When you hear the term “homestead,” what comes to mind? I usually see forty acres of land, multiple gardens, farm animals, wood burning stoves, and things like that.
…but there’s more to homesteading than that. In fact, to me, the “homesteading spirit” rises well above where you live. It’s more about how you live. If you have the homesteading spirit in you, apartment homesteading is very possible!
Here are a few areas where you can practice homesteading in your apartment.
People who live in a house can pretty much garden anything they like (suitable to climate, that is)… but how can you possibly garden in an apartment? Simple: Containers! People grow container gardens all the time. In fact, people who live in houses use containers a lot, too!
While some plants do much better in containers than others, the general concept is that if you can grow it in the ground, you can grow it in a container as well. Of course, for the bigger crops, you might need bigger containers, so make sure you research the plant.
For example: You can grow a great tomato plant in a medium sized container. Add your soil, any fertilizer you might want to use, and mix well. Put the plant in the middle, and add a tomato cage, and in a few months, you’ll have fresh tomatoes on your back patio.
Of course, tomatoes are just an example. Like I said before, you can pretty much grow anything – you can even grow herbs indoors!
Frugality for Apartment Homesteaders
Most homesteaders I know like to be frugal. They’ll save money any way they can (within reason). You can do this, too. It’s part of the homesteading spirit to be thrifty. You can start by making your own cleaners. It’s easy to do, they clean great, and you most likely already have most of the ingredients around the house right now. The ingredients are universal (vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, etc), so you can use them for other things besides making cleaners!
You can even reuse your greywater! If you take a bath, don’t drain the water right away. Scoop it up and pour it into the toilet bowl to flush it. If you take showers instead of baths, you can just stop-up the drain and do the same thing.
In my article “40 Ways to Save Money on Groceries” I talk about being frugal by buying food in bulk, and can or freeze the excess. I remember when I left home, my mother called me and said I was costing them a fortune in groceries. She said she didn’t need to buy so much food any more – the family sized packages were too big – and the smaller sized packages were more expensive per unit. They eventually started buying the family packs again and freezing what they wouldn’t immediately use. They actually started saving money. (Of course, to be quite frank, I ate like a horse in my younger days.)
You can also reuse things around your house to help save some money. In fact, you can reuse some things to hold other things…
I tend to keep every jar, bucket, tub, twist tie, rubber band… I think you get the point. Of course, if I already have a ton I’m not already using, I’ll throw something away (I’m a homesteader, not a hoarder).
Learn the Old Ways
What are the “old ways,” you ask? Learning to do things for yourself so you don’t have to rely on others as much.
Learn to can your own food such as jams, jellies, veggies, meats, soups, stews and gravies. You can buy the ingredients much cheaper than you can buy the ready made products. As a bonus, you’ll know what’s going into the stuff your making – not a bunch of chemicals, preservatives and unnecessary salts and sugars.
Learn to barter, too. Back in the old days, if you had egg-laying chickens, you might trade a dozen eggs for something your neighbor had that you needed (like milk, for example). Of course, if you’re living in an apartment, you’re most likely within walking distance of a store. However, if you know your neighbors well, you might still barter. For example, we go to the farmers market regularly and get a good deal on a load of veggies. Our neighbor works 3 doors down from a butcher and gets super prices on meats. Often, we’ll trade some of our veggies for some of her meat. It’s great!
Teach Your Children
This is probably one of the biggest homestead ways there is. Teach your children how to do things for themselves… how to cook, clean and handmake things… how to be thankful for a little instead of wishing for a lot… how to save power and water. If they know these skills (and yes, I think they are all skills), they’ll be better off when they grow up and move out on their own. They won’t be intentionally wasteful because it will be instilled in them to appreciate what they have.
These are just the bare basics of how to homestead in an apartment. The homesteader spirit is in all of us. I honestly believe it is genetically passed down from generation to generation because of our ancestors… the question is, how deeply buried is it?