Friday, March 27, 2015

The Difference Between Heirloom Seeds, Hybrid Seeds, and GMO Seeds

Special Note: After several years of writing all of the posts on this blog (over 220) I have decided to start accepting guest posts from readers.  I will accept articles that are on topic; wilderness survival, gardening, food storage, prepping, primitive skills, primitive weapons, modern weapons, etc.  I will not accept articles that focus on politics, race, gender, religion, or illegal activities, and if an article is posted I reserve the right to edit it for length and/or content.  Please make sure that your submission is your own work and that it is based on your own experience and not just a second-hand account of how to do something.  If you wish to submit an article you can e-mail it to  If you are going to include photos, which is a definite plus, please send them in jpeg format.  Your article will be credited to you; and, if published, will be received by a wide audience.  This blog has had over 950,000 views throughout the world and is currently receiving 25,000 to 30,000 hits per month.  Thanks, and hope to hear from you, Hank

The following article is a guest post from Sam.  It is a good explanation of the different types of gardening seeds that are available today.  You can visit Sam’s blog at

The Difference Between Heirloom Seeds, Hybrid Seeds, and GMO Seeds

Are you confused by the variety of seeds available in the market these days? You are not alone. Many gardening newbies have trouble understanding the differences between heirloom, hybrid, and GMO seeds. Although GMO seeds are not available for home gardeners, it is still important to understand the role of these seeds and how they could affect the future of gardening.

So what exactly does heirloom refer to? Heirloom plants are considered those that breed true. This means they pass on the same characteristics from the parent plant to the child plant. This is extremely useful and efficient for gardeners and farmers who are looking to harvest the same type of plant from season to season. One confusing concept that is most often associated with heirloom is the time when it was introduced. Some gardeners would say they that heirloom varieties were introduced before the 1920s, while others would state that they were introduced before 1951. In the end, the time when they were introduced would probably not have a significant impact on your choice of seeds. However, it is still important to understand the historical importance of heirloom seeds in general since heirloom does refer to the heritage of a plant.

So how exactly do heirlooms differ from hybrid seeds? Well, hybrid seeds can form from both natural and human-induced processes. For example, some heirloom plants appear after cross-pollination occurs between two varieties of plants. This can offer certain benefits and advantages. For example, if plant A has a natural pest-resistant trait and plant B has a trait of producing beautiful colors, the plant that results from the cross-pollination of plant A and B could get the beneficial trait from each parent plant. However, the degree of how much trait a child plant receives from each parent plant is not always consistent. Therefore, there is always that problem of reproducing the same type of hybrid plant from year-to-year.

Aside from being able to breed true, heirloom plants offer a number of other great benefits. For example, heirloom vegetables and fruits are known to have more flavor and taste. They may not look as appealing in terms of appearance, but such concerns will be blown away once you take a bite out of most heirloom fruits, vegetables, and even herbs. Another benefit is the nutrients. Some heirloom varieties are known to contain more nutrients than their hybrid counterparts. Last but not least, heirloom plants play an important part in preserving the genetic diversity of plants. Without heirloom plants, there wouldn’t even be hybrid plants on this planet. It is important to preserve the original species of plants in order to maintain the beautiful selection of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other types of plants that exist in front of us today.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How to Make Good Tasting Hardtack

Hardtack is one of the survival foods of the American frontier.  Movies and television often portray hardtack as being a bad-tasting, tooth breaking assault on the taste buds, but this is not at all true.  This being said, traditional hardtack is nothing to write home about taste-wise.  It is basically made of flour, salt, and water; mixed into a dough, rolled out, and baked.  Simple to make, full of carbs, but not very tasty.  The recipe that I am giving you here adds just four simple ingredients that make a world of difference in the taste of the final product.  It’s so good, that if I lived in Beverly Hills, I’d call these handmade artisan-bread crackers; but, I live in the backwoods of East Texas so I guess I’ll just call it hardtack.  Here’s the recipe:


1 ½ cups of all-purpose or whole wheat flour
1 cup quick oats oatmeal (not instant)
1 teaspoon of salt
¾ teaspoon of baking soda
¼ cup of sugar
1/3 cup of vegetable shortening, lard, or oil
¾ cup of warm water


In a mixing bowl combine the flour, oats, salt baking soda, and sugar and mix thoroughly

Add the shortening and cut it into the dry ingredients

Add the warm water and stir the mixture until you have a uniform dough.

The dough will probably be pretty sticky at this point. Sprinkle it with small amounts of flour as you kneed the dough.  Keep adding flour until the dough no longer sticks to your fingers.

Divide the dough into two balls and set it aside.

Sprinkle your cutting board with flour and rub flour on your rolling pin.

Place one ball of dough on the cutting board, sprinkle flour on top of it, and roll the dough out thin; about an eighth of and inch thick.

Use the bumpy side of a meat tenderizing mallet to press indentions into the dough.  If you dip the head of the mallet into flour after every third of fourth use, it will keep the head of the mallet from sticking to the dough. If you don’t have a mallet, use a fork to poke indentions into the dough.  These aren’t just for looks. They help the cracker cook evenly inside and out.

Now take a pizza cutter, or just a regular knife, and cut out your crackers.  I make mine about two inches square.

Place the squares of dough on a lightly greased baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees F. until the crackers are golden brown.  On my old stove this is 18 minutes, but I’d start checking at 15 minutes if I were you.  Meanwhile you can roll out and prepare the other ball of dough for baking.

Take the hardtack out of the oven and let it cool.   

 You’re now ready to bag it up and hit the trail, or if you’re in Beverly Hills, you’re ready to grate some sweet onion and break out the Beluga caviar.  So happy trails or bon appetite, whichever is appropriate.