Peanut Butter as a Survival Food: Protein Packed in the Pantry

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One of the best survival foods is widely available and probably already in your pantry! Peanut butter is an excellent and nutritious way to stay fed during an emergency, disaster, or SHTF. It has plenty of nutrients and protein to carry you over for short periods, or it can supplement a long-term food storage supply. …

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27 Foods That Last For Decades

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Food storage is a big and complicated topic, and for newbie preppers it can be a bit overwhelming. That’s why my advice to anyone stockpiling food for the first time is to start simple. Focus on foods that will last for years without any special preservation methods. For example, you could get some beans, sugar, …

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5 Keys to Food Security in Extreme Weather, for Home Gardeners

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Back in August 2015, I wrote a post about the findings of a joint task force of experts from the U.K. and U.S. The group had released recommendations for Extreme Weather and Resilience of the Global Food System. You can read the original post on food security here: 

Read More: “Extreme Weather and Food Resilience for Home Growers”

Quite frankly, that report was pretty scary. It detailed all sorts of reasons why our global food supply was in serious jeopardy. When that report was released in 2015, I had noted how relevant it was in light of a number of catastrophic weather events going on at the time, wreaking havoc on crops and raising food prices in some areas.

Now, just a couple of years later, the situation has become even worse. Hurricanes, mudslides, drought-related fires, disrupted weather patterns, wars, and more have caused crazy fluctuations in food supplies around the world.

In March 2017, the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) released a Global Report on Food Crises 2017.1)http://www.fao.org/3/a-br323e.pdf In that report, they indicated that the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity had increased by 35% since the release of the 2015 report.

Quite a bit of that lack of food security was related to conflict. However, catastrophic weather events like droughts had also driven up the costs of staple foods, making them unaffordable for large groups of people.

If you think this can only happen in poor, war-torn countries, then consider this. In the U.S. in 2017, there were at least 16 weather events that cost over a billion dollars each and resulted in losses of crops, livestock, and other resources, as well as of homes, businesses, personal property, and lives.2)https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/events/US/2017 In 2016, there were 15 of these weather catastrophes; in 2015, there were 9; in 2014, there were 8; and in 2013, there were 9.

It might be too early to say that 15-16 catastrophic, billion-dollar weather events is the new normal for the U.S. However, new data modeling shows that there are real risks that both the U.S. and China might simultaneously experience catastrophic crop losses that could drive up prices and send more countries into food famine in the coming decades.3)https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/15/climate-change-food-famine-study

In 2017, due to a weakened dollar, food prices in the U.S. increased by 8.2%.4)https://www.thebalance.com/why-are-food-prices-rising-causes-of-food-price-inflation-3306099 That trend hopefully won’t continue in 2018, but between weather and world volatility, isn’t it better to bank on building your own food security independent of global markets and events?

We think so, too! So, we want to give you some ideas to help you build your own food security at home.

Food Security Recommendation #1: Understand Your Risks

Building on the ideas from our earlier post on “Extreme Weather and Food Resilience for Home Growers,” it’s really important to know the risks for your area and plan your gardening practices to be resilient even when disaster hits.

Many  governments and global non-governmental organizations have made predictive models for the likely regional effects of climate change available. You can use these models to identify trends in your area. Here are a few example models available:

Even if you don’t live in one of these areas, a quick Internet search for “climate change impacts” for your area should give good results. This search may link to articles about impacts as well as to modeling tools. Focus on search hits from government or academic websites for more comprehensive, peer-reviewed climate change data.

Food Security Recommendation #2: Consider Using Permaculture-Based Landscape Design

There have been so many weather-related disasters recently that it is hard to know what to prepare for anymore. In California, extreme dry weather and winds made for a devastating fire season. Then, the loss of vegetation from the fire season led to severe mudslides during torrential rains. Parts of Australia have also been suffering similar catastrophic cycles of drought and flooding.

In Western North Carolina where I live—a locale that we chose specifically because it is expected to be less impacted by climate change (e.g., sea levels rising, coastal hurricanes, etc.)—we’ve had extended dry periods followed by heavy rains that led to lots of vegetation losses in our area.

Drought-flood cycles are extremely damaging to plant life. In dry periods, plant roots dehydrate and shrivel. Soil also shrinks from water loss. Then when heavy rains come, the soil and roots no longer have the water-holding capacity they once did. Rather than the rain being absorbed, it sits on top of dry, compacted soils in flat areas, causing flooding. Or it moves downhill, taking topsoil and vegetation with it as it goes, causing mudslides and flash flooding in other areas.

When you use permaculture design in planning your foodscapes, you take into account these kinds of cycles of drought and heavy rain that would otherwise be damaging to vegetation. In fact, you make them work for you. Simple solutions like catching and storing water high on your land can help you better weather the cycles of drought and flood.

By applying permaculture principles, you can help safeguard your food security by making your landscape more resilient to weather extremes and diversifying your food supply to ensure you get good yields regardless of weather.

To get an idea of how permaculture works, check out this tour of Zaytuna Farm given by Geoff Lawton.

Also, if you want a short but powerful introduction to what permaculture can do in extreme landscapes, check out these titles by Sepp Holzer:

Food Security Recommendation #3: Manage Your Microclimates

Every property has microclimates. For example, in North America, it will almost always be a bit warmer along the edges of a south-sloping blacktop driveway. This is because the path of the sun will cast more sun on southern-facing slopes. They are literally like sun scoops, catching its rays.

food security - blacktop asphalt

“Closeup of pavement with grass” by User:Angel caboodle is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Additionally, dark colors absorb more heat than light colors. If you painted that same driveway white, it would still be warmer due to its southern slope. However, the white paint would reflect light and heat away from the driveway and would keep that same area cooler than with a blacktop driveway.

The physical mass of blacktop asphalt material also acts as a heat sink. It draws in heat during the day and releases  it back into surrounding areas as air temperatures cool at night. The same driveway made with light-colored concrete might not absorb quite as much heat as an asphalt driveway due to its color. However, it would still act as a heat sink by virtue of its mass.

The shade of a large oak tree creates a cooler area than the dappled shade of a pruned fruit tree. Large bodies of water will help regulate extreme temperatures. A wide, stone knee wall around a raised bed will insulate the soil inside better than thin wood boards because of its mass. Boulders in your landscape are also heat sinks. Even things like black trash cans can impact temperatures directly around their vicinity.

Gaining a basic understanding of how colors attract light waves, learning how different kinds of mass (rocks, soil, trees, etc.) store heat and divert wind, and knowing the path of the sun at different times of the year in your area can help you use microclimates to moderate the effects of extreme cold and heat. Using your slopes, like north-facing slopes to keep things cooler and south-facing slopes to heat things up, can also help. Working with shade patterns to minimize or maximize sun exposure can help moderate hot and cold temperature extremes.

For example, I live in USDA planting Zone 7a. With the extreme cold weather we’ve had this year, our conditions were closer to Zone 5.  Some of my plants—like rosemary, which is hardy to zone 7—were killed by the cold. After our last risk of frost passes, I plan to replant rosemary bushes in front of our south-facing house and mulch them with dark stones. In that location, even if we have Zone 5 conditions again, my rosemary should make it just because the heat mass from our house and the stones, the southward orientation, and the wind protection give it the right microclimate.

Cold frames, greenhouses, and underground areas (e.g., walipinis) are also good ways to create microclimates on your property to ensure longer and more secure food production in extreme conditions. Check out this post from Marjory to learn about building your own underground greenhouse.

Read More: “Underground Walipini Pit Greenhouse Construction”

Food Security Recommendation #4: Go Big on Organic Matter in Your Soil

If I pour a bucket of water over some of the heavy clay soil in my landscape, water runs off on slopes. In flat or cratered areas, it sits on top, eventually making a big muddy mess that becomes algae-covered if we don’t have enough wind or sun to dry it out.

If I pour a bucket of water over the same approximate amount of area in one of my vegetable garden beds, loaded with compost, the bucket of water soaks in. Even on sloped beds, the water sinks and stays put rather than running off.

Soils that are high in organic matter are more porous and spacious than compacted soils.

If you try the same experiment with sand, the water will also soak in as it did in my garden bed. Unfortunately, it won’t stay there. Come back a few hours later and that water will be gone, which means it is not stored in the root zone for later use by plants.

Soils that are high in organic matter also preserve moisture better than sandy soils.

In order to hold water in your soil during droughts and catch it during heavy rains, you need a lot of organic matter in your soil. Here are a few easy ways you can up your organic matter quotient at home.

  1. Add compost.
  2. Mulch with things like wood chips, straw, old hay, grass clippings, and mulched leaves.
  3. Plant, then chop and drop cover crops like grain grasses, clover, mustard, or chicory.
  4. Use no-till or minimal till practices and leave decaying roots and plant matter in the soil.

Check out these TGN posts to learn more about these methods.

“No Till Gardening: Homesteading Basics (VIDEO)”

“Build Your Compost Pile Right On Your Garden Beds!”

“From Weeds to WOW: The Weed Island”

“No Bare Soil! Vegetable Garden Cover Crops”

Adding organic matter not only slows the flow of water in your landscape and sinks it deeper into plant roots, but it actually sinks carbon dioxide, too.

Yes! Building soil that is higher in organic matter can actually help solve our CO2 problem. And solving our CO2 problem will moderate the disastrous effects of climate change and can mitigate future weather extremes. (No, this one answer won’t solve all our problems—but if lots of us do it, it will help!)

Food Security Recommendation #5: Remember ABC—Always Be Cover-cropping

Plant roots are like plumbing for your soil. They create little channels that help divert water down into the earth so it can be accessed by the plant and other biological soil inhabitants. By growing something in your soil at all times, you keep those pathways open for water to filter down into the soil.

For annual growing areas, planting cover crops in off seasons is critical. However, even for the rest of your landscape, having some sort of cover crop is necessary for extreme weather resilience.

Many of us grow lawns as our primary perennial cover crop. Traditional lawns, though, are shallow-rooted and do not contribute much to soil health. Growing grasses with deeper root systems like perennial rye and other prairie- or meadow-type grasses can be even more beautiful and give you deep roots to help sink water further into your soil.

Using vegetative perennials (i.e., that die back in the winter) with expansive root systems is also a great way to prevent soil erosion and build biomass in your landscape. Yarrow, Russian comfrey, curly dock, burdock, vetches, and even invasives like mints are useful for covering bare soil in a hurry. Since these plants lose their leaves each year and can be heavily pruned in the growing season, they make great green manure or mulch plants, too. Tap-rooted trees like black locust and paw paw also drill water and air down deep into your soil.

In addition, having a continuous cover of plants (or leaves from those plants) keeps your soil cooler on hot days and warmer on cool days. This protects all the biological life in your soil like bacteria, fungi, worms, and more so that they can work year-round. Their continued hard work means that your soil will get better year after year so that your plants will have more disease resistance and resilience during bad weather streaks.

Bare soil  = No biological life = More pests, more diseases, and greater weather sensitivity for your plants

Covered soil = Year-round biological workers = Healthier plants better adapted to your weather extremes

If you are willing to do the research and the work, there are plenty of things you can do to mitigate your risks from a changing climate and more volatile weather patterns. These ideas are barely the tip of the iceberg (which is lucky for us since glaciers are now melting at an alarming rate)!

What about you? What other ways are you safeguarding your food security against extreme weather patterns?

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The Grow Network is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate program designed to provide a means for our team to earn fees for recommending our favorite products! We may earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you, should you purchase an item after clicking one of our links. Thanks for supporting TGN!

 

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.fao.org/3/a-br323e.pdf
2. https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/events/US/2017
3. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/15/climate-change-food-famine-study
4. https://www.thebalance.com/why-are-food-prices-rising-causes-of-food-price-inflation-3306099

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No Work Gardening – Ruth Stout Method

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Growing vegetables for your family is smart these day: you can be sure to have balanced and nutritious meals and food that has no nasty chemicals added for “better’ growth. But gardening is hard! Old fashion gardening takes digging and weeding and watering and keeping up with a good size garden can take its toll …

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300,000 People Are Joining This Online Event—Are You?

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The modern diet is making billions of people sick and fat.

If you’re fed up with toxic food, and hungry for a change, then I have wonderful news. My friends John and Ocean Robbins are getting ready to bring YOU one of the most powerful free events in the history of food. Have you signed up yet?

Learn the truth about food at the 2018 Food Revolution Summit.

Our current diet is leading to heart disease, dementia, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases.

But the truth is, you can beat disease, and step into great health — starting with the food on your plate!

From April 28-May 6, John and Ocean are interviewing 24 of the world’s top medical and food experts you can trust, including Joel Fuhrman, MD; Kris Carr; Michael Greger, MD; Vani Hari; Neal Barnard, MD; Dale Bredesen, MD; Mark Hyman, MD; David Perlmutter, MD; and many more.

During this weeklong, online event, you’ll gain the latest insights on food and nutrition. And you’ll learn about specific foods that can enhance brain health, prevent cancer, and put you solidly on the path to lasting wellness.

This isn’t time for fewer pesticides, hormones, antibiotics, added sugars, additives, colorings, and processing. If we truly want health, now is the time for a food revolution.

If you know that food matters, and you want to do the best for your body and your planet, then this is THE place to be.

Join the Food Revolution Summit and get the resources you need to stand up for real food.

I’ll see you there!

 

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Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

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Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?

Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?
Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided below!

Can she bake a cherry pie Billy Boy Billy Boy; can she bake a cherry pie? Fast as a cat can wink it’s eye! Can you, can your spouse, family members or friends? The question on A Preppers Path is can you cook? I mean more than pouring water in a styrofoam cup and putting it in the microwave for a dinner of noodles.

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Short Term & Long Term Food Supply

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Food storage is an essential part of being self-reliant. It allows us the freedom to be far less dependent on grocery stores in an emergency. Researchers believe that the average American goes to the grocery store 1.5 times per week. If there is a war, major disaster, crop […]

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Build a Garden Bench from a Bed

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These little DIY projects can be as much about preserving memories as they are about repurposing. On the prepper journey there are a number of places you end up. You will find that the word prepper is merely a vehicle. Its a vehicle to get you to a certain place. If you are a person …

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Ready To Eat Canned Food Suggestions For Your Prepper Stockpile

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A staple of all preppers is their food stockpile. In fact, its arguable that Americans need to focus on creating their own stockpile to deal with the increasing threat of regional disasters. The month of March has featured a nor’easter every week of this! Its important for people to start taking note and being more …

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Home made dog food test

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I have been doing some research on making home made dog food and it looks very doable plus I should save money compared to buying the caned dog food in the store.  I bought some of the ‘fresh pet’ refrigerated dog food to see if my dogs would like/tolerate dog food not in a can.  This week the dogs have been eating the fresh pet food and the pups seem to like it much better than the old canned dog food.  Only one pup had an upset stomach during the change over to the new food.   So for my first batch of home made dog food I’m going to replicate the basic chicken and brown rice  recipe.  The basic ingredients to start are:

Skinless chicken breast on sale

Brown rice

Low sodium chicken broth

Frozen peas and carrots until the garden starts producing vegetables. Other dog safe veggies in 6-8% total amounts.  Green beans, broccoli, pumpkin, yams/sweet potato and berries.

Mineral supplements: until I get more bone broth made and can add some raw meaty bones to the dog’s diet.

No additional salt though I may add some dog safe herbs in the future for vitamins for the pups as I learn more about making dog food

That is the basic mix for the dog food but I will be adding a beef mix and bones as I find what works for my dogs and I learn more about dogie nutrition.  I have learned that there are a lot things you should not feed a dog.  Anything with garlic, onions or white flour is very bad for dogs.  I’m steering clear of using whole wheat for any kind of doggie food grain/carbs.  Dogs seem to have a gluten intolerance built in their DNA so easier to use other grains.  From what I have research so far on dog safe grains is White or brown rice, steel cut oat meal, whole barley and some of the other gluten free grains like quinoa or a dry feed corn.  All grains must be cooked before feeding it to your dog.  If  you have different data please let me know in the comments as I’m still a newbie at making dog food.

My goal is to feed my dogs  better than just the average canned dog food.  Make up a big batch of dog food and store it in the fridge or freezer and perhaps can the dog food for storage.  While many people say they would feed pets scraps from the table. I would have no problem eating the Dog food I’m making other than adding spices, garlic or onions.

FIY: I stayed away from adding adding salt, pepper or herbs for this recipe but even I found the new mix tasty if a little bland.  Adding a little salt and pepper after the food is done cooking should fix that bland taste.
Taste test: Brodie the big peke,  loves the chicken and rice dog food! Tucker the peke is half the size of Brodie so 1 or 2 small meals a day fills him up.  Tucker finished up the last of the “freshpet” food this morning so he might eat later.

I want to try out a beef & barley recipe, a modified beef stew and using some salmon/white rice recipes this spring.  My plan is by using several types of protein, carb and veggie mixes I will get the pups all the vitamins and minerals they need to be healthy.  Plus I will eliminate all the “fillers” and chemicals I read on the ingredient labels  on ‘wet’ dog food cans.

I may grow a few pumpkins and make a better bed for Sweet potatoes as those are dog safe veggies/carbohydrates for the doggies to eat.

I know many preppers don’t  store dog/cat food as they will feed via scraps, but I never cared for that idea as many table scraps are not good for  my pekes.  With some research I have made good tasting dog food that is darn tasty people food. I used bone-less chicken breasts (on sale) it seems that most home made dog food sites recommend using dark meat chicken and using ‘organ meats’ for the protein part of the recipe.

Overall I’m not sure this is a cheaper way to feed pets but I know the food is safe and I and the dogs like the food.  I know I do not want to eat any type of canned pet food.

So get out your slow cooker/crock pot and start making your own pet food. Make some ‘bone broth’ buy cheap cuts of meat and slow cook the veggies and carbs for you and your pets.

 

Garlic Growing Guide – A Look At How To Grow Organic Garlic

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If you didn’t plant your garlic in the fall, you need to do it very soon, so it has time to mature. This garlic  growing guide will teach you step by step how to plant, care for and harvest garlic. Did you know you only need to get garlic seeds once and have an unlimited …

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Five Food Storage Lessons Learned From WWII

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My great-grandparents were preppers way before prepping was a thing. Is there a specific term for preppers who are also hipsters? Hipster-preppers? Prepsters? If there is, then that’s what you could call my great-grandparents, Dell and Hildegarde Stringham. They were the original  preppers, long before the media started making documentaries about them. They had food […]

Wind warning and a few updates

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There was a wind alert for Mom’s area. Winds gusting up to 30-35 MPH  this week, but Mom said the tarp over the chicken run handled the wind with no problems.  In fact one of the old chickens even laid an egg.  I think that is one of the first eggs laid out at Mom’s new place so I take that as sign the chicks are feeling more comfortable at the new place.

I’m making up a new batch of the paraffin wax/sawdust fire starters.  Gosh I got spoiled using these fire starters.  I tried going back to  using paper and kindling is a major pain in the butt getting a fire started!  Good news is Mom had some paraffin wax in her boxes so I did not have to purchase any wax this month.  I will have a couple of egg crates of fire starters for Mom and get at least four crates done for myself to have for this month.  I have been going to the local park and picking up pine cones.  A 5 gallon bucket of pine cones and dried twigs that have dropped under pine trees tend to be very dry tinder and most park departments don’t clean up under pine trees.  I figure if I fill a couple of 5 gallon buckets every couple of weeks this summer I can have a couple of trash cans worth of pine cones/tinder before fall and firewood heating season begins this winter.

Update on the vermin problem of mice and cock roaches.  I have not caught any mice since mom moved the chicken house to her place.  I still have a few traps out along with putting out a little cat kibble outside for the cats to catch mice.  The neighborhood cats stop by occasionally for a snack and a little water but they don’t seem to be hunting mice.  It has been about 3 months and I have not seen a single roach in the house. I have cleaned up some of the DE on the counter but have left some DE in the cabinets for residual protection.  At this point I’d say I’m at maintenance level against vermin rather than trying to eliminate an infestation.

Overall I can’t say I was all that impressed with the exterminator.  Don’t get me wrong I think the exterminator did the job just fine. It’s just the nature of vermin to look for an easy meal and you have to be pro-active in stopping them from getting that easy meal.  One thing I never considered about cockroaches is my kitchen plumbing traps.  Pipes collect grease and food debris as well as trap water.  Those pipes are like a cockroach buffet!  Drain plugs and screens are a great way to block off that cockroach buffet.

I want to start incorporating  the use of small amounts of solar energy and lighting daily.  That means using some of those solar camp lights as night lights. Testing out battery packs and recharging stuff like the cell phone and kindle via small solar panels.  I can’t afford to go full solar power but if I can stay below 750 Kwh per month I will save a lot of money on my electric bill.  Where I am there are off peak hours electric use is the weekend and between 9:00 pm and 6 am  week days, so if the solar can’t charge during a cloudy day I can charge the battery pack during off peak hours and charge my gadget whenever it needs a boost.  I’m taking advantage of the new windows for daylight and trying to keep my light usage to just at night.  I have installed LED Light bulbs and I think you should use power when yo need it for a job, but often I would leave a light on just because and not because I needed it for doing some thing specific.  So far it seems to be making a difference in my power costs.

Flameless Cooking System

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Have you tried a flameless cooking system? Several years ago they were practically unheard of. Now they can be found at most sporting goods stores. It’s not surprising that this innovative gear is becoming more popular. Many emergency cooking systems are unsafe to use indoors because when fuel is burned […]

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The Top 10 Foods to NOT Store!

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Based on my own personal experiences and mistakes, I do not recommend storing these foods in large quantities, long-term. Let me know what you think of my list and what other foods you would add. Foods to not store, long-term 1.  Any canned vegetable or fruit that you do not like This may seem obvious, […]

How to Dehydrate Food for Emergencies

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Food preservation is one of the most important skills you can have. It helps you save money and eat more healthy local food. You can also use it to stock up on food for emergencies, survival scenarios, or just hard times. If you’ve decided to preserve your own food, you might be having trouble deciding […]

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Essential Food Reserve Questions for Yourself and Your Sources

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By Denis Korn

Peace of Mind through honestly answering the relevant questions!

Peace of Mind through honestly answering the relevant questions!

 

As I continue to evaluate the websites of many current providers of shelf stable emergency foods, I am once again motivated to stimulate the due diligence and research I feel that is necessary for my readers so they may be adequately prepared.  I have updated and combined these food reserve questions from two previous posts regarding this issue, and I continue to be angered and saddened at the ignorance and deception that is still rampant in the preparedness industry. 

In the last few years many hundreds of websites, blogs, webinars and food companies have appeared on the scene, and while many are legitimate and sincere, there are too many instant experts.  So many of these folks are simply badly informed and just continue to pass along misinformation and are too lazy to due serious research, or they simply don’t care what information they put out as long is it sells their products.

I have written a number of articles dealing with trust, honesty, reflections, guidelines, questions to ask and recommendations concerning the purchasing of food reserve products.  While the food you rely upon in an emergency is vital and life sustaining, unfortunately few preppers and planers do the valuable research they should for this essential category of provisions.  This post is written to help educate and inform the serious preparedness planner.

This post focuses on food, and as I have indicated in other articles, a dilemma arises – Who can you trust?  How accurate and truthful is information and advice regarding foods for emergency preparedness?  The purpose of this post is to encourage you to ask and answer relevant questions, use common sense and to question the reliability and advice of what you hear and read about foods for preparedness.

What stimulated me to revisit this subject was a blog I recently read that gave a recommended list of foods they thought was needed to be prepared for a long term emergency – it was for a one year period.  This information was a rehash of outdated recommendations and had little relevancy to the realities of food preparation, dietary needs and food preferences in 2018.  This is not the 1800’s.  Do you need 400 pounds of wheat – 150 pounds of beans – many pounds of milk powder, sugar, flour, etc. – per person?  Are you going to spend much of your one year baking and boiling?  Do you have the resources to prepare these core ingredients – water, fuel and time?  Bulk commodities can be valuable in certain food reserve planning, however over reliance on these foods can be detrimental.

I have always been an advocate of a diversity of foods for emergencies because of the numerous set of circumstances that can arise. We just don’t know with certainty what the scenario will be, or the duration and resources available during an emergency.  Finances play an important part in our planning and the cheapest is often not the best nor the appropriate choice.  Determining the foods to store requires serious evaluation and critical and informed thinking – do not be misled by slick advertising, instant experts, endorsements by celebrities and talk show hosts, exaggerated shelf life and taste claims, inadequate serving sizes and foods that once you have read the ingredient declaration you would normally never eat.

While there are many legitimate and quality emergency food companies and true experts, many others are content to profit from foods that – to put it frankly – are truly “survival foods” – foods that might prevent starvation, but are mediocre, have an inadequate caloric value, filed with questionable ingredients, unfamiliar, rely on sugar and other fillers, and might actually cause nutritional problems if consumed for long periods of time.

The first part of this article deals with questions for suppliers, the second part lists food reserve questions that are of value to your personal planning.

For over 40 years now I have personally witnessed, heard and read many conflicting, misleading and outright deceptive claims and information regarding foods for long term storage, and while many food reserve companies are honest and reliable, many are intentionally or unintentionally ignorant and deceitful.

You are highly encouraged to take the following questions seriously and require that the food reserve companies you buy from know what they are doing, and they need to answer these questions honestly and to the best of their ability.  If they can’t – then buyer beware!  In my opinion – there is something immoral, appalling and disgraceful about companies who take advantage of people who may not be adequately informed and are vulnerable to misleading promotion.  Unfortunately many people are more motivated by fear and mindlessly react, then carefully evaluate the facts and make informed decisions.

Spending thousands of dollars on deceptive advertising, hyperbole and exaggeration, being all over the internet with ads, getting high profile talk show hosts and websites to hawk your foods, creating shelf life figures out of thin air, telling folks how nutritious the foods are when they are filled with questionable ingredients, packaging foods in pouches and in a manner that does not assure a long shelf life, and tricking people into thinking they are getting an adequate quantity of foods during an emergency by creating arbitrary “servings” – does not guarantee you are buying value, quality or an adequate supply of vital foods!  The high cost of advertising, endorsements and commissions has to come from somewhere, and all too often it comes from the value of the food products themselves while compromising quality and quantity.

As I am sure you can tell, I am very disappointed and concerned with the state of the “truth in advertising” regarding such an important facet of the preparedness planning process.  The food you eat is life sustaining – and I believe preparedness food companies have an obligation to be honest and provide quality, nutritious foods.

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1. If the company promotes their food reserve assortments by number of servings, you need more information to determine what you are really buying and whether the quantities are adequate.

A common marketing tactic used by many food companies today is to promote a given number of servings in an assortment, and sometimes to even state that an assortment is good for a given period of time with a given number of servings.  In the preparedness market place today, where people may have to depend on daily food rations for their nourishment, only knowing the number of servings in an assortment is close to meaningless and the information insignificant .  Why?  Because a “serving” quantity and quality can be anything the company wants it to be.  You need more information.

2. What are the calories in each serving – the ingredient source of those calories (white sugar, non-nutritive calories or quality calories) – and what method, or source of information, was used to determine the calories in their products?

The standard for comparing one reserve food product with another has traditionally been to compare the number of calories of similar products or meals.  This is done by comparing the calories by either: knowing the stated calories and the weight in a given serving of a product; or the number of calories of a food product in a comparable sized pouch or container.  This enables comparisons of similar items from different companies – comparing apples with apples.  Even the government on their mandated nutritional information requires the calories be listed – and the source of those calories.

3. How many calories does the company recommend one should consume per day, and how many of their servings will it take to achieve this number?

Now you can do the math and compare the real cost and value of one companies products to another.  What is the true cost per quality calorie?  What is the cost for supplying the proper number of calories for the time period in your emergency scenario?  Don’t forget it is the quality of the calories that is critical.

Here is the important issue: The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for the average adult person is 2,000 calories a day (reputable companies generally allow 1,800 to 2,200 calories a day in formulating their assortments).  There are companies who promote a 500 to 1000 calorie per day allowance!

4. If a company uses names for their meals that sound like they contain real meat or are similar sounding to meat recipes – is it real meat, soy or gluten?   

This is a common deception among many companies who either do not have the legal authority to pack real meat products because they do not have USDA inspected facilities, or they try to make their products as cheaply as possible.

5. When a company claims a shelf life of between 20 and 30 years, how was this determined?

I know of only three USDA inspected companies (disclaimer – one of those companies, AlpineAire Foods, is a company I founded in 1979) who have been in business longer than 30 years with a diverse selection of blended meals and individual items for long term food reserve products who can verify shelf life, use the proper packaging technologies and have their own testing facilities.

6. What experience does the companies customers have eating their foods exclusively for extended periods of time?   

If a company is selling you foods that you may have to rely upon for weeks, months or possibly years, how did they determine that their foods have the necessary nutritional value to sustain a person for an extended length of time?  This includes children and adults.

7. How does the foods taste and are they formulated to digest properly if consumed for a lengthy period of time?  What about ingredient quality?

Many of today’s preparedness food companies are primarily marketing companies that don’t emphasize quality and nutrition.  Their foods must be made cheaply to support the margins required for their extensive marketing budget, commissions and dealer costs.  Study the ingredient declarations – often very difficult to find if not unavailable on many websites – for artificial flavor enhancers, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors, fillers and white sugar.  Unfortunately, many deceptive companies and stating their meals are “freeze-dried”, however upon reading the ingredients declaration, there are none.  Are there any reliable independent testimonials about the foods you are considering for a preparedness investment?  How long has the company been in the food reserve business?  As happened after Y2K, how likely is the company to go out of business if there is a dip in demand?

NOTE: MRE’S (meals-ready-to-eat – military rations) were formulated by the military for combat soldiers to be eaten for no longer than one month at a time.  They are high fat and high sodium and some people could have digestion issues if eaten over too long a period.

8. What about preparation?

Those of us in the camping/backpacking industry used the expression “just add water” to indicate that to reconstitute your pouched meal just add hot water, let sit and in 10-15 minutes your meal is ready – no cooking required.  Many of the current pouch food companies use the same expression “just add water,” however what is really means is add water and boil/simmer for 15 to 30 minutes.

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Here are some important questions to answer when considering what foods to store for emergencies or serious disasters:

  1. Do you know how to prepare the foods you are considering?
  2. Are the foods you are considering compatible with the scenarios and time frames you believe will occur?
  3. When you invest and purchase your food reserves, will it be – or has it been – an emotional reaction stimulated by fear advertising and paid celebrity/talk-show host endorsements, or will it be motivated by a critical thinking and evaluation process?
  4. Where and under what conditions will you store them?
  5. If you are going to pack your own bulk foods, do you know the proper methods and have the proper packaging?
  6. Are you properly informed as to shelf life issues?
  7. Do your foods contain a proper balance of nutrition?
  8. Can you properly digest the foods you are considering if they differ from you normal diet?
  9. If you store grains, beans and seeds do you know how to sprout them for additional essential nutrition?
  10. Do you have the proper equipment and appliances to utilize and prepare your stored foods?
  11. Have you stored the required foods to handle the scenarios you have considered will potentially occur?
  12. Do you have a adequate quantity to feed yourself, family, friends and anyone else who be relying on you?
  13. Do you or others have medical issues, special requirements or a food intolerance to consider?
  14. Will you be storing supplements?
  15. Have you considered comfort foods?
  16. Will you have access to the water you will need to prepare your stored foods?
  17. Can you grow foods if necessary?
  18. Will you be relying on any frozen food?  What if the electricity goes out?
  19. If you have to be mobile, are the foods you are considering easily transportable?
  20. How trustworthy is the manufacturer or source of the the foods you are considering?
  21. Do you plan to incorporate your food reserves into your normal diet?
  22. Will you be like many who say, “I hope I never have to eat these foods for any extended length of time?”

The post Essential Food Reserve Questions for Yourself and Your Sources appeared first on Learn To Prepare – Expert Emergency Preparedness Information.

Homemade Corned Beef Recipe (without nitrates)

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There is no denying the impact that the Irish have had on this nation. In just a few days you will likely be celebrating your heritage or the heritage of others that you know. While many of these celebrations are highlighted by things like green beer and clover, the food is a big part as …

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What to do With Beet Greens (Instead of Composting Them)

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Are you growing beets this year? I don’t know why you wouldn’t be. You see, the beet is an absolute monster when it comes to your health. For me, the growing of beets is all about sticking them in vinegar and eating them pickled. I love those delicious little beets in vinegar and onions. Of …

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7 Easy To Grow Vegetables You Should Plant This Spring

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Having a vegetable garden is imperative if you want to have some control over what your family eats. If you pick a few easy to grow vegetables, you ‘ll enjoy fresh food without having to stress over keeping up with a full sized garden. Harvesting veggies from your own backyard is not only economical, but …

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5 Reasons Potatoes Are The Best Survival Food To Grow

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In the Andy Weir novel, The Martian — which was made into the movie of the same name starring Matt Damon — the main character, Mark Watney, is stranded on Mars for months. When his supply of packaged food runs out, he grows and eats only potatoes for several weeks and is able to survive […]

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Crop Rotation for the Home Garden, Part 1: Pest Control and Pathogen Prevention

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I am betting that you’re already familiar with the idea of crop rotation. You may have seen large swaths of farm fields covered with corn one year and soybeans the next. That is crop rotation as its most basic level.

Corn is a nitrogen hog and soybeans are a nitrogen fixer. By planting them back-to-back, you help regulate the nitrogen levels in soil, while producing two important food staples.

More sophisticated monoculture rotations include corn, soybeans, wheat, a different nitrogen fixer (other legumes). Some even include using the fields to grow grasses and graze horses or cattle for several years before planting again. This practice of incorporating animal grazing is still fairly common in my region.

Though we often associate crop rotation with industrial farming, the idea of rotating fields is an ancient practice. The early rendition is often referred to as “food, feed, fallow” and has been traced back to ancient Rome.

Essentially, in the first year farmers would grow crops for humans. The second year they would grow grains and graze animals. The third year, they’d let the field rest so the manure age. Then the cycle would start again.

Farmers – and more recently gardeners — have been experimenting with crop rotations to varying degrees since those ancient times. In this three part blog series, I am going to go over some of the main reasons why crop rotation is important and how you can do your crop experimentation at home.

Making your own crop rotation plan based on what you are growing and how you are growing it will get you much better results than following  pre-fab rotational plans made by others who may not have the same challenges as you. That’s because we all have different pest pressure, different pathogen risks, and different ways of amending and tending our gardens.

So, let’s dig into the details of how to create your own crop rotation plan at home.

Why Use Crop Rotation?

There are three primary reasons why people use crop rotation. These include pest prevention, pathogen control, and nutrient management. Let’s get started by examining pest control.

Pest Control – Rotate Your Planting Times

One of the most common reasons to rotate crops is for pest control. If you were growing a large field of pesticide-free cabbage in the same location, year after year, I bet you’ll end up with a severe cabbage moth problem.

A single cabbage moth can lay 2500 eggs in a season. Even if you are diligent at picking off eggs, let’s say you miss some and ten female cabbage moths make it to maturity and begin to reproduce. Each of them also lays 2500 eggs and has 10 females (and a few males) make it to reproduction. This goes on for a few seasons.

Even with just a minuscule number of survivors, from 1 moth, you jump to 10 moths, from 10 moths to 100, from 100 moths to 1000 in just four seasons. Instead of picking off 2500 eggs, you now have to pick off 2,500,000 eggs! In a field full of cabbage, finding all those eggs is impossible and so the problem grows.

Luckily, it’s easy to break this cycle. Since cabbage moth larva feed pretty exclusively on brassicas or cole crops, take away their food supply and the cabbage moths will have no place to lay their eggs. Without suitable host plants for their eggs, the moths will fly off and look for a better place to lay. Viola, pest problem solved!

Why Field Crop Rotation Practices Will not Help the Home Gardener

For the home garden, though, crop rotation for pest management has to be a bit more strategic than just changing planting locations from year to year. Here’s why.

Let’s say you have a 20 x 20 foot garden. Even if you plant cabbage at the top of your garden one year, and the bottom of your garden the next, cabbage moths still only have to fly 20-40 feet to lay their eggs on a host plant. My garden is 100 x 60 feet and cabbage moths fly over the entire area and then go visit my flower patches an acre away. Trust me, 20-40 feet of difference in planting location isn’t going discourage cabbage moths.

How to Use Crop Rotation Strategies for Pest Control in a Small Garden

For crop rotation to be effective in a small garden, you need to think beyond rotating rows and instead think about rotating the timing of your planting to break up the reproductive cycles and prevent infestations.

To do this, you need to know the life cycle for the pest you are trying to control.

As an example, the cabbage moth typically has two generations of offspring each year. The first starts in mid-spring and the second in late summer. If you are planting cabbage in both spring and fall, you are literally offering cabbage moths the perfect conditions to increase their numbers from year to year.

Strategy 1: Shift your Planting Season

A good rotation strategy for controlling cabbage moths and still getting an annual cabbage crop would be to plant in spring one year and fall the next year. By doing this, you cut off the larva food supply during two reproductive cycles back-to-back. Cabbage moths either get the clue and move on or they fail to reproduce successfully. Either way, you win!

Strategy 2: Start Early or Late using Larger Transplants

If you must plant cabbage in both spring and fall, then starting earlier or later can help. Mature plants can withstand more insect damage than smaller plants. By transplanting larger plants into prepared soil before the cabbage moths begin laying, you can increase your yeilds by giving plants a head start over moths.

The challenge with this strategy  is that cabbage doesn’t always transplant well after it gets bigger. Growth may be stunted plants may suffer shock.

Using paper pots that will quickly decompose in the soil can help limit root damage.

Growing transplants in extremely loose planting medium can also make it easier to relocate plants without causing root damage. Note, loose soil medium often requires more watering and nutrient management than heavier mixes.

Strategy 3: Use Observation and Experience to Create Pest Prevention Rotations That Work

Here’s another example to help you figure out how to use the idea of crop rotation for pest control in your garden.

Our first year here, we planted potatoes in an area that had once been covered with crabgrass. We tilled up the soil, amended with compost, and started planting.

Unfortunately, I barely got any potatoes because we ended up with an infestation of wire worms. Those orange mealy-worm-looking guys love living in the roots of grass. It’s like the wire worm equivalent of a nice little house in the suburbs.

Well, when I swapped their suburban grass roots for potatoes, it was like I took those root eaters to Vegas and told them to have a great time on my tab. They went crazy, decimated my potatoes, and exploded their population in the process. Wire worms gone wild in my potato patch…Yikes!

That experience taught me something though. Don’t plant potatoes after grasses if you have wire worms! Since corn, sorghum, and wheat are grasses, I don’t plant potatoes after those plants for at least two years as a habit now.

Strategy 4: Keep Adapting Your Rotation Plan for New Pests

Good crop rotation for pest management is not just a “set and forget it” kind of activity. It’s something you’ll need to update as new pests make their way into your landscape.

Last year I saw my first blister beetle. Actually, I saw hundreds of them. They were demolishing the leaves of my potato plants. This brand new pest had sailed in and started devouring plants that I’d been growing diligently for over three months.

Well, I wasn’t going to have that! So, I got a bowl of water and started knocking them into it.

My chickens love eating all sorts of beetles. I was about to take those pesky pests to my chickens, when some inkling of intuition told me to identify them first. I covered the bowl and hit the computer.

First site I found started with something like “lethal to livestock”. They call them “blister beetles” because they cause blisters if you squish them by hand. The same substance that causes blisters in humans can kill a chicken with the smallest taste and even take out cattle with large infestations.

More research revealed that pigweed is a host plant for these bugs. I wasn’t growing pigweed, but I was growing Elephant Nose amaranth – pigweed’s city cousin – right next to my potatoes.

I went back to the garden, checked my amaranth plants and discovered even more blister beetles. They were covered with them. Except the blister beetles weren’t eating the amaranth – they were just living there and going across to the neighbors for dinner (e.g. my potatoes). I had found their secret hideout!

Well, down came the amaranth, and out went the blister beetles. I had to pick some more off my potato plants since they apparently hadn’t gotten the memo that I’d destroyed their habitat. However, they didn’t return once I removed the amaranth from my garden.

I had been using amaranth as an exotic edible to sell at the farmers market and as a trap plant for flea beetles since they like it a lot more than my other leafy greens. However, those blister beetles are such bad news that amaranth is now rotated out (of the garden) for good.

Steps For Making Your Own Pest Prevention Crop Rotational Schedule

As you can see, using crop rotation for pest control in a small garden is not just about moving plants to new locations. It is about managing pests by knowing their reproductive cycles, their food and habitat preferences, and using that understanding to plan useful rotations.

I Know it can be a bit tricky to figure it out at first. Try these tips to help plan your strategy.

  1. Start by identifying your most persistent pests.
  2. Study up on how the multiply, what they eat, and where they live.
  3. Use that knowledge to time your planting to interrupt reproductive cycles, limit the pests’ food supplies, and offer less hospitable habitat. Aim to break up at least one reproductive cycle to keep your populations in check. You may need longer interruptions for serious infestations.
  4. If your strategies effectively reduce pest populations, then incorporate them into your planting calendar and crop rotation plan.
  5. Repeat as necessary!

Other Examples of Pest Prevention Crop Rotations

Here are a couple other rotations I have figured out based on our pest pressure that might help you create your own rotations.

1. Squash Bugs

Squash bugs only have one reproductive cycle per year. However they are so good at hiding and flying large distances that it has proven impossible to control them with short interruptions.

Instead, we only grow plants in the curcurbit family for two years, then we take a year off.

We still hand-pick and kill squash beetles. We also  choose varieties like Seminole Pumpkin and a Virginia strain of Waltham Butternut Sqaush that seem less bothered by these pests than other squashes.

During our off year, I arrange to have others grow us squash and cucumbers in exchange for something we are growing. Or I buy from local farmers I trust.

After our yar break, we still have a few squash beetles that have  managed to stick around or found us again. However, their numbers are low and controlling them is easier! This strategy seems to prevent squash borers too.

2. Mexican Bean Beetle

I thought I’d struck gold when I first saw these yellow lady bug looking insects moving in to my garden. Who wouldn’t want thousands of beneficial lady beetles to come eat your aphids and other pests?

Except, these lady beetles were the one kind that is not beneficial to your garden. These were Mexican Bean Beetles. Within days they had consumed by bean leaves and desiccated my vines.

I tried to pick them off.  Since I had planted the three sisters (beans, squash, and corn), I couldn’t find them all and their population exploded (as described for cabbage moths above).

Well, then I noticed that they had left a few plants mostly unscathed. Those were the plants running along my fence, planted on their own, mostly for aesthetic purpose, that I’d been watering regularly because they were closer to my water barrel.

The next year I planted a bunch of beans in a plot by themselves. I neglected them – no watering, no weeding. Those sad little plants still managed to grow and even produce, but they were clearly quite stressed.

When the bean beetles emerged, they went straight for my sad little bean patch. I waited until they had laid their eggs and saw a few larva crawling on the plants. Then I yanked those plants and burned them!

After that I planted my real beans in a different location. I treated my new plants like royalty to ensure good health.  I still had a few bean beetles show up on my well-cared for real beans.  Since I planted those beans on flat trellises rather than as a companion planting, I picked survivors off with ease.

This strategy worked well because bean beetles do most of their laying in June in my area. This still left me plenty of time to plant and grow beans late in the season.

Since I am planting beans later when our temperatures are warmer, I choose varieties that germinate in warmer temperatures and can take the heat. Cowpeas always germinate in high heat, but there are other varieties that work well like scarlet runner beans.

Final Words on Crop Rotation for Pest Control

This might seem like a lot of information to take in.  But I have literally just shared my entire crop rotation plan for controlling pests in my garden.

  1. I use seasonal cabbage rotations to control cabbage moths.
  2. I rotated amaranth out of the vegetable garden permanently.
  3. I take a year off after two years of growing curcurbits.
  4. I grow a trap plant for Mexican Bean beetles and plant my my real bean crop after the mating season for this troublesome pest has passed.

I have a few more pests that visit my garden like Harlequin bugs, aphids, and tomato hornworms. Luckily, their populations are so small, that hand picking is sufficient to keep them in check.

You won’t need to use crop rotation practices for every pest you have, just those that interfere with your production (or that might be dangerous to livestock, like blister beetles). However, there are two other big reasons why good crop rotation is important. And we’ll get to those – pathogen control and nutrition management – in our next two posts.

What kind of insect pests are you dealing with in your garden? Do you use crop rotation to help manage them already? What works? Or has this post sparked some new ideas you might try this year? Please share your challenges, ideas, and successes using the comment area below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

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Explorers Ate It. It Stored For 50 Years. Here’s Their Recipe

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On the list of the many survival foods one stands tall among others. Do you know which I am talking about? Here is a hint. Its not hardtack. While that is an impressive food for its shelf life, that is about it. There are horror stories about the weevils invading the hardtack. This would of …

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To Eat or Not to Eat, that is the Question

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The foraging of it all. Some preppers make the sad mistake of thinking that foraging is only for a time when you are stuck in a bad situation. What if you looked forward to seasonal foraging in the same way you looked at picking seasonal vegetables and fruits from your garden. The truth of the …

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Foraging For CrabApples (Plus How To Use Them!)

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The weapon of neighborhood children, crab apples are one of those things that we all know about. You might even have ugly memories about these things. I am sure you would never have thought to eat them. One of your crazy friends probably took a bite and found they were not as sweet as the …

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Easy Slow Cooker Recipes

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Spring is right around the corner and with it comes lots of work around the house. Getting the garden ready for planting, cleaning up winter debris, planting new flowers, mowing the lawn, and so on. And while you need to do all this, your family still needs food. A slow cooker is an amazing kitchen …

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Pros and Cons to Straw Bale Gardening

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There are many reasons to try straw bale gardening. Chances are you’re reading this now because you either already know why you want to try it, or because you’re wondering if it’s a good solution for your circumstance. Straw Bale Gardening Pros and Cons There are pros and cons to most anything, and certainly, that …

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Its only overkill if you don’t need it

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So after the last large purchase of freeze-drieds, it was time to put the leftovers away. The freeze-drieds (FD) are packaged with an advertised shelf life of a minimum of around 30 years, and the experience of some folks seems to suggest that rating is pretty spot-on.

Thirty years…. I’ll expire before the food does.

But, the food only lasts as long as the container it’s packaged in. Now, I have had some MH sitting on the shelf for almost 20 years and it appears to be just fine. BUT….I have also had some #10 cans from the LDS cannery that eventually started to rust and look like they may be a bit sketchy. (One can had almost turned black with freckling, but when I cut it open everything was flawless inside…but there is no room for ‘probably ok’ when it comes to food storage.) Honestly, I do virtually nothing special to my #10 cans…I stick ’em in a cardboard box that holds six cans, tape it shut, and stick it on a wire shelf in my basement. Here in my part of Montana, the basement stays cool with virtually no humidity…optimal conditions. But, when a can of FD beef or chicken sets you back fifty bucks a can, it’s probably a good idea to maybe add an extra layer of protection. And some folks live in areas where the humidity can get downright troublesome…like, oh, the southeast US for example.

I’ve read a lot of stuff on how to store food long-term. Other than the ubiquitous statement about ‘a cool, dry place’, there are a few other suggestions on how to make sure your canned stuff doesn’t have it’s structural integrity compromised. The most detailed that I’ve read involves removing the labels from each can and ‘painting’ the can with (or dipping it in) melted paraffin. This seems like a pretty solid way to do things except that it also sounds like a tremendous pain in the butt. As I pointed out, there is an alternative. The folks at repackbox.com were kind enough to send me one of their kits that are designed to maximize the lifespan of the #10 can that’s housing the stuff that’s preventing you from having to eat your dog. I am always up for examining new gear..

So, starting at the top:

UPS dropped off a box and I was delighted at how much detail went into things. I mean, the storage boxes are marked with places to write down he contents of the box and then they provide a new black Sharpie for you to do the writing with. And a roll of tape to tape up the boxes. Literally, everything you need to pack your #10 cans for long-term storage is included…except for the shelves. Note to the guys at repackbox.com: find a bulk deal on surplus P38 can openers and include a couple with each overbox.

  • 24 boxes for individual cans
  • 6 overboxes that hold 4 individual boxes
  • 24 polybags
  • 24 dessicant packets
  • 24 zip ties
  • Sharpie
  • Roll of tape

So the idea is that you take your expensive can of yuppie chow, put it in the polybag, add a packet of desicant, ziptie the bag shut, seal it up in the small box, and then load four of them into the overbox. At that point you’re good to go for what will probably be the next hundred years.

Lather, rinse, repeat until all boxes filled. The boxes, by the by, are some heavy duty cardboard. Is it waterproof? Of course not, but thats why the cans are sealed in a polybag. Is this the sort of packaging that you could put together on your own? Maybe. I ship stuff for a living so I know all the sources for this kinds stuff. But…here it is, in one place, ready to go, and just a couple mouse clicks away.

For my current needs, this is overkill. But, overkill isn’t a bad thing. What I mean by overkill is that, for me and my current circumstance, this is more protection than seems necessary (although erring on the side of caution isn’t a vice in the world of preparedness). But…let’s say I was going to store a bunch of this stuff offsite at the Beta Site, or the family hunting cabin, or in the attic at my uncles warehouse, or under the floorboards of a family members kitchen…..well, then there’s really no such thing as overkill. Come the day when you’re fleeing the [zombies/hurricane/troops/tornado/alien overlords] and arrive at your hideout, tip over the fake woodpile, and untarp your cache, it’ll be hard to think “Man, I really didn’t need to pack that stuff as well as I did”.

The biggest issue I would think anyone would have with this sort of lily gilding is the expense. But, four cans of FD meat is $200. And then there’s the whole what-if-my-life-depends-on-it angle. Breaking the cost down, it’s about $2.91 per can to exponentially increase the level of  protection of your food supply.

Honestly, my own policy is probably that the stuff I store in my basement will probably not be packed like this. I mean, its in my basement…I can go downstairs and check on it every week if Im so inclined and stay on top of any issues. BUT…the stuff thats going to be tucked away Elsewhere…where I may not see it for a year (or years) at a time…well, that stuff is going to definitely get packed up like this.

So there you have it. There’s the old saying about how if your pants absolutely Must Not Fall Down that you go with suspenders and a belt…and then you sew your shirt to your waistband. This kit from repackbox.com is definitely the sew-your-shirt-to-your-waistband step of extra certainty. Go check ’em out.

 

Lichens: A Survival Food That’s Probably Growing in Your Backyard

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Lichens are a common wild edible, but if you’re not paying attention you might miss them. They usually grow on trees and rocks and have a distinctive appearance similar to a flat, leafy plant. However, they are a unique form of plant related to the algae family. What makes lichens unique is that most algae […]

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Wilderness Survival: Hunt Like The World’s Greatest Tribes

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Mankind has hunted all through history, killing animals for food. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers, who combined their hunting with gathering edible plants, fruits, nuts and roots. Gradually, over time, these methods were replaced by agriculture, as growing plants and animals for food is much more efficient than harvesting them out of nature.

How to Organize Emergency Food Supply

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Preppers battle lots of things. Possibly the court of public opinion being their greatest enemy. While we have a group of people who are trying to warn the world about the coming disasters, the public laughs it off and carries on in ignorance. Another, less diabolical, prepper enemy is space. In order to be prepared …

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35 Emergency Foods You Should Stockpile

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Anyone who’s ever stockpiled food knows how difficult it can be to get started. There are so many choices! Some people make the mistake of only stockpiling a few staples: rice, beans, flour, sugar, and the like. The problem with that is if the day comes when you have to live off of those foods, …

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How $5 a Week Can Get Your Family 379 Pounds of Food

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If you’re a prepper on a budget, you’ll find this video by The Green Prepper very interesting. In it, he proves that a little money and patience can lead to a huge stockpile of food. You just have to be consistent. He created a document (which you can download here) that has a schedule of […]

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Gluten Free Buckwheat – an Amazing Not-Grain

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Gluten Free Buckwheat – an Amazing Not-Grain Is Buckwheat Gluten Free? YES! Our daughter has severe gluten allergies, so we’re always on the lookout for healthy non-gluten foods. Gluten free buckwheat is one of our favorites, (and all buckwheat is GF)! With the wide ranging epidemic of gluten intolerance, that’s important to know, especially if …

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Early Spring Foraging with Cat the Herbal Prepper!

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Early Spring Foraging with Cat the Herbal Prepper!

Early Spring Foraging
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below!

This episode on Herbal Prepper Live, we’re talking about early spring foraging. It may not feel it outside yet, but spring is just around the corner. Soon, there will be the first green shoots and tender new roots which will be ready for the picking.

Wild Food and Medicine

Listen to this broadcast or download “Early Spring Foraging” in player below!

Continue reading Early Spring Foraging with Cat the Herbal Prepper! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Plant Your Own Medicinal Herb Garden

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The Origin of Pills When did modern medicine replace herbal remedies in mass consciousness? When is it that the majority began seeking wellness from a bottle instead of food an medicinal herb garden or a walk in the woods? Well it turns out that “pills” have been around since ancient Egypt, where herbal concoctions would be …

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Goji Berries in your Garden

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Ahh the powerful goji berry. These little, often dried, morsels are powerful fruits that I thought for a long time could only be grown in exotic places. These little monsters come packed with 18 amino acids and 8 of those are essential to your body, which means your body will not produce them on its …

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Planning Your Raised Bed Vegetable Garden

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There’s nothing like homegrown food! Juicy tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, aromatic herbs and sweet berries are what makes gardening worth every effort. For some of us, bending and digging is harder than when we were younger. If that’s you too, one of the best ways to make gardening easier on the back is planting your herbs …

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How Deep Do You Till Your Vegetable Garden

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Starting a home garden is a sure way to improve your food security without spending too much money. However, you must get it right in order to enjoy good yields. Of the many questions, a new gardener can ask is how deep do you till your vegetable garden? The aim of tilling is to loosen …

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Why Every Family Should Have a Survival Seed Bank

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Now, to a prepper like me this title seems almost silly. The seedbank was one of the first things I purchased on my preparedness journey. It could have been my understanding of history and how starvation can spring upon a society, quickly.  The idea that I needed to have an answer for food outside of …

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Inspection

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Have a few (ahem) leftovers from the Mountain House group buy that are going into the Deep Sleep. I used this opportunity to adjust quantities of ‘broken case’ items. See, the boxes normally hold six #10 cans. If I have only five cans of, say, Diced Beef, that means that six-can box is short by one can…or, in other words, it’s a partial or ‘broken’ case. So, I used this opportunity to round out my broken cases. In the process it also gave me a chance to inspect things. Embarrassingly, according to the dates stamped on the box, the last inspection I made on these things was seven years ago. In reality I should probably inspect these things once every other year or so.

Why? Well, mostly just to check that nothing has started to rust or otherwise be compromised. Last thing I want is to be packing up one day to move to a new location, pick up a cardboard case and have a bunch rusted cans fall out the soggy bottom of the box. No, no, no,no. I did not spend this kinda money to just wind up heaving it in a dumpster someday because I didn’t take the time to do the things necessary to protect my stuff.

What sorta steps? Well, nothing terribly intricate. Everything is in a cardboard box, taped shut, the boxes are stacked at least two feet off the floor on wire shelving, away from electrical and water sources, and (in theory) routinely inspected for damage. If I really wanted to go balls deep on the preservation side of things, the guys at repackbox.com sell a kit for really going full Burt Gummer and protecting your investment. I might have to get that to try out and see how things hold up over time.

By the by, the oldest of the cans I have in storage are pre Y2k (in fact, they were purchased at a post Y2K sale) and the majority are about 14 years old. How have they held up? Pretty well. Labels havent peeled, can integrity appears solid, boxes show no damage….just a little dust on the boxes.

 

How To Make Bread In A Can

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Bread provides nutrients and fills bellies. It’s been an important staple on the table for generations. If you have a few shelf-stable ingredients and a coffee can (or several smaller cans), you have everything you need to prepare bread.

Start a Mushroom Farming Business at Home

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If you like mushrooms and you’re interested in earning money from growing things, you might consider a mushroom farming business. Specialty mushroom growers are sprouting up all over, and can be a great home based business to start as a side hustle. If you’re already a market gardener, growing mushrooms are a great addition to …

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Day in the Life of a Backyard Homesteader

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Of all the articles that you read about homesteading you rarely get a schedule. If you are taking on the life of a homesteader or thinking about changing your lifestyle , you will find tons of information. You can find articles about every piece of the homesteaders life and skills. What I rarely see is …

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How to {Ethically} Forage for Edible Plants

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This article takes a look at foraging from an angle that is never explored. The truth of the matter is, people forage and they do so indiscriminately on location. Its a very interesting thing. For some reason we rarely ever consider if we should be taking. Much more of the question comes to, ‘ what …

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The Reality of Selling Eggs From Your Homestead

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I wouldn’t date guess the next mans motive in owning chickens, I am often unclear on my own motives. One thing is for sure, there are almost always too many eggs. One walk through the  farmers market and you might be doing some quick math in your head about what kind of money you could …

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Where to Buy Heirloom Seeds

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A few years ago I made the decision to stop buying plants from the local hardware store. I knew that the purchasing of these plants was taking away from the self sufficiency of my own garden. I wanted a better option and that option came with heirlooms seeds and sprouting seeds. Now I start my …

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How to Grow Your Own Organic Broccoli Sprouts

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Aside from growing them into larger broccoli plants, why would anyone want to grow broccoli sprouts. Well, sprouts are delicious on their own. The trouble with them is how delicate they are and the fact that they do not lend themselves well to large scale farming.  For many its not even the price that presents …

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How to Make Civil War Cakes

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The Civil War was one of the most brutal points in American history. Till this day it makes me cringe to imagine my countryman at each others throats in such a way. While we learn much about the battles and the generals and the actions of Lincoln. What we rarely consider is the logistics of …

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Natural Chicken First Aid

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Chickens die. Its just part of the deal. They don’t die of old age. When I first started considering raising chickens I asked about what I would do when a chicken stopped laying eggs. The person I was speaking to told me, ” They will never get that old.” Its the truth. Even in the …

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Dilled Carrots Step by Step

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Dilled Carrots Step by Step Preservation is one of those rare things that you have to do but it also can impart huge flavor. If you look at preservation as a task, you will be missing out on the many joys of creating delicious items. The best example of this is the fact that some …

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The Art of Growing Onions

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Onions are a staple food in our kitchen. Depending on what we’ve got cooking, we use between 2-5 pounds of some kind of onion every week. Since we grow most of our food on our homestead, this means we have to grow a lot of onions.

Just about any growing guide will tell you that onions are easy to grow.

And they are. You can start them from seed, plants, bulbs, or even food scraps (as Marjory shows you here).

Read More: “The Simple Trick to Regrow Onions”

Onion plants will survive even if you forget to water them through droughts, leave them in the ground over winter, and stick them in just about any kind of soil. Now, I said “survive” and not “thrive,” so I wouldn’t recommend these strategies if you actually want large yields of onions to eat.

We’ll dig into the details of how to grow onions in a minute. But first, let’s take a look at the varieties of onions.

What Are the Onion Types?

To most people, the word “onion” automatically brings to mind those dried balls of make-you-cry-when-cut goodness you find at the grocery store.

Yep, those are onions.

They are storage-type onions and are the most common variety available to consumers. They also come in two flavors—sweet and cooking. Sweet onions, like those famous Vidalias (which are simply sweet onions specifically grown in the Vidalia region of Georgia), contain a lot more natural sugars and can even taste a bit like dessert if you caramelize them in your cast iron pan with butter and a splash of good balsamic vinegar.

If you cook much, you probably also immediately thought of green onions or scallions. Those grocery store favorites are actually a group of onions called “bunching onions” that are grown specifically for their lack of ability to produce large bulbs.

Beyond those basics, there’s a whole world of often-unexplored onion types available to the home grower.

  • Onions come in a host of shapes, ranging from bulbless to torpedo to round to doughnut shaped.
  • They can range in size from thin slivers of grass to cantaloupe-sized onion bombs.
  • Some can be cured and stored, and others are best eaten fresh from the garden or within two weeks of harvest.
  • There are onions that can be grown as perennials and harvested multiple times per year, like the multiplier onions and Egyptian walking onions.
  • You can also branch out into other members of the Allium family and grow leeks, shallots, common chives, garlic chives, wild onions, and garlic to add bite and health benefits to your savory meals.

If you want to read more about the history of onions and take a closer look at some of the lesser-known varieties, check out this great post.

Read More: “Unusual Onions—The Lowdown on Some Forgotten Members of the ‘Stinky Rose’ Family” 

Onions, and all their family members, are so good for you and make simple meals taste so extraordinary that anyone with a sunny window ought to be growing chives and anyone with a small plot of land ought to be growing onions for bulbs and greens.

And you can start now with just a little bit of know-how.

Growing Onions

Start Onions Early

Here’s the first thing to know about growing onions: They like an early start.

In my area of North Carolina, USDA Plant Hardiness Zone 7a, I’ll be putting mine in the garden by the end of February. And since I start mine from seed at home, I start my seeds in trays under grow lights and then move them to the greenhouse at least 8-10 weeks before transplanting.

Onions will do most of their green leaf growing while the days are short and before temperatures get too warm. Each leaf of top growth will produce one ring of the onion. Larger leaves produce larger bulbs.

I’ve been told that the perfect onion will have 13 lush green strands, but so far I’ve only been able to grow 12-leaf onions in my area.

As the summer solstice approaches, and with it come longer days and warmer temperatures, onions will start to set bulbs.

When they begin putting energy into their bulbs, they won’t grow those greens anymore. That means that if you only have a few spindly leaves in late May, then you probably won’t get very impressive onion bulb yields. However, those underperforming onions do make great “spring” onions, so go ahead and dig them up and chop them into your salad.

Now don’t worry—if you missed your seed-starting window, you can also buy onion plants. Onion plants are usually pencil thick and ready to transplant directly into the ground. They are usually sold in bunches of 50 and cost around $11-$15 a bunch for heirloom varieties from specialty growers. You can also find onion plants at country produce stores for less, but these are almost always hybrid varieties.

Some people also grow onions from dried bulbs called “sets,” too. These usually only cost a few dollars for a bag of 50. You can pick these up at just about any hardware or garden supply store seasonally. You can also often find them loose and sold by the pound at country produce markets.

Varieties are limited on onion sets. Additionally, sets often produce smaller onions than plants of the same variety. If you are trying to maximize bulb size, then choose plants rather than sets.

Sets will usually get you small to medium-sized storage onions, so you may need to grow more sets than plants to get the same yields as plants in pounds.

Choose the Right Day-Length Varieties

Before you buy seeds, sets, or plants, the other thing you really need to know about onions, particularly bulbing onions, is how many hours of daylight they need to set bulbs. Bulbing onions are classified as short-, long-, or intermediateday varieties.

  • Long-day varieties will need 14-16 hours of daylight to set bulbs and only grow well in Northern areas with cooler summers and longer days.
  • Short-day onions will only need 10-12 hours of daylight and tend to be selected to grow better in areas with hotter weather.
  • Intermediate-day onions will need 13-15 hours.

If you live in Florida and plant a long-day variety, at best, you’ll end up with some darn fine scallions from long-day seeds. More likely, though, your long-day onion plants will bolt at the first sign of heat and you’ll be eating flower heads in your salads.

Choose Your Fertility Plan

Onions like to grow in high-quality vegetable garden soil with good drainage and a pH between 6.2-6.8. In good soil, they will grow surprisingly deep and expansive root systems that will help regulate moisture and seek appropriate nutrients.

For softball-sized onions, you’ll need to give them a kick-start by using a fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous than nitrogen and potassium—like a 10-20-10 bag of store-bought fertilizer. When using 10-20-10 fertilizer, it is recommended to make a 4-inch trench between your onion rows and apply fertilizer in the trench. You will also need to fertilize every 2-3 weeks with either 21-0-0 or 15.5-0-0 fertilizer as the tops are growing to ensure bigger bulbs later.

You can apply new fertilizer to your trench. See here for more specific details.

Personally, though, I don’t buy fertilizer. Instead:

  • I prepare my onion beds with about 3 inches of homemade compost gently incorporated into my existing garden soil.
  • When I plant my onions, I sprinkle roughly one teaspoon of worm castings around the plant about 2 inches from the base.
  • I also spread a light coating of wood ash on the soil between my plants (so light you can still see the soil underneath).
  • From that point on, I water my plants every 2-3 days (unless we get sufficient rain) using water from my duck pond or compost tea for continuous fertilization.

If you want more info on homemade fertility, check out these posts on worm castings and compost tea:

Read More: “Leachate, Worm Tea, and Aerobic Compost Tea—A Clarification” 

Read More: “Manure TeaAn Easy Way to Stretch Your Compost”

Read More: “Simple and Effective Worm Composting on Your Homestead” 

How to Plant Onions

Once you’ve decided on your fertility plan, the next step is to plant. Those pencil-thin onion plants should be planted no more than 1 inch deep in the soil. These will start to set roots very quickly. But, keep a close eye on them until they are deeply rooted enough that they stand erect on their own, ensuring that they don’t get knocked over by wind or critters.

Onion sets can be planted a little deeper because they take longer to grow roots and will sometimes swell out of the soil during heavy rains if they haven’t set roots yet. I plant mine about 1.5 inches under soil and then cover the soil with an inch of very loose straw.

Onion Row Spacing

One of the big debates in onion planting is how to space them in beds and rows. Conventional growers tend to space them about 4 inches apart on 1-foot rows. This effectively means you are planting 3 per square foot. It makes weeding with a hoe easy and works well for soil with low organic matter.

Other methods recommend planting bulbing onions on 4- to 6-inch centers, or planting about 4-12 onions every square foot. For scallions, they are planted at a rate of about 16 onions per square foot.

I think the reason for all the confusion on plant spacing is that we are all growing in different conditions and growing different varieties with various expectations for bulb size. What you really need to know is that onions can’t stand competition. That means, depending on the variety you choose, you need enough space that your onions won’t grow into each other. And, you also need to be able to fit your hand in and weed around your onions often. You also don’t want too much space between plants, or weeds will move in and take over.

Personally, for my storage onions, I am looking for bulbs between 3.5 and 4 inches in diameter.

For mass plantings, because I have big, farm-girl hands, I like to plant them on roughly 5-inch centers so I can fit my hands between my nearly full-sized onions without breaking my green tops. I start planting from the center of my 4-foot-wide beds and leave a few extra inches around the edges of the beds empty. That area tends to dry out faster and my onions just don’t grow as well on the outer edges of the bed.

For scallions, I go for about 2-inch centers, and for leeks, garlic, and torpedo onions, I plant on 3-inch centers.

Alliums are also great for interplanting with your other crops as a pest deterrent. Since spring-grown cabbages and onions go in the ground at about the same time in my area, I like to plant onions at the corners of my cabbage plants. This seems to cut down on cabbage moth visits to my Early Jersey Wakefields. Make sure to give the cabbage plenty of room, though, or it will quickly overshadow your onions.

Soil quality matters for spacing, too. The first year I started my garden at our current homestead, I knew I wasn’t offering my onions the most perfect growing environment, so I gave them a little more space than I do now. This made for more weed pressure, so I mulched with straw several times during the growing season to help cut down on weeding.

Maintenance

Once you get your onions in the ground, they will need to be watered and weeded regularly for best results. Onions don’t like to be soaked or flooded.  If you live in a really wet area, you might want to mulch around your onions with an inch of fresh, double-shred hardwood. This also works great if you live in dry areas. Just keep in mind that when you water, you will need to make sure it passes through your mulch layer and soaks several inches into the ground to be beneficial.

In my area, onion tops grow quite fast from about mid-March through mid-May. If you are not seeing a whole lot of top growth during that time, you may need to add more nitrogen either with an infusion of compost tea or by using additional fertilizer. From mid-May and after bulbs start forming, avoid adding nitrogen to your onion beds, as this can cause issues with bulbing.

If your onions have lots of good top growth but don’t seem to be bulbing up well, you can incorporate some bonemeal into the surrounding soil. Follow the application instructions on the bag for best results. However, be careful not to disturb the roots of your onion plants as you apply. If you mulched around your plants, you can just push back the mulch and apply underneath your mulch layer. Then, push the mulch back in place.

Harvesting, Curing, and Storing Onions

Harvesting

Now for the fun part! After all your diligent care, it’s about time to harvest your onions.

When havesting onions for tops, like scallions, those are generally sweetest and most tender when the tops are around 6-8 inches tall. But if you want more meaty tang, you can let them grow a little longer.

If you only plan to use the greens, you can cut the tops and leave the whitish parts and roots in the ground and then let the greens grow back. For torpedo-type onions, as soon as the partial bulb forms, you can harvest as needed for fresh use. Just make sure your torpedoes are all out of the ground before the top growth dies back.

As your storage-type bulbs begin to form, they will draw energy from those green leaves you grew so carefully in early spring. When those tops begin to fold over and yellow, that means the energy has transferred from the tops to the bulbs. As soon as the tops start dying, your onion will also become more susceptible to pests, particularly root eaters in the soil like wireworms. Some people will wait until most of the leaves have yellowed, but I normally harvest when just a few tips are yellow so that I don’t have any pest-related losses.

For best drying results, let the soil dry out for a day or two before harvesting. In good soil, those onion roots get pretty deep. I like to use my hand hoe/rake combo to harvest because the hoe works well to loosen the soil around the onion, and then I use my hands to do the detail work of getting the onion out of the ground. After that, I use the rake side to scrape the soil off the roots. (This is the tool I use. It’s incredible for bed preparation and harvesting.)

Curing Onions

Personally, I only dry my best onions. The rest I cook up within a couple weeks of harvesting. Onions that don’t grow to their full size potential just don’t seem to store as well, even if they don’t have any obvious defects or show signs of insect damage.

The key to curing onions is good airflow and making sure they don’t get wet during the drying period. You can dry them on a tabletop as long as you flip them daily to make sure they dry evenly. Or you can just clip them to a clothesline in any covered area that is not too humid. I installed a clothesline on my porch that I use for drying onions, garlic, and herbs. Not only is it convenient, but it makes for a beautiful, rustic scene and an aromatic spot to seek shade in mid-summer.

Storing Onions

Depending on your conditions, it may take 2-3 weeks to cure onions. When the tops are completely dry, you can cut them down to about 1 inch and trim off the roots. You can also leave your dried tops on and make onion braids for storage. Personally, though, I like to use my collection of old grocery store onion bags to store my homegrown onions. You can then hang those bags on a rope in a basement, food cellar, or whatever other dark, cool, somewhat humid space you use for winter food storage.

Onions seem to know when it is time to grow.  So, I find that around this time of year, my stored onions start sending up more green leaf shoots. This means they won’t store much longer. Luckily, though, this is also the time that my chives start coming up in the garden.  So I use up my stored onions quickly and start harvesting chives, then later I eat my scallions to hold me over until my next round of storing onions are ready.

I hope you all have great success growing onions this year!  If you have any tips and tricks you’ve learned that will help us all grow better, I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

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4 Ways to Hide Your Survival Garden!

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4 Ways to Hide Your Survival Garden!

4 Ways to Hide Your Survival Garden

If you already have your plans for a survival garden in the works, you are definitely heading down the right path. Food prices have skyrocketed and the predictions project the cost of food will continue to rise. When SHTF, many people will be forced to leave their homes when their meager supplies run out. This means they will be scavenging food from houses that are nearby or on their route to wherever they believe is a safe location.

Continue reading 4 Ways to Hide Your Survival Garden! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Building Raised Garden Beds – Simple and Quick Construction

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Building Raised Garden Beds – Simple and Quick Construction If there has been one thing that radically changed my success in gardening it would be raised beds. It would be taking ownership of my soil base each year and having the ability to easily manipulate it.  If you aren’t growing in raised beds the time …

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Homemade Spoon Butter Recipe

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Homemade Spoon Butter Recipe In our throw away society we rarely concern ourselves with the maintenance of tools. Even important tools that cost lots of money are often left to go without maintenance and tossed in the trash when they break. What happens when that saw or that tool is the only one you have …

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Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest

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Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest The move to replace invasive species of plants with natives is a very interesting one. Its an admirable goal that makes a lot of sense. Its beneficial to the environment and the wildlife.  I think we are going to see an incredible uptick in people and businesses pushing for …

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Seven Survival Keys That Every Hunter Should Know

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Seven Survival Keys That Every Hunter Should Know Hunting is exploding. There is no doubt. Some people think its a great thing while others think it will lead to lots of wounded animals. I don’t know the answer but I will tell you that when you take suburbanites and thrust them into the woods there …

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Planting Potatoes … the Easy Way! (VIDEO)

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Here in Central Texas, the rule of thumb for planting potatoes is to get ‘er done around Valentine’s Day. My TGN friends in colder climates tend to wait a little longer—say mid-April or even later—until their soil has warmed up to at least 45°F.

Since I spent this past Monday doing spring garden prep and getting my potatoes in the ground, it seemed like a good time to share this video with you:

In it, Paul Gautschi (of Back to Eden gardening fame) talks about:

  • His easy method for harvesting and planting potatoes in the same day, in the same place;
  • Why cutting potatoes before planting them is a waste of time and potential; and
  • A really cool way to get the biggest and best potato harvest possible.

He also gives his No. 1 reason why you should never buy root veggies from the grocery store.

(And, if you’ve got a little more time, you can watch Paul harvesting his potato crop without any tools in this video from Justin Rhodes’ Great American Farm Tour.)

After you watch, I’d love to know—what’s your favorite way to grow potatoes?

 

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25 Survival Foods That Should NOT Be Stored in the Original Package

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For many people, stocking up on food is a huge part of their family’s preparedness plan–as it should be! While this may seem as simple as buying a little extra food each time you go to the store, it’s actually a bit more complicated. You can’t just stick your food in the pantry and forget […]

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A Deeper Understanding of the Food Supply: Composting

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A Deeper Understanding of the Food Supply: Composting Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust. All things in nature are a cycle, and the food cycle is perhaps the most crucial of all. Understanding how that cycle works in as much depth as possible is crucial to survival, if SHTF. Many already understand the value and …

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Chickens are moved and Kennel chicken run built.

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Mom has been living in her new house this weekend.  We tore down the kennel that Mom uses for her chicken run and move it out to her new home.  We both knew it would bee a tough job and having an weather change with an ICY wind really made the job suck!  One of the kennel walls has a 4 x 8 foot chunk of OSB that made a bitch to move, but that OSB wall cuts the wind blowing into the little chicken door to the chicken house.  It was about 45 minutes prior to sunset when Mom opened the chicken door to the kennel and the birds had a blast scratching around in the protected ” Chicken Run”.

We still need to add a some top fencing to the kennel to keep out predators but we are looking at using green plastic garden/snow type fencing rather than adding chicken wire.  Mom likes to add a tarp to the top of the kennel to protect the birds from the weather and the plastic fencing won’t tear up the tarp like the metal chicken wire.  I’m still working on adding a light weight wood frame to support the kennel “roof” that will angled so snow will slide off rather than way down the fencing on the top of the kennel.

The weather has shifted, so instead of all the cold weather running down the east side of the Rockies and freezing you all back east it is our turn for cold weather with coming down the western slope of the Rockies.  Looks like Mom was right that FEB. and March being our cold months locally.  Heck you folks back east need some warmer weather and I hope flooding won’t be a problem.  I am doing very good on wood as all my pine seems to be burning well after having a couple of months to season naturally.  I prefer burning fruit wood or even Douglas fir rather than pine but after my mad scramble to find wood to burn last fall I have several full wood racks and even better a good plan to get a mix of fast & hot burning wood.  Plus the Dually pickup to get long burning fruit wood from the local Orchards.

I did have a have some bad news on my Dogs.  Diana the Peke passed away in her sleep after a great 15 years of life.  Tucker the peke got into a fight and pop out an eyeball and the eye could not be saved.  So the vet removed the eye and sewed the lid shut.  Tucker is doing darn good around the place thought he looks a bit like Popeye with his sewed lid.  Another $700.00 for Tucker’s surgery killed my newly created “emergency fund”.  Well it was an Emergency, so I guess it all worked out.  Going to take a few months being tight with funds to start building a new Emergency fund and get the new garden beds installed.  At the very worst I’ll have to use last years garden beds, which is not so bad in the grand scheme of things.

 

10 Stockpiling Tricks That Will Make Your Food Last Longer

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10 Stockpiling Tricks That Will Make Your Food Last Longer

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Zachary Hada

You would think that stockpiling food would be easy, right? Just buy a bunch of food, stash it away somewhere where it won’t be eaten, and you’re good, right? Uh, wrong. Building a stockpile and making it last is a lot harder than it looks.

The basic problem is that food, as it grows naturally, isn’t intended to be stored for years. For that matter, food the way it’s package at the grocery store isn’t intended to last for years. The manufacturers of that food assume that you are going to eat their products within a few months — and they pack it accordingly. So, if you want to keep your food around longer than that, you’re going to have to do something with it yourself and not trust their packaging.

The good news is that people have been hoarding food for millennia. Preserved food has been found in the various tombs of the pharaohs, demonstrating that mankind has been preserving and storing food for much longer than we would expect.

Fortunately, you and I don’t need to make our food stockpile last for thousands of years. It behooves us, though, to make sure that we store our food as well as possible, ensuring that we will have something to eat when everything suddenly goes wrong.

Here’s 10 ways to make your food last as long as possible:

1. Rotate Your Stock

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your food stocks last is to borrow a page from the stores you buy your food in. They have a rule called “first in, first out.” This merely means that they sell the oldest first. You should use the oldest first. If you are stockpiling a year’s worth of food and you always use the oldest can, box or bag of a certain item, you’ll never have anything in your stockpile that’s more than a year old.

This is especially useful for things you use all the time, like spaghetti sauce. To ensure that you’re actually using the oldest first, make a habit of marking the month and year of purchase right on the label. That way, you have a quick reference and don’t have to try and remember which style label is older than which.

2. If It’s Wet, Can It

Canning is one of the most effective and long-lasting means of food preservation out there. So make good use of it. The basic rule of thumb is that if a food item is wet, it can be canned. So, start canning meat loaf, extra produce from your garden and the fish from your latest fishing trip. If canned, it can stay usable in your survival stockpile for years. Some canned foods that are over a century old are still edible and nutritious.

3. Salt Does More than Flavor

Salt is nature’s preservative. So is sugar for that matter, although we use salt for preserving more than sugar. Other than fruit, just about anything you are trying to preserve probably needs salt added. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about canning food, dehydrating it, making your own cold cuts or smoking a ham; salt is the key to ensuring that bacteria don’t spoil your food.

4. Overdo it With Oxygen Absorbers

If you’ve heard about packing dry food in aluminized Mylar bags and five-gallon buckets, then you’ve probably heard about oxygen absorbers, too. These are added to prevent food from oxygenating and losing its freshness. But oxygen absorbers also make an inhospitable environment for bacteria and insects, both of which need oxygen. So, when adding oxygen absorbers to dry foods that you’re packaging for your stockpile, go for a bit of overkill. Don’t just use the minimum recommended; step it up a bit and ensure that the oxygen has really been absorbed.

More than anything, this is about ensuring that insect eggs can’t hatch, creating a population of insects inside your preserved food. Any insects which did manage to hatch from their eggs won’t be able to survive without oxygen.

5. Don’t Forget the Silica Gel

Few people mention it, but adding a packet of silica gel to dry foods when packaging them for long-term storage can help ensure that they stay fresh. These foods turn stale when they absorb moisture. While you probably already try to make sure that there is no moisture in the container, when packaging those foods, things can happen. The addition of a silica gel package can ensure that any moisture which does get into the package is absorbed by something other than the food.

6. Keep Track of it All

Make sure that you develop and keep a good spreadsheet of everything you’ve got in your stockpile. This should mention package size, quantity and the location or locations you have it stored. Always be sure to update your list. Don’t just have that spreadsheet on your computer, either. Print a hard copy and keep it in a notebook.

7. If You Use it, Replace it

This is one I have to keep after my wife about. It’s easy to just dig into your stockpile if you need something and pick an item without realizing it’s the last one. Make a note so that the next time you’re shopping, you can pick up a replacement and put it in your stockpile.

8. Keep it Cool

Heat will cause many foods to alter while stored. It speeds up chemical reactions and in extreme cases can slow-cook the food. Always try to keep your food stored in cool, dry places rather than in hot ones. The attic really isn’t a good place for food storage for this reason. You’re better off hiding it under the bed or putting it in the basement.

9. The Tougher the Better

When it comes to packaging, the tougher the better. Never settle for “just good enough.” Go for something that’s overkill. I can show you five-gallon bucket lids which have been gnawed through by rodents. Bacteria and insects aren’t the only things that want to eat your food stockpile; there are plenty of mice and rats in the world that would love to have a picnic at your expense, too.

10. Spread it Out

Whatever you do, don’t store all your food stockpile in one place, or even all of one type of item in one place. Let’s say that your basement is your main food storage area. That’s probably pretty good. But if your basement floods, you aren’t going to have access to that food. So, make sure that some of it is stored under the bed or in the upstairs hall closest.

For that matter, you should have one or two food caches off-site, as well. You never know what could happen. The people of Southeast Houston probably weren’t expecting to have to abandon their homes before Hurricane Harvey came along.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food!

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Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food!

Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food for Yourself in a Survival Scenario!

There are a lot of fallacies when it comes to prepping for the next big natural disaster or other SHTF scenario. It’s great that you have managed to stockpile a large amount of food in the shelter in your home and you have greatly honed your hunting skills over the years too. Here is one thing that many preppers fail to consider and that is the fact you may be forced away from your home to survive.

Continue reading Better Ways than Hunting to Provide Food! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Angling, a Lost Art for Survival and the Soul

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Angling, a Lost Art for Survival and the Soul When the world is coming apart and you feel like you are going to be crushed by the pressure there is but one thing to do, go fishing. Well, you could argue that its time to start prepping as well. Truly, fishing is something that will …

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A Disaster is Coming! A 20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster!

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A Disaster is Coming! A 20-Point Checklist to Get You Prepared for the Next Disaster! Its great content like this that makes you a better prepper. There is really no point in doing anything if you cant measure your progress. Unless it is completely and totally for leisure you need to measure it. Well, let …

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Homemade Energy Drink

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Homemade Energy Drink We know more about the importance of what we put into our body and how it affects us better than ever. This is something that is going to change lifestyles for the better. We know that good nutrition goes a long way. We also know that stuff has to get done. Sometimes …

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Rotate and replace – learn it, love it, live it

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As I’ve posted before, about a zillion years ago there was a sale on oatmeal at the local Albertson’s. I went long on it and wound up with a five-gallon Gamma-sealed bucket full of vacuum-sealed packets of instant oatmeal. And there they sat. Quietly waiting. Until one day about ten years later when I decided to pull ’em out and get ’em into the rotation.

Well, that means that what came out of long-term storage must be replaced, no? As I was flipping through Costco’s little sales flyer I see that they have 52-packs of oatmeal on sale for $5.99. That comes out to about twelve cents per package of oatmeal. Being the curious sort, I checked the scale and the packages do weight the same. However, and this surprised me, the apple flavor oatmeal packages contain almost 25% less product than the brown sugar or cinnamon flavor packets. Interesting.

But the point is that in the course of around 12 years, the sale price of the oatmeal products has remained virtually unchanged. Which I found rather interesting. It also nice to see that my food storage program has been going on long enough that even somewhat-long-term stuff hasstarted getting rotated and replaced on a regular basis. Go me!

Anyway, these things will get packed a dozen to a bag and sealed up for the Deep Sleep. Oatmeal isnt anyone’s favorite food, but it is very difficult to argue against it’s convenience. Some boiling water, freeze dried fruit to mix in, and you’ve pretty much got a decent breakfast. In the Venezuela-of-the-future you could have oatmeal, fruit, eggs, bacon, and orange drink all out of a can you put away twenty years ago. Kinda comforting, that. Speaking of Venezuela…this was too good to not share:

How to Store Backup Water in Your Garage in 55 Gallon Barrels

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When I first started prepping, I knew I needed to store plenty of water, but I didn’t realize how much. Every time I went shopping, I would pick up a case of 32 half-liter water bottles. I did this for a couple months, at which point I was satisfied that I had more than enough […]

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