What Should I Do?

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What Should I Do?

Calendula & Marigolds

Flowers for every Garden
Monday, May 12, 2014, 12:46 PM

I’ve never been much for flowers, but I have come to see the importance of incorporating many flowers into your permaculture design, not just for aesthetics but for practical function as well. Two of my favorites are calendula and marigolds. Not to confuse things too much, but calendula is sometimes called pot marigold, but calendula belongs to the genus Asteraceae, while marigolds belong to the genus Tagetes. » Read more

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Purslane

"Weeds" as Soil Indicators

Nature's helpful healers
Wednesday, May 7, 2014, 9:19 AM

The types of “weeds” that grow seemingly spontaneously in your garden are telling you valuable information about your soil and microclimate if you care to listen. There are certain “weeds” that appear when the soil has been degraded to rehabilitate the soil back to life, or simply as a protectant cover when we leave the soil bare, and open to the elements. These unappreciated plants do all the hard work to make their home eventually no longer suitable for themselves. To add insult to injury we call these plants weeds, and pull, spray, and curse them. » Read more

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shutterstock: Tsekhmister

How to Treat an Egg Bound Chicken

Care tips to save a hen in need
Friday, May 2, 2014, 2:15 PM

I had a problem with one of my laying hens the other day. Denise noticed that she was sitting and looked lethargic, with her eyes slowly opening and closing. Normally, the hens are very active, scratching and pecking anything that moves. When I came over to look at her, she looked like she was trying to lay. Her tail feathers were going up and down like she was trying to get it out, then she would sit frequently on the ground like she would if she were trying to lay an egg. She was walking kind of gingerly, like she was in pain, and waddling a little bit like a penguin. » Read more

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Surviving a Tornado

Tips for staying safe & surviving when a tornado hits
Tuesday, April 29, 2014, 4:40 PM

Who could not be shocked and saddened by the images of massive devastation left in the wake of recent tornadoes that struck in Oklahoma and Texas? Though nothing can guarantee absolute safety in the path of a tornado outside of a shelter with reinforced concrete and steel walls, understanding something about the nature of tornadoes, safety tips for surviving a tornado strike, and which common folklore is to be trusted or ignored will improve your chances for making the right decision when confronted by a tornado. » Read more

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Shutterstock: BW Folsom

Methods for Preserving Your Own Meats

Adding meat to your food storage and deep pantry
Monday, April 28, 2014, 5:31 PM

Meat always seems to be a popular item in food storage. It packs essential nutrients like proteins, iron, zinc, Vitamins A, Vitamin B and Vitamin D. However, having a long-term supply of meat can be tricky. How do you get it to last?

There are a few options when preserving meats. Methods like salting, brining, canning, freezing and dehydrating are great options to help you keep meats available  for future meals. » Read more

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Hugelkultur Sun Traps

Garden Bed and Walkway Design

More than just straight rows
Monday, April 21, 2014, 2:36 PM

Like most gardeners, my fruit and vegetable gardens were setup in nice neat rows, just like you see on an industrial style farm. Granted I was using many different varieties of plants mixed together, nonetheless the beds and walkways were simply straight and boring. So if not nice neat farm rows, what options are there? » Read more

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Planted Herbs

Herbs for Every Herb Garden

Tips for selecting and planting your first herb garden
Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 11:19 AM

Last year I moved my herb garden right next to my front door, and just off my front walkway. This made it extremely convenient to harvest fresh herbs for cooking as I needed them. I also installed an herb spiral to allow for a wide diversity of herbs to be placed in a small area. Denise and I definitely used more herbs, just because of the convenience factor. Denise can pick herbs without having to put on any outdoor shoes. I did make one mistake when I installed my herb garden. I transplanted some St. Johns Wort very close to my front step. » Read more

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Growing Herb Spiral

How to Build an Herb Spiral: Part 2

A guide for what to plant
Thursday, April 10, 2014, 7:13 PM

An herb spiral is not meant for large scale production. It is meant to provide many different microclimates in a small space. This is beneficial because you can pack many different varieties of herbs into a small space close to your kitchen, so you can conveniently pick them as you need them. It is also garden feature that can be admired simply for its beauty. » Read more

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Completed Herb Spiral Build

How to Build an Herb Spiral: Part 1

A permiculture design technique
Monday, April 7, 2014, 6:33 PM

Herb spirals are synonymous with permaculture. Most people even vaguely familiar with permaculture have encountered the famous herb spiral. The idea is to create a structure, the spiral that will have many different types of microclimates in a small easily harvestable area that looks beautiful. Herb spirals are meant to be very close to your kitchen, so you can easily go outside and pick a few fresh herbs while you are cooking. I like the idea because it adds function, beauty, and texture to the garden. » Read more

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Shutterstock: SDubi

Preparing for Earthquakes

Strategies for prepping and coping for earthquake events
Saturday, April 5, 2014, 10:22 AM

[NOTE: This article is adapted from When Disaster Strikes: A Comprehensive Guide for Emergency Planning and Crisis Survival]

Shelly and Phil Rodgers were in their home in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains when the Loma Prieta quake struck. The epicenter was about seven miles from their home. The house shook violently and all of their cupboards opened, throwing every dish, jar, can, bookcase, television, and appliance to the floor. Phil said that the house floors undulated like a snake, appearing to change elevation by more than a foot in different parts of the house as the quake shook through. They were not able to leave the house until the earth stopped moving. Because their car keys and shoes were still inside, Phil had to brave the aftershocks and wade through broken glass to retrieve keys and shoes so they could attempt the drive to town to pick up their kids. He brought a chainsaw with him, which was needed to cut large limbs that had fallen across the road.

On their way to town, they passed the spot where a neighbor’s house should have been. It had been built on tall pylons overlooking the hillside. When the quake struck, it slid off the piers and down the canyon. The two occupants on the first floor managed to crawl out the door moments before it took off, but their son, who was sleeping on the second floor, went for the wildest ride of his life. He miraculously rode through it uninjured, as the first floor disintegrated and the roof split away and to the side. Another friend had a home that lacked proper shear wall nailing and adequate attachment to the foundation. This home slid off the foundation and was a total loss, receiving the “bulldozer remodeling job.”

What to Expect When an Earthquake Strikes

In the aftermath of a major earthquake, the public utilities usually fail, and fires tend to break out due to broken gas mains and lack of water. Most government workers are either injured themselves, or at home caring for family members. If the earthquake is a significant one, with widespread damage and casualties, in all likelihood you will be on your own for several days or more. In this case, medical attention for the wounded and rescue efforts for those trapped under debris will be the first priority, with water second, followed by shelter and food. » Read more