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Saturday, March 7, 2009

How to Start Seedlings for Spring Plantings

The pic to the right shows our seed starting supplies: Jiffy Peat Pellets (the "greenhouse" and those we've watered and are awaiting seeds in yogurt cups) and Peat Pots (strips) that we used last year for corn - might use again later. We'll see.

Now... to the posting!

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it's time to start some of your vegetable crops indoors. Here's some tips to help you.

Basic information:

Don't start seedlings too soon. They could become crowded and spindly which will hurt their survival chances when you can finally get them in the ground outdoors.

Some of your veggies (and other annuals) do best when sown directly into the ground where they'll live their lives. Better wait for those until the weather is ready.

Have you built a cold frame yet? If so, get started in that because that will give you a six-week head start!

Seedlings started indoors or in cold frames should be "weathered" or "hardened off", which means you need to gradually introduce them to the outdoors. Nights will still be cold.

Starting Seed Indoors:

Start start seeds four to eight weeks before the average date of last killing frost. Don't do it too soon or the seedlings will be thin and spindly and won't do well outside.

We started our tomato plants yesterday (March 6) here in Colorado but since they'll be grown in pots because of our moving situation, we can bring them in if we ever actually get cold weather. Ha!

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PEAT PELLETS: We use the Peat Pellet system - we'll post an entry about this later today. Yes, we realize peat is a non-renewable source, but we're still somewhat beginner gardeners, and are still working with alternatives to find what's best for us.

PEAT POTS: Again, non-reneable, but these little pots work well with transplanting. Fill the little pots with potting soil, place in a dish or something to catch the water, lightly moisten the soil, add a seed, label (!!!), and watch. Moisten regularly. When seedling comes out of soil, place in sun. When seedling is as big as the pot, ready to transplant! This is what we do for corn seeds, as it doesn't disturb the root when transplanting.

YOGURT CONTAINERS: Almost any container with drainage holes in the bottom will work for planting. Paper milk cartons cut in half, Styrofoam cups, tin cans, yogurt containers, plastic trays and pots are common containers used. Again, fill with potting soil. Avoid using your garden's soil unless you've composted well, and you're sure the soil doesn't have weed seeds or anything else that can interfere with the maturation of your veggie/fruit/herb seed.

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TIP: Don't fill your pot or container to the top with potting soil. Remember, you need to keep the seed moist, so when you water, you want to make sure the water doesn't run off, taking some precious potting soil with it. Using a mister is best.

TIP: Place seeds in the potting soil according to the seed's directions. Good rule of thumb is the size of the seed is exactly the amount of depth you should plant it - cover no more than four-times the diameter of the seed. For instance, lettuce and other greens seeds are very very small so place the seed on top of the soil and just VERY lightly, dust potting soil on it.

TIP: Most places say "place two or three seeds in each pot" but when every one counts, I just place one seed. That way, I don't have to thin. I'd rather re-seed than thin, any day.

TIP: Remember to water carefully and often. The seed needs to be constantly moist to germinate, and using small pots or pellets will dry out rather quickly. Check at least daily - when first starting I usually check at least twice a day because I'm constantly looking to see if we have any babies! HOWEVER, don't soak the soil because that could rot the seed. It's a fine line.

TIP: Cover the containers or peat pellets with something thin (like plastic wrap or plastic covers or panes of glass). Place in a cool room (60 to 65 degrees) away from direct sunlight until you see a seedling pop out (called "germination"). Once you see seedlings, move them over two or three days into brighter light. Once the seedlings have developed the first true leaves (the leaves above the cotyledons or “seed leaves”), thin to one plant per container if using partitioned trays or peat pots. Use scissors or tweezers to cut or pinch off unwanted seedlings (pulling them will disturb the remaining seedling.)

TIP: Ready to transplant? About one week prior to planting-out time (remember to use your freeze-date guidelines), gradually expose your seedlings to longer and longer time outdoors. Except when temperatures are going to dip below 50 degrees. While exposing them to the outdoors, reduce watering to a minimum but don't let the seedlings wilt. Being careful with the seedlings at this point will help the bigger seedlings/plants adjust to full outdoor exposure without a lot of shock when you transplant them.

Original: http://survival-cooking.blogspot.com/2009/03/how-to-start-seedlings-for-spring.html

Carrying A Gun At Work

I think I've written about this in the past but sometimes things recycle and that is OK. Last night Wifey and I were watching one of those wildest video type shows. Some convenience store worker got beaten repeatedly upon the head and shoulders with a hammer during a robbery. [background, I worked swing at a 711 for awhile during college] I said something to the effect of "I would give that guy all the money he wanted but if it looked like he was going to try and hit me with the hammer I would shoot him in the face". Wifey said "you carried a gun?" and I said "darn right".

This got me onto the subject of carrying guns at work. I currently work in a place where carrying a gun just isn't worth it and that is OK. Here is my thinking on this matter. It is really just a series of questions that eventually lead to a conclusion.

Is it legal to carry a gun at your work? Do whatever you want but if it is not legal then carrying one is probably a poor plan. At 711 it was perfectly legal to carry a gun.

Is it acceptable at work? I think this is one of those "better to ask forgiveness then beg permission" situations. Unless they specifically say you can't then working under the assumption that it is fine could be a good way to go. Assuming you do a real good job of CCW noone with ever notice and the discussion will never happen. If the discussion does happen you can always say "I am perfectly legal to carry here (assuming you are:) and there was no office policy". The worst case of this would probably be the office suddenly creating a policy you don't like.

If you office does have a policy against carrying guns then the choice is yours. 711 had a policy forbiding against carrying weapons but I figured if some asshole tried to stab me/ hit me with a hammer/ whatever that policy would be a lot less comforting than a loaded pistol. That brings me to the next point.

What sort of consequences at work are you willing to deal with? I had a part time job at 711 and figured worst case if I got 'made' I would just quit on the spot. If it was a full time job that was my livelihood there would be some harder thinking that probably lead to a different result.

The answers to these questions probably tell you if carrying at work is an option.

If the answer is no and you want it to be yes here are some outside the box ideas that could help mitigate that problem.

If carrying at work is not an option then keeping a handgun in your car is an option. Provided the parking lot is secure that will let you be armed to and from work.

If carrying at work is verboden and the parking lot is not secure then think about some sort of a locking box to just throw into the bottom of your book bag. Said book bag could be locked up in a desk or something if need be. Anyone thinks your wierd for locking up your book bag just say you packed a really really good lunch and must protect it or something totally off the ball like "I am protecting my treasure". Either of those should get all but the nosiest busy body to shake their head, walk off and forget the whole thing.


Original: http://tslrf.blogspot.com/2009/03/carrying-gun-at-work.html

The Incredible Disappearing Retreat in the Woods

Here is something that heretofore I have only shared with a few of my consulting clients: an approach at rural retreat construction that can make a rural retreat of 10 acres or more essentially "disappear".

If there is a thick screen of trees or tall brush between the public road and potential building sites at your undeveloped country retreat parcel, then your property might be a good candidate for a "hidden retreat house". This is accomplished by making as few changes as possible when the parcel is viewed from the county road. No fancy entry gate, no mailbox, basically nothing new that is visible except a small diameter drainage culvert by the side of the county road and a narrow semi-improved road that will just look like a disused farm machinery access lane. It should be just lightly road-rocked for the first 100 feet, to encourage grass to actually grow up in it. Design the roadway leading in to the back end of the property narrow and in a serpentine path, so that additional trees can be planted to block any view down the lane. You will of course need to brief and oversee the road contractors, so that they don't do the usual "wide road with lots of rock."

Either have grid power run in underground, or skip it altogether and put in a photovoltaic (PV) power system. Thus, there are no power poles and visible lines to give away the location.
I recommend building a masonry house with small windows and with either a rock or an earth-tone brick facade. The roof should be green metal, all the better to blend in. Do not clear trees to "open up a view", since that would likely provide line of sight from the county road, revealing the house.

The aforementioned measures might all seem a bit "Bat Cave", but I have seen this approach used at a retreat on the Big Island of Hawaii. The owner--who has had the place for 10 years--mentioned that a few of his neighbor's houses have been burglarized, but his never has been. His house is invisible from the road and from all of the neighboring houses, so opportunistic burglars "just passing through" don't even know that there is a house there. His lane just looks like something used by farm tractors, not by a homeowner.

Granted, this approach will not protect your retreat from being known by your neighbors. Twelve-year-old boys tend to hike around just about everywhere, and pay little attention to "No Trespassing" signs. Ditto for a lot of hunters and fishermen. But statistically, a hidden retreat will be much safer, both before the Schumer hits the fan, and after.

An even more elaborate disappearing act is an underground house with an entrance hidden in what appears to just be a utility building. But that gets much more expensive. I'll have more on that in an upcoming post.

Original: http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/03/the_incredible_disappearing_re.html

Herbal Cures at Your Doorstep, by Organic Cathy

"Health care" in America - while having "evolved" - leaves much to be desired i.e. cost, effectiveness, government restrictions of natural medicines, deaths caused form "modern" medicine, control and pharmaceutical greed to name just a few. in the blaring light of reality of today's coming collapse even simple health care will be challenging to say the lease.
While I am not formally trained in herbal medicine, I do have some medical background and twenty plus years of growing and using herbs and more recently delving into wild herbs. TEOTWAWKI will change the availability of "home health care" from government regulated pharmaceutical based approached to real home health care where individuals - especially those in remote areas - will need to rely on what is at hand.

I hesitate to even approach this subject, as it is vast, involved, time consuming and can be very overwhelming. On the other hand, knowledge of hers is powerful and very useful in survival situations.
History show that American Indians were knowledgeable in plant medicines, including a spiritual link. That, backed up by the medicine woman or man with extensive training passed on from one generation to the next.

The colonists - especially housewives - were responsible for their family's health and well being. Many medicines were grown in the kitchen gardens. The medicines that couldn't be grown were purchased at apothecaries that carried items imported by ship. This entailed a dangerous and lengthy trip to the nearest outpost. When doctors made house calls he expected basic herbs to be on hand provided by the household.

When the SHTF many will be on their own. Medication supplies - any and all - will most likely be disrupted along with everything else. While I have a small supply of basic meds (over-the-counter pain/.fever medication, cold, and diarrhea etc) I've chosen to focus on what I can use from nature in my local area: wild herbs, plants, trees as well as growing my own. As mentioned above limited supply and what I have on hand will eventually expire or will run out. Also important besides growing my own medicine is the knowledge of what grows wild in my zone will allow me to wild harvest a variety of medicinal plants in the event of evacuating my home. I consider it my mental G.O.O.D. kit. Knowledge literally weighs nothing on my back but can mean everything in survival situations.

So, having said all that, What to do? Medicinal plant knowledge IS overwhelming! But don't let fear take up valuable energy. Start with the basics. There are a number of excellent resource books out there (a list will follow). Build a library of your own. Create your own resource book: three ring binder or notebook. If (as is the case with most of us) money is tight, go to the library and take out books on home remedies, wild herbs in your areas as well as medicinal plants (trees, shrubs, berries etc.) and take lots and lots of notes. Search the internet for free articles, videos, and any other information to be found on medicinal plants. There is a wealth of information out there. Talk to those knowledgeable in herbs - most local fairs have booths of homemade herbal products - talk with these people - have specific questions to ask as usually they are very busy with ten more people waiting to do the same thing. Do you know family,friends, relatives, neighbors who grow and/or use their own herbs? Visit nurseries that sell herbs and speak with staff there, this is what they do for a living.

Join together with friends who share this interest and take turns attending different workshops. Share the information. This works well in regards to books, CDs,and so on to keep the cost down. Take a botany class, join the Audubon or Sierra Clubs, subscribe to herbal magazines, check out your local extension office - there is a vast amount of resources for little or no cost, look for fliers ( I am notorious for picking up these at fairs, farmers markets, nurseries, health food stores, agricultural shows and on and on). Newspaper articles, magazines, television shows, and documentaries are also information sources. The point is there is information everywhere if you pay attention!

Start your own herb garden. I've grown/started many over the years due to multiple moves. Last year after unearthing an incredibly beautiful rock pile I transformed it into an herb center. It is relatively small but individual "pockets" allowed me to plant all kinds of different herbs! (Side note: many herbs are invasive so be mindful where and how these are planted - know growing information for each plant you want to grow). Some herbs can take years to become established and usable for medicine, so start now.

Nature walks. Begin now educating yourself on what grows in your area; learn the habitat and growing cycle. Throughout the year I'm constantly looking at plants that grow in my area - what it looks like in the spring all the way to maturity and harvesting. Even in the winter as some plants are still visible above the snow and I take note of its location so that I can return during the growing season. Understand how these plants grow and spread, so as not to annihilate its growth cycle when harvesting. Many wild plants are extinct or on the verge due to over harvesting. Take note of the location of the plants you find and its abundance. One of the biggest challenges is plant identification! Be absolutely certain you know the plant before harvesting!

All inclusive books with good pictures, drawings, uses, preparation etc. is hard to come by. That is not to say there aren't good ones out there you just may need more than one reference guide. Again talk with knowledgeable people. I personally learn better from being shown than reading. When I discover or am shown a new plant I do extensive research to make sure it is exactly what I think it is. The Google image search is great in this area because numerous pictures are available all in one place.

Once you are confident of what a plant looks like, where it grows, how it grows (wild/cultivated/both), its uses, administration (teas, tinctures, poultices etc), side effects, interactions with other herbs and/or pharmaceutical medications and any allergies associated with the plant move on to the next one. (You do not have memorize this information but have it available for reference either in your resource book or library.) For example, one of my favorite herbs is Echinacea (boost your immune system). I have used it for years but last year was the first time I've tried growing it. Another favorite is chamomile (helps with digestion and sleep) - easy to grow and use.

This past summer I studied my lawn! There are many "weeds" that grow naturally and have multiple uses. For example common plantain: rub the leaf on bug bites to relieve the itch, apply to burns and can be used a a diuretic just to name a few of its uses. If you are looking for a specific remedy, see if the plant(s) grow in your area and start looking! Last year my son got into poison ivy which resulted in quite a rash. A local man was selling an once of sweet fern for $12.00! It grows naturally in my area. Being a tightwad I researched what it looked like and its habitat and set out hunting for it. I finally located it, harvested some, prepared it and it worked wonderfully with no side effects.[JWR Adds: It goes without saying, but for liability reasons, I must remind readers that using your lawn as a source for medicinal herbs or salad greens is an option only if you use no chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or weed killers.]

This can and is time intensive but well worth the effort. The best way to approach it that I have found is to incorporate it into my daily life. No matter where I was or what I was doing outside I constantly scoped0ed out the surrounding plants. At night I would search the internet and/or my books to identify the plants. The sweet fern for example, and wild blueberries, both of which grow in the wild locally. Knowing what sweet fern looks like and the type of area where it grows allowed me to locate it easily which happened to be in the same vicinity as the blueberries! Can you say multitasking? I also discovered this winter while reading a "weed" book that one of the "weeds" that all but consumed my garden, one that we tirelessly ripped up, is a wild edible plant! Another popular "wee" of our garden turned out to have medicinal properties.

I by no means have extensive leisure time to devote to medicinal plants. Last year we had a huge garden with over twenty-five different varieties growing which I canned, froze, ate and gave away, picked wild and cultivated blueberries, strawberries, apples, (making jellies, applesauce, and freezing) and what my garden didn't produce, I purchased form local farmers markets. My significant other built a sizable three room addition that was completed in about tow and half months. We picked, cleaned, froze and pickled fiddleheads. I mention this only to help others be aware of what can be accomplished when you set your mind to it. As survival focused individuals, we are all busy! Things are going to be busier as the economic crisis gathers speed and we tirelessly work to prepare. I did sit down and endlessly study I plug away at it whenever time allows - even during the winter months. It does not matter how much you know or don't know. Start where you are at, keep it simple, be consistent (even if it means consistently inconsistent!). If you learn only one plant a month that is twelve in a year's time and that is significant! BTW, if you have specific health issues tailor your research to plants that address them. Often insurance companies do not allow you to refill prescriptions before your supply is down to less than a one week supply. So get going, good luck, and God bless!

PS: If you have insurance, now is the time to take care of your ignored health issues, as it will be much more difficult and expensive after the SHTF.

Starter list of books: (These are just a few suggestions to start with. You can design your library to fit your needs)

A Field Guide To Medicinal Plants and Herbs - (for your region) from the Peterson Field Guide Series
Tom Brown's Field Guide - Wilderness Survival by Tom Brown
Back To Eden by Jethro Kloss
The Complete Guide to Herbal Medicines by Charles W. Fetrow and Juan R. Avila
The Herb Book by John B. Lust
A field guide to weeds in your area. [Ask your USDA Agricultural Extension Office Agent. They often have free reprints and fact sheets on weeds available]

Herbs you can start with: (The information that follows the herbs is very brief and general. Be sure to do your own detailed research)
Aloe: Vera -- Easy to grow/maintain houseplant; a must for every household - burns
Cayenne: powder -- Gel cap or spice bottle; bleeding (internally and externally), shock
Comfrey -- plant/salve for wounds, cuts, scrapes
Goldenseal -- Supplement/salve, fighting infection
Echinacea purpea (Purple Cone Flower) -- Boosts immune system
Peppermint -- Stomach ailments
White Willow Bark -- Same active ingredient as aspirin

Original: http://www.survivalblog.com/2009/03/herbal_cures_at_your_doorstep.html

Securing Your Valuables when the SHTF

Original Post: Surviving in Argentina: Hidden Safe

I saw this posting over at Surviving in Argentina and thought I would expand on their thoughts a little deeper. Please check out the original post when you get the chance. FerFal suggested having two safes in your home- one "visible" and one completely hidden from view. The premise being that if or when someone forced you to open the safe you would open and present only the safe that is visible, thus minimizing your losses. Sounds like a good idea, as long as you are able to keep your cool and not reveal the existence of the other, hidden safe through nervousness.

I dug around a bit and found a couple of ideas for the hidden safes. Here are some novel ideas for creating in home caches to protect and secure your valuables.

  • Place your valuables in a big ziplock bag and duct tape it to the back of the refrigerator.
  • Build hidden compartments above the inside of closet door.
  • Construct a false drain in the floor of your garage or basement, you can place a pipe full of money where no one can see. (Just make sure your cash is stored in a waterproof container or baggie, in case an unknowing person tries to use the drain!)
  • Dig a hole and hide your valuables in a pvc pipe to ensure the elements do not damage them. Just don't forget the exact location of your cache.
  • A Return-Air Vent – Use the face plate of an air vent to conceal a cubby you can stash valuables in.
  • Frozen food –Ever hear of the term, cold, hard cash? This is probably where it came from.
  • Tennis ball – cut open a tennis ball, stashing your valuables inside, and then placing the ball back between two others in their original tube container. Just make sure that the goods don’t rattle when you shake them. (You can stuff some tissue paper in with jewelry or coins to hide their sound.)
  • A fake electrical Outlet – Do not use a “real” outlet. You can use a method similar to the return-air vent technique to create your own wall cubby that most smart burglars won’t attempt to touch.
This is just a simple list of possible solutions to this problem. Personally, I like the tennis ball method. If there are any Law Enforcement members out there that could offer their expertise on this subject , I would appreciate it. Also, If you have a great idea and would be willing to share it, please do.

Additional Reading:
Reinforcing the Doors to your Home
Prepare Yourself for Crime
10 Things to Help you Prepare for Hard Times

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SurviveTheWorst/~3/N-zptTj9QsQ/securing-your-valuables-when-shtf.html

Heating & Lighting in an Emergency Situation

By Eric Holm

What will you do if you loss your lighting and heating in your home or are traveling in your car. From your house's heating going out on cold winter's night to your car breaking down in winter and leaving you stranded for hours, the need to create heat to ward off frostbite and hypothermia is of paramount importance.

If your home heating goes out and is not likely to be repaired within a few hours, you will want to take into consideration not only the ambient temperature but the age and health of your family members. One of the most efficient ways of heating in an emergency situation is through the use of solar blankets and/or solar sleeping bags. Solar blankets are aluminized and are handy in many situations. Not only can a solar blanket keep you warm in a pinch, but if you are stranded in your car on a hot day you can use the solar blanket to deflect the sun and keep your car cooler by putting it in the windows that the sun is directly hitting. A good solar blanket will retain about 90% of your bodies heat. You will be amazed at the heat when you wrap yourself up in a silver solar blanket and feel the warmth.

Also available for your heating in an emergency situation needs is a portable water heater. Portable water heaters connect to your garden hose and heat the water in a matter of seconds using propane. This can be useful for many reasons, but think of the hot cocoa producing capabilities on a cold night without heat. The pump runs on a rechargeable battery, so make sure you have the ability to recharge.

Further products available for your heating in an emergency situation needs include hand warmers. These handy little gadgets work much like the ice packs you find in first aid kits only they provide heat. If your lighting is also compromised at the same time as your heat, you will want to make sure you have several high powered flashlights and lanterns on hand. Candles need to used with great care and with proper ventilation. Instead, stock up on battery powered lighting for your emergency lighting needs. Think about your Emergency Lighting and Heating needs before you need them.

Emergency and Disaster Supplies has a nice selection of emergency lighting and heating products. Our sister store Great Outdoor Product Store has additional lighting and heating products.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Eric_Holm

Additional Information:

Lights Out? Not if you have an Emergency Restoration Plan

Beck Can't Debunk FEMA Camps

Securing Your Valuables When the SHTF

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SurviveTheWorst/~3/Qoj4awILFm8/heating-lighting-in-emergency-situation.html

Involving Family in Prepping

Native Persimmon Harvest

Originally uploaded by nodigio

In the last post, I talked a bit about forming a local survival group and briefly mentioned some ways to persuade others to join you: the neighborhood watch, the block potluck/BBQ, safety classes, etc.

Before you start seeking group members outside your home, you first need to get the support of those who live with you – roommates, significant others, spouses, children, parents… The people inside your home need to be willing participants. They need to understand what you’re doing and why, and to know it’s not just a passing phase. There will be compromises and you may not get to do things exactly the way you want to do them, but you can work together to prioritize what’s important and develop a timeline for implementing various changes.

If necessary, use local events to help you in your persuasion. If there were a rash of burglaries or vandalism nearby, talk about keeping the home safe and what to do if your home is invaded. If you pass a bad car accident, talk about car maintenance and safety. If you get a flat, have other family members fix it while you supervise so they learn how to do it. If there’s a storm and a brief power outage (a day or two), talk about the need to have back-up power, food, and water.

Ease into the discussions about survival by using current events world wide as well. We haven’t had another actual terrorist strike on US soil since 9/11, and honestly, terrorist strikes are the least of our worries about safety. We have the economic meltdown (which is more disastrous for the wealthy and those who overspent their income than the rest of us, but it’s still a talking point), we have a surge in hate groups forming, we have police storming the wrong homes under the no-knock warrants, we have contaminated food supplies, and each of these is a valid reason and way to start a conversation about safety and survival.

Talk about the things that are immediate concerns: credit scores, food costs, bills, home invasions, traffic, neighborhood watches, safe places for the children to play, storm safety, car safety, and so on. Find the places that are of the greatest concerns, and start there. You don’t need to start off building an arsenal and barricading the house with cases of toilet paper. Once you’ve identified the areas that most concern your household, make plans to protect those concerns.

I’m partial to flip charts, but am beginning to enjoy the conveniences of a Powerpoint presentation. Others may prefer spreadsheets and newspaper clippings. Use whatever tools and methods you feel work best for you.

Credit card companies are dropping credit levels and raising interest rates even on those who pay on time and are a good credit risk not because your credit is bad but because their credit is bad – there are ways to fix this, by the way, so your credit score isn’t damaged because your credit card company is taking a hit. That’s part of the survival skills we sub/urbanites need to learn.

Insurance is still a useful tool. I know, I’ve posted before about ways to live without insurance. It is possible. 50 years ago, it was mostly the wealthy that had insurance. Insurance companies changed that because they make money off of collecting premiums from people who may never file a claim and investing that money so it earns interest and dividends. The policyholder doesn’t get to benefit from the insurance company’s investments unless they have to file a claim and the insurance company actually pays up on it. So, some insurance is worth having and some isn’t. Because insurance is such a complicated and occasionally necessary item, it deserves its own post. Insurance policies are a part of sub/urban survival.

Survival plans need to include something everyone in the household can relate to and will benefit each of them. Maybe only one person gets the benefit of one item, but that item still needs to be there and be seriously considered. Start slow and small with goals that can be easily achieved and completed that have positive results. This may be a plan to pay off one large bill before moving on to the next. It may be slowly building up your food and water stocks (be sure you create storage space before you acquire the food and water). It may be getting and training a security dog/pet. It may be putting in and actually maintaining a garden and harvesting and preserving its produce.

Learn new skills together. Take a credit counseling/investing/household budgeting class, or a fitness class that will provide defensive skills, a gardening class, or cooking classes. You can ease into cooking classes by visiting one of those meal assembly services.

Those meal assembly services aren’t exactly on most people’s radar as a survivalist class, but it’s a pleasant, supervised way to learn about meal preparation and storage – and you get a week or two of meals from it that can be frozen and eaten later. You pick the meals you want from a menu, set an appointment to visit the assembly kitchen, and they will set up at “stations” that have the ingredients already chopped, diced, peeled, cored, cleaned, etc., and they’ll help you assemble your meals in packaging you either bring or they provide (it varies – ask), and they’ll give you pre-printed cooking instructions to put on the packages so when you get your meals home, you can freeze them now and eat them over the next week or two. If you’ve never cooked before, you learn a lot by using one of these services and can then use your new skills to develop your own menus, shopping lists, and stocking needs. One bonus about using a meal assembly service to learn about meal preparations, menu planning, and meal preservation is that it doesn’t feel like taking a survival class, and it’s a pleasant way to ease into it. Some of these meal assembly places have festive atmospheres, offer snacks, and for the adult-only places, wine as well.

Get your kids involved by getting them in bike safety classes (your local police department may offer free classes), and organizing to create a safe place for them to play that’s not in the street. They can also learn at a meal assembly place that’s kid friendly – and they’ll often like it better than learning at home. Have your kids enroll in a martial arts program or a fencing school and take them to the gun range on Kid Days.

Once your housemates get accustomed to doing things that are survival related, you can step up the plans and preparations and discuss it more frankly with them. If it helps, you can use my post on the Survival Pyramid to show that most of the survival skills they need are ones that will make their lives better, easier, happier, and safer while giving them more freedom. This will particularly appeal to the teens in the family – if they know that you will give them more freedom if they learn and demonstrate they understand basic survival skills, they will learn those skills. More importantly, they’ll share those skills with their friends, so you may keep a larger group of people safer than you expected.

If you want the people in your household to be serious about learning and practicing survival skills, you have to demonstrate daily that you are serious: exercise daily to improve your strength and stamina, improve your diet, practice health wellness, keep the batteries fresh in smoke alarms, do regular maintenance on your car and bicycle, and budgeting out a specific amount after bills are paid to spend on survival and disaster supplies.

Once they are in the habit of thinking about safety and survival, start planning family activities. Let each household member plan, coordinate, and lead preparedness activities. These don’t have to be military grade field maneuvers. They can be fun things like setting up a ham radio or creating a small radio station and broadcasting original content, or planning a meal or meeting, or making your own sodas or soap or jellies.

If you have kids, they’ll get their friends involved. If their friends are involved, their parents may be interested. If their parents are interested, you may have a survival group forming up before you know it.

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/03/04/involving-family-in-prepping/

Edible Container Gardening

Golden Globe Tomatoes

Originally uploaded by nodigio

How to grow your edible garden in containers. You don’t have to use fancy expensive flower pots. The plastic tubs sold as wash basins work quite well and cheap plastic serving trays do well to catch drips.

First, drill or poke drainage holes in the bottoms of the plastic bowls/tubs with a drill or craft knife. Put down a layer of cheese cloth or window screening, then add about an inch of gravel (the large aquarium gravel is just fine), then fill the bowl nearly to the rim with a Mel’s Mix that’s half compost and ¼ vermiculite, ¼ peatmoss. Pat the soil down a bit. Sprinkle your seeds thinly on the surface of the soil, then take a small amount of compost in your hands and rub them over the seeds to lightly cover them. Water gently with a fine spray so as not to dislodge the seeds. Keep the soil moist and out of the sun for now. When the seedlings are 3 inches high, thin them out and place the bowls in sunlight or under grow lights. Harvest when ready.

You can reseed fast growing crops like radishes, basil, carrots, dill, and lettuces every couple of weeks and add a bit more compost when you harvest so you have salad gardens and herbs growing year round.

Basils, chervil, fennel, dill, coriander, summer savory, thyme, mint, radishes, carrots, lettuces, tomatoes, all thrive in pots. So do sage and rosemary, but they prefer a little sand in their compost.

For greater veggie adventures, you can grow bush beans, chard, cucumber, scallions, radicchio, arugula, broccolini, kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, and mustard greens in pots with 3 hours of sunlight or grow lights. Beets, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots need 4 hours of sunlight. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, and cabbages need 6 hours of sunlight or time under a grow light. Melons can be grown up trellises with mesh slings to support the fruits – and with 7 – 8 hours of sunlight or grow lights. These require larger pots than the herbs and small veggies, of course, and many require trellises.

Combine large, slow growing crops with smaller, faster growing ones. Fill in the spaces between cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli and other large crops with scallions, radishes, cilantro, mesclun mix of lettuces, and plant trellised veggies in the back of the pot so it doesn’t block sunlight from the rest.

If you have your garden on your patio, you may need to protect the tender plants from wind and frost. Pretty room divider screens can block winds if they are placed so they don’t block precious sunlight. Screens with decorative holes in them large enough to allow sunlight through yet small enough to dampen the eager wind are good choices, and making wind screens of translucent fabrics can be pretty and effective. Cloche coverings are traditional to use to cover tender plants when the nights get frosty in early spring and late fall. These are usually made of clay or glass, but I find lampshades work every bit as well and add a touch of whimsy to the potted garden. Lampshades can be purchased at garage sales and flea markets in many sizes and recovered with old shower curtains. The bottoms of the shower curtains may be moldy and ragged, but the part up near the curtain rings is usually still in excellent condition – and it doesn’t matter if the holes are ripped out. Also, tomato cages can be trimmed to fit over pots (upside down!) and covered in bird netting or mesh to keep birds from harvesting your fruits. These are easy to lift off when you’re ready to harvest, allows the plants to get their sun, and keeps them safe from marauding feathered thieves. Me, I generally plant a few for the birds and then I don’t feel so bad about keeping the rest for myself.

Potted plants need more moisture because the wind dries them out more. I like to wrap the clay pots in peat moss to help hold in moisture, and set up low wind screens. Clustering pots close together helps reduce some of this, and using mulch on top also helps prevent drying out. Putting small birdbaths among them with water or setting up small fountains among them will help keep them moist, too. The “shower” or “mist” setting on a sprayer nozzle is best to use on container plants because it’s less likely to dislodge the soil or disturb the roots.

Mel’s mix, heavier on the compost in a ½ blended compost - ¼ vermiculite - ¼ peat moss blend is best for potted plants, and they will need diluted organic slow-release fertilizer throughout the growing season.

Potatoes are a special case. I like to grow mine in large 30 gallon yard clean up bags because the bags are sturdier. Just cut a couple of drainage holes in the bottom of the bags, roll the sides down so at least 2/3 of the bag is rolled, then fill the bottom third with about 4 inches of the modified for containers Mel’s Mix. Cut your seed potatoes so there’s one “eye” per piece, and let the cut bits (called chits) dry for at least 24 hours. Plant your cut potato chits eyes up in the bag – 5 chits per bag – 1 in the middle and 4 around. When the plants get to be 6 – 8 inches tall, roll the sides of the bag up enough to top the bag’s soil with either more soil or straw (I do soil for the first 2 roll up and sometimes first 2, then straw after that). Do this each time until your bag is filled up. Let the plants bloom and wither at this point, Once the leaves have turned brown, it’s time to harvest. Just slit the bag open and let your potatoes spill out. Brush off the dirt and remove the underground shoots, then let the potatoes air dry out of the sunlight for 2 – 3 days. Wash the potatoes only when you’re ready to use them.

You can also grow some plants “upside down” – tomatoes do well, as do cucumbers, peppers, nasturtiums, strawberries and any trailing herb. Peas and beans are interesting when grown “upside down”. You need special equipment to grow them this way. It’s really cheaper and easier to just buy the Topsy Turvey or Babylon Grow Bags because they come with all the hardware and special holding equipment that will keep the plants from falling out of the bottom of the bag. If you want a more permanent container and money is no object, you could use the Upside Down Garden. These all need lots and lots of water – a gallon a day each, and they are heavy so they will need very sturdy stands or supports from which to hang. Plywood and drywall are far too weak to support these plants so don’t even try to hang them from those. If you’re in an apartment where you can’t put in hooks, these deck stands work well.

Using hanging space as well as containers will give you more growing room in a smaller space. If the area is shady, light can be supplemented with grow lights. Leafy plants need at least 3 hours of sunlight a day, root plants need 4 – 5 hours of sunlight a day, and fruiting plants need 6 – 8 hours of sunlight a day. The more light they get, of course, the better they’ll grow, but you can get decent crops even from minimal light.

Remember, container grown plants will need more water and more fertilizer than plants grown in raised beds or the ground. They will need windbreaks and frost protection. If you have to move them for sunlight, they will need wheels of some sort. On the plus side, they will be less likely to have bugs, will be easier to harvest, and you’ll have your own food supply close to hand.

Original: http://gallimaufree.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/edible-container-gardening/

Survival in a Low Cost, Ready Made Dome Shelter?

Because of the diving downturn of the economy, people around the country are losing their homes. Some are living in cars or vans. Sure, we can say the media tells us about these things because they sensationalize the negatives, but these awful situations really are happening. I remember months ago reading about tent cities springing up in California and other places around the country, but the media doesn’t report on that at present. They want to tell us it’s bad, but they have their limitations it seems.

What if there were a low cost shelter that could serve as a home, and it wasn’t a camping tent or car? I’m happy to tell you there really is such a thing, and it’s produced by an organization called World Shelters. They offer shelters for transitional shelter needs, as they put it. Much of what they do involves offering temporary dome shelters for people in need after natural disasters and in Third World or less developed countries.

So why should you be interested? You can get one of their dome shelters for yourself. What if you could have a home for the price of a low cost used car? Whether you or someone you know is in danger of losing a home, or whether you’re in need of a temporary shelter while building your permanent homestead in the country, you should consider one of these dome shelters. What if there was a whole dome community of refuge seekers on a piece of land in the middle of nowhere?

Losing a home can be a devastating experience. Consider the U-dome. It’s 200 square feet in size, flame retardant, UV resistant, weather tight, and makes use of shingled construction. Panels form internal support struts. Walls are durable. It comes with a standard 24” x 72” rv-style screen & panel door. Window and vents are included. There are joist floor and platform plans. All tools and fasteners are included. Assembly is simple. This U-dome can withstand high winds, heavy rain, and light snow. It’s light weight for shipping as well. All this can be had starting at about $2,500. Accessories can be added, making versatile possibilities for survival a reality.

World Shelters makes products that are both easy to construct and easy to transport for commercial or personal use, relief for U.S. homeless, or international relief efforts. Plus, purchase of a U-dome for personal use helps provide shelter for refugees and disaster responses. As they note on their web site, if you don’t need a dome yourself, but want to sponsor a dome for someone in need, you can securely donate through paypal, and it’s tax-deductible.

You can view pictures of the U-dome and other shelters and learn more about World Shelters by clicking here.

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Original: http://destinysurvival.com/2009/03/04/survival-in-a-low-cost-ready-made-dome-shelter/

Survival Gardening Doesn't Have to Take a Lot of Space

One of the things I like best about gardening is the versatility it offers. Plants grow about anywhere and in about anything, as long as you give them what they need, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of space.

If you don’t have a piece of land or even a big yard, don’t worry. Dorothy Ainsworth demonstrates numerous possibilities for gardening in small spaces. There’s no reason you can’t grow a little of your own food wherever you are.

Garden spaces for small places

By Dorothy Ainsworth

Garden location

First of all, you don't need acreage to grow most vegetables and fruits. You can have a customized garden almost anywhere that you can fill containers with soil and have enough sunlight drenching your plants for at least six hours a day—even on an apartment deck. Many edibles can be grown beautifully in wine barrels cut in half, deep cedar planter boxes, window boxes, hanging baskets, terra cotta clay pots, plastic pots, or any other well-drained container—even an old bathtub or wheelbarrow. You can put casters on wooden containers and roll them around to follow the sun, and/or make a simple wooden box with long legs like stilts so you can harvest herbs at waist level.

If your growing space is extremely limited, you can put up trellises along a fence or wall or garage and grow vines and sprawling plants vertically—such as cucumbers, squash, and pole beans.

Read the whole article here: www.backwoodshome.com/articles2/ainsworth116.html

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine. www.backwoodshome.com 1-800-835-2418

You can also grow hydroponically indoors in a basement, garage, or apartment without using soil. Click here to explore the possibilities for you.

Or you can use square foot gardening to save space. Click on the picture of the book, All New Square Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew, below to go to the page with more info and place your order.

If you thought your survival gardening dreams were hampered by limited space, you owe it to yourself to discover what you can grow in small spaces.

Can you still find frogs to eat?

By Joseph Parish

I recently read that the high demand for frog legs for human consumption has been making these creatures a bit on the scarce side. It appears that there is a vast decline in frog population in the wild due to over exploitation of them for foods both in America and Europe. It will not be long before the number of catches that you can have will be limited. In fact I fully expect that you will be required to have a Frog license just the same as a fishing license is currently required.

Years ago Frog Legs were considered to be a French delicacy. This is not the case any longer. You can find Frogs legs on many school cafeteria menus in Europe, in food markets in many Asian countries and readily available in a lot of the more expensive restaurants here in America.

Amphibians are generally the low creature on the food chain and when ever there are drastic impacts to our environment the frogs will be the first to know. Chemical changes in our environment can easily create three legged frogs before mankind even notices that something is wrong. As you can see not only are these creatures hampered by the environmental factures but now their numbers are declining due to man’s massive appetite towards their legs.

Market statistics reveal that there are between 200 million and in excess of 1 billion frog legs consumed each year. Indonesian area represents the largest exporter of these amphibians. The market used to be more of a seasonal one however in recent years it has expanded to year round trading. Unfortunately for the frog population there are no hard and fast records in which we can reference in concerns for the frog harvesting.

In the event that you can still manage to locate some of these tasty morsels I have enclosed a favorite recipe of mind that you are sure to love called Cajun style Frog Legs


16 frog legs

1 cup of oil or shortening

1/2 cup of all purpose flour

3 cups of whole milk

1 teaspoon of paprika

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, garlic juice and ground cayenne pepper

A dash of white pepper

A dash of oregano

A touch of rosemary

And of course salt and pepper to taste

You will first need to skin, clean and completely rinse your frog legs well. Cover the legs with whole milk which has the garlic juice mixed in with it. Refrigerate these legs overnight.

In the morning pat the legs dry and season them with the paprika, cayenne, onion powder, black pepper and salt. Add the white pepper, rosemary and oregano to the all purpose flour. Heat the shortening in a large skillet. Lightly flour each frog leg and fry it until it takes on a golden brown color.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish

Original: http://survival-training.blogspot.com/2009/03/can-you-still-find-fogs-to-eat.html

Homemade cat food

By Joseph Parish

It was not unusual for my wife to awaken early in the morning and make our shar pei dogs Bubba and Bubbles a warm breakfast of oatmeal. This was just about a daily experience for these dogs. Bubba and Bubbles are now gone and we no longer have dogs to cater to.

About several months ago we were grocery shopping at our local Wal-Mart store and a couple had a small kitten. They told my wife that they were about to drop the feline off in the dumpster because they could not afford to care for it. Being the caring type of person she is she took the kitten and brought it home. That kitten is no longer a small kitten but rather is growing into a healthy and well adjusted cat at this time.

It was not long ago that we heard in the news how pet owners were having their cherished animals die as a result of tainted food coming out of China. These foods had some very deadly additives in their composition and as such many people began to make their own dog and cat foods from scratch. Needless to say my wife takes great pains in preparing her cat food just as she did with the dogs. Here is a brief sample of how she prepares the cats daily meals.

A caring pet owner should easily be able to spare a few hours per week to create their pet’s food and store it in their freezer. It takes very little to make small patty servings of various cooked meats, some grains and a few vegetables which are then dried. When it comes time for the animal’s meal you merely have to crumble it up for them in their food dish.

First you have to understand that cats require approximately 33 percent protein to be in their food so you will want to add a good amount of chicken and turkey products in their meals. You can always freeze all your weekly chicken or turkey leftovers until it is time to make “Mr. Kitties” food.

Start by tossing your chicken or turkey carcasses into a large stock pot filled with water. Cook the bones down until you have a solid base for your cat food. If you have any chunks of chicken or turkey to add to the mixture do so now. Add several cubes of butter or margarine to the stock and let it cook for a while. When you feel that it is completely finished cooking take it and let it cool sufficiently and remove any of the bones. Add a container of cottage cheese or perhaps a cup of instant milk mix. If you have any older cheese available in your fridge you could add a bit of that to the stew also. If you have any plain yogurt place it in your pot now.

Add the oatmeal to thicken the soup. You can also dump a can of inexpensive tuna into the pot. When your cooking is finished and properly cooled you can drop it little by little into your blender or food processor. Ladle it out into small muffin size portions and freeze it. Take out only the amount that you will need to feed your cat for the day.

Your cat is sure to enjoy this treat and you will feel better knowing you are providing your loving pet with safe and wholesome foods.

Copyright @ 2009 Joseph Parish

Original: http://survival-training.blogspot.com/2009/03/homemade-cat-food.html