Speed Up Composting and Improve the Soil in Your Survival Garden

If you’ve read Mel Bartholomew’s All New Square Foot Gardening, you’ll remember he recommends organic compost from more than one source for your soil. That means not just manure, but several kinds of organic matter.

That’s because you get a good variety of textures and microbes to enrich your soil. When you compost at home, you’ll have a good variety of organic materials in your compost.

Adding in more organic compost each year re-energizes your survival garden. When you feed the soil, ultimately you’re feeding your plants, too. They’ll have fewer diseases and pests and produce more wholesome, better tasting food for you and your family.

But, if you’re like me, you wish composting didn’t take so long to produce that fluffy black soil. You want to speed up the composting process and add beneficial bacteria and other microbes to your compost.

What you need is items like composters, including bokashi composters and worm composting kits, glacial rock dust and other natural composting products, like what they have at EarthEasy.com. Click on the Composting category to see their selection.

One of my readers suggested a way some gardeners use to get a head start on composting.

Start your compost indoors with a container in the kitchen. The warmth indoors helps to speed up the process. Then at planting time you have the compost to put on your garden.

You don’t need to take kitchen materials ouside each day. Just put them in the bin.

Here’s the bottom line on composting. Feed the soil, and you’ll feed yourself.


Growing Strawberries in Your Survival Garden

Who doesn’t love strawberries?

For a berry sweet success story, and to get guidance for growing strawberries in your survival garden, check out the article excerpt below from “Backwoods Home Magazine,” Issue #162, November/December, 2016.

Growing strawberries

By Patrice Lewis

As you read this, the wind may well be howling and the snow piling deep, and you’re likely curled up next to the woodstove with a mug of tea at your elbow. However, it’s never too soon to plan for next year’s garden.

So let’s talk strawberries. We love strawberries. This past summer, we harvested 160 pounds.

Read the whole article here:

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine.
http://www.backwoodshome.com (541)247-8900.

Find heirloom seeds and gardening supplies for growing strawberries and more by going to the Survival Gardening Page in the DestinySurvival Prep Mart.


Livestock on Your Homestead – A Model of Productivity and Stealth

If you’re raising animals for meat protein, you’ll want to see how Rick Austin does it. When it comes to livestock on your homestead, he sets forth a model of productivity and stealth.

Rick is my guest on DestinySurvival Radio this week to talk about Secret Livestock of Survival. Below I’ll tell you about his book as well as give a few hints of what we talked about.

View what I’ve written about a couple of Rick’s previous DestinySurvival Radio visits and his two other books by going here and here.

The Stealthy Homesteader

If you’re not familiar with Rick, here’s some background info.

“Rick Austin is known as the Survivalist Gardener, and is a preparedness, homesteading and off grid living expert. He is the author of Secret Garden of Survival–How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest which is now the #1 Best Selling book in Garden Design.

“Rick is also the author of the Secret Greenhouse of Survival–How to Build the Ultimate Homestead and Prepper Greenhouse and Secret Livestock of Survival – How to Raise the Very Best Choices for Retreat and Homestead Livestock.

“Rick is a nationally recognized speaker on survival preparedness and has been featured on National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Castle, Doomsday Preppers, the documentary film Beyond Off Grid, as well as in Newsweek, American Survival Guide, Prepper &Shooter, Prepare Magazine, and in Mother Earth News (three times).

“You can also hear Rick on his #1 rated radio show- Secrets of a Survivalist -on the #1 Preparedness Radio Network, where each week he talks with the world’s best survival experts that share their own secrets of survival.”

The Guiding Philosophy

Rick says he likes to think outside the box. That sounds cliche, but he puts it into practice.

Just like in Rick’s previous two books in this series, Secret Livestock of Survival, will show you how to grow your own sources of food–in this case protein–with a much better return on your investment of time, money, feed, housing and real estate, than with traditional homestead thinking. Plus, these livestock animals are discrete, so most people won’t even know you are raising them.


Secret Livestock of Survival


The Brief Overview

This is an easy to read, enjoyable book, loaded with colorful pictures. Each chapter is a mini primer. Of course, many books can be, and have been, written on the subject covered in each chapter.

Rick begins by making the case for organic, sustainably grown food. It’s simply healthier than conventionally produced and processed food. He’s so passionate about this that he couldn’t help but talk about it during the first few minutes of our conversation.

In the first chapter he summarizes what his first two books are about as a way of establishing his credentials for what he presents. He also covered a little of this when we spoke.

Homesteading can be labor intensive, but Rick has found a number of labor saving, cost cutting ways to do it. As a result, you’ll find numerous sensible gems throughout the book, including recommended resources. He refers readers to several YouTube videos he has produced.

What you’ll find in this book isn’t theory. It’s clear as you read that Rick writes from his own experience. If you’re a homesteader or farmer, you may agree or disagree with some of what you read; but he’s doing what works for him. Thus, he recommends it to his intended readers because it can work for them as well.

It’s clear Rick carefully thinks through what he does. Stealth is important. So is strategy. The animals on Rick’s homestead are part of his method to grow wholesome food without chemicals and fertilizers while keepin it all hidden in plain sight.

Rick is blessed to have a wife (Survivor Jane) who supports what they’re doing. She pitches in to cook wonderful meals, can their abundant produce, make cheese and other dairy items, and more.

Uncounted synergistic relationships are in play on Rick’s property. You’ll recognize it as permaculture.

The Productive Livestock

Animals (and insects) mentioned in the book are ranked in order of return on investment and work. Rick is also quite selective about the animal breeds he raises.

It might sound strange at first, but something as simple as placing the barn closer to the house can make a big difference in animal care.

Meat onl the hoof, or on the foot, is how Rick gets around the problem of freezing and storing meat. In other words, butcher when you need to, rather than set aside a large supply of meat.

Rabbits – They’re easy to raise and are a good meat source. Can you conceive of 90 rabbits a year, each producing 12 pounds of meat?

In the book you’ll find tips on housing, breeding and butchering them. Rick tells how he provides his rabbits with food that replaces what normally comes from the feed store. For example, ever thought of feeding rabbits with barley sprouts?

Honey bees – They help with pollenation and, of course, produce honey. If keeping bees isn’t your thing, Rick suggests asking a local beekeeper to put hives on your place and care for them. You can divide the honey produced.

But he strongly encourages you to raise bees for yourself. It’s easier than you might think, and it’s a good investment.

Ducks – Rick prefers ducks for their eggs more so than for their meat. They lay more eggs than chickens. He has built a duck tractor, similar to a chicken tractor, for his young ducks.

Goats – Nigerian Dwarf goats are Rick’s preferred breed. He raises them for milk, rather than meat. Imagine a gallon and a half per day from three dairy goats. He says their milk doesn’t taste “goaty.” He and his wife preserve all that milk by making cheeses, yogurt, butter and ice cream.

Fish – Aquaponics is a trendy and intriguing way to raise fish and plants, but it is demanding and less appealing to Rick than digging and pond and stocking it with fish.

Chickens – Rick isn’t a fan of raising chickens, in spite of their popularity. They don’t produce meat as efficiently as rabbits, and they don’t lay as many eggs as ducks. His wife has a rare allergy to duck eggs, which is the reason he has chickens.

Pigs – While pigs are a meat animal, they’re farther down Rick’s ranked list. Butchering and processing are quite labor intensive. Nonetheless, like his other chapters, there’s good info in the one on raising pigs.

Nature’s Bounty – The chapter on hunting is short. While many idealize hunting, it’s not the best meat source for your family. Large game must be butchered, processed and preserved. It’s easier to hunt or trap small game, birds and fish.

That said, if you want to hunt and be stealthy about it, use a bow and arrow for larger animals and an air rifle or snares for smaller animals.

Protection and security – The chapter covering this topic focuses mostly on livestock guardian dogs. Other security tips are sprinkled throughout the book.

Rick doesn’t recommend raising…cattle, horses, sheep, geese, turkeys and several exotic animals. Remember, he’s homesteading on a small acreage and focuses on raising animals that give the most bang for the buck.

The Motivating Factors

A key to success in such a homesteading venture is to think like a producer, not a consumer. Rick and his wife aren’t going without any food. They have more than enough. And they’re doing it all on a small plot of land.

Not only are they practicing skills lost to most of us from previous generations, but they’re not dependent on the industrial food grid. Plus, they aren’t spending the money the rest of the population spends at grocery stores.

If you’re considering setting up a homestead like Rick’s, or if you want to modify your current arrangement, don’t wait. Now’s the time to get started. I can heartily recommend all three of his books to give you guidance.

The Information Gateway

I can only give you a taste of what’s in Rick’s book and what we talked about. Thus, you need to hear my conversation with him by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for December 1, 2016. (Right click to download.) Get Secret Livestock of Survival and Rick’s other books by clicking on their titles wherever you see them in this post.

Check out Rick’s site at SecretGardenOfSurvival.com.

Rick and his wife would be happy to welcome you at Prepper Camp. Find out about it at PrepperCamp.com.

While most people think of preparing to live off the power grid, you could follow Rick Austin’s example and live off the industrial food grid. The less you rely on that, the wealthier and more secure you’ll be–for now and in the future.


How a Chicken Tractor Can Play a Part in a Survival Garden-Based Business

An enterprising young lady shows how a chicken tractor can play a prominent role in a garden-based business. She tells her story in the September/October, 2016, issue of “Backwoods Home Magazine” (Issue #161).

Read the article exerpt here, then click on the link below to read the whole thing.

Gardening with a chicken tractor

By Brianna Stone

This spring, my parents let me enlarge my garlic business and till up three 600-square-foot beds for planting garlic in a three-year rotation. My plan is to plant one of the beds with garlic this fall, but right now I am working on preparing the beds. After I initially tilled up the beds, I realized that the clumps of sod still needed to be broken up more and the fertility of the soil was less than satisfactory. As I researched solutions, I came across an idea that would require me to add some business partners — five, to be exact. They work exceptionally hard and they never complain. What type of fantastic partners did I end up with? Chickens.

I decided to use a chicken tractor (a mobile chicken coop with a fenced-in run) to house my chickens while they break up my soil and increase its fertility. Chickens till the ground when they scratch, fertilize it with their manure, and supply us with the added bonus of fresh eggs every day.

Read the whole article here:

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine.
http://www.backwoodshome.com (541)247-8900.


View a post about another gardener’s experience with a chicken tractor here

To get Chicken Tractor, the classic book, click on its title in this paragraph. That opens a new window to the page where it’s featured


Could Your Survival Garden Make You Sick?

“Backwoods Home Magazine” for March/April 2016 (Issue #158) includes an article on how you can keep your survival garden from making you sick.

Maybe you’ve never had a problem. You’ve been gardening for years, even decades, and nobody in your family has ever caught a foodborne illness from what you’ve grown or canned.

Besides, that stuff only happens with large farming operations who sell to grocery stores and chain restaurants. Right?

But before you think such a thing couldn’t happen, consider the topics the article covers. Pay attention especially if you grow for a local farmers market.

  • Sources of contamination
  • Good agricultural practices
  • Manure
  • Compost
  • Go vertical and mulch
  • Wildlife
  • Water
  • Harvesting
  • Storage and transport
  • Keep good records

Check out the following exerpt, then read the complete article by clicking on the llink below.

Prevent foodborne illness with safe gardening methods

By Donna Insco

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website, “CDC estimates that each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases.” According to the CDC, produce was implicated in nearly half of the reported cases from 1998 to 2008.

The reports are troubling. In 2006, a multi-state Escherichia coli (E. coli) outbreak in spinach sickened more than 200 people and led to the deaths of at least three. Celery was implicated in a Listeria outbreak in 2010. In 2011, 147 people in 28 states contracted Listeria from whole cantaloupes from Colorado.

Read the whole article here:

Excerpt used with permission of Backwoods Home Magazine.
http://www.backwoodshome.com (541)247-8900.

When you’re looking for gardening seeds and supplies, check out the Survival Gardening page in the Prep Mart.

Cap’n Dave Previews Permaculture and the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit

It’s hard to improve on Mother Nature when we grow our own food, so why try? My guest on this week’s DestinySurvival Radio is sold on a way of growing food that works with Nature, not against it. Join me for Cap’n Dave’s preview of permaculture, weather, and the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit, which took place March 7-13, 2016.

Profile of Cap’n Dave

Cap’n Dave has been on DestinySurvival Radio with me before, and he always has plenty of insights to share. In case you don’t know who he is…he’s the one holding the fish in the photo below.


Cap'n Dave holding a large fish


Cap’n Dave was born and raised (in, on, and under) the Chesapeake Bay of Virginia and the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where his Dad taught him fishing, hunting, gardening… and the myriad skills of a self-reliant outdoorsman. He grew up loving all aspects of the outdoors, from geology to biology; from shooting sports to surfing, from backpacking to SCUBA diving (just to name a few.) In the early 80’s he became a SCUBA instructor and also a US Coast Guard certified Boat Captain.

Moving to North Florida in the late 80’s, Cap’n Dave began a career in professional aviation, which has spanned the years since then, and has included instructing; flying freight for the world’s largest Fed Ex Feeder airline; then corporate and executive flying; and flying the Governors of Florida on State Aircraft. He’s back to giving flight instruction. Included in his years in aviation were stints with McDonnell Douglas and Boeing as an Instructional Designer and Educational Technologist. He has a life-long love of exploring wilderness caves underwater, too.

Cap’n Dave has earned a Certified Permaculture Designer credential from University of Florida Ag Extension; and took a refresher from Geoff Lawton and the Permaculture Research Institute. He currently practices these skills at his 6–acre Permaculture paradise near Tallahassee.

Cap’n Dave happens to be one of the speakers with the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit. We fill you in on that, and lots more, during our conversation.

Prelude to the Main Conversation

At the beginning of our conversation, I asked Dave how things were going at Cap’n Dave’s State Park. That’s what his friends call his place. View my previous post with photos here. You’ll see more photos below.


Chicken on Dave's wrist

Worf clings on


As we talked Cap’n Dave was multitasking. I asked him if he was watching Chicken TV, which is how he describes the entertainment provided by his chickens.

But he was doing something else this time. In true permaculture fashion, he was trimming blueberry bushes with the intention to feed the trimmings to his rabbits.

Preview of Permaculture

It’s hard to define permaculture. Cap’n Dave says dozens of explanations have been put forward. It’s more than organic gardening.

Permaculture entails a set of principles designed to use the processes of nature. It blends old ways with modern science to make the most of what nature has to offer.

You don’t have to have a six acre place like Cap’n Dave. You can practice permaculture on any scale, even on an apartment balcony.

There’s a growing interest in permaculture methods as people become more conscientious about eating clean, wholesome food and maintaining good health. Getting plugged back into nature has its appeal, too.

Growing our own food fits well into the preparedness way of life. And perhaps there’s a bit of nostalgia involved as well.

But the reward is in the results.


8 foot okra

8 foot okra

Kale beds

Kale beds

Vegetable garden

Vegetable garden


And here’s another benefit. Overall, permaculture proves to be economical. Dave and I touched on that near the end of our conversation.

Cap’n Dave recommends Toby Hemenway’s book Gaia’s Gardenas a good “introductory drug” if you want to discover what permaculture is really about.


Sunchoke harvest

Sunchoke (Jerusalem artichoke) harvest


Preview of the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit

In the spring of 2015 Dave and I did an episode of DestinySurvival Radio to talk about the Home Grown Food Summit, presented by Marjory Wildcraft’s organization. I asked him to talk about the 2016 Summit because he was one of the presenters.

His presentation is about weather and how you and I can learn to predict weather by looking out for repeatable patterns in nature. Listen for our discussion later in our DestinySurvival Radio conversation.

Other presenters include…

  • Geoff Lawton of the Permaculture Research Institute on Property Purchase Checklist
  • Sam Coffman on Increasing The Potency Of Backyard Herbs
  • Greg Peterson of Urban Farms University on 3 Steps To Jump-Starting Your Urban Farm
  • David The Good on Extreme Composting: The Movie
  • Ira Wallace on Growing Great Garlic
  • Jeannette Beranger on Picking Heritage Pigs
  • Ralph Rhoads on Worm Farming
  • John Moody on The Butcher, The Baker The Homestead Law Maker

That’s just a sample of the speakers and topics featured at the 2016 summit. There’s sure to be something of interest for you, whether you’re gardening, tending to an apple orchard or raising chickens and goats.Click here for more about the 2016 Home Grown Food Summit.


17 foot sunflower


Putting It All Together

As you might guess, there’s more to what Cap’n Dave and I talked about. For example, take note of how he turned a predatory raccoon, who wanted his chickens for food, into a means of providing food for those same chickens.


Dave's chicks

Dave’s chicks


I encourage you to hear our chat by listening to DestinySurvival Radio for March 3, 2016 (Right click to download.)

The 2016 Home Grown Food Summit ran live (and free), March 7-13, 2016, with an option to purchase the package of presentations afterward.


Having Survival Seeds is a Must for Your Survival Strategy

Having a backup supply of survival seeds is prudent because we simply don’t know what lies in the future concerning our food supply. It may sound like hype to say we may have food shortages, but these days it seems like more of a possibility than ever before.

Having long term storage food is critical, but one day the only way to have garden fresh produce may be to raise it yourself.

What you want is a package of storable seeds that contains heirloom garden seeds. That means non-hybrid, open pollenated varieties. That allows you to save seeds from your plants and have seeds for the next year’s garden.

You’ll want to store your heirloom seeds in a cool dry environment because each 6° drop in storage temperature may double the life of most seeds. It’s recommended to put them in a refrigerator or freezer.

Even if you don’t garden, you can use a package of survival seeds as a barter item to exchange with someone who does garden. Of course, if you are a gardener, surely you won’t find yourself in need of bartering for survival seeds, will you?

Click on the banner below for the TrueLeaf Market. Then search for, or click on, Storage Seeds to order the package that’s right for your survival garden.


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