Gardening, A First Step to Homesteading

Homesteading has seen a resurgence over the last several years which is very cool.  More people are opting to build a strong connection with the land and are moving toward mini-farms and homesteads to raise their families.  Before beginning a homestead future farmers should do one thing: learn to garden!  The garden is one major component of a successful homestead and is integral to the function of a complete homestead system.  The garden provides food for the table, food for the animals, it can be a highly valuable source of other materials, and it can even generate extra income.

If I were to start a homestead the vegetable garden would be my first step. I'm not a homesteader, although I would love to be.  The whole self-sufficiency thing is a very appealing concept.  I'm a big fan of DIY projects and love learning how things work which is a trait that many homesteaders share.  It's an essential trait since so much can go wrong on a farm that the farmer has to handle by himself or herself - the farmer must be a Jack-of-All-Trades.  I would love to know that I can provide for my families needs without depending on other uncontrollable factors to survive.  Many people are also turning toward homesteading because it has a smaller ecological footprint.

Why Would I Start a Homestead with a Garden?

Typically homesteads have a number of different kinds of animals like chickens, goats, or cattle.  The animals need fed, watered, and veterinary care. While the garden needs similar care with fertilizers, water, and routine maintenance it usually isn't as critical. The garden isn't nearly as demanding as an animal and can provide a ton of produce in small areas.

Gardens are also much easier to start in the suburbs.  Many subdivisions, even those with large lots, don't allow livestock.  Ours doesn't, well...almost.  (The builder of our subdivision allowed his section to raise goats but not others.  Funny how that works...) Anyone with a tiny amount of space can begin learning about gardening.  You can garden in pots, garden in raised beds (my favorite way), create vertical gardens, or grow mini-orchards.  You can even integrate your edible plants into your landscape. If the gardener's interest and time allows he or she can expand the garden.  The garden is a place where any future homesteader can learn about the soil and learn how to grow the plants before committing to do it all.

How Would I Start a Homestead...

I think the number one thing to be done in any situation is to come up with a good plan.  A plan that charts out when and what the homestead needs to be able to provide. Here's a very basic outline of what I night do.
This list is by no means complete and isn't intended to be a reference.  There are details that would need to be worked out with each stage for a homestead to be successful. Which is probably why I'm sticking with gardening right now!  Local sources can be found in most communities to provide for eggs, meat, and other things that the garden can't.  My advice on homesteading would be to talk to someone who is doing it and ask them to become a mentor.

Maybe one day I'll have the space to do a few of these things but until then I'll just garden!

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