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Urban Homesteading - Page 2

post #21 of 73
I live in town on a 1/4 acre lot and grow a lot of our own food. I planted 15 tomato plants and have harvested over 300 pounds of tomatoes and canned most of them. I should have enough tomatoes and pasta sauce for much of next year. We grow about 50 feet worth of potatoes, enough for many, many meals. We planted 2 apple trees (small, semi-dwarf varieties) and have 12 blueberry bushes that provided us with quarts of berries this year. The berries are only 2 years old, so I am hoping for more berries to come.

I am now doing my Fall plantings and have rows of spinach, beets, chard, kale, several lettuces. With cheap hoop housing, I should be able to keep the kale and chard going through the winter.

So, the thing is...you may not need that much land. A small plot can be exceptionally fruitful with planning and good soil. Work with what you have. Sounds like you have a good plan started -- chickens in back where you have shade and veggies up front where there is more sun. Maybe look into selectively pruning or even removing a tree?

We will be planting more fruit tress this Fall and training them into an espalier along the north side of the garden. This takes very little room and provides wonderful natural fencing. Again, making do with a small space doesn't mean giving up having a productive yard.

Typing fast, sorry if I am rambling...
post #22 of 73
Thank you for sharing what all you are doing on a 1/4 acre! That is very very inspiring!
post #23 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenmamato2 View Post
Thank you for sharing what all you are doing on a 1/4 acre! That is very very inspiring!
Oh sure. I feel like I talk people's ears off about our garden. Of course, very few people in my non-virtual life want to hear about it. MDC is my outlet.

I have been thrilled with our production. I have finally figured out how to grow tomatoes in high heat and humidity and the fruit production has been better this year as well. I have had a few failures (leeks and cabbages being the big ones) and have had to learn to let some things go. The heat and cabbage moths are explosive, so there are some things I just can't get to grow well. Or I need to invest in more equipment than I can afford which isn't going to happen.

I guess my biggest lesson has been 'keep trying'. Keep an eye out for areas that can be planted -- the small strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, the small area behind the garage has been great for berries, the shady area behind the kids' playset has been good for summer lettuce production.

I try new varieties all the time, always on the lookout for a better variety that will survive the heat. I have also learned what to plant for fall and winter gardening. Lots of greens will survive low temps and even snow. Snow is actually quite insulating and I have harvested beautiful kales all winter long. Broccoli, brussel spouts are also wonderful for winter gardening and can be started right now in a lot of areas.

I have travelled quite a bit and have always been amazed that in most parts of the world people keep small gardens everywhere! Every little bit of ground that can be planted will have a small patch of greens or cabbage, onions, herbs, a small fruit tree, etc, etc, etc. A quarter acre is actually quite large by global standards.
post #24 of 73
Yes it really is quite large when you think about it. The book I mentioned earlier, the Backyard Homestead is all about how to homestead on 1/4 acre and how much can be produced on that "small" amount of land.

You mentioned that you'd found a good variety of tomatoes that handle heat and humidity well. Being that I'm in Texas, I'd love to hear what has worked for you. Heat and humidity are a way of life here.

Thanks again for sharing your stories - I loved hearing about the different places you've found to plant around your property - great ideas!
post #25 of 73
I am going to check out that book. Sounds like my kind of reading.

My favorite tomatoes so far are Momotaros and Japanese trifele blacks. They have been heavy producers and amazingly have avoided getting blight which is a horrible fungus here. The Momotaros are very heavy, fist-sized and super tasty. Real 'tomato' flavor. The Japanese trifele blacks are smaller, pear shaped and wonderfully tangy. These have been the best addition to my tomato sauce and we will be growing scads of them next year.

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/7279/s

http://www.territorialseed.com/produ...om_tomato_seed




I also planted saucing tomatoes that did beautifully for the first half of the summer, but have all recently been taken by late season blight.


http://www.territorialseed.com/product/9927/232


I have really liked this one. Big, heavy, tasty fruit, though it has also gotten a lot of blight and I just pulled the last few plants.

http://www.territorialseed.com/product/1173/232


I train them up 6 foot wire fencing that I have staked with long bamboo poles. The bamboo I cut from a neighbor's field that is overrun with it. I made sure the poles were very dry before using them, since I wasn't sure if the bamboo could root form the poles. The tall fencing is essential around here...I prune the vines and allow them to grow high and wide and this has helped immensely with air circulation and avoiding fungus. There is no natural deterrent to blight and even the fungicides are only marginally helpful. Best to just avoid it as much as possible.
post #26 of 73
Thank you SO SO much for that information! Tomatoes are one of our favorite foods. DD eats two fresh tomatoes a day just by herself! I really hope that next year we can bring a bunch of tomatoes into our garden. I will definitely check out those varieties. Thank you so much!
post #27 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthiegirl View Post

So, the thing is...you may not need that much land. A small plot can be exceptionally fruitful with planning and good soil. Work with what you have. Sounds like you have a good plan started -- chickens in back where you have shade and veggies up front where there is more sun. Maybe look into selectively pruning or even removing a tree?

We will be planting more fruit tress this Fall and training them into an espalier along the north side of the garden. This takes very little room and provides wonderful natural fencing. Again, making do with a small space doesn't mean giving up having a productive yard.
This is my thinking, too. I used to think I wanted a lot of land, but now I think I'd feel too isolated. I grew up on 10 acres out in the country and always felt lonely when at home. Plus, my parents had to work too hard on the land, just to keep it halfway tame. I really, really like the idea of urban homesteading better. My children are too small right now (to my mind), but I really want chickens and bees someday. I'm too chicken, though (ha ha) to check on city codes. don't want my dream ruined. I could live just outside of the city limits, though, and have whatever I want yet still be "in town" for all practical purposes.

We garden and line dry and make our own bread and stuff like that already, and our small house and small yard are fine.

Anyone else actually aspire to urban homesteading rather than just settling for it until you have your dream land?
post #28 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by mariew View Post
my first thought was that you have enough room for a couple of nigerian dwarf goats!
I am just starting to think about this. Rumor is that by adding a 2nd animal to our family (we have chickens) our property taxes will drop drastically because we become agricultural land. Any advice on where to start figuring out my needs and compatibility issues. How do you vacation with an animal that needs milking? I can easily leave the chickens to be feed/watered by a neighbor kid, but milking???

We have about 1/2 acre with 11 chickens and plenty of space. I have a small garden on our property (strawberries, raspberries, onions, garlic, potatoes, tomatillos, 1 apple tree), but rent land for the big garden. We had a bunch of trees removed last year and I am hoping to put in a patio area surrounded by raised beds to plant more of the herbs and tomato-y sort of things while still keeping the big space takers and not so pretty items at the rental land. (winter squashes, summer squash, corn, root veggies, etc.)

I love reading other people's aspirations, especially when they are modest and yet not easily attainable. It makes me feel better about my challenges. And also that I'm not the only crazy person out there who thinks what they do can make a difference- both to their families lives and the community (earth) we all share.
post #29 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyKT View Post
Anyone else actually aspire to urban homesteading rather than just settling for it until you have your dream land?
post #30 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by AmyKT View Post
This is my thinking, too. I used to think I wanted a lot of land, but now I think I'd feel too isolated. I grew up on 10 acres out in the country and always felt lonely when at home. Plus, my parents had to work too hard on the land, just to keep it halfway tame. I really, really like the idea of urban homesteading better. My children are too small right now (to my mind), but I really want chickens and bees someday. I'm too chicken, though (ha ha) to check on city codes. don't want my dream ruined. I could live just outside of the city limits, though, and have whatever I want yet still be "in town" for all practical purposes.

We garden and line dry and make our own bread and stuff like that already, and our small house and small yard are fine.

Anyone else actually aspire to urban homesteading rather than just settling for it until you have your dream land?
Oh, absolutely check on your codes. I was told by EVERYONE that chickens are illegal here. My friend is a policeman and he even told me that chickens are illegal. I called the city office and was told that they were illegal and I asked for a copy of the law. Well, turns out, there isn't one! All this time, people have thought that chickens were illegal and they are not. There is no law on the books and I spent a couple of hours at the town hall with the city planner going over the codes. She was as amazed as I was! Though I don't think she was as excited as me.

We have some travel planned this coming year, but plan on getting chickens when we get home and settled. Our next big step in building our little urban homestead.
post #31 of 73
We want to homestead, but we're renting, and we're not in the house we want to be in long term. Things may change for us soon where we can buy a house within the next year.... they may not. If they do, we will start REALLY urban homesteading.

This next year, assuming we are in this house for another year, we will put in a modest garden, and some above-ground plants as well. I think we may also plant some things on public land where wild things are growing, in hopes that it will provide some food to local wildlife and then we can "forrage" a bit as well.
post #32 of 73
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthiegirl View Post
Oh, absolutely check on your codes. I was told by EVERYONE that chickens are illegal here. My friend is a policeman and he even told me that chickens are illegal. I called the city office and was told that they were illegal and I asked for a copy of the law. Well, turns out, there isn't one! All this time, people have thought that chickens were illegal and they are not. There is no law on the books and I spent a couple of hours at the town hall with the city planner going over the codes. She was as amazed as I was! Though I don't think she was as excited as me.

Oh, that's funny! But I could totally see that happening here. I work at a library and we have a copy of the city codes, though I'm not sure they are current. There is absolutely no mention of chickens being illegal. The only mention is that they can't run around at large. . I can handle that. I have a feeling, though, that the immediate reaction if I called city hall would be to say that they are illegal. I'll have to get my nerve up and call from a phone not listed in my name sometime to check.
post #33 of 73
We have a little urban homestead. We have our chicken coop in the back with 6 chickens and accidentally a rooster which we will have to find a new home for. My husband cut back a lot of trees so we could have a garden in the back. We planted it and it did horribly. Not enough research. What we do have that is doing well is our "orchard". On the easement between the sidewalk (well were it would be if our yard had one) and the road we have four fruit trees: plums and peaches. Then we have another fruit tree in the front. The front walk is lined with blueberry bushes and on either side of that perpendicular to the road we are growing a hedge of raspberries and a hedge of blackberries. Some day when it is larger it will be our natural and edible fence. WE have an apple tree, a key lime tree, and a clementine tree in the back yard along with some guava's. WE need another apple tree to pollinate the one we have.

Another friend we have that lives down the street has incorporated their garden into the landscape as they don't have any one area big enough to plant a traditional garden. So they have various greens growing around the base of trees, watermelons along a walkway with a bench near by. Sunflowers, beans, and whatever will grow during that season just worked into their landscape plan. My other neighbor does container gardening along the side of his house. Yet another neighbor incorporated some food plants into his flower garden. Sweet potatoes make a nice ground cover, my next door neighbor has them covering her easement, although she never digs them up and eats them, I dig mine up, but they were in the garden.

You might be surprised if you begin to walk around your neighborhood at the creative ways people have incorporated urban homesteading into their lives (or maybe not, I don't know what your neighborhood is like)
post #34 of 73
urban homesteading!! This is definitely my goal/reality and not just a settling till something better comes along. I LOVE the strong community, low gas costs, many activities for the kids, etc. that living in the city includes, all the reasons I don't want to live out in the country. I also feel that so much can be done on small amounts of land, I do more with my land than alot of country folks i know

We just moved to a new house with the biggest yard yet (.65 acre!!) and am so excited to get things moving. Already planted long term plants like rhubarb, service berry, blueberries. Am excited to plant some trees like cherries once my morning sickness subsides! This Winter we're building chicken coop and duck housing (khaki campbells are the way to go if you're interested in layers that have eggs more plentiful and more nutritious than chicken). I'd love to get some nigerian dwarf goats, have wanted some for a few years, but have to convince the other adult here

I would love to know any and all of your book recommendations for livestock, well and anything urban homesteading - we do most of it already, but I'm a sucker for shiny new books My fave (if anyone needs a recommendation for a MUST HAVE book) is Carla Emory's "Encyclopedia of Country Living". It is absolutely magnificent - mine is on loan to someone else right now, and I just can't wait to get it back haha! It covers gardening (grains, fruit, veggies, seasonal, etc), livestock (breeding, selecting, butchering, everything), and lots of general homesteading advice - it's a thick book for sure, and well worth every penny spent.

Love to all
Julie
post #35 of 73
We are urban homesteaders, too, so glad to see this thread

FWIW, I have no interest in moving out to the country -- I am a city girl! We live in a 50's neighborhood (once the burbs, now considered "inside the loop"). It was once farmland, and before that it was blackland prarie, so our soil is TEH AWESOME. There is a little market in the center of the neighborhood with an IGA and pharmacy. There's a little herbalist shop and acupuncture. The public library and schools are all in walking/biking distance. I can lean over the fence and chat with my neighbors, we have block parties and meetups at the playground. We have light rail and the city bus to everywhere. I love living here. I wish all neighborhoods were this well planned!

We turned our yard into an edible lawn (very Food not Lawns). So, we have some traditional raised beds, but we also have a lot of stuff just growing about. We eat about 50% from our garden and the other 50% comes from the neighborhood CSA, the local farmer's market, the big-box bulk warehouse and our neighborhood grocer (but I'd love to go 100% local -- we're working on it).

We haven't gotten chickens yet. We're vegetarian, but I sure would like to have homegrown eggs (DS1 and I are allergic to dairy, but DH craves cheese now and again, and we all like eggs). We'll see. With four kids, two dogs, a cat, the garden, two volunteer commitments and a small business, I am already overloaded.

We're trying to go off-grid, this will take both installing wind and solar as well as overall decreasing our electricity usage. We are finally down to one car. Once we are financially independent (2015 is the plan), we hope to ditch the other car as well or put it in storage to use for annual vacations/family visits.

So... things are swell. I'd love to keep chatting with everyone about this subject. The thing I would really love to chat more about is how to continue to encourage our neighbors to adopt a more self-sufficient lifestyle and really get hyper-local. I'd say about 15% of our neighborhood is on board, but the rest are watching us with curiosity and continuing to live unsustainable lifestyles. I like to think we are setting a pretty good example, tho ;-)
post #36 of 73
man, i dream of a 1/4 acre. LOL

we live in a 1 br apartment, and are starting an indoor herb garden in the kitchen (we have a nice sunny window there), and i'm planting strawberries and raspberries along a hillside that doesn't even belong to our landlord, and then looking to put in containers or planters into the land that is just beneath us (in front of the lowest apartment), and get a few veggies out of it at least.

there is a small, untended, garden space just down the hill from us--very sheltered but lots of sun--that i'm thinking of slowly taking over guerilla style, if i have the time. i know, at least, that i can keep some bees there according to the city council, and so long as i garden it and it's not considered a "menace" to anyone else (it's mostly students housed around here anyway), then it wouldn't be a problem to just start utilizing it. but, i really don't have the time for that sort of project right now.

we aren't yet seriously looking at housing, but we are looking at a few different neighborhoods to see what we might want or like in the future. much of wellington is hillsides, so it can be tough to garden without terracing first, but that's doable too. and just yesterday (or friday or some such) we were wandering about a favored neighborhood and found a lovely house that looked like it had been plucked right out of denmark, with a smidge of sunny land (about double what we have here at the apartment) that would allow for some gardens (and chickens or ducks), and also a lovely, very large deck that could be planted with many containers, and of course, ever-present window boxes (another thing i plan to utilize here in the apartment).

then we'd like to get off grid as well.

our current process is to reduce electricity use to our minimum possible. see where we can go with it. i'm consideirng going fridge-free, which may or may not work out. we shall see.

we have started fermenting in earnest, and cooking from scratch, and i look forward to more recipes and such, and working on canning this summer season (which is a few short months from now for those of us down south).

but, we'll see how far i get.
post #37 of 73
Anyone have any experience going off-grid in the city? Maybe this warrants a new thread...
post #38 of 73
I haven't seen anything about cisterns - but those would be a great addition too. My dad just got one - it's alittle out of our price range, but I'm aspiring to it.

Also, there's a poster who used to frequent these forums a while back who is a real urban homesteader extraordinaire. I haven't seen here around lately, but if you search poster name "Leta" read some of her posts. She amazes me in all that she does/has done.

I'd be interested in going off-grid or less grid, too urban speaking (well suburban, really).
post #39 of 73
Urban Homesteaders here on supposedly 1/2 acre - though if we were true homesteaders we would have died this year. This was our first attempt since moving south and boy do we have a learning curve in gardening! We were pretty accomplished in OHIO - here we are STARVING!! Our tomatoes - blossom rot - figured it out but too late. Cabbage, peppers, eggplant, pumpkins all tanked. Peach tree & blueberry bushes are struggling, though next year will be the test. We did have some kale & zucchini plants perform well enough to encourage us to try again next year. Oh and the herbs did well. We have cleared out a flower bed near the mailbox to plant with garlic now and other edible landscaping for next year.

We're taking the slow and steady approach which is good otherwise we probably would have been too discourage this year to keep trying. We have the Backyard Homestead & love it! I'll check into the encyclopedia of country living too though.
post #40 of 73
Hi there.


My best friend is an urban homesteader! She has a facebook page, you ought to check her out! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooker...44115045633326
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