The Best Landscaping Upgrades that Add Value to Your Home

While the bulk of your home’s value comes from within, there is additional value that can be found around your yard.  Everything from the state of your lawn to the stones on your walkway can change the value of your home for better or for worse.  Landscaping plays a huge role in your home’s curb appeal and is truly the first feature that will either draw in potential homebuyers or deter them.  Here are three landscaping upgrades that will add value to your home.

Maintenance Free Garden Beds

Maintenance Free Garden Beds

Everyone loves the look of a sprawling flower garden complete with freshly trimmed hedges and pristinely manicured rows of endless blooming flowers.  However, few people are willing to put in the hours of work that maintaining a massive and intricate flower garden requires.  Most homebuyers are searching for a small to medium landscaped area with easy to care for plants and flowers.

Luckily this is a very easy project that most homeowners can tackle on their own.  First, choose an area that needs a bit of color and is easily spotted from the road.  This could be the area around your front porch, along your walkway, or around the base of a tree in your front yard.  When you have found the right spot you’ll need to remove the top layer of grass and then lay down a weed barrier.  Now it’s time to add plants and flowers.  Choose hardy, easy to care for perennials that are drought and disease tolerant.

Start with small bushes that keep their foliage during the winter.  Dwarf evergreen and boxwoods are popular choices among homeowners.  Next add in perennial flowers.  Colorful flowers can brighten the area around any house and are so popular among homebuyers that over 67% of realtors recommend homeowners plant them before selling their home.  Popular full sun varieties are marigolds, daisies, coneflowers, and daylilies.  Plant your perennials in drifts of three or five to create a large grouping of a single color.  Choose two or three colors to add variety to your garden.

From there you’ll need to add a garden border.  Popular options are natural stone and brick.  These should be placed around the entire landscape border to create a barrier between the grass and the garden.  Finally, cover the entire landscaped area in a layer of mulch.  This is a very important step that should not be overlooked.  A fresh layer of mulch can add $1,749 to your home’s value at resale.  To cash in on this easy landscaping addition spread mulch evenly throughout your garden area so that it covers the entirety of the area but does not become mounded around your plants.

Grow Greener Grass

Grow Greener Grass

Yes, everyone has a lawn but not every homeowner has a lawn that can attract buyers and add value to their home.  A freshly cut well manicured lawn that has been trimmed, fertilized, and is free of weeds will…

Continue reading here

My Droll: Inside The App Minnesota Police Use Collect Data On Journalists At Protests

“This kind of informal multi-agency coordination encourages “policy shopping,” where the agency with the least restrictive privacy rules can perform surveillance that other agencies wouldn’t be able to,” says Jake Wiener, a fellow at the Electronic Privacy Information Center and an expert on fusion centers and protest surveillance. “That means overall more surveillance, less oversight, and more risk of harassment or political arrests.” Further, Intrepid could provide “a forum where many agencies can contribute, but no agency is responsible for oversight and auditing,” making it “ripe for abuse.” 

Read more here.

Continue reading

Attract Birds, Wow Neighbors & Brighten Your Bouquets With A Mixed Sunflower Garden

It seems as if there are as many reasons to grow sunflowers as there are different types to try. Sunflowers can produce loads of nutritious pollen and seeds to support area insects and wildlife. The impossibly tall kinds can serve as living trellises for vining beans, morning glories and more. And some of the smaller, branching types make eye-popping additions to cut-flower bouquets.

No matter why you might want to grow your own sunflowers, you’ll need a garden spot that gets plenty of sun. If you have the space, you could easily fill a half-acre field with the nodding, cheerful flowers. But, thanks to some of the dwarf varieties now available, you could grow just a couple of the beauties on a small-but-sunny balcony instead.

Novelty Varieties

Recently, I’ve been experimenting with rare and novelty varieties to see just how tall my sunflowers can grow. Got room to spread out? (And maybe some kiddos or neighbors you’d like to delight?)

In that case, you might want to try some of these.

Mammoth Grey Stripe and Mongolian Giant are available in most garden centers and big box stores. Both can produce monster-sized seeds on flower heads that are more than a foot wide. While Mammoth Grey Stripe typically reaches 10 to 12 feet tall, I’ve had Mongolian Giants grow even taller. Although each of these will develop extra-thick trunks to support their heavy heads, you may need to offer additional support.

I’ve also had great luck with two other extra-tall varieties—Skyscraper and Eiffel Tower. I ordered both of these through the Seed Savers Exchange. There, participating gardeners share their open-pollinated and heirloom seeds via this online community.

Subscribe now

Although Exchange participation was once reserved for Seed Savers Exchange members, it’s now open to the public.

At minimum, Skyscraper can reach 12 feet. But in rich soil—and with a little support as needed—it can zoom beyond that. Skyscraper produces multiple branches of 12- to 14-inch-wide flowers. As for Eiffel Tower, it’s a rarer variety hailing from the United Kingdom. In the right conditions, it can grow up to 18 feet tall.

If that’s a little too tall for you, you might want to try the more diminutive Tall Orange Sunflower. Mine were just over 5 feet high with fluffy, doubled blooms.

Read more: Pretty up your plate with some garden-grown edible flowers!

Helping Birds & Bees

I offer area birds black oil sunflower seed well into spring and sometimes find volunteer sunflowers growing beneath the feeder. I’ve successfully transplanted many of these, and the birds flock to the resulting seed heads in mid- to late summer.

If you hope to attract butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects, you’ll want to plant sunflowers which offer plenty of pollen. (Be aware that some hybrid varieties do not produce pollen. There’s a whole class of “pollenless” sunflowers, in fact.)

The Lemon Queen Sunflower is one reliable nectar-and-pollen-producer that’s attractive…

Continue reading here

Comfrey Healing Compress – The Homestead Survival


[]Comfrey has a lot of names that the old timers called it and bone knit is one of those names. Watch how to make Comfrey healing compress which can help to heal bones.

=30&&(alS!=34&&alS!=35)){ins.dataset.adFormat=’auto’;}else{’px’;} container.appendChild(ins);(adsbygoogle=window.adsbygoogle||[]).push({});window.ezoSTPixelAdd(slotId,’stat_source_id’,44);window.ezoSTPixelAdd(slotId,’adsensetype’,2);var lo=new MutationObserver(window.ezaslEvent);lo.observe(document.getElementById(slotId+’-asloaded’),{attributes:true});]]>[]More and more people these days have been turning to more holistic approaches to the health and wellness of their families. Of course, this is nothing new for homesteaders and the people who live a frugal lifestyle.

[]Being able to make most everything in an all-natural way is usually much cheaper, but it is also a much more healthy way to live. This video was designed to show the viewer a way to heal a broken bone using a comfrey compress.

[]This tutorial for making comfrey healing compress is from, Homesteading Family and is currently available for all of the visitors to the website. Comfrey can also be made in to salves for burns and rashes as it heals both externally and internally.

[]The presenter on video did an amazing job going into great detail explaining the healing benefits of the compress and then explained all of the things you will need to have in order to prepare one for yourself.

[]Benefits of watching the video Homemade Remedies: Comfrey Healing Compress

[]Discover the amazing healing properties of a comfrey compress and how to use it.
On the video it show all of the necessary ingredients and other things that are needed to be used.

[]The presenter goes into great detail demonstrating all of the necessary steps that you will need to follow in order to prepare the compress.
The video is the perfect medium to be used in order for the presenter to be able to convey all of the information.


Ezoicreport this ad

Continue reading here

10 Household Items You Need To Stock Up On Before The Upcoming Great Depression

Most people would probably name the great depression of the 1930s as the largest example of a worldwide economic crisis in US history. But did you know that there have been over 48 total recessions in United States history?

As we all know, history tends to repeat itself. With these numbers on display, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” the next major worldwide economic crisis will happen.

If the next big economic collapse is anything like the great depression was, international trade will fall, unemployment will rise, food and work will become scarce, and most folks today won’t know what hit them.

What’s more, some of these things have already started happening.

Related: 10 Expenses You Need to Cut Now for the Upcoming Economic Depression

Knowing this, it is in the best interest of preppers like us to do what we can to prepare for it – including stocking up on essential household items before the next great depression.

If we look to the past for what our great grandparents did to survive such harsh times, we can learn from their example and stand better prepared.

Since the recurrence of a great depression that could impact the entire world is almost certainly on the horizon, there are a few household items you would be wise to stock up on before the next major economic crisis hits.


10 Household Items You Need To Stock Up On Before The Upcoming Great DepressionIn a worldwide SHTF crisis, it is said that dehydration will be the first major killer. Next to dehydration, infection is the second most dangerous threat.

This is why if you don’t already have a few gallons of this stuff under a sink or in your bugout bag, you should start to stock up now.

Bleach has a wide range of uses in survival situations and would be a great item to have in your prepper stockpile or bug-out bag.

Related: Disinfect Huge Amounts Of Water With This Common Household Item

It can help disinfect surfaces to prevent the spread of disease and infection, repel some types of pests, and more.

Plus, when using bleach, a little goes a long way. So if you’re reasonably stocked up on bleach you typically don’t need to worry about running out for at least several months per bottle.

Needles and Thread

10 Household Items You Need To Stock Up On Before The Upcoming Great DepressionFinding quality fabric and buying clothes made to last has become more difficult and more expensive throughout the years. During an upcoming depression, though, it would be a smart move to invest in a few clothing items made of long-lasting materials such as leather, canvas, or other strong and durable fabric types.

Clothes that will last a long time are important, however, knowing how to fix rips and holes in the clothes you already own is even better.

Knowing how to repair clothing…

Continue reading

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on Privacy and Transparency

By Sara Geoghegan, EPIC Law Fellow

This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee conducted confirmation hearings for the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve as the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The hearings featured two days of questioning of Judge Jackson along with expert testimony and statements by Committee members (day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4). On Monday, EPIC submitted a letter to the Committee urging senators to question Judge Jackson about key privacy and open government issues she is likely to confront as a justice, including the application of the Freedom of Information Act, Article III standing, and the interaction of the Fourth Amendment and emerging technologies. As a supplement to that letter, we provide the following overview of Judge Jackson’s background, her relevant rulings as a judge, and additional details about her confirmation process.

EPIC’s Interest

EPIC regularly files amicus briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court, and EPIC routinely shares its views with the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding nominees to the Supreme Court, including Justice BarrettJustice KavanaughJustice GorsuchJustice KaganJustice SotomayorJustice Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts.

Although EPIC takes no position for or against a judicial nominee, we urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to scrutinize Judge Jackson’s views on government transparency and the withholding of information from the public by federal agencies; on the respective roles of Congress and the judiciary in deciding which rights—including privacy rights—may be vindicated in federal court; and on the meaning and enforceability of the Fourth Amendment in view of ongoing developments in technology and the law.

Judge Jackson’s Background

On February 25, 2022, President Joe Biden nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace Justice Stephen Breyer as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Judge Jackson was born in Washington, D.C. and later moved to Miami, FL. The daughter of public school teachers, she attended schools in the Miami-Dade Public School System. While in preschool, Judge Jackson sat “next to her father in their apartment as he tackled his law school homework—reading cases and preparing for Socratic questioning—while she undertook her preschool homework—coloring books.” Judge Jackson graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University before graduating cum laude from Harvard Law school, where she was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Since her law school graduation, Judge Jackson has served many different roles in the U.S. legal system. She held three clerkships after law school graduation, including a clerkship for Justice Stephen Breyer. She worked as a federal public defender and would be the first former federal public defender to serve on the Supreme Court if confirmed. Judge Jackson later served as the Vice Chair of the U.S. Sentencing Commission from 2010 2014. Judge Jackson was confirmed to serve as judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in 2013, a role which she fulfilled until her confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the…

Continue reading

Wood Gasification Explained To Replace Gasoline


[]Midwest Permaculture website shares how wood can be transformed and be piped directly into an internal combustion engine as a fuel substitute for gasoline.

[]Gasification is a process that converts biomass- or fossil fuel-based carbonaceous materials into gases, including as the largest fractions: nitrogen (N2), carbon monoxide (CO), hydrogen (H2), and carbon dioxide (CO2). This is achieved by reacting the feedstock material at high temperatures (typically >700 °C), without combustion, via controlling the amount of oxygen and/or steam present in the reaction.midwestpermaculture.midwestpermaculture.


  • Running trucks, tractors and other vehicles and machinery
  • Generating heat and electricity in the winter for greenhouses and homes
  • Being able to harvest the energy from sunlight stored in woody plants, from our own land
  • Using the waste product, biochar, to increase the fertility of our gardens and food forests which will also be pulling excess Co2 out of the atmosphere and locking it up

Why use wood?

[]Wood is the ideal fuel for rural heating in Maine, especially if you own a woodlot. Firewood harvests are an opportunity to improve the forest when you remove dead, dying, diseased and poorly formed trees. This enables residual trees to grow faster, produce more oxygen and use more CO2 greenhouse gases.

[]If you are a gardener, wood ash adds calcium, potassium, other nutrients and bio-char to the soil. BUT make sure to apply these only after and according to recommendations of a soil test, as wood ashes can raise the soil pH quickly and excessively).

[]Buying wood from a local supplier is also far better than buying pellets from afar and minimizes consumption of motor fuels. It also provides local employment and keeps money in the local economy.


=30&&(alS!=34&&alS!=35)){ins.dataset.adFormat=’auto’;}else{’px’;} container.appendChild(ins);(adsbygoogle=window.adsbygoogle||[]).push({});window.ezoSTPixelAdd(slotId,’stat_source_id’,44);window.ezoSTPixelAdd(slotId,’adsensetype’,2);var lo=new MutationObserver(window.ezaslEvent);lo.observe(document.getElementById(slotId+’-asloaded’),{attributes:true});]]>=30&&(alS!=34&&alS!=35)){ins.dataset.adFormat=’auto’;}else{’px’;} container.appendChild(ins);(adsbygoogle=window.adsbygoogle||[]).push({});window.ezoSTPixelAdd(slotId,’stat_source_id’,44);window.ezoSTPixelAdd(slotId,’adsensetype’,2);var lo=new MutationObserver(window.ezaslEvent);lo.observe(document.getElementById(slotId+’-asloaded’),{attributes:true});]]>

More reading and sources:

Ezoicreport this ad

Continue reading here

Add Some Grain Crops To Your Homestead Garden

Have you ever wondered about growing grain but were discouraged by visions of combines and gravity wagons? Don’t be. Though typically produced by large-scale field production, grain crops can be grown successfully on a much smaller scale.

The key is identifying the right crop(s) for your homestead.

A Grain, By Any Other Name

Cereal grain crops are members of the grass (Poaceae) family that are cultivated for their seed in large quantities as dietary staples. These dry grains include corn, wheat, rice, sorghum and more. However, other seed crops of similar importance aren’t members of the grass family. 

Pulses (also dry beans or dry grain legumes) are bean (Fabaceae) family members and include cowpeas, favas, garbanzos, soybeans and numerous others.

You’ll also find grain crops termed pseudocereals or broadleafs. The three principle ones are buckwheat (family Polygonaceae), quinoa and amaranth (the latter two both of the Amaranthaceae family). 

Though not strict cereal grains, the value of these two groups as foodstuffs and as plants that fill agricultural niches different from those of the true grains are why they’re certainly deserving of attention on the homestead and are included here.

Subscribe now
grain cropsJennifer Princ/Shutterstock

Why Try?

Grains produce some of the greatest quantities of calories and protein possible in the garden. Grains (except corn) will withstand low soil fertility levels better than vegetables. This is valuable if it allows you to successfully produce foodstuffs while working to improve the quality of your soil.

At the same time, they’ll improve your quality of eating. Freshly ground grain is a truly superior product. 

Different grains have various agricultural benefits to their characters. Pulses will add nitrogen to the soil. True cereals return much of what they took from the soil to it as soil-building biomass.

Another important aspect of grains is they can feed your livestock as well as your family, and not just with their seed. Corn and sorghum leaves are frequently used as cattle fodder. 

Additionally, grain storability matters. While other harvests from the homestead need suitably preservation (via canning, dehydrating, etc.), you can store properly harvested grain simply for a comparatively long time.

Finally, there are many situations when grain crops need not replace produce production on your homestead. Rather, you can use them to complement and enhance it. 

Utilizing intercropping—corn, beans and squash, for example—and double cropping (following an early vegetable crop with pulses or buckwheat; planting a late summer vegetable after you have harvested overwintered barley, rye or wheat; etc.) are excellent ways to add yield to each square foot and variety to your overall harvest. 

Read more: Ancient grains and sourdough fuel the farm at Blue Truck Bread.


The Whole (Grain) Picture

Let’s start at the beginning. You will hear that grain crops can be broadcast planted. But for the homestead, you’ll want neat rows. 

Weed control, intercropping, harvesting—many aspects of grain production are made easier when you…

Continue reading

From Field to Tree: How To Make A Gourd Birdhouse

I left last season’s bumper crop of birdhouse gourds out in the field to cure. Periodically, I ventured into the cold to turn each one, affording them equal exposure to the elements and the sun. With every freeze and thaw, more of their outer skins sloughed away.

As they naturally dried, they also became much more lightweight.

Before I knew it, they were ready to bring inside for their next transformation. In just a few steps, some of these gourds would be ready to house area birds. Whether you’ve grown your own supply or you get gourds from another grower, you can follow these instructions to turn a birdhouse gourd into a proper birdhouse.

The Right Gourd for a Birdhouse

The typical birdhouse (or bottle) gourd has a small top chamber and a larger bottom chamber. These two chambers are joined together by a narrow “neck.” For best results, you should choose a birdhouse gourd with a bottom chamber that’s at least 8 to 10 inches wide. (This is the section of your gourd that will accommodate nesting birds and their young.)

Your gourd should also be completely dried and cured. In other words? Its water content has had time to evaporate completely. The gourd’s outer layers of skin also should have fallen away to reveal its hard, inner shell.

Read more: Grow your own gourds for variety in the garden!

Subscribe now

Getting Started

If your gourd still has some of its exterior layers, you’ll need to remove these and carefully clean your gourd. Although Mother Nature did most of my cleaning work for me, I lightly scrubbed the surface of the gourd with dampened steel wool. (See image Step 1 in the image below.)

This removes any residual flaky patches and can help to even out very dark spots.

In my case, I happen to like a natural-looking birdhouse—dark splotches and all. But you can lighten surface stains by sanding them with fine-grit sandpaper. Laying your gourd out in bright sunlight will also serve to sun-bleach its exterior.

gourd birdhouse

The Hole Story

In part, the size of the entrance hole in your gourd birdhouse dictates which types of cavity-nesting birds come calling. Hoping to attract black-capped chickadees, I used a 1 1/4-inch drill bit. (Many wrens also like this size.)

Want to attract purple martins or swallows? They prefer larger entryways. You’ll want to use a 2-inch bit for martins and a 1 1/2-inch bit for swallows.

Before I drilled the entrance hole, I held my gourd up by its stem to see how it wants to hang. I noticed that one side of the gourd’s lower cavity naturally faced up and forward. Working with the gourd’s tendency to hang this way, I chose this side to locate the entrance. You’ll want to drill your own entrance slightly above the center line on one side of your birdhouse gourd’s lower chamber….

Continue reading

From The Herb Garden: Dandelion Is More Than A Weed! 

Although some landscapers and lawncare companies may beg to differ, dandelion is far more than just a pesky weed. This herb is a nutritious edible. It’s useful in the herbalist’s apothecary and, since it grows wild everywhere, it doesn’t take up any of your precious garden space! 

The dandelion gets it common name from the French “dent de lion,” meaning tooth of the lion. The name describes the herb’s deeply jagged leaves. The bristled yellow flower is also reminiscent of a lion’s mane, further supporting this creative descriptor.  

You can find the common dandelion, Taraxacum officinale, across most of North America. But the species is actually native to Europe and Asia and was introduced to this continent sometime in the early to mid-1600s. The flowers were widely cultivated by European settlers as a food crop as well as for medicinal applications.  

Dandelion in the Kitchen 

All parts of the dandelion plant are edible. Dandelions are rich in vitamins A, C and K and are a great source of iron, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins. 

The young leaves possess a bitter flavor, and you can add them raw to salads or cook and eat them like spinach. Chop older and larger leaves to add to soups, or try including them in nutritious green smoothies.  

Dandelion flowers can be enjoyed raw as well, but are exceptionally delicious when battered and fried! Using a tempura batter will give your dandelion fritters a light texture and crisp crunch without overpowering the flower’s delicate flavor. 

Subscribe now

Dandelion wine is a popular use for these golden flowers, too. It does take up to two weeks for the fermentation process and another 6 months for the wine to age. But the vintner’s patience is rewarded with a surprisingly sweet and decadent adult beverage

Read more: Here are 3 good reasons to love (and leave) dandelions!

In the Apothecary 

Dandelion’s specific epithet, officinale, indicates the herb’s long use as a medicinal plant. Its use has been documented by the ancient Greece, Egyptians and has been utilized in traditional Chinese medicine for over a thousand years.  

Dandelion is packed full of anti-oxidants and has been used internally for a wide range of ailments such as high blood pressure, inflammations and high cholesterol. Also a diuretic, the herb some suggest dandelion use as a tea in weight loss regimens. 

Often times, medicinal applications call for use of dandelion roots, although once can certainly find value in the leaf as well. Dandelion root extract is a well-known tonic to support liver health.  

The herb can also be used topically, when crafted into a salve or lotion, to heal minor cuts and scratches. Some also use it to relive itching caused by dry, irritated skin conditions.  

Read more: Do your part for the bees and leave the dandelions alone!

Growing Dandelion 

 Dandelions are perennial plants that prefer full sun…

Continue reading