Seed Starting Class, Jan. 23rd, 2021

 

Seed Starting Class

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021  1:00-3:00 pm

Bill and Julie Michener’s house

Text 509-830-5431 to RSVP

 

Class content: seed sources, what kind and how much to order for your household, sprouting methods, hardening off, transplanting, seed saving, storage and more.

There will also be a garden tour to look at the instructors’ 14’×37′ poly tunnel and cold frames to see what all we are growing and harvesting right now with no heat.

Practical Self Reliance: 60+ Unique Fruits & Nuts for Cold Climates (Zones 3-5)

Ashley Adamant at Practical Self Reliance writes about 60+ Unique Fruits & Nuts for Cold Climates (Zones 3-5) More photos through the link at the original article. Where we live is a bit warmer than this around zone 6, but we have aronia, elderberry, chestnut, goji berry, blue/black/rasp-berry, currants, rhubarb, and silverberries at home. And, of course, several of these are grown commercially in the area. We’ve tried some cold hardy figs, but I think it’s just a little too cold for them. We’ve also got a couple of kiwi vines which do well as vines, but so far no fruit. We still hold out hope for them, though.

Cold climate gardening can seem limiting, and you just can’t grow many common supermarket fruits.  That just means you have to get creative because there are literally dozens of delicious cold hard fruits you’ve probably never tried.

Harvesting Honeyberries

 

One of the things I really love about permaculture is how the design manuals really think outside the box when it comes to perennial plant varieties.

Alongside apples, pears, and raspberries, you’ll find mention of Cornelian cherries, lingonberries, beach plums, and spicebush —all manner of food forest crops to keep things interesting in the kitchen year-round.

Our permaculture homestead is in a cold zone 4, with temps that occasionally dip as low as -27 F in the winter.  While we won’t be harvesting mangoes anytime soon, there are still plenty of options for temperature climate permaculture food forest plantings.

The plants listed below are well suited to grow in zone 3, 4, and 5, providing good yields with minimal effort for a well-planned diverse permaculture homestead.

Aronia Berries (Aronia melanocarpa)

Currently gaining popularity as a new age super food, Aronia berries are actually a wild edible native to much of the US.  They come in two main varieties, black Aronia and red (though there’s also a “purple” Aronia, thought to be a hybrid of the two).

They’re easy to grow and resistant to disease, preferring wet soils and tolerating partial shade.  Once established, bushes are highly productive and can grow 6 to 8 feet tall.

Hardy in zones 3 to 9.

Wild Berries of Black Chokeberry (Aronia)

Apples & Crabapples (Malus sp.)

The vast majority of apple varieties are hardy to zone 4, if not zone 3, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from.

Don’t just go with the grocery store types you know, branch out and try some really unique varieties by reading through a few well-stocked nursery catalogs.  Make sure you plant a mix of summer apples, along with late fruiting good keepers for a solid supply of year-round fruit.

Don’t forget to add in a few crabapples, both for pollination and amazing fruit.  Dolgo crab, in particular, is a good choice, as it’s a profuse bloomer with delicious fruit.

Hardy zone 3 to 9, depending on the variety.

Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)

Many apricot trees are hardy to zone 3, but they’re still not common here in Central Vermont.  I asked a nurseryman why, and he told me they don’t do well here because of our wet summers.  Apricots are susceptible to fungal diseases, and they do better with less humidity and heavy rains.  Nonetheless, we’re trying a few out.

The past few years have been hit or miss for rains, and we had one summer with an epic drought and no rain for more than 6 weeks straight.  You never know what the weather will throw at you here in New England, and we might just get lucky.

Growing up in California’s high desert, we were often buried in apricots (literally), and we’d make ourselves sick gorging on them.  If you have dry summers, they’re a good option, even in cold climates.

Some varieties hardy zone 3 to 9.

Apricot, Manchurian Bush (Prunus mandshurica)

Native to colder regions in Asia, the Manchurian bush apricot is very hardy.  The trees naturally stay small, growing about 12 feet high and 12-18 feet across at the widest point.

Though the trees are hardy to zone 3, late frosts can damage the buds and prevent fruiting in the coldest regions. Plant in a micro-climate that melts out late or protects the trees during late frosts.

We planted three near our pond, which moderates temperatures and helps create a more stable micro-climate.  Everything I’ve read says they’ll bear fruit in 2-3 years.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Hardy zone 3 to 9.

Autumn Olives (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Another wild edible, autumn olives, are actually considered invasive in some parts of the country.  They’re profuse, easy to grow, and birds easily spread the small soft fruit.  I’ve seen two varieties, red and gold.

I’m particularly excited about these, but it’s hard to find a source of plants.  From what I’ve read, autumn olives grow readily from hardwood cuttings, so if you’d like to mail me a bundle of sticks in late winter or early spring, I’d really appreciate it.

I recently found some from a new wholesale nursery we’re trying out, and they have seedlings available for $4 each or $20+ for named varieties.

Hardy in zones 3-9.

Beach Plum (Prunus maritima) 

Once common in coastal regions from the mid-Atlantic states to Canada, Beach Plums have been wiped out by coastal development and population explosions. It is rare in many states.

In spring, Beach Plum trees are covered in white-petaled flowers that turn pink once pollinated. By late summer and early fall, blue-purple plums cover the plant. Wildlife loves these plums, but at one time, so did humans living near these trees.

While tart, Beach Plums are rich in antioxidants and can be turned into delicious jams. Some use these fruits in cordials and wines.

Hardy in zones 3-8. 

Beech Trees (Fagus grandifolia)

Though not often thought of as a food source these days, beechnuts were a historically significant source of calories.  The nuts are very high in protein and part of Native Americans and early settlers’ diet.

They’re abundant in our woods already and quite productive, though it’s hard to beat the squirrels to them.

Beech trees grow in zones 3 to 8.

Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Often overlooked because the nuts have a slightly more bitter taste than English walnuts, black walnuts can be delicious if appropriately handled. It’s important to get them out of the green outer husk quickly because that husk contributes to the bitter flavor.

The green husk is made into a black walnut tincture (and powder) for use against intestinal parasites and an iodine supplement.

Black walnut trees are also one of the dozens of species that can be tapped for syrup, and they make a unique dark-colored sweet syrup.

Black Walnuts are hardy from zones 4 to 9; some say even to zone 3.

Black Walnuts in Hulls

Blackberries (Rubus fruticosus)

Blackberries aren’t as popular as blueberries or raspberries, but they’re an easy berry bush to add to your backyard. I grew up with fresh blackberries from my grandmother’s backyard. She would give me a bowl of blackberries with milk and a sprinkle of sugar – such a good snack.

Once planted, blackberries are easy to grow and do exceedingly well in these USDA zones; they’re native to the area. You don’t need to plant more than one bush because they’re self-fertile, but a few bushes will give you a large yield.

Hardy to zones 4-9.

Blueberries (Cyanococcus)

Everyone has heard of blueberries, and they’re some of the easiest berry bushes to grow. Blueberries take time to grow; it can take up to 10 years for a blueberry bush to reach a mature size, but that means they have a long lifespan.

After planting, expect it to take 2-3 years before you receive any sizable harvest, but they’re worth the wait. While waiting, blueberry bushes are attractive, with leaves turning several shades in the fall.

After establishing, blueberry bushes need simple care, including watering, fertilization, and yearly pruning. Aside from that, you don’t need to worry too much; they handle themselves well.

Their hardiness depends on the variety selected. You can find varieties hardy from zone 3-9. 

Buffalo Berries (Shepherdia argentea)

Sometimes called rabbit berries, Buffalo berries are a hardy shrub that reaches between six and 20 feet tall. They’re commonly found along streams throughout the Great Plains in North America.

Fruit appears on the shrubs between August and September in abundance. Buffalo berries are scarlet-red or golden-yellow and have a tart flavor that tastes great when used in relishes or jelly. Besides fruit production, adding buffalo berries to your property gives you a winter hardy and drought tolerant plant that can also fix your soil’s nitrogen issues.

Buffalo berries prefer to grow in zones 3-9, but with adequate protection, they might grow in zone 2 as well. 

Butternut Trees (Juglans cinerea)

When I first heard of butternuts, I immediately thought of the butternut squashes I grow in my garden, but these are a type of tree that belongs to the walnut family. Butternut trees are native to the eastern United States and Canada, growing wild in some regions.

Sometimes referred to as white walnuts, butternut trees produce their harvest in late October, developing buttery-flavor nuts. These nuts are popular for baking, fresh eating, and confections due to their unique butter flavor.

Growing butternut trees require well-draining soil and full sunlight, but they adapt well to most conditions. They reach up to 60 feet wide, so space everything else around your trees appropriately.

Hardy in zones 3-7.

My two year old son holding a few wild foraged butternuts (husked, cured and dried)

My two year old son holding a few wild foraged butternuts (husked, cured and dried)

Canadian Buffalo Berry (Shepherdia canadensis)

Cousin to the above-listed buffalo berries, Canadian buffalo berries grow in colder climates. These shrubs are typically found in Newfoundland, Alaska, Oregon, and parts of the Rocky Mountains.

These fruits are edible, but some say that the flavor isn’t as desirable as the original buffalo berries. The yellow flowers that cover the shrub eventually produce red berries.

This variety produces dry sites and handles the occasional drought, but they don’t like excessive heat. Production dramatically declines when the temperatures rise too high.

Canadian buffalo berries grow in zones 2-6. 

Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus)

These are rarely a common plant you’ll find in your landscape, but Carolina Allspice is a fragrant plant with maroon to brown flowers. The foliage is also fragrant when crushed. These bushes grow well in most soils and climates.

After the flowers, Carolina Allspice shrubs grow fruit that looks like a brown seed pod.

You can let these dry out or use the oven at a low temperature if you don’t want to wait. Once dried, smash and dry them and use them just like cinnamon.

Hardy from zone 4-10. 

Carpathian English Walnut (Juglans regia var. carpathian)

Carpathian walnuts belong to the English walnut family, but these trees handle cold temperatures and weather better. They grow further north than other cultivars and produce a steadier harvest in areas with variable winter.

When growing Carpathian walnut trees, give them plenty of space to grow. They grow up to 60 feet tall and 60 feet wide. Expect fast growth; the trees can grow more than two feet per year, especially in ideal conditions, growing best in full sunlight with at least six hours of sunlight.

The nuts are thin-shelled and easy to open, maturing 1-4 weeks before the hull opens. Expect yields of nuts starting in the middle of fall. The nuts are oval and measure up to two inches in diameter. It takes between 4-8 years for the tree to produce any nuts.

Carpathian English walnuts grow in zones 4-7. 

Cherry Trees (Prunus avium)

Homegrown cherry trees give you delicious fruit without too much work. Cherries are broken down into two categories: sweet cherries and sour cherries.

Sweet cherries are what you see in the supermarket for fresh eating. It takes between 4-7 years to bear fruit.

Sour cherries are used for cooking, in particular, pies and preserves. Some people call these tart cherries because their flavor isn’t as sweet. These trees take 3-5 years to bear fruit, depending on the variety.

Sweet cherries are hardy in zones 5-7, and sour cherries are hardy in zones 4-6. 

Cherry Plums (Prunus cerasifera) 

Cherry plums are a particular group of Asian plum trees, and some are a hybrid between plums and cherries. Prunus cerasifera is a native tree typically grown as a small, ornamental tree that produces fruit if there is another pollinator nearby…(continues)

Practical Self Reliance: 50+ Green Tomato Recipes

Green Tomato Cake

Ashley Adamant at Practical Self Reliance has compiled a list of 50+ Green Tomato Recipes with links. A few years ago we had few of our tomatoes ripen. I don’t remember if we planted late or had an early frost, but we were left with plants full of green tomatoes. We ended up canning many different green tomato products like the mentioned green tomato mincemeat, green tomato salsa, green tomato chutney, and more. We also met green tomato spice cake for the first time, which was a delicious surprise. We use a nearly identical recipe to the Paula Deen recipe below, but with a cream cheese frosting (like for carrot cake) instead of the brown butter icing. So don’t despair if you find yourself with a surfeit of green tomatoes.

Green tomato recipes are an old fashioned tradition meant to ensure every last bit of the harvest is put to good use.  Don’t let those underripe tomatoes go to waste, there are so many creative ways to use green tomatoes (besides the ever-popular fried green tomatoes).

Green Tomato Recipes<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-14082″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/practicalselfreliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Green-Tomato-Recipes-12.jpg?resize=600%2C400&ssl=1″ alt=”Green Tomato Recipes” width=”600″ height=”400″ data-recalc-dims=”1″>

 

Every year my tomato plants set fruit well into the fall months…only to be killed by early frosts in our short 100 day Vermont growing season.  We’ll top the plants with spare bedsheets to protect them from light frosts, but when temps well below freezing those tomato plants are done for.

With a killing frost on the way, it’s time to strip the plants bare before nightfall.  That often means buckets, baskets, and totes filled to the brim with green tomatoes.

With patience and good airflow, many of those underripe beauties will still ripen on the counter over the next few weeks.  Many though, will spoil in buckets long before they ripen.

This isn’t exactly a new problem, and resourceful gardeners have been cooking up green tomato recipes for generations.

Green Tomato Canning Recipes

Since green tomato harvests usually come by the bucketful in the fall, it’s no surprise that there are literally dozens of ways to preserve green tomatoes.  You can’t fry them all, but it’s easy enough to preserve green tomatoes with enough creative green tomato canning recipes.

Green tomatoes are actually more acidic than fully ripe tomatoes, and their texture holds up better to prolonged cooking.  Add in a flavor that works equally well in savory and sweet recipes, and you’ve got the perfect vegetable for everything from pickles to pie filling.  (Yes, really…home canned green tomato pie filling…)

There are so many green tomato canning recipes, I’ve separated them into savory and sweet.

Pickled Green Tomatoes<img class=”aligncenter size-full wp-image-14093″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/practicalselfreliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Pickled-Green-Tomatoes-2.jpg?resize=600%2C400&ssl=1″ alt=”Pickled Green Tomatoes” width=”600″ height=”400″ data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Savory Green Tomato Canning Recipes

Green tomatoes maintain their crunch better than cucumbers for pickling, but they also make excellent salsa, ketchup, and chutney.

All of these recipes are perfect for water bath canning, but they also make great refrigerator or freezer preserves as well (no canner required).

Canning green tomato slices means you can make fried green tomatoes mid winter! (Image Courtesy of A Farm Girl in the Making)<img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-14094″ class=”size-full wp-image-14094″ src=”https://i2.wp.com/practicalselfreliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Canning-Green-Tomato-Slices.jpg?resize=1536%2C1152&ssl=1″ alt=”Canning green tomato slices means you can make fried green tomatoes mid winter! (Image Courtesy of A Farm Girl in the Making)” width=”1536″ height=”1152″ data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Canning green tomato slices means you can make fried green tomatoes mid-winter! (Image Courtesy of A Farm Girl in the Making)

Green Tomato Chutney from Lovely Greens<img aria-describedby=”caption-attachment-14080″ class=”size-full wp-image-14080″ src=”https://i0.wp.com/practicalselfreliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Green-Tomato-Chutney-from-Lovely-Greens.jpg?resize=750%2C440&ssl=1″ alt=”Green Tomato Chutney from Lovely Greens” width=”750″ height=”440″ data-recalc-dims=”1″>

Green Tomato Chutney (Image Courtesy of Lovely Greens)

Sweet Green Tomato Canning Recipes

I know, it sounds strange, but green tomatoes are actually amazing in sweet preserves.  I was really skeptical, but I absolutely loved old fashioned green tomato jam.

Don’t knock it until you try it…(continues)

 

Here’s the Green Tomato Cake recipe that my family uses:

Green Tomato Cake

4 cups chopped green tomato

1 T salt

————-

1/2 cup soft butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 cups flour

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t ginger

1/4 t ground clove

1 t baking soda

1/4 t salt

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts

Mix the chopped tomato in a bowl with the 1 T salt and let  stand for 10 minutes. Rinse and drain the tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Grease and flour a 9×13 cake pan.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add eggs and beat until creamy. Stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger, clove, baking soda, and 1/4 t salt. Add raisins and nuts, mix and then added the creamed mixture. Mix all together then add tomatoes and mix well. Pour mixture into greased baking pan.

Bake 40-45 minutes.  Frost with cream cheese icing.

AYWtGS: How to Ensure That You Have Seeds for Next Year!

Kim Deel at A Year Without the Grocery Store gives some ideas for having seeds for next year’s garden in The 2020 US Seed Shortage – How to Ensure That You Have Seeds for Next Year!

Whether we’ve been gardening for years or learning how to Guerilla Garden more recently, we’re at a point in the US where many feel the need to grow at least some of their own food.  For most of us, just the word “shortage” can bring up some powerful emotions, perhaps a bit of fear? anxiety? Or worse, panic?  Do you feel like giving up on gardening because you believe there is nothing you can grow without seeds?  Let’s dig deeper and investigate what the seed shortage of 2020 really means. Let’s explore what we can do about it because this is about getting-food-on-the-table!  I hope you are ready for a FUN challenge!

***There are links in this post.  Some of the links may be affiliate links. My promise to you is that I will only recommend the most economical version of the best quality of items to serve you. Many of these are the items that I have bought for my own family.  If you click on a link, your price will remain the same.  If you make a purchase, we may make a small commission which aids in the cost of running of this website.***

Seed Shortages and What to DO About Them!There are some lies being perpetuated.  But we’re going to speak the truth.

LIE:  There are no seeds available.

TRUTH:  Seed companies have not been able to keep up with the overwhelming demand for seeds this year.

The seed shortage is real, and it is a simple case of supply and demand.  Seed companies, like all other businesses, base their expected future sales on averages of sales from past years to help determine how much inventory they anticipate will be needed for the upcoming season. Since seed companies prepare more than a year ahead, there is no way anyone could have predicted that COVID-19 was going to hit and skyrocket the demand for seeds.   It is important to remember:  This is only a TEMPORARY setback!

New Demands

Now that the demand for seeds is higher, companies and individuals will begin to save more seeds to meet consumer demand.  The bad news is, it might take a year or so to “get back to normal” and adjust to the increased demand.  There **will** be seeds available, it just might be a bit tricky to find a specific variety for a little while.

Getting Creative

So, we have a big question—What are we going to do about it?  Well, we are going to get creative and find seeds!  This is going to be a challenge.  But I hope you will choose to make it fun, like going on a treasure hunt!  I need you to shift gears a bit, I want you to focus on our mission, which is to save seeds for our future.  In the past, we’ve been all about growing the biggest, get-food-on-the-table harvest, but today we will take a step back, and focus on seed saving to prepare for our future, because the tortoise wins in the end, right?

Seed Shortage Challenge#1  Seed Shortages and What to DO About Them!

Learn how to save seeds.  Any time spent on learning how to save seeds will give back more seeds than you can possibly plant in your lifetime.  My favorite, hands-down winner of a reference guide is “Seed to Seed” by Suzanne Ashworth.  My copy was published in 2002 and it has paid for itself many times over.  This book will teach you how to properly gather and prepare seeds for storage. This is an absolute must for your prepping library.

Seed Shortage tip #1

Choose your sacrificial fruit wisely.  For example, tomatoes– choose the most beautifully-perfect tomato from your entire plant, even if a worm has chewed on part of it, it’s still a great choice for saving seeds for next year. You don’t want to save the seeds from a sickly tomato because we don’t need sickly tomato plants in our future gardens.   Seed saving is a savings account and as we invest those beautifully-perfect seeds, you and your family can enjoy many beautifully-perfect tomatoes in the coming years.

(Your future self will thank you!)

Seed Shortage Tip #2

Let your sacrificial fruits stay on the vine until they are over-ripe, past the point that you want to eat it, but not rotten.  Doing so will yield large seeds that are hardy and will give you the best success at growing plants next season.

Saving Problematic Seeds

Start in your own backyard.  Look around and see what you can “pay forward” to your future garden.  Do you have any herbs that have flowered and “gone to seed”, if so, snip those flowery seeds off, stuff into a paper bag, and let dry?  Remember to label them because once they are drying on your dining room table, they all look the same! (Trust me on this: been there, done that.) Transplant something.  Even if you don’t want to, please transplant!  Divide some of your overgrown herbs and place them into pots to bring in the house over the winter.  Share with a friend or pay-it-forward — put out a curb alert on social media and share your bounty with a total stranger!  Got Flowers?  Marigolds, zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers, or hundreds of other varieties?  Even if these always re-seed for you, pick off a few dried flowers anyway and save them to share with someone.

Back to the garden – cucumbers, and tomatoes – these seeds need to be fermented before storing.  Simply put the seeds in a bowl of water to break down the slick coating for a few days until a white film forms at the surface, then rinse well and place on a paper towel until dry and you are ready to store.  I like to store my seeds in snack-size plastic baggies, as paper envelopes can absorb moisture and ruin the seeds.

My Melon Story

Last spring I purchased Kajari melon seeds.  I was super excited, as this was my first time growing them.  I only planted 5 seeds, but they grew quickly and soon began to sprout softball-size melons—they are so good!  Below you will find a picture of the seeds that I was able to harvest from ONE single melon.  Beyond that one melon, one Kajari plant has over a dozen melons on one single plant!    One tiny seed has the potential for thousands of Kajari melon plants!   How cool is that?  Now you understand why I say there isn’t a shortage of seeds, there is a shortage of SAVED SEEDS.  We must band together to collect, save, and share the seeds!!  If every gardener would save their seeds and share with others, we could go from the Seed Shortage to the Seed Abundance in a very short period of time!

What About You?

Have you ever saved seeds before?  Do you know about any good seed exchanges?  Are there any other creative ways of which you are aware that people can obtain seeds?  Share with us in the comments below so that we can all be better prepared!

Together lets Love, Learn, Practice, and Overcome.

Backdoor Survival: Fall Onion and Garlic Planner

Samantha Biggers at Backdoor Survival has a nice article on garden planning for your planting of onions and garlic. We don’t always have onion in the garden, but we plant garlic just about every year, and have grown almost all the different types of onion mentioned at different times. Like Samantha, we’ve also had good luck getting garlic from Filaree Garlic Farm.

Onions are found in practically any type of cooking. They can have a big range of flavors. In our household, a lot of recipes start with chopping an onion. On top of having a lot of flavor, onions and garlic offer some great health benefits.

Matt and I really love our alliums. From little green bunching onions to leeks and shallots, we are planning on growing them all! We have some onions already planted but it is time to think about what to plant for Fall and Winter gardens.

Leeks

Giant Musselburgh Leeks are a German variety that does very well during the winter months. We have a few planted now. These leeks will get very large if you let them and they winter over quite well. Leeks look like a giant bunch onion. We have grown them numerous times in our lives and I used to sometimes buy them at the grocery store but at $3 per bunch, they are one of the more expensive onions in the store. Shallots are the only onion that costs more and that is largely because they are imported from Holland or similar more often than not.Leeks make an excellent soup especially when combined with mashed potatoes and maybe a little butter, spices, and parmesan. You can dry them if you slice or dice them up and put in the dehyrator.

Shallots

This is an onion that you will find in many fancy recipes. They are delicious when sauteed to the point of caramelization. While they cost $4 an lb at the grocery store in my area, they are not particularly hard to grow and they are an excellent addition to any garden, especially if you tend to like red onion varieties.

Shallots have some temperature guidelines like any onion. They mature in 60-120 days after planting. Like garlic, they are typically planted in the fall or even early winter when temperatures are right. While they will grow in soil temps that range from 32-90 F, they need 30 days of temps in the 30-50 F range right after planting.

Some people do plant shallots in the Spring with success. You just have to be sure that you get that required initial temperature period. Check the average temps in your area and plan accordingly even if you have to buy your seed stock at odd times.

1 lb of shallot sets will plant a 20 ft row. Shallots generally need to be placed 6-8″ apart. Rows should be 10-12″ apart. Shallots spread a lot when they grow so they need more space than garlic.

Peaceful Valley Farm Supply has the best deal I have found on organic shallot sets. At the moment they have a good sale going on too.

Note: It is essential that shallots have good drainage. They will rot in the ground if they do not. This is one of the most common problems aspiring growers have. If your soil is too heavy then you need to add some other organic matter and sand to improve drainage.

Egyptian Walking Onions or Tree Onions

These are a very strange type of perennial onion. While they cost a little to get started, they will provide you with many onions over the years and you can save the bulbs and sell the seed stock or expand your onion beds indefinitely. The video below explains more about these unique onions. You can also check out this site for even more details.

Bunch Onions

The Green Bunching Onion is perhaps one of the easiest onions to grow. They are prolific and you can keep a bed going indefinitely with little care. Keeping your bed weeded and just harvesting the tops most of the time will ensure a steady supply even if your bed is fairly small and you start from seed.

I strongly recommend planting some bunching onions in a container even if you are short on gardening space…(continues)

Click here to read the entire article at Backdoor Survival.

Spotter Up: Homestead Indoor Gardening

In this post at Spotter Up, Alaskan homesteader David Donchess talks about some food plants that he grows indoors. For people in a preparedness mindset, having food through a long winter can be a big concern. David mentions growing potatoes in a plastic bin indoors to provide food throughout the winter among others. Homestead Indoor Gardening: Plants To Grow

Ever since I moved up to Alaska with my wife, we have tried to be more self sufficient. We have really been drawn into growing our own food, to include livestock. The challenge for us in Alaska is keeping our plants and livestock alive during the winter. The summers churn out many world record sized crops due to the extremely long and warm days. Winter, on the other hand, produces the shortest(4-5 hours of sun) and coldest(-30 to -40) days. The harsh winters here can kill most types of perennials if they are not bred to handle cold down to -50. For this reason, indoor gardening is probably your best bet for continuing production of certain plants like leafy greens and things like strawberries and peppers. For this article, I am just going to talk about some of the plants I have in my indoor greenroom and why I grow them.

THE FOCUS

When we start talking about indoor plant growing, we have to keep in mind that the point is to have the ability to be mostly self-sufficient. The reason for growing plants indoors at my house is not to have something nice to look at, but rather to have a healthy variety of foods to eat and cook with. The main focus, due to limited space, should be to grow plants that are nutrient rich and will give you the best return for your efforts. But don’t forget that some nutrients you need cannot be found in just one plant. You will need to do your research and find a variety of foods that give you a decent return in vitamins, minerals, and macro nutrients.

For my plant selection, I have a few plants that offer the same return in certain nutrients, but lead in one area over the others. Then I have certain plants that are just more versatile and can be used in more ways and in more dishes than others. The choice is yours, but I have spent alot of time deciding what plants are worth the investment. Now keep in mind that this is not an indoor garden that is designed to provide everything during the apocalypse. If that were the case, perhaps we would want to simplify the number of plants we have to a short list that will allow us to minimize the need for water and light.

This specific selection of plants require varying ranges of attention, and it is all based on my abilities, space, and the time I am willing to invest in these plants. Each person will have different capabilities, space, funds, and time, which will determine what they grow indoors…

There are vegetables that I like to grow in order to provide a more diverse and balanced nutrient return, while also helping enhance the flavor of your meals. These veggies offer things that you may not be able to get from leafy greens like calories, protein, and higher concentrations of certain nutrients. Here is a list of the vegetables I like to grow and why.

-Broccoli: This vegetable is a powerhouse for sure. Raw, it has a higher concentration of vitamin C than an orange, and about as much calcium as whole milk. The plant can be a bit difficult to get control of since you have to trim the florets before they bloom. But if you take care of your broccoli plants, they will produce for you over and over again with increasing return as time goes on.

-Carrots: This veggie is one of the more versatile since it can be prepared and consumed in pretty much any way that you can imagine. Just a little bit of carrots can easily provide a huge amount of vitamin A to your diet. It takes some patience to get them to harvest. You can actually reuse the carrot heads to make more carrots, making this a somewhat renewable vegetable.

-Bell Peppers: I like growing these because they add a good deal of texture to my meals. If I am making burritos or a stir-fry, you bet that Bell Peppers are going to be included. They give a decent return in vitamin C, but not much of anything else. For the most part, the plants are easy to maintain and grow indoors as long as you provide a steady temperature and don’t let the soil get too wet…

Potatoes are a big thing for my household to the point that I grow them indoors during the winter in big storage bins. They take some time to grow to maturity, but they offer so much in terms of calories and just energy overall. They are very filling and you can add them to pretty much anything. They are relatively maintenance-free except for periodic watering, and they give back alot in return…

Click here to read the entire article at Spotter Up.

Organic Prepper: Dirt Cheap – The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet

This article from Daisy Luther at The Organic Prepper is a link-fest, bringing together numerous articles across the internet – Dirt Cheap: The Best Frugal Gardening Ideas on the Internet

With the price of healthful groceries going no place but up, lots of thrifty folks are starting a garden to save money on their bills this year. But what about the money to start a garden? It can be a very expensive undertaking, especially if you’ve never gardened before in your particular location.

I’ve been researching ways to start my own garden as inexpensively as possible and thought, “HEY!!! I know some other folks who would absolutely love frugal gardening ideas!” So…here they are.

Step One: What Kind of Garden Are You Going to Grow?

Of course, the very first thing to decide is what type of garden will work best for your situation. This will depend a lot on your soil, your climate, your skillset, and what you have easy and inexpensive access to. Following are some articles and books that will help you make your decision.

Pallet Gardens: Simple, Easy, Free

Straw Bale Gardens Complete

Create an Instant Garden with Sheet Mulching

Lasagna Gardening: A New Layering System for Bountiful

Gardens: No Digging, No Tilling, No Weeding, No Kidding!

DIY Super Easy Raised Garden Bed for Under $30

How to Build a Raised Garden Bed for $12

For those who aren’t build-y: Big Bag Fabric Raised Beds (I have used these with great success for veggies with shallow roots and as a bonus, you can use them on concrete if you’re gardening on a patio.)

Square Foot Gardening: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space

15 Fruits and Veggies You Can Grow in a Bucket Garden

PVC Drip Irrigation System for Your Garden

How to Save BIG on Lumber Supplies for Your Square Foot Garden

Step Two: Plan Your Garden

Now that you have figured out how you’ll grow your food, you need to figure out what to grow. A lot of that depends on your goals. Are you just hoping for salad this summer? Or are you planning to grow an entire year’s worth of food for your family? These links will help you make some decisions!

FREE Garden Planning Printables

How Much to Plant for a Year’s Worth of Food

An Inspiring 5000 Square Foot Garden Plan

Last Frost Date Seed Planting Worksheet

Step Three: Start Your Seedlings

While it’s easy and less hassle to buy your seedlings already started, it costs a whole lot more. One plant can be the equivalent of an entire package of seeds!  Starting your own seedlings is not that difficult and you don’t need an indoor growing operation that marijuana drug lords would envy.

Seed Starting 101

Frugal Seed Starting Station

10 Seed Starting Hacks

20 Frugal Repurposed Seed Starting Containers

How to Make Newspaper Seed Starting Pots

Another Way to Make Seed Starting Pots from Newspaper

Chicken Manure Tea for Seedlings

Why Your Seeds Aren’t Germinating

Step Four: Amend, Create, or Prepare Your Soil

No matter how sturdy your seedlings or how efficient your beds, your garden is only as good as your soil. These tips will help you, whether you’re amending what exists, creating soil, or preparing your soil to receive seedlings…(continues)

Some seed sellers on the internet are starting to take orders again, like Seed Savers Exchange.

The Prepared Homestead: Coronavirus – Six Actions You Should Be Taking Now

The Prepared Homestead has a video out talking about six steps that you should taking right now in regards to the pandemic and resultant/simultaneous supply chain/economic problems. He covers (1) sizing up the situation, (2) scenario development – best, most likely, worst case, (3) taking stock of your financial situation, (4) topping off supplies, (5) growing some of your own food, (6) working on your health. Much of one and two will be familiar to you if you’ve taken or read Forward Observer‘s SHTF Intelligence or Area Study book/classes.

Christianity Today: Save Your Soul – Start Gardening

From Christianity Today with the tagline “local creation care offers an antidote to cultural chaos” is Save Your Soul: Start Gardening.

Save Your Soul: Start Gardening

We live in a cultural moment defined by divisiveness and chaos. Every day there is something new to be afraid of, something to fix or to save. School shootings, economic instability, and political upheaval all engender feelings of powerlessness and discouragement. If I turn to social media to look for some semblance of comfort or joy, I find infighting and dissension. There’s no perfect antidote for all this pain, but nonetheless, as winter fades and light extends longer into our days, I can’t help but turn with anticipation toward garden season.

Although planting a garden might seem like an insignificant act, it offers us something deep and enduring: a reminder of God’s sovereignty over the earth and a practical, incarnational way to participate in his created order. “The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility,” writes Wendell Berry. “To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”

Last year, my husband, John, and I decided to plant a small vegetable garden on our deck. My kids joined in, and throughout the spring and summer, we delighted in every new cucumber and every new pepper. In the process, I discovered the timelessness of gardening and why it matters for our particular moment.

First, in a culture driven by immediacy and instant gratification, gardening forces us to cultivate patience.

Each time I worked my fingers into the dark rich soil and planted a few vegetables, I had to wait. Eventually, when something popped off the vine, my kids and I ran to examine it. Then we’d wait some more and watch for it to ripen.

In Galatians 4, Paul writes about the fullness of time. When vegetables reach their fullness on the vine or in a garden bed and we have to identify the moment when they’re ready to be plucked, we gain a new understanding for what Paul meant when he said, “When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son …” (Gal 4:4). Gardening offers us connection to the seasons of the earth and a pathway to understanding the sacred time of God. As Karen Swallow Prior writes, “Waiting is the fertile soil of our sanctification and one of the hallmarks of Christian practice. And yet what a joy it is to see at last the blessings God enables us to harvest.”

Second, gardening reminds us of our finitude and fallibility.

Several of the plants we were most excited about never grew. Although we expected our large tomato plant to produce dozens of tomatoes, it only gave us one tomato. There was nothing we could do about it. The broccoli, too, flowered and failed. Did we plant it incorrectly? My gardening friend, Christy, assures me her broccoli does the same thing some years.

Not everything we plant comes to fruition on our timetable, but as Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us, God makes everything beautiful in its time. Some seasons appear dormant and fallow, but all the while, God is working his purposes for our greater good. Tending to a garden each year gives us fresh eyes to see his long-term, redemptive work.

Third, in a world that continues to stun us with harsh cruelty and chaos on every side, gardening offers us beauty and simplicity…

Read the entire article at Christianity Today by clicking here.

The Prepared Homestead: Victory Gardens

The Mitzels of The Prepared Homestead have a couple of videos on their Youtube channel about victory gardens. Their homestead is a colder zone in Idaho. They give a little history of victory gardens, how supply chains work and why you would have a garden yourself. In the part two video, they get into how to start, what to grow, how to read seed catalogs and so forth. If you aren’t familiar with the Prepared Homestead already, they have a lot of herbal and permaculture knowledge in addition to what they’ve learned homesteading.

Zero Hedge: It’s Not Just Toilet Paper, Seed Shortages Spread

Zero Hedge has an article on the growing seed shortage as Americans turn to growing their own food in response to supply chain problems – It’s Not Just Toilet Paper, Seed Shortages Spread As Locked-Down Americans Turn To Growing Their Own Food 

…Americans started buying 3M N95 masks in mid-January, then non-perishables in February, followed by toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and guns.

Now apparently, plant seeds are the next big thing…

Seed companies who spoke with CBS News said they have stopped taking new orders after unprecedented demand. George Ball, chairman of Pennsylvania-based Burpee Seeds, said the recent increase in new orders is “just unbelievable.” The company will start accepting orders again on Wednesday after it stopped taking new ones for several days to catch up on the backlog.

Americans in quarantine are becoming increasingly concerned about their food security. What has shocked many is that food on supermarket shelves that existed one day, could be completely wiped out in minutes via panic hoarding. Some people are now trying to restore the comfort of food security by planting “Pandemic Gardens.”

“If I had to put my thumb on it, I would say people are worried about their food security right now,” said Emily Rose Haga, the executive director of the Seed Savers Exchange, an Iowa-based nonprofit devoted to heirloom seeds.

 “A lot of folks even in our region are putting orders into their grocery stores and having to wait a week to get their groceries. Our society has never experienced a disruption like this in our lifetime.”

One of the most significant trends besides a crashed economy and high unemployment is that tens of thousands of Americans, mainly of the working poor, who just lost their jobs, are ending up at food banks. These facilities have reported surging demand, as a hunger crisis unfolds.

Today’s economic, health, and social crisis has made people realize that relying on supermarkets for food is not a safe bet. Some are now reverting to the land for survival.

Seed Savers Exchange noticed a surge in seed demand started in mid-March, the same time lockdowns across the country went into effect. The nonprofit has also halted new orders to catch up on the backlog.

“We received twice the amount of orders we normally receive,” the company said, adding it has had to hire more staff to deal with rising seed demand.

With America at war with coronavirus, the “Victory Gardens” our ancestors planted in WWI & II have now morphed into Pandemic Gardens. The surge in seed demand suggests a new trend of the 2020s is developing, one where reliance on corporations and government for survival are coming to an end for some people, as rural communities and living off the land is the safest bet in times of crisis…

AmPart: Living Off the Land – Gardening

JohnyMac at American Partisan is starting a series of articles on living off the land. His first installment is on the topic of gardening.

…This series of articles will cover gardening, protein raising, spirits making, among other fun things that you and your group will need to do to survive. Since we are now in harvesting time the first item will be about gardening.

I know the topic of gardening isn’t as exciting as the new XYZ carbine review however, if you think you are going to survive a job loss, economic downturn or even a SHTF scenario without food you are truly mistaken…

Let’s first talk about hitting the mountains and living off the land, ala Jeremiah Johnson. I will use my AO area as an example because it is truly rural.

We are located in a small hamlet surrounded by thousands and thousands of miles of woods among mountains and more mountains. The town of 500 or so is about 5-miles away and the residents are made up of farmers, blue collar workers, retired, and unfortunately living off Uncle Sugar too. If things went south everybody would be hunting and fishing. You must ask yourself, “how long would the critters living in these mountains last?” I remember one of the old timers here telling me that the deer and bear really didn’t come back into these hills in any kind of quantities post the Great Depression until the late 1960’s.

Once the deer, bears, and other four-legged critters were hunted out what will one do? …How many of us could gather the needed vegetables from the surrounding area? Once someone learns that you can eat cat-tail roots everybody will be digging around the ponds in the area. Again, how long will cat-tail roots last before they go the way of the game.

My point is that you nor your family will not survive. Therefore we have a garden. Not just for food today, but to practice growing food tomorrow…

Our garden is approximately 1,800 sf and is made up of raised beds with seedlings, and seeds planted directly into the tilled ground. The research that I have done is it takes about 900 sf at our latitude per person to grow enough veggies for one person. The current goal is to grow 80% of the veggies that we eat within a year. The best to that goal has been 70% due in part to the fact the vegetable garden is self-tending. We do not spend a lot of time weeding, watering, or general maintenance. I know though that if our garden was the only source of food, we would be in that garden every day weeding and doing general maintenance…

Click here to read the rest of the article at American Partisan.

Related:

Gardening KNow How: Survival Garden How To

Vegetable Gardening with Lorraine: Survival Gardening

AskAPrepper: Post Apocalypse Gardening

John Mosby: Guerrilla Gardening

John Mosby: Permaculture

Preparedness and Sustainability Festival, May 18, Blanchard, ID

Blanchard Community Center – site of the 2019 INW Preparedness and Sustainability Festival

From INWPrep.com:

Preparedness and Sustainability Festival! May 18, 2019

Location: Blanchard Community Center, 685 Rusho Rd, off Rt 41, Blanchard, ID
Saturday, May 18th, 2019 at 10am4pm

FREE ADMISSION – FREE LECTURES!


PREPAREDNESS AND Sustainability Festival!  Saturday, May 18, 10-4, Blanchard Community Center off Rt. 41.  Come show, teach, demo, sell or swap any legal new or used items.  Install safety ties through firearm receivers.  Indoor 10×10 $20 tabled spaces or outdoor $5 tailgate spaces. Solar demos, communications, first aid, gardening, gun safety & more.  Click calendar listing at www.inwPrepFest.com to reserve space.  208.GUN.5115.

Food, snacks and drinks will be available on site from 11AM until 3PM.

FREE LECTURES:

LECTURE HALL:  Educational lecturers are welcome to apply for a speaking slot (on the hour, 10-3, for up to 45 minutes duration).  Priority is given to topics relating to preparedness, homesteading, sustainability, etc.

10am:

11am:  A Beginner’s Intro to HAM Radio!  Randy KB6YAV –

12pm:  BACKYARD COMPOSTING Jim & Pat McGinty;Learn how to create your own “black gold” compost from yard and garden wastes.  Simple tools, simple techniques, great stuff – your garden will respond with more and better food.

1pm:  Safely Choosing a Handgun Russ Spriggs.  Veteran, NRA Instructor and Range Safety Officer, www.PistolProf.com. ; Lecture and demonstration.  Learn the ins and outs of most major types of pistols and revolvers, how to make your preferences, and safely handle.  This class is free as a public service.  If you need a Certificate for Concealed Carry Training, a $20 charge will apply.

2pm:  Creating an Efficient & Resilient Prepared PropertyBrian Domke, RLA, LEED AP; www.StrategicLandscapeDesign.com;  An overview of design methods and key items to consider when planning a prepared property. The presentation will outline the design process to develop a comprehensive plan for a prepared property. Information will also be offered on a few specific systems and approaches that can be used when designing your prepared property to account for the fundamental aspects of water access, food production, energy generation and integrated security.

3pm:  I-FAK: Your Medical Force Multiplier“Doc” Dave Hensley, R.N. His thirty years of Pre hospital EMS, volunteer fire, ICU, ER/Air ambulance/ Trauma, CCU, CVICU (open heart surgery), recovery room and OR care sets the background for the importance of your own Individual First Aid Kit, and what should be in it.  This is not only for your use, but for another to use on you in an emergency!

QUESTIONS?  Email Russ.Spriggs(at)EarthLink.net with “PREPFEST” in subject line.

Click here for more info.

Blanchard, Idaho is approximately a one hour drive northeast of Spokane, WA. It’s always beautiful in Blanchard, Idaho!