Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 4: Seed Starting Tips

I just love the month of March. Daylight savings is coming up and the days are getting longer, the frigid weather is beginning to melt away, and the trees are starting to bud. March is also the official start to the spring planting season in many hardiness zones, including here in zone 7b. There are many types of fruits, vegetables and flowers that can be direct sown in March. My favorites are listed here in my blog from last year, What Can I Plant In March?

For seeds that are not quite ready to go in the ground yet, or ones that do not have a lot of success when they are sown directly in your garden, March is a good time to start your seeds. The term “seed starting” refers to the process of  planting your seeds indoors, in a safe and temperature controlled environment. Then, once the seeds have sprouted into seedlings, they can be transplanted outside into your garden. There are several good reasons to start your seeds indoors, including:

  • Seed starting gives you a head start. You can plant seeds inside while the ground outdoors is still hard, and while there is still the danger of seedling-killing frost in your area.
  • Vegetables that like cooler temperatures, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, and head lettuce will grow better when started indoors. This is because they can go from transplant to harvest before the hottest days of the summer set in.
  • If you buy seedlings from a garden store, it is much, much more expensive than growing your own seedlings then transplanting them. Plus, when you buy seedlings, you are limited to the mainstream varieties that are available. When you start your own seeds, you can use any seeds you want.

Now depending on where you live, you may be able to start your seeds right away, or you may have a little ways to go. The best way to tell when you are ready to start your seeds is to count backwards from when you typically receive your last frost.

  • Eggplants and peppers- Start your seeds 7 weeks before your last frost date. Transplant the seedlings outdoors 2 weeks after you receive your last frost.
  • Tomatoes- Start tomato seeds 6-8 weeks before your last frost date. Tomato seedlings can be planted outdoors as soon as your last chance of frost has passed.
  • Squash, cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins- All of these plants generally like heat. You can start your seeds indoors 3 weeks before the last frost date. Wait 2 weeks until after the last chance of frost has passed to transplant your seedlings outdoors.
  • Corn- Start corn seeds 5 weeks before your last frost date. Transplant the seedlings as soon as the last chance of frost has passed.
  • Broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage- These are cool season vegetables, so they can actually go in the ground up to  a month before the last chance of frost has passed. These cool season veggies can be started indoors 5-7 weeks before you want to transplant them. Then the seedlings can be transplanted in your garden 4-6 weeks before the last frost.

For more tips on how to start your seeds, please visit my articles:

Tips for Starting Your Garden With Seeds

Tips for Growing Heirloom Tomatoes From Seeds

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Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 3: Installing a Rain Barrel

 

We all know that April showers bring May flowers. And if you have a rain barrel, you can stretch those beneficial showers even further. A rain barrel is a device that collects and stores rain water, therefore allowing you to recycle it in a variety of ways. It is an efficient device that is earth-friendly and easy to maintain. If your city has any type of water restrictions, then a rain barrel is a must for you in order to be able to water your plants. It is also a great way to know that, should you be without running water, you will have a stored supply available to you. Just one single rain barrel can store up to 80 gallons of rain water. I probably would not recommend drinking water from a rain barrel yourself. But collected rain water is perfectly sufficient drinking water for your survival garden.

You can purchase a rain barrel at pretty much any major lawn and gardening store for less than $100. Or, if you are a big do-it-yourselfer, you can even make one yourself. If you are particular about its appearance, then don’t worry. You’ll find that there are several different designs, including ones that are designed to match your decor, such as those that mimic the look of ceramic or terra cotta.

Rain Barrel Tip #1: If you have gutters, your rain barrel should be placed underneath a downspout on your house. If you do not have gutters, you can place the barrel under a spot on your roof where water flows off. Either way, this is the most logical place for your barrel to collect water.

Rain Barrel Tip #2: If your ground is not even, try placing the rain barrel on some cinder blocks, patio stones, or gravel. If it is possible, try to prop your rain barrel up so that it sits about 1-2 feet off of the ground. Cinder blocks are an easy solution for this, or some people build a wooden frame. This will make it easier for you to empty water from the barrel once it is full. (You should not expect to be able to lift 500 pounds of water, you’ll need to rely on a spigot.) Having the barrel propped up also means that you can rely on gravity to feed the water to the spigot, and into hoses.

Rain Barrel Tip #3: Once your rain barrel is in place, all that is left for you to do is cut your downspout, and/or the top of your barrel to insure that water flows into it. If your rain barrel has a solid lid, you will need to cut a hole for the downspout using a jigsaw. If your rain barrel does not have any lid at all, it is wise to cover it with a piece of screen in order to prevent leaves, debris, and animals from getting into your barrel. Try to fashion your rain barrel so that there is only one specific opening where the clean water will flow in.

Rain Barrel Tip #4: You also have the option of installing more than one rain barrel, and installing overflow tubes so that if one rain barrel overflows, the water will flow into another barrel.

Rain Barrel Tip #5: A rain barrel is really not something that can be used year round. You should not leave water in your barrel over winter to freeze. If you live in a region where you are still experiencing very cold weather, wait until the risk of a hard freeze passes in order to install your barrel. Once the start of spring hits your region, it’s rain barrel time.

For some great how-to tips, check out these resources:

Making and Installing Your Rain Barrel- Do It Yourself. com

Rain Barrel Basics- YouTube Video

How to Set Up A Rain Barrel- Cool People Care

Installing a Rain Barrel- Joel the Urban Gardener

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 2: Taking Seed Inventory

I derive a great satisfaction from saving my own seeds from my garden every year. Perhaps it is because some giant monopolizing seeds companies (ahem, Monsanto) will have us believe that we shouldn’t be doing it. Or perhaps it is because it symbolizes just how self-renewing and self-sustaining gardens really are. But either way, saving seeds is a simple task from which I receive great pleasure. So if you’re reading this blog, hopefully that means you’re a seed saver, too. With spring on the way, it’s time to start taking inventory of your saved seeds. It is wise to not let your seeds get too old, and to track just how long you’ve been storing them.

Each time I save seeds from an item from my garden, I dry them out completely, place them in paper envelopes, then file them inside a plastic file box or glass jar. (For full details, you can read my tips on saving seeds here.) This storage system helps to keep the seeds from being exposed to extreme heat or cold and moisture, which is very important.

Now you’ll notice that in the above article, I recommended planting seeds within a year. This is the best case scenario- to plant seeds the year after you save them. But of course this is not always possible. So if this is the case, it is very important to rotate your seeds storage. As with any survival food that you store, you should be rotating the oldest seeds forward and using them first. The newest seeds should be rotated to the back of your storage.

Not all seeds have the same shelf life, so you can actually safely and effectively save some seeds longer than others:

  1. Short Lived– Short lived seeds are ones for which the one-year rule applies. I generally do not recommend keeping corn, leek, onion, parsnip, or spinach seeds for longer than one year. Try to plant your seeds the next planting season after you save them. These items all are a high priority in my garden- I’ll pull these seeds out of storage first.
  2. Medium-Lived- These include beans, carrot, celery, chard, eggplant, parsley, peas, pumpkin, and squash. Medium-lived seeds should be planted within 2 to 3 seasons. So if you have pea seeds from last season that you don’t intend to plant this year, that’s okay. You can rotate them to the back and plan to keep them for another year or two.
  3. Long-Lived- Here’s some good news- lots of seeds that you can easily store are long-lived seeds. These include include beets, all brassicas (such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, collards, and kohlrabi), chicory, endive, escarole, radicchio, cucumber, kale, lettuce, melons, mustard, peppers, radish, rutabaga, sunflower, tomato, and turnip. Whew! So for long-lived seeds, you should rotate your oldest ones to the front. If you have cucumber seeds that are 5 years old, you can still plant them this year. And the newest ones can go to the back. You can store long-lived seeds for 5-6 years.

Planning for the Spring Planting Season, Part 1: Crop Rotation

It’s February already, and that means spring planting season is just around the corner. I know it may not feel like it just yet, but Punxutawnie Phil did see his shadow last Wednesday, so that means warmer temps are on the way. It is time to get ready for seed starting and planting season. This is a great time of year to allow yourself to be bitten by the planning and organizing bug.

Now while it’s still too early to start tilling and amending my soil, it’s not too early to create my 2011 garden map. I’m sure you’ve probably heard the term “crop rotation” before, but did you know that it applies to gardens on a small scale, not just been large crop fields? Crop rotation is important, even to small garden plots, because it is one of the best ways to thwart pest and disease problems, as well as prevent soil erosion and allow your soil to remain healthy. For example, tomatoes are heavy eaters. So if you plant them in the exact same spot for a few years in a row, you are likely to deplete your soil of the nutrients that the tomatoes need. However, if you plant peas the year after you have planted tomatoes, the peas will help to return nitrogen to your soil, therefore helping to keep your soil and your garden healthy. Isn’t it cool that plants have the ability to balance themselves out like that?

My goal in creating my garden map for 2011 is to insure that I am not placing members of the same vegetable family is the same place as I put them last year. The nine vegetable families are:

  1. Nightshades- Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and potatoes.
  2. Legumes- Peas and beans.
  3. Squashes and Melons- Summer and winter squash, cucumbers, pumpkins, and melons.
  4. Brassicas and Salad Greens- Greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts.
  5. Sunflower Family- Sunflowers, Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes), lettuce, and endive.
  6. Carrot Family- Carrots, parsley, parsnips, and celery.
  7. Goosefoot Family- Beets, swiss chard, and spinach.
  8. Grass Family- Corn.
  9. Onion Family- Onions, garlic, leeks, and scallions.

Now, a good goal to set for your spring garden map is to plan not to plant members of the same family where they were planted last year. For example, don’t plant beets in the same place where you planted spinach last year, because these are members of the same family. So, in essence, you are rotating not just a single crop, but a whole crop family. If you planted beans in one spot last year, plant corn there this year. Members of the grass family need good fertile soil, so they will grow well in a place where legumes were planted the previous year. Members of the sunflower family are light feeders, so they will grow well in a spot where heavy feeders such as brassicas grew the year before.

Are you starting to get the big picture? Crop rotation does take some attentiveness and planning. But it is very well worth it. It not only helps you maintain the health of your soil, but also helps to insure that your spring and summer vegetable garden will have the largest output possible.  Plus, come spring, having a garden map will make planting that much simpler for you. Planning in the winter makes for ease of planting in the spring.

Other important things to take into consideration when mapping your spring garden are:

  • Taller plants should not block sunlight from reaching shorter plants.
  • Some veggies and fruits grow really well together. Check out this information from Seeds Of Change on Companion Planting for more details.
  • Will your garden be exposed to harsh elements, such as wind? How will you protect it? How about protecting it from critters?
  • If you are expanding your garden this year, will it still be within reach of your irrigation system?
  • How much space do you need between your plants? If you have a 3″ by 3″ plot for carrots, for example, how many carrots can plant in this space? It is important not to crowd your seedlings. And with climbing plants, make sure to leave enough space to stake them.

Okay, now I am sure I have given you plenty of food for thought. Time to get back to the ol’ drawing board!

10 Steps To Prepare For a Blizzard

I am certain that there are many folks in the Chicago area right now who are hoping and praying that the current weather forecast is incorrect. The forecast for the next few days there is downright nasty. Even for mid-westerners who are used to cruddy winter weather, this storm may bring some surprises. CNN meteorologist Sean Morris says that “this storm could be one of the top ten biggest snow storms ever in the city.”

I know people panic in these situations. The idea of being without heat and electricity can be scary, as can the idea of trying to drive across town on roads that are literal sheets of ice. But as I always say, it is best to be proactive and prepared, not panicked. Here are 10 basic essentials to being prepared for a snow storm:

(1) The most important thing to prepare for is a power outage. With the heavy snow fall and strong winds that are common in blizzards, it is not unlikely that you will lose power. If your water supply depends on an electric pump, stock up on bottled water. Make sure you have a hand-held (not electric) can opener, a battery-operated radio or television, and extra batteries. Place candles around your house in places where they can be safely lit and not knocked over. Stock up on blankets, thermal underwear, matches or lighters, and cleansing supplies such as baby wipes. If you have a back-up generator, make sure you have enough gas to run it. Place these all in an obvious spot, in case it is night-time when your power goes out.

(2) Gather up your family’s warmest winter clothes. Pack a bag of thermals, gloves, hats, and other winter clothes for each member in your family. Place these bags in a safe, obvious spot. Again, you want to be able to easily find them if it’s dark out when you lose power.

(3) Do not plan to drive anywhere. Even if you have a SUV or other vehicle with 4-wheel drive, it is not a good idea to travel in a blizzard. A white out may occur at any time. Even if you trust your own ability to drive in a blizzard, you cannot trust everyone around you.

(4) If you must drive, be prepared in case you get stranded in your car. Before leaving your house, stock your car with bottled water, snacks, and blankets. Place these all inside your car, not in your trunk. Dress as warmly as possible. If you get stuck in a white out, pull over to the side of the road and turn off your engine until conditions improve. It may seem like a good idea to keep your engine on to keep the heat running, but carbon monoxide can build up inside your car and is poisonous.

(5) Stock up on at least 1 week’s worth of any essential medications. If your power is out, it will probably also be out at the pharmacy down the street. Replenish your first aid kit, if needed.

(6) Close all of your curtains, and cover drafts around windows and doors. This will help to keep warmth in your house in the event that the heat shuts off.

(7) Make sure you have an adequate supply of nutritious non-perishable survival foods. Canned beans, chicken, and fish are all good sources of protein that do not need to be cooked. Powdered milk is a basic essential. Fortified dry cereals are a good option, as are preserved fruits and vegetables. Beware of high sugar protein bars and other processed foods that claim to be healthy but contain high fructose corn syrup and other junk.

(8) Stay indoors, and keep your kids indoors. They may beg you to go outside, because it’s boring to be cooped up. But kids are very susceptible to frostbite. Plus, ice and snow drifts present hidden dangers. Stay safe by staying inside.

(9) Charge your cellphone battery. Then use it in case of emergency only. Even if phone lines are down, you can still use your cell phone.

(10) Gather up all of your snow shovels, scrapers and other snow removal tools. Keep them in a mud room, by your back door, or in another spot adjacent to your house. Essentially, you want to be able to access them if you are snowed in.

What Would You Do Without Medicine?

 

There are lots of preppers out there who have done an excellent job of accumulating an appropriate and adequate survival food and goods supply. They have saved heirloom seeds, they have stored dry goods properly, they have accumulated basic supplies like a water filter, shovels, plastic bags, and wire. But here is a life necessity that is easy to forget about, or overlook: medicine.

If T.S.H.T.F, what will you and your family do about medicine? Because the truth is, even if you have a supply of medicine saved, those items do expire.  In a crisis, you will absolutely not be able to count on conventional drugs, such as those used for diabetes, chronic pain, asthma, and hypertension, to be available. Now consider this- it’s not just prescription drugs, but over the counter things that you rely on, like Tylenol, aspirin, Tums, Pepto Bismol, and DayQuil. What will you do when these things are not available?

I realize that it is more than likely that you, along with every person in your family, take at least one prescription or over the counter drug every day. If you and your family are totally drug- free, then that is wonderful. Wonderful and unusual, with pharmaceuticals being the largest and most profitable industry in the world.

Of course you know what I am going to say, but I would like to strongly encourage you to start looking into alternatives to your perceptions now, while you still can. Homeopathy is a very real and reliable practice, as is herbology. I feel very strongly that everything that has been invented by major drug companies, Mother Nature came up with first. The Earth can supply us with everything we need to cure our ailments. Well, except perhaps for birth control pills. You should probably look into an alternate form of prophylactic if you wish to remain sexually active. (Again, a lot of people don’t think about this, but it is really important!)

A good starting point for learning how to grow, create, and use your own medicines is with the Survival Herb Bank. As I’ve written in the past, the Survival Herb Bank contains heirloom seeds for several powerful medicinal herbs. One that I use very frequently is catnip. People are always surprised by the great number of uses there are for this herb. Additional heirloom herb seeds within the Survival Herb Bank include:

  • Arnica
  • Black cohosh
  • Boneset
  • Calendula
  • Red Pepper
  • Chamomile
  • Chicory Root
  • Comfrey
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Evening Primrose
  • Fennel
  • Feverfew
  • Hyssop
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Marshmallow Root
  • Rosemary
  • Valerian
  • Yarrow

 Two other medicinal plants I have nurtured in my Survival Herb Garden, which my kids used to call the medicine garden, are aloe vera and ginger root. With these 21 plants, I am confident that I have all of my families’ medicinal needs covered. Plus, these plants are notoriously easy to grow. In fact, some of them, like the lavender, you actually need to keep a good eye on, lest it grow out of control.

These plants can be used to treat everything from arthritis, to bacterial infections, to diarrhea, to depression. Like I said, the only prescription drug I can think of that these plants cannot replace is birth control.

If you have not already planted a medicinal garden in your yard, plan to do it this spring. The plants are easy to care for, grow, dry, and use. And you will be able to completely break yourself from dependency on pharmaceutical companies, which is a great feeling. Not to mention an essential safeguard for the future.

Would Your Children Survive a Crisis?

As a parent myself, I know that this is something that none of us like to think about. But the sad truth is that when a crisis occurs, it is really the children who suffer the most.

What got me really thinking about this was when I was watching the news this week, and saw reports on the 1-year anniversary of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. Rubble still stands in great piles. Thousands of people are still living in tent cities. President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying that a great amount of progress has been made there. But to the naked eye, everything remains completely in ruins. One woman who was interviewed tearfully stated that she has literally nothing. Anything that she has, she said, is something that was begged for, or that she was given by friends.

All of these images are painful and disturbing. But of course the most painful images are those of the children. Many children have no choice but to fend for themselves, as they or orphaned, or their parents are too weak and sick to care for them. The same thing happened in Argentina recently after their economic collapse- children literally wandered the streets scrounging for food and digging through garbage to simply survive. We also saw the same image after the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Really, these natural disasters can happen anywhere at any time.

With the reality of economic and weather-related disasters all around us, we should ask ourselves, have we equipped our children to survive these crises? If we were injured or incapacitated, could our kids fend for themselves? If they were on their own, would they know what to do? This is an essential part of survival. Our kids must be taught self-sufficiency, they must not rely on us entirely for survival.

A good starting point for teaching your children survival skills is to remember to make it fun for them, not scary. Try making it game-like. Tell them that you are going to take them camping and teach them how to build a fire, not that they need to learn to survive in the wilderness. Invite a neighbor or relative along so that your children can build trust with another adult. Definitely don’t tell your kids that they may be orphans one day and they need to learn how to survive by themselves. There is no need to frighten your kids like this.

Another great beginning point for teaching your children survival skills is to practice gender neutrality. Do not teach your daughter skills that you think a girl should know, and your son skills you think a boy should know. Teach them both equally with no regard to gender. There are plenty of people out their who think that only women know how to sew and only men can handle a pocket knife. But these are skills that both boys and girls should learn and be comfortable with. All kids should learn basic gardening, hunting, and safety skills (staying away from downed power lines, stop-drop-and-roll, etc).

As you garden in your survival garden, pull your kids away from their video games and get them out in the garden with you. You may think they will not be interested, but I’ll bet you that they will be. Gardens are full of all sorts of creepy, crawly, smelly, dirty, and cool things. Teach children the names of fruits and vegetables, and what nutrients they have that are good for us. Also make sure to teach children what plants they should not eat- those that may be poisonous or harmful. My kids were always fascinated with my herb garden- they knew it as the “medicine garden” because it contained everything I needed to cure their tummy aches, bumps, and bruises. From a very early age, my children knew that they could rely on the earth and its fruits to care for them. This is an important lesson.

Again, I know it is not pleasant to think about your kids needing to survive on their own. But with the real possibility that in a crisis you may not be able to care for them, teaching your children to be self sufficient is a truly valuable lesson.

Be Prepared For More Severe Winter Weather

This morning I read the news that there is currently snow on the ground on 49 out of 50 U.S. states. Even in Hawaii, there is snow. Somehow, the only state in the entire country that is without snow is Florida. And this is probably only because the storms that battered every other state on the entire east coast did not travel that far south.

No doubt, you have heard all about the terrible winter blizzards that have ripped through the country for weeks now, stranding holiday travelers in airports and leaving people without power for days. Actually, now that I am thinking about it, I am sure that you have not only heard about it, but probably experienced it yourself.

So what is the deal with all of this severe winter weather? Well, it is no doubt due to global warming. You may be raising your eyebrows and thinking, “How would global warming cause all this snow?” Well, contrary to popular misconception, global warming does not always equal warmth.

Factually, 2001 to 2010 was the hottest decade ever recorded in history. And The World Meteorological Organization recently reported that 2010 was one of the three warmest years on record. But these recent blizzards should not cause climate change skeptics to feel too triumphant. Because many scientists agree that the unusually high temperatures across the globe and the severe winter blizzards are actually connected.

One theory is that consistently warmer temperatures in the Arctic are leading to colder winters in the northern mid-latitudes. As the Arctic has continued to get warmer and warmer, countries like Britain are getting colder and colder. In fact, Britain just experienced its coldest December on record, while Greenland and Arctic Canada just experienced their hottest years on record. In these areas, the average temperatures were about 5 to 7 degrees F warmer than normal. As a result, the ice in the Arctic sea has continued to shrink. The loss of ice has contributed to an even warmer temperature in the far north, thanks to what is known as the Albedo Effect.

Of course, this is just one theory about global warming and climate change. Not everyone agrees that this is what is causing temperatures and weather patterns to fluctuate from the “norm” all over the entire planet. But regardless of what you think is the cause, the truth of the matter is that adapting to a warmer planet is not going to be easy or pleasant. We must be prepared for what will inevitably continue to be a year (a decade… a millenia…) of harsh and unpredictable weather.

Can I Plant Anything During the Winter?

When you see the term “winter crops,” what this refers to is actually crops that can be harvested, not sown, in the winter. I realize this terminology can be a bit misleading. If you were to google “winter crops” in hopes of finding some things that you can plant right now, your search would actually reveal a list of things that you probably should have planted 3 months ago.

Depending on where you live, there are some things that you can actually plant during the winter. Now if you live in Wyoming, obviously your ground is frozen rock hard right now and you’ll need to stay inside with some hot tea before you are able to get your hands dirty out in your garden. If you live in a cold climate and wish to grow food during the winter, you may want to explore indoor container gardening, or gardening in a greenhouse. A row of herbs in pots on a windowsill can grow well, even in the winter. But if you live in a warm climate, such as zone 9 or 10, you have a good variety of options.

Check out this graph at Digital Gardener, for example. It reveals that there are several different crops that can be planted in Southern California in December, such as beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, radishes, rutabaga, spinach, and turnips.

Now if you do not live in a warm climate, now is the time to let your garden hibernate, and perhaps focus on different activities within your garden other than sowing seeds. One that I particularly enjoy is filling all of my bird feeders and watching birds flock to my garden. For the winter I like to use nyjer seeds, which are high in calories and help birds to stay full during these times when food is scarce.

Winter is also the time when I concentrate on maintenance. I will take the time to make sure that all of my tools are clean and oiled. I will continue to check my garden for rotted plants and pests. I will also continue to add compost to my compost heap, and turn it regularly.

The first winter planting that I will do will be around February, and that will be when I plant lettuce. Now I now you are thinking, “didn’t you just plant lettuce in August?” Yes, I did. But that is the great thing about lettuce. Alth0ugh you cannot can or pickle it, it is a cool season crop. So if you plan it correctly, you can have fresh lettuce practically all year. Lettuce seedlings cannot handle a hard freeze, but they can handle a light frost. Ideally, high temps should be around 60 and low temps should be around 40 when you plant lettuce seeds. So depending on where you live, this could be as early as January or as late as March.

Regardless of the climate in which you live, December is a great time of year to start planning for spring planting. Take inventory of your seeds. Organize an heirloom seed swap with other local gardeners. Map out your spring garden, and decide what you want to plant where. Make lists of any new tools you will need to purchase before prime planting season begins, such as a rain barrel or a new hose. Start preparing to plant any bulbs you have that must go through a cold germination process. This way, you will be well prepared and ready to begin when prime planting season begins.

The Secret Life of White Vinegar

If there is one liquid that you should keep bottled in your survival food cache, make it white vinegar… Okay, wait. I take that back. If there is one liquid you should keep in your survival food cache, it is water. But if there is a second liquid you keep, make it white vinegar. With all of the sophisticated, high-tech products that are on the market today it is amazing to think that white vinegar, something that was discovered about 10,000 years ago, is better at many tasks than all of these products. Here are just some of the many uses for white vinegar.

Safe cleaning agent- White vinegar can be used to clean many things: no-wax floors, bathtubs, coffee pots, soiled fabrics, leather shoes, toilet bowls, stainless steel appliances and just about anything else you can think of can be safely cleaned with white vinegar.

Bug deterrent- If ants, fruit flies, or gnats threaten to invade your survival food storage area, wipe down your shelves with white vinegar.

Hand deodorizer- White vinegar will remove the smell of onion, garlic, and other stinky things from your hands. Just rub white vinegar into your hands, then rinse them with soap and water.

Weed killer- Distilled white vinegar can be sprayed on weeds full-strength to kill them.

Prevent frost on windows- When you expect frost, wipe down your car windows with one part water to three parts white vinegar. This will prevent them from frosting over.

Remove scorch marks- Remove scorch marks from the bottom of a teapot or an iron plate by wiping it with a cloth dampened with white vinegar.

Getting to the last drops- When you can’t reach the bit of salad dressing of mayonnaise at the bottom of the jar, pour in a little bit of vinegar, shake it around, then pour out the mayo.

Boiling eggs- If you are boiling eggs and a shell breaks, add some white vinegar to the boiling water. This will prevent the egg white from running out into the water.

Cooking fish- Try soaking any kind of fish in vinegar before cooking it. It will cause the fish to be nice and tender, and hold its shape well while cooking.

Freshen eggies- If your greens are slightly wilted, soak them in a mixture of white vinegar and cold water to perk them up.

Clean inorganic veggies- Pesticides don’t come off in plain water. But vinegar gets the chemicals off. Soak inorganic fruits and vegetables in a sink full of cold water and vinegar, then give everything a rinse in clean water.

Rid your house of stinky cooking smells- Let a pot of white vinegar and water simmer on your stove to neutralize any unpleasant odors.

Tenderize tough meat or game- Rub the meat with a mixture of oil and vinegar, then let the meat stand for two hours before cooking it.

Fluffy, stick-free rice- Add a teaspoon of vinegar to water before boiling rice in order to keep the rice kernels from sticking together.

Flavor Booster- Boost the flavor of your favorite gravy or marinade by adding a teaspoon of white vinegar.

Treat a cold sore- Dab white vinegar onto a cold sore with a cotton swab. The vinegar will help to dry up and heal the sore.