We have decimated the bee populations. Its a sad reality among others. These great pollinators have suffered the slings and arrows of our society and now we have a responsibility to the. We have to make good on this situation. I think that knowing about what types of plants attract honey bees is hardly enough. …
Lyme Disease and plant medicine relief
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below!
This episode of Herbal Prepper Live starts a series of shows on Lyme disease. Lyme is a devastating disease that is spread by ticks. While Lyme was first noted in Lyme, CT and has plagued New England states for decades, Lyme is now present in ticks all across the US.
Lyme disease, aka borreliosis, causes a range of symptoms and can lead to life-threatening conditions.
The values in intricacies of Spikenard
Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided below!
A brownie point for the first one to know what spikenard is! Ahhh the history of names and changes, for those of us in modern times Spikenard is none other than Lavender. That sweet but not too sweet aromatic herb that many either love or hate. Personally hate seems a bit strong and actually I’ve found many more who enjoy it’s distinct scent than don’t.
Early Spring Foraging
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Audio player below!
This episode on Herbal Prepper Live, we’re talking about early spring foraging. It may not feel it outside yet, but spring is just around the corner. Soon, there will be the first green shoots and tender new roots which will be ready for the picking.
Wild Food and Medicine
Listen to this broadcast or download “Early Spring Foraging” in player below!
This article takes a look at foraging from an angle that is never explored. The truth of the matter is, people forage and they do so indiscriminately on location. Its a very interesting thing. For some reason we rarely ever consider if we should be taking. Much more of the question comes to, ‘ what …
Planting a Native Edibles Food Forest The move to replace invasive species of plants with natives is a very interesting one. Its an admirable goal that makes a lot of sense. Its beneficial to the environment and the wildlife. I think we are going to see an incredible uptick in people and businesses pushing for …
Oh, those wonderful mason jars. They have so many uses besides just preserving your food, and this one is one of my favorites. We’ve started plants from cuttings like this forever, but now it’s becoming the “cool” thing to do.
Well guess what? It’s a responsible, easy way to grow your own food even if you live in an apartment.
And often you don’t even have to mess with seeds if you can get a start from another plant! That’s because if cut properly, most plant stems will grow their own roots if placed in water. It takes some time and patience but growing plants in a jar of water is a great way to start plants on the cheap, and in the quantity that you need.
Plus, nobody will even know you’re growing anything unless they come in your house.
Why Grow Plants in a Jar?
I ran into the quantity problem last spring. I wanted to start a little container garden so I bought some pepper and tomato seeds. I had no idea how many of the seeds were going to grow because I picked them up at a discount store. So, I planted the entire pack. I knew better, but was overly enthusiastic.
I ended up with way more than I needed and spent a ton of money on soil just to have all but two of the plants die with the little old lady next door unintentionally killed them by trying to “help” me. Moral of the story – I didn’t do what was best for my situation.
I just wanted a couple of tomato and pepper plants. I should have gotten some clippings from a friend and rooted them myself. Lesson learned, and here we are, growing plants in a jar.
Another advantage is that you don’t have to mess with soil and starting seeds, and all the time-consuming steps that go into that process. These are pretty much just a matter of clipping them, setting the jar up properly, putting the clipping in, and sitting the jar in a window where it will get sun. Easy peasy. And you don’t need a lot of space to grow these herbs and plants.
Almost all of the things related to houseplant death are eliminated because most of them are caused by over or under watering, or fungus and bacteria that grow in the soil. All you need to do is refill the water as needed.
Finally, they take up very little space and are absolutely adorable and earthy sitting around your house or kitchen.
What Plants Grow in a Jar?
Well, the quick answer to that is – all of them. Or at least most of them. But what should you grow? That’s the real question. Because of balance issues, you need to keep the size of the adult plant in mind when making your choices. Basil, yes. Banana tree, no.
Keep in mind that there are many different sizes and shapes of jars. For that matter, who says it has to be a jar, per-se? Any clear glass container will work. The important part is that the roots are covered, the plants are supported, and the appropriate amount of sunlight is available.
If that means I’m growing my tomato plant in a gallon jar or even jug or bottle, then so what. A bottle is actually nice because it provides support for the stalk or stem.
Neat trick – put rocks or sand in the bottom of the jar or container to weight it down, thus allowing it to support a heavier or bulkier plant without tipping over.
Generically speaking, plants that are smaller grow best in mason jars, since that was the topic of the day, but there’s always room for making do with what you want.
How to Get Started Growing Plants in a Jar
This is the hardest part of growing hydroponic plants this way, and it’s not hard at all. If you’re crafty, you’ll find it to be fun. I like it because I often choose things to put in the jar that are decorative as well as functional. The idea is that the jar needs to be weighted and, in some instances, it doesn’t for the roots to have something to grow into for stability.
Mind you, this isn’t a necessary step for plant growth, but I do it for the reasons above, Start by choosing your medium – pebbles, beads, marbles (my particular favorite), colored glass beads, sand … whatever you fancy that’s waterproof, non-toxic, and has some weight to it. Put that in the jar, either in the very bottom or as much as half-full. Just make sure you leave room for the plant!
Add a piece of charcoal in – it doesn’t even have to be visible – just to help keep the water clear.
Next, mix some water with water-soluble diluted plant food/fertilizer. It’s best to go with about one-third what the bag recommends since there’s no soil to obstruct it. Obviously, shoot for something that’s clear. Unless you’d like a blue tint to your water, which may actually be pretty. I use an organic hydroponic mix.
Now all you need to do is add the cutting. Plants vary, but usually it’s best to go 8 inches or so back from the tip of the stem and cut it at an angle right above a joint. Trim off all but the top two sets of leaves – the plant needs these to photosynthesize. Put the bottom half or so of the plant in your jar and set it in a sunny windowsill. That’s it!
Don’t become impatient. It’ll take a while for the plant to grow a healthy root system – weeks. You should start seeing some little hairy sprouts starting from the tip of the stem in a week or so, though.
So, what plants are you going to grow? Here are some suggestions for herbs. You can investigate others that you may be interested in growing, too. This method works for decorative plants, too. It’s how I start all of my vines. There’s still a beautiful strand of morning glories that are flourishing at the house that I lived in last.
Plants that Grow Well in Jars
- Peppermint – grows best in partially sunny or shady spots
- Oregano – can grow large, so plan accordingly by using plenty of weight in the bottom
- Sage – doesn’t need a ton of water, keep it in moderate sunlight
- Basil – needs 6-8 hours sunlight
- Stevia – a great natural sweetener that grows well in sun or shade
- Thyme – great in a variety of dishes and has medicinal uses, too. Needs plenty of sunlight
- Rosemary – a medicinal herb as well as delicious. Grows well in sunlight or partial shade but better in full sun
- Lemon balm – used for relieving anxiety, aiding digestion, and improving sleep. It needs plenty of sunlight
- Chives – great in many dishes for a light, fresh, mild onion flavor. Needs lots of water and sun
Growing a plant in a jar of water is easy, neat, and pretty. They look great as decorative pieces on your dining room table if your kitchen is sunny, or anywhere else where light is available. Some plants need less light than others, so grow according to what you have the conditions for.
The handful of plants I’ve listed are just the tip of the iceberg – you can grow pretty much whatever you want if your jar is big enough!
Have you grown plants in water? If so, we’d love to hear about your results, and learn from any tips, so tell us about it in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
A Rose by any other name?
Host: Lynna… “A Preppers Path” Audio player provided!
In our busy world we often overlook what is right in front of us. In our quest to make things easier and better than, we forget that man still has yet to improve on Mother Nature. The rose for many has been relegated to the florist shop and perhaps something to be enjoyed in a garden or used as a symbolic gesture of love or friendship or maybe even I am sorry.
Learn about the plants in your area. I live in Northern California and every spring you see acres of yellow flowers. Most people ignore them, but a few know that you are looking at wild mustard. They are good to eat and you can make mustard from them.
Some people eat the flowering tops just before they open. They are cooked like broccoli. My wife was raised eating the leaves. The tender young leaves are used for cooked greens or in salads.
To Cook, wash the greens well and cook in salted water. Wild mustard can be somewhat sharp when raw and somewhat bitter when cooked. Blanching it or boiling it in water for a few minutes will remove the bitterness (the longer you boil the less bitter it’ll be). It can be used like spinach in any recipe.
Chickens and the rabbits love the dried stalks as a treat in the spring and summer.
Wild Mustard grows in most of the U.S. You will see it in the spring to early summer.
Mustard plants are most easily identified by their small and plentiful yellow flowers, growing in clusters atop a long stem. If you look carefully at this picture, you’ll see that each of the flowers has four small yellow petals, and they’re in a cluster
If you have any doubts as to the identity of the plants I recommend you review the video at the following link
A good rule in foraging for wild plants is to always find a local expert to learn from, there are lots of poisonous plants out there.
Straw bale gardening is becoming a pretty big deal in some circles for several reasons. It’s essentially a form of container gardening, except the “container” is the bale of straw.
For those of you who don’t know, bales of straw are held together with two pieces of twine wrapped around it endways.
The gist of it is that you condition the bales, that is, you ready it for planting, then you put the plants in it. The straw does a couple of things.
First, it acts as an organic fertilizer, and it also gives the roots of the plant something to anchor to as they grow.
9 Reasons to Keep in Mind
Now, why is this such a good idea for survival and homesteading? Great question. Let’s take a closer look.
You Can Do Straw Bale Gardening Anywhere
Just like most container gardening, you can make a straw bale garden anywhere. Even if you live somewhere that has extremes in temperature or poor soil, (or rocks!) this method makes things easier.
Also, because it’s breaking down and decomposing inside of the bale, there’s going to be a certain amount of heat so even if you have a little bit of cold weather, your roots aren’t going to freeze as quickly as they would if they were in dirt. It’s probably not much of a difference but it’s something.
Great Growing Medium
If you listen to fans of straw gardening, they’ll tell you the little hollow tubes of straw are designed by nature to wick up and hold moisture and the decomposing straw inside creates a rich environment to nourish the vegetable plants.
You can set it up anywhere that gets 6-8 hours of sun and since the bales heat up quicker than soil, it’s great for growing in colder climates with short growing seasons because the warmth stimulates early root growth.
This is an area where straw bale gardening falls a bit short compared to other types of container gardening such as 5-gallon buckets.
If you plant it on the ground, that’s pretty much where you’re going to have to leave it because once the bale starts to decompose, it will fall apart when you pick it up. If you put it on a pallet or plant it in a decorative wheelbarrow, you’ll be able to move it, but not if you just plant it as-is.
Compared to other types of container gardening, straw bale gardening is efficient because it maximized the use of space. Whereas you may only be able to put one or two plants in a pot, you can easily do three or four, depending on what you’re planting and the size of the bale, in a bale of straw. Plus, you can set it up anywhere that gets 6-8 hours of sun.
Another advantage of straw bale gardening is that you can configure it as a small, single-bale mini-garden or you can put bales together and make it similar to a raised bed. Since you have that option, you can stack it a couple of bales high if you have problems bending over so that you won’t have to risk falling or getting stuck.
If you live near a farm, chances are good that you’ll be able to get straw for less than $10/bale even if you live in an area where prices are crazy high. Here in Florida, a bale goes for $8 or so. I have friends in WV that pay $5/bale for it.
Hint: If the place has a few bales that are loose or started to break open, you may even get it for free, or next to nothing. If you handle them with kid gloves on your way home until you get them into position, they’ll be just fine. Even if you pay full price, that’s cheaper than the same amount of planting soil.
Have you ever built a raised bed? I have, and trust me: although I consider it well worth the effort because it’s beautiful, it was also a back-breaking, PITA project that cost quite a bit of money to get started, even doing things one the cheap.
There was the initial building, then we had to tote the bags of soil and mix it one bag at a time with the sand, which we had to dig and transfer, then of course there was the planting.
In comparison to bags of soil and digging sand, carrying a few bales of straw was nothing. Even a compact, heavy bale of straw is only going to weigh around 50 pounds, and most of them are half that.
Plus, you can roll it most of the way so that you don’t have to do much, if any, lifting after you get it out of the truck. And there is no framework to build. Oh, and it’s cheap.
Easy Preparation and Planting
You can’t just use a bale of straw as-is. You have to condition the bales for a couple of weeks in order to get the decomposition process started. To do this, it’s easiest to buy your straw when it’s most readily available – in the fall. Then let it sit all winter and come spring, it will be conditioned.
If you don’t have that kind of time and you just bought it so that you can grow something this season, you still need to let it condition for at least a couple of weeks. That’s okay though, because you need to start your plants and get them to seedlings anyway so just get your straw when you get your seeds.
Or, if you’re buying the plants, well, make two trips – one for the straw and another a couple of weeks later for the plants!
This is a critical step. You can’t skip it. Put your bales where you want them because after day 1, they’re going to be too heavy to move. Once they’re situated, soak them with water and do this once a day for the first three days.
On days 4, 5, and 6, you’ll still water, but you’ll also add one cup of ammonium sulfate (12-0-0) or half a cup of urea (46-0-0). These are nitrogen-rich fertilizers that will help the bales start to decompose and will also make a rich growing medium.
On days 7, 8, and 9, cut the fertilizer back to half of what you were using and continue to water the bale after adding the fertilizer.
On day 10, stop adding fertilizer, but keep watering so that it stays moist. On the 11th day, check the bale and if it feels warm to the touch – about the same temperature as your hand – then it’s ready to use. If it feels hotter than that, give it another day, and keep checking it until the temperature has dropped to where it should be. Then it’s ready to plant.
Hay vs. Straw
Though they’re both in bales and look extremely similar to an untrained eye, hay and straw are not the same.
Hay is cut grasses and grains made to feed horses, cows, and other livestock. It has seeds in it and will gladly start growing new grass and grain wherever you plant it. It may also have briars in it. Obviously, that’s a bad thing.
Straw, on the other hand, is a by-product of the wheat industry and doesn’t have seeds or briars. It’s made for mulching.
As you can see, straw-bale gardening is a great alternative to planting in the ground or even to using raised beds or containers. If you’re looking for a great growing medium that costs very little money, is convenient, and won’t take up much space, then this method is for you!
It’s an easy way to become self-sufficient and give up relying on bought foods that harm you and your family!
Have you planted in straw bales or have any advice to offer? If so, please share with us in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
We’ve talked at length about the most nutritious vegetables to grow, and about how to choose seeds and save them for the next year.
We’ve also talked about how to build a compost pile, and do container gardening, and just about every other gardening topic that you can think of, but what about what’s just plain easy?
Now you need a list of the easiest vegetables to grow, so this is for anybody trying to make a successful first attempt at gardening.
Potatoes are probably the easiest vegetable … err … tuber to grow because you basically plant them and forget them. I actually learned how to plant them in a 5-gallon bucket and haven’t looked back because it’s so easy.
Before we do that, though, let’s talk about the traditional way. Just let your potato grow eyes, then cut them off so that each section has an eye or two – that really is all that you need. Bury each start a foot or so apart and bury under about three inches of soil.
Once the plants reach a foot or so tall, pull dirt in from between the rows to make a mound around each plant. After that, just keep an eye out that they stay planted because they may work their way to the top of the soil.
To grow them in a bucket, just let the potato grow eyes, and plant the whole thing six inches or so down in the center of the bucket. You can cut it into eyes if you want, but you don’t have to.
In both circumstances, the potatoes are ready when the plant dies off.
Just about any herb is a piece of cake to grow. You simply plant the seeds a half-inch or so deep (I like to use the small seedling trays then separate them out into 6-inch pots when they get their second set of true leaves. As long as you keep the soil damp but not wet, they’ll grow marvelously.
Peppers are super easy to grow, too. They’re another where you just plant the seeds a half-inch deep, water them a couple of times a week, and watch them grow. They do like a sandier soil, and it needs to be loose enough for the roots to grow, but packed enough to hold the roots in.
As far as water, they like the soil damp but not soaked, so again, the sandier soil helps with the drainage. Still, peppers are super low maintenance.
Cool trick – pepper seeds love warm soil – 75 degrees or better. When I start mine, it still gets cool at night, so I water them in the mornings with warm (not hot!) water to hurry germination along.
Some people are intimidated by melons, but I don’t really know why. They’re great for a traditional garden, or you can raise them in raised beds of even containers. Just make a mound of dirt, plant three or four seeds an inch or so deep in the center of the mound, and watch them grow.
Cucumbers are another easy crop. They don’t mind sun and they’re happy with just a moderate amount of water. You don’t have to do any pruning or much babysitting at all. Grow them the same way that we just discussed growing melons, and they’ll be fine. The good thing about cucumbers is that you really can’t pick them too early. As soon as they look like cucumbers, whether they’re three inches long, or ten inches, (depending on variety because they don’t all get that big), they’re ready to eat.
My only suggestion with cukes is to keep an eye on them because they have a tendency to grow in the shady spots under the leaves and you’ll miss them if you don’t pay attention.
You seriously can’t get any easier than lettuce. It’s also an instant-gratification plant because you’ll see growth in just two or three days. Scatter your seeds over your soil (I use plastic Chinese takeout containers), rub your hands over them to sort of cover them in soil, give them some water, and you’ll have lettuce in no time. I like to mix my leaf lettuces, but that’s just me.
Carrots are also easy to grow; in fact, you can grow them in window boxes, and they come in a whole variety of cool colors that offer visual distinction and a variety of nutrients. Carrot seeds are tiny like lettuce seeds are and you plant them in much the same way, except you want to spread the seeds out so that you’re only planting four seeds every inch or so.
Water the soil well before you plant, then cover them with a quarter-inch of soil and lightly pack it down. Pat it may be a more accurate term. Carrot tip – if you want pretty, elongated carrots instead of stubby deformed ones, make sure your soil is a little sandy and loose-packed because if it’s too packed, you’re carrots will look weird.
Beans are easy to grow, too. Bush beans may be the easiest to grow because they don’t need stakes, but I kind of like the runners because they’re tied up and ready to pick. If you’re going for something easy, especially if you’re growing in a container, then go for the bush beans.
If you’re planting traditionally, plant the seeds one inch deep and two inches apart, then thin bush bean seedlings to four inches apart, and pole bean seedlings to six inches apart.
Onions are another easy-peasy veggie to grow. I like to grow green onions – the ones similar to scallions – for eating raw with a sandwich or in a salad, but I prefer Vidalias or red onions for everything else. I’m not a big fan of that strong, oniony flavor, but onions are an absolute necessity in almost all of my savory recipes in one way or another.
If you’re planting green onions, plant them exactly as you planted your carrots. To plant big onions from seeds, plant the seeds about an inch down and about six inches apart. If you’re growing in containers, they can be a little closer together than that, but picture the full-sized onion under the soil to get a good visual idea of how much space to leave.
They like a looser soil, too.
I used to love growing pumpkins just to see my son’s face when he was little. He used to love picking them for Halloween. Now just to be clear, there are many different kinds of pumpkins, so check that out before you plant. If you’re going to cook them into pies, for example, you don’t want to use jack-o-lantern-type pumpkins because they’re too stringy. That being said, any pumpkin can be a jack-o-lantern if you want it to be!
Still, the basic premise of growing pumpkins is pretty much identical to growing melons and cucumbers, so make last Halloween the final one where you had to buy a pumpkin.
I want you to succeed. I want you to enjoy growing your own food as much as I do, and I’ve tried to include a variety of different foods to help get you started. In that same vein, I’ve written a book called the Forgotten Lessons of Yesterday, which is a compilation of skills that were passed down to me.
It details everything from canning your own foods to making cheese, wine, and beer, to butchering meat, and I wrote it because I think that everybody should have the skills within it. We’re giving away some pretty cool bonuses with it too, so check it out!
Now, as usual, if you have anything that you’d like to add to this article – tips for beginners, questions, or just other veggies or fruits that are easy to grow – share them with us in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Here at SVP, we talk quite a bit about self-sufficiency, but if you’re living in a tiny apartment and making very little money, or even if you’re a CEO at a big company and are stuck living in the city because of your job, it can seem like an impossible task.
The thing is – self-sufficiency is a frame of mind. It’s right there. All you have to do is reach for it. That’s the first step to regaining self-sufficiency.
There are two types of people: those who are happy letting somebody else run the show and those who like to run the show. That’s a bit simplistic, but it’s close enough. If you’re reading this, you’re probably the latter, and you won’t have any problem putting in the effort to make yourself self-sufficient.
We’ve talked about how to become self-sufficient in broad strokes but we’ve never really approached it from the beginning. We’ve never discussed how to change your state of mind from dependent to independent, and that’s really the most important step of all.
Most people have this hugely vague idea of what it means to be self-sufficient. You probably picture the guy on the Alaska show that lives in a hut, kills his own food with a homemade bow and arrow, and camps under boughs of pine trees when he’s stuck away from his hut. Yeah, that’s pretty much extreme self-sufficiency.
Relax – swimming naked across a semi-frozen river in 5 degree weather didn’t even come close to making this list! Settle in, pick a few steps that sound good, and get started. Anything you do will put you closer to being self-sufficient than you are now.
Learn to Grow Food
There’s more than one reason to grow plants. Sure, you’re going to get delicious herbs, fruits, or vegetables out of the process, but that’s not the biggest benefit – knowledge is. That’s going to be a theme throughout this article, because knowledge is what will separate those of us who can from those who can’t. We’ll know what to do and they won’t.
So, start a few plants. You don’t have to go whole-hog right off the bat. If you don’t have much space, grow some herbs and maybe a few container plants, then move up to trying some upside-down plants after you get the hang of that. You’ll learn how to grow your own food and even if you can’t do it on a large scale now, you’ll know how to if you ever need to, and can grow the skill as your situation changes.
Learn how to Save Seeds
After you’ve got your plants growing, learn how to collect and preserve the seeds. After all, they’re there and there’s no need to waste them. It’s important for you to start with heirloom seeds because they’re the only ones that grow true every year. We’ve written about that here.
Saving your seeds now serves two purposes. First, in the short-term and assuming no SHTF scenarios occur, you won’t have to pay for seeds next season. Second, you’ll know the process, which will be critical if a SHTF situation ever arises. And if it happens between now and next year, you have seeds!
Learn to Cook and Eat at Home
Big deal, here. You may be a candidate for the Next Food Network Star, or you may have trouble boiling water, but there’s always more you can learn, especially about using good equipment. I admit to being partial to one piece in particular – a Dutch oven. That’s because I can use it at home to make an amazing roast, or I can take it camping and make biscuits, stew, or seriously just about anything else, baked, stewed, or brewed.
That’s just one suggestion, though. The idea is to get used to cooking your own food, for two main purposes. First and foremost, if you don’t know how to cook, and how to tell if your food is spoiled, you’re never going to be self-sufficient, and if SHTF, you may actually not survive. Starvation or food poisoning will get you.
Second, cooking at home is more nutritious, much less expensive, and super satisfactory, especially if you’re cooking for yourself.
Learn to Preserve Food
You don’t have to have a full-blown garden to make a big batch of spaghetti sauce, salsa, or soup and can what you have left over. As a matter of fact, you’re serving a few purposes by doing that – you’re stockpiling food in case of emergency, you’re learning how to preserve food, and you’re stocking your pantry in case you’re lazy one night and want something homemade but don’t want to invest the time in it.
Learn how to dehydrate, too. After all, who doesn’t love jerky? It’s the perfect snack just because it’s delicious, but also if you want something you can take with you camping, or to have a quick protein boost after a workout or to get you through that afternoon slump.
Learn how to Compost
You can buy small compost buckets that fit right under your kitchen sink, and let me tell you, it’s great for your plants! You don’t have to have a huge pile in a ginormous back yard to do this, and if something happens, you’ll already know how to do it and will be able to transfer the skill to a larger pile.
This is huge step toward getting into the self-sufficient state of mind. How much food do you think you throw away in a month? Or how many half-full sodas or juices do you pick up around the house? Stop it. You’re throwing valuable money down the drain. Estimate how much you’re going to use and don’t buy extra, and don’t impulse-buy. Eat before you go to the store so that you aren’t tempted to buy everything that looks good and stick to your list.
This is a simple thing to do and can be done even with a pail on the balcony. Even if you’re only collecting enough to water your plants, it’s getting you in that frugal, thinking-outside-the-box way that will lead to self-sufficiency.
Learn to Make Your Own Cheese, Butter, or Ice Cream
Have you ever had homemade ice cream? If not, you’ve been deprived of a glorious treat. We used to make it when I was a kid. Mom would make it, then the kids would take turns cranking the bucket. And oh-my-goodness was it amazing! You can also make butter in a jar, and you can make several different kinds of cheeses in no time at all. And you’ll have the skill if you need it.
Use a Clothesline
This is probably the easiest step to take toward self-sufficiency. I have to admit that I’m not a fan of line-dried towels, but there’s no reason that you can’t hang your jeans and t-shirts to dry. And you’ll save quite a bit on your electric bill, too. After all, even a few bucks saved is a few bucks, right?
This doesn’t mean be cheap, but it does mean to watch your pennies. Check sales catalogues, use coupons if you’d like, and don’t spend money that you don’t have. It’s always good to have a rainy-day fund rather than a huge barrel of debt. Also, fix things instead of throwing them away if you can, and cut off your old jeans for cute shorts this year instead of blowing money you may not have on new ones. There are a million ways to save money; again, it’s all about building the mindset.
Reuse and repurpose everything that you can. Turn that old sweater into a pillow case. Use the cottage cheese tubs as planters. Look at something and imagine what you can turn it into. That’s a self-sufficient way to think.
Get out of Debt, then Avoid It
You’ll never be self-sufficient if you’re in debt to your eyeballs. Develop a plan to get out of debt as much as possible, then live within your means to stay that way.
Make Your own Soap and Hygiene Products
This is a fun project that I’ve written about elsewhere. The upsides to making your own soap, toothpaste, lotions, and deodorant is that you know what’s in your products, you know how to make them if you ever have to, and you aren’t dependent on the store for it.
Learn CPR and First Aid
There are many classes taught, but the Red Cross offers the most common classes. You’ll learn how to carry people, make splints, treat wounds, and perform resuscitation. This is never a bad skill to have, survival or not. Heck, there could be a car wreck or a kid in the neighborhood could wreck his skateboard. You’ll know how to handle the scene.
Nothing says dependent like, well, dependency. Smoking and chewing are the two biggest ones that pop into my head, but there’s a huge opioid crisis in our country right now, too. Kick what habits you can on your own, and get help for the others. If SHTF, or if you ever want to be able to live a completely self-sufficient life, you’re never going to be able to do it if you have an addiction.
And the final step on the list – get healthy. Eat right, exercise, meditate. A healthy mind and body are required to be self-sufficient. By treating your body well, you’ll be better prepared to survive in an emergency, and you may also be able to get off of many of the medications that you’re currently on, such as blood pressure meds, insulin, or even pain meds. If you lose weight and have strong muscles, many of your problems will go away.
So, what’s the take-away? Self-sufficiency is, first and foremost, a state of mind. Once you learn how to think like somebody used to solving their own problems, you’ll become a person who can solve your own problems. It’s as easy (or as difficult) as that.
If you have any other tips to becoming self-sufficient, please share them with us in the comments section below. Also, check out my book, Forgotten Lessons of Yesterday, to get more information and instructions on many of the skills that we’ve just discussed as well as recipes.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Give your garden some love this seasons and it will give you back healthy, delicious crops. I can hardly believe that we are already at this point of the year. July is a great month for you summer garden and the question is: what to do first?
The garden is in full bloom, but in the same time the sun is burning, the rains are heavy and the weeds are growing.
July is a busy month so, with this thing in mind, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered five article on this topic. Of course, if you have tips to add, feel free to comment in the section below.
1. How to Keep the Hot Sun from Harming Your Plants
“Sometimes you need to find a balance between sun and shade, depending on the conditions in your backyard, as well as the crops that you are growing. However, even if you have plants that require full sun, they may be getting too much light, particularly in the summer months when the weather is very hot.
This harmful light can bleach out leaves, and disrupt the growing process, even in plants that supposedly thrive in very hot weather. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do to prevent this from occurring.”
Read more on Be Self Sufficient.
2. 35 Cheap Organic Fertilizers to Power Up Your Garden
“Home gardeners spend millions each year on fertilizer for their gardens and houseplants. WOW! While many scientists agree that chemical fertilizer is harming the environment, organic fertilizer is draining our wallets. The good news is that you can easily make your own fertilizers from organic waste material and other things that you have around the house.
3 Reasons You Need Organic Fertilizer
Your plants need organic fertilizer because:
Most soil does not provide the essential nutrients that are required for the best plant growth and production.
Even if you are super lucky to have rich loamy soil that all of us crave, as your plants grow they absorb those nutrients and leave the soil less fertile.
All of those beautiful flowers, fruits, and veggies that you grew last year took the nutrients that were in the soil. This year, your garden needs another boost of nutrients for this year’s plants.”
Read more on The Grown Network.
3. Shade Loving Plants For Your Survival Garden
“Most of you, by now, have planted your survival garden. You are now counting down the days until you can harvest these vegetables that you have been caring for all season long. Some of you, however, may have left the partially shaded areas of the garden empty thinking that your vegetables may not have successful growth in those areas.
The truth is, there are vegetables that can and will grow in these partially shaded areas. All plants, however, do require some sunlight throughout the day so be sure that these shaded areas also receive a little sunlight as well.”
Read more on Survival Life.
4. The Easiest Way to Compost Garden Waste
5. Too Much Rain in the Garden – Managing Wet Dirt and Waterlogged Plants
“Rainwater is best for watering your garden, but too much rain is hard on your soil and your plants. I was watching the morning news the other day, and the weatherman said we had rain 15 days out of the last 16. It rained again that day.
My garden is soggy, but most of it is still in pretty good shape. In this article, we’ll talk about wet garden solutions, including steps you can take to prevent damage, and what to do after heavy rains hit. Wet weather might slow plants down, but it doesn’t have to end your gardening season.”
Read more on Common Sense Home.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for survivopedia.
If your goal is food independence, then you need to learn about permaculture. But before we talk about why you should incorporate it into your plans, let’s talk about what it actually is. In a nutshell, permaculture is an ecosystem that is completely sustainable. It doesn’t require anything external to maintain its growth cycle or to survive.
Sounds good, right? Of course it does, and it’s not that complicated to start. Of course, you CAN get fancy and invest a lot of money into it, but you really don’t need to. The idea is to create an environment in which you’re working with nature instead of against it. In other words, don’t look at each part of your system individually; look at how they work in relation to one another.
Permacultures create their own energy and dispose of their own wastes. They’re balanced and sustainable, and you may even be using at least a partial permaculture now. Though it’s most often associated with food, the philosophy will work in every aspect of your life.
And if your goal is total independence and sustainability, then that’s what you want to do.
Difference Between Organic Gardens and Permaculture
Organic gardens are simply that – gardens. They aren’t sustainable and they don’t look beyond the growth of plants in the present. Permaculture is the creation of an actual environment. Your main focus is to create an environment where the water and nutrient loop is closed by using all forms of waste, and reducing or eliminating dependence on outside sources.
Organic gardens, strictly speaking, are traditional gardens that use chemical-free soils and seeds. They don’t work to improve the soil or build a cooperative ecosystem where everything works well together. Organic gardens have a completely different focus than permaculture.
So, organic gardens have higher yields but less variety, the products ripen all at once and it’s mostly up to you to control pests and do the rest of the work.
In a permaculture environment (which may not necessarily meet the requirements to be organic based on using local sources), you have a wider range of plants and products that provide food, fuel, recreation, and habitat. It nurtures your home by deflecting wind, providing shade, and filtering air.
Everything is created by working with nature, so the shape of your garden is determined by water catchment. All sources are local and reusable and you’re sharing the workload and pest control with insects and local animals.
What is the Purpose of Permaculture?
In a nutshell, the purpose of permaculture is to create a sustainable, self-sufficient, cooperative environment.
There are several different points that are critical to permaculture. First, preservation of the soil is paramount. You preserve it by keeping it covered so that the rain doesn’t wash away the nutrients and to keep harmful UV rays from destroying the natural living things in the soil.
Next, everything works hand-in-hand to form a natural habitat. It utilizes local plants or ones that are well-suited to your geography.
Also, the ultimate goal isn’t to create a food source; the goal is to provide a sustainable environment that meets more than just that one need. You plant hardy plants that aren’t fragile, needy, or prone to disease. Nothing but the tough cookies that can cut it in nature! Of course, the disease resistance is the most important part there.
Permaculture in Practice
A common technique with permaculture is plant stacking. That means that you plan your spaces so that you’re growing plants that play well together in a stacked, even vertical, manner.
You may consider growing squash together with okra and lettuce. First, you’d plant the okra, which grows up and has few lower leaves. Then you’d plant the squash so that it has the ground space to sprawl. Then you may want to sprinkle lettuce seeds in amongst them, because lettuce loves the shade. You’re growing three compatible plants in the same space that you would typically grow one.
You may have heard of another combination, if you’re a long-time gardener: the three sisters method that the Native Americans supposedly taught to the English. You grow corn, squash, and pole beans together. This combination really is successful, if you have enough space to grow corn. Either way, you get the idea.
Function is always a top priority. Instead of growing a floral hedge, a permaculture choice would be to grow blackberry or raspberry bushes. Nobody wants to walk through those, though people will most certainly steal them. Still, it’s a point.
Terracing, or making steps, is another method that you may use in your permaculture system to help maintain and build the soil and hold water.
You may even take it a step further and factor in trees in your environment as well as shrubs and grasses because all of those work to protect the soil.
Still, this is just another step in the right direction. The next step, once you have the soil protected and grasses and plants growing, would be to add a source of fertilization. Animals or fish eat the vegetation and recycle it into fertilizer.
Next, to take it a step further, you add a sustainable source of water by building catch basins, micro dams, and other methods of catching and storing water. Now look what you have – a sustainable environment.
If you follow permaculture in its purest form, you won’t be planting; instead, your natural plants will be allowed to go to seed and regrow just as it would in nature. Of course, you may not opt to do that, especially considering you need an organized source of food to live.
What if You Don’t Have Space?
Of course, we’re not all so lucky as to have a space big enough to make his happen, and full-scale permaculture does require space. It was actually originally intended as a form or terraforming to create an environment that would sustainably feed the inhabitants who were malnourished, and it was a raging success.
That’s not to say that you can run a modified version of permaculture. For instance, even if you only have a tiny backyard, you can still do a mini-plan. Use the dark and light areas, as well as the wet and dry ones if those exist. Plant plants that prefer each of those environments.
You can also use the stacked gardening techniques, and build micro dams or natural irrigation systems to catch water. You can mulch and focus on building your soil instead of just throwing fertilizer on it year after year. Just as with gardening, it doesn’t really matter how much space you have; you can utilize permaculture to at least a small degree.
And I’d say that a small amount of independence is better than none, right?
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Gardening and self-sufficiency go hand-in-hand and summer is my favorite time of the year when it comes gardening. From watering or dealing with the summer heat, to pest control and weeds, there are many things to do in the garden during the summer if you want to develop healthy, productive crops.
With these things in mind, for this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered five articles on this topic. If you have other gardening tips for summer, share them in the comment section below.
1. Start Gardening Differently
“Preparedness and self-sufficiency usually turns to food production at some point. Whether we’re old hats or just getting started, there are some set standards that tend to take place in the veggie garden. Sometimes they’re very well deserved. Sometimes, though, changing things up can make a difference in our ability to produce foods.
Small scale or large, when it comes to the veggies, doing things differently can buy us the time and space to get started or expand our harvests.”
Read more on The Prepper Journal.
- Watering The Garden: How To Avoid The 3 Most Common Mistakes
“When it comes to watering the garden, how, when and how much you water makes all the difference! Although watering vegetable plants can seem like a trivial task, there really is a science behind proper watering techniques.
Bad watering habits can damage plants and reduce harvest levels dramatically.
Of course, watering needs vary based on location and the specific plants grown. But no matter where you live, there are a few simple rules of watering that can really help power a successful garden.
Here are 3 of the most common mistakes folks make when watering the garden, and how to avoid them!”
Read more on Old World Garden Farms.
- Learn How To Water Your Garden Wisely
“As a gardener, you will learn the hard way that suitable irrigation is crucial for developing productive crops. As summer sets in it is important to water your garden regularly to keep you plants healthy. More importantly, you need to learn how to conserve water and make the best decision for your garden.
Keeping your plants well irrigated aids in healthy foliage growth and the production of large yields. During heat waves, it is crucial to water your garden following a precise schedule.”
Read more on Prepper’s Will.
- 5 Everyday Items You Can Use To Fertilize Your Garden
Your options for garden fertilizer are either Miracle Grow Plant Food (whose Amazon page includes a legal disclaimer that their phosphorus-containing fertilizer may cause harmful water runoff), or organic fertilizer. Easy choice.
If you’re reading this, then organic is probably very important to you. You aren’t okay with a little pesticide on your salad or using spinach picked from farms in China with questionable regulations. Instead, you want clean produce.
Read more on Urban Survival Site.
- The Ultimate Guide To Natural Pest Control In The Garden
“Are you looking for natural pest control options for the garden? Like many home gardeners, I started growing my own fruits and vegetables in part to avoid the toxic chemicals used on most commercial produce. After all, why put in all that time and effort to eat poison? It didn’t make sense to me.
Just walking down the chemical isle in the hardware store, i.e., the “garden helper area” or whatever they call it, gives me a headache. Sometimes I purchase certain organic pest control products, but often you can get rid of garden pests with what you have on hand.”
Read more on Common Sense Homesteading.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.
Have you ever wondered what would you do if one day you won’t find food in the stores? Growing your own food is a topic that never gets old and I’m sure you are always looking for new tips and tricks to make your survival garden better and better.
I love growing my own food. Spending time in the garden every day, nurturing my plants is a relaxing and rewarding activity, especially when, at the end of the day, I leave the magic place with a basket full of delicious veggies and herbs. Summer is almost here which means more time spent in the garden, new plants, and also more responsibilities for your garden.
With this thing in mind, for this week’s Prep Blog Review, I’ve gathered four articles about summer plants every prepper should grow.
If you have other ideas or suggestions, please share them in the comment section below.
1. 31 Summer Plants For Preppers
“As a prepper, planning a garden is so much more effort than just choosing pretty flowers or picking out neat vegetable varieties. You want to choose plants that offer a lot of benefits for the amount of space they take up. The following plants are great summer plants for preppers because they offer large harvests, medicinal benefits, and/or a use in a permaculture garden.
Tomatoes are a huge part of the modern diet. Whether it’s in salads, spaghetti sauce, ketchup, or salsa chances are your family eats them. They’re a great plant for beginners and easy to preserve.
For growers in exceptionally cold climates consider cherry tomato varieties which tolerate pots well and can be brought indoors whenever temperatures dip too low.”
Read more on Survival Sullivan.
2. It’s June – What Can I Still Plant In My Garden?
“Even the most avid gardeners have a bad year! Any number of things can keep you out of the garden in April and May, weather problems, work commitments, family problems . . . we’ve all been there.
But don’t give up on your garden just yet. There are still plenty of yummy veggies you can get planted now (in mid to late June) and get a nice harvest before the summer ends.
Let’s talk about what you can still get planted now and also talk about a few things that you can wait on and plant in about 5 or 6 weeks (Around August 1st for most of us).”
Read more on Our Stoney Acres.
3. 10 Healthy Veggies You Can Grow In Water
“Store-bought or homegrown, you can reuse those veggie scraps to grow an endless supply of food starting with just a container of water at home.
DIY water gardens are ideal for anyone who wants to minimize waste, grow organic, save money, and make fewer trips to the market. Homesteaders and city dwellers–this one’s for you.
What you’re going to need:
Mason Jar or shallow bowl
Toothpicks/bamboo skewers, depending on the vegetable”
Read more on Urban Survival Site.
4. How To Grow The Perfect Peppers
“Every survival garden should have peppers! There are so many different things you can do with them – anything from canning to eating them raw in a beautiful salad. Even if you’ve got a “black thumb,” Peppers are an incredibly easy and versatile crop to grow!
Peppers remain a top crop among gardeners across the globe! But knowing what pepper to grow might be a bit of a challenge.
Let’s go over some basic information on various peppers to help you decide what varieties will work best for you!”
Read more on Survival Life.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.
Radiation cancer treatments, nuclear bombs, nuclear power plants, and nuclear waste dump exposure seem very different, but they all emit ionizing radiation. No matter where radioactive particles come from, they will still do predictable damage to the cells, tissues, and organs of your body.
Today, there is a growing field of interest in which foods can be used to shield cells from the effects of nuclear radiation and perhaps even speed up healing after exposure.
Here are ten foods that you should consider eating more of, and growing to reduce the damaging effect of radiation.
Your thyroid is one of the most sensitive organs when it comes to radiation poisoning. This occurs mainly because radioactive iodine is taken up very quickly by the thyroid. You can get potassium iodine tablets for use after exposure to ionizing radiation, but make sure you get plenty of iodine in your diet too.
Surprisingly, potato skins carry high amounts of iodine, and potatoes are also rich in potassium and other important key nutrients for overall good health.
Potatoes are one of the easiest crops to grow. You can use conventional methods, or grow them in containers. For example, a 4′ x 4′ square area will yield over 100 pounds of potatoes if you continue to pile soil up as the potato roots develop. Read our article about how to make a potato pot to find out more about growing this vegetable.
You can grow potatoes in everything from trash cans to old washing machine tubs as long as you have enough soil and good drainage. Make sure you have access hatches in the container so that you can harvest potatoes once they are big enough and ready to consume.
Strawberries are also a good source of iodine and carry other important nutrients, and they are very easy to grow in hanging baskets, on a windowsill, or out in the garden. When choosing strawberry plants, there are three kinds you can buy:
- everbearing strawberries – as long as the temperature and conditions are right, these plants will produce several crops of berries per season.
- June bearing strawberries – as their name implies, these plants produce only one crop; usually in June. The berries are usually bigger and you will get more at one time.
- Wild strawberries – these are usually small berries that are produced just once a year. They are truly second to none in terms of sweetness, however they are much smaller than the June and ever bearing berries.
Cranberries have the added benefit of being a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which can help protect cells from ionizing radiation. Cranberries are also rich in other antioxidants and phytonutrients that are known to help fight cancer.
Contrary to popular belief, cranberries can grow well in raised beds, if the soil is acidic, and that the plants get enough water. If your goal is growing cranberries in a container, try the raised beds first so that you know more about what to expect in terms of how this plant will grow in your geographic location. Once you know the basics, transfer what you learned to other growing methods.
When combined with other beans, navy beans provide almost all the different amino acids and proteins required for good nutrition.
Navy beans also carry a good amount of iron, which your body needs to make blood. This is especially important if you do not have read meat available or other sources of easily digestible iron.
As with other legumes, beans are important for any garden because they help fix nitrogen into the soil. If you are interested in a sustainable garden geared towards nuclear survival, navy beans should be at the top of your list. Here’s a Survivopedia article on how to grow beans for survival.
When choosing seeds for Navy Beans, buy only heirloom, non-hybrid, non-gmo, certified organic seeds. Beans tend to grow quickly, which makes them an ideal test plant for long term survival needs. If you can propagate navy beans from one generation to the next, you will be a long way towards ensuring that you can keep viable seed supplies going without having to buy them.
For decades, a great deal has been written on whether or not Vitamin C can fight cancer.
Newer research on people undergoing radiation therapy for cancer suggests that Vitamin C actually shields healthy cells from the toxic effects of radiation.
This finding was used to treat workers at Fukushima before they went into the damaged reactor as well as during their active working time.
Follow up research indicated that workers at the plant who received intravenous Vitamin C had less DNA mutation. In addition, those who were not treated beforehand, but received therapy after showing evidence of DNA mutation experienced a reduction in mutation.
Even though many foods contain Vitamin C, oranges are the best source. A single orange each day provides approximately 90% of the recommended daily allowance. Since oranges are rich in many other nutrients, it is also an ideal prepper food.
Oranges can be grown indoors and in containers in just about any climate. Just make sure they are kept warm enough and receive plenty of sunlight. If you must purchase hybrid trees, learn how to propagate from cuttings so that you can keep them going for as long as possible.
If you are hesitant about growing oranges, red peppers are an excellent alternative for your nuclear prepping garden.
Red bell peppers also contain a good amount of Vitamin C, as well as Vitamin E. Aside from grape seeds, they also offer higher amounts of quercetin than many other plants, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent and fight cancer. Newer research also suggests that the ability to bind free radicals is key to reducing the effect of ionizing radiation within cells. Therefore, when you consume peppers, you are getting at least three important cellular shields.
Here’s a comprehensive Survivopedia article about growing peppers.
If you already know how to grow green bell peppers, just let them ripen a bit longer and you will have red peppers. They can be grown outdoors, in containers, and also in hydroponic setups. Since peppers are also easily propagated from seeds, you can also practice pollination methods and creating good seed stores from one generation to the next.
When growing peppers, do not forget that the germination and flowering stage can be tricky. Peppers are notorious for germinating slowly, especially if the soil temperature is too warm or too cold. You will also have to pay careful attention to soil temperature and moisture when the plants flower. If it is too hot or cold, the plant will drop the flowers even if they have been pollinated.
While many people focus on Vitamin C as a cancer fighting and radiation shielding agent, Vitamin E is also very important. Even though researchers say that Vitamin E must be paired with Pentoxifylline (a drug used to make blood more liquid in order to reduce muscle cramps) for maximum effect, it may still be useful by itself.
Many other vitamins can be consumed at higher than the recommended daily allowance, Vitamin E can be toxic at higher levels. That being said, making sure you get the recommended amount each day can still give your cells an important cellular shield against radiation.
It will only take ¼ cup of shelled seeds to meet your daily needs. In addition, sunflower seeds are also packed with other antioxidants and important nutrients that will improve overall health. Aside from being a good food to have on hand for nuclear prepping, sunflower seeds also yield more oil than other plant sources. If you are looking for a safe alternative to other vegetable oils, learning how to make sunflower oil will be of use to you.
If you are looking for the easiest, fastest growing plant for Vitamin E, sunflowers will be your best option. There are many different varieties of sunflowers, as well as many sizes.
Even though these plants grow best outdoors and in the ground, you can try large, deep containers. Sunflower plants can also act as a good support for climbing bean plants as long as their roots still have plenty of room to spread out.
These huge, furry-leafed plants can be very hearty; however they will droop quickly without sufficient water. Make sure they also have plenty of sunlight and good air flow around the plants.
Pumpkin seeds are a key source of Vitamin E, while the pumpkins are an excellent source of B vitamins, A, C, and Potassium. If you also tend to favor fried squash flowers, these easy to grow plants will provide you with a tasty, nutritious treat at every stage of growth.
Pumpkins grow quite well in containers, if the vines have plenty of room to spread, and that they will not be disturbed. If a vine has a pumpkin on it, do not touch it. Even moving the vine a few inches will cause the pumpkin to die off. You can also try growing pumpkins in hanging baskets if you don’t have enough ground space for the vines.
This delicious, spicy root is a member of the ginger family, and has an excellent reputation for fighting cancer, and as an anti-inflammatory. It also has several nutrients in it that shield cells from ionizing radiation, while others can reverse DNA damage caused by radiation and promote cell healing.
Overall, if there is one plant that you should learn how to grow and propagate, turmeric is it. This plant is an excellent herb for treating and preventing illness created by nuclear exposure as well as other problems.
You will find that turmeric is not that hard to grow. If you choose to grow it in a shallow container, make sure that there is good drainage. Since the roots tend to grow sideways instead of down, they favor a wider pot as opposed to a deeper one. Save roots with rhizomes on them so that you can propagate them.
As useful as turmeric is, it is not easily absorbed by the body. You will also need to grow black pepper, as this herb contains a molecule, Piperine, which helps reduce the speed at which turmeric is flushed from the body. Piperine can also increase the absorption of other herbal remedies and nutrients. You can purchase black pepper seeds, however it will take some time and practice to grow this plant.
Today, just about everyone interested in a healthy diet option has heard of spirulina. Aside from being filled with important nutrients, it has molecules in it that can bind to heavy metals and other toxins. Even if you are exposed to radioactive dust or other debris, spirulina can help your body get rid of it faster.
All you need to grow spirulina is some alkaline water, a good source of light and some dry spirulina to get the colonies started. While growing algae is one of the easiest things, there are many different kinds, and some are poisonous or may produce toxins. Make sure that you can tell the difference between spirulina and other algaes that may decide to colonize your growing area.
Plenty of algae will grow on fish waste; just be sure to choose fish that are safe for human consumption. Many fish available to hobbyists can carry dangerous diseases including tuberculosis and intestinal parasites. It is best to purchase fish from a trusted source and then do all you can to make sure they remain free of infections that can easily harbor in the algae beds as much as within the fish.
If you love chocolate, you will be happy to hear that it contains reservatrol, a molecule that has a proven track record for preventing radiation damage to chromosomes. Much of the chocolate available to consumers has little, if any nutritional value, so you will have to grow cocoa plants and then harvest the cocoa beans.
As long as you can provide humid, tropical conditions, these plants will grow well enough in an indoor setting. If you are new to gardening, practice with easier plants until you are a master of controlling temperature, humidity, and air flow in just about any setting.
As we learn more about the effects of ionizing radiation in cancer therapies, many foods are proving to shield healthy cells from damage. You can use this information to help select plants that will be part of your prepper garden as well when choosing the best foods for staving off radiation sickness.
No matter whether the radiation comes from a power plant nearby or a nuclear bomb, you can survive the nuclear threat and thrive.
This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.
2. Eucalyptus oil
3. Billy goat plum/Kakadu plum
4. Desert mushrooms
5. Emu bush
Wild Edibles Wednesday: Broadleaf Plantain Peek out your window right now. Look at the grass or undisturbed areas in your yard. You will see the broadleaf plantain. Its everywhere. Don’t confuse this wild edible for the banana looking plantain of South American cookery. This wild edible is actually much more effective a plant. This article …
When those in the survivalist and prepping community talk about living off the land, the focus tends to be on hunting, with maybe a little fishing thrown in for variety. Being a carnivore myself, I happen to like that idea, but in reality, it’s not a complete picture. Our ancestors, if you go back far enough, lived as hunter/gatherers. We tend to focus on the hunting part, without talking much about the gathering part.
Hunting is all about animal protein, while gathering is about plants. Whether it’s nuts, berries, fruit, leaves or roots, plant life helps to sustain us as much as animal protein does. In fact, those who claim expertise in nutrition tell us that it should be the larger part of our diet.
Yet few of us know enough to gather plants for food, should we find ourselves in a survival situation. That’s dangerous, as it denies us a major source of the nutrition that we’ll so desperately need. Not only that, but last I checked, a plant can’t run away from us when we’re hunting it. So, gathering should actually be an easier way to find food.
For this reason, a good guide to edible plants should be a part of everyone’s bug-out bag and survival kit. If you can find a pocket version, that would be even better. Just make sure that it deals with the plants in the region where you live and not something that’s on the other side of the country.
But what if you don’t have that guide? Or what if you’re having trouble finding the plants listed in it? Can you still eat the plants you find, or is that something to be avoided at all costs?
The answer to these questions is yes … and no. For every plant that we eat, somebody, sometime, had to be the first to try it. They either found it to be tasty and nutritious, or they found it to be poisonous. In the latter case, hopefully all that happened was an upset stomach. But I’m sure that in some cases, people died with their bellies full of the wrong plants, simply because they didn’t know that they were poisonous.
There is an accepted process for determining if plants are safe to eat. Called the “universal edibility test,” this process reduces the risk of trying new plants as food. If you are caught in a situation where it could be necessary to eat plants that you are unaccustomed to, knowing this process could save your life.
What to Avoid
When we’re talking about edible plants, we need to understand that any plant is composed of various parts. Some might be edible, while others are not. There are even cases where one part of the plant is commonly eaten, while another is deadly poisonous.
These plant parts are:
- Fruit and seeds (including nuts and berries).
When you’re testing any plant’s edibility, only check one part of the plant at a time. Don’t assume that just because one part is edible, others are, as well. You’ll have to perform the same test for each part, before you can declare it edible.
But to start, let’s look at what sorts of plants to avoid. Plants that have the following characteristics are probably not safe to eat, no matter how much they look like they’d be an ideal addition to your salad:
Not Safe to Eat
- Mushrooms that you are not familiar with.
- Any plants growing near contaminated water.
- Plants with shiny leaves.
- Plants with groups of three leaves.
- Plants that create a stinging sensation when touched.
- Plants with a foul odor.
- Any plants that have a bitter or soapy flavor.
- Plants that have a milky sap in the stems.
- Beans, bulbs or seeds which grow inside pods. While some of these are safe to eat, proportionally there’s a greater chance of danger from them.
- Any grains with pink, purplish or black spurs.
Doing the Universal Edibility Test
Once you’ve eliminated the plants listed above, it’s time to talk about what you can try to eat. Pick plants that are in abundance to run this test. If you’re going to put yourself through the trouble to do it, and take the risk associated with the test, you might as well get the most bang for your buck. Testing a plant that is in abundance will provide you with more potential food to eat.
If you have multiple members in your group, only one should try a particular plant or plant part. Different people can try different plants or plant parts, but there’s nothing to be gained by having two or three people run the same test, but there could be much to be lost.
Avoid waiting until you are starving to run your test. Properly run, the test takes a few days. If you wait, you’ll be tempted to cut corners, increasing your risk. You also want to fast for eight hours before starting the test, drinking only water. This will ensure that you are getting the results of the plant you are testing, not any other food. Likewise, during the test, don’t eat or drink anything but water.
For the test itself, do the following steps in order:
Prepare the plant or plant part in the manner you expect to eat it. Cooking can eliminate chemical compounds and pathogens which otherwise would be dangerous to eat.
- Cool a portion and touch the cooked, but cooled portion briefly, checking for any burning sensation. Wait a few minutes to see if the area that had been in contact with the plant becomes red or gets a rash.
- Hold a small amount of the cooked, cooled plant part to the skin, allowing it to sit there for 15 minutes. Once again, look for burning, redness, itching, rash or blistering.
- Touch a small amount of the plant to the outer part of your lip, checking for any burning or itching. Wait 15 minutes for any reaction.
- Take a small portion (about ½ tsp.) and hold it on the tongue, without chewing, for 15 minutes; then spit it out. Once again, check for any symptoms, such as burning or itching.
- Chew a bite of the plant thoroughly for 15 minutes, without swallowing.
- If, at the end of 15 minutes, there are no symptoms from contact with the plant, swallow it. Wait eight hours for any reaction. The main symptoms you are looking for in this time are abdominal pain and/or vomiting. If either occurs, drink a lot of purified water.
- If there are no ill effects from the bite of food after eight hours, eat a small portion, about ¼ cup and wait another eight hours. If no negative symptoms occur, you can declare the plant safe to eat.
While this process may seem tedious, it is safe. There is no reason to take any unnecessary risk in any survival situation. Using this process reduces risk. Even if a plant is poisonous, by following these steps, there is a good chance that the person who is testing the plant will survive with nothing more than a stomach ache.
What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:
It’s easy to fall into a predictable habit when you garden. You plant a few of your favorite vegetables and some flowers, and consider your crop selection over.
In doing so, you may have overlooked a few of some of the most unique (and even weird) plants that you could (and should) grow. It’s time to take your garden to the next level. Instead of simply planning the same standard garden this year that you’ve always done, spruce it up with a few of these unique plants.
1. Black tomatoes
Love tomatoes? Add some visual appeal to your tomato crop by planting the Indigo Rose tomato – also known as black tomatoes. These antioxidant-rich tomatoes are healthier than their traditional red counterparts, but are just as easy to grow. With their striking black color, these tomatoes have a dark skin, but the interior is fleshy and savory.
Earning a place in the “oddest looking” category, kohlrabi comes in bright purple, white or green. Part of the cabbage family, this colorful plant might be the closest you get to an alien encounter – and you won’t even have to leave your garden. Perfect for gardens in cooler weather, the kohlrabi is a cross between the cucumber and the radish.
3. Mexican sour gherkin
The Mexican sour gherkin (or cucamelon) is a miniature cucumber, with the look of a watermelon.
They thrive in very similar conditions to the cucumber (warm temperatures and sunny location), but are more pest-resistant than their traditional counterparts. Despite their sweet outward appearance, they have a tangy cucumber taste.
This calorie-free, natural sweetener is easy to grow and has multiple benefits that can only be obtained from the plant. The highly-processed compound used in most commercial sugar substitutes has little of the healthful properties found in the plant. Stevia leaves can be used fresh or dried. Recent studies have indicated that the stevia plant may be more effective in the treatment of Lyme’s disease than the commonly used antibiotics. This plant can be grown easily in raised beds or containers, making it a plant that can find a home in almost every garden.
If you live in a warm climate, then you have a small window of opportunity to grow leafy vegetables such as spinach. With their green, stalky leaves, amaranth gives you a viable substitute to spinach, kale or chard. In addition, it is one of the few greens that thrive in hot, humid conditions. Use this in soups, salads or sandwiches – anywhere you would use spinach leaves.
What unique plants have you tried in your garden? We’d love to hear about them! Share your thoughts in the section below:
Homegrown vegetables and herbs are more delicious, nutritious, and sustainable than store-bought food. But growing your own food can be challenging sometimes especially if you are limited by space, poor soil, limited budget, or all of them.
Keeping top-quality home-grown produce on your table all year round is not so difficult if you follow the steps I’ve gathered for you for this week’s Prep Blog Review. If you have any other comments or ideas, please share them in the comment section.
- Succession Planting – How To Get The Most Of Your Garden This Year
“If there is one simple gardening method that can help feed your family consistently, its succession planting.
Succession planting is all about sowing the right amount of seed to have plants to feed your family for a specific period of time. As the growing season progresses, seed is planted again a few weeks later so that the harvest will be spread out accordingly.
With succession planting, you can keep fresh produce coming all season long
We have all been there. We plant a huge area of lettuce, beans or corn all at once. And then of course, it matures all at the same time. Before you know it, you become overrun by more produce than you can possibly consume. The result – a large part of the crop goes to waste.”
Read more on Old World Garden Farms.
- Alternative Soil Conditioners For Organic Gardening
“The soil in your garden is a very complex structure of elements and it has both advantages and disadvantages. To improve the soil and keep a successful garden you need to apply soil conditioners. The ones described in this article are alternatives to compos and manure.
Over the years I’ve experienced with various types of soil conditioners since I had to work with poor soil in my garden.
I was surprised to discover that there are other organic materials that you can dig into your soil.
You can use these soil conditioners as mulch to help improve drainage or water-holding capacities.”
Read more on Prepper’s Will.
- 7 Best Flowers For Your Vegetable Garden
“If you want a healthy garden, whether decorative, or an edible vegetable garden, you absolutely need to incorporate flowering plants. As a critical part of any healthy ecosystem, flowers provide food and/or habitat for beneficial insects (especially bees and butterflies), and humming birds, while adding natural aesthetic delight for children and adults alike.
The more nectar that your garden has available, the more balanced of an ecosystem you will have, since only a small number of insects are actually pests.
The more insects you have, the less chance your garden ecosystem has of getting out of balance and pests taking over.
Flowers have other benefits to the garden as well, including use as ground covers, nutrient accumulators, and aromatic pest deterrents, among other functions.
With this in mind, we’ll take a look at some of the best companion plant flowers for your vegetable garden.”
Read more on Homestead Survival Site.
- 10 Common Herbs You Should Know And Use
“Using herbs in cooking – fresh or dried – increases the flavour and taste of your food and often improves the visual appeal. Most of us want our food to look good. Have you ever looked through those recipe cards from the 1970s?
Everyone’s mother had a set, I think.
Despite what the recipe might actually have tasted like, we are turned off by mashed potatoes and steamed fish covered in white sauce or an Easter ham dressed up to look like the Easter bunny.”
Read more on Just Plain Living.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.
How to start foraging … Without killing Your family! Austin Martin “Homesteady Live“ Audio in player below! Last year i was super excited when my wife came inside and told me that she thought she found a patch of Morell Mushrooms in our backyard. I ran outside to look, and yes! There were lots of … Continue reading How to start foraging … Without killing Your family!
The post How to start foraging … Without killing Your family! appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.
It’s almost that time of year again – time to set out your plants and get that beautiful garden growing! But, one of the biggest problems that many of us face is that we grow our own food to avoid chemicals, but we need fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides to really get the most out of our labor.
Don’t worry – there are excellent organic options to help your garden grow.
Read the article below to discover them!
You’re not going to grow anything of quality if you don’t start with good seeds. It’s easy to go the cheap route and buy seeds at the dollar store, but do your research. This isn’t the place that you want to skimp because if you do it right, you’ll only have to buy seeds once because next year, you’ll use ones that you harvest from your own crop.
Now, you’ve likely heard of GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism.” Scientists literally modify the DNA of the plant to make it “better.” Of course, we know that actually means, “more profitable,” not “more healthy.”
Because science tinkered with the natural structure of the plant, the seeds are unreliable. You may get great results by replanting them, or none of them may grow. Besides, GMO have been linked to several different illnesses. Skip them.
You want to go with heirloom seeds because they’ve been carefully cultivated from one type of plant for generations. They’re reliable and safe. To learn more about the different types of seeds, check out this article.
In the event SHTF, you might not be able to run down to the garden center and pick up a bag of Miracle Gro. Why would you want to even when you can? You can make your own fertilizer at home that’s every bit as good as the store-bought stuff, and you know exactly what’s in it.
But what if your tomato plants grow just fine? I’ll be rude and answer a question with a question. How do you know that they’re growing fine? Sure, they may be growing and producing, but here’s the thing – our soil is depleted.
That means that what passes for a tomato today likely only has a fraction of the nutrients that it had 100 years ago. Too many seasons of constant planting without a break has sucked all the nutrients out of the soil, and if there’s none in the soil, well, there’s none in the plant.
So you need fertilizer. Your compost is going to be a huge part of that, but you can also add nutrients in other ways, such as by mixing Epsom salt around your tomatoes and peppers or by mixing a bit of diluted vinegar in if your soil isn’t acidic enough. Check out this article for more tips for fertilizer, but don’t skip it, whatever you do!
Video first seen on GrowVeg.
This is probably the most proactive step you can take for a healthy garden, but to do it right, you’re going to need to do it right. You can put many things, from food scraps to paper and ash in it, but there are definitely some no-nos.
Now, before you start saying that you can’t have a compost pile because you don’t have a big enough area, let me stop you because you only need an area the size of a bin to have a compost pile … err, bin.
Oh, and you can have liquid manure compost – aka manure tea – too. It’s exceptionally good for plants that require extra nitrogen. Manure tea is exactly what it sounds like – manure that’s been steeped in water. It’s a bit involved and takes some time, but it’s well worth the end result. It’s especially good for plants with deep roots.
Oh, those nasty weeds. Of course, if you’re container gardening, it’s not such a hassle, but if you have a traditional garden, it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively. And if you opt to use commercial herbicides, you’re often defeating one of the purposes of growing your own garden by using chemicals on your food.
Fortunately, you have many natural options that will work just as well as harmful chemicals. First, mulch is an excellent idea for several reasons. It helps keep the weeds to a minimum, it holds the moisture in the soil, and it acts as a natural fertilizer when it breaks down. That’s assuming you make your own mulch, which is cheap (or free), or buy organic mulch, which is NOT cheap or free.
Another option that isn’t exactly an herbicide but works as well as one is to use landscape fabric, which you can also make yourself from recycled sheets, feed sacks, etc. Or, you can buy it. It prevents weeds from growing by blocking out the sunlight. A natural result of this is that it helps hold moisture in the soil as well.
Boiling water works, too. It’ll kill a weed quick, but this isn’t particularly effective if you’re treating your entire garden.
Borax, bleach, vinegar, and salt water are also effective herbicides though you may need to repeat the process. Add a little liquid dish detergent to each for an extra boost. Be sure to spray these only on the leaves of the plants that you want to kill because none of them discriminate.
Be careful not to saturate the soil because all of them alter the pH and can have catastrophic effects on your plants.
Video first seen on Grow Your Heirlooms.
This is the big bad of the chemicals that most people consider necessary to growing a healthy, productive garden. And it’s true – nothing will wipe out a garden faster that a horde of hungry aphids, beetles, or other flying or crawling creatures.
Fortunately, you have options here, too, and some of them, such as dish detergent, serve double duty and kill weeds, too.
Neem is probably the most effective. It’s been used for centuries and has more than 50 natural insecticides. Since it’s safe for you, your pets, and your plants, you can use it without worrying about damage. The only problem is that the bug has to actually eat the plant to die, so if you have an infestation of something, you may have some losses before you win the battle.
Himalayan salt kills spider mites. Just mix 2 Tbsp. of salt in 1 gallon of water and mist onto infested areas.
Chrysanthemum flower spray is lethal to insects because it paralyzes their nervous systems and immobilizes them. Just boil 3.5 ounces of flowers with a liter of water into a tea and spray directly on the plant. The spray stores for up to 2 months. Add some neem oil to give it an extra boost.
I call this the pizza spray – it’s made of 1 clove minced garlic, 1 medium sliced onion, and 1 tsp. cayenne pepper. Add them to a quart of water and let it soak for an hour. You don’t want to cook it; just let it soak. Add a tablespoon of liquid soap and spray directly onto the plant. This will stay potent for a week or better in the fridge.
Grind a couple of handfuls of dried chilis and add to a cup of diatomaceous Earth, then add 2 liters of water. Let it soak overnight, then shake it up and apply.
Other natural pesticides include orange oil, citrus oil. Eucalyptus oil, soap, and mineral oil. Dilute them with water and spray directly onto the plant.
Note that, with the exception of the soap, all of these concoctions are drinkable (though I don’t imagine that you’d want to) so you’re not going to poison yourself.
Bunnies and deers are really cute until you find them eating your carrots and corn. Then, not so much. As a matter of fact, so may say that they’d look delicious on a plate side-by-side with said veggies after they’re busted dining on your labors.
I once lost an entire crop of cherries overnight because apparently the birds had been waiting for them to be perfect just as I had, but they were up earlier than I was. Two words – bird netting.
But, they do have minds of their own and aren’t easily deterred. Some good ideas that may help you keep from feeding the neighborhood wildlife instead of saving it all for yourself are as follows:
Marigolds. Rabbits, deer, and other wildlife hate the smell of them so plant them around your perimeter. You can also build chicken wire fences around your garden, or around the plants that you’re worried about.
Raccoons and some other animals hate the smell of Epsom salt – which, by the way, isn’t a salt so it won’t kill your plants. Just sprinkle it around the perimeter of the garden. It also increases the magnesium in your soil, so your plants may thank you.
Solar motion-activated lights may help scare them off, especially if you relocate them regularly so that the animals don’t get used to them.
Finally, you can cover your plants at night using tulle netting – that gauzy stuff that a bride’s veil is made of. For that matter, if you’re only covering it at night, you can use light sheets or other fabric that won’t break the plants.
We’ve covered most of the ways that you can grow a healthy, delicious garden without worrying about chemicals leeching into your foods. Plus, most of these suggestions are free or super cheap, so it’s a win in all directions!
Do you wonder what are the secrets that helped our grandparents grow their own food to survive during harsh times?
Click the banner bellow and uncover them!
If you have any more ideas about organic remedies to keep your survival garden healthy, share them in the comments section below. Happy gardening!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
We use cellars because they maintain a more constant temperature than structures that are built above-ground. We use greenhouses to extend the growing season because they hold in heat. Well what if you combined a greenhouse and a cellar? You’d have a greenhouse that would allow you to grow plants year-round.
This type of greenhouse is called a geothermal, pit or, Walipini greenhouse, and is common in South America. ‘Walipini’ means ‘place of warmth’ in Aymara Indian, and it’s an apt name.
Basically, the idea is that once you get below the frost line (3-5 feet below the surface, the Earth maintains a fairly constant temperature. In the US, that temperature is typically around 45-50 degrees in the northern states and 50-70 in the south. That range makes for perfect plant-growing temperatures, especially when you add a covering to one side that sun can shine through and warm it up a bit.
You’re harnessing the existing geothermal heat by digging 6-8 feet underground and capturing and storing solar radiation in order to create a near-ideal growing climate that’s resistant to surface-level temperature changes.
Benefits of a Walipini Greenhouse
There’s the most obvious benefit – you extend your growing season, or even make it so that you can grow food year-round.
Another reason that this type of greenhouse may appeal to preppers is that, depending on how you build it, it’s not obvious what’s in it so your food will be better hidden.
I’ve even seen articles about Walipinis that are built in such a way that they are a self-sustaining unit containing animals, aquaculture, and hydroponic plants. That’s a bit complicated and beyond the scope of what we’re doing today, but it can be done.
If you live in a dry climate, another advantage is that your Walipini is going to hold moisture from the ground in. You can help this along by using water along the wall to help pull the heat from the earth. That way, you’re making the air warmer and moister. Plants will love you. Actually, take condensation into consideration when you’re building.
The final advantage that a Walipini or pit greenhouse has is that you can build the whole thing for just a few hundred bucks. Less if you already have the materials.
How to Situate your Walipini Greenhouse
The first thing you need to do before you start gathering materials is determine where you’re going to build. You need to know a couple of things when you make this decision:
- your local water table
- how large you want your greenhouse to be. The larger it is, the more stable the temperature will be.
Ideally, a Walipini greenhouse is built by digging into the ground so that 3 sides and the floor are underground, and the exposed side, which is covered with windows or plastic, is built facing the winter sun – south in the northern hemisphere – and at a 90-degree angle to the sun. Think digging into a hillside, then covering the hole with plastic, which is actually a pretty good description.
Of course, what’s ideal isn’t always realistic. We don’t all live in places that even have hills to dig into. You can also dig them so that they’re just a pit and the sun is directly overhead. Of course, you’ll see that you can use the dirt that you remove from the pit to build up the rear side of the pit both for better insulation and to give you that angle for your plastic that will both help with rain run-off and position your light better.
The important things are that you dig beyond the frost-line, provide good insulation that will pull the heat in, and make sure that you don’t dig below the water line. Obviously, that would be bad. You need to make sure that the floor will be at least 4 feet above the water line.
Now, if you live in an area where the water table is measured in inches instead of feet, (many coastal areas) that doesn’t mean that you can’t build this – it just means that you need to be a bit more creative and that most of your structure will be above ground and you’ll pile dirt around it.
Video first seen on Ben Green.
What do you Need to Build a Walipini Greenhouse?
At its most basic, all that’s needed is (maybe) wooden support beams (2x4s or poles), greenhouse plastic or windows, and insulating materials – natural soil may be used for the walls if it’s structurally sound enough to hold up – such as clay or mud bricks, clay, straw bales, earth bags, concrete, cinderblocks, or stone. Of course, you’ll need nails or screws for the support beams, and a door and door frame.
Video first seen on elicia clegg.
Digging out your Walipini
When you start to dig, save the topsoil to use as the soil in the floor of your Walipini because the sub-soil won’t be good for growing. You can use the remaining dirt that you remove to build up the back berm of the structure so that you have better insulation and a higher back wall.
Many people dig a drainage ditch around the Walipini to help the water flow around the greenhouse instead of into it.
Dig down at least 6 feet (8 or 10 feet is even better) as long as you’re maintaining your distance from the water line. If you’re building into a hillside, you’re literally going to scoop a section out of the hill so that the back wall is vertical and the floor is horizontal.
If you’re building a pit, pile the soil that you’re removing so that it creates a berm behind and on the north side of the hole.
Remember when you’re digging that you’re going to be insulating the walls and floor so you’ll be adding at least a foot or so back to what you’re digging out. Account for that when you’re designing it.
There are so many different ways to design your Walipini based on your needs and geography that telling you where to put the door wouldn’t be of much help; just remember not to build one into your plans when you’re designing the Walipini.
Once you have your whole dug, reinforce your north, east, and west walls with whatever you chose as your insulator. Natural stone and brick are both great choices because they naturally pull the heat (and moisture) from the ground and into the greenhouse. Some people choose to line the floors with stones and some don’t.
Now, you have to decide if you’re going to plant directly into the floor or are you going to treat this as a standard greenhouse and use containers? I also saw a few great examples of container garden-type methods.
If you’re planting straight onto the floor, it’s a good idea to put a layer of gravel 6 or 8 inches deep under the soil to help with drainage and to pull more heat up from the ground. You can use compost or manure under the topsoil because it naturally generates heat as it decomposes and will help warm things up.
After you get your walls built, it’s time to cover the pit. I’ve seen several examples where people built a vent into the roof in order to let some of the heat escape. This may sound silly, but the inside of a Walipini can be as high as 100 degrees even in its below freezing outside – that’s no exaggeration.
So, either build in a vent or be prepared to leave the door open or cracked for part of the day in case it does get too hot.
The roof (cover) doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be clear plastic stapled over a wooden frame with braces every few feet.
There you have it – the basics on how to build a Walipini greenhouse. It’s a simple yet effective method to help grow plants during the winter or even in climates that aren’t typically conducive to gardening at all.
Click the banner below to discover the long forgotten secrets that helped our forefathers survive during harsh times!
Do you have a Walipini or pit greenhouse? If so, please share your ideas and experiences with us in the comments section below. Also, feel free to ask questions.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Fertilizers, feeding your plants! Bobby “MHP Gardener” Audio in player below! Before you plant a seed or seedling, you need to apply some fertilizer to the soil or container. What kind and how much depends on what you’re growing, and your particular style of growing. So it’s important to have a good understanding of the … Continue reading Fertilizers, feeding your plants!
If I were told that I could only grow one vegetable (err…technically fruit, but that’s irrelevant) in my garden, I would pick tomatoes. Why? Because they’re delicious, nutritious, easy to grow anywhere, and you can use them in so many ways that you’d likely never get sick of them. You almost have to grow tomatoes for survival if you want your garden to be complete.
Just a single cup of tomatoes provides about half of your RDA of Vitamin C (move over orange juice), 25% of your RDA of Vitamin A, some Vitamin K just for kicks, and minerals including iron, potassium, folic acid, Lycopene and calcium. Plus, tomatoes have been linked to cancer prevention. Not too shabby for a little red, yellow, green, purple, orange, black, or pink fruit/vegetable, is it? Oh and did I mention that they come in an array of colors?
But which ones should you grow? How long do they take? Do they have particular needs? How much space do you need? There’s definitely a bit more to growing quality tomatoes than just grabbing a pack of seeds at the dollar store, but throughout the following paragraphs, you’re going to learn enough to get you started.
Different Types of Tomatoes
Many people grow several different varieties of tomatoes because there are so many uses for them. Just like anything else, most tomatoes are better for one purpose than another. For instance, if you want to grow tomatoes for juice and for eating raw, you’ll likely want two different types of tomatoes.
Of course, there are definitely good all-around tomatoes, but variety is most certainly to spice of life. And since there’s very little difference in planting and growing, why not grow different ones best suited to your individual needs?
Here are some of the reasons you may want to grow tomatoes:
- Slicing, or eating tomatoes
- Cherry tomatoes for salads
- Plum tomatoes for eating or cooking
- Juice tomatoes
- Sauce tomatoes
- Whole canned tomatoes
- Tomatoes for chutneys.
Now, think about it. If you want to slice a nice, meaty tomato to put on your burger, you want plenty of “meat,” right? But if you want to can whole tomatoes, you’ll want something a bit smaller, and with a different consistency. And of course, if you want a little tomato for a salad, you need yet another type.
That’s the beauty of tomatoes; there are hundreds of options. All you have to do is find the ones you like best!
Types of Seeds
There are four main types of seeds out there: GMO, hybrid, heirloom, and open pollination.
These seeds have been genetically modified at the DNA level in a lab. They’re meant to make the seed better in some form or another. However, because the plant has been altered at the genetic level, you may find it difficult to get the next generation of seeds to grow, or to produce tomatoes that are the same as the ones in the first generation.
These are often mistaken for GMO, but they’re vastly different. They’re a naturally-occurring plant that occurs when one variety pollinates with another. Think of the hybrid as a family – a mother and dad get married and have a child that shares their traits – hopefully the best of each parent.
Hybrids have no problem growing but may not be consistent from one generation of seeds to another. First generation plants and fruit tend to be more consistent in size and shape and are often more disease resistant than heirlooms, but you don’t know what you’re going to get next year.
These plants are the result of plants that are grown close together pollinating each other in a natural manner. You’ll have some genetic variability because of this, and when the seed is saved, those traits are passed onto the next generation. Open-pollination tomatoes are often regionally unique and have unusual shapes, colors and flavors.
These are the seeds that most farmers count on, because they’re reliable. You can save the seeds with a high degree of confidence that they’ll grow next year.
The queen of seeds. Heirloom tomatoes come from seeds that have been carefully preserved for generations – usually 50 years or more. They’re carefully tended so that the traits are consistent from one generation to another. The one trait that heirlooms have is that the fruit can vary greatly in size and shape even on the same plant. That’s not always the case, and it’s not really a bad thing – just something to make note of when you’re growing them.
Heirlooms grow consistently from one year to the next, so you can save your seeds and have the same exact plant next year.
So What Seeds are Best?
Many people grow hybrids and love them; for that matter, I have too. But if I’m saving seeds, it’s the ones from my hybrids and open-pollinated ones because I know that they’ll grow and I know what I’ll get.
This is yet another trait that I love about tomatoes – no matter where you live, there’s a variety that will grow for you. Well, almost. If you live in an area that has no warm weather to speak of, or an extremely short (less than 50 day) growing cycle, your choices are limited unless you want to grow them inside, or in a greenhouse.
Altitude affects every single aspect of growing – temperature, soil conditions, precipitation, and humidity. In high-altitude climates, you often have short growing seasons, soil that’s either rocky and alkaline or shaded and acidic, too much rain, not enough rain, and a ton of wildlife that’s just waiting for you to grow them some delicious food.
But don’t despair, you can grow great tomatoes just about anywhere you want as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.
What do Tomatoes Need to Grow?
I read a story about a couple who invested all of their summer into a tomato crop only to yield a single fruit. They’d gone out of town one weekend and forgotten to tell their friends to water them, and that’s what did it.
Now of course, that’s a tall tale, but it’s not far off. Tomatoes need a consistent amount of water, especially when the fruit is ripening. But if you water them too much during this period, they’ll be washed out and flavorless.
So if your tomato could pick its ideal situation (and it can because if you don’t listen, it won’t grow) what would it be? There are some variances in their needs, such as length of growing seasons, but in general, the necessary components to successfully growing tomatoes are:
- Temperature – tomatoes need an average of 3-4 months or warm, fairly dry weather to grow and produce well. In order to “set” fruit – a gardening term that means that your plant will produce fruit after flowering and pollination. Generally, they need nighttime temperatures of 55-75 degrees F for this to happen. They won’t develop the proper color if night time temps are above 85, and most will quit growing if nighttime temps are over 95 degrees. Now, there are tomatoes that thrive in hot weather, so if this is your situation, do some research and find them. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time.
- Sunlight – Your plants need at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of sunshine per day. If you live somewhere temperate, 8 is great. If you live in the sweltering south, then 6 with a nice shady afternoon will be appreciated.
- Consistent Watering – This part is SUPER important. You want your soil to be moist but not wet. Too much will kill the plant, too little will stop the fruit from growing, or will give it a poor texture and flavor if it does grow.
- Proper, regular feeding – Tomatoes like nitrogen in the soil, so prepare the soil with ripe compost and a scoop of aged manure in the bottom of the hole when you plant it. Another trick is to add some Epsom salt to the soil monthly.
You can do this via just sprinkling a couple teaspoons around the plant, or by mixing a couple of tablespoons in a gallon of water and watering your plants with it. Be careful though, because too much nitrogen will give you a beautiful plant but will delay ripening. Add nitrogen when the top leaves turn yellow and the stem turns purple.
- Loose soil that drains well – honestly, they prefer this but will grow in nearly any type of soil as long as you provide the proper nutrients. If you have plants that harvest early, sandy loamy soil is best. Plants that bear fruit late like heavier loamy clay. They also like slightly acidic soil with a pH somewhere between 6 and 7.
- Take Care of the Roots and Leaves – tomatoes are a good plant to start inside because if you live in most zones, you want your plants to be 8-10 weeks old when you set them out 2 weeks or so after the last frost. It’s important that you wait this long because if you get an “oops” freeze, your plants are done.
You also need to protect them from wind that can break them and try to keep the vines off of the ground to help protect them from mold and bugs. Bugs love tomatoes, so be proactive in your insect prevention and check the leaves, top and underside, regularly.
Planting Your Tomatoes
Ok, not that we have that set aside, let’s talk about how to grow your plants. This is the exciting part – well, one of them anyway!
It’s best to prep your soil a week or two in advance by turning in some aged manure and compost. A bit of Epsom salt may help too, if your soil is low in nitrogen. Rest easy – though salt will kill your soil, Epsom salt isn’t actually sodium – it’s actually magnesium and sulfur. The magnesium helps your plant absorb nitrogen.
Some people just dig the hole for the plant and plop a trowel full of compost/manure in the bottom. This may be OK, but make sure that both are well-aged so that you don’t burn up your plants. I’d recommend mixing it into the soil.
If you started your plants from seeds, they should be at least 8 weeks old now, and you should harden them off for a week or so before you plan to plant them out doors. This just means that you’ll start putting them out for a couple of hours per day, protecting them at first from the sun and wind, then gradually increasing their time spent outside so that it’s not such a shock when you actually transplant them.
Now, let’s plant. You can plant them in your garden, or tomatoes make excellent container plants. 5-gallon buckets work great.
Dig a hole with your trowel about 6-8 inches deep. Remember that your soil should be loose. Pull off the bottom few leaves of the plant, then put it in the ground so that the root ball is buried and the remaining leaves are above the surface of the ground.
Plant them about 2 feet apart.
Water well to help reduce shock to its roots.
Stake or cage immediately. This doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but trust me – in a few weeks when they’re growing like gangbusters, you won’t find it nearly so easy as you do right now.
Water your plants well for the first few days to help prevent shock and help it to acclimate. Water consistently throughout the season so that your soil stays at about the same saturation. In some growing conditions, you may be able to get away with watering once a week, but 2 or 3 times is better. They’ll need about 2 inches per week.
Just a tip here – using homemade mulch is a great idea because it helps hold moisture in AND it helps fertilize at the same time. You can put the mulch down when you plant or you can wait a few weeks to do it. Don’t forget about liquid manure compost, either.
Keeping a steady fertilization schedule is good, too, Follow the tips above about that.
When your plants begin to vine and you get them staked, it’s a good idea to pinch off sucker leaves – those leaves that don’t lead to more vine but only exist to suck the moisture from your plant.
Wait for your bumper crop of tomatoes to appear!
Video first seen on Rogers Gardens.
Now comes the fun part. The best way that I like to preserve my tomatoes is in between two slices of bread – oh wait, it doesn’t last long like that! Seriously though, there are a number of ways that you can preserve your tomatoes. Each way ends up using a canning method, but there are many different ways that you can prepare them for preservation including sun-drying and adding to olive oil, or dehydrating.
Juicing and Sauce
I can’t even tell you how many tomatoes I’ve mashed through a sieve with a wooden pestle to make juice! All you need to do is cut your tomatoes into quarters and toss them into a saucepan. Bring them to a boil for 5 minutes to soften them up and get the skins all loose. The juice will start separating out.
After they’ve simmered for that five minutes, turn off the heat and pour some of them over into your sieve or food mill (which is over a pot or bowl, of course) to separate the juice from the skins and seeds. Mash them through and pour the juice back into a pan and bring to boiling again for another 5 minutes, then can.
You should add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each pint just to boost the acidity enough to preserve it. I also add in a teaspoon of salt per quart (1/2 tsp. per pint).
Water bath can as usual or 35 minute for pints and 40 minutes for quarts. If you’re pressure canning, it’s 15 minutes for pints and 20 for quarts.
Note that your juice may “clarify”, or separate so that the bottom is dark red with the tomato pulp in it and the top is almost clear. This is perfectly normal – just shake it up before you use it.
If you want to make sauce instead of juice, it’s simply a matter of cooking it longer so that the water evaporates and the juice thickens. You can make plain tomato sauce if you want, but this is a great time to jazz it up by adding seasonings such as garlic, oregano, rosemary, etc. Think spaghetti, pizza, taco sauce, etc.
Whole, Crushed or Diced
Blanch your tomatoes for just a couple of seconds – that is, dip them in boiling water for 10 seconds then toss them into an ice bath. An old Italian guy (because nobody knew more about tomatoes than this guy) taught me that if you slice a small ‘x’ somewhere on the bottom of the tomato, it makes it easier to peel. The skin will fall right off and you can proceed to the next step.
Once you get the skins off, cut away any bad parts or green sections. If you’re canning them whole, stuff them into the jars. If you’re halving, quartering, dicing, or crushing them first, do it now. And add them to the jars and top with water so that you leave 1/2 inch headroom, at least. Add lemon juice and salt, seal, and can.
The process of making tomato paste is similar to making the juice except you cook it WAY down into a super thick sauce, then add olive oil and salt and bake it in a 200-degree oven, spread evenly in pan, until it’s the thickness of tomato paste.
Chutney, Salsa, Etc.
This is possibly the best part! Make your favorite salsas and chutneys with tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, and other spices and can them up so that you have some of this deliciousness year round!
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into growing tomatoes, but there are so many different ways that you can use them that it barely qualifies as work. It’s like growing an entire winter’s worth of possibilities all with just a few plants.
Study what kind of tomatoes you want to grow and get started! What are some of your favorite tomatoes? Do you have a recipe or an idea you’d like to share?
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
I love potatoes. Boiled, mashed, fried, baked – it doesn’t matter how they’re served, I’ll eat them. They help stretch your food supply and provide energy when you need it the most.
Unless you have a place to grow a traditional garden, you may have discarded the idea of growing them, but you can make a potato pot and grow them wherever you want – and you can even take them with you if you need to bug out.
If you’re shooting for the “potato” that offers the most health benefits, shoot for yams or sweet potatoes. Though the names are often used interchangeably, they are not the same vegetable, nor do they have the same nutrients, though they’re both high in vitamins, particularly vitamin A. Technically, neither one are even potatoes but that’s outside the scope of this article.
How to Store Your Potatoes
If you were raised in the country, you likely remember the root cellars. Ever wonder why they’re called that? Me too, and the best explanation I can come up with is that they were used to store root vegetables – traditional white, yellow, or red potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, etc. All of these will store all winter if kept at the right temperature. The important thing is to not wash them because the dirt extends their shelf lives.
Unlike other potatoes, sweet potatoes love the warmth – unlike traditional spuds, room temperature is great for them. They’ll keep up to a year! Again, don’t wash them. And if you’re growing them yourself, as you’re going to be after you make your pots, do your best to leave them somewhere warm – 80 degrees is great – for 10 days or so after you harvest them. This promotes the growth of a chemical on the skin that protects them from rot and also “cures” them to make them sweet.
Another advantage to growing sweet potatoes is that you have a tremendous yield. Believe it or not, you can yield as much as 130 pounds of sweet potatoes from just 3 potatoes.
You can grow both sweet potatoes and “regular” potatoes in pots, but the process is different. We’ll take about the easiest and fastest way first, then tell you how to grow sweet potatoes.
Now, are you ready to get your hands dirty and make a potato pot that will produce a great crop of potatoes? Good. Let’s get started.
Making a Standard Potato Pot
First off, I have to say that this is the perfect idea for a prepper because once you get it going, you’ll have potatoes literally forever without even needing to add dirt or fertilizer. It’s absolutely brilliant, but so simple that anybody with 1 potato, soil, water, and access to clover can do it.
Of course, any potato crop is self-perpetuating, but with this one, you don’t need fertilizer and you won’t have to dig in the garden.
Expect to yield about 10x (perhaps just a bit less) the weight of potatoes that you plant; that’s ten pounds for every pound, so you don’t have to do math.
- First, choose your container. You can grow them in anything from a 5-gallon bucket up. Use a bucket or container that has never been used to store any type of chemical or poison. A great place to get food-grade buckets is local restaurants and bakeries. They usually buy in bulk, and items such as pickles, lard, sugar, flour, and frosting often come in 5-gallon buckets.
- Fill your container with a mixture of potting soil and compost. I’ve even heard of people using sand and sawdust, but for this method, use the potting soil and compost.
- Let your potato sit long enough to start growing eyes. That way you know that it will grow because some are treated with chemicals that keep them from sprouting in order to extend shelf life. While you’re waiting, prepare your bucket and get your clover growing.
- Drill holes in the bottom of your bucket for drainage and make sure that you have a place to put the bucket so that it’s not in direct contact with something such as dirt that can clog the holes and prevent drainage.
- Put a few inches of gravel (and sand if you’d like) in the bottom of the bucket and fill it with soil to within several inches of the top.
- Sprinkle white clover seeds across the top of the soil and just run your hand over them to get a bit of soil over them.
- Once your potato sprouts eyes and you know it’s good to grow, your clover should be starting to grow, too. Dig a hole 12 inches deep or so in the center of the bucket. Don’t worry if you have to dig through the clover – it will grow back.
- Plant your potato at the bottom and cover back up with dirt.
- You’ll see a plant within just a couple of weeks, then all you have to do is water it once or twice a week and let it grow. After 3 months or so, the plant will die back. When it does that, your potatoes are ready to harvest.
Video first seen on Hollis & Nancy’s Homestead.
Making a Sweet Potato Pot
This has several steps and takes quite a bit of advance wait time, but your yield will be awesome. Plus, sweet potatoes are delicious and nutritious just as they are. Not to say that a good old regular potato isn’t delicious, too!
Because the yield is so high, you may want to use 20 gallon buckets for this. That’s what was used here – if you’re only using 5-gallon buckets, just put one slip per bucket. You’ll know what that means in a minute.
- Start with a single sweet potato. Unless you want to be overrun with them, or intend to sell them or trade them, you don’t need more than a couple because one potato seriously can yield forty pounds or so.
- Find cups, jars, or containers that are wide enough and deep enough to accommodate one half of the potato, lengthwise.
- Stick 3 toothpicks into the potato at equal distances around the middle so that you can dangle one end of the potato (half of it or so) into the glass or jar and have one end sticking out. You want to have at least a half-inch or so all around the potato between it and the inside of the container.
- Put the potato into the container so that it’s suspended by the toothpicks.
- Now it’s time to wait for the slips to grow. Slips are basically shoots that grow into individual plants, and one potato can yield up to 50.
- The slips will begin to grow off of the bottom and up around the potato and will be ready to separate after a couple of months.
- Once they are, separate them out into different jars, and you can even cut and root new slips off the first ones as they grow. Once you have the slips that you want and they’re at least 12 inches tall, it’s time to plant them.
- You’ll want a trellis behind them because sweet potatoes vine, and they root where they touch the ground, so if you’re using containers, you don’t want them vining all over your yard.
- Fill the buckets with equal parts potting soil, peat moss, and compost to about 6 inches of the top.
- Ramp the dirt so that one side of the container (the one furthest away from the trellis) is 8 inches or so more shallow than the side closest to the trellis and soak it with water.
- Place 3-6 slips in each bucket so that the tops are facing the trellis and the roots are at the side of the bucket that’s furthest away from the trellis.
- Add soil mixture to cover the roots and make the dirt level. It’s OK if you cover up some of the leaves and only just the tops are sticking out.
- Water it again a bit and cover with straw or mulch to keep weeds from growing.
Video first seen on OFF GRID with DOUG and STACY.
They love hot weather and take about three months to mature. They’ll get super bushy, so try to encourage any long vines to grow up the trellis. The plants will also grow really pretty flowers, which makes them great for ornamentals. Since the good stuff isn’t visible, if people don’t know what they are, they’ll just think they’re bushes – hiding your garden in plain sight.
The leaves will start to turn yellow. After that, leave them for another week or so and test a part of the bucket by digging down to see if they’re ready. Or, you can just dump a bucket and see how they are. Though remember – you only get one shot if you do it that way.
Now you know how make a potato pot.
Potatoes are the ultimate survival crop and they were included almost in every meal during the Great Depression.
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
There’s nothing better for you than fresh, homegrown fruits, herbs, and vegetables, but not all of us have the luxury of being able to plant a traditional garden. But did you know that you can get great yields on many types of produce?
Today we’re going to take a look at the best vegetables to grow in buckets, so that no matter where you live, you can eat well.
Growing in buckets enables people with limited space to grow their own food. Even if you have the land, buckets still make growing easier if you have a hard time getting up and down to weed the garden, take care of the plants, and pick the veggies. Or, if you’re simply too busy to dedicate the time it takes to care for a traditional garden.
If you’re using buckets, don’t forget to poke a few drainage holes in the bottom. After you’ve poked the holes, use some natural filters so you won’t lose the dirt. Put a layer of rocks, then a layer of sand if you want, then your soil. Don’t use regular dirt because it will likely compact and impair growth. Instead, use an equal mix of ripe compost, potting soil, and peat moss.
Do a little research on what your plants need so that you know to make the soil more or less acidic.
If you live in a cold climate, it’s a good idea to plant seedlings for plants that require extra time. This includes just about every plant except for green onions, shallots, carrots, potatoes, and radishes, and plants that are grown from bulbs. Of course, you always have the option of moving the buckets inside if it gets too cold too early.
Finally, you may look at the yield you’re getting per bucket and think, “Wow. That doesn’t sound like much for the amount of space I’m using. There’s a lot of soil left underneath that plant that isn’t being used.” You’re absolutely right. If you want to maximize that space instead of wasting it, consider growing plants out the bottom, too. Many plants grow well upside down.
Whether you like plain old spuds or prefer sweet potatoes or yams (yes, there is a huge nutritional difference), potatoes are a great bucket crop. Potatoes are hardy, grow in virtually any soil, and are grown underground, so they’re tolerant to weather changes. They’re also simple to prepare.
The key to getting a good potato yield is to grow them in a nitrogen-rich environment. Potatoes also self-perpetuate, so you’ll never run out.
Hint – grow clover on top of your potato bucket, or on the topsoil of any plant that needs lots of nitrogen, because clover pulls nitrogen out of the air and distributes it through its root system and down into the soil.
All you have to do to plant regular potatoes in a bucket is let the “eyes” or little roots grow from it, cut the potato into sections so that each section has an eye, and plant it. Plant the equivalent of one whole, large potato per 3-gallon of bucket, and 2 potatoes to a 5-gallon bucket.
You don’t even really HAVE to cut it into pieces. I just do because it’s how I was raised with a traditional garden. Old habits.
Tomatoes grow fabulously in buckets; just remember that you’ll still have to stake them to something. This can be as easy as sticking a stake right in the bucket with it. No problem.
Cherry or bush tomatoes work the best and you shouldn’t plant more than one per bucket. You can pull tomatoes off in a 3-gallon bucket as long as you’ve got something besides just a stake in the bucket to stake them to, so that the weight will be supported.
Video first seen on ROCKNTV1.
Any type of cucumbers or squash grow well in buckets. As a matter of fact, I have a little better luck with the buckets because it’s easier for me to find the vegetable. Often when I planted them in a regular garden, I’d lose a few in the foliage.
Plant one plant per bucket.
These are nice to grow right on the porch as ornamentals. For that matter, so are cucumbers and squash because of the nice flowers. If you’re growing colorful peppers such as banana peppers or chilies, they brighten up the porch, too.
Interesting pepper fact that many people don’t know:
The only difference between green, red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers is the time they spend on the vine. Green ones are picked first, then if they’re left alone, they turn yellow, orange, then red. Nutritional values vary widely among the colors, though.
Plant two peppers per 5-gallon bucket.
Video first seen on Gary Pilarchik.
Bush beans grow best. Plant 1 bush per bucket.
Plant 10 per bucket. You can get away with using a smaller bucket or planter for these. Just make sure that the soil is at least a foot deep.
Green onions, shallots, and any type of larger onion all grow wonderfully in buckets. For green onions and shallots, you can use a shallow bucket or window box as long as the soil is at least 6 inches deep. Just sprinkle a tablespoon or so of seeds evenly across the top of the bucket and cover with 1/4-1/2 inch of soil. For large onions and garlic, plant 4-5 per 5-gallon bucket.
Plant 4-5 per bucket.
Plant 2 plants per bucket because each plant requires 12-14 inches of growing space. You may be able to get away with 3. They’re good as ornamentals, too. Eggplants can be a bit finicky to grow because they require adequate water, good drainage, and pollination. Nothing is more frustrating than growing a plant then watching the flowers fall off without bearing fruit.
For your soil, use half sand and half soil/compost. Make sure they get at least two inches of water per week – more if you live in a hot climate. It’s a good idea to give them all of this water at once so that the water reaches the roots. Test your soil between waterings to make sure that it doesn’t dry out. You don’t want it too wet, but it should be moist.
Since they’re wind-pollinated, you may have a problem with adequate pollination. If you’re worried about this, it’s easy to pollinate them yourself. Just take a little paintbrush and run it around the inside of each flower.
They’ll also need a support system just like tomatoes do.
Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage
These are great vegetables to plant in a bucket and you can grow 2-3 plants per bucket. Broccoli and red cabbage in particular are packed with nutrients.
All herbs grow well in buckets, and you don’t need to use a full five-gallon bucket, either – they only need about 6 inches of soil to grow well. How many you can plant per container depends upon the herb, so pay attention to planting directions. You can even easily and successfully grow herbs inside.
Growing plants in buckets is a great method for several different reasons. From a prepper’s perspective, perhaps one of the biggest advantages is portability. If you have to bug out, you can take your food with you.
Since nearly all plants have seeds, you’re basically leaving with a food supply that will self-perpetuate, so it’s best to use heirloom seeds to ensure consistent growth and quality. I can’t overstate how important it is to choose the correct seeds for your needs.
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Gardening is a fun, healthy and rewarding activity, but in a survival situation, knowing how to grow your own food is a necessity. In a post-disaster world, having a resource of fresh food will make the difference between a healthy meal and starving.
For this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered four articles where you can find more than 100 gardening secrets you can start following right now whether you are an experienced gardener or you’ve just begun growing your food.
- 101 Gardening Secrets the Experts Never Tell You
“A well-tended 400 square foot garden will feed a family of four.
The trick is planning, planting, tending, and harvesting that garden right.
Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to maximize your garden’s production, everything the experts don’t tell you!
How to Grow from Seeds
I like to use natural topsoil to start my garden seedlings in. I usually don’t use potting soil because it generally does not produce the results I want.
I fill a large, deep baking pan with top soil and bake it for thirty minutes at 350 degrees.
This sanitizes the soil and ensures that no unwanted weeds or grass will come up in your soil. I usually start on this project in the winter and I fill up a couple of large plastic barrels with lids with the sanitized soil.”
Read more on Backdoor Prepper.
- Growing and Drying Your Own Herbs
“As a new gardener, I often found the task of growing prize winning tomatoes and succulent melons very daunting. Can I say succulent melons here? Get your head out of the gutter!
Gardening has never come naturally to me. But I learn and grow each and every year.
I finally began to master tomatoes by the third year of gardening. But I’ve still never mastered the green bean.
It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re gardening, but I’ve found one thing that I can never kill.
I suppose I could if I drenched it in chemicals, but ultimately, they’re very forgiving.
What is it, you ask? Why, herbs, of course!”
Read more on The Fewell Homestead.
- How to Make Compost with Worms
“Vermicomposting (aka worm composting) is a great way to rapidly compost your food waste.
They are hugely efficient at breaking this waste down into high quality compost.
A worm composting system is easy to build from scratch or you can choose an excellent commercial vermicomposting system.
The heart of the system is the worm bin.
This is basically the home for the worms.
It is also where they will work their magic – turning your waste into great worm castings.
A good vermiculture bin has several important components.”
Read more on The Weekend Prepper.
- Unbelievable Hydrogen Peroxide Uses in Garden You Should Know
“Is it possible? Are there Hydrogen Peroxide Uses in the garden?
Well, yes, it can be useful! Read on to find out how.
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom than Water (H2O), this extra oxygen atom breaks down and the molecule of water releases from this separately.
It is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful.
The Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, as a disinfectant etc. but it can also be used in horticulture.
In simple words, Hydrogen Peroxide acts as an oxygen supplement for plants (beneficial if used in low strength).
It works by releasing oxygen and it also aerates the soil.”
Read more on Balcony Garden Web.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.
This article was originally published by Thomas Byers on dengarden.com
A well-tended 400 square foot garden will feed a family of four. The trick is planning, planting, tending, and harvesting that garden right. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to maximize your garden’s production, everything the experts don’t tell you!
How to Grow from Seeds
- I like to use natural topsoil to start my garden seedlings in. I usually don’t use potting soil because it generally does not produce the results I want.
- I fill a large, deep baking pan with top soil and bake it for thirty minutes at 350 degrees. This sanitizes the soil and ensures that no unwanted weeds or grass will come up in your soil. I usually start on this project in the winter and I fill up a couple of large plastic barrels with lids with the sanitized soil.
- After I have planted the seeds in the sanitized top soil, I sprinkle the top with powdered cinnamon. This keeps away fungus that can cause damping.
- I cover each seedling with a clear plastic cup that I wash and reuse. This protects the seedling and keeps the moisture in. It also keeps away cold and wind. I do my seed starting on a screened-in porch.
- If you plant your seeds outdoors, sprinkle flavored powdered gelatin in the soil with the seeds. This will feed beneficial bacteria and provide needed nitrogen to your plants as they come up.
Starting from a Clipping
If you want to root a plant or cutting in water, add an aspirin or two to the container. Buy a cheap bottle of aspirin and grind it up before you add it to the water. This will aid in water absorption and will help the cutting to start roots.
You can easily start plants from cuttings from roses, saliva, and geraniums. Just dip the cuttings into a rooting hormone, then put them into potting soil. Spray the cuttings several times a day with water until you are sure they are rooted. Hibiscus are also easy to root this way.
How to Plant or Transplant Tomatoes or Peppers
Try it this way and I promise you that you’ll be rewarded with faster growing and healthier plants:
- When planting any type of tomato or pepper plant, pinch off all but the top leaves.
- Dig a deep hole. Always add a cup of water to the prepared hole and then set the plant into the hole and put a tablespoon of powdered, unflavored gelatin in the hole as near to the roots of the plant as possible. A teaspoon of cinnamon also goes in. The gelatin will feed and encourage helpful bacteria and the cinnamon will keep away fungus and cutworms.
- For sweeter tomatoes, put two tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of the hole. Cover the baking soda with an inch or two of dirt before you put the plant in the hole.
- Carefully fill the hole with dirt and pack the dirt down tight.
- Use tomato cages or wooden stakes and garden twine to tie your tomato plants up and give them support to keep them from getting blown over by the wind. If they aren’t supported, they won’t produce nearly as much and may develop fungus diseases if the plant is laying over on the ground.
Note: I suggest that everyone learn everything they can about heirloom tomatoes, which have much better flavor than modern ones.
How to Keep Deer out of Your Yard
If you follow the below tips, you can keep deer out:
- Purchase motion-activated sprinklers. If the deer or other animals go near them, the sprinklers activate automatically and run them off quickly. Deer and most other animals don’t like to be sprayed by water.
- Sometimes something as simple as hanging up tin pie pans around the garden can keep the deer away. You will want to hang the pans so they swing freely and make noise. Move them to another spot about once a week to be sure the deer don’t become used to them and just walk around them.
- Human urine works great as a deterrent. Bring a container full from the bathroom and pour it around the edges of your garden. Put down fresh urine as often as you can and the deer will stay away.
- Hang up noisy wind chimes. As with the pans, you’ll want to move them every week or so.
From Garden to Kitchen and Back Again
- When you boil or steam vegetables, don’t throw the water away. After it’s cool, use it to water the plants you are growing in containers. You’ll be surprised how plants respond to this type of water.
- Always put leftover tea, tea bags, and coffee grounds under your azaleas. You will end up with healthy plants with bright flowers.
- The quickest and best place to dry herbs is on a few sheets of newspaper on the back seat of your car. The herbs will dry out quickly, usually in 1 – 2 days.
- Don’t be afraid to grow your own kitchen herbs. Most herbs are easy to grow and you’ve never tasted anything as good as your own homemade pesto sauce. I grow purple heirloom sweet basil and it is so delicious. It also gives a wonderful smell to my garden. Don’t forget to compost what you don’t use.
- Do you stir fry? You should if you don’t. If you do, try using things like immature broccoli, baby squash, and tiny eggplants. You won’t believe the wonderful flavor of these tiny baby vegetables. Don’t be afraid to pull baby green onions to add to the mix. You can come up with some wonderful flavors this way.
- Blood, fish, and bonemeal are great organic fertilizers. Apply them throughout the growing season to your vegetables and flowers. Blood and bonemeal will also keep rabbits and groundhogs out of your garden and away from your plants.
- If you grow an abundance of cayenne pepper, keep it picked off green and keep adding it to a gallon ziplock bag in the freezer. If you wish, go ahead and cut the stems off before you freeze the cayenne. (Don’t forget to use those stems to enrich your soil.) You can add a tablespoon or two of fine diced green cayenne to soups and stews to add spice and flavor.
- If you’re going to be growing a garden every year, you should learn how to can as soon as possible. Growing and canning tomatoes is easy and very satisfying. Do some research and learn everything you can about canning and preserving what you grow in your garden.
- If you don’t have one yet, purchase a food dehydrator to preserve your vegetables. You can make wonderful sun-dried tomatoes this way. You can dry almost any kind of fruit or vegetable and if you do it right, you’ll end up with delicious treats. Store them in a tightly-covered container or freeze them in a large ziplock bag. If you make a dried mixture of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and onions, you’ll have the perfect soup mix. Add the dried vegetables to chicken or vegetable stock and you can quickly have a delicious soup. Add pasta and fried hamburger for a delicious stew. Be sure that you carefully read the instruction book that comes with the dehydrator.
- Save all your banana skins and let them dry outdoors. Plant them at the base of your tomato plants: It’s like giving your tomatoes a pick-me-up and will encourage growth. You can speed things along by pureeing the banana peels with water in a food processor or blender and then pouring this around the base of the tomato plants.
- You can use chamomile tea to prevent fungus on your seedlings. Spray it on before sunrise or after sunset for the best results.
- Canning is the preferred method of putting up your garden veggies because cans don’t need refrigeration and won’t spoil if the power fails. The next best solution is to dehydrate as many of your fruits and vegetables as you can. And if you plan to store a lot of fruits and vegetables you should have a small chest freezer. You can make things like squash casseroles or zucchini bread to freeze for later use. Make sure that you date and label each item so you know what it is and how old it is.
Use Leftover Fruit and Vegetable Peelings
Take all of those peelings and vegetable scraps and run them through your food processor, then sprinkle this in your soil to feed your growing plants. Peppers especially love this and will grow and produce bumper crops when you feed them this way.
Use Newspaper and the Lint from Your Dryer as a Mulch
Instead of throwing away the lint your dryer filter collects, save it in a tightly-sealed container and till it into your dirt to help hold moisture in your soil.
You can also shred your daily newspaper and add the shredded paper to your compost bin. It will help you to have healthy compost and will help to retain the soil’s moisture.
When you plant things like tomatoes, peppers, and squash, put a fist-sized piece of dryer lint in the bottom of the hole. The dryer lint will hold moisture in and around your just-planted plants, insuring that the water stays there at the roots where it is needed.
Always plant marigolds, especially near tomatoes and cabbage, to keep garden pests away.
What Expert Gardeners Know About Planting
- Go on the Internet in the winter and very early spring and order all your seeds.
- Plant the vegetables that your family likes to eat. Why plant asparagus if no one likes it?
- The easiest plants to grow include beans, tomatoes, radishes, Swiss chard, peppers, corn, cucumbers, and potatoes. Anyone should be able to grow these.
- Plant your cucumbers so they can grow up a fence or trellis and you will grow far more cucumbers.
- Plant pole beans around the base of a tee-pee bamboo frame and the plants will grow up it and you can easily pick and enjoy your beans.
- Grow cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets—they will grow well there and will be easy to pick. Be sure that you keep them well-watered. Keep them picked off and they will keep producing.
- Be sure that you don’t try to grow things too close together. Read the backs of seed packs so you’ll know how far apart your various plants should be. If you plant them too thickly, they won’t produce as well
- When planting rows, measure off three feet on your garden hoe with a permanent marker so you can measure this distance off between each row. If you’re going to use your garden tiller to keep the weeds down, you’ll need to have at least three feet between your rows.
- Before you plant, always draw a plan out on paper. Put taller plants towards the back of the garden and shorter plants at the front so you can see everything from a distance.
- Keep your plants healthy by anticipating the plants’ nutritional needs. You’ll most likely need to add fertilizer while your plants are growing. This is where research is important. Always keep a journal with detailed notes that you can refer back to later.
- Be sure to use tomato cages or sturdy stakes to provide support for your tomato plants. If you don’t, your plants won’t produce nearly as many tomatoes and they may catch diseases.
- Radishes, Swiss chard, beets, and carrots can be planted up to four weeks before the last frost. They are quite hardy.
- It’s important to plant only the varieties of vegetables that grow well in your area. At your local farm or garden center, ask what varieties do well.
- Lay down sheets of newspaper before you put down potting soil or top soil. This will help to keep weeds and grass from coming up in your garden. You can also lay down sheets of newspaper before you put down mulch.
- You can use foam packing peanuts in the bottom of large pots to save on soil and to help with drainage. This keeps them out of the landfill and it will help to keep potted plants well-drained.
- Plants like rhubarb and asparagus will come back year after year. All you have to do is fertilize and keep the weeds out. I add heavy mulch once they are up and growing and this keeps the weeds out. Rhubarb pie is so delicious. I like it mixed with just-picked strawberries.
- When you plant things like radishes or carrots, mix the seeds with powdered, unflavored jello. Add three tablespoons of gelatin to one pack of seeds, then plant. The gelatin will provide the seedlings with needed nitrogen. If you don’t believe it, you can try an experiment: plant some with and some without. The ones planted with gelatin will be much healthier than those planted without.
- Plant one long, wide row with crops like radicchio, white beets, bok choy, bulb fennel, celeriac, and escarole. This way, you can get to experiment with a wide variety of tastes.
- You should plan to grow crops that store well, like dry beans, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and butternut winter squash. You just harvest and store these items in a cool dry place and they will last through the winter. Butternut squash and shallots allow you to enjoy food from your garden all winter long.
- You can use a small greenhouse or handmade cold frame to grow and harvest radishes and lettuce all winter long, especially in the American south.
- Keep in mind when laying out your garden that tomatoes and peppers must be planted where they receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. You cannot grow tomatoes or peppers even in partial shade.
- Ideally, your entire vegetable garden should get at least 8 hours of full sun a day. Most vegetables won’t do well even in partial shade, so be sure to plan your garden where it will get as much sun as possible.
- For corn, do like the Native Americans did and plant pole beans near each cornstalk as soon as it is a foot high. When the beans come up, encourage them to grow up and around the stalks. You can plant pumpkins down the middle of your corn rows—this way, you can use the same ground to grow multiple crops.
- If you want to grow really huge pumpkins, remove all but one or two pumpkins per plant and be sure that your plants get an abundance of water and nutrients. I use miracle grow potting soil for this. I use post hole diggers to dig holes that are two feet deep for the pumpkin plants. I usually end up with healthy plants with huge pumpkins on them.
- Did you know that you can grow luffa gourds and have your own natural sponges that are better than any dish sponge you can buy? Plant them in full sun and allow them to mature completely. In the fall, dry out the gourd and cut the shell away. You’ll end up with luffa sponges you can use to wash your dishes with (or your body in the bathtub). And they are environmentally friendly.
- You can easily grow birdhouses in your garden. All kinds of birds will make nests in gourds, and your kids will love the fact that you’re growing birdhouses in your garden.
Expert Tips on Watering, Tending, Composting, Harvesting, and Storing
- If you want to harvest your vegetables early, plant radishes, sweet peas, beans, squash, and cucumbers.
- If you find your green onions developing seed pods before the onions are mature, cut them off with scissors and the onions will keep developing larger onions.
- Never add mulch to plants your going to winter over until after the first frost has occurred. If you add it sooner, you may be providing insects with warmth and shelter from the cold.
- Put a ball of gardening twine in a clay flower pot with a hole in the bottom. Bring the end of the twine out the hole and turn the pot over. Put it in a convenient place in the garden and you’ll always have gardening twine available when you need it.
- Try to plan to harvest your vegetables in the morning when the veggies are packed with nutrients. You can preserve the flavor and nutrients of leafy green vegetables by chilling them in the refrigerator, but don’t put onions or tomatoes in there. If you do, they will lose some of their flavor.
- You can of course build bamboo teepees and grow pole beans up and over them. Make them really large and well-secured at the bottom and you can step inside the bean teepee to pick your crop.
- You can grow and enjoy a mixture of baby greens. As soon as they are a few inches high, harvest them with scissors.
- If you harvest your squash on a regular basis, when they’re still small, you’ll be rewarded with twice as many squash as you would have if you allowed the squash to mature. They are so delicious when the seeds in the squash are very small.
- Use a barrel and add sheep, cow, or rabbit manure to it, then top it off with water. Stir it every day for a week and then strain off the water and give it to your vegetable plants. The plants will get a boost and they will be a lot more healthy.
- Water your garden wisely. Never water in full sun. Water before the sun comes up or after it has set. Consider watering with a good quality sprinkler after the sun has set or late at night. Your garden will get a lot more water this way and it will be a few hours before the sun comes up to dry up the water.
- Harvest and freeze your garden in small batches as it gets ripe. If you do this, you will lose much less of your vegetables. You can, for example, put chopped peppers, cubes of summer squash, green beans, and cut-off sweet corn into ziplock plastic bags and toss them into the freezer. Use a permanent marker to mark the contents of each bag. You can freeze bags of mixed veggies this way and then use them in the winter to make delicious soups or stews.
- You can if you wish let your cayenne pepper turn red on the plant and then pick it. As soon as you pick it use a needle and thread and string the red pods on a long string. When you have a full thread of the red cayenne hang it up in a cool dry place and let it dry completely. You can use the dried cayenne to season foods, stews and soups with. As soon as the pods get red pick them off the plant so the plant will keep producing more peppers. You can run the dried peppers through the food processor but wear plastic kitchen gloves and a face mask while you do it. You can make the red dried cayenne peppers into a fine powder this way that you can store in a tightly covered container or you can put it into a large shaker to shake it out on foods or in your cooking.
- Most in-ground plants need one to two inches of water a week. Buy a rain gauge so you can keep a eye on how much natural moisture you’re getting. If your soil feels moist to the touch, it’s okay, but if you have dry, powdery soil, you need to water. Just be sure to water with a soaking sprinkler and do it when their is no direct sun. The ideal time to water is before the sun comes up or after it goes down.
- Every year in the late fall or winter, work well-aged manure and compost into your soil with a garden tiller. Be sure that any manure you add is very well-rotted or it will burn your plants and kill them. You can put green rabbit manure in the hole under tomatoes and peppers. I always make use of my rabbit manure this way.
- If your rhubarb sends up flower stalks, cut them off close to the plant to encourage it to grow foliage and not flowers.
- If you grow herbs like basil, cut the top third of the plant off every time it tries to bloom. This will encourage the plant to keep putting on more foliage which you can dry and use in the kitchen. If you’re going to be using dried herbs sooner rather than later, store them in a brown paper bag tightly closed in the freezer.
- If you have lots of fall leaves, don’t discard them. Instead, put them into a big compost bin. In a year or two, you’ll have ideal compost.
- You’ll need a hoe to use to chop or hoe weeds up out of your garden. The one mistake a lot of gardeners make is letting the weeds get ahead of them and then they can never get back control of their vegetable garden. As soon as your vegetable plants are large enough, put mulch around them to prevent weeds from coming up.
Controlling Weeds Naturally
- Weed early and often. And once your vegetables start growing, mulch your plants heavily to keep the weeds out. Don’t let your garden get overrun with weeds or you will lose control.
- Put down sheets of newspaper around plants before you put down mulch. The newspaper will insure that weeds and grass can’t come up.
- Vinegar is a better weed killer than most commercial products, but don’t spray it on your vegetable plants because it will kill them, too. If you have weeds or grass coming up in cracks in cement, this is a ideal place to use vinegar, which will kill the weeds and grass and prevent them from coming back any time soon.
- If you’re using a string trimmer to cut weeds, spray the string on the weedeater with vegetable cooking oil and you won’t have problems with your string getting stuck or tangled.
Plant Sunflowers and Marigolds for the Ladybugs
Natural Ways to Control Bugs and Insects
- Consider putting up bat houses and provide them with a bird bath to get water from. Bats also eat huge amounts of bugs.
- Plant mint and marigold to repel unwanted insects.
- To keep the mosquito population down, be sure to turn over and empty out anything that is holding water. Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle.
- Always plant marigolds in your garden, especially near tomatoes and cabbage, because the marigolds will keep garden pests away.
- Do you have a problem with aphids? Use a strong insecticidal soap to get rid of them.
- Buy lady bugs and preying mantis egg sacs from your local garden supply store in the spring and turn them loose in your garden to declare an organic war on garden pests.
- Unless you’re terribly afraid of spiders, let those like the golden orb weaver spider (aka writing spider) make a home in your garden. Believe it or not, every year spiders eat an amount of bugs that exceeds the weight of all the humans on earth.
- Encourage toads to move into your garden by providing a small pool of water and clay flower pots for the toads to use as houses. Burn a light in the garden at night and they will show up to eat the insects and bugs attracted by that light. Provide toads with a cool, dark place and they will stick around for years, helping to keep your garden insect-free.
- Put up bird houses and the birds will build nests there and help to keep your garden free of bugs and insects.
- Put your garlic and onion skins into a gallon jar, cover with water, and seal tightly. Leave the skins soaking for a week and then strain off the water. Spray this water anywhere you have aphids or spiders and it will get rid of them quickly.
- If you have a slug and snail problem, put out small saucers of beer at sunset and they will crawl in overnight and drown. Simply discard the contents of each saucer the next morning.
- Put fabric tents up over cabbage plants, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli to keep away garden pests. Sprinkle cabbage heads with cinnamon and the cabbage worms will stay away.
- You can make your own insecticidal soap by mixing two tablespoons of liquid soap into a gallon of water. This is an excellent solution to get rid of aphids.
Some Insects (Like Ladybugs and Preying Mantis) Are Great for Your Garden
How Do I Keep Rabbits and Groundhogs Out of My Garden?
If you’re having a rodent problem, try sprinkling ground cayenne pepper around the base of the plants that are getting eaten. This will keep them away like nothing else ever will.
If you’re bothered by groundhogs, pour mothballs down their holes. Every time they dig a new hole, fill it up again. You can also pour red pepper flakes down their holes.
A Recipe for Rabbit-Repellant:
Mix up the below ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until very smooth. Spray the solution on and around the base of your garden plants and it will keep rabbits and groundhogs away.
- Two large raw eggs
- One quart warm water
- Two tablespoons Dawn dish detergent
- Two tablespoons hot sauce
Hair Works Great, Too
When you or a family member goes to the barber, save the hair and sprinkle it around the garden. This also will keep rabbits and groundhogs out.
Hair Is Great for the Garden
* Repellant of rodents, deer, and snails.
* Natural mulch that retains moisture, abets erosion, and deters weeds.
* Fertilizer that adds a significant amounts of nitrogen to the soil.
How Many Squash Plants Should I Grow?
- Six to eight squash plants will provide all the squash you need for a family of 4-6.
- You will need to keep the squash picked off and you’ll want to be gentle removing the mature squash. I like to pick mine while they are smaller than those you see in the store. If you do this, the plants will keep producing more blooms and more squash. If you stop picking the squash, they will get so big you can’t use them and the plants will stop producing more.
- You should water your squash plants before sunrise or after sunset. Never water in full sun or you will damage and possibly kill your plants.
- I like all varieties of squash, but I usually grow the yellow butternut and zucchini types every year. Both taste wonderful, are disease-resistant, and produce an abundance of squash.
Make Use of the Rainwater
You should set up a system where all the gutters on your house feed into a large tank that has a spigot where you can attach a hose and water your garden.
You’ll need very thin wire mesh over your rain barrels or water tank to keep mosquitoes out. It’s very important that you keep your gutters clean to prevent leaves and debris from clogging the system.
Suggestions for Growing Potatoes in a Grow Box
- You will want your potato plants to be about a foot apart in the potato grow box. This will ensure that they have room to grow and spread out.
- It’s very important to fill your grow box with a mixture of rich topsoil and well-rotted and aged compost or manure. You want to mix it at a ratio of 70 percent topsoil to 30 percent well-rotted compost or manure.
- When the plants are about a foot tall, give them more well-rotted manure or compost. Dig a hole about 4-6 inches around the plant and a foot deep and fill the hole with well-rotted manure or compost.
Gardening Tools and Tips
- In the spring, before you start using your shovels or hoes, coat them with car wax. If you do, the dirt will come off them easily and won’t cling. Repeat this about every month and the hoes and shovels will be so easy to use. You can ask for used peanut oil at local restaurants and cafes and use it for the same purpose. Apply a heavy coat in the fall to keep the tools from rusting over the winter.
- Buy a sturdy basket with a carrying handle to carry small garden tools to the garden.
- Invest in a couple of good-quality garden gloves. This will make it so much easier for you to work in your garden.
- You should know that the better your soil is, the better your garden will be. You should purchase and have a soil test kit to test your soil and know what you need to add to maximize your garden’s production.
- Always wash your garden tools and put them away in a cool, dry place. Spray the metal parts with vegetable oil in the late fall when you put your tools away for the winter.
How to Grow Fresh Vegetables if You Live in a Big City
How I Grow a Summer Vegetable Garden and You Can Too
Source : dengarden.com
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I waited until I had a chance to actually grow some plants in the tower before writing this review. Because I live in a warm area of the country (zone 9b) I’m able to have a year-round growing cycle, but I don’t have a lot of space.
This seemed perfect for me, so I’m recommending it to any prepper interested to grow its own food and save some space and money.
And here’s why!
Building the Tower
The tower itself was easy to assemble and get started and came with all of the necessary tools and parts, as you can see in the unboxing video below:
The drip system was logical and was organized in such a manner that it worked with gravity.
With a standard soil-based drip system, this usually means that the bottom plants don’t get as much water as the top plants, but since this system is made in such a way that it recycles water from top to bottom and uses a planting medium that’s much less dense than dirt, the water flows freely through it so that the bottom plants get just as much water as the top ones.
All in all, with the exception of the instructions, I’ve had a good experience with the tower.
Each section is well-constructed, as is the base, though I did mount it to a wall for stability. It’s easy to use and easy to assemble, and works with gravity.
It also uses very little water, which is, of course, a huge deal, especially in a drought or survival situation. I can even see where it would be perfectly good for indoor use if you were so inclined.
What to Plant
I chose to plant strawberries, green peppers, tomatoes, basil, and lettuce. I sprouted the seeds and grew them to seedlings, then transplanted them into the tower.
I had a mishap a few weeks after I planted my seedlings and lost the whole crop, so I had to start over. I’m now starting to see the beginnings of fruit from the new batch, so I’m excited to see what happens.
I also reevaluated the positioning of my plants the second time through. Originally, I’d place the tomatoes in the middle because I thought that it would be easier to stake them using the side of the tower and letting them grow down, but I rethought that and decided it would be better to have them on the far left so that I can use lattice to support the plants if need be.
If you’re looking for a great way to grow vertically in small spaces using very little water, this tower is a great option.
Click the banner below to grab this offer now!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Growing hydroponically sounds complicated and expensive, but it’s actually neither. All that it means is that you’re growing your plants without soil. I’ve seen examples of hydroponic systems made out of our favorite tool ever – a 5-gallon bucket.
I’ve also seen systems that are exactly what you imagine – tables and tables full of fancy equipment and mysterious-looking tools and chemicals.
Just like anything else, it’s just a matter of how complicated you really want to get.
Let me give you a quick rundown of what it’s all about though, and why you should consider it, then we’ll talk about why it’s a great partner for vertical gardening.
As we already determined, you don’t use soil. The entire system is based on the concept that the roots are freely flowing in the water. They’re not packed tightly in soil. Hydroponic plants grow 30-50 percent faster than their soil-grown sisters, are generally healthier, and produce more fruit.
This is likely because the extra oxygen in the water helps the plant absorb nutrients better, and the nutrients are readily available in the water/solution and the plant doesn’t have to work to extract it from soil. It uses the extra energy to grow and produce.
Use it Inside
Hydroponic growing is also good to use inside because you don’t have the dirt mess and the plants don’t have to struggle so much to get the nutrients that they need, so it’s easier for them to grow in a semi-challenging environment. It’s a great way to grow food in small spaces.
Vertical gardening and hydroponics also pair well because the drip-down system is an effective method of watering, and if you’re using a hydroponics system to catch the runoff, you’re saving a ton of water.
In a situation where fresh water is limited, that’s a huge benefit. As a matter of fact, in a world where soil is becoming depleted and water isn’t as plentiful as it used to be, vertical hydroponic gardening is seen by many as the method of future mass food production. Of course, their plans for world garden domination is a bit more complex, but it’s based on this theory.
Stack it Up – The Foundation of Both Ideas
Also, and this takes us to our next point, hydroponics systems are commonly used in a stacked fashion so that the water is drawn up from catch basin at the bottom and is released via drips onto the plants below. Then it drips from the top layer to the layer beneath, and so on until the water is back in the catch basin.
This makes hydroponics a great partner for vertical gardening.
Lighter and Portable
One problem that you often face with regular, dirt vertical gardening is that the wall is heavy and bulky, in large part because of the weight of the wet dirt.
With hydroponic vertical towers, you get rid of that.
There’s still some water weight, but unless you’re using gravel or sand to secure the roots, the weight is less.
This makes it more portable, too, especially if you use a well-contained system like Plug and Farm Towers. Portability is good for a couple of reasons.
If you need to move your vertical gardening wall or tower so that the plants are getting more or less light, or so that looters won’t know that you have food, then you want to be able to quickly and easily move the wall.
Know What You’re Eating
Another huge benefit is that you know exactly what’s going into your plant. Though you can buy bags of soil to grow your plants in, there’s no way for you to know what’s in that dirt. The same goes for using plain old yard soil. There could be residual fertilizers, pesticides, or acid rain in it and you’ll never know.
When you use hydroponics, you know exactly what your plants are coming into contact with. Enough said about that.
Best of Both Worlds
Finally, the “piece de resistance”, so to speak, about combining vertical gardening with hydroponics is that you get the benefits of the expanded growing space that comes with vertical gardening with the faster growth and higher yield of hydroponics. Bam! That’s what does it for me.
Vertical gardening and hydroponics are like peas and carrots – different, but when you bring them together, they’re a delicious combination that just works!
Start growing your own survival food without soil or space! You only need 10 minutes per day to take care of your fresh food.
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
As preppers, we all share the common goal of being able to take care of ourselves and our families in worst-case scenarios.
Having a ready supply of nutritious food is most certainly at the top of that list. And since we don’t all have the acreage (or even the yard) to grow a huge, traditional garden, enter vertical gardening!
Vertical gardening is exactly what the name implies – you’re growing your plants vertically instead of on a flat surface (the ground). This is great because it allows for growing fresh produce even if you don’t have any space other than a wall or a porch. You can even grow a vertical garden inside!
Whether you have a fence around your yard or you only have a space on the porch or even a wall inside your house, you can grow a vertical garden. Living in urban areas doesn’t mean that you can’t grow your own food – it just means that you have to get creative about it.
If you have even a little bit of a yard, you’ll be surprised how much you can grow using the vertical gardening method – the options are practically limitless. You can even grow plants out the top AND bottom of the planters!
If you only have a single closet or small wall in your apartment, you’re still in luck, though you’ll have to make sure that you have plenty of light either in the form of sunlight or grow lights. Herbs are great to grow vertically, as are tomatoes, strawberries, peppers, onions, and green leafy vegetables.
Can be Used for Privacy
If you have a porch or yard, build your vertical garden in such a way that you block vision of your house. If you use a solid back that faces out from your house, people won’t even know what you’re doing!
Of course, you may not want to advertise what you’re doing, so grow it somewhere that people can’t look over your fence.
Works Well with Hydroponics
Growing plants hydroponically is a great way to increase your produce yield while decreasing your water consumption. It also takes the guesswork out of what you’re exposing your plants to, and how many nutrients the plant is getting, because you control both of those conditions.
Plants grown hydroponically, such as in the Plug and Farm Towers we tested, and have been shown to be healthier, grow faster, and produce a bigger yield. This is likely because water is oxygen rich, which helps the plants absorb nutrients, and they don’t have to harvest the nutrients out of the soil, so they can use that energy to grow instead.
You can Grow without Sharing What You’re Doing
Because you don’t need to lay everything out in the yard, you can grow in places that your neighbors won’t know about. You can grow a ton of vegetables on vertical growing racks inside your house. If you decide to go with a hydroponics system, you won’t have a dirt mess, but you can grow them in soil just as well.
Other places that make good hiding places include old sheds or barns that back up to a place in your yard that’s out of site. Just remember that you need plenty of light no matter where you plant them.
Grow Year Round
If you decide to grow a vertical garden inside, you can have year-round fresh herbs, veggies, and fruits. They do well in greenhouses, too. This is yet another advantage you’ll have over your neighbors if stuff goes south in the winter.
You’ll have access to fresh produce right there in your guest bedroom. Don’t be shy about putting a vertical garden in your living room, either. They look beautiful and make the house smell good, especially if you’re growing herbs.
You can Grow a Variety of Produce
The good thing about growing up instead of out is that you can have 7 or 8 different types of plants in an area that’s only 8 feet long and a foot or so wide. Nearly everybody has that much space!
An advantage to this is that if you don’t have access to a good food supply, having several different types of plants growing in what space you have will allow for you to have a variety of nutrients. Go for different colors because each color has different nutrients – red, yellow, orange, green – they all provide different nutrients that will help keep you and yours well-nourished.
Easy to Care for by Anybody
It’s hard to get down on your hands and knees to root around in a garden, pulling weeds in the sun and making sure the soil stays loose. With vertical gardening, it’s all right there in front of you. You can sit on a chair to take care of your plants if you need to. And harvesting is easy, too. For that matter, if you plan it right, you can make your vertical garden portable.
Another way that vertical gardening is easier is that, especially if you’re growing hydroponically, there are minimal weeds and you don’t have to worry about squatting over to take care of your vining plants.
This is one of my favorite reasons to grow vertically – the plants aren’t dragging on the ground and the fruits aren’t sitting in dirt, so they aren’t as prone to disease and rot.
There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than working hard to nurture plants all the way from seed to harvest just to lose part of it because it was tucked under leaves where we couldn’t see it, and rotted. That’s not a problem with vertical gardening.
I’m obviously a fan of vertical gardening because of where I currently live and have benefited from it myself.
Remember that every survival plan should have food at its core. With only 10 minutes per day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.
Click the banner below to grab this offer and start growing your own survival food!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Hydroponics, the process of growing plants without soil, is gaining momentum throughout the gardening community for many different reasons.
The water requirements are stupendously less than growing in soil, you don’t have to worry about what chemicals have leached into your soil, and you can grow healthier plants that yield more fruit in less space, both indoors and out.
Though many people are vaguely interested in the concept, most people write it off as being too technical, difficult, or expensive. The truth is that none of those terms apply, or at least they don’t have to.
You can start a hydroponic garden for very little money and it takes practically no effort to maintain it, at least in comparison to a soil garden.
Start Your Seeds
Regardless of whether you are planning to grow your plants in soil or in a hydroponic system, starting them from seeds is basically the same process. You need to choose a medium to start the seeds. You can use just about anything that you want – rockwool, grow cubes, or even plain dirt. The important thing is that you get your seeds to grow to seedlings.
There are also mediums that support starting your plants right in the system from seeds. In that case, don’t worry about the seedlings! The only problem that I’ve heard about from folks that do this is the same one that I’ve experienced when starting my garden using only seeds – they’re not all going to sprout, so you may have dense areas and sparse areas.
Regardless of whether you’re putting seeds or seedlings in your system, it’s a good idea to start your own seedlings.
Seeds are cheap, you can choose what you want to grow instead of depending on what plants the store has available, and your system won’t be contaminated with chemicals, pests, or diseases that may accompany commercial plants.
Choose a System
You also need to choose a system. For your first time, it’s probably a good idea to start small so that you can make your mistakes and learn the ropes on a small, manageable scale. There are several different types of systems, but the one that we’ve found to be most efficient on a small scale is a drip system.
Drip systems use a submersible pump placed in a basin on the bottom that pulls the water up to an irrigation tube above the plants. The water drips down into the pan(s) and trickles back down into the catch basin and is then recirculated. It’s efficient and simple to use.
NOTE: Very few commercial hydroponics systems (or DIY ones for that matter) operate without electricity. In the case of an EMP or a complete grid failure, your system will require manual watering, so choose carefully if those situations are a concern for you. You’ll want to choose a system such as a vertical gardening tower that makes it easy to water without an operational pump.
We tested the Plug & Farm Tower system that’s great for both beginners and experienced growers and works well indoors or out, though it does require electricity. There are many different options out there, or you can build your own.
What Can You Grow Hydroponically
Well, just about anything, in theory. After all, you’re providing everything any living plant needs to thrive – water, nutrients, light.
However, there are some plants that are more challenging than others. For instance, root vegetables are a challenge and require a system that’s deep enough to grow them. You may want to get a bit of experience before you jump off that particular log.
Vining plants and light-weight fruits grow well hydroponically, too, and did well in the tower we tested. You can even start fruit trees, then plant them into soil when they’re big enough.
Now, for the system that we tested, vining plants, herbs and green leafy vegetables worked, but not root vegetables.
If you’re starting your seeds outside of your system and transplanting it as a seedling, it’s a simple process. Germinate your seeds. You can do this by placing them in a grow cube or in a paper towel or baggy.
If you use the grow cube, just keep it damp with water or your hydroponic solution until your seedling pops through – anywhere from two to four weeks.
If you’re germinating the seeds before putting them in a growing medium, put them in a damp paper towel on a plate and keep the towel damp. Your seed will germinate in just a few days.
Now that you have your seedlings, you’re ready to transplant them to your system so that they can grow into delicious plants.
This process is going to be determined by the system that you’re using but will consist of placing the seedling so the roots are in the water/solution and the plant top is not.
A Note about Growing Mediums
You can use many different mediums in your hydroponics setup including gravel, sand, coconut shells (they don’t break down easily) or just about anything else that is food-safe and won’t decompose.
If you choose to use gravel, be sure to choose stones that won’t leech minerals into the water, because then you’re affecting the nutrients available to your plants.
The entire purpose of the medium is to support the roots in a way that water can flow freely around them, so don’t use mediums such as mulch that are going to break down to, well, soil.
Growing Your Plants
Now, your plants are in your hydroponics system, so what next?
Make sure that they stay hydrated and are getting the nutrients that they need! They should be watered thoroughly several times daily to prevent the roots from drying out, and the automatic drip system is great for this.
Once your plants begin to grow in earnest, you’ll need to provide support for vining plants. Trellises are great for this.
Keep your plants from dragging the ground in order to avoid rot and exposure to disease. Prune them properly and watch them grow!
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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard of hydroponic planting. Even if you did live in a cave, you probably saw an example of it when you saw that little plant growing in a puddle of water in the rock. That’s what hydroponic growing is – it’s simply growing plants without soil.
But why should you try it? That’s what we’re going to talk about today.
When you think about hydroponically growing plants, you probably get this vision of complicated systems and expensive grow lights, but that’s not the case. Growing plants using a hydroponic system is actually easier that using a soil-based system, as you’ll see in a bit.
You can use water alone, gravel, sand, coconut husks, or even artificial materials to secure the roots of your plants, but the idea is to choose a medium that allows the water to flow freely around the roots of the plant.
Here are just a few advantages of growing hydroponic plants.
Plants Grow Faster and Yield More Fruit
Studies show that plants grown hydroponically grow 30-50 percent faster than soil-grown plants and also yield more fruit. This is probably because there is a constant supply of water and the nutrients are delivered straight to the roots throughout the day.
Since the plant doesn’t have to search through the soil and break the nutrients down in order to absorb them, it’s free to use that extra energy to grow and produce.
Also, there is generally more oxygen in water than there is in soil. This helps the plant absorb nutrients faster and it also promotes root growth.
Since you’re controlling the medium and you only plant what you want in it, you’re not going to be dealing with weeds, and if you do manage to get a couple weed seeds blown or carried in, they’re easy to pluck out, roots and all.
This saves you time, and prevents the plant from fighting with weeds for nutrients and water.
You Control the Nutrients and pH
One of the biggest problems that we face when we grow plants in dirt is that we’re often at the mercy of the quality of the soil. Without sending it off to be tested, it’s tough to tell what nutrients are in your soil and how acidic it is.
Since some plants prefer a more acidic soil and others prefer neutral or base soil, you’ll find that some plants grow better in your soil than others.
With a hydroponics system, you take all of the guesswork out of the growing process because you control the amount and type of nutrients as well as the pH. This is another reason that plants are healthier and more productive.
You Know What you’re Eating
You really don’t know what’s in your soil even if you’ve lived there for 20 years because pesticides, chemicals, and even acid rain can contaminate it with all sorts of harmful materials. When you grow your plants using the hydroponics method, you know exactly what’s in the food that you eat.
Because there’s no dirt to mess with, hydroponic systems are exceptionally easy to manage indoors or in a greenhouse, which means that you can have fresh produce year-round.
If you get sick of growing tomatoes, just switch them out and grow some basil to go with them. Since your plants will also yield more fruit, you’ll really ramp up your production.
We just mentioned that hydroponic systems are easily adapted to indoor growth, and there is more than one reason why that’s a good thing. First, you don’t have to go out in the rain or heat to tend your plants, or look at a snow-covered, barren garden in the winter.
That’s great, but what about security? If you’re growing plants inside, nobody will know what you’re doing. In hard times, when you’re trying to survive, this can be a deal-changer. And you don’t necessarily need much room for an indoor hydroponics system, either.
As a matter of fact, we’ve tried on, the Plug & Farm Towers can be mounted against a wall and only extends about 6 inches from the wall. It’s only a few feet wide and tall, but is designed so that you maximize your growing space. You can use it in an apartment or even a slightly large closet as long as you have the necessary lighting.
Unlike traditional soil growing techniques, hydroponic systems lend themselves nicely to growing in stacked trays. I’ve seen many setups that range in size from the Plug & Farm Towers to ones that consist of 5 or 6 layers of trays that are several feet wide with a couple of feet between each layer.
If you use a gravity system, you can get quite clever with your angles so that each layer trickles down to the next, then is fed back up to the top again. Even using a hydroponics system that large, you’ll still be using very little water in the scheme of things.
Soil Quality Doesn’t Matter
This one sort of goes without saying since you’re not using soil. To drive home the point, though, I live in Florida and the soil is extremely sandy, with just a bit of loam on the top. Tomatoes grow OK here in that, but they’re merely compared to ones that I grew in the rich soil of West Virginia.
However, if I use a hydroponics system, I don’t have to worry about soil quality. If you pair this with an indoor growing system, you can grow pretty much anything.
Lower Water Requirements
Any plant needs water because that’s how it absorbs nutrients.
Now, of course we can’t give an exact number here because the US has such a wide variety of soils and rainfall amounts, but in soil that’s not too wet or too dry, and grown in conditions that aren’t miserably hot with low humidity, it will take about 20 gallons of water per week to water a 32 square foot garden. That’s a garden that’s roughly 5 feet x 6 feet.
Now, if you have to water an area that large using a hydroponics system, you’re going to use as little as 1/4 of that. Maybe less if you’re filtering and oxygenating the water, because it’s a re-usable source.
In other words, with a soil garden, you’re going to be using 80 gallons per week, but in a hydroponics garden, you’re going to be using that initial watering (5 – 7 gallons) over and over again.
When you’re in a survival situation, that’s a huge difference in the amount of something that you need to live! In essence, that saves you an extra 15 gallons just in the first week, and, even assuming you lose a couple of gallons to evaporation weekly, you’ve still saved at least 40 gallons. That’s enough water for almost two people over a month!
Diseases and Pests are Easier to Get Rid Of
The way that many diseases and pests attack your plants to begin with is via soil. So, since you’re eliminating soil, you’re also eliminating much of the risk of your plants becoming infected. And one of the main reasons that pests and diseases are so hard to get rid of if you DO get them in soil-grown plants is because they hide in the soil and keep reinfecting your plants.
With a hydroponics system, there is no dirt to hold the pest or disease, so they’re easier to get rid of if you are unfortunate enough to contract them in the first place.
Since you’re no longer dependent on soil quality or large land areas, and you can easily use a hydroponics system to grow year-round in a greenhouse or indoors, you can grow basically whatever you want.
You can also experience three or even four growth cycles (depending on what you’re growing), so even if you have a smaller growing area, you can grow one plant this cycle, and another plant the next cycle.
Physically Easier to Grow and Harvest
You can grow your plants at whatever height is comfortable to you – just build your system accordingly. That means that you don’t have to bend over on your hands and knees like you do when growing a traditional garden.
You don’t have to weed the garden, either, at least not on any serious level. If you do need to pick out a few, they pull out easily because their roots aren’t buried in dirt.
Now that you have a few really good reasons to try a hydroponics system to grow your fruits and vegetables, get started! We’ve provided a link to one that we’ve personally tested. It’s efficient, easy to assemble, and simple to use.
It’s also big enough to make a nice wall garden outside, but small enough to use inside even a small apartment. And with only 10 minutes a day you’ll never have to worry about feeding your family again.
Click the banner below to grab your own survival farm!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
Survival Guides are a dime-a-dozen, but good ones, the real save-your-life guides are as rare as hens teeth. Luckily the two new plastic-covered foldouts from Jason Schwartz are an outstanding and necessary contribution to your survival kit that literally could save your life. For less than the cost of a box of American made ammo, you could outfit your survival gear with some to-the-point literature can make a difference when on an afternoon hike, or when the S really hits the fan.
By Doc Montana, a Contributing Author of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog
Published in 2016 by the ultimate pocket guide company, the Waterford Press, these guides join an ever growing list of speciality reference booklets. “Putting the World in your Pocket” is Waterford’s motto, and it could be true given they’ve had over 500 publications with over five million sales.
The two water-resistant guides under discussion are Edible Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains, and Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains. Both guides are in the classic Waterford six-fold design leading to 12 individual vertically oriented pages. The full-color guides are printed on white paper and laminated heavily with factory-installed bends between pages.
The pictures are a godsend and make for fast field ID of plants. The brief descriptions confirm the identity and instructions follow for applying the part of the plant in the most useful form. Some are used as tea, some as topical, and some eaten outright.
The philosophy behind the guides according to their author is to, “provide a set of handy, yet realistic reference guides that will help hikers and backpackers lost in the Rocky Mountains forage for food, or treat injuries and ailments using wild plants and trees.” An assumption the author makes is that most survival situation are from three days to a week. This is reflected in the use of often low-calorie plants to get you to a better place and keep your spirits up.
In my own testing of the guides, I wandered my million acre backyard and looked for both plants listed in the guides and to see if a plant was in the guide. In most cases the obvious plants were covered, while locating specific plants took some time. A suggestion, if space permitted, would be to mention common locations of plants if they exist. Like kinnikinnick, dandelion, and thistle on old roads where the soil had been compacted decades earlier.
Knowledge is Power and Power Corrupts
Poaching plants is easily as abundant as poaching animals. While the hunting laws don’t often address North American medicinal plants, there is the concern that someone with a little knowledge and a bunch of free time might pillage the local area of important plants. And in one rare case with the Curly-Cup Gumweed, there is a plant “species of concern” because it resembles a medicinal plant mentioned in the guide known as the Howell’s Gumweed. There is a very slim chance in a small region of the west that the more rare related species (Howell’s Gumweed) will be over harvested by an overzealous collector, but human nature is anything but predictable.
Related: Bushcraft Mushrooms
According to Schwartz, the highlighted plants were chosen for the wide distribution, easily identifiable traits, and ubiquitous presence across landscape and seasons. So with that said, you can take Rocky Mountains with a grain of salt. You will encounter most of the plants in these guides well outside the rugged terrain of the west, but not so much on the plains, east coast, or desert America, of course.
The Saguache County Colorado Sheriff’s Department found the guides so particularly helpful that they adopted them as essential equipment to have when backcountry survival might be an issue.
The Doctor Is In
Half the pages of the Medicinal Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains IDs 18 plants of which seven are trees. The other half of the guide explains treatment options, medicinal preparations including infusions, tea, decoction, juicing as well as plant feature identification and author bio.
Half the Edible Survival Plants of the Rocky Mountains IDs 19 plants of which three are trees. And the reverse six pages of the over half include survival basics, 16 images of types of edible plants, the steps of the Universal Edibility Test, general plant preparation and eating practices, and a note on edible plant myths.
Read Also: Tree Bark as an Emergency Food
Each entry for a plant across both guides includes a description, the habitat, harvesting tips, preparation (in the Survival guide), and comments and cautions. I had to smile when reading about the Ponderosa Pine in the Survival guide. Jason Schwartz is a bushcrafter through and through. In the middle of the description Jason uses 15 words to explain baton. The baton, by the way and in Jason’s words is, “an arm’s length branch used as a mallet to pound the back of the knife.” Once a teacher, always a teacher.
Here’s the deal with these guides. They cost little and weigh almost nothing. They are filled with lifesaving options for when you really need them, and you don’t even need to read them ahead of time (but I would suggest it). And anyone living within 200 miles east or west of the Continental Divide should spring for the $8 apiece and put a set in every bug out bag and car or truck glove box. Better yet, head outdoors and familiarize yourself with the local edible and medicinal flora. You’ll thank me and Jason later.
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There is absolutely nothing like having fresh medicinal plants that you can pick and use right on the spot, when you need them.
Plus, you can dry them, and then use a mortise and pestle to grind them and encapsulate your own medicinal plants. You know they were never sprayed with pesticides. And you know all about the nutrients that were fed to them.
You can grow them in decorative planters in the kitchen if you have the lighting for it.
Many people set up a multi-tiered rack that allows planter pots to be set at a forward-facing angle. This allows you to put the back of it against a wall, and the plants grow at a forward-facing angle.
Other people like to use wire hangers and hang the pots from a wall in rows or a pattern. If you’re going to do this, then test the strength of your wall.
If you have a sunroom or a sunroom-like area, these make great growing spaces, too.
Here are seven of the best medicinal plants you can grow indoors:
1. St John’s Wort. This plant will grow year-round with a grow light in the morning or evening to extend the growing hours of the day. If you find that it’s not flowering, then it may need longer hours of light.
It’s a great-looking plant with attractive yellow flowers and can really brighten up a home.
- May be as effective as some prescription medication for treating depression1.
- Helps alleviate the symptoms of PMS and menopause2.
- May help with the symptoms of ADD (attention deficit disorder)2.
2. Thyme. This is a hearty plant that can be used in cooking, as it’s one of the most popular herbs around. It’s hearty, grows pretty easily and doesn’t require much care at all.
- Thyme has been shown to aid in the relief of chest and respiratory problems, including coughs, bronchitis and chest congestion3.
- Thyme has been shown to have a strong antimicrobial activity, neutralizing such bacteria and fungi as Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, Escherichia coli and Shigella sonnei4.
3. Sage. Its genus name, Salvia, means “to heal.” As long as you give it light, adequate water and good soil, you almost can’t kill it. Sage is one of the herbs that makes everyone look like they’ve got a green thumb.
- May lessen the symptoms of Alzheimer’s 5.
- Has been shown to lower both blood glucose and cholesterol5.
4. Parsley. Too many people think of parsley as a garnish on their plate. But parsley is one of the best green foods around.
It grows rather easily, and you shouldn’t have a problem so long as you keep its soil damp.
- Can help with bad breath6.
- Can help detoxify the brain of ammonia, thereby reducing the feelings of a hangover.
- May be a potent anticancer agent and has been shown to be chemo-protective7.
5. Marigold. A truly unique and beautiful flowing medicinal, marigold will grow with only just a little bit of TLC needed.
- The flowers have long been touted to posses near legendary anti-inflammatory properties that have shown to fight eczema and allergic reactions.
- Relieves pain of arthritis.
- Can be made into tinctures and ointments that have shown to sooth rashes, bed sores, diaper rash, sun burns and other types of burns.
6. Lavender. This is one of the most fragrant medicinal plants you can grow in your home. Lavender is a little more work to grow inside and it needs a little more space.
- Put lavender in your pillow to have a restful sleep and avoid insomnia8.
- Helps with nervousness, headache, stomach nerves, restlessness and stress8.
7. Echinacea. Here you have the granddaddy of all medicinal plants. It grows easily, as long as you give it a grow light.
- Several studies show that Echinacea helps boost the immune10.
- Echinacea has shown to be very promising in treating most any kind of infection, from sinusitis to vaginal yeast infections to ear infections10.
- Shows promise in treating colon cancer and athlete’s foot10.
What plants would you add to the list? Share your tips in the section below:
- Kelm MA, Nair MG, Strasburg GM, DeWitt DL. Antioxidant and cyclooxygenase inhibitory phenolic compounds from Ocimum sanctum Linn. Phytomedicine 2000 Mar;7(1):7-13. 2000. PMID:12240.
- Bagamboula CF, Uyttendaeleand M, Debevere J. Inhibitory effect of thyme and basil essential oils, carvacrol, thymol, estragol, linalool and p-cymene towards Shigella sonnei and S. flexneri. Food Microbio 2004 Feb;21 (1):33-42. 2004.
Growing your own food makes you more independent, helps you save a lot of money and allows you to enjoy fresh ingredients any time of the year.
It may be challenging to start growing your own food, but you will thank yourself later, in a survival situation, when all the shelves will be empty and you will have fresh crops to feed the bellies of your loved ones.
Starting your own survival gardening is on your resolutions list for this year? For this week’s Prep Blog Review I’ve gathered five articles on this topic.
If you have other suggestions, please share them in the comment section.
- Eight Efficient Food Crops To Grow
“Becoming self-sufficient is one of the many good reasons to want to grow your own vegetables. Nothing beats home grown food and for many people, there’s a great appeal to grow efficient food crops. The food you grow is cheaper, fresher and often better tasting than the one you get from the supermarket.
Starting your own garden may be challenging and most people give up after the first try. To boost your confidence, you should start by growing efficient food crops. After you acquire the proper experience, you can try growing more challenging crops.”
Read more on Prepper’s Will.
- Plant These Edible Flowers in Your Garden
“The first edible flower I ever ate was a nasturtium. We had giant nasturtium plants growing in our herb garden, nearly taking over, in fact, and decided we would start consuming the orange and yellow blossoms and leaves. They have a peppery flavor with a little bit of a kick. It’s always fun to discover plants in your own backyard you can eat.
Nasturtiums aren’t the only edible flower that is commonly found in backyards and growing wild. Here is a list of some of the most common. This list is by no means complete, but is meant to be a starting point for further study of the flowers you have in your yard. Just because you see the name of a flower on this list, do not assume you can run right out and start eating them.”
Read more on Preparedness Advice.
- Indoor Gardening Ideas
“There are certain times of the year where, no matter your climate, you’ll have a hard time getting vegetables to grow in your outdoor garden.
However, this doesn’t mean that you have to go without fresh, home-grown veggies, or buy them from the grocery story.
Instead, you can grow some vegetables indoors, wherever you have space. Here’s how.”
Read more on Be Self Sufficient.
- Container Gardening: Grow a Fig Tree in a Pot
“Tight on garden space? Maybe you live in an apartment with only a balcony for growing food. Maybe you have a rental place and you can’t dig up the back yard. Or just maybe you have a postage stamp yard with no room for a garden. Fig trees grown in containers may be ideal for your limited space or limited opportunity situation.”
Read more on Attainable-Sustainable.
- 3 Great Ways to Stop Weeds This Year Without Using Harsh Chemicals
“Weeds can ruin more than the just the look of your property. By robbing the soil of vital nutrients, they also wreak havoc on yields in the garden, and can keep flowerbeds from staying healthy and vibrant.
But before all hope is lost, there are actually some great ways to reduce or even eliminate your weed woes completely. Even better, none require the use of harsh, man-made, synthetic chemicals. Here are 3 of our favorites.”
Read more on Old World Farms Garden.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.
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Droughts are becoming more common. The impact of droughts on food production is very real. After all, plants need water to grow. But, you don’t always need a ton of water to grow food. That’s where low-water crops come in. They can produce food for your family to eat without taking nearly as much water.
If you don’t have a large water stockpile, or you are concerned about a coming drought, it might be time for you to switch to a low-water garden.
Low-water gardens are designed to receive significantly less water than a traditional one. The soil, coverings, and seeds are all meant to work together to minimize your water needs.
Also known as dry farming, this method is a return to the roots of agriculture for many locations. Before dams and irrigation innovations, farmers didn’t have the access to water. They planted, gave an initial soaking, and then let the plants tend to fetching water for themselves.
Winter is a great time to plan your low-water garden. But, no matter the season, here are some essentials to consider when working on this type of garden.
The Soil Is Essential
The quality of soil in your garden will help stretch the length of time between watering sessions. You’ll want plenty of compost and organic material in your soil.
This will help absorb water and slowly release it. You’ll also want some coarse sand in your soil. Sand helps draw in any moisture that does fall, so you’ll maximize the benefit of rain.
Clay is another component of low-water garden soil. The clay will hold the water, and slowly give it to the plants’ root systems.
You’ll want to thoroughly mix your soil, incorporating all the elements evenly. That way all your plants will grow well. Loose soil is recommended for this type of gardening, so tilling your soil to a depth of four to six inches will help.
Unfortunately, making the exact soil combination that you need for your climate will take time. There isn’t one perfect formula that’ll work everywhere.
You Can’t Skip the Mulch
In a low-water garden, mulch isn’t just a suggestion. It’s essential. You need this soil covering to ensure the water stays where it belongs.
Without mulch, you’ll lose precious water to run-off. Evaporation will also be a problem.
A good layer of organic mulch prevents both of those from occurring. It’ll keep the water around the plants longer, and allow it to soak deeply into the soil.
What Plants to Choose
When picking plants, be sure to check out the hardiness zone recommendations so you don’t plant something that won’t grow well in your area. There are a variety of crops to pick from that don’t take as much water.
You can also have a long-term vision when creating a low-water garden. If you have plenty of water now, you can plant some perennials that will take water initially. Once those plants are established, their water needs drop substantially.
For both long and short term planning, here are some crops to consider:
If a drought happens, you won’t be able to depend on large grain producers to keep on growing. Even if you don’t regularly plant grains, you’ll want to have some low-water seeds stored on hand. That way you have them when you need them.
A bonus with these grains is they’re easier to harvest than wheat. Many take minimal processing before being ready to eat. These grains would be a good addition to your low-water garden crops:
- Field Corn
Vegetables are a great way to add variety and nutrients to your diet. Here are some excellent options for a low-water garden.
- Jerusalem artichoke (this takes more water the first year, but once it’s established it needs very little.)
- Sweet potatoes
- Swiss chard
- Asparagus (another long-term crop)
- Drought tolerant zucchini
To add some natural sweetness to your diet, be sure to include some fruits in your low-water garden. Here are some plants that grow well with little water.
- Most pit fruit trees (once established)
- Rhubarb (once established)
Many legumes don’t require much water. Consider adding these to your garden:
- Black eyed peas
- Tepary beans
If you head to a natural area nearby, what plants are you going to see thriving? Chances are many of those are wild edibles. Take time to learn about plants native to your region.
Some of the plants considered weeds by many will be the perfect purposeful addition to your low-water garden. After all, no one is out in the woods irrigating the weeds. They just grow.
If you can’t find any seeds for these plants, try to dig up some established ones and transplant them. That way you’ll get a variety that grows well in your area.
You might even have a separate area where you encourage these plants to grow. That way they don’t take over your dedicated garden space. That will also help spread out your gardening efforts and minimize your risk of losing everything from theft. Hidden food sources are wonderful!
- Lamb’s quarter
- Stinging nettles
Shopping for Seeds
When selecting varieties, you’ll want to go with heirloom seeds. Many modern versions of these plants have been altered and turned into very needy seeds. This is especially true with corn.
Back in the day, irrigation options were very limited. Plants often didn’t get much water unless it rained. You want plants that survived then—not the needy variations humans have turned those plants into.
The one exception would be plants that have been selectively bred for dry-land planting. You can often find drought-resistant varieties of many of your favorites.
Another tip is to plant mini-varieties of the plants you most want to grow. For instance, it takes much less water to grow a cherry tomato than it does a beefsteak. Planting a few of your favorite water-loving plants in the mini-form will help you keep from feeling deprived with your garden.
Save Your Seeds
By saving your own seeds each year, you’ll be selecting varieties that did the best in your soil. Over time, your seeds will be essential to increasing your yield. They are locally adapted plants that thrive in your garden.
The Native Americans knew much about growing food. One method they used is known as the three sisters. This method of companion planting grouped plants together to maximize their yield.
Corn, beans, and squash were the original three sisters. These crops work together in harmony. The beans give nitrogen to the soil, which the corn and squash need. The beans grow up on the tall corn stalks, reducing the need for additional scaffolding.
Finally, the low-lying squash leaves protect the soil from the sun’s rays and help ensure water doesn’t run-off.
Planting companion crops will also help you plant more in a smaller space. This is essential if you’re just getting your low-water garden established and don’t have much soil built up.
Give Plants Space
Because your dry land plants will need to establish a deep root system, you can’t plant individual plants or companion groupings as closely together as you do in a traditional garden. That means your yield won’t be the same.
When to Plant
Your soil needs to accumulate the winter moisture. This built-in reserve is what will get your plants through until harvest.
If you wait too long to plant, your soil will be too dry. Conversely, if you plant too early you risk a killing frost freezing your garden.
When you plant your seeds, you want the soil to be nice and moist. Keep an eye on both the weather and the soil. You’ll want to plant after the last killing frost, but before the daytime temperatures get so high that they dry up your soil.
Once planted, you need to seal in the moisture in the ground by applying a good layer of mulch. Have your mulch on hand and ready to go before you plant.
Caring for Your Low-Water Garden
Low-water gardens are easy to care for once they’re planted. You don’t want to water most of them, because you’ll risk cracking the dry soil. Cracked soil loses moisture much faster than soil that isn’t cracked.
Any watering that you do for your long-term plants that are just getting established needs to be done gently. You can’t turn a hose on full-blast. Rather, gently water the soil around the plant instead of the plant itself.
You don’t want to overwater any of the low-water varieties you are planting. Plants that don’t get watered will grow a deeper root system than ones that are frequently watered. You want to start your plants off trying to seek water from the ground.
Besides doing less watering, low-moisture gardens bring a couple of other benefits. They take much less time than a traditional garden.
For instance, you’ll notice that you won’t get as many weeds in a low-water situation once your plants are up. There just won’t be enough water for them to grow.
But, you’ll want to pluck out any weeds that do creep in. You’ll also want to be diligent about weeding as your plants are just sprouting. That way weeds aren’t competing with your plants for resources.
Many garden pests thrive in moist environments. They’ll often leave your dry land crops alone. So you’ll have fewer to deal with.
You might notice your plants starting to shrivel up before harvest. The leaves may turn brown and you might see spots. These are typical signs in a low-water garden, and they don’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your harvest.
Are you a dry farmer?
What tips can you add to help others get started in this style of gardening? It’s a different approach to growing food, and everyone can benefit from you sharing your knowledge.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Sustainable Practical Medicine! Sam Coffman “The Herbal Medic” Most preppers spend some time thinking about medicine after a social collapse, and stocking up on pharmaceutical supplies, as they should. Food, water and medicine are the first three resources that are fought over after every disaster, large or small. However, pharmaceutical supplies are limited and also … Continue reading Sustainable Practical Medicine!
Many people start learning about wild foods from common field guides focused on the subject. There are often plants mentioned as wild foods that are not abundant enough to supply much of a harvest (such as Spring Beauties, or Fairy Potatoes), not nutritionally rich enough to offer much to survival situations (such as the many greens, which have few calories), are not very tasty (such as bitters like Dandelion), or are difficult to harvest and prepare (such as tree bark). Further, the limited season of many nutritious edibles (like Cattail pollen and acorns) keeps them unavailable for much of the year. The forager naturally sorts through plants as he learns about them, more-or-less forgetting many while focusing on the “choice” edibles. (Mushroom hunters in particular refer to the best edibles as “choice”.)
By Nathaniel Whitmore a Contributing Author to SHTFBlog and SurvivalCache
For those who are learning about wild edibles to add to their daily diet or to harvest for restaurants, it only makes sense to focus on the best. For the sake of preparing for end times, survival situations, and emergencies in the woods, however, one should learn as many edible plants as possible. Perhaps many are not tasty or are time-consuming to harvest and/or prepare, but while these are very legitimate obstacles for every-day life in the “normal” world, you will likely enjoy even strange flavors when you are starving. The gathering of calories might turn into your top priority when there are none at hand. In order to prepare for emergencies, it is well worth learning about the wild plants that the field guides deem “trailside nibbles” or “survival foods”.
A very important survival food is the inner bark of trees. It is a common belief that the work “Adirondack” means “tree eaters”. Maybe this is originally from the Mohawk word for porcupine, or maybe it was mostly derogatory referring to bad hunters (who had to, therefore, eat tree bark) but the truth is that Natives of the woodlands ate many tree barks. My favorite is Slippery Elm. I have prepared much of the powdered bark available through commercial herb distributors. Cooked with Maple syrup it is a delightful breakfast “cereal” from the trees. It is worth considering the powdered bark for emergency storage as an edible and medicinal. Learn to recognize Elm trees and learn where they grow for emergency use and because they host the famous Morel mushroom. In my area they are found mostly along rivers.
Another tree I have consumed a bit of is White Pine. While I was stripping bark from the logs for my log cabin, I chewed on the inner bark and prepared it as a “tea” (decoction- material is simmered, not just steeped). I did not get around to grinding it to prepare as meal, as the Native Americans did with many of the barks they used as food. It was enough work for my spare time to drag logs through the snow and carve notches in them. Plus, I am still trying to figure out just how much of the evergreen trees are safe to consume. Pines and their relatives have been important survival foods as well as winter foods, providing many medicinal and nutritional benefits. However, there is concern regarding ingesting too many of the thick, resinous compounds in the pitch. These agents give the evergreens many of their medicinal properties, but can gum up the kidneys if over-consumed. Perhaps Native Americans knew things about preparing these barks that have been lost to the modern world. When the end times come, however, we might be wishing we did our research.
Additional Foods From Trees
It is much more common today to consume the needles and small twigs of the evergreens by preparing as a tea, than to strip the bark and prepare as gruel. By steeping the needles we can extract the vitamin C and many of the aromatic constituents. For survival situations, I am sure thicker inner bark has more to offer nutritionally.
Read Also: Five Best DIY Toothache Remedies
Many other parts of trees can be used as food and should be mentioned here, such as the leaves of Basswood (American Linden). Of course, one of the most important wild foods from trees is nuts, such as from Hickory and Black Walnut (which is another important medicinal, being used for parasites and fungal infections). We also have acorns from Oak and many lesser-known seeds such as Beechnuts from Beech. Many don’t realize that sap can be made into syrup from more than just Sugar Maple, including other Maples as well as other trees like Hickory. It is clear that the survivalist has much to learn about trees in preparation for emergency.
A major consideration for emergency food, are the winter caches of wildlife. Squirrels and other critters store piles of acorns, nuts, and seeds, which can be found by digging through leafy brush piles and other areas conducive to storage of such foods.
Plants store energy in two distinct places- roots and seeds. There are many roots that are generally overlooked as edibles, but could prove life-saving in emergencies. Evening Primrose, for instance, was once a staple vegetable of Natives. Today, it is common to find along roadsides and is worth getting to know for roadside emergencies. Like many edible roots (including Burdock and Wild Carrot), Evening Primrose is biennial and best harvested in the fall of the first season or the spring of the second. During the second year the plants develop their flower stalks and the roots become tough in order to support the stalk and because they are on their way out (they will die after seed is produced, while the autumn of the first year they store energy for the next).
Garlic Mustard, because of its pungency, is usually used as a condiment (like Horseradish) more than a vegetable. When push comes to shove, however, you might overcome the bitter, pungent flavor, or figure out how to reduce it through cooking. Yellow Dock is similar in that it is avoided largely because of its intense bitter taste, and because being perennial it will get tougher with age. Yellow Dock species are quite common and I am very often told by budding wild food foragers that they began eating the greens. Usually I assume that if someone is eating Yellow Dock they have not learned about the other, more palatable options, and I tell them so. Often, when seeing them at a later time I am informed that they moved on from Yellow Dock to tastier greens. However, concerning survival, Yellow Dock might be an option.
Strong flavors generally indicate that the plant is not suitable for consumption in large amounts. Bitter, pungent, and sour flavors are commonly indicative of constituents that shouldn’t be consumed in large amounts. There is a reason we appreciate these flavors in relatively small doses. Likewise, there is a reason we like the sweet flavor – it is the mark of calories (food energy). All our macronutrients are sweet, which includes carbohydrates, proteins, and fat. Roots that are relatively bland or sweet, such as Evening Primrose and Burdock, are generally more edible. Wild Carrot also has a bit of pungency, and although Carrots are staple food, many members of the Carrot Family (Apiaceae) are quite toxic. It should not be assumed that because something tastes good it is edible. It is said that Poison Hemlock tasted quite good to those who were able to tell us so before they died. Cattails produce very starchy roots (rhizomes) along with many other edible portions.
Cattails were called “Nature’s Pantry” by Euell Gibbons, one of our nation’s first famous wild food experts. The rhizomes store much starch, which can be easily extracted to used for porridge or baking. The young shoots are edible as are the bases of younger leaves. The best vegetable portion is the young flower stalk, including flower, while it is tender and still wrapped inside the leaves. The pollen can also be gathered, which is very nutritious.
Because starch is very water soluble and due to the structure of Cattail rhizomes the rhizomes can be pounded in a bucket of water. The starch is then suspended in the water making it possible to strain out the fibrous strands, joints, and peel. It can then be left to sit so that the starch settles to the bottom. Maybe not the ideal form of carbohydrates to the modern man, but an abundant source of nutrition in a survival situation.
The vegetable portion can be nibbled off the bottoms of leaves that are young enough to have a tender portion intact. The young shoots at the end of the rhizomes can also be harvested. In my opinion, one of the best wild vegetables is the flower stalk. Many old books refer to treating it like corn on the cob. This has led to the misunderstanding that one should eat the flower (the “cat tail”) off of the stalk. However, it is the stalk itself, when tender, that is the delicious vegetable. It can be found by peeling the coarser material away to reveal the tender part. You can develop an eye for the ones with flower stalks developing by the way the plant elongates upward during growth. It resembles corn on the cob because it can be cooked in the same way, which is also why it is a very convenient camping or survival food. Simply pick the whole above-ground/water plant by pulling straight up so that it separates from the rhizome. You can confirm that is has a flower stalk by observing the base. If there is no stalk, you will only see the crescent-shaped overlapping leaf bases. If it has a flower stalk you will see it’s round base. Then throw the plants, green leaves and all, directly onto some hot coals. Turn them until thoroughly cooked. When done, simply peel back the tough parts to reveal a tender, cooked vegetable within.
The pollen is gathered after the flowers emerge above the leafy portions by shaking the yellow powder from the plants into some kind of container. It is very nutritious and should be considered an important emergency food and nutritional supplement. Many other pollens, such as Pine, can be harvested as well.
I have already mentioned seeds from trees above (in the section “Additonal Foods from Trees”). Here we will consider seeds from shrubs and herbaceous plants. Perhaps the best-known staple of our Northeastern woods is the Hazelnut. Although, because wildlife love it Hazelnuts are often hard to come by. Still, the survivalist should learn to identify the shrub.
Amaranth seeds, though small and covered by a tough outer layer, are edible and very nutritious. Plus, the young plants are good as cooked greens. Likewise, Lambsquarters, one of the best cooked greens from the wild, can also provide nutritious seeds.
Jewelweed, which is well-known as the poison ivy remedy, has edible seeds. They pop from the ballistic seed pods when ripe and disturbed (by wind or animal). Pinched just right, the seeds can be released into your hand. Small, but they taste just like Walnuts. The young shoots of Jewelweed have raised concerns regarding their edibility. I used to eat them when a few inches tall and after cooked, but I have not done so in years.
There are many wild vegetables. It is worth learning the lesser-desirable species as well as those commonly sought after. However, vegetables are not the focus of this article because in emergency survival situations we are often more focused on calories. Although greens are nutritious, they are not calorie rich. Still, in survival situations there might be need to focus on certain nutrients that are available from vegetative plant parts. Many greens are high in nutrients that would be cooked out of other plant foods. For this reason, it is important to include some lightly cooked or raw vegetables in the diet.
Dandelion, in spite of its strong bitter flavor, is a safe source of edible leaves. They are high in calcium, iron, and many other nutrients. The flowers are also eaten. The root is too bitter to be a common vegetable, but is often dried and/or roasted for tea. Sorrel, including both Wood Sorrels and Sheep Sorrel, are edible and tasty, but shouldn’t be eaten in large amounts because of the oxalic acid content. Oxalic acid binds easily with calcium making the calcium unabsorbable and potentially leading to other problems, like kidney stones. Lambsquarters (mentioned above) is also quite high in oxalic acid, as is Purslane. One should be aware of these things, as it very well may come into consideration in a survival situation. Purslane has many nutritional benefits, most notably that it is high in essential fatty acids for a vegetable.
Many of the important vegetables must be cooked before consumption. Those mentioned above with oxalic acid can be cooked to reduce the acid content. (The old fashioned parboiling that is looked down upon today as destroying nutrition has its place here.) Plants like Pokeweed and Milkweed are put through a couple changes of water to render edible because of their toxic properties. Ironically, when this is done they become two of the best wild foods. Some greens need to be cooked to a lesser degree, such as Winter Cress (Yellow Rocket or Wild Mustard). It doesn’t require changing water, but it should be cooked thoroughly.
The plants listed above are only a few of the many options in the wild. There are choice edibles – those few species we seek after as even superior to domestic veggies. There are the deadly poisonous – some so much so that one bite can be fatal. Then, there is a large spectrum in between. The vast majority of plants are somewhere between choice and deadly, and the vast majority of them are not consumed. In an emergency that includes a food shortage, it could be very useful to know obscure edible properties of plants.
The survivalist should learn to identify the two ends of the spectrum first. Obviously, anybody at all interested in the subject wants to know about the best edibles. It is perhaps even more important, however, to first learn the most poisonous (watch for another article). If you know the handful of deadly plants to avoid, you can more safely explore your options in an emergency even if you don’t know everything about all the plants at hand. Then, the survivalist can continue to explore the vast world of wild edibles in order to prepare for any situation.
In this article many wild plants are mentioned that might be toxic if prepared improperly, might have toxic parts even if other parts are edible, or might produce very real problems if consumed as part of a dramatically imbalanced diet (such as what might occur in a survival situation). I only mention them here. If you want to eat wild plants, ensure that you are thoroughly educated beyond what can be gleaned from a short blog article. Read books, attend walks, and seek out knowledgeable foragers.
Further, this article contains speculation regarding possible survival foods. Details regarding the situation, including climate, health conditions, and other aspects of the diet might make certain foods more-or-less inappropriate. Several plants have been mentioned with some toxic or possibly some toxic properties. If over-consumed as part of a diet deficient in essentials, some of these plants might be harmful, even if they can be regularly enjoyed as part of your regular diet. Consider rabbit starvation, during which what many consider to be good meat (rabbits, for instance) possibly becomes worse than not eating at all. The ideas expressed above are done so in the spirit of researching for possible survival scenarios. At the brink of starvation it might just make sense to wander into the gray area of wild edibles and to risk consuming things that are not usually consumed. In everyday life, however, it is best to avoid eating in such risky territory.
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You don’t want all of your gardening efforts to be wasted during this harsh season. There are steps you can take to maintain and protect your survival garden this winter.
Taking care of your garden and orchard in the winter takes a little work, but it’ll be worth it in the spring when your overwintered plants are still alive.
You’ll have a head start on next spring’s planting, and you will be able to provide more food for your family.
Keep a close eye on the temperature during the winter months—the lower the temperatures, the more work you’ll have to do.
1. Care for Perennial Plants
If you’ve planted perennials like asparagus or rhubarb in your garden, you’ll be overwintering some plants. These will need protection from the freezing weather.
Once the ground has gotten cold, ensure that you’ve cut back these plants. Then cover them with four or five inches of a natural mulch. You can use:
- Wood that’s been chipped
- Shredded pine needles
The mulch will protect your plants from the temperatures that can change rapidly in winter. You don’t want your plants to constantly freeze and thaw throughout the winter. Mulch helps keep their temperature more constant.
It also provides warmth for the roots. By protecting the roots of your plants from freezing, you’ll give them a much better chance of winter survival.
In addition to protecting your plants, the mulch will also provide nutrients to your soil. Just be sure to uncover your plants when spring comes. Then, you’ll want the mulch to be around the plants instead of on-top of them.
You’ll also need to continue watering your plants if you aren’t getting precipitation regularly. While plants don’t need as much water in the cooler temperatures, they do need some. Plan on a deep watering session at least once a week if the ground has begun to thaw and you don’t have a snowpack.
2. Start Your Seedlings
If your growing season is short, you’ll want to maximize it by starting your plants indoors this winter. Before planting, you’ll want to ensure you have containers that drain well and good soil.
You’ll want to time this step right so your seedlings can be transported directly to your garden when they’re the right size. If you have gardening neighbors, ask them for advice on when to start plants. Otherwise you can check with your county extension agencies or online resources.
3. Keep Pests Away
Winter’s freeze doesn’t eliminate the threat of pests to your garden. Some insects, such as the tomato hornworm and squash vine borer, burrow underground for the cold season. If you had a pest problem before winter, you might find yourself with an even bigger one come spring.
One strategy to eliminate these underground pests is to till your garden before the hard freeze, but after small freezes. Turning over your soil will expose the pests to the cold and decrease their survival odds.
Bugs aren’t the only pests you’ll encounter in the winter. Hungry deer and rabbits will be searching for anything they can find when the snow is covering what they normally eat. Make sure your garden fence is solid to protect your overwintered plants.
If you have an orchard, you’ll also want to have wire around the base of the trees. This will keep animals from gnawing on the trunk. This video shows an easy way to keep animals away from your trees with stakes and wire:
Video first seen on The Do It Yourself World.
4. Know Your Plants’ Hardiness Level
Not all plants can withstand the same levels of cold. Be sure you know the hardiness for your plants and trees. If the weather in your area drops lower than it typically does, you may need to take additional action.
When planting with overwintering in mind, always select hardy plants for your zone. You should know when your typical first frost occurs, and how low the average temperatures are when selecting seeds.
If colder than usual weather is predicted, ensure your plants have a thick layer of mulch. New plants and trees will need more protection than established ones.
5. Protect Your Orchard
Trees can be vulnerable to freezing temperatures, especially if they’re not very hardy. Water that’s in the tree can freeze, causing limbs to break off and other damage. Here are some ways to keep your orchard trees from freezing this winter:
- String some of the big, old-fashioned, non-LED Christmas lights through the branches. Though they let just a tiny bit of heat, it’s enough to protect from a light freeze.
- Place a blanket around your tree. This obviously works best for small trees.
- Don’t fertilize in the winter. This extra food boost will encourage your trees to grow, which is not what you want happening in the winter. Those new shoots will be extremely susceptible to damage.
- Apply a frost cloth to your trees.
- Mound the soil up high against the base of the tree.
- Light a fire on the ground nearby to help warm it up and provide heat to the branches. You can save what you trim each spring to burn over the winter.
If you wrap or bank the trunk of your trees, be on the lookout for insect infestation. The bugs like a warm place to live as well.
A buildup of snow can also cause problems with trees. If you notice that the branches are bowing under the weight of the snow, help them out by knocking the snow off. This will keep your branches from breaking off.
6. Bring Plants Indoors
Some plants that don’t respond well to freezing temperatures can be dug up and potted for the winter. Just bring the pots inside, and care for them by providing water.
Here are some plants you can bring indoors for the winter:
- Banana plants
You can also dig up starts from other plants, and bring the shoots indoors. But, you’ll want to do that before the deep freeze occurs to help avoid transplant shock.
Winter is also a great time to start a small garden indoors. You can grow a variety of food indoors, which will help lower your winter grocery bill and provide fresh, local produce to enjoy. Just remember to keep an eye on your indoor garden and keep it in a room of your house that isn’t going to freeze.
7. Inspect & Organize
Since you won’t be using your gardening tools as often this winter, take time now to inspect them all. Your goal is to make your life easier once you jump into the gardening season again.
Sharpen your pruners, hoes, and any other tools you use with blades. Repair or replace any handles that have cracked.
Also, take time to walk your fence and make any repairs that are needed. If deer were a problem, consider adding another layer to increase the height of your fence.
Organize your garden supplies and make note of anything you’re running low on. Now is a good time to reorder supplies so you have them on hand when spring comes along.
8. Keep Your Compost Going
You’ll want compost in the spring to help get your garden growing again. If your compost pile is exposed to the elements, you can use a tarp to cover it. This will help keep the center warm and encourage the organisms to continue working.
The cover will also keep your compost from getting too wet. Too much moisture isn’t good for your pile.
You can save your food scraps throughout the winter to ensure your pile continues to grow. If you’re letting your compost pile go dormant for the winter, you might consider starting a small secondary pile. Just remember to keep adding carbon.
Video first seen on Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable.
9. Plan for Next Year
Winter is the perfect time for planning your next year’s garden. Take time to sketch out your current garden’s layout so you can remember where each crop was planted. This will help you more efficiently plan crop rotation.
You can use the cold months to study new gardening techniques, research the best varieties for your area, and reflect on last year’s harvest. There’s always something to learn when it comes to gardening, so pick up some reading material at the library, and enjoy planning your garden.
10. Harvest Edibles
If you’re overwintering carrots, onions, cabbage, or other plants that will continue to produce in your climate, be sure to harvest the edibles. There’s nothing like farm fresh produce in the middle of winter.
For plants that grow underground, the freeze will eventually kill off the tops. This makes your edibles less visible. Be sure to mark where these plants are located so you don’t forget when your garden is covered with snow.
If you typically enjoy milder winters, the number of edibles you can grow significantly increases. You can also extend your growing season with cold frames or greenhouses. Remember to water the plants you have in there, and keep weeds at bay.
This way you can have your own survival garden no matter the season. Click the banner below and learn how to grow an endless supply of nutritious food in your backyard with no effort and in extreme conditions.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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One of the biggest problems for many of us when it comes to gardening is space. Not everybody has a few acres to spare to grow a full, standard garden.
Another problem for many people is physical limitations. A regular garden requires a lot of labor that some people just can’t handle.
Many of us also worry that people will find our food source if SHTF.
An open garden planted on flat earth is painfully obvious to just about anybody passing by, but if you can build a vertical garden that is out of sight or even portable so that you can move it out of sight if you need to.
Vertical gardening solves many problems.
4 Benefits of Vertical Gardening
We just touched on a few of the benefits of vertical gardening but let’s get into it a bit further, because this is seriously great way for just about anybody to grow food.
Demands Much Less Physical Labor
When you’re growing a garden, you already know that it’s going to be a ton of work. You’re going to need to till the space, then plant the seeds or plants. You have to weed the gardens so that your plants thrive, and you have to keep the soil loose around them. Then, of course, you have to harvest your crops.
Nearly all of this requires a lot of bending, kneeling, and twisting. That’s great if you’re 25, fully healthy, and WANT to do that much work.
However for many of you, that level of physical labor is difficult or even impossible. Growing a vertical garden eliminates all of these issues.
It’s Easier to Hide
Another benefit is that, even if somebody happens to glance at your back yard, they’re not necessarily going to pay attention to something growing on a wall, especially if you’ve planted flowers among your vegetables.
Looters won’t be prone to look too hard because they’re in a hurry looking for an easy mark.
Vertical gardens are a bit easier to camouflage than an acre-wide garden. Also, you can make your garden so that it faces the back of your house, which would make it virtually impossible to see.
Finally, you can always make your vertical gardens portable so that you can move them out of the line of sight of looters.
Covers Plain Walls with Beautiful Plants
There’s nothing particularly pretty about a blank wall, so cover it up with a beautiful, and possibly edible, wall of plants! Don’t want to look at that privacy fence between you and your neighbors? Cover them in plants.
There’s just something cozy about a backyard with vine-and-flower covered fences and walls. It gives the whole place a homey feeling.
Easier Quality Control
When your plants are growing in pots or planters that you’re managing, you know exactly what’s in the dirt and you’ve possibly made your own fertilizer so chemicals aren’t an issue.
There’s no need to worry about the quality of the nutrients in your dirt; you put them there. You also control the amount of moisture and can feel when the plant needs more or less because all you need to do is stick your fingers into the dirt.
Plants that are off the ground are easier to inspect for insects and fungi that can wipe out all of your plants before you get to taste even one morsel of them.
You can also nip the sucker leaves off and provide all the care that your plants need from a much more comfortable position. When you’re comfortable, you can take your time and care for your plants properly.
Different Types of Vertical Gardens
A vertical garden is exactly what it sounds like – a garden planted vertically instead of on the ground. There are many different ways that you can do this depending upon your space, what you want to grow, and how you want to do it. Your garden, your decision!
Aquaponics is the art of growing plants and fish together. The plants provide the fish with nutrients that they need and the fish byproducts provide nutrient-rich fertilizer for the plants.
The system can be as simple or as complex as you’d like to build it. You can use dirt or start an aquaponics system. As a matter of fact, you can build an aquaponics system that’s very nearly a vertical garden itself, and it gives you fish AND plants.
Latticework with Baskets or Boxes
Another way to build a vertical garden is to use hanging baskets and latticework. This type of garden is good for plants that don’t grow out or get too tall.
Plants such as peppers, strawberries, onions, garlic, lettuce, and spinach are great for the baskets. To help your space do double duty, use the lattice work to grow vining plants such beans or tomatoes.
An alternative to baskets is to hang planters from the latticework. This will allow you to grow plants that vine out a bit or need more room to grow, such as potatoes, carrots, or squash.
You can stagger the boxes as needed to accommodate the space requirements of the plant. Again, you can grow vining or heavy plants on or at the base of, the latticework.
If you have an empty wall – it could be the side of your house, an outbuilding, or a garden wall – then you have a place to put a vertical garden. Plus, you’ll be covering up a plain wall with beautiful plants.
Be sure when you use a wall that you allow space for the extra moisture so that you don’t damage your wall.
You can use just about any construction material that you want. Chicken wire, lattice work, and trellises are all good choices.
You can also use gardening bags, which are made from a variety materials including burlap and canvas. One of the good things about using bags is that the extra moisture drains right out the bottom. You can use this system to water the plants below if you’d like.
I saw this in a magazine and fully plan on making it my next project. The problem is that I don’t have access to old gutters. It’s a simple yet brilliant design.
Just drill drainage holes in the bottom of old gutters and hang them on a wall of some sort. The holes will keep the moisture content at a good level and will even allow for trickle-down watering.
Vertical Towers or Walls
I love these systems. I’m currently using one right now and even though I’ve just started, I absolutely love it. It’s easy to use and has an aquaponics watering system that makes my life much easier while keeping my plants happy, too.
Usually I build my own stuff, but this one looked too good to pass up, so I bought it. It’s a tower farm wall and the short video above was made while unboxing the package.
Possibly the best thing about the wall is that it’s easy to put together regardless of your skill level, and it’s easy to take care of.
The trays are set at heights that are easy to reach regardless of how tall you are and if you were to anchor it, it would be free-standing with very little modification. Low maintenance is always a good thing as far as I’m concerned.
Towers are always a fun way to go. For instance, you can cut out holes from a length of PVC, fill the pipe with dirt, then plant strawberries or other similar plants in the holes. You can also make a tower using round planters.
Use a large one on the bottom, then use two mediums – 1 turned upside down inside the big one for support, and the other one upright to hold dirt. Repeat this step with 2 smaller pots. Fill with dirt and you have a 3-tier plant tower. You can add to the levels if you like.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Though making your own vertical gardening structures is awesome, it’s not always practical. If not, then consider the Tower Farm Wall that I discussed above. I really am having a good time with it and the customer support is great.
Start growing your own food right now and you will not have to worry if SHTF. Click the banner below to discover how to provide as much food as your family needs in a crisis, with only 10 minutes a day.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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For many people, gardening and farming are two activities related to spring and summer, but not for preppers. Even though the outdoor gardening and farming season is ending, you can continue growing your own food during winter.
Is important to keep your plants safe and your flock warm during the cold season and don’t forget to start preparing for the moment when you’ll start working again in your lovely outdoor garden.
Until then, let’s see how to keep growing your own fresh vegetables and herbs, how to keep your chicken warm and happy and how to prepare your spring crops, because I’ve gathered 4 articles on this topic for this week’s Prep Blog Review.
- 6 Fasting-Growing Indoor Vegetables You Can Harvest Within 2 Months
“The outdoor growing season is ending for much of North American, but don’t despair — you can continue to grow food to eat. With the help of grow lights, you can provide fresh vegetables to be harvested during the cold months of winter.
And if you get started soon, you can be eating your vegetables in January. All of these vegetables can be grown in two months or less.
Microgreens are a delicious choice for an indoor garden. The leaves are harvested when young and tender, which makes a wonderful addition to salads and winter dishes. They can grow as quickly as two to three weeks. When the plants develop at least one set of true leaves, they can be harvested. You only harvest the part above the soil. The leaves are not only tasty but also are rich in important nutrients.”
Read more on Off The Grid News.
- Winter Chicken Care Tips – How To Keep Your Coop & Flock Safe & Warm
“Keeping your flock safe from the elements of winter’s fury is a prime concern for most backyard chicken enthusiasts. But with just a few simple tips, it’s actually quite simple to keep your chickens happy and safe through the cold winter months.
Chickens are bothered more by dampness and cold drafts than the actual freezing temperatures of winter. If you concentrate winterizing efforts to eliminating those two concerns, your chickens will stay comfy and happy all winter long! Here are a few of our best tips on winter chicken care.”
Read more on Old World Garden Farms.
- Straw Bale Gardening: Smart Reasons To Grow More Food In Less Space With Little Effort
“Limited space? No soil? Toxic or rocky ground? Spare corner? Edge of drive or yard? Here’s bales of advice for you on the straw bale gardening way.
TIP: Kids just LOVE to climb on these irresistible messy playthings, so if it’s feasible, get an extra 1 or 3 bales and put them out of the garden just for fun.
Straw or hay bale gardening is not to be confused with using loose straw in your garden for mulch or compost. What we’re talking about here is the whole bale, as it stands, tied with twine and used for planting plants on the top.”
Read more on No Dig Vegetable Garden.
- 24 Ways To Prepare For Your Spring Garden In The Dead Of Winter
“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.”
Read more on The Survival Mom.
This article has been written by Drew Stratton for Survivopedia.
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Whether you’re trying to start your seeds so that you have healthy seedlings or young plants to set out when the weather warms or you’re growing all of your plants inside, lighting is an integral part of growing.
Finding the best indoor lighting options for your plants can be a challenge, though.
It would be ideal if you could place all of your plants by windows so that they can get their natural source of light: sunshine. However, that’s not always possible, especially if you’re growing a lot of plants and you want to keep them under the radar.
There are plenty of great options and, thanks to technology, they won’t all cost a fortune. We’ll discuss that as we go.
Choosing the Type of Light
Before we start discussing bulbs, you need to understand a bit about growing plants and what type of light they need. Many newcomers to the scene think that, like owning a guinea pig or a snake, the light is used to keep the plant warm, but that’s not the case.
Plants require light to grow and flower, but not all light is equal. For that matter, not all light is necessary and the types of light that plants need are actually dim to human eyes.
The sun offers a full spectrum of light colors that range from blue to red. It’s actually those two colors that plants need the most. Blue light enables the plant to grow bushy and full. Red light causes the plant to produce a hormone that makes it flower. As you’ve probably already figured, you want both for your edibles.
The colors in between, particularly green, are completely unnecessary; green light is purely for aesthetic purposes. It just makes your plants appear green and glossy because the plant reflects it back. That may be useful information if you want your plants to look pretty as they grow.
Another factor that you need to consider is heat. Unless you’re growing your plants in a cold room, standard room temperatures are more than enough heat to grow most plants. You really don’t need heat from your bulbs. Too much heat will burn your plants and many high-heat bulbs burn out fairly quickly, too.
You’ll see watts, which is how much energy the bulb produces, and you’ll also see Kelvins. Kelvins are the basic unit of color temperature that’s used to measure that whiteness of a bulb’s output. In other words, it’s the best description of the visual warmth or coolness of the bulb.
The higher the degree of Kelvin, the bluer the light. The lower the Kelvin, the warmer, or redder, the light looks. Shoot for 4000-6000 Kelvin because that level of light borrows from all parts of the spectrum including the blues and reds that you need for growth and flowering.
Some plants, such as peppers and lettuce, may not need as much red light because they don’t flower quite as much.
Now that you understand the basics of what you need to make your plants grow, let’s talk about the different types of light and whether they’re best for your needs.
1. Incandescent Lights
These are the types of bulbs you probably already have in your fixtures. They’re pretty much standard bulbs. Incandescent bulbs put off a ton of heat and don’t really produce the type of light that your plants need to grow.
Only about 10 percent of the energy that they produce goes toward light; the rest is heat. They’re OK for growing low-light plants such as vines, but they’re not much good for growing anything seriously.
2. Fluorescent Lights
These lights put off mostly blue light, which means that you’ll have bushy plants. These are OK for growing plants that you don’t need to flower such as lettuce or cabbage. They’re also good for starting your plants inside. Fluorescents come in different lengths and are shaped like tubes.
One of the biggest downsides here is that you have to hang them is special ballasts. Regular fluorescents are great for at least starting your seeds, and they’re good for plants that don’t need so much of the red light such as herbs.
If you opt to go with fluorescent lights, you should know that the narrower the bulb, the more efficient the light is. They also use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent lights.
Now there’s a new fluorescent system out called the T5 system. They put out double the amount of light per tube as regular fluorescent tubes and they’re full-spectrum. That means that instead of just having the blue light like regular fluorescent lights have.
If you’re using a T5 system adjust the proximity of the light to the plant as it grows. Since the bulb isn’t insanely hot, you don’t have to worry about burning the plant.
Video first seen on katie phibbs.
3. High Intensity Discharge Solutions
These are great options for growing your plants but they’re expensive. High-intensity discharge lights are extremely efficient and produce a lot of light. There are a couple of types that emit different spectrums of light.
The Metal Halide, of MH, light emits the blue light that will encourage the leafiness, and the High Pressure Sodium, or HPS, lights produce the reds that you need to make it flower.
You could use the MH light to get it started and full, then swap it out for the HPS to get it to flower, or you could use them in tandem. These bulbs are expensive but one 1000-watt lamp can produce the same amount of light as fifty 40-watt fluorescent bulbs. They come in different sizes.
Just to give you an idea, one 400-watt bulb can produce enough light to cover a 15sf growing area, or a 4’x4’ garden. The 1000-watt bulb covers about a 7’x7’ area. Figure that each 25 watts covers 1 square foot of garden.
4. LED Lights
We’ve been using them for Christmas lights for years but LEDs are relatively new to the agriculture scene. They produce practically no heat and don’t use hardly any power, either. Remember how we discussed the Kelvin measurements? Well LEDs can be programmed to 5700K to mimic the light spectrum of the sun.
Right now, LED grow lights are expensive but they’ll likely become cheaper as they develop the technology and the method becomes more popular.
Remember that you’re going to be in this for the long run. If you’re only growing a few plants, it’s probably fine to go with a cheaper bulb or system but if you’re going to grow a significant amount of plants and plan to do it for the foreseeable future, you’ll probably be better off to invest a bit of money in the beginning and let it pay off in the long run.
To figure the cost of your system, add up the combined wattage of all of your lights and divide that by 1000. That will give you the kilowatts used. Multiply that by how much your power company charges you per kilowatt hour. Multiply that by the number of hours the lights will be on per month and you have your monthly energy cost that you can compare to the original cost of the system.
If you’re fortunate enough to live completely off the grid and you are powering your house by solar or some other sustainable method, then you can go with the best system for your situation that’s within your price range. If you notice, though, the more expensive systems use relatively little energy.
Every survival plan must have food at its core. Click the banner below and discover how you can grow your own food with just 10 minutes a day!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Written By Mike Harris
With the Holidays fast approaching I know how frustrating it can be trying to get loved ones the perfect gifts that is not only practical but will benefit them in ways a flashy pretty piece of jewelry or a cool video game can’t. Having first hand experience with getting high dollar prepping items for non-preppers who not only don’t appreciate them but also shake their head in disdain is a feeling all to familiar to me. So here I have compiled a list of 11 gift ideas under $50 that can put that loved one in a better predicament of preparedness without them even knowing it. This list is non-excusive that will make for great gift ideas for both guys and gals of all ages!
- Portable Power pack
Portable Power packs come in all shapes, sizes, colors and capacities. I have found these not only extremely well received by non-preppers but unprecedented by most in the overall preparedness value it brings. The typical IPhone battery is about 2,000 mah of power. With power packs ranging from 2,000 mah to the 50,000 “All Powers” external power pack. The user can charge their portable electronics many times over. Not only are their uses for small electronics great but also they provide so much diversity in regards to their many colors, sizes and applications. Giving your loved ones the ability to meet all their small electronic needs is a huge prepping multiplier! We all know inclimate weather, terrorism, earthquakes, accidents, and overall disaster will happen it’s never been a matter of if but when. According to Current statistics there are over 260 million cell phone users in the United States of America! With this knowledge in mind equip your loved ones with the ability to send that text message, write that tweet, updated that Facebook status, hash tag their ideas, post that controversial idea, record that memorable moment. But most importantly give them the life saving power they need to get in contact with Emergency services and loved ones in the event something goes wrong! You will be happier and can rest assured knowing you have set them up for success.
- Foldable solar panel
Small foldable solar panels are not only “hipster and progressive” in many aspects but provide a wealth of preparedness capabilities unparalleled in many respects. Not only do these solar panels provide an unlimited amount of electricity when the sun is out but are very easy to store and user friendly to use. Requiring virtually no maintenance upkeep, they can be that lifeline you can depend on when everything around you is falling apart. They can be used and implemented anywhere at anytime as long as there is light. Even under bad forecast they can provide you the life saving power you or someone you know may need in the event of a disaster. Now couple this with an external power pack (Apple Product Power Pack) and now you have an unlimited power source that can keep you off grid indefinitely! You will be hard pressed to find something that brings more independence and stress free living then being able to personally provide for all your small electronic power needs free from the power grid!
- Solar flash light/ Lantern
Light more often then not is something that is taken for granted by the average person. Fortunately most of us live in a world where we can flip and switch and magically we have light. While this is ideal it’s not always the case when disaster strikes. Solar Lighting not only gives the user the ability to have light where they may otherwise not have it but also allows them to have lighting abilities indefinitely because they are not susceptible to depleted disposable batteries, or oil sources like what we see with traditional flashlights and oil lanterns. Natural sunlight light can be taken advantage of during the day and can be used at night. Also like the already mentioned items many of them have the ability to be also used as an external power pack giving them more then one use. We don’t realize the importance of light until the light goes out and we hear that boom in the middle of the night! Remember two is one, one is none. To see the capabilities these light devices have check out my product review.
- Cutting Tools
When you say cutting tools you are referring to a broad diverse spectrum of “sharp objects”. This was done purposely every one is different and requires different types of cutting tools. What I would give a college sorority girl that drives a Toyota corolla and has no preparedness inclination versus an avid hunter that drives a lifted 4×4 truck and stays off the beaten path for days at a time is going to be different in style and ergonomics; but the methodology and application will be very similar. Examples for a self-defense situation I would be more inclined to give a college sorority girl a “Honeycomb Hairbrush concealed stiletto dagger” or a “Cat personal safety key chain”. They are complete concealable very fashionable that can go with any purse or outfit. These items will provide a quick control for an unprecedented attack while serving primarily as an everyday use item. While for my avid hunter, Military, or EMS person I might give a “SOG Fast-hawk Hatchet” that can be used as a self defense tool, extrication device, wood cutting tool etc. As you can see cutting tools have a wide range of styles and uses that can serve a diverse array of preparedness needs without coming across as such.
- Portable water filter
Portable water filters are one of those small cheap out of sight out of mind water applications that quite frankly will at a minimum sustain life! These make a perfect gift for all people regardless of age, gender, or lifestyle. I can say from personal experience being well traveling around the world these have been a game changer. Being in other countries where the tap water was considered unsafe due to viruses and bacteria I never had to worry about where I got my drinking water. Especially with products like the “Sawyer mini Water Filter” that will easily screw onto any commercial water bottle I was able to fill up my bottle (from any local water source) attach the filter and keep moving without any fear of contracting any water borne illnesses. Most commercial portable water filters on the market today will remove over 99% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli and remove over 99% of all protozoa elements such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The “Sawyer Mini Water Filter” Claims it can filter up to 100,000 gallons and weighs only 2 ounces. According to science the average adult human body is 50-65% water. On average the every day American family uses about 80-100 gallons of water per day. While this is taking other water usages into calculation one can still see the importance of water especially when considering that in a disaster the average person will be expending more calories and using more water. No matter where you are whether that be in a local park, traveling in another country, or in the safety of ones home drinking clean potable water is an absolute necessity and water is unequivocally the giver of life! Make having clean and potable water a necessity!
- Waterproof speakers with external charging capabilities
The waterproof speakers with external charging capabilities are what gets the person from the sidelines into the action in regards to preparedness. This is a gateway preparedness gift. Regardless if you are an NCAA Cheerleader, Surfer, camper, Military Service member, or the everyday person the ability to access to and have all their music and electronic needs met is an extremely good selling point. According to a Nielsen’s Music 360 2014 study, 93% of the U.S. population listens to music, spending more than 25 hours each week jamming out to their favorite tunes. The waterproof speakers encourage the user to take their lives off the beaten path, to push beyond the realms of their typical everyday habits. The external charging capabilities give the user an added layer of support and comfort being outside in those environments. Now add a foldable solar panel and the possibilities for adventures off the beaten path are endless. It’s much easier to engage someone in a “what if” scenario or talk about preparedness if your already off the beaten path, outside the “safety confines” of the power grid simultaneously creating your own endless energy while listening to their favorite music. I’m just saying!
- Seed Bank/Plant
Seeds and plants are one of the only prep “gifts” that will give back in dividends that will exceed the initial cost. Being able to take a handful of seeds or a plant and create an endless life-sustaining ecosystem is truly beyond words. Permaculture does more then just provides a means by which to feed ones self. Permaculture in many respects is one of the most rewarding pursuits we can do as human beings. Giving us the ability to create and take care of life, being independent of the corporate bureaucracy of Big Ag, and allows one to create their own sustainable paradigm. The lessons gained from the successes and losses of growing. Not to mention the invaluable skill set that has been slowly taken out of our modern day society. Living in a day and age where we have become so dependent on a system that could careless the consequences of their actions and practices should worry us all. So stay one step ahead of chaos get someone you care about a small seed variety pack, or a tomato plant. If you really like them get them a moringa tree!
Multi-Tools are invaluable to anyone, they provide hundreds of functions and are more compact then wallet or small makeup case. Yet it provides the essentials to most day-to-day maintenance. Whether we are talking about opening a bottle or performing a plumbing task using pliers and a cutting tool. The Multi-Tool is a silent hero; it can be carried as an EDC or left in the glove box of a vehicle until needed. It’s a jack-of-all-trades but master of none. You won’t necessarily build a house with it but it can get you out of pretty much any tight situation you might find yourself in. To top it off, in modern day 2016 Multi-Tools are no longer big bulky steel bricks carried in the same old leather or webbing straps. They come in all styles, colors, and designs. They even have bracelet Multi-Tools
- Hand-Crank Emergency Power Source
I’ll let you choose what features are important to you but having a power source independent of another source but your will is absolute by its own definition! We don’t get to choose when disaster will strike, or how it strikes, or what is affected. What we can do is decide for ourselves how prepared we will be. Having the ability to provide an indefinite amount of light, power, and communication etc. day and night is what preparedness is all about. How many times have we looked down at our cell phone and realized we at minimum battery life now, now throw a wrench in your charging plan. That’s where these device swoop in to save the day. Many Hand-Crank Emergency Power Sources charge at the same rate as plugging it into a wall outlet. So in a few minutes you can bring a phone back from the dead regardless of the time, emergency, or situation you find yourself in!
- Emergency Car Kit
Do you know a loved one with a vehicle? Do they have an Emergency Kit in their vehicle? If they don’t they are wrong and so are you! In the United States alone, approximately 7 tire punctures occur every second, resulting in 220 million flat tires per year. Approximately 50% of Americans don’t know how to change a tire. I could talk to you for days on this subject but at the end of the day one must ask him or her self some simple questions. In an emergency situation will you depend on technology (AAA), the kindness of a stranger, or empower your self and loved ones to be self-sufficient? I can’t tell you how many people I have helped that have found themselves broke down on the side of the road. It breaks my heart because I know somewhere down the line they were failed! Don’t fail your self or your loved ones. Give them and yourself the tools for success and most importantly train them to do the basics!
Last but certainly not least we have candles and fire starters. I put these two in the same category because they go together very interchangeably. For the record U.S. retail sales of candles are estimated at approximately $3.2 billion annually, excluding sales of candle accessories (Source: Mintel, 2015). Candles are used in 7 out of 10 U.S. households, and are seen as an acceptable gift by both mean and women. Not to mention Candles come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes and uses. We see this from votive to floating candles to those that are used in religious and ritual like settings.
Regardless of why or how you use candles the ability to hold a flame is paramount in a disaster situation! So if holding a flame is paramount starting a flame is essential. Now I’m not advocating going out and getting everyone a Ferrocerium rod bush craft kit with char cloth all included. Nor am I saying go out and get your 19 year old college sorority daughter a pack of cheap plastic Bic lighters either. The great thing about fire starters now-a-days is that they come in all styles and colors. You have the Colibri Scepter lighter that looks like a tube of lipstick for the ladies to the custom Harley Davidson zippo for the seasoned veteran biker. In my humble opinion I would say that candles and fire starters are not only the easiest, and least expensive gifts to give but will arguable be, the first thing one reaches for in the event of a disaster. The ability to have a lite candle not only helps our physical needs in regards to light and heat. But the psychological ones are just as important if not more. The flame’s soft illumination reaches the soul; it can deliver hope and instill a calming relief. This coupled the aromatherapy of a scented candle can literally make all the difference in a disaster setting!
This completes my Top 11 gifts for your non-prepper friends and family. While the old slogan “it’s the thought that counts” may resonate with a lot of people it’s important to realize that your feelings and thoughts won’t be the deciding factor in who lives and who dies. Their ability to react logically and swiftly with the right tools will be the deciding factor. While you may not be able to control ones actions you can equip them with the right tools and get the brain working in the preparedness mindset without them even realizing it and that is the purpose of this article.
I can tell you from personal experience when I realized this reality. I was there when the May 3rd Tornado hit the Midwest in 1999. Not only do I remember the destruction that it left in its wake in my small Cleveland County, Oklahoma town. I remember my mother reaching under the bathroom sink to grab three candles so she could provide just a little light to her 3 confused and frightened boys. I remember her lighting these candles she had received as a gift. I don’t remember who gave them to her, but I can tell you I will never forget the smell of that first apple cider candle she lite, nor will I forget the impact of what a simple candle can do for a small frightened family in a ravaged home. I don’t personally think that individual who gave us those candles envisioned the scenario that they would be used for. Nor do I believe they knew the impact that such a small gift would have on someone’s life. But what I can say unequivocally was that small flame ignited hope, determination, and most importantly a quenching desire to seek knowledge on all that is preparedness and to teach others everything I can. So wherever you may be, wherever life might I have taken you I want to say from the bottom of my heart; Thank You.
I hope you guys enjoyed this article, I hope to bring you more content in the future.
Mike Harris is a full time RV’r spending the last couple years traveling not only the country but all over the world. Being a 4th generation sailor he has not only operated all over the world but grew up experiencing the rich diversities that make this world great but also a dangerous place. He is still Active duty he is a Search and Rescue Corpsman (Flight Medic) and an Aerospace Medical Technician. His preparedness and desire for sustainability are deep rooted in reality. Having to endure and face catastrophe is not just a job description but also his personal mission. He has trained both local and federal agencies as well a foreign. He done real life missions he was there during hurricane Sandy and was also apart of the 2515th NAAD. When not working or prepping you can find him traveling the country in his RV, hiking off the beaten path or enjoying much needed catch up time with friends and family. You can catch his adventures on his YouTube channel.
Our ancestors were experts at living off the land, and that meant knowing everything about the plants around them – plants that they used for food, medicine and shelter.
Sadly, most people today no longer have those skills, but the author of a new book is trying to help us regain all of this valuable knowledge.
On this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we take a look at 10 of the most versatile, multi-use plants you can grow – many of which likely are on your property. Our guest is Tammi Hartung, an organic farmer and the author of Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine: The Curious Stories of 43 Amazing North American Native Plants.
All of them can be planted right now, during the fall, and all of them have tons of uses.
Tammi tells us:
- Which forgotten plant provides one of the best anti-viral berries for winter colds.
- Which plant is high in Vitamin C and is so healthy it’s used in the pharmaceutical industry.
- Which easy-to-grow plant is useful for making pillows and blankets.
- Which common tree produces not only food but a strong dye for staining furniture and even clothes.
If you are a homesteader who likes to find multiple uses for plants – or you simply want to know how our ancestors once lived – then this week’s show is for you!
As a kid, I used to run through this huge patch of poison sumac while playing. I often had rashes — sometimes so bad I couldn’t even open my eyes. In fact, I didn’t know why I was catching the rashes until I got older.
Poison sumac, ivy or oak can ruin your week fast – especially if you don’t know how to treat it. Fear not: Nature has provided us with cures.
Let’s take a look at five all-natural treatments for rashes found in the wild:
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is a natural remedy used to neutralize the irritants from poisonous plants, bug bites, ring worms and even stinging nettle.
Jewelweed grows three to five feet tall, with oval leaves and hanging trumpet-shaped flowers. The flowers can be yellow or orange with dark red spots. I used to love poking the seed pods as a kid because they pop and the seeds seemed to explode.
The orange variety with dark red spots works better than the yellow flowered variety. My family likes to collect the stocks of jewelweed and store them frozen in freezer bags. This makes it easy to take one out and squeeze out the jelly for application on irritated areas of the body.
Mugwort is easy to grow and is even found in some wild areas. It can neutralize the urushiol found in poisonous plants and has other healing properties, too. Just grind the fresh-picked leaves and apply to the affected area.
Honeysuckle can be blended with water (ratio: 3-1) and strained to relieve some of the discomfort associated with symptoms of poisonous plants like sumac, oak and ivy.
We love growing rhubarb in the garden. It has so many uses, but in this application we can treat our itch. Rhubarb can give you instant relief from pain and itch caused by urushiol. To use it, just break a stem and rub the affected area up to three times a day.
This weed grows just about everywhere, and there are 140 known species. It’s named after its milky sap that’s made up of alkaloids, latex and other compounds. Applying this milky sap will help relieve the symptoms and dry up blisters associated with a poison rash.
Just use caution when identifying it, because it does have poisonous lookalikes like dogbane.
Now that you know all about plants that can relieve rashes, you are safe to take a stroll in the woods!
What plants would you add to this list? Do you have additional advice? Share your thoughts in the section below:
Once upon a time, more than two-thirds of all Americans lived in rural towns or extensive farms. Indoor plumbing was unheard of, homes were heated with wood and lit by kerosene or oil lamps, work was hard and diseases were plenty.
Should we find ourselves back in these precarious times – or we simply prefer natural remedies — we might find it beneficial to know what types of herbs, medicines and common practices were the tool of the trade for the 19th century doctor.
Keep in mind that there were no vaccines, no lab tests and no antibiotics. Hospitals were located in large cities and surgery was reserved for extreme cases. Doctors traveled for miles on horseback to treat their patients, and payment was generally a hot meal and a place to sleep, and perhaps a hog or some chickens for the doctor to keep or sell as he liked.
Almost all treatments were done right in the home, or outdoors where the light was good. There certainly were times when the doctor knew that his patient would not survive, but he tried his best, knowing that if nothing else, the family would feel better, believing that they had done all they could.
Let’s take a look inside that black bag of medicine and find out what doctors used pre-pharmaceutical times.
Treatments and Research
If you were fortunate, your doctor was up to date with the medical research of the times, such as books by University of New York doctor William Thomson. Otherwise, your local doctor might have relied on Buchan’s Domestic Medicine, which relied on herbal treatments.
With no antibiotics and very little understanding of how diseases worked, gargles, “tonics,” hot baths or steam baths were often recommended. Doctors tended to treat the symptoms, rather than the disease, due to lack of knowledge.
Doctors understood very little about bacteria, but they were aware that there were tiny organisms that could be seen under a microscope. These could be transferred from one patient to another. So while they may not have fully understood how they worked, doctors began working with “disinfectants” in the later part of the 1800s. Common disinfectants were chlorine, lime, sulfur and charcoal.
Common Herbal Treatments
Without the use of any real working drugs, doctors relied heavily on herbal remedies. Many doctors continued to add to their skills by learning from medicine men of the indigenous people, as well as from women who often passed their knowledge on from generation to generation and the slaves brought from Africa, who also contributed their knowledge of healing herbs and plants.
Fortunately, doctors had many pain relievers available to them at this time, including aspirin (which they made from the bark of willow trees). There were fever reducers made from the feverfew plant, as well from meadowsweet.
Camphor was known to ease itchy skin. It was also commonly used to prevent infection by washing the wound with a solution made from camphor, or soaking bandages in the solution, then wrapping the wound.
Opium was known to stop diarrhea almost instantly, and cathartics were from a wide variety of plants, such as milkweed or bloodroot.
Most of these types of medicines were used to make the patient as comfortable as possible, while nature took its course and the patient could heal on his own.
Other treatments including apple pectin, which was mixed in juice to stop arthritis, and honey, which was used as a face wash and a treatment for most insect stings.
Tea and compresses made from cloths soaked in tea were often used to wash everything from hair to burns to wounds.
Some treatments are still used today, such as baking soda to brush the teeth or ease indigestion. Castor oil was used for everything from a general health tonic to a chest compress for coughs and colds. Salt was used as a gargle for sore throats. It worked then and still works today.
Herbs and ‘Female’ Problems
It was very common in the 1800s for women to treat other women with herbs and remedies that have been passed down for generations. Midwives were often called upon to deliver babies as well as to help with what was called “female problems.”
Teas made from motherwort were often used to “calm the nerves.” This is a mild sedative and it works remarkably well.
Painful menstruation was often treated with a tea of red raspberry leaves. This was also the same treatment for infertility. Excessive bleeding was treated with shepherd’s purse. Labor pains were treated with blue cohosh while menopause was treated with black cohosh.
Women suffering from fainting spells were often given a large tablespoon of vinegar. Bladder infections were cured with calendula tea, and chamomile tea was used for just about everything that ailed women, from menopause to insomnia.
Treatments We’d Rather Forget
You can’t talk about the history of medicine without speaking about some of the items and practices that will make you shudder today.
Mercury was used for almost 500 years as a common elixir that was supposed to rejuvenate the body. It was also a popular “cure” in the 19th century for sexually transmitted diseases such as syphilis. While mercury probably did kill off the infection, it generally killed the patient as well, most likely from kidney or liver damage.
In fact, let’s not forget that during most of the 1800s, there were no laws in place as to who could call themselves a doctor. Massachusetts passed the first license laws in 1819 but then repealed them in 1835. It wasn’t really until after the civil war that states got serious about licensing doctors.
Tuberculosis (called consumption in those times) was a terrible condition with no cure. Most doctors simply recommended bed rest and to move to a drier climate.
Other treatments, such as those for colic, didn’t need the doctor anyway.
A common “remedy” for colic was to close all the windows and doors to the baby’s room, and have daddy smoke his cigar or pipe right outside the door. (Can’t help but wonder how that one worked!)
Cures for colds and the flu were varied, but included drinking rabbit dung tea. We don’t suggest trying that one, no matter how dire the situation!
What old-time remedies would you add to this list? Share your tips in the section below:
Anyone interested in living off the land or wishing to prepare themselves for a crisis would be wise to study some of their local plants.
Native people had an extensive knowledge of which plants, and which parts of the selected plant, were valuable for certain health problems.
In this article, we are going to look at some of the little-known medicinal plants that were used by the Navajo nation. Even though they lived in what we would consider desert or areas filled with nothing but “scrub brush,” the Navajo found some of the best and most powerful medicinal plants in their region.
Remedies for Headaches, Coughs, Fevers, Mouth Problems
1. Lichens – Pulled from rocks or trees, these were chewed to stop mouth pain, canker sores, and sore or swollen gums.
2. Purple loco weed (oxytropis) – The leaves are crushed and boiled, then the steam inhaled to open up airway passages and ease breathing.
3. Desert thistle – Used to stop the chills and/or fevers. Commonly given in tea form.
4. White horehound – This was used as a tea for coughs and sore throats.
5. Snake weed – Despite the name, this was not used for snake bites, but for headaches. Unlike other plants, this one was used externally by placing wet leaves on the forehead. Some people refer to this as broom weed or broom snakeweed.
Remedies for Diarrhea, Stomach, or Digestive Problems
6. Indian paintbrush (castilleja) – Used for most common stomach problems, including stomach aches, cramps and indigestion. Many tribes referred to this as the prairie fire plant. The flowers are very sweet and tasty, although other parts are not edible.
7. Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum) – While this relative to cannabis cannot be consumed, the roots were boiled to make a tea to treat intestinal worms and stop dysentery.
8. Antelope sage – The root of this plant was brewed into tea to stop general stomach pain and cramps.
9. Sand verbena – Sometimes called desert verbena, the leaves and flowers were consumed in tea form to stop stomach cramps, as well as to make a general, soothing tonic.
Remedies for Women
10. Greasewood – A tea made from the leaves of this plant was thought to make childbirth quicker and easier for the mother.
11. Silkweed – Consumed as a tea, this plant is a general tonic used after giving birth.
12. Bushy bird’s beak – Flowers and leaves were often brewed as tea to stop or shorten the menstrual cycle.
Remedies for Skin Issues and Wounds
13. Artemisia – This plant is used for burns, boils and other types of skin wounds.
14. Spurge – While spurge can be eaten, it was also used as medicine. Spurge was ground into a paste and rubbed on the skin to stop acne or other types of skin problems.
15. Green briar – The leaves of this bush were beaten into a paste, and then applied to sores, burns or open wounds. Fresh leaves were then wrapped over the poultice and used as a type of bandage.
16. Orange agoseris – Leaves and flowers were pounded into a paste and applied to most wounds to stop infection and speed healing. Most common uses were for serious injuries, such as knife or arrow damage.
17. Blue corn – Corn played a vital part in the life of most Navajo. Besides being consumed as food and used in ceremonies, blue corn was used to cleanse and purify the skin. Ground blue corn, which is more coarse than yellow or white corn, was a natural exfoliator, which encourages the growth of new skin by removing dead skin cells.
General Tonics, Antiseptics and Other Remedies
18. Sage or sagebrush – While this plant tends to give many people hay fever, for the Navajo, the leaves and flowers were made into a tea, which served many purposes. This tea was used as a treatment for diarrhea, as an eye wash, as an antiseptic for disinfecting wounds, and as a hair wash. People once said, “Those who drink sage tea never grow old.” This is because rinsing hair with a strong sage tea acts as a dye, keeping the hair black.
19. Hawkweed – This plant is a close relative of dandelions, so it is no wonder that the Navajo used it as a natural diuretic. All parts of this plant are edible and can be eaten; however, it is most commonly consumed in a tea form.
20. Red juniper – The inner bark of this type of juniper was rubbed onto the hair and scalp, stopping most kinds of dandruff and itchiness.
21. Yucca – Also known as soap weed, the leaves of the yucca plant were pounded into a thick paste, and then rubbed on the hair and scalp. This acts as a natural type of shampoo, removing grease and dirt from the hair.
22. Horseweed – This was a general, all-around good tonic that was used for many ailments, including stopping diarrhea, and as a diuretic and astringent.
23. Yellowtop – The gray green leaves of this plant were the most common remedy given for spider and other insect bites.
24. Green gentian – Commonly given to calm the nerves or for emotional distress.
Many plants were used in combination with one another. It was thought that by mixing plants, it would cure multiples problems at one time, or that if one ingredient was ineffective, another would certainly work.
Most times, there were one or two “specialists” who knew which plants should be used for what, and which combinations could be used. This was generally the Shaman, who oversaw most health problems, and a female elder, who was generally called upon to take care of “female” problems and assist in childbirth.
The Navajo and other native people spent hundreds if not thousands of years researching plants. Please use extreme caution and be certain that you know not only the exact species you are choosing, but how it might affect you.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional first.
What is your favorite off-grid medicinal plant? Share your medicinal tips in the section below:
It’s not common for most people to walk around a yard or garden and indiscriminately munch on plants. But it’s a whole different story when it comes to kids and pets.
There are also plants that can cause significant skin irritations while planting or weeding a garden. We’re going to review some common plants that are surprisingly toxic — and in many instances, deadly. If you have them in your garden, you may want to think twice if young children or family pets are around.
1. Yew. A common evergreen that is popular as a landscaping shrub, the yew has bright red berries with a dark side peeking out at the bottom of the berry. What’s curious is that the berry itself is not toxic, but every other part of the plant, including the seeds in the berries, are dangerously poisonous. This is due to an alkaloid called taxin, in addition to ephedrine and taxiphyllin. Death often follows in hours and sometimes presents no symptoms. When signs and symptoms do occur, they include weak pulse, trembling, staggering, coldness and collapse.
2. English ivy. It decorates the walls of buildings on college campuses across the country. Many people plant it to create a similar look on their homes. Too bad it’s poisonous. The leaves can cause rashing, blisters, general skin irritation and itching. Ingesting the leaves can lead to convulsions, fever, delirium and even hallucinations. It doesn’t sound real smart to plant English ivy anywhere. Makes you wonder why they’re so popular on college campuses.
3. Easter lily. A flowering plant that’s popular and common at Easter, it is, in fact, quite toxic, especially to small animals like cats. Humans don’t fair much better due to an alkaloid called lycorine. It’s found in the bulbs and stem and causes vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, shivering and nausea. That’s not exactly the way most people want to spend their Easter.
4. Holly. Here’s another holiday favorite with dangerous side effects. Holly and its bright red berries are a standard decoration at Christmas. Unfortunately, the red berries are highly toxic. An alkaloid called theobromine is the primary problem.
Children ingesting as few as two red berries will suffer vomiting, drowsiness, diarrhea — and higher doses can be lethal. Twenty holly berries could kill an adult. Maybe we should deck the halls with boughs of something else.
5. Aloe Vera. Who’d have thunk it? A plant that has been used for thousands of years by native people to treat burns and skin irritations actually has a poison component. The gel of the plant is not poisonous, but there is a thin membrane inside the leaves that contains chemicals known as aloin and anthraquinone c-glycoside. Both are very toxic and can — if ingested in large quantities — cause vomiting, nausea, cramping and diarrhea. It’s OK to break off a leaf and apply the gel to skin, but if you have any thoughts of eating it, you may want to consider buying a professionally prepared product instead.
6. Chrysanthemum. A very common flower often referred to as mums. The curious contradiction is that they were sometimes used in Chinese medicine. The problem is that poisoning can easily occur due to a group of chemicals called pyrethrins, resulting in significant skin irritations. Pyrethrins affect the nervous system and can cause eye damage, asthma and inflammation. A curious note is that the pyrethrins in chrysanthemums have been processed to create a potent, natural insecticide. It’s a good bet that if it’s bad for bugs, it’s bad for us.
7. Larkspur or delphinium. Larkspur is a very attractive, purple plant and is a member of the buttercup family. The bad news is that all parts of the plant are poisonous. Animals, particularly horses and cattle, are particularly susceptible to poisoning while grazing. Symptoms of larkspur poisoning in humans include numbness and burning of the lips, mouth and throat, in addition to intense vomiting and diarrhea, spasms, weak pulse, muscular weakness, convulsion and paralysis of the respiratory system, which leads to death.
If you believe someone or a pet is suffering from one of these natural poisons, then immediately go to the emergency room or vet. Symptoms and effects tend to worsen over time. You also may want to carry a sample of the plant or berry with you if you suspect you know what could be the culprit.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:
In a real survival situation there’s not much you can use for help. Yes, we’re trying to prep and control that. BUT… if I were to quiz you about what to have close when disaster strikes, what would you say?
Here are some articles from this week that can provide some answers.
1. 6 Useful Preps You May Not Have Thought Of
“One of the very first things I did when I adopted the prepping lifestyle was a walk-around inventory. This was years ago and although I had not consciously considered myself a prepper at the time, I discovered that I had a lot of stuff, but it was woefully disorganized and lacking in many key areas. For example, I had lots of canned goods, supplemental lighting, off-grid cooking devices, tools and more. On the other hand, except for a 55 gallon water barrel and a small first-aid kit, I was sorely lacking in water and medical supplies. My how things have changed!”
Read more on Backdoor Survival.
2. Five Step Mental Practice For Psychological Preparedness
“One Month after SHTF; Are you Psychologically Prepared? Psychological preparedness is a radically important part of survivalism and might possibly be the determining factor for long-term survival. In fact, the first step toward getting prepared is making a conscious affirmation to develop a will to live. I am writing this article because I suspect that most people probably have no idea where or how to begin psychological preparation for SHTF. One can only wonder about the psychological well-being of most Americans given the statistics of Americans on antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, mood altering drugs, etc. We live in an isolated world where people mentally escape into social media, television and Pokemon-go.”
Read more on The Prepper Journal.
3. The 11 Best Survival Foods To Store For NUTRITION
“I was listening to a podcast the other day, the host was talking about the best survival foods you should be stocking up on. He was suggesting the typical rice and beans diet, with a few dollar store spices thrown in for flavor. I was a little taken aback when he commented, “It’s not so much about nutrition, it’s about survival!” Huh?? I instantly felt regret for the new preppers who were likely listening to his show. It’s not so much about nutrition? Doesn’t he realize that when your body is lacking key nutrients it begins to suffer physically? Doesn’t he realize that it’s the sickly who die first?”
Read more on The Prepper Project.
4. 10 Essential Herbs
“Here are 10 essential herbs, including some of their uses and guidelines to get started on your herbal apothecary. Health made simple and easy.
A few herbs that you can grow indoors or outside. Herbs you can use for preparing medicines with simple techniques as our ancestors did.
As far back as 5000 BCE, Sumerians used herbs in medicine. Ancient Egyptians used fennel, coriander and thyme around 1555 BCE. In ancient Greece, in 162 CE, a physician by the name of Galen was known for concocting complicated herbal remedies that contained up to 100 ingredients. Herbs have long been used as the basis of traditional Chinese herbal medicine, with usage dating as far back as the first century CE and far before.”
Read more on Around The Cabin.
5. Why Having a Portable Toilet Should Be a Top Prepper Priority
“How do you feel about digging a hole in your backyard, then covering, for emergency sanitation? Ummm…not me. I’d rather already have a portable toilet (port-a-potty) handy, along with appropriate heavy-duty bags, before an emergency comes — or to take camping if needed. Having some sort of port-a-potty may be one of the most important and least thought of aspects of survival planning.”
Read more on Family Survival Planning.
This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia.
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Poisonous plants are some of the worst things you can find when hiking or working in your yard. If you are like me, though, chances are you’re totally unaware of their presence until long after it is too late.
The three main ones to watch out for are poison oak, ivy, and sumac. These are the ones that contain urushiol — the nasty stuff that causes people to break out in itchy, oozing blisters. These plants can grow just about anywhere and can survive some exceptionally harsh conditions, making your ability to identify and either avoid or eradicate them especially important.
If I were to term a single plant as a life-long nemesis, it would be poison ivy. I first learned of its existence after developing a sizable rash on my face after attending a picnic in grade school. From that point, my total number of encounters with this plant has been both numerous and highly unpleasant.
So how do you know this plant when you see it? It helps to use the standard rule of three. “Leaves of three, let it be.” (This is a good one to follow in general for all plants, honestly.) If you live in an area where poison ivy may reside, namely anyplace with adequate water and sun, then you should be on the lookout for any plants that seem to creep on the ground. Poison ivy can also be found as a bush in some areas of the country.
If you should encounter a three-leaved plant, look at the color of the leaves. Poison ivy has shiny green leaves in the summer and yellow/red leaves in fall. In springtime, its flowers can be yellow or green and the resulting berries are often a greyish/white color.
One of the key identifiers of poison ivy is the shape of the leaves. While these leaves are found in clusters of three and are pointed in nature, they often have a distinctive bladed edge down only one side of the plant. This feature, above all else, may help you to avoid this dreaded plant should you share the same allergy as most people. Be aware that wild strawberries also share this characteristic, although they have a bladed edge on both sides of the leaf as opposed to only one.
A newcomer to my life is poison oak. I was “lucky” enough to discover this little beauty recently while doing some work in a hedgerow near my home. However, unlike my many unsuccessful attempts at avoiding poison ivy, I was successfully able to avoid this plant! Fortunately, a neighbor reported it to me on his property, telling me that I should be on the lookout near my own home.
Given my already discussed history of allergic reactions to poison ivy, I generally tend to avoid any plant with three leaves. The distinct difference between poison ivy and poison oak is that the leaves of poison oak are generally rounded and have what is referred to as scalloped edges. The best way to understand a scalloped edge is to think of it like a wave or a series of clusters along the outer edges of the leaves. If you are familiar with an oak leaf, know that the leaves of poison oak are somewhat similar.
Poison oak can grow as either a vine or as a bush. The color of the leaves can vary slightly, but they are primarily yellow or green in the summer and change to a reddish hue during the fall months.
The final poisonous plant we should know about is the much taller poison sumac. This is one of the hardest to identify, given the wide variety of sumac plants that can be found in the wild. There are some key features that help this plant to stand out from its relatives that you should know.
One of the easiest ways to find a poison sumac plant is to look up. The plant doesn’t have the same tendency as the previous two to grow as a vine, and will instead look more like an established, though fast-growing, tree. In fact, these plants can grow anywhere from 9-20 feet in height at maturity.
Apart from the obvious height of the plant, some other features can help it to stand out from the rest. For one, it generally grows in wetter areas and can survive even if its roots and base are completely submerged in water.
Another characteristic that could help you to distinguish this plant from the rest is its stem and leaves. A poison sumac plant has clusters of leaves in varying patterns that are smooth and pointed at both ends. A poison sumac plant will never have jagged edges on its leaves. The stems of this plant also have a distinctive red hue leading down to the trunk of the tree.
The berries of the poison sumac stand out from other sumac plants in that they are either white or a pale green, as opposed to varying shades of red. Their berries look like clusters of grapes and form at the base of the plant’s stems.
So what should you do if you find some of this stuff in your near vicinity? Stay away from it unless you are properly dressed to be around it or one of the fortunate few who isn’t allergic to the oil. If you have a severe allergy, like myself, you may want to enlist the help of someone who doesn’t react as strongly as you to help out.
Remember that even if you spray these plants with a herbicide and salt the ground after, you can still have problems if you handle them. Everything from the leaves to the stems to the very roots contain urushiol oil, so be careful.
And what if you are exposed? You should immediately wash the oils off your skin and launder all your clothing on its own to avoid spreading the oil further. There are special soaps available to help rid your skin of the oil, or you can use rubbing alcohol to help further sterilize your skin.
Depending on the severity of your reaction, you can seek an over-the-counter medication or speak with your doctor about a stronger course of action. I personally seek out my doctor every time I come into contact with urushiol oil due to my limited success using the OTC stuff.
No matter what you do, if you find it or suspect you’ve found it, be careful. Proper identification of these plants can help you to determine what to do next and avoid an unpleasant surprise.
What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:
There are several reasons why you’d want to build a portable garden, but today we’re going to focus on building a portable garden for bugging out.
Some of you may only have space in the back of your car or truck, and some of you have a hitch that can pull an entire shed or trailer.
If you’re planning on building a large portable survival garden, it should probably have walls for two reasons: you don’t want to damage your plants when traveling and you don’t want others to know that you have a truckload of food.
Weight and Size
The first thing that you need to consider when planning your portable garden, besides the space you’ll have available, is weight. How many people are going to be available to help you load up and how strong are they? Raised beds can get heavy fast when you factor in the weight of dirt along with the weight of the plants.
If you have access to a forklift or have plenty of people to help you load, then larger raised beds may not be an issue. If you’re going it alone or with people who aren’t so strong, then you should probably go with small beds or some of the other options that I’ll discuss.
Size, of course, depends on how much space you have and how you’ll be transporting the plants. You won’t want to plan portable trellises or large beds if you’re going to put them in a truck bed, car, or low-roofed trailer. As with everything, think ahead when planning your portable survival garden.
Types of Portable Survival Gardens
There are several different methods that you can use to grow your garden so that you can take it with you if you bug out. You can also combine methods so that you can take more of your garden with you.
If you have limited space, you can always plant your veggies and spices in pots and hanging baskets. Since you can adapt the sizes of the pots to the size of the plants, this is a great way to make your plants portable, and to use space efficiently.
You can put the smaller planters in between the larger ones while transporting, or even put them in the floorboard of your car.
Portable Raised Bed Survival Gardens
There are a couple of different ways that you can make your raised beds portable. You can adjust the size to meet your needs and capabilities.
Portable Raised Beds on Stilts
First, you can make your raised bed survival garden small enough that you can pick them up and move them. This works great for plants that grow low to the ground or for short plants that can be grown close together such as peppers. Here’s an inexpensive, easy plan for building one.
The idea is similar to window boxes except they’ll be on the ground. Build them on stilts so that they’re easy to pick up. If you plant them on the ground, they’ll likely sink and be difficult to pick up. A huge advantage here is that you can load them into the back of the truck.
Larger Portable Raised Beds on Casters
If you go with a larger raised bed, you can put casters on the bottom to make them portable. If you go this route, it needs to be built on concrete or on placed on 2x4s so that the castors don’t sink in. Here’s a great instructable for portable raised beds. You can adjust the size to meet your needs.
Vertical Gardening Made Portable
We’ve talked about vertical gardening before, but most types of plants grown vertically would travel well in the back of a truck or in a closed trailer. If you’re using potted plants, you can always pull them right off the latticework and carry them with you as described above.
The only adjustments that you’ll have to make when planning a portable vertical garden versus a stationary one is ease of movement.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re using potted plants but if you’re using vining plants, you need to make the vertical structure so that it’s easy to disassemble, or small enough that it will fit into whatever method of transportation that you’re using.
You should also use durable material to build the structure.
PVC works great because it’s light and can be built to disassemble.
Panel grid wire is also a good choice because it’s light, sturdy, and comes in a variety of sizes. You can always cut it down to meet your needs.
Ladders are also another good option.
Portable Survival Garden Houses
I absolutely love this idea, but you’ll need a hitch and a vehicle with enough power to pull it. If you’re travelling on level roads, you won’t need as much horsepower as if you’re traveling on mountainous or hilly terrain.
You can buy or build a greenhouse fairly inexpensively and they’re multi-purpose. You can use them to extend growing periods in good times, but if things go south, you can always pack them up and go with them.
Portable greenhouses need to be a bit sturdier than the average greenhouse, so I’d recommend using Plexiglas instead of plastic sheeting. Buildeazy offers a free plan that is not only versatile, but you can also modify it to suit your size. It provides several different options for building materials, so that’s good, too. Remember that you’ll need a solid floor if it’s going to be portable.
If you really want to make a greenhouse portable, build it on a trailer base so that all you have to do is maintain the tires and hitch it to your truck if you need to go in a hurry. It’s also easy to load your vertical gardens, potted plants or gear into this, so you can use the space efficiently.
To add to the internal stability of the plants, I would probably modify the shelving so that the pots can be attached, or make them so that the plants sit down in the shelf. Just off the top of my head, I’d either cut pre-sized holes in the shelves or use some sort of sturdy wire mesh shelving that can be adapted with different size holes since most planters come in standard sizes.
Finally, this structure could actually serve as a shelter for wherever you’re going after you unload the plants. My imagination is running wild with the possibilities here; solar panels, rainwater collection systems, etc.
This idea kind of feeds off of the last one. If you really want to get the biggest bang out of your portable survival garden idea, then this is the way to go. There are many tiny homes that are built in such a way that many of the inside structures fold up to make them easier to transport.
You could, of course, transport small vertical plant structures, potted plants, window planters and even small raised beds inside of them and unload them when you arrive at your bug out destination.
One idea that I have, though, is to make a tiny house with a covered porch that can be enclosed with hinged doors that open to provide a really cute serve as storage for such items as pots and pans, hanging plants, garden tools, or just about anything else that you’d want to hang.
In the meantime, when traveling, the doors would be closed and serve as additional storage for gear or plants.
Another house with this theme is shown in the article that I wrote about tiny houses.
The one in the picture is a bit pricey, but you could build it yourself for much less and adapt the size and insides to suit your needs. I even like the idea of the window planters on the outside, modified so that they can be covered for travel, of course.
Once you get to your bug out destination, you’d be ready to quite literally unpack an instant house and garden. Again, build it on wheels and add a hitch so that you can load up, hook up, and head out.
There are many different ways to make a portable survival garden; you just need to think a bit ahead and plan according to what transportation you have and what plants you want to take.
Think about the old ways our ancestors used for survival and click on the banner below to learn more of their secrets!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Companion planting — the practice of intentionally planting two or more species in close proximity to each other — has many advantages.
Paired properly, companion plants can help each other grow, deter pests, reduce weeds and even improve flavor. Unfortunately, not all plants are ready to link leaves and sing “Kumbaya” together. In this post, we’ll look at vegetable pairs that should be kept far apart from one another.
1. Corn and tomatoes
While you’d think a common enemy would make for good friends, in the garden it’s usually a recipe for disaster. Both corn and tomato are vulnerable to the same worm and the same fungal infections and if planted too close together, it makes it easy for invaders to conquer both at once.
2. Cucumber and sage
It sounds like it should be the name of an enticing new lotion fragrance, but as friendly as they may seem in the cosmetics aisle, cucumber and sage have no business being together in the garden. In fact, cucumbers and almost all aromatic herbs have an antagonistic relationship. The strong scent of sage and other herbs are likely to affect the final flavor of the cucumber, resulting in an unpleasant off-taste.
3. Radishes and hyssop
Another herb-vegetable combination to avoid is radishes and hyssop. Hyssop is a fragrant flowering herb used to scent potpourri and prepare teas, but it also tends to wreak havoc with radishes. Don’t write off hyssop entirely, though — it’s great for luring away cabbage moths and is said to help make grapes grow.
4. Onions and peas
Mom may have spent a lot of time trying to talk you into eating the onions and peas hidden together in a casserole dish, but out in the garden you can keep them as far away from each other as you’d like.
In fact, the entire legume family and the entire allium family tend to “go Godfather” on each other, likely because onion (and its many relatives like shallots, leeks and garlic) set up root systems with large radii that have a tendency to hoard needed nutrients from beans and peas.
5. Tomatoes and potatoes
While it may be fun to say their names together, tomatoes and potatoes don’t belong together in the garden. Both are subject to the same early and late blights, making it easy for a problem with one to quickly become a problem for both.
6. Dill and carrots
Dill participates in some of the most complicated companion planting relationships you’re likely to find in the vegetable garden. Loved for its small yellow blossoms and bright perky flavor, dill will do great things for asparagus plants, broccoli plants and a wide range of others. On the other hand, it seriously inhibits carrots. Both part of the Umbelliferae family, dill can cross-pollinate with carrots to a disastrous end. Even more confusing? The relationship between dill and tomatoes. Planting dill and tomato together will benefit the tomato … at least until the dill reaches maturity, at which point it will start to stunt the growth of tomatoes and should be moved.
7. Strawberries and cabbage
Save any combination of strawberries and cabbage (and other brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower) for the salad bar. While strawberries appreciate the presence of onions, thyme, bean, and sage planted nearby, they get tired of having to call the cops on their pest-prone cabbage neighbors.
Although far from an exact science, keeping these neighbor no-nos in mind when planning your garden will help you get the most out of your garden space.
What would you add to our list? Share your advice in the section below:
It’s alarming to learn that some of the prettiest flowering plants are also the most toxic. Some are poisonous if ingested or eaten, and others can cause serious problems simply by being touched or smelled. This is of particular concern with small children, who often love to pick, smell and sometimes taste a flower.
Here are the top eight that we’ve found (beginning with the worst).
1. Water hemlock or spotted parsley(Cicuta maculata)
According to the USDA, the water hemlock is the most toxic plant growing in North America. It has small white flowers that grow like umbrellas in a cluster. It’s unlikely that you or anyone else would ever intentionally plant this flower. In fact, reputable nurseries and garden centers won’t sell it.
It commonly occurs in our gardens as a seed, carried by the wind from a field or prairie, and we admire its flower and delicate display. It can kill you in 15 minutes with severe seizures and convulsions if you eat it, resulting in cardiovascular collapse and asphyxia. If you find it in your garden, kill it! Get rid of it!
2. Rhododendron (Rhododendron ponticum)
A very common plant that we often put in our gardens. But if you eat any part of this plant, the response is immediate, beginning with drooling, tearing, vomiting uncontrollably and a gradual decrease in pulse rate and dangerously low blood pressure. A coma can follow, leading to violent seizures and potential death.
On the bright side, they’re very pretty flowers.
3. Hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla)
This is a beautiful vine that grows great in shade and offers large flowers in blue, white and pink. Unfortunately, every part of it is poisonous. It has a poison called “hydragin,” which is a cyanogenic glycoside, and can be more poisonous than cyanide. If you or a child eats any part of this plant you can expect shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, rapid pulse, a drop in blood pressure and convulsions.
4. Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)
My mother’s not going to like this one. She has Lily of the Valley all over her yard and loves it. I grew up picking these flowers and putting them in a small glass on the kitchen table, and Mom thought that was great. It’s not great. It’s toxic. Sorry, Mom. All parts are deadly, including the water that I used to place them into. Even the smallest bite can result in heart contractions, hot flashes, low pulse rates, red blotches and could cause coma and death. Yikes!
5. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
Foxglove is a biannual plant. That means it only blooms in its second year after planting. It’s a tall plant with pretty, purple cup-like blooms. I planted this when I was very young and had no idea it could cause an instant heart attack.
The Latin prefix, “digitalis,” tells the story. An extract from this plant is actually used to treat ventricular fibrillation. Just sucking or nibbling on the plant can lead to an instant heart attack, especially with children. It’s grown clinically as a heart medicine. That’s okay because they know what they’re doing. The rest of us should not have this in our gardens.
6. Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
My granddaughter and I were picking black raspberries. Next to the raspberry patch was a small plant with beautiful purple berries. My granddaughter said, “Wow, look at these!” I shouted and pulled her away. She started to cry. I hugged her and then explained to her how poisonous these berries actually were.
In fact, the nightlock berries at the end of the first Hunger Games movie were inspired by deadly nightshade or “belladonna.” Every part of the plant is absolutely poisonous. If you eat a few berries, you could lose the ability to speak due to paralysis in your throat. Respiratory distress soon follows, in addition to violent convulsions and eventual death.
No one plants these in their backyard, but they are common everywhere and can easily find their way to your yard and garden. Don’t waste a second admiring their pretty and delicate purple flowers and iridescent purple berries. Dig them out by the roots and burn them!
7. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Many of us plant this with abandon due to its fragrant white buds and its dark green leaves. It’s a very popular ornamental shrub. It also has enough toxins on a leaf to kill an infant or toddler. In fact, even a sniff of the flower can induce serious symptoms.
The entire plant is poisonous, and ingesting any part of it leads to vomiting, diarrhea, circulatory problems, seizures, failure of the central nervous system, and tremors leading to coma and death. For my money, the pretty flowers aren’t worth the risk.
8. Mistletoe (Phoradendron flavescens)
No one plants mistletoe. It’s a parasitic plant that shows up in various trees and uses the tree to nourish its growth. It’s popular at Christmas. It has sticky, white berries. They’re absolutely poisonous. In fact, the entire plant is poisonous.
Symptoms of mistletoe poisoning include abdominal pain, diarrhea, gastroenteritis — which is an inflammation of the stomach and small intestines — and cardiovascular collapse. Pets are especially at risk around this plant, especially if it has emerged from the base of a tree.
If you need an excuse to exchange a kiss at Christmas, skip the mistletoe.
What would you add to this list? Share your knowledge in the section below:
I remember being devastated one spring when, as a new homeowner and a new gardener, I found all my carefully planted tulip bulbs unearthed and eaten. Squirrels were the culprits. Those furry, chattering creatures were not content with the plentiful supply of acorns from nearby trees, and they went after my new bulbs instead.
Squirrels certainly can be a nuisance to the gardener. They are avid foragers. In fact, they spend most of their time gathering food and either eating it or storing it for the future.
Squirrels are also quite persistent and will dig holes and chew through almost anything that gets in the way of their pursuit of a tasty meal. Instead of nibbling on flowers or shoots as deer and rabbits do, squirrels will dig down to pull up and devour bulbs.
However, there are some bulb plants and other plants that squirrels usually avoid. Here are seven garden plants that repel squirrels.
Daffodils and other members of the Narcissi family can deter not only squirrels but also deer and rabbits. Squirrels do not like their taste or their smell.
Although I am a fan of the bright sunny yellow daffodil, these blooms come in orange, white and combinations of bright colors as well. Daffodils are hardy in a range of climates. They are lovely border plants and can provide an early spring burst of color between your shrubs or around your trees.
Squirrels also are not fond of alliums, which are relatives of the onion family. The ornamental varieties of these plants have large, round flowers that come in white, purple, pink, yellow and blue. Edible alliums include garlic, scallions and onions. These varieties produce a strong odor that repels squirrels. Alliums are hardy perennials in many climates.
In addition to the interesting colors and patterns of their blooms, fritillaries, which are part of the Liliaceae family, have a strong scent that squirrels avoid. Fritillaries are hardy in zones 5 through 9.
These plants do well in rock gardens or as border plantings. Look for Fritillaria meleagris, which has single or double blooms in a checkboard maroon and or a red-purple or red-white pattern.
The strong scent from Galanthus bulbs may keep squirrels from foraging in your garden. There are many species of Galanthus, including perennial bulb varieties that bloom from spring well into fall.
The giant snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii) variety has large statement flowers that add drama to your garden.
Although I love the deep blue hyacinths best, these plants come in many shades of reds, purples and whites, too. These spring-flowering bulbs look impressive when planted in groups of 10 or more plants.
Hyacinths have fragrant flowers that bloom in dense clusters, and squirrels do not like them.
What’s great about these pretty plants is that they can thrive in shady areas of your garden. The plant stems are covered with dainty bell-shaped flowers that have a strong scent that squirrels dislike, as well as bright green, sword-shaped leaves.
These plants are easy to grow and they thrive as perennials in many zones.
I know I can count on geraniums to withstand cool temperatures of spring and fall as well as plenty of hot sun in the summer. In addition, these workhorses of the flower garden have a scent that repels squirrels.
Geraniums like moist, well-drained soil. Pinch spent blooms for more color.
In conclusion, it’s a good idea to think with your nose when trying to keep squirrels away from your garden. You also might want to try sprinkling hot spices, such as chili powder or cayenne pepper, around areas they frequent in your flower or vegetable beds.
Peppermint is another natural squirrel repellent. You can plant peppermint plants or spray a mist of water with a few drops of pure peppermint oil added to it.
How do you keep squirrels out of your garden? Share your tips in the section below:
Plants need sunshine to grow, but when the temperatures are too hot, your plants feel the impact. They can wilt, wither, and eventually die from too much heat.
The best way to prepare your plants is to incorporate protection into your garden plan. You can look for local plant varieties that are proven in your area’s weather.
On your hottest days, you’ll still need to take extra precautions, but picking the right kinds will give your plants a better chance.
You should also plan your garden for heat. Sun map your plot so you know what areas get the most sun. Use taller plants to offer shade to smaller ones. Add trees to your master plan, and use the shade they offer wisely as you plan.
Even if you haven’t planned for hot days, there are steps you can take to protect your plants from a heatwave. These will help ensure you don’t lose your harvest.
The roots of plants take up water and it’s delivered to the rest of the plant through a variety of veins.
It takes energy for the plant to get the water where it needs to go.
During the hottest part of the day, plants are expending energy simply staying alive in the heat.
They don’t have the energy they need to efficiently move water through their veins.
Mid-day watering may reach the roots, but it’s not likely to travel up the plant to where it’s most needed.
So when you water, make sure it’s in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit lower. This way your watering efforts aren’t wasted.
Since the roots have to get the water, drip irrigation systems help deliver the water where it’s needed. When you water from above, it’s harder for the roots to get as much water. They’re competing with the other plants or weeds in the area, and with evaporation from the sun.
You’re also more likely to cause runoff when you water with a traditional hose or sprinkler. The dry ground takes time to absorb the water. If you apply too much water too quickly, it’ll get the top soil wet and then runoff.
Drip irrigation allows you to slowly water the top soil, and the soil the roots are actually growing in. You want to get that water about 18 inches into the ground. That way the roots can continue to use it once you’ve stopped watering.
During the hottest days, you don’t want to overwater your plants. Moist soil and hot days offer the perfect environment for a variety of fungi and other plant problems. Overwatering encourages their growth.
Plan on soaking your garden once a week, and always test the soil for moisture before watering. Wilted leaves aren’t always a sign that more water is needed. Sometimes, plants wilt in the sun just because of the heat. If your wilted plants look better in the cool evening, they aren’t in need of water.
If you find certain plants do need more water, you don’t need to water everything to save that plant. Just spot water, allowing the water to penetrate the ground into the roots. Applying water correctly will help your plants survive in the heat.
Soil & Mulch
Now that we’ve tackled water, let’s talk about soil and mulch. Some soil holds water better than others. If you have a sandy garden, you’ll probably need to water more often.
No matter the state of your soil, a good layer of mulch will help hold in water. It’ll also help prevent weeds from growing. That’ll mean fewer plants will be competing for water.
You can use a variety of materials to mulch your garden. By using what you have on hand, you can keep your costs really low. Gardeners have used a thick layer of newspaper, straw, wood shavings, dried grass clippings, or cardboard to mulch plants.
If you use a light colored mulch, you’ll also help keep the sun’s rays from heating the soil too much. A lower temperature in the soil means your plants are more likely to survive.
Pruning & Fertilizing
A heatwave is not the time for pruning or fertilizing your plants. Both of these activities cause a burst of growth. Your plant will put all of its energy into growing, and won’t be as able to withstand the heat.
You also risk your plant absorbing the fertilizer too quickly, and burning as a result. So save your fertilizing (even with natural fertilizer) for a cooler day.
If you have wilted leaves, don’t prune them off until the heatwave passes. The leaves offer a bit of shade to the stem of the plant, and can help protect it.
Shade offers much relief to a hot plant. Shade keeps the direct sunlight off of your plants. It’ll also help them lower their temperature, and increase their defenses
For plants that are in containers, planters, or pots, move them into the shade is possible. For plants that are unmovable, you’ll need to look for other ways to get them shaded.
How to Create Shadow for Your Plants
If your garden lacks natural shade from taller plants or trees, you can easily set up some temporary patches using one of these methods:
Cardboard and Stakes
Use stiff cardboard and stakes to set up shade wherever you need it. You can cut the cardboard to the size you need. Then use a heavy duty stapler to attach it to your wooden stakes.
Pound the stake in the ground around your most delicate plants, and they’ll get instant shade. This set-up is inexpensive, easily installed, and highly portable.
If you’re caught with an unexpected heatwave, you can use your patio furniture to protect your plants. Just carefully set up a lawn chair to provide protection. Because of the legs, you may not be able to use this in all garden setups.
If you don’t have any lawn chairs, look around your property for items that are easily moveable and don’t weigh too much. You don’t want to compact your soil as you make shade. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in my garden:
- A laundry basket
- A cardboard box
- A plant pot
You can buy shade cloths online or in your local garden center. You can attach this to posts in your garden, or to stakes.
If you’re using dark colored shade cloth, keep an eye on your soil temperatures. If the cloth is too close to the ground, you can inadvertently bake your plants.
You can gently pull a paper bag over your plants. You’ll want to staple or tape the end closed to keep it from flying off.
You don’t want to obstruct air flow for too long however, so be sure to remove these bags as soon as the heat of the day has passed.
Wood Lattice with Bricks
If you have a piece of wood lattice and bricks, you can make shade. You’ll want to make four stacks of bricks, one for each corner of the lattice. Place these where you need it, and then set the lattice on top. This method is especially useful for newly sown seeds and low crops.
What Plants Need Shade the Most?
If you aren’t able to shade your entire garden, you’ll want to prioritize your plants. Some plants will bolt if they overheat, while others may wither a bit, but will bounce back.
Here are some of the plants you’ll want to be extra careful with in a heatwave:
- Cauliflower and Broccoli
- Any cool weather crops
If your area is typically hot, you should hold off planting these heat-sensitive plants until closer to fall’s cooler weather. During the hot sun, plant your heat-loving plants like tomatoes, corn, and melons. That way you take advantage of natural growing patterns that each plant needs.
Sometimes even with your tender loving care, plants wilt. It’s a reaction when the plant leaves are shedding water faster than the roots can get it up the stem. It’s a natural phenomenon similar to the way humans sweat. It helps the plants protect themselves.
Smaller, or freshly transplanted plants are more likely to wilt in the sun. That’s because their root system isn’t as established yet.
Usually, your plants will bounce back on their own once the temperatures drop. You’ll notice that they look normal in the evenings, and then wilt when the sun returns to high in the sky.
If your plants are still wilted in the evening, double check that their soil is moist. If not, give the thirsty plant a nice long drink to saturate the roots.
If watering doesn’t help, you’ll also want to ensure that you aren’t dealing with root rot. This can cause wilting leaves as well.
Is it hot where you are?
What are your best tips for keeping your garden growing strong even in the summer heat? I know our readers would love to hear what works for you, so please share in the comment section.
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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Corn has a bad reputation today. Besides being genetically modified, corn today has been transformed into high-fructose corn syrup. It’s creeping into all kinds of foods and beverages where it never belonged.
The modern agriculture movement has taken this important crop and turned it into something to be avoided. The soil becomes so depleted it needs tons of fertilizer to continue producing. It’s been eroded, and completely disturbed. But a quick look at history will show that our ancestors depended on this staple crop.
It’s a calorie-dense food that’s fed countless people and animals throughout time. It grows six out of the seven continents, making it an ideal survival food in almost every climate.
Corn is a great addition to a survival garden. It’s fairly easy to grow, and is easier to harvest than other grains. There’s no need to thresh the corn crop after all.
Types of Corn
You just need to pick the right variety of corn. There are six main categories, but I’m going to focus on only three, sweet corn, field or dent corn, and popcorn. The other main types are flint corn, ornamental corn, and flour corn. Since these types have different uses, you’ll want to be sure and grow the kind or kinds that you need.
Harvested when the kernels are in the milky stage, sweet corn is what you find in the grocery store on the cob. It’s sweet, tender, and flavorful. Many gardeners plant varieties of sweet corn in their home garden.
Field (Dent) Corn
Field corn isn’t as sweet as sweet corn, but it has a multitude of uses. It’s used as animal feed, ground and turned into cornmeal, or prepared as grits. It’s perfect crop to grow for survival.
Before harvesting, field corn is allowed to dry a bit while still on the stalk. As the moisture leaves each kernel, a little dent appears.
If you have space to grow an extra variety of corn, consider popcorn. The kernels pop up fluffy and provide a nice snack.
After you’ve harvested your popcorn ears, you’ll have to dry out the kernels even more. Some growers prefer an oven, others let the sun do the job.
How to Grow Corn
No matter which variety of corn you decide to plant, make sure you find seeds that are open pollinated, heirloom varieties. These seeds haven’t been genetically modified, and they have a historical track record of helping nations survive.
If you plant more than one variety of corn, be sure to leave some space between them. At least 500 feet is recommended. Otherwise the different types of corn will cross pollinate and that can affect how each one tastes and grows.
Corn has a reputation of being a fairly needy crop. If you plant heirloom seeds, you won’t need to water it nearly as much as today’s popular varieties. After all, it survived all those years before irrigation was readily available. Mulch will help keep water in your soil.
However, this crop does require a lot of nitrogen. It’s known as a heavy feeder plant. In days past, each seed was planted on top of a dead fish. As the fish decomposed, it supplied the growing corn with the extra nitrogen it needed.
If fish aren’t in abundance where you live, you can also use compost and blood meal. You’ll want to give the soil an initial boost before planting. Once the corn reaches knee high, you’ll want to give it some more.
Corn thrives in soil that drains well. You should pick a location with full sun. You’ll want to know the length of your growing season, and plant a variety that does well.
Where I live, the growing season is on the short end. We often have killing frosts until Memorial Day or even a little past then. The locals recommend starting seed indoors and transplanting it to the soil in June. The saying here is that you want your corn, “knee high by the 4th of July,” but check with others in your area to learn what works best where you are.
Rotate Your Crops
Because corn pulls many nutrients out of the soil, it’s important to rotate your crops each year.
Many people plant a cover crop after corn, to help improve the soil.
Harvesting Your Corn
Sweet corn is ready to harvest when the tassel begins turning dark brown. You’ll want to open up an ear and check to make sure the kernels are milky. You also want to make sure the kernels are well developed and plump.
If the liquid from the kernels is watery, it’s too early to harvest. Let them continue to develop and test again later.
Field corn and popcorn need to be left on the stalks longer. They’ll begin the drying process before you harvest them.
To pick corn, twist the ear gently towards the ground. It’ll break off. Sweet corn is best picked on the day you’re planning on eating or preserving it. That’ll keep the flavor the best.
Preserving Your Corn
Once you’ve picked your corn, it’s time to eat it or preserve your harvest. You’ll need to shuck your corn, removing the silk and husks. But hang onto at least some of these—we’ll cover their benefits in a later section.
You can stockpile sweet corn in a couple of ways. You can dry it, freeze it, or can it. There are pros and cons to each method, but drying and canning are probably better for survival purposes. You might not always have electricity to run your freezer.
Field corn and popcorn are dried and stored either on the cob or as kernels. When you’re ready to cook field corn into cornbread, you’ll need to grind it into flour first. Be sure your grain mill can handle corn.
If you’ll be feeding corn to your critters, you can store it on the cob in a corn crib. The slats on this structure ensure that air can circulate around the cobs. This will keep them from molding.
Now that you have yourself some corn, what can you do with it? Corn can be used in recipes, to improve your health, and around the homestead. It’s a versatile crop.
Since corn stores so well, it’s an ideal addition to your food stockpiles. Once you’ve dried some kernels, you can easily roast it and turn it into parched corn. These original corn nuts will be handy to take on the road.
Cornmeal mush is another way to use your corn. Mix 2 cups of corn meal with 2 cups of cold water. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and carefully add the cornmeal mixture. After it returns to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer while you stir occasionally. It’ll take about ten minutes to thicken up.
Whole kernel corn is a popular ingredient in salsa. You can combine your corn with other produce from your garden to create a delicious dip.
You can pop your popcorn in a pan with a little oil. Put a tablespoon of oil in a cold pan, and add enough popcorn to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t want to add too many kernels or it’ll burn. Cover your pan, turn on your burner, and slowly heat the pan.
You’ll want to shake fairly frequently. This will prevent any from sticking and burning. When the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit for a minute or two in case any additional kernels pop. Serve with butter, salt, and any of your favorite seasonings.
Corn used in plenty of other recipes as well or you can turn it into flour or use it to feed your chickens. You can even use corn husks to wrap tamales in. Take time now to try some recipes and see what you and your family enjoy eating. That way survival foods won’t come as a shock to their system.
Corn silk tea has historically been used as a diuretic. It’s used to treat bladder and kidney ailments. You’ll want to finely chop your clean corn silk. Then, steep a tablespoon of this in a cup of hot water for ten or fifteen minutes. Strain out the silk before drinking.
In addition to its diuretic benefits, corn silk tea helps the body release extra fluid. It’s a gentle detoxifying agent.
Corn silk can also be used topically. It has some antiseptic effects, which helps promote wound healing.
Around the Homestead
Corn has been used as animal feed throughout history. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feed chickens or raise hogs, corn can help. Typically, you’d crack the corn through a grain mill once before feeding. The act of cracking the corn helps the animals to break it down better.
Saving Seed for Future Harvests
It’s important to save some of your crop each year to plant the following year. Not having to purchase seeds every year will help you become more self-sufficient. Saving corn seed is fairly simple.
You want to harvest your ears after the husks become dry. Then, you need to ensure the kernels are thoroughly dry. You can hang the ear upside down to help dry it out evenly.
Once dried, shell your corn. These seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location. They will remain viable for several years if properly stored.
Final Thoughts on Corn
Corn that hasn’t been genetically modified is a survival crop utilized throughout history. It’s beneficial as a food, for its medicinal purposes, and for feeding your animals.
Are you currently growing this essential crop? What varieties grow best in your neck of the woods? Please share your corn tips and tricks in the comment section, and click on the banner below to find out more survival secrets from our ancestors!
This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.
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As homesteaders, and preppers, we’re always looking for things that are versatile, easy to store and carry, and cheap.
Well, there’s one food that meets all of these criteria and then some: beans. They have a ton of health and survival benefits and are easy to grow and dry.
To Bean or Not to Bean?
Why you should grow or stockpile beans for survival? There are at least four reasons to include beans in your stash.
You can grow a beautiful garden and have a ton of veggies and fruits stored, but you likely won’t have much high-quality meat if the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) happens.
You can always hunt for it if it’s safe or even possible, but it’s good to have a substitute on hand. Beans have more than enough protein to get you through; 14-16 grams per cup.
One concern though; unlike meat, beans aren’t a complete protein; they lack a few essential amino acids. Pair them with brown rice, oatmeal, nuts or other plant-based proteins and you’ll round it out. In fact, beans and rice is a great carb/protein/fiber combination packed with vitamins and minerals that will feed a ton of people for practically nothing.
Packed with Fiber
Foods high in soluble fiber are beneficial for several reasons that are beneficial for us, especially in a survival situation. Fiber keeps your digestive tract clean, which helps prevent all sorts of illnesses from constipation to colon cancer.
Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and carry them out of your body, so it naturally lowers cholesterol (goodbye statins that won’t be available if SHTF) and helps prevent heart disease.
Fiber helps you stay fuller longer because it takes longer to digest. Because of this, beans have a low glycemic index, which means that they’re good for diabetics. This could be critical in a survival situation when insulin may not be available. Bonus: if you’re trying to lose weight, feeling full longer helps keep you from overeating.
That’s always a good thing!
Packed with Nutrients and Antioxidants
Beans have a ton of minerals including folate, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium and zinc. All of these are considered minerals that most people don’t eat enough of, so beans can help round out your diet now and keep you healthy when SHTF.
Beans contain antioxidants, specifically phytosterols and isoflavones, that protect your body from all sorts of illnesses, including different types of cancer, premature aging, and cardiovascular disease.
Beans are Versatile
You can do a kazillion things with beans. You can make baked beans, ham beans, bean soup, bean dip, refried beans, beans for salad; the list goes on. It would be hard to get tired of beans, especially if you have a variety of them.
OK already – beans are good for you, but how do you turn those beans in your garden into those nice dried beans found in the grocery isle that will keep forever? You’re going to be surprised how easy it is.
What Kind of Beans Should you Grow?
Honestly, I personally don’t grow beans because the yield doesn’t merit the effort right now. For instance, you’ll have to grow at least 25 pinto bean plants to yield 1 lb. of beans, and that’s assuming maximum yield. It may take more than 100 plants to yield that.
To put it in perspective, you’d need about a 10-foot row to yield 1 pound. Of course, if you’re in a survival situation and live on a large lot of land (which I don’t have at the moment), then you may want to plant them. Right now, I’d rather use that space to grow veggies I can preserve and just buy my beans.
But if you do decide to grow beans, here you go: Good dry beans include pintos, great northerns, cranberries, limas, kidneys, garbanzos and navys.
Dry beans grow best in warm, dry climates and need good draining soil to keep from molding before they germinate. You may want to start your beans inside because you can’t put them outside until the threat of frost has passed. Also, you want them to mature in the fall because they won’t drop pods if the temperature is above 80 degrees. F.
Grow them in full sun and keep the soil around them loose, well-drained, and well fertilized with your compost. Depending on the bean, they’ll take from 70-120 to reach harvest. In warm, dry climates, the beans will likely dry themselves right on the plant; when the leaves have turned brown and the pods are crunchy, try the beans. They’re ready if you can’t bite them.
You want to get them in before the frost or fall rains even if they’re not dry yet; hang them in the barn or cellar or somewhere else where it’s dry until they’re ready to store. You could also spread them out on a flat screen in the sunshine or another warm place. Pods will split open when they’re completely dry.
You’ll have to remove them from the shells (thus the name “shell beans”) then remove the thresh from them, then store them in an airtight container.
Beans grow great next to bush beans, cucumbers, corn, potatoes, rosemary, strawberries and celery. Don’t plant them with onions, kohlrabi, or beets. Also, don’t
The good thing about storing (or growing) beans now is that if you need them, they’re versatile. You can sprout them to make great, protein- and nutrient-rich salad ingredients. You can also use them to feed your livestock – check out my article on 14 Cheap Ways to Feed Your Chickens.
The plant scraps make good scratch for your chickens, too.
Some Beans Make Good Flours
If it comes down to it, beans can make a great, protein-rich flour. Garbanzo flour is popular today with organic bakers, especially for people who are gluten-intolerant.
The downside to this is that beans are tough to grind into flour – you’ll need a home mill because, unlike herbs, you can’t grind them in your blender or coffee mill. Again, it will take a ton (not literally) of beans to make even a pound of flour, so you may just want to buy it.
Beans belong in your stockpile, in large quantities if you’re prepping for a long-term survival event. When cooking them, remember that they contain a mild toxin that causes gastrointestinal issues such as gas and bloating. Kidney beans contain a more extreme toxin and eating raw or undercooked kidney beans can make you extremely ill, and can even kill you.
Read our article How to Rehydrate And Prepare Your Preserved Food to avoid the mistake some people are making when cooking dried beans.
If you want to grow them, you’re not alone – many people enjoy growing beans. Be aware though that if you’re going to do it, plant plenty of them because the yield is low.
Beans really are the ideal survival food. They’re nutritious, versatile, cheap, lightweight, and easy to store. Plus, they keep for a long time.
If you’ve grown dry beans, please tell us about what types of beans you grew, what problems, if any, you had, and what your yield was in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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The ability to grow plants and raise fish organically without the use of pesticides or fertilizers is accomplished through a method called aquaponics. This system of growing plants and raising fish without the use of soil was discovered by researchers from the University of Virgin Islands while looking for ways through which you can grow plants organically. And, with just a little sweat equity and a few dollars, you too can have a backyard aquaponics system working for you!
How Does It Work?
Basically, aquaponics works in a win-win situation. What happens is that it combines the traditional aquaculture with hydroponics. In aquaponics, plants feed on the effluents released by aquatic animals. Those plants, in turn, purify water to keep the fish more comfortable.
Between 2006 and 2007, this technique was widely adapted and is now commercially used on many farms to grow plants organically. According to some farmers, aquaponics grows plants 50%-100% faster as compared to inorganic farming. With just a small amount of space, you’re able to deliver ten times more as compared to older methods.
What Is Aquaponics?
Aquaponics is essentially the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (growing plants). This process takes advantage of the aquatic affluent (fish waste) deposited in water to provide essential nutrients to your plants. When the water is affluent rich, it becomes toxic to the aquatic animals. During this stage, plants absorb and use the nutrients eliminating the high water toxicity for your fish to survive.
There are so many benefits you’ll enjoy when you make a backyard aquaponic system. Unlike a fish pond where you’ll have to exchange water every now and then, an aquaponic system relies on the relationship between plants and aquatic animals. Freshwater fish release ammonia which is converted to nitrite by a nitrifying bacterium called nitrosomonas. Another nitrifying bacterium called nitrobacter converts the nitrite to nitrate which is used by the plants to freshen the water for the fish. This process of converting ammonia to nitrite then to nitrate is referred to as “the nitrogen cycle.”
Types of Aquaponic Systems
There are three major types of Aquaponic systems:
Media Filled Beds
This method is the simplest and is commonly used in most backyard aquaponics systems. It involves filling containers with medium and small clay pebbles then planting seedlings directly into the media.
Fish tank water is then pumped over the media to allow the plants to feed on the excess nutrients. The medium clay pebbles act as biological filters where they help to eliminate toxins giving your fish fresh and clean water in the long run.
There are two major ways which this Aquaponics system can be operated: continuous water flow method and the flood and drain (also known as ebb and flow) method.
Nutrient Film Technique
This method involves pumping nutrient rich fish water through PVC pipes. Plants are grown inside cups with small holes at the bottom to allow the roots to reach the water in the PVC gutters.
It’s important to understand that this method is only suitable for leafy green plants with small root systems and not larger plants with bigger, invasive roots.
Deep Water Culture
This method is commonly used in both commercial and backyard aquaponics systems because it’s relatively cheaper to setup and operate. This method uses a foam “raft” which floats on top of water. Plants are held in holes made in the raft in a way that the roots dangle into the water. For perfect results, fish water can either be pumped on the floating racks or the racks can be placed directly on fish water.
Benefits of a Backyard Aquaponics System
Setting up a backyard aquaponics system in your garden comes with lots of benefits such as environmental improvement, better health and higher quality nutrition. This section will review some of the most essential benefits which farmers can expect to enjoy.
Unlike other gardening methods, aquaponics system allows you to plant your seedlings close together thus saving on space. Since this method involves submerging plant roots in nutrient rich water, there is less overcrowding which helps you save on space as compared to other gardening techniques.
Another benefit of backyard aquaponics system is that you don’t have to weed anymore. This method doesn’t encourage the growth of weeds since there is no soil involved. Farmers are able to enjoy the freedom of growing plants at home without weeding.
No Soil Pests
Since Aquaponics doesn’t rely on soil, farmers are relieved the burden of using pesticides to eliminate soil pests. Pesticides destroy the plant slowly over time due to toxins absorbed by the plant.
Plants Grow Faster
Backyard aquaponics system allows plants to access nutrients for 24 hours each day making them grow faster. According to research, vegetables such as lettuce have been proven to grow twice as fast as compared to when planted normally on soil.
Making Your Own Backyard Aquaponics System
There are many ways through which you can make your own backyard aquaponics system. Regardless of the method you choose, always ensure that your system is able to grow plants in a way that confers most of the environmental benefits such as low environmental impacts and water efficiency.
Without wasting time, we will go through a step by step program on how to make a Flood and Drain system.
Flood and drain system
Necessary Equipment and Material
- ~50-gal Fish Tank
- Tank Cover
- Gravel / Grow Bed Fill
- Pipes & Fittings (as required)
- A Grow Bed (roughly 6 – 8-ft3 and 12-in deep)
- Water Pump
- Place your fish tank on a flat surface away from direct sun to reduce algae growth.
- Place the pump and feed pipe in the fish tank.
- Place the grow bed near the fish tank. Fill it with gravel and make sure it’s close to the fill pipe. Also make sure the drain pipe from the grow bed feeds directly into the fish tank.
- Install the timer on the pump and set it to cycle for 15min on, 45 min off.
- Join the pipes and the pump together to connect the fish tank with the grow bed. Also remember to connect the overflow drain in the grow bed to remove water.
- Plant your seedlings into the grow bed and place your fish inside the fist tank.
- Test your fish water to determine the level of Ammonium, nitrite and nitrate. If you notice that the pH level is high or low, you can adjust it accordingly to keep the water neutral.
- Turn on the pump to start the cycling process. This involves circulating nutrient rich water from the fish tank to the grow bed then back to the tank again. After a few days, you’ll notice that your seedlings are growing; a milestone which reveals that your aquaponics system was successfully established.
In summary, there are tons of benefits which farmers enjoy once they set up a backyard aquaponics system. The system is cost efficient and makes backyard gardening more productive and economical. According to research, aquaponic systems use about 1/10th the amount of water used when farming on the ground. This technique helps you produce a tremendous amount of fish and vegetables within a short time in a small area.
Have you had the unpleasant experience of visiting your garden in the morning only to find that your tender young shoots have been cut off overnight, as if with a pair of shears?
If so, you may have had a nighttime visit from a rabbit or two. Rabbits are cute to look at, but they can be a real nuisance to gardeners. Known to be voracious eaters, they can wipe out an entire area of new growth overnight.
Because they have both upper and lower incisors, rabbits tend to make a clean cut on a stalk when they eat. Other telltale signs of rabbits in your garden are pea-sized droppings in and around the garden, and chewed tree bark close to ground level. Tufts of fur on branches and areas that reveal digging activity or even bedding down also can be signs of rabbits.
Rabbits are timid animals and do not like to stray far from cover. One way to discourage them from getting into your garden is to eliminate hiding places such as areas with tall grass and piles of stone or brush.
Another idea is to plant alfalfa or clover outside your garden area. Rabbits are particularly fond of these two plants and may remain there for their meal– especially if it feels safer — instead of bothering your other plants.
One more plan of action to deter rabbits is to add some plants to your garden that rabbits dislike. Rabbits tend to go for tender shoots and tender woody plants that have a thin bark, so your young plants are at the highest risk of being eaten. However, if you place some less attractive plants among the ones that the long-eared guys like, they may stay away from your garden.
Generally, rabbits dislike plants that have a strong fragrance or have fuzzy leaves. A determined rabbit may simply graze around the plants he does not like, but here are seven garden plants that repel rabbits.
1. Veronica – With its pretty flowering spikes of blue, pink or white, veronica adds some height (one to two feet) and texture to your garden. Veronica prefers full or part sun and well-drained soil. And the bunnies don’t like it.
2. Lavender – You may love the fragrance of lavender, but rabbits do not. This tough beauty can withstand both heat and drought. You can plant it as single plants or form a hedge with many plants to deter pesky bunnies. Lavender prefers full sun and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.
3. Siberian Iris – This elegant iris variety has gorgeous purple, rose, blue or white blooms and big grassy foliage. It adds beauty to your garden while potentially deterring rabbits. The Siberian iris grows from one to three feet tall and prefers full or part sun and well-drained soil.
4. Salvia – With a wide variety of bold colors to choose from, salvia is a colorful addition to your garden. Try it as a border plant to keep rabbits from entering your vegetable garden. Salvia likes full sun and well-drained soil, and it can grow from one to even five feet tall, depending on the variety you choose.
5. Peony – They take a while to establish themselves from new roots, but when they do, peonies are a joy to behold. With large late springtime flowers and a beautiful variety of colors, peonies are an attractive addition to your garden. What’s even better is that rabbits do not like their tough foliage. Peonies like full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to seven feet, depending on the variety of plant.
6. Verbena – Lovely verbena can grow from a mere six inches to three feet in height, and it produces delicate pink, red, white or blue flowers, depending on the variety you select. Rabbits do not like the way verbena smells and usually will steer clear of the plant. Verbena prefers full sun and well-drained soil.
7. Daylily — Easy to grow and maintain, daylilies come in a rainbow variety of shades. They like full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to six feet tall. Rabbits do not like their thick stalks.
Keep in mind that if your long-eared nighttime visitors are hungry enough, they will eat almost anything green in your garden. However, your plants are particularly attractive to rabbits when they are young and tender. Once your plants are established, they are less tempting, and, as a result, other plants may more easily discourage rabbits.
How do you keep rabbits out of your garden? Share your ideas in the section below:
Which crops grow best? How long is the growing season? When is the last average frost date (assuming you aren’t living in a tropical zone)?
These are the sorts of questions to start with when planning your survival garden.
And you really need this knowledge, because even experienced gardeners find themselves overwhelmed when trying to grow food in a completely new climate.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide standard of splitting the country up into 11 basic hardiness zones based on the area’s coldest average temperatures in winter. Their interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map is therefore an excellent place to start.
How Do I know My Climate Zone?
Once you know your region’s USDA climate zone, you can identify the factors that influence your survival crops, such as how long winters last, how cold it gets, the length of the growing season, and which food crops can and can’t thrive.
The USDA hardiness definitions and map does provide a great basic framework to get you started, but keep in mind that it does have its limitations. Hardiness is only measured by the coldest temperatures of the year, and it doesn’t take other climate factors into account. Still, you need to be aware of:
- The amount of precipitation,
- Maximum temperatures
- Soil conditions.
Both the high deserts of New Mexico and much of Connecticut, for example, are USDA Zone 6a, but their climates are still completely different. If you happen to live in the western United States, for example, and you’d like a more specific climate zone map, Sunset’s detailed climate zone map takes much more into account, helping you pinpoint your area’s overall growing conditions.
Before you get planting, you should also be aware of micro-climates, which are basically mini-climate zones created by features like bodies of water, parking lots or, more likely, the walls of your home. Taking advantage of micro-climates in your garden can help ensure that you’re plantings will thrive.
For more information on your region’s growing conditions, as well as help with common pests, soil amendments and other gardening stuff, consider visiting a local nursery, botanical garden or County Extension Office.
What Grows Where?
Each USDA climate zone has its own planting schedule, and has two basic growing seasons: warm and cool. The cool growing season, perfect for growing carrots, greens and radishes, takes place every spring and fall, and sometimes winter in the warmer zones. The warm growing season, featuring tomatoes, corn and squash, gets going in late spring and lasts through early fall.
Growing seasons in the sub-tropics and the tropics work a little differently, as the growing season technically lasts all year. Their planting times are generally based around annual rainfall patterns.
Below is a basic overview of the 13 USDA plant hardiness zones. Note that you can extend your growing season by utilizing micro-climates and by offering protection from the cold with row covers or cold frames.
- Located in Alaska, the northern continental US and high mountains, this zone is defined by long, cold winters and a very short growing season.
- Growing season: April – September
- Coldest temperatures: -60 to -40F
- Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, other vegetables with short time between planting and harvest
- Located in the northernmost US states and cool mountain regions, these zones enjoy a slightly warmer and longer growing season with very cold winters.
- Growing season: April – October
- Coldest temperatures: -40 to -20F
- Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, sweet peas, pole beans, winter squash, red and white potatoes
- Encompassing much of the continental US, these planting zones stretch from Washington and Oregon, down to New Mexico, and across the midwest to New England.
- Growing season: March – October
- Coldest temperatures: -20 to 0F
- Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, beans, strawberries, lettuce and other greens in the spring and fall
- Defined by long, hot summers and mild winters, these zones cover much of the southern US, including the desert southwest and many southern states.
- Growing season: March-November
- Coldest temperatures: 0 to 20F
- Best plants to grow: Corn, tomatoes, melons, squash, collard greens, carrots, bush beans, asparagus and leafy greens during the cooler months
- These sub-tropical to mild temperate growing zones cover much of the deep South, the Gulf coast, most of Florida and southern California. If protection is offered, the growing season can last throughout the year, though the occasional frost may still occur.
- Growing season: February-November
- Coldest temperatures: 20 to 40F
- Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, melons, squash, corn, peppers, yams, citrus, peaches, figs, bananas, salad greens and sweet peas during the cooler months
- Found only in Hawaii and the US territory of Puerto Rico, these tropical growing zones feature a tropical climate and year-round growing season with planting times based around the wet and dry seasons.
- Growing season: Year-round
- Coldest temperatures: 40 to 70F
- Best crops to grow: kale, okinawa spinach, pole beans, passionfruit, sweet potato, red potato, cassava, pineapple, pumpkin, mango, papaya, Thai chili peppers, citrus, bananas, taro
- Crops to avoid: Any fruits requiring chill time, including berries, cherries, apples and peaches
Growing your own food is a fun, family-friendly hobby with tasty and nutritious rewards. Whether you’re a newbie trying out your first tomato plants, or a seasoned pro moving to a new state, understanding your garden’s climate zone is the first step towards planning and growing a successful, productive garden.
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Deer are lovely, gentle animals that are a pleasant sight to see – when they are on someone else’s property, that is. As anyone who has had hungry deer visit their garden knows, deer cease to be appealing when they devour your flowers and vegetables.
Deer are crafty and agile creatures that can jump fences and find their way around many obstacles in pursuit of a tasty meal. So what are some natural ways to deter deer from your garden?
Deer tend to avoid plants with strong odors, with unusual textures — such as fuzzy leaves or spiny stems — or with bitter tastes. Therefore, you may find success in protecting your tender greens and flowers from deer by building a border around them of plants that the animals dislike.
Here are seven garden plants that repel deer:
1. Bee balm
A native wildflower that has been hybridized for gardens, bee balm can make a striking addition to your garden with dramatic summer blooms.
The fragrant flower attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, but deer do not care for the aroma. You can harvest the leaves for use in salad, or you can dry them for a delicious tea.
If you have room in a sunny spot, you can let bee balm plants spread for large splashes of color. Picking the flowers or deadheading them encourages a second round of blooms. To repel deer, use it as a border plant or in containers around your garden area.
Deer tend to steer clear of chives because of their strong odor and flavor. Chives are easy to grow and once they are established, they self-sow. In addition, chives boast pretty white or purple flowers in summer.
To deter deer, you can plant chives throughout your landscaping and alongside your veggies. They also grow well in containers.
Available in a wide variety of color, cosmos is an easy-maintenance flowering plant that deer dislike. Cosmos tolerate a wide range of soil types and can handle dry conditions.
Cosmos plants can range from one to five feet, so they can add height and color to your beds. Pinching off flowers will increase blooming. Fast-growing cosmos can be used as a hedge around the plants deer find tasty.
Home-grown garlic adds flavor and nutrition to many pasta dishes, and guess what? Deer don’t like the smell or taste of garlic. Thus, by planting some garlic bulbs among your vegetables, you can deter deer from munching on your other plants.
Other than needing well-draining soil, garlic requires little maintenance.
If you’re looking for something larger to deter deer from your garden beds, consider oleander. An evergreen shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall, oleander has attractive white, red, pink or yellow blossoms in spring and early summer.
The plant is poisonous to deer, and deer instinctively avoid it.
A hardy herb with needle-like leaves that are a favorite of many cooks, rosemary has a strong aroma that deer dislike.
The woody-stemmed plant can commonly reach three feet in height, and in mild climates, it makes an attractive evergreen hedge that displays white, pink, purple or blue flowers in the spring. Rosemary likes full sun and well-drained soil.
7. Russian sage
If you are looking for an attractive easy-to-grow herb that deer dislike, look no further than Russian sage. This hardy perennial will grow up to five feet tall, boasting fragrant and lovely lavender-blue flowers in the spring.
Russian sage can provide a pretty border to deter hungry deer from your veggies and plants.
Keep in mind that deer are persistent creatures, and many gardeners report that what deterred deer one season will have seemingly no effect the following season.
What plants do you use that repel deer? Share your tips in the section below:
When we think of the Native Americans of centuries ago, we tend to think of a nomadic warrior people, living in teepees and following the buffalo herds. This image comes mainly from the Plains Indians, who depended on bison for their survival. But not all tribes were the same. Many were quite stable, living in the same place for years and augmenting the game they hunted with crops that they grew.
We need look no further than American history to confirm this. The Pilgrims, arriving at Plymouth, nearly died of starvation their first winter. But although some did die, many more survived. Their prosperity that next year was largely due to the local Native American tribe, which taught them how to successfully farm.
But the farming techniques of Native Americans were different than that of Europeans. They didn’t use draft animals and they didn’t plow the soil. This has led many to believe that their farms were simple slash-and-burn operations, where they cleared an area in the forest by killing off whatever was there and planted crops until their efforts depleted the soil, at which time they would move on to start a similar operation elsewhere.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. A slash-and-burn operation would go contrary to the Native American’s way of life, which was much more in harmony with nature than Europeans or Anglo-Americans can imagine. To kill plants, merely to plant others, would be beyond their understanding.
Rather, the Indians farmed in harmony with nature, planting in many small beds. Their farms were sustainable as well, mostly depending on perennials that aren’t cultivated today. But by using perennials, they were able keep their gardens going, with less effort and greater yields. In some places, they cultivated over 250 varieties of plants, using the plants for everything from food, to construction, to building canoes and producing dyes and glues.
In fact, the yields of the Native Americans in the Northeast part of what is now the United States were so great that their corn (or maize) production regularly out-produced that of the wheat farmers of England. Part of this was due to the higher yield that corn produces, but part was due to their superior farming techniques — techniques that did not require plowing or draft animals.
So what can we learn from the farming style of Native Americans who lived nearly 400 years ago? Here’s just a few tips:
Start With the Soil
Any gardener knows that the most important part of any garden is the soil. Without good soil, no garden is going to produce well. In this, Native Americans in the past had an advantage, as the soil was deep and rich. In most parts, the soil had a high biomass content, which is essential to replacing the nutrients.
Native Americans also knew how to care for that soil. They didn’t plow the land like European farmers. Recent experimentation is proving that plowing is not healthy for the soil. More than anything, it brings the subterraneous microorganisms to the surface, where they die. By not plowing, you keep the soil healthier by keeping these microorganisms alive.
One of the most important subterraneous organisms in any garden are mycorrhizal fungi. These attach to the roots of plants, forming a symbiotic relationship with them. While the fungi feed off the plant, they also extend the roots system, drawing in water and nutrients for the plant. A garden with a good network of these fungi will grow faster, produce healthier plants, and bring higher yields of produce.
Any soil is going to need added nutrients to replace those used by the plants growing in the garden. Native Americans understood this and were constantly providing nutrition to the soil of their gardens.
Composting wasn’t a separate activity for Native Americans who farmed. They didn’t have a compost heap or compost bin. Rather, their gardens were their compost heaps. Leftover plant matter was cut up and placed directly in the garden to break down and provide nutrients.
At the same time, adding plant matter to the soil functioned like mulch, covering the soil and preventing weeds from growing. This basically eliminated the need to weed, preventing one more activity which would disturb the soil.
Potash is essentially wood ash. But the potash used by Native Americans went a bit farther than that. They would throw the bones from their kills in the fire, as well as the shells from bird eggs. This allowed the bones and shells to burn, breaking them down so that they were ready to add to the soil. Ashes were regularly spread on their vegetable gardens, providing valuable nutrients, especially calcium.
Urine is an almost perfect fertilizer, containing many of the essential nutrients that plants need for growth. However, in its natural state, it is too acidic. So Native Americans would mix urine with water to dilute it. The acid was still there, but it was not concentrated. Added to the garden, the potash, which was alkaline, would counteract the acid in the urine and bring the pH of the soil back into balance.
Urine also served the purpose of “marking” the garden, helping to keep some pests out. Animals regularly mark their territory, warning other animals. While this doesn’t serve as a warning sign to you and I, it does to raccoons and other animals who would love to feast at our gardens.
Another thing we should all remember from our elementary school lessons about the Pilgrims is the use of fish as a fertilizer. Not all tribes used fish, and those that did usually didn’t use the whole fish. Rather, they used the leftover parts from cleaning and eating the fish. Like urine, fish contains all the necessary nutrients for plant growth, making it one of the best fertilizers around.
With the use of natural fertilizers, one major source of chemicals was eliminated from the Native American garden. Another way that they avoided chemicals is not using chemical pesticides. Granted, they didn’t have modern pesticides, but the point isn’t whether they had them or not, it’s whether they used them or not.
Not using chemicals in their gardens had another advantage. It made the garden a great habitat for toads, turtles, praying mantises and birds, who ate the insects which would otherwise destroy the plants in the garden.
Almost everyone who has grown a vegetable garden has heard of the “Three Sisters” – corn, beans and squash. This traditional means of planting was common for Native Americans. Each of these three provide benefits for the others, making them an excellent combination to plant together.
But Native Americans didn’t just plant the sisters together. Their gardens were a mixture of many different things. By mixing plant types, rather than making neat rows, they prevented insects from traveling from plant to plant, destroying them.
I mentioned earlier that Native Americans planted for sustainability, using many perennials. They also harvested in a way to prolong the life of the plants. Rather than dig up a plant and take all its fruit, they’d only remove what they needed at the time. With a potato plant, for example, they’d only take a few potatoes, covering the roots back up so that the plant could replace them.
Although not as commonly thought of as part of gardening, aquaculture is an important aspect of farming. Some tribes depended greatly on freshwater water life as a part of their diet. The salmon in the Northwest, as well as fresh water shellfish, were consumed by various Native American tribes.
While they left these water creatures to thrive in the wild, they did cultivate them. Mostly, this was by improving their environment so that they could grow well. They moved rocks to create the most productive clam beds and transplanted salmon eggs to new stream beds. In this, they increased their yields of these creatures, helping to ensure an abundance of food.
What would you add? Share your thoughts on how Native Americans gardened in the section below:
There are many ways to use herbs and they’re easy to grow even if you live in a small apartment because they’re small enough to pose as house plants. A bonus is that they’re fragrant, pretty, and easy to take care of. They’re great to use fresh to season food, but they’re medicinal too.
In a SHTF situation, having these ingredients will be good for bartering as well, because everyone will need them for medicinal purposes or just as a luxury.
Our ancestors used these plants well for medical purposes, and you need to know how to prepare them too. Some recipes will call for them to be used straight up or dried, but many call for teas, tinctures, poultices, infusions, decoctions, sprouting, or powders so you need to learn how to properly make those, too.
Read this great article about growing herbs indoors to see where to start from, then follow the steps below to see how to turn any of them them into natural remedies.
How To Dry Your Ingredients
First things first. In order to use your ingredients, you can dry them and there are a few different ways to do this. Drying is a great way to store them long-term, though most of them lose their efficacy and flavor slowly over time.
Simply harvest your ingredients and let them dry in a warm, dry spot out of the sun, or in the dehydrator or oven. Regardless of which method you choose, make sure that they’re in a single layer so that they dry evenly. If layered, they may mold before they dry, especially if you’re drying them naturally.
Wash them off to remove any dust or bugs. If you’re drying them naturally cover them with a paper towel to keep them clean while they’re drying. Let them dry completely until they crumble because moisture will cause them to mold. If you’re using the oven, do so at about 200 degrees or so.
You want them to dry but not burn, and you don’t want to cook them because you want to preserve the natural goodness in them, not bake them all out.
Once you’ve dried them, you need to store them in an air-tight container. If you won’t be using them within a few months, you can always vacuum seal them to extend storage time.
If you choose to dry the entire plant, you can dry it using the same methods as above or you can hang them upside down in a warm, dry spot out of the sun. You can also dry citrus rinds. They’re rich in vitamin C and add a nice flavor. Just grate the zest off and dry as stated above.
In addition to leaves, you can use the berries, roots, bark, seeds, stems and flowers of many plants too, using the same methods. It just depends on what the recipe, or your personal preference, calls for.
To take drying a step further, you may want to powder it. Simply grind the herb into a fine powder either by hand or using a coffee grinder.
How To Make Tea From Herbs
Unless you’ve lived in a cave with no human interaction whatsoever, you’ve heard of tea. Teas, also called infusions, are made from the softer parts of plants such as leaves, flowers, or rinds. Sometimes seed and roots will be used in teas instead of decoctions because boiling will damage the essential oils in some plants. If you’re using seeds or roots, it’s best to crush them a bit in order to release the beneficial oils inside.
You can make tea from either fresh or dried ingredients and many of them are delicious as well as good for you. Teas are great for everything from personal pleasure to curing ailments and they’re quick and simple to make.
You can combine different ingredients for different flavor profiles or purposes, too. Play with them, and figure out which flavors you like best. If using them medicinally, do some research. I’ve written articles about that here and here.
You can put your ingredients in a tea ball or cheesecloth or you can place them directly in the water, then strain it. You can also drink them hot or cold. If the tea is medicinal and not particularly delicious, you can add a bit of honey or citrus rind as long as the recipe doesn’t specifically tell you not to.
A good rule of thumb is to use about 1 tsp. of powdered ingredients or 2 tsp. per cup of tea if you’re using dried. Double that if you’re using fresh ingredients. If you’re using them just for pleasure, you can adjust the amount to suit your taste. If you’re making a medicinal tea, you may use up to 1/2 cup of ingredients per cup, depending upon the recipe.
Start with boiling water, then put your ingredients in to steep, or put them in the cup and pour the hot water over them. Cover and let them steep for 10-20 minutes, then strain if necessary. Many medicinal tea or infusion recipes will call for longer steeping in order to infuse more of the plant benefits into the water. Enjoy!
How To Make A Decoction
Decoctions are similar to teas except they’re made with harder parts of plants, such as roots, seeds, barks, and stems. The primary difference in preparation is that you boil the ingredients in the water in order to release the medicinal aspects.
Bring your water to a boil and add the ingredients. It’s best to crush the ingredients a bit to release the oils and other benefits. Cover and reduce heat to a slow simmer. If you’re using smaller pieces, simmer for about 20 minutes. If using larger chunks, simmer for up to an hour, depending on what the recipe calls for. When it’s finished steeping, strain the herbs out and it’s finished.
The reason that you want to cover the decoction while it’s simmering is that you want to essential oils to drip back down into the decoction. A rule of thumb for amounts is a little over 1 tablespoon of dried ingredients per cup of decoction. If you’d like a stronger decoction, use more herbs, boil it longer, or let in steep overnight depending upon what the recipe calls for.
How To Make A Tincture
Tinctures are made when an ingredient isn’t particularly soluble in water or when you want to store it longer. The process uses alcohol in the form of vodka or rum (which needs to be at least 80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol), or 90-180 proof grain alcohol.
You’ll need dark colored bottles with tight-fitting corks or lids because sunlight damages the medicinal value of the tincture. If you don’t have dark bottles, your tincture needs to be stored in a dark place.
Making a tincture is a simple process but it’s important that you use the proper amounts of alcohol and dried plants. The ratio should be 1 part plant material to 4 parts liquid. To make it easier, use 2 ounces of plant material for every 8 ounces (1 cup) liquid. It’s important that you measure the plants by weight, not volume because 1 tablespoon of dried basil will obviously be much larger in volume that 1 tablespoon of bark.
The percentage of alcohol is important as well, to ensure that you get a tincture with at least a 1-year shelf life. The liquid needs to be around 40 percent alcohol, which means that if you use 80 or 90 proof rum or vodka, you can use it as-is, but if you use grain alcohol (180 proof), use 1/2 cup alcohol and 1/2 cup distilled water.
Add the ingredients to your bottles and make sure that the cork or lid is tight. Store in a dark area. Shake once daily until the tincture is ready. If you’re using soft material such as leaves or powder, the process takes about 2 weeks. Harder matter such as bark or woody stalks will take a bit longer: about a month.
At the end of the processing time, strain the mixture through a strainer or cheese cloth to remove the solid matter, pressing on the plant matter (wringing if you’re using a cheese cloth) to get all the liquid out. If you used powder, stop shaking the tincture 3 days before it’s done. The powder will settle to the bottom and you can just pour the liquid off the top through a cheese cloth.
Pour the liquid into a clean glass (again, preferably dark) container and seal well. Store in a dark place at room temp. Since you’re using a large percentage of plant matter to liquid, and the alcohol better releases the properties of the plant, dosages of tincture tend to be much less than that of teas or decoctions.
Dosage does, of course, depend upon the recipe but the average dose of tincture is usually 1-2ml (30-60 drops) two or three times per day. You can take it directly in your mouth to absorb it faster or you can mix it in a few ounces of juice or water. If, for various reasons, you don’t want the alcohol, add the tincture to a couple ounces of very hot and the alcohol will evaporate in a couple of minutes.
These are by far the easiest to prepare and are used for tender or fresh plants, or for material whose beneficial properties would be damaged using heat or alcohol. You simply soak the matter in water overnight and drink the water according to the directions in the recipe.
These are super simple because the crushed herbs are either placed directly on the wound, or between two pieces of cheese cloth or bandage, then placed on the wound. You may need to add just enough water to dampen the herbs.
Then wrap the treated wound with a light cotton bandage to keep the poultice on the wound. You can even use a large leaf to hold the poultice if necessary.
Compresses are just clothes that have been soaked in infusions, decoctions or tinctures. They’re placed on the wound and are often used in place of a poultice.
Now that you know a bit more about the different methods to prepare herbal recipes for survival, practice a bit. You wouldn’t want to use it for the first time ever in a life or death situation!
If you have any experience with using these herbal concoctions, or would like to share some great recipes, please do so in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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How to Make Herbal Tinctures Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” Join me this Mother’s Day, 5/8/16, as I demystify the process of how to make herbal tinctures. Tincture-making is one of the most important herbal skills you need to have under your belt. Herbal tinctures, also called herbal extracts, provide a thorough extraction of the … Continue reading How to Make Herbal Tinctures!
Do you know your plants? I consider myself to be pretty savvy when it comes to using them for prepping. However, articles such as one of Theresa’s latest make me wonder what else I’m missing.
This week, I am proud to say I know some more edible plants, and I’m sharing my knowledge from the prepper community below.
I figured how to soothe poison ivy; how to use plants as medicine when SHTF and more. Please fell free to add more articles on this, if you find them valuable.
1. 12 Edible Plants In A Survival Situation
“There are many ways to forage for food in a survival situation. In a previous post I wrote about how you can eat bugs, insects, snakes and fishing to survive. Along with carrying food with you it is also valuable to know what types of food you can eat and which you should avoid. Getting sick is better than dying but if I had my preference I would prefer to stay as healthy for as long as I could.”
Read more on Survivalist Prepper.
2. 5 Natural Remedies to Soothe Poison Ivy Rashes
“If you spend any time outdoors, you know that poison ivy can grow just about anywhere and is the bane of all outdoor enthusiasts. 85% of the population has some sort of allergic reaction to poison. In all truthfulness, it is not the plant people are allergic to, but the oil in poison ivy, poison oak and sumac. All parts of the plant contain the oil, urushiol, which causes the bubbly, itchy rash. Once the oil makes contact with your skin through direct or indirect exposure (from clothing, shoes, or your pet), a rash can occur within 12 to 72 hours. Within that time, you will quickly regret that innocent brush with nature.”
Read more on Ready Nutrition.
3. How To Use Mulch In The Garden – The Secret To Weed Free Success!
“If you want to have less weeds, less maintenance, fewer headaches and more vegetables from your garden – then mulch in the garden is the answer! The list of benefits for utilizing mulch in the garden is long and powerful. It is a soil insulator, a moisture retainer and a weed suppressor. And when the right mulch is chosen – it has the added benefit of building incredible nutrients into your soil, leaving you with a more productive and healthy garden year after year.”
Read more on Old World Garden Farms.
4. DIY Antibiotics: What To Grow to Protect Your Health in a Crisis
“What will you do in a crisis without life saving medicine and antibiotics?
If society breaks down, hospitals, pharmacies and clinics will be unavailable, and the medicine you or a loved one need may be unavailable.
Clearly, this means you need to have to supplies on hand, particularly for anyone who is dependent upon insulin or other medications that can be deadly if disrupted.
But those supplies will only go so far. Something that is also important to do is become familiar with medicinal herbs and plants, and grow some of the ones that could be most useful to your family or network.”
Read more on WTSHTFAN.
5. Foraging For Survival: Wild Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat
“Every week, homeowners across North America spray their lawns with chemicals, killing plants that their grandparents and great-grandparents would have picked and eaten.
In fact, most homeowners likely don’t even realize that those “pesky weeds” are actually edible – and far healthier for you than many items already in the refrigerator.”
Read more and on Off The Grid News. Make sure to also press play to hear the podcast!
This article has been written by Brenda Walsh for Survivopedia.
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When winter’s biting cold has faded into memory, but home-garden headliners like tomatoes still seem far off, early crops can be a much-appreciated moral boost. As far as these first-on-the-scene producers are concerned, few can compare with freshly ripe, home-grown strawberries. And while a perfectly manicured bed filled exclusively with eager little strawberry plants has a certain storybook appeal, you may be surprised to discover what many strawberry farmers already know: interspersing the patch with a strategically selected — and sometimes smelly — companion can make springtime even better.
Companion planting is the time-honored technique of pairing beneficial plants together and is a natural, chemical-free way to improve the overall health of your garden. While some of these symbiotic combinations are well-known (such as the traditional “three sisters garden” featuring corn, beans and squash, or the classic companionship between marigolds and summer vegetables like tomatoes and peppers) almost all plants can benefit from proximity to appropriate neighbors.
In the case of strawberries, that perfect partner happens to come in the form of onions.
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
There’s a reason colleges have students fill out lengthy informational surveys before showing up at the dorm; making good roommate matches is tricky business! And while strawberries and onions might both look friendly at first glance, they don’t always make great neighbors with other plants. For example, the antibacterial secretions from onions adversely affects the nitrogen-fixing bacterial action associated with beans and peas. Similarly, all members of the cabbage family, including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, suffer when planted too close to strawberries, while tomatoes and peppers are notorious for spreading pathogens such as verticillium wilt with strawberries.
The chart below outlines companion planting best-bets when it comes to strawberries and onions:
Companion Planting — Strawberries and Onions*
|Strawberries||bean, lettuce, onion, spinach, thyme||cabbage||borage, thyme|
|Onions||beet, cabbage family, carrot, chard, lettuce, pepper, strawberry, tomato||bean, pea||chamomile, summer savory, pigweed, sow thistle|
Same Soil. Same Schedule.
Thankfully, strawberries and onions have no adverse effect on each other. They also have similar soil requirements, both benefitting from well-drained soil located in full sun. In addition, similar planting schedules make it possible to prepare the bed all at once. Onion starts and new strawberry plants can both be set out in early spring, or, depending on the climate, put out in the fall for an easy way to make sure you’ve already hit the ground running when spring arrives.
The most important way strawberries and onions help each other is when it comes to pest protection. Even relatively small spring onions are often odorous enough to mask the sweet smells associated with ripe strawberries, helping protect them from critters looking for a juicy treat. Depending on placement, the onion stalks may also help block the otherwise easy-to-spot ripe berries from view.
Lest this look like an entirely one-sided arrangement, strawberry plants can also provide a service to their ally from the allium family. The crisp, fresh flavor characteristic of spring onion greens is best cultivated under relatively cool conditions.
When planted close together, healthy strawberry plants can actually be large enough to help filter the sunlight near tender onion plants, keeping the temperatures a little lower for a little longer without completely cutting them off from needed sunlight.
There are a number of ways to take advantage of spring gardening’s greatest odd-couple. One option is to plant strawberries and onions in alternating rows. Assuming adequate soil drainage, onions can even be planted in the slightly more packed soil between raised strawberry mounds. Another possibility, especially for smaller strawberry patches, is to form an onion perimeter around the edges of the plot. Finally, there’s no reason onions and strawberries can’t be directly interplanted with each other in the same rows for a true patchwork of springtime favorites.
Flavorful spring onions sprinkled on a side salad and thick slices of shortcake dripping with ripe strawberries are springtime rituals. Companion planting the two crops together is an easy way to help both plants thrive and guarantee a great start to the growing season.
What advice would you ad? Share it in the section below:
10 Houseplants To Help You Sleep Better At Night Getting a good night’s sleep isn’t a luxury, it is absolutely essential to being able to function properly during waking hours. A lack of quality sleep leads to a number of mental and concentration issues, including fatigue, moodiness, reduced creativity and problem-solving skills, inability to cope …
What would you say if I told you that there were between 12k and 25k different enjoyably edible things on our planet but we only actually eat about 500 of them, at the most?
Our ancestors ate quite a larger range of foods than we do today, and many of them had medicinal as well as nutritional benefits.
Read on to learn more about these lost yummies.
I said “enjoyable” because there are actually as many as 100k edible organisms, but they don’t all taste that great. Since there are so many forgotten food options, we’ll focus on the ones that taste good. Many of these may even still be in your backyard, or in the woods around your house, but the value of them has been lost, many of them in just the last 120 years ago or so.
Also known as walking onions, these above-ground plants are perennial and the little onions grow just like flowers would on a regular shrub. The reason that they’re called walking onions are because the bulbs fall off and start a new plant the next spring. Walking onions were a staple in kitchen gardens through the 1800’s.
These onions taste stronger than regular onions but the entire plant is edible. The leaves are good to chop up and use as you would scallions, and the little onions are great for soups, stews, or pickling. The beauty here is that you don’t have to replant them in the spring as you would regular onions.
Walking out and picking a few onions off the nearest shrub is a lot easier than going to the garden and pulling them up, too!
You likely won’t see onions the first year but by the second, you will.
This plant was another staple in our ancestors’ kitchen gardens and I’m not sure why it fell out of favor. It’s easy to grow and creates many seeds in the fall that you can dry for use the next season. It also has several purported health benefits, attracts bees, and repels the tomato hornworm, so it’s a good companion plant for your tomatoes.
Borage has thick, prickly, fuzzy, leaves and pretty purplish star-shaped flowers. Both the leaves and flowers are not only edible, they’re delicious and great for you. The young leaves and flowers have a light, cucumbery flavor that makes them good in salads. Older leaves can be cooked just like other leafy greens and the flowers can be candied, added to salads, and used to make syrup.
Borage is a good source of calcium potassium, iron, and all of the other nutrients found in leafy greens, as well as GLA, an essential omega-6 fatty acid. According to the University of Maryland, GLA helps fight inflammation, skin disorders, ADHD, arthritis, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
Historically, Borage was also used to treat skin complaints and promote breast milk production and reproductive plants as well as the aforementioned conditions.
This aromatic has been used for centuries medicinally and is pretty good in a salad as well because it tastes like lettuce. There are several different species that are used but the one that’s most common in the US is called common mugwort or Common Wormwood. It’s prevalent in the Eastern and Northwestern US. It’s well adapted to grow in rocky soil.
The leaves are edible, with a slightly bitter flavor. They can be used in salads or cooked in soups and is also used to make tea and alcoholic beverages. They’re frequently dried and used as a meat and fish seasoning. You can eat the flowers, too.
Fun fact: mugwort was used before hops to make beer, and a cousin species of mugwort was used to make the hallucinogenic alcoholic drink, absinthe!
This may have originated because mugwort has long been used to aid in digestion. It’s commonly used to treat cramps, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, menstrual cramps, anxiety, insomnia, depression, irritability. Be careful though; it’s used to treat menstrual cramps because it tightens the uterine muscles, which can cause abortion, especially in the first trimester.
Now, for some survivor and homesteading uses: the furry underside can be scraped off and used as tinder, the stalks are good for kindling and the dried leaves will keep a fire smoldering for a long time, and it’s also a natural insecticide.
Be careful growing mugwort because it will take over your garden if you’re not careful. Growing in pots is a good way to avoid this. Do your research on specific mugwort species because different species have different uses.
You probably have this plant growing on your property and don’t even know it! You know that succulent weed with pretty little yellow flowers that grows in your sidewalk cracks, or between bricks in your garden wall? Yup, that’s purslane. It’s been used for thousands of years in the Middle East as a food source and made its way to the US before Columbus did.
The side-walk purslane also has a sea-dwelling cousin that’s edible and both were a common food source for Native Americans, and later settlers and pioneers. Over the last century or so, purslane has mysteriously slipped from the pages of cookbooks to the pages of horticulture books, which is sad. The entire plant is edible.
Purslane is good in salads and the mucilage (slimy stuff) inside the leaves is a good thickener. Purslane was used to make beer before hops entered the picture.
The leaves are packed with omega-3s along with vitamins found in other leafy greens and have a lemony flavor. It’s often used in place of spinach or arugula in salads but can be cooked, too. It’s good in soups and the seeds can be ground into flour.
From a prepper’s point of view, purslane is valuable because it grows in arid or dry places where other edibles are scarce.
Salsify is a root vegetable that dates back to the 500’s.
It looks kind of like a white carrot. It’s white on the inside and beige on the outside.
Unlike carrots, the tops look more like dark, thick grass. It’s often called oyster plant because some say the taste is reminiscent of oysters, though others call it nutty tasting.
The root is cooked similarly to carrots; toss it in soups or roasts, cook them alone or mash them. The greens are the same as other greens; use them in salads, cook them down, or sauté them in butter. They taste similar to asparagus or chicory.
Nutritionally, they’re similar to other greens and are purported to help remove impurities from the blood. Salsify was a staple food for centuries and is now making a culinary comeback.
These are just a few of the staple foods of our ancestors that have been lost by the wayside in the name of processed foods and grocery stores. There are quite literally thousands of other foods that are edible but unknown to most palates, and we might be forced to use them to survive.
If you miss the knowledge to grow your own food, click on the banner below to find out more about how our ancestors used to grow food and be self-sufficient with amazing efficiency.
And if you know of others, please share them with us in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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As the world around us grows more unstable, we as preppers have recognized the need to be prepared if SHTF. One of our major concerns is having enough food to feed ourselves and our families long-term and there are two issues that stand in our way.
First, it’s tough to grow food in urban areas because of space limitations and government regulations. You already know how the government is using different regulations aiming to ban self-sufficiency.
Second, regardless of where we live, we don’t want everybody to know that we have food stored away because if things go sideways, it will be every man for himself and hungry people are desperate people.
The solution to both concerns is learning unconventional, sustainable ways to grow food under the radar. I’ve done my homework and have some solutions that I’d like to share with you.
Growing “Ornamental” Food
Growing food that looks ornamental has two major advantages over growing a traditional garden. First, it satisfies urban or home owner’s association requirements for an attractive yard. It also produces food in a way that your neighbors won’t likely notice.
There are many ornamental, edible plants that you can grow in raised beds, as ground cover, in vertical beds, or as trees and bushes. Plants such as strawberries, peppers, berries, cabbage, tomatoes, herbs and fruit trees are all examples of ways to grow ornamental food that supplies you with edibles in a manner that people won’t even suspect.
Grow Food Indoors
Believe it or not, you can grow plenty of food inside, even if you don’t have much space.
Though you may not be able to grow enough to sustain yourself completely, what you grow will certainly add to your stockpile.
You’re going to be surprised by some of the ideas that I’m going to suggest.
You have the obvious ways, of course. You can grow plants in planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. A few examples of food that can be grown indoors includes herbs of any sort, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, and peppers.
Examples of not-so-common ways to grow food inside include using hydroponics, which don’t require dirt, and aquaponics. You can actually grow plants and edible fish and plants in your fish tank!
Growing food inside is the ultimate way to keep nosy neighbors and interfering governments and associations out of your garden and you can grow food year-round for both food and medicine.
Privacy Fences and Shrubs
Though this isn’t a fool-proof way to keep neighbors from peeking at what you’re doing, it IS a good way to keep roving strangers in the dark, especially if you’re using plants that are ornamental as well as edible.
Who’d think that those beautiful hanging and vertical plants are actually food sources?
Grow a Roof-Top Garden
Don’t laugh – would YOU look on somebody’s roof for food? Probably not, and neither would most other people. Especially considering that most people who are unprepared likely haven’t researched creative ways to grow food, a roof-top garden is going to be completely out of their line of sight.
But believe me when I tell you that it’s possible, and it’s not rocket science!
Growing a roof-top garden only requires a flat roof. It can be your barn, your apartment building roof, or any other roof that you have on your property. If you’re building a new structure on your property, consider building it in such a way that you have an out-of-sight place to grow some container plants.
If the roof is sturdy enough to hold dirt, and is under your control, you can actually put an entire garden up there.
You know that pond you have out back? Oh wait, you don’t have one? Then how about building one? Even a koi-style pond can be used to grow food hydroponically or aquaponically.
There are many aquatic plants and fish that can be grown in a relatively small space. You can even grow standard plants using aquatic gardening by planting them in floating planters.
Best of all, nobody would suspect that your entire beautiful pond is a food source for you. If you do your research, you’ll find that many aquatic plants are packed with vitamins and minerals, and you can use a variety of edible creatures including fish, shrimp, and snails.
The water in your pond is also a great fertilizer. Oh, and you can do this indoors on a smaller scale.
Underground or Basement Gardening
We’ve all heard about people growing pot in their basements or closets using grow lights so why can’t we carry that over to edible plants? If you have a basement, cellar, large building or even a shed, you can grow food without sunshine using grow lights. Your neighbors will never be the wiser.
Oh, and what about this: growing food in your bunker? Even if the lights go out when SHTF and you have to go underground, you’ll have the food that’s currently growing in there to provide food until the plants die from lack of light. You could always use solar panels to keep your grow lights on, too.
Or, you can transplant your plants into secret places around the property (i.e. in the woods around your house) and nobody will be any wiser. That brings us to the next method.
There are hundreds of edible plants that most people would never think of as food. You can always plant these around your property so that you have food where other people see weeds or inedible flowers or trees.
You can even scatter traditional food plants throughout your property in smaller plots so that if one is discovered, you have other plots that will sustain you.
This is a relatively new concept that combines hydroponics (growing plants without soil), vermiculture (creating fertilizer using worms) and aquaculture (raising fish or plants using water). In short, vermiculture is a self-sustaining way to grow both plants and fish without soil.
There are numerous benefits to this process. Fish and worms both produce waste products that make excellent fertilizer. The plants that are grown are packed with nutrients and grown without chemical fertilizers. The system can be set up in a relatively small space and is a circular growth cycle that constantly produces two food sources simply by maintaining the system.
I learned about vermiponics from a report that details the process from start to finish – see my review here.
This one isn’t quite so much on the down-low as it is sneakily hiding your plants in plain sight.
If you have hedges, you can also plant edibles throughout them that will blend right into the hedges.
Berry bushes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, carrots and rhubarb are just a few plants that pop to mind when thinking about this.
Figuring out how to grow food to feed your family without looking like a survival beacon to those who don’t prepare isn’t that hard if you’re just willing to put on your thinking cap and think outside of the box.
There’s nothing saying that you can’t have your greenhouse and garden to grow food for now, and you can even hide them on the back of your property so that others are less likely to see them, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan.
As a matter of fact, having an obvious garden may serve as a great decoy to keep people away from your other methods. Remember that people aren’t going to be thinking of methods other than the obvious because they haven’t put any effort into prepping. They’ll see your garden, raid it, then assume they’ve gotten all that you have.
I’d also like to point out that it’s good to store your preserved foods in more than one place. If you’re planning on bugging out, you likely have places where you’re planning to stop for the night, or use as a safe place to stay or to meet up with the rest of your family. Stock some food in these places even if it means digging a bit of a hidden cellar or just burying the food.
If you have any other good ideas about growing food on the down-low, please tell us about them in the comments section below. If we all put our heads together and share ideas, then we’re stronger as a community.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Ask Cat- Herbal Q&A
Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live”
Here’s how this works. You bring your questions and concerns. I will bring my 20+ years of working with herbs. I will do my best to answer your questions. If I don’t know the answer, odds are, I know where to find it. It might even become the topic for a future show.
Have you been worried about being cut off from medications post-disaster? Not sure what to stock up on for your family? Then send me your questions, or join me live during the broadcast!
How to submit a question
To get your questions answered, there are three things you can do:
1. Send me an email with “Ask Cat” in the subject line. Please send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Be live in the chat room during the live broadcast on 4/10/16. Write your question in the chat room.
3. Call into the show during the live broadcast. The number to do so is 347-202-0228.
Please be aware that I can’t do a full herbal consultation in just a couple of minutes. Also, I’m not a doctor, and I can’t diagnose or prescribe anything. What I can do is answer your questions about herbal remedies for common ailments, as well as point you in the right direction to look for more information.
This type of Q&A always leads to interesting discussions about plants, about health, and our ability to look after our own health care when there may not be any doctors on hand. If you’ve been wondering what to grow, where to get seeds, or how to respond with herbal first aid, you won’t want to miss this show. This episode is all about you. What do you want to know?
Visit Herbal Prepper Website: HERE!
Join us for Herbal Prepper Live “LIVE SHOW” every Sunday 7:00/Et 6:00Ct 4:00/Pt Go To Listen and Chat
Listen to this broadcast or download “Ask Cat- Herbal Q&A” in player below!
Homesteading on a small plot of land offers many advantages that a larger plot cannot. For example, a small plot allows for easier control and management of space, soil and plants.
A half acre or less, utilized wisely and strategically, will produce just as much as a large plot of land interspersed with vegetation will. So, for those of you without a large 20-acre farm to work with, here are tips and tricks to small-scale homesteading to achieve all the perks of a large-scale farm and to grow all the food you need — with half the work.
Physical Solutions for the Farmer
A small scale homestead is less physically demanding. Walking and bending to tend the garden places a strain on homesteaders of all ages. On a smaller plot, plants are clustered closer together so that instead of walking far distances to tend to another part of the garden, you simply take a few steps or turn to tend the garden.
Vertical gardening is one of the best solutions. You can go vertical in just two steps:
- Use trellis made of just about any material.
- Plant cucumbers, squash, pole beans, and fruit trees near the trellis so that they may “climb.”
While most vertical growing plants will cast a shadow and seem to be problematic, they really are not. Simply use the shade to grow greens that can’t take the heat of the sun.
Don’t Forget Planting Combinations
Growing plants closer together will produce more and keep weeds away. Growing on a small plot of land is all about efficiency — making the most of a small area. Interplanting gives you an additional benefit of companion planting. Try planting together tomatoes, basil and hot pepper. Then, when it’s time for tomato sauce, you have your tomatoes, basil and pepper in one place to pick. Corn, beans and squash are also a familiar garden trio.
Use Your Home
One place most gardeners don’t utilize is the house itself. South facing walls draw a lot of heat. Espalier trees against the house produce extra food. Placing thorny berry bushes under the windows will provide extra berries and keep prying eyes out of your windows.
Seed sprouting, growing micro greens, and mushrooming are all popular growing practices easily reproduced in the home, whether in the kitchen, garage or basement. Most edible plants — such as radishes and mung beans — make great candidates for sprouts. Eat the sprouts fresh or cook them in soups and other dishes.
Seeding Made Easy
- Place sprout seeds in Mason jar
- Soak them in water overnight
- Drain and rinse
- Set upside down in a dark place
- Rinse and drain twice a day, each day, for 5-7 days
Microgreens grow fast and are packed full of vitamins. They contain up to 10 times the nutritional value of the adult fruit. Eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts is about the same as eating 10 ounces of broccoli. It only takes about two weeks to harvest microgreens, so it’s a great salad option. Many seed dealers offer sprouting seeds and mixes that will be tasty in any meal.
To squeeze in extra plants in the garden, consider spiral garden beds. In this, rocks are used to make a stylish spiral bed that may be filled in with herbs or strawberries. The stones absorb heat and warm the soil while the design doubles the planting area.
Hanging baskets and planters on decks or balconies can be used for flowers or to further produce sustenance. For convenience, a planter box in the kitchen makes fresh herbs easily accessible. Planters do, however, require a healthy dose of watering to ensure that they don’t dry out.
Go Forward By Looking Back
There is so much “new” old technology you can employ. Hugelkultur is a planting method using buried decaying wood to produce moisture, heat and nutrients for plants. The “Hugel” starts as a mound between 2-4 feet high and as long as you like it. They may contain swells to catch additional water, depending on your needs and space. I like “Hugels” because they simplify and double the harvest. A strategic layout includes planting high crops and low crops together while the mycelium growing in the wood enriches the soil. Even in droughts, “Hugel” plants are resilient.
Rabbits on the homestead offer benefits to the soil and the freezer. Rabbits produce ready-made soil for your small plot of land with their excrement. Chicken manure must be composted for about a year and then still needs to be applied cautiously because of the high nutrients. Rabbit manure, however, is great for immediate use. These efficient farm animals are also a great source of protein and are almost cholesterol-free. One female rabbit can produce about 200 pounds of meat each year!
Self-sufficiency and homesteading does not necessitate a large plot of land. A small plot of land will do just fine, as long as measures are taken to ensure that all space is used to its maximum capacity and that layouts are strategic.
What advice would you add for homesteading on a small plot of land?
It used to be your right to openly grow a garden or have livestock in your yard if you so desired, but the laws are now so strict that, for many of us, growing our own food when living an urban life is nearly impossible.
The government has slowly made it illegal to be self-sufficient all in the name of public and personal health and safety.
In fact, if things were to go south today, many of us wouldn’t be able to feed ourselves with fresh food because the laws today forbid it. However, as any experienced prepper will tell you, there are work-arounds if you’re willing to look for them.
Read this article to find out more about a few anti-gardening and farming laws and how to get around them.
Watering Your Plants
Again, “for the good of the community”, cities often limit the use of water for gardening or watering your lawn, especially in summer, and this is due to limited water supplies. Some people are fortunate enough to have an old well on their property that allows them to circumvent the restriction but for most people, defying the ordinance means facing a fine if caught. This requirement is hard to face when trying to grow your own food.
Use grey water, or catch rain water if you are allowed to. Grey water is water that you use in your house that doesn’t contain any type of bodily waste or hazardous material. The two easiest ways to use this grey water on a small scale are to save your warm-up water and recycle your wash water.
We waste literally hundreds of gallons of water per year waiting for it to get hot for showers or washing dishes. That water is perfectly clean and running it down the drain is part of the reason the restrictions are in place to begin with. Catch it in buckets and use it to water your garden. Washing machine water can be re-routed and used to water trees and larger plants, too. There are some rules that you need to follow to use this water safely, though.
Rain water can easily be caught in barrels, then used to water plants, if rainwater usage is legal in your state. Don’t let it sit for too long though, because it can grow stagnant and attract unwanted bugs such as mosquitoes.
Most cities have regulations about how you can keep your yard.
Gone are the days of you being the king (or queen) of your castle; you have to keep your yard looking a certain way so that it maintains “curb appeal”.
In other words, it doesn’t matter if you own the place, you can’t grow squash if your city thinks it’s ugly.
Homeowner’s Associations are even worse; they have to follow city laws but can also make stricter regulations that can quite literally get you evicted from your own house if you don’t follow them.
Of course, this is partially your own fault if you bought the property after these rules were in place, but communities often come under the rule of homeowner’s associations after people are already living there.
In this case, you’re going to have to be smarter than they are. Fortunately, that usually won’t be too hard.
The easiest ways to get around these laws are to grow privacy hedges or put up a privacy fence, at least in the back yard.
You need to be careful here, because many cities require that you provide open access to water mains; thus your front yard can’t be fenced in.
Another good work-around is to use raised beds or vertical gardens; they’re attractive and you can plant edible ornamentals in them to give them even more curbside appeal.
Now, I understand that compost piles can be a bit visually off-putting, but then again, so can your chubby neighbor while he’s mowing his lawn with no shirt on. Unfortunately, there’s no law against that, though there probably should be. There are often laws against composting, though.
One of the primary reasons composting is banned in many places is because of the odor. Properly tended, a compost pile shouldn’t smell like anything other than dirt unless you’re composting manure in it. If your compost pile smells, it’s likely not heating up enough for the organic material to break down. It could also be that you’re adding the wrong things to your pile.
Even if it’s legal, many towns have regulations about the size of compost piles or regulations that require a certain distance between your compost pile and your neighbor’s house or property line. That makes it difficult for many “townies” to have one due to the size of their lot. In numerous communities, outdoor compost piles are illegal, no matter how small it is or where you put it.
You can, of course, go before city or community councils and make a movement to fight the regulation, and you may win. You also have the option to have a smaller compost bin inside, often under your sink. This is a great option to cultivate fertilizer for your flower beds or raised gardens. It also gives you experience on a small scale so that if SHTF, you’ll already know your stuff.
Keeping livestock, even something as small as chickens, is often prohibited within city limits. There’s not really a good work-around for this other than to connect with local farms that may be willing to let you keep some animals on their land for the cost of feed. Co-ops are also an option as they offer the opportunity to get a variety of vegetables, and often meats, on a regular basis.
You probably won’t be able to raise a calf in your back yard, but if you really want chickens, you may be able to get away with a few using a privacy fence. You’ll have to keep the coops extremely clean so that they don’t smell and offend the neighbors to the point that they complain to authorities.
Urban Farming Laws
This is kind of a catch-all description of the way that government restricts farming and gardening. Most cities, and counties, are zoned in a manner that restricts what can happen on particular parcels of land in specific areas.
The entire city (or county) is divided into zones, including farming, commercial, and residential zones. Depending upon your zone, you’re restricted to, and from certain activities. For example, in a residential zone, you likely won’t be allowed to operate a business.
These zoning laws seriously affect people who want to farm. Fortunately, many cities are now revising these laws and relaxing what types of gardening and farming activities are allowed, but there’s still a long way, and thousands of cities to go before you’re allowed to openly garden or farm in a zone that doesn’t permit it.
Most of the work-arounds described above apply to this problem, but you may still be subject to fines and could be ordered to destroy your gardens or get rid of your animals. The most pro-active thing that you can do is to start a movement toward acceptance of urban gardening in your community. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
The fact is, gardening and prepping is becoming much more main-stream than it was even 5 years ago. Some people garden as a means of knowing exactly what they’re putting in their bodies and others, like us, have gardens that produce food to feed us now, and in case of emergency.
Because of this shift from covert to main-steam, urban farming laws are changing and you have the ability to help facilitate that change in your area. This doesn’t mean that you have to let your neighbors know about the cellar or the bunker that you have hidden out back, but you can give things a nudge in the right direction by gathering with like-minded people to get the laws changed.
If that fails, continue as you’ve been doing and just be smart enough to find the loopholes and work-arounds that are there if you’re determined enough to find them. There’s no government agency planning to rescue you in the middle of chaos or giving you and your family the food that you need to survive. The only thing they really plan about you is starvation by regulation.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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A lot has been written about cattails, although the focus often tends to be on warm weather months. But I’ve harvested and eaten this remarkable plant throughout the year.
Still, don’t be tempted to yank out a young cattail shoot and start munching away. The cattail may be safe, but is the water it was growing in safe?
Cattails tend to grow in swampy waters, ponds, lakes, creeks and even ditches. The caution is that many of these bodies of water are rife with aquatic microbes — from amoebas to microscopic parasites — carrying everything from giardia to typhoid. It is one thing to get sick at home and drive over to the doctor or a hospital, but it’s quite another to develop amoebic dysentery in a survival situation. There are simple ways to avoid this but the telegram is: Don’t eat an unwashed section of cattail that has been immersed in any body of water.
And Now The Good News
You can use many parts of the cattail in a survival situation, across all four seasons. There are extremely few plants that can fulfill that level of nutritional, medicinal and functional value from summer through winter. Remote survival environments can often present you with cleaner, safer water, as well.
Let’s examine how it can be used, season by season:
As a food source:
From a survival food standpoint, the best parts of a cattail to harvest include the spikes (the emerging plant) in early spring, the spike-shaped shoots throughout spring and early summer, the yellow, pollen-covered heads at the top of the plant mid-spring, and the roots (although the roots are better and bigger as they mature into winter).
The spikes or emerging plants can be found poking above the water or just beneath the surface. The spikes actually look like a very large leek with a white base extending two to five inches and a long green stalk leading to the early fronds emerging at the top of the plant. I also save the roots at this time, but we’ll get to that later.
I cut the first six to eight inches from the base and collect them. These need to be rinsed in fresh water and ideally, soaked in vinegar for 10 to 20 minutes. Vinegar is a natural antiseptic and will help to kill and remove any bacteria. Rinse them again in cold water or just enjoy them with their vinegar flavor. In an extreme survival situation where you have no resources, you can always roast them over a fire to kill any bacteria.
You might also spot some shoots emerging from the stalks. These show up in spring and continue into early summer. They’re usually above the water line and are triangular in shape. The base is white and you chew the end like a potato chip or strip it with your teeth like an artichoke petal. I’d still give them a rinse if you can, even though they’re above the water.
Some people say the seed heads at the top of the plant can be boiled and eaten like sweet corn. I tried it and didn’t like it. Maybe I should have tried it sooner in the spring, but if I’m starving I’d give it another try.
Regardless of the time of year, the roots are an excellent source of starch, like potatoes. You need to peel the roots first like a potato, rinse them well and then let them dry. Some sources suggest that you can eat the roots raw. You can eat anything raw, but cattail roots present a very fibrous texture and uncooked can give you stomach and intestinal distress.
Once they’re dry, they’re often pounded into a flour. You can also cut the roots into pieces and crush the root in some water on a board. Drop them in water and the starch will sink to the bottom. You may have to rinse and repeat. That sounds like something you’d find on a shampoo bottle, but you need to do it, followed by carefully allowing the starch slurry to dehydrate. What you’ll end up with is a flour that can be used to bake breads and biscuits or to make pancakes.
It sounds like a lot of work, and it is. I prefer to peel and wash the roots and roast them over a fire and then chew them. You can always roast them on the end of a stick. You’ll have to spit out the fibers as you chew.
The functional value of cattails in the spring is somewhat limited, only because the immature plants are small in size. That’s because the long fronds of summer and fall that can be used for weaving, cordage and other uses are undeveloped, as is the rest of the plant. However, the dried and dead stalks from the previous season can be used as tinder for starting a fire.
As a food source
In summer, the cattails are beginning to mature but there are still some shoots emerging on the sides of the stalk. The roots are also good, and the same approach applies that we described for spring roots. The seed heads will begin to present pollen in summer, and that can be mixed with the flour from the roots. You can carefully shake the pollen into the flour from the seed head, or cover it with a bag and shake the pollen into the bag.
If you take the time to practice a bit, you can learn to weave cattail fronds into just about anything, from baskets, to a hat to protect you from the sun, to cordage, but weaving the fronds into rope is better done in the fall, when the fronds have matured and are tougher and more fibrous.
As a food source
The roots are now your primary foodstuff and are prepared the same way. They’ll be larger so you can harvest less to get more. The seed heads now have the appearance of a brown corn dog.
The cattails have now matured to a tough, fibrous plant. You can still use the fronds for weaving, and now is when the fronds make the strongest cordage.
What you’re going to be doing is a basic braiding process of overlapping three or more strands of cattail fronds. You’ll need to add in additional pieces as you go to splice in new fibers. Sometimes you can actually tie small knots to make a better connection from splice to splice. Watch this video to understand this step better:
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You’ll also notice that the seed heads are releasing puffs off fluff. This is an exceptional tinder, and the interior of the seed head will still be dry even in wet weather.
As a food source
Roots are at their peak. The seed heads will have gone to seed in pieces of fluff. The stalks and fronds are starting to turn brown. Prepare the roots as before.
The seed heads, stalks and fronds have now turned brown. This offers numerous fire-starting and insulation possibilities. The fronds can still be woven, and the seed heads continue to offer excellent tinder in addition to the dry, dead stalks and fronds. Cordage can still be made, but the strength will not be as dependable as fully green and mature fronds.
The seed heads in early winter will be loaded with fluff and can be used as insulation. If you collect enough, you can stuff a T-shirt to make a pillow. The stuff is a real mess if it’s not contained, but in a true survival situation it can be dumped into boots or gloves, adding insulating layers. It’s also highly absorbent if you’re trying to dry out those boots or gloves.
If you know of a source of cattails, then go out and collect a few and get to know the plant. Depending on the time of year, try some of the suggestions covered in this article. I’ve had a lot of fun sitting on the back porch with my kids and teaching them how to use cattail fronds to weave a basket or make a length of rope. It makes me feel good to know they’re learning some new skills for self-sufficiency and survival thanks to the humble cattail.
Do you know of other survival uses for cattail? Share your suggestions in the section below:
However, birds can be hugely useful on a farm, or they can be extremely harmful. There are several birds that you want to attract to your homestead, and that’s what we’re talking about today.
How useful or harmful birds are to a homestead or farm depends almost entirely on what they eat! You want to attract birds that eat plant-eating bugs or other pests around the farm. The problem here is that, if you eliminate their natural food source, birds will turn to other foods, such as your blackberries, as a food source. As you can see, this is a delicate balance.
On that note, though, there are some birds that only turn to vegetation if they have absolutely no other choice, so those are the birds that you want to attract. These birds serve two purposes, because many of them do hang around in the winter and will eat the bugs that eat your plants in the summer and will eat the seeds of weeds in the winter when there are no bugs to eat.
Win-win! You get rid of your pesky bugs in the summer and weeds won’t have a chance to grow in the spring because the seeds were eaten over the winter.
1. Eastern Bluebirds
We all love to see the bluebirds flitting about in the trees, but they’re also great to have around the farm because their diet consists nearly completely of bugs, primarily beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars. They also eat spiders and other bugs.
Bluebirds are found in about every state east of the Rockies, and in Canada. They also winter as far north as Illinois and Pennsylvania so they’re often around in the winter even though they’re seen as harbingers of spring.
In absence of bugs, there are plants that they’ll turn to, which you can use to attract them to the farm. These include: Blackberries, chokeberries, juniper berries, partridgeberries, Virginia creeper, bittersweet, pokeberries, strawberry bush, false spikenard, wild sarsaparilla, sorrel, asparagus, rose haws, holly, sorrel, greenbrier, and ragweed.
You can also build small boxes in nooks and crannies such as cavities in trees or in tight places in barns or buildings.
2. Western Bluebirds
These birds, found west of the Rockies, are much like their Eastern cousins except they eat even more harmful bugs, and the bugs that they eat are often available year round. They’ll turn to elderberries most frequently if the bugs disappear so that’s what you should plant to attract them.
There are seven common types of swallows including barn swallows, cliff swallows, martins, and white-bellied swallows, also known as tree swallows. These four types have taken almost exclusively to living in structures instead of in their natural habitats and eat a diet high in beetles, flying ants, mosquitoes and other “pest” insects.
To attract them, build boxes in the corners of your barn eves, under the outside eves, or in other high places.
Barn swallows can be enticed by cutting small holes in the gable of the barn, and all of them like to have a bit of mud available to use as mortar for their nests.
These cute little birds are murderous to the enemies of your garden, making them wonderful inhabitants of your homestead. They eat beetles (including the disaster-causing May beetles), grasshoppers, caterpillars, flies, wasps, and spiders.
In the winter, more than half of the meadowlark’s diet consists of weeds, grains and other seeds, but this is found almost exclusively in winter, when they’re eating waste seeds and kernels, rather than crops.
There are two types of phoebes: the common phoebe which is found throughout the US east of the Great Plains, and the black phoebe, which is found west of the Great Plains. They prefer to winter fairly far south but migrate north in early spring.
The phoebe eats insects almost exclusively, and most of those are caught in flight. In other words, mosquitoes, click beetles, May beetles and weevils are some of the phoebe’s favorite snacks.
Phoebes love water and open spaces so if you have a shed near a creek, pond or water trough that would be a good place to place a small box to attract them. They prefer the openness though, and just having a shed or a bridge is attractive to them.
6. Barn Owls
Who? You! Do what you can to attract barn owls because they eat all kinds of nasty bugs and rodents. They’re mighty hunters and will do wonders for keeping the rat population down, as well as that of the gophers, moles and other small pests that deteriorate your soil or spread disease.
Owls are also pretty to look at, even though there are many superstitions about them. One of those superstitions that you can believe beyond a shadow of a doubt is that if you see an owl on your farm, you’re in luck because your rodent population is about to go down!
Barn owls used to be attracted by the inner structure of wooden barns but since many modern barns are metal, they’re turning away from them. Fallen trees are another favorite roosting place for owls, but we tend to take care of our properties by removing these as they fall or die.
Because owl feces may be contaminated with salmonella, you want to build barn owl boxes on the outside of the barn facing away from where food and livestock are kept.
We underestimate the value of birds. They look pretty and they may sound sweet or cheerful, but very few people consider how useful they are. If you’re looking for natural ways to get rid of the pests and rodents that damage your soil, eat your plants or otherwise destroy your efforts to raise food, then birds should be your first line of defense.
The birds that we’ve discussed are just a handful of many breeds that are great to have around, but these are birds that are easy to attract, are found throughout most of the United States, and do the most good on a homestead or farm.
Just as there are birds that will help your farm, there are birds that are not-so-helpful. Some are just as hazardous as many of the bugs and rodents that the birds on this page eat, so be careful which types of birds you attract. Just because he’s pretty doesn’t mean that he’s good for your farm!
If you’d like to add a bird to this list, or have something else that you’d like to share, feel free to do so in the comments section below.
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.
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Don’t be fooled by the early, warm weather. There is always a possibility to be hit a late spring frost, which could be a killer to your vegetable garden.
To keep your vegetable plants safe, here are a few interesting ways to protect your darling veggies from that last late frost of the year.
Bedsheets, Coffee Cans and More
If you know the night will bring frost, cover your plants. You can use the following protection suggestions:
- Simply cover your plants for the evening with a tarp, bedsheets, pillow cases, burlap sacks or table cloths. These covers will act as insulators.
- You can also insulate and protect your plants by covering them with coffee cans. For small plants, you can use glass jars, milk jugs or even large, plastic bottles.
- There is a way to combine the above two ideas. Tomato cages, stakes or even the mentioned coffee cans should be used to help support the plants from the weight of the covers. The frost will settle on the coverings and not the plants. Your vegetables won’t be crushed by whatever you put on them.
When using coverings, be sure and place stones, bricks or some sort of weights around the edges of the covers to keep them in place.
You must remove any coverings in the morning so the plants can get fresh air and sunlight. An easy rule to remember is to cover plants by 8 p.m. and uncover by 8 a.m. Plants can’t breathe under heavy covers, so you must have the cover off during the day, even if there are several cool nights calling for frost.
Water, Water, Water
There is also a way to protect your vegetables by simply using water. Place a container of HOT water beneath the cover of cans and whatever cover you are using during the night. Since water loses heat more slowly than air, the water will keep the small enclosed area warmer than outside.
You can also water your plants the day before the frost, if you know it’s going to happen. Moist soil maintains heat, and the water will help insulate the roots. Water the ground around the plants until six inches of the soil is moist. Do this during the day before the frost, but d not let the plants, themselves, get wet. Just water the soil.
A layer of mulch, at least two inches thick, can be placed on and around your vegetable plants. Not only will the mulch protect the plants, but their roots, as well. Mulch can be anything natural, from leaves, grass clippings or straw, to shredded or chopped bark and compost.
Hoop House and Cold Frames
You can place a hoop house or cold frame over your vegetable plants during the night. Then you can easily adjust these structures so you can open them up during sunlight hours. If the garden is small, you may be able to make small, portable buildings that you can lift on and off the plants.
Fans Work, Too
Yes, that’s right, a fan can help save your plants from frost. The size typically doesn’t matter.
You can place the fan so the breeze flows gently around the plants. The breeze will prevent any frost from forming on the leaves and stems.
Tips to Know When Frost Is Coming
- If there is no wind and the air is quiet, it will allow cold air to settle near the ground
- If you have put your garden in a high area, there is less chance of frost than if your garden is set in low areas.
- Clouds slow the cooling process, and so help prevent frost.
- Daytime temperatures around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit, or 23 degrees Celsius, usually keep the nighttime temperatures above 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celsius.
So, whatever creative way you wish to protect your plants from that late frost, remember to let the sun and fresh air get to the vegetables during the day. Just like us, our plants need sun and fresh air to grow strong and healthy. Prepare for the frost this year, and come out with a well-protected, healthy harvest.
How do you protect your plants from frost? Share your tips in the section below:
When it comes to selecting trees to plant it is important to think about all the survival needs that can be met by using trees. Aside from food production, trees can be used to protect your property, building furniture, as wood to fuel a fire, and for medicinal needs.
And since spring is the ideal time of the year to be thinking of this, here are 10 types of trees that will increase your sense of security, but will also come in helpful when you consider meeting the needs described above.
Read the article till the end to get the knowledge of choosing these trees, and to find the hidden gem that will help you boost your homestead and grow an amazing orchard.
Trees for Defense and Protection
When it comes to defensive trees, choose those trees that have symbiotic relationships with vine plants that tend to be problematic for adversaries trying to get into your homestead.
For example, some trees act as at the perfect host for poison ivy and other vines that both people and animals would prefer to stay away from. In these cases, it is not so much the tree that has the defensive properties as the vines or other plants that will grow well around it.
This particular tree makes plenty of thorns that will form a natural fence. If you have young trees, try training the limbs along long lines instead of letting all of them grow upward. You should be able to create a thick, natural fence that will maintain itself, and also create one that is several layers thick for even better protection.
Hawthorn is also well known for lowering blood pressure and preserving heart health.
As with other herbal remedies, use great caution so that you can use this tea safely and effectively. For example, if you are going to use hawthorn to lower blood pressure, you may only be able to take it for a week or two and then stop for a week or two before taking more. During that interim, you may need some other method to keep your blood pressure under control.
If you choose honey locust (the first pic below) instead of black locust (the second pic below) you will have edible pods to consume as well as a naturally thorny tree for protective purposes.
Locust trees are also classified as legumes and nitrogen fixing even though they do not appear to have a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria for the purpose of holding nitrogen drawn from the air. Locust pods do have a good bit of nitrogen in them and can be used to enrich soil.
Just make sure that the compost is thoroughly broken down so that the seeds do not sprout. You can also use locust for virtually rot proof hardwood. Unfortunately, this tree does not grow as quickly or as large as other trees, so it cannot be relied on for all your woodworking or wood burning needs.
3. Osage Orange
If you live in certain areas, then you may already know that osage orange is known as a natural fence that was grown historically for this purpose. It can deter humans and cattle and also halt soil erosion.
Even though the wood from this tree tends to be full of twists and knots, it does produce a very dense wood that burns well and produces plenty of heat. Wood from this tree can also be used to make fence posts and for other hardwood applications, and it is one of the few trees with wood that is highly resistant to rotting.
Medicinally speaking, osage orange can be used to prevent and treat some cancers as well as fungal infections. It should be noted that osage orange fruit can be consumed in small quantities, however it is likely to cause stomach irritation.
4. American Plum
Even though these trees don’t get very tall, they do produce long branches and also suckers that can create a complex bramble that will act as a deterrent.
Plum trees also produce delicious fruit that can be used to make wine, fruit juice, jellies, jams, and prunes. As you may be aware, both prune juice and prunes work well for constipation.
5. JuJube Tree
This tree can withstand the heat of Africa as easily as it can below zero temperatures in other climates. As such, if you choose to use the Jujube tree as a thorny natural fence tree, it will always do well. There are also many other uses for this tree: the fruit can be used fresh for food, ground for tea, candied, or dried for preservation. Some people also make Jujube fruit into wine and vinegar (for pickling).
There are also many medicinal properties associated with JuJube seeds. This includes sedative, contraceptive, antifungal, anti-anxiety, and immune boosting. Parts of the JuJube tree or fruit can also be used for preventing wound infections and to relieve stomach ulcers.
Trees for Building Materials and Firewood
Being a homesteader means you rely a lot on natural materials when building a steady roof as our ancestors did, and the most fundamental is to use only high quality wood. You need to learn the tricks to pick the right wood for your homestead, otherwise your building efforts are in vain.
Wood from this tree has a delightful smell that makes it ideal for making furniture, but also for cooking food and especially salmon. You can also use shavings for animal bedding and controlling moths. Cedar also tends to be a good weight wood for carving. Cedar bark is also well known for its use in alleviating symptoms of the common cold and the flu.
Even though pine is a soft wood, this and related trees grow fast, making it ideal for building, firewood, and many other purposes. Pine also produces a resin that can be used for medicinal needs, glue, and roofing.
If you are interested in growing pine trees, remember that it can be difficult to get them to grow from seeds. In some cases, they may only start growing after being digested by birds, while other species may require fire to open the pine cones. You may be best served by starting pine trees from cuttings or digging up young wild trees from areas where they would not survive because the surrounding trees are already too dense.
Chances are, you have heard of mulberry wine as well as many other foods made from the fruit of this tree. Mulberry is also a fast growing tree that produces plenty of wood: it can produce more wood per acre than most other trees. Wood from this tree is used mainly for firewood, although it can also be used as biomass for other applications.
White mulberry, an Asian variant, can also be used to treat diabetes and prevent plaque buildup in the arteries. White mulberry is considered an invasive exotic species, so before planting, make sure that it is legal to do so in your area, and that you have enough room to prevent it from spreading out of control.
Also remember that male mulberry trees can cause asthma and other breathing problems when they have pollen. On the other hand, female trees are considered allergy free and can be safely planted from this perspective.
This tree produces a beautiful hardwood that can be used for furniture, gun stocks, and many other items, including musical instruments and carving. Since walnut trees can reach well over 100 feet in height, their wood is also suitable for flooring and other applications where large, sturdy boards are needed.
You can also consume the “nut” center of the fruit in the form of pies or fresh out of the shell. Walnut fruit is also very useful for making dyes and ink. Aside from this, you can also use the center of a walnut to polish out scratches and blemishes in other pieces of finished wooden furniture.
Aside from producing wood that can be used for furniture and many other needs, maple syrup is also edible. Maple trees also have a number of medicinal properties. For example, use a wash from the leaves to relieve sore eyes. You can also make a tea from the bark to treat bronchitis and kidney infections.
Even though maple bark may not have anti-viral properties, it can still be made into a tea to relieve some symptoms of the common cold. Fallen leaves from maple trees are also excellent for use as garden compost. Not only do the leaves produce large amounts of nutrient dense biomass, they also contain vital nutrients from deep in the soil.
Even though every tree may not grow in your local area, you can still try to plant at least one from every category so that you have a good variety. In many cases, you may even be able to pick up wild seed pods or take cuttings from wild trees as opposed to buying them from a nursery. Regardless of the type that you choose, make sure that they are non-hybrid strains and that you can get both viable seeds and cuttings from the trees.
You can restart each species of tree in your orchard in the post crisis world. All you need to know is knowledge and time to wait for the nature to follow its course.
And now the knowledge is at your hand: CLICK HERE to subscribe to our newsletter, and get our 40 pages free report “How to Grow an Orchard” about planting and growing sturdy trees for your survival orchard!
This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.
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Cold frames are basically mini-greenhouses and they work by collecting natural warmth to take care of your seedlings in the spring, and to keep your organic veggies alive and kicking through the fall and winter.
Basically, if you want to grow your own survival garden regardless of your climate (well, ALMOST regardless), keep reading folks.
Unlike a regular greenhouse, a DIY cold frame project requires less space, less work and less spending.
Being a do-it-yourself thingy for those of you working on a tight budget or a small scale operation, I will try to enlighten you about how to use readily available materials from around your homestead for protecting your survival garden during the cold months of the year.
To put it simply, a cold frame can be described as a regular box, featuring a transparent cover or a lid, which works by passively collecting the energy from the sun and also acts as a reservoir for your tender plants, seedlings and what not.
Just like a solar panel, the energy radiated by the sun heats the soil and the air inside the box and during the night, the absorbed energy (in form of heat) is released, keeping your mini-survival garden alive and well.
Cold frames are very useful especially early in the spring, when they provide an optimal environment for starting your veggie seedlings or transplanting the annual flowers you’ve already started indoors.
Basically, almost any type of seed can be started directly inside the frame and developed in a controlled environment until it can be safely transplanted outdoors, in your garden.
During hot summer months, the lid may be replaced by using shade lath or cloth, thus providing something like a nursery of sorts for rooted cuttings.
Now folks, everything in life seems to be about location, and the same theory applies to DIY-ing cold frames. You should choose a well-protected site for your DIY project to keep it safe from harsh winds. Choose a spot near shrubs, trees, a wall or a fence. Also, make sure you choose a place which is exposed to sunlight as long as possible during the day, and that your cold frames are oriented properly, to face southwest or south.
Another trick is to sink the frame ~10 inches into the ground, thus maximizing its heat-retention capability. Be advised that your desired location should have good drainage so that you avoid rain water collecting around your frame.
How to Build a Cold Frame
Next, let’s take a look at the basics of DIY-ing cold frames. Let’s start with the obvious: the dimensions. Since the most important thing in a cold frame is the transparent cover/lid, start by selecting your desired cover, as its dimensions will determine the frame’s dimension.
The best choice (and also the cheapest) would be to recycle an old storm window or a window sash; you may even have one in the attic or in the shed – go check it out. If the “going gets tough”, you can always use an old shower door. There’s little to no difference between all these options. Any of them would do just fine for your DIY cold frames project.
If you can’t find anything laying around, go cruising garage sales, keeping an eye out for recycled windows and things of that nature. If you’re skilled enough and patient, you can even build a cover by sandwiching fiberglass sheets or clear acrylic between strips of wood (the corners should be strengthened using metal plates). Even polyethylene film can be used, carefully stapled to a wooden frame. All of these methods are quick and cheap, but will only last for a limited amount of time. They’ll be good for about a year or so.
If you’re using old windows, make sure they’re not covered with lead-based paint (lead is very toxic and lead poisoning is a no fun). Also, check the wood for signs of rot and make sure that the glass is firmly secured in its wooden frame.
For those of you living in the extreme North, where below zero temps and heavy winter snows are on the menu for 3-4 months every year, you should stay away from glass covers, because the accumulation of snow will almost certainly break your glass covered cold frames.
In such areas, the best options are thick sheets of window-strength plastic, such as Lucite. There are other brands, some better, including Lexane, which are extremely resilient against elements, such as ice, snow, sleet and rain.
Some professional gardeners are using 4×8-foot panels made from corrugated fiberglass for their cold frames. These are sold for building green house walls, so they’re as tough as they come and made exclusively for this job, but they’re relatively expensive.
However, the corrugated fiberglass panels let tons of light inside and, most importantly, they’re durable and they don’t turn yellow after prolonged exposure to sunlight; hence they’re ideal if you want to build a cold frame that lasts for years and years. If you look at the cost from that point of view, they’re actually not that expensive.
Keep the cover as light as possible so that it’s easy to lift and try not to make it too wide to allow for easy access to the plants inside the cold frame. Two or three feet of width would be as small as you’d probably want to go, while a length of four feet will allow you to grow almost any variety of plant inside while still being able to handle the lid without too much difficulty.
The frame itself can be built from scrap lumber, a cheap and readily available material. You can also use cedar, cypress or redwood (they’re naturally rot-resistant) or even dirt cheap plywood. Stay away from toxic materials, such as pressure treated wood, which may contain (almost surely) highly toxic substances, such as arsenic.
The simplest and maybe the cheapest frame can be built using hay bales. All you have to do is to arrange 4 bales of straw or hay into a nice square shape, the bales being basically the sides of your DIY cold frame project.
The transparent cover/lid goes on top of the bales (a plastic cover or a sheath of glass) and that’s about it. The straw can be used next spring for mulch after you finish with your frame and disassemble it.
If you’re making this a more permanent cold frame project, i.e. lumber-made frames, remember that the edges of the box should be weather-proofed using weather stripping on the top edges. Also, try to use galvanized steel hinges for attaching the cover/lid.
Remember to slope the frame with at least a 6-inch slope from the back to the front of the box for trapping as much heat as possible and to allow the rain water to run off. Vertical posts should be used for reinforcing the corners of the box to lend additional strength.
Another option for a permanent and very solid DIY cold frame project is to build the side walls from stone and mortar. Stone walls will definitely require more work and skills, but if you have these materials on your property, they can be very cheap, and you’ll learn a thing or two in the process (like pouring concrete, making mortar etc).
An interesting alternative for your cold frame side walls are cinder blocks, if you have them around your homestead and/or you can’t get your hands on bales of hay, straw, lumber or whatever. Cinder blocks are extremely durable and they insulate very well; just remember to arrange them in such a way that the holes point up and down or else the air will circulate freely.
Remember to keep the top holes covered, to keep your frame warmer during the coldest months of the year. You can also fill them with dirt to insulate them further.
If cinder blocks aren’t your thing, you can always use PVC to make a cold frame. The frame is built using PVC piping and a thick, strong sheet plastic for cover. This type of cold frame design is extremely light and portable, and also dirt cheap.
To prevent overheating, which translates into dead plants just as quickly as freezing does, make sure that you properly ventilate your cold frame. Proper ventilation is possibly the most important consideration when it comes to growing a survival garden inside a cold frame.
For keeping track of the temperature fluctuations, you should install a min-max thermometer. If the heat inside the frame reaches/exceeds 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, be ready to prop open the lid using a dowel or a sturdy stick. In the afternoon you must close the lid, for trapping the heat inside.
Remember to make notches on your prop stick. This way, you’ll be able to prop open the top cover at various heights, in correlation with the outside temperature.
As a high-tech option, you may use an automatic vent in your cold frame design, which opens and shuts your cold frame automatically when the desired temperatures are achieved.
However, the automatic vent is only usable if you live in a temperate geographical area, where snow is a rare occurrence, because accumulated snow on the lid will render the auto-vents useless, as they’re not strong enough to cope with the additional weight.
If the weather gets very cold, be prepared to drape the frame using a piece of carpet or an old blanket for additional insulation.
The last question we need to answer is: what can you grow inside a cold frame? The answer to that question is “anything you grow in your regular garden”. People commonly sow seeds of lettuce, spinach, choy and kale in cold frames during the fall months in order to enjoy them in the winter.
Also, in certain areas where the growing season is very short, your only chance of growing warm weather crops is a cold frame.
Take a look at the first tutorial, which details a cold frame DIY project step by step and than the second one which shows a 4×8 over a raised bed.
Video first seen on Fine Gardening
Video first seen on Bill Farmer
I hope the article helped and if you have suggestions or comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below.
This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.
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When I think gardening, besides the hard and so rewarding work, I also think of “self-sufficiency” and “food-independence”. That’s what my survival garden means to me. So I can’t wait this time of the year when I start planning and working on my garden.
1. Planting By The Signs
“The term “planting by the signs” is a colloquial expression or folk term for the ancient practice of timing agricultural and gardening tasks by the moon’s lunar phase and astrological position in the zodiac. For our ancestors, the understanding and application of natural lunar cycles and rhythms to their lives was literally a matter of life and death.
By applying the principles that had been passed on to them by each preceding generation, our forefathers and mothers managed to survive famine and disease. Unlike like us, they lived closer to the earth and didn’t have the benefit of 24-hour grocery stores, insecticides, antibiotics or electricity.”
Read more on Granny Miller.
2. How To Create A Simple Garden For Salsa, Sauces, Soups and Salads!
“Nothing compares to the taste of freshly made salsa, pasta sauce, soup or a beautiful salad from your very own garden! With nothing more than a tiny plot of backyard space or a sunny patio – you can easily create and grow your own personal chef’s simple garden to enjoy all of those healthy dishes.
With the right selection and combination of veggie plants, a small raised bed for salad crops, and a few select potted herbs – you can be whipping up fresh salsa, serving your own homemade pasta sauce, creating incredible soups and serving up beautiful salads all summer long!”
Read more on Old World Garden Farms.
3. How to Plant Trees – Spreading Roots Properly and Sheet Mulching – Part One
“Many people plant trees in a way that almost insures that they will eventually get sick and die or at least not thrive. It is all about the roots and the soil.”
Video first seen on Jack Spirko
4. Sweet Basil – Grow it for the Bees
“Years ago an old farmer told my young boys that when they started dating, a big bunch of sweet basil in the car would win a girl’s heart. Now, I don’t know about that, but it’s definitely a must-have in my garden.
Sweet basil is a culinary herb used frequently in Italian cooking and is the base for our favorite pesto. But besides girls and pesto and Italian food, here’s another reason to grow it: Bees.”
Read more on Attainable Sustainable.
5. 11 Reasons You Should Start a Container Garden
“Sometimes, the only thing preventing us moving toward independence and self-sufficiency is our doubts.
Growing a garden is one area where our thoughts can be a bigger obstacle than any of the real obstacles involved in starting a garden. “I can’t have a garden, my yard is to small” and “I can’t have a garden, I live in an apartment” are examples of thoughts that may prevent you from growing your own food.”
Read more on Urban Survival Site.
This article has been written by Brenda E. Walsh for Survivopedia.
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In one of my recent articles I thoroughly discussed the “how to’s” of DIY-ing your own greenhouse.
Now, let’s address another issue: how to heat a greenhouse during the harsh winter months, because even if a greenhouse is an excellent environment for growing plants and veggies, stabilizing the temperature inside is of major importance to your crops.
If you’re wondering what I am talking about, consider this: even in October and November, the temperature inside a glass-covered greenhouse can fluctuate considerably, ranging between 30 degrees F lows and 100 degrees F highs.
This massive fluctuation in temperature happens regularly in certain climate conditions. Why? Well, the glazing of a greenhouse does a great job when it comes to letting in the sunlight and therefore the heat, but it’s also very good at letting heat out. That’s because glass or plastic does a relatively poor job in terms of insulation.
Actually, almost all greenhouses tend to overheat during the day if they’re not “temperature controlled”.
During the night when the temperature drops, the greenhouse loses all the heat, causing the plants to freeze. As you can easily imagine, plants (just like people) are not very happy in these circumstances.
So, what can you do to mitigate the problem? In order to control the temperature swings, you must install either a heater or a cooler inside the greenhouse. The cooling job is easier, as it’s basically taken care of by an efficient ventilation system.
Today we’ll take care of the heating thingy; that’s the hardest part of the job.
The smartest and also most sustainable way for mitigating the temperature swings inside a greenhouse is to capture the “extra” solar energy getting in during the day, then store it and use it later during the night when the temperature drops. That’s one solution.
Another solution is to build an efficient heating system that uses renewable or cheap fuels.
When building a greenhouse, remember to design it in such way that it doesn’t require very much cooling or heating in the first place. Good design is key and I discuss that in my article about building a greenhouse.
To revisit that topic briefly, that involves properly insulating the structure, using high-quality materials for roofing, and orienting the greenhouse facing south.
Now, let’s talk about heating solutions, tips and tricks, and the whole nine yards, right after the break!
1. Additional Insulation
Let’s begin with the simplest method: additional insulation. For blocking icy winter droughts and significantly reducing heat loss during the winter, the easiest and cheapest way is to add an insulating layer of bubble wrap, attached with clips to the inside frame of your greenhouse. This trick works very well even when it comes to unheated greenhouses.
For best results, go for horticultural bubble wrap insulation, which is available at garden centers. Unlike regular bubble wrap, this one is tougher and also UV-stabilized. Remember that the bigger the bubbles, the more light they let in.
Besides bubble wrap, you may also use horticultural fleece for further insulating your greenhouse and adding a few extra degrees for your plants during extra-cold winter nights. Just remember to remove the fleece during the day to ensure that your plants and veggies receive proper light and ventilation.
2. Heating System
Now, these are temporary, palliative solutions for heating a greenhouse. A better option is to invest in a heating system. Ideally, you should use electric fan-heaters, which can be easily moved around the greenhouse, thus preventing the apparition of cold spots and reducing the risks of plant disease.
When using an electrical heating system for your greenhouse, remember to save energy and money by investing in a thermostat, which will allow you to start the heaters only when necessary, i.e. when the temperature reaches a specific value. Also, invest in a high quality thermometer and check it daily; in this way you’ll be able to use and adjust your greenhouse heater more efficiently.
Try to avoid wasting money and energy by choosing the optimal temperature inside your greenhouse. Remember that most plants will thrive at temperatures as low as 45 degrees F and some of them even below that. The idea is not to transform your greenhouse into a tropical paradise; that’s not really necessary.
Remember to position your electric heaters carefully. Place them in a central spot, out in the open, or at one end of the greenhouse at a time, and heat only the areas that you need to.
For example, if you have a big greenhouse and only a few delicate plants, you just group them together and try to partition the greenhouse into smaller areas (use bubble wrap insulation curtains for example) which can be heated easily and economically.
But, there’s a problem with electric heaters: they are relatively expensive and they require a power supply. If you don’t have electricity nearby, you can go for paraffin heaters.
3. Heat Sink/ Thermal Mass
However, if you’re a die-hard off-the-grid prepper, you should opt for building a heat sink or a thermal mass (they’re the same thing basically). The thermal mass is the smart solution I was talking about in the preamble of the article.
Thermal mass can be defined as any type of material or structure which is able to store thermal energy. And, obviously, almost any type of material is capable of doing that; it’s a basic energy conservation principle, but some materials are better than others at storing heat.
The heat sink or thermal mass works by trapping the extra heat generated by the sun during the day and releasing it slowly when the temperature drops during the night, thus heating your greenhouse free of charge. Basically, it works like a battery, storing energy during the day and releasing it during the night.
Now, how much energy you can store in your “battery” is directly dependent upon the size of the thermal mass and also the heat capacity of its building materials.
Water is excellent at storing heat when compared to concrete or soil, having a twice the specific heat capacity volume of concrete and 4 times the heat capacity volume of soil. Hence, the best and most common method for building thermal mass/heat sinks is to use water barrels, due to the water’s excellent heat storing capacity.
The general idea is to stack 55 gallon barrels filled with water inside the greenhouse. How many you use will depend on the volume and size of your greenhouse. The barrels must be located where they receive the maximum amount of direct sunlight, i.e. near a north-facing wall.
The water inside the barrels will get warm during the day and the energy (heat) stored inside will be slowly released during the night, keeping your crop warm. Easy as pie, right? And cheap as dirt, too. Well, almost.
Remember to place the tender plants (seeding trays or warm-weather crops) near the barrels, which will be the warmest place in the greenhouse, for better results.
4. Heat Exchanger
Now, if the thermal mass idea, aka the water filled barrels, are not enough, you can go to the next level and incorporate a heat exchanger into your DIY project.
The heat exchanger is also called a Climate Battery or a SHCS (subterranean heating and cooling system) and it works by circulating the air through the heating mass.
There are lots of versions and designs for heat exchangers, but they all work using the same principles. The mechanisms of energy transfer and storage are identical: as the greenhouse heats during the day, the warm and humid air from inside the greenhouse is pumped by an electric fan via a network of underground pipes. The temperature drop produces water-vapor condensation; hence energy is released during the process (it’s called phase change).
The released energy is stored in the soil in the form of heat, thus creating a big mass of warm soil under your greenhouse, regardless of the season. During the night, when the outside temperature drops, the electric fan starts over (via a thermostat) and it circulates the air again through the underground pipes, which, this time, extract the heat stored in the soil and warm the greenhouse.
There are additional methods for building a heat exchanger, as the battery material may vary. For example some people choose to dig and backfill with stones or gravel the area underneath the greenhouse, as stone and gravel are better in terms of heat storing capacity than dirt.
It sounds a little bit complicated, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. This air-heat-exchanger system is relatively simple and time-tested for decades in homes and greenhouses all around the world.
Heat-to-air-exchangers are very efficient for two main reasons: first, the size/volume of the battery/thermal mass is huge when compared to a water-filled barrel (generally speaking, two times bigger).
Secondly, because the air is pushed actively through the thermal mass, this significantly increases the rate of heat exchange, making it more efficient when compared to “static” barrels.
Also, this system does three jobs at the same time: during the day, the greenhouse gets cooler, during the night it gets warmer and on top of that, ventilation is taken care of by design, making sure there are no cold pockets inside! Awesome, right?
You can use a thermostat to kick the fan on and off when the desired temperature is reached, offering you total control over the thermal mass, and that means it’s as smart as it gets, right?
Here’s a video which depicts how a heat sink helps with keeping the greenhouse warm during cold nights.
Video first seen on Michael Dibb
Here’s another idea about solving the problem of freezing during the winter when growing inside a greenhouse, called a Zero Energy Thermal Mass Greenhouse, which requires no power and it’s totally off the grid. It will work anywhere and it allows you to grow produce even in the winter.
Video first seen on Ted Pasternack
I hope the article helped and if you have suggestions or comments, feel free to express yourself in the dedicated section below. Also make sure to comeback on Sunday as we continue to talk about our survival gardens!
This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia.
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