Are you interested in sustainable living and having more control over your food? Then urban homesteading is for you. It’s a great way to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle.

You don’t have to live in the country to be a homesteader. With a little bit of creativity and some hard work, anyone can start a homestead, even in an urban environment.

I’ve been urban homesteading for about two years now. The long-term plan is to move and have more property in the country. But until then I’m learning and doing what I can right here.

If the homesteading lifestyle appeals to you, go for it! Baby-step after baby-step, you can build an urban homestead, too!

What is Urban Homesteading?

Urban homesteaders live a life that involves growing food, raising animals, and practicing sustainable living in a city or suburban environment. In recent years, the movement has been gaining popularity.

But urban homesteading is not a new concept. It has been around since the 1970s when the term “homesteading” was coined to describe the back-to-the-land movement.

An urban homestead can take many forms, from growing a few vegetables in a small backyard garden to keeping chickens or bees–all in an urban setting.

How to Urban Homestead: Start Urban Homesteading

Urban Homesteading: Sustainable living where you are!

If you’re interested in homesteading, congratulations! You’re already taking the first step towards a more sustainable and self-sufficient life. Here are some steps you can take to get started:

Assess Your Space

The first thing you need to do is assess your space. How much land do you have? A backyard, a balcony, or just a windowsill?

Don’t think of this as a limit, though. Just an indication of the kind of creativity you’ll need. You don’t need acres of land to create an urban homestead.

If you have a yard, you have the most space to work with. You can grow a variety of vegetables and herbs, and maybe even some nut or fruit trees. You can raise chickens, rabbits, or even bees.

If you have a balcony, you can grow a lot of food in containers. Use vertical growing to your advantage. You need to pay attention to the direction your balcony is facing and how much sunlight your plants will get through the day. 

If you only have a windowsill, you can still grow herbs, micro-greens, and some indoor plants. Consider using grow lights to grow food indoors if you have the space.

Choose What to Grow and Raise

The next step is to choose what to grow and raise. Start with vegetables, fruits, and herbs that you and your family enjoy eating.

Ask your local nursery and extension office about varieties that grow well in your climate. Online groups specifically for your area will also have knowledge and experience that you can learn from.

If you’re raising animals, make sure you’re following local regulations and have the necessary space and resources to care for them properly.

Start small and expand as you gain experience. Don’t try to do everything at once. Focus on a few crops or animals like backyard chickens and learn how to care for them before adding more.

Setting Up Your Homestead

Now that you’ve assessed your space and chosen what to grow and raise, it’s time to start setting up. This includes prepping the soil, constructing garden beds or containers, and building appropriate housing and fencing for any animals you’ll be raising.

Make sure you have the necessary tools and equipment. Shovels, rakes, watering cans, and hand tools are basic tools you will want to have on hand. 

Other specialized tools, you may not need often, and you should consider borrowing them from a friend or a local tool library. That way you don’t have to invest the money or storage space in a tool you’ll only use occasionally.

Think about where you want to put your compost pile. As you garden, care for animals, and cook meals from scratch, you’ll have a lot of kitchen scraps and other organic waste that can become amazing amendments for your garden!

And consider investing in a rain barrel or other water-saving devices to collect rainwater and reduce your water usage–and your water bill. Mulching well, and using the core gardening method are another couple of ways to reduce your water usage and help make your garden more drought-resistant.

Maintaining Your Urban Homestead

Things to Do To Grow Food Infograhic. Test your soil! Whats your pH & NPK? Know when to direct so and when to start indoors. Plant your vegetables at the proper time. Mulch well and weed often. Amend your soil with compost. Water regularly and consider an irrigation system. Check regularly for pests and disease.

Watering and Irrigation

Watering is essential to keeping your urban homestead thriving. A good rule of thumb is to water deeply and infrequently, allowing the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. This encourages deep root growth and helps plants become more drought-tolerant.

Consider installing a drip irrigation system to make watering more efficient. Drip irrigation delivers water directly to the roots, reducing water loss due to evaporation and runoff. It also saves time and effort compared to hand-watering.

Soil Health

Urban soils are often depleted of nutrients, so it’s important to test the soil and add organic material to rebuild the soil.

Either use an at-home kit or send a sample to be tested for pH, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium levels. Once you know this information, you can adjust according to the needs of the plants you’ll be growing.

You can also use compost, aged manure, worm castings, and leaf mold to enrich the soil and help provide essential nutrients. Or use liquid fertilizers, which can be applied directly to the plants. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and avoid over-fertilizing, which can damage plants and harm the environment.

Another option if you have poor soil health is to build raised beds and containers for your garden. You would then be choosing what soil you start with yourself and not be dependent on the soil health of where you are living.

Pest Control

Pests can pose a major problem in urban settings. But you can control them without resorting to harmful chemicals in the garden.

Prevention is the first method. Remove dead plant material promptly, and avoid over-watering, which can create a breeding ground for pests. 

Pay attention to what is happening in your garden to diagnose and treat your plants before the pests do major damage. Learn to identify the insects you see in your garden so you’ll know if they are beneficial or not.

Insects aren’t the only pests you can deal with in an urban area. Moles, squirrels, and even deer can be a problem, and each will have their unique solutions.

Make sure any livestock you have is well secured against predators. We lost two chickens in our first year to a raccoon because the chicken coop wasn’t secure enough. 

Preserving and Using Your Harvest

Preserve Food

Preserving your harvest is an important part of any homestead. There are many ways to put up your fruits and vegetables, including canning, freezing, dehydrating, and fermenting.

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Canning is a great way to keep your harvest for long-term storage. You can use a water bath or pressure canner depending on the type of food you are canning.

Freezing is another great option. You can freeze fruits and vegetables in plastic bags or containers.

Dehydrating is a good option for herbs, fruits, and vegetables. You can use a dehydrator or an oven to dehydrate your food.

Fermenting is a great way to preserve vegetables and create probiotic foods like sauerkraut and kimchi.

Cooking

Cooking is one of my favorite parts of homesteading. It’s so fulfilling to use your own home-grown fruits and vegetables to feed your family!

Try experimenting with different cooking techniques, such as roasting, grilling, and sautéing. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes and flavor combinations! 

Sharing

Sharing your harvest is a great way to connect with your community and spread the joy of urban homesteading. You can share your fruits and vegetables with your neighbors, friends, and family. 

You can also donate your excess produce to local food banks and community gardens. Sharing your harvest is a rewarding way to give back to your community and promote sustainable living.

Home-grown and home-made products make great gifts, too. Your friends and family would love a jar of homemade jam or some zucchini bread from your garden!

Conclusion

Congratulations! You have taken the first step towards urban homesteading. Remember, urban homesteading is a journey, not a destination. It takes time, effort, and patience to build a successful homestead.

As you embark on this journey, keep in mind that there will be challenges along the way. The weather, pests, and other factors can affect your crops and animals. But don’t let that discourage you. Learn from your mistakes and keep moving forward.

One of the most important things to remember is to start small. Don’t try to do it all at once. Begin with a small garden and a few chickens. As you gain experience, you can expand your homestead and try new things.

Another key aspect of urban homesteading is community. Get to know your neighbors and share your knowledge and resources. 

Join local gardening and homesteading groups in person or online to connect with like-minded people and learn from their experiences.

Finally, have fun! Urban homesteading is a rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle. Enjoy the process and take pride in what you have accomplished. You are making a positive impact for yourself, your family, and the world around you!

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