Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteading

Growing up I was lucky enough to live in Hawaii and be raised by an urban homesteader.   We may have lived in military housing, but mama always had a gorgeous orchid garden in the front yard and a veg garden in the backyard.   We had to practice organic methods as mama is incredibly sensitive to all forms of chemicals so I have grown up learning organic/non-chemical gardening techniques.   My brother and I had great fun foraging for bananas, coconuts, mangoes, guavas, etc straight off the trees.  We didn't know it was called foraging, but we were good at it. 

I come from a long line of Urban Homesteaders, grandpa and grandma (on my mom's side) had 7 kids and lived in town but still managed a HUGE garden that supplied most of their veggies and a good bit of fruit every year.  My great grandparents (on my mom's side) ran a greenhouse and a huge garden in the town I live in now.  They did this on less than 3 acres.  My grandparents on my fathers side were farmers. 

I'm not sure if I'm an Urban Homesteader or not.   I (technically) live in a tiny town, but on 26 acres of which only about 5 is usable for us.  We live on the south side of a mountain which makes for some amazing views but we can still hear the traffic from mainstreet.  I have a garden which will be greatly enlarged this year.  This years experimental plants will be Amaranth and other grains.  I have about 60 or so chickens, 5 geese, 10 rabbits, 4 dogs, 3 cats, 2 ferrets and a pet snapping turtle so I definitely have mini livestock.  This year we plan on getting a couple pigs and dwarf nigerian dairy goats.   The only reason we are allowed our livestock is due to a very old clause stating that if we have more than 5 acres we can have them in town.  We recycle.  We reuse stuff as much as possible. 

My garden bible is called "How to Grow Vegetables and Fruits by the Organic Method" by J.I. Rodale.  I'm guesstimating that it came out in the early 60's, but I'm not positive.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough for the Urban Homesteader.  It is one of the earliest known writings preaching organic growing, biodynamic/french intensive gardening, and is HUGE on the powers of mulching.  It has many examples of people who now would be known as urban homesteaders.  These urban homesteaders considered themselves gardeners who lived on mini homesteads.    I was lucky enough to inherit this book from my grandfather-in-law, a noted gardener in a small town.  Using this books gardening principles, grandpa and grandma would "put up" over 2000 jars of canned and a freezer full of frozen veggies and fruits they grew in their small yard.  They had over 30 blueberry bushes, 4 apple trees, 2 cherry trees, and a couple pear trees squeezed around the perimeter of their 2 large gardens.  I consider them them the standard I aspire to, not the Dervaes's.  And in true homesteading spirit- you can buy the book, gently used on Amazon for as little as $1.21 (plus shipping and handling).   And (unlike some sites), you will actually learn how to garden, not just look at pretty pictures.  Oh, and the book won't be constantly begging you for money so it can stay home and garden.

No comments:

Post a Comment