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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

New hardiness zones map coming out

The USDA puts out a new hardiness zone map about every fifteen years, and although there was one due out a few years ago, they are apparently just now getting around to it. There are appreciable changes to the zones, and you may want to be apprised of them now at the beginning of most gardening seasons…it could well affect not only what varieties you choose to plant, but also you may discover that there are types of plants that you may be able to grow that you couldn’t before. Other considerations are brought up by Warming shifts gardeners’ maps at USAToday.com. The article also has a really neat Adobe Flash Player graphic where you can run a slider over the map, changing it from the old map to the new map. Quite impressive!

Hardiness zone maps comparison

Do take this information with a grain of salt; just because the USDA says your zone has changed does not necessarily mean it has appreciably affected your microclimate. That information is probably best available from your local extension agency; do check with them, they are very helpful folks. Generally speaking, if there is something that has not performed well in your garden the few years the information on the new climate zone map is not likely to make much difference.

You might also want to take a look at The Old Farmer’s Almanac Outdoor Planting Table . Don’t forget to select your location if you don’t live in Boston, MA which is the default table. Ultimately, probably the best way to tell when to plant what is by soil temperature. A soil thermometer is possibly one of the best garden tools you can pick up cheaply and easily. I’m personally very fond of Territorial Seed Company , not only for their excellent seeds and seed selection but also because when you click on any given variety of seed you can scroll down, click on “More Information” and read just about every pertinent bit of basic information you could need for that type of vegetable—like this information:

BUSH BEAN CULTURE: Bush beans are one of the most trouble-free garden crops and mature just ahead of pole beans. Beans like warm soil and will not germinate if the soil temperature is below 60°F. Optimum soil temperature range is 65-85°F. You can expect emergence in 8-16 days depending on the variety. In a well worked bed, plant the seeds 2-3 inches apart and 1 inch deep in rows 18-36 inches apart. Thinning is rarely necessary. Beans are relatively light feeders. One cup of our complete fertilizer per 10 row feet will provide adequate nutrition. Excess nitrogen results in excess foliage with poor pod set and delayed maturity. Optimum pH is in the range of 5.5-6.5, mildly acidic. Beans are shallow rooted and can require up to 1/4 inch of water a day during hot weather. Mulch around the roots to help conserve moisture.
DISEASE: Beans are subject to numerous diseases. Avoid wetting the foliage, remove plants at the end of the year, and practice a 4-year crop rotation to prevent potential problems.
INSECTS: Mexican bean beetles and bean weevils can significantly damage young seedlings. To treat, dust them with Rotenone. Optimum soil conditions foster vigorous plants, which can help plant growth outpace insect damage.
HARVEST: Green beans are ready for harvest about 2 weeks after bloom. Pick when the pods are nearly full size and the seeds are still small. Pods at this stage have firm, crispy flesh and are low in fiber content. Keep plants well picked to extend harvest and increase yield. Plant short rows for fresh eating; plant longer rows to have additional beans for canning and freezing. A 20 foot row will feed the average family of 4, unless heavy canning is anticipated.
SEED SPECS: Minimum germination standard: 80%. Usual seed life: 2-3 years. One ounce plants 12-15 row feet, 1/2 pound for 100 row feet; 1/2 pound is 8 ounces. Seed counts are listed in the variety description.

Even a first time gardener can be confident of at least some production just with information like the above. You can even guesstimate how much seed you need to plant how many feet of that vegetable. A valuable resource!

I got some edible podded peas planted last week-end; I’ll be planting more peas (regular garden peas this time; Little Marvel) this week, if it will just not snow when I’ve planned to go out. The new hardiness maps coming out notwithstanding, this feels like a very late spring to me. Peas, fortunately, prefer cool weather and an early start, and make a great bellwether for the rest of your garden planting.

I’ve also been fondling my seed bank lately, and soon every available flat surface will I’m sure be pressed into service to hold real, honest seed flats—in addition to empty cottage cheese cartons, milk jugs cut into mini-greenhouses and deep styrofoam trays for presprouting. I’m always hard pressed not to seed in an entire package of tomato seeds, but I know that’s crazy…especially in light of the fact that I have accumulated ten varieties and still only have the balcony space or guerilla gardening for planting options. Growing tomatoes delights me, even though I don’t care to eat them. :-)

I’m also seeding in my cole crops, specifically the brussel sprouts which need a long growing season. Swiss chard “Bright Lights” will be pretty on the balcony and good to eat, too; I’ll also start my Pak Choi for early spring greens…takes up little space and is so tasty in stir fry! In about another six weeks it’ll be time to direct seed the squashes, cucumbers and melons…and I know that time will just fly by.

Have started on your garden? What do you have planted or planned? Are you planting enough to put some by? Are you planning on doing any guerilla gardening with any extra seeds or starts?

Original: http://ourright2selfreliance.today.com/2009/04/02/new-hardiness-zones-map-coming-out/

Preparedness in Print

Heres a couple of books I have acquired in the last 2 months. Keep in mind that the books you choose should have far reaching purpose, by that I mean they will provide you with information in the Post Apocalyptic environment, not just in preparation for it.

Build Your Own Underground Root Cellar
Author: Phyllis Hobson
This is a small 32 page book that gives some pretty good detailed instructions on a root cellar.

Handy Farm Devices: And how to make them
Author: Rolf Cobleigh
A handy book but the instructions are small and not to detailed. It's more of an idea book from way back in the day. When there are no more hardware stores, this book will be handy.

FM 21-76 US Army Survival Manual
Ok, so I've had this for awhile, since 79 to be exact when they issued it to me. The stuff in there will NEVER get old. You can get this at Barnes & Nobles now, saw it there on display in front of the store and thought that was kind of ominous. There are plenty of knock off's with names that come close, so be wary.

Water Storage: Tanks, Cisterns, Aquifers, and Ponds for Domestic Supply, Fire and Emergency Use--Includes How to Make Ferrocement Water Tanks
Author: Art Ludwig

This is an awesome book. I was looking for ways to store large amounts of rainwater for my garden and this did it. The projects range from small to crazy large, but you need to learn to store large amounts of water if you are to survive. 1 gallon per day per person is the recommended amount just to stay alive, cook, and be healthy. What about your food source? The garden needs water too.

I try to buy my books used on Amazon, or at local used book stores. You can also try the couple of on line book trading sites as another source.

Original: http://newjerseypreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/preparedness-in-print.html

Ammo, the new currency and how to store it.

There are plenty of folks who say that Ammunition will become the best barter currency around in a Post Apocalyptic World. This may be true and in that case, you'd better have a lot of it lying around. With that in mind I asked a few friends how they store their ammo and I got pretty much the same response from them all. Ammo boxes. They are cheap, readily available from surplus stores, and can hold large amounts with out breaking. You should also think about magazine storage. A friend of mine was quick to point out that storing your ammo in loaded magazines is a good idea, just buy lots and lots of them, load them up and put them on the shelf. the wear and tear on a spring in the magazine comes from constant loading and unloading of the spring, not from being in a compressed state fro long periods of time. So consider that with your bulk storage options as well.

A few things to remember when preparing for storage:

  • LOW Humidity: If you are storing open ammo then there is little problem. But if you are storing it in it's cardboard box inside a metal ammo box, then you need to have the cardboard box sit next to a dehumidifier for awhile.
  • Temperature: This shouldn't be a problem unless you are planning to keep it in the oven, most ammo will survive a wide range of temperatures from -65 F to 122F. That's not to say that Ammo doesn't have an optimal temp range, but for storage most anywhere dry will be ok.
  • Rotation: Date the boxes when you put them in storage and rotate them so you are always using the oldest first. Dating the box will also help remind you of how often you need to purchase to keep your stock levels at a comfortable point.
  • Inspection: Check your stock every 12-24 months, just a spot check will do. Random boxes checked for the proper humidity levels and look for any type of corrosion or rust.
  • Clean: Make sure the ammo is clean and wiped off if you touch it before you close up the box.
I found a nice little project for you that is incredibly easy to make and cheap too! The guys over at Front Toward Enemy (where I got the idea for this post) provide nice instructions and pictures for a Single Lock Locker Box using a 40MM Ammo Can. The lock is a necessary touch, and they also reccomend a Humidity cards or discs placed inside together with a desiccant pack. The Humidity card or disc will give you a real quick way to see if you are at the 30% level, this makes your inspections fast and easy.

One final point I'd like to bring up about Ammunition storage. Keep it locked up and safe from the kids or other unfavorables who would like to relieve you of having to keep it. As always with your firearms, safety is point number one.

Front Towards Enemy, We the Armed: Ammo thread

Original: http://newjerseypreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/03/ammo-new-currency-and-how-to-store-it.html

Audio Podcast: Let’s Take a Trip Back in Time

icon for podpress Episode-170- Let's Take a Trip Back in Time [45:00m]: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download

Today folks we are dusting off Michael J. Fox’s old Delorian, dropping in some Plutonium and traveling back in time to when everyone in a small town was a survivalist and didn’t know it.

When are we going back to?

  • 1829 and life on the frontier?
  • 1880 during the Indian wars and the rebuilding after The War Between The States?
  • 1918 dealing with the Influenza Pandemic?
  • 1935 in the middle of The Great Depression?
  • May be the 50s as the nation began to prosper after WWII?

Nope none of those, we only need a little Plutonium 235 because we are just taking a short trip back to 1986-1990 to my teenage years living in the three towns of Jonestown, Minersville and Pottsville in the coal region of Pennsylvania.

Listen today as I take you through a typical year back then, count how many survival skills you hear that we consider part of the survivalist lifestyle today. In 1986 in the Appalation Mountains of Pennsylvania this wasn’t survivalism, it was just what we did.

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/survivalpcast/~3/gdU5R7MYZDs/lets-take-a-trip-back-in-time

Horseradish from Field to Table

By Joseph Parish

Horseradish is cultivated for its dense, fleshy white, hard root. When ready for processing it displays a coarse yellowish-brown skin with a pale fleshy body. This member of the mustard family matures to about twelve inches long and is shaped somewhat as a carrot. The roots are usually absent of the characteristic pungent bite and aroma until the contained oil is released by grating and it then easily brings forth tears to ones eyes. When horseradish is prepared fresh from the root it has a much sharper zest than its commercially prepared cousin.

A review of the biblical book of Exodus mentions horseradish as one of the bitter herbs. Horseradish originated in the geographical region of Western Asia and Eastern Europe. It has been known for centuries as a medicinal herb readily used for illnesses ranging from gout to the common coughs. Travelers and traders ultimately transported the horseradish roots to England and the Scandinavian countries, where it received undisputed honors as a sauce used in the preparation of beef. Today there exists no place on earth where horseradish has not been grown.

It is readily accessible year round however sporadically it may be difficult to locate since prepared horseradish has taken over as a fashionable condiment. The root is usually harvested in the springtime and late fall.

When decide upon a horseradish root for home use, ensure that the one you are selecting is firm and has no soft spots on its flesh. If you do not plan to use the root immediately it can be stored in your refrigerator. Simply, wrap the root up in a dampened paper towel and place it inside a paper lunch bag. When packaged this way the root will last for several weeks in your refrigerator. To discourage condensation which tends to promote rot always use a paper bag and never the more common plastic ones. Should you notice that the root is starting to develop soft spots or it is shriveling up prepare it immediately. Prepared horseradish keeps a long time however, it will gradually begin to lose some of its pungency flavor.

When preparing to use a fresh horseradish root rinse the root meticulously and then peel it. Peel off any green tissue as it is extremely bitter tasting and is customarily not used. In addition, if the center of your root appears to be woody and exceptionally hard then discard it. An interesting way to grate your horseradish root is by hand over your food just prior to serving, similar to grading cheese on pasta dishes. If you are preparing larger quantities you may consider the use of a food processor. Slice your root into small chunks with a sharp knife then process in the food processor until they are finely chopped. Be sure not to over process them to the point of liquidizing. During this chopping process the roots volatile oils are quickly released. Vinegar tends to stop this reaction so it is important that you immediately add some distilled vinegar to stabilize the flavor and prevent the mixture from turning brown. For milder horseradish, vinegar may be added immediately. Should you desire a slightly sweet taste to your horseradish you may try adding grated turnip or a small bit of apple as well as a pinch or two of sugar. If you desire a stronger finished product add a touch of garlic cloves or a little mustard.

There are several varieties of horseradish available in the specialty shops and supermarkets. These selections include Horseradish sauce, Cream Style Horseradish, Beet Horseradish and the Dehydrated style Horseradish. The varieties vary slightly in their texture.

You can use your grated horseradish on sauces, being exceptionally favorable mixed in a tomato based sauce, or as an accompaniment to shellfish such as crabs, shrimp or oysters. I have also heard of it being used in mashed potatoes or in tuna. Some people brag of mixing it in their egg salad. It goes without saying that it is excellent when used with roast beef. Serve only the freshest of horseradish. To do this follow the guidelines listed below.

  • Never store up on horseradish. Buy just the amount that you would use in a reasonable length of time.

  • To protect its freshness store in a tightly enclosed container in your refrigerator.

  • Since horseradish tends to tarnish silver always serve it in a ceramic or glass bowl.

Now that you have the fundamentals of horseradish down let’s actually make some homemade prepared horseradish at this time. The canning recipe I am about to give you will make 4 half pint jars of homemade horseradish.

You will need the following list of ingredients:

1 cup of white vinegar
1 tsp of pickling salt
1 tsp of granulated sugar
1 tsp Fruit Fresh
3 cups of peeled and finely grated horseradish root

Due to the nature of the root oils start your preparations in a well ventilated room. Peel the horseradish root and proceed to cut it into one inch chunks. Place these one inch chunks in a food processor along with a few tablespoons of white vinegar and set the processor on fine grate. Remember to use caution when you remove the lid as the fumes will at this time be extremely strong. In a medium glass bowl combine the remaining white vinegar, the salt, sugar and the Fruit Fresh, stirring until the mixture is well dissolved. Now stir in the chopped horseradish. After completing the combination carefully ladles the mixture into sterilized half-pint jars ensuring that you leave a 1/2 inch head space for expansion. Wipe the rims of the jars clean and remove any air bubbles that you may notice with a plastic stirrer. Cap the jars and seal. Process the jars in a water bath canner for a period of 15 minutes.

Be sure to refrigerate the jars upon open them. This recipe is sure to delight any member of your family who cherishes the pungent flavor of horseradish.

Copyright @2008 Joseph Parish

Original; http://delawarepreppersnetwork.blogspot.com/2009/04/hourseradish-from-field-to-table.html

72 hour Kit-Work

Nomad's Notes- The next installment in the Survive the Worst-Basic Survival Guide. Please let me know if I've overlooked anything. thanks.

AKA- Bug out Bag

The Bug Out Bag, affectionately referred to by preppers as a BOB, is your life line when traveling. This bag should always be packed and ready to go, at a moment’s notice. I normally travel with some form of a bob at all times. The idea behind a bug out bag is that you would have enough provisions on hand to survive if you had to leave your home, work, etc. on a moment’s notice. In this type of situation, the only thing each member of your family would grab is their bug out bag. Knick-knacks, family pictures, and other valuables would be left where they are and everyone would instinctively grab their emergency kit. This particular kit, as opposed to the provisions you would store up for your home and car, should be lightweight. If you are relying on a bug out kit, you will more than likely be on foot, otherwise you’d be using the supplies stashed in your car.

The Bug Out bag itself should be well made. While you can get bags that are cheaply priced from various discount stores , they are often made from lightweight materials and will probably not stand the test of time. However, having a bag is better than not having one at all. Shop around and buy the strongest, most durable bag you can afford.

If you are away from your home and your car it is highly likely that the supplies on your back will be the only supplies that you have. The size of your BOB will be the deciding factor on what you carry. Space will be severely limited. Avoid, if at all possible, allowing yourself to get into situations that limit your options and movement. Is there a way to bike a few miles from outside the city in lieu of riding the subway? If so, do it. Not only will your physical conditioning improve, so will your chances of surviving an attack similar to the Japanese Subway attack. In this attack, at least a dozen people were killed, fifty people were severely injured and nearly a thousand others were temporarily blinded.

Like I said, avoid situations that limit your ability to control your personal situation. If that’s not possible carry as a minimum, the following.
  • Heavy Duty Dusk mask
  • Two or Three Bandanna's- moisten and place over your mouth to filter contaminated air as much as possible.
Your bug out bag in designed to get you from point A to point B, alive. With that said, you must begin to think of the clothes you wear as part of your shelter. Drop the stylized fashions for practical, weather specific clothes. You should always be thinking- Could I make it with just the clothes on my back? If your looking good, but would freeze to death if you car broke down in a blizzard, don’t wear it. Begin to look at your clothes as part of your survival plan. A couple of other items to have on hand.
  • Emergency Candles
  • Lighter
  • Waterproof Matches
  • Emergency Blanket
Water is heavy. It will be the heaviest thing you carry. Carry a full reusable bottle. Make sure this bottle is either a stainless steel type or, if it’s plastic, be real sure that it’s BPA free. BPA is a substance used in the manufacturing process of many plastics. BPA has been widely known to be hazardous to humans since the 1930’s. Be very suspicious of the cheaper bottles as they will, more than likely, contain BPA. Your water bottle may be an area where you will want to splurge a little. In addition to the bottle, I recommend carrying the following.
  • Bottled water
  • Water purifying tablets
  • Backpackers water filter
Last, but not least is food. Remember you can go for three weeks without food so, while important, this should be your last priority. Lightweight foods are the way to go because, if conditions devolve to the point where you need your BOB, you will be carrying it on your back. With that said, be mindful of weight, when selecting your food. Dehydrated back packing foods are an excellent weight saver but bear in mind that you usually need water to rehydrate them to the point of edibility. More water equates to more weight. Plan accordingly. Also, I recommend selecting foods that can be eaten without being cooked.

Your bug out location should be somewhat close to your current area of operations. You should be able to get to this back up location without a lot of problems. Your plans should take into account that your vehicle may not always be an asset. Realize that there are too many variables to plan for and you could very well end up hiking your way to back-up location. You should have enough food on hand to make it to your bug out location under the extreme worst case scenarios.

Related Articles:
72 Hour Kit for Your Car
72 Hour Kit for Your Home

Original: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/SurviveTheWorst/~3/9F_KZZCJ8vI/72-hour-kit-work.html