Wednesday, 14 October 2015

By on October 14th, 2015 in prepping

09:29 – Yesterday, we packaged up samples of each of the seed types we have on hand for freeze-testing. We’re still awaiting delivery on six of the seed types. When those arrive, we’ll package up test specimens of each type and then freeze all of the specimens. We’ll then allow them to return to room temperature and run germination tests on each. I expect that most of the specimens will survive the freeze/thaw cycle and germinate normally. Any that don’t will require additional drying and retesting before we can package them.

I’ve gotten several emails about the decision to include Stevia seeds, all of them critical. Most are concerned about the taste/aftertaste of the stuff and its usability as a sweetener, but a couple mentioned something that concerned me as well. Being native to tropical/subtropical regions, Stevia is extremely cold-sensitive and is quite difficult to grow in temperate latitudes. Germination rates are also very low, so you’d need to grow quite a few plants if you wanted to save seed while maintaining genetic diversity. The kit already includes two species that are good sources of sugar, beets and parsnips, so I’ve decided to drop the Stevia from the kit. (We’ll do small test plantings ourselves to get some experience with it, and I may revisit that decision in later years.)

In its place, I’m going to add amaranth. You’ll see amaranth variously listed by seed vendors as an herb, a vegetable, or a grain. It’s actually all three, but my main interest in it is as a grain (actually, a pseudo-cereal). Before the arrival of Europeans, amaranth seed was a major staple for Meso-American natives. Its seeds were used as a grain, as we now use wheat, which was unknown at that time and place. We’ll include a half ounce of amaranth seeds. That’s 20,000+ seeds, sufficient to produce literally tons of yield.

Substituting amaranth for Stevia won’t affect the price of the kits, which remains at $181. My earlier offer remains open to regular readers. For the time being, we’ll ship one or more of these kits anywhere in the 50 states for $100. If you want to order a kit or kits, go to, choose the option to send money, and transfer $100 for each kit you want to orders (at) thehomescientist (dot) com. Make sure to include your mailing address, either street address or PO box. Orders will ship sometime next month.

43 Comments and discussion on "Wednesday, 14 October 2015"

  1. Miles_Teg says:

    At least one of my favourite artificially sweetened drinks uses Stevia. Perhaps the taste of the drink masks the Stevia flavour but I have no problem at all with it.

  2. Looks like Amaranth is very labor intensive to thresh the seeds out of the dry plant.

  3. Dave says:

    So what are we supposed to do with barley in a SHTF situation if there are no hops available? Was there any particular reason you didn’t include cucumbers or radishes in the kit other than the fact you couldn’t include everything?

  4. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    No more so than any other emergency food production. You can actually harvest seeds by shaking the seed heads over a bin or pail. The mature seeds fall into the container.

    Neither threshing nor winnowing are a particularly big deal for this and the other grains in the kits. Grinding amaranth seeds into a useful flour does involve a lot of physical work, as anyone who’s ever ground wheat berries or other grains in a manual grinder can tell you. But you do end up with a gluten-free flour with an amino-acid profile that complements those of wheat, corn, oats, etc. to provide a complete protein source. Of course, beans do that as well.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Barley isn’t there to make beer. It’s yet another grain crop, which can be consumed by chickens and other livestock as well as humans. It’s better adapted to small-scale production in gardens than wheat, and it has a good amino acid profile.

  6. dkreck says:

    Beer and wine. Both useful and valuable as barter.

  7. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yes, certainly, but my overriding goal is to avoid starvation.

  8. Dave says:

    Barley isn’t there to make beer. It’s yet another grain crop, which can be consumed by chickens and other livestock as well as humans.

    I was mostly joking with the hops question. My own alcohol consumption is rather low. But I will with an attempt at humor point out that while it is rather time consuming, making and bottling beer would be one way to store calories indefinitely that is impervious to vermin and rot. Not to mention that if you really wanted to sell your prepping book, you’d title it something like How To Brew Beer and Pick Up Chicks in the Zombie Apocalypse.

  9. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yep, beer and ale (primarily small but also some ass-kicking stuff) was a major source of calories during the winter in medieval Europe.

    I kind of like that title. Maybe I’ll steal it.

  10. DadCooks says:

    Just in time, here is a web page discussing fermented beverages made with and without a starter:

  11. Dave says:

    I kind of like that title. Maybe I’ll steal it.

    Go right ahead. Or send me a copy, and we’ll call it properly licensed.

  12. nick says:

    One of the many useful things I learned watching the BBC “historic” Farm series is that when Tudor farmers made their ale (which was the only way to drink water without it squirting out the other end) they simply set a dish of it out in the field to pick up the naturally occurring yeasts. When it started to bubble, you had yeast in it.

    They did the same with bread.

    I was quite surprised by that, having the vague idea that if you didn’t have yeast packets, you had to use a sourdough starter… and that’s all mixed up with some other vague ideas about how bread works.

    I should probably add some bread making skills to the endless list…


    until then, unleavened breads will have to do (tortillas are especially easy.)

  13. Something I learned recently about beets: they have a subtle poison in them, azetidine-2-carboxylic acid, which mimics proline and ends up getting incorporated in proteins, messing up their functionality:

    The level of danger from this is uncertain, but it isn’t an ordinary toxin: once it gets incorporated into your proteins, it’ll take a long time to clear.

  14. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Yeah, yeasts are ubiquitous. The reason we use commercial yeasts is to get specific cultivars of S. cerevisiae that are optimized for particular uses. But in the absence of commercial yeast, it’s never a problem to use environment yeast instead.

  15. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Re: AZE, yes it’s found in small quantities in several varieties of beets, and also in many/most legumes.

  16. MrAtoz says:

    I’m confused about these seeds. Do I eat them raw or put them in soup or sumpin’? This prepping stuff is hard. Can I just live with you, Dr. Bob? 🙂

  17. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    No. I’ll shoot anyone who tries to share our stuff.

    Only kidding. As I’ve been saying forever, if you’re prepping you need to prep for your entire neighborhood. Otherwise, your formerly good neighbors will kill you and take your stuff.

    That’s also why it’s a terrible idea to plan to relocate to an isolated bug-out location. Individuals and small family groups can’t survive in a SHTF environment. You need numbers, which means extended family, friends, and neighbors. If you can’t convince them to prep, which you probably can’t, you’re just going to have to prep for them. Basically, that means storing as much rice, beans, etc. as you have room for. When TSHFT, you’re going to be sharing it. Count on it.

  18. Robert Bruce Thompson says:


    Where did you get the BBC historical farm series? It’s not on Netflix or Amazon streaming. I couldn’t find it on Kickass Torrents.

  19. DadCooks says:

    Edit: Spoke too soon, I assumed the links worked, all lead to dead ends.

    @RBT – I believe I have found a page with the historical series on it:

  20. nick flandrey says:

    @RBT, I watched them on youtube. Since they’re rips, quality varies, especially on the Edwardian Farm, which is very blocky and standard def. Most of the others look good.

    From memory,

    Wartime Farm
    Edwardian Farm
    Victorian Farm
    Tudor Monastery Farm (also has a Christmas ep)

    I don’t know what order they were made, but the list is reverse chronological order (of course).

    The premise is that a historian (Ruth) and 2 guys, variously archeologists, spend a year living in the conditions and doing the things appropriate for the location and time. Every week’s episode covers a month in the year. They do interesting things, that are maybe a little out of the way for any particular farmer, but there is a bunch of good stuff. Of the series, Wartime Farm might stretch the most to make it interesting to Joe Sixpack, but that is mostly in the first couple of eps) Much of it is ‘between the lines’ stuff, or ‘you have to pay attention and think about the implications’ stuff to apply it to prepping.

    I learned something useful or interesting from every episode. There is a lot of lost or unacknowledged history associated with hard times. Maybe it’s because people would like to forget the hardship. I find the presenters interesting and low key, easy to watch, although Ruth’s laugh is a bit grating. Ruth (as the female) runs the household, and does the domestic economy bits, the men run the outdoor stuff, the building stuff, and most of the ‘go somewhere and try something’ stuff.

    A surprising number of their contemporary expert help (farmers) are women. And in the UK there is a surprising number of people dedicated to keeping old breeds, and old techniques alive, not as re-enactors, but as part of their daily life. A lot of the traditional crafts (esp a large number involving sticks and twigs) still have someone doing them hands on. (I find it surprising because, in the grand scheme of things, the UK is neither large, nor especially populous. How big does the population need to be to even have 3 people interested in growing Shropshire sheep? Or red haired cattle?)

    Anyway, recommended.


  21. OFD says:

    “How big does the population need to be to even have 3 people interested in growing Shropshire sheep? Or red haired cattle?)”

    The English are a strange and eccentric people, as I can attest, being mostly English myself, though our family got over here four-hundred years ago. (except for my late maternal Grandpa, who was born in Blackburn, Lancashire, you know, four-thousand holes thereof…) It were best not to mess with them,until recently, I guess, thanks to two world wars that badly decimated their population of young men, and the rise of neo-Marxist metrosexual pols and radfem types who’ve de-balled the survivors. And the great churches and cathedrals of medieval times stand empty or used as museums and hostels for tourists.

    Nevertheless, something of that ancient Anglo-Saxon spirit still exists there and over here and in the other former colonies.

    Overcast today, typical fall, if a little warmer than usual this time of year. We are fiddling with yard stuff and Mrs. OFD is putting pics of her jewelry up on the wunnerful web. I got the fridge and freezer cleaned out yesterday; damn, that takes a lot longer and a bit more elbow grease than one anticipates. Next up, the chest freezer in the cellar.

    Meanwhile studying up on shortwave reception and antennas for all kinds of radios; also reading some interesting bits on the post-industrial economy and looking at my various options for bringing in revenue quickly here, while also grinding away on the prepper/survivalist scenarios and characters for the slowly forming “novel.” Hard to work on some things here while the two of us are trying to ramp up on stuff that needs doing that REQUIRES the two of us to do it.

    I see that the media rumpswabs are reporting, as expected, that Cankles “won” the debate last night, though it were a rampant tissue of lies and obfuscations and evasions, so she is now the Annointed One. Good. Bring it. Let’s see if Mr. and Mrs. Boobus Americanus finally wake the fuck up and realize that the system is a broke-dick dawg and ain’t workin’ no mo. Voting, elections, parties, factions and politicians are a colossal joke on us and the rulers laugh openly now as we drool and slurp over this savior and that one, hoping, finally, a white knight will come galloping in to rescue the whole rotten mess.

    Eight years of that bloodthirsty, lying, grasping, chiseling pig should be a pretty good wake-up call, even in the U.S. of Amnesia. Sanders and Trump were just the usual funny little sideshows before the Main Attraction, when the DNC’s demographics take over in a landslide against some doofus Repub slobbo clown. All scripted, per usual

    Have a nice day.

  22. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’ll grab a torrent and see what Barbara thinks. Apparently, you can’t pay for it. Even the DVDs aren’t available in Region 1.

  23. nick says:

    Yup, I was willing to spend money and did spend a bit of effort to get it legally.

    Missed opportunity for them.

    Hard to believe that I’d never even heard of the series, and it’s been around a while. (I was quite the fan of the BBC for a while. Most of what I watched originated there.) I guess they didn’t think there would be any interest over here.


  24. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’m surprised that Amazon or Netflix hasn’t licensed streaming rights. It’d probably have cost them a buck and a half, and this looks like good long-tail title.

  25. nick says:

    Unlike “reality TV” there is no artificial drama, no interpersonal conflicts, no voting off the island. Just 3 people who seem to genuinely like and respect each other, learning in their field thru hands on practice. Occasionally, you get to see the academic surprised by the reality vs the books and sources they know.

    And it has a lot of ‘slice of life’ details, especially wrt cleaning, personal hygiene, food prep, etc. that you really don’t usually get in the books.


  26. nick says:

    ” good long-tail title.”

    yes, exactly. This is a perfect example. IIRC the Edwardian farm was 2005, probably not going to sell in syndication if it hasn’t yet. Historical, but also ageless content, earning NOTHING at the moment, so why not?

    Post your back catalog people!


  27. Denis says:

    The progenitor of all those BBC “historical farm” docusoaps was the “Victorian Kitchen Garden”. I remember being enthralled watching it with my father in the 1980s. He recalled many of the horticultural methods from his own childhood on a farm in the 1930s. Highly recommended, and the beautiful background clarinet music by Emma Johnson was a treat too. Bits and pieces of the series can be found on YouTube.

  28. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    Barbara just left to meet a couple of her friends for dinner. I was able to get the first two episodes of Tudor Monastery Farm downloaded and burned to a disc, so I asked her if she’d like to take a look at the first episode to see if she was interested. She was dubious because she’s convinced I’m trying to turn her into a farmer, and at this point she’s really not interested even in keeping a small garden. But I said that she’s liked everything else I’ve gotten for her streaming and on disc, and she agreed. So we watched the first 18 minutes of episode one. She really liked it, and told me to go ahead and get the rest.

  29. OFD says:

    I just downloaded the first three eps of the Edwardian Farm series, figuring it’s a wee bit closer to our age, and then I’ll wind my way back to the lovely Tudors…

    Our small garden this season produced a buncha tomatoes and a few pumpkins, plus some herbs. Grape plants are surviving but I don’t think they’ll make it through our winta. Next year more tomatoes and some stuff from Bob’s bag of magic seeds, when we can spring for it, probably this next week.

    We’re still not gonna be able to feed ourselves exclusively from a garden on this shady little plot of land, so I’m looking into other venues, maybe a local village co-op enterprise, like other places have…meatspace is gonna be more important than the net and the younger generations are gonna flip out.

  30. pcb_duffer says:

    [snip] Beer and wine. Both useful and valuable as barter. [snip]

    The half life of unpasteurized beer is very very short, especially in warmer climates. In a post SHTF scenario, how many people are going to have the extra fuel to do that?

  31. nick says:

    Well in Tudor England, they were brewing it fresh and drinking 2 gal/per/day, so it was a large ongoing effort. Leftovers went to animal feed.


  32. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I started with the Tudor Monastery Farm with the idea that the 19th century is far too modern. Everyone seems to assume that we could just jump back to the 1800’s if we needed to, but the infrastructure and equipment isn’t there any more. That’s why I wanted to watch something that assume no industrial capability to speak of.

  33. MrAtoz says:

    I wonder if this lady farmer could help Dr. Bob with his “seed” since she lives in NC.

    Jennifer Saucier – who goes by Farm Girl Jen on YouTube – earns millions of views for her clips, most of which see her doing things like cuddling piglets and chopping wood around in her North Carolina home – while wearing nothing but a skimpy bikini.

  34. MrAtoz says:

    She has nice guns, by the way.

  35. OFD says:

    She’s also known as “Banshee Moon,” and I’ve seen several of her clips; comes across as an airhead but I bet she rakes in the dough. What we used to call “built like a…” you know the rest.

  36. nick says:

    There were several recent articles about people monetizing their u tube channels. Some few folks are making millions.


  37. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    I’ll add that she is not the “Jen” who emails me periodically. At least I’m pretty sure she’s not.

  38. SteveF says:

    How To Brew Beer and Pick Up Chicks in the Zombie Apocalypse

    I really like that title. Good work.

    Thanks for the tips re the BBC farm series. I’ll give them a whirl when things lighten up. (Translation: hahahahaha)

  39. OFD says:

    “I’ll give them a whirl when things lighten up. (Translation: hahahahaha)”


    LOL, even! Hoss laffs! Boffo laffs!

    You rock, man! Fuck programming and writing, do stand-up!

  40. OFD says:

    “To borrow another term from software development, it is becoming clearer and clearer that the American constitutional system simply does not “scale well”. An operating system that worked nicely for a nation of a few millions of self-reliant European Christians occupying a sparsely populated parcel of fertile territory is now looking increasingly brittle and “buggy” at continental, polylingual, and pan-ethnic scale.”

    “If we are able to think clearly and dispassionately about this, we should not expect to find a political solution to what is at bottom a mismatch between our operating system and the hardware we’re now trying to run it on. The nation has simply gotten too big, too heterogeneous, too fractured and fissile in every way, for this increasingly centralized Federal government — indeed, perhaps, for any centralized government — to manage. It is no longer a matter of which side wins this or that election; we must understand that the problem is at a deeper level.”

    “What will happen, I think, is that after a period of further strain and deterioration — lasting, perhaps, another decade or two, but possibly much less than that — the nation will begin to disaggregate, to break apart. If, starting now, we were all to begin to think hard about how to ease this passage, and what sort of arrangement we might like to see on the other side of it, we might spare ourselves, and our children, a great deal of suffering.”

  41. ech says:

    How big does the population need to be to even have 3 people interested in growing Shropshire sheep?

    The UK has programs to keep historic breeds of livestock around and safe. For example, some of the seaweed-eating sheep from the Orkneys have been taken to the mainland to form another colony. The seaweed eating sheep are said to be direct descendants of the sheep there in Neolithic times.

  42. nick says:

    Makes sense from a genetic diversity, DNA bank sort of idea.

    Didn’t know the govnt was involved. Nice work if you can get it 🙂


  43. SteveF says:

    Well, for goodness sake, keep those rare sheep away from Miles_Teg! They’d likely be traumatized by him going where no Australian has gone before.

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