Can Apartment Preppers be More Self-Sufficient? Interview with Author LeAnn Edmondson

Can Apartment Dwellers be more self sufficient
This post is by Bernie Carr,
Last week we featured a review and giveaway of Aftermath II, A Story of Survival. Today I am delighted to share an interview with the author, LeAnn Edmondson.  LeAnn writes the blog Homestead Dreamer.  Having been an apartment prepper herself, she knows all about the challenges of preparing for emergencies in an apartment, as well as some encouraging words for those of us who aspire be more self-sufficient.
1.  A person who is new to preparedness can quickly become overwhelmed.  What steps would you recommend to a new prepper?
Every prepper goes through moments of panic and being completely overwhelmed. They feel that it’s all hopeless because they can’t do ‘enough’ to prep. In my mind, this is a first test that separates those who will continue on to improve their skills and preps versus those throw their hands up and quit because it’s all “too much.” The steps I would recommend would be to recognize the panic and fear, then work through them. Bring yourself to a state where you can assess and make a plan on how to deal with this ‘mini crisis.’ If you can’t get your feelings under control to be able to assess the situation, that is the first thing you need to learn and master. All the stocked food in the world won’t help you if you don’t know how to control your feelings to then make logical steps.
2.  Your website Homestead Dreamer shares ideas about becoming more self sufficient.  Do you think apartment dwellers can be more self-sufficient?  How?
YES!  Apartment dwellers have less control over the outside of their place but inside is their sanctuary. Apartment Preppers have to be more creative with storage and whatnot but in many ways, that’s an advantage. Looters want a quick grab and go and aren’t going to go out of their way to dismantle stuff that may or may not have food in it. Apartment preppers also tend to focus on skills more than stuff, another very distinct advantage. When we started prepping, we rented an apartment. Since we didn’t have the space for stuff, we decided to work on skills and that is where the real value is. Apartment preppers tend to learn that before people who live in their own houses.
3.  What do feel are the biggest threats we should be preparing for?
I can’t point to any one threat because they are all “huge.” One common thread through all of the threats of economic collapse, natural disasters, and civil unrest is the uncertainty. It seems everyone can feel the intensity ramping up. They know in their gut that something is coming, something has to give. The whole planet has too many people, using too many resources, and none of it’s sustainable. The bubble will pop eventually. The uncertainty that comes along with all of that is our ‘biggest threat,’ because no one know what direction it’s coming from or what form it will take. There seems to be an underlying panic and insecurity simmering under the surface. Perhaps that is what’s making so many people think about having a little extra set back, just in case.
4.  How close are you to your dream of homesteading?  What have you accomplished in your homestead so far?
Homesteading is a word that is defined differently by everyone. Our dream of homesteading the way we really want to is another 5-6 years away but anyone can homestead in place. So far, the things we have accomplished is largely in skills. Because we just moved to our first home, we are having to rebuild stuff up. This year’s garden will largely be on the porch as we have to cut some trees and brush back to make room for the greenhouse and coldframes. Another thing we have accomplished is learning, a lot, about all the things we want to have on the homestead and that includes the things we don’t want. We would love to be able to just buy the land raw and dive in but there is real value in the way we’ve had to pursue our dreams. We learn before we make choices and avoid making some potentially costly mistakes.
5.  What might you advise people who feel this dream may be out of reach?
I would tell them straight to their face that sometimes I feel like I am reaching for stars, deluding myself that I will ever have the homestead of my dreams. There have been times where I’m crying (yes, literally crying) because the desire is so strong to get out of the 9-5 rat race and work to produce what we need instead of trading my time for paper to then trade the paper for what I need. I would rather grow the food, catch the fish, and process it myself instead of paying some company to do it (putting in God-knows-what chemicals). I would tell them that what keeps me going is the learning. An example would be chickens: I want them so badly. I can’t have them yet because we don’t have a coop or run area, plus there are a lot of dogs that run loose in this neighborhood. Until we can build an area for them to be safe in, I am instead reading all about their care, behavior, different breeds, medical issues and how to treat/prevent them, food needs…the list goes on. When it is time to actually pick out which breeds to get, I will have the book smarts firmly in my head along with the advice and stories from those who already raise chickens for eggs and meat. When the time comes, I will hit the ground running instead of having to learn after the fact. Adjust and adapt but never stop dreaming!
Our thanks for LeAnn Edmondson for joining us for an interview and for her thoughtful insights.
There is still time to enter the giveaway for her latest book, Aftermath II – check out Aftermath II Review and Giveaway!
Aftermath II
 © Apartment Prepper 2016

Self-Sufficiency Skill: Basic Shoe Care

Basic Shoe Care

This post is by Bernie Carr,

One of my earliest memories was of my grandfather showing me how to shine our “church shoes.”  He was very particular about his appearance, but was very frugal so he kept his shoes looking new for years.   In my free spending days, I never bothered to shine my shoes as I got rid of them as soon as they showed signs of wear.  I was not alone in this, as our throwaway society encourages us to replace things as soon as possible.  When I realized the folly old ways, I started taking better care of my footwear and began to utilize the services of a cobbler.   Alas, the lack of customers drove many of the shoe repair stores out of business.   There are still a few around town, but they are a distance away.   As times get tougher, it is worth our time to learn some basic shoe care.  I also believe footwear is important enough to warrant some attention, in case you every have to walk out of the city in an emergency, so you might as well take care of them.

Preventive Care

  • When you buy a new pair of shoes, spray them with waterproofing spray.  We sprayed all our hiking boots with this and they have held up pretty well so far.
  • Alternate shoes between wearings.  Shoes that are worn daily will be susceptible to moisture and odors as they do not get a chance to dry out.  Wearing socks and hose also prevent moisture from seeping into the shoes.
  • To avoid odor problems, swipe the insides with rubbing alcohol and let dry (avoid getting this on the leather) OR dust lightly with baking soda between wearings.
  • Clean the exterior of your shoes as soon as they get dirty.  Even kids’ athletic shoes will benefit from regular cleanings.
  • Polish leather shoes periodically to keep them from getting cracked.

Caring for Hiking Boots

  • Breaking in your boots prior to wearing on a long hike.
  • Clean boots after every hike.  Use a brush to remove grit and dirt.
  • Remove the insoles and allow the inside to dry as well.
  • If the boots get wet, place boots upside down to let them dry.  Let dry in normal temperature, but if you are in a hurry, you can place them in front of an electric fan.
  • Do not place boots next to a heater, stove or fire, as this may weaken the construction or warp the boots.
  • Store them in a clean, dry area, in normal temperature.  If they get moldy, wipe them down with a mixture of vinegar (20%) and water (80%)

How to Polish Leather Shoes

Shoe care kit

Shoe care kit

The steps are pretty much the same as what my grandpa had taught me.  A basic shoe care kit includes:  shoe polish closely matching the color of your shoes, horsehair brush,  rags, old toothbrush.  Here are the basic steps:

1.  Line your work area with newspapers.

2.  Clean the surface area of the shoes so they are free of dust.  Use the old toothbrush to clean the edges between the upper and the sole of the shoe.

3.  Lightly apply the shoe polish to the leather in a circular motion.  You will want to get the wax into any cracks as this will condition the leather.  Let it dry for a couple of minutes.

4.  Buff the shoes with the brush using a light back of forth motion, following the grain of the shoes.  You will notice the shoes getting shinier as you keeping brushing.

5. Optional:  Lightly spritz the shoes with plain water and buff with a soft cloth such as an old t-shirt, using a back and forth motion.  This will give the shoes an additional “spit shine.”

5.  Carefully pick up the newspapers as they will have greasy black specs on them from the cleaning process.

Quick Repairs

Complex repairs such as replacing a sole or a broken heel are best done by a cobbler.  Some quick repairs can be done successfully at home with a strong adhesive such as Shoe Goo.  I’ve had some success repairing athletic shoes with Shoe Goo so it is worth keeping the stuff at home.

© Apartment Prepper 2016

Updated from a previous post that was originally published on 12/14/2011


10 Skills That Urban Preppers Should Learn

10 Skills That Urban Preppers Should Learn

By Tess Pennington

This article originally appeared in Ready Nutrition

Skills are a major part of prepping. Although it is important to have supplies in place; the belief is that skills, and not supplies, will give you a greater survival advantage during a long term emergency. Learning new survival skills and abilities creates a new platform of knowledge to draw on when times get tough.

There are many preppers who taking the time to make skill building a priority. The Survival Sherpa is applying his vast knowledge to the field and showing his audience ways to learn skills and be more efficient. Check his site out, it’s very informative. The Organic Prepper is turning her back on consumerism and focusing on finding local sources for food to create a food pantry.

There are many things you can learn to promote a more sustainable lifestyle while living in a densely populated area. In fact, 80% of the population lives in an urban environment, so do not let that stop you from your prepping endeavors.

Make the best of where you are and begin learning skills or continue refining them so that you can use them confidently during a disaster. Some great skills you can easily learn are:

  1.  Raise micro-livestock in small confines. Some popular breeds are rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, etc.
  2. Garden and produce your own food supply. You can easily grow these types of produce, even on an apartment patio!
  3. Forage for local plants and herbs. You’d be surprised to find some of these in your own backyard.
  4. Learn about hydroponic/aquaponic food production. There are many local classes and sustainability expos in your area that you can take advantage of. Alternatively, there are also community colleges that are offering these courses.
  5. If the proverbial S hits the F, we will see a lot of serious injuries, and even deaths, from people making unaccustomed physical demands on their bodies. Train your physical body now in the event of evacuations.
  6. Take an emergency first-aid class or self-defense class. The American Red Cross offers a variety of first-aid classes that you can take advantage of.
  7. Learn how to confidently use a firearm. A lot of dangers exist during and following emergency disasters. Learn how to protect your family by any means necessary. Many urban centers have gun ranges and classes to take to refine this important skill. This site can show you where the nearest gun ranges are.
  8. Start a prepper’s pantry and store shelf stable foods. We must put measures in place before a disaster is upon us in order to have these lifelines available to us when we need it the most. Check out these 25 must-have foods.
  9. Learn how to preserve your food supply. If you know how to dehydrate and use a pressure canner, then you are already ahead of the game.
  10. Go to farmer’s markets and get in contact with local growers and practice bartering. Here are some great tips on how to barter better.

Many families have to stay in urban areas for financial or familial reasons, but do not let that stop you from learning a more sustainable way of life. There are lots of things you can do and many people who are in the same place as you with the same interests. Sometimes your friends could end up teaching up and thing or two that they have learned along the way.

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.


Take control of your financial future!

The Organic Canner – Interview with Daisy Luther and Giveaway

The Organic CannerThis post is by Bernie Carr,

Today we are featuring The Organic Canner by Daisy Luther.   For anyone who is not familiar with Daisy Luther, she runs The Organic Prepper and her articles are widely publicized in alternative media.

I was excited to read The Organic Canner.  Canning is a great skill to learn for self-sufficiency, and it’s a way to add to your food storage supplies at a low cost.  Learning how to can has been in my to-do list for some time, but I have not undertaken the challenge due to lack of space and a degree of uncertainty.  Let’s face it, a lot of dedicated DIY folks are intimidated by canning.  “What if my home canned food turns bad?”  is a common objection.  Well, The Organic Canner is exactly the type of book for newbies like us.

Written in a conversational tone, Daisy makes you immediately comfortable you picked up the book.  She walks you through the most basic steps, in easy to understand directions – you will feel she is right there with you.  You can tell she speaks from a wealth of experience, which gives you confidence that she knows what she is talking about.

The recipes are simple with easy to find ingredients.  I enjoyed reading The Organic Canner, and contacted Daisy with a few questions of my own.

Here is the interview:

1.    Many apartment dwellers feel reluctant to try canning due to the equipment involved and space required.  How might a person who lacks space get started?

As much as we’d all love a Better Homes and Gardens kitchen, it’s not necessary for preserving your food. Canning doesn’t take up as much room as you would expect. You need a small amount of counter space – enough for a canner load full of jars, and a stove.

2.    The book gives great instructions for water bath canning and pressure canning.  If you had to choose between the two, just to get started, what minimum equipment would you recommend?

If you’re just getting started, the easiest way is with water bath canning. The equipment is far less intimidating, and you’ll find that jams, jellies, pickles, and salsa are difficult to mess up.

3.    I already own a pressure cooker, how is this different from a pressure canner?  Can a pressure cooker do the same thing?

It isn’t advised to pressure can in a pressure cooker. Canners have a valve and gauge, and it’s vital that you be able to accurately monitor the pressure. Underprocessed food can be  source of deadly food poisoning.

4.    Another issue people worry about are the risks of contamination.  There is always some story in the news about people getting sick from home canned food – what are your thoughts about this?

There are definitely risks involved if you don’t do things properly. It’s important to follow the instructions very carefully. If you err, err on the side of adding more time. Your pressure must be held consistently in order to be assured of safety.  Botulism is a type of food poisoning that can cause symptoms as extreme as permanent paralysis or death. Now that I’ve sounded really scary, I want to reassure you that if you follow the instructions, your product will be safe and nutritious.

5.    What are some tips that you personally use to save money on organics?

I buy a lot of our food from people I know. Many local farmers raise their crops and livestock organically, but they can’t afford to jump through all of the hoops the government requires of them to become “certified organic”.  If you can get to know people well enough to learn about their practices, you can save a substantial amount of money over “Whole Foods” prices.  You can supplement your groceries with things that can be grown in a small yard, on a balcony, or even in a sunny windowsill. Pick your battles – not everything has to be organic. Every year, the Environmental Working Group comes out with lists of the foods that are most important to buy organic and those which aren’t as bad when purchased conventionally-grown. Finally, shop in-season. Even organic produce is much more reasonable when you buy it at the right time of year.

A big thank you to Daisy Luther for answering our interview questions!  If you have an interest in canning, you should read The Organic Canner.
Now for the giveaway:
I am happy to add that Daisy Luther also provided a copy for giveaway.  One lucky winner will be chosen via a random drawing.  To enter, please answer the following question in the comments:
Have you done any home canning, and what is your biggest challenge in this area?
The winner* will be chosen at a random “Pick a Giveaway Winner” drawing on Saturday, March 7th at 8 pm Central.

*Winners will be notified via email. 

*Winner must reply to email notification within 48 hours or another winner will be drawn.

© Apartment Prepper 2015

Monday Musings: 2/23/2015 Making Butter from Heavy Cream Experiment

Making Butter from Heavy Cream Experiment

This post is by Bernie Carr,

Welcome to another Monday Musings, where we share interesting links about all things preparedness, as well as updates on the blog.

First the blog updates…

Ready Made Resources Mountain House Sale 

Our sponsor, Ready Made Resources is having a huge Mountain House Sale.  They are offering pre-1965 Silver dimes for every $100 worth of Mountain House ordered.  Plus free shipping!  Check it out, this is a good deal not to be missed!

Giveaway this Friday  

We took a break from giveaways for the last few weeks but we are ready to get started again.  Believe it or not, a lot of entrants never check their emails and therefore lose out by not responding to their notification email.  We’ve had several giveaways were we’ve had to do multiple drawings just to find a winner who responds!   In spite of this, we keep trying and eventually a winner who is actually excited about winning responds and gets the item.  Check back on Friday for our next giveaway – this is a good one!

What happened to my butter from heavy cream experiment?

I was excited to try making butter from heavy cream – all the instructions I’ve seen mention adding heavy cream to a Mason jar and shaking it for 10 minutes or more.  Well, I shook and shook and shook some more…  For about 15 minutes and all I got was whipped cream.

What went wrong?  I think I should have added less heavy cream given the size of the jar I was using.  I also noticed the lid started to leak after a while, so my jar may have also had something to do with it.

As you know I share both successes and failures.  I call this one a fail for now…  But I am not giving up!

Now for the links…

Seed Starting: Indoors and Out

Be Anti-Fragile: Prepare Modern but Practice Primitive

10 Ways To Deter Burglars

No, You Can’t Come to My House

Disabling an Attacker’s Sight, Wind or Mobility

How to Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

Take care and have a great week everyone!


Step into Herb Gardening

DSC_5236-300x182Written by Janet Garman

This post originally appeared in Timber Creek Farm

I have said it before but I am glad to say it again. Life is a journey, and no where is it more of a journey than on the path to better health and a more sustainable lifestyle. I have grown herbs before but as time has passed, I am finding more and more uses for fresh herbs. I enjoy growing them and have been surprised by their resilience to the weather conditions. Growing fresh herbs may not be a large step in the journey to fresher food and better eating, but it is a step in the right direction. While I am certainly no expert in growing herbs, I have learned a few things and wanted to share these with you.

Herb Gardening: garden plot or containers?

I have planted herbs in both a garden plot and in containers. For the most part, I prefer planting herbs in containers. This way I can bring them in easily, if the weather warrants it. Some of my herbs have successfully overwintered because I can keep them in a protected porch area.

Growing several types of herbs together actually helps the plants do better. Be careful with herbs that grow and spread quickly like mint, oregano, lemon balm and tea balm because they may crowd out the other herbs in the container.

Plant the herbs seedlings in your container with good drainage and soil, leaving a few inches between each plant. As they grow, cut the tops of taller plants to encourage growth.

Allow the soil to dry out between watering, to avoid rot. Water every few days as needed, adding water slowly until water seeps out the bottom drainage holes.

Harvest your herbs early in the day as the dew is beginning to dry. The flavor will be better at this point.

Rinse in cool water, shake gently to release the water and lay on paper towel. Discard broken, bruised or dead leaves and stems.


Tie in small bundles and hang indoors for best flavor retention. Do not dry in the sun because the herbs will lose flavor and color.

Good choices for tying herb bundles: Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Summer Savory, Parsley

Tender Herbs can be hung to dry also, but using a paper bag with holes punched in it will help keep the herbs from dropping leaves and seeds. Hang upside down in the paper bag in a well ventilated area. Use small bunches to avoid molding.
Examples of tender herbs are: Basil, Oregano, Taragon, Lemon Balm, and Mints.

Oven Drying Herbs

Lay the clean leaves on paper towels, layer another paper towel on top making up to five layers of herbs. Use a cool oven temp. Leaves will dry flat.


Lay herb leaves in a single layer and dry on a low setting.
Using Dried Herbs – Dried herbs are 3 to 4X stronger than fresh herbs so adjust recipes calling for fresh herbs accordingly when using dried.


Use 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herbs per cup or 3 teaspoons fresh per pint of hot water for teas.  Steep 10 minutes.

Infusions are a deeper liquid. Steep for 20 minutes or more resulting in a much stronger brew. I was taught to fill a quart mason jar about 1/3 with dried herbs and the rest with the hot water. So, you can see how that will be a much stronger blend!


Examples of Herbs that can be used in teas

Basil, Chamomile flowers, Chives, Dill, Eucalyptus, Ginger Root, Lemon Balm, Lemongrass, Marjoram, Mint, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, Valerian root, Verbena.

Other Floral Botanicals that can be used in teas:
Alliums, Bee Balm, Carnation, Echinacea, Hibiscus, Hollyhocks, Honeysuckle (avoid the poisonous berries!) Lavender, Marshmallow root, Red Clover, Nasturtiums (flowers and hips) and Violets.

Stronger than an extraction

Made by boiling or simmering the herbs/plants, using the woody parts, bark and the roots, versus the leaves.


Very Concentrated. Made by soaking the plant or parts of the plant in alcohol and water. Strain out the plant material and store.


Soaking in a liquid that extracts certain chemical properties. Strain out the plant material and store. Used as flavorings.


Making herbal vinegars is easy and a great way to use your culinary herbs. Place clean dry herbs in a sterilized mason jar, One cup of herbs combined with three cups of vinegar. Pour the vinegar over the herbs. Cover with a non-reactive lid, and let sit in a cool, dark place for a few weeks. Strain off the herbs, pour the vinegar in to a clean jar and label. For even more flavor, try using real vinegars such as white wine, red wine, apple cider, or rice as opposed to white distilled vinegar.

Using herbs can be good for your health and beautiful for your garden. Always consult your doctor for possible drug interactions with herbs and your prescriptions. Make sure you are using the correct part of the plant when making teas. Some plants have toxic parts but the flowers or leaves are ok if prepared correctly.

Foxglove and Lily of the Valley are always toxic to people and animals. Plant these carefully and never ingest any parts of these plants.

About the Author:  Janet Garman writes the Timber Creek Farm blog.  Timber Creek Farm blog has a mission to encourage others seeking to be more self sufficient in their lifestyle and food choices. We farm our family farm in Central Maryland, raising livestock, garden vegetables, eggs from our chickens and ducks and we make yarn from our sheep and goat fleeces. Our family is always looking for ways to become more sustainable in the midst of suburbia.

Timber Creek Farm

Use Up that Mushy Watermelon – Watermelon Slushie

Watermelon Slushie 3This post is by Bernie Carr,

I haven’t done a Self Sufficiency Saturday post in a while so I thought I’d feature something light and easy today.

Every time I buy a watermelon half of it gets mushy in the refrigerator before it gets eaten.  I end up throwing it away and I hate wasting food.   Learning how to use leftovers is a good self-sufficiency skill and also a wise use of resources.

One day I decided to experiment with the leftover watermelon.  I froze the mushy watermelon (seeds removed) chunks.

After they were frozen, I threw them in the blender (we use a Nutribullet) and made watermelon slushie.  It tasted great!  The whole family enjoyed it  We had a delicious treat and all the watermelon got used up.

Here is the recipe:  Please note these are estimates and you may have to adjust according to your blender capacity and to your taste.


Watermelon Slushie 12 cups frozen watermelon (you can use fresh watermelon but add ice)

1 cup cold water

juice of 1-2 limes

1/2 cup of sugar

Watermelon Slushie 4Directions:

Add all ingredients into the blender.   Puree or blend at high speed for one to two minutes until well mixed.

That’s it!

Watermelon Slushie 2

© Apartment Prepper 2014


Grow Great Vegetables in Containers with these 4 Tips

Grow Great Vegetables in Containers with these 4 TipsBy Mike Podlesny

Do not let the lack of space keep you from growing some great tasting fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs at home. Regardless of whether you have a balcony at your apartment or a small backyard in the city, it is possible to reap a bountiful harvest every gardening season.


The first thing to consider when growing fruits, vegetables and herbs in containers is choosing varieties that make sense for the amount of space that you have. You might think there is nothing out there that fits your need, but that would be the furthest from the truth. There are plenty of determinant vegetable varieties that will work.

For example, if you love fresh home grown beans like I do, go with some heirloom bush varieties such as royal burgundy or golden wax, as opposed to pole beans that would require trellising and take up a bit more space.

If cucumbers are your favorite, you are in luck, because the determinant heirloom bush crop variety is perfect for your space, and grows very well in small containers. I am growing bush crop cucumbers this year and have nine plants in a three foot by three foot raised garden bed. You can squeeze plenty of these varieties of cucumbers in a small space and still get prolific production.

THE CONTAINERonions_growing_in_container
After you have decided what to grow, you now need something to plant your vegetables, herbs and fruit in. A good container will have a diameter of at least sixteen inches and a depth of no less than twelve inches, although much deeper is always better. If you can afford a bigger container for both price and space, I would highly recommend it.thyme_growing_in_an_herb_box

Because you are growing vegetables, fruits and herbs in containers, there are some things you have to remember.

Use a good potting soil that is loaded with plenty of plant food. The key here is potting soil.  Do not use a garden soil. Garden soil is too dense for a container application. There are a lot of great organic choices available, or you can make your own by combining homemade compost, a little perlite and some coir.

You will need to water your plants more frequently. Your container will dry out quicker, so watering daily will be a part of your routine, and if you are in an area with extreme high temperatures, twice a day is not out of the question. Just keep an eye on them.
Your container should have plenty of drainage. I would highly recommend drilling a few more holes into the bottom of your containers. This allows excess water to drain better. The last thing you want is excess water sitting around the roots of your vegetable plants. That will cause a condition called root rot.



Your plants should receive at least 8 hours of sun although you can get away with less if you are growing leafy veggies such as kale, lettuce or spinach. The beauty about containers is that you can move them around. So if you are growing a container variety of tomato, which requires a full day’s worth of sun, and the sun hits 4 hours on one side of your balcony, and 4 on the other, simply pick the pot up and follow the sun. It really is not that much work once you get used to it.

You may also want to consider adding artificial light, such as grow lights, if your apartment, condo, house etc., sits on the side that receives more shade than sun. They are very inexpensive, available at any giant home center, and do not cost that much to operate.

bush_cucumbersFEED YOUR PLANTS
Finally, don’t forget to feed your plants. Because your vegetables, fruits and herbs are growing in confined quarters, they are going to use up the nutrients in the soil much faster. If you start with a good potting soil as mentioned earlier, you can easily get away with feeding your plants once per week after the first month.

I would recommend a good fertilizer like fish emulsion or even adding some compost to the top of your container and allowing it to work its way down, which it will eventually do. You can also use that compost to make compost tea, which makes a great elixir for your plants.

Just because you have a small space to work with does not mean you cannot be big on growing your own food. With a few tips and a little work, you will be well on your way to filling up those pantries with plenty of fresh beans, cucumbers, tomatoes and more.

About the Author
Mike Podlesny is the author of the book Vegetable Gardening for the Average Person as well as the creator of the Seeds of the Month Club where members receive non gmo, heirloom variety seeds every month. You can listen to Mike each week on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast where he interviews gardening industry experts.



Make Your Own Moisturizing Salve

Make your Own Moisturizing Salve

I have been looking for a homemade moisturizer recipe in a long time when I came across the recipe for Miracle Healing Salve over at Backdoor Survival.

But I delayed in trying it out right away because I first had to gather up the ingredients (I’m on a budget) and I had a little mishap with essential oil that made me a bit shy about proceeding.

After reading up on the proper ways to use essential oil, I was finally ready to give it a try. A few notes:

  • I went the “bargain” route by using pure olive oil instead of extra virgin. I also skimped and did not pick up any glass droppers, although later I realized it would have made it easier than pouring straight from the bottle (live and learn!).
  • I planned to make a few different variations by following the instructions for Miracle Salve, Eczema Salve and plain salve.

Homemade Salve IngredientsMaterials and ingredients:

1 cup coconut oil
1 cup pure olive oil
5 tbsp organic beeswax pastilles

Essential oils that I used:
tea tree oil
eucalyptus oil


2 ounce jars
large measuring cup
Cooking pot large enough to boil water and accommodate the cup
sharpie pen


Salve dissolving

1. Add water to the pot, and set it on stove to simmer.
2. In the large measuring cup, add 5 tbsp organic beeswax pastilles, 1 cup coconut oil, 1 cup olive oil. Set the measuring cup in the pot. Leave it alone until it starts to melt and stir it every once in a while. This will take around 20 minutes.
3. While you are waiting for the oils to dissolve, start labeling your jars.
4. For the Miracle Salve: add 5 drops of lavender, 5 drops peppermint and 5 drops rosemary oil.
5. For the Eczema Salve, I used 5 drops of lavender, 5 drops peppermint and 5 drops rosemary oil, 5 drops tea tree oil, as mentioned in Gaye’s article.
6. For Eucalyptus Salve, I just added 5 drops of eucalyptus oil.  I like eucalyptus oil because it helps with nasal congestion and it makes everything smell like a spa.
7. For plain salve, I just labeled the jar and added nothing.
8. Check the oils and if they are completely dissolved, they are ready to pour into the jars.  The glass cup will be extremely hot so use an oven mitt and carefully pour the melted oils into the jars.Salve ready to pour
9. Find something to cover the uncapped jars and leave them alone overnight. I just used recycled paper bags but you can use paper towels, or cloth if you prefer. The salve does solidify in an hour, but you should leave them alone overnight.Salve in containers

Salve coveredThe next morning, I checked the jars and the salves were ready for use.

Moisturizing salveResults:

Moisturizer:  I used the Miracle Salve as a moisturizer for my face.  Althout it felt a tad oilier than normal moisturizer, but it was absorbed quickly and felt great on my skin.
Lip Balm:  I first tried the Miracle Salve on my lips but because of the peppermint you get a tingly feeling.  I then tried using plain salve as a lip balm, and I liked it a lot.
Leg and Foot Moisturizer.  The Miracle Salve really works on softening rough heels and knees.
Pet Hot Spot Reliever:  I used Miracle Salve on the dog’s hot spot. Our dog is super obsessive and cannot stop licking once he gets started, the vet even put a cone on him. We have tried everything but after I used Miracle Salve on him, he does not seem to be licking the same spot.
Eczema Salve:  I gave the Eczema Salve to the family members who suffer from eczema.  So far I hear they are getting good results.

I am convinced the salve is very effective and will replace many skin products.  I just haven’t tried all the possible uses yet.  Even with the initial cost of the ingredients, using this homemade moisturizer will save a fair amount of money.  My thanks to Gaye Levy of Backdoor Survival for sharing her recipe!

Moisturizing Salve update (May 24, 2014)  I’m just so pleased about how my moisturizing salve turned out:  With the last batch, I gave away some eczema salve and miracle to family members, some I mailed out of state.  After a couple of weeks of use, the results are in:  they definitely work!   The salve helped eczema, psoriasis and skin allergy sufferers.  I’m using the plain salve as a makeup remover, and substitute for petroleum jelly.





Update on Homemade Vanilla

Homemade Vanilla 3 months

Homemade Vanilla 3 months

This post is by Bernie Carr,

Back in November, I started my homemade vanilla project.  Now that it’s been three months, I wanted to let you know how it’s coming along.

Every couple of weeks, whenever I remember to do so, I swirl the mixture around a few times.

The mixture has now turned a much darker brown.  As far as smell, the vodka smell is still lingering, but the vanilla smell has gotten much stronger.   I don’t think it is ready though, I feel it needs to sit for another couple of months before the flavor is strong enough to add to baking mixes.

I’ll let you know what happens!

© Apartment Prepper 2014

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