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22 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Mountain House Turkey Tetrazzini

Anyone who is a regular reader here at Backwoods Survival Blog and has previously read my reviews of the different varieties of long-term food storage products that are currently available for purchase and stocking-up your survival pantry and supplies will, no doubt, already be aware that – with few exceptions – Mountain House brand foods are some of my absolute favorites. One of the particular dishes I have always heard good things about from others has been the Mountain House Turkey Tetrazzini, so I decided to throw my hat in the ring and give that one a try. And, I've got to say, I was mostly happy with what I found.

Just beginning the process of setting-up, which takes 8-9 minutes after adding 2 cups of boiling water

When it comes to taste, this one would have to be pretty high on my list of favorites, though there are issues to consider. Chief among those, at least for me (and this one seems to be a running theme with pretty much all of these freeze-dried pouch meals), is the fact that what you see in the picture above is listed as the manufacturer as being 2.5 servings. As you can see, I got one good-sized bowl out of making the entire pouch. Now, that's not really a dealbreaker for me, but it makes it quite a bit more expensive to stock these, and also there is the concern over the nutritional content: taking the amounts listed in the picture you see above for calories, carbohydrates, sodium, etc., one would have to multiply those numbers by 2.5, meaning you're getting a whole lot of sodium in the event you have to live on these for any extended amount of time. With respect to my weekly reviews, I just make a meal out of these and eat them for dinner one night, but I'm thinking stocking them for long-term food storage in the event of an actual survival emergency would have to involve planning on using them as part of a larger meal. I intend to use them, poured over rice. This way, you're not getting nearly as much sodium in your diet and you can actually stretch them to the listed amount of servings supposedly included in an effort to save money. YMMV.



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20 May, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Station Eleven: A Novel" by Emily St. John Mandel

Changing it up for something just a bit different this week, I will be reviewing "Station Eleven: A Novel" by Emily St. John Mandel (Kindle edition). Interestingly, this is actually a novel that does a very good job of spanning different genres… Well, that may not be 100% accurate. It isn't really that the genres are different, but rather the novel jumps back and forth in time to the before and after picture of a world ravaged by a terrible influenza pandemic. As a result, it qualifies both as Doomer Fiction as well as something more contemporary. It's definitely unique among the novels I am accustomed to reviewing for Backwoods Survival Blog, let's just say that. Personally, I would view this one as being a great candidate to recommend to anyone you or I might be attempting to entice into reading more typical disaster fiction as it would provide them with a view of the post-disaster SHTF scenario we always talk about where society has collapsed, while providing them with a bit of a softer landing in the more contemporary parts of the novel.

The novel quite literally begins with the death of a major character, who – even without living to see the state of the world post-pandemic for himself – somehow manages to touch on the lives of some of those few who do survive. The tapestry of this man's life and relationships also makes up a certain amount of the pre-pandemic story featured throughout the narrative, and his completely unrelated demise actually occurs on the same evening as the onset of the influenza outbreak in Toronto. From there, the story quickly follows a man with a peripheral professional attachment to the first, who receives advance information from a friend of his who works as a doctor at a nearby hospital ER, allowing him the time needed to stockpile as many supplies as he is able from a neighborhood grocery store and go to his brother's apartment. The two men remain barricaded there as they essentially watch the slow but steady unraveling of much of the world on TV (as long as the TV news stations continue to broadcast) and their own local area from the vantage point of high-rise windows.

The story also follows a young child who is present during the death mentioned above, fast-forwarded years into the future into a post-apocalyptic version of the Great Lakes region. She is a child who has grown up in the new world created by the terrible disease that wiped out much of humanity and tore society apart. She walks through this wasteland, a member of a traveling troupe of performers and musicians who tour the small towns and settlements that remain in a caravan of tents and old automobiles (pickup trucks now being pulled by horses) in order to perform music and Shakespearean plays in an effort to ensure the survival of art in a world turned harsh with violence.

Obviously, there's much more to the story than all of that, but I'll leave the specifics of the plot up to you to discover for yourselves. This is definitely a novel I would recommend.


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18 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "The Towering Inferno" (1974)

Of all of the Disaster Films I have reviewed here on Backwoods Survival Blog, "The Towering Inferno" (1974) Blu-ray (DVD version) is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorites. I'm a big movie guy, a Cinephile, and I'm embarrassed to say that I had actually never seen this film before screening it recently for this review. Let's just say that I am supremely glad to have corrected that oversight, because truly nobody should go without seeing this top-notch example of cinema greatness.

If you're a fan of Old Hollywood at all, then this one enjoys the very special flavor of featuring an unbelievably star-studded cast. Top billing was shared by Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, but the film also featured performances by William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Robert Wagner, Richard Chamberlain, Susan Blakely, Robert Vaugn, and even an older Fred Astaire, a much younger and less murdery O.J. Simpson, and many others, so it's kind of a must-see for that reason as well. Also, it marks the first time that two major Hollywood studios got together and joined forces to put a film together. Aside from all of that, though, it is also a supremely effective Disaster Film which should go a long way toward satisfying the particular sensibilities of those of us in the Prepper / Survivalist subculture.

As the title of the film as well as the art pictured above makes it abundantly obvious, the centerpiece of the film is a raging fire taking place in a high-rise building. The story is actually adapted from elements of two separate novels, one set in New York City and the other in an unnamed city, but the film places events securely in San Francisco, California. The setup that doesn't really spoil anything for you to know ahead of time is that it's an awfully impressive building, the first of its kind and the tallest high-rise in the world. Needless to say, they are holding a highly anticipated Gala event as a grand opening with many VIPs attending, including one of the U.S. Senators from the state of California as well as the Mayor of San Francisco among many others. It is an immense understatement to call it a big deal.

Paul Newman plays the architect who designed this monstrosity and who is finalizing plans to move to somewhere quiet in the country after all of the pomp and circumstance (of which he is a required but reluctant centerpiece) is over. Unfortunately and unbeknownst to him, subcontractors have cut corners in the construction of the building in order to bring the project back within its estimated budget, and those unauthorized changes will soon lead to a night of both tragedy and heroism.

The first few frames of the film will quickly let you know that it is dedicated to all of the firefighters of the world, and it stands as a wonderful testament to the valor displayed by those men and women on a regular basis. Their story is embodied by Steve McQueen, who plays the city Fire Department Battalion Chief tasked with fighting the inferno and saving the lives of those within the building.

Definitely check this one out! I should've watched the years ago, and I am so unbelievably happy to have finally had a chance to screen it now. If you haven't seen it already, you're in the same boat I was and you don't know what you're missing; and, even if you saw it years ago, it is definitely worth owning on Blu-ray. My own personal endorsement couldn't be more adamant.


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15 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Backpacker's Pantry Chocolate S'mores

This week's long-term food storage review is going to represent a bit of variety from the norm as I take a look at and sample Backpacker's Pantry Chocolate S'mores dessert. As you might recall, I usually concentrate mostly on meals with respect to these reviews, usually either full entrees or breakfast meals as those are obviously the most important when it comes to actually putting away food storage for years of keeping to eat in an emergency. But, while that still remains true and most of my reviews will still center on those types of meals, pretty much every expert agrees that no larder is complete without some of what we call "comfort foods" that exists largely for morale purposes. After all, a steady helping of rice and beans with the occasional freeze-dried entree will help you survive, but it will also get very, *VERY* boring after a while, so it's a good idea to have something like Backpacker's Pantry Chocolate S'mores dessert on hand to mitigate that issue.

Powdered graham crackers added

Once everything was mixed and allowed to set up properly (which took, I think, 13 minutes, if I remember correctly), the final product looked like what you see above. Very much like a big bowl of chocolate pudding with graham cracker crumbs and tiny marshmallows mixed into it. Very good! Honestly, I haven't been eating a lot of sweets lately, and it was so rich it seemed to shock my mouth a bit. This is definitely something I will be purchasing more of for my own long-term food supplies, and as such I'm comfortable recommending it to you guys out there as well.

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13 May, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Battle Lines (The Survivalist Book 5)" by Arthur Bradley

Continuing on with recent reviews, today I will be writing about "Battle Lines (The Survivalist Book 5)" by Arthur Bradley (Kindle edition). Obviously from the title, you can see that this is the fifth book in this series that has – over time – evolved into one that I really enjoy reading. You can click on the link above titled Prepper Books (or just click that link I just provided) to look at my reviews of the previous four titles in this series as well as many others. Unfortunately, book #6 in this series (which, I believe, will probably be the final one) won't be out until sometime in June, so I'll be moving on to a few others to review until I can get my hands on it.

As per usual and by way of simply giving you a bit of background, in the event you haven't read this series for any of my previous reviews, the action takes place in the southeastern United States region as well as further up the East Coast in a world where a deadly disease pandemic has killed off astronomical numbers of people, resulting in the expected collapse of society that would no doubt result from such a calamity. Worse still, a certain part of the population who were not immune to the virus actually survived, the disease having mutated them instead of killing them. This adds additional danger to the characters in the story, because not only are they operating in a world where the rule of law and order no longer exists, but they also have to deal with people who have been turned into monsters by the disease.

Enter into that setting a Deputy United States Marshal as our principal protagonist. He is, essentially, a lawman operating in a world without law, and so he is forced to dispense justice often from the barrel of a Colt M4 rifle and/or a Wilson Combat Supergrade 1911 .45 caliber handgun. In addition, however, each novel also follows a secondary plotline, which actually involves the deputy marshal's own father, who began in the first novel as an incarcerated convict being freed by a guard with whom he has struck up a friendship in the wake of society collapsing around them. This individual has a definite moral code by which he lives, and we will later learn is in prison only by virtue of killing two men in a fight who had previously victimized a female friend of his. Needless to say, he's got a temper that has landed him in prison. He ends up becoming an unlikely guardian, mentor, and surrogate father-figure to a young girl lost in the chaos of the world who has her own interesting secret to keep.

This installment follows our Deputy Marshal Mason Raines as he treks into a city devastated by an unlikely and unexpected attack in search of more breadcrumbs to further his quest begun in previous novels, fueled by a sense of vengeance, and likely to serve as the climax of the story in the final Book 6. Meanwhile, his father Tanner Raines and young Samantha find themselves forced out of the hopeful sanctuary they settled into in the final moments of the previous novel and back out onto the dangerous roads of an America collapsed into chaos and violence. Interestingly, their travels will expose them to information with a bearing on both the origin of the disease as well as some hope of a future cure and a small community of survivalists, whose ways of doing things doesn't sit well with a man like Tanner. In addition, my least favorite plotline (yet, I'll admit, one that is necessary) exposes the reader to individuals in the highest echelons of what remains of the United States government seemingly gripped by an insanity that has driven a great many of the tragedies in the series and is pushing each and every character to what will, no doubt, be a stunning climax to the overall story.

One final thing I'll say by way of a slight Spoiler is that Mason and Tanner finally do meet up near the end of this penultimate installment in the series. This is something for which I've been waiting for quite a while as these characters have operated independently yet sufficiently close to be in the same places at different times and have previous word of each other's survival. If you find yourself looking for a new series to read, I would definitely recommend this one. The novels are short and to the point, but that also gives them a certain momentum that makes for exciting reading. There are very few dull moments. Also, now would be an ideal time to catch up to me, since the final volume won't be released for over a month now.


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11 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Meteor" (1979)

The 1970s produced a series of very enjoyable disaster films, among the best of which was "Meteor" (1979) Blu-ray (DVD version). That has always been my opinion, though I'll admit part of that might simply be the result of the stellar cast, which includes the always wonderful Sean Connery, Karl Malden, Natalie Wood, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, and even a few scenes of Henry Fonda playing the President of the United States to decent affect. I remember watching this on cable growing up (I was a bit of a toddler during its actual theatrical release back in 1979) and really enjoying it. In addition to the talent of the actors involved, the film has a really exciting plot, and I have to say that it still holds up well even after all these years.

Watching it with today's eyes, the special effects may seem quite a bit outdated. Honestly, as impressive as they are at times when you remember how long ago this was, they truly don't even come anywhere near the polish of the Star Wars films, the first of which actually preceded this film by two years. Unlike Star Wars (which started out largely with a cast of unknown actors that didn't draw a big paycheck until it became a hit), however, I would imagine that a more mainstream Hollywood film like this spent a lot more of its budget on actors salaries and paying writers than it did on the special effects. And there's nothing wrong with that. The special effects are meant to be simply a backdrop to the story, rather than intensely eye-catching, and they serve their purpose well.

What moves you forward and keeps you engaged is the actual plot of the film, which essentially follows a scientist played by Sean Connery attempting to convince Cold War Era-minded military stalwarts (one of which is well played by Martin Landau) to cooperate with Russian authorities in a plan to save Earth from an approaching meteor, knocked out of its regular orbit and into a collision course with the Earth as a result of a comet strike deep within our solar system's asteroid belt. In addition to convincing those who are normally suspicious enemies to divulge guarded secrets and work together against a common threat, all those involved must also execute the plan needed to save us before it's too late.

Watching this film, it will be easy for you to see that it had to have been a huge influence on the makers of both the films "Deep Impact" and "Armageddon" in later years. Both of those later projects borrowed various plot motifs from this one, and it isn't overly difficult to understand why once you have enjoyed the experience. Imitation truly is the sincerest form of flattery, after all, and the makers of those 1990's era disaster flicks were obviously fans of this one just as I have been for many, many years.


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08 May, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Backpacker's Pantry Cajun Style Rice and Chicken

I'm not ashamed to admit that I entered into my review of Backpacker's Pantry Cajun Style Rice and Chicken with a bit of trepidation. My personal tastes run toward in joining food that is somewhat spicy, but I don't really like it at all once it gets past a certain point and gets really hot. As a result, the word "Cajun" being attached to this one worried me a bit, but I'm happy to say that I walked away with all of my taste buds firmly intact after this experience.


Not my favorite, by any stretch of the imagination, but not bad either. A bit spicy without being overwhelmingly hot. Also, as is often true with these freeze-dried pouch meals, it's a bit hit and miss with respect to serving size. What you see in this photo are the contents of the entire pouch. It is listed as being two different servings, and you could certainly stretch it by perhaps adding something like Ramen noodles or additional rice with this dish poured over it, but if it's just this, then you should count on needing the whole pouch for one adult to have a filling meal outside of rationing.




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06 May, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Madness Rules (The Survivalist Book 4)" by Arthur Bradley

Today I'll be reviewing the Doomer Fiction novel "Madness Rules (The Survivalist Book 4)" by Arthur Bradley (Kindle edition). Interestingly enough, I started reading this series several weeks ago, immediately considering it to be sufficiently entertaining, while not really thinking of it as one of my favorites. Now, as I've gotten to know the characters more intimately, I'm still probably not willing to list it as a favorite of mine, but it's definitely more than worth your time as a reader.

To bring everyone up to speed, the setting for this series is basically the American Southeast region as well as the East Coast in the aftermath of a devastating disease pandemic that has wiped-out a huge swathe of the population, resulting in a complete societal collapse, and left many survivors of the pox as genetically mutated monsters. Needless to say, it depicts a world where heroes are few and far between, but the series focuses on two of the few who remain – a Deputy United States Marshal and his own father, a man who is definitely guided by ethical principles but with a temper that has landed him in prison (he is released at the beginning of the series by a guard he has befriended). The latter of those two men spends this series looking after a young girl, whose true identity makes her a person of importance and who he has more or less adopted as a surrogate daughter, and this novel follows that oddly-matched duo as they trek into the dangerous ruins of an American city in order that she might have some of her deceased mother's belongings as a keepsake. As for his Deputy U.S. Marshal son, he has gained a reputation as a man willing to help right the wrongs being so often visited upon people, and he is enlisted to aid in the removal of a family of rogue so-called "lawmen" terrorizing a community in Kentucky.

The only thing that hasn't occurred in the series thus far has been for these different plots to intertwine and bring father and son back together, though they have had some small word of each other's passing at times. I'm sure that will likely occur in the climax of the series, but I don't know exactly how many more books there will be. I will be reviewing Book 5 next week, but it's my understanding that Book 6 won't be released until sometime in June. That gives you plenty of time to catch up with me and enjoy this very good series of Doomer Fiction novels.


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04 May, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Poseidon" (2006)

If reviewing disaster and survival fiction is the goal, only so much time can pass before one arrives at an examination of "Poseidon" (2006) Blu-ray (DVD version). This film is, of course, somewhat of a loose remake of the original classic disaster film from the 1970s, depicting the plight of individuals aboard a transatlantic luxury ocean liner and their attempts at survival when things go terribly wrong. In the end, watching this one is an enjoyable experience, though I have to say it doesn't really hold up to its predecessor.

That being said, the depth and breadth of what I *DIDN'T* like about the film really all boils down to one single damning observation: the whole endeavor was far too rushed. Unlike the original film, which ran a bit longer than this one and therefore had the time available to provide viewers with a great deal more exploration of the characters, this remake spends almost no time at all putting one in the environment of the disaster and allowing us to get to know the characters about whose survival we are supposed to care so much later. Rather, this installment goes a completely different route, jumping almost immediately into what are admittedly some very impressive visual action sequences. Despite the visually appealing nature of the presentation, however, my opinion stands firm that a longer Director's Cut of this film would probably provide a much more satisfying experience for viewers.

Still, there remained several points within the plot around which my survival-oriented mind wrapped itself, allowing for a bit of thought exercise as to what an individual caught in a similar situation might do differently to attempt survival. Be advised: the next few paragraphs will contain very mild spoilers, if you've never seen the film, so you might want to stop reading here and skip down to the final paragraph. I will put everything you might not want to read in italics to make it easier for you, and I'll also be sure to put the beginning of the final paragraph in a bold typeset. Just jump down to there if you don't want to read the next bit.  

Still with me? Okay. One particular scene comes to mind in which a few characters are attempting to escape by climbing through an empty elevator shaft. Needless to say, things go badly and it ends up with two characters hanging by a thread, one of them holding onto the legs of the other as the elevator above seems ready to crash down and kill them both. As the others are attempting to pull them both to safety, it becomes obvious that a terrible choice must be made to avoid both of them being killed. The character with the best view of the situation understands that he can only possibly save one of them, and so he tells the one guy that he has to kick the man holding onto his legs off in order to save himself. To be perfectly clear, this isn't an issue of choosing one's own survival over that of another; it's more an issue of "Let him die, so both of you don't die, because both of you aren't making it out of this." Still, though, I can't imagine that kind of logic would to do much to assuage the guilt of the guy who has to kick someone off who is begging for his help in order to save himself. In truth, however, doing so was both the logical and correct decision. He couldn't save him, and carrying on as it was would only mean both of them would be killed. Do you think you could make that choice? Could you live with the memory of it? And, if the answer is no, consider for a moment what would happen to your family/group if they lost you as a result of you hesitating over such a decision? Could they survive without you, or would you be dooming them as well?

Regarding the ending, I need to also point out that jumping from the ship into the waters of the Atlantic was a supremely stupid move, unless they had already sighted the emergency life raft within which they would soon be saved. Maybe I missed something in my screening and I'm not making any sense to you, whatsoever, but it wasn't clear to me whether or not they were jumping toward the raft or simply jumping off the ship and encountering the life raft afterward. The reason the difference is important is because standard emergency safety procedures dictate that your main goal if your boat is capsized at sea is to get yourself out of the water by climbing up on top of your wrecked vessel. Even if rescue is on the way, it could take hours for them to arrive, and immersion in water below a certain temperature is a very quick passport to hypothermia and death. When lost at sea in anything other than a tropical climate, getting out of the water as quickly as possible is a really big deal, so, unless they were going straight for the life raft all along, they would have been better off staying where they were. At least, of course, right up until they knew the ship was about to go under. At that point, it becomes immensely important to swim as far away from the wreck as possible so as not to be dragged under by the undertow created by a sinking vessel. By the way, that logic is not in effect with respect to smaller vessels, such as your average sailing yacht, as these are typically equipped with the ability to remain afloat in all but the most disastrous of scenarios, and they are too small to quickly drag you under the way a huge ocean liner most assuredly would. And, lastly, the individual firing a rescue flare before there was any indication of Coast Guard vehicles in the vicinity was a bad idea. Emergency life rafts are equipped with a couple of flares in their emergency kit, but it is not wise to waste any of them until you see or hear another ship or a helicopter approaching.

See how my mind works when I am watching a movie?

Anyway, as previously stated, I have my complaints about this film that mostly center on the fact that it feels incomplete to me. I believe the characters needed to be more deeply explored, and by doing so the filmmakers could have created far more attention in the plot. It is always easier to get into a movie about people trying to survive in any disaster setting if we have first been allowed to get to know them. That's just simple logic. That isn't enough, however, to keep me from enjoying "Poseidon" (2006) for precisely what it is: a disaster-themed action film with some absolutely stunning visual effects. Definitely worth spending 98 minutes of my life.


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01 May, 2015

Guest Post: Enjoy Gardening? Here Are Some Types of Seeds Which Grow Easily

by Christine Rudolph

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It is one of the exciting and fun hobbies that anyone can enjoy at home. It’s also very easy to start without investing a lot. Apart from that gardening also help you make your home and your yard a more refreshing place. You can get fresh vegetables that you can use in your kitchen if you make a vegetable garden. The most common problem which arises is the lack of space if you think you don’t have enough space to plant vegetables on the ground you can do this through gardening container. If you are planning to start your own garden so you have to spot the basic things. Start practicing with the small level and get some experience.

At the beginning start planting within a small plot. Ensure that the seeds you use will be heirloom or non GMO varieties. These seeds can produce continually unlike the hybrid varieties that will produce only for one season. Make sure that the seeds you use are open -pollinated. Heirloom seeds are open pollinated variety. Like heirlooms there are many other seeds which are open pollinated. Before you start gardening think what your family will need for the entire year. Another essential thing which one should focus is to protect the garden form pests. For a healthy garden it’s important to protect your garden from pest activity by using regular sprays and by regular inspection of your garden.

Following are the few basic seeds that can be used to kick start a garden:

Lettuce

It is very easy to grow and early to harvest. You can grow this with very little space, even in a container. Lettuce grows for many weeks in the mild weather of spring and fall. It grows rapidly in the full sun. Lettuce is rich in proteins, iron and calcium. In full sun lettuce grows fastest it also tolerates some shade. Lettuce does well if you give lettuce fertile, well-drained, moist soil with sufficient organic nutrients and a pH between 6.0 to 7.0. There are different varieties of lettuce like cabbage such as crisphead and iceberg and each variety is different in taste, appearance and texture.

Cucumber

Cucumber is very easy to grow. This is a warm weather vegetable. You can increase the harvest by continuous picking. Cucumbers are rich in potassium, vitamin A, C and K. In order to get successful results just plant cucumber in a section of the garden that is moist and expose to full sun. Planting cucumber requires plenty of water. It also requires compost and well-rotted manure into the soil. For planting cucumber a soil of pH 6.8 or higher is required. Even with the small space you can grow cucumber. Cucumber grows well even in small space but make sure it receives full sun light.

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Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the easiest vegetable to grow. Broccoli is rich in proteins, vitamin A and vitamin K. Broccoli is a cool weather vegetable. Planting broccoli requires full sun, plenty of water and nutrient rich soil. Make sure that your broccoli gets least 6 hours of sun daily. Fertile and well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter also play vital role. For planting broccoli, pH of soil should be between 6.0 to 7.0.

Carrot

Carrot is also very easy to grow as it grows in winter and early spring. Carrot contains high amount of beta carotene and vitamin A. There are variety of carrots such as nantes, chantenay, miniature, imperator and danvers. For planting carrots build up a raised bed by digging the soil to at least 12 inches deep. Add plenty of mature compost for better growth.

Beans

Beans have different varieties like pole beans, bush beans, kidney beans, etc. These beans are very high in fiber, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. The good time to plant beans is summer. They should be planted early in the season. The harvesting of pole beans begins and ends earlier than the bush beans. Pole beans relatively give much harvest than any other bean.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is rich in fiber, Vitamin C and Vitamin K. It yields high production but it harvests over a short period. The best time to plant cauliflower is winter season. For planting cauliflower it’s also essential to make sure that it receives at least 6 hours of the full sun daily. It also requires fertile and well-drained soil with plenty of organic matters. For planting broccoli pH of the soil should be between 6.5 to 6.8.

Barley

Barley has so many health benefits and it can be used for many purposes like feeding livestock and making beer. Barley contains high dietary fiber and magnesium. The good time for planting barley is the spring and winter. Hence, early plantation yields the best results for barley.

Corn

Corn is rich in proteins, calcium and iron. It’s easy to grow. This is a warm weather vegetable that grows well in summer season. It requires a plenty of space because it is a wind pollinated crop. Planting corn requires full sun, fertile and well-drained soil. The optimum soil pH for planting corn is 6.0 to 6.8.

Asparagus

It provides you continuous supply of harvest but initially this plant variety requires few years to get start. It may take 2 to 3 years to get started but it can produce up to 20 years. Planting asparagus requires full sun, well drained and fertilized soil. The optimum pH of the soil should be 6.5 to 7.5.

Peas

This is a winter season vegetable. It’s very easy to grow. There are many different types of pea plant like snow, shelling and sugar pod. It’s a fast growing plant. Peas are rich in protein, fibers and essential vitamins. There are different varieties of peas such as sweet peas, snow peas and snap peas. The optimum temperature for planting peas is 45 degree F.

Tomato

Tomatoes are easy to grow and the best time to plant them is the spring season. Typically, they should be planted in the late spring. They contain high amount of potassium, thiamin, niacin and vitamins like A, C, K and E. Before planting tomatoes make sure that they will receive at least 10 hours of sun light in summers.


Christine Rudolph
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30 April, 2015

Guest Post: Why Starting a Vegetable Garden Is The Best Thing You'll Do This Summer

by Gemma Hurst

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Summer is just around the corner and it's at this time of year when the days are warm and long that many people enjoy getting outdoors and tending to their gardens. Vegetable gardening is growing in popularity and whether you grow from your garden, from a window box or from a community allotment scheme, the benefits of growing your own produce are plentiful. Not only will you save money and feed your family, but it is also great for your mental and physical health and is also enjoyable and easy to get into. Here are some of the ways that growing vegetables this Spring/Summer will benefit your lifestyle, making you fit and well.

You'll eat better


Studies show that people who grow their own produce will have a healthier diet. The obvious reason for this is that you're growing your own organic fruit, vegetables and salads to eat. Root vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, zucchini and lettuce are all great starting points and are packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are vital to immune system health, good weight and the prevention of other diseases. But it goes a step beyond this in that people (particularly children) become interested about the food they're growing and eating. They are more likely to take an active interest in food, experiment with new recipes and learn about the health benefits rather than becoming stuck in a rut of bland, convenience food that lacks in nutritional value.

It's great exercise


If you spend a few hours out in the garden you'll have had quite a workout. Hauling watering cans and pushing wheelbarrows is a form of resistance training not dissimilar to lifting weights. Lawn mowing and digging weeds is great cardio and bending and stretching in order to prune plants is a good way to strengthen muscles. In short, gardening is a good form of exercise that is more gentle (and some would argue, more productive) than traditional workouts like jogging or gym sessions meaning it is ideal exercise for anyone regardless of age and ability.

It's good for mental health


As well as being a physical workout, many studies indicate that gardening can actually be a good way to keep your brain active too. Some link the repetitive yet sophisticated brain activity associated with gardening to the prevention of neurological disease such as dementia. With exercise and mood also being directly linked, the physical exertion of gardening a great way to get feel-good brain chemicals circulating throughout the body making you feel pumped up and positive. This combined with a healthy diet is a great way to maintain good mental as well as physical health and leave you feeling happy and well as healthy.

It's financially beneficial


Money worries are amongst one of the highest causes of depression, stress and low mood in the Western world, particularly during times of economic turbulence like we are currently facing. Growing your own food is a great way to eat well for less which will reduce stress and anxiety. You might think that the outlay for a vegetable garden (including tools, soil and plants) seems a lot, but consider how much you spend on shop bought food then think about just how much produce you could reap from re-flowering plants like tomatoes. Best of all, you have the satisfaction of knowing that your produce is organic and untreated by pesticides and other chemicals.

It's good for the soul


For centuries, people have considered being close to nature as a spiritual experience. The peaceful, natural environment of the garden promotes calm and the repetitive nature of gardening in this setting can be a perfect chance to unwind and contemplate. For this reason many hospitals and rehabilitation clinics offer gardening therapy to those who are ill or suffering with issues such as addiction. Vegetable gardening in particular is very rewarding and the act of planting and maintaining a crop then having an end result is a great way to boost self esteem in those who are lacking it. It can also be a very social pastime as as humans naturally thrive from interaction, it can be a good for the soul to make friends in this way.


Author's Bio:
Gemma Hurst is a freelance writer, who worked for many years in business and finance. After becoming a mother, she turned to writing to make a living and she now pens articles on as many different topics - from news and current affairs to money matters.



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29 April, 2015

PREPPER PRODUCT REVIEW: Backpacker's Pantry Shepherd's Potato Stew with Beef

So far, I've been able to keep up and settle into a nice rhythm with doing a review of a different long-term storage food each week (or some other Preppers survival gear), and this week I'll be focusing on Backpacker's Pantry Shepherd's Potato Stew with Beef. I'll also go ahead and admit, right up front, that giving this one a try has been something I've been looking forward to ever since purchasing it. Speaks to my Scots-Irish heritage, I guess. I'll also go ahead and say right now that I wasn't disappointed in any way by the experience.


And, as always, this final photo gives you a good look at the finished product as it is ready to eat. Very satisfying. Another thing that makes this particular dish awesome is that – unlike some of the others – this is one of the ones that really does provide you with enough food to make two different servings. I ate the dish you see in the photo above for dinner two nights in a row out of one mylar pouch. As always with these freeze-dried long-term storage foods, the high sodium content can be an issue, but that’s a problem that is pretty much par for the proverbial course, regardless of brand in my experience. It could definitely be a problem in an emergency situation where you were stuck living off of this kind of food, but then again such a situation would probably result in you not getting as much sodium from other sources. Probably balance out. It is an issue worth thinking about, however.


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28 April, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: "Judgment Day (The Survivalist Book 3)" by Arthur Bradley

Continuing on with a series I find myself enjoying quite a bit, today I'm going to review "Judgment Day (The Survivalist Book 3)" by Arthur Bradley (Kindle edition). Over the past several weeks, I took the time to read and review Book 1 and Book 2 in the series as well, so you might want to take a moment and look over the material there in addition to this article. Each review will contain my opinion of that particular installment in this ongoing series of post-apocalyptic Prepper Doomer Fiction novels as well as links through which you can purchase them for yourself, if you choose to do so. My recommendation is that you take the plunge. These aren't the best novels in the genre, but they are very entertaining. They are also rather short, but luckily that translates into each one being a very quick read.

Just so that we are all on the same page going forward, the setting of this series is centered within the American Southeast and East coast regions in the aftermath of a disease pandemic, which has wiped out most of the population. Needless to say, society has devolved into pretty much the exact level of chaos you would expect. The government still functions, but basically only in name and with control of only a few bases. Everybody else is pretty much on their own. The main character of the series is a Deputy United States Marshal and a secondary subplot follows the exploits of his convict father (freed from the penitentiary by a guard he had befriended as everything was effectively falling apart). Turns out, Daddy Convict isn't exactly a terrible guy, just one with a notoriously terrible temper. His prison sentence involved him killing two men in a fight, whom he had originally confronted over them hurting a lady friend of his. Anyway, the newly-released prisoner has to make his way in America's wasteland and eventually finds himself in the role of protector for a young girl whose own identity is another interesting part of the story.

This third installment in the series picks up just after the ending of the second book, and it's largely about the Deputy Marshal character chasing down a group of mercenaries who have carried out a deadly attack that resulted in the loss of many lawmen, perhaps some of the only ones left in the world. The characters in the subplot actually held a lot of interest for me when reading this book, though, as their fictional travels actually take them right up through where I live. In fact, and I won't tell you exactly which location for the sake of observing proper OPSEC, but there is one scene in particular that takes place very close by. It's rare that a novel includes a personal touch like that, so it definitely did its job to keep me interested.

Next week, I will continue to review the next book in this series. My advice is to go ahead and check it out. You won't be sorry, in my opinion.



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27 April, 2015

MOVIE REVIEW: "Soylent Green" (1973)

This week's Doomer Fiction film review represents a step back in time to take a considering look at "Soylent Green" (1973) Blu-ray (DVD version), often considered something of a classic in the science fiction genre, yet appealing for our tastes due to its depiction of a particularly dystopian future America. To be clear, we aren't talking about a Mad Max-style apocalyptic world here, but rather a future setting (50 years in the future as this film was being made) in which Mankind is on the proverbial brink as the result of serious environmental issues.

The film takes place in the year 2022 in the city of New York, the population of which has exploded to 40 million people with 20 million of those being unemployed. In fact, though it is rarely mentioned on-screen, overpopulation seems to be an issue at the heart of the world being depicted, if not truly of the story itself. The world exists in a year-round humid heatwave as a result of the "Greenhouse Effect." Water and soil pollution has decimated plant and animal life to the point where only elderly people can remember a time when you could go to the market and by real meat, eggs, or produce. Large cities such as New York act almost like ghettos. People live in deplorable conditions, even those "lucky enough" to have a job being relegated to dilapidated housing and dependence on a government ration program, so that what remains of the countryside can be maintained for food production and waste disposal. The dark side of this, however, is that being wealthy still translates to a greater share of the world's bounty then that enjoyed by the average person. "Luxuries" such as air-conditioning, real Bourbon, running water, and scented soaps are the province of the moneyed class alone. Real beef is so rare that it has become something of a black market item held back for those wealthy customers who are able to pay for it, and a small jar of strawberry preserves or jam is stated through the film's dialogue as costing $150.

The diet of the average person is, therefore, dominated by manufactured food rations that are produced by a single, powerful corporation known as Soylent and distributed by the government to impoverished crowds that often become unruly. These rations are designated as Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow (both made from vegetable concentrate) and the new product Soylent Green (reportedly made from ocean plankton), which is in high demand and – often – short supply, due to its more palatable flavor and greater nutritional content. Even with using such manufactured sources to feed people, however, food riots are still quite common. The especially poor often can do no better than buying Soylent Crumbs, the mixed leftover pieces of broken Soylent wafers in a plain plastic bag. Citizens must wait in long lines and present an identification number to receive food and water rations as well as their pay (for those "lucky enough" to be working) and any government benefits.

The actual plot of the film closely resembles a standard detective story, if not for the futuristic setting, revolving around Charlton Heston's somewhat grizzled detective character attempting to solve the mysterious murder of a wealthy and influential man. His investigation leads him into the depths of a conspiracy, the likes of which he could not have imagined. For my own tastes, I enjoyed this film more for the things that an examination of the setting and details of the plot drew me into thinking about than for the story itself, but – either way – there is definitely well enough reason to understand why this film is considered a classic. It is also the final film in which Hollywood legend Edward G Robinson appears, and is worthwhile viewing for that reason alone. He died mere days after filming wrapped for this project, having suffered a terminal illness that he kept even from those he was working with, never missing so much as an hour of work according to Charlton Heston. You don't often see that kind of dedication.



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25 April, 2015

Plagues Have Essentially Written Much of Our History

A truth that many people seem inclined either to forget or simply not to believe is that a great deal of our history has almost literally been written by pandemic illnesses, plagues. To be quite honest with you, when it comes to worrying about future threats, nothing frightens me more than the possibility of the onset of another large-scale disease pandemic. Outside of common everyday concerns, such as extreme weather (which is the most likely event most of us are going to be faced with, during which our emergency preparedness efforts will come in handy), a disease pandemic is the possible disaster that scares me the most. The reason for this is simple: it's not a matter of if it is going to happen one day, but rather when this calamitous event will befall us with the true potential to bring about a real-world societal collapse TEOTWAWKI scenario.

Sound crazy to you? It really shouldn't... because it has happened already, more than once in fact throughout history.

Examples of this are myriad, but one can easily cite The Plague of Athens, which struck that ancient Greek city-state during the second year of The Peloponnesian War, effectively guaranteeing the victory of Sparta. Just as might be expected in this day and age, the plague is believed to have entered the city through its port (where the food and supplies were brought in). Evidence taken from writings during the outbreak indicate that as many as a third of the entire population may have died. Not only did the plague change the course of a war, resulting in major geopolitical consequences in the region at that time, it also caused people to cease observing the law. Many believed they were essentially living under a death sentence, so they did as they pleased – a recipe for crime, rape, violence, and overall chaos in any population. The virulence of the disease also resulted in widespread abandonment of the ill and infirm with no one to care for them.

Source: Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

Less than 1000 years later, The Plague of Justinian struck with an effect felt throughout a wide region of the known world at that time, especially the Eastern Roman Empire and its capital in Constantinople. This disease is believed to have resulted in the deaths of between 25-50 million people over the course of multiple outbreaks, historians of the time believing it was a worldwide pandemic as a result of its extreme scope. The infrastructure of feeding the people became affected when farmers fell ill and were unable to look after their crops, resulting in a steep rise in the price of grain. In addition, there is a growing school of thought among scholars of history who believe this plague did much to assist the Anglo-Saxon conquest of Britain as the dates line up perfectly and it is likely the native Britons became infected with the disease due to regular trade relations with Gaul (modern-day France).

We also know definitively now that The Plague of Justinian is directly linked to The Black Death, which struck Europe hundreds of years later... meaning we know these pandemic disease plagues can come back around even once we think they are gone.

Further, much is also said in public school classrooms about explorers from Europe essentially conquering the Native Americans as the result of greater technology and thereby colonizing what they thought of as the New World. It took quite a long time before we were willing to be honest with ourselves, but it eventually became commonplace to also acknowledge that smallpox was basically used as a biological weapon against Native Americans. What we don't spend a lot of time talking about, however, is that the New World Europeans supposedly conquered as the result of their greater technology was all but emptied of the Native American population before they ever began serious efforts toward colonization.

Limited contact with traders from Europe as well as other geographical areas here in the Americas, resulted in the Native American population basically trading diseases around to each other in such a fashion that the population of many areas was almost completely decimated. Some estimates place the number of dead as high as 90% of the Native American population that existed in this part of the world in decades just prior to the large-scale colonization efforts of European settlers as well as stretching into the 1500s i.e. the earliest days of European settlement. Somewhere between 40-100 million Native Americans are thought to have perished during the comparatively short timespan during and following the conquest of Mexico as the result of a homegrown virus (odds are a North American mutation of something carried by Europeans). In fact, when de Soto landed in South Carolina, he was greeted by a female leader of what was left of a terribly decimated local Native American population, who informed him that an awful disease had taken a great many people and actually resulted in the failure of that culture's system of feeding themselves (a problem that we Preppers talk about often when discussing possible future threat scenarios).

When the so-called Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, they were greeted – not with a landscape full of wild, violent indigenous peoples they had to fight their way through with Christian determination, but rather – with a Massachusetts landscape devoid of 96% of its previous Native American population. In fact, the main reason Plymouth Rock was selected as the site of the settlement was because it was already a pre-existing settlement, where much of the work had already been done for them. Such a landscape stands in stark contrast to what was reported by sailors traveling up the East Coast of what is now the United States just years before, who had reported the area as being so "densely populated" with Native American peoples that you could smell the smoke from their fires burning even when still many miles out to sea. In fact, the first Europeans to actually discover the East Coast of what is now the United States were actually the Scandinavians most of us know today as Vikings, and the Native American population of the East Coast was sufficiently strong before all of these plagues that it had been successfully fighting them off and keeping a successful Viking settlement from taking hold in what they referred to as Vineland for, literally, several hundred years.

Basically, when Europeans arrived in the New World, it was like they were showing up in New York Harbor during the plot of "I Am Legend" and then saying they conquered the area because their technology was better. No doubt, of course, technology did play a large role... just not the defining role. Rather, the defining role throughout much of human history has been pandemic illness.

Prepare accordingly, my friends.


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