Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger Review

Those of us that take the electrical grid for granted, should realize how important it is to have power at our disposable, no matter how small.

In my continual quest to become more self sufficient, one area I’ve focused on is solar.

The advertisements and reviews I’ve seen about the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger, seem like a refreshing relief for people like me that have been severely frustrated by the many solar chargers on the market.

The last few years of research have left me feeling completely overwhelmed and under motivated.

The reason? It was nearly impossible to find a charger that stood up against the hype and hysteria by the people promoting them.

Most of the solar chargers I’ve tried didn’t have the capacity to blow a bug’s nose. And if they did, they weighed nearly as much as a cast iron stove.

My quest:

I wanted a solar charger that was not only portable, but capable of charging my cell phones, portable power banks, and maybe a rechargeable headlamp. That’s really not too much to ask is it?

So, I decided to test the Joos Orange Portable Solar Charger.




Cost $149.95




 Included in the Joos Orange Box:

    Joos Orange Solar Charger
    White USB cable for connecting the Joos to a computer
    Black cable with interchangeable tips to connect to multiple devices.
    Durable plastic zip lock pouch to store cables and tips.

Weighing just about 1.5 lbs, and pumping out 5v/2w of power through it’s micro USB port, the Joos is reported to be 3x faster than any other solar charger in its price range.

So, how well did this equipment hold up to our test?

Read more

5 Reasons To Grow Heirloom Vegetables

Ok so here it goes. Another hot topic.  One issue at our garden club that seems to continually come up is, Hybrid vs Heirloom. Which is better?  I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t grow hybrids. If it gets you outside in the sun and gets your fingernails dirty, I’m all for it. For what it’s worth, here is my take on the subject.  5 reasons why I believe everyone should be growing heirloom vegetables.

Heirlooms Taste Better

I thought I would start with this one since this is the most heated topic regarding heirlooms. Those on the hybrid side of the fence will argue that certain vegetables have been bred not only for disease and bug resistance, but also taste.
Although I have grown quite a few hybrids that certainly are delicious, I am yet to find any as good as the heirlooms I now choose to grow. I also might add that taste is subjective. There are factors that affect taste. Growing conditions being a major player and of course variety.

Heirlooms are Cheaper (with a caveat)

I think we can all agree that seeds are cheaper than vegetables. And most would also agree that going to the nursery or big box store and buying seedlings is certainly cheaper than buying the amount of vegetables these plants produce. But the comparison I’m making is not between hybrid and store bought, but rather hybrid vs heirlooms. There is a substantial savings between buying a packet of seeds rather than a flat of starts. One seed packet will cost about $2. That same packet can produce sometimes up to 30 plants. If you went to the market and bought 30 plants, they could possible cost you over $100. Now there is an exception to this rule. Many nurseries offer heirloom seedlings. And if you buy hybrid seeds then the cost goes way down. BUT, if you grow hybrids, you will not be able to save the seeds to replant the following year.


For me, this is a big one. Just a quick scan through an heirlooms seed catalogue will reveal hundreds of varieties of vegetables to choose from. You can pick one that matches your requirements regarding taste, days to maturity, size, shape etc. You are not limited to the choices that hybridizers give you.


After growing a certain vegetable variety, saving the seeds and replanting year after year, Over time, the plant will start to adapt to your specific location. In other words, it will slowly acclimate to your environment. If, for instance, there is a specific tomato you like, you grow it year after year and watch it start to adapt to it’s new home. Essentially becoming accustomed to its environment. There are however certain limitations to what it can adapt to. I’m not suggesting that if your area is prone to hail storms, that somehow it will magically develop steel stems. That’s just not going to happen. But you will be amazed at how well it does adapt.


This is the absolute biggest reason for me. I believe that no person has the right to patent life. And that life also includes plants. Even if that person or corporation develops a completely new genetic strain. They are NOT creating life. They are genetically manipulating already created material. And it is that material that I believe should NEVER be owned by anyone. No matter how much they manipulate it. So by selling hybrid vegetable seeds, the companies are taking two heirlooms or open pollinated varieties and crossing them. Now I’m certainly not suggesting there is anything ethically or morally wrong with that. I’m just suggesting that there shouldn’t be a patent on it.

Secondly, because it is hybridized, the offspring from saved seeds will usually not produce a plant similar to the parent. therefore, if you like a certain hybrid variety, you are forced to buy new seeds every year. And this process makes you a slave to the one holding you hostage to your food supply. We must always maintain the independence and control over our lives and should NEVER yield or submit to others in this regard.

Family Seed Planting Chart

What To Grow For A Family of 4
What a family of 4 needs to grow for a one year supply of food
The following chart is only an estimation.
Some would need more, others less. You must make your own adjustments.

Type of Vegetable/Fruit Amount of
Plants Needed
Spacing (if row)
Apple 3 Trees
Apricot 2 Trees
Asparagus 30 plants
Beans 100′ row 6″
Beets 100′ row 6″
Broccoli 25 Plants
Cabbage 15 Plants
Carrots 200 plants
Cauliflower 15 Plants
Celery 20 Plants
Cherry 2 Trees
Corn 200′ row 12″
Cucumber 10 Plants
Eggplant 10 Plants
Kohlrabi 20′ Row
Lettuce 30 Heads
Mustard 5 Plants
Onions (Green) 15′ Row 2″
Onions (Bulb) 30′ Row 8-12″
Parsley 3 Plants
Peaches 2 Trees
Pear 2 Trees
Peas 130′ Row 5″
Peppers (Green) 10 Plants
Peppers (Hot) 5 Plants
Plums 2 Trees
Popcorn 30′ Row 12″
Potatoes 60′ Row 36″
Pumpkins 5 Plants
Radishes 30′ Row 6″
Raspberry 100′ Row 12″
Sage 2 Plants
Spinach 20 Plants
Squash 5 Plants
Strawberry 100′ Row 24″
Tomatoes (Slicing) 10 Plants
Tomatoes (Paste) 20 Plants
Tomatoes (Salsa) 5 Plants
Turnips 10′ Row 8″
Watermelon 6 Plants

The Mini Umbrella

The Forgotten Prepper Tool

One thing that seems to always be missing from everyone’s EDC kit, is the much needed umbrella.  In many ways this baffles me. I suppose it might be the fact that a lot of them carry the small ponchos like the Adult Rain Poncho by totes.

I do have a few of the ponchos and they work amazingly well. However, one must remember that with the ponchos, the rain falls right off the front of your face, making it nearly impossible to use things like binoculars and cameras. And the biggest disadvantage for me, is that the hoods limit my peripheral vision. And we all know the dangers that can present, especially in a hazardous situation.

The Totes Mini Auto Open/Auto Close Umbrella is the perfect solution.

With its auto open and auto close feature, You can hand-hold it with one hand and use your gear with the other. In many cases I prefer an umbrella over a poncho.
Of course no umbrella works very well in the wind.
I suggest you throw one in your backpack. I think you’ll agree they can be quite beneficial.

My Bugout Bag



Most people that know me, understand I never call my survival bag a “bug out bag”. But so many people have asked me to do a write up that I had to accommodate them with the title. I really don’t like the term “bug out bag”. It’s just getting old and everybody and their uncle are making videos on them.

Bug out bags are supposed to be for bugging out, but after scouring the internet, it’s almost impossible to find anyone that has actually bugged out or used their bags. Not even in mock situations.  So it stands to reason that I’m incredibly exhausted and feel tired all over every time I hear or read the words “bug out bag”. I suspect that most people with bug out bag videos, wouldn’t even survive one night with their arsenal. I mean seriously, how many of them have actually USED a mini fishing kit? I tried once many years ago and tossed it in the trash. The darn thing was too flimsy to even hold my worm.

I prefer to call mine a survival bag cause really, isn’t that what it is? I know why some would only use it if they “bugged out”. So I understand the term. But the phrase has become so mundane I believe it’s lost its meaning.

So here is my SURVIVAL BAG.

Firstly, I’m about gardening. So it stands to reason I intend to stay put if disaster strikes.

However, there are definitely times where staying put would cause considerable harm. Therefore, I certainly do have what I call a “Survival Bag”

The only scenario I could conceive, considering where I live, would be some type of storm or fire.

In case of wind or fire, I am confident I would have enough time to pack a few essentials into the car before departing.
However, my bag is packed with the possibility of ditching the car and hoofing it. So, I guess I do have a bug out bag after all.

My Survival Bag Contents.
I have broken down my needs into 12 categories. They are as follows:

1. Food
2. Water
3. Hygiene Kit
4. First Aid
5. Power Kit
6. Media Kit
7. Grapple Kit
8. Shelter Kit
9. Comfort Kit
10. Communications
11. Sleep Kit
12. Tool Kit

Each kit is packed individually in its own pouch or bag and easily identifiable.  They are either attached to my bag, or put in the large compartment. But still, everything goes with me. I travel prepared.

What do I carry?

My Bag

My bag of choice is the Condor Compact Assault Pack. Now before you ask why I carry an assault pack, let me explain. The assault pack is of much thicker material and I believe a better made pack than the regular carry backpack. It just feels more comfortable. I also carry many molle attachments to it.

Condor Assault Pack

I also carry 3 of the Condor Pocket Pouch/US Patch. They are small and attach very easily to the pack.

Condor Pouch

Next I have 3 of the Condor T and T Pouch (Tan)

Condor T&T Pouch

These hold my Fire kit, Writing/Comm kit and the Hygiene kit.

I recommend that you also break down your gear into kits. That way you can find them when you need them.  I’ve seen so many people just jam their gear into one big backpack. I hate to think what would happen if they ever needed even the smallest item. It would be impossible to find it.

I will be doing a video soon about all the gear I carry and which kits go into each pouch or pack. So stay tuned
But as it stands, I hope I never have to use them. But they’re there just in case. I suggest you do the same. You never know what could happen.

Survival Gardening – The Perennial Tree Collard

When people ask me what pants are best for survival gardening, I always tell them to grow perennials along with your regular summer annuals. One of my favorites is the purple tree collard. In this video, I will explain a little about them and why I believe everyone in warmer climates should grow them.

Seed Saving, The Most Important Skill To Know For Survival

My 12 minute rant about the importance of saving your own seeds for survival. Seed saving is one of the single most important skills you will ever learn. It is vitally important to know how to do it.

Storing And Organizing Your Seeds

Do you have a large collection of seeds and don’t know how or where to store them?
This is my method of collecting, storing and organizing my seed collection.

DIY Make Your Own Fruit and Vegetable Wash

This is my recipe for a fruit and vegetable wash.
Even if you buy organic, you’re still not sure where the fruit has been or how many people have touched it. It’s always best to give it a good wash and a rinse.
This solution will help remove bacteria, germs, pesticide and wax.
Although I am not a scientist and can’t guarantee the effectiveness of this solution, I feel confident enough to use it on the fruit and vegetables I feed my family.
1 cup water
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs distilled white vinegar