Propagating Blackberries ~ Rooting Cuttings


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10 Simple Steps to Self-Sufficiency

 

10 Simple Steps to Self-Sufficiency

Most of us don’t have the luxury/ability/desire/whatever to be 100% self-sufficient, but there are things you can start doing today that will put you on the road to being 10% or 20% or 90% self-sufficient, and that is a great goal, too!

1. Get an emergency fund. While most of us can’t completely live off what we grow and make ourselves, being financially secure is a great step on the path to being completely self-sufficient. If you have a financial reserve, you can buy the necessities that you may not have on hand. Aim for 3-6 months of expenses in a high-yield savings account (easily accessible, don’t invest this money in inaccessible funds). Live on less than what you earn, and use the rest for building an emergency fund and investing for retirement. Whether it’s 30%, 60%, or 80% depends on your living expenses and income. After each paycheck, place a specific percentage into your emergency fund until you have 3-6 months saved. Replenish as necessary (but remember this is an emergency fund, not a vacation or “fun” fund). Part of becoming financially self-sufficient is reducing your debt to become debt-free.

2. Start a garden. Whether it’s a bag of potting soil with a few tomatoes growing out of it, or a perfect, huge organic garden, every little bit helps! This list of great gardening books with short summaries of their contents to get you started. There are all kinds of gardening methods from square-foot to pots, and there is sure to be one that fits your budget and space. On social media you can join groups about gardening in your area; these groups can be a ton of help in getting you started. Or ask an expert like your seed supplier, local master gardeners, or your neighbors who are pros).

3. Edible landscaping. Beyond an actual vegetable garden, you can landscape your yard with things you can eat! Better Homes and Gardens has a great article about this. Edible landscaping includes fruit trees and shrubs, vines, groundcover, flowers, herbs, and more! You get a beautiful yard, and you can eat it!

4. Compost. There is one thing a lawn is great for (besides playing on), and that is green material for a compost pile. OrganicGardening.com has a great basic instruction guide for building a compost pile. Essentially, you need “brown” (dead leaves, newspaper, dead flowers –carbon-rich) and “green” (plant-based kitchen waste, grass clippings – nitrogen-rich) materials, a shovel-full of garden soil, and some room, and you will have great compost for feeding your garden or edible landscape.

5. Preserve what you grow. Once you start harvesting things from your yard and garden, you need to know how to preserve your bounty to use during the off-season. It does take time, but it saves a lot of money on food. This can include canning, freezing, drying (read our post Preparedness Basics: How to Use a Dehydrator), pickling, smoking, and more.

6. Learn How to Cook from scratch. Once you have a bunch of great produce and other plants from your edible landscape and garden, you need to know how to cook with these great ingredients. Pick up some cookbooks and start experimenting. Turn that backyard bounty into healthy, nutritious, and delicious meals for your family. You can also learn to make your own dairy products like cheese, yogurt, butter, and ice cream. Check out our article, Cheese Making 101: A Basic Guide to get started. Making food from scratch could save you big money since the prices on these items always seem to be going up!

7. Bake your own bread. Bread, especially the whole grain kind, can be expensive—sometimes costing over $4.00 a loaf! You can make bread at home for around $.50 a loaf (plus you can control what you put in it). This will save you money and help you be more self-sufficient (and it’s delicious). You can also read our post 6 Reasons Why you should Grind Your Own Wheat to learn the benefits of adding home-ground wheat to your homemade bread.

8. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. Being self-sufficient is also about frugality and learning new skills. You can make your own cleaning supplies for a fraction of the cost of store-bought bottled cleaners. Bring out your inner-chemist and mix up these cleaners from Living Well, Spending Less. You can also make your own personal care products like these from Keeper of the Home.

You can also fix-it yourself. Learn how to do simple plumbing and electrical work, paint your own deck, etc. (You can also learn to [reuse “trash”] for new purposes. It can be a lot of fun!) And, of course, you can always ask yourself “Do I really need that?” before buying something new.

9. Walk and bike. Not only does this give you a workout, it will save on car insurance, gas, and maintenance. This can take more “time,” but if you plan it right, it can be your workout and it can help you to spend less on your shopping trips because you can’t carry as much back and you won’t be at the store as often.

10. First-Aid equipped. There are a lot of natural remedies for the small things that ail us (things you can grow in your edible/usable landscape!). Become familiar with plants and herbs that can help you treat your own minor medical problems. Learn to use essential oils (if they interest you). And don’t forget a good, fully-stocked first-aid kit that’s easy to get to. It’s also good to have a smaller one that’s portable (in case you need to carry it with you somewhere).

 

There are lots of easy things you can do to start or progress on the road to self-sufficiency, even just taking small steps to become more self-sufficient today can help you in the long run.

What are your best tips and top ideas to start (or continue) on the road to self-sufficiency? What’s your next step?

 

Sources

http://gardening.about.com/od/toppicktools/tp/GardenBooks.htm

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/vegetable/vegetables/edible-landscaping/

http://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2013/03/13/green-thrifty-cleaning-products/

http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2013/04/simple-steps-to-safe-and-natural-personal-care-and-18-homemade-beauty-recipes.html


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How to Make A Cold Frame Step-by-Step


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9 Ways To Grow Food On The Down-Low

 9 Ways to Gardening

As the world around us grows more unstable, we as preppers have recognized the need to be prepared if SHTF. One of our major concerns is having enough food to feed ourselves and our families long-term and there are two issues that stand in our way.

First, it’s tough to grow food in urban areas because of space limitations and government regulations. You already know how the government is using different regulations aiming to ban self-sufficiency.

Second, regardless of where we live, we don’t want everybody to know that we have food stored away because if things go sideways, it will be every man for himself and hungry people are desperate people.

The solution to both concerns is learning unconventional, sustainable ways to grow food under the radar. I’ve done my homework and have some solutions that I’d like to share with you.

Growing “Ornamental” Food

pepper plant

Growing food that looks ornamental has two major advantages over growing a traditional garden. First, it satisfies urban or home owner’s association requirements for an attractive yard. It also produces food in a way that your neighbors won’t likely notice.

There are many ornamental, edible plants that you can grow in raised beds, as ground cover, in vertical beds, or as trees and bushes. Plants such as strawberries, peppers, berries, cabbage, tomatoes, herbs and fruit trees are all examples of ways to grow ornamental food that supplies you with edibles in a manner that people won’t even suspect.

We’ve outlined a couple of these methods here, and here.

Grow Food Indoors

hydroponic indoor

Believe it or not, you can grow plenty of food inside, even if you don’t have much space.

Though you may not be able to grow enough to sustain yourself completely, what you grow will certainly add to your stockpile.

You’re going to be surprised by some of the ideas that I’m going to suggest.

You have the obvious ways, of course. You can grow plants in planters, window boxes and hanging baskets. A few examples of food that can be grown indoors includes herbs of any sort, tomatoes, oranges, carrots, and peppers.

Examples of not-so-common ways to grow food inside include using hydroponics, which don’t require dirt, and aquaponics. You can actually grow plants and edible fish and plants in your fish tank!

Growing food inside is the ultimate way to keep nosy neighbors and interfering governments and associations out of your garden and you can grow food year-round for both food and medicine.

Privacy Fences and Shrubs

peas

Though this isn’t a fool-proof way to keep neighbors from peeking at what you’re doing, it IS a good way to keep roving strangers in the dark, especially if you’re using plants that are ornamental as well as edible.

Who’d think that those beautiful hanging and vertical plants are actually food sources?

Grow a Roof-Top Garden

high gardening

Don’t laugh – would YOU look on somebody’s roof for food? Probably not, and neither would most other people. Especially considering that most people who are unprepared likely haven’t researched creative ways to grow food, a roof-top garden is going to be completely out of their line of sight.

But believe me when I tell you that it’s possible, and it’s not rocket science!

Growing a roof-top garden only requires a flat roof. It can be your barn, your apartment building roof, or any other roof that you have on your property. If you’re building a new structure on your property, consider building it in such a way that you have an out-of-sight place to grow some container plants.

If the roof is sturdy enough to hold dirt, and is under your control, you can actually put an entire garden up there.

Aquatic Gardening

koi fish

You know that pond you have out back? Oh wait, you don’t have one? Then how about building one? Even a koi-style pond can be used to grow food hydroponically or aquaponically.

There are many aquatic plants and fish that can be grown in a relatively small space. You can even grow standard plants using aquatic gardening by planting them in floating planters.

Best of all, nobody would suspect that your entire beautiful pond is a food source for you. If you do your research, you’ll find that many aquatic plants are packed with vitamins and minerals, and you can use a variety of edible creatures including fish, shrimp, and snails.

The water in your pond is also a great fertilizer. Oh, and you can do this indoors on a smaller scale.

Underground or Basement Gardening

basement

We’ve all heard about people growing pot in their basements or closets using grow lights so why can’t we carry that over to edible plants? If you have a basement, cellar, large building or even a shed, you can grow food without sunshine using grow lights. Your neighbors will never be the wiser.

Oh, and what about this: growing food in your bunker? Even if the lights go out when SHTF and you have to go underground, you’ll have the food that’s currently growing in there to provide food until the plants die from lack of light. You could always use solar panels to keep your grow lights on, too.

Or, you can transplant your plants into secret places around the property (i.e. in the woods around your house) and nobody will be any wiser. That brings us to the next method.

Wild Gardening

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There are hundreds of edible plants that most people would never think of as food. You can always plant these around your property so that you have food where other people see weeds or inedible flowers or trees.

You can even scatter traditional food plants throughout your property in smaller plots so that if one is discovered, you have other plots that will sustain you.

Vermiponics

worms

This is a relatively new concept that combines hydroponics (growing plants without soil), vermiculture (creating fertilizer using worms) and aquaculture (raising fish or plants using water). In short, vermiculture is a self-sustaining way to grow both plants and fish without soil.

There are numerous benefits to this process. Fish and worms both produce waste products that make excellent fertilizer. The plants that are grown are packed with nutrients and grown without chemical fertilizers. The system can be set up in a relatively small space and is a circular growth cycle that constantly produces two food sources simply by maintaining the system.

I learned about vermiponics from a report that details the process from start to finish – see my review here.

Hedge Gardening

hedge

This one isn’t quite so much on the down-low as it is sneakily hiding your plants in plain sight.

If you have hedges, you can also plant edibles throughout them that will blend right into the hedges.

Berry bushes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, carrots and rhubarb are just a few plants that pop to mind when thinking about this.

Figuring out how to grow food to feed your family without looking like a survival beacon to those who don’t prepare isn’t that hard if you’re just willing to put on your thinking cap and think outside of the box.

There’s nothing saying that you can’t have your greenhouse and garden to grow food for now, and you can even hide them on the back of your property so that others are less likely to see them, but it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan.

As a matter of fact, having an obvious garden may serve as a great decoy to keep people away from your other methods. Remember that people aren’t going to be thinking of methods other than the obvious because they haven’t put any effort into prepping. They’ll see your garden, raid it, then assume they’ve gotten all that you have.

I’d also like to point out that it’s good to store your preserved foods in more than one place. If you’re planning on bugging out, you likely have places where you’re planning to stop for the night, or use as a safe place to stay or to meet up with the rest of your family. Stock some food in these places even if it means digging a bit of a hidden cellar or just burying the food.

If you have any other good ideas about growing food on the down-low, please tell us about them in the comments section below. If we all put our heads together and share ideas, then we’re stronger as a community.

BYL 1

This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

About Theresa Crouse

Theresa Crouse is a full-time writer currently living in central Florida. She was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia, where she learned to farm, hunt, fish, and live off the land from an early age. She prefers to live off the grid as much as possible and does her best to follow the “leave nothing behind but footprints” philosophy. For fun, she enjoys shooting, kayaking, tinkering on her car and motorcycle, and just about anything else that involves water, going fast, or the outdoors. You can send Theresa a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.


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How to Grow Spinach – Complete Growing Guide


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Top 10 Important Gardening Tips And Uses for Epsom salts

Epsom salt {hydrated magnesium sulfate} is renowned to many for its various home remedy applications but that is not all there is to this wonderful mineral. unknown to many, Epsom salt have several benefits in organic gardening.

Its importance in Gardening have been one of nature’s best kept secrets and it’s has long been a favorite for many gardeners.

It helps grow sweeter, tastier vegetables, roses with more vibrant flower color.

It is also very useful in seed germination.

it is also widely used in home remedies as a saline laxative and pain reliever.

Want to try Epsom salt for yourself? You can get the Best type {White Mountain Epsom Salt} Here.. 

Epsom salts works best on soils that are slightly deficient in magnesium or high in calcium and potassium (soils found in western countries)

Also check out : Insanely Clever DIY Garbage Disposal Refreshers

Today’s Article reveals the Top 10 Important Uses for Epsom salts in your garden.

Improved Seed Germination

Epsom salt can be used at the Planting stage to aid seed germination. It acts as a soil amendment before seeding thereby giving your garden a powerful boost right from the start.

Apply 1 – 2 tablespoons into the soil per seed hole or use 1 cup of salt per 100 square feet of tilled soil for the best results.

The Many Benefits of epsom salt for organic gardening | Gardening with Epsom Salt, according to this page it is good for all vegetables, flowers, trees, fruits and more. #gardening

 Increased Nutrient Absorption

Applying Epsom salt to the soil helps facilitate the uptake of organic soil nutrients and the faster absorption of plant nutrients reducing to a minimal level if not eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers.

Beautiful, Bountiful Roses

Epsom salt due to the abundance of magnesium is plays a very important role in flower bloom formation. This is of significant importance to rosarians , Horticulturists will agree that application of Epsom salt helps roses to produce larger blossoms in greater numbers in flowers. Epsom salt also increases chlorophyll production meaning faster growth rate for roses.

Counter Transplant Shock

Epsom salt can also play a vital role in the transplants of nursery plant s to the field. Epsom salt assists plants in adapting to their new environment and also help injured roots overcome transplanting shock.

Note that it is important that Plant roots does not come in contact with salt when adding a layer of salt around them..

Green Up Foliage

magnesium plays an essential part in the production of foliage due its as in chlorophyll production. This is quite evident as plants suffering from this deficiency can be identified by their yellowing leaves. The application of Epsom salt around your plants helps lead to healthier foliage.

Prevent Leaf Curling

Application of a mixture of 2 tablespoons of Epsom salt in a gallon of water and apply directly to the leaves will help Prevent Leaf Curling caused by magnesium-deficiency in plants.

Deter Garden Pests

While Epsom salt is not as effective against pests as much as table salt (sodium chloride), it can still helps to deter pests. Epsom Salt crystals are sharp and when sprinkled around plants, they can scratch and irritate the bodies and feet of unwanted pests in much the same way as other preventives..

Grow Sweeter Fruit

It is a proven fact the most important stage in the life cycle of any plant is the production of fruits just after the flowering stage. Application of Epsom salt to the plant using the same methods and quantities stated above will lead to improved chlorophyll levels leading to increased energy which implies more sugar, thus allowing the plant to produce more yields of sweeter and healthier fruits.

Tastier Tomatoes

In a recent experiment, We observed that application of epsom salt to tomato vines really helps to balance the magnesium-deficiency so apparent to most tomato farmers.. It also lead to Tastier Tomatoes..

For tomatoes, the fruit to plant size ratio of tomato plant makes it susceptible to to calcium-deficiency (blossom end rot) but systematic application of epsom salts to our tomatoes worked perfectly and the positive result we got was healthy, tastier tomato fruits..

Our Findings revealed that tomato vines should have Epsom salt twice as often as other plants.  Application to tomato vines of dissolved Epsom salt – 2 tablespoons per gallon of water, every 2 weeks was the magic.. The most efficient application method for delivering magnesium to these plants is through foliage feeding method.

10 important epsom salt uses in the garden|Lots of Everyday Uses for this versatile stuff !!

 

Further Reading29 Magical DIY Uses For Hydrogen Peroxide

Conclusion

It is quite apparent that Epsom salt is a great addition to any organic  Gardener and it’s almost impossible to use too much of it in your garden..
Epsom Salt is pH neutral, non harmful to the soil structure, it’s safe to apply and works fast to correct a variety of problems and increase the overall health of your garden.

Epsom salt also works quickly to prevent and correct a variety of problems and to improves the overall health of your garden. Epsom salt is also cheap and it’s certainly one of the best kept secret of the health-conscious, competent gardener. I hope with this post you have learnt several ways to add Epsom salt to your grower toolbox.


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Garden Ideas…

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greenhouse


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Building a Cinder Block Raised Garden Bed

How to build a raised bed out of cinder blocks

Building a raised bed out of cinder blocks is easy and if you watch the local classified ads you can probably get the material for free (I did for this one). Also, cinder block raised beds have the added advantage of creating thermal mass which stores heat and warms the soil longer.

Here’s a 4x5ft cinder block raised bed garden I built for a spice garden. Step one is lay the blocks in a rows.


Try to make the blocks level by clearing the dirt.

 

I wouldn’t go any wider than 2 blocks and then the length is up to you. This one is shorter because I’m using it for a spice garden and then I want to trellis cucumbers behind it against the fence.
The holes in the brick can be filled with rocks, gravel and sand to create thermal mass for absorbing solar energy. it will help warm the soil and release it back later in the evening.
Some people also fill it with soil and plant individual plant in each hole. Plants that like to spread are great for this, plants like mint. etc…

Here we go, done and ready for planting.


I asked the kids to put the rocks they find in the holes, so it will take a while to fill, but the little ones always like something to do.


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Spring Planting Update & Planting Cool Weather Crops Without Protection (Zone 5)


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Super Fast Spring Vegetables You Can Harvest In About 30 Days – start now

1. Radishes. For the fastest-growing radishes you’ll want to stick with spring radishes. I’ve had great success with “French Breakfast” radishes in my own garden. These are seeded directly in the garden in the spring and take about a month to mature. You can even eat the tender radish sprouts in salads or on sandwiches if you need to thin your crop, or if just can’t wait the full month until the root is mature.

2. Turnips. Spring turnips have really taken off in popularity the past few years, and for good reason. They are tender and sweet and can be eaten cooked or raw. “Hakurei” and “Tokyo” turnips are two of my favorite varieties, both taking about a month to mature. Don’t forget about those turnip greens! They are delicious tossed into soup or sautéed in a bit of butter on the stove.

3. Salad mix. Salad mix is a great option for fresh salads all spring and early summer long. If you are looking for the fastest producing mixes, choose those containing only leaf lettuce. With days to maturity right around one month, and the ability to harvest multiple times from one seeding, salad mix is a win-win choice!

4. Kale and other leafy greens. When choosing quick-growing leafy greens, the options are many. Baby kale, Swiss chard and arugula are a few of my favorites. These are also crops that you can harvest and let regrow for multiple cuttings. Days to maturity depend on specific varieties, but tend to average around 40 days at their baby size. If you don’t get around to harvesting them when they are young, they are equally delicious fully grown.

5. Green onions. Many people would agree that no meal is complete without a touch of onion. Come spring, green onions are a go-to allium available fresh from the garden. If starting these from seed, you can seed about 10 seeds per transplant cell to make for easy harvest of a full bunch when the time comes. Beth red and green varieties are available, with days to maturity averaging about two months.

6. Snap peas. A favorite of many a spring gardener, snap peas taste as sweet as candy when harvested at their peak of freshness. In some climates, you can manage both a spring and fall crop, but they always seem to taste a bit sweeter in the spring. Most varieties will need trellising and will mature in about two month’s time.

7. Spinach. Spinach loves cold weather and can even be over-wintered in some locations. Sold in both smooth and savoyed leaf varieties, spinach takes about a month and a half to reach harvest size. This is another green that can be harvested multiple times from the same plant, and will continue to regrow until the temperatures get too hot.

8. Bush beans. Bush beans are a great season long garden choice, performing well in spring, summer and fall. “Provider” bush beans are my personal favorite for consistent and productive yields. Bush beans do not need trellising, but they do benefit from regular harvesting to maintain productivity. If you end up with more beans than you can eat, they are easy to freeze for future use. Days to maturity for bush bean varieties averages about a month and half.

9. Baby carrots. So much tastier than those found in the grocery store, baby carrots such as the variety “Napoli” take about a month and a half to reach maturity. Spring and fall carrots will taste the sweetest, and seed germination is much easier to achieve in cooler temperatures. With that being said, once germinated, carrots are able to grow all season long.

10. Pickling cucumbers. Not only are pickling cucumbers great for making pickles, but they are equally tasty sliced on sandwiches and into salads. Pickling cucumbers take about two months to reach maturity, and prefer slightly warmer soil temperatures, making them great for summer-long harvests. Many pickling cucumbers do not require cross-pollination, making them great options for balconies and greenhouses.


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