Discussions

I’m not new  to gardening (no experience with chickens), but the thing about gardening is that some parts of it are always new.  You’re always trying out new plants, new varieties, new strategies.  Lots of trial and error.  I have to remind myself to focus on the things that work and not just on the things that didn’t. Some of my new things this year were growing pole beans and building a giant bean trellis (long triangular shape) to support the pole beans on one side and the snow peas on the other.  I also am trying to grow North Georgia Candy Roasters using seeds I saved from one I bought at a farmer’s market while traveling. The bean trellis was a bit of a comedy of errors at first.  It was early in the quarantine and I was committed to just working with scrap I had in the garage – a few pieces of 8′ 2×2 and 1×2.  I didn’t have enough wood to brace it diagonally, so it kept skewing out of shape until I rigged some diagonal bracing with an old piece of climbing rope.  I then cut 8′-10′ long branches off of trees in our backyard to make the poles for the beans and peas to climb and tied them on with scraps of string.  Then for about 2 weeks, the whole thing would tip over whenever we had strong winds.  (I had made it a bit narrow to save space.)  Ultimately I had to pin down the corners with some logs…  But in the end it was worth it!  We had the best harvest of snow peas we’ve ever had – the kids loved it – and a massive amount of pole beans for the space. The Candy Roasters are an ongoing experiment.  The growers of the one I bought had warned me that they grew the roasters in a field with pumpkins and that the two might have cross pollinated.  They suggested I buy seeds from their supplier.  But I wanted to try growing something from my own saved seeds.  Well, the plants are forming fruit and they look… strange.  Not quite a pumpkin and not quite a candy roaster.  But I’m pretty confident they’ll taste good and they give me a laugh when I see them.  It’s all part of the experience.

I would vote this guide for a significant update (as you apparently plan).  The major issue I see is the lack of subject matter experts in the various fields.  Based on their credentials, Sarah Avery seems like a reasonable choice for reviewing fiction and maybe popular (i.e., non-technical) nonfiction and John Ramey seems well positioned to assess the quality of books describing emergency scenarios, reasons to prepare, and survival skills.  However, I don’t see how either of these authors are well qualified to evaluate books on things like violence or medicine or water purification.  Using a standard like “consensus across the prepper movement” to select a book (as they do with the SAS Survival Handbook) is pretty questionable, since most preppers are amateurs with little (if any) actual experience with extreme emergencies – after all, the worst things we prepare for haven’t happened in the US or Europe in 70 – 150 years, if ever.  Choosing something because it was “Amazon’s top seller in the category” (as they do with the B&D Guide to Home Repair again strikes me as invalid.  After all, people who actually know lots about Home Repair are not the ones buying home repair manuals, so sales of the book don’t necessarily indicate its accuracy. Also, unlike many subsequent guides, this one doesn’t provide a complete list of the options reviewed.  I found myself wondering whether some of my favorites had been considered. As for problems with particular selections, I’m a gardener and permaculturist (albeit just at a hobby level) and Gaia’s Garden isn’t the book I would recommend to most preppers.  It’s a great book, but permaculture colonies can take multiple years to get established well enough that you can harvest them without hurting them, and many permaculture staples are actually quite hard to source.  Moreover, permaculturists still plant gardens of annuals (like tomatoes or green beans or sweet potatoes) and Gaia’s Garden doesn’t teach you how to do that.  If you want one book that will help you get into gardening and even allow you to grow food in a multi-month emergency (depending on the season) from the seed packets you can get at the local store, I would recommend the classic How to Grow More Vegetables. Other books I would recommend for consideration include: -When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin.  If you only had one reference guide for an extended shelter-in-place, this is the one I’d recommend.  It covers mental mindset, clean water, staying warm or cool, etc. in a super-practical, using-what-you-already-have way, complete with (slightly silly) illustrations.  It seems to me to be superior to The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide. -The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour.  An encyclopedic reference guide on homesteading.  I’m not a homesteader, so I can’t promote this book as better than your pick.  However, I find it to be well-written and am curious as to whether it was considered. -Emergency by Neil Strauss.  This is the light read I recommend to people thinking about prepping.  I like that it stresses getting training (and practicing your skills) over buying stuff. I would also recommend, with a big caveat, Facing Violence by Rory Miller.  The caveat is that the second half of the book is on fighting/self-defense techniques and I don’t think you can learn fighting from a book.  But the first half is about the social dynamics that lead to violence, identifying predators, recognizing situations that can lead to violence, and having strategies to avoid these situations or get out of them without fighting.  I haven’t read your pick in this category (When Violence is the Answer) but going through the Table of Contents and Amazon sample, it doesn’t seem like it covers this material.

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I’m not new  to gardening (no experience with chickens), but the thing about gardening is that some parts of it are always new.  You’re always trying out new plants, new varieties, new strategies.  Lots of trial and error.  I have to remind myself to focus on the things that work and not just on the things that didn’t. Some of my new things this year were growing pole beans and building a giant bean trellis (long triangular shape) to support the pole beans on one side and the snow peas on the other.  I also am trying to grow North Georgia Candy Roasters using seeds I saved from one I bought at a farmer’s market while traveling. The bean trellis was a bit of a comedy of errors at first.  It was early in the quarantine and I was committed to just working with scrap I had in the garage – a few pieces of 8′ 2×2 and 1×2.  I didn’t have enough wood to brace it diagonally, so it kept skewing out of shape until I rigged some diagonal bracing with an old piece of climbing rope.  I then cut 8′-10′ long branches off of trees in our backyard to make the poles for the beans and peas to climb and tied them on with scraps of string.  Then for about 2 weeks, the whole thing would tip over whenever we had strong winds.  (I had made it a bit narrow to save space.)  Ultimately I had to pin down the corners with some logs…  But in the end it was worth it!  We had the best harvest of snow peas we’ve ever had – the kids loved it – and a massive amount of pole beans for the space. The Candy Roasters are an ongoing experiment.  The growers of the one I bought had warned me that they grew the roasters in a field with pumpkins and that the two might have cross pollinated.  They suggested I buy seeds from their supplier.  But I wanted to try growing something from my own saved seeds.  Well, the plants are forming fruit and they look… strange.  Not quite a pumpkin and not quite a candy roaster.  But I’m pretty confident they’ll taste good and they give me a laugh when I see them.  It’s all part of the experience.

I would vote this guide for a significant update (as you apparently plan).  The major issue I see is the lack of subject matter experts in the various fields.  Based on their credentials, Sarah Avery seems like a reasonable choice for reviewing fiction and maybe popular (i.e., non-technical) nonfiction and John Ramey seems well positioned to assess the quality of books describing emergency scenarios, reasons to prepare, and survival skills.  However, I don’t see how either of these authors are well qualified to evaluate books on things like violence or medicine or water purification.  Using a standard like “consensus across the prepper movement” to select a book (as they do with the SAS Survival Handbook) is pretty questionable, since most preppers are amateurs with little (if any) actual experience with extreme emergencies – after all, the worst things we prepare for haven’t happened in the US or Europe in 70 – 150 years, if ever.  Choosing something because it was “Amazon’s top seller in the category” (as they do with the B&D Guide to Home Repair again strikes me as invalid.  After all, people who actually know lots about Home Repair are not the ones buying home repair manuals, so sales of the book don’t necessarily indicate its accuracy. Also, unlike many subsequent guides, this one doesn’t provide a complete list of the options reviewed.  I found myself wondering whether some of my favorites had been considered. As for problems with particular selections, I’m a gardener and permaculturist (albeit just at a hobby level) and Gaia’s Garden isn’t the book I would recommend to most preppers.  It’s a great book, but permaculture colonies can take multiple years to get established well enough that you can harvest them without hurting them, and many permaculture staples are actually quite hard to source.  Moreover, permaculturists still plant gardens of annuals (like tomatoes or green beans or sweet potatoes) and Gaia’s Garden doesn’t teach you how to do that.  If you want one book that will help you get into gardening and even allow you to grow food in a multi-month emergency (depending on the season) from the seed packets you can get at the local store, I would recommend the classic How to Grow More Vegetables. Other books I would recommend for consideration include: -When All Hell Breaks Loose by Cody Lundin.  If you only had one reference guide for an extended shelter-in-place, this is the one I’d recommend.  It covers mental mindset, clean water, staying warm or cool, etc. in a super-practical, using-what-you-already-have way, complete with (slightly silly) illustrations.  It seems to me to be superior to The Ultimate Prepper’s Guide. -The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It by John Seymour.  An encyclopedic reference guide on homesteading.  I’m not a homesteader, so I can’t promote this book as better than your pick.  However, I find it to be well-written and am curious as to whether it was considered. -Emergency by Neil Strauss.  This is the light read I recommend to people thinking about prepping.  I like that it stresses getting training (and practicing your skills) over buying stuff. I would also recommend, with a big caveat, Facing Violence by Rory Miller.  The caveat is that the second half of the book is on fighting/self-defense techniques and I don’t think you can learn fighting from a book.  But the first half is about the social dynamics that lead to violence, identifying predators, recognizing situations that can lead to violence, and having strategies to avoid these situations or get out of them without fighting.  I haven’t read your pick in this category (When Violence is the Answer) but going through the Table of Contents and Amazon sample, it doesn’t seem like it covers this material.