If you’re a homesteader, optimizing is important. You must stretch the growing season out as far as you can. You need to maximize the space to store your tools, hay and livestock feed. You must make the crops you just harvested last through the winter. And you don’t want to waste anything, even your trash.
And if you really want to get the most out of your scarce resources, you have to build structures to get the job done. Here are four great structures every homesteader should build — over time.
1. Root Cellar
If you’re a successful gardener, one of the challenges you’ll have is storing everything after the harvest. As fun as canning is, you don’t want to can everything, right? One of the best and simplest ways to store produce is with a root cellar . A root cellar is a structure built into the ground or an existing basement.
It takes advantage of the ground’s naturally cool temperature and high humidity, and allows you to store fresh vegetables for months at a time. Vegetables can be placed in the root storage with minimal preparation, so it can save you time for other tasks. Root crops such as potatoes, beets and onions are great candidates for a root cellar; fruits like apples will stay fresh for a long time in root cellar storage, too.
If you’re a homesteader, you need a barn of some sort. Even if it’s a small one, a barn serves many critical purposes. If you don’t have an outbuilding, getting work done consistently can be challenging. You need a dry place to store your hay and animal feeds. You need somewhere out of the weather to manage key livestock tasks, like milking goats or cows. Barns also make it easier to organize your important tools and keep them handy. And a barn is a great place to retreat to with a cup of coffee – or to just take a break.
3. Cold frames
You don’t have to let the seasons curtail your gardening. Cold frames can help you start gardening in the spring, and extend your harvest well past the first frost. A cold frame  is typically a sealed wooden or brick box with a glass lid that opens. They can help insulate plants and keep them warmer when temperatures outside are less than plant friendly. Some people even heat their cold frames by adding a base of rotting compost, which gives off heat. If you’re in a hurry, you can buy your cold frames online. However, they also are a fun and easy building project , too.
4. Compost pile
A good homesteader never lets anything go to waste. And if you have a compost pile, you can literally turn your trash into a treasure. A compost pile lets you save nearly anything – from kitchen scraps, to paper, to grass clippings – and turn them into something that can improve your garden soil substantially. Recycling your trash into compost also can save you money, too; if everything is ending up in the compost pile, it will help you spend less on things like garbage bags and trash pickup. There are many types  of composting systems out there. Figure out which one is good for you, and give composting a try.
Successful homesteaders make everything count. And these four structures can help you get the most out of your homestead. Depending on your thriftiness and building skills, you can make all these structures with re-purposed materials for a relatively low price. However, if you’re in a hurry, you can buy them all as kits, too. Regardless of how you get there, each one of these structures can make you a more productive homesteader. So, start planning now, and get these structures built as soon as you can.
What would you add to our list? Share your thoughts in the section below: