Garden Hose Zone

Starting an Urban Homestead

The Best Tips and Tricks for Urban Gardeners

Welcome to the exciting world of urban homesteading! I’m Mike, a 32-year-old enthusiast of self-sufficiency and DIY projects. If you’re eager to transform your urban space into a productive, eco-friendly haven you are  in the right place. Urban homesteading is not just about gardening. It’s a mindset that embraces sustainable living, resourcefulness, and a touch of innovation. Starting an urban homestead may feel daunting but its actually as really satisfying adventure! Let’s dive into some simple tips and tricks to help you get started on your urban homestead journey.

Starting an Urban Homestead

The Urban Homestead Mindset

Before we dig into the soil (pun intended), let’s talk about mindset. Urban homesteading is about more than just growing your own food—it’s about embracing a lifestyle of sustainability and self-sufficiency. It’s about making the most of what you have, whether it’s a small balcony, a rooftop, or a tiny backyard. The goal is to create a space that not only provides for your needs but also contributes positively to the environment.

Now that life is so busy, being able to escape to your garden gives you not only purpose but mindfulness, gratitude and of course food!

Why Urban Homesteading?

1. Sustainability- Reducing your food miles and use of chemicals by growing your own food and using eco-friendly practices.

2. Self-Sufficiency- Gaining independence from commercial food systems.

3. Health and Wellness- Eating fresh, organic produce and engaging in physical activity.

4. Community Building- Sharing knowledge and produce with neighbors, fostering a sense of community.

Starting an Urban Homestead: Assess Your Space

First things first, assess your available space. Urban homesteading can be adapted to fit any size, so don’t worry if you don’t have a sprawling backyard. Here are a few options:

– Balcony or Patios are perfect for container gardening and vertical gardens.

–  Rooftops are a great way to utilize flat rooftops for raised beds and larger container gardens.

– Backyards can support traditional garden beds, raised beds, and even small livestock.

Planning Your Urban Homestead

Container Gardening: Small Space, Big Harvest

If you’re working with limited space, container gardening is your best friend. Containers can be placed on balconies, patios, and even windowsills. Here are some tips for successful container gardening.

Choose the Right Containers- Ensure they have drainage holes and are the appropriate size for your plants.

Quality Soil-Use high-quality potting mix that retains moisture but also drains well.

Right Plants- Opt for compact or dwarf varieties of vegetables and herbs.

Vertical Gardening: Going Up!

Maximize your space by growing vertically. Vertical gardens are perfect for small spaces and can be a beautiful addition to your home.

Trellises and Arbors. Great for climbing plants like beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Hanging Planters. Ideal for herbs, strawberries, and small leafy greens.

Wall-mounted Planters. Use these for a variety of plants, from flowers to vegetables.

Raised Beds: A Versatile Option

If you have a bit more space, raised beds are fantastic for urban homesteading. They offer better control over soil quality and drainage, and they’re easier on your back. They look great too, nothing better than strolling through them each day to tend to your plants.

Build Your Own- Use reclaimed wood or other sustainable materials.

Size Matters- Keep them narrow enough to reach the center from either side, typically 3-4 feet wide.

Soil Mix-Fill with a mix of compost, topsoil, and organic matter.

Composting: Turn Waste into Gold

Composting is a must for any urban homestead. It reduces waste and provides rich, fertile soil for your plants.

Small Space Solutions- Try vermicomposting (worm composting) in a bin if you’re tight on space.

Outdoor Options- Use a compost tumbler or build a simple compost bin with pallets.

What to Compost?

Kitchen scraps, coffee grounds, eggshells, yard waste—avoid meat and dairy. I don’t like putting citrus peels in ours. They take too long to break down. You can use them in other ways, for example making cleaning solutions.

Rainwater Harvesting: Sustainable Watering

Collecting rainwater is an eco-friendly way to water your garden. It’s simple to set up and can save you money on your water bill.

Rain Barrels– Place them under downspouts to collect runoff.

DIY Systems- Use food-grade barrels and fit them with spigots for easy access.

Use Efficiently– Get yourself a Drip irrigation system that can be connected to your rain barrel for efficient watering.

Choosing the Right Plants

Edibles for Urban Gardens

Focus on high-yield, space-efficient plants. Here are some great choices for urban homesteads:

Herbs eg. Basil, mint, rosemary, thyme—perfect for containers and easy to grow.

Vegetables eg. Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, radishes, and carrots—opt for compact varieties.

Fruits eg. Strawberries, dwarf citrus trees, blueberries—ideal for small spaces.

My biggest tip is to ask other gardeneers in your area what grows best and when. Knowing your climate and the best times to plant will make your garden boom! Join a local gardening group in person or on facebook as they are a wealth of knowledge.

Companion Planting

Enhance your garden’s health and productivity by planting complementary species together. Companion planting can improve soil fertility, reduce pests, and boost yields.

Tomatoes and Basil- Basil repels pests that target tomatoes.

Carrots and Radishes– Radishes loosen the soil for carrots to grow better.

Beans and Corn- Beans fix nitrogen in the soil, benefiting the corn.

Embracing Sustainable Practices

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Incorporate sustainable practices into every aspect of your homestead. You’ll surprise yourself how resourceful you can become. Trellis built out of old lattice, old stockings or fabric to tie up tomatoes, pebbles and paint become plant labels. Your imagination and creativity will run wild! 

Reuse Materials- Use old containers, pallets, and other materials creatively.

Recycle- Set up a recycling system for household waste.

Reduce Waste- Compost kitchen scraps and garden waste.

Eco-Friendly Gardening

Natural Pest Control- Use neem oil, insecticidal soaps, and companion planting.

Organic Fertilizers- Use compost, worm castings, and even learn about weed tea!

Water Conservation- Mulch your plants to retain moisture and reduce water usage.

Community and Learning

Share the Knowledge

Urban homesteading thrives on community support and knowledge sharing. Here’s how to get involved.

Community Gardens– Join or start a community garden to share resources and expertise.

Workshops and Classes– Attend or host workshops on gardening, composting, and sustainable living.

Online Communities– Join forums and social media groups to connect with other urban homesteaders.

Teaching and Inspiring Others

One of the most rewarding aspects of urban homesteading is teaching others. Whether it’s through a blog, social media, or local workshops, sharing your journey can inspire others to start their own urban homestead.

Start Your Urban Homestead Today!

Starting an urban homestead is a rewarding journey that combines creativity, sustainability, and a bit of elbow grease. Remember, the key is to start small and grow gradually. Assess your space, plan your garden, and embrace sustainable practices. Whether you’re growing herbs on a windowsill or transforming a rooftop into a lush garden, every step towards self-sufficiency counts. So grab your trowel, get your hands dirty, and start your urban homestead today!

Happy gardening!

Mike

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