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How To Prepare an Herb Garden in Winter February 28, 2017

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Who’s itching to get outside and start gardening? This article has to do with some things you can start preparing in your herbal gardens for the spring…but prepare now.  Yes, now, while the snow and ice and the Yeti are all around… well, probably not (and hopefully not) the Yeti.  But just because that snow and ice are still on the ground does not mean you cannot start taking the steps to give you an advantage and a “step ahead” of the pack come springtime.

Having a successful garden is all about timing. Make sure you prep your starter soil, pots and the area where you plan to grow. If you don’t live in an area where there is heavy snow, begin cleaning and preparing your growing area. Here are some tips to get started.

Planting Conditions

So, what kind of herbs are we talking about here?  Chives, Cilantro, and Parsley, for starters, are perfect herbs for starting in the late winter.  You’re going to start these guys indoors: seeds in general don’t germinate unless the mean temperature is at least 65 degrees Fahrenheit.  In addition, you’re going to have to utilize as much of that sunlit side of your house as possible.  When you throw these guys into pots (containers) and leave them in your windows?  Give them some “setback” from the glass, as the cool air will linger up to about 1 to 1 ½ inches away from the glass.

Sunlight

You’ll need the sunlight, but not the cold up against the glass.  You will have to be more inventive if you have closed off your windows with plastic, as this will stop some of the sunlight from reaching your sills.  Your herbs will need at least 3 to 4 hours of direct sunlight (morning is preferable), and some indirect in the afternoon if it can be provided.

Naturally, if you have your greenhouse, then much of this becomes a moot point as long as allowance for sunlight and temperature are taken into consideration.  You may need to heat the greenhouse, and this can be done in several ways: with electric heat/heat lighting, with manure/peat that generates organic heated “gassing,” or with a small wood stove.  With this last option (as I’ve mentioned in past articles), it is very important to throw a teakettle (a noiseless one!) or a pot of water on the top of the woodstove.  This will allow for some moisture and humidity, and your plants will appreciate this even more than you!


The factors to control are your water, your soil, and your drainage.  An excess or inadequacy of any of these can lead to ruined herbs, whether you’re germinating your own seeds or whether you’re using cuttings.


Potted windowsills or potted greenhouses, take your pick and stick with it.  Another thing you can do is in March, set up low-tunnels, with hoops made of plastic or aluminum and covered with plastic sheeting.  These will enable maximum amounts of sunlight, and keep your cuttings or seedlings close to the ground.

Prepare the Garden Area Before Planting

Make sure you clear out an area for them that is sufficient.  When the weather warms up so that your herbs (the hardier ones) can handle a frost, it’ll be time to transplant them into boxes.  Anything on the ground should not be touching the ground directly, to prevent frost from entering.  You mulched your perennials in the fall, and soon it will be time to start tending to them, such as garlic, for example.

All in all, potting your seedlings and/or cuttings is the way to go, either in the windows or in the greenhouses.  Best thing to do is research your herbs prior to exposing them to the cold, as some herbs like basil cannot handle cold weather and fall over when the cold hits them.  Plan according to the herb, and the zone in which you live, all of which can be determined either online or in your county extension office.  So, start your herbs and planning for the spring…a few are “early risers” (such as the ones mentioned) that you can begin in the wintertime.  Spring will be here before you know it, so get those green thumbs moving!  We’d love to hear those “green thumb” comments about what you do, as they are valued by us and all of the other readers as well.  Thumbs up, and happy winter herb gardening!

 

JJ

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published February 28th, 2017
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Homesteading Basics: How To Dehydrate Herbs for Long-Term Storage January 30, 2017

dehydrating herbs for storage
Herbs are one of the first plants we put in our garden. There is nothing like fresh culinary herbs to intensify the flavors of food. As well, herbs are hardy garden plants that don’t have to be watered as much as vegetables and can serve more than one purpose by being used as natural medicine. For instance, did you know that a sage leaf can be used instead of a band-aid because it has natural healing qualities? Some of these popular culinary herbs are oregano, thymne and sage and can grow year-round in many parts of the country.

To enjoy these herbs year round, many choose to dehydrate them when they are at the peak in freshness and combine them to make their own spices and even homemade tea blends. Can you imagine how much money you could save at the grocery store by implementing this into your pantry?

How To Dehydrate Herbs for Long-Term Storage

Dehydrating herbs and other leafy greens is one of the easiest items to dry for long-term use. All you really need is a constant stream of air. You don’t necessary have to own a dehydrator because herbs can dry naturally from the air, but it does help with even drying.

Here are some steps to get started:

  1.  Prep herbs for drying. Wash and place herbs evenly on a drying rack and ensure that enough space is make for proper air flow.
  2. Set temperature and time according to the directions on your dehydrator.
  3. Ensure that herbs are 95% dehydrated for long-term storage.

Here are some great spice mixes to start adding to your pantry!

Cajun Seasoning

  • 1/3 cup salt
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

Chili Powder

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

French Herb Mix

  • 3 tablespoons marjoram
  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 3 tablespoons savory
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seed

Chili Powder

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

Storing Dehydrated Herbs

Herbs can be dehydrated to store for longer periods, but storage is important for any preserved food, and dehydrated foods are no exception. Store either in heavy duty zippered bags in a metal container, or store in dry, sterile, glass jars. For long term storage, I recommend using Mylar bags.

As I stated previously, before storing, you want to ensure that your food is 95% or more dehydrated because the more moisture your food has the more likely molds and microorganisms can grow. Like all emergency food sources, ensure that you keep your dehydrated food away from natural elements.

“Best Used By” Guidelines for Dehydrated Food 

  • Spices – 1-2 years
  • Vegetables/Fruits – Up to 12 months
  • Meats – Best at 1-2 months, but can be stored for 6 months.

We are all looking for frugal ways to bulk up our preparedness pantries. Using herbs is a great way to do that. Some of our favorite herbs we love to grow in our garden can be utilized to make long-term herbal seasonings to use year round. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to start dehydrating!

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at ReadyNutrition.com for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 30th, 2017
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The Prepared Workplace: Lifesaving Supplies You Need Before the Emergency January 13, 2017

prepared workplace
[Editor’s Note: On average, we spend over 50 hours a week away from our homes. Chances are, if a sudden disaster occurs at your workplace and you are forced to shelter in place for a given time, many coworkers (including yourself) could be unprepared. Would you have enough food and water to wait an emergency out at work? A disaster plan is only as good as your Plan A, B and C.]

So, ReadyNutrition Guys and Gals, have you made a big batch of pemmican for yourselves yet?  If so, then I commend you.  If not, then get on the stick!  The beef stick, that is, because pemmican is one of the foods that is perfect to carry around.  I know, I know, between bug-out bags, micro-tools, thermoses, and the likes of which I have been writing about recently…you need to be an octopus to be able to carry all of it.  It is better to have, as you well know, than not to have something.  Let’s talk about food in this regard.

The Secret to Survival is Prior Planning

Undoubtedly you have laid up a supply for yourselves and your families in your home and have some packed in your “go” bags.  We’ll now touch on a few other areas: in your workplace and on your person. Some preparedness and emergency items for the entire office are:

Talk to your supervisor about the existing emergency plan and find ways of improving it. You could even create a preparedness month where each coworker donates money to get the office prepped!

Ultimately, It’s About You!

If your workplace shrugs off your attempts to get them prepped, that shouldn’t stop you from getting some extra food and provisions for yourself in your workplace (and also carry a little on you at all times). Keep in mind, this is about giving yourself an “edge” and perhaps buying you some time in a sticky situation.

If you have a workplace locker (the best are those that lock), a basket/cubby space, or a shelf for your things, you can stock up a few cans of food and some essentials.  Why?  Because that is what preparation is all about: the “what-if’s” that may arise.  What if you cannot go outside to your vehicle to get your “go” bag?  There could be any number of reasons: severe flooding, rioting, extreme cold weather, among others.  You may have to make do with what you have on your person or in your workplace.

As well, make sure you have some clean athletic socks and walking shoes stored on you. As well, have some extra change on hand in case you need to get items from the vending machines (items like water, nuts, crackers, etc., will run out quickly in an emergency).

Your Personal Workplace Prepper Pantry

Even if you just have a bag that you stash under a table or in a back room, you can throw extra canned goods in there.  Here’s a sample of what to place in your bag or locker (with a locker, remember, you can probably put some more food in there):

  • (4) cans of food (preferably heat-and-eat prepared dinner-ravioli, soups, etc.)
  • (2) 20-ounce or 32-ounce bottle of water
  • (1) Ziploc sandwich bag of a snack (trail mix, pretzels, dried fruit, etc.)
  • (1) Ziploc bag of hard candies
  • (1) small bag of dried meat (jerky, pemmican, beef sticks, etc.)

That will get you started, but you don’t have to stop there. There are many types of disasters that could occur while you are at work. What happens if there is a fire and you need to escape? Or, in a worst case scenario, hazardous material has leaked into the air. Why not have a gas mask on hand? There are many gas masks that are compact and can fit inside your desk.

Remember, these items are for your personal space/storage space in your workplace.  If you have an office and a desk, all the better.  If the desk has any drawers that lock, then it’s optimal.  Remember this rule:

If it’s a time of trouble or scarcity, whatever you need will also be needed by others.

Sesame Street rules aside, you do not need to advertise that you have a stash of extra food in your office drawer or wall locker.  Keep your supplies in a nondescript gym bag or other non-transparent/non-translucent carrier.

Their need is not a justification for your sharing, nor their shortsightedness for your “help” regarding preparations. 

One way to circumvent this is to get coworkers involved in getting the workplace prepared for these types of emergencies and have them create their own personal workplace pantries.

So, we’ve addressed the workplace, and now how about on your person?  Why?  Because it gives you an edge.  I have written articles in the past on the value of cargo pants with cargo pockets.  Here I am, recommending them again.  I carry a small bag of peanut butter-filled pretzels in my cargo pocket, as well as a bag of jerky, and about half a dozen hard candies (I like those Jolly Rancher ones).  There’s a good reason for it.

What if you’re trapped in an elevator?  Or (as mentioned before) something goes wrong, such as a power outage that leaves you trapped for a while.  What then?  It is a proven fact that the intake of simple sugars helps the human body during times of stress or crisis.  In addition, it is a psychological support you’ll give to yourself to help you deal with all of it.  The protein in the jerky and the peanut butter is important; the necessity to replace protein can never be understated.

The hard candies give you some simple sugar to throw into your bloodstream, and keep the mouth from drying out.  As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, if you can’t drink, then do not eat anything.  You will deplete yourself further; you must drink in order to digest your food.  The difficulty this presents is obvious, because if you don’t tote around a water bottle all the time, you’ll have trouble finding water when the need arises.  So, tote it around!  Everybody walks around all the time with coffee cups and soda bottles, so it won’t look out of place for you to tote around a 20-ounce PowerAde bottle with water in it.

These are akin to “tiers” of response levels: 1st is what you have on you, 2nd in your work area/locker, and 3rd in your vehicle.

One more key point: All the stuff not on you becomes a cache point if you can’t reach it, and you can go for the stuff later on.

You may have to forgo getting food out of your locked desk drawer because 10 other people may see it.  Who’s going to think of going into your desk drawer for food unless you make them aware it’s there.  Practice OPSEC, and re-read the article I wrote on the Nosy Neighbors…the ones who will eat your food and maybe you along with it if their needs call for it.  Keep it to yourself.  It’s better to wait until everybody is out of the area, and then obtain your supplies from your locked and unknown (to your “buddies” at work) location.  Ounce of prevention, pound of cure.  JJ out!

Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published January 13th, 2017
Comments Off on The Prepared Workplace: Lifesaving Supplies You Need Before the Emergency