Friday, December 19, 2014

How To Grow Mushrooms in a 5-Gallon Bucket

Growing mushrooms in a five-gallon bucket is easy. In today's video, my friend Mart shows us how.

I'm quite impressed with the simplicity of this method of growing mushrooms. Mushrooms are an excellent addition to anyone's diet and with how easy they are to cultivate - particularly in the case of Oyster mushrooms - I could see this idea taking off on homesteads.

Mart sent me home with the bucket we created and I'll be keeping an eye on it. The photos at the end of this video are ones he took at his place.

You can find the cool drill bit we were using here. And the reamer/deburring tool is here.

Also, Firehouse Subs sells their used buckets for a couple of bucks - that's an easy way to get started on the cheap.

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Coming shortly...

I've almost got a new video on mushroom cultivation ready to post.

I'll get it up here sometime today - stay tuned.


Now YouTube is claiming I don't own the rights to the music I added to my video... despite the fact that it's from a CD I specifically purchased as a royalty-free collection of music. Thanks, Google.

Anyhow - I'm reposting with different music. Will get it up here sometime today... hopefully.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Self-Watering Grow Bag Grow System

Larry Hall has some very interesting ideas:

Though I generally like growing directly in the ground, I have to admit: I'm tempted to do a few self-watering gardens, especially since I've already got a half-dozen pools for my Chinese water chestnuts.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Recipe: Christmas Seminole Pumpkin Bread

The following post was contributed by Mrs. Survival Gardener.

Probably the most common use of pumpkin in America is to put it in pie.

At least that's what I've been hearing a lot lately.

Imagine you've had a bumper crop of pumpkins and you'd like to share your bounty with some friends.  "Hmmm. Thanks for the, um, pumpkin. I guess I'll make pie."

Beyond that, we seem to be at a sort of loss with what to do with it.

Don't get me wrong, I know there are pumpkin lattes at the coffee joint around the corner, but most people aren't going to look at a fresh pumpkin and think mmmmmm, coffee! 

So I thought I'd help you out, fellow bumper crop gardeners. The following recipe for pumpkin bread is as heirloom as the pumpkins we're going to use. 

It comes from my fantastic mother-in-law, who makes it every year around Christmas and gives it away to friends and family. This year, since we're always looking for new ways to grow what we eat and eat what we grow, I thought I'd use one of our beautiful Seminole pumpkins to make pumpkin bread. 

If you have a stash of Seminole pumpkins, like we do, choose the most deep orange one you can find.

Like sweet potatoes, Seminole pumpkins turn sweeter after you pick them an let them sit on the shelf for a little while (like a couple of weeks). A good indicator of this, I believe though you'd have to ask David for corroboration, is its deep orange color. When you first pick them they taste more vegetable-y. Later, when they're more orange, the starches have converted to sugar and they are sweeter.

Cut the pumpkin in half width-wise and scrape out the seeds and stringy bits. Save those seeds! They can either be roasted for a delicious snack, or planted in the spring.

Win, win.

Then roast the pumpkin halves.

Once they're roasted, scoop out the innards into a bowl...

...and mash them.

Next, grease and flour three loaf pans.

Sift together some flour, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and cinnamon.

Ok, I didn't technically sift.

I just mixed the dry ingredients around in the mixer a bit. The bread will still turn out well.

Now put some butter, water, mashed pumpkin, vanilla, and eggs in a bowl...

...and beat them.

At this point you're going to want to taste it and decide how much sugar to put in. Canned pumpkin, obviously, has a set amount of sugar in it. The Seminole pumpkin will very in natural sweetness, but generally they're about twice as sweet as boring old pie pumpkins from the store.

The original recipe from my wonderful mother-in-law calls for 3 c. of sugar.

I recommend you add the sugar 1/4 to 1/2 c. at a time, mix and then taste. Think to yourself, Do I really want this any sweeter?

If the answer is "no" leave it where it is. Mix well.

Now pour the batter into the pans...

...and bake!

This is so very much worth the effort, which really isn't that big a deal.

The kids ate it straight. and still warm from the oven. I put some butter on it. Cream cheese would also be amazing.

Really, it's just so very good it doesn't matter how you eat it.


By the time I got to staging a final picture, we had plowed through most of a loaf. Actually, I'm not sure David got to eat any of this.

Hmmm, I guess that means I'll have to make more.

Thanks, Mom for the recipe!

Here's the more traditional format for the recipe.

Seminole Pumpkin Bread

Preparing the pumpkin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut pumpkin in half width wise and scoop out seeds and stringy bits. Bake for 1 hour or until very soft when poked with a knife.

Scoop out the pumpkin and mash.

Baking the bread

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Grease and flour three loaf pans.

Sift together:

     3 1/3 c. flour
     2 tsp. baking soda
     1 tsp. nutmeg
     1 1/2 tsp. salt
     1 tsp. cinnamon

Beat together:

     1 c. softened butter
     2/3 c. water
     2 c. cooked, mashed pumpkin
     1 tsp. vanilla
     4 eggs
Add sugar, 1/4 to 1/2 c. at a time, to taste; mixing after each addition. Up to 3 c.

Mix dry ingredients into wet ingredients.

Pour batter into loaf pans and bake until done (approximate 1 - 1.5 hours)

Enjoy, and don't forget to save some for your hard-working, gardening husband!

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Another Winged Yam/Edible Air Potato Harvest

Check out this good-looking 10lb yam:

Yep, that's another Dioscorea alata, AKA the "edible air potato", ube yam, winged yam, etc.

My friend Rick invited me over to his place and let me film him harvesting this root - check it out:

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Crash Gardening Mini-Episode: Three Amazing Hoes

Earlier this year I received three hoes from my friend Greg at Here's my review:

Greg knew I was a homesteading type and interested in tilling off-grid and without gasoline... and after trying out these tools, I think they're a big part of that equation.

The grub hoe is now my go-to tool for planting trees and shrubs in my food forest, as well as for digging out small ponds and rapidly breaking up the soil. It's a monster.

The grape hoe is excellent for clearing tough weeds from the surface of the soil, whereas the triangular adze hoe is a super-fast chopper in the garden.

I'm a convert. At this point, if I didn't have them already, I'd be buying all three.

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Friday, December 12, 2014

How to Make Sugarcane Syrup WITHOUT a Cane Press: The Video!

Of all the posts I've ever done, the one I did on making cane syrup without a sugarcane press is now the most popular. That single entry consistently gets over 50 views a day.

There's obviously some interest there. People want to grow their own cane on a small scale and enjoy some homegrown organic cane syrup on their pancakes.

So this year when we decided to harvest our cane and make cane syrup, I figured it would be a good idea to do a quick and simple video on how I boil the sugar out of the cane.

There's definitely some time involved, but you'll forget all about the time it took when you taste the syrup.

Here's my new video:

By the way, if you're not subscribed to my YouTube channel yet, click here and subscribe.

I'm posting plenty of in-depth and helpful "how-to" information on gardening and homesteading, plus some stupid nonsense because I'm totally a weird ham on camera.

See you there.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

@The Brilliant Homestead: How To Butcher a Psychotic Rooster

In case you didn't see it yet, there's a new entry over at The Brilliant Homestead. It's a photo-essay on butchering a rooster. Vegans and the sensitive may want to avoid the post; however, if you're at all interested in slaughtering your own birds, it's a must-read.
-David the Good
How To Butcher a Psychotic Rooster

Have you ever encountered a psychotic rooster?
You know the type. The beady eyes. The untrustworthy gait.
psychotic rooster
I want to kill you and your family. And your cat.
First it attacks your dog. Then your cat. Then your toddler.
And then one day you walk outside and turn the corner and then BAM – it nails you in the calf! Dripping blood down your injured leg, you try to escape – but the rooster is one step ahead of you. With a great leap into the air, it flaps towards your face, tearing at your hair and removing your eyeballs with his razor-sharp beak…
…and as the blood loss increases and you fall heavily to the ground, you regret having never had the guts to strike while you could.
In your last moments, though eyeless, you suddenly see the future in frightening clarity: this rooster will feast on your corpse, eventually killing anyone and everything in its megalomaniacal path to absolute power.
Don’t let that happen. When a rooster goes bad, it’s time to eat him. Today you’re going to learn how to convert him from a barnyard bully into a superb supper.
Are you ready to learn how to butcher a chicken? Today’s post is rather gory but better the rooster than you, right?
So, you ask yourself, “how can I butcher a rooster?” It’s not that hard. It starts with slaughtering.

Slaughtering a Rooster

There are multiple schools of thought on the best way to kill poultry.
A common old method was to swing the bird and snap its neck. Picture a gnarled old grandmother brutally executing birds in the poultry yard and you get the picture.
Poultry farmers like Joel Salatin usually go for the killer klownkilling cone method. With this approach you invert the bird head-down into a downward-facing cone (like this one), then slit its throat.
We’ve tried that method and don’t like it. We prefer the swift finality of a decapitation.
Machete style.

CLICK HERE to keep reading (and see the gory details!) over at The Brilliant Homestead.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A DIY Smoked Hot Pepper Sauce Recipe

I love spicy foods so much I grow my own peppers.

However, as frosts sweep through in the fall and winter, sometimes you're stuck picking a whole bunch of peppers all at once in order to save them from the cold.

Since peppers are edible and tasty in all stages of growth, why not make yourself a big batch of hot pepper sauce?

Even better, why not make yourself a big batch of SMOKED hot pepper sauce?

Last week I showed you how I turned my StoveTec rocket stove into a makeshift smoker.

Today I'll show you how to take your smoked peppers and turn them into a hot sauce that's so savory and incredible that it would make Chuck Norris cry. That is, if he had tear ducts.

Ready? Let's make it!

A Smoked Hot Pepper Sauce Recipe

First, start with a batch of smoked hot peppers.

Red and green cayennes, jalapenos, habaneros, paprikas... I even threw in a handful of green tomatoes.

Now chop off the stems. I use my pair of small Felco picking shears. (RANDOM PRODUCT PLACEMENT!!! EVIL CAPITALISMS!!! Hehhehheheheheheh)

Throw your peppers in the blender.

It doesn't have to be a grungy hard-water-marked thrift store blender like mine. It can be a nice new blender. Any blender will do, really.

Now cover the peppers in vinegar. If you like cider vinegar, use that. I've used white wine vinegar and it was excellent. This time I only have white distilled vinegar, so I used it. It still will taste amazing - trust me.

After you've covered your hot peppers with vinegar, run the blender!

I know, that stuff looks like a baaaaaaaaaaaaad college weekend, but stick with me.

Now it's time to add a tablespoon of salt.

Then a tablespoon of sugar.

And finally, a tablespoon of garlic powder. Unless you thought to add some garlic cloves to your smoker when you did the peppers... mmm.

That's a really weirdly surrealistic image. 

Thank you, Mrs. David The Good. 


Really strange.

Okay, now you blend the sauce a final time to mix it all in, then pour your freshly minted smoky homemade hot pepper sauce into Mason jars for canning.

At this point you can either throw your hot sauce in the fridge (it will keep for a long time that way, thanks to the vinegar) or you can go ahead and can it. I opted for the latter.

This sauce has a rich, smoky-hot flavor that will make you want to eat more and more of it. I've been enjoying it on my eggs every morning, as well as in my chili... on my chicken... in my ice cream...

It's really good. Try and see. Homemade pepper sauce is pretty simple... but it will have your guests raving over your incredible culinary skills.

So long as they don't see the grungy blender you made it in. That's our little secret.


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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Debt-free Home Ownership

As the owner of a debt-free home (which took me ten years to pull off, plus some extra help from God), I can attest to the amazing freedom that comes from being out from under the heel of the banks.

The following post is by Simon Johnson of My Permaculture. It's worth sharing.

-David The Good

Debt-Free Home Ownership

“On applying to the assessors, I am surprised to learn that they cannot at once name a dozen in the town who own their own farms free and clear.  If you would know the history of these homesteads, inquire at the bank where they are mortgaged”  – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Such is the way of the 21st century home owner.  Spelled out by Henry Thoreau all the way back in 1854.  He saw what was happening to the western world back then and today the things he said in Walden are even truer.  Now it is nearly unimaginable for someone to buy a home without getting a mortgage and paying for the next 25 plus years.  This is the norm.
Have you ever looked up the origins of the word mortgage?
mortgage - Old French mortgage, equivalent to mort, dead (< Latin mortuus) + gage,pledge
Indeed a death pledge.  Having a mortgage basically sucks all the life out of you by making it so you have to work really hard every day for a long time to pay the monthly payments.  Usually 25 plus years!
Let’s say you took out a 25 year $100 000 mortgage (most houses these days are over twice that much) at a rate of 6% interest.  That works out to be a monthly payment of $644.31 and a total payment of $193 293.  Holy smokes, that’s almost double the amount initially borrowed!
So just by following the standard operating procedure of today’s society and getting a mortgage to buy a house you can’t afford, you end up paying twice as much for it with the interest payments.  You are paying the bank as much as you borrowed.  What a sweet deal for the banks.
But you don’t want to pay the bank a stupidly large amount of money and still be able to own a home?  You want to be debt free and not be renting a crappy apartment for the rest of your days?  You don’t want to work really really hard for the next 25 plus years at a job you don’t like and live in a beautiful home you fully own?  Absurd!  Crazy!  That will never happen!  Pipe dreams!  Can’t be done!  Is what they will tell you.  But….
It can be done!  It should be done!
How you ask?
The journey to debt free home ownership begins with the accumulation of money.  I hope you didn’t think there was a way to do this without money, because there isn’t (unless you are really lucky).  The world we live in uses money, so we must also use money.  Money is a tool to get what we need/want.  We need a home to live in and time to enjoy life.  We need money to pay for the home so we don’t have to sign up for a ‘death pledge’  and sacrifice all our time paying back a loan.
“A dollar saved is worth a whole lot more than a dollar earned, because we have to earn so darn many of them to save so precious few.” Rob Roy, Mortgage Free
So true indeed.
To accumulate money quickly, extreme saving techniques need to be implemented.  By following a philosophy of living based on providing for your needs and seriously reducing your luxuries, it is easy to save a ridiculously high percentage of your income.  Before you know it you will have a large amount of money saved up and you are one step closer to owning a home outright.  There are many strategies for going about doing this.  You should check out my article on extreme saving and these other blogs which go into great detail on the subject. ERE and MMM.
Once you have a good chunk of money saved up, it is time to go out and look for a piece of land.  There are many factors to think about when buying a piece of land and you should think carefully on them.  Where do you want to live?  How much land do you want/can you afford?  What kind of jobs are in the area?  Will you be on or off the grid power?  Is the land suitable for establishing a permaculture farm?  You shouldn’t spend all your hard saved money on the land either; keep a bit to build your initial living quarters.  There are always costs you don’t factor in to your initial calculations, so having a little extra is always a good idea.
There are a few ways to go about looking for the right piece of land, such as MLS sites, classified ads, or contacting a real estate agent in the area.  These are all well and good ways of getting property, but they might not land you the best deal.  Maybe the way to find the best deal is to go land prospecting.
What I mean by this is driving around the country side in the general area of where you would like to purchase land and look for nice spots and for sale by owner signs.  If you see a place that looks really nice and you might like to live there, go around and start talking to the neighbours.  See if they know who owns that land and if they might be willing to sell you some, or if they know of anyone in the area who might.  Who knows, that piece of land might belong to some old person who wants to see something done with the old family farm, but would rather not sell to an industrial farmer.  You might be exactly what they are looking for in terms of someone to take over their land.  By creating the opportunity for it, amazingly good luck may just come your way and you get a super sweet deal.  If you don’t go out and try you’ll never know.  You can always go back to the MLS sites and real estate agents, but they will almost certainly not bring you super sweet deals.
By talking to the locals you can also begin to establish some relationships and find out in more detail what the area is like.  You might learn some key information, or just make a new friend.  If you happen to get a place near by, these people might help you out with your projects, or hire you on to do some work for them, or be one of your loyal future customers.  Building community is always a good idea and it starts with talking to the locals.
So you saved up a bunch of money, did some prospecting, found a sweet deal and now you own a nice little piece of land which you payed cash for.  No need to get a loan because of your excellent saving and prospecting skills.  Now it’s time to move out of your apartment, quit paying rent and get on to the land you just purchased.  ‘But I need a place to sleep’ you say…
(CLICK HERE to keep reading!)

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Crash Gardening S2, Episode 4: Michael Moore Greenhouse Tour

In today's very special episode of Crash Gardening we're taken on a greenhouse tour by filmmaker Michael Moore.

Join him and take a look at coffee, tea, datura, chaya, starfruit and the evils of capitalism.


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Friday, December 5, 2014

Introducing a New Project: The Brilliant Homestead

I've gotten involved with a new homesteading website project I think you all will appreciate.

Introducing The Brilliant Homestead:

There are still some bugs; however, this site is slated to be a massive repository of good homesteading ideas and feeds from multiple other homesteading sites.

From gardening to rocket stoves, greenhouses to snow shovels... it'll be there. Right now I only have a few articles and some pieces scrounged from here... but soon... soon!

I think Florida Survival Gardening is too regional for some of the topics worth covering. The Brilliant Homestead will allow for a much broader range of topics.

Add it to your reading list. There's a lot more on the way. And if you have any suggestions of sites or topics that should be over there - pass 'em on!

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Check Out This HUGE Yam Tuber! All Hail the Edible Air Potato!

Dioscorea alata - the "edible air potato" or "winged yam" - is one of my favorite wild edible plants.

Check out this root I found growing at the base of a tree:

That's 27lbs of root there.


(And yes, I was out digging in the rain.)

There's a patch of rough woods by a gas station near my place that is loaded with Dioscorea alata plants, just waiting to be eaten. (For a guide on identifying the edible ones, click here.)

According to my calculations, this one tuber contains 14,220 calories. That's enough food for 7 days.


Even better, the winged yam isn't a bland root like canna or a sweetish root like cassava.

The winged yam tastes like a good white potato. You could eat it on a daily basis for a while without going nuts.

If you were to grow edible air potatoes on purpose, you'd start with one of the hanging aerial bulbils or a piece of root and plant it at this time of year an inch or two deep near a tree or a trellis the vines can climb.

The first year the root or bulbil grows a bit bigger, maybe into a few pound tuber. The second year it goes insane, making a gigantic root that looks like the one I found.

Quite a specimen, isn't it?

It's amazing what you can find growing in Florida's woods. I love this great state.

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