All posts for the month May, 2014

growing a nut tree

By Kimberlee Hertzer

Let’s be honest: planting a nut tree takes patience.

After all, a black walnut tree can take up to 20 or 30 years before it produces walnuts. And a pecan tree can take up to 15 years. But planting nut trees can certainly be very rewarding. In fact, it can also be very lucrative.

Consider nut trees such as walnuts, chestnuts and pecans. A single nut tree can produce enough nuts to sell at a local Farmer’s market or roadside stand to make between $250 to $1000 a year. One black walnut tree can bring about $20,000 in timber alone. And if it’s well-managed, a five-acre plot of nut trees is enough to produce a full-time income. According to Bruce Thompson, author of Black Walnut for Profit, a mature stand of black walnut trees can bring about $100,000 per acre in timber alone.

If you have the patience and perseverance, planting nut trees can offer not only a great income and food for your family, but a legacy for years to come.

How To Pick The Perfect Tree

Although most nut trees can grow in the U.S., not all will produce nuts. Therefore, it’s important to select the right tree to grow in the climate where you live.

As a rule of thumb, wherever peach trees prosper, nut trees will also thrive. Pecans grow best in the southern states, while almonds and pistachios can only be raised successfully in California.

On the other hand, chestnuts thrive in many states including:

  • Michigan
  • Wisconsin
  • Georgia
  • Northern Florida

And if you like cashews or Brazil nuts, you’d better live in southern Florida because that’s the only place where they will grow. One of the most expensive nuts — macadamia nuts — grow best in Hawaii and southern California.

New Natural Fertilizer Doubles Garden Production!

But before you decide which tree to plant, here are some questions to ask:

  • How much time are you willing to invest?
  • What is the pH of your soil?
  • How much space do you have?
  • How long are you willing to wait until harvest?
  • What kind of nut trees do best in your area?
  • What is your favorite nut?

To find out which nuts grow best in your area, check with a local nursery or garden center. Non-profit organizations, such as the Arbor Day Foundation and the Northern Nut Growers Association, are also helpful.

How To Plant A Grafted Tree

Planting trees from nuts is inexpensive; however, it can take several years to produce a crop.  A better way to grow nuts is to plant grafted trees, which you can buy from your local nursery or online.

Here are 7 steps to planting a grafted nut tree:

  1. Dig a hole large enough to fit the tree roots. Trim the taproot to a length of 20 inches, and trim off any broken roots.
  2. Plant the tree 1 inch deeper than it was in the nursery.
  3. Fill the tree roots with the moist topsoil until the hole is 3/4 full.
  4. Water the tree.
  5. Finish filling the hole with topsoil and water again.
  6. Trim off about 1/2 of the top of the tree.
  7. Wrap the trunk with tree wrap, brown paper, or aluminum foil for the first two years to protect the trunk.

How To Create A Lasting Legacy

Like anything worthwhile in life, taking care of a nut tree takes work.

Don’t forget to protect your tree from predators. To prevent squirrels and other rodents from getting to your tree, a dog or cat can help. Blue jays also love nuts; to keep them away, play recorded bird distress calls or predator cries from your orchard or yard.

And it’s especially important to care for the root of the tree. During the first few years, the roots are still developing. Weeds and grass can ruin the roots, so the soil surrounding the trunk should always be kept free of them.

Someone once said that you don’t plant nut trees for yourself — you plant them for generations to come. Although it may seem like a long time to wait, the roots will eventually become strong and you will begin to see the fruits of your labor.

Consider the words of the psalmist:

“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper,” (Psalm 1:3).

What tips do you have on growing nut trees? Tell us in the comments section below.

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This article first appeared at Off The Grid News: Nut Trees: Off-Grid Food Supply … And Money-Maker





Our country’s way of life and most people aren’t prepared to survive when an EMP will cripple the entire U.S. power grid and kill electric equipment in the entire country. Protecting your solar gear makes the big step ahead to your survival.

You might choose to start with an easy, inexpensive project right now such as constructing a DIY Faraday cage for your solar panels, or tuck a few mission-critical solar gadgets inside a couple of layers of Faraday bags to go in your rucksack. We already explained how to do it, in the first part of this article.

Next in increasing order of cost, complexity and difficulty, are solar panel installations on homes or retreats which are not connected to the grid. For this type of application we will shield the solar panels themselves, all associated wiring, inverter hardware, the battery bank and as little space as a couple of rooms or as much as the entire building.

How It Works

Shielding large spaces is most easily and least expensively accomplished in the design and building phases of the home and its solar power system as opposed to retrofitting an existing home and installing solar panels on it.

By creating a larger envelope of shielding, with the same shielding properties as a Faraday cage, all of the electronic devices in the shielded portion of the building will be protected. Shielding large spaces eliminates redundant purchases and the hassle of storing spare electronics in a Faraday cage for possible future use. Also, you don’t ned to shield dozens of devices individually nor install surge protection and shielded wiring between them.

To shield against the maximum theoretical EMP field strength (50 thousand volts per meter) of known NHEMP detonations, we must shield our solar panels to 74dB over a frequency range below 64Mhz.

But shielding them to 80Mhz will give us a margin of error since our shielding will likely become somewhat compromised over time and by the wear and tear of life and the elements.

Shielding Solar Panels for an Off-Grid Retreat

bergethon-solar-panelTo shield our grid-independent retreat, the entire outer skin of the structure must be shielded to our target 80dB.

The entire roof, the exterior of all of the walls and the floor must all be shielded.

This will obviously be much easier to accomplish during the design and construction phases and can be accomplished by choosing conductive construction materials and methods which provide the needed shielding and lack of impedance, such as:

  • Conductive metal roofing materials
  • Conductive paint
  • Conductive metal doors, door frames and conductive gaskets
  • Conductive matting laid over the foundation or skin applied to the bottom of the sub-floor
  • Conductive bonds, joints, brackets, gaskets and seals must be used to joint different materials
  • Conductive window frames must be used
  • Conductive window film or 2 layers of 20 opening per inch wire screening covering windows but still allowing light to pass through them and an unobstructed view will still providing the requisite level of shielding,
  • 2 layers of conductive 20 opening per inch wire screening covering the solar panels will allow light transmission to the panels while still providing the requisite shielding. 2 layers will protect against construction mistakes and wear.

The outside skin of all walls must be shielded or the wiring within the walls will conduct the EMP into the electrical system. If less than the entire structure is shielded, the shielded rooms must be wired independently of the rest of the house or the use of costly fast-clamping surge protection equipment will be necessary to isolate the shielded rooms.

The building should be properly grounded because of its large area.


Install micro-inverters underneath the shielded skin that envelops each solar panel instead of a single, and large inverter cabinet that rests on a cement pad next to the structure. You will increase redundancy and avoid shielding the inverter cabinets, and installing surge suppression and shielded wiring.

Shielding Solar Panels for a Grid-Connected Location

The most difficult and expensive solar installation is the protection of is a grid-connected home or building.

The same principles apply to this project as applied to the simpler projects but since the home and its solar energy system is connected to the power grid, this one requires additional protective measures.

This installation will be more vulnerable to the power charges induced by E3 because it is grid connected. For that reason, in addition to the measures taken in the previous projects, keep take good care of the following:

  • The home’s connection to the power grid should have a mechanical, manual bypass circuit allowing the home to be physically disconnected from the grid.
  • The home’s connection to the power grid must be fitted with the fast-clamping surge suppression previously mentioned.
  • In order to deal with the power company, the home will need an electric meter. If a smart meter with a data connection is installed, the data connection would also need to be surge protected.
  • Being more along the lines of a remote cabin, the last model was assumed to be pretty self-contained. Grid-connected homes typically have more connections penetrating the shielded envelope in addition to power such as copper phone lines, cable TV, satellite TV, radio antennas, etc.. An external cellular antenna will be necessary. A cell signal repeater located inside the shielded home will also be needed since virtually no signals of any kind will penetrate the home’s shielding.
  • Non-conductive water and sewer pipes should be used where they penetrate the shielding envelope. EMP trapping baffles could be constructed where non-conductive pipe penetrations occur to reduce the amount of EMP entering through these points.
  • Fiber optic cabling can be substituted for copper data and voice cable runs since fiber optic cable is non-conductive and will not conduct surges caused by E3 EMP inside the shielding envelope.
  • Shielded foyers, mud rooms or rotating doors should be installed at entrances and exits. Passing through 2 shielded doors to enter the building, but allowing only 1 door to open at any given time will maintain the envelope. It would be a shame to go to all the cost and trouble of this level of protection just to have an EMP occur when the door is open and compromise the contents of the structure.

This last type of installation will raise the cost of a new home by about 30% including the cost of adding a solar installation with a battery bank and backup generator. But the added cost would be recouped over time through savings on future electrical bills and it is hard to put a price tag on piece of mind and the ability to maintain your standard of living after an EMP.

Of course, costs would increase for a retrofit in proportion to the complexity of the build and the amount of material needed.

With a little knowledge, insight and preparation, you can protect your solar panels from the effects of EMP. Whatever your income and the level of complexity of your solar installation, there is a solution.

Take this knowledge to prepare yourself or your family now so that you and yours are less vulnerable in the event of an EMP.

Find out which devices are vulnerable to EMP on “How to Survive an EMP”. 

This article first appeared at Survivopedia: How to Protect Your Solar Gear from EMP (Part 2)


Today we’re taking a peek at several articles from around the web, with some helpful commentary to help you find which ones interest you the most.


From 7 Reasons to Take an Air Rifle for a Survival Weapon


This article covers an often neglected part of the survival armory, the air rifles. Although not as powerful as a standard firearm, the author does provide a number of reasons why you should give them a second glance. Although this seems like a smaller “list” article, the author actually does a great job of detailing the hows and whys, as well as detailing the available calibers of ammunition. As such, this makes for a great “intro to air rifles” post, and I definitely recommend you give it a look.

From Should You Make Powdered Eggs at Home?


Powdered eggs are a definite plus for any prepper owing to their long storage life and nutritional content. However, this article takes an interesting stance on whether you should purchase prepared powdered eggs from suppliers or create them yourself in your kitchen. Although I am personally a major fan of making most things yourself if possible (after all those skills could be useful after a disaster too!) but the author does raise some valid concerns about the longevity of homemade powdered eggs. Look for yourself and tell us what you think.

From Shooting Through Walls and Doors


I always love articles that deal with the classic “Hollywood tactics”, and this one is no exception. Rightfully the author points out that there is one major problem with shooting through walls, which is that you can’t possibly see what you’re shooting at! Unless you know what is on the other side and that none of your shots could possibly hurt an innocent person (which is highly unlikely to say the least) you’re basically closing your eyes and pulling the trigger. Not only is that hilariously bad for wasting ammunition, but it could also end terribly for whoever is on the other side…and they may not always be the bad guys you were wanting to eliminate.

From Drought Tolerant Crops for the Survival Garden


This article is of interest for multiple reasons. Firstly, it’s important to know that droughts are still continuing even though large areas of the U.S. may be experiencing normal rainfall. For many areas, the drought ended after 2012′s hot weather subsided, which could lull those folks into a false sense of security. After all, drought in major food producing areas like California could drastically increase food prices!

Secondly, the list of crops that require minimal water is great even in areas with large aquifers or other constant sources of water. It doesn’t take long for even vast reservoirs to be severely taxed by the needs of farmers, cities and businesses so being able to grow nutritious crops on minimal water would allow you to preserve stores of water for longer and reap a greater amount of food per gallon of water.

Your thoughts?

Let us know what you thought of these articles in the comments below!

This article first appeared at Prepared For That: 7 Reasons to Take an Air Rifle for a Survival Weapon: Josh’s Take on Survival Knowledge


Dehydrated food – dehydrating your own food is a relatively easy way to stock your excess harvest from your garden or to store back vegetables (and meats) which you bought on sale.

During the process, one question is, “How do I know when the food is ‘done’?”

Dehydrated food has been heated at low temperatures to remove most of the water content (moisture) so as to enable a longer shelf life. Since there is no high temperature ‘cooking’ or other process such as boiling, etc., dehydrated food preserves much of the food’s nutrients compared to some other methods.

The process of making dehydrated food is fairly easy. Generally, you slice your food into widths of 1/4″ or less, place them on the dehydrator trays, set the temperature and timer, and wait until they are done. While the low-temperature heating time may take as long as 12 hours or more (or less, depending), the only time you are actually involved with the process is when your are slicing the food and placing on trays.
The question is though, how do you know when it’s done?

Generally, most professional dehydrating processes use the following percentages as a measure of being ‘done’…

Meats at about 20% moisture content or less.
Fruits about 10% moisture.
Vegetables 5%.

Residential dehydrators (compared to professional commercial dehydrators) cannot measure and control the moisture content. Therefore the only method for do-it-yourself is to periodically test the pliability of the food by hand, and with experience you will learn what is ‘right’ for the various foods.

Fruits should be pliable (almost brittle), but NOT brittle. To test your fruit, take a piece you have dried and cut it in half. There should be no visible moisture. If there is too much moisture remaining, you run the…Continue Reading at Modern Survival Blog: Dehydrated Food: Testing Dryness And How To Know When It’s Done



Can you prevent getting a bout of flu or a winter vomiting bug as its so inelegantly called here in the UK?  Well, not entirely, but here’s a hell of a lot you can do to minimise your chances of getting either of these very common, debilitating, and for those who are very young or fighting other illnesses, sometimes fatal conditions. Firstly, realise that you can’t prevent others from walking around and happily sharing their germs with everyone else including you, it’s your actions that make the difference not theirs.

On returning home from any trip wash your hands before going about your normal business.

Now, a few facts for you:

  • The toilet seat is not the most germ infested place in the house
  • The bathroom door handle is worse
  • The telephone handset is worse still
  • The computer keyboard is even worse
  • The TV remote has more germs on it than any other item in a home cleaned to a reasonable standard BUT, the very worst thing is…..I’ll tell you in a minute.

By giving these items a quick once over with a baby wipe every day, or more often if someone in the house already has a cold, you cut your chances of not only catching a cold or flu but of getting many of the gastrointestinal viruses that do the rounds at this time of year.

When you’re  out and about, there are some quite obvious germ hotspots you can easily avoid. In public washrooms if you have to open a door after washing your hands, go right down to the bottom of the bar handle, most people grab the middle and if they have a cold, or worse haven’t washed their hands after using the facilities, God knows what you are getting onto your nice clean hands. For regular handles keep a tissue in your pocket and use that as a barrier between your hand and the handle if someone who is obviously unwell has touched it before you.

In lifts, push the button with your knuckle, that way if you touch your face with your fingertips you are less likely to transfer germs,  and avoid holding onto the rails or grab bars if possible. If you are in an elevator with someone who has a cold, turn away from them, if the germs don’t get into you, you don’t get a cold. Simple. On public transport, if you can keep you head tilted slightly downwards you are less likely to get a million germs sneezed into your face, and you are more likely to scratch your face through the scarf, again stopping germ transfer. A scarf, even a very lightweight one in front of your nose and mouth is a very effective barrier.

As I said, if the germs don’t get into you, you don’t get sick and other than getting directly coughed and sneezed on it’s your hands that transfer most germs from the outside to the inside of your body. WASH THEM OFTEN. That single action, if employed routinely by everyone would massively diminish the amount of germs that are passed from person to person.

Cold and flu viruses can live on hard surfaces for up to 72 hours and on soft surfaces for up to 24 hours, that’s a long time, and at any point during that time you get those germs onto your hands, and then touch your nose or mouth you are effectively giving these unwanted passengers a lift right to your respiratory system. Gastrointestinal viruses can also survive quite well for even longer periods, up to 70 DAYS in the case of clostridium difficile spores.

Okay, I said I’d tell you what the dirtiest thing is…it’s money, paper money.


Paper money has millions more germs on it than its nearest rival the TV remote. Every person that has touched that money has either taken some germs off it, added some germs to it or both. The shop assistant with a streaming cold, the woman he handed it to with an upset stomach, the person who doesn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Little nephew Tommy, who you sent it to in a birthday card, added remnants of a discarded McMeal, dog faeces and cat pee when he  dropped it on the floor showing his friends in the street.


Everywhere that note has been is represented on its surface. Of course some bugs will die, but some will be inside your purse and wallet, in your jeans pocket, and on your skin way before they die, and all of them have the possibility of causing illness. Some even like the nice cosy sometimes damp paper and will breed on it quite happily.

Others are spores that can live for 70 days on almost any surface. These can cause many illnesses including Clostridium difficile, a very nasty and sometimes life threatening condition causing chronic diarrhoea.  Now obviously there is no avoiding this issue, especially for those of us that prefer cash to plastic. What you can do however is minimise your risk. Don’t touch your face with your bare hands after touching paper money, wash your hands or use sanitizer. In the winter, wear your gloves, have a couple of pairs and wash them frequently.

Now some of the bugs on paper money you will be immune to, they are germs that are common in your community and you have become used to them. It’s when the money picks up germs that are uncommon in your area that disease outbreaks can, and do occur.

The main thing that can stop disease outbraks from becoming epidemics, or even pandemics is quite simple and very cheap:



When travelling abroad putting the notes in a zip lock bag, spraying them with sanitizer whilst in the bag and stuffing them in the icebox of the mini fridge in your room seems to work. For those having backpacker type vacations where this may be difficult carry a pack of baby wipes and hand sanitizer about you at all times and use them both religiously after handling money, and regularly throughout the day. Wipe all cutlery before use if you have ANY doubt about the place you are eating in.

When in the Middle East, North Africa or the Indian sub-continent remember the differences in culture and hygiene standards. These regions have particularly virulent bacteria and viruses in the general population that your system will not cope with, and that causes very serious illnesses in travellers on a very regular basis. NEVER let young children or anyone with any immunity issues handle paper money in these regions.  In addition to the usual Delhi Belly/Montezuma’s Revenge type issues parasitic illnesses abound and often appear a couple of weeks after exposure leading to hospitalisation on your return.

Take Care


This article first appeared at Underground Medic: What is the most germ laden item in your possession?

By Brian Lada

Multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms are in store for the Plains through the weekend, threatening outdoor activities from Texas to Minnesota.

Anyone planning on going to an amusement park, concert or a local event should be on the lookout for these storms and know where to seek safety if they strike.

The severe weather danger will slowly shift south and east heading into the weekend, impacting a larger area and more cities.

Similar to those on Friday, the main threats from storms over the weekend will be damaging winds and large hail, although a few isolated tornadoes cannot be ruled out.

Frequent lighting will also accompany these thunderstorms, making it dangerous to be in a pool or open field until the storm has passed.

The threat of severe weather will continue to expand across the Plains Sunday and Sunday night, reaching from the Texas Panhandle to western Wisconsin.

Minneapolis; Omaha, Nebraska; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Dodge City, Kansas, are a few locations that could experience hail as large as baseballs, wind gusts past 65 mph and downpours that spark flash flooding.

RELATED: Severe Weather Center
Interactive Radar
Summer: Definitions, Myths of the Season Explored

Heading into the first week of June, the threat of severe thunderstorms will continue, focusing on Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri.

Some of these storms may even impact major travel hubs in the Midwest such as Chicago, St. Louis, Milwaukee and possibly even Detroit.

More at AccuWeather: Denver, Minneapolis in Path of Weekend Storms


Eruption column and pyroclastic flow over water at Sangeang Api yesterday (picture: Sofyan Efendi)

Etna (Sicily, Italy): Although tremor dropped significantly yesterday evening, mild strombolian activity from the New SE crater continued throughout the night. This morning, new ash emissions from the Bocca Nuova occurred again. Whether this announces a new phase of (different) activity will have to be seen…
Video from this night’s activity:

Sangeang Api (Indonesia): Eruptions continue at the volcano after yesterday’s major explosion. Dense ash plumes rising from the summit crater can be seen on this morning’s satellite images, and a MODIS hot spot is visible on the latest satellite data, suggesting fresh magma continues to arrive at the volcano’s summit crater.
In the meanwhile, the ash and SO2 plume has drifted and spread over more than 3000 km to the E and SE, covering a vast area that includes parts of northern and eastern Australia. All flights from Darwin airport have been cancelled because of the hazardous ash cloud.

A wealth of photos of the eruption taken from various viewpoints (neighboring islands, boats, in-flight) have emerged on social media and elsewhere. Among other details (i.e. that the height of the plume originally reported by VSI, only 3km) was a large underestimation and is more close to 15-20 km as estimated by VAAC Darwin.
At least 2 pyroclastic flows were produced by partial collapse of the eruption column. This can be seen on pictures taken during the early stages of the eruption. At least one of these flows crossed the shore and continued to travel for about 2-3 km above the sea water (see picture by Sofyan Efendi).

San Miguel (El Salvador): Small ash emissions were reported at Chaparrastique volcano yesterday. Local observers heard rumblings and noticed ash fall in the area of Alpina Carreto.
Apart from a possible eruption, a major hazard is posed by mud slides and mud flows at the slopes of the volcano. Civil protection ordered new evacuations. According to local press, school classes were suspended in 12 schools located within 5 kilometers radius of Chaparrastique due to landslides in the area generated by the rains.

More at Volcano Discovery: Volcanoes Today, 31 May 2014: Etna, Sangeang Api, San Miguel