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There has been a positive trend going on for several years in the prepping and survival community, a trend towards self-sufficiency. That’s good because several of the major disasters we could potentially be facing are severe enough that normal prepping just isn’t going to cut it. When the recovery period from the disaster is too long to stockpile for, our only true chance for survival is to be self-sufficient.
Having A Realistic Vision For Homesteading And Self-Sufficiency
But there’s a perception problem that’s going hand-in-hand with the move towards self-sufficiency. That’s the idea that we all need to sell our homes and move out into the country where we can buy enough land to start a homestead.
I’ll have to say, that idea is definitely an attractive one. In fact, I wouldn’t mind doing it myself. Nevertheless, the reality is that land is expensive and there are a lot of us who can’t afford to sell our homes. We can’t buy a homestead out in the country no matter how much we’d like to. Besides, our work requires that we live in the city or at least in the suburbs.
That doesn’t mean that we need to give up on the idea of homesteading, however. It just means we need to scale down our homesteading ideas to fit the home and property we have. Maybe we can’t plant a field of corn and maybe we can’t raise goats. Nonetheless, we can still raise food for our families.
There have been a number of articles written over the years about people who have raised all their own food in their backyards. I used to live next to one. Even though we lived in a housing development with tiny backyards, he still managed to grow almost all the vegetables his family consumed. If he could do it, I don’t see why we can’t as well.
Urban Homesteading Tip #1: Scale Up Your Gardening
Anyone who is serious about homesteading needs to start out by scaling up their gardening efforts. Think about it a moment; what good is all that lawn doing you anyway? Having a lawn to take care of just takes away your energy and yet it doesn’t give you anything in return. Ok, granted, your kids can play on it… assuming your kids still play outdoors. But what else do you use it for?
Let me warn you here; it’s going to take several years to get your gardening efforts up to the point where you are raising all your own food. I wouldn’t try getting there in one year. Instead, add a few garden beds every year. That way, you’ll have the time you need to get the soil in good condition so that you can get the maximum yield out of your garden.
Urban Homesteading Tip #2: Wean Off Of Chemicals
American gardeners tend to be hooked on chemical gardening. I’m not talking about hydroponics but rather the use of chemical fertilizers, weed killers, and insecticides. While all that stuff is great, it’s not going to be available in a post-disaster world. Unless we’ve already switched, you and I are going to have to learn a whole new kind of gardening. It’ll have to be more like our pioneering ancestors and how they handled things.
Urban Homesteading Tip #3: Fertilizers
If you’re not already composting, now’s a good time to start. Composting is simple and gives us a great way of reusing the nutrients stored up in parts of plants that we don’t use. Make sure that you add the waste from your chickens or rabbits to your compost as well. If you do, you’re going to have some great nutrients for topping off your garden before shutting it down for the winter.
There are many other natural fertilizers you can utilize such as eggshells, coffee grounds, and even watered-down urine. Notwithstanding, one of my favorites is fish emulsion. It’s something that harkens back to the days of the Indians teaching the Pilgrims how to farm.
You can make fish emulsion from any fish scraps you have. Simply save them up in the freezer and then when you need to make some more, chop them up in a blender and mix them with water. Allow the mixture to sit and decompose in the sun for a few weeks, mixing every couple of days. The resulting liquid will be high in all the critical nutrients for your garden, thereby providing one of the best fertilizers you can find.
Urban Homesteading Tip #4: Weed Control
Commercial weed killers actually contain some pretty stout chemicals. I prefer to go with something more natural myself. In my garden, that means pulling the weeds and adding them to my compost bin. However, for areas where I’m not growing anything, I make a weed killer out of vinegar, Epson salt, and dishwashing liquid. It does take a bit more than the commercial stuff to kill the weeds, but it works.
Urban Homesteading Tip #5: Pest Control
Pest control is actually one of the easiest things to take care of naturally. There are a number of plants whose aromas will act as an insect repellant. These will readily keep common pests out of your garden. Some of those same plants will keep flies and mosquitoes away from your deck or patio too if you plant them around it.
For insects which aren’t repulsed by the smell of basil, lavender, mint, rosemary, or garlic, you might have to up your game a bit. That’s where beneficial insects come in. There are actually a number of carnivorous insects that you want to have in your garden because they will kill the pests you don’t want. At a minimum, you want ladybugs and praying mantises, but there are others which can help as well.
Urban Homesteading Tip #6: You’ve Got To Have Water
The other big area that most people don’t really think about for their survival gardening is water. There are a lot of people who quote the “one gallon of water per person a day” figure. Yet, they forget that one gallon is only enough for drinking and cooking. It’s going to take a lot more than that to take care of your garden.
There’s absolutely no way you’re going to be able to stockpile enough water for your garden unless you have a huge tank or a swimming pool. Even then, you might be able to stockpile enough for a year. But then, what will you do the next year? You’ve got to have some means of harvesting water. You’ll need either a well or rainwater capture unless you are fortunate enough to live by a river.
Of course, you can minimize the amount of water you need to use for gardening. I live in a hot climate, so I do all my watering at night after the sun goes down. This strategy gives the water a chance to soak into the ground and then the plants get the opportunity to soak up that water before the sun evaporates it.
I also use underground watering, which I set up with a pump and a timer. The system can run on my off-grid solar power system so that it’s sustainable even after the power goes out. By making my watering automatic, I actually save water while ensuring that I don’t miss out on watering my garden. Otherwise, I may accidentally kill it off. That’s actually a very real problem where I live.
Urban Homesteading Tip #7: Then There’s Your Livestock
Ok, maybe you can’t have livestock in an urban homestead, but that’s not to say that you can’t have chickens and rabbits. Where I live, I’m limited to six adult birds and that’s it. This figure limits me to enough layers to provide me with eggs. I suppose I could raise some fryers as well and butcher them as soon as they became adults. This would meet the letter of the law while allowing me to raise more chickens for food.
Rabbits grow rapidly and are easy to care for so they’re a great option as well. Besides, we all know that rabbits are very prolific. As a result, you’ll always have more little bunnies growing. They don’t take up much room and, like the chickens, they will eat just about anything from your garden that your family doesn’t. Altogether, feeding both your chickens and your rabbits will be easy.
You may also enjoy reading an additional Off The Grid News article: Getting Your Prepping Stockpile Ready For When You Need It Most
Or download our free 60-page report on how to beat inflation in your own backyard: Cash Garden
Do you have any other tips or suggestions on urban homesteading? Let us know in the comments below.