Homesteading in the city

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Annemarie, Dec 31, 2006.

  1. Annemarie

    Annemarie New Member

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    Hi,

    Since I'm in college I rent two little rooms in a city, unfortunately without a garden. I'd love to have a little farm with many acres to homestead, but here in Holland that is way too expensive, so it will stay a dream for the first few years.
    However, I would like to do some mini-homestead activities; I thought of growing some herbs, lettuce and tomatoplants in the spring. Does someone have experience with this, or does someone have additional ideas? Tips are always welcome...

    Annemarie

    I'm from Holland, which will explain mistakes in my English ;)
     
  2. Old Vet

    Old Vet In Remembrance

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    Since you can't raised any live stock guarding is all that is open to you. Buy some large pots and you can guarden there. You can raise just about anything that you want. Herbs are grate but vevetables are able to be grown there also.

    I have had a stroke and can't use the spelchecker. That is the reason for my spelling.
     

  3. Tana Mc

    Tana Mc Well-Known Member Supporter

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  4. diane

    diane Well-Known Member

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    Yes, grow whatever you want in pots!! I did it for the years I lived in town. You can develop all sorts of homesteading skills while in the city. Here we have farmer's markets and I use to go buy from them and bring it home and can it, freeze it or dry it. Learn to bake bread.........read......read and read some more. You can learn a lot from books before you get a chance to do the hands on. Good luck and enjoy the process!!
     
  5. GrannyG

    GrannyG Well-Known Member

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    Herbs are wonderful. Sage for chicken dressing, basil to put on noodles, and chives to snip and fix with eggs for breakfast. Cherry tomatoes should do great as well and lettuce. Save pictures of what you find so pretty out of magazines and start a wish book of farming life for the day you get to really do it.
     
  6. Dixielee

    Dixielee Well-Known Member

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    I had a friend who lived in a small apartment with a deck. She put a plastic childs swimming pool there, filled with soil and grew herbs, carrots, lettuce, spinich etc. anything with fairly shallow roots. She also grew tomatoes in hanging baskets that did quite well. There is a lot of information on the web about container gardening.

    Read about square foot gardening for some great ideas on using small spaces. You can grow vertically and save lots of space.

    You just need to make sure you don't over or underwater as you are limited with your soil area. If you have sunny windows, build shelves if you can, or just place movable shelves near them and can grow inside as well.

    While you can't have livestock in this situation, you will learn a lot about gardening. You can use this time to gather information and learn. There is so much on the internet. Find interesting articles, print them and save in 3 ring binders, subscribe to Countryside and Backwoods home magazines and save them. Get The Encyclopedia of Country Living and read cover to cover.

    You can learn to bake your own bread, be a frugal shopper, can and preserve fruits, vegetables and meats, save seeds, etc.

    If you have any extra space in your apartment, you can buy day old chicks and raise them for a few months inside. We use a plastic childs swimming pool (great little tool) for our babies, hang a heat lamp above for warmth and use newspaper shreadings or wood shavings for the bottom. You can fashion a "fence" of sorts out of cardboard around the top of the pool as they get bigger so they stay in.

    When they get as big as you can stand, you can sell them. You may have to find a market as I don't know what is available in your area. You won't reap the benefit of owning the chicks (eggs), but you can get good experience.

    Learn to live simply and frugally, save any extra money for that time when you will be able to buy a little place of your own. Don't give up on your dream, just make do with what you can while you can and work toward a satisfying future.
     
  7. Annemarie

    Annemarie New Member

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    Thank you very much for your reactions! It's very nice to read, because most of the things you mention, I already do/did :) I have 'Living at Nature's Pace: Farming and the American Dream', 'The Self-sufficient Life and How to Live It' from John Seymour and 'Storey's Basic Country Skills : A Practical Guide to Self-Reliance' from John Storey. I started a wishbook, which I'm going to complete with practical information about everything I would like to do. Furthermore, I receive the magazines 'Farm and Ranch Living' and 'Hobby Farms' every two months.
    We don't have farmers markets, unfortunately, but of course I could try canning/preserving vegetables.
    The chickenproject sounds great, but I don't think the owner of the house and my housemate would like it... Maybe later.

    Dixielee:
    'Don't give up on your dream, just make do with what you can while you can and work toward a satisfying future.'
    This sentence is wonderful!
     
  8. sewsilly

    sewsilly Well-Known Member

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    I agree with several things above. Learn to bake bread from scratch. Learn to cook simple basic foods and economize on groceries while maintaining proper nutrtition.

    Hang your clothing to dry, instead of using a dryer. This is an environmentally responsible thing to do.

    Stop using commerically prepared cleaning products and use simple things, like baking soda and vinegar.

    Consider a light table for plants, if your apartment doesn't accomodate growing things with enough light. I use a light table, even thought I live on a farm. Get an old metal shelf unit and attach a grow light to the bottom of a couple of shelves.

    Get books at the public library and READ about things that you can do in the future.

    Learn to sew, or knit or crochet.

    Apprentice yourself to a farm, or gardening center, either volunteering or working in your spare time. You'll learn valuable information there.
     
  9. Betho

    Betho Well-Known Member

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    I also live in the city, don't have a yard although I have a patio. I tried gardening this year but didn't get much because in order to water my plants I had to carry water from my kitchen sink which is so shallow I couldn't fit much of a container under the faucet, so I had to make LOTS of trips just to water my plants. I did pretty good with herbs though, they don't require much water. I would have done a lot better if I'd had a hose I coulda hooked up.

    One thing I wished I had done is grow potatoes in a trash can. Takes up a lot less space and you get a pretty good harvest from what I read. Tomatoes do really well in containers if you have large enough containers. They were the only thing I actually harvested this year besides my herbs. You can grow bush beans and peas. Radishes and carrots didn't do well for me in a container.

    Also, composting with worms in a wormbin. That's a biggie... I loooove my worms and they give back. My houseplants do great with "tea" made from the compost and I'm also just kinda saving most of the castings for when we do move to a place with a yard, hopefully sometime this year. We won't be out in the REAL country at that point yet (probably) but if I can have a yard then I can at least have room to do more things. If you keep your bin under control it doesn't take up much space and doesn't smell bad, and then you can compost all your peelings, rinds, etc.

    Baking your own bread from scratch, even making your own sourdough. I've taught myself to be able to bake bread with nothing but flour & water, using them to make a starter and then making the bread with it.

    You can learn how to make cheese, you can even make it with store-bought milk although it's better if you can get raw milk in your area.

    Making soap and candles you can do in an apartment - I had a teeny little studio when I used to make candles and when I learned how to make soap.
     
  10. Annemarie

    Annemarie New Member

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    Oh, I will try to bake my own bread, sounds like I can learn a lot from that! I'd like to make cheese too, but I only have acces to store-bought milk, and I don't know if that will work out. Does somebody have a website with a discription?
    I also will buy a trash can, and grow a potato in it, I can't wait to see the results!
    Thank you all!
     
  11. michelleIL

    michelleIL tryna be His

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    I'm trying to make my own sourdough. I just fed it some flour and water, so tomorrow I will try to make something out of them. I've got some powdered milk, and I'm eventually going to try to make some yoghurt from it. I have to get a container of yoghurt from the store to start mine.
    Michelle
     
  12. Terri

    Terri Singletree & Weight Loss & Permaculture Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Can you go fishing? There are probably small crabs in the rocks near the shores. We used to get some that were about 8" across.
     
  13. hisenthlay

    hisenthlay a.k.a. hyzenthlay

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    There's plenty to do, even though it never feels like enough when you're stuck in an apartment. When I was living in an apartment during school (with no outside space at all), I grew herbs in the windowsill, learned to quilt, sew, and knit, learned to cook/bake from scratch, learned to make cheese/yogurt/etc., did small woodworking projects, lived frugally, conserved energy, and did tons and tons of reading about everything I was interested in.

    Buying food in season from local sources (farmers' market or whatever) and learning to preserve it is also great experience. It's better to learn now and get the small equipment you need than to try to learn when you have a million tomatoes and all sorts of different things in the garden going bad because you can't get your canning equipment to work right, and you don't have any recipes you know or like.

    For cheesemaking, look at the fiascofarm.com website--it's very helpful. Since I don't yet have my own goats, I get my milk from other friendly homesteaders who I met through the internet. If you want to go that route, try searching for any dairy goat/cow/sheep clubs near you, talk to their group leaders, maybe attend some of their competitions or other events.