I’ve been doing some radio shows, podcasts, and classes to get the word out about my books Weed-Free Gardening and Grow Your Own Spices. But no matter who I talk to, the first thing everyone wants to know about isn’t my books… it’s always our homestead. Homesteading is a hot topic!
And I totally get why! The idea of homesteading is romantic and exciting (especially if you aren’t doing it, but wish you were). Here’s the thing…
You don’t have to dream about this lifestyle. You can just start living it now.
With a little ingenuity and focus, you can turn your present home into a place of productivity to reduce costs, enhance your joy in life, and become more connected to nature.
Homesteading requires time and energy. So, you will need to free up those resources to get started. This post (that I wrote for Mother Earth News about 7 years ago) is still the perfect way to get started: The ABCs of Homesteading.
I also recommend you throw out the homesteader rule book running through your head. You know the one I mean.
It says something like: To homestead you must grow a massive self-sufficient vegetable garden, build a root cellar, be off grid, and free range chickens in a rotational grazing system with pigs and cows in the pasture (that barely anybody can afford to buy).
Poppycock! That kind of homesteading only worked when governments were literally giving away land just to get someone to move on to it. Today, we need to homestead with ingenuity where we live right now.
Read this post to see how its possible to homestead anywhere: Urban, Suburban, and Rural Homesteading: Which Type Is Right for You.
The Simplestead Approach
Now, I have to warn you… I’m not one of those homesteaders who does a lot of hard work all the time. I’m the kind who does a little work here and there. I also set up simple routines that are easy to stick too.
If that’s your speed, then the collection of posts outlined below can also point the way. These posts are meant to be read in sequence like chapters in a book.
I also hope that you’ll read one, mull it over, and maybe take some some simple steps before moving on to the next post. That way by the time you finish the series, you’ll be well on your way to living your homestead dreams!
Part 1: Homesteading Mindset
These first four posts are meant to get you into the right mindset for effective homesteading. They can also help wake up some of the simple skills you’ll need to develop, hone, and carry out your homestead plans.
Part 2: Homesteading Preparation
The next part of this process is to start composting. Compost is essential for growing food in soil or potting medium (e.g. raised beds or grow bags). Plus, learning to manage personal waste and closing the resource loop are critical to becoming less dependent on outside resources.
Part 3: Start a Homesteading Garden
The next step is to start a garden. For a first garden, I highly recommend creating a space that is as beautiful as it is productive. That way you’ll want to spend a lot of time in your garden.
I also recommend growing a “potager”. Potager is a French word that means “for the pot”. It implies the kind of garden that you harvest from when you cook. It usually has edible flowers and perennial herbs as well. People also call these kitchen gardens.
A potager is completely different than a farm-type or field garden where you grow a whole bunch of the same thing and harvest all at once. Potager gardens don’t require a lot of storage, or food preservation skills, because the garden is where you store your food.
With a potager, you get earlier harvests. You harvest more often over a longer period of time. And you get a much better sense of how much and what you actually need to grow to make a dent in your grocery bill. (Later you can scale up to preserve food too).
- Starting a Homestead Potager
- Plan Your Homestead Potager Garden Location
- Pathways For Your Homestead Potager
- Homestead Potager Garden Bed Design
- The Homestead Potager Garden Design
- Constructing Your Homestead Potager
- Plant Your Homestead Potager
- Harvest and Succession Plant Your Homestead Potager
- Easy Composting for Your Organic Garden
- The Power of a Well-Planned Potager
Also, check out this post that I wrote for Mother Earth News to help you figure out how to use your amazing harvests in the kitchen.
The ABCs of Homesteading: K is for Kitchen Skills
Part 4: Raise Livestock (Optional)
I know everyone associates livestock with homesteading. And, animals are a lot of fun to keep. Just be sure you’re ready for the long-term and daily commitment of animal care.
Here are some posts to help you plan ahead.
- Start Raising Chickens Simply
- The ABCs of Homesteading: D is for Ducks
- Beginner’s Guide to Raising Goats for Milk Production
- Basic Goat Care Management Responsibilities for New Goat Herd Owners