As the past decade has gone by, I find myself more and more wanting to live a simpler life. I find myself less and less trustful of what big companies and government provide. Changes in thinking have me slowly doing more of my own food growing, buying at farmer's markets, planning for taking care of myself, not counting on the government to do it, etc...
Along the way I've become a bit of an urban homesteader. I live in a fairly big city in southern California. While I've recently begun to dream of moving to some place with seasons and more space around me, I know I'm stuck here for at least 3 more years. I might address this in more detail another time, but this post is about what urban homesteading looks like at my place.
Just so you know, homesteading, urban or otherwise, does not have to reflect one hard and fast look. It can be many levels and take on many different looks. I started with a small garden plot, that is now double what it used to be. I'm in the middle of a two year plan to put a mini fruit orchard in my side yard. I can't have chickens in my area but I hope to (some day when we move). ;)
I also do more cooking from scratch. I make more chicken stock, can items, freeze things, etc....And I've found that the things I started canning and freezing and such, are really not as time consuming as I thought they'd be. Cooking and freezing dried beans instead of buying canned is way cheaper, way healthier, and pretty much all inactive time. Sometimes, in the midst of food preservation, I can't believe I thought I didn't have time for these things before.
So how do I "homestead" with a regular city tract home lot? Let's start by listing what I have to contend with:
-small lot- slightly less than 1/5 of an acre. It's around 7,800 square feet if I remember correctly. The house takes up quite a bit of that.
-City codes do not allow chickens on my lot size, or anything other than regular pets like dogs, cats, fish, etc...
So if I don't have room and can't have animals, what do I do?
- Last winter I started a mini fruit orchard using bare root trees. They're not producing for a another 2 years because they're bare root, but that allowed me to put in 5 trees in one month. That was nice on the pocket book. If you're not familiar with mini fruit orchards, I highly encourage you to go to YouTube and watch Dave Wilson Nursery videos. He has a whole series on high density fruit tree planting that will rock everything you think you know about having fruit trees. In the back I planted a peach tree several years ago that I espalier along the back wall to save space.
- I also have a garden in the back. I takes up a strip along one side of our patio so there is still room for the kids to play in the grass, swing set, etc...
-Besides gardening and growing fruit, I do a lot more 'from scratch' cooking. I like knowing that when I cook and freeze beans, it's just the beans. There's no salt unless I add it, and even then it's good quality salt in the amount I want. There's no BPA from the can or plastic; there are no chemicals that aren't required by the government to be on the label. You get where I'm going? I know exactly what's in it, and that's just hard to know anymore when you buy stuff at the store. The labels are full of stuff that isn't food and not everything is required to be on the label.
I do the same with chicken stock as much as possible. After roasting a chicken, a carcass simmering away for a while with fresh herbs from the garden makes great chicken stock that I can trust. Saved money too.
-I bake a lot of bread, but not all of it. Someday I will. ;) I don't bake the regular wheat sandwich slices very often, but I frequently bake rolls, biscuits, and other loaves like dill bread and french bread. Again, have you looked at the ingredients for bread in the store? Bread shouldn't have an ingredient list more than about 5 items long.
-I make a lot of cleaners, but who doesn't these days. I still buy bleach and laundry soap, and furniture polish. Does anyone have a dusting spray recipe that's good? I haven't liked any of the ones I've tried but I don't want to keep using Pledge. :0 I do make my own rinse aid, fabric softener, room spray, and all purpose spray.
There might be more that I can't think of at the moment, but maybe I'll make a part 2 of the Urban Homesteading blog post. I might go more in depth about the cooking part. We shall see.
Do you homestead? Urban homestead? I'd love to know what 'homesteading' things you do!