Prepping with N-P-K Plus Shop Notes

Another scorcher coming up here in East Texas.  With all the hype and BS about “climate change” we should be in the middle of a desert by now.  But, lo and behold, just two days of 100+ temps likely this summer – and that’s counting today.  This is a  first couple of weeks of August phenomenon for the 15+ years we’ve lived here.

Prepping: Heat and Plants

A lot of plants can do OK in heat. But, not all. 

Tomatoes, for example, seem to thrive into the low to mid 90’s.  But they also stop fruiting, when too hot.  This is why it’s important in the spring to get your plans in early – as soon as frost danger subsides.

This winter, we’ll (again) be starting seeds in January on a heat mat (the waterproof, made-for-gardening variety) in the greenhouse.  Then, setting the plants out in soil when they are a few inches high.  Properly-timed that would be the day after the last frost.

Never seems to work out right, but farming is like gambling without money.

Keyword “Famine”

There are two ways to look at the data-slurry posing as “the news.”  One way is to take whatever the mix of social media, the mainstream media, and all challengers dish-out.

The other way – which we wax-on about over on the subscriber side – is becoming a “self-directed information consumer.”

You figure out what your personal risks are – and then you focus on developments related to  that risk.  Then skip all the hype about everything else.  Most of it in un-actionable, anyway.  Most “news” is militant recruitng of people with nothing better to do, monetizations and setting up click-bait, anyway.

We like the DuckDuckGo news search tool more-so than Google (whose engines DDG parses).  Seems to be “less agendized.”

We like one or two keywords searches related to our threats to existence:  “Health”  “Food” and “famine” being among the ones we look at almost daily.

Eyeing the Food Front

On the surface, recent stories like U.S. farmers to harvest record large corn crop, second largest soy crop: USDA, would seem to offer the insight that prepping-types shouldn’t worry too much about caloric outlooks.

But the total amount of food out there is only one part of the food equation.  The other?

Control.  We were able to keep our cache of a “few things” mostly topped off over CV-19 panic early on.  But the view ahead is murky.  Due in part to the continuing rise in both cases and deaths into the fall and winter ahead.

Most parts of the country have one or two growing seasons:  Along the Pacific Coast, there’s mainly one until you get down into California.  Where you can get two and sometimes three crops.

South Florida is very rich – and many people garden effectively year-round.  But we don’t trust the look of the La Palma volcano.  Chicken-hearted, we reckon.  But that outlook got us to the 70’s.

Prepping the Garden

Whether the cause of food failure is weather – or potentially economic – a lot of preppers have laid-back a plan to recover buying “prepper seed vaults.”  The idea is you can always put in a little vegetable patch and “get by.”

That – sadly – is a  lie.

There are a lot of trip-wires involved, not the least of which is gardening takes time and energy, it’s largely influenced by weather, and there are so many natural pests out there it will make your head spin.

Above all, though, a lot of soils will not support a good robust crop without “soil amendments.”  This can be “compost” and “compost tea” if you’ve been working at things a while.

In our case, we add a 4-5 foot thick layer to our composting of leaves every year.  The 10-year old well-composted leaves (when dug out from now 4-5 feet down) would likely be OK.  But, once again, an amendment like lime might be needed to “sweeten” things up a bit. Leaves can be acidic.  And that still leaves the key nutrients question.

So, in the “prepping gear” you might want to include several “soil test kits” in addition to your “seed vault.”  And on top of that, a bag or three of?

We opted for a 33-pound bag of it.  Because if all this “cultural warfare” crap going on is “successful” we can foresee an internet-free world where most infrastructure collapses. We all go back to 1890 lifestyles.  Great for climate, though, huh?

With a world in collapse, we’d like to have a veggie tray and some pickles for such an occasion.  And maybe a few hundred pounds of sugar to try some home made distilling ideas….

How to Buy Fertilizer

There are three main chemicals in fertilizers and the easiest way to remember them is “N-P-K.”  N is for Nitrogen, P is for phosphorous, while the K stands for potassium.

The bigger the number, the more of that nutrient is present.

Problem is (and this is why “triple-13”) is a good beginning choice, it’s easy to “burn plants” by applying too much of a good thing.  We will be buying a prepping bag of “triple-20” as well (20-20-20).  But the bigger the number, the higher the risk of burning.

A Seed-Buying Warning

I mentioned on the Peoplenomics site this weekend that painting the Ure mail box white was one of my September projects ahead.

Our mailbox – presently being black – has made a fine toaster-oven out in the hot Texas sun this year.  None of the late-season seed orders were worth a damn.  Abysmal germination rates.

Seeds that are getting over 120 in the warehouse, shipment, or storage are not what you want.  Stored and moved at 75 or cooler is ideal.

When we get into mid October, or so, when temps moderate – that’s the time to order seeds.  Just remember, that’s too late for a fall or winter garden except maybe if you live in Homestead, Florida, or so.

Shop Notes:  Lazy Squaring

I happened to be setting up an outdoor table for our fall garden seeds this coming week.  That meant building some table legs.

Not hard work at all, but where a lot of people run into the ditch on a project like this is getting everything lined-up square.

It occurred to us a long-time ago that we could use the table saw fence as a “helper” on such projects:

Works like a charm.  And if you have adjustable ripping wings, you can (depending on saw, of course) support things up to 2-3 feet wide.

One of these days, some metal pins and some squaring guides will be added to the big shop table.  But the table saw works so that project keeps falling down the list.

On a different project, though – one where I was cobbling something up in a hurry with 1-minute epoxy – I didn’t notice that there were a few drips into the miter channel on the saw top.

What followed was a 10-minute “chip-it-out” session with an old screwdriver and mallet.  There went all my “time savings.”

Wood Mold

Notwithstanding the heat down here, it was possible to get a couple of hours worth of shop play-time in Saturday thanks to the Swamp Cooler.  But, therein lies a tale…

Evaporative coolers take hot dry outside air and through evaporation, cool it down (though with higher humidity) which kept the shop in the lower 80’s most of the day.  While outside was running 98-99 F in the afternoon.

One unintended consequence of using a swamp cooler in a marginal climate, though, turns out to be wood mold.  Take this piece of pine, stored near the chiller, for example:

If you look close, you can see what look like “dot marks.”  Turns out, these machining marks from the mill are where the mold seems to set up first.  A powdery gray surface mold on some other areas, too.

Doesn’t hurt the wood, shoret-term anyway.  A single light pass through the surface planer takes it right off.  But, that burns through one of those N-95 masks we’ve been saving.  With the big built in vac system, who knows whether its dangerous?  This is not the time to take chances with anything…

Wood Storage

There’s a simple solution to wood mold:  Don’t store wood in the higher humidity swamp-cooled shop.  Except, that when storing wood outside, you can’t usually find room under cover for a dead vertical, or flat lay-down.

Things get propped up:

Now, a reminder in Outlook goes off every couple of weeks reminding me “Turn outside wood over.”  Sometimes I do it…

End for end and over.  So far – knock on (you-know-what) that seems to be keeping the wood ready.

An even easier solution?  Order material only as you’re really going to use it.

Ah, but who doesn’t over-order lumber?

I’ve found I can almost  depend on myself to over-estimate my project completion rate by 50-percent.  Seems to depend on how many cups of coffee I’ve had in my comfy 70-degree office.

With the shop into the low to mid 80’s – and I swear the smell of the sulfurs of Hell outside in the heat – the project completion rate falls though the floor.

So off to tackle that…  Wait…how about one more cup?

Write when you get rich,

author avatar
George Ure
Amazon Author Page: UrbanSurvival Bio:

35 thoughts on “Prepping with N-P-K Plus Shop Notes”

  1. i try to avoid water soluble fertilizers like the Greenview. Water soluble fertilizers turn your plants into junkies craving more quick boosts. If you have a well or ponds on your patch, all the more reason to avoid water solubles because of runoff. i use stone dusts, minerals, organic matter, composts and manure.

    organic gardeners, like me, don’t grow plants. we grow soil.

    • Agreed…and, you can “grow” your own fertilizers which have significant NPK in them. Stinging nettle “tea” is excellent as is Comfrey tea. Pack leaves of either or both in a five gallon bucket; add water; loosely cover for a week or two. Strain out liquid and there you go. Use one part of that liquid to 10 parts of water and you have your own liquid fertilizer that is rich in NPK and other minerals.
      Another interesting plant you can grow is Azolla…which is an extremely fast growing aquatic fern relative. It pulls nitrogen from the atmosphere into itself and therefore is rich in N. Get some locally or people even sell it on line. Put some in a kiddie pool filled with water and a little soil and compost and it will grow to fill the kiddie pool in days. Harvest with a net and compost it for a rich fertilizer. Check out this link for more info or google “Azolla event” for fascinating info on the plant.

  2. G – U be getting warm with Ure Temperature controlled Growing idea (s).

    Personally would go with sinking that puppy several feet DOWN into the low can U go?
    Critical U get that work in while the Temps are moderating this fall, in between la nina ‘pumped”/influenced Hurricanes – the hits will just keep coming this Fall – as another one bites the dust..

    Turn it Up!

    Highly recommend ANY of Dr Richard Alan Millers Books& Videos on Ag..Alternative Agriculture – Beginners Courses for Kids – they actually LEARN How/Why/When/What NPK – Doc Miller is a bona fide GENIUS and very entertaining – so much to learn..

  3. Tomatoes here on the ranch were a mixed bag this year. Went full hydro in the hoop house with my favorite Big Beef hybrid and Boston Pickler cukes. Sides came up in early April and 50% shade cloth went on the day after tax day. Production was huge as usual. I am mostly a fan of heirloom varieties but this year they were a disappointment. Between the weird ass weather in the early summer right about blossom set time and the damned squirrels we only harvested a few for fresh eating and seeds for next year. I have not had a lot of success with the heirlooms in hydroponics.

    Been saving seeds for the past few years, Mostly heirloom tomatoes and a couple of snap bean varieties. Those “Survival Seed Vault” packs, no thanks. They contain a small handful of nickel bags of maybe a 1/4 teaspoon of seed each. Buy your seed locally or from reputable sellers. Source your seed, medium and feritilizer needs NOW.

    Stay safe. 73

  4. Based on U.S. bailout $ the only thing more difficult than farming is delivery of U.S. mail.

    • This is going to be expensive, for us:

      “An inland hurricane tore through Iowa.” Corn and Soybeans wiped out…… the very same Corn and Soybeans China was supposed to buy…. before the trade war started….

      • Steve, I’d rather see all the commercially grown corn and soy be sent to China as 90% or more is all GMO, get it out of here. Most people don’t know that what Monsanto is modifying is a resistance to Round Up(Glosophate). That way they can spray by aircraft 1000s of acres in short order. Kills the weeds but not the crops. A word on lime, test your soil PH first, only add lime if it’s low as it raises PH. Balanced PH allows all the other nutrients and minerals to be available to the plants.

        • Actually, best veggie soils are slightly acidic – tomatoes, a bit bit more so. Fallout from running daily water pH on our hydroponics last year

  5. weird, I just bought 2 more bags of Coop Poop on friday for my woodchip garden, you got a keen sense of timing,,,why dont Ure have chickens, are u a prepper? bug eating, egg laying fertilizer making and eatable chickens,,ya ya ,I know animals tie you down and you have to find someone to tend to them, as you are one who likes to be free to travel (when there is no china virus fears) and your former palace guard has moved to the city, we dont hear much about Panama anymore. Have good one

    • All good points.
      Thing is, our neighbor has chickens – and we buy him a bag of scratch now and then.
      And, when comes to it, we can raise some of those eggs, lol

      • When you make up your mind to ‘raise’ some of those eggs, remember it takes 5 months for those chicks to start producing eggs of their own. If you think you want eggs in December, you need to have bought your chicks in July.

  6. I noticed this week that everyone at a local diner had stopped wearing masks, both employees and customers. I did not follow that trend.
    Locally, the Covid-19 positives are surging again. I’m hoping that it is due to lab turnaround and reporting issues, rather than a real surge in infections, but given what I am seeing with the use of masks, that may just be wishful thinking.
    This weekend was a good time for some indoor activities during the heat of the day. I am recharging all the cameras, flashlights, optics, lamps and radio batteries, etc. Don’t forget to periodically charge batteries of devices stowed in improvised Faraday containers. I also need to go through and figure out what non-rechargeable batteries I need to replace and keep spares on hand for. Aiming devices come to mind.

  7. “And maybe a few hundred pounds of sugar to try some home made distilling ideas….”

    That got me to laughing…

    Seems some years ago I decided to try distill fuel grade alcohol, with a target of something north of 180 proof. (90%)

    I didn’t want to spend the money on sugar, so I tried sweet potatoes.
    Worked great, but my rig was too crude to get over 140 proof.

    Long story short, I mentioned my modest efforts to some good old boy that worked at the local auto parts store. They said they could tell me if I was doing it right …

    Well, I was headed across country at the time, so I decided to just drop some of my finest week old hooch off on my way out of town.

    Being something of a traditionalist, I used a few mason jars.

    About a year later I was in town again, and stopped by the auto parts store where I was mobbed by the same group demanding to know if I had any more, “That stuff was GOOD!”

    Sadly (or not) that was my only attempt, but I always get a laugh out of the memory of the hopeful faces on those West Virginia good ol’ boys asking if I had more.

    • I make my own wine and beer all the time.. I use to use double the sugar.. well this batch of elderberry wine I used half.. and wow.. it is awesome.. these bottles won’t last around here at all LOL…
      the wine has always been so good that it is around forty percent.. and the beer twenty percent.. well.. less is best with wine..

    • I have some great recipe’s KAS.. just ask and I will definitely share them.. No secret recipe here.. Cordials are way to expensive for the catfish at the bottom of the pond.. so I had to learn to make my own..and it is a lot of fun to boot … I have a friend in the UK that sends me sloe’s so I can make my own slow gin.. its the best…or spiced rum.. etc etc… my favorite is lemon and orange liquor..
      sweet potato vodka or wine is really good.. putting plants in old composted horse manure is the way to grow them to.. I found that out.. the buttons and bows.. I make that for xmas gifts every year.. it is a favorite with those I give it to for gifts I have two rum drinkers that look forward to my spiced rum..

  8. “Keyword “Famine”

    interestingly enough.. yesterday was Pizza day.. we fix one cheese and one supreme.. I put them in the oven.. and let it go.. afterwards I noticed something peculiar.. the supreme pizza we have always bought the same brand and same pizza.. was missing some key ingredients.. or lacking key ingredients..
    MEAT.. instead of sliced pepperoni they used ground up and the sausage and ground beef was eerily miniscule.. maybe over the whole pizza was one ounce of all of them combined.. the crust .. a traditional bread crust.. was thinner.. ( cheap bread is more of a soda bread and whipped to have air pockets and missing flour which is why it seems to just crumble…. this crust was reminiscent of soda bread.. I could tell it had corn flour in it)( ever notice that in the chip isle you are not seeing potato chips.. the products sold are corn chips..the reason corn is cheaper and yields a higher profit..chip guys are usually jobbers so what they are given to sell and pay for is what your going to get like it or not..)
    back to the pizza.. the cheese pizza had a thinner crust with less flour to but they did pile on the cheese.. half of the sauce they normally put on the pizza.. the supreme with less meat had less peppers and olives and the mushrooms was almost non existent as well and a ton of onions.. I am betting there was at least one whole chopped onion on that pizza….

    OK.. what is so special about a dam pizza.. it is reminiscent of depression era meals..russia and their borscht the great potato famine.. when we were having a tough go in the eighties we ate rice and chicken livers…onions.. every labor day I would make ten pounds of potato bologna.. soak and wash the casings.. grind mix..
    3/4 pound lean ground beef (90% lean)
    3/4 cup finely shredded potatoes
    1/4 cup finely chopped onion
    2 tablespoons chopped green pepper
    1 large egg, beaten
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    1 cup tomato juice ( I use V8 )
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    1/4 cup water
    1 clove of garlic.. optional

    grind and fill.. you can do half and half to.. which is two and a half pounds of pork butt two and a half pounds of beef.. and five pounds of potatoes cooked to just firm.. put in garlic if you want.. you can grind together and make burgers as well with this..
    it goes a long way and is really good.. the bologna is even better if you cold smoke it.. which is a favorite thing to do with

    the other thing is what I see in the store.. I have seen tripe the first time in my life tripe being sold in the meat department.. along with organ meats. reminds me of the azzholes that they sell once a month to ethnic groups.. a sign of the times.. and what is coming our way if you ask me..

    • oh.. you can season this about anyway you want.. this is just my preferance.. I make bratwurst to.. and hot dogs.. mixing it all together I have a meat mixer.. mix it let it sit and the spices mingle.. then after it has set for a couple of hours.. take a small bit of it.. and fry it up.. eat it to make sure that the flavors are the way you want it to be.. then add comparitively.. I showed the two pound mix…. that is a good starter.. always go small get the flavors the way you want then add or subtract before you go with a whole ten pound mix.. ten pounds of nasty tasting potato bologna is ten pounds you won’t eat.. so mix up the small batch make sure its what you want then make the big ten pound batch .. always taste test your mix.. in the small batch first..I learned that the hard way.. made up ten pounds without testing the flavors LOL….

  9. Off Topic, but… my ’emergency fund’ got put to use this weekend. Local ham is downsizing and a like-new solid-state amplifier became available. And if picking up a bargain ham linear when it becomes available isn’t an ’emergency’, I don’t know what is! Still adjusting to this living on a fixed-income. This was in the longer term plans anyway, this just forced the issue. Now I gotta catch-up and wire the shack for 240vac to run the thing. And I guess I need a high power tuner that will handle the 1200 watts, too. It’s always something…

  10. Thanks for the gardening tips George.

    Not that it applies to me, I’ve long since placed myself in the tropics where fruit & veggies are plentiful and there’s plenty of fish in the sea.


    Here’s some fanciful reading for you and your readers to ponder.

    (watch the shadowgate video first to place this in proper context, it’s up to 1.2M views in 36 hours on utube alone).

    Public outrage cements Trump victory.
    Bad guys routed,.
    Trump signs return to Gold Standard act on Xmas-eve.
    Fed and other central banks abolished.

    All is well in the world.
    Or is it?

    This modern version “Gold Standard” really means your shiny (includes silver too) must be turned in and your account is credited at the new “too-the-moon” price of gold & silver.
    All the PMs holders don’t mind because they’re now far better off financially and “sound money” rules. And besides, private P2P is outlawed.

    Even those without shiny now realize how imprudent governments have been.

    World quickly shifts in unison.
    Digital gold money rules with transactions worldwise being handled by the new & operational 5G satellite network.
    Everyone worldwise automatically gets an account created for them.
    It’s even seeded with a bonus just to make everyone feel warm & fuzzy.
    UBI for poor.
    All other forms of money retired. Everything now digital.
    Digital means tracking of EVERY transaction.
    Everyone now has a file. This file contains everything about them.
    Their movements, their purchases, their emails/social media posts.

    All this is run by AI, constantly scanning thru these files insuring all activity is legal & “compliant”.

    “Compliant” means socially correct and vaccinated with most current version.

    Game set and Match.
    The Powers that Be have what they wanted. Total control.
    Public every so slowly realizes that another bait & switch has been pulled on them.

    Enjoy your Sunday everyone.


    When Silenus had finally fallen into his clutches, the king asked him what was best and most desirous thing of all for mankind.

    The daemon stood silent, stiff and motionless, until at last, forced by the king, he gave shrill laugh and spoke these words:

    ‘Miserable, ephemeral race, children of hazard and hardship, why do you force me to say what would be more fruitful for you not to hear?

    The best of all things is something entirely out of your grasp: not to be born, not to be, to be nothing.
    But the second best for you — to die soon.”



    Think of how stupid the average person is?
    Then realize that half the people are stupider than that.

    George Carlin

  11. Then, setting the plants out in soil when they are a few inches high. Properly-timed that would be the day after the last frost.

    But KNOWING that it’s the last frost is what seperates the “men from the boys”. With sneers to the politically correct crowd. . .

    Any gardener must know what is the norm for his location and have an eye for the weather. A difference of just a quarter mile can make the difference of 2 degrees F which at 31 F VS 33 F makes the crop a GO or NO GO gamble.

      • But a goodly supply of empty milk jugs/2 liter bottles can make frost covers for tender plants when that surprise frost hits two weeks after the average last frost date.

  12. George,
    When I was a gardener we’d go to the feed store and buy a big bag of general purpose fertilizer and a bag of seed for a green manure crop. After the garden was cleaned up we’d spread the fertilizer and how the seeds. I the spring the crop was
    Plowed under. The green manure would process the chemical fertilizer into something more easily used by plants.

    Because sources of organic matter were not available, we used peat moss. We bought it in the big compressed heavy bags. We used as much as we could afford.

    Home distilling has a long tradition in this country. Colonial Americans even an rose up in revolt over the first federal taxes. Buying large
    quantities of cracked corn and sugar can get one flagged by the feds. Have you considered Apple’s or peaches?

    For education in 19th century best practices for growing stuff, again I recommend the writings of Liberty Hyde Bailey.
    There is much more to a victory garden than vegetables
    Available at Amazon of course.

    Wire brush the mailbox and
    paint it white. Many persons with horticulture interests only use delivery services during temperate times. Some sources do not ship when there are weather extremes.

    Keep your garden tools sharp.

  13. It looks like a very good corn and soybean crop coming in up here in Kansas. However, in Germany they are having issues with mice.

    We have an agreement with a local tree trimming company to dump their shavings on our land when it’s wet, as it’s usually easy to get into our place. So, we usually have a big pile of tree mulch. I use quite a bit of it to replenish the compost pile. I also try to get a large load of cow poop to mix in. And, then to break it down I usually add a sack of 13-13-13.

    And, then about once a month, or so, I fire up my small skid loader, and turn the compost pile.

    It ends up being a wonderful rich soil…pretty much like potting soil. Anyway, we put it on the garden and around trees. Everything grows….

    We took a trip to Tybee Island the first part of August. It was very nice to walk the beach, and eat seafood. The planes and the terminals were almost empty. It was a very nice trip. We wore masks on the plane and in the terminal. No issues.

  14. Peppers! Most people don’t know, but they are perennials. Throw a handful of bonemeal at the roots and let them go. Mine up here in Saskatchewan already have store sized green peppers, and they are heading for the yellow stage. Great extra for the garden.

    • We had a chili patine (tapine? don’t know how you really spell it) plant growing in the corner of our back yard for years without much help until it finally did its last a year or so ago. Peppers are some of the easiest plants to grow which is probably why they figure into so much of the Southwest recipes. They wake up otherwise bland foods which was always welcome back before a lot of spices were typically available. It was always funny to me how their use abruptly stopped once you got into Colorado and farther North. When we were in Washington state I longed for any kind of “spiciness” in the food up there outside of the seafood.

  15. Is sailor on this planet . Very patriotic type . Repatriation and restitution for a 100 years of crime . Sure sailor . Sail off

  16. I’m doggedly trying to get enough peaches from my little group of trees out here in the desert to make it worth my while this year. I’ve observed that if I don’t put water in the moats around them every day there isn’t going to be anything to share with my competitors – the squirrels, birds and insects. Or perhaps they see me as THEIR competitor because the squirrels left us nothing but cleaned peach pits last year. I finally snagged some yesterday.

    Skipping a day makes a significant difference in peach size and number no matter how many times in one day I fill up the moats around the trees. It’s like they’d prefer swamps. I wish I had a good hand at cartooning because a great ‘toon would be a cactus talking to a suffering fruit tree out here saying “What?!”. Then again prickly pear apple wine has been in the back of my mind for a long time, too.

    I have a half dozen peach sprouts that are needing to be transplanted when the temperatures go down later this year and at that time I’ll have to put in an automatic watering system to keep them all going. Not living on the ranch keeps the fuel bills pretty high so trying to automate as much as I can is one of my ultimate goals. Gardening of any type pretty much precludes us getting away, even for a weekend, throughout most of the year. Raising livestock, not so much as long as something doesn’t break while you’re away and Murphey’s Law is a slam dunk. That’s what kids are for.

  17. Oh bill make peach liqueur..its delicious easy to make … and a hit with everyone..
    Buttons and bows..
    Two bottles of vodka.
    6 peaches
    12 cherries
    4 cloves
    1 lemon chopped
    3 oranges chopped
    2 cups of sugar
    1 inch cinnamon stick (variable by taste)
    1 vanilla bean split and scraped
    1/4 cup raisins
    It’s best to chop up the peaches heat it up with water and sugar to make a simple syrup..mash it then add it to the vodka with the rest of the ingredients.. let it sit for one month covered. Strain and bottle..
    It’s great with cola.

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