Are you itching to start homesteading today? If so, you're in good company.
In the past few years, homesteading and living a more self-sufficient life has become increasingly popular across North America. And not just among rural folks. Even city dwellers in big cities are trying apartment homesteading and learning traditional homesteading skills.
No matter where you live, there are many activities available to introduce yourself to homesteading. And today you can start learning many of the skills you'll need right on your mobile device or laptop.
Here are seven things that anyone can do to start homesteading today, regardless of where you live.
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1. Start Homesteading Today and Grow Your Own...
Honestly, this idea is going to be the first piece of advice any veteran homesteader will give you, and for good reason. Growing your own low-cost garden can be done in virtually any space, and can give you access to fresh, natural, and free food. Start simply, and learn how to build a cinder block garden as a weekend project.
Even better, growing your own garden to feed your family helps secure your food supply in uncertain times. Start by choosing easy vegetables to grow with kids and you'll encourage the next generation to homestead too!
Plan to Grow Vegetables Indoors or Outdoors
Create a plan to grow vegetables, herbs or even simple flowers to bring some natural beauty to your space. Learn the basics of permaculture design principles to make use of the natural microclimates in your suburban yard.
I love to grow herbs because it provides a constant source of fresh ingredients and flavors for my cooking. With herbs, it’s as simple as plucking off a few leaves when you need them. And you'll find it's fairly easy to grow herbs indoors.
If you have a yard of any kind, starting a backyard garden is pretty simple, but for those of you who are in a condo of some sort, or don’t have access to a yard, there are some easy solutions.Pick up some over-the-railing style window baskets if your patio has railings, or even create a stacked rebar tower of potted plants, ideal for using limited space super efficiently.
Are you in a condo with one of those patios that have a separator between yourself and your neighbor? If so, those barriers provide a perfect area to toss up some lattice or posts and start growing tomatoes and other climbing plants. If you don’t have access to a patio, micro herb gardens still do exceptionally well in small pots on a windowsill. To give them a boost, try using a natural homemade plant food recipe.
2. Learn About Canning and Preserving
Canning or preserving food is a natural way to increase the longevity of certain foods without them spoiling or requiring refrigeration. And it's a good introduction to a basic homesteading skill.
Before the mass shipping of produce, canning, preserving and dehydrating were how those of us in colder climates ensured we would have enough fruits, vegetables, and other out-of-season foods to last the winter.
In a global effort to buy local, secure their food supply, and avoid imported produce, many homesteaders are wisely home canning and preserving food when it’s in season. In recent years, fermenting and pickling have caught the attention of many people interested in food preservation plus natural health solutions.
Get Started Canning or Preserving
Many of today's aspiring homesteaders may not have enough space to grow a large amount of produce during their season. So to get started homesteading today, buy fruit or vegetables from farmers' markets during the harvest. Then start canning them yourself. Or get started by making pickled vegetables as a fun family activity!
If you’re buying a large quantity, negotiate a lower price with vendors. And it's always good to support locally grown food.
Tip: Before you rush out to buy a flat of tomatoes or pickling cucumbers, think about where you will store your preserves. You might need to clean out your pantry, build new shelves, or find an alternative to a root cellar if space is tight.
Related: How to Make No-Cook Jam
If you’ve grown enough of your own food you should also learn to can some of it. A quick Google search will lead you to a ton of really good beginner guides and instructional videos to canning. For example, learning how to make homemade applesauce is easy and a great weekend project.
Get a book like The Ball Complete Guide to Home Preserving as a reference. An added benefit to preserves is that although you may need to replace the rubber seal lid, mason jars themselves are reusable for each season. Add a good set of mason jars, and pressure canning supplies as essential homestead kitchen tools.
3. Rainwater Harvesting
This one’s simple and easy when you're ready to start homesteading - even in the city. If you’re in an area that draws on a city water supply, save money with rainwater harvesting. Do your part to decrease the power and resources needed to pump, filter and maintain the city water system.
The ideal place for a rain barrel is at the end of an eavestrough or gutter. Or make your own with a wide-angled piece of metal or plastic to funnel water in (though these are less effective). Either way, a rain barrel of any kind is a step in the right direction, and perfect for watering your garden.
Related: Our Off Grid Water System Setup
4. Connect With Other Homesteaders
When first starting out as a homesteader, it’s always good to meet other people in your area who are interested in the same thing. There are plenty of local homesteading groups, and even online forums where you can find new ideas, ask questions and learn from more experienced homesteaders.
Just do a little bit of research for these types of groups in your area, and you’re bound to find them. Most of them meet occasionally and/or engage in different homestead related activities. Each group will be different, but it’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded people and increase your knowledge, helping you to get started homesteading today.
Tip: Facebook has many homesteading groups to join. Search for a local one, or choose a group based on your particular interest. For example, my mom belongs to several homestead cooking groups, chicken groups, and homestead crafting groups.
5. Try Foraging
Learning how to forage is a great way to start homesteading today. The number of herbs, flowers, and wild edibles growing naturally in your area may surprise you. For example, in a large part of the north-east United States and corresponding areas of Canada, you may come across:
- Johns Wort
Use foraging to teach your kids, and take the opportunity to get outside as a family. To get started learning skills to help you to learn about urban foraging, do a quick online search, or ask your local environmental agency, and get out there! This can be as simple as keeping your eye out when you’re at the park or finding your nearest State or Provincial Park (double-check regulations beforehand).
#6. Brush Up on Your Carpentry Skills
Okay, at first glance, this might seem a bit daunting. I promise it’s not as hard as it seems.
Carpentry is a great way to avoid purchasing mass-produced furniture and products, save some money, and learn some useful skills.
Start with something simple, like a bookcase, a cold frame, or even simpler, a Giant Jenga set. Yes, that’s right, the same childhood building blocks a game, but much, much bigger!
If you don’t have access to a lot of tools or space, a Giant Jenga set is a very easy way to introduce yourself to the basics of carpentry, and you get a really entertaining game for your patio at the end.
All you need are some two-by-fours, a measuring tape, a saw and some sandpaper and you can get to it. There are numerous “How To” guides on the web, and it’s a great outdoor game to create yourself.
Carpentry for Homesteading
Once you’ve tried carpentry, if it’s something you enjoy, try some more challenging projects. Experience is the best way to learn, and carpentry is a skill that is a great asset if you want to start homesteading today. It gives you the ability to construct custom pieces for any project around the home, and fix something rather than replace it.
Try to choose homestead projects that will help hone your carpentry skills and help you move towards your homesteading dreams. And if you're planning to homestead and homeschool, get your kids their own toolsets too!
Many local hardware stores also offer introductory classes or seminars on different aspects of carpentry.
#7. Raising Micro Livestock (Backyard Chickens or Meat Rabbits)
Raising micro livestock, such as quails, chickens or meat rabbits, may seem like a project suited to people with large yards, and in certain cases, it is. Yet if you have limited space, such as a balcony or patio, and want to raise your own livestock, try raising quail. They need less food than chickens and can live in a smaller space.
Quail produce delicious eggs packed with more nutrients than an average chicken egg. Create an enclosure in the space you’ve designated, or stack cages if you have even less space. Double-check local bylaws beforehand, but you’d be surprised at what’s fully legal to keep and farm, even in a city.
If you’re an aspiring homesteader with a bit more space to work with, consider raising chickens or rabbits for meat. Rabbits provide meat, but breed up to four times a year, and produce good-sized litters each time.
On the other hand, raising chickens gives you access to fresh eggs, and with a little more space (like a DIY chicken coop) you can raise chicks and butcher chickens for meat. Either way, rabbits and chickens can easily be raised in a backyard with minimal investment in backyard rabbit or chicken supplies. And they provide a great source of fresh, natural meat. Learn about the five best homestead meats to get started with for inspiration. (Another option is to try raising turkeys.)
And there you have it - seven ways to get start homesteading today. Pick one, get out there, and do it!
This post is part of the Homesteading Blog Hop #294!