Recommendations For Planting Fruit, Nut and Shade trees

Most of us think of fall as a time of winding down on gardening activities. True, there are fewer chores to do than when the spring garden was begun followed by mulching, harvesting, canning, and so on, but fall is also the preferred time for planting most fruit and nut trees.

That is unless you live where winters are severe, and it’s not practical to plant young trees in the fall. If you’re unsure about the proper time to add trees to your place, check with knowledgeable neighbors or contact your local county extension agent.

First of all, consider how much space you have before selecting your trees. If your area is small, it might be better to consider something in the dwarf range instead of planting a standard tree that may reach 20-30 feet high at maturity and be just about as wide. There are many dwarf-type fruit trees available, but most nut trees are definitely not for the small garden.

Specialty trees

Almost anyone with a garden can have a fruit tree or two as they come in all shapes and sizes. Some can be trained against a wall, wooden fence, or other flat support. This is generally done where space is limited, and the gardener wants to use the available open space for growing other things.

It is best to use dwarf varieties of fruit trees, as they are more adaptable to espaliering, the term used for this type of training. Also, a gardener needs to learn about the fine points of espalier growing and be familiar with tying branches, pinching out unwanted shoots, etc., before embarking on this aspect of gardening.

Columnar is another form of growing fruit trees in limited space. These trees grow 8-10 feet tall but only about two feet wide and, of course, can be kept smaller by pruning.

Columnar trees are grown in large containers for use on patios or for the garden. They do not have to be grown trellis style and are less trouble to raise. They’re definitely conversation pieces and, if cared for properly, will yield some delicious fruit.

If you’re wondering what to give a gardener who is somewhat restricted in his/her activities, a columnar tree would be something special.

Although specialty trees mature sooner than standard trees, do not expect fruit the first year on any of them, as they will probably not begin bearing until the third year at best, depending on the variety. Also, unless stated otherwise, you’ll need at least two different varieties for proper pollination.

As to standard size trees, there are hundreds from which to choose. Pay attention to the planting zone map for your region and see if your choice is compatible with where you live.

There’s no point in selecting a tree, no matter how much you enjoy a particular fruit, if it just can’t do well in your area. For instance, here in southwest Arkansas (Zone 8), it is useless…

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12 Foods to Never Throw Away Again Tips Tricks Busted Myths

As we all know, food prices continue to rise almost daily. Also since there has been so much flooding this spring especially in the states that most of our food is raised in I can’t see anything but higher prices for the foreseeable future.

So I thought to help us all save some money and to help everyone stop throwing out perfectly good foods, that I would offer up some tips for keeping food better, tricks for using a few stale items up, tips for renewing some foods after they get stale and bust some myths folks believe about certain foods that make them think they should throw away food that is completely fine to consume.  So here we go.

12 foods to never throw away againWhat are the 12 Foods to Never Throw Away Again?

1.  Cookies,  chips, crackers, pretzels, cereal,  bread crumbs or anything else like this that is a dry and should be crisp food.


When this type of food gets stale or if there is a lot of humidity they can lose their crispness.  While none of these are very tasty without their crunch you do not have to throw them out. Just get a sheet pan out and spread the stale item in a single layer on the sheet pan and put in a 180 degree oven for around 15 minutes.

Check for crispness and if it isn’t crisp yet leave and check in 5 minute intervals until crispness has returned. Now not only did you not throw food out but you have perfectly crisp foods back in the cupboard.  If you live in a humid climate and your oven has a pilot light you can use the oven almost like a cabinet for this type of food. That little pilot light will keep the humidity out of your foods. Just remember to remove the items before using the oven.

2. Parmesan

When you buy a chuck of Parmesan  for a recipe don’t leave the remainder of the chunk in the fridge, chances are it will mold before you need it again and it will be thrown out.


Put your Parmesan chunk in a zip lock freezer bag and keep in in the freezer. When you need some you can just take it out and grate off the amount you need. It grates really well frozen and the grated thaws almost as fast as you grate it so you don’t have to wait to use it. This way you never need to throw away old Parmesan again.

3. Butter

Butter when kept n the fridge can pick up all sorts of odd flavors from the other foods that you have in there. The best way to keep butter is take one stick at a time out of the box for the fridge or your butter bell and keep the rest in a Freezer bag in the freezer.


The freezer bag…

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How to select beautiful dining chairs durable enough for homesteading

Homesteading, or living off-grid, doesn’t have to mean that you don’t have beautiful as well as functional furniture. While it is important to choose furniture that is durable and stylish, you really need to make sure that you are getting dining chairs that will hold up against the elements. Particularly if you are not going to be using central heat or air conditioning, you’ll need furniture designed to withstand such extremes.

Here are a few other things you need to keep in mind when you select beautiful dining chairs.

Choose durable materials and construction

When most people think about beautiful dining chairs, they automatically think of carved wood dining chairs. But wood may not be the most durable material for your climate. In regions with extra humid climates, wood furniture will take in moisture from the air and swell. Eventually, it will begin to rot and crack.

However, you can get your solid wood dining chairs treated against the elements by an expert woodworker. You should be able to find someone who can treat the dining chairs for you in your local area. 

On the other hand, regions that are very dry are perfect environments for certain types of wood, particularly white fir. White fir will not only hold up well in dry climates, but it is also a natural pest repellent. 

If you really want to make sure that your furniture will last but you want dining chairs that look somewhat cozy or elegant, synthetic resin wicker is the way to go. Resin wicker dining chairs look just like rattan wicker, but their synthetic nature means that they are even more durable for any climate or environment. They can also come with beautiful upholstery that makes you feel as though you are sitting on a throne while you are dining.

Upholstery matters

Some upholstery holds moisture, so if you are in a humid climate they aren’t going to be ideal. Just about any natural fiber is going to break down under the strain of long-term exposure to moisture. Your best bet here is to get a polyester upholstery that has been scotch guarded. 

Polyester is an ideal upholstery option for homesteaders because it is extremely durable, heat and fire-resistant, and easily maintained. It also doesn’t get fabric dry rot like cotton, linen, bamboo, or rattan when exposed to humidity. Scotch guarding the cushioned seats of your dining chairs further protects them from spills and stains. 

If you are determined to have only natural materials in your homestead, consider leather dining chairs. They will last the longest on your homestead because leathers and hides have always been used in such ways. You can treat the leather, suede, or other natural fibers with scotch guarding or similar treatments to help your natural textiles last longer. This is usually done to protect furniture from spills and stains, but it also helps decrease the likelihood of the upholstery getting fabric dry rot.

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Chickens: Raising Meat Birds in a Garage, by SaraSue

I recently read that there are chicken shortages in the supply chain (specifically “chicken tenders”) and I’m not going to discuss why. I’m writing this because many people who read the blog do not have a homestead or even a large back yard and worry about supply chain shortages. I hope to give you some ideas on how you can raise your own meat birds in limited space or under restricted conditions. As I wrote this it occurred to me that I was recreating “factory farmed” chicken production. That made me sad, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

The Homeowners Association (HOA)

If you are in an HOA, read your documents carefully. If a limit on animals is not mentioned in the HOA documents, go to the city or county website and check the zoning laws for your area. Read them carefully and know your rights and restrictions. Some HOAs are very “loosey-goosey” and people do whatever they want within limits. Other HOAs are so strict that the board members walk around or drive around, patrolling the neighborhood with a notepad seeking whom they may write up for an infraction of the rules. Some have restrictions on the color, size, and placement of just about everything exterior (and interior) to the home. Your direct neighbors are your biggest threat since they have eyes and ears on your property – make an assessment of that threat. An angry neighbor can make your life miserable. You may or may not know that modern HOAs have the legal authority to foreclose on your property if you remain out of compliance. Tread forth carefully if you are in an HOA, as you will have no legal standing in court if you signed on to live in that HOA.

You may be able to raise chickens, even if you live in an HOA, but there may be a limit on the number of birds and definitely on roosters. For instance, I know a family whose HOA documents specified a limit of 3 chickens and no roosters. They had a small backyard. They ordered a coop kit and got a docile breed of chickens – Black Jersey Giants. They were faithful layers and fairly quiet. There are many docile breeds that don’t make a lot of noise, but do your own research.

As always, do your best to get out of HOA living. It is anathema to self-sufficient living. However, this is still America and if you feel that the risk is worth it, you can be creative and even raise many animals in the garage or in a portion of your home without raising suspicions or being a nuisance to others. Such animals may include rabbits, meat birds, and quail. All of which, provide protein on a plate for your family.

Meat Bird Choices

I like to purchase from McMurray Hatchery because I’m guaranteed to get healthy chicks, and can pick up at my local Post Office. Initially, I purchased baby chicks as layers…

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Ants and Rabbits – Are ants harmful to rabbits?

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While discovering ants in your rabbit’s hutch might be terrifying, in most circumstances, it’s not that big of a concern. For this article, I performed a lot of research to enhance my own personal bunny knowledge, and I’ll reveal what sorts of ants are genuinely harmful for rabbits, as well as how to get ants from a rabbit cage.

Let’s go right to the point, shall we?

Are Ants Dangerous To Rabbits?

In general, most species of ants aren’t a threat to rabbits. The vast majority of outdoor ant species aren’t dangerous to bunnies, and even those that are really don’t pose a threat to your pet’s safety. Poisonous ants and swarming ants are the two main characteristics of deadly ant species. These ants are quite rare.

Ants found in the home are not harmful and do not form swarms. 

Three of the most frequent types of ants seen inside homes are the Carpenter Ant, Odours House Ant, and Pavement Ant. There is no threat to pet rabbits from any of these ant species.

While certain ant species are known to be deadly to rabbits, the mass of the ants would just inflict discomfort and stress if they had been actually bit.

Even the Bullet Ant, which gets its name from its excruciatingly painful bite, would not endanger a rabbit.

‘Siafu, the African ant, could easily kill a rabbit,’ on the other hand (and even humans). Several of the most toxic and dangerous ants can only be found in Africa or Australia.

Red or Fire Ants, which may be observed in several regions of the world, including the United States, are the most prevalent deadly ant.

Can Fire Ants Kill Rabbits?

Several incidences of rabbits being killed by red fire ants have been recorded from around the United States and the world. As many as a thousand bites in a short amount of time is not uncommon for fire-ant-infested areas, which is why they are harmful.

Outside rabbits are the only ones at risk from these ants, although the risk is actually rather minimal. Despite the fact that fire ants are ubiquitous in the Midwest of the United States, my family has kept outside rabbits for years without incident.

Red fire ants prey on young rabbits, so keep an eye out for them.

“When they are born, newborn bunnies can’t move, are barely furred, and are coated in mucus that fire ants can detect,” Elizabeth Forys who is an environmental scientist at Eckerd College has remarked. “Rabbit mothers can’t lift their kids by the scruff of their necks and transport them. As a result, when the ants migrate in, the baby rabbits are attacked and finally eaten.”

Red ants may be seen in the video below attacking a litter of rabbits. Despite the fact that the bunnies appear to have been spared, you may want to think twice before watching this video.

It’s important to note that red fire ants aren’t merely a threat…

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Medal of Honor awarded to Captain Roger Donlon.

On December 5th, 1964, the first Medal of Honor awarded to a serviceman for action in Vietnam was presented to Captain Roger Donlon of Saugerties, New York. Captain Donlon and his Special Forces team were manning Camp Nam Dong, a mountain outpost near the borders of Laos and North Vietnam. Just before two o’clock in the morning on July 6, 1964, hordes of Viet Cong attacked the camp. He was shot in the stomach, but Donlon stuffed a handkerchief into the wound, cinched up his belt, and kept fighting. He was wounded three more times, but he continued fighting–manning a mortar, throwing grenades at the enemy, and refusing medical attention. Now 87 years old, and at last report, Donlon was living in Leavenworth, Kansas.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

Today we present another entry for Round 98 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. The photovoltaic power specialists at Quantum Harvest LLC  are providing a store-wide 10% off coupon. Depending on the model chosen, this could be worth more than $2000.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any of their one, two, or three-day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three-day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  5. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  6. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.
  7. Two sets of The Civil Defense Manual, (in two volumes) — a $193 value — kindly donated by the author, Jack Lawson.

Second Prize:

  1. A Front Sight Lifetime Diamond Membership, providing lifetime free training at any Front Sight Nevada course, with no limit on repeating classes. This prize is courtesy of a SurvivalBlog reader who prefers to be anonymous.
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, that have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).
  4. A transferable $150 FRN purchase credit from Elk Creek Company, toward the purchase of any pre-1899 antique gun. There is no paperwork required for delivery of pre-1899 guns into most states, making them the last bastion of firearms purchasing privacy!

Third Prize:

  1. Three sets each of made-in-USA regular and wide-mouth reusable canning lids. (This is a total of 300 lids and 600 gaskets.) This prize is courtesy of Harvest Guard (a $270 value)
  2. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  3. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150…

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How to keep an indoor winter herb garden

My wife loves to cook using culinary herbs, and even though she dries her herbs to have a substantial supply, nothing beats the freshly picked herbs. She keeps an indoor herb garden throughout the colder months, and I’ve decided to share her recipe for growing herbs successfully during the winter.

Culinary herbs are the perfect additional ingredient to any meal, and they can turn even the blandest food you can think of into a tasty dish. They are packed with antioxidants and are generally easy to cultivate.

If you can’t grow herbs outside all year long, it’s worth exploring your options for growing these culinary complements indoors. While some plants require a certain degree of maintenance and do not adapt well to indoor conditions, there are a few that almost anyone can grow.

The basics for your indoor herb garden

  • Light – is an essential requirement for growing healthy plants, but when you grow your plants indoors, you should ensure your plants have sufficient light, especially in winter. In general, your south or southwester facing window should be able to provide enough light for your plants to grow. The minimum direct light your herbs need is six to eight hours. If your window isn’t exposed to enough light during the day, you will need to provide lights for your plants using fluorescent lighting. Sometimes two 40-watt cool white fluorescent bulbs are enough to provide ample fluorescent light for the plants. However, the trick here is to learn how much additional light your herbs need. For example, if your window gets only six hours of natural light per day, you will need to replace the missing hours using fluorescent light. For an hour of natural light, you will have to provide two hours of artificial light. This means that you will need four additional hours of fluorescent light for the remaining two hours. Also, positioning the artificial light source should be done by considering that plants should be no farther than 15 inches from the bulbs and no closer than 6 inches. Depending on how much exposure the plants get from your light source, you might not need to rotate the pots. However, if your herbs grow with the help of only natural light, I recommend rotating the pots every three to four days so that all leaves receive enough light exposure.
  • Soil – Your culinary herbs require well-drained soil to grow and thrive. It becomes mandatory to make sure the roots of the plants do not become water-logged. While some folks prefer to buy an indoor potting mix, my wife likes to prepare the soil herself to provide the herbs with proper drainage. She goes to the garden supply center, buys sand, perlite, peat moss, and organic potting soil, and mixes these ingredients equally. Also, I recommend avoiding buying plastic pots and sticking with porous clay pots since these promote better drainage and circulation.
  • Water – The watering needs…

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5 Benefits of Screening Tenants & Using A Scoring System

It can be challenging to find high-quality tenants, but with the help of tenant screening and a tenant scoring system, you can start attracting the best applicants. 

Tenant screening systems can tell you which candidates will be good tenants, and which are risky. To get a complete picture of each applicant, you’ll want to check their criminal history, credit score, and previous evictions, plus verify their income and talk to their references. 

It may sound like it takes a lot of time and effort to get all this information, but property management software makes it easy. 

Here are the top five benefits of a tenant screening and scoring system. 

Avoid Legal Trouble

The Fair Housing Act and local housing laws mandate that you use the same screening process for everyone. Not having a solid tenant screening process may force you to adopt a “first-come, first-serve” model to avoid running afoul of the law. 

Clearly, this is not ideal. You don’t want to fill your units with just anyone. Tenant screening and scoring gives you the ability to fill your units with tenants that meet your standards, as set forth in your tenant scoring system. If challenged, you can prove you weren’t discriminatory by showing exactly why you denied their application.

Be aware of state and local laws, however. Some states have placed restrictions on using an applicant’s criminal history, rental history, and credit score to deny them housing. Talk to a real estate attorney in your area for more information.

Systematically Organize Applicants

Every landlord wants more high-quality applicants for their unoccupied units. However, the more applicants you receive, the more difficult it is to identify the best applicant. 

Using tenant screening and a scoring system, you can see which applicants would make great tenants and organize them based on their resident scores. This score is a cumulative grade based on all the factors previously mentioned—criminal history, credit check, and so forth. Therefore, the applicant with the best score will most likely be the best tenant.

Avoid Evictions

There is nothing worse than finding an applicant, getting the lease signed, and having them move in, only to find out that they are a destructive tenant who doesn’t pay their rent. 

Unfortunately, landlords are often pushed to the point where legal action is required to force the tenant out of the unit. And the time and legal costs needed to evict a tenant add up quickly. 

With tenant screening, you can minimize the risk by seeing their financial and eviction history and filtering out all the bad candidates. This has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in court costs and lawyer fees, not to mention all the hours of your time that the eviction process eats up.

Dodge Low-Quality Tenants

Evictions aside, there are several reasons to weed out low-quality applicants, including late rent payments, property destruction, broken leases, and so on. Renting to tenants with a history of these problems will open you up to a variety of issues that consume your time and money. 

A scoring system and tenant screening can help…

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Can Rabbits Mate Through A Cage Or Fence?

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Unneutered rabbits of different sex are likely to be kept separated as much as able to prevent the creation of babies. However, many owners prefer keeping their rabbits in separate cages, therefore they wonder if rabbits can mate across a fence or cage.

Rabbits can breed through a cage, although it’s unlikely they’ll be able to successfully mate through a fence. Be sure to keep the cages a few inches apart in order to avoid unwanted contact between them. When your rabbits are attempting to mate, you may see them claw, bite, or gnaw their way through their cages.

There is a concern with rabbits since they are extremely prolific and may reproduce rapidly. As far as we can determine, the rumor that they’re known for “breeding like rabbits” is true. Rabbit mating as well as how to tell if your doe is pregnant will be covered in this article, so join us.

Can Rabbits Mate Through A Fence Or Cage?

Putting the rabbits next to each other in separate cages increases the likelihood that they’ll try to find a way into each other’s homes. Those critters are quite tenacious.

When bunnies are able to breed, there is a high probability that they’ll be successful in doing just that. In most situations, 95% of mated rabbits will get pregnant on their first try. More than that, rabbits are quite strict about the length of time they spend between pregnancies.

Babies don’t come every few months or even every year for us humans. In contrast, rabbits may produce up to 12 liters in a calendar year! Even after giving birth, they are able to get pregnant right away again. Breeders should avoid mating their rabbits at this rate since it might put a lot of stress on the females.

A male and female rabbit should not be kept together unless you plan on becoming the happy owner of many more bunnies. Each rabbit must be kept in a separate cage to prevent them from mating until you are ready.

Additional considerations include separating the cages from each other and making sure the cages are separated by a couple of inches. This will prevent them from mating through the cage and giving you a surprise litter.

How To Tell If A Rabbit Is Pregnant

In the event that your rabbits mate through the confines of a cage or fence, there is the possibility that your doe might conceive if they are in close proximity to each other. However, because bunnies are only pregnant for 30 to 31 days, it might be difficult to discern if they are pregnant. Owners of bunnies are frequently surprised to learn that their mother is pregnant until after their pet has given birth to a brood of little ones.

There are, however, a few things you may check for to see whether your rabbit is pregnant. An ultrasound is the best way to detect if your rabbits are pregnant when they’ve been…

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