Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mulching Your Garden

Mulch your beds as soon as you have planted and watered. Use material that has weathered for several months so as not to deprive the soil of nitrogen. This may happen with the application of fresh organic material which has not weathered. Old leaves, bark, dry grass clippings, wood shavings or any other loose, light material will do. Spread mulch several inches deep over the soil between the plants, press the mulch gently around the base of the stems, taking care not to break the stems or bury the leaves. Proper mulching will conserve moisture and help keep down the weeds.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Watering Your Garden

The best source of water for your garden is rain, as long as rain keeps your soil moist underneath the mulch, or just under the surface of the soil, no watering will be needed. An actively growing garden requires at least 1 inch of rain per week. If you are not getting that or your plants wilt during the warmer part of the day, you probably need to water. During the first 3 weeks after setting out your plants, check moisture weekly. If the surface is dry beneath the mulch, dig down 6 inches with a trowel. If the soil is still dry at that depth water your bed. Later in the season after roots have reached deep into the soil, you need to water only if signs of wilting appear.

Water well but not too often. Soak the garden up to 4 hours at a time letting water soak deep, and then let upper soil layers dry out before watering again. This promotes deep root growth and a more lasting beauty and better harvest from your plants, and helps retard weed growth.

Several watering methods are effective. Ground watering with soaker hoses or a carefully placed hose soaks deep and avoids wetting the foliage, but these devices are sometimes hard to set up or move. Impulse jet sprinklers lay down a lot of water fast and are easy to move around but can beat small or tender plants down. A fine spray sprinkler of the oscillating or whirling type is both gentle and easy to move, but slower to water.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Hardening Off a Seedling

Transplants that have been raised indoors are soft, and must get used to sun, wind and rain. It is best to let them “harden off” gradually for several days before planting in the garden.
Move the trays of transplants outdoors to a sheltered, shady place out of the wind. Keep them well watered. If they wilt anyway, bring them back inside until they perk up again. Be sure to bring them back indoors in the evening.
After two days, leaves and stems should be stronger. Move transplants to a half-sun location for 2 more days. When they are tough enough to go through the day without wilting, it’s time to plant them in the garden or container.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Care after Sowing Your Seeds

Until seeds have sprouted, keep the seed bed moist, never allowing it to dry out. Water with a fine spray hose nozzle or watering can which will provide a fine misty spray and not wash away the soil. Water often enough (usually once a day) so that the soil surface never dries out, but remains constantly moist.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Top 5 Priorities of Emergency Preparedness


Before we get to priority #4 here is the summary of your top 5 Priorities of Emergency Preparedness. They are:

1. MAKE A PLAN. Review, Rotate, Replace. Make adjustments for family size, age and local community needs. Consider evacuation, communication and staying put.

2. GRAB-N-GO SUPPLIES. 72 hour kits, MREs, food bars, water pouches, water purification, first-aid, storage.

3. SHELTER-IN-PLACE SUPPLIES. Radios, flashlights, first-aid, sanitation & hygiene, warmth & shelter, storage.

4. CLEAN WATER. Water storage, barrels, filters, storage.

5. SHELF STABLE FOOD. Items in pantry, short term and long term food storage items.

Priority #4 – clean water is something that I have addressed in different ways on this blog. The reason I keep going back to it, is because having access to clean water in an emergency is so critical and almost always overlooked until it is too late. Here are a few obvious points to understand about water, but that I want to make very clear:

Without water you die very quickly – Depending on your health and age, you will live for 5-7 days without clean water. You can live much longer without food.


Water is heavy and takes up a lot of space – A gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. Water is not easy to transport because it is so heavy. That means your emergency water plan should account for that.
Keep these items in mind when you are doing your planning. For example, you may want to put a gallon of water per day in your 72 hour kit. But, that will weigh about 25 lbs. Are you strong enough to carry that water around? Are your children strong enough? Will it even fit? So make sure you plan.

The recommended amount of water from a variety of sources like the American Red Cross is 1 gallon of water per person per day. That is water for drinking, cleaning, cooking and sanitation. It is not for just drinking. You and I don’t drink a gallon of water on a normal day. But to be safe and to take of other needs, 1 gallon of water is the recommendation. If you start doing the math on how much storage space that would require for you and your family for 1 year, you will start to understand my recommendations below.

Here is my approach to water and what I recommend. In an emergency, you need to have a 3 ways of getting to clean water:

1. STORE WATER – Every Shelter in Place supply should have water storage. A small word of caution: don’t try to go cheap on your water storage. Buy a food grade water storage container like a 55-gallon, 30-gallon or 5-gallon stackable container and use that. Don’t fill up your old juice bottles or worse your old milk jugs. The best barrels and water containers are made from 100% non-toxic food-grade HDPE plastic, are heavy duty, and opaque to keep sunlight from promoting bacteria growth in your water. Good water containers are not to terribly expensive and when the time comes that you need the water, you will be glad you stored water you can actually use. Also, have a variety of sizes of storage containers. Don’t just have a 55 gallon barrel that you never move and never clean out, or worse... never even fill up. Use smaller, easier to transport containers like a 5 gallon stackable. Remember, water is heavy!

Also, you won’t rotate your water as much as you think you will, so make sure you use some sort of water stabilizer that allows the water to be stored safely for 5 years without rotating. We have a Water Preserver that works well. But, if you do have the water stored but you are not sure if it is safe or you come across water in an emergency and you don’t know if it is safe, that leads me to my 2nd point.

2. HAVE A PORTABLE WATER FILTER – These portable water filters are extremely handy and will allow you to clean suspect water that you come into contact with and make it drinkable. These portable micro filters are will remove bacteria and protozoa from the water, but most of them won’t kill viruses without adding some sort of purifying solution like our water preserver. One of the only water filter that actually filters out viruses is the Katadyn Extreme Purifier Water Bottle. It is a great unit and extremely light but has a smaller filtering capacity of only 100 liters (26.4 gal). Water filters are especially useful fi you have a stream, lake, pond, river or well by your house. You will be able to clean the water from those sources using these filters. Water filters range in capacity from small light weight filters like our Frontier Pro Water Filter which will filter 200 liters (53 gal) all the way up to heavy duty filters like our Katadyn Pocket Water Filter which will treat 50,000 liters (13,208 gal). That is more than 240 55-gallon barrels worth of water. An impossible amount of water for most people to store. I really like or MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter water filter and the Katadyn Combi Water Filter. They are also great for backpacking and camping can have that dual purpose.

3. HAVE A WATER PURIFICATION SOLUTION – Water purification tablets, liquids, or powders are very handy to have around and a small bottle or packet will chemically treat from 5-gallons to 50-gallons of water. They work fairly quickly (typically in less than a half an hour) and will kill bacteria, protozoa and viruses. You have several options in this area. The most common is iodine-based tablets like our Potable Aqua. These are very effective and relatively inexpensive but do leave your water tasting a bit like iodine, so you can get the Potable Aqua with PA Plus that has an additional tablet to make your water taste and look better after the iodine treatment. Another option is the PUR™ Purifier of Water this is an ingenious powder solution that not only purifies but also filters out any particulate matter from dirty water with a simple cloth. It is really amazing how this stuff works; you can watch a video of PUR™ in action here. Another option is the MSR Miox Water Purifier. This is really an amazing device that replicates the process used in municipal water treatment facilities but puts it right in your pocket in an incredibly small device using mixed oxidants to purify your water with only salt and electricity from rechargeable lithium batteries. MSR Miox Water Purifier is more expensive initially but provides one of the cheapest long term water purification solutions anywhere.

Remember that if you don’t have any of these three things, you can still clean water by boiling it. As a matter of fact, boiling is most effective way to clean water except it won’t take out the floaties like a filter will. The problem with boiling water to drink is it uses a lot of fuel that you may not want to use for that purpose. Also, don’t forget to have portable water pouches in your emergency supplies. They have a 5 year shelf life and are very handy to have around.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Where to Store Food

Now, you know why you should have food storage and you know what to store. So, let’s talk about where to put all this stuff once you get it. Store the food in a cool, dry place. This one you have heard over and over, but it is the rule of thumb for storing your food. Two things cause your food to loss nutritional value and spoil: oxygen and moisture. Hence the dry place. Keeping your food storage cool slows down spoilage dramatically. The cooler, the better. Make sure you have your food stored in such a way that it has little or no contact with air.

Basements are perfect for food storage because they maintain a steady cool temperature year round. But many people across the country don’t have basements, so storing your food at room temperature (typically 75 degrees year round) will be just fine. I know a lot of people that store their food in cases under their beds or in closets. Just make sure you can get to it when you need it and it won’t get damaged.

I recommend keeping your food off the ground and in the original packaging as much as possible. By keeping the food off the ground on shelves or stacked, you will prevent the food from being damaged by somebody stepping on it, dropping it or kicking it. You also want to keep your food in a place where you can get to it, but that isn’t in the way. If you dent a #10 can it may affect the seam of the can and thereby affect the shelf life.

Also, by maintaining as much of the original packaging as possible, you will prolong the shelf life. So, if you buy a bunch food of in #10 cans, keep the food in the #10 cans. You may even want to keep them in the cases that they were shipped to you in. You can repackage your food in zip lock or even vacuum sealed bags, but it will reduce the shelf life.

How

Let’s talk about how much food you should store and how to get started. Basically, you want to have at least a 3 month supply of long term food storage. Meaning that is food that will store for at least 10 years. You have that much food for each person in your family. After you reach that point keep adding to your storage until you feel comfortable. To get started, just do what you can. Work within your budget and buy the food you need. The most important part about getting started is to get started today!

Who

Who should you have food storage for? Of course yourself, but also everyone in your family. Make sure you take into consideration children and special diets as you store your food. You should also consider your neighbors and others in the community that might be in need of your help. Just make sure you have enough food to take care of your family and neighbors if possible. It is always better to have more food than you would need, just in case.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

What do I Store


Now, let’s talk about what food you should store. Here goes:

Store food based on how you cook – a 50 lb. bag of wheat is great, but you have to know how to turn it into food. That is why I really like the freeze-dried prepared meals like Mountain House and Saratoga Farms.

Store food with the longest shelf life possible – To get the most out of your food storage investment, you will need to buy foods that will store for the longest time possible. Look at your food storage as an annual cost. If you spend 1,000 on food that will store for 10 years, your annual cost is $100/year. If you spend the same amount on food that will store for 30 years, your annual cost is $33/year. A big savings. It also means you have to rotate your food a lot less. Which means you will be able to use the food when you need it.

Store a variety of foods – You should have prepared meals (like Mountain House) and fruits, vegetables and other staples (like Saratoga Farms) in all varieties in your long term food storage. The more variety, the better the nutrition will be and the healthier your food storage will be.

Work towards at least a 3 month supply for everyone in your family – Having a 3 month supply of long term food storage will give you a good buffer against whatever emergency you may face. After you have built it up to that point, than move to 6 months, then 9 months and then a year.

Store foods that are easy to prepare – Simplicity goes a long way in your food storage. Don’t store complicated foods or meals. You don’t know what resources will be available to you when you will need to use the food. That is another reason I like Saratoga Farms and Mountain House. You just add hot water and stir. No cooking is required.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Why You Should Store Food


First, let’s talk about why you should have food storage. Here are 4 great reasons:

Insurance – As we have discussed in previous posts, food storage is on the best insurance policies you will ever buy. And best of all, unlike other insurance policies, you can still use it even if you don’t ever really need it. Just remember, when the house is on fire, it is too late to buy fire insurance. You need to prepare ahead of time by having your food storage in place when you need it.

Hedge against inflation – As fuel and oil prices go up, so do food prices. This will happen. Since July 2008, oil and correspondingly gas prices have come down a ton, but never fear, they will go back up. The food you buy today will be considered a deal 20 years from now when it is still usable and good. That is also why you buy long shelf life items.

Peace of mind preparedness – What is peace of mind worth to you? With so many worries in our lives isn’t nice to be able to take one off the list? Having your food storage in place and being prepared will help you diminish the fear cycle that we experience when we watch the evening news.

Food storage is a sound investment – Every expense in your life is some kind of investment. Money spent of long term food storage will pay dividends as a usable insurance policy, as a hedge against inflation and by giving you peace of mind.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Food Storage

Food storage is critical to be able to survive a disaster. In our modern society we can go to the local grocery store any time of day or night and buy whatever food we need. It is so easy and convenient that we don’t consider what we would do if that resource was not available. The idea of food storage can seem so drastic when we have a fully stocked Wal-Mart right around the corner. But, speak with someone who has gone through a hurricane and ask them how quickly the store shelves get cleared out of canned food and water. Not only will those food stuffs disappear within hours or days, but they will not be replenished quickly. At that point you will have to rely on your own food storage to survive. You may have to survive only days, but it may be weeks or even months.

Because food storage is a very in depth topic I will do my best to keep it brief. Here are the areas that we need to understand:

Why – Specific reasons why you should store food?
What – What type of foods should I store?
Where – Where should I store my foods?
How – How much food should I store? How do I get started?
Who – For whom should I store food? What should I consider when I am storing food?

To be Continued:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some other things to consider

FIRST AID: First aid can help a person survive and function with injuries and illnesses that would otherwise kill or cripple him/her. It’s important to have a first aid kit in almost any emergency situation to treat any type of trauma like lacerations, which may become infected, bites or stings from venomous animals, bites leading to disease, infection through food, animal contact, or drinking contaminated water, bone fractures, sprains, burns, poisoning from consumption of, or contact with, poisonous plants or fungi.

TOOLS: In an emergency or disaster situation, tools and supplies are not one of the most basic essentials, but they can greatly increase your ability to effectively provide for yourself and others in an emergency situation. A pocket knife, a shovel, some pliers, or a compass could greatly improve your chances of survival if one finds them self in a fleeing situation.

LIGHT & COMMUNICATION: As with tools, light and communication are not essential to your immediate survival, but they are invaluable tools in helping to protect yourself from greater danger and assisting you in acquiring safer and more stable living conditions.

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