Tomorrow is going to be just like today - until it isn't.

Author: scmadmin (Page 1 of 5)

Seeds – Saving, Storing, Handling, and Planting

Before we look at seeds, let’s answer an obvious question: “I don’t have space for a garden, so why should I be interested in seeds?” We’ll answer that with another question: “Do you live near a golf course, near a park or a ball field, near any open fields?” If the answer is “yes” – and nearly everyone can answer “yes” on that one – then you live near a potential food supply. It’s a food supply IF you have seeds and know how to use them.

Another question: “Does that mean that being prepared means that I need to spend my money on specialized seed planters and other tools?” The answer to that is “No, but you should have the basic knowledge of seeds and how to use them and work with them. On the other hand, if you have those specialized tools – and others don’t, your services would be in great demand during a food shortage.”

 

Seed Saving and Storage

Always remember that seeds are a living organism. They are in a type of suspended animation, and their useful lifespan can vary greatly depending on how they are stored. There are three key factors in seed storage: Time, Temperature, and Moisture.

Seed To Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth, should be on any seed saver’s bookshelf. In addition to providing detailed information about seed saving, it includes important information about 160 different vegetables. Highly recommended.

Time

  • Some seeds – onions, for example – have a very short lifespan (typically, one year), while others can last much longer under the right conditions.
  • All seeds will degrade in their germination rate over time, no matter how well they are stored; however, under the right conditions, some seeds (such as wheat) can germinate after hundreds of years – and perhaps longer.
  • A Seed Bank program should include regular rotation so that seeds are always as fresh as possible.
  • Even if an old seed sprouts, some sources say that the plants from those old seeds are not going to be as strong and healthy as those from fresh seeds.
  • With all that said, don’t throw away old seeds until you have replaced them with fresher ones. Though germination rate degrades over time, some seeds will still sprout long after their stated expire date.

 

Temperature

  • As with food storage, heat degrades the viability, while cold extends the viability.
  • The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, located on an island in Norway, keeps their seeds stored at -18° C.
  • Keeping seeds stored in your refrigerator or freezer will prolong their viability.
    • When taking them out of the refrigerator or freezer, give them plenty of time to go to room temperature before opening to prevent condensation on the seeds.

 

Moisture

  • This is right at the top of the list when it comes to seed viability factors. Drier is better.
  • One study concluded that a moisture content of 19%-27% is best, while another concluded that 10%-11% is best.
  • Without the equipment and scientific instruments being available to us, our best bet is to just go with as dry as we can get them.
  • When drying seeds, do not add excessive heat. Setting them out in the sun on a low-humidity day is fine – drying them in an oven is not.

 


 

Preparing Seeds for Saving

There are two basic types of seeds and how they are prepared: Wet and Dry.

Wet seeds

  • Plants such as tomatoes, pumpkins, have “wet seeds”.
  • For photos of the process click here.
  1. Select the best quality fruit or vegetables, and let them fully ripen. Some varieties are best when allowed to rot.
  2. Scoop seeds into a bucket of water, and stir to separate the seeds from the slurry as much as possible.
  3. Set it aside for a few days to allow the mixture to begin to ferment. This breaks down the material surrounding the seeds.
  4. When you can easily separate the seed from the coating with your fingers, it is ready for the next step.
  5. Pour off what is floating on the surface. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom.
  6. Pour off as much remaining water as possible, while stirring it up enough to pour off the vegetable matter at the same time.
  7. Add more water and repeat until you have clean water with clean seeds at the bottom.
  8. Pour off all water, lay the seeds out on a paper towel or smooth cloth to dry.
  9. During the drying process, shuffle the seeds around so they can dry on both sides of the seed.

Dry Seeds

  • Plants that have seeds in a pod (beans, peas, okra, etc.) and seeds that are exposed (most flowers), have “dry seeds”.
  1. Leave the seed pods on the plant until they are fully mature. Allow them to dry on the plant, if possible.
  2. Remove the seeds from the pods and set them on a screen or smooth cloth to fully dry.

 

Storing Seeds

  • Note: If seeds are going to be used fairly soon, the following steps are probably over-kill.
  • Store seeds in an air-tight container. For larger quantities, a quart or gallon paint can (new and unused, of course!) works well.
  • If available, and if the container size allows, include a desiccant packet to keep the seeds as dry as possible.
  • If possible, store the seed container in a refrigerator or freezer.
  • Always remember to label your seed containers with both the type and variety of seeds and the date.

 

Handling Seeds

  • Larger seeds, such as beans, corn, and pumpkin, can be handled with no tools needed.
  • Small seeds, such as tomato and pepper, need specialized tools to make sure that one seed goes where it is supposed to go.
  • The hand vacuum seeder (Amazon link) is designed for picking up the smallest of seeds, one at a time. It can be a bit tedious, but it is a very effective way to pick up and dispense one tiny seed at a time. Mainly used with seedling trays.
  • Shake Seed Dispenser (Amazon link) has a dial to set for different seed sizes. Very affordable, and works reasonably well, but takes practice.
  • There are other types of small seed dispensers – some work well, some not so well, but all do the job when used for what they are designed for.

Hand vacuum seeder

 

Shake seed dispenser

Planting Seeds

  • The larger the number of seeds to be planted, the more important it is to have the right tools.
    • Any seed can be planted by hand without any tools, but if you are planting in large enough quantities to be a realistic food supply, then efficiency becomes a major issue.
    • When we plant to provide a significant part of our food supply, it’s all about quantity. A tomato plant in a pot on your patio doesn’t count.
  • There are three main types of walk-behind seed planters:
    • Earthway Seeder (Amazon Link)
      • least expensive (about $133)
      • light-weight (easy to push, but harder to maintain straight rows)
      • uses a vertical seed plate that cannot be modified or custom-made
      • Works very well when using seeds of a uniform size and shape that exactly fit the seed plate
      • When seed and seed plate are not a fairly exact match, a row can have many seeds dumped together or skipped areas.
    • Hoss Seeder (Hoss Tools link)
      • Mid-range price (about $390)
      • Uses a horizontal rotating seed plate
      • Seed plates are easily customized. Blank seed plates and drill template available.
      • Fairly heavy (38 pounds) and long frame make it easy to maintain straight rows.
      • The ability to customize the seed plates to the seeds you are using is a huge advantage, and can make it very accurate and reliable.
      • The Hoss is widely used by market garden operations
    • Jang JP-1 Push Seeder (Johnny’s Selected Seed link)
      • High-end price (about $525)
      • Uses a roller rather than a seed plate
      • Very accurate seeding when using a roller carefully matched to the seed
      • Seed spacing is set independent of the roller, making it easy to adjust seed spacing
      • Able to plant double, triple, or more wide rows
      • Rollers can be customized, but require machine tools
      • The Jang is the standard for commercial operations
  • The “Jab” planter is a type of one-seed-at-a-time planter
    • There are a number of different Jab Planter designs.
    • Some Jab planters are entirely manual, while others have some mechanical seed handling.
    • Primary benefit is being able to plant while standing straight up.
    • The simple designs handle the widest variety of seeds with nothing to adjust or change.
    • Excellent choice for filling in empty spaces for less than 100% germination
    • Widely used in third-world countries
    • An improvised Jab planter can be made with a piece of PVC pipe. Seeds are dropped through the pipe right to where you want it without having to bend over. Much faster and easier if you have no other planter.

Earthway Seeder

 

Hoss Garden Seeder

 

Jang JP-1 Seeder

 

Simple Jab Planter.

NOTE: Instructions and dimensions for making this seeder will be in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.

Simple DIY Jab Planter made from PVC parts and a wooden dowel.

 

All parts came from Lowes, except for the Wye, which is from Amazon.

 

View when in use.

 

Bottom end

 

Top end

 

DIY Jab Planter – Simplified design (Photo: Pinterest)

Rainwater Harvesting Projects

Several Volusia County Prepping members have built rainwater harvesting systems. This is an overview of some of these systems and how they were put together. Note that each system is built to meet the needs of that situation. There is no “one right way” to do this.

System 1

Input divided between two independent barrels. Leaf Eater and First Flush used to keep the water clean.

 

System 2

Water is collected from a 12×24 shed. Water goes into a 55 gallon barrel, then the overflow goes into a 1550 gallon tank. The 55 gallon barrel serves to allow any solids time to settle to the bottom, and makes it easier to fill containers when the water level is low. Leaf Eater and First Flush are used to keep water clean.

 

Storage tank wrapped in reflective tarp to reduce heat build-up.

 

Using a 2″ hole saw and drill press to make a 1-1/2″ intake adapter. Works best if the centering drill bit is removed from the hole saw – otherwise it is difficult to adjust to find the exact center.

 

Before and after the center was drilled out.

 

1-1/2″ pipe glued to the 2″ Bung Cap with DAP Tank Bond epoxy. Toothpicks were used to center and align it while applying and curing the epoxy.

 

After the epoxy cured, silicone caulking was applied to seal the joint on both ends. Masking tape was used to keep the ends clean so a PVC elbow would fit over it.

 

System 3

IBC tank supported on wooden foundation.

 

Spigot parts

 

Assembled and installed water spigot

 

Height is set to allow easy filling of buckets and other containers.

 

System 4

55 gallon barrels set up against a 12′ wide shed.

 

Base set up to hold 55 gallon barrels. 2×6 boards on concrete Deck Blocks.

 

Barrels as-delivered from Uline.com . Be sure to include Lift Gate service when selecting delivery options.

 

Rainwater Harvesting Meeting Notes (SEP 2021)

 

Parts Used

  • This list of parts is from several projects, so don’t think you need to get all of this. Find what you need for your project.
  • PVC pipe and connectors and other misc. parts came from Lowes or Home Depot.

Hose, 5′ – Amazon
1 1/2″ PVC Bulkhead fitting – Amazon
1 1/2″ Slip/NPT adapter – Amazon
Stainless Steel Garden Hose to x 3/4″ Male NPT adapter- Amazon
3/4″ Slip x FHT PVC Hose-to-Pipe Fitting – Amazon
3/4″ Shut Off Valve GHT Thread Stainless Steel – Amazon
Leaf Eater – Amazon
First Flush Diverter, 3″ – Amazon
Stainless Steel Rain Barrel Spigot – Amazon
Rainpal Products – Amazon
2″ Bung Cap Fine Thread Plastic Drum Plug with Gasket – Amazon
275 Gallon IBC tank – Tractor Supply
Norwesco 1,550 gallon water tank (Various sizes available) – Tractor Supply
Plastic Drum with Lid – 55 Gallon, Open Top, Black – Uline
1″ Round Open Screen Vent – Amazon
2″ Round Open Screen Vent – Amazon

Everyone Can Do Something

Several decades ago, I put together my “militia kit”. Inspired by the Minutemen and their sense of duty, I vowed to always be prepared to come to the aid of my nation and my people. That was then – this is now. I’m 68 years old with bad knees and six little ones who call me “Grandpa”. Seasons change, and so must I.

The plate carrier with those heavy rifle plates, loaded down with M-14 magazines has been put away to perhaps supply a younger man at some future time.

It has been replaced by a Level III-A vest stocked with trauma gear and an “EMS” ID panel, along with an additional belt kit. It’s been a long time since I was a Fireman and EMT (I took one of the first EMT classes offered in Florida), but the basic knowledge and experience never goes away. Are there younger, more experienced men who would be better at this? Yes, of course, but I’m here and they’re not.

Dealing with bad guys has been replaced by caring for the good guys. Will it ever be used? Probably not – just as the plate carrier was never used, but that’s not the point. Each of us has to be ready to do what we know needs to be done, regardless of the probability that we will be called upon to do it.

That’s just how it works for me. Your situation will be different, but everyone can do something.

Meeting Notes – NOV 2021


Alternative Food Storage Strategies

  • Food doesn’t have to be freeze dried to be a good long term storage food.
  • If you have a dehydrator, use it. If not, then get one and use it.
  • Plan on a minimum of 2,000 calories per person per day.
  • DAK hams are one of the “standard” food storage items.
  • Beans and Rice are both cheap and nutritious, and a food storage staple.

 

From Lawn To Garden – Turning grass into a productive garden (.ODP file)

Security, Part 1 – Neighborhood and Perimeter (.ODP file)

Security, Part 2 – Ideas for protecting your home (.PPTX file)

*Note: .ODP files are Open Document Presentation – an open source version of PowerPoint.

October 2021 Meeting Notes

Building Relationships Among Preppers (.PPT file)

Stopping The Bleed When There Is No 911 To Call (.ODP file)

Litters – Carrying the Sick and Injured (.ODP file)

*Note: .ODP files are Open Document Presentation – an open source version of PowerPoint.

Meeting Notes:

1 Opening
2 Continued discussion
2.1 Overview: a) Who are we concerned with? b) Definitions for Tribe Building project, c) Sponsoring new members to VCP
2.2 Concern is mainly would-be thieves rather than government
2.2.1 We far more closely resemble the local garden club than a militia made up of physically fit military vets in their 20’s and 30’s.
2.2.2 In the overall scheme of things we would be extremely low on any government interest priority list. We are simply not a threat to anyone, and talk of government confiscating our stored food is theoretical rather than realistic.
2.2.2.1 They would be looking for large scale food sources such as grocery stores, not the family-sized food storage preppers should have.
2.2.2.2 They would be looking for food that is distributeable (MREs) or suitable for large scale feeding programs. Neither of these typically make up a significant part of preppers’ food storage.
2.3 Definitions of Tribe and Clan
2.3.1 These definitions are quite loose, with plenty of room for exceptions. They are based on historical terms that most closely match the situation.
2.3.2 Use whatever terms you want for your own group – we are using these terms here so that we’re speaking the same language when making connections.
2.3.3 Clan – those living on a single piece of property, either in the house or camped on the property. Under the direct authority of the head of the household (in Scotland, it would be the Clan Chief). The word “clann” is Scottish Gaelic for “Children”.
2.3.3.1 Typically, a family group – related by blood or marriage
2.3.3.2 Includes others “adopted” into the clan (“Septs”)
2.3.4 Tribe – A group of Clans, typically located near each other, but may be connected in other ways.
2.4 Anyone new coming must be sponsored by a current member. “New” means initial contact. Long-time subscribers may be added to the list to attend meetings and become a member.
2.4.1 Send an email (you can just reply to one of the regular VCP emails you have received), and include some basic information about who you want to sponsor.
2.4.1.1 Name, how long you’ve known them, how you got connected, and anything else you think might be relevant.
2.4.2 The person being sponsored must attend at least 3 meetings with you before they are classified as a full member.
2.4.3 Exceptions? Contact us and we’ll figure it out from there.

Recommendations for a CB radio setup can be found on the Radio Quick Start page.

July 2021 Meeting Notes

Lee’s presentation on Lifeboats and Tribes

  • Used the analogy of lifeboats on a sinking ship
  • Use the time available to decide who you want on your lifeboat (tribe)
  • This was based on an article titled Which Lifeboat Will You Choose?
  • This Powerpoint presentation formed the basis of the program (.ppt file)
  • The presentation led into tribe-building plans. Yes, we are going to push hard on this.

 

Laura’s presentation on Meat Rabbits

  • This Powerpoint presentation formed the basis of the program (.pptx file)
  • Housing depends on which system you are using.
  • Rabbits are fast, have sharp claws, chew on just about anything, so plan accordingly
  • Meat is very low in fat content.
  • Figure on a dressed weight of about half the live weight.
  • Duckweed makes a good feed supplement.
  • Bugs Bunny was wrong – carrots are NOT a good feed for rabbits

 

David’s presentation on Fire Starters

  • Everyone present was given a zip-lock bag with the following items:
    • disposable butane lighter
    • length of waxed hemp cord
    • several plastic guitar picks
  • This was packed into one unit with a piece of 1″ Duct Tape (you can just split regular Duct Tape if you can’t find 1″ wide tape)
  • Dave demonstrated how flammable the guitar picks are
  • Also demonstrated how a guitar pick can be shaved and scraped, and then ignited using a ferrocerium rod.

Long Term Egg Storage – Part 2

It the previous post, we tested some eggs that had been in Lime-Water storage for 6 months. With the great results from that, we decided to scale things up from the small test batch in a jar. This new batch would be for actual food storage, so the quantity needed to be considerably larger.

For the 3 gallon stoneware crock, we mixed 3 gallons of Lime-water. With the eggs, only about half that amount was actually used; however, it is best to mix more than you need so the excess Lime that settles to the bottom of the bucket isn’t dumped in with the eggs. Rather than pouring it, use a smaller container to carefully scoop out the clear liquid off the top, leaving the settled lime on the bottom undisturbed. It shouldn’t hurt, but it just makes things messier.

Another option – rather than the stoneware crock – would be to use the same half gallon glass jars that we used for the test sample. The advantage there is lower cost, and the ability to store them on a shelf rather than taking up floor space. If we had it to do over again, we would use the wide mouth half-gallon jars instead of the stoneware crock. Another advantage of using several jars rather than one crock, is that it is easier to rotate the stored eggs. Make sure you label the containers with the date.

 

3 Gallon Stoneware crock with lid.


 

Mixing the Lime and water in a ratio of 1 cup of Lime to 1 gallon of water. After the mixture settles, the milky appearance changes to clear.


 

Eggs were very carefully added, one at a time. The 3 gallon crock held 90 eggs, but there was still room for a few more.

 

With the eggs added, the stoneware lid was set in place (note that it is NOT a tight seal), followed by the bucket lid.


 

Long Term Egg Storage – 6 Month Test

(Part 1 of 2 – Click HERE for Part 2)

Eggs are called “The Perfect Protein” for good reason, and they should be part of your food storage program. The most common method in use today is to store dried eggs, but in the 1700’s, other methods were used. In this case, we are using Lime water. This video shows how it is done.

 

 

The Lime/Water mixture is not critical. We used one cup of lime in a gallon of water. This gave a small amount of lime sediment, which would indicate that the mixture was saturated. Adding any more lime would just result in more wasted sediment at the bottom, making it messier to deal with.

This test was done using a half-gallon glass jar. For regular storage, we are using a 3-gallon Ohio Stoneware crock (link), with lid (link), kept in a large feed bucket. Be sure to read Part 2 to see what we would do different – lessons learned.

Note that we used a piece of wax paper between the jar and the lid. This is to avoid any corrosion of the metal jar lid (none was noted at 6 months).

 

Six Month Test Results:

  • Appeared to be near-perfect preservation
  • No unusual smell or taste or color
  • The yolk was not as firm, and it easily broke when added to a frying pan.
  • While the fried egg was quite good, the weaker yolk means it would probably be better suited to scrambling or baking.
  • No detectable taste difference between the day-old and the 6-month old egg.
  • This 6-month test was done on June 15, 2021. The eggs were gathered over a period of a week or two, and were kept at room temperature before being immersed in the lime water.

 

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Use either glass or ceramic for the container – NEVER use metal, since it will react with the lime.
  • Consider keeping the container inside of a bucket to protect it from breakage and make it easier to handle.
  • Be sure to use a container with a wide enough mouth to allow you to carefully remove the eggs without breaking them.
  • Eggs MUST be fresh, clean, and unwashed. Store-bought eggs will not work since the protective “bloom” layer has been washed off during processing.

 


 

Eggs at 6 months.

 

The egg on the left side is about 24 hours old, while the one on the right is about 6 months old.

 

Bottom left – 1 day old; Right – 6 months old; Top – Duck egg, about one hour old.

 

Bottom left – 1 day old; Right – 6 months old; Top – Duck egg, about one hour old.

 

Lime used – ordered through Amazon.

Amazon link for lime, 50 pound bag.

(Part 1 of 2 – Click HERE for Part 2)

« Older posts