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Surviving Hard Times

Author: Richard Jacobs

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It's one thing to listen to doom and gloom about
food and fertilizer shortages, skyrocketing prices,
the cost of living, or your job being outsourced
overseas or eliminated due to automation.

It's another thing to hear practicable, immediately
actionable advice from experts who can help you reduce
the fear, anxiety, and burden of these problems.

Tune in now to the Surviving Hard Times Podcast with
Richard Jacobs.
89 Episodes
How do you successfully set up a self-sustainable homestead – especially in these trying times? While there are many approaches to this lifestyle, the individuals who do it well are setting an example for those of us eager to learn for ourselves… In this episode, we sit down with Gary Dickenson from the YouTube channel Baltic Homesteaders to discuss his experience moving from the UK to northern Vidzeme to establish an entirely new, self-sufficient life with his family.  By following permaculture principles and working alongside nature, Gary and his family make the most from our land – and participate in true self-sustainability… Tune in now to find out: What it means to be a homesteader.  How to take care of and harvest timber in a forest.  The two stages of tree cultivation. The benefits of working with a “no dig” garden. Challenges associated with regenerative agriculture.  Make sure you follow along with Gary and his family by connecting with him on YouTube and on Instagram! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
With the instability of the modern world, subjects like alternative therapy and psychedelics can seem too nebulous to consider. But what if they actually offer distinct clarity that could change our perspective on society and human consciousness as we know it? In this episode, we connect with Jahan Khamsehzadeh, the author of The Psilocybin Connection: Psychedelics, the Transformation of Consciousness, and Evolution on the Planet – An Integral Approach. He sits down to discuss his new book and the role he plays in the fascinating world of psychedelic medicine. In his book, Jahan provides a comprehensive guide to psilocybin mushrooms and their impact on our psychology, biology, and social development. Through his writing, Jahan “moves our understanding of the psychedelic mushroom forward toward a fresh, hopeful, and exciting future…” Jump in now to explore: The connection between psychedelics and spirituality. How to safely and successfully approach a psychedelic trip. Human conditions that psychedelics have been linked to healing.  How Jahan’s background developed into his current work.  Want to find out more about Jahan and his work? Visit now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Without clean water, our society would crumble – so what are we doing to deal with the effects of water pollution? Gary Conley, an expert in hydrology, pollution dynamics, and applied math joins the podcast to discuss his approach to tackling water pollution problems. Gary is the Chief Scientist at 2NDNATURE, a company that designs and builds software to simplify stormwater resource management, planning, and reporting. With a particular focus on urban environments, Gary and his team are dedicated to improving watershed stewardship and reducing the cost of clean water across US communities… Jump in now to learn about: The two primary sources of the problems that contribute to water pollution in cities. The impacts of water pollution on the overall environment.  What ambient water quality is, and its benefits. Ways to estimate the progress of water quality improvement. To discover more about 2NDNATURE and their work, visit now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
In this episode, we sit down with Zilfina Rubio Ames, an Assistant Professor and Small Fruit Extension Specialist at the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. With a focus on blueberries and other small fruits, Zilfina’s primary research goal is to improve berry production systems – specifically their yield and quality. Zilfina is on a mission to help farmers develop more efficient and sustainable production systems. ​Utilizing her knowledge of plant physiology, nutrient management practices, and cultural practices, Zilfina has made several notable contributions to the improvement of production practices in blueberries and other small fruits… Tune in now to find out: What goes into efficient blueberry production.  The importance of maintaining the soil PH in crops. The most effective blueberry harvesting methods. How long it takes for a blueberry bush to reach full production. Complementary crops to grow along with blueberries. To uncover more about Zilfina and her work, click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
What can mangroves tell us about carbon sequestration? Today, Dr. Robert Twilley joins the podcast to share his thoughts on this question and other important climate-related topics… Dr. Twilley has been involved in carbon research for decades, and currently serves as the Executive Director of Louisiana Sea Grant College. Additionally, he is a Professor in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Science at Louisiana State University. Carbon storage tells scientists a lot about how it interacts with nature – and Dr. Twilley is particularly interested in the role mangroves play in this process. What has he found in his years of interactive research of this subject? Click play to find out… Jump in to explore: What a carbon budget is, and what it can tell us about mangrove ecosystems.  The methods used to measure carbon storage in mangroves.  What wood growth in mangroves can reveal about carbon sequestration.  The role mangrove ecosystems play in cleaning our air. Want to uncover more about Dr. Twilley and his work? Click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Are you wondering how you can strengthen your chess skills, but don’t know where to start? Richard Jacobs, the host of the Surviving Hard Times Podcast, takes the time in this episode to discuss how he has improved his chess game – and how it has also impacted his personal and professional life… Throughout his lifetime of playing chess, Richard has distilled his advice down to 3 key points. Wondering what these tips are and how you can implement them into your own chess-playing strategies? Jump in now to find out! In this episode, Richard covers: The discipline it takes to think through each and every chess move you make.  The ways in which chess strategies can also improve your life. Resources you can take advantage of to improve your chess skills. If you play chess with the intention of developing these skills, you’ll be surprised how much more you can get out of the game overall… Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Dr. Rachel Rudolph joins the podcast today to discuss her work with high tunnels and vegetable crop production. As an Extension Vegetable Specialist, Dr. Rudolph lends her knowledge of plant science to the University of Kentucky’s Department of Horticulture as an Assistant Extension Professor.  Dr. Rudolph is interested in developing alternative approaches to managing issues in the field and with high tunnel systems. Utilizing her knowledge of  tunnel systems, abiotic disorders, crop nutrition, and soil fertility, Dr. Rudolph is on a mission to make a real difference in the world of farming and crop production systems… Jump in now to explore: The difference between horticulture and agriculture. What nematodes are, and how they impact crop production. Why soil solarization can be so beneficial to plant and soil health.   To learn more about Dr. Rudolph and her research click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Can beekeeping enrich your life and the environment around you? Tanya Phillips, a Director at Texas Honey Bee Farm based in Austin, Texas would certainly say so… Tanya joins the podcast today to discuss her work as a beekeeper and educator. Her dedication to the preservation and cultivation of bee colonies has led her to not only be a central figure at Texas Honey Bee Farm, but also write Beekeeping: Everything You Need to Make Your Hive Thrive! – a book that illustrates how to foster and support healthy, vibrant colonies. Jump in now to discover: Essential tips on how to cultivate your own bee colony. The roles that different bees play in their respective colonies. How bee preservation impacts the environment as a whole. Are you interested in taking your self-sufficiency to the next level by learning how to take care of bees? Tune in now to find out how to get started! To find out more about Texas Honey Bee Farm, click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
When you head to the grocery store's produce section, what are you looking for? The ripest bananas? The juiciest tomatoes? The largest oranges? Whatever your answer, you might be surprised to learn what dictates the taste, ripeness, and nutritional quality of fruits and vegetables. Angelos Deltsidis shares interesting details of his unique area of expertise: post-harvest ripening.   Tune in to learn: What function ethylene serves (and why only some fruits and vegetables produce it) Level of ripeness vs. storage conditions: does one have a heavier hand than the other in the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables? New methods for increasing the overall quality of fruits and vegetables on the market  What goes into building a bountiful fruit and organic garden harvest Interested in learning more? Press play to hear the entire conversation and visit Angelos Deltsidis - People | Horticulture ( Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Joining us in this episode is Dr. Wolfgang Smith, a mathematician, physicist, philosopher of science, and metaphysician. Born in 1930, Dr. Smith developed his understanding of the world through the lens of philosophy and physics. Over the years, his fascination with these subjects has enabled him to apply a critical perspective to some of the world’s biggest questions. During his time as a researcher, not only has Dr. Smith met the great Albert Einstein, but he has also written many books including Physics and Vertical Causation: The End of Quantum Reality, The Quantum Enigma: Finding the Hidden Key, and Vedanta in Light of Christian Wisdom. In addition to this, he has also contributed to film documentaries – one of which is coming out soon… Join the conversation now to uncover: If humans are anywhere close to figuring out the nature of reality. The two things that physics consists of.  What a “scientistic belief” is.  The importance of the wisdom that bygone ages have passed on to us. Wondering what Dr. Smith has found through all of his years investigating philosophy and physics? Jump in now to find out! To learn more about Dr. Smith and his work, visit now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Cover crops have been around for over 10,000 years. It wasn’t until about 50 years ago that they started being replaced with chemical fertilizers, which many farmers saw as a more modern, efficient method. But the tide may be turning again – back to the (cover crop) roots. And this time, there may be loads of economic opportunity and environmental sustainability to gain. Press play to explore: Tips for growing cash crops that will enrich soils, leading to better harvests How algal blooms and drinking water problems can result from bare soils in the winter months How relay cropping works and why it’s so useful Mitch Hunter is an Assistant Professor and Associate Director of the Forever Green Initiative at the University of Minnesota. This interdisciplinary initiative is dedicated to helping farmers and the environment by developing comprehensive crops, cropping systems, and supply chains for novel crops. The ultimate goal is to keep soils covered all year long, preventing fertilizer from washing into bodies of water, maintaining soil quality, and boosting overall productivity. Tune in and visit Home | Forever Green ( to learn more. Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Joining us today to discuss dormancy and cold hardiness in plants is Al Pacheco Kovaleski, an Assistant Professor in the Department of Horticulture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Since connecting with the UW–Madison faculty in March 2021, Al has enjoyed applying his research in plant cold hardiness to the freezing Wisconsin winters… Al grew up in one of the coldest parts of Brazil, which encouraged his interest in horticulture in cold environments from a young age. Since then, he has focused his research on how plants control their cold hardiness and dormancy during the winter, and how that leads to bud break and flowering in the spring – all from a physiological and molecular level.  Join us now to hear Al discuss:  What happens to plants during the winter.  Why some plants are not able to survive cold environments. How climate change is altering which plants are able to thrive in certain geographical areas. What can lead plants to gain and/or lose cold hardiness. To learn more about Al and his research, click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Today, we sit down with Rob Avis, the Owner, Lead Instructor, and Engineer at Verge Permaculture. Rob is an expert in regenerative business and eco-entrepreneurship, and he is using his skills to lead the next wave of permaculture education – covering everything from building science to agroecology. In this episode, you will uncover: Why the energy return on fossil fuel may be dwindling.  The limitations of our world’s current energy sources.  Why the nutrient density of our food is steadily declining.  What’s the future of energy and food production on our planet? Experts like Rob are determined to find out… Want to find out more about Rob and his work? Click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Wild rice isn’t just uniquely delicious: it’s highly nutritious and takes a lot of careful work to grow.  Learn the ins and outs of breeding and cultivating wild rice in Minnesota from Jennifer Kimball, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics at the University of Minnesota. Tune in to explore: Environmentally responsible practices in wild rice breeding and cultivation The purpose and importance of “seed shattering” How long people have been breeding wild rice compared to other grain crops like wheat and corn Wild rice planting to harvesting - how long does it take? Press play to hear the full conversation and learn more about Kimball’s work at Jennifer A Kimball | Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics ( Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Human health benefits, soil cleaning, easy growing, and more … professor of plant breeding and genetics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Ismail Dweikat, shares his knowledge on the wonders of the hemp plant, traditional plant breeding, plant genetics, and more. Tune in to learn: The desirable traits of wild hemp that Dweikat focuses on breeding into additional crops A unique characteristic of hemp that allows it to clean contaminated soils Legal THC levels in Nebraska-grown hemp Why people with Celiac disease can safely eat sorghum but not wheat Dweikat also has impressive experience growing and breeding blueberries and the ancient pearl millet and sorghum crops. Press play to hear the entire conversation and learn more about Dweikat’s work at Ismail Dweikat | Department of Agronomy and Horticulture | Nebraska ( Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Mother of nine and homesteader since 1992, Dawn Gallop, returns to the show to share more tips, tricks, and indispensable knowledge about homesteading, including greenhouse gardening in small spaces and using high tunnels. Press play to discover: When and why to use shade cloths to protect crops The difference between a greenhouse and a high tunnel How to avoid salt and other mineral buildups in high tunnels Growing tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in 5-gallon buckets – (why and how Dawn does it!) Interested in learning more? Check out Dawn’s educational videos on her popular YouTube channel at (1) Dawn Gallop of #9 Farms - YouTube. Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
If you had the opportunity to innovate your farm, would you take it? The challenges that come with 21st-century agriculture are very unique, and inventive minds like Jonathan Dysinger are committed to innovating this process for both small and large farmers alike…  Jonathan is the Owner and CEO of Farmers Friend, a company that develops tools and supplies to make small farms more efficient and profitable. With years of experience in the industry, he is intent on changing the world through regenerative agriculture. How? By equipping, educating, and inspiring fellow growers… Click play now to uncover: The importance of being agriculturally creative. The benefits of working with high tunnel gardening structures. The biggest problems that farmers can face. Tips for getting your own garden going.  You can learn more about Jonathan and his work with Farmers Friend by visiting!  Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Where you live affects the quality of your food and water. A big reason for this has to do with watershed hydrology – the way water moves across agricultural landscapes. Matthew Helmers’ work revolves around this topic, and he shares his knowledge today. Tune in to explore: What tile drainage is, and how it improves crop health and production Why slowing water movement across the land is critical for crops and can decrease pollution in streams and rivers Drainage water recycling – how it works, where it should be used, and the significant benefits Sediment, nitrogen, and phosphorus – why too much in runoff water is a bad thing and how to lower the levels Helmers is the Director of the Iowa Nutrient Research Center at Iowa State University of Science and Technology. Learn more about his work at Iowa Nutrient Research Center ( and visit Iowa Learning Farms for weekly webinars and info by more experts. Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Nitrogen fertilizers are widely used in crop production around the world, but how does soil react to this treatment? Expert soil scientist Richard L. Mulvaney joins the podcast today to discuss his research looking into this question, and others like it… As a Professor of Soil Fertility at the University of Illinois, Richard is deeply involved in Illinois’s agricultural field. With three degrees in soil science, he has focused his investigations on the fate and behavior of soil and fertilizer nitrogen – specifically seeking to increase profits while also reducing the negative environmental impacts of excessive nitrogen inputs.  In this episode, we explore: What makes nitrogen useful for crop growth and plant nutrition.  The most common nitrogen fertilizer, and which crops it benefits most.  Why over-fertilization is detrimental to soil health.  Where corn crops derive the majority of their nitrogen from. Do the benefits of nitrogen fertilizer outweigh the negative effects on soil health? Join the conversation now to find out! To connect with Richard’s work for yourself, click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
Could aquaponics sustainably feed and fund the world? Josh Imhoff, the founder and director of Emerge Aquaponics is on a mission to find out. As someone who grew up traveling around the world, Josh was exposed to the immense “need” that many people have – and he has made it his goal to alleviate this. Determined to help feed and fund people, Josh decided that aquaponics may be the answer that he and many other individuals have been looking for. With this at the forefront of his mind, he started building and designing aquaponics systems 12 years ago with Emerge in order to provide people in need with food and income…  Tune in now to discover: How Emerge is developing systems to improve how food is grown. How temperature affects the fish species used in aquaponics. The importance of keeping the correct ratio of plants to fish in the system. How aquaponics can provide income for communities in need. Want to learn more about Josh and his important work with Emerge? Click here now! Episode also available on Apple Podcasts:
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