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Grow Tomatoes from Seed – Save Money, Get More Varieties

Grow Tomatoes from Seed – Save Money, Get More Varieties

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed - Save money and grow more varieties by starting your own tomato plants. Tips for soil, containers, transplanting and trouble

Tomatoes are the most commonly grown plant in backyard gardens, and with good reason. Nothing beats the flavor of a freshly picked tomato still warm from the sun, and homemade sauces and salsas are amazing. With the recent growth in gardening and interest in non-genetically modified foods, stores are starting to stock more heirloom tomato seed varieties, but they’re only scratching the surface of the dozens of types of seeds that are available. When you grow tomatoes from seed, you can pick varieties that are right for your growing conditions and experiment with many different colors, shapes, sizes and flavors for the same amount of money you’d spend on just a few store plants.How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed - Save money and grow more varieties by starting your own tomato plants. Tips for soil, containers, transplanting and troubleshooting.

Which Potting Soil to Use to Grow Tomatoes from Seed

My personal favorite for potting soil to date is FoxFarm Organic Potting Soil, which contains worm castings and other organic fertilizers right in the mix. You can also make your own potting soil mixes, if you are so inclined.

When Should I Start My Tomato Plants from Seed?

Check out the post When Should I Start My Seeds? Printable seed starting calendar to get a schedule for seed starting, hardening and planting out to the garden.

Containers for Starting Tomato Seedlings

I save the black plastic containers that you get plants in from the greenhouse, and have friends and neighbors save them, too. They fit neatly in seedling trays (and under my grow lights on my seed starting shelves). They also have drainage already built in, which is critical for healthy plants. They last for many years, and stack easily for storage at the end of the season.

Other container options:

  • Make your own containers from rolled newspaper
  • Eggshells (not a fan of these because there’s just not much room for the seedlings to grow)
  • Milk cartons
  • Plastic salad containers (most of these have drainage, which is nice)
  • Juice or juice concentrate containers
  • Grow boxes made from wood
  • Toilet paper tubes
  • Yogurt containers

Basically, if it will hold dirt and allow drainage, you can probably use it to start seeds.

Marking Seedlings

I like to mark my seeds using popsicle sticks broken in half.  I write the name of the variety on both sides of the stick with a ball point pen (in case it gets it gets wet, which it will, generally one side remains readable).  The popsicle sticks are cheap and reasonably durable, and also be tossed in the compost when they are no longer needed.

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed - Save money and grow more varieties by starting your own tomato plants. Tips for soil, containers, transplanting and troubleshooting.

How Deep Should I Plant My Tomato Seeds?

As a rule of thumb, you want to plant seeds roughly three times as deep as the seed is wide, so tiny seeds stay on or near the surface, and larger seeds go a little deeper. 

If your seeds have been in storage, you can do a germination test or pre-sprout the tomato seeds in a coffee filter, but I usually don’t bother.  (Pre-sprouting is discussed in more detail in the comments of Early Greens from the Garden.) 

You may want to do a quick soil test on your potting mix before you start, as many on the market are lacking in key nutrients and/or overloaded with other nutrients. 

Getting the Tomato Seeds to Germinate

Cover the seeds with a clear plastic cover, and put them in a well lit location.  I like to give them a little jump start with a seedling heating mat underneath, since they like a little extra warmth to get going.  I put the heating pad and the lights on a timer, leaving them on for about 16 hours a day and off for the remaining time.   If you’d like some more photos of my planting bench and seed starting setup, take a peek at this post on seed starting.

Can I Use Old Old Tomato Seeds (Left Over from Previous Years)?

Because I plant so many varieties, I end up with leftover seed from year to year.  Tomato seeds generally store quite well  (I have had some last over 10 years), but the germination rates decrease over time.  I made up a simple spreadsheet in Excel where I track date planted, variety, seed source, number of seeds planted, date of first seedling appearance and final number of seedlings.  (You can see the sheet and print your own copy in the post “Simple Record Keeping Tips for the Garden with Printable Seed Starting Chart“. This allows me to compensate for the reduction in germination rates over time. 

Troubleshooting Common Tomato Seeds Starting Problems

Tomato Seedlings Drop Dead

Once you get seedlings popping up, uncover them within the first 24 hours. Keeping them covered can lead to damping off.  Damping off results from fungal infection.  It generally comes from keeping your seedlings too wet.  One day they’ll look fine – then WHAM!  The seedlings are laying there dead. 

Generally the stem shrinks up near ground level, and the soil is very wet.  Sometimes here will be mold or fuzz growing on the surface of the soil.  (Yes, I have made this mistake – it’s not pretty.)  A sprinkle of cinnamon  or a spritz of chamomile tea may help save the remaining seedlings, but once a plant has keeled over, it’s a goner. 

To help prevent damping off, some folks sprinkle sand over the dirt when they plant seeds – just enough to cover the top of the soil – but if you maintain proper moisture levels and good circulation, damping off shouldn’t be a problem.

Tomato Seedlings are Pale or Yellow

If the color of your seedlings is off – check moisture levels.  You want damp soil, not too wet or too dry.  If the moisture level seems fine, try a soil test.  As I mentioned above, some soil mixes are just not right.

Tomato Seedlings are Skinny and Flop Over

If your seedlings are really tall, skinny and floppy (also known as “being leggy”) – chances are your lighting is inadequate.  Try a different location or more artificial lighting.   Putting a fan on a timer and having it blow on the seedlings off and on through the day will also help toughen up stems (and prevent damping off and other diseases – ever wonder why they have those fans running all the time in commercial greenhouses?). 

Alternatively, you can run your hands lightly across the tops of the seedlings from time to time during the day.  Proper lighting is the first step, but movement will help, too.  If you start your tomato plants early and they need to be transplanted into bigger pots one or more times before being planted in the garden, you can plant them deeper than they were previously growing.  (More on this below.)

Seedling Leaf Tips are Stuck Together with the Seed Casing

If you’ve got leaf tips that are pinched together by a seed that didn’t fall off, like this (this plant is an eggplant, not a tomato, but you get the idea).

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed - Save money and grow more varieties by starting your own tomato plants. Tips for soil, containers, transplanting and troubleshooting.

It is okay to gently remove the stuck seed.  Try not to tear the leaf.  This will go a little easier if the seed is moist.

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed - Save money and grow more varieties by starting your own tomato plants. Tips for soil, containers, transplanting and troubleshooting.

As the tomatoes get larger, they can be moved into a greenhouse or cold frame – just make sure to keep them from freezing (preferably between 50-80F).

If you come into your greenhouse and find this:

tomato seedling spill

Plus an empty shelf above:

tomato seedling ledge

And muddy smeared cat footprints at the scene of the crime (because you left the door to the house open to keep the plants from freezing), try not to cry when you see this:

spilled seedlings 1

Or this:

spilled seedlings 2

Yes, the tops and bottoms of these tomatoes have been parted, never to be whole again.  Thankfully, most of the varieties killed were ones that I had in excess.

What’s the Difference Between Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes?

If you end up trying to determine varieties from a scrambled mess of plant material and dirt, here is a comparison of the main types of tomato foliage.  In terms of leaf shape, you have regular leaf (RL) plants and potato leaf (PL) plants.  Growth-wise, you have determinate and indeterminate.

From left to right, we have RL indeterminate, PL indeterminate, and RL determinate.

seedling comparison 1
seedling comparison 2

You can see the RL determinate plant on the left has more, smaller, branched leaves, while the PL determinate plant has fewer, larger leaves.

seedling comparison 3

Comparing indeterminate to determinate, the indeterminate on the left is taller and leggier, while the determinate plant is smaller and stockier.

seedling comparison 4

Indeterminate plants will continue to grow larger and set fruit until frost – mine commonly reach six feet or more in height.  As the end of the season approaches, you may wish to pinch off new growth to focus their energy on maturing existing fruit.  Determinate plants will grow to a more modest size (they often don’t require staking, and thus are generally preferred by commercial growers).  They set all their fruit at roughly the same time and are ready for harvest during a narrow window of time.  Most heirloom varieties are indeterminate, while most modern hybrids are determinate.

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings to Larger Pots for Stronger, Better Plants

I start my seeds in the cell packs with openings that are roughly 1 inch square.  As they grow, I transplant them into larger containers.  First, I’ll move them to two inch containers, then up to three or four inch, depending on how fast they’re growing and how long until I can get them in the garden.

Here’s a cellpack of tomatoes that’s more than ready for transplant.  You can see they’re a bit overcrowded and leggy.  You can generally transplant any time after they get their first “true” leaves (the leaves that look like tomato leaves, not the first little oblong leaves that appear).  I confess, my plants can get a little overgrown before I get to them.

crowded tomato seedlings

I have seen some gardening gurus recommend cutting off the excess seedlings in each cell at ground level with a scissors and keeping only the strongest, but I just can’t bring myself to kill healthy little plants.

Gently pry a group of seedlings out of their cell, pushing up from below as you pull from the base of the plant above.  Ease the roots apart, trying to keep as much soil as possible on the roots.

transplanting tomato seedlings

If you encounter a severely stunted plant (like in the bottom left corner of the photo below),  don’t bother trying to save it – it won’t grow.  Trust me on this.

stunted tomato seedling

Transplant seedlings as deep as possible in their new container.  This will help support the stems.  Yes, it’s okay if bottom leaves are covered.

transplanted tomato seedlings

In a few weeks, I graduate the plants to the larger pots.transplanting seedlingstransplanting seedlings 2

Hardening Off Your Tomato Seedlings

When it’s getting close to the time to plant them outside, I start hardening them off.  “Hardening off” plants is the process of gently introducing them to the outside elements to toughen them up enough to survive in the garden.  You want to take it slow, or you’ll end up killing all your little seedlings (again, trust me on this). 

I prefer to harden them off over 3-4 days, starting them out with no more than an hour or two of direct sun the first day and increasing exposure each day.  Make sure they are protected from the wind and adequately watered when you set them out.  A little extra TLC at this point goes a long way.

Planting Tomatoes in the Garden

When you plant them in the garden, I prefer deeper holes over shallow trenches (in my climate and location).  Planting deep (just leaving a few inches of leaves exposed above ground) will yield a more robust, more drought tolerant plant.  The plant will send out new roots from the buried stem. 

I add a small handful of crushed eggshells to the planting hole to help prevent blossom end rot, which is caused by inadequate calcium levels and is generally made worse by fluctuating moisture levels in the soil.  Tomatoes like rich soil, so I also add some well rotted manure or worm castings, but you don’t want to add too much (a shovel full per planting hole is enough).  Too much nitrogen will give you too many leaves and not enough tomatoes. 

I also mulch, trellis and often add a soaker hose under the mulch for watering. To get the full scoop on planting and TLC for your best tomato crop ever, visit How to Grow Lots of Tomatoes Organically, Plus Innovative Gardening Techniques.

You may also enjoy:

How to Grow Tomatoes from Seed - Save money and grow more varieties by starting your own tomato plants. Tips for soil, containers, transplanting and troubleshooting.

Originally published in 2011, updated January 2016.

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Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman

Learn to make your own homemade weapons so you’ll have a fighting chance in a survival situation where all you have is nature.

 [You Get One FREE] Weird Little Knife Drives TSA Crazy!

How to Make Homemade Weapons

Why Should You Learn to Make Homemade Weapons?

Let’s say you got lost in the wild, and you somehow forgot or lost your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT (or whichever is the best survival knife for you). What do you do?

While your situation is most likely not quite as bad as Tom Hanks had it in Castaway, let’s face it. The only way you’re gonna get out of this situation in good shape is to let out your inner caveman.

Let me explain. Our very primitive ancestors lived in a time when every day was a survival situation. Any tools or weapons they needed had to be made from scratch.

So, should you be unlucky enough to have only the shirt on your back while you’re lost in the wilderness, you’ll have to follow suit. Let the training of your inner caveman begin.

Today’s lesson: how to make DIY weapons in the wild with only the resources nature provided you.

How to Make a Knife | Homemade Weapons

Having a knife, any kind of knife is probably one of the best things to happen should you suddenly find yourself in a survival situation. You can use it to help you find food, build a shelter, and defend yourself against wild animals.

So it’s highly fortunate nature is waiting like a momma at a craft table with lots of materials you can use to create one.

1. Stone Knives

Bone, shell, bamboo, wood, or even an old aluminum beer can may work to perform the puncturing function of a blade. You know you’ve seen these a million times when you’re out hiking.

They’re easy to crack or break or shape into a fairly sharp point which will do in a pinch. Unfortunately, you’re not going to be able to use a chicken bone or an expertly-shaped aluminum can point to skin, chop, baton, or any of the other necessary functions of a survival knife.

This is where the stone comes into play. I’ll start by saying making a knife out of stone isn’t easy, but it can be done.

You’ll need three things: a core rock, a hammerstone, and a pressure flaker. Remember, you’re going to be smashing these together in true caveman fashion.

So, having stones you can reasonably grip in each hand is going to make your life a lot easier. Although, it’s definitely an option to stand poised over one rock smashing down on it.

You, with a two-hand grip, pounding until you’ve chipped away at it a bit. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

2. The Core Rock

rock formation background | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

The core rock is what you’ll be making into a blade. Find any large stone, preferably made from obsidian, slate, chert, or flint with a relatively flat side.

In case you weren’t a rock collector in any of your previous lives, here’s another way to decide if a rock meets the requirements for good knife-making material. Tap or click a rock together with another rock and listen for a ringing sound (like glass).

The more rock sounds like glass, the better it is as a material for your core rock. If you can, choose a rock which is already a bit sharp to reduce the amount of time you’ll need to shape it.

3. The Hammerstone

The hammerstone is a medium-sized, spherical rock, preferably made of granite. It will be used to smash, chisel, chip and shape the core rock.

You’ll be using it to chip off pieces of the core stone and to narrow the edges to a blade shape.

RELATED: How To Keep Your Edge | Knife Sharpener

4. The Pressure Flaker

The pressure flaker, or flaking tool, is a rock with a sharp point to help you refine the blade’s edges. You’ll use your flaking tool after you’ve thinned the edges of the stone with the hammer stone to make the “blade” sharper.

When you start making your knife, you’ll want to be sure to wet the core stone to shorten the time it takes to shape it into a blade. Begin by striking glancing blows near the edge of the core rock with the hammerstone.

Chip away at the core rock until you get the general shape of a blade. Then, use the flaking tool to refine the edges you need to sharpen.

You can also use a stone with a rough surface such as a sandstone to sharpen the edge. Use some rope, cloth, or leather to lash the base and create a handle.

If you are having troubling shaping the rock into a knife, you can opt to create stone blades instead. Check out the videos below to learn how:

Part One:

Part Two:

How to Make a Spear | Homemade Weapons

south african zulu spear | Homemade Weapons You Can DIY To Awaken Your Inner Caveman | homemade weapons | deadliest ancient weapons

We’ve talked about how to make a spear using your best survival knife in a previous article. The same principle applies here.

Even without your Cold Steel Leatherneck Tanto 39LSFT or whichever survival knife you normally bring with you, you can still make a spear using your newly made stone knife. To make a spear, you’ll need to find a five-foot-long stick tough enough to endure repeated short or long-distance throws.

  1. First, pick the end of the stick which has a more rounded tip and use your stone knife to start shaving to create a spear. Once you’re done, be sure to heat the spear over some hot coals to make your spear sharper.
  2. As an alternative, you can also make a spear by tying your knife onto a stick. Find a stick which is about an inch wide.
  3. Measure about 2 inches from one end of the stick. Mark the point, then split the stick into two until you reach the 2-inch mark, creating a sort of Y shape.
  4. This will create a space where you can stick your stone knife before you lash it on with some twine, cord, or rope. To lock the blade in place, put some moss or lichen in the remaining space.
  5. If you haven’t had time to fashion your knife out of stone yet, you can also use broken pieces of shell or glass or splintered bamboo or bone and secure it to the end of your stick.
  6. If you find a way to split your stick without a knife, you can insert the splintered bone or bamboo into the wedge and tie it off like you would when turning a knife into a spear.

How to Make a Weighted Club | Homemade Weapons

While sharp pointy tools are all well and good, you can never go wrong with a blunt homemade weapon. You can use it for hammering or bludgeoning something such as a weighted club.

The weighted club could be one of the deadliest ancient weapons. To make one, you’ll need the following: a piece of wood around 14-16 inches, a medium-sized rock, and some rope.

  1. Once you have all the materials, you’ll need to wrap some lashing 6-8 inches from the end of the stick.
  2. Split the same end until you reach the lashing in order to create a V-shaped notch. The rock you picked out should be shorter than the length of the split.
  3. Insert the stone then lash it securely (above, below, and across the stone). The lashing on the stick above the stone clamps both sides of the split together providing the first point of security, so it’s especially important to create a good, tight lashing above the stone.
  4. You’ll want to make sure you bind the split ends securely so the stone won’t fall off whenever you use it to hammer or pound on something.

This video from Wannabe Bushcrafter will show you how to make a bamboo knife:

Now, hopefully, you never find yourself in a situation where making homemade weapons is going to be a necessity for survival. But, if you do find yourself in such a quagmire, this little bit of information and inner caveman training may be what saves your life.

Which of these homemade weapons do you want to make? Tell us your progress in the comments section below!

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***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 11, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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5 Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

Know these home remedies for chigger bites, or better yet, avoid the bug's bites in the first place with helpful tips included here!

RELATED: Top Ways to Deal with Insects [Especially Mosquitos]

In this article:

  1. What Is a Chigger, Exactly?
  2. Where Do Chiggers Live?
  3. Identifying Chiggers Bites
  4. Home Remedies for Chigger Bites
  5. Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites

What Is a Chigger, Exactly?

Chiggers are members of the arachnid family. They are extremely tiny, and my guess is you won’t even see them as they jump from the tall grass onto your skin and/or clothing.

Adult chiggers are about 1/60 of an inch and have eight legs. The larvae are red, wingless, six-legged creatures which measure less than 1/150 of an inch.

Because of their red color, you might be able to spot the larvae when they cluster together, especially on white clothing.

What Is the Arachnid Family? It is a large group or class of invertebrate animals where the spiders and scorpions belong.

Where Do Chiggers Live?

Chiggers reside in tall weeds and grass, berry patches, and wooded areas. They could be in your backyard, by the lake, or your favorite hiking trail.

They are most active in summer and fall afternoons – the warmest part of the day.

Identifying Chiggers Bites

Only the larvae bite humans and they tend to choose warm, moist areas of the body.

Chiggers also have claws which help them grab onto your skin. The chigger then attaches its mouth to the skin and injects saliva.

The saliva contains an enzyme which breaks skin cells down to liquid form. Your body responds by hardening skin cells around the saliva, creating a tube (cyclostome) through which the chigger sucks the dissolved skin cells.

Chiggers can stay attached and feeding for several days before falling off.

When the chigger falls off, you are left with reddish bumps. You may notice a bright red dot in the center—this is a remnant of the tube your skin formed in response to the chigger's saliva.

The bumps may look like welts, blisters, pimples, or hives. Bites generally appear in groups and get larger for several days to a week.

While many insects bite exposed skin which is easy to get to, chiggers like to bite in folds of skin as well as places where clothing fits tightly on the skin. Most chigger bites occur around the ankles, waist, armpits, crotch, or behind the knees.

Home Remedies for Chigger Bites

Just remember, no matter what, DO NOT SCRATCH THE BITES! I know, easier said than done. But, breaking the skin on a chigger bite can lead to infection.

Here are 5 home remedies to help with the itching and swelling.

RELATED: Spider Bite? Here’s How To Treat It

1. Vicks Vapor Rub

Vicks Vapor Rub can put an end to itchy chigger bites immediately and will even reduce the risk of blisters. It’s the cooling menthol in it which relieves itching by affecting itch receptors in the skin.


  • Take a hot shower (use antibacterial soap.) Pat dry your skin with a soft towel.
  • Take a small amount of the vapor rub and add some table salt to it.
  • Mix well and apply to the affected area.
  • Repeat if the swelling continues (otherwise, there is no need to repeat the process)

2. Cold Compress

A cold compress can help reduce the itching associated with chigger bites. Its numbing effect helps reduce the sensation of itchiness.


  • Wrap some ice cubes in a thin cloth.
  • Apply the compress to the bites for 10 minutes. Repeat if needed to relieve itching.

3. Baking Soda

Baking soda is another effective remedy to reduce rashes as well as itchiness. It acts as a natural acid neutralizer which helps relieve itching and reduces the risk of infection.


  • Add 1 cup of baking soda to a bathtub filled with cool water.
  • Stir well and soak in this water for 15 minutes and pat your skin with a soft towel. (Do this once daily)

Another remedy using baking soda:

  • Prepare a thin paste of 2 teaspoons of baking soda and a little water.
  • Apply the paste on the affected areas and leave it on for about 10 minutes.
  • Rinse it off with cool water.

Note: Do not use this remedy more than once or twice a day. Never use baking soda on broken skin or open wounds.

4. Oatmeal

Oatmeal contains anti-irritating, anti-inflammatory and soothing properties providing instant relief from itching–one of the common symptoms of chigger bites. It is recommended to use colloidal oatmeal, meaning oats which are ground into an extremely fine powder.

(You can accomplish this yourself by grinding regular oats in a sealed Ziploc bag, using the backside of a spoon to crush the oatmeal.)


  • Add 1 cup of colloidal oatmeal to a bathtub filled with warm water
  • Stir thoroughly
  • Soak in this mixture for at least 15-20 minutes
  • Repeat 2-3 times a day

5. Olive Oil

Olive oil can also be used to get relief from the irritation and inflammation. It is rich in vitamin E and antioxidants which reduce itching and facilitate healing.


  • After rinsing the affected area with water, apply olive oil to the chigger bite.
  • Reapply several times a day.

Another option using olive oil:

  • Mix a few drops of tea tree oil in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and apply on the affected area.
  • Repeat a few times a day.

Tips to Avoid Chigger Bites and Chigger Bites Infection

As summer and fall are prime time for chigger bites, it is best to take the following precautions:

  1. When hiking, stay in the center of the trail and avoid brushing up against vegetation.
  2. Wear long sleeves and long pants when going into the woods.
  3. Apply mosquito repellent on your hands, feet, and exposed skin on your arms before going outside.
  4. Shower immediately after being outdoors and use antibacterial soap.
  5. Wash your clothes in hot water.
  6. Resist the urge to scratch because breaking the skin on chigger bites can lead to a possible infection.

This video from Online Pest Control will show you tips to avoid chiggers and ways to get rid of chiggers:

Chigger bites much like other insect bites aren't only discomforting, they can be dangerous too. Many of these insects including chiggers carry diseases in some cases.

The best way to deal with these bugs is to avoid them or control them with our tips here. But, if you're so unlucky, you also now know the best home remedies to chigger bites!

Have you had to deal with chigger bites before? Tell us how, including more useful tips which worked for you in the comments section below!

Up Next:

Go to our Survival Life Store to shop some of our favorites self-defense tools and gear!

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr!

***Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.***

Home Remedies For Chigger Bites |

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 28, 2016, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

This Article Was First Found at Read The Original Article Here

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9 Good Reasons To Carry A “Survival Stick”

Arm yourself with a survival stick, get savvy with it, but first, find out why as you read on!

RELATED: Deadly Parasols | Umbrella As A Self-Defense Weapon

In this article:

  1. Survival Hiking Stick
  2. Survival Stick for Support
  3. Fetching/Reaching Things
  4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense
  5. Balance
  6. Gauging Depth
  7. Carrying Gear and Supplies
  8. Club
  9. Fishing Rod

Survival Stick: An Underrated Multipurpose Tool?

The Survival Stick in History

A walking stick or a survival cane were popular in the 17th and 18th centuries as a decorative show of power and a defensive replacement for a sword. Yet, the truth is our ancestors have been using them for thousands of years, and for good reason…

…They work! Even the animal kingdom is smart enough to know just how useful these are:

(It may be hard to see, but this gorilla is holding a walking stick to gauge the depth of the water as she sloshes along)

A walking stick is not a new or revolutionary idea. In fact, the use of a walking stick predates history and its use continued on for generations including this present time.

Yet, it is one which is more often than not overlooked. When most people think of a walking stick, it is usually paired with a top hat or seen as a crutch for someone with a walking disability.

Far too few people even realize how important a walking stick can be, especially to someone in the outdoors. We will dig a little deeper into the many uses of a survival stick and maybe safely say, it could be the first multi-purpose survival tool.

Practical and Survival Uses for a Survival Stick

Walking sticks are also known as trekking poles, pilgrim's staffs, hiking poles and hiking staff have quite a few different uses:

1. Survival Hiking Stick

Hold the survival stick in front of you and you can use it to clear your way by parting brushes and branches or leaves and thick tall grasses. You can also use it to clear spiderwebs, especially if you're not too fond of spiders.

Other insects, animals, poisonous plants, and even animal dung can get in the way. Use a survival stick to inspect or poke at those things if you are unsure, and never ever your hands or your feet.

2. Survival Stick for Support

Hiker in Caucasus mountains is crossing mountain river | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | hiking staff
Making your way through an uneven terrain will be more manageable with a walking stick for support. Whether you're going up or down, use the walking stick to either slow you down or hold you up.

You can use your walking stick like breaks to keep you from speeding down or use it to latch on to a rock or crevice when you're climbing up. Besides for yourself, you can also use your multipurpose stick as a support for your tarp emergency shelter.

3. Fetching/Reaching Things

It happens–a supply or gear falling on water, mud, puddle or in an area you dare not walk into. You can fetch or reach for those items with a stick.

It also happens where you need an item over a physical barrier and only a stick can fetch the item for you. You can also reach for fruits, nest, or other food sources up a tree or high structure with a stick.

RELATED: Unusual Weapons From Around The World And How To Use Them

4. Walking Staff Weapon for Self-Defense

To use a survival stick as a weapon, make sure it's a sturdy stick with a finished look and not just any stick you found along the way. You can use it to defend yourself from an attacker whether it's human or animals.

I would suggest to train yourself in some form of martial arts using a stick like a baton as a weapon to have a better handle at it.

You can also fashion a spear with your stick by tying a survival knife on one end. Don't throw this spear though or you risk damaging or losing your knife and stick.

Hold on to your homemade spear and only use it to thrust at your target.

5. Balance

Hiker is crossing the river in Sweden | Hiker in Caucasus mountain | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | survival hiking stickWhen you're crossing a log bridge over a stream or you're going through the stream itself or other bodies of water, a walking stick can help you balance so you don't fall over. If you're walking through a muddy or rocky waterbed, a walking stick will help you up.

If you're up for it and if the body of water isn't too wide across, you can also use a long stick like a pole vault to cross over so you don't get yourself wet.

6. Gauging Depth

Relative to crossing bodies of water, a survival stick is handy in identifying dips beneath the waters which could cause you to stumble. You can also use the stick to identify where it's safe to take the next step.

You can also use this simple trick with the stick when you're traveling in deep snow, marshland, and even the dessert.

7. Carrying Gear and Supplies

Use your survival stick to help you carry gear and supplies. Pack your supplies with a shemagh, tie it tight to one end of your stick then place the stick over your shoulders in hobo fashion.

You can also carry more supplies with your survival stick. Even today, a carrying pole is used by indigenous people all over the world to carry heavy supplies you never thought possible.

Hang bags of supplies or jars of water on either side of the pole or stick, putting a stopper like a notch or tie on both ends so they don't fall off. Place the center of the stick over your shoulders and balance your load to your destination.

8. Club

Man carrying blue backpack | Good Reasons To Carry A "Survival Stick" | walking staff weapon
Use your survival stick like a club to knock obstacle down. A pillar of rocks or other objects may be on your way and a sturdy stick can help you safely knock those.

If you are in a building with glass doors or windows or inside a car, you can break the glass with a stick. Make to knock over pieces around your entrance or exit with the stick, too.

9. Fishing Rod

You only need to bring a fishing kit and your survival stick will make a good fishing rod. Tie a line on one end of your walking stick and fish away.

A DIY fishing pole is actually effective and many a fish has been caught this way.

As you guys and gals already know, I am a stickler for carrying things only if they have multiple uses. This guy managed to fit almost an entire survival kit into a walking stick he built from scratch, for under $20.00.

Check out this video from SOS 2054 I found, and find out for yourself, too:

A humble walking stick will indeed surprise you with what it can do for your defense, convenience, safety, and survival. Since you know now the practical and survival uses of this primitive multi-purpose tool, it won't surprise me if it lands a top spot on your list of survival tools for camping, hiking, or SHTF.

What other uses can you think of for carrying a “survival stick”? Let us know in the comments section below!

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**Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only. Please read our full disclaimer.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 11, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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