Tree Propagation Through Air Layering. Cover the incision with moist soil .

(Continued from Part 2. This concludes the article.)

The EU database listing for Salix states as a fungicide it is useful against leaf fungus and powdery mildews[EU]. The recipe for making a Salix solution: “30 L of natural or rain water is brought to simmering in a stainless steel tank with cover, at 80°C infuse 200 g of Salix spp cortex for 2 hours. After cooling down, and filtration with a stainless steel sieve, adjust pH to 6.2 and proceed the dilution by 3 with water. Use within 24 hours to avoid bacterial contamination [EU].” Some recipes refer to the “aerial” part of the plant, this recipe to the “cortex”. In practice, one might just get some pencil size or smaller shoots from a willow tree and chop them up to fit inside where you are performing the extraction. However, never having tried this willow concoction before, a reputable recipe is cited. I have heard from a friend who went to school for botany that in the greenhouses on campus they would place cuttings in buckets along with cuttings of willow branches to enhance the rooting of the cuttings, albeit that was second-hand information. If you do make a Salix based fungicide/rooting solution, I would apply it to the girdling and bud incision wounds via soaking a towel in the solution and tying it to the wounded twig for a few hours, and then use the same solution to wet the soil in the air layering packet.

How to air layer: Cover the incision with moist soil and protect from the elements.

This is the fun part of air layering, where you get to use your imagination and materials on hand to keep freshly wounded twig covered in soil and moist. But before we get to the covering, lets discuss the soil. The most common soil used for air layering (and what I use) is peat (i.e., sphagnum) moss. Peat moss is ideal because it is naturally anti-fungal, and if you buy it wrapped in plastic it is going to contain very little fungal spores, once wet it will hold water. It also provides a “light” growing medium for the roots. Whatever soil you choose, you want a soil that will not promote fungal/bacteria growth (so don’t use your compost) and that is “light” (so don’t use soils with a high clay content).

If you have a freshly opened bag of potting mix or peat moss, you should be fine regarding sterility. But for any garden soil or bags of potting mix or peat moss that has been open for weeks, you can heat treat them to sterilize them. Heating up to the boiling temperature of water (212 degree F) will kill basically all organisms and viruses that could negatively affect your air layering. There are numerous methods online describing how to get soil up to this temperature, everything from solar to steam canning equipment. We only need small volumes of soil (like a handful per air layering) so if…

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How To Save Tomato Seeds From Your Garden’s Tomatoes (Video)

There are a number of reasons why someone might want to save their tomato seeds. The first is simple economics. Saving seeds from this year’s crop to plant again next year means I won’t have to purchase tomato seeds again!

But when we save our tomato seeds, we’re saving more than just money. 

Preserving Heirlooms

Some of the best, most flavorful tomatoes that we can grow are known as heirlooms. An heirloom is simply a variety that has been saved and passed down from one generation to the next for at least fifty years.

Every time we save and share our tomato seeds, we’re doing our part to preserve those varieties

Tomatoes don’t necessarily need to be heirlooms for us to save their seeds. The key to success is to grow and save seeds from open-pollinated varieties. Seeds from an open-pollinated variety produce offspring that are identical to the parent plant. 

Read more: Saving seeds from these 6 garden crops is easy and fun!

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What You Need to Save Tomato Seeds

There’s very little equipment required to save tomato seeds. The first thing you’ll need, of course, is ripe tomatoes. When a tomato is ripe, the seeds are ready to harvest and the fruit will signal its ripeness by changing colors, from green to red. Or orange, yellow, striped or even purple depending on the variety of tomato that you are growing!

You will also need a cutting board, knife and a container to ferment your tomato seeds in. A canning jar will do the trick, but you can always reuse any jar or container from the kitchen.

How to Extract & Ferment Seeds

When you save tomato seeds, you first need to ferment in order to remove the jelly-like coating that surrounds thes. This coating contains growth inhibitor chemicals, and removing it from our seeds will significantly increase germination rates next season.

Cut your tomato open and squeeze the seeds and juice out of the fruit and into your container. You can also use a small spoon or scoop for this job of you prefer. Add a little bit of water to the jar, cover, then set the container on a window sill for a few days to ferment.

Be sure to label the jar with the name of the variety!

Once the seeds are properly fermented, you’ll notice a white mold beginning to form at the top of the water. This is the signal that your tomato seeds are ready! At this stage, just add a little bit more water to the jar and swirl the liquid around to mix it up well. 

Read more: Buy local, yes—and make sure you’re buying local garden seeds, too.

Getting Your Seeds

The contents of the jar will separate, with the mold, growth inhibitors, immature seeds and other undesirables floating to the top, and nothing but healthy, viable…

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Garden Trellises Aren’t Just For Climbing Plants

We all know about encouraging garden plants to climb trellises for support. Whether peas, roses or grapes, trellises provide the support climbing plants need to thrive.

Some trellises are ornate, crafted of wood or metal and designed to add a pleasing aesthetic to the garden. Others are more utilitarian in nature, constructed from a few T-posts with twine tied between them. The one rule is that trellises are normally installed before the plants take root, so the support is there as the plants grow … but truth be told, this is a rule that can (and should) be readily broken under certain circumstances.

The truth is, trellises aren’t only useful for supporting climbing plants. They can play just as important a role in supporting tall, gangly plants struggling to stand under challenging circumstances.

And for this purpose, trellises can be installed virtually anytime and anywhere, saving the day when something goes awry.

Read more: Check out these 5 upcycled trellis ideas you can use in your garden.

Some Examples of Garden Trellises in Action

Let me give you an example. You might have a bed of sunflowers, boldly reaching for the sky, but planted in a location that receives a fair amount of wind. Without protection, these tall flowers might be blown and buffeted until they break.

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Add a trellis to the mix, and the sunflowers have something to lean on for support.

Here’s another possibility. You’ve planted a bed full of squash, with their big, broad leaves spreading upward and outward to catch the sunlight. But there’s a strong thunderstorm in the forecast, and you’re concerned the heavy wind and rain will beat down the leaves and break their stalks.

A homemade trellis of sorts that weaves twine under and among the leaves might just provide enough support to protect the plants from damage.

Garden Trellises Don’t Have to Be Complicated

Trellises like these don’t have to be complicated. Do you have a raised bed of tomatoes where the plants are outgrowing their cages and threatening to fall over from the weight of their branches and fruit? Install a wooden post at each corner of the bed, to a height just shorter than the tomato plants.

Then run horizontal boards between the posts to give the tomato plants “guard rails” to lean on.

Other techniques and materials are just as effective. Twine can be a gardener’s best friend, being both effective in supporting plants and practically invisible when viewed from a distance. T-posts and other metal stakes can be readily installed and removed as needed.

No matter the details, all shapes and sizes of trellises can be constructed by anyone with the materials and a little bit of DIY ingenuity.

Read more: Is there any more versatile piece of farm equipment than the humble metal T-post?

Using Garden Trellises to…

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From The Herb Garden: Everything Is Better With Basil!

The pungent aroma of basil evokes thoughts of Italian cuisine, but this herb is grown and enjoyed around the world for its flavorful and fragrant leaves. 

Basil’s native range reaches from Central Africa to Southeast Asia. And this ancient herb has been cultivated for culinary and medicinal purposes for nearly 5000 years. 

The most well-known variety of basil is Genovese, which is also sometimes referred to as sweet basil. But there at least 60 varieties that can be grown, each offering unique flavors, aromas and colors for the herb garden. 

Basil Varieties

Some of the most popular cultivars of Ocimum basilicum include:

  • Licorice basil: A flavorful variety of basil that grows into vibrant green plants with hints of purple on the foliage.
  • Cinnamon basil: Sometimes called Mexican basil, this variety has a flavor reminiscent of cinnamon and narrow, dark green leaves with reddish-purple veins.
  • Dark opal basil: With its deep purple leaves, this beautiful basil is both decorative and delicious.
  • Lettuce leaf basil: A specialty type with very large, crinkly, bright green leaves. 
  • Globe basil: A perfect basil for growing in containers; short, compact and packed full of flavor.
  • Thai basil: A spicy variety with small, narrow leaves, purple stems. This is the preferred basil for cooking as it can withstand extended cooking times better than other sweet basils.

In addition to these varietals, there are other basil species and hybrids available to choose from such as:

  • African blue basil: A beautiful purple variety. One of the few perennial basil types.
  • Lemon basil: This hybrid variety has a strong lemon scent and flavor popular is Asian cuisine.
  • Holy Basil:  Ocimum tenuifloru is an aromatic perennial wildly used for tea that is also cultivated for religious and medicinal purposes. 

Read more: Grow these culinary herbs for you and your chickens to enjoy!

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Basil in the Kitchen

The potent flavors and aroma of freshly harvested basil just screams summertime. This tasty herb is a must-have ingredient in tomato sauces, on pizza and, of course, in pesto. Make an easy pesto at home with just a handful of ingredients:

  • 2 cups freshly harvested and washed basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (or substitute walnuts or sunflower seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 -1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (more oil will make a smother pesto)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Simply combine the basil, pine nuts, lemon juice, garlic and salt into your food processor.Run until well chopped and combined.

While the food processor is running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil until well combined and smooth. Add the Parmesan cheese if desired and pulse one last time to blend. 

Basil in the Apothecary

Basil is a member of the mint family, Lamiaceae. Like other mint family relatives, it is useful to calm an upset stomach. Brewing a tea of basil leaves is the…

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How to Start Your Own Fish Farm –

As someone who is self-sufficient and off-the-grid, you want to be able to provide everything for you and your family. Homesteaders aim to source their food, water and other needs for themselves rather than rely on grocery stores and other mainstream resources.

Although many homesteaders resort to growing their own produce and raising cattle, chickens, pigs and other animals with legs, you might be missing the taste of fish and seafood. By raising your own fish, you can add another protein source right in your backyard.

Backyard fish farming is just as practical as any other type of farming. You already have a freshwater source for your water needs, so why not implement that in another way? Fish provide another way to offer a healthy diet to your family, and you can achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency.

Starting your own fish farm may seem like a daunting task to some, but with a little bit of planning and a few resources, you can get started raising your own fish.

Why Should You Start Your Own Fish Farm?

Aquaculture is ideal for rural and small communities. Often, those communities don’t have access to fresh fish and have to source it from grocery stores where the food may travel from thousands of miles away.

When you start your own fish farm, you have the opportunity to provide fresh fish for yourself, and if you desire, you can sell that fish to others in your community, offering them local, sustainable food.

Throughout history, aquaculture as a whole has had a negative reputation. Many people associate it with commercial fish farming facilities. These facilities often require significant amounts of energy and water and are usually a significant source of pollution for both the air and water.

However, with modern and sustainable fish farming techniques, you can be a provider of environmentally friendly food. You likely already have a lot of the skills it takes to be an aquaculture farmer, too. Both gardening and fishing require similar care — they need warmth, a particular season to grow, regular maintenance and your time. Once you get started, you can master raising several types of fish, whether indoors or outdoors, throughout the year.

Learn the Types of Fish Farming: Intensive and Extensive

Before you begin your own fish farm, you need to learn the types of fish farming. There are two types — intensive and extensive. You can do both of these in your backyard.

Intensive fish farming occurs when a company uses smaller tanks to raise the fish. The fish farmers who use intensive farming must ensure that they are correctly managing the tanks. They produce a lot of fish in a small area.

Extensive fish farming, on the other hand, uses larger ponds for their fish. This type of fish farming makes the ecosystem more natural. There are plants and other organisms that the fish can feed on, offering them a lifestyle similar to those fish in the wild.


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Survival Garden: Fruits of Your Labor

For those lucky enough to acquire a property with a thriving orchard, the benefits are obvious in the first year. What’s not immediately clear is all the decision-making and patience that were necessary in the beginning. There’s an old proverb: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.” That certainly applies to fruits. Once established, though, one can expect years of production. Blueberries, for instance, can produce for up to 50 years. Standard apples and pears can be productive for 35 to 45 years. Consider fruits a multigenerational investment. 

In addition to being long-lived, fruits are versatile, both in terms of usage and storage capacity. Fruits can be eaten fresh or rendered into jams, jellies, juices, fruit leathers, cider, and wine. They can be frozen, canned, or dehydrated. Some late-season apple varieties like Arkansas Black, Stayman, Pink Lady, and Fuji can keep up to five months if stored in a cool and humid environment.

The Planning Phase

Regardless of which fruits make sense for your situation, some basic homework beforehand will ensure successful establishment. Site selection is important. Vegetable gardens are challenging on sloped terrain, but fruits and slopes are a great fit. Placing fruits on a high point of the landscape allows heavy, cold air to flow past the plants rather than settling right on top of them. Be mindful that south-facing slopes warm up quicker in the winter, which sounds like a positive, but it can also encourage earlier blooming and subsequent damage by late frosts. 

Soil testing is always a good idea. Contact your local Cooperative Extension Service about their procedures and fees. Normally, soil testing costs will range from free to $10. The results will give you an indication not only of nutrient needs, but also the natural pH of your soil. A soil pH between 6 and 6.5 will be perfect for tree fruits, strawberries, grapes, and brambles, such as raspberries and blackberries. Blueberries need more acidity, so a pH of 4.5 to 5.2 should be the target. If your score is too low, it can be raised with limestone. If too high, adjustment with sulfur may be in order.

PawPaw Fruit

Above: Pawpaw is a native fruit reminiscent in flavor to a banana, but the mushy texture is a turnoff to some.

The number of fruit cultivars is overwhelming, but a good starting point would be to speak with neighbors. What fruits have done well for them? Universities in your state with an agricultural program will periodically publish variety trials for common fruits, and while the list isn’t exhaustive, it can at least provide insight into a handful of varieties that do well. As an example, search online for “Growing blueberries in [your state] .edu.” A lot of first-time fruit growers make the mistake of planting supermarket varieties they’ve enjoyed — think Honeycrisp apples or Bing cherries — even if those aren’t adapted to their region.


A seed will contain genetic material from both parents, and as a result, the fruit…

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Survival Farming Guide: 10 Things To Know

Having a renewable source of water, food, and other materials is one of the only ways to successfully survive a large-scale disaster. And I hate to tell you that the store down the street or that website you order from is not a renewable source of supplies. 

Let me present you with a question I have asked other upcoming preppers in the past. 

“Where do you get “X” product, that you need?” Fill in the blank with whatever product you like but I will use meat as an example Across the board, the answer is almost always, “I buy it from the grocery store.”

The follow-up question is, “Where would you get your meat if all the grocery stores in the regions were gone?” Again, the answer is almost always, “I do not know.”

Some people might find an issue with this question and think it is a bit farfetched, and I might be inclined to agree if it pertained to items that people wanted, like a T.V. But not knowing where to get basic needs if they are not sitting on a shelf in front of you is a pretty big problem. 

When there is a shift in how the world operates, possibly due to a disaster, one of the few solutions to making it through is to have a survival farm.

Now a survival farm is not just for “the end of days,” but it is a great way for removing the shackles of dependency and it can also be an incredibly rewarding way of living.

What is a Survival Farm?

A survival farm is going to look and operate a bit differently than farms you may be familiar with today. Modern farms are usually extremely large and may only produce one or two things in mass quantity to sell. For example, a farm that plants hundreds of acres of corn or raises thousands of chickens.

Unless you have big ideas and equally as deep pockets, a survival farm is not going to resemble that. It’s going to be smaller and be able to produce several things so that a person can live sustainably off the fruits of their labors.

It is unlikely that a single farm will be able to produce everything that might be needed but the basics, like shelter, water, and food should certainly be covered.

Below is a guide, think of it as a getting started guide, of things to consider and ideas for putting together your survival farm.

10 Need To Knows About Survival Farming

There are a lot of things to consider and that go into having a successful piece of property that you may not know, which in part is why you are reading this guide and that is a good first step. 

But this guide is more of an overview. For example, later in the guide, I will touch on raising animals, however, I will not go into great detail…

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8 Top Survival Lessons from Antarctica

When Antarctica is brought up, the name that usually comes to mind is Admiral Richard E. Byrd. But in fact, he was not the first person to reach the South Pole. That honor falls to a Norwegian explorer  named Roald Amundsen. His party of five beat out their closest competitor by five weeks. Even more amazingly they returned safely home, while their competitors’ party died on the return trip.

That’s because Antarctica is probably the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. With the Sahara Desert in second place. After all, more people have succeeded in living with the desert than in the cold of Antarctica. Thanks to its relative abundance of wildlife, shelter and lack of frostbite.

Yet, despite this, Antarctica has also been populated for over a century.

That’s because, while there’s no native population, unlike the Arctic, scientific research stations have been operating in Antarctica since 1898, with the largest, McMurdo Station, able to house as many as 1,258 residents.

3 Second SEAL Test Will Tell You If You’ll Survive A SHTF Situation

Still more incredible is the range of animal species that live in Antarctica. Including penguins, seals, orcas, snow petrels, krill, albatross and more.  

So, in the face of such hostility, what can we learn about survival from these various animals, explorers and residents?


The human animal is a highly adaptable creature. While modern man is accustomed to his conveniences and won’t want to go without them, humans elsewhere in history have found ways to adapt to their environment. This ability to adapt is an important part of our ability to survive.

I distinctly remember seeing video of some Arctic or Antarctic expedition back when I was in elementary school. One of the things the explorers were struggling with was a vitamin D deficiency. So, to counter it, they were running around outside, almost naked, so that their bodies could absorb sunlight and create more vitamin D. While you or I would think it impossible to survive outdoors in those temperatures, they were able to do it.

If you look at your own body as you go through the year, you’ll notice that it adapts to the seasons, specifically to the cold of winter and heat of summer. While you might find yourself feeling like you’re freezing when it gets down to 40°F in the fall, by the time spring rolls around, that will seem balmy. Likewise, that springtime “heat” of 80°F may have you sweating, but by September, you’ll be calling that a “comfortably cool” day.

From a survival point of view, living in heated and air conditioned places is detrimental to our body’s ability to adapt. But the good news is that living that way doesn’t seem to cause any permanent damage. Once we learn to do without them, we’ll adapt just fine.


The first successful expedition to reach the South Pole didn’t happen without a lot of preparation. The explorers first established a base of operations at the…

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Fencing Out Deer Requires Effort—But It’s Worth It

It might be too early to claim a complete and total victory—there are probably a couple more isolated “battles” left to fight. And I know the opposition may never completely surrender.

But that’s okay. Because on the whole, I think my fencing has finally allowed me to win the war against deer in my orchard.

Initial Invasion

The process began in 2018, when I planted a bevy of young plum and apple trees to serve as the foundation of a new orchard. The chosen locale was at the top of a sunny hill, in an open field surrounded on three sides by forest.

It’s here where the snow first melts in the spring. The ground warms quicker here than the surrounding lowlands. And I often see deer here, sometimes in herds of 20 or 30, grazing on the brown turf as winter transitions into spring.

Deer have roamed in large numbers across my farm for years. They make themselves at home in my gardens and orchards.

In the past, the luckiest fruit trees have survived their annual winter prunings from the teeth of the neighborhood ruminants. But others just gave up the fight, either from over consumption or from antlers scraping off bark.

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Read more: Learn how to use graph paper when planning your orchard!

The Battle Begins

Suffice to say, I wasn’t about to let my new orchard become a preferred stomping grounds for the local deer population. The first year, I put up temporary fences around every tree, using T-posts and welded wire to do the job.

The results pleased me. Deer still roamed between the trees, but they couldn’t actually reach them to inflict damage.

During the second year, I continued to build temporary fencing around each new tree. I also began work on a formidable perimeter fence to enclose the entire orchard. Across the front of the orchard field, I used wooden posts and welded wire to create an attractive entrance.

Then I ran black plastic deer fencing through the three woodland sides of the orchard. I used trees as fence posts in order to reduce costs.

Read more: Learn more about the author’s early fencing endeavors against invading deer!

Fixing the Fencing

My perimeter fencing performed reasonably well during its first winter. But an ice storm caused some damage, and a deer did get in at one point—I found the tracks.

So in year three, I threw my full attention into improving and strengthening the perimeter fence. In any location where the fence sagged or suffered damage during the winter, I added T-posts. I reinforced the black plastic with welded wire and made sure everything was as strong and tight as it could be.

And I also took a gamble. I planted over a dozen new trees during the third year, but I didn’t erect…

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Video: Creating a Woodland Blewit Mushroom Garden

To cut down on mowing—and make my land more biodiverse—I’ve been converting sections of my lawn into extra perennial flower beds, vegetable plots, and even mushroom gardens. One area now includes oyster mushroom logs and lion’s mane totems.

And I recently inoculated my old potato patch with woodland blewit mushroom spawn. (Check out the video for the whole process. You’ll also get an update on the mushroom garden surrounding my decorative pond.)

Read more: Watch a video on installing a decorative pond! 

Known as Clitocybe nuda or Lepista nuda, woodland blewits are choice edible mushrooms. They naturally occur in moist, shady conditions and can thrive on many types of organic matter.

“The food source for a blewit is leaf litter and decomposed woody debris,” notes Tavis Lynch, a field mycologist and the author of Mushroom Cultivation: An Illustrated Guide to Growing Your Own Mushrooms at Home. “Pine straw also works really well for blewit cultivation.”

To set up my blewit patch, I first cut back the weeds and turned over and broke up the soil. Next, I added pine needles and leaves from last season. Then I crumbled up my blewit spawn and sprinkled it over the planting bed.

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After that, I added a layer of finished compost, straw and less finished compost. I topped this with another layer of blewit spawn and more mulch, straw and spawn.

Read more: Grow your own lion’s mane mushrooms using the totem method!

Although we were about to get a good rain, I watered the planting bed by hand. I followed up with one more thin layer of finished compost. Finally, I topped the whole thing with plastic sheeting to help lock in moisture.

I’ll keep this in place for a couple of months, peeking beneath it periodically to make sure my blewit patch isn’t too dry.

Now, if I’m lucky, I might have my first harvest as soon as this fall. Still, it can take up to 18 months before blewit spawn begins to fruit. “Blewits are a lot less predictable [than other mushroom types],” Lynch says. “But, when you do get blewits, you’re not just going to get four or five. You’re going to get 400 or 500.”

When I start to see what I think are blewits, I’ll need to make sure they are, indeed, blewits. Before cooking up my haul, I’ll consult some of my mushroom guidebooks and make a mushroom spore print. (A woodland blewit spore print should come out a pinkish-buff color.)

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