Guerilla Survival

Guerilla Survival

Monday 14 February 2022

Seeds & Stuff

I start to grow seeds in early January; this year started with tomatoes, onions, leeks, lettuce and peas. This is done by keeping the seeds-trays inside the house, in a store-room I have ready to go after Yuletide. We are now in the middle of February, and I have started to put some of the trays outside in a mini-greenhouse in the daytime - to start to harden them off. They are taken back inside the house overnight, just in case of frost. 


I use this size of seed-tray, and have had these for years now, even though they are not exactly strong - but they work. 

These two trays have tomatoes in them; they have been put outside in the mini-greenhouse to start to harden them off. 

Now is the time to chit potatoes; I use egg-boxes since this is something that I eat a lot. Save them up throughout the year for use in the early winter. These are First Early, Second Early and Maincrop - though the main crop do not really need to be chatted. 

This is a bed of garlic, planted last December; garlic thrive on a cold start and this is the best time of year to plant the bulbs. At the back of the bed is a fennel plant growing again this year.

The above tray of leeks was planted in early January; you can see here that I use plastic supermarket trays which I collect from various people to use for the seed-sowing. This has saved a great deal of money having to buy the cheap plastic trays which usually break quickly. These are mushroom and tomato trays mainly, and most supermarkets use them so there is an endless supply. (This is why I do not moan about the use of these since they can be 'home-recycled' to make good use of them.)

I do a friend's garden and he has a large Rosemary Bush which needed trimming last year; I planted up a host of trimmings - merely scraping the base of the stems - and around 90% of them rooted and are now growing well. Rosemary is one of the easiest to take and plant cuttings of - no point in buying them.

The raised beds in the garden have been dug over ready for planting, the small poly-tunnel cleaned out, and a small plastic-covered mini-greenhouse put in place ready for planting later. Good-to-Go!

Sunday 6 February 2022

Solo Overnight in a Woodland


I have just come back from an overnight wild-camping trip to a woodland in West Sussex. Yesterday was fine and sunny which meant that I was able to get on with the stuff that I needed to do uninterrupted, though the forecast for today was very bad and wet weather. The first thing that I did was to get a fire ready to start so as to air the shelter out, since it has not been used for a while now. To do this needs preparation, getting together the amount of kindling needed to start the fire off; I had brought with me some fire-lighters just in case because the weather had been wet last week.

There was enough wood in the wood-store to start off with, which I had cut and stored the last time I went over to the woods. This saved a lot of time for a start, but more would be needed for the night. The fire was kept going through the day, even though it was not that cold, but it helped to air out the shelter and overnight kit left there.

One of the first things I had to do was to start up the old truck that stands there, which had not been started up for some time now. Although the first kick of the starter was a bit sluggish it started up straight away. The truck is used to move stuff around the woodland.

The truck battery was a little down on charge but not too much considering that it is not a new battery. The sun shone during the day so I used a 100 Watt Solar-Charger to try to bring the charge up a bit. This one is a foldable, very light charger with everything connected on it, and just needs clipping onto the battery terminals. I carry this in the car all of the time, but it is also used (with another) at home too since I do use 12volt to charge phones etc. The point here is that such things double as everyday useful items and emergency kit. 

As you can see here, the battery was only one bar down; in the summer months with full sunshine I have charged this right up in about an hour, but in winter time it takes longer due to less sun strength. When the alternator went on the truck a couple of years ago I kept it going locally by taking the solar-charger and putting it on for an hour whilst I was stopped and doing a job. 

When doing an overnight camp it is essential that a good stock of logs is cut so as to get through the night. This small fire borns down very quickly, especially since it was a windy evening. I had a very rough night with the rain, and the fact the shelter needs some work now, letting the wind and some wet in too. Although I stocked the fire with logs and turned in about 10.00 (I was very tired after doing a lot of work on the site) the fire was out by 1.00. I don't stock it during the night because we had a tarp over the front of the shelter to help to keep the wind out. The shelter was letting in some wet where Sam (my dog) was sleeping, so I got up at 5.30am to build the fire up - it had gone completely out by then, just a faint ember. Sam had my sleeping-bag around him to get warm and the fire was soon going...but....

Although I had cut lots of wood on the Saturday, there was hardly anything left by the Sunday morning, and it was chucking it down with rain, and had been most of the night. Everything outside was soaking wet, so I used what I had to start the fire, and had to use some of the wooden slats for the base of the log-store which were dry. Had to get out in the rain to get some long branches to cut up using a Bahco Folding Saw. This was something that I should have done on the Saturday when it was dry but I tried to do other stuff instead - big mistake! This is one very important point, to stock up enough wood to go through the night and into the next morning too - it gets coldest near dawn. 

This is the shelter we used to sleep in, with a tarp-porch over the fire and covering the wood-store. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that the tarp was put up as a temporary measure last year and it is not quite big enough to stop the rain getting into the whole area around the front of the shelter. But it has reminded me of what I have to do next! The tarp was tied to the coppiced chestnut trees around the site, so I took it down before leaving this morning because the wind may do some damage in time, and the tarp is quite a good solid one which I can used again. 

What I usually do is to make tea on a gas-stove, and cook food either on the stove or when cooking a full meal on an old barbecue that I was given and took to the site some years ago. We cook with wood and not charcoal, since the site is covered in wood - of course. What I did this time was to take an old Coleman Twin-Fuel Stove which I have had for many years and which ended up in the shed not being used, until I found it and decided to try to fix it. The stove had a fault and would not go, which was the reason I chucked it in the shed and forgot it; however, seeing them now costing around £120.00 (I paid about half that when I bought it) I retrieved it and found out that it could be fixed for about £20.00 - so I fixed it, and it works perfectly on unleaded petrol. 

The advantage with a petrol stove is that it is very fast and not affected by the cold weather, as gas is in the main. It boils water very fast and gets very hot; it cooks food a treat. These Coleman Stoves are mad in the USA which is what they are so good I suppose. I don't think this has changed much from the time I got it, only having a different filler-cap I think. You can easily take spare fuel in a fuel-bottle, which I carry with my cooking kit.

This was a new experiment that I did, making an 'awning' for the back of the Land-Rover; not quite as good as I had thought! I fixed the tarp to two magnetic clips on each side of the car, but during the night, with the high winds, they moved and the whole thing collapsed at the back of the motor. I had hoped that it would be there and up for the morning when it was raining, but I had to put the whole thing back together in the rain - which somehow negates the object of the procedure. Anyway, another lesson learned - we have to learn by our mistakes, and that is why it is so important to get out and practice - train and educate oneself. There is no point whatever in getting into a situation where it is really vital to have something like this, and then finding the mistakes then. Better to train and practice, and to learn the lesson before it is needed in an emergency. 

Anyway, due to the problem with the magnets, it would have been far better to have tied the front of the tarp to the roof-rack on the top, and not using elastic but paracord. The elastic stretches and the poles come loose; these also needed guy-ropes to back and side. However, it was bloody windy that night so not really surprising something like that would happen. 

I now carry water in a LIFESAVER JERRY-CAN which not only carries the water but has a filter that purifies it almost 99%. I filled it with tap-water before I left and this cleans and filters out the chemicals too. Now, these cost new around £300.00 which is very expensive, but I got mine for half that price because it is 'shop-soiled' (it was just dusty and a scratch - no more). The thing is with this, although it seems very expensive it can double for everyday use. This one will clean and purify some 10,000 litres before needing a filter-change, which means that I would not use it enough as an 'emergency back-up', so I use it to clean and purify the tap-water which smells of chlorine when used straight from the tap. Rather than buying a household filter-system, here we have a transportable water-purification system that will do in the house, and for any emergency that crops up. They were designed for emergency use after the Far Eastern Tsunami, when water was contaminated. 

Note: I keep a fully-charged spare battery on the back, with a 12 volt light system which clips to the battery. The light is fixed to the top of the battery with 'sticky-strips' (that is the technical term for these). I have another 12-volt battery which is inside a power-box which I use at home for charging phones etc. This also goes with me on longer trips. These can be used for a spare battery for the car if the one on it discharges. But they double to power other things too - I feel that this is the best way to do things, then they are worth the money. 

The cooking gear is stored in a blue council-container (discontinued before you say anything); here I carry the pots and pans needed, plates, knives, forks, spoons, small water-containers, gas-stove and petrol-stove and fuel bottle. This fits into one container that can simply be taken out of the car for use. It can be stored in the car overnight, which I did because of the heavy rain due. On this occasion I did not take a lot with me, only my overnight kit, cooking gear and a chain-saw to cut wood quickly. 

This is the fire in the evening, really hot and blazing quickly due to the winds which always make fires burn quickly. This is why plenty of wood is needed, stocked up to last through the night if necessary; since this was not strictly-speaking an open-fronted shelter (had a small tarp across the front, though the top foot was open) the fire was not needed all night. One tip for this type of shelter is that a few small candles or night-lights kept burning during the night will at least keep the temperature above freezing in cold weather - have tried this before and it does work. 

The tripod just shown here is made for putting over the fire to hang a cooking-pot from; this has been very useful in the past to not only cook but to boil a large saucepan of water for washing up and washing oneself when doing a few days wild camping. A stew-pot can be hung on this for a group-camp, something I may well try this year.

Doing this type of thing at this time of year shows up some of the flaws in what we do; the cold, wet, windy weather is a challenge that makes one think and have to put right things that can go wrong. I also open the eyes to what we would have to put up with were we to be forced into doing things like this; in fact it makes me think what I would really do if this were to have to be done, but not just an 'overnight' thing but for a longer time period - this would be a mighty problem no doubt for most of us! This is a problem we face here in England at this time, since much of the winter is cold, wet and windy, and to get through for a longer period of time does not really bear thinking about. But, and we should always keep this in mind, our forefathers had to do this all of the time!