Comfrey: The Livestock Feeder, Soil Builder & Plant Disease Stopper

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Comfrey: The Livestock Feeder, Soil Builder & Plant Disease Stopper

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Comfrey (Symphytum spp.) is one of our most distinctive weeds, with its broad hairy leaves, tall flower stalks and deep taproots. It’s also one of the most persistent. Many varieties don’t spread by seed, but they do spread laterally in clumps. Their tough leaves effectively squash out competition. It’s practically impossible to pull their deep roots up in their entirety, and any fragment of root left in the ground is likely to regrow.

Fortunately, comfrey also has many useful properties for the homesteader, including its leaves being used as livestock feed, soil conditioners and preventers of plant disease. All these uses derive from the fact that comfrey’s deep taproots reach down into the subsoil and bring up minerals and nutrients to a level where they’re available to us.

Feeding Comfrey

Comfrey has been used traditionally as a feed for various kinds of livestock, including horses, cows, pigs, sheep, goats and poultry. Comfrey leaves, cut early before the plant flowers, are as protein-rich as clover and alfalfa, and their mineral-rich quality also provides many micronutrients that can improve animal health.

In recent years, studies have come out showing that comfrey contains compounds which may cause cancer or damage the liver. This has understandably left people worried about either taking it as an internal medicine themselves or feeding it to their livestock.

However, the studies that show these results have focused either on feeding comfrey as a very large percentage of the total diet or on taking a concentrated distillation of comfrey. Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy Goats (2010) also recommends comfrey as goat-safe, according to extensive anecdotal evidence rather than a formal study. I have heard from many homesteaders who offer comfrey to their animals along with a wide variety of other feeds; their animals eat it and show no ill-effects. This mostly matches my experience.

Comfrey: The Livestock Feeder, Soil Builder & Plant Disease Stopper

Image source: Pixabay.com

Some of our pigs have been enthusiastic eaters of comfrey, which is supposed to be an appetite stimulant for them as well as a nutritious feed. So have some of our goats and all of our chickens. We’ve never offered them comfrey only; it’s always been part of a wide range of options. We’ve offered comfrey to our rabbits, but they usually refuse to eat it. I have read that animals are more willing to eat comfrey after it has “wilted” for a day. This seems to work for some farmers; our animals either eat it fresh or don’t eat it at all. I have also read that comfrey can be dried and fed, but none of our animals have been willing to eat dried comfrey, although they’re happy to tear into dried burdock.

Comfrey for Soil-Building and Weed-Stopping

Comfrey’s high nutrient and mineral content also make it an excellent garden or orchard soil-builder, and so far this use remains non-controversial. Incorporated into your compost pile, comfrey leaves will break down quickly and add generous amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and other minerals. (For quicker breakdown, add the leaves under a layer of other wet materials so that they start to decompose quickly instead of air-drying.) Undecomposed comfrey leaves can be buried in planting holes along with seedlings to provide a quick localized nutrient boost.

Comfrey leaves also make good organic mulch. They’re broad, thick and tough, presenting a good barrier to weeds, and their high nutrient profile means they’ll enrich your bed as they break down. As with other green mulches, don’t pile them much more than an inch deep, lest they should rot and turn slimy. A British gardener reports that slugs are drawn to decomposing comfrey leaves, which distracts them from eating actual growing vegetable plants. I don’t have much of a slug problem, so I’ve had no chance to verify this.

Some sources suggest being selective about which plants you use fresh comfrey on. One specific website says that comfrey, because of its high potassium content, is especially beneficial for flowers, fruits and fruiting vegetables like tomatoes and cukes. Other sources recommend planting comfrey in orchards, partly for this reason (also, perhaps, partly because it outcompetes grass so effectively).

Leafy greens or root crops mulched with comfrey may go to seed prematurely. I think this must apply only to true root crops—carrots, parsnips, beets, etc.—and not to tuber crops. Some people bury comfrey leaves along with potatoes to reduce the incidence of scab. I have done this for the last two years and have had much less trouble with scab.

What’s your experience with comfrey—in your garden, your orchard, or the diets of your animals? Share your thoughts in the comment section below:

The Surprisingly Quiet Ammo That’s Often Misunderstood

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It’s The Misunderstood Ammo That Makes Less Noise

Along with the rising popularity of gun mufflers, usually called suppressors or silencers, has come an increased interest in subsonic ammunition. Often, though, there are more questions than answers.

This article seeks to inform the reader with basic knowledge of subsonic ammo.

Subsonic ammunition is ammunition made primarily for use with a suppressor. It also can be used in a handgun or rifle all by itself, unsuppressed, though weapon performance may not be the same as with regular ammo.

When compared to other cartridges within the same caliber, subsonic loads have a smaller powder charge inside the case, and are generally a heavier bullet. In extraordinarily simple terms, we can think in terms of the formula mass times velocity equals force. When velocity is decreased by having less powder, and therefore less gas to drive the bullet down the barrel, through the air, and into its target, a bullet of more mass compensates to a degree. For example, Atomic Ammunition’s subsonic load in .223 has a 75-grain bullet — not an extraordinary weight, but one associated with match rounds. An average .223 target match bullet weighs 55 grains.

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It is the moment a bullet leaves the barrel, and the explosion of gas that’s behind it, that creates the “bang” of a firearm. Subsonic ammunition, traveling at lower-than-normal velocity relative to the caliber, is quieter. It still, though, makes enough noise to necessitate hearing protection when used sans suppressor.

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In tandem with a suppressor, subsonic ammunition makes a hearing-safe pop, the kind you hear in the movies when the bad guy fires a gun with a silencer. Funny, isn’t it, how it’s always a bad guy in the movies? On the street, most criminals aren’t interested in making the effort to conceal these bulky attachments.

Why Use Subsonic?

Subsonic can be used when less noise and/or less recoil are desired. It’s a great choice for indoor or urban ranges. With a suppressor, it’s beneficial for hunting, especially when a landowner may want to eliminate more than a single varmint or pest animal. The minimal report is less scary to the rest of the herd. Some hunters claim the remaining animals may still spook, but since subsonic offers no muzzle flash and no directional bearing on sound, they actually may run in the hunter’s direction.

It’s also a good choice for teaching gun handling and marksmanship fundamentals to a new or very young shooter without the complication of recoil.

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Subsonic protects the irreplaceable asset of hearing. Quieter shooting is an asset not just for gun users, but also for non-shooting neighbors who are less likely to object to our hobby — at home as well as in the voting booth.

What Are the Downsides?

Some subsonic loads will, consistently or occasionally depending on the semi-auto firearm, fail to automatically cycle the action. This challenge is gradually being overcome as manufacturers fine-tune components. I found it to be quaintly enjoyable to hand-cycle my AR-15 while using subsonic.

A notable exception is the popular .300 AAC Blackout caliber, purpose-made for suppressed shooting. With a bolt carrier group and barrel change, it can be fired through the AR-15 platform. This widely available load offers the AR owner great versatility from one firearm, although many feel it’s unnecessary unless it’s used with a suppressor.

Subsonic ammunition is a bit less accurate at longer distances. The smaller doses of powder in subsonic loads can shift around within the case, producing less reliable flight. I experienced this in a 100-yard field trial of .308 caliber subsonic. In several three-shot groups, two rounds would be remarkably accurate; their impact holes touching. A third would be a modest flyer, three to five inches away from the others. It’s not a huge difference for most applications except where absolute precision is required.

According to Jerod Johnson, a company rep for Atomic Ammunition, subsonic rifle loads such as the .308 are rather ineffective beyond 300 yards, where velocity loss is rapid.

The price of subsonic is, like match ammunition, reflective of the specialized manufacturing process. Expect to spend double or more the price of FMJ.

If there’s no admonishment against subsonic ammunition in your firearm’s user manual, trying out a box of subsonic is an interesting experience, whether accompanied by a suppressor or not. Especially with centerfire calibers, there’s a surprising ease to firing powerful rounds, while getting sound and recoil that are closer to the rimfire range. Try some!

Have you ever used subsonic ammo? Share your thoughts on it in the section below:

Stinging Nettles: The Delicious Spring Edible ‘Weed’ That Is Easily Tamed

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Stinging Nettles: The Delicious Spring Edible ‘Weed’ That Is Easily Tamed

Image source: Pixabay.com

Stinging nettles are a common forest plant found in Northern regions around the globe. They prefer rich soil near the edges of streams, lakes, springs and other sources of cool, clean water. Although they can be a nuisance for any person tromping through the woods in shorts, stinging nettles are an incredibly versatile and important wild edible.

Most people in our society no longer view nettles as a plant of value, but for early homesteaders and Native f of the nettle was used for treating joint pain and inflammation. Clearly, stinging nettle is a plant with multiple purposes.

So how does one find, harvest and utilize nettles? First, it is important to properly identify this plant in the wild. Nettles are characterized by the following features:

  • Nettles grow in dense clusters or groves near water and begin to emerge shortly after snowmelt in the spring.
  • Young nettle leaves have a heart-shaped appearance and may exhibit a purplish tint.
  • Leaves are opposing in orientation along the stem, and range between two and five inches in length, with serrated edges and a pointed tip.
  • Veins of the nettle leaves are indented.
  • Nettles have small, glassy hairs on the underside of their leaves and along their stems.
  • At maturity, nettles can be more than five-feet tall.

Remember to collect nettles only from pristine environments, away from roads or any source of pollution and contamination. The tastiest portion of stinging nettles is the new leaves at the growing tip. Whenever possible, harvest nettles during the early part of the spring after they have first emerged from the soil. Look for plants that have eight leaves or less.

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Stinging Nettles: The Delicious Spring Edible ‘Weed’ That Is Easily Tamed

Image source: Pixabay.com

It is OK to harvest leaves from older plants, but they won’t be as tender or as sweet. To harvest nettles, it is best to wear a pair of gloves and a long-sleeved shirt. While holding the topmost leaf, clip the stem just below the first whorl of leaves, either with scissors or garden clippers. The stems tend to be fibrous. Avoid cutting too much stem material. In the case of more mature plants, you will want to strip the leaves away from the stem altogether. Nettles can be stored loosely in a plastic bag in the fridge for several days before use. To preserve the quality of the nettles, do not rinse until just prior to processing.

The sting of the nettle plant comes from a combination of formic acid, histamine and several other chemical compounds that the plant uses as a defense mechanism against browsing herbivores. The modified hairs on the underside of the leaves and along the stem are used to inject this stinging solution into the skin. Nettles will lose their ability to sting when they are properly prepared.

When you are ready to eat your nettles, blanch them in hot water for five minutes and drain. (The blanching water makes a great tea or can be used a base for a vegetable stock, so don’t throw it out). The nettles now have lost their “sting” and can be used in place of spinach for most recipes, including lasagna or pasta sauce. Use stinging nettles in place of basil for pesto (freeze any extra in small glass jars) or as the base for a creamy spring soup. If you have acccidentally over-harvested, try drying your extra stinging nettles in a food dehydrator. The dried nettles make an excellent tea and can be crumbled and used as a flavoring herb for soups and sauces during the winter months.

Regardless of how you use them, stinging nettles are sure to become a household favorite. Their sweet flavor practically screams “springtime.” As a homesteader, I can no longer imagine life without them as part of our pantry.

Do you harvest and eat nettles? Share your nettles tips in the section below:

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2 Simple Ways To Eliminate Garden Weeds This Year – By Working LESS!

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Believe it or not, if you really want to eliminate garden weeds, you need to stop working so hard! It may sound a bit odd, but many of the weeding problems faced by gardeners are a result of working the soil

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12 Edible & Beneficial Weeds Hiding In Your Yard

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merriweather

Spring is here, which means homeowners and homesteaders across the country are checking the blades and changing the oil on their mowers.

But before you cut the grass for the first time, make sure you aren’t mowing over beneficial weeds – that is, plants you can eat and even use for medicine.

That’s the subject of this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio, as we talk to Mark “Merriwether” Vorderbruggen, a foraging expert and the author of Idiot’s Guide: Foraging.

He shares with us 12 weeds we never should kill.

He also tells us:

  • The nine most common weeds that are edible.
  • The three well-known weeds that can be used as medicine.
  • The one non-edible weed you always want to destroy.

Finally, Merriwether gives us tips on how to find the weeds, and he shares precautions to ensure we don’t eat the wrong plant. He even tells us a few recipes! If you’re a resourceful homesteader or off-gridder who is ready for spring, then this is one show you don’t want to miss!

 

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.

3 Great Ways To Stop Weeds This Year Without Using Harsh Chemicals

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“How can I stop weeds without spraying everywhere?!” It is probably one of the most popular questions to our blog every spring, summer and fall. Weeds can ruin more than the just the look of your property. By robbing the

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3 Edible Fall Weeds That Are Super-Easy To Find (And Well Worth The Effort)

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3 Edible Fall Weeds That Are Super-Easy To Find (And Worth The Effort)

Watercress.

 

Autumn is here and vegetable gardening is winding down for the season, but there are no shortages for people who enjoy foraging for edible weeds. In fact, if you look close enough, you may find many nutrient-rich, flavorful weeds growing in your own back yard.

Edible weeds grow in abundance in most areas, and you may be surprised at how tasty they can be, but there are certain caveats to keep in mind before you toss those edible weeds into your salad bowl.

  • Never eat a wild plant unless you’re absolutely sure it’s safe. Many poisonous plants look dangerously similar to familiar, common plants. Although websites and books are a tremendous help, the safest course of action is to check with a native plant expert in your area. Most cities have local native plant societies, and members are usually glad to share their knowledge with newbies.
  • Even if you’ve identified a plant with the help of an expert, it pays to be careful, as experts are human and capable of making mistakes. Begin by sampling a tiny bit of the plant. If you have any type of reaction, think twice about eating more.
  • Never eat plants growing along roadways or other areas where herbicides have been sprayed. Similarly, forage for weeds from clean water sources — never from areas where water runs off from agricultural or industrial areas. Always wash the plant thoroughly.

Now that you know the basics of foraging safely, here are three delicious edible weeds to keep on your radar this autumn.

1. Watercress

Found in every corner of the United States and most areas of Canada nearly any time of year, watercress is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. Look for creeping and/or floating plants in shallow ponds and along creeks. To harvest watercress, twist the plant just above the water level. Don’t worry about picking the underwater part of the plant, which tends to be bitter and tough. Leave it in place so it can continue to grow.

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Watercress leaves consist of three to five small, oval-shaped leaflets, sometimes with a hint of red. Don’t confuse the plant with poisonous water hemlock, which is taller and has pointier leaves, often with a greenish-yellow tinge. Again, confirm your find with an expert.

It doesn’t take long to gather a basket of watercress, which you can use any number of ways. Salads are obvious (and delicious), but watercress also makes good pesto and adds flavor and nutrition when sprinkled on pizza, or added to soups and sandwiches.

2. Wood sorrel

3 Edible Fall Weeds That Are Super-Easy To Find (And Worth The Effort)

Wood sorrel. Image source: Pixabay.com

Nearly all parts of this little woodland plant are edible and ready to harvest from spring through autumn, including the heart-shaped leaves, flowers, seedpods, stems and roots. Also known as wild shamrock, wood sorrel is usually easy to find in shady, wooded areas. Although wood sorrel is easy to mistake for clover, this isn’t a dangerous foraging error because clover isn’t toxic.

Wood sorrel is good in salads, tossed into juice or smoothies or sautéed in a little butter or olive oil. If you’re adventurous, the roots taste a little like garden-variety potatoes. Discard the lower stems, which tend to be stringy and tough.

3. Garlic mustard

3 Edible Fall Weeds That Are Super-Easy To Find (And Worth The Effort)

Garlic mustard. Image source: Pixabay.com

Garlic mustard is an invasive weed that is unwelcome in the garden, but in spite of its annoying qualities, all parts of the plant are edible. While most parts are typically harvested in spring, the gnarled taproots can be used year-round. Garlic mustard is a real pain, so you’ll be doing a favor by removing as much as you can use, and then some.

This plant is easy to identify by its deeply scalloped, fan- or kidney-shaped leaves. If you aren’t sure what to do with the roots, keep in mind that they are very similar in flavor to horseradish, with a distinctive, pungent flavor – not a great surprise as both are members of the mustard family.

To make wild horseradish, begin by trimming the greens and tough, woody parts from the roots. Wash and dry the roots, and then grind them in a food processor until they are finely chopped. Blend the ground roots with a little apple cider vinegar and sea salt. For a change of pace, add a beet root, which imparts a bright color and a sweeter, less bitter flavor.

What are your favorite fall weeds to harvest? Share your advice in the section below:

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The Complete Guide to Controlling Weed Growth without Chemicals

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Whether you are just beginning or are already experienced at gardening, you have probably found out how annoying weeds can be in the garden. And, while the use of herbicides and other chemicals are slowly becoming popular, it is still important to keep in mind that they kill not just the weeds but also the soil. Certain chemicals can persist in soils for up to 20 years and that is something you would surely want to reach your food, right?

In addition, exposure to herbicides can also result to devastating effects to a person, if it is continued for a long time. Immediate side effects that one will experience can be as mild as rashes, nausea and headache but it can go towards the severe end such as seizures and even death.

So, how do you prevent those annoying weeds from growing out and competing with your plants for space and nutrients?

The answer depends heavily on the type of plants that you are growing in your garden. Basically though, the best and most recommended method would be hand pulling and using pre-emergent but there are also methods that you can use. It is also important to get to know each gardening tool a little bit more as they play a role in making sure that the weeding and cleaning process goes as smooth as possible.

You will have to remember though that taking out the weeds is not just a one-time session. In fact, you might expect to be doing the same thing during certain phases of your plant’s growth. It is also important that you know a few more prevention tips to help keep the weeds out for as long as possible.

So, avoid the herbicides and keep your plants, yourself and your family chemical-free. Surely, you wouldn’t want to stop and smell the roses – and inhale those nasty and toxic chemicals, right?

Lisa Farland is a content writer in Happy to Survive – a blog that will help you thrive and survive, and offers articles about preparedness, and off-the-grid, self-reliant living. Lisa is an avid minimalist camper, prepper and survivalist.

Effective Tips in Controlling Weed Growth – Minus the Chemicals!

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Effective Tips in Controlling Weed Growth – Minus the Chemicals!

Growing and enjoying the view of your beautiful plants can be a lot of fun until it is not. The fun certainly stops when it is already time to take out the weeds, which competes with your plants for space and nutrients from the soil in your garden.

So what does a budding gardener have to do?

Among the fastest way to get the seeds out is to use herbicides. However, despite their growing popularity, it is also important to remember that these things come with harmful toxic chemicals that hurt your plant, yourself, your family and the environment. Yes, what you do might not seem to have a huge impact to the world but it can add up if everyone who gardens basically does the same thing.

Some chemicals from herbicides can get trapped in certain types of soil for up to 20 years. What happens if you decide to plant something edible or if your little kids suddenly decide to play with the soil in your backyard? Scary, right?

You might also want to remember that some herbicides are sprayed and this could easily get into the air we breathe. Among the most common side effects to herbicide exposure include nausea, rashes and headache but they can also go as severe as seizures and even death. You wouldn’t want to risk that, would you?

Don’t worry – there is still a way to get those nasty weeds out. You can do so by manually pulling them out or doing certain tips and tricks that we have outlined in the helpful infographic below. You might also want to mix and match your gardening tools depending on your needs and preferences. Cool?

Just remember, different types of plants use different methods for getting the weeds out but they do have one thing in common: avoid the toxic chemicals.

Now your plants stay safe and so do you, your family and your garden. Happy weeding!

 

Weed Control

Weed Control

BIO

Lisa Farland is a content writer in Happy to Survive – a blog that will help you thrive and survive, and offers articles about preparedness, and off-the-grid, self-reliant living. Lisa is an avid minimalist camper, prepper and survivalist.

The post Effective Tips in Controlling Weed Growth – Minus the Chemicals! appeared first on Survival Punk.

7 ‘Miracle Healing Weeds’ That Are Growing In Your Yard (Got A Cold? Try No. 2)

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7 ‘Miracle Healing Weeds’ That Are Growing In Your Yard (Got A Cold? Try No. 2)

Mullein. Image source: Pixabay.com

Weeds are an absolute menace to most gardeners. They seem to grow 10 times as fast as the veggies you have planted, covering the entire garden and spoiling all of your plans.

But in hindsight, weeds have gotten a bad rap. In fact, the majority of the weeds you are killing are actually just as edible as the vegetables you are growing. If the weeds aren’t edible, they are likely medicinal. Think back a few centuries ago. Our ancestors lived off the land, and a lot of what they ate grew wild. They treated their illnesses, diseases, aches and pains with plants they found in the forest and on the prairie. Weeds are not all bad.

The following list includes seven weeds you should stop killing:

1. Dandelions. There isn’t a piece of land that the little yellow flowers doesn’t grow. Instead of hitting them with weed killer, pick them and eat them. The flowers and leaves are edible and are quite tasty raw or sautéed and tossed in a salad. Dandelion is rich in vitamin C, and the roots are packed with fiber, just in case you need to get things moving. It is a diuretic and can help cleanse the liver.

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2. Mullein. This is a monstrous plant that tends to grow along highways or in areas with lots of sun and a rocky soil. It is a nuisance, but it is also going to be a great way to treat a cold and bronchitis. Drying and chopping the leaves and using them to make a tea can relieve chest congestion. The little yellow flowers can be plucked and infused in oil to make a soothing ear drop for an ear infection. The leaves are incredibly soft and can be used as a toilet paper substitute.

3. Plantain. This common plant loves rocky, dry soil and pops up everywhere. It is your saving grace should you get a bee sting, cut or a burn. The leaves can be macerated a bit (some people will pop the leaves in their mouth and give a couple of good chews) and applied directly to the injury.

7 ‘Miracle Healing Weeds’ That Are Growing In Your Yard (Got A Cold? Try No. 2)

Purslane. Image source: Pixabay.com

4. Purslane. This one is an absolute monster and can spread out and choke out small shoots in the garden, but it is just as edible as the other plants you are trying to grow. The leaves are high in healthy Omega-3 fatty acid and are actually a very common ingredient in stir-fry recipes all around the world. It is also very high in calcium. In a post-apocalypse situation, purslane in the diet can make up for the lack of dairy and other calcium-rich foods.

5. Red clover. It covers the lawn in the height of summer and is often attacked with horrible chemicals. It is actually more of a purple, and not red, so don’t be fooled. Stop killing the red clover and start plucking it! Grind up the clover and put it on itchy skin rashes and eczema. Boil the flowers in water to use as a cough remedy. If you can get your hands on some red clover seeds, toss the seeds into your garden plot in the fall and use it as a cover crop.

Fast, All-Natural Pain Relief With No Nasty Side Effects!

7 ‘Miracle Healing Weeds’ That Are Growing In Your Yard (Got A Cold? Try No. 2)

Oxeye daisies. Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Oxeye daisies. These are common wildflowers that cover acres of prairies and along the highways. The pretty flowers are similar to the daisies planted in flower beds, but offer a little extra something with their medicinal properties. The flowers can be used to make a tea to cure asthma and chronic coughs. Grinding up the tiny leaves and applying to bruises, sprains and swollen joints is an old-fashioned folk remedy.

7. Yarrow. This is found growing along highways and in fields. A variety of yarrow is often purposely planted in flower beds, but it isn’t the same. You want the wild stuff. It is an excellent way to stop bleeding, which is going to be very important after a disaster. The root can be put directly on a toothache to help stop pain while drawing out any infection.

Next time, when you head out to your garden or look at your lawn covered with dandelions and red clover, smile — you just hit the jackpot.

What advice would you add on using these weeds? Share it 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.

Backyard Bounty: How To Eat The Wild Plants In Your Yard

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Weeding your garden may seem like a chore, but did you know that those weeds can offer a Backyard Bounty. Weeds are a fantastic addition to your diet. Those pesky dandelions can add some delicious notes to a salad! Plants like Miner’s lettuce, Purslane, and plantain are all just a few of the edible greens you may find springing up among your regularly-planted veggies, herbs, and fruits. The infographic below covers the basics of identifying, preparing, and consuming wild greens, along with which ones are safe to eat, and which ones to watch out for.

Backyard Bounty


Source: Fix.com Blog

The post Backyard Bounty: How To Eat The Wild Plants In Your Yard appeared first on Survival Punk.

5 Non-GMO Edible Plants In Your Back Yard

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5 Non-GMO Edible Plants In Your Back Yard Where is a good place to look for chemical-free and GMO-free fresh veggies this time of year? Your back yard is where! One of my favorte pages on FB is Willow Haven Outdoor and they posted a great article on 5 non gmo plants to eat in your …

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7 Edible Weeds Your Ancestors Ate (And We’re Not Talking Dandelions)

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7 Edible Weeds Your Ancestors Ate (And We’re Not Talking Dandelions)

 

Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of wild plants you shouldn’t eat, and some are downright poisonous. But surprisingly, there are quite a few weeds and wild flowers that are not only delicious but also nutritious — and growing in your backyard or surrounding fields.

What’s critical is knowing what they look like and what parts to eat. A good example is dandelion. The leaves, flower and roots are edible. The flower stalk is not.

Many of these wild plants have significant nutritional value on par with spinach and kale. They also present a variety of flavor profiles, from salty to sweet to citrus accents. Most are best combined with other ingredients, but some taste great on their own as a side dish or salad.

A common caution, in addition to accurate identification, is to avoid areas that may have been exposed to herbicides or other chemicals when harvesting. This often happens in many yards, roadsides, public parks and other places that appear to be “too manicured.” You may have to find a field or wild place to find some, but just as many are in your yard if you haven’t been too aggressive about “killing the weeds.”

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On that note, “weeds” is a prejudicial word. These are actually indigenous, wild plants – plants your great-grandparents and other ancestors ate. Those are plants that thrive in a certain part of the country and climate. Some have been imported over the years from various parts of the world, either intentionally or by accident, and others have been here a lot longer.

If I’m harvesting more than one kind of wild plant, I’ll often use one-gallon plastic bags so I can easily keep them separated. A mixed bag of wild plants may be a bit difficult to prepare or cook and eat because of the variety of types and uses.

You also should aggressively wash the plants in cold water with numerous rinses to clean off any dust, dirt, bugs or other stuff that have found their way onto the plant. A rinse in vinegar is not a bad idea to kill any bacteria, given that vinegar is a powerful and natural antiseptic.

Here’s the list, although it’s by no means all-inclusive. Various parts of North America present a broad variety of edible wild plants, but hopefully you’ll be able to find a few of these:

7 Edible Weeds Your Ancestors Ate (And We’re Not Talking Dandelions)

Red clover. Image source: Pixabay.com

1. Red clover. If you can’t find red clover in your yard or woods, you’re either living in the desert or high mountains. Red clover is just about everywhere, and the flowers are the primary food source — as a garnish for anything or in a soup or just a fresh snack. It has a mild flavor that is sometimes semi-sweet.

2. Wild garlic. This plant looks like a green onion and has light, purple flowers. If you crush the leaves, you’ll smell a distinctive garlic smell. That’s important because while the bulb will have a garlic smell, many other plants in the daffodil family have a garlic flavor-note in their bulbs — and they’re toxic. If the crushed green leaves don’t smell like garlic, ignore any garlic smell from the bulb. You can chop the leaves into a soup or salad or as part of a marinade or sauce, and you can also use the bulbs as garlic in any recipe.

7 Edible Weeds Your Ancestors Ate (And We’re Not Talking Dandelions)

Wood sorrel. Image source: Pixabay.com

3. Wood sorrel. The leaves, flower and tender stem when the flowers are first emerging can be used in mixed salads, flavorful pies like strawberry and rhubarb pies, and have been identified as a salt substitute by some sources.

4. Sweet goldenrod. No. It doesn’t make you

7 Edible Weeds Your Ancestors Ate (And We’re Not Talking Dandelions)

Goldenrod. Image source: Pixabay.com

sneeze. That’s a myth unless you’re hypersensitive to pollen from any plant. The flowers and young buds have a semi-sweet, licorice-like flavor. It makes a great tea and is often added to breads, pancake batter and muffins.

5. Wild ginger. This is all about the roots. The rest of the plant shouldn’t be eaten, because it’s flavorless and a bit toxic. The roots can be harvested year-round. Be careful. A variety of wild ginger known as Asarum Caudatum has toxic properties. Asarum Canadanese is the safe variety. It’s used any way you would use ginger, from grated to sliced and pickled, to candied in sugar, to dehydrated.

7 Edible Weeds Your Ancestors Ate (And We’re Not Talking Dandelions)

Lamb’s quarters. Image source: Pixabay.com

6. Lamb’s quarters. It’s commonly known as pigweed, and I have a ton of it in my backyard. It spreads like mint and the leaves are like spinach when boiled in water for three minutes and shocked in ice water. It’s a great three-season plant, from spring to fall. In the fall, the seeds are usually harvested and used in breads or as a garnish.

7. Wild grape leaves. This is my personal favorite, and I saved it for last. We have wild grape vines growing everywhere, and it’s not about the wild grapes but the leaves. There’s a classic Greek recipe called “Dolmades,” or in some cultures “Dolmas.” It involves rolling a mix of meat and rice with herbs and spices in grape leaves about the size of a stubby cigar. Here’s the full recipe in case you come across these wonderful and natural wraps:

Dolmades

Ingredients

40 to 50 large wild grape leaves

4 cups of vinegar

4 cups of water

½ cup of salt

Directions

Soak wild grape leaves in mixture of vinegar, water and salt overnight. Drain and rinse.

Filling ingredients

1 pound of ground meat. Could be beef, pork, game, squirrrel or possum

2 cups of rice. Could be white, brown or wild rice

2 tablespoons of chopped mint

1 tablespoon of salt

1 teaspoon of pepper

Directions

Brown the meat and cook the rice. Combine both with the spices. Let the mixture cool. Take the wild grape leaves and place a finger-sized piece of the mixture on a grape leaf and roll it up in the shape of a small, stubby cigar. Place the roll into a baking dish and continue until the dish is full. Add a half cup of broth (beef or chicken) to the baking dish and bake at 325 for 30 minutes. Remove to a platter and serve. You can top with a sauce if you like, including the classic Greek Avgelemono, but they also taste great a’natureal.

There are other plants, trees and flowers you can eat, but remember: If you’re not sure, just skip it. Many plants are poisonous, and just as many look the same. Hopefully you’ll find some of these good guys and enjoy them on your table someday. The best news is … they’re free!

What advice would you add on harvesting these seven weeds? Would you add anything to this list? Share your advice in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

I’m Going On Vacation – Is My Garden Doomed?

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I’m Going On Vacation – Is My Garden Doomed?

Image source: Pixabay.com

Summer is a time when backyard gardeners can enjoy the fruits of their labor, but it’s also a time when many of us enjoy going on vacation and seeing another part of the country or the world.

Unfortunately, gardening and vacationing are not the most compatible of activities. A garden requires care, and being away for a couple of weeks can mean coming back to a garden that is dried up, ravaged by pests or overrun with weeds.

Fortunately, having a healthy vegetable garden and taking some much deserved time off don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It does, however, require some planning ahead.

Plan and Care for Your Crops

If it’s early spring and you already know that you’ll be taking a two-week excursion in July, then you can plan your crops so that you won’t have too many vegetables maturing while you’re away. Although some plants do need to be planted in early spring, certain types of seeds, like carrots and beans, can be planted a little later. You can time them so that they’ll be maturing soon after you arrive back home.

Be sure to care for your crops and water them deeply early in the season. This will help a good, healthy root system get established, and you will have stronger plants that will be able to cope with less watering while you are away.

What About Watering?

Watering can be a challenge, especially if the summer happens to be a hot and dry one. Be sure to give your garden a good, deep watering before you go away, and use a mulch to help prevent evaporation. Consider placing long planks of wood between your vegetables after you water. This will help to ensure that the soil underneath them remains damp for as long as possible.

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It is not recommended that you use plastic, as you want your plants to be able to take advantage of any rainfall during your absence.

Watering devices also can help keep your plants hydrated. Local garden centers often sell beautiful glass globes that allow gradual watering, but a wine bottle works just as well if you’d rather save your money for your upcoming vacation! (Watch the video below.)

Story continues below video

 

A Little Support Goes a Long Way

Before you head off for your vacation, make sure that any plants that will need support are properly caged or staked. That little tomato plant may not look like much now, but you’d be amazed at how much it can shoot up in just a few weeks.

Early Harvest

If you have plants starting to bear fruit and vegetables before you go, it is advisable to do some early harvesting. Lighten the load of tomato and strawberry plants by picking early. Even if these are not fully ripe yet, it is better to let them ripen indoors (even in the fridge can work!) or give them to a friend or neighbor rather than leaving them outside to rot.

It is especially important to harvest plants like peas and zucchini – which if allowed to mature, will cause your plant to stop fruiting.

Greens such as lettuce are the most vulnerable when you’re away. You can try protecting these by setting up a shade barrier.

Garden With a Friend

Of course, the most ideal solution to caring for your garden while you are away is having a garden buddy. If you have a trusted friend or neighbor who is willing to help, consider yourself fortunate – but don’t assume their thumb is as green as yours. And don’t expect perfection.

Before you go away, take them on a tour of your garden and make sure they know what needs to be watered, and which plants are vegetables vs. weeds. Consider a bit of extra signage to help with their comfort level and be sure they know where to find things like gloves and hoses.

You should also let them know that they are welcome to any of the harvest that ripens while you are away. This will not only be a bonus for them, but it will help to keep your garden healthier, as well.

Finally, be sure to show your appreciation for their efforts. Consider bringing your garden buddy a small gift on your vacation and be ready to return the favor when the opportunity presents itself.

Bon Voyage!

Now that you have done everything you can to ensure that your garden is cared for, it is time to enjoy your vacation. While your vegetables may not get the same kind of attention that they would if you were home, they are not doomed.

You can go away knowing that your garden will still be there when you return.

What advice would you add for keeping a garden healthy while on vacation? Share it in the section below:

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

The Delicious Edible Weed That Doesn’t Get Bitter, Is Packed With Vitamins, And Grows EVERYWHERE

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The Edible Weed That Doesn’t Get Bitter, Is Packed With Vitamins, And Grows EVERYWHERE

Image source: Pixabay.com

 

We tend to take weeds for granted. We spray them, pull them out and either compost them or simply toss them in a field. Unfortunately, we’re often tossing away nature’s bounty.

We’ll pay a premium for spinach or kale but lose sight of the fact that many plants like dandelions, plantain and purslane have equal nutritional value.

In fact, purslane not only equals the nutritional value of spinach and kale, but it also has a semi-sweet, salty and succulent flavor. Dandelion leaves and plantain leaves can acquire a bit of bitterness once they begin to flower or go to seed. Purslane is different.

That’s because purslane is a succulent plant. It is related to the cactus and absorbs water, which gives it a refreshing taste and flavor. Unlike the cactus it has no needles and when chilled makes a great addition to a tossed, green salad and will stand up to the boil of a soup or broth.

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

Purslane is high in omega-3 fatty acids and contains vitamins A, B, and C, and magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. It’s also an excellent source of fiber.

Here are the official nutrition facts on a serving of purslane:

 

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 16 Kcal 1.5%
Carbohydrates 3.4 g 3%
Protein 1.30 g 2%
Total Fat 0.1 g 0.5%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Vitamins    
Folates 12 µg 3%
Niacin 0.480 mg 3%
Pantothenic acid 0.036 mg 1%
Pyridoxine 0.073 mg 5.5%
Riboflavin 0.112 mg 8.5%
Thiamin 0.047 mg 4%
Vitamin A 1320 IU 44%
Vitamin C 21 mg 35%
Electrolytes    
Sodium 45 mg 3%
Potassium 494 mg 10.5%
Minerals    
Calcium 65 mg 6.5%
Copper 0.113 mg 12.5%
Iron 1.99 mg 25%
Magnesium 68 mg 17%
Manganese 0.303 mg 13%
Phosphorus 44 mg 6%
Selenium 0.9 µg 2%
Zinc 0.17 mg 1.5%

 

Both the leaves and stems are edible, which also sets it apart from other “wild” weeds. I’ve even incorporated purslane leaves into deli salads like potato salad, egg salad and tuna salad to give a burst of freshness and flavor. You also can eat purslane on its own. It has a burst of flavor when chilled.

The Edible Weed That Doesn’t Get Bitter, Is Packed With Vitamins, And Grows EVERYWHERE

Image source: Wikipedia

Purslane grows close to the ground and needs to be washed and rinsed a couple of times. As a low-growing plant it tends to pick up a lot of dirt, dust and those ever-present bugs. Once you’ve washed and rinsed your purslane harvest, you can easily store it in the crisper in your refrigerator. It keeps fairly well in a plastic bag or tied into a bunch with a rubber band.

If you’ve never tried purslane, here are a few easy ways to enjoy it and some ideas about how to add it to many of the things you eat.

Purslane Salad

I usually toss a cup of chopped purslane into a chopped green salad and top it with an apple-cider vinaigrette of a ½-cup of oil, a cup of apple-cider vinegar and a tablespoon of water with about a half-teaspoon of salt and a half-teaspoon of pepper. You also can eat the purslane salad on its own if you can harvest enough of it.

Purslane Soup

Bring 4 cups of chicken broth to a boil and add a cup of noodles and when the noodles are done add a cup of chopped purslane leaves and stems for 2 minutes.

Bacon Fried Purslane

Fry 6 strips of bacon until crisp and then drain on paper towels. In the reserved drippings toss chopped purslane leaves and stems. Chop the bacon and top the purslane with the bacon bits.

Growing Purslane

Growing purslane is surprisingly easy. The seeds are simply cast on the top of dry soil, and they germinate quickly. Purslane cuttings of the stems also will develop roots when watered. It’s a tough plant and grows in the worst conditions, which is why it’s considered to be a weed by so many gardeners. But once you get to know purslane, your view of it surely will change.

What advice would you add on eating purslane? Share your tips in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

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

Image source: Pixabay.com

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.

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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.

3 Easy Ways To Cook Plantain, The Spinach-Like ‘Survival Weed’

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3 Ways To Cook Plantain, The Spinach-Like 'Survival Weed'

Image source: Pixabay.com

I grew up in Chicago and remember seeing plantain growing in yards and parkways along city streets. What always caught my eye were the slender seed stalks emerging from a nest of green leaves. I had no idea they were edible, but have harvested them frequently since then.

Both plantain leaves and the seedy stalks can be eaten, and they contain a surprising number of nutrients on a par with spinach and other leafy green vegetables like kale and collard greens. Plantains have healthy doses of vitamins K, A and C, in addition to iron and fiber.

Harvesting Plantain

Plantain leaves can be easily snipped from the plants with a pair of scissors. The leaf stems are actually a bit fibrous, so cut close to the base of the leaf. The leaves are best when harvested before the tall 4- to 6-inch seed stalk emerges. Much like dandelions, the leaves of plantain become a bit bitter once the seed stalks emerge.

The seed stalks also can be eaten, and there are a few ways of preparing both the leaves and the stalks.

Cooking Plantain

A general rule of thumb for cooking plantain is to immerse the leaves or the stems in boiling water for 4 minutes, and then immediately immerse them into a bowl of ice water. This will shock the leaves or stems to stop the cooking process and fix their deep, green color. When plantains are overcooked they tend to disintegrate, so stay close to the 4-minute rule.

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

This initial boiling step will not only tenderize the plant but will help to dilute any bitterness in the more mature leaves. Once you have done this initial step you can go into a variety of directions with further preparation and recipes. It’s not absolutely necessary to do this blanching step. Young, tender leaves can be washed and tossed into a green salad, served with any dressing you prefer.

3 Ways To Cook Plantain, The Spinach-Like 'Survival Weed'

Image source: Wikipedia

Here are three recipes:

1. Sautéing Plantain

I’ll often follow the blanching step in the boiling water with a quick sauté. I’ll drain the plantains and then drop a couple of tablespoons of butter or olive oil in the pan, and toss the plantains around over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes. They make a great side dish, and you can top them with anything from pine nuts to bacon bits.

The seed stalks can be sautéed the same way, and when stacked on a plate have the appearance and a bit of the flavor profile of asparagus. The seeds also can be stripped from the stalks and used as a garnish on everything from salads to mashed potatoes.

2. Plantain Soup

In its simplest form, plantain soup includes strips of plantain leaves boiled in a broth for 4 minutes. I’ll usually add two cup of plantain leaves cut into julienne strips about a 1/4-inch wide and bring 4 cups of chicken broth or beef broth to a boil before adding the plantain leaves. You can add other ingredients to the broth, from noodles to vegetables or even chunks of chicken or strips of beef or venison. Add the noodles or meat or other vegetables to the pot first, and add the plantains to the broth 5 minutes later and cook for an additional 4 minutes.

3. Plantain ‘Goma Ae’

I lived and worked in Asia for two years and spent about 4 months living in Japan. It was there that I first encountered Goma Ae. It’s basically boiled spinach that is squeezed dry after boiling and then tossed in a mixture of sesame seed oil and soy sauce before being shaped into a cube about the size of an ice cube. It’s then sprinkled with a little more sauce and sesame seeds and served cold.

To make the plantain version of Goma Ae, take 2 cups of plantain leaves and boil them in water for 4 minutes. Shock the leaves in ice water and then squeeze out as much water as you can. Mix 2 tablespoons of sesame seed oil with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and toss the leaves in the sauce. Form the leaves into cubes with your fingers; you should get about 4 cubes in total from 2 cups of leaves. Drizzle any remaining sauce over each and sprinkle with sesame seeds. This is the plantain recipe I make most often, and it goes great with any meal. If you want more cubes just double or triple the recipe.

How do you eat plantain? Do you have any other advice? Share your tips in the section below:

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

7 Quick Garden Tips To Keep Your Garden Beautiful This Summer!

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We have all been there. One day, its late Spring and the garden is growing beautifully – and in the blink of an eye – summer rolls in and it all becomes a tangled jungle of weeds & bugs!  But

The post 7 Quick Garden Tips To Keep Your Garden Beautiful This Summer! appeared first on Old World Garden Farms.

5 All-Natural Weed Killers, Straight From Your Kitchen (No. 2 Will Kill ANYTHING)

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5 All-Natural Weed Killers, Straight From Your Kitchen (No. 2 Will Kill ANYTHING)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Weeds — they creep up in your garden, sneak through the cracks in the sidewalk, and make it a point to grow everywhere that’s inconvenient to reach.

The easy-out, of course, is to reach for a bottle of store-bought herbicide. Readily available and modestly priced, it’s no wonder that many home gardeners choose it.

Unfortunately, many of these herbicides can be detrimental not only to weeds, but to humans as well. Studies suggest that the chemicals in these products can have a wide range of impacts. Some are relatively minor, such as the potential to cause skin irritations or allergic reactions, while others are more serious, such as nervous system problems and even cancer. In all cases, children and pets are especially vulnerable. Many of these products also have a long-term negative impact on the environment.

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

Homemade weed killers offer the best possible alternative to manufactured herbicides. Inexpensive and made from common household materials, these natural weed killers can help keep unwanted plants at bay without unnecessary exposure to harmful chemicals.

Let’s look at several:

1. Boiling water

One of the simplest solution to weeds involves nothing more than water. To use this technique, boil water in a kettle, then, before it has a chance to cool, pour the water on the crown and roots of the offending plant. The hot temperature will scald virtually any plant it comes in contact with, generally dealing a mortal blow. Although plants with long taproots may require more than one treatment, this is an easy and completely natural way to combat pesky plants.

2. Salt

There’s a reason armies used to salt the fields of their enemies — salt has a powerful ability to render soil barren. Because it affects the ability of roots to take up water from the soil, salt effectively dries out existing plants and makes it difficult for new ones to take hold. While not an ideal solution for gardens and lawns since it can cause permanent damage to the soil, salt can be useful for treating pathways, sidewalks and other areas that are meant to be plant-free. For easy application, dissolve one part salt in eight parts water and apply to the desired locations.

3. Vinegar and lemon juice

5 All-Natural Weed Killers, Straight From Your Kitchen (No. 2 Will Kill ANYTHING)

Image source: Pixabay.com

Plants are picky when it comes to soil pH, and lowering the pH immediately around a weed will almost always cause it to wither. For this reason, it’s not unusual to find acidic ingredients in many commercial herbicides. Before resorting to an unknown chemical concoction, though, it’s worth trying a version made from common pantry items.

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

Vinegar and lemon juice both contain strong acids and can be combined for a pH-targeting weed treatment. Simply combine four ounces of lemon juice with one quart of vinegar and apply directly on the offending plants. This solution will kill most plants, but without causing residual damage to the surrounding soil.

4. Pickle juice

Finish off a jar of pickles recently? Don’t throw away the bottle without putting the leftover liquid to good use first! Pickle brine is full of vinegar and salt, making it a natural combination of these two weed-tackling substances. Apply directly to problem plants and pat yourself on the back for finding such a creative way to handle uninvited garden guests.

5. Soap

One of the most popular homemade herbicides involves combining two of the treatments mentioned above (vinegar and salt) with a third household product — dish soap. While not necessarily damaging to weeds in and of itself, soap contains surfactants which help the other ingredients “stick” to the plant, enhancing the weed-killing properties of the solution. To create this triple-whammy weed control, combine one gallon of vinegar (to lower the pH) with one cup of salt (to dry out the roots) and one tablespoon of dish soap (to help it adhere to the plants).

Controlling weeds doesn’t necessarily need to involve harsh chemicals and impossible-to-pronounce ingredients. Take advantage of these homemade alternatives to safely keep unwanted plants in check.

What all-natural methods 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.

Foraging For Survival: Wild Plants You Didn’t Know You Could Eat

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Every week, homeowners across North America spray their lawns with chemicals, killing plants that their grandparents and great-grandparents would have picked and eaten.

In fact, most homeowners likely don’t even realize that those “pesky weeds” are actually edible – and far healthier for you than many items already in the refrigerator.

On this week’s edition of Off The Grid Radio we take a look at some of the most common plants you can forage and eat – whether in your yard or in the wilderness. Our guest is Mark “Merriweather” Vorderbruggen, a foraging expert and the author of the new book Foraging, part of the Idiot’s Guide series by DK.

Merriweather tells us:

ν Why it’s essential that every homeowner and off-gridder learn how to forage, even if food is readily available at the local store or in the garden.

ν How foraging played a critical role in feeding his family years ago, essentially keeping them from starving.

ν Why foraged plants are healthier than many common foods we eat every week.

ν Which wild plants you can eat that are growing in your yard right now.

Merriweather also tells us the easiest-to-find wild plants you can eat in the forest, and he closes by listing the biggest foraging mistakes people often make.

If you’re an off-gridder or simply have a love for nature and self-reliance, then this week’s show is for you!

The Secret To Eating Dandelions Without That Bitter Taste

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The Secret To Eating Dandelions Without That Bitter Taste

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For many people, the annual war on dandelions has begun. We spray them, dig them up, toss them, burn them and everything else we can think of to get rid of them.

What we should be doing is eating them. The leaves and crowns are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin K, and healthy doses of potassium, calcium, vitamin C, iron, vitamin B6 and magnesium.

The roots, when dried, make a medicinal tea. The entire plant has medicinal value, including:

  • Tof-CFr — a glucose polymer found to act against cancer cells in laboratory mice.
  • Pectin — anti-diarrheal and blood and gastrointestinal detoxifying herb. Can also lower cholesterol.
  • Apigeninand luteolin flavonoids – these have diuretic, anti-spasmodic, anti-oxidant and liver-protecting properties; plus, they strengthen the heart and blood vessels. They also have anti-bacterial and anti-hypoglycemic properties.
  • Linoleicand linolenic acid fatty acids — to regulate blood pressure, lower chronic inflammation and prevent blood-platelet aggregation.
  • Choline — to improve memory.
  • Taraxasterol – for liver and gall bladder health.

What and When to Harvest

If you’re planning on eating the leaves or the crowns, you’ll want to pick them before the plant buds or flowers. Once it begins to flower, the leaves and crowns become bitter. You can compensate for this by soaking them in a couple of changes of cold water, or sauté them with garlic or other aromatics. The crowns are that area between the root top to about a half inch of the leaf stems at the base.

The flowers are usually harvested as the plant matures, but you’ll only want the petals. These are usually pulled from the flower and dried and then used as a garnish for soups or salads. The stems and flower base have a milky sap and are not eaten. The flower petals are sometimes used to flavor dandelion wine.

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The roots are usually harvested during the second year of maturity due to the fact that they’re larger. Wash and peel them with a potato peeler and then chop them into chunks to dry. You can use a dehydrator or dry them or place them in the sun from a sunny window. Some people have finely chopped and dried the roots, and they use it as a chicory or coffee substitute, although it has no caffeine.

Here are some of the basic dandelion recipes that have proven to be popular over the years starting with my favorite, dandelion crowns.

1. Dandelion crowns

The Secret To Eating Dandelions Without That Bitter Taste

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Using a trowel, cut the root and pull the whole plant. Trim off the leaves about half an inch above the root, and trim the root from the base. Rinse the crowns well to remove dirt and grit and then boil for five minutes. When done boiling, shock them in a bowl of ice-water and then put them on a paper towel to drain. You can serve them topped with melted butter and some salt and pepper, or sauté them in butter or oil with one, diced garlic clove and eat them as a side dish. I’ve also tossed the chilled crowns into a mixed salad.

2. Dandelion salad

Dandelion greens and crowns are usually tossed with other salad ingredients to take the edge off any slightly bitter leaves. I’ll usually use a base of dandelion leaves and crowns and add some sliced onions, tomatoes, other leafy greens like spinach, kale and lettuces, and then top with a basic vinaigrette of a half cup of oil, a quarter cup of vinegar and two tablespoons of water plus salt and pepper to taste. As a finishing touch you can garnish the top of the salad with dandelion petals.

3. Dandelion greens, with bacon

As summer progresses, dandelions reach maturity and many of the leaves will have a bitter edge. When that happens I bring on the bacon. This is a classic southern approach to greens. I start by frying a half pound of bacon until crisp. I drain the bacon and reserve the rendered bacon fat in the pan. I then add one diced onion and three chopped garlic cloves and sauté them all for about two minutes. I then add six cups of dandelion greens and toss them for about three or four minutes until wilted. I plate the greens and garnish with the bacon chopped into bits and sprinkle with dried dandelion petals and serve. It’s great with chicken or pork.

Keep Eating Those Dandelions

In most parts of North America, dandelions are plentiful for five or more months. Wild dandelions are best, or a yard-grown dandelion if the yard hasn’t been sprayed with pesticides or herbicides. They can easily become a part of everyday meals and best of all, they’re free.

What advice would you add for eating dandelions? Share your recipes and advice in the section below:

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The Overlooked Way You Can Make THOUSANDS Of Dollars With Goats

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The Overlooked Way You Can Make THOUSANDS Of Dollars With Goats

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Goats are awesome animals. They provide milk and meat for our tables, fertilizer for our soil, and hours of entertainment for us to enjoy. Another benefit they provide, which many people don’t realize or take for granted, is to serve as natural, alternative mowers.

When allowed to graze, goats will scout and sample a variety of wild edibles: weeds, flowers, twigs, vines, tree leaves, shoots — even the barks of young trees.

They’re so good at clearing brush that not a few enterprising farmers have made it their business to rent out goats – an enterprise that’s taken off this past decade. Though goat-grazing weed control dates back hundreds of years, it has lately become a growing movement for sustainability in landscape maintenance.

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Private land owners rent goats for weed control of their yards, woodlots and organic farms. Government agencies and environmental groups contract them for vegetation management of municipal lots, parks, forests and wetlands. Goat grazing also helps with the restoration of native habitats.

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In many states, the public works and transportation departments deploy goats to open up access roads and utility easements, clear railroads and roadsides, and simply reclaim places overrun with succession plants and invasive species. In drought-prone California, towns use goats for fire mitigation.

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Eco-friendly and Economical

Goats don’t use power tools that burn fossil fuel, spew out toxic fumes and make a lot of noise. They work quietly and do little to disturb the soil, leaving a very low carbon “hoofprint.” They don’t use chemical herbicides, nor create a massive mess of brush for landowners to rake, burn or haul to the landfill afterward. Instead, they gift them with rich, organic fertilizer – improving the soil for free. Plus, goats can get into areas hard to reach by man or machine, like slippery slopes and rocky terrain.

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Best of all, they’re cheap. In 2014, rental costs ranged from $500-$1,500 per acre. Some outfits charged $250 per day for less than a dozen goats, while others charged as low as $2 a day per goat regardless of land area. Pricing really depends on several factors: location, brush density, established trails and topographical challenges in setting up a fence. Some operators say it takes 8-12 full-sized goats to clear an acre, while others claim they can get the job done with just three to four. Ultimately, it depends on how fast the owner wants his land cleared.

Food Fare

Lest you think the goats get the shorter end of the bargain here, think again. They get free meals consisting of the richest and tastiest wild forage.

Goats are voracious eaters. They’ll eat 8-10 pounds of salad a day, or about 5-15 percent of their body weight. Some of the invasive species they like to feast on are poison ivy, poison oak, blackberries, buckthorn, honeysuckle, multiflora rose, burdock or sticky bobs, yellow star thistle, scotch broom, leafy spurge, wisteria, privet and the ubiquitous kudzu.

Although there are some plants that are said to be potentially toxic to goats — like iris, rhododendron, buttercup and rhubarb — these animals are very picky and seem to be able to detect and avoid them on their own. They usually eat whatever has the highest level of nutrition in an area, and that varies according to what’s available, the time of season, and their familiarity with the species.

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“Targeted grazing” is what they call the deployment of goats in specific areas that are most infested with noxious, unsightly weeds. This raises the chance for native flora to thrive, while reducing the growth of unwanted ones. It’s a huge benefit to ranchers, who depend on native grasses and local forage for their cattle.

And, unlike horses and cattle, goats don’t spread seeds through their droppings. Their complex digestive systems are able to break down seeds, thus preventing these from growing.

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Even though goats don’t remove plant roots, they like stripping the bark of saplings down to the cane, which dry out and eventually die. Depending on what’s growing in an area and what’s being planned for it the next season, the goats are likely needed back once or twice to keep particularly stubborn, hardy species from re-growing.

A word of caution: Goats like the green bark of young trees and can debark full-sized ones and kill them — especially if they’re confined in a small, overgrazed area. If you’re going to graze your goats, make sure you protect trees that you don’t want eaten.

How to Goat-Graze

If you’re keeping goats in confinement but would like to use them for clearing brush, then start by introducing them to the invasive species in your area, and get them used to eating those. Initially, you can cut and carry the plants to their corral, and when the goats (and you) are ready, let them out more often to pasture and wooded areas. For a sizeable herd, you may want to get a guard or herd dog to ward off potential predators like coyotes, bobcats and mountain lions.

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If you’re going to target-graze, then make sure you have fencing that goats can’t easily break. A temporary electric fence or netting works best. There are solar-powered portable ones that are easy to assemble and move around so that you can strip-graze or divide up a large pasture into smaller, more manageable sections.

It’s a good idea to have a mix of different sizes of goats. Large ones can rise on their hind legs, reach for high branches and bear down on them with their weight, while the smaller ones can feast on lower branches and plants. Any variety of goats would do, but if you’ve got the budget and inclination to go for the pure breeds, rental operators like to use the Boer, Kiko and parasite-resistant Spanish breeds. Just make sure to purchase from a dealer that has similar brush types as you do. Also, don’t buy from a breeder that has high-maintenance goats. Pampered goats that have only been fed grass, hay or grain will take a lot of time and effort to get accustomed to wild forage.

Got goats? Rent Them Out

And if you’re thinking of turning this into an enterprise yourself, you may be in for a promising venture. So many invasive plants have made their way into the U.S. from Asia and Europe, that there won’t be a dearth of properties needing weed control.

Do you have any advice for using goats as weed control, or to make money? Share your tips in the section below:

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4 Ways To Attract Beneficial Birds To Your Homestead

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4 Ways To Attract Beneficial Birds To Your Homestead

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Birds are spectacular creatures — full of grace and elegance, truly creatures of beauty that God placed on the earth for our enjoyment and to showcase His magnificence.

Ever since I was a small child, I have loved to watch birds as they battle against the wind, climbing almost out of sight and return moments later to snatch some seed from a feeder or rest upon an outstretched tree branch to sing a song of joy.

Birds just seem happy — unencumbered and unbothered by changes in temperature, light or season. They make me and millions of other people happy as they put on shows of color and poise in our gardens or along our windowsills.

Besides their tremendous entertainment value, birds do serve a number of purposes, which makes attracting them to your yard that much more important. Birds provide:

Pest control. A great number of birds enjoy dining on insects such as aphids, spiders, mosquitoes and other bugs that we don’t really want hanging about our yard. Attracting birds will keep these insect populations under control.

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Pollination. Birds such as hummingbirds, orioles and others sip the nectar from flowers and play an important role in pollination. Without pollination we would not have thriving gardens.

Weed control. Some birds such as sparrows, finches and towhees can be very helpful when it comes to controlling unwanted plants in your landscape.

Education. Besides entertainment, watching birds in your backyard gives an upfront chance to study local wildlife. This is a wonderful experience for the whole family and makes for a very worthwhile nature study.

4 Ways To Attract Beneficial Birds To Your Homestead

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Conservation. As more and more habitats are being disrupted from development and human intrusion, birds, like other animals, need places to land. This is equally important for local birds as well as those that are migrating.

So, for whatever reason you see fit, here are some ways that you can attract more of these amazing creatures to your yard:

1. Food. In order to attract a wide variety of wild birds to your yard, it is imperative that you offer a diverse buffet of seeds, suet, nectar and other fitting treats. To know which type of food to offer, it is first important to learn about which kind of birds are in your area and which birds might stop during their migratory flight. A variety of feeders are also important — platforms, suet feeders, hanging feeders, etc. – in order to attract a wide variety of birds to your yard. Confused about foods? Then check out this North American bird feeding chart.

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2. Water. Many people may offer a variety of food but forget about water. Water is essential for birds just like it is for humans. Birds prefer moving water, but just about any water source often works. Install a moving water feature or even a bird bath, and watch the birds flock to your yard. Be sure to keep your water source clean and in good repair for best results

3. Shelter. Birds need a place to get away from predators and foul weather and a spot to birth and care for their young. Plant native bushes and trees, and put up birdhouses and nesting boxes according to the type of birds in your area.

4. Habitat. It is imperative that you create a welcoming habitat for birds if you desire to attract a variety to your yard. This will include trees, shrubs, grasses and plants. Native plantings are always best. Do research on what types of plants are native to your location before planting. The more you can mimic what is found in the wild, the more the birds will feel at home.

Have fun with your bird visitors!

What is your advice for attracting birds? Share it in the section below:

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The ‘Super Survival Plant’ Your Great-Grandparents Ate – Hidden Right In Your Yard

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The ‘Super Survival Weed’ Your Ancestors Ate – Hidden Right In Your Yard

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Translated from the French name “dent de lion,” which describes its coarsely toothed leaves, dandelions are hardy survivors, and were a staple in the diets of Native Americans, pioneers and most all of our ancestors.

It seems like no matter how much humans strive to kill them off and spray a plethora of chemicals on them, they still come back. Although their survivability can be quite frustrating for those striving for a picture-perfect lawn, the humble dandelion can play an important role in ecological health and in supporting our own health, as well.

While there are many varieties of dandelions, the most common is the Taraxacum officionale. Originating from Eurasia, dandelions are now naturalized in the U.S. throughout all 50 states, as well as in parts of Canada and Mexico. The seeds of a dandelion can travel up to five miles from the original plant.

Health Benefits of Dandelions

Humans have been using dandelions for both food and medicine for thousands of years, for a variety of ailments. The entire dandelion plant, from the bright yellow-colored blooms, to the leafy greens, to the roots, is edible and is useful for both food and medicine.

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Dandelions contain many valuable nutrients, such as Vitamin D, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous, B complex vitamins, trace minerals, antioxidants and organic sodium. They also contain more protein than spinach. The health benefits of dandelions include the treatment of a variety of conditions.

Environmental Benefits of Dandelions

The ‘Super Survival Weed’ Your Ancestors Ate – Hidden Right In Your Yard

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Dandelions can help to clean up contaminated soils by taking up and concentrating toxic chemicals in their plant parts. (Obviously, you don’t want to eat dandelions from that soil.)

Dandelions attract ladybugs, helping to keep aphids in check in our yards and gardens.

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The deep taproots of dandelions aerate the soil and take up minerals that are returned to the soil when the plant dies. These deep roots also help to prevent soil erosion, by holding the soil in place. Dandelions even provide an important source of nutrients for grizzly bears, deer and elk.

Dandelions are an important first emerging pollen source in the spring for pollinators in the United States. This is critical, since our pollinator populations across the US are in steep decline, due to a number of issues such as critical habitat loss and heavy pesticide use in agriculture that kills important pollinators, including honeybees and monarch butterflies.

Using Dandelions

Bitter greens like dandelion greens are great liver-supporting foods that can be added in limited quantities to smoothies, as well as sautéed.

Dandelions can easily be grown in garden planters or pots. The seeds can either be purchased or gathered from any of the dandelion puffball seed heads in your community during the summer. If you do not wish to grow or gather your own, fresh dandelion greens can often be found at health food stores or as a freeze-dried herb. Dandelion tea, capsules and tinctures are also commercially available.

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They are a great addition to any cleansing program. Because of their ability to support the body’s detoxification systems, dandelions are a great herb to consume in the spring when our bodies are going through a “spring cleaning” on their own.

The ‘Super Survival Plan’ Your Ancestors Ate – Hidden Right In Your Yard

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Dandelions can be used in recipes to produce culinary creations, such as dandelion wine and dandelion jelly. Refer to individual recipes for which parts of the plant to use when preparing these foods. Dandelion roots can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute without the jittery effects of caffeine.

Dandelions also can be infused in apple cider vinegar and used as a salad dressing during a cleansing program.

Tips on Harvesting Dandelions

When harvesting dandelions, be sure to avoid gathering them near roadsides, where landscapes have been sprayed with lawn or agricultural chemicals. Meadows and abandoned lots – or your yard — are great places to harvest dandelions.

To reduce the bitterness of the greens, harvest them in the spring or in the fall. Young leaves are generally the least bitter tasting and can be added to raw salads. Cooking reduces the bitterness of the leaves and the roots.

To harvest the entire plant, dig them up from the roots.

How do you eat or use dandelions? Share your ideas in the section below:

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or cure any particular health condition. Please consult with a qualified health professional to determine which treatments are right for you and any individual health condition(s) that you may have.

Harness The Power Of Nature’s Most Remarkable Healer: Vinegar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Non-Toxic Weed Killer in Your Pantry

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A Simple Non-Toxic Weed Killer

Looking for an easy and sustainable way to control weeds?  Try vinegar.

Vinegar kills weeds by drying the leaves out.  So it works great for plants that are mostly leaf.  Annual grasses, soft leafy annual weeds like chickweed and henbit, etc.  If you apply it correctly, vinegar can kill these weeds dead.

Where it doesn’t do so well is with perennial weeds that have woody stems and roots, or strong rhizomes – like Johnson grass (Sorghum halepense), quack grass (Elymus repens), some clovers, and tree seedlings.  Vinegar will kill the leaves of these plants, but it won’t kill the actual plants, and they will probably just grow new leaves.

Don’t Kill Weeds If It’s Not Necessary

Before anyone gets upset because we’re talking about herbicides here – let me make it clear that I definitely encourage people to allow weeds to grow in their yards (and gardens).

At my house, we cultivate an entire lawn full of “weeds.”  We’re in a suburban environment, surrounded by lawns, and our yard blends right in for most of the year because we pick & choose our weeds carefully.  Most of them are either pretty, edible, medicinal, or useful – and we try to let them go to seed when we can.  We actively cultivate a few of them.

The area I sprayed in this example is a rock-mulched xeric butterfly garden in the very front of the yard along the street.  That’s the only area I sprayed this spring.

Read More: Eat Your Weeds Don’t Mow Them!

How to Use Vinegar as a Weed Killer

There are 4 key instructions to make this work:

  1. Use a Pump Sprayer – Using a sprayer is critical for this task.  It can be any type of pump sprayer (don’t use a sprayer that connects to your garden hose).  What’s important is that you apply a fine mist to thoroughly coat the leaves with vinegar.  Spray to runoff.
  2. Spray During Peak Sunlight – You’ll have more success if you can apply the vinegar in direct sunlight.
  3. Do a Few Applications – You’ll have more success if you do 2 or 3 repeat applications.  The bed in the picture above was sprayed twice, on back-to-back days.
  4. Spray After Weeds have Emerged – If you jump the gun and spray before all of the annual weeds have emerged, you’ll need to do another round later after new weeds emerge.  If you time it just right, and you have some luck, you can get away with one application per season.

vinegar-weed-killer-and-pump-sprayers

More Resources and Information

If you do a quick search, there’s plenty of information out there about using vinegar as an herbicide.  There are many recipes that add in various ingredients like soap, citrus juice, cayenne, etc.

One helpful reference I found is a study from the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  I thought this was interesting because it shows how plain-old vinegar performs up against some commercial vinegar-based weed killer products.

If you decide to go with anything other than 5% acetic acid (grocery store vinegar), please handle those chemicals very carefully.  Grocery store vinegar has worked fine for me.

You can view or download that study here: Using Acetic Acid (Vinegar) As A Broad-Spectrum Herbicide

I also found a blog post where someone gathered up all the different “special recipes” they could find on the internet.  Some added soap, salt, water, orange oil, etc.  They did some non-scientific testing, and got similar results with the various ingredients added.

I think it’s best to just use vinegar.  The plain old 5% vinegar from the grocery store.  It’s about a dollar per gallon, and it’s the simplest way I’ve found to kill weeds with chemicals.

Before you spray, read this: Weeds – What They Tell Us and Why You Should Care


Thanks to David Chinery, Cooperative Extension Educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension (Fact sheet 7.011)

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