How To DIY A Greenhouse: 9 Projects For Your Homestead


Today’s article is as green as it gets, because it’s about DIY-ing greenhouses. How do you build a greenhouse, you ask? The easy answer is: you build a house and you paint it green.

Ok, I am kidding, but today’s article is about the basics of DIY-ing your own-personal greenhouse, the types you can build, tips and tricks, and what to beware of. You know, the whole 9 yards in DIY for the self-conscious prepper. [Read more…]

How To Build A Walipini Greenhouse


We use cellars because they maintain a more constant temperature than structures that are built above-ground. We use greenhouses to extend the growing season because they hold in heat. Well what if you combined a greenhouse and a cellar? You’d have a greenhouse that would allow you to grow plants year-round. [Read more…]

Self Sufficient Greenhouse Gardening [Part 1] & [Part 2]


Self Sufficient Greenhouse

Greenhouse Gardening [Part 1]

With skyrocketing prices at the grocery store and an unstable economy, it’s no surprise people are turning back to the ways of their grandparents and great-grandparents. Self sufficiency is needed now more than ever, and a greenhouse can provide fresh, healthy food for families virtually year round. [Read more…]

Top Preserved Foods To Survive Winter

Preserved Foods To Survive Winter

Especially if you live in an area where the weather will be bad, you’ll need to stockpile enough food to get you and your family through the winter. This can be a daunting task until you do it a few times and get used to tallying in your head how much you’ll need. [Read more…]

Sustainable Living: Innovative Ways To Grow Your Own Food!


Sustainable Living: Innovative Ways To Grow Your Own Food!

The word, Hydroponic, comes from Latin and means working water. Simply put, it is the art of growing plants without soil.

When most people think of hydroponics, they think of plants grown with their roots suspended directly into water with no growing medium. This is just one type of hydroponic gardening known as N.F.T. (nutrient film technique). There are several variations of N.F.T. used around the world and it is a very popular method of growing hydroponically. What most people don’t realize is that there are countless methods and variations of hydroponic gardening. [Read more…]

Hardtack: A Simple DIY Survival Food From History

 Survival Food

Hardtack: A Simple DIY Survival Food From History

With only two ingredients and a little time you can stockpile a survival food that’s been used for centuries. Let’s take a lesson out of the history books and learn from various soldiers, sailors, and explorers throughout time. [Read more…]

Food, Gardens & Fuel; What’s yours, is ours!


Food, Gardens & Fuel; What’s yours, is ours!

Are you self sufficient?  Do you grow your own food, and sustain at least 30% of your family’s nutritional sustenance through your own permaculture or other off-grid technologies?  If so, this might be the most important article you’ll read this year.

Love him, or loathe him; in March of 2012 Obama passed Executive Order 16303 to directly target and destroy your personal liberties, and your pursuit of life and happiness.  Under the disguise of National Defense Resources Preparedness under EO 16303 Part VIII Section 801, this dictator has given himself the personal power to retain, control and confiscate the following at ANY given point, not just under an emergency:

[Read more…]

Getting Hotter or Getting Colder? Either Way You Need to Step Up Your Preps

Global-warming-or-cooling-224x300Climate change is the one subject that can polarize the guests at a dinner party in one minute flat, but what many people fail to recognize is that both scenarios require us to step up, and in some cases look in a different way, at how we prepare for the future.

  • Both warming and cooling will lead to food insecurity issues.
  • Both warming and cooling will cause a massive die off of the population due to ill health and malnutrition.
  • Both warming and cooling will require us to think carefully about how we insulate our homes: Either to keep the cold out, or to keep the heat out.
  • Both warming and cooling will affect the way our children are educated, how we earn our living and how we travel around during our everyday lives. Poor infrastructure cannot cope with extreme heat or cold on a long term basis.
  • Both warming and cooling will affect aging and ailing power grids across the western world as they fail to cope with increasing demand to either heat or cool our homes, workplaces and schools.



Preparing for two scenarios that are on the surface at least, total opposites sound like an impossiblity, especially to those new to prepping.

The key is to look at the similarities as well as the differences.

We all know that personal sustainability is the only way forward. Self-reliance and our ability to adapt and thrive in adversity are the life skills that will ensure the survival of our families. we have known for a long time that governments cannot be relied upon in even a small scale emergency. Think Katrina, Sandy, the California drought and the UK floods. The response to all of these events was the same: Far too little far too late.

Robust systems need to be developed by preppers that means they can cover as many weather eventualities as possible. there is no point trying to plant trees to shade your crop after the drought has started…equally there is no point planting trees to act as a windbreak or for firewood use just a couple of seasons before you are likely to need them.

Regardless of it getting hotter or colder you are going to need an alternate domestic fuel supply, to cook with if not too warm your home. The required amount  of alternative fuel would just be many times larger in cold weather.

Those living in apartments need to seriously think about their surrounding, will they fry or freeze in extreme weather situations? What backups are suitable for apartments? Camping stoves, maybe? Is there a balcony that could be used BBQ cooking should the grid go down? Which windows would need shading to keep the heat in and the cold out or vice versa?

The electricity will fail if extreme heat or cold pushes the system beyond its capabilities.

Growing food takes a bit more effort than throwing seeds on the ground, or into a pot, and hoping for the best. Gardening like all skills takes practice. Thought needs to be given regarding how plants can be raised in cold weather, and how they can be assisted to survive in extreme heat.

Poly tunnels are one of the cheapest options, and one inside another gives much more heat retention and frost protection than a single tunnel. If it gets hot you have two tunnels ready to be adapted to provide shade to your precious veggies.

The tunnels can be ‘dappled’ with greenhouse shading paint to provide some respite from the sun. Even fabric laid over the top during the hottest part of the day will drop the temperatures around the plants significantly. Use light coloured fabric or mylar emergency blankets as dark colours soak up the heat.

These are just a few examples, something to think about. The whole point is that if you have a solution that will work in a warming world, often flipping it points you in the right direction to finding a solution for a cooling world. the windowsill that is way too hot to put plants on when the sun is streaming though, may be the warmest one in the house when the winter sun is weak.

We have got to start thinking outside the box, and as preppers that’s something we are very good at. Having a huge supply of stored food is great for getting through a crisis, but, if that crisis is going to go on for decades, or even centuries, no amount is ever going to be enough.

Regardless of where you live and the kind of property you live in if you intend to stay where you are you have to develop robust systems that will enable you to survive the coming climate catastrophe…be it a hot one or a cold one.

Take care











How War Affects the Cash in Your Pocket and the Food on your Plate

Images-from-camera-006b-300x171I was born in 1960…yes, I know, I sound much younger! Anyway moving swiftly on…

Rationing finally ended in England in 1953, seven years before I was born, but my parents didn’t get over it quite that quickly. I grew up in a house where nothing was wasted, where there was always at least 10 pounds of sugar in the cupboard, nestling alongside tinned meats (plain nasty as I recall) a wide variety of canned fruit and enough canned soup to float a battle ship.

It was even worse down at Gran’s place in the heart of the Devon countryside. Living four miles from the nearest street light let alone shop, and living in a cottage with no running water or mains gas or electricity frugality was the order of the day.

Every bit of string was stored for future use, brown paper from packages folded and pressed in the back of the huge family Bible, and God help you if threw out a newspaper rather than cut it into the required sized sheets for future outhouse use.





Just like at home there was a cupboard so stuffed with tinned foods and home bottled jams, chutneys and pickles we could have survived for months no problems at all, and as they explained to me as I got older, that was the whole point.

My grandparents and my parents lived in fear of further food shortages…and it showed.

Without even knowing it, they were the first preppers I came into contact with, so blame them for my obsession with food security.

They remembered the times when money was short, but food was shorter still, when having money in your pocket made no difference to ordinary people. The rich could still get almost anything on the black market, but ordinary working people just couldn’t afford those prices.

For them it was a ration card. They were allocated a certain amount of almost every foodstuff, they got the card stamped when they collected that weeks portion of meat or butter or whatever, and that was it until the following week.

Even clothing was rationed the raw materials were in such short supply. I was raised on make do and mend.


As unscrupulous store owners jacked up the prices to levels unaffordable to the man in the street working people turned to barter. Those with large gardens, which was far more common then than now had two vegetable patches, one for the basic needs of the family and a second, the contents of which had been agreed upon by other gardeners as well as the owner of the plot. The idea was to not end up with three tons of carrots and no cabbages. The produce would be swapped when it was harvested, or given to others should the harvesting times not match, in the sure knowledge that you would get your ‘exchange’ veg within a couple of hours of it being dug up.





In rural areas vegetables and fruit, eggs and sometimes cheese is still ’swapped’ for produce that you don’t have. Informal gardening ‘clubs’ where who grows what is agreed in the school playground or at the local pub are incredibly common outside of the cities and for the most part it works well. I didn’t get much choice this year, as the newcomer to the island and as I will be growing in raised beds I am tasked with producing extra carrots as they do not grow well in the ground here. My reward will be some very nice plums, apples and greengages from another gardeners fruit trees, trees that I don’t have at this point.

The local greengrocer is always ready to take home grown produce that’s surplus to requirements. No money changes hands of course, but a  dozen eggs a week for an agreed amount of time always comes in handy.

War isn’t just about the death and destruction wrought by guns and bombs, though God knows there was enough of that to last many generations of lifetimes. War comes in many forms, and not all of it involves tanks and missiles. War disrupts the general scheme of things, it alters the parameters we live within in ways you wouldn’t consider.

Our just in time food supply chain for example, is vulnerable to disruption in so many ways. A cyber attack taking out the computer systems that control distribution would cause widespread panic and the storming of supermarkets.  A failure of the power grid, either due to cyber attack, a physical attack or a solar kill shot would cause mayhem in a matter of hours.

There are many ways that war can be waged against an enemy.

Even a conventional war thousands of miles away can exert an effect on the rest of us, more so if major players are involved. Markets usually fall when instability and uncertainty levels are high.  Any economic uncertainty or crisis is magnified, and recoveries are stunted. The price of essential goods start to rise, the money in your wallet buys less each week. More and more people drop below the poverty line, unable to feed their families. Unemployment rises and the state is stretched as the benefits bill increases.

The increasing costs of imported energy, as is the case with Europe getting a full 25% of it’s natural gas from Russia via Ukranian pipelines, results in fuel insecurity, which causes further price hikes. Eventually, the cycle breaks plunging people into fuel poverty.

Fuel, like food starts to be rationed. This leads to a reduction in productivity from industries considered to be non-essential. Anything produced by those companies will only be freely available until the stock holding has gone, and what is available will be sold at higher prices than usual. Once the stock levels have dropped those items will become scarce as the manufacturer works reduced hours due to reduced fuel. Workers will be laid off or face reduced hours, and with that reduced pay.

Petrol and diesel prices will rise quickly, just today oil rose 2% on the volatility in Ukraine.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of what awaits a sizable proportion of the global population in wartime conditions.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking a war half a world away won’t affect you because one way or another, it will.










Video: 4 Ways To Protect Your Plants From Frost

Since I get asked a lot about my various methods for protecting plants from frost – and get plenty of questions on my zone-pushing strategies – I figured it was time to make a video.

Obviously, if you live further north and are suffering through brutal sub-zero temperatures, some of these tips may not help you; however, they might spark some ideas on how you can grow plants outside their natural range without dragging pots in and out of your house all the time.

Thermal mass is your best friend – don’t waste the rocks, hills, walls, ponds or other features around your property that might give you a few degrees extra on freezing nights. Also don’t forget about trees and bushes: hardier species can provide cover for your less-hardy fruits and nuts, provided you place things properly. I like to balance sun exposure needs with the protection of canopy during the winter. Believe it or not, a tree covered with bare limbs still gives a decent amount of protection to the plants beneath it. For instance, you can’t grow pineapples here…. technically. Yet by the trunk of a tree, they’ll live even on nights that reach down into the teens. A tree trunk is basically a column of water inside a structure of cellulose. (Isn’t that weird? Trees are made of sugar!) Use that thermal mass to your advantage.

Good luck.










Want To Grow An Easy, Delicious and Beautiful Fruit Tree? Try a Japanese Persimmon

In Florida, everyone wants to grow citrus. In Georgia, folks just gotta have peaches. Further north, apples are king.

When I wrote a blog post at my own site on how to identify citrus greening some months back, it picked up some decent traffic. You may have never heard of “citrus greening,” but in citrus growing regions, it’s a very big deal. It may mean no orange juice in a few years. Florida has monocultured citrus for a long time and the practice is catching up to us. There have been other scares with different crops over the years.

All that to say, there are benefits to growing less-common fruit trees. If you’re in an area that has a lot of a particular type of fruit, chances are you have a lot of that particular fruit’s pests. It may make sense climatically to grow a particular fruit – there’s a reason these monoculture orchards are located where they are – but it may be hard to pull off without a lot of extra work… or spraying… or being inventive with your food forest planning.

That’s why I regularly seek out trees and plants that are lesser known. Though native persimmons are familiar to many of us, they’re a finicky thing. I love the trees and the fruit, but you have to catch them at a perfect level of ripeness or they’ll turn your mouth to cotton and give you an unpleasantly bitter experience.

Japanese persimmons aren’t like that. Well… let me step back: the “non-astringent” varieties of Japanese persimmon aren’t like that. If you want to delve deeper into the world of persimmons, learning to love the astringent varieties (both dmoestic and Asian) wouldn’t be a bad idea… but for persimmon newbies, I would recommend the classic “Fuyu” variety. The Fuyu is a honey-sweet persimmon that stores amazingly well, tastes excellent and can be eaten before it’s completely ripe, unlike the American persimmons you may have tried as a kid.

How To Grow Persimmons

2162588940_891d4c5054-252x300There are Japanese persimmon cultivars that will grow from USDA Zone 6 and warmer. If you fall into that geographical sweet spot, you’re in luck. (Check and seehere. I don’t trust the revised map since it no longer reflects real conditions in my area, leading me to believe its creation was influenced by GloboWarmThink).

Persimmon trees take a little while to really get going, so you’ll have to wait a few years for your harvest. My three trees were planted two years ago and two of them set their first fruit this spring, only to drop it in summer. I already knew this was normal for young persimmons. It’s sad to wait, but it’s better for them to put their energy into growing skyward than it is into fruiting. And I do have plenty of encouragement to be patient: around the corner from me there’s a man with multiple trees that are over a decade old… they produce baskets of fruit every fall. Good things come to those who wait.

Pests aren’t a big deal on persimmons. You may have to pick off the occasional bagworm colony but rarely is any serious damage done. These trees are tough. Your biggest problems are likely to be deer, if you suffer that particular scourge in your area. Shoot them, then serve the venison in a persimmon sauce.


I feed my young trees with a combination of different things. Sometimes I toss 10-10-10 around them during the growing season. Other times I give them chicken manure, urine, compost or a nutrient-rich mulch of chopped Tithonia diversifoliaSenna alataand whatever weeds are growing nearby. They seem to like mulching – and speaking of mulching, make sure your young trees don’t have to compete with grass for nutrients. Hoe around them or keep a good ring of mulch going to at least 2-3′ from the trunks. That will greatly increase their rate of growth and overall vitality. Grass is hungry stuff and it will outcompete the tree’s roots.

What To Do With Persimmons

Other than eating them fresh, persimmons are a great candidate for most of the home-preserving arts. Dried, they taste sweeter than sugar and can be added to trail mixes, muffins, oatmeal or whatever your heart fancies. Canning is another good way to go. Persimmon jam is easy and delicious. I don’t use a recipe when I make jams… I just boil the fruit down until it gels. If it doesn’t I throw in pectin. I know… I’m never going to make The Splendid Table that way. But I don’t care.

One final favorite: you can turn persimmons into delicious alcohol. A friend of mine tried to make wine from them and got something weird and slimy, then found that his weird and slimy beverage could be magically converted into an inspiring (and almost infinitely storable) beverage with the use of a pressure cooker, a coil of copper and a little American ingenuity.

Whatever you do with your persimmons… you won’t regret growing them. The trees are beautiful, the pests are minimal and the harvest is scrumptious.











About David Goodman

David Goodman is an amateur scientist and hard-core gardener who has grown his own food since 1984. At age five, he sprouted a bean in a Dixie cup of soil and caught the gardening bug. Soon after, his dad built an 8’ by 8’ plot for him and David hasn’t stopped growing since. David writes a regular column for Natural Awakenings magazine in North Central Florida, posts on the Mother Earth News blog, owns a nursery of hard-to-find tropical edibles ( and grows roughly 1.5 zillion plants on his one-acre homestead. In mid-2012, he launched as a place to share his ongoing experiments with tropical and temperate crops. He currently has over 20 intensive beds, multiple field plots, over 100 fruit trees, 50 chickens and ducks, and a series of ongoing experiments in-progress – all of which bring him closer each day to complete food security. David is a Christian, a husband, a father of six, a cigar-smoker and an unrepentant economics junkie. You can also read his articles on his site: Florida Survival Gardening


Growing Food in Different Climate Zones

Starting a new fruit or vegetable garden can be an exciting time, and it can be difficult to know where exactly to begin. Even experienced gardeners can find themselves overwhelmed when trying to grow food in a completely new climate. Which crops grow best? How long is the growing season? When is the last average frost date (assuming you aren’t living in a tropical zone)? These are the sorts of questions to start with. Fortunately, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has a nationwide standard of splitting the country up into 11 basic hardiness zones based on the area’s coldest average temperatures in winter. Their interactive USDA Hardiness Zone Map is therefore an excellent place to start.


Once you identify your region’s USDA climate zone, you can get a good idea of factors such as how long winters last, how cold it gets, the length of the growing season, and which food crops and can’t thrive.

The USDA hardiness definitions and map does provide a great basic framework to get you started, but keep in mind that it does have its limitations. Because hardiness is only measured by the coldest temperatures of the year, it doesn’t take other climate factors into account. Some of these can include: the amount of precipitation, humidity, maximum temperatures and soil conditions. Both the high deserts of New Mexico and much of Connecticut, for example, are USDA Zone 6a, but their climates are still completely different. If you happen to live in the western United States, for example, and you’d like a more specific climate zone map, Sunset’s detailed climate zone map takes much more into account, helping you pinpoint your area’s overall growing conditions.

Before you get planting, you should also be aware of micro-climates, which are basically mini-climate zones created by features like bodies of water, parking lots or, more likely, the walls of your home. Taking advantage of micro-climates in your garden can help ensure that you’re plantings will thrive.

For more information on your region’s growing conditions, as well as help with common pests, soil amendments and other gardening stuff, consider visiting a local nursery, botanical garden or County Extension Office.

Each USDA climate zone has its own planting schedule, and has two basic growing seasons: warm and cool. The cool growing season, perfect for growing carrots, greens and radishes, takes place every spring and fall, and sometimes winter in the warmer zones. The warm growing season, featuring tomatoes, corn and squash, gets going in late spring and lasts through early fall. Growing seasons in the sub-tropics and the tropics work a little differently, as the growing season technically lasts all year. Their planting times are generally based around annual rainfall patterns.

Below is a basic overview of the 13 USDA plant hardiness zones. Note that you can extend your growing season by utilizing micro-climates and by offering protection from the cold with row covers or cold frames.


Zones 1-2
Located in Alaska, the northern continental US and high mountains, this zone is defined by long, cold winters and a very short growing season.

Growing season: April – September
Coldest temperatures: -60 to -40F
Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, eggplant, other vegetables with short time between planting and harvest

Zones 3-4
Located in the northernmost US states and cool mountain regions, these zones enjoy a slightly warmer and longer growing season with very cold winters.

• Growing season: April – October
• Coldest temperatures: -40 to -20F
• Best plants to grow: Vine tomatoes, lettuce, kale, broccoli, asparagus, spinach, strawberries, eggplant, sweet peas, pole beans, winter squash, red and white potatoes

Zones 5-6
Encompassing much of the continental US, these planting zones stretch from Washington and Oregon, down to New Mexico, and across the midwest to New England.

• Growing season: March – October
• Coldest temperatures: -20 to 0F
• Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, corn, squash, melons, beans, strawberries, lettuce and other greens in the spring and fall

Zones 7-8
Defined by long, hot summers and mild winters, these zones cover much of the southern US, including the desert southwest and many southern states.

• Growing season: March-November
• Coldest temperatures: 0 to 20F
• Best plants to grow: Corn, tomatoes, melons, squash, collard greens, carrots, bush beans, asparagus and leafy greens during the cooler months

Zones 9-10
These sub-tropical to mild temperate growing zones cover much of the deep South, the Gulf coast, most of Florida and southern California. If protection is offered, the growing season can last throughout the year, though the occasional frost may still occur.

• Growing season: February-November
• Coldest temperatures: 20 to 40F
• Best plants to grow: Tomatoes, melons, squash, corn, peppers, yams, citrus, peaches, figs, bananas, salad greens and sweet peas during the cooler months

Zones 11-13
Found only in Hawaii and the US territory of Puerto Rico, these tropical growing zones feature a tropical climate and year-round growing season with planting times based around the wet and dry seasons.

• Growing season: Year-round
• Coldest temperatures: 40 to 70F
• Best crops to grow: kale, okinawa spinach, pole beans, passionfruit, sweet potato, red potato, cassava, pineapple, pumpkin, mango, papaya, Thai chili peppers, citrus, bananas, taro
• Crops to avoid: Any fruits requiring chill time, including berries, cherries, apples and peaches

Growing your own food is a fun, family-friendly hobby with tasty and nutritious rewards. Whether you’re a newbie trying out your first tomato plants, or a seasoned pro moving to a new state, understanding your garden’s climate zone is the first step towards planning and growing a successful, productive garden.

Find out more about food independence on Backyard Liberty.