Frost-Tolerant Vegetables You Should Be Planting Right Now

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6 Frost-Tolerant Vegetables You Should Be Planting Right Now

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During early spring, the urge to get out in the garden and start planting almost becomes overwhelming.

Stores are stocking up on gardening tools, and seeds are luring me in with the promise of a bountiful harvest. I take full advantage of the warmer climate where I live. But if you live up north you may be hesitant, knowing winter may still throw a few frosty nights at you.

Go ahead and get your gardening gloves out; you can avoid pre-season garden blues by planting frost-resistant plants this spring.

Here are a few ideas:

1. Peas

Snow peas, snap peas or other varieties are easy-to-grow veggies that do well in early spring. With their large seeds, they’re perfect for even the smallest hands to plant. Useful for getting restless kids (and grandkids) out of the house and into the yard, peas do well in early spring – even with a late frost. They’ll grow as vines or bushes, and can take up to 65 days to mature. Plant more than you think you’ll need – the harvest seems to disappear with these easy-to-reap veggies that are loved by both grown-ups and kids alike.

2. Spinach

Baby spinach is a quick sprouting addition to an early spring garden. You can harvest in as little as three weeks, giving you small, tender leaves to use in salads and cooking.

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Spinach is frost-resistant, but seems to thrive when grown under cover, so consider using a garden cover the first few weeks after planting. To help prevent loss from frost, plant spinach close together and harvest early. Plant a few varieties to have an assortment of greens from which to choose.

3. Chard

6 Frost-Tolerant Vegetables You Should Be Planting Right Now

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Another type of green that grows well in early spring, chard gives your garden a sneak peek at the bursts of color that warm weather brings. For a beautiful display, add yellow, red or white varieties to your planting rows. Sow seeds close together, and then harvest young growth to thin the seedlings. Some chard is available for harvest within 25 days, while others can be grown longer to reach full size. Use chard fresh, toss some into a blender for a nutritious smoothie addition, or cook leaves for a delicious addition to soups.

4. Beets

Beets thrive with cooler weather, and seem to do best before the ground heats up. You can plant beets up to a month before the last frost. This prevents their roots from becoming woody, and it gives them a sweet taste. Beets mature in 60 days and should be approximately two inches wide at harvest. Plant seeds three to four inches apart for optimal growth. Their lovely greens add bright stripes of green to your garden.

5. Carrots

Perfect for locations with heavy soil, carrots take longer than most vegetables to germinate. Sow carrot seeds directly in the soil, but plant more than you will need, because germination is spotty. Get them in the ground up to a month before the last frost, and then thin out the seedlings when you start to see leaves appearing. This is another fun plant to send your kids out to harvest, but don’t be surprised at their abnormal shapes. Depending on your soil, it can split the roots and produce funny-looking carrots that taste delicious!

6. Lettuce

Lettuce can be hard to germinate, so for best results, start some indoors and then transplant seedlings in early spring. They can be moved to your garden up to six weeks before the last frost. Sow additional seeds around the transplants for succession plants, giving you a season-long supply of lettuce. Cover the seeds with a light soil. Harvest leaves when there are enough on the plant for continued plant growth.

Don’t let the fear of frost keep you from getting a head start on your garden. Use cool weather-friendly plants to ease into spring, and enjoy the tender produce your garden will grow before hot weather sets in.

What frost-tolerant or frost-resistant plants would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Seed-Storage Tips You Won’t Learn At The Big Box Store

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Seed-Storage Tips You Won’t Learn At The Big Box Store

Image source: Jacki Andre

 

It’s here! It’s spring! It’s time to start breaking out the seeds!

If you’re like me, you probably spent at least some time this winter browsing through seed catalogs, creating wish lists, and making scale drawings of your garden to make sure that you have space to grow everything you want to. But before you buy seeds and start planting, it’s a good idea to take stock of your existing seeds and make a plan. Which seeds need to be started indoors, and which ones should be sown directly? When should they be planted? Are the seeds you saved from last year viable?

Taking Stock: Stored Seeds

Start by looking for seeds that you have stored away. I, for one, am bad at figuring out how many seeds I need and I usually have a lot left over after planting. You might be surprised at how many seeds you already have on hand — and using those up could provide a nifty little cost savings.

Testing the Germination Rate

If you’re using stored seeds, start with a germination test. Simply put, you want to figure out if the seeds will sprout. Seeds don’t have an expiration date, but many do lose their viability after awhile. If only a small percentage of your stored seeds sprout, you don’t want to waste time planting them and waiting for them to come up.

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Seed-Storage Tips You Won’t Learn At The Big Box StoreIt’s simple to figure out the germination rate. Layer a few paper towels and thoroughly moisten them. Space out ten seeds of any one cultivar on the wet paper towel and then fold it up so that the seeds are covered. Place the folded paper towel in a clear plastic zip-top bag. Keep the bag in a warm, bright spot. Check on it every few days to make sure the paper towel is still moist and to see if any seeds have sprouted. It can take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks for the seeds to sprout.

If 9 out of 10 seeds sprout, that’s a 90 percent germination rate, and those seeds are good to plant. If you get a 50 percent germination rate, you can still plant the seeds, but you might want to sow twice as many as recommended (such as four squash seeds to a hill instead of two) to make up for the ones that won’t sprout. If the germination rate is very low, it’s better to source different seeds.

Starting Indoors vs. Direct Sowing

Some seeds need to be started indoors, or their produce just won’t be ready to harvest prior to fall frosts. Other seeds do best if sown directly into the garden. Still others can be started indoors or sown directly. It’s a good idea to start by sorting your seeds into three separate piles: “indoors,” “outdoors” and “either.” Once you know where to sow them, the next step is to figure out when.

Determining Planting Dates

Your last frost date is the key to figuring out when to plant. There are a number of interactive calculators online that indicate your exact last frost date, such as this one at The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

Next, read the seed packets or do some online research to find out how long before the last frost date the seeds should be planted. Then count backward from your last frost day to determine the best dates to plant each variety.

Tips for Organizing Seeds

Seed-Storage Tips You Won’t Learn At The Big Box StoreA simple seed organization system takes only a few minutes to create, but you’ll be able to use it for years to come. Remember that whichever organization system you use, seeds should be stored in a cool, dark, dry location, which has little temperature fluctuation.

Charts/Tables

One of the simplest tricks is just to make a written list of the seeds you usually sow and their planting dates.

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The list can be stored with your seeds in a shoebox or large zip-top bag for future reference.

Seed File Box

My own favorite seed storage idea is to use a small box as a filing system. Each file divider indicates the planting date, whether the seeds should be sown indoors or outdoors, and a list of seeds that should be planted on each date. That way, it’s quick and easy to determine if I have all the seeds I need for each round of planting.

Seed Journal/Book

My mom used a photo album with plastic sleeves to store her seed packets. Using an album with an area for notes is genius, because you can jot notes about each seed variety beside the packet to keep track of germination rate, planting locations, yields, etc. The album can be organized in any way you choose, but I do like the idea of sticking to planting dates so that by flipping through the album, you sequentially see which seeds to plant next.

Do you have tips for organizing seeds for spring planting? If so, please share in the comments below.

DIY Seed Tape: The Fast, Easy Project That Saves Time And Money

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DIY Seed Tape: The Fast, Easy Project That Saves Time And Money

Photo: Jacki Andre

I don’t know who invented seed tape, but that person deserves a gold star. If you’re not familiar with it, seed tape is tissue-thin biodegradable paper, usually about an inch wide, that has seeds embedded in it.

There are several benefits to using seed tape:

  • The seeds are optimally spaced for plant growth so that you don’t need to thin.
  • No thinning means less waste.
  • No thinning means less work.
  • It’s easier to plant tiny dark seeds since you won’t accidentally pinch extras out of the package, nor lose them in the soil, being unsure how many you actually sowed.

There are two downsides to using seed tape (or wanting to use it). There is a limited selection of vegetables — and varieties — that are available. Commonly, carrots, radishes, beets, and some salad greens (like lettuce and spinach) can be purchased in seed tape.

Need Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

DIY Seed Tape: The Fast, Easy Project That Saves Time And Money

Photo: Jacki Andre

The other downside is cost. Naturally, since additional materials and work are needed to create seed tape, it’s pricier than loose seeds. For example, a well-known seed company has radish seeds listed for $5. But the tape with the radish seeds is $7 for roughly 22 inches of tape; and you’re getting only one-fourth the number of seeds!

But you can make your own seed tape for pennies. And you can use any seeds that you want. It’s a super-fast, easy, cheap and practical project.

There are lots of websites with directions on how to make seed tape. I relied heavily on the tutorial at learningandyearning.com.

Start by gathering your supplies together. You need:

  • Seeds.
  • Toilet paper (unbleached is best).
  • Flour & water to make a paste.
  • Measuring tape or ruler.
  • Toothpicks.
  • Marker or pen (optional).

Make the flour paste by mixing flour and warm water together in approximately equal parts. The paste should be thick and goopy. Adjust the flour or water if needed to achieve the right consistency.

DIY Seed Tape: The Fast, Easy Project That Saves Time And Money

Photo: Jacki Andre

Tear off strips of toilet paper. My kitchen table is about three feet across, so that’s how long I made my strips. Your own strips can be as long as you like. Keep in mind the row length in your own garden. I have raised beds with eight-foot rows. It would have made more sense to make seed tape in four-foot lengths, but I worked with what I had.

Fold the toilet paper in half lengthwise. The purpose is to make a straight seam down the middle to use as a guide, so press the seam firmly and then reopen the toilet paper.

Read the directions on the seed packet to find out the optimal distance between plants. Ignore the part where it suggests seed spacing, as this is often considerably smaller than plant spacing.

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You can use a pen or marker to indicate where the seeds should be placed. Marking dots is a good idea if you’re using a small ruler that you need to frequently move. If you’re using a yardstick or measuring tape, though, it’s faster and easier to just leave the measuring device on top of the toilet paper and plop the seeds down in their appropriate spots. Note: The seeds should be placed in the center of one side of the toilet paper.

DIY Seed Tape: The Fast, Easy Project That Saves Time And Money

Photo: Jacki Andre

Dump your seeds onto a light-colored surface. The tutorial I read suggested using a sheet of paper, but you don’t have to worry about seeds rolling away if you use something with a lipped edge, like a dinner plate.

Dip a toothpick into the flour paste and then use the gluey tip to pick up one seed. Transfer the seed to its spot on the toilet paper. Once your length of toilet paper has the correct number of seeds, put small goops of paste here and there on the toilet paper to act as a sealant. Then fold the toilet paper together and press. That’s it. Voilà. You have seed tape.

Once the glue is well-dried, roll or fold the tape and store it in a Ziploc bag. Whether you label the bag or not, I suggest sticking the seed packet in there for future reference.

I made about 24 feet of seed tape in less than half an hour, and that included gathering together all my supplies and taking photos. Once you get set up, you should be able to churn out the seed tape quickly.

When it’s time to plant, just make a neat furrow to the depth indicated on the seed packet and place the seed tape into the furrow. After you cover it with soil, all you have left to do is wait for your perfectly spaced plants to pop up.

Have you ever made or used seed tape? Share your tips in the section below:

5 Questions You Better Ask Before Buying Garden Seeds

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5 Questions You Better Ask Before Buying Garden Seeds

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Those of us who raise our own vegetables know it involves more than simply sowing spring seeds and reaping the delicious rewards at harvesttime. One of the many gardening tasks which requires thoughtful research and attention is purchasing seeds. If you are contemplating your garden for this season, following are six questions worth consideration.

1. How long do seeds last?

The reason this question should be asked first is because you need to know if last year’s leftover seeds will suffice. The answer varies greatly, depending upon the particular vegetable. Overall, seed longevity is improved by storage in a cool dry place, out of direct light.

Some seeds can be expected to germinate well after having been stored for up to 10 years, most notably those of wheat, sorghum, rice and other grains.

Other types of long-lasting seeds include those in the brassica family—broccoli, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi and Brussels sprouts—which can last about five years. More types of seeds with a longevity of four to five years include cucurbits—cucumbers, pumpkins, squash and some melons—as well as radishes, turnips, celery, Swiss chard, beets and lettuce.

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Depending upon the source of information and the specific cultivar, spinach may be among the longer-lived seeds or among those which last just a year or two, but it has lasted quite well in my personal experience.

The seeds in the nightshade family vary. Eggplant can last up to five years, tomatoes four, and peppers only two.

The midrange seeds—those which last about three years—include beans, peas and carrots.

Some sources say leeks can last up to three years, as well, and other sources place it in the shorter-lived category with its allium relatives such as onions.

In addition to onions and possibly leeks, other short-lived vegetable seeds which can be expected to last only one or two years include corn, okra, parsley, peanuts, salsify and parsnips.

Keep in mind that there are few hard and fast rules about how long each seed might last. The best thing to do is to give them a try, bearing in mind that the older the seeds and the shorter the general viability, the less likely they are to germinate. But there is no harm in trying.

The ideal way to try questionable seeds is to start them indoors well ahead of time and be prepared to replace them with new ones if they do not germinate. If your situation does not allow you that much wiggle room, buy new seeds.

2. How early should they be started indoors?

The type of seeds, your climate, and your growing conditions all play huge roles in figuring out how early to start them.

The absolute best advice here is to follow the directions on the seed packet, in the seed catalog from which you purchased the seeds, or from the greenhouse or retailer who marketed them.

Some seeds allow a great deal of timing latitude. Others do not. One of the most important things to consider is the needs of the plant as it grows and fruits. For example, does it need intense sun to thrive, or will heat cause it to bolt? Does it need long day lengths, or a long-growing season, or warm overnights, or plenty of rain? The timing of what your plant needs should dictate the timing of your seed starting.

5 Questions You Better Ask Before Buying Garden Seeds

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Long-day onions, for example, will form proper bulbs only when there are 15 or more hours of daylight. Since summer day length increases further from the equator, these types of onions are best grown in northern climates. And since the days are longest in late June, onions need to be ready to set bulbs by then. Onions need to be started before most other seeds—as early as March in some regions.

Other vegetables are typically started indoors in order to make sure they fruit before frost. Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are sensitive even to a light frost, and are usually started indoors well ahead of time. Many types of squashes, cucumbers and melons need to reach their growing peak during the height of summer sun, as well.

With other vegetables, the key factor is growing them early to avoid the heat of summer. Lettuce, spinach, peas and broccoli thrive best in cool conditions, which is why they are planted very early—either started indoors or directly sowed in cold soil—ensuring they will have served their purpose before succumbing to heat.

3. Start them at home or buy seedlings?

Many gardeners do some of both. Economy of scale is a primary factor. The cost per seedling is certainly higher from a greenhouse than starting one’s own, but buying them already started can sometimes be a better value. If a gardener is planning just a tiny plot with a few vegetables, it hardly seems worth the trouble and expense of buying potting materials and running heat lamps, or even buying the packets of seeds. (Then again, it is more fun to plant them indoors.)

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On the other hand, the cost of buying flats of seedlings adds up quickly, and paying someone else to start an entire garden full of vegetables can be an expensive proposition.

Another thing to consider is whether you will be able to find the cultivar you want already started. You may not be able to find specialty items at a commercial greenhouse.

It makes sense to start some of the seeds you’ll use the most of and the specialty varieties you want, and plan to purchase a few flats of additional seedlings when planting time comes.

4. How much is enough?

It is way too easy to get carried away when buying seeds! Perusing the pages of seed catalogs during winter makes gardeners want to buy more seeds than can realistically be managed, in the same way that people load up their buffet plates with more food than they can possibly eat.

5 Questions You Better Ask Before Buying Garden Seeds

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One way to control the temptation to buy one of everything is to choose one or two areas in which to splurge. Pick a couple of favorite vegetables and go wild with cultivars—six kinds of eggplants or four varieties of butternut squash, for example—and commit to restraint with everything else.

Another idea is to allow one new cultivar in each category each season in exchange for discontinuing one from last year, thereby keeping the total volume within reason while still enjoying new items and replacing choices that proved less successful.

Good record-keeping is an excellent way to determine how much is enough and rein in overspending. Annotating seed purchases, garden yields, and the preserved food volumes enables a gardener to figure out whether increases or cutbacks are in order. If most of last year’s pumpkins landed on the compost heap and there are still canned green beans from three years ago, consider planting less of those vegetables and delegate the space to something else this year.

5. Open-pollinated versus hybrid?

Open-pollinated seeds are those which can be replicated at home. In other words, the seeds produced by your open-pollinated vegetables can be dried, saved and planted next year, and the result will be the same vegetable as this year.

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Hybrid seeds are genetic mutations. They very often produce a higher quality vegetable out of the seed packet, having been developed for specific purposes such as disease-resistance or drought tolerance or higher sugar content or better productivity. But the seeds from this year’s vegetables will not produce identical offspring next year.

If you are a seed-saver, open-pollinated is a must.  If you are not, then it is OK to choose your seeds based upon other factors.

Lest it seem that the act of buying seeds for the upcoming season is too overwhelming, do not be discouraged. Most gardeners miss the mark on at least one of these questions some of the time, and many gardeners spend a lifetime striving for perfection. The important thing to remember are the reasons for gardening in the first place: the opportunity to be self-sustaining, the reward of choosing your own food—and more than anything, the enjoyment of it all.

What are your most important questions when purchasing seeds? Share your advice in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

15 Slow-Growing Seeds Smart Gardeners Start In March

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15 Slow-Growing Seeds Smart Gardeners Start In March

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Is it spring yet?! As the days stretch out longer, and temperatures become increasingly mild, we start to feel the tug of the garden.

Many areas are still experiencing frost in March, but most of us can start planting seeds. Whether or not you can go ahead and start seeds depends on a number of factors, including your hardiness zone, your last frost date, which seeds you aim to plant, and whether you intend to start your seeds indoors or out.

Determine Your Last Frost Date

Your last frost date is important. It will help determine when to plant your various seeds. While information specific to our hardiness zones gives us a rough idea of our last frost date, it’s best to use an interactive calculator, like this one at The Old Farmer’s Almanac for a more exact date.

Sort Your Seeds

There are basically three types of seeds: 1) those best sowed directly into your garden; 2) those that can be sowed directly or started indoors; and, 3) those that most people should start indoors. Start by sorting your seeds into these three groups.

Seeds to Sow Directly

For a variety of reasons, some seeds do best when sowed directly into the ground. Some don’t transplant well. Others are cool-weather crops that can handle light frost and flourish in cooler temperatures.

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If you have any of the seeds listed below, pull them out and put them aside:

  • Beans
  • Beets
  • Dill
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Corn
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radishes
  • Rutabaga
  • Turnips
  • Leafy greens, including lettuces, arugula, kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, chard

15 Seeds That Should Be Started In March

Some seeds must be started indoors in most parts of the country — otherwise their fruit may not come to maturity before fall frosts. If you have any of the seeds listed below, pull them out and make a second pile:

1. Basil

2. Broccoli

3. Cauliflower

4. Celery

5. Eggplant

6. Kohlrabi

7. Mint

8. Oregano

9. Peppers

10. Tomatoes

Seeds That Can Be Started Indoors or Out

While some seeds do perfectly fine when sowed directly into your garden, you also can start them indoors in order to get a jump on the growing season. It’s great to be able to enjoy some vegetables earlier in the summer. Plus, you also can stagger your planting by putting out transplants at the same time as directly sowing seeds of the same variety, so that your harvest lasts for several weeks.

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On the flip side, it can get daunting to find enough space, lighting, and time to look after large numbers of seedlings. Plus, don’t forget that you’ll need to haul your seed flats in and out for a little while, too, to harden off your seedlings before transplanting. Consider how many seedlings you must start indoors, plus the pros and cons listed, in order to decide whether to start any of these seeds indoors, too:

11. Cabbage

12. Cucumbers

13. Melons

14. Parsley

15. Squash – summer and winter, including zucchini

Determine Planting Dates for Indoor Seeds

Now that you know which seeds to start indoors, the next step is figuring out when to do it. Using the information on the seed packages, count backward from your last frost date to determine when to start your seeds. For example, some vegetables, such as broccoli, should be started 10 weeks prior to the last frost date. Cherry tomatoes should be started nine weeks prior, and full-size tomatoes eight weeks prior.

Have you started seeds indoors yet? When do you start them? Share your gardening and growing tips in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist

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Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist Forrest & Kyle “The Prepping Academy” Audio in player below! The “The Prepping Academy” and talking all things gardening. There’s not a single good reason anyone could give for not building a seed bank. In the eventuality of a grid down scenario, or even unemployment, a seed bank could be life saving. … Continue reading Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist

The post Gardening for Preppers and Survivalist appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

The Dirt-Cheap, Frugal Way To Start Seeds

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The Dirt-Cheap & Frugal Way To Start Seeds

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It’s easy to go overboard when shopping for seed supplies. Not only is it exciting to start growing things again, but there are so many tempting products. If you’re not careful, starting seeds can become surprisingly expensive. But with a little planning, you can get your hands on everything you need at a low cost — or even for free.

Containers

Reusing, repurposing and making your own planting containers is one of the easiest ways to pinch pennies.

If you don’t mind transplanting your seedlings, all kinds of plastic food containers can be repurposed into pots: yogurt cups, cheese tubs, milk jugs, water/juice/soda bottles, plastic clamshell containers from purchased fruit and vegetables, or K-Cup coffee pods. Soft plastic containers have an advantage — when you’re transplanting, you can squeeze the soil and seedlings out, without worrying about injuring the seedlings or their roots.

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However, if don’t want to mess around with a bunch of different-sized pots (which can be a headache as far as positioning your grow lights), you can make seed flats out of larger containers. Foil containers with clear plastic lids are especially useful, because they will create a greenhouse-type effect. Rotisserie chicken trays, frozen cake pans, or trays from the deli section, used for family-sized meals like lasagna, work well.

If you prefer biodegradable pots so that you can avoid transplanting, there are free options for those, too. It’s easy enough to cut toilet paper/paper towel/wrapping paper tubes down to peat-pot size. You don’t really need a bottom on these. Paper egg cartons provide excellent individual seed pots, too — just cut the cups apart when you’re ready to plant. Or, if you’re looking for a project on a blustery winter day, you can fashion pots out of newspaper. There are lots of online tutorials with instructions. All you need is newspaper, a glass or small mason jar to roll the paper around, and tape.

Potting Mix

The Dirt-Cheap & Frugal Way To Start Seeds

Image source: Pixabay.com

The next step, of course, is filling your pots with a planting medium. While bringing in garden soil might be the cheapest option, this is the one item that you really should spend money on (one bag goes a long way). Garden soil might contain insects, weed seeds, or pathogens, and it’s likely too heavy and dense to have good aeration and drainage. If you really want to use garden soil, you should sterilize it by baking in your oven, and then amend it by mixing one part soil with one part peat moss and one part perlite or coarse builder’s sand.

You also can make your own soilless mix, which costs more than amending garden soil, but is still cheaper than buying the premixed stuff. A basic recipe is to mix together one part perlite with one part peat moss and one part ground sphagnum moss. Another recipe, posted at The Prairie Homestead, is to mix two parts coconut coir with one part perlite and one part sifted compost.

Seeds

The last essential product you need to start seeds is, well, seeds. If you don’t already save your own seeds from year to year, you might want to plan for that this season. If you buy seeds, you might have extras lying around that you didn’t plant in years past. It’s always best to test the viability of old seeds before planting them. The germination rate of seeds decreases over time.

The All-Natural Fertilizer That Doubles Your Garden Yield!

It’s easy to test the viability of seeds. Simply moisten a couple of layers of paper towels, and space out about 10 seeds of any one variety. Roll or fold up the paper towel and place in a plastic bag. Keep the bag in a warm, bright spot, and make sure the paper towel stays moist until the testing is done, which might take up to two weeks, depending on the type of seeds. Check every few days to see if any seeds have sprouted. If at least some sprout, it’s worth planting them — but make sure to plant extras to make up for the ones that won’t germinate.

Seed Tape

One last tip: if you love seed tape as much as I do, you can pinch pennies by making your own. All you need is toilet paper, homemade flour and water paste, and seeds. There are several online tutorials about how to make seed tape, and it’s another great project for a blustery winter day.

Gardening is already a frugal way to feed your family, but you can stretch your food dollars even further by starting seeds at an extremely low cost.

Do you have any more tips on how to save money while starting seeds? Share your secrets in the comments below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

9 Clever Ways To Jump Start Your Garden During Winter

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9 Clever Ways To Jump Start Your Garden During Winter

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While garden season may seem a lifetime away when you’re hauling wood and shoveling snow mid-winter, there are many things you can be doing now to ensure a healthy, productive garden in the coming season.

1. Collect wood ash

Wood ash, used in moderate amounts, makes excellent garden fertilizer. The ash is comprised of non-combustible minerals that the tree took out of the soil to fuel its metabolism. Those concentrated nutrients can go back onto your garden soil or into your compost to give both a boost. Wood ash can impact soil pH, so use in moderation.

2. Browse seed catalogs

Real gardening starts with mid-winter dreaming. Browsing seed and nursery catalogs early can help ensure that you’re organized and prepared in the spring. It also can build a good bit of excitement to keep your mood up until the warm weather comes back. Try something new this year and consider planting varieties you’ve never even heard of.

3. Start a worm compost bin

Compost bins tend to stall in the winter as the cold temperatures slow down micro-organisms from decomposing your food scraps into nutrient-rich fertilizer. An indoor worm compost bin is an easy way to keep your compost going all year to ensure you have an ample supply to start seeds in the early spring.

4. Research new methods

Have you heard of permaculture? Back to Eden gardening? Hydroponics? Tomato grafting? Small scale mushroom farming?

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There are all sorts of innovative gardening and food production techniques that go well beyond just planting a few novelty tomatoes in a raised bed. Use the winter to research new methods to keep your mind sharp and your garden fresh and exciting.

5. Build cold frames

Winter is a great time to build a few cold frames either to get your garden started earlier in the spring, or to extend the season later into the fall. Cold frames are like mini-greenhouses that insulate a small area or growing bed from the mild conditions of the “shoulder seasons” or spring and fall. If you get started assembling a few now, they’ll be ready to be set out with greens by late winter, giving you a heads start on the gardening season.

6. Start long-season seeds

9 Clever Ways To Jump Start Your Garden During Winter

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While most garden crops, such as tomatoes, need to be started just six weeks before the last expected frost date, there are others that will need to be started as early as mid-winter if you expect to have a full harvest. Leeks and onions need to be started from seed indoors as much as 10-12 weeks before the last spring frost. Early cold weather crops that you’ll want to plant and hope to harvest before the mid-summer heat, such as broccoli, also might need to be planted well before your other seeds.

7. Trim or cut shading trees

Most annual garden crops need full sun to produce full crops in a single summer season. Winter is a great time to prune back branches to ensure that your garden beds are getting as much sun as possible.  With the trees dormant, winter trimming will do the least damage to them in the long term. Winter also is a great time to cut down trees. With the soil frozen and leaves gone, cleanup will be much easier.

8. Plan a root cellar

If it’s mid-winter and you’re desperately missing your garden produce, perhaps take this time to plan ahead for next year to ensure that your garden provides for you a bit longer. Root cellars don’t need to be complicated affairs involving lots of land or heavy equipment for digging. Even a cold closet on the north side of your house can keep storage squash in prime condition all winter long. Evaluate the space you have and determine if you can convert part of your basement to cold storage, or in warmer areas, perhaps a buried cooler or refrigerator just outside the back door will be sufficient to keep things cool.

9. Force perennials indoors

Consider planning ahead to force perennials indoors. Rhubarb and asparagus roots are some of the simplest plants to dig in late fall or early winter and store in cool moist soil in a basement or back closet until you’re ready to give them an early start. Planted in buckets and brought into a warm room in the house, both rhubarb and asparagus can provide a dependable indoor harvest over a few weeks, even in January.

How do you jump start your garden? Share your tips in the section below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Survival Seeds From Hometown Seeds

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Hometown SeedsHere at Surviving Prepper we prefer to minimize the number of affiliate ads that we allow on our site. Too many ads distract the reader from the content of the posts, and content is important to us. So, if you see an ad on our page it means that we believe the product is worthy of your time and your consideration. Hometown Seeds (and their survival seeds pack) is one of those companies/products that we think is worth talking about.

In a SHTF situation you’ll need a stockpile of ready to eat food. But, stockpiles run out. They’re only meant to get you through the aftermath of an emergency. For long term living, you need a garden. And Hometown Seeds sells all sorts of seeds to plant in your garden. Viable, fresh, non-hybrid heirloom seeds.

Heirloom Seeds vs. Hybridized Seeds

Heirloom plants are called “heirlooms” because they are the varieties that have been around for a long time. They are the plants that your great-grandparents probably grew. Heirloom plants are open-pollinated, and can be re-grown from seeds saved from generation to generation while retaining their flavor, appearance, and resistance to disease. The heirloom cucumbers and tomatoes and peppers that you grow and love will have seeds that will provide the same quality produce the next year, and the year after that, all the way down the line for as many years as you save their seeds. These are not plants that have been optimized for commercial planting, ease of corporate farming harvest, and efficient distribution packaging. This is real food. It looks different, and almost always tastes better.

Why non-hybrid seeds? Because hybridized seeds don’t “come true to seed,” which means that the veggie babies won’t likely look or taste much like their parents. If you want to minimize the potential for ugly surprises come harvest time, avoid store-bought, hybridized seeds. Seed Savers Exchange explains this better than I can in the following excerpt:

…commercially available hybridized seed, often labeled as F1, is deliberately created to breed a desired trait. The first generation of a hybridized plant cross also tends to grow better and produce higher yields than the parent varieties due to a phenomenon called ‘hybrid vigor’. However, any seed produced by F1 plants is genetically unstable and cannot be saved for use in following years. Not only will the plants not be true-to-type, but they will be considerably less vigorous. Gardeners who use hybrid plant varieties must purchase new seed every year.

So, when you plant seeds from hybridized plants, you never really know what you’ll get. There is a risk that you will end up with smaller plants that are less resistance to disease and have lesser yields; none of which is good when you’re trying to rebuild your world after societal and infrastructure collapse. Better to go with tried-and-true heirloom seeds instead.

 

 

Family Survival Seed Pack

The Family Survival Seed Pack – Non-Hybrid Heirloom Seeds

With around 20,000 seeds, this pack comes in a resealable triple-layered Mylar bag. Detailed instructions on how and when to grow the seeds. A small resealable plastic bag for each type of seed. Below is the list and amount of seeds in the pack.

  • Black Beauty Zucchini (appx. 110 seeds)
  • Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach (appx. 890 seeds)
  • Champion Radish (appx. 895 seeds)
  • Detroit Dark Red Beets (appx. 535 seeds)
  • Golden Acre Cabbage (appx. 2,500 seeds)
  • Golden Bantam Sweet Corn (appx. 480 seeds)
  • Lincoln Peas (appx. 325 seeds)
  • Long Green Improved Cucumber (appx. 360 seeds)
  • Lucullus Swiss Chard (appx. 465 seeds)
  • Provider Bush Bean (appx.235 seeds)
  • Romaine Paris Island Cos Lettuce (appx. 2,500 seeds)
  • Rutgers Tomato (appx. 1,800 seeds)
  • Scarlet Nantes Carrots (appx. 6,800 seeds)
  • Waltham Butternut Winter Squash (appx. 70 seeds)
  • Yellow Sweet Spanish Onion (appx. 2,850 seeds)
  • Yolo Wonder Pepper (appx. 250 seeds)

Hometown Seeds Information

Hometown Seeds’ Family Survival Seed Pack includes enough seeds to cover 3/4 of an acre, and sells for $30. The seeds can be planted as soon as this year, or put away and stashed for as long as twenty-plus years before planting. Hometown seeds is a great company–a family own business–that provides the highest quality seeds at a fair price. They guarantee their product and have exceptional customer service. Take a few moments and check out Hometown Seeds’ Survival Seeds today.

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Edible Greens In Only 10 Days? Yep — And You Can Do It Indoors

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Edible Greens In Only 10 Days? Yep -- And You Can Do It Indoors

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During winter when it’s cold and dreary, you might be in need of something fresh and bright to remind you spring will come sooner than you think. Why not grow microgreens indoors?

Microgreens are the new shoots of a vegetable plant. They are tender, sweet and incredibly healthy – so much that newly sprouted microgreens have up to 40 times the amount of nutrients that their mature counterparts do.

Microgreens are delicious in the winter for salads and sandwiches. The best part about them is that they sprout fast and are easy to grow, so you will always have fresh greens available to you and you can proudly say you grew them yourself.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • Seeds. You can use almost any vegetable seed for this, but a lot of companies offer microgreen seed mixes that are a fantastic option for first-time indoor growers. If you don’t want to use a pre-made mix, then options such as cilantro, kale, radishes, basil or beets are usually great options.
  • Soil. The best bet for this is a seed-starting medium, but any potting soil will most likely work as long as it doesn’t have chemical fertilizers. Many local groceries carry organic varieties, too.
  • Trays or containers. Some gardeners use the seed-starting trays available at local garden centers, but really any tray or container will work. The microgreens won’t stay in the containers very long.
  • Lighting. You can use either a natural or artificial source for this. If you have a large window, then you can simply place the tray under the window and you’re all set; however, if that’s not available, then a florescent light source will provide the same benefit.

First Steps

Fill the trays with soil. Plants will be in the trays for about 10-12 days, so they won’t develop a deep root system and therefore you don’t need a lot of soil. About two inches of soil should be sufficient.

Microgreens: The Best-Kept Secret In Indoor Gardening…

Next, spread the seeds over the tray. Unlike traditional gardening, you don’t need to worry about giving the plants space because they won’t be in the tray long enough to develop roots. It’s a good idea to spread a pretty thick coat of seeds.

Sprinkle soil over the seeds, being careful not to bury them too deep; a light cover of soil is sufficient. Then, water your seeds. You don’t want to drown your seeds, although the soil should be quite wet.

Place the trays in light. Spray the soil with water a couple of times a day.

Harvest Them

Depending on what you planted, you might see sprouts in a few days or up to a week. Beginning at about day 10, you can harvest your plants – but it’s really up to you when to do it.

Harvest them by either clipping them with sharp scissors or by pulling the plants out of the soil and rinsing them. If you are going to use the latter route, then make sure the plants are dry so they don’t rip or tear; to do this, stop watering the plants a day or so before you’re ready to harvest.

Once you have your system down, you will be able to grow multiple varieties of microgreens year-round. Enjoy!

Have you ever grown microgreens? What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

Are You Making These Common, Avoidable Gardening Mistakes? Read More Here.

Possibly The Best NON-GMO Heirloom Seed Package Available

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Possibly The Best NON-GMO Heirloom Seed Package Available The seeds guy’s 60 Variety Heirloom Seed package has 26,000 Seeds, Non GMO, and has varieties included that will grow well for you in your Spring and Fall Garden. This would make a great Christmas Present for that someone special that Loves to Garden. Price is just …

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24 Ways to Prepare for Your Spring Garden in the Dead of Winter

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prepare-spring-garden-in-winterIt 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.

Fall Preparation

Before it freezes (or at least quickly after the first frost):

1. Remove and discard diseased parts of plants. But not into the compost! (If you put them into the compost, the weeds could sprout up wherever you use the compost later.

2. Mulch over any plants that might be susceptible to the cold (about 8″ deep), including over-wintering vegetables such as carrots, so they are still alive in the spring.

3. Make sure all beds are composted or mulched. A compost pail with a charcoal filter will allow you to start your compost stash inside the house while controlling odors until you can empty it outdoors.

4. Clean up, maintain, and properly store garden tools and equipment. Note any that need replaced. If you need a new set of good quality hand tools like the ones in this kit, add it to your Christmas list!

5. If any garden tools need significant repairs, take them in to be fixed.

6. Start a wish-list of gifts you would like. The holidays are approaching!

Planning for next spring

7. Order seed catalogs. There are multiple good companies, so go ahead and order a few. You may be surprised by what you find, and really good catalogs will have your mouth watering and you itching to start digging in the dirt. A couple of my own favorites are Seeds of Change and Baker Creek.

Remember: if you want to save the seeds from the plants to grow new plants in the future, you almost certainly will want heirloom varieties.

8. Decide if you want to use cold frames or another technique to extend your growing season. Plan and build accordingly, if you want to go for it.

9. Start diagramming/planning what you want where. Once you have a very general plan – vegetable garden, herb garden, annuals, perennials, bushes, and trees planned out – it’s time to start getting more specific. A journal specifically designed for gardeners will give you room to plan your garden, journal your efforts, and then make notes about what worked and what didn’t.

10. Check the viability and test germination of any seeds you have on hand.

11. When planning, start with the plants that take the longest to mature and will be there for the longest – the trees. Next come bushes, then perennials including any perennial herbs, annuals including vegetables, and finally any potted plants.

The last would be plants that can’t survive in your area that you really want. In my case, I have some potted chamomile and an aloe plant that I bring in during the winter. Other people have lemon trees, but it could be almost anything.

12. Ask these questions for trees, bushes, perennials, and annuals:

  • Do you want to plant any new ones?
  • What kind?
  • How will planting these affect other plants you’ll put nearby? If you put in a tree that gets very wide, so you probably won’t want to plant bushes or anything long-lasting near it, but annual flowers could do great and provide a nice pop of color!
  • Are there any other plants that cannot coexist with it?
  • What plants do really well with it?
  • Where do you want them on your lot? You may realize that you want a vegetable garden near the driveway, but you need some bushes between it and your teenage driver.

13. Start picking out what you want! I think this is the most fun. I can totally lose myself in seed catalogs.

Guidance on Picking Plants

14. Decide what you are looking for, and why. I like unusual varieties of common plants, like yellow carrots or banana melons. You might prefer more traditional orange carrots. This article with advice from a master gardener may help you make these decisions.

15. Do you want to involve your kids? My youngest loves picking out plants. It makes him crazy-happy to pick out, plant, nurture, and (sometimes) eat plants. There are areas in the garden with nothing planned so he can put whatever makes him happy. And yes, sometimes he decides on a spot I know or that makes me a bit crazy, but it still goes there unless I have a really good reason not to – like it’s right exactly where the mower will kill it.

16. Don’t forget to check which grow zone you live in. Your county or state extension service might have more detailed information available, or ask at a local nursery, to get the best information.

17. If you plant an herb garden, be sure to check which weeds are considered weeds or pests in your area. I planted lemon balm, which can go crazy, but I made sure to plant it where the driveway, a brick walk, and the house formed three sides, containing it a bit. (It’s apparently a member of the mint family, and they all grow like crazy pretty easily.) Yarrow is also considered a weed, but not invasive like lemon balm. So, to me, as a not-so-active-gardener, that just means yarrow will be harder for my chronic neglect to kill.

18. Think about what you actually use and eat. I planted about 8 oregano plants a few years ago and they grew great – but I rarely use oregano in my cooking. I love the smell of lavender and it’s a slight bug repellant, so I have planted a bunch of that around the house. I am interested in herbal remedies, so I planted yarrow, several kinds of mint and chamomile. The last two are potted. One, so it doesn’t spread and take over everything, the other because it can’t survive a winter outside in our climate.

19. Use kitchen leftovers to start new plants. Since you’ve already eaten them, you know these are veggies you’ll like. Growing pineapples this way is easy, too.

Steps to Take Mid-Winter

20. Consider the weather – is it an unusually cold or snowy winter? Is it mild? If it is mild, then you probably don’t need to do anything extra to your plants, but if it is a really cold or snowy year, you might want to protect your plants better. Last year, I lost almost all of the strawberry plants that I had nurtured from a few starts over the previous four years! A layer of mulch over top of them would have kept the cold out and the plants alive, even though they didn’t need it in previous warmer winters.

21. Take advantage of the increased visibility from all the plants dying or being dormant and take a good look at your grounds. Are there areas of erosion? If so, you have a project for spring and can start researching and planning how to best fix it.

22. Can you see roots damaging walls, foundations, pathways, or anything else? Don’t forget to check the area near the septic field and the well. In the spring, have a professional take care of any problematic roots. Research a good tree service and ask for referrals from friends and neighbors.

23. Where does the snow and ice melt first and where does it last? That gives you an idea of what spots naturally receive more sunlight or less sunlight. Of course, the micro-climate(s) in your yard will be a little different when the trees have leaves and as the angles of the sun change, but this will give you a starting point.

24. It’s finally time to start planting, even with the ground frozen rock-hard. Start your hardy (early season) plants indoors. In four to six weeks, you can put them in the ground and start the next group of plants inside. A Grow Zone map can  help you determine what to plant and when, as the weather begins to warm up.

Hopefully these tips will help you and your family get excited for your garden for next summer and you’ll have a great growing season!

Enjoy the process and the produce!

This article was updated on November 17, 2016.

PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food

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PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food Bobby Akart “Prepping For Tomorrow” Audio in player below! The process of gardening is the result of more than tilling, planting,  weeding and harvesting. It is also the result of preparedness to overcome challenges such as location, pests and other unforeseen complications like unusual weather. Imagine the pressure a prepper will … Continue reading PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food

The post PREPPER SUPPLIES: Growing Your Own Food appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

Landrace Gardening: The Forgotten (And Better Way) Your Ancestors Grew Vegetables

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Landrace Gardening: The Forgotten (And Better Way) Your Ancestors Grew Vegetables

Farming food for the homestead is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process, and you can’t afford to get it wrong.

The truth, though, is that every region has its own challenges to which those plants may not be perfectly adapted.

The solution? Annually selecting and saving seeds to breed a locally adapted landrace for the crops you want to grow can significantly increase your yields. This traditional method for growing food – used by our ancestors — establishes better food security and easier production. Plants that are adapted for the local growing season, local sunlight and precipitation patterns, and local pest and disease resistance will produce more food.

The seeds for landrace gardening come from the “survival of the fittest” – that is, the best-producing individual plants which also possess other desired qualities (like a good flavor!).  Landrace varieties are adapted to thrive in a very local region; in fact, they’ll do best on the property where they are developed.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds To Start Your Landrace Garden? Get Them From A Company You Can Trust!

Developing the landrace variety takes a few generations, but is well worth the effort. Follow these steps to start the process of breeding locally adapted landrace crops:

1. Plant several varieties of a crop close to one another. This ensures genetic diversity among the plants that grow, which will make a more sustainable landrace variety. Seeds from neighbors, if you can get any, already will be partially adapted, so plant them if you can.

2. Do not pamper your plants, but offer them mainly benign neglect. The plants that fare best despite weeds, local pests, and dry, wet, hot, or cold spells are the ones you want the most. The more you care for the plants, the harder it becomes to see which are really the fittest. That being said, some equal-opportunity watering or weeding to ensure you have a yield in early years is not a problem.

Landrace Gardening: The Forgotten (And Better Way) Your Ancestors Grew Vegetables3. Eat your fruits and vegetables and save seeds from the best plants. Make notes of why they were chosen and what the conditions were in your garden. Save seeds from multiple plants to preserve a variety of adaptations.

Seamazing: The Low-Cost Way To Re-mineralize Your Soil

4. Maintain the genetic diversity of your plants in the following year by planting saved seeds alongside seeds from other sources. Even after landrace gardening is well-established, maintaining the garden in this way can ensure you don’t wind up with a single-allele crop (i.e. no diversity) which could result in a total crop failure if conditions change.

5. Continue to plant and save seeds yearly and update your records. It is crucial to understand the process by which you develop your landrace varieties, in case you need to go back a step and add the genetics of a different variety into the mix.

There’s a bit of the scientific method in landrace gardening, but don’t get intimidated. Continuous experimentation and careful selection will mean a sustainable future for your food crops. Within two to three years you will begin to notice the hardiness, resistance and productivity of your locally adapted varieties. Your garden will be easier to tend and will produce more. How can you argue with that?

What advice would you add on landrace gardening? Share your ideas in the section below:

Every Year, Gardeners Make This Stupid Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

11 Late-Summer, Quick-Growing Vegetables You Gotta Plant NOW To Beat The Frost

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11 Late-Summer, Quick-Growing Vegetables You Gotta Plant NOW To Beat The Frost

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If spring and early summer somehow slipped past without you getting all the vegetables planted that you wanted to, you are not alone. Life happens on its own schedule, and when one of the kids takes sick or the boss needs you to work overtime during planting season, it can interfere with your high hopes and well-laid plans.

But take heart—it is not too late. Depending on your growing zone and how many days you have left before frost, there are up to 11 vegetables you can still plant, from seed, and eat this season.

Where I live in Zone 4, we usually expect our first frost about the third week of September. That means I can plant all eleven of the following vegetable choices right up until late July.

If you have 60 or more days left of your growing season, you can plant the following:

1. Radishes. Almost all cultivars of radish can be grown in under 60 days. Most of them mature in half that time. Summer radishes are great plain, on salads, and braised in a buttery syrup. Even winter storage and daikon types are generally 60 days or less.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

2. Kale. This healthful favorite can be grown to full maturity in 60 to 75 days, depending on your conditions and the specific cultivar. From salads and stews to smoothies and sautes, nothing beats fresh-from-the-garden kale.

3. Peas. Mid-to-late summer is the perfect time to plant peas for a fall crop. They do not like high heat, and planting now will allow them to grow in relatively cool conditions. Most varieties are ready to harvest at between 50 and 60 days. Eaten in or out of the shell, peas are a wonderful addition to any meal.

11 Late-Summer, Quick-Growing Vegetables You Gotta Plant NOW To Beat The Frost

Image source: Pixabay.com

4. Cucumbers. Many cucumber cultivars reach maturity from seed in 60 days or less. Cukes vary widely, from as few as 49 days to nearly 70. There is at least one cultivar in each type—pickling, slicing, beit-alpha, and Asian—with a short growing season. Plant now for that one last cucumber sandwich before the first fall frost!

5. Summer squashes. There is a delightful array of zucchini, yellow and patty pan squashes that can be grown in a very short time. Some cultivars reach harvestable size in an astonishing 40 days. The culinary delights of summer squashes are practically limitless!

6. Carrots. Many varieties of summer carrots reach maturity in under 60 days. Short and round, long and skinny, thick and blunt—there are some short season cultivars in every shape. Storage carrots can take a little longer, some up to 85 days, so be sure to read the packet or catalog information.

7. Beets. This amazingly diverse vegetable can produce delicious edible greens in just over a month, and can reach full maturity in well under 60 days. I thin early beets and use the tiny pulled seedlings on salads and wraps. Later, the larger greens are great cooked and topped with butter. Mature beets are excellent pickled, pan-fried, or in baked goods. Most beet cultivars are harvestable in under 60 days, including classic reds, striped Chioggia types, and mellow golds.

11 Late-Summer, Quick-Growing Vegetables You Gotta Plant NOW To Beat The Frost

Image source: Pixabay.com

8. Swiss chard. This hardy vegetable is able to be harvested as tender baby greens in as little as four weeks after harvest and reaches full maturity in under 60 days. Beautiful and delicious, chard comes in a rainbow of colors from greens and yellows to reds and golds, packs a powerful nutritional punch, and will make you glad you planted it right now.

9. Non-heading broccoli. Sometimes called “broccolini,” this fast-growing brassica variety is ready for harvest in under 60 days. The entire plant—flowers, stalks, and even leaves—can be enjoyed raw, steamed or stir-fried.

10. Beans. Most bush beans meant for fresh eating, such as green beans, wax beans and haricot verts, are ready for harvest in 60 days or less. If planting pole beans instead, check the package—a few can be grown in a short season, but pole beans often require a medium-to-long season. Perfect for fresh eating, pickling, salads, steaming and roasting, easy-to-grow beans are an excellent last-minute choice for getting the most out of your backyard garden.

11. Greens. Almost all greens are mature in less than 60 days. Spinach, depending on the particular cultivar and growing conditions, is ready in as little as a month. Lettuces take a little longer. Asian greens such as Chinese cabbage, mizuna and mustard greens, and pac choy range from six to eight weeks to maturity. Collard greens take a little longer to fully mature, but as with any greens can be picked and eaten earlier if preferred, or if needed to beat an early frost.

An additional bonus with kale, spinach and a few other greens is that they will survive frosts, to some extent. They will not continue to grow afterwards, but will remain viable in the garden, making them able to be planted and harvested even later.

As you can see, there is still plenty of opportunity this season to grow a nice selection of tasty nutritious vegetables for fresh eating and preserving. It is time to dig out those seed packets and get ready for late-summer bounty.

What vegetables would you add to our list? Share your suggestions below:

Bust Inflation With A Low-Cost, High-Production Garden. Read More Here.

Grow Epic Tomatoes!

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Grow Epic Tomatoes! Karen Lynn “Lil Suburban Homestead” Karen Lynn a professed “tomato” addict once titled herself the “Tomato Queen” on the boards at various homesteading sites but realized she could grow a prolific amount of tomatoes but has always felt like she could do more if she had more tomato knowledge.  Former co-host of … Continue reading Grow Epic Tomatoes!

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Prepper Project: 3 Ways To Make Seed Bombs

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SVP seed bombsI don’t know about you, dear reader, but I really hate those barren vacant lots on city streets or on the side of the roads, you know what I am talking about? Every single time I pass by these urban wastelands, I fantasize about planting a garden there, in one of those blank lots.

However, in this day and age, I bet it would be against the law and I’d end up raided by SWAT teams, under suspicion of aesthetic terrorism or discrimination against urban decay. Ok, I may sound a little bit dramatic; it’s just for the artistic impression.

Regardless, empty lots are a common problem these days, and plant transplants will end up costing you an arm and a leg if you want to really make a difference.

Enter the latest seed-bomb technology, just for you, the new Captain Planet, the Eco-warrior. Seed bombs are a cheaper alternative compared to buying plant transplants, and as organic and natural as Mother Earth.

The Anatomy of a Seed Bomb

Make no mistake: the bomb particle in a seed bomb has nothing to do with terrorism. This is a bomb that, once “detonated”, will bring peace and harmony, fresh air, beauty, life, the whole nine yards. If I may use a metaphor, the seed bomb can be described as the weapon of choice for urban guerrilla gardeners, as it gets the job done in two shakes of a lamb’s tale.

A seed bomb is fast, precise and laser-accurate! Okay, now that I’ve got your undivided attention, do you know what a seed bomb is? Let’s begin with the seed, which in itself is an amazing thing, as it contains the key that makes life on Earth possible and livable.

The vast majority of plant seeds will require next to nothing for germinating/giving birth to a new plant. In most cases, all a seed will ever need is to get buried in moist soil, safe from direct sunshine or dehydrating winds, and away from predators, insects, or animals that would eat it  instantly…yes, it’s a hard job being a successful plant seed.

Nature mitigates these survival problems by spreading the earth with a huge number of plant seeds, as becoming a plant from a seed is a very risky business.

But there is another way, and that’s where the seed bomb comes into play. Using a seed bomb, you’re basically hiding the plant seeds inside of a ball made from an absorbent material, usually a mix of soil/compost and clay. As the ball dries and its shell turns hard, it becomes very easy to spread the respective balls (these are seed bombs actually) on the barren area you wish to bring back to life. The hard shell of the seed bomb keeps the predators away until the planting time is near.

When the right time arrives, i.e. when it starts raining, the hard coating of the seed bomb will soak up with moisture, releasing its “cargo” (the actual seeds) onto the ground and providing a protective layer which holds the moisture near the seed, helping it germinate and develop into seedlings and then into a new plant. This is an elegant and beautiful concept, don’t you think?

However, this is not a new idea – pretty far from it. Seed bombs were used traditionally by many Native American tribes for protecting their planted corn kernels from predatory birds and drought. About 40 years ago, a Japanese gardener invented clay seed balls as an efficient way for planting his next crop of veggies and grains, but without disturbing what was left from the previous crop.

Seed bombs are the perfect way for planting all types of seed in places that are not very easy to take close care of, such as roadside strips, meadows or stream banks.

Also, seed bombs are a great method for planting grains or veggies without tilling or digging the soil, or for adding patches of color in already established gardens, without disturbing the plants that are already there.

If you’re a free range chicken-farmer, seed bombs will help your newly planted seeds to survive the chicken attack, and, as a plus, seed bombs are really fun to manufacture and to use, especially for kids.

guerilla gardening

Now, let’s see about the DIY part of the deal, i.e. how to make your own seed bombs.

Seed Bomb Recipe 1

Ingredients:

  • five parts pottery clay mix, available at your local art store,
  • two parts potting soil,
  • 1-2 parts seeds (whatever you desire),
  • 1-2 parts water,
  • a big tub for mixing the ingredients,
  • a big box for drying/storing the seed bombs.

Instructions: blend the clay, the soil and one part of water together thoroughly and stir vigorously, removing lumps. Add more water slowly, until the mixture has the proper consistency. It should be just like canned molding clay you buy in the store.

In the next step, you put the seeds into the mix and keep kneading until the seeds are mixed in well; if necessary, add more water.

Now it’s the time for building the bombs by taking small amounts of the mixture and rolling them to form a ball about 1 inch in diameter. If the balls tend to crumble, i.e. they don’t hold together easily, just add more water.

Let the seed bombs dry for one or two days in a shady location before storing or seeding them, for example put them inside a cardboard box, but never in plastic containers. They need the open air to dry or else they’ll mold.

After they are dried, you can place them/toss them on your desired location, but remember, don’t add water and don’t bury them. The rest is up to Mother Nature.

Seed Bomb Recipe 2

Ingredients:

  • seeds of your choice,
  • colored paper torn into pieces (3 pages for example, orange, pink and red),
  • two cups of water,
  • a silicone mold if you don’t want to use your hands,
  • 2-3 pages of newspaper torn into pieces, a strainer,
  • blender.

Instructions: All the paper must be torn up and the pieces put inside the blender. Add two cups of water into the blender and blend, baby, blend, until everything turns to mush!

Place the strainer over a small receptacle and pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. The filtered “pulp” will be scooped out of the strainer and mixed with the seeds; this is basically the raw material for your seed bombs.

The raw material must be gently mixed and the excess water squeezed out, using the mold or your hands for making the same 1 inch-diameter ball as described in the first recipe.

In the final step, use a paper towel for pressing gently on every seed bomb, to soak any excessive moisture. You want to prevent the seed bomb from germinating prematurely; that would be bad. Now, allow your seed bombs to dry for two days and you’re ready to go. It’s best to store these seed bombs inside paper bags, remember that folks.

Or watch below for the video version about making the perfect tools for guerrilla gardeners and a great way for propagating seeds on a large scale or in not-so-rich soils!

Video first seen on Emilie Lefler.

Seed Bomb Recipe 3

Ingredients:

  • seeds,
  • sawdust,
  • natural glue,
  • seaweed extract.

Instructions: Mix one part seeds with five parts sawdust, and add some natural glue to the mix (read my previous article about glue here) along with a little bit of seaweed extract. The mix shouldn’t be too wet, or too dry, but just moist enough to form and keep a ball shape.

Allow the seed bombs to dry out thoroughly for at least a day, by placing them on a sheet of newspaper for example, laid out in your shed or something similar.

Remember to consider the habitat when you’re in the process of selecting the seeds, i.e. do you desire seeds that will build a brand-new habitat or you want to add some variety inside your garden?

Good luck, and have fun folks in your prepping!

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This article has been written by Chris Black on Survivopedia.

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How to Save Carrot Seed

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Save Carrot Seed Like a Pro

Here’s a great video from Seed Savers Exchange that will answer all of your questions about how to save carrot seed.  Dr. John Navazio is a veteran organic seed saver, with a PhD in plant breeding from the University of Wisconsin.

Here he shows you the different stages of seed maturity in carrot flowers (or umbels).  The videography is great and you really get a good visual example to know when the seed is ready to take.

As you’ll see, the only tools you’ll need for this task are two hands and a cookie sheet.  John has some really nice screens for separating the seed from the burrs and dust, but you can manage just fine without those.

Cleaning Your Carrot Seed

When you save carrot seed, the hardest part is usually separating the seeds from the rest of the drying plant.  You don’t want to store all of the dust and debris from the dead flower.  And if you’ve ever handled carrot seed, you know that we’re talking about some really tiny bits and pieces.

In this video, John uses screens to separate the seeds from the dust and dead plant matter.  That’s a great approach, but many of us don’t have a set of screens for this purpose.

One alternative is to keep rubbing and blowing the seeds, as shown in this video – indefinitely, until the seeds are separated enough for storage.  Using an electric fan to blow away the dust is another popular technique.  With tiny seeds like these, you won’t want to put your work directly in front of the fan, but arrange it somewhat to the side of the fan, so that you only get a gentle breeze to blow away the dust and crumbling leaf bits.

Storing Saved Carrot Seeds

All of the carrot seeds in the world won’t help you if you can’t find them next season at planting time.  Check out this helpful video Marjory made to show you how she stores her saved seeds: Organizing Your Seed Collection with Marjory Wildcraft.

organic-seed-alliance-seed-saving-guide


Thanks to John Navazio and the Seed Savers Exchange Heritage Farm for producing and sharing this helpful video.

The post How to Save Carrot Seed appeared first on The Grow Network.

The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet

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The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet Everyone knows that growing your own food is the best way to save money on groceries…but few stop to consider how expensive it can be to get started with a garden. There’s a lot more to it than just dumping a handful of seeds into a hole …

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The post The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Must-Do Spring Gardening Preps You May Have Forgotten

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Must-Do Spring Gardening Preps You May Have Forgotten

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If you live south of a certain latitude, your garden is already in the ground and your growing season is underway. Many of us up north, however, are still digging out from a winter’s worth of snow and ice. Planting even cold-hardy crops such as peas and spinach might require a drill or chisel to loosen the topsoil, if we could get to it at all.

Even if you can’t get your hands in the dirt quite yet, there are plenty of things you can – and should – be doing right now.

In order to hit the ground running when spring does arrive in your region, it is a great idea to have all your planning, decision-making, inventorying, purchasing, preparing, repair and maintenance jobs done. Here are a few details to help you set up your own to-do list to maximize your pre-season readiness.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

Envision this year’s garden. Many gardeners add on, rearrange and tweak the layout every year. I usually draw it out on paper. Some of the things I try to keep in mind in this endeavor include:

  • Can it be easily accessed when needed? Some people keep a “kitchen garden” near the house which contains often-used plants such as herbs, lettuces and cherry tomatoes, so they can run out and grab what they need for meal preparation.
  • Try to keep the plants most appealing to hungry wildlife in spots least accessible to them, or in areas you are most able to protect. When planning the vegetables for my plots furthest from the house, I try to avoid deer favorites. When planting corn, I make sure it is in a location near one of my fence chargers – that way I can electrify the fence when the corn is ready for harvest and prevent raccoons from beating me to it. Crops that attract ravenous flying pests need to be placed in an area conducive to netting or row cover.
  • Remember the needs of pollinators. Include plants that will draw them in without causing discomfort to you or others enjoying the garden.
  • Consider companion planting. Certain plants do better in close proximity to others. For example, the combination of beans, corn and squash is often said to be desirable.
  • Think about soil depth and composition. Plants that need more acidity will not do well in the section where you have discarded wood stove ashes, and a very long root crop such as parsnip will need deep, rock-free soil for proper growth.
  • Try to move things around year-to-year. Different families of vegetables use different soil nutrients and leave the rest. Placing tomatoes or rutabagas in the same spot year after year could result in diminished yield or quality.

Once your plan is in place, buy the seeds you need. Do not procrastinate on this point. Many seed catalogs sell out early, particularly the smaller and local ones. If you have not ordered your seed packets, do it right away. If the ones you want are already sold out, do not despair. High-quality local seed selections are often available for resale at small commercial greenhouses.

Order Your Spring Seed Catalog Right Here!

Remember that some of your vegetables should be planted from seed and other varieties need to be started ahead of time indoors or in greenhouses. Some can be done either way, depending upon your local conditions and personal preference. Know which is which and be ready for implementation. You can start your own seeds, or buy them all started from a greenhouse.

Must-Do Spring Gardening Preps You May Have Forgotten

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you do plan to start your own, remember that leeks and long-day-length onions should have already been started in February or March for the best possible yields. Other vegetables can be started now or later in spring.

Inventory your supplies. If you are starting your own seeds, make sure you have all the plug trays and soil you need. Check out your lights, bulbs and mats, and repair or replace as needed.

If you use row cover, plastic mulch, greenhouse plastic, landscape fabric or any other materials which are reusable but do not last forever, take a look at your collection right now. If there are rips you forgot about or if you discover mice did damage to it over the winter, you will want to replenish your supply early while there is still a good selection available in stores.

If you are still waiting for the ground to thaw, now is a terrific time to get your garden tools out and look them over. Sharpen, repair and replace as necessary.

If you are able to access your gardens at this point, get busy outside.

  • Clean out leaves and debris.
  • Do soil testing if you did not do so last fall. Many people prefer fall testing so that any amendments can be made ahead of time, but a spring test is better than no test.
  • Add compost and amendments as needed.
  • Repair raised beds and garden structures as necessary.
  • Get fences, posts and climbing trellises in good working order.
  • Shore up greenhouse and tunnel structures. Tighten tubing, replace plastic coverings and ensure heating and cooling components are ready to go for the season.

Few undertakings are more rewarding than growing your own food, but every climate has its particular challenges and advantages. If you want to grow vegetables but live up north, do not let that slow you down. Get organized, stocked up and busy now for a wonderful harvest season down the road.

What would you add to this list? Share your ideas in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Did You Choose The Proper Seeds For Planting?

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SVP choosing seeds for planting

Planting fruits, vegetables, and herbs is easy – you just toss some seeds into some dirt, add water, and wait for them to grow, right?

Well, in the most basic ways, yes. But if you want to grow quality plants and preserve your seeds long-term, you need to put a little more effort into finding quality seeds.

A tomato seed is a tomato seed, right? Wrong. It’s a good thing you’re reading this article! There are different types of plants, thus different types of seeds, and which type you choose will drastically affect the quality of future generations of plants.

Here’s how to make the smart choice for growing healthy crops!

You Need to Know the Types of Seeds

GMO Seeds

GMO stands for genetically modified organism. What it means is that scientists take a standard seed or seeds and add organisms to the DNA strands of the plant. They may do this to make the plant more resistant to disease, or to make it grow denser is smaller space. Regardless of why it’s modified, the seeds from these plants may not sprout, or thrive even if they do.

Hybrid Seeds

These seeds have been made by pollinating one strain of plant with a different strain of plant. This is usually done to create hardier plants or plants with the best features of each parent plant. By doing this, hopefully, you’ll get the results that you want.

However, future generations of seeds are unstable. It’s sort of like breeding “boutique” dog breeds. For instance, a puggle is a cross between a pug and a beagle. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not making fun of this breed because I have one that sleeps with me every night. I’m just saying that, even though he’s adorable, the mix was unreliable.

He could have been born looking like a pug with spots, super long ears and a long, straight tail, or he could have been born looking like a beagle with a curly tail and a long snout. There are a million variations that could have happened, and you can see that for yourself just by searching “puggle”. And even by breeding him to another puggle, there’s no telling what the puppies would look like.

Anyway, you get the idea about why hybrid seeds may not be the best way to go if you’re going to store seeds for survival.

Organic Seeds

Don’t let the name fool you. The term “organic” simply means that the seeds were obtained from plants that were grown using natural methods. That’s it. They may still be hybrids or from GMO plants.

Heirlooms

These are seeds that have been handed down from generation to generation. They’re going to grow the same type of plant and produce the same type of fruit each season and the yields will be similar, given similar growing circumstances.

heirloom seeds

The only warning that I have about heirloom seeds is that you should make sure that the seeds will grow to crop in whatever area you intend to bunker down in.

Open Pollinated Seeds

These are seeds from plants that have been grown and allowed to be pollinated as nature intended – by local birds, wind, etc. They’re more genetically diverse, which allows plants to slowly and naturally adapt to local growing conditions. As long as the pollen isn’t shared between different varieties of the same  species of plants, these seeds will remain true-to-form every year.

How to Test the Quality of Seeds

This may be putting the cart before the horse if you’re storing your own seeds butt many new growers overlook a critical step in planting crops – making sure the seeds will germinate. If you’re planting seeds to grow food for survival, you could starve to death waiting for the seeds that you plant to grow.

Fortunately, it’s easy to tell if a batch of seeds is going to grow. There are a few germination tests that you can use instead of just tossing the seeds in the ground and hoping for the best.

Water Test

Maybe you’ve found a really good deal on a batch of seeds at a trading event or even a yard sale, but will they grow? Toss them in a glass of water and wait a few minutes. If the seeds sink, they’re good. If they float, they’re not.

Test Germination Run

Put at least 10 seeds from a single batch onto one half of a paper towel then fold the other half of the towel over the seeds. Spray it down with enough water to moisten the towel. It may be helpful to spritz it with a 1:10 bleach to water ratio to keep them from molding.

Place them in the baggie and only partially seal it so that air can still get in. Label the bag and start a record with the date and how many  seeds were started. Store it in a warm, dark place and dampen the towel as necessary to keep it from going dry. Within a couple of days, you should start to see germination.

Note daily how many seeds either germinate or mold and remove those seeds from the bag. All seeds will germinate within 14 days if they’re going to.

Now, divide how many seeds germinated by how many seeds you started with and you have a pretty good idea of the germination ratio of your batch. Even if only half of them germinate, but they do it quickly, you may want to just plant twice the seeds instead of tossing the batch. If the germination ratio was low and they germinated slowly, you may just want to toss them.

Now that you’ve found some great seeds that you know will grow where you need them to, you need to store them.

Preparing Seeds for Storage

This is an extremely important step in storing seeds so that they don’t go bad, but it’s fairly simple.

First, you need to decide if your seeds will germinate if you dry them. Seeds that can be dried are called desiccation-tolerant. Most garden plants fall into this category and can dried and stored long-term.  Desiccation-intolerant plants produce seeds that won’t germinate if dried, but they can still be stored short-term. Some seeds, such as citrus seeds, are semi-tolerant which means that you can dry them but that they lose viability quickly and germinate slowly once they’re dried.

Preparing Desiccation-Tolerant Seeds for Storage

These seeds are great for storing dried because during natural the ripening and drying process, they’re preparing to go dormant. Most of their physiological processes slow down or stop altogether and they convert food reserves from sugars to fats and starches.

As a matter of fact, many seeds REQUIRE drying and a dormancy period before they can ripen, go dormant, and germinate again. Dry your seeds slowly and thoroughly using the sun (if you’re in a low-humidity area) or a low-humidity, airy environment such as your air conditioned counter. You want the relative humidity to be between 30-40%.

Spread them on a tray or baking sheet 1 or 2 seeds deep. Most seeds should be dry in 1-2 weeks though larger ones will take a bit longer. You don’t want them to be zero moisture, but they should be hard. For instance, corn should be dry enough to require a hammer to break it and squash seeds will break instead of bend.

Preparing Desiccation-Intolerant Seeds for Storage

You can store these seeds for up to several months with some seeds by keeping them in cool, moist condition. Put them in a container with damp material such as peat moss or damp paper towels. Choose a container that allows at least some airflow (poke holes in the lid or leave the lid loose).They have to continue the respiration process to remain viable.

Store in the fridge but don’t let them dry out or freeze. Plant them ASAP because they will eventually mold or rot.

What About Storing Seeds?

If stored properly, seeds can last for years. To remain viable in storage, seeds need a proper temperature and moisture level. If there’s too much moisture and enough warmth, seeds will germinate; not exactly what we’re looking for!

Here are some tips:

  • Keep the seeds out of light. They should be stored in a dark place or in opaque containers.
  • Store in waterproof (actually, moisture-proof container. Tossing in an oxygen absorber in will help, especially if you’re in an area that has an average of greater than 30% relative humidity.
  • Store in an airtight container. Mylar bags are great, but baggies, mason jars or Tupperware containers will work, too.
  • Keep seeds cool – under 40 degrees F and avoid fluctuations of temperature.
  • Rotate your seeds on a first-in-first-out basis just like you do the rest of your supplies.
  • Always, always, always perform a germination test before you plant your seeds.

If your seeds sweat inside the container, you haven’t dried them enough and need to take them out immediately and finish drying them before they mold.

That’s what you need to know to make a smart choice about your planting. And believe me, you will need this knowledge, because things are going to get from bad to worse about our food independence! CLICK on the banner below to find out more!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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3 Surefire, Guaranteed Ways To Keep Weeds Out Of This Year’s Garden

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3 Surefire, Guaranteed Ways To Keep Weeds Out Of This Year's Garden

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Ask any gardener what their least favorite part of gardening is, and most likely weeding will be near the top of the list. Not only can weeding be a back-breaking and monotonous chore, but it’s also a task that is never really complete.

You can dedicate hours and days to weeding the garden, but if you let a few weeks or a month pass, chances are you’ll have a whole new flush of weeds to deal with. It can be tempting to throw in the towel and let the weeds do their thing. If you do that, chances are you’ll still see a few of the flowers you planted, and be able to harvest a handful or two of cherry tomatoes despite the weeds. However, weeding the garden on a regular basis will improve your plants’ health and productivity, in addition to making the garden a more pleasant place to enjoy and spend time.

Weeds, we should note, are simply misplaced plants. Say, for instance, you really like dandelion greens. You decide to grow only dandelions in your garden this year and will spend the season weeding out everything other than the dandelions. Your neighbor, on the other hand, will most likely spend his season weeding the dandelions out of his garden to make room for the tomatoes and peppers he loves to grow. While productive gardens can support a bit of weed pressure and still produce beautiful plants, the general rule is that your garden will be more productive and experience less disease and pest pressure if you keep the weeds in check.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds For Your Garden? The Best Deals Are Right Here!

A single weed can produce as many as 250,000 seeds. For this reason, it is important to stay on top of weeding. If you ignore the weeds and allow them to go to seed, you are essentially creating more work for yourself in the upcoming years. Once those seeds fall to the soil, they can remain dormant for years, waiting for a chance to sprout as another weed for you to deal with in the future. Therefore, in addition to staying on top of the current weeds in the garden, it can be beneficial to prevent weeds from sprouting in the first place.

3 Surefire, Guaranteed Ways To Keep Weeds Out Of This Year's Garden

Image source: Pixabay.com

The following is a short list of preventative measures you can take to keep weeds out of your garden:

  1. Don’t let weeds go to seed. As mentioned above, allowing your weeds to go to seed is creating more work in the future. Additionally, young weeds are much easier to deal with than those that have reached maturity.
  2. Use natural or synthetic mulch to decrease weed pressure. Natural mulch options include weed-free straw (some straw itself can contain lots of weed seed), grass clippings, finely chipped wood, and partially decomposed leaves. Synthetic mulch options include landscape fabric (best for ornamental and perennial gardens) and biodegradable black plastic mulch, which will decompose over the course of the growing season.
  3. Solarize the soil. Cover your prepared garden bed with clear or black plastic for about a month to kill weed seeds in the top few inches of soil. You can remove the plastic when you are ready to plant and reuse it in a different area of the garden.

Having the right tools is another necessity in the battle against weeds.

Seamazing: The Low-Cost Way To Re-Mineralize Your Soil

A few key cultivating tools in the garden shed can do wonders in dealing with weeds. If you are able to find the right tool for the job, and maintain it and keep it sharp, weeding can even become fun and relaxing! There are a number of tools available to gardeners for weeding purposes, and I recommend trying or borrowing a few different varieties before investing in your own.

You want to find something that you are comfortable using; otherwise, weeding will continue to be a chore and more likely to be put off too long. I personally recommend using a hand cultivator when you are weeding close to plants (for more control and precision) and a hula or stirrup hoe in larger areas or pathways.

With the right mindset, effective preventative measures, and a few high quality and well-maintained garden tools, you will be well on your way to a healthy, productive and weed-free garden.

What advice would you add on keeping weeds out of the garden? Share your thoughts in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Simple Seed Germination Test at Home

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Germination Test for Saved Seeds

Sometimes we save seeds with the best intentions, and then we fall short on the follow through – by not planting those seeds when the next season rolls around.  A simple germination test can tell you whether or not those seeds are still worth planting.

I know there are plenty of orphaned seeds like this in the seed collection at our house.  Sometimes they’re seeds that we just forgot to start.  Sometimes they’re the remnants of a project from a previous season.  Sometimes they’re seeds that we just forgot to label, so we don’t really know what variety they are or what year they were grown.

However you ended up with questionable seeds, there’s an easy method you can use at home to find out just how viable those seeds are.

Want to start saving your seeds?  The [Grow] Network offers an online training course with everything you need to know.  Learn more here: Seed Saving Training Expedition

Testing Your Old Seeds

The testing method is simple.  You wrap up a random sampling of the questionable seeds in a wet paper towel, place the paper towel inside a plastic container, keep it out of direct light, and wait. The test should last as long as it usually takes good, new seed to germinate.  So, if you normally expect tomato seeds to germinate in 5-10 days – your test for old tomato seeds should be 10 days long.

As the seeds begin to germinate, you check the seeds daily and keep a running scorecard.  Record the number of seeds that germinate successfully, and the number of seeds that fail or mold.  Each time a seed germinates or molds, remove it from the test (take it off of the paper towel).  At the end of the test, determine the percentage of seeds that germinated successfully, and extrapolate that percentage to the total number of seeds you have.

Here is a guide, with pictures, from the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange: How to Test Germination

And here is a more detailed approach from the Seed Savers Exchange: Home Germination Testing

For starting seeds in trays – this test should help inform your decisions about how many seeds you need to start.  For direct-seeding – this test should help you determine how densely to seed your garden bed.

You should do your test in the same conditions you plan to have when you start the seed.  So if you’ll be starting lettuce seeds in cool conditions – run your test in those same conditions.  If you’re testing peppers that will be started in warmer conditions – make your test conditions warmer too.

Keep in mind that you need to do this test before it’s time to start the seeds in question.  For some seeds, the time it takes them to germinate in the test is the same amount of time that it will take them to germinate in trays, seed starting cells, or directly in the soil.  So if you usually expect 7 days for seed emergence for tomatoes, you should do your germination test at least 7 days ahead of the date when you plan to actually start the seeds.

How Long Can You Store Saved Seeds?

That’s a tricky question.  Typical seed life varies according to plant variety.  And in my experience, I’d say there’s a lot of fluctuation based on how the seeds are stored and environmental conditions.

A few crops, like sweet corn and spinach, typically have very short shelf life and you should probably plant them the very next season after they were saved.  Most seeds have longer lifespans, and typically stay viable for 2 – 5 years.

Here is a helpful list from Iowa State University’s ag extension: Life Expectancy of Vegetable Seeds

If you have some old seeds that have been stored well, don’t give up hope!  Check out this [Grow] Network writing contest entry from 2014: Too Many Tomato Seedlings – From 30 Year Old Seeds!

Interested in ways to use up your old seeds?  Here’s one great idea: How To Create Chicken Fodder Using Your Old Seeds


Thanks to Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Seed Savers Exchange for sharing the helpful info!

And thanks to James Romer, Department of Horticulture, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

The post Simple Seed Germination Test at Home appeared first on The Grow Network.

Super Fast Method To Start Seeds In One Day

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Super Fast Method To Start Seeds In One Day I think everyone at least once in their life have started seeds a little late in the season. I am guilty of this. Would you like to know a tried and true method of reducing the time of seed germination by 70%? This not only gives you …

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The post Super Fast Method To Start Seeds In One Day appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

The Easiest (And Fastest) Ways To Protect Your Vegetables From That Dreaded Late Frost

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The Easiest (And Fastest) Ways To Protect Your Vegetables From That Dreaded Late Frost

Image source: Flickr

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.

The Best Deals On Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds Are Right Here!

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.

All-Natural Mulch

The Easiest (And Fastest) Ways To Protect Your Vegetables From That Dreaded Late Frost

Image source: HarvestToTable

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.

DOUBLE Your Garden Production With This New All-Natural Fertilizer!

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.

Related:

5 Frost-Resistant Vegetables You Can Plant Super Early

How do you protect your plants from frost? Share your tips in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Stupid Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

5 Frost-Resistant Vegetables You Can Plant Super Early

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5 Frost-Resistant Vegetables You Can Plant Super Early

Khol Rabi. Image source: Pixabay.com

The days are getting longer, snow is disappearing from the garden and the air is rapidly getting warmer. You’ve spent your dreary, winter days planning this year’s garden. Are you feeling the gardening “itch” yet? If you haven’t chosen which vegetables yet to grace your garden this year, here are five hardy vegetables you can sow outside soon – if not right now.

The soil may still be a bit hard, but if it is workable, then dig and add a layer of compost or manure to the garden. This doesn’t mean scrape the ice and snow off if there is any still there. If you still have snow and ice on your garden, you will need to wait a bit.

If all is well, then begin planting. Remove any weeds and other plant debris you may find. If you are planning to plant any produce that requires stakes or supports, add the supports now. Place a cover over your garden to help protect and warm up the soil before planting.

Check for any pests, especially slugs, as the weather continues to warm up during the month.

Need Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds For Your Spring Garden? The Best Deals Are Right Here!

If you want to try something new, raised garden beds save your back from the hard work of bending to till and dig. These beds heat up quicker than traditional gardens in the springtime, but they still need to have good soil and drain well.

Ready to plant?

Here are five popular and healthy choices for your March planting. They are all hardy, and can be planted outside to enjoy during the spring and summer.

1. Spinach. This cool-weather plant can take about six weeks to grow from seed. All you need to do is loosen the soil before planting. You also can prepare the soil for this vegetable in the autumn if you want to save time in the spring. Spinach likes moist soil, but not soggy. When the plants start to grow, you will need to thin them to prevent overcrowding – a big “no-no” with spinach. You’ll need to buy fresh seeds every year, as spinach seeds don’t seem to store well. This green vegetable is full of vitamins and can be used for salads, main dishes and cooking.

5 Frost-Resistant Vegetables You Can Plant Super Early

Image source: Pixabay.com

2. Leeks. Here is another tough, hardy vegetable you can plant now. Leeks need well-drained soil with organic matter to protect and boost health. They like a sunny, yet sheltered spot. Planting now will allow you to harvest leeks at the same time as you do onions. You will need to break up the soil before planting and the seeds need to be spaced about an inch apart (one to two centimeters.)

3. Turnips. Known as a root-vegetable, turnips are easy to grow. They are full of nourishment, with many minerals and carbohydrates. Turnips grow well in cool, moist soil, and they mature in about six to 10 weeks. You don’t need too many seeds. Plant them by sparsely sprinkling the seeds in a row. Cover with a thin layer of dirt and add a little fertilizer before watering. Turnips should sprout within a week. Water during any dry weather. You can harvest turnips when they are about the size of a golf ball.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

4. Spring onions. This type of onion should be planted in a part of the garden that isn’t waterlogged or still frozen. Pick a spot in the garden that gets a good amount of sun and break up the soil. Rows should be shallow, and you simply drop the seeds into the rows. Add some sort of fertilizer to give plants a boost. By planting spring onions now, you will get a crop in June and July. They can be enjoyed raw or in salads. You can even use them as a substitute for other onions.

5. Kohl Rabi. Here is a fun-looking, hardy vegetable that seems to thrive in cool temperatures. Kohl Rabi grows well in temperatures of 40-75 degrees Fahrenheit, or 4-23 degrees Celsius. It needs 45-60 days to fully mature. Kohl Rabi likes full sun and handles frost well. You will want to plant this vegetable half an inch (one and a half centimeters) deep, in a thin row until plants are five to eight inches apart. The soil needs to be moist. Use compost on the garden bed. You’ll notice Kohl Rabi is sweeter than cabbage. It stores very well in the refrigerator for one week, or up to two months in a cool place.

There are so many other vegetables you can enjoy as well. Choose your seeds, wake up your garden and get planting.

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

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

Self Reliance Weekly Report: Planning for Spring

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This week’s Self Reliance Weekly Report is all about getting ready for spring.

It’s here: that time of year when it’s still winter, but the anticipation of spring is in Read the rest

The post Self Reliance Weekly Report: Planning for Spring appeared first on The Organic Prepper.

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

Here’s The Quickest Way To Grow Indoor Food This Winter

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Here's The Quickest Way To Grow Indoor Food This Winter

The benefit of growing sprouts, particularly in winter when most garden vegetables are dormant, goes far beyond their flavor.  An excellent indoor crop, sprouts pack a lot of nutritional punch for their tiny size, including many of the vitamins, minerals and protein needed in a balanced diet.

Lentils, beans and peas are particularly good for you; they’re comprised of up to 25 percent protein and provide a good source of iron, potassium, vitamins A and D, and other nutrients.

Seeds from most vegetables, herbs and legumes will produce edible sprouts in their early stage, but the most popular sprouts come from beans, peas and some greens. Growing sprouts to supplement your winter produce is easy, inexpensive and full of variety. With a well-stocked pantry, you can enjoy a surprising range of meals with sprouts, helping your family break out of the monotony caused by winter’s limited harvests.

Sprouting Seeds

Although you can easily sprout most seeds, you may wish to start with some better-known varieties. Alfalfa, mung bean, lentil, green pea or wheat seeds are a great place to start. Choose seeds intended for growing, as beans and seeds intended for cooking will not germinate as easily. Most commercially available sprouting seeds are sold by weight. Plan on half an ounce of dry seeds per half cup serving for most sprouts; alternatively, you can save your own seeds for sprouting, and measure 1/8 cup dry seeds per serving. Other than your seeds, all you really need to begin is water and a container.

Like Sprouts? Then You’ll Love Indoor Microgreens!

Here's The Quickest Way To Grow Indoor Food This WinterSelect a plastic, glass or ceramic container with its own lid to use as a sprouting container.  Follow these steps to sprout your seeds:

  1. Rinse the seeds to get rid of dust, loose hulls and dirt.
  2. Soak the seeds in warm water for half a day. If you do this overnight, you won’t be tempted to disturb the soaking process.
  3. Once soaking is complete, remove any floating seeds, as these won’t germinate. Drain water from seeds using a strainer or cloth and return seeds to sprouting container.
  4. Soak a clean cloth or paper towel in warm water and cover the seeds. Put the lid on the container and move it to a location where it won’t be disturbed. You don’t need light for sprouting, but you should place the sprouting container where it will remain at room temperature.
  5. Soak seeds in clean, lukewarm water and drain twice a day: every morning and every evening, returning the seeds to covered container draped in freshly wet cloth after soaking. Seeds will be fully sprouted after 4-6 days, when the hulls are all separated from the sprouts. Rinse in cool water, allow leaves to dry, and place sprouts in refrigerator.

Types of Sprouts

The variety of plants edible in sprout form is almost limitless, but they can be grouped into a few categories. Bean sprouts come from bean, legume, and pea seeds and are tasty in recipes cooked and uncooked. Leafy sprouts, grasses, greens and microgreens — best eaten raw — come from edible grasses, lettuce, herb, and leafy vegetable seeds. A number of grains, including oats, millet and rye, make excellent salad and sandwich sprouts.

How to Eat Sprouts

Finding ways to include sprouts in your recipes is easy and restricted only by your imagination. You’ll be rewarded with a punch of flavor and a boost of essential nutrients.

The Best Kept Secret In Indoor Self-Reliance Gardening…

If you want to get beyond the obvious uses for sprouts — salads, sandwiches and stir-frys — then try one of these suggestions.

  • Mixed sprouts in hot cereal for breakfast. Add the sprouts right at the end of cooking, and stir them in to warm them. Wheat, rye, sunflower and peanut sprouts stirred into oatmeal with a dash of maple syrup makes a comforting start to a winter day.
  • Sprouted omelet. Prepare a plain or cheese omelet, and fold it over raw arugula, beet, cress or broccoli sprouts. If you like a bit of bite, try radish or mustard sprouts.
  • Sprout smoothie. Blend a handful of alfalfa, wheat, rye or oat sprouts into your favorite smoothie mix for hidden greens. Oat sprouts pair well with berries and bananas, or try a tropical smoothie with wheatgrass. A great way to give yourself a boost.
  • Bean(sprout) Burrito. Warm your favorite bean sprouts in a skillet, and pack a tortilla full. Top with guacamole, rice, Pico de gallo and hot peppers if you’re so inclined. A filling — and fast — meal!

Once you begin adding sprouts to your recipes, you’re sure to find it addictive. There is virtually no simpler food to grow, and when you tire of one sprout, just try another. Keep a supply of your favorite sprouting seeds on hand all year, and beat the blahs between harvests. Experiment freely – your crop will grow in less than a week – and enjoy the concentrated power of sprouted seeds.

Do you have any sprout-growing tips? How do you eat sprouts? Share your ideas in the section below:

Every Year Gardeners Make This Avoidable Mistake — But You Don’t Have To. Read More Here.

(Video) Everything You Need to Know about Saving Bean Seeds

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bean-plants-and-flowersThis video contains an abbreviated version of Seed Savers Exchange’s webinar on saving bean seeds. The video touches on lots of good information about growing, harvesting, and saving beans to replant the following season. The advice here is good for any legume, including common beans, peas, lima beans, cowpeas, fava beans, runner beans, and soybeans.

If you’ve ever had questions about when to take your beans, how to separate the beans from the pods, or how to store saved seeds – there’s some good information here to help you along.

I loved the example of a trellis shown in this clip, which is just a group of sticks tied together with twine. I’ve seen a million different attempts at trellises, but I often feel like the simplest trellises are the best looking and the most functional. This trellis is a great example.


Thanks to Seed Savers Exchange for the great video. You can learn more here: Seed Savers Exchange.

 

(Video) Seed Saving Advice for Beginners

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ayocote-de-camote-seeds-close-upHere’s a nice video from Seed Savers Exchange about things you should consider when you’re interested to begin saving seeds. The video includes short interviews with many key players from SSE and their Heritage Farm, including co-founder Diane Ott Whealy.

There is lots of sound advice here, including to choose seeds that you are passionate about, i.e. something you love to eat!

My favorite piece of advice comes from Shanyn Siegel. She says, simply, “start small.” Don’t overwhelm yourself by biting off more than you can chew. Pick one thing that you like to eat, learn to save those seeds well, and then move on from there.


Thanks to Seed Savers Exchange for the great video. You can learn more here: The Seed Garden.

 

How to Tell if Seeds Are Still Good

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How to Tell If Seeds are Still GoodLast week, we explored the question how long do seeds last?  And the general consensus was seeds usually last longer than the stamped shelf life date so don’t toss your leftovers. 

But we also know seeds lose their viability overtime…meaning they’re less likely to germinate and become plants. So, today I’m sharing a video by the University of Wyoming Extension. It’s a simple home test, two tests actually, that you can do. It’ll help you figure out if your seeds are still good.  

How to Tell if Seeds Are Still Good  

Pretty cool, right? 

If you found this video helpful, I’d love it if you share it with a friend. Thanks!

Cheers,

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This article may contain affiliate links. For more information, read the Disclaimers & Disclosures here. Thank you for your support!

The post How to Tell if Seeds Are Still Good appeared first on Earth and Honey.

The Trick To Growing An Avocado Tree Indoors

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How To Grow An Avocado Tree Indoors

Image source: Pixabay.com

Most of us have heard about the healthy characteristics of the mighty avocado — besides its full, rich taste and wonderful talent for making the best guacamole. But did you ever consider growing an avocado tree in your home?

There are more than 1,000 types of avocado plants. Some avocado trees grow to reach a height of 80 feet, with most getting 20 to 40 feet tall. Don’t let this scare you away from enjoying your own avocados! There are several dwarf varieties that do well indoors.

You can start avocados from seeds (stones), but it takes years to bear fruit. If growing a tree from its infancy isn’t your thing, you can always save time by buying a dwarfed avocado tree from a garden center or nursery.

If you are just aiming for a beautiful house plant or tree, the avocado is pretty and healthy for you. Bear in mind, though, that most indoor avocado plants are grown for novelty and not for fruit. For the patient gardener, however, the wait for fruit is worth every minute.

What You Will Need    

Collect two avocados. (You may only want one tree, but always plant two in case one doesn’t take root. You can always give the second away.) You will also need at least four toothpicks for each avocado seed. Get the heavy-duty, strong type, as they are going to be supporting the seed. Finally, get a small glass or container that is deep enough to submerge half the pit.

How to Grow Your Avocado    

The first step in growing your avocado tree is to remove the pit from a fruit that is already ripe. After you are done enjoying the fruit, rinse any leftover avocado off the seed thoroughly. This cleaning is important, as it will prevent anything unwanted from growing on the seed while it’s in water.

The Best Deals On Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds Are Right Here!

Once clean, take each toothpick and push it into the seed far enough that it will hold the pit. Continue around the pit until you form a supporting structure. This structure will hold the seed half in, half out of the glass or container of water.

How To Grow An Avocado Tree Indoors

Image source: Wikipedia

The seed should descend one inch into the water, with its dented end inside the glass and the pointed side up. Roots will grow out the bottom, and the stem and leaves will grow out of the pointed end. The glass needs to be in a sunny area where it is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius. Remember to change the water often; daily is recommended. Roots will eventually appear, followed by leaves and a stem. Wait until almost half of the glass is full of roots. This step can take several weeks, so be patient. You can now transplant the avocado into a container or pot. Use healthy potting soil.

When the tree is about seven inches tall, pinch off the top leaves to encourage fuller growth, which will hopefully also encourage fruit to grow.

Conditions for Best Growth     

Avocado plants will need cool nights to make the plants bloom or bear fruit. Some plants can take up to 10 years to produce that yummy fruit, so if you have patience, go for it!

Indoor avocado plants need regular care. Stakes are needed to help the new stems grow, and you will have to transplant the tree as it grows.

These plants love and need full sun. Make sure they are in a sunny area of your home for best results. Avocados like warm temperatures, but can handle as low as 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Seamazing: The Cheap Way To Re-mineralize Your Soil

It is recommended to fertilize the plants monthly, especially in their normal growing season.

Soil should be rich and fertilized during the growing season. Water when the soil feels dry. Avocados need to be kept moist, but not soaked. Make sure the soil drains well. Yellow leaves are a warning sign that the soil is too wet. If you see white crust on the soil, it means there is too much salt (probably from fertilizer) and you need to flush the avocado’s soil.

Repotting your avocado plant or tree every spring is highly recommended. You also should trim it to encourage the plant to become bushy and full.

Even if you are only growing your avocado tree for something pretty to look at, it can be fun for the whole family to share and take part in the upkeep. Remember to keep the tree pruned, or you may end up with more tree than your family expected.

An avocado tree can add character and freshness to your home during the long winter months, or any season for that matter. You can enjoy the exotic look of the tree year-round, and when the time comes, you can also enjoy the healthy and tasty bounty of the avocado fruit.

Have you ever grown an avocado tree indoors? What are your best tips? Share them in the section below:

Learn Dozens Of All-Natural Gardening Secrets. Read More Here.

How Long Do Seeds Last?

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How Long Do Seeds Last?Last week, the first (of many!) seed catalogs arrived in my mailbox.  Oh, how I love this time of year! The vibrant red tomatoes, deep green herbs, and rich purple eggplants are all calling my name. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Truth be told, I don’t really need to buy seeds. I have so many leftover seeds from past seasons. In fact, I probably have enough to start my own seed catalog! So, that brings up a good question. How long do seeds last?

The answer is, well, it depends. (I know, so annoying, right?)

Seeds can last several years past their recommended shelf life if stored in a cool, dark, dry location. So, don’t toss that pack of leftover seeds quite yet. There’s a good chance something will still germinate.

I did some research, consulting seed companies and extension services to help you figure out if your seeds are still viable.  

Here are the approximate life expectancies of common vegetable seeds when stored under favorable conditions:

1 Year

onion, parsley, parsnip

2 Years

sweet corn, leek, okra, pepper

3 Years

asparagus, beans, broccoli, carrot, celery, kohlrabi, spinach, peas

4 Years

beets, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, eggplant, fennel, kale, mustard, pumpkin, rutabaga, squash, tomato, turnip, watermelon

5+ Years

collards, cucumbers, endive, lettuce, muskmelon, radish

Remember, seeds are living things and as a result they’ll lose viability over time.  

But if they’re stored in a cool, dark and dry place, you’re less likely to experience zero-germination. Because I don’t have a basement, I store my seeds in the refrigerator, tucked inside a mason jar with a moisture absorbing desiccant pack.

Next week, I’ll show you a way to check the germination rate of the seeds you still have hanging around. Meanwhile, enjoy looking at those seed catalogs!

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This article may contain affiliate links. For more information, read the Disclaimers & Disclosures here. Thank you for your support!

The post How Long Do Seeds Last? appeared first on Earth and Honey.

DIY Milk Jug Seed Starters

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This is a great way to make a low cost, actually free,  cold frame for your  outdoor seeds that winter outside or to do seed starting inside for starting seeds indoors for the spring. We are doing this one. Getting our seeds started very soon indoors so they will be ready for planting outdoors. Or planting indoors in 5 gallon buckets. I have a few items that I want to do indoors. Will be easier for when we get our land to be able to take the plants with us.

But this simple and free milk jug seed starter is a great way to start…

Survival Seeds
  • Cut a gallon milk jug in half horizontally. Leave one edge intact so that it will act like a hinge. 
  • You can throw away the cap. But, my creative son is wanting to save them to somehow make an outdoor “rug” with. Have them bottom up so that you can use it to scrape mud off shoes.
  • Punch several drainage holes into the bottom of the jug.
  • Fill the bottom with a few inches of potting soil.
  • Moisten it well and plant the seeds.
  • Close the top cover and secure with some duct tape.
  • Place the jug inside a clear plastic bag and twist tie closed. Since it is in a clear plastic bag it is like its own greenhouse.
  • Place in a sunny spot outside out of the way , so it will not be bothered or have to be moved.
  • Before transplanting , harden off the seedlings by taking the jug out of the bag and propping it open.

This is a frugal way to start your own garden or to garden indoors. Easy and fun to watch them grow.

4 Wintertime Projects To Get Your Garden Prepared For Next Year – And Keep You From The Winter Blah’s!

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Even though the snow and cold of winter’s dark days will be upon us soon enough – it doesn’t mean it’s time to forget about your garden. In fact, wintertime is actually the perfect time to plan, prepare and create all kinds of garden projects to help make next year’s growing season a huge success! Whether you are planning to grow your first veggies ever – or a seasoned veteran of the backyard garden – now is the time to make sure you have everything ready you’ll need next spring to hit the ground running – or should I say hit the garden planting! Here are 4 projects you can do to help chase the wintertime blahs – and get ready for growing next Spring! Plan Your Garden Out On Paper – Now! Taking time to plan your garden over the winter months is one of the most important and overlooked chores each year. By planning now – you can figure out the best ways to get the most from the available space in your garden, and make the most of your family’s food goals. It also allows you to get a jump-start on what seeds to order – and when to start them indoors.  Last but not least – […]

(Video) Grow Sprouts and Microgreens Indoors All Winter Long

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fresh-arugula-micro-greensAs the temperatures drop and the days get shorter – I’ve heard from several gardeners up north that they are packing it up for the year and winterizing their gardens.

But even up north, there’s one easy way to keep some fresh greens coming all winter long – with just a few containers and a little bit of your open counter space.

Microgreens are a great option for keeping your vitamin intake up over the winter. In addition to being tasty and trendy, they pack a big nutritional punch. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry looked at 25 common varieties of microgreens and found that they generally have higher concentrations of healthful vitamins and carotenoids than their mature counterparts. Red cabbage microgreens had the highest concentration of vitamin C, and green daikon radish microgreens had the most vitamin E.

Check out this video about growing microgreens and sprouts indoors:

If you want to give this a try and you’re looking for a cheap and easy way to get started, read this article from our writing contest – Easy and Fresh Micro Greens and Herbs All Year Round. You’ll find one example of a no-frills way to get this done – without needing to buy anything but seeds.

 

Giant World Seed Bank

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A few hundred miles from the North Pole and above Norway a set of islands called “Svalbard” exist. They are controlled by Norway and are hosting something that is quite unique – a Doomsday Seed Vault. This Global Seed vault holds over 1.5 billion seeds. This is an incredible amount and within those seeds a tremendous variety exists. Wheat alone is represented by over 50,000 collections from all over the world.

The intended purpose for the vault is to house seeds in case of some world catastrophe or plant die off. Although the environment is frigid additional refrigeration is provided. Should the vault lose power the seeds will remain preserved for years.

Here are some pictures of the Global Seed Vault:

UvVggft

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albard-racks-55733-600x450

seed-vault-e1445655575944 (1)

location-of-seed-vault (1)

seed7

Lets hope this global seed vault is never needed.

I have stored many seeds and found them to germinate for at least 3 years after date of packaging. I have to admit that many seeds I have tested were not stored especially well. They sat in my garage on a shelf. I think this points to the durability of seeds.

How about you? Have you put away seeds? Seeds are some of the least expensive preps that can be purchased and their use so incredibly rewarding.

Rourke

(Infographic) Save Our Seeds

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If you haven’t started saving seeds from your garden yet, there’s no better time to get started than right now. This handy infographic from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance shows why this is an important part of sustainable growing, and why we should all be doing our part.

The main graphic about the dwindling number of vegetable varieties comes from a National Geographic report about the National Seed Storage Library/National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation. The “80 Years Later” numbers reflect the contents of that national library only – not all varieties that are currently available commercially or through public or private libraries. Nevertheless, the illustration is effective in showing just why we should all take part in protecting the genetic diversity of our food and preserving the heirloom varieties that grow well in our regions.

save-our-seeds-infographic

If you want to get actively involved with a public seed library in your region, check out this interactive map from seedlibrarian.com: Seed Library Locator Map. Hopefully there’s an active library in your area. If you know of a library that’s not listed, get in touch and ask them to add it.


Many thanks to National Geographic for the report on the dwindling number of vegetable varieties in the national library. The original graphic is available here: Our Dwindling Food Variety.

Many thanks to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance for developing this great infographic. The original post is online here: You Should Be Saving Seeds, Yes You.

Infographic Credits:

Content
http://www.exploratorium.edu/gardening/control/seeds/two.html
http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/why_save_seeds.htm
http://www.howtosaveseeds.com/whysave.php
http://blog.seedsavers.org/blog/open-pollinated-heirloom-and-hybrid-seeds

Photos
Infographic: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/07/food-ark/food-variety-graphic
Hands with bean seads photo: http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/top-tips-seed-saving
Heirloom tomato photo: https://galerieco.wordpress.com/2014/05/06/heirloom-tomatoes/
Heirloom carrots photo: https://theplantfarm.wordpress.com/tag/tuber/
Seed in hand photo: http://sites.radiantwebtools.com/?i=15934

 

What you need to know about storing seeds

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Most preppers already know that it is vital to have an ample supply of stored food and water on hand. It is equally important to keep and maintain a healthy seed bank precisely because the food supply may become disrupted, and it will be necessary to grow your own emergency food. Properly implemented, a good seed bank can provide for a lifetime of food.

Below are 5 tips on implementing and maintaining a good seed bank as part of your emergency preparedness and the importance of storing seeds:

Tip 1 – Understanding the Function of Seeds

Even an inexperienced gardener knows that seeds go in the ground, and from there plants will grow, but it’s worth taking a moment to understand the purpose of seeds from a plant’s perspective.

Every year, each plant will produce seeds, essentially the offspring or “children”, to be propagated during the next cycle into new variants of the plant. Seeds might be produced by the plant during spring, summer, fall, or even winter sometimes, but all (non-tropical) seeds are designed to blossom and grow in the spring.

Therefore, the vital function of any prepper’s seed bank is to “trick” seeds into thinking that it is winter, so the seeds stay in their dormant phase. Spring is a time for warmth, light, and wetness, while winter is a time for darkness, cold, and dryness. Your first goal in maintaining a personal seed bank is to keep seeds away from heat, light sources, and moisture.

Tip 2 – Open-pollinated, Non-hybridized, and Non-GMO

openIt’s a sad fact that many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today are not as nature intended, and their seeds are often designed to be sterile and therefore useless in the future if you try to grow a garden from them.

When buying seeds for your seed bank, always buy non-hybridized and non-GMO seeds to ensure that you’re getting a healthy, heirloom variant that will grow as nature intended. Seeds that are open pollinated are versatile enough to be pollinated by a wide variety of insects, or even by hand, if necessary.

Tip 3 – Seeds for Growing and Saving

Take a look at the foods you enjoy eating, and then buy seeds that will grow those plants. A critical part of long term food storage is buying enough seeds that you can grow a year’s supply of your favorite plants.

One important function of your seed bank is to grow enough plants that some can be harvested primarily for their seeds, known as saving seeds. There are special techniques for how to extract, dry, and safely store seeds, so be sure to budget enough seeds in your seed bank to grow plants for the purpose of saving seeds.

It’s also important to understand how plants propagate, and that some, such as onions, garlic, and potatoes, are not grown from seeds but from re-planting cuttings from the original mother plant.

Tip 4 – Self-Pollinating Seeds

beansDepending on your projections for the future, it may be difficult to find pollinating insects like bees to help your plants grow. Many preppers therefore choose to store up seeds for self-pollinating plants, which can grow on their own without external help.

Excellent self-pollinating seeds include: chicory, peas, lettuce, mustard, endive, beans, and tomatoes.

Tip 5 – Storage and Orthodox Seeds

When building up your seed bank, it’s important to understand exactly how to store seeds, and which varieties can last for longer periods of time.

The term “orthodox” refers to seeds that can be dried and frozen for years, kept in any ordinary home freezer. Some of the most popular varieties of orthodox seeds are: peas, corn, and tomatoes, but approximately 80% of all plant seeds are considered to be orthodox. Even without a freezer, all plant seeds must be kept in a cool, dry, place out of direct contact with the sun or light sources.

The hardest seeds to store are those of tropical plants like coconuts, coffee, tea, mangoes, and papayas, as they are designed for a year-round hot climate and must be planted immediately or very soon after the plant produces them.

The post What you need to know about storing seeds appeared first on American Preppers Network.

7 Survival and Prepping Hacks

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The prepping population knows their stuff. Knowing your stuff is sort of the name of the game when it comes to preparing for the worst. It’s necessary to be innovative, resourceful and aware in order to be in control when life as we know it changes drastically. There are many different ways that this scenario can play out and, luckily, many prepping practices cover a lot of different possibilities. We know the basics: food storage, water, protection, shelter, etc. But what about the little tips, or prepping hacks, we’ve learned without thinking about them, little things that make prepping just a little bit easier? We all have some, and here is a list of some survival and prepping hacks I’ve come across.

1. Remember The Crisco

Crisco is an amazing and versatile product. This may not seem like a necessity to have in your storage, but there are many ways that Crisco can be used. It’s great for frying food, greasing pans, and making baked goods. It’s great for for the skin in harsh conditions, scaly skin irritants, and can prevent rashes. Other uses include keeping cockroaches away, makeshift soap, making candles, getting things out of your hair, fixing squeaky hinges, preventing diaper rash, and many others. By putting a wick in a tub of Crisco you will have a candle that will reportedly burn for 45 days. There are other alternatives for Crisco including lard or coconut oil. Crisco, however, has a longer shelf life if stored properly and combines the perks and prepping hacks of these alternatives in one product.

2. Get The Seeds

Like I said before, as preppers, we know the importance of food storage. This practice will be vitally important if we are forced to live off of what we have and aren’t able to go out and grab some groceries. It’s important to understand food longevity, creative cooking methods, and the ability to hunt. Food storage, however, shouldn’t be the only way you are preparing to eat if the worst happens. The downside to food storage is that you are forced to leave a lot behind if you are forced to relocate. The solution to this problem is one of the easiest prepping hacks: buy and store a pack of seeds. This will enable you to grow your own, fresh food source and something easy to barter with. The seeds I’d recommend because of their ease to grow are:

  • Beets
  • Radishes
  • Beans
  • Basil
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

3. Don’t Forget The Medicine

Storing medicine is one of the first prepping hacks you should consider.  The uses for medicine are an obvious necessity when prepping. It’s extremely important to have a stockpile of medicine that you need for your own specialized medical issues like insulin, inhalers or any other life-saving medication you need. This approach can be tricky for some types of medicine as some prescriptions are quite hard to refill before you’ve finished the amount you were prescribed. Some other types of medicine that are important to keep on hand are pain relievers, antidiarrheal medicines, orajel, amoxicillin, antacids, rubbing alcohol, and antibiotic ointment. Wound dressing is important as well so be sure to remember gauze. Infection can be an overlooked issue with prepping but can easily cause limb loss or death if not treated properly.

4. Bring The Baby Oil

Baby oil is another product that is easily overlooked but can be useful in a survival situation. In cold areas where you are outside in the elements a lot, baby oil can protect your exposed skin from dry or frostbitten skin. The risk for frostbite is highest for people who have reduced blood circulation. It is important for frostbite affected tissue to be removed immediately or gangrene and infection will take hold. Without the proper medication infection can cause death.  Baby oil will not completely eliminate the risk of frostbite, of course, but it will help delay the effects and is one of the easiest prepping hacks to follow.

5. It’s All About The Silver

There are many different types of disaster that can happen at any moment and an economic collapse is one of those possibilities. If it ends up that the dollar no longer means anything in our society we will have to revert back to a monetary system that was in place before paper money was in place as a sort of IOU for the gold and silver it was supposed to represent. Like gold, silver can be used as a hedge against inflation, deflation or currency debasement.

6. The Multi-Purpose Pad

The pad, primarily used for feminine hygiene, is an extremely versatile tool and prepping hack. Along with compiling stockpiles of food, water, and other important supplies, pick up a package of pads for your survival stash. Pads can be used for absorbing lighter fluid to be used later and is extremely light to carry. The cotton material inside the pad can be used for water filtration or creating a wick. You can use it to stop bleeding if you have a wound or to clean a wound. They can be used with string to create a mask, shoe insoles, or an ice pack.

7. Creative Uses For Condoms

Condoms are another cheap and easy to carry item that will be great in a survival situation. Aside for their intended purpose, these great prepping hacks can hold a gallon of water which can be a lot easier than toting around a water jug to do the same. However, once you fill a condom up with water they become highly susceptible to puncture even by small or blunt objects. I’d recommend keeping them around just in case, but not as your main means for keeping water. They are also great for keeping things dry like kindling or matches. The down side to using condoms for water or keeping things dry is the lubricant on the outside, but it’s a small price to pay as an easy substitution for a water jug in a pinch or a way to keep life-saving matches dry.

Survival and Prepping Hacks Wrap Up

Whether your prepping stash includes a giant storage warehouse filled with all of the necessary belongings needed in case disaster strikes or just a small tote filled with a few necessities, hopefully you discovered a few extra hacks to think about in the case of emergency. What unique prepping or survival hacks have you discovered?

prepping hacks

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Guest Poster: Chelsy Ranard on twitter
Guest Poster: Chelsy Ranard
Chelsy is a writer from Montana who now lives in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She worked seasonally in Ketchikan, Alaska for five years where she learned vital survival skills, a love for fly fishing, and a newfound respect for the rain.

…and we’re back…News from Rich and SurvivalRing…

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Hi folks, It’s been a while since my last post, although I’ve been in the backroom of SurvivalRing every day for months, keeping things tuned, tight, backed up, and secure. I’ve thought about posting a lot of things, and often I was poised and ready to add my thoughts to the blog, and at the […]