To be prepared for a crisis, every Prepper must establish goals and make long-term and short-term plans. Steadily, we work on meeting our prepping goals. In this column, the SurvivalBlog editors review their week’s prep activities. They also often share their planned prep activities for the coming week. These range from healthcare and gear purchases to gardening, property improvements, and food storage. This is something akin to our Retreat Owner Profiles, but written incrementally and in detail, throughout the year. We always welcome you to share your own successes and wisdom in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!
Dear SurvivalBlog Readers:
We’ve had a very busy week at the Rawles Ranch. I did some more woodcutting and slash hauling. We also took a full day at mid-week to do some cattle hauling. Thankfully there was no obstinate livestock rodeo drama. No muss, no fuss.
I also continued my earthwork project.
Avalanche Lily Reports:
It has been very hot here in our part of the American Redoubt. Thankfully this past week we had a small thundershower that drenched everything very nicely, at least for a day. I like small thunderstorms with no to little lightening and lots of rain, because we don’t want them starting forest fires.
Our guests departed this week. Before they left I took them site seeing and berry picking high up in our surrounding mountains. We picked about three cups worth of Thimbleberries, some Huckleberries and over a gallon’s worth of Elderberry. I have made jam with the Thimbles and the guests took the Hucks with them. I still have to process the Elderberries and freeze them. I will make syrup with them at a later date.
In the garden and greenhouse, I have been harvesting seeds from the Kale I planted in the greenhouse last fall, and from volunteer Kale in the garden. I’m cutting the flowered seed fronds and put them loosely into open used grain sacks and put them in a safe dry area to finish drying. Later, when they are dried, I’ll beat them until they drop their seeds into the grain sack, then bag them up for next summer. There are so many seeds that I’ll have a great supply for both plants and sprouting. It is very important to let a portion of your non-hybrid “greens” go to seed for subsequent years.
Also, the bed from where the kale was located will be turned over and more manure brought in and I’ll plant more seeds for the fall garden during this coming week.
I have harvested two small rows of yellow onions, and plan to harvest a few more rows and turn that area into some winter beds with hoops. I will develop the plan and tell you more about it later.
May you all have a very blessed and productive week
Many Blessings to All, – Jim Rawles and Avalanche Lily, Rawles
The Latimers will be working on some garden modifications as well as beginning our peach harvest this week. The peaches have been covered and tied up numerous times to protect them from late freezes, floods, wind, and hail. In spite of all of this, it looks like we should have a decent harvest. Just today, we had our first delicious peach off of the tree. There were only a few at peak ripeness today but within the week we anticipate bushels. Also, our experiment with red plastic under our tomatoes has been unquestionably a failure. The tomatoes grown outside the plastic are much healthier, larger, and producing more tomatoes than those in the plastic. We find that the plastic is too thin to block sunlight or prevent weeds from growing underneath it and the holes we made to transplant the tomatoes are not large enough to allow us to adequately fertilize the plants and their roots. Some of the plants in the plastic have died and been replaced with plants from the original germination pots. Now those replacements are relatively small and sickly in comparison. We can only speculate that it may be because of our high desert heat and light intensity that the tomatoes have done poorly in the red plastic, but we will be removing all of the red plastic, weeding around all of the tomato plants, and fertilizing them this week. It’s our hope that the tomato plants will recover and be able to thrive once they have a weed-free, fertilized area within which to grow.
Drip System Woes
We also discovered an issue with the drip system. Our well pumps a bit of sand and since the drip system can’t handle any sand in it, there are numerous filters. Coming right off the main supply line, the feeds to the various garden areas have a fine filter. This filter typically plugs up once or twice during the year and is easy to clean out. You just shut the water pressure off, remove the cleanout cover and turn the water on. They self flush. However, after the water passes through the electric valves (for the timer), each feed then has another screen filter where the feed hose attaches directly to the drip system. This filter has been plugging up nearly every other day. To clean this filter, the connection has to be broken, the screen removed and flushed and then everything put back together again. It shouldn’t be catching stuff. It’s just there as a “just-in-case” sort of thing.
It appears that the black rubber hose between the valve and the filter has something growing in it. It looks like a grey colored slime of some sorts. When I discovered this, I broke the connections apart and turned the water full on, flushing the hoses out. Full water pressure will push about 25 gallons per minute and is quite forceful when coming from a 5/8 inch hose. Hopefully that took care of it, but I’ve not seen this sort of thing before. If it continues, I’ll have to remove the hoses and flush them with bleach water to kill whatever is growing there.
o o o
As always, please share your own successes and hard-earned wisdom in the Comments.
Not much new here. Summer seems so different without a garden; however God is supplying all the free veggies we can eat!
Wood is still being cut, hauled and split. I continue working on a quilt, the fur throws (found that I had yet another old fur coat tucked away), and making a bedside rug to warm toes in winter. And than there is massive mending. Not exciting stuff, but essential for getting through winter warm and cozy!
We have been very successful in increasing our physical endurance for the family! It’s a good thing, especially as middle age is upon some of us!
Our spring planted garden is just about done. The okra is still producing more than we can eat. Our beans, corn, peas etc. have all been canned. Working on shelling and properly storing all the dried bean, pea, and various other seeds we save to be planted next year. We’ve had enough rain this year to make a good crop, but not so much as to rot our seeds while still on the plants that we pick to save as dried seed to plant next year. Took some calves to local auction today. Hay equipment is all ready to start baling second cutting of hay. Need a couple weeks without rain to harvest hay. Cleaned out hay barn and stored all of last years surplus hay outside under plastic to make room for our next cutting. I save lots of hay each year since the last bad drought we had. Our pencil cob corn and pop corn is almost dry enough to pick. The pencil cob is an heirloom variety that makes excellent corn meal. All of our cows are really fat due to all the rain and abundant grass we have this year. I have my eye on a fat young bull calf to butcher when the weather turns cooler. Our Muscovy ducks have produced about 30 young ducks this year. Hope to butcher a few drakes when the weather turns cooler. Those duck breasts sliced across the grain and flowered and fried taste almost identical to white tailed deer back strap.
I hope to bush hog the garden next week and disc to plant our fall garden. Turnips, mustard, kale, spinach, sweet corn, purple hull peas and several kinds of onions.
There are many variables in gardening in general and tomatoes are no different. However, here are some ideas that might help. I don’t know if you’re dealing with determinates or indeterminates. I have thus far grown indeterminate tomatoes, which grow to be 10 feet high and have to be staked. They produce all summer here, if I plant them in the shade. Determinate tomatoes have long since produced and died back here. Next year, I plan to plant some determinates for early tomatoes, so we aren’t waiting half the year before getting some. But the indeterminates live through the he summer if we plant them in the shade.
For keeping down weeds and grass, look into the mulch method, with straw or hay. It doesn’t work perfectly, but it is a good solution in some ways. It builds up the soil, and can be filled in, instead of needing to be removed. Don’t use wood chips. They seep too much nitrogen from the plants. Hay or straw is good. You can use newspaper or paper feed sacks under the straw/hay to mulch out weeds. The tomatoes we plant in the garden get planted on raised rows, since we live in a very wet area. Since you’re in a dry area, maybe you could do ok with planting them flat, which would be far easier to mulch, and wouldn’t dry out as bad.
My bugout vehicle project is coming along. The 1986 M1009 CUCV I acquired back in March is slowly being turned it back into a daily driver. On a different note, I got lucky a few weeks ago and found the top, bottom and lid to an early version Big Berkey at GoodWill for twelve dollars and was able to hit a sale on Berkey’s website. So I went ahead and ordered filters as well as a replacement spigot but the one with the sight glass. The old spigot was pretty calcified and in desperate need of new gaskets. I have been wanting a Big Berkey for some time now and it was in the plans to make my own from five gallon buckets now I can shelve that project for a much later date. The next few days I have off I am going to be going through my Get Home Bag and my Bug Out/INCH Bag as it is that time of year for me. Reviewing, evaluating, recycling and replacing the contents. After awhile you forget what you have packed and where. So it is also a refresher.
Your slime could be Iron reducing bacterial slime. We get this in toilets, hot water heaters, and Big Berkey’s in the mid Atlantic area from some wells. Your conditions are certainly different, but is it a common cause of slime buildup. Chlorox doesn’t really remove it, it is a manual process, but the chlorine can help to prevent buildup ahead of time. Jim
So far, my experiment using squash to shade our west-facing kitchen is a mixed success. The leaves are enormous, covering much of the west wall and a quarter of the roof. Blessed shade…cool kitchen. However, only two fruit have set. At least two that I have seen.
We have a summer kitchen (small woodburning setup out back for cooking greens, canning, and other heat-intensive processes) that keep us from generating heat in the kitchen. Now, that is working great. Been doing it for two decades. And yes, the cooking pots for the summer kitchen are covered with soot.