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Are you intrigued by the idea of homesteading, but you don’t think you can until you have a big house with a lot of acreage?
At its essence, homesteading is about self-sufficiency, and there are many ways you can increase your independence no matter where you live. Here are some ways you can begin your homesteading journey even while still living in an apartment.
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You don’t need a big plot of land – or even a backyard – to start growing your own food. If you have a balcony or terrace or even just a few sunny windows, you can have a container garden.
You also can grow lots of herbs on a sunny windowsill. Berries and tomatoes lend themselves well to hanging baskets and vertical gardens, and you can grow lettuces, potatoes, onions, and garlic in containers. Here are a couple helpful resources to get started.
You also can participate in community gardens or a community supported agriculture program (CSA). With a CSA, you pay a monthly or annual fee to receive fresh, local produce. Some CSA’s even have an option by which you can garden to help pay for your produce.
To find a CSA in your area, visit LocalHarvest.org/CSA.
If you’re growing some of your own food, you can be making your own compost as well. It can be as simple as saving your biodegradable kitchen scraps, including eggshells, fruit peels, coffee grounds, tea bags, and bread crusts. The scraps will decompose into a highly nutritious fertilizer for your garden plants. Here’s an article on composting.
And here is a video showing how to get your compost started using a five-gallon container and materials you probably already have on hand.
You should also consider vermicomposting, which uses worms to turn organic waste into a rich fertilizer. You also can vermicompost in a small space.
Water is a precious natural resource, and urban homesteaders can harvest rain for their gardens, too. Simply collect water that drains off your apartment building roof through a downspout or gutter.
Not only can you use this harvested H2O to water your plants, you can also add it to your toilet tank, wash your car, or use it for many other household tasks for which the water doesn’t have to be completely clean.
Air Drying Clothes
Another way to conserve resources and lower utility bills is by hang-drying your laundry. Adding a clothesline to your deck or balcony is an efficient and fresh-smelling way to reduce your electric bill (or your trips to the laundromat).
Even if you don’t have a balcony, you still can use a drying rack or a clothesline inside your apartment to cut down on how much you use the dryer.
Harnessing The Sun
Solar energy is not only for large buildings. You can use portable panels that will allow you to power some of your devices through solar energy. Here are the types of portable solar panels available on Amazon.
Cleaning With Natural Products
Homesteaders enjoy living as frugally and as naturally as possible. One way to do that while living in an apartment is by reducing your dependence on chemical-laden cleaning products.
Many household cleaning chores can be accomplished with a combination of only a few basic ingredients: baking soda, white vinegar, liquid castile soap, borax, hydrogen peroxide, and lemons.
This article offers recipes for them home-made cleaners. Here is a video demonstrates how you can clean your apartment with easy-to-make “green” cleaners.
Make good use of the fruits and veggies you grow or purchase at local farms or Farmer’s Markets by learning how to preserve your food. While many homesteaders do food preservation on a large scale, you can have great results on a small scale too. Or what about joining up with a few like-minded friends for a food preservation party?
Here are a couple articles to check out:
Successful homesteaders live by the “waste not, want not” credo. You don’t need a basement or a spare room or large pantry to begin storing your canned, dehydrated, or dried food. You can find hidden storage spaces in some of the following locations in your apartment.
- On a high closet shelf
- On a rack behind your clothes on the closet
- Under your bed
- In the back spaces of your kitchen shelves
- On shelves or racks under the sink
- Above the refrigerator
- In a loft space in your garage
Here are some more food storage locations for people with small homes.
Buying From Local Farmers
Until you have a larger home and property, you can still embrace the homesteading lifestyle by sourcing your eggs, dairy products, and meats from local farmers or Farmer’s Markets. Perhaps you can establish a relationship that allows you to work on the farm yourself or to barter for goods. To find local Farmer’s Markets, check out LocalHarvest.org/Farmers-Markets.
Learning New Skills
Successful homesteaders wear many hats and learn how to perform many new tasks. Even as an apartment dweller, you can learn how to bake bread and make your own jams, jellies, soaps, and healing salves.
Rosemary Gladstar’s book, Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide: 33 Healing Herbs to Know, Grow, and Use, is an excellent place to start if you are interested in the art and science of natural healing.
Become a do-it-yourself junkie. Through the use of YouTube videos, you can learn how to make or fix just about anything – and many projects do not require much space.
Trading with other like-minded individuals is a great way to become more self-sufficient. You can swap your veggies for eggs or your lotion and soaps for honey.
Don’t forget that you also can barter services such as carpentry, auto mechanics and sewing skills. There are many bartering and swapping websites out there, but another idea is to get to know sellers at your local Farmer’s Markets as well as other homesteaders.
You may be thinking this topic doesn’t fit in a list for apartment dwellers. However, unless the landlord prohibits it, you can raise small animals in an urban setting. People living in small spaces have success raising everything from rabbits to chickens to bees. Here is a list of farm animals that are perfect for city living.
Related: How To Raise Chickens In The City
Frugal homesteaders can find ways to repurpose just about everything. Even with a small space, you can begin honing these skills, too. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Plastic tubs and toilet paper rolls for seed starters
- Harvested seeds from vegetables
- Five-gallon buckets as planters or rain barrels
- PVC pipes for vertical gardens
- Cardboard and newspaper as weed barriers
- Food scraps for compost
- Leftover bread and bread heels for croutons or bread crumbs
Here is a more exhaustive list of things you can resuse if you need more inspiration.
Teaching Your Kids
Another important way you can begin homesteading right where you are is by learning along with your children. As you teach them how to live more frugally and independently, not only will they be learning valuable lessons, but you will be too.
Here are some homesteading skills to teach your young boys and girls. Once these skills are mastered, you can go on to more complicated lessons.
- Basic cooking and baking skills, including measuring and how to follow a recipe
- Mending skills such as sewing on a button and hemming, as well as crocheting and knitting
- Laundry skills including sorting, treating stains, handwashing, and drying
- Making a bed and changing bed sheets
- Seed planting, watering and harvesting garden plants
- Starting a fire from scratch
- Using a compass and a map
- Operating basic hand tools such as a hammer and screwdriver
- Changing batteries in flashlights and other devices
- Checking the oil in the car and pumping gas
- Feeding and caring for pets and small animals
Another homesteading skill that can often be overlooked is how to entertain yourself. While you are living in an urban environment, there may be a lot going on in terms of social activities. However, experienced homesteaders have learned how to make their own fun.
Learn to play instruments as a family so that you can play and sing together. (Perhaps you can barter for lessons.) Take out some old board games and teach your kids how to play them. Or try other old-fashioned interactive games such as Charades or Simon Says. Read chapter books aloud together as a family. Try painting or sculpting as a group art project.
We hope that by now you’ve learned that homesteading doesn’t depend on the size of your home or your property. It is more of a state of mind that can be adopted no matter where you live.
So don’t wait until you have that big farmhouse and all those acres before you start living the homesteading lifestyle right now. That way, when you do have the homestead of your dreams, you will be all the more ready to jump right in.
P.S. If you’d like to learn more about homesteading, be sure to check out our sister site, HomesteadSurvivalSite.com.
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Sorry for bad spelling, I meant previous post to read natural fertilizers like my goat, chicken, and rabbit poop dried and made into a powder as well as bone and blood meal. My worst enemy is not the bugs but the crazy weather at 9,000 feet elevation in the mountains of Colorado so my next project is turning an old quancet hut garage frame left by my ex into a green house
Insane people think that you can feed many people off of 1-5 acres of land. This is far from the truth.
That would be under ideal circumstances.
It takes about 7 acres of land to feed just one person, assuming they do not eat much meat.
Remember, 1:7 crop rotation is necessary.
And most people are absolutely NOT vegetarians nor do they want to be.
Most arable land in the USA has been over farmed and of poor soil quality. Hence the need for copious quantities of chemical fertilizer.
And this does not address the irrigation needs.
I have studied and built a hugelgarden.
Even THAT needs weekly watering.
Fertilizer – fall leaves if you can get enough of them and let them sit to compost long enough.
Yes, they can be used for tilth. Yes they do add carbon back into the soil.
But those are hardly enough fertilizer for superior crop growth.
I have used Biochar. Even that doesn’t help enough.
Some kind of fertilizer is needed.
Insects and other things also damage crops. I lost 2/3 of my tomato crops due to insects and animals (yes I planted proper companion plants to help mitigate the problem and have a fence).
Soil does become demineralized with heavy farming.
I cannot devote enough land to grow bioaccumulators like comfrey.
Off Grid farming is a challenge to say the least.
Might work well in places with very fertile soil to begin with.
Egypt was the breadbasket of the world centuries ago.
Reason was the annual flooding of the Nile depositing rich silt onto the land.
Now they have flood control and are relying more and more on chemical fertilizers to make ends meet.
Due to flood control measures in the USA, most of the beneficial flooding no longer happens.
About Apartment farming – much depends on your apartment, landlord, and neighborhood.
What if you have no sunny window? Or balcony?
Or your landlord says NO? Or the local laws prevent farming? Or HOA if you have one?
And you must worry constantly if certain people (ahem) come and steal your food.
I had that happen until I planted some out by the street for them to steal, thus leaving my main crops alone.
Still had animals and insects causing problems.
Apartment farming also has a lot less sunlight too.
People might want to look up ‘Victory Garden’ for hints on urban farming.
I feed a family of 6 in an elevated garden with each box being around 24 square feet. I have 3 of those, 1 that is 12 square feet and one that is10 square feet. Then I have two corner boxes. I rotate my crops yearly and use nother but natural fertilizers. My place is 5 acres and all but 1 1/2 acres are tree covered. I have 3 female goats and one male in a 12’×10′ barn as well as a 8’×8′ rabbitry and an 8’×8′ chicken coop. I can all my vegetables, gather eggs, make butter out of my goat milk. My goat babies I have butchered and that gives me ground meat, my rabbit kits are raise to be about 5lbs and are then butchered. So it is possible to feed a large family off small average especially since im a disabled veteran. One of my sons lives with me and helps do the heavy work as well as harvest wood from the surrounding forest for fire wood. Its actually kinda fun too.
Big Tee says
Indeed. A multi-story building complex can block a LOT of sunlight. Couple this with the difficulties in securing your garden, and there’s a very good chance of complete failure. The solution for me is to buy land elsewhere ASAP and move onto it.