Seeds, Gardening, Livestock, and All!


This too shall pass.
Mods, could you please sticky this thread for a while? I think we need to have some basic gardening and livestock information available where people can find it quickly and print it off.

Summerthyme and others who have at least a few years experience at gardening, livestock raising, and various aspects of farming, would you please contribute a chapter on what you think a beginner (a rank beginner) would need to know about your area of expertise? I'm going to start with gardening and goats, though I'd appreciate it if momof23goats and others would also pitch in.

Perhaps those with primitive living and survival skills would make another stickied thread discussing those issues?



This too shall pass.
Seeds: The starting point of gardening

First I want to respond to a question posed by Maria in the Bomb Shelter, because I think there are others who will have the same question. She was confused about hybrid seeds, and what seeds could be saved to reproduce themselves.

Hybrid seeds are crosses of different varieties of the same plant. You CAN plant them, and they will grow. You probably will not get new plants that are just like what you originally planted, however. They are better than nothing, if you can't get open-pollinated seeds, but open-pollinated seeds will more reliably reproduce themselves. Plant breeders will deliberately make crosses, and then select the best offspring to breed from; repeating this for several generations, they usually end up with a new variety which will breed true. So if all you can get is hybrids, don't despair, and do save seeds. But it's going to be a lot more work, with uncertain results, to breed those seeds up to a stable population with the characteristics you want. It is MUCH better to start with good quality open-pollinated seeds.

Some open-pollinated seeds are referred to as heirlooms. These are varieties that have been around for a long time. Your grandparents may have planted them. Some heirloom varieties are a couple hundred years old! But any open-pollinated variety is fine, as long as it is suited for your climate and soils.

You can probably find some open-pollinated seed packets on the display racks at your local department store (if the packet doesn't say 'F1' or 'Hybrid' on it, it's most likely an open-pollinated variety). However, the display racks are stocked with 'generally adapted' and popular varieties. 'Generally adapted' is a good thing, but specifically adapted to your growing conditions is a better thing. If all you can get is seeds from the display racks, don't despair. But if you are able to order from a seed catalog which is based in your geographical region, and which specializes in open-pollinated and heirloom varieties, that is the best way to go. It might also save you some money, depending on the catalog -- some are high priced, others are quite reasonable.

For specific catalogs in your area, go to the Dave's Garden website: Click on the tab at the top for Products and Sources; then go to Garden Watchdog; scroll to the bottom, and do a search for Seeds, Vegetable -- specify United States unless you are in another country. Have the search organized by state. They list about every possible source of seeds, and rate the companies so you can get some idea whether you are dealing with a reputable source or not. I could recommend a few companies that I like, but they are climate specific, and unless you live where I do, they might not be your best sources. For instance, for the Pacific Northwest, Territorial Seed is well-liked. For New England and northern-tier states, look at Fedco, Pinetree, and Johnny's.

Before you can intelligently select seeds, you need to know something about your climate, your micro-climate, and your soil. You also need to take into account whether you will need to water your garden, and if so, how you will manage that if the power goes off and you don't have running water. To find out what growing zone you are in, do a search for 'growing zone chart' -- here is the USDA one: . If you are in the western half of the country, the Sunset chart is more accurate, but you'll have to purchase their gardening book to use it (it's an excellent book, well worth having, and older editions can be found used).

If you aren't sure what kind of soil you have, locate your local agricultural extension agent in the phone book -- all United States counties have an ag. extension office. They will have detailed soil maps available, and should also be able to put you in touch with an area Master Gardener, who should be able to help you get started.

Basically, however, you can't go wrong, whatever kind of soil you have, by adding compost and aged animal manure to it. Some soils could use a little lime; others may need some gypsum (heavy clays). But no soil will be harmed by adding clean organic material to it. Most urban and suburban yards are very nearly dead soils. They have had so many chemicals applied that there is no biological life left in the soil -- the grass is basically growing hydroponically. And the ground is usually badly compacted. So in order to grow vegetables, you are going to have to do a lot of work to get the life back into the soil. Probably the quickest and easiest way to get started, though not the least expensive, is to lay cardboard down on the lawn, then build raised bed frames on top of the cardboard and fill them with top-soil, peat, compost, and a little aged chicken manure. These make tidy-looking gardens for people with close neighbors, too. Here is a site that tells how, with videos:

For those of us who can't really afford the materials for building raised beds, you'll have to do a little more work. The ground needs to be dug up -- hire someone with a tractor if you are having a large area tilled. If it's a small area, you can do it by hand with a spade and digging fork, but that is a LOT of work. Dig, add your compost and manure, water well, and cover with several layers of dampened newspapers. Then mulch over the top of the newspapers. If possible, leave this for a while before planting anything, because otherwise you'll have weed seeds sprouting all over the place. They have been lying dormant in the dead soil, perhaps for decades, but the minute they get good conditions, they start sprouting!

When it's time to plant, pull the mulch aside, and make a little hole in the newspaper for the seed, barely bigger than the seeds. Don't put the mulch back until the seedling has sprouted, and then don't cover the seedling completely.

Now I'm going to send this, because my computer has been dying unexpectedly and I almost lost this message once already (thank you to whoever made computers able to recover what you were working on when they die!).



Veteran Member
Great idea, Kathleen. I don't have much time right now and may add more later but will add one thought.

I live in the middle of the High Plains. I know of one very small seed company devoted to our area. I have tested and tested and tested to find the varieties for this area. As a result I buy varieties from companies all over the USA.

I would be more than glad to share techniques and variety information with anyone interested. Just ask. I'm sure others will do the same if asked.



Contributing Member
Very Detailed

I couldn't ask for more. Now I'm understanding these things better. I've got so much to learn though. With times being what they are I just have to get prepared better than I am.


This too shall pass.
One more thing about gardening, and then I'm going to turn to goats for a bit: when planting, if you are new to gardening, the planting directions on the back of the seed packets are your friend! You don't have to space your rows as far apart as they say to, if you are planting in beds, but do follow their directions for WHEN to plant, HOW DEEP to plant, and HOW FAR APART within the row (spacing between plants). Take a ruler out to the garden with you, if you have to.

Also, DO THIN YOUR SEEDLINGS!!! I know it hurts to pull perfectly good plants out of the ground, but if they are too close together you will end up with NOTHING for your hard work! You can eat the thinnings of some plants, such as lettuce, broccoli, radishes, turnips, and so on. And if you can't eat them, they can either go into the compost pile, or to your chickens or rabbits, or just toss them on top of the mulch to dry.



This too shall pass.

This is an article that I wrote about a year ago for SurvivalBlog -- I won a copy of Jim's 'Rawles Gets You Ready' emergency preparedness course! I'll add some more stuff later, but need to get ready for work now.

It seems like more and more people are becoming aware of the need to grow some of their own food. Usually they start with a garden, and maybe some chickens or meat rabbits. But eventually, if the family has room for them and the zoning allows, they decide that they need their own milk supply (with a little home-grown veal or chevon as a bonus). Cows have their place, but in many situations goats are a better choice. They are smaller and easier to handle; less expensive to purchase; require less room; and can eat, and even thrive on, feed that a cow would starve on. And, if you have to keep your own male, buck goats are easier to handle and less expensive to raise (though smellier) than a bull. Goats are, IMO, one of the best choices for survival livestock, because they are useful for so much more than just milk.

But speaking of milk, they *are* useful small dairy animals. One good doe (a female goat) of the large breeds should produce, per year, on average a gallon of milk a day for about ten months. (This is if she is well-managed, and good management of any livestock, but especially of dairy animals, doesn’t come overnight. It comes from years of experience and continued studying – so if you expect to need dairy animals in the future, now is the time to start.) When times get hard, it may be difficult, at least initially, to supply dairy goats with the kind of feed they need for the best production, so it would be a good idea to look for stock that is already being bred to produce with less grain than is commonly fed to high-producing goats. Now you are looking at smaller amounts of milk being produced, but on a more sustainable feeding program. I had Kinder goats, a cross of Nubians and Pygmies, precisely because of the feed consideration. They are easy keepers, and will continue to produce smaller amounts of their very rich milk even on very small amounts of grain. (I now have larger goats so they can be used for packing – it was a difficult decision, but the Kinders just don’t make good pack goats.)

If you allow five pounds of hay per goat per day, and a pound or so of grain (they don’t need much if any grain while dry, and will need a little extra during the peak of their lactation, so it averages out), it will take almost a ton of hay to get one milking goat through a whole year, plus about 365 lbs. of grain – allow 400, to make the fifty-pound bags come out even. At current prices (early 2007), in my area it costs about $150/ton for hay (and I’m sure it’s going up this summer, with gas prices so high) and almost $80 for grain (C.O.B.) for one goat for the year. If you have pasture, even one filled with brush and blackberries, you can reduce the hay costs considerably. Just watch their condition, and add feed if they start looking thin or the milk drops off noticeably.

Now, when it becomes impossible to buy hay (as it probably will someday), or just plain too expensive, goats really begin to have the advantage over cows. It’s much easier to take the scythe out in the yard and cut a ton or two of hay for your goats, than it would be to cut by hand the nearly four tons needed by a 1,000 lb. cow. Ditto for growing and harvesting the smaller amounts of grain that a goat would need.

If you don’t have a hay-field, don’t despair. In other countries where many people still keep backyard livestock, they cut hay from their lawns; from their orchards; from the sides of the roads; from ditches and any place else where a little bit of grass, brush, or edible weeds manages to grow. Also, it’s possible to raise a lot of feed in the family garden. I save pea-vines and corn stalks for the goats, for example. You wouldn’t want to feed a steady diet of corn stalks, but they are good for stretching other feeds out. Perennials that you can grow for feed include comfrey and alfalfa. We commonly think of alfalfa as being grown in large fields, but a border around the edge of the garden (where it will get tended and watered) will produce a lot of feed.

Goats don’t need anything fancy for housing. In most climates, they will do fine with a three-sided shelter facing south (or north if you are in the southern hemisphere). Mainly they need something that will keep the rain and the wind off, and dry bedding to lie down on. It’s advisable to construct their manger in such a way that you can feed from outside the pen, and so that the goats can’t get into the manger. If they are allowed to walk on their feed, they won’t eat it, which is quite a waste, especially if you’ve hand-harvested it. Their water should also be outside of their pen, forcing them to put their heads through the fence in order to drink. This will help keep their water cleaner, as they don’t watch to see where their droppings are going, and won’t drink if even one nanny-berry has fallen into the bucket. They do need to have clean water available if you are expecting them to produce milk, so make sure they aren’t shorted on that. If you have to, you can take them out to the water supply for a drink at least twice a day (three times would be better, but they are capable of tanking up and lasting for a while). This is sometimes the best way to go in the winter, when you might otherwise have to carry heavy buckets of water out to them. (They like hot water in winter, by the way, if you can manage giving it to them.)

As you’ve probably heard, the biggest drawback to keeping goats is keeping them IN their pens or pastures! They are escape artists extraordinaire, and can open latches, jump over fences, and squeeze through holes that you wouldn’t believe. The key here is to be smarter than they are. Use gate latches that have spring-loaded catches or some mechanism so that livestock can’t pull them open. (Difficult to describe with no pictures – go to a feed store and ask to see their gate latches. They should have something useful, as many horses are also escape artists.) I’m now using pens that are built with cattle panels, the ones called combo panels (they have smaller openings on the bottom, which in theory will keep small animals from going through – young goat kids, however, can still get through). These are 52” high, and none of my goats have gone over the top of them, although in theory the larger goats could – most likely would be bucks escaping to visit a doe in heat. The panels are made of heavy enough wire that the goats can’t walk them down, either (goats are notorious for standing on fences with their front feet), though it would be best to have posts in the middle of the panels as well as at each end. If you are fencing a large pasture, woven wire will probably work, but will need some tending. And keep in mind that goats are small enough to be vulnerable to predators (a livestock guardian dog would be a good idea, but if you can’t manage that, have some place where you can shut the goats up safely at night or when you are gone – two-legged thieves will soon be the biggest problem, I’m afraid).

I mentioned earlier that goats have other uses besides just producing milk, although that could be their most important use, especially if you have young children. Meat is probably the alternative use that comes first to mind. Purebred dairy goats don’t really make very good meat animals, although they do produce meat. Again, I liked my Kinder goats – they aren’t as big as purebred dairy goats, but are fast-growing and meaty, while still being good little milk animals. (And they have the best-flavored milk I’ve ever tasted – it’s almost like drinking half-and-half.) Their carcass cutting percentage runs around 60% or so, and the flavor is great. An alternative is to keep goats that are dairy crossed with Boer (or Kiko, another meat breed). I have a part-Boer doe, and she is a very nice dairy animal, but with more muscling than if she was purebred Oberhasli (she’s ¾ Ober). A little more Boer would make a meatier carcass, but I and others who milk crosses have found that their udders and teats are thicker-skinned than a purebred dairy doe, and thus they are harder to milk. But, with the right parents, they can be very productive milkers and easy keepers, so are not a bad choice as dual-purpose animals. And, for the next use category, they are much more useful than the half-Pygmy Kinders.

Goats can be used as draft animals. They can pull carts and garden cultivators (there is one made especially to be pulled by a goat), and they are also very useful small pack animals. Goats as pack animals are becoming very popular, and with good reason. They can forage most if not all of their feed while out on the trail (while leaving little trace of their passing – most people would mistake goat sign for deer sign); will follow their owner (if bonded to people by being raised as bottle babies) and thus don’t need to be on lead ropes; and can carry useful amounts of gear. A full-grown pack wether (castrated male) can carry up to one-third of his own weight all day long once he’s been conditioned to it. Since large-breed wethers may weigh anywhere from 180 lbs. up to over 300 lbs., you can see that they can be quite useful on the trail. Something interesting that’s been reported is that a human walking with a herd of goats can get much closer to wildlife such as deer before they spook and run off, so in a survival situation, the goats might even be of assistance in getting meat for the table. Goats that are not milking can go up to three days without water, which could be necessary in a dry region. But since they can only make a sustained pace of around 2 ½ miles per hour, and need at least three hours of browsing time per day, they can’t go as fast or as far as horses can. However, they *can* go places that horses, or even llamas, can’t go. If you can get there on food, the goats can get there, too. This could open up potential new bug-out locations!

Pack equipment for goats can be purchased from several vendors, but it’s also relatively simple to make your own. In fact, it is possible to make cross-buck pack saddles out in the field, if necessary. The size is smaller than for a horse, but the rest is pretty much the same, except for the angle of the cross-pieces. Their angle should be slightly less than 90 degrees, unless you have a very fat and wide-backed goat.

There are some other uses for goats that would be considered by-products. Their hides make a thin, fine leather (goatskin was once used for high-quality gloves), and the rawhide can be used for bow-strings, as well as for anything a deer skin could be used for; their intestines have many uses – catgut is one of them; and some goats produce enough fiber to be useful. Angora goats are too small for pack or draft use, and would be difficult to milk even if they produced enough milk to bother. And while many end up being butchered, they aren’t really good meat animals, either. But most goats of all breeds produce small amounts of cashmere, some more than others. It requires painstaking care to clean the cashmere and separate all of the hair out of it so it can be used, but in a TSHTF situation, someone may have the time and the need for fiber, so it’s worth considering.

Goats do need some basic care. All goats need attention to their hooves – if they are packing and out on rocky trails, they may need very little trimming, but if they are confined to pens all the time, their hooves will need trimmed every few weeks. Or, you can do as one lady I know does and use a surform rasp on the milkers once a day before taking them off the milking stand. They also need mineral salt formulated for goats (goats and sheep have diametrically opposed copper requirements – enough copper to keep a goat healthy will quickly kill a sheep), and they need to be wormed at least two or three times a year. Herbal wormers are available, and it would be a good idea to learn what is in them, and how to formulate them, and begin growing your own. It’s also a good idea to vaccinate for a couple of things – a veterinarian can tell you what is needed in your area, but tetanus is definitely on the list.

I’ve been keeping goats for about 24 years, and still don’t know everything there is to know (far from it). If you are new to goats, it’s a really good idea to get a couple of books about them, and to read as much on-line as you can. Fias Co Farms website has a wealth of information (though the site owner is a vegetarian, so you’ll have to look elsewhere for butchering information). The site is at .Then when you are ready to get your goats, take someone experienced along with you. They will be able to help you avoid making serious mistakes. When you start getting a refrigerator full of milk and are wondering what to do with it, I highly recommend the book Goats Produce Too! The cheese recipes in it are *much* better than another popular cheese-making book that has been around for a long time, and it also has recipes for chevon (goat meat).

Our goats are an integral part of our survival plan, whether we stay here (as we hopefully will be able to do), or whether we have to ‘bug out’ to some other location. If you think they ought to be part of your plans, get started now, don’t wait!



Veteran Member
Freeholder's idea to buy your seeds from a seed company located in your part of the country is excellent. However, as I said before, not everyone has a company in their area.

Therefore, you need to find out which varieties will do well for you. Might I suggest one or more of the following:
1) Ask older gardening friends or family
2) Ask the people who have that nice garden you drive past every day during the gardening season
3) Call your Extension office and ask about the Master Gardener program. Not all have one but many do. Extension is listed under your county in your phone book.
4) Ask your TB2K family. Likely one of us lives near enough to have useful information.

And it was time for this thread to get bumped anyway.


Veteran Member
There are two or three books you must have:

Seed to Seed by Susan Ashforth.

How to grow more food John Jeavons

Four Season Harvest by Eliot Coleman.

Seed to Seed talks about the various plant families, and what crosses with what, and how to keep that from happening. Also talks about how to polinate, and save seed indefinately.

John Jeavons is a BioIntensive Expert. His methods of wide bed close plantings reap abundant harvests, and seem to be borne out by field research and photographs. In addition, his book has charts and temperatures, and spacings and a whole bunch of stuff to learn.

Eliot Coleman's book is about planting veggies in FALL, and how to protect them over the winter. In some parts of the country, some veggies survive even in snow. In other parts they need some protection....not to grow, just to stay alive so you can go out and get them.

Oh.,..and Putting Food By....or any other USDA food storage/canning book.

And a book on how to dry foods.

Check the USDA list of publications...lots of good info and relatively cheap.

FEDCO, Whillhites, Pinetree the best for seed selection and open pollinated varieties....and don't omit ebay...they have seeds for RED cucumbers! And sugar beets for feeding the rabbits which you also have to have, because vegetarianism does not always need a mix, really.

That's my 2 seeds worth.


Great Great Grandma!
You can grow a large garden in a small space if you have to. Think vertical instead of horizontal. Almost all vines can be trained to grow up a fence or trellis. Most squash will hang until full size, melons, pumpkins, and other large veggies will need a sling to keep them from falling off the vine when they get larger and heavier. Cool weather crops can often be grown in the shade of taller crops. Some crops have to be grown far apart or staggered in alternate years or they will cross pollinate. If cross pollinated, your saved seeds will not grow true the following year. Corn is one that will cross pollinate very easy. Some ways to prevent cross pollination is to stagger plantings so the different types don't tassel at the same time. Another way is to hand pollinate the stalks and put bags over the ears to prevent natural pollination. Hand pollination is a big job and not totally dependable. Animals, people, and/or weather might dislodge the bags and cross pollination could occur.

I've read a site about "pushing the zones". The basic idea is that you probably have microclimates on your property. For example, tomatoes can be planted earlier if they are near a rock wall that absorbs heat during the day and releases it overnight. Tomatoes can also be planted before the last frost if they are planted in the bottom of a hole in the ground, then covered at night with a single sheet of newspaper. As the tomato grows, fill in the hole a little every week (keeping the top of the plant exposed) until the hole is filled. This gives your tomato a deep root system so it will be stronger and more able to produce a good crop.


Contributing Member
It would be very helpful if those with more experience would indicate where on the plant the seeds for saving can be found. Last year I planted a row of bush beans just for saving the seeds. When it seemed time to get them, I wasn't real sure if they were ready. Someone on this forum helped me figure that out. (Another big than you!!) Now I have seeds for this spring. Tomatos are easy..... but carrots. I have no idea where to find the seeds. Thanks. Lori


Veteran Member
lori, carrots are a bienniel. That means that they don't set seed until their second year of growth. The carrot root (the part we eat) must be stored and wintered over alive until the second season. Then it will put up a seed head which resembles Queen Anne's lace.

I would suggest you get or at least read from the library the book mentioned above...Seed to Seed. It will answer many of your seed saving questions.



Has No Life - Lives on TB
well, OK, first, I buy my open pollinated seeds at the local store, they sell in bulk. some times i do get hybrids, and plant with my open pollinated seeds. i have interesting things some times for sure. but I don't do that often.
I also have raised beds, and i have a regular garden. I plant a lot each year. the seeds are in the fruit, or harvest. if you are growing peas, save your peas, dry them until brittle, and put in glass jar with a good tight lid , then tuck tape the lid, your good. if it is corn , dry several ears, until brittle kernels, that is your seeds. lettuce will send up a shoot, it will get like a pod or several, let stay on the plant until brown, bring in house open, there you will find a zillion small seeds, dry until brittle , that is your seeds. and so on.
NOW, I do have goats, dairy goats, full sized and mini 's. they are Nubian's, I breed both lines. and I do love them.
they have high butter content in their milk, and that is what I want. and my gals are sweeties. now I have only had a couple of ill spirited ones in all my years with goats, i sold them fast as could be.
most people don't know this but you can put goat poop right on the gardens, and it will not burn your plants out, but i let mine sit about a year first. -lazy on my part.
I started with 3 does and a buck, then I bought another buck, and now I have 4 bucks. I rotate using the bucks every for years. But I do have a couple for special breeding's for the lines.
built for stating out, get a couple of does, at least 2 i would say 3. and look at their udders, you don't want them dragging on the ground, you want them high and tight so to speak. ok, now it is better to get does that have been bred once, and kidded once, and make sure to ask what the birthing was like. a beginner doesn't breed to have to go in and pull babies your first kidding. also , find the breed you want, then start looking, you might try googling goats for sale in your state.
make sure the aren't to thin, and the hooves are trimmed. now, ask the person where you buy them to show you how to trim the hooves. it is easy to do. and doesn't take a minute.
now I think my hooves just before mating. I do not trim during the pregnancy.
now go up to the goat, and see if she will let you pet her, pet her good, then check her udder, it should be glove soft, if it isn't, or you feel lumps, don't buy her. she has or has had bad mastitis. for get it. some are skiddish about you touching them , so if this happens ask the owner , to put her on the milk stand, and then milk her a little. if she stands and eats her grain, and doesn't care, you have a good milker. take her home.
and give the girls treats. mine get crackers. or pop corn, they love it.
Or extremely hot days, and humid days, i give my gals gator aid, because they are huge milkers.
and I want to keep them hydrated. I also give them kool aid in their water. many people say that is spoiling them, well maybe so. but i am also making sure they drink a lot of water. and I feed well. that is the key t oa healthy happy goat.
they are cute, the babies can jump much higher than you ever dreamed. trust me on that.
so can the mama's.If you have questions, pm me.
I do not keep my bucks in with my does, only at breeding season , that is all, never any other time.
there is some up keep to them. i give bose every 45 days for my area.
and also other things. i worm every three months. summer more often. I use real wormer, and do not trust herbs. or natural ways. i do do my own stool checks, with my microscope.

If yo have any questions about any thing. feel free to PM. me.


Veteran Member
Great thread!!!

Now I have a question. Is there anyone on the board that uses draft horses to farm? I am interested because I have miniature horses and have heard that they make good little draft ponies. Just as goats are going to be a whole lot easier to feed in winter if things get bad and there is no more hay to buy...these minis can almost exist on air (slight exaggeration)and a team should be able to haul firewood and do odd jobs around a farm.

I have three ponies trained to broke...and want to get started training them for some farm work this spring. They can haul my little manure spreader and maybe even plow a garden if I can find a plow suitable for ponies. Unfortunately, I have never worked a team before and am hoping for some hints.

I really do think that ponies are the answer to transportation and farm work in a furture without gas. You can easily feed them through the winter and unless you are working them hard you don't need to grain them.



Veteran Member
Willow, I don't recall the exact name, but there is/was a magazine devoted to draft animals. Maybe a google would turn something up.

As for bulk seed, I had been meaning to address that very topic. Glad you mentioned it mom. Some feed stores, farm stores and coop stores and nurseries carry bulk seeds. Mostly they carry the most common varieties for the area. They MAY not be the very best variety you can find after extensive testing but they will do decently in your area. These stores can't afford to carry varieties that don't sell.



Veteran Member
LC, you might be talking about "Small Farmer's Journal" as that devotes at least half of the magazine monthly to draft horses, equipment and farming with horses. I already get that but I was hoping to find someone that is actually using their minis on the farm. The 'big guys' can obviously do a whole lot more work than a mini but as a society we have lost the skills needed to supply that much feed during the winter months. Minis are VERY easy keepers and I see them as a solution on a small survival farm or in a survival community.



Veteran Member
I am very interested in doing some container gardening this year. Anyone have any hints or sites I can go to? I went to the urban site posted above, but I can't get any of her vids to play on firefox. I"ll have to copy it over and go in on IE.


Great Great Grandma!
I am very interested in doing some container gardening this year. Anyone have any hints or sites I can go to? I went to the urban site posted above, but I can't get any of her vids to play on firefox. I"ll have to copy it over and go in on IE.
Container gardening is very open to interpitation. You can use almost any container that will hold soil and has drainage. You can grow a complete salad garden in a pot that holds about 6 or 8 gallons. Plant tallest plants like tomatoe in the back and shrter plants in front. You can put in 2 or 3 kinds of lettuce, onions, radishes, etc. If you want to use some of the baby plants like mini carrots, mini cabage, etc. you can plant a lot of them in a window box.

One of my favorite things to do it grow upsidedown tomatoes. Get a hanging basket and cut a small hole in the bottom. Fill it with potting soil and plant the tomato in the hole you cut so it will be hanging out the bottom of the pot. When you hang the basket the tomato plant will grow out and kind of curve up around the sides of the basket. It's easy to water and easy to harvest the tomatoes. I haven't tried it, but you could probably grow bell peppers and other veggies that way. The best thing about growing in pots is that you can move them inside in the fall to extend the growing season.

I have grown salad gardens inside under grow lights for the past 15 years. Every now and then I get lucky and a tomato plant will produce on and on and on. Some of them have started looking like small trees with thick trunks. :)

You can pull suckers off many plants and root them to make a new plant. That can really expand a harvest.

Here's a link to a site with some container garden information:


Veteran Member

Kathleen mentioned Fiasco Farm in her article, and that site is a great reference for goat keeping (I'll second you on the "Goats produce too" book!)

Another wonderful reference site for goats that I've used over the years is It's a little more clinical than Fiasco and has great info on basic meds and equipment, metabolic problems, parasites, ect.

Parasites are the #1 health problem in goats followed closely by metabolic issues, usually caused by over-graining.

I have to agree with mom on using the chemical wormers. We have hot, humid weather here and I just don't trust the herbal wormers to do the job. Also, goats are dosed differently with the wormers than horses, cows or pigs. We give all wormers as a drench here (orally) except sometimes we'll give a shot of ivomec for lice. Never, never pour liquid wormer onto a goat, no matter what the label says. There have been documented cases resulting in CNS damage , seizures and death.

The Fiasco Farm Site that Freeholder linked to in her article has an excellent page on wormers and doses.


inskanoot... no. Almost all ink used on newsprint these days is soybased... even the colored printing is supposedly safe.



Contributing Member
We have been using newspapers to start
the fire in our fireplace this past winter.
Had a hard time to get the newspaper to
burn: it is treated with a fire retardant!
I would not use it in the garden.
Plants absorb whatever is available in the
soil. We have a 50 years old book where the
writer said that, when he started gardening,
he remembered that when a young boy the day
before Saint Patrick they would put a green dye
in the water where white carnations were soaking
and on St. Patrick's Day the carnations had turned
all green in color. Plants do absorb poisons!
In the early eighties I read in an Arkansas's newspaper
of a couple who had died: both had been poisoned
by the Jimson weed. An investigation of their vegetable
garden showed that several Jimson Weeds were growing
next to their tomatoe plants. The roots of Jimsonweed
were titghly intervined with the roots of the tomatoes.
The tomatoes had absorbed the Jimsonweed's poison
and killed both gardeners.

Glossy newspaper pages (ads, magazines, etc.) are treated with starches to seal the paper for the ink - they do not burn well but are NOT toxic in and of themselves. In the old days some of the colored inks were based on heavy metals but most today are not - some caution for large quantities of colored pages may still be warranted.

Normal black print pages are soy and carbon black (soot). These are actually quite good for the garden, adding medium term high carbon compost to the soil and encouraging normal soil biological activity. Healthy, biologically active soil is what we are all striving for.

Healthy soil is reasonably resistant to minor amounts of oil, heavy metals, etc. Much, much more so than dead soil or plain clay. The microbes in healthy soil tend to break down any organics and lock up metals as highly unavailable compounds. Soil microbes are often used to remediate toxic spills. Of course, if you have a serious spill of oil or any known toxic compounds you should seek professional help and avoid using that area as a food garden.


Freeholder, in your article on goats, you mentioned feeding hay. Having a horse, hay is a special issue with me because there is such a wide variation in nutritive value, given soil conditions, weather, when harvested, how cured and how stored, not to mention what grasses or legumes are IN the hay, and any dust, debris, and mold spores. The general breakdown most are familiar with is grass hay, alfalfa hay, and grass-alfalfa mix. Grass hays are further broken down into types. So-o-o-o, for goats (generic) and/or goats of particular breeds, could you break down what kind of hay the homesteader should be looking for to have the happiest, healthiest and most productive goats? BTW, when we had them, we free-ranged them. Forgedabout the roses---they went fast!!! They also LOVE to climb things. And if you think you can keep them fenced with one of those underground electric fences with the radio collar, trust me, it WON'T WORK! They will either run it or stand near it long enough with the collar buzzing (but not shocking) until the battery runs down in the collar, and then they will just walk on through. And don't tether them to anything. They are both smart and really stupid, and they may get the rope somehow wrapped around their neck and strangle. Had it happen.


This too shall pass.
Freeholder, in your article on goats, you mentioned feeding hay. Having a horse, hay is a special issue with me because there is such a wide variation in nutritive value, given soil conditions, weather, when harvested, how cured and how stored, not to mention what grasses or legumes are IN the hay, and any dust, debris, and mold spores. The general breakdown most are familiar with is grass hay, alfalfa hay, and grass-alfalfa mix. Grass hays are further broken down into types. So-o-o-o, for goats (generic) and/or goats of particular breeds, could you break down what kind of hay the homesteader should be looking for to have the happiest, healthiest and most productive goats? BTW, when we had them, we free-ranged them. Forgedabout the roses---they went fast!!! They also LOVE to climb things. And if you think you can keep them fenced with one of those underground electric fences with the radio collar, trust me, it WON'T WORK! They will either run it or stand near it long enough with the collar buzzing (but not shocking) until the battery runs down in the collar, and then they will just walk on through. And don't tether them to anything. They are both smart and really stupid, and they may get the rope somehow wrapped around their neck and strangle. Had it happen.
I'm glad you bumped this, lectrickitty, because I hadn't seen TwinCougar's post.

First, you are totally correct about tethering goats. They can strangle. They can also get scared by something (perhaps your pet dog just running around playfully), spook, hit the end of the tether, and break their neck. Had that happen, too.

As for hay, I feed my does straight alfalfa, which is readily available here, as this is a major alfalfa-growing area. If you live where it's harder to get, then at least try to make sure they get a high-protein and high-calcium feed. Some other legumes will work, and so will comfrey, and probably quite a few 'weeds', tree branches, and brush. Bucks, once they are through growing, do fine on good grass hay. I do feed alfalfa to mine, as it's the same price as grass hay here (both are expensive!), and it's easier to just have one kind of hay on hand. But I do make sure the bucks get a little grain when they are eating alfalfa -- the phosphorus in the grain helps balance the calcium in the alfalfa, so hopefully the buck won't get urinary calculi. (I've never had a buck get urinary calculi, but it may have just been by the grace of God.)

When the goats are growing, pregnant, in milk, or working (pack and cart wethers, usually), they need to be well-fed. Especially milking does -- they are putting out a huge amount in the milk, and if you don't feed them properly, they not only won't produce to their potential, they will lose condition and may suffer health problems.

I am very interested in doing some container gardening this year. Anyone have any hints or sites I can go to? I went to the urban site posted above, but I can't get any of her vids to play on firefox. I"ll have to copy it over and go in on IE.
Container gardening is the best! At least, I think raised garden beds are essentially container gardens. You'd be surprised how much you can grow in small spaces. If you've got window sills, you've got room for rectangular planters.

Grow lights are good, too. I've had a hard time finding them, so if anyone has a good source, please let me know!


This too shall pass.
Gunnersmom, I found an interesting site about something called window farming -- it's a hydroponics setup, hanging in a bright sunny window. Here's a link: It wouldn't feed a family unless you had a LOT of south-facing window, but it would certainly provide some green stuff in the winter for a supplement, and a few fresh herbs. I want to try it in our one south-facing window, which is in my DD's bedroom -- I'll use her ten-gallon fish tank for the bottom water reservoir, and the fish poop in the water will help fertilize the plants.



My grow lights were getting old this year, went on line, checked out a lot of different ones, Settled on: AGROSUN FULL SPECTRUM GROW LIGHT.

made in Germany, 40 watt, 24000 hr rated. Got mine on E-bay, box says They may be distributors or importers.

Very nice, hard working lights, fit all 4' standard fixtures. Best plants ever.

I used 4 bulbs, in two shop lights, spaced evenly over 22"? x 60" rubber mat, laid on top of 1" styrofoam. Takes 5 10/20 trays, 2 of which are 20 row starter flats.

This will grow enough for 1/2 acre of zone 5/4 Maine gardening. and plants for sale, too.

Reading Stokes Seed catalog, saw note on peppers in the fine print, recommending Calcium Nitrate. Found on E-bay. Good summer here, but first time 3' tall peppers plus.
Site also had humic, fulvic acids and kelp soluable mix, and a mixed biological bugs mix.
( Also used prime compost, Azomite, and Manafee Humates) potatoes got 5-10-10 also. Plants responded overnight, and kept going.

For books, not to be forgotten is Five Acres and Independence, used low price on Amazon. First few years of gardening, need larger garden and wider spacing until soil gets built up. Long row garden plan is aged in varieties, but strong on layout for independent food supply.

Gardening when it counts book, too late for this year, but valuable for planting spacing recommendations based on your gardening style, and local climate, sun and rainfall.

A bigger garden can ge a lot less work. I weed only enough to give plants a head start, and keep from over running. Less bugs, less watering, and less weeding. Planting a bit more helps, if a variety is a ittle sparse.

All seed lasts years, cool, dry, in a 6 gal pail with gamma lid and dessicant pack. Buy early, and note seed pack size requiring current germination test information is the prime one for storage. Order early as possible, and order for the Next year. This will give you a year to locate out of stock or crop failure items. Cheap insurance.


Great Great Grandma!
Grow lights are good, too. I've had a hard time finding them, so if anyone has a good source, please let me know!
I've found good grow lights at Lowes, Home Depot, and even Walmart. I use them in my laundry room b/c I like the full spectrum light more than the normal lights.


This too shall pass.
I'm going to re-start this thread and see if we can't add some more useful information to it. I know I've learned a few things since we started this in 2008! For one thing, I can recommend a couple more books, both by Carol Deppe. One is called The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times, Including the Five Crops You Need To Survive and Thrive -- Potatoes, Corn, Beans, Squash, and Eggs. (Long title, EXCELLENT book.) Now, her 'five crops' are what works for her, in her climate. But she explains how she arrived at those five crops in such a way that you can take her ideas and work out your own 'five crops.'

In my case, we have a similar climate in that we don't get any rain in the summer; all our precipitation comes between the end of September and the middle of June -- most years. This year, we are in a drought. But my climate differs from Carol's in that we are on the East side of the Cascade Mountains (she's on the West side, in the middle of the Willamette Valley) and we are at a much higher elevation. So our growing season is much shorter and has colder nights throughout.

Potatoes grow commercially here, so we can do those.

I have chickens for eggs (she has ducks, but her winters are milder and much wetter than ours).

Rather than beans, we have peas (soup peas), and I'm going to try a couple of varieties of garbanzos and other cool-season, fast-growing legumes.

I have seeds for Painted Mountain corn, a flour corn (and one of her crops as well); it will probably take some time to select it into a strain that is well-adapted to our garden.

The squashes aren't well-adapted here, though I'm going to try a couple of them this year.

But root crops -- beets, carrots, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, kohlrabi, celeriac, daikon, onions, garlic, and so on, will grow well here as long as I can provide enough water. Oats, barley, and rye also grow pretty well here. So there are plenty of things we can grow for staple crops -- sources of calories that can be stored through the winter. Obviously that wouldn't be a complete diet, but we could live on it even if that was all we had, and I do have a small 'kitchen-garden' area for salad stuff, greens, and so on.

Our other staple, one Carol Deppe doesn't use because she's lactose-intolerant, is goat milk. I don't have much to change from my initial post on this thread almost six years ago about goats. I've gotten better at making goat cheeses, and normally keep jars of kefir going (we drink more kefir than plain milk).

Carol Deppe's other book that I highly recommend getting is called Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties: The Gardener's and Farmer's Guide to Plant Breeding and Seed Saving. This book is full of invaluable information on how to choose the plants you save seeds from, as well as how to save the seeds. In other words, how to develop your own highly-adapted crops that will do well in YOUR garden, and meet YOUR criteria for the quality of food you and your family want to eat.

I'll be back in a few minutes and talk about poultry. But first, I need to feed some newborn goat kids (it takes a while to persuade them to drink out of a bottle) and bring in some more firewood.

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This too shall pass.
Okay, babies have their little tummies full! (I had dried off my does-in-milk in early December when we had our cold spell, and then regretted it, as I thought it could be four months or more before we had milk again! Thankfully, Spice was bred earlier than I thought she was!) These twins, a buck and a doe, are half Pygmy; their mother is Oberhasli and Alpine. She's got a really nice temperament and is one of the best milkers I've ever had, but she also has one of the worst udders I've ever had. So I think the little buckling will be our Passover 'lamb' (goat kids are acceptable). Not sure yet what I'll do with the doeling.

On to poultry. I think the first thing to consider, for our purposes (feeding one's family in hard times) is how you are going to feed your poultry. If you have some land that usually has grass growing on it (green grass, not hard dried-up stuff like we've got most of the year), you might consider geese. They primarily eat grass, though if you want goose-fat for cooking, feeding some grain for a few weeks before butchering will increase the amount of fat on the carcass. One of the good things about geese, though, is that you can strip off some of their breast down annually without killing them, and use the down for stuffing pillows, down comforters and feather beds, jackets, and sleeping bags. Another good thing about geese is that they make excellent watch-dogs, although they are no match for larger predators. They will go broody and hatch out their own eggs, but you'll get more goslings if you incubate some eggs yourself in an incubator or under a large broody hen. If a goose does go broody, give her some protection from predators. The birds are pretty defenseless at night -- we lost a couple of clutches of eggs to raccoons one year, though the 'coons didn't harm the adult geese. Geese are fairly easy to contain, as most of them don't fly unless frightened and even then they are too heavy to fly far. You can use geese to weed certain crops, but keep them out of your vegetable garden!

Ducks are great in humid climates. They eat some plant material, but primarily they are bug-eaters, and they love slugs and snails. Here in the High Desert we don't have a lot of slugs or snails, so I'm sticking with chickens, but ducks are good choices for a lot of people. They aren't necessarily quiet, but can't be heard for a mile, like a rooster can. As long as there are bugs out, the ducks will provide a lot of their own feed, and, like the geese, they are relatively easy to keep contained where you want them. Being smaller, they are more vulnerable to predators, though. Some ducks make very good broody moms, and can bring off a clutch of ten or twelve ducklings once or twice a year. Ducks will eat some of your garden thinnings, and they can also benefit from some kitchen scraps.

Chickens can find some of their own food -- perhaps even almost all of it, if you live in a mild climate with plenty for them to forage for. Even if you have to keep them completely confined, though, you can probably keep one or two chickens per person on little more than kitchen and garden waste. That's not a lot, but it's enough to supplement your diet considerably if it becomes difficult to get sources of protein. Er, that it, if you select your breeds wisely (some don't lay very well). Breed choice is probably more important with chickens than with ducks or geese, simply because there are so many different breeds, and they aren't all equally good producers, nor are all adapted to the same living conditions.

For example, there are chickens that do extremely well free-range (such as the game breeds), and others that wouldn't last more than a few days (such as Silkies). Some don't mind small quarters (if you don't have much space, consider bantams or small large-fowl breeds), while others need a lot of room -- and it can have more to do with temperament than with the size of the birds. Some grow quickly and are efficient layers on small amounts of feed, while others take months longer to mature and eat like horses. The Henderson Chicken Breeds Chart can help with selecting breeds. Some lay well through the winter, even without lights, while others cut off all winter when you are likely to most need the eggs. Some are naturally cold-hardy, others are likely to suffer from frost-bite, or from mud or ice balls on their feathered feet. Some tolerate heat better than others. (All chickens tolerate cold weather better than extremely hot weather.) Moderate broodiness is also a good trait, unless you are willing to bet that you will always be able to replace your stock by buying it from the feed store or on-line nurseries. If you can't keep a rooster, of course, this is a moot point, but the rest of us need to keep it in mind.

I got some Golden-laced Wyandottes and Black Australorps with the intention of cross-breeding them for rose-combed birds that lay well in winter, and are cold-hardy and willing to go broody (but not excessively so). When it got down to twenty-four below zero in early December, however, even the GLW cockerels froze the ends of their wattles. The hens of both breeds seemed to come through fine, but if you want fertile eggs in the winter (hatching winter-laid eggs can help improve your flock in the winter-laying trait) the roosters also need to handle the cold weather without freezing anything. So I'm reconsidering -- I plan to get some Buckeyes, and may also get some Brown Leghorns and Easter Eggers -- crossing the latter two should give me some pea-combed birds, which I can cross back on the Leghorns since pea combs are dominant over single combs. The Buckeyes are also pea-combed and have small wattles, but are only average layers. They would be a good breed for someone for whom meat was a priority. My priority is eggs and feed efficiency, so I think we'll do better with the Leghorns, just want to get pea combs into them. Some people don't like Leghorns, saying they are flighty and skittish, and when they are very young, that's true (it's a survival trait -- skittish shy chicks are more likely to escape from predators than calm, fearless ones). However, they mostly get over it as they get older, and the Leghorns I've had were some of the first to run meet me when I went outside.

Chickens need a dry place, protected from drafts but well-ventilated, to take shelter. They also need protection from predators, especially from stray dogs (or even from your own dogs if they haven't yet been taught to leave your livestock alone). When young, they are even vulnerable to cats, though cats usually won't bother an adult chicken (possible exception being bantams). If you are going to breed (rather than just allow your flock to reproduce), you should also have some separate breeding pens so you can decide which of your flock will reproduce. For small birds such as bantams, rabbit cages can work well. I use wire cages made of rabbit wire for chicken tractors, moving the birds around the yard to fresh ground frequently. This works best for young birds that aren't laying yet, though I'm going to try adding nest boxes to my chicken tractors this year. The wire cages have some advantages. They are easy to build, since they don't need a frame. I put a scrap of plywood on top of each one to provide the birds with shade and protection from rain (tarps blow away; tarps fastened to the chicken tractors make the chicken tractors blow away). They are light and easy to move -- I've had heavy ones that were hard for one person to move. You have to watch, the first few times that you move the cages with chicks in them, and be prepared to rescue chicks that get a leg caught under the edge of the cage, but they soon learn to avoid being trapped. You also don't want loose goats to jump on the wire cages, as they'll smash them (it's happened at my house). Build your cages to fit your chickens. Mine were build for rabbits originally, so they are only 18" tall. This is fine for raising young chickens, but not tall enough to make breeding pens for large-fowl. They would work for breeding pens for bantams, however. If you want breeding pens for larger fowl, make your pens at least two feet tall, and preferably thirty inches.

Going to post this and add more later, as my daughter is telling me she's hungry.



Veteran Member
When to Wal-Mart yesterday and they now have their seeds, bulbs and seed potatoes out if you buy any additional garden stuff there.


This too shall pass.
I don't generally get garden stuff (or anything else, if I can avoid it) at Walmart, but I need to check at the feed store when I go to town on Monday (Grange Co-op). They are starting to get chicks in next week, and I have a feeling they'll have their seed potatoes and such coming in, also. I've got some seeds from Carol Deppe (author of the books I mentioned above) and I'm planning to get some from another breeder in northern Utah whose climate is more similar to ours. Plus I have a lot of seeds left from previous years, mostly from Fedco. I won't need to buy many more seeds, other than onions, parsley, and parsnips, I think.



Contributing Member
Is there any use for Black Walnuts? We have 4 English walnut trees, and they are great, but I feel bad just throwing the walnuts from the black walnut tree away.


Veteran Member
I live in North east Florida. My years of gardening experience in Western Washington State don't mean diddley here. Our soil is awful. And the last two years my garden has flooded with torrential rain. So this year I am going to try Straw Bale Gardening. I have some articles on it and I have the book on it and it seems really simple and use little space. Has anyone here tried it? Only my pole beans survived the flood the first year. I was able to get 25 pts of beans. Last year the flood arrived when my garden was only 4 or 5 inches high and I lost everything. By using straw bales stacked two deep I should be able to keep them out of the water. It should also be easier for me to garden as I am in an electric wheel chair a lot of the time. Bending over from a standing position is not an option for me. Love to hear from anyone doing this type of gardening.


Veteran Member
I don't do straw bale, Taz, but you might be able to get some great pointers from your local county extension. Is there anyone who gardens around you? If they have a garden you admire, talk to them. Most gardeners love to brag on their gardens!