Category: Aquaponics

DIY Fertilizers: The Cheap & Easy Way

DIY Fertilizers - The Cheap & Easy Way

As I’ve touched on the subject of survival gardening many times before and I’ve advocated growing your own, private vegetable or even fruit garden, I’m sure that my suggestions have resonated with many of my readers. And if you share my view that your private garden will be your main source of getting fresh produce once the big markets close down, you’ll like what you’ll “see” next. Of course, serious gardening requires some knowledge, skill and preparation. You’ll need a bit of practice, as I’ve said before, to actually get the desired results. And you’ll need a bit of financial investment too. But even so, survival gardening can still be run on a tight budget, especially in the fertilizer department. The last thing you’ll need to throw your many at is professional fertilizing agents. Don’t get me wrong, these products work, they get the job done, but there are plenty alternatives you’ll find around the house that will work just as well. And most of the stuff you can use as fertilizer would normally be considered waste, and you’d be throwing it away without being aware of its life-sustaining properties.

First and foremost, you need to understand what fertilizer actually is and why it is so important. Plants, in order to grow and develop require certain amounts of nutrients. Sometimes, what the soil provides just isn’t enough. Fertilizer is added to make sure that plants won’t stagnate and that the crops will be plentiful, counteracting a possible depletion of nutrients in the soil. There are 3 major ranks of nutrients that your garden will need:

  • Rank I nutrients (that are needed in large quantities): P (phosphorus), K (potassium) and N (nitrogen)
  • Rank II nutrients (that are needed in moderate quantities): Mg (magnesium), Ca (calcium) and S (sulfur)
  • Rank III nutrients (that are needed in small quantities): Fe (iron), Mn (manganese), Mo (molybdenum), Zn (zinc) and B (Boron)

If you wish to have healthy and nutritious plants, you’ll have to assure that they get most of these beneficial elements during their development. The lack of nutrients won’t allow the plants to develop normally and may even cause their premature death. So fertilizer it’s a must! Let’s have a look at some of the best DIY fertilizers you can find around the house.

Egg shells

As the old saying goes, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. But after the omelette is done, don’t throw the egg shells away, they’ll make a great addition to you gardening plan. Egg shells contain a great amount of Ca (calcium), which is extremely important for cellular growth and development. Calcium is one of the elements in the soil that get depleted fastest while plants are growing, so adding some back into the circuit would be extremely beneficial to you garden. Grind the shells into a thin powder and sprinkle them on the ground; that should do it. The shells also contain N and phosphoric acid.

Banana peels

The banana peel is yet another object you’d be tempted to discard right away. But bananas are rich in potassium (K), and so are its peels. Adding banana peels to your garden would ensure rich and well-developed crops, as potassium (K) is a rank I ingredient, which plants can’t get enough of. Not only is it beneficial to all sorts of fruit and veggies, but ornamental plants are loving it also. Don’t throw the peel on the ground directly, rather rip it into shreds and place it in the hole before planting for optimum efficiency.

Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds are an excellent source of magnesium (Mg) potassium (K) and nitrogen (N) and would make great ”food” for the plants. But adding them to the soil will increase the overall pH, so it’s generally recommended to use them more for plants who strive in a more acid environment like tomatoes, avocados, blueberries, azaleas etc. Before scattering them on the ground, it’s best if you let them dry first. You should scatter them lightly, around the plants.

Fire ash

As long as you have ash leftovers from the fireplace or if you’ve been camping all night, you also have a good means of fertilizing your garden. Ash is rich in potassium (K) and calcium carbonate, which will do wonders for growing fruit and vegetables. The ash method works best for plants that love alkaline surroundings; so don’t use the ashes on acid loving plants. And if the ashes are the result of a fire to which charcoal or lighter fluid was added, don’t use them. The residual agents will harm the plants. So use 100% wood ashes only.

Hair

Yes, that’s correct: hair. Any sort of hair will do, be it from people, dogs cats and pretty much any other creature you can think of. Hair is naturally packed with nitrogen, so if you’ll sprinkle it across the garden, you’ll supply the growing plants with a much needed nitrogen (N) boost. Get hair wherever you can find it: scrap it off brushes and save the trimmings from cutting your hair; you can also visit your local barber shop for great amounts of hair that they would otherwise just throw away. Just offer to get it off their hands for free and they’ll most likely let you have it.

And there you have it, some of the easiest and cheapest methods of ensuring the right nutrients for you survival garden. Not only are these methods cheap and convenient, but they’re also very efficient. If it was money that was in your way of getting your hands dirty and your thumbs green, problem solved! You can now have your garden, and on a budget too.

By My Family Survival Plan

Hay Bale Gardening: How To Grow Your Own Veggies Without Fertilizer And Weed-Free

Hay Bale Gardening: How To Grow Your Own Veggies Without Fertilizer And Weed-Free

I’ve been really into gardening lately, trying to find the best techniques and methods for growing fruit or veggies with as little effort or resources as possible. One method that really caught my attention was the straw bale method, a method that is based on planting into straw bales rather than in the ground. You prepare the bales thoroughly and that’s pretty much it. It’s cheap, requires very little care as the method is not pretentious at all and another bonus is that the plants are raised above ground level, which puts them out of the reach of various critters that could take a liking in whatever it is you planted. And not only that, picking the plants will from the straw bales, will be a lot easier than picking them from the ground.  The seemed perfect, but only until I stumbled across the alternative: the HAY bale gardening method, which made the straw bale method seem less appealing all of a sudden.

Hay bale gardening vs. straw bale gardening

For those of you who have very little to do with gardening, there is a major difference between the two. Straw bales are usually comprised from cereal crops stalks (corn, wheat, oat, rye, barley etc.). It’s mostly used for bedding livestock, and apart from carbon, it has no real nutritional value. It’s not inefficient as a surface for growing plants, but it will require regular watering and fertilizers to get the job done. Hay on the other hand, it’s nothing but rich grasses that are mainly a source of rich and
nutritious food for cattle during cold periods (winter time), when the fields are empty. They are filled with nutrients and minerals like nitrogen, potassium, phosphates etc. that vegetables require to grow. It’s exactly this natural cocktail of minerals and nutrients that require no additional fertilizing methods when it comes to hay bale gardening. Hay also holds water more efficiently than straw due to its density and chemical structure. So a hay bale garden requires watering once a day, whereas a straw bale garden will require watering 3 times a day.

Getting started

The first thing you’ll need to start your very own hay bale garden is getting your hands on hay bales. If you have nobody to turn to in your vicinity that could sell or give you the hay bales, you can always go on the internet and find farmers that have hay bales for sale. Once they’re delivered to you, pick a spot to your liking (preferably in your garden) and set them as you see fit. Next you’ll need to prepare the hay bales for the planting process. What’ll you’ll need is some 42-0-0 or even better, some nitrogen. You’ll treat the bales with nitrogen for 5 days; the nitrogen will break down bacteria, fungi and insects into nutritious compost that will serve as “fuel” for your growing plants. If you’re not that keen on spending money on nitrogen or fertilizers, you can just pee on the hay bales for the 5-day period; pee is rich in nitrogen and it’ll get the job done just as efficiently. However, the daily dose of pee a person produces will not be enough for this endeavor, so I suggest you start saving your pee in bottles or containers.

The preparation of the bales will be done over a period of 10 days total before planting. In the uneven days, the bales will be treated with half-a-cup of nitrogen and sprayed with water. During the even days of the 10 day period, the bales will be watered only.

During this process, the temperature inside the hay bales will rise dramatically, most likely to 120°F – 140°F. Although is very unlikely that the bales will simply catch fire, the risk still exists. So water the bales regularly I order to avoid any unwanted incidents. When the “ordeal” is over, the temperature will subside, from how to warm. Once this happens, you can start planting your vegetables. Just add regular seeds, water the hay garden once a day and you’ll be able to pick the fruits of your labor in no time.

Accurate temperature readings using a professional thermometer

Professional tips

  1. The bales should be tightly bound if you want them to hold. Synthetic twine works great and hold the hay bales together just fine during the growing season.
  2. A single bale of hay will hold about two tomato plants, two pumpkin hill, 3 cauliflower plants or 3 broccoli plants; plants cover the same amount of space in the bales as they do in the ground.

  1. Growing tall plants (sunflower, corn etc.) is not advised, as hay bales do not offer such plants the support they need. If you won’t provide these types of plants with a stacking system, they’ll most probably fall over.
  2. You shouldn’t water the bales more than two times a day. There is no danger of drowning the plants, because the water will evaporate quickly; the hay bales will not get drenched like soil would.

This method is very interesting and it seems to give great results even for the rookies. You don’t need much to get started. Just a minimum investment and the will power to get things done. If you’re looking for a cheap and fast alternative to gardening, look no further: hay bale gardening is the way.

By My Family Survival Plan

15 Essential Crops To Have In Your Survival Garden

15 Essential Crops To Have In Your Survival Garden

In a survival scenario the key word is self-reliance. The weekly trips to the local food markets or stores will cease to become an option. And even if available, the prices will most likely sky-rocket so that it just won’t be convenient anymore. What you need to do is consider the possibility to set up your very own garden, which will sustain and provide for you and your entire family. It’s a rather complex task, but it’s nowhere near impossible. And once you’ll get the hang of it, it will become rather relaxing and enjoyable.

It’s something that can ultimately be achieved by the average Joe, with enough practice, resources and dedication. You don’t have to be a professional farmer, you’ll just have to educate yourself a little in the matter. Be aware of the sustenance and nutrients each product has to offer, calculate how much land you’ll need for the endeavor and set your budget. Your best weapon (if you decide to pick up the shovel) is information: educate yourself on season crops, micro-farming, insect repellants, seed collections and storage and on the nutritional value of various crops.

And arm yourself with patience, because this type of activity requires a lot of practice if you’re starting from scratch. But you’ll get better at it with time, and at some point you’ll be become self sufficient, even though if you originally started gardening as a hobby. When it comes to choosing the right seeds, I strongly recommend getting non-GMO or heirloom variety seeds. These seeds will continue to reproduce, unlike the hybrid varieties that stop reproducing after the first season. Let’s have a look at different types of seeds that are suited for your very own survival garden.

Corn – it’s a warm weather crop, very intolerant to low temperatures, so you should plant it only after the last frost. It usually produces two ears per stack and it’s loaded with calcium, iron and protein. It’s easy to pick and to store.

Wheat – possibly the most common crop in the world, because of its large content of nutrients like copper, iron zinc and potassium. Spring what is planted in early spring and it’s the most common variety in the world. Winter wheat can be planted anytime from late September to mid October.

Potatoes – they’re high in protein, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium. It’s best if you plant your potatoes 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost. An average plant will hold somewhere in the lines of 4 -6 potatoes per sprout. When storing them, just know to keep them in a very cool and dark place, away from fruit.

Peas – it’s one of the most (if not THE) easiest plants to grow, because most varieties are not pretentious and grow very fast. Peas are rich in fiber, protein, potassium, vitamin A, Vitamin B6 and more. The best varieties to consider are the snap, the shelling and the sugar and snow pod. They will do just fine even during a harsh winter, as they’re resistant to frost.10 Foods You Can Store For 100 Years

Spinach – considered the original super-food, it’s a great source of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid, iron and thiamin. It’s easy to grow, and most species grow best during winter. There are a few though that stray from the rule, so inform yourself before purchase.

Tomatoes – once again, we’re dealing with one of the easiest plants to plant and grow. It’s very nutritious as it’s abundant in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, thiamine and niacin. To make sure you get plenty of them throughout the year, just plant a first batch in late spring and a second one in late summer.

Beans – they come in many varieties, such as kidney beans, pole beans, bush beans etc. They are rich in fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and Calcium. Pole beans require steak firmly planted in the ground, on which the plant can grapple and grow. Their grow cycle is shorter than that of the bush beans and the yield production is better as well. It’s easy to grow and staggering the plant will give continuous yields.

Carrots – there are very easy to grow and prefer cooler weather. So the best time for planting would be during fall, winter or early spring. They’re rich in vitamin A and beta carotene, which is excellent anti-oxidant which does wanders for your eyesight, skin or hair.

Garlic and Onions – they’re a very rich source vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber and folic acid (folate). They’re best planted in mid or late October, and can be pulled early in case you’re eager to have green onions or garlic.

Cucumbers – they come in all shapes and sizes, with many varieties to choose from. You can pick whatever you like, from large to small ones (which are excellent for pickling). They are very nutritious, as they are loaded with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. They are a crop for warm weather and if you pick them regularly, you’ll get increased production.

Lettuce – not only will it be easy to plant and grow, but is also one of the earliest harvests you’ll get. It’s best if you plant it somewhere at 6 – 8 before the first frost date for optimum results. It grows quickly and you can pick it partially simply by choosing a few leaves at a time. The nutritional content differs in case of variety, but mostly all contain proteins, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, folic acid and iron.

Eggplants – it’s one of the most versatile vegetables when it comes to cooking, as it offers a lot of possibilities. It’s a warm weather plant and doesn’t do well during winter. So you should wait after the last frost is over in order to plant it. It’s high in fiber, vitamin B1, vitamin B6 and anti-oxidants.

Broccoli – it’s a plant that grows rather easily. It’s usually planted mid to late summer and by the time fall is upon us, you’ll have your first broccoli harvest. It has however, the tendency to give yields even after the first harvest. It can withstand mild frost, but won’t survive a harsher climate. A far as nutrients go, it’s most commonly packed with vitamin A, vitamin K and protein.

Cauliflower – it’s a cool season vegetable, resistant to low temperatures. It’s quite fast to grow and gives extremely rich yields. It’s very nutritious and can be very versatile when it comes to cooking. It’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fibers.

Turnips – the seeds are best sown in late may, but if you get caught in doing anything else and forget, early summer will do just fine. They’re easy to manage, as they’re very resilient to plant diseases. It’s very versatile too, as you can eat the whole plant, green and root alike. They contain calcium, vitamin B6, vitamin C and iron.

This list is a must for your very own garden, the plants that no survival enthusiast should go without during a crisis. Remember what I said before: take your time and practice, because it’s unlikely you’ll be successful right away. But once you get the hang of it, you and those close to you won’t go hungry a day in case SHTF. So get going, get your hands dirty and you’ll pick the fruit of you labor in no time… literally!

By My Family Survival Plan

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