Blogger Round-Up: Our very best gardening advice

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The internet is full of some really great blogs, and I’m fortunate to be in a group that focuses on things my readers love: preparedness, homesteading, healthy living, family, and survival. With a new gardening season approaching, I asked some of these bloggers to share their #1 article on the topic of gardening — their […]

Prepper to Prepper: Our best gardening advice

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Many, many years ago, close-knit communities would spend hours together in the course of a year sharing from their own experiences what worked and what didn’t when it came to gardening and farming. Much of that old-time, best gardening advice and wisdom has been passed down to younger generations, but unfortunately, most have been lost. […]

Preparing For Life’s Storms with Gardening!

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Preparing For Life’s Storms with Gardening!

Preparing For Life’s Storms with Gardening!
Bexar Prepper “Preparing For Life’s Storms

Have you been watching the prices in the grocery store, as the product packages shrink? What’s the answer? Grow your own produce. Tonight we welcome in mhpgardener an avid gardener, friend and gracious spirit. Bobby built both his greenhouse; I like to call them hangers cause their big enough to fit a plane in. He is learning hydroponic gardening he also gardens the traditional way, like the rest of us.

Continue reading Preparing For Life’s Storms with Gardening! at Prepper Broadcasting Network.

52 Weeks Savings Plan: Watch for these January bargains

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It’s a New Year and time for all sorts of resolutions. Some people resolve to eat healthier, lose weight, and exercise more. These are all great goals, but one that many of us forget has to do with finances. Imagine having extra cash set aside for emergencies — the unexpected trip to the doctor, replacing […]

Best Times to Purchase Produce By Month

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I have been trying to write articles this week on the food we all eat or drink on a daily or weekly basis. I really wanted to post about the best times to purchase our produce each month. Are you like me and you see some oranges and you buy them and take them home and start to peel them and they either taste really good or sometimes there is no flavor? This is why today’s post may help us all by buying our fruits and vegetables in season. Hence, they may be juicer and more flavorful.

Fruits and vegetables are a staple in any home. Finding out when the best time to buy fruits and veggies is essential. Here is a helpful guide to ensure your fresh produce will be healthy and delicious! Many of the fruits and vegetables on this list freeze well. If you desire to enjoy some of them all year long, stock up so you can enjoy them even if they aren’t in season.

The nice thing about buying or growing excess produce, we can freeze it, dehydrate it or bottle extra fruits and vegetables at the peak of their flavor. I can still remember our daughter, Heidi, grabbing a quart jar of peaches we had bottled the summer before and we would toast some homemade bread to go with it. I bet you can almost smell the bread baking, right? Here’s my post about making my no-fail bread recipes.

If you have freshly ground wheat flour, bread flour, yeast to name a few items you’ll need, you can make bread, I promise. There is nothing more awesome than punching down a bowl of bread dough and forming it into bread or dinner rolls. Oh, and don’t forget the cinnamon rolls. Cinnamon Rolls by Linda and Bread Recipes by Linda

I realize if we have a garden we can sometimes plant and produce some vegetables before they hit the store. I’m thinking fresh peas, for one. I can almost grow russet potatoes year round. Not quite but it’s close. Once you grow Non-GMO Organic potatoes you can never buy them again at the store. I will tell you this, freshly picked potatoes taste so much better than the ones that are shipped to the grocery stores. I still buy those occasionally, but they are not as moist as my homegrown ones.

I grow them in pots that are about 18-inches tall and 18-inches in diameter with a spigot that waters them. There is nothing I love more than watching my grandkids dig for potatoes. I love it, every time!!!

The great thing about having a garden is you can replant and overlap planting your plants or seeds to keep producing several months.

produce
My dream is to have a lemon tree, I would love to go out my back door and pick some lemons. Do you have fruit trees? Our home/yard here is too small to have fruit trees like we use to have. I look for land all the time. I can dream….

produce
Do you have a fruit you wish you could grow or plant, whether a bush or tree? I would love to pick blackberries and raspberries for sure. I love avocados, and wouldn’t it be fun to pick some of them when ripe in your backyard? Maybe you do! If you have them, I’m jealous in a good way.

produce
Produce In Season-Best Time To Buy

January

Fruits:

Lemons, grapefruit, tangelos, oranges, kiwis, pears, avocado.

Vegetables:

Split peas, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cabbage, spinach, kale, brussels sprouts, leeks, parsnips.

February

Fruits:

Raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, avocado, tangelos.

Vegetables:

Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, parsnips, turnips, onions, potatoes, artichokes, asparagus, carrots, celery, chard, spinach, kale.

March

Fruits:

Pineapple, lemons, limes, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, tangerines.

Vegetables:

Artichokes, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, mushrooms, radishes, turnips, leeks, brussels sprouts, celery, swiss chard.

April

Fruits:

Pineapple, grapefruit.

Vegetables:

Lettuce, mushrooms, asparagus, peas, broccoli.

May

Fruits:

Apricots, bananas, cherries, mangoes, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries.

Vegetables:

Carrots, onions, peas, okra, swiss chard, zucchini.

June

Fruits:

Blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, kiwi, peaches, watermelon.

Vegetables:

Corn, lettuce, zucchini.

July

Fruits:

Blackberries, blueberries, kiwi, mangoes, peaches, plums.

Vegetables:

Summer squash, cucumbers, corn, zucchini.

August

Fruits:

Apples, cantaloupe, mangoes, kiwi, peaches, tomatoes.

Vegetables:

Swiss chard, acorn squash, butternut squash, green beans, peppers.

September

Fruits:

Apples, cantaloupe, grapes, mangoes, pomegranates, pumpkins.

Vegetables:

Acorn squash, beets, butternut squash, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach.

October

Fruits:

Cranberries, apples, grapes, pomegranates, pumpkins.

Vegetables:

Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, lettuce, mushrooms.

November

Fruits:

Oranges, cranberries, tangerines.

Vegetables:

Beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, leeks, spinach, turnips.

December

Fruits:

Pears, grapefruit, oranges, papayas, tangelos, tangerines, pomegranates.

Vegetables:

Broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, leeks, mushrooms, parsnips.

Thanks for stopping by today, it means a lot to me. I hope this post inspires you to grow your own food. Please try and use organic soil, plants, seeds, and trees. We must be self-reliant and grow our own food. I’m extremely worried about our food chain. Please watch some Netflix food documentaries, and decide for yourself what food is right for you. I know what I will eat. Yes, it includes processed chocolate, but besides that, I want to eat only healthy whole foods. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected. May God bless this world.

My favorite things:

Stainless Steel Strainers

OXO Swivel Vegetable Peeler

The post Best Times to Purchase Produce By Month appeared first on Food Storage Moms.

9 Tips to Avoid the Summertime Prepping Slump

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It’s so easy for the hot, lazy days of summer to just sort of run into each other in a haze of heat and laziness. Then the day arrives when it’s time once again to get the kids ready for school, and we ask, where did the summer go?

If your prepping goals have taken a break right along with your pledge to have the kids do daily math drills and read for at least 30 minutes every day, then here are a few prepping activities and tips to avoid the summertime prepping slump.

1.  Get the kids involved in prepping activities

If they’re sitting around the house doing nothing, then they can help you prep! Children can fill canning jars, mylar bags, and buckets with dry goods and oxygen absorbers. They can help weed the garden and pick ripe fruits and vegetables. They can wash and prepare produce for canning and dehydration. Kids can go through their closets and drawers and pull out toys they no longer play with and clothing that no longer fits.

Hey, every time they say they’re bored, give them a prepping related task, like the ones on this list! They’ll have something productive to do and you’ll accomplish your prepping goals more quickly.

2.  Learn something as a family

Check out online calendars for craft stores, REI, Cabela’s, gyms, and your city’s summertime offerings. Many of these are survival and/or prepping related, such as learning how to read a compass, learning how to crochet or sew, etc. and very often these classes are free.

If these resources aren’t readily available to you, then check out a how-to book or watch some how-to YouTube videos on something your family would like to learn and do it yourselves!

TIP: Browse through my Skill of the Month page for dozens of ideas that will appeal to all members of your family!

Or, ask around and see if there is someone in your circle of friends and acquaintances who has a skill you would like to learn and is a willing teacher.

3.  Turn a family outing or vacation into survival training!

Camping, hiking, fishing — those are all survival related, fun, and everyone can be involved. Check out these articles with more information about enjoying the great outdoors, as a prepper:

7 Summer Children’s Activities for Sowing Survivalist Seeds

25 Things I Learned From Long-Term Camping

A Camping Skill Basic: Safe Fire Building

Camping is More than Just Equipment — Here is a list of skills you need to have

Make This Summer a Family Camping Summer

Survival Mom Camping-Survival Secrets

And then there’s my series on family road trips. As a veteran of some 16,000 highway miles, I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert in this area!

Eating On the Road: A Family Road Trip Survival Plan

Survive the Family Road Trip With These 13 Tips

Surviving the Family Road Trip

4.  Check into summer day camps related to prepping

Two summers ago my kids learned rifle skills in a 2-day camp at a local gun range. Lots of towns and cities start the summer with directories of these day camps.  If your kids are in a day camp or have gone away to camp, learning some sort of practical skill, then you’ll have time to either take a nap, read a relaxing book (just for fun!), or do anything else you like! Free time for mom is necessary!

5.  Amass produce in quantities and begin canning and dehydrating

Summer is prime produce time. Even if your garden was a flop or you didn’t get certain items planted, there are probably local gardeners and farmers who would love to share their bounty. Some might even be willing to trade a portion of their harvest for a portion of yours.

Bountiful Baskets is a large produce co-op that operates in many states. Do an internet search for “produce co-ops” in your area and you may end up finding a source of delicious, fresh product that you can then preserve for later.

Here are a few resources I’ve accumulated here to help you with canning different foods;

Once you have a good amount of green beans or tomatoes or whatever, make a simple plan for canning, dehydrating, and/or pickling. If your kids are whining about being bored, then you know who your helpers will be!

6.  Get away from the electronics!

Nothing zaps energy faster than sitting in front of a TV or computer screen hour after hour. Not only is time wasted but our minds and bodies become accustomed to inaction and it becomes even hard to get up and start doing something!

Allow yourself and the kids only a certain number of minutes per day in front of a screen.

7.  Take a few minutes to make lists to organize your prepping activities

A lot of time we find ourselves in a slump because we’re unfocused and are not sure what to do next. I’ve found that when I have all my scattered goals written down, it helps immensely.

Three lists that have helped me stay organized and focused on my preps are To Learn, To Do, and To Buy. From my book, Survival Mom:

List #1: To Learn
On this list you’ll keep track of skills and knowledge you realize will be important. A few examples on my own list are: Learn to tie various knots and know when to use them; work on creating recipes from my food-storage ingredients; and push my knitting skills to a higher level and knit a pair of socks.

Interestingly, many items on this list won’t cost a dime. If your budget is already strained, and buying even a few extra cans of tuna is a stretch, put more time and energy into learning skills, gaining knowledge, and seeking out other Survival Moms as resources.

List #2: To Do
Here’s another list that doesn’t have to empty out your bank account. Have you been meaning to compile all your important documents or inventory a garage filled with tools? Do you need to prepare your garden for the spring season?

There are simply dozens of things we intend to do, but they flicker in and out of our minds and are then . . . gone! As you read this book, start adding tasks to a To Do list and keep track of what you accomplish. It’s very empowering to see progress, although you will likely never have an empty To Do list!

List #3: To Buy
Although Lists 1 and 2 will keep you busy, there’s really no way around List 3. Stocking up on food, extra toiletries, good quality tools, and other supplies requires money. However, the good news is that a master To Buy list will help set priorities, keep you on budget, and even provide a shopping list when hitting the garage sale circuit.

Without a To Buy list, you may very well find yourself (a) spending money on things you later discover tucked away in a back cupboard or (b) snatching up purchases in a panic. This list helps save money as well as time.

8.  Assess whether or not the emotions that started your prepper journey have changed

If we begin a project or set a goal based mostly on emotion, when that emotion fades, and it will, very often our motivation fades as well. If you began preparing out of fear or panic, it’s likely that you’re not as motivated as you once were.

That’s all perfectly normal. However, if the logical part of your brain is convinced that prepping is important to the well-being of your family. You’ve just entered a new level of motivation based on rational conclusions. This is where lists come in handy: To Do, To Learn, To Buy. They’ll help you stay focused on what is most important regardless of the current state of your emotions.

9.  Start making plans and goals for when the kids are back in school

Summers are wonderful but let’s face it. When the kids return to school, so do routines. Having a predictable schedule once again will help you set priorities, focus on achieving small prepping goals, continue with prepping activities, and become the Super Survival Mom of your dreams!

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8 Reasons to Support Local Farmers

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Think about all the items you put in your cart at the supermarket or mega-store. Do you feel you paid a fair price for that product? If you have questions about a particular item, would you know who you could speak to for answers? Where did those potatoes come from, how old is that carton of eggs, and who is being supported by your hard earned dollars? Probably not local farmers.

local farmers

Chances are, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to get satisfactory answers to those questions when you buy food at any grocery store. However, when you buy from local farmers, it’s a completely different story.

The following are some reasons why you should support your local farmers whenever possible.

Prices from local farmers

With a big family that includes three teenage girls and two preteen boys, keeping everyone fed at my house is certainly a challenge. Just to make a taco dinner usually requires 4 pounds of ground beef to fill everyone’s belly. With the average price of $3.99/lb for ground chuck, that is $15.96 for just one element of one meal! Yikes! One homemade taco dinner could easily total over $35!

Obviously the grocery bill could quickly get out of hand if the average meal totaled that high every night. Fortunately for my family, we are able to purchase a half beef every spring for an average cost which costs far less than what can be found at the grocery store. Even better, this low cost not only applies to ground beef. We enjoy savings on all wonderful things beef, such as steaks, ribs and roasts. Honestly, without the benefits of buying from local farmers, my family would be eating a lot of Ramen noodles and five-dollar pizzas.

Buying local, though, isn’t always the cheapest way to go, since they are not factory farms that rely on artificial growth hormones and unnatural living conditions for the animals in order to maximize profits. Call local farmers directly, ask about their livestock, what they are fed, and their prices in order to determine what will best fit your family’s needs and budget.

If the price of a side of beef, for example, seems outrageous, be sure to figure how many meals will be made from the meat, and you may find, like I did, that it really is the best way to go, and the least expensive.

Get answers from local farmers

Of course, there are many other benefits of buying from local farmers other than just price. Buying local means I can talk to the farmers about the feed and medicines used for the market beef we purchase. Many facilities will take you back to see where the animal was raised. If I wish, I can speak to the actual human being who was in charge of raising the animal that feeds my family. Information about any chemicals that were sprayed on my vegetables is also available. Questions abut genetic modification can be asked and many farms offer recipe suggestions. Farmers love to discuss their products and they should. They invest hours, days and months to get their products perfect for purchase!

A good way to talk with several farmers at once is at a farmer’s market. At one I attended, I had the opportunity to chat with a local beef farmer and learned a great deal about how beef is categorized and the challenges he faces raising his cattle. He was a wealth of information that helped me decide what I wanted to buy.

Personal experience

In the summer, I can buy produce directly from roadside markets. Nothing makes me feel more like a domestic goddess than selecting fruits and vegetables so fresh you have to shake the dirt off.  How rewarding it is to rummage through the baskets and bins of product and selecting ears of fresh sweet corn or the perfect melon. I do not have to worry about another hurried patron with shopping cart road rage pressuring me along.

Tradition

From these produce stands, I can see the fields of crops being handpicked and brought by the bushelful to the small, family-owned stands. Many times, these farms allow you to pick your own produce for an even cheaper rate. The family farmers are usually on site and although extremely busy, they’re usually willing to answer questions about the fruits of their labor. By purchasing from local farmers, you help keep tradition alive. Many farmers today are third or fourth generation or even greater! This is a great reason to support local farmers whenever possible because the small, family-owned farm is an endangered lifestyle and one I want to support when I can.

Create memories for your children

The two farms located on each side of the small town where I live have been there as long as I can remember. I have memories of going to the north farm with my grandma and picking up bushels of cabbages and tomatoes. She would buy one bushel of tomatoes just for the family to eat that afternoon and a couple others for canning and stewing. When I was younger, I remember sitting under the shade of the big pear tree in the front yard and grabbing tomatoes straight from the bushel. I was eating them like apples with my grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins. Grandma would round up the entire family to go pick strawberries from the south side farm. The rest of the afternoon was spent eating them right out the little green quart containers.

It is important to take our children to local farms and let them see how the food gets to the table. With the convenience of supermarkets and online shopping, little ones today might not grasp the concept of farming that may be a common mindset to older generations. Ask a farmer to talk to them or even show them around. A farm can be an exciting place with tractors, bright and beautiful colors of the produce and all the hustle and bustle of the workers planting, sorting or harvesting.

Local economic support

It is a rewarding feeling knowing the money you spend in your community stays in your community. Fresh produce at prices often lower than what is found in grocery stores is certainly a perk of shopping local farms. Supporting these local farms is important for the livelihood of our community as well. Both of the farms in our town have been in operation for as long as I can remember and are an important pillar of our local economy. Each farm provides summer employment to many local teens and adults needing a seasonal job or supplemental income.

Be sure to shop, though, at peak season for the best prices for you, and help farmers get rid of their produce at just the time they likely have huge harvests to move.

There’s nothing like the taste

Food grown in its ideal season and picked at the perfect point of ripeness tastes much better than product mass-produced in a greenhouse in the off season. Of course this is a matter of opinion, but I am confident that the majority will agree.

The one item I can tell a vast difference in taste between prime season and off season is tomatoes. Nothing is better than fresh tomatoes off the vine. Image those warm, juicy and flavorful tomatoes sliced for that charbroiled cheeseburger, diced and mixed with fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil for that perfect bruschetta topping or cut in chunks for that garden fresh salad. Nothing beats tomatoes at their prime. Personally, I think tomatoes grown in the off season with manufactured growing processes generally result in a waxy, flavorless tomato-like substitute.

Nutrition

Buying produce from local farmers’ markets and roadside stands generally means you are getting an amazingly fresh product. Often times, produce is picked in the early morning and delivered straight to the stand for sale that same day. When produce is picked at the peak of freshness, the nutritional value is also at its peak. Each day that produce is off the vine, tree, plant, etc., the nutritional value, as well as taste, decreases.

Think about the produce in big markets and find out where it comes from. Grocery stores carry tomatoes from Mexico and bananas from Brazil. Much of our produce comes from afar. Even with today’s sophisticated logistic methods, the produce you buy at chain stores and larger markets could be days old by the time you put it in your cart. Some industrialized farms harvest produce, like tomatoes, while they are still green so they do not bruise or spoil in transit. Distribution partners then use gas to ripen them for market! Not only is the product picked before it reaches its nutritional peak, but the product itself is not up to par when compared with from field to table product.

Small farms across the land are what helped build our nation. Hard working folks work 365 days a year growing and raising food the old-fashioned and natural way are finding it hard to keep their farms running. Often the consumer dollar is thrown toward mega-marts and superstores. Why not support local farmers? You can take advantage of the better taste, price, nutritional value and other intangible gifts of those delicious fruits, veggies, meat and eggs!

As they say, “On the eighth day, God created the farmer.”

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Backward Ideas About Backyard Farming

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Starting your own backyard farm or suburban homestead can be fun and rewarding. You can have fresh eggs, fruits and vegetables that come straight from your own backyard, raise bees, and develop your own personal food oasis.

If you want a backyard farm you may have put it on the back burner for a number of reasons. You may feel it’s not possible where you live or that buying all the supplies and gear necessary will break the bank. You may just feel that you don’t have enough room. These backyard farming ideas will ease your mind!

Really, Your Backyard Is Fine

One of the larger concerns most people have about backyard farming is the size of their yard. They wonder if it’s actually possible to grow enough food to make back yard farming worth the effort. The answer is, “Yes!” More and more people are becoming creative about how to grow a huge amount of food in a small space. Planning an edible landscape is doable for most people, as detailed in this article.

Going Vertical

Finding space to farm a larger crop could be as simple as putting your fences to work for you. Rather than growing a decorative ivy, choose a fruit bearing vine. There are many types of vine plants that produce food and could use your fence to grow on. Grapes vines are a good example of this. They also look decorative.

Grow strawberries in raised planters that look similar to gutters. Then grow a plant that thrives in shade beneath them. This increases the amount of food you can grow as well as your variety in produce. Also consider using hanging planters for plants such as tomatoes or peppers.

There are many vertical planters on the market, and some of them are quite budget-friendly, like this one. The Garden Tower is an innovative planter that also provides an area for composting, but it’s quite a bit more expensive, and, of course, there are many other designs between these two options.

Indoor Plants/ Outdoor Plants

Backyard homesteading isn’t just confined to the great outdoors. You can also grow indoor plants for homesteading purposes. Choose miniature fruit trees, herbs or edible flowers for indoors. Even something like a tabletop grow kit, like this one, can allow anyone to grow  herbs, lettuce and other greens, and small vegetables and is suitable for apartment life.

Save outdoor garden space for larger plants, such as pumpkin or watermelon.

Compost And Neighbors

The sweet smell of compost does not need to drive your neighbors insane. Make sure that during the summer you water your compost down. This will help in the break down process of your compost and helps keep the smell where it belongs.

You can even ask your neighbors to contribute to the compost heap. Grass clippings and raked up leaves are a welcome addition to your decomposing plant pile. Offer to take your neighbors leave and clipping off their hands. As an added bonus you could even offer to rake up the  leaves yourself.

By the way, the tumbler style of composter is one that I do not recommend. Go for something simple and inexpensive like this one. It’s small enough to fit just about anywhere.

Backyard Farming Ideas with Animals

When you think of a farm you don’t just think of plants. You think of chickens, cows, pigs and other livestock. While some of these animals won’t be ideal for being raised in a back yard, other will fit in just fine.

What Animal And Where

You may be thinking that while a garden is possible, animals just aren’t. You live too close to or in a city and they don’t allow animal husbandry. If you feel this way but haven’t check with your local government, you may want to make sure. Read through your town and/or neighborhood Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).

Some cities allow raising chickens, and more and more are jumping on the backyard chickens movement. Others allow you to raise other types of animals as well. Check to see what you local government allows as well as what type of permits and living conditions ( for the animals ) are required.

Bees are a very simple way to expand your backyard farm, and, once established, a hive or two are very easy to care for. In my neighborhood’s HOA documents, bees are not specified in their list of restrictions.

Mini May Not Stay Mini

There are many animals that, if normal size you would never try to cram into your back yard. A breeder putting mini in front of the name of an animal doesn’t always change that. You still need to check to see what an adult mini animal will grow into.

Miniature goats and pigs may start out small, but could grow to still be too big to fit in your backyard.

Considering Sound

You don’t need a rooster to have chickens. The only reason to have a rooster would be to fertilize your eggs to produce more chickens. If you are just trying to produce your own eggs, all you need are the chickens.

Roosters are noisy, and while some people like the idea of  waking up to the crow of a rooster, other people loathe the idea. Chickens are about  as noisy as a barking dog. Geese and ducks are another option some suburban farmers choose — just spend some time around them to determine if the noise will cause problems with the neighbors.

Things You Don’t Need To Buy

Like many projects, there are new and improved tools, shelters and planting boxes that advertisers will insist are a must. Most of them are not. Some of them may save a little time and effort, but you could save plenty of money making your own.

Animal Shelters

While you can buy a chicken coop online, you can also make one. It would be less expensive. You could also build pens for your goats and other livestock. There are plenty of free plans online to guide you through the process. Here are a few places to look.

http://www.freechickencoopplans.com/

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/build-a-pigpen-zmaz76ndztak.aspx

http://sanktoor.com/goat-house-plans/

Extra Special Gardening Tools

People were growing crops thousands of years ago. They did it without the new and improved plow. They walked around with a stick poking holes in the ground, putting seeds into them, and covering them up. While it’s nice to have some of the newer items to farm ( weed eater and edgers are our friends), you don’t need much more than what they used thousand of years ago.

To avoid spending an excess of money on tools and supplies you may end up not using, make a list of so-called “must haves”, ask gardening and farming friends for their opinions, and then just wait to see if these are things that you, personally, will find useful. If the tool doesn’t save you time and/or money, then it’s likely not worth the investment.

 

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9 Edible Perennials You Can Plant Once & Enjoy Forever

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9 Edible Perennials You Can Plant Once & Enjoy Forever

Image source: Pixabay.com

Who doesn’t love fresh produce straight out of the garden? Crisp, green snap peas, juicy tomatoes, crunchy zucchini and cool refreshing cucumbers are worth our gardening efforts.

But wouldn’t it be great to reap the rewards of a harvest year after year with just one planting effort? You can, with edible perennials. Edible perennials can decrease your annual workload while you still get to harvest some delicious crops.

Here are nine edible perennials to consider adding to your garden.

1. Asparagus. Plant once and enjoy fresh asparagus for years with minimal work. Asparagus can take three years to become established and ready to harvest, but they can produce for as many as 20 years before needing to be replaced. Once you plant the initial bed(s) of asparagus, all you need to do is mulch annually, and enjoy fresh asparagus year after year.

2. Rhubarb. This perennial is frequently used in jams and desserts, but it also can be used in savory dishes. The leaves and roots are poisonous, so use only the stems. Rhubarb should be divided every 3 to 4 years during the spring or fall when the plants are dormant.

Looking For Non-GMO Herb Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

3. Jerusalem artichoke. These are a species of sunflower with a tuberous root similar to a potato when cooked, or a water chestnut when eaten raw. They store sugars as inulin rather than starch, so they could be beneficial to those with diabetes or those trying to cut down on sugars and starches. When harvesting, just leave the smallest tubers, and you will have another crop the following year. Cutting the flowers and enjoying them as cut flowers later in the season will prevent them from spreading seeds, and the plant will put its energy into producing bigger roots.

4. Chives. Like many herbs, chives can be grown as a perennial. If you live in cold climates, then you can bring your chives indoors during the winter months. Just transplant them into a pot and put them in a warm place with plenty of light. Clean the dirt off the roots so you are not bringing in any bugs or diseases, and then plant the chives in a good potting soil mix. Use the flowers and stems to add flavor to lots of foods, including chive vinegar and chive butter.

5. Walking onion (Egyptian walking onion). This plant forms bulbs at the top of its stems, which then fall over onto the ground as they get bigger and heavier, and if the conditions are right, will grow a new plant from the bulb. You can eat the top bulbs, the green stems of the onion, and the underground bulb. Just make sure to leave some to grow for the following year.

9 Edible Perennials You Can Plant Once & Enjoy Forever

Lovage. Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Lovage. Similar to celery, lovage can be used in soups and salads, and every part of the plant is edible. Lovage is easier to grow than celery and can grow up to six-feet tall with proper growing conditions, so give it plenty of space. Lovage should be divided every few years just like rhubarb.

7. French sorrel. The broad green leaves of the French sorrel plant are tangy and sour, so you want to use this one in combination with other ingredients. Just like any other herb, use it sparingly as you get a feeling for how much you need to use.

8. Chinese artichoke (crosne). This is a member of the mint family and spreads through rhizomes underground. Just like mint, it can be invasive, so consider giving crosne its own space rather than mixing with other plants. The tubers are small but plentiful, and like the Jerusalem artichoke, flowering reduces the yield of tubers

9. Chrysanthemums. All chrysanthemums are edible, but the taste can vary widely. Garland chrysanthemum, or Chrysanthemum coronarium, is the most popular for eating because of its mild flavor. People use the leaves and the flowers of this plant to enhance salads and stir fries.

What would you add to our list? Share your tips in the section below:

 

 

5 Ways Your Great-Grandparents Stockpiled Fresh Produce

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5 Ways Your Great-Grandparents Stockpiled Fresh Produce

Image source: Pixabay.com

Can you stockpile fresh produce? Yes! You can integrate your extra garden and orchard produce (or weekly specials from the supermarket) into a well-planned stockpile that includes fresh produce, just like your great-grandparents did.

Fresh items can be preserved for longer storage, and you can grow fruit trees, nut-bearing trees, berry bushes, and perennial edible plants and herbs to ensure a well-balanced diet that includes fresh fruits and vegetables.

This article will examine why preserving produce is a good idea, will compare nutritional benefits and costs to store of dehydrated foods versus canning or freezing, and will suggest the most useful fruits and vegetables to stockpile.

First, though, why would you stockpile perishable items?

  • Fruits and vegetables are a good source of a broad array of vitamins and minerals for a balanced diet (like potassium for muscle health).
  • “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” as the old English proverb says. Fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet prevent diseases like scurvy (caused by a lack of vitamin C).
  • Fruits and vegetables are a source of fiber, which is filling and aids digestion,
  • Variety! Vegetables and fruit offer sweet, spicy and sour tastes.
  • Fruit- and nut-bearing trees, as well as some perennial plants or those that come true from seed, offer a unique opportunity to establish part of your stockpile as part of your home landscaping.

Fresh Produce Stockpile Option No. 1: Dehydrate

Drying or dehydrating fruits and vegetables is more cost-effective long-term than canning or freezing, and dried items (like apple slices) have a longer shelf life than canned or frozen items. In addition, drying produce using lower heat settings preserves essential nutrients that might be lost in cooking at high temperatures or in freezing. If you are interested in comparing costs between drying, canning and freezing, check out this article from the Colorado State University Extension.

Keep your eye out for fruit on sale, and dry it as a cost-effective way to incorporate fresh produce into your stockpile. Dehydrating is also an excellent way to preserve excess garden produce with less effort than canning, and less energy expenditure. Both methods generally require slicing or chopping to prepare produce, but water bath canning requires sterilized jars, a stove top for hot water bath boiling, and it takes more hands-on time, so more effort and more spent fuel energy.

What to dry? Apple slices are easy to dry and have a long shelf life when sealed in an airtight container. Pineapple can be easily dried, as can apples, pears, plums, tomatoes, herbs, plums, pears and bananas. Strawberries, kiwi, pumpkin and peppers are also good drying candidates. Slices of citrus fruit can be dried. You can also create fruit leathers and meat jerkies.

Store dehydrated food in airtight containers (I use glass jars), in a cool area, and label for rotation and use as you would other foods in your stockpile.

A brief note on dehydrator equipment: If it is humid in your area, then you need a dehydrator (preferably with a heat source and electric fan), but if you are in a dry area, then you can actually dry food on trays in the sun.

Fresh Produce Stockpile Option No. 2: Canning

Standard canning favorites are applesauce, tomato sauce and salsa, dilly beans, whole peaches, and jams and jellies. Canned produce is good for a year or more before it starts to lose its nutritional value, so clearly label canned food and rotate its use in your short-term stockpile.

Learn Everything You Don’t Know In “The Big Book Of Off The Grid Secrets”!

Canning is hot and takes quite a bit of effort. Jars must be sterilized before filling, the food is generally cooked (or a hot broth is added to uncooked food in jars), and then jars are submerged in a boiling water bath for a set period of time, depending on what is being canned and in what size jar.

Fresh Produce Stockpile Option No. 3: Cold Storage

Cold storage options include freezing fresh produce and using a cool area (such as a root cellar) to preserve items like potatoes, onions, pumpkin, winter squash, apples and garlic.

5 Ways Your Great-Grandparents Stockpiled Fresh Produce

Image source: Flickr / Creative Commons

Freezing produce is obviously dependent on a power supply in warmer months or warmer climates. The shelf life of frozen items is similar to canned food. Preparation of fruits and vegetables for freezing may include “blanching” the produce in a hot water bath and then drying before packing and freezing.  Remove as much air from packages as you can to extend shelf life. A vacuum sealer to package food is an excellent way to remove air and package items for freezing.

Root cellars are typically used to preserve a late summer or fall harvest of fruit and vegetables into the winter months. A root cellar temperature is typically near 40 degrees Fahrenheit and has a high humidity level (80 percent or more). This temperature and humidity is good for storing potatoes, apples, carrots and pumpkins.

Fresh Produce Stockpile Option No. 4: Ferment & More

Do you like sauerkraut, pickles and salty green beans? Don’t forget the options of salt water brining, fermentation and preserving in solutions such as oil, vinegar and alcohol. A handy resource to learn more is “Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation” published by Chelsea Green Press (2007).

Fermenting is also used to produce alcohol; the high sugar content of many fruits in combination with yeast will produce alcohol if allowed to ferment long enough. Bubbly apple cider or homemade wine anyone?

Fresh Produce Stockpile Option No. 5: Planting

My favorite option for stockpiling fresh produce is to plan ahead for future harvests by planting fruit & nut trees, berry bushes, and perennial herbs and edible plants.

The best time to plant a fruit or nut tree is now; fruit-bearing trees can take 3-7 years to produce fruit. Consider apples, pears, plums, chestnuts and hazelnuts. In more southerly areas, citrus, almonds and figs are also possible. Crabapples are a natural source of pectin for canned jams and jellies, if you don’t want to have to rely on store-bought pectin.

Consider planting berry bushes such as raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Grapes are relatively easy to grow, and hardy in many areas. Rosehips, found on many old-fashioned roses, are a good source of vitamin C. Herbs, such as parsley, are high in vitamin C, and herbs like chives and sage come back year after year. Perennial garden staples such as rhubarb and asparagus will come back year after year, and can be supplemented with a store of garden seeds for things like tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

Martin Luther may have said it best: “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

In conclusion, a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables is an excellent addition to a well-planned stockpile. You can preserve and grow fresh produce to ensure a well-balanced diet. So, what are you waiting for? Get growing, drying, canning, fermenting, and root cellaring!

What advice would you add on stockpiling and preserving fresh product? Share your tips in the section below:

 

 

 

 

Why Nutrition is an Essential Part of Preparedness

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Why Nutrition is an Essential Part of Preparedness via The Survival MomWhen you start acquiring your long-term food storage supply, you should keep nutrition and variety in mind. Nutrition is considered a matter of course, but we don’t often think about the importance of having a varied diet. What we think about even less is how nutrition and variety often go together. When you were growing up, did your mom ever tell you to make sure the things on your dinner plate were all different colors? There is a reason for that.

They say that variety is the spice of life, and no one understands this better than the typical college student who exists mostly on ramen noodles and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I, myself, subsisted primarily on cup-o-noodles, sun chips, and apple juice during my last semester of college. A bland, unvaried diet gets old really fast. Many cookbooks like this one have been written to help college students get beyond boring and not very nutritious meals.

Now, most of us, when we think of “nutrition” immediately think of the phrase, “don’t eat junk food all the time.” Junk food can definitely have a severe impact on your heath, but it usually manifests as weight gain and lethargy. When I talk about nutrition, I am referring to the practice of eating enough of all the things your body needs to prevent it from developing a deficiency. Believe it or not, it’s entirely possible to eat this way on a food storage pantry diet.

Deficiencies

Monotonous meals are boring to eat, and therefore, not very good for morale. (Never underestimate the importance of morale when it comes to preparedness!). Boring, repetitive meals can also be bad for your health. Eating a narrow range of foods can put you at risk for numerous nutrient deficiencies. Which ones you develop can depend on which nutrients are absent in your diet. All are unpleasant, and all can, unchecked, result in death.

Most of us learned about scurvy (vitamin C deficiency) in middle school. Other conditions due include beriberi (thiamine deficiency), and pellagra (niacin deficiency), kwashiorkor, and marasmus. The latter two disorders are caused by to starvation in general, but beriberi and pellagra can turn up in people who have plenty to eat, surprisingly. They are not starving and often have full meals.

Beriberi is often found in regions of the world where the main staple is polished white rice. Rice has a much longer shelf-life when the husk and bran are removed, but this process also removes much of the rice’s nutritive value. The Southern United States suffered from a Pellagra epidemic in the early 20th Century. Most of the low-income people of that time and place subsisted primarily on ground corn, which by itself is deficient in niacin. Today in the United States, all white rice and cornmeal is enriched with nutrients before being packaged for sale. Check out this easy recipe for Super Rice as a way to increase the nutrients in white rice.

An Edible History of Humanity,” by Tom Standage, illustrates the connection between nutrition and variety of foods very well. He points out that our hunter-gatherer ancestors were actually healthier than their agricultural descendents.  This conclusion is based on forensic examinations of ancient human remains. As hunter-gatherers, our ancestors ingested a wide variety of things (berries, grains, nuts, meat, tubers), instead of living on a diet made up of almost exclusively bread and beer once wheat became domesticated. Their foraging skills were keen, something we should all learn to do, no matter where we live.

Skeletons dating from the early period of agriculture are shorter, and contain poorer dental health compared to their early hunter-gatherer counterparts. (Lest we overly romanticize hunter-gathering, Standage also mentions that agriculture allowed for more economic stability, which was a definite plus even if the price for that stability was a few inches in height.)

Taking Nutrition For Granted

Most of us learned in 9th grade biology that the entire structure of the human body consists of only a handful of amino acids put together in different ways. Most of these we can synthesize ourselves, but some must come from the foods we eat. Luckily, with our modern economy, fulfilling those needs is as simple as a trip to the grocery store. Eggs, milk, bread, veggies, maybe a steak for dinner, and check. Your body has what it needs to thrive.

Because very, very few individuals in Modern America develop nutrition issues, the importance of eating a balanced diet is overlooked. And because of the massive availability of food, and the practice of enriching things like breakfast cereal, white flour, rice, and cornmeal with nutrients, we don’t even think it’s a huge deal. We take for granted the non-scarcity of everything, and don’t appreciate how tenuous our system is, and how reliant on shipping. “Eating your vegetables” has become a moral issue, something that good little boys and girls do if they want to please their mothers, when it should be a basic health issue.

Those who survived rationing during the second World War have a much better understanding of why we tell people to eat vegetables and drink all their milk. There was great concern in Great Britain during this time period about procuring adequate sources of vitamin C; people picked rose hips and preserved them in syrup to be taken as a tonic to prevent against scurvy. Here’s an article I wrote about World War 2 and food storage.

How to Store a Balanced Diet

So with all this in mind, what should you put in your long-term food storage to keep your family healthy during a crisis? Thanks to food storage companies like Thrive Life, you can get just about everything you can think of in a #10 can: fruit, vegetables, pasta, quinoa, instant meals, even cookie mix. Pretty much anything you can think of that is used in every-day cooking has a food storage analog. If you don’t already have some of these things in your food storage, I’d encourage you to get some because of all the many reasons listed above.

Some people are hesitant to spend money on freeze-dried strawberries because it seems like a luxury item and not a staple – strawberries are lovely, but won’t keep you full. I would argue that it’s worth the money. Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C, plus there’s that little issue of morale I mentioned earlier.

Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are highly recommended because of their very long shelf life when unopened and the fact that they retain nearly all their nutrients. You can browse through all Thrive Life produce from this website.

If you haven’t already tried your hand at gardening, that’s something you should look into this very next spring. Brassica vegetables are a good choice, being a great source of vitamin K. They are easy to grow (except maybe for cauliflower – I can never get that stuff to work for me!), and grow quickly. And, being outdoors increases your own Vitamin D levels, even if you have a very black thumb!

In a pinch, if you have already exhausted all sources of vitamin C and have no more cans of freeze dried strawberries, you can eat sprouted grains of wheat. Learning to sprout seeds is an incredibly easy way to add nutrients of all types to your diet. Read this to learn how.

Warning: this does not work with all grains. Sprouting rye is not a good idea; the risks of contracting Ergotism from moldy rye outweigh the benefits of vitamin C. 

 

Why Nutrition is an Essential Part of Preparedness via The Survival Mom

Rally against plan to charge farmers for water from their own dams!!! AUSTRALIA.

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We all know that our government is totally corrupt, but what can they possibly hope to achieve by bankrupting & ruining our farmers? They have already prioritised mining over farming, & made protests illegal, now they want to charge farmers for the use of their own water!!!

Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

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Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

One of the best things about living off-grid is that you can make some money while living your dream lifestyle. I’m not talking about millions of dollars, but instead hundreds or thousands of dollars — enough to supplement other sources of income, which allows you to continue living off-grid.

For these, you likely already have experience in them or already are involved:

1. Selling surplus protein

Many off-the-grid homesteads have a collection of small animals raised for protein. Chicken and rabbits are common, but other fowl or fish are also possible. One easy way to make some extra money is to sell surplus protein. For example, you can only eat so many eggs at a time. So if your hens are rocking, sell the extra eggs.

Discover 1,147 Secrets Of Successful Off-Grid Living!

The key is diversity. Many off-the-grid homesteaders focus on one or two animals, so eating chicken or rabbit every day can be monotonous. Your neighbors, who may raise cattle or pigs, may be eager customers for a few meals of chicken or rabbit rather than beef or pork. Word can spread quickly, and you even could sell the items at the local farmers’ market.

2. Selling surplus produce

Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

Image source: Pixabay.com

The same goes for the output of your garden. Make a special effort to grow something different and uncommon that other nearby neighbors will happily buy from you. For example, while everyone grows potatoes and carrots, consider some other root vegetables like salsify, parsnip, or sunchokes. Again, variety is the spice of life, and neighbors and others in town may happily pay you for something different from the ordinary.

3. Growing grains

If you have the available land and labor (like a horse or a tractor), growing grains is a moneymaker. People are naturally drawn to buying locally, and if you can offer something relatively unique like quinoa, sorghum or amaranth, this will be a welcome change to corn or flour. You could bake and sell bread, cakes and other delights made from your own flour.

You also can expand this to growing fodder for your neighbors’ pigs or cows.

4. Making household supplies

Another way to make some extra money is to focus on making household supplies that every homestead needs. Canning food, growing and producing herbal remedies, tanning, making soap, and making candles are all options. The best part about these options is that you can use supplies readily available on the homestead.

For example, candles use rendered animal fat. Soap can be made from lye. Herbal remedies come from the flowers and herbs in the garden. Finally, consider woodworking. While today’s shops are noisy places filled with buzzing saws and loud drills, people have built simple furniture and other items for centuries without modern tools or electricity.

5. Using your technical expertise

Easy Ways To Make Money Off-Grid (By Doing What You’re Already Doing)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Most off-the-gridders rely on some type of modern device for power – solar power, diesel generators or hydropower are common options. While all of these technologies are great alternatives to buying from the electric company, some degree of technical know-how is necessary to troubleshoot and repair an off-grid power source that’s not working.

So if you have solar power, become an expert on inverters and batteries. If you have a diesel generator, learn how to diagnose and fix any common generator problem. Likely, you and your neighbors live in remote areas, so those near you will appreciate having someone close by to troubleshoot and repair their off-grid power systems.

6. Blogging 

While many of us cherish books, a lot of us learn by searching the Internet. You can make some money by setting up a website and writing blogs about your own off-grid living experiences.

Conclusion

Often, people living off-the-grid can use some supplemental income. By putting your labor and homestead bounty to work, you can provide goods and services that others in the nearby community will readily pay for.

What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

If You Like All-Natural Home Remedies, You Need To Read Everything That Hydrogen Peroxide Can Do. Find Out More Here.

Learn from My Many Gardening Mistakes

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gardening mistakesGardening is one of the top prepper skills needed for survival. Learning how to grow your own food is not something you want to do after a disaster has happened. I can speak from experience when I say there is a lot to learn and you will make a lot of gardening mistakes. Better to make them now when your world is pretty stable than when you’re just trying to survive day by day following a worst case scenario.

If you count my first year (which I often don’t), this will be my fourth year gardening. In those three years of growing and trying to grow food, I have made a lot of mistakes. I am very glad for each and every one of those mistakes, because otherwise, I would not have found out what I didn’t yet know. Let me share those mistakes with you and maybe you can avoid them!

Year 1 Gardening Mistakes

Where to begin?

  • I planted too much.
  • The bed was too big.
  • I started all the seeds on the same day.
  • There wasn’t enough water.

My first try at gardening was in a fairly large raised garden bed in the corner of our backyard. I planted pumpkins, tomatoes, carrots, green peppers, strawberry plants, peas and some herbs – all by sowing seeds at the same time.

Now I know that each part of the country has a planting zone and there are many charts to tell you when to plant, what to plant, and what to start indoors. As things started growing, I soon realized that the pumpkin vines were going to wind their way through everything. I also couldn’t tell the plants from the weeds. There was so much in the garden that I had to wade through the garden to get to the plants in the middle!

I still had hope even after I realized the garden was a bit crowded – and then a drought hit the area. We tried watering for a few weeks, but our water bill was outrageous. We let the garden go and besides a few strawberries, we got nothing from the garden but lessons to take with us into Year 2.

Year 2 Gardening Mistakes

Again, my mistakes were many:

  1. Some seeds were planted late.
  2. I planted too much, again.
  3. I didn’t check for predators every day.
  4. I wasn’t prepared to succeed.

The next time we tried gardening, we had moved to a different state. My husband built four 8-foot by 4-foot beds and we filled them with dirt. I researched everything we wanted to plant to see when and how we should plant them. I created a timeline so I could check off what we needed to do.

So far, so good.

However, we barely got the seeds in the mail in time to start the tomato seeds inside, which meant the pepper seeds started inside were about a month late. (We did not get a lot of peppers that year.) I had a lot to do and check on during that spring and summer for a first-time gardener (I still don’t count that first year.) I still had young children to tend to, activities to get us to, and vacations to take. Each plant had something different to teach me, but I didn’t have time to learn from all of them.

We didn’t find the hornworms until they had devoured several tomato plants. The Japanese beetles attacked the pumpkin plants severely. We beat them back once we found them with Neem oil, but the damage had been done. We should have checked the plants every day, but we didn’t.

Overall, the garden was a success that year, despite my mistakes. That, in itself, led to another mistake – I wasn’t prepared for success. I knew we’d learn a lot, but I didn’t realize we just might grow a lot. I didn’t have the recipes or equipment on hand to harvest and use everything we grew. I ended up giving a lot away to friends. It was stressful trying to not waste what we grew. I stocked up on mason jars and cookbooks that next winter!

Year 3 Gardening Mistakes

By this time, I had learned a lot, but made new mistakes. This time:

  1. There was too much water.
  2. I didn’t weed enough.
  3. We didn’t know about cross-pollination.
  4. I didn’t save some seeds correctly.
  5. I wasn’t prepared to fail.

Too much of a good thing can be bad. The first year, we didn’t have enough water. This year, we had too much and our tomatoes suffered. Turns out a little bit of mulch would have saved them, but I didn’t know that at the time. The overabundance of water also affected our squash, zucchini, pumpkin and melon plants. Powdery mildew would have been nipped in the bud if we had caught it early, but we went on vacation and it was in full force when we came back. The weeds had also overtaken parts of the garden in the week we were gone. I didn’t mark the location of plants well. (This year, I just might hire a garden sitter in addition to a dog sitter when we leave!)

I knew nothing about pollination. Have you learned about pollination? You should, if you’re going to plant a garden. Some plants are self-pollinators and can go anywhere in the garden. However, others need help from insects and bees to pollinate and produce fruit. If you put two of those plants next to each other, the insects and bees will cross-pollinate them, and you can end up with a squash that looks like a zucchini or a melon that looks like a pumpkin. Honestly! We opened up what looked like a pumpkin and it had a melon smell and taste. We won’t make that mistake again.

We had to buy some pepper plants because when I saved the green pepper seeds from the previous year’s garden, I apparently saved them from immature peppers because hardly any of the seeds I started indoors sprouted. Save seeds from fully mature plants if you want the seeds to germinate.

I was all set for a great harvest in year three with all my canning gear and recipes. I planned for a fully stocked pantry of tomato sauce and salsa. I forgot to think about what we would do if we didn’t have a big harvest – and we didn’t. The only things that flourished that year were onions and jalapenos. I canned plenty of jalapenos, but our salsas and tomato sauces only lasted a few months. .

Year 4 Gardening Mistakes

This growing season has just started and already I’ve made one mistake: I started seeds too early.

I don’t have anything in the ground yet, but I planted our tomato seeds too early indoors. This should easily be remedied by getting some bigger pots as planting time gets closer, but I found out tomato plants like to shoot out long roots and I hope I don’t stunt their growth. I wish I had found that out before I tried getting a jump-start on nature. I’ll be buying pepper plants again this year as I must have harvested seeds from some more immature green pepper plants that really looked mature.

Mistakes are how I’m learning and I expect to make many, many more. Make sure to find some experts to help you along in your gardening journey. I highly recommend Melissa K. Norris, who has a blog, podcasts and a book full of gardening tips and know-how. Also, check out the other gardening articles on The Survival Mom website at her gardening page.

gardening mistakes

Agriculture, keeping up!

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Agriculture, keeping up!
Brett Bauma “Makers on Acres

Agriculture, keeping upOn this episode of Makers on Acres Tech. Build and Grow show we are discussing modern agriculture and how our modern way of producing food will not be able to keep up with the population booms and how it will affect its own ability to produce.

3-19-16 Irrigation1The modern agricultural system is where it is because of need (demand). In order for our large population to be fed, people had to start innovating to find ways to produce more food, cheaper and more efficiently. The modern agricultural system is though, a threat to itself, us and our futures. Many farmers rely on GMO crops for large enough harvests to pay the bills and keep the farm going. Most modern agriculture relies on chemical fertilizers to feed the depleted soils, to then feed the plants.

3-19-16 abstract-21769_960_720Acres upon acres of farm land are dry, dusty, organic matter deprived waste lands that have no nutritional value to the plant they play home to. Farmers rely on Agro scientists and chemists to find ways to keep the crops fed and growing so that they can feed their families, but what they don’t realize is that they are slowly sending their farms into the grave.

Although the modern system can sustain the population, the expected population booms in the future and the ever changing land health is a threat to food supply and incomes of thousands of families and communities.

So what is the solution?

Listen in to hear my discussion on how I believe that the current food system will crash and no longer be able to sustain the future additional billions of residents on this earth. We all mostly depend on the food that appears on grocery store shelves. What will happen when the day comes that it’s not there on a regular basis?
Makers On Acres Website: http://makersonacres.com/

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27 Tips from a Master Gardener

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27 Tips from a Master Gardener via The Survival MomA few years ago, I attended a class taught by Marta Waddell, a Master Gardener in Arizona. I’ve referred to my class notes over and over again, and decided they were good enough to pass along to you!

February isn’t too early to think about gardening! It’s the perfect time to start planning, especially since some plants need to be started inside weeks before the final frost.

  1. Practice eating what’s in season locally. This will get your family used to eating seasonal produce, and, therefore, what you can grow in your own garden.
  2. Learn what herbs might help your family’s health issues.
  3. Marta recommends Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables From Your Home Garden All Year Long by Eliot Coleman.
  4. If you’re worried about too much shade in your garden area, plant dwarf trees rather than full-size trees.
  5. All heirloom plants are open pollinated, but not all open pollinated plants are heirloom.
  6. Try more than one variety of each vegetable to see what gives you the best results.
  7. Calorie crops, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, use much less space than grains.
  8. For survival, study what the poorest farmers in third world countries grow: Sorghum, peanuts, and chickpeas are three such crops.
  9. Another good book for those living in harsh desert climates is Extreme Gardening by David Owens.
  10. High quality tools are a must. Keep a bucket filled with sand and a bit of motor oil mixed in to clean off dirty gardening tools.
  11. Solarize your garden area to get rid of weeds a few weeks before planting season. Clear out weeds or scalp mow your garden beds. Moisten the ground well, and cover with a large sheet of clear plastic. Weight the plastic down around the edges with rocks or bricks. Weed seeds will germinate, but the heat will kill them. Leave the plastic sheet on for 6-8 weeks. This will reduce the rate of weed seed germination by 60-80%.
  12. A wire mesh trash can is good for sifting compost.
  13. Test the germination rate of your seeds yourself. Place ten seeds on a wet cloth. Cover and wait ten days. If eight seeds have sprouted, your germination rate is 80%. If only 5 have sprouted, the rate is 50%, and so on.
  14. Store seeds in the refrigerator in an airtight container. “Frost free” will draw moisture from seeds.
  15. It isn’t legal to save seeds that have been patented.
  16. Heat and moisture are enemies of seeds. The seeds may sprout, but they won’t grow anything. Stored properly, some seeds can last 5-10 years, but most will last just 2-3 years. Younger seeds will grow better.
  17. Mail order companies are best when it comes to buying seeds because they store their seeds in optimal conditions.
  18. Just because a nursery is selling certain plants does not mean that particular variety grows well in your area.  They are selling what they know people will buy.
  19. Never work the soil when it is wet or very dry and have your soil tested so you will know what additives it needs.
  20. Recyling your kitchen waste by adding it to a compost pile is great but won’t necessarily result in balanced soil.
  21. Transplant when it’s either a cloudy day or at dusk.
  22. Plan your garden so you’re planting for a staggered harvest. Otherwise, you may be harvesting tons of zucchini, for example, during a single week and then have to wait several more weeks for another zucchini harvest.
  23. Don’t water at night, and be sure to water the soil, not the leaves.
  24. Consider using gray water or water from rain barrels. Drip hoses are good for raised beds.
  25. A couple tablespoons of oil or a teaspoon of soap in a rain barrel will prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs.
  26. The best pest control is the eyes and hands of the gardener. Use soapy water to get rid of many types of pests.  (Don’t use a soap that contains citrus oils/ingredients.) Planting marigolds in the vegetable garden is another way to deter pests.
  27. Another of her favorite books, The Edible Ornamental Garden by John E. Bryan and Gardening When it Counts by Steve Solomon.

Originally published June 13, 2011.

27 Tips from a Master Gardener via The Survival Mom

8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

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survival food
I’ll never forget my first, official order for survival food. My friend,  Chrystalyn, was a pro at this, and she guided me through a bewildering order form with products and container sizes I didn’t recognize.
A #10 can? What was that?
A #2.5 can? Is that what I need or is the #10 size better?
What is wheat germade and will my kids eat what I’m buying since it’s not in name-brand cans?

Survival Food Ordering Made Easy

If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have ordered wheat germade at all and would have ordered far more #2.5 cans of cocoa! Yes, we prefer brownies to hot cereal!

From years of experience, I pass on to you a few simple ways to determine what to order from survival food companies, such as Augason Farms, Thrive Life, and Emergency Essentials.

My 8 Tips For Placing Your First Survival Food Order

1. What produce do you use most often in the kitchen? Jot down the fruits and vegetables that you typically buy at the grocery store. Those will be the best choices for your early purchases, since you know they won’t go to waste, and you use recipes that incorporate them.
2. What are a few of your favorite recipes? It’s a good idea to stock up on those ingredients. Example: a hearty pasta and sausage dinner recipe. You could buy sausage crumbles, Italian herbs, dehydrated onions, freeze dried mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, and macaroni. Of course you can use some of those same ingredients in other recipes, and that versatility is great.
3. Consider the staples you use most often: sugar, baking powder, herbs, etc. and then compare the food company’s prices to what you typically pay at a grocery store. Keep in mind that these products will be packaged for long term storage unlike those purchased at grocery stores. That is a big bonus. When we moved to a humid environment, several of my cardboard containers of salt were ruined.
TIP: Which size should you choose when shopping for these foods? Here is a link to my complete answer to that question.
4. Keep in mind the importance of snacks. My kids love the yogurt bites in all the various flavors. Perhaps order a few snack items in either the pouch or #2.5 can sizes to try these out. The smaller containers are also good for emergency kits.
5. Do you have some just-add-water meals for emergencies or power outages? Each company has their own varieties to try out. Make sure you give them a taste test, though, before buying in large containers or quantities. They’re lightweight, nutritious, and if you can manage to boil 3 or 4 cups of water, you have a meal in about 15 minutes.
6. When it comes to the various types of meat and poultry, which do you use most often? Prioritize those and then buy smaller containers of the ones you tend to buy and use most frequently. Give them a try in some of your recipes. If you really like the flavor, texture, and convenience, then you’ll know what to stock up on. As always, customize this to your preferences and the recipes you make most often.
7. You’ll need some meal-stretchers, such as rice, small pasta, certain grains, and beans. I like this category because these foods are versatile on their own, but then, when added to a casserole or soup, they help provide many more servings, as well as more nutrition and fiber.
8. Stock up on ingredients for soup. You may not make soup very often, but it’s an ideal recipe for survival scenarios. The concept is simple (start with a broth of some kind) and then add whatever is handy. Have a balance of veggies, proteins, and grains, and you’re good to go.