Monday, July 2, 2018

Naturally Fertilizing Your Survival Garden


Naturally Fertilizing Your Survival Garden



A survival garden is an important part of any prepper’s spring and summer plans. Seriously, what can be better than growing your own food and stockpiling it as a means of long-term supply.

For one thing, you will be better able to meet your dietary needs, and those of your family members, and it doesn’t really take very much space to do it. Preppers in some of the most urband settings are proving that container gardening can be just as beneficial as having a plot of rural land to grow on. So there are really no major excuses when it comes to growing food.

No matter how you choose to grow your food, the fact is that your gardens can always benefit from a healthy natural fertilizer. It’s also less expensive than purchasing fertilizer, and more sustainable, as there may be none left to buy at some point. At some point, it may be impossible not only to buy it, but even to travel to a place where there might be an availability.

Learn the Ins and Outs of Composting



It actually takes very little to learn the few steps in takes to make a compost material. This material is a great way to reuse food scraps and items that otherwise get thrown away while creating a plant boost that is rich in nutrients. This is one of the best materials to start your seeds in, before transplanting them to a garden plot or outdoor container. Using compost can even create a richer soil for the following garden season as well.

What Nutrients Does the Soil Need?
One of the most important steps in knowing how to make your own natural fertilizer is knowing what nutrients are necessary for proper plant health in the first place. Nutrients are necessary for plants to grow and even more important to keep those plants flourishing and producing. When it comes to survival gardening, a non-producing plant is a useless one.

Some of the most important nutrients needed include:

  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Nitrogen
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Sulfur
  • Boron
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Zinc

Natural Fertilizers


Egg shells are great for increasing the amount of calcium in your soil. This helps seeds and plants to develop on a cellular level, for a great start. Shells also have nitrogen and phosphoric acid in them, in some amount, but it is calcium that is most easily depleted throughout the growth process. Grind the egg shells into a powder form and simply sprinkle the powder all around your plants.





Coffee grounds are what you want to use for plants that need a soil rich in acidity, such as tomatoes, blueberries and avocados. The grounds help to increase levels of potassium, nitrogen and magnesium and can even raise the pH level in the soil.










Epsom salt is a long time homestead favorite for the garden, although it isn’t exactly common knowledge. Plants will grow healthier and foods such as broccoli, onions and cabbage will be sweeter. Some gardeners use it on tomato and pepper plants for stronger stems, extra blossoms and also for the sweeter flavor it adds. The Epsom salt helps by adding sulfur and magnesium to the soil. A good mixture is made by adding a tablespoon of salts to one called of water. You can use this to spray directly onto the plants at two week intervals. Epsom salts can also be applied directly to the ground around newly transplanted plants for an added boost.

Banana peels can be used to add an extra kick of potassium to the soil. You never have to worry about adding too much, as it is absolutely impossible to have too much potassium in the garden. No ill effects will be suffered, no matter how much you use. To utilize the peels, simply shred them into thin strips, placing them in a circular fashion around the base of your plants.

While it seems a bit voodoo-like, hair can be added to the garden for a richer nitrogen content. You can use human hair, dog hair, cat hair or any other kind of hair, so long as it is free from any type of hair product, flea shampoo, etc. For a greater amount of hair, you might volunteer to sweep up freshly washed and cut hair from a local salon to always have plenty on hand.

Seaweed is an excellent fertilizer option if you happen to live on the ocean, or even if you frequently vacation in areas on the waterfront. Make sure to pick up the seaweed to transport back to your garden. In order to keep the nasty smell from creating havoc, make sure you wash it and let it air dry before storing or transporting it. To use it, finely chop two cups of seaweed and mix it with equal amounts of water. The two cups will be enough to use around the base of small plants. Use four cups for medium sized plants and six cups for large plants.

If you’ve ever had or known someone who had a garden, then you’re probably use to hearing about using manure to fertilize crops. You can use manure that has been composted from cows, horses, chickens and even rabbits to cover many different kinds of plants. Rabbit manure is particularly good to use when growing tomatoes. Manure supplies a ready host of great nutrients to the soil and even deters many insects that would otherwise eat your plants. Steer clear of putting fresh manure on your plants, though. It’s possible to kill them this way.




Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Virtue of a Metal Swimming Pool

By Forest Puha

Enjoying your blistering hot summer day working on your homestead? Need to cool off--- but much too busy to drive to the nearest lake, river or ocean for a dip?

What you need is your own Backyard Homestead Swimming Pool, otherwise known as a big metal stock tank. Big enough to cool off, but small enough for adults to sit and relax in.

First you need to find the right size, big enough that you can sit down and have the water come to your chest, or lie on your back and float, or whatever works for you. My family chose a model about 8 feet round and two feet deep, big enough to kick, float and pretend to swim in. I can cool off whenever I'm home in the heat.

The temps in rural Nevada have reached and surpassed 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week, and that stock tank full of water has been --AWESOME-- to have. We have had our metal stock tank for 15 years now, and it's held up great.


Nothing beats desert heat like this beautiful steel pool. Years of use and keeps on ticking.






Here is how we did ours: just go to the local hardware or feed store, pick a size, pay for it, and either haul it home on your truck, or have the store deliver it. They delivered ours for free.


In today's prices, our particular model costs roughly $300 to $500 brand new. I admit it's a pretty big chunk of change, but consider this: it's your very own swimming pool without going through the hassle of digging out a spot to put it. Try looking for used ones in newspaper and online classifieds, or just ask your neighbors if they know someone willing to part with theirs.

Once you have a pool, find a good spot to place it and level that spot. Our soil is sandy so we just raked it even. You can also line the ground with bricks for a firm bottom surface. Then clean the pool out with a garden hose and fill it up with water. Make sure the plastic stopper near the bottom of the tank is screwed on good and tight. Put the hose in the pool and fill with water.

Don't add anything to the water if you can help it, or at most just enough chlorine to keep the water clear.

Our Behlen Country-brand stock tank swimming pool. Found at hardware and farm stores worldwide, including Home Depot, Lowe's, Tractor Supply, Ace, True Value and many others. You can even find them online at Amazon.

So after a few days or a week of splashing around in your great new pool, that water is getting pretty dirty, right? What to do? Waste all that water? No way! Attach a common garden hose to the drain hole at the bottom of the tank and place the other end to where your thirsty trees are waiting. You are using the same water you would have used to water your trees: you just swam in it first!

Clean out the pool with a rag or brush and plain old biodegradable soap, rinse, and refill. It'll hold up for years and even decades, unlike regular home swimming pools made from incredibly thin plastic.


Some of the trees at our place that our swimming pool keep hydrated.


Our pool faces our homestead and nourishes a windbreak of trees that tower over our cabin now, which provides needed shade from the hot summer sun and looks beautiful. It's a mix of pines and global willows and a huge mulberry tree that the birds love. All grown from the water drained from our stock tank pool. Just be sure you plant your trees away from underground pipes and any septic tank area. In the wintertime, we flip the tank over and wait for the next year. It helps to put a little weight on top or tie it down with rope and stakes to hold against high winds.

So there you go: how to own and make your economical and environmentally friendly swimming pool. It's just waiting for you to cool off on a summer hot day.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018



INCUBATING & BROODING COTURNIX QUAIL


The Internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I’m here to let you in on a secret… it’s not. Forget fumigation and floating techniques. It’s really no different than incubating a chicken egg. The only difference is that it takes less time and you might as well forget about candling. You simply pop your eggs in the incubator and start the clock (well, if you have an egg turner, otherwise you do have to turn them).
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

INCUBATING COTURNIX QUAIL EGGS

Coturnix quail go from being an egg to laying eggs in 8-9 weeks. Crazy, right? The first 17 days are spent incubating and days 18 and sometimes 19 are spent hatching. Much like chickens, there is no calendar in that egg, so quail chicks may begin to arrive as early as day 16 and as late as day 20. If you have chicks hatching before or after that window, you will want to confirm that your humidity and temperatures in the incubator are accurate.

TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY

Humidity levels are one of the first issues with incubating your Coturnix quail eggs. Less is more. In fact, many people have great success doing a dry incubation with their quail eggs. If you choose a humid incubation, aim for 45% humidity for the first 15 days and increase to 65% for the final three days.
For temperatures, quail eggs incubate at a similar temperature to chicken eggs. If you are running a still air model incubator, aim for a temperature of 102ºF and rotate the eggs around the incubator when you turn them. In a forced air model incubator, aim for a temperature of 100ºF.

TURNING YOUR QUAIL EGGS

If you do not have an egg turner (which is a highly recommended investment if you plan to hatch quail eggs with any regularity), eggs need to be manually turned at least three times a day, though five times is better. Marking one side of the egg with an X and the other side with O makes it easier to confirm you’ve turned them all.
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

CANDLING QUAIL EGGS

Although you can try to candle as early as day 6, I personally never could see anything and stopped looking. My method is to let them sit in their turner until day 15 and just let them do their thing. On day 15, when I remove them from their turner for hatching, I hold them in my hand for a moment or up to my ear. The shells are very thin and often you can hear or feel them moving inside. I also noticed that infertile eggs weigh noticeably less than fertile eggs. Of course, if you are unsure, just let them stay in for the duration. Quail eggs have less risk of exploding than chicken eggs.

HATCHING DAY FOR QUAIL

I had read that hatch day was like watching popcorn popping in the microwave. Not much happens and then all of a sudden they all get popping out at once. There is some validity to that, but it’s not 100% accurate. There are always a few that are early to the party as well as several that are late to arrive. The ones in the middle do seem to go from unpipped to out at a startling rate. I’ve looked in and seen no action whatsoever and then an hour later looked in to find a dozen running around. Quick little buggers they are.
Once everyone is hatched and fluffy, it’s time to move on to brooding. Remember to have your brooder set up several hours in advance so it has time to warm before the chicks need to be moved.

BROODING COTURNIX QUAIL CHICKS

Much like the incubation process, brooding Coturnix quail is not any more difficult than brooding chicken chicks. I think people get nervous because the chicks are so tiny. I’ll admit that it seems a lot could go wrong with a chick the size of a half dollar coin. The biggest fear I had was making sure none had died and I hadn’t noticed. Quail are usually hatched in large batches and it’s a challenge to count 50 chicks that look exactly the same. Mine are grown now and I still have trouble doing head counts.

BROODER SIZE

You may think that a brooder for such a tiny bird could be small, and you’d be correct for about a day. Coturnix quail do everything quickly and growing is no exception. Although they will look dwarfed in a large brooder for the first day, by the end of the first week, they’ll be wing to wing. Your Coturnix quail will look considerably different at the end of the day than they did when you woke up that morning. 6″ square per bird is adequate, but the larger the better.
The internet would have you believe that incubating and brooding Coturnix quail is difficult. I'm here to let you in on a secret... it's not.

FOOD AND WATER

As with any chick, feed and water need to be made available at all times. Water containers need to have marbles or rocks in them for the first week to prevent drowning. After the first week, any shallow water container will work. Quail need to be fed a high protein feed to keep up with their rapidly growing bodies. I like to use turkey/gamebird starter for the first 4 weeks, which is 28% protein content. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find this starter in mash consistency. It often comes in crumbles, which is too large for quail chicks. I purchased a coffee grinder at a thrift store and use that to grind the crumbles for the first two weeks. After two weeks, the quail seem to be able to handle the size of crumbles.
PROPER BROODING TEMPERATURES
Temperature needs for brooding Coturnix quail seem to vary depending on
the time of year and where you live. The general consensus is that they should
be kept at 95ºF for the first week and lowered by 5º each week. I’ve successfully
gotten away with less. Most texts say that you need to keep lowering the
temperature weekly until the brooder temperature is the same temperature as
where you will be housing them, but I haven’t found that to be true.

MOVING YOUR QUAIL OUTDOORS

I removed the heat at three weeks old (so they were at 65-70ºF) and moved our quail outdoors at four weeks old. I had a heat lamp on in their outdoor housing and none of them used it, even on colder days. In fact, on their 5th day outside it was raining cats and dogs and they were out in the rain scratching for goodies. I think they are hardier than people give them credit for.
Regardless of where you live or what time of year it is, your Coturnix quail will be ready for their new home by 5 weeks. They’ll also be preparing to start laying at that same time. Check back for our post on housing and laying.