Prepper Book Festival 12: Mother Earth News Almanac

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: August 24, 2021
Prepper Book Festival 12: Mother Earth News Almanac

It took just a single Mother Earth News Fair to turn me into a devoted Mother Earth News groupie. Although I don’t have a large plot of land and chickens to tend, I can spend hours browsing the wide variety of articles on the Mother Earth News website. I love the old time wisdom salted with inspiration and modern-day solutions to everyday life.

With that introduction, I am thrilled to introduce you to the all-new, 2016 edition of the Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons. This book is a season by season compilation of timeless, yet simple, old-timey tips mixed in the with new. It is an ecclectic collection of things the modern pioneer needs to live a self-reliant livestyle.

The Mother Earth News Almanac includes hints to help us forage for food, grow crops organically, understand the weather, manage our finances, save money, use kitchen tools efficiently, and a whole lot more. And, lest you think this book is just for folks living in the country, let me set you straight. There is plenty to interest the city dweller as well. A good example is how to forage for wild edibles in your own back yard.

Because there is no single author to interview, I have chosen instead to share an excerpt from the section on how to sprout seeds and grains. This is a skill we all should practice, since when and if the time comes, sprouts may become the only reliable source of micronutrients in our diet.

I also have three copies up for grabs in a giveaway, and who can argue with that?

“How and What To Sprout”, An Excerpt from the Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons

Almost any seed, grain, or legume can be successfully sprouted, although most devotees of the art think that alfalfa, mung beans, lentils, peas, and the cereal grasses—wheat, oats, barley, and rye—give the best results. Unhulled sesame and sunflower, radish, mustard, red clover, fenugreek, corn, lima beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, chick peas, cress, millet, and nearly any other seed you can think of will work. You should never, however, eat potato sprouts (the plant is a member of the poisonous nightshade family).

Select clean, whole seeds that have not been chemically treated in any way. Wash the grain or whatever thoroughly, pick out any chaff or cracked hulls, and check the seeds for fertility (if they’re sterile, they’ll float).

Place a tablespoon of alfalfa seeds (or four or five tablespoons of beans) in a pint jar and soak them overnight in triple their volume of water. This soaking should be done in a dark place (such as a kitchen cabinet) and the water should be warm (70 to 80°) and free of chlorine or fluorine (which can sterilize the tender embryo). The smaller seeds—alfalfa, clover, and so forth—will sprout without this overnight soak, but doing so won’t hurt them.

Pour the water off the next morning and save it to add to fruit juices or use as stock (it’s loaded with water-soluble vitamins and minerals). The seeds will have doubled in size and should be rinsed carefully to prevent mold.

Leave the swelling little packets of life in their jar after rinsing, cap the container with either cloth or screen wire as described earlier, invert the jar at a 45 degree angle in a big bowl, and set your sprouter back in the cupboard.

The last two steps are very important.

Germinating seeds will sour and rot if left standing in water, so by tipping the sprouter upside down at the specified angle, you’ll always be certain the developing shoots drain well after each rinsing. Similarly, since sunlight toughens the miniplants, you’ll ensure yourself the tenderest and tastiest harvest by growing your garden in total or near darkness Keep the cupboard vegetable patch warm (room temperature to 90°) and try to flush some fresh water into and out of the jar every four to six hours. No need to follow a slavish schedule on this maintenance, however, if you’re out of the house or apartment all day. A quick rinse twice every twenty-four hours (once in the morning and once at night) works almost as well.

In three to six days, depending on temperature and seed variety, your sprouts will again have doubled or tripled in volume and turned themselves into both tasty and nourishing victuals. The greater number of shoots are at peak vitamin potency sixty to eighty hours after germinating, but personal preferences in taste, texture, and appearance may persuade you to let yours grow longer.

Soybeans, peas, and alfalfa are about right when their sprouts are 2 to 3 inches long. Grain shoots should be eaten when much shorter—about the length of the kernel itself—or they’re somewhat bitter. Sunflower sprouts also develop a rather unpleasant tang when they exceed the length of the seeds from which they develop. The lentil sprout is best when about an inch long, while shoots from the mild-flavored mung bean (the mainstay of Chinese cooking) may be allowed to reach a length of 3 or 4 inches before harvest.

By the way, some people fastidiously pluck the hull from each sprout before serving but that’s a waste of time and good nutrition—eat the whole shebang!

The Giveaway

The publisher of the Mother Earth News Almanac has reserved three copies for three lucky readers in this latest Prepper Book Festival giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific Tuesday with the winners notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article. Please note that the winners must claim their book within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

Note: Due to customs requirements, this giveaway is only open to individuals with a mailing address in the United States.

The Final Word

I hope you have enjoyed this small taste of the Mother Earth News Almanac. Okay okay, pun intended.

Seriously, if you want to learn how to plant a tree without killing it, or simply how to unstick two glasses, this is the book for you. Lavishly illustrated, you are going to want to sit down and read it from cover to cover because you just never know when one of the snippets of wisdom may come in handy.

As the back cover says, some the ideas in this book are extremely practical and wonderfully old-timey. Others are just plain fun, such as instructions for building homemade kites. I love this book and think you will, too. It is perfect for preppers and anyone else interested in a DIY lifestyle.

For more information about the books in this latest book festival, visit Prepper Book Festival #12: The Best Books to Help You Prepare, Stay Healthy and Be Happy.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.


Spotlight: Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons

Mother Earth News Almanac is back and is refreshed and ready for the next generation of self-sufficient makers and DIYers.

The 1970s classic has been out of print for years. Now, updated for today’s readers and back in print, its information is as useful as ever. It contains instructions and illustrations for everything from harnessing solar energy to cultivating a sustainable garden to learning how to keep bees. Simply put, Mother Earth News Almanac is designed to empower readers to be self-sufficient.

You will find that the Mother Earth News Almanac is a seasonal guide with subject matter that every passionate DIYer, homesteader, or environmentally aware reader can appreciate. There are recipes, money-saving tips, and homesteading techniques such as illustrated directions for tying a timber hitch, cat’s-paw, sheepshank, and other knots; folk medicine treatments and preventatives; tips on raising chickens and keeping bees; plans for building three kinds of kites; complete instructions for fast and easy compost; and much, much more!

The simple life doesn’t have to be hard–not when you have this timeless almanac.

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80 Responses to “Prepper Book Festival 12: Mother Earth News Almanac”

  1. I save all crumbs from crackers, bread bags, cereal, the cutting board from slicing bread, the ‘nut dust’ from bagged nuts and even the toaster crumb tray in one jar to use whenever crumbs are needed. Surprising how fast it all adds up and it adds a delicious taste to anything I make with them.

  2. This book seems like a great mix of hardcore useful information and plain old fun which would be perfect for a prepper when SHTF! I would love to add this to my library!

  3. My dad used to pour “old” but not flat cola in his toilet tank, let it sit and it would, I kid you not, clean the tank where the water goes for flushing. He said it’s what his mother used to do. Something to do with the carbonation? He was on a septic/well system. Since we stopped drinking soda pop years ago I haven’t had the chance to try it in my toilets

  4. Save your egg shells and grind them up in an old blender or food processor and feed them back to your chickens to give them calcium which makes their eggs stronger. Or put them around your tomato plants to help prevent blossom end rot. Tomatoes love calcium rich soil.

  5. I mix egg shells, banana peels, and coffee grounds, to add to my tomato plants, which I grow in large pots. You can add sawdust from untreated lumber, mixed into your soil to help with water retention. It cuts down the amount, and frequency, of your watering needs. Growing carrots around your tomatoes, helps both plants do better. We also slice our carrots with a peeler, to add to salads, and stir fried food. Add them last, just before you remove the food from the heat.

  6. I have always enjoyed the Mother Earth News information…
    It is so interesting and old-timey, and down to earth…
    Cheers! Robert Sutphen

  7. I save all of the bar soap slivers along with those little bars from hotel stays. I use a cheese grater to grate into small pieces. When I have a load of really dirty jeans I add a couple of tablespoons of the grated soap along with the regular detergent, works like a charm.

  8. This would be a great book to add to my collection. Always looking to glean information from sources to compile to solve problems and how-to’s.

  9. Wonder if this book has any suggestions for repelling rodents. I just took my car in for some work yesterday and they found the air filter completely chewed up! Going to have to set some traps in the garage now where all my preps are. 🙁

    • My dad had a similar problem with the squirrels chewing the wires under the hood of his truck. An old sock filled with moth balls hanging off the engine every night keeps them away. May work in your case also.

  10. I soak all my fresh berries in a solution of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 quarts water for about 10 minutes. Then they are gently rinsed and patted dry on a terry cloth towel and refrigerated. The vinegar soak kills off the mold spores and they stay fresh in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. I started this after 4 boxes of fresh raspberries turned fuzzy on the counter overnight. Now no more fuzz 🙂

  11. Save your bacon grease in jars stored in the refrigerator- you can use them as emergency candles when you add a wick, or for cooking.

  12. Harvest acorns and paint them orange for pumpkins or Jack-O-Lanterns. Or make Santa faces, painting the cap red and adding a small white pom pom for the tip. Add fishing line and hang on your Christmas tree. I’ve always enjoyed Mother Earth News magazine.

  13. I love books like this, as well as all the comments that have been posted – you can learn so much! I’m at a loss to come up with an “old timey” hint/tip. 🙁

    • you can borrow this one that i learned from my mom. it makes beans (pinto, kidney, navy etc) much less likely to give you gas. cover beans with water, bring to a boil. throw in a palmful of baking soda and boil again. let it boil a minute or so (it creates a weird-looking greenish foam), then rinse the beans thoroughly, cover with fresh water, and cook as usual. my mom was from the smoky mountains, where beans are a staple, and we ate them often. my favorite childhood meal was pinto beans poured over crumbled cornbread, with a green salad on the side. no, i know nothing about the state of your digestion, but when i read your comment this popped into my mind, LOL!

  14. Chapped, dirty gardener’s hands? Pour a spoonful of table salt and the same amount of cooking oil into one palm. Rub all over hands, rinse, and dry.

  15. I have 1 issue saved from my teen years. I’m in my 60’s now. The only piece of advise (or hint) I can offer is something my maternal grandmother said quite often, and has been ingrained in my own life: Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make Do, or Do Without.

  16. I’ll try for a third time since it keeps saying ‘Duplicate comment’. My only piece of advise (or hint) passed onto me countless times from my maternal grandmother: Use it Up, Wear it Out, Make Do, or Do Without.

  17. This book probably contains some of the same wisdom passed down from my Grandmother, who grew up in a shack in the Virginia mountains.

  18. From an OLD Mother Earth News Almanac:for a stick to your ribsfarm breakfast, make a cornmeal porridge the night before. Pour it into a bread (loaf) pan. The next day, slice the firm product into thin slices and fry until crispy in a little butter or bacon grease.

    • yes. there’s nothing like fried leftover grits for breakfast. my hillbilly grandmother fried them in her cast iron skillet which she never washed–just wiped it out. she saved bacon grease in a can and used it for frying everything. yum.

  19. Thanks again for choosing me as a winner in the Mason Jar Nation give away. Now for the bad news, you have left me wanting more, again thanks.

  20. Can you sprout chia seeds using the method above? Thanks for the article and the “new” Mother Earth update, which is always an interesting read!

  21. If you aren’t in a baking mood, freeze mushy bananas before they go completely off to use later in banana bread.

  22. I love mother Earth! Up until about 6 years ago, I had every issue. Then a major water mess ruined them! Now I have them on disk. Would love to have the Almanac! Lots of good stuff in there!

  23. For an air freshener without all the chemicals, mix 1 cup of white vinegar in 2 cups of warm water, add to spray bottle. Gets rid of strong odors. Thanks.

  24. Fill a mug 1/3 full of blackberry brandy and 2/3 full hot water add honey if desired for a cold or flu. Also works as a preventive measure if a relative/coworker/friend or their kids get sick. According to my in laws blackberry brandy can do anything short of regrowing limbs.

    Taken blackberry brandy as a preventive measure after bring your (sick) kid to work day and was the only one in the office that didn’t get sick.

  25. Living in harmony with the seasons has become a lost art which many of us may never be able to learn. Society as a whole has become artificial and the natural environment has become foreign to us. Much at fault starts with the manner in which houses are built and the established ‘norms’ of front and back yards which are enforced by city rules and regulations. there are just too many rules and regulations. Sadly more restrictive are the attitudes of people in that they have become incredibly intolerant. This is what I believe leads to living un-naturally. People need to learn to live and let live. People need to get less thin-skinned and up-tight about varying and differing beliefs in religion and politics. so what if other people believe differently – we need to embrace difference not get enraged and want to fight about it. Life is so short and nature is beautiful and wondrous and needs to be appreciated and lived in to the fullest we are able.

  26. If you should happen to have wood rats/pack rats move in on you, instead of poison use traps. Find a piece of stove pipe about 2.5 feet long and put a large trap in each end of it. Anchor the traps securely. Rats can’t resist a tunnel! Just be sure to check your traps regularly.

  27. If you have a very busy week ahead and don’t want to be facing cooking a large dinner or doing fast food every night, cook up a lb or two (depending on family size) of lean ground meat with onions to your family’s taste. Add in a can (or equivalent)of black beans per lb. of meat, drain and refrigerate. This mixture makes it quick and easy to pull together innumerable meals during the week–omelets, tacos, burritos, spaghetti, macaroni, casseroles–even stirred in with drained Ramen noodles with a touch of ketchup and melted cheese on top. : )

  28. great wealth of knowledge. One tip-use a bottle of cola o help with a compile. The phosphoric acid in the cola and the sugars will enhance microbial growth

  29. Would love to add this to my library of books for homesteading and gardening. We like to save veges and then use in a soup when we get enough of them.

  30. I rarely buy containers for storage since I keep the ones I get. Like saving oat containers and buying bulk oats to refill them. Some of the plastic containers like shampoo bottles, etc, can be cut with an xacto knife and fashioned into helpful non-food holders too–a good craft project as well.

  31. The nostalgia of mother earth returns – been away too long – so the book would be wonderful to get me back on that track –

  32. I had always been told by my grandfather that popping open a can of coke and pouring it over corroded battery terminals would clean them in a pinch. Just had the opportunity to try it on my teenage neighbor’s battery. It worked!! Plus I just became his new best friend. I’m sure he’ll tire of that in about another week when he discovers I’m not as cool as he originally thought-LOL

  33. What great tips! Pour hot water from cooking corn on the cob onto weeds to kill them easily. Thanks for the giveaway.

  34. The new MOther Earth News will go on TOP of my stash as a daily reference. It will be right there with my essential cookbook for whatever the day brings. Thanks for the ice pack recipe, Gaye. As always, one step ahead of me and saving me tons of research time. Have a wonderful day. PS: I’m old as dirt too; an early on subscriber to Mother Earth.

  35. I love, love, love Mother Earth News. This publication has made my brain wheels spin and helped in creating the oasis I now currently live in. Much to my hubby’s chagrin, I stop the presses and sit to browse over Mother Earth News. It takes me a few days to read it cover to cover because I get so many ideas. Hubby says it’s the only time I sit down. LOL

  36. My Dad always gave us the Blackberry flavored Brandy cure mentioned above for sore throats, colds, etc. He would always give himself a preventive dose just to be sure he didn’t catch whatever we had!

  37. When soaking dried beans before cooking, put some powdered ginger in the water to decrease the “gassiness” of the beans after eating them.
    Coca Cola – pour over corroded battery terminals to dissolve the corrosion. Also, can pour over a windshield that has gotten lots of road oil on it. Be sure to rinse car well after wiping the windshield so that there’s no damage to the paint on the car.

  38. Love all your give-a-ways and did win one in the past. Always try to sign up for the new ones and would love to win again. Thanks for all the information it is very helpful and all the new items to look in to.

  39. Not sure how old-timey it is, but I don’t hear much about companion planting anymore. The idea is to find two plants that help reinforce each others growth (roses love garlic or tomatoes love basil), or refrain from planting two plants together (beans hate beets or carrots hate dill) that are antagonistic. I frequently sneak a clove of garlic next to each of my rose bushes but no matter how well it might do, I have to remember it’s not for consumption!

  40. Every single one of us here should most definetly by composting our kitchen scraps as well as our garden clippings and shredded paper, etc. Better yet, we should be “vermicomposting” which is composting with the use of redworms as the clean up crew!
    This process is great for the environment by cutting out the middle man needed to haul your organics away, hence, less fuel used to haul it.
    It decreases the landfill and allows us to make prime soil or “black gold” right at home. The stuff u can grow with this crap is a site to behold!
    Contrary to the belief of many a lazy, maker of excuses, it does not promote or invite pests or vermin , any more than normal, and it’s great to have a multi-beneficial, “Organic garbage disposal” in our possession, where we allow nature to reward us by doing what it does constantly anyway, only its at your house!
    It’s a fun thing to teach your kids and lastly it is such an easy way for everyone to actually be part of a solution rather than continue to be part of the problem! One of many that is!

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