Travel Scenery as How-To Garden Instructions

When you travel, or are just out and about, pay attention to other people’s stuff.  Sounds kind of nosy doesn’t it?  Not so.  If it’s out in plain view, then you should be looking at it.  By looking at what other people are doing, you gain precious information about what you are doing right, or wrong.  Maybe you gain an idea about how to create something similar for your own home.  Or maybe you find a new way to use something that otherwise would be tossed out.  This is especially true for a garden.  Knowledge gained for free is free prepping.

Shutter box planter box for annual vegetable garden.For example, while traveling this week, we noticed this unique garden box.  Clearly it was not a flower garden.  We had to know more about it, but since we didn’t live in the community we didn’t’ know how well received we would be if we knocked on the door.  As luck would have it, the owner of the flower box just happened to stop by our host’s home to borrow a screw driver.

AHA!  The perfect opportunity to ask about the garden box.  As it turned out, Rachael was in the process of moving and had taken the rest of her garden to her new home.  She couldn’t take the box.

Rachael and Jerry used old window shutters that were going to be discarded to form the sides of the box.  They filled it with 100 fifty pound bags of compost dirt they got from the county landfill.  The first year they planted flowers, and every year after that they planted vegetable seeds staged for various harvest times.

Rachael was careful to plant according to space and time to harvest so that some plants would be harvesting while others were still growing.  This is important because they live in zone 6a as defined by the USDA plant hardiness map.  She harvested fast growing vegetables like peas, green  beans, and radishes while the slow growing vegetables like acorn squash, eggplant, and cucumbers were taking their time.  She did all of this in the same planting box at the same time.  As each vegetable was ready to harvest, they enjoyed them fresh and canned or froze the remaining produce.

Because they enjoyed the produce so much, Rachael and Jerry took their gardening another step further.  They decided You can grow almost anything in a bucket container garden using five gallon buckets and old wooden barrels.  In those containers they have several varieties of tomatoes, peppers, yellow corn and multi-color corn,  green and yellow watermelon varieties.

In the end, their garden is successful and has brought them happiness to see their labor return their favorite foods to eat for several years and will for many years to come.  To see more images of Rachael and Jerry’s garden go to the gallery.

Plan Your Garden According to the Growing Season

Planting Zone Maps are used to determine appropriate crops for your area.One of the great things about living in a sub-tropical climate is the extra long garden season.  They say we have 360 growing days per year.  That’s true.  Sort of.

The time table for this region is great.  For other regions, it is important to start planning early by purchasing seeds to start indoors according to your growing season.  The garden season for zones two, three, and four is much shorter than zones eight, nine, and ten. provides a map with a historical average, actual weather temperatures as they occurred for the current year, and for futures months it provides the historical averages.  It goes back one year and forward one year so you can see the differences between what happened for each time period compared to the historical average.  This is important to planning when to plant your garden out doors.

If you discount the days where the temperature is too hot for anything to do well, the number of good garden days is decreased by 60 days to 300 days.  If you take out the days where there “might” be a night time freeze, then you are down another 30 days to 270 growing days per year.  Adding back in the days you can be growing plants in your home or greenhouse, it’s back up to 365 days.  This increases days for harvest and amount of food harvested.

Since weather is unpredictable, we pay attention to the historical patterns and how it is different from recent years.  There was a warmer difference of from five to fifteen degrees in January of 2013 compared to the historical average.  But, there were also some days cooler by five degrees.

Starting seeds indoors in July and early August assures your garden plants will be safe from the summer heat and ready for the fall garden.  Seed selection should include those plants that take longer than you would like until harvest.

What you plant should take into consideration how you will transplant them to your garden and when.  Read seed packages for information about how long till harvest and how well they do when transplanting.

Some garden plants do very well with transplanting and others die if the roots get disturbed.  The strong plants can be started in almost any container that allows you to remove the plant from the container easily.  Plants that have sensitive roots should be planted in biodegradable containers that are planted as is in the soil.

We consider the amount of produce needed to pack for the season and plant our garden accordingly.  Some for sale and some for canning and freezing.  By choosing different produce for the three harvest seasons, we can produce a greater variety and set aside more product for the year.

If you purchase seeds, it is important to buy your seeds in the spring when they are readily available and in good quantity.  It doesn’t matter that you won’t plant them in your garden right then.  It is important to have the seeds when the right time to start them rolls around.

By the time July and August come around, the seeds you want might be sold out locally.  There might still be some to purchase on the web.  But, most companies run out the most popular items early.  Placing orders in advance is helpful too.

Start the seeds of the longest growing time first.  Some crops take 120 days to mature.  Others take a mere 25 or 30 days.  With good planning there can be harvest nearly every day of the year in this climate zone.  Other zones require better planning to make the most of the growing days.

Seeds are a good investment.  Gardens are a great way to spend time with family and friends.  So much so that even the government recognizes the ability to increase independence and provide a nutritious diet for families.  Because of this, the USDA allows food stamp recipients to buy seeds with food stamps.  If the store does not apply the food stamps to your seeds, be sure to point out to them they are violating the law by disallowing them.  Give them this link  It is the definitive answer to the question for retailers.


Farmers and Preparedness

Many preppers are also farmers operating small farms.  Unfortunately, there are many government regulations to make it difficult or nearly impossible to produce and sell your products.  Many USDA and FDA regulations were lobbied for by big commercial agri-business companies with the plan of breaking the small farmers from entering competition.  Other regulations  which are not appropriate today were passed over 80 years ago and should be repealed.  Take a look at this video sent  in by a reader.  If you would like to share a video with our readers, send the link.


Power of the Purse and Sequestering

Obama wants sequestering to hurt.Obama intends to make U. S. Citizens as miserable as possible during the sequestering.  But will he go so far as to affect the food supply?  He understands how effective the power of the purse is when it comes to forcing people to do what you want them to do.  So does all levels of government.    That is why punishments of all kinds almost always include some form of financial punishment to be paid to the punishing entity.  As a matter of fact, the framers of the constitution knew the power of money.  They wrote the constitution carefully to be sure not one entity had enough power to control the money.

Money is the tool of the government to control the citizens.  It started rather benignly with the first government assistance programs during the depression.  Why?  Because someone looked at the government and said, “Why haven’t you done anything about this?”.  That’s the same thing people in Europe said to the church about the plague.  Both entities tried, without success, to change the prevailing condition.  The church eventually reversed some of the edicts about what to do with sick people, but the government kept pretty much all of the “new programs” created during the depression.

Once a program was created, the next members of congress and presidents were loath to remove them because they didn’t want to anger the people who were depending on those programs, even if the current situation no longer warranted the program’s existence.  Then came the day when the government invented the department of education in order to control schools in every state.  It started out with grants to states’ school districts.  After a while the government started attaching strings to the grants.  Once the states were dependent on the money for the annual budget, the hook was set and now the government can tell states what will be done in their public schools.  And so it went also with the highway department and human assistance programs, just to start.

Which brings us to the food supply.  Meat processing plants all have USDA inspectors present to assure the products are safe for human consumption.  Well, sort of, but that is another story.  If the inspectors are not present, no meat can be processed.  This isn’t a big deal to the prepper who is ready for just such an event.  However, if you are not ready and the USDA does decide to pull inspectors for a week or two, things will be different in the store.  It is our belief that the inspectors won’t be pulled and that the USDA will cut in other areas as necessary.

Disrupting the food supply, if only for a couple of weeks, would be a big deal and a no win situation for Obama and his cabinet.  Congress does not determine where the budget cuts are made during a sequester.  The president does.  Rest assured, the president will attempt to say that the cuts are the fault of the Republicans.  Don’t believe it.  The fault will be with whomever decides what to cut within each agency and at whose instruction.


Consider these comments about the sequester and decisions being made:

 It’s the public’s trust that’s been broken “and since almost all food safety at retail is faith-based, the faith has been violated.” – USA Today


. . .  in regards to the government’s plans for sequestration and the meat industry. If you aren’t aware of what’s going on, you should be. After all, it could affect all of us. And to us in the industry, it’s a scary thing. – Jennifer Dewey

It is clear that department leaders are concerned about their particular branch of the government.  So are the people who raise, process and sell meat products.  As a society we can go without meat for a couple of weeks.  But, should the citizens be forced to do it because the people on capitol hill can’t play nice?


The Power of the Purse: A History of American Public Finance, 1776-1790 by Ferguson, E. James published by The University of North Carolina Press Paperback, 1961 – 2011.

“Fear and the Three-Day Food Supply.” Pattern Literacy by Toby Hemenway. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

“Meat Supply In Danger…?” Chico Locker Sausage Co Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

“U.S. Officials: No Horse Meat in Our Beef.” USA Today. Gannett, n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.

“Obama’s Stealth Takeover of Your Burrito or Food Stamps Obama’s Nationalizing the U.S. Food Industry and You Didn’t See It Coming.” Before It’s News. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Mar. 2013.