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Category Archives for "Farm & Garden"

7 Small Farm Ideas For The Non-Farmer

In-Depth Farming Ideas

Ever considered starting a small farm? A survival garden that feeds you and your family? Could a micro-farm be successful? Don’t know where to start … or even if you should?

Doctor and author, Tarrin P Lupo, interviewed 10 small-scale farmers across the country to get their insights and tips on starting and maintaining such a farm. What kind of farms? The discussion includes organic farming and:

  • Organic chicken farming (at the 2:42 mark)
  • Goat farming (12:43)
  • Beef cattle (14:32)
  • Worm farming (22:40)
  • Maple syrup (33:35)
  • Aquaculture fish farming and Aquaponics (36:32)
  • Urban fruit tree farming (52:40)



Image: Vasyliy Oliynyk

8 Super Herbs You Should Grow Right Now

Herbs You Should Cultivate

For thousands of years, herbs have been a central component in flavorful meals, in medicinal* concoctions, and in some cases spiritual practices.

So what makes a particular herb super? It has to offer something more than just a bit of flavor to tea or salad. Grandmothers use super herbs to soothe a rough digestion, or ease a grandchild’s sunburn.

garlic growing in forest

Bear’s Garlic

These herbs have both a folklore tradition and a very real history of solving* medical ailments of folks and animals.

Eight Super Herbs

Below are some of the herbs that have these “superpowers”. They are an important element of any survival garden.

1. Tulsi (holy basil). Used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in India for thousands of years, tulsi is a powerful adaptogenic herb and tonic that is healing to the entire body …

Tulsi is delicious when harvested fresh from the garden and used as a tea, in fresh salads, stir fry dishes, and much more.

How to grow tulsi:

For such a powerful herb, tulsi is very easy to grow. Just like other members of the mint family, tulsi will produce many seeds that can be used for future growing seasons and for sharing this lovely herb with friends …

Tulsi can be grown indoors throughout the year. Tulsi plants can be transplanted into pots and placed in a bright and a sunny spot that gets 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

2. Lemongrass. Lemongrass has many health benefits, including supporting healthy digestion; providing a defense against infections; supporting the immune system and a healthy respiratory system …

Lemongrass is also useful as a natural insect repellent.

Lemongrass is commonly consumed as a tea and as a tincture …

How to grow lemongrass:

Lemongrass is a tender evergreen perennial that is frost intolerant. Therefore, it must be grown indoors throughout the year, or grown as an annual in temperate climates. Lemongrass does best in moist and fertile soil and does well in pots …

3. Garlic. Garlic is a great herb to help the body fight off infections such as colds or the flu, as well as supporting healthy digestion. [G]arlic … acts as a potent antiseptic against various types of infections, including parasites.

How to grow garlic:

Garlic grows best in well-drained rich soil with a pH of 4.5-8.5, and in full sun. Cloves should be planted with the pointed ends up at two inches deep and six inches apart. Plant the cloves in the fall to harvest in late summer or in early spring to harvest your garlic in late fall …

4. Ginger. In addition to ginger’s effectiveness for nausea and other digestive discomfort …  helps to heal joints and cartilage tissue …

How to grow ginger:

Ginger is native to hot and humid habitat, and thrives in moist soil. It can be grown year-round in a pot inside in full sunlight. During the cooler and drier winter conditions, ginger will go dormant.

To plant ginger, plant a piece of ginger root shallow with one or two growing nubs in the soil. Planting too deep will lead to a rotting of the root …

5. Turmeric. Turmeric is steadily gaining in popularity due to its applications to a variety of health conditions. It is an herb that is well-known for its antioxidant properties …

How to grow turmeric:

Turmeric is a tropical plant that thrives in warm and moist temperatures, so it will not survive outdoors in temperate climates during the cold time of year. However, it is worth a try to keep it indoors for the winter …

To cultivate turmeric, plant a turmeric root shallowly in fertile soil and be sure to keep it warm and moist with lots of direct sunlight.

6. Red clover. Commonly found in fields and backyards, red clover is … especially useful for skin problems such as eczema and psoriasis …

Possible ways to consume red clover (the leaves and the flowers) include making a tincture from it, use it as a tea, add it to salads and smoothies, and use it in soups.

How to grow red clover:

Red clover is a perennial that is hardy in zones 4 to 9. This plant is easily grown from seed, and thrives in full sun in loamy and well-drained soil …

7. Aloe. Aloe is likely most well-known for its ability to help the body to heal from burns and other skin injuries. Aloe both soothes and repairs the area damaged by burns …

How to grow aloe:

Aloe transplants prefer warm, sunny and dry conditions, but they will tolerate a number of less-than-optimal conditions. Fairly easy to grow, it primarily needs sunshine, well-drained soil and moderate watering …

8. Plantain. Plantain is a common “weed” that has a myriad of medicinal and nutritional uses … Among its many uses, plantain is used … as a remedy for insect bites, stings and boils, and it helps to draw out deep-seated infections when used as a poultice.

Because plantain is so nutrient-dense and contains protein, starch and many different vitamins, plantain can be used as an emergency food source.

How to grow plantain

By tilling up a little soil in your yard and then left to sprout in the full sun, it will likely reveal itself.

If you cannot find plantain in your own yard or elsewhere on your property, it is likely [in] sidewalk cracks, on the beach, in meadows, or in other wild places … Just till up some soil, sprinkle the seeds, and it will show up the following year.

*Disclaimer:  This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a diagnosis or treatment for any particular health condition. Always seek medical guidance from a trusted health care practitioner to determine if any herbs are suitable for your particular health condition(s).

Source:  Rebecca McCarty is an extremely knowledgeable writer of prepping topics. Look for her excellent articles in OffTheGridNews.

Image:  Andi

Growing A Self-Sustaining Food Forest Part 2

Self-Sustaining Food Forest

In Part 1 of this Prepper Recon Podcast, David the Good shared his ideas on creating a self-sustaining, self-perpetuating forest type of garden. Essentially, a food forest.

forest garden

Sustainable Forest Garden

In part 2, the discussion focuses on composting, sandy soil, and growing spinach:

  • the difficulties of composting in sandy soil (at the 2 minute mark, 2:00)
  • the correct Carbon [“brown stuff”] to Nitrogen [“green stuff”] mix (2:59)
  • using chickens as your composting “farmhands” (9:10)
  • why you should start gardening immediately (11:50)
  • about David’s books, videos and his survival garden blog (15:30)
  • an important thought on seeds, and why composting may prevent your family from starving (17:25)
  • and, finally, growing different kinds of spinach (19:20)

Here’s The VIDEO



Spices That Battle Food Fatigue

Flavor Matters

Family members are always on the go. Everyone is barely together in one place. Except for maybe one daily ritual: dinner at the kitchen table, picnic table, or campfire.

I know, I know. The family dinner is an ever-more rare event. But that’s not the point of this post. The point is that the dinner gathering has two elements: family and FOOD.

And if a family is in a short or long-term survival situation, “getting together” for dinner probably isn’t an issue … but food may be.

peppercorns spilled from a mason jar


Assuming you’ve prepped well, imagine eating the same foods every day, food with the same texture and the same taste. Every, every, every day.

After awhile, “food fatigue” sets in. You’re just tired of the stuff. You just don’t want to eat anymore of your food stocks.

That’s why part of your planning should consider food flavor prep. Specifically herbs and spices. Start thinking about how to grow, and then store herbs and spices (which are very difficult to cultivate outside tropical zones).

Silk Road Spices

For centuries, spice was the most valuable commodity along the Silk Road trade route. It deserves some attention on your prepper checklist.

The Silk Road

It’s too simplistic to say [spices] value lies in their ability to make things taste better, though they certainly do that.  It’s hard to imagine what it would mean to our modern palettes if we lost access to cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, peppercorns, and the like.  And no matter how carefully stored, spices lose their potency over time …

Saffron remains the most expensive spice.  On the other end of the spectrum is pepperthe most widely used spice today.  Nutmeg, though not as commonly used as pepper, is also a favorite in the modern homesteaders spice rack.

More than Good Taste

Anyone who has had to eat the same items over and over whether due to a limited budget or a restricted diet certainly knows the very real problem with food fatigue … No matter how wholesome and delicious the food might be, eating the same foods repeatedly can cause one to lose a desire for food … Being able to add spices to our food helps mitigate this issue by providing us with novel tastes to otherwise bland or repetitive diets.

Another important consideration is masking the flavor of slightly spoiled or malodorous foods.  Important note: no amount of spice will prevent one from becoming sick from tainted/spoiled food! 

However, some foods that are not tainted [or] spoiled have an unpleasant odor or flavor and are made palatable by masking the odor or flavor with spice.  Other foods, like meats, that are just beginning to turn but have not yet spoiled can be made palatable by adding sufficient quantities of spice …

We’ve also learned that the active ingredient in black pepper, Piperine, is not only responsible for giving it it’s “hotness”, but is also one of the strongest insecticides.  Pungent active ingredients are can be extremely effective against microbial pathogens and intestinal parasites …

Today’s Value

Much attention is given to gardening and growing your own food to become sustainable, but less attention is given to herb gardens and cultivating spices.  Even the most inexperienced homesteaders in the most cramped living conditions can find room to start with a few plants.  Spices … require special conditions to grow … but many herbs do quite well, are easily affordable, and can be grown in pots.

A couple of the easiest and most widely grown herbs is rosemary and sage.  They have the added benefit of being easy to dry to preserve for later use.  To learn more about growing in small spaces, including vertical gardening, go here.

… [You can] try your hand at growing black pepper.  OffTheGridNews has an in-depth article on how to grow your own black pepper.

Growing herbs and spices to reduce your current grocery bill or to enhance your diet after a disruption in trade is essential for any well-stocked pantry.  You’ll be rewarded with delicious meals and a commodity that has proven its value …

Source:  Ruby Burks has been involved in agriculture for 40 years and learned to preserve food, traditional home arts, to hunt and fish, raise livestock and garden from her Ozark native mother.

Image: condesign