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7 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden May 19, 2017

Growing medicinal plants are a great way to ensure garden sustainability and more notably, have access to natural medicine when you need it most. When I introduced more herbs in my garden, I noticed it had a profound impact on the vegetables and fruits I was growing. It also encouraged beneficial insects and birds to visit my garden and this helped cut down on plants being eaten.

Because of this observation, I changed my focus from solely growing to eat and, instead, worked to create a welcoming growing environment. Not only were my plants healthier, but I had access to natural herbs to use for making extracts and poultices. The following are reasons I feel gardeners should adopt adding medicinal herbs to the garden.

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6 Reasons Why You Should Have a Medicinal Garden

  1. Have access to multiple forms of natural medicine for future needs. When you have fresh cut herbs to use for natural medicine, you have access to the freshest forms of their healing properties. For example, what if you cut your hand and did not have a bandage. Did you know that the sage leaf can be wrapped around a wound and used as a natural band-aid? Or, if the bleeding from that cut was so bad that it wouldn’t stop bleeding. Did you know that a few shakes of your cayenne pepper can help control the bleed? Or, if you have a severe bruise, make a poultice. It’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to use herbal medicine.
  2. Calm your senses with medicinal teas. Herbs like lavender, lemon balm, chamomile, catnip, and peppermint have a natural sedative quality to them to help calm your spirits or help you sleep better at night. Taking a handful of leaves and adding them to a cup of hot water will create a soothing cup of herbal tea. Here are some great herbal tea remedies to start with.
  3. Many medicinal plants and herbs are perennials and will come back year after year. The more established the plants are, the more they will produce each year. This will save you money in the long run! I bought a small oregano plant three years ago and it is the size of a small shrub. I have so much oregano now that I can use it for culinary uses and experiment with making my own tinctures and astringents. As well, my echinacea has produced so many “baby” plants that I have dug them up and transferred them to another part of my property where I am creating another medicinal garden.
  4. Feed your livestock! Livestock can also benefit from growing herbs in the garden.  Not only can they be added for additional nutrition, but you can use herbs to make natural cleansing shampoos and even clean wounds. Some herbs I feed my animals are oregano, comfrey, lavender, mint, and sage.  Note: not all herbs are healthy for your livestock, so do research to find out which ones are good for your animals.
  5. Another added benefit of having a thriving medicinal garden is that bees love it! This promotes bee sustainability and a healthier garden, as well. The blossoms put out by the flowers and herbs will attract bees that will, in turn, happily pollinate your vegetable and fruits. Consider planting some of these beneficial flowers in addition to herbs:
    • Asters (Aster/Callistephus)
    • Sunflowers (Helianthus/Tithonia)
    • Salvia (Salvia/Farinacea-Strata/Splendens)
    • Bee balm (Monarda)
    • Hyssop (Agastache)
    • Mint (Mentha)
    • Cleome / Spider flower (Cleome)
    • Thyme (Thymus)
    • Poppy (Papaver/Eschscholzia)
    • California poppies (Eschscholzia)
    • Bachelor’s buttons (Centaurea)
    • Lavender (Lavandula)
  6. Regrow from cuttings on your windowsill. Herbs like rosemary, lavender, mint, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, lemon balm, and thyme are perfect for starting in a glass or canning jar. Simply add water and set in indirect sunlight – it’s that simple! Read more here.
  7. Herbs can be great companion plants for the vegetable garden. Don’t feel handcuffed to only growing vegetables, but herbs can be planted nearby to do double duty as companion plants. Companion planting can also help control the insect balance in your garden and repel some of the more unwanted guests like mosquitoes. Some favorite companion herbs are pairing basil with tomatoes, chamomile near cucumbers, garlic planted near apple, pear and peach trees, roses, cucumbers, peas, lettuce or celery. Read more about which herbs are great companions here.

Ready Nutrition writer and herbalist, Jeremiah Johnson has written extensively on how to cultivate a medicinal garden to use in a long-term emergency. His favorite medicinals are what he refers to as the 3 G’s: garlic, ginger, and ginseng. You can read his article on the subject.

To better understand natural medicine and using herbals for health, I strongly recommend you read more on the subject. The following books come highly recommended:

Herbal Antibiotics: Natural Alternatives for Treating Drug-Resistant Bacteria,” by Stephen Harrod Buhner.

Prepper’s Natural Medicine: Life-Saving Herbs, Essential Oils and Natural Remedies for When There is No Doctor, by Cat Ellis (Herbal Prepper)

This is not a new gardening concept, yet is still not widely used. When you are planting your garden, consider adding a few herbs and watch the benefits grow before your eyes.

 

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 May 19th, 2017
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Real Life Survival Story: How to Survive When the Grid Goes Down May 1, 2017

Often times, readers will ask me why I am such a stickler when it comes to preparedness. Well, folks, it’s because I’ve lived through extended off-grid events and I know first-hand how quickly supplies can be depleted, how infrastructure can be damaged and how a relatively peaceful community can quickly descend into chaos.

If you haven’t prepared for hurricanes, get the step-by-step guide and make it a priority!

Keep these facts in mind before you continue reading my personal account:

  • Over 80% of people on this planet live within 100 miles of a coastline. Despite attempts at getting the population better prepared, according to FEMA, only 40% of the U.S. population actively prepares.
  • It has been a decade since the last major hurricane causing some residents living in hurricane-prone areas to be lax in their preparedness efforts.
  •  Food, water, gasoline and medications are just a few of the items restocked weekly in order for our dependent society to maintain a steady flow.  When supply trucks cannot get through to meet the needs of the people in a timely manner, those dependent on the supplies will become desperate and breakdowns can occur within the community.
  • Infrastructure repairs can take anywhere from days to weeks.
  • Hurricanes have the capacity to bring about large-scale flooding, wind damage, and tornadoes.

This is my personal account of living through the aftermath of a hurricane and just how quickly a society can break down and descend into chaos following a disaster

In September of 2008, Hurricane Ike wreaked havoc on the coastline of Texas. We were living north of Houston, TX at the time and aside from losing power, all in all, my family was ok. We were lucky and hadn’t sustained any damage to our home. I thought that we would be without our modern-day conveniences for maybe a week at the most. Little did I know that things don’t easily go back to normal following natural disasters and this emergency would set me on a life-altering course.

Week 1: At this point, we were ok. We had supplies for our basic needs. September is still relatively warm in Houston, so aside from not having air conditioning, we could get through it. I considered it an uncomfortable indoor camping trip. We had to ration our light sources because batteries in the area had been sold out from all the hurricane preparations. As well, the use of the generator had to be rationed because of the gasoline it used. We would run it for a few hours to get the temperature back to where it should be and then turn it off. I remember how hot it was that year and it took a lot of self-control not to open the refrigerator door to get a brief reprieve from the heat and humidity.

A few days after the hurricane hit, the city announced that the municipal water had been treated and the water should be safe to drink. I turned the water faucet on and it had a profound smell of bleach. With three small children, I didn’t want to chance it, so we continued drinking our bottled water supply. Nighttime was the hardest. My children were 5, 3 and 2 at the time, so it was hard to explain to them why we were in the dark. The sound of generators was always in the background and because we lived in a neighborhood, it was hard to sleep.

Week 2: This “uncomfortable camping trip” was getting to be a nuisance. One aspect of this event we hadn’t prepared for were the mosquitos. They were everywhere! The moment you stepped outside, they were swarming you. I realized then that this is how diseases start up after hurricanes and we stayed inside as much as possible. As well, my small children were getting restless, but because of the mosquitoes outside and the concern of tainted flood water still in puddles around our home, it wasn’t a good idea to let them play in the yard.

Grocery stores were unable to keep bottled water and shelf stable food on the shelves, so you had to go very early in the morning before the supplies had been picked through. I was concerned that we wouldn’t have enough water and our children would get dehydrated because of the suffocating heat. Opening windows only did so much at this point. I will say, that our neighbors were very helpful. If you didn’t have something, they would be happy to share.

Week 3: Let’s be honest, no one likes this type of change. We had been off the grid for the better part of a month and everyone was ready for things to get back to normal. As much as we wanted that change, we would have to continue waiting and from the constant bombardment of heat, mosquitos and not having our modern-day conveniences the community was teetering on the edge. At this point, gas shortages began occurring throughout the city. Because of the debris in the roads, gas stations couldn’t get a fresh supply, and as a result, fights began to break out at the local gas stations to get the remaining gasoline.

I also began smelling a pungent odor from the ravine behind my house. It turns out, that my friendly neighbors hadn’t emptied their septic tanks before the storm and were running a hose out to the ravine and dumping their septic waste behind our home. This coupled with the swarming mosquitoes could only mean a disease waiting to happen.

To get power back to the city, officials had broken Houston and surrounding cities into zones and we were the last zone to have infrastructure repaired. This was my breaking point. While we had supplies, we were running low and I didn’t know how much longer we could continue. I felt like I had let my children down because we were not as prepared as we should and I vowed to never put them in that position again.

A few days later, my prayers were answered. I saw men working outside my home to restore power. There are no words for how that first breeze of cool air from our air conditioner felt. It truly set my soul at ease because I knew things would get back to normal again. Emotions would go back to normal again.

In retrospect, I was naïve in my preparedness planning. I was planning for the best-case scenario rather than the latter, as well, there were many aspects of preparedness that I hadn’t considered and paid the price for it. I took this situation and decided to learn from it. Since that fateful day, I equipped my home with more preparedness supplies, studied emergency planning to have a better understanding of what to expect and started my website, Ready Nutrition. I didn’t want anyone to go through an emergency under prepared like I did.

Moreover, when I saw my neighbors dumping their waste, I made it a goal to educate the public on how communicable diseases can exacerbate following emergencies. The greatest lesson I learned from this is to know ahead of time what to expect and plan for the worst-case scenario. The more prepared we are to live through these minor inconveniences the better off we will be.

Some of the supplies I added to my home were:

Many items I was able to frugally purchase because they were found at my local Dollar Store. I made a checklist and started adding to my supplies any opportunity that I had.

 Here are a collection of articles you may find useful in your own preparedness planning

Preparation

Supplies

Medical Needs

Communication

Sanitation

Evacuation

Make your hurricane preparedness a priority this year

Hopefully, you can learn from my mistakes. The time to prepare for this natural disaster is now before any storms are on the horizon. Using this approach is also easier on the pocketbook and will help you prepare with a clear head rather than a panicked one. The best place to start is to find resources, checklists, and advice from experienced professionals. Even asking friends and family what their personal stories of surviving hurricanes are can better prepare you.

Now that I have enough supplies to get through an extended off-grid emergency and the skills that go along with it, I feel more confident. Although my children are older, I know they have the skills and understanding to get through a disaster as well. Keep in mind that pre-season planning is always better as it will give you time to think out exactly what you will need, what your plan should be and how to live through an off-grid event.

 

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 May 1st, 2017
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8 Sustainable Changes You Can Make That Will Have a Positive Impact on Earth April 22, 2017

It’s a cold, hard fact that Earth’s once plentiful resources are drying up. Climate change, food and water shortages, pollution, deforestation, agriculture changes are all being caused by the wasteful nature of humans. These impacts have directly altered the Earth’s surface faster than the natural process. We are at a tipping point.

One small act can have a far-reaching impact and it all starts with a single step.

Here are some interesting facts to put things into perspective.

  • An average of 230 million tons of trash that is thrown away each year in the United States, and many do not realize that the trash they are throwing away can be reused.
  • Commercial food sources have become corrupted with genetically modified foods, hormones/antibiotics, pesticides and neurotoxins.
  • On average, one household uses 350 gallons of water.
  • Running tap water for two minutes is equal to 3-5 gallons of water.
  • America uses about 15 times more energy per person than the typical developing country.
  • In the United States, more than 40 percent of municipal solid waste is paper — about 71.8 tons a year.
  • Some 4 to 5 trillion plastic bags—including large trash bags, thick shopping bags,and thin grocery bags—were produced globally in 2002. Roughly 80 percent of those bags were used in North America and Western Europe. Every year, Americans reportedly throw away 100 billion plastic grocery bags. (Worldwatch Institute)

The way we live directly impacts our environment and, let’s be honest, humans are very wasteful in regards to using up precious resources. We must begin doing our part to prolong tho negative effects we have on this planet. Earth Day is the perfect time to reflect upon what we can do to live more in tune our planet. In the past, we have suggested ways to make more earth-friendly choices such as recycling, not using chemical cleansers and re-purposing items, but it’s time to take another step forward and begin to live in a more sustainable nature.

8 Sustainable Changes You Can Make That Will Have a Positive Impact on Earth

  1. Buy localFarmers markets are a great way to buy locally and teach your family about sustainability. It is estimated that the average American meal travels about 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. Our dependency on far away food sources leaves a region vulnerable to supply disruptions, and removes any real accountability of producer to consumer. As well, nutritional value can quickly decline as time passes after harvest. Finding local food sources can circumvent this impending issue and, because locally grown produce is freshest, it is more nutritionally complete. As well, join an organic food co-op to get more good food for less. It’s a great way to start to dip your toes into the self-sovereign movement that is sweeping the US.
  2. Cut the crap out of your diet – GMO and chemically enhanced food is no way to keep your family healthy. This is a big change to make, but will enhance your health in the long run. The easiest way to cut out foods that are full of hormones, antibiotics or considered gmo is to buy organic. A study recently noted that eating organic foods is more healthy than conventional foods. found that organics contain 18 to 69 percent higher concentrations of antioxidants. This means that an organic consumer will ingest the antioxidant equivalent of approximately two extra produce portions every day, without altering food intake. In your new diet, you should also steer clear of artificially colored or flavored food, non-organic milk and meat sources. As well, corn and soy are almost always GMO. Foods containing neurotoxins like MSG, fluoride, or aspartame (along with other artificial sweeteners) should be avoided. By switching to organic and natural foods you are letting all the commercial food sources out there that you object to chemicals being put in your foods. Think of it as a silent protest – and when they can’t get you to buy their product, they’ll take notice and make necessary changes.
  3. Support the bees – Our basic way of life is largely dependent on those little buzzing bees busily collecting food. Bees have been in sharp decline in North America and in parts of Europe over the last several years. Many believe multiple factors are to blame for colony collapses, a few being chemical-based fertilizers, climate change and invasive parasites that attack the hive. This is causing massive amounts of damage to insect-dependent agriculture. As a result, food shortages are on the rise and many experts are quickly trying to find ways to help the bees. Another way to support thriving bees is to follow in the footsteps of Oslo and help create a “bee highway” or feeding stations in urban areas to help feed the bees. “The idea is to create a route through the city with enough feeding stations for the bumblebees all the way,” Tonje Waaktaar Gamst of the Oslo Garden Society told local paper Osloby. ”Enough food will also help the bumblebees withstand man-made environmental stress better.”
  4. Start a garden – America was founded upon an agrarian lifestyle, and farmers were the driving force behind America. Currently, people are trying to find ways to move back to farming in order to grow their own food, to be more self-sufficient and less dependent on the government. In fact, by growing your own food, you cut down on trips to the grocery, thus cutting down on gasoline, carbon emissions and save some money in the process. As well, a lot of attention on yardfarming in suburbia has started becoming very popular in many parts of the United States. Yardfarmers converts unsustainable suburban developments, urban food deserts, or other neglected land into sustainable, more resilient opportunities for people while building community. How great would it be if the yardfarming movement popped up in your neck of the woods? If you can’t wait for the yardfarms, start a community garden. Community gardens encourage an urban community’s food security, allowing people to grow their own food. They bring urban gardeners closer in touch with the source of their food, and break down social isolation by encouraging community interaction.
  5. Sustainable landscaping – 60% of a person’s household water usage goes toward lawn and garden maintenance. During times of drought, our lawn and landscaping can become a bottomless pit where we are throwing away money to keep grass alive. Rather than spending exorbitant amounts of money to maintain landscaping, think outside of the box and choose a more sustainable form of landscaping. As well, consider growing native plants in your area. This will cut down on water usage and encourage native wildlife, insects, etc. to hang out in your yard.
  6. Only use organic fertilizers when gardening – Despite what some corporations want you to believe, chemicals are not good for plants. The application of glyphosate around the world has increased 15 fold since these Roundup Ready crops were first introduced in the 1990s. Roundup Ready crops have created a problem in agriculture that is similar to the problems caused by antibiotics, whose overuse has bred highly resistant strains of superbugs. The overuse of glyphosate has bred superweeds, which are resistant to the pesticide. And the more resistant they become, the more pesticides that farmers have to apply. It’s an endless cycle that farmers have no idea how to break out of. Composting organic material for the soil is a healthier alternative. With composting, you are utilizing aerobic and anaerobic decomposition processes to break down the compostable material and invite beneficial organisms to assist in the process. The end result is a full spectrum soil conditioner that has many benefits.
  • Compost contains macro and micronutrients often absent in synthetic fertilizers.
  • Compost releases nutrients slowly—over months or years, unlike synthetic fertilizers
  • Compost enriched soil retains fertilizers better. Less fertilizer runs off to pollute waterways.
  • Compost buffers the soil, neutralizing both acid & alkaline soils, bringing pH levels to the optimum range for nutrient availability to plants.
  • A compost tea can also be used as a foliar spray on the plant or poured into the soil.
  1. Some natural fertilizers can be found in your garbage and can be composted and turned into natural garden amendments. Banana peels, egg shells, coffee grounds are great for the garden! You can feed the soil with some of these soil amenders, as well: earthworm castingsphosphatepowdered oyster shell, and green sand.

7. Water conservation – Did you know that if a household started conserving water, you can reduce your in-home water use by 35%? This means the average household, which uses 130,000 gallons per year, could save 44,000 gallons of water per year. Learning ways to practice the art of conserving water now, will help you make the most of your water sources. Here are 22 ways to start!

8. Use less packaging – We are all guilty of using zip-loc bags and throwing them away after each use. It’s so wasteful! Luckily, there are lots of alternatives available to us. Some favorites are these paper sandwich baggies or this re-useable velcro sandwich bag. Both will reduce that dreaded carbon footprint. As well, purchasing re-usable lunch containers like these eco-friendly stainless steel containers are great alternatives to plastic. There are some foods like potatoes and oranges that come in their own mesh packaging and knowing how to reuse packaging can simplify your life. In addition, purchase grocery bags that can be reused. This will cut down on having an excess of plastic bags.

Find Alternative Uses For Some of Your Trash

Some of the trash we collect can serve other purposes, and changing your mindset is also an essential sustainability skill. Learning the art of using what you have around you to live is the core of being self-reliant – and what many of us are trying to achieve. Here are 50 of the most common items thrown away and ways you can reuse them. Creativity and resourcefulness can go a long way if we need to rely on what we have around us.

Whether you want to believe it or not, our current way of living is not sustainable. We over consume are wasteful and there is a better, more sustainable way to life. We can’t keep going on like this and if each of us where to make some minor changes to how we live, the earth would already be a better place to live. Let’s make Earth a better place!

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 April 22nd, 2017
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