Homestead – Get Tips To Start Homesteading

Are you looking to start a homestead? Does a self-sufficient and sustainable lifestyle seem appealing to you? Then check out these tips on how to get started from our regular contributor, Megan Wild.

 

Tips on Starting a Homestead

Do you pass by quaint roadside stalls brimming with delectable fresh produce and wish you could live a peaceful, self-sufficient farm life? Do you already have a small vegetable or flower garden in your backyard because the idea of homegrown sustainability is one of your family’s goals? If so, you may be ready to start your own homestead!

Homesteading is a lifestyle that includes small-scale farming, animal husbandry, food preservation and textile or craft making. Don’t worry, you don’t have to dive right into all of those elements at once. It really is a lifestyle change that takes time and practice, but will ultimately result in the pride and satisfaction that you’re moving toward a life of self-reliance.

Here are some tips on how to transition into starting your own small homestead.

Get to Know Your Surroundings

Is your property able to support a homestead? You don’t need hundreds of acres, but you will need to do research to make sure you have enough sunlit space for your garden and a big enough pasture for any animals you wish to raise. It’s also extremely important to check with your local zoning board to ensure that everything will be up to code.

Get in touch with nature and learn what plants and natural structures surround your property. Are the local shrubs poisonous, or are they a natural medicine you can use at home? Is there a clean stream perfect for keeping cows watered as well as backup in case your well dries? What wild animals are native to your area, and are they a threat to your produce? These are just a few things to consider, and you will have to build your homesteading activities based on the land you have available.

Chickens and Goats and Cows, Oh My!

One of the biggest reasons people turn to homestead living is the growing concern over ethical animal treatment. By raising your own animals, you are in control over their happiness and the many uses they provide for you and your family.

Chickens are often the first animal homesteaders start with as they’re easy to maintain and don’t require large pastures. Not only do many people tout the taste of free-range eggs over commercial eggs, but studies show that free-range eggs are healthier for you overall. Watching chicks hatch, or looking for fresh eggs, are fun activities everyone in the family can participate in watching and doing. For chickens that no longer lay, you then have a cruelty-free source of poultry and feathers to be used whenever.

When it comes to meat and milk, cattle and goats are great for both. Just make sure you’re completely read up on the proper care and handling of any livestock you choose to own before you buy any. Once you have their pasture and housing situated, you can start going to auctions. Even if you don’t buy the first time, this is a great way to get a feel for what other experienced farmers do and the types of cattle you could buy. Don’t be afraid to speak to the sales manager at the auction, as they will help acquaint you with how things are run.

After your animals are settled in their new home, make sure you continue to look after their care. Get in touch with your local veterinarian before and after making any purchases. They can tell you what vaccinations are necessary and which warning signs you should watch for.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Growing a vegetable garden is not so different from a flower garden. With careful planning, you can have both to utilize throughout the growing season. Tomatoes, squashes, peppers and beans are all easy starter vegetables. You don’t have to sacrifice the beauty of a regular floral garden — consider switching to colorful herbs such as lavender or chamomile or even rose varieties that produce large hips, which are great for brewing in tea. Let your children participate in the digging and planting when you first get started. It’ll make hunting for hidden vegetable bounty under the leaves all that much more rewarding.

You want to make sure you benefit from your garden year round, so dry or can your produce properly when you’re not eating it fresh. This will help you cut back on wasted veggies that aren’t eaten in time when your crop really booms. You’ll also stock your shelves for the winter.

Attitude Is Everything

Finally — and most importantly — remember that it takes patience and an open mind to change into this new lifestyle. You may make mistakes, and you may fall on hard times. However, the benefits truly outweigh the costs when you earn your self-sufficiency.

Once you get the hang of it, you’ll find homestead life to be extremely rewarding and you’ll thank yourself for all the hard work you put into it.

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

 

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Aquaponic Gardening – Create A Self-Sustaining Garden

Have you ever wondered about aquaponic gardening? If not, perhaps you should; it is fascinating. Explore the possibilities and learn more about aquaponics from our regular contributor, Megan Wild.

 

What Is Aquaponic Gardening

and How to Get Started

 

Living sustainably is a trend that has continued to gain popularity over time. Aquaponics is a method of gardening that combines fish farming and growing plants to create a system that is (hopefully) self-sustaining. Sounds pretty interesting, right? Check out the information below to learn more about this method and get started on your own aquaponic garden.

 

How Does It Work?

 

With an aquaponic system, waste from the fish become fertilizer for the plants, and the plants absorb it to keep the water clean and healthy for the fish. Fish waste creates ammonia and nitrate which can be harmful for the fish if it builds up. In an aquaponics system, however, the plants absorb the ammonia and nitrate and cycle the water to keep the fish safe. Once your system is established and self-sustaining, you’ll only need to add small amounts of water to replace what evaporates.

 

What Type of Fish Do I Need?

 

Tilapia is one of the most commonly used fish because they mature quickly, like warm water and do not require high levels of oxygen. In some places, however, tilapia is difficult to get or illegal to grow, so people will use catfish instead. If you don’t plan to eat the fish, goldfish can be another great option. Blue gill and koi have also successfully been used for aquaponics.

 

What Kind of Plants Can I Grow?

 

 

Aquaponic gardens can grow all kinds of things, but aquaponic systems function at a pH level that’s pretty neutral. Plants that require a very acidic pH won’t make it here, so if you had dreams of blueberries or azaleas, aquaponics isn’t for you. Here’s a partial list of some plants that will do well in your aquaponic garden:

 

  • Kale
  • Swiss chard
  • Mint
  • Basil
  • Sage
  • Lemongrass
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Eggplant

 

Getting Started

 

Aquaponic systems are pretty customizable, but every system needs to have these components:

 

  • A tank for fish. You can reuse containers you already have around the home, but always clean it thoroughly and don’t use anything that had harmful chemicals in it. You don’t want to put your fish or your food at risk.
  • A grow bed. This is where all your plants will be. Your bed should contain a growing medium like lava rock, gravel or hydroton.
  • Pumps and pipes. These will move water to and from your grow bed. Setting up the system for the pumps and pipes can be the trickiest part of creating your own aquaponics system.
  • An aerator. Having an aerator helps to provide oxygen for your fish.
  • Live red worms. Many people use live red worms in their growing medium. The worms help remove any solid fish waste, and worm castings are great for your plants. You can shine a flashlight on your worms to get them to dig themselves into your grow bed.

 

Once you have your supplies, you should establish your fish and your grow bed. The medium you choose will help clean the water even if there’s no plants in it.

 

Why Aquaponics?

 

There’s several reasons why more people are choosing to do less traditional forms of gardening, such as aquaponics. So, why should you start an aquaponic farm?

 

  • Aquaponic systems use far less water than traditional gardens. The water you use gets cleansed and recycled by the plants so you only add a small amount of water over time to replace what evaporates.
  • This method is perfect for people who have soil that isn’t good for growing. Rather than spending time and money trying to amend your soil, you can skip it altogether.
  • Aquaponic systems are organic.
  • Aquaponics reduce back strain from bending since most systems are built at waist level.
  • Only a small amount of energy is required to run the pump and aeration for the fish. This means you could potentially supply this through a sustainable source, such as solar panels, which would reduce your overall energy bill.

 

Building an aquaponic system is a giant step toward living more sustainably. You get the satisfaction of fresh vegetables and fresh fish that come from your own home — what could be better than that?

 

~Megan

Visit Megan at her blog, Your Wild Home!

 

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