When you read the title did you think ‘suburban homestead’, that’s an oxymoron. This guy is crazy, homesteads are in the country, fool. I believe anyone can make their home a homestead. For some it is not an option to move to the country. Instead lets focus on the positives of where we live and have our home become more of a producer.
The first thing you will need to do is evaluate your goals for your homestead.
- What do you want it to do? Provide food, income, security? Give some thought on your overall goals.
- Determine your landscape and limitations. If you live on 1/4 acre like me, you can’t do cattle. Do you want meat or would you rather have a larger garden? Perennials or annuals? Vines or bushes? What about lawn? Do you have kids? Do they need a place to run and play? Are you on a hill or flat? Sandy or loamy? Lots of rain or no rain? Where is there sun, shade, wind, high or low usage, easy to access? Think of the external sources which contribute to your homestead.
- Determine your wants and needs. First decide what you like to eat. Next find out what is easy and cheap to buy. If it is easy and cheap to buy then you might not want to grow it. If you can buy corn 12 ears for $1 then do not grow corn. If you want to then by all means do so, but most of us have a space premium. Next decide if it is expensive to buy or difficult to acquire locally or organically. These will be good things to grow. Most of all grow what you will eat.
- Determine which crops you will grow. Focus on heavy producers. Beans, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, peas, squash. Try to grow varieties not available locally or commercially. Try lemon cucumbers or pole beans. Pick perennials over annuals if possible. They generate food year after year with very little input. Also look for items which store well. I often think of squash, potatoes, onions, and herbs.
- Consider livestock. I know you are thinking my spouse barely goes along with what is going on now and you want me to bring an animal on board? I will confess the aforementioned question applies to me. We do not have any livestock. I would like some but it is one step at a time. Think about chickens for eggs or you could raise broilers for the summer. Rabbits have a small footprint, produce great manure and have excellent meat. Something I am considering is aquaculture or aquaponics. I am doing research this year on it. I will let you know what I decide.
- Extend your gardening season. This fall I am going to put some hoops on my raised bed to try to get through November with some hardy veggies. You could also make a cold frame. Do you have a spot in your yard, maybe a corner, which get lots of sun? Maybe you can grow something a zone higher by capitalizing on this micro-climate.
- Increase your productivity through trellising and vertical spaces. Plants like cucumbers, grapes, beans, kiwi, and even melons can be trellised. I have about 100 feet of perimeter in my backyard where I grow raspberries, melons and other things. Using trellises for beans and cucumbers can give better results since the veggie is not on the ground. They are also easier to see and pick.
Hopefully these have been some helpful hints to improve your gardening for this year.
Making Life’s Road a Little Smoother