Aquaponics or Hydroponics?


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I have been thinking I should have a garden all year long.  My garden is small outdoors so I can care for it properly and because the care gets away from me when I go larger, but I do not seem to grow enough to put up much.  I am doing more research to fix that and am also researching what I can do indoors.  What are Aquaponics and hydroponics?  Both allow intensive gardening using water except aquaponics incorporates fish into the mix.  So, aquaponics is growing food hydroponically along with fish and hydroponics is growing plants without soil or fish.  Both are subsets of horticulture.  Let me go a little further.

I will shorten the history lesson I received doing my research.    Hydroponics uses nutrient solutions in water without soil.  In the current era this all got started with William Frederick Greene in 1929 at the University of California, Berkley,  promoting that solution cultures could be used for growing agricultural crops.  Due to the politics of the University he was not granted permission to use their greenhouses and although he was able to continue his research elsewhere it never got off of the ground.  He was the first in the U.S. to note:  “plants have constant access to oxygen and as much or little water as needed, water not needed drains away to be recirculated and aeorated to eliminate anoxic conditions”. ( excerped from Wikipedia/Hydroponics)  Until the age of flight when Pan Am Airlines had to stop over in Wake Island to refuel both the plane and the kitchen.  Wake Island grew vegetables for Pan Am and themselves hydroponically because the island has no soil.

Hydroponics is a subculture of soilless culture and many users do not even add mineral nutrient solutions.   The benefitsof hydroponics include:  no soil needed; lower water use; control of the nutrients; no pollution to the environment (streams, soil, animals, humans); stable yields; easier to rid systems of pests and disease; easily harvested; and lastly, no pesticides.  This new branch of horticulture had started.  The downsides include: without soil any interruption of a water source leads to rapid death; the damp often leads to high moisture levels.  Not so many cons as pros.  The nutrient problems become easier to correct with Aquaponics where fish are added to the equation.  When I started looking at that subject I immediately knew I would find too many difficulties to overcome.

The first type of hydroponics is solutions based.  Growing medium is sand, gravel, or rockwool in which the water and nutrients are flushed through the system and the drained water is recirculated.  Containers used must be opaque so no light is allowed which would contribute to algae growth.  The second type uses no medium and can be used with and without pumps.  Consider the rooting of cuttings in ball jars or other water filled containers.  But any container may be used as long as light is kept out, and water is either changed on a regular schedule or when the level drops too low.  Home based systems usually use aquarium pumps to move and oxygenate the water which flows through the roots.  More commerical operations float plants on bouyant plastic in a nutrient rich water.

Japan probably has the jump on this new technology and is using and testing it in many formats.  You may remember seeing multistory buildings/greenhouses with the only occupants being garden vegetables, rooftop gardens and now Fujitsu has converted an entire retired silicon chip manufacturing facility to hydroponics.   My favorite is MakerBot Printshop which offers plans to print your own 3D hydroponic system.

Other online sources for hydroponic systems and components are: – Indoor Grow Source and

I have concluded that my home is too small for aquaponics indoors and I would not put it up just for the warmer months so I have now removed it from consideration.


Are You Prepared For The 4th Of July?



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Fireworks, sparklers, poppers, bottle rockets, firecrackers: these and so many more dangerous combustibles are flying off the shelves in stores everywhere as the holiday nears.  Are you prepared for the Fourth of July and what it brings?  This is a tradition for many families as the grand finale to a grand day.  Picnics, street fairs, swimming, boating and all the joyous childhood memories being created.  For some but not all.

Many, many, many of our war veterans have a real problem hearing fireworks.  How sad that the 4th will never be the same for them.  PTSD is real and the sounds of battle are a real side effect of fireworks.  If more is known perhaps some fireworks free zones could be created.  I would gladly support such a thing and take myself and dog along.  I am sure not many of the vets would even discuss the issue but it has not gone unnoticed.

The last three of my dogs have been terrified of fireworks.  There is no place of comfort for a 95 pound dog.  I can testify to that and how just like thunderstorms he used to try and sit on my head and salivated enough to fill a bucket.  At least my current dog is small, even though still terrified, and can be seen crouched and running into the garage after hearing pops of fireworks and firecrackers.  Last weekend a neighbor’s celebration (yes, not even the 4th) sent her behind the headboard of the waterbed and the only thing getting behind there is a vaccum pole.  But what does a soldier with a family do?  Will they understand his terror and discomfort?  Not too many know the terror of a panic attack that feels very real to the sufferer.

50 years ago we would pile into the car and head to the drive-in theaters and at intermission came the fireworks display.  Now every lake, club, city and backyard reverberates with the booming and popping of  every family’s backyard safety disaster waiting to happen.  I will bet that all of us knows of children that were injured during these activities or have at least heard a story or two.

Are you prepared for the 4th of July?  I am never prepared anymore.  I cannot stand the guilt of leaving my dog alone and suffering while I squeal in delight.  I cannot make friends and neighbors understand why I feel this way as even one or two weeks in advance of the holiday children in the neighborhood are already sending up these implements of pain and destruction.  What do you bet I come back in the next life as a dog.

Should Every Home Have a Blackout Disaster Kit?




One of the most common disaster kits are blackout kits mainly for use in power outages. (  In this Tulsa World article by Jerry Wofford he quotes from Brian Jensen at the regional disaster office for the Tulsa chapter of the American Red Cross that preparation is key during storm season and the first thing that should be done is putting a blackout disaster kit in our homes.  The main items are the essentials:  food and water.  Then he lists items necessary firstly for power outages.  A solid flashlight; emergency lighting source using LEDs from battery power that can last from 10 to 30 days;  NOAA certified weather radio – preferrably hand cranked; first aid kit; multipurpose tool; map, blankets; cash; contact information; sanitary supplies and prescription meds. And not to forget vital documents necessary after a disaster.  He mentions a great item called the Blackout Buddy from Eton ($19.99) that you plug in to an outlet and it lights up whenever the power goes out.  Also very important is that preparation is more than a reaction because it is the mental preparation that is most necessary.

From Be informed, make a plan, build a kit, get involved.  Build an emergency blackout kit and prepare a family communication plan.  Follow power conservation to keep usage low, freeze water containers and fill the car gas tank at least 1/2 full as it takes electrical power to run those gas pumps.  Learn how to use the manual release for the garage door opener and keep a house key on you.

From we are reminded to keep our preparation kit in a strategic place known to all in the household and to place it low in case of fire and so that the children can easily access the kit.  In flood prone areas keep a blackout kit in the attic along with a hatchet and pry bar for ready escape.  This site also recommends avoiding emergency candles if possible due to the possible tragic results of an open fire.  If you must use candles do so in conjuntion with a safety lantern.

I found most interesting an article from The Family Handyman where they state that even without a power generator your can turn the car into a generator by using a power inverter to change DC to AC (costing as little as $25.00) that will run a tablet or laptop.  A larger inverter (for about $100.00) can be used for power tools and appliances.  For instance if you have an on demand water heater run on propane you still will need about 75 watts power for it to run.  Ahhh, a nice hot shower.  This article also notes you should get cash; conserve batteries by using LEDs; fill the tub; fill the grill tank; gas up the car; and get a radio.  Always have a backup plan.  Ice saves money and a CO detector could save lives.

Every day I learn new tips in my research.  Todays blackout power kit tip was the power inverter for an automobile.  But the season for spring storms also produces many sources of information being made available because so much can go wrong with the volitile spring storms.  The information is out there and usually from local sources wanting to be sure we stay informed.  Remember, it is every citizen’s responsibility to be prepared and to look after our loved ones, friends and neighbors.

Pictured is the Guardian Blackout Disaster Kit:

Light and Communication:  Dynamo 4 in 1 flashlight – radio, power source, light source and siren.  Winding for 1 minute allows 1 led to power for 1 1/2 hours; winding 3 minutes gives power for a cell to work for 2-8 minutes; never needs batteries.

Squeeze Flashlight;  Waterproof Matches;  30 Hour Emergency Candle; 12 Hour Bright Stick

Shelter and Warmth:  protection from outside weather forces be it wind, sunshine, rain and many other conditions

2 Hand/Body Warmers; 2 Mylar Emergency Sleeping Bags

First Aid :  for any minor injuries:  37 Piece Portable First Aid Kit

Stress Relief: Deck of Playing Cards

All this is packed in a waterproof cooler bag with survival kit printed on the front all for only $39.99.


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Mad Max Capitalism/Economy


Mad Max Capitalism has been around a while growing out of something like old-fashioned self-reliance, political beliefs and post apocalyptic visions.  Perhaps starting during the cold war it is fueled by economic fears, bloated federal government and the unrealiable electric grid.  It has become a multi-billion dollar a year collection of industries that thrive when things get really, really bad.  Baseline sales have continued to grow driven by economic uncertainty, frequency of wild weather and power failures.  Current inflation of the prices of food stuffs caused by widespread drought in the farm belt of the country is pushing the new growth.  People are talking about, planning and planting vegetable gardens, fruit trees and bushes and crowding classes teaching ‘permaculture’.  Greenhouses of every nature either manufactured or cobbled from recycled items are everywhere along with backyard chickens and other small livestock.

The surge of popularity of these do-it-yourselfers peak before and after unsettling events that are nationwide not regional, even international.   Think Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the Japanese tsumani and town decimating tornados.  Weather radios, kerosene  and propane heaters, batteries, candles, power generators, gas cans, emergency flashlights and radios are some of the products fueling the industry.  Our American culture of guns and the right to own them has even created shortages of ammunition which created even more runs on ammo and supplies to make your own.  “Mindfulness motivates consumers” notes Kiersten Moffatt of Eton.  There are just as many horrific weather events in Europe, and England as well as China and Australia.  No area of the globe seems to be spared.

The growth of social media fueled by the proliferation of smart phones helped fuel overthrow of governments,  records everyman’s experiences and the whole world is watching.  Remember we now have the world’s libraries at our fingertips for access to records and books in all languages.  Solar power is allowing even the most remote areas to participate in this information revolution.  It is ironic that the general public, of the whole world, is getting caught up in this return to self reliance just as our governments are growing more distant from the populations they are supposed to represent.  Many nations are now being torn apart by anarchists and religious fanatics so it is not difficult to understand why people are concerned.  The number of people that believe that our government or any government can provide the resources necessary to recover from disasters has never been lower.   The good news is with all this sharing of what is lacking and truly needed seems to also be spurring  the entrepenuerial spirits and new ways of cooking and finding clean water sources are popping up all over.  Solar power is being harnassed by everyone.  The inventors are providing what the people want, not what the inventors think they need.  Even housing options are changing and living “small” is teaching us to rethink what it is we need to have for comfort and sustenance.

We now have TV reality shows about survival and ‘prepper’ has become popular and no longer derrogatory.  There are solar chargers of every size and price range to power our devices.  Walmart, Sears and Cosco are selling prepackaged food in sizes to last a year or longer.  Food dryers sell as well as canning jars and people are sharing ways to survive without relying on modern conveniences.

Certainly the reality of life after the total collapse of societies is not going to be as easy as the majority would like to believe or can even imagine but the conversation is ongoing and more and more of our friends and neighbors no longer take it for granted that our futures will be as rosy as our pasts.  Even aging Baby Boomers are helping to push this movement as they discover that life after retirement will more than likely be more difficult than anticipated.  They, too, are part of this rapidly growing community of individuals taking the time to learn some old “backbreaking” skills.  This group of new learners will be able to once again pass on the skills of self suficiency and self reliance.


Portions of this essay were taken from an article writen for The New York Times by Andrew Martin on 11/11/2012.

Do You Know The Dangers Already In Your Community?

fema - regionsMany of the disasters faced by ourselves and fellow citizens will be brought about by infrastructure failures.  Here are some examples from around the county. Railroads that move Bakken crude will be required to tell states how much oil moves through their borders under emergency order by the Department of Transportation, on trains hauling one million gallons of crude from North Dakota each week which is about 35 cars.  All shipments currently exceed this amount.  The safety of the nation’s railroad safety and people living nearby are of paramount concern.  This notification is being sent to state’s emergency managers.  800,000 barrels are shipping on average every day versus 100,000 barrels in 2011.  Clearer guidlines are needed for implementation of this plan.

Really?  Is it a matter of who is authorized to challenge the railroads? the shipper?  There are accidents happening every week that are covered up by the media – or, at best, not released nationally.  People do not realize they are currently exposed to as much if not more danger than the pipeline oil companies and Canada want built. [authors Mike Tidwil and Robert Shields] The natural gas boom stemming from the use of fracking has the nation awash in natural gas and producers are pushing to export more for more money.  Moving and manufacturing of this gas has already resulted in explosions at natural gas facilities in Washington, Wyoming, West Virginia, and New Jersey.  First,why not stockpile the gas for use in our own country?  Second, slow production.  If it is there for the taking why does it all need done at once?  Dominion Resources, Inc. has a Maryland facility at Cove Point that could become the largest east coast exporter.  Without considering all of the risks of a facility in a populated area the Feds rushed through the application process without proper inquiry of the facts and risks and despite last September’s explosion at its Blue Racers Facility in West Virginia.  The Assistant Chief of the local all volunteer fire department resigned in protest over the lack of preparedness for any disasters. The New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 was discussing the integration of social media into emergency-preparation efforts feeling that it can assist with the public health and medical communities agility in responses to daily stresses, catastrophies and a resiliance for rapid recovery.  Social media has become so pervasive it makes sense to include them in sharing emergency plans and networks.  They feel that these media tools can link the public with day to day realtime information on how their community healthcare system is working.  In other words, notify the public of emergency room and clinic wait times in order to chose the closest facility with the quickest response to their needs.


Let’s Convert That Camping Kit into a Survival Kit

file9221307532197   First thing let me just say that my camping kit would never fit into such small packs even if there are two; second is I have not camped in more that 10 years.   But when I was camping I was pretty organized about it and since I did camp for so many years and it was so not cool to arrive without silverware or a knife.  It also helps if you keep a master list.  Funny thing is, many of us were jealous of one person’s list:  it was always thorough but she would let us could borrow from her.

The quick answer is yes, you can convert your camping kit into survival gear – just pick it up and go.  However I cannot carry a full backpack anymore so it must be time to get a large wagon.  This is assuming you need to leave your current location.  If not leaving, many of your camping items will be very useful.

Have matches in your camping gear?  You just might need those even if you have a lighter which can run out of fluid.  Then there is the toilet paper, can opener, clothesline and clothes pins, sleeping bag and tent, tarps, grill or stove.  Many of the items to convert that camping kit into a survival kit will come from the camp kitchen.  If you have a backpack for clothing and the minimum basics and it does not include a way to prepare food you will be sorry.  One solution is to have the Guardian Delux Food Storage kit which is packed with real prepackaged meals and water and only $239.00.  This will feed one person 14 days or two persons for a week.

During my failed attempt to video tape the interior of my camp gear box I found items I had forgotten about and discovered some left out!   The biggest is no water carrier.  I like the collapsible one with a handle you put out because it has a spigot, except I do not think I could carry one anymore.  I could pick it up but I am going to need a wagon or hand truck if I plan on going anywhere.  So one of the things I am discovering while cleaning and organizing my supplies is my body’s limitations.  This gal will be staying in place unless I hop on someone elses waggon or caravan.  I did find nice, quality ponchos in their own bag, but good boots or weather boots are too bulky to carry and my goofy short leg makes it very difficult to purchase and continue to wear any shoe not including boots.  That is another story.  Another important item I have been thinking about for a while is no hatchet or saw in my kit.  Even with physical limitations these tools are necessary if for nothing else but defense.

This has proven a good exercise for me in reminding myself of the items I do and do not have tucked away and what needs to be added to my campling gear for survival and how these items will be useful even if staying put.  How I store the camping kit is another important point.  As I write this I can see the need to place all of the above items together making it less difficult to forget any.

In summation you can convert some of your camping gear to survival gear as long as you realize that this gear has its limitations with size and packability being the most noticable.  This is another reason that prepare, prepare, prepare is the mantra.  Your supplies must meet your needs.  Downsizing is even necessary – no, extremely important – as a consideration in whether to pack or leave.

Are You Prepared For The Heat?


Are you prepared for the heat this year?  Even not having reached summer yet, the higher temperatures can still cause problems for all ages and groups.  as noted today by Survival MD.  It seems each year the warnings must be reissued as the public has a short memory for health related weather.  Animal groups have already been encouraging people to report when they see dogs or other pets left in hot cars, and I am sure the chronicles of babies left to die in vehicles will start again soon.

There are things you can do to lessen the effects of heat such as making sure window coverings are closed to the hot sun.  Outdoor awnings and louvers on and over windows can reduce heat entering the home by as much as 8o% and not being in fire country means trees can shade homes from the strong summer heat.  Be sure ceiling fans are on, and have iced drinks to help lower the body’s core temperature.  I prefer frozen fruit bars or ice cream treats.  When I worked in a warehouse we would take ice packs and stuff them in our clothing or those koolaide type frozen treats in a tube down our shirts.  Sounds silly but it  worked!  If I overheat doing yardwork I will often come in and lay down under a ceiling fan with an ice pack under my neck or lower back.  Believe it or not it can even help to put your feet in a pan of cool water.  A tub of cool water to soak in and bring the body temperature down is a great treat before bed and it can help you get to sleep even in a warm room.

At there are guidelines for preparing for and avoiding heat related issues.  The heat kills by pushing the body beyond its limits.  By overexposing yourself to the heat or over exercising for your age and physical condition you can become sick with heat stroke.  Some signs include not sweating, dizziness, nausea or feeling suffocated.  Trust me, I live in a home with no central air and the evading high heat becomes an obsession if you have ever had a bad reaction.  Sun poisoning – getting a red flush or rash after exposure, or feeling weak and tired for a day or two are real symptoms you will recognize and need to pay attention to.  Heat can kill.  The elderly, the very young and the sick or overweight individuals are the most vulnerable and need to be reminded of the dangers in becoming and staying too warm.

Build a kit.  Towels to soak in a cooler or just cool water, to drape over the head or neck.  I used a wet linen towel on my legs while mowing with my riding mower to keep my upper legs from sun poisoning.  You can also block the sun with zinc oxide or wear linen or cotton long sleeves and pants or skirts.  They even manufacture SPF clothing.  It is hard for some to wear a hat and it does take getting used to but not feeling your head burning under the sun or shading your eyes to see will disappear with a good hat.  Then there are sunglasses.  Everyone should wear them in the sun to protect our eyes.  Ever get a headache after being on a boat all day?  Yep, that was caused by over exposure from the sun reflecting off the water.

So as in other life situations we must ask ourselves:  are you prepared – -  for the heat?

Let’s Talk About Your Personal B.O.B./Or What You Won’t Leave Behind

Yarn and knitting needles_15259915250_crossword_puzzle_300_xlargeHobbies, Craft & Skills tag cloud final resizedplaying-cards-25654135


As an adult the thought of spending hours in a shelter is mind numbing.  To combat this we all have some objects special enough to us not to forget to put in the B.O.B.(bug out bag).  I cannot fathom what a chore it will be to keep children busy so I will ignore that side of the topic.  I would not leave behind my crossword puzzles –  I can spend hours just advancing through my latest book, can lay it aside and come back for more.  What item/items would you not leave behind?

Many men and women knit or crochet, crossstitch or embroider to keep their hands busy, pass the time and actually have something to show for it.  I am sure most of us have noticed that premade kits often come with a pack of cards so when the battery in your hand held media device dies you can still play solitaire.  How about 52 card pickup?  Concentration or War?  Seriously, some know endless games that are possible with a pack of cards.  Perhaps a book of card games would be a good item for our bags.  In a full shelter I am sure a euchre party could be pulled together.

I, myself, knit.  Very few items but it does keep me busy until my arthritic fingers start shouting NO!  Yarn can take up a lot of space but is not heavy and if kept in balls take up less space.  Another I would not leave behind is toothpicks,who knew?  Anyone with spine or back problems needs to consider taking their own pillow.  This more closely falls under comfort but certainly is what you won’t leave behind if it can add to your comfort and well-being.

If you have a family it seems it would be easier to take along hobby materials if each person has their own bag.  Every member could take one item that can be shared, but as a single individual it is more important to whittle down the choices to items easily added and carried in your B.O.B.

Here’s one that is controversial but to the users not to be forgotten:  cigarettes.  I have switched to electronic cigarettes because I smoke very little any more and all I usually need for about a week’s time is two batteries and flavor refills.  Now I would need snacks which I know should already be in my bag because I have become a serial snacker without the cigarettes.  Not controversial is a book or books, notepad and pencil or pen and maybe a magazine or periodical.  And for us serial bloggers and social media users a tablet/laptop and even our phones.  This is also a good time to think about independent power sources for those same toys.

To recap it is necessary for each individual to prepare or prepack those items that you won’t leave behind.  It may seem trivial now but if you are stuck in your auto or in a shelter these personal wants and distractions may be crucial to your wellbeing.  If you do not have personal hobbies it would still be wise to consider what you won’t leave behind today so that it will help your sanity tomorrow.  Always prepare and practice.

My Experience At The 2014 Animal Care Expo

Group of pets sitting in front of white background


This was the second year I was invited to attend and work at the 2014 Animal Care Expo.  I go with a dear friend that is part of a business that supplies shelters, service providers and lots of others involved in animal care and rescue.  We were lucky to be in Daytona, Florida, beachside!   We had lots of time to play and worked hard at the expo meeting and greeting and selling, of course.  It was rather magical for this pet owner to see all the people who care so much for all of our animal friends.

What I really want to say is that the ASPCA,  the Humane Society of the U.S.A., and so many more hard working groups are a true part of the prepping community.   There are rescue groups for any type of animal:  gerbils, hamsters, mice and rats, prairie dogs, dogs and cats, reptiles, birds and on and on.  These groups are forever in need of financial support as well as volunteers to work for the over abundance of lost, misplaced, and unwanted critters.  But these are also the very same persons that are geared up and prepared to meet the next disaster much as the Red Cross.  After Kartina everyone realized that this was a very vital service to communities in need directly after and moving onward after all community emergencies.  I do not think any of us are very aware of how many of our friends, neighbors and conmmunity and independent groups stand behind pet owners in the desire to find, keep and care for all of the creatures we co-habitate with.

Please be aware of these national organizations and support them as they support us:

  ASPCA – Disaster preparedness and response,  Emergency sheltering

  Humane Society of the United States – Animal Rescue Team

   Rescue Central – an online resource for rescue groups worldwide

Okay, I’m off of the soapbox now.  Be sure to love all of your pets and support others that love them unconditionally.


So Many Resources So Little Time For All!


Preparedness.  This means so much to so many different groups it is good there are so many resource to chose.  If you are turned off by the idea or tag of prepper or survivalist then don’t use them.  If you like to be sure your cubbards are stocked, your utilities are tagged, you can do basic first aid and like the idea of your own garden then you are prepared I bet without needing a tag.  Any person or household that takes responsibility for their own safety under  weather or disaster situations is probably prepared and just needs a little updating on  what might be needed.  Who would have thought 10 years ago that we would all be scrambling for ways to charge our phones and devices during power outages?  Those kinds of updating.

Preparedness is a state of mind.  It is very helpful to be physically prepared with food and clothing and a source of power but will all be for naught if you and those around you cannot be calm when something happens.  No one can truly say how they will respond during an emergency but thinking about it before hand certainly cannot hurt.  Fire alarms, smoke detectors and the reminders we receive from radio and television help keep us on our toes, if we pay attention.  If you have ever been frightened by a storm then you can use that fear to decide how to control it.

Okay, maybe not everyone, but the resources are there if we take the time to look for them.  You can certainly search the internet and find hundreds and thousands of not only books but websites ranging from bloggers to the Weather Channel.  Here are some things I discovered when doing a little research of my own.  The Center For Disease Control and Prevention has an A – Z  emergency directory at emergency.cdc.govand they can also be found on Facebook, Twitter and RSS.  Or  In America’s Preperation:  Preparing for Disasters One At A Time it is noted that 9 out of 10 expect a world disaster to occur in the next 25 years and more than 1/2 are not ready.  So what are we all waiting on?

This is why you will hear the mantra exercise, exercise, exercise.  It helps all of us keep more calm if we have at least gone over in our minds what we could do.  If you look up emergency preparedness you might find:  Boy Scouts of America; Everready; ASCPA; American Vetrinarian Medical Association; Administration on Aging; The Church of Latter Day Saints; Womens  And one I found very interesting:  your local pharmacists.