Prepper Product Review: Solar Bag Water Purification

SolarBag water purifier hiking prepper

 

This is one of the neatest products I have seen in awhile for water purification, mainly because of its ability for re-use and being very lightweight.

Now with many methods of water purification on the go, or in a bug out situation, they are either heavy, bulky, require batteries or make your water taste funny.

I have different methods of purifying water in my bug out bag, redundancy is the key.  It all comes down to time and weight, how much time do you have and how much weight can you carry.  Carbon filterer items work well, however they are bulky and take up weight, small iodine tabs work great and last a long time, however they will leave a unpleasant taste in your water, not a game changer, but it is still not pleasant.

 

The Solar Bag offers you the ability to not have to deal with weight, bulk OR taste.


The beauty of this is that empty it weighs less than a pound, thin and will fit easily in any pack and plus its reusable hundreds of times, and only requires sunlight to work!

 

SPECS:

-Tested by the University of Arizona, proven to filter out Viruses, Bacteria and Protozoa

-Up to 9 Liters of Water a day

-Can be Re-Used Hundreds of Times

-Will Work even with cloudy Skies

 

How it works is very simple.

1) Take water from a freshwater course, pour into the Solar Bag through the attached cloth filter

2) Lay Solar Bag flat in the Sun

3) Wait 2-3 Hours on a Sunny Day, 4-6 hours on a Cloudy Day (or if water is tea-colored)

4) Re-use as needed

 

The magic happens in the bag itself, inside is a nano polymer mesh inside the Solar Bag, under sunlight it activates the photochemical processes that destroys the contaminants in the water.

 

 

The Solar Bag may seem a little pricey coming in around $76 on Amazon, however you will not be using this on a daily basis, it is something that you will just set in your Bug Out Bag and leave it for a rainy day.  If you ever need it you wont have to worry about it having gone bad, as long as its daytime you can get water.

 

 

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DIY Vinegar: How to make Vinegar

homemade vinegar

(Photo courtesy of girlgonegranola.blogspot.com)

Vinegar has numerous uses from cooking to cleaning, but apart from those wishing to be more green or back to earth homesteaders vinegars many uses have been forgotten over the past generation or two.

There are a multitude of Vinegars that can be made from Red Wine Vinegar to Balsamic, etc., however for this post I will concentrate on the more simple type since in most of the U.S. and most of the readers here wine is not so easy to come by especially in a grid down scenario.

To make Vinegar first you will need some sort of liquid that contains ethanol, that could be beer, wine or hard cider (if you are a home brewer or live in apple country this will be easy).  Another substance you can use is just plain old sugary drinks, from fruit juice to sugar water.

If you live in an area that has apples or you have planted apple trees in your yard then this will work beautifully.

The amount produced will depend on how well you do this so experiment a bit to get the right amount.

1) Wash/Clean the apples and cut them, skins and all, into tiny pieces and mush them up with your hands and feet (or a juicer if available).

2) Strain it through a Muslin or similar bag into a pot.

3) Pour the juice from the pot into clean, dark glass jugs or mason jars and cover the tops with cheesecloth or cotton shirts and fasten it with twine or a rubber band.

4) Let sit in a cool dark place (root cellar works perfect) for six+ months.

5) Once done (you will know by the smell) strain and bottle it.

 

If you have a lot of apples and make cider or pies, etc. you can let the cider sit for a long while and it will turn into vinegar, or you can take the waste from the production of cider and pies, etc. and store it in a jar or crock and cover with cold water.  keep adding the waste cores and peels to the crock (keep in a warm place for this method) and over time it will develop into vinegar.  Taste some good cider vinegar now to get your taste buds trained because this method is based on you tasting it to see if its strong enough.  Then strain and bottle.

 

To make the cheap and easier version i described earlier using sugar water, just take that liquid and pour it into  a clean jar (large) or stainless steel container.

The way to get your first batch going and to be a “starter” for future batches is to start now.  Get yourself a good bottle of unfiltered, unpasteurized vinegar or if you want to spend a little cash order a starter/culture from a winemaking/homebrew supply store (see below picture or click link to the left).

Add this starter or proven vinegar to your concoction and let it sit.  Its important if you are making it for taste to use a proven bacteria starter that will give you a decent taste right off the bat, or you will have to test and experiment to make one of your own.  Once you have your first batch made your can use some of that to add to future batches and have no need for any more of the original starter once its used up.  This is a great way to be self sustaining for harder times.

 

 

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PREPPER RESOURCE PAGE UPDATE

Hey Folks just updated the Prepper Resource page with 300 new files!

There is everything you are looking for from food prep lists to Radio Communications to Blacksmithing I think we cover everything here!

 

PREPPER RESOURCES

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Homemade DIY Organic Potassium Supplement

EU-Kommission genehmigt Stärkekartoffel Amflora / EU Commission approves Amflora starch potato

 

Every plant needs potassium to grow, it is necessary for proper growth of the plant itself as well as to flower and flourish.

Anytime of flouring fruit needs a good supply of potassium to grow from peppers to potatoes to fruit trees, if you don’t have a good supply of potassium you may find your plants growth is stunted, leafs are curled and it is just not producing that well.

So how do you get more potassium into the soil and/or pots to help your plants along?

Below are a few suggestions on how to do this, all of the suggestions are focused on organic methods since if you are not concerned with organics you can just go buy a chemical fertilizer and spray it on.  I don’t like chemical fertilizers for a few reasons, mainly that they are a crutch to self sufficiency.  Sure they can give good results now but what will you do if the SHTF or you cant afford the fertilizer or some other circumstance arises where it is not available to you?  You will be left with a soil that is deficient in all the necessary nutrients for productive growth and your yield will be small to nothing.  Worse you will have no experience in the sustainable ways to do this and will be wishing you did, chemical fertilizers are a crutch that will leave you on your ass in the long run.  We are seeing the effects today as more fertilizers are being used to get the same yields as before because the soil is dead, there is no fungi or other beneficial and natural helpers left in the soil, they have been killed off by overuse of the these artificial crutches.

If you want to be self sufficient you need a garden, period, whatever that may be for you, you need it for your long term plans. You need to have not just seeds stored away but the experience and know how to raise them effectively, without that its like throwing you into a college bowl game and being told to coach on day 1, you will fail and it wont be your pride that hurts, but your belly.  An aspect of gardening, an important one is the realize and understand the intricate web that is present in nature that leads to productive yields, ignore it at your own peril.

 

 

GREEN MANURE

Comfrey Tea

Green manure, unlike its brown cousin, is plant based, hence the “green” in the name.  This is basically using beneficial plants that can provide nutrients as a fertilizer base, this can be done in two ways.

1) Use the leaves, etc to put in the planting holes and/or dig in around, beside, etc the rows/plants you are planning to grow.

2) Make a “Tea” which is basically putting in the material into water (ratios may differ depending on the plant) and letting it decompose and leech the nutrients into the water making a beautiful and healthy liquid fertilizer.

On Monday I wrote a post on Comfrey a absolutely great plant for green manure, it is high in nitrogen and Potassium among other things and breaks down quickly allowing for use as a tea or just the leaves.

Beans (soy and others) and Parsely are also good for this.  There are many others and some varieties that work better than others, do some research on “green manure crops” to find out what will grow best for you.

 

MOLASSES

Blackstrapmolasses

Unsulphered Blackstrap molasses (1-3 tbsp per gallon of water) is said to work well and is high in potash.

WOOD ASH

wood ash potash

This is the age old tried and true method for raising potassium levels in gardens.

Hardwoods work best (produce more ash) and some better than others.  As a general rule of thumb for every cord of wood you burn you will yield around 25 lbs of wood ash.

A cord of Oak will yield enough ash for a 60×70 foot garden area, while a cord of Douglas Fir will provide enough fora 30×30 garden.

Be aware that wood ash will raise the PH level of your garden, so test with a soil Ph kit and keep an eye on your garden.  If you compost with a lot of fruit (acid) this will probably help balance things out a bit.  Don’t add a bunch all at once, sprinkle it on, wait a few days/weeks, test, add more, etc.

 

Bananna peel potash

banana peel potash

Now this isn’t helpful if you don’t live in a tropical climate and can grow it, but for times when you have access to grocery stores, keep and collect banana peels (have friends do the same).  By adding this to worm bins or compost (watch for fruit flies) the potassium will be present in the worm compost (learn how to create your own worm bin here) or regular compost, however there is another way.

 

1) Dry the Peels in the sun, dehumidifier or bake in the oven

2) You can direct bury the charred remains or burn them in a small fire until they are ash.

3) You can also just directly bury the peels in the ground as well as use the rind of banana and lemon to do the same thing, but it is more labor intensive obviously!

 

If you have any other suggestions on potash/potassium supplements please comment below!

 

OTHER

A few other suggestions (but mostly you will have to buy) are…

  • Kelp Meal
  • Greensand (deposits on rocks in old seabeds)
  • Granite Dust.  Find from granite quarries, etc.  This will NOT be a quick fix and is to be used as a long term solution as it takes time to break down.
  • Directly layer manure into the ground, on top or make tea.

DO NOT USE CHARCOAL ASH! the sulphur contained in it will kill your plants.

 

If you are not interested in this DIY method I recommend Jobes Organic Fertilizer spikes for containers.  I had good results with them last year before I started my worm bins and experimented with these DIY measures.

 

 

 

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Comfrey: A Miracle Plant for your garden

comfrey

 

Spring is gone, but no need to worry I have a plant that you can plant now and will be more beneficial to you, your garden and any livestock than anything you have planted yet.

Comfrey is a hardy perennial plant (meaning it comes back in the spring by itself without have to reseed), that can be planted anytime even in winter (if you dont get a deep freeze) that has numerous beneficial properties that make this plant something that you will look back and wonder why you didn’t get it sooner.

 

TYPES

There are three types of Comfrey and depending on what you will want to use it for primarily and how much of it you want, will dictate which type you plant.

 

 

COMMON (True, Quaker, Cultivated) COMFREY

common comfrey

(Symphytum officinale: Borginacae family)

This type is native to Europe and grows to a length of 2 – 3.5 feet tall including the flower stalk.

Flowers are a creamy white/creamy yellow, white, pink or purple depending on the exact strain.

This is primarily used for medicinal uses, however it contains less of the chemical allantonin (the medicinal chemical in the plant) than the Russian Hybrid Comfrey varieties, however it has lower PA’s (pyrrolizidine Alkaloids) which is the toxic chemical in the plant.

It is ingested internally, using older large leaves, as the younger leaves contain more PA’s than younger ones (roots contain more PA’s than younger leaves).  You can also make an herbal poultice (chopping leaves into a soft moist mass) and applied to burns and wounds, and is also said to help heal bones that have been injured.  While some of you may look at this as mumbo jumbo i have seen and head from people I trust that are not kool aid drinkers that this does actually work exceedingly well.

True Comfrey produces less biomass (about 1/3 of Russian Comfrey), however unlike Russian Hybrid Comfrey the seeds can be used to propagate new plants.  This also means that comfrey can be somewhat invasive and spread across your property but not as fast as say dandelions or other very invasive weeds.

 

Rough/Prickly Comfrey

prickly comfrey

Symphytum asperum

This is a comfrey native to Asia with blue, pink and purplish (sometimes) flowers.  This is a coarse and clumped plant and this variety that CAN (but only sometimes) propagate through seeds so it can become invasive if you are not careful, more often like the Russian variety it is propagate through its root cuttings.

It is common used as a silage (fermented high moisture stored fodder that can be fed to cattle, sheep, etc.)

 

Russian (Hybrid) Comfrey

russian comfrey symphytum uplandicum

Symphytum uplandicum, Symphytum peregrinum, Symphytum asperum x officinale

 

This is the most common species you will find around, it is a natural cultivated hybrid. It is a cross between common comfrey and rough (prickly) comfrey.

It grows to 4 feet tall and comes in various varieties known as “Bockings”, they have purple, white, magenta, red or blue (fade to pink) flowers.

The plant is sterile, meaning that its seeds will not grow and the only way to propagate the plant is by root cuttings.  This variety will create 3x the amount of biomass than the common comfrey.

The most common bockings you will find are #4 and #14

Bocking #4 is used for farming and fodder plant for animals, and is the most commonly used in permaculture farms.  This variety is high in protein and allantoin (the medicinal chemical) and has a much deeper root so it is much more drought resistant.

Bocking #14 This variety is used more as a garden supplement using the leaves to make a liquid fertilizer in a compost tea.  You can also had the leaves to compost piles to speed up the decomposition process of the pile since Comfrey leaves are high in nitrogen they add some heat to the pile.  You can also add leaves straight to planting holes and rows, the leaves quickly decompose so they will give an added shot to your gardens.

Truth be told you can use these two types for both purposes, only that one is better for its intended purposes slightly than the other.

 

GROWING

You will want to pick the location of your comfrey carefully since it has a very deep root structure once established and since it is very robust even a small amount of root will mean it will probably grow again.

Comfrey will grow in Zones 3-9, but if you live outside these zones you should try it, it will probably grow.

Comfrey likes full sun, but will do decent in light shade and will grow between 3-5 feet tall and 2-4 feet wide.

When I planted mine I mixed in a little bit of older horse manure i had cooked for a bit in a bucket.  Comfrey is a nitrogen hog and while this is not necessary it also helps it along in its early life.  Some say that it should be fertilized with manure throughout the year or with urine in 1:1 with water.  Now you can do that however if you are using this as fodder for animals their feces should do the job.

Now Comfrey doesn’t need much if any care, as long as its healthy you shouldn’t have any issues with pests or disease bothering it and if they are healthy should last several decades.

 

USES

Fodder for Animals

Comfrey leaves are around 20%+ protein so they are ideal for food supplements for animals, notice i said supplements and not main food source.

CHICKENS: chickens love it and will peck it to death, it is better to keep this away from them and just feed them the leaves or if you are creating a permaculture food forest sow it amongst other fodder crops so that the birds dont eat it as voraciously.

GOATS/CATTLE:  Add it to their hay or plant some in areas where the cattle graze.

 

COMPOST

If you have done any composting you know that it takes experience to create the perfect balance to make that pile “heat up”, the high nitrogen (as i mentioned earlier) will help immensely with that.  Comfrey mines minerals deep, deep down so it is high in NPK and minerals and will add some very good stuff to your compost.

TEA

Fill a Barrel of Bucket with comfrey leaves (half of the container) and fill with water.  Let it rote for a month or so and you will have a beautiful liquid fertilizer.  Dilute 50:50 with water.

SOIL AMENDMENT

Add leaves to the bottom of planting holes for tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, peppers, fruit trees, etc.

If you add a layer of leaves (2 inches) to the  sides of growing plants the leaves will slowly break down and add nutrients to the plants.

 

Personal Experience

This is my first year growing Comfrey and since we will be moving I am growing it in a pot (not ideal and definitely not advisable for long term).  I am growing it in a pot so that i can get some good root growth (if you grow it in a pot you will find that roots will start to grow out the bottom), and then propagate them on my property.  Considering that root cuttings go for around $4-5 each, this is also possibly a small money maker for you if you choose to go in that direction.

I will continue to show you my progress throughout the years!

*DISCLAIMER*

A study showed that Comfrey caused increased cancer in rats so the FDA has banned it for internal use (which is why you cant find it on the shelves in the vitamin aisle.)  Do your own research and talk to your doctor.

*DISCLAIMER*

 

 

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DIY Waterproofing with Wax

Spring Log Drive Workers In Canada

 

I have packed away many cans of scotchguard that I rotate through every fall/winter season (sometimes summer depending on where I am).  However I have also packed away various bars of wax for DIY waterproofing.

You can go with paraffin wax, however it is much more involved so I will focus on using a much easier method, otter wax.

All you will need for this is…

  • Clothing you want to waterproof
  • Hair Dryer (Heat gun will work as well)
  • Otter Wax

otterwaxfabricwax

A few things to consider for this is that whenever you use wax to waterproof you will be making a tradeoff, waterproofing for breathability, that is you will gain unparalleled waterproofing but your clothes will not breath and thus it will become more stuffy and you will sweat more if its a hot climate.

*Also in a grid down scenario you can make use of the warm summer sun (since you may or may not have power available in your home).  This will mean pre planning on your part in preparation for the rainy season.  You can lay your clothes and the wax out in the hot summer sun to heat up and use that to some effect to wax your clothing.*

 

STEP 1

Lightly heat the Wax and area of clothing you are going to wax with the blow Dryer

 

STEP 2

Wipe the bar of wax like soap across the clothing.  Depending on the fabric and type of clothing you may or may not want to put more or less pressure on it.  Practice with different materials to get the effect you want.

 

STEP 3

Use your fingers and hands to wipe the wax around and into nooks and crannies and smooth it out; you can also use the edges of the bar to get into the areas not easily gotten with the bar.

 

STEP 4

Heat again with the blow dryer (or put in the sun as I mentioned in a grid down scenario)

 

STEP 5

Let cure in a warm dry place.

 

NOTE:

  • Re Apply once a year
  • Dont wash in a machine or hand wash in warm water. Hand wash in cold water and then possibly re apply the wax if needed to areas.

 

 

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Defending Yourself in SHTF: Now What

smoking shotgun

Every SHTF scenario may be different, in some Police may be around, in others there may be no police and in this post I will try to outline some things you should take into consideration for both.

So lets say….the world has gone down the tubes, crime, even in your small community has gone up; there have been many break ins and a few violent assaults upon those traveling along the road within the country. 

Long after midnight you hear something break in your garage and you jump up to investigate; upon opening the backdoor you hear the sound of gravel under a boot nearby followed by a shot that lands in the door frame next to you.  You return fire and hit the man who shot you, a engine starts up on the opposite side of the garage and takes off, you fire a few rounds at the vehicle but it keeps going and its taillights disappear over the horizon.

Most prepper novels end there, perhaps they mention a burial, but that’s about it, the only case where this was mentioned that I can think of is a situation that happened in the LIGHTS OUT by David Crawford.

What will happen now? You have  dead body and a pool of blood on your property, what do you do?

 

 

IF LAW ENFORCEMENT IS PRESENT

 

If Law Enforcement is present in whatever way is possible call them and have them come to your property.

However one needs to take a few things into account.

 

Are the Law Enforcement in your area still reliable and trustworthy?

In SHTF law enforcement may become their own gang or they may be corrupted in other ways by other people, either way if they are not reliable, while it may seem strange, your best course of action could be to not tell anyone.  If LE in your area is corrupted what may happen is they may just outright lie and say you committed murder if you are not a well loved member of the community; this could give them a reason to ‘confiscate’ all that you have since you are now a soon to be convicted murderer.  As with many other corrupt LE around the world they may just use this as an opportunity to shake you down for a payoff, or take anything you have that’s worth taking to ‘keep their mouths shut’ etc.

You may end up needing to just bury the body as well as document what happened, which i will explain in the section below about what to do if no LE is present in the area.

This article by Massad Ayoob, a veteran Police Officer and Tactical genius is geared towards what to do after a shooting now, in pre-SHTF times but many of the suggestions could apply to SHTF times when talking to LE after a shooting.  Its worth a read regardless.

AFTER A SHOOTING, WHAT TO REVEAL – MASSAD AYOOB

 

 

 

IF LAW ENFORCEMENT IS NOT PRESENT

This is a very real scenario, things may have gotten so bad that the LE in the area has just disbanded due to lack of funding and/or the Police may have just gone home to protect their own families.

If LE is not present in your area you will want to document this shooting as best you can.

In your preps stick away a few disposable cameras, notepads and pencils (I mentioned it an article prior).  With these you will be able to document as best you can what happened and be able to use them to defend your shooting if you decide to tell authorities after law is restored and/or if you are ever accused of murder in that scenario.

  • Take pictures of the scene from all angles, show where you were standing in relation to the shooter, as well as from the shooter to where you were.  Take detailed photos of the body and where the rounds hit them as well as if any rounds from the bad guy hit your house or anything else document that.  In the scenario I put down at the beginning take a picture of you standing where you were when the rounds hit to illustrate how close they were and also this will help to show they were aimed at you with the intent to kill.
  • If you don’t have a camera, sketch as best you can the scene where the shooting took place and where you both were.  This is not so much as to be used in evidence, but to make sure you remember all the details.  Even post SHTF some a-hole prosecutor could try to slip you up in your account of what happened, this helps to make sure you stick to the facts.
  • Recover any of the bad guys rounds that may be stuck in places around your property and put them in a plastic bag, as well as hold onto their weapon (if analysis can be used to determine what rounds were fired from what gun.  Take pictures of the assailant with his gun.
  • Hold onto the gun for later evidence if possible.
  • Collect witness statements if any.  If neighbors saw anything, even just the car leaving the scene, your wifes recollection and written testimony that you were both in bed when you head the noise, etc.  Also write down minute by minute in full, full, full detail, your account of what happened.
  • Take photos of any identification of the person, if they have them on them.

 

THATS MY GUN!

Another thing to take into account, jumping back to scenario where LE is present, and this is illustrated in the Book LIGHTS OUT that I mentioned earlier, if LE comes and you have all your ducks in a row and they believe you, they may still follow protocol for shootings and confiscate your weapon for ‘later use as evidence’ etc.  What this means is, you may…if you used your primary home defense weapon…tell them you used a less useful weapon you may own.

For me if i used my 870 or AR-15, i would not be apt to give that up in a SHTF scenario, so I just might claim it was my Hi point 9mm pistol that did the deed and not my high end self defense weapon.  While this is just educational discourse, of course, you can see why this may make some sense to do. Besides they probably cant do any wound testing or send it to CSI at the moment, so unless it is a shotgun sized hole in their chest, you can probably get by with that.

 

Lastly, document where you buried the body, to not draw attention to yourself I probably wouldn’t put up a grave marker, etc. But I would note it down in the photos and write some sort of map to the location (near big oak by the creek, 10 paces to the West, etc.).  For care and burial of a body, you can check out my post on how a TEOTWAWKI funeral.

 

*Of course the disclaimer is that you should always notify the police of any incident of this sort, this was merealy a hypothetical discourse on a dystopian scenario and should be taken in the educational purpose only spirit it is intended as.  And as always dont be a dumbass and do something like not notify the police in present ‘normal’ times, that’s a quick ticket to life in prison.*

 

 

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Episode 28: The Great Myth of the Founding Fathers

Scene_at_the_Signing_of_the_Constitution_of_the_United_States

 

Today I want to talk to you about a common myth I find on many peoples minds and many arguments.

Often you will hear “The Founding fathers would be rolling in their graves” or “The Founding Fathers would NEVER have approved of this….”

The myth is this, that the founding fathers were a homogenous group of like minded people, concerned with individual liberty and wanting to restrict the power of government.

The Truth is that there were two competing groups and thoughts within the Founding Fathers.

One Group personified by Thomas Jefferson, in varying degrees believed in the sovereignty of the individual and that government at best is a necessary evil and one must rein in centralization of power at all costs.

The Other group personified by Alexander Hamilton, in varying degrees believed in the Supremacy of the State and that individual liberties should be curtailed to the greater needs of the state and its glory.

 

 

 

 

 

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Vermiculture 101: Composting with Red Worms

DSCN4962

 

 

My family has composted with Red Worms for a long time, and this year I started my own.

Red Worms will give you some of the best soil improvements and fertilizer for your gardens out there, no need to buy fertilizer from the store, and all you need is a few bucks in materials and things you already throw away in your home!

The worms will provide you two things…

Castings: Basically Worm poop, they are several times high in nitrogen, phosphates and potash than the surrounding soil.  They will result in a healthier plant and because of that health more resistant to disease and implant good microbes and enzymes into the soil.

Worm Tea/Leechate: While not technically a compost tea, this is what is commonly referred to as the “juice” that drains out the bottom of the bin.  It is actually best that as you drain it you return it for a second time through the bin so that the worms can redigest it and make sure no harmful toxins from the plants themselves (leeched during decomposition) are in the tea.  You can also Aerate the Compost tea from worms or straight compost using this method.

You can use the juice straight if you want but dillute it 20:1 and spary on productive trees on their leaves, or a 1:1 – 1:5 for liquid fertilizer in your plants, it has a high PH so you need to be careful and test a bit before you go crazy.

 

There are multiple ways to build your bins so I will give you the plans for both.

 

1 BIN SYSTEM

Materials:

  • 1 Rubbermaid Tub (10 Gal.+) Opaque (not clear). You CAN buy these through Amazon, but I found mine through the Dollar Store and since its the Garage sale season I would fart around those on a saturday and see if you can pick some up for cheap.

  • 4-6 Inches shredded newspaper/cardboard (black and white newspaper, not glossy!)
  • 1-2 lbs of Kitchen Scraps (at the bottom of this page I give you a list of what IS ok and what is not)

 

The reason a rubbermaid type tote is recommended is that surface area/volume is better than a bucket, you want spread out worms not a sheer vertical drop like a bucket would do.  Not saying a bucket CAN’T be used.  Only that it is not as ideal, and you will not get the same return as you would a tote.  Check around discount stores or find some friends who may have a few laying around.  Just make sure it is NOT clear, light kills worms, so anything that is not clear will work.  You can construct the bin out of wood if you so choose, its up to you how much work you want to put into this.

First take your container and mark out where you want to put the vents and mark with a permanent marker around them to mark where you will drill/cut the hole.

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Do the same for the spigot, you will want this at the bottom where the worm juice will pool up.

 

 

 

 

 

Once you have that you can use a SPADE Drill bit to drill out the holes, you can also just carefully cut the hole out with a knife or box cutter, i prefer the drill because it is a no b.s. correct size hole.  If you do not want to buy roofing vents you can cut many many many 1/8′ holes along the top of the Bin (see picture below)

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Then you will cut out the hole for the spigot and thread it on, inside the container.  Pour some water in and tip it so that it covers the hole spigot, see if there are any leaks.  If so use a non-toxic sealant like a silicone bead sealant for windows, etc.

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Now you will  add the “bedding” for the worms, this is the shredded newspaper and cardboard.  Before you add it you will want to get it wet.

 

When i say wet i don’t mean soggy, i mean wet/damp.  So you can do this one of two ways.  You can use a spritzer (that hasn’t been used with chemicals) and spray and spray the newspaper until it gets nice and damp.  You can also soak it in little bits of water until the desired wetness is achieved.  I just took it in the bowl and put little bits of water in it until it was nice and damp.  If you squeeze it and a few drops come out then it is ok, if 3-5 drops come out, it is too wet.  Worms like dampness not soggy and soaking wet, this is why during a rain they come out, so they don’t drown.  Once it is wet enough, then put it in the bottom of the bin, but make sure it is “fluffed” and not all packed down.

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Next sprinkle some kitchen scraps into the bin and bury them into the bedding, then sprinkle a layer of good dirt/topsoil.  The topsoil is not 100% necessary but it does help to add some dirt for their diet, which is good for the little guys. (NOTE: I took the picture with Orange Peels in the mix.  I ended up removing these as orange/Banana peels will give you a nice flock of fruit flies)

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Then dig a little hole in the middle of the bedding and dump your worms into this.  If they came packed in peat moss that’s great.

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Then sprinkle a layer of wet bedding (newspaper/cardboard).  This will completely bury the food scraps/worms and will help to keep the fruit fly population from starting up. If you have an issue with flies, its a matter of too much food and or exposed food, make sure its covered/buried.

 

A issue that I had was some worms trying to escape, I found that this is common and the amount is what tells you if there is a problem or not.  If you have a then it may help to put a layer of dry cardboard on top of the last bit of wet bedding.  Then i also put a piece of cardboard inside over the top of it, this makes a dry layer where they dont want to go past (they like it damp).  If you still have a problem see if putting the bin in some light with the top off for 5 minutes helps, if not then go to 10 then 20 then put the top on, if a few still are trying to get out or just laying there then it is probably ok, they are just sick or confused, discard them.

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If you continue to have a lot of worms escaping you may want to sprinkle some water on them.  peel back the dry layer and pour a few splashes of water here and there and replace the dry layer.

You will know you have the right moisture if you follow the wrung sponge rule of thumb.  When you put your fingers into the bin in different spots it should feel like a wrung out sponge, not dry or soggy.  If its dry add some more splashes of water/wet bedding into the mix.  If its to soggy, add some dry bedding into the mix to help it absorb a little bit.

Put the lid on the top, presto all done!

 

 

2+ BIN SYSTEM

 

Materials:

  • 4-6 Inches shredded newspaper/cardboard (black and white newspaper, not glossy!)
  • 1-2 lbs of Kitchen Scraps (at the bottom of this page I give you a list of what IS ok and what is not)

 

This will be the same as the first bin as far as the setup for the first bin, however for a two bin system in the corners of the first bin (bottom) you will  put in 4 soda (or like) cans in the corners to be used as supports, or not, its up to you and depends whether you will have multiple bins on top. (you can also drill holes and insert PVC pipes  horizontally in the first bin to use as supports for the second bin).

For the second bin, insert the air vents the same as the first.

Then drill 1/4 or larger holes in the bottom of the second bin, this will allow the worms to migrate to the second bin for harvesting.

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When you are ready to harvest the first bin for castings, insert wet bedding, etc (same as you did for the first bin to get your worms ready) and then insert it over the top of the first bin.  give it a month or two and the majority of worms will migrate up to the top and into the second bin through those holes where food is plenty, away from the old bin with little food in it.

You can start this process by waiting until your first bin is NEARING completion and then inserting the second bin.  Some worms will continue to stay and eat what is left and then migrate up.

Once you have given it a week or so, drain the remaining worm juice, etc and remove the bottom bin.

What few worms are left can be tossed in to the second bin and if there are some food scraps left you can place them in the second bin as well.

Take out the castings and put them in whatever storage container you want, you can mix this in with soil for planting or make compost tea with it.

 

HOW MUCH SHOULD I FEED THEM?

After a while you will get the hang of it.  Don’t add any more food scraps for a week or so.  Before you do, check to see how they are doing, if there is still a lot of the food you initially put in there don’t add more, wait a few more days.  If it smells there is too much food in there because the worms are not eating it and bacteria is breaking it down faster than they can consume it.

Worms can eat their weight in food per 24 hour period, so roughly .5-1lb per 1000 worms per day.  The nice thing about worms is that if there is plenty of food they will start to mate and reproduce and make more worms, if there is too little food they will not reproduce and some will die off.  They have a way of maintaining the correct balance in the system.

The nice thing about worms is if you need to leave for a vacation you can add some extra food, and even if the food gets scarce they will slow down and not reproduce!

You do not need to grind their food, you can cut up say some rotten potatoes, or larger items, but no need to grind the food, put it in as is.

I recommend placing the new food in a new section of the bin every time, this way they will follow the scraps across the whole bin and not be everywhere.

 

WHAT DO I FEED THEM?

 

YES:

Vegetables

Fruits

NOTE: Peels of Fruits can and do create fruit flies, orange rinds and apple cores are ok, or if you dont care then throw it all in.  I personally toss the fruits and other items that the worms DONT like but can be composted in another bucket for the compost pile outside.

Coffee grounds

Tea Bags

Breads/Grains

Egg Shells (is also good for PH)

Orange Rind

Cardboard

Newspaper (Black and White and NOT glossy inserts)

Dry Leaves

Mature Manure

 

NO:

Many of these things will attract rodents/pests

Meats

Dairy

Any Oils (This includes veggies cooked in oil)

Orange Peel/Citrus (This will attract Fruit Flies)

 

 WHAT CAN I USED THE WORM BYPRODUCTS FOR?

worm castings

(photo courtesy of tentgardens.com)

Worm Castings can be put and mixed in with the soil that you will be planting into.  They are the most potent fertilizer you will find and are ready to be used by your plants right away no need to break down as they are the natural food of plants in nature.  If you are harvesting these castings AFTER you have already planted, I would dig in around the plant without disturbing its roots and push these down around it.  You can also just sprinkle them around the base of your plants and dig them in slightly if you are worried about damaging the roots.  You don’t need a lot to get a big effect however you can’t overdue it so that’s not an issue. Its a bit unnecessary but you can use this to make a worm casting compost tea, using it straight or mixed with other composted materials (I say unnecessary because you are also getting worm juice so need to make it into a tea you will be getting both solid and liquid fertilizer!)

 

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(photo courtesy of gippslandgardener.wordpress.com)

Worm Juice (Tea) is the liquid byproduct of worms breaking down your compost.  Using this is simple, just pour it into your container gardens at the base of the plant or if you are getting a lot of it and/or have a large amount of plants and trees you want to treat you can spray it using something like this…

I would dillute the mixture 2:1 (2 parts water 1 part juice) to maximize its benefits and have it last longer if you dont have a large system.  Once again there is NO detrimental effect whatsoever to pouring “too much” on your plants or trees, this is 100% beautiful liquid gold that your plants will eat right up, like that first cup of coffee in the morning it will get them going!

 

If you have any questions feel free to email me rmorgan(at)greatnorthernprepper.com (replace the ‘at’ with @)

 

 

 

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DIY Container Gardens: Growing Potatoes Indoors

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Today I present my Youtube video on how to grow potatoes inside in bins.  I presented this first in my post on all the uses for the lowly cardboard box, and decided to give the straw free potato bin container garden a try myself this year.

Its very simple just 4 inches of topsoil a few handfuls of straw and light watering and by fall you will be able to just reach in and grab potatoes free of dirt and ready to eat!

This is very useful if you live in an apartment or are short of space.

 

 

 

 

CHECK OUT AND JOIN THE GREAT NORTHERN PREPPER FORUM, LEARN, DISCUSS AND SHARE!

 

Want to help support the site? find out more here!

 

Or just click the amazon link below, bookmark it and go there every time you shop on Amazon, it costs you nothing more, but they will kick back a portion of your purchase to the site to help run things smoothly and keep you informed!

Amazon GNP help

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