Archive for the ‘desert’ Category

As Alan Weisman demonstrates in The World Without Us, no one really knows what animals will thrive after we pesky humans are gone. I figure if one knows how to deal with a bear then you would hopefully be OK with any other wild animals. The presentation is the result of watching multiple videos on you tube.


 

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I been studying desert trees because The Arizona Desert Botanical Garden is going to have their spring sale on March 18 and 19th, and I want to know what I should get to add to the backyard.

The Velvet Mesquite is the best type of mesquite tree to plant.

Pick the bean (or pod) from June through early August.  There is a tight window because you want the bean to be dry (it should come off the tree easily) but before the monsoons hit.

Milling is a process to pulverize the bean into a protein rick powder similar to flour.   The husks is where the flavor is and the protein is in the hard seed.  Milling is done in fall.  It takes that long for the moisture to get out of the pods.  Store in a manner that the Bruchid beetles inside the pods can hatch and escape.  The Bruchid beetle is harmless.

Desert Harvesters is a great site about harvesting food from Desert trees.

The Arizona Desert Botanical Garden is going to have their spring sale on March 18 and 19th.   I am getting ready by figuring out what plants they will most likely have that would be good to have growing in the backyard for when civilization conks out. 

Thanks to itsadisaster over at the American Preppers Network Forum, I found the great Desert Harvesters website.   Along the left side of the Desert Harvesters site is the list of trees that provide food and also tons of great information.  

I will be looking for..

  • Ironweed
  • Mesquite (already two in the backyard).  The Velvet Mesquite is the best type of mesquite tree to plant.
  • Palo Verde.  The Foothills Palo Verde has better tasking (sweeter) seeds than the Blue Palo Verde.
  • Prickly Pear (good for fruits, but this plant is so easy to find, do I really want to use precious space in the backyard on it?)

 

shots from 4 years ago, trees purchased at last sale I went to.

I have succesully turned Brittlebush and Creosote into medicine.

I have yet to actually try either of the medicines yet. I am a little scarred they might kill me.

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I cut a large hole in the top of two thin rectangular boxes and dried the leaves and stems in the boxes.

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Creosote on top and Brittlebush below.

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I put a paper towel between herbs and cardboard because I am not sure if cardboard would hurt the herbs. Is there some kind of weird die in cardboard?

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Brittlebush after dried.

after crunching

After crunching the plants up in my hands there was a lot less of each. I had not gathered nearly as much as I thought I had.

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Creosote is being stored in the old tuna can and Brittlebush is being stored in the clay pot.

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I had to work last Saturday, which made the last two weeks go long.  I have not been able to do many experiments in the last couple of weeks, so I spent more time doing internet research.    This weekend’s plans include the following:

  • Turn Brittlebush leaves into medicine.   A couple of weekends ago I went for a hike and saw the desert has a ton of brittlebush right now.   I gathered some leaves and have dried them out, so now I think I am supposed to mash them up or something.  While doing research I learned the sap from brittlebush can be used as incense and/or gum, which I think is pretty cool, so next time out I might see how much sap I can gather.

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Brittlebush in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

  • Build a solar still, which will involve digging a wide hole.  One is supposed to dig in a place that would have water in the soil, but as I am doing this in my backyard, I am going to supplement the water still but putting in weeds and sucking the water out of the plants. 
  • Use shadow of stick to figure out which way is west.
  •  

    • Prep for the no grid water for the weekend experiment.
    • Gather water bottles.
    • Gather pine needles for composting toilet.
    • Begin gathering some Creosote Bush stems.  According to Survivorman, one can burn the stems in a fire and the smoke can be used to clean (or rather disinfect) oneself.  The plant makes its own chemicals that make animals and insects not want to eat it, and these same chemicals can be used to disinfect oneself if you don’t have any water.  It is also one of the few desert plants that can be used for toilet paper in a pinch (bad pun intended).     One a side note, the plant is a virtual medicine cabinet for many other uses as well.   Maybe make some tea out of it?  Creosote is so good at repelling harmful stuff, I wonder if it would work on Zombies?

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    Creosote in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

    Update: The cactus seems fine. I went back the next day, and then a week later. I plan to go again this weekend. The plant before looked like it was drying from that branch, but the root looked firm. The overall plant has about 9 spears. At this point, I suspect it will be fine.

    I also learned that the hedgehog I ate had yellow needles because of coyote pee and not because I ate the wrong plant.

    Despite the fact I have yet to even coming close to catching a gopher, much less killing, skinning, cooking and eating one, at some point I am going to have to think about cooking.

    If I lived in the Appalachian’ foothills of my youth then wood would not be a problem.  But here in Phoenix it might be, the desert wants for lack of enough wood for multiple fires.  The wood is good for starting fires, but not good for keeping one burning for hours on end days in a row.

    There would be wood to burn from abandoned buildings, but it might take a while for people to abandoned buildings wholesale, and even if they did, a constant pillage of smoke would advertise you to the roaming pillagers, gangs and exiles.

    So next experiment will be building a solar oven, goal is to boil water, that would be two birds one stone.  And one stone for two birds is a good rule of thumb to follow after Armageddon.

    I am not sure if one can actually boil water in a solar heater, I hear tales of Ray Reeve’s doing experiments with a TV screen, but I plan to try.   From what I read, I need 5 walls of tinfoil, a glass wall, a door to go in and  out, and some way to hold the pot.

    In the meantime, anybody got some black sheets of metal I can have for the stove?