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Simple Growing: Zucchini’s


This post originally appeared over at It can be seen HERE in its original format.


For those that have never gardened - getting started can be a daunting task.

Getting going in gardening can be accomplished many ways such as using raised beds, containers – and of course in-ground. I highly recommend to get into gardening ASAP if you are not already. It is a skill that is developed over time and much sweat and practice.

If you are just starting off I have one plant – one crop – that I highly recommend trying. This is a vegetable that I have found to be tremendously easy to grow and provides high yields in a small amount of space. Even in mediocre soil – as long as water is provided – you will have food.

What is this vegetable? Zucchini!

Zucchinis can grow large and provide an almost constant food supply once they start producing. Like most vegetables – they are not very high in calories but are flavorful and can be served many ways. I have had a zucchini bread that was just absolutely amazing. My favorite way to eat zucchini is grilled with a little Italian salad dressing on it. Awesome!

Planting  a row or several hills of zucchinis can provide a large amount of food just by picking every few days.

For much of the country this is the time to get planting. Consider the zucchini as a important crop – both now as well as post-SHTF.

Take care all -



Shop for Heirloom Seeds



Merry Christmas!!! Download: 3 Month Food Supply Schedule


Merry Christmas!!

What follows is a FREE downloadable document related to preparedness. More preparedness files are available on the Preparedness Download Page

If you have any files you would like to share – feel free to email them to SCPrepper(at)  

Document Name: 3 Month Food Supply Schedule

Topic: Food Storage

Summary: Awesome document which provides a scheduled list of what to purchase each week to build a 3 month food supply in 3 weeks. 


Click the button below to download the file.


Video: Survival Pizza


Check out this video coming from on making a “pizza” from preparedness food storage products. Pretty cool idea. I have been wanting to research some ideas on recipes for use after the SHTF.

- Rourke



Huge sale at Emergency Essentials…………

Hey folks – Emergency Essentials is having a HUGE sale on Mountain House Freeze Dried food. I have never seen prices marked down so low.

Click on the banner below to see the selection and prices. I am looking to form a group buy with some local folks and take advantage of the deep discounts.

Take care all -



Emergency Essentials/BePrepared


An Alternative Preserving Method (if you like hot sauce)


An Alternative Preserving Method (if you like hot sauce)

by Wyzyrd , Editor-At-Large


If you have a lot of fresh herbs and/or hot peppers growing, you  are freezing and drying them for later use, I hope. You probably have some “leftovers” that you’re not cooking fresh, or processing. Here’s another possibility. ( I have been making this stuff “semi-commercially” for about 5 years – a pint jar  of this hot sauce can be nearly as good a trade item as a pint of moonshine. Just sayin’)


Start with a clean, sterilized container (a gallon jug of cider vinegar  with the vinegar poured out, works, so does any canning jar you have) . Cover the bottom of container with peeled garlic cloves. Add a hefty layer of hot peppers ( I like 1 habanero, a few Cayenne and a bunch of Thai Birds), and a layer of black peppercorns, cumin, coriander ad mustard seeds. Then stuff the container tightly with fresh herbs – I like a lot of fresh parsley, half as much fresh cilantro, green onion tops, some fresh rosemary,  some thyme sprigs a couple fresh bay leaves, and Cuban oregano/Broadleaf thyme. Use whatever you have. Basil works, too. Pack it down tight, and be sure to cover all the veg completely with apple cider vinegar – no water, no salt.  A gallon jug should be so full that you can only put about 3-3 ½ quarts back in.


Seal it and store in a cool, dark place. If you taste it in the first 2 weeks, tastes like plain cider vinegar. If you taste it right after that, you’ll be eating Creamsicles for a couple hours – too dang hot.   Just let it sit in the dark for at least 3 months. I’m not kidding. The flavors need time to meld and mellow. I say a dark place, because the acid and light will turn the garlic a strange blue-green color. It’s not dangerous, but nobody wants  to use stuff that looks like pickled Smurfs. :)


When it’s ready, strain out into a new clean container.  I refrigerate, but I suspect that the acidity would keep it safe  for years.


Eastern NC folks like it on pulled BBQ pork. Texans like it on BBQ brisket. Add a little to a salad dressing for something completely new. Roast some sweet potato “fries” with a little of this on top, and even the kids and grandkids will eat stuff that’s good for ‘em :) .


We’re all in this together.

Big WISE Food Sale at


From June 24th through the 28th is having a HUGE sale on WISE Food Products. For this limited time all WISE Food products are 20% off.

This is an extremely rare event – so don’t miss out!!


No excuse method for growing some vegetables……..

****This post was originally published here on back in April of 2012. It can be seen HERE.


Alright everyone, for those saying they just cannot afford special grow buckets and raised beds to grow some vegetables here is a super cheap way to get started.

I actually saw this on Facebook and thought it was a great idea.

See diagram below:

Click to Enlarge

Credit goes to for the diagram.

I have grown many vegetables in containers including tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, and zucchini. I can see the illustrated system above working just fine for tomatoes and smaller plants like peppers. I think zucchini is possible as well. Due to the narrow nature of the container and it being so top heavy as the plants grows it would be a good idea that they are somehow supported. It would not be good to have your wonderful tomato plant slam against the ground when the wind blows.

If anyone tries these out I would love to receive some pictures. Email me – emergencycd(at)


Potato Buckets

Potato Buckets

By Bev Sandlin, Executive Editor


Well, several different people have encouraged me to try potatoes in a bucket. I researched Gardening By The Square Foot website and found some information, but it really wasn’t detailed enough from my perspective. So I’m going to show you what I’m doing and maybe you can help! :)potatoe bucket

Square buckets were recommended. I bought these off of Craigslist for $1 each. They originally held strawberry syrup. Then I drilled a hole on each side and one in the middle of the bottom.

potatoe seedsHere are the seed potatoes. Cut and dried for 24 hours (that is how we do it in the North Country). I use russets because they are an indeterminate and will continue to set potatoes as they grow up.

SFG said to put an inch of pure compost in the bottom and set the potatoes in each corner. Did that and covered with the equivalent of “Mel’s Mix”.


potato buckets in row

I set the buckets along a fence line, so that I can tie the foliage against the fence as it grows.

So, this is my latest grand experiment! Wish me luck!


Gardening for Survival

Garden 8-11

Gardening for Survival

By Pam, Editor-At-Large


The ultimate in self-sufficiency in terms of food is, of course, to grow it yourself.  I have read many articles lately inferring preppers should buy seeds packaged for long term storage so that when SHTF they can dig up part of the lawn and grow their own food. I would like to warn those who see this as a viable option. It’s not that it can’t be done but the scope of the project isn’t being clearly defined.

It’s that time of year when the garden plan solidifies. It is time to inventory the pantry to evaluate the most popular crops and adjust the garden space allotments accordingly. Heirloom seeds are inventoried, new seeds are ordered and indoor starts are planted.  Although we may grow significant quantities of fruit and vegetables, do we really know what it would take to feed a family of four for a whole year if the garden was our ONLY source of food?

Grandma Carrie grew and preserved everything that her family ate in the late 1880’s and early 1900’s short of wheat, sugar, salt and spices.  Her garden was well over a quarter acre. And she had a rule of thumb – One quart per person, per day. Since she was feeding ten people she would need to can 3,650 quarts of fruits and vegetables.  Add to that the crops that went into the root cellar, some crops were dried and stored in burlap bags, milk and eggs were gathered year ‘round, animals  were butchered as needed and the meat was stored in crocks.

Now, I just had to challenge Grandma Carrie’s rule of thumb so for five days I attempted to feed my family of 6 solely with 6 quarts of home canned fruits, vegetables and meat per day.  Let me clarify that, the little guy only had eight teeth and his next older sibling only weighed 30 pounds. We ate soups, stew and weird goulash. The only food I dished up to be eaten straight out of the jar was fruit. We learned that we could probably just barely survive on this diet as long as we weren’t doing much physical work. The lack of grains, pastas and rice left it woefully short of calories and the lack of REAL dessert made it nearly intolerable.

However, there is great value to those quarts when you consider the health benefits of home grown and the price of canned and frozen produce from the supermarket. To supply each member of the family with their “quart a day” you should plan approximately 1,000 to 2,500 square feet of garden space for each person.  This amount depends on soil fertility, the crops you choose to grow, methods of cultivation and the length of your growing season. Other food sources like fruit trees and livestock also plays a huge part in the amount of vegetables you need.  A 2,000 square foot garden would be a 40 foot by 50 foot section of your property. This can be a pretty significant undertaking especially if you have no experience gardening. Crops such as squash and cucumbers require significantly more space than spinach, Swiss chard, carrots, onions and beets.  Peas, tomatoes and some beans do best with a fence, cage or pole to grow UP on which decreases the square feet necessary.  

Here are some rough estimates on space to yield for feeding four people for one year:

Crop Garden Space Pounds Canned or Frozen
Beans (green) 300 square feet 175 90 quarts
Beets 100 square feet 75 24 quarts
Broccoli 100 square feet 75 48 quarts
Cabbage 100 square feet 150 40 quarts
Carrots 100 square feet 120 30 quarts
Cauliflower 120 square feet 60 20 quarts
Corn 200 square feet 150 40 quarts
Cucumbers 24 square feet (3 X 8) 55 35 quarts
Onions 50 square feet 130 5 quarts dehydrated
Peas 200 square 110 20 quarts
Peppers 50 square feet 75 30 quarts
Potatoes 300 square feet 400 – 500 Store in cool, dry place
Squash 24 square feet (3 X8) 100 20 quarts
Swiss Chard or spinach 200 square feet 90 35 quarts
Tomatoes 150 square feet 500 200 quarts *

*Estimate based on ½ whole and ½ sauce

This chart shows 2,018 square feet of growing space without any paths in between them. I have given the yield in quarts but to have a better idea if this would suit your family, you will probably want to consider pints (or twice as many jars half the size). For example, one pint of beets would probably be adequate for a meal for four people, a 100 foot row will yield around 48 pints which would provide enough beets for one meal a week for a year.

This chart provides 657 quarts plus potatoes, about half of Grandma Carrie’s rule of thumb.  Do you have a canner, pressure canner, enough lids and jars?

There are a number of options for planting. The most common method is rows approximately a foot wide with a 2 foot space or path between the rows. Obviously, crops such as squash and cucumbers require a wider space to allow for the vines to spread. This method requires the least amount of hand weeding between plants and is ideal if you intend to control weeds between the rows by rototilling. However, it is not the most efficient use of space.

A newer more space efficient method is square foot gardening where a 3 foot x 3 foot or 4 foot x 4 foot space is planted more densely.  The size of your ‘square foot’ is determined by your ease of reaching to the center to pull weeds and harvest crops. The paths between the ‘square feet’ can still be maintained mechanically if you wish but the small tillers are best due to the cross rows and increased chance of damaging crops.

A third method which I have found to conserve still more space is the wide row. Basically, a combination of square foot gardening and row planting. Having 3’-4’ wide rows allows us to reach to the center from two sides and it increases the space actually planted because there are no cross rows. Care should be exercised to be sure that the crops planted next to each other are compatible.

The quality of your soil is the imperative. Much more needs to be done to prepare a garden space than simply digging up the lawn. Friability or easy to crumble is normally the first obstacle to overcome. Grasses can grow in clay – or cracks in asphalt for that matter but vegetable need lose, crumbly, preferably loamy soil. Amendments need to be made in the way of compost, perhaps sand and possibly nutrients to alter the pH level. Do you have enough shovels, hoes and rakes?

How do you intend to water your garden? Tomatoes for example, need to be soaked 6-8 inches deep every 5-10 days depending on the heat and amount of rain you have. If the grid is down, is your water down? If you are collecting water in a rain barrel, do you intend to drip irrigate or hand water? Is one barrel enough? Do you have all the materials on hand now?

Successful gardening and home preservation of the bounty for survival purposes is doable but you really need to understand how much is required. The time to start learning is not when you are hungry.


Author Bio

Pam and her husband have fancied themselves homesteaders for over three decades with experience in raising livestock, gardening, food preservation, using long term food storage, living off-grid and everything else that goes with the self-sufficient lifestyle. They own Mayflower Trading Company with the motto: “A pilgrimage to Resource Efficiency”. The mission being: “To help others with products and/or advise in their own pilgrimage to self-sufficiency”. You can visit them at


How to keep your Food Storage Safe in The Summer

How to keep your Food Storage Safe in The Summer

The summer is finally here, and with it, warm weather, longer days, beaming sunshine, and trees and plants that are full of life. But the warm weather also poses a few problems, particularly when it comes to food. We all know the importance of keeping an emergency supply of food, but when it is hard to keep food fresh for just a couple of days in the summer, how are we supposed to keep it fresh for years at a time? Here are some useful tips to keeping your food storage safe in the summer.

Safe From Pests

Because there are so many more pests in the summertime, it can be difficult to keep them out of your food storage, especially when it is out of sight, and you don’t check it regularly. Luckily, there are steps that you can take to make sure that those creepy crawlies don’t make it into your food storage. One of the easiest is to make sure that everything is sealed in an airtight container. Even if the items already have secure packaging, it is still a good idea to put it in another container to minimize the risk. Location is also very important. Choose a cool, dark place, where pests are less likely to get in. If you have a severe pest problem, it might be worth spraying.

Safe From the Heat

You are probably already aware that for any long term food storage, you must only stock nonperishable items. What many people don’t realize, is that some items that may be otherwise nonperishable do not last long in the heat. If you have any items that may melt or otherwise be affected by high temperatures, you may want to consider different ways to store them. If you do not have space for your food storage in an insulated room, try putting items in coolers. Alternatively, there are solar-powered fridges that, although expensive, can really help you out in a grind.

Safe From Spoiling-canning

Bacteria grows much faster in warm temperatures, and as a result, some food doesn’t last as long in the summer. There are ways to preserve food however, and they can be useful techniques for saving money as well as preserving food storage. Canning is one such technique. You can start canning using a canner, but there are also ways to keep and preserve food without expensive equipment. One such way is to take vegetables and pickle them in vinegar.

Safe From Harm

This concerns yourself, rather than your food, but all of this is pointless if you don’t survive! It is important to remember that your food storage needs to include a separate supply of medication that you can use if and when disaster strikes. This includes basic things like painkillers, but also a first aid kit and especially for the summer allergy medication. If you do this, you can rest easy in the knowledge that all of your bases are covered in case of an emergency.

Lee Flynn is a freelance writer and food storage expert.

There IS such a thing as Free Lunch, if you already bought it once..

There IS such a thing as Free Lunch, if you already bought it once..

by Wyzyrd, Editor-at-large


My apologies to the late Mr. Robert Heinlein for misusing this famous “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (TANSTAAFL) ” from his novel, “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress”.  (If there is a sign that says “Free Lunch” at the bar, the drinks are going to be more expensive.)


Hopefully, we are all using as much fresh produce and meats as possible in our diets, both for taste and for health reasons. Again, hopefully, all the “kitchen waste” (aside from the meat scraps, which attract rats and other pests) end up in your compost pile, and back into your garden soil, next season. Here are a couple intermediate steps between cutting board and compost pile that can save you money, and generate some ‘free food’ for you and your family.




If you pull or purchase green onions/scallions for your kitchen, “sacrifice” getting to eat the bottom ½ -3/4 inch of the white root end (with as many roots intact as possible). Just plant them in a pot, or back in the ground, with the tips just protruding above the soil. About 95% of them will sprout again and give you a second crop, ‘for free’. If you trim the green part of the leaf vs. pulling, they will keep producing all season. Depending on location, they may even overwinter and produce larger ‘spring onions’. A  couple that I planted last summer are producing flower/seedheads this year.


Most supermarket onions are not dried sufficiently to really store all winter. If you end up with some in the fall that are just on the edge of going soft (e.g. a 20lb bag that I bought for a chili cookoff that got cancelled because of a tropical storm), peel them, leaving the roots intact, and plant them. Water, mulch and ignore until Spring. You’ll get some wonderful tender spring onions, that only require pulling, hosing off and tossing, greens and all, on a hot charcoal grill. Delicious. There are apparently towns in rural Spain that have Spring festivals based solely on cooking and eating these (with Romesco sauce and a lot of red wine  – info via Anthony Bourdain ).




Sometimes, you have a few garlic cloves that end up falling to the bottom of the basket, and drying out too much for cooking purposes. Soak them in water overnight, and plant. I find about 40-50% will sprout. The young, green garlic sprouts are delicious, and if you leave them in the ground, you get a new bulb.




Celery is NOT easy to grow, so I’ll assume it comes from the grocery store :)  Cut off about 2 inches of the white root end. Cook with the rest :). Cut an “X” about 1/4” deep in the root end, and place upright in a bowl with about 1 inch of clean water, and place in a well-lit location. Change the water every couple days. In a couple weeks, you should have a 4-6 inch tall new plant, with decent roots. Cut away all the brown yukky-looking old stem material (there WILL be brown yukky-looking old stems) but leave roots intact. Plant in a sunny spot and water . Celery is extremely ‘picky’, so I usually cut them back when pretty small (8-10 inches), and cook the young, tender leafy stalks. If luck is with you, about 1 in 10 plants will sprout again. If you’re a Jedi gardener, you could end up with a whole new bunch, and a celery root (celeriac) to eat.


Free Freezer Feast

(note: originally published (by me) in a different form as “Garbage Soup” on “The Survival Mom” ( website


If you cook, you end up with a lot of compostable veggie scraps. Carrot peels, onion skins and roots, tater peels, parsley stems, bell pepper cores, woody broccoli stems, cabbage cores, etc.  You probably also end up with a lot of chicken carcasses, beef and pork bones, fat, shrimp shells, etc. that you DON’T want to compost, unless you really like rats and possums as neighbors.


Here’s a pre-compost pile step to consider: Put ‘em all in zip bags, squeeze out most of the air, and stash ‘em in your freezer.  When you have a couple big bags of “waste” veggie material, dump them into a big stockpot, cover with water, add some black peppercorns, an extra onion (don’t toss the papery skins, unless you make your own dyes, they add great color), some garlic, and your fresh herbs of choice. Bring to a boil, reduce to heavy simmer and let it go about 3-4 hours. (DON’T add salt now – please believe me, and go light on broccoli/cabbage/bell peppers/tater peels – they can overwhelm everything else- unless you’re planning on broccoli or potato soup…. You’re the cook – taste it and see what you like.).


Strain out the cooked veg, cool a bit, and compost. If you have a “hot” compost pile, the cooked veggie mess will break down almost before your eyes.  You can freeze or can the vegetable stock at  this point.


If you want a protein stock, thaw your chicken bones, skin and fat, or shrimp shells or bones, or whatever, brown the  heck out of them in a pan with a little oil, add to the hot veggie stock and simmer another 3-4 hours. Strain out the meat scraps/bones and skim excess fat, then  freeze, can or just make soup now :)


This is “bassackwards” from classical stock-making, but you don’t want meat, bones fat, etc in your compost pile.  Pretty tasty for something that is made out of water, and stuff that is taking a detour on the way to the compost pile or the dumpster :)


We’re all in this together.




How Does Your Garden Grow?


That’s my shadow waving at you! Shadow is such a showoff!

That’s my shadow waving at you! Shadow is such a showoff!


By servantheart, Editor-At-Large

Sometimes, when I just need to find a way to express myself from deep somewhere within, I write poetry. I never said I was any good at it; I simply said I write it, a cathartic exercise, you know.

Just a few short days ago, I was worried about my gardens, so worried; I wrote a little poem to relieve my worry:

Oh, Sweet Mary, so water wary

How shall we make this garden grow?

With recycled things that imitate spring

‘til the weatherman calls for less low.

We’ve had so much rain in the Deep South. Our back yard is “stepped”; the upper level does fine, as it drains well –right into the lower level! The bottom part of the back yard, the lower level, has stayed wet since January, and, it is still wet. Yep. You guessed it. More rain coming. Woo. Hoo.

I was sinking in two inches of muck every time I walked across the lower level of the back yard. It was very difficult, and very frustrating, to try to work my gardens. 

Guess what? The solution was FREE! Yep. Free. Sturdy wooden crates from the garden center and some given to me by the guys replacing roofs from that awful hail storm last month.  But, hey! It works. And it was free. It doesn’t get any better than that!

This is the lower garden, btw, I have such a big problem with snails and slugs; or, well, I did – until I set out the beer traps! Man, do those things work! The snails/slugs love the scent, crawl right in and drown! Just change the beer every day or so; even cheap beer works well. I used the plastic tubs from my favorite greek yogurt as “beer pools”. Natural; cheap; and it works!

And, then, I read somewhere that partially decomposed compost makes GREAT mulch! Well, hey! I have lots pallet compost binof that!

Here’s my compost bin, made from FREE oak pallets. They’ve been in use for three (3) years now, and still going strong. DH simply lashed them together, 4 to make a “box”. We always have a good assortment of “critters”, including big, juicy earth worms. We keep it moist, but not wet; we feed it with kitchen scraps (all but raw eggs, any meat, or dairy foods) and yard cuttings (chemical free), plus leaves every Fall. Yes, some of the compost material “escapes”; I just pitchfork it back in every now and then. The screens help hold it in place, and the cover on top is held in place by an old tire because the raccoons were able to lift the 3’ long 2×6 board we were using to hold the cover in place! Tires were “free” in the sense that we took them off a car when we had new ones put on. Fiberglas cover was leftover from a greenhouse build project in another part of the yard. The black plastic box to the left is our first compost bin; it did not hold up well ($50), especially as it filled up; we have plugged the openings from the inside with more of our window screens picked up in a yard sale for seventy cents each, and we keep twigs and starter wood in it now. EVERYTHING can be repurposed. There is rarely any reason to put anything in the land fill, y’all. But our wood pallet system? It works well; it holds tons of compost, and it was free!

So then I used the contents to mulch my newly-planted raised gardens; it makes beautiful mulch.cement bed

The gray grid-like things (back – hard to see) are refrigerator parts I “rescued” from the dump; my cucumbers like to grow across the tops.

The DS brought home something from work the other day that will work great for our melons to climb up and then rest across the top as the melons ripen; and it was FREE! (My favorite 4-letter word!). It’s in place in the garden, though you can’t see it here – a two-story, very sturdy powder-coated metal “cage” display thing that, otherwise, would be in the landfill now.

And then there’s my potato bucket. I bought this container at Lowe’s last year for $5.00; DH drilled holes in the bottom; I put in a layer of stones for drainage, and I can’t keep a fresh layer of growing soil on these ‘taters fast enough! They are popping up like crazy. I bought SMALL red seed potatoes, because I did not have time to cut and cure the seed potatoes for two weeks, so I planted them whole. Man, are they growing! And, another one of my seventy cent yard sale screens at work here.

screensSo, this is my garden, such as it is. Cucumbers, squash, tomatoes (4 varieties!), and concord grapes (out front). The lower level contains brasilicas and beans, but, not showing them off just yet. I will be filling in all those “holes” in cinder blocks and growing companion plants; I have done this before and it worked out very well; so, these small raised gardens CAN produce a tremendous amount, if we utilize every available space for growing in them.



more cement

I am so very happy when gardening; how about you?  What recycles did you find a new purpose for in your gardening? In your neck of the woods, how does your garden grow?

Grace and Truth, John 1:14; 1:17; 2 John 1:3 Sha’alu Shalom Y’erushalayim (Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem)


Dry food Storage Using 2 and 3 ltr. Plastic Soda Bottles


This post originally appeared over at It can be seen HERE in its original form.

- Rourke


Over the years I have tried several different methods of dry food storage with varying degrees of success and cost. I’ve tried buckets, Ziploc bags, and canning jars. What I finally stumbled upon almost by accident was 2 and 3 liter soda bottles.

I like sodas but hate to throw the bottles away! I had been making whirly-gigs out of them for the garden to keep the birds away but there are only so many whirly-gigs a garden needs and I had extra bottles and wanted to do something with them.

Looking at the bottles, I realized that they are durable, light weight, water tight, and once the soda is gone, free. What more could you ask?

I had saved up about a dozen of the 2 ltr. bottles and had a few 3 ltr. ones as well. they have wider openings and are good for large beans like limas, or for flour or meal.

To begin, I wanted a sterile container so I mixed about a tbs. bleach in a quart of water and rinsed and swished each bottle then rinsed with clean water and turned upside down in the dish drainer.

Another way to dry thoroughly is sit them in the warm sun without their lids, or, if you have one of those big Excalibur food dehydrators like I do, take out the shelves and lay some bottles inside. Remember to remove the lids. You can dry them in there on low heat usually in a few hours or just let run overnight. The point is, you want your bottles bone dry.

Next, get your space ready. you’ll need your bottles of course, as well as a funnel or another bottle cut in half to use as a funnel, clean work space, marker and dry food for storage.

I like to pre-treat my beans, rice, grains, meal, flour etc. with a couple weeks in the deep freezer, take out and allow to come to room temp and then put back in for a week or two. This really helps kill off any mealy bug eggs that might be lurking in your food.  You’ll want to take your beans and flour treated in this way out of the freezer and allow to come to room temperature. Just sit on the counter overnight.

(You can also just put the filled tightly capped bottles in the freezer too.)

Now, all you have to do is, using your funnel or cut off bottle, fill your bottles with the rice, or beans or whatever you have, cap, use your marker to date and tell what’s inside and you’re done!

I have to say that this is one of the best storage containers I’ve come across yet.

Your food is safe, easy to move or store, won’t pop open, and is practically unbreakable.

You can also fold and insert oxygen absorbers if you like or desiccant packs for added protection and longer storage. Of course with things like sugar or salt, only the desiccant pack would be useful.

These are also excellent to store things like dried bean soup mix in for camping or for putting in your bug out bag (BOB). Being light weight and extremely durable, they are good to have in the BOB and once empty can serve other purposes like storing water.

You can also use 20 ounce bottles for smaller amounts of food that you want to store, or you can store seeds in them provided of course attention is paid to thorough drying.

I also leave the original labels on for the most part as I feel they offer some measure of added protection and aid in keeping out the light.

If you make your own dried soup mixes, or dried vegetables you can store them in the smaller bottles to take camping or in the event of a bug out situation. Dehydrated re-fried bean mix is delicious and easy to store in bottles like this, as well as ready to cook rice dishes.

Also, if you are able to get coke lugs, the heavy plastic bottle trays that the supplier uses, you can use those to put your bottles back in and stack them that way as well.

My husband was able to get a few of them from the coke man where he works and they are ideal for holding the bottles and stacking them. Otherwise, you can use cardboard boxes or just put your bottles in the cabinet if they are used often.

So, to recap. The pros of using these bottles.

1. they are cheap/free and easy to come by

2. they are durable, designed to withstand 200 lbs. of pressure, definitely tough

3. they hold foods in manageable amounts

4. water tight.

5. they are reusable

6. you can see the contents without opening to check for any problems before opening

(important if you worry about mealy bugs and the like)

7. fit easily into the BOB!


The 2 ltr bottles have a rather small mouth and so you are limited to what you can store in them, however, the 3 ltr bottles have a wider mouth and you can often use those for larger things like pasta or the big lima beans.

Other than that, I can’t really think of anymore cons.

Just one more thing.

It is important for everyone to have some food stocked up. Regardless of a person’s income of lack of it. Encourage your family and friends, neighbors and co-workers to put up at least a little food for the future. This is likely the single most important thing you can do to protect your own family because, if your neighbors and friends are provided for, you won’t have to worry about them being in need and perhaps turning to you for food. Many people are put off by all the recommended methods and supplies like Mylar bags or special drums or buckets. For those people that can’t afford those things try using what is freely available and perhaps even superior as a storage container. The ubiquitous soft drink bottle!

p.a. turner

Emergency Essentials announces new sale!!!

If you are not familiar with Emergency Essentials – they are an industry leader in the preparedness industry. For years and years they have been offering an excellent selection of preparedness supplies at excellent prices.

Each month they place numerous items On Sale –  and May is no different.


Emergency Essentials/BePrepared


Click on the banner above to take a gander at this months sale.

There are some great deals to take advantage of.


Turning chickens into food

Turning chickens into food

 by Harriet from Australia


Back in the 1980s when we lived on the land we had very little money. We used to purchase end of lay hens for $1 each and would kill and dress them so we could afford to eat chicken twice weekly. These old chooks were tough so needed long cooking as a stew or cooking them in a pressure cooker, but they were a valuable source of protein for our hard up family of six and the price was about a third of what they would have cost already dressed.


In the first season killing and dressing the chickens was a long drawn out affair over weeks. In the second and subsequent years we set up an assembly/disassembly line. First we had the chickens in boxes ready to kill. These were alongside a scaffold which had 10 cones in two rows of five. When my husband wrung their necks he put them upside down in the cones with the heads through the bottom until they stopped moving. From there I picked them out and dunked them into boiling water in the old copper that our forebears used to heat water and wash clothes in. I held on to their feet as I dipped them in the water. Then onto the plucking table where I started on their wings, down their legs onto the chests and worked around to the back. The hot water loosened the feathers. Sometimes they needed an extra dunk in the boiling water, but I was careful not to start it cooking as that meant the skin would tear as I pulled the feathers out. The feathers were swept into a bucket which was then buried deep in the compost.


After defeathering the animal went to the gutting table where my husband cut off the head and feet and took out the guts and any half developed eggs. A quick wash and the chook went into a plastic bag and into the fridge.


We set things up so we could deal with 25 chickens before breakfast, 25 before morning tea, 25 before lunch and 25  before afternoon tea. Then we cleaned up before dinner. 100 killed, plucked, gutted and into the freezer before night fall with all the tidying up done. Ideally the animals would have been hung for a couple of days to tenderize but we didn’t have the facilities for that and with the heavy fly population it was better that they were first refrigerated and then frozen as fast as possible. However by the time we had done the first 25 the amount of time they had in the refrigerator was minimal. Both fridge and freezer worked overtime that day and night. We ate egg yolks for the next three days and chicken twice a week for the next year.


Maple Syrup Making!

Maple Syrup Making!


By Bev Sandlin, Executive Editor


Freezing temperatures at night and warmth in the day and you have the perfect time to tap maple trees to make some of the most delicious syrup you will ever taste! As I was driving around Canton this last week, I saw many plastic bags hanging off maple trees at Amish homesteads. It made me think back to when my children were small, and we used to make maple syrup! Lots of fun and a learning experience!


But I’ve got to tell you, NEVER cook down in the house! I made that mistake just once! Water literally running down the walls and my wallpaper border in the kitchen fell off! It is definitely an outside project for a weekend, once you have collected enough sap.

We collected from the soft maples in the yard in five gallon pails. It is truly amazing how much sap you can harvest from one tree! Tap five to ten trees and you are in high production!

Take some time to search around YouTube for “maple syrup making” and you will find many videos on different techniques to boil down and store the fruits of your labor! I thought this was a pretty good one to get you started!



Almost 10 minute informative video on maple syrup making.



What Will You Eat When… ?

What Will You Eat When… ?

By Pam, Editor-At-Large


I watched “Doomsday Preppers” once, they showed 3 or 4 different people who were preparing for 3 or 4 different “Doomsday Scenarios”. I understand that every week presents new scenarios with new people showing their solutions. Now, I have the privilege of talking to a dozen different “preppers” everyday and each of them has a different idea of what “Doomsday” will look like, consequently everyone has a different preparation priority list. While I can’t fit each person into some category of sorts, I can give some broad examples of expectations and offer advice on food solutions for each situation.

First, Weather Disasters , earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, forest fires, floods, snow/ice storms, normally fairly short term. Some folks have been or know someone who has been affected by weather disasters OR live in an area where natural disasters are a distinct possibility.

In such circumstances, life is in absolute turmoil as public services are down, water is contaminated and rescue personnel are working overtime. I have to ask, “If your house has just been washed away, are you going to be sitting in a rubber raft with 200 pounds of rice and dry beans?” “If you are stranded in your car, buried under 6 feet of snow will you be boiling water to fix dinner?” “If you are on your way to the family retreat when your car breaks down, do you want to carry 40 quarts of home canned beets for the next 20 miles (possibly two days)?”

In these predicaments, Survival Food is optimal. Survival food is lightweight, compact, high in calories, vitamins and minerals, can be stored in just about any conditions and requires NOTHING to prepare.

In weather disasters or temporary situations of civil unrest where you are confined to the home, office or storm shelter, Emergency Food is also applicable. These would be prepackaged entrées that require water and heat to prepare. It should be noted that while these prepackaged entrées are extremely quick and easy to prepare, they generally provide less than 200 calories per serving and are intended to be served with other food, ie. Salad, bread, drink and a dessert. A food storage of easy to prepare items from the grocery store, that are used regularly makes eating at home no different than any other day providing you have the means to cook them.

Second, Personal Financial Setback instigated by job loss, unfavorable changes in the stock market, illness, or death in the family. As companies regularly conduct lay-offs or selfishly choose to close the doors of American facilities only to then open production facilities overseas, oft times people are witness to their formerly “professional” neighbor suddenly delivering pizza and they thus begin to brace themselves for a similar situation. One customer told me about his car engine seizing and his personal circumstances snowballed downhill from there. An older couple lost a significant amount of money in stocks, reducing their monthly retirement income. Whatever the details, it’s a personal disaster.

These situations call for food storage which can be full cupboards of grocery store goods that are used normally, home canned or dehydrated food, emergency food, long term storable food or a combination thereof.

Third, Food Shortages caused by drought, floods, world demand or oil prices, economic depression without total collapse causing hyperinflation and/or an increase in crime causing food outlet closures. The possibility of food or other resource shortage is reported on fairly regularly even in the main stream media.

There has been a return to gardening and home canning over the past 10 years because this is the prediction made by most “preppers” I talk to. GMOs, pesticides, additives and preservatives have played their part in influencing these people as well, but the greatest influence has been the rising cost of food in conjunction with the fear of food shortages on a macro scale. The potential for wide spread food shortages is also the best reason for having a long term food storage. The classical definition of Long Term Food Storage is: individual ingredients packaged in bulk in airtight containers to be stored for decades. I harbor intense concern for those who have never cooked “from scratch”, and anticipate using these products for the first time under duress. My most emphatic advice is to learn to use flour before you start grinding wheat.

Fourth, Paradigm Shifting Events such as wide spread economic collapse, an EMP type event, biological warfare or/and prolonged civil unrest even to the point of civil war. This is absolutely “Doomsday”, SHTF or TEOTWAWKI.

Every type of food would have its place in one of these scenarios. Ideally, the long term food supply would be used in conjunction with the garden and other ingredients from the cupboard providing the widest variety and greatest nutrition. When planning a Long Term Food Supply, one must consider the number of people to be fed and for what length of time, the ability to grow adequate fruits, vegetables and livestock, what additional ingredients are required to produce an end product, and how many calories are provided by each item being stored. Emergency Food would be used in much the same way DiGiorno, Stouffers and Sara Lee are now, for variety, when things are hectic, time is short or the cook is exhausted. Survival Food would be a necessity for those on guard duty or a mission away from home.

In a nutshell, these are the definitions one must apply for their food supply planning:

  1. For a short term disastrous event: Survival Food – requiring no preparation.
  2. For a relatively short term emergency: Emergency Food – requiring minimal resources and preparation.
  3. For all other scenarios including an extended personal crisis: Long Term Storable Food, a necessity as a stand alone supply or to balance other sources – requiring water, a method for cooking and time to prepare.
  4. For the longest term and ultimate sustainability, we have to rely on God and the garden. Home Canning has sustained many generations. With economic trends on a down turn, there is no time like the present to start gardening and learning to preserve food at home.

To be truly prepared you need a complete food storage system that will keep you nourished under any circumstances.


Author Bio

Pam and her husband have fancied themselves homesteaders for over three decades with experience in raising livestock, gardening, food preservation, using long term food storage, living off-grid and everything else that goes with the self-sufficient lifestyle. They own Mayflower Trading Company with the motto: “A pilgrimage to Resource Efficiency”. The mission being: “To help others with products and/or advise in their own pilgrimage to self-sufficiency”. You can visit them at



How to build a solar food dryer that works!

From Rourke: This post originally appeared over at It can be seen in its original form HERE.

Provided in response to reader comment - recommended by servantheart, Editor at Large:

Ole Gunderson says:

March 27, 2013 at 10:24 pm

Great flashlight. Would like to see some more on dehydrating foods and the cooking with the results.



How to build a solar food dryer that works!

You will be building three (3) different box-like units, all of which will fit together and work to dry your food (or, just about anything else!) in the sun.


The finished dimensions of your solar dryer will be two (2) feet by four (4) feet. You will not be building legs from these directions, but could do that very easily “whenever”. If you are going to build legs, we suggest using PVC pipe and setting them in 5-gallon buckets, with enough sand or concrete to hold them in place, but allow for water in the bucket.  The water will keep ants and crawly things from crawling up the legs while your food dries. I do not do this; I simply check it from time-to-time and make sure there are no critters; so far, so good.

You can use virtually any wood you like; we used cheap pine, because, well, -  we’re cheap!  But, it’s not well finished, and I have managed a couple of splinters in handling the pine, so, consider that when deciding what wood to use.


You can spray paint your metal sheet on one side and let it be drying while you build your boxes (see box # 3, below).

Box # 1 (this will be your bottom box): you will need 2 inch x 4 inch wood (untreated –you do not want chemical toxins in your food supply) and a 2 ft. x4 ft. sheet of corrugated metal roofing-type material. This first box or “the bottom box”  will hold the sheet metal “heater”. Build your two (2) foot by four (4) foot box – we did not center support this box, but, you can if you want. Attach a sheet of corrugated steel (sheet metal) to the top by whatever means you prefer (nails, bolts, screws), so long as it lies flat against the surface of the frame, and covers the entire frame, two feet wide by four feet long.


You will need food-grade polypropylene screen, and you can order it from the folks below. DO NOT try to use aluminum screening or recycled housing screening for a food project. You will also need screening spline and a sharp instrument for cutting. Stainless steel screening is available; it is best, if you can afford it; feel free to send us some! ; )

We purchased polyethylene screening from: email: 1-800-609-2160

MacManiman Inc. 3023 362nd Avenue S.E. Fall City, WA 98024

Box # 2 is not one, but two (2) separate boxes built of 2 inch x 2 inch boards, each of them two (2) feet x two(2) feet square. Build your frames. Dado the top of them out to create a groove to receive your screening and spine. Cut your screening to fit across the tops of each of the two boxes, allowing extra to hang beyond frame; place your spline and, using a spline tool, work the splining material into the dado groove. Trim any excess. Having two separate frames will allow you to dry more than one kind of food at a time, if you wish, without having them “blend”.

For # 3, you’ll need sheet metal (either one 2 ft. by 4 ft. sheet, or qty. two 2 ft. by 2 ft. sheets; black spray paint, and two ft by four ft (2’x4’)’ Lexan or Plexiglass (have it cut at any window glass store) sheet, washers and screws, and waterproof clear acrylic sealant). The Lexan we bought was about $40 in 2012.


Box # 3 is a single2’x4’ frame which is braced across the center and will serve as the “top box” while in use; cut sheet metal to fit 2’x 4’(we used qty. two 2 ft. x 2 ft. of sheet metal 1/16 inch thick, because, that’s all we could find). Spray paint both sides of the sheet metal (flat black); allow it to dry.

Use screws or nails to attach sheet metal to one side of 2 ft. x 4 ft. frame; this will become the bottom of this piece. Lay a bead of silicone for the Lexan, all around. Now attach the Lexan across the top; you can pre-drill it and attach with screws, if you prefer. Allow silicone to dry with Lexan in place.

We have old lawn chairs that we use as “legs”. It is important that the solar dryer be slightly angled for natural air circulation and turned toward the sun (duh!). We get a lot of sun in the Deep South, so solar drying is a natural choice. This unit does not utilize any kind of fan, or anything requiring power; you could run a fan under it, and, for some types of foods, it might help them dry faster. Most foods don’t require anything, other than checking from time-to-time until you learn how long that food takes to dry where you live. Some foods, however, may do better if you turn the foods (move them around) every few hours – although I’ve used mine extensively and rarely turn the food, nor have I ever used a fan underneath it. Just sayin’ you could.

Tip: All foods dry better if they are uniform in size; otherwise, smaller pieces will be overly dried while you wait on the larger pieces, or, you’ll have to pick the smaller pieces out in advance of the others, which makes this much more labor intensive – not necessary!

To use, the sheet metal box is the bottom; place food on drying screens (don’t pack it too tight) and place drying screens atop sheet metal heater box. Now place Lexan cover box on top, with black painted metal as bottom of this box and Lexan facing the sun. Start cooking!

I hope you enjoy your homemade solar dryer; keep it out of the elements when not in use, and you should get years of service from it.


Experimenting with Potato Planting Methods


Experimenting with Potato Planting Methods

By Bev Sandlin, Executive Editor



Up here in the North Country, Good Friday is the traditional date that we plant potatoes. Although I can’t see it happening this year with 18 inches of snow on the ground, frozen ground (Not the same, sometimes snow keeps the frost from entering the soil.), and just an occasional 40 degree day. But potatoes are a mainstay in my garden.

We aren’t Irish, but it seems that potatoes enter a meal almost daily at our house—mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, baked potatoes, boiled potatoes, au gratin potatoes, potato soup, potatoes and creamed peas, you get the picture. POTATOES!

Potatoes are comparatively easy to grow and keep well. The only thing I don’t like about potatoes is digging them!


Experimenting with the Cage Method

Last year I tried the cage method with potatoes. Create a wire ring (I used 2×4 wire I had laying around.) about 2 feet across, plant your potatoes in a ring around the outside with the eye facing out and fill with light soil and compost, even straw or hay will work. Layer upon layer, I got about 3 feet high. Wow, did I have potato foliage, but not too many potatoes. However, in all honesty, I think I let them get too dry at times. This method leaves a lot of area for moisture to evaporate from the soil. So was the lack of success me or the method?

What would I do differently? I think this year (As I have the cage already.) I might invest in a length of 6 inch PVC pipe and a cap. Drill holes up and down it, insert into the center of the ring and keep it filled with water.


Experimenting with the Bin Method

I also experimented with the “bin” method. Use an indeterminate potato (Russet flower all season long hence indeterminate.) and keep covering the plant as it grows leaving 6-8 inches of the top out of the soil. Worked okay in a bucket, not so good in a wire cage. Again, I think it was moisture given the drought year.


Bucket Potatoes

However, cutting the bottom out of a five gallon bucket and planting the potato in there and covering it seems to work! I only did a couple last year, but this year I plan to do more. What worked for me last year was 2-6 gallon buckets. I cut the bottom off with a circular saw, then cut the bucket in half—loved the two with the handles! Set on turned ground, put seed potato in eye up and cover with 8 to 10 inches of light soil. Tip over in the fall and gather your golden nuggets!

I have a new area of the garden that I am turning this year. I’m thinkin’ that what I am goin’ do is trench the potato row, put the buckets in side by side and use the trenched dirt to fill them. That should conserve on water if it is another dry year and save my back from both turning and bringing in coverage soil. But we’ll see!


Emergency Essentials Special MH Freeze Dried Food Sale!!!

Emergency Essentials is have a special sale through March 21st. ALL Mountain House cans are discounted 20% – 25% off.

Great time to take advantage of deep discounts and stock up now.

High Recommendation!!

 - Rourke


Emergency Essentials/BePrepared

Feed a family of 4 for 1 year, for less than $300


Note from Rourke: What follows should be considered a “starting point” or a supplemental addition to other food storage efforts. The levels of food suggested will not sustain a family of 4 people for one year.


Feed a family of 4 for 1 year, for less than $300 

By MsKYprepper, Editor-At-Large


You are out of excuses! 


This plan is THE fastest, cheapest and easiest way to start a food storage program.  You are done in a weekend. AND there are no hassles with rotating.  Pack it and forget.  It’s space efficient – everything is consolidated into a few 5-gallon buckets.  You’ll sleep content in knowing that you have a one-year food supply on hand for your family should you ever need.


With the exception of dairy and Vitamin B12, this bean soup recipe will fulfill all your basic nutritional needs.  It won’t fill all of your wants, but using this as your starting point, you can add the stuff that you want. 


All of the food and storing supplies listed below plus 2 55-gallon recycled barrels to be used for rain catchment cost me $296, including taxes.  I purchased rice, bouillon and salt from SAM’s Club.  You can buy small bags of barley at the grocery, but if you don’t mind waiting a few days, special ordering a bulk bag from Whole Foods was cheaper.  All of the beans I purchased from Kroger’s in 1-lb bags.  Buckets, lids, Mylar bags and rain barrels were from the Lexington Container Company.  Their prices are so good, with such a great selection that it’s worth a drive even if you are not in the local area.   I went on a second-Saturday of the month because that’s when they host free food storage courses taught by Suzanne, an energetic, delight of prepping wisdom.


What you need:

8 5-gallon buckets

8 large Mylar bags

8 2,000 cc oxygen absorbers

8 gamma lids

A handful of bay leaves 

90 lbs. of white rice

22 lbs. of kidney beans

22 lbs. of barley

22 lbs. of yellow lentils

5.5 lbs. of split green peas

5.5 lbs. of garbanzo beans

1 lb. of salt

A big box of beef and chicken bouillon. 

A measuring cup



What you’ll do

Install the gamma lids on the bucket and insert Mylar bags.  Place 2 or 3 bay leaves in the bottom and fill the buckets, adding more bay leaves after each 1/3 to full.  Place an oxygen absorber in the top.  Label buckets with the contents and date. 



  • 3 buckets with rice (shake it down good.  Get it all in there!)
  • 1 bucket each of kidney beans, barley, and yellow lentils
  • In 1 bucket store the split green peas, garbanzo beans, salt, measuring cup and bouillon.  (I removed the bouillon from the box and vacuum sealed it as bouillon contains a small amount of oil.)
  • Yep, that’s a total of 7 buckets, so far. 


I place a broom handle across the bucket and wrap the ends of the Mylar bag over the broom handle to give me some support.  Then slowly and smoothly run a hot iron over the Mylar bag to seal all except the last 2 inches.  Then I press out as much air as possible before sealing the remaining 2 inches.  Make sure your Mylar is completely sealed from end to end.  Now, stuff the bag into the bucket and rotate the gamma lid into place.    This will protect your food for about 25 years.   You’ll have excess Mylar bag at the top.  Don’t cut it off, that way if you have to cut it open to get into it, you have enough bag remaining to reseal.


Where you’ll put it

It’s pretty easy to find a place for 7 to 8 5-gallon buckets even in the smallest of apartments.  Discard the box springs and lay the kid’s mattress on top of the buckets, line the back of a large closet with the buckets.  I made a couch-table by stacking buckets two high between the couch and the wall.  The buckets are about 6” taller than the back of the couch.  Add a shelf and drape and it looks fine; a convenient place for a lamp and books.  Get creative.


Making your bean soup

Measure out
·        8 oz of rice
·        2 oz of red kidney beans
·        2 oz of pearl barley
·        2 oz of lintels
·        1 oz of split green peas
·        1 oz of chick peas/garbanzo’s


Add 6-7 quarts of water.  Add bouillon or salt to taste.  Then add any other meats, vegetables, potatoes or seasonings you have on hand. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for two hours.  You should have enough to feed 4 people for two days.  This is thick and hearty.  You will be warm on the inside and full with one large bowl.  Kids usually eat half a bowl.  


When the emergency is over

This system allows you to open the Mylar bags, retrieve as much of the ingredients as is needed and then reseal everything after the emergency has passed.  Just be sure to replace the ingredients used so that you always have a one-year supply.


The 8th bucket – other stuff I would want

This list isn’t included in the $300.  This falls into the “what I want” category.  As money and resources became available, I’d just go crazy adding all of my indulgences, starting with coffee!  You can add what you want, but I’d fill it with:

  • Dry onion.  Let’s face it, what’s bean soup without onion! Sprinkle on the onions just before serving.
  • “Just add water” cornbread mix packets.  I just can’t eat bean soup without cornbread.
  • Beef jerky and Vienna sausages.  Add protein and zest to the bean soup
  • Instant oatmeal.  Do you really want bean soup for breakfast?  Freeze the oatmeal for 3 days before packing to kill any bugs.
  • 10 lbs of jellybeans.  Now, don’t laugh – it’s a bean.  Jellybeans don’t melt like chocolate might.  The high sugar content is quick energy, and a morale booster – with just enough of a high to help you over the really bad days. Easter is about here – stock up!



Before you fill the 8th bucket

Buy small bags of the ingredients and fix a big pot of bean soup for dinner.  Eat the leftovers the second night, and 3rd night, until it’s all gone.  Find out now – rather than later – what your family might like to add to it.  Anything tastes great the first meal, but quickly becomes boring after the 3rd or 4th repeat.  Don’t wait until the emergency happens to discover what you SHOULD have stored in your 8th bucket. … Maybe some Beano!




Low-Rent Indoor Hydroponics

Low-Rent Indoor Hydroponics

by Wyzyrd – Editor-at-Large


A lot of gardeners have told me that they’d like to try indoor hydroponics, but don’t have the hundreds or thousands of dollars required for they initial setup. If you’d just like to ‘get your feet wet’ (pun intended) you can probably get started with less than a $20 investment (especially if you have abandoned aquarium equipment laying around)


Parts List:

a cheap aquarium air pump and tubing (I had this in a closet, collecting dust)

a large-ish airstone – mine was $2.95 at a chain pet store

a container ( I was given a 1.5 gallon hex aquarium as a gift, years ago – too small for fish)

A plastic net bag – the kind onions and potatoes are sold in at grocery stores

A pack of plastic “wiffle” plastic practice golfballs from a megamart (think mine were $2.18)

some polyethylene cord (Dollar Store special)

(optional) some lava rock (the kind sold for gas grills – very light weight – about $3 a big bag as I remember)

fertilizer (organic compost tea would be great, I’m lazy and use a little Miracle-Gro)

plants (start out w/herbs or lettuce or spinach, not tomatoes, cool as that may sound)


Duck tape


If you don’t have access to an old aquarium tank, don’t worry.  A small plastic bucket or small office-type trashcan will probably work even better.  I like to check the air flow, but the less light that hits the fertilized water, the fewer problems you will have with unwanted algae in the water. Pick a container that you can easily stick your onion bag inside. Pick something about 9-10 inch diameter and around a foot tall.


If you so choose, thread some of the poly cord through the net bag as reinforcement. This is mostly a hangover from earlier attempts to use pea gravel as a growing medium, but backup never hurts.


Place your airstone into empty tank, finagle and tape down the air tubing to keep it ‘right-side up’ (this can bite you later if you don’t)


Place your onion bag into tank, with a couple inches overlap on the outside of the tank. Tape around it to hold the bag in place (Note: I removed outer tape wrap layer so pic would be more self-explanatory). Leave an inch or 2 free space above the airstone to let bubbles spread.

Set the tank someplace warm with good light. (I use a shelf with a clamp-lamp and a daylight CFL bulb) Pour in your bag of wiffle golf balls – this is your growing medium. Very light weight, full of holes to allow air flow. Plug in the air pump, fill “most of the way” with water and your choice of fertilizer.


Let it run without plants a day or 2, just to drive off and chlorine, etc. as needed, where you are. If you can’t find wiffle practice golfballs, check your closest Dollar Store for the funny-looking hard pink plastic hair curlers. I used these once in a koi-pond as biofilter-medium instead of $30/lb “BioBalls” and they ought to work here too. All they do is support the roots and stems.


Being lazy, as I said, I plant sweet basil, because I can get it pre-started in hydroponic medium from a local organic hydroponic farm at my favorite supermarket. (rich yuppies DO have their uses..) To use other plants, start with a “2-inch pot size” plant, with good root systems, and gently wash off ALL the soil from the roots. PLEASE do this outside, not in your kitchen sink, or I promise, you will regret it while snaking and plunging the drainpipes. Shove the roots down inside the golfballs by hand.  If the plant tends to be too floppy or too ‘floaty” just stick in a lava rock or 2 to brace up the structure.


Operating instructions:

Keep the airpump running all the time – you dont want the roots to ‘drown’. Don’t worry as water evaporates- let it get down to about 50% full before refilling with water – free air for the roots. Don’t over-fertilize- if you start seeing green algae, use a LOT less for the next month.  If you use artificial light, make sure your plants get 6-8 hours a day of dark time, or they will turn yellow.  Trim the leaves and make pesto, if you grow basil – it grows like a ‘bat outta..”


This particular tank has been going for about 5 months (and recently cut back for a batch of pesto) :





Food Storage for Beginners with Little Money


Food Storage for Beginners with Little Money

By Pam, Editor-At-Large



There are multiple ways to build food storage. There is the long term, store it in a closet for years, for the “what if” scenario. There are emergency meals that store long term which are “just add water”, but expensive per calorie.

Then there is the “pantry building” way which is simply buying 2 or 3 of everything you get when you go to the supermarket. If you normally buy a package of spaghetti noodles and a jar of Ragu, buy several of each, keep them in the cupboard. By buying 5 of everything you normally buy (excluding perishables like lettuce) you have a month’s worth of food in a week. Every time you buy something you already have, put the new stuff in the back and use the older stuff first. Keep adding a little all the time – like a piggy bank.

Things like canned soup, vegetables and fruit, ketchup, mustard and barbeque sauce, pickles, olives and sauerkraut last a lot longer than the “best by date” and it’s easy to catch sales. Cream of chicken or mushroom soup makes a nice sauce for white beans and rice. BBQ sauce adds zest to red beans.  A jar of salsa adds zing to pinto beans and rice, together or separate. Get a couple dozen packets of dry gravy, sloppy joe, spaghetti, taco mixes. Tomato soup can be used with dry spaghetti, sloppy joe and taco mix as a substitute for tomato sauce.  Bacon bits, granulated garlic and dry minced onions make nice additions to a variety of dishes.

Peanut butter is a great source of protein and keeps quite a while. Canned stew and chili should have a place on the shelf. I, personally, find Spam disgusting, but it lasts decades because of the nitrates. There’s canned chicken and, of course, tuna and salmon.  Jerky lasts longer in the freezer than on the shelf, heads up, rehydrated it is nasty.

Some other cheap and easy items are oatmeal, cream of wheat, rice, dry beans, barley or split peas for soup in 1 or 2 pound bags, mac & cheese, ramen noodles, rice-a-roni, instant potatoes, pasta noodles, bisquick and stove top stuffing. Other than the stuffing, these things last well beyond the “best by” date. If space is an issue, keep them in a Rubbermaid tote.

A box of instant milk stores well for several years in a recyclable plastic bottle once opened.

Saltines last longer than bread, but not much past the “best by” date. Tortillas can substitute for bread and take little space in the freezer.

Save the freezer for things that can’t be kept for an extended period any other way. Grated cheese in a re-closable bag lasts months in the freezer. Buy meat in the family size or party pack and freeze it in smaller bags. ALWAYS keep the freezer full, any space should be filled with a bottle of water. It doesn’t have to work as hard when it’s full, so it costs less to run and if the power goes out it will stay cold longer.

Have you ever tried sprouting? That’s a great way to put fresh “greens” in your diet without going to the grocery store or having a garden.

Get some ‘feel good’ things, too, like jello and hard candy. Pudding doesn’t turn out very well with instant milk, but works ok with canned milk. If you want to get things like cake, muffin or brownie mixes, a can of dehydrated whole eggs is a wise move. You can store eggs for over a year in the freezer: beat a dozen eggs, pour them in an ice tray, when they are frozen put them in a ziplock freezer bag. Just take out what you need, let it thaw covered in the refrigerator, fry it for scrambled eggs or use it in a recipe.
Christmas time popcorn tins work really well for 25 pounds of sugar or flour and are rodent proof if that is an issue for you.

Coffee, tea, Tang, kool-aid, Country Time Lemonade: I always keep Country Time on hand because I never know when my sister-in-law is going to show up with a bottle of vodka. Gotta love that girl!

Baking soda for cooking, but can also be used for brushing teeth, an antacid, cleaning the bathroom and a hundred other things. Baking powder, yeast, brown sugar and shortening are also some things you might want to have on hand if you like to bake some things from scratch.

Salt, do yourself a favor and buy it in the big bag, it’ll last a decade without any fancy packaging as long as you keep it dry. With pre-made and fast food, we really don’t realize how much salt we eat and need. It’s cheap and the most basic seasoning in the world.

Add extra cooking oil while you’re at it. In a pinch, it can be used as a substitute for butter or margarine in mac & cheese, etc.  Whatever you do, don’t forget to have jugs of water stashed in case your services are down.

Variety is important, but if you find your “pantry” has some things you don’t normally eat, commit yourself to eating one of those less favorite items once a week until it’s gone. OR every couple of months you can have an “eat from the pantry” week where you avoid the grocery store completely and eat only what you have on hand.

NOT going to the store for a week or two will really let you see what you need to stock up on or what you will potentially be doing without–Make a list during this week. This method works well for soap, toothpaste and toilet paper, too. Once the pantry is stocked, you can replace what you use as it goes on sale, whenever you shop for fresh vegetables and meat.  Eating for a year from the pantry is easily doable. If you prefer to have food packaged for long term storage for use years down the road, we should discuss the pros and cons of those products.


Pam and her husband have fancied themselves homesteaders for over three decades. They own Mayflower Trading Company with the motto: A pilgrimage to resource efficiency. The mission being, to help others with products and/or advise in their own pilgrimage to self-sufficiency. You can visit them at


Suni on Canning and Dehydrating

canning2 (1)

On Canning and Dehydrating,

by Editor-At-Large Suni


The easiest canning would be hot water bath canning, but has limited application. Making jellies, jams, marmalades, etc. It would also be the least expensive. You can use almost any thick walled jar and any pot deep enough to cover those jars by at least 1 inch. I still use the bands and lids for canning though. I have yet to make my own pectin for the thickening or jelling agent. I have been studying on how to do this though. Granny Smith apple peels are supposed to make great pectin. I will try this next year, if I can get some fresh Granny Smith apples (not store bought). They need to be about 1 to 5 days picked for optimum results.

The best all-around food preservation, I think, would be pressure canning. It will even do jellies if you choose to do it that way, but it just isn’t necessary. It is more expensive though in the fact you will need a good (not expensive) pressure canner, canning jars, lids, bands and to be especially sanitary to make sure the process isn’t contaminated. Most foods that are pressure canned are low acid foods. Most vegetables, all meats and fish, and some of the newer types of tomatoes do not have enough acid in them to make them safe by the hot water bath method. I also pressure can beef and chicken stock. Stews or soups as long as they do not contain any thickening agent or flour. You can pressure can on a wood stove, but would need to be diligent about keeping the fire built high enough to keep the pressure up and a fire diffuser for an even heat over the bottom of the canner.

I like dehydrating, especially veggies and some types of fruit. But there again I use an electric dehydrator and food storage canning jar attachment to keep the dehydrated food for long term storage. I have not tried to use a non-electric dehydrator, but I have thought about building one.


I have read about salt curing, but have not done it. Would really like to learn though, from someone that has actually done it. Also wood smoking would be something I would like to learn. In Texas we have a population of over 2 million wild hogs and the people I have spoken to that hunt them say they are good eating and can be hunted all year long because they are causing so much damage. Would like to smoke the meat on a wild hog. YUMMY

If you have a specific question on canning or electric dehydrating, ask and I will try to answer them.


Check out this Free Download on canning – . Also check ou this website -


“The flag does not fly because of the wind that blows

The flag flies because each soldier’s last breath blows by it.”


“Molon Lave” — “Come and take them!”


In GOD We Trust


Current Project: The One Week Food Bucket


Current Project: The One Week Food Bucket

 By MsKYprepper, Editor-At-Large


I need suggestions for a project that I am working on. 


I went to a food storage class a while back and someone there had packed routine shelf stable food – enough for one week – into a bucket.  I thought it was such a great idea.  A 7-day emergency food cache, with ready-made daily menus of “regular” grocery food. 


I am imagining: Immediately after the bad thing happens and I’m all out of sorts, I can grab the convenient bucket and execute easy to prepare meals without using any brain cells.  After we eat, the bucket may come in handy for …well … the other things that happen after you eat… And, although it would be too heavy to carry in a bug-out situation, it would be a great grab-n-throw-in-the-car bucket.  Anyway, I don’t know the person or how to contact them, so I am attempting to re-create her idea using my food items. 


My goals – feed 2 people for 7 days.  2,000 calories per day with some basic nutrition and variety.  Everything must fit into a 6 ½ gallon plastic bucket with a gamma lid.  (I’m not planning to pack in a Mylar bag.)   


Here’s what I have so far, but I’m nowhere near my 2,000 calories.  What would you suggest I exchange to increase calories?


For the sake of this project, I assume that I have the ability to supply water, cooking and cleaning requirements separately.  …and oh by the way, if you decide to do something similar, I found that I can stuff the underside of the gamma lid with small items.  (tea,  coffee, crystal light, P38 can opener, etc.)


Looking forward to your suggestions.


Breakfast Tot Cal’s

Water Req’d

Oatmeal, Quaker, individual packets (12 total)



Pancake mix, 5.5 oz.



  syrup, Aunt Jemima, 8 oz.


  Beef Jerky sticks (2 each)


 4 Trail Mix Bar, Nature’s Valley


 4 Peanuts, Salted Planters, 2 oz.


 4 Oats & Honey Bars, Nature’s Valley


 4 Snack Bars, Misc. Flavors, Nature’s Valley


Starlight Peppermints – handful


Tootsie-Pops chocolate candy – handful


14 Coffee, Folgers, Instant Individual, Packets



 8 Lemonade Drink Mix, Crystal Light



 8 Raspberry Drink Mix, Crystal Light



 8 Wild Strawberry Drink Mix, Crystal Light



 8 Cherry Pomegranate Mix, Crystal Light






Double Stuffed Ravioli, Chef Boyardee (2)


   Raisins, Sun Maid (2 each)


Tuna, 5 oz can (2)


   Tuna Helper, Box 7.5 oz.



   Powdered Milk Packet
Mac & Cheese, Kraft box 7.25 oz


   Powdered Milk Packet
Beef Stew, Dinty Moore Cans 15 oz. (2)


  Protein Bars, Nature Valley (2)


Peanut Butter, Jiff, crunchy, 18 oz.


  Saltine crackers, 2 columns


Chicken, SAM’S Member’s Mark, 13 oz


  Manwich Can 15.5 oz.


  Baked Beans, Bush’s Can 16.5 oz.


Chicken Noodle Soup Can + Lipton Envelope


  Protein Bars, Nature Valley (2)





Beef with Gravy, Hormel Cans, 12 oz. (2)


    Baked Beans, Bush’s Can 16.5 oz.


   Green Beans, Can 14.5 oz


Chicken Chow Mien Dinner, LA Choy, 28 oz


Spam, Can 12 oz.


   Sweet Potato Casserole, Glory 15 oz.


Cooked Ham, DAK, 16 oz. Can


    Instant Mashed Potatoes, Idahoan 4 oz.



    Green Beans, Can 14.5 oz


Spaghetti Dinner, Kraft Box 8 oz.



    Tomato Paste, Hunts Can 6 oz.


Chicken, SAM’S Member’s Mark 13 oz.


    Rice Package, Knorr 5.7 oz.



    Corn, Can 12 oz.


Corned Beef, Hormel Can 12 oz.


    Instant Mashed Potatoes, Idahoan, 2 oz.



    Carrots, 12.5 oz.


Total Calories in Bucket


Total Calories per day for 2 people