I know that the typical image of a homesteader has often been an individual who owns plenty of acreage to raise animals and grow crops. Sure, that’s some homesteaders, and having lots of land is a plus when homesteading, but that isn’t the reality for everybody.
In fact, most people you would consider living a homesteader lifestyle do so on an acre or less. Some people don’t even have any land at all!
You can start homesteading today by taking advantage of what you DO have; a small backyard, a kitchen balcony, whatever. You can use what is available to you to produce more of what you need. How much you can produce, not how much land you have is what homesteading is all about.
What Does It Mean To Be A Homesteader?
So, let’s start with what it means to be a homesteader: a homesteader is someone who‘s goal is to produce the basics in which to live an everyday life.
Homesteaders produce some if not all of their food. They are able to engineer things they need. When clothes need mending, they mend them, when the wood needs chopping, they cut the trees.
Instead of heading to the store for everything they need, they find ways to produce it themselves in whatever way possible.
I’ve met a lot of people living homesteading lifestyles and almost every time, it’s the smaller property outcompeting the larger property on production output. Small is beautiful, so don’t count yourself out if you live in a small space, lot’s can be done!
1. Start Where You Live
Most people imagine the majority of homesteads to be located on large rural properties, with lots of animals and giant gardens, but that couldn’t be further from the case.
For many across the world, living a homesteading lifestyle is the only way to live, out of necessity, and for the majority, they do so out of tiny homes utilizing what they DO have.
Many of the tips listed below can be accomplished in an apartment as well as across several acres, you just have to get creative.
So sit back and relax, If you’re not ready to make a move, or your job keeps you anchored to an urban center, you can make small changes from wherever you live right now to lessen your dependency on the grocery store or utilities.
2. Grow Your Own Food
There is no excuse. It’s easy to grow your own food, even in your own kitchen! If you have a balcony or small backyard, even better. Make a mini greenhouse, start a vegetable plot or grow microgreens.
Here are some ideas:
Grow In Your Kitchen
- Re-grow celery, lettuce (all types), leeks, bok choy, and green onions in a glass of water
- Grow herbs in pots (basil, rosemary, sage, mint, oregano, cilantro, and dill are all easy to grow in pots placed by a window)
- Grow your own mushrooms like cremini, button, shitake, and portabellos in your kitchen pantry or as part of a compost bin (more on that, below).
Grow On A Balcony:
- Microgreens (broccoli, watercress, and arugula are easy ones to start, and you’ll be harvesting after a matter of weeks, not months)
- Container gardening is great for small spaces.
- Potatoes/sweet potatoes (or in a potato bag)
- Greens; kale, spinach, swiss chard
- Green peppers/sweet peppers
- Dwarf Fruit Trees!
Some of these you can even grow together with herbs; like growing potatoes in the bottom of the container and planting herbs on top to really save on space.
- Grow other vegetables vertically, on a trellis
- Pole beans/green beans
Grow In A Backyard:
If you have a backyard, your options are pretty much limitless! All you need to think about are the sunlight/shade needs for your plant, and, of course, your growing climate zone.
In a backyard, there could be room for compost bins, annual veggie garden, some fruit trees and perhaps even some small livestock animals.
Oh, but I can hear it now, “I rent and can’t do that where I live.”
Grow in pots or raised beds so you don’t have to dig anything up. Grow mushrooms in buckets or raise bees for honey.
Or if you simply can’t do it where you rent, find a place where you can. I grew up in a condo in LA with no yard and found sidewalk strips or empty lots to grow in. There is so much possibility.
3. Compost With Worms
Whether you have a small place in the city or a big house with a large backyard in the suburbs, you should be composting.
You are already making the food scraps that the worms would eat to create the compost, so why keep throwing them in the garbage when you can use them to feed your container or backyard garden?
A compost bin doesn’t take up much space and contrary to common belief it does not smell bad. And they don’t take a lot of time, I only check on my worm compost once per week!
I have a whole post about worm composting if you want to learn more.
The plus side to making your own compost? You can easily grow your own mushrooms in your compost! Just make sure to keep them in a dark environment, like your pantry (not your balcony or kitchen counter).
To learn more about that, you have to watch this YouTube video I made about growing mushrooms using coffee grinds and straw.
4. Fix Things Yourself, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The next time something breaks around your house, instead of running out to buy a replacement, consider fixing it.
Whether that’s a leak under your sink or your door handle, try checking out some DIY videos before running off to a repairman.
For things that are damaged beyond repair, consider recycling any usable parts. They always seem to come in handy at some point down the line.
In the future, if you do decide to move and set up a big homestead away from the city, you will be glad you started the habit of recycling and saving things for ‘a rainy day’.
5. Redirect Your Greywater
Check your local codes on this, but in many places, you can reuse your greywater on your own property without anyone knowing or caring about it.
Small scale, that means saving your laundry machine water or bath water to flush your toilet.
Larger scale, that could be re-directing your washing machine outlet to drain into your backyard garden (use with biodegradable, eco-safe laundry soap, of course).
6. Catch Some Rainwater
Rainwater collection does not have to be complicated; you can simply use a bucket or trash cans for starters.
If you want to get more advanced, then put gutter guards and filters on your drain spouts and catch all the water that falls off your roof in large rain barrels.
But, if you want to start today – put a bucket out, under your eaves and save the water for your plants.
7. Get A Mobile Solar Panel & Generator
Finally, you can easily start using solar power, even if you’re a renter.
There are small solar panels you can set up on a balcony in minutes and start retaining the sun’s energy.
You can hook those portable solar panels to charge up a power supply that you can take anywhere. The best on the market these days are the portable power stations from Jackery. They are quiet and don’t use any fuel!
A solar panel and a small generator are especially great if you work during the day and only need a minimal amount of energy at night. Imagine having no electricity bill, how amazing would that be?
So how is it you get started homesteading today?
Start where you live
Grow food in the kitchen, balcony, or backyard (microgreens, mushrooms, pots, etc.
Compost with worms
Fix things yourself
Redirect your greywater
Catch some rainwater with a bucket
Get a mobile solar panel & Generator
Homesteading with lots of land and animals might be the ultimate goal, but you can start small and take little steps in that direction. It’s all about learning to be self-sufficient, and that’s a process that will take years.
You don’t need to wait until you buy land somewhere. Start now, where you live, grow your own food, begin composting, and collect rainwater.