Cindy Rajhel at Home Grown Fun
- Banana Peels – Eating a banana helps replenish lost potassium. Roses love potassium too. Simply throw one or two peels in the hole before planting or bury peels under mulch so they can compost naturally. Get bigger and more blooms.
- Coffee Grounds – Acid loving plants such as tomatoes, blueberries, roses and azaleas love coffee grounds mixed into the soil, sprinkled on top of the ground before watering, or poured on top of the soil. If using as a soil drench, soak 6 cups of coffee grounds in a 5 gallon bucket of water. Let it sit for 2-3 days and then saturate the soil around your plants.
- Egg Shells – Wash them first, then crush. Work the shell pieces into the soil near tomatoes and peppers. The calcium helps fend off blossom end rot. Eggshells are 93% calcium carbonate, the same ingredient as lime, a tried and true soil amendment! I use eggshells in my homemade potting mix. This gives me healthy, beautiful fruits fit for seed saving.
- Seaweed – Fresh seaweed should be washed well before use to remove salt. Asian markets sell dried seaweed. Both fresh and dried versions are considered excellent soil amendments. Seaweed contains trace elements and actually serves as a food source for soil microbes. Chop up a small bucket of seaweed and add it to 5 gallons of water. Let it sit for 2-3 weeks loosely covered. Use it to drench the soil and foliage. 2 cups work well for a small plant, 4 cups for a medium plants and 6 cups for a large plant. Experiment with amounts. Combine seaweed with other tea fertilizers.
- Weeds – You’ve got your own fertilizer growing under your feet! Nettles, comfrey, yellow dock, burdock, horsetail and chickweed make wonderful homemade fertilizer. There are several ways you can use them to make your own brew or to speed up your compost pile. If your weeds have not gone to flower you can dry them in the sun and chop them up to use as a mulch. They are high in nitrogen and won’t rob your plants of nutrients. Borage (starflower) is an herb but for some people it’s a weed. It has many of the same nutritional properties as comfrey. I dry the entire plant, root and all, and put it in my compost tumbler. It helps break everything down and gives the pile an extra dose of heat. For this next brew, get out the bucket and your bandana! The bandana you’ll need for your nose because this technique gets stinky! Place a bunch of weed leaves and roots in a 5 gallon bucket. Weigh down the leaves with a brick to ensure the plant matter is covered and add water to cover. Stir weekly and wait 3-5 weeks for the contents to get thick an gooey. Then use that goo, diluted 1:10 or more as a soil drench fertilizer. To make it even more convenient, you can use two buckets and make a hole in the bottom of the bucket that contains the plants. The goo will seep through to the lower bucket. It’s always best to apply the liquid fertilizer diluted – it should look like weak tea.
- Molasses – Using molasses in compost tea increases microbes and the beneficial bacteria that microbes feed on. If you want to start out with a simple recipe for molasses fertilizer, mix 1-3 tablespoons of molasses into a gallon of water. Water your plants with this concoction and watch them grow bigger and healthier.
- Human Urine – Sounds disgusting, but urine is considered sterile if the body it’s coming from is healthy and free of viruses and infection. High in nitrogen, urea contains more phosphorous and potassium than many of the fertilizers we buy at the store! If serving tomatoes that have been fertilized with pee gives you the “willies”, try it in the compost pile. A good ratio of urine to water would be 1:4. You can collect a cup of urine and pour it into 4 cups of water in a plastic bucket used outside for fertilizing plants. Pour 2 cups around the perimeter of each SMALL plant. For MEDIUM plants add 4 cups and LARGE plants deserve a good 6 cups of your personal home brew.
- Grass Clippings – Rich in nitrogen, grass breaks down over time and enhances the soil. Fill a 5 gallon bucket full of grass clippings. You can even add weeds! Weeds soak up nutrients from the soil just as much as grass. Add water to the top of the bucket and let sit, covered for 3 weeks. Stir it once a week. Dilute your grass tea by mixing 1 cup of liquid grass into 10 cups of water. Apply to the base of plants using the same amounts as listed above in the urine recipe.
- Manure – Chicken, horse, cow manure. With a little effort, you’ll find folks that are giving away composted animal manure for free. Use manure that has been exposed to air and heat for at least six months. To speed up the process, add some straw, shredded paper or leaves. Add the composted manure to a small permeable bag made from recycled cloth, e.g., a t-shirt or old towel. Let it steep in the shade for a few days and apply it to your soil to condition it before planting. Bury or discard the used bag. Some people use manure tea to soak bare root roses!
- Cat and Dog Food – Depending on the dog food you recycle, this soil amendment may not be organic. However, even the cheap stuff contains protein and micro-nutrients that benefit the soil. To prepare a garden plot for planting, sprinkle dry pet food on the bed, turn the soil and water. Let it decay naturally. To discourage wildlife from visiting for a snack, cover with cardboard until the food decomposes. The cardboard will also trap moisture and discourage weeds. Make sure the cardboard get wet all the way through and cover with mulch. Water thoroughly every week for four weeks. Soybean meal and alfalfa pellets from the grain store work great too. Sometimes grain stores will sell for cheap or give away spoiled grains. Check the feed for salt content and try not to add pet or animal food considered high in sodium. The AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) recommends dry dog food contain a minimum of 3% sodium to support normal growth and development.
- WAIT, THERE’S MORE
- Cornmeal – Contains lots of phosphorus and nitrogen and acts as an effective fungicide. Add a cup of cornmeal to 5 gallons of water. Let it soak for several hours, then strain the liquid so you can add it to a spray bottle. Spray the leaves of plants that are susceptible to fungus. You can combine this cornmeal tea with compost tea for even more benefits. I use the leftover water from cooking corn on my vegetable garden.
- Worm Poo – Making my own worm tea is easy. I started with a handful of red wiggler worms about 6 years ago and haven’t stopped since. Check out our video below on composting with worms to see how easy it is to make this amazing fertilizer!
- Reproduced with Permission. To read more articles by Cindy, visit her website at Home Grown Fun
Lisa Lynn, from The Self Sufficient Home Acre presented alternative ways to preserve food during the 2014 Survival Summit. Food preservation is important because fresh food has a short shelf life. Extending the life of food allows for less waste. We all need to expand our preservation skills as part of our survival plans. We have no guarantee that we will have food in the future just because we have some today. Whether we acquire food from a grocery store or by foraging, hunting, fishing or gardening, these tips are useful.
Some preservation techniques require purchasing additional equipment, like pressure or waterbath canners, vacuum sealers and their supplies. In the long run, you can save money and more importantly, you know the quality and the source of the food you preserve. There are several techniques that can be used without electricity.
Root cellars and clamping involve storing fruits and vegetables in cool storage. Root cellars need to be below ground far enough to be below the freeze zone. They need to have good ventilation and a way to control the humidity and temperature as different crops have varied optimum storage requirements. Clamping involves digging a trench, adding straw layers below and above the stored food, covering the straw with soil and a tarp. Stored items need to be checked frequently, using or discarding the oldest or any that are past their prime. Remember one rotten apple can spoil the rest.
Dehydrating fruits and vegetables allows for longer storage time, the food is often much lighter and more portable. Herbs can be dried by simply hanging them in a dry place out of direct sunlight.
The Sun Oven® can be used for dehydrating fruit, vegetables or meat. You need to watch the temperature so the food doesn’t get cooked. Alternatively, you can build a fire, cover it with a lattice of branches, then smoke and dehydrate at the same time.
If you smoke meat, the temperature should be 145º F. Adding green wood, small twigs & branches to a low fire will create lots of smoke. The length of drying time will depend on the thickness of the meat slices. Adding salt to thin strips will speed up the process. Salt is a natural preservative. It draws moisture out and kills bacteria. To extend the shelf life, add ground celery seed as natural nitrates to kill bacteria. The drier the meat, the longer you can keep it. Moist cured meat should be used within six months. Store it in temperatures from 36-40º F. Place it in an air-tight, non-reactive container – don’t use cast iron or aluminum pans. Fish can also be smoked and dried or salted and air dried.
Fermenting and culturing food with bacteria and yeast causes a chemical change in the food that allows it to be kept for a longer time. Examples of fermented and cultured food include sauerkraut, cheese, yogurt, kimchee and pickles. The probiotics present in this process increase the nutrition and digestibility of foods.This process creates some marvelous, complex flavors. Plan to use jars or crocks and colored sea salt (not processed). The standard fermenting recipe is 6 TBS salt to 1/2 gallon water. Lactobacilli thrive in a fermenting environment and repel other decomposing bacteria. Make a liquid to submerge the vegetables. Cover and watch for bubbles, that’s a sign the process is working. You will need to add an airlock valve or burp the lid from time to time to let the gas out. Store in a cool place. Fermented foods will keep for several months, but most foods are not suited for very long storage.
Editor’s Note: After Hurricane Ivan, a friend of ours dug a pit in the ground, lined it with plastic bags, straw and rock salt. Into it she placed the frozen contents of her freezer, covered it with plastic bags, followed by more rock salt and straw and topped with styrofoam. Things stayed frozen for nearly two weeks in the hot Florida weather.
In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. In May 2013, tornadoes devastated part of central Oklahoma. This outbreak included the deadliest tornado of the year on May 19 in Moore, Oklahoma. In just one month, November 2013, at least 70 tornadoes spanned seven Midwestern states. In addition, these events included a major flood event and a western drought/heat wave. These events resulted in 109 deaths.
Each year, people suffer or are seriously injured by severe weather despite advance warning. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have partnered for the third year to highlight the importance of making severe weather preparedness a nationwide priority.
We all want the peace of mind of knowing that our families, friends, homes and our businesses are safe and protected from threats of any kind. While we can’t control where or when the next disaster will hit, we can take action by preparing ourselves and loved ones for emergencies and learning what actions to take.
Knowing your risk, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you could take to be better prepared to save your life and others.
Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. During active weather, stay alert of the forecast by listening to radio or television, check the weather forecast regularly on weather.gov, obtain a NOAA Weather Radio and listen for Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) on your cell phone. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
Take action: Develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice how and where to take shelter before a severe weather event. Post your plan in your home where visitors can see it. Learn how to strengthen your home and business against severe weather. Take action and participate in a local event on April 30 through America’s PrepareAthon and ensure you know what to do when severe weather occurs.
Be a Force of Nature: Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered through your social media network. Studies show that individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting – be one of those sources.
Reproduced with Permission
A first aid kit should contain more than just bandages and antiseptic creams. There are a variety of items in your kitchen cabinet and perhaps on your window ledge that can be added to first aid kits.
- Aloe Vera is a member of the succulent family, related to cactus. It has a reputation for healing and soothing burns. Keeping a plant growing in a kitchen window will make it handy to snip a leaf and apply it to burns. Aloe Vera can be used to make a mouth rinse and hand sanitizer. It is also soothing for sunburn. 1
- Cayenne Pepper can be used for wounds that won’t stop bleeding. Apply the powder topically over the wound. Mixing a teaspoon of cayenne to a cup of warm water and giving it to the person to drink has been reported to stop a heart attack in progress. 2
- Ginger helps reduce nausea or motion sickness and lower blood sugar levels (diabetics use with caution). Available in many forms: capsules, powder, tea, essential oil, crystallized or fresh rhizome, it has also been used for indigestion, gas or bloating.Sipping a tea made from boiled ginger rhizome has been shown to reduce nausea for cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. 3
- Clove Oil has pain reducing properties. It is often used in dental emergencies. I’ve made a small pouch of ground cloves in gauze, tied with dental floss and tucked it under and around the inside of a broken molar. This provided pain relief and kept the side of my tongue from being sliced by the sharp filling until I was able to see a dentist. 4
- Raw Garlic Cloves have been touted as great medicine for asthma, coughs, difficulty breathing and other disorders of the lungs. It can be used to clear sinuses, stop bug bite itching, and relieve ear aches. 5
- Peppermint Oil is especially useful for headache and stress relief. Use a small amount of carrier oil, like almond, and a drop of peppermint oil rubbed on your temples, forehead, over the sinuses (avoid the eyes), and on the back of the neck to soothe headache.6
- Witch Hazel has been used for centuries by Native Americans as an astringent. In addition to treating acne and oily skin, it can be used to reduce eye puffiness and for shrinking blood vessels (did you know it is a major ingredient in Preparation H® hemorrhoid cream?) Witch Hazel is an excellent remedy for sore throats. Make a tea from leaves and twigs by soaking them in very hot water. Add a few cloves and soak for at least 15 minutes. Strain off the solids and gargle with the tea. Tattoo artists use Witch Hazel to cleanse a new tattoo. It cleans the skin of germs and bacteria and soothes inflammation.7 Dab it on cuts and scrapes to reduce bleeding and clean an injured area to prevent infection. Eases sunburn discomfort.
These are just a very few natural products to add to your first aid kit. We would love to know what other items you include. Send your comments to: email@example.com.
Last month Survival Summit interviewed Nicole Telkes, an herbalist from The Wildflower School in middle Texas. Her definition has nothing to do with growing marijuana, but rather means foraging for, eating, and growing plants that we may have considered annoying weeds. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can create foraging space, even in urban areas. As people interested in using the plants we have and in conserving our environment, the first step is becoming aware of the plants growing around you. There are lots of useful and edible plants in your neighbor-hood. With only a few plants sprouting as spring begins, it is a good time to acquire a plant identification book or two to study before you start eating wild plants. Learn to recognize the poisonous plants first. Here are a few edible plants to look for:
- Wild onions and wild garlic – these will have smaller bulbs than garden grown ones and will have a distinctive onion scent. They pack a lot of nutrients. Best cooked in soups.
- Chickweed – as one of the first spring weeds, it has small, white flowers that have five deeply lobed petals, a single row of hairs on the stem and opposite smooth edged leaves. High in vitamins A&C, it is also a good source of iron and anti-oxidants. Can be eaten raw as salad greens or cooked like spinach.
- Dandelions – the leaves, flowers and roots of this ubiquitous plant with toothed edged leaves and yellow flowers are edible. Young leaves are best when picked before the flowers appear. Serve them in salads or wilted with a hot dressing. Flowers can be cooked as fritters, and the roots used for tea.
There are too many people in the US to survive off wild plants. If we needed to forage for 100% of our food, we would need to get creative and very accurate in plant identification. In addition, we would be spending most of our days finding food. That’s why agriculture became so popular. Challenge: make a list of the top ten weeds in your neighborhood. Study them and learn their uses.
One inexpensive herbicide is a combination of vinegar and dish soap. Apply this treatment on a sunny day. The acetic acid in vinegar will burn the weed leaves on contact and lower the pH of the soil, making recovery difficult.
To a gallon of vinegar, add a teaspoon of liquid dish soap,
which helps the vinegar stick to the plant leaves. If you plan to use the area treated for something other than plants, you can add 1/2 cup of salt as well. This will add a final blow to the ground. Remember in history and Bible classes, reading about how a conquerer salted the fields? Just in case there were battle survivors, plants would not grow for some time and the survivors would starve.
Do you have nasty, woody, deep rooted weeds
growing in your garden amongst all the other plants you want to keep? I’m talking about the ones with taproots so deep you can’t pull them out, or even dig down to the end of the root to loosen it enough to yank! Some have roots longer than the length of plant above the ground. The problem too is that they are so close to desirable plants you simply cannot spray them with weed killer either! And for these plants you need poison ivy or “woody” weed killer and you need to somehow apply this ONLY to that plant.
“Guante de Muerto”
Here is the trick I came up with that I call my “Guante de Muerto” or “Glove of Death!” You need to mix up a small necked quart bottle of WOODY weed or POISON IVY or BRUSH killer, you can even make it a bit concentrated! For safety, I put a latex surgical type glove on my left hand, followed by a disposable polyethylene glove. THEN I put on only one left absorbent COTTON glove. They are very inexpensive! (All right handed if you are a lefty) Now, go out into the garden and pour some of the weed killer into your left glove to soak the palm and lightly grasp the stem of the plant you want to kill near the base. Carefully pull your hand up along the length of the plant, coating the undersides of
the leaves with the brush killer solution. You don’t want to grasp it so tightly that you strip the leaves off, but you need to coat the leaves because these herbicides by being ABSORBED INTO THE PLANT BY THE LEAVES!. The herbicide is distributed by the plant through its system and kills everything, roots and all. The neat thing about the Guante de Muerto (which has kind of a ring to it!) is that if you are careful, you are ONLY applying the killer to the plant you want to kill! You can keep reusing the glove. Be sure to extensively wash your hands when you are done!
As the weather heats up, so do the number of bug bites and bee stings. No one enjoys getting nibbled on by our insect friends but for those times when you do find yourself dealing with the discomfort of a bite or sting, make sure you have some coconut oil on hand. I’ve documented 333 uses for coconut oil!
When coconut oil is applied to bites or stings, it forms a thin layer that protects the cut from dust and bacteria. With its anti-bacterial properties, you can rest assured that you are getting some much needed protection from any germs trying to take advantage of a little opening into your body! Coconut oil also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can provide quick relief for itchy insect bites.
If you are dealing with a really deep or painful bite or sting OR you just couldn’t help yourself and you scratched it raw, there are a few other natural treatments you might want to consider using in addition to coconut oil.
Aloe vera is a medicinal plant with many benefits. It contains vitamins and amino acids that help regenerate the skin. The gel can be applied directly to the affected skin in concert with coconut oil. I like to apply a layer of aloe then top it with a layer of coconut oil.
Garlic is a powerful antibacterial. It is nature’s antibiotic. Because of its powerful antibiotic property, garlic can cure more serious insect bites and stings. In disinfecting wounds, crush and juice a garlic bulb and apply directly onto affected area. A gauze and bandage application may be used to cover and protect the area.
Sweet basil leaves and seeds have many medicinal benefits, including the treatment of insect bites and stings. To treat insect bites and stings, juice out crushed fresh leaves and add water. Apply the juice onto skin directly on the bite or sting.
Of course, it is best to avoid getting nibbled on or stung in the first place.
Here are some suggestions that I’ve found to be helpful in preventing potential bites by mosquitoes, bees, and other bugs:
1. When you’re outdoors, wear light-colored clothing. Many insects use their vision to locate targets from a distance; dark clothing and rich foliage are prime attractants.
2. When working in the garden or hiking in dense foliage, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants. Insects are less likely to stick around if they can’t access your skin easily.
3. Whenever practical, try not to be outdoors for long stretches at a time when you are hot. You release more carbon dioxide when you are hot, and this is a major attractant of insects, especially mosquitoes.
4. Try not to be outdoors after an intense workout. Vigorous exercise can result in significant lactic acid build-up in your muscles, and lactic acid is a strong attractant of mosquitoes.
5. Don’t eat salty foods. Salty foods can cause production of higher-than-normal amounts of lactic acid.
6. Wipe off perspiration on a regular basis. Perspiration attracts insects via the chemicals contained within. Perspiration increases the humidity around your body, which also attracts mosquitoes specifically.
7. If possible, stay away from pools of water. Even mud puddles and moist plants attract all kinds of insects.
8. Wear a natural insect repellent particularly one that is heavy with essential oils. Check out Carrie Raab’s post on essential oils as insect repellent for some great ideas.
It is a simple thermometer designed as a transparent tube containing wax. It will float in a pot of water and melt when the water has reached 150º F (65ºC) for 6 minutes. This is the time required to destroy all microorganisms and dangerous pathogens that cause diseases from drinking contaminated water. At most altitudes, water boils at 212º F. It takes as much energy to bring water from 200º F to 212º F as it does to bring the water from the ambient temperature to 200º F. Pasteurizing water uses considerably less energy than boiling it and less than half the amount of time. Using the Sun Oven® to pasteurize water allows alternative fuel to be saved for other uses.
Many people keep a piece of cheese cloth with their emergency preparedness supplies. Pouring water through the cheesecloth will filter out solid impurities before it is pasteurized.
For many years we offered WAPIs which were attached to a nylon cord for use in the Sun Oven®. If you needed to pasteurize water and there was no sunshine, using this design with other forms of fuel often resulted in a melted nylon string. The Multi-Fuel WAPI design can be used successfully in a Sun Oven® or on a campfire, with charcoal, propane, or any other type of fuel.
WAPIs are resilient
It has a high temperature molded polypropylene case which serves as a carrying case for storage and as a float to enable the WAPI to be submerged in the water to be pasteurized. To use, remove the tube from the storage case and snap it into the hole provided in the bottom, with the wax end up. Place it into the pan or jar of water to be treated. When the wax has dropped to the bottom of the tube, the water, when cool, is safe to drink. The WAPI can be reused hundreds of times. Keep it with your emergency supplies. Our WAPIs are Made in the USA.
made naturally by bees, from the nectar of plants, for their own consumption. After collection, the bees regurgitate the nectar into hexagonal-sided honeycomb cells made of wax and stored inside a bee hive. The constant fanning by the bees’ wings cause evaporation creating the sweet liquid we call honey. The color and flavor of honey will vary based on the flower nectar collected. Beekeepers harvest honey by collecting the honeycomb frames and scraping off the wax cap made by the bees to seal the honey in each cell. Spinning the frames in a centrifuge extracts the liquid from each cell.
It is a versatile food staple and with a little care, can be stored indefinitely. Honey found in Egyptian tombs was still good after 2,000 years. Consider adding it to your emergency supplies.
processed with a minimal amount of heat, contains many phytonutrients which provide anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties. There are three key health benefits: it is a natural energy booster, a great immune system builder, and a natural remedy for many ailments
When you use it in cooking instead of sugar, reduce the amount by 1/2, reduce liquid by 1/4 cup and reduce cooking temperature 25º.
As a remedy for ailments, it can be used for hangovers, sore throats, sleeplessness, and cuts and burns. Mix it with vinegar for a self-detox, with cinnamon for bad breath and hair loss, and with milk to improve digestion. Do not feed it to babies less than a year old because of the danger of botulism.
Recent declines in honey bee populations
have researchers looking for causes. Their results show a complex mix of pesticide and fungicide exposure and bee pathogens as the problem. Some regulatory agencies are considering stricter controls on agricultural chemicals used as part of the solution.