Don't be Scared: Create the Ultimate City Homestead!

Since starting a Facebook page several months ago, and amping up the content of this blog, I've been pleasantly surprised with the number of people just like me who are interested in sustainability and self-sufficiency. 

Y'all are my people! 

I'm equally surprised - and humbled - by the number of people in our neighborhood and around town who think we're doing amazing things that they 'couldn't possibly tackle on their own'. First, thank you! It's nice to hear that you think we're superstars ('cuz let's be real, we all are in our own way). But I also want to reassure you that what we're doing is actually pretty easy, and fits well into almost every lifestyle. It just takes a wee bit o' elbow grease and some willingness to learn something new. 

I think most people assume that homesteading (which has always encompassed self-sufficiency and sustainability) is reserved for those who live in the country or on an acreage.

Not so, dear friends! Not so! 

Homestead, and the agricultural elements that go along with it, belong everywhere in America: In cities, in apartments, on rolling acreages, and on traditional farms. John and I strive to break the mold when it comes to agriculture. We want to prove that agriculture and homesteading can flourish wherever dedication and a little tenacity reside. 

Just for conversations sake, I wanted to summarize some of the easy-peasy city homesteading or sustainable projects John and I have completed right here in the city. Our hope is that by seeing what we are doing, you can also get your feet wet with agriculture. 

After all, agriculture is in the heart of homesteading, whether it be in the city or on an acreage. 

Vermicomposting and Composting

Our luck at vermicomposting wasn't very good. I constructed a bin like the one below, and my little worms were livin' the good life for several months. 

I overlooked one little thing, though. I didn't drill drainage holes in the bottom of my bin, so I eventually drowned the worms. My goal for 2014 is to get this bin fixed and ready for a new batch of red wigglers. This time, I vow not to kill them.

We also have a standard compost bin in our backyard, which I recommend you look into right away as a city-dweller. This is the easiest way for us to compost our kitchen and garden waste so far. We just drop the goodies inside, and give 'er a stir every few days. Twice a year (if not more!) I am able to till the contents of the bin - which, by this time is beautiful, rich compost - right into our raised garden beds.

Speaking of which…

Grow a Garden!

You don't have to be a green thumb to start growing your own food. Grab a few buckets and a packet of seeds and get growing! I'm not going to judge you if you grab some seeds from the Walmart Garden Center. I don't care if you use Miracle Grow. And, if your little garden gets overtaken by weeds and you throw your hands in the air and give up, that's ok.

My point? Just try. I promise you that no matter what the circumstances, you'll get better every year. Every spring you will learn something new, and every fall you'll find yourself more successful. Start small, and don't worry about what the big shots are doing. They're just a bunch of show-offs anyway.

Gardening can take place wherever you want! If you don't want to till up a patch in your yard, think about adding some containers around the front of your home. A little greenery in the right places never hurt anybody. 

Rain Barrels

If you go ahead and plant that garden we just talked about, you are going to need a way to water those babies. Instead of raising your water bill, build a rain barrel on the cheap. Plus, your plants like rain water better than tap water, especially if you live in the city.

You can get creative and match your home, too! Rain barrels don't have to be ugly. But, like we've proven, sometimes they are {see below}.

Make it Yourself!

There are so many household items you can make yourself, and should make yourself. After all, being self-sufficient is pretty much all about doing what you can for yourself, without being part of consumerism and being dependent on others. 

Try making your own laundry soap. I got my recipe from one of my in-laws, and have since passed it on to all of you. My own family members (Hey, Danielle! Hi, Aunt Sharon!) have tried this recipe, and love it, too. 

You can also redefine your 'need' for commercial cleaning products that are toxic to us and our environment. One perfect example of this is how I ditched the oven cleaner and now use just water and a handle little scrubber to quickly and easily clean my oven.

When you're ready, do some big stuff. 

There will come a point in your journey in agriculture and city homesteading where you want to take a risk, and do something a little bigger.

Do it!

Yeah, it might be unconventional. It might make your friends and family question your sanity. You might question your sanity.

Do it anyway!

One such example happened last winter when I realized that an expanding garden in 2013 would mean bigger watering needs. So, I asked John to build me a fleet of rain barrels for the backyard, right behind the garage.

He tucked them away and I disguised them with lattice and vining plants, so we don't look like the neighborhood hillbillies. These rain barrels saved my life this summer! I didn't have to use city water for ANY of my gardening needs. When the rest of the city was in a drought and was watering their damn lawns, I was sittin' fancy with my fleet of rain barrels, baby.

And, that's what it's all about, folks.

Wanna get back to nature? Want to know where your food comes from? Want to depend less on consumerism and the man, and more on yourself? Want to reduce your imprint on Mother Earth?  Live in the city?

Well, friend. You have the perfect storm just waiting for you right in your own backyard.

Don't let anybody tell you that you can't be involved in agriculture, sustainability, or homesteading just because you are a "townie".

Build yourself a rain barrel and get some composting worms and show those mo-fo's who's boss.

{Um. That would be you…you're the boss…}

Go forth!

{One more thing: This post is today's Straight From the Corn State's Featured Friday Blogger. Please go to their Facebook page and give them a LIKE!}


  1. I badly want a garden but i live in an apartment with not much available space but i love trying to plant little things and figuring out what I'm doing wrong or right (yay!). My biggest accomplishments so far are two little baby tomatoes and six foot sunflowers!

    1. I planted sunflowers this year. They aren't the really tall kind, but I hope to get lots of seeds and more birds in our area as a result.

  2. I too believe that homesteading can happen anywhere; it's a state of mind - or of mind over matter maybe? Thank you for sharing this at the HomeAcre Hop; I hope you'll join us again this Thursday.

    Kathi at Oak Hill Homestead

  3. Awesome article, I am going to start my worm farm this year also..... My chicks love them, plus I can always use the bait....

    1. I like that I could keep the worm tote in my semi-heated garage in the winter, too. Much easier than trucking out to the compost bin in the snow. The tote won't smell, either!

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