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Friday, March 24, 2017

Prepper: 8 Basic Survival Skills That You Ought To Know

Prepper: 8 Basic Survival Skills That You Ought To Know
The Latest from the prepper world

A lot of preppers do not possess the proper skills for surviving in case of any natural disaster even though it is essential to do so. The main reason for the lack of adequate skills is that many people lack the proper survival skills training to cope with any emergency situation. In the subsequent paragraphs, we are going to mention 8 important survival skills that anyone must have in his or her kit.

Locating and purifying water

It is said that an individual cannot survive for more than three days without drinking water. However, in case he or she needs to survive in a severe environment, it might not be possible for him or her to survive even that long.
Water is essential for the human body to function properly and this is why one of the most important survival skills will be to locate and also purify water. In case you’re able to light a fire then you might consider boiling the water. Otherwise, you might also store sufficient water prior to leaving for an exploration. Although it might not solve your problem entirely, it is the best thing that you can do during a survival situation. We all know that nature is our best friend and we should make it a point to learn which plants will provide us with drinking water; however, it might prove to be disastrous for you in case you fail to understand it properly.

Making a fire


It is definitely tough to figure out which particular survival skills are the most important in a disaster situation; however, one cannot ignore the importance of making a fire in this respect. A fire will help you in many ways such as purifying the water, keeping yourself warm and comfortable, sterilizing surgical equipment, making tools, cooking food, signaling for help and also safeguarding yourself from wild creatures. Above all, you will feel much more confident by having a fire.

Building a shelter


While you are outdoors, things can change all of a sudden at any time of the day. For example, there can be a great fluctuation in the temperature. Although you might be experiencing a dry climate in the morning, you should not be surprised if it rains heavily at night. While you are trapped in an emergency situation, you might use your vehicle as your shelter in case you happen to be with the car. Otherwise, think of some natural resources that you can use as your shelter. It will not be a bad idea to safeguard yourself from the inclement weather by taking a refuge inside a cave.

Predicting weather


Casio Men’s PAG240-1CR Pathfinder Triple Sensor Multi-Function Sport Watch – Compass, Barometer and Altimeter.
In most situations, we are hardly concerned about the climatic condition in our daily lives unless of course there are some natural calamities like tornadoes and floods. Being able to forecast the weather is an essential survival skill that you should have during any disaster situation. In case you happen to be in the wilderness, you can be affected very badly by any change in the weather conditions. You might find it extremely hard to light a fire if there is a heavy precipitation as well as a strong gale. You will never be caught unaware if you are able to develop this particular survival skill. But how is it possible? Below we have mentioned some fundamental forecasting skills the majority of which will depend on natural phenomena like:
  • Air pressure – Although it is impossible to measure the air pressure physically, you should be able to ascertain the direction of the air flow. Usually, the clouds will be moving from a high-pressure area to a low-pressure area.
  • Clouds – You’ll be able to forecast strong wind as well as rain by observing the clouds. Under normal circumstances, heavy precipitation can be expected in the presence of dark and low hanging clouds.
  • Wild creatures – Animals are able to understand any change in the weather by their natural instincts. For example, you can predict rain in case the insects start to disappear.
  • Hunting skills – Often you can suffer from lack of adequate food during an emergency situation. In that case, it is essential to have the ability to hunt wild animals who can provide you with a steady supply of food. In case you are a beginner, you should focus on catching some smaller animals like rabbits, fish and so on instead of going for larger creatures like the tiger, deer, etc. Hunting fish will not be much difficult for you but you should be careful while catching them. There might be other creatures like alligators in the water that you must avoid at all costs. Moreover, catching fish is not a joke and you need to be properly trained to do so. You might also try to set a trap near the river which should help you to catch some fish within a few hours.

Identifying edible vegetation


In case you are trapped in the forest, don’t go out eating everything you run across that looks good since they might even be poisonous for you. You might be starving, but you must have the ability to identify the plants which are edible. Consuming these plants will help you to avoid cooking as well as saving your precious time. There will be no need to hunt for animals, make a fire and cook. Moreover, these plants will provide you with the energy which you need for survival. Some edible plants that you can find in the wilderness include asparagus, burdock, and cattail.

Making use of survival tools

It is essential to choose the appropriate survival tools since these will help you to perform many jobs such as making your shelter or even repairing the one which you already have. Apart from this, they will also aid you to collect wood for making a fire which you will need to stay warm and also cook food. Some of these survival tools include a flashlight, emergency candles, tactical folding knife, hiking backpack, scissors, hammer, nails, pliers, etc.

Attitude 

Your attitude is going to play an important role if you get caught in any type of emergency situation. You must have the confidence that you will survive. Losing hope can prove to be fatal in the long run. Having the proper attitude along with a few survival skills will help you to overcome any tough situation.

101 Gardening Secrets the Experts Never Tell You






This article was originally published by Thomas Byers  on dengarden.com
A well-tended 400 square foot garden will feed a family of four. The trick is planning, planting, tending, and harvesting that garden right. Below, you’ll find everything you need to know to maximize your garden’s production, everything the experts don’t tell you!

How to Grow from Seeds

  1. I like to use natural topsoil to start my garden seedlings in. I usually don’t use potting soil because it generally does not produce the results I want.
  2. I fill a large, deep baking pan with top soil and bake it for thirty minutes at 350 degrees. This sanitizes the soil and ensures that no unwanted weeds or grass will come up in your soil. I usually start on this project in the winter and I fill up a couple of large plastic barrels with lids with the sanitized soil.
  3. After I have planted the seeds in the sanitized top soil, I sprinkle the top with powdered cinnamon. This keeps away fungus that can cause damping.
  4. I cover each seedling with a clear plastic cup that I wash and reuse. This protects the seedling and keeps the moisture in. It also keeps away cold and wind. I do my seed starting on a screened-in porch.
  5. If you plant your seeds outdoors, sprinkle flavored powdered gelatin in the soil with the seeds. This will feed beneficial bacteria and provide needed nitrogen to your plants as they come up.

Starting from a Clipping

If you want to root a plant or cutting in water, add an aspirin or two to the container. Buy a cheap bottle of aspirin and grind it up before you add it to the water. This will aid in water absorption and will help the cutting to start roots.
You can easily start plants from cuttings from roses, saliva, and geraniums. Just dip the cuttings into a rooting hormone, then put them into potting soil. Spray the cuttings several times a day with water until you are sure they are rooted. Hibiscus are also easy to root this way.
 

How to Plant or Transplant Tomatoes or Peppers

Try it this way and I promise you that you’ll be rewarded with faster growing and healthier plants:
  1. When planting any type of tomato or pepper plant, pinch off all but the top leaves.
  2. Dig a deep hole. Always add a cup of water to the prepared hole and then set the plant into the hole and put a tablespoon of powdered, unflavored gelatin in the hole as near to the roots of the plant as possible. A teaspoon of cinnamon also goes in. The gelatin will feed and encourage helpful bacteria and the cinnamon will keep away fungus and cutworms.
  3. For sweeter tomatoes, put two tablespoons of baking soda in the bottom of the hole. Cover the baking soda with an inch or two of dirt before you put the plant in the hole.
  4. Carefully fill the hole with dirt and pack the dirt down tight.
  5. Use tomato cages or wooden stakes and garden twine to tie your tomato plants up and give them support to keep them from getting blown over by the wind. If they aren’t supported, they won’t produce nearly as much and may develop fungus diseases if the plant is laying over on the ground.
Note: I suggest that everyone learn everything they can about heirloom tomatoes, which have much better flavor than modern ones.

How to Keep Deer out of Your Yard

If you follow the below tips, you can keep deer out:
  1. Purchase motion-activated sprinklers. If the deer or other animals go near them, the sprinklers activate automatically and run them off quickly. Deer and most other animals don’t like to be sprayed by water.
  2. Sometimes something as simple as hanging up tin pie pans around the garden can keep the deer away. You will want to hang the pans so they swing freely and make noise. Move them to another spot about once a week to be sure the deer don’t become used to them and just walk around them.
  3. Human urine works great as a deterrent. Bring a container full from the bathroom and pour it around the edges of your garden. Put down fresh urine as often as you can and the deer will stay away.
  4. Hang up noisy wind chimes. As with the pans, you’ll want to move them every week or so.

From Garden to Kitchen and Back Again

  • When you boil or steam vegetables, don’t throw the water away. After it’s cool, use it to water the plants you are growing in containers. You’ll be surprised how plants respond to this type of water.
  • Always put leftover tea, tea bags, and coffee grounds under your azaleas. You will end up with healthy plants with bright flowers.
  • The quickest and best place to dry herbs is on a few sheets of newspaper on the back seat of your car. The herbs will dry out quickly, usually in 1 – 2 days.
  • Don’t be afraid to grow your own kitchen herbs. Most herbs are easy to grow and you’ve never tasted anything as good as your own homemade pesto sauce. I grow purple heirloom sweet basil and it is so delicious. It also gives a wonderful smell to my garden. Don’t forget to compost what you don’t use.
  • Do you stir fry? You should if you don’t. If you do, try using things like immature broccoli, baby squash, and tiny eggplants. You won’t believe the wonderful flavor of these tiny baby vegetables. Don’t be afraid to pull baby green onions to add to the mix. You can come up with some wonderful flavors this way.
  • Blood, fish, and bonemeal are great organic fertilizers. Apply them throughout the growing season to your vegetables and flowers. Blood and bonemeal will also keep rabbits and groundhogs out of your garden and away from your plants.
  • If you grow an abundance of cayenne pepper, keep it picked off green and keep adding it to a gallon ziplock bag in the freezer. If you wish, go ahead and cut the stems off before you freeze the cayenne. (Don’t forget to use those stems to enrich your soil.) You can add a tablespoon or two of fine diced green cayenne to soups and stews to add spice and flavor.
  • If you’re going to be growing a garden every year, you should learn how to can as soon as possible. Growing and canning tomatoes is easy and very satisfying. Do some research and learn everything you can about canning and preserving what you grow in your garden.
  • If you don’t have one yet, purchase a food dehydrator to preserve your vegetables. You can make wonderful sun-dried tomatoes this way. You can dry almost any kind of fruit or vegetable and if you do it right, you’ll end up with delicious treats. Store them in a tightly-covered container or freeze them in a large ziplock bag. If you make a dried mixture of tomatoes, peppers, squash, and onions, you’ll have the perfect soup mix. Add the dried vegetables to chicken or vegetable stock and you can quickly have a delicious soup. Add pasta and fried hamburger for a delicious stew. Be sure that you carefully read the instruction book that comes with the dehydrator.
  • Save all your banana skins and let them dry outdoors. Plant them at the base of your tomato plants: It’s like giving your tomatoes a pick-me-up and will encourage growth. You can speed things along by pureeing the banana peels with water in a food processor or blender and then pouring this around the base of the tomato plants.
  • You can use chamomile tea to prevent fungus on your seedlings. Spray it on before sunrise or after sunset for the best results.
  • Canning is the preferred method of putting up your garden veggies because cans don’t need refrigeration and won’t spoil if the power fails. The next best solution is to dehydrate as many of your fruits and vegetables as you can. And if you plan to store a lot of fruits and vegetables you should have a small chest freezer. You can make things like squash casseroles or zucchini bread to freeze for later use. Make sure that you date and label each item so you know what it is and how old it is.

Use Leftover Fruit and Vegetable Peelings

Take all of those peelings and vegetable scraps and run them through your food processor, then sprinkle this in your soil to feed your growing plants. Peppers especially love this and will grow and produce bumper crops when you feed them this way.

Use Newspaper and the Lint from Your Dryer as a Mulch

Instead of throwing away the lint your dryer filter collects, save it in a tightly-sealed container and till it into your dirt to help hold moisture in your soil.
You can also shred your daily newspaper and add the shredded paper to your compost bin. It will help you to have healthy compost and will help to retain the soil’s moisture.
When you plant things like tomatoes, peppers, and squash, put a fist-sized piece of dryer lint in the bottom of the hole. The dryer lint will hold moisture in and around your just-planted plants, insuring that the water stays there at the roots where it is needed.

Always plant marigolds, especially near tomatoes and cabbage, to keep garden pests away.


What Expert Gardeners Know About Planting

  • Go on the Internet in the winter and very early spring and order all your seeds.
  • Plant the vegetables that your family likes to eat. Why plant asparagus if no one likes it?
  • The easiest plants to grow include beans, tomatoes, radishes, Swiss chard, peppers, corn, cucumbers, and potatoes. Anyone should be able to grow these.
  • Plant your cucumbers so they can grow up a fence or trellis and you will grow far more cucumbers.
  • Plant pole beans around the base of a tee-pee bamboo frame and the plants will grow up it and you can easily pick and enjoy your beans.
  • Grow cherry tomatoes in hanging baskets—they will grow well there and will be easy to pick. Be sure that you keep them well-watered. Keep them picked off and they will keep producing.
  • Be sure that you don’t try to grow things too close together. Read the backs of seed packs so you’ll know how far apart your various plants should be. If you plant them too thickly, they won’t produce as well
  • When planting rows, measure off three feet on your garden hoe with a permanent marker so you can measure this distance off between each row. If you’re going to use your garden tiller to keep the weeds down, you’ll need to have at least three feet between your rows.
  • Before you plant, always draw a plan out on paper. Put taller plants towards the back of the garden and shorter plants at the front so you can see everything from a distance.
  • Keep your plants healthy by anticipating the plants’ nutritional needs. You’ll most likely need to add fertilizer while your plants are growing. This is where research is important. Always keep a journal with detailed notes that you can refer back to later.
  • Be sure to use tomato cages or sturdy stakes to provide support for your tomato plants. If you don’t, your plants won’t produce nearly as many tomatoes and they may catch diseases.
  • Radishes, Swiss chard, beets, and carrots can be planted up to four weeks before the last frost. They are quite hardy.
  • It’s important to plant only the varieties of vegetables that grow well in your area. At your local farm or garden center, ask what varieties do well.
  • Lay down sheets of newspaper before you put down potting soil or top soil. This will help to keep weeds and grass from coming up in your garden. You can also lay down sheets of newspaper before you put down mulch.
  • You can use foam packing peanuts in the bottom of large pots to save on soil and to help with drainage. This keeps them out of the landfill and it will help to keep potted plants well-drained.
  • Plants like rhubarb and asparagus will come back year after year. All you have to do is fertilize and keep the weeds out. I add heavy mulch once they are up and growing and this keeps the weeds out. Rhubarb pie is so delicious. I like it mixed with just-picked strawberries.
  • When you plant things like radishes or carrots, mix the seeds with powdered, unflavored jello. Add three tablespoons of gelatin to one pack of seeds, then plant. The gelatin will provide the seedlings with needed nitrogen. If you don’t believe it, you can try an experiment: plant some with and some without. The ones planted with gelatin will be much healthier than those planted without.
  • Plant one long, wide row with crops like radicchio, white beets, bok choy, bulb fennel, celeriac, and escarole. This way, you can get to experiment with a wide variety of tastes.
  • You should plan to grow crops that store well, like dry beans, garlic, onions, sweet potatoes, and butternut winter squash. You just harvest and store these items in a cool dry place and they will last through the winter. Butternut squash and shallots allow you to enjoy food from your garden all winter long.
  • You can use a small greenhouse or handmade cold frame to grow and harvest radishes and lettuce all winter long, especially in the American south.
  • Keep in mind when laying out your garden that tomatoes and peppers must be planted where they receive 6-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. You cannot grow tomatoes or peppers even in partial shade.
  • Ideally, your entire vegetable garden should get at least 8 hours of full sun a day. Most vegetables won’t do well even in partial shade, so be sure to plan your garden where it will get as much sun as possible.
  • For corn, do like the Native Americans did and plant pole beans near each cornstalk as soon as it is a foot high. When the beans come up, encourage them to grow up and around the stalks. You can plant pumpkins down the middle of your corn rows—this way, you can use the same ground to grow multiple crops.
  • If you want to grow really huge pumpkins, remove all but one or two pumpkins per plant and be sure that your plants get an abundance of water and nutrients. I use miracle grow potting soil for this. I use post hole diggers to dig holes that are two feet deep for the pumpkin plants. I usually end up with healthy plants with huge pumpkins on them.
  • Did you know that you can grow luffa gourds and have your own natural sponges that are better than any dish sponge you can buy? Plant them in full sun and allow them to mature completely. In the fall, dry out the gourd and cut the shell away. You’ll end up with luffa sponges you can use to wash your dishes with (or your body in the bathtub). And they are environmentally friendly.
  • You can easily grow birdhouses in your garden. All kinds of birds will make nests in gourds, and your kids will love the fact that you’re growing birdhouses in your garden.




The same sweet corn 45 days later.

Expert Tips on Watering, Tending, Composting, Harvesting, and Storing

  • If you want to harvest your vegetables early, plant radishes, sweet peas, beans, squash, and cucumbers.
  • If you find your green onions developing seed pods before the onions are mature, cut them off with scissors and the onions will keep developing larger onions.
  • Never add mulch to plants your going to winter over until after the first frost has occurred. If you add it sooner, you may be providing insects with warmth and shelter from the cold.
  • Put a ball of gardening twine in a clay flower pot with a hole in the bottom. Bring the end of the twine out the hole and turn the pot over. Put it in a convenient place in the garden and you’ll always have gardening twine available when you need it.
  • Try to plan to harvest your vegetables in the morning when the veggies are packed with nutrients. You can preserve the flavor and nutrients of leafy green vegetables by chilling them in the refrigerator, but don’t put onions or tomatoes in there. If you do, they will lose some of their flavor.
  • You can of course build bamboo teepees and grow pole beans up and over them. Make them really large and well-secured at the bottom and you can step inside the bean teepee to pick your crop.
  • You can grow and enjoy a mixture of baby greens. As soon as they are a few inches high, harvest them with scissors.
  • If you harvest your squash on a regular basis, when they’re still small, you’ll be rewarded with twice as many squash as you would have if you allowed the squash to mature. They are so delicious when the seeds in the squash are very small.
  • Use a barrel and add sheep, cow, or rabbit manure to it, then top it off with water. Stir it every day for a week and then strain off the water and give it to your vegetable plants. The plants will get a boost and they will be a lot more healthy.
  • Water your garden wisely. Never water in full sun. Water before the sun comes up or after it has set. Consider watering with a good quality sprinkler after the sun has set or late at night. Your garden will get a lot more water this way and it will be a few hours before the sun comes up to dry up the water.
  • Harvest and freeze your garden in small batches as it gets ripe. If you do this, you will lose much less of your vegetables. You can, for example, put chopped peppers, cubes of summer squash, green beans, and cut-off sweet corn into ziplock plastic bags and toss them into the freezer. Use a permanent marker to mark the contents of each bag. You can freeze bags of mixed veggies this way and then use them in the winter to make delicious soups or stews.
  • You can if you wish let your cayenne pepper turn red on the plant and then pick it. As soon as you pick it use a needle and thread and string the red pods on a long string. When you have a full thread of the red cayenne hang it up in a cool dry place and let it dry completely. You can use the dried cayenne to season foods, stews and soups with. As soon as the pods get red pick them off the plant so the plant will keep producing more peppers. You can run the dried peppers through the food processor but wear plastic kitchen gloves and a face mask while you do it. You can make the red dried cayenne peppers into a fine powder this way that you can store in a tightly covered container or you can put it into a large shaker to shake it out on foods or in your cooking.
  • Most in-ground plants need one to two inches of water a week. Buy a rain gauge so you can keep a eye on how much natural moisture you’re getting. If your soil feels moist to the touch, it’s okay, but if you have dry, powdery soil, you need to water. Just be sure to water with a soaking sprinkler and do it when their is no direct sun. The ideal time to water is before the sun comes up or after it goes down.
  • Every year in the late fall or winter, work well-aged manure and compost into your soil with a garden tiller. Be sure that any manure you add is very well-rotted or it will burn your plants and kill them. You can put green rabbit manure in the hole under tomatoes and peppers. I always make use of my rabbit manure this way.
  • If your rhubarb sends up flower stalks, cut them off close to the plant to encourage it to grow foliage and not flowers.
  • If you grow herbs like basil, cut the top third of the plant off every time it tries to bloom. This will encourage the plant to keep putting on more foliage which you can dry and use in the kitchen. If you’re going to be using dried herbs sooner rather than later, store them in a brown paper bag tightly closed in the freezer.
  • If you have lots of fall leaves, don’t discard them. Instead, put them into a big compost bin. In a year or two, you’ll have ideal compost.
  • You’ll need a hoe to use to chop or hoe weeds up out of your garden. The one mistake a lot of gardeners make is letting the weeds get ahead of them and then they can never get back control of their vegetable garden. As soon as your vegetable plants are large enough, put mulch around them to prevent weeds from coming up.

Controlling Weeds Naturally

  • Weed early and often. And once your vegetables start growing, mulch your plants heavily to keep the weeds out. Don’t let your garden get overrun with weeds or you will lose control.
  • Put down sheets of newspaper around plants before you put down mulch. The newspaper will insure that weeds and grass can’t come up.
  • Vinegar is a better weed killer than most commercial products, but don’t spray it on your vegetable plants because it will kill them, too. If you have weeds or grass coming up in cracks in cement, this is a ideal place to use vinegar, which will kill the weeds and grass and prevent them from coming back any time soon.
  • If you’re using a string trimmer to cut weeds, spray the string on the weedeater with vegetable cooking oil and you won’t have problems with your string getting stuck or tangled.

Plant Sunflowers and Marigolds for the Ladybugs




If you’re going to turn ladybugs loose in your yard, be sure to plant sunflowers and marigolds to provide a home and a place to lay eggs.

Natural Ways to Control Bugs and Insects

  • Consider putting up bat houses and provide them with a bird bath to get water from. Bats also eat huge amounts of bugs.
  • Plant mint and marigold to repel unwanted insects.
  • To keep the mosquito population down, be sure to turn over and empty out anything that is holding water. Mosquitoes need water to complete their life cycle.
  • Always plant marigolds in your garden, especially near tomatoes and cabbage, because the marigolds will keep garden pests away.
  • Do you have a problem with aphids? Use a strong insecticidal soap to get rid of them.
  • Buy lady bugs and preying mantis egg sacs from your local garden supply store in the spring and turn them loose in your garden to declare an organic war on garden pests.
  • Unless you’re terribly afraid of spiders, let those like the golden orb weaver spider (aka writing spider) make a home in your garden. Believe it or not, every year spiders eat an amount of bugs that exceeds the weight of all the humans on earth.
  • Encourage toads to move into your garden by providing a small pool of water and clay flower pots for the toads to use as houses. Burn a light in the garden at night and they will show up to eat the insects and bugs attracted by that light. Provide toads with a cool, dark place and they will stick around for years, helping to keep your garden insect-free.
  • Put up bird houses and the birds will build nests there and help to keep your garden free of bugs and insects.
  • Put your garlic and onion skins into a gallon jar, cover with water, and seal tightly. Leave the skins soaking for a week and then strain off the water. Spray this water anywhere you have aphids or spiders and it will get rid of them quickly.
  • If you have a slug and snail problem, put out small saucers of beer at sunset and they will crawl in overnight and drown. Simply discard the contents of each saucer the next morning.
  • Put fabric tents up over cabbage plants, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli to keep away garden pests. Sprinkle cabbage heads with cinnamon and the cabbage worms will stay away.
  • You can make your own insecticidal soap by mixing two tablespoons of liquid soap into a gallon of water. This is an excellent solution to get rid of aphids.

Some Insects (Like Ladybugs and Preying Mantis) Are Great for Your Garden


How Do I Keep Rabbits and Groundhogs Out of My Garden?

If you’re having a rodent problem, try sprinkling ground cayenne pepper around the base of the plants that are getting eaten. This will keep them away like nothing else ever will.
If you’re bothered by groundhogs, pour mothballs down their holes. Every time they dig a new hole, fill it up again. You can also pour red pepper flakes down their holes.
A Recipe for Rabbit-Repellant:
Mix up the below ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until very smooth. Spray the solution on and around the base of your garden plants and it will keep rabbits and groundhogs away.
  • Two large raw eggs
  • One quart warm water
  • Two tablespoons Dawn dish detergent
  • Two tablespoons hot sauce
Hair Works Great, Too
When you or a family member goes to the barber, save the hair and sprinkle it around the garden. This also will keep rabbits and groundhogs out.

Hair Is Great for the Garden

* Repellant of rodents, deer, and snails.
* Natural mulch that retains moisture, abets erosion, and deters weeds.
* Fertilizer that adds a significant amounts of nitrogen to the soil.



Squash are so delicious. Try squash fritters or squash bread. Both are delicious.

How Many Squash Plants Should I Grow?

  • Six to eight squash plants will provide all the squash you need for a family of 4-6.
  • You will need to keep the squash picked off and you’ll want to be gentle removing the mature squash. I like to pick mine while they are smaller than those you see in the store. If you do this, the plants will keep producing more blooms and more squash. If you stop picking the squash, they will get so big you can’t use them and the plants will stop producing more.
  • You should water your squash plants before sunrise or after sunset. Never water in full sun or you will damage and possibly kill your plants.
  • I like all varieties of squash, but I usually grow the yellow butternut and zucchini types every year. Both taste wonderful, are disease-resistant, and produce an abundance of squash.

Rainwater Harvesting




The gutters on the house feed the rainwater into the tank.

Make Use of the Rainwater

You should set up a system where all the gutters on your house feed into a large tank that has a spigot where you can attach a hose and water your garden.
You’ll need very thin wire mesh over your rain barrels or water tank to keep mosquitoes out. It’s very important that you keep your gutters clean to prevent leaves and debris from clogging the system.



Beautiful potatoes ready for harvest

Suggestions for Growing Potatoes in a Grow Box

  • You will want your potato plants to be about a foot apart in the potato grow box. This will ensure that they have room to grow and spread out.
  • It’s very important to fill your grow box with a mixture of rich topsoil and well-rotted and aged compost or manure. You want to mix it at a ratio of 70 percent topsoil to 30 percent well-rotted compost or manure.
  • When the plants are about a foot tall, give them more well-rotted manure or compost. Dig a hole about 4-6 inches around the plant and a foot deep and fill the hole with well-rotted manure or compost.



Potato Grow Box: If you follow the instructions above, you can grow a huge amount of potatoes in a very small space.

Gardening Tools and Tips

  • In the spring, before you start using your shovels or hoes, coat them with car wax. If you do, the dirt will come off them easily and won’t cling. Repeat this about every month and the hoes and shovels will be so easy to use. You can ask for used peanut oil at local restaurants and cafes and use it for the same purpose. Apply a heavy coat in the fall to keep the tools from rusting over the winter.
  • Buy a sturdy basket with a carrying handle to carry small garden tools to the garden.
  • Invest in a couple of good-quality garden gloves. This will make it so much easier for you to work in your garden.
  • You should know that the better your soil is, the better your garden will be. You should purchase and have a soil test kit to test your soil and know what you need to add to maximize your garden’s production.
  • Always wash your garden tools and put them away in a cool, dry place. Spray the metal parts with vegetable oil in the late fall when you put your tools away for the winter.



7 Important Tips for Emergency Wound Care

Emergency wound care is one of the primary building blocks of survival. Do you know how to treat a sprain, a fracture, an open wound, or a severe burn? These are things we believe everyone–not just those interested in survivalism–should know. Here are some tips for some of the most common types of emergency wound care. When you need it, you’ll be glad you know it.

1. Check the Online Library

The internet is by no means a doctor and should never be considered a replacement for medical care or advice. If anything, the internet should be complimentary to your knowledge. Never rely on the internet to self-diagnose or prescribe yourself any treatment or medication. Having said that, the internet is still a great resource and can be of help in an emergency.
There are many guides to first-aid and emergency care available on the internet, and it’s almost guaranteed that you can find resources for what you need, whether you’re dealing with a burn wound or a snake bite. We suggest that you download some guides and familiarize yourself with them ahead of time.
Some of these guides, available for free, include WHO’s Best Practice Guidelines on Emergency Surgical Care in Disaster Situations, The American Red Cross First-Aid / CPR / AED Manual, and First-Aid from WikiBooks.

2. The Tourniquet Truth

Most people know to apply a tourniquet immediately in the case of severe, life-threatening bleeding. Unfortunately, most of the same people don’t know that an improperly applied tourniquet will do more harm than good in saving the patient (or the limb). If the tourniquet is applied too tightly or for more than two hours, you can expect to start seeing nerve, tissue, and blood vessel damage to the wound. That’s entirely counterproductive to wound care, so don’t do it! A tourniquet is a temporary solution.

3. The Donts of a Burn Wound

Burn wounds can vary greatly in severity, and the end-treatment will be largely dependent on the size, severity, and cause of the burn. When it comes to basic care, though, the same principles will apply: Sterilized water to cool down the wound, and–if you have it–apply burn gel.
What you shouldn’t do to a burn wound is also a fairly universal thing: Do not apply butter, oil, mayonnaise, yogurt, petroleum jelly or anything besides cool, clean water or burn gel. It will likely end up worsening the damage, causing an infection or–in a worst case scenario–cause the wound to continue burning because someone added what’s basically an accelerant. Don’t do it.
Keep burn dressings (as well as separate topically applicable burn gel) in your first-aid kit.

4. Keeping Wounds Open

It’s a common myth that wounds will heal faster when they are kept open; the same myth tends to state that it’s the “exposure to air” that causes this accelerated form of wound healing. Now, if you have an open wound–especially if it’s severe–please do not do this. Air is not automatically “clean”, and sure as hell isn’t in most disaster situations, so you should close wounds up properly as soon as possible no matter how small they might look.
You should always have things like gauze, sterile cotton, and rubbing alcohol as part of your first-aid kit. Doing anything else could make your situation worse instead of better.

5. Emergency Asthma Treatment

While asthma is a condition more than it is a wound, it’s something you are very likely to encounter as a medical emergency. First off, asthma is a common condition, for whatever reason, is on the rise again. In 2009, the AAAAI reported that one in twelve people (that’s about eight percent) of the US population has asthma, compared to seven percent in 2001. Can you afford to not know how to treat it?
In the event of an asthma attack where the person doesn’t have access to their medication, the first step is to remove them from the trigger of their asthma attack (if at all possible), have them sit upright and keep them calm as panic will only worsen an asthma attack. While it’s not a replacement for asthma medication, caffeine tends to aid in opening the airways, and can be considered an emergency treatment for asthma if you have access to absolutely nothing else.
In case someone in your family or group has asthma, be sure you have medication on backup at all times. This is as useful for disaster situations like a plane crash as it is for being snowed in for a week and not being able to go to the pharmacy. You can usually pre-arrange this with a doctor (though not all medications are allowed to be purchased in advance–this will generally depend on the type of medication and where you live).

6. Managing Fractures and Breaks

Fractures and breaks are bound to happen during a major disaster. Especially if you have small children, you are very likely to see a broken arm or leg at some point during their lives no matter how careful you are.

Breaks, especially open ones like the one here, are not the kind of wound you want to fix yourself, especially since it could lead to a bone infection. If you encounter this and you are away from medical help, your best bet would be to sit tight, stop the bleeding, and rest until you can find help.
Learn how to make a splint, but understand that this is a temporary measure until emergency care can be found. We don’t want to get blamed for people treating themselves or their children at home when they should have (and could have) gone to a doctor.

7. Sprains

Sprains are not as serious as breaks, though they will slow you down. Anyone else who has ever sprained a wrist, ankle or anything else will be quick to point out that sprains are painful as hell. Now, your first-off emergency treatment for a sprain is pretty simple: Immobilize the injury and apply something cold to reduce swelling. From there, you want to wrap the injured area and elevate it. This is known as the RICE method.

When thinking ahead for emergency survival for their families, most preppers have a general plan and many have started stockpiling general supplies that would be essential if disaster struck. But what about the furkids?
Many assume that pets can just eat human food and will live off the land if they ever had to be off the grid or in a post-TEOTWAWKI situation. In some aspects, getting back to an all-natural, self-sustaining lifestyle will be a welcome freedom to any pet.
But in reality, modern day dogs and cats are part of our family and need to be considered when planning and included when gathering supplies, just as the family has been. They also need to be effectively prepared by training and being mentally ready.
In this article we will explore planning and preparing for a pets emergency survival, and how you can ensure your furry family members will be healthy and cared for.

 

Pet Training for Emergencies Preparation

Like training drills with the family for disasters or emergencies, there are a few methods you can use that will greatly help your pet be mentally strong when he needs to be. You want your pet to be an asset to survival living, not a hindrance.

The Top 5 Commands Your Pet Should Know in an Emergency

The main thing you can do is make sure he knows a few commands. These simple commands can save your life if you are avoiding detection, or there is chaos and you need him to know to listen to you. You want that trust and obedience, it can save his life.
  • Come when called
  • Be silent when told
  • Stay still when told
  • Heel by your side
  • ”Drop it” in case he picks up tainted meat or roadkill, etc.

The Top 7 Things You Can Help Desensitize Your Pet to Noise

Pets can pick up anxiety and fear. In a sea of people, noise or chaos happening around them when disaster strikes, you pet can fare a lot better if the noises do not faze him as much. To allow him to focus on you and not bolt away, there are a few things you can desensitize him to early on for mental preparedness.
  • Guns and the smell of gunpowder
  • Use fireworks to emulate explosives and accompanying bright light
  • Tarps and flapping clothing
  • Cars and traffic noises
  • Air horns, sirens and whistles
  • Wild animal sounds
  • Chopping wood and snapping branches
Here is a great article on packing survival supplies for pets:

Essentials for a Pet Survival BOB

Many pets are just as precious as any family member. They make awesome companions and you will want to provide for your friend. If you only have a small space to store family BOBs for an emergency. Pack a small to medium one for your best friend. By storing foods both people and pets can eat, and stockpiling like materials, it is a lot easy to add your pets BOB into a prepping plan.
Here are the essentials for both dogs and cats when making a survival BOB for your pet.
  • Pet food– its best to have a 72 hour supply in a BOB and stockpile from there. Cheaper foods are made with mostly grains, lower protein sources, and fats and will turn rancid if stored improperly. Quality, high protein food will last quite a while in air tight containers.
  • Can opener for wet food. Their own can opener will help keep pets and peoples separate. Or be a spare, just in case.
  • Pet clothing including shoes– for dogs that have been inside, their feet will not be hardened to traveling long distances or being outside for any length of time. Depends on the SHTF scenario, you would do better to be prepared as the terrain may change. Canine officers footpads suffered greatly after 9/11 and they went through many pairs of shoes searching through the rough wreckage.
  • Leashes and a collar I would check out making leashes and collars with paracord, always handy to have.
  • Collapsible bowls for easy storage
  • Supplements
  • Treats
  • Documents, shot records with pictures I would make sure to have documentation of vaccination shots, history, age and any medical concerns.
  • Instructions on care, name, and any special needs if anything were to happen, or you needed to leave them with someone for a bit while venturing out, it’s best to have a care and feeding routine for your pets comfort.
  • Any medications stock up on 3 months of any medications. See if you can get oral versions so they can be stored long-term.
  • Dental tools there are special sprays that will help kill gingivitis for pets. I pack actual metal dental tools and you can pop off plaque.
  • Flea and tick treatments as these pests carry disease and parasites, it important to have a supply of treatments and topical agents to guard against infestation.
  • Carrier A carrier is important for providing a den for your dog and a safe haven for scared animals. Containing your animal when traversing in unknown parts, maybe with panicked crowds, may keep them alive. You do not want them to flee, or be taken.
  • Dawn dish liquid to remove fleas, oils, or any skunk sprays.
  • Dry shampoos and wipes
Here are a few additions to think on and some extra essential items just for individual types of pets:

Extra Dog BOB Items

  • Tie out for exercise or secure bathroom time
  • Raincoat
  • Dog bed
  • Blankets
  • chew toys for anxious chewing
  • Dental chewies to help clean teeth
  • A dog can be outfitted with a vest and pack many things to help out.
  • Grooming and cleaning items
  • Brushes
  • Nail clippers
  • Cotton balls for ears
  • Muzzle in case of emergency injury etc.
  • Body harness in case you need to lift him or have him haul or pull

Extra Cat BOB Items

  • Entertainment- laser pointers, toys to play with, and mental stimulation will help calm a pet.
  • Litter waste disposal is especially crucial for cats. Anything it can use. Garbage bags, a scoop, smell killing baking soda, and litter.
  • Litter box
  • Cat bed
  • Blankets
  • Cat clothing- sweaters
  • Grooming and cleaning items
  • Brushes
  • Nail clippers
  • Cotton balls for ears

Extra bird BOB Items

  • Specialty food if he is used to foraging like dried fruits and veggies
  • A quality dry feed
  • A good attachable water bottle
  • Dishes and attachables bowls
  • Wire cage with a box for nesting/hiding
  • A cover for the cage to avoid night drafts
  • A heat lamp would be good
  • Nesting items for warmth
  • Spray bottle for misting/bathing
  • Items for his breed to regulate beak growth
  • Toys and mirrors to entertain
  • Carrier he can move in (if it’s a bird not living in a cage ie a chicken)
  • Litter for his cage: newspapers or cedar chips
  • Nail clippers
  • Many birds carry a small ID band on their leg with sex, info, contact
  • Bird safe cleaning supplies
  • Vitamin water drops
Extra small pet BOB considerations (like hedgehogs, hamsters, rats, hedgehogs, guinea pigs, gerbils etc.)
  • Rodent chow- Dry food pellets in block or chunk form
  • Mixed grain food with veggies and fruits
  • Special omnivore/herbivore food for the breed (ie hedgehogs can use dried mealworms)
  • A good attachable water bottle
  • A wire cage with good ventilation
  • Tubes for tunneling
  • Nocturnal pets need a solid-floored wheel or some form of exercise
  • Nocturnal pets need a light source and we use a heating pad under the outside of a cage corner
  • Nocturnal pets are used to chewing, so items to chew that are safe are unpainted wood items, untreated natural woods. Dental health can be optimized with dog biscuits
  • Nocturnal pets love to climb: so multi-levels, bars or branches in the cage
  • Rodent approved toys that can include things to shred, ropes, swings and nets to climb
  • Unscented baby wipes for a quick bath

A Few More Supplies

Pet food- wet and dry Canning for long term storage and using sealed containers for dry food will help avoid molding, turning rancid, and any pest invasions. We will have some following articles in our survival pet series on making your own dog food and canning wet food for pets.
Kitty litter or absorbent litter this actually can be used for your kitty as well as in your won waste disposal system, as it absorbs liquid and kills odor. If you buy the unscented type it has a few extra uses.
Kitty litter has unique properties
  • Bentonite is the active ingredient and with its ability to clump, it can double as a sealant for ponds or as a sealer for cracks.
  • It can be made into a poultice and heal wounds, boils, and stings by drawing the toxin out.
Pet first aid kit for a pet’s BOB
Although most human first aid kits will have the basic supplies and many things are interchangeable, you should make a pet based first aid kit so you have all the supplies you need in any emergency or critical situation. Having a separate pet first aid kit will also keep any cross contamination at bay during treatment. Brushing up on pet CPR would be a smart move in addition to packing a pet BOB and first aid kit.
Here are the basics for constructing your pet’s first aid kit:
  • Hypoallergenic tape and sports tape
  • Sterile eye wash
  • Vaseline or other petroleum type jelly
  • Triple antibacterial ointment
  • 1% hydrocortisone cream
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Witch hazel for ears
  • Betadine
  • Antihistamine spray and stick up pills like Benadryl (it can also act as a sedative in emergencies)
  • Aspirin (buffered type)
  • Pepto bismol dry tablets
  • Imodium ID for intestinal distress
  • Kaopectate tablets
  • “Hot spot” spray or foaming sanitizer
  • Cotton swabs and squares
  • Ace bandages or non-stick wrap style bandages
  • Scissors with blunt tips for the bandages
  • Pediolyte for electrolytes (to avoid dehydration)
  • Muzzle for safety
  • Thermometer for rectal temperature
  • Tweezers
  • Needle and nylon thread (dental floss in an emergency)
  • Honey packs for fast acting energy to the liver to avoid shock
Here is a good video on pet CPPR:

A Few Things to Consider with Pets If an Emergency Strikes or Shtf

Pets can prove to be very useful in SHTF or survivalist situations. We know they can defend the home. They also can provide some necessary services that can help on a homestead, so it is prudent to think on the pros and cons. To me, I cannot think of not taking them. In some situations, people may need to decide. They may have limited choices and it is a very weighty decision to make.

Pros of Pets

  • Pets provide a very uncanny sensory tool. They can sense intentions, vibrations and disturbances well before a human can. Being in tune with a pet, it can be an early warning system for environmental happenings. Pets also can detect intent and warn about danger and dangerous people if you listen.
  • Insulator contact heat there’s something to be said for having a living heating pad inside your sleeping bag.
  • Companion and emotional support in many crises, having another soul can be very comforting. This also can motivate you to go on when you know this little life depends on you.
  • Security and vigilance with a pet’s hearing, scent, and sight so much more powerful than ours, it is an early detection system and one we can learn the silent signs of.
  • Hunting ability many sports were evolved from the pet’s ability to hunt game and retrieve it for the sole reason of food. Having this resource that is swifter and happy to do it will go far in gathering much needed game for survival.

Cons of Pets

  • Splitting rations sharing food and water will be something to think on.
  • Detection if you do not train your pet, barking or running free could blow your cover and bring undesirables your way.
  • Scaring off game again if not trained, he may have too much fun and scare away game with barking, exploring their trails, or urine scenting.

Final Thoughts

As preppers, it’s imperative to plan for the whole family when considering a survivalist plan. Hopefully, these lists and strategies can make it a tad easier when prepping for your pet, getting him ready for an emergency situation, and having him be a beneficial and productive part any situation- whether bugging out or bugging in!



A List of Herbs and Their Amazing Uses With Pictures


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Looking for a list of herbs and their uses? I've often needed a quick a reference myself in the past to look up a particular herb and find their uses. This article will do just that, I'll be listing several common herbs and listing the medicinal properties of each along with how you can use them. I'm aiming to make this your one source for finding information about your favorite herbs, so let's get to it. You can use the Quick Navigation feature down below to quickly locate a particular herb and by clicking the red chevron in the bottom right you'll be taken back to the top of this page. If you're looking for some easy to grow herbs be sure to check out our article covering 5 Useful and Easy to Grow Herbs.

​Aloe Vera

herb aloe vera
​The Aloe Vera plant is first on our list of herbs and their uses, and rightfully so. The Aloe plant has an abundance of medicinal properties and has been used for centuries for this reason. The Aloe plant is relatively easy to grow once it has been established, it doesn't need watered everyday or even every week for that matter. This makes the Aloe plant a great choice for people who are away often or for those who might forget to water it. Let's take a look at some of the medicinal properties of this herb that I mentioned earlier.

Key Medicinal Uses​

  • Burns
  • Psoriasis
  • Diabetes
  • Colitis​
  • Immune Support
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Skin toner
  • Wound healer

How to Use

aloe gel for burns
Aloe gel for burns
​The most common uses for Aloe would have to be for treating burns, wounds and skin conditions. This along with the ease of growing an Aloe plant make it an excellent choice to have in your herbal first aid kit. The real magic of the Aloe Vera plant comes from the gel inside the leaves, to extract this all you need to do is take a knife and take off the thick skin on the outside of the leaf. The part you're after is the clear inner gel, sometimes referred to as the inner fillet, because you're sort of filleting the leaf. When used on minor burns you should run the affected area under cool water for about ten minutes before applying the Aloe gel. Continue to apply the gel several times per day for both burns and skin conditions. If you're using the Aloe gel for lowering blood sugar levels take about one tablespoon daily (be sure to use an aloe gel that's free of aloin if taking orally).

Caution

When using Aloe you want to be sure not to apply it to any open wounds. Also be careful when processing the leaves. As I mentioned above you want to make use of the clear gel part, and steer clear of the yellow sap​ that oozes out. While not a big deal when applying to the skin one should be aware of this yellow sap when taking aloe gel orally. This yellow sap is called aloin and if ingested will act as a laxative, if aloin is used for prolonged periods it can lead to depletion of electrolytes and dependence for normal bowl function.

Basil​

herbs basil
​Aside from being a great herb for the kitchen basil has a place as an herbal medicine as well. One reason I really like the basil plant is the fact that it's super easy to grow, you just need to be sure you water it from time to time. It's a very aromatic herb too having kind of a licorice smell and taste as well. One cool thing that I found you can do with basil is cloning it. Sounds crazy right? It actually is pretty easy all you have to do is find the plant you wish to clone (the parent plant) and trim about 3-4 inches down from the top of a stem. You'll want to make sure you make the cut just above a node. This area will be where a leaf attaches to the body of the stem and is where new growth takes place. Then you simply remove the lower leaves of the cut so that you're left with a stem containing 4-6 leaves on the top. After that you simply just need to place the cut into a shallow dish of water and wait for roots to sprout, then you simply just plant the new basil clone into some soil. To speed up the root growth I've found that applying a rooting hormone and some honey to the end of the stem helps a lot. As I mentioned above basil has a place as an herbal medicine so let's take a look at the properties of the basil plant that we can use.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antibacterial
  • Mild sedative
  • Relieves gas
  • Bites and Stings

How to Use

rooting hormone
Rooting hormone for cloning
As you might expect from an herb like basil it has a pretty profound effect on the digestive system and therefore works great for treating things like indigestion, bloating, and gas. When you're using basil to treat these problems I'd recommend taking around 2-4 grams per day taken orally. Basil can also be used to ease the effects of insect bites and stings, simply crush the leaves so the juices can be applied to the affected area. To help from getting bit or stung in the first place you can rub the juice on the skin in the same manner, basil works rather well as an insecticide so this should help repel the bugs.


​Calendula

herbal calendula
​Also known as pot marigold or poet's marigold, calendula is different than the common marigold that's usually seen in gardens. Unlike the common marigold calendula is edible and has very little scent. During medieval time in England the calendula herb was commonly used in stews, syrups, and breads. Calendula is also rather easy to start from seed and is able to adapt to many growing conditions making it an ideal herb to grow. The herb is found in many gardens all over the world for subarctic to tropic regions. Now let's take a look at the key medicinal uses that make calendula such a prized herb to have.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antifungal
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Wound healer
  • Antimicrobial
  • Blood Cleanser​
  • Dermatitis

​How to Use

Calendula salve
Calendula salve
Making creams, lotions, ointments, salves and soaps are the most common ways to use the calendula herb. Calendula has been used for centuries to treat skin conditions and infections in some minor wounds. The calendula herb can also be taken orally to help ease upset stomachs, ulcers and fevers as well. Most often you will see calendula applied externally to treat minor cuts, burns, bug bites and more. If you're using it to treat digestive disorders using the petals to make a tea or tincture is a great way to treat peptic ulcers and gastrointestinal infection. It's recommended that you take 3-5 grams a day to help ease these digestive disorders.

Caution

​If you're allergic to any plants in the Asteracae family you should steer away from using calendula. You could develop a sensitivity to any topical use which could lead to the development of a rash.

Cayenne Pepper​

cayenne pepper
​Probably best know for adding a little spice to your dish the cayenne pepper has much more to offer as a medicinal herb. Most lists of herbs tend to leave out the uses of cayenne pepper for whatever reason, but I feel that they are worth mentioning here. The use of cayenne can be found back as far as the Aztecs and Mayans; commonly they would use it for toothaches and infections. The main chemical responsible for the vast medicinal benefits is capsaicin, this is the same chemical that gives you that burning sensation when you bite into a jalapeno. If you're interested in tips for growing peppers check out the article we've previously posted.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antiseptic
  • Local analgesic
  • Counterirritant
  • Stimulant
  • Relieves gas
  • Arthritis
  • Nerve pain

​How to Use

cayenne capsules
Cayenne capsules
Most often you'll find the cayenne pepper being used as a cream, lotion or salve to treat problems like arthritis, shingles, joint and muscle pain related to fibromyalgia. It has also been shown to ease the pain of cluster headaches, improve circulation and relieve heartburn when taken orally. For nerve pain, apply a cream that contains about 0.075% capsaicin 3-4 times per day. You can also treat arthritis type pain by applying a cream with a concentration of about 0.025% 4 times a day. Often times it may take 6 to 8 weeks to see the results of cayenne begin to work, but just be patient and it will work. Capsules can also be found containing cayenne and are a great way to orally take your cayenne. In some cases cayenne pepper has also been know to decrease appetite and burn calories although this is probably only a small effect overall.

Caution​

Some times when capsaicin is applied to the skin it can cause a burning, stinging, redness and even a rash. Most often this rash is more irritation than anything and well get better after the first few uses. If the rash persists though you should stop the use as you may have an allergy towards capsaicin. Also capsaicin should never be applied to broken skin. Remember to where gloves if you're working with a higher concentration and don't touch your face, if you don't where gloves be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before making contact with your face. 

Chamomile​

chamomile
​The next herb on our list is chamomile, this is another great herb with a wide array of uses. The Spanish name for this herb is manzanilla which simply means "little apple" it's no surprise that the Spanish people gave it this name. When the leaves and petals are bruised they give off a very distinct apple aroma. There are two main species chamomile German chamomile and Roman or English chamomile, they're all similar in there medicinal effects but the Roman or English species have a more pronounced aroma than the German variety. Both varieties are relatively easy to grow from seed, in fact if they are left to seed on there own you'll find that they have grown back the next spring.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Digestive aid
  • Colic
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Eczema
  • Anti-allergenic
  • Anti-inflamatory
  • Wound healer

​How to Use

dried chamomile
Dried chamomile
Chamomile is very common in the form of a tea, it's simple to make a home too. Pour one cup of boiling water over 1 teasopoon of dried chamomile. Allow the tea 5-7 minutes to steep, the longer you let the tea steep, the more powerful the calming effects will be. Chamomile capsules can also be found and are a quick and easy way to get the benefits of Chamomile. Making a topical cream from chamomile is also a great way to relieve the symptoms of eczema, in fact it has been shown that a low dose of hydrocortisone cream showed the same results as that of the chamomile cream for treating eczema.

Caution

​In rare cases people have shown symptoms of an allergic reaction to chamomile this is generally people who have severe ragweed allergies. Generally speaking chamomile is a very safe herb though.

Chickweed​

chickweed herb
​Chickweed is an annual herb that can be found all over the world in temperate as well as arctic regions. An interesting characteristic of the chickweed is that it sleeps, at night the leaves will fold up covering the young buds and shoots. Chickweed is also known for being quite a nutritious herb and is a good choice to include in your salads.  The whole plant can be used both dried and fresh in herbal remedies. Let's have a look at the main medicinal uses now that this herb is best know for.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Astringent
  • Demulcent
  • Relieves itchiness
  • Cooling effect when applied topically

How to use

Chickweed salve
Chickweed salve
Chickweed is probably best know for it's ability to relieve itchy skin, and is used a lot in treatments for eczema, nettle rash, and bug bites. A simple chickweed slave can be made by mixing olive oil, chickweed, beeswax, and lavender for fragrance. Finely chop the chickweed and let it sit and dry for about 24 hours. Then you'll want to mix an equal amount of the chickweed and olive oil and blend the mixture for around 20 seconds. Next place the mixture in a metal dish suspended above another metal dish with water in it. Heat the water in the bottom dish to a boil, don't let the bottom of the top dish touch the water this could allow the mixture to get too hot. Stir the mixture frequently then strain through a cheese cloth. Then using the same method melt the beeswax and add the infused oil, stir to combine and then remove. The salve can be put in a jar for later use.

Caution

Chickweed can cause allergic skin reactions in some cases. The herb also contains saponins which are toxic in high doses it's been documented that cattle have died from eating too much of the herb. Although several pounds would need to be eaten to kill the animal.

Cinnamon​

cinnamon stick
​Another well know spice in the kitchen cinnamon is also known for it's medicinal properties. While not really an herb I still think it's important to list it in our list of herbs and their uses. Cinnamon actually comes from the inner bark of a tree in the laurel family. It's been used for centuries and was a hot commodity for trade in ancient times. In fact during the first century A.D. in Rome cinnamon was 15 times more expensive than silver. The Chinese were probably the first to use cinnamon as a medicinal herb and used it to treat fevers, and diarrhea. In more modern times cinnamon has been found to stabilize blood sugar levels in diabetics, as it has an insulin kind of effect.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Diabetes
  • Mild stimulant
  • Aromatic
  • Astringent
  • Antimicrobial
  • Relieves gas

How to Use

ground cinnamon
Ground cinnamon from Sri Lanka
The most significant use of cinnamon is to treat diabetes, take 1 teaspoon of powdered cinnamon daily to help level out blood sugar levels. Capsules of cinnamon can also be found the dosage varies but generally 1-6 grams of cinnamon capsules per day spaced out is a good amount. A nice little way to substitute cinnamon sugar would be to combine one cinnamon stick freshly ground with 6 teaspoons of stevia. This is great for adding to toast, oatmeal or fruit.

Caution

Ground cinnamon is very safe, the volatile oils can however cause a skin rash. Small amounts of coumarin can be found in Cassia and other cinnamons, generally only large doses of this compound will cause blood-thinning and liver problems, but it's something to be aware of. Also if you're planning on having surgery you should stop the use of cinnamon at least one week before going in as it has a blood thinning effect. You should also take care to monitor your blood sugar to avoid an unsafe drop in blood pressure.

Clove​

clove buds
It comes as a surprise to many that clove is actually a flower bud, these buds have to be picked at just the right time. Before flowering the buds will turn a deep red and this is the ideal time to harvest your clove. Clove buds come from an evergreen bush with vibrant pink flowers and purple berries. The clove plant does best in warm and humid regions. The earliest written record of the use of clove as a medicinal herb is by the Han Dynasty in China around 300 B.C. Like cinnamon clove was a prized spice and once rivaled the value of oil. Now let's take a look and see what some of the key medicinal properties of clove is and how we can use this herb.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Analgesic
  • Stimulant
  • Antiseptic
  • Anti-emetic
  • Antoxidant
  • Antimicrobial

How to Use

clove oil
Clove oil
For toothaches a clove or drop of clove oil on a cotton ball can be placed on the aching tooth. This method should be used sparingly however and do not place the oil on the gum. For nerve pain a diluted oil up to 3% max can be applied to the skin to treat problems such as shingles. In small doses clove powder can be useful for treating things such as nausea, indigestion, and bloating.

Caution

Never ingest the essential oil without carefully diluting it first, and in some cases external use can lead to dermatitis. Clove should be used sparingly and just be sure to monitor how your body reacts to it.

​Comfrey

herbal comfrey
​Comfrey's use dates back centuries to at least the time of the ancient Greeks. During the Middle Ages comfrey was a widely cultivated herb found extensively in the gardens of monasteries. Throughout the 1700's and 1800's comfrey was also a popular herb grown in many gardens across Europe as well as America. Sometime during the late 1970's however research revealed that comfrey when taken internally can cause severe liver damage so it has lost popularity and internal use is even banned in many countries. Applications in the from of ointments, poultices, or creams are still considered safe though. Comfrey can still be found growing wild in central Europe, and the eastern United States as well as  a few western states.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Demulcent
  • Wound healer
  • Astringent

How to Use

Comfrey ointment
Comfrey ointment
The best ways to use comfrey today are through gels, ointments, creams, liniments or poultices. You can find extracts that have the dangerous alkaloids removed while still have the pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties retained. Massage any of these methods into a bruise, sore joint or muscle 3 - 4 times per day.

Caution

I mentioned earlier many countries have banned the use of internally taking comfrey, so I must caution you again to not take comfrey internally. The alkaloids found within it can be very damaging to the liver.

Dandelion​

dandelion herb in dish
​The dandelion is often thought of as a weed due to the fact that it can very easily over run a yard and choke out grass. Dandelions are actually a great herb, they offer plenty of nutritional benefits as well as medicinal, which is why it makes our list of herbs. One great thing about the dandelion herb is that the whole plant can be used from the flower down to the roots. The leaves make a great addition to salads and the flowers (when still yellow) can be eaten raw, cooked or made into a dandelion wine. Even the root of the dandelion can be consumed, usually it is roasted and ate or added to a nice cup of tea. Due to it's good diuretic properties dandelion is also sometimes called piss-a-bed.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Diuretic
  • Liver cleanser
  • Mild laxative
  • Kidney cleanser

How to Use

Dandelion tea
Dandelion tea
As I mentioned before the whole dandelion plant can be used. The root has many beneficial medicinal properties in the digestive system such as the stomach, liver, and pancreas. The dandelion root helps to increase digestive secretions and has also showed capabilities of stabilizing blood sugar levels. The leaf of the dandelion herb primarily acts on the kidneys helping with fluid clearance and even weight loss. Dandelion leaves are a common choice for those looking to lower blood pressure too. When combined with other herbs it works to effectively relieve skin problems such as acne, boils, and eczema.

Caution

​Generally considered a safe herb dandelion can have a negative effect on people who have allergies to ragweed. Also be sure that any dandelions you pick have not been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides.

Echinacea​

echinacea
​Next on our list of herbs is Echinacea also known as Black Sampson it is referred to by the native Americans of the plains as snake root, because it was traditionally used to treat snake bites. Natives have also used the plant to treat tooth aches. The Omaha-Ponca and Cheyenne Indians were probably the most notable groups to use the plant. They would rub the juices of the roots on their bodies to heal burns, or like mentioned above would use it to treat toothaches. Today echinacea is used to boost the immune system and speed up recovery of the common cold. There are three common types of Echinacea; Echinacea purpurea is the most common it can be found from Georgia to Oklahoma, north to Michigan and east to Ohio. Echinacea pallida is most commonly found in open woods and prairies, people in states like Michigan, Arkansas, Texas and here in Nebraska can find this species of Echinacea. Echinacea angustifolia tends to grow on roadsides, prairies, and outcrops; people living in Texas all the way north through the Dakotas and southern Saskatchewan you can also expect to find it growing in Montana and Colorado.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Colds and flus
  • Wound healer
  • Blood cleanser
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral
  • Immune-enhancing

How to Use

echinacea extract
Echinacea extract
Echinacea can be taken as a tincture, tablet, or capsule to help speed up the recovery time of colds, chest infections, and sore throats. For sore throats gargle a diluted tincture of echinacea to help ease the symptoms. Like I mentioned earlier echinacea can be used to treat tooth aches, all you need to do is chew on the root. I can remember doing this in high school when we practiced range judging, and it is a very effective way of treating a tooth ache. A more desirable method however might be to turn the root into a tea rather than chewing on it.

Caution

In some case Echinacea has been know to cause an allergic reaction. This is probably due to an allergy coming from plants of the Asteracae (daisy) family. You shouldn't consume Echinacea if you have an autoimmune condition.

Garlic

garlic herb
​Garlic another herb commonly used in the kitchen also has its place here in our list of herbs. Garlic has been used for thousands of years and was thought to increase strength and stamina, it was used by the first Olympic athletes of Greece which very well could make it one of the first performance enhancing substances. From vampires to witches garlic was also used to ward off evil entities, in spells and charms. In the Middle Ages monasteries would grow garlic to treat digestive, kidney, and breathing issues. During World War II the Russians reportedly ate a lot of garlic and some say it helped keep them alive through the hard times. Today a lot of the use garlic get is to treat and prevent heart disease,  regulate cholesterol levels, reduce high blood pressure and strengthen the immune system. Garlic grows well all over the world where vegetable gardens can be made. Even grown indoors garlic can do quite well, you can actually take a clove of garlic and grow an entire garlic plant from that one clove. The next time you're at the grocery store buy some garlic, take one of the cloves and plant in some moist soil with the pointed end up. Continue to regularly water the clove and in no time at all you'll have a nice garlic plant. Garlic is perhaps one of the most important and often overlooked medicinal herbs on the planet, which is why I had to include it into our list of herbs.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antibiotic
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Blood-thinner
  • Supports beneficial intestinal flora
  • Counters cough and respiratory infection
  • Antifungal
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Diarrhea
  • Heart health

How to Use

Garlic capsules
Garlic capsules
Raw garlic is simply the best form of the herb to eat, when you cook garlic you destroy a lot of the constituents responsible for its medicinal properties. Aside from eating garlic raw you can also crush up a few cloves of garlic and add it too some olive oil which can then be put on a salad. You can also purchase garlic capsules these are a great way to get the main constituents of garlic into your body. Try and look for products containing allicin this is one of the top ingredients found in garlic.

Caution

Generally garlic is safe when taken in a regular diet. There is a small risk that can occur however when eating large doses of garlic daily, taking more than 4 cloves per day can affect the bodies platelets hindering them from forming clots. You should reduce use of garlic around 2 weeks before having any type of surgery and if you're taking anticoagulant medications.

Ginger​

ginger root
​Ginger is a very popular herb used in cooking, its native to Asia and has been used for over 4,400 years. During ancient times it was used by Indian, Chinese, and Arab medicines. It was so highly prized during the Middle Ages that they thought it actually came from the Garden of Eden. Today you can find ginger being used to treat problems associated with motion sickness. Teas are also made from the root to cure a number of ailments. The Greeks and Romans are probably the first to introduce ginger to Europe at least 2,000 years ago. This probably happened due to trading through the Arabian Peninsula.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Motion sickness
  • Inflammation
  • Coughs and colds
  • Morning sickness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anti-emetic
  • Antioxidant
  • Circulatory stimulant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Stimulates sweating
  • Digestive tonic

How to Use

ginger root
Fresh ginger root
To treat colds or coughs you can make a nice ginger tea by cutting about one inch of ginger root into small pieces and adding to two cups of water and simmering for fifteen minutes. Ginger can also be found in capsules like a lot of other herbs and is a great way to get your dose of ginger for the day. Extracts are also available but are generally used only to treat osteoarthritis.

Caution

Ginger is actually a very safe herb to use it can however cause some heartburn. Also women who are pregnant shouldn't consume more than one gram per day. In addition to that you also shouldn't combine high doses of ginger with blood thinners.

Ginkgo​ Biloba

ginkgo leaf
​Ginkgo Biloba has been used for thousands of years in herbal medicine. Probably first used by the Chinese, today it is used widely in both the United States and Europe. Ginkgo actually comes from the leaves of a the Ginkgo tree, while probably not an herb you would plant in your garden I still think it's a great herb to include in our list of herbs. Over the years Ginkgo Biloba has gained a reputation of being beneficial to the brain. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center the two main constituents found in Ginkgo are flavonoids and terpenoids, both are antioxidants. Flavonoids have been shown to aid in the protection of nerves, heart, and blood vessels. Terpenoids are probably where ginkgo gains it's reputation for being beneficial to the brain, terpenoids help improve blood flow to the brain by dilating blood vessels and prevents platelets from sticking to each other.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Mental health/performance
  • Antioxidant
  • Improve circulation
  • Protects nerve tissue

How to Use

Ginkgo Capsules
Ginkgo Capsules
Like I mentioned earlier Ginkgo helps increase the blood flow to the brain, so it comes as no surprise that this herb can aid in cognitive function and memory. It has also been shown to help with symptoms associated with the central nervous system such as tinnitus and vertigo. The brain isn't the only place Ginkgo will increase circulation in fact the whole body from the toes to your head have increased circulation when taking the herb. Most commonly Ginkgo is taken orally via capsules, these can be found for a reasonable price at Walgreens, CVS or the like.

Caution​

It should be noted that if you're taking any medications to prevent blood clotting you should not take Ginkgo and you should stop the use of Ginkgo at least three days prior to surgery.​

Lavender​

lavender field
​Lavender is probably best noted for its fragrance and is a great herb to use for a stressful day. The lavender is commonly used in soaps, detergents, or just as an essential oil due to the calming effects it produces from the fragrance. Lavender is also commonly used in teas for the same reason. The history of lavender is quite long stretching back about 2500 years to the Mediterranean. Today it is mostly grown for its uses as an essential oil. In addition to brewing tea with lavender it also ha many other culinary types of uses, lavender can add a floral type of taste with a little sweetness. It works great in some seafood, soups, salads, and baked goods.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antidepressant
  • Sedation effects
  • Antiseptic
  • Analgesic
  • Relieves gas
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender Essential Oil
As I mentioned earlier lavender is a very commonly used for its essential oil; the sedating, soothing and relaxing properties of the lavender oil make it great for headaches. You can add some to homemade soap or put a few drops into your bathtub. I like to use my humidifier and place a few drops into the medicine dish. This is a great way to get the lavender oil into the air and keeps your room more humid too. The lavender oil can also be massaged into the skin to relieve any sort of aches and pains you might have as well. Teas are also a great way get the benefits of lavender, when you're steeping a cup of tea just drop a few sprigs of lavender into the cup and let it steep as well.

Caution

​Lavender is actually a very safe herb to use although I wouldn't recommend directly ingesting the essential oil, this could induce unwanted side effects.

Lemon Balm​

lemon balm herb
​Lemon balm is another herb with a potent fragrance, rubbing the leaves releases a somewhat minty and lemony scent into the air. First used by the Greeks over 2000 years ago lemon balm has a long standing use in herbal medicine. Back then the Greeks as well as the Romans would infuse there wine with the lemon balm to relieve fevers. Today lemon balm is often paired with other herbs such as valerian and hops for sleep promotion and relaxation. Its gaining popularity as some what of a nootropic as well, some studies have shown it to improve learning, and memory recall too. So its no surprise that a lot of herbal practitioners are recommending lemon balm as a treatment to Alzheimer's.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Insect repellent
  • Antispasmodic
  • Relieves gas
  • Relaxant
  • Antiviral
  • Antidepressant
  • Anxiety and stress

How to Use

Lemon Balm Tea
Lemon Balm Tea
There are actually several ways to use lemon balm making it a versatile herb both in the ailments it treats and  the way it can be administered. Teas are a great way to gain the benefits of lemon balm. You can steep about 5 or 6 fresh leaves in a cup of water for six minutes and strain. Try adding some honey or stevia to sweeten the deal up and add a little mint for an extra layer of flavor. Tinctures, extracts, and ointments are all also widely available for lemon balm and all are quite effective.

Neem​

neem leaves
​Neem has a very long history as a medicinal herb in fact the history of neem stretches back all the way to one of the oldest texts known to man. The properties of neem are spoken of in some of the ancient Sanskrit and the Sanskrit word for neem (nimba) actually means "good health". Neem is a tree so it can be hard for some to classify it as an herb but I just couldn't leave this one out of our list of herbs. After all the people of India have been using neem for over 4,000 years now so it is something to consider when talking about herbs. Today neem is used for many reasons including skin treatment for eczema, scabies, head lice, and psoriasis. In addition to being good for the skin neem is also renowned for its benefits on your hair too.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Blood cleanser
  • Lowers blood sugar levels
  • Anitbacterial
  • Antifungal
  • Relieves itchiness
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immune support

How to Use

Neem salve in tin
Neem and Vitamin E Salve
If you're looking to use neem as a skin toner, simply boil around 20 neem leaves in half a liter of water, once the leaves become soft and discolored and the water turns green you can strain them. Keep the liquid in a bottle and when you're ready to use it just take a cotton ball wet it down with the liquid and apply it to your face. This will prevent acne and blackheads from occurring. You can also use it to prevent skin infections simply by adding a little to your bath water.

Caution

You should only give neem topically to children. Women who are nursing or pregnant should not use neem.​

Nettle​

stinging nettle uses
​Stinging nettles are an interesting herb that we have growing rampant here in Nebraska. Stinging nettles are probably best known for... you guessed it their sting. The nettle plant has  sharp spines that are revealed upon contact and once they penetrate the skin of the victim they release a concoction of chemicals into the body. This is where you get that burning/itchy feeling from, the nettle plant releases a mix of histamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and formic acid. Surprisingly the treatment for this burning sensation can be found via the plant itself; the juice from the nettle's leaves can be applied to the affected area. Aside from the painful sting of the nettle plant it is actually a very beneficial herb and undoubtedly deserves to be in our list of herbs here.

Key Medicinal Uses

  • Anti-allergenic
  • Diuretic
  • Antispasmodic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Blood cleanser
  • Tonic

How to Use

bag of nettle leaves
1lb Bag of Nettle Leaves
The nettle plant can actually be used in a variety of ways, teas, capsules, tinctures, and extracts are all great ways to get the benefits of the nettle. Capsules can be found and used to help manage hay fever symptoms, anywhere from 300 to 800 mg is generally the recommended dosage. Teas are often consumed to gain the strong diuretic effects that nettles have, because of this diuretic effect it has been used for things such as arthritis, prostate health, and high blood pressure.

Caution

Nettles does have a few possible side effects that you should be aware of. Upset stomach, rash and impotence are all possible but are rare. If you're taking any medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, anxiety or insomnia you should talk to your doctor before taking the nettle herb.​

Oregano​

oregano herb
​Yet another culinary herb makes our list of medicinal herbs. Oregano is way up on my list for sure as far as culinary herbs go I love this stuff. Oregano is actually part of the mint family and originated in warm climates in Eurasia and the Mediterranean. First used by the Greeks in ancient times they believed that oregano was created by the Goddess Aphrodite, oregano comes stems from two Greek words the first oros, which means "mountains" and the second ganos, meaning "joy" put it together and you get "joy of the mountains". It wasn't until the middle ages that oregano really took off as a medicinal herb where  people would use the herb to treat toothaches, rheumatism, indigestion and coughing.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Antifungal
  • Expectorant
  • Stimulent
  • Antiseptic
  • Antioxidant

How to Use

oregano oil
Undiluted Oregano Oil
As you might have expected oregano has a lengthy list of ways you can use it in the kitchen. Those are all great ways but you can do other things with oregano other than adding it to a pasta dish. Make a tea from it, this is a great way to speed up the recovery time of an illness. Oregano oil that has been diluted in either coconut or olive oil can be applied topically to treat ringworm, athletes foot, and warts.

Caution

While oregano is great for many people some people will find that their skin becomes irritated by the oil. This is why you should use only a small amount to test the waters and be sure to only use diluted oregano oil when using.

Peppermint​

peppermint herb uses
​Peppermint is a very well known herb today because of the amazing aroma it has when the leaves are bruised. It's used in so many different ways both culinary and medicinal it's hard to not include peppermint in our list of herbs. Peppermint originally came from England some time in the late seventeenth century and is actually a hybrid that comes from the water mint and spearmint. Peppermint was also extensively used in Ancient Egypt where they used it for indigestion, dried peppermint leaves have even been found inside of the pyramids that the Egyptians had built. During the eighteenth century peppermint became popular in Western Europe for treating things like nausea, morning sickness, and respiratory infections.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Relieves gas
  • Mild bitter
  • Mild sedative
  • Antiseptic
  • Diaphoretic
  • Mild analgesic
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

peppermint oil
Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is a great herb to have when it come to combating the flu and colds. Peppermint has the ability to alleviate the symptoms of a sore throat by cooling and soothing the pain, this is due to the menthol that is found inside of peppermint. Make a tea with some peppermint and add a little honey with lemon, it's a great way to reduce the symptoms of a sore throat. If your sinuses are congested try adding some peppermint oil right into your humidifier (the ones with the medicine chamber).

Caution

Peppermint is a very safe herb to use but if you have sensitive skin you may want to avoid using the oil or dilute it so that your skin won't be irritated by it.​

Plantain​

plantain
​Plantain is quite possibly one of the first herbs to make its way to America from Europe. Originally brought over by the Puritan colonists plantain was called "white man's footprint" by the native Americans because of its ability to thrive where ever the new colonists had planted it. Plantain grows world wide now often thought of as a weed, it does however have some powerful medicinal benefits that shouldn't go unnoticed. Plantains ability to heal wounds such as cuts, burns, and swelling have been noted all the way back to medieval Europe. In addition to being a powerful wound healer plantain also shows promising results for treating ailments such as edema, jaundice, ear infections, ringworm, and shingles. The main constituents responsible for plantain's healing properties are aucubin, allatonin, mucilage, flavonoids, caffeic acid, and alcohols found in the wax of plantain's leaves. All these combine to make it a must have in your herbal first aid kit.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Wound healer
  • Demulcent
  • Anticatarrhal
  • Antihemorrhagic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Analgesic
  • Antiviral

How to Use

plantain leaves
4 oz bag of Plantain Leaves
Plantain has a pretty lengthy list of uses it can be used to treat acne by applying a salve or tincture to the area, crushing the leaves can make for an effective sunburn remedy. Just from these two uses alone you can see that plantain would make a great herb for any prepper, but the benefits of plantain don't stop there. The ability that plantain has for treating cuts and healing wounds makes it a great herb to know when in the wilderness and to keep in your herbal first aid kit. Plantain can also be used to treat colds, the flu, and respiratory infections by brewing a tea with it.

Sage​

sage herb
​Sage also has some medicinal properties like most of its fellow culinary herbs. It has traits that allow it to ease sore throats as well as coughs and colds. Sage was used in Egypt during ancient times to ward off evil, snakebites and to increase the fertility in women and in India sage was used to treat sore throats and indigestion. Sage has been grown in herb gardens and kitchens since medieval times when the Romans introduced it to Europe. Today sage can be found in a wide variety of natural products being sold. This makes sage a great herb for preppers because it means they too can make these natural products. Deodorants are often made from sage because of its antiperspirant properties, and mouthwashes are common due to sage's ability to kill bacteria.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Astringent
  • Antimicrobial
  • Reduces sweating
  • Estrogenic
  • General tonic
  • Antioxidant
  • Digestive tonic

How to Use

organic sage tea
Organic Sage Tea
Teas are a great way to get the benefits of sage all you need to do is steep one teaspoon of sage in a cup of water for about 10 minutes. You can also make a pretty awesome sore throat reliever by combining sage and thyme. Take an ounce of both grind them, and cover them with 16 ounces of apple cider vinegar. Be sure to shake it periodically and let it sit for ten days before using.

Caution

A word of caution about sage though, it contains a chemicals known as thujones in its essential oils. Its safe in normal culinary uses but caution should be taken for higher does and alcohol extracts are not advised.

Skullcap​

skullcap herb
​Skullcap is yet another herb of the mint family, the first medicinal use of skullcap can probably be found by looking into the lives of the Native Americans. The roots of skullcap were used as a remedy for things such as diarrhea and kidney problems. It wasn't until the settlers came that skullcap gained a reputation of being a sedative. They used it for a whole host of problems including fevers, anxious nerves, and even rabies. Today skullcap is most often found being used as a mild relaxant to treat anxiety, insomnia, tension headaches and fibromyalgia. When it comes to growing skullcap for your herb garden you have to realize that there is the North American variety and the Chinese type as well. The Chinese skullcap is the much hardier variety and well grow well in both warm or cool climates and handles drought very well. The North American skullcap however requires a very rich, moist and slightly acidic soil, so conditions have to be more precise in order to get the North American variety to grow.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Sedative
  • Mild bitter
  • Nerve tonic
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

skullcap capsules
Skullcap Capsules
Skullcap tea can be made by steeping one ounce of skullcap in a pint of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drink this in 1/2 cup dosages every few hours to relieve headaches and anxiety. Capsules are also a great quick way to get the benefits of skullcap if you don't have the time to make a tea.

Caution

Caution should be taken when using skullcap it is a powerful herb and some reports suggest that it causes damage to the liver, never take skullcap if you have problems with your liver.

Turmeric​

turmeric root
​Even though it's more of a spice than an herb I couldn't help but include turmeric in the list of herbs. Turmeric has a long standing tradition in Hinduism and is associated with purity and cleansing. Still today Hindu brides will take part in a ceremony where they will cover their faces in a turmeric paste before taking their vows. Marco Polo once described turmeric as being a vegetable with qualities resembling that of saffron. It wasn't until about the mid 20th century when people from the west started to recognize turmeric for its medicinal benefits. Curcumin is the main ingredient found in turmeric that gives it these benefits, the concentration of curcumin in turmeric is around 3% this is why it is more beneficial to take an extract of turmeric.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Protects the liver
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory

How to Use

turmeric powder
1 lb bag of Turmeric
One of the best and well known ways to get the benefits of turmeric is to just simply eat it. Maybe not plain but adding it to dishes is a great way. Don't be fooled into thinking that eating turmeric in food is the only way to reap the benefits of this amazing herb. You can use it in teas too, or as a toothpaste you can on occasions dip your tooth brush into some turmeric powder brush it onto your teeth and allow it to sit for about 3 minutes. It won't stain your teeth but the same can't be said for your toothbrush or sink. You can also make a turmeric paste by mixing some of powdered turmeric with a little water and use it topically.

Valerian​

valerian herb
​My personal favorite so far for promoting relaxation has got to be Valerian root. Like a lot of the others in this list of herbs Valerian was probably first used by the Greeks and Romans centuries ago. They used Valerian to treat disorders associated with the liver, urinary tract and digestive tract. Valerian was once used to treat people suffering from the plague. Your cat will love Valerian too! People use to use Valerian in sort of the same way we use catnip today. Some people said that you could judge the potency of the Valerian by the reaction the cat had to the herb. In addition to being a cat attractant rats are also found of the foul smell and it was once used in rat traps. Today Valerian root is most commonly found as a sleep aid and anxiety relief supplement.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Mild analgesic
  • Mild bitter
  • Tranquilizer
  • Antispasmodic

How to Use

valerian root capsules
Valerian Root Capsules
If you're looking for a better nights sleep here's what I do; I take 2-3 Valerian root capsules in conjunction with 5mg of melatonin and it does a really good job at giving me a good nights rest. It isn't super overpowering but it helps to put me in that sleep mode and stay there all night.

Caution

While valerian is thought to be generally pretty safe there are some possible side effects that you need to be aware of. If you experience any head aches, nausea, upper stomach pain you may want to stop use. Other less severe side effects include brain fog, dry mouth, strange dreams, and drowsiness.​


Witch Hazel​

witch hazel
​Witch hazel is an interesting herb that I've only recently found out about, it has been used for centuries by the Native Americans though.  When I was researching witch hazel I assumed that it got its name for warding off witches or something, but it actually was used as a witching stick for locating underground sources of water and or precious minerals. Witch hazel might not be considered an herb by some due to the fact it is a woody shrub, but it has very strong astringent and antiseptic properties so I just had to include it in the list of herbs along with its uses. Today you can find witch hazel in pretty much any drugstore in the form of witch hazel water (an alcohol extract of the twigs). The only problem with this is that most of the time the extract contains very little of the actual herb, and most of the effects might actually come from the alcohol itself.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Helps stop bleeding
  • Astringent

How to Use

witch hazel tonic
Thayers Witch Hazel
Probably the best way to use witch hazel is to make a tonic with it. To do this you need a 1/2 lb of bark from the witch hazel tree, distilled water, and vodka. Mix the witch hazel and enough water to cover the bark by about 1-2 inches. Bring that to a boil and let it simmer for around 20 minutes with a lid on. After that remove the bark by straining it out and add half the volume of your tea in alcohol. So if you have 20 ounces of tea add 10 ounces of the alcohol. Thayers toner is also a great choice if you just want it pre-made it includes aloe vera in it as well.

Yarrow​

Yarrow herb
​Yarrow is a great herb for the herbal first aid  kit. It works good for stopping the blood flow of minor cuts its also used to heal bruises and to alleviate symptoms associated with colds, flues, and fevers. Native Americans used Yarrow calling it "life medicine" they used it to treat earaches and toothaches alike. Its said that Achilles of Greece used Yarrow to heal his soldiers during the Trojan War, in fact Yarrow's genus Achillea comes from the name Achilles. A lot of people through out the history of people have used Yarrow as sort of a standby herb and that is why I've decided to include it in our list of herbs.

​Key Medicinal Uses

  • Astringent
  • Digestive tonic
  • Strengthens blood vessels
  • Stops bleeding
  • Wound healer
  • Stimulates sweating
  • Reduces fever

How to Use

Yarrow Tea
Yarrow Tea
A great way to get the benefits of Yarrow is to ingest it as a tea, this can be used to reduce fevers, and speed recovery time of colds and flues. You can also make Yarrow into a cream or ointment that can be applied to small cuts that will slow or stop bleeding.

Caution

You shouldn't use Yarrow if you're pregnant or nursing, in some rare cases Yarrow has been shown to cause allergic reactions especially on the skin.


5 reasons to raise chickens


Chickens are often the first livestock to be added to a homestead and have been laughingly referred to as the gateway livestock. However the benefits of adding a flock of chickens to your backyard, homestead, or beginning farm, are no laughing matter. Chickens bring some serious good ju-ju with them and open the door to a number of opportunities for the sustainably-inclined.
5-reasons-to-raise-chickensfi1. Improved soil condition & fertility
For a homesteader or farmer, one of the greatest benefits (aside from egg-production) of keeping chickens is the remarkable improvement to your soil. Wherever chickens go they’re forever scratching and digging as they hunt for food, pooping as they go. The poop is then worked into the soil via that same scratching and digging. Chickens are experts at mixing manure with mulch; they’re gas-free, noise-free tillers (and the noise they do make you won’t mind!), and they do a great job of cleaning up the garden after the growing season is done.
2. Pest and disease prevention
Chickens are natural foragers: they’re always on the hunt for spiders, ticks, beetles, grubs, worms, grasshoppers, etc. They’ll keep the pest population down for your family and your livestock by grazing on weeds and insects; homesteaders and farmers can take advantage of this by rotating chickens on pasture following other livestock to control fly and parasite problems.
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You can get started with chickens without too much investment.
3. Increased self-sufficiency & sustainability
With a minimal investment in time and money, chickens allow us to operate a closed-loop system for each and every household, homestead, or farm. Through the recycling of food and yard waste, we can keep more waste out of landfills; one city in Belgium even gave their residents chickens in an effort to save money on waste disposal! Not only can we produce our own eggs─but when the chickens begin to age we can put those birds in the freezer for meat and further reduce, possibly even eliminate our dependence on the industrialized food system.

4. Knowing how your food was produced
grow-your-own-chicken
I keep my birds for 2 years as layers, then in the fall they go to freezer camp and become food to feed my family.
raise-chickens-for-egg-productionWhen you raise or grow your own food you have control over exactly what goes into producing that food. You’ll know what went into those eggs─whether it’s organic or non-GMO feed, whether those birds were kept in cages or raised on pasture─and you won’t feel guilty because you’ll know the quality of life your oven-roasted chicken had. You can raise your flock according your own specific priorities and adhere to your own unique principles in the production of your own food.
5. Income for your budding farm-business
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The sales my farm makes from egg-production pays the feed bill for all of the critters on my farm.
If you’re a beginning farmer, or even just a homesteader looking to earn a little money on the side, adding chickens to your operation is a relatively quick and easy way to generate some income. Chickens require a minimal investment since you can house them in all sorts of creative ways to cut costs on infrastructure, and they require very little of your time each day to keep the birds healthy and happy. Many folks like to start with chicks which are cute and fluffy and cost about $3/bird, but if you’re willing to spend a little more money you could get established layers and an immediate source of income.
Open the gate!
Not everyone can grow their own vegetables or raise their own livestock for eggs or meat, but for those who not only have the space and time, but also the inclination to live and work toward a more sustainable lifestyle─chickens are the ideal place to start. Chickens really are the gateway livestock for the simple reason that they are the perfect first step for the new homesteader or beginning farmer. With their low-cost set up and easy maintenance chickens allow the farmer to learn as they grow, becoming comfortable handling livestock and becoming familiar with the ebb and flow of life in tandem with animals and nature. What’s more, in addition to the farm-fresh eggs are the added benefits of soil-conditioning, a ready source of fertilizer, pest and disease prevention, and when the birds have outlived their usefulness they become food for the farmer. Chickens are a no-brainer for the backyard and homestead, and an important cog in a diversified farming operation. I say open that gate!



Chris Gagnier "Prepping: Fatima Foods"