Search

The DIY World Store

Make your own solar panels for $1 per watt
Get the book
The Complete DIY Solar Panel Book




Help us keep posting valuable experiments.

Archive for February, 2013

PostHeaderIcon Making Improvements To My New Winter Greenhouse

I just got this nice little greenhouse to start some cold hardy winter vegetables for $20. It is a cheap construction, but with a few dollars in improvements it is a very nice winter greenhouse.

First I used some zip ties to hold the bouncy, flexible wire frame shelves in place. They are cheaply made and bounce all over. They are also not exactly flat and do not stay in place. A few zip ties in the middle of each shelf made them nice and solid.

I went to the dollar store and got some car windshield sun shades. These are the cheap foam type construction with a foil coating on one side. I put the foil side in, facing the plants inside the greenhouse and used dollar store clothes pins to hold the sheet in place. I used one sun shade on each side of the greenhouse. These serve two purposes. One is to reflect sunlight into the greenhouse and maximize the amount of light they receive from the weak winter sun. The other purpose is that they help insulate the greenhouse due to the foam on the outside. It will keep out the cold better.

The final thing I did is only because I am starting my seeds indoors. I put a garbage bag on the bottom shelf as a drip catcher to stop any water that runs out of the planters from hitting the floor and making a mess.

I opened up a large black trash bag and simply spread it out on the bottom shelf.

The black trash bag will serve another purpose, which is to help heat up the inside of the greenhouse during the day time.

I will use some sort of mass to heat up in the sun during the day and reflect heat back all night. Maybe bricks painted black or something.

For now I have a pretty decent greenhouse for about $23.

I will be planting a bunch of cold hardy vegetables right away and then later in a couple weeks when they go outside I will use the greenhouse to plant some slow growers such as tomatoes.

PostHeaderIcon 135 Varieties of seeds – Starting an early garden – a HUGE garden

I will be planting seeds for an early start to a garden this week. It is the last week of February and we still have snow on the ground. But I have set up a small greenhouse and plan to get a head start this year. I will plant cold hardy seeds first and then move on to some slow growers such as tomatoes, which benefit from an early start.

This will bring a huge savings this year as compared to buying plants from the nursery. I will start them all myself.

I am looking for a plot of land where I can plant a large garden. I have received 135 varieties of seeds from Survival Essentials seeds off ebay. They cost about $70 on sale. This is a huge variety of seeds. If you compare the price to retail, you would pay about $270 for that many seeds. And the quantity in each pack is about the same as a standard retail package as well.

These are non GMO heirloom seeds. Non hybrid. I am only planting all natural foods this year. The goal is to move away from the grocery store and be self sufficient. Another goal is to just eat healthier this year. I want to have enough food to put away for the whole year, until next harvest.

Here is a list of what I got:

Alfalfa 1,000 seeds Red Garnet Amaranth 200 seeds
Arugula (lettuce) 500 seeds Asparagus 75 seeds
Basil 200 seeds Green Bean (bush) 100 seeds
Golden Wax Been 100 seeds Fava Bean 35 seeds
Lima Beans 25 seeds Chioggia Beet 150 seeds
Cylindra Beet 150 seeds Detroit Red beet 150 seeds
Early Wonder Beet 150 seeds Ruby Queen Beet 150 seeds
Borage 30 seeds Broccoli 100 seeds
Brussels Sprouts 150 seeds Copenhagen Cabbage 100 seeds
Pak Choi Cabbage 100 seeds Red Cabbage 100 seeds
Caraway 100 seeds Purple Carrot 500 seeds
Danvers Carrot 500 seeds Red Chantenay Carrot 500 seeds
Royal Chantenay Carrot 500 seeds Scarlet Nantes Carrot 500 seeds
Couliflower 100 seeds Celery 300 seeds
Red Verona Chicory 175 seeds Morris Heading Collards 300 seeds
Vates Collards 300 seeds Coriander 50 seeds
Dutch Corn Salad 150 seeds Golden Bantam Corn 100 seeds
Cress 350 seeds Marketmore Cucumber 50 seeds
Boston Pickling Cucumber 50 seeds Poinsett Cucumber 50 seeds
Straight Eight Cucumber 50 seeds Cumin 75 seeds
Dill 100 seeds Black Beauty Eggplant 50 seeds
Long Purple Eggplant 50 seeds Fennel 75 seeds
Dwarf Siberian Kale 500 seeds Red Russian Kale 500 seeds
Vates Kale 500 seeds Purple Kohlrabi 200 seeds
White Kohlrabi 200 seeds Simson Lettuce 500 seeds
Bronze Mignonette Lettuce 500 seeds Butter Crunch Lettuce 500 seeds
Iceberg Lettuce 500 seeds Oak Leaf Lettuce 500 seeds
Prizehead Lettuce 500 seeds Red Romaine Lettuce 500 seeds
Banana Melon 30 seeds Jumbo Cantaloupe 50 seeds
Hearts of Gold Melon 50 seeds Green Honey Dew Melon 50 seeds
Honey Rock Melon 50 seeds Rocky Ford Green Melon 50 seeds
Mustard Greens 600 seeds Old Fashioned Mustard 600 seeds
Southern Giant Curled Mustard 600 seeds Clemson Okra 50 seeds
Emerald Okra 50 seeds Perkins Okra 50 seeds
Red Burgundy Okra 50 seeds Burgundy Red Onion 200 seeds
Evergreen Onion 200 seeds Yellow Spanish Onion 200 seeds
White Spanish Onion 200 seeds Moss Curled Parsley 150 seeds
Harris Model Parsnip 250 seeds Hollow Crown Parsnip 250 seeds
Green Pea 100 seeds Little Marvel Pea 100 seeds
Sugar Snap Pea 100 seeds Sweet Banana Pepper 75 seeds
Red Bell Pepper 75 seeds Cayenne Pepper 75 seeds
Cubanelle Pepper 75 seeds Jalapeno Pepper 75 seeds
Hungarian Hot Wax Pepper 75 seeds Serrano Pepper 75 seeds
Mammoth Pumpkin 25 seeds Small Sugar Pumpkin 25 seeds
Champion Radish 200 seeds Cherry Belle Radish 200 seeds
China Rose Radish 200 seeds Comet Radish 200 seeds
French Breakfast Radish 200 seeds White Icicle Radish 200 seeds
American Rutabaga 400 seeds Salsify 75 seeds
Summer Savory 75 seeds Bloomsdale Spinach 100 seeds
Nobel Giant Spinach 100 seeds Blue Hubbard Squash 25 seeds
Cocozelle Zucchini Squash 25 seeds Summer Squash 25 seeds
Early White Bush Squash 25 seeds Acorn Squash 25 seeds
Table Queen Squash 25 seeds Spaghetti Squash 25 seeds
Butternut Squash 25 seeds Dark Green Zucchini Squash 25 seeds
Golden Zucchini Squash 25 seeds Large Swiss Chard 75 seeds
Lucullus Swiss Chard 75 seeds Ruby Red Swiss Chard 75 seeds
Ace 55 Tomato 50 seeds Beefsteak Tomato 50 seeds
Cal Ace VF Tomato 50 seeds Floradade Tomato 50 seeds
Golden Jubilee Tomato 50 seeds Homestead 24 Tomato 50 seeds
Manalucie Tomato 50 seeds Marglobe Improved Tomato 50 seeds
Large Cherry Tomato 50 seeds Roma Tomato 50 seeds
Rutgers Tomato 50 seeds Yellow Pear Tomato 50 seeds
Purple Top Turnip 400 seeds Seven Top Turnip 400 seeds
Shogoin Turnip 400 seeds White Egg Turnip 400 seeds
Black Diamond Watermelon 25 seeds Charleston Gray Watermelon 25 seeds
Congo Watermelon 25 seeds Crimson Sweet Watermelon 25 seeds
Sugar Baby Watermelon 25 seeds Tendersweet Orange Watermelon 25 seeds
White Yarrow 300 seeds  

That is a whole lot of food. I will need a very large garden to plant even half of these varieties. But now that I have them, I am going to try to plant a few of every variety. Some of these I never heard of, so it will be interesting.

As the seeds are planted and start growing, I will post updates.

If you are looking for a good deal on seeds, here is where I got them:
Survival Essentials ebay shop

PostHeaderIcon Using My New Homemade Soap and the Necessity of Soap For Survival

I just made a batch of soap recently to show people how it is done. Cleanliness is very important in a survival situation to prevent sickness, disease and infection. Growing up I never worried about getting a cut or infection. A couple hundred years ago, a cut could mean death. It is the cleanliness standard we have today that makes all the difference.

Florence Nightingale changed our world when she introduced cleanliness to military hospitals. Before that more people died of disease and infection during battle than from wounds themselves. Florence introduced the idea of a clean work space and clean bandages to prevent infection and changed our world.

Speaking from experience, I have had some nasty cuts and have not once seen a doctor. One exposed my bone in my finger, but I still did not see a doctor. In the past this would have become infected and caused a slow death. I do believe that our cleanliness standards today prevent infection in wounds.

In a survival situation if you are filthy and get a cut, it could mean your demise. If you are clean, on the other hand, it may not be any different than today.

That is why I teach people how to make simple homemade soap. Soap will keep you clean and prevent disease and infection. Wilderness and survival cleanliness are important and a necessary part of life.

This homemade soap is made using just three things. Water, oil and lye. All three can be found in nature. Wood ash can be used to make lye. Animal fat can be rendered down to make the oil for soap.

The simple recipe found here: How To Make Simple Soap can be used in a survival situation.

This soap will clean you, your laundry and your dishes equally well. It does not lather up as nicely as store bought soap, but by adjusting the recipe a bit, you can have lather, moisturizing and scented soaps as well.

I bathe with this soap on a daily basis and use nothing else. It leaves your hair and skin feeling clean and healthy. Your hair will be squeaky clean. It leaves no artificial chemical residue on you either.

The soap has a mildly sweet scent due to the natural glycerin content in the soap. Glycerin is a naturally occurring ingredient in homemade soap and is often added to commercial soap as a moisturizing agent.

Learn how to make soap and stay clean and healthy in a survival situation.

PostHeaderIcon Putting Together A Greenhouse For Winter Cold Hardy Vegetables

It is now the end of February and I thought it would be a good time to get a head start on some vegetables. Some plants can handle quite a bit of cold such as some radishes and spinach. Other plants that take a long time to grow can be helped out by a very early start indoors. The professional nurseries do it, so why not do it at home.

Some of the plants I will be growing are brussels sprouts, spinach, radishes, cold hardy lettuce, mustard greens and swiss chard. Many people in northern climates use cold frames for winter greens and to get a head start on the growing season. I just got this greenhouse with built in shelves for only $20. That is quite a deal. Now I can start some good winter greens indoors and then transplant them outside later when the last frost is past.

Some slow growing plants that require a very long growing season can be started indoors as well. Tomatoes benefit greatly from an early start on life. Instead of buying plants in the spring (at a high cost), I will have my own. Later in March maybe some vine plants like pumpkins and squash can go in the greenhouse as well.

Winter Vegetable Greenhouse

Above is my new greenhouse in the box. It is made in China and comes from Ocean State Job Lot. I dont think that place exists outside of NY though. But you may be able to find something similar anyway.

So I assembled the greenhouse within a matter of minutes, but had to be very careful not to break the fragile plastic parts. This is a very cheaply made thing with very thin plastic side supports. But I got it together easily enough. This is a pretty good deal considering that you can easily pay $20 for a set of shelves alone. I got a free greenhouse with my shelves.

Finished assembling my winter greenhouse

This is basically a set of tubes held together by plastic side frames. Over it all goes some vinyl plastic material that drapes over the frame. The cover has a front zippered door for easy access. Some wire shelves go on the frame to hold your plants.

This is now sitting in the utility room facing south. One thing I will add to it is some dollar store windshield sun shades with the foil on one side and the bubble wrap on the other. This will reflect light into the greenhouse and also help insulate the sides against the cold.

After the seeds have sprouted and grown a few inches, I will harden them outside a bit at a time and then eventually leave the whole greenhouse outside for the season.

PostHeaderIcon Bug Out Backpack Packing List

This is a detailed list of the contents of my main bug out bag/backpack. I take this out hiking on a regular basis in order to improve the contents and eliminate useless items, while making room for more important things. The idea of this bag is that it should contain everything I need for long term survival if I need to bug out and leave civilization behind.

Your backpack should weigh no more than 30%, one third of your own body weight for best comfort. People can carry more with training and conditioning, but take it from someone who suffered a whole weekend that carrying too much on a hiking trip is a bad and very painful idea.

Your main bug out backpack should have enough food and water to last at least 3 days of rugged hiking. You should have water filtration and purification capabilities as well. And you need shelter. These are the main, most essential items you should carry with you.

Note: these are recommendations only. In the end, you decide what to take and what to leave behind. Go out hiking and camping with your bag. Learn what you need and what you can leave out. Only through experience can you find the best survival gear that you prefer.

Keep perishables such as vitamins, medicine and food rotated out and fresh.

The list below is in addition to what you may already be wearing when you bug out. You may ask why do I need a spare shirt or pair of pants. The answer is simple. You do not know how long you will be out there and clothing wears out. They actually wear out very rapidly in the wilderness. And you will need spares in order to wash them occasionally. You especially need clean socks in order to prevent foot rot.

Below is the full list:

Shelter and Warmth

  • Sleeping Bag
  • Tarp or ultralight tent
  • Rain poncho and pants
  • Sleeping pad/mat
  • Optional:

  • Ground tarp
  • Blanket or sleeping bag liner
  • Travel pillow

Food and Water

  • 3 days of food minimum @ 2,000 calories per day
  • High energy snacks, dried fruits and nuts
  • Water filter
  • Coffee filters to strain water
  • Iodine tablets
  • Water bottles – at least 3 quarts

Clothing

  • Spare socks – at least 2x
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Short sleeve shirt
  • Sweat pants – can be worn under normal pants for warmth
  • Spare pants
  • Shorts
  • Wool sweater
  • Spare hiking boots/shoes
  • Baseball cap or boonie hat
  • Sewing kit
  • Sun glasses
  • Optional:

  • Hat, gloves and scarf (for cold climates)
  • Coat/jacket depending on your climate
  • Thermal socks
  • Moisture wicking socks
  • Leather work gloves
  • Clothing repair kit

Cooking and Heating

  • Camp stove
  • Camp stove fuel
  • Cookware (pots, pans)
  • Eating utensils
  • Drinking cup
  • Fire starters – lighters, matches…
  • Magnifying glass – for fire starting

Navigation

  • Topo maps of your area
  • Compass
  • Signal mirror
  • Emergency whistle
  • Binoculars

Personal Hygiene

  • Bath towels
  • Wash clothes
  • Toothbrush
  • Razor
  • Bar of soap
  • Optional:

  • Feminine supplies
  • Prescription medications
  • Spare eye glasses and repair kit
  • Nail clippers
  • Scissors

First Aid

  • First aid kit
  • Sewing needles
  • Fish line – for sewing wounds
  • Alcohol hand sanitizer
  • Spare bandage material
  • Moleskin for blisters
  • Tweezers

Defense and Hunting/Fishing

  • Hunting knife
  • Pocket fishing gear
  • Pocket fishing pole
  • Slingshot with spare band
  • Pellet gun or .22 rifle with lots and lots of ammo
  • Hand gun and ammo
  • Optional:

  • Bow string – make your own bow later
  • Arrow fletching, tips and ends

Tools

  • Leatherman type super tool
  • Pocket knife
  • Skinning/gutting knife
  • Knife sharpener/stove
  • Hatchet
  • Folding wood saw
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical tape – repairs vinyl nicely
  • Folding shovel – e-tool

Miscellaneous

  • Hand crank radio with cell phone charger
  • Hand crank flashlight
  • Batteries for any electronics (stored in a plastic bag)
  • Dust masks
  • Disposable gloves
  • Cordage and rope, 550 paracord
  • Carabiners for fastening things
  • Mosquito head net
  • Hammock
  • Walking sticks
  • Personal documents – passport, bank numbers, marriage license
  • Waterproof document protectors
  • Paper and pencils
  • Large trash bags
  • Sandwich bags and zip lock bags
  • Tissues, toilet paper
  • Inflatable pool raft or tube for river crossings
  • Light weight “two man” inflatable raft for fishing or lake crossing

Again, only practice and experience will tell you what is best for your own survival bug out bag. Some of these items may not be needed for your bag and you may have other ideas that are not shown here. One thing I learned in the Army was to take comfort items. In the Military, you do not have a lot of comfort items on your packing list. After many miserable days and nights slogging through mud and rainy forests I have found what works best for myself.

I always had an inflatable swimming pool raft for comfy night sleeping on the ground. It inflates fast, is cheap, is easy to repair and is very light weight. Some electrical tape patches up any holes in vinyl quickly.

One time fishing on an inflatable raft with a friend, he put a hole in the raft with his fish hook under the water line. By pulling the vinyl up out of the water and wiping it with my shirt, I was able to slap on a piece of electrical tape for a quick fix. I never did patch that hole properly, because the tape held for years.

Again, these ideas come from experience. Think out of the box. Go out and experience the wilderness now while you have time.