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Lawns as Part of Your OpSpec

From Rourke: Somehow I missed publishing this article back in January. Sorry MsKYprepper!


Lawns as Part of Your OpSpec
By MsKYprepper, Editor-At-Large


GIMME GREEN is a documentary examining American homeowner’s obsession with a beautiful residential lawn.  Here are some of the facts from their website:


·         Lawns are America’s most irrigated crop.
·         Lawns cover 41 million acres.  Every day, more than 5,000 acres of land are converted to lawns in America.
·         Americans spend more than 40 Billion dollars a year on their yards.
·         Americans apply more than 30,000 tons of pesticides to their yards every year.
·         The National Cancer Institute finds that children in households using lawn pesticides have a 6.5 times greater risk of developing leukemia.
·         In an effort to save water, Las Vegas lawn owners are paid a dollar per sq. ft. to remove their grass.
·         On average, Americans use 40 to 60 percent of their water on their landscapes.
·         In order to maintain all the lawns in America, it would take approximately 200 gallons per person per day.


For me, I decided to reduce my lawn and incorporate more edible plants after reading books like:
Then came dreams of a backyard homestead and a front yard garden inspired by YouTube videos, by:
At first I was doing my part to preserve Mother Earth.  Then I was growing food to save money and to become more self sufficient.  These days I’m thinking about the lawn as part of my Op Specs.  What I mean is, if the day should come when I can’t mow the lawn, whether it be the result of an EMP, peak oil, or the danger of wandering zombies – an overgrown lawn could be a big liability.  First, tall grass invites critters of the creepy crawly kind that you don’t want to be up close and personal with.  Also, passing zombies, looking at a path worn in the tall grass can easily see how you routinely travel through your yard.
So, this spring, part of the plan is to reduce my lawn by 25%.  I’m planning more vegetable beds while widening existing beds and sneaking a few edibles among front yard shrubs and flowers.  I want to have plenty of good soil on hand now.  I’m also planning a nice, wide paver-path to yard destinations like the tool shed and the chicken coop.  Last, I’m looking to replace a small portion of the lawn with pavers for safe secure outdoor cooking area and a vegetation ground cover (strawberries?) to make it all pretty. 
So whether you’re going green, growing food or considering life after the shtf, start planning ways to make your lawn serve you and your Op Specs.


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!


Pallet gardening?

Spring is here. ‘Tis the season to be…….gardening!!

A neighbor friend told me about a method of gardening using pallets. The premise is placing a pallet on the ground, filling it with soil, and then planting vegetables and herbs between the planks of the pallet. 


This is not something that I have tried myself – but looks interesting. Anything that gets more people growing their own food is good by me. Many of the examples that I have seen people doing have some material laid under the pallet to minimize grass and weed growth through the pellet. Potting soil is often used – which is generally weed free.


Other than laying the pallet flat – a vertical garden is established by leaning the pallet up against a structure – building, wall, tree…..whatever. Soil is kept within the pallet by placing landscaping fabric along the back.

Pallet gardening looks to be a great idea – especially for those with minimal space.

Anyone ever try this?


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!


Top 5 Vegetables to Plant this Spring


Top 5 Vegetables to Plant this Spring

By Wyzyrd, Editor-At-Large




1)   Radishes – First crop to germinate, grows crazy-fast, eat the young sprouts, eat the radishes, leave some in the ground to generate a T. Rex-size amount of green compostable material by Fall.

2)    Parsley – Healthful, delicious – don’t pull it out in the Fall – it’s a biennial. Tastes BETTER 2nd year and will self seed, it you let it. Ed. Note, I believe Wyzyrd is zone 5 or 6.

3)    Upland Cress – This stuff tastes wonderful, and appears to grow on any soil better than concrete.

4)    Onions/garlic/chives – You can never have too many onions.

5)    Kale – Healthful as all get-out. Plant early, plant more in late summer for late Fall crop.