Awesome Information Resources (Your Answers to the Question of the Month!)

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We’re guessing that, like us, you’re constantly striving to improve your garden and your gardening methods … to make your composting processes a little bit more efficient … to strengthen the microbial activity in your soil a little bit more … to improve your favorite vegetable variety through seed saving and experimentation … and the list goes on!

And while you can achieve those goals by yourself, no one would argue that getting a little help from others makes the process a whole lot smoother, faster, and more fun!

So where do our Community members turn when they’re looking for advice and information on gardening, homesteading, and home medicine (besides The Grow Network, of course!)?

We asked them recently and compiled the following list of recommended resources. (Many thanks to Fibrefarmer, Marcia, Mary Kathryn, Permies949, Scott Sexton, tracyWandling, and all the other TGN Community members who contributed their ideas!)

Wildcrafting, Foraging, and Plant Identification

  • Eat the Weeds (blog and educational resources about foraging and edible wild plants)
  • Plants for a Future (database containing the edible, medicinal, and other uses of more than 7,000 plants)

Gardening, Farming, and Permaculture

  • Acres USA (Marjory says, “Mostly geared towards small farmers, the in-depth articles on a particular crop are great.”)
  • Your local Extension office (Merin says, “The climate and wildlife here (SW Colorado) are so different from those where I used to live (SE Texas) that it has been really helpful to be able to speak to our Extension agent and fellow Master Gardeners in this area to learn how to tackle some of the differences. A lot of them are also a wealth of information on organic and permaculture practices that work in this area….”)
  • MIgardener.com (gardening products and information)
  • North Texas Vegetable Gardeners Facebook group (“I love this group because it’s focused on gardening in my region,” says TGN’s social media manager Ruth Reyes-Loiacan. “It’s nice to have a large community of local people doing the same thing. Currently, the group has 29,000 members!”)
  • Permies (Of this forum for permaculturists and homesteaders, tracyWandling says, “It has a category for just about everything, and a wide variety of contributors of all levels who share their experiences and expertise with readers. It’s a great place to ask questions and interact with others who are doing the same things you are and are always willing to lend a helping hand. Great site.”)
  • PermaEthos (educational and community-building site)
  • Permaculture Apprentice (permaculture-related resources)
  • Permaculture Design Magazinere (contains articles on eco-regeneration, broadscale farming systems, agroforestry, home garden design, and community action)
  • Permaculture Magazine (magazine for permaculture enthusiasts covers all aspects of life)
  • Praxxus55712 YouTube channel (Marcia says she also recommends the YouTube channel WisconsinGarden.)
  • Self-Reliant School (information on growing, cooking, and preserving food)
  • Stacey Murphy/BK Farmyards (offers educational training about backyard farming and real food)
  • Tenth Acre Farm: Permaculture for the Suburbs (information on micro-farming)

Homesteading and Sustainability

  • BackYard Chickens (Merin adds that, with nearly 100,000 members—many of whom are both knowledgeable and willing to share information—the related Backyard Chickens Facebook group is also a great resource for backyard chicken keepers.)
  • Food in Jars Community Facebook group (Wendy Meredith says it offers “great ideas and new recipes on how to can much of what I produce.”)
  • MelissaKNorris.com (information on raising, preserving, and preparing food; home of the Pioneering Today podcast)
  • Mother Earth News Magazine (articles on homesteading and organic gardening, with a focus on self-sufficiency and sustainability)
  • The Prairie Homestead (blog offering homesteading advice)
  • Starry Hilder’s Off-Grid Homestead (blog about off-grid homesteading)
  • The Survival Podcast (online talk show about modern survivalism, sustainability, and alternative energy)

Health and Herbalism

Finally, regardless of the category, remember that your local library likely offers myriad excellent, free resources. “My library is a tremendous source of inspiration,” says TGN Community member Fibrefarmer. “They have the best books for the best price (free), but I have to give them back after a few weeks :(.  But still, it saves money, and they let me borrow the books as many times as I need. If they don’t have the book, they can order a copy or borrow it from another library via interlibrary loan.”

What about you? Is your favorite resource on this list? If not, let us know about it by leaving us a note in the comments!

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The post Awesome Information Resources (Your Answers to the Question of the Month!) appeared first on The Grow Network.

Who will join your group?

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Who will join your group?
Host: David Jones “Prepping Up with the Jones “Audio player provided!

Dave answers questions from last week’s show on how to conduct a Prepper exercise. He reviews what “crawl, walk, run” means when exercising alone or in a group. Then Dave talks about a very important question that every Prepper needs to ask and that is how to pick people to join your group.

Continue reading Who will join your group? at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

Prepper Leadership!

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Prepper Leadership!
David Jones “Prepping Up with the Jones“ Audio below!

This week Dave tackles a tough question that many Preppers have thought about. Only a few have done anything to ensure success with Prepper Leadership. If you are the leader of your group either by design or by simple happen stance you will want to know things you should do to make sure you have success.

Listen or download “Prepper Leadership” in player below!

Continue reading Prepper Leadership! at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Small Group Tactical Movement

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Small Group Tactical Movement
David Jones “Prepping Up with the Jones “Audio player provided!

You really need to tune in on this show because Dave changes things up a little and talks about something every Prepper needs to think about, small group tactical movement. The very tough but real possibility is that at some point after the world turns into a Mad Max type of situation you will need to move from one point to another.

Continue reading Small Group Tactical Movement at Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

ABC’s of the Survival Group!

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ABC’s of the Survival Group! DJ Cooper “Surviving Dystopia” The second part in a series of shows highlighting the survival group.  With this we include many different kinds of groups.  Last week we talked about the need for a group, the kinds of groups and whether or not to build or join one.  Moving forward … Continue reading ABC’s of the Survival Group!

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Calling for Backup: How to Stack the Deck in Your Favor When a Disaster Strikes

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disaster survivalFor many of us, it’s hard to ask for help. We pride ourselves in our preparedness for emergencies; in many cases we are the go-to people in our social circle for what to do in case of…fill in the blank. Or at least we know who to ask or where to look up the answer. But as strong as we are, there are many things in nature and in our industrialized world that are much stronger. In some cases, we need to call for help…for backup.

It’s OK to need some backup!

Remember that every day, police and fire departments send their people out to dangerous situations. In most cases, one unit (police car, fire truck, ambulance) can handle the situation by themselves with little problem. If you think you have a hard time asking for help, just imagine the egos needed by cops who respond to an armed robbery, or firefighters entering a burning building. In those lines of work, you only ask for help if you really need it: ask for it too often or unnecessarily, and you get a bad reputation.

But when they do really need it, calling for backup allows that first responding unit to stay at the scene and finish the job…with a little help (sometimes with a lot of help). In some cases, that first unit can anticipate trouble before it actually happens and ask for backup as a precaution. For instance, a cop might pull over the car of a known felon, on parole for assaulting a police officer. Common sense would be to call for backup, knowing this person is a high-risk contact.

In a different case, back in the day when I was a street cop I was driving through town on a two-lane road when an old El Camino heading toward me in the other direction suddenly lost its load of furniture into the road right as I passed them. I turned on my red and blue lights and did a U-turn, pulling in behind them where they had already pulled over on the shoulder. I called in the license plate and location to my dispatcher and got out of my car to talk to the occupants, a couple in their 30’s. Having moved many times in my life, I wasn’t in an enforcement frame of mind; I just wanted to make sure they could safely load their cargo back in the car. Our conversation was friendly and light.

Just about the time that I looked in the car and saw the screwdriver sticking out of the steering column, my dispatcher notified me that it was a stolen vehicle and sent another unit toward my location for backup. With a smile on my face, I quickly handcuffed the male and sat him on the curb about the time that the backup car arrived. In this case, a seemingly innocent contact unexpectedly became potentially dangerous, justifying the backup.

Not Just for Cops and Firefighters

Now that you understand what I mean by “backup,” let’s apply the concept to surviving disasters. Most preparedness advice treats each family as an individual unit, but the truth is that most of us have a network of neighbors, friends, and relatives that could potentially help us in various ways in a disaster. And each of us can make a real difference providing backup to our social circle when they are jeopardy.

RELATED ARTICLE: “Where Do You Start When Everything Has Been Lost?

In general, there are two categories of disasters:

  • No-notice disasters like earthquakes and train derailments
  • Prior-notice disasters such as floods, hurricanes, and wildfires

There are some calamities like floods that can fit in both categories (i.e. flash floods vs. slow-rise floods), but those tend to be location-specific. You generally have one or the other in a particular place.

Prior-notice Disasters

Let’s talk about prior-notice incidents first, because planning a backup strategy for them will yield an easy approach to no-notice backup. We want our backup to be able to provide help when we need:

  • Sandbagging to keep water out from a flood
  • Flammable items removed from around the house as a fire approaches
  • Hurricane shutters put up
  • Babysitting, so parents can do important tasks
  • Supplies or messages delivered when phone service is out
  • Water removed from a flooded basement

No-notice Disasters

The preparation that you put in place for prior-notice emergencies will really pay off for no-notice incidents. No-notice events will often cause communications difficulty when they suddenly occur, because the natural reaction of most people is to immediately call their kids or other loved ones. Cellular networks quickly become overloaded with voice traffic, but they can often still accommodate text messages. With a critical contacts list, your group should be able to gain awareness of everyone’s circumstances, and learn who needs help.


Before a disaster strikes, put a critical contacts list together.
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The Critical Contacts List

This contact list is simply a list of who you might want to call on to help in an emergency, but it’s not enough to just put these names and phone numbers on paper. It’s very important to have a conversation with each individual. Once you have a fairly solid list of people you think would be willing to help in a disaster, host a dinner party or potluck (at least with those within a reasonable distance) where you can not only continue the conversation with individuals, but foster connections among the group.

As a personal example, I had no idea that my second cousin was a fairly serious ham radio enthusiast. I found out by chance at a family get-together. Talk about a valuable skill set in a disaster! This would be a great resource to foster communications within the family during an emergency and to keep tabs on info from other hams. The point is that you won’t know if you never ask.

The Agenda, and the List

Before the main course is served at your dinner party, make sure you give each of your guests an agenda of what you hope to accomplish, and a list of contact info for all of your guests. It may seem over the top, but it will focus the group and show them what you want to do. Keep it short and to the point. You can joke with the group that you’re holding dinner hostage until the task is complete. The most important thing is to state your interest in helping organize your neighbors, family and friends to be able to help each other in emergencies.

The contact list is a critical part of your effort; even if an attendee doesn’t enthusiastically buy in to your suggestions, chances are they will hang on to the contact list. If you put forth a little more effort and make it into a laminated card, those odds go way up, as do the odds that the list will be available to each member of your group when it hits the fan. A laminated card, small enough to fit inside a wallet, helps insures that everyone has those important contacts no matter where they are.

One Last Thought

Just as my dispatcher sent backup to me whenever I was anticipating problems, you can anticipate many problems yourself (or even as a group). Most weather-related problems have some warning time, and with all of the warnings available from the National Weather Service and various phone apps, you should have time to alert your people. Think you’ll need backup? Time for a slumber party at your place. Get your crew together, make a plan, and you’ll be more ready than 99% of your neighbors.

A few more resources for disaster survival

disaster survival

How to Find a Prepper Group in Your Area or Online!

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How to Find a Prepper Group in Your Area or Online! Prepping is similar to “Fight Club” in that the main rules about prepping is “you don’t talk about your preps”. Talking about your preps to other people in your local area, like neighbors, cashiers, or co-workers can actually come back to bite you when … Continue reading How to Find a Prepper Group in Your Area or Online!

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Shared Bug Out Location/ Retreat Ownership

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This topic comes up from time to time. It is something that has personally came up as an option in my life recently so I have been thinking about it.

Before getting started I am not a lawyer, real estate agent or anything like that. Even if I was in any way qualified, which I am not, to give specific real estate advice it would only be accurate for the geographic area of my expertise. Real estate laws, zoning, etc vary such that a real estate specialist in Idaho may not know much about the specific laws in Texas. If you are seriously thinking of doing this consult a lawyer who does real estate in the area you are looking to buy in.

Personalities need to be considered as well. Do you have a personality which allows for the inevitable give and take that comes with sharing? Does the other person? If as family/ friend dynamics go can you two make it work together? If the opinionated person does more of the work and the easy going person is cool with tagging along it can work. Otherwise maybe not so much.

We will talk about the pro’s and cons then have some discussion.

Pro- Pooling resources (money) This is definitely the first thing that comes to mind and I would say the primary reason people consider this sort of thing. Neither person has enough money so they pool together. At the low end this is often the difference between being able to buy into the market or not. At the higher end it is getting better quality and or a larger piece of land. Also potential for shared maintenance/ development costs (A 1/4 mile road split 2 ways is better than 1, etc) is promising.

Choosing your neighbors. I didn’t think of this one right away but it came to me in time. Of course you can always take a look at the neighbors crappy meth shack compound and decide not to buy there. However in this case you get to CHOOSE your neighbors. That could have huge benefits in an emergency.

Bringing together strengths/ minimizing weaknesses. Say the rich city cousin Jill wants a place but is worried about leaving it alone. The less rich country cousin Tim is out in an area all the time and is good at building stuff but can’t scrape up enough cash. Mutually beneficial arrangements can certainly exist here.

Con-

So many different issues. Any time you involve relationships and money things can get crazy in a hurry. Even removing the preparedness angle we all probably know some folks for whom the family beach house/ cabin turned into a nightmare. I don’t mean to short change this but there are just so many possible ways for it to go wrong. Seriously major relationship ending problems can and often do come up.

Discussion-

Legal/ financial

I believe it is very important to have a clear written understanding of what the agreement is before deciding to enter into it. Ask the hard questions now before there are any issues.

What are both parties putting in and what are they getting. There are many ways to do this, especially if people bring different things to the table. I would just say to be very clear about what each person is going to put in and get out. If Tim builds Jill a cabin at cost is he now an owner and if so of what?

How will future decisions be made? What about future expenses? At a minimum this should be in writing, both people should sign it and have a copy. This way they both know what they agreed to and can refer to it in the future as needed. That being said unless it was cost prohibitive, $500 in legal agreements about a $1,500 piece of west Texas desert you are splitting with a buddy doesn’t pass the common sense test, I would do this with a lawyer. They would likely bring some good points to the table and make sure everything was legal.

What if someone needs to cash out?

If at all possible I would look to legally sub divide the land/ retreat. Tom and Jane (relatives or whatever) decide to buy 10 acres. Tom gets the northern 5 and Jane gets the southern 5. They share the road that is in the middle. They legally divide it so their ownership, tax liability, etc is separate. If Tom decides to sell and Jane (or another relative) cannot buy the land he just sells it. Other than losing having a close neighbor Jane and her family are not affected. If sub dividing the land make sure both parties have water rights and necessary right of ways for access/ road use in place. That way if you stop getting along or they sell to a stranger nobody is up a creek without a paddle.

In some cases this is not possible. Zoning may prevent homes from being built on pieces of land smaller than a certain size. In some cases this can be skirted around by using tiny houses on flatbed trailers but it would likely really hurt resale (since a person could not build a traditional cabin/ home). This is something significant to consider and in my eyes would be a real negative for an area. In other cases the lay of the land would make a simple split difficult or inequitable due to a key feature (water comes to mind) being located where division would not make sense or terrain lending itself to one building site.

I think establishing Tim’s land and Jane’s land is important even if the way they actually do things is a lot less formal or even downright communal. This way they are both protected in some sort of a worst case situation but short of that they can do whatever they both agree to (though in some cases with real estate property rights/ ownership can be affected so check local laws, etc).

If legal division is possible you can really stop reading this.

If it is not possible/ practical then you really would need a solid agreement in place.

What if one party is supposed to pay half of the taxes and can’t/ won’t?

Also in general what is the plan for if a person plans to sell or dies? Does the whole place get sold or just their share? I don’t know about you but I do not want to own half of a piece of land with a total stranger! Odds are they would have a hard time selling that way. In some cases agreements can be written the other party gets the first opportunity to buy the land. In others a sale might even need to be approved by specified parties.

Co Use

Are your goals similar or at least compatible? If Tim to have a raging party with a band every fall and Jane’s family is trying to hunt for deer the same weekend there it’s going to be problematic. Of course smaller spaces and non delineated property lines would compound this all and honestly that is not a situation I would be very comfortable with.

If people are sharing land who can do what there? If one person wants to grow corn and the other wants a mud bog to drive 4wd trucks in the same place that is an issue.

How will shared resources be used and by whom? If both families have a couple hunters and each want to bring some friends/ relatives there are going to be way too many hunters for their 10 acres. Ditto fishing, firewood collecting, etc all.

Shared structure? Is there going to be a shared structure on the land? This really complicates things, especially if the structure brings significant value to the place such that you can’t give one person the structure and the other a couple more acres, or have them pay a bit less or whatever. Ending up sharing a structure really adds to the potential for complication. Now instead of sharing a field and both having camping spots you are sharing a house!

This really brings to mind all the family cabin horror stories we have heard. Everyone wants to use it labor day weekend and nobody wants to chip in for the new roof. Also what space belongs to whom and when? Are some part of the rooms each persons and they can use them whenever while others are communal? Or do the parties alternate exclusive use? Honestly in this situation (which I probably wouldn’t get in) I would look hard at the timeshare model. Communal stuff like basic cook wear, etc would stay out and people would have lockers/ bins or something for their personal stuff that would stay there. Each party would be entitled to use the place so much based on their share or whatever. Still I would try not to do this.

In conclusion by being smart on the front end I think a lot of down sides can be mitigated. A situation where there are clear legal property boundaries with a legal agreement on maintaining the road or whatever has very little risk of hassle. A handshake agreement to buy a cabin between a couple people is a nightmare waiting to happen.

After writing this I realized that I primarily considered two parties who are very close friends or family. More people would make things way more complicated as would people who knew each other less well. As such I did not really feel like talking about either of those options.

Sure there is probably more. Depending on how my train of thought continues and the comments go there may be another post.

Thoughts?