Essential to Survival Food Storage: Eat and Rotate

Even when stored correctly, foods do not last forever. If they did, that would certainly make our lives easier. But they don’t. Therefore, there is a concept you must follow in order to make sure that your survival food stores don’t go bad before you get to them. It is referred to as “eat and rotate.”

Put simply, this means that you should always be eating your survival food stores, then replacing your inventory. It can be hard, at first, to get past the idea that you shouldn’t be eating your survival food storage, and the idea that you should just be hoarding it. But slowly and steadily, make sure you talk yourself through this notion, because it is important to regularly not only eat and rotate your foods, but also make sure you know how to cook and prepare your survivalist foods before the time comes that you must rely on them. The key is to rotate so that you are replenishing your food stores constantly.

The “eat and rotate” rule also addresses another issue that is very important to survivalist food storage. This is the fact that what we store for survival should be things that we are eating as part of our normal diets. If we must suddenly transition to our “normal” diet to a whole bunch of foods we never, ever eat, then our bodies will not acclimate well. So our survival diets should closely resemble our “normal” diets, (as much as possible).

The very first key to the “eat and rotate” rule is that you must make sure that all of your survival food stores are clearly organized and labeled. You should never have to spend time hunting for items. Some people prefer to store like items together. Others prefer to store one full day’s worth of food together. Each day’s food can then be boxed and stored together. It is a good idea to store items together that have like expiration dates. I find that this is actually more helpful than grouping items by food type in terms of insuring that nothing expires before I get to it. Realistically, canned foods will last a lot longer than the expiration date that is listed on them. However, if you want to get the optimum level of nutrients, you should not exceed this date by far.

A reliable labeling method will be your best friend when it comes to rotating your food storage. You should always, always label food items with the date when you freeze or can them. You should know exactly what is in your food storage at all times.

If you open a large container of food, such as a 5-gallon bucket of rice, it is time to then break the rice down into smaller receptacles, such as quart mason jars. This will help food items to stay fresh once you have broken their storage seal. The same thing goes for dehydrated foods, such as peanut butter. If you break a large container of it down into smaller jars, it will help each “batch” to stay fresh, rather than tasting old and stale by the time to get to the bottom.

Keep a running list at all times of what you are eating out of your survival food storage. This way, when you go to the store or it’s time to do your own canning, you know exactly what you need to replace.

19 Different Studies Link GMO Foods to Organ Damage

GM ingredients are currently a frighteningly common thing to find in processed foods. As I noted in my recent blog Quick Facts About GMOs, genetically modified ingredients can currently be found in as much as 80% of all packaged foods in the United States.

We should be outraged about this! 80% is the vast majority, and the really scary and sad thing is that these products are not labeled in any way to let you know that they contain GM ingredients. There is not a law mandating that such a label must be used. And the reason is that lawmakers still continue to argue that there is not enough evidence that GMOs are harmful to humans in order to warrant that they be specifically be identified.

Now, I recently came across some information that I hope will change this. An article at organic authority.com has stated that 19 different animal-based studies suggest a link between the consumption of GMOs and organ damage. 19! Really, how many more studies could it possibly take to prove the danger of GMOs?

According to the article, a new report that was published in the March 1, 2011 issue of Environmental Sciences Europe has revealed a connection between genetically modified foods and significant risk of developing organ disruptions, particularly in the liver and kidneys.

A number of male rats that were fed Monsanto’s MON863 corn developed smaller kidneys with significant inflammation among other markers of disruptive kidney filtration and function problems. Some animals experienced changes in metabolic rates in the liver. Female genital cancers increased in the second generation, and some of the animals who were fed genetically modified organisms had altered body weights in at least one gender, which is considered to be a very strong predictor of side effects displaying in various organs related to toxins in the diet.

One of the most significant parts of this study, in my opinion, is this documentation that the rats passed illnesses on to their babies, even though their babies were not the ones to eat the GM food. This means that even if GM foods are made illegal in the near future, we have already been eating them and are already at risk of passing genetic alterations and/or illnesses on to our children.

Should we all be mad about this? YES! We should all be very, very angry about this. It is important for all of us to continue to take a stand against Monsanto, and a stand against GM crops.

For more information, please visit the following resources:

Millions Against Monsanto

Say No To GMOs

Petition against Monsanto

20 Signs That A Horrific Global Food Crisis Is Coming

I am posting a re-post here. I would encourage you to do the same, because this information is worth spreading. I have acquired this list from M.D. Creekmore at The Survivalist Blog. Its original source is the Economic Collapse Blog.

  1. According to the World Bank, 44 million people around the globe have been pushed into extreme poverty since last June because of rising food prices. This was documented by The New York Times in February 2011.
  2.  The world is losing topsoil at an astounding rate.  In fact, according to Lester Brown in Foreign Policy, “one third of the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming through natural processes”.
  3. Due to U.S. ethanol subsidies, almost a third of all corn grown in the United States is now used for fuel.  This is putting a lot of stress on the price of corn.
  4. Due to a lack of water, some countries in the Middle East find themselves forced to almost totally rely on other nations for basic food staples.  For example, it is being projected that there will be no more wheat production in Saudi Arabia by the year 2012.
  5. Water tables all over the globe are being depleted at an alarming rate due to “overpumping”.  According to the World Bank, there are 130 million people in China and 175 million people in India that are being fed with grain with water that is being pumped out of aquifers faster than it can be replaced.  So what happens once all of that water is gone?
  6. In the United States, the systematic depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer could eventually turn “America’s Breadbasket” back into the “Dust Bowl.”
  7. Diseases such as UG99 Wheat Rust and Mad Soy Disease are wiping out increasingly large segments of the world food supply
  8. The tsunami and subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan have rendered vast agricultural areas in that nation unusable.  In fact, there are many that believe that eventually a significant portion of northern Japan will be considered to be uninhabitable.  Not only that, many are now convinced that the Japanese economy, the third largest economy in the world, is likely to totally collapse as a result of all this.
  9. The price of oil may be the biggest factor on this list.  The way that we produce our food is very heavily dependent on oil.  The way that we transport our food is very heavily dependent on oil.  When you have skyrocketing oil prices, our entire food production system becomes much more expensive.  If the price of oil continues to stay high, we are going to see much higher food prices and some forms of food production will no longer make economic sense at all.
  10. At some point the world could experience a very serious fertilizer shortage.  According to scientists with the Global Phosphorus Research Initiative, the world is not going to have enough phosphorous to meet agricultural demand in just 30 to 40 years.
  11. Food inflation is already devastating many economies around the globe.  For example, India is dealing with an annual food inflation rate of 18 percent.
  12. According to the United Nations, the global price of food reached a new all-time high in February.
  13. According to the World Bank, the global price of food has risen 36% over the past 12 months.
  14. The commodity price of wheat has approximately doubled since last summer.
  15. The commodity price of corn has also about doubled since last summer.
  16. The commodity price of soybeans is up about 50% since last June.
  17. The commodity price of orange juice has doubled since 2009.
  18. There are about 3 billion people around the globe that live on the equivalent of 2 dollars a day or less and the world was already on the verge of economic disaster before this year even began.
  19. 2011 has already been one of the craziest years since World War 2.  Revolutions have swept across the Middle East, the United States has gotten involved in the civil war in Libya, Europe is on the verge of a financial meltdown and the U.S. dollar is dying.  None of this is good news for global food production.
  20. There have been persistent rumors of shortages at some of the biggest suppliers of emergency food in the United States.  The following is an excerpt from a recent “special alert” posted on Raiders News Network:

Look around you. Read the headlines. See the largest factories of food, potassium iodide, and other emergency product manufacturers literally closing their online stores and putting up signs like those on Mountain House’s Official Website and Thyrosafe’s Factory Webpage that explain, due to overwhelming demand, they are shutting down sales for the time being and hope to reopen someday.

It is true that most American believe that they will never have to go hungry. They believe that their grocery store shelves will always be stocked with affordable food and they will never have to provide for themselves. People believe this because ignorance is bliss. Please, don’t be ignorant. As always, I encourage you to be smart and be prepared.

Quick Facts About GMOs

Did you know…

-The process of genetically modifying foods is an entirely man-created process. GMOs do not occur within nature, or by means of traditional cross breeding. “Hybrid” and GMO are not the same thing. GM bears no resemblance to traditional plant breeding methods.

- Most GM crops have been engineered to withstand higher applications of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides. For example, Monsanto has engineered crops that can withstand high doses of their chemical weed killer called RoundUp. This means that an entire field can be sprayed with large amount of RoundUp and everything in it will die except for the GM crop.

-Currently there is no law dictating that food products containing GMOs must be labeled as such.

-According to the FDA, 93% of soy, 78% of cotton, and 63% of corn is currently genetically modified.

-Approximately 80% of all packaged foods in U.S. grocery stores contain GMOs.

-Only one study has ever been published on the direct effects of humans eating GM foods. It was never followed up.

-Animal studies have revealed that mice that have been fed a variety of GM foods have experienced a range of health ailments, ranging from stomach ulcerations to allergic reactions to dysfunctional immune systems.

-Advocates of GMOs claim that they are just as safe to eat as “normal” crops. This is an unfounded statement, because no long term tests have been conducted to study the effects of GMO ingestion. Thousands of people could be ill and dying- it’s just not being studied or documented.

-In 2001, a killer mouse virus was accidentally created during a genetic engineering experiment. Genetic engineering can result in the creation of dangerous new viruses and bacteria.

-Genetic engineering is an imprecise practice. It is impossible to accurately guide the insertion of a new gene. This can lead to unpredictable results.

-Presently, certified organic foods are the only ones that you can rest assured are not GM foods. However, even organic foods can be contaminated by pollen drift from GM crops. This is why we must continue the fight against the production and use of GM crops!

Gardening Tips for Fresh Salad Veggies

 

During the winter, I like to tap into my stores of canned and pickled vegetables from my garden. However come spring, there is nothing I enjoy more than harvesting fresh vegetables to make a big, garden fresh salad. (Yes, real men do eat salads.) If you are a salad lover, too, here are some tips for your garden.

Plant greens in April- April is a great time to plant salad green such as lettuces, spinach, kale, and even broccoli. These plants all do well with warm days and cool nights.

Space out your sowings- Lettuce and other salad greens grow very quickly. So you can continuously sow lettuce seeds throughout the spring to have a fresh supply for several weeks. Try planting lettuce seeds every three weeks or so throughout the spring. Take a break during the hot summer months, then continue planting lettuce seeds again in the late summer.

Plant fast-growing radishes- Radishes are excellent for those who are looking for a bit of (practically) instant gratification. They go from seed to harvest quite quickly, and are great for a variety of applications, (as you may remember from my radish blog from last year). Green onions are another fast growing salad crop.

Plant a variety of greens- Don’t stop at predictable Bibb lettuce and Iceberg lettuce. Try something a little different, such as my favorite Red Salad Bowl lettuce. The leaves are large and crisp, and a pretty deep scarlet bronze color. Don’t forget about the super nutrient powerhouse spinach, too. A great variety here is Giant Nobel spinach, which is a very reliable producer of large, smooth leaves.

Remember to water- When you plant greens, make sure to keep their soil moist so that they do not develop a bitter flavor. All leafy greens crave water– but don’t give them so much that the soil becomes swampy.

Harvest strategically- When you harvest lettuce and spinach leaves, cut the leaves off about 2-3 inches from the base of the plant. This way, the plant will produce new leaves, and you can get several harvests from the same plant.

Harvest in the morning- Lettuce and other leafy greens are sturdy and crisp first thing in the morning. If you harvest in the evening, after an entire day of stress, the leaves are more likely to be wilted and tired.

Thin your seedlings- Once you have planted your lettuce seeds, the lettuce plants may come up crowded together. In this case, it is best to pull out some of these seedlings. This is a process referred to as “thinning,” and it will help to insure that your remaining plants have enough room to grow. Once your seedlings have sprouted, thin them to be about 2 inches apart. The good news is that you can eat the baby greens from the seedlings that you have to pull.

Check for snails at night- Slugs and snails may try to eat your salad greens. Your best defense in an organic garden is to check your garden at night, and simply pull snails and slugs off with a gloved hand.

GMO Foods Are On the Rise

Yesterday evening I read a statistic that frightened me. I was reading a publication called Taste for Life, which stated that as much as 93% of all soy that is produced in the United States has been genetically engineered. 93%. That is so close to 100% that I find it terrifying and appalling.

Just as of January 2011, we have even more reason to be concerned about GMOs. This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has given the green light for the production of genetically modified alfalfa. It seems that they now wish to ignore all of the possible harmful effects to both human health and the environment that were previously documented.

See, you may think of alfalfa as just those hairy looking little sprouts that you see on the salad bar every now and then. But alfalfa is something a lot bigger than that within the world of agriculture. This is because in the United States, alfalfa is primarily used for cattle feed. Is is the fourth largest field crop in the U.S, behind corn, soybeans, and wheat. 20 million acres are planted with alfalfa in the U.S. each year.

The national leader in GMO technology, Monsanto, has engineered a type of alfalfa that can resist its chemical weed killer Roundup. And yes, now this GMO alfalfa may soon be planted all over the country. I mean this quite literally, because currently alfalfa is grown is almost every single state.

 Why are GMOs bad?

As far as environmental concerns go, this is big. Little research has been done about how genetically modified organisms affect our delicate ecosystem. However, we do definitely know that they have the ability to spread in the wild. GMO canola plants have spread like crazy over the last few years. And the laws surrounding GMOs are utterly ridiculous. Did you know, for example, that is GMO seeds from Farmer #1’s field blow over to Farmer #2’s field, then Farmer #2 can be sued for theft? It’s true. Dangers to the environment aside, it’s pretty messed up that this is what GMOs (and Monsanto) are doing to the farming industry.

As far as human health concerns go, well we don’t really know how GMOs affect us because adequate human health testing has not been done on them. In mice, a diet including GM foods caused stomach ulcerations, allergic reactions, enlarged livers, and disturbances to their immune systems and their internal organs. In humans, the same is possible, but we really don’t even know how high the risk is, or how bad these health problems may be. You know what is a scary way to find out, though? By introducing GMOs into our diet by way of conventional dairy and meat products, which is exactly what will happen as soon as cows are fed GMO alfalfa.

Fortunately, the Center for Food Safety has announced its plans to file a lawsuit that will fight the USDA’s decision to deregulate GMO alfalfa. Their lawsuit is definitely one that is worthy of our utmost support. We must continue to fight to keep GMOs out of our food.

For more information on stopping the spread of GMOS please visit nongmoproject.org and saynotogmos.org.

One last thought to ponder on GMOs… Research has shown that when foods grown using genetically modified organisms are placed in the wild, wild animals do not eat them. Don’t you think we have something to learn from this?

Easy Herbs to Grow Indoors

One of the gardening questions that I am asked most frequently is, “what can I plant if I don’t have a yard?” Sometimes when I answer, I get a little bit of a skeptical look, because most people know that my wife and I maintain a full one-acre crisis garden. But I haven’t always been so fortunate as to have this land to grow on. I have experimented with growing indoors and on found plots of land and I can tell you honestly, it is possible and not terribly difficult.

If you have only a rooftop to work with, you can create an urban crisis garden. If you are limited to a small porch, balcony, or patio, you’ll find that many vegetables, including tomatoes and lettuces, grow really well in pots. If you truly have no outdoor space, and your garden is confined to a few small pots on a windowsill in your home, then herbs are an excellent option for you.

You may think of herbs as just a seasoning for your food, but they are so much more than this. Fresh herbs are an excellent source of antioxidants. Common fresh herbs such as sage, oregano, peppermint, and thyme are all chock full of healthy antioxidants. Plus, herbs have incredibly powerful medicinal properties. In fact, the herbs that are included in the Survival Herb Bank have the ability to treat a huge range of illnesses and ailments with no harmful side effects.

Herbs are awesome for a great number of reasons. So if you want to try growing them indoors, here are a few easy types to try:

  1. Spearmint and Peppermint- Mint grows so well and is so hardy that it is almost like a weed. One of the things that I like a lot about mint is that it is good even for people who do not like to cook. You can just throw some fresh leaves into a pitcher of iced tea. Mint is great at calming an upset stomach and is delicious and refreshing in every application.
  2. Chives- Chives are one of the very easiest things that you can grow indoors. They don’t even require much sunlight. To stimulate new growth, all you need to do is cut off about 1/3 of their tops. Their slight peppery, oniony flavor is a great healthy seasoning.
  3. Parsley- Parsley doesn’t require much sunlight either, and is great for both cooking and medicine. If you have a large bunch of parsley, try using it in pesto instead of basil. My dog Hatchet loves parsley, too. You can give parsley to dogs to help calm an upset stomach or freshen their breath.
  4. Rosemary- Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs because of its wonderful piney fragrance. It is so good baked into bread or corn muffins. Plus, it has amazing medicinal properties and can be used for indigestion, and to treat poor circulation and muscle pain.When growing rosemary indoors, leave the soil on the dry side and make sure not to over water it.
  5. Oregano- Oregano is such a classic herb. I associate it with Italian food and therefore automatically find it comforting. Oregano is also powerfully healthy for you. Wild oregano oil is just as effective at treating bronchitis as conventional antibiotics- without the side effects. If you grow it indoors, make sure to put it in a sunny spot because it requires about 6 hours of sunlight per day.
  6. Thyme- Thyme is another herb that requires a good deal of sunlight. Try to give it about 6-8 hours of sun if you grow it indoors. A nice thing about thyme is that there are many different nice varieties from which to choose, such as lemon thyme and golden thyme.
  7. Basil- Basil, like thyme, comes in many different wonderful varieties. Some are more sweet, while others are more spicy. Basil is one of my favorite herbs to use in cooking, but it is also great raw- you can toss the fresh leaves right into a salad. If you grow basil indoors in the winter, be patient. It grows slowly.

How Does Radiation Get Into Food and Water?

Image source: Mike Morpeth

God bless the people of the country of Japan, as they continue to cope with the aftermath of the deadly earthquake and tsunami that struck them earlier this month.

Immediately, Japan’s residents began to face a food shortage and near-empty grocery store shelves, as depicted here in the above photo from Digital Journal, and the below one from CNN.com. With nearly no gasoline available, food simply could not be transported to stores. Thirst and hunger have been common problems since March 11.

Image credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

Now, when Japan is already facing food shortages, they are facing yet another problem with their food supply. Eleven different types of produce, along with milk, and city tap water, have all tested positive for radiation. Some samples of spinach tested contained as much as 27 times the legal amount of radiation.
 
So the next logical question here is, how did this radiation get into the food, water, and milk? Because of the very nature of the word “radiation,” and the fact that it is invisible, it is easy to imagine it traveling through the air in waves, as from a microwave, through walls and buildings. But this is not the case. What actually happens is that radioactive particles(of which there are 4 main types) bind to particles of dust in the air, and can travel for a distance through the air before settling to the ground. This means that radioactive particles, such as such as cesium-137 and iodine-131, that escaped from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant traveled through the air, then settled on surrounding crop fields. Crops with a large surface area above the earth, such as spinach leaves, make them more likely to accumulate dangerous levels of radiation. And it does not get into milk by way of the actual milk carton or even the milk processing plant. It gets into milk because radiation settles on the grass, then the cows eat the grass.
 
Experts say that little is known about the long-term effects of consuming radiation on food and in water. Many sources say that the amount of radiation that people could intake from eating produce from the Fukushima prefecture, and others that surround the nuclear power plant, is not likely to cause health problems. However, understandably, many people are frightened, and avoiding purchasing the items in question, such as spinach and milk.
 
This is, in my opinion, yet another example of when and why a survival food source is an absolute necessity. Under normal circumstances, rice is a cheap and reliable commodity. However, today rice may become scarce in Japan, as radiation continues to be a threat, and the Fukushima prefecture accounts for 4.5% of Japan’s total rice crop.
 
Store rice, beans, honey, water and other staples when you can. Keep them in a safe place, and store them for longevity, according to the basics outlined here in my How to Correctly Store Your Food blog. This simple and inexpensive act can save your life when the seemingly reliable grocery store shelves are empty, and food that is on the shelves may be poisoned. If you haven’t already started your store of survival food, start it today.

ZPrepared.com- Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse

I recently came upon this website while reading up in my favorite survivalist blogs. ZPrepared, it’s called. And according to the website,

Zprepared is a group of like-minded individuals who feel that it’s hard enough to survive the endless hordes of the walking dead, so people should have the option to do so with the coolest gear available. We find all kinds of gear that will not only help you survive, but to survive in style. Make the zombie apocalypse more comfortable and stylish…ZPrepared.

So I got a kick out of browsing through a variety of their different products. I must say, some of them are quite clever. Like this bacon in a can, which has is already fully cooked, required no preparation, and has a 10 year shelf life. Then there’s the Mayday Emergency Food Ration, which is a small bar of food that contains a total of 3,600 calories. That could sustain you for several days, and could fit right in your pocket.

Then, as I was browsing, low and behold, what did I find there listed right between Zombie caution signs and a Zombie-proof bunker that is for sale in the UK? None other than the reliable Survival Seed Bank. On the site, Hudson Steele writes,

If you’re anything like us, you’re preparing for the long haul. That means a fortified shelter, lots of supplies, and a plan to sustain yourself once the dust settles a little. When your food stores run out you’re going to need a way to sustain yourself, and other survivors you’ve collected along the way. When the going gets tough, the though get GROWING. Most people don’t realize that the Produce you buy in the grocery store are of a Hybrid variety, meaning you can’t just plant the seeds from a Golden Delicious and expect to grow an apple tree. We recommend having your own supply of self germinating, survival ready seeds to grow your own crops. The Survival Seed Bank fits the bill perfectly. This kit comes with all the basics for starting your own renewable food source. It features 22 varieties of Open Pollinated “Super Seeds” that yield a full acre of nutrient-dense food crop. They’re individually vacuum packed for maximum shelf life; up to 20 years at 70 degrees, and up to 100 years when frozen so they’ll be ready to plant when you are. The kit also includes a nifty bottle of “Nitro Seed Starter Solution” to help jump-start your crop and a handy manual for rookies. All you need to supply is the land, water, ample light, and the manpower to make it happen. While the rest of the world is scrounging for leftover cans of baked beans, you’ll be feasting on fresh healthy veggies grown with your own hands.

Hudson, I really don’t think I could have put it any better myself. Regardless of whether you think an impending Zombie attack is fact or fiction, doesn’t this product description hit home?

Look at all the good, fine folks in Japan now, for example. Grocery store shelves are, for the most part, empty. There is scarcely any gas available, so it is not reasonable to expect food to be transported to stores in the near future. More than 160,000 people have been evacuated from a 12-mile zone in an attempt to avoid the fallout from an impending nuclear disaster. Really, the situation there is heartbreaking. Because how many of these people do you think abandoned their homes with a supply of survival food in tow? How many of these families could turn to the harvest of their crisis gardens when the earthquake struck, and they faced rolling blackouts and empty grocery store shelves? Probably not many.

The message here is clear. If it’s not Zombies, it will be an earthquake. Or a tsunami. Or a tornado. Or a flood. We must all be prepared for these occurrences, which can happen at any time. It is spring now, and the ideal time to plant. So go get busy in your crisis garden.

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 5: Conducting a Soil Test

 

Not all soil is the same. Some soil is mostly made up of clay, while some may be mostly sand. Plenty of people who are reading this blog right now are looking for gardening tips because their soil is very rocky. Or others may have chalky or silty soil. Depending on where you live, what you are used to as “dirt” can vary greatly from what someone else may have to work with.

When preparing to plant a garden, one of the most important things you can do is get acquainted with your soil. Healthy soil is what I consider to be the #1 most important factor in whether you will have a successful garden. It is the lifeline for all of your plants. Any time that you wish to feed your plants, what you really need to do is feed your soil.

So to get to know your soil, you’ll want to conduct two basic tests:

 (1) Test #1- The Squeeze Test

The squeeze test is the easiest way to test the texture of your soil. This is essential because in order for plants to thrive, you must insure that your soil has the right texture to enable water, oxygen, and nutrients to flow through it.

Go out into your yard/gardening space and pick up a handful of your dirt. Now give it a gentle squeeze. If the soil clumps together in your hand, then falls apart when you poke it, this is ideal. This means that you have loamy soil, which is ideal. Loamy soil retains moisture but also drains well. If the handful of dirt doesn’t hold together at all, this means it is sandy. Sand drains well but doesn’t really hold in nutrients. If it holds together and does not fall apart when you poke it, this means your soil is mostly clay. Clay is typically rich in nutrients, but does not drain well.

Now if you have sandy soil, it cannot be transformed into loamy soil. This is to say that the actual particles of sand cannot be turned into something else. However, you can add to your soil to change its overall texture. This way, you can add other particles around the sand particles in order to allow the soil to overall hold in nutrients.

To amend sandy soil, your goal is to add in organic matter. This will help the sandy soil to drain more slowly, and to hold on to nutrients in order for your plants to be able to use them. Amend sandy soil with organic matter such as cow manure, worm casings, shredded bark, peat moss, compost, or a combination of any of these things.

To amend clay soil, use the same method of adding organic matter. This will help to break up the compacted particles of the clay, and therefore allow water to drain through it, and oxygen to flow in it. Aim for a ratio of 50% dirt to 50% organic matter.

With both clay and sand, make sure to till your garden area before adding the organic matter. “Tilling” means that you will be loosening the soil at a depth of about 12 inches. You can use a shovel, spading fork, or hoe for this task. Mix in the organic matter well, rather than just laying it on top. (Laying something on top is referred to as “mulching” rather than “amending.”)

 (2) Test #2- The Soil Ph Test

All soil, regardless of its texture, has an acidity level. This can be measured by testing the Ph level of your soil. Ph is tested on a scale of zero to fourteen. Zero is the most acidic, whereas fourteen is the most alkaline, and seven is considered to be neutral. Most plants grow best in soil with a fairly neutral Ph that is between six and seven. If plants need a slightly more acidic or alkaline soil, the seed packet will specify this. For example, some root vegetables grow well in soil with a Ph of about 5.5. Plants that like “very acidic” soil thrive in soil at a Ph level of 5.0, whereas plants that like “very alkaline” soil do well in soil at about 8.0. So really, you don’t want your soil to be further on the scale than this in either direction.

To test the Ph level of your soil, I would recommend purchasing an at-home test kit at your local gardening store. These typically do not cost any more than $6. If you do not wish to conduct your own test, you can contact your local cooperative extension, as many will offer soil tests for free. Home tests are quite accurate as long as you follow instructions closely.

When attempting to change the Ph level of your soil, it is very important to first recognize that there is no immediate solution. You may need to use a combination of amendments, or apply several treatments over time. There is no quick fix or instant cure. It is best to start amending a whole growing season before you intend to plant.

With that being said…

*If you have acidic soil– add amendments to raise the Ph level, such as ground limestone or wood ashes. Avoid “quick limestone” as this tends to burn out your  plants.

*If you have alkaline soil– add amendments to lower the Ph level, such as pine needles, shredded leaves, sawdust, sulfur or peat moss. These will all add acid to your soil.

Compost has the amazing ability to bring either type of soil to a more neutral level. So as a general rule, it is always wise to be continuously adding compost to your soil.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.