September 23, 2014

3 Tips to Fix Blossom End Rot

Todays article is written by Mike the gardener from the Seed of the Month Club.
 
backet_of_veggies

 

Blossom end rot is one of the easier vegetable plant diseases to spot and the most asked about as well.  A few times each week someone will post a picture on our vegetable gardening Facebook page asking “Why are my tomatoes doing this?”

 

When your tomatoes have blossom end rot, they look great at the top, but on the bottom of the fruit, is a dark, mushy spot, that makes the tomato look inedible.  Blossom end rot typically looks like the picture below.  Along with tomatoes, blossom end rot also affects peppers, squash, cucumbers, and melons.

 
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
 

THE CAUSE OF BLOSSOM END ROT

In short, blossom end rot occurs when your plant is not getting enough calcium.  However, it could be because your plants are not getting enough water either.   While your soil may have ample amounts of calcium in it for your plants, there still needs to be sufficient water in order for the plant to carry the calcium to where it needs to go.

 

Before you start heavy watering your plants though, it would be best to check the type of soil that you have and take a reading of your soil to see if it has the nutrients, in this case calcium and pH level that your plants need to avoid this disease.

 

Typically, soils that are acidic, sandy, or coarse often contain less calcium.  Also, overusing fertilizers can cause calcium deficiency as well.   Overusing fertilizers can increase your phosphorous levels which creates an environment where the calcium that is present is unusable by your plants.

 

FIXING BLOSSOM END ROT

Now that you know what blossom end rot looks like, what it is and what can cause it, the next logical step would be to understand how to fix this issue.  Your first step with blossom end rot, and just about any plant disease, is to mix in plenty of organic material, i.e., compost.  By mixing in plenty of compost, you are keeping your soil healthy and that creates a well suited environment for your plants.

 

The next step would be to check your soil’s pH level.  If your soil is too acidic you can add some lime to it to bring the pH level up.  The pH level of your soil will depend upon what you are growing, but you are shooting for 6.0 to 6.5 which is an ideal range for most plants in the home vegetable garden that are susceptible to blossom end rot.

 

Unfortunately, once your fruit has blossom end rot, that particular fruit cannot be reversed back to a healthy fruit.  Therefore you have to take steps to ensure that future fruit on that plant do not meet the same fate.  An immediate solution, so as to not lose your harvest for the season, is to use a liquid fertilizer that is enhanced with calcium.  There are plenty of organic options on the market.    Also, be sure to water daily so that your plants can actually move that calcium throughout the plant.

 

Again, blossom end rot cannot be reversed on particular fruits.  Once the fruit has it, it has it.  That does not make the fruit inedible though.  Just cut off the end that is dark and mushy.  To me, the fruit tastes the same.

 

mypicAbout the Author

Mike Podlesny is the author of the bookVegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of theSeeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on theVegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts.

Simple and Straightforward Tips For Keeping Food Fresh

Today’s article was written by Lee Flynn


Simple and Straightforward Tips For Keeping Food Fresh

If you’re sick of noticing your food go bad in what seems like the blink of an eye, you don’t have to sit back helplessly. A few handy tips can go a long way in keeping your food fresh for a longer period of time.





Fresh Onions and Pantyhose





If you’re a big onion household, then you might want to consider stashing these veggies away inside of pantyhose, oddly enough. If you do so, they’ll be able to stay good for upward of 8 months. Make sure all of the onions are apart by tying knots in the middle of them.





Routine Refrigerator Cleaning





Regular, thorough fridge cleaning can be beneficial for keeping your food fresh. If you allow any rotten food items to linger inside of your refrigerator, they’ll rapidly get to all of your other food. Always throw rotten food away immediately. Keep all of your food in top-notch condition by routinely disinfecting your refrigerator.





Berries and Vinegar Solutions





As soon as you purchase berries from the supermarket, cleanse them using a vinegar solution. After you do this, you can store them. Make your solution using 10 parts H20 and a single part vinegar. Whirl them around in the blend, drain them, clean then off and finally place them inside of the refrigerator. Thanks to the dilution, you don’t have to fret about an unpleasant vinegar flavor taking over your delicious berries. If you love strawberries and raspberries, this easy-peasy technique can be extremely useful.





Freezing Bread





It’s common for people to purchase loaves of bread only to notice much of it going to waste in the end. Bread goes stale extremely quickly, after all. If you’re tired of squandering perfectly good food, start freezing your bread. As soon as you bring home a loaf of bread, cut it in half and place the rest inside of the freezer. Once you’re ready to eat the frozen bread, thaw it. Say goodbye to hard, moldy bread for good.





Crispy Lettuce





If you enjoy nothing more than the taste of a salad full of crispy, fresh lettuce, then you can accomplish that quite easily. When you store lettuce, wrap it up inside of tinfoil. Doing this will ensure that it remains crisp and delicious for a longer time.





Mushroom Storage Etiquette





Refrain from stashing mushrooms away inside of plastic. When you do this, you confine moisture which then leads to spoiling. Instead of using plastic for mushrooms, opt for a paper bag. Put your mushrooms in a paper bag in an environment that is both dry and cool. If you put your mushrooms in a paper bag, you can also keep them in the refrigerator.





Suitable Potato Storage





Maintain the freshness of your potatoes by never storing them alongside onions. If you store potatoes and onions together, your potatoes will go bad markedly quicker. If you store potatoes alongside apples, on the other hand, you’ll stop sprouting from occurring.





Prompt Fruit Storage





Fruits such as cherries, pineapples, citrus, watermelons, raspberries, grapes and strawberries never become riper post-picking. Because of that, leaving them outside is a pointless effort. If you leave them out, they’ll simply spoil. If you want to keep these fruits fresh for as long as can be, store them inside of your refrigerator as soon as possible.





No Cheese in Plastic Wrap





Refrain from storing your cheese by wrapping it up in plastic wrap. Instead of going for plastic wrap, opt for either wax paper or cheese paper. Wax paper and cheese paper will both keep your cheese good for a longer time. After you wrap it in wax or cheese paper, insert it inside of a plastic bag.





Meat and Produce Belong Apart

As far as freshness goes, keeping meat and produce in one drawer together can be a bad idea. If you do so, that can bring upon frustrating cross-contamination. If you want to refrain from practically throwing food out the window, store your meats and produce separately all of the time.





These easy and straightforward food storage tips can be extremely beneficial for ensuring that valuable food doesn’t go to waste quickly. Start using them today.

Food and Money Preservation for the College Student

This article was written by Lee Flynn
 
Food and Money Preservation for the College Student

 
We typically associate the term “college student” with words like “poor” and “broke.” Students usually have to work part-time and go to school full-time, simultaneously juggling two different realities and still having to manage finding the amount of time needed to study for tests and having a social life. The life of a student shouldn’t be harder than necessary; finding a way to eat healthy and preserve food can drastically benefit a student’s overall health, performance and stamina during the school week!
 


Most college students deem properly storing food as a thing their parents do; however, learning how to master this art is crucially important to learning how to live independently. There are many things we can learn to live without, such as saying “no” to that new pair of shoes, limiting the amount of eating out we do each week and limiting the amount of junk food we inhale on a daily basis. When you’re a college student, however, learning to incorporate the things we should be living with is so important! Eating healthy while maintaining a budget is simpler than you might think – and a supply of food storage is essential to this practice!
 
Planning

 Forget all the images that might be running through your mind right now: food preservation doesn’t require storing giant bins of food for an end of the world scenario! Think of it more as ensuring that your limited financial resources receive the maximum amount of return for the trips you take to the grocery store. And if you’re the typical college kid and pizza is you main course on a daily basis, even that can be preserved. Each small amount of money that is wasted can easily add up – imaging how much more socializing you could do on the weekend if your money wasn’t being wasted weekly!
 

Think about the type of foods you love to eat and begin to plan on ways you can easily preserve leftovers. If you’re the type that needs assistance in planning food preservation there are a number of online sites that can help you determine factors such as budget and food preferences to create a custom storage plan for you! It will require very little time and effort!
 

Building
 

Building a supply of food can be a little intimidating at first, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Starting small is the best approach to building up your personal inventory. Begin purchasing food that you’re familiar with and would want to eat if necessary. Keep track of the typical types of foods you eat weekly and start by picking up just one or two of those items every time you go to the store. If you’re a macaroni and cheese junkie and notice a sale at the store take advantage of it and purchase a few extra boxes for your pantry!
 

Storing
 
In a temporary housing situation there is a limited amount of storage available and having roommates can complicate things even more! There’s always a solution, however! Purchase some bed raisers and begin to store your items underneath; use an extra dresser drawer for a couple items; utilize that hard-to-reach high shelf in your closet that you can never reach for extra storage. Remember that when there’s a will there’s always a way!
 
Here’s an easy way to begin the process:

  1. Week One – Begin to cut out eating out for just one day a week; set that money aside.
  2. Week Two – Use the extra money you saved last week to purchase two inexpensive items from the store to set aside in your pantry.
  3. Week Three – Begin to search for sale ads at the grocery store. If you don’t have the extra time to incorporate this habit simply glance at the store’s weekly flyer next time you shop! Purchase a few items for your pantry.
  4. Week Four – For items that can’t be preserved such as pizza, purchase a few storage containers and begin to save your leftovers. You’ll be amazed at how much money you save by simply doing this!

Favorite Posts From Are We Crazy or What?

I’ll be honest, food storage isn’t one of my strong points. Sure, I know how to put up food in Mylar with O2 absorbers, but putting up fresh food is another thing. That’s why I like sites like Are We Crazy or What? Jennifer shares a wide variety of information, but some of my favorite posts of hers are on growing and preserving food.

These are skills I think every prepper should at least understand, and Jennifer has some great ideas. Here are some of them; posted with her permission.
 

How To Sprout Seeds: Storing Seeds To Sprout Means Fresh Food Is Only Days Away!

Sprouting seeds is one of the easiest and best things you can do for your health. Seeds that sprout are also some of the best food items to store for preparedness.

 

Food Storage: Storing Herbs and Spices for Long Term Storage

Herbs and spices are an important part of food storage. Many of the food items that store well in long term storage are a bit bland in taste. Although, beans, rice, and grains might be enough to sustain life they definitely need a little something to make them taste good. Considering a lot of preppers have picky eaters in their hoard, making food taste good can allow you to turn your attention to other aspects of survival. Picky eating is not such a big problem when there are a lot of choices but in a survival situation it can become a big problem really fast. I know there are those who are of the “if they’re hungry enough, they’ll eat it,” school of thought. But there are individuals who will compromise their health before eating something they don’t perceive as tasting good. Also consider your family: do you have kids and elderly you’d like to keep well feed because they are the ones who are at high risk of disease or other hunger related issues? Making your food taste as good as you possibly can is important for health as well as morale.

 

How To Dehydrate Garlic — Plus Making Garlic Powder

Dehydrating garlic is simple and completely straight forward. All you need to do is peel the garlic, chop it and then place it in the dehydrator. Let me show you how to dehydrate garlic step by step, give you a few tips and then show you how to make garlic powder, which is also super simple.

 

Dehydrating Potatoes – Plus a Secret Revealed!

Dehydrating potatoes is fun and easy! If you let the dehydrator run all night you wake up to the smell of potatoes in the morning. My husband says it reminds him of hash-browns cooking… I still prefer waking up to the smell of bread baking but the smell of dehydrating potatoes comes in a close second. The practical side of dehydrating potatoes is that you can almost make a meal out of potatoes so to have them on hand to cook up at a moments notice is super convenient. Dehydrated potatoes also make a great addition to your food storage as they will last for years if stored properly. We usually buy the huge bag of potatoes from our local big box store, eat half and dehydrate the other half.

 

What to Do When You Have 50 Pounds of Potato Pearls That Expire This Year

Today’s article was guest written by Lee Flynn
 

What to Do When You Have 50 Pounds of Potato Pearls That Expire This Year

Knowing that you have emergency supplies on hand is reassuring. When faced with potentially long periods without adequate power or access to outside help, having a fully stocked pantry and ample water supplies, along with a power source, is calming. Whether you’re preparing for a prolonged winter power outage or economic breakdowns, emergency food storage is something you want to build up and maintain properly.

The drawback to having lots of stored food on hand is the eventual expiration date for everything. You will have to use up all that food before it goes to waste, and when you have something like 50 pounds of potato pearls sitting in a cabinet, the task can seem daunting. But over the course of a year, you can use up much of what you have and temporarily freeze the rest. Depending on the size of your family and the sizes of food servings that you eat, polishing off 50 pounds of mashed potatoes and other stored goods isn’t that difficult.

Get perspective, first. While 50 pounds seems like a lot of food, when you divide it up by serving size and number of people, it suddenly isn’t that insurmountable. 50 pounds of potato pearls, for example, equal over 1,030 half-cup servings. Assuming a family of four is eating these, that’s enough for almost 260 meals. If you and your family tend to eat a cup of mashed potatoes instead of 1/2 cup with a meal, that’s 130 meals you’re looking at. So depending on serving size, you’d have to eat mashed potatoes with dinner for about 10 to 21 days per month. 10 days a month is easy. 21 days is doable, but it could get a little boring after a while. Luckily, there are several options for you.

If you don’t already plan menus, start now, and include either mashed potatoes or something like shepherd’s pie, which has a mashed potato topping, with two or three meals each week. Mashed potato recipes can be plain or fancy, so your meals won’t lack flavoring. Also start setting aside baking time and making recipes like potato rolls and pasty or empanada dough, all of which can use mashed potatoes in place of part of the flour. In fact, research World War II rationing recipes, especially from Great Britain. Several recipes for pasties—not pastries, but pasties, which are like hand pies—use mashed potatoes in the dough. The recipes are easy to double. These can be frozen for future lunches. Potato rolls and potato bread can also be frozen, saving you some money on lunch bread and dinner rolls for the next few months.

While frozen food eventually has to be eaten, lest the quality start to go downhill because of freezer burn, the food will remain safe if you have it in temperatures close to zero Fahrenheit. So you will have to eat those rolls and pasties, but you can keep them for several months.

As you get closer to the end of the year, ramp up bread-product production and freeze. Remember that the potatoes won’t automatically expire at midnight on their last day if you have them frozen properly. Also start looking at recipes like potato candy and potato fudge. As strange as those sound, they can taste incredibly good. Online searches will reveal several recipes.

If you reach the end of the year and still have potato pearls or other food left over—a possibility if you haven’t had time to bake, or if you’re the only one trying to eat all this—separate what’s left into smaller bags and freeze the pearls. Or, schedule one or two specific days to go nuts with baking and use up the rest. You can use a similar strategy with almost any food that has an expiration date if you give yourself enough time.

 

 
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Food Boredom

Food Boredom


The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

Most of us have never experienced food boredom, at least not on the level mentioned above. Those of us in first world countries are so blessed to have just about anything to eat in close proximity. I experienced food boredom a time or two in the service, but it was always short lived. Image only having the same 2 or 3 meals available to eat for the next six months to a year. Do you think you would get bored? How about your family? I have read about some children who simply refused to eat due to food boredom.

I think there are two types of artists; one who can look at various paints and see the individual colors and another who looks at the same paints and sees a finished painting. I think the same can be said for people who cook. I think people who can look at their pantry and food storage and see meals have it much easier.

If you’re kind of person who sees the individual items, my only recommendation is to make sure you have an abundance of a variety of foods that your family actually eats. This way people won’t have to eat rice and beans, beans and rice, rice with a side of beans, you get the idea
 
Picky Eaters

I’m not nearly as picky as I was as a child, but having been a picky eater, I understand it. I have Asperger Syndrome and people with Asperger’s often suffer from sensory issues. There are some foods that either because of how they smell or taste, I just can’t handle.

If you have a picky eater at home, you need to consider that when building your food storage. Their eating habits aren’t going to change just because the stuff hits the fan. In fact, because of the stress of the situation, they’ll probably cling to them even more.
 

Treats

I made two “cruises” into the Persian Gulf on the Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier. Don’t get me wrong, we ate pretty well, but after a month or two of “boat food,” we really looked forward to pulling into the UAE and eating those small overpriced goat cheese pizza’s. My point is that having treats and comfort foods stored away can help break up the boredom.
 

Final Thoughts:

Rice and beans do make up a portion of my food storage but we won’t be eating them for every meal. We’ve also got an assortment of spices and herbs to alter the taste as well.

What other ideas do you have to help avoid food boredom?
 
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Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

Shelf Life of Comfort Foods

We’ve all got foods that can help lift our spirits or give us comfort when we’re having a bad day. So to me it just makes sense to have some of them stocked for a time when things have taken a turn for the worse. I realize that different people will find comfort in different kinds of food, so I tried to think of as many types of foods that could be considered “comfort foods” (and drinks) that have a decent shelf life.

Because manufacturers use “best by”, “sell by” and expiration dates to generate more business, grocery items do not actually go bad when they reach their expiration dates. Companies don’t cater to prepper’s who buy for long term storage. They have not put any money into figuring out how long their product can be stored. Because of this, the guidelines below are just that and should be looked at as a general rule of thumb and not something hard and fast.

How and where items are stored play a very large part in how long they will remain good. Keep in mind the enemies of food storage; air, moisture, pests, light and heat. Food should be kept at or below 70 degrees. Warmer temps will degrade food quicker. Keep food in a dry place. If you store food in an area with water pipes, I suggest keeping food in paper or cardboard in plastic totes. Keep food out of sunlight. One other enemy of food storage, which is more of a danger to comfort foods; a sweet tooth. To keep the “Not Me Ghost” out of your stock of comfort foods, you could label them as something less enticing.

Many of these products are sold in paper or cardboard materials, which are not air tight and not ideal for long term storage. You would most likely be able to extend the shelf life if you repackage them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.

Beverages

Dry Drink Mixes         Two years
These would be items such as Kool Aid, Gatorade, Lemon Aid, Tang, hot cocoa and so on.

Alcohol         Many years to indefinite
In the apocalypse, one might really need a stiff drink at the end of the day. Alcohol lasts for a very long time. If left unopened, in a cool dark place, it could have an indefinite shelf life.

Tea         Two Years
Loose tea, instant or tea bags, tea will remain fresh for roughly two years. It would be safe to drink after that, but might not taste as good.

Coffee         It really depends
I’m only going to cover unopened coffee.

Ground Coffee         3-6 months past expiration date in the pantry, 1-2 years in the freezer.
Whole Coffee Beans         6-9 months past expiration date, 2-3 years in the freezer.
Instant Coffee         I have seen from 2-20 years given in the pantry and indefinite in the freezer
Green Coffee Beans These are not yet roasted, and since the bean hasn’t been cracked the shelf life is extended. Camping Survival carries green coffee beans stored in a #10 and claims that because they are devoid of oxygen, that they have a 20 year shelf life.

Pop/soda         It depends
Regular pop/soda will last for a very long time. Diet pop/soda goes bad not long after the expiration date.

Food

Baked Goods         It Depends
Many comfort foods are baked, so here are some common baking ingredients. Many of these can attract bugs. I recommend you store them in Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. This will keep them safe from all of the food storage enemies.

Whole Wheat Flour         Varies
Flour won’t keep long unless in the fridge or freezer. Shelf life in the fridge is 6-8 months and 1-2 years in the freezer.

All-Purpose Flour         Varies
All-purpose flour can be stored for 6-8 months in the pantry, 1 year in the fridge and 1-2 years in the freezer.

Wheat Berries         Very Long
Wheat berries are ground into flour. Because the husk has not been cracked, the storage life is greatly lengthened when stored in Mylar with oxygen absorbers.

Powdered Egg         5-10+
Powdered egg is often freeze dried and, like many freeze dried foods, the shelf life is very increased.

Powdered Milk         Depends
Powdered Milk will last a week or so once opened. If left sealed in the pantry 5-10 years is possible.

Cornstarch         Indefinite

Baking Soda         Indefinite

Sugar         Indefinite

Baking Powder         6-18 months
It is suggested to use it within 6-12 months after purchase. However, it may store for 18 months in a cool dry area.

Coco         1-2 years
Opened coco will last for a year or so, unopened 2 years.

Other types of foods

Nuts         1 Month to 2 years
The oil in nuts is what causes them to go rancid. Most nuts will be good for 2-9 months after the expiration date when stored in the pantry, 1 year if stored in the fridge and 2 years in the freezer.

Candy         It really depends
There are many types candy, so there is no set answer. If it contains nuts, it obviously has a shorter lifespan. If it is a gummy type of candy, it will probably harden, but should be safe for years. Hard candy has the longest shelf life. M&M’s will last 1-1.5 years due to the candy coating.

Chocolate         Months to years
Items that contain just chocolate, like chocolate chips, Hershey’s Kisses and candy bars only containing chocolate have a varying shelf life. The lighter the chocolate, the shorter that is. I found the following on the Hershey’s Product FAQ

Q. How should I store chocolate?

A. Solid chocolate products will maintain their quality if well wrapped and stored in a cool, dry place (55-60°F). While refrigerated chocolate is certainly safe to use, we don’t recommend it. Chocolate kept in the refrigerator may “sweat” when brought to room temperature and may not melt properly. Cocoa is considered a non-perishable item which should maintain quality if stored at room temperature in a tightly sealed container.

Chocolate may turn white. This is called “blooming”. The chocolate is still perfectly edible. Here is what Hershey’s has to say in the FAQ.

Q. My chocolate sometimes turns tan or white. What causes this?

A. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, a vegetable fat that is sensitive to heat and humidity. Temperatures above 75°F will cause chocolate to melt. The cocoa butter can rise to the surface and form a discoloration called “cocoa butter bloom.” Condensation on milk or semi-sweet chocolate may cause the sugar to dissolve and rise to the surface as “sugar bloom.” Chocolate that has “bloomed” is certainly safe to use, but flavor loss and texture changes may be noticed.

Powdered Jell-O         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not taking into consideration storing long term. But I believe as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Powdered Pudding         Nearly indefinite (Maybe)
Most of the info I could find is from sites that are not considering storing long term. But I believe, as long as you’re storing the varieties that have sugar instead of artificial sweeteners, these should store for a very long time.

Honey         Indefinite
Honey can harden, but will turn to liquid when heated, and will last forever.

Various Syrups         Indefinitely
Maple Syrup and molasses can last a very, very long time and often do not require refrigeration.

Jams, Jelly         Depends
If they contain natural sugar, they will last a very long time. Just throw them if you see mold develop. If they have imitation sugars they need to be refrigerated. It’s probably not safe to consume them long after the expiration date, or if left unrefrigerated for an extended time.

Peanut Butter         Depends
Many sources I found say that because of the oil in the peanuts, peanut butter is only good for 2-3 months if opened, and 6 months past the expiration date if unopened. However, when the oils go rancid they taste bad, so if it looks ok, and tastes ok, it very well could be safe to eat. The nutritional value of it, of course, is going to degrade over time.

Nutella         Depends
The sources I have found say 3-4 weeks past the expiration. This is purely my speculating, but because Nutella also has nuts in it, it should be in the same boat as peanut butter. I, however, do not know if peanuts and hazelnuts have the same shelf life.

Dried Fruit         Depends
Dehydrated or otherwise dried fruit have a shelf life of roughly 6-12 months in the pantry, 1-2 years in the fridge and indefinitely in the freezer.

Freeze Dried Deserts         Very long time
Many freeze dried foods boast of a 20+ year shelf life. These often fall into the same time frame.

Dry Soup Mixes         Hard to Say
I have seen some sites claim 1-2 years past the expiration dates. Others say they’ll last almost indefinitely. My guess would be at least five years or so.

Pancake Mix         Depends
Pancake mix contains flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Soup Mixes         Depends
This is another area where the companies want you to eat the soup, not store it for a rainy day. The times they give are a year or two. However, the ingredients are often either dehydrated or freeze dried and they are stored in air tight containers. My guess would be that they would store for many years.

Jiffy Mixes         years
Jiffy says “For best results, we recommend using all “JIFFY” mixes by the “Best If Used by” date. Beyond this date, dependent upon local weather and storage conditions, the quality of the end product may be affected.” I would think, if kept in optimal conditions, they will store for 1-2 years. Many of them will contain flour, so go by the same timespan as flour.

Popcorn         Depends
Microwave popcorn or popcorn that has been flavored is probably as advertised. Popcorn that is just popcorn seed, like wheat, because the hull hasn’t been broken, will store indefinitely. It can be popped, or ground and used as cornmeal. Once ground into cornmeal, the shelf life is greatly decreased.

If you have an item that you would like to add, a correction or a comment, please post it in the comments section.
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The Seed of the Month Club

Seed of the Month Club

Now is the time of year to start thinking about the spring garden. Part of that process is ordering seeds. You may have noticed that one of my supporters is the Seed of the Month Club. I only accept advertisers that I think are high quality and can really benefit you, my readers. The Seed of the Month Club is among them!

Because it’s approaching the garden season, I thought I would tell you a little about the Seed of the Month Club, so you have some time to take advantage of it before you start your seeds.

I asked Mike the Gardener a few questions about the Seed of the Month Club and about gardening in general. Those questions and answers are below.
 

Chris: More and more people are taking up gardening for the first time. I can attest that there is a learning curve in gardening, so for beginners what is a good fruit or vegetable that is hard to screw up?

Mike: I always tell everyone, the first rule of thumb is to grow what you like to eat. It makes no sense in growing something that no one in your family will consume. When you grow something you are likely to eat, the chances of you taking care of it and seeing it through are far greater. With that said, there are a number of vegetables that I would consider very easy to grow, but the top of my list would be tomatoes.
You can grow just one plant and get plenty of fruit from them especially if you grow cherry or grape types.
 

Chris: How should seeds be stored?

Mike: To keep seeds for longer term storage, you want to make sure they are kept in a cool, not cold, dry location. This past gardening season I just germinated some onion seeds that were about 8 years old.

When they are stored correctly, you can get great germination rates from your seeds.
 

Chris: What is a good method to tell if you need to water?

Mike: What I would recommend to all gardeners is to keep track of the amount of water given to plants. I find that less water is better than a lot of water. You will want to keep track of the amount of rain you receive so that you know for sure your plants need water. Most vegetables can get away with just an inch or two of water per week.

However, let’s say you do not have a rain gauge, you can always refer back to the old “dirt” test. Plunge your finger into the soil about an inch or two and if the soil is dry and crumbly, chances are your plants need some water.
 

Chris: Can you list a few things that someone with limited space could grow?

Mike: This is a great question. It’s also open to a lot of possibilities as what or who defines “limited” space. Keeping in mind the answer to question number, my recommendation would be to grow prolific producers that can also be grown vertically. While you may be limited horizontally, when it comes to gardening, the sky really is the limit. I would recommend indeterminate tomatoes, again, cherry, grape as well as various other heirloom varieties, pole beans, indeterminate cucumbers such as Ashleys or Straight 8s. Peas are another good choice as well. My favorite are sugar snaps.

If someone is new to gardening I offer up 3 tips that are very useful to make sure new gardeners do not get frustrated. One, grow what you like eat. I touched on this earlier. Two, keep your garden small.
Gardening is work and the larger garden you have, the more work it can be. So if you are new to gardening, start small with just a few plants and grow each season from there. Three, keep your garden in sight.

Preferably right outside a window of your home in a room that you and your family frequent the most. I have found that people who are not constantly looking at their garden, tend to forget about it.
 

Chris: How many seeds can members expect to get per month? (A reader had this question months ago, so I asked Mike.)

Mike:
It varies based on seed variety, for example, squash seeds are larger so you can expect about 20 to 50 depending on which variety of squash … whereas tomato seeds are small so you can expect around 300 to 500 seeds in a packet.
 

Here is some info taken from the Seed of the Month FAQ.

How much is a membership?

In the United States
Six months $4.11
One Year $3.70
Two Years $3.33

International
Six months $5.11
One Year $4.60
Two Years $4.14

Your Membership Includes

• Open pollinated, heirloom varieties
• 8 packs of seeds your 1st month
• 4 packs of seeds every month thereafter
• 30 day money back guarantee
• 25% off vegetable gardening products in our online store
• Free shipping

When can I expect to receive my first mailing of seeds?

Your first shipment is sent out within 48 hours of you ordering. We ship via the United States Postal Service. The length of delivery time will be based on your location. You can expect your first shipment to arrive within 7 to 10 business days from the date you place your order.

When can I expect my monthly seeds to arrive?

Your first 8 packs of seeds are mailed right away. Then each month you will receive 4 packs of seeds by the last Friday of each month for the month in which they are due.

25% Discount

Just in case you missed it, Mike gives members a 25% discount on the Average Person Gardening Online Store. That is a 25% on vegetable, fruit and herb seeds, seed starting supplies and on soil testers. This would be a great way to save on seeds that you know you want to grow for sure this season.

 

My Take

I like that Mike only works with companies that give non-GMO, open pollenated, heirloom seeds. This way you can collect the seeds at the end of the season if you so choose.

As I stated in one of the questions to Mike, there is a learning curve to gardening. I think it is a skill every Prepper should practice, even if it’s only in a pot you place in the window. I agree with Mike, going vertical is a great way to mitigate limited space. Here is a trellis I made of PVC,. A version of this could be made for a large container.

If you haven’t ever looked at an heirloom seed catalog, you would be amazed at how many varieties of vegetables there are! I think this is a great way to get some seeds for a variety of vegetables you might not have known about previously.

I also think this would be a great way to build your own “Survival Seed Bank”. It’s cheaper than some of the commercial ones I have seen.

 
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31 Gallon Garbage Cans for Food Storage

31 Gallon Garbage Cans for Food Storage

Years ago, while building our food storage, we bought a bunch of 3-gallon, food-grade buckets from a bakery. We used 1 gallon Mylar bags for all of our LTS (Long Term Storage) and found that we could fit 3-4 1-gallon bags in each bucket. When we decided we wanted to add to our food storage, we discovered that the bakery we had previously purchased buckets from had gone out of business. I had previously tried stopping at other bakeries to get buckets and had only gotten a few over the course of a week.

I decided to try and find another solution. I came up with 31 gallon garbage cans. Below I have some factors that I considered and my thoughts on each.
 
 
Food Security

When I started prepping and researching food storage, a lot of the information I found made it seem like you had to put the food in Mylar bags and the Mylar bags in food grade buckets. The truth is that you only need food grade buckets if you’re storing your food directly in the bucket, without the Mylar bag. Unless you’re using the food stored directly in the bucket frequently, I recommend putting it in 1 gallon Mylar bags. This way you will only have a small amount of food to use at one time and the food in the other bags isn’t exposed to oxygen and the moisture in the air.

If you’re using Mylar, it is food grade, so you can put the Mylar filled bags in any container that is dry and won’t puncture the bag.

I have read many stories of mice and other rodents chewing through plastic buckets to get to the contents. This just isn’t going to be a problem with a metal can.
 
 
Cost

Home Depot has a 31 gallon steel trash can listed for $24.97. I bought mine at a local Menard’s for a similar price.

I have looked at a few different places who sell food grade buckets online and they are not all of the same quality. I have purchased from Bay Tec in the past, so I am going to use their prices, as I trust the quality and the price is somewhere in the middle. They have a six pack of 5 gallon buckets for $27.54 and a 3 pack of buckets for $14.07. lids for them are $1.99 each for a total of $50.55. You might be able to find cheaper buckets, especially if you can find a local source. I had a great one for a while; the bakery I mentioned above. They kept all used buckets and sold them. Other places I found are willing to give them away but getting to them before they throw them out was a trick!
 
 
Storage Space

All of the buckets that I have are 3-gallon. If you have 5-gallon buckets, you’ll be able to fit more food in the same footprint. As you can see in the image, eight 3-gallon, plastic buckets take up a bit more room than the garbage can. If you have 5-gallon buckets, they’ll obviously stack higher than the garbage can.

I can usually fit 4 full 1-gallon Mylar bags in a 3-gallon bucket. In the picture, I have 32 full Mylar bags in the buckets. I have 22 full Mylar bags in this garbage can. I think I could probably fit 25 in if I tried.

One idea I have is to cut a thick piece of plywood, wide enough to cover the entire opening of the garbage can. This would allow stacking items on top of the can, allowing more storage space. You could place cans side by side and do this with as many cans as you like or have room for.

For those of you with pets, we are able to fit two 38-pound bags of dog food in one can!
 
 
Final Thoughts

We use a mix of both buckets and cans. The cans work nicely and are cheaper than buckets in many cases. The only real downside to buckets is the weight. If we decided to bug out and wanted to bring the contents, we would have to partially empty the can and then carry it out to the truck and trailer.

 
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Food Stamp Cuts Starting November 1st

Food Stamp Cuts

Not long ago, I posted an article called Nine Meals From Anarchy; a Food Stamp Melt Down. In it I explained that there has been looting and small outbreaks of violence in the past when there have been problems or delays with the food stamp system. I also made the point that I think the reason violence and looting were not sparked into large scale rioting was because of “nine meals”.

I mean “nine meals” both figuratively and literally. Figuratively in the sense that, to date, the problems with the food stamp system have been corrected within a day or two at most. Literally because when people go hungry for three or four days in a row, they tend to act on it.

“If you look across the world, riots always begin typically the same way: when people cannot afford to eat food,”

That is a quote from Margarette Purvis, the president and CEO of the Food Bank for New York City, in an article from Salon.com. The article goes on to say that:

“Purvis said that the looming cut would mean about 76 million meals “that will no longer be on the plates of the poorest families” in NYC alone – a figure that outstrips the total number of meals distributed each year by the Food Bank for New York City, the largest food bank in the country. “There will be an immediate impact,” she said.”

In the last five or six years we have seen civil unrest and rioting due to the price or unavailability of food and the cutting of government entitlements in the following countries; Bolivia, Egypt, England, Greece, Guinea, Haiti, Indonesia, Italy, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Spain, Tunisia, Uzbekistan and Yemen.

You might be thinking that the people in those cultures are different that the American citizenry. I disagree! I think people are people, hunger is hunger and entitlement is entitlement.

The following video from Fox News says that the government is spending $80,000,000 to prepare for potential riots related to the cutting of food stamps. Here’s a thought; money is tight, so we have to cut food stamps, but we’re going to spend $80 million to prepare for possible riots because of this cut.


 

What Can We Do?

For starters we can remain calm and wait to see if anything does happen. Just in case, prudence might dictate that you get any grocery shopping you might need done before Friday. Keep in mind that we very well might not see any unrest on November 1st but we could see situations later in the month, when the realities of the cuts are felt.

I have covered what civil unrest might look like in What Does Civil Unrest Look Like and How Can You Stay Safe Near It? If there are riots, keep a safe distance and be prepared to defend your family. Also be on the lookout for the police response. I covered some of how the government has been gearing up for civil unrest in Government; the Good the Bad and the…What are They Planning

We can donate food to local food shelves or churches to help them meet the needs of the destitute. This is a much better option than giving the food out yourself.

Above all else, we can pray. Pray for those who are in legitimate need and will now not have food to put on the table. Pray that those who might be taking advantage of the system would change their ways. Pray for one another, that we may be blessed with wisdom and knowing God’s will as we prepare and navigate our future.

 
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