Homesteading on a smaller Homestead
What is Homesteading?
In Homesteading Part One we discussed the definition of Homesteading as any dwelling place, with land and buildings where a group of people settled. In part 2 of our Homesteading Series we discussed Apartment or Flat Homesteads, and the self sufficiency that can be achieved even with very little, mostly indoor space.
In part 3 we will venture in Smaller Homesteads- what this term means, and how you can be a Homesteader even with smaller garden spaces.
What is a Small Homestead?
It is typically defined as a Homestead created by those who live in an estate or complex, with access to a small garden. What a wonderful thing a small garden is, for within it, a realm of gardening tricks can be utilised to achieve a good deal of produce.
Have a goal in mind- understand if this is a full time undertaking or a weekend hobby!
I have a small estate garden- what are my options?
The options are plentiful. Without a garden, the space for growing becomes confined to indoors, rooftops, stairwells and balconies. With a garden, bed space and hardscaping can play a pivotal role in your Homestead. With careful planning, you are able to take a space usually only used for a couple of rows of estate-approved bushes and annuals, and really capitalise on the amount of produce that you are able to get out.
As seen in this informative video, the choices of planting space now become vast. Empty barrels, large pots, actual garden beds, vertical spaces such as trellises and obelisks can come into play to train food to grow up, in a confined space. Actual garden beds can be cleverly utilised to grow the maximum amount of seasonal produce.
Lifestyle Home Garden has a stunning range of metalware, specifically designed to support vertical growing. Obelisks and tiered supports can easily be staked into pots or garden beds to support those cucumbers, tomatoes and peas – arches are ideal to grow heavier crops such as butternuts, beefsteak tomatoes and watermelons, and can be inter-planted with creeping florals to invite pollinators.
Use large planter boxes or large pots to grow salads and shallow rooted veg, and plant larger brassicas and deeply-rooted veg directly into garden beds. Always supply extra hydration to pots, and feed and fertilise all crops.
What can I hold in terms of livestock and produce?
Even the smallest of gardens is sufficient to keep chickens. They live comfortably in a small wooden constructed coop, and provided they have some graising and nibbling space in the day, make excellent, fuss free pets. Best of all hens can be reared for their eggs. There are many varieties of hen, so do your research regarding which varieties are better for home reared meat and which are better for eggs.
Chicken coops vary greatly in price, but are well worth the investment to keep our little (foul) friends happy!
In so far as other animals are concerned, it would be unlikely that estates or complexes would allow goats and sheep. The meats and milks provided by these animals are best traded for with other Homesteaders or at markets.
In terms of other means of increased sustainability and independence, consider keeping bees. Kept at the far end of a larger estate garden, they are a source of honey and pollinators, and will keep the garden in a bountiful state.
How do I save water and become more efficient, in the confines of an estate or complex?
Water security is an issue globally, and it’s imperative that we think about how we are going to sustain our Homesteading projects when we embark upon them. In terms of complexes and estates, there are several rules to know about when it comes to installing rain water tanks. This is a crucial step to becoming more self sufficient – however it is not always possible in a complex where a Corporate body has rules and regulations which need to be adhered to.
This Link is extremely informative and outlines who, in terms of municipalities, the State, landlords and tenants, is responsible for water management. This is a South African article and applies to South Africa.
Every endeavour should be made to attempt to become more water-wise and self sufficient, but realistically, it is not always possible to achieve total exclusion from the grid when living in an estate.
Be as practical as possible…
Take into consideration the following factors:
- Climate: Work with nature, not against it. Johannesburg has a dry winter and a hot wet summer, so plant accordingly. Kwazulu natal has humid conditions, so more tropical plants will work far better then if we attemped them in the highveld regions.
- Soil: Amend and add to the soil to make it the best soil for the job. Remember that if you are going to spend time, effort and money planting seedlings and seeds to grow food, it is a worthwhile investment to make the soil really rich and nutrient dense. See our blog on compost |HERE| and read all about soil |HERE| . Remember too that soil improves with time. Previous crops leave nutrients in the soil, (for example peas leave nitrogen). Recycling vegetable scraps into the garden forms, over time, a nutrient dense compost which increases the fertility of soil. Incorporate best practices such as mulching and composting into your routine and you will already be on the way to
- Monetary Considerations: Knowledge is the biggest investment- learn, read, and understand your space and your limitations. Having said that, it is worthwhile to pace yourself when it comes to capital investments (rain water tanks, chicken coops) and slowly see what works and what fails. Over time a road map to success will begin to take form.
- Your current Lifestyle Choices: Vegans will forego keeping and using animal products, and more meat-centric households will focus on having a source of meat. Take what works for your family in this current space and work on it, defining what you grow and keep, and what is successful and achievable.
What are some suggestions for my small homestead?
An estate garden may not be the biggest but it can yield a vast array of crops, so be adventurous, and experiment with space, and variety.
It is worthwhile to invest in some quality hardscaping and metalware to support growth, as well as pots, fertilisers and gardening tools. We currently have a 40% OFF sale on metal ware, and the winter months are best for getting to the outdoorscaping tasks! This special lasts until the 23rd July 2019.
Are you thinking of becoming a Homesteader? Ask yourself these questions:
- Can you save money on food? If so, how can you achieve this?
- Do you have the knowledge, ability and space to grow food?
- Do you feel equipped with the sufficient knowledge to take on a new way of living?
- Are you interested in incorporating livestock into your homestead?
- Ask yourself how you could change your energy consumption patterns, if at all, and if solar or other energy sources are within your reach.
- Are you wanting to conserve and keep water, for use on the land, and for your own personal use?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you will love part 2 of our Homesteading series. We are continually researching this topic to bring you the most helpful information to help you on your homesteading journey.
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