balls can prevent water from freezing as long as the temperature doesn’t dip much below freezing.

It’s essential to remember during the cold season to never use a metal water container. Always go for dark-colored (ideally black) plastic or rubber containers during the winter. For example, a deep-black rubber container alone, if placed in the sun (if any) will prevent the water inside from freezing to temperatures several degrees below freezing.

Also, the larger the surface area and depth, the longer it will take for the water to freeze. A 40-gallon rubber-made water trough will rarely freeze during the winter, but it all depends on where you live.

You can build your chicken coop on a budget with these ready-made easy to follow plans! 

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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The Final Countdown. Climate Change!!!

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Time is fast running out to stop irreversible climate change, a group of global warming experts warns today. We have only 100 months to avoid disaster. Andrew Simms explains why we must act now – and where to begin.

Our New Three Sisters Garden. Hugelkultur.

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This season we are trying a slightly new garden method, just to see if it works. This will be our three sisters garden, corn, beans & squash. This method of making a garden bed is known as Hugelkultur .

I will be making a video of this later when the crops are up, but right now this is as far as I have got. I dug a trench first & filled it with garden refuge, cut grass & weeds, heavier tree trimmings on top of that, some old garden edging logs that we have replaced, then the soil on top. I did add some chook manure before adding the soil to help break down the refuse.
When I started mounding the earth, I soon realised that I was not going to have enough soil to cover the highest logs. I did not want to bring more soil from elsewhere or use our compost that we needed for our other garden beds, so I removed two of the top logs.

The two pumpkins are volunteers from last year.

Small Spaces Survival: Growing Food Upside Down

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One of the most basic supplies that you’ll need in the event that SHTF is food, but living in an apartment or small area can make it tough to grow your own.

You can build a standard vertical garden, and you can do a terrarium, but it may seem that you don’t have many options.

That is, unless you’re willing to think outside the box and turn traditional gardening upside down! Literally!

What is an Upside Down Garden?

I’m sure you never saw your granny growing her tomatoes upside down while lettuce was growing above it, but that’s just because she never thought of it. Upside down gardening is exactly what it sounds like – you grow your plants out of the bottom of the planter instead of the top. Think of it as doubling your vertical gardening space.

Maybe you’ve seen the kits for these at your local superstore or garden center, but those are almost exclusively for tomatoes.

This space-saving food solution lasts for years with just 10 minutes of work per day.

There are several other fruits, veggies, and herbs that grow great in this manner, which means that you can nearly double your growing space without taking up any extra square feet!

Video first seen Yewtoobnube’s channel

In addition to practically doubling your growing opportunities without eating up more space, growing plants upside down had a couple of other advantages. First, the plants aren’t touching the ground so you don’t have to worry so much about mold, rot, or insect infestation.

Upside down plants also grow more vigorously, they’re easier to water, and you don’t have to break your back weeding them or tilling a garden. Finally, the fruits, veggies, and herbs are easier to access. Just pluck them off the plant. No bending, twisting, or kneeling. All in all, they have all of the same benefits of standard container gardening and then some.

Upside down garden

What Plants Grow Well Upside Down?

Though it seems weird to think of any plant growing upside down, just about any plant that has a sturdy root system and a decent-sized stem will do well. Here are some of the best:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries (ever-bearing plants are great!)
  • Eggplants
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Pole Beans
  • Bush Beans
  • Herbs with a Sturdy Stalk (Basil, Parsley, Lemon Verbena, etc.)
  • Parsley
  • Creeping Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, etc.)

Blueberries can also be grown upside down, but they have some specific growing requirements, so make sure your zone meets these, or make arrangements to artificially emulate their needs.

The only thing that you need to consider is weight of the produce. Larger varieties of eggplants and peppers may need to be picked when they’re still a bit small to keep them from breaking off the plant. Other than that, you’ll be surprised at how well most plants do upside down.

Compatible Plants for the Top

Since the name of the game is maximizing growing space, don’t waste all that real estate up top. You can grow lettuce, peppers, herbs, onions, garlic and any other plant that isn’t going to grow far enough over the sides that they become entangled with their upside down planter mates. This is something that you may just want to play with.

Oh, and if you aren’t desperate for edible plant space, you can always grow flowers such as petunias in the top to make the entire display even more beautiful.

How do I Grow an Upside Down Garden?

Excellent question. There are many different designs that you can choose from but most of them are extremely simple. You can even do an internet search and make your own from burlap bags, hanging baskets, terra cotta pots, or even plastic buckets in a size suitable to the plant. The only requirement is that container is large enough and strong enough to support the weight of the dirt and the full-grown plant.

Now, you may be thinking, “How in the world do I start a plant upside down?” Another great question. You can’t use seeds – you have to use seedlings of small plants.

To get started, you need to drill a hole or holes in the bottom of your container. Depending on the size of the plant or the container, you may be able to plant more than on plant per container. Just keep in mind the size of the roots and of the mature plant.

To grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and other large plants in a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, drill a two inch hole in the middle of the bucket. For smaller plants such as strawberries, you can put smaller holes (1 1/2 inches in diameter or so) every few inches around the bottom of the bucket. If you’re using long planters, you can plant tomatoes et al. every 12 inches or so. When you’re drilling your holes, keep in mind the size of your seedlings or young plants.

You really want to choose plants that will fit safely through a hole no bigger than 2 inches because there’s this thing called gravity that will pull your roots and soil through the hole. You can combat this fairly easily, but only if you keep the hole small.

To do that, you’ll need something that will fit across the hole to keep your plant secure until its roots are large enough to do the job. Whatever you use will also help keep the dirt from washing out through the hole when you water it.

I chose to use scraps of denim from a pair of jeans that I was going to throw away, but you can also use landscaping fabric, newspaper, a coffee filter, or whatever else you have handy. Just make sure that it’s something you’d be safe drinking water through.

I lined the entire bottom of my bucket with it, but you don’t need it to be that big; just 6 inches or so in diameter so that there’s enough extra fabric for the dirt to hold in place. Cut a 2-inch (max) slit in the fabric and slip your plant through it so that it divides the plant from the roots. Keep the slit as small as possible for maximum performance.

Next, gently push your plant through the hole in the bucket and adjust it so that the roots are completely confined within the bucket. Push your fabric down against the bottom of the bucket, then fill the container to within a couple of inches of the top with soil and compost.

Video first seen on subtac

What to Grow in the Top of your Planter

If your goal is to maximize your growing space, this is the most important part of all because you still have all of that dirt real estate at the top of the bucket or planter. There are only two things that you need to consider here when you’re deciding what to plant on top: watering needs and root size. Oh, and compatibility.

Most plants grow well together, but there are a few that just won’t play nice. For example, garlic onions (all varieties, including shallots) stunt the growth of all types of beans and peas. Onions and mint shouldn’t be grown with asparagus. Cucumbers are mean to fresh herbs. Pole beans and mustard don’t work well with beets. Cabbage of all varieties inhibits strawberries. This isn’t an inclusive list, but it’s a start.

Research before you plant so that you know if your plants are compatible and if they share similar watering and lighting needs. Also, make sure that they don’t have such long roots that they get root-bound. You can avoid that by using the right size container and leaving plenty of space for the roots to spread from both top and bottom.

Growing food upside down is a great solution for the problem of growing food in small spaces. It’s also great for people who have difficulty bending, squatting, or performing other physical activities required by traditional gardens. All you really need to do is water and occasionally fertilize if necessary. Voila!

One of the benefits that I enjoy the most is that if you hang these around your porch, they provide natural, beautiful shade and privacy.

Grow your own food, save space, and you don’t even need a yard!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Winter Survival: 5 Tips To Boost Your Dairy Cows

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Dairy Cows

Winter, in most parts of the US, is never a good time for animals. It’s cold and often wet, the days are short, and fresh grass is non-existent. It’s no wonder that milk production may slow down a bit.

For example, cows get stressed when it’s cold, and they don’t produce as much milk as cows that are comfortable. Routines change, it’s colder, the food is different, there are many factors that stress your cow, but the number one stressor is cold.

We talked about how to get more eggs. This time, let’s see what to do to boost your dairy cows and keep the milk coming in the freezing winter days!

1. Have Your Cows in Good Condition

cowBefore winter sets in, it’s important that your cow is in good physical condition.

She needs to be at a good weight, and she needs time to acclimate to the cold so that she can grow her winter coat.

If she’s going to be outside for winter, leave her outside as the days grow shorter and the weather drops.

If she’s used to being in a barn during the summer, she’ll need to stay in it during the winter, too.

Assess your cows a couple of months before winter. Body fat is going to be one of the top two factors that help her stay warm. If you only have one or two cows, this obviously isn’t as difficult as if you have a herd.

Still, if your girls are a little on the thin side, increase their feed so that they’re carrying the right amount of weight heading into winter. This will keep them from stressing so much from the cold.

If they’re thin, they’ll use what fat stores they have to keep warm instead of giving milk. Thin cows may also produce weak calves, have problems producing colostrum, and take longer to come back into heat.

How your cow should look depends upon her breed and age – two year olds are the toughest if they’re breeding because she’s giving milk, growing, and eating to feed a baby, too. She may need A LOT of feed. Know your cows and know what they need.

On the other end of the spectrum, if your cow is obese, she’s not going to winter as well either. Just like people, obesity in an animal does not contribute to good health. Adjust feed as necessary.

In addition to keeping her milk production up, being at a good weight will also help her give birth easier if she’s pregnant, and will help her regain her weight and come into heat earlier after she gives birth.

2. Feed them Enough of the Right Feed

Throughout winter, your cows are going to need more food that they do during the summer. It’s also important that they have access to plenty of water and a salt lick as well.

Roughage – hay – is what helps a cow produce the energy she needs to stay warm and happy. If she doesn’t have enough hay, the weight will fall off of her.

This is because the fermentation and breakdown of the cellulose in the hay creates energy. High quality alfalfa may provide plenty of nutrients, but alone, it won’t provide enough roughage for your cows to stay warm.

You may not know it, (if you don’t, you should) but cows shiver. If they get that cold, they’re burning calories like mad. You need to avoid that. Give them plenty of hay.

Just so you know, a cow’s energy needs increase by anywhere from 17-50 percent after giving birth, so there’s a starting point for you.

Next, consider the temperature. A cow in good physical condition that has acclimated to winter by growing a good coat is good to go on regular winter rations until she reaches her critical temperature.

That temperature is around 20-30 degrees F. At that point, she’s burning fat to keep warm and you need to increase her feed in order to keep getting milk. A rough rule of thumb is to increase her rations by 1 percent for each 2 degrees below critical temperature.

Once the temperature drops below zero, she may be eating up to a third more than she would at 50 degrees just to maintain her body heat.

Don’t forget to factor in wind chill, length of the cold snap, and whether or not she’s wet. Even the best winter coat doesn’t trap body heat if it’s wet – imagine going outside in wet clothing.

3. Give them a Morning Boost

This goes along with feed, but I thought that it merited its own section because it’s just that important. If you’re counting on pasture to provide part of your rations, you may need to give your ladies a little push in the mornings with some hay to get them warm.

Even though there’s pasture available, if they’re cold, they’ll stand huddled to preserve body heat instead of going out to graze. Give them some hay in the morning to get their bodies producing heat and then they’ll go out and graze.

4. Build a Shelter

You know that even if it’s 40 or 50 degrees, if there’s a good wind blowing, you’re going to pull up your collar and huddle into your coat. If it’s raining, it’s even worse. It feels a lot colder than it actually is. Your cows feel the same way.

It’s important that your cows have shelter. If you don’t have to worry about much snow or wet, then a windbreak may do, but if it’s raining or snowing much, they need a at least a lean-to to shelter in. A barn is preferable. Whichever route you go, your cows need to have a warm, dry place to get in out of the weather if it’s cold.

If you keep them in a barn, make sure that it’s well-ventilated. Damp and moisture lead to respiratory conditions in cows.

If you’re getting a blizzard, you can partially close some of the vents to keep the snow from blowing in, but you want at least a half inch of open ventilation for each 10 feet of building width, no matter what.

Provide Adequate Bedding

If you have free stalls or lean-tos where your cows sleep, provide adequate bedding in them. This means that it should be dry and there should be enough to provide some warmth.

5. Protect Her Teats

Just like our delicate lips, faces, and hands get chapped in the cold, so do a cow’s teats.

It’s extremely important that you make sure that her teats are dry when she leaves the milking stall or feed area, and you should also provide windbreaks around the barn, too.

Bag balm is called that for a reason. It helps sooth bags and teats that may be moderately irritated.

Dip teats before milking and after milking. Though it adds a few seconds to the process, it’s worth it because it really does help reduce mastitis both directly by killing bacteria and because chapped, cracked teats inhibit the milk from dropping, which leads to infection.

Video first seen on MonkeySee

Use germicidal dips that also contain 5-12 percent skin conditioners. Don’t wash them because that washes off the natural protective oils, and make sure that the teats are dry before they leave the milk shed.

Warm, well-cared-for cows are happy, healthy cows who give lots of milk. If she’s stressed so much by being cold, or is so cold that she uses  all her energy staying warm, or if her teats are chapped and sore, she’s not going to give good milk.

Your goals should be keeping her warm and healthy, and these are all steps toward that outcome.

Are you prepared for a coming food crisis? Click the banner below and discover how you can feed your family with healthy foods during any collapse!

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This article has been wrriten by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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More Food from the Wild and Your Yard – Graft Fruit Trees!

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LoquatVeneerGraft4

Despite a smashed thumbnail, the author bravely grafts a loquat tree in his food forest.

I once did a horticultural analysis of a property way out in the scrublands. The owner had good clean water, no real neighbors, a great location… and hot, fast-drying, mineral-poor sand that was really, really bad for gardening.

There was no couching it. I had to tell him: this area just won’t cut it for most of your planned annual gardening projects. It will barely support much in the way of fruit or nut trees.

What it did have was a decent amount of native American persimmon trees. They were dwarfed by drought and stress, but they were strong and alive. That said, I saw very few with fruit.

With antive persimmons you deal with a variety of drawbacks. Unlike their cultivated Japanese persimmon relations, they’re dioecious. That means you have male and female trees – and you need both to get fruit. The male won’t make fruit but it does provide the pollen that allows the females to fruit.

Japanese persimmons are self-fertile, plus they make hefty, sweet fruit that’s very worth growing. They’re also regularly grafted onto American persimmon rootstock.

Seeing the wild trees gave me an idea: why not use the existing trees as rootstock for Japanese persimmons? They’re already established and growing in poor soil, making them a perfect support for a higher-producing and delicious variety of improved persimmon!

Sometimes our first observations aren’t the best. You might see a crabapple with lousy fruit in your yard and think “I hate that thing! I’ll tear it out and plant a good apple in its place!”

Step back and think about it: maybe that tough tree is a resource you can use. With grafting you can go nip some twigs off good apple trees and just graft them onto the tree you don’t like. If it’s a happy and healthy mature tree, use it! If you can graft fruit trees, you can grow more food for less money.

Another interesting factoid to consider: you know those stupid ornamental pears people grow for the blooms? You can graft REAL pears onto them. There are folks doing that in California right now by illegally “guerilla grafting” street trees:

Doesn’t that change the landscape a bit? Ornamental trees are generally a non productive liability… productive trees are a serious asset. If you’ve got ornamental pears, plums, peaches, apples, etc… why not switch them up by grafting on some good varieties?

Grafting In Local Woods and Property

Here’s another thought for you.

In my neighborhood there are wild persimmons growing here and there around the block. Some of these are on empty lots and in unused property with absentee owners. We don’t know how bad things are going to get in the future so it makes sense to grow as much food as possible near our houses… even if that food is on other people’s land right now.

Wild persimmon fruit is only found on 50% of the trees (since the other half are male). That fruit is about 1″ in diameter, plus it’s astringent and seedy.

I have Japanese persimmons in my yard that make fruit that looks like this:

Hachiya1

That fruit is as large as a beefsteak tomato and just as delicious (if not more so).

Though the legalities are rather grey, I don’t think anyone would really mind if I were to take buds off my Japanese persimmon tree and graft them into the wild trees here and there around the neighborhood. People will find it rather puzzling, sure – but be upset by it? I doubt it. Heck, at the very worst all I’ve done is improve somebody’s tree. Hehhehheh.

Just thinking out loud here. In your local woods you may have quite a few trees growing which could be judiciously improved, turning them into fruit-production machines rather than marginally useful wild specimens.

Grafting Is Easy

I know what many of you are thinking: “All the above is nice, Dave… but I don’t know how to graft fruit trees!”

I understand that feeling. I was in your shoes for a long time. Grafting was something that seemed… complicated. Planting beans? No big deal. Drying fruit? Easy.

Grafting? OMIGOSHNO! THAT LOOKS HARD!

Well… it takes a little whittling experience (unless you go this route)… and a couple of decent tools… but it isn’t really hard. If you’d like a quick illustrated guide, click here. Though it states that wood should be dormant, I’ve been able to successfully graft in summer here in Florida, at least on loquat trees.

One of my favorite (and most successful) ways to graft is called “veneer grafting.” At my site you can see how I saved the genetics of an improved loquat tree hit by a string trimmer by grafting some of its buds onto some seedling loquats.

Don’t worry about messing up. We all mess up. There’s no harm in trying something new.

This spring I grafted a big, sweet improved plum onto a sour native plum tree. I did five grafts – one took:

WildPlumGraft1

The leaves on the grafted plum variety are about 10 times the size of the weenie leaves on its native plum host. The author finds this strangely hilarious.

Now, in the fall of the same year, that branch is about 3′ long. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have it bear fruit this coming spring.

Get yourself a sharp pocketknife, some pruning shears, a roll of grafting tape and your courage… then start experimenting.

Grafting can help you get food from unproductive trees and lots – harness it and you’ll be just that much more prepared for an uncertain future.

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3 Ways To Add A Rooster To Your Flock

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Rooster Flock

Roosters. These beautiful birds often earn a bad reputation. But, when carefully selected and introduced, a rooster can be a blessing to your hens, not a curse.

I’ll jump into the how-to part of adding the rooster a little later in this post. Keep reading to find out more!

But first, let’s talk about some basics behind adding a male bird (or birds) to your flock.

How Many Roosters?

If you have too many roosters, they’ll spend more time fighting than doing their job. A good way to calculate how many roosters you need is to count your hens. You want one rooster for every six-ten hens.

That way every rooster can have his own little flock of hens to care for and breed with. Your hens will be happy because there won’t be three roosters trying to mate with each one. It’s a good ratio to try and maintain.

When deciding upon the number of roosters, take into account the following factors:

Space

Are your chickens confined to a pen and a run? If so, you’ll need significantly more space per bird if you plan to keep multiple roosters in there. Each one needs plenty of space for his flock.

If your chickens free-range, you’ll be able to get away with less space in the coop. But, you’ll want to make sure you don’t go below the minimum recommended space of four square feet per bird.

Having multiple, small coops available also helps minimize rooster squabbles. Or maybe you’ll have some of your birds roost on the barn roof at night like mine do.

No matter where they are, make sure each rooster has roosting space to enjoy at night with his hens. They will enjoy being together night and day.

Rooster

Feeders and Waterers

Many rooster fights originate over a battle for resources. If you have multiple roosters, you may need multiple feeders and waterers too. You definitely want to keep an eye on your flock, and if there are meal time problems add some additional options.

You’ll want them to have plenty of food and water for their ladies. Roosters will eat whatever your hens are eating, so you won’t need to worry about separating food.

Chicken feeding tips

Noise

Roosters are roosters. And they make noise. Contrary to popular belief and many movies, roosters don’t just crow when the sun comes up.

They crow pretty much all day, or at least mine do. When a hen lays an egg? They crow. When they sense danger? They crow.

Roosters are loud. So if you have a backyard flock in the city, be sure to check out your town’s ordinances before introducing a male. They aren’t as easy to hide behind a privacy fence as hens are.

How to Pick a Rooster

There are so many breeds of chickens available, so you’ll have plenty of choices for your rooster. While there are breeds that are known for being more docile, each rooster will have a temperament all his own.

That means you can pick a docile breed and still end up with a mean rooster. Likewise, you can raise a rooster from an aggressive breed, and wind up with a sweet, docile boy.

So basically, there are no guarantees when buying a rooster when you buy one as a baby.

I’ve had the best luck with banty roosters. My Ameraucanas, Australorps, and Blue Andalusians were all aggressive. While Ameraucanas are typically aggressive, Australorps are supposed be more docile.

The banty roosters have been fine. So have all of our new cockerels since the initial banty, that are half banty.

There’s been a little fighting, typically when a new batch matures in the summer, and they establish a new pecking order. Thankfully, there’s been no aggression towards myself or my children with these smaller roos.

Since breed isn’t a reliable indicator of a rooster’s personality, here are some characteristics to watch for when buying a rooster that’s full-grown. Hopefully you’ll have a chance to see him in action at his current residence before purchasing.

  • What do the backs of the hens this rooster is with look like? (You don’t want a rooster that tears up the backs of his ladies.)
  • Has the current owner noticed any aggression?
  • Is this rooster the dominant one at the top of flock, or a beta male?
  • Does the rooster share food with the hens, or does he keep it for himself?
  • How old is the rooster? (Young roosters who are just figuring out the mating thing are typically the roughest on hens.)
  • Is the rooster healthy?

Be careful buying roosters sight unseen unless you’re prepared for your new rooster to end up in the stew pot. Many people who get rid of their roosters are getting culling a problem bird. It’s not always the case, but is common enough that you should always be aware of it.

3 Ways to Introduce a Rooster to Your Flock

Over the years, I’ve introduced roosters to my flock in three different ways. They were all successful, but each had their pros and cons.

1. Buying a Rooster Initially with Baby Hens

The easiest way to introduce a rooster to your flock is to do it before your flock is established. When you’re buying baby chicks for the first time, just add roosters to your order to maintain the proper hen to rooster ratio.

This is how I started off. I ordered my chicks, added a couple of cockerels to the order and raised them all together. They established their pecking order from the time they were small, and I didn’t have a problem with fighting.

The chickens and roosters knew each other. I didn’t have to worry about isolating new birds, or introducing illness. It was simple.

But, you really don’t know the temperament of roosters until they are bigger. The roosters I ordered as cockerels turned mean. They were a risk to the children, and those roosters are no longer on the farm.

2. Adding a Full-Grown Rooster to Your Hens

About the time I got rid of my other roosters, a friend of the family had given my mom a small flock of banty chickens that included two roosters.

At first, she kept her flock in her coop across the road, though the long-term goal was always for them to move over here to join my flock.

Isolation: It Takes Time

The new birds were kept them in their coop for three weeks. This isolation time allowed for illnesses to be displayed. The birds were healthy.

Whenever you introduce a new bird, it’s important to not just stick them into your flock and hope everything goes well. A quarantine period allows you to check for mites and disease. That way you don’t inadvertently expose all your chickens.

If you don’t have a separate coop, you can create a smaller coop inside your existing one with chicken wire. Or you can use a shed or barn on your property. It won’t be forever, so as long as the space is predator proof it’ll work.

For introducing a single rooster, you can also use a large dog crate. I did this when introducing a batch of chicks, and it worked well for the birds to get to know each other.

Just be sure to keep an eye on food and water in the isolation unit, and make sure you don’t let the birds get too cramped.

Rooster ans chickens Start with Face to Face meetings in Large Spaces

Once you know your new rooster is healthy, you still don’t want to just add him directly to your flock. Give them time to get to know each other in a less territorial space.

My chickens and the new chickens free ranged together at my house. They had plenty of space, and at first both flocks stayed separate. They each foraged over a different section of land, and all went to their known coops at night.

After a few days of this distant meetings, the birds began to mingle. This mingling was repeated every day, and became more frequent.

Let the Rooster in at Night

Now that all the birds knew each other, it was time for the next phase of the assimilation. One evening after all the birds were roosting, I began to move the new ones. Since they were roosting, they were calm and easy to move.

I walked each bird across the street and into my coop. In the coop, I placed them on an extra roosting pole. That way they weren’t directly touching any of my existing flock.

By introducing the birds to sleeping together at night, the birds will be more likely to accept the new member. Then you can just let them all out in the morning.

Don’t Let Your Chickens Be Bored

Many problems with roosters arise when they’re bored. To solve this problem, provide your chickens with some activities they can do together.

Provide a spot for them to take dust baths. Toss out some grains and let them scratch. Give them your food scraps.

These things are simple, but will keep your chickens engaged and busy. They’ll be less likely to fight.

Know a Pecking Order Will Be Established

Even when you take precautions to introduce your new rooster, there will be changes in your flock. Each rooster will want his own girls, and there will be a new pecking order established.

There might be some squabbles while this occurs, but they should be minor. If you notice severe fighting, or injury, the rooster might not be a good fit for your flock. Slow down and go back to isolation at night.

Once my flock had its new pecking order figured out, one rooster took his hens to the barn to sleep at night.

Since they could get up high on the rafters, they were impossible for me to get back down and bring into the coop. So they still sleep there at night.

You might notice your chickens and roosters sleeping a little differently as well.

3. Letting Hens Hatch New Roosters

The final way that I’ve introduced new roosters into the flock is to have my hens do it for me. One benefit of having a rooster around is the fertile eggs. If you have a hen that will brood, you can have a self-sufficient flock.

When the chicks hatch, the mother hen will take care of flock introductions. By the time the hen leaves her chicks, they are grown enough to know their spot in the flock.

But, there will be a new pecking order established. I’ve seen the most problem as the new roosters begin to become interested in mating. They will always try to claim hens for himself.

In that process, he will almost always step on the toes of an established rooster. There’s a bit of squabbling, but the older roosters help the young ones learn their place.

The downside of this method is you can end up with too many roosters. So be prepared to cull some for the stew pot to keep there from being many problems. Then you’ll get both meat and eggs from your flock!

Adding a new rooster can take time. But, having one around can bring plenty of benefits to your flock.

A chicken flock is  as crucial for your homestead nowadays as it was for our grandparents in the past. Discover the secrets that helped them survive during harsh times.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia. 

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How To Wax Food For Long-Term Storage

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How To Wax Food For Long Term Storage

You’ve probably noticed how shiny your cucumbers, apples, or other smooth produce looks when you buy it. That’s because it’s coated in a wax.

Though they pretty appearance is one of the benefits of waxing food, the main reason for waxing food is for preservation. Wax is also used for jellies and cheese.

Using Wax to Preserve Fresh Produce

The wax that commercial producers use may contain fungicides, bactericides, growth regulators, anti-sprouting agents, or other preservatives so that the food stays good as long as possible. The wax itself helps hold in moisture and slows oxygen penetration that causes ripening.

Another reason that wax is used on produce is to reduce the use of disposable, non-biodegradable packaging such as sleeves and plastic wrap.

Though waxing fruits and vegetables slows down the ripening process, it doesn’t extend it for long enough to be considered a viable long-term preservation method. There are better ways to preserve your produce long-term.

Using Wax to Preserve Jams and Jellies

For many years, paraffin wax was also used to seal the top of jams and jellies. This was meant to be more of a temporary preservation method of a food that didn’t spoil quickly anyway.

Consider it the precursor to Tupperware – it just formed a physical seal that prevented mold from growing for a couple of months until it was eaten.

The technique for this was fairly simple. You sterilized your jars and lids, and made your jellies just like you do now.

Instead of adding the lid and water-bathing it, though, you would have poured a quarter-inch or so of melted paraffin wax over the hot jelly, then stirred it just a bit to completely cover the top.

The wax is lighter so it stays on top, and as the wax and jelly cools, the wax forms a seal. Then you add your lid.

Since the advent of canning, waxing jelly has pretty much gone by the wayside because canning preserves your spreads for years instead of months.

The acid and sugar in preserves are pretty decent preservatives, anyway – the wax just extended that by keeping water from settling in dips and wells on the surface. That’s what promotes mold growth.

Using Wax to Preserve Cheese

Now, another food that’s still preserved with wax is cheese. You’ve likely bought those little individual bites of cheese that are covered in red wax. You just peel the strip back and the wax opens up like a lid, revealing the cheese inside.

If SHTF, cheese will be a luxury item, so learning to make it and preserve it now is the way to go. Even if you just buy cheese from the store and wax it, it’ll keep in a cool dry place nearly indefinitely.

We all know that everything’s better with cheese on it, and if you have a stockpile of it, you’re going to have a delicious way to keep food interesting. You’ll also have a valuable trade item.

Now, you should know from the outset that the government warns against eating any type of dairy product that hasn’t been refrigerated because of the risk of botulism.

They actually spend millions of dollars a year fighting the bacteria that afflicts 160 or so people a year. Don’t get me wrong – botulism is nasty business. It’s just that I couldn’t find a single case of real cheese-induced botulism.

Wax is great for preserving cheese because it keeps the moisture in and the bacteria and molds out that cause spoilage.

I like the thought of waxing for a couple of reasons – it allows the cheese to age and develop flavor, and it preserves one of my favorite foods in a manner that doesn’t require refrigeration.

What Cheese Can I Wax?

Great question. Because of the high moisture content, soft cheeses aren’t good candidates for waxing. Harder cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, parmesan, Colby and Gruyere are all good for waxing. If you start checking deeper into the USDA thing, many extensions say that it’s OK to store hard cheeses without refrigeration.

Choose cheeses that have a 40 percent or less moisture content. After all, moisture is a breeding ground for bacteria, and you don’t want your cheese to spoil inside the wax.

Remember that your cheese will continue to age after you age it. I think that’s a good thing, because I like those sharp flavors.

Video first seen on Linda’s Pantry

What Kind of Wax to Use?

Before you pull out your chunk of paraffin, you need to know that you can’t use it for cheese. It’s not pliable enough and it doesn’t get hot enough to kill bacteria. You need to buy cheese wax specifically. This is easy to find online by running an internet search for cheese wax or cheese making supplies.

Word of caution: wax explodes at high temperatures, so once you heat it to 180 degrees F (the temperature that kills bacteria), turn the heat off. It’s a good idea to use a double broiler, too.

Another benefit of using cheese wax is that you can strain it through cheesecloth to get the cheese off of it and re-use it. Finally, it dries faster than paraffin, which cuts down on your processing time and gives bacteria less time to reach the cheese.

Oh, and don’t forget about gravity – your cheese is likely going to be sitting on a rack so that moisture can’t pool under it, so it’s going to sink a bit. Cheese wax will shift with it, but paraffin won’t.

What do I Need to Wax Cheese?

In order to wax your cheese, you’re going to need three things, at minimum: cheese wax, a cheese wax brush, and a can to melt the wax in. A metal coffee can is great because you can just put the lid on when you’re done and store the wax right in it until you want to wax your next batch of cheese.

Waxing Cheese

The reason that you need a special cheese brush is that regular nylon brushes will melt when you dip it into the wax. That’s never a good thing. So, buy a good brush.

Methods to Wax Cheese

Ahh. Now the rubber’s going to hit the road. There are two different methods that you can use to wax your cheese. You can dip it or you can paint it on. Either way, remember that two thin layers is better than one thick layer, so plan on going over your cheese twice, regardless.

1. Dipping

Dipping your cheese in the wax is a much prettier way to wax your cheese but it has one major downfall: you can only dip cheese chunks as big as your container, and as deep as your wax.

Still, if you’re waxing store-bought cheese in the small bricks, dipping will work just fine. So, let’s get started.

Before you wax your cheese, it’s best to let it rest at cool room temperature for a few days and get a bit of a harder rind on the outside. That also helps it dry out a bit more.

Now that you’re ready to dip, heat your wax up in your can or container until it’s 180 degrees and remove from heat. Have parchment paper ready to put your cheese on after you dip it.

Now, using tongs  or your fingers (use tongs!), dip your cheese in the wax as far up as the tongs or your fingers, then pull it out and let it drip for 10 seconds or so until the wax dries.

Place it on the parchment paper and move on to your next piece. Pick it up by the part that’s already been waxed, and dip the uncoated part, holding it up for 10 seconds or so just like you did the first side.

Repeat this process so that the cheese has two coats. Make sure that you get all of the little air bubbles or pin holes covered so that the cheese is completely covered.

2. Painting on Wax

The next method is exactly what it says – you paint the wax onto the cheese. Heat the wax the same way as above and lay your cheese out.

The main benefit of painting wax is that you can cover any size piece of cheese that you want. After you’ve coated the first side with the first layer of wax, flip it over and do the other side. Add two coats.

Now your cheese is ready to store, and you no longer have to worry about facing the end of civilization as we know it without cheese.

There are so many things you can learn from our ancestors about preserving your food for survival. Click the banner below and discover how to keep your loved ones well fed when SHTF!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Why Vertical Gardening Is The Way To Go For Survival

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Vertical Garden Survival

One of the biggest problems for many of us when it comes to gardening is space. Not everybody has a few acres to spare to grow a full, standard garden.

Another problem for many people is physical limitations. A regular garden requires a lot of labor that some people just can’t handle.

Many of us also worry that people will find our food source if SHTF.

An open garden planted on flat earth is painfully obvious to just about anybody passing by, but if you can build a vertical garden that is out of sight or even portable so that you can move it out of sight if you need to.

Vertical gardening solves many problems.

4 Benefits of Vertical Gardening

We just touched on a few of the benefits of vertical gardening but let’s get into it a bit further, because this is seriously great way for just about anybody to grow food.

Demands Much Less Physical Labor

When you’re growing a garden, you already know that it’s going to be a ton of work. You’re going to need to till the space, then plant the seeds or plants. You have to weed the gardens so that your plants thrive, and you have to keep the soil loose around them. Then, of course, you have to harvest your crops.

Nearly all of this requires a lot of bending, kneeling, and twisting. That’s great if you’re 25, fully healthy, and WANT to do that much work.

However for many of you, that level of physical labor is difficult or even impossible. Growing a vertical garden eliminates all of these issues.

It’s Easier to Hide

Another benefit is that, even if somebody happens to glance at your back yard, they’re not necessarily going to pay attention to something growing on a wall, especially if you’ve planted flowers among your vegetables.

Looters won’t be prone to look too hard because they’re in a hurry looking for an easy mark.

Vertical gardens are a bit easier to camouflage than an acre-wide garden. Also, you can make your garden so that it faces the back of your house, which would make it virtually impossible to see.

Finally, you can always make your vertical gardens portable so that you can move them out of the line of sight of looters.

Covers Plain Walls with Beautiful Plants

There’s nothing particularly pretty about a blank wall, so cover it up with a beautiful, and possibly edible, wall of plants! Don’t want to look at that privacy fence between you and your neighbors? Cover them in plants.

There’s just something cozy about a backyard with vine-and-flower covered fences and walls. It gives the whole place a homey feeling.

Easier Quality Control

When your plants are growing in pots or planters that you’re managing, you know exactly what’s in the dirt and you’ve possibly made your own fertilizer so chemicals aren’t an issue.

There’s no need to worry about the quality of the nutrients in your dirt; you put them there. You also control the amount of moisture and can feel when the plant needs more or less because all you need to do is stick your fingers into the dirt.

Plants that are off the ground are easier to inspect for insects and fungi that can wipe out all of your plants before you get to taste even one morsel of them.

You can also nip the sucker leaves off and provide all the care that your plants need from a much more comfortable position. When you’re comfortable, you can take your time and care for your plants properly.

Different Types of Vertical Gardens

A vertical garden is exactly what it sounds like – a garden planted vertically instead of on the ground. There are many different ways that you can do this depending upon your space, what you want to grow, and how you want to do it. Your garden, your decision!

Aquaponics System

Aquaponics is the art of growing plants and fish together. The plants provide the fish with nutrients that they need and the fish byproducts provide nutrient-rich fertilizer for the plants.

The system can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to build it. You can use dirt or start an aquaponics system. As a matter of fact, you can build an aquaponics system that’s very nearly a vertical garden itself, and it gives you fish AND plants.

Latticework with Baskets or Boxes

Another way to build a vertical garden is to use hanging baskets and latticework. This type of garden is good for plants that don’t grow out or get too tall.

Plants such as peppers, strawberries, onions, garlic, lettuce, and spinach are great for  the baskets. To help your space do double duty, use the lattice work to grow vining plants such beans or tomatoes.

An alternative to baskets is to hang planters from the latticework. This will allow you to grow plants that vine out a bit or need more room to grow, such as potatoes, carrots, or squash.

You can stagger the boxes as needed to accommodate the space requirements of the plant. Again, you can grow vining or heavy plants on or at the base of, the latticework.

Gardening Walls

If you have an empty wall – it could be the side of your house, an outbuilding, or a garden wall – then you have a place to put a vertical garden. Plus, you’ll be covering up a plain wall with beautiful plants.

Be sure when you use a wall that you allow space for the extra moisture so that you don’t damage your wall.

You can use just about any construction material that you want. Chicken wire, lattice work, and trellises are all good choices.

You can also use gardening bags, which are made from a variety materials including burlap and canvas. One of the good things about using bags is that the extra moisture drains right out the bottom. You can use this system to water the plants below if you’d like.

Gutter System

I saw this in a magazine and fully plan on making it my next project. The problem is that I don’t have access to old gutters. It’s a simple yet brilliant design.

Just drill drainage holes in the bottom of old gutters and hang them on a wall of some sort. The holes will keep the moisture content at a good level and will even allow for trickle-down watering.

Vertical Towers or Walls

I love these systems. I’m currently using one right now and even though I’ve just started, I absolutely love it. It’s easy to use and has an aquaponics watering system that makes my life much easier while keeping my plants happy, too.

Usually I build my own stuff, but this one looked too good to pass up, so I bought it. It’s a tower farm wall and the short video above was made while unboxing the package.

Possibly the best thing about  the wall is that it’s easy to put together regardless of your skill level, and it’s easy to take care of.

The trays are set at heights that are easy to reach regardless of how tall you are and if you were to anchor it, it would be free-standing with very little modification. Low maintenance is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Towers are always a fun way to go. For instance, you can cut out holes from a length of PVC, fill the pipe with dirt, then plant strawberries or other similar plants in the holes. You can also make a tower using round planters.

Use a large one on the bottom, then use two mediums – 1 turned upside down inside the big one for support, and the other one upright to hold dirt. Repeat this step with 2 smaller pots. Fill with dirt and you have a 3-tier plant tower. You can add to the levels if you like.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Though making your own vertical gardening structures is awesome, it’s not always practical. If not, then consider the Tower Farm Wall that I discussed above. I really am having a good time with it and the customer support is great.

Start growing your own food right now and you will not have to worry if SHTF. Click the banner below to discover how to provide as much food as your family needs in a crisis, with only 10 minutes a day.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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Prep Blog Review: Gardening & Farming Winter Tips

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Winter Gardening

For many people, gardening and farming are two activities related to spring and summer, but not for preppers.  Even though the outdoor gardening and farming season is ending, you can continue growing your own food during winter.

Is important to keep your plants safe and your flock warm during the cold season and don’t forget to start preparing for the moment when you’ll start working again in your lovely outdoor garden.

Until then, let’s see how to keep growing your own fresh vegetables and herbs, how to keep your chicken warm and happy and how to prepare your spring crops, because I’ve gathered 4 articles on this topic for this week’s Prep Blog Review.

  1. 6 Fasting-Growing Indoor Vegetables You Can Harvest Within 2 Months

Winter Plants

“The outdoor growing season is ending for much of North American, but don’t despair — you can continue to grow food to eat. With the help of grow lights, you can provide fresh vegetables to be harvested during the cold months of winter.

And if you get started soon, you can be eating your vegetables in January. All of these vegetables can be grown in two months or less.

Microgreens are a delicious choice for an indoor garden. The leaves are harvested when young and tender, which makes a wonderful addition to salads and winter dishes. They can grow as quickly as two to three weeks. When the plants develop at least one set of true leaves, they can be harvested. You only harvest the part above the soil. The leaves are not only tasty but also are rich in important nutrients.”

Read more on Off The Grid News.

  1. Winter Chicken Care Tips – How To Keep Your Coop & Flock Safe & Warm

Chicken coop

“Keeping your flock safe from the elements of winter’s fury is a prime concern for most backyard chicken enthusiasts. But with just a few simple tips, it’s actually quite simple to keep your chickens happy and safe through the cold winter months.

Chickens are bothered more by dampness and cold drafts than the actual freezing temperatures of winter. If you concentrate winterizing efforts to eliminating those two concerns, your chickens will stay comfy and happy all winter long! Here are a few of our best tips on winter chicken care.”

Read more on Old World Garden Farms.

  1. Straw Bale Gardening: Smart Reasons To Grow More Food In Less Space With Little Effort

Straw Bale Gardening

“Limited space? No soil? Toxic or rocky ground? Spare corner? Edge of drive or yard? Here’s bales of advice for you on the straw bale gardening way.

TIP: Kids just LOVE to climb on these irresistible messy playthings, so if it’s feasible, get an extra 1 or 3 bales and put them out of the garden just for fun.

Straw or hay bale gardening is not to be confused with using loose straw in your garden for mulch or compost. What we’re talking about here is the whole bale, as it stands, tied with twine and used for planting plants on the top.”

Read more on No Dig Vegetable Garden.

  1. 24 Ways To Prepare For Your Spring Garden In The Dead Of Winter

Spring Garden

“It can be hard to think about gardening when it’s below freezing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Cold weather is the perfect time for planning!

If you are thinking (like I might have perhaps thought in the past) that you can just grab a few packs of seeds from the local hardware store or super store in April or so, put them in the ground, and you’ll see something come up in a few months, well, you’re mostly wrong.

You definitely can grow food during the cooler months! It’s not rocket science, but it does require some thought and planning.”

Read more on The Survival Mom.

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This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.

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4 Easy Solutions For Lighting Your Indoor Plants

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Lighting Your Indoor Plants

Whether you’re trying to start your seeds so that you have healthy seedlings or young plants to set out when the weather warms or you’re growing all of your plants inside, lighting is an integral part of growing.

Finding the best indoor lighting options for your plants can be a challenge, though.

It would be ideal if you could place all of your plants by windows so that they can get their natural source of light: sunshine. However, that’s not always possible, especially if you’re growing a lot of plants and you want to keep them under the radar.

There are plenty of great options and, thanks to technology, they won’t all cost a fortune. We’ll discuss that as we go.

Choosing the Type of Light

Before we start discussing bulbs, you need to understand a bit about growing plants and what type of light they need. Many newcomers to the scene think that, like owning a guinea pig or a snake, the light is used to keep the plant warm, but that’s not the case.

light

Plants require light to grow and flower, but not all light is equal. For that matter, not all light is necessary and the types of light that plants need are actually dim to human eyes.

The sun offers a full spectrum of light colors that range from blue to red. It’s actually those two colors that plants need the most. Blue light enables the plant to grow bushy and full. Red light causes the plant to produce a hormone that makes it flower. As you’ve probably already figured, you want both for your edibles.

The colors in between, particularly green, are completely unnecessary; green light is purely for aesthetic purposes. It just makes your plants appear green and glossy because the plant reflects it back. That may be useful information if you want your plants to look pretty as they grow.

Another factor that you need to consider is heat. Unless you’re growing your plants in a cold room, standard room temperatures are more than enough heat to grow most plants. You really don’t need heat from your bulbs. Too much heat will burn your plants and many high-heat bulbs burn out fairly quickly, too.

You’ll see watts, which is how much energy the bulb produces, and you’ll also see Kelvins. Kelvins are the basic unit of color temperature that’s used to measure that whiteness of a bulb’s output. In other words, it’s the best description of the visual warmth or coolness of the bulb.

The higher the degree of Kelvin, the bluer the light. The lower the Kelvin, the warmer, or redder, the light looks. Shoot for 4000-6000 Kelvin because that level of light borrows from all parts of the spectrum including the blues and reds that you need for growth and flowering.

Some plants, such as peppers and lettuce, may not need as much red light because they don’t flower quite as much.

Now that you understand the basics of what you need to make your plants grow, let’s talk about the different types of light and whether they’re best for your needs.

1. Incandescent Lights

These are the types of bulbs you probably already have in your fixtures. They’re pretty much standard bulbs. Incandescent bulbs put off a ton of heat and don’t really produce the type of light that your plants need to grow.

Only about 10 percent of the energy that they produce goes toward light; the rest is heat. They’re OK for growing low-light plants such as vines, but they’re not much good for growing anything seriously.

2. Fluorescent Lights

These lights put off mostly blue light, which means that you’ll have bushy plants. These are OK for growing plants that you don’t need to flower such as lettuce or cabbage. They’re also good for starting your plants inside. Fluorescents come in different lengths and are shaped like tubes.

One of the biggest downsides here is that you have to hang them is special ballasts. Regular fluorescents are great for at least starting your seeds, and they’re good for plants that don’t need so much of the red light such as herbs.

If you opt to go with fluorescent lights, you should know that the narrower the bulb, the more efficient the light is. They also use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lights.

Now there’s a new fluorescent system out called the T5 system. They put out double the amount of light per tube as regular fluorescent tubes and they’re full-spectrum. That means that instead of just having the blue light like regular fluorescent lights have.

If you’re using a T5 system adjust the proximity of the light to the plant as it grows. Since the bulb isn’t insanely hot, you don’t have to worry about burning the plant.

Video first seen on katie phibbs.

3. High Intensity Discharge Solutions

These are great options for growing your plants but they’re expensive. High-intensity discharge lights are extremely efficient and produce a lot of light. There are a couple of types that emit different spectrums of light.

The Metal Halide, of MH, light emits the blue light that will encourage the leafiness, and the High Pressure Sodium, or HPS, lights produce the reds that you need to make it flower.

You could use the MH light to get it started and full, then swap it out for the HPS to get it to flower, or you could use them in tandem. These bulbs are expensive but one 1000-watt lamp can produce the same amount of light as fifty 40-watt fluorescent bulbs. They come in different sizes.

Just to give you an idea, one 400-watt bulb can produce enough light to cover a 15sf growing area, or a 4’x4’ garden. The 1000-watt bulb covers about a 7’x7’ area. Figure that each 25 watts covers 1 square foot of garden.

4. LED Lights

We’ve been using them for Christmas lights for years but LEDs are relatively new to the agriculture scene. They produce practically no heat and don’t use hardly any power, either. Remember how we discussed the Kelvin measurements? Well LEDs can be programmed to 5700K to mimic the light spectrum of the sun.

Right now, LED grow lights are expensive but they’ll likely become cheaper as they develop the technology and the method becomes more popular.

Figuring Costs

Remember that you’re going to be in this for the long run. If you’re only growing a few plants, it’s probably fine to go with a cheaper bulb or system but if you’re going to grow a significant amount of plants and plan to do it for the foreseeable future, you’ll probably be better off to invest a bit of money in the beginning and let it pay off in the long run.

To figure the cost of your system, add up the combined wattage of all of your lights and divide that by 1000. That will give you the kilowatts used. Multiply that by how much your power company charges you per kilowatt hour. Multiply that by the number of hours the lights will be on per month and you have your monthly energy cost that you can compare to the original cost of the system.

If you’re fortunate enough to live completely off the grid and you are powering your house by solar or some other sustainable method, then you can go with the best system for your situation that’s within your price range. If you notice, though, the more expensive systems use relatively little energy.

Every survival plan must have food at its core. Click the banner below and discover how you can grow your own food with just 10 minutes a day!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Meet The Challenges Of Urban Farming

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Urban farming

Urban gardening and, to a smaller extent urban farming, started as a way for people who live in urban environments to grow healthy food untainted by chemicals. For some, it was a way to grow food that was healthy; for others, it was a way to be able to afford to eat good food. People wanted to grow their own food even though they lived in a city.

Regardless of why or how it started, urban gardening has grown to epic proportions and is now a movement committed to producing healthy, sustainable, locally-sourced food.

Urban farming is coming along, but it’s harder to keep animals in many urban areas.

It’s not easy to grow food in a city, so people got creative. They went from growing a couple of plants in a pot or a window box to having a full garden in the middle of the city.

There are several different methods of urban farming that range from a few plants and maybe a couple of chickens grown by one family to entire city lots grown and managed by co-ops of people with the same end goal.

  • Indoor Gardening is great for somebody who has no porch, patio, yard, or roof where they can grow food. All plants are grown inside in containers or even small, indoor greenhouses. Some people are even lucky enough to have a solarium.
  • Container Gardening works well for people who have small yards, porches, patios, decks, or balconies where they can grow food in containers. Window boxes, small raised beds, barrels, pots, and even kiddie pools serve as containers that plants can grow in.
  • Community Gardening is becoming a big deal in a lot of areas. Neighbors or community members are coming together and planting edible plants in community places such as parks or other outdoor public areas. Some communities are now actually encouraging people to grow gardens on empty, abandoned lots because it makes the neighborhood look better and raises property values.
  • Guerilla Gardening is actually one of the most interesting urban gardening methods that I’ve heard about. People subversively grow plants in public places or spaces that don’t belong to them such as vacant lots, road medians, or even strips of dirt beside sidewalks.
  • Green roofs are a relatively new development, at least on a wide-scale basis. Roofs are designed specifically with a growing medium so that plants and trees can be grown to eat, clean the air, or make the area beautiful.

There’s no doubt that urban gardening is a good thing. It brings people together and adds green space to concrete while providing locally sourced food and plants that help clean the air.

Urban gardens can also help mitigate soil erosion and the urban heat island effect. Finally, it teaches inner city kids the value of growing things and even provides green recreational and leisure space.

The problem is that some people don’t see the benefit of it. That wouldn’t be so bad if those people weren’t complaining neighbors and members of local governments who want to put a stop to it. This was a huge issue when urban gardening was just something “troublemaking hippies” were doing.

Thankfully, it’s now becoming the vogue thing to do – thanks in large part to popular restaurants and TV shows that promote locally-sourced foods and environmental sustainability.

Because of the growing popularity and the improvements in property values due to turning a vacant lot into a garden, local governments are coming around.

However, for many of us, the struggle is still real because the problem still exists: you have no space to grow the garden that you dream of so that your family can eat healthfully and maybe even grow some of your own stockpile.

You have plenty of options, though. You can grow a small garden indoors, or if you have a small yard you can do some raised beds. You can even grow a portable garden!

Indoor gardening

Talk to the Local Farmers

But say you want to do more than grow a few plants in your house or yard – what then? How do you get involved in the bigger scene?

Well, if you have a local farmers market, then that would be a great place to start. Go down and talk to some of them.

You’ll be surprised how friendly most farmers are, and how willing they are to share information. Though cities can be huge, the farming community is probably relatively close-knit, so if you can’t find anybody who is directly involved in the local urban gardening projects, somebody can almost surely point you in the right direction.

Start Your Own Urban Farming Movement

Have you and the neighbors been talking about how nice it would be to start growing your own food? If so, you may have found some resources that you didn’t realize that you had. Hold a neighborhood meeting and see what others are willing to do.

It could be that the big empty lot between you and your neighbor is actually owned by that guy so that he didn’t have somebody move in right next to him. If so, they may be open to making it useful, and you will have a place to start your garden. Organize it!

Most municipalities don’t care as much about urban gardening as they do about urban farming. Pepper plants and apple trees don’t seem to cause as many problems as goats and chickens do.

While laws often support (or at least don’t forbid) urban gardening, most cities do not support the presence of animals within the city limits. That’s a fight you can pick, if you want, at the local level.

Personally, it may be better to talk to your neighbors to see how they feel about seeing or hearing chickens in your back yard. If you can work with them from the beginning, you may not have as many problems as you would have if you had bought some critters without speaking with them first. Even if they say no, at least you know they’re going to complain.

You can also talk to some of the local co-ops about keeping animals on a farm outside the city or participating in a meat-share or produce-share with them. You have so many options; you just need to find them.

Start growing your own food even though you live in the city. With just 10 minutes a day, you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again. Click the banner below to discover a great option to start your urban farming!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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How To Plan Farmer’s Calendar All Year Round

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Farmer's Calendar

A farmer’s work is never done. You’d think that in the winter when there are no crops to tend or hay to mow, there may be some time to take a break, and that’s somewhat true, but not really.

Winter is actually one of the busiest times of year; in addition to taking care of the animals, clearing snow, and keeping things running, you need to plan and prep for the next year.

Winter appears to be a time of sleep and relaxing by the fire, but for a homesteader, there is no such thing. If you have cows to milk and chickens to feed, then you still have to take care of that. Then there are all of the other tasks that you have to do: clearing the roof, bringing in firewood, making impromptu repairs.

Winter is a great time of the year to make a plan for what you need to do in the spring, summer, and fall to make your homestead successful.

We’ve put together a calendar of things to do in the winter to help make your homestead successful all year round.

Check your Stockpile

Winter is a great time to check your stockpile for several reasons, but the primary reason that we’re adding it to the calendar is so that you can decide what to plant in the spring.

If you’re running out of green beans but still have a ton of corn, you can adjust your crops accordingly. Plant more beans and less corn. The same thing goes for canned meals and condiments. If you’ve just about eaten all of your beef stew and salsa but still have a ton of chicken soup left, adjust accordingly.

You can also determine whether you’re best using your crops. Say you had a bumper crop of apples and made pie filling, applesauce, apple cider vinegar, and apple butter. Now you’re out of pie filling but still have 32 quarts of applesauce. It seems like you may want to adjust how you use your apples next year.

Make a chart and record your findings so that you can compare to last year and make your adjustments. You don’t want to use your entire stockpile.

It’s good to have enough for a couple of years, but you don’t want to can 6 months’ worth of apple butter and 5 years’ worth of okra, especially two years in a row.

Concentrate on Your Herbs/Winter Crops

I don’t know about you but I love herbs. They’re great for adding flavor, and for using medicinally. Since they’re easy to grow inside, you can grow them year round. Since you’re likely slam busy all summer and fall, wait until winter to harvest and store your herbs. This is a good time to make your essential oils and medicinal blends, too.

If you live in a moderate climate, you may be able to grow some winter crops such as garlic, kale, carrots and potatoes during the winter. They’re easy to grow and won’t take up hardly any time. Search the internet for crops that will grow in the winter according to your zone.

There are also early spring edibles that you can start growing and have ready to eat while you’re waiting on those peppers and tomatoes to grow.

Winter crops

Start Your Seeds

If you live in a zone where you have short summers and you want to grow crops that have a long growing period, start them inside as early as February. That way, you’ll have healthy seedlings or young plants to transplant when the weather warms up. Your garden will have a great start before the snow is even off the ground!

Make a To-Do List for the Coming Months

Plan your summer. Sit down and make charts of what you’re going to plant, how much of it you’re going to plant, and where you’re going to plant it. Keep in mind soil types and compatible plants when you’re making your chart.

Think about your animals. Do you want to breed? Do you need more eggs? Did you put back enough meat this year? Are your chickens cramped and need a new coup? How about the barn – does it need repairs? Is the tractor running rough? Do you need any new equipment? Make a list by month of all these projects that you need to address.

Plan Your Expenses

Now that you’ve sat down and planned your crops and equipment repairs and made a list of other things that you do, then plan how much you’re going to need to spend versus when you’ll need it and when you’ll have the money to do it. Try to project any equipment replacements or repairs that you’ll need, too. Remember to allow for any unexpected expenses.

You don’t have to stop with just the next year. Do a five-year plan, then adjust as needed. Keep adding a year every winter. This will really help keep you on track as long as you actually refer back to the list and follow it as much as possible.

Make Syrup

If you live in an area where you have birch or maple trees, late winter is when you can gather the sap from the trees and make your syrup for the year. Just FYI, it’s a bit of work to make, but it’s free and you can sell it for a great profit. That’s assuming your family doesn’t make you keep it!

Do all of the in-house repairs. Think about those creaky stairs, unpainted rooms, loose carpets and wobbly stools that you’ve been meaning to fix all summer. Now’s a great time to get all of that stuff done so that you can check it off the list.

Video first seen on TacticalIntelligence.

Help Your Animals Adapt

Winter affects different animals in different ways. Chickens will likely slow down production when the weather changes. You can head this off a bit by making sure that they’re snug and warm, but make sure that the coop stays well-ventilated. Keeping your hens happy will make your breakfast a happy event, too.

Cows and horses, on the other hand, may need to be fed more so that they have enough energy to stay warm and (in the case of cows) keep producing quality milk. If you’re new to homesteading study up on your animals before winter so that you’ll know what to do to keep your animals safe and healthy.

Winter is definitely a bit slower than the rest of the year, but there are plenty of things that you can do to maintain and improve your farm. Relaxing a bit isn’t a bad thing, either – you work your buns off the rest of the year, so give your brain and your body a break.

Have Some Family Time

Farms are a ton of work and though we all squeeze in “together” time while we work, cleaning out the chicken coop together just isn’t the same as picking up a Redbox or heading out for pizza and an evening of fun. There’s so much work to be done in the other months that it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to have some fun. Now’s your chance!

Educate Yourself

Winter is a great time to use your mind instead of your back. Farming, homesteading, sustainability, and prepping are ever-changing beasts, so take the downtime to catch up on the latest news and ideas that are available all over the net.

Feel free to go old-school and buy some books and magazines to get some new ideas about how to move your farm forward. Think about planting guides, new equipment, new prepping ideas, or ways to help keep your animals healthy naturally.

Another good subject to study up on is the plants that you’re growing. If you don’t know all about each plant that you grow, take this time to learn. Not all plants like the same types of soil. Some like rich, loamy soil, some like sandy soil. Some grow great next to each other and others, such as tomatoes and potatoes, shouldn’t be grown together.

Just knowing these small facts will increase your yield and even improve the quality and flavor of your crops.

If you have anything else to add to the winter calendar to-do list, please share it with us in the comments section below.

We can all learn from each other, but never forget the ways our forefathers made their own food, harvested their own plants and made their own medicines to survive during gloomy times.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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The Top 7 Survival Gardening Secrets

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If your eyes are open right now, you know Western Civilization is in trouble. Now is the time to start survival gardening.

Today we share 7 survival gardening secrets that will get you off on the right foot.

1. Grow Near, Not Far

This is one of those “secrets” I can’t repeat enough. Don’t put your garden beds at the edge of your yard. Put them where you’ll see them. This will keep pest problems from becoming plagues. If your chickens are digging up the corn, you’ll see it… instead of finding bare ground and chicken tracks a week later. You may think you’ll be out there in the garden every day, but “out of sight, out of mind” holds truer than most of us would like to admit.

2. Healthy Soil is Key

Make sure the ground you’re trying to garden upon is suited to it. A reader recently sent me pictures of the land she is hoping to plant as a food forest. I took one look and shook my head.

The ecosystem was obviously Pine Flatwoods: acid sugar sand, poor mineralization, a clay layer, intermittent flooding and droughty conditions.

survival gardening

This is tough land for survival gardening.

When even the weeds look sick, you may need to hunt for a better spot. Though it’s possible to grow a food forest there – barely – a better use for the ground would be for growing timber and blueberries, not survival gardening or food forests.

If that was the only land I could get, I would turn to livestock such as goats, chickens and cattle for my calories, rather than plants.

If you are stuck with poor conditions all over your yard and need to garden, I recommend deep mulching the worst areas if you have the material – and if you don’t, then double dig or broadfork the soil, then feed it well with a wide range of nutrients. Planting nutrient-accumulating chop and drop species for mulch and compost is another good idea.

3. You don’t Need Lots of Compost

Having tons of organic matter is great but most of us don’t have that luxury. It’s hard to make enough compost (though I greatly expand the possibilities in my book Compost Everything) so you need to get creative. My favorite method is to make an anaerobic compost tea with a wide range of inputs. Manure, urine, seaweed, saltwater, fish guts, kitchen scraps, Epsom salts, weeds, grass and leaves – if it has some decent nutrition in it, I will pile it in a barrel, top off with fresh water and let it rot for weeks, then use it as a diluted fertilizer for my crops. Like this:

It (literally) stinks but can save your life in a survival gardening situation.

4. No Irrigation? No Problem

If you get a decent amount of rainfall during the growing season, you may not have to run irrigation to your gardens. Instead of planting intensively in tight spacing, clear more ground and increase the space between plants and rows. I grew a corn patch this way as an experiment one year and had fine luck.

survival gardening

Since then I’ve done the same with cassava, pigeon peas and winter squash.

Wide spacing and clear ground will keep your plants hydrated as root competition will be reduced and they can find the moisture in the soil with less difficulty. Steve Solomon’s book Gardening Without Irrigation is available online for free – download and read it for good in-depth info.

You can’t do this in all climates but you might be surprised how many farmers pull off irrigation-free gardening and where they are able to do so.

Want To Know Where To Find Hidden Water Sources For Irrigation?

Discover where neighborhoods hide 1,000 of gallons of emergency water

5. Urine is an Excellent fertilizer

This ties in with the anaerobic compost tea idea but it’s quicker. Urine contains a range of minerals and lots of much-needed nitrogen. In many countries it’s been used instead of chemical fertilizers and I think it makes more sense. I’ve seen rich, green gardens and trees fed on nothing but urine. It works.

Dilute urine with water so it doesn’t burn the plants with nitrogen and salt – I find six parts water to one part urine works well. I’m feeding some weak pumpkin vines this way right now and they’re really starting to perk up.

6. Calories First!

survival gardening

I grow African yams as a staple.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but we gardeners aren’t always the most practical people on the planet. We like the challenge of growing interesting things and we also love our culinary treats. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, hops. These are all great – yet if you’re survival gardening, you’re not hobby gardening.

You need to find the best staple crops for your area and concentrate on those primarily.

As I’ve written before, plant calorie crops first – then plant some patches of nutrition crops next.

Keeping yourself from starving is more important than the potential nutritional deficiencies you might face later.

I would argue that in most case you could probably meet many of your nutritional needs through wild plant foraging for greens, nuts, berries and game.

Finding caloric staples is harder.

Plant roots, winter squash, beans and grain corn first in most climates. Also – Jerusalem artichokes and white potatoes are good in the north, cassava, sweet potatoes and African yams in the Deep South. Dent corn is your grain corn for the South – flint corn for the north.

This ties in to my next tip:

7. Snag Seeds Locally

survival gardening

I found this beautiful pumpkin at a roadside stand. Now I own the seeds and can grow my own.

Buying seeds through the mail from a seed company growing crops in a different climate isn’t the best way to prepare for a crash.

If the plants were cultivated for seed in Southern California but you live in New Hampshire, the varieties may not be well adapted to your growing conditions. This is why I seek out local varieties of vegetables at farmer’s markets, farmer’s stands and local gardeners.

See a stack of pumpkins on a stand by the road?

Ask the farmer if he grew them locally. If he did, buy one and save the seeds. Ask around for bean varieties that do well in your area. Pick up local grain corn from the farmer’s market if it’s being sold for decorations in the fall.

Keep your eyes open.

You want those seeds which will make plants that can handle your levels of sunshine, pests, humidity, rainfall and everything else. Local is good – start hunting!

I buy pumpkins all the time and save their seeds. In this video you can see how I do it:

I have been known to screech to a stop by a roadside farm stand because I spotted a variety not currently growing on my farm.

Conclusion

The survival gardening secrets I shared today will put you in good stead in a crisis but they’re just part of the story. You can grow your own food in a crisis but it’s very important to start right now.

I highly recommend you pick up my Survival Gardening Secrets program and learn. Get growing – and may God be with you.

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Top 5 Versatile Foods To Survive Nowadays

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When you’re living small and running out of space in your home, anything you buy raises the same big question: where am I going to store it?

A lot of people live in small spaces, and still buy a lot of everything, even if most of it finally goes to waste. Let’s be smart and buy what you really need and use, in or outside the kitchen. Think about how to use in multiple ways everything you buy, including food.

In other words, choose versatile food as much as you opt for multipurpose items when building your reserves. In the end, its about money, but also about space and resources.

Here’s what I chose!

Flour

First, there are a lot of grains that you can use to make flour at home: wheat, barley, rye, spelt, corn, oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pecans, macadamias, and walnuts), seeds (such as sunflowers, hemp, pumpkin, amaranth and flax), potatoes, arrowroot, tapioca, coconut, soybean and others.

You have undoubtedly heard of cornmeal and possibly even almond meal, but what’s the difference between a meal and flour? Meals are ground more coarsely. To make meal, just don’t grind your product as long. When it starts to get a crumbly texture, you’re done. Compare it mentally to cornmeal.

Meals are great for several different uses because they add a heartier flavor and more texture to your goods. They’re bad, though, if you’re shooting for something nice and light to make a cake with.

Then you have pasta, and all those tasty dishes based on them: lasagna, spaghetti, macaroni and cheese or simple yet delicious rustic dishes made only from the ingredients in your garden. You won’t need many ingredients: flour, eggs (optionally) and salt. Some people like to add oil, but it’s not essential to making basic pasta.

All-purpose flour is just fine for a basic pasta mix. If you want to add texture and a bit of hardiness to your pasta, you can add some semolina flour to the mix. If you want silkier pasta for a more refined noodle, add some cake flour, or 00 flour.

Milk

cheese bucketMilk is packed with calcium and protein and is also a necessary ingredient in many recipes.

It’s something that you’ll want to have on hand in a survival situation.

Milk doesn’t keep long, but there are different ways to preserve it for later use. Read this Survivopedia article to find out more about how to preserve milk.

Also, there are about a million different cheese recipes out there that you can make depending upon your personal preferences and the type of milk (goat or cow) that you’re using.

Cheese is a lot easier to make than you’d think and you can keep it forever without refrigeration.

Coat the cheese in wax to preserve it. You’ll need a special cheese wax because paraffin wax will crack as it dries. Waxed cheese will last up to 25 years but remember that it will age and become sharper so if you plan to store it for an extended period of time, start with a mild cheese.

Another idea is to make butter or buttermilk. Or if you’d like, you can also make yogurt (here are a few recipes you might use for making yogurt), sour cream or cottage cheese but storage methods for those are just simple refrigeration. It will extend the life of the milk for a couple of weeks, though. And I’ve also heard rumors of canning buttermilk.

Salt

Let’s talk multipurpose! The main purpose of salt for most people is to add a bit more taste to their food. However, salt can be so much more useful in the kitchen and around the house, thanks to the many applications it has.

  • Prevents the browning of fruits and vegetables. This is something that can be done with lemon juice or vinegar, but a bucket of salty water will also do the trick.
  • Preserves food naturally for long term survival. Salt works by dehydrating the food as well as the microbes present in the food. Most especially, mold and yeast cannot grow in food pretreated with salt. Food preserved this way could last for years.
  • Fresh egg test. You need a cup of water with two teaspoons of salt in them. Drop an egg in the cup. A fresh one should sink straight to the bottom while an older one would float. An older egg has more buoyancy because the air cell inside of it increases.
  • Makes cheese last longer. Even when it is preserved properly in a refrigerated environment, cheese will inevitable spoil due to mold. This cannot be prevented with salting the cheese, but it can be delayed. Wrap the cheese before storing it in a damp cloth moistened using saltwater.
  • Puts out grease fires. One thing to never do is to throw water on top of a grease fire. The water evaporates instantly and spreads the fire all over the room. Instead, throwing salt on top of the grease fire will create a crusty layer without oxygen, thus smothering the flames. Moreover, the salt also acts as a heat sink, dissipating the heat.

Salt keeps well in cool, dry places and you can prevent it from clumping by dropping a few grains of rice at the bottom of the shaker.

Honey

In addition to tasting delicious in tea and in baklava, honey has some pretty nifty health benefits. When you eat local honey, it’s said to help with allergies, which is great. The real use in an emergency though lies in the antibacterial, antimicrobial and emollient properties. It also has a ton of practical uses:

  • Has vitamins and minerals so if you’re using a sweetener, honey is better than sugar
  • Can be used as an antibacterial on wounds
  • Is a great healing agent for wounds and helps keep the bandage from sticking
  • Barter – sweeteners are going to be way up there on the list
  • Excellent skin moisturizer (if your skin is so dry that it cracks, you’re going to have problems)
  • Makes a great burn treatment because of the antibacterial properties and the moisturizing power
  • Soothes sore throats
  • When mixed with vinegar and water is an effective parasite remover
  • Make fly/bug strips

Did you know that honey was found in Egyptian pharaohs’ tombs and it was still as good as new?

It only needs to be kept in a sealed container in a cool, dry place and it will last a lifetime. And don’t fret if your honey has crystalized; just place the jar in some warm water (without letting water enter the jar) and it will be smooth and good as new in no time.

Kitchen Scraps

Some of us throw away a ton of food scraps on a regular basis, but did you know that you can repurpose much of it? You can, of course, start a compost pile, but there are also many uses of kitchen scraps, and they would make your life easier if you are prepping or just homesteading.

First, use them to grow more food. In most of the cases, the roots will regrow if you plant them in the soil, just like bulbs of flowers do.

regrow

You can also use some of the scraps for filtering water. For example, grind the corn husk into dust and mix it with coffee grounds and clay. Add enough water to make it “clay-like” and shape it into a bowl. Allow to dry in the sun, then put your water in it and place it over another vessel. The water will soak through the bowl and into the other vessel, leaving contaminants behind. Rinse the corn husk bowl and reuse.

Onion peels, apple peels and banana peels also help removing pollutants from water. They attract and capture ions and pollutants because they’re adsorbent. This won’t purify the water or remove biohazards but it will help remove some of the dangerous pollutants.

And here are a few more examples on what kitchen scraps can help:

Onion Peels

  • Sooth stings – the end of the onion can be used to sooth stings. Just hold it on your skin.
  • Use them to dye your hair a beautiful golden brown, or to color fabrics or Easter eggs a bright purple!
  • Cook it up along with your garlic peels to make an organic pesticide. It stinks, but it works!

Corn Husks

  • Make baskets – braid or weave the husks into a basket.
  • Protect delicate foods when grilling – if you want to grill your fish or other delicate food but are afraid it will fall apart and be wasted, wrap it in a wet corn husk while cooking.
  • Treat bladder infections – boil the husks into a tea for relief. It also works as a pain reliever for some types of joint or muscle pain.
  • Start fires – dried husks are extremely flammable so if you don’t have any good kindling, don’t pitch those husks!

Egg Shells

  • Fertilizer – your plants need the calcium and other minerals in the shells so you can crush them up and mix them into the dirt or you can soak the eggshells in the water that you use for your plants. You can even use the entire shell as a “cup” to start your seeds in if you crack them carefully.
  • Pest deterrent – having problems with deer or cats in your garden? Crush the eggshells and scatter them around your garden.
  • Calcium supplements – we all need plenty of calcium but in a survival situation, we may not be able to get enough. Thank goodness you thought to raise chickens! Just grind the eggs into a fine powder and mix it into your smoothie or other food once per day.
  • Feed them to your chickens – that’s right – they need calcium to make more eggs so instead of using oyster shells, crush up the egg shells and give them back.
  • Candles – if you crack the tops off carefully, you can fill the shells with beeswax, add a wick, and you’ve got a candle that you didn’t need to use another container on.
  • Seed starter pots – again, crack them carefully and put your soil and seeds in them. You’ve got organic seed pots that are already rich in calcium and minerals that your plants need.

Add few more items to this list, and you’ll have a practical “To Buy” list for your kitchen, and your stockpile too. Less means more, and people living small can confirm that. Not to mention how easy and convenient is to carry a smaller bag when you are on the run for survival.

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This article has been written by Gabrielle Ray for Survivopedia.

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Keep Your Garden Producing This Winter With Cold Frame Gardening

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Like most gardeners I have been looking for ways to get the most out of my garden. I don’t know about you, but feeding my family is a year round deal, my garden plays a huge role in that. Extending the season with cold frame gardening is one of the simplest ways to do so. It allows gardeners to acclimate seedlings to the outdoors, and protect plants from frost by trapping heat inside of the cold frame. If you haven’t started a garden yet, check out THE FIRST 5 STEPS TO STARTING A GARDEN.

What is cold frame gardening?

A cold frame is just a box with a transparent top, and preferably bottomless. You could use an old window, polycarbonate, or plastic sheeting. As long as it is transparent it should work just fine. I found two cabinets with glass doors. I found them at a second hand shop for really cheap, because one of them was broken. I slapped some duct tape on it to put it back together. Duct tape fixes everything, right? You can make the box out of scrap materials or do what I did and find something cheap that will work for this project that is already put together.

cold frame gardening


How do cold frames work?

Cold frame gardening lets the sun and heat inside through the transparent top. Which keeps the plants warm, even when it is cold outside. it is not only warm inside the box, but the soil is warmer also. As a result the plants will be protected from frost. When you place seedlings inside a cold frame it helps them to get used to being outside and they will soon be ready to plant in the ground if you so choose.

cold frame gardening

A cold frame will help keep the plants warm when it is cold outside. Although, you will have to watch the temperature. Fall/Winter crops will like temperatures below 60ºF and above freezing. Summer plants should be below 75ºF, but no colder than 60ºF degrees. There may be days where you will need to prop open or remove the lid completely to control the temperature. Prop open the lid several inches if it is 40ºF, and if it gets up to 50ºF, take the lid off completely.

If you have many cloudy days, painting the inside walls white, or lining them with aluminum foil will help drawn in more sun. Also, if it is going to be a really cold night you may want to think of covering the transparent top with something that will help keep the heat in. You could wrap the entire thing with a blanket, or anything that can provide some protection from the cold.

You can use potted plants in a cold frame or you can plant directly into the ground. It will depend on your preference and the type of plants that you are sowing. I like to start carrots out in a small pot inside, but once the seedlings are big enough I will plant them in the cold frame.

cold frame gardening

You will want to place your cold frames in a sunny spot. It is recommended that you place it facing the South. It is better if you can bury the box just below the frost point. Especially, if you will be planting things like carrots, that need to grow deep into the dirt. Burying the box will help keep it well insulated throughout the winter. Bury the box at an angle, so that more sun can get in.


Fall cold frame gardening

Fall is my favorite time of the year. Not only are we harvesting our pumpkins but we can use a cold frames to plant carrots, cabbage, radish, leeks, and our leafy vegetables.


Winter cold frame gardening

Depending on where you live, winter can be the hardest time for growing. Many people have to cover their plants up completely to protect them from the frost. Using cold frames is a simple and beautiful way to garden during the winter. In the winter your leafy greens such as, chard, spinach, and lettuce will do well throughout the winter in a cold frame box.


Spring cold frame gardening

You can get a head start on the summer garden by using the cold frame in springtime. Sew your seeds about 5 weeks before the last frost occurs. You could also do another round of leafy vegetables if you like!

Cold frame gardening is one of the easiest ways to extend your gardening all year round. Not only that but they look much prettier than row covers. You can make large cold frames or a small one, to fit your individual needs. Using scrap materials, cold frame gardening doesn’t have to be expensive either.

 

Bonus Tip:

If you already have a raised garden bed, you can turn it into a cold frame by finding old windows, doors or making your own transparent lid to go on them.

 

What is your favorite gardening trick? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Want Your Survival Garden To Grow 12 Months Of The Year?

Looking for ideas on how to keep your garden alive all 12 months of the year? Depending on where you live, there are inventions that make it quite possible if you’re willing to get clever.

Click here to check out a clever invention that make it possible

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10 Ways To Heat A Cold Frame Over Winter

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No matter what part of the country you live in, at some point the growing season will come to an end as winter draws near. The days get shorter, the sun gets lower in the sky, and the ground cools and sometimes even freezes. One good hard frost is all it takes to wipe out most garden crops. There is a way, however, to extend your growing season by planting in a cold frame.

A cold frame is basically a box which is slanted and positioned toward the south for maximum sun exposure. The sides can be made of wood, rocks, bricks, metal, plastic, or even hay bales, with a glass or clear plastic lid. Sunlight enters the cold frame and is trapped in the box, keeping your plants much warmer than they would otherwise be out in the garden, allowing them to thrive when they’d otherwise freeze.

Cold frames can be used to start seedlings early to get a jumpstart on the garden. They can also be used to continue growing cool weather crops, such as leafy greens, year-round.

IMPORTANT:

The biggest fallback with Cold Frames is accidentally forgetting to let in cool fall or spring air on really SUNNY days… doing so is like leaving a dog in your car on a hot day with the windows rolled up, LETHAL.  So make sure you use a cold frame that has a NON electric thermostat like this one.

Click here for your NON Electric “thermostat” regulated Cold Frames

If you live in an area that experiences mild winters, you shouldn’t need to artificially heat a cold frame. As a matter of fact, you’ll need to vent it during the daytime so that you don’t fry your plants when the sun is high (been there, done that!). If, however, you live in an area that experiences hard winters and extreme freezing temperatures, you might want to look into alternative ways to add additional heat to your cold frames to keep them above freezing- especially overnight.

Here are 10 ways to heat cold frames over winter…

 

1. Light it up!

Light bulbs can add much needed heat to a cold frame during chilly winter days. Even a string of Christmas lights will add some warmth. You can hang them in the box to dangle over the plants, or weave a string of lights between the plants to keep them nice and cozy.

2. Compost is hot stuff.

As compost breaks down, the fermentation process creates natural heat. Dig a trench and fill it with layers of “brown” and “green” materials: leaves, sticks, compost, manure, grass clippings, etc. As the “lasagna” layers decompose, they release heat which steams up from the soil and keeps the plants warm under the cold frame’s glass.

3. Insulating with bubble wrap.

Insulating a cold frame will help to hold the sun’s natural heat in. Thick bubble wrap taped either to the outside or the inside walls and lid of a cold frame (or greenhouse, as shown) acts as an amazing insulator.

4. Lots of leaves create heat.

This guy shows how he uses a four foot thick pile of leaves to heat his greenhouse during the winter months. The process could easily be converted to use with a cold frame by making the backside of the frame out of chicken wire covered with plastic with holes poked in it, and stacking leaves to insulate this northern wall of the frame. As the leaves break down they’ll introduce the heat of fermentation to the cold frame, warming your plants and helping them to grow.

coldframeplansad

5. Double it up!

By covering a cold frame with an arched plastic hoop house you can trap in even more solar heat, building a nice little microclimate to grow in.

6. A homemade terracotta pot heater.

I’ve seen these homemade terracotta heaters made several different ways, but the idea is to use tea light candles to warm up the terracotta pots, which then absorb and radiate the heat for hours after the candles have burned out. This idea could potentially be used in a cold frame to add warmth. Just be sure to keep it away from flammable materials, as this could definitely be a fire hazard if you aren’t careful. Not something I’ve tried yet, but could be worth experimenting with.

7. Keep it toasty with a rocket stove.

The guys in this video show how they used a wood burning rocket stove to heat a greenhouse. A large row of cold frames could benefit from a similar setup.

Some additional ideas…

  1. Cover the cold frame with a thick blanket overnight to keep in some warmth.
  2. Build the north side of the frame (the back wall) using bricks, blocks, or stones to help absorb the heat from the sun.
  3. Add water bottles painted black to help hold thermal mass inside the cold frame.

 

Do you have any other thoughts on how to heat a cold frame? Please share in the comments section below.

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Completely, 100 Percent Off-Grid: 9 Essential Foods You Should Grow

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Completely, 100 Percent Off-Grid: 9 Essential Foods You Should Grow

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Are you ready to feed your family by what you grow and raise? If you want to reduce your dependency on the commercial food supply, you better start now. It is important to develop a functional homestead capable of producing enough food to live on before you need it.

Establishing crops, building infrastructure, raising animals and working out the kinks all takes time, and you may have a few less successful years before you can really eat off the grid.

Assuming you have a house on cleared land, with at least one usable outbuilding already constructed, then you will be able to focus on growing food. With long working days, attention to seasonal change and weather, efficient work practices, and regular routines, two adults can work the land for food within a few years. Figuring in planting time, growing time, daily chores, pest and weed control, soil maintenance and construction, it would be reasonable to expect a partially self-sufficient homestead within three years, and a fully sustaining one in around five years. In addition to a milk source (cows or goats), you should plan on having:

Protein

1. Beans – Reliable and easy to grow, beans are a nutritional staple for the homesteading family. Prepare the soil early, and plan on 2-3 months of growing before harvest to get a yield in your first year, and you can expect more in year two.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

2. Poultry – If starting with chicks, expect 2-3 years of successful rearing, selection, brooding and culling before you will have your flock established. In the meantime, you will collect eggs and eat birds you choose not to keep in the flock. Start with 10-12 chicks, and plan for them to be around 3-4 months old before butchering.

3. Rabbits – Rabbits are quick producers of meat for your family. It is not unreasonable to expect 20 or more rabbits per year from a single breeding pair. Allow for 1-2 years for your rabbits to become established. Select for breeding performance, health and size, and introduce new genetics regularly.

Grains

4. Corn – Corn is a prolific grain crop needing much nutrition from the soil and up to four months of heat for production. In your first year of growing corn, it is not unusual to have a lot of losses due to weather, pests or soil issues. However, once you have worked out the issues corn can be an important staple grain. Plan on about two years of learning before cultivating a substantial harvest.

5. Wheat – One of the most common grains in the American diet, wheat is reasonably easy to grow and hard to harvest. Wheat is ready after around two months of hot weather. When planning to start wheat, figure in threshing and grinding time.

Fruits & Vegetables

6. Winter Squash – Grow winter squash to supply your family with important vitamins and provide you with an easy keeper crop. Winter squash takes up to 4 months to mature, but you should be able to get a good yield in your first year with appropriate pest management and watering.

Completely, 100 Percent Off-Grid: 9 Essential Foods You Should Grow

Image source: Pixabay.com

7. Apples – Although apples can be extremely useful, you need to plan on 6 – 10 years with your trees before they will bear fruit. Your patience will pay off, however, and planting apple trees is well worth the wait.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

8. Potatoes – Potatoes are easy to start. You can expect a good yield in your first year of potatoes. Short season varieties will grow in as little as 2 months, but longer season varieties can take 3 months or more.

Extras

9. Honey – Honey is a fantastic sweetener on the homestead and comes with lots of nutritional benefit. Plus, bees pollinate your crops. However, bees take a while to get production ramped up. Your first year harvest will be very small, but in the second year you can harvest up to 30 pounds of surplus honey from one hive (leaving the bees something to eat over the winter).

If self-sufficiency is your goal, then don’t wait to start on projects like these. Even if you’re still buying most of your food, developing your homestead so you can begin slowly weaning yourself away from doing so, means you won’t have to spend your early years of self-sufficiency struggling to find food.

What advice would you add? What would you add to this list? Share it in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Your Getting Started Guide To Fall Gardening Like Your Life Depended On It: Part I

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I used to wait for spring with bated breath. I would watch for a good day for tilling, go out and buy a bunch of transplants and seeds, and then have a wild and crazy weekend tearing up the earth and putting everything in the ground.

Thinking ahead? Naw… I had Spring fever! I wouldn’t think much about gardening until the seed catalogs started arriving… and then I would mostly browse and dream.

My nice garden beds were a good supplement to our diet but they weren’t a huge part of it. I was playing around with pretty beans and purple peppers, a few garlic plants, an heirloom corn I wanted to try… but it was haphazard and not planned for a long-term food security situation.

About a decade ago I realized how shaky the world was getting and knew things had to change. I also realized that just tearing up the ground and tossing fertilizer around wasn’t the way to ensure our piece of land was going to be healthy and strong enough to grow all of what we might need in a crash.

Even if you do work hard to build the soil, growing “all you need” is a tall order and it’s one even I haven’t reached yet… though every year I get closer. In 2015 I hit 1,000lbs of produce from our gardens (counting the random produce my children ate before it hit the scale) for the first time and the curve keeps going up.

The reason? I now work on preparing year-round by clearing and digging new patches of land, producing compost, planting fruit and nut trees and testing crops to find varieties that will go through the cold, the heat, the pests and the many diseases that want to rob us of our gardening sweat and toil. Much of this knowledge and experimentation culminated in my Survival Gardening Secrets course.

This fall, Chet and I want you to get ahead of the curve and get growing on a larger scale that takes less money out of your pocket and puts more produce on your table.

Here’s how you can build a fall garden – and an upcoming spring garden that will keep you fed through the year.

Let’s start with chickens.

Chickens Are Gardening Machines

When you pull out the gnarled remains of your summer tomatoes and squash, why not let chickens do the hard work of preparing your fall garden plots?

Get a good chicken tractor or fenced area in place around that plot and let those claw-footed tilling and manuring machines go!

My friend Larry built this simple chicken tractor for about $150:

He raises a good portion of his large family’s meat in there while improving his lawn. If you did the same thing with a garden plot, you’ll reap the benefits of all that turning and manuring. Chickens will compost in place while ridding your garden plot of stinkbugs and cutworms. I’ve pulled out a mess of spent vegetable plants from a garden bed and have been amazing to see just how many destroying insects are crawling around in the suddenly uncovered shade area beneath the brown stalks. Chickens turn those pests into eggs!

While this is a GREAT approach if you have a flat lawn, this sucker gets real heavy to pull through loose garden soil, up hills, in and around tightly planted Orchards or over raised Garden beds, which is why Chet Created these plans for a more light weight Chicken Tractor:

The Ultimate Portable Chicken Tractor

(Chet’s Chicken Tractor Blueprints Can Be Purchased Here)

Paul Gautschi of Back To Eden fame has a different approach. He uses his chickens to make good soil in their pen, which he then sifts and takes to his garden beds. If you have a big problem with predators snagging your Kentucky Fried goodness, this is another approach worth considering:

Kill the Weeds While the Sun Shines

I used to avoid using plastic in my gardens. Then I discovered its power for weed killing and I haven’t looked back.

If you have an area you’d like to garden but you haven’t gotten around to tilling it yet, summer and fall are the time to use the remaining heat of the sun to get it ready for later.

Get yourself some thick sheets of clear plastic and put them over the area. Pin down the edges with rocks or logs and let the sun create a weed-destroying greenhouse effect that will kill what you don’t want without removing the good biomass of all those weeds. They’ll bake and put humus into the soil beneath that plastic, then you can get out there and loosen the soil with a broadfork (this one from Meadow Creature is my favorite) or spading fork, then get planting when you’re ready.

When you till you turn up a lot of seeds that are waiting in the ground. When you kill with tarps this is less of a problem. I used to prefer black plastic until I saw some tests that were done side-by-side. Now I’m in the clear plastic camp.

An Alternate Approach

If you want to kill the weeds and really improve the soil long-term (and if you don’t have a big problem with pests like snails and slugs in your area), sheet-mulching is a good approach. The downside of sheet mulching is how much material it takes to cover a large area. If you have a friend with a tree-trimming company, great. If not, it’s not easy to get everything you need.

I successfully knocked out a persistent patch of Bermuda grass by putting down a double layer of cardboard and then stacking a foot of tree company mulch on top of it for a year. Back when I tilled that same area I had a very hard time keeping the grass from invading my beds and sapping the life from my tender domesticated vegetables.

Get Digging

One of my favorite ways to improve the tilth of the soil and reduce the water needs of my crops is to deeply double-dig garden beds. This is hard work but it’s good work. If you double-dig a garden area it adds more oxygen to the soil, improves the drainage and helps your crops delve deeply with their roots so they can get what they need in the soil.

I once did a test where I created a perfect square foot garden bed and a double-dug bed in sand that had only been amended with a half-inch of compost on top. The double-dug bed gave us about the same yields but needed a lot less watering. It also ate up a lot less compost, as a “proper” square foot bed is 1/3 finished compost. That’s too much pile-turning for me!

If you dig a garden bed well and then don’t step on it, it can stay loose and friable for a year or more. Pick areas where you can expand your garden beds while you’re planting your main beds in the fall, then get digging. If you’re not going to plant them right away, cover the area with tarps – or even better – woven plastic professional landscape “fabric” and then they’ll be ready to go when you need them. You can also dig beds and plant them with bags of beans, peas, rye, buckwheat, lentils, fava beans, chick peas, mustard or wheat seed from a local organic grocery store with the bulk bins. That’s a cheap way to cover the ground to keep out weeds while improving the soil at the same time. Sometimes I make a big seed mix from these bins, scatter it on the ground and rake ‘em in. As a bonus, you often get a bit to eat from these beds.

Double-digging is time consuming but when you dig a bed here and there on nice days, you’ll find eventually that you have a lot of long-term space in which to plant.

Get Composting Now

Composting used to be a chore for me. Now that I’ve realized Nature doesn’t care all that much about turning and aerating and that jazz, I’m having a lot more fun. After over a decade of extreme composting experiments, I even wrote a popular book on it. I’ve composted meat, sewage, pasta, paper and all kinds of other naughty things and my gardens just keep getting better and better. There are two main ways I compost without much work.

The first way is to choose a garden bed that I think could use some help and then start piling up compostable materials there, like this:

The other way is even cooler. It’s borrowed from the Koreans and isn’t anything like most compost most Westerners have seen.

All you do is find materials you want to compost and throw them in a barrel of water to rot down and ferment. I pick highly nutritional items such as urine, manure, moringa, seawater and comfrey to start with, then add whatever else I have around. Like this:

That looks insane but it works.

Let that rot for a few months and then thin it out as a liquid fertilizer for your gardens. It’s the bomb and it grows some danged good corn. Corn is needy, so if that crop likes it… imagine how the others will do!

On the downside, it smells horrible. Get a clothespin for your nose and don’t worry about it. And don’t pour it right on anything you’re about to eat. That’s nasty. It’s best for the establishment phase of a garden up until a few weeks before harvest. It’s also powerful growing magic for fruit trees.

One thing you absolutely DON’T want to do is buy compost or manure for your gardens.

Why? Because a lot – and I mean a LOT – of compost, manure and straw now contains persistent long-term herbicides that will utterly wreck your beds for a year or more. Don’t believe me?

Just ask Karen about her tomatoes.

Yikes.

I’ve read a lot of stories like this now and it happened to some of my own beds almost 5 years ago. Don’t let it happen to you.

BONUS IDEA: Plant Fruit Trees!

Fruit trees are really cheap compared to their potential yields.

What is an organic pear worth? Maybe $2? Imagine getting 400 of those from a tree you paid $25 for! That beats the heck out of most investments. Yet many of us don’t want to wait the 5-10 years it takes for impressive yields on fruit trees.

I used to feel that way… and then I got older. I plant on being here in a decade. Don’t you? Then get planting.

Plant more fruit and nut trees than you ever think you’ll need. Every fall, plant more. Go, drop $500 on fruit trees. Seriously. Get them in the ground, mulch around them, water them for the first year or two… and then, each spring as you plant your new garden beds, watch them wake up and grow. Eventually they’ll bear a few beautiful fruit. And then more and more and more. You can dry and preserve them. You can turn them into wine or hard liquor with a still. You can barter with them. You can fatten pigs on the fruit that falls. You can make incredible pies and cobblers, serve your children sun-ripened apples and peaches.

Look – just do it. Don’t wait to plant. Plant now and in the future you’ll look back and thank the “you” that is reading this right now.

Conclusion

We haven’t even covered all the potential vegetables you can plant in a fall garden yet… but what I’ve shared in this post will hopefully get you thinking long-term about your survival gardening plans. Get those chickens working. Get those weeds torched. Dig some new beds. Start some batches of compost. When you have the proper groundwork in place, your cabbages and turnips will almost grow themselves.

And so will the purple peppers (shh!).

Want More Survival Gardening Ideas?

Grab a copy of my Survival Gardening Secrets course that teaches you how to grow enough food to feed your family, even after the gardening centers close and you can no longer buy seeds, fertilizers, or pesticides to keep your garden alive.

Click here to access Survival Gardening Secrets

The post Your Getting Started Guide To Fall Gardening Like Your Life Depended On It: Part I appeared first on .

8 Signs That Predicts The Coming Food Crisis

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35612251 - dry season in a corn field.

It can be hard to imagine a looming food crisis when you can walk into your local grocery store and see shelves overflowing with abundance. You can find easily find everything you need, and plenty that you don’t.

You might even ignore those around you warning you to stock up on food while you still can. In fact, they might seem like Chicken Little desperately calling out, “The sky is falling!”

But don’t let the full shelves fool you. While the sky may not actually be falling, the world is facing a food shortage. It’s only a matter of time until it hits. Until then, the government wants you to keep walking into the stores, feeling like everything is fine.

The world’s food situation is not fine. Here are just eight of the many indicators that it’s time to stockpile food, and start growing some of your own.

1. Raising Food Prices

Have you noticed the price of groceries rising in your area? I sure have here, especially for basic staple ingredients such as butter, flour, and rice. Every time I head to the store, it seems like I have to stretch my food dollars a little further.

It’s not just in my neck of the woods where prices are creeping up. According to a study by the USDA Economic Research Service, supermarket prices are expected to rise .25-1.25 percent during 2016, and 1.0-2.0 percent during 2017. While those percentage points may seem low, they’re still moving up.

But, since the price of gas and food are intertwined, those numbers could soar past predictions if gas goes up again. Most of the food in the supermarket wasn’t grown in your local area. It was shipped there, requiring fuel.

As food prices continue rising, it’s getting harder and harder for families to buy what they need. That means the number of families now getting food assistance from the government continues to grow. It’s not a healthy outlook for our food supply.

2. Drought

Plants need water to grow and produce harvestable yields. As temperatures around the world rise, droughts are becoming more common.

Widespread droughts are hitting fertile cropland across the planet. From California to India, low rainfall and high temperatures cause devastation on crop production. Long-term forecasts indicate these weather patterns are likely to continue.

3. Diseases Wiping Out Crops & Animals

It’s not just the weather wreaking havoc on our food supply, it’s also disease. From the virulent Panama disease taking out bananas to African Swine Fever that can wipe out entire pig farms, diseases are running rampant in the food supply.

Modern food production techniques such as CAFOs create the perfect environment for peril. In a natural setting, you’d see a couple of pigs on farms across the landscape. They’d be interacting with nature, and have other animals and plant life around to help keep disease causing parasites at bay.

Instead, the majority of today’s pig farms are just pigs and concrete all around. When a disease comes in, it quickly moves through the whole herd. Often entire farms have to execute their animals to prevent the disease from spreading.

The loss of that many animals plays a role in rising food prices. Supply can no longer keep up with demand.

These issues aren’t just a problem for pigs. Cows, chickens, and other animals are being raised in conditions that make them prone for disease.

Crops are being raised in similar fashion. Instead of farmers growing a variety of crops, you see corn growing in huge fields for miles around. There are similar fields for soybeans, wheat, and other crops.

4. Food Safety Concerns

Have you noticed how often food is being recalled? From peanuts to frozen vegetables, meat to processed foods, it’s hard to trust the establishment to deliver safe food to your table. Listeria, e-coli, salmonella, and a host of other food borne illnesses are harming and killing people around the globe. Modern food handling practices have led to these food safety concerns.

Factories play a part in the production of numerous food products. When one factory has a role to play in the bulk of the food system, a containment can quickly spread.

Add transportation, storage, and unsafe handling, and you’ve got food that’s ready to play host to multiple strains of bacteria. Then there’s that whole GMO debate. Some countries don’t believe that genetically modified foods are safe for consumption. Others have drunk the GMO Kool-Aid and are pushing them on the marketplace at an astounding rate.

That’s another reason to grow your own food. You can pick heirloom varieties that haven’t been modified. No matter what you grow and preserve, be sure to inspect what you stockpile to ensure it’s safe.

5. Crops Being Used for Other Purposes

Crops aren’t just being grown to feed humans anymore. A huge portion of our food supply goes to feed cows. Cows were never meant to eat grains in the first place! Let them eat hay, and that’ll relieve a huge burden on our food supply.

Then there’s the whole ethanol thing. About a quarter of US corn is being used for fuel instead of food now. With a food crisis already in the works, using food for other purposes adds to the problem.

6. The Death of Small Farms

The family farmer is slowly become obsolete. Small family farms are being bought out by large mega-farms.

When single companies have their hands in so much of the food chain, a blow to one can cause huge problems. Conversely, when you have hundreds of small farms producing, it’s easy for the others to step in and make up the difference if one experiences loss.

But with rules and regulations definitely favoring mega-farms, it’s no wonder that small ones are selling out and shutting down. As governments continue persecuting small farmers, the number of farms producing your food will continue to shrink.

7. Mistreated Soil

The Fukushima crisis spewed nuclear material onto much of Japan. That soil isn’t safe to grow food in, and probably won’t be for a long time.

Nuclear disasters aren’t the only thing polluting our soil. Farming practices that strip all the nutrients out and dump chemicals back in also play a role.

Mega-farms don’t tend to care about the soil. They just like the money. Until sustainable practices are used in the ag industry, our soil will continue being mistreated.

Bad soil won’t grow as much food. However, it will keep bringing the food crisis closer to our reality.

processed food

8. Dependence on Processed Food

The majority of food on supermarket shelves is highly processed. This is the food that many people rely on to supply their nutrition on a daily basis. This boxed and packaged food hardly resembles real food. Because of this, people are becoming further removed from the source of their food.

Many don’t know how to make bread. They don’t know how to cut apart a chicken. They don’t know what animal hamburger comes from. For many people, food just comes from the store. That’s all they know, and this attitude is dangerous.

The further people get from their food, the easier it is for a crisis to occur. They’re totally dependent on other people to supply what they eat. When those farms or factories shut down, they simply won’t have a clue how to begin feeding themselves and their family.

How to Prepare for the Food Crisis

It’s not too late to begin preparing for the coming food crisis. You can begin taking steps to ensure your family’s survival when the grocery store shelves are empty. Here are a few important ones:

Education

Ensure you know where your food comes from. If you are currently food ignorant, make friends with some farmers. Do some research. Learn all you can. Feeding yourself doesn’t have to be complicated!

To take it a step further, you can educate yourself about local food regulations. Be on the lookout for laws that are restricting your right to feed your family. Play an active role in the political process to end the regulations that are strangling small farms.

Buy Local

Source food that’s grown as close to you as possible. Not only will you be supporting your local economy and farmers, you’ll also be eating food that’s fresher.

Local sources of food are less likely to be affected by national food shortages. If you’re already used to finding food that’s not in a supermarket, you’ll be a step ahead when the time comes.

Start Producing Your Own Food

No matter where you live, you can begin growing your own food. If you don’t have much space, put a couple of containers in your windowsills. Learn how to grow food in small spaces.

If you have more space, consider getting some livestock. Rabbits and chickens are allowed in many cities, and you’ll be producing your own meat and eggs.

You can continue to expand your survival garden as space allows. Try to grow some of the nutritious foods described in this Survivopedia article.

If you grow too much, learn how to preserve your harvest. Freezing, dehydrating, canning, and fermenting are some of the methods used to save food for later.

Producing your own food will help you lower your food bill and gain self-sufficiency. Everything you grow better prepares you for the food crisis.

Learn How to Cook

Stop buying processed food and take back your kitchen. Learn how to prepare simple, nutritious food that your family enjoys. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated!

Stockpile Food

Each time you go shopping, make it a point to buy some extra food. But, you shouldn’t just buy any food. You really need to stockpile what you actually eat.

Otherwise your family will have to adjust to both a crisis and new food when the time comes. It’s much better to have food on hand that you enjoy.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money to stock up. If your budget is really tight, try allocating just $5 or $10 a shopping trip. While it doesn’t sound like much, you’ll begin growing your reserves.

Be sure you store your stockpiles properly to keep pests and bacteria out. You also need to rotate your stores, which is why you should be eating what you’re storing. When I add to my stockpile, I put the new in the back. That way I use the older food first.

How Are You Preparing?

Have you noticed these eight signs of an approaching food crisis? Are there others you’d add to my list?

What basic steps are you taking to prepare? What advice would you give someone who is just starting to develop a preparedness mindset? Please share your tips in the comments section below so others can learn from you!

And click on the banner below to find out how our ancestors survived crisis and to learn their tricks!

the lost ways cover

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

Resources:

http://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/food-price-outlook/summary-findings.aspx

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FarmBot Genesis

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Here is a computer controlled growing tool called the FarmBot Genesis. It is a computer controlled farming robot which can be used to get the most out of each plot by controlling exactly where each seed is put, how much water it gets and it even can seek and destroy weeds. All using magnetic heads […]

How To Build A Portable Survival Garden

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survivopedia portable garden

There are several reasons why you’d want to build a portable garden, but today we’re going to focus on building a portable garden for bugging out.

Some of you may only have space in the back of your car or truck, and some of you have a hitch that can pull an entire shed or trailer.

If you’re planning on building a large portable survival garden, it should probably have walls for two reasons: you don’t want to damage your plants when traveling and you don’t want others to know that you have a truckload of food.

Weight and Size

The first thing that you need to consider when planning your portable garden, besides the space you’ll have available, is weight. How many people are going to be available to help you load up and how strong are they? Raised beds can get heavy fast when you factor in the weight of dirt along with the weight of the plants.

If you have access to a forklift or have plenty of people to help you load, then larger raised beds may not be an issue. If you’re going it  alone or with people who aren’t so strong, then you should probably go with small beds or some of the other options that I’ll discuss.

Size, of course, depends on how much space you have and how you’ll be transporting the plants. You won’t want to plan portable trellises or large beds if you’re going to put them in a truck bed, car, or low-roofed trailer. As with everything, think ahead when planning your portable survival garden.

Types of Portable Survival Gardens

There are several different methods  that you can use to grow your garden so that you can take it with you if you bug out. You can also combine methods so that you  can take more of your garden with you.

Potted Plants

poted plants

If you have limited space, you can always plant your veggies and spices in pots and hanging baskets. Since you can adapt the sizes of the pots to the size of the plants, this is a great way to make your plants portable, and to use space efficiently.

You can put the smaller planters in between the larger ones while transporting, or even put them in the floorboard of your car.

Portable Raised Bed Survival Gardens

There are a couple of different ways that you can make your raised beds portable. You can adjust the size to meet your needs and capabilities.

Portable Raised Beds on Stilts

First, you can make your raised bed survival garden small enough that you can pick them up and move them. This works great for plants that grow low to the ground or for short plants that can be grown close together such as peppers. Here’s an inexpensive, easy plan for building one.

The idea is similar to window boxes except they’ll be on the ground. Build them on stilts so that they’re easy to pick up. If you plant them on the ground, they’ll likely sink and be difficult to pick up. A huge advantage here is that you can load them into the back of the truck.

Larger Portable Raised Beds on Casters

If you go with a larger raised bed, you can put casters on the bottom to make them portable. If you go this route, it needs to be built on concrete or on placed on 2x4s so that the castors don’t sink in. Here’s a great instructable for portable raised beds. You can adjust the size to meet your needs.

raised bed

Vertical Gardening Made Portable

We’ve talked about vertical gardening before, but most types of plants grown vertically would travel well in the back of a truck or in a closed trailer. If you’re using potted plants, you can always pull them right off the latticework and carry them with you as described above.

diy vertical gardenThe only adjustments that you’ll have to make when planning a portable vertical garden versus a stationary one is ease of movement.

Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re using potted plants but if you’re using vining plants, you need to make the vertical structure so that it’s easy to disassemble, or small enough that it will fit into whatever method of transportation that you’re using.

You should also use durable material to build the structure.

PVC works great because it’s light and can be built to disassemble.

Panel  grid wire is also a good choice because it’s light, sturdy, and comes in a variety of sizes. You can always cut it down to meet your needs.

Ladders are also another good option.

Portable Survival Garden Houses

I absolutely love this idea, but you’ll need a hitch and a vehicle with enough power to pull it. If you’re travelling on level roads, you won’t need as much horsepower as if you’re traveling on mountainous or hilly terrain.

Portable Greenhouses

greenhouse

You can buy or build a greenhouse fairly inexpensively and they’re multi-purpose. You can use them to extend growing periods in good times, but if things go south, you can always pack them up and go with them.

Portable greenhouses need to be a bit sturdier than the average greenhouse, so I’d recommend using Plexiglas instead of plastic sheeting. Buildeazy offers a free plan that is not only versatile, but you can also modify it to suit your size. It provides several different options for building materials, so that’s good, too. Remember that you’ll need a solid floor if it’s going to be portable.

If you really want to make a greenhouse portable, build it on a trailer base so that all you have to do is maintain the tires and hitch it to your truck if you need to go in a hurry. It’s also easy to load your vertical gardens, potted plants or gear into this, so you can use the space efficiently.

To add to the internal stability of the plants, I would probably modify the shelving so that the pots can be attached, or make them so that the plants sit down in the shelf. Just off the top of my head, I’d either cut pre-sized holes in the shelves or use some sort of sturdy wire mesh shelving that can be adapted with different size holes since most planters come in standard sizes.

Finally, this structure could actually serve as a shelter for wherever you’re going after you unload the plants. My imagination is running wild with the possibilities here; solar panels, rainwater collection systems, etc.

Tiny Homes

This idea kind of feeds off of the last one. If you really want to get the biggest bang out of your portable survival garden idea, then this is the way to go. There are many tiny homes that are built in such a way that many of the inside structures fold up to make them easier to transport.

You could, of course, transport small vertical plant structures, potted plants, window planters and even small raised beds inside of them and unload them when you arrive at your bug out destination.

tiny houseOne idea that I have, though, is to make a tiny house with a covered porch  that can be enclosed with hinged doors that open to provide a really cute serve as storage for such items as pots and pans, hanging plants, garden tools, or just about anything else that you’d want to hang.

In the meantime, when traveling, the doors would be closed and serve as additional storage for gear or plants.

Another house with this theme is shown in the article that I wrote about tiny houses.

The one in the picture is a bit pricey, but you could build it yourself for much less and adapt the size and insides to suit your needs. I even like the idea of the window planters on the outside, modified so that they can be covered for travel, of course.

Once you get to your bug out destination, you’d be ready to quite literally unpack an instant house and garden. Again, build it on wheels and add a hitch so that you can load up, hook up, and head out.

There are many different ways to make a portable survival garden; you just need to think a bit ahead and plan according to what transportation you have and what plants you want to take.

Think about the old ways our ancestors used for survival and click on the banner below to learn more of their secrets!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Bee Update

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Been up to the Bees today again to add some brood boxes, boxes where they create more workers, and feed those that are expanding. You don’t need to feed them at this time of year but when you do they grow faster and the hives are stronger ready for when you want to split them […]

Pressure Canning: 7 Survival Meals In A Jar

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Survivopedia 7 meals in a jar

OK, I’m a huge fan of fast food. By that, I don’t mean the golden arches; I’m talking about something that I can warm up and eat without putting forth much effort. I also like the idea of having ready-made meals that can be heated up in case of emergency.

Since I have to can my food at the end of the season anyway, and I always go home to help my parents since they still run the farm, my mom and I have developed some pretty delicious recipes. I also admit that I’ve snagged and adapted my share from the ‘net.

Since we all know that pressure canning is a must for low-acid food, why bother just canning green beans when you can make an awesome soup or stew instead? We just make up a huge pot of the meals, then ladle them into the jars before we cook it. The pressure canning will cook it, so cooking it in advance will just give you a jar of mush.

A couple of tips – always use a spoon or bubble remover to get the bubbles from inside the jar. Clean your rims with vinegar before placing the seals on them. Add the rack to your canner before putting your jars in. Add 4 or 5 inches of water to the canner after your jars are in the canner, or refer to your pressure canner for specific instructions. Have the water simmering when you add the jars to prevent bursting hot jars in cold water.

Without further ado, let’s get to the recipes. I’m including a bit of everything to get your creative juices flowing. Remember that anything that you cook can be canned, so there’s no need to rough it when the lights go out. You can eat easily and deliciously by candle light.

Grandma’s Chicken Soup

chicken soupPersonally, I like to add pasta to this when I’m warming it up, but you don’t want to can the pasta or else you’ll have mush.

To add it later, just toss in a handful of egg noodles when you’re warming up the soup and cook long enough for the noodles to get done.

Yields about 6 quarts.

  • 4 quarts water or chicken broth
  • 4 chicken bouillon cubes if you’re using water
  • 4 cups of chopped raw chicken
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cup chopped green onions
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Place broth (or water and bouillon) and chicken into a large stock pot. Bring to a boil and add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil again. Ladle into quart jars, leaving 1 inch head space.

While soup is cooking, get your seals hot. After you ladle your soup into jars, clean the rims very well and add the seals and rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

Traditional Chili

There’s nothing better than a good chili on a cold night, or a warm one when there’s no power! You can make this a vegetarian chili by leaving the meat out, obviously. Yields about 6 quarts.

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 lbs. dried kidney beans
  • 2 quarts tomato juice
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder

Rinse your beans and soak them overnight. Brown the hamburger and drain well. Bring the water to a boil and add all ingredients. Boil for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your seals in hot water. Ladle chili into jars and clean the rims well. Place in the pressure canner and cover with hot water to the bottom of the rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

bean-soup-256564_640

16 Bean and Ham Soup

This one says it all. Make up a pan of cornbread and you’ve got a delicious, nutritious meal that will stick to your ribs. We don’t add all of the extra vegetables but if you’d like, feel free to toss in carrots, tomatoes, or whatever you’d like. This is the traditional, simple ham and bean country recipe. Yields about 9 quarts.

  • 2 lbs. 16 bean mix
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 4 cups chopped ham
  • Large hambone – DON’T use the neck bones because you’ll have chunks of bone. That sucks to pick out.
  • 14 cups water
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper

Soak beans overnight. Add all ingredients to a large stockpot and bring to a boil. Boil for an hour and remove the ham bone. Meanwhile, prepare your seals. Ladle soup into jars, stirring and scooping deep to make sure you get an equal amount of ham and beans in each jar. Leave 1 inch headspace and process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

Chicken Corn Chowder

Use a mix of brown and white chicken to add flavor to this soup. Here’s the thing – I love chowder, which means I need to use flower to thicken it. The rub here is that you can’t can with flour because it prevents the heat from getting to the center of the jar. Therefore, add a couple of tablespoons of flour mixed with enough milk to make a thick slurry when you’re warming up a quart of the soup.

  • 4 quarts water or chicken broth (use 4 bouillon cubes if using water)
  • 4 cups cubed chicken
  • 1 cup diced green onion
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 5 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 4 cups corn
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. salt

Bring the water/broth and chicken to a boil in a large stock pot. Add remaining ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil again. Boil for 5 minutes. While it’s coming to a boil, heat your rings. Ladle the soup into quart jars, leaving 1 inch of head space. Process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

Sloppy Joe Filling

Who doesn’t love a good sloppy joe? It’s easy to heat up and the kids will eat it, especially if you throw a slice of cheese on it! Delicious! This yields about 6 pints.

  • 4 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1 1/2 cups diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt

In a medium stockpot, brown the hamburger and onions. Drain. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. While it’s simmering, get your canner and seals ready. Ladle into pint jars and wipe the rims clean. Add seals and rings and place in the canner. Process for 75 minutes at 10 lbs.

Deconstructed Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

It’s not a good idea to can whole cabbage rolls because it’s tough for the heat to get to the center, but you’re just going to chop it up on your plate anyway, right? So why not just can all the ingredients and call it something fancy, like “deconstructed”? It’s still delicious! This yields about 5 quarts.

  • 2 lbs. ground chuck
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 cup green pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium cabbage, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup julienned carrots
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. black pepper

In a medium stockpot, brown the ground chuck and onions. Drain. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for a few minutes until cabbage wilts. Meanwhile, prepare canner and seals. Ladle into jars and clean rims. Add seals and rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 pounds.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Another stick-to-your-ribs meal. Yuuuumm. This yields about 6 quarts.

  • 3 lbs. stew meat (it doesn’t have to be expensive because the canning process will make it tender)
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 2 cups chopped onion (large chop)
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 1 cups sliced celery
  • 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cups corn
  • 2 quarts canned tomatoes or 4 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning mix

In a large stockpot, brown the meat with 1 tsp olive oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 min. While it’s simmering, prepare your canner and seals. Ladle into jars and clean the rims well. Add seals and rings. Process for 90 minutes at 10 lbs.

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Now that you have a general idea of some great pressure canned meals, get started on your own! Do you have any favorites that you’ve created or that have been in your family for generations? If so, please feel free to share them with us in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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What You Need To Know About Pet Food For Survival

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Survivopedia Pet food

Cats and dogs are often counted as one of the family. That means you need to prepare for your pets as well as everyone else. They’ll need to eat, even after the SHTF and you can’t run to the store and simply buy another 50-pound sack.

Since the fats in dry kibble quickly turn rancid, it’s not ideal for long-term storage. Canned food lasts longer, but it sure takes up a lot of space. And it’s more expensive.

What’s a loving pet owner to do? After all, vets would have you believe that you’re limited to commercial food if you want to keep your pet in good health. But if you can’t store up enough food to last for years on end.

Don’t get discouraged. With a little planning and work, you can store or raise what you need to keep your pet healthy and happy even after a crisis.  Before we get to the details, let’s take a look at the very profitable pet food industry, and the actual nutritional needs for most cats and dogs.

A Quick History of Feeding Pets

Contrary to what many vets proclaim, your pet does not need pet food to thrive. Before the pet food industry exploded in popularity, people kept their animals alive just fine.

Back then, dogs were typically given bones, scraps that the family could afford to spare, and occasionally bread that had been soaked in milk.  They also ate whatever else they scrounged. Their meals rarely consisted of exactly the same thing, and this variety helped them achieve a balanced diet that worked.

Cats hunted for birds and mice. They chased and ate butterflies and other insects. They were given extra milk from the milk pail, and perhaps some other scraps as they became available.

If pets truly needed commercially prepared food to survive, there wouldn’t be any pets around today. They simply wouldn’t have survived all of those years before it was invented.

But, the pet food industry doesn’t want you to know this. They are very profitable, and make lots of money by people believing the lies they’ve spread. Examining the brief history of the industry will help pet owners feel more confident in their ability to use common sense to feed their animals.

The first commercially available pet food was inspired by hardtack crackers. It was a meat, grain, and vegetable based cracker for dogs. It was easily portable, and contained nutrients that dogs needed.

A couple of decades later, canned dog food made an appearance. Horse meat was the main ingredient. In the 1930s, cat food also appeared on the shelves.

Dry kibble came after the canned variety. The tin rationing in the United States during World War II played a role in its invention. Another factor was the perfecting of the extruding process that was being used for cereal at the time.

Once dry pet food was available, the manufacturers dove into marketing. They created jingles, told everyone that table scraps would hurt their animals, and got veterinarians onboard. The public responded favorably, and started turning to commercial food as the main diet of their pets.

Nutritional Needs of Dogs

Since dogs don’t need commercial food, what do they need? As scavengers, dogs eat a variety of foods. They are opportunistic carnivores, preferring meat when it’s available. But, they’ll also eat grains and vegetables. Actually, there’s not much a dog won’t eat.

But, just because a dog can eat something doesn’t mean that it should. Many table foods are bad for pets. Chocolate is a common example. Onions and garlic (in excess) are others.

Video first seen on Veterinary Secrets.

Three Simple Recipes for Dogs

Cooking for your pup isn’t complicated. Here are three different recipes you can whip up for your dog. You can mix and match ingredients, using what you have on hand and in your food storage.

The Piles of Three

You’ll need:

  • Cooked or Raw Meat (rabbit, chicken, ground beef, lamb, tuna, etc.)
  • Cooked Carbs (white rice, oats, quinoa, potatoes)
  • Cooked or Raw Veggies (green beans, peas, carrots)

The recipe is simple. You mix one part of meat, one part of carbs, and one part of vegetable.  Then feed your dog in appropriate sized portions for the breed and size.

Doggy Stew

This stew has to cook for quite a while to get the nutrients out of the bones and make them safe for your dog. It may not be appropriate for all SHTF scenarios, but if you’re cooking on a woodstove, or have another solid supply of heat, then it’s a great way to feed your dog from scraps! You’ll need:

  • Meat scraps
  • A couple of potatoes or sweet potatoes cut into chunks
  • Green beans
  • Water

Throw your meat scraps and bones into a large pot. Cover with water and simmer for several hours, until you can crush the bones easily between your fingers. Now, add the potatoes and green beans and let cook until those are soft. Mash the stew into appropriate sized pieces for your dog, and let cool before feeding.

Leave It Raw

Many dog owners are embracing the raw food diet. This actually would work quite well in a SHTF scenario, as long as you are raising meat for your family. You’ll need a combination of:

  • Raw, meaty bones (rabbit, chicken backs and feet, meaty bones from cows, etc.)
  • Whole prey
  • Organ meat

Your dog will figure out how to eat it Just make sure that organ meat doesn’t make up a large portion of this diet.

Nutritional Needs of Cats

Cats and dogs are different in many ways, including their nutritional needs. While dogs are natural scavengers, cats in the wild typically hunt for their meals. They are obligate carnivores, which means they need animal-based protein.

Organ meat is an important piece of a cat’s diet. They need the taurine these parts provide.

But, you don’t want to feed your cat exclusively organ meat, or any other one type of food. As you’re preparing food for your cat, strive for approximately 80% meat, 10% organs, and 10% edible bones to mimic the food they’d hunt on their own.

Video first seen on Real Pet Tips.

Three Simple Recipes for Cats

If your cat is used to being outdoors and mousing, that’s a great way to provide a large chunk of its diet. Eating the organs, bones, and meat of the prey will help meet your cat’s nutritional needs. If that’s not possible during a crisis situation, you’ll need to prepare food.

A good quality meat grinder that can handle bones will make preparing this food easier for you and your cat. This is especially important if your cat isn’t used to chewing on large chunks of meat or small, raw bones. As they adjust to the diet, you can slowly transition to larger chunks.

It’s important to note that as a hunter species instead of a scavenger one, cats prefer warm or room temperature food. Many cats won’t touch cold food. To warm your homemade food, place it in a resalable container and submerge it in warm water for thirty minutes before feeding.

You’ll notice that meat is the star of all these recipes. Cats need meat. If you give your cat other foodstuff, that’s fine for a treat. Cats even eat grass occasionally! But the bulk of what they eat should be meat.

Canned Fish & Liver Meal

Canned fish makes a simple base for your cat’s diet. Look for a variety that includes the bones and skin, which will provide the calcium and fat your feline needs. Canned salmon, sardines, and mackerel often meet this requirement. The liver is added for the taurine, and is an important addition. You’ll need:

  • A can of fish (undrained)
  • A tablespoon of ground chicken liver

Mix the ingredients together and mash the large chunks before feeding.

Raw Chicken, Liver, & Heart

This recipe can make use of the liver and heart of any animals you are butchering, and some cooked chicken. You’ll need:

  • 2 pounds of bone-in raw chicken thigh
  • 3 ounces raw chicken liver
  • 6 ounces raw chicken heart

Grind all the ingredients in a heavy duty meat grinder and feed.

Rabbit Feed

Rabbit is an ideal meat for your cats. It’s a great proportion of muscle meat, organs, and edible bone. You’ll need:

  • One rabbit (organs and bone included)
  • Grind the rabbit. Feed in appropriate sized portions.

Transitioning Feed

If your animals are currently on a commercially prepared diet, you’re going to want to stockpile a bit. That way you can slowly transition to this new way of eating over the course of a month. Your animal’s system will adapt better when you go this route as opposed to a cold turkey switch.

Cats are especially prone to turning their nose up at unfamiliar food. You might consider feeding your cat one of the above recipes for one meal a week now. That way when a crisis arises, the new food won’t be completely new.

Long-Term Feeding Tips

When you’re preparing for your pet, you’re going to want to make some long-term plans. Most pets will be a part of your family for many years, so think beyond a year or two.

If you have the space and ability, raising your own rabbits or chickens will help feed your pets along with the rest of your family. You can also let your animals hunt, keeping the rodent population down around your homestead.

By canning your own meat now, you’ll be able to build a stock-pile of meat. This can be used as a supplement to your pet’s diet when necessary.

If you have a dog, as you build your food storage, throw in extra rice and vegetables. Stored properly, dry rice and canned or dehydrated vegetables will last a long time.

Don’t Forget the Water!

Just like you need plenty of water for survival, your pets do too. It’s essential that you have a water supply on hand that’ll meet the needs of everyone in the household and all your animals.

Do you have a backup water plan? Do you have a way to filter water? Start making plans now before it’s too late.

homemade dog food

Do You Make Your Own Pet Food?

By thinking outside of kibble, you can make a viable long-term feeding plan for all the pets in your life.

Do you make your own pet food? What are your solutions for long-term feeding? I’d love for you to share additional tips and tricks in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Basic Survival Food From Your Garden: Beans

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Survivopedia beans

As homesteaders, and preppers, we’re always looking for things that are versatile, easy to store and carry, and cheap.

Well, there’s one food that meets all of these criteria and then some: beans. They have a ton of health and survival benefits and are easy to grow and dry.

To Bean or Not to Bean? 

Why you should grow or stockpile beans for survival? There are at least four reasons to include beans in your stash.

High Protein

You can grow a beautiful garden and have a ton of veggies and fruits stored, but you likely won’t have much high-quality meat if the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) happens.

You can always hunt for it if it’s safe or even possible, but it’s good to have a substitute on hand. Beans have more than enough protein to get you through; 14-16 grams per cup.

One concern though; unlike meat, beans aren’t a complete protein; they lack a few essential amino acids. Pair them with brown rice, oatmeal, nuts or other plant-based proteins and you’ll round it out. In fact, beans and rice is a great carb/protein/fiber combination packed with vitamins and minerals that will feed a ton of people for practically nothing.

Packed with Fiber

Foods high in soluble fiber are beneficial for several reasons that are beneficial for us, especially in a survival situation. Fiber keeps your digestive tract clean, which helps prevent all sorts of illnesses from constipation to colon cancer.

Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and carry them out of your body, so it naturally lowers cholesterol (goodbye statins that won’t be available if SHTF) and helps prevent heart disease.

Fiber helps you stay fuller longer because it takes longer to digest. Because of this, beans have a low glycemic index, which means that they’re good for diabetics. This could be critical in a survival situation when insulin may not be available. Bonus: if you’re trying to lose weight, feeling full longer helps keep you from overeating.

That’s always a good thing!

Packed with Nutrients and Antioxidants

Beans have a ton of minerals including folate, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium and zinc. All of these are considered minerals that most people don’t eat enough of, so beans can help round out your diet now and keep you healthy when SHTF.

Beans contain antioxidants, specifically phytosterols and isoflavones, that protect your body from all sorts of illnesses, including different types of cancer, premature aging, and cardiovascular disease.

Beans are Versatile

You can do a kazillion things with beans. You can make baked beans, ham beans, bean soup, bean dip, refried beans, beans for salad; the list goes on. It would be hard to get tired of beans, especially if you have a variety of them.

OK already – beans are good for you, but how do you turn those beans in your garden into those nice dried beans found in the grocery isle that will keep forever? You’re going to be surprised how easy it is.

What Kind of Beans Should you Grow?

Honestly, I personally don’t grow beans because the yield doesn’t merit the effort right now. For instance, you’ll have to grow at least 25 pinto bean plants to yield 1 lb. of beans, and that’s assuming maximum yield. It may take more than 100 plants to yield that.

To put it in perspective, you’d need about a 10-foot row to yield 1 pound. Of course, if you’re in a survival situation and live on a large lot of land (which I don’t have at the moment), then you may want to plant them. Right now, I’d rather use that space to grow veggies I can preserve and just buy my beans.

But if you do decide to grow beans, here you go: Good dry beans include pintos, great northerns, cranberries, limas, kidneys, garbanzos and navys.

types of beans

Dry beans grow best in warm, dry climates and need good draining soil to keep from molding before they germinate. You may want to start your beans inside because you can’t put them outside until the threat of frost has passed. Also, you want them to mature in the fall because they won’t drop pods if the temperature is above 80 degrees. F.

Grow them in full sun and keep the soil around them loose, well-drained, and well fertilized with your compost. Depending on the bean, they’ll take from 70-120 to reach harvest. In warm, dry climates, the beans will likely dry themselves right on the plant; when the leaves have turned brown and the pods are crunchy, try the beans. They’re ready if you can’t bite them.

You want to get them in before the frost or fall rains even if they’re not dry yet; hang them in the barn or cellar or somewhere else where it’s dry until they’re ready to store. You could also spread them out on a flat screen in the sunshine or another warm place. Pods will split open when they’re completely dry.

You’ll have to remove them from the shells (thus the name “shell beans”) then remove the thresh from them, then store them in an airtight container.

Beans grow great next to bush beans, cucumbers, corn, potatoes, rosemary, strawberries and celery. Don’t plant them with onions, kohlrabi, or beets. Also, don’t

The good thing about storing (or growing) beans now is that if you need them, they’re versatile. You can sprout them to make great, protein- and nutrient-rich salad ingredients. You can also use them to feed your livestock – check out my article on 14 Cheap Ways to Feed Your Chickens.

The plant scraps make good scratch for your chickens, too.

Some Beans Make Good Flours

If it comes down to it, beans can make a great, protein-rich flour. Garbanzo flour is popular today with organic bakers, especially for people who are gluten-intolerant.

The downside to this is that beans are tough to grind into flour – you’ll need a home mill because, unlike herbs, you can’t grind them in your blender or coffee mill. Again, it will take a ton (not literally) of beans to make even a pound of flour, so you may just want to buy it.

Beans belong in your stockpile, in large quantities if you’re prepping for a long-term survival event. When cooking them, remember that they contain a mild toxin that causes gastrointestinal issues such as gas and bloating. Kidney beans contain a more extreme toxin and eating raw or undercooked kidney beans can make you extremely ill, and can even kill you.

beans

Read our article How to Rehydrate And Prepare Your Preserved Food to avoid the mistake some people are making when cooking dried beans.

If you want to grow them, you’re not alone – many people enjoy growing beans. Be aware though that if you’re going to do it, plant plenty of them because the yield is low.

Beans really are the ideal survival food. They’re nutritious, versatile, cheap, lightweight, and easy to store. Plus, they keep for a long time.

If you’ve grown dry beans, please tell us about what types of beans you grew, what problems, if any, you had, and what your yield was in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Here’s The Right Way To Build A Chicken Coop!

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chicken coop small

If you have a hammer and nails or a good drill, and a weekend afternoon, you can build your own chicken coop, spending less than the price of a new one or even for free.

Craigslist and local retail outlets are often a good source of used pallets, empty wooden crates and other scrap wood that you can get for free or at a minimal cost. You just need to know how to do it!

Chicken wire can be affordably sourced at a local hardware or farm supply store, along with a few hinges and a lock. With an afternoon of labor you can have a secure chicken coop for a handful of laying hens.

Here’s a really cool infographic from Urban Chickens Network about steps to take when building a chicken coop!

chicken coop

This article has been written by Gabrielle Ray for Survivopedia.

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Prep Blog Review: Meal Ideas + How To Store Them

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PBR_Food_Big

Being able to independently feed our families is the main focus of self-sufficiency. Whether you call this prepping, gardening, or animal farming, that’s the goal.

The main issues I encounter when it comes to food is lack of money and storage.

Here are some useful tips I could find this week, on this topic. If you have any other suggestions (you can also check this and this), let me know in the comments section. Remember, we’re in this together!

1. 15 Common Food Storage Mistakes To Avoid

food prep“Coming to terms with a realistic food storage strategy can be tough.  Everyone seems to have an opinion whether it is to focus primarily on store-bought canned goods, commercially packaged freeze-dried products, or food that is preserved at home using a pressure canner.  Each has advantages and disadvantage in terms of space, cost, portability, and convenience. Regardless of your stand on food storage, there is a common thread among all preppers.  We want our food storage to remain viable and nutritious for the longest period possible.”

Read more on Backdoor Survival.

2. 10 Best Survival Foods at Your Grocery Store

food prep

“An emergency can strike without warning and unfortunately, most people find out too late that they are missing the essential supplies. Far too many times you’ve seen on the news how people line up in front of grocery stores hoping to get some last minute survival foods. If you end up doing the same, you should at least know what to buy for your grocery store.”

Read more on Prepper’s Will.

3. How to Make Ezekiel Bread

food prep

“Several years ago Julie posted about an Ezekiel Bread Recipe that one of our readers shared on Facebook and asked someone to try for her since she didn’t have a wheat grinder. I recently started a new eating plan and one of the recommended foods for my carbohydrates is Ezekiel Bread. I knew I needed to finally try this recipe for myself as it makes way more sense to rotate through my grains and legumes as opposed to buying this expensive bread from the store.”

Read more on Food Storage Made Easy.

4. Garlic-Dill Sauerkraut

food prep

“I have converted several self-professed haters of sauerkraut with this garlic-dill blend. It tastes just like dill pickles. And almost everyone likes dill pickles, including kids.

People who tell me they hate sauerkraut often also say they want to like it because of the many health benefits that lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut offer.”

Read more on Zero Waste Chef.

5. Lacto Fermented Garlic Scape Recipe

food

“It’s garlic scape season! Garlic scapes are the edible flower stalk of hard-neck garlic that shoot up in late May or early June. It is important to remove the scapes so the garlic plant can put its energy into developing beautifully big bulbs. (Check out my Ultimate Guide to Growing Garlic for more information on growing great garlic!) Luckily, garlic scapes are intensely flavored, delicious, and versatile, and taste wonderful in a variety of dishes, including this lacto fermented garlic scape recipe.”

Read more on Homestead Honey.

Prep Blog Review Bonus: Food Storage Calculator

Fill all the info required and click on the “Calculate My Food Storage Needs” button @ Ready Nutrition

For even more back to basic tips on the matter, click on the banner below:

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This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia

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Progress on the Chickens

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Made some progress on the chickens this week and went to have a look at some of the options available at a few farms. The Rhode Island Reds were pretty much a given as they seem to come recommended by everyone and crossed with Marans give the famous Warrens. Not that I have any Marans […]

Hardtack: A Simple DIY Survival Food From History

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Survivopedia homemade hardtack

With only two ingredients and a little time you can stockpile a survival food that’s been used for centuries. Let’s take a lesson out of the history books and learn from various soldiers, sailors, and explorers throughout time.

It’s time to look at hardtack.

Hardtack is a simple survival food. It’s really inexpensive to create, and lasts for years. In fact, there’s still some on display from the Civil War that’s still good.

The most basic of recipes call for only two ingredients: all-purpose flour and water.  Other recipes call for additional ingredients, but the basic recipe has stood the test of time. We’ll start with that one.

Hardtack provided nutrition for hard times throughout history. It’s a good source of carbohydrates. If you keep it and protein-rich pemmican in your bug out bag, you’ll have sustenance to keep you alive for a while.

It’s also a good addition to your supply of emergency food. You just have to ensure you keep it away from pests and moisture. If the bugs get it, you’ll find weevils living in your stored food. If the hardtack gets wet, it’s prone to mold.

Making Hardtack

corbis imagesHardtack is simple to prepare. Before you begin, turn your oven on to 350 degrees.

It won’t take long to mix your hardtack up and you want your oven ready when you are.

Now, get yourself a big bowl. Measure out two cups of all-purpose flour and dump in.

Next, slowly add a half-cup of water and stir.

Keep adding water, a tablespoon or two at a time.

Your goal is to achieve a thick dough that’s just slightly sticky. A thick playdough type consistency.

While many recipes tell you exactly how much water to add, it really varies quite a bit. Your humidity, the dryness of your flour, and the type of flour you’re using all play an important role.

A rough estimate is ½ the amount of flour. So for two cups of flour, you’d need about one cup of water.

If you accidentally add too much water and your dough is pasty, just add some more flour. Once it’s the right consistency, mix it for a couple of minutes. This will ensure your moisture is evenly distributed throughout the whole batch.

Now it’s time to roll out your dough. A rolling pin works best, but in a pinch you can just pat it out with your hands. You’ll want to roll the dough until it’s somewhere between ½ an inch and a ¼ of an inch thick. Any thicker, and it’ll be even harder to eat when it’s dried.

Once it’s thin enough, you can cut the dough. A pizza cutter works really well, but so does a sharp knife. If you want your hardtack to look uniform, you can pull out a ruler and cut it into 3X3 pieces. Or use a biscuit cutter and have round pieces. Otherwise, just cut it into rectangles that are roughly the same size.

Grab a chopstick or a clean nail, and dock each piece. Docking means you poke holes in it, but don’t go all the way through. You’ll want to poke about sixteen holes in each piece, with four rows of four. It’ll resemble a modern day saltine cracker.

Then flip over each piece and dock the other side. Docking your hardtack will keep it from puffing up in the oven. It’ll also help ensure the moisture gets out by allowing the steam to escape.

Place your docked hardtack pieces on a cookie sheet. You’ll want to bake them for 30 minutes. When the time is up, remove and flip over each piece.

Bake them for another 30 minutes before removing them from the oven. They should be fairly hard at this point.

You’ll want to set your hardtack pieces on a rack to continue drying. Let them sit out at room temperature for a couple of days. They’ll be hard as bricks when they’re fully dry.

Storing Hardtack

Proper storage is essential for optimal shelf-life. You can pack the hard tack into glass Mason jars, or metal tins. These will keep the moisture out better than regular Ziploc style bags.

You can also store them in vacuum-sealed bags. No matter how you keep them, you want to prevent moisture and bugs from getting in.

Video first seen on SNO Multimedia.

Eating Hardtack

Now that you know how to make and store hardtack, let’s talk about storage. While hardtack will help your belly feel full in an emergency situation, it can be difficult to eat. That’s because it’s so hard.

Back in the day, this survival food was commonly called “tooth-breakers.” Make sure you don’t bite into it directly with your front teeth. They can break.

Of course if you’re a parent to a baby, you’ll find a benefit from the hardness. A chunk of hardtack makes a good teething biscuit. Just be sure to provide supervision with it to ensure a small chunk doesn’t break off and become a choking hazard.

If you don’t desire to simply gnaw on a chunk of hardtack all day, there are other ways to eat it. Here are a few common methods:

Soaking

As hardtack sits in moisture, it absorbs it and becomes softer. You can soak your piece in just about anything. Coffee, soup, and water have all been used historically.

Another benefit of soaking the hardtack is bug removal. During early wars, proper storage wasn’t always possible. Weevils became prevalent in this grain-based ration.

Once placed in liquid, the bugs began to float to the top. Diners could easily scoop them off the top and discard them before eating.

Frying

After cooking up salt pork, soaked hardtack can be fried in the grease. This adds flavor and fat, helping to make it more palatable.

As a Thickener

You can crumble your hardtack with a pestle and mortar. If you don’t have one accessible, you can take a lesson from soldiers and hit it with the barrel of your rifle until it breaks. Once it’s powdery, you can stir it into a stew. It’ll act as a thickener and add some caloric bulk to your recipe.

As a Holder for Spreads

Many people have used hardtack as a bread of sorts. When you add a moisture-rich spread like soft cheese, honey, or peanut butter and jelly, the moisture will slowly soften your hardtack.

Using Hardtack Creatively

You don’t have to be limited to the above recipes when eating hardtack. With a little creativity, you can turn these hard squares of dried flour into many dishes. Here are two more ideas for you to try.

Slather it with pizza sauce and toppings and make yourself a mini-pizza. Just be sure to cut it before consuming so you don’t break a tooth.

Soak your hardtack overnight in buttermilk. In the morning, fry it up in butter or bacon grease. Serve with maple syrup and call it a pancake.

Recipe Variations

Since basic hardtack tastes a lot like flour, many variations of the original recipe have crept up. While the addition of salt, seasoning, oil, or protein powder may improve the taste, they do have an impact on long-term storage ability.

If you decide to make a batch of one of these recipes, inspect your hardtack closely before consuming. Make sure it’s still hard and hasn’t started to go soft. Be on the lookout for any mold growth. You might even decide to make a new batch every year or so, just to ensure your supply is good when you need it.

Adding Salt

To your original recipe, just add 2 teaspoons of salt. Then, continue as directed above. It’ll help improve the flavor.

Adding Seasoning

Hardtack is pretty bland. You can add some other seasonings like garlic or onion powder to the original recipe to enhance the flavor. Feel free to add your favorite seasoning blends as well.

You can even experiment a bit within a single batch. Before you roll it out, break your dough into smaller chunks. Add different seasonings to each, and then continue with the recipe. This will allow you to take notes on what you like or don’t like before committing to making an entire batch.

Adding Fats

Several recipes online call for the addition of about a tablespoon of shortening, butter, or oil. While the added fat would help improve the texture, it is prone to becoming rancid. This addition is better served for short-term storage.

Substituting the Flour

All-purpose flour is not the most nutritious flour out there. But, it stores well since most of the oil from the bran has been removed. By simply experimenting with the flour you use, you can change up your hardtack.

Give whole-wheat flour a try to increase the nutrients. Try substituting a cup of flour for a cup of cornmeal. Or a cup of protein powder to add protein to your emergency ration.

Hardtack is an excellent DIY addition to your survival food stores. When properly stored, it can be added to this list of foods that’ll last longer than you do!

Have you made hardtack? With the endless variations, I know I didn’t cover them all. What are your favorite additions or ways to use your hardtack?

Leave a comment below and share your tips with all the readers. And click on the banner below to get more tips on how our ancestors survived!

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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How To Dry Can Food For Survival

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Survivopedia dry canning

Wouldn’t it be great to just reach for a jar and know that all you had to do was add water, juice or broth and everything would be ready to cook? Dry canning is also a good way to extend the life of some dehydrated foods and to keep your dried goods fresh and bug-free.

I have some great tips and instructions to help you get started with your own dry canning projects.

What is Dry Canning?

Dry canning, also referred to as dry packing, has essentially the same purpose as traditional water bath canning: you want to extend the life of the food by storing it in sealed jars so that bacteria that can cause illness or spoilage can’t get in. Dry-canned foods can be good for 30 years or more as long as the seal remains intact.

The difference, as the name suggests, is that you’re not going to be using any type moisture; not in the food or in the process. In fact, the idea of dry canning is to keep moisture OUT. There are a couple of different methods that you can use to dry can your dried goods.

Note to Keep You from Drying Painfully

Yeah, the heading got your attention, didn’t it? Because we’re dealing with canning dried goods, we have to talk about botulism. I’ve talked about it in other articles, including my one on canning meat, but it bears repeating. Botulism spores thrive in high-moisture, low-salt, low-acid environments.

Any food with a pH lower than 4.6 is considered low-acid. This includes most vegetables, some fruits such as pears and bananas, and all meats. Drastically reducing the risk of botulism is one of the main reasons that most water traditional canning recipes call for adding lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to the food when you can it.

Dehydrating is a good way to preserve low-acid foods too. The key to doing it safely is to dry it until it has less than 10 percent moisture; a good rule of thumb is that the food snaps in half when it’s done. Grains will be hard and unable to bite.

freezing vs drying

Dry Canning Using Oxygen Absorbers

This is the preferred method for a lot of preppers because it’s easy and it’s thorough. Basically, you have two options.

First, you can use standard mason jars. Sterilize your jars and seals, add the dried food, then toss in an oxygen absorber before you put the seals and lids on. Make sure that your jars and seals are dried well after you sterilize them. You don’t need the seal to be hot when you put it on the jar; the oxygen absorber will seal it cold.

You can also use Mylar bags and food-grade buckets. Put your food and oxygen absorbers into the bags, seal them, then store them in the bucket.

The oxygen absorber isn’t edible but it’s not toxic, either. The active ingredient is iron oxide, so it doesn’t release any type of harmful gas and doesn’t affect the taste or smell of the food. It’s a great way to preserve any type of dried food from flour to cold cereal. You can use these to preserve your dried meats, too.

Just remember that if you’re dry-canning dehydrated meat, your shelf life still isn’t going to be as long as other foods because usually meat still contains enough moisture or fat to spoil or go rancid eventually. Trimming as much fat and tendon off the meat and dehydrating it after soaking it for 24 hours in a high-salt, high-acidic marinade helps extend the shelf life of your meat, too.

Some sites will tell you that it’s OK to use hand warmers to dry-can your food, but it’s not. That’s fine to use with your guns, ammo, and other non-food items that need to stay dry, but it’s not food-safe.

You can also store foods in PETE plastic bottles using oxygen absorbers. They’re lighter and less bulky than mason jars. Make sure that the bottles have screw on lids with plastic or rubber seals in them. To test to see if your bottle will seal, screw the lid on and submerse it in water. Squeeze. If air rushes out of the bottle and you get bubbles, the bottle won’t work. Just make sure that the bottles and lids are sterile before you pack them.

Dry Canning Using Vacuum Sealers

Did you know that you can use your vacuum sealer to seal dried foods in mason jars? Well, now you do. You can get a jar sealer for your vacuum sealer and suck all of the air right out. The jar will seal and you’ll be good to go. This isn’t great for powdery substances but is OK for foods such as beans, pasta, etc. The powdery stuff gunks up your machine.

One word of warning here: this is a good method if you’re just shooting for storage of foods such as flour that you don’t really have to worry about spoiling, but it doesn’t necessarily get enough air out to prevent the growth of mold. You need less than .02% oxygen for that and there’s not really any way to know how much oxygen is left in the jar with vacuum sealers.

Many people assume that as long as the jar is sealed, the food is safe, and usually that’s correct but there’s always that one-in-a-thousand chance that it’s not. Oxygen absorbers, when used as directed, take oxygens levels down to about .01 percent.

Dry Canning in the Oven

This is one of those topics where people stand on either side of the creek and throw rocks at each other. There are those who swear that they’ve safely preserved their dried goods using this method for years without a problem. On the other side, there are those who say it’s dangerous and should never be done.

As with everything, both sides are right. You can dry can in the oven for years with no problems, but there’s always the chance that the jars are going to explode in the heat.

Now I will lean slightly in the direction of the naysayers in one area: foods that have more than 10% moisture or have any significant fat content (including nuts) shouldn’t be dry-canned because the chance of bacterial growth or rancidity. You also can’t dry-can brown sugar and you absolutely CAN NOT replace water bath or pressure canning wet foods with oven canning.

Personally, I’ve dry-canned flour and some blended recipes in the oven and haven’t had a problem. Of course, I’m super cautious and use common sense. Besides the whole fat and moisture thing, I also never let my jars heat or cool too quickly, but then again, I do the same thing when I’m canning wet foods.

The theory that the jars will explode because of the heat bemuses me a bit because I put them in a pressure canner and expose them to an environment that, to me, is much more severe than a 200-degree oven. However, you’re on your own here. Do it at your own risk, as you do everything.

If you decide to dry can using your oven, here’s how to do it:

  • I’m weird about bacteria and you should be, too. I always sterilize my jars before I do anything with them; even dry-can. Just let them dry for several hours because they need to be thoroughly dry.
  • One of the biggest issues that many naysayers have about dry canning is that oven temps vary so the food may not reach a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. I’m pretty sure this one’s covered by using my oven thermometer. You should probably do the same.
  • Place your clean jars on the counter with a cookie sheet at the ready. Using a funnel if you’d like, fill them with your dry food of choice (beans, flour, brownie mix, pasta, whatever), leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.
  • GENTLY tap the jar on the counter when you think that it’s full to help the product settle so that you can pack them as tightly as possible. This also helps remove air pockets.
  • Wipe the rim with a dry (or SLIGHTLY damp) cloth to get any crumbs or dust off of the rim and set the jar on the cookie sheet.
  • Repeat until all jars are full.
  • Place in the oven and set it at 200 degrees. Note that I didn’t say to preheat the oven – you want the jars to heat gradually, remember?
  • Watch your oven thermometer. When it reaches 200 degrees, set your timer for 1 hour.
  • At the end of the hour, remove the first jar. Don’t take them all out at once for 2 reasons. First, if you’re like me, you’ll drop the sheet and waste all of your work. Plus, you’ll likely end up with all of that broken glass that you’re trying to avoid. Second, you want each jar to remain hot until you’re ready to put the seal on it.
  • Lay a dish towel out where you’re going to be cooling the jars. Wipe the rim of the jar again, gently, and place the seal on it. Put the band on securely but not overly tight. Set it on the dish towel.
  • Repeat with each jar, then turn off the oven.
  • Cover the jars with a lightweight towel and let them cool for several hours or overnight. (I use the same method with my water-canned foods. It was just the way I was taught in order to prevent the glass from cooling too quickly. Again, this may be overkill on my part, but I do it anyway.)
  • If you made a mix, such as biscuit mix or soup mix, attach a recipe to the jar. Otherwise, just label and date it like you do your other canned goods.

Test your jars to make sure that they’ve sealed. Just as with water canning, you may hear the ping or you may not. Touch the top to see if the seal is pulled in and can’t be pushed in with your finger. Store jars that don’t seal in the pantry and use them first.

If you have a problem with the seal, you likely didn’t get the rims clean enough.

Storing our food long-term is critical to our survival if SHTF and we lose our modern sources of food. Dry canning food is also a good way to save money because food is almost always cheaper when you buy it in bulk. Oh, and don’t forget bugs. Maybe it’s just me, but weevil pancakes are gross even though they are a source of protein.

If you’ve dry canned using any of the methods above or have any other ideas or questions about dry canning, please share it in the comments section below! And click on the banner to get more about ancient ways to preserve food and water!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

References:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/sanitation/low-acid-vegetables-botulism/

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Survival Gardening: What Grows Where

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SVP what grows whereWhich crops grow best? How long is the growing season? When is the last average frost date (assuming you aren’t living in a tropical zone)?

These are the sorts of questions to start with when planning your survival garden.

And you really need this knowledge, because even experienced gardeners find themselves overwhelmed when trying to grow food in a completely new climate.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide standard of splitting the country up into 11 basic hardiness zones based on the area’s coldest average temperatures in winter. Their interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map is therefore an excellent place to start.

plant hardiness zone map - CopyHow Do I know My Climate Zone?

Once you know your region’s USDA climate zone, you can identify the factors that influence your survival crops, such as how long winters last, how cold it gets, the length of the growing season, and which food crops can and can’t thrive.

The USDA hardiness definitions and map does provide a great basic framework to get you started, but keep in mind that it does have its limitations. Hardiness is only measured by the coldest temperatures of the year, and it doesn’t take other climate factors into account. Still, you need to be aware of:

  • The amount of precipitation,
  • Humidity,
  • Maximum temperatures
  • Soil conditions.

Both the high deserts of New Mexico and much of Connecticut, for example, are USDA Zone 6a, but their climates are still completely different. If you happen to live in the western United States, for example, and you’d like a more specific climate zone map, Sunset’s detailed climate zone map takes much more into account, helping you pinpoint your area’s overall growing conditions.

Before you get planting, you should also be aware of micro-climates, which are basically mini-climate zones created by features like bodies of water, parking lots or, more likely, the walls of your home. Taking advantage of micro-climates in your garden can help ensure that you’re plantings will thrive.

For more information on your region’s growing conditions, as well as help with common pests, soil amendments and other gardening stuff, consider visiting a local nursery, botanical garden or County Extension Office.

What Grows Where?

Each USDA climate zone has its own planting schedule, and has two basic growing seasons: warm and cool. The cool growing season, perfect for growing carrots, greens and radishes, takes place every spring and fall, and sometimes winter in the warmer zones. The warm growing season, featuring tomatoes, corn and squash, gets going in late spring and lasts through early fall.

Growing seasons in the sub-tropics and the tropics work a little differently, as the growing season technically lasts all year. Their planting times are generally based around annual rainfall patterns.frost in us

Below is a basic overview of the 13 USDA plant hardiness zones. Note that you can extend your growing season by utilizing micro-climates and by offering protection from the cold with row covers or cold frames.

Zones 1-2

  • Located in Alaska, the northern continental US and high mountains, this zone is defined by long, cold winters and a very short growing season.
  • Growing season: April – September
  • Coldest temperatures: -60 to -40F
  • Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, other vegetables with short time between planting and harvest

Zones 3-4

  • Located in the northernmost US states and cool mountain regions, these zones enjoy a slightly warmer and longer growing season with very cold winters.
  • Growing season: April – October
  • Coldest temperatures: -40 to -20F
  • Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, sweet peas, pole beans, winter squash, red and white potatoes

zone4Zones 5-6

  • Encompassing much of the continental US, these planting zones stretch from Washington and Oregon, down to New Mexico, and across the midwest to New England.
  • Growing season: March – October
  • Coldest temperatures: -20 to 0F
  • Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, beans, strawberries, lettuce and other greens in the spring and fall

Zones 7-8

  • Defined by long, hot summers and mild winters, these zones cover much of the southern US, including the desert southwest and many southern states.
  • Growing season: March-November
  • Coldest temperatures: 0 to 20F
  • Best plants to grow: Corn, tomatoes, melons, squash, collard greens, carrots, bush beans, asparagus and leafy greens during the cooler months

Zones 9-10

  • These sub-tropical to mild temperate growing zones cover much of the deep South, the Gulf coast, most of Florida and southern California. If protection is offered, the growing season can last throughout the year, though the occasional frost may still occur.
  • Growing season: February-November
  • Coldest temperatures: 20 to 40F
  • Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, melons, squash, corn, peppers, yams, citrus, peaches, figs, bananas, salad greens and sweet peas during the cooler months

Zones 11-13

  • Found only in Hawaii and the US territory of Puerto Rico, these tropical growing zones feature a tropical climate and year-round growing season with planting times based around the wet and dry seasons.
  • Growing season: Year-round
  • Coldest temperatures: 40 to 70F
  • Best crops to grow: kale, okinawa spinach, pole beans, passionfruit, sweet potato, red potato, cassava, pineapple, pumpkin, mango, papaya, Thai chili peppers, citrus, bananas, taro
  • Crops to avoid: Any fruits requiring chill time, including berries, cherries, apples and peaches

Growing your own food is a fun, family-friendly hobby with tasty and nutritious rewards. Whether you’re a newbie trying out your first tomato plants, or a seasoned pro moving to a new state, understanding your garden’s climate zone is the first step towards planning and growing a successful, productive garden.

EMPCover1References:

http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

http://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zones/climate-zones-intro-us-map

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14 Cheap Ways To Feed Your Chickens

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SVP chicken on a budget

Owning chickens can be an expensive venture if you rely solely on purchased feed. Obtaining the feed will also be a problem if the transportation structure is disrupted. Since this is a real possibility, at least for a short period of time such as when storms strike, you need to know how to procure cheap food for your chickens.

In addition to being ready for an emergency, most folks who raise chickens in order to get “free” eggs and meat will tell you that those eggs cost at least as much as store-bought eggs. Most of this cost is attributed to the cost of feed so if you can lower that, then it can be financially beneficial to raise chickens.

The methods and foods that we discuss today will not only help in cases of emergency; they will also help decrease your costs to feed your chickens now.

Another bonus is that you’ll know exactly what your chickens are eating, and in turn, you’ll know what YOU are eating!

Allow Them in the Compost Pile

Allowing your chickens to scratch through your compost pile will help them because they’ll peck out what they like, including bugs and worms, and they’ll also turn it for you while they’re pecking.

Feed Your Chickens Table Scraps

Chickens eat just about anything, including fruit and vegetable cuttings or scraps, egg shells, and even meat scraps. Just keep a bucket by the sink and take it to them in the evening. As a matter of fact, if you crack the eggshells into pieces that they can eat, that will provide the same calcium that they get from oyster shells.

There are a few foods that your chickens shouldn’t have, though.

Survivopedia: 9 Foods to Avoid Feeding Chickens

Sprout Grains

Grains such as barley and hard red winter wheat, soft wheat, sunflower seeds, and oats are great for sprouting. Sprouts add extra nutrition and protein to your chickens’ diets and also make them happy, after they get used to the strangeness of it.

Most grains sprout in about 5 days and the process is simple, though it does take up some space. Spread the grains in seed trays and moisten them. Keep the layer between 1/4 and 1/2 inch deep. If you start a new tray every day for 5 days, then within 5 days, you’ll have a perpetual source of sprouted grains for your ladies.

Talk to Your Feed Store about Damaged Bags

During loading and unloading, bags often get ripped and the feed store is stuck with an unsellable product. Ask them about buying these at a discount, making sure that the bag is full enough to truly make it a deal.

Talk to Local Places for Free Food

Smoothie shops, gyms, vegetarian restaurants, co-ops, grocery stores and farmer’s markets are great places to look for scraps. Some areas have laws that prohibit restaurants and grocery stores from giving away old or damaged produce, but farmer’s markets and co-ops may be a little more willing to work with you.

If you have a local corn farmer, co-op or mill, ask them for the spillage, cracked corn leftovers, and older wheat that aren’t good for human consumption. Most will gladly give it to you for free and your chickens will be happy campers.

Let Them Till Your Garden

Once you harvest your garden, let the ladies loose to till it for you. They’ll eat the leftover plants and weeds as well as clean out the bugs.

Oh, and they’ll fertilize it for you as they go!

Free Range

Not everybody has this luxury, but if you can let your chickens wander the yard, do so. Of course, not every neighbor will appreciate it, and if you live in the country, they may be susceptible to roving bears, foxes and other critters that enjoy chicken as much as we do.

If you can’t let them free range, consider building a chicken tractor that will allow you to move their cage over the yard so that they can have access to fresh grass, bugs, and insects.

Feed Grass Clippings, Raked Leaves, and Garden Weeds

Your girls will love picking through the grass clippings and garden weeds and it’s a free source of nutrition. That fresh grass will help with nice, yellow yolks and the raked leaves make good cover for worms that they can peck for after it rains.

Feed Leftover Milk and Whey

If you have a milk cow, you’re likely drowning in milk unless you have a large family or are selling it.

Use some of that leftover milk for your chickens. It’s a decent protein source and if you allow to clabber a bit, you’ll give them an extra boost of probiotics which will help with their immune systems.

chicken feeding

Cull Your Flock

Yes, it’s one of the harder parts of growing chickens, but if a hen has greatly reduced egg production or is declining, it’s best to turn her into a nutritious soup instead of letting her wander around and eat without producing.

Grow Duckweed, Comfrey and Azola

Duckweed an Azola are water plants that are high in protein and vitamins, and your chickens will love them! You can grow them in a pond or a fish tank, though you won’t yield much in a tank.

Comfrey is an herb that grows on land and has several different medicinal uses, including making a great tea. It’s packed with protein for your girls, so it’s a great multi-use plant to have around.

Sell Your Eggs

Seems like a no-brainer and isn’t actually a way to create cheaper feed but now, in the real world, you can use the egg money to buy feed. If SHTF, you can trade the eggs for grain or other items that you need.

Ferment Your Feed

Fermenting your feed is much like processing the wheats used to make beer, minus the sugar. You wet it down and let it ferment. Fermenting your feed adds protein and probiotics and makes it easier to digest.

The probiotics help boost your chickens’ immune systems and a healthy chicken is a happy, productive chicken! An added bonus is that fermenting actually produces a pre-fertilized seed (if you use seeds) once it’s made its way from one end of your chicken to the other!

You can ferment your current food or use grains. Either way, this is how to do it:

  • Place the food in a quart jar or a plastic container with a lid (gallon or 5-gallon buckets are great). Don’t use metal. Your container size will depend upon how many chickens you have because you’re going to put 3-5 days’ worth of feed in it.
  • After you put the feed in the container, cover it with water so that there’s at least an inch of water above the top of the feed. Since the grain or feed will absorb the water, check it after a day or so and add more water if necessary. The layer of water helps keep it from molding.
  • The next day, do the same thing in a new container, and start a new one for a total of 5 days. Cover them with a towel or loose lid.
  • On day 4, feed the first batch to your girls an start a new batch in that container.

An alternative is to just make one big batch and keep adding water and grain to it  as you feed it. Since we only have a few chickens, the jars work best for us.

Grow Fodder

Growing fodder takes sprouting a step further. You actually grow the grass from the sprout until it’s a few inches tall, then feed the whole thing to your girls. They get the benefits of the grass, the seed and the roots, so it’s an extremely delicious and nutritious way to stretch your grain. You’ll get about 25 pounds of fodder from 5 pounds of grain and it only takes a few days.

Spread the seeds in a 1/4-1/2 layer in a pan with holes in it. You can build a stacking system using some PVC pipe so that you can water from the top and let it drain down through a few layers into a catch pan. Of course, you can use just the sprouts, too!

Did we miss anything about feeding your chickens on a budget? Do you know some old ways to feed the chicken healthy that we haven’t heard about?

If you have other ideas or want to share your knowledge, please do it in the comment section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Prep Blog Review: Survival Kitchen Tips

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PBR14May2016

No matter the progress we think we are making in our prepping, let’s not forget about priorities. We’ve covered water in our previous reviews – see this entry from last month and this one from last year.

So today I want to start a conversation about…food!

From making tasty and healthy recipes, to simply trying new things in the kitchen. I’m interested in as much good info as I can get. Something in the range of Alec Deacon’s How To Make Pemmican.

I want easy steps that I can follow, with what I have around the house or with what I can easily find at any store. Here’s what this last week offered:

1. Copycat Recipe: Olive Garden Bread Sticks

 survival kitchen tips

“Bread sticks…..especially Olive Garden’s garlicky, buttered bread sticks are a favorite in our house.  One of my 6 yr old twins regularly asks to go to Olive Garden just so he can have the bread sticks (and a bowl of olives…ha).  And bread sticks pair so well with so many dishes: Italian foods, chili, soup.  I’ve been buying some at the grocery store that we’ve been eating lately, but they just didn’t cut it.  I wanted something better….healthier, less processed, and more Olive Garden – like.”

Read more on Your Own Home Store.

2. Our Favorite Super Easy Banana Applesauce Bread Recipe

banana bread

“My kids love bananas.  Until they don’t.  And they never tell me when the banana consumption will spontaneously shut off, so occasionally, I’m left with a bunch of over ripe bananas.  When there are 4-5 of them, we make this amazing super simple banana applesauce bread.  It does help rotate some of your food storage items, but the recipe itself is not food storage friendly without some substitutions.  I’ll cover those at the end so you can make this out of food storage if you want to!”

Read more on Food Storage And Survival.

3. 24 Perfect Blueberry Recipes To Make With Your Harvest

24-Recipes-for-Blueberry-Pie-Day

“With the peak of blueberry season in sight why not prepare with all these great recipes? Homemade Recipes has put together a list of unique blueberry pie recipes worth going gaga over. So let’s roll up our sleeves and get baking!”

Read more on Pioneer Settler.

4. Easy To Make 4 Ingredient Appetizer Recipes

Crackers with ranch dressing

“I’m digging out my mom’s easy to make 4 ingredient appetizer recipes for you today. I have the PRINTABLE at the bottom of the post. I look at my mom’s recipe box every day sitting on a shelf in my living room. It’s truly a treasure. I only wish it had more recipes in it. I was busy working and thought my mom would live forever. I wish I had asked her for all of her recipes and written them down with her. Are you like me and can almost smell the homemade salads your mom made? I miss the freshly ground pork sausage my dad made. My parents would buy the pork on sale from a certain butcher and bring it home to grind and make the best sausage in the world. Dang, no one has that recipe! Oh, how I wish I had that one for sure!”

Read more on Food Storage Moms.

5. Turmeric-Tomato-Black Pepper Soup to Fight Cancer, Inflammation & More

 Soup-Potato

“Inflammation is the body’s first attempt at self-protection. In other words it is a first reaction generated by the body in response to an injury suffered. Inflammation does not mean infection, even when an infection causes inflammation. Infection is caused by a bacterium, virus or fungus, while inflammation is the body’s response to it.

Long-term inflammation are called Chronic inflammation. However, it can eventually cause several diseases and conditions, including some cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, atherosclerosis, periodontitis, and hay fever.”

Read more and on Blogs Natural News.

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This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia

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5 Forgotten Plants Our Ancestors Used For Food

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Big 5 Forgotten plants Our Ancestors Used For Food

What would you say if I told you that there were between 12k and 25k different enjoyably edible things on our planet but we only actually eat about 500 of them, at the most?

Our ancestors ate quite a larger range of foods than we do today, and many of them had medicinal as well as nutritional benefits.

Read on to learn more about these lost yummies.

I said “enjoyable” because there are actually as many as 100k edible organisms, but they don’t all taste that great. Since there are so many forgotten food options, we’ll focus on the ones that taste good. Many of these may even still be in your backyard, or in the woods around your house, but the value of them has been lost, many of them in just the last 120 years ago or so.

Egyptian Onions

Egyptian Onion

Also known as walking onions, these above-ground plants are perennial and the little onions grow just like flowers would on a regular shrub. The reason that they’re called walking onions are because the bulbs fall off and start a new plant the next spring. Walking onions were a staple in kitchen gardens through the 1800’s.

These onions taste stronger than regular onions but the entire plant is edible. The leaves are good to chop up and use as you would scallions, and the little onions are great for soups, stews, or pickling. The beauty here is that you don’t have to replant them in the spring as you would regular onions.

Walking out and picking a few onions off the nearest shrub is a lot easier than going to the garden and pulling them up, too!

You likely won’t see onions the first year but by the second, you will.

Borage

borage

This plant was another staple in our ancestors’ kitchen gardens and I’m not sure why it fell out of favor. It’s easy to grow and creates many seeds in the fall that you can dry for use the next season. It also has several purported health benefits, attracts bees, and repels the tomato hornworm, so it’s a good companion plant for your tomatoes.

Borage has thick, prickly, fuzzy, leaves and pretty purplish star-shaped flowers. Both the leaves and flowers are not only edible, they’re delicious and great for you. The young leaves and flowers have a light, cucumbery flavor that makes them good in salads. Older leaves can be cooked just like other leafy greens and the flowers can be candied, added to salads, and used to make syrup.

Borage is a good source of calcium potassium, iron, and all of the other nutrients found in leafy greens, as well as GLA, an essential omega-6 fatty acid. According to the University of Maryland, GLA helps fight inflammation, skin disorders, ADHD, arthritis, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and diabetes.

Historically, Borage was also used to treat skin complaints and promote breast milk production and reproductive plants as well as the aforementioned conditions.

Mugwort

mugwort

This aromatic has been used for centuries medicinally and is pretty good in a salad as well because it tastes like lettuce. There are several different species that are used but the one that’s most common in the US is called common mugwort or Common Wormwood. It’s prevalent in the Eastern and Northwestern US. It’s well adapted to grow in rocky soil.

The leaves are edible, with a slightly bitter flavor. They can be used in salads or cooked in soups and is also used to make tea and alcoholic beverages. They’re frequently dried and used as a meat and fish seasoning. You can eat the flowers, too.

Fun fact: mugwort was used before hops to make beer, and a cousin species of mugwort was used to make the hallucinogenic alcoholic drink, absinthe!

This may have originated because mugwort has long been used to aid in digestion. It’s commonly used to treat cramps, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritability. Be careful though; it’s used to treat menstrual cramps because it tightens the uterine muscles, which can cause abortion, especially in the first trimester.

Now, for some survivor and homesteading uses: the furry underside can be scraped off and used as tinder, the stalks are good for kindling and the dried leaves will keep a fire smoldering for a long time, and it’s also a natural insecticide.

Be careful growing mugwort because it will take over your garden if you’re not careful. Growing in pots is a good way to avoid this. Do your research on specific mugwort species because different species have different uses.

Purslane

Purslane

You probably have this plant growing on your property and don’t even know it! You know that succulent weed with pretty little yellow flowers that grows in your sidewalk cracks, or between bricks in your garden wall? Yup, that’s purslane. It’s been used for thousands of years in the Middle East as a food source and made its way to the US before Columbus did.

The side-walk purslane also has a sea-dwelling cousin that’s edible and both were a common food source for Native Americans, and later settlers and pioneers. Over the last century or so, purslane has mysteriously slipped from the pages of cookbooks to the pages of horticulture books, which is sad. The entire plant is edible.

Purslane is good in salads and the mucilage (slimy stuff) inside the leaves is a good thickener. Purslane was used to make beer before hops entered the picture.

The leaves are packed with omega-3s along with vitamins found in other leafy greens and have a lemony flavor. It’s often used in place of spinach or arugula in salads but can be cooked, too. It’s good in soups and the seeds can be ground into flour.

From a prepper’s point of view, purslane is valuable because it grows in arid or dry places where other edibles are scarce.

Salsify

Salsify

Salsify is a root vegetable that dates back to the 500’s.

It looks kind of like a white carrot. It’s white on the inside and beige on the outside.

Unlike carrots, the tops look more like dark, thick grass. It’s often called oyster plant because some say the taste is reminiscent of oysters, though others call it nutty tasting.

The root is cooked similarly to carrots; toss it in soups or roasts, cook them alone or mash them. The greens are the same as other greens; use them in salads, cook them down, or sauté them in butter. They taste similar to asparagus or chicory.

Nutritionally, they’re similar to other greens and are purported to help remove impurities from the blood. Salsify was a staple food for centuries and is now making a culinary comeback.

These are just a few of the staple foods of our ancestors that have been lost by the wayside in the name of processed foods and grocery stores. There are quite literally thousands of other foods that are edible but unknown to most palates, and we might be forced to use them to survive.

If you miss the knowledge to grow your own food, click on the banner below to find out more about how our ancestors used to grow food and be self-sufficient with amazing efficiency.

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And if you know of others, please share them with us in the comments section below!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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How To Slaughter And Skin A Cow

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Survivopedia slaughter cow

There’s no doubt that having fresh milk is a wonderful thing, and an awesome reason for keeping cows right now. Good meat is currently available cut and ready to toss on the grill or in the oven, so there’s not need to butcher your own cow right now.

But what if SHTF? Will you know how to turn that cow in the pasture into a steak in the freezer? After this post, you will.

Warning: Before reading this, you need to know that it’s a bit gory. You are, after all, taking a life animal’s life, disemboweling it, then removing its skin and cutting it into edible chunks. If reading that sentence makes you gag, you may want to stop reading because it’s going to get even more graphic from here on out.

Are you still with me? Good. Since I was raised on a farm, the circle of life is a natural thing to me. Animals are bred and born to provide us with some source of food. Eggs, milk, cheese, and meat.

Though butchering has never been one of my favorite parts of farming, it’s necessary and natural. The key is to do it humanely and properly so that the animal doesn’t suffer and the meat doesn’t go bad and make the death a waste.

We always had a firm policy on the farm for hunting and butchering; there were only three reasons to kill an animal: to eat it, to put it out of its misery, or as a last resort to protect life and limb. That’s it. Now, that being said, let’s get down to the business of butchering, and see what steps to follow.

1. Picking the Right Season

Now, there’s not always going to be this option, but ideally, you want to butcher when it’s cold but close enough to spring that you’re not going to have a 2-month-long freeze. This is because you’re going to hang the meat (more on this later) for at least a day or two and you don’t want heat or bugs to become an issue.

2. Preparing Your Tools

You’re going to need a loaded gun, rubber gloves and extremely sharp knives. A small butcher knife will do for now. A hay hook will come in handy, too.

3. Picking a Spot

You need to bring the cow to an area that’s clean and drains well. You also want the area to be accessible by backhoe or equipment that can at least lift the cow high enough for it to be fairly vertical. Finally, you’ll have to get the carcass out of the area, so pick a spot that meets all of those needs.

4. Killing the Cow

Bring the cow to the killing area. You want to kill it with one shot, humanely. To do that, mentally draw a line from the base of each ear to the inside corner of the opposite eye. Where the lines intersect is the kill spot.

Shoot the cow from a few feet away on that spot. If you’re not a competent shot or if you’re not comfortable doing this, ask somebody who possesses both qualities to do it for you. Now is no time for a shaky hand – you want to do the job with one shot.

cow head

Any gun from a .22 caliber and up will do. As soon as the cow drops, pull its head up to expose its throat. Slit its throat right behind its jaw clear through the carotid artery. At this point, the cow is brain dead but its heart may still be beating a bit, which will help pump all of the blood out of the body. This will make for a much cleaner slaughter in the following steps.

A cow has A LOT of blood, so it will likely take a half hour or so for it to bleed out. There may be some thrashing in the beginning, but as long as you shot it properly, it’s brain dead and not suffering.

5. Gutting the Cow

This part is where things start to get a bit messy. We always “bunged” the cow – cut around the anus and tie off the end of the intestine so that fecal matter doesn’t get into the cavity and contaminate the meat.

Now roll the cow over on its back and make an incision from the sternum to the anus. Make this incision as shallow as possible; you only want to cut through the  thin stomach muscles, not into the guts.

Hopefully you have help; if so, have them hook the hay hook through the stomach hide and muscles on the top side, if the cow has rolled onto its side, or on the far side away from you. Have them pull the skin and muscle back so that you have access to the innards. If you’re going to be using the heart, liver or other organs, now is the time to get them.

You can start rolling them out from the front back now but you don’t have to get them completely out because you’re going to be lifting the cow in a minute and gravity will pull the rest of them out.

Next, make a slice between the bone and the tendon of each of the cow’s rear legs, right above the joint that holds the hoof. Be careful not to slice through the tendon because you’re going to need its strength to hang the cow. Slide a sturdy piece of wood or pipe through the slits and attach the ends to a hoisting line, which you’ll attach to your come-along.

Now of course if you don’t have equipment, this next step is going to be hard work because you’re going to manually toss the line over a limb, or through the rings on a tripod, and hoist the cow up so that it’s hanging. You can also use a manual come-along.

If you have the equipment, you can attach the end of the line to your come-along and pull the cow over an extremely sturdy tree limb (it’s going to be holding a cow!) or you can use a large tripod made for this.

Be aware, because once the cow starts lifting, the rest of the innards are going to flop out and if you’re in the line of fire, you’re going to need a shower!

When you have the cow hung, it’s time to start skinning it.

6. Skinning the Cow

If you’re going to be using the hide (of course you are!), you need to skin it carefully so that you don’t puncture the hide. Make cuts all the way around the rear legs just above (well, below, now) the hock. Make a cut that goes through the hide but not into the meat down the inside of the leg to the cut that you made for the anus. Cut off the tail at the base.

Using an EXTREMELY sharp skinning knife, start separating the hide from the meat, starting at the cuts that you made on the rear legs. You’ll notice that the skin starts to kind of peel off – use that space to continue skinning. Work your way around the cow so that the hide is coming off evenly all the way around it.

When you get to the head and front legs, make a cut in the hide all the way around the head and all the way around each front leg above the knee. Some people just make the cut at the top of the leg but I like to get that extra little bit of hide if possible.

Cut up the inside of the front legs to the incision that you made when gutting the cow. Next, complete the cut from the sternum to the cut that you just made around the neck. Finish removing the skin.

Now it’s time to take the carcass to the barn or wherever you’re going to hang it. The easiest way to do that is to quarter it, but that’s a story for another article!

There are many different methods to killing, slaughtering, and skinning a cow. The guys from the video below are doing it a little bit different, according to they means and available equipment, but you still got the idea, don’t you?

Video first seen on TheFlyingKiwi.

I know that the content of this article is a bit sensitive but having fresh, nutrient-rich meat for your family will make it all worth it. If you don’t want to do it now, that’s fine, but if SHTF, it’s a skill that will come in handy.

I may have left something out because the process is so familiar to me. But if you have any comments or alternate methods to share, please do so in the comments section below!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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9 Ways To Grow Food On The Down-Low

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 9 Ways to Gardening

As the world around us grows more unstable, we as preppers have recognized the need to be prepared if SHTF. One of our major concerns is having enough food to feed ourselves and our families long-term and there are two issues that stand in our way.

First, it’s tough to grow food in urban areas because of space limitations and government regulations. You already know how the government is using different regulations aiming to ban self-sufficiency.

Second, regardless of where we live, we don’t want everybody to know that we have food stored away because if things go sideways, it will be every man for himself and hungry people are desperate people.

The solution to both concerns is learning unconventional, sustainable ways to grow food under the radar. I’ve done my homework and have some solutions that I’d like to share with you.

Growing “Ornamental” Food

pepper plant

Growing food that looks ornamental has two major advantages over growing a traditional garden. First, it satisfies urban or home owner’s association requirements for an attractive yard. It also produces food in a way that your neighbors won’t likely notice.

There are many ornamental, edible plants that you can grow in raised beds, as ground cover, in vertical beds, or as trees and bushes. Plants such as strawberries, peppers, berries, cabbage, tomatoes, herbs and fruit trees are all examples of ways to grow ornamental food that supplies you with edibles in a manner that people won’t even suspect.

We’ve outlined a couple of these methods here, and here.

Grow Food Indoors

hydroponic indoor

Believe it or not, you can grow plenty of food inside, even if you don’t have much space.

Though you may not be able to grow enough to sustain yourself completely, what you grow will certainly add to your stockpile.

You’re going to be surprised by some of the ideas that I’m going to suggest.

You have the obvious ways, of course. You can grow plants in planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. A few examples of food that can be grown indoors includes herbs of any sort, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, and peppers.

Examples of not-so-common ways to grow food inside include using hydroponics, which don’t require dirt, and aquaponics. You can actually grow plants and edible fish and plants in your fish tank!

Growing food inside is the ultimate way to keep nosy neighbors and interfering governments and associations out of your garden and you can grow food year-round for both food and medicine.

Privacy Fences and Shrubs

peas

Though this isn’t a fool-proof way to keep neighbors from peeking at what you’re doing, it IS a good way to keep roving strangers in the dark, especially if you’re using plants that are ornamental as well as edible.

Who’d think that those beautiful hanging and vertical plants are actually food sources?

Grow a Roof-Top Garden

high gardening

Don’t laugh – would YOU look on somebody’s roof for food? Probably not, and neither would most other people. Especially considering that most people who are unprepared likely haven’t researched creative ways to grow food, a roof-top garden is going to be completely out of their line of sight.

But believe me when I tell you that it’s possible, and it’s not rocket science!

Growing a roof-top garden only requires a flat roof. It can be your barn, your apartment building roof, or any other roof that you have on your property. If you’re building a new structure on your property, consider building it in such a way that you have an out-of-sight place to grow some container plants.

If the roof is sturdy enough to hold dirt, and is under your control, you can actually put an entire garden up there.

Aquatic Gardening

koi fish

You know that pond you have out back? Oh wait, you don’t have one? Then how about building one? Even a koi-style pond can be used to grow food hydroponically or aquaponically.

There are many aquatic plants and fish that can be grown in a relatively small space. You can even grow standard plants using aquatic gardening by planting them in floating planters.

Best of all, nobody would suspect that your entire beautiful pond is a food source for you. If you do your research, you’ll find that many aquatic plants are packed with vitamins and minerals, and you can use a variety of edible creatures including fish, shrimp, and snails.

The water in your pond is also a great fertilizer. Oh, and you can do this indoors on a smaller scale.

Underground or Basement Gardening

basement

We’ve all heard about people growing pot in their basements or closets using grow lights so why can’t we carry that over to edible plants? If you have a basement, cellar, large building or even a shed, you can grow food without sunshine using grow lights. Your neighbors will never be the wiser.

Oh, and what about this: growing food in your bunker? Even if the lights go out when SHTF and you have to go underground, you’ll have the food that’s currently growing in there to provide food until the plants die from lack of light. You could always use solar panels to keep your grow lights on, too.

Or, you can transplant your plants into secret places around the property (i.e. in the woods around your house) and nobody will be any wiser. That brings us to the next method.

Wild Gardening

rose-hip-10496_1920

There are hundreds of edible plants that most people would never think of as food. You can always plant these around your property so that you have food where other people see weeds or inedible flowers or trees.

You can even scatter traditional food plants throughout your property in smaller plots so that if one is discovered, you have other plots that will sustain you.

Vermiponics

worms

This is a relatively new concept that combines hydroponics (growing plants without soil), vermiculture (creating fertilizer using worms) and aquaculture (raising fish or plants using water). In short, vermiculture is a self-sustaining way to grow both plants and fish without soil.

There are numerous benefits to this process. Fish and worms both produce waste products that make excellent fertilizer. The plants that are grown are packed with nutrients and grown without chemical fertilizers. The system can be set up in a relatively small space and is a circular growth cycle that constantly produces two food sources simply by maintaining the system.

I learned about vermiponics from a report that details the process from start to finish – see my review here.

Hedge Gardening

hedge

This one isn’t quite so much on the down-low as it is sneakily hiding your plants in plain sight.

If you have hedges, you can also plant edibles throughout them that will blend right into the hedges.

Berry bushes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, carrots and rhubarb are just a few plants that pop to mind when thinking about this.

Figuring out how to grow food to feed your family without looking like a survival beacon to those who don’t prepare isn’t that hard if you’re just willing to put on your thinking cap and think outside of the box.

There’s nothing saying that you can’t have your greenhouse and garden to grow food for now, and you can even hide them on the back of your property so that others are less likely to see them, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan.

As a matter of fact, having an obvious garden may serve as a great decoy to keep people away from your other methods. Remember that people aren’t going to be thinking of methods other than the obvious because they haven’t put any effort into prepping. They’ll see your garden, raid it, then assume they’ve gotten all that you have.

I’d also like to point out that it’s good to store your preserved foods in more than one place. If you’re planning on bugging out, you likely have places where you’re planning to stop for the night, or use as a safe place to stay or to meet up with the rest of your family. Stock some food in these places even if it means digging a bit of a hidden cellar or just burying the food.

If you have any other good ideas about growing food on the down-low, please tell us about them in the comments section below. If we all put our heads together and share ideas, then we’re stronger as a community.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Grow your own Veg from Seed

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First off, I apologise that it may be a bit late for most members who are seasoned gardeners, however those members who have had little or no experience with Grow Your Own (GYO) may find this guide useful & may be inspired to give it a go. You can sow seeds any time until the […]

Product Review: Miracle Farm Blueprint

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SVP product review miracle farm

Are you prepared to feed your family should disaster strike?

I’m not talking about going a day or two, or even a week or two, without power or access to a grocery store. I’m talking about a major, long-term disruption in the food supply.

Will you be able to grow your own food for months or years, even if the soil is contaminated or you have limited space to garden?

Learning as much as possible about living off the grid is a great first step. The more you know, the better your chances are of survival. We’ve found a report that outlines an alternative, extremely effective method of food production that you may want to add to your knowledge base; vermiponics.

Vermiponics combines aquaponics (growing pants using fish), hydroponic gardening (growing plants using water or other liquid), and vermicomposting (composting with worms). Though each method certainly has its purpose, growing a diverse range of food on a long-term basis isn’t something that you can accomplish with any of them independently.

Vermiponics brings the three methods together to make a viable, relatively easy, sustainable way to produce up to four times as much food as other growing methods.

The body requires nutrients that it can’t produce on its own. This includes omega 3’s and amino acids, along with standard vitamins that you’ll find on the back of your vitamin bottle. It’s always best to get these nutrients from food sources because that’s how your body is built to process them, and vermiponics provides both veggies and fish for consumption.

Running out of food is a realistic concern for people who are preparing for catastrophic conditions, but you can only preserve so much food. Also, when food is canned, it loses taste and nutritional value during the preservation process. It loses even more of both as time passes.

This is yet another reason why this report is so valuable; even if you’re not a prepper, vermiponics is a great way to grow fresh, healthy, great tasting food for yourself! You’ll know what was used to grow it, and you’ll save a ton of money when you don’t have to pay for organic produce.

miracle farm

Now that you know what vermiponics is and why it’s valuable, believe me when I’m telling you that this report is a must-have for anybody interested in growing their own vegetables. Here are just a few things that the report discusses in detail:

  • What vermiponics is and how it works
  • How to choose the best worms, fish and plants to make your experience a success
  • Why vermiponics is healthier that growing food in other ways
  • How to safely and easily build your own system at a reasonable cost even if you’re not extremely mechanically inclined
  • How to maintain the system regardless of climate, season or extraneous conditions
  • What and how to feed your worms and fish without depending upon commercial food.
  • How to maintain sanitary water that’s the correct temperature for your fish to thrive

Though starting a vermiponics system isn’t complicated, there are a ton of details that need your attention; that’s why this report is so valuable. It touches on everything from which fish would be best for your system to which type of lights you should use.

If you’re looking for a way to grow your own organic food that’s delicious and packed with nutrients, then this manual is certainly something that you should check out!

CLICK on the banner below and get this offer now because today is THE LAST DAY for this offer!

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Starvation by Regulation: Farming Bans And Clever Work-Arounds

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SVP farming ban

It used to be your right to openly grow a garden or have livestock in your yard if you so desired, but the laws are now so strict that, for many of us, growing our own food when living an urban life is nearly impossible.

The government has slowly made it illegal to be self-sufficient all in the name of public and personal health and safety.

In fact, if things were to go south today, many of us wouldn’t be able to feed ourselves with fresh food because the laws today forbid it. However, as any experienced prepper will tell you, there are work-arounds if you’re willing to look for them. 

Read this article to find out more about a few anti-gardening and farming laws and how to get around them.

Watering Your Plants

Again, “for the good of the community”, cities often limit the use of water for gardening or watering your lawn, especially in summer, and this is due to limited water supplies. Some people are fortunate enough to have an old well on their property that allows them to circumvent the restriction but for most people, defying the ordinance means facing a fine if caught. This requirement is hard to face when trying to grow your own food.

Work-Around

Use grey water, or catch rain water if you are allowed to. Grey water is water that you use in your house that doesn’t contain any type of bodily waste or hazardous material. The two easiest ways to use this grey water on a small scale are to save your warm-up water and recycle your wash water.

We waste literally hundreds of gallons of water per year waiting for it to get hot for showers or washing dishes. That water is perfectly clean and running it down the drain is part of the reason the restrictions are in place to begin with. Catch it in buckets and use it to water your garden. Washing machine water can be re-routed and used to water trees and larger plants, too. There are some rules that you need to follow to use this water safely, though.

Rain water can easily be caught in barrels, then used to water plants, if rainwater usage is legal in your state. Don’t let it sit for too long though, because it can grow stagnant and attract unwanted bugs such as mosquitoes.

Yard Regulations

gardenMost cities have regulations about how you can keep your yard.

Gone are the days of you being the king (or queen) of your castle; you have to keep your yard looking a certain way so that it maintains “curb appeal”.

In other words, it doesn’t matter if you own the place, you can’t grow squash if your city thinks it’s ugly.

Homeowner’s Associations are even worse; they have to follow city laws but can also make stricter regulations that can quite literally get you evicted from your own house if you don’t follow them.

Of course, this is partially your own fault if you bought the property after these rules were in place, but communities often come under the rule of homeowner’s associations after people are already living there.

In this case, you’re going to have to be smarter than they are. Fortunately, that usually won’t be too hard.

Work-Arounds

The easiest ways to get around these laws are to grow privacy hedges or put up a privacy fence, at least in the back yard.

You need to be careful here, because many cities require that you provide open access to water mains; thus your front yard can’t be fenced in.

Another good work-around is to use raised beds or vertical gardens; they’re attractive and you can plant edible ornamentals in them to give them even more curbside appeal.

Compost Piles

Now, I understand that compost piles can be a bit visually off-putting, but then again, so can your chubby neighbor while he’s mowing his lawn with no shirt on. Unfortunately, there’s no law against that, though there probably should be. There are often laws against composting, though.

One of the primary reasons composting is banned in many places is because of the odor. Properly tended, a compost pile shouldn’t smell like anything other than dirt unless you’re composting manure in it. If your compost pile smells, it’s likely not heating up enough for the organic material to break down. It could also be that you’re adding the wrong things to your pile.

Even if it’s legal, many towns have regulations about the size of compost piles or regulations that require a certain distance between your compost pile and your neighbor’s house or property line. That makes it difficult for many “townies” to have one due to the size of their lot. In numerous communities, outdoor compost piles are illegal, no matter how small it is or where you put it.

Work-Around

You can, of course, go before city or community councils and make a movement to fight the regulation, and you may win. You also have the option to have a smaller compost bin inside, often under your sink. This is a great option to cultivate fertilizer for your flower beds or raised gardens. It also gives you experience on a small scale so that if SHTF, you’ll already know your stuff.

Livestock Laws

Keeping livestock, even something as small as chickens, is often prohibited within city limits. There’s not really a good work-around for this other than to connect with local farms that may be willing to let you keep some animals on their land for the cost of feed. Co-ops are also an option as they offer the opportunity to get a variety of vegetables, and often meats, on a regular basis.

You probably won’t be able to raise a calf in your back yard, but if you really want chickens, you may be able to get away with a few using a privacy fence. You’ll have to keep the coops extremely clean so that they don’t smell and offend the neighbors to the point that they complain to authorities.

Urban Farming Laws

This is kind of a catch-all description of the way that government restricts farming and gardening. Most cities, and counties, are zoned in a manner that restricts what can happen on particular parcels of land in specific areas.

The entire city (or county) is divided into zones, including farming, commercial, and residential zones. Depending upon your zone, you’re restricted to, and from certain activities. For example, in a residential zone, you likely won’t be allowed to operate a business.

These zoning laws seriously affect people who want to farm. Fortunately, many cities are now revising these laws and relaxing what types of gardening and farming activities are allowed, but there’s still a long way, and thousands of cities to go before you’re allowed to openly garden or farm in a zone that doesn’t permit it.

Most of the work-arounds described above apply to this problem, but you may still be subject to fines and could be ordered to destroy your gardens or get rid of your animals. The most pro-active thing that you can do is to start a movement toward acceptance of urban gardening in your community. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.

govt

The fact is, gardening and prepping is becoming much more main-stream than it was even 5 years ago. Some people garden as a means of knowing exactly what they’re putting in their bodies and others, like us, have gardens that produce food to feed us now, and in case of emergency.

Because of this shift from covert to main-steam, urban farming laws are changing and you have the ability to help facilitate that change in your area. This doesn’t mean that you have to let your neighbors know about the cellar or the bunker that you have hidden out back, but you can give things a nudge in the right direction by gathering with like-minded people to get the laws changed.

If that fails, continue as you’ve been doing and just be smart enough to find the loopholes and work-arounds that are there if you’re determined enough to find them. There’s no government agency planning to rescue you in the middle of chaos or giving you and your family the food that you need to survive. The only thing they really plan about you is starvation by regulation.

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How To Protect Your Garden: DIY Smoke Bombs

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DIY SMOKE BOMBS

Insects such as mosquitoes and flies carry diseases by biting an infected host, then biting you. West Nile virus has been an issue for years, and now the new Zika virus is spreading through Florida and other states thanks to infected mosquitoes. Rats also carry diseases such as rabies as do opossums.

Pests such as moles and groundhogs dig holes in your pasture and either eat the beneficial bugs in the dirt or cause holes that can break the legs of livestock. Bugs eat your leaves and birds eat your berries and cherries. That’s just not acceptable after all of your hard work!

All of these issues can be serious now. But if SHTF, these critters can each be lethal in their own way. And so are the bigger predators that attack your crops.

Figure out now how to deal with these pests in ways that don’t depend upon calling for help. Though there are numerous effective methods for getting rid of pests, smoke has been used for centuries for a variety of pest control situations and it’s basically a free commodity that’s easy to access. That’s why you need to know how to DIY smoke bombs.

There are actually smoke bombs available commercially for very little money but, as a prepper, you probably want to know how to build your own. That’s what we’re going to discuss today.

Where There’s One Up, There’s One Down

Smoke bombs are more effective as repellents than as a means to permanently get rid of pests; by its very nature, smoke is temporary and, unless it’s released in a small, confined area, it’s rarely lethal. A perfect example of this is the use of citronella candles in the evenings to keep away mosquitoes. The smoke and the smell of citronella act together to repel insects.

Even if smoke does kill, you’re stuck with dead critters under your porch or whatever space it is that you’ve smoked. Definitely not what you want, so it’s best to use other methods if you want to kill the pests.

Smoke can, however, be a good tool to use to smoke them out if you just want to get the rats out of the shed, the squirrels out of the attic, or the groundhogs from under the porch. It’s also a good method to get rid of bugs that may be eating your trees or birds that want to pick your cherries at exactly the right moment, an hour before you do!

Building smoke bombs can be tricky because of the obvious risk of fire. As we all know, where there’s one, there’s the other and your goal is to get the rats out of the shed, not to burn the shed down altogether! That being said, there are still a couple of ways that you can use smoke to clear out pests.

Rule Number 1 when it comes to smoking out pests is that you should NEVER  do it inside, or use smoke bombs on furniture or anything flammable or valuable that you don’t want to smell like the bomb.

Rule Number 2 is that there are probably better ways to deal with most infestations than using smoke bombs, unless you’re just trying to temporarily chase away the pest. They only work as long as the smoke exists. As soon as the smoke is gone, the pests will likely reappear. That’s fine if you’re just trying to deter bugs while you’re outside, get a hive of bees to quiet long enough to get the honey, or want to get the critters out from under the shed, so don’t get me wrong. Just don’t expect the smoke bombs to cure your pest invasion permanently.

Why NOT to Build a Smoke Bomb Using Ping Pong Balls

Yup, that’s right. Ping pong balls. If you think about it, they seem to be the perfect container for such things. They’re lightweight, easy to drill a hole in, and are hollow. Ping pong balls are one of those multi-purpose items that you should probably have around the house anyway, so of course people have found a way to make a smoke bomb with them.

Here’s the problem: you’re burning PVC, which is extremely toxic. Also, the bombs are unstable. Even using the same method, one may make smoke while another will burst into flames. But, you may say, you’re trying to kill pests, right? Yes, but there’s no reason to give yourself cancer or burn your barn down while you’re doing it. Skip it, no matter how easy it seems to be.

How to Make a Smoke Bomb that Won’t Kill You

Recipe 1: Basic DIY Smoke Bomb

Basically, all you need is a tube, a wick, and a couple of ingredients that are easy to obtain: wooden matchsticks or candle wicks for the fuse, a toilet paper or paper towel roll, potassium nitrate (aka saltpeter) and sugar.

  • Combine the saltpeter and sugar in a skillet over low heat using about 3 parts saltpeter to 2 parts sugar. (You can adjust this ratio if you want, to meet your needs. More sugar makes for a smoke bomb that’s harder to light and burns slower. More saltpeter makes for a smoke bomb that burns faster.)
  • Stir the mixture over low heat until it liquefies and becomes a caramel color. Be careful not to burn it!
  • Pour the mixture onto aluminum foil in puddles about 3 inches or so around. Allow to cool.
  • Peel off of aluminum foil and roll it up around the fuse, leaving an end sticking out to light.
  • Cut the toilet paper roll in half. Line the inside with aluminum foil so that the roll doesn’t catch on fire when you light the fuse. Place the sugar mixture inside of it, with the fuse sticking out of one end.
  • Pinch that end of the tube almost closed around the fuse but leave enough of an opening that the fuse will burn down to the sugar mixture, and pinch the other end into a funnel that will allow the smoke to escape.

To smoke the pests, find the holes that the moles or groundhogs are occupying. Place one smoke bomb in each hole, piling the dirt around the bomb but making sure that the inside end of the bomb is inside the hole and not stuck in the dirt. Light the fuse, making sure that the sugar mixture catches before walking away. You don’t strictly need a fuse; you can actually leave a bit of the sugar mixture sticking out of the end of the roll if you’d like.

A non-cooking alternative to this is to combine the sugar and saltpeter in a small paper or plastic cup and add just enough water to make it a paste. Stick the fuse in, then allow to sit for a couple of days until the mixture is completely dry. Follow the rest of the directions above. This also works for sheds, etc. Just be sure to set the smoke bomb on something non-flammable and leave room above it so that, just in case it catches on fire, you don’t burn the building down.

Recipe 2: Aluminum Nitrate Smoke Bomb

This one’s easy, too. Aluminum nitrate is the granules found inside of a cold pack.

  • Simply cut the cold pack open and pour the granules into a container.
  • Add just enough water to the granules to dissolve them: don’t use any more water than you have to.
  • Dip a rolled-up piece of newspaper into the solution and allow it to absorb the water.
  • Remove and tie it up with some string, then allow to dry thoroughly.

You can use this smoke bomb as-is or put it in the aluminum foil-lined roll as described above. Light it and you have a smoke bomb!

Video first seen on Makabra203.

Other Ideas for DIY Smoke Bombs

I’ve also heard of using eggshells to hold the smoke bombs – just poke a small hole in one end and a larger one in the rounder end of the egg, blow the egg out of the shell, then use a funnel to put the bomb ingredients in. Put the fuse in the smaller end before you put the bomb ingredients in the other.

Video first seen on Rex Patrick.

If you simply want to get rid of insects or birds temporarily, say for an outdoor gathering or to keep them away from your tree until you can pick the berries, simply light a bonfire with the size based on the area that you want to keep pest-free. Make it big enough to produce enough smoke to encompass the area but not so big that the fire gets out of control.

Citronella candles in a bucket are always good for camping if you’re trying to repel mosquitoes and flies. Just set a few of them around the site.

Any time that you do an outside burn, you need to monitor it closely. This includes the bombs described above that you’re using for the mole or groundhog holes. Make sure it’s completely out before walking away from it.

Now that you have a few ideas about how to build smoke bombs, go to it. Remember that smoke bombs aren’t a permanent solution; they’ll only smoke the critters out temporarily.

But you still need them! And remember that these critters are not the only menace for your homestead: bigger predators are aiming to hijack your food reserve. Click on the banner below to find out more!

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Did You Choose The Proper Seeds For Planting?

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SVP choosing seeds for planting

Planting fruits, vegetables, and herbs is easy – you just toss some seeds into some dirt, add water, and wait for them to grow, right?

Well, in the most basic ways, yes. But if you want to grow quality plants and preserve your seeds long-term, you need to put a little more effort into finding quality seeds.

A tomato seed is a tomato seed, right? Wrong. It’s a good thing you’re reading this article! There are different types of plants, thus different types of seeds, and which type you choose will drastically affect the quality of future generations of plants.

Here’s how to make the smart choice for growing healthy crops!

You Need to Know the Types of Seeds

GMO Seeds

GMO stands for genetically modified organism. What it means is that scientists take a standard seed or seeds and add organisms to the DNA strands of the plant. They may do this to make the plant more resistant to disease, or to make it grow denser is smaller space. Regardless of why it’s modified, the seeds from these plants may not sprout, or thrive even if they do.

Hybrid Seeds

These seeds have been made by pollinating one strain of plant with a different strain of plant. This is usually done to create hardier plants or plants with the best features of each parent plant. By doing this, hopefully, you’ll get the results that you want.

However, future generations of seeds are unstable. It’s sort of like breeding “boutique” dog breeds. For instance, a puggle is a cross between a pug and a beagle. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not making fun of this breed because I have one that sleeps with me every night. I’m just saying that, even though he’s adorable, the mix was unreliable.

He could have been born looking like a pug with spots, super long ears and a long, straight tail, or he could have been born looking like a beagle with a curly tail and a long snout. There are a million variations that could have happened, and you can see that for yourself just by searching “puggle”. And even by breeding him to another puggle, there’s no telling what the puppies would look like.

Anyway, you get the idea about why hybrid seeds may not be the best way to go if you’re going to store seeds for survival.

Organic Seeds

Don’t let the name fool you. The term “organic” simply means that the seeds were obtained from plants that were grown using natural methods. That’s it. They may still be hybrids or from GMO plants.

Heirlooms

These are seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation. They’re going to grow the same type of plant and produce the same type of fruit each season and the yields will be similar, given similar growing circumstances.

heirloom seeds

The only warning that I have about heirloom seeds is that you should make sure that the seeds will grow to crop in whatever area you intend to bunker down in.

Open Pollinated Seeds

These are seeds from plants that have been grown and allowed to be pollinated as nature intended – by local birds, wind, etc. They’re more genetically diverse, which allows plants to slowly and naturally adapt to local growing conditions. As long as the pollen isn’t shared between different varieties of the same  species of plants, these seeds will remain true-to-form every year.

How to Test the Quality of Seeds

This may be putting the cart before the horse if you’re storing your own seeds butt many new growers overlook a critical step in planting crops – making sure the seeds will germinate. If you’re planting seeds to grow food for survival, you could starve to death waiting for the seeds that you plant to grow.

Fortunately, it’s easy to tell if a batch of seeds is going to grow. There are a few germination tests that you can use instead of just tossing the seeds in the ground and hoping for the best.

Water Test

Maybe you’ve found a really good deal on a batch of seeds at a trading event or even a yard sale, but will they grow? Toss them in a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If the seeds sink, they’re good. If they float, they’re not.

Test Germination Run

Put at least 10 seeds from a single batch onto one half of a paper towel then fold the other half of the towel over the seeds. Spray it down with enough water to moisten the towel. It may be helpful to spritz it with a 1:10 bleach to water ratio to keep them from molding.

Place them in the baggie and only partially seal it so that air can still get in. Label the bag and start a record with the date and how many  seeds were started. Store it in a warm, dark place and dampen the towel as necessary to keep it from going dry. Within a couple of days, you should start to see germination.

Note daily how many seeds either germinate or mold and remove those seeds from the bag. All seeds will germinate within 14 days if they’re going to.

Now, divide how many seeds germinated by how many seeds you started with and you have a pretty good idea of the germination ratio of your batch. Even if only half of them germinate, but they do it quickly, you may want to just plant twice the seeds instead of tossing the batch. If the germination ratio was low and they germinated slowly, you may just want to toss them.

Now that you’ve found some great seeds that you know will grow where you need them to, you need to store them.

Preparing Seeds for Storage

This is an extremely important step in storing seeds so that they don’t go bad, but it’s fairly simple.

First, you need to decide if your seeds will germinate if you dry them. Seeds that can be dried are called desiccation-tolerant. Most garden plants fall into this category and can dried and stored long-term.  Desiccation-intolerant plants produce seeds that won’t germinate if dried, but they can still be stored short-term. Some seeds, such as citrus seeds, are semi-tolerant which means that you can dry them but that they lose viability quickly and germinate slowly once they’re dried.

Preparing Desiccation-Tolerant Seeds for Storage

These seeds are great for storing dried because during natural the ripening and drying process, they’re preparing to go dormant. Most of their physiological processes slow down or stop altogether and they convert food reserves from sugars to fats and starches.

As a matter of fact, many seeds REQUIRE drying and a dormancy period before they can ripen, go dormant, and germinate again. Dry your seeds slowly and thoroughly using the sun (if you’re in a low-humidity area) or a low-humidity, airy environment such as your air conditioned counter. You want the relative humidity to be between 30-40%.

Spread them on a tray or baking sheet 1 or 2 seeds deep. Most seeds should be dry in 1-2 weeks though larger ones will take a bit longer. You don’t want them to be zero moisture, but they should be hard. For instance, corn should be dry enough to require a hammer to break it and squash seeds will break instead of bend.

Preparing Desiccation-Intolerant Seeds for Storage

You can store these seeds for up to several months with some seeds by keeping them in cool, moist condition. Put them in a container with damp material such as peat moss or damp paper towels. Choose a container that allows at least some airflow (poke holes in the lid or leave the lid loose).They have to continue the respiration process to remain viable.

Store in the fridge but don’t let them dry out or freeze. Plant them ASAP because they will eventually mold or rot.

What About Storing Seeds?

If stored properly, seeds can last for years. To remain viable in storage, seeds need a proper temperature and moisture level. If there’s too much moisture and enough warmth, seeds will germinate; not exactly what we’re looking for!

Here are some tips:

  • Keep the seeds out of light. They should be stored in a dark place or in opaque containers.
  • Store in waterproof (actually, moisture-proof container. Tossing in an oxygen absorber in will help, especially if you’re in an area that has an average of greater than 30% relative humidity.
  • Store in an airtight container. Mylar bags are great, but baggies, mason jars or Tupperware containers will work, too.
  • Keep seeds cool – under 40 degrees F and avoid fluctuations of temperature.
  • Rotate your seeds on a first-in-first-out basis just like you do the rest of your supplies.
  • Always, always, always perform a germination test before you plant your seeds.

If your seeds sweat inside the container, you haven’t dried them enough and need to take them out immediately and finish drying them before they mold.

That’s what you need to know to make a smart choice about your planting. And believe me, you will need this knowledge, because things are going to get from bad to worse about our food independence! CLICK on the banner below to find out more!

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10 Breeds Of Hogs To Choose From For Survival

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Survivopedia: 10 breeds of hogs

Pigpen? Check! Food source? Check! Lots of fresh water? Check!

You’ve made the decision to raise hogs for survival. You’ve lined everything up. You’re ready to go. Except something is still missing, you need to buy some hogs.

But what kind should you get? With so many breeds out there, how do you know which one is best? Is one kind of pig better than another kind?

Is There One Breed of Pig That’s Best?

The short answer is no. The long answer is, there’s a breed of pigs, or a crossbreed, that’s best for you and your farm. What’s best for you might not be best for me.

There are several things to think about before selecting a particular breed.

Four Factors to Consider Before Picking a Breed

Before you bring hogs home, take a few moments to research the breed you’ll be getting. In particular, you’ll want to look at the following things.

Temperament

Where will you be raising your pigs? Will they have lots of room to roam, or just a small area? Will the pigs be around other animals or small children?

Some breeds of pigs are docile. Others are more aggressive. There are pros and cons to both.

If predators attack your farm animals, a more aggressive pig might fare better. Conversely, if you have small children, you’ll probably want a gentler pig. Remember that temperament can vary, even across breeds. No two pigs are the same.

If you’re picking out breeding stock, be sure to ask your farmer what character traits they’re breeding for. Also, check out the pigs in person if possible. That’ll help you make an informed decision.

Size

In addition to temperament, pigs vary in size. Some pigs get huge. Others are smaller. Some pigs produce a lot of lard. Others are known as bacon pigs, producing a lot of lean meat.

How much meat will you be able to store in a survival situation? How much lard will you use? You’ll want to honestly answer these questions, and select a breed accordingly.

Where Are They Being Raised?

Modern pigs have been bred to survive in confinement. Commercial farmers have used selective breeding to ensure the pigs will stay alive on concrete, eating exactly the same food for its entire life.

If you prefer your pigs to act like pigs, and be raised humanely, modern breeds may not be what you’re looking for. Heritage pigs are breeds that were popular back before CAFOs entered the scene. They were the hogs that farmers and homesteaders raised.

For survival situations, you’ll want a pig that grows well on pasture, dairy, and scraps—foods that you can scrounge up even in the worst of times. Pigs who are used to eating only hog feed won’t be as useful when the SHTF.

Location

What hogs are available where you are? You can bring in pigs from far away to add to your line, but that definitely adds to the cost. Local pigs have the advantage of being local. You know they’re adapted to your climate. That’s always a plus.

Ten Breeds of Hogs to Consider

Since I don’t have time or space to dive into every single breed of hog available, I’ve compiled information for ten common breeds. These are well suited for survival situations. Any of them would be an ideal addition to a homestead.

1 – Berkshire

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Discovered several hundred years ago in Berkshire County, UK, the Berkshire is dark with white points. This coloring means they’re less prone to sunburn than lighter colored hogs. These friendly, curious hogs are a hardy breed. They hold up well over long, cold winters, as long as they have proper shelter to take cover. They’re adaptable hogs, and can thrive in many environments.

To help lower the food bill, Berkshires are able to graze on pasture. They grow more slowly than some other breeds, but their meat is delicious. In fact, they’re known as the favorite pork breed in Japan.

Berkshires are larger than many breeds. When mature, they average 600 pounds.

The mama Berkshires have good mothering skills. They produce a lot of milk, which helps the piglets get off to a good start.

2 – Duroc

duroc

Durocs are one of the most common breed of hog in the world. With the ability to convert feed into lean muscles, Duroc boars played an important role in breeding lines for factory farms.

Despite their use in confinement lines, Durocs are an ideal outdoor pig. Their thick, red coat provides protection from cold winter weather. When the weather warms the coat molts, allowing these pig to thrive during dry, hot summers.

They enjoy running and grazing on pasture, but their growth will slow considerably. To maintain the quick growth, these hogs need good quality feed.

Durocs are medium sized pigs. When mature, the sows range from 450-650 pounds. Boars are slightly larger, with an average range of 500-750 pounds.

Historically Durocs were considered an aggressive breed. However, many farmers have successfully bred out much of the aggression. It’s still a trait to be aware of though.

3 – Tamworths

Tamworth

These ginger colored hogs perform well on pasture, earning them the nickname Irish Grazers. Their long snouts are perfect for rooting and foraging. They also have long legs.

Because they have smaller bones, Tamworths typically produce a better ratio of useable meat. Their hanging weight is a higher percentage than many other breeds. When mature, both sows and boars average 500-600 pounds. They are an active, medium sized hog.

Their athletic personality means Tamworths require solid fencing. Be sure to have it installed before you bring them home.

Tamworths produce large litters, and the sows are usually able to care for them. Piglets are usually active, and full of vitality.

4 – Large BlackLarge_Black_pigs

Large black pigs are named for both their size and their color. They average 700 pounds. Because they’re bigger than many other breeds, you’ll need to make sure your housing is large enough for your herd.

These pigs produce tender meat with excellent flavor, especially when allowed to forage. They’re well suited for grazing in wooded areas. The nuts and other food they find plays a role in the flavor of their meat.

Their docile personality makes pasturing Large Blacks simple. Many farmers have success with just a single strand of electric wire.

Large Black sows are excellent mothers, and usually have large litters. Obese sows can have problems with fertility, so it’s important to keep their weight in check.

5 – Gloucestershire Old Spot

Gloucester_Old_Spot_Boar

White hogs with black spots, Gloucestershire Old Spots grow well from forage. They take your agricultural by-products like whey and bruised fruit and turn it into delicious meat. These are lard pigs, even though they aren’t as large as others breeds. Old Spots average only 500 pounds upon maturity. But, they have a higher ratio of fat compared to the bacon breeds.

With their white skin, this breed is prone to sunburn. Be sure to provide them with plenty of shade and mud to wallow in.

As far as temperament goes, Old Spots are docile. They aren’t aggressive, and are known as easy keepers. They do know how to bust fences though, so make sure yours are tight!

Gloucestershire Old Spot sows are good mothers. They average nine piglets per litter, though many sows will have more. Their milk production is high, helping the piglets grow.

6 – Hereford

Hereford-sow

Hereford hogs were bred to match the coloring pattern of the cattle with the same name. They’re reddish with a white face, legs, and belly. Herefords are large pigs. At maturity, males average 800 pounds. The sows average 600 pounds. These hogs grow quickly, and fatten easily. They often reach ideal slaughter weight in 5 months while eating less than many other breeds.

They are easygoing pigs, and typically docile. This temperament makes Herefords ideal for first time handlers. As such, 4-H children often use them.

Adaptability is another positive character trait for Herefords. They do well on pasture or in an enclosed pen. With their strong rooting ability, Herefords make great tillers.

Sows of this breed are prolific. They average 10 piglets per litter, and are normally good mothers.

7 – Yorkshire

Yorkshire_pigs_at_animal_sanctuary

Currently the most common pig in the United States, Yorkshires are also known as English Large Whites. They have light pink skin that’s covered in thin white hair. Their ears are erect. Yorkshires are used in many breeding programs because they aren’t fatty. While they are large pigs, they are very muscular. This lean meat means they are bacon pigs, not lard pigs.

Pasture can make up part of a Yorkshire’s diet. They are hardy, and can handle cold winters and hot summers.

In addition to highly desirable meat, the Yorkshires also bring excellent mothering genes to breeding programs. They have large litters, and take care of their young well.

8 – Mulefoot

Mulefoot-pig

The hoof of a Mulefoot differs from other pigs. It’s not cloven, so it’s like a mule or a donkey. These hogs are solid black, though some will have white points.

Mulefoot hogs are smaller than many other breeds, averaging 400-600 pounds. Because of their small size, the pork chops will be smaller. Don’t let the smallness fool you though; the marbled meat is tender and tasty.

These hogs are active, but not aggressive. They’re good at grazing, and do well in many climates. Their unique hooves allow them to thrive even in wet areas.

Mulefoot sows are calm mothers. They average 5-6 piglets with each litter.

9 – Red Wattle

Red_Wattle_pig

The Red Wattle is the only domestic hog with a wattle. These flaps of skin on the neck are not believed to have any particular use. They are large pigs, with the boars averaging 750 pounds when fully grown. Despite their size, they produce high quality lean meat that’s favored by many chefs.

Because of their size, you’ll need to make sure your structures are big enough to accommodate. The good news is that Red Wattles are hardy, and easily adapt to a variety of climates. They thrive on pasture, which can help lower your production costs.

As far as temperament goes, Red Wattles are very docile. Many farmers consider this breed among the easy keepers.

Red Wattles are attentive mothers. Sows average 9-10 piglets per litter.

10 – Hampshire

Hampshire-Sow_and_Piglets

Hampshire hogs feature a unique look. They’re black with a white belt around their midsection that covers their front legs. With their erect ears, they can hear what’s going on around them. They are very curious pigs. However, they are docile.

They are excellent foragers, and gain weight quickly. Hampshire meat is prized as being extremely lean. These are definitely not a lard breed.

Hampshires are known for their quick growth. It takes less time to raise them to market weight. Additionally, large litters are common for Hampshire sows, so you’ll have plenty of pigs around to raise.

Before You Start Breeding Hogs

Before jumping into a breeding program of your own, I’d recommend starting with a couple of seasonal piglets. This will allow you to test your desired breed of pig in your environment.

You can check out your fences, and make sure they’ll keep your hogs in. You’ll also be able to taste the final product. The experience will help you know if that breed is a good match for you. Once you’ve done a test run, you’re probably ready to dive into breeding.

Sometime during your breeding program, you might decide to introduce another breed into your herd. Crossbreeding hogs adds vitality to the mix. Vitality is an important trait for long-term survival.

Regardless of the breed or breeds on your farm, always remember the most important rule of raising pigs. Breed the best, and eat the rest. That way you keep only the best genes moving along.

Hogs of all breeds are an excellent addition to the homestead. It’s no wonder they were given an honorable mention in this Survivopedia post on top survival animals. They root, cut down on waste, and produce good meat that’s valuable for eating, selling, or bartering. But if you plan to get your food production to another level, then CLICK on the banner below to find out more!

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Do you raise pigs? What are your favorite breeds? Did I miss any that you love? Please share in the comments section below.

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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What You Don’t Know About Raising Pigs For Survival

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big pork

Have you noticed the price of bacon lately? How about pork chops? Pork prices are soaring.

Besides costing an arm and a leg, grocery store pork often contains questionable ingredients. Things like benzoate preservatives and ractopamine. Ew! I like to be able to pronounce the ingredients I eat.

Thankfully, there’s at least one solution.

Raising your own hogs will help lower the price point per pound. It’ll also give you complete control over what goes into your meat. Hogs aren’t only beneficial in today’s market. When the SHTF, they’ll be invaluable. They’re the perfect homesteading addition as you prepare for the future. Ready to get started?

Here’s what you need to know before bringing home the bacon.

3 Important Considerations for Raising Hogs

Before bringing home any new animal, there’s a lot to think about. But there are some specifics just for hogs:

Do You Want to Breed Pigs or Just Raise Them Each Year?
There are two primary methods of pig raising. You can start each spring with a couple of little ones and butcher them in the fall. Or you can get your own breeding stock and raise pigs year round. There are benefits to each.

I’m currently buying weaner pigs each. My parents kept pigs year round when I was younger, and I enjoyed that. Someday I’ll winterize our pig pen and get breeding stock of my own.

Having your own stock will ensure your access to pork annually, which is preferred for survival. You may not always be able to find piglets to buy. Keeping pigs year round eliminates the search. However, year round hogs are the harder option. You’ll have to ensure your pig pen offers adequate protection for each season. Your feed costs will also be higher, as pregnant pigs eat a lot.

If you’ve never raised pigs before, consider starting off with just a couple of weaner pigs. Raising these to market weight will provide valuable knowledge and experience. Try this at least once before tackling your own hog-breeding program.

Cost of Pigs

Pigs used to be inexpensive animals. But now, $100 seems to be the new low for weaner pigs. During the spring, when everyone is buying, they’ll be much more.

Adult breeding stock costs more. Expect to pay several hundred for each sow and boar.

Since pigs enjoy the company of other pigs, you should raise at least two. If you don’t need the meat, you can always sell it.

What Will Your Pig Eat?

The easiest thing to feed your pig is a steady diet of hog chow. It’s formulated to meet your pigs’ needs, including the proper amount of protein and nutrients.

Hog chow is also the most expensive way to fatten up your hog. Each one will take a half ton by the time they reach butcher weight.

There are ways to lower your feed bill. You can give your pigs table scraps. These creatures eat just about anything.

Mine don’t like citrus or banana peels, onions, or raw potato peels, but eat everything else we feed them. We collect our produce scraps in a container in the kitchen, and feed them to the pigs once a day. They love it. We also feed ours extra milk from our cows, eggs that got cracked, or bruised apples. Pigs are a great way to reduce wasted food!

Just because a pig can eat almost everything, doesn’t mean you should feed them everything. They should never eat pork products, rotten foods, or highly sugared pastries. Remember that what you’re feeding them is turning into the meat you’re going to be eating.

To lower your feed costs even more, you can get creative. Are there any local cheese making companies that’d let you have whey? Or a small grocery store that’d give you unsold produce? Look around, and think creatively to obtain feed.

Water

Pigs drink a lot, so you’ll have to give them constant access to fresh water. While you can use a trough, your pigs will probably dump it out a couple of times each day. They like playing in it. To solve this problem, you can get an automatic waterer at most feed stores. These hook up to a hose, or to a bucket. The pigs drink through a nipple.

What Do You Need to Raise Pigs?

Hogs aren’t as needy as many other livestock. They don’t require as much infrastructure. They aren’t as picky on their feed. In addition to the feed and water mentioned earlier, your pigs will need the following:

Shade

Pigs need shade. They don’t sweat, and can easily overheat in the hot sun. Make sure they have shade.

If your pigs are on pasture, trees are one way to provide shade. If they’re in an outdoor pen, give them a roof or tarp. Indoors, make sure they have ventilation to keep the heat down.

Shelter

If you won’t be wintering your hogs, they won’t need a complicated shelter. Give them a place to get out of the wind and rain.

For cold climates, your pigs will need more protection. You can knock up a sturdy structure for them. That way they can bed down and stay warm.

Fencing

If your pigs will be outdoors, you’ll need a fence to keep them in. Pigs are notorious for testing fences and finding holes. Make sure yours are secure.

Common hog fences are made from hog panels or field fence. You can also train pigs to electric wire. To teach them, run an electric wire at snout level around the perimeter of a small pen.

While they’re learning, it’s best to have an additional fence up. That’ll teach the hogs to go backwards from the shock instead of running forward.

Inexpensive Pig Pen

It’s possible to provide everything your pig needs without spending a fortune. Here’s what our pig pen looks like:

pig pen

We used four hog panels, but didn’t make it square. Instead, we curved one of the panels, increasing the square footage of the pen. We secured the panels to T-Posts we already had around the farm.

To provide both shelter and shade, we added a simple roof over part of the pen. We used wooden poles we made from trees on the property for the structure. Metal scraps left over from other projects topped it. We used treated posts to hold the roof up. If you have rot-resistant wood in your area, those are even cheaper.

To make my pen winter ready, I need to enclose the sides under the roof. That’d give the hogs a place to stay dry and warm. It’s on my someday list!

Farrowing Area (If Breeding)

A sow’s gestation lasts about 115 days. You’ll want to make sure she’s in her own area before giving birth. Make sure she has plenty of bedding.

You’ll need to check for stillborn piglets. Check in on your growing litter frequently at first. Inexperienced mama pigs can lie on their babies and squish them.

Why Would Anyone Choose Hogs Over Other Animals for Survival?

When times are tough, you need an animal that is low maintenance. You need one that gives you the most value for your money and time. You need a hog.

It’s true that you can use everything but the squeal. Hogs give you tasty meat, fat for lard, and fertilizer for your vegetables.

flickr

Hogs also require a low time commitment. Once you’ve gotten their fence and shelter up, you just need to feed, water, and add bedding as needed. They are low maintenance, except during the farrowing season.

The hogs will also eat your food scraps, helping to keep your waste piles small. In a crisis, trash can easily pile up. Pigs will ensure there’s no food scraps going to waste.

Hogs don’t require as much space as larger animals, so they’ll be easier to keep in smaller quarters. Their snouts are great at tilling the ground and can prep your garden. They’re very versatile animals on the homestead.

Other Essentials About Raising Hogs

Because they’re constantly rooting around, hogs are prone to intestinal parasites. Some farmers routinely worm. You’ll want to check with a vet to find the recommended wormer for your area.

Many farmers castrate their male hogs, especially if they’re running males and females together.  A castrated male is known as a barrow. Uncastrated males, known as boars, produce meat with a different flavor. It’s known as boar taint. They’re also more likely to be aggressive.

Ideal Butcher Size

Most pig farmers and homesteaders raise pigs to 225-250 pounds. It’s considered the perfect market size. Any bigger, and your feeding costs go up and you’ll get more fat.

Historically, pigs were bigger at butchering time. That’s because pioneers depended on lard for cooking, making soap, and plenty of other tasks. They needed fat pigs because they used the fat. If current economic conditions continue to change, you might see the return of the extra big pig.

Don’t worry though. You won’t have to drag a scale out to the pigpen. You can calculate a pig’s weight based on some simple measurements. All you’ll need is a piece of string, a measuring stick, and some time. It really works! It’s how I determine when it’s time to butcher.

Butchering

When your hog reaches market size, you’ll need to make butchering arrangements. Since pigs are smaller than cows, many homesteaders handle this part on their own. I don’t. I call our local butcher, and they send someone out to the farm. The pigs are dispatched here, while I watch and learn all I can. Maybe someday I’ll try it myself. After dressing, they’re hauled in a refrigerated truck to get processed. The facility also smokes the meat for me.

If you decide to butcher on your own, this field dressing guide will help. Pigs are covered in hair, which you can either singe or scrape off. Skinning is also an option.

After you dress the pig, hanging for a few days will improve the flavor. The cool days of fall are perfect for butchering. Then, you can proceed to cut and wrap your pork.

DIY hog bbq

How to Make Money From Raising Hogs

Pigs can be profitable! If you’re hoping to make money from raising hogs, you have several options. You can invest in quality breeding stock, and sell piglets for show. These typically sell for more than piglets for the table. 4H students are prospective buyers.

If you aren’t raising show hogs, consider selling them at a variety of sizes. Weaners are small pigs, around 25 pounds. They’ve just been weaned and are ready for farmers or homesteaders to raise. You can also keep your piglets a little longer, and sell them as growers. Those weigh 40-70 pounds. Hogs weighing over 150 pounds are known as finishers. They require more time and feed on your part, but usually sell for more money.

In addition to selling live pigs for others to finish, you can sell market ready hogs. A typical pricing method is to sell at a price per pound, hanging weight. You can add the kill fee into your price per pound. Once the hanging pig arrives at the butcher, the buyer can have it cut to specifications. The buyer is then responsible for cutting and wrapping expenses.

When I raise spring pigs, I usually buy one extra to sell. It usually brings enough money to pay for the initial cost, feed,  and butchering costs for both pigs. It also covers my cut and wrap expenses.

Alternatively, you can have the pig processed and then sell the meat. This requires additional legalities than selling them live.

Around here, I’d have to pass an on-site inspection to legally sell pigs this way. Then I’d have to use a specific butcher that’s been USDA approved for hogs. Your local requirements may vary, so be sure to research these before you start selling processed pork.

If you smoke your own bacon and ham, you have a value added product. Maybe you’ll discover a niche market for dry canned bacon. Just make sure to follow the laws in your location. In addition to selling your pigs for meat, you can use other by-products for profit. You can sell manure for gardeners. You can turn the ears into delicious dog treats. With a little creativity, your pigs can bring income to your farm.

Are you raising pigs for survival? Do you have any additional insight to share, or questions that still need answered? Please post them in the comments of this article.

More are still to come about the simple ways to food independence. CLICK on the banner below if you are willing to take your farming to the next level!

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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How to Make Yeast For Long-Term Storage

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big yeast

Bread, beer, and wine are all foods that have been part of history for eons, but they all require yeast to make. What if SHTF? Packaged yeasts are great, but they have a shelf-life and in order to make your own bread daily, you’d have to stockpile way too much to get you through.

Isn’t it better to know how to make your own?

Read on, and you’ll have the yeast to make bread, alcoholic beverages and other goodies no matter what happens!

What is Yeast?

First, you need to know what yeast is. Essentially, it’s a leavening agent that made with “good” fungus during a separation and fermentation process. Yeast spores live on most plants so vegetables, fruits and grains can be used to obtain yeast for a variety of uses. Different yeasts are used for bread and alcoholic beverages – baker’s yeast and brewer’s yeast – and they’re not interchangeable.

Brewer’s yeast is and inactive (dead) yeast used to encourage the fermentation of fruits or vegetables into alcoholic beverages. Baker’s yeast is an active (live) yeast used for leavening. It’s what makes bread rise and gives it that fluffy lightness.

Salt and sugar are both necessary to make yeast but too much of either is a bad thing. The salt acts as a preservative. The sugar is actually the food that feeds the yeast. Once it’s consumed, the byproducts are carbon dioxide and alcohol in different proportions depending upon the strain of the yeast.

Baker’s yeast is made from yeast strains that make more carbon dioxide so that the bread rises. Brewer’s yeast is made from strains that make more alcohol.

Making Baker’s Yeast

There are a few different ways that you can make baker’s yeast. If you have a pack of dry yeast, you can use it to make a starter that you can keep going. To me, that seems to defeat the purpose of learning to making yeast from scratch, so we’ll concentrate on other methods.

I’ll include a recipe for using yeast, just so you have it if you want it, but let’s concentrate on doing it without the crutch! Finally, you may want to check out my article about making bread once you’ve got your yeast made.

How to Make Yeast from Potato Water

This is probably the easiest kind of yeast to make, because potatoes are always around. The yeast is great for making a nice loaf of bread, hot rolls, or even cinnamon rolls. Plus, it’s easy to keep as a starter so you don’t have to start from scratch every time you want to make bread. There are a couple of ways to do this.

Potato Yeast Method 1

All you need is potato water, flour, and sugar.

Cook your potatoes as you usually would, except save 3 cups of the water. Divide the water in half. Stir a tablespoon of sugar and about a cup of flour into a cup and a half of the water, or until the mixture is sort of stiff. Cover and leave overnight in a warm place and it should be bubbly and yeasty-smelling the next morning. If not, you’ll need to start over. This is why you should save some of the water back.

Potato Sourdough Yeast – cheater method

  • 1 pkg. (1 tbsp.) dried yeast
  • 1 cup warm (110-115 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp. instant potato flakes

Mix ingredients in a jar and cover loosely, then let it out at room temp for 24 hours. If you close it too tightly, you’re making a yeast bomb. OK, maybe not that bad, but the jar can crack or blow the lid off because of all the carbon dioxide that’s going to be released.

Refrigerate for 3 or 4 days. On the fourth day, stir in 1/2 cup sugar and 3 tbsp. instant potato flakes and a cup of water. Leave it at room temp for another 24 hours and take out a cup of it to make your bread. Feed it with another 1/2 cup sugar, 3 tbsp. potato flakes and a cup of water. You need to remove a cup of starter and feed it once a day if you leave it out or every 4 days if you refrigerate it. It just comes down to how often you want to bake.

Potato Starter 3

This is another take on the first starter but it uses the whole potato instead of flour.

  • One medium potato, peel on
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Boil the potato in the water until it’s soft. Mash it well then add the sugar and salt.

Cool til it’s just barely warm, then add to the water.

Cover and put it in a warm place so that it can ferment. If it doesn’t ferment, you can cheat and add a packet of dried yeast. If you don’t want to do that, give it a day or two and if you still don’t get fermentation, you’ll have to start over. This makes enough starter to make a few loaves of bread.

Video first sen on North Carolina Prepper.

Grain Starter

Yeast is present in all grains and this starter was used for centuries by people who couldn’t run to the grocery store and buy a packet of yeast. Fresh ground grain is, of course, the best to use but regular unbleached all-purpose flour will work, too.

  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (white or wheat)
  • 1 cup warm (not hot) water

Mix the flour and water then pour it into the jar. Cover and let stand in a warm place until it starts to bubble and rise. Depending on the temperature and humidity, this may take anywhere from 1-7 days. Take out a cup of starter for each loaf of bread, then add back in equal amounts of water and flour. You can toss dough scraps back in, too.

Grape Starter

Grapes are a great fruit to use to make yeast but you can use just about any fruit or peels to do it as long as it’s unwashed and organic. You can also use organic unpasteurized juice.

  • 3-4 cups grapes
  • 2 cup unbleached wheat flour
  • 1 cup water

Crush the grapes well and put the juice, pulp, and peels in a jar and cover with cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Put it in a warm place and leave it alone for 3 days. It’s kind of fun to check it every day because you’ll see the bubbles start to form. That means that the yeast is growing.

On the 4th or 5th day, strain the mixture and discard the peels and pulp. Don’t put them on your compost pile. Stir 1 cup of whole wheat flour into the juice. Let the starter set for 24 hours. Take out one cup and add another cup of flour and a cup of water. Leave it in a warm place for a couple of days. By this time, you should have a bubbly starter.

Remove up to 2 cups (enough to make 2 loaves of bread) and leave at least 1 cup as a starter. Feed it with another cup of water and cup of flour. Let is sit for at least 24 hours before removing more, and as long as you always leave a cup behind and add the feed, you’ll always have bread starter!

Just a side note: according to my sources, you can use fruit juice to make yeast starters for making alcoholic beverages, too. Yum…wine! Read my article to learn how to make wine.

9 Tips to Successful Yeast Making and Drying

  1. Don’t use too much salt or sugar when working with baker’s yeast. Both are necessary but too much of either, especially salt, will dry out the yeast.
  2. Make sure that all of your equipment is clean to the point of sterility. Any stray bacteria will ruin your yeast.
  3. To dry your yeast, simply spread your starter in a thin layer on baking sheet and dry either in the sun, in a warm (NOT HOT!) oven – about 100 degrees will do, or use your dehydrator. Don’t let it get too hot or you will kill the yeast.
  4. Store the dried yeast in an airtight container.
  5. To substitute your yeast for store-bought yeast, use 1 cup of wet starter for 1 pack of yeast, or twice the amount of homemade dried yeast as what’s recommended in the recipe.
  6. Do not put yeast or starter in your compost pile because the bacteria can grow out of control and upset the delicate balance of your pile.
  7. When you feed your starter, which we will explain in a bit, you need to throw away one cup of the original starter to keep the ratios even. That is, unless you feel like making a delicious loaf of bread or some cinnamon rolls instead of wasting it!
  8. Don’t wash your fruits or vegetables because you’ll wash off the yeast spores. Just take off any stems or leaves.
  9. Use homegrown or wild fruits or veggies because the store-bought ones will likely have chemicals. At the very least, they’ll have gone through a washing process which will have washed off the yeast. The exception here is a potato. Still, use organic to avoid the chemicals.

So you have one more recipe to add to your survival TO DO list, next to pemmican, lard, and other basic survival foods that our ancestors used to cook. Click on the banner below to find these secrets that our grandfathers were probably the last generation to practice for survival!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Back To Basics: How To Make And Preserve Lard

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lardLard, or fat from a pig’s belly, has been used for centuries for everything from greasing skillets to waterproofing boots. It’s one of the easiest fats to work with and it can be made with very little effort.

Though saturated fat has been scorned for the last couple of decades because of its purported ill effects on health, lard still has a place in the home, especially if you’re living off the grid or are in a situation where you have to live off of what you have.

Why You Need It

Before we go into how to make lard, you need to know a bit about why it’s not the demon that the medical community has made it out to be. The fact is, lard isn’t as bad for you as butter is and it’s a good source of vitamin D as long as it’s from a pastured pig. Lard is only about 40 percent saturated fat, while the other 60 percent is unsaturated.

You’ll notice that I stipulated that the fat needed to come from a pastured pig. That means that store-bought lard or the fats from store-bought bacon likely don’t have the same health benefits of naturally raised pigs. The lard from grain-fed commercial pigs doesn’t have the omega-3’s found in pastured pigs, either.

Oh, and lard doesn’t make you fat or kill your heart, despite what you read or what your traditional doc may tell you. It’s all about balance and recent research proves that natural animal fats doesn’t deserve to be vilified nearly as much as margarine or that other can of stuff that replaced lard in the 50s or 60s.

The key point that you need to take away from this is that there is a huge difference between commercial lard and locally sourced, pastured lard. The fat content is the same, but the health benefits can be vastly different. Of course, if you’re using fat from your own pigs, this is a non-issue if you’re raising them as most small farmers do, in the pasture.

In addition to using lard to grease your skillet, there are many other uses for it. Lard is great to use to waterproof your coats or shoes, and you can make candles from it. It will make the flakiest pastry crust you’ve ever eaten, and it’s been used for centuries to make soap. It’s great to use as a lubricating oil on mechanical equipment and will help prevent rust.

Lard is a great moisturizer and is often used in folk remedies as the base for balms. As a farm-raised girl, we used lard all the time, and still do. These are just a few uses that I can think of off the top of my head.

lard

How to Make It

Now, let’s get down to the business of the lost art of making lard. I think you’re going to be pleasantly surprised at how easy it actually is, and pleased to learn that there’s a crispy, tasty treat that you’re going to get out of the process.

As I’ve already stated, finished lard is made by rendering pig fat. Rendering itself is a simple process; by that, I mean that there aren’t many steps to it and it doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or equipment. As a matter of fact, all you need is good fat, clean water, a heavy-bottomed stock pot, a sieve with some cheesecloth (or a really fine sieve) and a quiet afternoon to dedicate to the process.

I’m even going to touch on how to do it in a slow cooker; that‘s how simple it is. That doesn’t mean that rendering is always easy, because it’s not. For example, rendering bear fat is labor-intensive and stinky. Rendering lard is much less painful, and the results are worth it.

The first thing that you need to do is acquire high-quality pig fat. There are two different areas of the pig that you can make lard from. The first type of fat is called leaf lard; it’s located inside of the pig near the kidneys. Back fat is from – yup, you guessed it – the back of the pig.

Back fat is a richer-flavored lard that may not be as suitable for some tasks such as baking because you don’t really want pork flavored peach pie crusts. It’s great for cooking meat and vegetables in. Also, since it comes from the back, it’s probably going to have some meat still attached to it.

Leaf fat tends to be more pure, without the added meat, and isn’t strongly flavored. This is what you want to use for your pie crusts and other types of cooking that require lard that doesn’t taste like fat.

Next, you need to figure out how much lard you want. You’ll need just under a pint of lard per pound of fat rendered. Now you’re ready to start making lard!

Trim and Cut Your Chilled or Frozen Fat

You’re basically melting the fat, so you’ll have to cut it into small pieces if you want it to render evenly and in a timely manner. Because the fat tends to be a bit soft, it’s easier to work with if it’s frozen, or at least chilled. Some people grind it, which is labor-intensive on the front end but makes the rendering a bit easier. You don’t need to do this, though. Just trim off as much meat and blood spots as you can and then cut the fat into 1/2-inch cubes.

Add Your Fat and Some Water to Your Stock Pot

You only need a 1/2 cup or so of filtered water. This doesn’t have to be an exact amount because it’s going to evaporate. The only purpose of the water is to keep your chilled fat from burning until it starts to melt. Put the lid on the stock pot and bring the lard to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Wait for the Rendering!

All you need to do now is let the fat melt with the lid on, stirring it occasionally. After 45 minutes or an hour, the water will be evaporated and the fat will be melting nicely. You’ll start to notice little bits of meat floating to the surface of the fat. These are called cracklings and are the delicious little surprises that I mentioned earlier. They’re also a good indicator of when your lard is done. Keep stirring periodically.

Strain Your Lard

As the fat continues to melt and reaches the point where it’s mostly liquid, you’ll notice that the cracklings are settling to the bottom of the pot. How long this takes depends on how much lard you’re rendering and is also affected by the humidity. This is your sign that the lard is done.

Turn the heat off and line a sieve with cheesecloth. You can use a fine-mesh sieve but this step is kind of important because you want to get all of the cracklings out of the lard for preservation purposes, and for purity, too. You don’t want cracklings in your pie crust.

Finishing Your Lard

If you only rendered a bit of fat, you can just pour the fat through the sieve into another kettle. If you rendered more than a quart or so, use a ladle because the liquid lard is going to be hot and hot grease makes for a nasty burn. Be careful. I prefer to use the ladle because it helps to keep the settled stuff on the bottom of the pot, too.

Once you strain it, you can pour the lard into your prepared jars. You don’t have to do this immediately; you can let the lard cool for 15 or 20 minutes so that you don’t have to worry so much about burning yourself.

Rendered lard will be a light golden color in its liquid form but it will cool to a creamy white color.

Video first seen on Health Nut Nation

Finish Your Cracklings

This is the delicious reward for your hard work. Cracklings are protein-rich, crispy, and delicious. They’re great as a snack or to put in your green beans or salad. Just let them fry down a bit until they’re crispy.

Storing Your Lard

Lard will store for a few weeks on the counter top, a few months in the fridge, or almost indefinitely in the freezer or canned. It’s important to boil all of the water out of your lard, but if you only use 1/4 or 1/2 cup in the beginning and you cook it low and slow as directed, this won’t be a problem.

Using a Slow Cooker

If you want to do this in the crock pot, the process is essentially identical except you should leave the lid on for the first hour or so. Start on high and if it seems that your fat is going to singe, turn it down.

After the fat starts to melt, remove the lid. After most of the fat is melted, start removing the lard from the slow cooker so that the rest of the lard will melt faster. The main difference is that you’ll need to bake the cracklings for a few minutes when you’re done in order to get them crisp.

Now you know how to make your own lard at home, and even if you don’t have your own pigs, you can sweet-talk your local butcher or farmer and you may even get it for free! Score! Then start preparing other recipes that were basic things that our ancestors used to make. Click on the banner below to find these secrets that our grandfathers were probably the last generation to practice for survival!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Survival Garden: DIY Cold Frames

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Cold FrameToday’s article is aimed at preppers who aren’t lucky enough to live in warm or temperate climates yet are willing to try to grow their own survival garden.

Cold frames are basically mini-greenhouses and they work by collecting natural warmth to take care of your seedlings in the spring, and to keep your organic veggies alive and kicking through the fall and winter.

Basically, if you want to grow your own survival garden regardless of your climate (well, ALMOST regardless), keep reading folks.

Unlike a regular greenhouse, a DIY cold frame project requires less space, less work and less spending.

Being a do-it-yourself thingy for those of you working on a tight budget or a small scale operation, I will try to enlighten you about how to use readily available materials from around your homestead for protecting your survival garden during the cold months of the year.

To put it simply, a cold frame can be described as a regular box, featuring a transparent cover or a lid, which works by passively collecting the energy from the sun and also acts as a reservoir for your tender plants, seedlings and what not.

Just like a solar panel, the energy radiated by the sun heats the soil and the air inside the box and during the night, the absorbed energy (in form of heat) is released, keeping your mini-survival garden alive and well.

Cold frames are very useful especially early in the spring, when they provide an optimal environment for starting your veggie seedlings or transplanting the annual flowers you’ve already started indoors.

Basically, almost any type of seed can be started directly inside the frame and developed in a controlled environment until it can be safely transplanted outdoors, in your garden.

During hot summer months, the lid may be replaced by using shade lath or cloth, thus providing something like a nursery of sorts for rooted cuttings.

Now folks, everything in life seems to be about location, and the same theory applies to DIY-ing cold frames. You should choose a well-protected site for your DIY project to keep it safe from harsh winds. Choose a spot near shrubs, trees, a wall or a fence. Also, make sure you choose a place which is exposed to sunlight as long as possible during the day, and that your cold frames are oriented properly, to face southwest or south.

Another trick is to sink the frame ~10 inches into the ground, thus maximizing its heat-retention capability. Be advised that your desired location should have good drainage so that you avoid rain water collecting around your frame.

How to Build a Cold Frame

Next, let’s take a look at the basics of DIY-ing cold frames. Let’s start with the obvious: the dimensions. Since the most important thing in a cold frame is the transparent cover/lid, start by selecting your desired cover, as its dimensions will determine the frame’s dimension.

The best choice (and also the cheapest) would be to recycle an old storm window or a window sash; you may even have one in the attic or in the shed – go check it out. If the “going gets tough”, you can always use an old shower door. There’s little to no difference between all these options. Any of them would do just fine for your DIY cold frames project.

If you can’t find anything laying around, go cruising garage sales, keeping an eye out for recycled windows and things of that nature. If you’re skilled enough and patient, you can even build a cover by sandwiching fiberglass sheets or clear acrylic between strips of wood (the corners should be strengthened using metal plates). Even polyethylene film can be used, carefully stapled to a wooden frame. All of these methods are quick and cheap, but will only last for a limited amount of time. They’ll be good for about a year or so.

If you’re using old windows, make sure they’re not covered with lead-based paint (lead is very toxic and lead poisoning is a no fun). Also, check the wood for signs of rot and make sure that the glass is firmly secured in its wooden frame.

For those of you living in the extreme North, where below zero temps and heavy winter snows are on the menu for 3-4 months every year, you should stay away from glass covers, because the accumulation of snow will almost certainly break your glass covered cold frames.

In such areas, the best options are thick sheets of window-strength plastic, such as Lucite. There are other brands, some better, including  Lexane, which are extremely resilient against elements, such as ice, snow, sleet and rain.

Some professional gardeners are using 4×8-foot panels made from corrugated fiberglass for their cold frames. These are sold for building green house walls, so they’re as tough as they come and made exclusively for this job, but they’re relatively expensive.

However, the corrugated fiberglass panels let tons of light inside and, most importantly, they’re durable and they don’t turn yellow after prolonged exposure to sunlight; hence they’re ideal if you want to build a cold frame that lasts for years and years. If you look at the cost from that point of view, they’re actually not that expensive.

Keep the cover as light as possible so that it’s easy to lift and try not to make it too wide to allow for easy access to the plants inside the cold frame. Two or three feet of width would be as small as you’d probably want to go, while a length of four feet will allow you to grow almost any variety of plant inside while still being able to handle the lid without too much difficulty.

The frame itself can be built from scrap lumber, a cheap and readily available material. You can also use cedar, cypress or redwood (they’re naturally rot-resistant) or even dirt cheap plywood. Stay away from toxic materials, such as pressure treated wood, which may contain (almost surely) highly toxic substances, such as arsenic.

The simplest and maybe the cheapest frame can be built using hay bales. All you have to do is to arrange 4 bales of straw or hay into a nice square shape, the bales being basically the sides of your DIY cold frame project.

The transparent cover/lid goes on top of the bales (a plastic cover or a sheath of glass) and that’s about it. The straw can be used next spring for mulch after you finish with your frame and disassemble it.

If you’re making this a more permanent cold frame project, i.e. lumber-made frames, remember that the edges of the box should be weather-proofed using weather stripping on the top edges. Also, try to use galvanized steel hinges for attaching the cover/lid.

Remember to slope the frame with at least a 6-inch slope from the back to the front of the box for trapping as much heat as possible and to allow the rain water to run off. Vertical posts should be used for reinforcing the corners of the box to lend additional strength.

Another option for a permanent and very solid DIY cold frame project is to build the side walls from stone and mortar. Stone walls will definitely require more work and skills, but if you have these materials on your property, they can be very cheap, and you’ll learn a thing or two in the process (like pouring concrete, making mortar etc).

An interesting alternative for your cold frame side walls are cinder blocks, if you have them around your homestead and/or you can’t get your hands on bales of hay, straw, lumber or whatever. Cinder blocks are extremely durable and they insulate very well; just remember to arrange them in such a way that the holes point up and down or else the air will circulate freely.

Remember to keep the top holes covered, to keep your frame warmer during the coldest months of the year. You can also fill them with dirt to insulate them further.

If cinder blocks aren’t your thing, you can always use PVC to make a cold frame. The frame is built using PVC piping and a thick, strong sheet plastic for cover. This type of cold frame design is extremely light and portable, and also dirt cheap.

To prevent overheating, which translates into dead plants just as quickly as freezing does, make sure that you properly ventilate your cold frame. Proper ventilation is possibly the most important consideration when it comes to growing a survival garden inside a cold frame.

For keeping track of the temperature fluctuations, you should install a min-max thermometer. If the heat inside the frame reaches/exceeds 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, be ready to prop open the lid using a dowel or a sturdy stick.  In the afternoon you must close the lid, for trapping the heat inside.

Remember to make notches on your prop stick. This way, you’ll be able to prop open the top cover at various heights, in correlation with the outside temperature.

As a high-tech option, you may use an automatic vent in your cold frame design, which opens and shuts your cold frame automatically when the desired temperatures are achieved.

However, the automatic vent is only usable if you live in a temperate geographical area, where snow is a rare occurrence, because accumulated snow on the lid will render the auto-vents useless, as they’re not strong enough to cope with the additional weight.

If the weather gets very cold, be prepared to drape the frame using a piece of carpet or an old blanket for additional insulation.

The last question we need to answer is: what can you grow inside a cold frame? The answer to that question is “anything you grow in your regular garden”. People commonly sow seeds of lettuce, spinach, choy and kale in cold frames during the fall months in order to enjoy them in the winter.

Also, in certain areas where the growing season is very short, your only chance of growing warm weather crops is a cold frame.

Take a look at the first tutorial, which details a cold frame DIY project step by step and than the second one which shows a 4×8 over a raised bed.

Video first seen on Fine Gardening

Video first seen on Bill Farmer

I hope the article helped and if you have suggestions or comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.

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How To DIY A Greenhouse: 9 Projects For Your Homestead

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GreenhouseToday’s article is as green as it gets, because it’s about DIY-ing greenhouses. How do you build a greenhouse, you ask? The easy answer is: you build a house and you paint it green.

Ok, I am kidding, but today’s article is about the basics of DIY-ing your own-personal greenhouse, the types you can build, tips and tricks, and what to beware of. You know, the whole 9 yards in DIY for the self-conscious prepper.

The first question to answer is: why do you need a greenhouse?

Well, maybe because gardening is a very rewarding hobby, especially when it comes to building your survival garden for when SHTF. And, it’s also a very relaxing one (hobby, that is), combining something very useful with lots of fun in the process.

So, if you’re that kind of prepper who tries to be as independent as humanly possible, today’s article will fit you like a glove.

If you seek to get off the grid, a greenhouse will definitely help you in your endeavor. I mean, growing your own food is more than rewarding; it’s the definition of survival. And growing your own food in a greenhouse means that even cold weather is not a problem.

Plant life and veggies are particularly sensitive when it comes to harsh weather, but a greenhouse is very effective in mitigating that problem. Moreover, when it comes to a do-it-yourself job, a greenhouse is the perfect solution, both in terms of complexity and costs.

So, let’s talk a little bit about greenhouses, or, better, about how to DIY them. There’s an inside joke about this type of projects: a DIY project will cost you twice as much, it will look half as good and it will take twice as long as you initially anticipated. The time part may be right, but if you follow the directions well, the cost and appearance parts are rubbish! Well, it will cost you a bit, but not nearly as much as if you paid somebody to come and build you one.

Hence, brace yourself, because DIY-ing a greenhouse is not exactly a child’s play, but the end result will be awesome.

When it comes to building stuff, first you must define the terms: what’s a greenhouse after all?

Simply put, a greenhouse is a type of structure which creates an ideal micro-climate for plant life to grow and develop, so it can be used to start plants such as veggies or to grow them from seed to…well, the end.

The firs