Green Thumbs Up!

The crack of the matter is…

Are you ready for an earthquake? Are you ready for when the big one hits? It’s coming to southern California, that’s a guarantee. San Andreas fault. Are you ready? I am going to help you get ready for an earthquake by sharing what I will need for a kit. Everyone’s will be different but run along the same lines.

First let’s talk about earthquakes. An earthquake is when the earth shakes and it happens all the time, you don’t feel them usually. Why do they happen? Pressure builds up along fault lines, sometimes the pressure gets released. When the pressure gets released the energy flows thru the planet and shaking begins. A fault line is a crack in the earth. There are active fault lines all over California. Thats where you get the San Andreas fault line, it’s there and it’s scary.

The Ridgecrest earthquake hit with a magnitude of 6.4, the big one will be 11 times stronger than that! San Andreas fault will be 7.8 or higher. 1,800 fires could ignite after the quake with 1,600 being big. Many of them will grow and move to make even bigger fires.

According to inventor, Kerry Sieh big quakes like this happen on the southern San Andreas fault every 45 to 230 years. It’s been 161 years since we had one. We are not far off that 230 year mark and it could happen anytime. It will happen the San Andreas fault it’s a guarantee. Let that explode in your mind!

What do you do when an earthquake hits? STOP!!!!!!! Do not run. Outside is usually more dangerous than in. DROP, get down on the ground before you fall down and get hurt. TAKE COVER, get under something to protect your head and neck.. HOLD ON, things could get rough, stay there. Do not get in a doorway.

How do you check on loved ones? The fastest and easiest is to reach by text. If you have wireless, you can check in on facebook’s crisis response feature. Can you just leave town? Yes, if you have money, gas and you have a safe road to travel. Though this usually can not happen. Most roads are gone and you do not know what lies ahead, it could be worse. Better to stay put.

What are the dangerous of staying? FIRES, according to report 1,800 fires could ignite after the quake. WATER SUPPLY, contaminated and VIOLENCE, looting and violent crime usually happen.

The community asked what should we have prepared? Earthquake expert Lucy Jones laughed, because the idea that everything you need will fit in one bag is crazy.

Who will help us? Strangers help with the most compassion right after the event. Eventually FEMA will come.

What else can you possibly have to deal with? Bills! What? A major earthquake and your talking about bills? Yep, mortgage will still be due. Car payments and loans.

Another important thing to keep in mind is to have your documents safe. Keep deeds, titles, insurance, birth certificates and social security cards in a fireproof box.

Ok, enough depression. Let’s talk about what you will need. Each family is different, with different needs and problems. This is a guide for what I will need to get my family through. It will fit most of your families. This will cover 10 people, so there’s a lot!

You need a bag for each person ready to go!

1 gallon of drinking water per person to last three days, so I need 10 gallons of drinking water

A bag for each person containing:

a couple flashlights and led lights

Three days of imperishable food. Canned and dried items. Pantry items

a dust mask

box of moist towelettes for cleaning, hygiene

pliers can be for so many uses

cell phone with chargers and backup batteries. I can buy a bunch of burner phones for this

our prescription meds, very important

kids medicine such as motrin, benadryl and allergy pills

kleenex box for daughter

Our glasses along with backup glasses, you don’t want to be blind that could be horrific

cash, everyone should have a little bit to spread it around. Do not keep it all in one bag

Sleeping bag or warm blanket


complete change of clothes for a cooler temp. To stay warm at night or if your clothes are ruined

two rolls of toilet paper

a pillow or something soft for my back

matches in waterproof container

feminine supplies, could also be used as bandages, filters

mess kits, like camping. Metal bowl with lid you can cook and eat out of these and they include silverware and a cup, all metal. The mess kit could also serve many purposes. Boiling water, carrying water. Bowls to collect berries and nuts if need be

my daughters back up blankie

toothbrushes and toothpaste

hair ties

backup pair of shoes and lots of socks, socks can be used for so many things. To keep our feet dry and warm. As well as water filter, bandages and to carry little things if you are out foraging

dog food, bones or something for entertainment and water for both dogs for three days

a towel for drying, lying on, changing, additional warmth

bandana to keep hair back, to signal for help

Things to have for all to use:

hand crank radio or battery with extra batteries

a couple first aid kits

plastic sheeting, which can be used for a number of things. 8 large sheets should be enough

duct tape, what can’t you do with duct tape? I am bringing several

2 boxes of garbage bags, which you can also use to carry if something gets broken, can be torn apart to help with more shelter , so many uses

tums, pain medicine

a couple of manual can openers

paper maps

Things to trade for supplies we might of forgot. Extra batteries, extra can openers, extra garbage bags


A couple very sharp knives. For cutting things we need to form shelters, cutting food and to protect ourselves in case

paper, pens

books, puzzles, notebooks, cards and crayons for the kids

led lights

leather gloves

These are the things my family would need to get through. Take some time read thru the list. It might fit your family to. I add or take away from my kit as my needs change every year.

Now we have doove in to what earthquakes are, the San Andreas Fault and what I will need for supplies, that cracks it up!

by Arwen Champion-Nicks, Misha Euceph and Mary Knauf

Green Thumbs Up!

Wild Fire Preparation

Natural disasters are devastating for everyone. Wild fires can destroy homes, jobs, and lives. Most of the time it leads to a blind panic over lives, valuables and essentials. Things such as preparation kits can be very helpful during this time. Most of the time you can pack them and forget about them until they are needed. Please keep in mind this is a guideline for 1 kit per person. Personally based on my 2 person family, I am preparing 3 kits. 1 for me, 1 for my spouse, and 1 for our beloved pets.

Okay, let’s take this one step at a time. Keep a level head. This is a fairly simple kit to prepare. For weight purposes, I would suggest one kit per family member. This just makes it lighter to carry and also helped with conservation and portioning of the supplies. Please keep in mind this is just a guide line to use. Your kits can change based on personal and family needs. Also, these kits are for more than just wild fires. They can be used for most emergency evacuation situations.

With most evacuation you want at least two routes to evacuate and get to a safe meeting place. It is best to have these marked on a map. One map per kit just in case you get separated. It is good to make sure you and your family have a meeting place and if children are involved a “safe word”. This is a word to give to emergency services to say “this stranger is safe”. Sometimes families have 2 safe words. One says “This stranger is safe” and the other says “Your family is safe and I will take you to them”.

Let’s start with the basics in your kit. We all have those canned goods in the back of our cabinet that we keep for the “uh-oh” situations. A very important thing to keep in your emergency kit is three days worth of non-perishable food and three gallons of water per person. Canned goods do have expiration dates however they do take a while to get to that date. Generally you want this food to have at least some nutritional value to them. My kits are being formed as I write this article and the packs will change with each family member. For water, you can get cheap gallon jugs of water from your local big box store.

Typically you don’t need huge portions. Personally for our kits, I picked cheap foods and cans that had been in the back of the cabinet for a questionable amount of time.

Okay, so now that we won’t be weak from lack of nutrition or dehydration. Let’s talk about the other big elephant in the room. Many people don’t think about this. Prescriptions, specialty medications, and eyewear. We all generally have a place in our home to store our medications, spare glasses, and other things needed for our health. If possible, ask for an extra refill so you can pack it away. However, if your doctor does not allow this or your medications have expiration dates, keep all of these things close together and keep a travel bag big enough for all of them near by. If you or a loved one has any sort of conditions, this could be a big life or death thing you can’t afford to forget.

VERY IMPORTANT! In your emergency kit, fill a ziplock bag with the credentials and such you may need. This bag is a good place to store back up bank and credit cards, cash, extra car keys, and traveler checks. In a second bag pack copies of you vital records and identification. This second bag should include a copy of your birth certificate, social security card, passport, drivers license, and any other important documents. These will come in handy for insurance policies, missing persons, and much more. This are very important.

No one wants to stink. Showers most likely will not be available when your in the middle of an evacuation. However, hygiene stuff and a spare change of clothes. For my family of two I have packed the following:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Shampoo and conditioner
  • Body wash
  • 3 or more changes of underwear
  • Sweatpants (one pair for each of us)
  • Gym shorts (one pair for each of us)
  • 2 shirts (two for each of us)
  • Socks ( four pairs for each of us)
  • 2 pairs of shoes (two for each of us in case one pair breaks)

When you start to panic people tend to be less cautious. In your emergency kit you should also have a basic first aide kit. You can purchase a kit or create your own based on your needs. Most important is bandages, antibiotic cream, and ibuprofen. Store brought kits do tend to be cheaper in the long run and have much more than you would usually need in them. My first aide kits include emergency blankets and other things typically found in a vehicle emergency kit such as flares, caution triangles, tow rope, and more.

Don’t lose communication. Keep a flashlight with batteries in your kit. Along with a battery powered radio. If you are able to locate the flashlights that are shaken for power, those are not as bright but are still effective. Extra batteries are a must. Please check the storage recommendations on the packaging to ensure you don’t have corrosive batteries or other chances of contamination. These will be very important in keeping you up to date with local authorities.

Don’t forget our animal family! Make sure you have a small go bag packed for your the pets. This to should include at least 3 days of food, 3 gallons of water per pet, leash, vet papers, tags, and possibly a comfort item such as a favorite toy or blanket.

Image curtesy of my mother. This is the constant “go-bag” she has for her emotional support dog. My pets bag is not created yet.

If time allows, you can grab other valuable things such as jewelry. Family photos are irreplaceable most of the time. If you have time, grab what you can. Personal computer information and hard drives or disks are another thing to grab if you have time. Along with chargers for your cell phone and other devices. Personally, I have taken to scanning all family photos to a usb drive with the intention of having copies of them in my emergency kit. A usb drive is how I have copies of all personal paperwork, documentation copies, and family photos. However, technology is not always available. I am still keeping paper copies of the most important paperwork in my emergency kit.

Sources: , my mother, grandmother, and great aunt

Green Thumbs Up!

Baby, it’s getting cold outside.

When it comes to gardening and using your green thumb, some people seem to just have ‘it’ and some don’t. Growing up I remember my great-grandfather, a several generations farmer, would always take a nice long walk through his fields and then through his personal garden that he and my great-grandmother had. He talked to his plants as if they spoke back to him. Being so young, I often thought they could. He taught me several tricks for gardening that I have kept with me through the years, and have often come in handy when I grown anything for myself. Where I am from in Northeastern Arkansas we had to prepare our plants to withstand, at times, severally dry summers and bitter cold winters. Although most of the tricks I learned can be used universally all over the United States, some regions face more extremes when it comes to weather. For instance the Northeastern part of the United States (from Pennsylvania and West Virginia all the way up to the Canadian border along the Atlantic.) experience even more intense winters with higher snowfall, more frozen precipitation and severe weather conditions carried inland from the Atlantic.

Ideally to weatherproof your garden you will sit and take the time to research your zones climate, ideal foliage and crops and create a garden system that gives you the best upper hand for year round climate changes. The easiest way to give yourself the best chances is to invest in your garden. With strategic planning you could weatherproof your garden to be relatively low maintenance and able to be sustainable year round, despite initial costs. Underground greenhouses give the best protection from most any elements, no matter what region you may be in. If you are able to install an underground green house you would want to start by choosing the best location to put it. Likely in a slight hillside or terrain incline, making it both easier to install and more resilient. With an underground greenhouse installment you can give a more stable temperature with more insulation. Once you have an ideal location for your greenhouse you would then want to find a way to give it more structure, like digging out enough space to put up a frame in the ground to support to proposed roof for your greenhouse, and with enough planning you can use your roof and it’s natural slope to collect rainwater to store for your plants when rain seems to be neigh, as well as, being more cost effective when it comes to watering your plants. From there, the installation of your greenhouse, you can decide the best places for whichever plants or crops you intend to grow. A ‘green wall’ of herbs or small plants can allow for space saving as well as a beautiful feature. With an underground greenhouse your plants can still receive plenty of sunlight and with adequate features you can also install lights, heat and air, that also depends on what you’re willing to spend. From there most things will be able to be planned accordingly based on what you might grow, although the first chore of finding an ideal location for your greenhouse is the most important to avoid flooding, and damage from elements impacting on your greenhouse. Having your greenhouse in the ground also helps to protect your plants from wind. However, if you cannot afford for a costly installment like an underground greenhouse, especially in the Northeast, there are several other routes to take that can help you to weatherproof your garden. If you have plants that are in containers, like a tree or large plant that is still immature you can give it an advantage of moving it to an above ground assembled greenhouse or by insulating the container it is in by packing mulch around the container. If you have more than one, or several containers, you can find a location that is typically out of the path of wind like along side a house or building. You could also build a small raised bed structure and place all of your plants that are in containers inside of the raised bed and insulate with sand and mulch around them tightly. For plants that aren’t in containers can be protected by what I like to call layering. You can plant stronger trees or foliage as a somewhat barrier for smaller and more vulnerable plants to protect them from the elements. When planting it can help to prepare for anything, starting with the plants you choose. Some plants grow better in different environments and growing plants that are more frail to colder temperatures wouldn’t be ideal to grown in the Northeast and would likely die at the first signs of chill unless given proper care and advantages.

For garden plants that are grown in raised beds or in the ground face some advantages as well as their disadvantages. Raised beds are ideal if you want to get an early start to the growing season because the soil in raised beds warms faster than the soil in the ground, but in the same hand the soil is able to cool faster closer to fall which can mean bad news for plants inside of them. For both grown in raised bed and in soil plants there are several ways to help guard your plants from an early death when fall comes around. Layering the soil with mulch can help to insulate plants and their roots, giving them more longevity throughout the fall. Also combining recycling with gardening you can use larger recycled containers like milk jugs, 5 gallon buckets and other larger items weighted and placed over more delicate plants can protect them from heavy wind, rain and also create more of a micro-climate for your plant, giving it even more protection from the elements.

There are several ways to give yourself an upper hand and prolong your growing season, or even give you the advantage of year round growing and knowledge is key to having everything you can to have to most success.


Green Thumbs Up!

Dormant Northwest, how to keep your plants alive during the winter.

   There’s no place quite like America’s Northwest, equipped with unbelievable views of Mountains, an array of Wildlife, Numerous Islands, Forest Terrain and Waterways that lead straight to the open ocean; The Northwest Territory is a dream.  


  The Northwest also has an impressive plant community with a wide range of large conifers, trees, shrubs and groundcovers as understory plants. 

   However the behavior of these plants vary depending on amount of sunlight and moisture. For instance, in places where the soil is well drained and south-facing, or in open canopy sunny conditions, you will find plants more tolerant of dry conditions. Many of these plants will grow in mixed deciduous Forest condition as well.

   Depending on the location, when fall arises most plants generally begin to conserve any stored water it has left in it and become inactive or Dormant, to preserve its life cycle during the Winter. 

  Dormancy is a natural response to adverse conditions during the cold winter months; in which plants are extremely vulnerable and may need assistance to survive.

   Below are a few gardening tips that will help you care for your garden in the Northwest Winters.

Cited directly from; 

1.) Clean up rotting and finished plants. Old plants can harbor disease, pests, and funguses. Removing spent plants from the soil surface or burying them in garden trenches (if they are disease-free) prevents pests from destroying your garden; also burying old plants in your garden adds organic matter to your soil, essential improving soil tilth and overall health.

2.) Remove invasive weeds that may have taken hold over the growing season; most invasive weeds remain viable in a compost heap or weed pile, so resist the urge to simply shift them to another part of your garden. Removing invasive plants completely is the only way to prevent those plants from sprouting all over again and disrupting next year’s crop.

3.) Prepare your soil for spring. Despite the fact that most people reserve this activity for the spring, fall is a great time to dig in soil amendments like manure, compost, bone meal, kelp, and rock phosphate. In most climates, adding nutrients at this time of year means the additions have time to start breaking down, enriching your soil, and becoming biologically active. It also means you won’t have to wait until your garden dries out in the spring to work the soil for the first time. Amending, turning, or digging soil now means you’ll have already done some of the work when the busy season hits. Similarly, a fall tilling (if you till your soil in the first place) helps improve drainage before extreme weather becomes a reality.

   Once you’ve added any amendments in fall, you can cover the bed with sheet plastic or other covering to prevent winter rains from washing the amendments below the active root zone; this applies especially to raised beds since they drain more readily than in-ground beds. Remove the sheeting in early spring and till lightly with a hoe in advance of spring planting.

4.) Plant cover crops. In many climates, late summer or early fall is a good time to sow cover crops like rye, vetch or clover. These crops help prevent soil erosion, break up compacted areas and increase levels of organic matter in garden beds. Cover crops also add nutrients. Planting legumes in your garden such as clover or field peas can increase the levels of available nitrogen for garden vegetables. While a general guideline is to plant cover crops approximately one month before your first killing frost, some cover crops are hardier than others. Consult your local extension agent or seed provider to identify the best fall cover crop for your region.

5.) Prune perennials. Fall is a good time to trim some perennial garden plants, though take care to ensure you choose the right ones. Although plants like fennel benefit from a fall pruning, research shows that spent raspberry canes continue to nourish the plant’s crown into the winter. Blueberries also prefer a spring pruning, which helps safeguard the plant from exposure to disease and stress. Focus fall pruning efforts on herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage; and vegetables like asparagus and rhubarb. Blackberries also benefit from a fall clean up. Remove spent or crossing canes to help control the plant’s vigorous spread.

6.) Divide and plant bulbs, Although spring bulbs have long since flowered and died back, other flowering bulbs like lilies bloomed more recently. Three to four weeks after that glorious array, it’s time to dig up and divide any plants that appeared crowded or straggly during the growing season. For spring bulbs, this might mean some guesswork to determine location. Other plants will be more obvious. Dig 4-8 inches away from the plant’s growing stalk, carefully loosening the soil. Lift bulbs gently and separate bulblets for immediate transplanting elsewhere in the garden.

  If you previously dug up your spring bulbs for dividing, now is the time to plant them again. Daffodils, tulips and crocuses are all ready to go back into the soil for another year’s display.

7.) Harvest and regenerate your compost. Now that the heat of summer is over and nature’s microbes are settling in for their winter’s nap, you may be tempted to ignore your compost heap. This would be a missed opportunity in two ways. First, material composted over the summer is probably finished and ready to go. Using this rich material to top up garden beds, amend deficient soils, or fertilize lawns and landscaping will nourish your soil and jumpstart growth come springtime. Second, cleaning out finished compost means making way for another batch, which—in most areas—can be insulated against winter’s chill. To keep those microbes working a little bit longer, build your fall compost heap with plenty of autumn leaves, straw, or sawdust layered with kitchen scraps and other active, green matter. For more information, read our article about successful winter composting. You can also find the basics of composting in this article.

8.) Replenish mulch; Mulching in winter has many of the same benefits as summer mulching. These include reducing water loss, protecting the soil from erosion, and inhibiting weeds. But winter mulching has other benefits as well: as the soil transitions to colder weather, the freezing and thawing of the earth can adversely affect garden plants, whose roots suffer from all that churning and heaving. Adding a thick layer of mulch to the soil surface helps regulate soil temperatures and moisture and ease the transition into winter. A thick layer of mulch around root vegetables left in the garden for your fall and winter harvest can also buffer against hard frosts and prolong your crop. And as the mulch breaks down it incorporates fresh organic material into your soil.

9.) Review the cultivars in your garden and assess your growing season. Now is the time to reconsider under-performing plants and find out if a better variety exists for your location. If your plants are performing adequately, consider extending your harvest by adding varieties that ripen earlier or later in the season. When considering vegetable performance, take careful notes for next season about what worked and what didn’t. Some of the season’s successes and failures can be chalked up to weather, but others are within your control. These include soil fertility, moisture levels, and plant placement. Although you might think you’ll remember the highs and lows of summer come springtime, recording a short list of lessons learned now will provide more information in the end.

10.) Clean and sharpen tools, Although most gardeners know they should keep tools clean and well oiled throughout the year, its difficult to keep up with this task when gardening is in full swing. Fall is a great time to rejuvenate your tools’ lifespan by giving them some attention. Begin by washing tools to remove dirt and debris. If rust is present, remove with sandpaper or a wire brush. Sharpen hoes and shovels with a basic mill file. A whetstone works well for pruners. Finally, rub the surfaces of your tools with an oiled rag coated in light machine oil. This will help seal the metal from oxygen and extend your tools’ lives for another year.

   Wherever you live, there are always steps you can take to prepare for next year’s gardening season. Taken now, these steps will not only help your spring and summer run more smoothly, they can also improve your yields over the long term.








6.) (map of NW picture)


Green Thumbs Up!

Tornado Alley Winter

This region is called tornado alley for a reason. This infamous area makes gardening a new level of difficulty. The most intense area covers Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, eastern Colorado, and South Dakota. Some other states are still in Tornado Alley but are less intense. These states are Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

Image via google maps

With winter weather fast approaching, everyone wants to winterize their gardens to try to make the next year a little easier. Winter in tornado alley is very tricky. Winter tornadoes are subject to being particularly deadly. Not because they are stronger, but they do tend to move faster. These cold weather tornadoes are more often then not associated with strong frontal systems that form in the central states and make their way east. This is according to the National Severe Storms Laboratory.

After talking with some family in the area; I learned a lot about if and how to winterize your garden. Due to the constant threat of tornadoes, you can take some precautions. However, some precautions are practically useless if or when a tornado strikes.

In tornado alley you pretty much follow the same winterizing technics as other areas. You need to cut, chop, and clean your bushes. Make sure to “dead head” your flowering bushes to allow for new blooms to come through.

Another big step is to remove the invasive plants and weeds so they don’t take over next year. Make sure to get any and all weeds. If you have an invasive plant like mint, it would be good to uproot and pot what you want for next year. However, get rid of the excess. Some of the more invasive plants will go dormant but take over your garden the next year.

At least 6 weeks before the ground freezes, divide your perennials. If you have plants that have “bald spots” they are good to get rid of. Also plants that haven’t blooms. Divide the ones that just seem to be at the end of their life. This will assist in the process next year.

Another great technic is to give your bulbs some much needed love. Dig up and store the more tender bulbs that might not survive the freeze. Some of these types of bulbs are dahlias and cannas. Drying them out in newspaper for a few weeks and then put them in a container and cover them with sawdust, sand, perlite or vermiculite until they’re ready to be replanted is a good way to save your plants. When a hard freeze is predicted, adding an extra layer of mulch to the hardy bulbs you’ve left in the ground can sometimes help.

After dividing your plants, dead-heading, and pulling some of the bulbs; you should show your flower beds some love. Add approximately 3 to 4 inches of compost to the beds. Nutrients from the compost will seep into the bed over the winter and the thawing season. In the spring you can turn the compost into the soil for some extra help.

Spread mulch! Seriously, spread mulch. This is extremely important for perennials that haven’t had time to root fully. If possible, wait for the ground to start to freeze then add a nice thick layer of mulch on top. The mulch will help keep the ground consistently cold or frozen until spring. Failure to do this can result in the ground heaving and possibly uprooting new plants. Check the mulch in January or February to see if it has thinned due to winter stressors such as wind and thawing snow. You can always add more mulch as needed.

Picture courtesy of aslip nursery

Evergreens need to be well hydrated. If autumn has been particularly dry then your evergreens need a deep soak. Evergreens, such as yews, and broadleaf evergreens, such as hollies and boxwoods, are susceptible to winter burn because they release moisture through their leaves through out the year. Pay extra attention to broadleaf types that have a south or southwest exposure to the afternoon sun, and give them extra water if needed.

Wrap your trees. This sounds funny but according to my landscaping friends this is really a thing. Newly planted trees (especially fruit trees) have thin bark. They can suffer from sun scald or crack from fluctuating day/night temperatures. Apparently, there are things such as tree wrap tape and plastic spiral tree protectors that can help prevent this problem.

Now, this is another one I didn’t know until I talked to my landscaping friends. Create a wind break. Exposed evergreens are susceptible to wind burn. In the fall before the ground begins to freeze, place 3 to 5 stakes on the side of your plants that will get the most wind. Putting the stakes in a “v” formation with the front stake facing windward. Once this is done wrap them in something such as burlap. This will effectively reduce the amount of cold wind that hits your evergreens. You don’t need to wrap the whole plant just the “v” you created in the ground.

Got shrubs? Tender shrubs can be wrapped in a material such as burlap to help protect them during hard or prolonged freezes. However, this wrap will need removed during warmer days and warmer weather to prevent overheating the plant. Another option is to create a “teepee” type design over the plant with some agricultural fabric. This will help with winter burn, drowning in snow, winter winds and more.

Hope these tips and tricks help! Have a safe and happy winter all!

Sources: friends and family in the landscaping business. Thank you to Steve, Jeremy, Jake, and Bernard. Also a huge thank you to my family Teresa, Debbie, Danell, and David.