Off grid living: Grow 25 pounds of sweet potatoes in a bucket

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Although sweet potatoes are an important staple food for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, this versatile, orange root tuber can be added to many other meals all year round. While sweet potatoes have been used for ages by many cultures around the world, until recently they weren’t a regular sight on American kitchen tables outside of the Holiday season.

In the past decade, however, the sweet potato has found its way to our hearts. According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, the root vegetable’s popularity has skyrocketed between 2000 and 2014, with its consumption increasing by nearly 80 percent. And for a good reason; sweet potatoes pack a powerful nutritional punch.

They are loaded with essential micronutrients to promote overall health and have fewer calories than ordinary potatoes. Essential nutrients found in sweet potatoes include fiber, protein, beta-carotene, vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and many vitamins of the B-complex.

What’s more, you actually don’t need a big garden or a lot of space to grow your own supply of sweet potatoes. Read on to find out how to grow sweet potatoes at your home.

Easy steps to grow sweet potatoes in a bucket

  1. Select the right sweet potato – Rooted sweet potatoes will give you the best result since you can be sure that they are not treated with pesticides to stop the sprouting process.
  2. Create some heat – Unlike regular potatoes, sweet potatoes love the heat. While sweet potatoes will still grow at a minimum temperature of 50 °F (10°C), they seem to do much better at room temperature. So, if you live in a colder climate, make sure to keep them indoors.
  3. Prepare a 5-gallon bucket – Once you have selected the right sprouted potato, fill a container that has draining holes in the bottom with moist soil. Plant one potato per 5-gallon bucket, tops exposed.
  4. Waiting for “slips” to emerge – After a while, green shoots or slips will start to grow out of the sweet potato. This step will take about 90 days.
  5. Transplant the slips – Once the slips are big enough, about 6 to 12 inches, it is time to gently remove them from the sweet potato and transplant them to a larger 20-gallon container. In each 20-gallon container, you can plant six sweet potato slips.
  6. Pick the right season – As mentioned before, sweet potatoes are a heat-loving plant. If you are planning to grown them outdoors, make sure the last frost of spring has already passed. Late spring is the ideal time of the year. Also, make sure they stay well-watered.
  7. Harvest time – After about 3 to 4 months – or when the leaves and vines start to turn yellow – you can start digging up the sweet potatoes. If you grow outdoors, this is usually just after the first frost. After digging up the sweet potatoes, shake off any excess dirt, but do not wash them with water as sweet potatoes need a curing process to create their delicious, sweet taste.
  8. Cure sweet potatoes – Next to enhancing their flavor, curing allows a second skin to form over scratches and bruises you made while digging up the potatoes. This protective layer makes it possible to store sweet potatoes at room temperature for up to a year. To cure, store the harvested tubers in a warm, humid place (80°F or 27°C) for two weeks.

As reported by Off The Grid News, bucket-grown sweet potatoes will have a yield of about 25 pounds for each 20-gallon container. (RELATED: Find more information about off-the-grid living at OffGrid.news.)

Source : www.naturalnews.com

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FOOD SYSTEM SHOCK ~ LLOYD’S 2015

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Lloyd’s takes a look at the fragility of the world’s food production system in the face of ever growing demand.

Read the full report by clicking the photo!!!

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Food System Shock ~ Lloyd’s 2015

 

Lloyd’s of London Food System Shock June 2015

Here are a few sobering key findings of the report.

(Courtesy TWILAND.INFO)

Suggestions: Develop the hobby of gardening. Promote the keeping of backyard poultry in your community. Stock up on dried milk products while they are still available. Know where the flooding rivers might impact your home. Develop the hobby of fishing. Learn how to listen to emergency reports. Join an amateur radio club and learn how to keep in touch without the use of cell phones. Severe weather events often disrupt the power grid, so develop the skills of using solar power. You can be identified as a farmer by the USDA if you sell at least $1,000 a year. Be prepared to protect what you have for your family. …

Key findings

  • A combination of just three catastrophic weather events could undermine food production across the globe.
  • These could lead to a 10% drop in global maize production, an 11% fall in soybean production, a 7% fall in wheat production and a 7% fall in rice production.
  • Wheat, maize and soybean prices could increase to quadruple the average levels experienced during the 20 years prior to the global food price shock of 2007/8. Rice prices could increase by 500%.
  • The scenario indicates this series of events has the potential to lead to food riots breaking out in urban areas across the Middle East, North Africa and Latin America, leading to wider political instability and having knock-on effects for a wide range of businesses.
  • While agriculture commodity stocks might benefit, the overall economic impact of high food prices, combined with rising political instability, could severely impact financial markets. The scenario indicates that the main European stock markets might lose 10% of their value and US stock markets 5%.

Food System Shock June 2015

 

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A NEW ADDITION TO THE GARDEN – COLD BOXES

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Gardening season is here! 

Well, okay.  Technically, gardening season is almost here in our neck of the woods.  But as any gardener worth their salt will tell you, dreaming up your garden plan is half the fun!  Just thinking about how you’re going to orient this year’s prized plantings easily helps you push through the final stretch of winter that occupies the weeks before you can actually get to play in the dirt again once planting season finally arrives.

We are especially looking forward to getting back in the game this gardening season because our efforts were obviously subdued last year with Riley’s arrival and we’re chomping at the bit to get things cranked up.  So much so that we decided to add a new piece of infrastructure to our homestead by building two new cold boxes.  Eventually the plans are to build a full size greenhouse, but these cold boxes will certainly meet our needs for now.

A cold box is essentially a mini-greenhouse that allows you to start your seeds, protects your seedlings from frost during the late winter months and allows you to “strengthen” them by exposing them slowly to the elements before eventually transplanting your seedlings into your full size garden.  Cold boxes can also be used to grow smaller plants with shallow root systems if you are so inclined.

We were able to up-cycle a couple of reclaimed window frames from a friend and we knew precisely how to put them to good use.  One of the frames was missing two panes of glass, but this was easily remedied.  I picked up a couple of acrylic sheets to replace the panes and left the job to my wife Alice.  Moments later she had trimmed them up to the right size to replace the missing panes and I added a little weather caulking to seal them into place. The two boxes framed up turned out to be 32″ x 31″ and 36″ x 28″ respectively.  I made a quick trip to my local lumber yard to pick up one 2 x 12 x 12 and one 2 x 12 x 10 to use for the frames and got to work.  A little bit of quality time with the circular saw and the power drill and we were set.

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Up-cycling reclaimed materials, gardening and power tools.  How could this day and this project not turn out great?  These cold boxes will be a tremendous addition to our homesteading infrastructure and we look forward to getting years of use out of them.  I’m certain we will pretty them up a bit in the near future and we will let Riley lead the way on that portion of the project.  I honestly can’t wait to see how they ultimately turn out.  I promise I’ll keep you posted!

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A WORLD WITHOUT WORK

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Have you ever wondered what the world may look like after societal collapse? What if the world as you know it today simply disappeared? If so you have probably considered what how the priorities and values of today might be reshuffled. Things that seem to matter so much today may not matter at all in this new world. What would have value? What skill sets would matter when commutes, cubicles and consumerism are a thing of the past? Believe it or not, the answer can be found today and Derek Thompson, Senior Editor The Atlantic, takes a look at what a world without work might look like. Check out this video as Thompson discusses this new and probable reality where the old ice breaker “What do you do?” becomes “What can you do?” After societal collapse that is all that will really matter any way.

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A FRIENDLY VISIT SHOWS EVERYONE CAN HOMESTEAD

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We recently visited our friend Gary at his home to celebrate his daughter’s (also a friend) birthday. We’ve known this wonderful family for a few years now and although we don’t live right down the street and see each other every day, this visit like every visit was full of fun and good times. It didn’t take long after arriving before I was pleasantly reminded of just how interesting visiting Gary can be. You see, Gary is like us in that he has chosen to do all he can to wrestle back some control of his life back from the system by doing whatever he can to build resilience into his every day life by embracing the homesteading lifestyle at every opportunity. For Gary, this includes everything from growing as much of his own food as he can, to keeping small stock in the back yard and this visit revealed (to my great excitement) that he has branched out making his own wine and whiskey, complete with his own miniature whiskey still that lives on under the carport!

 

 

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As we walked around Gary’s average sized suburban property he shared a good number of fun and interesting things that he’s currently got working and I was interested to see them all. The chickens and rabbits were still doing just fine, but now they have been joined by the pigeons which we found bedding down for the evening in their happy little coop. The turkeys, which I had enjoyed very much when we were there the last time, we gone having graced the family’s table a while back. The front and side yard gardens were in good shape despite having a bit of transitional look to them, which is great because it shows that they are constantly changing to get ready for whatever comes next in a never-ending cycle of growth, harvest and rejuvenation. I think I enjoyed hearing about the mushrooms Gary was growing over by the fence the most. Planted them right in the logs himself. Awesome. When we headed back inside, Gary showed me the various wines he was waiting on, showed me how his whiskey still operates and explained how he ages the Shine with a bit of oak to mellow it out a bit. Before I knew it, Gary was showing off his bread bowl and exposing me to homemade kombucha for the first time. Tasty and good for you too. That’s a win-win if you ask me. From there we discussed the motivation for doing all of this “different” kind of stuff. I know why Alice and I do what we do and finding out what motivates other folks interests me. So of course, I asked whether he was doing any bartering with any of these “goods” and Gary grinned widely and simply stated, “Well, I haven’t paid for a haircut in ten years.” Now I was the one grinning.

 

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The composting area and butterfly garden.

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There’s more to this average suburban space than meets the eye.

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Raised garden beds fill the front.

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Here are the rabbit hutches and the chicken coop.

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These are the pigeons being raised for meat.

 

I wanted to share all of this with you for a couple of reasons. First off, Gary’s a good guy doing good things for his family, his community and the world in general and that should be recognized. The way he is going about all of that makes it even better, choosing the natural/organic way whenever given the opportunity. What’s more, Gary is very willing to share his knowledge with others whenever he can, giving freely of his time simply because he believes that what he is sharing is worth the effort. Kudos!

Secondly, I wanted to share Gary’s adventures because it speaks to a larger fact that we believe is very important yet most folks seem to not realize. Anyone and everyone can be a homesteader, regardless of your circumstance. You do not have to have 50 acres to live the homesteading lifestyle, merely a desire to grab your daily reality by the shoulders and retake control over your personal situation while doing what you can to meet the basic requirements of this life. If you do that, whether you’re growing your own food or developing skill sets that will help you meet your basic needs, you’re a homesteader.

So take heart friends and believe me when I tell you that you can do it too. If you want grow some of your own food to increase your food security, or develop a secondary revenue stream for you and your family to build some financial resilience, or learn a new skill set that will have some actual value should we wake to a tomorrow that is drastically different than the world we know today, I say go for it and know that you can do it. We support your efforts, we believe in you and we cannot wait to welcome you to the community.

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PRACTICAL TACTICAL NAMED A ‘TOP PREPPING RESOURCES’ WEBSITE

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BEST 250 PREPPER WEBSITE

Talk about a wonderful way to start the day…..

I woke up to an email this morning to find out that Happy To Survive has named Practical Tactical among the top 250 prepper websites with top prepping resources on the interwebs.  This marks the second time we have been ranked among the best in the business when it comes to helping you and yours become more prepared for whatever may come down the road.  We are especially proud of being included in this group as we are rubbing shoulders with some of the folks that we consider to be the very best at what they do, which is helping others increase their level of preparedness and personal resilience like Peak Prosperity, Resilience, Willow Haven Outdoor, James Wesley Rawles Survival Blog and Prepper Website just to name a few.

 

This recognition means so much to us for a number of reasons, but mostly because it gets right to the heart of what we strive to make Practical Tactical all about….helping others become more prepared and resilient in their every day lives.  Our work with Practical Tactical is not a full time deal.  My wife (and partner in the venture) and myself both maintain full time jobs, raise our baby girl, as well as entertain our vast number of other interests that make our life experience worth living and for us that is the key to preparedness.  Prepping does not have to take over your life or darken your outlook on the world.  Rather, we hope to show you that being prepared is something anyone can do and that it, in fact, frees you from the stresses of worrying over the circumstance that you are NOT prepared and allows you to get out there and enjoy all that this wonderful life has to offer.  The list states that it is cobbled together in no particular order, but just to be included among such a fine group of individuals and projects is a wonderful honor in itself.

 

You can find the complete list here.

 

 

 

 

THE REAL COST OF FOOD WASTE AND INSECURITY IN AMERICA

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You may have heard me talk about the amount of food that is wasted in the United States before and the impact that it has on real Americans every day.  The numbers are sickening and nearly unbelievable:

  • 40% of the food produced in the US does not get eaten
  • $165 billion in food thrown away every year or 20 pounds per person every month
  • 49.1 million Americans lived in food-insecure households in 2013
  • Average American households are wasting 15-25% of the food bought

As if that information isn’t awful enough, I’m writing about this in this space because of the underlying and bitter reality that makes it possible. Just stop to think of all of the (depleting and non-renewable) natural resources like water and fossil fuels (oil) that are being used to grow, produce, harvest, ship and store all of this food that eventually ends up some landfill somewhere and morphs into a climate destroying methane bomb. Every choice we make has a consequence in the zero sum game of natural resources. And ‘sell by’ dates? Grade A, peanut butter and jelly flavored Bull****. These things look official but are actually about as real as the idea that the Federal Reserve is somehow part of the United States Government!

So what about us? We have very minimal waste in our household. We grow as much of our own food as possible, preserve what we do not eat immediately by canning, freezing and proper dry storage, we compost all of the kitchen cuttings that the chickens do not enjoy to build soil for our gardens and we target shop when we need to go to the store so that we do not buy/spend carelessly which helps us lower our total household food waste.

I wanted to share this video just to bring more awareness to how the process goes here in the US and how we currently use our dwindling and evermore precious natural resources when it comes to food production. Some waste is inherently unavoidable, but I think we all should strive to be closer to our food or at least have a better understanding of the costs associated with how it gets to our table. If this can happen, then maybe we will start to ask more of the process and care a bit more for our fellow citizens on a societal level and just how much our ‘throw away’ society is really costing us.

I encourage you to watch this report from John Oliver on Last Week Tonight and please consider what you can do to help our children, those among us that can do the least for themselves, escape food-insecurity by visiting these organizations:

No Kid Hungry

Feeding America

 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Food Waste (HBO)

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WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: OBSERVE YOUR WORLD

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There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about a really complete preparedness plan, not the least of which is weather. Obviously this means getting prepared to ride out the storms that roll through from time to time for all of us. The occasional severe storm that brings a tornado, hurricane, snow or ice storm, flooding and so on. But have you ever given any thought to how you might deal with weather in a long term survival situation like after a devastating seasonal storm knocks out all communications in your area for an extended period or, if you allow yourself to really consider how bad things could be, after a collapse? Your answer could turn out to be a matter of life and death. That’s why I wanted to share a few ideas on tools and concepts that will help you better understand the weather, and why it’s important to round out your complete preparedness plan.

I’ll touch on a few of the high points here, but I hope you will watch the video to get the full picture of what I’m talking about.

PREPAREDNESS LIBRARY

Being interested in preparedness, we should all have one and no preparedness library is complete without some titles on weather identification and history. Whether you are old school like me and like the feel of a book in your hand or you prefer to download your books, PDFs and other information on jump drives and designated tablets or laptops, I would strongly suggest you include some of these materials in your collection.

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WEATHER TOOLS

A couple of basic tools you will want to include in your DIY weather center are a barometer, thermometer and a rain gauge. With just these three items you will be able to forecast changing weather and establish weather trends. You can get a small and rugged barometer for your BOLT Kit in case you find yourself on the move.

WEATHER HOMEWORK

Now that you’ve got your finger on the pulse of your local weather, the next step is to document what you’re seeing so you can use this information in the future to help you make better decisions based on weather conditions. Here are three simple actions steps you can take immediately to better understand your weather.

1. Create and keep a weather log and an accompanying journal about the weather readings you observing.

2. Get familiar with your local weather history by talking to people that have lived and worked in the area for a long time. There’s nothing better than real, on the ground intel from people that have lived it.

3. Contact your local county level government officials and ask for Hazard Vulnerability (or Risk) Assessment for your area. This is usually not classified material of any type and as a taxpayer you should be able to obtain a copy free of charge.

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PREPAREDNESS APPLICATIONS

When it comes to preparedness, there are many applications for weather information in your particular area. Whether it’s determining when it’s time to put the garden in, whether or not the fish will be biting or if there is a strong storm moving in, the more informed you are the better chance you will have of being successful in your efforts and keeping your group and yourself safe.

WEATHER PREPAREDNESS: OBSERVE YOUR WORLD

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