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Apartment Homesteading

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Dh and I have been homesteaders for most of our 58 years of marriage. The last few years however health and age have taken their toll on our energy and physical ability and our homestead land has all but gone back to nature. Even our rather large container garden will rest this year.   


I was mourning the loss of our ‘homesteading’ lifestyle when it came to me (okay with the Lord’s help) that homesteading is not all country and animals and hard physical work.  It’s a mindset, an attitude towards life and our role in it.  It’s about ‘blooming where you are planted’ and doing what you can with what you have.  We had not moved from our home but our ‘blooming’ area had definitely been reduced.


I had always thought of Mrs. Survival’s Urban Homesteading forum as a sort of guide to a mini version of homesteading.  That seemed to describe exactly what we were now living and I avidly read the back posts with my changed attitude.  The wonderful tips and ideas and information contained in those posts made me realize that what I’d been doing inside the house and in the surrounding small yard was exactly the same for either lifestyle.  The only thing missing in them were the very things I could no longer do, the huge garden and the orchard, the large animals, the heavy lifting, and the ‘country’ homesteading.  It made me realize I hadn’t left homesteading I’d just changed my focus. I still live in the country but Urban Homesteading fit my lifestyle much better. 


Then, in my research, I came across a new (to me) term, Apartment Homesteading, and began to read about it.  I am in a wheel chair a lot of the time and was intrigued with the fact that a lot of the ideas in both the Urban and the Apartment Homesteading lifestyles would also fit disabled or handicapped individuals.  Interestingly enough the activities aren’t different, only adapted. I will be doing more research into it and if anyone is interested I’ll try to share some of it here in the hopes of LOTS of feedback. 

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I live in an apt complex that does have a raised bed garden area for tenants who want to "garden." Several years ago I moved from another building to this one and that put me much closer to the garden as well as to the laundry room and the office. Unfortunately, the sun (high temps) and I don't get along at all, and I quickly discovered that being closer to the garden didn't matter because I couldn't get there in the summertime. This year I am doing some container gardening in the area immediately adjacent to my apt. We will see how that goes. :whistling:

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Okay, I'll work on getting the info together.  Give me a day or so.......I'm old and slow :whistling:

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There are a lot of sites that tell about Apartment Homesteading but I’ll try to give a summery here to get us started.  One thing that seems to run through this theme is that homesteading, no matter where you homestead at, is not so much an action as it is a mind-set.  Homesteading is more than owning land or livestock.   It is a lifestyle choice to live beyond the modern consumerism, instant gratification, wasteful, and self-centered way of thinking.  It’s a choice of self-reliance and self-sufficiency that can be practiced even in small places.

To start Apartment (or even Urban or Country) homesteading you first need to define just what it is you want to accomplish.  What would your ideal life be like as a homesteader?  Then take a good look at the space available to you and start to see it as a homestead.  It’s easy to see cows and pigs, gardens and orchards, and all sorts of survival/prepping/homesteading activities on a big piece of property in the Country.  A scaled down version within the city limits on an urban property with some land or yard is possible.  Apartment homesteading is also entirely possible if you change your mindset to make it become that.  

Here’s a short list of just some of the possibilities to get you started.  Most of this is the same as would/could be done on a Country Homestead. 


Grow our own salads and other foods on a window sill, balcony, roof top, or under lights 
Grow herbs or edible flowers
Grow hydroponically
Grow Sprouts in a jar, or microgreens on a window sill or under lights.
Buy from farmers markets, join a CSA or a co-op, find a community garden plot, or buy on sale and in bulk 
Preserve food by canning, dehydrating, fermenting, or freezing
Cook most/all of your own meals
Make your own mixes (There’s a great post on Mrs. S that has dozens of mixes to make. It’s called Mare’s mixes I believe.)
Make your own bread 
Make your own dairy products (yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc) 
Forage. Lots of food can be found in green spaces in cities, with precautions of course
Glean or Raise food animals (quail, rabbits, fish {think aquaponics}, Pigeon, etc)
Make your own infused oils, beauty products and cleaning supplies 
Mend, fix, or make it (whatever, clothes, shoes, containers, repairs, Jewelry, items for sale, whatever)
Add mini solar (using windows) for lights, charging, and etc
Find places to store preps and get prepared (more on that in another post)

Conserve – (think money saved for other purposes)

Use (make) insulated cookers to safe fuel
Wash dishes in an old fashioned dish pan using ‘safe’ products and reuse the water for watering plants, scrubbing floors, and etc. 
Use quilted curtains or bubble wrap as insulation on windows (the last still lets in light) to stop drafts and to stop heat or cooling losses. 
Us them for extra warmth on beds at night or make quilted clothing to wear in winter.  
Use fans for both heat and cooling, learn to gather heat during the day and cool at night. 
Compost your scraps or start a worm bin and use the resulting product for growing plants.
Re-use containers either for storage or remake them into something usable, (Like egg cartons into seed planters) 

This is just a start. We can add to this list as we go along and bump up or start separate threads for a lot of it to get more in-depth info. 

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3 hours ago, Mother said:

Wash dishes in an old fashioned dish pan using ‘safe’ products and reuse the water for watering plants, scrubbing floors, and etc. 


Was there a list of "safe" products available? I am going to assume that original DAWN would be at the top of that list.

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MM, there wasn't a list of 'safe' products as that's a bit longer subject.  I debated on making that more clear in the list or even adding it simply because there are a lot of variables to using soapy water to water plants with. It all depends on the boron, salt, bleach, and etc that might be included in any given soap. The short answer to your question is that though Dawn can be used on animals it is usually rinsed off afterwards.  It can be used in small amounts mixed with water as an insecticidal spray for plants it might not be great for them in large and continuous amounts.  Rinse water would be better for that.  


I'll see if I can bump up some older threads on water and perhaps add to those so that we can keep 'watering' all together.  I can already see that Apartment homesteading might be a 'large' topic.  Thanks for the question. 

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Generally speaking, the mild Ivory soap has been the go-to for spraying plants. That's also what I use when I need a sticker agent when spraying around the garden with organic chemicals. My grandma used to toss the dish water onto her flower beds when she was done with it.  That was pre-Dawn days.   :hidingsmile:

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Posted (edited)

Homey, your grandmother might have been using old fashioned Lye soap and I wonder if she used it on her vegetable garden too.   We definitely need a Urban Water thread bumped up to see if any of this is in those.   :pc_coffee:


Okay, I bumped one 'water' thread up.  It is a good one to read but I believe in order to keep the Apartment Homesteading Theme I will start a new one where we can put info specifically on conserving water.  Jump in there with all your ideas for that.  

Edited by Mother
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I believe Ivory soap would be one of my go-to commercially manufactured soaps to use if I intended to use gray water for plants. Especially since it's readily available. A doctor recommended it to use on my newborn in the 1970's. Sheesh, that date looks so old. :unsure:  


I used to get horrible cases of poison ivy and sumac when I was younger. It was bad! All over my body even my eyes and mouth. The last episode I had the doctor recommended a soap called Basis. It is very good too. I'm not sure how available it is now. Especially now. But it is very mild. 


I am talking about soap to use on plants etc. but it has me thinking about soaps to have on hand to use for skin irritations. Measles, chicken pox, hives, poison ivy or shingles. I'm putting Basis soap on my shopping list. Ivory if I can't find Basis.


If you have acne prone skin Neutrogena soap is very good. It's a glycerin soap and got me through my teen and twenty years.   


BTW, I usually got my doses of poison from being in the woods or in the country gathering berries or walnuts. Also weeding a garden. Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries grow profusely along railroad tracks. At least in Indiana. They probably spray them with Roundup now. 

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6 hours ago, Jeepers said:

They probably spray them with Roundup now.

My guess is that they use stronger, longer acting chemicals than Roundup. We used to purchase fence-line chemicals that lasted 1-5 years. Roundup is only a few weeks and extremely expensive, even in 55-gallon barrels.    :thumbs:

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Apartment homesteading! That is what I am doing now. We have a container garden. I have built my own earthboxes and have a container garden on the back patio. I am dehydrating frozen veggies becasuse we have a smaller freezer. Have turned the extra bedroom closet into a pantry. One major draw back is no livestock. Can't talk the landlord into chickens. 

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MT3B.   I'm going to put up an alternative livestock for Apartments post.  Perhaps you will find something you might want to try. 

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14 minutes ago, Mother said:

MT3B.   I'm going to put up an alternative livestock for Apartments post.  Perhaps you will find something you might want to try. 

I was thinking quail or dove in cages like parrots. I was also thinking rabbits.  Then you always have fish in tanks, I read an article about raising shrimp in tanks. I will have to find it again.


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