Not so very long ago, I was a fairly normal human. I shopped at grocery stores, grabbed lattes on my way to a friend’s house, and even strolled through the farmer’s market delicately choosing my fruits and vegetables for the week. One day, long before I actually gained the cohones to walk away from the life I had known, I simply said to hell with it!
I was sick of paying $7.00 for a bag of organic carrots. Standing in grocery lines seemed like waiting at the gates of Dante’s Inferno and then, paying to enter! Checking labels on food to make sure I wasn’t consuming toxic ingredients was absorbing a ridiculous amount of time. I just wanted to be healthy!!!! Why was that such a difficult concept?!
The slightly amusing irony is that most of us are born into this consumer driven society that silently dictates our life. We don’t even realize that we have a choice. Very rarely is it presented that YOU have ANOTHER option. Go to the store…or starve, even our mother’s shout it at us over the phone! (Well, mine did)
We idealize the pastoral images of rolling farms and acre after acre of organic options from afar. Never once thinking, “HEY, I can do that!” The option to simply not spend the money and do it yourself seems far fetched. The media presents it as time-consuming so that you will continue to spend $5 a head on organic heirloom lettuce because the one thing you have less than dollars is time.
Believing the Sith Lie
You shouldn’t have to choose whether you would rather eat healthy OR put money away in your retirement fund. That’s not even a choice. It is an ultimatum. Obi One Kenobi said only Sith Lords deal in absolutes. I guess that means my light saber is green and I choose to follow the good side of the force.
You don’t have to give up your life and start a farm to eat healthy. In fact, that is probably a sure way to go broke, fast. You don’t even have to move. I don’t care if you live in an apartment with little natural lighting or a suburban gated community neighborhood with strict rules on what you can plant. YOU CAN HAVE HEALTHY VEGETABLES AND SAVE MONEY TOO! Check out our 6 Ideas for the Urban Homesteader
6 Ideas for the Urban Homesteader
Growing herbs indoors is one of the simplest ways you can start saving money and eating healthier. Packets of herbs at the market cost almost $5! And what do you get? For your hard earned dollar, you get a small box of subpar herbs that has been shipped across the country and may last for two meals, if you’re lucky. Screw that.
How To Grow Herbs Indoors:
You don’t need a fancy pot to do this. Grab a mason jar, fill it with filtered water. Next time you go to the farmer’s market and grab herbs for dinner, save some. Put them in the mason jar and set on a windowsill indoors that receives some light. (5 hours is enough) Then, set aside and let nature take its course! Every few days, put clean water in the jar. In few weeks, you will begin to see tap roots growing. Sooner, rather than later, the herbs will begin to multiply and flourish. You can either keep it in the jar OR transplant your green babies to a pot with decent soil.
++ Urban Homesteading PRO TIP++
* This method works best with perennials. Annual herbs like dill will only last until they go to seed. When you see that your herbs have reached the end of their lifespan simply take a cutting..and start again!
* Once you have purchased your herbs from the market, make a small angled cut at the bottom. Dip your herb in cinnamon. Cinnamon is a great alternative to rooting hormone! Then, place in your jar of water and wait for nature’s magic to take place.
don’t have to buy that herb again!
One of the most expensive things you can purchase in the produce aisle…is mushrooms. These gourmet bits of magic are touted worldwide for their health benefits and healing properties. Too many times, we don’t even bother to look at them, because of the hefty price tag often attached. Not to mention that mushrooms purchased at the supermarket have been doused in your favorite mass producing toxic substances (hoorah for Big AG!…NOT!)
Spare yourself the cost and grow it yourself !(GIY)
Choosing your spawn. (I like saying that…HA!) Consider spawn the seeds for mushrooms. Wherever you plant these mycelia, mushrooms will grow! The three simplest to grow for beginners are Oyster, Shiitake, and Wine Cap.
Then you can choose your substrate ( growing medium.) The most common forms of substrate are logs, hay, or wood chips. I personally prefer logs. No matter where you live, you are likely to find a stray log or giant branch nearby that will do the job!
You can purchase entire kits on Amazon. All you need is a dark humid space in your house. Below the kitchen sink is kind of a winning space! Put those apartment leaky pipes to work for you! Below, I have added a couple of my favorite kits.
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Do you pay to live in a community that dictates what you can and cannot grow in your front yard for fear of destroying the perfect aesthetic the board has worked years to create? You have the space to create a small edible paradise, just not the permission. Growing outdoors in full sun is almost always preferable, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only way to grow your own food.
Consider Planting a Fruit Tree in a Pot!
Technically, you are not growing in the ground, so you should still be in regulation. There is a massive selection of dwarf fruit trees to choose from. Dwarves require just as much sun as their larger brothers and sisters, without the space requirements. Despite their mini-me status, these potted trees are HEAVY! Consider your placement wisely. Think…easy access to a water hose.
Start your potting project in the early spring while the trees are still dormant. Bare-root stock works best! You can either start from seed. Better yet, you can purchase a 2 to 5-year-old tree directly from an online nursery. Typically, these companies will give you a refund on trees that die within 30 days. However, check with the company you purchase from to be sure of their return policy. The photos below are links to different companies that provide great aged rootstock at a reasonable price.
Choosing a large pot from the start will save you time and tears later. Transplanting trees is possible, just not highly recommended. Trees have a massive and complex root system that you want to try to avoid. Purchase a large pot, roughly 20″ in diameter. The material is of no consequence to your tree, anything will do, plastic, terracotta, stone, whatever YOUR heart desires. Be sure to grab a quality well draining soil to put your new best friend in! Ask your local nursery what they prefer.
Create gorgeous edible potted topiary fences to line the community regulated wooden one. Consider growing your tree indoors! Not only will you create a more serene atmosphere in your home, but will add clean oxygen!
For more information on properly planting your tree in a pot:
Check out this link for the details on how to properly grow your fruit tree in a pot.
At a later date, I promise to dedicate an ENTIRE post to this. It is too good not too. I am incredibly excited to take a moment to tell you about hydroponics. Can you imagine a world of dirt free vegetables? No more tilling or gardening gloves. What a concept. I have a great newfound love affair for this system of growing. Farmers across the world have been changing their methods. Although there is a bit of an upfront cost, this method of growing is GUARANTEED to increase your harvest in HALF OF THE TIME! Not only is it more sustainable, but in the end, you get more bang for your buck! CHA-CHING! With a relatively small start-up cost, you can have year after year of fresh dirt-free vegetables at a fraction of the cost of whole foods.
Start Small with these Hydroponic Kits
If you want to know more about dirt-free growing ===> Hydroponics: For Beginners
Big House No Yard
Do you have a beautiful home situated perfectly in the city? Location, location, location in this instance meant giving up green space. Like I said in the beginning, no matter where you live there is always a way to save money and begin your journey to living more sustainably NOW! I truly believe this. If you are land challenged, never fear! I have something just for you!
Around 600B.C.E, the great Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II built one of the seven wonders of the world The Hanging Gardens of Babylon for his wife Amytis. Even then, gardeners knew the great beauty and benefit of growing vertically.
Assembling a vertical garden should not be costly unless you want to pull a Nebuchadnezzar.Observe your space. Make sure to locate an area that receives 8-12 hours of sunlight a day. Often you can assemble a trellis or structure with things around your house. Bamboo or loose large branches work just fine. After you prepare your soil, simply stake the bamboo into the ground. As your plant grows, use a bread tie to make sure the plant grows up.
String is also a cheap and wonderful tool. Nail a piece to a board and attach the other end to your gutter. Guide the plant along the way. You can train ANY plant to grow vertically. Check out the photo above. Even gourds and pumpkins can work if you have a structure built to support them.
Want to know more?
This is a wonderful and photo licious article ==> DIY Vertical Gardens for tiny spaces
Square Foot Gardening
Although I grew up with a mom who could grow ABSOLUTELY anything when I first tried my hand at gardening, I choose the square foot gardening method. Not only is it a wonderful option for the space-challenged gardener, but creator Mel Bartholomew’s book changed my life!
To create the ideal square foot garden, you only need a 4×4 space, rich amended soil, and string. Tah-Dah. That’s it. The idea is to divide the 4×4 space into 12 separate squares. Instead of a large sprawling garden, you have the pleasure of a tiny, often raised, perfectly manicured garden sure to produce an abundant harvest. Square foot gardens are also perfect for vertical gardens.
Square Foot Gardening by the Wellness Mama
Well, there you have it folks, 6 Ideas for the Urban Homesteader! If you enjoyed and wish to learn more be sure to subscribe and be the first one to be notified when something new is happening at The Ends Of The Earth.
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