Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

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.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Fall Gardening

If you have had a successful summer growing season, you can continue growing vegetables with fall gardening. You shouldn’t have to stop growing because of a frost. There are many different types of vegetables that can be grown up until early winter. Fall gardening is a great way to get more from your garden area and increase your over all harvest. You will be able to enjoy fresh greens into the winter months and more importantly, you will save money on groceries.

The vegetables used during fall gardening are considered cold weather vegetables. This means that they have a higher tolerance for cooler temperatures and can live and thrive even after the first frost. These vegetables include most types of lettuce, spinach, mustard leaves and cabbage. If your pre winter temperatures do not go below 40 to 35 degrees, you can also grow broccoli and cauliflower. For cooler climates, you can include rutabagas, turnips and carrots. Fall gardening is basically the same as summer gardening. But there are a few tips that can make it a bit easier, so that you can have a bigger harvest.

You will never want to place seeds in the garden in the late summer. The temperatures are too hot and rain is usually scarce during this time. Garden pests can be another problem when the weather is hot and the newer plants will not do well under any of these conditions. It is a good idea to start the seeds indoors and start with a stronger, healthier plant to place in the garden.

Place your seeds in small cups of soil. You can use Dixie cups or yogurt cups but make sure that there are holes in the bottom of these containers for water drainage. Place a few seeds in every cup and cover lightly with a bit of soil. Keep these plants watered and in an area that has sunlight. A windowsill is a perfect place for your starter plants. The best time to do this is exactly 12 weeks back from your first predicted frost. But this also depends on how fast the plants grow. For example, lettuce grows at a fast rate, so always read the directions on the seed package to know exactly when to place them in your garden.

When the plants are 4 to 5 inches tall, they are ready for your garden space. Choose a cloudy cooler day to plant them and make sure that the debris from your summer garden is gone. Remove any dead or dying plants and give your new plants fresh soil to grow in. Completely saturate the soil a few times a week, while your new plants are growing.

You should make sure that the types of vegetables you are using are specifically used for fall gardening. Some brands of all of the winter vegetables are made for different climates or to be grown in milder temperatures. You can ask when purchasing these plants, if they are supposed to be used for cold weather crops.

Don’t forget your onions, garlic and asparagus. They should be planted between September and October and they should be even spaced apart to produce healthier plants in the spring. This way, as soon as spring starts, you can begin to harvest your freshly grown vegetables.

If you would like to take it one step further with your fall gardening, you can add an organic fertilizer to the soil. Manure, fish emulsion or compost is a great way to improve the soil and this helps to produce larger, healthier vegetables. Due to the cooler temperatures, you will not have to worry about pests and insecticides. This means that your vegetables will be considered organic and this will save you even more at the grocery store.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saving Onion Seeds

Did you know that you can save the seeds from onions in your garden to plant next year? It's true. Once the garden onion matures and grows an attractive white flower resembling a ball, it's easy to save lots of onion seeds for next year's garden. Saving onion seeds saves money and gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

Onions are rich in vitamins B6, B1, K, C, folic acid, chromium, biotin, and fiber. It only makes sense to add this nutritional vegetable to the summer garden and to also save the seeds. I'm a nut about saving seeds from vegetables in our garden each year. It's so easy to save seeds from onions, as well as other garden vegetables. In saving onion seeds, you'll have onion seeds to give your gardener friends and you can also give onion seeds to people who desire a garden, but don't have the money to get one started.

Here's all you need to do to save onion seeds:

Harvest your onions in the usual way, once they're ready to be picked. By the way, onions are ready to harvest when you can see the top of the onion peeking out of the ground. Save one onion, do not pull it up, leave it in the ground for the onion to turn to seed. How do you know when an onion has turned to seed? A beautiful, round white flower will emerge from the onion. These flowers can get quite tall and attractive, but, like most things in life, the beauty of the flower will soon fade. When the onion flower looks as if it's seen better days, cut the flower, along with a little of the stem, from the onion.

I stumbled upon the next step to save onion seeds by accident. Get a mason jar and put the onion flower inside. If you don't have a mason jar, a glass jar will do fine. Leave the onion flower alone for a couple of weeks. The onion flower will dry out and open up, releasing the tiny black onion seeds from the flower. If you have a band and lid for your mason jar, put on the lid and just shake the jar to encourage more seeds to release from the flower. Toss the spent onion flower in the compost bin, and there are your onion seeds for next year's garden

Saturday, September 4, 2010

How to Save Tomato Seeds

This is a really simple process. Here's how you save tomato seeds:
1.Choose a ripe, perfect tomato.

2.Cut it across the center of the fruit.

3.Squeeze the seeds, gel, and juice out into a small cup or jar.

4.Cover the seed gunk with two to three inches of water.

5.Label your container so you know which variety of tomato you saved seeds from.

6.Set the labeled jar in an out-of-the way spot and wait.

7.After about three days, white mold will start to form on the surface of the water. This means that the gelatinous coating on the seeds has dissolved.

8.Once you see the white mold, pour off the mold, the water, and any seeds that are floating (floating seeds are bad - they wouldn't have germinated.) You want all of those seeds sitting at the bottom of the cup.

9.After you've poured the mold and bad seeds off, drain your seeds in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under running water. It's not a bad idea to move the seeds around with your fingers to remove any extra gel that may be clinging to them.

10.Dump your rinsed seeds onto a paper plate that has been labeled with the variety name. (Yes, paper plates. Not ceramic. You need something that will wick the water away from the seeds so they dry fast and don't get moldy.)

11.Make sure your seeds are in a single layer on the plate, and set it aside a few days so the seeds can completely dry.

12.Once they're dry, put them in a labeled envelope, baggie, or other container and store in a cool, dry spot. I like to keep mine in the fridge.

Tomato seeds will keep well and germinate reliably for up to ten years if stored properly.

So, there you have it. Save seeds from your favorite tomatoes, and grow them every year. You'll be helping to protect genetic diversity in our food supply and keep some great heirloom tomatoes growing. And you'll be rewarded each and every time you enjoy a ripe, juicy tomato straight from your own garden.