“I don’t want the bland tasting veggies from the store after being spoiled with FREE produce from my own garden.”
Last fall I started hearing about the backyard homesteading trend. I figured it was some new hippy phase. A lifestyle of eschewing modern conveniences and living in a tent in the backyard. I apologize to anyone I ever mentally made fun of when they said they homesteaded. It is awesome! This spring I started my own backyard homestead, planting my first garden, composting, foraging, and getting my first chickens. The wonderful thing is that I did all this without sinking a bunch of money into it, barely anything in fact. All because I followed these 10 basic principles.
With the current fad of container gardening and raised beds it is easy to have your own produce directly in your back yard. I don’t want to buy the bland tasting veggies from the store anymore, not after being spoiled with better tasting produce from my own garden. Start planning early though how much time to devote to watering, weeding, and tending your garden. Home By Jenn has a wonderful FREE garden planner to get you started, plus some great articles on how to decide what you want.
No, I don’t mean for you to run out and club some old man with his cane for his wallet. Look around, does one of your neighbors have a fruit tree that the birds feast off of but they never pick any? Does a friend love to go hunting but just wastes the meat? I have family who have a ton of apple, pear, walnut, and plum trees on their property, but a lot of the fruit goes bad because they don’t have a use for it. After they had picked what they wanted, I asked if I could harvest the rest before the birds got to it. I make enough jams and jellies for the year with free, left-over fruit that I can share the bounty with others.
3. REUSING WATER
I re-use a lot of water in my house. Instead of pouring the excess water down the drain when I boil potatoes or peas I strain it into a bowl underneath. When it cools I water my plants with the starchy water. The extra nutrients are amazing! I pour mine on my green beans in my garden and they have taken off. The poor plants have more green beans than leaves on them right now. Re-using water is a frugal way to give plants a boost, I never buy supplements or Miracle-Gro since I never need to because of this trick.
4. building with Scraps
I build my own structures and projects around my backyard homestead. Using cast off boards from the local lumberyard and scanning online sites for materials, I am able to make my projects for a fraction of the price. This weekend I built trellises for my cucumber plants, all it cost me was the time I spent outside and a couple of nails.
I live in the middle of town and wanted to get homegrown eggs, so I bought my own chickens. I made sure that the city ordinances allowed them and did my research as to which breeds work best for backyards. We started with four chicks and ended up with two hens that are sweet and friendly, they even let my kiddos pet them. Chickens are great pets and require very little work when you do it right.
6. WASTE NOT WANT NOT
Have a pile of old boxes lying around that you don’t have a use for but are loathe to throw away? Why not use the cardboard for weed barrier? Have some old coffee cans stacked in a corner because they’re so handy? Turn them into chicken feeders or for storing next years seeds (I use old baby food jars for seeds). The main point of being frugal is to save money, so I re-use what I have rather than buying something new.
“Cash is king” = lies! I love bartering for fresh produce or products. At first I was very uncomfortable approaching someone to ask if they would trade me a dozen ears of corn for a jar of homemade salsa. Now, I realize the worst they can say is “no”. I love bartering with local people, often times I can post on my local Facebook group and ask what I am looking for an what I am able to trade. It’s like a real life game of PIT, without the yelling and violent trading of cards. A word of caution: I only barter with products rather than services, I have had people promise to do a service in exchange for a product and then never show up to do it. Be cautious when bartering with someone you don’t know.
Even if you live in the city it is easy to compost in your backyard. Don’t throw away those cantaloupe rinds and carrot peelings, turn them into rich nutrients for your garden. Grass clippings, outer leaves of cabbage and lettuce, all of it goes towards next years dose of compost for my garden. Although since I have chickens too, I end up giving my chickens most of the nice veggie scraps. I bought old 55 gallon tubs and turned them into compost bins for only $5 per bin.
9. STORAGE IS PRIORITY
I have a storage shed that is currently full of all of my canning supplies, just waiting for fall. A major project I am going to be tackling in the next few weeks is to install shelving in my spare closet. The poor closet is stacked with boxes of fabric and the clothes that my kids are growing into. With some shelving I could easily store my canned goods and produce there throughout the winter. Making sure I have adequate storage is very important for me before I start a new project or plan a new venture. Having a house filled with stacks of boxes and jars is no fun for anyone.
10. FIND A LIKE MINDED PERSON
I met a lady who has never canned before but wants to start this fall. We both have kids so we have planned a canning party one week. We decide what sort of products we want to can, then we get together at one persons house with all our canning supplies. Between the two of us we will be able to produce a much larger amount of canned goods than we could make individually, while having fun and trading ideas. I highly recommend finding someone of a like mind that you can combine projects with.
Is there anything you would add to this list? How do you save money by backyard homesteading?