Friday, March 16, 2012

Garden Time

The winter here in Texas has been extremely mild, almost hot. The weeds are growing great but not the grass. Today I added homemade compost to the raised bed in the hopes that the crop will be much better. Last season we got very little from the garden. Through the winter I had one tater plant sprout up unexpectedly in the garden and three others I nursed in pots. All four are in the garden but the one that grew through the winter has started to look rough. It may not make it to harvest time.
Hopefully I'll plant seed tomorrow. Most Texans started their gardens about 3 weeks ago. I'm way behind. Gonna plant the same as last year since we had seed left over. Today however I replanted my herb garden because the winter killed it. I also planted mint again. Mint has been one item I can get to start but it refuses to grow to a usable size. All the plants die once they get to about two inches tall. That's it for now. Later.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


Vermicomposting is one of the easiest methods to acquire compost for gardens or potted plants. Of course the trick is to create enough compost to properly feed a garden so that no chemical fertilizer is needed. The basics of vermicomposting are as follows;
1. Dark container to hold worms
2. Bedding material for the worms to live in initially
3. Red Wiggler Worms

First, the container to hold the worms can be anything that allows oxygen in, keeps the temperature between ~50-80 degrees, and is easy to add scraps to. Plastic totes can be used with lids if holes are drilled into the top of the container. I recommend 1/16th inch holes every four to five inches around the top portion of the tote or lid. If the holes are much bigger then the larger worms will escape. The worms will stay in the tote with no issues as long as moisture content is regulated and there is food for them. Check the tote every so often for moisture by either digging into the bedding or looking at the lid if its kept on. When the worms are gathering on the sides of the container, there is either too much moisture in the bedding or no moisture and they want out. Most of the time with enclosed containers, the food added has more than enough moisture to keep them satisfied.

Second, bedding material can be most any organic material you have available. One of the best things to use is junk mail and sensitive paper documents that need to be shredded. DO NOT USE plastic or glossy paper like magazine pages. These items either are poisonous to the worms or will take up space because they can't eat it. To start the bed with paper, tear the paper up and then wet it but do not soak it. Put the paper in the tote and add worms. Only about 1/4th to 1/3rd of the container needs to have paper to start which depends on the amount of worms you get. Also do not mat the paper together because it will be harder for them to wiggle into it. Remember, they like it dark.

Some people like to add a little dirt mixed into the paper so the worms can wiggle around a little easier but its not necessary. They will do just fine with the paper. Add food as needed so the worms can transform it into castings (poo). The castings are what is used as fertilizer. Some people use it to make "tea" which is castings soaked in water so the nutrients leach out into the water. The castings tea is then poured into potted plants as a natural fertilizer. Unlike chemical fertilizers, it won't burn the plants any.

Third, red wigglers are used because of their reproduction rates and because they are home bodies. Most of the time they will stay in the container as long as the conditions are good. Some like to wonder but that is why the holes should be tiny to keep most of them in. Red wigglers can be found either online or locally. Sometimes the local sources may be out of stock but I have noticed they are cheaper. Be careful about buying red wiggler feeder worms from pet stores. I have not found them to reproduce as rapidly as others. Could just be the batch I have though.

Well, that's all I can think of writing off the top of my head. If you have any questions, post them here and I'll address them.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Long Time

It's been a long time now since my last post. Things came up and this blog fell by the way side. There hasn't been a whole lot to write in it as far as the gardening plots go. Out of all that we planted, we got a few measly taters and a couple squash. The drought destroyed our plants and using city water to water twice a week did nothing but keep the plants alive.

The cantaloupe would start growing on the vine but would die before reaching a harvest-able size. I ended up just leaving them where they are to let them fertilize the ground instead of tossing them into the compost bin.

Speaking of compost bin, ours is doing fairly well. That is, with exception of the cracks in the ground which opened up around and in the bin. The drought has dried the clay filled ground so bad that its cracking and causing problems. Anyhow, the bin has become a collection of scraps that should be good for the garden next year. I'll toss most of it in whether its fully composted or not. The garden needs it I'm sure.

Lets go raaaaiiin, lets goooo.

Monday, May 9, 2011


The weeks have been crazy here. The plants are slowly growing and we're getting reports of others in the area about ready to harvest some items from their gardens. We water ours every 2 days to every 4 days depending on soil moisture content and weather but it seems we're missing something in the way of nutrients. When I built the raised bed I mixed manure in with topsoil in roughly a 1:1 ratio. The bag recommended 1 manure for every 2 topsoil but the manure seemed more like compost than manure so I increased the mix a little. I'll add that item to my notebook in case that is the cause of our slow crops.

The other factor is the heat. We have seen numerous 98deg days here. This temp is not good for our spring crops. They've shown signs of stress. My tater tires are showing stress as well. Could be tater blight or just could be the weather affecting them.

I noticed that the tater tire stacked two high looked bad for a bit and I stopped watering it. It looks much better and has begun to flower. Its catching up to the other two I planted round 2 weeks later. The difference is I kept if from growing by adding dirt and another tire to see what kind of harvest I might get. Here's a pick of the overall garden with the four test tater plants. Two in tires of differing height and two in the ground.
We're hoping for a harvest but we'll have to see. Really wanting to get a crop this year. If nothing else and the taters aren't affected with tater blight then we may get a good crop of them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Second Degree Burn

These are the ones that go deeper damaging more layers of skin, the skin becomes red, extremely painful with blisters.

Identify Second-Degree Burns

1 Look closely at the burn to see whether the skin has formed round blisters that are filled with clear or red-tinted fluid. Blisters, even if they are tiny, are indicative of a second-degree burn.
2 Compare the color of the burned area with the color of the surrounding skin. If the burn is very red with white splotches in it, then it's a second-degree one.
3 Compare the burned skin with that of the surrounding skin to see whether the burn is swollen, which is another symptom of a second-degree burn.

How to Treat Second Degree Burns

1 Soak the burn. Immediately after the skin has been burned, it is important to soak the burn in cool water for at least 15 minutes. Keep clean, cool wash cloths on the burn throughout the day.
2 Put on an antibiotic cream. Creams or ointments will help to treat the burn and control the pain. Apply the cream as soon as the burn has finished soaking in cold water.
3 Cover the burn. In order to treat a second degree burn, cover it with a dry, nonstick cloth such as gauze. Secure the gauze with tape, and replace the dressing with a clean one every day.
4 Wash the burn every day. It is important to keep a second degree burn clean as it heals to aid with treatment. Wash the burn and reapply antibiotic cream every day.
5 Look for infection. To treat a second degree burn, you must make sure that the area does not become infected. Look for signs such increased pain, redness, swelling or pus. Also avoid breaking blisters to avoid infection.
6 Take a pain reliever. Second degree burns are painful, and taking a pain reliever will help treat the symptoms of a second degree burn.
7 Get medical help. If the burn covers a large area, treat the burn using the steps above. Seek medical help to treat the burn.

Tips and Warnings

The Mayo Clinic advises that you seek medical attention if your second-degree burn is larger than 3 inches in diameter or if it's located on your hands, face, feet, buttocks, groin or on a major joint.
Never put ice on a burn, warns the Mayo Clinic, since it can cause your body to become too cold and can further damage the burned skin.
The organization says not to apply burn ointments or butter to a second-degree burn since a salve can cause infection. Also do not break open blisters, since that will make them more susceptible to infection.

And a side note, the President claims Osama Bin Laden is dead. Bin Laden may now be treated as a martyr or demigod to Islamics who wish us harm. Retaliation may hurt depending on how organized they are. The main objective that many Americans were after has been achieved, the leader of Al Qaeda is down for the count. I wonder why they buried him at sea so quick after the kill. Smells fishy but maybe its what we need. Stay prepared people. Never know what lies ahead.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Natural Minor Burn Remedies

Minor burns, although scary and painful, can be treated with natural home remedies. As long as the burn is a surface burn only, there are several alternative solutions that can prevent infection, soothe pains, stop scarring and help in healing.

Here are a few remedies…. 

Aloe Vera
One of the most common natural burn remedies is probably Aloe. Many of us still use it today and it does work rather well.
The Aloe Vera plant contains at least six antiseptic agents: lupeol, salicylic acid, urea nitrogen, cinnamic acid, phenol, and sulfur. All of these substances are recognized antiseptics, explaining why Aloe vera has the ability to eliminate many internal and external infections. Lupeol, salicylic acid, along with ingredient magnesium are all highly effective analgesics, which explains why Aloe vera is an effective pain killer.
Aloe vera also contains at least three anti-inflammatory fatty acids (cholesterol, campesterol and B-sitosterol), explaining why Aloe vera is an effective treatment for burns, cuts, scrapes and abrasions, as well as for rheumatoid arthritis, rheumatic fever and ulcers of all kinds, both internal and external. The presence of these fatty acids may explain why some experts feel Aloe is highly effective for many inflammatory conditions of the digestive system and other internal organs, including the stomach, small intestine, colon, liver, kidney and pancreas. The presence of these fatty acids, especially B-sitosterol could explain how Aloe juice is a treatment effective for allergic reactions and acid indigestion, and why it helps, in association with a low fat diet, to lower harmful cholesterol levels. 

For a minor (first degree) burn whole milk was used, either by soaking the burned area in a bowl of milk for 15 minutes or so or applying a cloth soaked in milk to the affected area. If you use this method for minor burns you may repeat every few hours to relieve pain. Be sure to wash out the cloth after use, as it will smell bad. Milk does not hold the healing power as aloe vera does it just works to soothe the burns and alleviate pain. 

Honey will sanitize minor burns by drawing out fluids. Place a few drops of honey directly on the burn, then place a bandage over the infected area. A gauze bandage works well, and should be changed several times daily. With each bandage change, a few drops of honey should be reapplied. 

Apple Cider Vinegar 
Use undiluted apple cider vinegar. Apply to the surface of the burned area and it will take away soreness. Applying it on the sunburn will take away the sting almost instantly and prevent the skin from peeling as well. 

Egg Whites 
Egg whites were often used to treat burns. Remove the yellow and use only the whites. Apply to the burned area like a salve or you can put egg whites in a bowl and soak the burned area. This treatment will not only ease the pain, but it will also help speed the healing and reduce the severity of scarring. While the egg white is still wet you will feel no pain from the burn. As soon as it dries up the pain comes back so reapplication is necessary. This can be used on sunburns as well. 

Slice of Tomato 
Just cut the tomato into wedges use one slice and rub over the burned area. The acid from the tomato takes the pain away and the burn will not blister.

NOTE: If the burn is not localized to one small area, you may want to soak in the tub instead. First, clean the tub with hydrogen peroxide or a small amount of bleach - and be sure to rinse the tub thoroughly. For this bath you will need tons of tea bags. Brew the tea with boiling water until it is very strong, and you can cool this down with half cold water. You should not get in until the water is no longer warm, and be sure to get out when the tea water gets too cold. You will need to either lie down in the tub or have the tub filled high enough to cover all the burned areas.
Never put butter on a burn! You may have heard that butter is a good healer for burns, but nothing could be further from the truth! Butter delays the healing time of a burn and in cases of severe burns, may cause infection.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fire On The Homestead

Happy Easter to all. We're just sitting at the house today getting mentally prepared for the week ahead and enjoying the time off. This post is an important one I thought needed to be put out for people.

I've noticed very few websites, books, or magazines mention the fire hazards associated with living on the homestead including your survival retreat. Fire is an ever present danger, especially in dry desert areas like Texas. Very few people would want to make Texas their go to place when calamity strikes but not everyone can or wants to run to the mountains to live.
No matter where you live fire is a possibility. It can destroy your home, barn, crops, shelters, and kill you and/or animals. There are medical dangers as well but first lets look at the homestead issues. A medical post about fire dangers will be presented at a later time.
To start, dead refuse in the field from this years harvest is a good thing. It keeps the soil from blowing away, keeps the water from washing it away, and helps the soil to hold moisture so microorganisms can work on the organic material and improve it for the coming year. But you have to consider the danger of that field catching fire. A spark from your chimney, spark from your outdoor fire, an enemy, maybe even lightening can send that field up in flames. Those flames may then jump to the forest and torch the area taking your home with it.
What would you do if a fire starts in your home? Do you have an effective, or at least a plan in place, to combat the fire? I hope so. Building a metal structure as your home is good. It should last a long time and it will provide a good defense against small arms if such an event occurs. The problem with a metal home is the heat that will build up during the summer or during a fire. The support and skin may be metal but there will be plenty of burnable material in and around that home to cook you to death. In a severe crisis you may not have the water pressure to run a hose or sprinkler system to control the fire. You'll have to escape and watch, waiting it out until you can return.
Lets do it this way for easier reading and reference;

Structure (Interior Source)
This type of fire can be cause by lightening, an enemy, a wildfire, or your chimney. Even when things hit the fan you need to make sure you clean your chimney. Keep it clean so you don't lose what your trying to protect.
Having a water tower to provide water pressure would help a lot here but you'd have to consider the possibility of an enemy destroying it as well. As preppers we can't prepare for everything but we try. Another aid would be a large body of water close by such as a large pond, lake, stream, or river. This method requires many hands to carry buckets of water and a steady and quick pace to prevent extensive damage.
Unless your using a solar system you won't have to worry about wiring catching fire so your main concern will be chimney fires. Have your place set up in advanced with flashing around the chimney and regular maintenance to reduce your chance of fire. Be careful using heating and lighting sources such as candles and kerosene lamps. These cause many indoor fires. Remember smoke is the enemy because it can suffocate you. Watch dogs are good, alarming you if something is out of the ordinary.

Structure (Exterior Source) and Field
The fire starters are the same as above. The best defense here is a good offense. This means keeping an eye on dead brush. Maintain a perimeter between all structures, fields, and forest areas. Ten to twenty feet makes a good fire line between the forest and your structures and fields. The fire line will reduce the chance that the fire will jump to other fuel sources. Another good reason to have the fire line is it will open your field of view, allowing you to see intruders from a greater distance.

In a TEOTWAWKI situation there will not be metal “a plenty” so you will have to fall back on wood as your primary building material. Thats just fine because thick logs make great homes and won't burn as easy as the thin pieces of wood used in todays construction. You should plan now for how you want your landscape to look and the material you would like to build your buildings with. It makes it easier to have the setup now and be used to it.