Fields of grass tickling your bare feet as you walk to your large garden plot with the breeze running through your hair. A toddler is beside you and a baby on your back. That’s how my dream went anyway…
From the time I was little I knew that I was made to be a homesteader, only then I just called it “living in the country with all the fun extras”. My first two years were spent playing outside in a little garden plot near our double wide then life took a turn and my family packed up and moved to a city 2000 miles away.
We’d love back to the country they said, but God had other plans and in the city we stayed. When I was 19 I skipped the country (not the country side 😉 ) and moved to Mexico. I had a garden there but still my heart longer for a big, green patch of land to call it my own. I wanted to be a homesteader, not the Charle’s Ingalls kind, though, there needed to be some limits. At least I had chickens because well chickens are the gateway to homesteading, don’t you know?
As God would have it I am sitting writing this back in the States in the city… Nothing like where I saw myself but somewhere along the way I realized that I was already a homesteader, a small space one.
You don’t need acres of land or even a yard to be a homesteader (though a yard is a nice perk). If you long for a “bit of earth” to call your own or even if you don’t you can be a homesteader. These 10 tips for small space homesteading are what I have done or currently do.
1. Grow your own food
Did you know you can grow herbs in a window seal? Or tomatoes on your tiny patio? I grow tomatoes, basil, echinacea, and cucumbers in a flower bed. I also have a few pots for my mint, parsley, calendula, and stevia.
Do I grow enough food to last us through the year? No, but I do find joy in the fact that there are some things I don’t have to buy at the store frequently. I recently made a batch of pesto with my home grown basil. It’s the little things.
2. Start a compost bin
I recently started a worm compost bin and put it in the backyard. You can also keep it on your patio or garage. I made my own, but you can also buy a kit online.
3. Line Dry Your Clothes (or Use a Wooden Drying Wrack)
There is something beautiful about clean cloths drying in the fresh air. I remember helping my paternal grandma hang cloths on the line, dashing back and forth through lines of cloths while the grass tickled my feet. Then I moved to Mexico where you dried your cloths over concert slab with hot, dry, dusty winds… Not every day was like that. Some days there was no breeze and clothes came off the line nice and dry with not dirt. 😉
If you don’t have lines or prefer not to use them you can hang your clothes in the shower like I do sometimes or you can buying a wooden drying rack.
4. Raise Chickens
Many cities allow you to raise 5 or less chickens in your backyard. Fresh eggs daily are wonderful. Plus most kids LOVE having chickens around. I miss it so much since the city I currently live in doesn’t allow for chickens.
5. Recycle and Repurpose
I grew up in an area of California where recycling has been a big deal for almost 30 years. I don’t remember a time when at least some of our recycling wasn’t picked up.
Recycling is great but not an option for everyone. I am a huge fan of repurposing. I add shredded paper, cardboard, and newspaper to my compost bin. The occasional glass jar is often used for storage.
6. Keep Records
Keeping records in important things for any homesteader. You keep track of expenses, what you feed your animals, what you grew- what worked, and what didn’t.
7. Preserve Your Food
I love pulling a jar of home-canned peaches off my pantry shelf. There is something so satisfactory about preserving your own food. I can, dehydrate, and freeze.
8. Borrow Someone’s Land
Ask a friend or family that has a bit of land if you can borrow or lease land to grow a few raised beds.
9. Cook from Scratch
Fresh home-cooked meals always make me think of my Grandma Stanley or Ma Ingalls. I have a bit of “healthy” convenience food on hand like pasta and some canned goods, but overall I try to make simple nourishing meals from scratch.
10. Cook with “garbage”
Of course, I don’t suggest cooking with actual garbage but instead, I am referring to bones, vegetable trimmings like radish tops, and cilantro stems. Simple things like that often end up in the garbage or compost yet are part of creating flavorful, nutrient-dense foods.
Small space homesteading is a journey. You can’t do it all right away, which leads to burnout and disappointment. Take baby steps. Bit by bit you will find that you are able to take more things on. Will you be able to do and raise all the things that a homesteader with multiple acres is able to? No, but that’s okay. Embrace the small homestead you have to give yourself grace, and if you have a dream for a spacious homestead of your own someday don’t stop dreaming.