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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thrifty Mother's Day Gift Ideas, 7 Easy Crops for Your Garden

Bruce’s Poor Man Survival Bulletin

A Digest of Urban Survival Resources

For Independent Minded People!

ISSN 2161-5543

In This Issue:

1.       7 Easy crops for your garden

2.      Thrifty, Unique gifts for Mother’s Day

3.      Plan 3D-Design solar homes

4.      Are workers just a liability?

The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found." ~ Calvin Trillin

7 Easy Crops  by Craig Idlebrook

Not everyone is blessed with a green thumb. Many gardeners are looking for low-maintenance crops after watching past efforts fizzle. And even the best gardeners suffer off years, scrambling for quick-growing crops to replant after poor weather or critter mishaps.

Don’t throw in the trowel! Here are 10 suggestions for crops that are easy to grow, including some quick-performers. While there’s no guarantee in the growing world, these crops are a good bet to succeed under your care, or in spite of it.


While garlic’s an easy crop to grow, growing perfect garlic can become a lifetime obsession. Getting started is simple: In the fall, plant peeled cloves, pointing upward. Cover. Wait. Harvest heads in the spring or summer.

These hardy plants basically grow themselves. If you plant them in rich soil and regularly water them, the cloves will produce bigger bulbs. Erratic watering and poor soil leads to smaller cloves, but smaller cloves usually have a stronger taste. You can’t lose.

Green beans

There’s a lot to love about a plant that feeds itself.

Green beans are nitrogen fixers; they process nitrogen from the air rather than pulling it from the soil. In other words, growing green beans is a tasty way to fertilize your garden.

They’re also quick growers. You can wait until all danger of frost has passed to plant and still have plenty of the growing season left. Green beans are an excellent candidate for a replacement crop in late spring or midsummer.

Gently harvest the beans, and the plants will produce all summer. If you get tired of green, try purple or yellow varieties.


Another nitrogen-fixer, peas are great for gardeners who can’t wait until the frost is gone to start planting. As soon as the soil can be worked, you can pop peas into the ground.

Peas prefer some shade, but they’ll do fine with full sun, if planted early. Plant peas in loose soil about a knuckle-deep. Give them something for climbing to avoid fungus problems. Water regularly.

Peas are the perfect garden-grazing food. Children love being able to pick peas for munching while their parents are working in the garden. Also, pea shoots are a delicacy.


The biggest problem with cilantro is keeping up with it. Cilantro plants grow quick and bolt in the blink of an eye. If that happens, you’ll find cilantro volunteers in your garden for years, and wouldn’t that be a shame?

Stagger plantings of cilantro for a continual harvest. Plant in containers or in the ground an inch apart and a half-inch deep. Keep in full sun and water regularly.

Everyone has a strong opinion about the taste of cilantro.

It’s perfect for salsa and salads, but if you like the taste, you’ll find it fits well with almost any meal except pancakes.


Plant seeds in sun or partial shade after danger of frost has passed. Water regularly until established. Watch ’em grow. Wait until well-established to harvest, and then eat regularly. Cut stalks 2 inches from base for continuous growth, but don’t worry about measuring. Chives are hardy!

Use chives in any dish you would otherwise use onions. They are a beautiful addition to eggs, and their flowers are great for salads.


Potatoes are the king crop in northern Maine, a growing area plagued with rocky, acidic soil and a terribly short growing season. That’s all you need to know about a potato’s hardiness.

Like garlic, you can tinker endlessly with growing the perfect potato, but you can grow good potatoes easily. They even grow well in plastic bags filled with dirt, according to one potato blogger. Potatoes can be planted as soon as the soil is worked, but you might want to cover them if it’s a soggy spring. Plant again in June for a second crop.

Tempting as it is to use a shriveled potato in the back of the fridge for seed, buy seed potatoes from the garden center. They’re cheap and, hopefully,
disease-free. Cut up bigger seeds so that each chunk has two or three eyes. Plant a foot apart in rows, closer in hills


If you can’t beat them, eat them. Dandelions are nearly impossible to keep out of your garden, but they also are a great crop to eat. Every part of the plant is edible and extremely nutritious. And talk about a no-maintenance crop.

The leaves are tastiest young, but you can eat them anytime if you boil them long enough. Add young leaves to a salad or sauté to add to any dish. The yellow flowers are versatile and tasty. The roots can be brewed for tea, roasted or added to soups.

One word of caution: Dandelions are great at soaking up toxins. Don’t harvest them near roads or in public places where pesticides or herbicides are used.

Dandelion seeds sometimes are tricky to buy, but why bother? You don’t have to go looking for them; they’ll find you.  

Excerpted from GRIT, Celebrating Rural America Since 1882. To read more articles from GRIT, please visit or call (866) 624-9388 to subscribe. Copyright 2012 by Ogden Publications Inc.

Find Your Timewasters. Keep track for one week of all the ways you waste time. Do you spend 10 minutes finding your keys? If so, make a key hook by your door, and use it. Do you forget "that one item" when you go to the store? Keep a list on your refrigerator and, each time you empty something, add it to the list.

PM’s Compendium of Useful Resources

Genetically modified crops have been shown to have some very negative effects on the environment and on human health. But the USDA has approved 80 different genetically engineered crops and has never denied a single one. At this point, approximately 70 percent of all processed foods in the United States contain genes that have been genetically engineered.

Sign up for A Busy Mom's Kitchen E-Newsletter & Receive Recipes, Kitchen Tips, plus a FREE Cooking with Kids E-Book!

5 Thrifty Mother's Day Surprises
Showing Mom you care doesn't have to break the bank. Surprise her with these ideas.

Mother's Day celebrates the one person who not only keeps our lives from toppling into slovenliness and disorder, but singlehandedly also makes all the other holidays of the year magical.
Read more:
5 thrifty Mothers Day surprises

Unique Mother's Day gifts

Show Mom you learned a thing or two about the value of a dollar. Our super chic (and cheap) picks for Mother's Day gift picks include something for every mother and every budget.

Building a new solar home or on adding energy-efficient features to your existing house? Here are some design ideas and free building guides

Mother Earth News magazine has provided solid information on many topics related to sustainable living and natural building for several decades, and now many of these articles are available on-line. I've compiled a list of links to some of their best articles on passive solar design, landscaping and retrofitting, by experts like Dan Chiras and Gary Reysa. Combined, the articles add up to a book-length primer on green, energy saving design. They are yours to read and use for free.
Click here to get the Mother Earth News Solar Design Guides >>>

Plan3D is a website that will let you experiment with your solar design ideas before you build. It's a simple and intuitive CAD program

Get Tara’s Best Kept Secret to Balance for Busy Moms

The Nanny State Updates…

Top 5 Biggest Concerns About CISPA

The House on Thursday opted for an earlier-than-expected vote on the controversial CISPA bill, which now moves to the Senate. But what's the big deal with this bill? How might it affect the average Web user?

The Cyber Information Sharing & Protection Act (CISPA) is intended to allow for information-sharing between private companies and the government in the event of a cyber attack…as we all know, it’s a challenge to trust the government anymore.  Read more at:

The Parting Thought –

The average duration of unemployment in the United States today is
about three times as long as it was back in the year 2000.

And according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the number of announced job cuts is actually rising again....

Also, announced jobs cuts rose 7.1% in April, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, to 40,599 — and up 11.2% from last April — another bit of evidence that the jobs market isn’t doing well.

Economic conditions in the United States have been steadily getting worse for quite a while, but that is not the only reason for our employment problems.

There are two other trends that I want to briefly mention…

1) A lot of jobs that used to be very labor intensive are now being replaced by technology. Thanks to robotics, automation and computers, a lot of big companies simply do not need as many workers these days. Those are jobs that are never going to come back.

2) As labor has become a global commodity, millions upon millions of U.S. jobs have been sent overseas. Today, you are not just competing for a job with your neighbors. You are also competing with workers on the other side of the globe. Unfortunately, it is legal to pay slave labor wages in many of those countries. By sending our jobs out of the country, big corporations can also avoid a whole host of rules, regulations, taxes and benefit payments that they would be facing if they hired American workers

Workers are increasingly being viewed as "liabilities", and there is a good chance that the moment you become "expendable" to your company you will be kicked out on the street.

That is one reason why I am encouraging people to consider starting their own businesses. If you work for someone else, your security can be taken away from you at any moment. But if you work for yourself, you aren't going to get fired.

“Until the next revolution”, the Poor Man

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