3 Ways to Use Your Swimming Pool for Emergency Preparedness

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There are plenty of warnings not to drink pool water, but would the same advice still apply in an emergency situation? The fact is pool water is not potable and contains many different chemicals, but despite all that, a swimming pool is one of the best things to own during an emergency. The average 20 ft by 40 ft inground swimming pool can provide access to up to 34,000 gallons of water at a time when getting it from the tap or well may not be feasible. Here’s how to prepare to use this valuable resource in a SHTF scenario.

Use Pool Water as Gray Water

Pools contain chlorine to keep them pristine, but when the electricity goes down and the pumps stop running, the automatic filtration and treatment system stops too. That can be a good thing as chlorine dissipates over time into the air. Thus, there is less and less of it. You may even notice algae starting to grow, which is also a beneficial sign that the chlorine is about gone. Then, you can use the water as gray water to do laundry, flush toilets, and take baths. The amount of water you use from the pool can keep your potable water stores from being wasted and used on those activities that do not require the absolute best filtration or water treatment.

To Stay Cool in Hot Situations

One of the most dangerous times for the power to go down is in the heat of summer. Luckily, if you own a pool, you won’t be one of those people who might end up with heat stroke. A pool isn’t just handy for jumping into when the temperatures get too high, but it can also be used for 12V battery-operated evaporative coolers, so you can sleep well at night. You can opt for the DIY option of a swamp coolers which works by cooling very dry areas down by spritzing water on them. However, there are also battery-operated swamp coolers on the market. Evaporative cooling is an ancient technique to keep buildings cool, and if you have an area with brick, you can even spray water on it and let the natural evaporation cool that space down.

You Can Drink It (With Some Cautions)

You probably are very aware what goes into your pool water, when it comes to additives and chemicals. Many pool builders might even be creating salt water pools for the neighbors or treating them with heavy metals, though. Thus, you might not know exactly what is in everyone’s pools, but you do know your own. It will need to be filtered and protected, to try to maintain some of the chlorine to avoid contamination. Cover your pool with a cover at the first indication that you are undergoing a long-term emergency. This will not only keep the sun from breaking down all the chlorine, but it will also keep debris out of the water. Use a swimming pool test kit to check the chlorine levels and once it goes below 4 ppm, it is safe to drink (assuming no other harsh chemicals are in it). You will still want to use a biofilter to remove any potential bacteria and additional chemicals before giving it a swig. If you have access to a solar still, this is the best way to treat pool water before drinking it. Do not drink pool water for more than a few days, just in case you’ve missed something. Also, don’t drink pool water from a different person’s pool because they might not know how it’s been treated and what is in the water. If you decide to build your own pool, you can run a quick search of “pool builders near me and ask for information regarding pool water as well as what designs best fit you.

Get Your Own Pool for Emergencies

Having your own pool is the best assurance of what goes into the water prior to an emergency. In the event of an emergency, you don’t want to rely on the kindness of your neighbors to offer up some of their pool water and then find out it has been harshly treated with too many chemicals or salts to make it drinkable. Instead, treat your pool with chlorine and have a plan to protect it and use it appropriately when the time comes.

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I want to learn and begin living sustainably

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I live in New Jersey. I want to live off the grid and learn what I need to do to enjoy living sustainably and doing no damage to the earth. Anybody that can reach out to me and help each other in doing this would be awesome.

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Dancing Goat Farm – Labor for Lessons

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Dancing Goat Farm Labor for Lessons

Rockingham County, NC. Looking for people who live close to me who would like to learn about sustainable living, organic gardening, building a cob oven and rocket stove, canning, making cheese, goats, chickens, ducks and how to transform a 1/2 acre into a permaculture paradise, while they are waiting to make their move off grid. There is a learning curve to all of these skills. It’s always better to have some of them before you make your jump.


I’m not fully off grid yet. I heat with wood and the new 30′ x 32′ greenhouse will be heated with a rocket stove come winter. I’m still lusting after my solar set up. Reclaiming the old farmhouse well is still a work in progress at Dancing Goat Farm. One of the former owners thought filling it in with dirt and booze bottles was a good idea.


Oak pallets are much heavier at 62 than they were at 55. Some things I can’t pick up by myself like the chicken house. (It’s tipping over because the bunnies thought underneath it was a good place to dig tunnels.) I need help! If you want to learn, get your hands dirty, plant a row of your own vegetables this year give me a shout. I planted 8 fruit trees this month. 4 more are on their way. The concord grapes are in but not the white and champagne. The avocados, pomegranates, figs and olive trees have to be planted in the greenhouse. In May the lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, coffee, cinnamon and banana trees have to be moved to the greenhouse. The two clawfoot tubs have to be moved to the greenhouse because after a long day on the farm nothing is sweeter than enjoying a glass of wine while soaking under the stars.




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Earthships resort planned for Indonesia

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Earthships overheat easily

Indonesia’s first of many Earthships resorts is under construction on the island of Gili Kenawa, in West Sumbawa. Like neighbouring islands in the West Nusa Tenggara region of Indonesia, it’s covered by green hills and a perfect location for the construction of Earthships – sustainable, off-grid homes built of recycled materials. A bit like pets – you have to maintain and nurture them – this one began construction late last year, marking the beginning of a planned Earthship resort on the so-called “Earthship Island”.

The pilot project is part of Eco Regions Indonesia, a sustainable development program covering more than 20,000 hectares of island forest, reefs and beaches in Lombok and Sumbawa. The ambitious plan aims to create Asia’s largest eco-region – addressing eco-tourism, environmental performance, the needs of the local community and sustainable development.

The partnership between Eco Regions and Earthship Biotecture in Gili Kenawa will jointly develop Southeast Asia’s first Earthship academy and Earthship resort. The project began in late 2016 and includes a minimum of 44 Earthships, to be built in three years.

The Earthship team comprises more than 50 people and includes a specialised construction team and a group of local workers and volunteers, who will train other local teams for future construction. Agus, a local worker from nearby Poto Tano and one of the first to be trained in Earthship construction, is proud to be involved.

“This is the first of such buildings in Indonesia,” Agus told the Jakarta Post. “There are old tires and plastic bottles everywhere, so it’s good to learn how to make strong buildings with this.”

Sustainable warrior Brooke said the heat on the beautiful island was a bit of a shock when she first arrived, but the team – which includes volunteers from across the world – was settling in to learn from eco-legend Mike Reynolds, who leads the project.

Mike, a 72-year-old architect who has been named the ‘father of the global Earthship movement’, has been living in and building these passive, off-the-grid homes for almost 40 years, adapting their design to use in various weather conditions and locations.

“I think real sustainability involves six aspects of humanity,” Mike told The Jakarta Post.

“First, humans need comfortable shelter that doesn’t use fuel. We all need electricity and water, and all societies need to do something with sewage and the garbage they produce. Last but not least, everybody needs food.”

He said that in order to live sustainably, all of humanity needs to address these six aspects of living.

“We’re trying to make a building that addresses all of these six things, all the time, all over the world. That’s what this building will be,” Mike said.

Building an Earthship

The Earthship is built using tires stuffed with compressed soil, tin, mud, plastic, and bottles for insulation and decoration. Energy is captured from the sun and wind, and rain is gathered for water. Grey water is treated to water gardens around the Earthship.

The building under construction is less than 20 degree Celsius inside, while the outdoor temperature is unbearable. The insulation system of recycled bottles circulates and cools the air as it enters and moves within the building, creating a natural airflow without the use of conventional air-conditioning or fans.

Mike said the off-grid systems are sustainable and easy to adapt to.

“I have been living in an Earthship for more than 40 years,” he said. “My office is an Earthship, my house is an Earthship. When I am hungry, I just go into the Earthships, pick bananas, grapes and I eat. I don’t have utility bills; when it rains, I am happy because I have water. But when it’s not raining I am happy too because I have the sun and sun makes electricity. I know that when I use the toilet, I am making soil for the plants. Every part of your daily life routine is contributing to your daily life routine and the Earth.”

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Guardline GS-5000 Motion Detection Security System / APN Product Review

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Imagine a line of pickets that can pick up the approach of anything heading your way. That’s exactly what you have with the Guardline GL-5000 Motion Detecting Alarm System. This is a security system that is well worth it.

This product review was a walk in the park… actually a walk around the yard, testing the effective range of this rugged & versatile motion detector & programmable alarm system. The radio transponder motion detecting sensors easily covered the furthest reaches of my property, sending notice when movement was detected.

BUY NOW & SAVE 10% with coupon “APN”

Guardline,  a major name in home security systems, has answered the call for a motion detector system with greater range & greater expandability, & has done so in a practical, affordable way.

Operating in the UHF 900 Mhz. radio band, Guardline’s sensors lie in wait to detect movement. Each censor able to be set up with different sensitivity, detected rate of movement, as well as scheduled time of operation. You can configure each one to match it’s location & need of coverage. With up to quarter mile range to the receiver, a sensor can alert you of movement, several minutes before anything could come close.

Made of high impact ABS Plastic in flat OD Green color, each sealed, battery powered sensor, blends into an outdoor setting & operates undetected day & night. The sensor comes with mounting screws for walls & fence posts, but I found it handy to use tie-straps for temporary mounting. The sensors weigh not much more than the 4 AA batteries it holds, so deploying these sensors tactically is a not a problem at all.

But here’s where the GL-5000 stands apart. The central receiver is programmable, with 4 monitoring zones, each able to monitor 4 separate sensors. That means you can deploy up to 16 sensors, & the receiver can keep track of each one.  You can assign each sensor it’s own unique alert tone, so just by the sound you hear, you can know in an instant exactly where movement has been detected.

I noted several “choke-points” where anyone coming onto my property would have to pass. It was easy to install a sensor at each spot & give full coverage of the area. The furthest sensor was deep in the woods150 yards away. It was picked up by the desktop receiver.  I even went all out and walked way out off my property, to the end of the road over a block away, it still was received.  The Guardline GL-5000 is ideal for long range motion detection capability. And with batteries supplying power to the sensors, the system makes for great temporary deployed perimeter security.

My one hitch in the review was all by my doing. The sensor’s case is held together by four small brass screws, and I of course promptly dropped one as soon as I went to put batteries in the unit. I quickly found the dropped screw, but word to the wise, be careful with opening the sensors.

The number of batteries you invest in may be a burden if you have as many sensors the GL-5000 can handle…(16 units x 4 AA batteries each = 64 batteries), but rechargeable batteries are available which can minimize the burden. And if you’re like me, a solar powered charging system can easily be put together which can keep things topped off indefinitely. The upside is how the sensors can be programmed to “sleep” for set periods of the day or night, cutting down on battery use. The GL-5000 doesn’t come with connections to a computer or internet, however that’s another thing a whiz-kid tinkerer could figure out.

That all said, if you’re looking for a reliable, expandable & affordable way to guard for intruders Guardline’s GL-5000 system is more than capable. For Home Security I give it a big Thumb’s Up!

UPDATE: We don’t often offer product specials, but Guardline is offering 10%OFF on purchasing their products through this review. Use Coupon code “APN”. 
Offer expires Feb. 28th. 2017.

Ordering Here  Supports further APN Reviews!

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(eco)Village within a Village

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Solar hamlet - artists impression

Growing demand sees Welsh govt jumping on bandwagon

The Welsh Government is embracing low-impact housing with the unveiling of its first village within a village – the Pentre Solar “eco hamlet” within the traditional, stone-walled village of Glanrhyd in Pembrokeshire. The six timber homes have solar panels capable of producing 6000 kilowatt hour per year, low energy use and a A++ energy rating.

Following the successful construction of a prototype house built by start-up Western Solar in 2013, the Welsh Government gave the company £141,000 to help create its nearby production base for the homes, which will house tenants from Pembrokeshire council’s social housing waiting list. With low energy use and access to a shared electric car, Western Solar said residents could avoid up to £2,000 a year on energy costs and consumption.

The eco hamlet was built with insulation material made from recycled paper and local Douglas and Fir wood sourced from the Gwaun Valley. Local people were hired and trained to build the homes, which cost about £100,000 each to build – comparable to a conventional build, according to Western Solar.

About 40% of the fabric of the houses is made in the factory, significantly reducing the build time; it takes only a week to make each house, and less than that to erect it. The company plans to build 1,000 homes over the next 10 years, with the help of partnerships including housing providers and investors.

Welsh Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she was “delighted” to officially open the innovative housing development.
“[It is] not only providing much-needed housing for local people, it is also addressing many other issues such as energy efficiency, fuel poverty, skills development and the use of Welsh timber,” Lesley said.

Low-impact development is recognised by the Welsh Planning system as playing a key role in the transition towards a low-carbon society. Since the ‘One Development Policy’ legislation was introduced in Wales in 2010, it has been possible to build new homes in the open countryside as long as there is a clear commitment for to sustainable living, natural building techniques, and land-based livelihood.

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Grow Food in One Container All Year

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Growing your own fruit and veg is a pursuit that is packed with advantages. Before you even eat the things, the action of nurturing these plants can be calming for the heart and soul, and offer a healthy sense of pride. Then there’s the nutritional benefits: knowing precisely what (if any) fertilizers and pesticides are on your veg, picking and eating them when they are perfectly ripe, and — if you have the room to grow them — you’ll probably end up eating more greens than usual. Even if you don’t have the room to grow food, it’s still possible to acknowledge your inner agriculturalist by maintaining a limited amount of seasonally appropriate produce in just one rotated pot.

With a good-sized pot (at least 45cm deep and wide), good compost and some trusty bamboo, you can soon master the hobby. The right watering patterns, fertilizer treatment and placement will vary from crop to crop. As the seasons turn and you switch one vegetable for the next, you will find that the transition process is also nuanced but achievable — great if you want to challenge yourself, or get the kids’ green fingers working.

To get started, try referring to this new info graphic which makes clear how simple this most natural of hobbies can be, and it won’t be long before you’re enjoying a rich and varied vegetable diet from just that one unassuming container. Bon appétit!

Info Graphic provided by Pound Place for your educational purposes.

Courtesy of: Pounds to Pocket

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Point Zero Energy HomeGrid™ 5000HD Solar Electrical Generator

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I’m a pretty jaded type. I don’t often get excited, but I was all “a-tingle” when I got word of what was heading my way for review.  Most of my reviews are of small items, handheld radios, machetes, hand axes, not 200 lbs. of high-end, high power solar generator.

Needless to say, I was as giddy as a little school girl.

You see, any serious prepping plan needs a foundation based on sustainability. You need to work from a sustainable supply of anything to hold your own, whether it’s a supply of beans, bullets or banjo strings. This applies especially for electricity.
The ultimate goal is to live comfortably “off grid”.  Unless a life of a wilderness mountain man with flint & tinder is your bag, if you want electric lights, air conditioning & internet, you’ll need a powerful electrical generator.

The HomeGrid™ 5000HD Solar Powered Generator.

Just like it’s name, this solar-powered electrical generator is made to supply a entire household with clean, continuous electricity, for totally off-grid living.

Four heavy boxes arrived from Point Zero Energy by ground freight, with two large deep cycle 12V DC batteries, the inverter/generator unit, unit base, cart wheels & handle. Plus two pairs of solar panels, with two 100 watt panel built into sturdy frames with hinged supports & carry handles. Total capacity of the included solar panels came to 400 watts. Also included, was an assortment of parts including a heavy duty battery charge controller, three heavy-gauge jumper cables & connecting cables for the solar panels, along with an illustrated manual & instructional DVD.

Assembly was straight forward… the generator  bolts to the flat metal base with welded axle for the two wheels. At each side of the generator sits the two 12VDC batteries, on top of the generator a heavy duty handle is bolted on. Everything can be pushed around like a hand truck. The two batteries get wired in series to the generator to supply 24 Volts DC. On the front face of the Inverter/Generator are four 110VAC outlets, two USB outlets & One 220VAC outlet. There’s also a power & standby toggle switch and an LED Display that shows battery status & output voltage.

With the large capacity deep cycle dry cells & heavy duty inverter, the Homegrid™ 5000HD is capable of 5000 watts of continuous 110 & 220 AC Power, and a whopping 22,000 watts of peak surge power. Read that again…TWENTY-TWO THOUSAND WATTS Surge power.  Meaning the generator can easily power multiple home appliances simultaneously including refrigerators, freezers, microwave ovens, and cooking appliances. It’s pure sine wave power output will safely run power tools, electronics, and medical equipment.

A “Mac-Daddy Cadillac” Solar Generator, perfect for off-grid living. Two things make it deliver… Massive Dry Cell Batteries with tremendous capacity & a robust DC/AC inverter, built to take tremendous demand. The 220 Volt output, wired to a household circuit breaker system can give household appliances clean dependable electrical power day & night.

For my test, I plugged into my house transfer switch circuit, specifically to isolate my home off the Utility Company power meter, (and avoiding back feeding). There was no noticeable difference to the house load. The TV worked fine, my computers booted up, lights came on through the house, the refrigerator & microwave ran without a hiccup. Even my water well, with it’s 220V AC motor did it’s job. Then I ran some power tools… my chop saw & band saw in the shop, they all cut wood with no telltale difference in performance.
Overall, the power draw on the generator was usually less than 2500 watts, most often less than a thousand watts. It was when the refrigerator compressor came on, or when the well pump kicked on that power surged. Throughout my test, the generator was loafing along, operating well under capacity all day & even all night. One exception though, my house AC unit wasn’t in the transfer circuit. When I wired up my transfer switch, I didn’t include it in the circuit so I couldn’t put it to test. Still, the AC is rated to draw 1500 to 3000 watts when operating, the HomeGrid™ 5000HD has the capacity to handle the load.  Through the night there wasn’t much demand, just the few lights I had on, my computer & TV, and the refrigerator… altogether, no more than 1000 watts. By next morning, the battery status indictor showed less than one quarter depletion, and within the first hours of daylight, the system had regained a full charge by the solar panels.

Using the 400 watt solar panel array, the generator’s batteries can easily be topped off throughout the day letting the system handle the heavy lifting alone only during the night. The generator can also accommodate a second 400 watt array as well.  Typically the deep cycle battery service life offers 7 to 8 years of reliable service.

Granted, my review was a weekend of use test, and in the long term, my energy demands would widely vary from day to day & seasonally. However, with some reasonable budgeting on the amount of power use, the Point Zero Energy HomeGrid™5000HD could give me a totally off grid existence right out of the box. Just by adding additional batteries & solar cells, the well of electrical power I’d have on tap would be far more than my modest needs. The great news is the HomeGrid™ 5000HD is easily expandable & PORTABLE.

My only gripe isn’t really a gripe at all.
I was staggered by the weight the Point Zero Energy HomeGrid™5000HD.  Although designed & built to be portable, you’d be smart to have a couple of stout helpers to pitch in moving the generator & battery unit. By myself, it was a task. The solar panels are not a problem, but you certainly work up a sweat horsing the generator unit & batteries around. Imagine taking a hand truck and deadlifting a small refrigerator up some stairs.  Again, this isn’t really a gripe against the gear, more it’s against my own lack of strength. The weight is actually a good testament of the sheer ruggedness built into the unit. Point Zero Energy isn’t building wimpy gear here, it’s high quality, high capacity & highly reliable power generation equipment. It’s well worth the sizable investment to insure safe, reliable, & dependable electrical energy to live totally off-grid, yet still enjoy modern electrical appliances in your household.  Until Doc Brown & Marty McFly shows up with a Mr. Fusion home reactor, the Point Zero Energy HomeGrid™ 5000HD is anyone’s ticket to an off-grid lifestyle. Now that I’ve experienced life off-grid, I’m striving for more.
Pay a visit to Point Zero Energy’s website to learn more about the complete line of HomeGrid™ Solar Powered Electrical Generators.

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Homesteading Summit “movie trailer”…JUST RELASED!

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This “movie trailer” for the Homesteading Summit was JUST RELEASED!
It’s a pretty inspiring 50,000 ft view of what you can expect in the week ahead, watching the Mother Earth News Homesteading Summit!
This 100% online event is set to kick off this coming Monday, October 31st.
35+ speaker, over 7 full days.
Covering topics that include modern homesteading, growing your own food, raising healthy livestock, sustainable off-grid living, and so much more.
Watch the movie trailer above!

And when you’re ready:
Sign up to watch the Mother Earth News Homesteading Summit here:
Everyone is welcome, and it’s complete free!

But don’t delay, you wan’t to register before October 31st!

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Another, “Ask Cat” episode on Herbal Prepper Live!

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Another, “Ask Cat” episode on Herbal Prepper Live! Cat Ellis “Herbal Prepper Live” On the first Sunday of every month, I do an “Ask Cat” episode. Call in this Sunday evening with all of your natural health, herbal, and prepping questions. What kinds of questions can I ask? Ask anything related to herbal remedies, herbal … Continue reading Another, “Ask Cat” episode on Herbal Prepper Live!

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How to Design a Gorgeous, Eco-Friendly Container Home

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In the pursuit of sustainable living solutions, thousands of people throughout the world have turned to recycled shipping containers as viable options. If you’ve never considered this possibility before, then now may be the time to learn more about this growing trend. You don’t know what you’re missing!

The Rise of Container Homes

Over the past few years, the popularity of container homes has risen dramatically. They’ve gone from entirely strange to fairly common in certain parts of the world. In fact, a recent Woot study asked readers the following question: “Would you ever live in a house made of shipping containers?” More than 700 people responded and the overwhelming majority – 61.5 percent – said “Heck yeah. Those are cool.” Only 25.1 percent said they would never consider it.

The appeal of container homes is diverse. Price is obviously one of the primary benefits, with many homes coming in at less than $50,000 to build. However, it’s the sustainability and eco-friendliness of these recycled structures that most people prefer.

“This supply of used containers is unlikely to run out, as each year more than 500,000 shipping containers are abandoned,” says industry expert Tom Woods. “Add this growing supply to the already established several million abandoned containers lying across the world and you have a large supply to get building with.”

To many, the thought of a home built out of shipping containers conjures up images of cold, impersonal living spaces that are uncomfortable and impractical. However, the reality is much different. Just check out some of these shipping containers from around the world to see how advanced shipping container homes can be.

3 Eco-Friendly Container Home Design Tips

While recycling a shipping container and using it as the structure for your home is eco-friendly in and of itself, there are a number of ways you can make a container home even more sustainable.

Let’s check out some of the things people are doing.

  • Insulation is a must. On its own, a shipping container is a very inefficient structure. In order to make it a sustainable solution, container homes have to be outfitted with adequate insulation, roofing, and flooring. Otherwise, homeowners end up wasting considerable amounts of energy. Eco-friendly insulation options include cotton, recycled newspaper, and even straw.
  • Use solar panels. Many people that choose to build container homes are interested in living off the grid. In this case, solar panels on the roof can provide enough electricity for some of these structures. If nothing else, they can at least supplement a traditional utility set up.
  • Collect rainwater. Since many people that own container homes also live off the land, there are a number of steps that can be taken to promote an environmentally friendly exterior. For example, it’s easy to set up a rainwater collection system to water the garden.

While the structure itself is sustainable, in order for the container home trend to really take off, it’s important that other eco-friendly practices are implemented. These are just three of many possibilities.

Container Homes: The Future of Sustainable Housing?

While it’s hard to call container homes anything but trendy in the global real estate market, it’s not difficult to imagine a future where they play an integral role in sustainable housing. The eco-friendly nature of these structures mean they’ll be around for many decades to come.

For those interested in building their own container homes, it’s important that you perform adequate research and understand the many complexities of these housing solutions. In order to do build one in a cost-effective and eco-friendly manner, very specific steps must be followed.


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The Continuing Rise of Solar Energy

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The Continuing Rise of Solar Energy

Written by: Adam Torkildson

solar-energyRecent surveys show that 90 percent of American households are in favor of using clean energy. Fossil fuels are seen to be a finite, dwindling source of power for America. Finding alternatives to imported oil and dirty coal are imperative. Solar energy, especially for the household, has been around for some time. But it is just now coming to grips with enough innovative technology to make it very manageable on almost any conventional budget.


The background

Solar power, or to give it a fancier name — photovoltaic systems — takes sunlight and turns it into electricity. Solar panels are usually placed on the roof — and the newer ones are thin and black and can be layered with roof shingles for a very pleasing aesthetic look.

The cost of a decent solar power system in the past has been prohibitive for many homeowners — somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 thousand. But new technology, combined with state and federal incentives and creative financing practices have brought the price down and put photovoltaic paneling within the reach of most households.


Before you commit to solar power . . .

Look at your electric bill first to make sure it’s worth the time, effort, and expense to install. Smaller households may not save very much with solar power. As a rule of thumb a 3 kilowatt solar power system will produce about 4 thousand kilowatts of electricity per year (the household average is 10 thousand per year), while a 5 kilowatt system produces around 7 thousand kwh per year. An even bigger one, at 10 kilowatts, will give you over 12 thousand kwh per year — maybe enough to sell electricity back to your utility company if they are buying.


Does your roof get much sun?

How much sun can your roof get? Are there any obstructions, such as trees or taller buildings that put your roof in shade for more than a few hours each day? If so, solar panels may not be the best idea for your home. The best place to put solar panels is on a roof that is facing south. You can view a solar resource map for your area at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. This will give you a good idea of how much sunshine your area gets on an annual basis.


Don’t fiddle on the roof!

The smaller the roof area, the less solar power you can get from it. Also consider if you have dormers, chimneys, and other roof bric-a-brac that eats into the flat surface that solar panels need. To be worth the investment, you need about 500 square feet or more of solar paneling area on your roof.


What is your home’s energy rating?

Homes built within the last 20 years are usually pretty energy efficient. Add to that energy efficient appliances and good insulation, and a solar panel system makes a lot of sense for your domicile. Older homes and appliances tend to eat up a lot of electricity, and solar panels just may not make that much of a difference for the price you have to pay to install them.


Financing the deal

Before you begin worrying about the price of installing solar panels, think first of the long term benefits to you. One, a solar panel system will add good value to your house (and in many states it is a tax deduction just like your mortgage). Two, it obviously cuts down on your electric bill and can even make you self-sufficient when it comes to electricity.

You can even lease a solar panel system, instead of buying it outright, for a manageable monthly payment. Most leases run 20 years.

For a complete listing of government rebates and licensing fees in your area, use the government website Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).


Use a professional

If your neighbors, friends, or associates at work have had solar panels installed ask them for a review of the company that did it. Otherwise, use a resource website like BestCompany.com for reviews of installation companies in your area. Most installation companies will be glad to meet with you personally and give you an estimate after looking over your house.

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Jet Capsule Floating Home – Off Grid Ocean Living.

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jet capsule floating homeWhether it be an underground bunker or a super armored vehicle, many have imagined how they would survive a post-apocalyptic world, but thanks to this new floating home concept, anyone can get a glimpse of what the future might look like in not only a realistic way, but with style as well.

Designed by the incredibly innovative company, Jet Capsule, the ‘UFO’ is a concept for an underwater saucer-shaped vehicle that offers an off-grid experience in the heart of the deep blue sea. It comes with a motor connected to a battery, essentially making it a contemporary bathyscaphe that can travel seamlessly throughout the water.


Spherically shaped, the ‘UFO’ measures at 12.5 meters in diameter. The shape is divided by the middle – on the lower level, there is a shower as well as bedroom with its own subterranean window while the upper level includes a kitchen and dining area.

Many may wonder how a sphere in the ocean can stay so stable. How can all the utensils in the kitchen not fall when the ship rocks? Will I roll around in bed if there’s some sort of capsize? The answer to all these questions is simple: No. The ‘UFO’ keeps stable with its special elastic anchor system, which aligns itself with its very own compass. This helps keep the position and angle oriented to the desired direction, thus keeping the lower and upper levels as safe as they can get

The inventors of the product have yet to create the ship, but are asking for more investors. Initial prices could be as much as $800,000. In the future, the company hopes to sell the ‘UFO’ homes to everyone by reaching a broader market with the lower price of $200,000. This investment will most likely go through. After all, with flying cars in the making and the recent discovery of self-driving vehicles, an underwater UFO doesn’t sound too out of the ordinary.

Watch Video of Jet Capsule Floating Home Home

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Rise of The Earthships

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EarthshipsAlthough ‘Earthships’ may sound like a spaceship from a sci-fi movie, the name is actually for a style of sustainable housing like those found in this small subdivision of homes in the middle of New Mexico. After seeing all the unutilized land that was being wasted on nuclear testing, architect Mike Reynolds decided to confront the legislature about doing some sort of experimental home designing. To his surprise, the local government granted Reynolds two acres, allowing him to create a series of innovative homes with absolutely no restrictions.

“The county comes and just sort of observes once in a while,” he stated to a reporter, showing a series of piles of what looked like trash. The neighborhood appears to be something out of a post-apocalyptic movie, showing strange homes scattered along the desert wasteland. “We use trash,” he said proudly, going on to say that the county even went as far as bringing old tires and bottles to help with construction.

Earthship: How To Build Your Own (Sponsored)

Every single home is completely self-sustaining, most of them made up of a strange combination of construction materials. For example, the walls are made with concrete and recycled bottles as well as tin cans. The architect claimed that although a lot of the designs are strong and durable, they wouldn’t be permitted outside the 2-acre zone. “It’s completely safe,” he stated, “It’s just not in their programming to approve something like this.”

In order for a neighborhood to survive in the desert, it needs electricity and water, both of which is offered by Earthships. The homes are covered in wired solar wraps, which are skinny sheets that are sprawled across the ceiling of each home, making for cheap living. Water, of course, is dependent on the amount of rain that falls, which isn’t much in New Mexico. Reynolds stated that in order to keep much of this rainfall, the neighborhood has created a town reservoir as well as greenhouse, which helps create hot water during the day.

Watch Kirsten Dirksens’s Video About Earthships Below

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Paul Elkins Reinventing the Wheel

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Paul Elkins in tiny camper

Paul Elkins displays tiny camper

“If you really want to accomplish something, you eventually figure out the puzzle and there’s so much satisfaction in figuring out that puzzle,” claims Paul Elkins. Ever since Paul was a young boy, he was always driven to redesign objects, whether it be on a bicycle, a door handle, or his father’s car. One day, Elkins’ father took him to a car show, and a small section of personally designed bicycle caught his eye. That day, according to Elkins, changed his life. There were several bikes, all designed in very strange and intricately unique ways, provoking the young designer to think differently about vehicles as well as the art of designing them.


With countless drawings of intricate designs, Elkins is known for his introspective way of designing. “You have to design around yourself,” he states to the filmmaker of the documentary, An Original Maker, “Once you design it around yourself, the rest of the piece comes together.” The maker has ADD, which may attribute to his obsession with vehicles, but definitely in a positive and proficient way. Elkins at one point feared for the discoveries of his genius, eventually realizing the implications of creating a small-sized vehicle that was able to travel at 55-miles per hour at jaw dropping 155 miles per gallon. This offered him an awe-inspiring idea of the potential of where we as a society could go with transportation.

“I’m working on that idea,” Elkins claims, stating that creating a vehicle on a mass scale is one of his many lifetime goals. “At one point I started getting on YouTube,” the designer said with a glimmer in his eye, “and I saw a man in Paris living in a box that was very similar to a vehicle design that I had made.” Each vehicle, scooter, or personal-living facility Paul Elkins makes, which are typically showcased on his YouTube channel, is more innovative and thought provoking than the last, offering innovative ideas for tiny homes and minimalist lovers alike.

Watch the video below “An original maker: Paul Elkins, Pacific Northwest polymath”

This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license.  All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.

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10 Cool Kitchen Gadgets

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GeniCan - Cool Kitchen Gadgets10. Genie Can

The company GeniCan is offering homeowners one of the best inventions that’s ever made it into the modern day kitchen: artificial intelligence. Genie Can is essentially a talking and thinking machine that lives inside of your trash can, allowing you to verbally add to your always-growing grocery list. “What is it that you need?” the Genie Can will ask, to which you can reply anything you want.

9. Food Sniffer

Because there are over 200 different diseases that live in food, particularly in meat, it may be scary picking out your chicken, fish, or poultry. That is, until the great invention Food Sniffer came along. With just a quick scan of your purchased meat, Food Sniffer will be able to not only detect dangerous diseases, but keep you safe through its use of advanced biotechnology.

8. Butter Crayon

If you’re tired of your butter frying in a can or simply frustrated in how difficult it is to slice your stick, get Butter Crayon. With Butter Crayon, you’ll be able to smooth out the delicious substance on anything, whether it be the base of a pan or a slice of bread, all by simply inserting the butter into the magical Butter Crayon plastic container. The product is dishwasher safe and also makes it perfectly clean to handle butter with your hands!

7. Spread It

There are many things in life that are in need of spreading – legs during a police search, wealth in a society that has too much poverty, but the most important is delicious butter, which is exactly why you should invest in ‘Spread It’. Though it may look like an ordinary butter knife, the device is actually a meticulously thought-out butter knife that was designed for efficiency and hand-comfort.

6. Purrfect Breakfast

If you’re cat lover and an egg lover, then you’re going to adore the latest invention by Egg Addiction. The company offers cat-shaped egg holders that make for tasty and adorable sunny-side eggs in the shape of kitty cats! The product comes in two sizes: mini and large, which makes them perfect for adults and children alike.

5. Prepd Pack

If you’re the type to always be prepared and eat your way, grab a Prepd Pack, which is a beautifully crafted lunchbox that makes lunchtime more enjoyable because, not only is it beautiful – it comes with several differently sized containers, making it perfect for any kind of meal, whether it be a sushi platter or a pita kit. There’s even an app that will help you customize every week’s lunch!

LivinHive- cool kitchen gadgets4. Livin Farms Hive

Self-sufficient farming has recently become all the rage in many parts of the world – whether you’re doing it for health reasons or simply want to lower your carbon footprint, Livin Farms Hive is a great product that allows people to grow insects in their own home through their use of the world’s first edible desktop hive. Although it sounds strange to grow worms on your countertop, growing healthy bugs, means you’ll also be growing healthy food!

3. Spherificator

The Spherificator is a new product that has already outdated current technology used to create pearls. Now utilized by upper class chefs, caterers, and even everyday homeowners, the Spherificator does in seconds what the older tools used to take hours to do, making it hyper efficient and perfect for cooking your very own caviar.

2. LidSitter

The LidSitter is a kitchen accessory that makes your cooking experience easier and actually fun by allowing the lid rest on the edge of the pot thanks to the ingenious handlebar design. This makes for easy quick open-and-stir recipes and also saves time. The LidSitter comes with three fashionable holders in case you need your lid on the counter without it touching anything dirty as well.

1. Food Protectors

Usually when fruits and vegetables go bad, we assume that it’s just part of nature, but thanks to the geniuses at Food Protectors, nature can be slowed down. The key is ‘food protectors,’ which are small oxygenated packets that are hidden in fake plastic fruit. The fake fruit is then disguised alongside a basket of fruit to assist the real produce in staying fresh for a longer time. The tactic is non-toxic, eco friendly, and even looks really cool!

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The World’s Best Ultra Athletes Grow Their Own Energy Drinks

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growyourownenergydrinksThe Tarahumara Indians are recognized as the worlds fastest ultra marathon runners. One key to their success? The energy drinks they consume while running trail.  And it is a drink they make themselves. Find out how in this video.

Learn more great info just like this at the Home Grown Food Summit by going here

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DIY Antbiotics, Plus grow your own garlic

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Yes, you can make your own anti-biotics at home. I’ll show you how to make a really super powerful one (it’s easy to do). Anyone can do it. Most people will want to do this in their backyards or on a patio. But I suppose you could do it indoors too. This one I’ll show you how to make is way more complex than anything the pharmaceutical companies can produce, yet it is simpler and easier to make. No, you won’t need a lab of chemistry set. No, you won’t need microscopes or chemicals. Nope, you won’t even need a spectrum analyzer….

This is so simple it’s just amazing you aren’t doing it right now.

This particular anti-biotic not only helps boost your immune system for any time you have an infection, but it is also good for when you have a cold, it’s known to help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure, it’s been known to help balance blood sugar, fight cancer, fight fungus, and more.

Seriously, you have to check this out.

Sign Up Free for the Home Grown Food Summit Now! (Starts March 7th)


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Pumpkins for Food Storage – How and Why?

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Upon learning that pumpkins are a staple in my garden, the common reaction is “Oh neat! For jack-o-lanterns?” Then frowns only follow when I say ‘no.’ Only few brave souls will then ask “then why do you grow them?”  Society is so far out of touch that most people can’t imagine off the top of their head why someone would want to grow pumpkins if not for the Halloween decoration of carved pumpkins.

Tire Planter with Pumpkin Plants and Other Squash

Why indeed?

Pumpkins are very versatile in their uses for cooking, most parts are edible, including the fleshy shell, the seeds, the leaves, and even the flowers. Even green immature pumpkins can be eaten like zucchini or summer squash. They are extremely high in beta-carotene, B vitamins (including folate), and vitamin C. Pumpkin also contain a nice energy boosting combination of carbohydrates and sugar. As a food source pumpkins are invaluable and have earned a valid spot in your homestead or survival garden.

They are a fairly hardy plant that once planted require very little maintenance, other than regular water (unless you are lacking in bees, then hand pollination of the flowers is a must). Of course, the type of pumpkin plants I grow are a “sugar pie pumpkin“, more suitable to pie making than the varieties typically used for jack-0-lanterns. They are smaller than store bought pumpkins and have more meat on them than the Halloween variety and of course they are more sweet. They also are great for smoothies and canning.

What else can you do with pumpkin besides pie?

Aside from turning the seeds into toasted high protein snacks, you can make pumpkin soup, pumpkin butter, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin bread, pumpkin smoothies, use pumpkin as filling for pasta, you can also bread and fry the pumpkin flowers (of course this means less fruit on the plant) or you can roast pumpkins and eat them like you would a butternut squash. I would also like to note here that pumpkin puree added to dog food is not only good for them, it seems to settle their digestion system. I have used it for years to treat diarrhea. Real sugar pie pumpkins do however, make the best pumpkin pies and they also work best for most of the above applications.

How to store pumpkin?

I am going to start this section off by assuming everyone knows that they can buy canned pumpkin and stick in their food storage, if growing it is not a desired option. Just remember that with store bought pumpkin certain substitutes are frequently allowed and even encouraged to improve cost effectiveness – store bought canned pumpkin could be made up of several different types of winter squash with very little actual pumpkin and they don’t have to disclose it. Please note, there is no GMO pumpkin seed currently being sold – so don’t worry about that.

There are also plenty of “do it yourself” methods that us homesteaders like to fall back on, like canning, dehydrating, freeze drying and freezing! Dehydrating and freeze drying pumpkin will result in the longest storage time without loosing nutrients, canning will give you a combination of several years of storage time and convenience, freezing will give you lots of convenience but shorter storage time that is dependent on a power supply.


Click on this video below to see how to can pumpkin at home!


Recommended Canning Equipment
– Pressure Canner
Wide Mouth Pint Sized Canning Jars, Rings and Lids
Steamer Basket
– Lid Lifter
Jar Lifter 


*Safety First*
Think safety when planning to preserve pumpkins. Pumpkin is a low acid vegetable and requires special attention to preparation and processing. Use excellent sanitation in handling the fresh or preserved pumpkin.  Do not let cut pumpkin sit out at room temperature for more than 2 hours during preparation prior to preserving.  There are no properly researched procedures to recommend for home canning of pumpkin butters, purees or pickled pumpkin products such as salsas, chutneys and relishes; recipes like this you try should be served immediately or stored under refrigeration at all times.


Dehydrating Pumpkin

Recommended Dehydrating Equipment
Excalibur Dehydrator
Stick Blender 
Parchment Paper
Food Processor

The standard dehydrating instructions for pumpkins from USDA are as follows: Wash, peel, and remove fibers and seeds from pumpkin flesh. Cut into small, thin strips no more than one-inch wide by 1/8-inch thick. Blanch strips over steam for 3 minutes and dip briefly in cold water to stop the blanching action.  There is no need to cool to room temperature prior to drying. Drain excess moisture. Dry the strips in an electric dehydrator until brittle.

TIP: Pumpkin also makes excellent dried vegetable leather. Purée cooked pumpkin and strain. Add honey and spices, and then dry on a home food dehydrator tray.

The way I dehydrate pumpkin is this: I wash, remove the fibers (gut the pumpkin), steam it until tender all the way through, then off the peel.



Puree the pumpkin with a stick blender or food processor then spread it on to a dehydrator tray 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick using plastic wrap or parchment paper to line the tray.



Dehydrate pumpkin at 120 degrees for a day or two. I look to reach and overshoot the fruit leather stage and continue dehydrating until I reach the crispy stage.



Next, I remove the pumpkin, break it up into flakes and add it to a food processor. I then pulse the pumpkin in the food processor until it processes down to a granular powder.


This powder makes efficient use of storage space, can be easily re-hydrated as pumpkin puree to make pie, baby food, can be added directly to sweet dough or bread for pumpkin rolls and bread, and it can be added directly to smoothies for great pumpkin smoothies.



Roasting and Drying Pumpkin Seed

Instructions on drying and roasting pumpkin seeds from USDA are as follows: Drying seeds and roasting seeds are two different processes. To dry, carefully wash pumpkin seeds to remove the clinging fibrous pumpkin tissue. Pumpkin seeds can be dried in the sun, in an electric dehydrator at 115-120°F for 1 to 2 hours, or in an oven on a very low, warm temperature only, for 3 to 4 hours. Stir them frequently to avoid scorching. Dried seeds should not be stored with any moisture left in them.

To roast the seeds, take dried pumpkin seeds, toss with oil and/or salt and roast in a preheated oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes.

The only tweak I make to the above instructions is that I like to soak my pumpkin seeds in salt water prior to drying so that I have a nice salted snack. Or you can air dry them and save them for seed for next year. Regardless of how to choose to enjoy your pumpkin seed keep in mind it is a nice protein rich, heart healthy snack.



Please note: There are many articles on the internet on processing pumpkin, any similarities are merely coincidental. 


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Winter Garden Do’s and Don’ts

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Winter Garden Do’s and Don’ts

Bad news: Your green thumb may not be so green. Perhaps, surprisingly, gardens can pose major environmental hazards. No matter how beautiful your landscape, if it’s not grown with care, attention and sustainable practices, you could be causing more harm than good to your local ecosystems. The winter season can be especially problematic, because – especially in colder regions – growers often adopt wasteful practices to accommodate the chilly weather.


Environmental Concerns

Per acre, homeowners use 10 times more chemical pesticides and fertilizers than farmers use on commercial farmland. When it rains, chemical runoff affects surrounding lakes and streams. It can also seep into local groundwater and drinking wells.

In addition to harming local wildlife habitats and waterways, contaminated drinking water can cause significant health problems in young children, seniors and other people with compromised immune systems.

Homeowners are also notorious for wasting water, often using automatic sprinklers to water their lawns and gardens. Many people also pollute the air with gasoline-powered lawnmowers and other devices. In one hour, a two-cycle engine lawnmower emits the same amount of exhaust as a car driven 350 miles.

While this may not seem like a lot of damage on an individual level, multiply it by the number of households in your neighborhood, and then by the households in your town. The problem adds up pretty quickly.


What Is Sustainability?

In popular culture, environmentalist buzzwords have almost become interchangeable – but in practical terms, they are actually completely different. Here’s a breakdown of some words you may have heard.

  • Organic. Organic fruits and vegetables are grown without the use of GMOs or any artificial pesticides or fertilizers. It is not a synonym for sustainable. Organic standards as designated by the USDA are complex, and some large-scale organic agricultural operations have garnered criticism for lack of sustainability.
  • Local. Local foods are foods grown within a given radius, but the definition changes according to institution and individual. Anywhere from a few miles to a few hundred miles can be considered local, depending on whom you ask.
  • Seasonal. Seasonal foods are grown and harvested on a relatively natural timeline, and then eaten when they are ripe. They are not usually preserved or transported long distances.
  • Sustainable. Perhaps the most nebulous of these definitions, sustainability refers to some combination of all of the above. In its essence, sustainable gardening means that the nutrients removed from the soil are replenished without artificial input, like synthetic fertilizer.


Best Practices for Sustainable Wintertime Gardening

Here are some ways to lessen your impact on the environment, and even contribute positively to your local ecosystem.


  1. Prevent Soil Contamination

When it snows, melted water can carry contaminants like pesticides and fertilizers that are in your soil. Even if you don’t use these additives, soil alone can pollute lakes and streams. You can combat soil contamination by storing your soil properly. If you keep extra soil it in your garage, make sure that you have a door with a steel frame that won’t bend or crack in the bad weather. As a bonus, if you heat your garage, insulation can help cut costs over the winter months.

While garages are great for inside control, what about soil that’s outside? When considering your outdoor garden, sloped land is especially prone to runoff. Build small terraces or retaining walls to prevent soil contamination. Shrubs and ground covers at the perimeter of your garden can also help your soil from getting into water sources.


  1. Compost

Composting is a great and inexpensive way to handle natural refuse that would otherwise be sent to landfill, and it’s also a major boon to gardens. Install a homemade or store-bought bin in your garden to contain material like leaves, grass clippings and other yard wastes. Autumn leaves are a wonderful carbon-rich additive and can help offset high levels of nitrogen. Make sure you remove invasive weeds or weeds that have gone to seed, or you’ll risk introducing these problem plants into your garden later on.

Food wastes are also compostable, but you’ll need to be choosy about what you include. To avoid attracting animals or bad odors, don’t compost fatty wastes, cheese, meat products, cat litter or diseased plants. Fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells and tea bags are all good contenders for healthy backyard compost.

Turn and aerate your compost regularly. Finished compost is a natural part of the Earth’s recycling system, and it can be mixed into your soil or spread over your beds as a slow-release fertilizer.

In winter, keep your compost warm and well insulated to make sure it stays active. Additionally, keep your compost piles well covered to prevent rain or snow from falling directly on them, as too much moisture can smother the active agents. If you live in an area that gets a lot of precipitation, a compost tumbler is a great way to help your piles stay dry.


  1. Incorporate Native Plants

Plants that are local to your area are hardy and, once established, will not require fertilizer. Most native plants are perennials. With a little help, they are self-maintaining, because they reseed onsite. Exotic perennials can be adapted for your local environment, but they don’t support beneficial wildlife. Native plants house and feed predator insects, which prey on pests and mitigate the need for insecticides. They also help pollinators and butterflies to thrive.

Some invasive plants, like purple loose-strife, buck-thorn and autumn olive, are illegal in certain areas. Whether or not your area allows the cultivation of these plants, it is best avoided, as the spread of these plants is extraordinarily problematic across the country.

As you consider your gardening plans for the winter, take a look at the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map to determine the average minimum temperature for your area. This will help you choose plants that are more likely to thrive.


  1. Water Wisely

You’ll still need to keep to a watering schedule in winter, because failing to do so may cause roots to weaken underground. When plants develop in spring and summer, they may begin growing normally, but their underdeveloped roots can cause them to fail in the long run.

However, over-watering will drown your plants and is also tremendously wasteful. The average American uses around 200 gallons of water every day – and roughly half of that amount goes toward landscaping and gardening. Only a very small portion is actually taken up by plants, and the rest is wasted as runoff.

Native plants are already adapted to your region and climate, so they don’t require much – if any – supplemental watering. Perennial flowers have deeper-growing roots than annuals, so they do a better job of conserving water. A shallow layer of wood chip mulch can help all your plants reduce storm runoff and prevent evaporation.


Final Thoughts: Sustainability Matters

Sustainable gardening does more than mitigate the negative environmental effects of a poorly managed landscape. It also has some amazing positive effects, like improving biodiversity. By growing local shrubs and trees, you’ll help the landscape provide shelter to birds, small animals and beneficial insects – all of which help reduce pest outbreaks.


Megan Wild writes about home gardening, and is slowly, but surely turning her “brown thumb” more green with each passing day. You can find more of her work at Your Wild Home.


This article first appeared on American Preppers Network and may be copied under the following creative commons license.  All links and images including the CC logo must remain intact.

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