So you think you have this prepping thing pretty much down pat by now? Or are you new to this world of prepping? You have your water filters, generators, fuel, guns, ammo, food stores, medical supplies, a bug out vehicle, and heating elements. You have researched, taken courses, practiced drills and you have completed a mock bug out. If you said “yes” to any of this small list, you are already off to a good start. But sometimes we overlook the simple things we need in order to get by day to day. List of Essential Things One of the …
There are many phases in a total collapse of society. In the earliest stages you will find that people are simply trying to figure it all out. In this phase people will likely still be civil with one another. There will still be resources around and people will be living off their own stores. This phase will end quickly and give way to the more dangerous parts of a collapse.
Eventually – and in a modern society it won’t be long – there will come a phase when most resources have been exhausted. You will still need resources to stay alive. At this point the scavengers will arise. If you haven’t prepared enough, or if unseen issues crop up, you might be a scavenger too.
The smart prepper will operate in a balanced world of simple, self sufficient living and scavenging practices.
Not only will your local Lowes or Home Depot be gone; it will be picked clean and likely taken up as a decent base of operations for some gang or military faction. Still, you will need a home that protects you from the elements, with a roof and walls that keep the wind and rain out. It’s vital to keep as much of your home in working order as possible. Consider scavenging things like:
- Scrap Metal
- Scrap Wood
- Insulating Materials
- Gutters or Irrigation
MEDICINES AND FIRST AID
Did you know that every business with onsite employees is required to have access to a first aid kit? Even the small law firm down the street has a first aid kit. When it comes to scavenging these types of supplies you would do well to look at these small abandoned businesses and business parks. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with what can be found in the desk drawers of offices. In a true SHTF situation, even animal medicines may prove useful. Before considering any “alternative” medicine, be sure to research the heck out of it.
Whether we are talking about bullets, guns, knives or even baseball bats, in a collapsed world where scavenging is necessary you will need to be able to protect yourself against various threats. The gun shop may not be the best stop to swing by on a scavenging jaunt, but what about the distribution center for a big box retailer that is far out in the country? A lot of firearms and ammunition get sent by mail in the USA, so when the crisis hits the chances are there will be weapons among the packages waiting to be delivered. It will be this type of thinking that makes scavenging profitable.
Scrap wood, metal, nails and other random bits and pieces will be crucial if you plan on DIYing yourself through the disaster. The good news about scavenging these items is that the disaster and the following collapse will likely leave plenty lying around to be scavenged.
Crumbling homes and buildings are likely to produce plenty materials to scavenge. You might still be in the market for things like nails. If you find yourself an abandoned pallet yard, you can build a whole house using the nails and wood you harvest from those pallets!
There will be a certain amount of risk when you head out to scavenge. Where you go and when will determine the amount of risk you face. We will look at two ways that you can scavenge smarter. You must be willing to do a little research ahead of the collapse, and learn to operate at the best time for scavenging. The items to bring with you is important. Tools, bags, cordage, liquid containers, duck tape, etc might all be very useful when scavenging. Especially if you hit the motherload. If you do hit the motherload, you may have to hide some of your booty to come back and get. Materials and tools for this would be handy. You should also think about Scavenging in pairs. 1 as a watcher and one as a scavenger. Also, a very valuable skill would be sign language.
Long before the scavenging begins you will want to make a resource map of your immediate area. These are simple to create. By printing an area map of your location and the surrounding areas (use google maps) you can mark all the major retailers and business parts in the immediate area. Color-coded markings and a key will help quickly identify things like medicine, food and tools. This resource map should focus less on the big retailers and more on small stores and business parks. Your scavenging success will come down to how few people you run into, so you want to stay away from obvious places that most people will search.
Stick to smaller business parks and offices for scavenging. Look also in abandoned homes that can be watched from afar. Valuable locations for various supplies could include feed stores, sale barns, and veterinary clinics. Tools, batteries, various fencing and repair items, and medicines and bandages can all be found there. These places may be picked clean early, but they may still be worthwhile for a scavenging trip. Also, feed stores may have batteries left for the poor man’s taser (cattle prod). Spend some time looking for the useful items: traps, rope, solar power, self-help books, etc.
Another very important factor in successful scavenging is when you decide to get out there and do it. Your goal should be to move when the least amount of people are around. The time between 3am and 6am is a great window to get things done. You have darkness for most of this time frame in most seasons. Those who stay up late will be sound asleep by this time.
When planning your trip be sure to calculate your round trip. Make sure that you have plenty of time to scavenge when you arrive at your location. Don’t blow an entire trip on travel time.
Places to Scavenge After SHTF:
- ABANDONED BUSINESS PARKS AND SMALL OFFICES
- DISTRIBUTION AND TRUCKING CENTERS
- USED CAR LOTS
- ABANDONED HOMES
- CELL TOWERS
- MANUFACTURING CENTERS
- PERSONAL STORAGE FACILITIES
Can see the original at http://www.askaprepper.com and https://www.prepperwebsite.com
We all know what our bug-out bag essentials are, right? 90% of the items we packed are pretty much the same for all of us… but what about the other 10%?
In this article I want to give you a list of “uncommon” survival items that some people have in their backpacks. Not just because it’s fun but because I want to give you some fresh ideas on what to pack. If, by the end of this article, I get you to say “Yeah, that sounds like a great idea, I’m gonna add item number 7!”… then the article is useful and I haven’t written it for nothing. If I fail, feel free to share your own weird survival items in a comment below so you can improve on this list.
Caveat: I’m not saying you need to start packing all these items. These are just a few ideas that may or may not make sense to your particular situation. Your bug-out bag essentials should have priority and you should always keep your backpack as light as possible by only packing what you need.
Floss is lightweight, takes very little space and hard to find post-collapse. But the really cool thing about is that it has a bunch of other uses, such as tying things up, to use it as fishing rod and so on.
#2. A hand-crank chainsaw
Hand crank chainsaws are ultralight, compact and can be used in both rural and urban scenarios. You never know when you come across a tree that your car is helpless against.
#3. Fishing net
Do you have rivers near your location? A net might bring you much needed food besides the little you’ve already packed.
#4. A hand fan
If high temperatures are a concern, a hand fan might be a lifesaver. Small, compact, lightweight and cheap – perfect for a BOB.
#5. A razor
A razor has many more uses besides shaving (which won’t be a priority when disaster strikes, anyway).
#6. A foldable skateboard
Skateboards allow you to travel at speeds of over 10 miles per hour while walking is usually done at about 3mph. The fact that you can also fold it means you can put it in your bug out bag (though I have a feeling you’ll take it for a spin every once in a while).
Cutting your nails without tweezers is hard. They take little space, they’re dirt cheap and might be unavailable when the brown stuff hits the fan. You might want to consider putting them in a Ziploc bag to avoid water getting to it and getting it all rusty.
Condoms have many uses besides the obvious one: they allow you to carry water, they can be used as a flotation device or even as a lens to start a fire (by filling them with water).
#9. Swim goggles
I’m not trying to scare you by telling you you’re gonna end up in a river somewhere, fighting for your life but, if you do have to cross one, wouldn’t it be better if you were equipped?
Besides, you can use these goggles in other situations, such as when there’s tear gas or when you give your kid the important task of trying to spark a fire.
#10. An alarm clock
I know a bug-out bag is supposed to be as light as possible but some people think an alarm clock could be useful. This is NOT something I personally pack (or intend to) but maybe you want to…
#11. A Frisbee
Frisbees have more uses than just for playing. You can use them to sit on or to prepare food on them for example.
#12. Fly fishing lures
You’re gonna want to fish, at least that’s what most bug-out scenarios suggest…
#13. Pipe cutter
This could be really useful in urban scenarios where you’ll encounter a lot of pipes. Let’s not forget that PVC pipes have a lot of uses pre and post-disaster as long as you can cut them to the desired length.
#14. Paper clips
There are dozens of uses for paper clips, from lock picking to using them as a worm hook, zipper pulls or even to make a small chain. You may also want to keep them in your edc kit, your car’s BOB, your get home bag and so on.
#15. An extra pair of underwear
Needless to say, you may not have the luxury of having your wardrobe with your when it hits the fan. But an even bigger question is, what will you do if the only pair of underwear when bugging out is the one you’re already wearing?
Put an extra pair of underwear in your bug-out bag. In fact, make that two, and you can thank me after SHTF.
Ok, those were it. I realize I could have added a lot more of these unusual items but I tried to stick to the ones that you will actually need. Take this article with a grain of salt and, if you feel the need to add some of these items, how about you build a second BOB with non-essentials that you may or may not be able to take with you as you evacuate?
Original posting on http://www.myfamilysurvivalplan.com
For a little background, I teach ATLS (Advanced Trauma Life Support) and BCON (Bleeding Control) training courses frequently. I’m an anesthesiologist in a rural community hospital. I also completed a year of residency training in General and Trauma Surgery during my journey to becoming a physician. Additionally, my family and I are advocates for personal and community preparedness. SHTF Life-Threatening Scenarios Many topics on this forum deal with “WTSHTF” scenarios. Of course, these emergencies, whether short-term or long-term are certainly not outside the realm of possibility. However, I’d also like to challenge all who read this to become better prepared …
The post Bleeding Control and First Aid Training, by Doctor Dan appeared first on SurvivalBlog.com.
Your non-prepper family members and friends think you’re nuts. Until you show them your Water Straw or cool Survival knife, and they say, “Hey, that’s a good idea!”
With the holiday season around the corner, and for every gift-giving season, perhaps you would like to get your loved ones or friend something that will leave them better prepared and motivated to think about preparedness. Where do you begin and how do you figure out what to get them? People can be hard to shop for anyway, and if they’re already skeptical, you will want to start out slow. You can increase your chances of creating a thoughtful, practical, and well-accepted gift by taking a few of things into consideration.
First, consider the location of your recipients, including weather and likely challenges. Then consider their lifestyle, perhaps including skill level, experiences, or interests. And finally, consider any unique needs they have. When I did this exercise for my family members, I discovered that survival-minded gifts would look very different for each of them!
For someone in Texas
For this region, the weather is generally above freezing, but tornadoes are frequent. They also deal with heat and floods. The loss of electricity is a real possibility with any of these events. With several major cities in this state, civil unrest is also a potential issue.
For this gift, buy flashlights and extra batteries for the power outages. Add enough canned food (with a can opener!) to last 2-3 days. Duct tape, plastic sheeting, and hammer and nails might be useful in case of storm damage. In that part of the country,most people don’t have basements, so storage is typically a garage. Packing these items in a tub for the garage or a truck might be the best bet.
Special Consideration: Children
For kids, I would suggest packing something in each these categories. (Pack something from each category in your own emergency kits!)
• Treats: Something individually packaged so their parents can bribe or distract them. For example, I keep fruit snacks in my tornado kit in our basement.
• Warmth: Making sure kids’ physical needs are met will go a long way towards meeting their emotional needs during a scary time. Pack a small fleece blanket or cozy sweatshirt (a size too big) for each child.
• Games & Books: Again, distraction is going to be key. Consider a read-aloud chapter book, like Stuart Little or one of the Chronicles of Narnia. Many board games, such as Life and Yahtzee now come in card varieties that would pack very well in an emergency kit.
• Light: Glow sticks, flashlights, headlamps and fun, colorful finger lights are kid friendly. Allowing kids the ability to control the light and what they see (especially Mom and Dad) can be a comfort to them during an emergency.
• Soft things: Even the toughest teen or pre-teen will feel better clutching something soft. A few small stuffed animals for the younger kids, or maybe some foam stress balls for the older ones.
• Sanitation: Baby wipes and more baby wipes! If your tiny relatives might still be in diapers, include a package of next-size-larger disposable diapers or training pants, too. Ziploc type bags will also be valuable for putting dirty diapers in.
Someone in Colorado
This region experiences significant weather swings in hours — 50 or 60 degree swings in the same day are common. In winter, blizzards with several feet of snow can result being stuck at home for a few days. And wildfires can mean evacuation is a real possibility. Nearly every summer somewhere in the state, there are people to need to leave at a moments notice.
The lifestyle there tends to be outdoorsy, so portable is key for this gift. Everything should fit in a backpack. Add a waterproof poncho for unexpected weather and consider a including a pair of hiking socks. A Firestarter and knife would be a great versatile tool. Some Cliff bars and powdered sports drink mix would easily fit too. And here is the perfect opportunity for a Water Straw, too!
Special consideration: someone far away
For someone who is “isolated” in another state, away from the rest of the extended family, you might consider making them a special evacuation kit. Pack a compass, and paper maps with several exit routes marked out. Make a written communication plan for them, perhaps including Solar Radio. Include a written list of family member addresses and phone numbers, too.
Housebound in Minnesota
The upper Midwest region is famous for snow and cold. It also gets its share of tornadoes in warmer weather.
Most people in the Midwest have basements, so space usually isn’t an issue. Pack everything in a brightly colored waterproof tub for storage. It will likely be stored in a basement. In the tub, add duct tape, a small collapsible shovel, and one or more fleece blankets. If you have the budget, a small household tool kit would also be a good idea. For the colder months, hand/foot warmers would be essential. Include some canned soups, a can opener, and hot drink packets. For quick heating, include some fire starters or sternos.
Special consideration: dietary restrictions or medical needs
There are a lot of emergency supplies you can provide for your loved one that will help, regardless of their unique dietary or medical needs. For a family member with dietary restrictions, your best bet may be to avoid food altogether. Instead, include a list of food items or quantities they should have on hand, and maybe they will be able to add those themselves. Add a brightly colored note to encourage your loved one to stash away some of their medications or medical supplies.
Retired in Arizona
It’s hot, and water is a real concern any time of year, but it is also dry, and the nights can get cold.
Space is an issue in many of the retirement communities. Most residents in these areas have recently downsized, so the thought of adding extra “stuff” doesn’t appeal to them in the least. A very small tub, or even a backpack might be the best bet to hold a selection of useful, compact supplies.
Water is the primary concern. This is another great opportunity to include a Water Straw or a filtering water bottle that combines the filter and a handy container. If you have the budget, you might even consider including a water system. Tarps and bungee cords would be useful both for shade and collecting water if it did rain. A rechargeable flashlight and solar charger would work well with the often sunny days. Some lip moisturizer, sun screen, as well as some hats or bandanas can help protect the face. Pack dried fruit or space bars for snacks, and a thermal blanket for each person for those unexpectedly cold nights.
Special consideration: Pets
If your loved one has pets, you might consider including some basic items for their pet. If you don’t know what the critter needs, just include a list with your tub or backpack gift.
• Water: A collapsible bowl would fit well in an emergency kit.
• Food: small packages of treats or canned food would mean at least Fido or Fluffy could eat something if their owner was stranded.
• A leash and collar: Normally, the owner probably wants something specific, but including these could mean the difference between being able to keep the animal or not if the pet owners end up in a shelter.
• Packet for documents: A simple office-meeting ID pouch would work to keep the animals paperwork. Again, this is something the owner will have to provide, but a brightly colored note inserted where the documents should go can be a great reminder.
Your goal is not to make preppers out of your family members or friends overnight. Rather, show them you care by making sure they’re taken care of in the event of an emergency that is common to their area. Getting them started might make make it easy for them to take the next steps on their own.
To help them further, you might print out and include a general list from FEMA’s website of suggested items every household should have. That way, if they want to work on being prepared, it’s easy to take the next step.
Even if they don’t turn into preppers overnight, at least you can worry a little less. If something does happen, they’ll be better off next year than they were this year.
How & Why Hydrogen Peroxide is So Useful
Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has an extra oxygen atom than Water (H2O), this extra oxygen atom breaks down and the molecule of water releases from this separately. It is this extra oxygen atom that makes the hydrogen peroxide so useful. The Hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning, bleaching, sterilizing, as a disinfectant etc. but it can also be used in horticulture. In simple words, Hydrogen Peroxide acts as an oxygen supplement for plants (beneficial if used in low strength). It works by releasing oxygen and also aerates the soil.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide Uses Against Root Rot
Overwatering causes the shortage of Oxygen at the root zone. If you overwater the plant, the water fills the air spaces in soil and the plant’s roots suffocate due to the lack of air and they begin to die after 24 hours. To save such a plant from this problem, water it thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in 1 quart of water. The extra oxygen in the hydrogen peroxide provides the roots their much-needed oxygen to survive. After this, don’t water the plant until top 1 or 2 inches of soil dries out well.
2. Using Hydrogen for Faster Seed Germination
You can use hydrogen peroxide to help seeds germinate more quickly. Hydrogen peroxide softens the coat of seeds and kills any pathogen present on seed coat thus increase the germination rate and help the seed germinate faster. Soak your seeds in a 3% hydrogen peroxide for 30 minutes. Rinse the seeds several times with water before planting and plant them as usual.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide for Mold and Mildew
Hydrogen peroxide has an oxidizing property that is fatal for mold and mildew. Mix a liter of water with 10 tablespoons of 3 to 6% hydrogen peroxide depending on the level of infection. Spray this solution on plants daily until the fungus disappears.
4. Hydrogen Peroxide as a Fertilizer
Use hydrogen peroxide to help strengthen the root system of your plants. Hydrogen peroxide has one extra oxygen molecule (than water) that helps plant’s roots to absorb nutrients from soil more effectively, you can use this formula occasionally to boost the growth– Mix about 1 teaspoon of 3% Hydrogen peroxide with 1 gallon of water.
5. To Keep Pests Away
The hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pesticide. Spraying the plant thoroughly with 3% hydrogen peroxide mixed in the equal amount of water kills the pests and their eggs. The hydrogen peroxide also kills the bacteria that develop on fruits and vegetables.
With everything that has been going on in the world around us lately I’ve noticed the always popular trend of survival prepping surge to unparalleled heights. The need to hoard and to stock survival essentials and keep our families safe from danger and starvation is a very strong and an almost urgent need for most of us.
Even though we hope there is never a need for the prepping to be of actual use, it is important to at the very least have a few things handy for that “just in case” scenario that we all fear.
There are many articles already written on what the average family needs to be prepped and ready. However, I find most of those lists lacking three specific things that I believe are necessary for any long term survival situation.
Your Three Must Have Survival Essentials
If something were to happen and all the stores shelf’s were bare then we’d need to grow our own vegetable and fruits once again. Seeds are important because they insure that one will never have to go hungry. Might take some work but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Even more, seeds will become an important barter item. You could trade them for the items you lack or the items you want. Considering that you can find various seed vaults available for sale online, stockpiling seeds becomes an easy practice.
You could also harvest and store your own seeds, but that takes a little practice. It also requires a good knowledge of how long seeds can be stored and which are the proper conditions for storing them. Seeds are one of the survival essentials that should be at the top of your list. You should stockpile only what grows in your region because it’s unlikely that you will go to farm too far away from home.
Long shelf life, honey lasts forever and once it has hardened (crystallized) all you have to do is reheat it to get it soft again. This is one of the survival essentials that are a must. You should understand that this food will even outlast you, therefore it is recommended to have it in every survival pantry.
Honey can be used as a secondary calorie source. It packs 64 calories per tablespoon which comes in handy in an emergency where calories are hard to come by.
Not only is it a significant calorie source. It’s nutritious for you too with many vitamins in it that your body needs to function properly like b6, A,C,D, thiamin, riboflavin, potassium, and calcium too.
Honey can be used as a topical antibiotic. Because of its high sugar content it keeps bacteria from growing while killing the rest. It can be warmed (not hot, just warm) and applied to wounds, burns or skin infections. Honey will become a valuable alternative healing method when there will be no doctors to help you.
Honey also calms coughs and has many other healing uses that people have been relying on it for generations.
Even more, honey can be used to preserve food and in some parts of Africa they use honey to preserve raw meat. I’ve once eaten smoked meat that was preserved in honey for two years and there was nothing wrong with it. Except that it tasted a little sweet, which is normal if you consider that the meat has been submerged in honey for two years.
Remember that even though honey is great for adults and older children it is not recommended that any child under one year be given honey. Smaller children don’t have the working digestive tracts that older children and adults have and can unfortunately get botulism from honey.
Taking into account its obvious use as comfort liqueur, Vodka is necessary to have in case of an emergency. If a bad case scenario happened, eventually you would start to run out of supplies. You would have to start trading and bartering with others. One thing that will be in short supply by then and wanted by many is vodka. You just might be able to trade it for something your family could use: batteries, seeds, food, medical supplies etc.
Vodka can be used as an antiseptic. Put some on a cloth and clean your wounds and cuts with it. It can also be used to disinfect items you will use on your body for various healing procedures. You can soak the instrument in vodka for about 10 minutes to have a sterile tool.
Vodka can be used for pain relief. If you get hurt and are in need of quick pain relief while awaiting the healing process to begin, a shot or two of vodka will help numb the pain. Back in the day people used it to alleviate mouth pain. Some people use it even today since it’s cheaper than medicine. Survival essentials like alcohol and other vice items are frowned upon by many survivalists. They consider bartering with addicted people a dangerous scenario. To be fair, it’s all about having the upper hand and being in control. Addicts will become desperate to procure their vices and you will tip the scale in your favor as long as you take precautionary measures.
These three survival essentials alone won’t make you survival ready. I do believe that if added to your survival gear your family could have much more of a chance in the case of an emergency that requires families to fend for themselves.
Having a garden is great, whether you are having plants that bear flowers or the ones the cultivate fruits. Have you ever wonder, as you water tomatoes, how good it is if you can multiply them more and make a profit out of it? Well, guess what, saving seeds can actually do that for you.
But wait, there’s more! If you save your seeds, you do not only increase your chances of making more money, it can also help you save! If you know how to do the process correctly, you will no longer need to shell out money to purchase seeds for the next season.
That is why I decided to create this piece of writing because it is also dedicated to other gardeners, even if they are not after selling their crops.
Let’s cut the long wait and start discussing how you can make the most out of the seeds from your garden (or kitchen, if you are planning to start growing one).
This article will
- Tell you the difference between annual, biennial and perennial plants
- Discuss what pollination is
- Inform you about the importance of saving seeds
- Teach you about the lifespan of a seed
- Give you the materials you will need when you are planning to save seeds
- Explain the process of saving your seeds: harvest, clean, and store
- Share with you expert tips and tricks
- Let you know the difference between hybrids and pure breeds
- Answer frequently asked questions
#1. All about seeds
What are seeds?
Annual, Biennial and Perennial
Prior to discussing seeds themselves, let us be aware of the different kinds of plants. There are three kinds of them and let me show the difference one by one.
There are plants that produce seeds and develop them fully within 12 months; they are called annual plants. They complete their cycle within 1 year. Coin the term with annual which means year and you will remind yourself about this easily.
Others wait until the next year before flowering. For example, you have to expect your carrot or beet to flower and mature seeds next year even if you harvested them this summer. These types of plants are referred to as biennial plants. “Two years” will be your keyword with this type of plant.
These biennial plants are strong enough to survive cold seasons; you just have to help them. Your role, however, may vary from one location to the other. In some areas, layering leaves or hay on top of the soil is enough, on the other hand, some plants needed to be transferred to a warmer ground and you have to return them to their places when spring comes.
There is a type of plant which can bear and mature seeds continuously every year, the perennials. You might notice them hibernating during winter but they will surely grow back from the same root in the spring.
Just like humans, plants can come from a pure ethnic group or they could carry a mix of different races. Plants can pollinate in three ways: from two types of plants, through the help of wind or insects, or by themselves.
If the plant reproduces from the first two processes, it is called cross-pollination. On the other hand, there are plants that have both male and female parts. In return, they would be able to successfully pollinate within. This is what we call self-pollination.
Plants which can self-pollinate can remain pure even without isolating them from other species but if you want to be sure, feel free to do so.
Examples of self-pollinating plants would be beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes. Beets, broccoli, carrots, corn, cucumbers, leeks, onions, pumpkins, quinoa, and spinach are the examples of cross-pollinating plants.
Importance of saving seeds
Some of the people I know who started saving seeds did it for one reason: they wanted to save money. Although it is not much, since tomato seeds would cost as low as $2, they would need to spend more for the specific type they wanted. On top of that, they would even have to travel far and exert effort to find it.
Did you know that decades ago, farmers and gardeners do not really purchase seeds from the market? They simply save seeds and produce a good number of vegetable varieties from it. Every gardener knows how to do it before. And every one of them can successfully come up with a produce that is acclimatized to the type of land and kind of weather in their area.
The rise of technology and modern agricultural processes may have made everything easier; conversely, they have reduced crop diversity drastically. It is not surprising to hear older people looking for fruits or vegetables with a specific description and even the biggest supermarket in town cannot provide it.
Since we are only left with few kinds of vegetables nationwide, the seeds that we can buy from the market have the tendency to be unsuitable to the kind of land in our locality. It is possible also that it could not survive our climate, and worse, it becomes susceptible to diseases and pests – things the farmers from the previous generation do not really consider a problem.
Saving seeds do not only save money, it also saves effort and time. When you have saved seeds, they are already prepared for development. This means all you have to do is to transfer your seed heads to one bed and rotate as needed.
Extinction is another concern for most gardeners that is why seed saving is highly encouraged. The crops we used to enjoy with our grandparents are starting to become wiped out. The culture that is attached to these kinds of flowers or fruits will be affected sooner or later. We may be able to create that traditional dish we have been serving for decades, but the taste will already be altered.
The problem with extinction is that it is not only the classification we should be worried about. Without people who save seeds of certain plants, our grandchildren might not be able to enjoy their presence anymore. Ever imagined them asking “What is an eggplant granny?”? How hard could it possibly be if they do not even know what a ‘plant’ is?
Without seeds, we will be having problems with food security too. With seeds, we no longer have to eat genetically modified produces. These types are often reported to be causing obesity and allergic reactions and are even sometimes classified as carcinogenic products. Grow your plants at home and you free yourselves and your families from crops that are exposed to chemicals. For more ideas, visit our friend at Be Self Sufficient.
If you are still not convinced about the importance of saving seeds, try watching the movie Lorax and see how the future generation wished to see a living tree and how they tried to guard one seed with their life.
#2. Saving Seeds 101
If you are already growing fruits and flowers, seeds then can be found all over your garden!
First-timers can start with self-pollinating plants such as beans peas, peppers and tomatoes. I will be guiding you how to identify healthy seeds later on.
For gardeners with advanced skills on seed saving, you can now try other crops such as cucumbers, gourds, melons, and pumpkins. You have to be aware however that there is a high chance that the products may not have the exact characteristics from the parent plants.
Lifespan of a Seed
The survival of seeds differs from one species to another. Some seeds are naturally long-living and others are not.
The secret for their longevity depends on how carefully you followed the saving process. If the seeds are properly stored, they can stay ‘plant-able’ for three to four years. It is, however, best to plant and sow them according to their cycle.
Some farmers prefer older seeds for selected plants as they believe that they will produce more fruit by that time.
Things that can spoil your saved seeds:
Parsnips can live up to 2 years. Seeds that can live up to 3 years include beetroot, chard and leaf beet, carrots, onions, leeks, spring, and parsley. Courgettes and squashes are viable for 4 years. Beans, lettuces, peas, peppers, and aubergines can last for 5 years. You can save tomato seeds until they’re 8 years old and cucumbers and melons until they’re 10.
What are the things you need to prepare when you plan to save seeds?
Labeling materials will be needed such as markers and optional stickers. This will be used when you warn yourself and others not to pick a particular fruit on your plant or tree. Another case in which you will need this is when you store multiple kinds of seeds. Labeling will help you identify them easier.
Harvesting materials would include pruners to cut off the stem of the fruit from the plant, a knife for cutting the fruit in half to expose the seeds, and lastly, spoon to scoop out the seeds.
Cleaning materials will be needed after you harvest your seeds. Depending on your practice, culture, and the type of fruit, the resources may vary. The universal thing you will need is, of course, water.
Others make use of metal sieve to separate the seed from the flesh. Supplementary practices might need glass jar and spoon, wherein they would put the seeds in water, stir it several times to separate it from other fruit parts. I recommend the latter technique for soft and tiny seeds.
Storing materials are crucial in saving seeds. To separate multiple kinds of seeds, you may use a paper envelope or packets and Ziploc plastics. You have to prepare air-tight containers as well to prevent moisture from accumulating on your samples.
Selecting and Harvesting Healthy Seeds
Hybrids are not advisable for beginners, instead, go for open-pollinated varieties or the ‘heirloom’ types. These are the ones that have been passed down from generations to generations.
The secret in producing the best fruits lies on the parent seed. Select only the best tasting ones to save.
For runner bean seeds, the healthy ripe ones can be expected from the bottom of the plant. Just like tomatoes, we have to leave them so that they can mature fully. Wait until you see swelling in its pods, and as it changes its color to yellow then brown.
For lettuces, seed heads must be dried for two to three weeks after flowering. The tricky part in harvesting lettuce seeds is that they don’t mature all at once, therefore, you cannot get many seeds in a single harvest. They will be ready when you see half the flowers have gone to seed.
For peppers, wait until they turn red and become wrinkled.
For tomatoes, you can acquire the seeds from the moment they get ripe. However, you might want to leave it on the plant until it gets overly ripe. They will appear to be wrinkled, dark red, and extra juicy. The aim here is to let the seed mature as much as possible.
Cleaning and Processing
When processing bean seeds, you can open the pods by hand. If you have a lot of seeds, you can whirl them. If you have huge chaffs, use a fork to separate. The remaining particles should be sorted through.
To prepare your lettuce for cleaning, shake off seeds every day from flowering heads one at a time. You can remove the remaining seeds through manual rubbing. Sift the seeds and chaffs using screens.
Peppers can be processed in two different ways. If you just have a small amount of pepper seeds, it is advisable for you to use the dry method. Remove the lowermost part of the fruit; the seeds in the central cone should be stripped carefully afterwards.
Large amounts of peppers need to be processed during the wet method. Cut off the peppers, this time, on the topmost part. Using a blender put water and add the peppers. Blend slowly until the seeds would sink on the bottom part.
Slice tomatoes lengthwise and gradually squeeze to extract the middle cavity. This would be the seeds and the surrounding jelly. Place the extract in a glass jar, pour a small amount of water and let it sit for three days.
Ensure that you place the container in a warm area, and you stir it once every 24 hours. After a few days, the water will contain a fungus that eats the jelly components of the mixture. Because of this, germination is then prevented. Another benefit of the presence of the fungus is that it creates anti-bacterial substances that can combat diseases as manifested by bacterial cankers and specks. Let it sit.
Pour warm water into the container after three days. This time, the contents will settle down. Once it fully settles, pour the water out. Repeat until the seeds are rinsed fully.
Aside from the seeds of tomatoes, the flesh can be saved as well if this is properly done.
- HAND CLEANING
This was exemplified in our discussion with tomato preparation. Blend water with fruit and the debris and bad seeds will float as the viable seeds will settle at the bottom. Pour the contents leaving the seeds below. Rinse several times until the water being poured off is completely clean.
There are different ways on how to store a seed. You have to be primarily concerned about avoiding the seeds to get moist or else they can spoil easily. Check the material of your container and the construction of your lid and seal to be sure.
The materials that are highly advisable would be glass and tri-laminate foil bag. The transparency of the glasses makes it a perfect choice as it will allow you to observe the seeds easily. However, since light can also damage your seeds, getting colored glasses are wise. Plastic containers can also be transparent; my concern is that the seeds can be exposed to the chemicals of the plastic, eventually affecting the quality of the seeds nonetheless.
For long term storage, foils are the best choice. Ensure that the foil is tightly sealed. Closely monitor the temperature. A temperature heat sealer that has a jagged sealing bar is also desirable.
For seeds with sharp edges, placing them in a paper envelope might help. Alternatively, you may use vacuum sealed bags before placing them in glass containers.
Make sure you do not forget to put labels on them.
Write down the name, their species, and the date you collected them.
To help you choose the perfect container you might want to read: Selecting containers for long-term storage.Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.
Maintain a temperature between 32° and 41°F.You might want to keep your seeds in the fridge if you have extra space.
Aside from the temperature, ensure that the seeds will never get in contact with moisture. You may use silica gels or freshly opened powdered milk as desiccants.
#3. Saving Seeds: Expert Tips and Tricks
- Get organized. Planning properly will help you save time, effort and money. Create a habit of recording so that you can identify the seeds you’ve saved, when you are supposed to sow it and its expiration date. It is also going to be helpful if you note down your observations when you get your produce from a particular seed. This will help you identify what needs to be adjusted or continued.
- Once you are able to identify the fruit which you think has the highest quality of the batch, you have to label it. It is very important for you to label your target fruits as this will prevent accidental picking of the fruits by anyone.
- If you wish to produce a pure-breed plant, save seeds from a number of individual plants; about 1 seed per plant is good.
- Saving seeds from multiple harvests will maintain genetic diversity on your seed sample.
- If you wish a particular characteristic (example: size, shape or color), get the seeds from the plant that has that a specific trait.
- Want to know when the perfect time to harvest? When the fruits are starting to fall from the tree or plant, that’s your cue! Oh, I forgot, if there are no fruits, check the pods. You may start harvesting when the seeds rattle.
- Problems with humidity on your container? Put some rice grains inside! It will absorb moisture. (You probably heard about putting your wet gadgets in rice box, or when you see rice grains in restaurant’s salt shaker, they all share the same rationale.)
- To know the viability of seeds, get some of your samples, dampen it using a paper towel and place it loosely in a plastic bag. Allow it to sit for a few days ensuring that it is properly aerated and warmed. If there is a positive germination, then they are good to go.
- When preparing peppers using the wet method, do not get the seeds that will float as those seeds are not fully matured yet, therefore, they are not good for saving
- Drying may take time that is why patience is a virtue. Never speed this process up by cooking your seeds in the oven.
- Check your sample from time to time. Freezing your seeds might help when you notice a presence of insects in your container. Three-day freezing is acceptable to get rid of them. Remove seeds that have white dots or holes.
- When you sow your seeds, lightly tamp the combination of soil, mix, and seeds in your container. This will ensure that there is a good contact between them. The effect of this tamping is that you will get an assurance that the nutrients will be relayed to the seeds.
- Selecting your containers matter! Choose a container that is flat and wide. For starting seeds, clay pots are highly recommended. The wider the better, because this will prevent your seeds to overcrowd.
- Decontaminate your containers before starting your seeds. You may soak your container in bleach (10% solution) for 15 to 30 minutes and dry before using.
- Drainage and adequate air flow will prevent disease. Remember, bacteria and other pathogens thrive best in moist, dark and warm areas.
- For practical gardeners like me, you may upcycle cardboard canisters and pill bottles for your storage needs. For starting seeds, feel free to use recycled plastic containers. Think about saving your next yogurt, ice cream, margarine containers for this purpose the next time you consume those.
#4. Hybrid or Pure Breed?
This has been a very controversial issue when it comes to seed saving. Technically, we discourage saving hybrid vegetable seeds to be saved as they will not be producing pure species by the time you harvest them.
Please be guided that the label F-1 does not necessarily mean ‘do not save’. You just have to be informed that this plant is from a successful cross-pollination of two pure lines because they wanted a specific characteristic to manifest. Hybrids are created naturally, however, if your plant is already from a hybrid seed, it is not wise to save your seeds because the generation that this plant will breed will be having low quality.
You might also encounter the word GMO seeds which, just like the hybrid seeds, are a combination of two or more varieties. Unlike cross-pollinated plants and seeds, on the other hand, genetically modified organisms are established in laboratories. If you read my statement slowly, I mentioned varieties, not ‘plant varieties’ to be specific because GE (genetically engineered) seeds are a combination of different biological kingdoms like bacteria and corn.
There are a huge number of researches that prove bad effects of genetically modified organisms on human health. Agriculturally, since GMO crops are still plants, they still have seeds which could be carried by insects and the wind. This may then cross-pollinate other produces. And we do not know how they might change the future generations of the affected plants.
#5. Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I start to save the seeds in my garden?
Start to save seeds from crops that can be easily saved such as the ones we discussed above (beans, lettuce, peppers, and tomatoes). Make sure that you have an adequate amount of plants. Take into consideration the fact that you need to have a good population size to get your sample. You may have to adjust the placement of your plants to produce plants which are not hybrid. Proper spacing is important to prevent cross pollination.With this, it is important to properly plan what kinds of seeds you are going to collect and the sowing strategies you have to implement.
2. What are GMO? Are they suitable for saving?
GMO is an abbreviation that stands for Genetically Modified Organisms. From the term itself, these are living organisms that were produced with scientific innervations. Genetically modified organisms have DNAs that are combined from two (sometimes even more) different species.
There is a huge debate on this matter as there are localities banning GMO products. The benefit, however, of altering breeds is that they create a new type in which the good traits of two strains can be combined to create a product that will manifest them both.
Cross-breeding is typically done for different reasons. Primarily, agriculturists would want to create a crop that can resist insect and disease better, are more adaptable to different kinds of soil and climate, are much more tolerant to heat or drought, can withstand pollution, and has a bigger nutritional value. Aside from the aforementioned reasons, breeding can minimize the impact on soil and off-farm, develop produce for populations with low resources, and are claimed to support whole-farm ecology.
In some states, production of genetically engineered seeds is prohibited. There are so many studies that prove the negative consequences of a genetically modified organism. Hence, I also do not support saving seeds from a GE plant.
3. What are organic produces?
Organic produces come from 100% organic seeds. Organic gardening ensures that the crop is void of any chemicals in any form such as fertilizers, pesticides, and fungicides. Farmers who grow organic produces make use of all-natural fertilizers, manures, and compost.
Aside from being safe, organic gardening is highly encouraged because it is also easy and more affordable.
Unfortunately, there are so many genetically modified organisms today. To prevent your organic garden to be contaminated with GMOs, buy single-ingredient organic foods, grow your own heirloom or open-pollinated plants, and practice isolation techniques for your plants.
4. How can I grow plants from seeds?
It’s easy! You can do it in five steps: select, harvest, clean, dry and store. Select which fruit you would like to grow next season. Wait until the fruit is overly ripe but not rotten. Once it is ready, cut the fruit in two, and scoop the seeds. Cleaning can be done in different methods if you are saving tomato seeds, put the seeds and the gel around it to a bottle of water and stir occasionally for two days. Once the seeds are totally separated from the gel, you may take it out and dry it. Use towels, plate or glass for drying. Never use paper products as the fibers can stick on the seed. Dry your seeds for at least 2 weeks. You may plant the seeds to your garden beds or pots once they dry completely.
A survival cache is a container of some sort which contains essential survival supplies that you would hide in a secret location. What you store in them is entirely up to you but most people will store extra ammunition and guns, food, first aid kits, tarps, tools, and anything else they think will be of use during an emergency or shtf scenario. It should basically contain the same type of items that you would place in your main bug out bag. Some people who have a bug out location selected have gone out and hid several survival caches along a secret and random path. They stock these caches with essential supplies that will help them along the way to get to their destination.
It’s extremely important to have survival caches in place and why you should have one should be pretty obvious by now. Lets say a disaster of some sort has occurred and you are unable to get home where your main bug out bag is located. Instead, it might make more sense to go to your secret location and retrieve your cache of supplies. Another example could be that society has completely broken down and a group of vigilantes break into your home and demand you hand over your remaining emergency supplies. Instead of confronting them it would probably be easier and safer to just hand over what they want and chances are they will leave you alone.
By having a survival cache in place you are guaranteeing yourself that you will have a backup of essential supplies in the event that you use up your main stockpile, it has been stolen or in case you are not able to get to it safely. By having the mentality that a well stocked bug out bag is all you’ll need, please think about this again and consider your family’s well being in the event that a disaster does strike. Perhaps you will be spared and a disaster will never directly affect you in your lifetime, but simply coming to the conclusion that you have enough stuff prepared could prove to be a costly or even fatal mistake. When it comes to preparedness, you’re never finished.
Survival gardening when the SHTF is problematic. Thefts from a backyard garden or small farm will be rampant, and with each theft, you lose food, there’s damage to the garden, and you’ve lost labor and other resources. One alternative is to move your survival gardening indoors.
Of course, indoor gardening cannot be a complete solution. The limited space and the need for light and nutrients makes indoor gardening expensive. And the amount of food you can produce will always be very limited. Even so, it can be a useful adjunct to stored food, outdoor gardening, and bartering for food.
What To Grow
Among the easiest indoor plants to grow are container herbs: thyme, basil, oregano, chives, cilantro, marjoram, mint, rosemary, dill, and parsley. Stevia leaves can be grown and used as a sweetener. Parsley is a
particularly good choice as it can be used in greater amounts than many other herbs. Meals prepared from stored food can be rather monotonous. Herbs and spices help make your meals more palatable.
Micro-greens, as they are called, are simply leafy vegetables, such as lettuces, spinach, radish, mustard, arugula, kale, turnip tops, beet greens, amaranth, and others, which are harvested when young. You can get a crop of micro-greens in only two to four weeks after planting. After cutting the greens down to the stem, you can sometimes get a second or third crop to springs up from the stems.
Micro-greens add flavor, fiber, and some nutrition to stored food. They add variety, color, and taste to otherwise boring meals. Today, you can go into any grocery store and choose from thousands of different foods. When the modern food production and distribution system fails, we will all be eating from a much small set of choices. The variety you can get from your own herbs and greens will make a difference to nutrition and taste.
Can you grow anything more substantial? Yes, you can. Certain varieties of tomato are designed for containers, even for small windowsill sized pots and hanging planters. These can be grown on a patio outdoors, or near a window inside that gets plenty of sun. Now you are not going to produce enough food, in this way, to provide a major amount of protein, fat, or carbohydrates for your diet. But take some stored rice and beans, and add tomatoes, herbs, and greens and then you have a much improved meal.
Peppers can also be grown in containers. The smaller containers can produce enough peppers to flavor many meals. A larger container might produce enough peppers to add to a salad or a stir-fry meal, once in a while. Colorful hot peppers can be grown in abundance. Some smaller sweet bell peppers will add to the bounty.
Where To Grow It
A sunny windowsill is perfect for small pots with different herbs. A bay window facing south is probably best for larger plants, such as greens, tomatoes, and peppers. Hanging pots give a plant more room, so that the stems and leaves can spread out and get more sun. Then, if you are a little more ambitious, you could enclose a porch or patio, to make, in effect, a little greenhouse attached to your home.
Another option is to use artificial lighting. On a small scale, the cost and amount of space and electricity is a modest investment. The most expensive thing is the lighting. LED lights are best, as they produce the most light from the least electricity. But they are pricey. I would suggest a few grow-lights used as an addition to light from a sunny window. Once you go whole hog with indoor growing, using hydroponics and lots of LED lights, the benefit-to-cost ratio falls dramatically.
I’ve heard that some people grow cannabis, surreptitiously, indoors. If the food economy collapses, growing food, even indoors, might need to be done in a similar stealthy manner. But again, costs, space, and resource use would be high. It will always be more economical to store food while it is cheap, than to try to grow it when food becomes scarce.
Only six electrolytes minerals needed by the blood in fairly large amounts are obtained from the diet.
The first two are provided by table salt: sodium chloride. Adding about 1/2 teaspoon of salt to your diet per day provides enough sodium and chloride. The typical American diet already has plenty of salt in junk food, fast food, etc., so no additional salt is needed. But if you are eating from a survival garden and from stored food, you might need to add salt to your meals. Be sure to include plenty of table salt with your stored foods.
Magnesium is found in whole grains. Although whole grains spoil sooner in storage, it might be a good idea to have some whole grain flour, brown rice, and whole-wheat pasta in storage. You can also grow amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat three crops high in magnesium.
Potassium is highest in potato. Tomato juice and sun-dried tomatoes are also high in potassium. Fruits and vegetables generally contain some potassium. Canned tomato sauce, paste, and juice are a good source of potassium. Potatoes can be easily grown in a survival garden. Some varieties of potato can be grown from seed, rather than from small chunks of potato.
Calcium and phosphorus are both found in cheese and other dairy products. Long term storage of cheese is a little tricky. You can store those boxed mac and cheese dinners the kind with the powdered cheese or the deluxe kind with a paste like cheese sauce. Your other good option is to throw a blocks of cheese in the freezer. Frozen foods keep indefinitely, but the consistency of the cheese may suffer.
If you are trying to survive from stored foods, you will need the three macro-nutrients: protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as the above six electrolytes. A survival garden is a good option for supplementing stored food. And if any food is still available at markets after the SHTF, you should prioritize macro-nutrients and electrolytes.
Did you know pine trees can be used as food, medicine and survival equipment?
The pine is one of the most useful trees on the planet, providing food, shelter, medicine and fuel. Knowing how to utilize this versatile resource could someday be the key to your very survival if you find yourself alone in the wilderness.
There are many species in the pine family (or genus Pinus), and they can be found virtually everywhere in the world.
Many types of pine needles can be used to make a tea rich in vitamin C. Simply steep a handful of needles for 5-10 minutes. The longer you steep them, the less vitamins will remain, so don’t overdo it.
It’s important to note that some pine needles are poisonous be sure to avoid consuming the needles from the Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla), the Yew (Taxus) and the Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa also known as Western Yellow Pine, Bull Pine and Blackjack Pine). Make sure to learn the differences between the edible and non-edible varieties before making pine needle tea.
Pine nuts from all varieties of pine are edible, although some are small and not typically harvested. They can be a little tricky to harvest and perish quickly once they are shelled but can be stored longer if left in their shells or roasted.
Inner pine bark and pine resin are edible; male pine cones and their pollen can also be eaten. Native Americans chewed pine resin as sort of a natural chewing gum. The inner bark of large pine trees is edible, and the bark from young pine twigs can be eaten as well. Be careful not to damage or kill a pine tree by tearing off too much bark, and never ring the bark from a pine tree.
Instead, tear off small pieces of bark or look for branches that have already fallen. The inner bark can be eaten raw it can also be boiled, fried or cooked over a flame.
Pine resin is a natural antiseptic and disinfectant. It also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. It can be directly applied to wounds or sores and helps keep germs out. Pine resin can also be used to staunch the flow of blood.
The resin can also be used to extract splinters just dab some on the skin where the splinter is embedded and within a day or two the splinter should come out on its own.
Pine resin makes a great fire starter, particularly in damp settings. You can usually find a spot on a pine tree where resin is oozing out from a break in the bark try not to injure the tree to collect pine resin, but if necessary, make a small break in the bark or break a branch. The resin will begin to ooze out as protection for the tree.
If you are in an area where there are pine stumps, look for places on the stump where resin has soaked the wood and made it sticky. Tear small strips of the stickiest wood from the stump and save them as aids for starting fires.
Pine boughs can be used to create shelter, and pine needles can be used to make a soft, warm and dry bed.
Water-proofing and other uses:
Pine resin can be used as a waterproofing agent and works well on tent seams, boots and mittens.
Heat pine resin up and mix with ashes or charcoal from your campfire to make glue. Once cooled, the glue will harden but can be easily heated up again when it is needed.
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When you hike, you carry a survival kit that should cover the basic needs for yourself in a survival situation. When you hike with children you carry a bit bigger kit to help you care for your needs and the child’s. But what happens if you get separated from the child? Your best line of defense is a survival kit suited for your child’s needs and abilities.
The basic needs that you’ll need to meet are Shelter, Warmth, Signaling and First Aid. These are real needs for a child. If they have to spend the night hugging a tree until the survival crew gets there, if it gets cold, if she cuts herself or if he needs to signal to a helicopter or emergency crew then they will definitely need to have the means to do so in their kit and as importantly, know how to use them.
But that’s not the only thing you’ll be interested in. Psychology is just as important. To keep them from panicking and getting themselves in a worse situation you’ll want to give them things to keep them occupied. This can be a flashlight to keep the scary things away at night, candies to suck on, toys to play with or what have you. They will need to pass the time, be it 5 minute, one hour, or 1 day.
- Emergency Blanket
- Rain Poncho
- Signal Mirror
- Emergency Whistle
- First Aid Gear (Kit)
- Flashlight/Signal Light
- Fire Steel and Sticker
- Ziploc Bag (Carry Water)
- Cotton Balls
- Duct Tape
- Knife (Older Kids)
If you carry chapstick in your packet, like most people do, then here are some neat ideas you can use during your next outdoor adventure.
- A DIY fire starter – Combine some chapstick with a cotton ball for an improvised and reliable fire starter.
- An Improvised First Aid kit – Use the chapstick to cover and protect minor, topical injuries. It’ll keep it protected, clean and prevent minor bleeding. Make sure you use non-flavored for this!
- A gear lubricant – Chapstick is petroleum based, so it can be used to stop squeaks in gear and lubricate sticky zippers.
- A Temporary Water-proof tool– If you find a small leak in your gear, a temporary field repair can be done with chapstick. It’ll act as a temporary fix to prevent water seeping through the tent, jacket, pack or what have you.
- An Emergency Candle – A surprisingly effective homemade, emergency candle lantern by twisting a cotton ball into a wick and coating it in the chapstick.
Ammunition selection can be one of the most intimidating challenges facing a new shooter or firearm owner. Manufacturers produce an array of different loads, with each one varying in some way from the others. Projectile weight, projectile type, velocity and other factors all differ, even among loads designed for the same firearm.
Fortunately, making sense of the diverse ammo offered by manufacturers is not as difficult as some might believe. Once you understand the various kinds of ammunition available and how they perform, you can easily select ammo to fit your intended purposes.
For new shooters trying to understand how to properly choose ammo for a specific application, below are explanations for what makes good target/training, personal defense, and hunting loads. For each category, there are also example loads given for each type of firearm: handgun, rifle and shotgun.
Whether you’re a serious shooter planning to spend a lot of time on the range or a casual plinker who shoots a few times a year, you’ll need ammo to fuel your chosen firearm. In most cases, this means buying a widely available and relatively inexpensive load.
For rifles and handguns, the cheapest cartridges, or complete loaded rounds of ammunition, are those featuring a full metal jacket (FMJ) projectile. An FMJ bullet incorporates a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal and requires less manufacturing than the bullets used in other more complex self-defense and hunting loads. This makes FMJs less expensive to produce and therefore cheaper for the customer.
With shotgun ammunition, the least expensive shells are typically lightweight target loads in No. 7 ½ shot and smaller (the higher the number, the smaller the shot). These shells are 2 ¾ inches in length and around 1 ounce in payload weight. The projectiles, called pellets, are normally lead, although some states and ranges require the use of steel shot.
In addition to cost, another important factor for target or training ammunition is how much recoil it produces. If you plan on spending any significant amount of time shooting, you’ll want a light-recoiling load that won’t wear down your hands or your shoulder. Small-bore rimfire cartridges are great in this regard, especially for new shooters who might be unfamiliar with or intimidated by recoil. It’s best to avoid magnum loads if possible.
Overall, ammunition used for general plinking, target practice and training is reasonably accurate and doesn’t break the bank, or your body.
Although cost remains a consideration for many shooters when buying personal defense ammo, of far greater concern is the ammunition’s terminal performance. When your life, or the lives of your family, is threatened, you want a load that will reliably stop that threat as quickly as possible. The most effective way to do that is to use a load that impacts the target with a lot of energy and produces the greatest amount of damage.
With rifles and handguns, this means using cartridges with a hollow-point projectile. A hollow-point bullet features a cavity in its tip designed to make the projectile expand on impact.
This expansion is key for two reasons. First, it generates a larger wound channel on the target, which increases damage. Second, it controls the amount of penetration to keep the round inside the target, which reduces the chances of harming innocent bystanders and transfers all the bullet’s kinetic energy into the target.
With shotguns, the best option are buckshot loads, as they use pellets large enough to cause serious damage. While other loads, including birdshot, may be used for self-defense, they are far less likely to provide an immediate end to the threat.
In any personal defense scenario, you want a reliable load that transfers as much energy and damage as possible without over-penetration. This ensures a quick end to a dangerous situation, and harms nothing but the target.
As with personal defense scenarios, the most important thing when it comes to hunting ammunition is using projectiles that quickly and humanely bring down the target. Reliable bullet expansion and retained kinetic energy remain large aspects of this, which is why rifle and handgun hunters — as well as shotgunners using slugs — similarly use expanding hollow point or soft point projectiles (FMJ projectiles should never be used in hunting as they will likely penetrate straight through the animal, without generating enough damage to humanely kill it).
A key difference is the need for additional penetration. While personal defense projectiles are designed to stop human beings, hunting bullets are engineered to penetrate the thick skin, dense muscle tissue and bones of game animals. These bullets are typically heavier than personal defense projectiles and retain more of their weight after entering the target.
Regardless of what you’re pursuing, the highest priority in selecting ammo for hunting should always be ensuring the cartridge or shotgun shell you choose is powerful enough to ensure an ethical kill. Using a cartridge without sufficient power is bad for the animal if it’s wounded, and, if hunting dangerous game, can put the hunter at risk, too. If you can’t decide between two cartridges, it’s best to err on the side of more power.
Caliber or gauge is certainly important when it comes to ammo selection, but often the biggest difference between two loads is the actual object or objects being propelled downrange. This is likely truer with rifle and handgun ammo than shotgun ammo because they use cartridges with single projectiles, whereas shotgun shells can contain anything from a single slug to hundreds of pellets.
With rifle and handgun cartridges there are basically two broad types of bullets: full metal jacket (FMJ) and hollow-point. There are other kinds of projectiles as well as variations of these two designs, but for beginners these are the easiest to understand.
FMJs, which feature a soft core (usually lead) encased in a shell of harder metal, are inexpensive and great for target practice and general plinking. Hollow-point bullets, which expand on impact, are far better for personal defense and hunting because they produce larger wound channels on the target, resulting in greater damage.
For selecting shotgun ammo, the projectile (or projectiles) remains the primary concern. Aside from slugs designed for hunting, projectiles in shotgun shells — called pellets, or shot — are categorized according to their shot size. As with measuring gauge, shot size utilizes an inverse scale; the larger the shot size number, the smaller each individual pellet will be (No. 7 shot is smaller than No. 2 shot).
In general, No. 7 and higher shot are great for target shooting or hunting some small game animals, while shot sizes No. 6 and lower cover a variety of hunting scenarios. Buckshot is excellent for self-defense purposes, as well as predator and hog hunting, and shotgun slugs are ideal for hunting deer and larger game.
There are many ways in how you can signal for help in a survival situation…
GOT A WHISTLE, HORN or GUN?
Three short whistle tweets, three blasts from a horn or three shots fired from a gun and a pause means…HELP! And two short tweets. two horn blasts or two gunshot blasts back means “Hold on Buddy, I Hear Ya and I’m a Coming For You!”
GOT A MIRROR?
A small pocket or vehicle mirror? A flashlight or vehicle light mirror reflector? Some broken pieced of mirror, glass, a shiny tin can lid, aluminum foil, a CD, emergency thermal space blanket? If it’s a sunny day you can use all these items for signaling.
GOT SOME FIRE?
Something to ignite and start a fire with like a lighter, matches or some other type of fire starter? If you build three separate fires (100 feet or 30 meters apart) either in a perfect triangle or a straight line, internationally this means HELP! But if you can’t build them in a triangle or straight line because of the terrain, one signal fire is better than no signal fire at all. But try to build your fire(s) somewhere in an open area and as high up as possible so it can be seen better from the air and ground search parties too.
DID YOU KNOW…during daylight hours a signal fire can be seen a lot further away if you can produce the right color smoke? For example, if you’re in a green environment like a jungle or forest you should try to produce a “white smoke” which can be done by adding some green vegetation to your burning fire. And if you’re in snow white or desert environment you should try to produce “black smoke,” which won’t be easy unless you have some type of petrol like diesel, oil, plastic or rubber tire.
GOT A STROBE or CAMERA w/FLASH?
You can use’em at night for signaling a long ways off. Ain’t got no strobe or camera but a flint & steel fire starter? Great! If you strike the flint once every 3 seconds the bright white flash from a distance will look like a small battery operated strobe light.
GOT A CELLULAR or TWO-WAY RADIO?
Never use it unless you have a good signal, keep it always turned off to conserve battery power. Turn it on only when you come to any high ground, but if there’s still no signal, again keep it turned off and put it on only when you arrive at some new high ground. If there’s no high ground in sight and it’s all flat, try climbing the tallest tree to pick up a signal. Repeat and keep trying.
GOT SOME BRIGHT COLOR CLOTH?
Though you can attach any piece of cloth to a stick and wave it, but the brighter the color the more visible it is. It’s best to pack & carry something more compact & lighter like some bright orange duct tape, property marking tape or one of our emergency orange sleeping bag.
Now think about it, if you were in a remote desert, jungle or forest and you saw one of these flying in the sky what’s the first thing you would say to yourself? Like me you would probably say “..who in the hell would be flying a freakin kite way out here?” Get my drift, so to speak? Yep, I’ll bet you do, and I’ll bet that’s what you would say too, wouldn’t you? Makes finding a needle in a haystack a lot easier to find, don’t it? You can also make these signal kites out of those pocket aluminum thermal space blanket too. Which if the sun’s out it’ll be seen a lot further away than a regular old kite due to the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it like a giant signal mirror in the sky. And if you don’t know how to make a simple kite, no problem, just google “how to make a kite” and dozen websites will pop up. Now it’s entirely up to you if you want to write SOS or HELP on your kite, obviously if your kite is flown way too high up in the air no one is going to be able to read what it says on it. But should it come crashing down and lands in some trees and you can’t get it down, someone from the air or on the ground just might see it and it could still lead to your rescue. But make sure you use a magic marker and NO SPRAY PAINT or it will add too much weight to your kite and it won’t fly. IMPORTANT: Make sure you test fly your kit before packing it away, don’t assume it will fly without testing it first or you just might be carrying “dead weight.” Get it?
Don’t have any of these items with you?
But don’t worry you’re not screwed yet. What you can do to get a low flying aircraft/pilot’s attention is to use the letters S O S or H E L P. How? By constructing these letters out of some rocks, logs, tree branches, stomped down weeds, snow or sketched out in the sand. Preferably in a open areas or along a water shore, the bigger the letters the easier they will be seen from the air.Not enough room for all these letters? No problem, a large “X” is better than no letters at all and will still get a pilot’s attention and indicate someone down below might be needing some help.
When “lost” or “stranded” should you decide to try to find your way out or home, always leave some type of markings along your route of travel. Why? So in the event someone finally does realizes you’re missing and or someone comes across your markings, they will know which way you’re going. Or should you have to back track, it will be easier to find your last known position. Make sense?
Whenever some crisis happens, there is no time heft for pre paration. However, if you are prepared to meet crisis before time, you will feel more comfortable to meet the emergency situations. Being prepared for emergencies or disasters is extremely important in this ever changing world. It is even more crucial for disable persons or people with special needs. The ability to successfully meet emergency situations is mainly dependent on preparedness before occurrence of any disaster. Though, being prepared doesn’t mean you are ready but it greatly enhances chances of your survival from any kind of tragedy. However, you need to have essential items with you to cope with disaster situations. Here is the survival tips to help you in some emergency situation.
Availability of Water
Water is the most essential ingredient to survive for a human being. Humans need water not just for preparing food but also for cooking and staying hydrated and for hygiene. A person requires 1 gallon of water per day to survive and one need to be prepared enough to arrange for water in crisis situations. Every person must have a reserve for at least 3 days for evacuation and a 2 week supply at home. It is of no doubt that a human can live many days without food, but not without water. Even a thirst for few hours can make someone feel terrible.
Availability of Food
Everybody knew importance of food in his life. It is of great importance to have a stock of food for at least 2 weeks to meet some crisis. However, a person can survive for more than one week without food. Though, at same time, nobody wants to be hungry. It is recommended that every time we go shopping buy some extra stock of food items. However, it is also essential to check for their expire dates and try to buy items that can last for longer period. Make sure to rotate it to preserve freshness.
Arrange for Shelter
Shelter is a basic necessity of life. Especially, in disaster conditions, everyone needs a safe location. The ideal condition however is to stay at home. But if someone thinks that hisor her home is not a safe place, than he/she might need to find some relative or a place that can provide them shelter in emergency condition. Also, if anybody doesn’t have any relative where he can stay, government or Red Cross usually provides places for shelter. However, in any case, everyone needs to be prepared enough to meet such circumstances. Being prepared to survive in any disaster is best not for you but also for your family.
Along with the food, water and shelter, everybody needs to have some essential items like first aid kit and medicine for at least more than a week. Along with medical equipment, you also need to have some sanitation tools, a camping stove, warm clothing, LED lights and lanterns with extra batteries. Lastly, one must have some kind of self-defense. Anyone can simply figure out what he need with a little online surfing and see what he need for such circumstances. For self-defense, you need to buy weapons like handgun or rifle with ammunition. Also, do some practice on regular basis to get at least some basic skills.
Time Killing Items
Even if anyone is facing emergency only for a 48 or 72 hour, kids will need to have some books, playing cards, and board games available to help them kill their time. It might even contain some crayons and coloring books. Remember, we can face emergency for longer periods and there is nothing to do in such situations. So, it is very much crucial to have such things that can help them kill their time. However, it could take some extra effort and time to stock up such things, but in the end this will be helpful for your survival.
Life is priceless, provisions saves life. Always be prepared with survival skills to cope with all situations that can happen in your life. Also, it is recommended to keep it simple and go for necessities only. Educate your family and yourself for probable incidents and disasters that can occur in community. Realize the importance of being prepared in advance, make a plan and start working on it.
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Despite the fact that a compass is a basic tool for getting around, it can be an intimidating piece of equipment for those who’ve never held one before, much less used it to safely navigate an unfamiliar bit of wilderness.
The first step in figuring it all out is familiarizing yourself with the various parts of a compass. Once you’ve got at least a rough understanding of what the lines mean, of which part turns and why, you’re ready to get some basic training under your belt.
A starter compass is a good place to start. The simple instrument can serve as an excellent introduction to orienteering as a hobby, sport, and overall enjoyable activity. The best beginner’s tool comes with only the essentials, so new users from children experiencing their first taste of outdoor exploration to adults rekindling an appreciation for nature can confidently build a foundation on which to build a growing knowledge of navigation.
The Silva System is a straightforward method for learning how to properly combine a compass and topographic map. The system can be boiled down into three easy steps:
You may not be able to get from where you are to your ultimate destination in one go. In that case, you should break the journey down into more manageable steps. Set the compass on the map so the edge of the base plate (remember what that is?) serves as a line connecting your current position to where you want to go. You should be able to draw a line along the edge, as if it were a ruler—which it basically is.
Set the compass heading by rotating the dial until the letter “N”—for north—lines up with magnetic north indicated on the map. You should be able to find a compass rose indicating which way is which.
Pick up the compass and hold it flat in front of you. Be sure that the direction of travel arrow points straight ahead. Then, rotate yourself, keeping an eye on the magnetic needle. When the red end lines up exactly with the orienting arrow, stop. The direction of travel arrow (it’s easy to keep the distinct arrows straight when you actually see them in action) will be pointing in precisely the direction you want to go. Look in the direction of the arrow and find a particular landmark that stands out. Hike to that landmark, at which point you can stop, regroup, and start steps one through three over again.
Even though this is a simplified navigation system, there is one other detail that should be noted: The magnetic needle will always point north, but north itself isn’t a fixed, immovable point. Well, magnetic north isn’t, anyway.
True north is a fixed point that never changes. Magnetic north wanders, due to the ever-shifting nature of the Earth’s magnetic field. The two different norths sit about 800 miles apart.
Mapmakers typically consider true north when creating their maps. Many topographic maps will, however, also include information on “declination,” which is the difference between true north and magnetic north from a given point.
The difference between true north and magnetic north can be so minimal as to not really matter, or it can be significant enough to prevent an unaware hiker from ever arriving at the intended destination.
The hatchet is a small axe that is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s go over some of the way it can be helpful in a survival situation.
You should have at least two to three different ways to start a fire, like waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, and a lighter. A hatchet is another very helpful item to have when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Use as a striker only in an emergency situation to avoid premature dulling.
Finding yourself face to face with a large predator in the wild such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. Granted, you’d probably rather have a gun or an airbow to keep the predators at longer distances, but if things become too close, you can count on your hatchet. The hatchet works best when used in a hacking motion to maintain your defense.
Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter. Ice cutting will come in handy if you need to dig a hole to protect a small fire from the wind.
Should you need to create a splint, a hatchet again comes in super handy. It makes it easy to cut and fashion a splint, whether for you or an injured party member.
The metal section of a hatchet works as a light reflector, which sure is helpful if you’re alone in the wilderness and need to be rescued!
The hatchet’s back end works as a very nice hammer.
Some would argue that you only need a fixed blade knife in your pack, while others would argue that the hatchet is the more important of the two. The reality is that you should have both. If you don’t have a hatchet in your survival bag, consider purchasing one. Chances are that you’ll be very glad you have it down the road.
Have you ever found yourself in the wilderness or camping and realized you were without soap, don’t panic. It’s still entirely possible to clean your gear with…wait for it…wood ash. Wood ash actually makes a fantastic alternative when suds aren’t available or you decided to skip bringing bars of the stuff entirely to make room for other things. Wood ashes have been used as a source of lye in soap making for years upon years.
Here are a few tips for making the most of your wood ashes:
Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods
When choosing between hardwood and softwood, go for hardwood tree ash over their softwood counterparts, as hardwood trees are better for making soap.
First and foremost, it’s essential that your wood ash be free from assorted residues. These include food, plastic, or any other trash, as they could easily make the ashes toxic. Use pure wood ash instead, which may require building a new fire at a different location and letting it burn uninterrupted until you can extract the ashes without issue.
Use the greasiest pot you have to make your ash-tastic soap. Add a little olive oil or fat to ease the soap-making process, then add a few cups of ashes. If some of your ashes contain charcoal, fear not, as it will only aid the scouring process.
Add hot water to your concoction–enough to make a nice paste. This results in potassium salts, which will mix with the fat or oil to create your soap. It may not be the prettiest soap ever, but darn if it won’t clean the heck out of your pots and pans.
Let the mixture to cool before slathering your pots with it, and allow the soap to stand for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse pots with water to complete the process.