Pine Tree

The Incredible and Edible Pine Tree

Plant a Pine Tree Because Someday It May Save Your Life

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden accept 175 names of pines (conifers) as current.

In most cases, they tend to be hardy trees in their native environment and they can be found practically anywhere. A pine tree may very well be your best friend if you find yourself lost or stranded in a wilderness environment.

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5 Basic Survival Skills You Can Practice In Your Backyard Now

Backyard Basic Survival Skills

Most of the survival reality shows would have you believe that you could awaken one day to find yourself in the middle of a jungle or in a vast wilderness area with nothing but the clothes on your back, and with shoes in some cases. You may be expected to survive with nothing more than flip-flops, a piece of Styrofoam and your PJ bottoms.

Of course, the shows are all about ratings. The reality is however, that you left home for a mountain bike ride and the tire blew out 12 miles from home and the fall makes it hard for you to walk. A few hours day hike turns into a nightmare of days wandering lost, or you got lost on a hunting trip, camping trip or your vehicle breaks down in some remote area. This is how you end up lost or stranded in most cases.

The point is you arrived there somehow, in something, on something and with something such as a backpack with a few essentials. The deciding factor on whether you survive or not, are the things you arrived with for the party. Will you be empty handed as well as empty-headed if you find yourself lost or stranded?

You need materials for survival but the thing you need the most are skills. The knowledge and the skills you carry in your head may very well decide your fate.

Knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge will keep you alive. Skills will keep you alive when your gear fails or materials are not to be had in your backpack. Watching videos of how it is done is not applying knowledge, but practicing is applying knowledge and you need to practice in a controlled environment before it is a life or death situation, were mistakes are a learning tool and not a death knell. Your backyard is the starting point.

Basic Survival Skills You Can Practice In Your Backyard

It is now backyard adventure time, where you can hone your skills to gain the confidence and know without hesitation that you can survive if you become lost or stranded in a wilderness environment or in any environment for that matter.

1.) Shelter

Pull out your tarps, ponchos and even an old parachute and start practicing. Look at various ways of using your tarp or poncho as shelters. You can even use a Mylar blanket as emergency shelter along with certain plastic sheeting.

You can string a line and drape the material over the line and stake down for a classic pup tent style, or gather some saplings and construct a teepee using the tarp, poncho, plastic or parachute as cover for it. Know that you can construct a shelter to cover you from rain, snow or sun, before you find yourself lost or stranded.

2.) Archery/Slingshot/Spear Skills

Safety first, and this means no children or pets in the backyard, while practicing and that you have sufficient backstop materials for the projectiles. Firearms are not always available but you can make a longbow, slingshot and spear from materials on you and from what you find in your environment.

Obviously the way to ensure you have the means to hunt is to make sure you never leave on an outdoor adventure without a longbow (folding ones are available that can be carried in a pack), without a slingshot and the means to cut a sapling and sharpen into a spear.

Can you hit your target with an arrow, or do you only think you can, so find out if you can. Then make sure through practice that you can always bring game down with a bow if needed and the same applies to the slingshot, practice will make perfect.

Spears in most cases would be ideal for “spear fishing” or for self-defense against animals or humans. Unless, the spear is well crafted and balanced properly throwing a spear to kill game is not very productive, but it is one more tool in your survival toolbox and you never will know until you do practice.

3.) Fire Starting

Practically anyone can start a fire on a nice sunny day, with matches and a lighter, but can you do it when the wind is blowing, when it is raining, snowing, or icing out. Can you make a fire without matches or a lighter? Now is the time to find out before you need too.

If you do not have a magnesium stick and/or a Ferro rod, you need to get both and begin practicing. Practice starting fires using a Ferro rod and cotton balls soaked in alcohol based hand sanitizer, or use alcohol wipes from your first aid kit.

Know what works best for you. Petroleum jelly, cotton balls, dry tinder, char cloth, flint, and steel can all be used to create fire under any weather conditions. Make sure you know how to start a fire with any materials available to you. Make sure all materials are available by making sure they are in your pack.

4. Foraging For Food Edibles in Your Backyard

Unless you routinely spray herbicides to kill weeds in your yard, you can find edibles weeds growing at practically any time of the year.  These same weeds can be found in a wilderness environment as well, and what better place to learn to identify the edible ones than in your own backyard.

The following is just a sampling of what you may find in your backyard. The list is common weeds and even flowers that are edible and can be found in your yard and in many wilderness environments. Make sure you research carefully before picking and eating any plant and have reliable pictures for reference of all the plants.

  1. Dandelion – Most everyone can identify a dandelion and the plant can be eaten at any stage of growth. The roots are edible as well, and many make tea/beverages out of the roots.
  2. Plantain – Not to be confused with the banana shaped fruit. Plantains have medicinal properties according to many, and it can be used as a topical treatment for many skin aliments, and of course can be eaten as well.
  3. Miners lettuce – Can be found growing in flowerbeds, sidewalk cracks or even in the middle of your yard
  4. Lamb’s-quarters – Commonly called wild spinach
  5. Burdock – People spend countless hours and money trying to eradicate this invasive weed, which by the way, is grown in many parts of the world for eating and is considered a delicacy. The roots are especially sought after in many cultures.
  6. Stinging Nettles  – Delicious eaten or brewed into a tea, just are careful of the stinging nettles.
  7. Purslane  Is very common and no doubt, you can find some growing up through a crack in the sidewalk, in stoned areas or even in your flowerbed.
  8. Cattails – Can be found near water in many parts of the world and if you have a pond on your property, you may find some.
  9. Daylilies  Can usually found in flowerbeds but also can be found growing wild in ditches and around country lanes and all parts of the plant are edible. The roots are especially sought after.
  10. Primrose  Some consider primrose evasive while other encourages it for its white and yellow flowers, but the flowers can be eaten or steeped to make a flavorful tea as well.

5.) Outdoor Cooking

If lost or stranded, you will have to cook over open flames so what better place to practice than over a campfire in your own backyard. Food cannot just be tossed into the coals or flames and then dragged out when you think it may be done. Learn how to fashion cooking grates using green saplings, or use flat heated rocks as frying/cooking surface. You may think you know how to cook, because the microwave is handy, but it takes some knowledge and skill to cook over an open flame in all kinds of weather.

The above list is just a few of the skills needed to survive. With some imagination, you can come up with other skills that maybe needed, and when you do, start practicing them so you can master the art of survival.

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Top 9 Deadly and Dangerous Plants to Avoid

Deadly Plants

When people think of deadly plants, they conjure up visions of Amazon rainforests and other far flung destinations. You would be mistaken to think that deadly plants don’t surround you in North America and Europe. Some of these plants are so toxic they can kill in minutes. Some look like common herbs. The key to avoiding death by plant is knowledge and the ability to identify which ones are deadly and which are safe for consumption. With that being said check out this excellent video below by Vsauce2 to learn about some of these top deadly plants.

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42 Flowers You Can Eat

Edible flowers

Giving someone flowers will take a new meaning in a grid down situation, you will probably be too busy (most of the time) to pick flowers just for aesthetics. If the flower serves a second purpose, say a flavoring for food, maybe you can enjoy them for just a bit before they go into a pan. This comprehensive article breaks down what you can eat, as some are poisonous, and gives you an idea as to the flavor they provide.

42 Flowers You Can Eat

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Common Yarrow

Yarrow and Its Many Medicinal Properties

Achillea millefolium or common yarrow
“Millefolium” literally means a thousand leaves and it is said that its name, Achillea, is derived from Achilles the Greek hero of the Trojan wars. Myth has that it was given to him by a Greek God to carry into battle to help treat battle wounds.

The herb has been used according to experts for over 3,000 years, and was first used on the battlefield to treat wounds, primarily to stop the flow of blood.

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10 Wild Winter Edibles

Winter Edibles Rose Hips

Foraging for wild food isn’t just for warm weather, and with winter fast approaching it’s good to know what foods can be found even during heavy snow falls. Steph over at Web Ecoist has written an excellent article on 10 winter edibles, so give it a read at the link below.

Remember, when gathering wild edibles always be sure to have 100% positive identification, if you are in any doubt whatsoever, then don’t eat it. It’s always better to be hungry than to get sick or even worse poison yourself.

Read more at… Wild Winter Edibles: 10 Foods You Can Find Outside Now

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Urban Survival Foraging

Urban Foraging Dandelion

Survival Foraging

Foraging is simply the act of searching for and acquiring food. Foraging is typically associated with a wilderness environment but urban dwellers can forage as well. Nomadic tribes in years past were nomadic because once they had foraged in an area for a while the food source was depleted and they had to move on. Indigenous people knew the growing seasons well and often would move back to a previous location because a certain food was once again available. Foraging can also include fishing and hunting.

Foraging is not to be confused with looting or stealing and some so-called survivalist depict foraging as the act of acquiring supplies by any means possible, particularly in an urban environment. Regardless of your environment, there are things that it will provide if you know what to look for and know where to look without having to take from others.

Keep in mind while there are hundreds if not thousands of species of edible plants on the planet there are as many if not more that are toxic to humans. Know what you are eating and if unsure do not eat the plant. The myth that if birds and animals are eating the plant or berry then it must be ok for humans is simply not true. The moonseed is just one example of a berry that birds love but can be fatal to humans. The common box turtle diets on mushrooms that are poisonous to humans so do not assume anything is edible because you see an animal eating it.

Urban Foraging

During a crisis in an urban environment, you cannot walk out to the barn and gather eggs or pick up a chicken for dinner that night out of the pen. The local stores and warehouses will have been looted in the first few hours and days following any disaster leaving you without a means to resupply.

To prepare for a crisis in an urban environment you should start now mapping out possible food sources, such as vacant lots, backyard and patio gardens that may be abandoned during the crisis as well as commercial plant nurseries and commercial or private greenhouses. These will be sources of fresh food during a crisis because the owners may very well flee their homes and businesses because of the disaster. You should take advantage of these sources before others do or the plants die from lack of care.


Edibles You Are Likely To Find In an Urban Environment


burdock weedBurdock is very common in vacant lots, along roadways and in some backyards that have not been kept up. Most consider burdock a nuisance weed but in many parts of the world, it is cultivated for its roots. Do not peel or clean the roots after harvesting unless you plan to eat them right away because the skin and soil will help preserve the root. Cut the roots in to small pieces and sauté in oil or boil for 20-30 minutes, until tender.




hairy bittercrestHairy Bittercress is considered a weed by most people but it is an emergency food source. It can be found growing in rocks, corners of the yard, mulch beds and along roadways.






dandelion weedThe Dandelion of course is a very common plant and most know what it looks like. The buds are best eaten before it flowers but can be eaten at anytime of the year. All parts are edible, use as you would any salad green or cook like spinach and other types of greens. You will probably find enough dandelions in your very own backyard right now for a meal.





DaylilyDaylilies are typically cultivated in backyard gardens for their beautiful flowers and foliage. However, they are edible and can be a reliable food source because they are perennials that will produce more plants each year. All parts of the plant are edible at any time of the year but the roots are especially sought after. The tubal roots can be eaten raw or boiled. Find the daylilies in backyards gardens and occasionally growing wild in roadside ditches.


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