The Survival Mom » Preparedness http://thesurvivalmom.com Helping moms worry less & enjoy life! Mon, 04 May 2015 17:31:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.1 May Skill of the Month: Refine Your Evacuation Plans http://thesurvivalmom.com/how-to-make-evacuation-plans/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/how-to-make-evacuation-plans/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 15:00:00 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22761 I’ll never forget the night we had to evacuate our home in mere moments. Some very strong chemicals had been used in a home renovation project and threatened to overwhelm us. My husband became dangerously lightheaded, our kids were quite Read More

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Make evacuation plans

I’ll never forget the night we had to evacuate our home in mere moments. Some very strong chemicals had been used in a home renovation project and threatened to overwhelm us. My husband became dangerously lightheaded, our kids were quite young, and we knew we had to get out of the house ASAP.

At that time, I didn’t have any type of emergency kits packed and it hadn’t occurred to me to make evacuation plans.

On a second occasion, I had literally 5 minutes to get out. At that time, and I’ll never forget it, I was wearing old, faded yoga pants, a black t-shirt covered with cat hair, and was barefoot. My kids were as ill-prepared as I to leave our house and we all laughed at our appearances, but this time, I had a pair of shoes in the car, along with a well-stocked vehicle emergency kit, a very detailed road atlas, and cash in my purse. We were prepared to evacuate quickly and, just as importantly, ready to be away from home for hours or even days.

Make evacuation plans today!

A good evacuation plan consists of 6 parts:

1. Tracking up to date, accurate information

2. Pre-packed emergency kits

3. Multiple, planned routes

4. Transportation, equipped with emergency supplies

5. Rehearsals

6. A mindset quick to adapt to new information, accept it, and react appropriately

The problem with evacuations is that most of them happen suddenly and without any warning. In a moment, your house is on fire or the ground is shaking or tornado sirens are blaring. You have, literally, moments to respond and your response, whatever it is, could make the difference between life and death for you and your family.

That’s how important it is to have your evacuation ducks in a row.

To get you started, here are a few articles from this blog as well as others I’ve found online that are particularly helpful. Be watching later this month to learn the difference between Urgent and Planned evacuations, the best map resource you can buy, and checklists for your emergency kits.

Use these checklists to help make evacuation plans

My book, Survival Mom, contains an entire chapter to help you get ready for evacuations. Click here to learn more.

make evacuation plans

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Should You Consider a Tetanus Shot as Part of Your SHTF Preparedness? http://thesurvivalmom.com/should-you-consider-a-tetanus-shot-as-part-of-your-shtf-preparedness/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/should-you-consider-a-tetanus-shot-as-part-of-your-shtf-preparedness/#comments Fri, 01 May 2015 07:00:52 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22923 Have you ever thought of certain vaccines as a way to prepare for an uncertain future? One reader asked if a tetanus shot might be a good choice for such a scenario. I asked Dr. Joe Alton, known to many Read More

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tetanus shotHave you ever thought of certain vaccines as a way to prepare for an uncertain future? One reader asked if a tetanus shot might be a good choice for such a scenario. I asked Dr. Joe Alton, known to many as Dr. Bones, and here is some information he provided, originally posted on his website DoomandBloom.net

Most of us have dutifully gone to get a Tetanus shot when we stepped on a rusty nail, but few have any real concept of what Tetanus is and why it is dangerous.  The role of the survival medic is to maintain the well-being of their family or group in a collapse.  This can be best assured with an understanding of what infectious disease is.  Knowledge of risks, prevention. And treatment will be the armor plate in your medical defense.

What is Tetanus?

Tetanus (from the Greek word tetanos, meaning tight)  is an infection caused by the bacteria Clostridium Tetani.  The bacteria produces spores (inactive bacteria-to-be) that primarily live in the soil or the feces of animals. These spores are capable of living for years and are resistant to extremes in temperature.

Tetanus is relatively rare in the United States, with about 50 reported cases a year.  Worldwide, however, there are more than 500,000 cases a year.  Most are seen in developing countries in Africa and Asia that have poor immunization programs.  Citizens of developed countries may be thrown into third world status in the aftermath of a mega-catastrophe.  Therefore, we can expect many more cases that could be your responsibility as medic to evaluate and treat.

What Causes Tetanus?

Most tetanus infections occur when a person has experienced a break in the skin.  The skin is the most important barrier to infection, and any chink in the armor leaves a person open to infection. The most common cause is some type of puncture wound, such as an insect or animal bite, a splinter, or even that rusty nail.  This is because the bacteria doesn’t like Oxygen, and deep, narrow wounds give less access to it. Any injury that compromises the skin, however, is eligible; burns, crush injuries, and lacerations can also be entryways for Tetanus bacteria.

When a wound becomes contaminated with Tetanus spores, the spore becomes activated as a full-fledged bacterium and reproduces rapidly.  Damage to the victim comes as a result of a strong toxin excreted by the organism known as Tetanospasmin.  This toxin specifically targets nerves that serve muscle tissue.

Tetanospasmin binds to motor nerves, causing “misfires” that lead to involuntary contraction of the affected areas.  This neural damage could be localized or can affect the entire body. You would possibly see the classical symptom of “Lockjaw”, where the jaw muscle is taut; any muscle group, however, is susceptible to the contractions if affected by the toxin.  This includes the respiratory musculature, which can inhibit normal breathing and become life-threatening.

Symptoms and treatment of Tetanus

The most severe cases seem to occur at extremes of age, with newborns and those over 65 most likely to succumb to the disease. Death rates from generalized Tetanus hover around 25-50%, higher in newborns.

You will be on the lookout for the following early symptoms:

  • Sore muscles (especially near the site of injury)
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Lockjaw (also called “Trismus”; facial muscles are often the first affected)

Initial symptoms may not present themselves for 1- 2 weeks. As the disease progresses, you may see:

  • Progressively worsening muscle spasms (may start locally and become generalized over time)
  • Involuntary arching of the back (sometimes so strong that bones may break or dislocations may occur!)
  • Fever
  • Respiratory distress
  • High blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeats

The first thing that the survival medic should understand is that, although an infectious disease, Tetanus is not contagious. You can feel confident treating a Tetanus victim safely, as long as you wear gloves and observe standard clean technique.  Begin by washing your hands and putting on your gloves.  Then, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water, using an irrigation syringe with 3% hydrogen peroxide to repeatedly flush out any debris.  This will, hopefully, limit growth of the bacteria and, as a result, decrease toxin production.

You will want to administer antibiotics to kill off the rest of the Tetanus bacteria in the system.  Metronidazole (Fish-Zole or Flagyl) 500mg 4 times a day or Doxycycline (Bird-Biotic) 100 mg twice a day are among some of the drugs known to be effective.  This study compares the use of Metronidazole versus Penicillin G.

Remember, the earlier you begin antibiotic therapy, the less toxin will be produced.  IV rehydration, if you have the ability to administer it, is also helpful. The patient will be more comfortable in an environment with dim lights and reduced noise.

Late stage Tetanus is difficult to treat without modern technology.  Ventilators, Tetanus Antitoxin, and muscle relaxants/sedatives such as Valium are used to treat severe cases but will be unlikely to be available to you in a long term survival situation.  For this reason, it is extraordinarily important for the survival medic to watch anyone who has sustained a wound for the early symptoms listed above.

As medic, you must obtain a detailed medical history from anyone that you might be responsible for in times of trouble.  This includes immunization histories where possible.  Has the injured individual been immunized against Tetanus? Most people born in the U.S. will have gone through a series of immunizations against Diptheria, Tetanus, and Whooping Cough early in their childhood. If not, encourage them to get up to date with their immunizations against this dangerous disease as soon as possible. Booster injections are usually given every 10 years (or if 5 years have passed in a person with a fresh wound, sometimes along with Tetanus Immunoglobulin antitoxin).

Tetanus vaccine is not without its risks, but severe complications such as seizures or brain damage occur is less than one in a million cases.  Milder side effects such as fatigue, fever, nausea and vomiting, headache, and inflammation in the injection site are more common.

Given the life-threatening nature of the disease, this is one vaccine that you should encourage your people to receive, regardless of your feelings about vaccines in general.  If not caught early, there may be little you can do to treat your patient without all the bells and whistles of modern medicine.

tetanus shot

 

Joe and Amy Alton are the authors of the #1 Amazon Bestseller “The Survival Medicine Handbook.  See their articles in Backwoods Home, Survival Quarterly, and other great magazines. For over 600 articles on medical preparedness, go to their website at www.doomandbloom.net.

The opinions voiced by Joe Alton, M.D., and Amy Alton, A.R.N.P.,  aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy, are their own and are not meant to take the place of seeking medical help from your healthcare provider.

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Campfire Cooking: A Skill to Practice Now! http://thesurvivalmom.com/campfire-cooking-skill-practice-now/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/campfire-cooking-skill-practice-now/#comments Sat, 25 Apr 2015 07:00:03 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22508 I’d be willing to bet that most of you reading this have at least made s’mores, perhaps even heated up a hot dog or two, around a campfire. Fun stuff, no doubt about it. But, there’s a whole lot more Read More

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campfire cookingI’d be willing to bet that most of you reading this have at least made s’mores, perhaps even heated up a hot dog or two, around a campfire. Fun stuff, no doubt about it. But, there’s a whole lot more involved if you need to make an actual meal over an open flame.

One of the first things that goes away in a disaster is usually electricity. If you have an electric stove top, you won’t be using it for much of anything. Same goes for your microwave oven. Patio grills are great, as are camp stoves, provided you remembered to stock up on fuel.

In the last few years, patio fire pits have become all the rage. Whether it is a brick lined hole in the ground or a metal standalone model, these work quite well for cooking. In fact, if you have a grill, you can often use the grate from it when cooking over your patio fire pit. Just lay the grate over the pit and away you go. Of course, it depends upon the size of the grate and the fire pit, but more often than not, you’ll be able to make it work.

Campfire cooking skills improve with practice

Cooking over an open flame is as much art as it is science. If you haven’t done it much at all, I highly recommend you practice it from time to time. One common mistake is to try cooking directly over roaring flames. For most things, you’re far better off cooking over glowing coals. You won’t scorch the food and the temperature will be much more stable.

It is a relatively straightforward process to heat up a can of soup or stew, of course. Just dump the contents into a pot and place it over the fire. Keep in mind, though, that the standard cookware in most homes is ill-suited for open fire cooking. Plastic handles can melt and thin aluminum can warp. What you might want to do is invest in either camp cookware or a few cast iron pots and pans. I prefer the latter but will admit they are heavy and kind of pricey.

Try expanding your horizons, too, and go beyond simply heating up canned food. For example, if you have a box of “just add water” biscuit or muffin mix, you can make them without needing a working oven. One way is to use orange peels as muffin cups. Cut an orange in half and use a spoon to scoop out the insides, leaving you with two nifty orange peel cups. Prepare the mix according to the directions and pour it into the peel cups, to about a half inch from the top. Cover them with aluminum foil, poke a few holes in the foil, then set them on a grate above the fire. As the dough bakes, a little bit will squeeze up through the holes in the foil. When that stuff looks done, stick a toothpick down into the muffin. If it comes out clean, they’re done.

Another method is to make a stiff dough using biscuit mix, then loop it around a clean and shaved stick. Hold the stick over the fire and turn it from time to time to cook the dough evenly. Try a Dutch oven cobbler for an amazing campfire dessert.

Take the time now to play around with campfire cooking. Try out different recipes and techniques, learn what works best for you. While a meal of fire-warmed hot dogs and s’mores might not be the worst thing in the world, you probably won’t want to eat it repeatedly.

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Are You Getting the Most Out of Your Prepping Supplies? http://thesurvivalmom.com/supplies-for-preppers/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/supplies-for-preppers/#comments Fri, 24 Apr 2015 07:00:22 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22566 You’ve heard it a million times, “Why spend money on prepping stuff you’ll never use?” Poor excuse! I use LOTS of the supplies initially purchased, “Just in case we’re out of power”, or “Just in case there’s a huge emergency.” Read More

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supplies for preppersYou’ve heard it a million times, “Why spend money on prepping stuff you’ll never use?” Poor excuse! I use LOTS of the supplies initially purchased, “Just in case we’re out of power”, or “Just in case there’s a huge emergency.”

Here’s how I have put my supplies for preppers to use in my everyday life

Preps to help with food storage and off-grid cooking

Root Cellar

Ours happens to be a large closet in the basement with two concrete walls where it stays around 60˚ all year. It’s perfect for food storage, especially seed potatoes. You can build a root cellar following many of the different plans online.

Sun Oven

I love baking but hate a sweltering kitchen in the middle of summer. Thank you, Sun Oven, for no-sweat brownies in August!

Cast-iron cookware 

Originally, I replaced the nonstick variety of cookware because I wanted to be able to cook over an open fire or on the grill in a grid-down scenario. Clean-up is so easy with cast iron, and we get extra iron in our diet rather than flecks of nonstick “stuff.” I can’t imagine cooking with anything else!

Solar-Powered freezer

Confession: this actually belongs to our preparedness buddies until our budget allows us to build our own. BUT, their small upright freezer runs on solar panels. When the power goes down, their meat investment stays frozen.

Fermenting Practices

I’m not sure yet when I’ll be comfortable canning garden goodies over an open fire, so a couple of summers ago I tried fermenting cucumber dill pickles like grandma used to do. A couple of buckets, some vinegar and spice (plus a strong stomach for skimming smelly scum off the top), and you’re set to preserve without electricity. I used this recipe, but scan the net to see what spices make your mouth water.

Staying clean with supplies for preppers

Hand well pump

Whether it’s a Midwest ice storm, overloaded circuits in the summer, or a tornado that hits the wrong transformer, it’s nice to be able to still flush the toilet and wash our hands. And brush our teeth. We used EZ Water Well Hand Pumps and did the installation ourselves, but plenty of companies on the web will install for you.

Clothesline/Hand washer

Okay, I’ve only tried the hand powered washer on camping trips, but I use the clothesline all summer long to avoid heating up the house and to save on electricity bills. There’s nothing quite like the smell of sheets dried on the line!

Smart products for prepping and for every day

Fusion tape

I don’t sew very well, so while I’m learning, this heat-activated tape is a quick solution. I don’t think it’s durable enough to make entire garments, but it’s great for hemming, especially when I don’t want the hemline to show. FYI, it’s also great for repairing sleeping bags.

Solar charger and rechargeable batteries

Buy batteries once and use them forever. It has saved us money over time.

Solar string lights

I keep some string lights balled up in a mason jar on the windowsill. They put out quite a bit of light on the patio table without drawing lots of bugs, especially if I set the jar on top of a mirror. We’ve also strung them around the bedroom for a fun sleepover night-light.

Candles/Oil lamps

A little romance, a little ambiance? (More often, a little air refresher in the bathroom…)

Antique clocks

My husband has an artistic appreciation for these antique beauties, but I love them for another reason: they don’t require batteries or a hook-up to the cell tower. As long as they’re placed on a level surface, they keep excellent time.

Have you bought anything “just in case” that you find yourself using frequently?

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Planning an Edible Landscape http://thesurvivalmom.com/planning-edible-landscape/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/planning-edible-landscape/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 18:30:16 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22520  Make the most out of your yard by creating an edible landscape. Every March, I am consumed with spring fever and can barely wait to get outdoors and turn my winter laden yard into a fairy tale garden. This year, Read More

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planning an edible landscape Make the most out of your yard by creating an edible landscape. Every March, I am consumed with spring fever and can barely wait to get outdoors and turn my winter laden yard into a fairy tale garden. This year, I decided to start the long but productive process of turning my small yard into a food producing, perennial palace. Annuals are great, but by choosing perennials, I can build my edible yard little by little each year instead of starting from scratch every time.

In addition to my annual vegetable garden that is normally filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and melons, I wanted to create more produce for my large family of seven with much less work. My solution was to begin an edible landscape. By edible landscape, I simply mean decorating my yard with food producing plants instead of only flowers and ground covers. There are several plants that provide beautiful spring foliage and then get to work producing sweet, delicious goodies to be enjoyed later in the summer.

Developing an edible landscape is a long slow process that is built upon each year. Do not try to plant everything at once or get frustrated that all your efforts still have years to yield results. Keep in mind that many perennial plants may take two to three years to develop a strong root system and become established enough to grow and flourish such as berry bushes and asparagus. Fruit and nut trees could take even longer as they need several summers to reach their full potential. Start now and add a little each year; in a few short years, your edible yard will be a rewarding and tasty accomplishment.

Planning an edible landscape — Getting started

Before beginning your edible landscape, sketch out a plan. In your plan, be sure to consider the following:

  • Spacing – Different types of plants require different amounts of space to grow properly.
  • Lighting – Be sure you are planting your perennials in areas that get the proper amount of sunlight for each particular plant.
  • Pollination – Know what plants are self-pollinating and which ones need a partner to produce fruit.
  • Grouping – Consider what the plants are going to look like when they are full grown. Can the groups survive together without choking each other? Will either of the plants become taller than the rest resulting in the low-lying plants not getting enough sunlight in future years?
  • Zones – Be sure to select plants that can survive in your zone. Not all perennials can survive the harsh winters of the north or the intense summer heat of the south.
  • Design – Get to know your plants. Research what they will look like throughout each season before deciding where to place them in your yard. Fruits and veggies do not have to be contained in one garden area. Make the most out of your entire yard!
  • Be creative – One of my favorite ways to turn boring food gardens into works of beauty is by making a concrete block border. Turn the blocks on their sides so the holes are facing up, fill with potting soil and plant bright and colorful flowers. I like to try and plant flowers that deter deer and other wildlife from stealing my goodies such as marigolds, impatiens and verbena.
  • Keep track —  Make sketches of your plantings and notations of what does well, what doesn’t, and why.

The following is a list of some perennial edibles that will help you build your edible yard year after year without starting over:

Artichokes

Unharvested artichokes produce spikey vibrant purple blooms.

Asparagus

With its pointy spears poking through, the unique shape of thriving asparagus can certainly add an interest-peaking aspect to your yard.

Berry Bushes

Blackberries & Raspberries – Typically produce delicate star-like white flowers in the spring and produce tasty fruit throughout the summer. The beautiful color variations of the red to black berries provides a pop of color to any landscape.

Blueberries – The Patriot blueberry produces snow white bell-like blossoms in the spring, sweet fruit over the summer and ends its season with vibrant red leaves before going dormant in the winter.Citrus

Trees

Lemons, tangerines, oranges, limes – sunny green tree leaves coupled with the brightly colored fruit. Try planting dwarf varieties that will allow more sunlight for other plants to grow.

Cranberries

An evergreen perennial that is a little challenging to grow but makes a beautiful and tart ground cover.

Fruit Trees

Apples, cherries, pears, peaches, plums, bananas, figs, persimmons, papayas. All providing rich leaves and an array of hued contrast but be sure to consider fallen fruit into this landscape. Plant in areas where fallen fruit cannot damage other landscaping efforts or vehicle windshields.

Garlic

Grapes

Add a wall of greenery in a sunny location. Class up your landscape with the vineyard appeal. Consider training the vines to grow over trellises creating a rainfall of colorful and delicious clusters at harvest time.

Greens

Sea kale

Its large bluish leaves make this perennial a beautiful consideration as a border for flower gardens.

Sorrel 

Fun, pointy leaves, this green grows well in sun or partial shade making this a good landscape filler that is great for a salad later!

Horseradish

Remember when considering this perennial that it is the root is what you want. Consider planting in areas where you can dig during harvest without damaging other plants.

Nut Trees

Pecans, chestnuts, almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts

Olive Trees

Mature trees often have unique and interesting looking trunks, small green leaves and tiny fruit. Be sure to consider the size of an older tree and the shade reach of its spanning branches.

Pineberries

A uniquely curious looking berry that resembles strawberries but are white in color and has a pineapple-like taste. Sure to be a good conversation piece in any edible landscape.

Rhubarb

Big and beautiful, this edible perennial needs room to grow. Bright red stalks and large green leaves. Remember to only eat the stocks of this plant as the leaves are poisonous.

Strawberries

Green leaves, petite white flowering blossoms and large, sweet berries. A must have for an edible landscape!

Wild Leeks (shade)

With long, tapering leaves, this edible perennial works well as a border around trees and often thrives off the organic nutrients from fallen autumn leaves. A refreshing spring flavor used for many dishes.

The effort that goes into the planning and building of an edible landscape is worth every drop of sweat. It’s a good feeling to know that everything I’ve planted will benefit my family this season and for many seasons to come. Have you considered transforming your backyard or frontyard into a food-producing edible garden?

 

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How Many Off-Grid Cooking Methods Do You Have? http://thesurvivalmom.com/off-grid-cooking-methods/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/off-grid-cooking-methods/#comments Thu, 23 Apr 2015 15:10:34 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22416 When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? I think I’ve been guilty of both, especially with off-grid cooking methods. Maybe you know what I mean. Preppers are notorious Read More

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off grid cooking methods

When you buy, or otherwise acquire, preparedness supplies, do you practice with them or are you a prep hoarder? I think I’ve been guilty of both, especially with off-grid cooking methods.

Maybe you know what I mean. Preppers are notorious for wanting every new survival gadget that comes out. We’ve got no less than 10 ways to cook that aren’t tied to the power grid, yet when another new off-grid cooker comes out, we simply must have it to add to the stash in the storage room.

And there they sit, safe for when we need them, gathering dust and maybe spiders,

Do you ever try them out when they come in the mail or do we add them, still in the package, to the ‘cooking shelf’ in our bug-out trailer?

I can say that I have used each of my off-grid cooking methods several times. Some had a learning curve that I’ve mastered and with others, I’m still climbing that curve. Some are easier to clean and store than others.  Fuels differ, conditions they can be used in differ, set-up,  clean-up and storage instructions are not the same, but we need to learn how they work.

In a major crisis, when emotions are high and everything and everyone is confused is not the time to try and figure out how to put that HERC stove together!

My family’s off-grid cooking methods

For my family, my list of methods looks like this:

First of all, how many different cooking methods do you have for when the power goes out? You really do need at least 2 of them, making sure those 2 do not rely on the same type of fuel. Are you familiar with how to use all of the different methods you have? Are your children? What if you, THE MASTER OF ALL THINGS PREP in your home are not around or are injured or ill? Who is going to do the cooking then?

Spring and Summer are a GREAT time to get out the different tools/toys you have for cooking meals off-grid and practice, practice, practice.

Pick one night per week and make it an adventure. Have a cook-out in the back yard.  Learn all about that method and gather some recipes to try it out.

I know of a woman who wanted to learn how to use her Dutch oven, so she committed to cooking something in it every day for a YEAR.  She blogged about the experience and shared what she learned online.  I dare say that she is now a Dutch oven expert.  I think she’s also super tired of using her Dutch oven because she hasn’t updated her blog in a while, but her adventure is documented for the world to learn from.  You can read about it and get some great new dutch oven recipe ideas for yourself, be warned though, you might not surface for days.  Toni’s Dutch Oven adventure. 

Do you have any/all of the methods I listed? I’d love to hear about your favorite off-grid cooking methods.

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How To Grow A Houseplant From The Top Of A Pineapple http://thesurvivalmom.com/grow-pineapple-houseplant/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/grow-pineapple-houseplant/#comments Tue, 21 Apr 2015 07:00:56 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22742 In 2008, when I was working at a preschool, the lead teacher decided to grow a pineapple houseplant. She was leading a unit on plants and thought it would be neat to grow the top of a pineapple in the classroom. Read More

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Grow a pineapple houseplantIn 2008, when I was working at a preschool, the lead teacher decided to grow a pineapple houseplant. She was leading a unit on plants and thought it would be neat to grow the top of a pineapple in the classroom. She sliced off the top at the “shoulders” and placed it with some ceremony on top of a pot of soil. Some weeks later, when the leaves began to brown and the base began to mold, we realized our experiment had been unsuccessful. That was the wrong way to do it.

The experience stayed in the back of my mind, however, and one day when I had three pineapples sitting on my kitchen counter I decided to research how to do it correctly. I have currently four pineapple plants in various rooms of my house; the oldest is about a year old.

Here’s how you grow a pineapple houseplant

1) Before you get excited, don’t just wantonly slice off the top of that pineapple. It is better to pull the top out. This may require a tiny bit of elbow grease. You can put the top off to the side while you prepare and eat the rest of the fruit. Grow a pineapple houseplant2) Gently trim off any excess flesh that came off with the top – this can rot and cause the rest of the plant to die. Then pluck off leaves from the base until about an inch is bare and exposed. You may see little nubby things – those are little rootlets.Grow a pineapple houseplantLet the pineapple top sit in a dry location for a week or so. If you place it immediately in water it could rot.

3) Place it the top in a jar of water. Be patient – you are waiting for roots to form. It can take up to a month or even longer for a decent root system to develop. The plant pictured here has been growing roots for about two weeks. You might think that these are pretty good roots, but I am going to wait until the plant has about three times as many roots before transferring it to a pot of soil. Grow a pineapple houseplant4) Only then the roots are long and plentiful enough should you transfer the pineapple top to a pot of soil. If you act prematurely, your plant won’t grow and will eventually die. Here’s a plant I’ve had for about a year: Grow a pineapple houseplant That flower pot is about 18 inches in diameter; you can see that it is pretty sprawling. I admit that this one is a little sad-looking, and that is for good reason: I have three young kids and they are very talented at tampering with house plants. Which is why I tried growing them from pineapples in the first place. If it bites the dust, I will have lost the time and effort it took to grow it, but I will have saved the $20 or so it takes to buy a decent ficus from Home Depot.

I am still a newbie when it comes to the art of growing pineapple houseplants. My four healthy plants are the result of eight attempts, thus a 50% rate of success. (Once I let a pineapple top spend too much time drying out and instead of hardening against rot, it just died. Another time, I planted it in dirt before it had a chance to develop enough roots.) It is my understanding that, given the right conditions, a pineapple houseplant will flower and produce a fruit. I am very intrigued by this possibility, but must admit that I doubt that the right conditions exist in my living room.

I hope this short tutorial will inspire you to give it a whirl!

 

 

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27 Important Things You Should Know About Saving Seeds http://thesurvivalmom.com/saving-seeds/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/saving-seeds/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 16:23:26 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22885 Saving seeds is both a science and an art. Here are 27 things I’ve learned about seed saving over the years. 1.  Saving seeds helps preserve the genetic material of the plant varieties we have. Within the last 100 years, Read More

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saving seedsSaving seeds is both a science and an art. Here are 27 things I’ve learned about seed saving over the years.

1.  Saving seeds helps preserve the genetic material of the plant varieties we have. Within the last 100 years, we’ve lost over half of the varieties we used to have.

2.  Saving seeds will give you crops that are better adapted to your specific environment. You’ll be collecting seeds from the plants/varieties that thrived. It gives you a lot of control over what grows in your yard.

3.  It saves money.

4.  It’s easy to share and trade seeds with others.

5.  Save seeds from heirloom and open pollinated varieties. An heirloom variety is one that has been passed down within a family for 50 years or more. Open pollinated is simply a plant that has pollinated by itself or its type. Both will give you crops true to the original plant.

6.  Seeds from hybrid plants will not give you the same crop as the original plant. In fact, seeds saved from a lot of hybrid tomato varieties end up growing cherry tomatoes! One something is hybridized, anything in the genetic chain can come up in a crop. If you’re serious about saving seeds, you’ll need to take steps to avoid cross pollination, which will produce hybrids!

7.  If you live near large commercial farms that grow soybeans, alfalfa, canola, corn, cotton, or sugar beets, there’s a very good chance those crops are GMO. There’s a possibility that cross pollination could occur, but the seeds that are available to the consumer are not GMO.

8.  If you intend to save seeds from specific plants, it will take some planning to avoid cross pollination, since bees and other pollinators, including wind!, carry pollen from blossom to blossom. Read more about this here.

9.  You can avoid cross pollination by placing small organza gift bags over the blooms you want to protect and hand pollinate. These are nice because they’re reusable and you can use the drawstrings to tighten the bag over the plant.

10. Hand pollinate early in the morning while the pollen is still visible. Female flowers are only open once.

11.  Know what your neighbors are growing, if possible. Some plants, such as carrots, are in danger of cross pollination if other carrots are being grown within just a mile!

12.  To physically collect seeds, know that some seeds are harvested dry by letting the plant go to seed, while others, such as tomato seeds, are harvested wet.

13. Dry harvest seeds from plants such as onion, beans, basil, carrots, and others that produce the seeds in pods or husks. Make sure the seeds are completely dry — I check to see if the pods “crackle”. Then, remove the seeds, shake off any chaff, and store.

14. To save basil seeds, wait until at least half of the seed stalk has turned brown. Then snip the stalk off, put it in a bag and bring inside for the seeds to dry.

15. Wet harvest seeds from tomatoes, pumpkins, eggplant, and squash by washing the seeds and allowing them to dry completely.

16. Save only the very biggest seeds from the plants that thrived best.

17. Keep saved seeds at a stable temperature in a cool, dark, and dry place. The vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator is a good location, but keep the seeds there, since a consistent temperature is the most important variable for maintaining seed viability.

18. Degradation of viability begins at around 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit.

19. Storing seeds in the freezer is an option for very long term storage.

20. Use paper envelopes for short term storage.

21. Place the paper envelopes in small jars or Ziploc freezer bags. Do NOT vacuum seal or use oxygen absorbers.

22. Saved seeds will retain their best viability for 1-3 years. After that there will be a gradual decline in their viability rate.

23. Seeds may germinate but that does not mean the plant will thrive.

24. The easiest plants from which to save seeds are peas, beans, lettuces, and peppers. They self-pollinate most of the time. To be on the safe side, plant one variety in the front yard and a second variety in the back to avoid the possibility of cross pollination.

25. Save seeds from peppers by simply removing them from the pepper once it’s fully mature. (Bell peppers turn red when mature.) Put the seeds in a jar with water and shake the jar for a minute or two. Good seeds will sink to the bottom; seeds not worth saving will float on top. Throw those away and dry the good seeds.

26. If you’re growing both hot and not-hot peppers, “hot” is a dominant trait! If Scotch bonnet peppers are grown near bell peppers and any cross pollination happens, your bells will be HOT. Plant hot varieties in the back yard, not-hot varieties in the front, or just far away from each other on your property.

27. Coordinate with friends when it comes time to plan your gardens. Since serious seed savers know they have to separate varieties in almost every case, plan who will grow what and then share your saved seeds.

You can learn tons more about saving seeds at How to Save Seeds.com

For more information, these handbooks are very comprehensive:

 

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Four Season Gardening — Webinar Recording! http://thesurvivalmom.com/four-season-gardening-free-webinar-tonight/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/four-season-gardening-free-webinar-tonight/#comments Mon, 20 Apr 2015 15:51:37 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22887 UPDATE: If you missed the super-helpful webinar with Rick Stone, here’s the link to the recording: http://connectpro19068335.adobeconnect.com/p9tgwyny8nk/   Don’t miss this free webinar tonight with gardening and homesteading expert, Rick Stone. Rick has a popular gardening class on Udemy, which he’ll Read More

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four season gardening

UPDATE: If you missed the super-helpful webinar with Rick Stone, here’s the link to the recording: http://connectpro19068335.adobeconnect.com/p9tgwyny8nk/

 

Don’t miss this free webinar tonight with gardening and homesteading expert, Rick Stone. Rick has a popular gardening class on Udemy, which he’ll tell you about, but tonight the topic is all about planning and “Four Season Gardening”.

TIME: 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET, 7 p.m. MT, 6 p.m. PT)

LINK: http://connectpro19068335.adobeconnect.com/thesurvivalmom/

I’ll be recording this webinar and will post the link right here, as well as in my newsletter and on Facebook.

See you tonight!

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Sprouting Seeds – An Essential Part of Your Food Storage Plan http://thesurvivalmom.com/get-started-sprouting-seeds/ http://thesurvivalmom.com/get-started-sprouting-seeds/#comments Sat, 18 Apr 2015 23:26:51 +0000 http://thesurvivalmom.com/?p=22571 Do you like sprouts? I had only ever eaten plain, long white mung bean sprouts from the grocery store and didn’t really care for them. Then I discovered home sprouting and the wide variety of seeds, beans, lentils and nuts Read More

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Get started sprouting seedsDo you like sprouts? I had only ever eaten plain, long white mung bean sprouts from the grocery store and didn’t really care for them. Then I discovered home sprouting and the wide variety of seeds, beans, lentils and nuts that could be sprouted. My family now eats them on salads and sandwiches and sometimes even just straight from the sprouter!

Beside the fact that sprouts are healthy for everyday eating and should be added to your diet for nutritional reasons, sprouting is an excellent prepping skill to have.

Top 5 Reasons Preppers Should Sprout

1. Nutrition

Certain seed mixes combine not only for great taste, but for high nutrition. Some seeds provide every amino acid, a long list of vitamins and minerals, and many are high in protein. Access to a fresh, non-meat/dairy source of protein during hard times is highly desirable. Broccoli sprouts are one of the most nutritious… eating one ounce of broccoli sprouts gives you as many antioxidants as 3 pounds of mature broccoli! Check out this link for a list of nutritional content for the most popular sprouts.

2. Garden Indoors All Year

If you live in an extreme climates that limit your outside growing months, you can grow a variety of fresh greens year around. No dirt under the nails, no back breaking work, no worries about early frost.

3. Security

If you have a security reason for not gardening outside, you can still have fresh greens by sprouting indoors. In fact, you can hide them even more if needed by putting your spouters inside a cabinet, under a bed, etc. Sprouts do not need any light for growth. Exposure to sunlight at the end of growing will activate the chlorophyll and green up the sprouts, but it is not a requirement for taste or nutrition.

4. Portability

You can sprout on the go by taking your sprouter in the car or even by putting it inside a backpack. In a bug-out situation, you can carry a great deal of food in very little space. (See #5.)

5. Shelf Life and Compact Storage

Sprouting seeds have a shelf life of 1 to 5 years depending on the variety. Refrigerating can double the lifespan while freezing can extend it 4 to 5 times. See a full list here. Most sprouting seeds are very small, but grow exponentially. A single pound of alfalfa sprouting seeds can produce 7 pounds of edible food!

Get started sprouting seedsThe only potential “downside” with sprouting during emergency situations is the amount of water needed. Sprouts need to be initially soaked and then rinsed twice a day. If access to safe water is an issue, it could be difficult to impossible to grow the sprouts. However, sprout water does not need to be discarded. In fact, the water used for the initial soak is full of nutrients that could be consumed as is, used as soup stock, or as needed to reconstitute dehydrated or freeze dried foods.

My Favorite Sprouters

Sprouting is so easy, a child can do it. If you can measure and rinse seeds, you can sprout! All you need is the right sprouter.

Four Tray Sprouter – The trays of this sprouter allow you to either sprout a variety of different seeds and beans in one compact footprint, or enable you to stagger your growth by starting the trays a couple days apart so you have fresh sprouts constantly at the ready. Watch this video to see how this sprouter works.

The Easy Sprout Sprouter – Simple, compact and likely the most popular sprouter of all. This one is a must if you want to sprout on the go. Here’s an instructional video to show you just how easy it is!

Get started sprouting seedsIt’s surprising how quickly sprouts can begin to go bad, so both these sprouters allow you to make relatively small amounts of sprouts so they can be eaten within just a couple of days.

My Favorite Sprouts

There are dozens and dozens of seeds, bean, lentils and nuts you can sprout on their own, but mixing them together for a gourmet treat is what I like best. Here are three of my favorites, but be bold and be sure to try a wide variety to find your own favorites. The best way to do that is to find variety samplers like this one or this one.

French Garden – Put this on your sandwich (if you have any left over after eating it straight from the sprouter!). Healthy, high protein and so good.

Nick’s Hot Sprout Salad Mix – Spicy and fragrant and 35% protein.

Pea Carnival – A mix of different peas. I was surprised at how much I liked this one. Yum!

 

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