Letter: Storing the Right Seeds for Your Climate Zone



I wish that seed storage recommendations touched on what agricultural climate zone they are best used. Seeds that work in Idaho might not do so well in Georgia. – R.V.

HJL’s Reply: SurvivalBlog has long been a proponent of gardening now rather than waiting until TEOTWAWKI. This is a prime example of why this is important. You might live in an area where you can stick any ol’ seed into the ground and not care for it. But my guess is that you don’t. Gardening is difficult and you have to learn what works in your area and what doesn’t. Climate zones can be tricky, and that makes seed selection crucial. I highly recommend that anyone starting out read our extensive collection of gardening articles for more information.

The Good-Enough Cheapskate Garden, by J.D.

Cheapskate Garden

Easiest, Cheapest, and Quickest Gardening Option

You have some garden options that include a “good-enough cheapskate garden”. You could buy a bunch of stuff, get special ground covering, and mark it every two inches. Then you could buy poles, and notch then five feet up, and then prepare your soil by double digging. (Make sure to plant at the setting sun, and on and on.) Even if I had the time, money, strength, and patience for all the instructions I have read over the years, I’m just rebel enough to try the easiest, cheapest, and quickest way to get it in the ground and get it growing.

My Experience

I’ve spent years gardening in hot sunny areas, super cold snowy locations, and now somewhere in the middle. It is possible to grow in any of these locales with a minimum of work and money.

I know there are some people … Continue reading

Growing Potatoes From True Potato Seeds, by ShepherdFarmerGeek

Potato Seeds

Take a quick look at this clever video (1:47) describing the advantages of growing potatoes from potato seed.

Advantages of Growing Potatoes From Seed

Using traditional cross-breeding techniques, a company in the Netherlands named Solynta (So-lynn’-ta) has developed a line of potatoes that reliably produce “true potato seed” (“TPS”). Most potato seeds have a lot of genetic diversity, which is not a bad thing for home gardeners. They produce potatoes with varying sizes and colors, so they’re unsuitable for commercial production.

Less than one ounce of their seed can be planted in place of 5,500 pounds of “seed tuber” potatoes that would otherwise need to be cut up into pieces and planted. The seeds are lightweight, compact, and will last in storage several years. I don’t know if they’ll survive freezing. But how hard could it be to protect a thimbleful of seeds that could … Continue reading

The Editors’ Preps for the Week of June 12th, 2017


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 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 also welcome you to share your planned activities for increasing personal preparedness in the coming week. (Leave a Comment with your project details.) Let’s keep busy and be ready!


At the Rawles Ranch we are in full Summer Mode, which usually means lots of gardening, fencing,  and construction projects.  Since we live at a fairly northern latitude, the days are very long when we get close to the … Continue reading

Letter: Gaining Familiarity With Your Prepping Equipment

Having basic camping supplies is a great insurance to have, just in case. It can be both camping and prepping equipment. Your tent, sleeping bag, outdoor cooking supplies, and forms of electricity-free entertainment, are all ripe for testing, as well. The last thing you want to do, in an emergency, is realize that there’s something you need and/or have overlooked. And testing your equipment doesn’t have to be a complicated ordeal. In my case, I had a friend invite me over for backyard camping, for their birthday. Great! So I brought my camping equipment in order to test it out.

My Tent Experiences

The tent was small, quick, and easy to assemble. You may decide to buy for comfort, or get a larger size, in order to accommodate a family. In my case, I decided that ease of set-up was what I was going for. It may be helpful to … Continue reading

Editors’ Prepping Progress

Prepping Garden

As preppers work to make progress to achieve prepping goals, we took some actions this week too. The SurvivalBlog editors made plans earlier in the week and now reflect upon these. At this time of year, gardening is at the top of our lists. Below, the editors share what we each accomplished. Please write to us in the comments and tell us what you did this week to get your preps in place and to be ready.


Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,
My, what a busy, wonderful week!  We had beautiful weather during the beginning of the week and rain at the end of the week.

Outdoor Skills Acquisition

First of all, we worked on boating safety and paddling skills in the river that flows through the Rawles’ Ranch, several times.  One of those times was with friends.   That day was a beautiful day and a … Continue reading

The Editors’ Preps for the Week of May 29th, 2017


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 will share their planned prep activities for the coming week, ranging from healthcare and purchases to property improvements and food storage. We also welcome you to share your planned activities for increasing personal preparedness in the coming week in the Comments. Let’s keep busy and be ready!


Dear SurvivalBlog Readers,
This week, the weather is expected to be warm and sunny. Finally, summer  has arrived to the northern portion of the American Redoubt. It is glorious and we are rejoicing to be living mostly outdoors!  Our family has no off-ranch obligations this week. Therefore, Lily and the children, specifically, can dedicate the whole week to prepping activities. Hooray!

Ranch Infrastructure Maintenance and Projects

Jim will continue the plumbing and … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 4, by B. C.

Element Number Five: Permaculture and Perennial Crops

Annual crops may make up the bulk of your food and take the most of your labor when you are survival gardening. However, a critical part of our sustainable farm is the use of perennial crops, which actually give you more return on your investment than the yearly planting and production of annuals. The great thing about most perennials is that you plant them once, and they produce for several years. You don’t have to worry about what time of year the apocalypse starts; they are there waiting for you year after year. For that reason, perennial crops are an essential element for the survival gardener.

I’m not going to go into specifics, but perennial crops include some vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, as well as small fruits and tree crops. Producing tree fruit east of the Mississippi is tough to … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 3, by B.C.

Element Number Three: Irrigation

A downside to growing in greenhouses and high tunnels is that you have to have access to water and a way to irrigate these crops. That can be a positive, as it motivates you to build a system that you can use for your field crops as well. Even in the eastern U.S. where we farm, our irrigation is used every year. Rainfall seldom comes exactly when you need it, and having a way to irrigate your crops is the difference between being subject to droughts and being able to produce a crop every single year.

For a small greenhouse and high tunnel, you can, for the most part, just run a garden hose from whatever water source you use for your house. If you are dependent on a public water supply, it is a good idea to have a backup system for truly sustainable … Continue reading

Letters Re: The Human-Powered Veggie Garden, by J.A.



To be successful, the gardener needs to know about their local soil. We have taught vegetable gardening down in South Florida. Often it is more manageable to build a raised garden. Since our soil is about 2” to 4″ before we hit coral rock, we are more successful with the raised garden. This also applies to other poor soiled areas. And if the soil quality is controlled, so are pests. The better the soil, the sweeter the yield. – ebec.usa

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The only thing that I would add is to include a spading fork to the essential tools list. An initial loosening of the ground with a spading fork is useful if your ground is clay heavy. – J.A.

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Great letter on gardening by hand. Another invaluable tool to get now is a high quality, all steel broadfork. … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 2, by B. C.

Heating the Greenhouse (continued)

We’ve got a small solar system on one of our chicken tractors that can be switched over to control the thermostat on the heater and the exhaust fan if we lose electricity long-term in the greenhouse. If we need to, we can move the woodstove back in, but for now this system works well. No matter what kind of heating system you choose, having a backup plan makes you sleep easier at night. At minimum have a kerosene heater and a few cans of fuel on hand that you can move into the greenhouse for a night or two if your main heat or electricity goes out. It will save a greenhouse full of plants and a season’s worth of food.

Temporary Greenhouses and Tunnels

Instead of a permanent wooden or metal-framed greenhouse, you can use a less expensive, temporary greenhouse design made from PVC. However, … Continue reading

Key Elements for Self-Sufficient Gardening – Part 1, by B. C.

I was blessed to grow up on a farm and later was fortunate to be able to receive an advanced degree in Agriculture. For the last 15 years my wife and I have been running a small diversified farm where we produce vegetables, fruit, and animal products for local markets and a C.S.A. (Community Supported Agriculture). During this time we’ve spent several years in several countries doing agricultural mission work, seeing how the rest of the world feeds itself, and doing our part to assist them with that.

Over time we’ve worked hard to turn our own 30-acre farm into a self-sufficient property. My goal has been to see our farm as one that could feed my family and other families far into the future if “the front gate gets shut and locked.” As SurvivalBlog readers are well aware, this seems to be more of a possibility with every … Continue reading

Letter Re: The Human-Powered Veggie Garden, by J.A.


I would offer these suggestions to enhance the ease of preparation of the garden area. First, double digging the ground is a tried and true method, but it can be labor intensive. This can present a challenge to older persons or anyone with physical limitations. An alternative would be to use the layered or “lasagna” approach to change the sod into a garden. The book Lasagna Gardening by Patricia Lanza covers this in detail, but a brief summary is to cover the grass with wet newspapers or cardboard and then build up layers of compostable material, allowing enough time to decay before planting. This kills the grass and helps to soften the earth below to make digging and planting much easier. One possible disadvantage is that the layers may not build enough heat to act as a compost pile, so weed seeds could still germinate . If … Continue reading

Letters Re: The Human-Powered Veggie Garden



Try straw bale gardening. It’s a lot less work and very productive. I had more tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers than I could handle in my first season. It also takes up less space and saves the back pain of bending over so far or kneeling to weed or trim et cetera. You can garden on your patio or roof, or just about anywhere. I’m 68, and I’ll never use another method of gardening. Note! Use straw bales, not hay! – GSS

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Respectfully, double digging is a bad idea. It will destroy the soil structure. It is an idea left over from times when heavy chemical fertilization and peat moss were used in suburban gardens. It destroys the microorganisms in the soil as well as the natural soil structure. Adding 2-3 inches of compost on top of the soil each year is much healthier for the … Continue reading

The Human-Powered Veggie Garden- Part 2, by J.A.


Deep Digging and Rock Removal

The second round of digging is the hardest work of the whole project. The process is much like the first round, except the goal is to be able to bury the whole head of your shovel in loose soil when you are done. This time, if you hit a rock in the process of achieving that, it has to go. As you back up, some of the rocks will expose an edge you can get under with the shovel. This is where buying good tools, and sharpening your shovel is really going to pay off. Use the shovel to poke under an exposed edge of a stone to create leverage and pry it out. You may have to go slightly off track or attack from a different angle, but if you stick with it for a few seconds, you will find … Continue reading