How to Urban Homestead: Herbs, Worm Farms, Composting & More
I'll share beginner-friendly urban homestead projects my pioneering spirit completed in a townhouse. I learned ways to preserve basil and lavender, how to make recipes to stock your herbal medicine cabinet, how to raise a worm farm, and much more. You can learn how to homestead, and you definitely can do it in an urban area.
Two years ago, a homesteading dream was planted in my heart. I think that there are many of us from varied backgrounds currently tucked in or around cities and beltways that feel called to live rooted in smaller communities, our food, and the land.
Like me, you probably have your feet on both sides of the grass, balancing a career by day, which I largely enjoy, but also called to dig your hands in the dirt or dough at night, learning homestead skills to soothe a restless mind.
A while back, my husband and I felt at peace on a trip to the Blue Ridge Mountains. We enjoyed waking up to fresh-tasting eggs gathered a few steps away from the chicken coops, the seclusion of trees being our nearest neighbor, and cool, calm nights around the fire pit.
The good news is that you don't need hundreds of acres to start cultivating a homestead mentality because there are many homesteading skills that don't require land at all. Let's start out in the garden.
My lavender plant did exceptionally well this season, and I'm very much looking forward to showing you an easy way to preserve your lavender by making lavender honey using raw honey.
Fill a jar with fresh lavender, cover it with honey, and seal it.
Allow the honey to infuse for 2-4 weeks. Lavender infuses its fragrant flavor into the honey, which makes it shelf stable once the herbs are strained.
Lavender honey is delicious in warm tea, on biscuits, scones, yogurt, and fruit, and as a cough syrup.
My basil plants also did well this year, and I've lost count of how many times I've pruned my plants and how many quart-sized bags of pesto I have stuffed in the freezer.
I wanted a shelf-stable option, but dehydrated basil, in my opinion, just loses its punch. One way that keeps that basil vibrancy is basil salt. It's simple enough to make and complements a variety of vegetables and meats.
Simply add kosher salt to cover the basil in a food processor.
Process until you have a coarse basil salt.
Spread the mixture on a broiler pan.
Sun dry or use a dehydrator to dry the mixture out.
Once most of the moisture has been removed, transfer the mixture to a storage jar for use in recipes.
I've repurposed three trash bins as my compost system. A large bin keeps the compost scraps, while the other two bins keep nitrogen-based materials like grass cuttings, and the third bin keeps leaves for carbon.
As the leaves start to fall, I wanted to create an easy setup to winterize my fall compost.
My lemon balm loves this spot in the garden.
As part of my fall preps, I decided to make a ginger and lemon balm syrup that helps fight cold and flu symptoms.
I canned my own applesauce and fresh corn, which are some of my favorite pantry treats.
Fabric grow bags
Aside from one small inground bed, I'm mostly a container gardener, and I'm growing in about thirty 5 to 7-gallon pots.
I added fabric grow bags this year, and I've enjoyed them, so I figured, why not try to make them?
It turns out you can eyeball it easily enough, and even a beginner sewer like me can do it.
Did I ever think I would become a worm farmer this year? No, but in an attempt to understand the best-growing conditions for my crops and maintain organic gardening practices as much as possible, it became clear that vermiculture would be my best option.
I have my livestock I purchased two months ago, and they are growing so nicely and starting to lay eggs
While I have clothes I don't mind getting dirty while I'm completing yard, garden, or building projects; they aren't the durable fabric I need to provide both comfort and protection for the long haul.
I was pleasantly surprised to find Stanley workwear on clearance right before the fall season for a total pants and jacket price of $16.
Canning jars have been especially hard to come by this year. That is if you're looking in stores.
I found over 80 canning jars secondhand on Facebook Marketplace. I can't wait to put these to good use.
While I usually purchase my starts at the farmers market, this fall season, I decided to start my garden from seed. So far, my seedlings are doing well.
This is a part of my urban homesteading journey. I am learning how to make herbal remedies and do as much homesteading as possible without land. Have you begun a homestead in the city? Share your tips in the comments below.