The Ecological Gardener Explores A New Kind Of Gardening

Title: The Ecological Gardener: How to Create Beauty and Biodiversity from the Soil UpAuthor: Matt Rees-Warren

Cover Price: $24.95

Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing The Ecological Gardener coverChelsea Green

For home gardeners interested in making their growing practices more regenerative, The Ecological Gardener promises to be an indispensable resource. Although there are now numerous books on the market about regenerative practices for small-scale farmers, most of them describe machinery or techniques that can’t be scaled down to fit a home garden. 

The Ecological Gardener fills this void.  

Gardens & the Natural World

Unlike most gardening books I’ve read, The Ecological Gardner doesn’t deal much with planting dates, seeding strategies or pest mitigation. Rather, the essence of the book is about integrating gardens into the natural world that surrounds them. 

Subscribe now

Throughout the book Rees-Warren argues that making your garden part of the local landscape is a kind of win-win. Improving habitat within your garden helps local mammals, birds and pollinators. And in turn, your garden becomes more diverse, resilient and healthy. 

Rees-Warren provides numerous examples of what this integration can look like, including inviting wildlife into the garden, turning lawns into wildflower gardens and planting as many native species as possible. 

(A quick note to U.S. readers: Rees-Warren is British, so many of the species he mentions are particular to the U.K. The same principles obviously apply anywhere, though).

Read more: You can use ecosystem design principles to improve your garden.

A New Kind of Garden

In many ways, Rees-Warren is advocating for a kind of new understanding of what a garden is. As he observes at one point, many public gardens and parks contain few (if any) native species. 

With the average home gardener drawing inspiration from these places, it’s no wonder that so many gardens contain no native species.  

According to Rees-Warren, however, a garden should be more than a collection of plants with no connection to the natural world that surrounds it. Rather, by blending the garden with the local landscape, both can be strengthened. 

To this end, Rees-Warren advocates for a redefinition of what weeds are. Invasive plants should be treated as weeds, and native plants should be seen as wildflowers.

A Practical Guide

Although The Ecological Gardener does spend time considering philosophical questions about things like the nature of gardening, it is also deeply practical. Throughout the book there are numerous one- or two-page instructionals on how to perform various practical tasks like taking a soil test or laying a hedgerow. These instructions are simple and concise, providing new gardeners with a valuable blueprint to follow. 

The “Soil” chapter of the book is especially laden with helpful advice, including instructions on how to set up a bokashi bin, brew compost tea and make biochar.

In short, The Ecological Gardener is equal parts philosophical treatise and how-to manual. And these two elements work well together to…

Continue reading

Family Survival: The Spouse – Survival Cache

When thinking about “Family Survival” it is important to have your spouse on board with the emergency plan and emergency preparedness. Here are some ideas to get you started talking with your spouse about emergency preparedness

Common Themes Among Non-Preppers

Over the years I have discovered several things about the non-survivalist by talking with friends, relatives as well as my wife her and network of friends.  Male or Female, there are a few common themes among people who do not prepare.

  • Ignorance
  • Selfishness
  • Despair
  • Fear
  • Arrogance



This is a trait that is hard to believe in this day and age post 9/11 and Katrina but it does still happen.  It usually takes the form of “They” will take care of us.  “They” are usually the government (Federal, State, Local) but it could also be international groups or charities.

I know a gentleman who never thought about preparedness until FEMA said to have a 3 day supply of food and water on hand for emergencies.

Now he has started doing this but won’t hear of having more than a 7 day supply of preparedness products.  Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina was not enough to prove to him that the government cannot always be there to help you and everyone should take emergency preparedness a little more seriously.


This trait is perhaps the most difficult to overcome. Grasshopper and the Ant tale; The Ant works all spring, summer, and fall to prepare for the winter while the grasshopper spends his time in the sun enjoying every minute of it thinking the good weather will last forever.  “I won’t sacrifice today’s pleasure for the possibility of future return.” This often results in denial of the coming shortage or disaster.


This trait takes a unique form, I saw it in adults when I was just a kid. The world would be so horrible after a “Nuclear War” that I wouldn’t want to survive, therefore I won’t. This is a tough nut to crack since despair often doesn’t respond to reason.


Fear often looks like despair but is much easier to deal with because all hope has not been lost. People are often afraid to put together a plan or talk things out with their family or spouse because they afraid to think of the possibilities and don’t have answers to the issues they will be facing in a “Family Survival” situation.

The truth is…none of us have all the answers.  We can only prepare so much and the rest will be left up to being able to improvise during a disaster or TEOTWAWKI.


This can often takes the form of “It can’t happen here because this is the United States (or Canada)”  or “Things like that only happen in 3rd world countries.”

But it could happen here and because of our society’s reliance on electricity & oil….things could be much…

Continue reading

Why It’s Important to Build Roads and Trails on Your Homestead –

Roads and trails get you where you need to go every day. Millions of people drive for miles on the streets that shape their region to get to work, school or the store. Throughout national and local parks, marked trails tell hikers where they’re going so they can see main attractions and enjoy nature without getting lost.

On your homestead, roads and trails are just as important. They facilitate movement from one place to another and help you get all your tasks done for the day, like feeding your animals, tending to your garden or cutting down a few trees for firewood. These paths map out your property and are a vital part of your daily life. Here’s why you should build and maintain them.

They Offer a Place to Walk

You’ll be using the land to its fullest potential, and being able to maneuver easily throughout your property is a necessity. Without roads or paths, getting to where you need to go would be nearly impossible. Although some may enjoy using a machete to get through thorny thickets, it’s not realistic for everyday living.

You’ll need to get to multiple places on your homestead, like your gardens, barn, fields, home and any other buildings. You must also be able to access your water sources easily. Trails and roads facilitate the movement between various places. Plus, if you have visitors, paths ensure they won’t get lost on your property.

Think about what the world might look like without roads, sidewalks and trails. People wouldn’t have a path to travel and would destroy the land by driving, biking and walking wherever they pleased. Trails and roads allow them to travel without disturbing other areas of the land.

They Allow You to Enjoy Your Land

Trails and roads also allow you to enjoy your land. You can better understand your surroundings and property when you can freely move around. An area full of sticks, brush and other obstacles is harder to enjoy than one with built-in roads and trails.

Adults and kids can run and play on these trails to truly immerse themselves in the natural world. If you need to take a break from the work of the day, you can easily take a walk through your property and experience nature to the fullest.

Trails exist within nature, as wild animals create their own. They can get to where they’re going and enjoy the journey along the way without worry of giant mud pits or obstructions in their paths.

They Provide a Place for Animals to Move

Roads and trails are a must if you have animals living on your homestead. They allow creatures to move freely throughout your property. Without them, you risk having them get injured. Cattle could easily stumble over branches if they’re trying to access another field without a trail. You could suffer a financial setback if the cow gets hurt.

Additionally, if you have multiple pastures for grazing animals, trails and roads will allow you…

Continue reading

Video: How To Craft Your Own Herbal Salves

Crafting herbal salves is an easy and rewarding way to use the herbs that are already growing in your gardens. You can make health, wellness and beauty products for yourself, your family and your community. 

Identify & Gather

The first step to crafting an herbal salve is to identify and gather the ingredients. Depending upon your recipe you may be gathering leaves, bark, roots or flowers. Properly identifying plants gathered from the wild is very important. But herbs from your garden or even your spice rack are all useful for crafting topical salves.

You will also need beeswax and oil to make your salve. Beeswax is available online or at your local co-op or health food store, but I recommend seeking out your local beekeeper and asking to purchase beeswax directly from them.

Read more: You can blend your own flavorful herbal teas, too! Here’s how.

Oil Infusion

Once you have gathered your ingredients, fill a jar or other container with your chosen herbs. Use dried herbs whenever possible, as this will extend the shelf life of your final product.

Next, cover the herbs with the oil of your choice, until the plant material is completely submerged. This is important to avoid any spoilage that might occur otherwise. Using a chopstick (or similar item), poke and gently stir the herbs to release any air that may have been trapped under the oil.

Subscribe now

Tightly cap the container and label the jar with the types of herbs and oil being used as well as the date. Place the jar into a cool, dark location such as a cupboard or pantry and let infuse anywhere from four to six weeks. 

Alternatively, herbal oils can be infused utilizing a crockpot or slow cooker. Simply fill the crockpot with your ingredients, cover and set on the lowest temperature. Allow the herbs to infuse for three to five days.

Read more: Grow your own herbs to use in handcrafted products!

Make the Salve

Once your oils are infused, strain out the plant material using a funnel, screen, coffee filter or similar tool. Be sure to squeeze all of the oil out of the herbs to avoid wasting any! Now your herbal oil is ready.

It’s time to make the salve.

Simply add the oil and a proper amount of beeswax into a double boiler and place on the stove to warm up. A good starting ratio is 1 1/4 ounce of beeswax by weight for every 16 ounces of oil by volume.

Feel free to adjust this formula to fit your preference. More wax will lead to a stiffer product while less wax will make softer herbal salves. 

Once the beeswax has completely melted into the oil, stir the mixture. Ensure it is well blended, then carefully pour the warm oil into your container.

Any container will work: specialty tins from a supplier, reused baby food jars, or…


Raising Fish for Food: A Guide to Live a More Sustainable Life

Sharing is caring!

Fish are a great source of protein. However, raising them for food can be difficult, and many people don’t know how to do it properly. In this article, we will look at the progression of aquaculture throughout history, as well as some ways that you can raise fish for food in an eco-friendly way. 

Raising Fish for Survival Food

Raising fish for survival food is a healthy alternative to store-bought. Raising your own can be done on any small scale in backyard ponds, pools, or tanks, and this article will cover the basics of raising fish with help building up self-sufficient needs, including breeds that work best, equipment needed, and proper care.

Raising fish as a hobby is a great way to relax and spend time with family and friends. You can fish with the kids, enjoy watching the fish and learn how to take care of them. There are many breeds of fish for you to choose from, and there may be some that you may have never even heard of before.

There are specific steps that must be followed for healthy growth of your baby guppies, such as feeding and keeping the water clean. This article will examine those steps to give you insight into raising your own guppies for food or just for fun.

Commercial Aquaculture Strategies vs Home Aquaculture Strategies

Commercial aquaculture – There are two general strategies in commercial aquaculture: intensive and extensive.

Extensive aquaculture – The practice of extensive aquaculture relies on the use of large ponds.

Intensive aquaculture – The practice of intensive aquaculture is a result of tank management to produce a large quantity in as small a space as possible.

Raising fish at home can be a great way to save money and have more control over the quality of your fish. It can be a lot of work and is not for everyone. Research thoroughly before you start because there are costs associated with the start-up process in addition to learning curve that will need to be mastered as well. However, it does take time before you’ll see any return for all that work!

Raising Fish in a Farm Pond

Your backyard could be an aquarium. For some people, the home version of aquaculture might just be a farm pond in their back yard. These ponds are perfect for those who want to raise and grow carp or other small fishes such as Tilapia because they do not need any special equipment like filters or heaters. If you have a pond on your property, stocking it with regionally appropriate fish is relatively simple.

Crappies, bass, and bluegill are all viable choices for larger ponds. The key elements to consider when deciding what fish will work best in your pond include depth (to make sure the water doesn’t freeze) and temperature protection from summer heatwaves.

If your pond can have an ecosystem, then you will not need to manage it or feed it. A significant drawback of a farm pond is…