This is our story…


In order to offset their financial struggles, Barb and Tink have found a way to survive and minimize all of their expenses by growing their own food, bartering with neighbors and extreme budgeting with their small income.

If you have been reading this blog then you know that I have been searching for a solution to pump water from a deep well that doesn’t require 220 power. Well, here it is. I can hook the air compressor that runs this system into a small solar generator and have all the water I need or want sans the power company. Thank you Mike Adams, the Health Ranger at

I know it’s a strange thing to do, but I took a picture of my lunch. Home grown greens and radishes from seeds, hand made cheese from fresh from the udder goat milk – scrumptious! How many people who buy their food from the grocery store or vending machine are proud of their lunch?


By Rady Ananda

Urban Gardening

Fresh shows how cheap food is an illusion. CAFOs require the use of antibiotics for the crowded, mostly immobile herd to survive. This encourages the development of antibiotic-resistant super bugs. The price is paid somewhere – by the public and the environment…

Hope is found in Fresh. Diana Endicott of Kansas’ Good Natured Family Farms alliance runs a 400-acre organic and a 400-acre transition farm. She markets locally grown and raised farm products to locally owned and operated food markets.

David Ball runs one of those supermarkets. With the rise of Wal-Mart and other big box stores, he saw his family-run store dying, along with a once-thriving local farm community. Partnering with area farmers through Good Natured Family Farms, he helps to reinvigorate the local economy.

Most exciting for urbanites will be Will Allen’s Growing Power Community Food Center. He trains urbanites how to feed themselves in sustainable ways. His org (and blog) teach people how to develop sustainable community food systems that provide healthy, safe and affordable food. These alternatives are growing in popularity across the nation, as they employ more people and improve local economies. They also teach “civilized” people what we should never have forgotten: how to feed ourselves…


By Shirley Braverman

Gardening On the CheapGardening

Of course, it isn’t enough to garden. Your garden has to be economical. It has to produce ten to 100 times the amount of food you would get if you spent the money on food instead of the garden. That’s where the gardening “tricks” come in. The “special knowledge” that people absorb when they have spent their lives gardening.

So far, I have spent $20 for seeds and starter plants for my garden. I expect to harvest over $200 in tomatoes, squash (all kinds,) cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, chives, green onions and salad greens.

You can save money by harvesting your own seeds, but I mostly use hybrid seeds, so they won’t reproduce, but they grow well in the desert. I have rich soil already. I work on it all year round, but that’s another article. But whether you save or buy your seeds, mulch or buy some fertilizers, that all depends on where you live and your individual soil situations. I guarantee you that none of those things will be your greatest expense. No, your greatest gardening expense will probably be water!

Whose Water Is It Anyway?

In the South Western United States — Southern California, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and Texas, we have what they blithely call: “A water shortage.” i.e. We’re running out of water!!! That tends to make our very expensive!! Watering once a week in the winter with my drip system just to keep my shrubs and vines alive costs from 10 to 30$—depending upon the rainfall. But when the temperatures hit 110 and I need to water daily, the bill could easily go to $80 a month. Ignoring the facts that my own veggies taste better and are less likely to make me sick, without a few tricks, my garden would be a financial loss.

When I was a child, I used to watch my grandparents struggle to carry their wash water out of the basement to water their garden. Their basement, with walls four feet thick build with natural stones was warm in the winter, cool in the summer and safe against cyclones. But, alas, it had no drains.

During the summer, my grandmother would bring her little rick-a-dink washing machine up on the back patio under the elm tree to do her washing. Then she’d just attach a hose to the tub and let the water drain into the garden.

When I raised my four kids in Southern California, my washing machine was by a window, so I simply moved the drain hose to the top of the window and let it drain into a tub, with a hose connection to the bottom. The wash water drained out into my garden and since I washed at least every other day, that was sufficient. It drained naturally since the garden was lower than the tub. The tub was needed because water from washing machines often rushes out too fast for a small hose to carry and the waste water backs up in the machine. Draining into the tub solved that problem.

Grey Water Vs Toilet Water

Every home has two water systems. The sewer connected to the toilets is a closed system which runs straight to your city’s sanitation facilities to be treated These are the pipes the city always keeps digging up in Las Vegas. For a regular residential district a 3 to 4 foot diameter drainage pipe is sufficient. But then, build a six-story apartment building and the sewage could overflow. The casino hotels have toilet sewer pipes over twelve feet tall.

You mess with these sewer pipes under threat of death. February before last the Orleans Casino’s toilet sewer line was blocked. Instead of calling the company that usually dealt with these problems, and in spite of worker’s warnings and the noxious odors, a supervisor ordered two men to get into the sewer to check for blockage. Both men died almost instantly and another man who bent over to try to pull them out, got severe lung damage. That’s probably why most cities state that only plumbers can work on your drainage systems.

But the gray water system gets the waste water from your showers, your kitchen and bathroom sinks and your washing machine. This runs straight into your Street surface runoff system often called the Storm water Runoff System. It is not treated and in Las Vegas, it runs through the washes into Lake Mead. — evaporating as it goes. In your city or state, it could run straight into your rivers.

That’s why the Federal Clean Water Act forbids anyone to dump anything in this runoff system except natural urban run off. The biggest residential polluters are fertilizers and pesticide sprays. But since I use only organic soaps in my showers, sinks and washing machine (with a smattering of vinegar for the rinse,) none of this harms my garden plants. Indeed the soaps act as a lubricant and enrich the soil.

My son, the contractor, found it easy to divert his grey water into his garden. My plumber only charged me $25 and some tomatoes and squash from the garden, since crawling under my mobile home is not my strong point. It’s a rather simple procedure.

Water Wars And Water Laws

And yes, it’s against the law. But an unenforceable law. And then there’s water harvesting. That’s also against the law as Kris Holstrom of Denver, Colorado learned. 2. Every time it rains, Kris places fancifully painted 55-gallon buckets underneath the gutters of her farmhouse located on a mesa 15 miles from the resort town of Telluride. The barrels catch rain and snowmelt, which Kris uses to irrigate the small vegetable garden she and her husband maintain.

But according to the state of Colorado, the rain that falls on Holstrom’s property is not hers to keep. It should be allowed to fall to the ground and flow unimpeded into surrounding creeks and streams, the law states, to become the property of farmers, ranchers, developers and water agencies that have bought the rights to those waterways.

Kris knows about these laws since she teaches a class on water harvesting. When she called her state water department last summer they assured her harvesting was technically illegal, though it was unlikely that she would be cited.

Like Kris, I look at these laws with exasperated amusement. Environmentalist groups want to change these ridiculous water laws. And they probably will be changed as the Kitchen garden becomes more popular. Until they do, most of us, in-the-know gardeners will continue to break the law. It’s my water, I bought and paid for it and after my shower, I still want to use it. I need it to make my garden profitable. So there’s a bit of “special knowledge.” Use it if you dare.



1. Associated Press March 20, 09

2. Denver Post, March 18, 09

About the author

Shirley is 77 years young, and was a nurse for 25 years. She used to write health articles until the editors just wanted her to rave about whatever their advertisers were hawking at the time. She watches for the newly developing diseases and watches in fear as TB and MARSA spread like wildfire and no one pays attention. She saw Morgellon’s a while ago and it scared her. She has 8 grandkids and worries about them. She is starting gardening projects to help. 

By Robert Wayne Atkins, P.E.silver-dollar

A Quick Comparison of Vegetable Seeds to Silver Dollars

The small seed envelopes available for sale at hardware stores and supermarkets are generally priced between $0.97 to $1.69 per package. Each individual package usually contains somewhere between 100 mg to 3.5 g of seed, with an average of 900 mg of seeds per package. 1000 mg equals 1 gram and 1 gram equals 0.035 standard ounces. Therefore 900 mg equals approximately 0.0315 standard ounces or 0.0287 troy ounces. If the average seed package contains 900 mg of seeds and cost $0.97 then that is equivalent to $33.80 per troy ounce, which far exceeds the current market price of a one-ounce United States Silver Eagle. (Note: $0.97 / 0.0287 troy ounce = $33.80 per troy ounce.)

Therefore, in today’s normal global economy, seeds are more expensive per ounce than pure refined silver. And history has repeatedly demonstrated that during serious worldwide famine conditions, food and seeds eventually become more valuable than gold.


Basic Instructions for Saving Vegetable Seeds

  1. SEED TYPES: When you first purchase seeds you should avoid seeds“Hybrid Seeds.” Instead you should buy “Heirloom Seeds” or “Open Pollinated Seeds.” Hybrid seeds are “man-made seeds” and they are only good for ONE planting. (Note: If you plant hybrid seeds and then save the seeds from the hybrid plants that are produced, and then plant those seeds the following spring, the results will be unpredictable. The plant that grows will usually resemble one of its parents or grandparents or something in-between. It is also possible that it may produce NO fruit at all.) Heirloom seeds, on the other hand, will produce crops that yield seeds that will reproduce the same plant year after year after year as God originally intended. (Genesis 1:11 – Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth;” and it was so.) When you purchase a package of seeds, you should NOT plant ALL the seeds from the original package the first year. Instead you should save some of them for planting in future years in the event your first year’s planting efforts are not successful. You should also clearly mark exactly where you plant each type of seed with the name and variety of that seed so you can keep track of which varieties of seed do best in your climate and in your soil.
  2. DISEASE AVOIDANCE: After you have planted your seeds and the plants appear, do NOT collect seeds from a diseased plant because the disease will have infected that specific plant’s genes and all future plants grown from those seeds will be easily susceptible to that same disease.
  3. SEED SELECTION: Use the very best looking, strongest, and most productive plants in your garden for seeds. Generally, you are NOT looking for that ONE special fruit on the vine. Instead the characteristics you should look for are: early bearing of fruit, total fruit yield, fruit size and flavor and aroma, and disease resistance. Also, if applicable, late bolting to seed. Resist the urge to eat your most delectable looking vegetables. Those are the ones you want to duplicate every year in the future. After you have selected the fruits you want to keep for seed, identify them with a special marker such as a wooden stake beside the plant, or a ribbon or string loosely tied to the plant or vine. In most cases (but not all) it is important to save seeds from at least three different plants of the same variety to provide good pollination opportunities the following spring.
  4. SEED RIPENESS: Allow seeds to fully ripen before harvesting to achieve the best germination yield the following spring. The seed must be given time to store enough nourishment so it can germinate the following spring and grow into a healthy seedling.
  5. DRYING: Seeds must be dried before they are stored (between 5% to 13% moisture content, with an average of 8%). Individual seeds should be separated from one another so they can dry more evenly. Larger seeds will require more time to air dry whereas smaller seeds will require less time. Do NOT try to dry the seeds too quickly or they may shrink and crack. And do NOT dry at a temperature higher than 100°F. Indoor air drying is usually the best. However, if you live in an extremely humid area, then you may dry your seeds by placing them in the sun in front of a southern facing window for about two days. Since there is no easy inexpensive method for measuring the exact moisture content of your seeds, you will need to use your own judgment based on your personal experience. Generally the drier the seed (but NOT below 5%), the longer the seed will remain alive in storage. Based on Dr. James Harrington’s research, each additional 1% decrease in the dryness of a vegetable seed from 13% down to 5% will double its storage life, However, below 5% will normally kill the seed and above 13% will usually result in the seed not surviving the first winter. Since the home gardener does not have the expensive equipment to accurately measure the exact moisture content of a batch of seeds, the home gardener may wish to use a trial and error approach. When you first suspect that your seeds are dry enough, put half of them into paper envelopes and label the envelopes with the variety of seed and indicate how many days the seeds were dried. Continue drying the remainder of the seeds for a few more days. Then put half of those seeds into paper envelopes and label them as your second drying with the total number of drying days. After a few more days of drying put the remainder of the seeds into a paper envelope and label them as your third drying with the total number of drying days. When you test each envelope of seeds in future years, you can use this trial and error method to estimate the optimal number of drying days for each type of seed based on your climate, and your humidity, and your average normal drying conditions.
  6. STORAGE: AFTER your seeds are dry, store your seeds in a standard small paper envelope, or a paper bag, or a cloth bag in a dry, cool area. Do NOT allow the seeds to remain in direct contact with the air or they will gradually absorb moisture from the humidity in the air with the passage of time. After placing the seeds in a standard small paper envelope or cloth bag, you can store that envelope or bag inside a standard plastic freezer bag. Freezer bags are more expensive and of a higher quality than regular plastic bags. Do NOT seal your seeds inside a vacuum plastic bag without air because seeds are living organisms and they need a MINIMUM amount of air to continue their life cycle. The BEST place to store seeds is in a plastic freezer bag inside a refrigerator at a temperature between 33°F to 40°F. This will more than double the storage life of your seeds.
  7. LABELING: Clearly label each of your seed envelopes or bags using permanent ink to identify the exact variety of seed and the year the seed was harvested. Also include the number of days the seed was allowed to dry, along with any unusual weather conditions during the drying process, such as unusually humid weather or unusually warm or cold weather during the drying process.
  8. SEED BANK: Most seeds can successfully germinate for three to five years after harvesting, even if they are NOT stored in a refrigerator. Therefore, it is prudent to have your own “Seed Bank” into which you deposit approximately 10% of the seeds you harvest each year. If an unexpected disease attacks your crops one year then you will NOT be able to harvest any seeds from that year’s crops, even though you may be able to eat some or most of that year’s poor quality marginal vegetables. In this type of situation your “Seed Bank” will permit the re-establishment of the quality of your crops in future years. The seeds in your “Seed Bank” are your insurance against unpredictable future diseases that may sweep through your geographical area. They are also good insurance against an unexpected cross-pollination that produces a seed that is different than you expected. In most cases you will not become aware of this type of problem until harvest time the following fall. Once again, your “Seed Bank” will allow you to re-establish this variety the following spring using seeds saved from previous years BEFORE the problem appeared.
  9. EMERGENCY SEED RESERVE: Each spring you should gradually plant each variety of seed over an extended period of several weeks. You should NOT plant all your seeds of one variety at the same time. This reduces your risk of loss to late frosts and it provides a longer harvest period for fresh vegetables for the table. If you have seeds that are more than one year old which are NOT part of your “Seed Bank”, then your first planting the following spring should be one-half of those older seeds. If you do NOT have any two or three year old seeds, then do NOT plant more than half your previous year’s seed the following spring. Save at least half of the previous year’s seed as an “Emergency Seed Reserve” (in addition to your “Seed Bank”). Occasional late snows or an unexpected late frost can kill everything you plant at the beginning of spring. Your “Emergency Seed Reserve” will allow you to plant a second time that same year. Later during the spring or summer other problems may arise, such as heavy rains or no rains or insect damage or tornados or hurricanes, and these disasters could result in no crops to harvest in the fall. In disaster situations like these, it provides some comfort to know that you still have a reasonable amount of seed reserved for planting the following year. If you are forced to use your “Emergency Seed Reserve,” then only plant half of them and keep the rest of the seeds in reserve. Always keep at least half of your remaining seed as an “Emergency Seed Reserve” for really hard times. This means each future planting will be much smaller, but that is much better than having NOTHING to plant at all. Because of unpredictable situations such as the above, each year it would be wise to harvest at least twice the amount of seed you think you will need the following year. This strategy will also provide you with seed to share, sell, or trade and it will bring you one step closer to being an independent, resourceful human being in God’s natural order of things.
  10. PREPARING SEEDS FOR PLANTING: (Note: These suggestions are optional.) Place the seeds you wish to plant in the freezer compartment of your refrigerator for three hours. When you remove the seed from the freezer the rush of warm air will help to break its winter dormancy. Then place the individual seeds between two damp paper towels for one day in a warm area. The seed is now in an optimal condition for immediate planting.
  11. SPRING GERMINATION TEST: (Note: This step is optional.) You can test the viability of your seeds BEFORE you plant them in the ground in the spring. Use a medium-tip permanent marker to write the name of the seed and the year it was harvested on a DRY paper towel. Then dampen the paper towel and place ten seeds on one-half of the towel. Fold the towel in half so the seeds are between the two halves of the damp paper towel. Place the damp paper towel inside a plastic trash bag and put it in a warm place. You can put several damp paper towels containing different seed varieties in the same plastic trash bag. Keep the paper towels slightly damp but NOT soaking wet. Periodically check the seeds based on the average germination time for each type of seed. You can determine the “approximate” germination rate by counting the number of seeds that sprout and dividing by the original number of seeds tested. For example, if you tested 10 seeds and 8 of them sprouted, then the germination rate is 80% (8/10 x 100). You can then plant these sprouted seeds in a peat pot indoors if the outdoor weather is too cold, or you can plant them in the ground if warm weather has arrived.

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