Tag Archives: gardening

10 Ways to Save Money

In an effort to help you get out of debt I have come up with some ideas to help you do just this.  I am sure there are many more and I would love for you to comment on what you have done to save money so you can pay down your debt.

  1. Cook at home often: If both the husband and wife work, this is likely to be very difficult. Try once and week and move to more days from there.  I have found if I sit down with my wife on Sunday evening before we go to bed and plan out what to cook for the week it is easier to cook at home.  This reiterates the need to have some food storage.  Having food available makes it easier to plan out meals.  Knowing the meals in advance and posting them will allow whomever comes home first to start making dinner knowing the food is already available.
  2. Brown bag lunch at least a few days a week: We can use lunch to engage and network but it comes at a cost.  Try bringing your lunch with the leftovers from dinner to help save money.  Lunches can easily exceed $10 a day.  Twice a week is $1000.
  3. Make a list before going shopping:  Without a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when your forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place. If you plan on cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping.  Even better is to continue to store food then when you go to the store you are only getting what is on sale and what you need, thus avoiding impulse buys.
  4. Buy in bulk whenever possible: When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find something on sale. For such items, shopping at warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club etc can save you quite a bit of money, provided you stick strictly to your shopping list when you shop at these places.  My wife uses coupons and shops when the item we need is on sale.  Thus she is double dipping.
  5.  Pay off debt: Like beating a dead horse around here.  Having some extra money will allow you to pay off this behemoth.  Never to look back.
  6. Borrow instead of buy, use thrift stores: This can be for books, rental tools, neighbors tools, holiday clothing.  Thrift stores are great for finding those costumes you use once.  Don’t be ashamed, many people throw out good jeans and shirt at thrift stores.  Often they can be bought at $1.
  7. Think before you buy: Many of the things you want to buy do not seem all that necessary.  Wait at least 48 before you buy.  Check prices.  Decide if something else can take its place.  Is it really needed or do you just want it.
  8. Keep your car as long as possible: Pay cash for your car and keep it 10 years.  Continue to make a car payment to your savings account.  When you have repairs you can use this account.  When you feel you need a new car you will have enough cash to buy it. Along with this is do regularly scheduled maintenance. Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes. Remember to check the air in your tires often. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use.  I have  a diesel truck with 250,000 miles on it and it runs like a champ.  Maintenance is key
  9. Toss spare change into a glass jar . I save about $200-300 a year by putting spare change in a glass.  We use it for Christmas presents every year.  This is a great way to save for things without actually having to do much of anything.
  10. Use sales and coupons. Using sales and coupons along with copy canning will save tons.  Buying only what you need of things which are on sale is the way we shop.  We go to the store only to buy fresh items we do not store.  We will spend about $600 a month for a family of 5
  11. Plant a garden.  Here is a freebie.  Having a garden is like printing food.  It costs almost nothing for seeds and provides a summers worth of food.  It is fresh and oh so good for you.  It is also part of your preps.

What are some other things you have done to save money?

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Companion Planting for Your Garden

Spring is now here and it is time to start planting in your garden.  I want you to think about your garden as a whole system rather than individual plants.  When we think about it as a system we begin to understand how nature goes about planting plants.  Nature does not plant carrots in a row.  We have a bean plant growing up an apple tree.  Squash covering and holding moisture for corn.  Understanding the symbiotic nature of the plants will enable us to plant more plants in less space with fewer chemicals and less water.  How about them apples  for a lazy garden.

I (to the dismay of my wife) am a lazy gardener.  I want to plant and then harvest.  If I had my preference, I would not plant either, but I will take what I can get.  Therefore I am always trying to find ways to have plants compliment each other to get maximum yield.  I have found by succession planting and companion planting I am able to decrease my workload and pests and increase my belly.

Companion planting is one way to increase the food on my table.  The following are some good companion plantings.

  • Asparagus and Basil
  • Carrots and peas
  • Corn and squash
  • Cucumber and corn
  • Onions and carrots, lettuce
  • Radish and peas
  • Peppers and onions

Along with companion plantings there are plants which should not be planted by each other.

  • Beans and onion
  • Cabbage and Dill
  • Carrots and Dill
  • Corn and Tomatoes
  • Onions and peas
  • Irish potato and squash, tomato, cucumber

There are also plants which are beneficial to your garden pest control.

  • Onions and garlic are natural pest repellers.   Plant in the midst of your veggies
  • French Marigolds kill bad nematodes.
  • Mexican Marigold.  Do not plant near brascia.
  • Four o’clock for Japanese beetles.
  • Chrysanthemum for nematodes.  Also provide some shade
  • Mint repels moths, aphids and attracts beneficials.  Very invasive so please plant in a pot.  I speak from experience.

Herbs for culinary use, beneficial insect use, and they smell great.

  • Rosemary.  Best used dry.  Attracts beneficials.  Use in bread.
  • Oregano.  Takes forever to germinate and grow but once in the ground it spreads well.
  • Basil.  Wonderful smelling.  Dried basil reminds me of summer.
  • Cilantro.  Mine overwintered.  Great in mexican dishes.  I use mine to make fresh salsa.

It is always good to plant as many beneficial flowers as possible.  Salvia is great for bees.  Marigolds, Nasturtiums are also great flowers to put in the garden.  Nature has a system for everything.  Try to make your garden a system not just 5 veggies planted in rows.

Prepping 1o1

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

10 Simple Steps Toward Living the Prepping 101 Lifestyle

Today we talk about 10 simple steps that people can take toward making life’s road a little smoother.
Today we talk about…

  • Plan for disaster based on the simplified threat matrix.  Personal – Community – City.  99.9% of the things which can go wrong will fall into these 3 regions in your life.  There is no sense preparing for a global pandemic when you are not prepared for your wife to lose her income for two weeks because of foot surgery.  I can only say we are trying to cover the basics and once those are done, can we move to larger items.
  • Store at least 30-90 days of reserve food and water.  90% of disasters are personal, this should get you through most of them.  Having reserve food also saves you money and time.  You do not have to buy when you need it only when it is on sale.  You also get the added convenience of having your own personal convenience store in your house.
  • Plant a garden because you can only store so much food.  I want you to learn to grow your own food for a myriad of reasons.  The main two are 1) it supplements what you have stored. 2) It provides a valuable knowledge set.  Having a garden will enable you to extend your food storage for longer periods of time and give yet another piece to the diversity puzzle.  If you have 30 days worth of food and a garden you could extend this up to 45 days or more depending on how large your garden is and what type of climate you live.  Knowledge gained from the garden is invaluable.  From when to plant, what to plant with, pests, beneficial animals and insects, seed saving, food preservation, etc.  All of these skills you take with you wherever you go.
  • Debt is financial cancer, get rid of it. Enough said.
  • Understand you prepare for most disasters the same way.  We do not prepare for a specific event but for a loss of a system(s).
  • Have bug out bag (72 hour kit) for every family member.  Even the dog or cat
  • Have a plan for staying put and for leaving.  You will never know if you have to leave your house or stay for an emergency.  What if you have a storm or hurricane coming and it is better to leave and go to the in-laws?  Take you BOB and go for a day or two.  What if there is a snow storm coming?  Better to stay put and hole up at home where there is food and clothing.  You see we have to prepare for all types of events.  We do not get to pick our disaster.  Life does not give us a phone call and say “Hey, just wanted to let you know your house is going to burn down on March 16.  Have a nice day.”  This is why we prepare for leaving and staying.
  • Practice true diversity in your investment strategy.  Do not put all of your money into a 401k/403b, etc. plan.  This is just as foolish as having all your money in cash or all in gold.  What if the stock market goes up, how is your cash doing?   Same if the market goes down.  Diversity is not having all of your money in paper assets.  Look to stocks, land, commodities, cash, bonds.  Practice true diversity.
  • Learn to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors.  Have a gun (shotgun at minimum).   Most of all learn how to use it.  Go out and practice.  Get good training.  I believe all rights we have are due to the enforcement of the second amendment.
  • Everything you do to prepare should help to make life’s road a little smoother.  If nothing ever goes wrong in your life these things will make your life better.  This is the over reaching goal of what we do here, if your life is great you will be in a position to help some of those who’s life is not so good at the moment.

Remember who you are, and the skills and knowledge in your head are what matters.  What you do and stand for matter.

Prepping 101
Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Planning your Suburban Homestead

When you read the title did you think ‘suburban homestead’, that’s an oxymoron.  This guy is crazy, homesteads are in the country, fool.  I believe anyone can make their home a homestead.  For some it is not an option to move to the country.  Instead lets focus on the positives of where we live and have our home become more of a producer.

The first thing you will need to do is evaluate your goals for your homestead.

  • What do you want it to do?  Provide food, income, security?  Give some thought on your overall goals.
  • Determine your landscape and limitations.  If you live on 1/4 acre like me, you can’t do cattle.  Do you want meat or would you rather have a larger garden?  Perennials or annuals?  Vines or bushes?  What about lawn? Do you have kids?  Do they need a place to run and play?  Are you on a hill or flat?  Sandy or loamy?  Lots of rain or no rain?  Where is there sun, shade, wind, high or low usage, easy to access?  Think of the external sources which contribute to your homestead.
  • Determine your wants and needs.  First decide what you like to eat.  Next find out what is easy and cheap to buy.  If it is easy and cheap to buy then you might not want to grow it.  If you can buy corn 12 ears for $1 then do not grow corn.  If you want to then by all means do so, but most of us have a space premium.  Next decide if it is expensive to buy or difficult to acquire locally or organically.  These will be good things to grow.  Most of all grow what you will eat.
  • Determine which crops you will grow.  Focus on heavy producers.  Beans, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peas, squash.   Try to grow varieties not available locally or commercially.  Try lemon cucumbers or pole beans.  Pick perennials over annuals if possible.  They generate food year after year with very little input.  Also look for items which store well.  I often think of squash, potatoes, onions, and herbs.
  • Consider livestock.  I know you are thinking my spouse barely goes along with what is going on now and you want me to bring an animal on board?  I will confess the aforementioned question applies to me.  We do not have any livestock.  I would like some but it is one step at a time.  Think about chickens for eggs or you could raise broilers for the summer.  Rabbits have a small footprint, produce great manure and have excellent meat.  Something I am considering is aquaculture or aquaponics.  I am doing research this year on it.  I will let you know what I decide.
  • Extend your gardening season.  This fall I am going to put some hoops on my raised bed to try to get through November with some hardy veggies.  You could also make a cold frame.  Do you have a spot in your yard, maybe a corner, which get lots of sun?  Maybe you can grow something a zone higher by capitalizing on this micro-climate.
  • Increase your productivity through trellising and vertical spaces.  Plants like cucumbers, grapes, beans, kiwi, and even melons can be trellised.  I have about 100 feet of perimeter in my backyard where I grow raspberries, melons and other things.  Using trellises for beans and cucumbers can give better results since the veggie is not on the ground.  They are also easier to see and pick.

Hopefully these have been some helpful hints to improve your gardening for this year.

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Ten Gardening Skills for the Survivalist

There are two skills I constantly write on this site, debt and gardening.  I think between the two it will relieve about 90% of your preparedness problems.  With spring upon us I want to give some more gardening tips to help you have a successful garden this year.

The ten things are

  • Succession planting
  • Composting
  • Companion planting
  • Container gardening
  • Mulching
  • Guerrilla gardening
  • Water harvesting
  • Wildlife identification
  • Trellising
  • Seed starting

Succession Planting

Succession planting is planting one plant after another in the same spot.  We plant lettuce in the spring and tomatoes in the summer than spinach in the fall.  Succession planting allows us to grow more crops in the same space.   Combining in succession varieties of plants allows us to maintain soil fertility.  If we plant legumes last we will get some nitrogen back in the soil.

Composting

Using our food waste as garden material is a something we can all do for a variety of reasons.  I do it so I won’t have as much garbage to haul out to the curb.  Composting creates new soil.  If you haven’t started one you can do it just like I did by putting my clipping in the corner and letting nature take its course.  There is a science some use.  I prefer to just let nature do it all by herself and then at the beginning of the year I take last years compost and put it on the garden.

Companion planting

Some plants compliment each other.  Basil and tomatoes. Cucumbers and corn.  One plant may have a deep tap root and the other will give shade.  One may fix nitrogen while the other is a heavy nitrogen user.

Container gardening

Container gardening will allow you to grow things you might not be able to grow otherwise.  Think blueberries.  If you have alkaline soil it is hard to grow blueberries since they like acidic soil.  What to do?  Put them into a container.  Can’t grow citrus where you are?  Put them in a container and when it gets cold outside and you have a nice sunny spot inside put them there.  If you live in a condo or apartment, containers allow you to grow where there is no dirt.

Mulching

Mulching helps you save on water and cuts down on weeds.  It makes gardening easier.  With continuous mulch weeds are kept at bay and you are supplying new soil all the time.

Guerrilla gardening

This is a stealth type of gardening.  You plant where there typically is not a garden.  Usually perennial seeds are put into a ball of dirt and this ball of seeds is placed in and empty lot, public park, canal dirt road, in a forest.  You are allowing nature to produce more food.   This is a great way to have a bigger garden without you actually having a garden of your own.  These spots then become places where you can continue to cultivate.

Water harvesting

Since water is essential to all living things, gathering and retaining water is a great skill to have.  Just retaining the water from your roof will water your garden all year.  With water wars springing up all over the arid western states, having a method of harvesting the water on your own lot may prove valuable

Wildlife identification

Knowing what is eating you tomatoes is important.  Knowing what to plant to attract the animal that eats the thing eating your tomato is even more important.  Make it part of your continuing education to learn about the wildlife in your yard.  What attracts bees?  What eats cutworms?  All of your gardening questions should have an answer not containing the word ending in ‘cide’.

Trellising

Trellising is the method of allowing your plants to grow upward.  This saves on space and makes it easier on your back.  Cucumbers, grapes, beans, melons can all be trellised.

Seed starting

The benefits to seed starting are almost too many to write down.  The main one for me is season extension.  I am able to start earlier in the spring and continue in the fall.  By starting indoors in the spring, I can plant when ready rather than direct sowing when ready.  Same goes for the fall.  It is hard to start lettuce with the hot soil of the summer, but if I start indoors I can plant in the fall when the days are not quite as warm and my lettuce flourishes.

 

Any skills I forgot?  Email at prepping101@gmail.com

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Incorporating Wildlife into your Garden

Spring is upon us and it is time to start planting.  I wanted to get you to start thinking about including some wildlife in your preparations.  As the the world is continuing its maelstrom of problems, we need to continue to feed, protect and provide for ourselves.

Animals give an opportunity to accomplish some of the goals as a prepper/survivalist.

As you are thinking about animals for your homestead, think about the things which make them useful.

  • Produce food.  The animal itself is consumed.  Meat would the common thread here.
  • Useful byproducts.  Think hide, eggs
  • Useful waste.  Manure for our compost.
  • Provides entertainment.  Animals can have some fun component.  Playing with your dog is a useful activity
  • Support to other systems.  Do they protect livestock, eat slugs, keep the grass trimmed?
  • Performs a function.  Each animal should perform a function.  Dogs serve as protectors, bees pollinate.  Use the animal to perform a function instead of you having to do the function.

Some animals you may think about.

  • Rabbits- Good meat, manure, easy to care for, small space requirement.
  • Dogs- protectors, friends
  • Small swine-  meat, meat, meat.  They also work as ploughs.
  • Squirrels, Raccoons- nobody likes raccoons, especially if you have chickens.  These can be tasty items for supplementation.
  • Bees- pollinators, honey
  • Ducks-  tasty meat, eggs.  Good for mosquitoes and slugs.
  • Aquaculture- Fish, frogs, crayfish, catfish, trout.  All of these can be encouraged on a small homestead.
  • Goats and sheep.  Goats provide milk and meat.  Sheep have wool and meat.
  • Birds- Quail, pheasant or other fowl life.  Having birds around helps with the predator prey population.
  • Don’t forget the dirt life-  Worms and insects provide a wonderful resources for you dirt.

Hopefully these were some ideas to get you going.  I am trying to get a podcast going so I can go into these in a little more depth.

Do you have any other suggestions for small livestock for your homestead?

Prepping 101

Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother

Finding Time to Prep- Part 2

Finding Time to Prep- Part 2

In part 1 we discussed

  • Making a list and prioritizing
  • You will do what you see as most important first
  • Stored food is money in the bank
  • Prepare in incremental steps
  • 2 meals a month out of food storage
  • You can’t do it overnight
  • Finishing other projects

Today we have more things to discuss.

  • Gardening is easy.  If you do it a little at a time.  I know gardening is hard work.  I have 5 raised beds and the perimeter of my backyard.  The thing I have tried to do is cultivate the garden to allow me to do as little work as possible.  I do this by mulching heavily and composting.   I am a lazy gardener.  I do not weed very often, heck weeds are part of nature right?  Try to come home from work and spend 10-15 minutes in the garden.  Pull a few weeds, check on and water the plants.  If you truly love to garden than by all means spend time, but if you are overwhelmed by the amount of preps you have then allow the garden to “grow”.
  • Get out and exercise.  Take a walk around the block.  Breathe fresh air and get to know your neighbors.  Think of exercise as community building.  See what your neighbors are planting.  Ask them gardening questions.  Last year by just walking around my neighborhood I was able to trade pears (from my immense pear tree) for other goodies.
  • Prepping builds assets while everyone else is building debt.  As you start to prep understand you are building wealth.  Those thing you can touch and feel are true wealth.  Things which hold their value are true wealth. Eliminating your debt is wealth. Food, trees, land, water, guns, knowledge.  These things are assets and wealth.  When everyone else is buying things on credit, sit back and be happy you are accumulating wealth.
  • Start building your bug out bags for both home and car.  These are great cheap things to do while in the early stages.  Have a bag for home for each family member and one for each car.  You never know what may happen.  I use my bag in my car at least once a month.  I am thirsty so I get some water or I need a flashlight.
  • Think of how long it took you to become unprepared.  It will take time to become prepared.  This has been my number one piece of advice for myself.  I have to realize it took me almost 40 years to become unprepared.  I figure it will take me at least 5-10 years to become prepared.  I know I will never be fully prepared for everything, but I will rest better knowing I am doing what I can.
  • Plan, Plan, Plan.  Write a plan and continue to revise it.  A plan allows you to focus on what is important in an objective manner.  You will be able to work as a unit with clear goals.  Along with your plan I recommend you to work on one project at a time.  Working on multiple projects can become distracting, and shows no clear focus on the most important project.  So if you can focus on one thing at a time, do so.
  • Educate yourself.  Become informed as possible.  Read the news, find new skills to learn, read opposing opinions, teach a skill to someone.  The part between your two ears is the most valuable survival item you have.  Fill it to the brim with good stuff.

I hope this has been of help to you.  If you have any other suggestions for topics please let me know.

What has helped you find time to prep?

Prepping 101
Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother