Archive for June, 2010

Self-Defense Weapons – Stun Guns, Tasers, Pepper Spray…


Due to the contingent circumstances in this unpredictable, chaotic world, it is always a good idea to prepare for the unexpected.

This is more or less a resource blog post, as I’m not going to waste time elaborating about every facet of self-defense. Personally, I’ll take a small .38 caliber handgun or a .357 Magnum, any day. Firearms are more reliable than the weapons I mentioned in my post entitled “Traditional Weapons – Martial Arts – Bruce Lee included…” But, this entry is not just about firearms or combat tools, it is primarily focused on non-lethal, inconspicuous forms of self-defense, such as: Stun Guns, Pepper Spray, Tasers, etc.

I’m not very enthused about carrying around a taser, but it is an excellent non-lethal replacement for your deadly handgun.  If you live in the United States, like many weapons, not all State Laws allow the purchase of such things.  However, the last time I checked, there were only a few states that prohibited the sale of tasers.

Pepper spray is very effective, and anyone who has ever got near the spray, knows exactly what I’m talking about. Just imagine a liquid form of a super hot pepper getting sprayed into your face, yeah, that sounds lovely. Although it is temporary, the victim can expect some massive burning of the eyes & skin, to say the least. Anyway, I’m sure there are many women living in big cities, who carry this stuff in their purse on a regular basis.

Now, when it comes to shopping for stun guns, expect a lot of variety in the voltage and also in the appearance. Some of these little bastards can zap the holy hell out of you. But, you must remember, in order to use a stun gun, you must be very close to your attacker. My personal favorite, is the little stun gun that looks like a cell phone. Since nearly everyone nowadays is carrying a silly cell phone, nobody will suspect that you are equipped with a stun gun.

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Black Walnut Trees killing Tomatoes

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This is one of those things that many people are not aware of, as you would have to be trying to grow tomatoes near Black Walnut trees to encounter such a gardening debacle.

Black Walnut trees emit a substance known as “juglone” that can damage and/or kill tomatoes along with several other plants, but most commonly the tomato plant. This harmful substance comes from the leaves, branches, walnut hulls, roots, and pretty much the entire tree. English Walnuts, Pecans, Hickories, and Butternut trees also produce juglone, but not near as much as Black Walnut trees.

The purpose or shall I say the advantage gained by secreting juglone, is the effect is has on inhibiting the surrounding plant growth near the tree itself – albeit there are still several varieties of plants & weeds out there that can grow near this tree.  This process of releasing juglone into the ground, allows for these pesky trees to compete and combat any potential nutrient-robber around.

Walnut trees are nice to have, provide decent wood, and are worth a good dollar value and so on, but if you plan on having a garden, especially if you’re growing tomatoes, you need to take precautionary measures.
I’ve recently relocated, and last year I had to chop down roughly 8 to 10 of these lovely garden pests since I wanted to have a decent size crop this year.

The person who lived there before, could not understand why they never could grow anything or have good yield in the field that was surrounded by these trees. Upon moving into the area, I quickly realized what the problem was and, since I also built a fire ring, I got to chopping. I also cut down a few other trees as well. I used the Black Walnut wood to repair an old bridge, and I used the other trees for the fire ring. I saved some of the ashes from the wood I burned, but only from the trees that didn’t contain juglone, and used it for a soil amendment this spring, as I explained in my post titled “Organic Fertilizer – Natural ways to fertilize your garden.”

Anyway, back to the subject… If possible, simply grow your tomato plants and/or plant your garden far away from any Walnut, Pecans, Hickories, and Butternut trees. If you do decide to cut down the trees, remove the debris from the area. It often takes many years for these types of trees that emit this toxic substance, to effect your garden plants due to the slowly developing underground root system. Adding organic matter into your growing area, like a rich compost, will help enhance the microbes in the soil which, in turn, helps break down juglone and promote plant survival. One final note, as a gardener, you should always be on the lookout for any type of garden pests, potential problems or possible poisons near your garden and, as always, good luck with your crop……

A tomato plant's foe, the Black Walnut tree.

A tomato plant's foe, the Black Walnut tree.

Shepherd’s Pie – Quick & Simple Recipe


Below, I’ll provide a recipe for Shepherd’s Pie. This is the quick version, using instant potatoes and basic ingredients.

A lot of people add extra vegetables to it, but I just kept it simple and only included all the stuff that is more filling and/or promotes utter satiety. This dish should be referred to as a “casserole” as opposed to “pie” but hey, I didn’t name the damn thing……

This recipe makes 4 servings…

Cook 1 lb. of ground chuck or lean hamburger meat. I usually season the beef with a slight amount of Worcestershire sauce, seasoned salt, and black pepper.
As the beef is nearly done, add one tablespoon of dried, chopped onion into the frying pan – or, you can substitute this with a small, fresh onion that is finely chopped.
After the beef is done, drain & set aside.

Prepare your instant potatoes, using a 6-serving sized proportion; salt & pepper to taste. Depending upon the time you want to put into this cuisine, using 3 large potatoes, you can substitute the instant potatoes by making your own homemade mashed potatoes the way you normally would prepare them. But, if you’re in a hurry, instant potatoes should suffice.

Okay, you now have your ground chuck/beef & potatoes done and seasoned…  In a 9 x 9 baking pan, use half of the ground beef for the first layer, then use half of the potatoes as the second layer, then add 4 slices of American cheese as the 3rd layer.
Repeat the same process for the 4th, 5th, and 6th layer – beef / potatoes / cheese.

Bake this dish at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes or until the top layer of the cheese starts to brown.

Cool & enjoy…

It should look something like this:

Excuse the incomplete pie, as my girlfriend spooned some out as I was going for the camera...

Excuse the incomplete pie, as my girlfriend spooned some out as I was going for the camera...

Quick Addition: Many people like to add corn along with other vegetables into their Shepherd’s Pie, so feel free to alter this simple recipe to better suit your taste. With or without the variations, it should turn out to be a tasty casserole. Yummy!

Recent Recipes:
| How to make Mexican Pizzas | How to make Hash Browns |

Pickled Produce – Pickling for Quick Use…

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This simple process can apply for much of your produce via the garden, such as: sweet & hot peppers, okra, cucumbers, radishes, and so on.


Unlike the tedious canning process, pickling doesn’t require absolute sterility before being sealed nor do you have to worry about the absence of oxygen within the container or jar. The flavor, salinity and/or acidity of the pickling solution you decide to use along with being kept refrigerated, is all you’ll have to be concerned with – that is, if it’s consumed within a reasonable time period.

Pickling Peppers for quick use…

Take and wash the peppers; slice the sides or stab 3 or 4 holes into them with a knife. This needs to be done so the vinegar solution quickly penetrates the pepper inside & out.
If it is large peppers, for example, a full sized banana pepper, you may need to cut the top off, slice into quarters, and de-seed the pepper so it fits into the jar.
You can also slice your peppers into what is often called “nacho sliced peppers.” Often times, you’ll find Jalapenos sliced this way, at local grocery stores and markets.
Stuff the jar full of peppers along with whatever additional produce you choose to season it with; I usually throw in a few slices of onions.

The acidic solution: When pickling peppers, I typically use a 3:1 ratio – 3 parts vinegar (I use white vinegar) for every 1 part water. For flavor, I’ll add 1 teaspoon of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of non-iodized salt per jar.

Heat the vinegar/water solution until it is boiling. Pour the hot solution into the pepper-filled jars while leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace remaining in the jar.
Put the lid on the jar, allow to cool for a couple hours at room temperature and then place it in the refrigerator.
Some folks think they need to be ate within one or two months, while others claim that the peppers will keep for at least 6 months. One of the main reasons I use a 3:1 ratio is to increase the shelf life capacity. I have cooked with peppers that I’ve pickled this way, up to 9 or 10 months later.

I’d use the same 3:1 ratio for okra, as well.

On the other hand, when I pickle cucumbers for quick use, I only use a 1:1 ratio – since I know it will be ate within a few days.

I’ve never tried pickled radishes, but I’m sure they would turn out well. There are so many other things that can be pickled, such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, green beans, onions, and whatnot.

But remember, unless you go through the canning process, you must keep them refrigerated and consume within a limited time frame.

Good luck with the yield in your garden and happy pickling……

Corn Plants Falling Down in the Garden?


This stuff happens, especially to the newbies. If you’re new to the garden scene and/or just simply would like to remedy this corn plant-related mishap, there’s a few things you can do to prevent this……

A beautiful field of corn plants basking in the sun...

A beautiful field of corn plants basking in the sun...

The most common mistake made when planting corn, is by not putting the seed deep enough into the ground. Most packets of corn seed will instruct you to sow the seeds 1 inch deep, as this is not always enough; somewhere around 2 to 3 inches deep would yield stronger plants with a more stable foundation of root support.
Besides planting deeper, there is a couple more things you can do to help hinder the falling down of your corn plants. After your plants reach a height of 2 feet or more, and you have weeded out the weak sprouts, mound a pile of dirt around the base of each corn stalk. I’d suggest a nice, well-rounded pile of dirt, roughly 2 to 3 inches high.
If all else fails and/or you’re enduring a bad season of high wind and hard storms, you could always drive stakes into the ground and tie them off – by securing the lower section of each plant. This is an easy solution, but would only be worth the effort in small, personal gardens. If you have a lot of corn, you’re better off planting them a little deeper to begin with, so you can avoid having to put in all the extra effort to prevent them from falling over. Of course, due to random weather conditions and bouts of strong gust, it is normal for some of your plants to get blown down regardless of preventive measures.

Fertilizing your corn: 

The wonderful corn plant is often referred to as a “nitrogen lover.” They utterly thrive in soil & fertilizer that has a high nitrogen content. Typically, for most vegetables, I select a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or use Miracle Grow supplements as 18-18-21. But for corn, it’s better to use pure ammonium nitrate fertilizer or Miracle Grow supplements as 24-8-16, for example. Although, you can never go wrong with using rich, organic fertilizer and compost for any plants within your garden.

Also, corn is very dependent on a regular supply of water. If you have a small to mid-size garden that you’re able to easily water, I recommend that you do so – to combat any sessions of drought that the hot growing season of summer often casts down upon thee. If corn doesn’t get enough water, it will not produce quality ears.
Good luck with your crop and take advantage of the garden season while it’s here in full swing……

If you do have good garden results, yield a lot of produce, and you lack the freezer room, you may be interested in visiting the link below:

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Radishes didn’t produce?


For whatever reason, poor economy or other motivational factors, there is a lot of new gardeners out there.

Personally, I’m glad to see it. Of course, due to these newly rising interests in agriculture, the retail stores and other outdoor outlets, have raised the price on seeds. We won’t get into that, since things might get a little sloppy in such verbiage that would pertain to aggressive marketing methods and corporate bastards.

Okay, back to the subject at hand, I’ve recently been addressed with a question: Why didn’t my radishes produce?

This is a simple query, but it’s also a common mistake made by gardening newbies…

I asked in return, “what time of year was it? Was it hot weather?” They said, “uh, yeah…it was like late spring just before summer…when it is hot and everything is growing good.”

I shook my head and said, “Radishes are a cool-weather crop. For example, you live in Tennessee, so they need to be planted in early-mid spring or early-mid fall.”

The simple facts (for the most common varieties of radishes):

A radish seed germinates rather quickly, often times within 4 or 5 days. After they sprout, they usually mature in about 3 weeks. They are not a high-demand plant, so a mild, slow-release fertilize should suffice. If your ground is semi-fertile and broke up well or tilled, they shouldn’t need anything at all besides water & sunshine. They produce the best in a temperature range between 50 – 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Radishes do poorly when the air temperature is constantly above 75 degrees. In many cases, when planted in hot weather, the greens will grow quickly and the blooming/producing of seeds will be hastened while producing very few radishes in the process. Also, during the warm season, the radishes that do develop will often have a hot & spicy taste – this is not always a bad thing, depending on your preference. Radishes also possess numerous health benefits, especially when ate raw. Freshly picked radishes, when stored in the refrigerator, should last 3 weeks or more.

Some people eat the greens from the radish plant and they can be used as a substitute for mustard greens, for example. If peppery greens is what you’re after, then this subject matter doesn’t apply. But, if you’re seeking fresh, plump, tasty radishes, then take heed to the prior advice.

Easy-to-grow radishes, ready to be picked from the garden.

Easy-to-grow radishes, ready to be picked from the garden.

 Garden Related Link:  Natural Organic Fertilizer – Compost