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Friday, January 29, 2010

Choosing your Seeds for the Midnight Sun Garden.

Seeds. I think them fun and interesting as there are so many varieties of them. You can have heirloom to a hybrid types.

I know many people (especially preppers) are concerned about the differences in heirloom compared to hybrid varieties. I would say, use what works for you and your family. Reason being is that you are your own best critic. I have never really noticed a difference in the heir vs. hybrid, except when it comes to frost. The hybrids that are "manufactured" for no-kill frosting issues are ones I gravitate too. Why, well we all know in Alaska, a frost can set up even in the best of summers. And after all the hard work I put in, I do not want my seedlings or even mature crops to die due to a fluke in the weather. Other then that I usually stick with the variety of plants that I know will grow up here in the land of the Midnight Sun.

Okay, now on to seeds. If you are a newbie of Alaska and have never gardened this is a great way to start. First thing is do I buy packets or go for prepper like larger bags? If you have never gardened before, I would say go for the packets of the plants you and your family enjoy eating. If you buy packets from say a box store, look on the back of the them. If you can grow that variety of plant in Michigan, Wisconson, Montana or Minnesota you should be good for the most part. Other then relative humidity, they thrive pretty well. Also keep an eye on the soil variance, the sunlight vs. darkness, watering, and spacing. These will be key when you are looking to start your garden. You may go hog wild buying packets of seeds, which is fine. But remember, you will not be using all of them and storage is vital as to keep them dry and no mold grows.

What I recommend for starting Midnight Sun gardeners:

Carrots (smaller blunt ones for first timers), broccoli, cabbage (all varieties), califlower, beans (all varieties), peas (all varieties), kalhrobi (like a radish without the heat), radishes, squashes (most varieties), pumpkins, climbing cantalopes melons, minature watermelon, strawberries (seeds or full plants). These are the easiest to grow from personal experience. You can grow all these in mounds, raised or in bucket gardens. That will be on another blog though.

Tomatoes and peppers, now that is a touchy subject. Some people do mighty well with tomatoes and peppers. Some people have struggled. I think it depends on the variety, year and the climate. Last year, I had an over abundance of little green yellow pears, beef steak and cherry tomatoes. But even sticking them in a brown paper bag and spraying vinegar in the bag to try to make them turn red didn't work. Many of my gardening friends had the same problem. We all came to the conclusion that it was due to the weather, as it had cooled down quite a bit. Live and learn. But on the upside I had jalapeno's out the ying yang as well as hot and spicy peppers. What I will recommend, if you want to grow tomatoes or peppers, is to build a green house OR build a hot house. That will be discusses on another blog as well.

So, when you find the seeds you want to grow, make sure to always keep the packets. Reason being, is that you may need the guidance later if you haven't grown them or that variety for a few years. It is always good to keep the back of the packets! Also, buy (if you already don't have enough) a box of sandwich bags as well as a plastic tub. Here is why. Put the seeds in the bags, as it will keep the moisture out. You do NOT want moldy seeds as seeds can be expensive. Also stick the whole packet or if you prefer to cut out the information on the packet, in with the seeds. You will always know what you have and do not have to worry about mold or moisture. You can keep them organized in a small (or medium) tub. But the tub is for something else. ...

Now, as a newbie to gardening, you may think that you can just stick a seed into the ground and it will grow. You may be lucky, but sometimes those seeds take forever! In this tub, all your seeds are good in their plastic bags and can last forever. But one huge step in being successful is to FREEZE your seeds. Yes, freeze them. If you have a freezer, or if you have a friend who has a deep freeze, put your seeds in them for at least a week. Why? Well seeds need to be cooled down and in a dormant state to grow to their fullest potential. If you are a new gardener, experiment. Freeze a couple of seeds and keep a couple out. Make sure to make which ones were frozen and which ones were not frozen and keep notes. You will see a difference in why you should freeze your seeds before planting.

So, lets review real quick:

1. pick seeds your family will enjoy and eat.
2. make sure that they will grow in your regional area.
3. put seeds in containers that are water resistant and can be stored.
4. make sure to freeze them a week long, before planting.

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. :) We will also talk about saving your seeds from prior crops in another blog. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Time to grab those Moose Nuggets!!! We're making Tea!

Time to grab a bag! We are going to go look for Moose Nuggets!

Yes, you read that correctly. Moose Nuggets! Why? Well I am going to give you my AWESOME recipe for a natural fertilizer. OMG, Moose Nuggets though? Just wait till you see what else I have in it.

For gardens in Alaska, it is vital to have good nutrients for your crops especially potatoes. We have volcanic ash, we have good soil and swampy musk keg, but sometimes that can actually give to much or too little nutrients to our little seedlings.

Now, I want you all to go around your area(s) and if you see a pile of moose nuggets (moose nuggets for the cheechakos is moose dung), have a plastic bag from a grocery store and start picking them up! No, the moose nuggets won’t kill you, and in most cases it is more sanitary then dog or cat feces… in an oval and hard form. But make sure to get a full bag of them as you are going to need every spare nugget.

Now, after you get a full bag, you will need these items.

1. A homedepot/large painters bucket, clean(ed) with lid.
2. a handful of lime, your choice.
3. a handful of peat soil, your choice.
4. a handful of sand, where ever you can find some.
5. and a bottle of someone spit from chew (1 liter if possible)*

I would only do this in or around May, because it will be gross going. Be aware to wear a mask or something under your nose so you do not gag.

Take cleaned bucket and put moose nuggets on bottom. Take the lime, peat soil and sand and dump on top. Take the bottle of chew and add to the top of the lime, soil, sand mix. And last but not least… add water (from wherever) to the bucket, and just barely goes to the surface of the pile. The moose nuggets MAY FLOAT, be aware. Take a garden shovel and stir. Take the bucket lid, put some holes in the top to breathe and place on the bucket. Leave for one week.

This is an easy and fast way to have a starter compost tea, especially if you are a prepper and want to make life a little easier on yourself. After a week of “fermenting” (make sure to have your mask it may stink) add more water, I would say at least an inch from the top. When your seedlings are about two inches tall, take a bowl or whatever you would like to use to scope out the “Tea” and put it on your seedlings. Also, make sure to water them AFTER you put the “Tea” on them… as the tea is very potent and I have accidentally killed them. You will see them grow faster in a week.

Try this as an experiment this summer. If you like how it works, you have a new recipe. If not, you at least got out and enjoyed the Alaska Winter.

Next Blog… what seeds to choose? Have a great day!

*Chewing Tobacco is an excellent source of nitrogen.  It is gross as heck, but it is absolutely needed to make this tea.  Please wear gloves when handling!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Preparing for the Midnite Sun Garden: Phase 1.

Evening good Alaskans! I thought about this for a while before writing it down to see if anyone else was in the mood to garden like I am and it seems that many people, even thought this has been a very mild winter so far, are already looking forward to spring.

I guess it depends on what you are growing. 1. I don't go for world record pumpkins, so I guess this is starting early. 2. gardening takes my mind off of everything and de-stresses me. I hope it does the same for you. So, my garden this year will consist of multi variants of squash, radishes, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, a wide variety of tomatoes and other hearty veggies that I know will grow here in Alaska.

Why not corn? Well corn, come to find out, is only able to grow in the dark due to the photosynthesis via the sun. You will see at the State Fair(s), that there are very little corn cobs there and they are far smaller than around the lower 48. There are many varieties of corn but unless you have a specialized green house where you may be able to shut out as much light as possible, corn is just hard to grow.

Even though it is only January, it is time to think about the different types of plants to grow. Also, it is time to think of the soil you have around. If you have compost or are you going to use fertilizer from the store? What about Horse Manure, cricket manure or even moose nuggets? These are the types of items to think about in the coming month or so.... because being prepared is the idea for the Last Forntier.

If you have any questions, comments, or other.. please do not hesitate to use the commenting area!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Last weeks wind storm.

There is no way to be totally prepared for every situation that arises but at least planning for the minimal response does pay off.

Winters in the Mat-Su valley in Alaska are relatively mild as far as snow fall and temps go. It seems like about every ten years we get a heavy wind storm the first part of the year. Well it looks like this year was one of those years.

It started for us last Sunday, Jan 10th when I left work at 3 pm. to go home. The wind had been increasing all day and now in the evening it was gusting at around 50 mph. Daughter and grandson left around 7 pm. to go back to Ft. Richardson in Anchorage and the wind was almost a steady 50 mph. My wife and I watched a little TV. About 11pm the power went out. The wind was shaking the house by now. We went to bed. My wife woke me at 5am Monday morning when the power came back on but our gas furnace didn't come on. Mmmm not good. The motor had seized. Got out the kerosene heater and a small propane heater and fired them up.. Have three floors to heat to keep water pipes from freezing. Called the heating company at 0808 and found we were # 50 on the list... not good. Heating man shows up at 2 pm. Confirms the motor on the furnace has seized. Remove it, call in the part number... old furnace... part availability, we will see. By now the wind is up to 80 to 85 mph gusts. Repair man leaves. He calls back in an hour, still looking for parts. Decide to go and dig truck out and go to store and get some electric heaters. Make that run. Many people in the store talking about the power being out and them having to use gas stove ovens for heat. Get back to house and find the repair man has located motor and will be over tomorrow around 10 am to install. Oh well, get electric heaters set up.. one upstairs and the other down stairs. Around 10 or 11 pm the power goes out again... so much for electric heaters. Start the process of moving kerosene heater floor to floor all night. Tuesday morning, power comes on at 6 am. Looking out the window, the Jeep is buried on all 4 sides up to the windows, snow has drifted up to second story front window, snow has blown in around kitchen window piling up on sill.. TG.. not warm enough to melt yet... At 10 am the repair man shows up with new motor...ooops... motor shaft too short... repair man goes back to warehouse. He is back at 2pm with the right motor, up and running by 3pm. At 5 pm the hot water tank pressure valve opens and 44 gal of water on the floor.... does it 2 more times in the next 8 hrs... TG for shop vac! Takes most of Wednesday to vacuum the carped floor in the garage where the furnace and hot water heater are.

Needles to say it took until Thursday evening to get the Jeep unburied.. had to use pick ax to break the drifted snow up.

Just having a source of heat, kerosene heater, propane heater and warm clothes we were comfortable. The back up electric heaters were nice as long as we had electricity. For those who ask why no wood stove, unless you own the land to get your wood off from, it is very expensive to purchase. There is a land shortage here believe it or not. What the feds don't own the state does. Our retirement home will have wood backup heat.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Looking for other preppers in the Valley.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Army Survival Manual FM 21 - 76

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R -Remember Where You Are

Spot your location on your map and relate it to the surrounding terrain. This is a basic principle that you must always follow. If there are other persons with you, make sure they also know their location. Always know who in your group, vehicle, or aircraft has a map and compass. If that person is killed, you will have to get the map and compass from him. Pay close attention to where you are and to where you are going. Do not rely on others in the group to keep track of the route. Constantly orient yourself. Always try to determine, as a minimum, how your location relates to--

  • The location of enemy units and controlled areas.
  • The location of friendly units and controlled areas.
  • The location of local water sources (especially important in the desert).
  • Areas that will provide good cover and concealment.
This information will allow you to make intelligent decisions when you are in a survival and evasion situation.

V -Vanquish Fear and Panic

The greatest enemies in a combat survival and evasion situation are fear and panic. If uncontrolled, they can destroy your ability to make an intelligent decision. They may cause you to react to your feelings and imagination rather than to your situation. They can drain your energy and thereby cause other negative emotions. Previous survival and evasion training and self-confidence will enable you to vanquish fear and panic.

I -Improvise

In the United States, we have items available for all our needs. Many of these items are cheap to replace when damaged. Our easy come, easy go, easy-to-replace culture makes it unnecessary or us to improvise. This inexperience in improvisation can be an enemy in a survival situation. Learn to improvise. Take a tool designed for a specific purpose and see how many other uses you can make of it. Learn to use natural objects around you for different needs. An example is using a rock for a hammer. No matter how complete a survival kit you have with you, it will run out or wear out after a while. Your imagination must take over when your kit wears out.

V -Value Living

All of us were born kicking and fighting to live, but we have become used to the soft life. We have become creatures of comfort. We dislike inconveniences and discomforts. What happens when we are faced with a survival situation with its stresses, inconveniences, and discomforts? This is when the will to live- placing a high value on living-is vital. The experience and knowledge you have gained through life and your Army training will have a bearing on your will to live. Stubbornness, a refusal to give in to problems and obstacles that face you, will give you the mental and physical strength to endure.

A -Act Like the Natives

The natives and animals of a region have adapted to their environment. To get a feel of the area, watch how the people go about their daily routine. When and what do they eat? When, where, and how do they get their food? When and where do they go for water? What time do they usually go to bed and get up? These actions are important to you when you are trying to avoid capture. Animal life in the area can also give you clues on how to survive. Animals also require food, water, and shelter. By watching them, you can find sources of water and food.

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