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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Urban Homesteading: Gardening

Urban homesteading is quite possible to do. However you should realize that this does take time, energy and many frustrations. It's not an easy fix to financial woes. And to be successful, you will need your neighbors, especially if you live in an apartment.

Let's start with the apartment garden. If you have a patio, balcony, stoop or counter top you can grow your own garden. It's a little late in the season to start gardening, but you do have time to prepare for next spring.

Container growing is simpler than what I do. You do not need to worry about weeds and the heat. Try growing carrots, lettuce and cabbages on counter tops. Install a grow lamp to get the sunlight needed. Grow tomatoes on a trellis. There are also miniature varieties of trees, such as banana, lemon, lime and orange trees that can grow in the corner of a room. Pineapples are easy to grow indoors as well.

If you do have some money to spend on the type of container you can use, look into an upside down tomato planter or a Tomato Success Kit. If you do not have money to spend, wash out and save the plastic containers from your milk or pop bottles.

There are hydroponic systems that can be set up inside of a closet, or on counter tops. These will run you into some money, but will end up paying for itself. My husband and I built a free standing closet, and use a hydroponics system to grow spring veggies in the winter time. The things that can not be canned, like lettuce. Hydroponic systems do not use soil, so you can save some money there.

Grow lights can also be used for darker rooms. We have an empty cubby under our master bathroom counter. We have placed a grow light, mounting it to the under side of the counter top. Then covered the opening with a black shower curtain. That allows the heat to stay in the small area. We are unable to grow anything tall in this manner, but we can start seedlings in the dead of winter, and have fresh herbs all year round.

Roof top gardening is something else I have seen and heard of. I have never tried this, so I will refer you to IDRC.

If you are lucky enough to have a yard, your options are much broader. Look into raised beds to help simplify, as well as double rows, so you can save room. Obviously a double row is twice the size of the traditional row. 4 feet is a good width, you can access the middle easily. With tighter spacing, the less weeding you will end up doing.

We have empty lots in the city. Families have come together to rent out a lot and start a public garden. They grow all the vegetables they are able to, even setting aside a row for the poor. You don't have to have a lot of money to Urban Homestead, but you do need the friendship of your neighbors to become successful at it. A neighborhood co-op is the best resource that a Urban homesteader can have. It does take a lot of veggies to survive harvest to harvest. Talking with a neighbor, getting them interested in growing one or two vegetables that differ from your own, will allow more diversity in your menu. As you grow your tomatoes, have the neighbor grow peppers, and when they come in, share the bounty with one another.

There is absolutely no reason to rely completely on the government or business owners for all your needs. Just remember that things can not happen all at once. Buy a packet of seeds while you are at the store, save the seeds from the veggies you eat {uncooked}. Save pop and milk containers to use for your garden. Experiment a bit to see what will be successful for you.

Just be patient, if you are determined to be an Urban Homesteader, than you will succeed. Ignore the naysayers, and follow your needs.

I hope this helps you get an idea of the things that need to be done to begin your Urban homestead garden. As always, feel free to ask any questions.


I started this blog as a way to document my failures {and successes when they happen} I never thought that I would find such a diverse group of readers that were interested in self reliance. It makes a heart happy to know that I am not alone on my 5 acre plot.

or build your system slowly, like we did, just place hydroponic system in the search box below;


Marcellg said...

What an interesting piece, I am a keen gardner and I grow most of my own vegetables and even some fruit (i have a cherry tree, strawberry plants and blackberries) but it can hard work sometimes especially pest control, although I must say out of all the garden and vegetable patches the hardest work I have done was laying a new lawn, I decided to put down new turf between the house and the vegetable patch and I must say that preparing the land and soil ready for the turf was back breaking but worth it in the end. Rather than just having vegetables and a few fruits I now have a lawn and flower beds bordering it with a pathway to the vegetable growing part of my garden and I love it.

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