Feral Gardening

feral gardeningEvery month in The Backwoodsman there’s a little text box with requests from readers. A request I’ve seen in the past few issues is for an article on feral gardening. I decided to check it out. My raised bed garden was an epic fail this year, so maybe it’s time to try something new. I tried Googling “feral gardening” and got almost nothing (it’s strange when even Google has nothing). OK, so what is feral gardening? Well, I know what feral means so I’ll go with that. According to my dictionary, feral means “in a wild state, especially after escape from captivity or domestication” or “in an un-kept state.” So I guess feral gardening means growing a garden that takes care of itself.

A garden that takes care of itself?

That doesn’t make sense. I can’t get vegetables to grow when I try really hard to take care of them. How are they going to grow with no care? Then I remembered a house we bought a few years ago. It had been foreclosed on, and empty for 2 years. The lawn was dead from not being watered and the yard was overgrown with weeds. When we cleared the weeds though, we found 2 grape vines. They looked healthy, and even had a few grapes on them. I didn’t know it then, but this was an example of feral gardening.

The next summer I was pulling weeds. My wife told me to save some of them. Huh??? I took one of the ones she wanted me to save to work to ask a friend about it. Turned out to be something called red root pigweed. It grows very well with no care and people do eat it. I tried some and it didn’t make me sick. Tastes kind of like chicken (not really). This year we dedicated half of a raised bed to it. Other edible feral plants I’ve found in our yard are purslane and dandelions. The purslane is kind of slimy when cooked but dandelion is actually pretty tasty (a little bitter though).

What about real crops?

OK so weeds grow really good without any work. That’s not exactly a news flash. What about real food crops? Well, I know that grapes will grow well with little or no care. Salsify will too, and will self-seed every year. Blackberries and boysenberries will pretty much grow wild. I don’t know any others off the top of my head, but I’m researching it. I’m guessing that any open pollinated veggie plant that’s drought resistant would be worth trying. I’ll be playing with some varieties next summer.

I think the best thing about feral gardening is you don’t have to limit it to your yard. If you don’t need to water, you don’t need it close to a house. There’s a big field near my house and I plan on doing a lot of my experimenting there.

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – August 12 2018

My monthly prepper meetup was this past week so I went to that. It was nice to catch up with some of the people, but some others I was hoping to see weren’t there so that was disappointing. There was no specific topic, just general discussion. We did talk about bugging out vs. sheltering in place which is a topic I like. Also talked about finding a sustainable place that’s not a two day drive away. I was surprised that some of the old timers think that’s still possible, considering the out of control growth in our area.

Our rental house is about finished. We have 2 tenants so far. Another one is moving in tomorrow. Only 3 rooms left… My brother (in law) is quite the handyman. He’s doing all the wood trim and some tile cutting. My wife and her sister are doing the vinyl plank flooring. We wouldn’t be nearly this far along without their help. Good family is truly a blessing.

Speaking of my brother and sister (in law), from now on I’ll just refer to them as brother and sister. No “in law,” family is family. They’ve also done a ton of work in our back yard. My brother loves working in the garden. He also wants to go hunting this fall. Can’t wait to take him…

Misc. stuff… I bought a Remington 783 a few years ago as a project rifle. Put a new stock on it but it never worked right. Almost impossible to chamber a round and doesn’t eject worth s***. Finally said enough and took it to my gun smith. Found a jammed up ejector and incorrectly cut extractor. He fixed both and it works better but still not what I’d expect from a Remington. Don’t get a Remington 783 – it’s a crappy design. If you want a Remington get a 700. If you want a cheap (but good) rifle, get a Savage Axis.

Continuing the gun theme, I loaded 600 rounds of 9mm. I’ve been shooting my pellet gun every chance I get. I’m actually improving. I put a dry fire kit into one of my Glocks and got a holster for it. I’ve been experimenting with sights since my near vision sucks. I’m getting discouraged, nothing really seems to work. Maybe I can get some reader lenses for my Wiley-X shooting glasses.

Almost forgot – put bird netting over the peach tree to keep the birds away.

That’s about it for now. What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – May 12 2018

I’ve been pretty busy the past few weeks, too busy to write about it. Mostly working on the back yard (I guess that’s one thing Backyardsmen do…) I have a bunch of tomato plants started and a few squash. It finally got warm enough to release the worms, so I put the wigglers in my composting bed and the European night crawlers in the bean bed. I’m in the middle of putting in 40 feet of new raised beds*. I’ll have them filled by next weekend and hopefully by the 27th it will be warm enough to plant my beans and corn.

My prep group met this week and talked about finding or building expedient shelters in case you get caught outside in a storm or other event. Also talked about bugging in vs. bugging out in the event of a large scale natural disaster. CERT meeting is next week, even if I’m too busy I’ll have to make time to go since I missed last month’s meeting. Studying for my General class amateur radio license. I have to pass in June because the questions change after that and I don’t want to have to buy a new study guide. Lots of other things going on too. got a new pack, planning a road trip, working on plans for a chicken coop, etc. Pretty much just staying busy. Oh, and my wife’s sister and brother in law are moving here next month from China, so we’re getting a house ready for them. Like I said, busy…

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

* – Yes, I know I’m running late with the raised beds…

What did you do to prep this week?

This week’s preps – Apr 15 2018

Back to prepping, well back to writing about it at least. Last week was pretty busy for me. We have a rental property that has a collapsed shed in the back yard. Now that we’re almost done fixing up the inside it’s time to move onto the yard, so I started tearing down the shed. It was fun (still in progress) and I got the chance to try out my Stanley FatMax Xtreme Fubar. It works pretty good, but I wish I’d gotten the 30″ version instead of the 18″. The shorter version doesn’t have quite enough leverage for tearing down stuff that’s screwed together.

In our back yard I got more locust roots pulled out of the ground. Those things are nasty. “We” also got rid of “my” wood pile. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I’ll get over it. Eventually. Right now I’m still a little PO’d.

We have all our seeds (almost all are heirloom, open pollinated) and started some. Had to go to the store and get another starting tray today so the rest will be done by the end of the week. I started 2 worm bins and got enough redwood to build 4 more raised beds. Once those are done I’ll just need a couple more.

The prepper group I go to met last Thursday. We talked about water collection and purification. I guess my next project will be a Berkey system using their filters and 5 gallon plastic buckets. I also want to build a rain water collection system.

For next week, I hope to get the raised beds finished and the rest of our seeds started. My CERT meeting is next Thursday, and next Saturday the Permaculture group is having a hands on class for sheet mulching. Oh, and I have an old axe I want to start working on.

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

Happy Easter

Happy Easter. Easter is my favorite Holy Day (nee holiday). I like it better than Christmas, Thanksgiving, and July 4th – Independence Day. I like it for the spiritual implications, but even if I wasn’t a Christian I’d like it because it signifies renewal. It’s fitting that we celebrate Easter in the spring. When the dead cold of winter is replaced by the warmth of spring and new life. A chance to think about past mistakes and working to not make them again. So just want to say – Happy Easter.

Preps I’m working on…

I’m trying to focus on process instead of things. That, of course, is a correction of past mistakes. For example last month I bought a Gransfors-Bruk axe. A thing. What I should have done is taken the cheap axe I found in my parent’s garage after my dad died and learned how to fix the edge (chipped) and sharpen it. Given my nature, that “ah-ha” made me think I need a GB sharpening puck. Nope, another $60 thing. Maybe time to look for info from people who actually know about axes. After some looking I found a video on getting THREE sharpening pucks that out-perform the GB for about $20.

If you follow that link, you should check out his other videos too. SkillCult (Steven Edholm) and Reallybigmonkey1 (David Pearson) are the 2 best YouTube channels for bushcrafting/homesteading/semi-primitive skills I’ve found.

I’ve also re-thought my garden for this year, and I have my wife on board. Mostly we’re going with open pollinated heirloom seeds. At first it seemed kind of limiting, but we’ve found every kind of veggie we want to grow. In fact, we found more than we have room to plant so that’s going to take some thinking (and maybe guerrilla gardening?) to make it all fit. Anyway, it should be fun esp. since my wife is supportive of the project.

Back to my roots…

I’m taking a couple days off from work this week and going back to my home town. I was hoping it would be just me and my younger son, but then my older kid and Mom insisted on going too. That’s good and bad. Bad is I won’t get to do everything with my younger son that I wanted to do (like camp). Good thing is we’re taking my mom’s car so gas is on her. Besides, the weather is still kind of iffy for camping since it will be my kid’s first camping trip. I’ll stake out a good camping spot for later, when summer school vacation starts.

The other things I want to do is go to my home church, visit my Dad’s grave, and do a little fishing. The church is the same one I was confirmed in and took my first Communion. It was also my Dad’s biggest concern in the last couple years of his life. Fishing was my Dad’s favorite thing to do, along with gardening. So basically this trip is to honer my Dad’s memory and reflect on the life lessons he taught me. I wish I’d learned them better when he was still alive, but at least I still have his legacy.

Misc. stuff…

Not much here. Our rental property is 2 months overdue and still not done, but I have hope it will be finished by the end of April. Key word being hope… which goes along with the whole concept of Happy Easter I guess.

I finally got my CERT ID card, so now I have about 5 months to finish 4 online FEMA classes. Another good reason to finish the rental soon, so I have time to study and take tests. Also I want to get my General class amateur radio license – lots of study time needed for that too.

Plans for the rest of the year

First is getting our rental finished and our garden planted. Both will require a lot of work so I expect to be really busy for the next 4 to 6 weeks. I need to get back on my Keto diet. I know it works, but breaking old eating habits is hard. But I know it works, and I really need to lose some weight.

The biggest plan though is NO MORE NEW STUFF and no more new projects. I already have too much stuff and too many unfinished projects and plans. Anyway, that’s about it for today. Hope y’all are having a happy Easter.

Happy Easter,

What did you do to prep this week?


This week I went to my second CERT meeting. This is a different group then the one I went to last week. Younger crowd, more people, and closer to work. I know which group I’ll be joining.


I got my fig trees and blackberry bushes planted. Also got an aloe vera plant for inside the house. I did notice a problem with the garlic I planted a couple weeks ago – one bed is already sprouting. Not supposed to happen until spring. Hopefully the garlic crop will still turn out OK.

I also pulled down the bean towers. My wife planted some goji in the former bean bed. I got some 2 foot rebar to replace the 3 foot sections I bought last week, so hopefully I’ll be able to finish the hoops in the coming week. Our Agribon got here yesterday so I need to get on it. Oh, and I ordered some North Pole lettuce seed.

Stanley FatMax demolition tool

I’ll have more to say on this later, but for now I’ll just say don’t waste your money. I bought the expensive version only because of the “gas shutoff wrench” that is really just the slot on the prying end. Guess what? It doesn’t fit my gas valve. What a load of crap. Otherwise it’s well built but $100 extra for a wider slot on one end is a total rip-off, especially since it doesn’t even fit a g*dd**n gas valve. If you want this tool, save $100 and get the 55-120, not the grossly over priced 55-122.


I got two new books, More Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency by Caleb Warnock and The Pantry Primer: A Prepper’s Guide to Whole Food on a Half-Price Budget by Daisy Luther. I haven’t had time to read them yet but they look OK. Hope to do reviews on both really soon.

What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

I got three of our raised beds ready for garlic. They all have good organic soil and are tamped down and ready to plant. I’m pre-soaking the garlic buds tonight, and tomorrow I’ll have the kids help me plant. I also picked up and crushed a bunch of leaves and put them in a fourth bed. Hopefully it will turn into compost… Besides that, I finally got around to clearing out the dead bean and tomato plants.

Permaculture Meetup

On Saturday I went to a work bee hosted by the local Permaculture Meetup group and learned how to make low tunnel hoop houses. They’re basically mini greenhouses that let you grow some things over the winter. The key idea is “some” things, not “every” thing. Where I live, “some” means plants that can live through almost freezing temperatures. In my case, that means spinach and broccoli.

More Tools

The last thing I did to prep this week was buy a compressor. Home Depot had a 30 gallon model on sale for $279 so my wife agreed to let me get it. When we went to buy it, I changed my mind and (amazingly) talked her into letting me get a Dewalt 15 gallon for $100 more than the Husky. What? $100 more for a tank that’s only half the size? I can explain…

First, I don’t have a problem with Husky tools, but Dewalt tools have never failed me. Also, the Dewalt is light enough that I can load it into my truck by myself. The Husky is too heavy. I’m not painting cars or running an air driven belt sander, so 15 gallon air capacity should be fine for my needs.

That’s it for me this time. What did you do to prep this week?

Peace out,

What did you do to prep this week?

garlic for my back yardThe past week was pretty busy for me. I have a final exam this Wed and my garlic order showed up. We started work on a new rental. I started my Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT) class. More on that coming soon. I started working towards a 2 week food supply for a family of 5. Besides all that, my wife decided she wanted to be in “high maintenance mode”, so I had to deal with that as well. So to flesh it out a little, here goes…


Since my garlic order showed up, I figured I’d better (finally) get the planting beds ready. I pulled all the dead squash plants from 3 beds and dug out all the dirt. Went to the local nursery and bought 15 bags of Kick garden soil. Mixed it with the dirt from the beds, shoveled it back in, leveled and tamped with a rake. I’d say the mix in each bed is 20% dirt and 80% Kick. I’ll get the garlic planted in the next 2 weeks and hope for an awesome harvest next summer. I have too much garlic so I’ll give the extra to some people in my prepping group if they want to plant it. If not, I’ll just eat it. It is after all organic…


I took my first week of CERT classes. So far they’ve talked about emergency preparedness, CERT organization (BORing….), basic triage of disaster victims, and basic fire suppression and prevention. I’m really glad I took this class. I love the emphasis on community (the ‘C’ after all stands for Community) and the skills they teach are really useful IMO. Besides that the networking opportunities are great, and I even found a little intel opportunity.


I didn’t mention it in the intro, but I also went to my second Permaculture meetup. Got to meet a few new people which was awesome. One of the new people was hosting a work-bee on butchering rabbits this Saturday. I had to miss it because of my CERT class but he said I could call him any time and he’d help me get set up for raising rabbits and let my come over next time he’s processing some.


My Prepper meetup was also last week, but I missed it because of the CERT class. The topic was situational awareness so I kind of wish I could have made it, but I really wanted needed to take the CERT class. That’s it for me this time. What did you do to prep this week?
Peace out,