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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gitmo Detainees Released in U.S??

This is too much for words. The intelligence chief, Dennis Blair, commented on 26 Mar 2009 that some of the detainees at Gitmo might actually be released in the U.S. since no other country will take them, and they would be released with some form of governmental aid to start their new life. Can't make this stuff up, folks. Read for yourself here:

AFP: Terror inmates may be released in the U.S.

The Weekly Standard: Welfare for freed Gitmo detainees?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Tracking Food Bills in Congress

It is hard to keep up with the ever-changing numbers and volumes of bills that are introduced in this administration - here are some resources that you might find useful in keeping track of food regulating bills that are in various stages of committees.

H.R. 875 - this is the bill we've heard the most about and that has gotten so many people up in arms about the broad definitions that could be construed to include backyard gardens.

It appears that H.R. 875 will probably be side-tracked and run out of steam because there is more interest in H.R. 759, which would seek to overhaul the entire Food and Drug Administration and needs very close watching to see how they handle small and home-based businesses, farms and ranches.

There is also an H.R. 814, S.510 and S.425 - all relating to food regulation, mandatory food and animal tracking systems, etc.

Just know that you'll have to stay on your toes and keep up with what's going on and moving in and out of committee if these food bills are important to you - and believe me, they should be important to you.

Here are some additional resources that might help:

Food & Water Watch

Cornucopia Institute

Local Harvest

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

Sustainable Food

As always - know that you cannot believe everything you see, hear or read - remember most of these websites are opinions with a particular cause or slant or bias - use them as part of a broad spectrum to educate yourself and as with most things, use your intelligence to decide for yourself what sounds logical and please - read the bills yourself so you know what they say!

Severe Weather Helpful Hints

In my part of West Tennessee, we are entering our spring-time severe weather season. I've gone through our safe room to make sure all of our items are on-hand for those times when we'll have to make the dash into our safe room due to severe weather alerts:

Backup water
Battery operated weather radio
2 way radio
Small hatchet
72-hour kits nearby
Blankets and pillows nearby

One thing I always have on hand when we all head to our storm-safe room is an "Emergency Identification Card". At the beginning of each storm season (spring and fall), I take a few minutes to jot down our personal info on an index card that I then put in a ziplock bag. I include the following information on the card:

Name of each family member
Brief description (sex, height, weight, hair color, eye color and age)
Our home address and phone number
Emergency Contact Information

Whenever we head to our safe room I make sure I have this card in my pocket. Heaven forbid something terrible should happen, at least there would be a way for rescuers to hopefully help identify us.

You can also consider having "dog tags" printed up for each family member. We have these as well and have them hanging on the key rack just outside our downstairs bathroom, which serves as our safe room. Each person could put on their "dog tag" before heading in to the safe room.

We purchased ours here: 1800NameTapes

These are also handy for keeping id information in your child's backpack, sports bags, etc.

We also make sure that whenever we go to bed, everyone has a flashlight on their nightstand and sturdy shoes at the ready beside their bed. If we have to rush to our safe room during the middle of the night, everyone knows to grab their pillow, flashlight and shoes and head for safety whenever we give the alert.

On days or evenings when we have several hours of advance notice of severe weather possibilities, I take the time to go ahead and prep our safe room with some "extras" just in case we need them. I'll go ahead and put in a pair of socks and shoes for each person, make sure a cell phone and charger is there, make sure blankets and pillows are already in place, a "security" item or toy for each child, etc. It really doesn't take that much extra time to put these things in place or to put them away if we end up not needing them.

You should really practice sometime waking your children from a sound sleep to head to your safe room to see how long it takes. Believe it or not, there are lots of stories out there of children (and adults!) sleeping so soundly that they never even hear a smoke alarm go off, even when it is in the hallway just outside their rooms! It would pay to try this sometime to see how smoothly it would go for your family should an actual emergency actually occur.

Stay safe this spring season and make sure you are prepared!

Newsworthy Notes

If you've been watching the news the past few days, here are a few examples of why it pays to be prepared:

Officials are considering evacuating the ENTIRE TOWN of Fargo, ND due to flooding and an expected crest of over 41 feet, which hasn't been recorded since 1897. And if residents there are expecting help in their evacuations, here's what the officials are saying, from Fox News:

"Police Chief Keith Ternes urged people with disabilities to consider leaving the city, saying: "If they expect us to get to them and get them out, they should give serious consideration."

Another reason why we say that you have to be ready to "self-rescue".

On a note closer to home:

Dozens of homes and businesses destroyed by tornado in Mississippi

Those of us in West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas and North Mississippi know that we are entering our spring severe weather season. We've had very warm temperatures this week, with heavy storms in the evenings and more is projected for the remainder of the week. Take some time to make sure you have your storm safe room ready!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tire Garden Update - Day 13

We've worked more on our tire garden since I last updated about our initial efforts to get it all in place. We've added additional tires, planted additional veggies and I've had to make some temporary "walls" to keep my Great Pyrenees from digging up the single-height tires.

If you missed the introductions, you can read how we got everything started here: Tire Gardening-Day One and Tire Gardening-Day Two.

We basically have 5 total rows of tires at this point. To refresh:

Along one side of our fence, about a foot out from the fence, we have a row of 6 single-height tires that are currently planted with snow peas and sweet peas. Behind this row we will be putting up a chicken-wire fence so the peas (and later the green beans and cucumbers) can climb. All of the peas were planted on 08 Mar 2009.
The next row out from this is a row of 6 double-height tires that have potatoes planted in them. These were planted on 12 Mar 2009.

There is about a 3 foot aisle, then another row of 6 double-height tires. Currently 3 of these are planted: one with radishes, one with beets and one with carrots. The radishes are going gangbusters and the green tops are already over an inch tall. The carrots and beets are just starting to peek out. All of these items were planted on 08 Mar 2009. Photo below is of the radishes that were planted 08 Mar 2009.
When the radishes, carrots and beets are all exhausted sometime around Memorial Day, this is the row where some of our tomatoes and sweet peppers will go in.

To the side of these three rows, we have a oval row of single-height tires for all of our assorted greens. Six tires were planted on 08 Mar 2009 - 2 of mesclun blend, 2 of spinach, 1 of bibb lettuce and 1 of romaine lettuce. They are all growing well, with the mesclun leading the way.

This week on 18 Mar 2009 we put in another 6 tires of the same blends so the planting is staggered and when our first row runs out, we'll have another row ready right behind them. We'll continue this staggered planting back and forth until it is too warm for these greens, and we'll then put in mustard greens, swiss chard and the like.

For this oval row, we laid weed mat and left about a 2-foot space in the center of the oval. We filled this with dirt as well and divided it into 3 sections. In one section we planted more radishes, another section of beets and a section of green onions. These were all planted on 18 Mar 2009 In this photo you can see my "wall of tires" meant to keep my curious dogs out! In this photo, the greens planted on 08 Mar 2009 are on the left; the radishes, onions and beets are in the center; and the greens planted on 18 Mar 2009 are on the right. The straw is just to keep the tiny seeds from getting disturbed during watering or rain until they get a good start.

We have another section of ground on the other side of our yard from last year's square foot garden and this is where our hot peppers will go sometime after our last freeze date (approximately 15 April 2009).

In addition, we are also going to do our hanging tomatoes this year - we have an old swingset frame that we're going to use to hang our buckets on. Click the link to watch a YouTube video and find out more about hanging tomatoes - it is a very unique idea that would work for a lot of you gardeners out there! Hanging Tomatoes.

On another great gardening note, our church this year is letting me lead a Community Garden, which is very exciting. We have about a 50 foot x 50 foot space that was set aside this week. I'm working this weekend to sketch out individual food plots as well as a church plot and putting together my plan for ordering seeds. The thought is to let families that want to learn how to garden or who don't have room for a garden where they live to have a 8 ft x 8 ft or 10 ft x 10 ft space that they can cultivate - in turn everyone will also cultivate a larger church plot in the same area. Families will keep the harvest from their own food plots and the church plot harvest will go to those in need at our church or will be distributed as the church decides. This is an exciting project that I'm eager to get started.

How are your gardening plans shaping up this year???

545 of 300 Million

Here is an excellent article that I encourage everyone to read. The author does a great job of putting into words what a lot of people I talk to every day are feeling and thinking about the state of our society and economy at this time:

545 People - by Charley Reese

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Action Updates

A quick post about some updated news is needed today:

~ The uproar about the possibility of forcing Veterans to pay for their own medical treatments apparently did not fall on deaf ears and it has been reported that the President has now decided not to pursue such a plan:

Controversial Health Care Plan for Veterans Dropped

~ The directive to destroy once-fired military brass for scrap instead of selling it for possible reloading benefit has also been reversed

Reversal of Decision to Destroy Military Brass

Good news on both fronts - so don't ever get discouraged that your voice is not heard. Yes, sometimes it is a difficult road, but you have to remain diligent and keep going forward on those things that you feel passionately about.

So, in that light, let's don't forget about those issues still at hand as referenced in my post here: News You Need - HR 875 and its threat to the family garden; HR 645 and HR 45 are just a few - others will be coming I'm sure and we'll do our best to keep you updated here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

G.I.V.E. Set to Pass

Latest news is that the House of Representatives is set to pass the G.I.V.E. legislation - read more here:

Fox News: House Readies Passage of Volunteerism Bill Critics Call Pricey, Forced Service

There is growing concern about a portion of the bill that tasks a commission to "exploring a number of topics, including "whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation."

No estimate has been given yet regarding how much this legislation will cost the taxpayers, as service members are often given college scholarships or stipends when they finish their term of service.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

News You Need

Is it just me, or does it seem like several times a day now there are decisions being made by our "powers that be"that I just plain don't agree with???? Um, excuse me, but what has happened to the voice of the people??? I'm writing my representatives. I'm calling my representatives. Most of the time on the phone I get a brushed-off response by whomever answers leaving me with the feeling that they would really just rather not be bothered by my RIGHT to express my concern or viewpoint with my ELECTED official.

I don't know about you, but I do know that more and more people I talk to are getting increasingly irritated that their voice is not being heard. Whole groups of people are getting more frustrated by the day. I for one believe that this does not bode well for those elected officials and they should be concerned, for it is their job to LISTEN to the VOICE OF THE PEOPLE.

Here are some noteworthy news topics that deserve your attention, your action, and your voice. Let's get busy, shall we??

Obama Secretly Ends Program That Let Pilots Carry Guns
12,000 Federal Flight Deck Officers that have had no instances of improperly brandishing a weapon, but we're going to take away their rights - oh yes, this makes lots of sense.

American Legion Strongly Opposes President's Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment
Now let's start messing around with our Veterans. Let's send them off to serve for our country in ways that most Americans aren't even willing to do and then when they get hurt serving for our ever decreasing "freedoms", we're not going to bother to pick up the tab? This is morally wrong in so many ways.

Gun Advocates Ready for Battle on Federal Assault Weapons Ban - Seems our Attorney General, Eric Holder, has decided that it is the evil, black guns that our US Citizens own that are causing all the problems with in Mexico with the drug cartels. So he want's to take them all away from the US Citizens. I guess that is so we'll be so very prepared to defend ourselves when all the problems on our southern border start to spill over into the US. Let's see, so all of the citizens who legally own an "assault" weapon are the cause for the problems in Mexico. Not, of course, the gangs or criminals on the streets who deal in drug and weapons trades on a daily basis. Oh no, not them, it must be Mr. or Mrs. Average Citizen.

And if you aren't used to reading the text of bills that are before the House or Senate, you better get your reading glasses on and your dictionary at the ready, because let me tell you there are some freedom-threatening bills out there. Try these for instance - and don't just take my word for it, please by all means do some thinking for yourself and give these a read on your own:

H.R.1388: Obama's Civilian National Security Force (GIVE Act). Here's the HR 1388 Summary and here's the HR1388 Full Text. Let's see - in the SUMMARY, about half-way down - how does this sound: "Directs the Corporation to plan pilot programs to: (1) better target and serve displaced workers; and (2) establish a centralized electronic citizenship verification system (emphasis added) which would allow the Corporation to share employment eligibility information with the Department of Education.

H.R. 875: The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. Yeah, right. Catch this definition: "(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term ‘food production facility’ means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation." Wow, that is a pretty broad definition. Glad to know that my ranch, that doesn't even produce food for people other than our family, would be considered a "Food Production Facility" subject to these regulations, just because we are a ranch.

H.R. 645: National Emergency Centers Establishment Act. To direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish national emergency centers on military installations. Now, this one is a can of worms indeed. Let's look at one particular part:

"(b) Purpose of National Emergency Centers- The purpose of a national emergency center shall be to use existing infrastructure--

(1) to provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster;

(2) to provide centralized locations for the purposes of training and ensuring the coordination of Federal, State, and local first responders;

(3) to provide centralized locations to improve the coordination of preparedness, response, and recovery efforts of government, private, and not-for-profit entities and faith-based organizations; and

(4) to meet other appropriate needs, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security."

Well, #1-3 sound innocent enough. I don't know about you, but I don't ever like to see such broad, open-ended definitions as is stated here for #4. This basically could have these installations used for anything the government so desires as long as they consider it appropriate. Once again, I'm not so sure that our government is such a good judge of the definition of appropriate, are you?

H.R. 45: Blair Holt's Firearm Licensing and Record of Sale Act of 2009. Summarized as "Amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act to prohibit a person from possessing a firearm unless that person has been issued a firearm license under this Act or a state system certified under this Act and such license has not been invalidated or revoked. Prescribes license application, issuance, and renewal requirements." Ugh. Do we really have to go here again ever time we get a Democratic party in office??? 2nd Amendment - don't forget it.

Okay, you get the idea. Not a day goes by that we can be lax in our vigilance in making our voices heard to ensure our CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS are not infringed by this administration or any other, Republican or Democrat.

Brass Back In Action

According to this report at JFPO, the DOD order to have once-fired brass destroyed has been reversed! Thanks to all of you who made your voices heard on this one.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Reloading Brass-Call To ACTION!

Here's another issue that requires our prompt and constant pressure on our elected representatives to get this directive reversed!

The Defense Logistics Agency has issued a directive that all once-fired military brass now has to be DESTROYED (demilitarized) instead of sold. Once-fired military brass is commonly sold for the reloading market and sells at prices around $2.00 per pound. In its destroyed state, the brass is worth 35 cents or less per pound.

There is already a shortage of ammunition being noticed across the United States and those who reload ammunition have also noticed a shortage in virtually all reloading supplies. This directive will serve to essential shut-down reloading in this country as we know it.

So here we are, in a time of economic downturn, and our government has decided that it won't sell (recycle) a valuable resource, which will in turn cause the cost of ammunition to rise even further. The directive orders that even for current contracts for once-fired brass that have not yet been delivered the brass is to be destroyed prior to delivery.

This is nothing short of a back-door attempt by our current administration to curtail 2nd amendment rights and we should not stand for it.

Please contact your Senators and Representatives TODAY and keep the pressure on to have this directive reversed; I also sent a letter to Senator Baucus, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

Write your Representatives here: Contact Elected Officials

Here is additional information, as well as a copy of the letter I sent. You are free to use and/or alter the letter that I sent as you desire.

Additional information: Government Destroys Once-Fired Brass, AR-15 Forum Information

Here's the letter I sent today:~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Senator / Representative XXXXX:

I am truly shocked to hear about the latest Defense Logistics Agency requirement that all once-fired military brass now be DESTROYED (demilitarized) instead of made available for sale for reloading purposes.

This is nothing more than a back-door attempt by this current administration at restricting my 2nd amendment rights to keep and bear arms and it is appalling.

Not to mention the impact this will have on the availability of firearms classes being taught throughout the United States due to the already well-known ammunition shortages.

With the current ammunition shortage, that once-fired brass easily sells for over $2.00 per pound, but the destroyed brass is practically worthless at only about 35 cents per pound.

What happened to our government's concern for how our tax-payer dollars are spent during this economic downturn; not to mention positive aspect of recycling a re-usable product???

I urge you, as I am urging other Senators and Representatives, to act quickly to implement a reversal of this DLA directive immediately.

Please see the copy of the message below that demonstrates the current DLA requirement that is in place:

-----Original Message-----


Sent: Thursday, March 12, 2009 5:34 PM
Subject: Important Notice to Scrap Metal Buyers!


Dear Valued Customer:

Please take a moment to note important changes set forth by the Defense Logistics Agency:

Recently it has been determined that fired munitions of all calibers, shapes and sizes have been designated to be Demil code B. As a result and in conjunction with DLA's current Demil code B policy, this notice will serve as official notification which requires Scrap Venture (SV) to implement mutilation as a condition of sale for all sales of fired munitions effective immediately. This notice also requires SV to immediately cease delivery of any fired munitions that have been recently sold or on active term contracts, unless the material has been mutilated prior to sale or SV personnel can attest to the mutilation after delivery. A certificate of destruction is required in either case.

Thank you,

DOD Surplus
15051 N Kierland Blvd # 300
Scottsdale, AZ 85254


I appreciate your urgent consideration and action on this issue at hand.

Okay folks, time to get busy calling, writing and faxing!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Home Canning Basics

We've been home canning on an annual basis for well over ten years now - I usually put up about a dozen cases of jars each summer. I remember learning how to can with my grandmother when I was a little girl.

If you are working hard this year on your first garden, you have probably at some point thought about ways to preserve your delicious fruits and veggies so you can enjoy them all year long.

Don't worry, home canning is really not very difficult and it is very rewarding to open that delicious jar of peach preserves or corn relish during the winter months to savor a taste of the summer garden again.

To get started, I recommend that you get a copy of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving - I have several different editions - and have never had a recipe fail.

The book goes through the basics of home canning equipment and terminology, discusses high and low acid food preserving, freezing and dehydrating. If you can only purchase one book to learn how to can, this is the one I'd recommend.

Most of the equipment you need for home canning can be picked up at fairly reasonable prices, but don't wait until the last minute or you might not get everything you need.

The search for canning jars is to a home canner what searching for fabric is to a quilter! I search garage sales, thrift stores, Freecycle and Craigslist for canning jars. They are getting difficult to find at these places in my area though.

When I have to buy new jars, I first check Big Lots or Fred's, as they have the best prices I've found in my area on new jars. I leave the big box stores and grocery stores for last, as they tend to be the most expensive places to purchase jars.

If you want a hands-on class in home canning, check with your local extension office to see if they offer one.

Whatever you do, don't let the fear of the unknown keep you from trying your hand a preserving your harvest - you'll be glad you took the step!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spared Ice

So far we've been very lucky and were spared the ice and 1-2 inches of snow that we were supposed to get last night and today. The temperature has stayed around 34-36 degrees and we've just been getting a misty, dripping rain all day. We might have some freezing overnight if the temps drop below 32.

The stew I made last night is certainly tasty! We had some for lunch today. Some will go into the freezer for another night. The cinnamon rolls were also delicious - we still had our power on this morning so the cinnamon rolls were a great treat. Laundry is done for the weekend - so the little bit of extra prepping that was done for the potential ice was in no way wasted!

Now just waiting for it to warm up enough again to work more on our tire garden. This weekend I'll be getting more starts going in the house for sweet peppers. Can't wait!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Prepping For The Ice

How did I spend my day today know that we had a Winter Storm Watch posted for our area?

Well, we always have a well-stocked pantry so there was no rushing to the store for last-minute items. I had earlier in the week planned a trip to the store today to pick up some items that are non-essential, but ones that I've had on my list for a while - things like chips, salsa, lemons, apples, banana, juice, dog food - nothing we had to have, but a few items we wanted. So I went ahead with my scheduled run, but could have just as easily waited for another day.

Yesterday I happen to have made 4 loaves of wheat bread from home-ground wheat; I was trying a new recipe which turned out great, so we're good for bread.

I did put on a big pot of stew, which will be easy to re-heat over a propane stove if we lose our power tomorrow. We have plenty of pantry and freezer items to turn to of the power happens to be out for any extended period of time.

I also made a batch of cinnamon roll dough, just because it will be a nice treat for breakfast if we don't lose power. If we do lose power, I'll just pop them into the freezer for another day.

My oldest daughter made a cranberry-apple crisp that we had for dessert tonight, and there was enough left over that it can be our breakfast tomorrow morning instead of the cinnamon rolls if the power does go out.

The kerosene heater is close by and fuel is at the ready. Plenty of firewood has been moved from the wood pile to the barrels on the back porch. Our Mr. Buddy heater was moved from storage into the house just in case we need it and we have 4 spare propane cylinders here in the house as well - more in storage. We have oil lamps and plenty of oil if we need lighting. The flashlights are in their proper places and batteries are full.

Since we just finished having several days of 70+ degree temperatures, we had uncovered our water faucets outside, so I did make sure the hoses were drained and the faucet covers were back in place.

Cell phones, emergency radios, etc. are fully charged; vehicles are full of gasoline. I usually do my laundry a little each day as we go through the week; today I went ahead and kept doing loads so everything will be clean and put away in case the power goes out for any extended period of time. The dishwasher has a clean set of dishes waiting to be put away as well.

Since we've stayed on top of our preparedness items, there was no stress, no rushing about, no trying to make sure nothing was forgotten. The few extra loads of laundry and draining the water hoses were the only thing really "extras" that I did that I might have let go for another day. The rest of the items were pretty much just mental checklists to make sure everything was where I knew it should be.

Here's hoping that the forecasters are off the mark and all we get is a light dusting of snow! But it pays to be prepared for whatever might come our way.

Winter Storm Watch Tonight

From the Memphis NOAA Weather Forecast for West Tennessee for Wednesday, 11 Mar 2009:





Remember KY in late January? A little bread and milk from the grocery will not help you if we lose power due to ice. You should have plans in place at minimum for alternate heating and cooking options, a stocked pantry and a manual can opener. Alternate sources for light - be careful if you use candles. Make sure cell phone batteries are charged. Gas tanks on your car should be full. Check on elderly neighbors and relatives to see if they need any assistance. Stay off the roads if at all possible before driving becomes hazardous.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tire Garden: Day Two

Today we worked more on our tire garden, putting in our second row of double-depth tires and another single row.

Now we are out of tires and dirt - we will have to get more of each this coming week so we can make our next double row and two more single rows.

When we finished our rows today, we put in some of our first seeds like this:

Row 1: Back row near fence in single depth tires has 3 tires of snow peas and 3 tires of sweet green peas. We still have to put up the chicken wire just behind these tires so the peas that need to climb will have a place to go.

Row 2: This first row of double depth tires beside the peas will get our potato starts the middle of this coming week.

Next we left space for a walkway, then:

Row 3: Right now this row has 3 double depth tires - we'll be adding 3-4 more to this row this week. In the 3 that we filled with dirt today, we planted one full of carrots, one full of radishes and one full of beets.
Side Row 1: This is a row of six single depth tires. In those today we planted one of bibb lettuce, two of mesclun blend, one of romaine lettuce, and two of spinach. See the bricks in the spaces between the tires in this picture? We had these extra bricks lying around, so we decided to fill behind them with dirt and between the tires we will plant marigold, nasturtium and other flowering plants. The picture doesn't show it, but we actually put the bricks 2 high so there is plenty of dirt.
Side Row 2: This row is pending and will go in behind Row 1 when we get more tires and will be used for succession planting of the things we have in Row 1.

Then we'll do another single row in the next week or so for me to put in some various herbs.

Also today we got our tomato and pepper seeds started indoors so they'll be ready to transplant in mid-late April after our last frost.

Another neat thing about the tire gardening - I took a Sharpie marker and wrote directly on the tire what I planted and the date. In addition, I always keep a journal with a layout of the beds, what we planted, how we will succession plant and rotate, any weather notes I need to make, any notes about natural bug treatments or fertilizing, etc.

How are your garden plans coming along? Share those ideas with us!

Tire Garden: Day One

Saturday we started putting in our tire garden. It is taking shape very nicely and I'm excited about getting started with our planting.

We started by getting tires. Most tire-change stores will gladly give you as many used tires as you care to take away with you. The stores have to pay to have the tires disposed of and they'd be just as happy for you to carry them away for them. We are fortunate that there is a little neighborhood tire change store a few blocks from our house, which made it pretty easy for us to get a few truck loads.

Hubby then went to pick up our first truckload full of fabulously mulched soil. Now, we are fortunate again here because our midwife, who has 400 acres in the next county, also has a deal with her little city that they dump all of the leaves at a certain spot on her property and have for years and years. This has become a terrific mulch yard and she has allowed us to come get whatever we need. Great, huh?

If you don't have a nifty midwife with a ton of land in your neck of the woods, you can either use your own soil and compost that you've put together, or you can try to find a nursery or similar business in your area that sells mulch and soil by the truck load.

Next we decided where in our backyard we wanted to put our tire garden and how we wanted to arrange it. We've decided to have about 4 rows of 7-8 tires each down one side of our yard set off from the fence a bit.

We left about a foot of space off the fence line, as I didn't want the tires right up against the wooden fence.

On the back row closest to the fence, we've decided to put a row of six single tires. This will be the planting space for our climbing veggies - peas, beans and cucumbers. Just behind these tires we're going to put up about a 12 foot stretch of chicken wire that we have on hand so the veggies will have a place to climb.

The next row is seven tires that are 2 deep for our potatoes. We like potatoes and want to have a good harvest, so we decided to put in 7 tires full. We will begin planting our first potatoes this week.

First we put cardboard under the hole in the tire to keep the dirt from washing out and to help keep the weeds from coming up into the tire. We just went to our local recycling center and picked up small boxes, pizza boxes, etc. that would work for our purpose. Yes, some people thought it was strange that we were taking recycling out of the bins, so I told them about tire gardening and suggested that they try doing one of their own!
Next we fill the tire about half way with dirt and pushed it into the sides of the tire. My middle daughter (age 6), then added a few handfuls of worm castings before we put in the rest of the dirt. We continued this process for our first two rows until darkness and hunger made us stop for the night!

These first two rows are right up against each other. The little spaces between the tires we also filled with dirt and will use to plant our flowering plants like marigold, nasturtium and the like.
We'll then have a walkway about the width of one tire. The next row will be 7-8 tires that are 2 deep for our tomatoes, peppers, squash, etc.

At the end of one row we're going to turn and go down the other side with a single row of about 7-8 tires that will have our lettuces, spinach, herbs, etc.

I'll keep you posted along the way with photos and tips we've learned - let me know what you think!


Some good information about basic Emergency Communications can be found here:

Emergency Communications

AquaRain Sale

Just a quick heads-up that AquaRain is having a 10% off sale the entire month of March - no coupon code required - I received a postcard notice in the mail. If you'd rather call to verify, the number is 1-800-572-2051.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Tips for Tomato Success

A nice, fresh, home-grown tomato. Brings a smile to your face and makes your mouth water, doesn't it?

Here are a few tips for successfully growing tomatoes, so you can enjoy some of your very own home-grown ones this year!

~ Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family, like tobacco

~ Aphids are a pest that will suck the life right out of your tomato plants. Ants like to eat the "honeydew" that is produced by the aphids, so they will actually over-winter aphid eggs and then give them rides to the host plant in the spring! If you see ants around your garden, you probably have aphids as well. You can treat this naturally by using predator pests: lacewings, ladybugs, hover flies and praying mantis all like to eat aphids. Some companion planting will also help: anise, chives, coriander, garlic, onions, petunia, radish, and nasturtium will all act to either trap or repel aphids. Diatomaceous earth is also deadly to aphids and ants will usually not cross it.

~ Cornmeal sprinkled around your tomato plants will help control tomato hornworm. These worms (and ants, by the way) will eat the cornmeal and since they cannot digest it, they will swell up and explode.

~ If slugs are a problem, you can use diatomaceous earth around your plants to keep them at bay. You'll need to replace the diatomaceous earth after watering or rainfall. Epsom salts also deter slugs and is good for your tomatoes.

~ If you notice yellowing and wilting on the leaves of your tomato plants, you probably have blight. Blight lives in the soil and rain water can cause it to splash onto the plants. Most people recommend trimming the leaves of your plants up to a foot off the ground to keep blight from getting on them and spreading. You should also keep your tomato plants well mulched, as this helps make a physical barrier between the soil and the plant.

~ A home remedy for blight is Epsom salt and non-fat powdered milk. My grandmother always put about 1/4 cup of Epsom salt and a good shake of powdered milk, along with her fertilizer, into each hole before planting her tomatoes. She would then mix it around in the dirt and put in her plants. She would also then sprinkle a little powdered milk on the top of the soil once the plant was in place and lightly mix it in to the dirt. You can repeat this during the growing season. We use this method with our tomatoes and have good results.

~ If you notice dark black blotches appearing on the bottoms of your fruit before it can ripen, you probably have blossom end rot. This usually happens because the plant has not had consistent moisture. Be sure to use mulch to help retain moisture and in periods of very hot weather, be sure to water the plants more deeply and more often.

~ Another good thing about Epsom salts is that it contains magnesium and tomatoes like magnesium. You can put a Tablespoon of Epsom salts into a gallon of water and use as a foliage spray as your plants begin to flower.

~ If you are going to stake your tomatoes, do this at the same time when you plant them. If you wait until the plant is large to do your staking, you stand a good chance of damaging the roots and possibly killing your plant.

~ Small strips of pantyhose are a great way to tie your tomato stalks to the stakes, as the pantyhose are soft and gentle to the plant stalk.

~ To allow your tomato plants to get a good start before setting fruit, remove the initial blossoms that appear so the plant will work to set good firm roots first.

~ You can succession plant your tomatoes if you snip off the little "sucker" tomato plants that sprout between your established branches. You can put these in a little water until they root, then put them in small pots to get established before returning them to your garden plot. This will help extend the growing season of your tomatoes.

~ You can try growing your tomatoes this way: Hanging Tomatoes or Upside Down Tomatoes

Happy Growing!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Saving Seeds

Okay - you're getting your garden plot all ready for the first time and you are planning to purchase seeds for your favorite veggies to plant. What is all this talk about hybrid versus heirloom, organic, open pollinated - what does all this mean?

Well, basically it boils down pretty easy. Heirloom seeds are the only seeds that can be harvested and used to produce another plant exactly like the parent plant. Hybrid seeds are often sterile - even if they do produce a plant it will not be anything like the parent.

If you are purchasing your seeds at the local hardware store or large discount store you are probably purchasing HYBRID seeds. Most heirloom seeds are found in mail-order catalogs or online. I mentioned in my recent gardening post some great references for heirloom seeds (click the link here to see the list: heirloom seed sources).

Avid gardeners and those who practice a self-sufficient lifestyle work hard to keep their heirloom seeds going, year after year. My grandmother always saved her seeds year to year and she didn't have any special equipment or scientific methods for it.

So how do you learn to save seeds so you have them available for your use year after year? Here are some excellent links that will help you learn more about seed saving and get you on your way.

Seed Savers Exchange

Why and How to Save Seeds

International Seed Saving Institute

Kids Gardening - Finding, Gather and Saving Seeds - this is a website with a ton of information and great ideas for projects with your children.

How To Save Heirloom Seeds

Monday, March 2, 2009

FLASH Alert: GOA - Take Action

Here's the email in it's entirety, so I don't have to give a synopsis. Time to get on the email, phone and fax again folks.
Gun Owners of America E-Mail Alert
8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151
Phone: 703-321-8585 / FAX: 703-321-8408

Monday, March 2, 2009

By a resounding vote of 62 to 36 last week, the U.S. Senate has approved
an amendment, offered by Senator John Ensign of Nevada, to repeal the
D.C. gun ban.


But the battle is not over.

This week, the House will take up the D.C. voting legislation. And
anti-gun Speaker Nancy Pelosi is angling to impose a "gag
rule" on the
House, so that D.C. gets its unconstitutional representative, while
continuing its draconian anti-gun laws (like microstamping).

So here's the deal: The House will be asked to consider a
"rule" which
establishes the time for debate and provides for which amendments may be
considered -- and which may not.

It is expected that the Pelosi rule will seek to deny the House any vote
on the D.C. gun ban and thereby strip the repeal of the ban from the
House bill.

So what we are asking you to do is to write and/or call your congressman
and demand that he oppose any rule that strips the D.C. gun ban repeal
from the D.C. voting bill.

Just to remind you of how draconian the D.C. gun law is:

* Following the Supreme Court's decision in Heller declaring the law to
be unconstitutional, D.C. made a few cosmetic changes which will, as a
practical matter, allow it to continue to deny its citizens the right to
keep and bear arms.

* Then, the City Council passed a whole series of new anti-gun measures.
These include a requirement that most guns used for self-defense
"microstamp" fired casings in two places with a "unique
serial number."

Aside from being ineffectual with respect to stolen guns or crimes where
the brass has not been left behind, this microstamping provision is
intended to make guns so expensive that they won't be available anywhere
-- including your state.

ACTION: Write your Representative and urge him or her in the strongest
terms to oppose any rule which will strip the gun ban repeal from the
D.C. voting bill.

You can go to the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center at
http://www.gunowners.org/activism.htm to send your Representative a
pre-written e-mail message.

You can also call him or her toll-free at 1-877-762-8762.

~~~~end of alert~~~~

Knowledge Is Power

Okay folks. You know, I'm not one to hop onto the bandwagon of whatever latest "conspiracy" theory is running rampant out there in internet land.

However, I think most of you are quite able to see that our economy is in a shambles, with no end in sight of the slow bleed that seems to be taking place every day. True, many of us are still able to go about our day to day activities without a significant impact other than our 401k being lower than we'd appreciate.

But others are feeling the pain - and it is getting worse, not better.

So, I offer for your urgent reading the following links. Remember, knowledge is power and we as individuals simply must read and understand where things have been, where we are now and where they are going, and we need to know it quickly, for time is of the essence.

Read these links in order and form your own opinion. Feel free to come back here and share your thoughts.

~1. From the Market Ticker: Our Tier 1 Ratio Is Strong - this was written on Friday, 27 Feb 09, by Karl Denninger - who just won an Accuracy In Media Award and AIM's 2009 Reed Irvine Award for Grassroots Journalism. Read and understand this one - then move to:

~2. Straight from today's headlines on FoxNews: World Markets Fall on U.S. Slump, Bank Woes

~3. Next is another from Market Ticker: The Challenge Before America

As I said, feel free to share your thoughts.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Ready For: Gardening?

We're really anxious to get our spring garden in the ground, as I know many of you are as well! It could take volumes of text to go into great detail about gardening how-to, especially for those of you out there who might be doing your very first garden this year. So, I'm going to provide some links instead for great gardening resources that are already out there for you to use.

Getting the "perfect" garden spot going can take years of working the soil to get it nutrient-rich for your area of the state or country. But there are things you can do even if this is your first attempt at gardening that will make the job easier and still allow you to see some yield from your efforts.

You don't have to own a tiller, a lot of land or tons of gardening implements to get started. We've done traditional garden plots, square foot gardening, raised bed gardening, container gardening and had good yields and bad in all of them. Some of it is beyond our control - like drought, but usually just a little hard work and TLC will yield a nice little bounty for you and/or your family.

I'll be setting up a "gardening" section in the tabs at the top of this blog soon and will be adding great gardening links as I find them. Meanwhile, here are a few to get you started:

Know your climate zone: Tennessee hardiness zones range from 6a to 7b. Knowing your hardiness zone will help you determine which plants will grow in your area during what times of the year. Here's the USDA Hardiness Zone Map for TN - this one is interactive for your location using Google Maps.

Know your frost-free date: The frost-free date for my area of West TN is April 8th-15th. That is the date that it is considered "safe" to plant outdoors without having to fear a frost will come in and kill tender young plants. The past 2 years running, we've had a hard frost / freeze around April 13th - so it pays to know this information. Here's a handy little chart from Victory Seed Company for the First and Last Freeze Dates for TN.

Know what you'll eat: It really doesn't do much good to plant a whole slew of squash or zucchini if no one in your family will eat them. So take some time first to decide what you want to eat and how you want to use it. Are you going to freeze any of your harvest? Are you going to home can any of your harvest? Are you going to dehydrate any of your harvest? Do you want to have enough to eat fresh plus plenty to put away for the winter? Do you want to grow extra to trade for other fruits or veggies you don't have the ability to plant? Do you want to grow extra for extended family members? Spend a little time thinking this through so you can take the next step and determine how much you need to plant based on how much you'd like to yield.

Some links relevant to the above:
If you want to home can, freeze or dehydrate and never have - I recommend this book as a complete guide to get you started. It covers everything you need to know about canning, freezing, dehydrating and includes fabulous recipes. I use this every year and have never had a recipe fail. Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving.

Know how much you need to plant: Once you know what you want to plant and what you want to do with your harvest, you can determine how many seeds / starter plants you'll need to reach your yield. Much will depend on your gardening method. You can get more plants in a smaller area if you use the square foot gardening method; you'll need a lot more room if you are using traditional row gardening, so take all of that into consideration. Here are some handy calculators:

Backwoods Home - you can go to the link, type in "gardening" in the search box and read many articles about gardening basics.

How to Plan a Farm and Garden to Feed a Family

About.com: How Much To Plant

Virginia Cooperative Extension - has a handy chart, but you'll need to use the TN planting dates if you are in TN instead of the ones on that website.

What kind of seeds? Most people trying to become more self-sufficient and grow a substantial garden to supplement or completely provide for their family's food needs will work hard to use only heirloom seeds. Heirloom seeds gathered from this year's harvest can be saved and used to plant next year's harvest. With hybrid seeds (like most you buy from any "local" stores or nurseries) the seeds from your harvest cannot be saved and used for future planting, requiring that you constantly buy new seeds. Yes, heirloom seeds might be a bit more expensive on the front-end, but once you learn the easy art of seed-saving, you'll always have the seeds you need right at hand! Here are some links - do your research and make your own decision on the company you think best deserves your business and is most dependable:

Bountiful Gardens - we've purchased lots of seeds from this site and they've always been dependable.

Marianna's Heirloom Seeds - right here in TN

New Hope Seed Company - another right here in TN


Heirloom Seeds

Seeds of Change


Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Amishland Heirloom Seeds

Keeping it going: Once you get everything planted, you'll need to take steps to make sure your plants thrive. Watering guidelines, using mulch, natural fertilizer, weeding, bug control, composting and knowing how to start companion and rotational gardening will help you get the most from your vegetable garden for your entire growing season and those to come. More links:

National Plant Board List of Noxious Weeds

Guide to Selecting A Garden Mulch

Environmentally Responsible Gardening Products

Chemical-free pest control and garden fertilizing - Jerry Baker, Master Gardener

Dave's Garden - gardening tips

Neptune Harvest - all natural organic fertilizer

How To Compost

Compost Master

Conserving Water In The Vegetable Garden

Organic Garden Pest Control

Attracting Beneficial Insects to Your Garden

Natural Garden Pest Control

Beneficial Nematodes

Rotational Gardening

Crop Rotation

Companion Planting - Secrets of Organic Gardening

Carrots Love Tomatoes - companion planting book

Companion Planting - So Happy Together

Okay - time to get started! We're working this weekend planning out our first rotation of gardening that will start this week and the rotations that will follow throughout the summer and into fall. Our primary method of gardening this year will be tire gardening - and we'll show you how we're doing it every step of the way.

I'd love to hear your comments or share with me other links that gardeners here in TN might find useful!
Tennessee Preppers Network Est. Jan 17, 2009 All contributed articles owned and protected by their respective authors and protected by their copyright. Tennessee Preppers Network is a trademark protected by American Preppers Network Inc. All rights reserved. No content or articles may be reproduced without explicit written permission.