3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold


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3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold | Shelter and protect your plants from the cold with these 3 ideas for keeping plants and seedlings warmI don’t know about you, but we’ve been dealing with some pretty crazy weather up here in the Pacific Northwest. For starters, we had one of the coldest, snowiest winters I’ve ever seen on the west coast. And it seemed to go on forever! We finally had our last snowfall sometime in late March and the first signs of spring began to show themselves. The promise of better days was here at last! Or so we thought. 

Fast forward to today; It’s now mid-June and it is feeling more like early spring (or mid-fall) around here. Granted, we have had a few hot and sunny days and we’re definitely past our last frost, but it’s grey and rainy and definitely sweater weather. 

Yesterday I was scrolling through old photos on my phone when I came across a picture I took last May of our garden in all its glory with veggies already ripe for the picking. Contrast that with a glimpse of our garden today and you’d be forgiven for assuming today’s picture was taken much earlier in the season than last year’s. A few plants are well on their way, but over all everything is behind schedule by about a month or so.

I’m honestly beginning to wonder if summer will ever arrive. As I write this, the wind is howling and the rain is steadily coming down outside. I’m not gonna lie: The thought of a cool, grey summer followed by another winter like last one fills me with despair. And the thought of a shorter growing season just adds to the pain.

It’s been a rough start to the growing season, to say the least. And it’s all related to the weather. We lost most of our early spring crops because the seeds and seedling roots were either eaten by wireworms (a pest that has thrived here this year, likely due to cooler spring temps), or they were tilled up in our mad effort to rid our garden of the pests. 

Couple that with a chilly spring that has pushed back planting and transplanting dates for most veggies by at least a couple weeks, and I’m feeling like we’re definitely behind on our food production so far this year.

3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold | Shelter and protect your plants from the cold with these 3 ideas for keeping plants and seedlings warm

Left: Our garden in May of last year. / Right Our garden this year (mid-June). The unseasonably cool temperatures have put us about a month behind in our growing season.

The good news is, we are not currently on water restrictions dealing with drought conditions. Everything is still very green and the cooler temperatures have been good for some plants that were already dying off because of the heat or preparing to bolt (go to seed) around this time last year. My peas are looking phenomenal and the broccoli is weathering the, um, weather, fairly well! But some of my heat-loving plants are struggling to survive out there.

I went to check on the garden yesterday evening before the rains arrived, and I noticed that two of my cucumber transplants had died off already. I only transplanted them a few days ago and I’ve now lost two out of the nine that I planted. Despite the late spring, it’s getting to be a little late in the season to keep starting new seeds, so I know I need to be careful not to lose anymore if I can help it.

I double-checked the soil for signs of wireworms who had potentially eaten the seedling roots, but I didn’t find any. The only reason I could think of to explain why the seedling had simply keeled over and died was the weather. Despite the fact that it’s mid-June, it’s just too cold and volatile for some of my more tender plants and seedlings out there!

I knew I had to work fast to save the remaining seedlings from the oncoming storm, but I wasn’t sure there was much that could be done at the 11th hour. Then Ryan, my husband, suggested I put clear plastic cups overtop of each seedling to help shelter it from the elements. Bingo!

I just so happened to have some clear plastic cups stashed away in our pantry, so I set to work covering each one of my cucumber seedlings and a couple of my pole bean seedlings that are just starting out. If there’s one thing I’ve really learned about starting plants from seed and keeping them alive through the seedling stage until they are big, strong and healthy enough to withstand most of what life throw’s at them out there, it’s that the process is much like caring for children. Seedlings need lots of TLC. They need to be tended to daily, they need just the right amount of warmth, water and light, and they need extra care and protection to keep them safe from anything that threatens them.

It’s yet to be seen how my little seedlings will fare under the protective dome of the plastic cups, but in theory this should protect them and save me from having to restart all of my cucumbers from seed again, further delaying the growing season. Aside from some plants we grew in our greenhouse last year, I haven’t really had to deal with protecting my plants from the cold yet. But I’m learning that as the climate (and hence the weather) becomes more and more unpredictable, gardeners especially need to be prepared for anything if we are going to be successful in raising strong, healthy, high-yielding crops.

3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold | Shelter and protect your plants from the cold with these 3 ideas for keeping plants and seedlings warm

When it comes to shielding plants and seedlings from the elements, there are several methods and tools you can use to protect your plants from the cold. The method you choose will depend on the plant and its stage of life, including whether you are growing it in a container or in the ground, as well as the resources you have to work with. You can apply these methods whether you are dealing with a long cool spring like me, you’re wanting to extend your growing season later into the fall, or you’re looking to get a jump on the growing season by getting your plants started nice and early. Here are your options:

 

1. Move Your Plants Indoors

Whether you’re just starting your seeds or you’re dealing with some nasty weather, temporarily starting or moving your plants indoors can help you get an early start on the growing season and can help protect tender new seedlings and heat-loving plants from the cold. 

3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold | Shelter and protect your plants from the cold with these 3 ideas for keeping plants and seedlings warm

This method works for new seeds and seedlings as well as mature plants that are being grown in containers or have not yet been transplanted into the ground. Transplanting can shock and kill plants, so avoid digging them up and replanting them as much as possible. Once they are in the ground, leave them there unless you feel you have no other choice. Case in point: we transplanted our broccoli seedlings into the ground in May and lost one due to wireworms in our soil. To avoid losing the rest, I dug them up and planted them in containers until we had our pest problem under control. The remaining plants are looking great now! But normally I wouldn’t have risked digging them up again.

Changes in temperature can also shock plants and kill them, so make sure you harden plants off before bringing them outdoors for the first time. Hardening off simply means that you’re toughening them up to be able to withstand the elements outdoors. Bring them outside for a few hours each day to start and bring them back in at night when temperatures drop. This helps prepare them for life outdoors. After a few days you can bring them outside for good. 

Likewise, if you’re bringing plants back indoors, beware of the temperature variation. Make sure you don’t put your plants that have become accustomed to outdoor temperatures in too warm of a location indoors as this could be too much for them to handle.

If possible, place plants in a south-facing window or under grow lights indoors so that their leaves get the light they need to grow. You can also help prepare them for life outdoors by gently brushing your hand over the top of seedlings. This helps mimic the motion of wind blowing over them, and helps train the stems of plants to grow strong to withstand the winds.

 

2. Build a Greenhouse/Hoop House

A greenhouse is a great way to protect plants from the cold and extend your growing season. In milder climates, it’s even possible to grow food year-round inside. The design and materials used in construction allow greenhouses to trap and store heat so that when temperatures drop, the greenhouse stays nice and warm. 

Greenhouses can be used to start seedlings, grow heat-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers and basil, and to extend the growing season into the fall and even the winter. The downside is that they can be expensive to build and they are permanent structures, meaning you can’t move plants into a greenhouse if they are already planted in the ground. Enter the hoop house…

3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold | Shelter and protect your plants from the cold with these 3 ideas for keeping plants and seedlings warm

Hoop houses are often confused with greenhouses because they look similar and serve much the same purpose. Greenhouses tend to have a triangular, pointed roof, are built with heavy materials like metal and wooden frames and even glass, and sit on a solid foundation or are built as a permanent structure. Hoop houses, however, are rounded and dome-shaped, are built with lighter materials like PVC pipe and clear plastic covering, and can be moved easily and/or built right over top of your in-ground plants.

Hoop houses tend to be more affordable than greenhouses because the materials used to make them are less expensive, plus they are moveable, meaning you can place them over any section of your garden to protect your plants without having to move them or transplant them. The downside to a hoop house is that it’s just not quite as durable and strong and the design may collapse in winter under heavy snowfall, so it’s not as ideal for year-round growing.

For instructions on how to build a hoop house, check out the following article from Mother Earth News.

If you’re not so good with construction and DIY projects, you can purchase greenhouse and hoop house sets. Here is a simple greenhouse that also allows you to collect rainwater in the rain gutters to water your plants with. Or you can buy this hoop house kit for less than $50 to help protect your in-ground plants from the cold.

 

3. Use Cold Frames & Cloches

Another option for keeping plants warm and sheltered is the use of cold frames in the garden. Cold frames are essentially just mini greenhouses that you can place on top of individual or small clusters of plants to protect them. They typically have a slightly angled top cover that should be placed over top of plants facing south in order to maximize the heat and light from the sun, and some pre-built frames like this one have hinged tops so that they can be easily opened to let fresh air in and allow heat to escape in warmer weather. 

Cloches are similar to cold frames, but on an even smaller scale. A cloche is simply a bell-shaped “jar” that can be placed over individual plants temporarily to help shelter them. Typically cloches are made of glass, but they can be plastic a well. Either material will work as long as they are clear to allow sunlight to enter. 

3 Ways to Protect Your Plants from the Cold | Shelter and protect your plants from the cold with these 3 ideas for keeping plants and seedlings warm

The plastic cups that I used overtop of my cucumber seedlings act as mini cloches, like miniature greenhouses for each individual seedling. The cups work great in my case because my seedlings are still small enough to fit underneath, but any bigger and I would need a bigger cloche or cold frame. You could use a larger jar such as a quart-sized Mason Jar, vase or even cut a plastic bottle or milk jug in half and use that to cover plants. You can also purchase packs of plastic cloches like these ones, or if you want to be really fancy, you can go for a nice glass cloche like this one, which can also be used as a terrarium cover or as a decor piece when not in use in the garden.

Luckily there are things you can do to protect your plants from the cold and ensure a successful growing season despite the crazy, unpredictable weather. The more resourceful you are, the more options and designs you will probably come up with, and it’s very possible to work with materials you can probably find around your home and homestead. Or you can easily purchase what you need and rest easy knowing it is a sound investment in your garden and, in the end, in ensuring your food supply. 

If you have any other tips or methods you use for protecting your plants from the wind, rain and cold, please let me know by commenting below! Stay warm and protect those seedlings!

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2 Comments

  1. Michelle Lewis

    I would like to add a hoopcover for my raised beds for next year…

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Me too! That would be a lot easier than using plastic cups! But hey, homesteaders make do, right? We have a greenhouse too but have a major weed invasion in there. We’re going to try growing some plants in there despite the weeds and see how they do. We’ve got horse tail which is pretty impossible to control.

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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The world is changing faster than ever.

We’ve barely had time to adapt to the “new normal” and still things are continuing to shift, change, and in some cases spiral more each day.

From rising inflation and persistent supply chain issues, to a looming recession and food shortages that are expected to get worse after a very tough farming year, to a war on European soil and the threat of cyber attacks and (God forbid) a nuclear attack, to the future of digital IDs and increasingly pervasive government control over every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder more people are looking for ways to escape the matrix and “opt out” of the system.

I consider myself an optimistic realist: I hope for the best and I live fully and freely in the moment, but I prepare for the future accordingly based on what I can see unfolding in our world. And honestly, I find this “sweet spot” to be incredibly empowering.

This is why I do what I do and why I share it with you on a regular basis; I WANT TO EMPOWER YOU TOO!

That’s why I created The Society of Self-Reliance: A private membership that connects you with the resources, support and community you need to reclaim your independence and become more self-reliant in every aspect of your life.

From growing and preserving your own food to crafting and using herbal medicine to life skills like how to manage it all and stay calm in stressful situations, how to prepare for emergency situations and much more, if you’re ready to learn invaluable skills that will help you take control of your family’s food security, health and wellbeing, time, finances, and ultimately over your own future, The Society of Self-Reliance was created for you!

I’m excited to announce that I’ll be reopening the Society doors for a limited time starting next week, and wanted to give you the heads up NOW so that you can get on the waitlist and make sure you don’t miss out when enrollment opens.

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All you need is some puréed pumpkin (I make mine with fresh pumpkins, but you can use canned), some brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, allspice and ginger, a splash of vanilla extract and some water.

Bring everything to a boil and then simmer and reduce. Strain into a bottle or Mason jar and store in the fridge for up to a week or so.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of this syrup to your coffee or homemade latte for a better quality, better tasting PSL for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay at a coffee shop.

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In the latest issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with Ann Accetta-Scott of @afarmgirlinthemaking to talk all about what people need to know about buying and selling a homestead property.

Ann and her husband Justin recently moved from their two-acre homestead outside of Seattle, Washington to a 40-acre homestead in rural Tennessee. Ann and I sat down to talk about the realities of buying and selling a homestead, moving across the country to pursue your homesteading dream, what to look for when you’re searching for your next property, pitfalls to avoid (if you can!), and what you can do if you’re not ready or in a position to make your move just yet.

Whether you’re looking to purchase your first homestead or trying to sell an existing homestead and upgrade to a bigger property, Ann had some great insights to share that can save you time, stress and money when you’re ready to make your move.

Check out the full interview in the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine: link in bio @anna.sakawsky or visit www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe, login to the library (if you’re already a subscriber) or view a sample of the current issue!

#modernhomesteading #homesteadersofinstagram #escapethematrix #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #selfsufficientliving
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This is why people don’t trust our medical system!!!

I very rarely go on a rant about current events but this has me feeling really fired up…

My husband and I each got an Amber Alert on our phones the other night along with millions of other British Columbians, informing us of a child abduction in Vancouver. It made the suspect sound like a dangerous kidnapper and said “do not approach. Call 911.”

As it turns out, it was the mother of the child (a 3-year-old boy), who had refused medical treatment without getting a second opinion and follow up blood tests, so the Ministry of Child and Family Services was called, she was arrested and her son was taken from her and was administered medical treatment in the hospital without consent and without a guardian present.

There’s a lot more to this story than I’m able to share in this video or this caption, so I’ll post some links below where you can hear directly from the mom what happened, and check out other IG accounts that have been in direct contact with her and the father. But the point is this was a GROSS misuse of our Amber Alert system, a GROSS abuse of power (turns out the boy wasn’t sick in the end anyway), and has now traumatized this family for life.

Doctors are not gods and as mothers we do not co-parent with the government!!!

This hits close to home for me because I too have been through the medical system and had my concerns dismissed, was misdiagnosed and given wrong information, and was treated with obvious contempt when I got a second opinion.

In this day and age of rampant medical coercion and the erosion of bodily autonomy over our own bodies and over those of our children, this story highlights the dangers of the very slippery slope we’re on.

As parents who only have the best interests of our children at heart, this could happen to any one of us. We can’t let this be normalized. Remember “first they came for (fill in the blank), and I said nothing. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Check out my stories for the full video that the mom, Wiloh made explaining the details of what happened or check out the comments for links to learn more & support this family.
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I’ve hesitated about posting this reel over and over because I know I’ll probably get backlash, hate and vitriol from some people in return. But I wouldn’t be being true to myself if I didn’t speak the truth that’s on my heart and mind…

If you haven’t noticed, there are currently thousands of Canadians sharing their stories and using the hashtag #trudeaumustgo on their social media posts right now in response to the divisive rhetoric and actions of our prime minister over the past few months. But our media has downplayed the issue and has attributed most of the hashtags to “bot” accounts and foreigners trying to influence our politics.

In response, real Canadians are making videos and sharing their stories to show that we are not bots, but real people who have been negatively affected by the words and actions of our leaders, particularly our leader at the top.

I used to consider myself a lifelong leftist and have supported the liberal government and Trudeau over the years, but after what I’ve witnessed over the past few months; After how he has spoken about Canadians who have made a different medical choice or who have protested mandates (which have done nothing to stop the spread of you-know-what anyway); After the hate and division that has trickled down from the top and infiltrated our communities, I can no longer stand silently by.

While I am 💉, a few months ago when I voiced my support for those who stood up against mandates and against the division being pushed on us by our leadership, I suddenly found myself among what our prime minister called the “small fringe minority” of citizens with “unacceptable views.”

I lost followers, friends and even a couple family members. I was told I’d been “radicalized,” although my views have never changed.

So today I’m adding my voice to the chorus of real, everyday Canadians who are taking a stand against tyranny and division in this country. As the saying goes, if we do not stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. I stand for freedom & autonomy, and against division & tyranny.

#trudeaumustgo

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In the fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, contributor Ashley Constance of @dirtypawshomestead and @alittleselfreliant shares her experience voluntarily going without power for the day, and what she and her husband, Shawn learned from their grid down experiment.

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The other day when I had a few minutes to spare, I was out in the garden doing a little work when my neighbour said hi over the fence.

I lamented to her about how busy we’ve been and how hard it’s been to keep on top of this year. Very sincerely, she replied “wait until you have another one,” referring to our baby on the way.

“You’ll be moving back to the suburbs so quick, mark my words,” she said.

Now, I don’t for a second think there was any ill intent behind her statement, but still, it took me aback.

“We’ll never move back to the city or the suburbs,” I replied with a laugh. “This may be hard work but we love it.”

She then repeated her statement and followed it up with “just you wait and see.”

I decided not to continue the back and forth. After all, I told myself, it doesn’t matter if she or anyone else knows what’s truly in your heart. It doesn’t matter if she understands that there’s no amount of difficulty that would make me run back to the suburbs and leave this life behind. In fact, our dream is to upgrade to a bigger property someday where we can grow an even bigger garden and add more livestock to our homestead!

Likewise, I visited the city last weekend for a family event and as always, I had at least a couple people ask me “so when are you moving back to the city?”

Seven years later, and still we have friends and family members who think this is just a phase we’re going through, and eventually we’ll come to our senses and move back.

I used to get offended by these questions because I felt unseen; I felt like nobody took this life that I’m so passionate about seriously, and thought it was “cute” that I was “playing farmer” for a bit, but eventually I had to grow up and become part of the “real world” once again.

Now I just smile and reply “never:)”

Can you relate? How do you (politely) respond when someone questions your lifestyle choices or implies that you’ll eventually come to your senses and come back to “reality”?

Let me know below 👇
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The fall issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine just dropped!

In this issue you’ll find:

• Preparedness tips, tricks and advice to help you be ready for anything on the homestead (and in life!)
•The ultimate guide to growing garlic at home and it as both food and medicine
• Drool-worthy recipes that feature garlic as the star!
• Expert advice from A Farmgirl in the Making’s Ann Accetta-Scott on what to look for (and look out for) when buying or selling a homestead property
• Advice on how to learn and grow from perceived homesteading “failures”

And more!!!

Go to modernhomesteadingmagazine.com or click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or login to the library and read the latest issue if you’re already subscribed!
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When I first started homesteading, I had a burning desire to become more self-sufficient and live a more sustainable life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a rebel at heart, and learning how to homestead and become more self-reliant was a way for me to “throw a proverbial middle finger to the system” and live life on my own terms.

As a teenager, I was the girl who drove around town with punk rock music blaring from my car, Misfits sticker on the back and studs around my wrists. I felt misunderstood and angsty and like I desperately didn’t fit in with the world I grew up in.

I always knew in my soul that I wanted something different; Something more.

Today I’m the mama with stretch marks on my belly and battle scars on my heart. I’m the woman who gardens and cans food and makes her own tinctures and believes in something greater than herself and fights every day to stay free in a world that feels increasingly engineered to keep us hopelessly dependent.

Today I feel whole and at peace, and connected to a higher power and a higher purpose. I feel like I’ve finally found the place where I belong.

This journey has been about so much more than homesteading for me, and I've learned, lost, gained and loved so much more than I ever could have imagined.

Because, as I've said before, homesteading doesn't happen in a vacuum. Life is always happening at the same time.

This is the full, raw and unfiltered story of my homesteading journey, and how I've gained so much more than a pantry full of food along the way.

Click the link in my bio @anna.sakawsky to read more or check it out here >> https://thehouseandhomestead.com/how-it-started-how-its-going
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The news we’ve all been waiting for…

IT’S A BOY!!!

After so many years and too many losses, our hearts are so full and it feels like we are inching closer to our family finally being complete.

I’ve always known in my heart and soul that we were meant to have a girl and a boy. I know, it sounds cliché and very “nuclear family,” but years ago I saw a psychic who told me I would have a girl who loved to be centre stage and had a personality larger than life, very much how our daughter has turned out!

She also said I would have a boy who would be much more introverted and in tune with nature and with his own intuition. That’s yet to be seen, but I’ve always had this unwavering vision of a son and a daughter that fit these descriptions, and my heart has been set on a son ever since we had Evelyn.

Of course, things went sideways for a few years. Shortly after Evelyn was born, I became pregnant again, but we made the heartbreaking decision to terminate that pregnancy at 24 weeks due to a severe medical diagnosis. We lost our son, Phoenix Rain on June 15, 2018. Our hearts were shattered and have never fully healed.

Over the next few years, I had 3 more early miscarriages. None of the doctors knew what was causing them as most didn’t seem to have any sort of genetic explanation. We were told it was “something environmental,” but weren’t given any clues as to what that could be.

After pushing to see several specialists last year (after our most recent loss), and being told once again that there was “nothing wrong with me,” I finally got another opinion and found out I had something called Chronic Endometritis: A low-grade infection in my uterus that I believe in my heart was caused by my c-section with our daughter; A c-section I didn’t want and probably didn’t need, but felt I needed because I was under pressure to make a decision before the surgeon went off duty.

I’ll never know for sure, but when I pushed for more testing and finally got a simple round of antibiotics, the endometritis cleared up. I got pregnant again almost immediately and so far we now have a healthy baby boy on the way.

(Continued in comments…)
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We’re living through interesting times. Many people have even used the term “unprecedented times,” and while that may be true in that there has perhaps never been another time in history when we’ve faced so many existential threats all at once (ie. a global pandemic, climate change, political divisions, AI advancing at an incredible rate, cyber attacks, nuclear threats, globalization, food shortages, supply chain issues, hyperinflation, social media and the age of information/misinformation, etc. etc. all converging at once). But despite all of this, we are not the first generation(s) of humans to face hardships and threats of great magnitude, and in fact we’ve had it better than any other previous generations for most of our lives, especially here in the west.

The fact is, there are lots of things we can do to ensure we’re not sitting ducks when these threats come knocking at our door. But it takes action on our part, not waiting around for someone else to fix things or take care of us.

In the Summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, I sat down with The Grow Network’s Marjory Wildcraft to talk all about the realities of our current climate, including worsening inflation and looming global food shortages, as well as what every day people like you and I can actually DO to improve our food security, become more self-sufficient, care for our families and communities and ensure our own survival and wellbeing even in difficult and uncertain times like these.

While I don’t believe in fear mongering, I do believe in acknowledging hard truths and not burying your head in the sand. That being said, things may very well get worse before they get better, and we would all do well to start learning the necessary skills, stocking up on essential resources and preparing now while there’s still time.

Check out the full interview in the summer issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine. Link in bio @anna.sakawsky to subscribe or go to www.modernhomesteadingmagazine.com to subscribe or login and read the current issue.

#foodshortages #selfsufficiency #selfreliance #foodsecurity #foodsecurityisfreedom #homesteading #growyourownfood #fightinflation #stayfree
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