Friday, March 11, 2011

The Black Eyed Susan Starts a Homestead

Urban Homesteading, verb
participation in home-based activities such as gardening, raising poultry or small livestock, producing simple products, and generally seeking ways to increase self-sufficiency in a city or suburban environment.with the goal of reducing one’s environmental impact and returning to a home-based, family-centered, self-sufficient way of life.


Happy Friday friends! Here in Georgia we have been gripped by an icy chill in the last couple of days, but we expect temperatures to reach 70 degrees tomorrow. Hurray Spring - we are ready to welcome you with open arms.

One of my biggest epiphanies over the past week has been that I am waiting until later to have the life that I desire to have, rather than doing what I can to have that life now. I'm really looking forward to being a farmer, to owning a small bit of land and growing food for my family. For some reason, I have assumed that since I have no land I am unable to grow my own food and live a simpler life. But why can't I grow my own food now? I don't have land, but I do have a tiny yard backyard that - with careful planning - could support a lot of vegetables, herbs, and edible flowers. I may not be able to start a compost heap in the corner of the yard, but I can build a worm bin and use these little guys to create compost out of our food waste. I may not be able to have a sheep farm - yet! - but that doesn't mean I can't buy some yarn at a local shop and start creating hats and scarves. I am so excited by the prospect of redefining the can'ts in my life. That sounds so cliche, but it's true. All this time I thought I was unable to live the life that I want to live because my home isn't on an acre of land, but the only thing that has been stopping me is my inability to get a little creative with my definition of farmer.

The particular life that I want to cultivate involves gardening, growing my own food, and making everything I can myself. Even if you are unable to relate to this desire, I think that many people can relate to this feeling of waiting. Waiting until you move to start a career you are passionate about, waiting until you have that perfect story to write your book, waiting until you are wealthy to take that dream trip, waiting until you have an acre of land to grow a few tomatoes. Lets not wait until tomorrow. Lets begin today - together - to live the life we have always wanted to have.

Alright, enough with the philosophy. On to the heavy lifting. Since I want to grow as much food as possible on our tiny plot of land, I'm going to have to get creative. This is what we're dealing with here:

{here I hope to plant herbs and edible flowers}

{this will be converted into a raised bed}

{we'll put our container garden on our deck, as well as switch out our patio set for a smaller one more suited to the area. A small trellis will be placed to the right of the deck, and will support peas.}

I admit it's not pretty now, but all the more reason to get going now right? Plus, having really unattractive 'before' pictures makes the 'afters' all the more beautiful. I have a lot to do this weekend - and beyond - to turn our mini backyard into a homegrown-food oasis, and I can't wait to get started. Here is my project list for this weekend:

Choose which plants to grow this year
Determine which plants will be grown in a container and which will be put in the ground
Map out a garden plan
Build a raised bed*
Build  a worm bin
Get cold-weather crops in the ground (carrots, peas, spinach)
Determine whether we want to join a CSA**
Celebrate the 70+ degree weather by drinking a mimosa on Sunday afternoon after all the work is done

* Even though I have a garden plot (shown in the second picture above), it really hasn't done well the past two years that I have attempted to garden there. The soil is not very good and is full of rocks, so I am going to create a root barrier and dump high quality soil and compost on top to get a fresh start.

** I'd like to start eating local food as much as possible. I'm not sure how much I'll be able to produce in the backyard, so am considering supplementing this tiny garden by joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). In a CSA, you pay a lump sum to a farmer in the beginning of the season - this goes to seed, fertilizers, etc. - and then you share in the produce when food is harvested. If you'd like to find a CSA near you, check out Local Harvest. Our particular CSA is organic, 26 weeks, and $650 ($25 per week). I haven't decided yet if I want to join the CSA or just see what we are able to produce in the backyard and supplement that by buying from our local farmer's market. Suggestions?

I'm really excited to get going on this garden, and hope to be able to produce a lot of our food ourselves. When we get a house with a real yard I'd like to add bees and chickens to the mix (as well as a much more extensive garden), but for now I'll just stick to basic herbs and vegetables and worms (for composting).

In this effort to homestead, I'd also like to start making other household goods myself (soap, pillows, laundry detergent, etc). In short, before I buy things at the store I'd like to attempt to either recycle another item I already have, make it myself from scratch, or refurbish something I can find at the secondhand store. In an effort to support my new home projects, we are converting our guest bedroom to my craft room (don't worry, we're keeping the guest bed and would still like to see as many friends and family here for a visit as often as possible!). I'll be on the lookout for a sewing machine soon, and will also be looking for new ways to make things myself. Any suggestions, projects, or tips you can throw this way would be welcome!

In an extreme coincidence, my sister Lisa in Maine just recently decided to convert one of her rooms to a craft room, and is also planning to create a garden! We must have some serious sister brain waves going on. My sister Laura lives in a tiny apartment in Oakland, CA, but she is asking her landlord if she can start a garden on the roof of her building. How's that for inspiration?! I just love those ladies - my very best friends!

{both pictures from our trip to Ireland last July}


  1. I love this post! Again, inspirational. I found a recipe for making my own laundry soap, and may try that. I'm hoping my landlord says yes to some rooftop plants! I love you, and I agree, you and Lisa are my best friends for life.

    I'm so excited to see some pictures of your garden after your weekend progress!

  2. I've been looking into making my own soap also. I agree, you need to bring in some new kind of soil.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...