What does homesteading mean for us today? Well, it used to mean someone who came to American, got their own land, built their own home to provide for their family off of that land and being completely self-sufficient. Let’s face it, for most of us that is an unreachable goal in today’s economy. For those who have established that, more power to ya and I am envious!
So now, the word Homesteader in 2012 has been redefined. It means trying to grow your own food and raise your own animals to provide for your family as much as possible. Does this mean only we country folks can do it? Of course not!! People all over can grow their own food and learn how to be as self-sufficient as possible. For city dwellers, it can pose more of a challenge than for someone with property outside of the city, but it can still be done. No matter who you are or where you live, if you can learn to grow your own food, be it plant or animal, then you’re a homesteader.
We now live in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia after living in the country for about 20 years and it was a big change for me, but I adapted. (I still consider myself a country girl though ;)) I used the internet to learn about container gardens and the laws about farm animals in the city, which there are many of, so do your research before buying 10 chickens or a goat.
Raised Garden Beds
What Homesteading Means TodayIn this series of blogs I will share my knowledge of gardening, culinary and medicinal herbs, raising different types of animals and just some basic things to become more self-sufficient.
My husband Scott and I have recently added a second raised garden box in our yard this year. A garden box is what it sounds like, a box for your garden; usually 4×4 or 4×8 built using lumber or synthetic lumber to create a space above ground to grow your own fruits, vegetables or flowering plants. For city dwellers and country folk, they are very beneficial for a number of reasons. They keep weeds from invading your soil and prevent your soil from becoming compact. They help keep out garden pests and provide well-drained soil.
Many times, gardeners can even plant earlier in the season because the soil stays warmer and the sides of the beds prevent the soil from washing away in the rain. One thing I love most about them is I don’t kill my knees bending over to tend to my plants. For older people this is an added plus to raised beds. The first raised garden box we bought, versus buying the material and doing it ourselves.
After figuring up the cost of the material versus buying the kit, the cost was about the same and with the kit you get all the parts delivered to your door and can put it together in minutes. What took so much time in our case was the fact our ground is not level. It’s very sloped so Scott had to level the ground which took a lot of digging and a bit of dirt. This is something to consider when picking a plot for your garden box.
I think the hardest part of having one, or ten, depending on how much space you have, is the building of it, at least in Scott’s opinion. :) I won’t lie, it does take some time to assemble and set up if you’re not using a kit, but it is well worth it. We prefer using synthetic lumber, also known as ABS plastic resin, because they last much longer; there is no wood that will not rot.
Lessons on Lumber (very important)
If you chose to use lumber then there are a few things you should be aware of. Most lumber is pressure treated with chemicals such as Waterborne, Creosote, and oil-borne. All of which you DO NOT want to seep into your soil and vegetation. You will be eating the food you grow and these chemicals are very harmful. In fact, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture, pressure treated wood isn’t even allowed to be used when growing organic food. I am providing a link on these chemicals for you to read further if you would like.
So what wood is safe?
I have found most gardeners prefer untreated cedars or red woods. They are both naturally rot resistant and will last approximately 10-20 years.
Self Watering Container Gardening
There are simpler ways to garden for those in apartments, townhouses or if you have very little yard space. I have found earth boxes to be a Godsend and they provide very good tasting fruit. The cost of these is about $30.00 – $50.00 a piece. The kit contains everything you need except the dirt and plants. Following the directions is very important with these earth boxes and there are many people who have ignored them and failed in their attempts to grow edible food. These boxes are wonderful for porches or balconies.
If you don’t have the extra pocket cash for these, there are much simpler options. Two 5 gallon food grade buckets. I am adding two different ways to build a self watering container garden system.
This is the first, and best way I have found:
This is the second way, which is a bit simpler if you only want one or two buckets:
There is one last very important thing in today’s blog. Before you begin your city gardening, plan, organize and research what you envision. Do not have unrealistic expectations. By that I mean, don’t expect to grow a field of corn in your back yard. ;) Pick plants that are possible to grow in containers, things such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, cabbage, strawberries, lettuce, herbs, pole beans or onions. Do your research for your zone and see what will best suit you and don’t set yourself up for failure.
Well guys and gals, that’s it for today!! I will go into more details in my next homesteading blog; things such as building your raised garden bed & planting your first vegetables. I hope you will join me and share tons of information to help our readers in their growth of Raised garden bed to help them become homesteaders. Please remember to keep your replies clean and mature.
Keep it Spicy,
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