6 Simple Ways To Save Money On Your Vegetable Garden This Year

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6 Simple Ways To Save Money On Your Vegetable Garden This Year

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Growing your own vegetables is a great way to have fresh produce available at any time — and also to save money. Sometimes, though, even growing your own food can get too pricey.

Here are seven ways to make sure you’re getting the best value from your vegetable garden this year.

1. Save the seeds.

Initially when you were planning your garden for the first year, you might have had to purchase all of the seeds. But once you have a season or two under your belt, you should start saving the seeds for the next season.

2. Find a seed swap.

There likely are people in your community growing plants you aren’t currently growing – plants that you’d like to grow. And, of course, the vegetables you grow will have a ton of seeds in them — and you don’t need all of them. So share them around! If you can’t find a seed swap in your community, then put the word out there to start one; you might get more interest than you think.

3. Plan ahead/preserve.

If you know what you want to grow ahead of time, it will be easier to ensure there’s little to no waste.

The All-Natural Fertilizer That Doubles Your Garden Yield!

By planning what’s growing in your garden, you can prepare the space needed and know (approximately) how much will be growing. That way, you will be prepared to “put up” all of those vegetables without them going to waste.

4. Sell or trade extra produce.

You might have extra produce due to a great growing season, or maybe you planned it that way. But either way, you need to do something with that extra food. With the extra produce you have, you could team up and trade with others to gain fresh, local produce you didn’t grow in your garden. You even could look into selling the extra vegetables at a local farmer’s market.

5. Make your own compost.

Compost is an important part of successfully growing produce, but it can get expensive depending on the size of your garden and what you are growing. With this in mind, it makes sense to see if you can grow it yourself. All of the scraps and skins of other produce can go into a composting bin. Even if you don’t have a huge backyard or area to make compost, there are compost tumblers you can purchase.

6. Feed your plants scraps.

One of the greatest sources of nutrients for your plants comes from your very own kitchen. For example, the leftover water from cooking and boiling vegetables is rich in nutrients. Most people will dump this right down the drain, but using it to water your plants is a great way to help them grow. Just make sure the water is completely cool before pouring it on your plants.

What gardening advice would you add? Share it in the section below: 

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

White (Ghost) Pumpkins: Care, Types, and Growing Tips

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The post White (Ghost) Pumpkins: Care, Types, and Growing Tips is by
Kevin and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

All right, I’ll ‘fess up…I like a good shortcut. Something that can save me time and energy is guaranteed to make me smile.Take for example the white ghost pumpkin. White pumpkins can be made into a jack o’lantern with a ghostly twist using a few strokes of a knife or paintbrush, then turned into a […]

The post White (Ghost) Pumpkins: Care, Types, and Growing Tips is by
Kevin and appeared first on Epic Gardening, the best urban gardening, hydroponic gardening, and aquaponic gardening blog.

3 Space-Saving Ways To Grow Vegetables Indoors

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3 Space-Saving Ways To Grow Vegetables Indoors

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Sure, the idea of gardening indoors during the winter is appealing, but how practical is it, really? Even putting aside things like calculating the wattage of grow lights and researching the best seed varieties for indoor gardening, how do you find space? Where do you put enough plants to get a meaningful harvest?

If you have a basement or other unused space like a spare bedroom, you could certainly set up shop there. But not all of us have the space to spare. Plus, there are benefits to being surrounded by greenery. Numerous studies show that being in the presence of plants reduces blood pressure, anxiety, the effects of stress, and feelings of fatigue.

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

Whether you have existing free space or not, it’s worth exploring ways to fill the nooks and crannies of your everyday living areas with lush-producing plants.

1. Hanging baskets

Tomatoes, peas, beans, cucumbers, salad greens, some herbs, and strawberries grow well in hanging baskets, as long as you keep these tips in mind:

  • Bigger baskets give your plants room to flourish. Choose baskets that are at least 12 inches deep and that have a minimum diameter of six inches.
  • Keep the soil light by buying commercial potting mixes and working in some perlite or vermiculite before planting.
  • Research cultivars to determine the best ones for indoor gardening, and while you’re at it, make a note of how much sunlight each one requires. Oftentimes, a sunny southern window will provide enough light, but it’s easy enough to supplement natural light with a clamp-on grow light if needed.
  • Most vegetable plants thrive in temperatures that range from 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. While peas can tolerate light frosts, position other producing plants away from drafty doors and windows.

2. Vertical growing spaces

3 Space-Saving Ways To Grow Vegetables Indoors

Image source: Instructables

Create vertical growing spaces for smaller compact plants like herbs and salad greens. Install fixtures against your existing walls and maximize your growing space with ideas like these:

  • Fabric wall pockets, similar to over-the-door shoe holders, are super easy to install and use. Choose ones that are designed for indoor gardening, since they are made with waterproof fabric and/or water reservoirs to protect your walls.
  • For a rustic look, use stainless steel hose clamps to attach mason jars or other small vessels (like mini galvanized pails) to a length of board.
  • Build a large, simple frame out of 1x4s, and install cleats on the inner sides. Stack rectangular plastic balcony box planters on the cleats for a picturesque — and highly practical — wall planter.
  • A prefab shelving unit provides not just ample vertical growing space but a place to permanently install a grow light system, too.

3. Plants with small footprints

With only a little bit of space, potato plants provide large yields. Potatoes are easy to grow indoors, and can be planted in any tall container, such as a five-gallon pail, plastic tote box, waste bin, or even a large bag, such as a chicken feed, fertilizer or garbage bag. Additionally, growing potatoes in straw keeps the container light and easy to move. Although the base of the container needs to be covered with small gravel and a few inches of topsoil, once the potato eyes are planted in the soil, the rest of the container can be filled with straw. Start with about four to six inches of straw, and when the plants start peeking out, top up the straw to encourage the plant to keep growing. Late-season cultivars work best because they will continue to set tubers as the plants grow taller, unlike early-season potatoes, which set tubers only once.

When planning your indoor garden, think outside the traditional floor-bound pot, and find ways to fill the nooks and crannies of your home with edible plants. Not only will you harness the health and environmental benefits of growing your own food, but your home will be lush and vibrant.

How do you maximize your indoor gardening space? Share your tips in the comment section below:

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

7 Things To Do Right Now To Get Ready For a Fabulous Summer Garden

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summer gardenHold on to your hat! Spring and it’s warmer cousin, summer, are just around the corner. Yes, even if you’re looking out the window at piles of crystalline, white snow — believe! One day soon, the days will lengthen and your summer garden will become just as real as those freezing temperatures!

Seed companies from companies like Seed Savers, Territorial Seed Company, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds have their catalogs at the ready. Be sure to request them now before supplies run low. Here’s a comprehensive list of seed companies to peruse.

Even before the catalogs arrive, though, there are a number of actions you can take right now to get that summer garden ready before the spring thaw.

1.  Improve your soil, if it needs it.

Marjory Wildcraft of The Grow Network, says that conditioning your soil is one of the first thing any gardener should do. Keep in mind that soil composition can change over time and should be re-evaluated every so often.

Our garden was growing tomatoes non-stop, even throughout the winter, when suddenly everything pretty much died. We learned, later, that our soil had accumulated too much nitrogen and had to back up several steps to make some adjustments. You might need to:

  • Have your soil tested by your local extension office.
  • Mix compost in with the soil you now have.
  • Add amendments, per instructions from extension office or local growers.

This article outlines even more mistakes a backyard gardener can make on her way to developing a healthy, productive garden.

2.  Push your composting into high gear!

Make sure everyone in the family knows what can and cannot be added to compost and place “compost catchers” near the kitchen sink and anywhere else food is prepared. As explained in this article, you really can compost through the winter.

Get the kids busy shredding newspaper and old mail (remove plastic windows in envelopes before shredding). Visit a nearby coffee house and ask for their old coffee grinds. Ask neighbors for grass clippings, piles of old leaves, and vegetable peelings. If it’s too cold outside to venture out to a compost pile, keep a rolling compost bin like this one on the patio, just outside the back door, or in an outbuilding. You can always move it when warmer temperatures arrive.

3.  Research what grows best in your area and microclimate.

If you’re not sure what to plant and when, visit a farmer’s market and talk to the pros or search on the internet for local gardening blogs.

Out of curiosity, I did a search for “Phoenix garden blog” and came up with 28,900,000 results. OK, most of those didn’t have the information I was looking for, but the way I figure it, is that if someone cares enough to write about their gardening efforts, they probably have some pretty good information and tips to share!

Local nurseries (probably not the big box store nurseries) will likely have good advice about what grows best in your climate. Remember that many of us live in micro-climates, and our backyards may have more than one microclimate, which affects what we can grow and when it should be planted and  harvested.

4.  Check your watering system.

Replace any missing or damaged valves or hoses. There’s nothing quite like spending some money on seeds and/or seedlings, amassing a good amount of quality compost, and then coming out one day to discover that your plants are nearly dead from an unexpected heat wave.

This happened to us last June, and it was so disappointing. If your garden depends on a watering system, this is an area that can’t be neglected.

5.  Think about what you like to eat a lot of.

There’s no point whatsoever in planting lima beans if no one, and I mean no one, in the family will eat them! Once you have a list of what you and your family enjoy eating, check with gardening blogs, farmers, local nurseries, and planting calendars and schedule planting dates.

Take time to do your research. You’ll find that some carrots, for example, grow poorly in your soil and climate but there are other varieties that will thrive. I learned that in the Phoenix desert, I needed to grow a variety of carrot that produced short, stubby carrots that loved hot weather and the type of soil in our raised beds.

By the way of a bonus tip, winter is a great time for building and preparing your raised beds. Here are reasons why these are a great way to garden.

6.  If your planting season is still a month or more away, solarize your garden area.

This is a very easy thing to do, and I wish I had done this last month. It’s a simple way to rid your garden area of weeds.

Water your garden area very, very well and cover it with a huge sheet of clear plastic. I’ve seen some gardeners use black plastic, but this site recommends otherwise.

Weight the plastic down around the edges to make sure that it doesn’t fly away, even in a good sized gust. Wait for 4-6 weeks. This allows the weeds to sprout, thinking, “Yaaay! We can begin adding hours of backbreaking work to this poor gardener’s week!” However, the joke is on them because once the seeds have sprouted, they will quickly die, either from the heat beneath the plastic or from being smothered with no air or sunlight.

Some seeds won’t sprout at all but will still die from being overheated.

How lovely to enjoy a gardening season with very few weeds to spoil the fun!

7.  While you’re messing around with your soil and garden area, check for earthworms.

I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover a nice, healthy assortment of worms in our herb garden that I didn’t realize were there.

If your garden area doesn’t seem to have worms, they can be purchased and added to both your garden and your compost pile. As long as your compost bin is in a sheltered area and safe from freezing, those earthworms will do their part in getting the compost ready, and if you live in an area that doesn’t freeze, the worms will be safe in the ground.

summer garden

Updated January 14, 2017.

Survival Gardening: How To Plan Your Low Water Garden

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Low Water Gardening Droughts are becoming more common. The impact of droughts on food production is very real. After all, plants need water to grow. But, you don’t always need a ton of water to grow food. That’s where low-water crops come in. They can produce food for your family to eat without taking nearly as much water.

If you don’t have a large water stockpile, or you are concerned about a coming drought, it might be time for you to switch to a low-water garden.

Low-water gardens are designed to receive significantly less water than a traditional one. The soil, coverings, and seeds are all meant to work together to minimize your water needs.

Also known as dry farming, this method is a return to the roots of agriculture for many locations. Before dams and irrigation innovations, farmers didn’t have the access to water. They planted, gave an initial soaking, and then let the plants tend to fetching water for themselves.

Winter is a great time to plan your low-water garden. But, no matter the season, here are some essentials to consider when working on this type of garden.

The Soil Is Essential

The quality of soil in your garden will help stretch the length of time between watering sessions. You’ll want plenty of compost and organic material in your soil.

This will help absorb water and slowly release it. You’ll also want some coarse sand in your soil. Sand helps draw in any moisture that does fall, so you’ll maximize the benefit of rain.

Clay is another component of low-water garden soil. The clay will hold the water, and slowly give it to the plants’ root systems.

You’ll want to thoroughly mix your soil, incorporating all the elements evenly. That way all your plants will grow well. Loose soil is recommended for this type of gardening, so tilling your soil to a depth of four to six inches will help.

Unfortunately, making the exact soil combination that you need for your climate will take time. There isn’t one perfect formula that’ll work everywhere.

Set up highly nutritious soil for your plants! Get your A to Z guide on survival gardening!

You Can’t Skip the Mulch

In a low-water garden, mulch isn’t just a suggestion. It’s essential. You need this soil covering to ensure the water stays where it belongs.

Without mulch, you’ll lose precious water to run-off. Evaporation will also be a problem.

A good layer of organic mulch prevents both of those from occurring. It’ll keep the water around the plants longer, and allow it to soak deeply into the soil.

Mulch

What Plants to Choose

When picking plants, be sure to check out the hardiness zone recommendations so you don’t plant something that won’t grow well in your area. There are a variety of crops to pick from that don’t take as much water.

You can also have a long-term vision when creating a low-water garden. If you have plenty of water now, you can plant some perennials that will take water initially. Once those plants are established, their water needs drop substantially.

For both long and short term planning, here are some crops to consider:

Grains

If a drought happens, you won’t be able to depend on large grain producers to keep on growing. Even if you don’t regularly plant grains, you’ll want to have some low-water seeds stored on hand. That way you have them when you need them.

A bonus with these grains is they’re easier to harvest than wheat. Many take minimal processing before being ready to eat. These grains would be a good addition to your low-water garden crops:

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Field Corn

Vegetables

Vegetables are a great way to add variety and nutrients to your diet. Here are some excellent options for a low-water garden.

  • Jerusalem artichoke (this takes more water the first year, but once it’s established it needs very little.)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Swiss chard
  • Peppers
  • Asparagus (another long-term crop)
  • Drought tolerant zucchini

Fruits

To add some natural sweetness to your diet, be sure to include some fruits in your low-water garden. Here are some plants that grow well with little water.

  • Watermelon
  • Figs
  • Pomegranates
  • Most pit fruit trees (once established)
  • Rhubarb (once established)

Legumes

Many legumes don’t require much water. Consider adding these to your garden:

  • Black eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Tepary beans

Think Native

If you head to a natural area nearby, what plants are you going to see thriving? Chances are many of those are wild edibles. Take time to learn about plants native to your region.

Some of the plants considered weeds by many will be the perfect purposeful addition to your low-water garden. After all, no one is out in the woods irrigating the weeds. They just grow.

If you can’t find any seeds for these plants, try to dig up some established ones and transplant them. That way you’ll get a variety that grows well in your area.

You might even have a separate area where you encourage these plants to grow. That way they don’t take over your dedicated garden space. That will also help spread out your gardening efforts and minimize your risk of losing everything from theft. Hidden food sources are wonderful!

  • Burdock
  • Dandelions
  • Lamb’s quarter
  • Stinging nettles
  • Plantain

Shopping for Seeds

When selecting varieties, you’ll want to go with heirloom seeds. Many modern versions of these plants have been altered and turned into very needy seeds. This is especially true with corn.

Back in the day, irrigation options were very limited. Plants often didn’t get much water unless it rained. You want plants that survived then—not the needy variations humans have turned those plants into.

The one exception would be plants that have been selectively bred for dry-land planting. You can often find drought-resistant varieties of many of your favorites.

Another tip is to plant mini-varieties of the plants you most want to grow. For instance, it takes much less water to grow a cherry tomato than it does a beefsteak. Planting a few of your favorite water-loving plants in the mini-form will help you keep from feeling deprived with your garden.

Save Your Seeds

By saving your own seeds each year, you’ll be selecting varieties that did the best in your soil. Over time, your seeds will be essential to increasing your yield. They are locally adapted plants that thrive in your garden.

Get your step-by-step instructions on how to plant over 125 plants inside your garden!

Companion Planting

The Native Americans knew much about growing food. One method they used is known as the three sisters. This method of companion planting grouped plants together to maximize their yield.

Corn, beans, and squash were the original three sisters. These crops work together in harmony. The beans give nitrogen to the soil, which the corn and squash need. The beans grow up on the tall corn stalks, reducing the need for additional scaffolding.

Finally, the low-lying squash leaves protect the soil from the sun’s rays and help ensure water doesn’t run-off.

Planting companion crops will also help you plant more in a smaller space. This is essential if you’re just getting your low-water garden established and don’t have much soil built up.

Companion planting

 

Give Plants Space

Because your dry land plants will need to establish a deep root system, you can’t plant individual plants or companion groupings as closely together as you do in a traditional garden. That means your yield won’t be the same.

When to Plant

Your soil needs to accumulate the winter moisture. This built-in reserve is what will get your plants through until harvest.

If you wait too long to plant, your soil will be too dry. Conversely, if you plant too early you risk a killing frost freezing your garden.

When you plant your seeds, you want the soil to be nice and moist. Keep an eye on both the weather and the soil. You’ll want to plant after the last killing frost, but before the daytime temperatures get so high that they dry up your soil.

Once planted, you need to seal in the moisture in the ground by applying a good layer of mulch. Have your mulch on hand and ready to go before you plant.

Caring for Your Low-Water Garden

Low-water gardens are easy to care for once they’re planted.  You don’t want to water most of them, because you’ll risk cracking the dry soil. Cracked soil loses moisture much faster than soil that isn’t cracked.

Any watering that you do for your long-term plants that are just getting established needs to be done gently. You can’t turn a hose on full-blast. Rather, gently water the soil around the plant instead of the plant itself.

You don’t want to overwater any of the low-water varieties you are planting. Plants that don’t get watered will grow a deeper root system than ones that are frequently watered. You want to start your plants off trying to seek water from the ground.

Besides doing less watering, low-moisture gardens bring a couple of other benefits. They take much less time than a traditional garden.

For instance, you’ll notice that you won’t get as many weeds in a low-water situation once your plants are up. There just won’t be enough water for them to grow.

But, you’ll want to pluck out any weeds that do creep in. You’ll also want to be diligent about weeding as your plants are just sprouting. That way weeds aren’t competing with your plants for resources.

Many garden pests thrive in moist environments. They’ll often leave your dry land crops alone. So you’ll have fewer to deal with.

You might notice your plants starting to shrivel up before harvest. The leaves may turn brown and you might see spots. These are typical signs in a low-water garden, and they don’t necessarily mean you’re going to lose your harvest.

Are you a dry farmer?

What tips can you add to help others get started in this style of gardening? It’s a different approach to growing food, and everyone can benefit from you sharing your knowledge.

Start growing your survival garden that will keep you and your family fed for life!  

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia. 

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Small Spaces Survival: Growing Food Upside Down

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One of the most basic supplies that you’ll need in the event that SHTF is food, but living in an apartment or small area can make it tough to grow your own.

You can build a standard vertical garden, and you can do a terrarium, but it may seem that you don’t have many options.

That is, unless you’re willing to think outside the box and turn traditional gardening upside down! Literally!

What is an Upside Down Garden?

I’m sure you never saw your granny growing her tomatoes upside down while lettuce was growing above it, but that’s just because she never thought of it. Upside down gardening is exactly what it sounds like – you grow your plants out of the bottom of the planter instead of the top. Think of it as doubling your vertical gardening space.

Maybe you’ve seen the kits for these at your local superstore or garden center, but those are almost exclusively for tomatoes.

This space-saving food solution lasts for years with just 10 minutes of work per day.

There are several other fruits, veggies, and herbs that grow great in this manner, which means that you can nearly double your growing space without taking up any extra square feet!

Video first seen Yewtoobnube’s channel

In addition to practically doubling your growing opportunities without eating up more space, growing plants upside down had a couple of other advantages. First, the plants aren’t touching the ground so you don’t have to worry so much about mold, rot, or insect infestation.

Upside down plants also grow more vigorously, they’re easier to water, and you don’t have to break your back weeding them or tilling a garden. Finally, the fruits, veggies, and herbs are easier to access. Just pluck them off the plant. No bending, twisting, or kneeling. All in all, they have all of the same benefits of standard container gardening and then some.

Upside down garden

What Plants Grow Well Upside Down?

Though it seems weird to think of any plant growing upside down, just about any plant that has a sturdy root system and a decent-sized stem will do well. Here are some of the best:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Peppers
  • Strawberries (ever-bearing plants are great!)
  • Eggplants
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Pole Beans
  • Bush Beans
  • Herbs with a Sturdy Stalk (Basil, Parsley, Lemon Verbena, etc.)
  • Parsley
  • Creeping Herbs (Oregano, Thyme, etc.)

Blueberries can also be grown upside down, but they have some specific growing requirements, so make sure your zone meets these, or make arrangements to artificially emulate their needs.

The only thing that you need to consider is weight of the produce. Larger varieties of eggplants and peppers may need to be picked when they’re still a bit small to keep them from breaking off the plant. Other than that, you’ll be surprised at how well most plants do upside down.

Compatible Plants for the Top

Since the name of the game is maximizing growing space, don’t waste all that real estate up top. You can grow lettuce, peppers, herbs, onions, garlic and any other plant that isn’t going to grow far enough over the sides that they become entangled with their upside down planter mates. This is something that you may just want to play with.

Oh, and if you aren’t desperate for edible plant space, you can always grow flowers such as petunias in the top to make the entire display even more beautiful.

How do I Grow an Upside Down Garden?

Excellent question. There are many different designs that you can choose from but most of them are extremely simple. You can even do an internet search and make your own from burlap bags, hanging baskets, terra cotta pots, or even plastic buckets in a size suitable to the plant. The only requirement is that container is large enough and strong enough to support the weight of the dirt and the full-grown plant.

Now, you may be thinking, “How in the world do I start a plant upside down?” Another great question. You can’t use seeds – you have to use seedlings of small plants.

To get started, you need to drill a hole or holes in the bottom of your container. Depending on the size of the plant or the container, you may be able to plant more than on plant per container. Just keep in mind the size of the roots and of the mature plant.

To grow tomatoes, cucumbers, and other large plants in a 3 or 5 gallon bucket, drill a two inch hole in the middle of the bucket. For smaller plants such as strawberries, you can put smaller holes (1 1/2 inches in diameter or so) every few inches around the bottom of the bucket. If you’re using long planters, you can plant tomatoes et al. every 12 inches or so. When you’re drilling your holes, keep in mind the size of your seedlings or young plants.

You really want to choose plants that will fit safely through a hole no bigger than 2 inches because there’s this thing called gravity that will pull your roots and soil through the hole. You can combat this fairly easily, but only if you keep the hole small.

To do that, you’ll need something that will fit across the hole to keep your plant secure until its roots are large enough to do the job. Whatever you use will also help keep the dirt from washing out through the hole when you water it.

I chose to use scraps of denim from a pair of jeans that I was going to throw away, but you can also use landscaping fabric, newspaper, a coffee filter, or whatever else you have handy. Just make sure that it’s something you’d be safe drinking water through.

I lined the entire bottom of my bucket with it, but you don’t need it to be that big; just 6 inches or so in diameter so that there’s enough extra fabric for the dirt to hold in place. Cut a 2-inch (max) slit in the fabric and slip your plant through it so that it divides the plant from the roots. Keep the slit as small as possible for maximum performance.

Next, gently push your plant through the hole in the bucket and adjust it so that the roots are completely confined within the bucket. Push your fabric down against the bottom of the bucket, then fill the container to within a couple of inches of the top with soil and compost.

Video first seen on subtac

What to Grow in the Top of your Planter

If your goal is to maximize your growing space, this is the most important part of all because you still have all of that dirt real estate at the top of the bucket or planter. There are only two things that you need to consider here when you’re deciding what to plant on top: watering needs and root size. Oh, and compatibility.

Most plants grow well together, but there are a few that just won’t play nice. For example, garlic onions (all varieties, including shallots) stunt the growth of all types of beans and peas. Onions and mint shouldn’t be grown with asparagus. Cucumbers are mean to fresh herbs. Pole beans and mustard don’t work well with beets. Cabbage of all varieties inhibits strawberries. This isn’t an inclusive list, but it’s a start.

Research before you plant so that you know if your plants are compatible and if they share similar watering and lighting needs. Also, make sure that they don’t have such long roots that they get root-bound. You can avoid that by using the right size container and leaving plenty of space for the roots to spread from both top and bottom.

Growing food upside down is a great solution for the problem of growing food in small spaces. It’s also great for people who have difficulty bending, squatting, or performing other physical activities required by traditional gardens. All you really need to do is water and occasionally fertilize if necessary. Voila!

One of the benefits that I enjoy the most is that if you hang these around your porch, they provide natural, beautiful shade and privacy.

Grow your own food, save space, and you don’t even need a yard!

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia. 

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10 TO DOs In Winter For Your Survival Garden

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Winter Gardening Dos

You’ve worked hard to improve your soil, pick your seeds, and plant your survival garden. But now temperatures are dropping. Winter is here.

You don’t want all of your gardening efforts to be wasted during this harsh season. There are steps you can take to maintain and protect your survival garden this winter.

Taking care of your garden and orchard in the winter takes a little work, but it’ll be worth it in the spring when your overwintered plants are still alive.

You’ll have a head start on next spring’s planting, and you will be able to provide more food for your family.

Keep a close eye on the temperature during the winter months—the lower the temperatures, the more work you’ll have to do.

1. Care for Perennial Plants

If you’ve planted perennials like asparagus or rhubarb in your garden, you’ll be overwintering some plants. These will need protection from the freezing weather.

Once the ground has gotten cold, ensure that you’ve cut back these plants. Then cover them with four or five inches of a natural mulch. You can use:

  • Straw
  • Hay
  • Leaves
  • Wood that’s been chipped
  • Shredded pine needles

The mulch will protect your plants from the temperatures that can change rapidly in winter. You don’t want your plants to constantly freeze and thaw throughout the winter. Mulch helps keep their temperature more constant.

It also provides warmth for the roots. By protecting the roots of your plants from freezing, you’ll give them a much better chance of winter survival.

In addition to protecting your plants, the mulch will also provide nutrients to your soil. Just be sure to uncover your plants when spring comes. Then, you’ll want the mulch to be around the plants instead of on-top of them.

You’ll also need to continue watering your plants if you aren’t getting precipitation regularly. While plants don’t need as much water in the cooler temperatures, they do need some. Plan on a deep watering session at least once a week if the ground has begun to thaw and you don’t have a snowpack.

2. Start Your Seedlings

If your growing season is short, you’ll want to maximize it by starting your plants indoors this winter.  Before planting, you’ll want to ensure you have containers that drain well and good soil.

You’ll want to time this step right so your seedlings can be transported directly to your garden when they’re the right size. If you have gardening neighbors, ask them for advice on when to start plants. Otherwise you can check with your county extension agencies or online resources.

Start Your Survival Garden And Never Worry About Food Again – Read More! 

3. Keep Pests Away

Winter’s freeze doesn’t eliminate the threat of pests to your garden. Some insects, such as the tomato hornworm and squash vine borer, burrow underground for the cold season. If you had a pest problem before winter, you might find yourself with an even bigger one come spring.

One strategy to eliminate these underground pests is to till your garden before the hard freeze, but after small freezes. Turning over your soil will expose the pests to the cold and decrease their survival odds.

Bugs aren’t the only pests you’ll encounter in the winter. Hungry deer and rabbits will be searching for anything they can find when the snow is covering what they normally eat. Make sure your garden fence is solid to protect your overwintered plants.

If you have an orchard, you’ll also want to have wire around the base of the trees. This will keep animals from gnawing on the trunk. This video shows an easy way to keep animals away from your trees with stakes and wire:

Video first seen on The Do It Yourself World.

4. Know Your Plants’ Hardiness Level

Not all plants can withstand the same levels of cold. Be sure you know the hardiness for your plants and trees. If the weather in your area drops lower than it typically does, you may need to take additional action.

When planting with overwintering in mind, always select hardy plants for your zone. You should know when your typical first frost occurs, and how low the average temperatures are when selecting seeds.

If colder than usual weather is predicted, ensure your plants have a thick layer of mulch. New plants and trees will need more protection than established ones.

Hardiness zone map

5. Protect Your Orchard

Trees can be vulnerable to freezing temperatures, especially if they’re not very hardy. Water that’s in the tree can freeze, causing limbs to break off and other damage. Here are some ways to keep your orchard trees from freezing this winter:

  • String some of the big, old-fashioned, non-LED Christmas lights through the branches. Though they let just a tiny bit of heat, it’s enough to protect from a light freeze.
  • Place a blanket around your tree. This obviously works best for small trees.
  • Don’t fertilize in the winter. This extra food boost will encourage your trees to grow, which is not what you want happening in the winter. Those new shoots will be extremely susceptible to damage.
  • Apply a frost cloth to your trees.
  • Mound the soil up high against the base of the tree.
  • Light a fire on the ground nearby to help warm it up and provide heat to the branches. You can save what you trim each spring to burn over the winter.

If you wrap or bank the trunk of your trees, be on the lookout for insect infestation. The bugs like a warm place to live as well.

A buildup of snow can also cause problems with trees. If you notice that the branches are bowing under the weight of the snow, help them out by knocking the snow off. This will keep your branches from breaking off.

6. Bring Plants Indoors

Some plants that don’t respond well to freezing temperatures can be dug up and potted for the winter. Just bring the pots inside, and care for them by providing water.

Here are some plants you can bring indoors for the winter:

  • Banana plants
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Lavender

You can also dig up starts from other plants, and bring the shoots indoors. But, you’ll want to do that before the deep freeze occurs to help avoid transplant shock.

Winter is also a great time to start a small garden indoors. You can grow a variety of food indoors, which will help lower your winter grocery bill and provide fresh, local produce to enjoy. Just remember to keep an eye on your indoor garden and keep it in a room of your house that isn’t going to freeze.

7. Inspect & Organize

Since you won’t be using your gardening tools as often this winter, take time now to inspect them all. Your goal is to make your life easier once you jump into the gardening season again.

Sharpen your pruners, hoes, and any other tools you use with blades. Repair or replace any handles that have cracked.

Also, take time to walk your fence and make any repairs that are needed. If deer were a problem, consider adding another layer to increase the height of your fence.

Organize your garden supplies and make note of anything you’re running low on. Now is a good time to reorder supplies so you have them on hand when spring comes along.

8. Keep Your Compost Going

You’ll want compost in the spring to help get your garden growing again. If your compost pile is exposed to the elements, you can use a tarp to cover it. This will help keep the center warm and encourage the organisms to continue working.

The cover will also keep your compost from getting too wet. Too much moisture isn’t good for your pile.

You can save your food scraps throughout the winter to ensure your pile continues to grow. If you’re letting your compost pile go dormant for the winter, you might consider starting a small secondary pile. Just remember to keep adding carbon.

Video first seen on Alberta Urban Garden Simple Organic and Sustainable

9. Plan for Next Year

Winter is the perfect time for planning your next year’s garden. Take time to sketch out your current garden’s layout so you can remember where each crop was planted. This will help you more efficiently plan crop rotation.

You can use the cold months to study new gardening techniques, research the best varieties for your area, and reflect on last year’s harvest. There’s always something to learn when it comes to gardening, so pick up some reading material at the library, and enjoy planning your garden.

10. Harvest Edibles

If you’re overwintering carrots, onions, cabbage, or other plants that will continue to produce in your climate, be sure to harvest the edibles. There’s nothing like farm fresh produce in the middle of winter.

For plants that grow underground, the freeze will eventually kill off the tops. This makes your edibles less visible. Be sure to mark where these plants are located so you don’t forget when your garden is covered with snow.

If you typically enjoy milder winters, the number of edibles you can grow significantly increases. You can also extend your growing season with cold frames or greenhouses. Remember to water the plants you have in there, and keep weeds at bay.

This way  you can have your own survival garden no matter the season. Click the banner below and learn how to grow an endless supply of nutritious food in your backyard with no effort and in extreme conditions.

Venezuela is in shambles. People were unprepared. How will you feed your family? 

This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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How To Grow Tomatoes, Outdoors, During Winter

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Winter weather is here, which means it’s time to put away your garden tools and daydream about spring and warmer weather … right? Well, not really. Winter is a great time to continue gardening, as you can grow and harvest dozens of types of vegetables – including certain varieties of tomatoes – outdoors. But you have to know what you’re doing.

Winter gardening is the topic of this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio, as we talk to Caleb Warnock, one of the nation’s foremost experts on the subject and whose Backyard Winter Gardening book is among the best resources on the subject.

After listening to him for five minutes, you’ll understand why people pay to hear him teach.


Caleb shares with us his three favorite wintering gardening methods, and he also tells us:

  • How any homesteader, no matter the location, can grow vegetables during winter.
  • Which vegetable varieties can deliver a harvest within one month.
  • How to grow tomatoes outside during winter – without a greenhouse — and which varieties work best.
  • Which popular winter gardening method he doesn’t

Caleb lives in the foothills of Utah’s mountains; when we spoke with him he had a foot of snow on the ground. In other words, if he can grow food within his frigid climate, then pretty much anyone can … anywhere.

If you have a green thumb and want to try something new this winter, then this week’s show is for you!

The Space-Saving, ‘Upside-Down Way’ To Grow Indoor Tomatoes This Winter

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The Space-Saving, ‘Upside-Down Way’ To Grow Indoor Tomatoes This Winter

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Indoor gardening can be a great way to have fresh vegetables year-round and satisfy your green thumb during the winter, but if you live in a small home or apartment, it can be challenging to find enough room for your plants. One solution is to turn your indoor garden on its head – literally.

Many vegetable plants that do well indoors – including cherry tomatoes — can be grown upside down. This not only saves you space, but it can give you a visually appealing container garden, too.

Hanging gardens have been around for centuries and are ideal for those without a lot of space. While we typically think of them as being outdoors – on an apartment balcony, for example – the method works just as well indoors.

Starting Your Indoor Hanging Garden

Since you won’t want to move your plants around too much once you get them started, your first step is to find the location in your home where you’d like to grow your vegetables. Ideally, it should be an area that gets plenty of sun, such as a south-facing window. Natural lighting is best for this type of growing, as setting up grow lights can get rather awkward for a hanging garden. (Although, with the right arrangement, grow lights can work.) Also, for an upside-down hanging garden, you must use a plant that has been started; planting from seed in an upside-down pot is extremely difficult.

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

You will need a place where you can hang your containers, so you’ll either want to install sturdy hooks into the ceiling or have some kind of rack system. Whatever you choose, you will want to make sure that it can support the weight of the containers and potting soil, along with mature plants. Since some soil and water will come through the bottom of the container via watering, it is also a good idea to prepare a tray or mat underneath your hanging garden to prevent making a mess.

The next step is choosing containers suitable for the types of plants that you will be growing. Drill holes in the bottom of the containers (about 2 inches in diameter for larger containers and slightly less for smaller ones). To make the work a little easier, find a place to hang the containers while you are planting so you won’t have to flip containers around.

Choose a good potting soil that has been amended with compost. You also will need something to anchor the plant in place in the bottom of the container, such as fabric, cardboard or foam. Add a slit to this material and work the plant’s roots through the material into the container and then fill in soil around it. If you wish to optimize your space even more, you can use the top of the container to grow things such as salad greens, herbs or even radishes. Just be sure that whatever you plant in the same container has similar growing requirements (sunlight and watering needs etc.). While the initial planting tends to be a bit more labor intensive than it would be with an upright garden, many indoor gardeners find the space-saving benefits to be well worth the extra effort at the beginning.

The video below shows how to accomplish this with a kit, although most homesteaders already have the supplies they need.

Story continues below video

Now that you have your indoor hanging garden, simply care for it the same way that you would for any of your upright plants. Enjoy the unique appearance and tasty, fresh vegetables all year round!

What Can You Grow?

There are many vegetables that may be grown upside down, but here are some of the most common:

  • Tomatoes – you can grow any size tomato upside down; however, cherry tomatoes are the easiest to manage since they won’t get as heavy.
  • Peppers – whether you like them hot or sweet, you can grow just about any type of pepper in an upside-down garden.
  • Cucumbers – again, by choosing a smaller variety such as pickling cucumbers, it will be much easier. Bush cucumbers should be avoided when using an upside-down growing method.
  • Eggplants – eggplants have similar needs as tomatoes, and you can have success growing them in a hanging garden. Choose a slender Asian variety or miniatures.
  • Beans – both pole and bush beans can do well in a hanging garden.
  • Strawberries – want to add something a little sweeter to your inverted garden? Strawberries can be easily grown upside down.

If you have ever decided that indoor gardening wasn’t for your because you didn’t have enough space, then perhaps the idea of having a hanging garden might be enough to make you reconsider. You can grow a variety of produce or just start with something simple like some cherry tomatoes!

Have you ever grown an indoor hanging garden? What advice would you add?

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

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.

Survival Pharmacy: 9 Ways To Use Ginger For Your Health

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How To Use Ginger For Your Health

Ginger has been used for centuries for medicinal and culinary purposes. Though we don’t use it commonly in much American cooking, you’re likely familiar with pickled ginger when you eat sushi and it’s also becoming a popular dried and candied product.

The medicinal properties and ease of growth make ginger a plant that you should definitely be growing for your survival garden!

I’ve been growing ginger in a potted plant inside, which is the best way to grow it if you live in a small space or a region that gets cold. It doesn’t like the cold, so if you live in a cooler area, you need to grow it indoors or outdoors in pots so that you can bring it inside before the frost.

The actual growing part is easy but first, let’s clarify something. Ginger isn’t a root; it’s a rhizome. It does have roots, which are the long, hairy-looking parts that draw in moisture just like roots do for any other plant. Rhizomes are actually underground parts of the stem. They grow horizontally under the ground, with roots on the bottom. New stems grow from the top to the surface.

It’s the rhizome part that we eat, but most people refer to it as ginger root, so we’ll still do the same. Ginger rhizomes grow buds, or eyes, similar to potatoes. Those are the parts that will grow.

What Part do you Plant?

Planting ginger is similar to planting potatoes; you plant the buds that grow off of the rhizome. On a potato, we call them eyes. You can buy the rhizome at your local garden store or order from a seed store. Another option is to just allow a ginger root that you buy from the grocery store to bud, then plant it.

One problem with using one from a grocery store is that they’re often sprayed with growth inhibitors to keep them from budding while they’re on the shelf. You can soak the ginger to get as much of this off as possible, but you still may have problems getting it to bud. If you can, then go for it!

Another problem with using a store-bought one is that it may have pesticides or herbicides on it. To resolve both problems you could buy organic. It’s a bit more expensive but if you can’t find anything at your local stores, then this is a good option.

Perfect Growing Conditions

Ginger likes rich, moist soil, partial or full shade, humidity, and warm weather. The soil needs to drain well in order for the rhizomes to develop. They grow horizontally, so they’re one of the few plants that flourish in shallow containers. I live in Florida, so my soil is sandy and the weather is, of course, temperate so I could plant outside if I wanted to.

I just scoop soil right out of the ground for my dirt, then mix it half and half with compost. Since I use a pot (actually a rectangular box) and rich soil I don’t add any type of fertilizer. The plant will only grow 2-3 feet tall and it smells great.

If you plant it outside in soil that’s less than ideal, or if you get a lot of rain, give it a drink of the fertilizer or compost teaof your choice every couple of weeks or so. The reason for this is that when it rains, the water washes all the nutrients out of the soil.

Put mulch around it too. That helps keep the moisture in and it nourishes the plant as the mulch decomposes. It also helps keep out weeds because ginger is pretty delicate and other plants will plow it right over. It doesn’t like wind, either.

So … to recount, no wind, no cold, no full sun, and not too much water. Instead, it likes rich, well-draining soil, moderate moisture, and partial sun or shade.

Preparing and Planting

If your rhizome has more than one bud, you can cut it into pieces, leaving a bud on each piece, then plant them. You can also just plant the entire thing. Let the rhizomes soak overnight, then bury them 3-6 inches deep and water sparingly, just enough to moisten the soil. Some people prefer to let them sit in water until the grow roots before they plant them, but I haven’t found that to be necessary.

Best time to plant is late winter/early spring as long as you’re not planting outside in a cold zone. If you live in a tropical zone, plant it at the end of the dry season/beginning of rainy season.

You don’t need much space to plant enough ginger to get you through the year. Each rhizome will only produce a few leaves the first year and they don’t mind living in close quarters. Plant them 6-8 inches apart and they’ll be fine.

Video first seen on DIY Home and Garden.

Harvesting Ginger

This is the best part! Once your ginger has been growing for three or four months, you can trim pieces of the rhizome off of it simply by digging through the soil to the side of the plant and just nipping a piece off the end, then covering it back up. This green ginger won’t be quite as flavorful as ripe ginger, but it’s still good.

You can also wait until the end of the season and harvest the ginger when the plant starts to die off. This takes about ten months to happen. If the temperature allows (or if you’re growing inside), you can replant right away. Harvest all of the ginger, break the rhizomes apart, and separate out a few that have good buds.

Toss those back in the ground or pot and use the rest. Ginger freezes well. You can also store it for several months in a root cellar, slice it thinly and dehydrate it, candy it, or pickle it. If you dry it, you can grind it into ginger powder that is great for baking or medicinal use.

Medicinal Uses for Ginger

Now we’re down the heart of the matter – why growing ginger is a good thing for a prepper to do. The active ingredient in ginger – gingerol – is an antibiotic, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant. It’s also an anti-coagulant. There’s a reason ginger is considered a superfood!

1. Heart Disease and Stroke

Since it’s an anti-coagulant, which means it prevents your blood from clotting, it can help you avoid heart attacks and strokes. Its antioxidant properties also help fight free radicals that cause heart disease, so it’s a double whammy.

2. Stomach Upset, Heartburn, and other GI problems

Ginger has been used in holistic medicine for centuries to treat all sorts of upper gastrointestinal problems. It’s good for stomach upset, heartburn, constipation, bloating, and even morning sickness during pregnancy. That’s because it helps induce the stomach to release its contents into the small intestine.

It’s also effective at treating ulcers.

This is now officially backed by science. I actually use it to get rid of heartburn by eating a slice or two of candied ginger. You can also drink it in a tea for quick relief.

3. Motion Sickness

Though this is going to be a short section, it’s well warranted because ginger has actually been shown in at least one study to treat motion sickness, especially seasickness, more effectively than Dramamine! Ginger doesn’t just ease the nausea; it treats ALL of the symptoms: nausea, cold sweats, and dizziness.

4. Strengthens Immune System

Interestingly enough, ginger’s beneficial effect on digestion also helps your immune system because, in addition to the antioxidants, a healthy digestive tract is required for proper nutrient absorption.

Not only that, gingerol has the effect of boosting your body temperature – maybe that’s why gingerbread is so great in the winter! –which may help remove toxins that prevent your immune system from functioning properly.

5. Arthritis, Muscle Soreness, and Joint Pain

Since gingerol is an anti-inflammatory, it’s extremely effective at relieving the pain and swelling of arthritis. People with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis report noticeable relief of pain as well as increased mobility when they consume ginger regularly.

Have you had a rough workout? Eat some ginger or drink ginger tea. You’ll feel better shortly!

This isn’t just something that “people say”. It’s been quantitatively measured in studies where arthritic inflammation was measurably decreased. In other words – it works!!

About Ginger

6. Fight Staph and Strep

Again, science prevails. Recent studies have shown that ginger essential oil was more effective than traditional antibiotics at treating staph and strep infections. If nothing else, it won’t hurt to take it if you’re going to be in a hospital or round somebody who’s sick.

And if you’re sick, ginger doesn’t interact with other medications so you can’t do any harm! Oh, and other studies have shown that it’s just as effective on other types of bacteria.

7. Diabetes

This is extremely new research, but it’s big, especially since we, as preppers, don’t have any way to prepare for life without access to many life-saving medications. Insulin is one of those drugs that are absolutely critical for survival but doesn’t have an effective natural alternative – at least until (hopefully) now.

Two grams of ginger powder per day was shown to decrease resting blood sugar by 12 percent. Instead of getting really scientific here, I’m just going to give you a link to the research findings so that you can see the details and additional results.

8. Menstrual Pain

One gram of ginger powder per day works as well for many women to relieve menstrual cramps and pain as ibuprofen.

9. Enhance Brain Function and Prevent Alzheimer’s

Because of the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger, studies have shown that it can help prevent cognitive decline. It can also help prevent disorders such as Alzheimer’s, which wasn’t’ actually a surprise to me once I read the results of the diabetes study – Alzheimer’s has actually been commonly referred to in many circles in recent years as Type 3 diabetes.

You can reap any of these benefits by eating ginger raw, candied, or by making a tea with it. You can also juice it, but I’ve found that to be ineffective in a manual juicer. Even in an electric juicer, you don’t get much juice from ginger and it requires a high-power juicer because it’s so hard.

There’s also the option of making an essential oil, which isn’t as difficult as you may think.

Ginger is an amazing food that’s easy to grow, doesn’t take up much space, and has medicinal properties that could very well save lives if SHTF.

I hope that this information has helped. I seriously drink this particular Kool-Aid so I know for a fact that it works, at least for stomach problems and joint pain, so I’m happy to vouch for it from a personal standpoint. There are many other benefits – I just touched on a few of the most important ones here.

I’ve discussed the health benefits of garlic and other plants for the same reason – grow them, too!

If you’ve grown ginger or have any health benefits or personal success (or report of a tall-tale), please share it with us in the comments section below.

Knowledge is the most important survival skill. Discover how our ancestors grew, harvested and used survival plants during harsh times.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Fall Food Preservation!

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Fall Food Preservation James Walton “I Am Liberty” Listen to this show in player below! That smell is in the Its also getting colder, bacteria, flies and the like are getting slower and less prolific. On the East coast Fall is an incredible time of the year with apples to be picked, cider to be had … Continue reading Fall Food Preservation!

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6 Popular Fruits & Vegetables You Didn’t Know Could Be Preserved

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6 Popular Fruits & Vegetables You Didn’t Know Could Be Preserved

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When most people think of putting up food for winter, there are a few vegetables and fruits that immediately come to mind.

But a look through any good quality food preservation book—such as the ones published by Ball, the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or the USDA—can reveal some interesting options.

When I find myself with an overabundance of something from my garden and do not want to see it wasted at the end of the season, I am often inspired to search for creative ideas to preserve my harvest in new ways. Over the years, I have dug up a few possibilities that can surprise even some experienced home food preservationists.

Here are a few fruits and vegetables you may not have realized you can preserve:

1. Eggplant. Although there is no recommended method for canning eggplant and it is listed in the “poor to fair” category for dehydrating success, you can still enjoy your eggplant harvest all year long by freezing it. The trick is to use lemon juice in the blanch water. Add a half cup per gallon of water, process in small batches, and prepare only enough fruit for one batch at a time.

For eggplant that I plan to use for frying, I slice it one-third of an inch thick. If it is fresh from the garden and not at all overripe, I leave the skins on. Otherwise, I peel it. After blanching for 4 minutes and cooling the slices in an ice bath, I pat dry on towels and freeze in zip-top bags with wax paper between the layers.

For other uses—ratatouille, stews and casseroles—I peel the eggplant, cut it into chunks, blanch and cool in lemon water the same as with slices, spin dry in a salad spinner, and freeze in batches the right size for one recipe.

It has occurred to me that it would work well to bread it and fry it before freezing, but my garden harvest keeps me too busy for that. If you have time to do so before freezing and save yourself the trouble later, I encourage you to try it.

2. Onions and peppers. The happy surprise here is not that you can preserve them, but the fact that it is so ridiculously easy. To freeze onions, shallots and peppers of all kinds, just cut them to the size and shape in which you are most likely to use them—sliced, chopped or in wedges—put them in bags or containers, and toss them into the freezer. No blanching, no fuss. Just clean, peel, cut up and freeze. They will not be suitable for raw eating when they come out, but will be excellent for just about everything else, from casseroles to omelets to soups to stir-fries.

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They can be preserved in other ways, also. Sweet peppers can be canned plain, pickled or in a variety of relishes. Hot peppers can be pickled, made into jam, or added to hot sauce. Onions, too, can be canned in vinegar, added to relishes and chutneys, and even made into marmalade!

Onions and peppers also dry very well, resulting in excellent culinary options for those off grid or with minimal freezer space.

6 Popular Fruits & Vegetables You Didn’t Know Could Be Preserved

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3. Zucchini and summer squash. The truth is, you will never be able to achieve an exact duplicate of yummy fresh-out-of-the-garden squash. But if you cannot bear the thought of going without squash on pizzas and in frittatas and sautéed in olive oil for the winter months, try freezing some slices. Slice, blanch 3 minutes, cool in ice water, pat dry on towels, and pack in bags or containers with wax paper between the layers.

As with eggplant, you may do well to fry it first if you have the time.

You can also grate it and freeze it that way, for use in winter breads, cakes and cookies. I measure out what I need for my favorite recipes and freeze it in those quantities. It does not need to be blanched if it will be used in baked goods, where the texture of the end product does not matter, but be aware that it will become watery when thawed.

Do not can summer squash. Its texture does not allow for it to be safely canned by itself. There is an approved recipe for canning zucchini in pineapple and sugar, but the end result may not taste much like the vegetable you are trying to preserve.

4. Watermelon. Wait, what?! The books say you can freeze it, in seedless cubes or balls, either plain or packed into a container of heavy syrup. I admit I have never done this, and the reason is simple. I live far enough north that raising melons is iffy. When I do manage to raise a few successfully, I indulge in them right then and there.

The one method I have tried is watermelon rind preserves. It is a delicious way to use a part of the melon I would have thrown away anyway, and makes a nice winter treat.

Melons can be dried, but is not recommended. I know people who have done it, but because melons are almost all water, the result may not be satisfactory.

5. Greens. Canning greens is hard work, but the results taste great. If you have a pressure canner and are up for the task, canned greens are an excellent choice.

You also can blanch and freeze them, but you end up with a product that does not look anything like store-bought.

Another option for greens is to simply freeze as-is. If your intention is to use them in a way in which the texture is irrelevant, such as in a smoothie, and you will use them up within a few months, this is the way to go. Pack enough for a single usage into a zip-top bag, flatten to remove as much air as possible, and freeze.

6 Popular Fruits & Vegetables You Didn’t Know Could Be Preserved

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6. Fruits and berries without sugar. Many people think it is necessary to make a sugar syrup for canning fruits and berries, but water or fruit juice can be used in most cases. I found a recipe for canning blueberries in water this year—I should note that I use canning recipes only from sources I know to be safe and reliable, and this one is from the National Center for Home Food Preservation—and was happy to can my home-grown blueberries using this healthy and hassle-free method.

It is wise to do some searching and read the side notes in order to find low-sugar and no-sugar options for canning fruit. Sometimes they can be found in the “special diet” section.

A word about experimentation—before you try it, ask yourself if the worst thing that can happen is about quality or safety. If it is about quality, and if you can afford the potential loss of losing the product, go ahead and try. But if it is about safety, do not risk it. What you stand to gain is not worth the possible cost.

Use this list for starters, use trusted resources, and have fun. You just never know what you might end up enjoying from your garden on a snowy January day.

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

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

Pantry Checklist: 6 Ways To Preserve Tomatoes

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tomatoes

One of the first things many people think of when they hear the word ‘garden’ is fresh tomatoes. They come in all shapes and sizes, from the aptly-named cherry tomato that is great in a salad or to just pop in your mouth, to the giant heirloom steakhouse tomatoes.

But now that you’ve got a garden full of them, what do you do to preserve them? You have many options!

First, it’s important to know what you’re going to use the tomato for. There are so many varieties that it’s impossible to say, “This is how you should prepare any tomato”, so we’re going to talk about options, and you can decide which ones are right for your crop.

Before we talk about preserving them, you need to know that tomatoes will continue to ripen even after they’ve been picked. You can actually pick them when they’re nearly green, set them in the windowsill, and they’ll ripen on their own. That’s important to know, so that you understand that you have a limited window to prepare them for storage.

Refrigeration

This is, of course, the most common way of storing tomatoes that you’re going to eat within a week or so.

I always clean mine and pop the stems off if possible before I put them in the fridge, but that’s just to save a little time later. To keep them the longest this way, put them in the crisper drawer.

Freezing

Most people don’t think about freezing tomatoes, but it’s a good way to go as long as you have the freezer space. If course, they aren’t going to be the same as a fresh tomato, but frozen tomatoes are great in sauces and soups.

You can blanch them, peel them, then freeze them, or just freeze them whole with the skins on. You can also puree them first, or even just chop them into chunks. If you’re going to use that method, peel them first.

This is my preferred method because if something happens and you don’t get to them in time, the skin helps protect them from freezer burn. The downsides here are that they take up so much space, and if the power goes out, you have to use them immediately.

Can Your Tomatoes

I’ve found that canning tomatoes is my preferred method. Since tomatoes are acidic, you may safely can them using the water bath method. If you have smaller tomatoes, you could can them whole, or if you’d rather, you could quarter, chop, dice, or puree them first. Again, it all depends on what you want to use them for.

When canning tomatoes, you don’t just have to can plain, whole or quartered tomatoes. You can mix in some cilantro, onions, or other goodies to make salsa or chutney. They’re also great juiced, pureed or cooked down into tomato sauce or paste.

Don’t forget about spaghetti sauce, either! You can even throw in some meatballs if you’d like, though I personally find canned meatballs a little weird.

sauce

You should skin your tomatoes before you can them but that’s not as hard as it sounds. Just bring a pot of water to boil, then dip the tomato in for a few seconds, transfer it to a bowl of ice water, and the skin will slide right off.

Sun-dried Tomatoes

Though most people refer to any type of dried tomato as a sun-dried tomato, you can also use your oven or dehydrator. Most people don’t live in a climate that’s dry enough and warm enough to actually dry them completely in the sun. Regardless of which method you use, preparation for preserving your tomatoes in this manner is the same.

Wash the tomatoes then remove the stem, core, and any bruised or bad spots. If you want, you can scald them to remove the skins. That’s completely optional. Cut them in half, or quarter them if they’re longer or wider than 2 inches.

If you’d like, gently squeeze the seeds out without losing the pulp. You can scrape them out if you’d rather. Sprinkle them with salt and any other seasoning you’d like to add. Remember that you’re drying them, so a little salt goes a long way.

Some people prefer to soak the tomato slices in vinegar for a few minutes before dehydrating in order to kill germs. I don’t, but feel free to do so if you want.

Drying them in the sun requires hot days with little humidity, and will take about 3-4 days. Make a box with nylon netting on the bottom. Lay your tomato pieces on the netting with the cut side down. Cover with cheesecloth or some other breathable material to keep the bugs out.

After a day and a half or so, flip the tomatoes over so that the cut side is up. If you live in a place that has heavy dew at night, or if it’s going to rain, bring the tomatoes into a dry place at night or until it quits raining.

dried-tomatoesDrying tomatoes in the oven is easy. Place the tomatoes cut side up on a baking sheet and set your oven to 175-200 degrees F.

Put your tomatoes in the oven, leaving the oven cracked a little.

After about an hour and a half, turn them over and gently squish them flat with a spatula.

Leave them in the oven for another hour and a half or so, then check to see if they’re leathery to the point that they aren’t sticky, but aren’t so dried that they get tough.

At this point, you have a couple of options. If you’d like, you may can them in oil and seasonings. If that’s your plan, you don’t have to be quite as careful of the moisture content. If you’re going to completely dry them, leave them in the oven until they’re about as leathery as a dried apricot. If you don’t dry them long enough, they’ll mold.

Drying your tomatoes in a dehydrator is basically the same process except it will take several more hours. When I dry mine in the dehydrator, I like to flip them every couple of hours to ensure even drying.

Just like with any other dried food, the shelf-life isn’t as long as if you can them, but you can dry-can them, freeze them or vacuum seal them to extend shelf life.

Make Tomato Powder

Tomato powder is absolutely delicious and stores fabulously so this is a great way to preserve tomatoes. Just add a couple of tablespoons to whatever you’re making (adjust the amount according to taste).

You have a couple of options; you can either make them from whole, dehydrated tomatoes, or you can dehydrate the skins that you’ve removed while canning and make the powder from them.

When I’m making tomato powder, I prefer to dry my tomatoes (or peels) until they’re nearly completely dry instead of just leathery, but either way will work. After you dry them, freeze the dehydrated tomatoes for a day, then remove them and put them in your blender or food processor and pulse until you have a powder.

Since the tomato powder tends to clump, you may want to add a teaspoon of arrowroot powder or corn starch per every few cups of dried tomatoes.

I recommend dry canning or vacuum sealing the tomato powder if you’re not going to use it quickly.

Pickle Your Tomatoes

canned-tomatoesThis isn’t a method that you’ll often see used for tomatoes but I think they’re delicious, and it’s crazy simple.

They’re delicious in salads or to chop up for salsa or chutney. I recommend using pint jars, and cherry tomatoes are the tomatoes of choice for this.

First, clean your tomatoes and remove the stem and leaves. Run each tomato through with a skewer so that the pickling can penetrate them.

Stuff the tomatoes into pint jars and add a sprinkling of fresh herbs (dried will work, too) of your choice in on top. I prefer basil and oregano. Feel free to add onions, a few cloves of garlic, or any other spice or vegetable that you like.

Though I prefer to keep it more Mediterranean flavored with the ripe tomatoes, pickled green tomatoes taste wonderful and make great gifts. Here are a few ideas for pickling spices for green tomatoes.

Basic Pickling Spice

  • 2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp celery seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp whole allspice

Garlic Dill Pickling Spice

  • 1 tbsp. dill seeds
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled

Spicy Pickling Spice

  • 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine these spices and divide them among the jars evenly, either before or after you add the tomatoes.

Next, combine the following ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Note that this is enough for about 3-4 pints so double or halve as necessary:

  • 5 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 5 cups filtered water
  • 1 tbsp. salt

Pour the pickling juice over the tomatoes, leaving a half-inch or so of headspace after you’ve gotten all the bubbles out – use a small spatula or spoon to do that. Add rings and properly prepared seals, then process in a water bath for 15 min. Store in a cool place.

Now you know of six different ways that you can preserve tomatoes! If you have any ideas or comments, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Completely, 100 Percent Off-Grid: 9 Essential Foods You Should Grow

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Completely, 100 Percent Off-Grid: 9 Essential Foods You Should Grow

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Are you ready to feed your family by what you grow and raise? If you want to reduce your dependency on the commercial food supply, you better start now. It is important to develop a functional homestead capable of producing enough food to live on before you need it.

Establishing crops, building infrastructure, raising animals and working out the kinks all takes time, and you may have a few less successful years before you can really eat off the grid.

Assuming you have a house on cleared land, with at least one usable outbuilding already constructed, then you will be able to focus on growing food. With long working days, attention to seasonal change and weather, efficient work practices, and regular routines, two adults can work the land for food within a few years. Figuring in planting time, growing time, daily chores, pest and weed control, soil maintenance and construction, it would be reasonable to expect a partially self-sufficient homestead within three years, and a fully sustaining one in around five years. In addition to a milk source (cows or goats), you should plan on having:

Protein

1. Beans – Reliable and easy to grow, beans are a nutritional staple for the homesteading family. Prepare the soil early, and plan on 2-3 months of growing before harvest to get a yield in your first year, and you can expect more in year two.

Just 30 Grams Of This Survival Superfood Provides More Nutrition Than An Entire Meal!

2. Poultry – If starting with chicks, expect 2-3 years of successful rearing, selection, brooding and culling before you will have your flock established. In the meantime, you will collect eggs and eat birds you choose not to keep in the flock. Start with 10-12 chicks, and plan for them to be around 3-4 months old before butchering.

3. Rabbits – Rabbits are quick producers of meat for your family. It is not unreasonable to expect 20 or more rabbits per year from a single breeding pair. Allow for 1-2 years for your rabbits to become established. Select for breeding performance, health and size, and introduce new genetics regularly.

Grains

4. Corn – Corn is a prolific grain crop needing much nutrition from the soil and up to four months of heat for production. In your first year of growing corn, it is not unusual to have a lot of losses due to weather, pests or soil issues. However, once you have worked out the issues corn can be an important staple grain. Plan on about two years of learning before cultivating a substantial harvest.

5. Wheat – One of the most common grains in the American diet, wheat is reasonably easy to grow and hard to harvest. Wheat is ready after around two months of hot weather. When planning to start wheat, figure in threshing and grinding time.

Fruits & Vegetables

6. Winter Squash – Grow winter squash to supply your family with important vitamins and provide you with an easy keeper crop. Winter squash takes up to 4 months to mature, but you should be able to get a good yield in your first year with appropriate pest management and watering.

Completely, 100 Percent Off-Grid: 9 Essential Foods You Should Grow

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7. Apples – Although apples can be extremely useful, you need to plan on 6 – 10 years with your trees before they will bear fruit. Your patience will pay off, however, and planting apple trees is well worth the wait.

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8. Potatoes – Potatoes are easy to start. You can expect a good yield in your first year of potatoes. Short season varieties will grow in as little as 2 months, but longer season varieties can take 3 months or more.

Extras

9. Honey – Honey is a fantastic sweetener on the homestead and comes with lots of nutritional benefit. Plus, bees pollinate your crops. However, bees take a while to get production ramped up. Your first year harvest will be very small, but in the second year you can harvest up to 30 pounds of surplus honey from one hive (leaving the bees something to eat over the winter).

If self-sufficiency is your goal, then don’t wait to start on projects like these. Even if you’re still buying most of your food, developing your homestead so you can begin slowly weaning yourself away from doing so, means you won’t have to spend your early years of self-sufficiency struggling to find food.

What advice would you add? What would you add to this list? Share it in the section below:

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10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

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10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

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There is no doubt that the world wide web contains a wealth of information. How-to videos are easy to find for just about everything, and articles full of clever hints and hacks are all over the place.

But this article is not just another list of cute-but-impractical ideas. Most of these tricks are ones which I actually use myself on a regular basis to make my food preservation projects easier and more efficient. (I will explain the two exceptions at the end.)

Although I have embraced the arts of home food preservation for less than 10 years and have spent much of that time on a steep learning curve, I have been fully immersed in everything homesteading and surrounded by others who share the lifestyle. As a result, I have been able to pack plenty of great ideas into my bag of food preservation tricks, and have compiled a few of my favorites to share with others on the same journey.

1. Store onions in nylon hose. Aside from temperature and humidity control, one of the other important factors in keeping onions fresh is preventing them from touching each other. The key to accomplishing this is easy: Just store them in nylon stockings with knots tied between them. Any sort of hose will do; if you have tights or panty hose, just cut off the legs for use and throw out the top. Make sure they are clean, of course, since you will be storing your food in them. Place an onion into the clean hose, push it all the way to the toe, tie a knot in the hose, and repeat with another onion and another knot. Leave enough hose at the top to tie a loop, and hang the loop from a nail on the rafters of your cellar or a hook on the ceiling of your food storage area.

2. Keep apples separate during storage. Many people do not realize that apples give off a gas which causes other fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly. While this is a great way to treat unripe fruit in a mixed fruit bowl, it creates unfavorable conditions for root cellars and can cause loss of produce. If at all possible, keep your apples stored apart from your squash and root vegetables.

10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

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3. Use a scoop for pesto. After years of doing it the way everyone else does, I finally came up with a better way. The conventional method for freezing pesto is to put it in ice cube trays, freeze it, and then pop it out and store it in zip-top bags. Nice, unless you are the one who has the tedious job of cleaning out all of those oily little individual ice cube cups. This year, I tried using a small ice-cream style scoop—specifically, a size 40 disher, for those who use restaurant equipment—instead. My freshly processed pesto was too soft immediately, so I chilled it in a covered bowl in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, it was the perfect consistency for using a disher to make little balls of pesto. I scooped it out onto waxed paper on a cookie sheet. Once frozen that way, it was an easy task to toss the perfectly shaped and portioned pesto balls into a zip-top bag for storage, and cleanup was a breeze.

4. Use whatever fruits you have on hand for fruit leather. I am a great believer in adhering to food preservation recipes, with one exception. Fruit leather projects around my place turn into a fruit free-for-all. If I happen to be making peach leather, but there are a couple of bananas that are a little too soft for fresh eating lying on my countertop, I throw them into the food processor with the peaches.

‘Miracle Oil Maker’ Lets You Make Fresh Nut Oils Within Minutes!

On the other hand, if my apple leather project happens when there are once-frozen peaches now thawed and unappealingly discolored in the refrigerator, they end up in the leather as well. Mixing fruits for leather is safe and generally rewarding.

5. Use a salad spinner when blanching vegetables. This is a fantastic tip I learned from my Master Food Preserving Program instructor. After processing your broccoli or green beans in boiling water and then plunging them into an ice bath, the next step is to remove as much water as you can before packing them into freezer containers. You can spin almost all vegetables dry using a salad spinner, even the bulky ones like cauliflower or Brussels sprouts—just cut the vegetables into reasonably sized chunks and be sure not to overload the spinner.

6. Use a regular drinking straw to remove the air from freezer bags. The more air you can remove when packaging vegetables into zip-top bags, the better quality the frozen result will be. You can buy a vacuum seal machine if you want to, but that means greater expense, additional storage space and hassle, higher cost for bags, and less ability for reuse. Alternatively, you can manually suck the air out with a straw and pinch the seal around it as you withdraw the straw. It is an easy process and takes only a few seconds per bag.

10 Clever Food Preservation Tricks You Likely Won’t Find On YouTube

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7. Keep jars warm in the canner. This sounds like a no-brainer, but many experienced home canners do not know about this. When I prepare for a canning project, I first place my clean jars into whatever canner I am using, cover them with water, and set them on the stove to heat. By the time my product is prepared and I am ready for jars, I simply lift them out a few at a time for filling, and return them afterwards for processing. You will have too much water for pressure canning this way and will have to pour some out before processing, because you need just a few inches instead of enough to cover the jars. If you heat your lids, you can drop them into the canner with the jars as well.

8. Mouse-proof plastic totes with hardware cloth. Large plastic storage totes make perfect storage for root cellaring, except for the problem of what to do about the lid. If you leave it on, the vegetables cannot breathe and the air in the container will become too humid. But if you take it off, rodents get into your bounty. The solution is to cut out a piece in the center of the lid and cover the hole with hardware cloth using heavy-duty glue or duct tape. You can adjust the size of the mesh according to the particular pests that threaten your produce, and may even need to use window screen if insects are an issue.

9. Keep raw tomatoes in the freezer until you have enough for processing. There is a lot of space between having just enough to eat fresh and having enough to can a whole batch of sauce. In the interim, many wise home food processors simply toss them into the freezer. When there is enough—or when you have time to do the work—simply take them out and cook them as usual, remove the skins in a food mill, and continue the sauce work.

10. Store berries in the freezer for making jam later. There is a lot of living to be crammed into short northern summers, and sometimes there is not time for jamming when the berries are ripe. And besides, standing over a pot of boiling fruit is far more appealing in November than it is in August. Using frozen and then thawed berries for jam can be the answer to short, hot busy summers.

The last two items are those which I do not do personally. The reason is simple—freezer space. I begin every summer with an empty 15-cubic-foot freezer, and by early October every square inch is full. I have a second freezer which I use for meats and other miscellanea, but space is at a premium in that one, as well. By the time my long-season paste tomatoes start ripening, there is no room for them in either freezer.

By incorporating some of these simple tips into your regular routine, you can benefit from the tried-and-true wisdom of the homestead community and begin to build your own bag of food processing tricks.

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

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

How To Start Your Survival Terrarium

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Survival terrarium

When a crisis hits and it’s no longer safe to spend as much time outdoors, you’ll want to have a discreet garden to produce some food. You can create an indoor survival garden that’s out of sight of marauders inside of a terrarium.

While they are most often used for growing flowers and other non-edible plants, it is possible to grow food inside of a terrarium. Keep reading to find out out how to turn this mini-world into a food source for you and your family!

Once you get your terrarium built and your indoor garden established, it’s a low-maintenance, low-profile way to grow food. It’s also another way to keep your survival garden portable.

How to Choose Your Terrarium

A terrarium is a closed or almost closed mini-ecosystem, enclosed in a clear container. Depending on what’s inside, the lid will either fully or partially cover the bottle. The lid will help control the environment inside your terrarium.

To get your terrarium garden started, you’ll need some supplies. Many can be repurposed from around the homestead.

For each terrarium you’ll need:

  • A clean, clear container with a wide top and a lid such as:
    • A large mason jar
    • A cake stand
    • A gallon pitcher
    • An aquarium
    • A plastic deli container
  • Activated charcoal pieces or an aquarium filter
  • Potting soil that drains well
  • Enough pebbles to line the bottom of the container a by ½ inch
  • Sphagnum moss
  • Your desired plants and seeds (more details below)
  • A spray bottle for misting
  • Plastic wrap to cover the top if your container’s lid is missing or doesn’t cover tightly.

How to Assemble Your Terrarium

You’ll need four layers at the bottom of each terrarium. They are each essential to creating a healthy, low-maintenance system.

First, place a layer of pebbles or cleaned gravel at the bottom of your container. This layer allows drainage from the upper layers, and prevents your plants from rotting at the roots.

The second layer is a thin layer of activated charcoal. You can also use a piece of aquarium filter cut to size. The charcoal absorbs odors from the decomposition that’ll happen as your garden grows and keeps the soil clean.

If your plants don’t need a tropical environment, you can skip the charcoal. For these plants, you’ll be leaving the lid off of your terrarium at least partially, and the fresh air will keep the odor down.

Next you’ll add a layer of sphagnum moss. This moss is often found in swampy areas, and is also known as sheet moss. It will prevent the soil on top from making its way down to the filtering material.

Your final layer before adding plants is potting soil. You’ll want soil that stays well drained. A soil mixture comprised of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite works really well for growing in small spaces.

The soil needs to be deep enough to accommodate root growth. Three inches is a good starting point, though you can adjust this based on the plants you are growing.

Before planting, you’ll want to pack down your terrarium’s base as much as possible. You can use your hand, or a small gardening tool that’ll fit inside your container. A hand-held potato masher also works.

This packing process will remove air pockets in the soil and gravel, and help your plants grow better. Once packed, your soil and drainage materials should take up about a quarter of your terrarium container.

How To Build a Terrarium

What to Grow in Your Terrarium?

Now your terrarium is ready for plants. You can either plant seeds or transplant seedlings to the container you prepared.

The size and shape of your container will dictate what sorts of plants you can grow. For instance, dwarf fruit trees can be planted in a tall terrarium, but not in a short, horizontal shaped one.

Not every plant is suited for terrarium growth. You want slower growing plants that won’t grow bigger than your container. Here are some that gardeners have had success with:

  • Dwarf tomato plants
  • Dwarf blueberry plants
  • Herbs such as mint, thyme, and oregano
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Arugula
  • Green onions
  • Creeping figs

You’ll find many of these plants on this Survivopedia post on the most nutritious food to grow in your survival garden. While you won’t be growing on a large scale in a terrarium, you can grow nutritious food that’ll help you survive a SHTF scenario.

While herbs won’t add a lot of nutrients to your plate, they’ll help ensure that your survival food actually tastes good. There are also plenty of medicinal uses for herbs, making them extremely valuable in a crisis.

Here is a list of 10 survival foods you should grow.

survival-foods-to-grow

How to Arrange Plants in Your Terrarium

You don’t want to overcrowd your terrarium, so you’ll want to arrange your plants carefully. Remember that your plants will grow, so be sure to leave enough space between them.

If you’ll be planting multiple kinds of plants in a single terrarium, make sure they’re compatible. You’ll want to check:

  • Heat tolerance and needs
  • Water needs
  • Light needs

Once you’ve decided what to plant in each terrarium, plant the tallest plant first. This will ensure that you can look in the front and visually inspect each of your plants. It’ll also make it more appealing to look at.

When your plants are in, it’s time to water. You’ll want to use your spray bottle so you have better control over how much water is added. It won’t take much to get your soil damp, but not soaked.

Creating the Proper Environment

Your terrarium can produce a wide range of environments. If your plants need a tropical, warm and wet environment, leave the lid on almost all the time. This will hold the heat in and allow the water to condense. It’ll be an almost completely self-sufficient system.

But, not all plants thrive in such an environment. To make your terrarium more temperate, simply leave the lid partially off. This will allow fresh air to enter and keep the whole container cooler.

If your home’s interior temperature is warm, you may even take the lid off completely. This will make your terrarium behave more similarly to any other container-style garden.

Factors to Consider When Creating the Proper Environment

Sunlight

You don’t want to boil your plants, so keep your terrariums out of direct sunlight. Otherwise the sunlight can heat the water inside to extremely high temperatures.

It’s much better to allow your plants to receive indirect sunlight. So place them next to the window instead of in the windowsill. This will also make your garden terrariums harder to spot from anyone who passes by.

Water

Closed system terrariums need very little water because it recycles the water through the water cycle. A light misting once a month will be all you need to keep the soil moist.

Partially closed or open terrariums will require more frequent watering because some water will be lost to evaporation. Keep an eye on your soil, and ensure it stays damp.

Plant Size

You’ll want to keep an eye on your plants and ensure they aren’t getting too large for your container. If they are, prune them back a little to help them focus their effort on producing fruit. If your plant starts touching the edges of your container, you’ll want to move it to a larger sized container.

5 Common Problems with Terrariums

Though terrariums are fairly low maintenance once you get them established, you may run into problems. Here are five of the most common signs to watch for, and what to do for each:

1. Root Rot or Moldy Plants

Overwatering can cause root rot or mold to form on your plants. If you notice this, let your terrarium receive fresh air to dry out for a day. Then, don’t water your terrarium again until the soil is dried out.

Add just a bit of water and ensure there isn’t standing water at the bottom of your container. That’s a sign of too much water.

2. Shriveled Plants

Though terrariums don’t need much water, it is possible for them to be under watered. If you notice your plants beginning to shrivel, the first thing you should do is check the soil.

You want it to feel slightly damp about an inch down. If your soil is dry, it’s time to add some more water. Depending on the ecosystem you’re creating, you may need to readjust your watering schedule.

3. Too Much Light

If your terrarium is receiving too much direct sunlight, you’ll start to notice burn spots on your leaves. If you aren’t able to move your terrarium to a slightly darker location, try covering it with a paper bag during the hottest part of the day. This will ensure the glass isn’t able to magnify the light and create an extreme condition inside.

4. Not Enough Light

Plants that aren’t getting enough light will start to look pale. They’ll also start stretching, growing towards the sunlight. While all plants will naturally grow towards the sun, ones that are deprived will have an unnatural, stretched out look.

If your plants need more light, you can either move them to a sunnier location (though not in direct sunlight) or provide artificial light each day.

5. Mineral Buildup

If you use tap water to water your terrarium, you may notice a build-up on the glass. This is typically caused by the salt and minerals in your water.

Using captured rainwater or distilled water will keep this from getting worse in the future. These types of waters will also ensure that your soil isn’t developing a buildup of salt that’s harsh on your plants.

Here is an example of how to take care of your tomato plant in a terrarium garden:

Video first seen on ehowgarden

Start Your Terrarium Gardens Now

If growing your own food indoors in a terrarium sounds appealing, you should start one now. That way you’ll be able to experiment and see what grows best in the environment you create.

Starting now, before a crisis hits, will also ensure that your plants are established and producing when you need them. You’ll make sure you have everything you need and that you can do your troubleshooting now.

So grab a container, and the other supplies you need and start experimenting. You’ll be amazed at what you can grow in such a small, low-maintenance system.

Have You Grown in a Terrarium Before?

I know I didn’t cover all the intricacies of growing in a terrarium in this post, so if you have more information to share with your fellow readers, please do so in the comments below! Be sure to share what you grew, and if you used a closed, partially closed, or open system. That way everyone can benefit from your knowledge and experience.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia. 

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8 Hardy Vegetables You Can Leave In The Ground During Winter For A Super-Early 2017 Harvest

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8 Hardy Vegetables You Can Leave In The Ground For Winter For An Early 2017 Harvest

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It may seem like not much happens in the garden during September, and that spring is the only acceptable time to plant a crop of vegetables.

And while it’s true that plants don’t grow when winter sets in, there are a surprising number of vegetables you can plant in autumn – and that will be ready for spring. The plants lie dormant during the winter months, spring back to life when temperatures begin to rise in March or April, and are ready to harvest soon thereafter.

Straw or mulch provide good protection for overwintering vegetables in most climates. Some vegetables may need a little protection in the form of row covers or cold frames if you live in a cold climate. One simple way to protect plants is to arrange bales of hay on each side of the rows, and then cover the bales with old windows. You can also use clear plastic anchored with rocks or stakes.

Here’s a list of vegetables appropriate for planting in autumn. Some are old favorites, while others may surprise you.

1. Onions – Plant onions now, in September, and then leave them alone until they’re ready for harvest next summer. Onions grow nearly anywhere, but they may not do well if your garden remains soggy during the winter months. Alternatively, you can always plant onions in raised beds.

8 Hardy Vegetables You Can Leave In The Ground For Winter For An Early 2017 Harvest

Image source: Pixabay.com

2. Shallots – Fall is a good time to get shallots in the ground, but there’s no hurry. It’s possible to plant this popular culinary vegetable as late as December, depending on where you live.

3. Garlic – Plant garlic cloves in the garden around September and harvest them next summer. Fall is actually the best time to plant garlic, as the cloves need several weeks of cold in order to multiply. Also, garlic planted in autumn tends to be larger and more flavorful.

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

4. Spinach – Plant spinach in autumn and harvest the leaves regularly throughout the winter, until next summer. Spinach is a cold-weather crop, and planting after summer heat eliminates the need to worry about bolting.

5. Broad beans – Varieties such as “super aquadulce” or “aquadulce claudia” are good for planting as late as October or early November. As an added benefit, beans work as a cover crop by preventing erosion and nourishing the soil. You may need to stake the plants to keep them upright if winter winds are common.

6. Chard – This nourishing leafy vegetable survives winter in great shape in most climates, and is the first green ready for picking in spring. In fact, chard tolerates temperatures as low as 15 degrees Fahrenheit without protection and cold actually brings out the natural sweetness. But if you have seriously cold winters, you may need to protect chard with row covers or a cold frame.

7. Peas – Select a cold-hardy, early variety like meteor or kelvedon wonder. Plant the rows thickly, a little closer than usual to allow for the few that you’ll probably lose. Peas may be chancy if you live north of USDA zone 5 or south of zone 8.

8. Mache – If you haven’t tried mache, you’re likely to love the mild, nutty flavor of this cold-hardy solid green. Mache survives winters in USDA zone 6 with no protection, but may need a little protection in northern climates.

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

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

What You Need To Know About Autumn Gardens

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Autumn Garden

The weather is cooling down, at least in my neck of the woods, the pasture is drying up, and fall is in the air.

While autumn may not be associated with gardening as much as other seasons, there’s still plenty you can do.

Depending on the date of your first expected frost, you can still get seeds in the ground to harvest before winter. There are many plants that do better in cooler weather as opposed to the full-sun they’d get in the summer.

Now is also the time to plant crops that stay in the ground all winter to harvest in the spring. Your plants will establish a good root system this fall, which gives you a head start on next year’s garden plans.

10 Quick Growing Plants to Sow Now

These ten plants mature quickly. You can plant them now, and harvest them in mid to late October. Some will keep producing well into November to really extend your fall harvest.

When selecting seeds, be sure to check the package to see how many days until maturity are needed for that particular variety. You’ll want to go with the one that has the shortest length, to ensure your plants are ready to harvest before winter.

  • Radishes
  • Lettuce
  • Beets
  • Beans
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Turnips
  • Green onions
  • Kohlrabi
  • Peas

You’ll notice that greens and root crops make up the bulk of these recommendations. These types of plants typically do well in cooler weather.

Autumn Vegetables

Tips for Sowing Seeds in Autumn

The weather should be your biggest consideration before sowing seeds this time of year. You don’t want to lose your plants to a hard frost before you’re able to harvest anything.

If You Expect an Early Frost

Each area has a different growing season, which means you might not be able to grow as long as someone in a warmer climate. You have to know what the weather patterns are in your area.

If you aren’t sure what the autumn weather is like, it’s time to find out. Ask your local county extension agency. Talk to your neighbors who garden. See if your library has books specific to your region.

Once you know when to expect your first hard frost, you’ll be able to plan your autumn garden more efficiently. If your area freezes early, you’ll need to take extra precautions when planting. Otherwise, it’s likely that your plants will die when the cold weather strikes.

You can:

These techniques will help prolong your growing season. You’ll be proactive in fighting the frost instead of just watching your plants freeze.

1. Keep Your Soil Warm

If you live in an area where it doesn’t normally freeze early, you may not need to take as many precautions. One thing you will want to do though, is ensure that your soil stays warm.

Your layers of mulch dutifully kept your soil cooler all summer long. To help keep your soil warm, consider removing this mulch before planting fall crops. That way the soil can suck in as much sunlight as possible.

You might also want to think about using a layer of plastic to trap the heat. You can cut an X in the plastic where each seedling will emerge.

2. Watch the Wind

Is it windy in the autumn where you live? Fighting the wind is hard on plants. Provide a windbreak by:

  • Building a fence
  • Utilizing existing trees and bushes
  • Set up garden fabric over your plants

Mild Winters?

Not every region experiences cold winters. If you live in a zone where temperatures stay above freezing year-round, your garden can thrive throughout the fall.

You won’t be limited to the plants listed above.  You’ll be able to grow just about anything, including:

  • Okra
  • Eggplants
  • A variety of peppers
  • A variety of winter squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower

If you’re area is prone to extremely hot summers, fall may turn out to be your most productive garden season. Your plants won’t be struggling with heat, and can actually spend energy on producing a harvest.

Crops to Start Now for Spring Harvest

In many zones, fall is also the perfect season for starting plants for spring. You’ll need to select hardy plants, that can withstand your area’s low temperatures. Otherwise your plants will die over the winter, instead of simply remaining dormant.

If you grow any perennials in your garden, such as asparagus and rhubarb, you’re already used to the concept of overwintering plants. They grow all year, and then rest over the winter. Then they shoot up in the spring, bursting with newfound energy from the warmth.

Plants that are short and low to the ground tend to do better with overwintering than taller ones. The snow layer that gathers will actually provide a layer of insulation, protecting the young plants.

Why Overwinter Annual Plants?

Planting in the fall allows your crops to get a solid root system developed before winter. Then when the snow melts in the spring and temperatures start to rise, these plants will lowly resume their growth. Fall planted crops will often lead to an earlier harvest in the garden.

The slow growth does have an effect on the plants. Many root crops that are allowed to overwinter are described as being much sweeter than their spring planted varieties.

Here are ten crops to consider adding to your garden this fall with the intention of harvesting in the spring:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Kale
  • Beets
  • Winter squash
  • Pumpkins

Planting these now will give your garden a great head start in the spring. Just be sure that they have ample time to establish a root base before the harshness of winter sets in. Four to six weeks before your first killing frost is a good reference point for getting seeds in the ground.

If your winters are severe, you may need to offer your young plants protection in the form of row covers. You can either buy ready-made ones, or make your own.

How to Plant Trees in the Fall

Nut and fruit trees are an excellent addition to the garden. Depending on your zone, fall could be the best time of year to add trees to your homestead.

If your area typically experiences mild or moderate winters, you should be alright to plant your trees in September or October. But, you’ll want to ensure they have protection around them.

A layer of mulch or straw will provide excellent insulation. You can use a wire cage to hold this material up to the trunk of your new tree. There are also tree guards you can purchase that’ll protect your tree’s trunk from pests and sun damage.

Fall planting allows your trees to get established before winter. They’ll continue to grow early in the spring, and you’ll be that much closer to having your own fruits and nuts.

However, the extreme cold of some areas of the world are not suitable for young trees. If your ground freezes by mid-October or November, you should wait until spring to plant trees.

How to Plant a Cover Crop

If your soil needs a little boost, you can consider planting a cover crop over all or part of your garden this autumn. Also known as green manure, this crop will return nutrients to your soil. By sowing in the fall, you’ll allow this plant to grow a bit before winter hits.

In the spring, you won’t harvest your crop. Instead, you’ll till the greens back into the soil. Just as plants you harvest nourish your body, cover crops nourish your soil. It’s a natural fertilizer.

Cover crops do more than just feed your soil. They also help keep weeds at bay, control pests, and keep your soil workable.

You’ll want to plant most cover crops at least four weeks before your first hard frost. This will give the roots time to get established before winter arrives.

In the spring, you’ll want to mow this crop before it comes to seed. Use a lawn mower or similar device to cut the cover crop short.

Once it’s short, you’ll be able to till the rest directly into the soil. Plan on doing the tilling a couple of weeks before you plant your garden in the spring. That way the green bits have some time to decompose.

Some cover plants will winterkill in cold climates. That means they won’t grow at all in the spring since the low temperatures at winter will kill them. Many gardeners prefer to grow winterkill cover crops because they are easier to deal with in the spring.

Rather than mowing and tilling live matter, the dead plants will form a thick mulch layer on top of your soil. In the spring, you can rake this away to get down to your refreshed soil.

What to Plant as a Cover Crop?

If you aren’t sure what cover crop to sow, here are some suggestions.

  • Rye (either annual or cereal)
  • Field peas
  • Oats
  • Buckwheat
  • Clover
  • Forage radishes

Your climate and the hardiness of the variety you plant will both play a role in which plants winterkill.

What’s Going in Your Autumn Garden?

I’d love for you to share what you’ll be planting this fall in the comments section below. Will you be planting for harvest in the fall or getting a start on your spring harvest? Are you growing a cover crop on any of your land?

If you share, be sure to let everyone know what zone you’re in so other readers can benefit from your knowledge. After all, there isn’t one right way to garden!

Sharing knowledge is a great way for us all to learn. This is how we’ve learned from our ancestors, and now we want you get this knowledge as well. Click on the image below for more about great survival tips from the old days.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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11 Unique, Lightning-Fast Vegetables You Can STILL Plant From Seed

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11 Unique, Lightning-Fast Vegetables You Can STILL Plant From Seed

Arugula. Image source: Pixabay.com

 

By the time August ends, your vegetable garden likely has a number of bare spots. This is a good thing, indeed, and a sign that the bounty of a successful harvest has enriched your dinner table and replenished your cupboards and freezer for the coming months.

Now what? Believe it or not, it isn’t necessary to let those bare patches go unused until spring planting time rolls around. In most climates, it’s possible to grow a second garden by planting another round of vegetable seeds – even in late August and early September.

Many vegetables are even sweeter when the temperatures drop a bit.

This is a good time to try a few new, unique vegetables that you’ve never tried before. Look for varieties with the shortest growing season, or those specifically labeled for late-season growing.

August can be the hottest month in many climates, so while you’re enjoying a good book and a glass of ice cold lemonade, don’t ignore the need to pour on a bit of extra water.

One final tip before selecting seeds for your late garden: Keep insulated fabric or a few sheets of newspaper on hand – just in case.

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

Here are a few ideas for planting seeds in late August or early September:

1. Beet greens. These are nutritious, delicious and ready for picking as soon as two to three weeks.

2. Watercress. It has a crispy, pungent, slightly peppery flavor that adds interest to sandwich, salads or pizza. Plant watercress through August and harvest until late autumn.

3. Kale shoots. These are ready very quickly, and you can toss a handful of the tender shoots in smoothies or salads for a blast of vitamins and minerals. Soak the seeds overnight before planting, and then plant them in full sunlight.

4. Pak choi. Plant pak choi in a sunny garden spot by the end of August. The seeds germinate in six to 10 days, and you can harvest baby pak choi leaves as soon as 30 days. Use this flavorful Asian vegetable in salads or stir fries.

11 Unique, Lightning-Fast Vegetables You Can STILL Plant From Seed

Image source: Wikipedia

5. Radishes. Fast-growing radishes are tangy, crispy and perfect for planting small patches throughout August and September — four to six weeks before the last frost.

6. Turnips. Small turnips are ready in about 45 days, but turnip greens are perfect for picking much sooner. The crispy greens are even sweeter when nighttime temperatures drop into the 40s, and you can grow turnips until the first hard freeze – maybe even longer with a little protection.

7. Tatsoi. An attractive plant with rosettes of spoon-shaped leaves, tatsoi is ready to harvest in 20 to 25 days, although full-size tatsoi takes a bit longer. This mustard cousin can tolerate light frost, which actually improves the flavor. Plant tatsoi in partial shade, or in full sunlight if the days are cool.

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

8. Arugula. This one bolts quickly in hot weather, but if you have a cool, shady spot you can harvest this spicy green vegetable in three to four weeks. Arugula, also known as rocket, tolerates light frost. Cook this fast grower like spinach or add it to salads.

9. Mustard greens. Plant mustard greens four to six weeks ahead of the first expected frost, and start picking the tender little leaves in about a month. Mustard greens prefer full sun and moist, rich soil.

10. Collard greens. These are related to kale, and each is an absolute nutritional powerhouse. Plant collards about 10 weeks before frost and harvest the leaves as soon as they’re big enough to use, or wait and let them develop. This cold-hardy plant can survive temperatures in the upper teens. In mild climates you can harvest collards all winter.

11. Mizuna. Plant mizuna in full sun or partial shade six to 12 weeks before the last frost, and then use the mild-flavored, fern-like leaves in stir fries and salads. A member of the cabbage family, mizuna tolerates a bit of frost.

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

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

Fall & Winter Gardening: What You Should Be Doing NOW

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Off-Grid Life In a $4,500 Converted School Bus

Summer gardening season is quickly coming to an end, with fall approaching and winter just around the corner.

Although some gardeners put their tools away for the season during August or September, others keep planting throughout autumn – preparing for a winter harvest.

On this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we discuss everything you’ve always wanted to know about fall and winter gardening … but perhaps were too embarrassed to ask.

Our guest is Brad Halm, the co-founder of The Seattle Urban Farm Company and the co-author of two gardening books: High-Yield Vegetable Gardening and Food Grown Right, In Your Backyard.

Brad tells us:

  • What you should plant during the fall — and when.
  • How you can plant carrots and overwinter them for an early spring harvest.
  • Which frost-tolerant vegetables can survive cold temperatures, uncovered, down into the 20s.
  • What you can do now to keep harvesting vegetables outdoors, well into January and February.
  • Why fall and winter gardening sometimes producers better-tasting vegetables.

Finally, Brad tells us four unique ways you can garden outside throughout winter – allowing you to enjoy fresh spring vegetables when snow is still on the ground. If you’ve never tried fall and winter gardening, but have always wanted to give it a try, then this week’s show is for you!

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The Dirt-Free, Space-Saving Way To Grow Indoor Tomatoes

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Image source: Amber Bogdanowicz

Image source: Amber Bogdanowicz

Growing herbs and vegetables in the home sounds like a great idea until you think about all the mess, dirt and constant watering that must be done to grow and keep them alive.

Avoid all of this by growing them in a jar of water – without dirt! This process is a more convenient set-up that takes up little space in comparison to growing in soil. You even can grow tomatoes.

Growing vegetables and herbs in a jar has a number of benefits:

  • Enhanced aesthetic quality.
  • Can observe the roots growing.
  • Preserved flavor.
  • Less mess.
  • Saves space.
  • Easy to grow.
  • Little watering.
  • You start with cuttings, not seeds.

You will need a few things to start your plants in a jar:

  1. Water (rainwater or tap water left to air overnight — not chlorinated water).
  2. Containers (Mason jars, any glass bottles, plastic bottles). Narrow-mouthed containers are great for support.
  3. Plant cuttings (6-inch tips).
  4. Organic fertilizer

Step 1: Prep plant cuttings.

Start by removing the lower leaves from cuttings and trim the lower tips close to where the roots arise. Rinse.

Step 2: Prep container.

Clean your container well, making sure there are no chemicals in there or anything dangerous.

Step 3: Get some water.

Get some clean, fresh water. Tap water isn’t good for plants because of the trace metals and other chemicals found in it. In general, the plants will respond to it negatively. Fresh rainwater is preferred. Add organic fertilizer.

Image source: Amber Bogdanowicz

Image source: Amber Bogdanowicz

Step 4: Assemble.

  1. Add your cuttings to your container.
  2. Take your container and add your freshwater up to around the neck of the jar. The main idea is to fill it up to cover most of the stem, but you do not want to fill it up so much that it soaks the leaves. Your cuttings will rot if the leaves sit stagnant in water.
  3. Sit your jar in an area that either receives sun or doesn’t, depending on the sun requirements unique to your plant. Example: If you are growing mint in a jar with water, make sure to place it somewhere that receives plenty of sun!

Step 5: Maintenance.

Once you’ve assembled your plant in a jar, change the water once a week without disturbing the cuttings too much.

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

Within 2-6 weeks, the cuttings will generally begin to grow; however, woody plants do take longer.

Herbs and Vegetables to Grow in the Water

I would argue that you can grow almost anything this way. I have even grown a succulent plant successfully in water from a tip that fell off one of my larger plants. However, you can expect higher success rates from these vegetables and herbs below.

  1. Mint
  2. Oregano
  3. Basil
  4. Sage
  5. Stevia
  6. Lemon Balm
  7. Thyme
  8. Rosemary
  9. Tarragon
  10. Lettuce
  11. Spinach
  12. Tomatoes
  13. Peppers
  14. Cucumbers
  15. Celery

It is so easy to grow herbs and vegetables in a simple jar of water.  It’s cheap, attractive for any household, and a great source of year-round produce!

What advice would you add? What it in the section below:

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

How To Build Up Your Food Reserves For Everyday Use

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Survivopedia food reserve

Having a stockpile of food on hand for emergencies is essential. But, it’s not the only step to ensuring your family can eat if a food crisis arises.

You also need a pantry of food reserves intended for everyday use.

What’s the Difference Between a Pantry of Food Reserves and a Food Stockpile?

Some preppers might use the terms food reserves and food stockpile interchangeably, but in my mind they’re different. Let me explain.

My food stockpile consists of much food designed for emergency rations. It’s long lasting, and stored securely out of the way of pests. Some is packed in go bags, or directly in the car.

This stockpile is food that I know the family will eat, but it’s not something we eat all the time. Food in my stockpile typically costs more than I’m willing to spend on food for daily consumption. It’s truly for emergencies.

Conversely, my food reserves are in the kitchen pantry cupboards, ready to feed my family on a daily basis. They’re canned good, shelf-stable staples, and other items that we use routinely. They even include items in my fridge and freezer—things we use frequently.

My reserves aren’t stored to last for decades, because I plan on using them up well before then. It’s food that’s needed to create the meals on my annual meal plan.

These reserves are more short-term than long-term. They’re how I fight back against rising food prices, and save gas by not having to constantly drive an hour to the store. It’s how I can throw together quick meals to avoid the expense of going out to eat.

As long as my pantry is stocked, I don’t ever have to worry about my family going hungry.

How to Begin Building a Pantry

If you currently don’t have a lot of food on hand, the idea of creating a well-stocked pantry may be overwhelming. But, by taking it one baby step at a time, you can get to the point where you don’t have to go to the store every week. You may even stop going to the store for a couple months at a time.

Sit down for a bit and think. You’re going to want notes, so grab a piece of paper, your favorite notes app on your phone, or your computer. Once you’re ready, here’s what I want you to think about.

1. What Does a Typical Day’s Food Look Like in Your Home?

Are you currently cooking three meals a day from scratch? Are the kids eating lunch at school while you’re going out to eat? Does dinner come in a box?

There are no right or wrong answers right now, so answer honestly. What does your family eat in a typical day?

If you aren’t sure, you might need to spend a day creating a simple food journal. Just write down everything you eat all day long. Indicate if your family members joined you, or if you were on your own.

Once you have a general idea of what your family eats in a day, it’s time to do some analyzing.

2. How Much of that Food Was in Your Pantry?

Look over the list of consumed foods. Put a star next to everything that was in your pantry. Also circle anything that you grew on your own, or produced on your property.

3. What Does Your Family Enjoy Eating?

Now that you have a better idea of how much food from your pantry you’re already using, it’s time to think about food your family actually enjoys. This step is important because if you fill your pantry with food your family despises, you won’t use those food reserves. You’ll actually have wasted money on food that likely won’t be used before it expires. That sort of defeats the purpose.

If you’re already a meal planner, you can pull out several of your old meal plans and look over which meals your family enjoyed. If not, take a few minutes now to write down several meals that your family enjoys. Try to think about breakfast, lunch, and dinner to ensure you’re prepared for each meal of the day.

Once you’ve created your list, look for similarities. Are there several recipes that use oats? Or that use a particular type of bean?

Those items need to be in your pantry! They’re items you use in multiple dishes, and you know you’ll eat.

Is Building a Pantry of Food Reserves Expensive?

If you have nothing in your cupboards and plan on adding a month’s worth of staples, then yes—building a pantry can be expensive.

But, it doesn’t have to be. You can start slowly—adding a few extra cans or bags to your grocery cart each time you go shopping.

Look for bargains on what you know you’ll eat. If you find cans of tomato sauce marked down, buy as much as you can. Look for deals on flour, rice, and spices.

If you only buy items for your pantry when they’re at their lowest price point, you’ll save money in the long run.

How I Tackle Pantry Building

I live in the middle of nowhere, and it costs money to get to the store. This realization helped shape my current pantry building routine. I now try to shop only once a month. My goal of each trip is to ensure my pantry is well-stocked enough that I can go 6-8 weeks without visiting the store.

Though I usually shop more frequently, I love knowing that I don’t have to. It’s been especially helpful if the kids are sick when I’m planning on going to the store.

But how did I get to this point? Let me walk you through what works for me in hopes it’ll inspire you to create a plan that works for you.

food storage

An Annual Meal Plan

I hate meal planning. I know it saves money, but it’s not something I enjoy. So I learned how to minimize the amount of time spent meal planning.

The kids and I work every July to create an annual meal plan. We pick a breakfast for each day of the week. That means we eat the same breakfast every Tuesday for a year.

With seven breakfast options, it’s not nearly as boring as it sounds. We do the same process for lunch.

Dinner is planned around a theme; such as noodle night. We pick four or five meals for each theme. At this stage in my life, I tend to stick with simple meals as often as possible.

So for noodle night, we may have spaghetti and meatballs one week, and beef stroganoff the next week.

A Shopping List

Once our meals our planned, I begin creating my shopping list. By the time I’m done, I know how much of any one item I’m going to need for a month’s worth of meals. I know what I need to buy when I go to the store.

By using a little basic math, I can easily extrapolate how much I’ll need for a year. That means when spaghetti noodles go on sale by the case, I can accurately predict how much we’ll go through in a year. And I buy that many.

Now I don’t have to buy spaghetti for a long time. I can take the money I was using to buy spaghetti each month and put it towards another staple. Doing this allows me to continue to build a stockpile without spending an arm and a leg.

I’m buying what I know we’ll use before the expiration date rolls around. But more importantly, I’m buying food that already has a purpose.

That keeps me from stocking up on canned kidney beans just because they’re on sale. No one in my house really likes kidney beans. Before I figured out this food reserves thing, I had a dozen cans just sitting on my pantry shelf. I bought them because I knew I should have food on hand.

But just having food on hand doesn’t actually help feed your family on a daily basis if it’s food they don’t like. A shopping list will help you be wise as you build your pantry.

Building Food Reserves at Different Seasons

Because of the snow we get here, it’s much more difficult for me to go to the store regularly in the winter. That means I spend my summer and fall building even more of a reserve.

Conversely, in the summer I’m able to grow more of our own food. Our chickens are laying at their peak production. Our cow is putting out a lot more milk.

There’s also a ton of edibles growing in the forest. I don’t need to worry about having as much food on hand, because I know we can eat emergency meals based on what we produce if necessary. That’s why I picked July to redo our food plans.

I can let our stores get used up leading into summer. I make sure we use the last of things I won’t need again with the new menu. I’m able to save some grocery dollars this way.

Then, when I’m ready to start building a new year’s worth of reserves in August, I have extra money to use.

Spend some time thinking about the seasons where you live. Are there months when you’re without an income due to seasonal employment? Are there months where flu season is running so rampant that you don’t want to leave your house any more than necessary?

Do you visit a farmer’s market in the summer or participate in a local CSA? Do you grow your own food during some seasons?

Think about your year, and the highs and lows you have. You can prepare for these seasons by having food reserves on hand. A well-stocked pantry helps you make it through the rough patches in life.

Where Do You Live?

Where you live also impacts your needed reserves. Think through the amount of space you have on hand. You may have to get creative to store your extra food.

If you grow and preserve much of your food, your shopping list will be different than a family who lives in an urban setting.

Start Filling Your Pantry

You know now what kinds of food your family eats regularly. You have an idea of what meals you can make and know that everyone will eat.

You’re ready to start filling your pantry. Start slowly, and buy as much extra as your budget allows.

Try to buy food when it’s on sale, and only buy food that you’ll actually eat.

How did you start building your food reserves? If your pantry is ready to sustain your family in the midst of a mini-crisis, please tell us how you started in the comments section below.

If you haven’t yet started, is there a particular question you have about building your reserves? Chime in in the comments, and other readers can help!

And click on the banner below to find out how our ancestors planned their food reserves for survival!

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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7 Stockpiling Myths That Even The Experts Believe (Don’t Fall For No. 2!)

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7 Stockpiling Myths That Even The Experts Believe (Don’t Fall For No. 2!)

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It doesn’t take much to get a rumor started. Rumors can twist and turn and evolve into myths that are passed along between friends, family and even complete strangers. The rumor gains fuel and before you know it, it is taken as gospel.

In the homesteading and survivalist world, this happens often. Some of the myths have scared newbies away from stockpiling – and some of the myths are even held by experts.

We are here to debunk some of the most common myths surrounding stockpiling. Here are eight myths that simply are not true:

1. It costs a lot of money to stockpile. It does cost some money, but you can spend $10 to $20 a week and build up a pretty nice stockpile. It is all about shopping smart. Take advantage of sale prices and don’t be afraid to buy generic. You don’t have to only use commercially prepared food. You can save a ton of money by growing a garden and preserving what you have grown. If you are a hunter, then you have another option in finding meat.

2. Buying in bulk is best. Absolutely one of the worst myths out there. Who can use a five-gallon can of ketchup or sit down and eat a five-gallon can of chili in a single sitting? If you are stockpiling food for just you and your small family, you need to think in those terms. You are not feeding an army. During a crisis, you may not have a working refrigerator to store the unused portions. When you open that can of whatever, it needs to be eaten within a few hours to ensure it is safe and isn’t going to make anyone ill. Buying in bulk is OK if it includes individual servings, but don’t waste your money on bulk cans of foods that will require refrigeration after opening.

3. You need a lot of space to stockpile. This isn’t entirely true. People who live in small apartments or tiny homes can still build up a stockpile. It will just take a little creativity and ingenuity. It is all about maximizing the spaces we all have. You can stockpile food in the back of the closet, under the bed, in the voids in your furniture and in the space between your ceiling and roof. Adding shelves around the top one foot or so of your bedroom will also give you plenty of room to store supplies.

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7 Stockpiling Myths That Even The Experts Believe (Don’t Fall For No. 2!)

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4. You will end up wasting a lot of food. Stockpiling means you will be constantly rotating your stock. When you go grocery shopping, pull out the food that has been on the shelf for a while in your stockpile, eat it and add the fresh food to the back of the pile. Constantly freshening your supply means you will never waste anything.

5. It takes a lot of time and energy to stockpile food. It takes about as much time and energy as it does to put away the groceries after grocery shopping. You will want to check on your stock occasionally and maybe do a little organizing, but it doesn’t take hours every week. If you have a system built in that allows you to add fresh supplies without moving everything around, that time will be cut in half.

6. Freeze-dried foods are the only option. Absolutely untrue. Freeze-dried foods certainly offer some benefits, but few people can afford only to stockpile freeze-dried foods. Other foods, like dried grains and beans, can last just as long as freeze-dried foods when stored right. They are about a fraction of the cost and provide more flexibility. There are certainly some perks to the huge buckets of freeze-dried meals, but you can use dried foods and still achieve the same variety. Ideally, you will want to aim for a nice combination of freeze-dried, canned and dried foods. This way you will always have an option for dinner that offers a little variety from the night before.

7. Your stockpile means you never have to worry about food again. Your stockpile of food is only going to last so long. If you are dealing with an event that completely upsets the world, it could take weeks or months (or longer) before commerce is built up again. You need to learn hunting and gardening skills. The longer you can stretch that stockpile of food, the better off you will be. Being able to add fresh fruits, veggies and meat to your diet is also going to be healthier for you and you will appreciate the flavors of the fresh food.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section now: 

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‘When Should I Pick It?’ — Harvesting Essentials For 12 Popular Vegetables

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‘When Should I Pick It?’ -- Harvesting Essentials For 12 Popular Vegetables

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Every novice gardener has done it — picked too early or waited too long to harvest their vegetables. Even experienced gardeners have been known to let excitement get the better of them when they see that first tomato turning red on the vine.

Since late summer and early fall is prime harvesting time, it is a good idea to go over some harvesting basics and give a few guidelines for the best time to harvest certain vegetables:

1. Tomatoes

Yes, it is tempting to pick these as soon as you see that they are red, but for the best quality and flavor, try leaving them on the plant for 5-8 days after they have gained full color. Then, at the end of the season, you’ll want to pick all the fruit before the first frost, regardless of ripeness. You can enjoy the classic “fried green tomatoes” or let them ripen indoors.

2. Zucchini

Zucchini will get huge if you let it – but don’t let it. These are best to pick when they are smaller and more tender. The ideal size is around 1 ½ inches in diameter and between 4-8 inches long.

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If you’re hoping for a few larger zucchinis at the end of the season, don’t worry – there always seems to be a few hiding that you don’t find until they have become rather robust.

3. Lettuce

Young leaf lettuce can be harvested pretty much as soon as it has reached the size you’d like to have it. If you are waiting for more mature and larger leaves, then harvest when they are between 4-6 inches long. For head lettuce, pick when the heads become somewhat firm but before they have formed seed stalks.

4. Carrots

Carrots can be a little tricky for some gardeners, since you cannot see what is happening with them under the soil. Examine the tops and harvest when the diameter is between ¼ to 1 inch. In order to get the best and sweetest flavor, try waiting until there has been a light frost. Be careful as you harvest, because bruising on this root vegetable can cause it to develop soft rot when it is in storage.

5. Beets

The tops of beetroots will begin to emerge as they become ready for harvest. Pick when they are between 1 ¼ to 2 inches in diameter.

6. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts should be harvested when the small heads reach between 1 – 1 ½ inches in diameter. They are easily picked by holding and twisting. In order to speed up the maturation of this vegetable, remove the lower leaves along the stem.

7. Broccoli

‘When Should I Pick It?’ -- Harvesting Essentials For 12 Popular Vegetables

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For broccoli, you want to time it so that you harvest it when it has a nice big flower head but before any of the flowers have started to open. Cut the plant approximately seven inches below the head. Once the main head has been harvested, side heads will develop.

8. Cauliflower

When the curds have reached 2-3 inches in diameter, cover them by loosely tying the head into surrounding leaves. Cauliflower heads should be picked when they have reached full size but are still smooth and white.

9. Peppers

Peppers can be harvested green or ripe, depending on the flavor that you want. If harvesting green, wait until the fruits are full sized and are firm to the touch.

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For ripe (red, yellow, orange or purple) peppers, simply wait until they have reached their full color (generally about 2-3 weeks after reaching full size).

10. Sweet corn

You know that summer is in its apex when sweet corn starts to appear in farmers’ markets and at summer barbeque parties. If you are growing corn yourself, the time to pick it is when the silks have turned brown and dry and the kernels are completely filled. You can determine this by pressing on the husk with your thumbnail.

11. Watermelon

Watermelons should be harvested when they have reached full size – but given the variety of sizes that these tasty summer fruits can come in, how do you know it’s time? Gently turn the fruit and examine the spot where it contacts the ground. If this spot is a cream or yellow color, it means that your watermelon is ready to be harvested.

12. Winter squash

Unlike the summer varieties of squash such as zucchini, the rind of a winter squash should be firm and not easily penetrated by your fingernail. The point where the squash makes contact with the ground should be cream to orange colored depending on the variety that you are growing. If you are picking squash to be put in storage, leave about 2-3 inches of the vine at the top – this will help prevent rot.  While these garden vegetables are hardy and can withstand a light frost, they should be picked before there is a heavy one.

What harvesting advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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

6 Life-Saving Uses For An Ordinary Glass Bottle (Don’t Miss The Video For No. 3!)

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6 Life-Saving Uses For An Ordinary Glass Bottle (Don’t Miss The Video For No. 3!)

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It can be frustrating to see litter and trash lying on streets and in fields, but for the savvy survivalist, some trash can turn into life-saving tools.

One such item that is commonly thrown away but can be re-purposed into a variety of different survival uses is the glass bottle.

Here are seven survival uses for an ordinary glass bottle:

1. Make a glass blade.

A glass bottle can be easily re-purposed as a tool or weapon, and specifically as a glass blade. We’re talking about everything from knives to arrowheads to spear points to practically any kind of razor-sharp instrument that you can think of. Just be careful not to cut yourself when breaking the bottle into the shape you need.

2. Boiling water.

In any kind of survival situation, you will always have to boil or purify water before you drink it. Drinking water that has been contaminated in any way whatsoever can sometimes be more dangerous than not drinking any water at all.

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Simply fill the bottle up from the nearest river or lake that you find, and then suspend it over a fire with some sort of cord. The water will begin to boil in just a matter of minutes, and any harmful bacteria or pathogens inside of it will be eliminated.

3. Starting a fire.

On a day where you have plenty of sun, fill up your glass bottle with clear water. Then, position that bottle in between the sun and whatever you’re using as tinder; charred cloth works best for this method. The sun will shine through the bottle and onto the tinder. Hold the bottle steady and roughly an inch or two above the tinder. (It requires patience.) Once the smoke starts to appear, gently blow on it to create an ember that can then catch flame.

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4. Transporting water.

Make sure that you have a cork or some sort of cloth to wrap around the top as a lid. If you’re electing to stockpile your water, then do so in a cool and dry location; storing water under the sun or in a hot room greatly increases the likelihood of harmful bacteria or pathogens developing in it.

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5. As a container.

You don’t just have to use your glass bottles to store water. You can also use them to keep water out. Store anything in your glass bottles that you need to keep dry, such as sugar, salt, cloth and medications.

6. As a portable torch.

Beyond using your glass bottle to get a fire going, you can also use it to maintain a fire, as well, specifically in the form of a torch. Clean up your water bottle from the inside-out, and make sure that you have a wick and some torch fluid on standby. Fill the bottom part of the bottle with water underneath the wick, and then the rest of the bottle with the torch fluid.

Pour a little bit of the fluid over the wick and then place it into the bottle. Light the wick and you have a torch.

What survival uses would you add? Share your tips in the section below:  

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The Secrets You Need To Know About Fermenting Food

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Survivopedia food fermentation

Foods have been fermented for centuries. It was used originally for preservation but modern knowledge about nutrition has revealed that fermentation provides several nutrients including probiotics, or good bacteria, that helps keep your GI tract healthy.

For survival purposes, this makes it a no-brainer but there are some things that you need to know to safely and effectively ferment foods at home.

What is Fermenting?

Fermenting is actually fairly similar to wine making, except it’s easier and you don’t need as much specialized equipment. Fermentation takes place during a process called lacto-fermentation, in which natural bacteria feed off of the sugar and other carbohydrates in the food to create lactic acid. All you need is the produce, the starter, water, and an anaerobic (air-free) environment.

Some foods are fermented using sugar as a starter, and some are preserved using salt, whey, or even seaweed. Obviously, sauerkraut is salty, but wine is sweet. In a pinch, most foods don’t need the starter because they will eventually create the starter themselves. It’s already on the skin of the produce. Salt does, however, speed up the process and help keep the food crunchy.

Fermentation preserves the nutrients in the food. It also creates other nutrients including essential Omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs but can’t produce, B vitamins, and enzymes that help with digestion. The probiotics created during the process help keep the bacteria in your GI tract in balance.

Fermentation creates a unique, pungent flavor that you may initially find overwhelming (think sauerkraut) but once you get past that, you’ll find that the flavors are actually quite delicious.

What’s the Difference between Fermenting and Pickling?

This gets bit confusing, especially when you think about the fact that salt is used in the fermentation process. So, simply put, the difference between pickling and fermenting is that pickled foods are preserved in an acidic medium such as vinegar. Fermented foods create their own acidic liquid during the fermentation process.

This process is why fermented foods have the wonderful probiotics and other enzymes that pickled foods don’t.

Also, there is no heating or canning process necessary for fermentation. In fact, heating fermented foods in order to can them will likely kill the enzymes.

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What Foods Can Be Fermented?

When you think of fermenting, foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, ginger, and kimchi probably pop into mind. You may be surprised to learn that cheese, salami, bread, vinegar, and olives are other examples of fermented foods. Wine is included in there, too.  Just about any vegetable or fruit can be fermented, but not all of them, such as leafy greens, taste good.

Today, we’re concentrating on fermenting vegetables. Here are some examples of foods that ferment well:

  • Cabbage
  • Cucumbers
  • Okra
  • String beans
  • Green tomatoes
  • Turnips
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Beets
  • Peppers
  • Sweet potatoes/yams
  • Ketchup

You don’t have to use just one vegetable at a time; you can combine them to create chutneys and vegetable blends.

When it comes to fruit, you can most certainly ferment them, but they need to be consumed quickly before the fermentation process turns the sugar to alcohol. You probably don’t want the kids to get drunk off the strawberries.

What Vessels Are Good for Fermentation?

Two of the best vessels to allow your food to ferment in are glass canning jars and stone crocks. You absolutely do not want to use plastic because chemicals can leach into you foods. Metal aren’t good either because the salt corrodes them.

If you choose to use canning jars, use the wide-mouthed variety. You need to use your hand or a tool to pack the veggies tightly. Self-sealing jars are ideal because they lock the air out.

If you use stone crocks, use ones that are glazed inside and, preferably, have airlocks with a release system. You can buy these online and they help you control the fermentation process by making the environment anaerobic. That being said, you can use a standard stone crock. Just make sure that the vegetables are weighted so that they stay submerged so that they ferment, and covered so that bugs can’t get into the brine.

Tips for Fermenting Food at Home

Though fermenting food is almost bulletproof, there are some steps that you can take to make the process more successful and ensure that the food is properly preserved.

  1. How you slice, dice, or cube your veggies doesn’t really matter as long as you keep the pieces fairly uniform so that they ferment at the same pace. Dense vegetables such as turnips, carrots, and beets should be sliced, diced or chopped so that the lactic acid can reach the center.
  2. Keep food submerged in the brine. This is important because food left above the brine will spoil instead of ferment and will ruin the batch.
  3. Fermented foods are acidic and need to have a pH of at least 4.6 or lower.
  4. Though botulism found in home-fermented tofu and other bean products is one of the top causes of food-borne illnesses in china, there’s only been one reported case in the US. Still, follow refrigeration and preservation protocols to avoid this. Botulism is not your friend!
  5. If your food has slime, mold (yeah, some people say it’s fine, but experts say don’t risk it for home fermenting), a creamy white film, a yeasty smell, or your cabbage is brown or pink, it didn’t ferment correctly and isn’t safe to eat. A white film on top is OK as long as there’s no slime.
  6. Be careful if using sealed containers because the fermentation process releases gases that can cause your container or seal to blow. Using airlock devices helps with this.
  7. A film of olive oil across the top of your brine lets gas out while keeping oxygen from getting in.
  8. Though many recipes may call for a starter, you may not want to buy one, or you may not have access to a retailer in a SHTF situation. You don’t really need one – it just hastens the process that will occur anyway.
  9. Don’t forget to sterilize everything that comes into contact with your food, including the jars, utensils, table top and weight. Wash your hands well, too.

How to Ferment Your Food

plumsNow we’re getting down to the good stuff.

There is no blanket recipe for fermenting foods because some veggies obviously already have a lower pH than others.

These foods won’t need as much salt. You’ll also see recipes that call for whey or a starter.

Both of these are to add extra bacteria to get the fermentation process started.

The veggies will do this on their own if you ferment them correctly, so you don’t necessarily need them. Salt is used for preservation.

There are a couple of different ways to begin the fermentation process: You can make salt water brine, or you can salt the produce and use the natural juices from the produce to make the brine.

If using salt brine, simply add 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water. Pack veggies tightly into container, cover with brine, weight the veggies with a heavy plate (you can add a freezer bag full of water to the plate to help weight it if you need to, or a sterilized rock), then let it ferment as follows.

Here are the steps for using the natural juices.

  1. Choose your vegetables. Use only organic produce to ensure that there are no chemicals and the good bacteria can flourish.
  2. Begin by chopping or slicing your food in whatever manner suits you, as long as the brine can penetrate. Are you going to eat it as a relish or in the form of slices on a sandwich? Prepare you food according to what you’re going to use it for.
  3. If you’re using whole vegetables, pack them into your jars or crock. If not, salt your vegetables in layers as you slice them to draw out the moisture, then squeeze, knead, or mash the juice out of your produce and place it into your fermentation container. This will be your brine.
  4. The amount of salt you use depends on the product, but a good rule of thumb is to use 1-3 tablespoons per quart of food or brine. Any type of course sea salt (gray, black, pink, or red), or Himalayan Salt is a good choice if you don’t want the food to taste super salty.

You can use whatever salt you like as long as you make sure that it’s pure salt – no anti-caking agents or any additives. As long as you reach the proper pH, the level of salt is a matter of personal taste. Salty sauerkraut may be fine, but you don’t want your chutney to be so overpowering. Experiment to find what you like.

  1. Tightly pack the food into a fermenting crock or jar and cover completely with the brine.
  2. Add the airlock lids or, if you’re using another type of container, weight the food with a plate or whatever you want to use (not plastic) so that the food stays under the brine. The liquid, and even the veggies, will likely expand during the process, so prepare for that.
  3. Let the veggies ferment and ripen for 7-30 days in a dark place at room temperature. When they process is complete, refrigerate, vacuum can, or store in a cool, dark place. Fermented foods can keep for months.

The Three Fermentation Stages

As I said above, the fermentation process can take anywhere from 3-30 days. This varies depending upon room temperatures and vegetables. During the first stage of fermentation, you’ll notice bubbles. Next, you’ll notice a pleasant, sour aroma. It shouldn’t be yeasty, exactly.

Finally, you’ll notice a sour, tangy flavor. Smell and taste your fermenting veggies daily if you can so that you know when they’re to a stage that you like. If you smell anything rotten, the process has failed. Throw it out.

After your fermented veggies are finished, store them in the fridge, or at least in a cool, dark cellar.

Now you know how to ferment foods at home! But wait, there are more survival secrets to learn from our ancestors! Click on the banner below to discover them!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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10 Quick-Growing Vegetables You Can STILL Plant In August From Seed

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10 Quick-Growing Vegetables You Can STILL Plant In August From Seed

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It’s August, and the window of opportunity has passed for planting tomatoes, peppers and most types of beans. However, if you have an empty space in your garden and you’re itchin’ to fill it, there are several veggies that will do just fine.

Your growing zone does matter, however, and you face a challenge if winter comes early in your area. Read seed packets carefully to determine if you can harvest a crop before Jack Frost makes his first appearance.

Look for quick-maturing varieties with shorter growing seasons. The cultivar name will often give you a clue, and may include words such as “early” or “winter.”

1. Cucumbers have plenty of time to produce an abundance of fruit when planted in August. Look for fast-growing varieties, either bushes or vines.

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2. Kale is a cool weather crop that can be planted now for harvest in fall and winter.

3. Lettuce planted in early- to mid-August provides a delicious fall crop. In late August, plant varieties such as “winter gem” or “arctic king” for harvest in late autumn or early winter. Plant lettuce in a shady location if days are still hot. Mulch plants or protect them with a row cover in the event of cold snaps.

4. Spinach is ready to harvest in about 45 days, but you often can enjoy tender, flavor-rich, baby leaves in less time than that. Harvest the leaves at the base of the plant and the smaller leaves will continue to grow. You can enjoy spinach this way for several weeks, or until the plants are nipped by frost. Although spinach prefers cool temperatures and light shade, it will tolerate sun when daytime temps are cooler.

5. Baby arugula is ready to eat in 21 to 40 days. Toss the tender leaves in salad, sprinkle them lightly with vinaigrette and grated parmesan, or chop a few for your favorite pizza. The flavor is more mild and delicate than mature, full-size arugula.

10 Quick-Growing Vegetables You Can STILL Plant In August From Seed

Radishes. Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Radishes are good eating in about a month, and some types are ready to harvest as soon as three weeks. Look for standard spring radishes like “cherry bomb” or “crimson Giant,” or try winter radishes such as “black Spanish,” or “winter China rose” for a very different flavor experience. You can always add the tiny radish greens to salads.

7. Endive is a frilly salad essential that loves cool weather. Most varieties need at least 45 days, and some may require a couple of months, so check those seed packets.

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8. Beets love cool weather and tend to do well when planted six to eight weeks before the first average frost date in your area. If you’re short on time and cold weather comes early, harvest the beets when they’re as small as an inch in diameter. Keep in mind you can always harvest beet greens even sooner. For a change of pace, try a beet with maroon or blood red leaves, such as “bull’s blood.” The leaves are tender and juicy, and the color adds real zing to your salads.

9. Collards generally take 60 days to gain maturity, but the tender baby greens are ready much sooner. Similarly, mustard greens are ready for salads in about 45 days or less.

10. Turnips may sound like an unlikely success story for August planting, but varieties such as “Tokyo cross” and “market express” are big enough to eat in just 35 to 38 days. If frosty weather looms, grab a few of the tender greens. Turnips may be bitter and less than perfect in hot weather, but cooler temperatures mean sweet, mild turnips.

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

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

10 Tricks For Blue-Ribbon Container Vegetables (No. 4 is a MUST)

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10 Tricks For Blue-Ribbon Container Vegetables

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We all know that growing vegetables in containers is a great way to provide you and your family with fresh fruit and vegetables all year long – and it is especially useful for those who don’t have the space or who might otherwise have difficulty managing a full-size garden.

If you’ve decided to try your hand at container gardening, you’ll be happy to know that there are many tricks and tactics you can use to simplify the process and get better results.

Here are a few ideas for your next container garden:

1. Use a soilless mix.

Many people are surprised to learn that a bag of potting soil actually does not contain any field soil. Instead, it is a mix of organic and inorganic matter that is lighter than actual soil, thus making it easier for plants to grow inside a container.

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

There are many commercial potting soils, but it is also possible to make your own. For most container garden plants, the ideal mix is comprised of peat moss (about 40 percent), pine bark (20 percent), sand (20 percent) and vermiculite (20 percent).

2. Keep plants sheltered from wind and excessive rain.

Plants grown in containers are not typically the strongest of plants, and you may need to baby them a bit more than ones planted directly in the ground. Find a place for your containers that is sheltered from strong wind.

And if you get a summer thunderstorm or downpour, you’ll most likely want to pull them inside a shelter to avoid damage. And while we’re on the topic of downpours, make sure your containers aren’t left sitting in a puddle of water, either.

3. Place herbs around your vegetables.

Most herbs have strong scents and flavors that are wonderful for keeping bugs away. Use this to your advantage and surround more vulnerable plants such as lettuce, peppers, etc., with herbs.

4. Have proper drainage.

One of the trickier aspects of container gardening is to make sure that that roots are not sitting in water. Make sure that the containers you use have proper drainage holes, or if not, provide another means, such as adding pebbles to the bottom of the container or lining it with sheet moss.

5. Plant quick-growing vegetables.

Any vegetable that you can grow in the ground also can be grown in containers. But it’s usually best to steer clear of anything that has a long maturation period – such as corn.

6. Practice succession planting.

10 Tricks For Blue-Ribbon Container Vegetables

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Many of the principles that apply to a regular garden also apply to container gardens. It’s still a good idea to plan your vegetables in succession.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds? Look No Further!

For example, quick-growing crops, such as lettuce, radishes or snow peas, should be planted a little at a time so you don’t end up with more than your family can reasonably eat.

7. Make use of hanging baskets.

Container gardens are a favorite with many gardeners because of their compact nature. But remember that you can make them even more space-efficient by including hanging baskets. Plants like tomatoes and strawberries make good choices for hanging baskets.

8. Stake at the start.

If you are planting something that is going to need a little extra support, be sure to stake it at the beginning. Trying to stake it later could end up damaging the roots.

9. Give plants plenty of water.

Container plants can dry out quickly during dry, hot summers. While most of the time daily watering is sufficient, consider watering twice a day when the temperatures climb higher.

10. Pick off dead leaves.

Removing dead and dying leaves from your plants doesn’t only make them look better, but it also helps protect them from bugs.

Remember these useful strategies and you will be well on your way to having a beautiful and thriving container garden.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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

3 Vegetables You Didn’t Know Could Be Grown Vertically (Yep, We Were Surprised, Too)

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3 Vegetables You Didn’t Know Could Be Grown Vertically (Yep, We Were Surprised, Too)

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Jack may have followed a beanstalk up into the clouds, but beans aren’t the only vegetables that love an excuse to reach heavenwards.

Vertical gardening offers a number of benefits compared to traditional gardening, and is a technique which lends itself well to a surprising number of common plants. This sort of approach is especially helpful when space is at a premium, allowing even a compact section of soil to nurture multiple large plants supported by a trellis or other structure.

Not only does vertical gardening save space, but it also tends to produce healthier plants. The increased air circulation helps reduce problems with pests and diseases, and, because vertical plants are generally easier to access for the gardener, the arrangement tends to result in better watering and fertilizing.

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Let’s take a look at three plants you might be surprised can be grown vertically.

1. Squash

Squash are notorious space hogs, but by sending them skyward they’ll be less likely to overwhelm your garden.  For best results, seek out smaller varieties, like zucchini, pie pumpkins, or acorn squash, that will be easier to shore up. Note, though, that because of their weight, even relatively small squash will require sturdy supports, so consider constructing a trellis with a metal frame to prevent mid-season tragedy.

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2. Cucumbers

While many people are accustomed to seeing bush cucumber plants, several varieties (especially heirloom varieties) are available that embrace the vertical lifestyle and can grow upwards of five feet high if carefully supported. This distance from the dirt is especially helpful in preventing fungal infections and other diseases from overwhelming cucumber plants.

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3. Melons

Like squash, small melons can readily be trained to climb trellises rather than sprawl across the garden. To prevent damaging tender vines, avoid using string to attach the plant to the structure. Instead, consider using surveyor’s tape, strips of fabric, or even pieces of nylon to coax the growing plant along. Once the fruit starts to weigh more than a pound or two, create a sling for it (mesh vegetable bags or cut up nylons work great) to shift the weight of it to the support structure rather than having it pulling entirely on the vine.

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Some gardeners grow these three vegetables near a fence, which can provide even more support.

Vertical gardening is a great way to increase both the yield and the appearance of vegetable plants grown at home. Consider incorporating the different plants listed above in your next garden plan and discover that, when it comes to growing food at home, the sky really is the limit.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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

8 ‘Magical’ Vegetables You Can Regrow From Scraps (With A Little Help)

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8 ‘Magical’ Vegetables You Can Regrow From Scraps (With A Little Help)

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Vegetables typically get one go-round in the kitchen, and then we toss the carrot tops, sprouted garlic or celery bottoms in the compost bin or garbage can without giving it a second thought. Who would imagine that many kitchen scraps actually have the potential to regrow into usable vegetables?

Most vegetables won’t regrow indefinitely, and they probably won’t grow enough to feed your family for very long. However, re-growing vegetables can save you money and in the meantime, many are attractive, decorative plants that bring a bit of the outdoors into your kitchen. If you’re looking for fun gardening projects to inspire kids, this one is sure to be a hit.

Try these vegetables:

1. Celery, bok choy and romaine lettuce – Slice the bottom from the bunch and put it in a bowl of warm water with the cut side facing up and just the root end submerged. Watch for leaves to emerge from the center as the outer section gradually turns yellow and deteriorates. Once the celery bottom has several healthy leaves, plant it in a container filled with potting mix, with only the leaf tips showing above the soil.

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2. Avocado – This is an old trick that kids love. Unfortunately, the plant isn’t likely to bear fruit unless you’re patient and willing to wait a dozen years or so. In the meantime, enjoy the lush, green plant.

To grow an avocado plant, just use toothpicks to suspend a cleaned seed, wide end facing down, over a glass of water so only the bottom half of the seed is submerged. Place the glass in a warm spot where the avocado is exposed to indirect sunlight. Check the water every day and add more as needed.

Looking For Non-GMO Seeds? Look No Further!

Once the stem grows to about 6 inches, cut it down to about 3 inches. When you notice new leaves, plant the avocado in potting mix with about half the seed above the surface of the soil. Keep the soil moist but not soggy.

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3. Potatoes – Cut potato peels into 2-inch chunks, each with at least two eyes. Set the chunks on the countertop to dry for a day or two, and then plant them in a large, deep container with the eyes facing up. Cover the potato chunks with 4 inches of soil, and then as the plant grows, add an extra 4 inches of soil. The new, tender potatoes will be ready to harvest in a few weeks.

4. Onions – Slice the root end from the onion, along with about a half-inch of the onion. Plant the onion in potting mix, root side down, and water as needed to keep the soil moist. The onion should be ready to harvest in several weeks. At that time, cut off the root end and grow yet another onion.

5. Ginger root – Plant a small chunk of ginger root in potting mix, with the buds facing up. Water as needed to keep the soil moist, and then harvest the entire plant, roots and all, in a few months. Grow ginger root indefinitely by saving a small chunk from the new root.

6. Garlic – If you’ve left a garlic clove a little too long and it’s sprouted, don’t throw it away. Just plant the clove in a pot with the root end facing down. When the clove is well-established and displays new growth, trim the shoots so that energy is concentrated on the clove. You can grow garlic this way indefinitely; just start a new garlic clove from the newly grown bulb.

7. Carrots – Unfortunately, you can’t grow new carrots with carrot tops, but you can use the lacy tops as an attractive garnish. Put the carrot tops in a tray or dish with a little water, cut sides down, and place the dish in bright sunlight. Check the carrot tops daily and replenish the water as needed. Snip off small amounts as often as needed.

8. Cilantro – It’s easy to start this pungent culinary herb by placing a few stems in a jar of water. When the stems root, plant them in a pot. The new plant will be ready to use in a few months.

What advice would you add? What vegetables would you have placed on our list? Share your ideas in the section below:

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

The Row-Less Garden: The Better Way To Grow Your Food

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The Row-Less Garden: The Better Way To Grow Your Food

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While long rows of evenly spaced plants may appeal to a classic sense of what gardening is “supposed to look like,” it isn’t the only way to go … or grow. Row-less gardening offers a number of advantages, especially for small-scale gardeners.

Row-less gardening is a general term for any garden arrangement that doesn’t follow the traditional pattern of planting in continuous lines. While row gardening is great for large farming operations that have lots of land and use heavy equipment to care for it, it isn’t necessarily the best solution for home gardens.

There are several alternatives to row gardening, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Some of these options include:

  • Biointensive gardening. Companion plants are grown together, typically in a tight hexagonal pattern after the soil has been double-dug and well-composted, for a remarkably plant-dense gardening space.
  • Square foot gardening. Raised beds no larger than 4-feet across are divided into individual square-foot sections, each home to a different kind of crop. One square foot might be home to a single tomato plant right next door to another square foot filled with four lettuce plants.
  • Container gardening. Vegetables and other crops are planted in movable containers, making it an ideal solution for apartment dwellers or others who appreciate the convenience and beauty of patio gardens.

No matter which row-less approach you take, deciding not to “tow the line” when it comes to your garden offers a number of benefits.

1. Provides better use of space.

Row gardening leaves lots of room equipment to maneuver through acres of crops, which also means it leaves lots of potential growing areas unused. Especially if you’re strapped for space, switching to a row-less format is an easy way to get more out of the ground by planting things closer together and by avoiding all the empty space between rows.

2. Avoids compaction.

Plants love loose soil. When the ground is light and friable, water is able to move through it freely, transporting nutrients and preventing the roots from becoming waterlogged. Loose soil also allows atmospheric gases to flow back and forth to the roots and is generally easier for new roots to maneuver through. With row gardening, we walk often on large stretches of ground — the area between the rows.

Need Non-GMO Seeds? Get The Best Deals Here!

This continual compression of the ground leads to compacted soil, which is difficult to grow in, which is especially problematic as the row sizes and spacing change each year.

3. Allows complete control over the soil.

The Row-Less Garden: The Better Way To Grow Your Food

Image source: Pixabay.com

Not only does row-less gardening avoid soil compaction, but – depending on which method you choose — it can give you greater control of the soil. Rather than settling for whatever kind of soil is endemic to your backyard, by using raised beds, containers or double-digging, you’re in a position to completely customize the kind of soil your plants encounter. Great soil means great harvests.

4. Wastes less water.

Growing plants in denser configurations makes it easier to deliver necessary moisture and nutrients directly to them without a lot of waste. Unless careful consideration is given to drip irrigation or other custom solutions, row gardening is notoriously inefficient when it comes to water consumption, wasting gallons on the empty spaces between the crops.

5. Is simply beautiful.

While gardening is fundamentally about providing food, it also can be an incredibly satisfying and even artistic endeavor. Freeing yourself from the assumption that gardens are supposed to be planted in rows will allow you to create a garden that perfectly matches your aesthetic interests. With row-less gardening, there’s no reason not to have a square of sunflowers surrounded by readily-ripening tomatoes, or a container of cosmos next to a box of carrots. By letting go of strict rows, you’re in a position to design the type of garden that will maximize your enjoyment while minimizing wasted space.

Row-less gardening is an increasingly popular approach to backyard growing. Especially if you don’t have a lot of extra room to work with, pursuing a less-conventional layout can be a great way to get the garden you really want in a way that makes the best possible use of resources like water, soil and space.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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

10 Vegetables That Just Might Grow Better In Containers

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10 Vegetables That Just Might Grow Better In Containers

Swiss chard. Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Growing vegetables in containers is touted as something you do if you’re an urbanite without space for a “real” garden. People often turn to container gardening when back or knee pain make bending and digging too difficult, or when the soil is so poor that it’s incapable of supporting life.

How about growing vegetables in containers because it’s a rewarding, enjoyable activity? No excuse is required. More and more people are discovering that container gardening is a perfectly viable method for growing vegetable crops.

Container gardening is so popular these days that growers have created dwarf versions of even super-size plants (like watermelons).

In fact, some vegetables actually thrive in smaller accommodations.

1. Tomatoes are a little on the fussy side, and thus, they’re perfectly suited for containers. Growing tomatoes in containers makes it easier to monitor and control soil moisture, and it’s easy to move the plants to take advantage of warmth and sunlight. Cherry or grape varieties are ideal, but most types of tomatoes, including standard sizes, do well in pots measuring a minimum of 22 inches in diameter.

Need Non-GMO Seeds? Get The Best Deals Here!

2. Lettuce has shallow roots and tends to grow best in containers that are not too deep. A small container on a front step is handy for easy snipping, while a larger container can accommodate a seed mix for colorful, flavorful salads. Move the pot to a shady spot on sunny afternoons.

3. Spinach needs rich soil, easy to provide in containers filled with a lightweight, compost-based potting mix. Locate the container where it’s sunny during the day and cool at night, and then harvest the power-packed leaves as needed.

4. Swiss chard is a durable, heat-tolerant plant that grows like crazy in containers. Harvest when the leaves are young and tender for the best flavor.

5. Potatoes are easy to plant and even easier to dig in containers, and you may be surprised how many spuds you can harvest. Try smaller varieties like Yukon gold or red Pontiac.

10 Vegetables That Just Might Grow Better In Containers

Eggplant. Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Eggplant is an attractive plant that thrives in containers, but you’ll probably have the best luck with compact varieties like Patio Baby, which produces plenty of mild-flavored, miniature fruit. Little Fingers, with clusters of three to six, long, narrow, deep purple eggplants, is yummy when harvested at finger-size.

7. Carrots do well in containers with a depth of at least 12 inches, or try short, round carrots for shallower pots. Thin the plants as they develop and enjoy the tender, finger-sized carrots. Varieties worth trying include Thumbelina or Short ‘N Sweet.

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

8. Cucumbers don’t tolerate cold and should be planted in early summer in most climates. Dwarf plants with compact vines are best suited for containers, but you’ll still need a trellis to support the vines. Consider Arkansas Little Leaf, Spacemaster, Fanfare or Patio King, or try your hand at small “lemon” cucumbers.

9. Radishes, dwarf veggies by their very nature, are easy to grow in containers. Their speedy growth and colorful appearance makes them the perfect vegetable for young gardeners.

10. Summer squash is one of those vegetables that seem ill-suited for containers, but compact varieties like Spacemiser zucchini or Sunburst scalloped squash perform amazingly well in pots.

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

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

Aquaponics: The Secret To Growing More Food Than You Can Eat

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Off-Grid Life In a $4,500 Converted School Bus

Each spring and summer, gardeners and homesteaders plan their gardens with the goal of growing the most vegetables possible.

But few of them consider aquaponics, a growing method that involves fish and allows gardeners to grow far more vegetables than they can grow in the ground – without dirt and mostly without weeds.

Aquaponics is the topic on this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio as we talk to off-gridder and blogger Zachary Bauer, who has one of the largest solar-powered aquaponics systems in America.

Bauer says aquaponics doesn’t have to be complicated and that anyone can do it – no matter the size of the homestead or plot of land.

Bauer also tells us:

  • What vegetables can (and cannot) be grown through aquaponics.
  • Why vegetables grow faster in aquaponics.
  • What types of fish work best in an aquaponics system.
  • How often the fish from such a system can be harvested.
  • What you need to get started.

Bauer gives us the pros and cons of aquaponics, and he tells us how he set his own system up – and how you can, too. Don’t miss this amazing show if you’re an homesteader or off-gridder looking to grow more food!

How To Build A Portable Survival Garden

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survivopedia portable garden

There are several reasons why you’d want to build a portable garden, but today we’re going to focus on building a portable garden for bugging out.

Some of you may only have space in the back of your car or truck, and some of you have a hitch that can pull an entire shed or trailer.

If you’re planning on building a large portable survival garden, it should probably have walls for two reasons: you don’t want to damage your plants when traveling and you don’t want others to know that you have a truckload of food.

Weight and Size

The first thing that you need to consider when planning your portable garden, besides the space you’ll have available, is weight. How many people are going to be available to help you load up and how strong are they? Raised beds can get heavy fast when you factor in the weight of dirt along with the weight of the plants.

If you have access to a forklift or have plenty of people to help you load, then larger raised beds may not be an issue. If you’re going it  alone or with people who aren’t so strong, then you should probably go with small beds or some of the other options that I’ll discuss.

Size, of course, depends on how much space you have and how you’ll be transporting the plants. You won’t want to plan portable trellises or large beds if you’re going to put them in a truck bed, car, or low-roofed trailer. As with everything, think ahead when planning your portable survival garden.

Types of Portable Survival Gardens

There are several different methods  that you can use to grow your garden so that you can take it with you if you bug out. You can also combine methods so that you  can take more of your garden with you.

Potted Plants

poted plants

If you have limited space, you can always plant your veggies and spices in pots and hanging baskets. Since you can adapt the sizes of the pots to the size of the plants, this is a great way to make your plants portable, and to use space efficiently.

You can put the smaller planters in between the larger ones while transporting, or even put them in the floorboard of your car.

Portable Raised Bed Survival Gardens

There are a couple of different ways that you can make your raised beds portable. You can adjust the size to meet your needs and capabilities.

Portable Raised Beds on Stilts

First, you can make your raised bed survival garden small enough that you can pick them up and move them. This works great for plants that grow low to the ground or for short plants that can be grown close together such as peppers. Here’s an inexpensive, easy plan for building one.

The idea is similar to window boxes except they’ll be on the ground. Build them on stilts so that they’re easy to pick up. If you plant them on the ground, they’ll likely sink and be difficult to pick up. A huge advantage here is that you can load them into the back of the truck.

Larger Portable Raised Beds on Casters

If you go with a larger raised bed, you can put casters on the bottom to make them portable. If you go this route, it needs to be built on concrete or on placed on 2x4s so that the castors don’t sink in. Here’s a great instructable for portable raised beds. You can adjust the size to meet your needs.

raised bed

Vertical Gardening Made Portable

We’ve talked about vertical gardening before, but most types of plants grown vertically would travel well in the back of a truck or in a closed trailer. If you’re using potted plants, you can always pull them right off the latticework and carry them with you as described above.

diy vertical gardenThe only adjustments that you’ll have to make when planning a portable vertical garden versus a stationary one is ease of movement.

Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re using potted plants but if you’re using vining plants, you need to make the vertical structure so that it’s easy to disassemble, or small enough that it will fit into whatever method of transportation that you’re using.

You should also use durable material to build the structure.

PVC works great because it’s light and can be built to disassemble.

Panel  grid wire is also a good choice because it’s light, sturdy, and comes in a variety of sizes. You can always cut it down to meet your needs.

Ladders are also another good option.

Portable Survival Garden Houses

I absolutely love this idea, but you’ll need a hitch and a vehicle with enough power to pull it. If you’re travelling on level roads, you won’t need as much horsepower as if you’re traveling on mountainous or hilly terrain.

Portable Greenhouses

greenhouse

You can buy or build a greenhouse fairly inexpensively and they’re multi-purpose. You can use them to extend growing periods in good times, but if things go south, you can always pack them up and go with them.

Portable greenhouses need to be a bit sturdier than the average greenhouse, so I’d recommend using Plexiglas instead of plastic sheeting. Buildeazy offers a free plan that is not only versatile, but you can also modify it to suit your size. It provides several different options for building materials, so that’s good, too. Remember that you’ll need a solid floor if it’s going to be portable.

If you really want to make a greenhouse portable, build it on a trailer base so that all you have to do is maintain the tires and hitch it to your truck if you need to go in a hurry. It’s also easy to load your vertical gardens, potted plants or gear into this, so you can use the space efficiently.

To add to the internal stability of the plants, I would probably modify the shelving so that the pots can be attached, or make them so that the plants sit down in the shelf. Just off the top of my head, I’d either cut pre-sized holes in the shelves or use some sort of sturdy wire mesh shelving that can be adapted with different size holes since most planters come in standard sizes.

Finally, this structure could actually serve as a shelter for wherever you’re going after you unload the plants. My imagination is running wild with the possibilities here; solar panels, rainwater collection systems, etc.

Tiny Homes

This idea kind of feeds off of the last one. If you really want to get the biggest bang out of your portable survival garden idea, then this is the way to go. There are many tiny homes that are built in such a way that many of the inside structures fold up to make them easier to transport.

You could, of course, transport small vertical plant structures, potted plants, window planters and even small raised beds inside of them and unload them when you arrive at your bug out destination.

tiny houseOne idea that I have, though, is to make a tiny house with a covered porch  that can be enclosed with hinged doors that open to provide a really cute serve as storage for such items as pots and pans, hanging plants, garden tools, or just about anything else that you’d want to hang.

In the meantime, when traveling, the doors would be closed and serve as additional storage for gear or plants.

Another house with this theme is shown in the article that I wrote about tiny houses.

The one in the picture is a bit pricey, but you could build it yourself for much less and adapt the size and insides to suit your needs. I even like the idea of the window planters on the outside, modified so that they can be covered for travel, of course.

Once you get to your bug out destination, you’d be ready to quite literally unpack an instant house and garden. Again, build it on wheels and add a hitch so that you can load up, hook up, and head out.

There are many different ways to make a portable survival garden; you just need to think a bit ahead and plan according to what transportation you have and what plants you want to take.

Think about the old ways our ancestors used for survival and click on the banner below to learn more of their secrets!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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9 Ways Container Gardening Is Just Plain Better Than Traditional Gardening

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9 Ways Container Gardening Is Just Plain Better Than Traditional Gardening

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The traditional garden is a thing of beauty indeed — a well-tended patch of cultivated ground with neat, straight rows of lush, green vegetables. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that image, and many gardeners would have it no other way. In recent years, however, alternative techniques, such as square-foot or raised beds, have come to the forefront.

Container gardening is one alternative that has amassed a dedicated following of space-challenged gardeners. While lack of acreage for a traditional garden is one reason for the popularity of container gardening, it’s only scratching the surface when it comes to the many benefits of growing vegetables in pots:

1. No weeding necessary – Any gardener who has ever planted a traditional garden is familiar with the arduous labor involved in frequent weed pulling and hoeing under the hot summer sun. Vegetables in containers, on the other hand, are generally grown in sterile potting medium. It isn’t impossible that a stray weed may occasionally find its way to the container, but weeds are rare and easily dispatched.

Need Non-GMO Seeds? Get The Best Deals Here!

2. Easy on the back – If your back complains every time you grab a shovel or hoe, then give yourself a break; container gardening is easy on the back, (and the knees, too). While container gardening is helpful for folks with a few aches and pains, it’s often the answer for people who have had to give up the pleasure of gardening due to various physical limitations. Even a wheelchair-bound person can enjoy container gardening.

3. Decreased chance of disease – Container-grown vegetables certainly aren’t immune from disease, but plants in a well-drained container filled with lightweight potting mix tend to be less susceptible than those grown in the ground. Proper watering is a factor, as soggy soil may result in root rot, which is nearly always fatal.

4. Reign in aggressive plants – If you’re concerned that a plant is beautiful and useful but just too much of a pest to grow in the garden, then a container will control rambunctious growth. Mint and lemon balm are prime examples of lovely, aromatic herbs that will take over your entire landscape very quickly if they aren’t contained.

9 Ways Container Gardening Is Just Plain Better Than Traditional Gardening5. Control the weather! (Sort of) – Moving containers from one spot to another allows you to take advantage of sunlight or shade, or to provide shelter in case of an unexpected cold snap, which in turn, means a longer growing season. Place a large container on a rolling platform to simplify relocation.

6. Fresh and convenient – Containers on a patio, deck or balcony are typically handy to the kitchen. Snip a few fresh herbs for dinner or harvest leafy lettuce or spinach and a juicy, ripe tomato for an unbelievably delicious salad. What could be better (or fresher)?

7. A no-till garden – Tilling isn’t only back-breaking work, but loosening the soil can unleash a monstrous amount of dormant weed seeds, meaning more back-breaking work throughout the season. Additionally, many gardening pros agree that cultivation actually disturbs important soil organisms, thus upsetting the natural balance of life in the garden.

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

8. Containers are pretty – Containers may be as utilitarian as an old washtub or a row of terracotta pots, but for gardeners with a creative bent, pots are available in nearly every color under the rainbow. Look for containers made of wood, glazed ceramic, plastic or concrete, each with their own set of advantages and a few drawbacks, too. Have fun, but do your homework and consider your budget before investing in containers for your vegetable crop.

9. Vegetables are pretty, too – It’s all about practicality when it comes to growing vegetables in containers, but it’s a nice bonus that many vegetables are also highly decorative. Bright purple kale may be the queen of ornamental vegetables, but colorful veggies like chili peppers, bold rainbow chard, or bright purple eggplant add a real spark to the container garden. Don’t forget irresistible red tomatoes; frilly parsley or carrot plants; spiky, upright onions and chives; bright green basil; purple green beans on a trellis; or a cucumber vine draped gracefully over the side of the container.

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

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

The Vegetables You Gotta Grow If Society Collapses

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The Vegetables You Gotta Grow If Society Collapses

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We live in troubled economic times. A raging debt, stagnant wages, severe unemployment and underemployment, and an unsteady housing market are all signs that the economy could collapse.

Many off-gridders and homesteaders are preparing and stockpiling for an unknown future, but one often-overlooked area is examining what grows in the garden. If society collapses, it may be necessary to change what we plant.

When considering the right vegetables to grow when planning for an economic or societal collapse, there are many factors to consider.

Long-Term Storage

An economic or societal collapse may disrupt the electric grid, or at the very least make power unaffordable. With the exception of those living completely off the grid with no need for fuel, many homesteads will have to turn to traditional storage methods for preserving vegetables. Therefore, vegetables that can be stored long-term in a cellar or cold room should be part of the garden. Even in the hotter climates in the United States, cellars can be dug underground.

Need Non-GMO Seeds? Get The Best Deals Here!

Good choices for long-term storage are potatoes, onions, carrots and similar root vegetables, as well as dry beans, dry corn and winter squash.

Appropriate to Your Climate

Americans love to grow a wonderful array of vegetables that are not native to their particular climates. For example, tomatoes are the favorite vegetable to grow, even though they are perennials native to the tropics. We start them in early spring and grow them as annuals. We also do this with peppers and eggplant.

The Vegetables You Gotta Grow If Society Collapses

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However, if no electricity is available, grow lights are out of the question, and many households in the north may not have enough sunlight or heat to start the plants.

So for those Americans in cold climates with short summers, opt for vegetables that thrive in those conditions. Potatoes, Cole crops, root vegetables and peas are good choices. Those in the south with long growing seasons have more choices.

Spring and Fall Crops

In most areas of the country, vegetables can be grown to maturity in the spring, summer and fall. Without refrigeration, a variety of fresh vegetables throughout as much of the year as possible is desirable. So in a typical American garden, you can get lettuce and peas in the spring, summer vegetables in the summer, and Cole crops in the fall.

Perennial Vegetables

Starting a garden is hard work — especially getting the soil right. With perennials, you can do all the hard prep work one time and then let the perennials like asparagus and artichokes reward you, year after year.

Barter

With economic or societal collapse, Americans would likely turn to the old way of buying and selling items — bartering. So look around you and your community and see if there are vegetables you could grow to barter. For example, if your neighbors raise rabbits and feed them pellets from the feed store, they would likely be happy to trade for fresh food when the economy forces feed stores to close. Or perhaps your neighbors have a few pigs, and would appreciate root vegetables to supplement their feed.

Many neighbors likely will be desperate for fresh food when the grocery stores close and the power goes out. Long-term vegetables, discussed above, would be a good idea because you could trade them through the fall and winter.

Fruits and Nuts

Many homesteaders focus on annual vegetables because they mature quickly within a few months. However, if you have the space, soil, sunlight and water, consider longer-term investments like fruit vines, fruit trees and nut trees. Once established, these can provide a bounty of fresh fruits during the summer and fall, as well as preserves throughout the year.

Conclusion

Whatever vegetables you decide to grow, learn how to do it now. It will take a few years of practice to find reliable cultivars for your area, and learn the skills of seed saving and long-term storage.

What advice would you add? What vegetables would you recommend growing? Share your tips in the section below:

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

7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

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7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

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Companion planting — the practice of intentionally planting two or more species in close proximity to each other — has many advantages.

Paired properly, companion plants can help each other grow, deter pests, reduce weeds and even improve flavor. Unfortunately, not all plants are ready to link leaves and sing “Kumbaya” together. In this post, we’ll look at vegetable pairs that should be kept far apart from one another.

1. Corn and tomatoes

While you’d think a common enemy would make for good friends, in the garden it’s usually a recipe for disaster. Both corn and tomato are vulnerable to the same worm and the same fungal infections and if planted too close together, it makes it easy for invaders to conquer both at once.

2. Cucumber and sage

It sounds like it should be the name of an enticing new lotion fragrance, but as friendly as they may seem in the cosmetics aisle, cucumber and sage have no business being together in the garden. In fact, cucumbers and almost all aromatic herbs have an antagonistic relationship. The strong scent of sage and other herbs are likely to affect the final flavor of the cucumber, resulting in an unpleasant off-taste.

3. Radishes and hyssop

Another herb-vegetable combination to avoid is radishes and hyssop. Hyssop is a fragrant flowering herb used to scent potpourri and prepare teas, but it also tends to wreak havoc with radishes. Don’t write off hyssop entirely, though — it’s great for luring away cabbage moths and is said to help make grapes grow.

4. Onions and peas

Mom may have spent a lot of time trying to talk you into eating the onions and peas hidden together in a casserole dish, but out in the garden you can keep them as far away from each other as you’d like.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

In fact, the entire legume family and the entire allium family tend to “go Godfather” on each other, likely because onion (and its many relatives like shallots, leeks and garlic) set up root systems with large radii that have a tendency to hoard needed nutrients from beans and peas.

5. Tomatoes and potatoes

7 Vegetable Pairs You Should NEVER Plant Together (No. 5 Is Where Everyone Messes Up)

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While it may be fun to say their names together, tomatoes and potatoes don’t belong together in the garden. Both are subject to the same early and late blights, making it easy for a problem with one to quickly become a problem for both.

6. Dill and carrots

Dill participates in some of the most complicated companion planting relationships you’re likely to find in the vegetable garden. Loved for its small yellow blossoms and bright perky flavor, dill will do great things for asparagus plants, broccoli plants and a wide range of others. On the other hand, it seriously inhibits carrots. Both part of the Umbelliferae family, dill can cross-pollinate with carrots to a disastrous end. Even more confusing? The relationship between dill and tomatoes. Planting dill and tomato together will benefit the tomato … at least until the dill reaches maturity, at which point it will start to stunt the growth of tomatoes and should be moved.

7. Strawberries and cabbage

Save any combination of strawberries and cabbage (and other brassicas like broccoli and cauliflower) for the salad bar. While strawberries appreciate the presence of onions, thyme, bean, and sage planted nearby, they get tired of having to call the cops on their pest-prone cabbage neighbors.

Although far from an exact science, keeping these neighbor no-nos in mind when planning your garden will help you get the most out of your garden space.

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

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

The Trick To Growing 50 Lbs. Of Tomatoes In The Smallest Space Possible

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The Trick To Growing 50 Lbs. Of Tomatoes In The Smallest Space Possible

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If you’re like most people new to homesteading and self-sufficiency, then you have limited space to garden. What’s the best way to make the most of your small parcel of land? Vertical gardening.

Vertical gardening allows you to produce more food per square foot of space than you could growing horizontally. One good example is growing squash. If you grow squash traditionally, then one plant can take as much as 16 square feet of space. If you have a small lot, that may mean your whole yard will be taken up by a couple of plants. Indeterminate tomato plants also can take up a bunch of room if not staked up.

In an area that is 1 foot by 6 feet, you can grow a cucumber plant, tomato plant and blackberries just fine. You could produce a couple of pints of blackberry jam, 30-50 pounds of tomatoes and 10-20 pounds of cucumbers in that small area.

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

Besides saving room, growing vertically also will help keep your plants healthy, make it easier for insects to fertilize flowers, require less weeding, and make it easier to harvest. It’s the best way to make the most of your space.

Older people or people with medical conditions will have a much easier time of gardening in this fashion. Everything becomes taller, so picking or working with your plants is more enjoyable. Anyone who has spent hours on their hands and knees in the hot sun will appreciate this fact.

Some of the ways you can go vertical is by using garden netting. Stringing your netting between posts is among the fastest ways to go vertical. You will need to sink in the posts deep enough so that when the weight of the crop is applied, the posts won’t pull in together.

The Trick To Growing 50 Lbs. Of Tomatoes In The Smallest Space Possible

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Wood trellis is also a good option. This is a bit more labor intensive but can also be really attractive in appearance. Having a raised bed with an attached wood trellis adds functionality and beauty to any garden.

Going vertical can be as simple as a horizontal line strung about 6 feet in the air above the peas or tomatoes. Then, each plant will have a string tied to the main string and the other end to the plant, so they can crawl up as the plant grows.

Smaller plants also can be grown vertically by other crafty methods:

  • Using gutters strung up on a wall or structure.
  • Planting in skids that are crafted to hold soil.
  • Going vertical downward (planting cucumbers in buckets and letting them dangle down a patio).
  • Using plastic plant bags that are meant for hanging.

Some plants are better than others when it comes to vertical gardening. Indeterminate varieties of tomatoes and cucumbers like to crawl, making it natural for them to climb. Determinate tomatoes and cucumbers like to bush, so they don’t produce as much in an area like the indeterminate do.

When it comes down to it, you can get more efficient with planting. You may be surprised with what you can produce in a small yard when you get crafty!

What tips would you add on growing vertically? Share your advice in the section below:

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

Watering Wisely: 6 Ways To Ensure Your Garden Stays Hydrated This Summer

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Watering Wisely: 6 Ways To Ensure Your Garden Stays Hydrated This Summer

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We take care to keep ourselves moisturized throughout the long, hot days of summer, but how many of us remember to do the same for our plants? Most gardeners, either experienced or new, know you need to water your crops to allow them to grow, but the question of “how much,” or simply “how,” creates an even bigger question. These questions are all part of watering smart.

While sun and heat are both good for your vegetable plants, too much can destroy the well-deserved crop. Your vegetables will wilt, wither and dry up. Because of this, you will need to water when needed, but not overdo it. Some gardeners don’t have the time to devote to a regular watering routine, especially during dry weather. As a gardener, you will need to learn to anticipate your garden’s needs and priorities. Let’s take a look at this important topic of watering during the summer.

The whole idea of watering your garden, is to replicate the soaking action of the rain. Not just a sprinkle, but an honest amount of rain. The water needs to be able to reach the very ends of the roots.

Roots of any plant will change their growth patterns in response to wet or dry growing conditions. Plants will close their stomata to preserve moisture during dry times, and roots will grow closer to the surface when the ground is extremely wet so they can get more oxygen.

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

Smart watering saves on wasting time and, of course, saves water. There are ways to conserve water, while making sure the garden gets the moisture it needs. Keep in mind that freshly planted seeds need extra care and water. Cover them with burlap or flower pots on those really hot summer days.

Here are some ideas for keeping your garden hydrated during the hotter months.

Ideas for Wise Watering

Watering Wisely: 6 Ways To Ensure Your Garden Stays Hydrated This Summer

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1. Know your soil. If you have a garden with a lot of clay, remember that water will filter through very slowly. At least once a week you should give the garden and vegetables a good, deep soak. If you have ground that is more sandy, then water will go through it pretty quickly; you will have to soak more often. A deep soak twice a week should be good in this situation. Gardens in full sun will obviously dry out faster than those gardens situated in partly sunny to shady areas.

2. Mulch. Mulch can be used around any plant, tree or shrub. It maintains moisture in the soil and creates a barrier between the plant and sun. Mulch also controls the soil temperature, giving protection to the roots. In simple terms, mulch controls and prevents inconsistent levels of moisture and temperature in the soil.

3. Longer watering, less often. Instead of watering each day for short periods of time, it is better to space out your watering, and when you water, do it for longer. You want the water to saturate, but not flood, the soil. Having the water soak deep into the ground is better than giving a quick water to wet the soil. By watering longer, but less frequently, the water can soak down through the soil into the roots.

4. Keep the weeds under control. Try to keep an eye on weeds, and get rid of them as soon as possible. Weeds will absorb the water and nutrients meant for your vegetable plants.

5. Timing. Wise gardeners say the best times to water are in the morning or evening. The middle of the day is usually the hottest, and if you water plants during that time the water will evaporate very quickly, reducing moisture for the plants.

6. Use compost. Compost can be used along with mulch or on its own. Not only does compost encourage healthy plant growth and nutrients, but it also absorbs and holds water.

A Final Thought on Effective Watering

If you don’t have a hose or watering can, try using an empty jug for gradual watering. Make small holes in the jug’s bottom edges. Place it (you may need more than one jug) in an area by your plants. When you fill the jug with water, the moisture will soak slowly into the soil by the roots.

Just like us, our gardens need to keep moisture levels just right to grow their best. Whether you have an abundance of time or just enough to keep your garden going, make sure you water wisely. Your garden will thank you.

What are your best watering tips? Share them in the section below:

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

4 Ways To Help Your Plants Survive A Heatwave

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Survivopedia plants and heatwave

Plants need sunshine to grow, but when the temperatures are too hot, your plants feel the impact. They can wilt, wither, and eventually die from too much heat.

The best way to prepare your plants is to incorporate protection into your garden plan. You can look for local plant varieties that are proven in your area’s weather.

On your hottest days, you’ll still need to take extra precautions, but picking the right kinds will give your plants a better chance.

You should also plan your garden for heat. Sun map your plot so you know what areas get the most sun. Use taller plants to offer shade to smaller ones. Add trees to your master plan, and use the shade they offer wisely as you plan.

Even if you haven’t planned for hot days, there are steps you can take to protect your plants from a heatwave. These will help ensure you don’t lose your harvest.

Water

wateringThe roots of plants take up water and it’s delivered to the rest of the plant through a variety of veins.

It takes energy for the plant to get the water where it needs to go.

During the hottest part of the day, plants are expending energy simply staying alive in the heat.

They don’t have the energy they need to efficiently move water through their veins.

Mid-day watering may reach the roots, but it’s not likely to travel up the plant to where it’s most needed.

So when you water, make sure it’s in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are a bit lower. This way your watering efforts aren’t wasted.

Since the roots have to get the water, drip irrigation systems help deliver the water where it’s needed. When you water from above, it’s harder for the roots to get as much water. They’re competing with the other plants or weeds in the area, and with evaporation from the sun.

You’re also more likely to cause runoff when you water with a traditional hose or sprinkler. The dry ground takes time to absorb the water. If you apply too much water too quickly, it’ll get the top soil wet and then runoff.

Drip irrigation allows you to slowly water the top soil, and the soil the roots are actually growing in. You want to get that water about 18 inches into the ground. That way the roots can continue to use it once you’ve stopped watering.

During the hottest days, you don’t want to overwater your plants. Moist soil and hot days offer the perfect environment for a variety of fungi and other plant problems. Overwatering encourages their growth.

Plan on soaking your garden once a week, and always test the soil for moisture before watering. Wilted leaves aren’t always a sign that more water is needed. Sometimes, plants wilt in the sun just because of the heat. If your wilted plants look better in the cool evening, they aren’t in need of water.

If you find certain plants do need more water, you don’t need to water everything to save that plant. Just spot water, allowing the water to penetrate the ground into the roots. Applying water correctly will help your plants survive in the heat.

Soil & Mulch

Now that we’ve tackled water, let’s talk about soil and mulch. Some soil holds water better than others. If you have a sandy garden, you’ll probably need to water more often.

Take steps like applying compost to improve your soil, so keep your compost pile going strong to give your plants what they need.

No matter the state of your soil, a good layer of mulch will help hold in water. It’ll also help prevent weeds from growing. That’ll mean fewer plants will be competing for water.

You can use a variety of materials to mulch your garden. By using what you have on hand, you can keep your costs really low. Gardeners have used a thick layer of newspaper, straw, wood shavings, dried grass clippings, or cardboard to mulch plants.

If you use a light colored mulch, you’ll also help keep the sun’s rays from heating the soil too much. A lower temperature in the soil means your plants are more likely to survive.

mulch

Pruning & Fertilizing

A heatwave is not the time for pruning or fertilizing your plants. Both of these activities cause a burst of growth. Your plant will put all of its energy into growing, and won’t be as able to withstand the heat.

You also risk your plant absorbing the fertilizer too quickly, and burning as a result. So save your fertilizing (even with natural fertilizer) for a cooler day.

If you have wilted leaves, don’t prune them off until the heatwave passes. The leaves offer a bit of shade to the stem of the plant, and can help protect it.

Shade

Shade offers much relief to a hot plant. Shade keeps the direct sunlight off of your plants. It’ll also help them lower their temperature, and increase their defenses

For plants that are in containers, planters, or pots, move them into the shade is possible. For plants that are unmovable, you’ll need to look for other ways to get them shaded.

How to Create Shadow for Your Plants

If your garden lacks natural shade from taller plants or trees, you can easily set up some temporary patches using one of these methods:

Cardboard and Stakes

Use stiff cardboard and stakes to set up shade wherever you need it. You can cut the cardboard to the size you need. Then use a heavy duty stapler to attach it to your wooden stakes.

Pound the stake in the ground around your most delicate plants, and they’ll get instant shade. This set-up is inexpensive, easily installed, and highly portable.

Lawn Chairs

If you’re caught with an unexpected heatwave, you can use your patio furniture to protect your plants. Just carefully set up a lawn chair to provide protection. Because of the legs, you may not be able to use this in all garden setups.

If you don’t have any lawn chairs, look around your property for items that are easily moveable and don’t weigh too much. You don’t want to compact your soil as you make shade. Here are some ideas that I’ve used in my garden:

  • A laundry basket
  • A cardboard box
  • A plant pot

Shade Cloths

You can buy shade cloths online or in your local garden center. You can attach this to posts in your garden, or to stakes.

If you’re using dark colored shade cloth, keep an eye on your soil temperatures. If the cloth is too close to the ground, you can inadvertently bake your plants.

Paper Bags

You can gently pull a paper bag over your plants. You’ll want to staple or tape the end closed to keep it from flying off.

You don’t want to obstruct air flow for too long however, so be sure to remove these bags as soon as the heat of the day has passed.

Wood Lattice with Bricks

If you have a piece of wood lattice and bricks, you can make shade. You’ll want to make four stacks of bricks, one for each corner of the lattice. Place these where you need it, and then set the lattice on top. This method is especially useful for newly sown seeds and low crops.

What Plants Need Shade the Most?

If you aren’t able to shade your entire garden, you’ll want to prioritize your plants. Some plants will bolt if they overheat, while others may wither a bit, but will bounce back.

Here are some of the plants you’ll want to be extra careful with in a heatwave:

  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Cilantro
  • Cauliflower and Broccoli
  • Any cool weather crops

If your area is typically hot, you should hold off planting these heat-sensitive plants until closer to fall’s cooler weather. During the hot sun, plant your heat-loving plants like tomatoes, corn, and melons. That way you take advantage of natural growing patterns that each plant needs.

light

Wilted Plants

Sometimes even with your tender loving care, plants wilt. It’s a reaction when the plant leaves are shedding water faster than the roots can get it up the stem. It’s a natural phenomenon similar to the way humans sweat. It helps the plants protect themselves.

Smaller, or freshly transplanted plants are more likely to wilt in the sun. That’s because their root system isn’t as established yet.

Usually, your plants will bounce back on their own once the temperatures drop. You’ll notice that they look normal in the evenings, and then wilt when the sun returns to high in the sky.

If your plants are still wilted in the evening, double check that their soil is moist. If not, give the thirsty plant a nice long drink to saturate the roots.

If watering doesn’t help, you’ll also want to ensure that you aren’t dealing with root rot. This can cause wilting leaves as well.

Is it hot where you are?

What are your best tips for keeping your garden growing strong even in the summer heat? I know our readers would love to hear what works for you, so please share in the comment section.

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Healthy Low Carb Foods To Stockpile For Survival

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Survivopedia low carbsThere are 3 types of nutrients that your body can convert to energy: carbs, fats, and protein.

Carbs are the primary source for most of us but the problem is that they burn up quickly, leaving us hungry and run-down an hour or so after we eat them. Good fats and proteins, on the other hand, burn slowly so they provide level, sustained energy.

Obviously, there are situations that call for each type, but the big thing with carbs is that you need to choose the RIGHT ones, which is a topic for another day. Today, we’re going to talk about good sources of low-carb foods (aka, high protein/fat foods).

Just as with carbs, there are good and not-so-good sources of proteins and fats. The debate about this is hot, especially when it comes to saturated fats such animal fats.

Your body is hardwired to use carbs as the first source of energy because they’re quick and easy to break down. When it doesn’t have carbs (or during prolonged exercise), it turns to fat, and then protein. You don’t want to push yourself to the point that your body is using protein as a fuel source exclusively, because it’s literally eating your muscle away.

Instead, use protein to build and repair muscles, and use fat as your energy source. Your body needs glucose (sugar) for proper brain function, but it doesn’t need it in large quantities or from junk sources. Fruits and veggies provide the carbs your body needs.

We’ve  all heard how eating too much red meat or eggs raises cholesterol and increases your risk of heart disease, but now there are studies that suggest that meat wasn’t necessarily the culprit – it was other foods that were eaten in conjunction with the meat.

No matter what you think about meat, you probably agree that there are far worse foods in the junk-carb category than steak and eggs. Anyway, now studies are showing that many of these proteins are good for you.

Since it takes your body longer to break down protein and fat, you won’t get that pop of energy that you get from carbs, but your energy levels will remain steady for much longer and you won’t suffer from the crash that you get from carbs. There are many great sources of low-carb foods to stockpile for survival.

low carb

(Fairly) Lean Meat and Poultry

Meats such as lean beef, venison, lamb, bison, rabbit, goat, and lean pork cuts provide are amazing sources of protein and vitamin B12, and generally have zero carbs. Sufficient amounts of this vitamin are found almost exclusively in fish and animal-sourced foods.

Vitamin B12 is critical to human health. It plays a role in the health of every single cell, including brain cells, in your body. Deficiencies are linked to Alzheimer’s disease, anemia, impaired brain function, mental disorders an even a decreased brain size.

Vitamin D3 is another vitamin that’s exclusive to animals. D2 is found in plants but isn’t as bioavailable as D3 is. Your brain needs this for proper function and it also plays a role in nutrient absorption. Typically you get all the D you need from the sun, but if you’re forced to hunker down, it may become an issue.

Add that to the energy that you get from the meat and it’s a no-brainer that these are necessary for your food stockpile. You can pressure can your meat, dehydrate it, or buy it in bulk freeze-dried containers. You can also farm your own or hunt for it so that you have fresh meat.

Fish

Fish is great for you. Even when red meat was the scourge of society, fish was still on the happy face list. It’s also basically carb-free and easy to source as long as you live near a water source and the water isn’t tainted.

All fish are good sources of protein but fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines provide Omega 3 fatty acids that are essential for numerous bodily functions, including brain function.

Be careful eating fish that are higher on the food chain, though, because they also likely have high amounts of mercury, which can poison you in high amounts. Shoot for wild-caught fish instead of farmed fish to help with this. Wild-caught fish also have a better Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio, which is also another article altogether.

You can pressure can fish (or buy it canned for fairly cheap), smoke it, catch it fresh, or buy it freeze-dried. It doesn’t last well when dehydrated because of the fat content. It’s probably easier to just buy the cans of tuna and salmon.

Eggs and Milk

Eggs are another excellent, low-carb (zero) source of protein, Vitamins D and B12, phosphorus and riboflavin. and they’re extremely versatile. Eggs are also a source of Omega 3s and the amino acid lutein, which your body needs to build muscle.

The best thing about them when it comes to prepping is that it’s available in three extremely user-friendly forms. You can either reach under your own hen and get a fresh one, or you can buy it powdered or freeze-dried.

Dairy Products

Yeah, I know the counter-argument to this already – humans are the only mammals that drink milk post-weaning. Blah. I’m a farm girl – give me fresh cream in my coffee and a huge scoop of cottage cheese on my tomatoes any day, and for heaven’s sake don’t mention this argument to my dad unless you want to set him off on a 3-hour tangent.

High-fat dairy, just like anything else, is only bad for you if it’s ALL you eat. It’s low-carb and has some excellent nutritional benefits, including being a great source calcium, potassium, vitamin D, and protein.

It also has amino acids in it that your body needs to synthesize muscle, and cultured dairy such as yogurt (unsweetened!) has probiotics that help keep your gut healthy. Omega 3s are also in there, though not in nearly the quantity that you’ll find in fish or nuts.

You can actually make and can your own butter as well as milk. You can make yogurt at home.

If you’ve looked into making cheese, you’ve probably noticed that many of them require rennet, which isn’t exactly something that most people keep on hand. There are, however, several cheeses that don’t require it, including mozzarella, cottage cheese, cheddar, and cream cheese. In fact, you can make these cheeses right at home in very little time.

The best part is that if you keep cows or goats, you can have a steady supply of milk. If not, you can buy it powdered or freeze-dried, or use the other methods in the article that I linked you to.

Vegetables

I’m not even going to touch on the health benefits of vegetables; otherwise we’d be here all night. Instead, I’m going to tell you which ones are the lowest in carbs and highest in nutrients.

Before I do that, though, I need to explain how the carbs in veggies and fruits affect your body differently than those from wheat or sugar. Vegetables and fruits are typically extremely high in fiber, which means that your body has to work hard to digest it. Because of this, the sugar is released slowly instead of all once.

A good rule of thumb is that if a veggie is green, it’s low-carb. Other veggies, such as yellow peppers, cabbage, and cauliflower are also good. Even if a veggie is higher in carbs, such as carrots and tomatoes, see above.

Root veggies and tubers such as potatoes and rutabaga are high in carbs, so if you’re shooting specifically for a low-carb diet, skip them.

I’ve written an article about the best way to stockpile veggies here.

Fruits

Fruits are iffy when it comes to inclusion on a low-carb list. The general rule here is that the higher in fiber and the less sweet a fruit is, the lower it is in carbohydrates. Fruits are like veggies, though. The more fiber they have, the slower the body extract the sugar, so you don’t get the carb pop and crash.

Good fruits include apples, pears, berries, and citrus fruits.

Again, preserving fruits is fairly simple. You can water-bath can them, pressure can them, freeze dry them, or dehydrate them, but if you’re shooting for low-carb, don’t add sugar to them. They are another healthy foods to stockpile for winter.

Preparing fruits and vegetables, and even meat for that matter, all involve a similar process that just about anybody can learn to do.

Nuts and Seeds

These are great because they’re easy to pack and take with you if you need to bug out or even if you’re just going on a short hunting or camping trip. Many nuts, including walnuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds are rich in omega 3s too, so win-win!

Fats and Oils

Having a good supply of fairly healthy fats is necessary for a variety of reasons. They’re rich in omega 3s and they’re a necessary ingredients (well OK, you CAN substitute apple sauce in some baking recipes, but not for the good stuff like biscuits.

You can also can fats and seeds are simple to store. These definitely need to go on your list.

1_620x110_1Now that you have a general idea of some low-carb foods for survival, please feel free to mention any that I may have forgotten in the comments section below!

This article has ben written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Basic Survival Food From Your Garden: Corn

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Survivopedia corn

Corn has a bad reputation today. Besides being genetically modified, corn today has been transformed into high-fructose corn syrup. It’s creeping into all kinds of foods and beverages where it never belonged.

The modern agriculture movement has taken this important crop and turned it into something to be avoided. The soil becomes so depleted it needs tons of fertilizer to continue producing. It’s been eroded, and completely disturbed. But a quick look at history will show that our ancestors depended on this staple crop.

It’s a calorie-dense food that’s fed countless people and animals throughout time. It grows six out of the seven continents, making it an ideal survival food in almost every climate.

Corn is a great addition to a survival garden. It’s fairly easy to grow, and is easier to harvest than other grains. There’s no need to thresh the corn crop after all.

Types of Corn

You just need to pick the right variety of corn. There are six main categories, but I’m going to focus on only three, sweet corn, field or dent corn, and popcorn. The other main types are flint corn, ornamental corn, and flour corn. Since these types have different uses, you’ll want to be sure and grow the kind or kinds that you need.

Sweet Corn

Harvested when the kernels are in the milky stage, sweet corn is what you find in the grocery store on the cob. It’s sweet, tender, and flavorful. Many gardeners plant varieties of sweet corn in their home garden.

Field (Dent) Corn

Field corn isn’t as sweet as sweet corn, but it has a multitude of uses. It’s used as animal feed, ground and turned into cornmeal, or prepared as grits. It’s perfect crop to grow for survival.

Before harvesting, field corn is allowed to dry a bit while still on the stalk. As the moisture leaves each kernel, a little dent appears.

Popcorn

If you have space to grow an extra variety of corn, consider popcorn. The kernels pop up fluffy and provide a nice snack.

After you’ve harvested your popcorn ears, you’ll have to dry out the kernels even more. Some growers prefer an oven, others let the sun do the job.corn info

How to Grow Corn

No matter which variety of corn you decide to plant, make sure you find seeds that are open pollinated, heirloom varieties. These seeds haven’t been genetically modified, and they have a historical track record of helping nations survive.

If you plant more than one variety of corn, be sure to leave some space between them. At least 500 feet is recommended. Otherwise the different types of corn will cross pollinate and that can affect how each one tastes and grows.

Corn has a reputation of being a fairly needy crop. If you plant heirloom seeds, you won’t need to water it nearly as much as today’s popular varieties. After all, it survived all those years before irrigation was readily available. Mulch will help keep water in your soil.

However, this crop does require a lot of nitrogen. It’s known as a heavy feeder plant. In days past, each seed was planted on top of a dead fish. As the fish decomposed, it supplied the growing corn with the extra nitrogen it needed.

If fish aren’t in abundance where you live, you can also use compost and blood meal. You’ll want to give the soil an initial boost before planting. Once the corn reaches knee high, you’ll want to give it some more.

Corn thrives in soil that drains well. You should pick a location with full sun. You’ll want to know the length of your growing season, and plant a variety that does well.

Where I live, the growing season is on the short end. We often have killing frosts until Memorial Day or even a little past then. The locals recommend starting seed indoors and transplanting it to the soil in June. The saying here is that you want your corn, “knee high by the 4th of July,” but check with others in your area to learn what works best where you are.

3 sistersRotate Your Crops

Because corn pulls many nutrients out of the soil, it’s important to rotate your crops each year.

Many people plant a cover crop after corn, to help improve the soil.

Harvesting Your Corn

Sweet corn is ready to harvest when the tassel begins turning dark brown. You’ll want to open up an ear and check to make sure the kernels are milky. You also want to make sure the kernels are well developed and plump.

If the liquid from the kernels is watery, it’s too early to harvest. Let them continue to develop and test again later.

Field corn and popcorn need to be left on the stalks longer. They’ll begin the drying process before you harvest them.

To pick corn, twist the ear gently towards the ground. It’ll break off. Sweet corn is best picked on the day you’re planning on eating or preserving it. That’ll keep the flavor the best.

Preserving Your Corn

Once you’ve picked your corn, it’s time to eat it or preserve your harvest. You’ll need to shuck your corn, removing the silk and husks. But hang onto at least some of these—we’ll cover their benefits in a later section.

You can stockpile sweet corn in a couple of ways. You can dry it, freeze it, or can it. There are pros and cons to each method, but drying and canning are probably better for survival purposes. You might not always have electricity to run your freezer.

Field corn and popcorn are dried and stored either on the cob or as kernels. When you’re ready to cook field corn into cornbread, you’ll need to grind it into flour first. Be sure your grain mill can handle corn.

If you’ll be feeding corn to your critters, you can store it on the cob in a corn crib. The slats on this structure ensure that air can circulate around the cobs. This will keep them from molding.

Using Corn

Now that you have yourself some corn, what can you do with it? Corn can be used in recipes, to improve your health, and around the homestead. It’s a versatile crop.

As Food

Since corn stores so well, it’s an ideal addition to your food stockpiles. Once you’ve dried some kernels, you can easily roast it and turn it into parched corn. These original corn nuts will be handy to take on the road.

Cornmeal mush is another way to use your corn. Mix 2 cups of corn meal with 2 cups of cold water. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil, and carefully add the cornmeal mixture. After it returns to a boil, reduce the heat and let it simmer while you stir occasionally. It’ll take about ten minutes to thicken up.

Whole kernel corn is a popular ingredient in salsa. You can combine your corn with other produce from your garden to create a delicious dip.

You can pop your popcorn in a pan with a little oil. Put a tablespoon of oil in a cold pan, and add enough popcorn to evenly cover the bottom of the pan. You don’t want to add too many kernels or it’ll burn. Cover your pan, turn on your burner, and slowly heat the pan.

You’ll want to shake fairly frequently. This will prevent any from sticking and burning. When the popping slows, remove the pan from the heat. Let it sit for a minute or two in case any additional kernels pop. Serve with butter, salt, and any of your favorite seasonings.

Corn used in plenty of other recipes as well or you can turn it into flour or use it to feed your chickens. You can even use corn husks to wrap tamales in. Take time now to try some recipes and see what you and your family enjoy eating. That way survival foods won’t come as a shock to their system.

As Medicine

Corn silk tea has historically been used as a diuretic. It’s used to treat bladder and kidney ailments. You’ll want to finely chop your clean corn silk. Then, steep a tablespoon of this in a cup of hot water for ten or fifteen minutes. Strain out the silk before drinking.

In addition to its diuretic benefits, corn silk tea helps the body release extra fluid. It’s a gentle detoxifying agent.

Corn silk can also be used topically. It has some antiseptic effects, which helps promote wound healing.

cornstarch

Around the Homestead

Corn has been used as animal feed throughout history. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to feed chickens or raise hogs, corn can help. Typically, you’d crack the corn through a grain mill once before feeding. The act of cracking the corn helps the animals to break it down better.

Saving Seed for Future Harvests

It’s important to save some of your crop each year to plant the following year. Not having to purchase seeds every year will help you become more self-sufficient. Saving corn seed is fairly simple.

You want to harvest your ears after the husks become dry. Then, you need to ensure the kernels are thoroughly dry. You can hang the ear upside down to help dry it out evenly.

Once dried, shell your corn. These seeds should be stored in a cool, dry location. They will remain viable for several years if properly stored.

Final Thoughts on Corn

Corn that hasn’t been genetically modified is a survival crop utilized throughout history. It’s beneficial as a food, for its medicinal purposes, and for feeding your animals.

Are you currently growing this essential crop? What varieties grow best in your neck of the woods? Please share your corn tips and tricks in the comment section, and click on the banner below to find out more survival secrets from our ancestors!

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This article has been written by Lisa Tanner for Survivopedia.

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Dirt-Cheap, Nutritious Chicken Feed You Can Grow In Your Garden

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Dirt-Cheap, Nutritious Chicken Feed You Can Grow In Your Garden

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Keeping your backyard flock happy is pretty simple and is the best way to ensure a plentiful supply of nutrient-rich eggs and plump meat chickens.

Some homesteaders are choosing to grow their own poultry feed in order to cut down on the unnecessary chemicals and fillers added to the commercial feed consumed by their flocks. They also may grow their own livestock feed as a way to become more self-sufficient and as a way to minimize the financial burden of maintaining their chickens. Whether this feed is used to supplement the foraging diet of a free-range flock or as the exclusive diet for a fenced flock, homegrown poultry feed is worth investigating.

Chickens need protein, calcium and carbohydrates in their diet. In most commercial poultry feeds, grains account for the largest percentage of carbohydrates in the feed. Grains, however, take up a lot of land, making them unsuitable for today’s smaller acreage homesteads. Corn is, of course, the most popular of grains for chicken feed, but barley, rye, and hulless oats all work well.

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On the homestead you will have several options to choose from if limiting or avoiding grains. Give your chickens the carbohydrates they need through root vegetables such as carrots, turnips, beets, parsnips and sweet potatoes. After harvesting the root vegetables for the flock, add the greens to the mix as well for added nutrition. These root vegetables are easy additions to the garden. Whether grown in a separate area or as a part of your family’s garden, beets and other colorful vegetables provide an array of macro and micronutrients that also will promote good health in your flock.

Take, for example, the Mangel beet. Mangel beets are fairly hardy, reaching 10-12 pounds apiece and providing plenty of nutrition. Homesteaders in ages past used Mangel beets to feed the livestock through long winters, and these beets are slowly becoming a popular feed option for today’s homesteaders.

Dirt-Cheap, Nutritious Chicken Feed You Can Grow In Your Garden

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Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli and cauliflower, work well for chickens. Hung in the coop or in another accessible area, chickens will pick and peck at them and not at each other. These vegetables can be planted earlier in the season than most and provide quality nutrition, including some calcium.

Keep your flock cool while in the summer heat by indulging them with a cool treat. Cucumbers provide adequate nutrition, but most importantly help to hydrate individuals due to their high water content. Cucumbers, sliced in half lengthwise, are the perfect treat to keep them cool and hydrated on a hot day.

A few leafy plants provide a small amount of protein as well as other essential nutrients. In addition to beans, which are higher in protein, but must be cooked before feeding to your flock, kale provides a small amount of protein with large amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals. Kale is easily grown in the cooler spring and fall months and can even withstand frosts.

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A lesser known plant, called duckweed, is also higher in protein than most greens and makes a nice addition to homegrown poultry feed. Duckweed has a higher protein content than the soybeans used liberally in commercially produced feeds. It also provides some additional nutrients. It can be cultivated in small ponds or even in shallow tanks or pools, and although poultry can eat it fresh, most will consume it better when dried. Duckweed needs a nutrient base to thrive, so adding small feeder fish will provide a sufficient base for growth. Some have recommended using graywater from the house or even using some manure from the homestead to feed the duckweed.

Though by no means an exhaustive list, the above mentioned vegetables and greens are worthy of incorporating into any plans for growing poultry feed on your homestead. Add grains if space allows, but don’t allow a lack of space keep you from trying to feed your flock.

What advice would you add on growing chicken feed? Share your tips in the section below:

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5 Ways To Grow More Vegetables In The Space You Have (No. 2 Is Crazy — But Works!)

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5 Ways To Grow More Vegetables In The Space You Have (No. 2 Is Crazy -- But Works!)

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You don’t have to invest in a large hobby farm to enjoy the benefits of gardening. Whether you’re limited by a small lot size, an abundance of shade, or apartment dwelling, you may be surprised at how many vegetables can actually be coaxed out of even relatively small amounts of space given the right planning. In this post, we’ll take a look at five specific techniques to maximize your harvest, regardless of how much room you have to work with.

1. Nurture the soil

You may have heard the expression “no deposit, no return,” and it’s a principle that’s eminently important when it comes to gardening. Anything coming out of the garden can only be as good as the ground it’s grown in, and if you’re going to expect more from the dirt, it’s imperative to put more in to begin with. Many of the other strategies listed below rely on high-density strategies which can push soil to the limit. If there aren’t adequate nutrients in the ground, these approaches can be a disaster. And even if you aren’t planning to implement high-yield techniques, simply improving your soil will still result in a noticeably improved harvest.

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While there are many soil improvements available for purchase, creating your own compost remains one of the best, most cost-efficient, ways to keep your garden happy. Compost naturally returns nutrients to the soil while simultaneously improving its water-retention abilities, making it the secret weapon when it comes to improving yields.

2. Get rid of rows

Unless you own several acres and a tractor, there’s no reason to stick with conventional rows. When space is at a premium, opting for less linear arrangements ensures that every inch of the garden is put to good use by eliminating walkway areas and other wasted space. Two of the most common routes to row-less growing include square foot gardening, which involves raised beds divided into individual square foot sections, and bio-intensive gardening, which relies on a tight hexagonal planting pattern.

Banishing the idea that true gardening only takes place when there’s room for long straight rows can also be liberating for apartment dwellers. Even a modest patio can provide room for a handful of carefully planned planters, bringing the goodness of home-grown vegetables literally to your doorstep.

3. Go vertical

Another way to increase how much you get from a home garden is to stop living in two dimensions and start looking up. Trade in traditional tomato cages for tall-growing stakes, and train indeterminate varieties to climb as tall as you can pick — you’ll be amazed at how many tomatoes a single vine can grow given the opportunity to move up rather than out. You can also set up a sturdy trellis on one edge of your garden and encourage small melons, gourds, squash, and pumpkins to reach for the sky rather than rambling all over.

Adding hanging planters that allow tomatoes and other vegetables to grow down is another way to capitalize on unused vertical space that not only increases your opportunities to grow, but adds a touch of beauty to enjoy from a deck or porch.

4. Interplant

Once you’ve embraced a non-linear growing strategy, it’s time to take things to the next level by exploring interplanting — the practice of placing different kinds of plants in practically the same growing space.

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

5 Ways To Grow More Vegetables In The Space You Have (No. 2 Is Crazy -- But Works!)

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Successful interplanting requires some experimentation and extremely healthy soil, but when it’s done right the result is a delightfully dense harvest from even a small space. Looking for some go-to combinations? Consider planting lettuce, basil, parsley or carrots under tomatoes — the shade won’t be prohibitive and tomato roots are generally hardy enough to handle the invasion. You also may want to plant spring crops, such as lettuce and peas, near large sprawling summer plants such as zucchini and pumpkins to get the most out of that space before the bigger plants take over. And, of course, there’s always the old standby “Three Sisters” — corn, beans and squash interplanted for mutual benefit.

5. Embrace rapid succession planting

Finally, if you’re serious about maximizing your yield, it’s time to stop thinking about sowing as a “one-and-done” activity. In most places, gardening easily be divided into three separate (though not necessarily distinct) growing seasons — spring, summer and fall. Careful planning means you can take advantage of all three seasons, resulting in multiple harvests.

For example, as cool weather crops begin to slow down, replace them immediately with summer seedlings. When your neighbors are kicking back, ready to settle for simply gathering the end of the tomatoes and late-season squashes until winter arrives, stay in the game by putting down another round of cool-weather crops. As long as you continue to amend the soil throughout the season, there’s no reason to waste even an inch of garden at any point during the growing months.

Whether you’re on a tiny plot in suburbia, a heavily wooded country acre with too much shade, or trying to crowd everything you can onto an urban balcony, it’s still possible to enjoy the benefits of home-grown food. Take advantage of these five tips to start getting more out of your garden, regardless of its size.

What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times

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15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times

We tend to think that stockpiling food and supplies for an emergency is a modern invention. But it’s not. It actually started thousands of years ago, with people stockpiling food for a snowy day. Those ancestors of ours knew something that most of us today have forgotten: the fact that winter comes every year and you can’t grow crops or hunt game very effectively when the freeze hits.

In fact, the earliest recorded instance of stockpiling is in Chapter 41 of Genesis, in the Bible. Joseph, a son of Abraham, correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream and instituted a system of stockpiling grain in preparation for the seven years of famine.

To the pioneers, stockpiling had to be a way of life. When Old Man Winter came to call, the only thing that would keep them alive was the food and fuel they had stored. If they were not ready, chances were that they wouldn’t make it through the winter.

Those who stockpile are returning back to the roots that our pioneering ancestors established, taking matters into their own hands.

So what sorts of things did the pioneers stockpile — and why did they stockpile them?

We can really break down the pioneer’s stockpiling into two categories — things that they bought and things that they raised, hunted, preserved or prepared themselves. The things from the store were precious to many of these people, as they didn’t have much cash money to spend. It was only when they sold a cash crop that they were actually able to pay off their account at the local general store and buy themselves a few new items.

Things the Pioneers Bought and Stockpiled

A trip to the general store was a big deal in those days and something that a pioneer might only do once a month, or less. It might be an all-day affair, which took time away from working the farm. Nevertheless, they had to make it to town once in a while for supplies, or they were stuck with living solely off the land.

1. Wheat flour and other grains

While many farmers raised grain, they usually didn’t eat their own. Their grain would be sold and then they’d turn around and buy flour and other ground grains from the general store. A few people would have their own hand-operated mills for grinding grains, but those were for grinding cornmeal, rather than flour.

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Going back in history, we find that grinding grain was a major part of a woman’s housework. In Medieval times, a woman might spend as many as six hours per day grinding grain so that she could make the bread of the day. Being able to buy ground wheat was one of the first true kitchen conveniences.

Bread was an important staple in the diet. It was a great source of carbohydrates, giving them the energy they needed to burn during the day. Of course, the breads they ate back then were very different than today’s, being much harder and heartier than our modern bread.

2. Baking soda

15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times

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You couldn’t bake bread without baking soda, unless you happened to have yeast. Of course, many people made sourdough bread, always saving a bit of the dough to act as a starter for the next batch. But sourdough starter doesn’t work for biscuits, pies or bear sign (what they called donuts). So a stock of baking soda gave them much more variety in their diet.

3. Salt

Salt has always been highly valued. In fact, in the Roman Empire part of a soldier’s pay was given in salt. That became the root of the word “salary.” We need salt in our diets to survive, as well as to preserve meats. While some pioneers would harvest it themselves from salt licks, that only worked for those who had a natural salt lick on their property.

4. Sugar

While not an absolute necessity, sugar was an important item to stockpile. Not only is it used as part of the process of canning fruit, but even the toughest of cowboys and miners wanted a sweet treat every now and then.

5. Rice

Like grains, rice was an important staple for many people. But it wasn’t grown in many parts of the country, making it an item pioneers picked up at the general store.

6. Bacon

Bacon managed to become the default travel meat of choice in pioneering days. Cowboys would carry a chunk of bacon in their saddlebags, wagon trains carried it, and most families had a few slabs on hand. If you had bacon, you had meat to eat.

7. Coffee and tea

Who doesn’t like a good cup of coffee? Actually, coffee drinking in this country started with the Revolutionary War, in response to the Stamp Tax. Rather than pay the tax for British imported teas, many people switched over to coffee. Whereas before the revolution most people drank tea, after it the nation switched to coffee. By the time of the revolution, tea was mostly drunk only by the wealthy.

8. Dried beans

Just as it is for the average homesteader today, dried beans were a favorite staple for the pioneers. Chili con carne became a popular dish, starting in Texas and then moving north along the cow trails. Eventually, it was eaten all across the west.

Beans also could be eaten alone, or with tortillas. The Southwest culture had a strong Mexican influence, including the eating of refried beans as a staple. Many a meal was beans and biscuits or beans and bread. Even when they had meat, beans were often served on the side.

9. Dried and canned fruit

15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard Times Some people grew fruit. When they did, they’d can it or dry it. But not all kinds of fruit can be grown in all parts of the country. Besides that, not everyone was a farmer. The general store would stock dried and canned fruit, making it possible for people to buy these foods.

Since it kept well, dried fruit was another popular trail food, both for wagon trains and for drifting cowboys. It helped give variety to an otherwise dull diet, as well as providing them something sweet to eat.

Things the Pioneers Grew, Hunted, Preserved and Prepared

Many pioneers were involved in farming and ranching. Those who were grew as much of what they ate as they could. Since cash money was so rare, being able to hunt, gather or grow your own food was a real advantage. Even townspeople would have a garden patch behind their homes, growing their own vegetables and herbs.

10. Smoked meats

One of the signs that you’d “made it” was to have a smokehouse on your property. While the ability to smoke your own meats was incredibly useful, not everyone could afford the time or expense to build one. Those who could were usually well-established families who already had their homes and barns built. By then, they were producing enough that it was worthwhile to be able to smoke meats when it was time to slaughter a cow or pig.

11. Jerky

The pioneers learned how to make jerky from the Native Americans. While smoking was great, not everyone had a smokehouse. Plus, jerky lasts longer than smoked meats and is much more portable. Drifting cowboys and other travelers would often take jerky along just to ensure they had some meat to eat. A few strips of jerky and a couple of campfire biscuits made a pretty good lunch in the saddle.

12. Corn

Many pioneers grew their own corn, even if it was just enough for their family. They might grow wheat or some other grain for sale, but they’d put in a small patch of corn, as well. That corn was usually dried and kept for making cornmeal.

13. Vegetables

15 Vital Items The Pioneers Stockpiled For Hard TimesA vegetable garden alongside or behind the house was almost a requirement for pioneer families. Without it, their food would be bland and repetitive. Not only did they grow their own veggies, but their own herbs, as well.

Most vegetables were harvested and kept in a root cellar, not canned. Canning required owning a goodly supply of canning jars, something that most people didn’t have. It wasn’t until later, when towns were well-established and trade was more regular, that canning jars became common in the west.

14. Feed for the animals

Anyone who had animals had to consider their needs. Whether horses, cows or chickens, they were a valuable part of the homestead and needed to eat. Just like the family would stockpile food to get themselves through the winter, they’d stack hay and other feed for their farm animals.

Most hay was cut from wild grass growing near the farm. It would be cut by hand with a scythe and stacked in towering haystacks for the winter months. Some farmers who had larger barns with lofts would stack the hay in the loft. But that required hay bales, which meant having the equipment for baling hay. So that only happened in well-established areas on well-established farms.

15. Firewood

The only heat that most homes had was from the fireplace or wood-burning stove. That created the need for a wood pile, which was started in the spring so the wood could dry through the hot summer. In some places, they would stack their wood to act as a defensive breastwork for the home, giving themselves a good firing position for any attacks from Native Americans.

What items would you add to our list of what the pioneers stockpiled? Share what you know in the section below:

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Basic Survival Food From Your Garden: Beans

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Survivopedia beans

As homesteaders, and preppers, we’re always looking for things that are versatile, easy to store and carry, and cheap.

Well, there’s one food that meets all of these criteria and then some: beans. They have a ton of health and survival benefits and are easy to grow and dry.

To Bean or Not to Bean? 

Why you should grow or stockpile beans for survival? There are at least four reasons to include beans in your stash.

High Protein

You can grow a beautiful garden and have a ton of veggies and fruits stored, but you likely won’t have much high-quality meat if the end of the world as we know it (TEOTWAWKI) happens.

You can always hunt for it if it’s safe or even possible, but it’s good to have a substitute on hand. Beans have more than enough protein to get you through; 14-16 grams per cup.

One concern though; unlike meat, beans aren’t a complete protein; they lack a few essential amino acids. Pair them with brown rice, oatmeal, nuts or other plant-based proteins and you’ll round it out. In fact, beans and rice is a great carb/protein/fiber combination packed with vitamins and minerals that will feed a ton of people for practically nothing.

Packed with Fiber

Foods high in soluble fiber are beneficial for several reasons that are beneficial for us, especially in a survival situation. Fiber keeps your digestive tract clean, which helps prevent all sorts of illnesses from constipation to colon cancer.

Soluble fiber attaches to cholesterol particles and carry them out of your body, so it naturally lowers cholesterol (goodbye statins that won’t be available if SHTF) and helps prevent heart disease.

Fiber helps you stay fuller longer because it takes longer to digest. Because of this, beans have a low glycemic index, which means that they’re good for diabetics. This could be critical in a survival situation when insulin may not be available. Bonus: if you’re trying to lose weight, feeling full longer helps keep you from overeating.

That’s always a good thing!

Packed with Nutrients and Antioxidants

Beans have a ton of minerals including folate, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, potassium and zinc. All of these are considered minerals that most people don’t eat enough of, so beans can help round out your diet now and keep you healthy when SHTF.

Beans contain antioxidants, specifically phytosterols and isoflavones, that protect your body from all sorts of illnesses, including different types of cancer, premature aging, and cardiovascular disease.

Beans are Versatile

You can do a kazillion things with beans. You can make baked beans, ham beans, bean soup, bean dip, refried beans, beans for salad; the list goes on. It would be hard to get tired of beans, especially if you have a variety of them.

OK already – beans are good for you, but how do you turn those beans in your garden into those nice dried beans found in the grocery isle that will keep forever? You’re going to be surprised how easy it is.

What Kind of Beans Should you Grow?

Honestly, I personally don’t grow beans because the yield doesn’t merit the effort right now. For instance, you’ll have to grow at least 25 pinto bean plants to yield 1 lb. of beans, and that’s assuming maximum yield. It may take more than 100 plants to yield that.

To put it in perspective, you’d need about a 10-foot row to yield 1 pound. Of course, if you’re in a survival situation and live on a large lot of land (which I don’t have at the moment), then you may want to plant them. Right now, I’d rather use that space to grow veggies I can preserve and just buy my beans.

But if you do decide to grow beans, here you go: Good dry beans include pintos, great northerns, cranberries, limas, kidneys, garbanzos and navys.

types of beans

Dry beans grow best in warm, dry climates and need good draining soil to keep from molding before they germinate. You may want to start your beans inside because you can’t put them outside until the threat of frost has passed. Also, you want them to mature in the fall because they won’t drop pods if the temperature is above 80 degrees. F.

Grow them in full sun and keep the soil around them loose, well-drained, and well fertilized with your compost. Depending on the bean, they’ll take from 70-120 to reach harvest. In warm, dry climates, the beans will likely dry themselves right on the plant; when the leaves have turned brown and the pods are crunchy, try the beans. They’re ready if you can’t bite them.

You want to get them in before the frost or fall rains even if they’re not dry yet; hang them in the barn or cellar or somewhere else where it’s dry until they’re ready to store. You could also spread them out on a flat screen in the sunshine or another warm place. Pods will split open when they’re completely dry.

You’ll have to remove them from the shells (thus the name “shell beans”) then remove the thresh from them, then store them in an airtight container.

Beans grow great next to bush beans, cucumbers, corn, potatoes, rosemary, strawberries and celery. Don’t plant them with onions, kohlrabi, or beets. Also, don’t

The good thing about storing (or growing) beans now is that if you need them, they’re versatile. You can sprout them to make great, protein- and nutrient-rich salad ingredients. You can also use them to feed your livestock – check out my article on 14 Cheap Ways to Feed Your Chickens.

The plant scraps make good scratch for your chickens, too.

Some Beans Make Good Flours

If it comes down to it, beans can make a great, protein-rich flour. Garbanzo flour is popular today with organic bakers, especially for people who are gluten-intolerant.

The downside to this is that beans are tough to grind into flour – you’ll need a home mill because, unlike herbs, you can’t grind them in your blender or coffee mill. Again, it will take a ton (not literally) of beans to make even a pound of flour, so you may just want to buy it.

Beans belong in your stockpile, in large quantities if you’re prepping for a long-term survival event. When cooking them, remember that they contain a mild toxin that causes gastrointestinal issues such as gas and bloating. Kidney beans contain a more extreme toxin and eating raw or undercooked kidney beans can make you extremely ill, and can even kill you.

beans

Read our article How to Rehydrate And Prepare Your Preserved Food to avoid the mistake some people are making when cooking dried beans.

If you want to grow them, you’re not alone – many people enjoy growing beans. Be aware though that if you’re going to do it, plant plenty of them because the yield is low.

Beans really are the ideal survival food. They’re nutritious, versatile, cheap, lightweight, and easy to store. Plus, they keep for a long time.

If you’ve grown dry beans, please tell us about what types of beans you grew, what problems, if any, you had, and what your yield was in the comments section below.

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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Secret Gardening: How To Hide Your Food In Plain Sight

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How To Plant A ‘Camo Garden’ No One Will Ever Find

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You’ve been gardening for years, and have mastered the art of growing food on your homestead. You do it organically, without using commercial pesticides and fertilizers. You save your own seeds, can your own produce, and are practically self-sufficient.

But in the event of a local or nationwide disaster that closes stores and causes people to become desperate, how are you going to protect your garden from potential thieves? Sure you could be generous and help a number of people for a while, but you can’t possibly feed each every individual that shows up at your door every time.

If you want to play it safe and make your garden “invisible” from unwanted elements, turn it into a “secret garden” with planting guilds.

A guild is a design principle in permaculture that groups assorted plants together, usually in a circle, surrounding a central plant. Each plant is carefully chosen to complement the others, ensuring each other’s growth. Like forests, guilds mimic the wilderness by having multiple layers of diverse vegetation: trees, shrubs, vines, herbs, root crops, ground cover, and even animals, insects and beneficial microorganisms. All of these work together to meet the four basic needs of plants: food (mostly in the form of nitrogen), mulch, pollination and protection. A guild is an ecosystem in itself, with different members in symbiotic relationship with one another. On a larger scale, a forest garden, also known as a “food forest,” is a great example of a guild.

Get The Best Deals On Non-GMO Seeds Right Here!

I first heard about guilds after watching a video of renowned natural farmer Sepp Holzer, who grew a food forest in the mountains of Austria. He cultivated a sundry mix of fruits, flowers, legumes, corn, buckwheat, herbs and spices, pumpkins, salad greens, medicinal plants and different kinds of root crops all across his acreage. He didn’t plant them in neat rows, but scattered seeds at random and just let nature do its course. Guild-planting, he says, makes the garden so much more dynamic, abundant and efficient. In fact, the yield in his food forest in the Appalachians is five times more than it would be if he did traditional row gardening.

How To Plant A ‘Camo Garden’ No One Will Ever FindThe benefits of guilds are undeniable: less or practically no irrigation, no mulching, no commercial pesticides and fertilizers and, ultimately, minimal maintenance. You get high yields from a very small space. And, because food forests look like a wild, untended, neglected hodge-podge of overgrown bush, nobody will think it’s a virtual paradise brimming with food! Even animals and pests would have a hard time fighting an array of repellents to get through to your goods.

Here are the different layers to plant in a guild:

1. Trees. In a guild, the trees are strong, deep-rooted plants that reach deep under the ground to absorb minerals and bring them up to the surface. They’re the canopy layer, dominating but not saturating the surrounding plants. They provide shelter for smaller trees and shrubs, beneficial animals and insects. The trees grown in the center of guilds are normally fruit or nut trees. In the northern states, they’re most likely apples, pears, cherries, plums and figs; in the subtropics, citruses like oranges, limes and lemons.

2. Shrubs. Shrubs provide a windbreak to reduce stress on your central tree. They can be low or understory fruit trees like bananas and papayas, stalks like corn, various woody perennials and most berry bushes. Comfrey, borage and dandelion are good because they’re “miners” – they collect nutrients from the soil, store it in their leaves and feed it to surrounding plants when they shed their leaves. You can also chop-and-drop them to use as green manure.

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 3. Vines. Vines make up the vertical layer that climb up the central and understory trees. They need little soil and ground space to thrive, but they require physical support from stronger plants beside them. Vines provide much food in less space, not just for humans but also for surrounding plants since they are nitrogen-fixers – they absorb nitrogen from the air and make them bio-available for surroundings plants. Examples of good leguminous vines are lima and runner beans. Annual climbers that seed themselves easily are gourds like cucumbers and squashes. Other edible vines are honeysuckle, jasmine, bramble, passionflower and of course, grapes.

4. Herbs and flowers. Herbs and flowers protect the fruits and nuts in your guild. Spices like peppers and herbs from the allium family like chives and onions ward off harmful insects. Even mice are said to be repelled by chives. On the other hand, fennel and dill attract wasps that prey on those harmful insects. Flowers, for their part, mostly attract pollinators, but certain ones draw predator insects: those from the daisy family, the Umbelliferae family when flowering (carrots, parsley, celery), yarrow and allysum. Marigolds, nasturtiums, lavender, tansy, elderberry, wormwood and peppermint geraniums are known pest repellents, while daffodils are said to keep deer at bay.

The thing to remember is that pests are attracted through sight and smell. Having an assortment of flowers, whether pungent-smelling or aromatic, will give mixed signals and confuse them. Other plants that can protect your guild from bigger animals and unwanted folks are thorny ones like cacti and osage orange.

How To Plant A ‘Camo Garden’ No One Will Ever FindSpeaking of protection, try attracting beneficial animals, too, like frogs, lizards and birds, or keep ducks or guinea fowl to control slugs. They’re natural predators. Put up birdhouses or consider building a pond to help attract these garden friends. The key is to simulate a balanced natural ecosystem so the different elements can regulate each other’s growth.

5. Ground cover – Ground cover plants protect the soil around the guild from too much sun, and reduce erosion during heavy rains and strong winds. They are your living mulch, building the soil while smothering unwanted weeds. They hold moisture and nutrients in the soil, keeping beneficial microorganisms underneath happy. They are usually in the form of grasses, legumes and brassicas. Ground covers that are wonderful nitrogen-fixers are comfrey, alfalfa, hairy vetch, field peas, soybeans and clovers. Other great edible cover crops are oats, barley, rye, buckwheat, canola, flax, rapeseed, spelt, spinach, mustards, strawberries, globe artichokes, parsnips, radishes, fava beans, fenugreek, chamomile, nasturtiums, elderberry, dandelions, sunflower and chicory.

6. Rhizomes — These are root crops that are diligent diggers:  white and sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, yams, daikon radish, and edible tubers like turnips, Jerusalem artichokes, cassava and yacon. They loosen compacted soil, make it soft, and mine nutrients underground. In the level which they belong to, called the rhizosphere, permaculturists like to include beneficial organisms like worms, insects and fungi.

For a comprehensive list of edibles you can plant in your food forest, click here.

As you can expect, you’ll have to prioritize growing perennials so you won’t have to sow and pull out parts of your garden year after year. Use open-pollinated heirloom seeds, and just let them go to seed to replenish themselves. And remember: The more diversity you have, the greater the variety and nutrients on your plate … and, the more confusion and camouflage you’ll create for both pests and people.

What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below:

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

‘Help! Rabbits Are Eating My Garden’ (Here’s What To Do)

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'Help! Rabbits Are Eating My Garden' (Here's What To Do)

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Have you had the unpleasant experience of visiting your garden in the morning only to find that your tender young shoots have been cut off overnight, as if with a pair of shears?

If so, you may have had a nighttime visit from a rabbit or two. Rabbits are cute to look at, but they can be a real nuisance to gardeners. Known to be voracious eaters, they can wipe out an entire area of new growth overnight.

Because they have both upper and lower incisors, rabbits tend to make a clean cut on a stalk when they eat. Other telltale signs of rabbits in your garden are pea-sized droppings in and around the garden, and chewed tree bark close to ground level. Tufts of fur on branches and areas that reveal digging activity or even bedding down also can be signs of rabbits.

Rabbits are timid animals and do not like to stray far from cover. One way to discourage them from getting into your garden is to eliminate hiding places such as areas with tall grass and piles of stone or brush.

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

Another idea is to plant alfalfa or clover outside your garden area. Rabbits are particularly fond of these two plants and may remain there for their meal– especially if it feels safer — instead of bothering your other plants.

One more plan of action to deter rabbits is to add some plants to your garden that rabbits dislike. Rabbits tend to go for tender shoots and tender woody plants that have a thin bark, so your young plants are at the highest risk of being eaten. However, if you place some less attractive plants among the ones that the long-eared guys like, they may stay away from your garden.

Generally, rabbits dislike plants that have a strong fragrance or have fuzzy leaves. A determined rabbit may simply graze around the plants he does not like, but here are seven garden plants that repel rabbits.

'Help! Rabbits Are Eating My Garden' (Here's What To Do)

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1. Veronica – With its pretty flowering spikes of blue, pink or white, veronica adds some height (one to two feet) and texture to your garden. Veronica prefers full or part sun and well-drained soil. And the bunnies don’t like it.

2. Lavender – You may love the fragrance of lavender, but rabbits do not. This tough beauty can withstand both heat and drought. You can plant it as single plants or form a hedge with many plants to deter pesky bunnies. Lavender prefers full sun and well-drained, slightly alkaline soil.

3. Siberian Iris – This elegant iris variety has gorgeous purple, rose, blue or white blooms and big grassy foliage. It adds beauty to your garden while potentially deterring rabbits. The Siberian iris grows from one to three feet tall and prefers full or part sun and well-drained soil.

4. Salvia – With a wide variety of bold colors to choose from, salvia is a colorful addition to your garden. Try it as a border plant to keep rabbits from entering your vegetable garden. Salvia likes full sun and well-drained soil, and it can grow from one to even five feet tall, depending on the variety you choose.

5. Peony – They take a while to establish themselves from new roots, but when they do, peonies are a joy to behold. With large late springtime flowers and a beautiful variety of colors, peonies are an attractive addition to your garden. What’s even better is that rabbits do not like their tough foliage. Peonies like full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to seven feet, depending on the variety of plant.

6. Verbena – Lovely verbena can grow from a mere six inches to three feet in height, and it produces delicate pink, red, white or blue flowers, depending on the variety you select. Rabbits do not like the way verbena smells and usually will steer clear of the plant. Verbena prefers full sun and well-drained soil.

7. Daylily — Easy to grow and maintain, daylilies come in a rainbow variety of shades. They like full sun and well-drained soil and can grow up to six feet tall. Rabbits do not like their thick stalks.

Keep in mind that if your long-eared nighttime visitors are hungry enough, they will eat almost anything green in your garden. However, your plants are particularly attractive to rabbits when they are young and tender. Once your plants are established, they are less tempting, and, as a result, other plants may more easily discourage rabbits.

Related:

Deer Hate These 7 Plants (So Plant Them Around Your Garden)

How do you keep rabbits out of your garden? Share your ideas in the section below:

Sources:

http://ifplantscouldtalk.rutgers.edu/planttalk/article.asp?ID=13

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/gardening/how-keep-rabbits-dining-trees-and-shrubs-1

http://www.pcmg-texas.org/animals/88-keeping-rabbits-out

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

4 Subtle Mistakes That Could Spoil Your Stockpile (No. 3 Is Easiest To Correct)

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4 Subtle Mistakes That Could Spoil Your Stockpile (No. 3 Is Easiest To Correct)

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It happens in households across the United States every day. A trip to the grocery store is unpacked at home with the goal of simply getting things put away and the chore completed.

Fresh, shiny new cans of fruits and vegetables are placed in the front of the pantry shelves, pushing to the rear their more senior shelf mates. Perishables like pickles, butter and produce likely get the same treatment, smothering into obscurity the current “close to expiration” refrigerator residents.

The result? A lot of nutritious and nourishing food ending up spoiled and relegated to the wastebasket or compost bin.

And although this example of poor inventory control and rotation is unfortunate, when this same scenario plays out in your rather expansive stockpile, the results can be devastating to your preparedness and your wallet.

A scattered approach to your inventory organization can also lead to missing essentials or considerable overstocks of certain items.

The Quickest And Easiest Way To Store A Month’s Worth Of Emergency Food!

To help you avoid such an avoidable catastrophe, we have compiled a list of mistakes often made — mistakes that could lead to disaster when you most need your stockpile.

1. Not keeping inventory.

This does not have to be an elaborate system which consumes a considerable amount of your time and effort. A simple legal pad strategically hung from the door of your storage area or pantry will suffice.

The end-game here is to simply be able to tell, at a glance, what exactly you have and what you are missing.

Divide the sheet into columns which represent major categories of food. Then simply list what you have, the quantity that was stocked and the date. If you are feeling particularly ambitious and want to refine your document, a straightforward spreadsheet or graph paper document could include details like expiration date and shelving location.

The keys here are to keep the process simple and be diligent in using it. All the planning and design effort in the world will be useless if it simply hangs there unused.

2. Not making it visible.

Out of sight, out of mind, right? There is a tendency for people to forget that which they cannot see. This means that if you have a case of canned green beans stuffed in a plastic tote and shoved back to the rear of your bottom pantry shelf, more likely than not you will forget it is there.

Whenever possible, keep your stocked inventory items visible. There are a ton of ready-to-install options available in the marketplace, but a touch of ingenuity and some handiwork can produce some great solutions for things like vertical can storage and the like.

Keeping things visible makes future stock checks prior to the grocery run much easier.

3. Not using it.

4 Subtle Mistakes That Could Spoil Your Stockpile (No. 3 Is Easiest To Correct)

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It often surprises me when I learn of stockpilers who do not regularly use their own inventory. In these cases, the stockpile inventory is seen as an “emergency only” resource and hence, is locked up and off-limits.

The World’s Healthiest Survival Food — And It Stores For YEARS and YEARS!

While we are not saying to eat up your stock to the point that your inventory dwindles, we are recommending that the food you put away into stockpiles be used and replenished on a regular basis.

No matter how well canned or preserved, food in any of its forms has a viable shelf life.  Before going to the grocery store, draw from your stockpile inventory and replace it with a fresh purchase that has a more advanced expiration date.

Don’t forget to put that new stock in the back of the rotation and note the addition to your inventory sheet.

4. Not protecting it.

The locations and conditions of your stockpile are every bit as important as the inventory levels or organization. Food that has been damaged by a leaking ceiling or wall or chewed on by a winter-hungry rodent is of little use to the human inhabitants of the home.

Cool, dry and dark are the three precepts to follow when at all possible. Certain produce such as potatoes and onions do well in root cellars but, depending on humidity levels, can root prematurely.

Lastly, if your pantry or stockpile area is vulnerable to rodent visitors, consider using quality, tight-sealing plastic totes to protect your bags of grains, pasta and the like from visiting diners.

What stockpiling advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Grafting Vegetables: The New Way To Cheat Nature And Grow More

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Grafted Vegetables: The New Way To Cheat Nature And Grow More

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We all love to garden and eat what we grow, and we are always looking to get the best crop possible. This desire led to the development of grafting vegetable plants – a method that traditional and organic producers are using. It is growing in popularity in the United States, but is already common in Europe and Asia.

What Are Grafted Vegetables?

The grafting of vegetables takes place when the Scion, or top part of a plant, is attached to the root system, or rootstock, of another vegetable plant. The process is similar to that of fruit tree grafting. The scion provides the flavor and quality of the vegetable, and the rootstock is chosen for disease resistance and vigor. This grafting is supposed to improve the plant in many ways.

Benefits of Grafted Vegetables

Grafted vegetables are known for improved yields — with most being a 50 percent increase — and an improvement in the overall health of the crop. Harvests of grafted vegetables can be larger in both quantity and fruit size. Many of them fight of pests and disease better than non-grafted vegetables, and they don’t need as much heat in greenhouses.

Several soil-borne diseases are also avoided, which is great for areas where rotation is difficult. Grafted vegetables have a high cold tolerance, and increased nutrient and water intake.

Planting

If you have the opportunity to get grafted plants, there are a few simple things to know. You don’t want to put any pressure on the graft or bend it, so make sure you plant the graft above the soil line. Staking will help by adding security to the plant. Remember to remove any suckers that may grow anywhere below the graft.

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You may plant grafted vegetables because they can be harvested earlier, but keep in mind these plants can still have some problems. Diseases and insects that affect the leaves can still come and wreak havoc on a crop. Don’t worry: These pests can easily be handled the same way you would with any other plant.

You also may have to do the grafting yourself, as some places sell only the rootstock and you will have to learn to attach the scion yourself.

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Some Grafted Examples

If you are wondering if grafted vegetables would fit into your gardening lifestyle, here are some ideas to help you decide. The list of available grafted vegetables is long, so don’t feel shy about asking questions at your garden center or doing some research before you start your vegetable shopping.

  • Grafted tomatoes can be planted two to four weeks later than usual, but grow fruits longer. Some varieties of grafting tomatoes are Beaufort, Emperador and Maxifort. Beaufort is a standard and sturdy rootstock, whereas Emperador is new to the rootstock scene.
  • One example of a grafted pepper is the Wonder Bell. It takes about 70 days to mature and is considered highly disease-resistant. This type of pepper has a sweet flavor and a vibrant red color. It is often used in salads, sandwiches and grilling.
  • Ketchup and Fries Plant. Yes, that’s right, there is a plant called Ketchup and Fries. Can you guess what it is made from? This is a plant where tomatoes and potatoes grow on the same plant. It was first grafted in the United Kingdom. Ketchup and Fries does well in a container or in the ground. The tomato part of the plant comes as cherry tomatoes. The potatoes, of course, grow underground. Tomatoes are actually part of the potato family, so that’s one reason these two crops grow so well together.

As always, do your research, ask questions and enjoy the experience.

Have you ever grafted a plant? Share your tips in the section below:

There Are 8 Reasons Heirloom Seeds Are Simply Better. Read More Here.

How To Dry Can Food For Survival

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Survivopedia dry canning

Wouldn’t it be great to just reach for a jar and know that all you had to do was add water, juice or broth and everything would be ready to cook? Dry canning is also a good way to extend the life of some dehydrated foods and to keep your dried goods fresh and bug-free.

I have some great tips and instructions to help you get started with your own dry canning projects.

What is Dry Canning?

Dry canning, also referred to as dry packing, has essentially the same purpose as traditional water bath canning: you want to extend the life of the food by storing it in sealed jars so that bacteria that can cause illness or spoilage can’t get in. Dry-canned foods can be good for 30 years or more as long as the seal remains intact.

The difference, as the name suggests, is that you’re not going to be using any type moisture; not in the food or in the process. In fact, the idea of dry canning is to keep moisture OUT. There are a couple of different methods that you can use to dry can your dried goods.

Note to Keep You from Drying Painfully

Yeah, the heading got your attention, didn’t it? Because we’re dealing with canning dried goods, we have to talk about botulism. I’ve talked about it in other articles, including my one on canning meat, but it bears repeating. Botulism spores thrive in high-moisture, low-salt, low-acid environments.

Any food with a pH lower than 4.6 is considered low-acid. This includes most vegetables, some fruits such as pears and bananas, and all meats. Drastically reducing the risk of botulism is one of the main reasons that most water traditional canning recipes call for adding lemon juice, vinegar, or citric acid to the food when you can it.

Dehydrating is a good way to preserve low-acid foods too. The key to doing it safely is to dry it until it has less than 10 percent moisture; a good rule of thumb is that the food snaps in half when it’s done. Grains will be hard and unable to bite.

freezing vs drying

Dry Canning Using Oxygen Absorbers

This is the preferred method for a lot of preppers because it’s easy and it’s thorough. Basically, you have two options.

First, you can use standard mason jars. Sterilize your jars and seals, add the dried food, then toss in an oxygen absorber before you put the seals and lids on. Make sure that your jars and seals are dried well after you sterilize them. You don’t need the seal to be hot when you put it on the jar; the oxygen absorber will seal it cold.

You can also use Mylar bags and food-grade buckets. Put your food and oxygen absorbers into the bags, seal them, then store them in the bucket.

The oxygen absorber isn’t edible but it’s not toxic, either. The active ingredient is iron oxide, so it doesn’t release any type of harmful gas and doesn’t affect the taste or smell of the food. It’s a great way to preserve any type of dried food from flour to cold cereal. You can use these to preserve your dried meats, too.

Just remember that if you’re dry-canning dehydrated meat, your shelf life still isn’t going to be as long as other foods because usually meat still contains enough moisture or fat to spoil or go rancid eventually. Trimming as much fat and tendon off the meat and dehydrating it after soaking it for 24 hours in a high-salt, high-acidic marinade helps extend the shelf life of your meat, too.

Some sites will tell you that it’s OK to use hand warmers to dry-can your food, but it’s not. That’s fine to use with your guns, ammo, and other non-food items that need to stay dry, but it’s not food-safe.

You can also store foods in PETE plastic bottles using oxygen absorbers. They’re lighter and less bulky than mason jars. Make sure that the bottles have screw on lids with plastic or rubber seals in them. To test to see if your bottle will seal, screw the lid on and submerse it in water. Squeeze. If air rushes out of the bottle and you get bubbles, the bottle won’t work. Just make sure that the bottles and lids are sterile before you pack them.

Dry Canning Using Vacuum Sealers

Did you know that you can use your vacuum sealer to seal dried foods in mason jars? Well, now you do. You can get a jar sealer for your vacuum sealer and suck all of the air right out. The jar will seal and you’ll be good to go. This isn’t great for powdery substances but is OK for foods such as beans, pasta, etc. The powdery stuff gunks up your machine.

One word of warning here: this is a good method if you’re just shooting for storage of foods such as flour that you don’t really have to worry about spoiling, but it doesn’t necessarily get enough air out to prevent the growth of mold. You need less than .02% oxygen for that and there’s not really any way to know how much oxygen is left in the jar with vacuum sealers.

Many people assume that as long as the jar is sealed, the food is safe, and usually that’s correct but there’s always that one-in-a-thousand chance that it’s not. Oxygen absorbers, when used as directed, take oxygens levels down to about .01 percent.

Dry Canning in the Oven

This is one of those topics where people stand on either side of the creek and throw rocks at each other. There are those who swear that they’ve safely preserved their dried goods using this method for years without a problem. On the other side, there are those who say it’s dangerous and should never be done.

As with everything, both sides are right. You can dry can in the oven for years with no problems, but there’s always the chance that the jars are going to explode in the heat.

Now I will lean slightly in the direction of the naysayers in one area: foods that have more than 10% moisture or have any significant fat content (including nuts) shouldn’t be dry-canned because the chance of bacterial growth or rancidity. You also can’t dry-can brown sugar and you absolutely CAN NOT replace water bath or pressure canning wet foods with oven canning.

Personally, I’ve dry-canned flour and some blended recipes in the oven and haven’t had a problem. Of course, I’m super cautious and use common sense. Besides the whole fat and moisture thing, I also never let my jars heat or cool too quickly, but then again, I do the same thing when I’m canning wet foods.

The theory that the jars will explode because of the heat bemuses me a bit because I put them in a pressure canner and expose them to an environment that, to me, is much more severe than a 200-degree oven. However, you’re on your own here. Do it at your own risk, as you do everything.

If you decide to dry can using your oven, here’s how to do it:

  • I’m weird about bacteria and you should be, too. I always sterilize my jars before I do anything with them; even dry-can. Just let them dry for several hours because they need to be thoroughly dry.
  • One of the biggest issues that many naysayers have about dry canning is that oven temps vary so the food may not reach a temperature high enough to kill bacteria. I’m pretty sure this one’s covered by using my oven thermometer. You should probably do the same.
  • Place your clean jars on the counter with a cookie sheet at the ready. Using a funnel if you’d like, fill them with your dry food of choice (beans, flour, brownie mix, pasta, whatever), leaving about 1/2 inch of head space.
  • GENTLY tap the jar on the counter when you think that it’s full to help the product settle so that you can pack them as tightly as possible. This also helps remove air pockets.
  • Wipe the rim with a dry (or SLIGHTLY damp) cloth to get any crumbs or dust off of the rim and set the jar on the cookie sheet.
  • Repeat until all jars are full.
  • Place in the oven and set it at 200 degrees. Note that I didn’t say to preheat the oven – you want the jars to heat gradually, remember?
  • Watch your oven thermometer. When it reaches 200 degrees, set your timer for 1 hour.
  • At the end of the hour, remove the first jar. Don’t take them all out at once for 2 reasons. First, if you’re like me, you’ll drop the sheet and waste all of your work. Plus, you’ll likely end up with all of that broken glass that you’re trying to avoid. Second, you want each jar to remain hot until you’re ready to put the seal on it.
  • Lay a dish towel out where you’re going to be cooling the jars. Wipe the rim of the jar again, gently, and place the seal on it. Put the band on securely but not overly tight. Set it on the dish towel.
  • Repeat with each jar, then turn off the oven.
  • Cover the jars with a lightweight towel and let them cool for several hours or overnight. (I use the same method with my water-canned foods. It was just the way I was taught in order to prevent the glass from cooling too quickly. Again, this may be overkill on my part, but I do it anyway.)
  • If you made a mix, such as biscuit mix or soup mix, attach a recipe to the jar. Otherwise, just label and date it like you do your other canned goods.

Test your jars to make sure that they’ve sealed. Just as with water canning, you may hear the ping or you may not. Touch the top to see if the seal is pulled in and can’t be pushed in with your finger. Store jars that don’t seal in the pantry and use them first.

If you have a problem with the seal, you likely didn’t get the rims clean enough.

Storing our food long-term is critical to our survival if SHTF and we lose our modern sources of food. Dry canning food is also a good way to save money because food is almost always cheaper when you buy it in bulk. Oh, and don’t forget bugs. Maybe it’s just me, but weevil pancakes are gross even though they are a source of protein.

If you’ve dry canned using any of the methods above or have any other ideas or questions about dry canning, please share it in the comments section below! And click on the banner to get more about ancient ways to preserve food and water!

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This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

References:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/food/food-safety/sanitation/low-acid-vegetables-botulism/

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Survival Gardening: What Grows Where

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SVP what grows whereWhich crops grow best? How long is the growing season? When is the last average frost date (assuming you aren’t living in a tropical zone)?

These are the sorts of questions to start with when planning your survival garden.

And you really need this knowledge, because even experienced gardeners find themselves overwhelmed when trying to grow food in a completely new climate.

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide standard of splitting the country up into 11 basic hardiness zones based on the area’s coldest average temperatures in winter. Their interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map is therefore an excellent place to start.

plant hardiness zone map - CopyHow Do I know My Climate Zone?

Once you know your region’s USDA climate zone, you can identify the factors that influence your survival crops, such as how long winters last, how cold it gets, the length of the growing season, and which food crops can and can’t thrive.

The USDA hardiness definitions and map does provide a great basic framework to get you started, but keep in mind that it does have its limitations. Hardiness is only measured by the coldest temperatures of the year, and it doesn’t take other climate factors into account. Still, you need to be aware of:

  • The amount of precipitation,
  • Humidity,
  • Maximum temperatures
  • Soil conditions.

Both the high deserts of New Mexico and much of Connecticut, for example, are USDA Zone 6a, but their climates are still completely different. If you happen to live in the western United States, for example, and you’d like a more specific climate zone map, Sunset’s detailed climate zone map takes much more into account, helping you pinpoint your area’s overall growing conditions.

Before you get planting, you should also be aware of micro-climates, which are basically mini-climate zones created by features like bodies of water, parking lots or, more likely, the walls of your home. Taking advantage of micro-climates in your garden can help ensure that you’re plantings will thrive.

For more information on your region’s growing conditions, as well as help with common pests, soil amendments and other gardening stuff, consider visiting a local nursery, botanical garden or County Extension Office.

What Grows Where?

Each USDA climate zone has its own planting schedule, and has two basic growing seasons: warm and cool. The cool growing season, perfect for growing carrots, greens and radishes, takes place every spring and fall, and sometimes winter in the warmer zones. The warm growing season, featuring tomatoes, corn and squash, gets going in late spring and lasts through early fall.

Growing seasons in the sub-tropics and the tropics work a little differently, as the growing season technically lasts all year. Their planting times are generally based around annual rainfall patterns.frost in us

Below is a basic overview of the 13 USDA plant hardiness zones. Note that you can extend your growing season by utilizing micro-climates and by offering protection from the cold with row covers or cold frames.

Zones 1-2

  • Located in Alaska, the northern continental US and high mountains, this zone is defined by long, cold winters and a very short growing season.
  • Growing season: April – September
  • Coldest temperatures: -60 to -40F
  • Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, other vegetables with short time between planting and harvest

Zones 3-4

  • Located in the northernmost US states and cool mountain regions, these zones enjoy a slightly warmer and longer growing season with very cold winters.
  • Growing season: April – October
  • Coldest temperatures: -40 to -20F
  • Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, sweet peas, pole beans, winter squash, red and white potatoes

zone4Zones 5-6

  • Encompassing much of the continental US, these planting zones stretch from Washington and Oregon, down to New Mexico, and across the midwest to New England.
  • Growing season: March – October
  • Coldest temperatures: -20 to 0F
  • Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, beans, strawberries, lettuce and other greens in the spring and fall

Zones 7-8

  • Defined by long, hot summers and mild winters, these zones cover much of the southern US, including the desert southwest and many southern states.
  • Growing season: March-November
  • Coldest temperatures: 0 to 20F
  • Best plants to grow: Corn, tomatoes, melons, squash, collard greens, carrots, bush beans, asparagus and leafy greens during the cooler months

Zones 9-10

  • These sub-tropical to mild temperate growing zones cover much of the deep South, the Gulf coast, most of Florida and southern California. If protection is offered, the growing season can last throughout the year, though the occasional frost may still occur.
  • Growing season: February-November
  • Coldest temperatures: 20 to 40F
  • Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, melons, squash, corn, peppers, yams, citrus, peaches, figs, bananas, salad greens and sweet peas during the cooler months

Zones 11-13

  • Found only in Hawaii and the US territory of Puerto Rico, these tropical growing zones feature a tropical climate and year-round growing season with planting times based around the wet and dry seasons.
  • Growing season: Year-round
  • Coldest temperatures: 40 to 70F
  • Best crops to grow: kale, okinawa spinach, pole beans, passionfruit, sweet potato, red potato, cassava, pineapple, pumpkin, mango, papaya, Thai chili peppers, citrus, bananas, taro
  • Crops to avoid: Any fruits requiring chill time, including berries, cherries, apples and peaches

Growing your own food is a fun, family-friendly hobby with tasty and nutritious rewards. Whether you’re a newbie trying out your first tomato plants, or a seasoned pro moving to a new state, understanding your garden’s climate zone is the first step towards planning and growing a successful, productive garden.

EMPCover1References:

http://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/

http://www.sunset.com/garden/climate-zones/climate-zones-intro-us-map

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Deer Hate These 7 Plants (So Plant Them Around Your Garden)

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Deer Hate These 7 Plants (So Plant Them Around Your Garden)

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Deer are lovely, gentle animals that are a pleasant sight to see – when they are on someone else’s property, that is. As anyone who has had hungry deer visit their garden knows, deer cease to be appealing when they devour your flowers and vegetables.

Deer are crafty and agile creatures that can jump fences and find their way around many obstacles in pursuit of a tasty meal. So what are some natural ways to deter deer from your garden?

Deer tend to avoid plants with strong odors, with unusual textures — such as fuzzy leaves or spiny stems — or with bitter tastes. Therefore, you may find success in protecting your tender greens and flowers from deer by building a border around them of plants that the animals dislike.

Here are seven garden plants that repel deer:

1. Bee balm

A native wildflower that has been hybridized for gardens, bee balm can make a striking addition to your garden with dramatic summer blooms.

Deer Hate These 7 Plants (So Plant Them Around Your Garden)

Bee balm. Image source: Pixabay.com

The fragrant flower attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and bees, but deer do not care for the aroma. You can harvest the leaves for use in salad, or you can dry them for a delicious tea.

If you have room in a sunny spot, you can let bee balm plants spread for large splashes of color. Picking the flowers or deadheading them encourages a second round of blooms. To repel deer, use it as a border plant or in containers around your garden area.

2. Chives

Deer tend to steer clear of chives because of their strong odor and flavor. Chives are easy to grow and once they are established, they self-sow. In addition, chives boast pretty white or purple flowers in summer.

To deter deer, you can plant chives throughout your landscaping and alongside your veggies. They also grow well in containers.

3. Cosmos

Available in a wide variety of color, cosmos is an easy-maintenance flowering plant that deer dislike. Cosmos tolerate a wide range of soil types and can handle dry conditions.

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Cosmos plants can range from one to five feet, so they can add height and color to your beds. Pinching off flowers will increase blooming. Fast-growing cosmos can be used as a hedge around the plants deer find tasty.

4. Garlic

Home-grown garlic adds flavor and nutrition to many pasta dishes, and guess what? Deer don’t like the smell or taste of garlic. Thus, by planting some garlic bulbs among your vegetables, you can deter deer from munching on your other plants.

Other than needing well-draining soil, garlic requires little maintenance.

5. Oleander

Deer Hate These 7 Plants (So Plant Them Around Your Garden)

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you’re looking for something larger to deter deer from your garden beds, consider oleander. An evergreen shrub that can grow up to 20 feet tall, oleander has attractive white, red, pink or yellow blossoms in spring and early summer.

The plant is poisonous to deer, and deer instinctively avoid it.

6. Rosemary

A hardy herb with needle-like leaves that are a favorite of many cooks, rosemary has a strong aroma that deer dislike.

The woody-stemmed plant can commonly reach three feet in height, and in mild climates, it makes an attractive evergreen hedge that displays white, pink, purple or blue flowers in the spring. Rosemary likes full sun and well-drained soil.

7. Russian sage

If you are looking for an attractive easy-to-grow herb that deer dislike, look no further than Russian sage. This hardy perennial will grow up to five feet tall, boasting fragrant and lovely lavender-blue flowers in the spring.

Russian sage can provide a pretty border to deter hungry deer from your veggies and plants.

Keep in mind that deer are persistent creatures, and many gardeners report that what deterred deer one season will have seemingly no effect the following season.

What plants do you use that repel deer? Share your tips in the section below:

Sources:

http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/factsheets/deerdef/bridgen_list.pdf

http://store.msuextension.org/publications/YardandGarden/MT199521AG.pdf

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/deschutes/sites/default/files/deer_resistant_plants_ec.pdf

http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/2302.html

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

5 Gardening Myths That Seemingly Everyone Believes (No. 2 Shocked Us, Too)

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5 Gardening Myths That Seemingly Everyone Believes (No. 2 Shocked Us)

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We have all grown in our gardening experiences by words of wisdom from those gardeners who have come and gone before us, and we’ve even followed gardeners who have TV shows, blogs and websites dedicated to their art.

Of course, there’s a lot of advice that we’ve accepted that is nothing more than myth. This is not to say the advice is not entirely false, but it is not entirely true, either.

These myths have been around so long that even some of the experts take them to heart.

1. All organic pesticides and sprays are safe. Although it’s common sense to question how safe a pesticide is, many gardeners take organic pesticides for granted. Most of the time it is safe, but there are some natural ingredients that are just as dangerous, or more so, than commercial chemicals.

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

Sulphur, for example, was used by early gardeners, but it can be deadly. The same goes for warfarin, sabadilla, rotenone and nicotine, even though they are plant-based. Even pyrethrin, when used long enough, can harm you and your garden. When looking for natural alternatives, be sure to investigate their safety.

2. Fresh vegetables are far more nutritious than frozen or canned vegetables. Well, how fresh is fresh? It is true that fresh vegetables are healthier for you, but only when they are freshly picked. The vegetables you purchase in the grocery stores usually make quite the trip from the field to the shelves of the store. Sometimes the journey takes several days or even weeks to get to the final destination. Enzymes are naturally being released by the vegetables during storage and shipping, causing the vegetables to lose nutrients and minerals. However, when the produce is fresh-picked and quick-frozen, most of the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are preserved. This is good to keep in mind for your own garden produce: If you’re not planning on eating your harvest within a short time, don’t delay in preserving it.

5 Gardening Myths That Seemingly Everyone Believes (No. 2 Shocked Us)

Image source: Pixabay.com

3. Kitchen scraps are all you need for compost. How many of us have compost bins by our gardens, and walk our kitchen scraps out there after each meal? Yet kitchen waste, if that’s all you’re using, is too strong for your garden. You need a mix of leaves (known as brown) and kitchen waste (known as green). There needs to be the correct balance between the two, meaning having more brown than green. The breakdown of these two things creates compost. You can always put extra kitchen scraps into a worm box, or vermicomposter.

4. Watering vegetable plants in the sun will kill them. How often have we been told this one? It’s definitely one believed by many experts. The most common reason gardeners accept this myth is on the premise that the water acts as a magnifying glass. The sun’s rays will hit the water and they will burn the vegetable plants, especially the leaves.

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The truth is the water isn’t strong enough to magnify the sunlight enough to the required heat needed to burn the leaves and plants. Now, this doesn’t mean high noon is the perfect time to water your garden. Be reasonable.

5. Organic gardens are more expensive than traditional gardens. This myth has become more common as people are starting to want more and more organic products and food. Organic produce from any grocery store is more expensive — it’s true. Growing your own organic vegetables are not, however. When you cut out any commercial fertilizers and pesticides, you are saving money. By making your own mulch and compost from scraps and leaves from your yard, you will be saving even more money. Re-use containers and use mixtures of hot soapy water, garlic and hot pepper to keep away unwanted pests. Dead leaves can be used, along with lawn cuttings and scraps, to make fertilizer. Save seeds from your current produce to use for next season. Dry the seeds out and store them in a cool, dry place away from the sun. This is a great way to have a successful garden, as the healthy plants have healthy seeds.

The best way to garden is to do your research and speak to experts and fellow gardeners alike. The more you know, the better your garden will be. You will be able to decide what is true and what isn’t, and your garden will thank you.

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

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

The 10-Week Budget Grocery Guide To Building A 3-Month Food Stockpile

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The 10-Week Budget Grocery Guide To Building A 3-Month Food Stockpile

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Our world seems to be in a violent tailspin and its occupants are watching and waiting, hoping for the best, but expecting the worse. The uncertainty has prompted many families to create stockpiles of food and water, along with some basic necessities just in case things take a turn for the worse.

A stockpile of food is a lot like having an insurance policy for any and all disasters, whether they are huge or just minor hiccups on the road of life.

The Quickest And Easiest Way To Store A Month’s Worth Of Emergency Food!

Of course, stockpiles cost money. If you are a typical family, a stockpile of food that you won’t eat right away seems like a pipe dream. But what if you could build up a stockpile of food for your family to use after a devastating disaster without going broke?

You can. With these tips, you can build your stockpile of food on $20 a week. It will last at least three months – perhaps more depending on the size of your family. Pick a line item each week and buy it. Soon, your food storage will be overflowing, and you will still have plenty of money for your living expenses.

Week 1: A 25-pound bag of steel cut oats will cost you about $15. This will give you enough oats to serve your family of four one cup of cooked oatmeal every morning for approximately two months. Add a $5 bag of dried berries to the cart for a little extra flavor.

Week 2: A 20-pound bag of long grain white rice is around $10. One pound of rice equals approximately six cups of cooked rice. Buy two bags one week and you will have enough rice to serve your family one cup of cooked rice for 60 days.

The 10-Week Budget Grocery Guide To Building A 3-Month Food Stockpile

Image source: Pixabay.com

Week 3: One 20-pound bag of dried pinto beans is about $15. One cup of dried beans equals three cups of cooked beans. That one bag is enough for about 40 servings, or 40 meals of pinto beans for the family.

Week 4: Canned vegetables can be purchased by the case for around 50 cents a can. Unfortunately, those deals are often reserved for certain times of the year. Let’s assume you are shopping for singles; you can expect to pay about 75 cents a can for generic brands. With your weekly allowance, you can get 25 cans of veggies. Mix it up. Don’t go for all corn one week. Do 12 corn and 13 peas (if your family will eat them). That is about a month’s worth of veggies bought in a single week!

Week 5: A single 25-pound bag of flour will cost you about $10 if you go with generic. Buy two, pop them in the freezer for a week to kill the weevil eggs before storing, and you have enough flour to last several months, depending on your meal plan.

Week 6: Canned meat is a bit more expensive, but you will want the protein. For things like canned chicken and Spam, you will only be able to buy 10 cans for the week. Tuna is a great option, and you can get about 40 cans with your $20 allowance for the week.

The World’s Healthiest Survival Food — And It Stores For YEARS and YEARS!

Week 7: Peanut butter will be a big deal in your stockpile. This week, buy five jars of peanut butter in the standard size—don’t go for the bulk.

Week 8: Baking ingredients; 25 pounds of sugar, 1 can of baking powder, 1 box of baking soda. You will want to cook meals from scratch.

Week 9: Instant dry milk can be bought by the box or can be freeze dried. Expect to pay anywhere from $15 to $20 for a large 64 ounce box of instant milk that has about 80 servings.

Week 10: Canned fruit will cost you about a dollar a can. Pick up 20 cans of your family’s favorite fruits.

In just 10 weeks, spending $20 a week, you can have a stockpile of food that will last your family several months. Once you complete the list, then start over or add additional items like pasta noodles, jerky and various soups. That extra 20 bucks can be saved by skipping your favorite coffee drinks and making your own at home, not going out to eat one night or using less electricity to save on your electric bill. If you are truly serious about building a food stockpile, then you will find ways to save a few dollars everyday to make it happen.

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

Tips For Anyone Considering Going Off Grid

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May 23rd, 2016

Video courtesy of Fouch-o-matic Off Grid

On April 25, 2013, Nick and Esther moved to an off-grid yurt in the woods, with our three children. Three years later, we reflect on what we’ve learned and how we’ve changed.

New Book Reveals the Little Known Secrets of How To Maintain An Extremely Low Profile In An Age Of Hackers, Snoops, Data Miners, Corrupt Bureaucrats and Surveillance Grid Profilers.

 

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Bugs Eating Your Vegetables? These 7 Beneficial Flowers Will Chase Them Away

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

Gone are the days when vegetable gardens were planted in neat, perfectly measured rows that would please the toughest drill sergeant. Flowers, which don’t take well to precision planting, were relegated to their own beds.

These days, organic gardeners understand that vegetables and flowers can be the best of friends. Like true friendships, one complements the other, and life is better for both, which means increased yield for you.

Careful companion planting uses space more efficiently. For example, tall plants provide shade for tender, low-growing plants, while vining or low-growing plants serve as living mulch.

Certain blooming plants possess various qualities that tend to repel pests. Some, known as trap plants, are brave souls that sacrifice their own wellbeing by drawing pests away from susceptible vegetables. Others help organic gardeners by attracting beneficial insects that feast on veggie-destroying marauders.

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One of the best things about planting a few flowers in the vegetable garden, apart from their obvious color and beauty, is their ability to attract fleets of bees and other critical pollinators.

Companion Planting Flowers and Vegetables

Companion planting is one part science and two parts pure experimentation. Some flower-veggie partnerships may work for you, and others may not. To find out, rely on combinations that make sense for your gardening plan. Include a few flowers that bring you pleasure, and you can’t go wrong.

1. Nasturtiums.

With their happy-go-lucky nature and bright yellow, orange and gold flowers, nasturtiums are one of the most effective trap plants in the garden. The plants excrete an oil that aphids and other pests adore, which means they quickly lose interest in your beans, corn, cucumbers and tomatoes.

2. Petunias.

Like nasturtiums, petunias are a trap crop that draws aphids, leafhoppers and beetles away from plants like squash, asparagus and cucumbers.

3. Sunflowers.

Sunflowers take up a lot of space, but they’re fantastic if you have a sunny spot where their shade won’t be a problem. Birds love sunflower seeds, and they also like to perch on the tall plants. While they’re in the neighborhood, they’re likely to swoop down and scoop up a few beetles, grasshoppers and cabbageworms. As an added benefit, many gardeners believe sunflowers draw thrips away from veggies, especially peppers.

4. Marigolds.

Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

If you plant only one type of companion flower in your garden, make it marigolds. Marigolds are easy to get along with, and the bright spot of color is irresistible to hoverflies and bees. More importantly, the roots excrete a powerful natural chemical that is fatal to nematodes and other underground pests.

Looking For An All-Natural Pesticide For Your Garden?

Marigolds are beneficial for nearly any veggie in the garden, especially onions, garlic, melons, corn, tomatoes, squash and radishes. If rabbits are munching on your veggies, a row of the strong-scented flowers may be enough to keep them at bay.

5. Dianthus. 

Some gardeners swear that dianthus, also known as pinks, help draw slugs from your tender vegetable plants. If slugs are a problem in your garden, dianthus is definitely worth a try.

6. Calendula.

The bright color of calendula attracts ladybugs, lacewings and other aphid-eating insects, and some gardeners say calendula draw earwigs away from corn and other veggies. Calendula is especially beneficial when planted in the vicinity of kale.

7. Zinnias.

Zinnias draw pollinators and predatory insects like ladybugs to the vegetable garden. Additionally, they attract hummingbirds, which aren’t only fun to watch, but reduce the numbers of many flying pests, especially pesky mosquitoes.

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

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

hydrogen peroxide report

Tomatillos: How To Grow The ‘Secret Ingredient’ Of Mexican Restaurants

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Tomatillos: How To Grow The 'Secret Ingredient' Of Mexican Restaurants

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Want to try something a little more exotic in your garden this year? There is a yummy summer fruit that you may have tasted, but know little about. Tomatillos, also known as husk tomatoes, play a big role in some favorite and common dishes served often in Mexican restaurants – and they’re delicious.

Let’s take a look at this popular fruit that doesn’t get a lot of attention. They are a small, round and green (or greenish-purple) summer fruit, which can also ripen to a yellow, purple or red color if left long enough. Tomatillos originate from Mexico. They are part of the nightshade family and related to tomatoes, but that is where the similarities end.

Tomatillos have a paper-like skin and are usually about one to two inches wide. They are rich in vitamins C and K, as well as niacin, potassium, omega fatty acids and manganese. Their taste is rather tart, and they are often used for sauces and salsas. They can be eaten raw or used in salads as well. Other uses for this useful summer fruit – yes, some people call them vegetables — are in baking dishes, dressings, stews and guacamole. Some people even use tomatillos in omelettes, curry and chili. It seems that the sky is the limit for delectable uses.

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This remarkable little plant is great for beginning gardeners, since tomatillos have very few disease and pest issues. Tomatillos are known to be very decorative, as well.

Planting

tomatillo-408704_640

Image source: Pixabay.com

Tomatillos LOVE the sun and fertile soil. If you want, plant seeds indoors around six to eight weeks before the last frost. Make sure you grow them in a space that will get plenty of warm sunlight, and use compost to enrich the soil for the plants. If you buy seedlings, bury the plants until about two-thirds of the plant is covered, and each plant about three feet apart. A trellis would be helpful, as the tomatillo plants will require support as they grow. Supporting with a trellis also ensures there is a good amount of air circulation around the plants. Tomato cages work fine. The soil needs to be moist at all times. Mulch can be used to help keep moisture even in the soil and to prevent weeds. Soil also needs to have good drainage.

Growing

Plants will be three to four feet tall, and about the same for width. They fruit continuously through the season. Bees will come to the yellow blossoms of the tomatillo plant. You will need at least two plants, but often more, as tomatillos need cross-pollination. Each plant should produce around one pound of fruit for the season. Tomatillos are accustomed to a warm climate, so soggy ground will ruin them, but they still like moisture. Remember: Mulch works well with tomatillos. They can also live in drier conditions, but they are not drought-resistant. When using tomato cages for support, make sure there is at least two feet between each cage.

Timing

Within 75 to 100 days of transplanting, you should have enough tomatillos to make a salsa.

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

Some varieties ripen around 60 days from transplanting, so be sure to read labels or do research on what type you are planting.

Harvesting

When the fruit has filled out the husk part of the plant, but is still green, you should harvest. The fruit will split the husk if it is allowed to ripen further. The flesh should be firm. It will not be as juicy or have bright colors like a tomato.

Storing and Freezing

You can pull the plants and store them in a cool, dry, dark place or in the refrigerator. Store-bought tomatillos will keep up to three weeks in the fridge if you wrap them in paper. When freezing, remove the dry husks and clean the fruit, which will have a sticky film on it. Place the tomatillos in sandwich bags and put them in the freezer. You can thaw as many as you need and leave the rest by using this method. Tomatillos also can be cleaned and cut up before freezing for further ease. Freeze right after picking to ensure the smallest loss of vitamins and nutrients.

If you are ready to try something new and different this year, tomatillos could be the fresh idea for you.

Have you grown tomatillos? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

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

17 Vegetables Guaranteed To Grow In Acidic Soil

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17 Vegetables Guaranteed To Grow In Acidic Soil

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The bright, lip-puckering sourness of lemons? That’s the result of acid. So is the cutting tang of vinegar and the slightly sharp flavor of soda. In each case, your tongue is detecting an abundance of hydrogen ions (H+) in the food. The more hydrogen ions, the greater the acidity.

Although our tongues can detect broad differences in the acidity of certain foods, we can discuss acidity more qualitatively (and in things we wouldn’t want to eat such as soil!) using the pH scale. Completely pure water, which has a pH of 7, has no excess H+ ions and is considered neutral. As the pH gets lower, the acidity increases. Something with a pH of 1 has 100,000 times the concentration of H+ ions as something with a pH of 6!

These dramatic variations in H+ concentration can have profound effects on the surrounding chemistry. In the case of soil, increased acidity also affects which vegetables can successfully grow.

Impact of Acidic Soil on Vegetable Plants

Acidity can have a number of different impacts on growing plants. At extremely low pHs (<4) the hydrogen atoms themselves actually damage the roots of plants, making it hard for virtually any plants to survive.

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Even at more moderate acidity levels, the presence of excess hydrogen ions still has an impact. For example, acidity can tie up key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, making them less available for absorption through the roots. It also can increase the concentration of dissolved metals, like aluminum, iron and manganese, which can be toxic to plants. For instance, aluminum can inhibit root growth, while excess manganese is apparent in crinkling and cupping of leaves. Heavy metals (like lead) also have increased solubility at lower pH levels.

Best Vegetables for Acidic Soil

17 Vegetables Guaranteed To Grow In Acidic Soil

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Acidic soil is common and has many different causes. Things such as excessive rainfall, weathering of ground minerals, fertilizer use, bacterial activity and contamination all can contribute to lower ground pH values. And while many people assume that blueberries and cranberries are the only crops suitable for acidic conditions, there are actually several vegetable plants that can tolerate mild to moderate acidity:*

Vegetables for Somewhat Acidic Soil (pH = 5.5 – 6.5)

1. Carrot (5.5-7.0)

2. Cauliflower (5.5-7.5)

3. Corn (5.5-7.5.)

4. Cucumber (5.5-7.0)

5. Eggplant (5.5-6.5)

6. Garlic (5.5-7.5)

7. Pepper (5.5-7.0)

8. Pumpkin (6.0-6.5)

9. Radish (6.0-7.0)

10. Rhubarb (5.5-7.0)

11. Sorrel (5.5-6.0)

12. Squash, winter (5.5-7.0)

17 Vegetables Guaranteed To Grow In Acidic Soil

Rhubarb. Image source: Pixabay.com

13. Tomato (5.5-7.5)

14. Turnip (5.5-7.0)

Vegetables for Moderately Acidic Soil (pH = 4 – 5.5)

15. Peanut (5.0-7.5)

16. Potato (4.5-6.0)

17. Sweet potato (5.5-6.0)

Acidic soil doesn’t have to be a death knell for your garden. By identifying the pH of your soil using simple equipment, such as litmus paper or inexpensive soil meters, it’s possible to plan appropriate crops for different areas and not let acidity sour your gardening experience.

Which vegetables do you grow in acidic soil? What advice would you add? Share your thoughts in the section below:

*Source: University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science

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

How Much Should You Grow To Feed Your Family An Entire YEAR? Here’s The Answer

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The 365-Day Harvest: Planting A Garden To Feed Your Family For A FULL YEAR

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How much food does your family eat in a year? The answer may surprise you, unless you’ve been planning a garden to feed them. Deciding how much to plant can make the difference between a lean year and a fat one. Careful planning and recordkeeping are essential if you want to live off your land.

When planning your homestead, it can be useful to know a total goal for food production. According to the USDA, the average American eats about 825 pounds of food a year, plus sweeteners. About 275 pounds of the average diet are derived from fresh and preserved fruit and vegetables. This number only accounts for edible food weight, however; in reality, you must grow much more. The USDA documents that nearly twice as much food is grown. The extra weight is comprised of parts not used, spoilage and wastage. Assuming you will do better than the average Joe at using up all the parts of what you grow, you should account for a 30 percent loss rate. That means you will need to grow at least 360 pounds of fruits and vegetables per person. You may also need to grow food for livestock, which is not accounted for here. If you plan to be truly self-sufficient, the remaining food sources will be whole grains, nuts, seeds, dairy, eggs, legumes and/or meat.

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If you account for our homesteader average loss, then, you will need to produce around 1,200 pounds of food per person to be completely self-sufficient, divided up into the appropriate categories to provide complete nutrition. Here’s a quick breakdown of the average American diet, in pounds (2013 values):

Food Source Per Capita Pounds / Year (primary weight) Per Capita Pounds / Year (adjusted for measured loss)
Meat, fish, eggs, nuts 311 163
Vegetables 384 155
Fruit 252 117
Dairy 291 203
Grains* 175 122
Fats and Oils** 98 63
Added Sugar / Sweetener 128 75
Totals 1639 898

 

*Not including rice.  **2010 values.

When it comes to fruits and vegetables, be aware that they will account for 25 percent of your food, and should not take up 80 percent of your labor. It is important to be sensible about the crops you intend to grow. Your climate and the lay of your land can have a huge impact on yields; some crops will do better than others, and you may have the time and resources available to more easily preserve or store some foods and not others. Plan to grow a diverse nutritional base from crops that yield a lot on your land, rather than providing unlimited variety.

The USDA publishes a guide for planning for vegetable growing. The guide comes complete with formulas and worksheets to help you figure out what you will need to grow. The following chart from the guide sums up per-person annual yields and plantings for several popular vegetables; note that amounts for preserving are IN ADDITION to fresh-eaten produce. If your family won’t eat something, or if you know it won’t easily grow, substitute the equivalent amount of something else nutritionally similar. Also note that these are average yields; if you practice biointensive gardening, or if you live in climates not suited to the vegetable listed, then you will experience different yields.

Vegetable Estimated need (lbs)per person Approximate rowlength toplant per person Approximateyield (lbs) per foot of row Amount of freshproduce (lbs) neededFor 1 quart preserved *
Fresh If Preserving Fresh If Preserving Canned Frozen
Asparagus 6 6 10 ft 10 ft 0.6 4 2-3
Bean, lima (bush) 2-4 4-5 7-13 ft 13-17 ft .30 (shelled) 4-5 4-5
Snap, Dry & Pole Beans 8 8-15 8 ft 8-15 ft 1 1.5-2 1.5-2
Beets 5-10 10-15 5-10 ft 10-15 ft 1 2.5-3 2.5-3
Broccoli 8 8-10 10 ft 10-13 ft 0.8 2-3
Cabbage 10 10-15 5 ft 5-8 ft 2 3 (sauerkraut)
Carrots 5-10 10-15 5-10 ft 10-15 ft 1 2.5-3 2.5-3
Cauliflower 8 8-10 10 ft 10-13 ft 0.8 2-3
Chard 3-5 5-6 2-3 ft 3-4 ft 1.5 2-6 2-6
Corn, Sweet 12-24 (ears) 24-60 (ears) 6-12 ft 12-30 ft 2 (ears) 4-5 4-5
Cucumbers 5-10 10-15 5-10 ft 10-15 ft 1 1.5-2
Lettuce 5-10 10-20 ft 0.5
Onions 5-10 10-15 3-7 ft 7-10 ft 1.5 2-3 2-3
Peas, pod 3-5 5-10 4-6 ft 6-13 ft 0.8 4-5
Peas, shelled 3-5 5-10 6-10 ft 10-20 ft 0.5 4-5 4-5
Peppers 3 3-10 2 ft 2-7 ft 1.5 2 2
Potatoes 50-100 50-100 25-50 ft 25-50 ft 2 5
Pumpkins, Rutabaga 10-20 10-20 5-10 ft 5-10 ft 2 2-2.5 2-2.5
Spinach 2-5 5-8 3-6 ft 6-10 ft 0.8 2-3 2-3
Squash, summer 5-7 7-10 3-4 ft 4-5 ft 2 2.5-3 2-3
Squash, winter 10-20 10-20 5-10 ft 5-10 ft 2 2 3
Tomato 20 20-40 8 ft 8-16 ft 2.5 3
Turnip 5-10 5-10 3-5 ft 3-5 ft 2 2.5-3

Unfortunately, the guide did not address popular fruits. Yields for fruit can be harder to predict, but a thorough guide was published by Penn State and is available here.

Some average yields for fruit-bearing plants are listed below to aid in your planning:

Crop Average Yield
(lbs./100 sq. ft.)
Half-Cup Servings
Per Pound
Apples 51 2.8
Blackberries 15 4.1
Cantaloupe 59 2.6
Cherries 15 3.4
Grapes 31 1.9
Peaches, clingstone 53 3.4
Peaches, freestone 40 3.4
Pears 67 3.4
Plums 27 3.4
Strawberries 102 6
Watermelon 59 2.7

 

Effective planning can guarantee your family won’t go hungry. Don’t expect everything to happen in a single growing season; take copious notes and make adjustments each year to grow the most efficient crops for your land. With care and diligence, you can produce enough food for a year.

What advice would you add for growing enough food to feed a family for a year? Share your advice in the section below:

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

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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New Report Reveals The 12 Fruits & Vegetables You Should NEVER Buy Because Of Pesticides — And There Are Some Surprises

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New Report Reveals The 12 Fruits & Vegetables You Should NEVER Buy Because Of Pesticides -- And There Are Some Surprises

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Nearly three out of four of the fruits and vegetables sold at America’s supermarkets contain pesticide residues, according to US Department of Agriculture (USDA) data cited in a new Environmental Working Group report that also listed the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables.

All total, the USDA data detected 146 different pesticides on produce sold in the United States.

Disturbingly, some of the healthiest foods, including leafy greens like kale, and strawberries, contained the highest levels of pesticides, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) discovered in its Shoppers Guide to Pesticides in Produce.

Highlights from the guide include:

  • Pesticide was detected on 98 percent of the strawberries, peaches, nectarines and peaches tested.
  • Samples taken from a sweet bell pepper and a grape contained 15 different pesticides.
  • A strawberry sample contained 17 different pesticides.

Perhaps most frightening of all was the list of foods mothers throughout America put in their children’s lunchboxes because they think they are healthy.

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Here is the EWG’s “Dirty Dozen” list of the most contaminated produce:

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Hot peppers and greens such as kale and collard greens, almost made the top 12.

To give moms peace of mind, the EWG also published a Clean 15 list of the most pesticide-free produce:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweat peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangos
  9. Papaya
  10. Kiwi
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower

It looks as if the only way to keep your food pesticide-free is to grow a garden.

What are your thoughts on these lists? What produce do you purchase and also avoid at the store? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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

14 Drought-Resistant Vegetables To Plant If You Rarely Get Rain

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14 Drought-Resistant Vegetables To Plant If You Rarely Get Rain

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In many parts of the country, a drought-resistant garden is more than just a neat idea; it’s a necessity. Choosing the right combination of vegetables, paying attention to planting dates, and modifying your approach to irrigation and planning can help you grow food despite less hospitable conditions. Don’t depend on nature to come through for you this year; plant a drought-resistant vegetable garden and be prepared if the rains don’t fall.

First Step: Planning

In drought-prone regions, the middle of summer is likely the worst time to attempt to grow vegetables. Capitalize on a warm climate by planting early in spring to harvest before the summer heat, or in early fall to harvest before winter sets in. Even if your region suffers from year-round lack of precipitation, planting in the more temperate seasons will prevent your garden from attempting to combat the heat and greater evaporation.

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

In summer and winter, or any other times you choose not to plant, plan on amending your soil. Soil rich in compost will trap more moisture for your plants. You might consider a layer of charcoal beneath the soil, as well, to hold even more water and provide nutrients. Appropriate pH levels and soil nutrients help your plants grow more efficiently so they will be able to grow with less need for water.

Moisture Loss and Watering

Protect your improved soil from water runoff and moisture loss. Mulching is an excellent technique to help the area around your plantings catch rain; your mulch will also catch evaporating water from the soil below and condense it, keeping it available to your plants. If you have cuttings from other plants, mulching with them allows some of the moisture from those cuttings to go into the soil. Plastic sheets that cover the soil can also be an option, although you should be aware they raise the temperature of the soil.

Drip irrigation is particularly beneficial in dry areas, since the flow of water is fairly constant and extremely slow. If you plan a drip system, consider building it with water filters (to prevent clogging) and a valve or stop (to prevent water from dripping when the soil is already moist). If you choose another method of watering, pay attention to your soil and let it tell you when to water, rather than watering daily. Test a patch about 6 inches deep and control your irrigation, so you will have water when you need it. Pinch a bit of soil between your fingers. If it holds together, don’t water, but if it falls apart easily, it’s time to water.

When planning the drought-resistant garden, resist planting in rows. Clustering plants together leaves them less exposed to evaporation, and allows taller plants to provide shade to smaller plants. Grouping plants together by watering requirement can help you accurately prevent overwatering of those that don’t need much. Some vegetables do extremely well in companion planting, a technique that uses the growth habits of one type of plant to assist that of another; the most famous combination is the “three sisters” (beans, corn, and squash) but there are other combinations that work well. Regardless of what you choose to plant, growing vegetables closer together conserves water.

14 Drought-Resistant Vegetables To Plant If You Rarely Get Rain

Okra. Image source: Pixabay.com

Enclosed areas and raised beds are more moisture rich than seeding into open ground. Even a simple retaining wall built at a depth of about 10 inches can keep groundwater from leaving your garden. This technique works better in small spaces, or it can be used to break up a large space.

Best Vegetables for the Drought Resistant Garden

Some plants just do better with less water. Below you can find a partial list of what to grow for high yield in low-moisture environments. Generally speaking, plants native to the Southwest –such as black-eyed peas – will be easiest to grow, followed by plants with a deep root structure like squash, melon and some tomato varieties.

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Cool season plants with short root systems, like lettuce, will not thrive without water.

Best drought-resistant vegetables for hot climates

  1. Beans (all varieties, pole and dry beans)
  2. Cantaloupe
  3. Okra
  4. Cucumber
  5. Eggplant
  6. Melon
  7. Pepper (all varieties)
  8. Sweet Potato
  9. Tomatillo
  10. Jicama
  11. Sweet and Seed Corn
  12. Squash (Winter and Summer)
  13. Watermelon
  14. Tomato (try early producing or heat-resistant varieties like Early Girl, Roma, Marvel Striped)
14 Drought-Resistant Vegetables To Plant If You Rarely Get Rain

Image source: Pixabay.com

Meanwhile, here is a list of vegetables you might have success with in dry climates:

  1. Rhubarb
  2. Arugula
  3. Chard
  4. Turnips
  5. Potatoes
  6. Endive
  7. Garlic
  8. Leeks
  9. Cabbage
  10. Onions
  11. Spinach
  12. Asparagus
  13. Woody Herbs (Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Oregano)
  14. Beets
  15. Broccoli

If you live in a drought-prone area, the most important steps you can take to protect your garden and ensure it will yield the vegetables you need are steps to conserve and save water. Rain barrels, storage of grey water used around the homestead, and careful conservation measures to limit wastage all can contribute to helping your garden grow. If you want a reliable source of food in a dry climate, awareness of where the water is coming from – and where it is going – will be your most effective tool.

What advice would you add for planting a drought-resistant garden? Share your ideas in the section below:

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

Frost 101: THIS Is The Temperature You Better Start Covering Your Vegetables

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Frost 101: THIS Is The Temperature You Better Start Covering Your Vegetables

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Every spring when the first spell of warm weather occurs, many beginning gardeners head to their local garden centers and nurseries, eager to get planting. When the temperatures rise and the sun is shining, it is tempting to want to get a head start on your spring garden.

However, that head start can be a frustrating waste of time and money when spring frost damages or destroys your young plants. You can avoid this scenario by doing a little homework on frost and freeze dates in your area.

First, what exactly is frost? By definition, frost is a collection of tiny white ice crystals that form on the ground or other solid surfaces when the air temperature gets cold.

Frost forms when water vapor in the air changes from the gas phase to the solid stage. Frost is difficult to predict, though, because the air temperature within the vicinity of your garden can be several degrees higher than 32 degrees Fahrenheit – the freeze point — and yet it can still form on your plants. As a result, the National Weather Service uses 36 degrees Fahrenheit and below as its guideline for a possible frost. But even then, frost may not occur. The air must be mostly still, and moisture has to be in the air. (A frost is different from a freeze, in which the temperature must be 32 or below.)

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

Frost can damage plants by causing ice crystals to form in the plant cells, disrupting the movement of fluids to plant tissues. Frost-damaged leaves first appear water-soaked; then they shrivel and turn dark in color.

Garden plants are classified according to the temperatures they can usually tolerate. Plants classified as “hardy” can tolerate some frost, while plants classified as “tender” often are killed or damaged by frost.

Frost 101: THIS Is The Temperature You Better Start Covering Your Vegetables

Image source: Pixabay.com

The average last spring frost date usually ranges from mid-March to mid-May, depending on where you live in the United States. Almanacs, websites and university extension services often take historical data into consideration and list an average date as the last frost date.

Many seed and gardening websites feature last frost dates that you can look up by typing in your zip code. Keep in mind, however, that that date is an average, and that means that a frost can certainly occur after that date.

The location of your garden can play a big factor in whether your plants are damaged by a frost or not. Generally, air temperature lowers from 3-5 degrees Fahrenheit with each thousand-foot increase in altitude. Therefore, the higher the elevation of your garden, the more likely your plants will be hit by a frost or freeze. On the other hand, cold air is heavier than warm air and can sink to lower areas, causing frost damage.

The best spot for an early annual garden is on a gentle, south-facing slope that is exposed to plenty of late-afternoon sun and is protected from the north wind. A garden that is surrounded by trees, shrubs or buildings or is located near a body of water is also less likely to be damaged by frost. Additionally, closely spaced plants can protect each other from frost damage.

The best way to prepare for a late-season frost is to know the sensitivity level of your plants. In addition, the plant itself can give you clues. Immature plants that still had new growth showing well into the fall are susceptible to damage. Plants with dark-colored leaves – especially bronze or maroon – absorb and retain heat and can better handle a frost. Also, in general, plants that are compact have less to expose to the cold and wind and therefore can ride out a frost better than taller plants with smaller leaves.

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What should you do if you have planted your garden and learn that a frost is likely? Here are a few tips:

  • Cover your plants to retain soil heat and moisture and to protect them from strong winds. You can use newspapers, fabric tarps, sheets, straw or baskets, but be sure to cover the entire plant in order to trap any heat. Anchor lightweight coverings to prevent them from blowing away. Avoid plastic covers because, unless you remove them quickly enough in the morning, they can create enough heat in the morning sun that will actually burn your plants.
  • Water your plants if frost is predicted. It may seem counter-intuitive, but as the water freezes, it will release heat, protecting the plants from damage.
  • If you are able to use an electric fan to protect your plants from the elements, then set one up by your garden. Even a small breeze can help stop cold air from settling on your plants and then freezing during the night.
  • Potted plants are susceptible to frosts because their roots are less insulated. Move smaller pots indoors or under a cover. If the planters are too big to move, wrap the pots in burlap or bubble wrap or try burying the pot in the ground. Also, place a covering over the foliage.

As you plan your spring garden, realize that in late April or early May, you are not out of the woods for a spring frost. If your green thumb cannot wait and you are a bit of a risk taker, you still can have gardening success as long as you watch the weather carefully and prepare for the worst.

Related:

Tricks And Secrets To Keep Rabbits From Destroying Your Garden

How do you protect your garden from frosts? Which vegetables do you plant the earliest? Share your tips in the section below:

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

3 Dirt-Cheap Mulches That Will Help Your Garden Flourish

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3 Dirt-Cheap Mulches That Will Help Your Garden Flourish

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The topic of mulch has been thoroughly discussed by avid gardeners for years. By now, we are well aware of the benefits of using mulch. Yes, it saves time and energy when it comes to maintaining a successful vegetable garden. Besides the obvious benefits of maintained soil-moisture and weed control, however, we also can count on controlled soil temperature and less erosion.

While most people take a trip to the closest garden center to purchase pre-packaged mulch, there are organic and affordable mulches you can find closer to home, even in your own backyard. You can have a weed-free, moist garden that smells and looks great!

Let’s take a look at five unique mulches you should consider to enhance your garden this season.

1. Pine needle mulch. This fragrant type of mulch is delicate and fine in texture. It also smells quite pleasant and has a lovely color to complement your garden. It tends to stay in place well, and because of this, is good to use on hills and slopes where other mulch would roll or blow off. Pine needles break down slowly.

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

It can take about 12 to 18 months to totally decompose. You can also use the needles as a garden-soil conditioner. Pine needle mulch can often can be found locally and is used year-round.

2. Straw. Straw always smells wonderful when it’s fresh and warm. It has a beautiful golden hue that adds color to the garden. Straw is slow to break down. Straw has less nutrients than grass hay, but is still one of the most-used garden mulches. A thin layer of straw will still let light through and open the door to weeds. You may want to use several inches of straw, or use shredded straw instead of loose straw.

3 Dirt-Cheap Mulches That Will Help Your Garden Flourish

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3. Leaves. Here is a real money-saver. Use the leaves you rake up in your yard, or ask your neighbor if you can rake their leaves. Run the lawnmower over the leaves and use them as a mulch. Leaves need to be shredded before being used, and they do decompose quicker than straw and pine needles but are worth the effort. Shredding the leaves prevents them from becoming matted when damp. Dry leaves are full of minerals.

If you are wondering how many leaves you will need, keep in mind you will want to have three to four inches of leaf mulch around your plants.

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Meanwhile, if you are willing to spend a little more on mulch and want something unique this season, then try these two:

Cocoa hull mulch. You will want to spray this woody-type mulch down with water, as it is really light and can blow around. Cocoa mulch has a pleasant color and fine texture. In fact, it actually smells like chocolate. This mulch is known to be one of the most beautiful and most expensive types of mulch. It doesn’t fade and is slow to decompose. It works well with herbs and other vegetables with small leaves.

Warning: Some gardeners claim cocoa hull mulch is poisonous to pets.

Grain hulls. Both rice and buckwheat can add nutrients to the soil. These mulches are slow to decompose, so you won’t have to reapply the mulch often. Grain hulls work well in areas that have poor drainage or in soils heavy in clay. They are very light, so it may be difficult to keep in the garden on windy days. You will want to wet the top of the mulch down when you first apply it to the garden.

There is a mulch for every gardener and every garden. Find a mulch that not only works with your style of gardening, but with your vegetables as well.

What are your favorite mulches? Share your tips in the section below:

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

How To Build A Small-Scale, Backyard Aquaponics System For Less Than $100

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aquaponics

Every homestead can benefit from a small scale aquaponics system. Let’s examine some of the reasons you might want to try one this year:

Enjoyment. It’s fun to watch fish grow and swim (even under ice in the winter). It’s also fascinating that you can grow healthy plants without soil.

Fresh produce. So many plants can be grown in aquaponics systems. The main consideration is the temperature if you plan on keeping the plants in the system. Example: scallions and strawberries can be kept year-round. Tomatoes, peppers and such are only growable in the warmer months, unless you have the system in a heated area.

Fresh fish. Even in a small system, you can raise edible fish. Catfish, perch and tilapia are all good, edible fish. You can even raise minnows or Koi to sell!

Natural fertilizer. I love using my fish water for fertilizer. A cup of fish water diluted into 5 gallons of water will be a nice light fertilizer for your garden or house plants.

Building a small aquaponics system is flexible. You can be as low tech as using a heavy tarp for a small pond liner, or you can purchase an aquaponics tank setup. I will explain how I have my system, which cost under $100 and has been running over a year.

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I used an old recycled 12-foot pool. This is one of the pools you can buy at just about any general store with an inflating ring on top. The pump will not be any good, but you can buy a small fish pond pump for about $25. The plant container I used was the top of a plastic drum, so it had the two bung holes in the bottom. Along with these supplies, I used some stone that I had in the driveway to serve as growing media.

How To Build A Small-Scale, Backyard Aquaponics System For Less Than $100

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To summarize, the important components included only the following:

1. Old recycled 12-foot pool.

2. 1 plastic drum.

3. Stone (small driveway stone).

To assemble:

1. Dig a hole in the ground, 4 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet (saves money and keeps the pond cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter).

2. Place some sand in the bottom of the hole.

3. Use some old tarp and rugs to line the hole (to prevent puncturing the pool liner).

4. Put in the pool liner.

5. Fill the pond, but don’t drain your well! (You could use collected rain water.)

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

6. Pull out creases in the pond liner as you fill it. (So cleaning the walls in the future won’t be a hassle.)

Now that you have a small in-ground pool, it’s time to work on the growing container.

1. Cut the top of the drum. (I used a jigsaw, but you can use a circular saw carefully).

2. If using the top of the drum, cut it about 12 to 18 inches deep and use the end with the bungs.

3. Put a couple of treated 4x4s across your pond to rest the “drum top” on. Obviously, the bung holes will be facing down and keep the bung holes from draining on the treated lumber.

Time to fill the container

1. Place large stones over the bung holes so that small stones won’t fall through.

2. Fill container with stone (river rock, driveway stone, etc.).

3. Place your pond pump in the pond and the hose in the center of the growing container.I put a 6-inch terracotta planter bottom on top of my planter, and I have my hose pouring into that so it helps distribute the water.

4. I put a 6-inch terracotta planter bottom on top of my planter, and I have my hose pouring into that so it helps distribute the water.

This system works well and allows you even to take onion bottoms you cut and grow them into onion tops. Get creative and enjoy your own small aquaponics system. One last tip: Get some barley straw and toss it into your pond (it will naturally kill the algae that will grow in a pond).

Do you have any aquaponics tips? Share your advice in the section below:

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

The 15 Best Container Vegetables To Grow

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The 15 Best Container Vegetables To Grow One of the most asked questions I get is, “What vegetables can I grow in containers?” I get asked this because quite a few of us can’t garden because we rent or live in an apartment and only have a small balcony or patio. The simplest answer is; …

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9 Ways To Grow Food On The Down-Low

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 9 Ways to Gardening

As the world around us grows more unstable, we as preppers have recognized the need to be prepared if SHTF. One of our major concerns is having enough food to feed ourselves and our families long-term and there are two issues that stand in our way.

First, it’s tough to grow food in urban areas because of space limitations and government regulations. You already know how the government is using different regulations aiming to ban self-sufficiency.

Second, regardless of where we live, we don’t want everybody to know that we have food stored away because if things go sideways, it will be every man for himself and hungry people are desperate people.

The solution to both concerns is learning unconventional, sustainable ways to grow food under the radar. I’ve done my homework and have some solutions that I’d like to share with you.

Growing “Ornamental” Food

pepper plant

Growing food that looks ornamental has two major advantages over growing a traditional garden. First, it satisfies urban or home owner’s association requirements for an attractive yard. It also produces food in a way that your neighbors won’t likely notice.

There are many ornamental, edible plants that you can grow in raised beds, as ground cover, in vertical beds, or as trees and bushes. Plants such as strawberries, peppers, berries, cabbage, tomatoes, herbs and fruit trees are all examples of ways to grow ornamental food that supplies you with edibles in a manner that people won’t even suspect.

We’ve outlined a couple of these methods here, and here.

Grow Food Indoors

hydroponic indoor

Believe it or not, you can grow plenty of food inside, even if you don’t have much space.

Though you may not be able to grow enough to sustain yourself completely, what you grow will certainly add to your stockpile.

You’re going to be surprised by some of the ideas that I’m going to suggest.

You have the obvious ways, of course. You can grow plants in planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. A few examples of food that can be grown indoors includes herbs of any sort, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, and peppers.

Examples of not-so-common ways to grow food inside include using hydroponics, which don’t require dirt, and aquaponics. You can actually grow plants and edible fish and plants in your fish tank!

Growing food inside is the ultimate way to keep nosy neighbors and interfering governments and associations out of your garden and you can grow food year-round for both food and medicine.

Privacy Fences and Shrubs

peas

Though this isn’t a fool-proof way to keep neighbors from peeking at what you’re doing, it IS a good way to keep roving strangers in the dark, especially if you’re using plants that are ornamental as well as edible.

Who’d think that those beautiful hanging and vertical plants are actually food sources?

Grow a Roof-Top Garden

high gardening

Don’t laugh – would YOU look on somebody’s roof for food? Probably not, and neither would most other people. Especially considering that most people who are unprepared likely haven’t researched creative ways to grow food, a roof-top garden is going to be completely out of their line of sight.

But believe me when I tell you that it’s possible, and it’s not rocket science!

Growing a roof-top garden only requires a flat roof. It can be your barn, your apartment building roof, or any other roof that you have on your property. If you’re building a new structure on your property, consider building it in such a way that you have an out-of-sight place to grow some container plants.

If the roof is sturdy enough to hold dirt, and is under your control, you can actually put an entire garden up there.

Aquatic Gardening

koi fish

You know that pond you have out back? Oh wait, you don’t have one? Then how about building one? Even a koi-style pond can be used to grow food hydroponically or aquaponically.

There are many aquatic plants and fish that can be grown in a relatively small space. You can even grow standard plants using aquatic gardening by planting them in floating planters.

Best of all, nobody would suspect that your entire beautiful pond is a food source for you. If you do your research, you’ll find that many aquatic plants are packed with vitamins and minerals, and you can use a variety of edible creatures including fish, shrimp, and snails.

The water in your pond is also a great fertilizer. Oh, and you can do this indoors on a smaller scale.

Underground or Basement Gardening

basement

We’ve all heard about people growing pot in their basements or closets using grow lights so why can’t we carry that over to edible plants? If you have a basement, cellar, large building or even a shed, you can grow food without sunshine using grow lights. Your neighbors will never be the wiser.

Oh, and what about this: growing food in your bunker? Even if the lights go out when SHTF and you have to go underground, you’ll have the food that’s currently growing in there to provide food until the plants die from lack of light. You could always use solar panels to keep your grow lights on, too.

Or, you can transplant your plants into secret places around the property (i.e. in the woods around your house) and nobody will be any wiser. That brings us to the next method.

Wild Gardening

rose-hip-10496_1920

There are hundreds of edible plants that most people would never think of as food. You can always plant these around your property so that you have food where other people see weeds or inedible flowers or trees.

You can even scatter traditional food plants throughout your property in smaller plots so that if one is discovered, you have other plots that will sustain you.

Vermiponics

worms

This is a relatively new concept that combines hydroponics (growing plants without soil), vermiculture (creating fertilizer using worms) and aquaculture (raising fish or plants using water). In short, vermiculture is a self-sustaining way to grow both plants and fish without soil.

There are numerous benefits to this process. Fish and worms both produce waste products that make excellent fertilizer. The plants that are grown are packed with nutrients and grown without chemical fertilizers. The system can be set up in a relatively small space and is a circular growth cycle that constantly produces two food sources simply by maintaining the system.

I learned about vermiponics from a report that details the process from start to finish – see my review here.

Hedge Gardening

hedge

This one isn’t quite so much on the down-low as it is sneakily hiding your plants in plain sight.

If you have hedges, you can also plant edibles throughout them that will blend right into the hedges.

Berry bushes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, carrots and rhubarb are just a few plants that pop to mind when thinking about this.

Figuring out how to grow food to feed your family without looking like a survival beacon to those who don’t prepare isn’t that hard if you’re just willing to put on your thinking cap and think outside of the box.

There’s nothing saying that you can’t have your greenhouse and garden to grow food for now, and you can even hide them on the back of your property so that others are less likely to see them, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan.

As a matter of fact, having an obvious garden may serve as a great decoy to keep people away from your other methods. Remember that people aren’t going to be thinking of methods other than the obvious because they haven’t put any effort into prepping. They’ll see your garden, raid it, then assume they’ve gotten all that you have.

I’d also like to point out that it’s good to store your preserved foods in more than one place. If you’re planning on bugging out, you likely have places where you’re planning to stop for the night, or use as a safe place to stay or to meet up with the rest of your family. Stock some food in these places even if it means digging a bit of a hidden cellar or just burying the food.

If you have any other good ideas about growing food on the down-low, please tell us about them in the comments section below. If we all put our heads together and share ideas, then we’re stronger as a community.

BYL 1

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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We all know that fresh vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but did you know that not all vegetables are created equal? In fact, some veggies are not all that great for you.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that moderately active adults up to age 50 consume about 2 1/2 cups of vegetables per day, while adults over 50 should reduce this daily intake by a half cup.

These guidelines are tricky, however, because some veggies are higher in sugar and calories than others are. For instance, a cup of mashed vegetables is more concentrated than a cup of sliced zucchini, but the USDA guidelines consider them as equivalent. Also, the USDA counts an eight-ounce serving of 100 percent vegetable juice the same as one cup of raw vegetables, even though the nutritional content would vary considerably.

As a general rule, the healthiest vegetables (and fruits) are those that have a high-density value, which is the amount of nutrients a food has in relation to the number of calories it has.

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So, yes, there is a list of least nutritious vegetables.

Here, then, are the seven least nutritious vegetables you can grow in your garden this year, according to the USDA’s National Nutrient Database.

7. Celery

You would have to eat an awful lot of celery to get a nutritional boost. An eight-inch stalk, for example, offers only 1.6 percent of the daily requirement for calcium and 2 percent of the requirement for vitamin C. Low in calories and high in fiber, store-bought celery is prominent on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list of vegetables and fruit with pesticide residue. Even if you grow it yourself in your own organic garden, however, celery serves as little more than as an edible scooper for dips and spreads.

6. Cucumber

The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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One cup of refreshing sliced cucumber offers only 16 calories; however, its nutritional value is slim as well. Even if you grow your own organic cucumbers – thereby avoiding the synthetic wax added to supermarket cukes — you will gain less than 5 percent of the USDA daily requirement for potassium, manganese, magnesium and vitamin C by eating this vegetable.

5. Eggplant

Although it is a good source of fiber, raw eggplant can contain high levels of solanine, a form of glycoalkaloid poison found in members of the nightshade vegetable family. Solanine can pose a particular problem for people with joint problems or chronic inflammation.

Eggplant also contains oxalates, a substance that may contribute to kidney or gallbladder problems, including the formation of kidney stones, in certain individuals.

4. Radishes

Although radishes do contain vitamin C, you would have to eat very large amounts of them to get it. But the consumption of large amounts of radishes can irritate the digestive tract. Eating these root vegetables, which are classified as a goitrogenic food, also can aggravate a thyroid condition.

3. Spaghetti squash

Often touted as a low-carb, low-calorie replacement for pasta, spaghetti squash gets its name because its flesh separates into spaghetti-like strands after cooking. Although it does contain a fair amount of fiber, spaghetti squash offers little in terms of nutritional value.

2. White (button) mushrooms

Mushrooms of all types have tough cell walls that make them practically indigestible if you do not cook them.

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Common button mushrooms offer little nutritional benefit, although, yes, they can be quite tasty!

1. Onion

The 7 LEAST Healthy Vegetables You Can Plant (No. 6 Is Found In Lots Of Food)

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Onions are part of the allium family, a genus of bulbous plants (including garlic, shallots, leeks and chives) that produce chemical compounds that have distinctive taste and smell and that often irritate the human body. (If you cry when you slice onions, this is the reason.)

Many people experience gassiness and bloating after eating raw onions.

Final Thought

Keep in mind that each of these so-called unhealthy vegetables also contains some beneficial nutrients. In most cases, there is no need to eliminate them from your diet, but this year you may want to plant more nutritious veggies in your garden.

Related:

The 7 Healthiest Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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

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

The 7 Healthiest Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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The 7 Most Nutritionally-Dense Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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If you are looking to become more self-sufficient while boosting your nutrition at the same time, there is no better choice than with a home vegetable garden.

Homegrown veggies are superior to store-bought veggies in terms of freshness, taste and nutrition. When you add in their lower cost, and the pride you feel in growing your own food, it is a no-brainer. Plus, many veggies are easy to grow and do not require large amounts of space.

It makes sense that fresh-picked vegetables taste better than store-bought veggies, but why are they more nutritious? It has to do with that freshness. Supermarket produce usually has traveled many miles over a period of a few days to even a few weeks to get to your store. That long trip from farm to table allows nutritional content to degrade, especially if the vegetables have been exposed to heat. According to nutritionists, temperature is the top factor in keeping fruits and vegetables in the best condition.

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

The 7 Most Nutritionally-Dense Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This YearIf you are looking to pack the biggest nutritional punch that you can with your garden this year, here is a list of seven veggies – based on government nutritional data (see chart) — that are the healthiest you can grow.

1. Kale – You’ve probably read about all the health benefits of this superfood, but did you know it was easy to grow, too? It likes sunny, cool conditions of the spring and fall and soil that has a neutral to slightly alkaline pH.

Kale leaves are rich in fiber, iron, vitamins A, K and C, and new studies link kale to lowered LDL (bad cholesterol) levels. Add it to salads, soups and stews for its hearty taste and nutrition.

2. Spinach – This super healthy vegetable does well in spring, fall and even winter in some locations. Leaves will turn bitter tasting, so it is a good idea to harvest them promptly.

Spinach contains the antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin that are good for eye health and for digestion. Spinach also is high in iron, calcium and vitamins A, B and C.

3. Collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens — You can mix these greens — which are rich in minerals, vitamins and antioxidants — or eat them separately. A Harvard University study concluded that people who regularly consume dark green, leafy vegetables are about 30 percent less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Eating these greens may also protect against certain types of cancers, according to studies by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

These greens are hardy in the garden. They don’t need much space, and they can thrive in partial sunlight.

The 7 Most Nutritionally-Dense Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden This Year

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4. Carrots – You probably grew up hearing that eating carrots was good for your eyes. It’s true. Carrots are loaded with beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A that gives carrots their orange color and helps the retina and other parts of the eye to remain healthy. This root vegetable, which is at its most nutritious in its raw state, also is a good source of fiber, antioxidant agents, vitamins C, K and B8, folate, pantothenic acid, iron, potassium, manganese and copper. Bugs Bunny was definitely on to something!

Carrots grow best in the cool temperatures of early spring and late fall. They can do well in small spaces and do not mind a little shade.

5. Red bell pepper – High in nutrition and low in calories, red bell peppers taste great raw in salads or cooked in pasta dishes. One medium pepper can provide 150 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin C. At only 32 calories, that’s quite a boost. Red bell peppers also help combat atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

Red bells come in many different varieties. They prefer full sun and soil of at least 65 degrees that drains well. As the plants grow, you may need to stake them, depending on the size of the peppers you are growing.

6. Bok choy – One of my new go-to-favorites, bok choy (aka Chinese white cabbage) is loaded with more beta-carotene and vitamin A than any other type of cabbage. It also contains vitamins C and K, potassium, magnesium and manganese. Additionally, the Harvard School of Public Health calls bok choy a better source of calcium than dairy products.

The 7 Healthiest Vegetables You Can Plant In The Garden

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Bok choy is low in calories – one cup contains about 20 calories – yet its high fiber content will help you feel full. You can use bok choy in place of other cabbages or eat it raw.

Bok choy requires rich, loose soil, and it will need fertilization not long after planting.

7. Sweet Potatoes – Many nutritionists place sweet potatoes first in their list of healthy veggies. They contain high amounts of vitamins B6, C and D, iron and magnesium.

Unlike other types of potatoes, sweet potatoes prefer hot weather, so they grow best in the South. If you live in a colder climate, you can have success with raised beds with covers. Either way, sweet potatoes like sandy soil and plenty of sunshine.

According to 2015 research by the National Gardening Association, 35 percent of all American households are growing food either in a home garden or in a community garden. This percentage is an overall increase of 17 percent over the last five years.

Another advantage of growing your own vegetables is that you avoid the dangers of chemicals. When you plant and care for your own garden vegetables, you know exactly what has been sprayed – or has not sprayed – on them.

What are your favorite healthy vegetables? Share your advice in the section below:

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

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

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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.

The Weed-Free, Dirt-Free, Space-Saving Gardening Method You Just Gotta Try …

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Image source: Pixabay.com

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Straw bale gardening is simply what it sounds like: growing a garden in bales of straw. It offers many advantages that aren’t typically available in most in-ground traditional gardens, or even in some raised bed gardens.

Before we look at tips for straw bale gardening, let’s first take a look at its advantages:

1. You can grow in a variety of places where it isn’t practical to grow a traditional garden. A straw bale garden can be grown on permafrost, on concrete or even on rooftops!

This gardening method is also a great way to grow a garden when you first move into a new home but haven’t had the time or the resources to do any soil tests, add any soil amendments, or construct a wooden raised bed garden.

2. You don’t need garden space! The straw bales are essentially your raised bed, your growing medium, and your growing container all in one. This allows you to produce a very productive garden, even when you have very limited (or no) garden space.

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

3. You get an early start on the gardening season. Straw bale gardeners have the advantage of being able to plant their vegetable gardens several weeks earlier than a traditional in-ground garden. Not only do you not need to wait for the ground to thaw when planting in straw bales, but the process of preparing the bales warms up the growing medium, as microbes actively generate heat when they break down the organic matter in the bales.

Of course, you can cover your garden to protect it from any remaining spring frosts.

Image source: YouTube screen capture

Image source: YouTube screen capture

4. You can grow plants and produce rich compost at the same time. Because you are growing a garden in organic matter itself, you will get extremely rich compost at the end of the gardening season that you can then use for any future gardening activities.

5. You can safely garden even when you have poor or toxic soil. Because you are not growing directly in soil, you can grow a completely organic garden in straw bales without any concerns of lead or other toxins contaminating the food that you are growing. Straw bale gardens are ideal for urban landscapes, where the soils have been subject to a plethora of pollutants that can make growing a healthy in-ground garden challenging.

6. You can grow organically … easily. Unlike traditional in-ground gardens, it isn’t necessary to add all kinds of soil amendments to build good quality garden soil. You will have rich organic garden “soil” immediately after preparing the bales. A straw bale garden is an ideal method for brand new gardeners to learn basic gardening processes with reduced weeding and watering needs.

7. You can garden in 3D! You can grow plants on the top, ends, and on the sides of your bales, maximizing available garden space. You don’t generally have this advantage when growing in the ground or even in a traditional raised bed garden.

8. You can pick your garden’s shape! You can arrange your straw bales for your garden in a variety of shapes, such as a horseshoe shape or a keyhole bed shape to allow for easy access for planting, maintenance and harvesting.

9. You can garden with no weeding! Growing a garden in straw bales is like having fresh and clean new potting soil without any weed seeds present. This dramatically reduces opportunities for weeds to grow in your garden, eliminating most of the maintenance work for gardening!

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

10. You reduce the need to bend over when you garden. Because of the raised bed nature of straw bale gardens, you won’t need to bend over nearly as much to tend to your garden, compared to when you garden in the ground.

11. You reduce the need to water. Straw soaks up water, reducing the amount of watering that your garden should require throughout the season.

12. You can grow both transplants and seeds. However, you will need to add potting soil first when planting seeds in your straw bales.

Straw Bale Gardening Tips

1. Make sure that you grow a straw bale garden using straw, not hay, as hay contains many seeds that will sprout in your garden.

2. Attend a workshop, read a book or watch videos about how to grow a straw bale garden. This information will help you to properly prepare the bales for planting and how to maintain them throughout the growing season. Highly recommended is the Straw Bale Gardens book by author Joel Karsten. Also be sure to check out the official Straw Bale Gardens website for more information!

3. Preparation of the bales takes approximately two weeks before you can plant any transplants or seeds in the bales. It involves soaking bales with water and adding nitrogen. Watch the video below for details:

 

4. During the initial two-week stage of bale preparation, you may have mushrooms that start growing out of your straw bales. While this is an excellent sign that the organic materials in the bales are breaking down properly and will be very healthy for your garden plants, there may be a temporary odor associated with your straw bale garden. Keep this in mind when deciding where to set up your garden.

Have you ever gardened using straw bales? What advice would you add? Share it 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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9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

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9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Are you planning your spring and summer garden? This year, plan to make room for vegetables that will remain fresh for months after harvesting.

By making some simple choices, you can increase the amount of food you can store and decrease the amount of food you throw away because of spoilage. For example, spinach can wilt within days, but cabbage can stay fresh for months.

Here are some of the best vegetables you can plant for long-term storage as well as a few tips for keeping them at their best.

1. Beets – When stored in the fridge, beets can stay fresh for two to four months. Be sure to trim off the top greens before storage for best results.

2. Cabbage – Many lettuces do not last long after harvest, but cabbage can last up to two months in your refrigerator. Wrap it in plastic for best results.

Need The Best Non-GMO Seeds For Your Garden? Click Here!

3. Carrots – If you keep your carrots dry, then they will keep fresh in your refrigerator’s vegetable crisper for three to four weeks (or more). Avoid storing them in a plastic bag, since moisture can be retained in the bag, accelerating rotting.

9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

Image source: Pixabay.com

4. Celery — Did you know you could keep celery fresh for two weeks in the refrigerator if you wrap it tightly in aluminum foil?

On the other hand, celeriac, the root of celery plants, likes moisture. You can store it wrapped in plastic on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Try placing your root in a dish of water on your kitchen windowsill, and it will regrow new celery stalks.

5. Garlic – Garlic bulbs will last for three to five months when stored in a cool, ventilated area. You also can store garlic in the fridge for months. Place it in a paper bag for best results. Keep in mind that refrigerated garlic will sprout within a few days of being brought to room temperature, so take out only what you need.

6. Onions – Onions are great for long-term storage. If you place them in a dry area that stays between 30 and 50 degrees, they can keep fresh for up to 12 months.

If you do not have a spot like that or if you need them in a handier location, you can store onions in a dark cabinet in a mesh bag for about a month.

7. Potatoes – If you have a basement or cellar that stays cool, consider storing your potatoes there. Potatoes will stay fresh for several months in a low-light area that keeps a temperature of about 40 degrees.

Keep your potatoes away from onions and applies; otherwise, your potatoes will ripen too fast and rot. Also, don’t store potatoes in the refrigerator. Refrigeration can change the color and taste of potatoes.

This New All-Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

Sweet potatoes also prefer a cool, dark area. They will keep for about a month if stored in a loose bag.

9 Long-Lasting Vegetables That Will Stay Fresh For MONTHS After Harvest

Rutabaga. Image source: Pixabay.com

8. Rutabaga –Rutabagas can stay fresh for up to a month in your refrigerator. Just as you do with celeriac, store them wrapped in plastic on a low shelf in your fridge.

9. Squash –– Pumpkins, butternut squash and other squash varieties, including pumpkin, will last between two and six months when stored in a dark, dry environment. A temperature in the low to mid-50s is ideal, and make sure there is some room between the vegetables for ventilation when they are stored.

In addition to planting more long-lasting veggies, it is a good idea to keep longevity in mind when you shop for groceries. According to research from the Natural Resources Defense Council, just 48 percent of the produce produced in the U.S. is actually eaten. The rest heads to the trash, where it ends up in landfills or compost piles. That food waste calculates to $2,275 each year for a family of four.

Here are some general basics to keep in mind for long-term storage:

  • Dark, dry and well-ventilated areas work best.
  • Storage bins should be sturdy and easy to wash and to dry.
  • Wire bins can bruise fruits and veggies.
  • Check on produce frequently so you can notice ripening or rotting right away.
  • Avoid plastic bags for non-refrigerated food as they can retain moisture and accelerate rotting.

What vegetables would you add to this list? What are your best storage tips? Share your ideas in the section below:

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

4 Frost-Hardy, Early Spring Vegetables You Can Plant In The Ground Right Now

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4 Frost-Hardy, Early Spring Vegetables You Can Plant In The Ground Right Now

Lettuce. Image source: Pixabay.com

 

While it may be a few weeks for much of the country before we can plant any warm-season crops like tomatoes, beans and peppers, we can start planning cool-season crops right now.

Cool-season crops are those plants that can take a bit of frost and don’t do well in hot weather. These plants are typically done growing by June, just when the warm-season crops are beginning to take off. Examples of cool-season crops include lettuce, broccoli, radishes, turnips, carrots and onions.

For these cool-season crops, you should plant them as soon as the soil is workable.

1. Chives. This plant is a perennial herb that can be harvested as soon as the leaves appear in early spring. The leaves impart the classic chives flavor, but the edible late spring blooms taste more like onions. Chives do well in containers and also in perennial garden beds.

Plants can be propagated by seed or by division, and planted 8-12 inches apart. They are great for attracting birds and bees, are deer resistant, and make a great low-maintenance garden plant.

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

Culinary uses for chives include salads, used in egg dishes, as a garnish in cream soups, and, of course, on baked potatoes.

2. Spinach. Spinach is packed with essential nutrients like iron, calcium, protein and beta-carotene.

4 Frost-Hardy, Early Spring Vegetables You Can Plant In The Ground Right Now

Spinach. Image source: Pixabay.com

Spinach is easy to grow, and if you place it in shade, you may be able to keep it growing throughout the summer months. Where winters aren’t very harsh, spinach can be grown in late fall to allow for harvesting early in the spring, and it can also be overwintered in a cold frame. It can be grown both in partial sun and in full sun.

The small baby leaves can be harvested for salads 20-30 days after sowing, and the larger leaves can continue to be harvested until the hot weather leads to bolting. The larger leaves are quite tasty when briefly sautéed in olive oil and garlic. Whole spinach plants can be harvested 25-50 days after seeding.

Propagate spinach by direct seeding as soon as the soil is workable, about 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost date.

3. Lettuce. Lettuce comes in a wide variety of colors, shapes and flavors, and if you start growing your own, you’ll likely develop your favorites. Growing your own lettuce produces much fresher and tastier lettuce than you typically can purchase in grocery stores. Lettuce is a plant that really does best in cool weather, and one that bolts and tastes bitter when it gets too hot. You can find a number of more heat-tolerant varieties on the market. It also grows successfully in containers, as it does not require much space to grow.

Directly seed lettuce seeds as soon as the soil can be worked, at spaces of 2-12 inches apart, depending on the variety. Harvest can be extended by seeding every three weeks until late spring, and then again in late summer for a fall harvest.

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Warning: Some lettuce varieties cannot tolerate hard frosts. Choose your varieties wisely. Romaine can tolerate a light frost but not a hard one.

4. Kale. A nutritional power green, kale seems to be all the rage these days. Kale bestows many health benefits to those who consume it, including iron, vitamin K, antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids, vitamin C, beta-carotene, calcium and anti-inflammatory properties. Kale can be used as a garnish and added to salads, stir-fries, steamed vegetable dishes, soups and stews. The flavor and the color of kale are improved when the weather is cool and frosty.

Kale can be propagated from seed and grown in partial sun or in full sun. Be sure to plant kale plants at least 12-36 inches apart from one another.

Baby kale greens can be picked 20-30 days after seeding, and the mature leaves can be harvested 30-40 days later. Individual leaves can be selectively harvested and the plant will continue to produce more of them. Older leaves can be cooked and used in recipes.

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.

9 Perennial Vegetables You Can Plant Once, Harvest Forever … And Never Worry About Again

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9 Perennial Vegetables You Can Plant Once, Harvest Forever … And Never Worry About Again

Wild onion. Image source: Pixabay.com

 

Most gardeners are familiar with annual vegetables. These are the one you plant every year, reaping their harvest all season long until the first hard frost comes in the late fall. Many flower gardeners, on the other hand, are familiar with perennial flowers. These are the plants that you plant once and that will continue to return year after year. Lesser known to both vegetable and flower gardeners, though, are the perennial vegetables! After becoming established in your garden or landscape, these plants will continue to produce an edible return, year after year.

Aside from decreasing the amount of work in the garden, there are many reasons to plant perennial vegetables. Once established, perennial vegetables literally take care of themselves. Established perennials are usually more resistant to pests and diseases, making them much more reliant producers. Additionally, perennial vegetables extend the harvest window. Since previously planted perennial vegetables are already established at the beginning of the growing season, they are usually well on their way to harvest when you are just getting around to planting the annual vegetables in the spring.

Perennial vegetables can also serve multiple purposes. Many perennial vegetables are also beautiful, serving as an ornamental plant for your landscape. Some perennial vegetables can act as a hedge or groundcover, while others can provide shade and habitat for insects and pollinators. A few perennial vegetables can actually enhance the health of the soil for themselves and surrounding plants, increasing the health of your garden as a whole.

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While the benefits of perennial vegetable are certainly something to be celebrated, there are a few considerations to keep in mind prior to planting. Some of the perennial vegetables are slow to establish and may take a few years before they produce a significant yield. With that being said, once established, perennial vegetables can quickly spread and take over a garden area. It is important to thoughtfully consider where you are planting perennial vegetables and to maintain a regular harvest schedule. Additionally, perennial vegetables do tend to have a stronger flavor than many of the annual vegetables we usually enjoy. While this may indicate that they pack a nutritional punch, it may take your taste buds awhile to adjust.

The following is a list of some perennial vegetables that will enhance your garden and provide an edible output year after year.

9 Perennial Vegetables You Can Plant Once, Harvest Forever … And Never Worry About Again

Asparagus. Image source: Pixabay.com

1. Asparagus. Asparagus is probably one of the most well-known perennial vegetables. It takes a few years until it begins producing at its best, but once established you will be enjoying a plethora of fresh shoots every spring. Although it is possible to start asparagus from seed, you can speed up the harvest timeline by planting asparagus crowns.

2. Rhubarb. Although most people know of rhubarb in pie form, it is in fact a perennial vegetable with beautiful leaves (although toxic to humans) and an edible stalk. Like asparagus, rhubarb is best planted from crowns and should be allowed to establish for a few years before harvesting.

3. Horseradish. This is a must-grow vegetable for those who love spice, sushi or mustard greens. The large underground root of the horseradish plant is the source of the strong, spicy flavor that has been known to clear sinuses. If you want to control the spread of this plant, it is important to harvest the entire root in the fall and only replant what you will need for the following year.

4. Sunchokes (Jerusulum Artichokes). Sunchokes are in the same family as sunflowers and are grown for their underground tuber. The plants have yellow flowers that attract beneficial insects to the garden. When cooked, they have a similar taste and consistency to a potato. Sunchokes are vigorous plants, spread quickly, and once planted in a location are difficult to eradicate.

5. Sorrel. Sorrel leaves are tart, lemon-flavored leaves that are delicious in soups and sauces. Sorrel tastes best in early spring and will become bitter in warmer weather. Sorrel grows similar to other garden greens and is not as vigorous of a spreader as other perennial vegetables.

6. Wild garlic. Plant a patch of wild garlic for the first fresh garlic taste of the season. Wild garlic looks and tastes similar to cultivated garlic and loves moist soil and lots of shade.

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

Both the leaves and bulbs are edible with a sharp garlic flavor when raw and a more mild onion flavor when cooked.

7. Scarlet runner beans. While most beans are known to be annuals, if you reside in zone 6 or above scarlet runner beans can be planted as a nitrogen-fixing perennial. As the name suggests, scarlet runner beans will vine and climb up any sunny trellis you provide. They can be eaten fresh like green beans, or allowed to mature and dry to be cooked later in soups and stews.

9 Perennial Vegetables You Can Plant Once, Harvest Forever … And Never Worry About Again

Image source: Pixabay.com

8. Alpine strawberries. Although not technically a vegetable, alpine strawberries are worth planting as a perennial fruit that also acts as a great groundcover. Similar to cultivated strawberries, alpine strawberries can be planted as crowns, and make a great edible addition to an otherwise ornamental garden. While not as productive as the cultivated variety, once ripe these berries are deliciously sweet garden treats.

9. Hops. While not typically considered a vegetable by many, hops are useful perennials to plant for a number of reasons. The young shoots can be cooked and eaten similar to asparagus, and the cones can be used for beer brewing and as an antibacterial addition to homemade soaps. Hops are a beautiful climber in the garden and exude a delightful smell as well.

What perennial 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.

4 Survival Recipes That Kept The Pioneers Alive On Their Westward Trek

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4 Survival Recipes That Kept The Pioneers Alive On Their Westward Trek

The pioneers’ recipes were not ones that came from being able to shop at a large grocery store, where you can buy virtually anything.

Their recipes – or “receipts” as they were called back then — were born out of necessity, having one pot and one skillet plus the need to use ALL of the leftovers from previous meals.

You see, when they set out in a wagon to cross the seemingly endless prairie, it was decision time. They had to decide what they were going to take with them and what they were going to leave behind.

They had to take all the tools to build a log cabin. They had to take all the hardware to build their cabins as well. They had to take nails, hinges, screws, wire and everything else. There was nowhere to just stop and buy it.

So, the wagon was packed to the brim. Every square inch was accounted for, and then some.

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Many had one or two cast iron pots and one or two skillets or frying pans — and that was it.

The recipes that were their favorites were ones that fed everyone, and were easy to make even if you were short a couple of different ingredients each time you made it.

Most of the time, they were cooking over an open flame. So, things that had gravy or liquids such as soups and stews were a favorite. The reason: the heat of open flame cooking is unpredictable. You had to be sure you didn’t burn the food. Oils were scarce. So, liquids, soups and gravies were far more tolerant of erratic heat sources, and they burned a lot less.

Ready to learn how to look like the pioneers? Here are a few of their favorite recipes that you can make in your cabin or modern-day homestead:

(Do remember, these recipes were their optimal recipe. Most of the time they were lacking one or more ingredients and therefore had to substitute or leave it out.)

1. Creamy Chicken Soup

  • 4 pounds of chicken (can be made with three pounds if need be).
  • 3 quarts of creek or well-temperature water (room temperature is find if you’re in a modern home).
  • 1 tablespoon salt.
  • 6 peppercorns (or 1/4 teaspoon of black or white pepper).
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped.
  • 2 cups whole milk (can be substituted with cream).
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon of butter (not needed if using cream).
  • 2 eggs beaten well.

Cut the cleaned, deboned chicken into bite-sized pieces.

4 Survival Recipes That Kept The Pioneers Alive On Their Westward TrekPut your chicken and the bones into your pot with your water and salt. Bring it to a boil and then slow boil it until the chicken is tender.

Remove the chicken bones and use them for bone meal, dog food, compost and other uses.

Add in your peppercorns and onions. Let it slow boil for 10 minutes.

Put your milk or cream and cornstarch into another pot or skillet. Let it come to a slow boil and stir until it’s nice and thick. Add your butter if you’re using it, and season it to taste with whatever you have (that’s really how they did it).

Slowly add your well-beaten eggs into the milk and cornstarch. Stir until mixed and smooth.

Pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup kettle and stir until it’s well-mixed. Then, stir and cook for two more minutes and serve.

2. Fat Pork and Mormon Gravy

The settlers very often made what’s called Mormon gravy, named after Mormon missionaries who made it as a staple.

It’s simple and yes, it’s a heart attack waiting to happen. But, man, oh man, does it taste good.

  • 8-10 thick slices of fatty pork or thick cut bacon strips.
  • 6 tablespoons of meat drippings.
  • 4 tablespoons of flour.
  • 2 cups of whole milk.
  • Salt and pepper.

Cook your meat in a cast iron (preferably) frying pan until crisp on both sides.

Measure out your six tablespoons of drippings from the drippings in the pan, and pour the rest in your drippings saver container for other foods later.

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With your measured drippings, stir in your flour and milk, and keep stirring until it’s thick and smooth.

Serve your meat with the gravy poured over it or over the top of biscuits or bread.

3. English Whirligig

This was traditionally made with black currents. However, it can be made with nearly any tart berries or even fruit such as cranberries or sour apples.

  • 2/3 cup of honey.
  • 2 tablespoons of flour.
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of grated nutmeg.
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
  • 1 cup of hot water.
  • 3 cups of black currants (you may substitute other tart berries or fruits).

Add your honey, flour, spices and your salt into your hot water. Stir until they are all well dissolved. Then cook this mixture until thick. Be sure to stir often.

Put your currents in a frying pan and cover it with the thick mixture. Cook it on a rack above the coals for 20 minutes.

Let cool so that it is nice and firm. Then dish it up.

4 Survival Recipes That Kept The Pioneers Alive On Their Westward TrekThe pioneers would sometimes make a topping for this of whipped cream if it was a birthday or holiday. However, most of the time they ate it as described above.

4. Potato Pancakes

There are a number of recipes around for these. But this is the true settlers/pioneers recipe as it was brought over by a settler from Austria who became rather famous for them in what would later become Kansas City, Missouri.

  • 6 large potatoes.
  • 2 teaspoons salt.
  • 3/4 cups of whole milk.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 1 cup of flour.
  • Lard that has been pre-strained of any pieces.

If you want them with the skins on the potatoes as most pioneers ate them, then wash them and grate them to a medium-sized shredding. If you want them skinless, peel them and grate them.

Mix them with your salt, eggs, milk and flour.

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Spoon the mix into the hot lard in a frying pan. They will flatten out by themselves. If not, flatten them a bit.

Fry until they are golden brown on both sides.

Final Thoughts

Much of the time, the pioneers didn’t have the luxury of eating what they wanted when they wanted it. They ate what they had.

If a family had a ton of blackberries nearby, then they would have several blackberry recipes they would use all the time. The same would go with any food that was plentiful, whether it was deer, carrots or cherries.

Each of the above recipes were favorites that the pioneers brought over with them from their old countries. They had to adapt them to what was available. But, they stayed as true to them as possible.

We certainly hope you enjoy them.

Have you ever cooked any survival recipes? What advice would you add? Share it in the section below:

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

6 Ways To Double Your Garden’s Yield This Year, With Barbara Damrosch

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Spring is finally here in North America, and for most homesteaders and off-gridders, that means it’s time to plant another garden.

But before you pull out the shovel and hoe this year, why not do something different – something that even can double your garden’s production?

That’s the topic of this week’s episode of Off The Grid Radio, as we talk to gardening expert Barbara Damrosch, who tells us six ways you can double your garden’s yield this year – six simple ways that that are easy to implement.

Damrosch is the author or co-author of “The Garden Primer” and the “The Four Season Farm Gardener’s Cookbook, as well as a weekly gardening column for The Washington Post. She also is co-owner, with her husband Eliot Coleman, of Four Season Farm, an experimental market garden in Harborside, Maine.

Damrosch tells us:

  • Which vegetables she considers most productive.
  • How succession planting can bump up the yield – if it’s used correctly.
  • Why she likes “interplanting” but isn’t a fan of companion planting.
  • How she grows more vegetables in the space she has, without adding rows.

Finally, Damrosch shares with us details about Four Season Farm, which has proven that vegetables can be grown in a cold climate, all-year long. If you’re wanting new ideas for your garden this year, then this show is for you!

If Your Garden Was A Disease-Filled Dud Last Year, Here’s What You May Have Done Wrong

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If Your Garden Was A Disease-Filled Dud Last Year, Here's What You May Have Done Wrong

Everyone loves variety, and this is true even in vegetable gardening. In fact, variety in your garden could be the secret to a more bountiful harvest this year.

One way of adding variety is by rotating your crops. Most gardeners will swear by crop rotation, and there are many benefits to it.

Rotating your crops is a method of changing the location of vegetables and other plants from one season to the next.

Why Rotate Your Crops?

There are several very good reasons to rotate your crops in a traditional vegetable garden:

1. Prevents disease. By rotating your crops, you will be limiting the buildup of any disease in the soil, preventing issues lasting from one year’s growing season to the next. For example, say you had issues with blight in your tomatoes last year. This year, you’ll want to move them to a different location in the garden. You then will plant a different crop that is not susceptible to that particular disease in the location where your tomatoes were last year.

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2. Controls pests and insects. Infestations of insects are less likely to occur when using a rotation practice, because the favorite plants of the pests are continually being moved to a different spot. Rotation keeps pests and insects moving so there will not be a build-up of bothersome bugs or other issues.

3. Keeps nutrients in the soil. Each vegetable crop takes and gives different nutrients. This rotating will keep the soil from getting depleted of certain vitamins and nutrients. There are plants such as beans and peas that can actually improve or enrich the soil; make sure you have a few of them included in the garden.

If Your Garden Was A Disease-Filled Dud Last Year, Here's What You May Have Done Wrong4. Prevents soil erosion. The different plants create soil structure. Productivity will go down after a season or two if there is no rotation. Rotation also reduces the need for heavy pesticides. Look for plants that naturally repel insects and pests and put them into the rotation plan.

Here’s How to Do it

Rotating in a small garden can prove to be a challenge due to space, but it can be done successfully.

Learn which vegetables grow well together and which are susceptible to the same diseases. Plant those together to limit any exposure or spread of disease.

Have a rotation plan. Mark which plants go in which section so you can keep track of where certain vegetables have already been — and where they should go next season. Having a plan will also help you choose the variety and amount of vegetables you will need.

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Some use a simple method called “the four-step system.” It is a handy and uncomplicated guideline to assist beginners, or any gardener, who are new to rotating garden crops. You simply divide your garden into four sections:

  • The first group should be a selection of leafy vegetables. This group includes lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and spinach.
  • The second group mostly includes several types of vegetables, many of them on vines. These are tomatoes, cucumbers, corn, peppers, squash and eggplant. Note: Do not plant tomatoes after potatoes as they are both prone to blight; if you leave infected potatoes in the ground over the winter, they can spread the disease to the tomato plants.
  • In the third group, you will should find the yummy root vegetables. These vegetables are carrots, turnips, radishes, beets and onions.
  • The fourth and final group of the four-step system includes crops that will enrich the soil with nutrients as well as create produce. Cover crops fit well into this section. Clover and alfalfa are just two good examples of cover crops with a purpose. Beans, peanuts and peas also fit into this fourth section. Beans have few pest issues and are very good to the soil.

You can make your garden rotation plan as detailed, or as simple, as you wish. There are countless ways to divide your garden, but in the end it needs to be a garden that works for you and your lifestyle.

Continue to dig up and turn under plant material that is no longer growing. This will provide the soil with even more nutrients. Even during rotation, you can still mulch and fertilize your vegetable garden when needed.

Well, now that you have more knowledge of garden crop rotation and its benefits, as well as a simple plan to start, you are well on your way to having a productive growing season. Now it’s time to grow!

What advice would you add on crop rotation? Share your tips in the section below:

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

10 Fast-Growing Spring Vegetables You Can Harvest In About 30 Days

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10 Fast-Growing Spring Vegetables You Can Harvest In About 30 Days

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We live in a day and age where instant gratification is the norm. Therefore, when it comes to gardening, sometimes we want and expect the same.  Unfortunately, as a general rule, you can’t speed up the natural world.  Plants live and die by the seasons, day length, sunlight and climate. That leaves us gardeners sowing seeds, planting plants and ultimately waiting in order to reap the rewards of our efforts.

Most vegetable gardeners know the great joy and excitement when they finally harvest and taste that first ripe tomato of the season. Fortunately, not all vegetables take so long to mature and produce a harvest. But if instant gratification is more your speed, try planting some of the following fast-growing vegetables in your garden this year. You’ll be eating fresh and tasty homegrown produce in no time!

1. Radishes. For the fastest-growing radishes you’ll want to stick with spring radishes. I’ve had great success with “French Breakfast” radishes in my own garden. These are seeded directly in the garden in the spring and take about a month to mature. You can even eat the tender radish sprouts in salads or on sandwiches if you need to thin your crop, or if just can’t wait the full month until the root is mature.

2. Turnips. Spring turnips have really taken off in popularity the past few years, and for good reason. They are tender and sweet and can be eaten cooked or raw. “Hakurei” and “Tokyo” turnips are two of my favorite varieties, both taking about a month to mature. Don’t forget about those turnip greens! They are delicious tossed into soup or sautéed in a bit of butter on the stove.

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3. Salad mix. Salad mix is a great option for fresh salads all spring and early summer long. If you are looking for the fastest producing mixes, choose those containing only leaf lettuce. With days to maturity right around one month, and the ability to harvest multiple times from one seeding, salad mix is a win-win choice!

10 Fast-Growing Spring Vegetables You Can Harvest In About 30 Days

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4. Kale and other leafy greens. When choosing quick-growing leafy greens, the options are many. Baby kale, Swiss chard and arugula are a few of my favorites. These are also crops that you can harvest and let regrow for multiple cuttings. Days to maturity depend on specific varieties, but tend to average around 40 days at their baby size. If you don’t get around to harvesting them when they are young, they are equally delicious fully grown.

5. Green onions. Many people would agree that no meal is complete without a touch of onion. Come spring, green onions are a go-to allium available fresh from the garden. If starting these from seed, you can seed about 10 seeds per transplant cell to make for easy harvest of a full bunch when the time comes. Beth red and green varieties are available, with days to maturity averaging about two months.

6. Snap peas. A favorite of many a spring gardener, snap peas taste as sweet as candy when harvested at their peak of freshness. In some climates, you can manage both a spring and fall crop, but they always seem to taste a bit sweeter in the spring. Most varieties will need trellising and will mature in about two month’s time.

7. Spinach. Spinach loves cold weather and can even be over-wintered in some locations. Sold in both smooth and savoyed leaf varieties, spinach takes about a month and a half to reach harvest size. This is another green that can be harvested multiple times from the same plant, and will continue to regrow until the temperatures get too hot.

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10 Fast-Growing Spring Vegetables You Can Harvest In About 30 Days

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8. Bush beans. Bush beans are a great season long garden choice, performing well in spring, summer and fall. “Provider” bush beans are my personal favorite for consistent and productive yields. Bush beans do not need trellising, but they do benefit from regular harvesting to maintain productivity. If you end up with more beans than you can eat, they are easy to freeze for future use. Days to maturity for bush bean varieties averages about a month and half.

9. Baby carrots. So much tastier than those found in the grocery store, baby carrots such as the variety “Napoli” take about a month and a half to reach maturity. Spring and fall carrots will taste the sweetest, and seed germination is much easier to achieve in cooler temperatures. With that being said, once germinated, carrots are able to grow all season long.

10. Pickling cucumbers. Not only are pickling cucumbers great for making pickles, but they are equally tasty sliced on sandwiches and into salads. Pickling cucumbers take about two months to reach maturity, and prefer slightly warmer soil temperatures, making them great for summer-long harvests. Many pickling cucumbers do not require cross-pollination, making them great options for balconies and greenhouses.

It’s obvious from the above list that options abound for quick-growing garden vegetables. While there’s nothing tastier than waiting for the first taste of a vine-ripened summer tomato, with proper seed and transplant selection, you can be feasting from your garden in virtually no time!

What fast-growing vegetables would you add to this list? Do you have any other advice? Share your tips in the section below:

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

11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile

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11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile

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Stockpiling food can be expensive. But there is some good news for those of us on a tight budget – you don’t have to spend a fortune to be prepared.

You may not have all the food you want, but you’ll have food to keep your family alive. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

The most expensive part of any food stockpile is meat. While I’m a carnivore, I do recognize that I can survive without it. I also recognize that of all the types of food in our diet, meat might be the easiest to come up with in the wake of a disaster. You can hunt for meat, but last I checked, you can’t hunt for a loaf of bread.

With that in mind, here are my top foods for stockpiling, based on the nutritional bang you get for your buck:

1. Dry beans

On a worldwide basis, beans are one of the most common sources of protein. If you spend any time in Mexico, you’ll find that you get beans with pretty much every meal. That’s because beans pack a lot of nutrition into a small space, and there are a lot of different types of beans. They also store very well, if you can keep moisture and bugs away.

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11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile

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Maybe beans aren’t your family favorite; that’s OK. A lot can be done to doctor up the flavor of them, especially by using spices. Chili con carne and soup are both excellent places to hide your beans and actually get your family to eat them.

2. Rice

Rice is also a staple in many parts of the world. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Colombia, and rice is also typically served with every meal. Beans and rice are a common dish in many countries and territories, such as Puerto Rico.

As with any food, the more processed rice is, the more nutrition is lost. Brown rice can be mixed with just about anything and fried, making your own version of fried rice. But many survivalists prefer white rice because it stores longer.

3. Whole grains

We normally think of wheat when we think of grains, mostly because that’s what we usually use to make bread here in the U.S. But just about any type of grain can be used. When you buy some specialty breads, such as rye bread, you’re buying a bread that is made of a mixture of rye flour and wheat flour. When you buy “seven-grain bread,” it’s literally a mixture of seven different types of grains.

Having a stock of grains, especially a mixed stock, will allow you to experiment and break up the monotony of your diet. You’ll also have more nutritious bread, as wheat flour isn’t the most nutritious grain you can use.

You’re better off buying whole grain, rather than flour, as it will keep longer. Keep in mind, however, that if you buy whole grain you will need a mill to prepare it.

4. Cooking oil

In order to use those grains, you’re going to need to have cooking oil. Fortunately, it’s inexpensive unless you buy pure olive oil or something similar. Oil keeps well for prolonged periods of time as long as it is sealed. There is little risk of insects or bacterial forming in it.

5. Peanut butter

As an inexpensive source of protein, it’s hard to beat peanut butter. Besides, what American child hasn’t grown up eating peanut butter sandwiches? That makes it a good comfort food as well. Peanut butter keeps well, is inexpensive and provides a lot of nutrition – so stock up.

6. Pasta

Pasta, like rice, is a good source of carbohydrates. The nice thing about it is that there are so many different things you can do with it. Besides throwing some sauce on it and having spaghetti, pasta forms a good base ingredient for many types of soups and casseroles. You can mix pretty much anything with it and turn it into a tasty dish.

7. Bouillon

Bouillon is your basic dehydrated or freeze-dried soup stock. If you buy it in the grocery store, it’s rather expensive. But if you buy it packaged for use in restaurants, it’s very cheap. With bouillon and pasta to start, you can turn most any food into a flavorful pot of soup.

8. Salt

Salt is necessary for your health. While doctors talk about not eating too much salt (to avoid high blood pressure and other health issues), a lack of salt prevents your body from retaining enough water.

11 Dirt-Cheap, Easy-To-Store Foods That Should Be In Every Stockpile More than that, salt is the main preservative used for meat. If you happen to kill a deer or even a cow, you’re going to need to preserve a lot of the meat. Whether you decide to smoke it or dehydrate it, you’re going to need salt … and lots of it.

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Don’t buy your salt in the one-pound containers you see in the grocery store. Instead, buy it in 25-pound bags. You’ll get it for about one-eighth the cost per pound. Considering that you want to have a couple of hundred pounds of it on hand, that’s a nice savings.

9. Sugar

Sugar is more than a sweet treat. For example, it works as a preservative for fruits and helps bread dough rise so you can bake a nice, fluffy loaf.

Like salt, sugar will keep forever. The only problem is keeping moisture and ants out of it. Store it in a five-gallon, food-grade bucket and you should be able to keep it without any problem.

10. Powdered milk

Milk is one of nature’s most complete foods. It’s also needed for most baking. Unfortunately, in liquid form it doesn’t keep well and that’s why stockpiling powdered milk is wise. While powdered milk might not taste as good as regular milk, you’ll get used it and be glad to have it. Plus, powdered milk is very inexpensive.

11. Seeds

Admittedly, seeds really aren’t food. But they grow into food, and that makes them the best single food item you can stockpile. Eventually – no matter how many bags of beans, rice and other foods you stockpile – you are going to run out and will need to grow your own food. Stocking up on seeds is a great way to ensure your long-term survival.

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

Discover The Secret To Saving Thousands At The Grocery Store. Read More Here.

‘Miracle-Working’ Companion Plants That Will Make Your Vegetables Flourish

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'Miracle-Working' Companion Plants That Will Make Your Vegetables Flourish

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Are you thinking of planting a garden this year that includes more than just vegetables? Are you wanting to learn new ways to use less pesticides, less room, but gain more produce? One way to accomplish all of this is to plant companion plants around your vegetables. Let’s take a look.

Companion gardening is when you include different species of plants that benefit each other when grown together in your vegetable garden. They can be planted and grown side by side and have many uses. Companion plants are a way to maximize garden area, attract beneficial insects and wildlife, or simply repel pests.

Companion planting does very well in smaller spaces and is a very organic way to introduce variety to the soil. Companion planting eliminates any monoculture that many traditional gardens create. In other words, the plants do the work for you.

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If you want to add some variety to your garden, and some color, considering trying a few of the companion plants below.

1. Lovage. This tall plant is good to use as a wind-breaker or shade-provider. Vegetable plants tend to increase in flavor and health when planted near lovage. It does well by potatoes, root vegetables and peppers. Lovage can be used as a border plant or in patches.

2. Marigolds. These beautifully bright flowers repel aphids, beetles, potato bugs, squash bugs and nematodes. You can plant marigolds (make sure they have a scent) around any garden vegetable, with a huge list including: tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, cabbage, broccoli, peppers, melons and kale.

'Miracle-Working' Companion Plants That Will Make Your Vegetables Flourish

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3. Okra. Okra offers protection from wind and can also create partial shade during the summer. It works as a border plant when needed. Okra increases the oil in nearby herbs. Okra also offers some protection from aphids. For most benefits, plant okra beside cucumbers, peppers, melons and eggplant.

4. Buckwheat. Plant buckwheat around Brussels sprouts, broccoli and peppers. Buckwheat attracts bees and other pollinators. Once the season is over, Buckwheat is good to crunch up and use as mulch. It also works well as a lovely cover crop.

5. Geraniums. Besides adding color and variety to the vegetable garden, geraniums work to repel pests like spider mites, Japanese beetles and cabbage worms. Geraniums tend to do well near peppers, corn, cabbage, tomatoes and even grape vines. Geraniums last all summer long.

6. Marjoram. This is a low-growing herb. It doesn’t compete for space and is said to improve the flavor of vegetables around it. Marjoram, itself, is full of flavor and is wonderful when it is used in cooking.

7. Nasturtium. Great for repelling aphids, whiteflies, beetles and squash bugs, nasturtium is also beautiful and edible. Yes, that’s right, an edible flower that is sure to impress in summer salads! You can plant them around peppers, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, cabbage and fruit.

Companion Planting Tips

Avoid planting dill with carrots and tomatoes, and avoid putting beans near garlic, onions or chives. Fennel is a little fussy. It needs to be on its own, and away from other vegetables.

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Keep track of maturation rates. To keep weeds at bay, plant your vegetables and companion plants so there is continuous blooming. As one plant fades, another will be ready to take over.

It is best to plant taller companion plants by vegetables that enjoy a bit of shade. This way, the companion plants can block the sun for part of the day. Put the vegetables that love sun at the south end of the garden and tall plants at the north end, as this will help let each plant get the sunlight it needs. Herbs often make great companion plants, too, so you can mix them through the garden (remember: no dill near carrots). Chives, onions and garlic are great repellers, too (just don’t put them near beans). Marigolds (especially French) should be planted all over the garden to be the most beneficial to repel pests and attract any beneficial critters.

Here’s another question to keep in mind: Are you planting for insect control, weed control, increased nutrition for the plants, for plant protection or simply because of space? For weed control, any low-growing plants will help. If you are trying to repel insects, remember that most plants with strong smells will do a great job. Marigolds do well for this.

So, take a little time and check out your potential companion plants. By planning your garden with such a variety, you can be sure to have a healthy harvest this year.

What companion plants would you add to the list? Share your advice in the section below:

Every Spring, Gardeners Make This Avoidable 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.

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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

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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.