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    Self-sustainability gardening and off-the-grid tools


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    Join date : 2010-04-07
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    Self-sustainability gardening and off-the-grid tools Empty Self-sustainability gardening and off-the-grid tools

    Post  Carol on Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:33 am

    Self-sustainability gardening and off-the-grid tools

    I've been accumulating this list for awhile now. Please feel free to add to it.

    Vortex Hand-crank blender

    It's cheaper at:;CS_010=82074

    A great kitchen tool for off-the-grid living. These blenders are great quality, will chop ice, blend smoothies and soaked beans for soup, etc. You can find them on Ebay much cheaper than the new REI model shown here.

    Lamp Wicking

    If you buy loose wicks on Ebay they cost a small fortune. Go direct to this manufacturer, and you can buy a 25 yard spool of 1" wicking for $10.61. The round wicking is also great.

    Denture Repair Kit

    This Ebay'er sells very high quality denture repair kits. For under $25 you can get a full set of loose teeth along with adhesive components. The quality is first class. When you receive the teeth, you can match them up to your own and, if needed, return them right away for a free replacement with a new set that's a few shades lighter or darker, and a size bigger or smaller, to match your own. Now that's service! They also sell denture re-lining kits.

    Fresnel Lenses

    If you're not familiar with Fresnel's, you'll want to read-up. This is an extremely affordable way to capture solar power for heating water, cooking, etc. They're not toys and you have to handle them super carefully – they'll start wood burning within seconds of focusing the lens, and will melt zinc and cement in less than a minute. You can also buy wallet-sized versions for emergency fire-starting. For less $130 you can buy one of the bigger lenses, which will boil water in seconds just by capturing and concentrating sun rays. They're amazing! This Ebay seller has great products and interesting videos embedded in his auction ads.

    Both can be used for solar cooking and solar hot water heating.

    There are two basic types of Fresnel lenses, Linear and Spot. Both lenses look identical to the naked eye in terms of the circular Fresnel pattern but a Spot lens will always appear more transparent. Spot lenses produce a very small tight beam at optimal focal length and are generally more powerful size for size. Linear lenses produce a long flat beam ranging from 1 inch high by 3 inches wide up to 1" x 12".

    Linear Fresnel Lens Advantages:
    • Less chance of damaging equipment if liquid evaporates
    • Long beam can be spread the length of a pipe
    • Powers a Steam Engine slower but more safely
    • More opaque due to physical nature, less light (power) transferred to project
    • Cannot be used for melting metals

    Spot Fresnel Lens Advantages:
    • High power heat transfer (available in Crystal Clear Acrylic perfection cutting)
    • Can be set to less of a focal length (ideal for cooking)
    • Melts copper and many other materials
    • Powers a Sterling Engine and Steam Engine

    • Instant flame and work hazard
    • Equipment damage
    • Does not spread over a pipe surface evenly"

    The Ultra-compact Backpackers Grill

    These grills are just great. They're compact stainless steel, basically a complete grill set-up that fits into an 11.4" tube, 0.9" dia. Easy to set-up & clean, gives you 100 sq. in. grill surface for pots or food right on the grill. Take up no space in your backpack, and double as a self-defense tool. $29.99

    Misting Systems

    Here's a great water misting system for gardens and people. If you're faced with bugging out in heavy-duty heat and you have a menopausal wife (lucky you), you'll want to have a good cooling system at the ready. You can hook this gear up to a gravity feed system, suspend it over your head, and stay wonderfully cool in a super-fine mist. And once the wife is cooled down, move the hose and keep your plants watered. This is particularly helpful if you're having to start an emergency garden under tough conditions. Getting tender seedlings to start is always tricky. If your food supply depends on them, it's crucial. This misting gear is the perfect water-regulation system. This Ebay'er sells complete sets, and also sells the plastic nozzles and T's so you can build your own. They're well made. $29.99

    "Seed to Seed" by Suzanne Ashworth

    Seed Saving: You've stocked up on your heirloom seeds. Now you'll need to know how to save seed each year, and that's a bit of an art form. Here's a great book on keeping seed that's easy to follow yet very detailed. $24.95

    Heat Sealed Foil Barrier Packets

    And here are some great heat-seal foil packets to store seed in. You can write on them, store in them, and they'll double as 'product packaging' so you can sell extra seed each year. 50 for $10

    Interesting article on storing seeds -- a formal approach. These guys also use the foil heat-seal packs. FWIW.
    3.99 per pail
    1.09 per lid

    --Plastic Pails And Lids
    --Safely store or ship your products in these durable pails.
    --High density polyethylene construction withstands temperatures up to 180°F.
    --Stackable but easily separated due to tapered design.
    --FDA, USDA and NSF approved.

    They'll ship all over, but shipping can be spendy. Still, if you can't get the pails in your local area, this might help.

    SEARCH: pails

    ULINE carries the Vermiculite in 4-cubic-ft bags. We bought 5 bags tonite for $100 plus $8.75 taxes. It's what we use in the SQUARE FOOT GARDENING method. Wish we'd known earlier...coulda saved some money. Lowe's charges nearly $9.00, and that's for only 10 dry qrts.

    SEARCH: vermiculite

    The company also sells Carboys for water (and shelves to hold them) plus new containers for all sorts of food items. They are oriented to business packaging, but they do sell things like 1-gallon water jugs, etc.

    Check local health food stores for smaller quantities for wheat berries and other whole grains.

    For bulk


    This Ebay'er (batterymonster) has a great deal on rechargeable's. You can buy sets of 8 AA's, 2,600 mAh, for under $10. AND, they include four converter canisters that turn your AA's into D's. You just put two AA's in the canister and plug that into anything that needs a D battery. Viola! Bob's your Uncle (or your Aunt, if you come from a weird family). The converter cases are really sturdy and the metal contacts give you a good connection.


    There are plenty of US vendors selling New Zealand canned butter, but the costs to have it shipped across by someone like Survival Enterprises is steep… shipping is more than the case of butter.

    But here's a great alternative – can your own. You'll get the same consistency and taste of regular butter, and won't pay a dime more than the price of the butter (assuming you already have you Mason jars in stock).

    1. Use any butter that is on sale. Lesser quality butter requires more shaking (see #5 below), but the results are the same as with the expensive brands.

    2. Heat pint jars in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes, without rings or seals. One pound of butter slightly more than fills one pint jar, so if you melt 11 pounds of butter, heat 12 pint jars. A roasting pan works well for holding the pint jars while in the oven.

    3. While the jars are heating, melt butter slowly until it comes to a slow boil. Using a large spatula, stir the bottom of the pot often to keep the butter from scorching. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes at least: a good simmer time will lessen the amount of shaking required (see #5 below). Place the lids in a small pot and bring to a boil, leaving the lids in simmering water until needed.

    4. Stirring the melted butter from the bottom to the top with a soup ladle or small pot with a handle, pour the melted butter carefully into heated jars through a canning jar funnel. Leave 3/4" of head space in the jar, which allows room for the shaking process.

    5. Carefully wipe off the top of the jars, then get a hot lid from the simmering water, add the lid and ring and tighten securely. Lids will seal as they cool. Once a few lids "ping," shake while the jars are still warm, but cool enough to handle easily, because the butter will separate and become foamy on top and white on the bottom. In a few minutes, shake again, and repeat until the butter retains the same consistency throughout the jar.

    6. At this point, while still slightly warm, put the jars into a refrigerator. While cooling and hardening, shake again, and the melted butter will then look like butter and become firm. This final shaking is very important! Check every 5 minutes and give the jars a little shake until they are hardened in the jar! Leave in the refrigerator for an hour.

    7. Canned butter should store for 3 years or longer on a cool, dark shelf. [It does last a long time. We have just used up the last of the butter we canned in 1999, and it was fine after 5 years.] Canned butter does not "melt" again when opened, so it does not need to be refrigerated upon opening, provided it is used within a reasonable length of time.

    A lovely glow seems to emanate from every jar. You will also be glowing with grateful satisfaction while placing this "sunshine in a jar" on your pantry shelves.

    You can buy butter on sale, then keep it frozen until you have enough for canning 2 or 3 batches of a dozen jars each.

    As for solar tracking...

    Click on the graphics icon to see the nuts and bolts of the system.

    A Tesla turbine

    Exploring the solar angle...

    All leading scientists agree that the hydrogen future depends on free energy systems -- wind, geothermal, hydro and solar being the best pollution-free sources of power. Since solar energy has the highest energy density of these, we are going to continue to focus on this 21st century energy source.

    As far as rechargeble batteries, look for Sanyo Eneloops...they're NiMH and of a low self discharge design...the problem of most rechargeble batteries is they're dead after a month or so...Eneloops hold the charge for a far they are only available in AA size...coupled with a solar charger, you'll be set in emergencies...

    Non rechargeble lithium batteries like the AA, AAA, and Cr123 may seem expensive, but they have a greater capacity, low temperature performance, and long shelf life...recent ones have "use by" dates of 2021...order them online for best savings... btw the cr123 size is for hi performance flashlight like surefires..

    Making your own soap...

    Steel Tent Stakes

    Tired of cheap, crummy tent stakes that bend, split or break? Here's a California manufacturer of super-excellent steel stakes. Then come in 10", 12" and 14" lengths. They have a nice big nail head, and both a hook and ring that are welded to the spike. These babies will last you longer than whatever it is you're tying down.

    The Picklemeister

    Scroll ¾ of the way down this webpage to see a great set-up for making pickled foods. The Picklemeister is a 1-gallon fermentation jar with an airlock fitting that forces the fermentation process. Instead of having to wait many months for good pickles, sauerkraut or pickled beets, you can produce them in a week. That means you can process large quantities of your garden produce, get it pickled, then re-can it.

    Soil pH Tester

    Tools that guarantee your ability to produce a successful garden each year are worth their weight in gold. This Soil pH tester is a self-powered, 'never dies' tool that eliminates the need to keep buying the cheap pH strip test kits each year. This is the professional model. You poke it into the soil a few inches and get an easy-to-see digital readout on the top of the unit. I love tools like this that never wear out and aren't dependent on a power source.

    Essential Oil Distillation:

    It's hard for me to imagine going into a meltdown world without a good supply of Oregano Oil, one of the most potent natural antibiotics known to man. Oregano is very easy to grow, but extracting pure, potent oil from it is a lot more complicated. Buying it at the health food store is expensive… $30 for a 2 oz. bottle, where I am. Aside from growing/making my own, pure oils will be a great barter item in the days ahead. I think Oregano Oil will be especially valuable, because everyone's immune system is liable to get smacked due to anxiety. One solution is to buy your own steam distillation system. You could even get a little consortium of friends together to pitch in for one. My research led me to this as one of the best, most cost-effective units. If you're clever, and got an A+ in chemistry, you might be able to build your own based on the drawings here. ($399.00)

    The Water Bob:

    Those of you who listen to the Armchair Survivalist show on Saturday are probably familiar with this item. It's basically like a water bed liner, shaped to fit in your bathtub. If you think you're about to get nailed by a storm that will result in losing water services (electric off, water main broken)… or if trouble hits, this will allow you to quickly dump your hot water tank into a clean and more accessible receptacle. The quality of the Water Bob bag is great and it's equipped with a good hose and pump system for filling, transferring and emptying. ($29.99)

    With a little work, this item can also double as a good means to move a lot of water overland. Here's one plan: nail a few heavy-duty skids together and attach two steel runners underneath (like a sled). Build a long box (roughly the same length & width as a bathtub) and secure that to the skids. Inside, line it with heavy Styrofoam or some cushioning material. Throw a couple wool blankets in the bottom, overlapping the sides. Now you can haul this apparatus to a stream or spring, put the Water Bob in the frame and fill it up. Tie it to your truck hitch or pull it by horse or other means, and you've got an easy way to transport 100 gallons, store it, and use it as needed. If you need to move the Bob out of the box, just pick up the blankets, which should support it for transport to another spot indoors, or whatever. (Of course, water is very heavy (8.3 lbs/gallon), so you'll be needing lots of help to move one of these plastic whales.)

    Affordable Wind Turbine:

    Instead of relying on a single alternative source of energy, our plan incorporates solar (regular panels and Fresnel lense) along with wind. If the day's sunny or stormy, we still pull down a good bit of energy into the battery bank. All the wind turbines I found were very expensive, but this one is really affordable, and high quality. Has a PLC controller that maximizes energy transfer to batteries, it's quiet, and easy to get a secure installation. The company has a whole range of more expensive models, too. ($725.00)

    Hand-crank Cellphone Charger:

    A battery-free, hand crank charger for your cell phone. While you may not keep your cellphones long after TSHTF, this could at least serve you well during your bugout trip. Murphy's Law being what it is, your cell phone battery will probably be run right down just about the time you have to hit the road. For me, this is a must-have item for cruising around in the bush. Crank for two minutes to get six minutes of talking time, and you can crank & chat endlessly. This is a good, durable unit, unlike some of the cheap-o hand-crank flashlights and radios, which have handles that break after the first dozen cranks. ($24.99)

    Food Grade Water Hose

    Not only is it unpleasant to have to drink water that tastes like an outdoor garden hose, it's not healthy. Most garden hoses are made from petroleum products. When they lie in the sun full of water, the contaminants seep into the water. Then your thirsty kid comes along and drinks it, or gives it to the dog. Not good. It's easy enough to just spray water until you've emptied the hose, but if you're in an emergency situation you won't want to waste all that water. Here's the solution. These food grade water hoses are 50 feet long, and are quite affordable compared to regular high quality garden hoses. ($25.95)

    Pocketknives, Bowie's, etc.

    A pocketknife really durable that would fit (female) hand, hold a good edge, and be enjoyable to use is beautiful hand-made knife. The auction ad text is in German (seller is in Canada), but you can use this online translator to convert text to English

    They're done in 200-layer Damask steel, in a beautiful 'wave' pattern. Super-well constructed. If you really track the auctions, you can pick one up for cheap. ($30 to $80)

    Flashlight 'Comparison Shopper' Reviews

    This person has put together an excellent research website on flashlights. He obviously knows his stuff, and is a diligent user and tester. My favour fanny pak light is the Fenix P2D-CE. It's a little pricey at $45, but super-quality in every way. The next best comparable I've found to this model is the Dorcy Metalgear Luxeon, which is half the price, but missing many of the great features.

    Solar Battery and Cell Phone Charger
    Seller's page (in case this auction is expired):]

    Now that you've got a great flashlight in your BO bag, you'll want a way to keep those batteries charged. This is the nicest compact solar charger, charges two sizes of batteries – four each of AA's or AAA's, and it has an adapter cord for charging cell phones. Depending on your phone, you may need an adapter to get from this plug to your input, but they're available out there if you look around.

    This little solar charger folds open/closed so it's compact to carry. Has a hard case so you can jam it into your pack without worry. Has a blocking diode to prevent reverse flow and over-charge. Belt clip included. ($25.99)

    Clay pot "Kandle Heater"

    There's a lot of information about how the Kandle Heater works and how it's made at that page, where you can purchase them. Something new uses a light bulb as well, 90% of a light bulb's energy is produced as heat, and only 10% as light. So the Kandle Heater helps collect that heat as a supplementary source in your home.

    They were mentioning RVers using these heaters, that makes sense. Might be a good thing to have in the car too for an emergency although it is said the clay absorbs moisture which has to bake out before it's efficient and that it takes awhile for the moisture to burn out of the clay pots.

    12' x 9' - STRAIGHT WALLS - SLEEPS 10 PEOPLE - 2 ROOMS $119.92

    Biomass stoves boilers wind solar...local company, great service

    Bake, boil, or steam the natural way, plus... create all your favorite slow-cook recipes just like using a conventional crock pot while you're busy or away at work! Anything you can cook in a conventional gas or electric oven can be cooked in a Sun Oven.

    Simply set it in direct sunlight, point it the proper direction, place your meal inside the oven chamber, and The Global Sun Oven will provide a superior tasting repast – for FREE!!!

    The Sun Oven works even in subzero air temperatures, as long as the sun is out, the oven will capture the sun’s energy and cook as if it were a tropical day. The oven will heat up quicker on clear, low humidity days.

    Self-sustaining aquaponic garden (grows fish, fruits and vegetables)
    How do his veggies grow? The no-dig way

    There currently are about six such systems in the world. Organic farming uses aquaponics to grow talapia fish in tanks, recycles the fish water in long rectangular raised water filled flats encased in a wood frame about 12 inches high, 30 feet long, filled with the circulating fish water that is then cleaned and recycled back into the fish tank(s). These raised water beds are covered with 2 inch steryo foam insulation panels cut to fit the water bed and with 3 to 4 inch holes cut into the panel in long rows. In each hole is place a small 3" or 4" by 2"(inch) basket filled with a special mixture of soil where the seed is planted. Within 21 days one gets the most incredible lettuce, tomatoes, leeks, strawberries... all types of surface vegetables where the roots grow down into the fish water and get its nutrients for growth. Hydroponics does not need dirt or fertalizer and can be put almost anywhere. The whole system only takes about 50 gallons of water a day (about 5 toilet flushes worth of water total). The fish tank is covered with a shade fabric so there is no real evaporation there and the water beds are also covered. In the water beds are mosquito eating tiny fish to take care of that problem.

    This system is completely weed free. However, root crops still need dirt. Anyway, they are developing whole family systems would cost about 5k and includes training, materials and set-up. One could easily feed their family fish and fresh organic produce from their own backyard. This would also make a great school project where children learn about growing fish for food and organic aquaponic gardening. However, if one knows how to do this I think the cost would just be the supplies. A water tank for the fish can be made out of plywood done up as a box which is lined, which was the starter tank at their place.

    Info on this system is available from Tim Mann and Susanne Friend at

    coffee can bread recipes | recipe goldmine bread recipes
    coffee can bread recipes, including a recipe for Can Can Date Nut Bread. breadcoffeecan/breadcoffeecan.html

    Coffee Can Bread: Breads and Rolls Recipe
    Recipe for Coffee Can Bread, part of a collection of family breads and rolls recipes. This unique bread recipe is baked in coffee cans.

    Aquaponics gardening and raising fish:

    Posts : 6
    Join date : 2010-04-14
    Location : Missouri

    Self-sustainability gardening and off-the-grid tools Empty Re: Self-sustainability gardening and off-the-grid tools

    Post  Ladyfreedom on Tue Jun 15, 2010 12:15 am

    Thanks for this part of the forum Carol.
    Anyone that knows me very well, knows how my dad and I used to have contests to see who could grow the better garden.
    Of course, I kept telling him if 8 foot tall weeds counted I'd win hands down! lol
    My biggest problem right now is that I have no way of tilling a garden on my own.
    My dad used to till it for me. When he got around to it. Which was usually almost too late.
    When he passed on, I got his big walk behind tiller. But the first year, I was sick and in the hospital. And then this year. As fast as I pour the gas into the tank, it pours out the bottom. Not sure what is wrong.
    So for now. I have no way of tilling a garden.
    So I've been thinking more and more of off grid farming. And I'm thinking it'll take either a team of draft horses to plow up the garden, OR.... build up raised beds that don't have to be tilled EVER!
    My ultimate goal is to have a self sufficient farm. Enough land to grow my own feed. Such as corn, oats, hay, wheat, etc....
    And of course enough land for farm animals also. And a small orchard.
    Right now I could raise chickens, horses, and cows, but I'd have to purchase their feed and hay. Because I don't have the land to produce my own. So that is my long term goal. To purchase more land.
    Would prefer the 300 acres behind us. But not sure he'd ever sell.

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