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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

25 Plants You Should Consider Growing

There are a million gardening books out there to tell you how to grow perfect tomatoes and lettuces. And that’s important - in my house, salsa is a food group. But the reality is that for those of us attempting to produce a large portion of our calories, tomatoes and lettuce are not sufficient - we need to get either the most calories or the best possible nutrition out of our kitchen gardens and landscaping. So I’ve compiled a list of plants that I think are an important addition to many home gardens - both annual and perennial.

1. Buckwheat. Buckwheat is the perfect multipurpose plant. Many of you have probably used it as a green manure, taking advantage of its remarkable capacity to shade out weeds and produce lots of green material. But it is also one of the easiest grains to grow in the garden - simply let it mature and harvest the seed, and it makes a delicious and highly nutritious salad and cooking green. Although it won’t be quite as good at soil building if you do it this way, buckwheat can be used as a triple-purpose crop - plant a few beds with it, harvest the greens steadily (but lightly) for salad (it is particularly good during the heat of summer since it has a lightly nutty taste not too far off lettuce and will grow in hot weather), cook some of the mature greens, harvest seed, cut the plants back to about an inch leaving the plant material on the ground. The buckwheat will then grow back up again, and you can harvest young salad greens and cut it back again for green manure.

2. Sweet potatoes. Think this is a southern crop? Not for me. I grow “Porto Rico” sweet potatoes in upstate New York. Garden writer Laura Simon grows them on cool, windy Nantucket. I’ve met people who grow them in Ontario and North Dakota. Sweet potatoes have quite a range if started indoors, and more northerners should grow them. They are enormously nutritious, store extremely well (some of my sweets last more than a year), and unutterably delicious. They do need light, sandy soil and good drainage, so I grow them mostly in raised beds with heavily amended soil - my own heavy wet clay won’t do.

3. Blueberries. If there was ever an ornamental edible, this is it. A prettier shrub than privet or most common privacy hedge plants, it produces berries and turns as flaming red as any burning bush in the autumn. I have no idea why more people don’t landscape with blueberries. Add to that the fact that blueberries constitute a “super food.” They have more antioxidants than any single food, and are nutritional powerhouses. They do need acidic soil, but there are blueberries for all climates. Definitely worth replacing your shrubs with.

4. Amaranth - I’ve grown amaranth before, but my first year growing “Golden Giant” and “Orange” was fascinating. In two 5′x4′ beds I harvested 11.2 and 13.9 lbs of amaranth seed respectively. The plants are stunningly beautiful - 9′ tall, bright honey gold or deep orange, with green variegated leaves. The leaves are also a good vegetable cooked with garlic and sauteed, or cooked southern style. Amaranth is an easy grain crop to harvest and make use of, is delicious, can be popped like popcorn, and makes wonderful cereal. Despite its adaptation to the Southwest (where it routinely yields extremely well with minimal water), it tolerated my wet, humid climate just fine. My chickens love it too.

5. Chick peas. Unlike most beans, which must be planted after the last frost, chick peas are highly nutritious and extremely frost tolerant. Plant breeder Carol Deppe has had them overwinter in the pacific northwest, and they can be planted as early as April here, or as late as July and still mature a crop. Unlike peas and favas that don’t like hot weather, and most dry beans that don’t like cold, chick peas seem happy no matter what. If you’ve only ever eaten store chick peas, you’ll be fascinated to experience home grown ones - it is, in many ways, as big a revelation as homegrown tomatoes.

6. Beets. I know, I know, there’ s no vegetable anyone hates as much as the beet. Poor beets - they are so maligned. We should all be eating more beets - especially pregnant women, women in their childbearing years who may become pregnant, and those at risk of heart disease and stomach and colon cancer. Beets are rich in folate (which prevents birth defects) and in studies have shown enormous capacity to reduce cholesterol and blood pressure, and fight colon and stomach cancer. Beets store well, yield heavily, provide highly nutritious greens for salad and cooking and are the sweetest food in nature. If you hate beets, give them another try - consider roasting beets with salt and pepper, or steaming them and pureeing them with apples and ginger. Laurie Colwin used to swear that her recipe for beets with angel hair pasta could convert anyone into a beet lover, whereas a recipe for beets with tahini has converted many of my friends. Really, try them again!

7. Flax. You can grow this one in your flower beds, mixed in with your marigolds. Flax is usually a glorious blue - the kind of blue all flower gardeners covet. But the real reason to grow it is the seeds. Flaxseed oils are almost half omega-three fatty acids. A recent article claimed that we have no choice but to turn to GMO crops to provide essential omega threes without stripping the ocean - ignoring the fact that we can and should be growing flax everywhere, and enjoying flaxseed in our baked goods and our meals. Flax has particular value in nothern intensive gardening, which tends to be low in fats. If you grow more than you need, flaxseed is an excellent chicken feed - my poultry adore it.

8. Popcorn. If I could grow only one kind of corn, it would be popcorn, and popcorn is particularly suited to home scale gardening. There are many dwarf varieties, and many that yield well. And popcorn can be ground for flour (it is a bit of work, though, since popcorn is very hard), or popped for food. My kids like popcorn as breakfast cereal, or, of course, as a snack. Popcorn yields quite well for me in raised beds, and is always a treat at my house. It has all the merits of a whole grain, but is “accessible” to people not accustomed to eating brown rice or whole wheat - a great way to transition to a whole foods diet.

9. Kidney beans. While kidneys have lower protein levels than soy beans, they are very close to soy in total protein, and have the advantage of yielding more per acre. There are a number of pole variety kidney beans that are suitable to “three sisters” polyculture as well, so you can grow the two together. If I could grow only one dry bean (I usually grow 10 or more) it would probably be a kidney variety.

10. Rhubarb. Why rhubarb? Because it will tolerate almost any growing conditions, including part shade (most vegetables won’t), wet soil, and you jumping up and down on it and trying to get it out. Once it is established, rhubarb is tireless. It is also delicious - it does require a fair bit of sweetener (stevia, applejuice or pureed cooked beets will do if you are avoiding sugar). We like it cooked to tart-sweet for a few minutes with just a little almond extract. But its great value is that it provides fresh, nutritious, “fruity” tasting food as early as April here, and goes on as late as July, happily producing spear after spear of calcium rich, tasty food, right when you are desperate for something, anything but dandilions and lettuce. I’m in the process of converting the north side of my house to a vast rhubarb plantation (ok, not that vast), because we can never get enough of it here.

11. Turnips. Let’s say you live in an apartment, and want greens all winter, but don’t have even a south facing windowsill available. What can you do? Well, you can buy a bag of turnips from your farmer’s market. Eat some of them raw, enjoying the delicious sweet crispness of them. Shredded, they are a wonderful salad vegetable. Cook some, and mash them or roast them crisp. And take a few of the smaller turnips, and put them in a pot with some dirt on it, and stick them in a corner - east or west facing is best, but even north will work. And miraculously, using only its stored energy, the pots will go on producing delicious, nutritious turnip greens even in insufficient light. It is magic. If you do have a south facing windowsill, save it for the herbs, and put your potted turnips in the others.

12. Maximillian sunflowers. These are the perennials. They are ornamental, tall and stunning in the back of a border. They will tolerate any soil you can offer them, as long as they get full sun. They also produce oil seeds and edible roots, prevent erosion and can tolerate steep slopes, minimal water and complete and utter neglect. Don’t forget to eat them!

13. Hopi Orange Winter Squash. We all have our favorite winter squash, and perhaps you know one that I’ll like even better. But this variety has the advantage of keeping up to 18 months without softening, delicious flavor that improves in storage, and high nutritional value.

14. Annual Alfalfa. Most alfalfa is grown for forage, and it has to be grown on comparatively good, limed soil. But alfalfa is good people food too, and even a garden bed’s worth can be enormously valuable. First, of course, it is a nitrogen fixer. While you can grow perennial varieties, the annual fixes more available nitrogen, faster. It can be cut back several times as green manure during the course of a season, or you can harvest it for hay to feed your bunnies or chickens. Don’t forget to dehydrate some for tea - alfalfa is a nutritional powerhouse. And if you permit it to go to seed, the seeds make delicious sprouts and have the virtue of lasting for years. I’ve found that the annual version will make seed at the end of the season for harvest.

15. Potatoes. A few years ago I did an experiment - I threw a bit of compost on top of a section of my gravel driveway (and by “a bit” I do mean a little bit - not a garden bed’s worth but a light coating), added a sprinking of bone meal, dropped some pieces of potatoes on the ground, and covered them with mulch hay. Periodically I added a bit more and replaced the sign that said “please don’t drive on my potatoes” and in September, I harvested a reasonably good yield, given the conditions (about 30lbs from a 4′x4′ square). I did it just to confirm what people have always known - potatoes grow in places on rocky, poor soil (or no soil) that no other staple crop can handle. Don’t get me wrong - potatoes will be happier in better conditions, but potatoes can tolerate all sorts of bad situations, and come back strong. And potatoes respond better to hand cultivation than any other grain - until the 1960s hand grown, manured potatoes routinely outyielded green revolution varlieties of grains grown with chemical fertilizers. If there’s hope to feed the world, it probably lies in potatoes.

16. Sumac. No, not the poison stuff, but yes, I mean the weedy tree that grows along the roadsides here. That weedy tree, you may not realize, has many virtues. Besides its flaming fall color and value for wildlife habitat and food, sumac makes a lovely beverage. If you harvest the red fruits in July or August and soak them, you’ll get a lemony tasting beverage, as high in vitamin C as lemonjuice. Since sumac grows essentially over the entire US area that won’t support lemons, this is enormously valuable. You can can freeze or can sumac lemonade for seasoning and drinking all year round. Poison sumac has white or greenish white berries, so they are easy to tell apart. Sumac’s other value is as a restorative to damaged soil - densely planted sumac returns bare sand to fertility fairly quickly, as a University of Tennesee study shows.

17. Parsnips. If you don’t live in the northeast, or do biointensive gardening, you probably don’t eat parsnips. Me, I’m a New Englander, and the sweet, fragrant flavor of parsnips is a childhood joy. But even I hadn’t ever had a real parsnip - one left in the garden after the ground freezes for its starches to convert to sugars. Parsnips are one of the most delicious things in nature, nutritionally dense, and just about the only food you can harvest in upstate New York in February (you do have to mulch them deeply if you don’t want them frozen in the ground.

18. Potato onions. Onion seed doesn’t last very long - and that’s a worrisome thing. The truth is that if we can’t get seed easily, and we can’t grow out plants for seed easily because of some personal or environmental crisis, we might find ourselves without onions, and what a tragedy that would be. Who can cook without onions? No, we need to have onions. Which is why the perennial potato onions, that simply stay in the ground and are pulled and replanted are so enormously valuable - good tasting, put them where you want them, pull up what you need and ignore the rest. They’ll give you scallions before you could get them any other way, and will provide a decent supply of small, but storable and delicious onions.

19. King Stropharia Mushrooms (aka winecaps) - Mushrooms have complex nutritional values, and offer soil improving benefits. The King Stropharia has the advantage of growing well in wood chip mulch in your garden, having few poisonous cognates (ie, you are unlikely to kill yourself harvesting it, tastes great, and is a natural nematodacidal. They give you something meaty and tasty from your garden and can actually improve total yields in a given space. If you fear fungi, this is an easy one to start with.

20. Filberts/Hazelnuts - The best small space nuts, it has an astounding range and and various varities tolerate quite a number of soils. The nuts are delicious, it is fairly easy to grow and the yields are generally high. In cold climates, oil rich plants can be hard to come by - this is a useful exception Oh, and if you have chocolate, you can make that basic food staple, nutella ;-).

21. Elderberries. Got a wet spot? What doesn’t care if it has wet feet, has virocidal qualities, incredible vitamin C value, delicious and nutritious flowers, grows like a weed, is ornamental and will feed the birds anything you don’t want. Yup, the remarkable elder. What’s not to love?

22. Sunflowers - Our local dairy farmers sometimes alternate cow corn with sunflowers as a winter feed. There is truly no more beautiful edible crop in the world than a field full of glowing sunflowers in late summer. They would be valuable enough if they didn’t produce delicious food, high in vitamin E and a host of trace minerals, food for the birds, and stalks that when dry burn extremely well and hot in your woodstove.

23. Rice. In India, nearly half of all rice comes from the gardens of those who farm less than 5 acres - often from home plots of much less than that. This is true over much of Asia - the staple food of their population is often grown in what we’d consider garden sized plots - and the aggregate feeds a population. While the far northermost growers may struggle with this, rice is one of the few staple grains totally amenable to home scale cultivation, and if you can grow rice, you might want to consider it. It is a nearly univeral staple - studies have found that rice allergy essentially does not exist. While growing and harvesting rice on a home scale is some work (some cultures call it “the tyrant with a soul”), rice is worth the time and energy for many of us.

24. Jerusalem artichokes - I know, duh. Sweet and tasty, crisp and nutty, perennials who will take over your house if you let them - what’s not to love? Those who worry that the bad guys are coming to take their food can plant these in their flower beds without fear that most people will recognize them as anything other than something pretty. When first harvested, the carbohydrates are in the form of inulin so that diabetics can eat pretty freely of these.

25. Kale/Collards. They don’t mind heat - 100 degree days don’t phase them once they are mature. They grow all summer, north or south. They don’t mind cold - some strains will overwinter uncovered here in icy upstate NY, while almost all will overwinter covered. They are nutritionally dense, great cooked, or raw in the baby stage. In the cold, their starches turn to sugar. Stir fry them with oyster sauce, steam them and toss them in vinagrette, cook them with bacon dressing - it doesn’t really matter, they are universally good.


Original: http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/10/20-plants-you-should-consider-growing/

Water, from the Other Side


Aaron has a terrific post up about water issues and water harvesting at his blog, and he devotes an entire paragraph to the other end of the water issue - flooding, and drainage. Me, I thought that I can’t be the only person in the world who thinks it is worth more attention than that ;-). While I know that water shortages are the big issue worldwide, where I live, too much water is far more often the problem.

My area gets more than 50 inches of precipitation a year, a mix of snow and rain - and usually pretty evenly spread out. Our summers have warm days, cool nights and plenty of rain - now the summer 3 years ago when I barely had to water even my *container* plants because it rained so much is pretty unusual, but except for establishing seedlings occasionally, I have *NEVER* watered most of my garden. The hose doesn’t even reach it. The first two years we lived here were drought years, and even then, we did not water and things grew fine.

Part of this is because I live between two steep hills - most of the water runs down those hills, and eventually runs to the creek that borders the north side of my property. Before it gets to the creek, it runs across most of the rest of my property. During spring melt-off, we have several days of mild-to-moderate flooding. And once in a while, we get serious flooding, usually in early spring.

But even ignoring the flooding (and Aaron’s prescription to put your garden where it doesn’t flood is good), our soil tends to hold water. Waiting for things to dry out is the real limiting factor in gardening - it isn’t warmth we need (although that helps the drying) but enough dry out to be able to go forward. It really isn’t worth planting seeds into the muck - they simply rot. Transplants can sometimes tolerate it, but honestly, everything sits in the muddy wet soil (with the exception of a few plants that like it) and waits for dryer days - I’ve learned the hard way not to rush it, that plants transplanted a week later when conditions are better grow faster than the ones that sulk because their early conditions weren’t better.

One thing that I’ve discovered is indispensible to wet gardening is mulch - now much is made of the capacity of mulch to retain water. This is not exactly my issue. Instead, I use sheet mulch to protect my soil from flooding and heavy rains - the mulched areas shrug off some of the water, and the organic material helps absorb some more of it, so my mulched garden areas tend to look better after spring thaw, and to be ready to plant earlier. I rake away the mulch on warm day to let the soil warm a bit more, but I can be out on the mulched patches planting days ahead of any unmulched areas. I’ve never read any other garden writer’s discussions of the value of mulch in wet climates.

Generally speaking, as long as you have decent drainage and plenty of organic material, most garden crops tolerate the wetness pretty well - in fact, many of them like it. We do have problems with tomato cracking, and with getting hot peppers hot enough for me, but container growing helps with the peppers, and harvesting regularly before the rains with the tomatoes.

If you don’t have decent drainage, you may have to get some. At its simplest, you can dig a swale or trench and redirect water by hand. If you get fancy, and go for tile and backhoes, you are looking at money. We have areas still awaiting sufficient funds to justify the drainage work that is needed. Still, we do save on irrigation hoses ;-). And we try, as much as we can, to work with what we’ve got, to see our wetness as an advantage, that brings other species and possibilities.

Perennial plantings that aren’t wetland tolerant get the dryest spots, and they generally do fine. It is worth watching nature to see what does well - I have a thicket of cultivated plum trees in the back field that gets very wet in springtime - I was reluctant to plant much of anything but alders and elderberries there, because of the wet land, but native plum trees kept springing up, and I decided to take that as meaning I could get away with the cultivated type - and so I can, apparently.

Actual wet spots have their uses as well - I’m in the process of transforming the end of the side yard, which was uninspiredly planted to reed grass, into a wetland garden - swamp white oaks have edible acorns, beautiful wood and are great fungal hosts, buttonbush is a nectary plant that blooms at a helpful time for wild pollinators, primroses and irises add beauty, alders fix nitrogen and are a coppicing and mushroom hosting species, elders, blueberries and cranberrybush viburnums provide food for me and for wildlife - what’s not to love about wet spots! Not to mention the fact that the world is desperate for diversified wetlands - so not draining your land to get every single inch of cultivable space has some real merits.

The biggest problem, besides occasional flooding, of wet spots is leaching - the nutrients you place get washed away quickly, so fast you can’t keep up. This is another good argument for mulched soil in my climate, for lots of organic matter and humus in your soil, for terra preta practices, and for emphasizing slow release fertility rather than quick.

In the end, I personally like my wet spot - I’m grateful for the rains, and the snow. But living on the damp edges of the world requires, as all spots to, becoming native to that place and its conditions.


Original: http://sharonastyk.com/2009/02/10/water-from-the-other-side/

Check Those Expiration Codes

All of with food stores know to keep checking and rotating old stock to keep things fresh. But what about those cans and boxes with the unreadable codes? Here’s a good link to help decipher:

Cheat Sheet from Consumerist

While we’re on the subject, here’s a great link for shelf lifes of dehydrated foods and some rotation tips:

Shelf Live of Dehydrated Foods


Basic Home Tool Kit

There will be times when things break, become loose,or just need to be repaired or replaced. As part of any preparedness plan, a basic home tool kit can be extremely valuable in an emergency. Having a good set of basic tools will help you make those emergency repairs when it becomes necessary.

Basic Home Tool Kit

1.) Sturdy Tool Box - This will be used to keep your tools readily accessible.

2.) Set of Regular Pliers (2) - 1 Small / 1 Large

3.) Set of Screwdrivers

4.) Claw Hammer - Get a size and weight that is comfortable for you.

5.) Ball Peen Hammer(2) - 1 Small / 1 Large

6.) Rubber Mallet

7.) Set of Cobination Wrenches (open and box end) - SAE (inches) & Metric (MM)

8.) Tape Measure (25 foot)

9.) Set of Allen Wrenches

10.) Hacksaw with extra blades

11.) Utility Knife (with extra blade storage in the handle)

12.) Locking Pliers (2) (aka, Visegrips)- 1 Small / 1 Large

13.) Slip joint Pliers (2) - 1 Small / 1 Large

14.) Needle-nose Pliers (1)

15.) Wirecutters (1)

16.) Set of Punches

17.) Set of Chisels

18.) Files - 1 Small / 1 Large - Both round and flat types.

19.) Wood Saw - Hand Type - 6 or 8 Tooth Crosscut

20.) Pipe Wrenches - 1 Small (8 inch)/ 1 Large (12 inch)

Don't forget to throw in some small boxes of miscellaneous nails, screws and bolts and a roll of electrical tape and duct tape.. This list also doesn't include electrically powered tools. Hand tools work even when the power grid is down. There may also be other tools or specialty items you may want to keep in your tool box.

While a good basic home tool kit when purchased new will probably run anywhere from $150 to $200, it is a multi-use item that has a very good shelf life if cared for and used properly. You can also start small and add to your home tool kit as funds become available or you can shop garage sales and flea markets for bargains.

There are a great many tools out there and having the proper tool everytime will be difficult. Having the basics may make it possible to solve the problem when it occurs.

Staying above the water line!



Water Storage and More


Since I am still dealing with limited typing and I have been receiving so many questions, I have decided that until I can type again I will forgo the posting schedule I had and just answer your questions and deal with immediate concerns. Thank you so much for all the questions and comments. I am sure when you have a question there are a dozen people out there with the same question who just haven’t asked it yet.

Water storage:

Water should never be stored in milk jugs. There are two reasons, first, they are porous and chemicals can easily leach into your water. Milk jugs are designed to begin biodegrading as soon as they are manufactured. This leads to the second reason they are poor containers for storage. They will leak. I knew this and I purchased some water in milk jug type, containers to have on hand when we were anticipating a power outage. We had the outage but I failed to use all the water. You guessed it, one day I went into the garage and the bottle had biodegraded and leaked all over the sewing machine cabinet on which it was sitting. Lesson learned.

Speaking of leaking, if you have read the section in Mother Hubbard on water storage you know that water should never be stored on concrete. Just in case you haven’t heard that before it is worth a mention. Plastic containers, any plastic, should not be stored directly on a concrete floor. Always place a wooden board, a few layers of carpeting, an old metal rack, something on the floor first. Concrete absorbs water from the ground beneath it. Concrete contains many poisonous chemicals and as it absorbs ground water these can leach into plastic containers. You would not taste them when drinking the water or when using it to prepare foods but they could make you sick.

Storing water in hard plastic juice containers and soda bottles is fine. They are constructed in a higher grade plastic and are good storage containers. Be sure to clean them well and if you ever open a container that has mold or particles floating in it use it only to water outdoor plants or to flush a toilet.

Storing water in old detergent containers and using the water to wash your hands is a tricky question. If you have small children I wouldn’t risk it. No matter how well you labeled the bottle for hand washing only, I would be afraid a child might drink it. Gosh, they’ll drink the detergent! If you are all adults in your home I don’t see a problem with doing this, just label it well, for two reasons, you don’t want anyone drinking or cooking with it and you also don’t want to assume you have a supply of detergent when you really have water.

55 gallon drums…It is very, very difficult to get syrup out of a drum. You will need to clean them several times and let the bleach sit in the barrel for a day or two before you rinse it out. Fill the barrels about 1/4 full with a bleach and water mixture. Rotate the barrels and be sure you turn it upside down and let it sit, as it is really hard to clean inside the top. I would not count on this water for drinking or cooking. It should be reserved for cleaning, toilet flushing and watering a garden. If you are purchasing used water barrels be aware that the barrel will absorb the flavor of the item originally stored in it, so, a pickle barrel will leave the water tasting like pickles, etc. NEVER, NEVER store water in a barrel that has been used for anything except a food ingredient.

The best way to store water is in glass, which is why I recommend filling your canning jars with water as you empty them. I know someone is going to send me a note and say glass breaks in an earthquake, yep, it will. If you live in earthquake country you should have your jars stored in boxes and you should have strips on your shelving to hold the boxes on the shelves. Where is earthquake country? Alaska, Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Nevada, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, the Carolinas, Indiana, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio, the Virginias, New Jersey, New York and New England…Did you know that? Naturally some are more prone to earthquake than others, but some faults move so rarely residents are not aware that it can happen there also. One of the most dangerous faults in the US is the New Madrid which would cause massive damage in all those states surrounding Kentucky.

Speaking of canning jars…I understand there was a shortage of jars last year in some places and if you missed it, Jeanette commented that her stores were well stocked right now with jars. You may want to think about stocking up. It would be a good time to send an email around to all your family and friends and ask if anyone has any jars they are willing to part with before you purchase a bunch. I gave away lots a few years ago when my family started shrinking. Some older women may be willing to give you jars if you just return a % of them filled. As we prepare to garden we also need to think about how we will preserve what we grow.

Keep those questions coming and I will try to keep up with the answers.

Original: http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/TotallyReady/~3/536708275/

Recipe: Wheat Berry Bread (By Machine)

This is another recipe to use the wheat berries you have stored. We've moderated a recipe to make in our bread machine, because, well, we don't eat a lot of bread, and half of it has to be wheat-free anyway.

Give this a try. You may want to play with the ingredients and measurements for your own personal taste, machine, or perhaps baking in your oven or a solar oven.

1 1/2 cup milk
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/3 cup oil or melted butter
1/3 cup honey
1 egg
4 cups wheat flour (you need to measure it from what you grind yourself)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon yeast

1-2 cups additional wheat flour (especially if making without bread machine)

Follow the instructions to your machine, placing the ingredients in the bucket according to instructions. Our machine calls for wet ingredients first, then dry, then yeast. Mix the wet together before adding. Mix the dry together before adding. Then, set on longest baking cycle, and start.

After the machine has mixed for a few minutes, take a peak. While it's supposed to be stickier than bread made from store-bought flour, it's still needs to be a firm dough. Add a bit more flour by tablespoons as necessary. This should make a 2-pound loaf.

Copyright (c) 2009 New View Group, LLC

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/02/recipe-wheat-berry-bread-by-machine.html

Food & Home Storage Supply List

I am posting my Suggested Food & Home Storage Supply list today. I've simplified it so that most of you can understand it. It shows the amount 1 adult should store for either 1 month, 3 months or 12 months, however, if you would like a customized copy for your family, I can input their ages, and the spreadsheet will formulate it for you entire family.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me.

Original: http://preparedldsfamily.blogspot.com/2009/02/food-home-storage-supply-list.html

water, water everywhere

There are some memories that are impossible to properly conjure up without the right setting. It’s tough, for instance, to accurately remember the sound of falling snow in August when it’s 100 degrees outside. Likewise the winters where I live are usually unsuitable for thinking correctly about drought; case in point this winter, during which it seems to have rained every four days for the last three months. You won’t hera me complain because we’ve had unusually dry weather for during the past few years, but I need a truck load of soil delivered to finish up a series of raised bed planters I built last autumn. The person who is suppose to bring me my soil hasn’t had dry enough weather this winter to bring me my soil without getting his truck stuck in my yard. Its good thing I’m not in a hurry.

So it’s been hard this winter to think about how it might be too dry this summer and how hard those conditions make growing food, especially in poor soil. The agricultural extension officer in my county made an interesting comment the other day. He said that if the soil is in great shape, irrigation is unnecessary. He’d be right of course in all but the most extreme drought conditions but then again we’ve had such conditions several times here in the Southeast during the last decade.

Several years ago I was gardening in a neighbor’s backyard in soil that was not yet in prime condition. I all but abandoned the garden in August when we had 10 weeks without a single rain event. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “When the well runs dry, we know the worth of water.” If you’re starting a garden you’ll want to consider how you plan to provide it with the water necessary to be successful if it doesn’t fall from the sky.

I’ll talk more about soil in a future post but it’s worth mentioning here that the health of the soil and its makeup are important when considering how important irrigation will be to the success of your garden. Healthy topsoil will have plenty of organic material in it that will help hold water after it rains. If you’re gardening in the dirt that was left behind in the wake of most new home construction projects it’s likely to dry out much quicker. So it’s important to consider your soil and think about ways to improve it or even ways to import better soil from elsewhere to get your garden going.

Water for irrigation is available from four sources: ground water, municipal water, grey water and rain water.

Ground water is available from springs or by drilling a well. Many parts of the country can support moderate amounts of water being drawn from underground and recharged naturally.

Some parts of the country however are already pumping water out of the ground a rate much faster than can be naturally recharged. These regions are endangering their futures. It’s difficult to gauge how much ground water is left because it’s out of sight. It is also possible that ground water can be contaminated by natural occurring high concentrates of compounds that are poisonous to humans. Have your ground water tested to be sure it’s safe. It’s also worth mentioning that in many parts of the country, drilling a well can be expensive. Contact a local well drill for more information.

Municipal water includes water that is provided by city or county governments. Often this water is pumped from lakes and rivers before being filtered and purified. The chemicals used to clean this water are harmful to soil life and often raise the pH making it less than ideal for irrigation (and arguably less than ideal for human consumption). Given a choice between letting your garden croak or irriagting with municipal water, it’s probably practical to use city/county water. One of the positives about municipal water is that in many places it is easily accessible with good pressure and is relatively inexpensive. It may also have pharmaceuticals and the residues from other chemicals used upstream but hey, nothing’s perfect.

Grey water is water that has been used in sinks, showers and tubs in households. Recycling it entails diverting it to the landscape instead of directing it into the sewer or septic system. It is not water from toilets which is called black water so as to distinguish it from grey water. Using grey water in your garden can be as simple as saving water in a dish pan and pouring it on plants.

Remember that this water can have soaps or oils in it so be careful what you’re using to clean your dishes if you plan to redistribute that water into the landscape. Food or skin particles could be a source of foul smells or even disease if left to build up but for the most part, grey water is a safe way to use water more wisely. Some parts of the country promote grey water recycling while it is illegal in others. Those places where water is scarce have long recycled their gray water. In such parts of the country, grey water systems have developed that are more advanced and direct water and sometimes filter it as part of the plumbing of the house. Art Ludwig’s Create an Oasis with Greywater is the classic text on the subject. Here’s a good website as well.


Humans have been harvest rain water for thousands of years. If you’ve taken a vacation to a tropical island nation you’ve likely seen the systems used there for capturing rain. The water falling from the sky is likely your cleanest source depending on the quality of air in your area. It won’t have harmful chemicals in it and the pH will be very close to neutral.

The sky is the source of water that will naturally irrigated your garden as it has rained on the surface of our planet for millions of years. The catch of course is that it won’t always rain in the amounts desired to keep your garden healthy or at the times when you most need the water. Here in central NC we get more rain in the winter than in the summer and much of our summer rain comes in the form of thunderstorms that might drop 1 or 2 inches of rain within an hour. So while we get more rain annually here in Charlotte, NC than in Seattle, WA or Albany, NY (check your average annual rainfall here) we don’t always get the amount we want when we want it; and that’s without the recent drought periods factored in or droughts of the future aggravated by climate change. Harvesting and storing rainwater is an excellent way to irrigate gardens.

There are three basic types of water storage: above ground, in ground and below ground.

Above ground storage happens in tanks or other containers that hold water collected from impervious surfaces, mainly roofs. Containers range in size from 42 gallon rain barrels to tanks that hold many thousands of gallons. These containers can use pumps to push the water to where it’s needed but because they are above ground they often just use gravity to move water from storage to the garden.

It’s relatively easy to see how much water is available and set up and maintenance of such tanks is relatively simple. The down side is that the aesthetics of a series of rain barrels or a giant tank might not blend in the landscape ornaments in your neighborhood. By the way these storage systems are relatively cheap compared to the in ground or below ground storage systems.

In ground systems refers basically to ponds or lakes. If you have an existing pond on your property consider yourself blessed. This type of natural water storage system has been used for millennia as a way to store irrigation water.
It can also serve as an ecosystem capable of providing you with fish and other sources of protein as well as providing a home for nutritious aquatic plants like cattails. Ponds also serve as a necessary resource for the other animals that will call your property home. Construction of ponds can be expensive depending on size and the type that is right for you based on the soils in your area. In short a pond or lake can is an excellent resource and one that an entire class could be devoted to in terms of construction and utilization. Personally I’ve always wanted to try fresh water pawn production.

Below ground storage refers to tanks used to store water in tanks, well, below ground. The excavation necessary for installation and maintenance and the reinforced tanks necessary for such storage options make this a more expensive choice. It does get the tank out of your yard though and for people for whom space is tight this might be the only option available. A pump will be necessary to get the water back up above ground. Filtration of ingoing water will be even more important as in ground systems are much harder to clean. Brea rainwater harvesting systems is a local company I’ve dealt with in the past in researching and pricing such systems.


The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvest (a free PDF) is an excellent resource. I printed out a copy and it lives in my bookshelf and is regularly referenced.

Brad Lancaster has written two great books on the subject

Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond Volumes One & Two

Here’s an article and a video of Brad.

Abundant Skies: 8 Principles for Successful Rainwater Harvesting


This alternative also looks very interesting. It fights in the crawl space beneath your house.

I’ve heard of similar systems used in Australia and would love to hear from any of my Aussie readers as to how well they work.

I should mention that there is another problem having to do with water that I haven’t mentioned here at all, flooding. Sharon has more experience with this than I do but it’s entirely possible to site your garden and get it completely ready this winter only to see it flooded this spring. Be sure that your garden is outside of all flood zones that fall within your property. Pay attention after (or during) heavy rains to see where the water on your property goes. This will help you not only to be able to avoid areas prone to flooding but also to know what areas might work well as places to store water.

Another aspect of water outside my area of expertise is the spring melt. For many of you living further north, snow and ice will melt in the spring and provide you with a great deal of water. This might mean flooding or it could be an opportunity to harvest water for use later in the year.

Like all other natural systems, understanding the hydrology of your particular site will require careful observation and harnessing the water available to you will take thought and improvisation.

Original: http://poweringdown.blogspot.com/2009/02/water-water-everywhere.html

With the economy in freefall, work at home scams are on the rise

“Work at least as hard on your own behalf as you do for any employers and you will prosper beyond your peers…”
MINE! Work at home scammers want your money
The tally is in; just short of 600,000 jobs lost in January of 2009. That’s an appreciable chunk of the 1.5 million jobs that the U.S. economy has disappeared in the past three months. So maybe we didn’t really need NPR to tell us that the economy is in freefall . But they were nice enough to, and you can even listen to it on line .
With all those people beating the streets looking for income, it’s probably not a surprise that work-at-home scams are on the rise —and not just in America; it’s getting press in the U.K. too. Hungry, frightened people stampede easily and when they can’t make their housing costs and put the food they are used to on their tables they are more likely to be taken in by things that, in better circumstances, they would likely know are too good to be true. Opportunistic bottom-feeders know this, and they are ramping up their efforts to lay hold of the few sheckels still rattling around in the bottom of the pot.

You can just about bet that anything that poses as a money-making opportunity which materializes unrequested in your e-mail box or your mail box is a scam. Possibly 90% of what comes up in a basic search engine if you search for “make money at home”, “home employment” “work from home” is also at best questionable. You MUST check anything you find with the BBB, and I recommend searching for the company name on ripoffreport.com and sites like it.

There are some things that you can start shifting in your lifestyle and outlook whether or not you’ve gotten the ax…yet. There is a new paradigm taking shape, and the go-go economy is just not there any more. That’s fine; ultimately, it probably wasn’t good for anyone or anything involved. You could start by taking a long look at a cheap publication called “Live On $10,000 a Year or Less “. Even if you don’t shell out the ten dollars to download it, looking through the chapter titles can give you a place to start necessary discussions over the kitchen table. Have you already made lifestyle changes…ones that you can see as better choices instead of deprivations? What aspects of your lifestyle are you adjusting? Can you make some suggestions here for other readers?

Original: http://ourright2selfreliance.today.com/2009/02/09/with-the-economy-in-freefall-work-at-home-scams-are-on-the-rise/

Home Remedies from Foxfire 1, Part 2

And here's the rest of the lineup of home remedies from Foxfire 1.

Make a tea of boneset leaves, using one tablespoonful. You may use them fresh or dried. (Catnip tea is good, too. HM)

Irritation Caused by Insects
Bee Stings
Chew or mash ragweed and put it on sting to deaden pain and reduce swelling.
Put moist snuff, mud, tobacco juice, or red clay on it.
Crush a few chrysanthemum leaves and rub the juice on the sting.

Chigger Bites
To relieve itching and infection, rub chewed snuff or tobacco over the bites.
Make a mixtgure of butter and salt to stop itching.

Spider Bites
If bitten by a black widow spider, drink liquour heavily from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. You won't get drunk, you'll be healed. (I'd advise caution with this one.)

Irritations of the Skin
Boil chestnut oak leaves and apply the resulting dark juice to the affected areas. Or take any of a variety of teas to break them out. These teas include catnip, ground ivy, mashed up berries of the tread-save, red alder leaves, raw alder bark scraped uphill.

Poison Ivy
Use a mixture of buttermilk or vinegar and salt.
Rub wild touch-me-not (jewelweed) on the area.
Slice open a green tomato and run the juice over the affected area.

Erysipelas (skin disease)
Use a poultice of peach tree leaves and corn meal.
Make a salve of balm of Gilead buds fried in mutton tallow. Add vaseline is you wish.

Use sulfur and lard.
Use gunpowder and sulfur.
Wash some yellowroot and put it on the affected area.

Bind salty fat meat to a stone bruise or a thorn in the foot to draw out the inflammation. A poultice of clay will do the same thing. (I've used clay for drawing out splinters. Good stuff!)
Make a tea of poke roots by boiling them in water for a couple of minutes. Dip a cloth in it and rub on the affected area. (Be careful not to get any in your mouth.)

Buttermilk and lemon juice mixed together and put on freckles will remove them.
Put sap from a grapevine on them.

Chapped Hands
Rub pine resin on them.
Rub hands with mutton tallow.

Athlete's Foot
Wrap a wool string around the toe, or step in cow dung that is fresh.

Sweaty Feet
Boil dried chestnut leaves until you have an ooze. Apply this to the feet.

Kidney Trouble
Make a tea from dried trailing arbutus leaves.
Eat one or two poke berries a day for a couple of days.
Drink some red alder tea.

Liver Trouble
Make a tea of lion's tongue by boiling a few leaves in water, then straining. Add syrup if you want to sweeten it.

Any herb tea will break them out.
Make a tea of sheep dung to break them out.
Boil red alder branches and drink the tea.

Take a small piece of lead and bore a hole in it. Put a string through the hole, tie it, and wear it around your neck. Your nose won't bleed again.
Place a nickel directly under the nose between the upper lip and the gum and press tightly.
Lie down and put a dime on your heart.

Pain Killer
Roast some poke roots by the fire. Scrape them clean with a knife and grind up. Make a poultice out of the powder and apply to the bottom of the feet. It will draw pain out of anywhere in the body. (Wonder if this one works...I might try it.)

To bring down the fever, put some quinine and hog lard on a cloth and put it on your chest.
Give the person two teaspoonsful of oil rendered from a skunk.
Make an onion poultice to make the fever break. Then give the person whiskey and hot water.
Make a tea of butterfly weed and add a little whiskey and drink it.

Roast a poke root in ashes in the same manner as you would roast potatoes. While it is still hot, apply it to the inflamed joint. This eases the pain and reduces the swelling.
Drink a mixture of pokeberry wine and whiskey.
Let rattleroot, ginseng, red corn root, wild cherry bark, and golden seal root sit in one gallon of white whiskey. Drink small portions of the resulting liquid as needed.
Rub some wildcat oil on the skin.
Cook garlic in your food to east the pain.

Risin's (I think this means boils.)
Place an elm bark poultice over the bump.
Scrape the white of an Irish potato and place on scrapings on the bump. Bind them on with a clean cloth. This will draw the risin to a head.
Take raw fat meat (the fattest you can get), cut a thin slice of it and bind it over the bump with a cloth bandage. This draws it to a head, and when you pull the cloth off, a tiny hole is left in the center of the bump. Make a thread loop and ease this loop into the hole and twist several times; then yank the core of the risin' out with a swift motion. (Gak!)
Eat sulfur mixed with honey.

Put butter around the sore so a dog will lick it. The dog's saliva will cure it.
Put a little lard or something equally greasy on the sore. Then dust the sore with sulfur. The grease will hold the sulfur on.
Make a salve of white pine resin and mutton tallow.
Mash up yellowroot and put it on the sore.

Sore Throat
Bake onions in an open fireplace; then tie them loosely around your throat.
Gargle with honey and vinegar.
Rub pine oil on your throat.
Take a sock you have worn inside a boot and worked in for almost a week so that it has a bad odor. Tie it around your neck.

Stomach Trouble
Make a tea of wild peppemint and drink it.
Deink some blackberry juice or wine.
Drink some juice from kraut left over after cooking.
Make a tea of golden seal roots and drink it.
To settle the stomach, place five small flint rocks in a glass of water. Let it sit for a few minutes and then drink.

Tonsil Trouble
Gargle with tan bark tea make from chestnut leaves.
Smear balm of Gilead slave over the person's chest.
Gargle with salt water.

Make a small amount of wine from pokeberries, and mix one part of the wine with eight parts white whiskey. Take a small spoonful just a couple times a day. It's also good for rheumatism and muscle cramps.
Use burned alum.
Put drops of vanilla straight from the bottle on the tooth.

Get something like a penny that a person would want to pick up. Put some blood from the wart on it and trow it into the road. When someone pickes it up, the wart will go away.
Wet your finger and make a cross on the wart.
Tie a horsehair around it.
Rub the wart with the skin of a chicken gizzard, then hide the skin under a rock. The wart will disappear.
Wash the affected are with water from a rotten chestnut stump for nine mornings in a row before breakfast.

In the early spring, pick the small tender leaves of the poke plant. Boil the leaves, drain them, and cook in grease from fatback. Eat a mess of these.
Take "worm syrup" which is made by boiling Jerusalem oak and pine root together.
Eat tobacco seeds.
Eat a head of garlic every day until they are gone.
Put three or four drops of turpentine in a teaspoon of sugar and eat it.

Preventatives, Cure-alls
Take wild cherry tree bark, yellow poplar bark, and yellowroot boiled, strained and mixed with white liquor.
Mix together some sulfur and molasses and eat it.

Take about two tablespoons of mutton tallow, and heat it up in a frying pan with about six balm of Gilead buds. Mash the buds up while the mixture cools and when the grease is all out of the buds, strain the mixture. Put it in a jar and cover it. The salve is clear and will last for years.
Take one cup of pine resin, about one ounce of camphor-phenique, one cup of mutton tallow, and ten to fifteen balm of Gilead buds. Put it all in a frying pan and heat until liquid. Mash the buds until all the juice is out of them. Strain and put into jars and cover. Makes about a pint.

To help hair grow, break a section of a grape vine, set in a bottle and let the juice drain. Rub the juice in the hair.
A piece of nutmeg tied around the neck will prevent neuralgia.
Give a grouchy person a tea made from violet blossoms.

There you go! Live and learn.

Original: http://handmaidenkitchen.blogspot.com/2009/02/home-remedies-from-foxfire-1-part-2.html