Showing posts with label heat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heat. Show all posts

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Our Family Tire Garden: Unusual but Effective!

By Forest Puha

Car tires. They start out new, you drive a while, they wear out and you replace them. But instead of just throwing them away, people have been coming up with ways to re-use them. I've read accounts of people learning to reuse tire rubber for shoes, for new roofing tiles, for protective surfaces, anything they can figure out a need for. 

So this summer, my family decided to try experimenting with tires too. Instead of buying increasingly rare and expensive straw to protect our plants, or figuring out a mulch that wouldn't hurt them, we planted with old tires

Ta-daaa! A garden that grows in the heat! Zucchini in front and middle, with radishes in a rear tire hidden from view. Yukon Gold potatoes in the back. Lavender plant in top right to attract pollinators. Plenty of ground space to walk around while watering.

It turned out to be very good thing that we did, because it's been extraordinarily HOT this summer, with the temps well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit most days. (That's 37 Celsius and above, for non-Americans.)  

It seems the tires do a lot. First, they keep the dirt damp and cool as we water the plants, and really slows the sun's evaporation that would otherwise occur. It also seems the wild jackrabbits and gophers do not like tires. Unlike when we've used animal fencing and other means to protect our plants, the critters have stayed out of our garden this summer. In addition, the tires shielded the baby sprouts from wind in early spring, so they could sprout wide and tall without getting blown around. And the tires have protected the plants from getting trampled very well. I accidentally kicked a zucchini while wearing slippers and my toes ached all day.
Close up of zucchini. They matured in two months and became giant with the tires.
IMPORTANT: we used tires that were only in good and recently new condition. We did NOT use old tires that were starting to degrade or leak chemicals, which is where we think the major problems come from.  We cut the inner walls off the tires. This means the tires only ring around the plant, and do not keep the roots enclosed in the tire, but grow down into the garden soil. Then we filled the tire with garden dirt and compost and planted the seeds and plant starts. We used large tubeless SUV and pickup truck-sized tires, which give a lot more room and protection for the plants.

A used tire in suitable condition. The inner sidewall has been cut and removed. Take the big tire, flip, and plant seedlings in the middle. The sidewall can be used as a smaller growing bin, or for whatever use that comes to mind.
Name brand, naturally, does not matter. However, tires with nylon belts are easier to cut apart and manipulate, using a sharp knife and scissors. More common steel-belted radials will require a pair of sturdy wire cutters, a lot of strength and significant patience to cut open the inner wall.

Havasu Hot Peppers, sold by Bonnie Plants. Scoville Heat Scale: 3,000 to 5,000 in the JalapeƱo category. Good eating if you're used to them. 

We planted zucchini and Havasu peppers and they are doing great compared to previous gardens. Next year we will use more tires, especially as the climate keeps getting hotter.  There is some online conflict about tires leaching chemicals anyway, but I read up on this issue and many organic farmers say it is not a problem. I like to wash the tires off before we use them around our food anyway. When the tires finally degrade so they can't be used anymore, we'll cut them up and take them to the dump for official disposal.

Give tires a try at your homestead. Meanwhile, there's tortillas with grilled zucchini and chili peppers with cheese and sour creme on the menu tonight!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017


By: Sebastian Berry

DISCLAIMER: Fire is hot. As such it can burn you. It can also burn down your house. Don't be dumb and burn yourself or burn down your house. Also all pictures and video after this point are credited to the author.

Friends, in my never ending quest for survival skills and knowledge. One of my favorite things to learn and teach about is fire building. There is almost nothing more satisfying in the family survival situation than being able to produce fire. I can only imagine how cavemen felt when they were able to produce and contain fire. I'm pretty certain that if they were to see me as I build and contain fire my emotions and theirs would be pretty similar.

Of course, everyone knows about the importance of fire. The things it can be used for are numerous. Defense, heat, and cooking are my top three reasons and in that order. I won't elaborate heavily on my reasons but generally speaking a fire keeps things that go bump in the night away from you.  In the family survival scenario there is no telling what conditions or climate you may be in, making heat (along with shelter) important. Safe and warm are great things but do you little good if you are not able to prepare any food that you might have. Yes, I understand that a great many things can be eaten uncooked or raw but having a hot meal does wonders for personal comfort and mindset.

Fire needs three things in order to be fire...
  • Heat
  • Oxygen
  • Fuel
If either one of these three things is missing or taken away once a fire is established, the fire dies.

We all know there are many ways to start fire. Matches, lighters, fire strikers, magnesium bars, friction, or simply transporting a smolder from a previous location. In this post I am going to share my favorite family survival fire widget. I love wax dipped strike-anywhere matches.

In videos below you will be able to see the difference between a naked match and dipped matches. The difference in burn time is pretty drastic.
  • Single naked match burn time =   15-30 seconds
  • Single dipped match burn time=  2:30-3+ minutes
Dipping matches provides a couple of enhancements.
  • Waterproofing
  • Extra fuel
The dipping process takes a little bit of practice and a lot more patience.

I like to "soak" the matches in the wax to get a little base layer built up and let them cool. The real secret to dipping matches is to let the wax cool down to the point where it starts to solidify.

The wax as pictured above is almost too cool to dip but still worked well for me. I also have experimented with cotton and toilet paper wrapping with mixed results. I did not test the burn time on cotton wrapped and toilet paper wrapped.

You'll notice that I bundled matches together. This is what I like so much. A single dipped match provides a significantly longer burn time and burn stability as opposed to a naked match. I've found that for actual ease of making a fire, a bundle of four matches dipped together provides an enhanced profile for actually starting a fire.

Pro Tip: the wax must be completely removed down to the wood before striking
Here are the burn time videos: 
Spoiler alert: these are probably boring and you probably will hear my kids and neighbors in the background. I still think they are informative enough to show.

Single undipped match: ~20 second burn time

Single dipped match: ~3:30 burn time

4 match dipped bundle: able to build fire in less than 2 minutes

Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. This next video is two parts both are about 1:30 a piece. Total burn time on this mega match was about 12:30. It was 12 matches dipped together.

A few things I didn't mention earlier. I sourced the pot and the candle wax from a local thrift store for a total cost of $2. The strike anywhere matches came in a 3 pack at a local store for just under $5. Total project cost of less than $7 and I have enough survival matches for a while.

What are your favorite ways to start a fire? Let me know in the comments.