After watching the 1999 romantic comedy, ‘Blast from the Past,’ I had always wondered about the genius of Dr. Calvin Webber who managed 35 years in an underground shelter. His wife gave birth to an only child Adam, who ventured out into the outside world for the first time in his 35th year. The point is the film convinced its viewers very realistically that it is possible to live isolated for at least 35 years if we make meticulous plans.
History is overloaded with numerous examples of self-sufficient lifestyles. Many communes had developed their norms to survive and maintain law and order within their secluded lands. There are many anecdotes about people living their lives without interacting with the external world. The “Lena and Ole” compilations are based on Norwegians who chose the upper lands of the Midwest as their foster homes. Here is a one-liner,
“Ole painted the barn in July and had put on two jackets because the user manual of the paint said- Put on two coats!”
This is an inadvertent simple joke that has no ill intentions. Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny as long as it’s happening to someone else.” Homesteading is no easy task. At the same time, it is a style that has no substitute once you get used to it.
The Age of Information
Our generation is blessed with information at our fingertips, I mean, literally. Today a shepherd boy living in a remote African village has more information on his smartphone than was available only to the President of the United States at a certain age. My point is that the film ‘Blast from the past’ could not be conceived today nor would Ole put on two jackets to paint the barn. Homesteading is fine for people who live on “land,” but what about the inhabitants of apartments?
The Homesteading Lifestyle
What happens in a homestead that is independent of the outside society? The inhabitants have the necessities within the confines of their boundaries for a decent existence. Let us have a look at the methods used by homesteaders to live. First we need to define the term in simple language.
An individual, a family, or a whole society can live within the set geographical limits of a designated area. We are talking about homesteading in an apartment, so let us focus on an individual or a small family.
Definition of Homesteading in an Apartment
A single-family existing within the household compound of an apartment building to live, work, and earn can be defined as homesteading.
This layman’s definition will give rise to a lot of questions which we shall be attempting in the content that follows.
OK, let us now get on with living our dream life homesteading in our apartments.
A Farm Inside the Apartment
I will begin by growing my food and advance on to sophisticated produce along the way. Start small by growing your salad bowl.
i. Get hold of enough grow bags or containers. Search the net for required sizes and DIY ideas.
ii. Prepare the soil by using proper potting mix.
iii. Tomato is a good option- cherry tomato would be my suggestion.
iv. Other plants for our salad bowl should be lettuce and basil plants.
v. Take care of the plants with good nursing practices. Place them on the balcony where there is enough sun.
vi. Carrots can be grown inside car battery covers in the interior of the apartment.
vii. You can make organic fertilizer at home.
You are now the proud owner of an organic farm.
Tip: Grow lights can substitute for the sun.
Other Items I Can Grow
Once you get the hang of interior farming, we can move on to other crops.
Strawberries: They can be grown in containers or grow bags, but need a hydroponic watering system. We will discuss that later.
Herbs: Mints, lavender, and rosemary are good choices. They will come in handy to prepare a good cup of hot tea. They can also be used to make soaps and oils. Herbs will add flavor to many dishes.
Micro Greens: With some quality seeds you can begin. The first harvest will provide seeds for the next.
Sprouts: With a jar and some cheesecloth or mess top we can grow our sprouts for a stir fry or sandwich.
A Hydroponic System
Even if you are growing food using containers and potting soil, a hydroponic system will let you increase the quantity. It avoids a lot of mess as it advocates a system of soilless farming. They come in compact designs or vertical configurations.
They can be bought or constructed by learning the numerous DIY strategies available online.
Manufacture Manure at Home
Organic fertilizer can be made at home by the clever utilization of food waste. Get a container with a good lid. Put some gravel and soil at the bottom. Introduce worms for worm composting. Empty all bio-degradable garbage into the container. You will get enough environment-friendly fertilizer for the farm. This method frees you from the chore of taking out the garbage.
Tip: Do not expose the manure cans to sunlight. It can cook worms.
Did you know mushrooms are grown only indoors for industrial farming? Get an edible mushroom kit to begin your first batch in a dark corner of your apartment.
Meat On The Table
Did you wonder for a moment what crazy idea I was going to put forth? Quails!
They are very silent birds that need only very little space. They give a lot of eggs and quail meat is way above chicken, beef, and pork in its health advantages. Quails being small birds, need only a little feed, and kitchen scraps go well with them.
Mini Solar Power House
Did you know solar panels don’t require direct sunlight? They need good lighting and it is advised to install the panels at a good spot on the patio or balcony.
Depending upon the capacity of the panels, you can increase the number of appliances that run on solar power. They can be used for grow lights and also for pumps used in the hydroponic system.
A Self-Reliant Life
Once we have become self-sufficient in food matters, we can think about cutting out other purchases. This will also involve income creation. Do your homework to get as many DIY ideas as possible. We can begin the process by gaining ideas by:
i. Visiting other homesteaders or communes.
ii. Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) venture.
iii. Visiting farmer’s markets.
We can enrich our homesteading experience within the confines of an apartment by progressing on to a more autonomous lifestyle by integrating the following activities:
i. Do own baking for bread and other items.
ii. Learn and engage in carpentry.
iii. Do your own electric and plumbing jobs.
iv. Learn to stitch to make your garments (trust me, it is far easier than you believed.)
Before Going Shopping
Whenever the need to buy something comes up, take a few moments to ponder whether it is something you can create using your potential. Not only will you be learning a new skill, but also it may help you earn. Remember, the Wright brothers had never flown an airplane till they became the first humans to become airborne on a machine.