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Wet Winter Veggie Sowing

Wet Winter Veggie Sowing

In the early days on the farm, I adopted a calendar based sowing schedule based on the idea that cool season crops should be sowed in March and warm season ones in September. The passing years have demonstrated that approach is overly mechanical given the variability of seasons from year to year. Spring sowing in particular was extremely unpredictable. Some years the winter would be mild and wet, allowing very early sowing of crops that demand warmth. Other years a drought would stretch from winter to late spring, delaying direct sowing in the absence of irrigation (though I found warm season crops kept producing to the end of autumn, so the late start wasn’t a big deal).

This year we had a strange, persistently rainy end of summer and start of autumn. The highlight was a spell of heavy downpours followed by blue skies, a cycle that repeated every few hours for several days. The ground turned to mud from February until late April, which made sowing cool season crops challenging. Previously I would have waded into the muck to try my luck getting things started, but this year I chilled out and focused on other priorities.

When I did start preparing beds I looked at the available spaces and decided to put my veggie garden where my weedy maize patch experiment had taken place. The pumpkins were still bumbling along, but I gave up the last few fruit to get my winter veg going in time. The space had a heavy weed seed bank in the soil after years of neglect, but the cycle of germination and slashing back during the maize crop had started depleting them to manageable levels…

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More vegetables, less meat for all our sakes

More vegetables, less meat for all our sakes

Spanish market: Vegetable-rich diets make for a healthier planet. Image: By ja ma on Unsplash

Researchers are clear: the healthy diet for a healthy planet is more vegetables, less meat. What matters is the food that’s served, and the way it’s produced too.

LONDON, 17 January, 2019 − An international panel of health scientists and climate researchers has prescribed a new diet for the planet: more vegetables, less meat, fresh fruit, wholegrains and pulses, give up sugar, waste less and keep counting the calories.

And if 200 nations accept the diagnosis and follow doctor’s orders, tomorrow’s farmers may be able to feed 10 billion people comfortably by 2050, help contain climate change, and prevent 11 million premature deaths per year.

A commission sponsored by one of the oldest and most distinguished medical journals in the world today provides what it calls the first scientific targets for a healthy diet, from a sustainable food production system, that operates within what its authors term “planetary boundaries.”

The commission is the result of three years’ consultation by 37 experts from 16 countries, among them experts in health, nutrition, environmental sustainability, economics and political governance.

Goal within reach

It addresses the twin problems of global food supply: altogether 3 billion people are either under-nourished, or approaching clinical obesity because they are too well-nourished.

And global food production in its present form is helping to drive global warming and climate change, trigger accelerating biodiversity loss, pollute the rivers, lakes and coasts with ever greater levels of nitrogen and phosphorus run-off, and make unsustainable use of both land and fresh water.

“The food we eat and how we produce it determines the health of people and the planet, and we are currently getting this seriously wrong,” said Tim Lang, a food scientist at the City University of London, and one of the authors.

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How to build a self-sufficient garden on as little as a quarter of an acre

Image: How to build a self-sufficient garden on as little as a quarter of an acre
(Natural News) Modern conveniences like countless grocery stores and food delivery services make it seem like the average American family has no use for home gardening. But when SHTF, you could starve if you don’t have access to fresh produce growing in your own garden. (h/t to SHTFPlan.com)

Starting a home garden is one of the first steps that you can take to become self-sufficient. Like other aspects of prepping and survival, home gardening requires dedication and hard work yet it is also incredibly rewarding.

With some planning and the use of certain techniques and principles, your home garden can provide vegetables for the whole family. You won’t even need that much land since you can make do with as little as a quarter of an acre. This means even preppers who live in the suburbs can try their hand at home gardening.

Home gardening basics

Before you start sowing seeds, you must figure out how much food you need and can grow. These two things will depend on various factors, like the climate, garden space, the size of your family, and how much food everyone requires. (Related: A simple 5-step guide to starting your own vegetable garden.)

Back in the 1970s, research by John Jeavons and the Ecology Action Organization determined that 4,000 square feet (or 370 square meters) of growing space, with another 4000 square feet for access paths and storage, is enough land area to provide for an individual on a vegetarian diet for one year. This land is enough to cultivate a garden plot that’s about 80 feet x 100 feet (24 meters x 30 meters).

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How to Get More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Prepper Stockpile

How to Get More Fruits and Vegetables in Your Prepper Stockpile

Most people who are working hard to eat well consume a lot of fruits and vegetables. One of the biggest issues folks are noticing with the Stockpile Challenge is getting enough produce in their diets.

It can be a major challenge when living from your stockpiled foods to get enough fruits and vegetables.  This is dangerous because, without produce, your family can be at risk for nutritional deficiency diseases like scurvy and their immune systems will be compromised.  A minimum of 5 servings per day is recommended, but during the long winter, how can you meet that goal with the contents of your pantry?

As well, many people these days generally eat a low-carb diet that is reliant on protein and produce. (You can get more info about stockpiling for a low-carb diet here.)

Supplying your family with produce that will provide the necessary nutrients that their bodies need to thrive is a twofold process.  Not only should you preserve the summer’s bounty for the winter ahead, but you should also come up with ways to add fresh greens outside of the growing season.

Building a Stockpile of Fruits and Vegetables

When creating your produce stockpile, you have to look at what actually constitutes a “serving” for the people you will be feeding.  It may not actually be the amount that you expect. For example, a child’s serving of green beans is anywhere from a quarter cup to a half a cup (depending on their age), but an adult’s serving is a full cup.  So for a child, plan on 1-3 cups of produce per day and for an adult, plan on 5 cups of produce per day.

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Perennial Vegetables and the Other Reasons You Should Consider Them For Your Garden

Turkish Rocket (Courtesy of Eric Toensmeier)


However, what I’ve noticed in my experience with introducing other people to the practice and perennials is that the change isn’t always so welcomed. At the last farm I was on, building a demonstration garden, the owner was only very interested in prototypical annuals despite a wealth of the perennial possibilities we were planting. Working with NGOs, I’ve realized that, while people are excited about growing more food, the idea of introducing something new to their diets isn’t nearly as inspired. Instead, the expectation seems to be that we will be growing the same old corn and bean staples, making the need for nutritional and culinary education an equally important aspect for a permaculture project to succeed.


In theory, planting perennials would be something that people would latch onto. They are less work. They require less resources. They are better for the stability of the soil, helping to prevent erosion while maintaining a network of soil life beneath the surface. They extend harvests, often producing crops earlier and later than annuals can do. They make great, productive, living fences, trellises, shade and animal habitats.

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Why the fight for GMO labeling is (possibly) over

Why the fight for GMO labeling is (possibly) over

Ever since it became clear that Vermont’s law for mandatory labeling of foods containing genetically engineered ingredients would actually go into force this summer, the big question has been how many food companies would choose to label their products and how many would choose simply not to sell in Vermont.

There is a third choice which purveyor of canned fruits and vegetables, Del Monte Foods, announced recently. The company will eliminate all genetically engineered ingredients from its foods, obviating the need for special labeling. This won’t be too difficult since there are very few genetically engineered fruits and vegetables.

While the Vermont law is huge victory for the proponents of labels, the U.S. Congress could still pre-empt state labeling laws, something it failed to do earlier this year. But as more and more of the public demands to know which products have so-called genetically modified organisms or GMOs in them and as the number of products on grocery shelves with non-GMO verified labels increases, growers and processors may have no choice but to acquiesce. They may be forced by circumstances either to label their products (or automatically be suspected of trying to hide something for not doing so) or to eliminate GMO crops and ingredients for fear of losing customers regardless of what happens in Congress or in other states.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of The Black Swan and other books on risk, explains why this is so in a draft chapter of an upcoming book called Skin in the Game. His investigation begins with why nearly every packaged drink in the United States is labeled certified kosher.


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How to Harvest Your Own Seeds From Fruit and Vegetables for Propagation into Nursery

How to Harvest Your Own Seeds From Fruit and Vegetables for Propagation into Nursery

Harvesting your own seeds from fruit and vegetables for propagation into a nursery significantly reduces your costs by over 50 percent. In order to reap the maximum benefit, you must give your plants the help they need to produce healthy seeds. Harvesting and storage techniques require particular attention because they impact seed quality. To achieve the best results, one must harvest at the right time, clean with the proper techniques, and dry and store in optimum conditions. Prior to harvesting, keep in mind the following recommendations.


If you are planning to harvest your own seeds, then you should avoid purchasing hybrids, which are artificial and usually designed for only one planting season. Instead, purchase heirloom and/or open-pollinated varieties, which are natural and produce crops that yield continuously reproducing seeds. After planting, clearly mark each type with a nametag so you can monitor how different varieties perform.


Most seeds will germinate and grow to become plants. Some plants will contract disease. During harvesting, do not collect seeds from disease-infected plants; whatever ailment infected a plant will be transmitted to all future ones.


Select seeds from the healthiest plants. Characteristics such as total fruit yields, size, disease resistance and early fruit-bearing/maturity are reliable indicators of good health. Identify robust plants with a special wooden tag, ribbon or loosely tied string.


It is advisable to allow seeds to fully ripen before harvesting. Allowing them adequate time to mature enables them to store sufficient nutrients for germination and healthy growth. This will help to ensure that they achieve the best germination yield for the following season.


Dry your seeds before storing. A moisture content of about eight percent is recommended; however, a range of 5-13 percent is also good. You will need to use your best judgment to assess moisture since scientific methods are expensive.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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