73+ Heirloom Apples You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

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Kevin and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

When it comes to apples, most of us think of Granny Smith, Gala, or Red Delicious. What if I told you that there are dozens of apples that time has forgotten? Apples that we cultivated in the 1800’s and 1900’s that for some reason or another, disappeared from our diets?I wanted to figure out the history […]

The post 73+ Heirloom Apples You’ve Probably Never Heard Of is by
Kevin and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

100+ Projects to Make with Food Scraps

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100+ DIY Food Scrap Projects. It's like getting free cleaning, bath, and gift items! | PreparednessMama

An Old-Fashioned “waste not, want not” recipe and resource book by JES at Strangers & Pilgrims on Earth I have admired Jes and her wonderful herb posts for a while now. She really has her herbal pantry put together nicely and I strive to be as organized as she is. Recently I found that she […]

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‘When Should I Pick It?’ — Harvesting Essentials For 12 Popular Vegetables

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‘When Should I Pick It?’ -- Harvesting Essentials For 12 Popular Vegetables

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Every novice gardener has done it — picked too early or waited too long to harvest their vegetables. Even experienced gardeners have been known to let excitement get the better of them when they see that first tomato turning red on the vine.

Since late summer and early fall is prime harvesting time, it is a good idea to go over some harvesting basics and give a few guidelines for the best time to harvest certain vegetables:

1. Tomatoes

Yes, it is tempting to pick these as soon as you see that they are red, but for the best quality and flavor, try leaving them on the plant for 5-8 days after they have gained full color. Then, at the end of the season, you’ll want to pick all the fruit before the first frost, regardless of ripeness. You can enjoy the classic “fried green tomatoes” or let them ripen indoors.

2. Zucchini

Zucchini will get huge if you let it – but don’t let it. These are best to pick when they are smaller and more tender. The ideal size is around 1 ½ inches in diameter and between 4-8 inches long.

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If you’re hoping for a few larger zucchinis at the end of the season, don’t worry – there always seems to be a few hiding that you don’t find until they have become rather robust.

3. Lettuce

Young leaf lettuce can be harvested pretty much as soon as it has reached the size you’d like to have it. If you are waiting for more mature and larger leaves, then harvest when they are between 4-6 inches long. For head lettuce, pick when the heads become somewhat firm but before they have formed seed stalks.

4. Carrots

Carrots can be a little tricky for some gardeners, since you cannot see what is happening with them under the soil. Examine the tops and harvest when the diameter is between ¼ to 1 inch. In order to get the best and sweetest flavor, try waiting until there has been a light frost. Be careful as you harvest, because bruising on this root vegetable can cause it to develop soft rot when it is in storage.

5. Beets

The tops of beetroots will begin to emerge as they become ready for harvest. Pick when they are between 1 ¼ to 2 inches in diameter.

6. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts should be harvested when the small heads reach between 1 – 1 ½ inches in diameter. They are easily picked by holding and twisting. In order to speed up the maturation of this vegetable, remove the lower leaves along the stem.

7. Broccoli

‘When Should I Pick It?’ -- Harvesting Essentials For 12 Popular Vegetables

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For broccoli, you want to time it so that you harvest it when it has a nice big flower head but before any of the flowers have started to open. Cut the plant approximately seven inches below the head. Once the main head has been harvested, side heads will develop.

8. Cauliflower

When the curds have reached 2-3 inches in diameter, cover them by loosely tying the head into surrounding leaves. Cauliflower heads should be picked when they have reached full size but are still smooth and white.

9. Peppers

Peppers can be harvested green or ripe, depending on the flavor that you want. If harvesting green, wait until the fruits are full sized and are firm to the touch.

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For ripe (red, yellow, orange or purple) peppers, simply wait until they have reached their full color (generally about 2-3 weeks after reaching full size).

10. Sweet corn

You know that summer is in its apex when sweet corn starts to appear in farmers’ markets and at summer barbeque parties. If you are growing corn yourself, the time to pick it is when the silks have turned brown and dry and the kernels are completely filled. You can determine this by pressing on the husk with your thumbnail.

11. Watermelon

Watermelons should be harvested when they have reached full size – but given the variety of sizes that these tasty summer fruits can come in, how do you know it’s time? Gently turn the fruit and examine the spot where it contacts the ground. If this spot is a cream or yellow color, it means that your watermelon is ready to be harvested.

12. Winter squash

Unlike the summer varieties of squash such as zucchini, the rind of a winter squash should be firm and not easily penetrated by your fingernail. The point where the squash makes contact with the ground should be cream to orange colored depending on the variety that you are growing. If you are picking squash to be put in storage, leave about 2-3 inches of the vine at the top – this will help prevent rot.  While these garden vegetables are hardy and can withstand a light frost, they should be picked before there is a heavy one.

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

Every Year, Gardeners Make This Stupid Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

6 Life-Saving Uses For An Ordinary Glass Bottle (Don’t Miss The Video For No. 3!)

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6 Life-Saving Uses For An Ordinary Glass Bottle (Don’t Miss The Video For No. 3!)

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It can be frustrating to see litter and trash lying on streets and in fields, but for the savvy survivalist, some trash can turn into life-saving tools.

One such item that is commonly thrown away but can be re-purposed into a variety of different survival uses is the glass bottle.

Here are seven survival uses for an ordinary glass bottle:

1. Make a glass blade.

A glass bottle can be easily re-purposed as a tool or weapon, and specifically as a glass blade. We’re talking about everything from knives to arrowheads to spear points to practically any kind of razor-sharp instrument that you can think of. Just be careful not to cut yourself when breaking the bottle into the shape you need.

2. Boiling water.

In any kind of survival situation, you will always have to boil or purify water before you drink it. Drinking water that has been contaminated in any way whatsoever can sometimes be more dangerous than not drinking any water at all.

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Simply fill the bottle up from the nearest river or lake that you find, and then suspend it over a fire with some sort of cord. The water will begin to boil in just a matter of minutes, and any harmful bacteria or pathogens inside of it will be eliminated.

3. Starting a fire.

On a day where you have plenty of sun, fill up your glass bottle with clear water. Then, position that bottle in between the sun and whatever you’re using as tinder; charred cloth works best for this method. The sun will shine through the bottle and onto the tinder. Hold the bottle steady and roughly an inch or two above the tinder. (It requires patience.) Once the smoke starts to appear, gently blow on it to create an ember that can then catch flame.

Story continues below video:

 

4. Transporting water.

Make sure that you have a cork or some sort of cloth to wrap around the top as a lid. If you’re electing to stockpile your water, then do so in a cool and dry location; storing water under the sun or in a hot room greatly increases the likelihood of harmful bacteria or pathogens developing in it.

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5. As a container.

You don’t just have to use your glass bottles to store water. You can also use them to keep water out. Store anything in your glass bottles that you need to keep dry, such as sugar, salt, cloth and medications.

6. As a portable torch.

Beyond using your glass bottle to get a fire going, you can also use it to maintain a fire, as well, specifically in the form of a torch. Clean up your water bottle from the inside-out, and make sure that you have a wick and some torch fluid on standby. Fill the bottom part of the bottle with water underneath the wick, and then the rest of the bottle with the torch fluid.

Pour a little bit of the fluid over the wick and then place it into the bottle. Light the wick and you have a torch.

What survival uses would you add? Share your tips in the section below:  

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

How to Make Infused Vinegar

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nfused vinegar for cooking, cleaning & remedies. 24+ recipes included | PreparednessMama

Plus over 20 ways to use it in food, cleaning, and herbal remedies Making infused vinegar is one of the first herbal preparations I learned. This simple technique can be used on any herb, fruit, or vegetable that suits your creative experiments. Once you know how easy it is to make you’ll never purchase expensive flavored […]

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New Report Reveals The 12 Fruits & Vegetables You Should NEVER Buy Because Of Pesticides — And There Are Some Surprises

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New Report Reveals The 12 Fruits & Vegetables You Should NEVER Buy Because Of Pesticides -- And There Are Some Surprises

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Nearly three out of four of the fruits and vegetables sold at America’s supermarkets contain pesticide residues, according to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data cited in a new Environmental Working Group report that also listed the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

All total, the USDA data detected 146 different pesticides on produce sold in the United States.

Disturbingly, some of the healthiest foods, including leafy greens like kale, and strawberries, contained the highest levels of pesticides, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered in its Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Highlights from the guide include:

  • Pesticide was detected on 98 percent of the strawberries, peaches, nectarines and peaches tested.
  • Samples taken from a sweet bell pepper and a grape contained 15 different pesticides.
  • A strawberry sample contained 17 different pesticides.

Perhaps most frightening of all was the list of foods mothers throughout America put in their children’s lunchboxes because they think they are healthy.

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Here is the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most contaminated produce:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Hot peppers and greens such as kale and collard greens, almost made the top 12.

To give moms peace of mind, the EWG also published a Clean 15 list of the most pesticide-free produce:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweat peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

It looks as if the only way to keep your food pesticide-free is to grow a garden.

What are your thoughts on these lists? What produce do you purchase and also avoid at the store? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Growing Fruits All Year Long!

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Growing Fruits All Year Long There is no denying when it comes to the fact that fruits are good for our body. Some fruits have their health benefit “specialties” but regularly including them in one’s diet will ensure an all around health boost. But, even better than just consuming fruits would be growing them in … Continue reading Growing Fruits All Year Long!

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Grow These 12 Fruits for a Year Round Supply

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Growing fruit at home is easier than you think. Use this handy infographic to get started with the 12 most popular fruits for the home gardener | PreparednessMama

Growing fruit at home is not as tricky as you might think. We all know that fruits have a lot of health benefits, but growing them at home provides many advantages. Not only you are assured of a constant supply of fresh fruits, but tending to them right in your own backyard also adds physical […]

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How To Find Fresh Vegetables During Winter (When You Have None At Home)

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How To Find Fresh Vegetables During Winter (When You Have None At Home)

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By late fall and early winter it is common for backyard gardeners to see a steadily diminishing harvest. This will mean that unless you “put up” enough vegetables or grow a winter crop, you will have to search somewhere else.

Where are you going to find your favorite healthy fruits and veggies? Let’s take a look at some of your options:

Supermarket

Grocery stores always have a variety of vegetables, but when you are looking to purchase organic vegetables, you can notice quite the jump in price. Words of advice would be to buy what is in season. Usually, in-season foods are reasonably priced. Many vegetables, as well as fruit, peak in the fall and winter. If you avoid foods that are not in season, you avoid imported foods which are probably sprayed with unwanted pesticides (usually sprayed when entering the country).

Winter Farmer’s Markets

There are farmer’s markets year-round, and though you may not fancy heading out to a market in the snow, they are a great place to find fresh vegetables. You may have to look for them but they are available. They will have organic and in-season produce, as well as festive foods. Not only are they good for food shopping, but you will often find a variety of jams, honeys, wreaths and seasonal items. It is a great time to do festive shopping, especially for the food lover!

Community Support Agriculture

Community Support Agriculture, or CSA, can be compared to buying food from a local farm. You pay a fee, and then receive your part of the produce when it is ready. The benefits of CSA are limitless, but one major one benefit is that you are guaranteed to get local and organic produce. You may even get some new types of vegetables or food to try.

Grow Your Own

Of course, the easiest place of all to find winter vegetables is in your very own garden. It doesn’t have to be your backyard; there are container gardens, cold frames, greenhouses and many other winter garden ideas.

Get The Best Deals On Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds Right Here!

You can make your own winter garden if you don’t want to give up on the growing season just yet. There is a pretty impressive list of vegetables that can grow – or at least be harvested — during the winter with the right care. They are all vitamin-rich and full of anti-oxidants.

Tips for Choosing Vegetables at the Grocery Store

If you have to buy vegetables from the supermarket or grocery store, here are some pointers to get the best produce possible.

Always get the freshest vegetables, no matter where they are from.

How To Find Fresh Vegetables During Winter (When You Have None At Home)When choosing onions, get the ones that are heavy compared to their size. Make sure there are no spots or moisture. If the onions are sprouting or a bit soft, avoid them. Onions should not smell on the shelf.

You can buy beets with the tops still on. They should be round and firm, with a bright, deep color. If there are tops on the bunch, check the condition of the leaves. Question the freshness if the leaves are wilted or rotting. You can cook the leaves just like spinach leaves.

Squash should be well-developed, with a tough rind. They should be heavy for the size of the squash. There should be no punctures, cuts, soft spots or any mold.

You want to pick firm, smoothly rounded carrots with no cracks. Their color should be bright orange. It is recommended to purchase carrots with the tops still on, as carrots lose moisture through the leaves. You can add the carrot tops to salads.

Sweet potatoes should be a light color all over, smooth and bright. Avoid any with holes, marks and cuts as these will allow the vegetable to rot quickly.

Picking a radicchio starts at the base. The base should be firm and while, with no blemishes on the leaves and any holes or brown marks.

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With citrus fruits, smell is everything. They should be fresh and fragrant, firm and heavy with no blemishes.

When looking for fresh kale, look for rich, green leaves that are firm with no brown markings. The stem should not be dry and cracked. Avoid purchasing pre-packaged kale.

Brussels sprouts have a bright green color, with the outer layer of leaves being tight together. Sprouts should be firm, with no blemishes.

Large, heavy pomegranates usually have the juiciest seeds. There should be no blemishes, and the fruit should have a leathery appearance. The fruit also should be a deep red, not pale or light colored. Pick a round one, as the flat ones are more than likely dried out.

When the need arises to purchase vegetables from the grocery store, don’t worry, you will soon be able to begin planting again. In the meantime, remember to pick the freshest vegetables possible.

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

Every Year Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Plants

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The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Food

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As you explore different ways of creating and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle, you may want to experiment with the art of natural dyeing. Native peoples for millennia have used plants to create colorful dyes for decorating their clothing, their homes and even their bodies.

The great news is that you can find what you need for dyes right in your own backyard. You can use roots, nuts, berries and flowers to create a wide variety of colors and color combinations for dyeing your clothing items. As you get the hang of the dyeing process, you will enjoy experimenting with many different shades.

For best results, blossoms should be in full bloom. Berries should be ripe, and nuts should be mature. In order not to threaten the health of a plant, do not gather or harvest more than two-thirds of a stand of a plant.

Here are some common plants and the colors they produce:

  • Blackberries, iris root, walnut hulls – purple, dark purple, gray.
  • The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Food

    Elderberries. Image source: Pixabay.com

    Raspberries, cherries, strawberries, beetroot, plum skin, red and pink roses — red/pink.

  • Pomegranates, beets, bamboo, reddish hibiscus, bloodroot – red/brown.
  • Red sumac berries, basil leaves, day lilies, pokeweed berries, huckleberries — red-purple.
  • Blueberries, red cabbage, purple grapes, elderberries, red mulberries – blue.
  • Onion skin – yellow/brown.
  • Turmeric — yellow/orange.
  • Carrots, gold lichen – orange.
  • Bay leaves, sunflower petals, marigolds, St John’s Wort, paprika, turmeric, dandelion flowers, celery leaves, Queen Anne’s lace roots, lilac twigs, barberry roots, mahonia roots, yellow dock roots – yellow.
  • Dandelion roots, oak bark, walnut hulls, tea, coffee, acorns, coffee, tea – brown.
  • Spinach, artichokes, Savoy cabbage, peppermint leaves, sorrel roots, snapdragons, grass, plantain, lilacs, nettles, peach leaves – green.

After you have gathered your plant material, it is time to consider your fabric. As you might expect, natural fabrics, such as cotton, silk, linen and wool, will absorb the natural dyes with the best results.

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You may dye synthetic fabrics with plants, but the colors will be less vibrant.

It is a good idea to use a scrap of fabric to test the color and to gauge the color saturation before you begin the dyeing process.

Your next step is to prepare the fabric for dyeing by soaking it in a color fixative. This step helps the fabric absorb the color more readily.

For berries, you will use salt as the fixative, and for other plants, you will use vinegar. Dissolve a half cup of salt in eight cups of cold water, or combine one part white vinegar with four parts cold water.

Next, place your damp fabric in the correct fixative solution for about an hour. Rinse with cool water and then wring out extra water.

The Simple Way To Dye Fabric Naturally With Food

Image source: Pixabay.com.

Now you are ready to make your dye solution. Chop your desired plant material into small pieces and place them in a large non-reactive pot (glass or stainless steel work well). Cover with twice as much water as plant material. Bring solution to a boil, and then let it simmer for about an hour.

Next, strain out the plant material and add your fabric to the solution. Depending on the plant you are using, you could get the desired shade in as little as 15 minutes. The longer the fabric stays in the dye, the deeper the color. For a very strong shade, you can allow your fabric to soak in the dye overnight.

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Rinse the fabric well until the water runs clear. Then hang it up to dry. Continue to wash dyed items separately from other items in your laundry, as the color many run until all excess dye is removed.

How does the dyeing process work?

Fruit and vegetables contain colorful chemicals called polyphenols. These polyphenols are the reason your clothing, tablecloth or carpet gets stained when you spill certain food or drink. They attach to fabric and dye it.

Salt and vinegar help the polyphenols stay attached to the fabric. Without them, the dye would fade each time you wash the fabric.

The best part about using natural dyes is the satisfying aspect of it. As you experiment with different colors and color combinations, you will marvel at the beauty of natural fabric enhanced with natural dyes.

Here’s a final tip: Make sure you dye only what you want to dye. Cover your counter top and the clothes you are wearing while you work. And wear rubber gloves to keep the dye from staining your hands.

Do you use natural dyes? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

How to Freeze Fruit for Smoothies Using Dehydrator Sheets

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How to freeze fruit for smoothies using dehydrator sheets | PreparednessMama

Food Storage Quick Tip #11 : Non-stick dehydrator sheets work in the freezer too. Every weekday morning I make a smoothies for breakfast. My husband drinks his as he travels to work and I drink mine as I plan my day. That means that we go through quite a bit of frozen fruit and it […]

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How to Grow Tomatoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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