Rick Austin

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since Apr 25, 2015
Rick Austin is known as the Survivalist Gardener, and is a preparedness, homesteading and off grid living expert.

He is the author of Secret Garden of Survival-How to Grow a Camouflaged Food Forest which is now the #1 Best Selling book in Garden Design.

Rick is also the author of the Secret Greenhouse of Survival, How to Build the Ultimate Homestead and Prepper Greenhouse.

Rick is a nationally recognized speaker on survival preparedness and has been featured on National Geographic Channel’s Doomsday Castle, Doomsday Preppers, the documentary film Beyond Off Grid, as well as in Newsweek, American Survival Guide, Prepper &Shooter, Prepare Magazine,  and in Mother Earth News (three times).

You can also hear Rick on his #1 rated radio show-  Secrets of a Survivalist  -on the #1 Preparedness Radio Network, where each week he talks with the world’s best survival experts that share their own secrets of survival
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Recent posts by Rick Austin

Nicole Alderman wrote:I just wanted to thank you, Rick, for stopping by and imparting your knowledge about forest gardens. I very much appreciate your help!



No problem Nicole. Glad to do it.
4 years ago

Xisca Nicolas wrote:That is super great!
What I do not understand: why secret and camouflaged? What do you mean?

And what is your climate?



See my website home page www.SecretGardenOfSurvival.com and that should answer your questions about the "secret" and "camouflaged" aspect of the garden... suffice it to say that it looks like overgrown underbrush, not like a "pretty" garden... but this is the way nature has grown things for millions of years... It looks natural.. it looks like nature...so no one would even know you have food growing there.

In answer to the climate question, you can grow food this way all over the US (and really most of the world for that matter)... I have used this in New England and I have used this in Florida... the only difference is the basic trees and the species of other plants... If you are in New England, you are growing apples and pears as the central trees- and in Florida you are growing citrus.

4 years ago

Alex Veidel wrote:This sounds like a fantastic book!



Thanks Alex... I tried to make it simple, easy to read, and with lots of pictures... I know from my own experience that most permaculture books are 400+ pages, and with so much information, so many charts, and so many terms and Latin names, that it makes one's head spin...

Mine is more like a "cookbook" for how to do it all, step by step...

Rick.
4 years ago

Teretta Owen wrote:I don't understand how to put in terraces, or swales if the ground is level. How far down are you talking about digging? We actually have access to a tractor my dad is letting us borrow to move some mulch that we got from a tree cutting company and are putting it down like Paul says in his You Tube video about Back to Eden Gardening. Thanks for any info. In your book I only read about good bugs and bad bugs, deer, squirrels, rabbits, but nothing about moles, voles, or gophers. I'll have to look again. I didn't see that the book said anything about removing grass either, but instead a clean slate. I'm just a goober I guess, but I do want to do this and do it right.



Teretta:

My book does talk about using fish scale swales if you have flat land...terracing is optimal, and also helps you use land that otherwise would not be thought of as "usable" garden land...

I did a consulting job for a guy in OK, and he had relatively flat land, but it did have a bit of a slope, and I recommended terraces that were wide and not that deep to allow for water collection for the perennial plants.

The terraces/berms also act as a form of Hugelkulture, in that we put old trees, logs, debris under the berms, to not only build up the soil, but to add long lasting nutrients to otherwise "dead soil", like clay.

In the book about a number of ways to eliminate rodents... one is using hot pepper flakes...I also discuss in the Welcome Back Rick Austin thread some tips for pest control here on permies.
4 years ago

In my book the Secret Garden of Survival I talk extensively about this, as well as on my YouTube channel.

I grow countless "weeds" that grow naturally in my area... from spiny lettuce to sows ear, and MANY more. All those weeds help make the soil more fertile, and keep the microorganisms healthy...

I never pull the weeds out by the roots, but rather, I am always cutting them off and throwing them over the fence to the goats (while fruit and nut growing season is in peak)... After growing season is over I let the goats into my garden and they feed on fallen leaves, weeds, etc... so they also do any "trimming" of my plants... such as, the goats will also eat blackberries leaves/ bushes and keep those trimmed back...

I also purposely grow alfalfa, wheat and oats for the goats... the goats love the wheat grass and they love the oat grass even more... I let some of it go to seed, for our own consumption and for planting the next year... Of course alfalfa is great for them and it is also a nitrogen fixer for my other garden plants.

The goats love my red clover as well, which is also my base ground cover and nitrogen fixer.

And of course many of the plants can be used to feed my rabbits, including branch trimmings (they eat the leaves and keep their teeth trimmed on the wood.)

My ducks free range throughout my garden (they don't dig up roots like chickens do) and the ducks eat the bugs, slugs, grubs and snails that I otherwise don't want on my plants. They also eat any fallen fruit, like grapes that didn't make it, so that these don't simply rot on the ground attracting more bugs...the ducks also eat some greens so I keep them out of me keyhole vegetable and herb garden, but they do patrol around the entire perimeter of the that area, so they do get to pick up many bugs before they can get to the plants...

And whenever it happens, I take bugs like tomato horn worms and throw them to either my fish or my ducks, so they can turn that "pest control" into protein for me.



4 years ago

Teretta Owen wrote:Do I have to remove grassy top from soil to start a food forest?
How do I keep gophers from food forest? I think it is the million dollar question. I think we may need to get a rodenator. We saw one on YouTube.



Teretta:

The beginning of my Secret Garden of Survival book talks about how to set up the garden in the first place... setting up the proper infrastructure is going to make all the difference in getting everything to work right. Yes, you will have to remove the grass- by scraping it up/ rolling it (you could use it for sod someplace else)...and the cheapest and fastest way to do that will be with a tractor with a blade or backhoe or other equipment that is cheap compared to trying to do all that by hand. (and you can get it done all at once that way -instead of piece meal)

Then you really should put in terraces., swales, and berms and that is also something best suited for heavy equipment... (See my Infrastructure Chapter 8.) Once you remove the top soil (and save it to be spread back on the ground after you set up the terraces) you will dig down into the clay and create the terraces/berms/ swales... When you do that you will destroy all the holes and habitat for those gophers in one fell swoop.

You will "eliminate" them in the process, or they will run off and find someone else to bother.

The backhoe/tractor can then put back the top soil, and after that, then spread out some good decomposed mulch on top of everything.

My backhoe guy - for the entire 1/2 acre garden- cost me $30/hr and he did the entire project in one day-a total of 10 hours- so the whole thing cost me $300. It was a huge time savings and it enabled me to start planting right away.

After you get the infrastructure in place, my book also has a whole chapter on natural pest control that will then keep those critters at bay...

Fencing that area in wouldn't hurt eventually, and having a couple of good garden watch dogs that will chase out anything that tries to get through, around, under or over the fence, would help as well.

Rick Austin
author


Joined: Apr 25, 2015
Posts: 29

3
4 years ago

Teretta Owen wrote:I got the book today " Secret Garden of Survival". I love all the info in it but need more info that wasn't included. We live in Oklahoma and have LOTS!!! of gophers and moles that are devastating our lawn and previous garden. We pulled everything up that was in the previous garden such as asparagus and strawberries, and put landscaping wire under it and replanted, but I want to plant a food forest. I am afraid the gophers and moles will devastate it like they did my last garden in pulling plants under the ground and eating them and destroying the rest. Is there any way to run them off naturally? I have put out traps and shot some but haven't made a dent on their activity and destruction. If I put the effort into moving trees and grapes to the new location I would be heart broke and very irritated if it happened again. I also want to know if starting from a clean slate means removing the grass from the top of the soil. We don't have a tree forest to remove but instead have a level lawn to turn into a food forest.
Thanks for the dream of a food forest cause I know we are gonna need it



Teretta:

The beginning of the book talks about how to set up the garden in the first place... setting up the proper infrastructure is going to make all the difference in getting everything to work right. Yes, you will have to remove the grass- by scraping it up/ rolling it (you could use it for sod someplace else)...and the cheapest and fastest way to do that will be with a tractor with a blade or backhoe or other equipment that is cheap compared to trying to do all that by hand. (and you can get it done all at once that way -instead of piece meal)

Then you really should put in terraces., swales, and berms and that is also something best suited for heavy equipment... (See my Infrastructure Chapter 8.) Once you remove the top soil (and save it to be spread back on the ground after you set up the terraces) you will dig down into the clay and create the terraces/berms/ swales... When you do that you will destroy all the holes and habitat for those gophers in one fell swoop.

You will "eliminate" them in the process, or they will run off and find someone else to bother.

The backhoe/tractor can then put back the top soil, and after that, then spread out some good decomposed mulch on top of everything.

My backhoe guy - for the entire 1/2 acre garden- cost me $30/hr and he did the entire project in one day-a total of 10 hours- so the whole thing cost me $300. It was a huge time savings and it enabled me to start planting right away.

After you get the infrastructure in place, my book also has a whole chapter on natural pest control that will then keep those critters at bay...

Fencing that area in wouldn't hurt eventually, and having a couple of good garden watch dogs that will chase out anything that tries to get through, around, under or over the fence, would help as well.
4 years ago

Nicole Alderman wrote:Hi Rick! (And anyone else who responds!)

I was wondering if you had any edible plants that do well in a rather shady coniferous forest. About an acre of my property is shaded woods, with an over canopy of hemlocks with some cedars and a few big leaf maples. In the under story, there are ferns and some huckleberries growing out of stumps, and maybe a few straggly salmonberry and thimbleberries. Not much else grows in there. While I enjoy huckleberries, I would love to sneak in some other edibles, but I don't know what else would grow there. I don't have the time, money or resources to cut down trees, and I do love the appearance of wild forest, but I would love to get more food out of that piece of our property. Any ideas?

Thanks!



Nicole:

Not sure where you live exactly (what zone, what state, what elevation) but if you have huckleberries growing there, I would think you could grow low bush blueberries - especially on the edges of the canopy.

Again, not sure where you live, but ramps, ginseng, goldenseal, may work for you... and of course you could inoculate some fallen trees with mushroom spores and grow that in the shaded area of a tall forest.

You might also consider cutting just a few trees here and there to open up some partly sunny areas within the forest... that gives you a whole lot more opportunities for growth of many more species...
4 years ago

Heather Ward wrote:Rick, is there anything that you grow in your food forest that's intended to feed livestock rather than yourself? Over the last few years I've incorporated patches of alfalfa intended for my chickens and goat, and I coppice some small Siberian elms for the goat, but am very curious about other possibilities.



Lisa:

I grow countless "weeds" that grow naturally in my area... from spiny lettuce to sows ear, and MANY more. All those weeds help make the soil more fertile, and keep the microorganisms healthy...

I never pull the weeds out by the roots, but rather, I am always cutting them off and throwing them over the fence to the goats (while fruit and nut growing season is in peak)... After growing season is over I let the goats into my garden and they feed on fallen leaves, weeds, etc... so they also do any "trimming" of my plants... such as, the goats will also eat blackberries leaves/ bushes and keep those trimmed back...

I also purposely grow alfalfa, wheat and oats for the goats... the goats love the wheat grass and they love the oat grass even more... I let some of it go to seed, for our own consumption and for planting the next year... Of course alfalfa is great for them and it is also a nitrogen fixer for my other garden plants.

The goats love my red clover as well, which is also my base ground cover and nitrogen fixer.

And of course many of the plants can be used to feed my rabbits, including branch trimmings (they eat the leaves and keep their teeth trimmed on the wood.)

My ducks free range throughout my garden (they don't dig up roots like chickens do) and the ducks eat the bugs, slugs, grubs and snails that I otherwise don't want on my plants. They also eat any fallen fruit, like grapes that didn't make it, so that these don't simply rot on the ground attracting more bugs...the ducks also eat some greens so I keep them out of me keyhole vegetable and herb garden, but they do patrol around the entire perimeter of the that area, so they do get to pick up many bugs before they can get to the plants...

And whenever it happens, I take bugs like tomato horn worms and throw them to either my fish or my ducks, so they can turn that "pest control" into protein for me.
4 years ago