Tips For Building Emergency Food Stocks Have you been trying to build an emergency food supply, only to turn around and use up all you worked to stock up? It can be incredibly frustration and make you feel like you’re failing when that likely isn’t the case at all! Most people, when first starting to …
The Next Gen of Preppers Regardless of what you may think or feel about the millennial generation, there are certain things about them that have far exceeded their parents’ generation. Information, for example. All they’ve ever known is to Google search. They have little to no concept about the Dewey decimal system, cassette players, or …
How to Grow Sprouts In A Mason Jar For You Or Your Chickens Sprouts are great for us and our lovely chickens. They are full of nutrients and much-needed sustenance. You can use sprouts in your every day foods, I prefer them in salads It gives the salad a great crunch and taste. For chickens …
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There is a great form of recycling that is easy, fun and nutritious: re-growing vegetables from leftover scraps. You don’t need much to get started — just containers, soil, water and a sunny windowsill. Sometimes you don’t even need the soil.
Many vegetables have the ability to regenerate, and you can regrow quite a few common veggies with as little as a glass of water. It’s a great project for any time of the year, but especially during colder months when you likely don’t have access to your garden.
To help you begin, here is a list of vegetables that are easy to regrow.
1. Lettuce and cabbage — After you prepare a salad or a stew, do you toss the lettuce or cabbage heart in the trash or on the compost pile? Next time, place it in a shallow dish with about a half-inch of water and then put the dish on a sunny windowsill. The water will get cloudy and a bit smelly, so you will want to replace it every day or two.
After three days or so, you will notice new leaves sprouting. When they are large enough for eating, you can harvest them. Leave the head in some clean water, and you can repeat the process.
2. Scallions, green onions, leeks and fennel – Set the white root base in enough water to completely cover the bulb and then place the container on your windowsill.
Replace the water every few days. After a week or so, you will notice new growth. You can keep regenerating these bulbs and even can transfer them outdoors in the spring.
3. Onions – Onions need a bit more room, but they are still easy to grow. Place the onion’s root section in a cup of water on a sunny windowsill and watch for sign of regrowth. When the bulb has grown back, transfer the plant to a large pot of soil. You can replant it in your outdoor garden during the warmer weather.
4. Garlic – Did you know that you could regenerate a garlic plant from just one clove? Here’s how: Plant the clove root-end down in a pot of soil and then place the pot where it can get direct sunlight.
5. Ginger – To regenerate the root of the ginger plant, which is the part you use in cooking, take a fresh piece and submerge it partially in soil with the nubbins pointing upward.
Place the pot in indirect sunlight and keep the soil moist, and the root will begin growing within about two weeks. To obtain fresh ginger, pull up the plant, harvest some of its root and then repeat the process.
6. Celery – Celery takes a while to regrow, but the results are worth it. Place the base (about an inch or two) in a jar of water on a sunny window ledge. As with some of the other veggies, you will need to replace the cloudy water regularly. Tiny sprouts begin to appear in about a week. After a few more weeks, you will see enough growth to harvest.
7. Bean Sprouts – Soak your leftover dry beans overnight before spreading them out evenly on towels to dry. Repeat this process three or more times until you begin to notice sprouts appearing. You may use the sprouts on sandwiches and in salads. Store any leftover sprouts in the refrigerator.
Like many gardening projects, regrowing vegetables takes some time and some patience. Usually, the fresher the scraps, the better the results will be.
Keep in mind that many plants are sensitive to chlorine or fluoride. If you are on a municipal water system, consider using distilled water for your kitchen scrap garden. Also, if your windowsills do not get much sunlight, grow lights will work well.
What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Medicine Growing Your Own Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio in player below! It’s almost spring, and that means it’s that time of year to get planting your medicinal herb garden. The question is, what herbs are the most important herbs to grow? In this episode of Herbal Prepper Live, we will cover a wide variety … Continue reading Medicine Growing Your Own!
How To Grow Ten TONS of Organic Vegetables! If you’re homesteading or have a farm, you are probably always looking for ways to maximize your produce yield. Obviously, you don’t want to lose time or resources on a bad harvest, plus there is always the winter to stock up for. Just imagine, though, if you …
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It can be hard to think about gardening when it’s below freezing, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Cold weather is the perfect time for planning!
If you are thinking (like I might have perhaps thought in the past) that you can just grab a few packs of seeds from the local hardware store or super store in April or so, put them in the ground, and you’ll see something come up in a few months, well, you’re mostly wrong. You definitely can grow food during the cooler months! It’s not rocket science, but it does require some thought and planning.
Before it freezes (or at least quickly after the first frost):
1. Remove and discard diseased parts of plants. But not into the compost! (If you put them into the compost, the weeds could sprout up wherever you use the compost later.
2. Mulch over any plants that might be susceptible to the cold (about 8″ deep), including over-wintering vegetables such as carrots, so they are still alive in the spring.
3. Make sure all beds are composted or mulched. A compost pail with a charcoal filter will allow you to start your compost stash inside the house while controlling odors until you can empty it outdoors.
4. Clean up, maintain, and properly store garden tools and equipment. Note any that need replaced. If you need a new set of good quality hand tools like the ones in this kit, add it to your Christmas list!
5. If any garden tools need significant repairs, take them in to be fixed.
6. Start a wish-list of gifts you would like. The holidays are approaching!
Planning for next spring
7. Order seed catalogs. There are multiple good companies, so go ahead and order a few. You may be surprised by what you find, and really good catalogs will have your mouth watering and you itching to start digging in the dirt. A couple of my own favorites are Seeds of Change and Baker Creek.
Remember: if you want to save the seeds from the plants to grow new plants in the future, you almost certainly will want heirloom varieties.
8. Decide if you want to use cold frames or another technique to extend your growing season. Plan and build accordingly, if you want to go for it.
9. Start diagramming/planning what you want where. Once you have a very general plan – vegetable garden, herb garden, annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees planned out – it’s time to start getting more specific. A journal specifically designed for gardeners will give you room to plan your garden, journal your efforts, and then make notes about what worked and what didn’t.
10. Check the viability and test germination of any seeds you have on hand.
11. When planning, start with the plants that take the longest to mature and will be there for the longest – the trees. Next come bushes, then perennials including any perennial herbs, annuals including vegetables, and finally any potted plants.
The last would be plants that can’t survive in your area that you really want. In my case, I have some potted chamomile and an aloe plant that I bring in during the winter. Other people have lemon trees, but it could be almost anything.
12. Ask these questions for trees, bushes, perennials, and annuals:
- Do you want to plant any new ones?
- What kind?
- How will planting these affect other plants you’ll put nearby? If you put in a tree that gets very wide, so you probably won’t want to plant bushes or anything long-lasting near it, but annual flowers could do great and provide a nice pop of color!
- Are there any other plants that cannot coexist with it?
- What plants do really well with it?
- Where do you want them on your lot? You may realize that you want a vegetable garden near the driveway, but you need some bushes between it and your teenage driver.
13. Start picking out what you want! I think this is the most fun. I can totally lose myself in seed catalogs.
Guidance on Picking Plants
14. Decide what you are looking for, and why. I like unusual varieties of common plants, like yellow carrots or banana melons. You might prefer more traditional orange carrots. This article with advice from a master gardener may help you make these decisions.
15. Do you want to involve your kids? My youngest loves picking out plants. It makes him crazy-happy to pick out, plant, nurture, and (sometimes) eat plants. There are areas in the garden with nothing planned so he can put whatever makes him happy. And yes, sometimes he decides on a spot I know or that makes me a bit crazy, but it still goes there unless I have a really good reason not to – like it’s right exactly where the mower will kill it.
16. Don’t forget to check which grow zone you live in. Your county or state extension service might have more detailed information available, or ask at a local nursery, to get the best information.
17. If you plant an herb garden, be sure to check which weeds are considered weeds or pests in your area. I planted lemon balm, which can go crazy, but I made sure to plant it where the driveway, a brick walk, and the house formed three sides, containing it a bit. (It’s apparently a member of the mint family, and they all grow like crazy pretty easily.) Yarrow is also considered a weed, but not invasive like lemon balm. So, to me, as a not-so-active-gardener, that just means yarrow will be harder for my chronic neglect to kill.
18. Think about what you actually use and eat. I planted about 8 oregano plants a few years ago and they grew great – but I rarely use oregano in my cooking. I love the smell of lavender and it’s a slight bug repellant, so I have planted a bunch of that around the house. I am interested in herbal remedies, so I planted yarrow, several kinds of mint and chamomile. The last two are potted. One, so it doesn’t spread and take over everything, the other because it can’t survive a winter outside in our climate.
Steps to Take Mid-Winter
20. Consider the weather – is it an unusually cold or snowy winter? Is it mild? If it is mild, then you probably don’t need to do anything extra to your plants, but if it is a really cold or snowy year, you might want to protect your plants better. Last year, I lost almost all of the strawberry plants that I had nurtured from a few starts over the previous four years! A layer of mulch over top of them would have kept the cold out and the plants alive, even though they didn’t need it in previous warmer winters.
21. Take advantage of the increased visibility from all the plants dying or being dormant and take a good look at your grounds. Are there areas of erosion? If so, you have a project for spring and can start researching and planning how to best fix it.
22. Can you see roots damaging walls, foundations, pathways, or anything else? Don’t forget to check the area near the septic field and the well. In the spring, have a professional take care of any problematic roots. Research a good tree service and ask for referrals from friends and neighbors.
23. Where does the snow and ice melt first and where does it last? That gives you an idea of what spots naturally receive more sunlight or less sunlight. Of course, the micro-climate(s) in your yard will be a little different when the trees have leaves and as the angles of the sun change, but this will give you a starting point.
24. It’s finally time to start planting, even with the ground frozen rock-hard. Start your hardy (early season) plants indoors. In four to six weeks, you can put them in the ground and start the next group of plants inside. A Grow Zone map can help you determine what to plant and when, as the weather begins to warm up.
Hopefully these tips will help you and your family get excited for your garden for next summer and you’ll have a great growing season!
Enjoy the process and the produce!
This article was updated on November 17, 2016.
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See larger image The Backyard Orchardist: A Complete Guide to Growing Fruit Trees in the Home Garden For every gardener desiring to add apples, pears, cherries, and other tree fruit to their landscape here are hints and solid information from a professional horticulturist and experienced fruit grower. The Backyard Orchardist includes help on selecting the best fruit trees and information about each stage of growth and development, along with tips on harvest and storage of the fruit. Those with limited space will learn about growing dwarf fruit trees in containers. Appendices include a fruit-growers monthly calendar, a trouble-shooting guide for
Used and revered in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, the root of the ginseng (Panax ginseng) plant has become increasingly popular in the West for use as an herbal medicine, as its adaptogenic and longevity-promoting properties have become more widely recognized around the world.
However, due to overharvesting in the wild, questionable sourcing practices, and the fact that it is difficult to grow, it is becoming more and more difficult to obtain a good source of ginseng for personal use.
Enter gynostemma (Gynostemma pentaphyllum), a vining herbaceous Chinese plant that exhibits comparable qualities to those of ginseng, but is much easier to grow yourself, and is considered to be one of the top anti-aging longevity herbs of Asia. For starters, let’s take a look at the health benefits of consuming gynostemma.
There are many health benefits of gynostemma:
- Contains many important nutrients that the body needs, including selenium, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese and phosphorous.
- Helps to rid the body of toxins, waste and harmful microorganisms.
- Supports a healthy immune system.
- Helps to bring overall balance to the body, and can aid the body in dealing with a number of different health conditions, including heart disease, arthritis, high blood pressure and acute and chronic inflammation (fights the free-radical damage that leads to aging of the body’s cells).
- Helps to maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Supports healthy digestion.
- Reduces stress.
- Reduces pain.
- Supports a healthy liver and nervous system.
- Helps to significantly increase the body’s production of superoxide dismutase, one of the most powerful antioxidants produced within the body.
Gynostemma can be taken as a tea, powder, tincture and in capsules. The tea is very tasty, making it a pleasure to consume. Both the leaves and the stems can be used medicinally.
Gynostemma is considered to be quite safe for most people and can be consumed on a daily basis for overall health and wellness. In fact, there is a large group of people in China that consume gynostemma tea daily and typically live to be more than 100 years old!
The gynostemma plant can be grown from seed or from starter plants, and is an easy-to-grow herbaceous (non-woody) perennial. The leaves and stems are tender to frost. It will grow perennially in USDA Hardiness Zones 7-10, although it can be kept in a pot indoors during the winter in colder climates. Once established, it is root-hardy to at least 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
Gynostemma needs rich, moist soil, and sunny or partial shade conditions. The plant’s tendrils allow it to grow more than 20 feet up a trellis, and it also can grow onto shrubs or trees, or as ground cover.
Spread by rhizomes, gynostemma can become invasive once established, especially in warmer areas, where it can grow year-round. Plant it in a larger container to keep it from running amok within and beyond your landscape.
The plants are dioecious, having separate male and female plants that are needed in order to produce seeds. The seeds need to be soaked for 24 hours in warm water and then sown 2-3 per pot in rich compost, thinning the seedlings once it can be determined which one is the strongest. The seedlings can be planted outside once the danger of frost has passed.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to diagnose or to treat any particular medical condition. Always consult with a qualified health practitioner when considering the addition of any herbs or supplements into your health and wellness routine, especially if you have any pre-existing health conditions.
Have you ever grown gynostemma? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
Want to try something a little more exotic in your garden this year? There is a yummy summer fruit that you may have tasted, but know little about. Tomatillos, also known as husk tomatoes, play a big role in some favorite and common dishes served often in Mexican restaurants – and they’re delicious.
Let’s take a look at this popular fruit that doesn’t get a lot of attention. They are a small, round and green (or greenish-purple) summer fruit, which can also ripen to a yellow, purple or red color if left long enough. Tomatillos originate from Mexico. They are part of the nightshade family and related to tomatoes, but that is where the similarities end.
Tomatillos have a paper-like skin and are usually about one to two inches wide. They are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as niacin, potassium, omega fatty acids and manganese. Their taste is rather tart, and they are often used for sauces and salsas. They can be eaten raw or used in salads as well. Other uses for this useful summer fruit – yes, some people call them vegetables — are in baking dishes, dressings, stews and guacamole. Some people even use tomatillos in omelettes, curry and chili. It seems that the sky is the limit for delectable uses.
This remarkable little plant is great for beginning gardeners, since tomatillos have very few disease and pest issues. Tomatillos are known to be very decorative, as well.
Tomatillos LOVE the sun and fertile soil. If you want, plant seeds indoors around six to eight weeks before the last frost. Make sure you grow them in a space that will get plenty of warm sunlight, and use compost to enrich the soil for the plants. If you buy seedlings, bury the plants until about two-thirds of the plant is covered, and each plant about three feet apart. A trellis would be helpful, as the tomatillo plants will require support as they grow. Supporting with a trellis also ensures there is a good amount of air circulation around the plants. Tomato cages work fine. The soil needs to be moist at all times. Mulch can be used to help keep moisture even in the soil and to prevent weeds. Soil also needs to have good drainage.
Plants will be three to four feet tall, and about the same for width. They fruit continuously through the season. Bees will come to the yellow blossoms of the tomatillo plant. You will need at least two plants, but often more, as tomatillos need cross-pollination. Each plant should produce around one pound of fruit for the season. Tomatillos are accustomed to a warm climate, so soggy ground will ruin them, but they still like moisture. Remember: Mulch works well with tomatillos. They can also live in drier conditions, but they are not drought-resistant. When using tomato cages for support, make sure there is at least two feet between each cage.
Within 75 to 100 days of transplanting, you should have enough tomatillos to make a salsa.
Some varieties ripen around 60 days from transplanting, so be sure to read labels or do research on what type you are planting.
When the fruit has filled out the husk part of the plant, but is still green, you should harvest. The fruit will split the husk if it is allowed to ripen further. The flesh should be firm. It will not be as juicy or have bright colors like a tomato.
Storing and Freezing
You can pull the plants and store them in a cool, dry, dark place or in the refrigerator. Store-bought tomatillos will keep up to three weeks in the fridge if you wrap them in paper. When freezing, remove the dry husks and clean the fruit, which will have a sticky film on it. Place the tomatillos in sandwich bags and put them in the freezer. You can thaw as many as you need and leave the rest by using this method. Tomatillos also can be cleaned and cut up before freezing for further ease. Freeze right after picking to ensure the smallest loss of vitamins and nutrients.
If you are ready to try something new and different this year, tomatillos could be the fresh idea for you.
Have you grown tomatillos? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
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!
There are many benefits to growing grass indoors. For example, wheat and rye grasses are very healthy if you juice them. Also, if you can spare some sprouted seeds, they make a great addition to oatmeal, bread and other recipes. Additionally, indoor grasses in pots bring the green inside in winter and help beat winter blues.
How to Start Wheatgrass and Rye
First, decide how much grass to grow. A 10 inch x 10 inch tray will take one cup of seed to yield approximately 10 ounces of juice. If you want a supply of grass to add nutrition to your winter diet, you will only need a tray or a couple of pots; you can cut the grass you need and re-seed when shoots are no longer being produced. You may want to sprout seeds at intervals of a week or so throughout the winter, to provide you with a supply of wheatgrass that is continually being refreshed by new sprouts. You also can grow a larger tray of grass or several trays, if you have space and you want to attempt transplanting in the early spring. Obviously, this method is not going to cover multiple acres, but you can grow enough to test the grains in a smaller plot or cover a plot intended for later-sowing crops.
Use sterile soil if possible to discourage mold growth. Wheatgrass is extremely easy to grow given the right conditions, and will grow quickly. For rye, you may want a container with better drainage as it grows a bit more slowly. Cooler and drier indoor air is generally best for grasses indoors, versus warm and humid, to prevent mold growth.
Here are a few basic steps to get started.
- Soak your seeds overnight, in water just covering them.
- Sprout your seeds in a jar or sprouter. You can follow our sprouting instructions.
- Place a thin layer of sterile soil in your tray or pots. Plant your sprouts on top of the soil, and thoroughly moisten. Leave in a dark area.
- Cover, and water thoroughly daily (if needed) to prevent drying.
- After four days of growth, remove the cover and move to an area of indirect sunlight. You can also grow grass under full-spectrum lighting
- Harvest grass with scissors when each shoot splits into two blades. This will take about a week or two. Cut the whole grass shoot and consume immediately, or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
- If you intend to transplant grass, allow it to regrow indoors without being harvested, and begin your next wheatgrass crop in a different tray. However, if you are not going to keep the plants, you can dispose of them into the compost and begin again.
Using Grasses in Food
Wheatgrass is an excellent source of potassium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and many other vitamins and minerals, as well as dietary fiber. Some claims suggest that a pound of wheatgrass is worth the nutrition of 23 pounds of vegetables! Rye grass has much the same nutritional value and flavor as wheatgrass. However, most of those nutrients are not accessible without juicing.
Hand-cranked grass juicers needn’t be expensive, but will be an integral part of your kitchen in the winter months. If you’re considering a juicer, look for a stainless-steel model that clamps to a table or countertop; it will last longer and reduce your labor. One pound of harvested grass will yield about 12 ounces of juice.
Many people enjoy mixing this with the juice from an apple or carrots to sweeten it. It can, however, be enjoyed on its own; just remember how many vitamins you’re getting out of it and drink it down.
Transplanting Your Grass in Spring
You may be able to move the plants outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked. If your region is prone to late frosts, move trays outdoors on warmer winter days to harden plants before transplanting, or place plants in cold frames to protect them from the harshest weather. Eventually, you can tear the root system and work the grass a little into the soil. If the soil is kept moist, the roots will take hold where they are and the grass will rebound, helping with soil retention and preventing weed growth.
If you wish, you can start letting the plants grow and go to seed. In the late summer and fall, you will be able to harvest grains for food, as well as save seeds for next year’s winter grasses. This way, you and your family will never be without the nutrition you need to be healthy and strong.
What advice would you add on growing wheat grass and rye grass? Share your tips in the section below:
In his best-seller, Square Foot Gardening, Mel Bartholomew showed gardeners his revolutionary system of planting in square foot sections to boost vegetable yields. Now in his follow-up, Mel tells you everything you need to know to be a successful square foot gardener. Earn $5,000 or $10,000 or even $20,000 per year – even with limited […]