Thursday, December 31, 2009

Strawberries


Growing strawberries in your garden has to be one of the more rewarding gardening efforts, because there is just no comparison between store bought strawberries and those picked fresh from the garden. So let’s take a look at how to grow strawberries in your garden.

The traditional way to grow strawberries is to nurture them as perennials, that is you plant them one year and expect them to peak in later years. But some places in the South where the summers are quite hot it is not uncommon to grow them as an annual, and replant the following year.

Based on how you might want to grow them you can pick the one of the strawberry varieties that will work for you.

Where to Plant Strawberries

Strawberries are very versatile, and can be planted in a variety of ways. Many people will plant strawberries in containers. Hanging strawberry planters are a favorite, and let you grow strawberries on the balcony or a patio. For this its common to plant them as annuals so you don’t have to overwinter the container. Strawberries should not be planted where peppers, tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes have been grown since these plants can harbor verticillium wilt, a seriously bad disease for strawberries. If in doubt you may think of using the square foot gardening approach which uses a soilless mix in raised beds.

The most common way of growing strawberries is in a bed. Since they are most often grown as perennials, you want a location for the bed that is out of the way, as it will be mulched and scraggly looking for part of the year. You may want a raised garden bed as this will help control the week population, since in perennial beds you can’t just go in and till it up once a year. Like most garden vegetables or fruits, strawberries like full sun, at least six hours of sun a day.

Strawberries need at least one to two inches of rain a week, so if your climate won’t provide that factor in the need for irrigation like the proximity to a hose when choosing a location.

Soil Preparation

Drainage must be good (another advantage of a raised bed) and they do best in a sandy loamy soil. For any garden bed it’s good to prepare the soil with a healthy addition of organic matter like compost, but it’s particularly good for perennial plantings as they chance to work that in again could be several years away.

There are several popular approaches to creating a strawberry bed, which vary a little based on the varieties that you want to grow.

Matted Rows

Matted rows are good for June-bearing strawberries. The plants should be planted about eighteen to thirty inches apart in rows, with the rows being 3 to 4 feet apart. Daughter plants are allowed to spread and root freely. This should result in a matted row about 24 inches wide.

Spaced Rows

With spaced rows to goal is to limit the number of daughter plants spreading out from the mother plant. Once again the mother plants are set eighteen to thirty inches apart with rows spaced 3 to 4 feet apart. The daughter plants are spaced out so they root at least four inches apart. All other runners are cut from the mother plants. This is somewhat higher maintenance approach, but the payoff is in higher yields, larger strawberries and reduced disease problems.

Hills

Hills are recommended for growing everbearing and day-neutral strawberries. For this approach all runners are removed, leaving only the original strawberry plant, forcing the mother plant to develop more crowns and stalks for fruiting. Start by arranging multiple rows of two to four plants with a walkway between each group of rows about two feet wide. The plants are staggered about one foot apart in the rows. After the first two or three weeks of growth add mulch to the bed.

Planting Strawberries

Plant in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant the new plants where the crown is at soil level. The buds can be harmed by frost, so for new plantings you may want to wait til after the last frost.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Friday, December 25, 2009

The Great Gathering


We are in a unique time on the planet; humanity is now facing a crossroad. The choices we make today will affect our children for generations to come.

By coming together in our hearts, we can and will create the change we want to see in the world. Every day more people are awakening to understand that we must act responsibly and act now to create this change.

How do we begin to make this change with our world facing crisis on so many fronts: financial woes, famine, homelessness, perpetual wars, food shortages, exploitation and disease (to name only a few)? We do have a choice.

We are in the time of choice and human beings around the world are feeling a call to unite and make our voices heard and our actions count. People from the indigenous world to the political are beginning to step forward and speak of this change through action and choice.

There are many indigenous groups, as well as different faiths and beliefs, now sharing prophecies regarding information about this special time on the planet. Within all beliefs there is a similar thread that gives us the same message: we must unite in our hearts in order to overcome the challenges we are now facing on the earth.

What is The Great Gathering? It is the same message of many beliefs from around the world. The message is simple: now is the time for humanity to unite to create the one voice for the people of Earth.

This Great Gathering will be in every country around the world; we will stand together and join our hands, our hearts and our voices. This will create the spark that brings light to the rest of the world and to humanity.

All groups from all directions will join in this celebration of life, of nature, of humanity and all that is.

Neighborhood groups, churches, friends, coworkers, families, corporations that are trying to be responsible, politicians trying to create change, religious leaders, eco-villages, farm associations, truckers, health care workers, humanitarian organizations, educators, laborers, dishwashers, peacekeepers, all races, religions and economic backgrounds (the list is endless) will come together as one in our hearts. Together we will be one voice and change will happen.

In order to begin The Great Gathering we must lay the foundation for this event through our networks of friends and associates. Change starts with the individual taking responsibility. Please send this message to your friends and networks around the world so that once The Great Gathering becomes known around the globe we can then act and call on humanity to join us.

Change and true unity comes from the heart and being humble in our service to the earth and others. We are all connected; this gathering is to remind us that our lives on this earth are a gift to be honored.


We are all equal and we deserve to be heard. The Great Gathering gives us all a voice to say we want change and support change for our children. Through our hearts and unity we can make a difference. Let’s work on making this a reality in 2010—the year of change—by sharing this one idea. Together we will decide when The Great Gathering takes place.

This is how it begins.... with you.......

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Try Pole Beans


Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. If the soil has warmed before the average last-frost date, an early planting may be made a week to 10 days before this date. You can assure yourself a continuous supply of snap beans by planting every 2 to 4 weeks until early August.
Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep. Plant seeds of pole beans 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 30 to 36 inches apart along trellis, netting, fence, or poles; or in hills (four to six seeds per hill) 30 inches apart, with 30 inches between rows.
Seeds of most varieties tend to crack and germinate poorly if the soil's moisture content is too high. For this reason, never soak bean seed before planting. Instead water just after planting or plant right before a heavy rain.
Beans have shallow roots and frequent shallow cultivation and hoeing are necessary to control small weeds and grasses. Because bean plants have fairly weak root systems, deep, close cultivation injures the plant roots, delays harvest and reduces yields.
Harvest when the pods are firm, crisp and fully elongated, but before the seed within the pod has developed significantly. Pick beans after the dew is off the plants, and they are thoroughly dry. Picking beans from wet plants can spread bean bacterial blight, a disease that seriously damages the plants. Be careful not to break the stems or branches, which are brittle on most bean varieties. The bean plant continues to form new flowers and produces more beans if pods are continually removed before the seeds mature.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pearl Harbor


My Grandfathers brother died that day on the USS Arizona

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Growing Cucumbers


Cucumber is a tender, warm-season vegetable that produces well when given proper care and protection. The vines of standard varieties grow rapidly and require substantial space. Vertical training methods and new dwarf varieties now allow cucumbers to be grown for slicing, salads and pickling, even in small garden plots.

When to Plant
Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra-early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.


Spacing & Depth
Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.


Care
Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with nitrogen fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.


Harvesting
Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Practice Your Survival Skills


The subject of survival is a big topic and the beginner, as well as the more experienced, may sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of material that one can learn.

I always recommend frequenting the several excellent survival forums and message boards that are on the Internet. These are run by friendly experienced people well versed in the field of survival. Participants in these survival forums are skilled in everything from bushcraft to firecraft to handicraft. They take great pride and pleasure in helping anyone. Often the survival discussions are lively and informative. If you are interested in learning more about survival, you will be welcomed with open arms into the survival community.

In addition there are a number of excellent books and magazines that cover the topic of survival. The basic ways of surviving have not always changed much over hundreds of years, and very old outdoor survival books contain nuggets of wisdom that even modern day survivors can use.

But it is not enough to read survival books and visit online survival forums. You have to get out there and practice your survival skills and survival gear. Set up a lean-to, build a debris hut, build a fire, find water. Test your skills in a variety of conditions and with a variety of materials. Make sure you would be able to do these very same things while injured or when it is wet or cold or blazingly hot.

The more you learn about survival techniques the more you realize how much there is to learn. When faced with a large task it is often easier to break it down into bite sized chunks. Survival experts have found through experience that the foundation of survival rests on five basic survival skills. Master these 5 basic survival skills and you are well on your way to being an expert survivor yourself.

So discuss, read, and practice. That is the way of becoming a survival expert.
5 Basic Survival Skills
Acquiring survival skills is an ongoing process that will last for your entire life. There is always more to learn and experience, which is part of the fun of being a survivor.

As your survival expertise grows the knowledge and abilities you gain are often useful in other areas. For example survivors prepare ahead of time, and they are experts in the art of ingenuity and inventiveness. Excellent attributes for anyone.

The possible environments and situations you could find yourself in are innumerable. Although each situation has its particular requirements for successfully surviving, in the final analysis it is mastery of five basic survival skills that are essential. Proficiency and preparedness in these 5 basic skills will give you the edge and put you on your way toward becoming a talented survivor.

First Basic Survival Skill - Fire

Knowing how to build a fire is the best survival skill you can have. Fire provides warmth, light, and comfort so you get on with the business of survival. Even if you do not have adequate clothing a good fire can allow you to survive in the coldest of environments.

Fire keeps away the creatures that go bump in the night and so you can have the peace of mind and rest you need. And that is not all. Fire will cook your food and purify your water, both excellent attributes when you want to stay healthy when potential disease causing organisms are lurking about. Fire will dry your clothing and even aid in the making of tools and keeping pesky insects at bay.

But even that is not all. Fire and smoke can be used for signaling very long distances.

Always have at least two, and preferably three, ways of making a fire at you immediate disposal. With waterproof matches, a butane lighter, and a magnesium fire starter or firesteel you should be able to create a fire anytime anywhere no matter how adverse the condtions.

So the lesson here is to learn the art of fire craft. Practice and become an expert. Your ability to create a fire is perhaps the most visible mark of an experienced survivor.

Second Basic Survival Skill - Shelter

Shelter protects your body from the outside elements. This includes heat, cold, rain, snow, the sun, and wind. It also protects you from insects and other creatures that seek to do you harm.

The survival expert has several layers of shelter to think about. The first layer of shelter is the clothing you choose to wear. Your clothing is of vital importance and must be wisely chosen according to the environment you are likely to find yourself in. Be sure to dress in layers in order to maximize your ability to adapt to changing conditions.

The next layer of shelter is the one you may have to build yourself, a lean-to or debris hut perhaps. This is only limited by your inventiveness and ingenuity. If the situation requires, your shelter can be insulated with whatever is at hand for the purpose. Being prepared, you may have a space blanket or tarp with you, in which case creating a shelter should be relatively easy.

Before you are in need of making a survival shelter, be sure to practice and experiment with a variety of materials and survival scenarios on a regular basis. Should the need arise you will be glad you did.

Third Basic Survival Skill - Signaling

Signaling allows you to make contact with people who can rescue you without having to be in actual physical contact with them. There are a variety of ways to signal for help. These include using fire and smoke, flashlights, bright colored clothing and other markers, reflective mirrors, whistles, and Personal Locator Beacons. Three of anything is considered a signal for help: 3 gunshots, 3 blows on a whistle, three sticks in the shape of a triangle.

In a pinch, your ingenuity in devising a way to signal potential help could very well save your life.

Fourth Basic Survival Skill - Food and Water

Friday, November 27, 2009

Container Gardening


You don't need a plot of land to grow fresh vegetables. Many vegetables lend themselves well to container gardening. With some thought to selecting bush or dwarf varieties, almost any vegetable can be adapted to growing in a pot. Vegetables that take up little space, such as carrots, radishes and lettuce, or crops that bear fruits over a long period of time, such as tomatoes and peppers, are perfect for container vegetable gardens.

What you can grow in a container vegetable garden is limited only by the size of the container and your imagination. How about a Summer Salad container? Plant a tomato, a cucumber and some parsley or chives all in a large (24-30") container. They grow well together and have the same water and sun requirements. By late summer they might not be very pretty, but they'll keep producing into the fall. This makes a great housewarming present, too.


Containers and Pots for Vegetable Gardens
Selecting Containers: Containers for your vegetable gardens can be almost anything: flower pots, pails, buckets, wire baskets, bushel baskets, wooden boxes, nursery flats, window planters, washtubs, strawberry pots, plastic bags, large food cans, or any number of other things.
Drainage: No matter what kind of container you choose for your vegetable garden, it should have holes at the base or in the bottom to permit drainage of excess water.

Color Considerations: You should be careful when using dark colored containers because they absorb heat which could possibly damage the plant roots. If you do use dark colored pots, try painting them a lighter color or shading just the container.

Size: The size of the container is important. For larger vegetables like tomatoes and eggplants, you should use a five gallon container for each plant. You can grow these plants in two gallon containers, however you need to give the plants considerably more attention.


Soil and Fertilizer
You can use soil in your container vegetable garden, but the synthetic mixes are much better. Peat-based mixes, containing peat and vermiculite, are excellent. They are relatively sterile and pH adjusted. They also allow the plants to get enough air and water. Mixing in one part compost to two parts planting mix will improve fertility.
Using a slow release or complete organic fertilizer at planting will keep your vegetables fed for the whole growing season.


Watering
Pots and containers always require more frequent watering than plants in the ground. As the season progresses and your plants mature, their root system will expand and require even more water. Don't wait until you see the plants wilting. Check your containers daily to judge the need for water.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Boiling Water for Safe Consumption

I frequently come upon bad advice about boiling water to make it safe to drink. Having enough safe drinking water is of utmost importance to any survivor. Proper information is very important and for that reason I am writing this is to set the record straight.

Boiling Water is the Best Method
As some of us know, boiling water is surest and most effective method of destroying microorganisms including disease causing bacteria, viruses, protozoan’s, and parasites.

Modern filtering devices and the chemical treatment of water come in a poor distant second to the ancient and almost foolproof method of boiling water to make it safe to drink. And importantly to the survivor, the boiling of water requires no special apparatus, training, or difficult to find chemicals. The means to boil water for safe drinking are usually close at hand:
•A source of heat
•A vessel to hold the water.

How Long Should Water be Boiled

I am always hearing different amounts of time that water needs to be boiled to kill disease organisms. Recently I perused various publications put out by the government and trusted health organizations. What is glaringly obvious is they disagree on the length of time water should be boiled to make it safe to drink.
Common water boiling times that are stated include:

•“Boil water for 10 minutes” is a common statement
•“5-minutes of boiling” is also frequently heard
•“Boil the water for 20 minutes”. Would there be any left?
•“A rolling boil for 1 minute”. Is it enough?
•“When at high altitudes you need to boil water for twice as long”

Which of the above statements are true?
None. That’s right. Following any of the above advice for the boiling times of water is a big waste of fuel (and a waste of water if you are short on water and cannot afford to lose any to evaporation).

Throughout the world whole forests have been cut down for firewood in order to boil drinking water. Hikers and mountaineers have used up precious fuel boiling water for inordinate amounts of time. In a survival situation you cannot afford to waste valuable resources and energy. With all the bad advice around, many thousands of trees and other fuels and a huge amount of effort have been wasted.

Correct Water Boiling Time
The correct amount of time to boil water is 0 minutes. Thats right, zero minutes.

"According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude."

What is not well known is that contaminated water can be pasteurized at temperatures well below boiling. The fact is, with a water temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F (74 C) it takes just half an hour for all disease causing organisms to be inactivated. At 185 degrees this is cut to just a few minutes. By the time water hits its boiling point of 212 F (100 C) - plus or minus depending upon pressure or altitude - the water is safe. Even at high altitudes the time it takes for the water to reach a rolling boil and then cool means you can safely drink it.

Lacking a thermometer to measure water temperature, you only need to get your water to a rolling boil. By that point you know the water is hot enough and that the disease organisms in your water were destroyed quite some time earlier. End of story, turn off the heat. Stop wasting fuel. Let the water cool down. Your water is safe to drink!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

It’s time to get into Survival Mode

In today’s environment it’s hard to know what Emergency may occur and disrupt our daily lives. With the different kinds of challenges we may have to face, wouldn’t it be better to be ready just in case.

We hear on the news daily about some disaster happening in the world. From earthquakes, wild fires, flooding, tornados, hurricanes, terrorism. This is a slogan I heard a while back that goes, "It’s better to be years early than to be a minute too late". Because once something happens, you most likely will not be able to get prepared. It Will be Too Late. Are you willing to risk the safety of your family?

At American Survivalist we believe that it is part of our heritage to be ready and watchful for any kind of emergency in our Communities, our State, and our Country. This country has a lot of history that of which it was founded on and now the next chapter is about to be written. So what I say to you is how ready do you want to be. There is no getting ready when you are quarantined in your home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


Today is a day of remembrance for all who have served and died for our country. And for those who are serving now in harm’s way. We should all stop for a moment and give thanks to those who enable us to live with the freedoms we still have.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Favorite Tomato Varieties




BEEFSTEAK TOMATOES the primo slicer for sandwiches, cooking
Beefsteaks are the very biggest tomatoes. Their pulp cavity is generally relatively small, and always compressed and distorted by the extensive placenta wall, giving the 'marbled' appearance of a steak. Because of the compressed pulp cavity and networking of the fruit wall as placenta, beefsteaks hold together well when sliced, and together with their large size, make them the ideal 'slicer' for sandwiches. Because of their high fruit wall to pulp ratio, they also cook down well for sauces. There is a lot of variation between varieties in the density of the flesh, its juiciness (i.e. firm or very soft when ripe), and in the size and softness of the central 'core'. Flavor, as always, can vary, according to the ratio of sugars to acids, and according to the relative amount of sugar or acid present.

Big Beef F1 Staking variety. Outstandingly productive, easily out producing most other large, (about 100mm/4 inches in diameter/ 280 gms ) very regular fruit shape, with no cracking, produce large tomatoes even toward the end of the season, very good flavor. One of the very best of the large main season varieties.

Big Rainbow Staking variety. A spectacular looking tomato grown from at least the 1900's in the USA. Basically a large to very large yellow beefsteak, as the fruits ripen, go through a phase where they resemble a rainbow - 'greenback' on the shoulders, yellow in the middle, and with red blushed pink on the blossom end. The early set fruit can be very large at 900grams/2 lbs or more. The flesh is marbled red and orange. It is relatively free of fruit defects, and bears well. Highly rated in taste tests. Main season.

Brandywine Staking variety. A large beefsteak. Not as tall as some staking plants, this old cultivar (pre 1885, from the Amish community in USA) is renowned for its flavor. The fruit are large, between 400 and 700 grams. They are subject to minor cracking on the top, and are a rather soft fruit, but the flavor is outstanding, with both high sweetness and acidity, making for full flavor. The flavor can be poor in unfavorable seasons. Moderately productive. Main season. It has no disease resistance, and is unsuited to very humid hot areas where disease is a problem.

Evergreen Staking variety. Ripens green toning yellow. Medium sized fruit. The solid dense fruits are well suited to salsas, as well as slicing for frying or sandwiches. Main season.

Golianth F1 A large, smooth, deep red skinned commercial variety of around 300gms/10oz or more. Widely adapted and disease resistant. Early mid season.
Giant Belgium Large to very large, dark pink fruit of around 500 grams/ 1 lb. and sometimes much more. The flesh is dense and meaty.

Great White Staking variety. A particularly vigorous beefsteak, bearing large fruit of around 400 gms. The fruit are yellowish white. Main season.
Grosse Lisse Staking variety. Vigorous, adapted to humid areas. Large, (plus 200 grams) heavy yielding cultivar. Moderate sweetness, low to moderate acidity. Main season.

Marvel Striped Staking variety. Grown in Oaxaca, Mexico, at least since the mid-1800. The large, heart-shaped fruit are yellow streaked with bright orange. Yellow flesh, streaked pink. The skin is thin, Juicy. The flavor is sweet Vigorous.

Mortgage Lifter Staking variety. Extremely large, furrowed, red beefsteak (up to 1 kilo). In good conditions it can be exceptionally productive.

Pineapple Staking variety. The fruit are yellow-red striped, and the plants have heavy foliage. Which helps prevent sunscald.
Ponderosa Pink Staking variety. Large fruit, 200 grams and better. Very ripe fruit are sweet with low acidity. Slightly under ripe fruit are sweet and with better acid. This variety is outstanding for flavor, Main season.
St. Pierre a French heirloom variety actively sought out in the street markets for its superior flavor.

Yellow Brandywine a deep yellow, near orange color 'sport' of 'Brandywine'

Monday, November 9, 2009

Learn how to do Canning at Home


To preserve foods by canning two things must be done. First, sufficient heat must be provided to destroy all microscopic life that will cause spoilage in food; and second a perfect seal must be made which will prevent the re-entrance of microorganisms. These problems of preventing spoilage have been practically solved by the improved methods of canning which are explained below.
Only the freshest of fruits and vegetables should be canned. Canning does not improve the taste of the product; it only preserves it for future use.
Methods of Canning
Open Kettle: This method involves cooking the product completely and pouring it into sterilized jars, using sterilized equipment throughout. The jars are then sealed and stored. The open kettle method is recommended only for preserves, pickles, and foods canned in thick syrup. For other foods use the following methods.
Cold Pack: Cold, raw foods are put into jars and covered with boiling-hot syrup, juice of water. (Tomatoes are pressed down in the jar so they are covered with their own juice.) Jars are partially or completely sealed, following manufactures directions. Jars are then processed in boiling water or in steam to simultaneously cook the food and sterilize the jars.
Hot Pack: Fruits and vegetables are preheated before packing causing shrinkage before food goes into jars. This is the preferred method as preheating the food before packing prevents “floating”, (especially with fruits) and assures a full pack. Processing time is also lessened when food is hot-packed.

To learn how to do this Click Here

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Soil Care


If you’re gardening in the same soil year after year, you will want to do some things to keep it healthy and vibrant so that it continues to improve. In fact, a good farmer or gardener who’s using sustainable practices will see there soil steadily improving and even growing bigger with each passing year.

This is especially true if you take care to do the regular maintenance that a good garden requires. Most of this is easy to do and a lot of it will come naturally with the gardening process anyway.

First and foremost, never leave your soil bare to the elements. If you plant from seed, this probably can’t be helped much for a part of the year, but for 10 of the 12 months of the year, you soil should be growing something or covered with something. Wind erosion, sun leaching, and other things can quickly degrade the soil’s nutrients.

In the spring, before planting, cover the bare soil with manure or compost and let it sit for as long as you can before you put plants in. If you live in the northern United States, you probably don’t begin planting until late April or early May. The snow will be off the soil by late March or early April, just before the spring thaw. This is the time to spread that compost or manure over the garden. Freezing won’t hurt it and it will create new nutrients as it works into the soil.

While your garden is growing and you care for it, don’t throw out trimmed leaves or pulled weeds. Instead, leave them in the garden rows and let them rot there. Additionally, a lot of the items you might have left over in the kitchen can be put right on the garden rather than the compost heap.

You can throw your used tea bags, pour your leftover tea and coffee, drained blood from meats, and more onto your garden directly without composting. These ad things to the soil immediately. The tea bags, for instance, we’ll leave in the garden as a bundle for a day or two and then remove them before we water again.

At the end of the year, if there is still a month or two of sunlight left, try growing cold-tolerant crops like some types of cabbage, lettuces, tubers, and so forth. A lot of things can grow in cold weather and even survive light frosts. This keeps your soil productive and keeps it working.

Before winter really sets in, though, you’ll want to either have a cover crop in (recommended) or have another layer of compost/manure ready to spread over the soil. Mulch doesn’t hurt either if it’s finely chopped enough to break down relatively quickly.

Cover crops can include clover, grasses, or any of a host of fast-growing pasture grasses. They’re easy to plant too, since all you really need to do is broadcast the seeds over the soil and let them do their thing. This cover crop stops wind erosion and can be shallowly plowed under in the early spring to provide compost.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Now is the time to plan for next year’s garden



The fall is a great time to begin to plan and prepare next year's vegetable garden. You can take important steps to promote a healthy and successful garden for next year. Here are five tips for preparing for next year's garden today.

1) Fall is the best time of year to prepare the soil for next year's garden. To begin you should pull up and remove any plants from your garden. You may choose to till them under instead. If you do this, make sure that the plants are disease free. You can also add compost to the soil and till it in at this time. Shredded leaves make an inexpensive but excellent resource of nutrients to add to your soil.


2) You should plan wisely. Take the time now to plan what vegetables you want to plant next year. If you begin early enough you can work through several seasons of plants. You can also plant at different times throughout the year so that you can have fresh vegetables from early summer to late fall. If you plan now you can take advantage of your entire growing season.

3) If you want to save money, you can save the seeds from your plants to plant next year. You will need to determine the time you should plant the seeds, or the time you should begin sprouting them in your home. Tomatoes do better if they are sprouted in a warm environment, and are then transplanted outside.

4) If you do not wish to do your own sprouting, you should decide when the best time to plant each vegetable, and be prepared to do it in when the time arrives. You can often find out this information through local gardening shows.

5) Enjoy the time off from weeding during the winter weather. It may be the one positive aspect to winter that you enjoy. You can also continue an herb windowsill garden, and enjoy sprouts inside your home.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Do it Yourself Skills


Do-it-yourself skills are on their way out for many people, who prefer to have someone else do the dirty work. This has a direct effect on our collective ability to survive disasters.

A large part of survival is the ability to take charge of the situation and do what needs to be done in order to make it through another day. Often this is as simple as knowing how change the flat tire on a vehicle, or do some basic repairs to gear you are depending on. Like sharpening a survival knife, cleaning a rifle, or making a survival kit.

Every day we are losing touch with do it yourself skills, preferring instead to specialize completely into the one small thing from which we make a living. All that other stuff we can pay someone else to do.

When times are good your computer skills, or if you are flipping burgers your ability to churn ‘em out in numbers, may seem like the ticket to a good life. But should TSHTF you are going to find you cannot eat CD’s and your free fast food supply is nowhere to be found.

But it goes beyond that. Simply doing as many things as possible yourself – from plumbing to electrical to car repairs, gardening, and even fishing to putting some protein on the table – will give you a wide array of skill sets and problem solving skills no school can ever teach you.

When things go bad and a large scale survival situation occurs you are going to be in a much better position to survive if you are somewhat of a jack of all trades.

Emergency preparedness is usually pretty much a do it yourself skill if done right. Of course there are those who think all they have to do is pay for someone else to put together a survival kit or year’s supply of food, and they have got it made. Rest assured this way of thinking will serve them ill should they suddenly need this survival gear, possibly of dubious quality, without having the proper training and experience to use it.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Ultimate Currency


There has been a lot in the news these days about the decline of the U.S. Dollar. Countries such as Russia and China have been pushing for a new world currency or a basket of currencies to replace the dollar as the worlds reserve currency.

Just this morning Brendan Murray of Bloomberg posted an article about this very problem. I'll quote a little from that article:


"President Barack Obama's effort to lead the world economic recovery by spending the U.S. out of its recession is undermining the dollar, triggering record commodities rallies as investors scour the globe for hard assets.

As threats of a financial meltdown fade, the currency is falling victim to an unprecedented budget deficit, near-zero interest rates and slow growth.

The dollar is down 10 percent against six trading partners' legal tender in Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's first eight-and-a-half months, the sharpest drop for a new occupant of that office since the Reagan administration's James Baker persuaded world leaders to boost the deutsche mark and yen by debasing the dollar in 1985."

So what does this mean to you? Simply put, your money isn't worth as much as it used to be.
It can be so frustrating to know that you can work very hard, save up some money, then wake up the next morning and find out you can't buy that much with it. In short, you are being robbed.

Many people are hedging the risk of inflation by buying gold, and that may be a good decision. But in the end, even gold requires that you exchange it for the things you really need, and you can't eat it.



Yes my friends the ultimate way to protect your family against economic turmoil is with Food Storage. If you store food and water you are storing security for your family.

Freeze Dried Food can store for longer than 30 years. So when you are making your plans for financial security, please remember that Food Storage is the ultimate currency.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

P-38 and P51 Can Openers



Known as a "John Wayne" by the U.S. Marine Corps because the actor was shown in a training film opening a can of K-Rations, the can opener is pocket-sized (approximately 1.5 inches, 38mm, in length) and consists of a short metal blade that serves as a handle (which doubles as a flat-blade screwdriver), with a small, hinged metal tooth that folds out to pierce the can lid. A notch just under the hinge point keeps the opener hooked around the rim of the can as the device is "walked" around to cut the lid out. A larger version called the P-51 is somewhat easier to operate.

Official military designations for the P-38 include 'US ARMY POCKET CAN OPENER' and 'OPENER, CAN, HAND, FOLDING, TYPE I'. As with some other military terms (e.g. jeep), the origin of the term is not known with certainty; the P-38 opener coincidentally shares a designation with the P-38 'Lightning' fighter plane, which could allude to its fast performance. However, the P-51 can opener, while larger and easier to use than the P-38 can opener, also has a fighter plane namesake in the P-51, which is faster and smaller than the P-38 fighter. One rumored explanation for the origin of the name is that the P-38 is approximately 38 mm (1.5 in) long. This explanation also holds for the P-51, which measures approximately 51 mm (2.0 in) in length. U.S. Army sources, however, indicate that the origin of the name is rooted in the 38 punctures around the circumference of a C-ration can required for opening.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Equipment and Tool Storage


Tool storage is very important in maintaining your gardening tools. At the end of each growing season your tools and equipment need to be cleaned or put up for the winter, but even more important is having a shed or some place to store these tools and equipment. Having a shed helps with keeping your tools out of the harsh winter weather and it gives you a place to work on your equipment all year long. It also gives you a place to store seeds, potting soil, fertilizers, and pesticides so you don't have to put them in your home.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Can Rack - LARGE CANS


The ultimate food rotation rack capable of storing a massive amount of canned goods. The FiFO Can Rack is large enough for any situation. The most comprehensive rotation rack FiFO Storage™ has built to date, the FiFO Can Rack is a mammoth-sized food storage shelf made for those who are serious about storing food.

● Front loading technology.
● Stores up to 112 #10 cans. Depending on your can sizes, the capacity of your system will vary.
● Each system is 72" tall, 36" wide, and 24" deep
● Store cans as small as tuna or as large as bulky fruit cans.
● The FiFO Can Rack's durable steel frame is rated to hold over 5000 lbs.
● Trusted quality from the FiFO Storage™ brand

The patented front-loading technology allows for maximum storage capacity in limited space. Because of the first-in-first-out technology, you'll never have to go behind the system for can storage or access. The Can Rack allows you to quickly organize your storage area and it automatically rotates cans. As you pull each can from the bottom row the other cans automatically rotate. Each section is adjustable to any width of can up to 30 oz.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Survival Kit - 1 PERSON


New One Person 72 Hour Emergency Kit gives you one kit for any situation: a quick evacuation or sheltering in place. The backpack fits conveniently inside the bucket and the lid doubles as a toilet seat with bags and chemicals for comfort and sanitation wherever you are. The buckets are easy to carry and the backpacks give you hands free travel. Each kit includes all of the essential supplies you'll need during an emergency.

• Includes food & water, light & communication, warmth & shelter, tools, personal care, and first aid.
• Buckets double as containers and Port-a-Potty.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Radishes


Radish is a cool-season, fast-maturing, easy-to-grow vegetable. Garden radishes can be grown wherever there is sun and moist, fertile soil, even on the smallest city lot. Early varieties usually grow best in the cool days of early spring, but some later-maturing varieties can be planted for summer use. The variety French Breakfast holds up and grows better than most early types in summer heat if water is supplied regularly. Additional sowings of spring types can begin in late summer, to mature in the cooler, moister days of fall. Winter radishes are sown in midsummer to late summer, much as fall turnips. They are slower to develop than spring radishes; and they grow considerably larger, remain crisp longer, are usually more pungent and hold in the ground or store longer than spring varieties.

When to Plant

Spring radishes should be planted from as early as the soil can be worked until mid-spring. Make successive plantings of short rows every 10 to 14 days. Plant in spaces between slow-maturing vegetables (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts) or in areas that will be used later for warm-season crops (peppers, tomatoes and squash). Spring radishes also can be planted in late winter in a protected cold frame, window box or container in the house or on the patio. Later-maturing varieties of radishes (Icicle or French Breakfast) usually withstand heat better than the early maturing varieties and are recommended for late-spring planting for summer harvest. Winter radishes require a much longer time to mature than spring radishes and are planted at the same time as late turnips (usually midsummer to late summer).

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Survival Gardening


Gardening today is the same as it was 100 years ago. You till the soil then you plant. What do you plant? In some cases you must save seed from the past season. This is Survival Gardening.

Hello, my name is Ron, welcome. This article is about gardening to survive. I hope to teach you on some of the ways to get food and prepare for emergencies that could last for years.

Gardening yourself is the best way to acquire fresh vegetables, because you know how they were grown and you determine if they are grown organically or if you use pesticides to control insects.

Now in a survival situation you may not have the luxury of the normal ways of gardening. So you must make do with what you have. The first thing you need is seed. Remember if you garden be sure to let some of your plants go to seed, or fully mature to a dried up state. And store them in a cool dry place.

Half of surviving is being prepared; if you don’t have the tools to help you survive you will perish. So do what you need to do for your own comfort level.

Now if you actually want to have a survival garden in the woods it must blend in with the landscape, no matter where you are at it must blend in so it will not be stolen. Some things to do are cover the soil with leaves or some type of cover to make them blend in. Now you have to remember exactly where they are at or you may walk right over them yourself. Also don't leave any trails to your garden and come in from a different direction every time you go there so you don't leave a trail.

You still want to plant this garden in a remote place where no one will find it. But you also want your garden to be close to where you are. So you can keep an eye on it, and keep it properly watered and also watch the health of your plants. Now make sure your garden gets plenty of sun, this is important for the growth and development of your garden. Make sure you plant this garden in a place where it drains well like on the side of a hill. If you plant it in a low lying area it may trap water and drown your plants. Or be washed away by running water that flows down hill. Just be careful where you plant.

These are just a few things to consider if you ever have to plant in the wild, But be sure to have seed handy even if you have to buy it from a seed company at least you will have seed to survive.
Ron

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Soap to the Rescue

I have this African violet plant that I have had for 8 years now. About a month ago I got up one morning to get ready for work and I noticed about two thirds of the leaves were lying on the counter. I could not believe my eyes, so I got down real close and took a good look at the plant and some kind of cutworm was whacking off all my African violet leaves.

So I sprang into action and got some Ivory Soap and mixed it with water, I used about two cap full's to a cup of water and applied it to the plant spraying the leaves and watering it with the solution. The next day I found a couple more leaves on the counter so this time I said it's time for war, I doubled the amount of Ivory Soap I used the first time and totally soaked the plant so I had to drain it several times to keep from drowning it. About a week later I found some new growth on the plant and It's been a month now and the plant is doing great. I'm not sure what insect got to the African violet but the Ivory Soap surely did the trick.

Now you have to make sure that you use Soap and not Detergent, detergent will kill the plants so I always use Ivory Soap and keep it handy in the house and in the garden. If anyone has an idea as to what insect this may have been I sure would like to hear from you.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

DELUXE 72 Hour Kit - 2 PERSON


Our 2 Person 72 Hour Kits give you all of the essential items needed to survive the first 72 hours of an emergency. Ideal for any couple or parent and child
Product Features Supply Type: Grab-n-Go
Supply Duration: 3-Day
Enclosure Type: Backpack
Needs Supplied: Warmth & Shelter, Water & Hydration, Food & Nutrition, Sanitation & Hygiene, First Aid & Medical, Light & Communication, Tools & Supplies
Situational Usage: Auto, Biological, Earthquake, Electrical, Fire, Flood, Hurricane, Medical, Nuclear, Storm, Tornado
Shelf Life: 1-5 Years
Brand: The Ready Store
Kit Supplies: Food/Water/Equipment
Age Group: Adult
Persons: 2-Person
Product Contents Enclosure (1 Piece):

(1) Heavy duty backpacks

Food & Water (20 Pieces):

(2) 3600 Calorie High Energy Food Bars
(18) 4.227 ounce Datrex Water Pouches

Warmth & Shelter (11 Pieces):

(1) 2-Person Tube Tent
(2) Emergency Adult Ponchos
(2) Emergency Blankets
(6) 8 Hour Hand Warmers

Light & Communication (6 Pieces):

(1) 12-Hour Light Sticks
(1) AM/FM Radio with Batteries
(1) Heavy Duty Flashlights with 2 'D' Batteries
(1) Box of 50 waterproof matches
(1) Survival Candle
(1) Emergency whistles with lanyard

Emergency Tools (2 Pieces):

(1) 5-in-1 Survival Aid with Compass
(1) 12-Function Swiss Style Knife

First Aid & Sanitation (14 Pieces):

(2) Dust Masks
(1) 52pc First-Aid Kit with First-Aid Booklet
(3) Sanitary Napkins
(2) Toothbrush
(1) Toothpaste
(1) Bar of soap
(1) Tissue pack
(1) Comb
(1) Razor
(1) Toilet Paper Roll

To find out more

Monday, September 28, 2009

ULTIMATE Year Supply of Freeze Dried Food - #10 CANS



For those who want a 100% COMPLETE year's worth of gourmet tasting foods, this superior year supply was made for you. You get 3 meals per day plus vegetables and fruits each day for 365 days for one person! Nothing was held back, in fact, we included some of every main course entree available. Now you and your family can enjoy fast, delicious tasting meals anytime with no preparation or cooking! Just add water and eat. Like all Saratoga Farms™ and Mountain House™ #10 cans, this unit will store for up to 30 years. This Ultimate Year Supply comes with 126 #10 cans packed into 21 easy to store cases.

● No cooking or preparation! Just add water.
● 126 #10 cans that come in 7 large boxes containing 21 easy to store cases.
● 100% Freeze-Dried food for the highest quality and shelf life available.
● Up to a 30 Year Shelf-Life!
● Trusted gourmet quality from the Saratoga Farms and Mountain House brands!

Saratoga Farms™ and Mountain House™ freeze-dried foods are second to none in terms of quality and taste. Freeze-Dried foods offer many advantages over dehydrated foods. To Begin with they taste much better because through the freeze-drying process the foods retain their taste, texture, and shape of fresh frozen foods. In addition, freeze-drying locks in the freshness, vitamins, nutrients, color, and aroma of fresh frozen foods while providing the shelf-stable convenience of canned and dehydrated foods.

All the contents of our Saratoga Farms™ and Mountain House™ food storage units are 100% FREEZE-DRIED FOOD with a 30-YEAR SHELF LIFE. Other companies will sell an ""Ultimate"" Year Supply and add additional cans of dehydrated food with high sugar content, inferior quality and a significantly shorter shelf life to increase the number of cans so they can sell it at a higher price. Those additional cans of dehydrated food add bulk, but lack the quality, shelf-life, and nutritional value that freeze-dried food provides you.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Katadyn Water Filters


Nothing puts an end to epic adventures in foreign lands and cultures faster than tainted water; make sure you pack along the efficient Pocket Filter from Katadyn and prevent encounters with nearly all of the bacteria, protozoa and cysts you could encounter. Now any water source you approach can be used to fill your bottles and pots thanks to the silver impregnated ceramic element filter keeping your water clean; made of heavy-duty material so you can travel all 7 continents with 1 filter.

Features:
• Forget about boiling water, water tablets or hauling heavy purifying equipment; the compact design is ideal for packing and weights only 20 ounces
• Built to last and handle the rigors of travel thanks to the durability of the high-quality polypropelene housing material
• It meets industry standards for reduction of Klebsiella terrigena bacteria (99.9999%) and protozoan cysts like Giardia and Cryptosproidium (99.9%); larger than 0.2 microns
• Compact design and quick-connect fittings for easy attachment of hoses
• Efficient water output of up to 1 quart per minute; efficient and easy-use pump handle for filtration
• Pump as much as 13,000 gallons through it before replacing the cartridge
• Comes with prefilter, bottle clip, carry bag, measuring gauge and 2 abrasive cleaning pads to clean the pores of the cartridge
Specifications:
• Weight: 20 ounces
• Height: 10 inches
• Filter life: approximately 13,000 gallons
• Filtration rate: 1 quart per minute
• Housing material: polypropelene

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Growing Carrots


When to Plant

Carrots are usually planted with other frost tolerant vegetables as soon as the soil mellows in the spring. They may be planted earlier in gardens with sandy soil. The soil should be plowed and prepared to a depth of 8 to 9 inches to allow full development of the carrot roots and the seedbed should be worked uniformly to break up clumps and clods that prevent penetration of the roots. Varieties with extremely long roots (Imperator and Tendersweet) usually are recommended only for home gardens with deep, sandy soil. Excess organic debris worked into the soil just before planting also may affect root penetration, causing forked and twisted roots.


Spacing & Depth

Plant seeds 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep (no more than two or three seeds per inch) in early spring. Later sowings may be planted 1/2 to 3/4 inch deep when the soil is dryer and warmer. Space rows 12 to 18 inches apart. A single radish seed planted every 6 to 12 inches can mark the row. Germination requires as long as two weeks and the seedlings may not emerge uniformly. If heavy rains occur after sowing, packing the soil surface, no seedlings may emerge. Thin the seedlings when they are about one inch tall to no more than three seedlings per inch for finger carrots; one or two seedlings per inch for carrots that will be harvested young; and one seedling per 1 to 2 inches for larger varieties like Danvers and Chantenay that will be allowed to develop to full size and be harvested mature for canning or freezing.


Care

Carrots germinate best in warm, moist soil. Covering the row with clear polyethylene film warms the soil and conserves moisture. Remove the film immediately when seedlings appear. To assure germination of successive plantings during the late spring and summer months, it may be necessary to supply water by sprinkling. In the heat of summer, some shade may be necessary to keep the tiny seedlings from burning off at the soil line.

Young carrot seedlings are weak and grow slowly. It is essential to keep weeds under control for the first few weeks. Cultivate shallowly with a knife blade cultivator or hoe. Deep cultivation may injure the roots.


Harvesting

Carrots can be harvested or "pulled" when the roots are at least 1/2 inch in diameter. Under usual conditions, carrot tops may not be strong enough to withstand actually being pulled from the ground and digging helps to remove the roots without damage. Finger carrots are usually ready to harvest within 50 to 60 days. Other varieties should be allowed to grow until they have reached a diameter of at least 3/4 inch (about 60 to 70 days after planting). They then may be harvested over a 3 to 4 week period. Summer planted carrots may be left in the ground until a killing frost. Some gardeners place a straw mulch over the row so that carrots can be harvested until the ground freezes solid. In many areas, a heavy mulch allows harvest of carrot roots throughout the winter. For carrots to be stored, cut off the tops one inch above the root and place in storage at 32°F with high humidity. Carrots may be placed in a refrigerator, buried in lightly moist sand in an underground cellar or stored in the garden in a pit insulated with straw. Under proper storage conditions, carrots keep 4 to 6 months.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


It's my birthday and I am not going to post, have fun gardening friends.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Growing Rhubarb


The planting area should be thoroughly weeded prior to planting. Rhubarb is generally purchased as crowns, rather than propagated from seed. Planting Rhubarb seeds is not recommended, except in extremely southern areas of the United States. In addition Rhubarb is generally not propagated from seed since seedlings are not always true to type. Quality nursery stock for starting new plantings is recommended; this is due to freedom from virus, crown rots, root rots and weeds.

Rhubarb crowns can be purchased from seed catalogs or a local nursery, garden center. Plant the crowns as soon as possible so they don’t dry out.

Rhubarb is normally planted as early as possible in the spring since growth begins when soil temperatures are still well below 50ยบ F. Rhubarb can also be planted in the fall after dormancy has set in.

Plant with the crown bud 2 inches below the soil surface.
Space the roots 36 to 48 inches apart in rows approximately 4 feet apart. Work plenty of well-rotted manure or compost into the rhubarb bed before planting.

Since rhubarb is a perennial, it should be planted to one side or at the end of the garden so as not to interfere with planting and growing annual vegetables. The rhubarb plant has bold ornamental texture and size, and some gardeners find it suitable to include in a perennial flower border.

Plant (or divide) rhubarb roots in early spring while the plants are still dormant, in well drained soil

Old roots may be dug and divided to make new plantings by cutting the roots into no more than eight pieces. Each piece must have at least one strong bud.


Cultivation


Cultivate shallowly as often as necessary to remove weeds. Apply a complete garden fertilizer in early spring before growth begins and side-dress with a high-nitrogen fertilizer in late June. Except in poorly drained sites, organic mulches help moderate soil temperature and moisture. Do not cover the crowns. Flower stalks should be cut off as soon as they appear.

Fertilizer

Lime - should be applied to maintain the soil pH in a range of 6.0 to 6.8...ranges as low as 5.0 are tolerable but not recommended.

Nitrogen - rhubarb has a high nitrogen requirement. Apply as necessary in the first year; otherwise apply nitrogen at bud break along with the phosphorus and potash. Apply a side dressing of nitrogen after harvest

Fertilize with a handful of a 5-10-10 fertilizer in the spring. A modest midsummer application will also benefit these vigorous plants.

Harvest

Do not harvest rhubarb during the first year of planting. Newly set plants need all their foliage to build a strong root system. Stalks may be harvested for 1 or 2 weeks during the second year and for 8 to 10 weeks (a full harvest season) during the third and subsequent years. Harvest in the fall only when the plants are to be discarded the next season.

If seed stalks and flowers develop during the spring and summer, cut them from the base of the plant as soon as they appear and discard them. Rhubarb is an extremely hardy plant. It is a beautiful garden plant, with huge extravagant, lush green leaves and pink or red stalks. Rhubarb is an ancient plant as well.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Collard Greans


Easy Gardening...Collards
Sam Cotner and Jerry Parsons, Extension Horticulturists
Texas Agricultural Extension Service

Collards tolerate more heat and cold than most other vegetables grown in Texas. They are easy to grow, productive and well suited to either large or small gardens. Collards grow best in cool weather and need as much sunlight as possible. They also need a deep soil that is well drained and well prepared. Collards do not form heads and are grown for their leaves. They are a member of the cabbage family.

Soil Preparation and Fertilization

The roots of the collard plant easily reach depths of 2 feet of more. Dig the soil as deep as possible -- at least 10 inches. This loosens the soil so small feeder roots can grow more easily.
If the soil is mostly clay or light sand, add organic matter. A 3 inch layer of compost is adequate. Spread it over the planting area before digging.
Clear the soil of rocks and large sticks. Turn it to cover the plant material on the soil surface. Do this before planting to allow time for the material to begin rotting.

Just before planning, scatter a complete garden fertilizer such as 10-20-10 over the planting area. Use 2 or 3 pounds for each 100 square feet or about 1 cup for each 10 feet of row. Use a rake to mix the fertilizer 3 to 4 inches into the soil.
Work the soil into ridges 6 to 8 inches high and at least 36 inches apart. This brings the fertilizer under the row where the plants can reach it easily. The ridges also allow water to drain away from the plant roots (see Figure 1).
Planting

Collards can be started from transplants or from seed sown directly in the garden. Transplants usually are used for the spring crop. They add 4 to 5 weeks to the growing season since they can be grown indoors before the weather is warm enough to plant seeds outside. Collard seeds sprout when the soil temperature reaches 45 degrees F.

Plant the transplants into the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring -- February or March in most of Texas. Set the plants in the soil about the same depth as they are grown indoors. Space them 18 to 24 inches apart in the row (see Figure 2). Be sure to water the plants after transplanting.
When planting seed, make a shallow furrow about 1/2 inch deep down the center of the bed. Scatter the seed lightly in the furrow. With a little practice the seed can be scattered easily by tapping the edge of the open seed packet lightly with your fingers. One teaspoon of seed plants about 30 feet of row. Cover the seed about 1/4 inch with loose soil or compost. Then sprinkle with water. The plants should come up in 6 to 12 days. However, the colder the soil, the slower the seeds will sprout.

Varieties
• Blue Max
• Georgia LS
• Georgia Southern
• Vates

After Planting

Keep the garden free of weeds. Pull the weeds or hoe them carefully to prevent damage to the collard plant's roots.
After the plants have sprouted, let them grow until they get about 4 to 6 inches tall or become crowded in the row. Then thin the plants gradually until about 18 inches remain between them. The young plants can be either transplanted to another spot or used as greens (see Figure 3). Crowding causes the leaves to be smaller and less green.

Water the plants well each week if it does not rain. When the plants are thinned to their final spacing or if they become pale green in color, add a little more fertilizer. Collards need plenty of nitrogen to develop their dark green leaf color. Scatter 1 cup of garden fertilizer beside the plants for each 30 feet of row (about 1 tablespoon per plant). This is called side dressing. Mix the fertilizer lightly with the soil and then water. The plants may need to be side-dressed again in 4 to 6 weeks if they become pale and there is no sign the change was caused by insects.
For a fall crop, plant seeds in the garden about 80 days before frost -- August or September in most areas. Seed them heavy and then thin.

Insects

Name and Description Control
1/8 inch long; softbodied;green, pink, red or brown; usually found on underside of leaf; sucks juices; often called "plant lice". Diazinon
inchworm that feed on foliage; light green, white or pale yellow; has three pairs of prolegs. Bacillus thuringiensis (Dipel, Thuricide, Biotrol)
Up to 3/8 inch long; sucks plant juices, causing plant to wilt and leaves to turn brown; black with red or yellow markings. Sevin
Before using a pesticide, read the label. Always follow cautions, warnings and directions.

Diseases

Collards are subject to some diseases. If the plants have spots on the leaves, you may need to use a fungicide. Ask your county Extension agent what to use.

Harvesting

Collards can be harvested two different ways. For small plants that need thinning, cut the entire plant about 4 inches above the ground (see Figure 4). Sometimes they sprout back from the side of the stem. Usually, only the lower leaves of collards are harvested. This allows the plant to keep growing and producing more leaves. In mild regions, such as South Texas and coastal areas, collards continue to produce all winter. Collards can stand temperatures of 20 degrees F or less in some cases. They taste sweeter after a light frost.

Serving

Collards are one of the most nutritious vegetables. They are high in protein, vitamins and minerals and low in calories. To prevent loss of nutrients, do not cook collards in too much water.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Growing Garlic


Early autumn is the best time to plant - usually summer finishes and autumn races towards winter and I often find me planting cloves on the colder end of this season. If you really want a successful harvest of these alliums then the cloves NEED to be in the ground at the start of autumn when the ground still has some warmth in it.

The soil needs to be deliciously friable - I know, I know. All we're ever recommended to grow in is friable soil and whoever has that? Well, in the case of growing garlic it's more a necessity than a luxury. Those with clay soils will struggle equally as much as those with sandy soils. The clay soil will restrict the growth of the bulbs in the same way as they encourage bifurcation of carrots. And sandy soils just won't be able to retain the moisture or nutrients that these precocious vegetables demand.
If you want to grow a good crop of garlic then your soil needs to be a welcoming mat. They love a soil that is slightly on the acidic side so pouring compost and manures into your bed before planting will please them beyond imagination.

Keep the soil moist - if your autumn and winters are fairly dry then keeping some irrigation on your young bulbs will prove invaluable. Otherwise, you might just want to mulch the beds. They don't need heaps of water but they don't appreciate drying out either.

Source quality bulbs for planting - most often you can buy bulbs of garlic to grow straight from the supermarket. However, increasingly it seems that many producers are spraying bulbs with growth inhibitors to protect their stock. Your best source for quality bulbs would be from someone who has already grown their own from a past season or from organic producers.

Plant the cloves the right way up! - Like any other bulb, if it's planted incorrectly they will never see the light of day - literally. The base of each clove should be pointing downwards while its peak should face the sun. Fairly obvious, one would assume, but the number of people who ask the question illustrates the need to make the point.

Once your cloves are in the ground you can easily engage the set-and-forget mindset. They will mostly take care of themselves and apart from a side dressing off liquid fertilizer once the foliage begins to show, they won't need much more attention.

Then in late spring, when the leaves begin to die down you can begin to harvest these wonderful veggies leaving them to dry out in the sun before storing. And the best way to store garlic is by braiding and hanging.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Save Your Seeds


Now is the time of year that we harvest our garden and enjoy the bounty that we have grown. But one thing is for sure you must leave some good stock in the ground to save for seed. Just be sure to let the plant mature and fully develop the seeds within it. When you harvest the seed be sure to lay them out on paper towels and let them dry for at least 3 weeks then store them in a cool dry place till next spring when you can germinate them into the next generation of food for the year. This is very important!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Growing Squash


Summer and winter squash are some of the most popular vegetables in the home garden. Summer squash can be eaten raw in salads, stir-fried, steamed, or cooked in various dishes. Winter squash can be baked, steamed, or boiled.

Summer squashes are large, bushy plants. The fruit of summer squash are harvested when they are immature and have soft skins. Fruit can be stored for 1 to 2 weeks. There are several types of summer squash. These include zucchini (cylindrical, club-shaped fruit), crookneck (long, tapered fruit with curved necks), straight neck (bottle-shaped fruit with straight necks), and scallop (flattened, roundish fruit with scalloped edges).

Most winter squashes are large, vining plants. (Several semi-bush varieties are available to individuals with small gardens.) Fruit are harvested when they are mature and have hard rinds. Winter squash fruit can be stored in a cool, dry location for 1 to 6 months. Various sizes, shapes, and colors of winter squash are available. These include acorn, buttercup, butternut, and hubbard.

Suggested Varieties

Summer Squash Winter Squash
Dixie - yellow crookneck Blue Hubbard
Elite - zucchini Burgess Buttercup
Goldfinger - golden zucchini Butternut Supreme
Jaguar - zucchini Sweet Mama - buttercup
Seneca Butterbar - yellow straightneck Table Ace - acorn
Spineless Beauty - zucchini Table Queen - acorn
Sunburst - yellow patty pan (scallop) Vegetable Spaghetti

Planting

Summer and winter squash perform best in fertile, well-drained soils containing high levels of organic matter. They also require full sun. Organic matter levels can be increased by incorporating well-rotted manure or compost into the soil. If a soil test has not been conducted, apply and incorporate 1 to 2 pounds of an all-purpose garden fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, per 100 square feet prior to planting.
Summer and winter squash are commonly planted in hills. Sow 4 to 5 seeds per hill at a depth of 1 inch in mid-May in central Iowa. Thin to 2 to 3 vigorous, well-spaced plants per hill when seedlings have 1 or 2 true leaves. The last practical planting date for summer squash is July 20. Winter squash must be planted by June 10.
For an early crop, start plants indoors 3 to 4 weeks prior to the anticipated outdoor planting date. Since squash seedlings don't tolerate root disturbances during transplanting, start seeds in peat pots, peat pellets (Jiffy 7's), or other plantable containers. Sow 3 to 4 seeds per container. Later, remove all but 2 seedlings. Harden the plants outdoors for a few days in a protected location prior to planting to lessen transplant stress.
Hills and rows of summer squash should be 3 to 4 feet apart. Hills of winter squash should be spaced 4 to 5 feet apart with 5 to 7 feet between rows.

Care

Control weeds with frequent, shallow cultivation and hand pulling. Water plants once a week during dry weather.
Squash bugs and squash vine borers can be serious pests. Squash bugs have piercing-sucking mouthparts. Heavy feeding causes entire leaves to wilt, turn brown, and die. Several methods can be used to control squash bugs in the garden. Adults and brick red egg masses on the undersides of leaves can be removed by hand. Adults can also be trapped under boards or shingles placed under the plants. Turn the objects over daily and collect and destroy the hiding squash bugs. Small, immature squash bugs (nymphs) can be controlled with insecticides, such as carbaryl (Sevin). In fall, remove and destroy plant debris to deprive squash bugs of overwintering sites.
Squash vine borer larvae bore into squash stems near ground level. Larvae feeding within the vines eventually cause the plants to wilt and die. Squash vine borers can be controlled with applications of insecticides (rotenone, permethrin, or marathon) at regular intervals beginning in mid-June. Apply the insecticide to the base of the vines. After the final harvest, remove and destroy the plant debris. Rototilling in fall or spring may destroy overwintering pupae in the soil.

Harvest

Harvest long-fruited summer squash varieties when they are about 2 inches in diameter and 6 to 12 inches long. Scalloped types are best when 3 to 5 inches in diameter. Fruit should have soft skins (rinds) that are easy to puncture with a fingernail. Seeds should be soft and edible.
Mature winter squash have very hard skins that can't be punctured with the thumbnail. Additionally, mature winter squash have dull-looking surfaces. When harvesting fruit, leave a 1-inch stem on winter squash. Store the fruit in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Growing Lima Beans, one of my favorites




Lima Bean

When summer temperatures warms the soil beans can go from seed to table in about 60 days. Of the many types of beans, the two most frequently grown by home gardeners are snap beans and lima beans. Each of these can be divided into two types. Low growing plants and tall growing plants. The legume family also contains many delicious vegetables that have beanlike seeds but that only remotely resemble the familiar type of beans.

Both the bush and pole types of lima beans have larger and more spreading vines than their snap bean counter parts. Lima beans do best in areas where summers are long and rather warm. Limas are panted like snap beans except they need more space. Plant them 4 to 6 inches apart in a row. In clay soils plant them on edge to improve the chance of germination.

Planting

Plant beans from seeds sown in the ground as soon as the soil has warmed up. Beans are frost tender and require a soil temperature of 65 degrees to sprout reliably. Either check the soil temperature with a soil thermometer or wait until late leafing trees (oaks, hickories, and pecans) uncurl new spring foliage. Successive crops can be planted until midsummer. Plant seeds of bush beans 3 inches apart in rows 18 inches apart. Pole bean plants are much larger, requiring 3 feet between rows and 9 to 12 inches between plants. If you want to run the vines up tepee shaped supports, dig holes in the corners of a 3 foot square and plant three pole bean seeds in each. Cover seeds 1 inch deep in clay soils, 1 ½ inches in sandy soils.

Care

To avoid the spread of diseases from plant to plant, cultivate shallowly and only when the foliage is dry. Water frequently by soaking the soil instead of sprinkling. Moist foliage invites bacterial disease in humid areas. High nitrogen fertilizers and heavy application of compost will encourage more foliage growth than vegetable production. Use a fertilizer with a nitrogen phosphorus potassium ratio of 1:2:2, applying it every three to four weeks in a shallow furrow about 6 inches away from the plants. Cover the fertilizer band with soil. If you furrow irrigate apply the fertilizer in the furrows so water can carry it into the root zone of the bean plants.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Growing Cucumbers Continued

Care
Cucumber plants have shallow roots and require ample soil moisture at all stages of growth. When fruit begins setting and maturing, adequate moisture becomes especially critical. For best yields, incorporate compost or well-rotted manure before planting. Cucumbers respond to mulching with soil-warming plastic in early spring or organic materials in summer. Use of black plastic mulch warms the soil in the early season and can give significantly earlier yields, especially if combined with floating row covers.

Side-dress with nitrogen fertilizer when the plants begin to vine. Cucumber beetles should be controlled from the time that the young seedlings emerge from the soil.

In small gardens, the vines may be trained on a trellis or fence. When the long, burpless varieties are supported, the cucumbers hang free and develop straight fruits. Winds whipping the plants can make vertical training impractical. Wire cages also can be used for supporting the plants. Do not handle, harvest or work with the plants when they are wet.


Harvesting
Pick cucumbers at any stage of development before the seeds become hard. Cucumbers usually are eaten when immature. The best size depends upon the use and variety. They may be picked when they are no more than 2 inches long for pickles, 4 to 6 inches long for dills and 6 to 8 inches long for slicing varieties. A cucumber is of highest quality when it is uniformly green, firm and crisp. The large, burpless cucumbers should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter and up to 10 inches long. Some varieties can grow considerably larger. Do not allow cucumbers to turn yellow. Remove from the vine any missed fruits nearing ripeness so that the young fruits continue to develop. The cucumber fruit grows rapidly to harvest size and should be picked at least every other day.

Selection & Storage
There are two types of cucumbers common to the home gardener - pickling cucumbers and slicing cucumbers. The phrase "cool as a cucumber" is an apt one. Growing in a field on a hot summer day, the interior flesh is 20 degrees cooler than the outside air temperature.

Harvest cucumbers early in the morning (before have been heated by the afternoon sun) and refrigerate immediately. Store for up to 3 days in the refrigerator in loose or perforated plastic bags. Supermarket cucumbers are covered with an edible wax to protect them from moisture loss. The wax gives them an unnatural sheen. Fresh cucumbers are dull green in color.

Pickling cucumbers — Pickling cucumbers should be picked every day, since they can quickly grow too large for use. Do not leave over-mature, yellow cucumbers on the vine. If a single cucumber is left on the vine, the vine will stop producing altogether.

Slicing cucumbers — Slicing cucumbers should be harvested as needed. But there is no practical use for baseball bat size cucumbers. They are tough and the seeds are woody. Harvest when they are 8 inches long or smaller. As with pickling cucumbers, remove the over mature ones as soon as you see them or they will halt the growth of new cucumbers.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Growing Cucumbers


When to Plant Cucumbers

Cucumbers are usually started by planting seeds directly in the garden. Plant after the danger of frost has passed, and the soil has warmed in the spring. Warm soil is necessary for germination of seeds and proper growth of plants. With ample soil moisture, cucumbers thrive in warm summer weather. A second planting for fall harvest may be made in mid- to late summer.

Cucumbers may be transplanted for extra-early yields. Sow two or three seeds in peat pots, peat pellets or other containers 3 to 4 weeks before the frost-free date. Thin to one plant per container. Plant transplants 1 to 2 feet apart in rows 5 to 6 feet apart when they have two to four true leaves. Do not allow transplants to get too large in containers or they will not transplant well. Like other vine crops, cucumbers do not transplant successfully when pulled as bare-root plants.

Spacing & Depth

Plant seeds 1/2 to 1 inch deep and thin the seedlings to one plant every 12 inches in the row or to three plants every 36 inches in the hill system. If you use transplants, plant them carefully in warm soil 12 inches apart in the row.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Growing Radishs


Radish is a cool-season, fast-maturing, easy-to-grow vegetable. Garden radishes can be grown wherever there is sun and moist, fertile soil, even on the smallest city lot. Early varieties usually grow best in the cool days of early spring, but some later-maturing varieties can be planted for summer use. The variety French Breakfast holds up and grows better than most early types in summer heat if water is supplied regularly. Additional sowings of spring types can begin in late summer, to mature in the cooler, moister days of fall. Winter radishes are sown in midsummer to late summer, much as fall turnips. They are slower to develop than spring radishes; and they grow considerably larger, remain crisp longer, are usually more pungent and hold in the ground or store longer than spring varieties.

When to Plant

Spring radishes should be planted from as early as the soil can be worked until mid-spring. Make successive plantings of short rows every 10 to 14 days. Plant in spaces between slow-maturing vegetables (such as broccoli and Brussels sprouts) or in areas that will be used later for warm-season crops (peppers, tomatoes and squash). Spring radishes also can be planted in late winter in a protected cold frame, window box or container in the house or on the patio. Later-maturing varieties of radishes (Icicle or French Breakfast) usually withstand heat better than the early maturing varieties and are recommended for late-spring planting for summer harvest. Winter radishes require a much longer time to mature than spring radishes and are planted at the same time as late turnips (usually midsummer to late summer).