Category Archives: Survival Guide

Blueberry Plant Identification Information


Common Names:

Northern highbush blueberry, southeastern highbush blueberry, Maryland highbush blueberry, black highbblueberry plant leaves turn a vibrant red in fallush blueberry, American blueberry, New Jersey blueberry, rabbiteye blueberry, swamp blueberry, tall huckleberry, mayberry, whortleberry

Other than eating blueberry muffins and pancakes, I never thought much of the plant. My guess was that blueberries were farm plants and that was it. Then in my early twenties I was trout fishing in Quebec just north of Alma. We were fishing small lakes loaded with native brook trout. I walked down to the first lake and was met with about 2 acres of blueberry plants with ripe fruit. I asked my brother-in-law how they “got there”. Right then I learned a lesson – blueberry plants, in this case high bush blueberry are native plants to North America. That week I dined on brook trout and blueberries each evening and blueberry pancakes with bacon each morning – a great way to live.


Blueberry bushes can be small to large shrub like plants. Highbush blueberry plants can grow over 6′ tall with a similar spread. Twigs are yellow-green (reddish in winter) and covered with small wart-like dots. Leaves are deciduous, alternate, simple, elliptic or ovate, 1 to 3½ inches long and slightly waxy above. As the pictures indicate, the leaves are usually a good healthy green. In fall the leaves can turn a vibrant red.
The white or pink-tinged flowers are small and urn-shaped with 5 petals, and occur 8 to 10 per cluster. Flowering occurs February to June, sporadically in the southern portion of its range; fruiting occurs April to October, about 62 days after flowering. Fruits are ¼ – ½” blue-black berries with many seeds.
Habitat: The most common native habitat is in moist or wet peat of moderate to high acidity – in and around marshes, swamps, lakes and flood-prone areas. There are varieties that also grow in drier areas such as dunes and barrier beaches, rocky hillsides, oak woods, and pinewoods.


With the exception of deserts etc. some form of blueberry can be found somewhere in North America as long as the habitat is favorable. Additionally, because of people using the plants for home, garden or farm the various species have become transplanted wide and far. Birds eating the fruit then disperse the seeds for more plants. The gist here is that it is possible to locate blueberry plants if you look.


The berry is the edible part of this plant. Blueberries can be eaten raw, smoke-dried, sun-dried, boiled, and baked in a wide variety of culinary ways. They have one of the highest concentrations of iron of the temperate fruits. Additionally, blueberries are high in anti-oxidants.

Check out our blueberry recipes

Notes of interest:

Blueberries provide important summer and early fall food for numerous species of game birds, songbirds, and mammals – my fight with local animals is a testament to this fact!!
More than 50 blueberry varieties have been developed, primarily for commercially valuable fruit characteristics and seasonality.

Blueberry Growing Guide:

Blueberries combine delicious healthy fruit and ornamental value to the garden. This native plant is easy to grow and requires little care. If a few basic steps are followed your blueberry plants can last for years.
In order for bushes to grow properly, have fruit set and mature and have the plants flourish, you will want to provide as much sunlight as possible. My plants currently have a good 10 hours of sunlight from spring into fall.
These native plants do best in slightly acidic soil, somewhere between a pH of 5.5 and 6.5. When you plant blueberries, make sure you add plenty of peat moss. It will provide a great pH level to start as well as setting a good lose soil for the roots to spread. A periodic feeding regime with an acidic fertilizer such as Mir-Acid is good. I do not believe Mir-acid lowers soil pH but my blueberries do well. If after testing your soil pH it is still too high try sulphur, ammonium sulfate or iron sulfate.

Blueberries do best with a 2-4″ mulch over the roots to conserve moisture, prevent weeds and add organic matter. Bark mulch, acid compost, sawdust, grass clippings, etc. all work well. Repeat every other year.

Do not plant blueberry bushes in wet areas of your property or in clay based soils that will hold water and slow drainage. Blueberries need adequate water, especially when the fruit is maturing you will need to make sure there is plenty of water, if not the fruit will shrivel on the plant. This is what happened to my crop in 2012 when the U.S. experienced drought conditions

Blueberries are like many other fruiting plants, in most cases a single plant will not “self-pollinate”. Most, if not all good gardening guides will tell you to plant two different varieties for proper pollination.

For proper growth, plant blueberries 4-5 feet apart.

My big fight of the year is when the fruit begins to ripen. Maturing blueberries attract birds and squirrels from all over. The only way I know of keeping the fruit is to cover with fine-meshed deer netting. I tack the ends down to the ground to keep animals from getting under the netting to feed. I have walked out too often to find a northern cardinal or gray squirrel trying to get out of the net. When winter sets in upstate New York, rabbits will eat the young branches of blueberry plants. In my area eastern cottontail rabbits are a pain. In a few days they can chew a young plant to the ground. I surround my blueberry plants with chicken wire. This protects the plants.

Blueberry Benefits

Heart health

In a study published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, blueberry supplementation in mice with high cholesterol reduced their risk factors for atherosclerosis. Those who took the extract noted a 29 percent reduction in total cholesterol, with bad cholesterol dropping by 34 percent and good cholesterol rising by up to 40 percent, despite consuming a high-fat diet. In addition, triglycerides – a fat that turns normal cells into fat cells – and homocysteine – which causes inflammation in arterial walls – were both reduced by half.

Excellent references and information in growing blueberries:

Local County agents are listed in the phone book or can be looked up online, call up and ask questions

University of Maine – great article with video instructions

Atlee Burpee & Co – what I consider the best seed and plant company around (with a great history)

Four-wing Saltbush – Wild Edible

Four-wing Saltbush

Back to Edible Plants

Common Names: Chamise, chamize, chamiso, white greasewood, saltsage, fourwing shadscale, bushy atriplex, four-wing saltbush, four wing saltbush

four-wing saltbush leaves are simple, alternate, linear to narrowly oblong covered with fine whitish hairs

Description: Fourwing saltbush is deciduous to evergreen, depending on climate. Its much-branched stems are stout with whitish bark. Mature plants range from 1 to over 8 feet in height, depending on the soil and climate. Its leaves are simple, alternate, linear to narrowly oblong covered with fine whitish hairs and ½ to 2 inches long. Its root system is branched and commonly very deep (to 20 feet) when soil depth allows.

Male and female flowers are commonly on separate plants. Male flowers are red to yellow and form dense spikes at the ends of the branches. The female flowers are axillary and nondescript. Fourwing saltbush plants can exhibit male and female parts in one flower. The seed is contained in cases that turn a dull yellow when ripe and may remain attached to the plant throughout winter.

Location: Four-wing saltbush is a widely distributed shrub on rangelands in the western United States including the Intermountain, Great Basin, and Great Plains regions (see map). Its natural range extends from below sea level to above 8,000 feet elevation. Land owners and agencies use fourwing saltbush for reclamation of disturbed sites

four-wing saltbush range is the western USA

Edible: Fresh roots can be boiled with a little salt and drunk for stomach pain and as a laxative. Leaves and young shoots can be added to soups and stews. Soapy lather from leaves can be used for itching and rashes from chickenpox or measles. Fresh leaf or a poultice of fresh or dried flowers or roots can be applied to ant bites and bee stings.
Native Americans used ashes from the leaves as a substitute for baking powder.

Seed generally ripens in late August and September and can be harvested from mid September through December. The seeds can be ground into meal. Seed yields may range from 200 to 400 pounds per acre.

Notes of interest: Saltbush is high in carotene and averages about four percent digestible protein. The leaves may be as high as 18 percent total protein. It is important for both wildlife and domestic animals.
The blossoms and twigs can make a yellow dye.

Back to Edible Plants

USDA plant guide

Expanded Hiking Check List

Expanded Hiking & Camping Check List


  • Boots
  • Socks
  • Gaiters
  • Lightweight long underwear
  • Wool or synthetic sweater
  • Trousers
  • Underwear
  • Shorts, T-shirt, and light, long sleeve shirt
  • Effective insulation layers
  • Rain/wind gear
  • Watch cap, appropriate headwear
  • Mittens or gloves
  • Camp shoes or sneakers
  • Bathing suit

  • Toothbrush
  • Comb
  • Bandana
  • Small Towel
  • Toilet paper
  • Plastic towel
  • Money
  • Sewing kit
  • Soap
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Razor




  • Notebook and pencil
  • Camera and film
  • Licenses and permits
  • Field books
  • Binoculars
  • Candles
  • Lantern – spare fuel & mantles
  • Reading material
  • Playing cards
  • Hunting/Fishing equip.
  • Walking Staff
  • Flashlight & batteries & spare bulbs
  • Headlamp
  • Water treatment/purifier
  • Extra prescription glasses
  • Sunglasses
  • String & Rope


First Aid

  • Allergy medication
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug Repellent
  • Citronella Candle, etc.
  • Tylenol, Advil, Aspirin
  • Tums
  • Antibiotics creams
  • Tweezers for splinters & ticks
  • Antiseptic, bandaids and bandages
  • First Aid Kit (may include all the above items)
  • Benadryl Sinus Tablets
  • Allergy Eye drops
  • Pocket Tissues
  • Moist Towelettes
  • Extra weeks supply of any Prescriptions
  • Lip balm
  • Snake bite kit 
Safety and Emergency

  • Maps of the area
  • Radio
  • Compass
  • GPS
  • Pocket knife
  • Signal mirror
  • Small shovel
  • Whistle
  • Water treatment/purification

  • External frame pack
  • Internal frame pack
  • Day pack
  • Hip pack
  • Belt pouch
  • Stuff sacks




  • Matches or lighter
  • Stove and fuel
  • Cooking grate
  • Cook pots and utensils
  • Cup
  • Food
  • Camp axe & hammer
Eating Utensils

  • Food tubes
  • Sealed containers
  • Aluminum foil
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Water mixes
  • Large stuff sack



  • Tent
  • Bivouac Sack
  • Tarp
  • Small sponge
  • Extra tie-down cord
  • Seam Sealer

  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Ground sheet
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Pillow
  • Space blanket
Camping with Children

  • Diapers
  • Wipes
  • Bottles/sippycups
  • Playyards
  • Jogging strollers
  • Backpack carriers
  • MANY sets of clothing
  • Formula
  • Jar foods
  • Gerber toddler foods
  • Hats
  • Toys,
  • Favorite blanket or stuffed toy (very important!)
  • Powdered milk (for children that have outgrown formula)
  • Snacks
  • Storybooks
  • Baby Hammock
  • Baby Swing
  • kid-safe bugspray
Did You Check?

  • Leave a note on your location
  • Permits needed
  • Weather Forecast

Please note that this checklist is for your reference. You may need to alter it for your application. Food suggestions are based on our personal tastes and what we have found to be convenient.

First Aid Kit

Whenever away from home (in your car) or in the woods, first aid kits are important and should be near-by. Obviously, a car kit can be more extensive with items such as road flares, etc. while a backpacking first aid kit may be made to be light to carry. I have carried as light a kit as a few band aids and clean wipes when fishing near the road to carrying extensive when way back in the woods. My first aid kit is on the top of my hiking check list. You can make your own kit or buy a ready made kit – which I think is definitely worth the money. Below is a list of what can (and maybe should always) be carried:

General pain relief

· Extra-strength non-aspirin (ibuprofen or acetaminophen)

· Aspirin tablets

· Antacid

· Antihistamine – allergies and bug bites/stings

· Sunscreen pack

· Lip ointment packs

· Diarrhea medicine

· Burn relief gel-pack (aloe vera, solarcaine, etc.)

· Hydrocortisone cream (soothes allergic skin)

· Instant cold compress

Injury management

· Sterile eye pad

· 2″x2″ Moleskin squares – Moleskin is designed to protect exposed, blistered skin, preventing further inflammation and soreness.

· Butterfly wound closures

· Cotton swab, sterile, packaged in pairs

· Adhesive tape

· Adhesive bandages, assorted sizes

· Gauze pads, assorted sizes

· 1 elastic-roll bandage

· Band aids of various sizes and lengths. Remember a wound can occur anywhere on your body and a slip and fall can result in the need for more than just 1 or 2 band aids. I keep at least 10 – 15 band aids in my kit

Cleaning supplies

· Alcohol cleansing pads

· Antiseptic cleansing wipes

· Exam quality vinyl gloves

Other supplies

· Insect repellent

· Tweezers – use metal the plastic are crap

· Scissors

· Safety pins

· Bulb irrigating syringe

· First Aid Guide

· Snake bite kit

· Your prescription drugs

Please always remember that you need to periodically go through your kit and change out supplies. Wipes can dry out. Pills, tablets and other drugs have definite shelve lives and need to be cycled.

Hiking Check List

Ten Essential Hiking Supplies

These are the “items” you should have with you when hiking

1. Map
2. Compass (GPS is great – until it runs out of power. Learn to use a compass)
3. Flashlight (or headlamp)
4. Water (also you can bring water purification tablets or a filter – BUT BRING WATER!!)
5. Food
6. Extra clothing (think about raingear too!!)
7. Sunglasses & sun block
9. Matches (also a firestarter)
10. Pocket knife

Need a larger list clickExpanded hiking check list