100 Essentials #87 and #88

Well, were almost done with our list of 100 Essentials. Item #87 Stay Alert Gum

Gum 5 times faster than coffee

Each piece of military caffeine gum contains 100 mg of caffeine, which is about the amount found in a six-ounce cup of coffee.

“Because it’s chewed, it delivers caffeine to the body four to five times faster than a liquid or pill because it’s absorbed through tissues in the mouth — not the gut, like in traditional formulations,” Dr. Kamimori, a behavioral Army researcher, said.

A sleep researcher, he learned of the idea of delivering caffeine through gum in 1998. Congress funded the first study on the gum a year later.

When the study validated how fast the caffeine was absorbed in the body, the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command began developing and testing military caffeine gum for use in sustained or continuous military operations when Soldiers typically don’t get enough sleep. To order (Click Image)

Item #88 Hats, Bandanas, Neckerchiefs ( Your Probably already have these) If not, any great Farm and Ranch Store will have these. We prefer Coastal Farm and Ranch but what ever you find will be great to have on hand.

#89 Goats, Rabbits, Quail Chickens (Cages, Food, Water Containers) I was just at Coastal earlier today and they had several different Rabbits. My father would slaughter one every Saturday and that's what we had for dinner. Easy to skin and better then Chicken in my opinion. 

Now Goats, Check out the link below and choose the best one for you. I have a friend who raises and sells Boer Goats and is doing really well breeding and selling. Great way to earn a little extra cash for your Farm or Ranch.

Now, I have several friends that are raising Quail for meat and eggs to produce more. Here is a great article about Raising Quail. (Click On the Photo)

There is so much information on raising chickens but here are a few of my favorite rescourses. (Click on the photo for the Link) 

You will soon understand the value of growing your own food! Enjoy the process, eat well and your family will love you for it.

 

 

100 Essentials #81 to #86

This week kind of ties into last week, so here we go with with item #81  GardenGloves, WorkGloves & Warm Gloves. Garden and Work Gloves for Spring, Summer and Fall and Warmer Gloves for Winter. Stay warm and free of blisters is always my goal and my need for gloves. Most of you already have these in your homes but if not we love the local farm and ranch stores. Can we say Coastal Farm and Ranch!

Item #82 Lantern Hangers. These items just make seeing at night a whole lot easier. Also great to play cards by in the evening with some hot chocolate!

Moving onto # 83 Screen Patch Kits, Glue, Screws, Nuts and Bolts are the next item on our list. Buy in bulk and save when you can. We recently went to a garage sale, at a home where the man had lived for 80 years.

He had everything in while plastic jugs. We purchased a lot of these items there. Look for Garage Sales, Estate Sales, Barn Sales and Hardware Store Sales. Don't wait until you need these items. If your always looking your will find what you need.

Watch this video and learn how to repair a Screen Door or Window.

Item #84 Screwdrivers, Hammer, Wrenches, and General House Tools. Once again, I love Made in America when it comes to tools. The older the better, so i look at Antique Stores, Estate Sales, Garage Sales, ect. Lately, I have been collecting old Ford Tools, I love anything Ford so the hunt is on...

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Now this next item is a must for everyone who prepares. #85 Cigarettes, Cigars, Lighter, Paper Book Matches (Getting Harder to Find). Now we don't smoke (anything) but we have these in our preps to use for bartering. Some folks just can't do with out and will gladly barter to get them. We have a few cartons on hand just in case. 

 

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#86 is another bartering item to have on hand. Wine and Liquor. Purchase the travel size and stock up. These will be great to have on hand and enjoy a couple if you choose. Love these stored in Mason Jars. Great idea!

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Hopefully, I have given you a few more ideas on items to add to your preps. Stay tuned as were winding down my list of 100 Essentials. Let me know what you think and items that you have so I can add them to mine. See you next week! 

100 Essentials #76 to #80

This week we start with #76 (Roll On Window Installation Kits) Save $$ with reducing escape of heat or cooling through your windows with this inexpensive window treatment. You can do this! 

Item #77 (Graham Crackers, Saltines, Pretzels, Trail Mix, & Beef Jerky) These are great for the kids and I love them too. Stock up  and place in heavy plastic containers to help prevent rodents from getting in. 

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Here is a tip on keeping Saltine Crackers fresh:

Stay Fresh

If pantry pests, such as weevils, aren't an issue, you can store crackers in their original sealed packaging. Store crackers in an airtight bag, or glass or plastic container after opening the package; glass containers work best for keeping pests out of your crackers. You can store sealed crackers for up to eight months in a dark, cool pantry, but they retain their maximum freshness for only about one month after opening.

Refresh Stored Crackers

Heat can refresh crackers that lose their crispness but have no other signs of spoilage, such as mold or an off odor. Spread the crackers out in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake them in a 425-degree Fahrenheit oven for two to four minutes, or until they become crisp again. Store refreshed crackers in a sealed container.

Item #78 (Popcorn, Peanut Butter, Nuts, Jam and Jelly) We love all of these! Grab a large whole wheat tortilla, spread on Peanut Butter, add Banana and yum!!! Nuts, well we love them to. Always have about 10 cans on had at all times. You can never have enough nuts! Healthy and filling for you and your family. Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds and more. Make sure you have enough to last when you need them.

 

Item #79 Lumber. You will need this to repair buildings or make items that your family will need. Best to stock up when on sale or if someone is moving and doesn't want to take it with them. All sizes and all types as you never really know what you might need or when you will be needing it.

Item #80 Wagons, Wheelbarrows & Carts (For Transportation and Work). These are necessary items and can be picked up anytime you see them. We look at Estate Sales, End of Season Sales, pretty much if we find them at a good price then we will pick them up. Extra parts for these items are also great to have extra of. You never know when something is going to break down. 

Sorry about the delay in getting this post done. To many projects and not enough time. As always, let me know your thoughts and how your doing on getting your 100 Essentials list completed.

 

Wow! What a week...

This past week has been nothing more than interesting and frustrating at the same time. We just moved into our new home in the Portland area and we were suppose to close on 8/18, then 8/25 and finally closed on 9/7. We have had no internet but still able to look at Amp-3 orders on my phone and computer by using my Verizon Hot Spot. Can't print and email was spotty.

We have had several orders online and a couple phoned in. Needless to say, were a bit backed up. All orders should be shipped by Friday, September 15th. Several of our items come from Texas and that has also added to the delay. When it rains, it pours but God never puts more on your plate then you can handle.

If you waiting for an order, look for the tracking information by the end of the week. Thank you for your orders and your patience!!! 

Another new product for Amp-3!!!

 

Praying for Texas and Louisiana!!! 100 Essentials #66 to #70

Hope that you feel your getting some valuable information by following along. This week were on to Item #66 to #70.

Item #66 Board Games, Horseshoes, Cornhole, Dice, Playing Cards are just a few of our favorites. Check out your local Goodwill, Antique Store or make your own. These will help you pass the time while having fun with your family. Recently we were in Denver at the Brewery and played Corn Hole for over 2 hrs. Had a Blast!!! We're definitely making a few sets of these to have down at the ranch. 

#67 on my list os 100 Essentials are items to control pests. D-Con Rat Poison, Roach Killer, Wasp Spray, Mouse Traps, Ant Traps and so on. While we have been down at the ranch a lot this summer working on our barn, the yellow jackets, wasps and hornet nest are a consistent on the rafters of the barn. Here is the best solution that I have found to date. These babies work great and you can refill them easily, You Gone!!!

Item #68 Paper Plates, Napkins, Paper Towels, Plastic Cups and Plastic Utensils are easy and affordable to stock up on at your local Costco or other big box store. Clorex Wipes are also needed items to buy when ever you sell them. Stock up and Save!!!

Onto Item #69 Baby Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Antibacterial Soap are items need to keep you and your family clean. Do you know that the #1 issue for most folks will be hygiene and keeping clean. Wash your hands and keep the bacteria away as much as you can. This is going to be vital in staying alive. Look at Costco, The Dollar Store, Big Lots and so many of the big box stores will have what your looking for. Don't wait stock up today!

Item #70 Rain Boots, Waterproof Jackets, Waterproof Hats and Gloves. Items to keep you dry and  warm. Looking at the Devastation in Houston, TX I see so many folks walking around with out shoes and coats. This is a good way to cut your feet and get bacteria in those cuts. We are heartbroken about what is happening on the Texas Border and we are praying for the thousands of American's that have lost everything. 

We will be donating to Samaritans Purse, will you join us???

Click on this image if you wish to donate to help the victims of this historical disaster!

Click on this image if you wish to donate to help the victims of this historical disaster!

Here we go-100 Essentials #61 to #65!

First, are you following along??? Let me know if you are and how this is helping you be better Prepared! Leave me a comment...

Ok, well I am moving on the #61! Knives & Sharpening Tools (Files, Stones, Steel and Honing Oil) If you were to ask my brother Steve or David, my husband, you can never have enough knives. Here are just a few of my favorites!

BenchMade Knives! Why you might ask... Made in Oregon and simply one of the best knives made. I carry everyday the Griptillian®. When it comes to all around functionality, you can't beat it. There are more shapes, sizes and colors available in the Griptillian than any other product family from BenchMade. This is part of my Everyday Carry. This is with me 100% of the time...

Everyone has their favorite knife, this just happens to be mine. At the Sportsman Show here is Portland, OR a few years back, BenchMade was offering FREE engraving on any BenchMade Knife and I of course took advantage of that. 

Needless to say, I was really glad to have this back... Thank you Matthew! 

A sharp knife is safer than a dull one. It’s a lot less likely to slip off the potato you’re chopping and slice your finger instead. We will help you to get the Best Knife Sharpener for your home or professional use to make your knife sharp and well maintained.

There are three things you can use to make a knife “sharp”; sharpen using a Stone, Hone or Strop. Stone Sharpening is the process of actively removing material from the blade, creating a brand new razor-sharp beveled edge. Honing is realigning the edge of the blade; stropping is fine sharpening the blade with a leather material without removing any metal material thereby producing a very sharp edge. Stropping maximizes the amount of contact the edge has with the object being cut. The three are done for durability and precision, but to most knife users one substitutes all the rest summing it as Knife Sharpening systems. Here are a few of my favorites:

For electric knife sharpening, I use the Chef's Choice 1520 AngleSelect Diamond Hone Knife Sharpener. 

Now remember, where you choose to purchase your Preparedness items is up to you, I only give you options. You can purchase this sharpener at any good Kitchen store as well. Now on to Stones, Steel and Honing Oil. Every good Kitchen Knife Set comes with a Knife Sharpening Steel, I use mine from that set but here is another one you might think about.

Stock up on Honing Oil and Stones as well. Here are a few to choose from!

I am sure that you can get some of these items at your local Sporting Goods Store as well! Sportsman Warehouse, Cabela's or Bass Pro as well.

Item #62 on our list is something that we need to stock up on. We have our Bikes but they need to be tuned up and we have to make sure that we have in stock any spare parts that we might need. Tires, Tire Pump, Tubes, Brakes, and extra Chains are just a few. David has enough tools to fill an entire garage so that won't be a problem. We so many Bike Stores, you can choose the one that is closest to you and stock up. We love REI and take our Bikes there for the annual service. The time is now Pruett's get on it....

#63 is one of David's favorite tools. In 1985 I purchased a Stihl 032 AV chainsaw for about $500 and that has been a work horse. In the shop a few times, the latest to Webb's Farm Supplies about 3 months ago as it had been to a couple of other repair shops and they could do anything due to the age of the saw. Webb's fixed it and it's running like new. Webb's has been in business for over 100 years in the same location!

Not sure when were going to have to replace this old saw, but you can bet, were heading to Webb's to purchase the next one too. Stock up on all of the supplies needed for your saws like extra chains (David has 6 for this saw) Oil, Gas and Spark Plugs. You can never have enough and you won't be going to the store right away if you plan ahead!

Item #64 Sleeping Bags, Cots, Pads, Pillows, and extra Blankets! Have you tried "My Pillow" as of yet! We did and now we have about 20 of them! In the Camp we have six, we just purchased two small travel pillows at Costco before we headed to Denver. Each bedroom has at least four and if I have a little extra $$ and I am out and see them, I will pick up a few more.

Sleeping bags, we have about eight sleeping bags, four cots and six sleeping pads. When were down at the ranch, my brother Steve prefers to sleep in the barn on a cot with his sleeping bag. I do send these to the cleaners about every 6 months so they stay clean. You have to plan ahead so your never caught of guard.

Do your research and get the best bags that you can as you never know when you might be sleeping in them.

#65 Carbon Monoxide Alarms and extra batteries. These are available at any local home store.

Carbon monoxide (CO) has been called the "silent" and "invisible killer" because it's a scentless, colorless, and tasteless toxic gas. It's the number one cause of deathdue to poisoning in America. Any time you burn something—like gasoline, natural gas, wood, oil, propane, or charcoal—carbon monoxide is released into the air. In outdoor spaces, this usually isn't a health hazard because there is enough area to dissipate and particles never amount to a toxic level. The danger comes when carbon monoxide is released in a contained area like your home, RV, or garage.

You won't know from taste, smell, or sight that carbon monoxide is poisoning you, but your body will. If you have carbon monoxide poisoning, you may feel dizzy, become nauseous or throw up, develop a headache, get confused, and/or pass out.

Carbon monoxide detectors are a lot like smoke detectors, but instead of looking for signs of fire, they detect levels of carbon monoxide. Depending on the brand, detectors operate in one of three ways: with a biomimetic sensor, metal oxide semiconductor, or electrochemical sensor.

Biometric sensors use gels that change color after absorbing a certain amount of carbon monoxide. Metal oxide semiconductors have silica chips that send electrical signals to trigger an alarm. Electrochemical sensors are considered to be the best in the industry. They use chemical solutions and electrodes that release currents to sound an alarm.

You'll want to install carbon monoxide detectors like smoke detectors—on every level of your home. For areas with more carbon monoxide producing appliances, like your kitchen, garage, and basement, you should install multiple detectors.

 

 

We have and prefer the battery operated ones over the hardwired ones. No home should be without these!

 

A few new items!

Thank you so much for following along with my Blog! It's been really fun for me to share my 100 Essentials and then some. Here are a few new items to add, thank you for the phone call Mark and your question. Mark is a patriot first and in a wheelchair second. He call with one very simple question, so I thought about it and think that Mark might not be the only one with this problem.

As you might imagine, Mark is on some medications that he needs to keep with him all of the time. From time to time, they drop out of his pocket and then runs over them with his wheelchair. Huge problem! So I suggested that he get a few old 35mm film cans that have the screw top lids to store him meds in. Here is what I found!

Here are some with different sizes! Look how pretty!! HaHaHa

So many uses for these small containers! I might be buying a few for us for future uses too! Thank you Mark for the phone call and hope that this helps with what you might be looking for! 

Items #46 to #49 of my 100 Essentials

Life is all about being prepared for the next adventure! I hope that with my list of 100 Essentials, I am giving you some ideas and your preps are starting to stack up.

On we go with item #46 ( Garbage Cans, Garbage Bags and Lids) The galvanized cans are great to store your preps in and also make a great faraday cage. My thought is to use the Flex Seal, a rubberized material, sprayed into a small galvanized bucket and lid to create a faraday cage. Try this DIY project for yourself!

 

On to Item #47 ( Men's Hygiene) Shampoo, Razors, Mouthwash, Floss, Deodorant (Lots of this!!) Nail Clippers, Shaving Cream, eat...

With men working on keeping everything running on a ranch or farm, they still need to take care of themselves. Nothing worse then a SMELLY man!!! You know what I mean.

Just today, while at Portland Expo Center, I walked by a man that really needed Deodorant... Whew... Come on, you know you can smell it and no-one else wants to!

Onto a passion of mine, Cast Iron Cook Ware. I am talking about Dutch Ovens Pans, Pop Over Pans, Muffin Pans, Corn Bread Pans and so much more. These pans are the best for baking and cooking. If you haven't tried Cast Iron Cooking, I hope that you do. Here is another one of my recent favorites, Southern Cast Iron Magazine. You have to try the Rosemary Focaccia Bread. 

Have fun looking for vintage Cast Iron! Keep it clean, well oiled and out of the water. You will be handing this down from generation to generation. 

Item #49 Fishing Gear and Supplies! You will need fishing poles, line, lures, flies, tackle boxes, fishing nets, hooks, and sinkers. Stock up on all of these items will be very hard to get in times of need. Places like Sportsman Warehouse, Walmart, Cabelas or Fisherman's Warehouse are great places to stock up on all of these items. 

Be careful, once you start collecting Fishing Gear you will be HOOKED!!

When your looking for items to add to your preps, remember I am only giving you a option to purchase on Amazon. You have the choice to purchase where ever you wish so shop around and get the best price you can. 

Thank you for following along! Join me next week for more ideas for your 100 Essentials. 

100 Essential Items #42 to #45 (Keep stocking up)

Summer is going by fast and were moving forward with stocking up on your 100 Essentials. Remember you never know when you might need the items on this list. 

Item #42-Insulated Ice Chests are a must if you lose power and need someplace to store frozen and refrigerated food. We recently purchased the Kysek 25L Extreme Coolers (26.4 Qt) from Sportsman Warehouse to use at our ranch while building the barn. We add dry ice to the bottom, cover that with a plastic garbage bag, add ice and drinks and food. With this method, we can keep items cold for over a week. 

Yes, they are expensive but if it works, we feel the cost is well worth it! The Yeti is another great cooler but even more expensive.

Coolers are a great way to keep items frozen in the wintertime too!

Moving onto item #43 (Work Boots, Belts, Levi's & Durable Warm Shirts)

Keeping warm and dry in any situation will only make you fell better. Make sure to buy high quality clothing that will last for years to come. Warm Socks, Flannel Shirts, Wicking Clothing, ect...

Check out Duluth Trading Company if you need some great ideas. 

Duluth Flannel Shirts

Duluth Flannel Shirts

Flashlights, Lanterns, and Light Sticks are Item #44 on my list of 100 Essentials.

Just spent this weekend at the Portland Expo Center Antique Faire. So many preparedness items to be found at almost every booth. Love collecting Dietz Lanterns and they are so useful in any emergency situation. 

Flashlights are part of our EDC (Everyday Carry) and I always have one with me. Have you ever lost something in your car??? Get out your flashlight and you will find it in no time. I prefer small compact flashlights and preferably made in America. We love the flashlights from County Comm for this reason. 

Item #45 Journals, Diaries, Scrapbooks are helpful to keep track of your Journey. I would also add my Bible to this list as well as Pens, Pencils and writing paper. 

Well, with this list of items I am sure that you can think of a few on your own. Books of all kinds need to be in your library for your enjoyment as well as informational reading materials. 

I love Cast Iron Cooking so recently I have been adding more Cast Iron to my preps. Along with pans, dutch ovens, and a pop over pan, I have discovered Southern Cast Iron Magazine. Just ordered 4 more today. 

Really excited to share with you my 100 Essentials and so much more... See you next week!

Preparedness Items #37 to #41!

You might think that some of these items are a no brainer! Duh, but you have to ask yourself?? Do I have these stocked up and ready to go???

Probably not! We all think that these items are easy to get and why would I need to stock up on them? Good question but I even need to stock up on some of these items.

#37 Garlic, Spices, Vinegar and Baking Supplies. Big box stores like Costco, Cash & Carry or Sam's Club are great place to stock up on these items. Just go isle to isle and put them in your cart. Remembering to have enough for at least 2 years. Especially stock up on the ones you use the most. Some  of these stores you can also order online! Check them out here...

 

Item #38 is Pet Supplies! Make sure you have enough Pet Food, Pet Treats and all other pet supplies for 2 years. Feed you pets the highest quality pet foo that you can afford and your pets will thank you for that. Don't forget about medications that your pet may need as well.

#39 Flour Yeast, Salt & Pepper! Check the stores out above for this items. For David, we need to have a 5 year supply of Pepper as he can never have enough!!

#40 Wooden Match Sticks and Propane Lighters. Every time I go to Cash & Carry, I add these items to my cart so I know that I will never be without. 

#41 Writing Paper, Pads, Pencils, Sharpies and Solar Calculators. You might want to consider Rite in the Rain Paper as we live in the Pacific Northwest and it rains here a lot! Stock up on these items as they might be a good bargaining item in the future.

 

That's all for now! Thank you so much for following along and I will see you again next week.

Amp-3 Outfitter!! Wound Care & Suturing Kit!! (Item #34 & #35)

Well, were moving forward with our list of 100 Essentials this week with our Amp-3 Outfitter and Wound Care & Suture Kits. Item #34 the Amp-3 Outfitter is the most Comprehensive Medical Kit on the market and the only one Made in the USA! 

This kits goes for Trauma to Dental in our Clinic in a Roll. Weighing just under 8 lbs rolled up and ready to go. Put together our Mastering Your Med Kit DVD ($35) that goes over pocket by pocket on how to use everything in our kit. Our customer made bag is David's design and manufactured in the USA. We pack most of our Modules in LokSak's that are also made in the USA! LokSak's are Waterproof down to 200 ft and completely air tight.

With so many choices for Medical Kits on the market. This is the only one designed by a ER Doctor with materials that he actually uses. This product was two years in the making and is now one of our Signature Kits. Currently priced at $395, available in ACU Digital, Coyote Brown, Black, Burnt Orange and Red. 

Item #35 is Wound Care & Suture Kits. David being a ER Doc, our Wound Care and Suture Kit is more comprehensive then any other kit on the market and Made in USA. Our Survival Suturing DVD, goes over Wound Care,  as well as when to suture and when NOT to suture. 

Hoping that these two kits will add some needed essentials for your Preparedness. 

Well that's it for this week, thank you for following along and supporting Amp-3!!!

Wow! We have moved... Moving forward with 100 Essentials

This past month has been so crazy with moving to a rental house, Preppercon 4 days after, home for a week and off to a very cold Prosser, WA event, and Grants Pass Sustainable Preparedness Expo.

Now it's time to get back to the business of getting Prepared! Clothes Pins/Clothes Line/Hangers are #31. This can be as simple as paracord with clothes pins. In the house that we are currently renting there is a cloths line in the back yard. Have you ever been to a hotel where their is one in the shower?? We have! 

If you grew up when I did in the 60's and 70's, you might have had one in your back yard. I don't know why, buy things always smell better when the warm sunshine and wind make them dry. Give it a try if the rain ever stops...

 

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Item #32 Coleman Pump Repair Kit for $12.99 includes the following:  includes everything you need to repair the pump on your fueled lantern: a plunger assembly, pump cap, pump cap clip, push-on nut and cushioning spring. This kit fits most Coleman® lantern and stove models except 222, 226, 229, 400, 440, 442, 445, 450, 550, 3022 and 3024. Look on Amazon for this as well and maybe some local camping stores. 

Item #33 Fire Extinguishers for all types of fires. These are easily obtainable at a Big Box Store, Cash and Carry ect... Make sure that you have what you need for when you might need it. Large Boxes of Baking Soda in every room as well. Stock up so that you have what you might need. A case or two on hand might not be a bad idea. 

Families use Baking Soda in hundreds of different ways. It cleans, deodorizes, helps bake up perfect cookies, and more! Safe around kids and pets, no other product does more throughout your home…all for under $1. 

• Sprinkle a little in smelly shoes to deodorize them

• Make a paste to gently scrub away scuffs and crayon marks from walls. 

• Sprinkle on a damp sponge to clean stainless all around the kitchen without scratching

• Mix a pinch with your facial cleanser for a gentle, yet effective, exfoliant

• Sprinkle on carpets, wait 15 minutes, then vacuum up smells

• And much more

Baking Soda is natural, so it’s no surprise ARM & HAMMER™ is the product of choice!

Sorry for the delay in getting back to posting my weekly Blog! Life happens and time just slips away. Don't delay on getting your family prepared! A little bit every week and in no time you will be better prepared for what might come your way! Stay tuned for next week. Thank you for following along!

Gardening with Lucinda Bailey! Texas Ready Seed Banks

This week I am so excited to have a guest Blogger, my very good friend Lucinda Bailey of Texas Ready Seed Banks. Spring is almost here in the Pacific Northwest so get your garden ready with this fantastic post from Lucinda!

WHEN TO PLANT

It is recommended that you obtain your area’s exact spring and fall “frost” dates–they will be different for individual counties. Don’t go from memory. Check on the internet by typing FROST DATES + your zipcode.  Or contact your Agri-Life County Extension Agent and/or the Master Gardener program at the same office. They will have the right dates. Call them—your tax dollars pay for their services.

 

The dates for my county are March 17 and November 15 – but what does that mean? If I were to set plants out, either by seed or six inch transplanted seedlings, on March 17, I have a ten percent chance of there being a freeze, which in turn, could kill any plants which are frost sensitive. A ten percent risk is one I can live with. Freeze dates DO NOT mean that it can’t or won’t freeze after that date. Regarding the fall frost date, I have a ninety percent chance that my crops will experience a freeze after November 16 each year—therefore; I plan the spring planting and concluding harvest dates accordingly. The appendix in All New Square Foot Gardening is excellent as it illustrates when to start seeds in trays, when to transplant, how long it takes for the individual plants to mature and when you should harvest.

 

Obviously, frost dates are guidelines, and Mother Nature has a mind of her own. Thus far, this winter has been extremely mild in my area, so I was willing to bump up my planting date by about thirty days. If we did experience a freeze, there would still be time to reseed or replant. I have plenty of reserve seed and know I’m taking a slight risk. There were two days in the mid-forties, so I have had to replant cucumbers and melons. Everything else flourished. Tomatoes, which are very sensitive, I kept in the hoop house because to regrow them from seed is very time consuming.


In addition to the risk of planting too early, there is also a risk in waiting too long to plant. For example, peppers, don’t set fruit well if the nights are hotter than 70 degrees F.  

 

 

PREPARE YOUR BEDS

You can do this even if your last frost date is a couple of months away.

 

1)     If you haven’t done this already, clean up all the previous garden debris. Send it to the compost heap. Because we teach survival gardening, Texas Ready does not recommend loose mulch, broken up leaves or grass clippings on the surface of your garden beds. We don’t want to provide bugs a place to hide.

 

2)     Take a forked tool (a rake won’t get deep enough) and lightly loosen the soil to a depth of eight inches. If you see squirmy little worms or grubs, kill them. If you have chickens either give them the worms and grubs as a treat, or better yet, assuming you can fence them away from whatever may be growing in your garden, let them scratch around in your beds. They’ll become virtual “rototillers” with an attitude. I prefer this strategy because it gives my twenty hens a little exercise and they avoid the boredom of living confined in a pen.

 

3)     Get a metal window screen—I use one about 2’ x 3’ in size, and a wheelbarrow. Head for the compost heap. I am a lazy composter—meaning I don’t turn my pile like I should—I simply take four inches of finished compost from the bottom of the stack once a year. I put a few shovel fulls on top of the screen and sift the soil into the wheelbarrow, sending back to the compost heap anything that didn’t fall through the screen. The result is a very fine top dressing which my plants love. Alternatively, using the Mittleider Gardening method of 75% sawdust combined with 25% course sand, I level the soil in my garden boxes (aka raised beds).

 

4)     Take the wheelbarrow full of beautiful soil and spread enough to bring the beds up to the top of the 8” boards. We recommend that your garden boxes (aka raised beds) utilize 2x8 pressure treated boards. The pressure treating process is now safe—twenty years ago this was not the case. Eight inches of material is enough to prevent the sun’s UV rays from activating perennial weed rhizomes.    

 

5)     Repeat the process until all your beds are ready. Lightly water the top dressing in. Repeat the watering process when you notice the beds are dry. Now the hard work has been done and the fun can begin.

 

6)     If you are an over achiever, 6 weeks before frost date, get some heavy plastic painters drop cloths. Get at least a 12 foot square one. Cut it in half. Put it over your beds, securing the sides with heavy objects like bricks or boards. You are now going to let the sun solarize your soil. This will irradiate some garden pests (insect, fungi and viruses) and kill weed seeds at the same time.

 

MAKE YOUR OWN POTTING SOIL

You’ll want a basic potting mix—your box stores have this (expensive). You don’t want a lot of fertilizer built into this soil. If there is a lot of nitrogen the seedlings can get leggy and the stem won’t ever be able to support future fruit. (In gardening terminology, we call all that plants produce for us to eat “fruit”—even if the plant is a vegetable. Go figure.)

 

Or you can make your own, like I do from a recipe obtained from Rodale’s Institute for Organic Growing.

Make sure that any chicken or horse manure has been aged at least a year (preferably two) and that your compost heap was heated to at least 140 degrees F for about two weeks so weed seeds will not germinate.

 

4 parts finely screened compost from one year old shredded leaves and aged animal manure

1 part perlite

1 part vermiculite

2 parts peat moss

 

You’ll want to mix this outdoors in a wheelbarrow. Lightly moisten the ingredients to keep the dust down. I like this mix because there is a good balance between moisture retention and good drainage. Without good drainage you will struggle with “damping-off” which is a fungal disease that causes newly germinated seedlings to weaken, topple over and die. I like using finely shredded leaf compost because that way you get a timed release of good nutrition.

 

Wow! This is a lot of information! Next week we will continue with Lucinda and more on getting your garden growing. Want to see Lucinda live??? She will be with us at two Preparedness Expos in May! Prosser, WA and Grants Pass, OR. 

Lucinda Bailey-Owner of Texas Ready Seed Banks