Episode-1130- All About Urban Homesteading

Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen authors of The Urban Homestead and the blog Root Simple

Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen authors of The Urban Homestead and the blog Root Simple

Given the announcement I made today about SilverBulletSilverShield.com it seems this is also an appropriate topic, I imagine some will get that aside and some won’t.  Today indeed we will discuss urban homesteading or as is often the more accurate term, suburban homesteading, but I just really feel like calling it urban homesteading today.

Today I feel like I am somewhere in the middle, I am certainly not in the urban homestead camp nor even the suburban homestead camp as I sit on 3 acres in a quite rural and unincorporated area.  I did have an urban homestead not long ago in Arlington, TX.

From there we went to a true mountain homestead and now we have what is more accurately a mini ranch.  All of this though has taught me a great deal about the advantages that exist in everything from large holdings to small lots.  The entire thing is a system of checks and balances, for everything you gain with one property, you loose the advantages of another.

Join Me Today As We Discuss…

  • What really makes an urban homestead “urban”, size, location, what?
  • What are some unique challenges and concerns for the urban homesteader?
  • How much land do you really need to have a true homestead feel?
  • What things must you avoid 100% if you are to have a enjoyable urban homestead?
  • How do animals fit into the equation, how do you pacify neighbors and avoid issues?
  • What are some things you can do to increase self reliance even in the city?
  • What are some real advantages of urban homesteading?
  • How might a group pool resources and buy property with common property lines?
  • Why I feel restoring the homestead in all locations is the solution to many of America’s problems

Resources for today’s show…

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14 Responses to Episode-1130- All About Urban Homesteading

  1. Jack said up above in the Podcast Description:

    “Given the announcement I made today about SilverBulletSilverShield.com it seems this is also an appropriate topic, I imagine some will get that aside and some won’t. “

    And my reply is … yes, Jack. I totally understand the subtle reference you are making here via such an aside. In fact, I have, for the past several days, been thinking about THAT EXACT OTHER ISSUE of internet drama from 3 years ago *cough* urban homesteading trademark fiasco*cough* in reference to the recent CD/RG drama over SBSS.

    Touché, dude. 8)

  2. Homesteading can start where you are. Back to basics. “Basic” information, but I never get tired of hearing it. Great episode. Inspiring.
    Thank you for reminding us.

  3. Very consoling episode, Jack. We’ll use your planter barrel, stock tank, and woody bed suggestions to make the downtown core tolerable, while our family is stuck here for the next year and a half or so. When I finish Geoff Lawton’s on-line permaculture course, maybe a local charity will let me make a fedge to help them feed the poor, gratis. Swearing through my clenched teeth as I count the days until we can finally leave for acreage is totally counterproductive and against permaculture principles. (Our nicest neighbors are probably the Hells Angels Hamilton chapter. The others are largely undesirables.)

  4. PrepperJim

    Great podcast, great podcast, great podcast. It has been a ong time since a podcast connected with me. The most important part of the podcast was the simple statement (and I am paraphrasing), “what can you do with what you have?”

    I believe I am an example of an urban homestead in process. I live in the middle of urban Houston, Texas. My lot is 130 feet by 50 feet, including the 1700 square foot foot print. I am not kidding. I moved here prior to becoming a “real” prepper. I was newly married and moved to this area to give my wife a shorter commute than my pre-marriage house in the ‘burbs. I did not think about a homestead, so I have to build one in stealth mode because my wife is somewhat reluctant.

    So, I do the best I can with what I have, because I want my marriage to survive my prepping. I am lucky, because the house has two big pecan trees. We get a crap ton of pecans in the fall. In fact, the neighbor’s pecan tree drops pecans that end up in my back yard via their roof (yes, they are that close). In the past, I let my wife pick up the pecans, get them cracked and get the pecan out of the shell. And yet, she does not pick up 50% of the pecans and they rot in the yard. This year, I am going to actually help. The pecans we don’t crack and shell, I am going to sell. Not only will it forward my homestead process, but it will get me in good graces with the wife.

    For my first anniversary in 2011, I planted blackberries. It was a rough year because the summer of 2011 was the hottest in the history of Houston and one bush died. Last year was better, so I propagated the surviving bush and now they are growing like gangbusters. In a year or so, I will have a thriving blackberry grove. I have not protected from the birds, so most of the blackberries get eaten, but that is not the point so far. Next year, I will get lively production from those bushes.

    During the winter of 2011/2012, I tore out an overgrown bush, dug a trench and turned it into a woody bed with a raised bed on top of it. That 4X8 bed is in its second year. It will be productive as hell in a few years.

    In the back yard, there were several beds dedicated to ornamental plants including roses. Somehow, they died off. I don’t know how that happened. Over the past three years, I have turned them into garden beds. I give away the surplus vegetables to my neighbors and, this year, my neighbor across the street is growing a garden. How did that happen? I finally killed that evil, thorny bougainvillea this spring. That area will be a strawberry patch in the future.

    My only mistake is not planting a fruit tree in the back yard this year. I was too busy and too tired this spring with my job and my life. I put it off and put it off and now it is too late. Of course, there is always next spring.

    My small property has so much potential, that it will take me a few years to complete it while navigating my marriage and life. It may not be a homestead, but it will be as productive as it can be.

    In summary, do the best with what you have. I am.

    • mike from nj

      ” In the past, I LET my wife pick up the pecans, And yet, she does not pick up 50% of the pecans”

      I let my wife wash my truck, but she only cleaned half of it. Now I have to help wash it too.

      I’m not picking on you, man. Just poking fun at your choice of words because I know what you mean. I take my 8yo berry picking, fishing or just throwing rocks in the lake, anything that involves outdoors or nature. We invite(drag) my wife along in an effort to spend more time together and it never works out. It’s too hot, too cold, too many bugs etc. It’s just not her thing, I’d feel the same way in gap or old navy, but it makes all of us miserable. so we go alone and make it our dude time.

  5. Cool cast, as usual. And the Urban Farming Guys…. tons of info!

  6. I don’t know how to reply but to PrepperJim; Pecan trees are of the same family as the noble Walnut, genus juglans. As such, they too are allelopathic. They secrete the same juglone in the root zones and also from their leaves of course. If you are having trouble growing under a pecan canopy, that is probably a big reason why. Doing a little research about buffer plants, plants that can tolerate the juglone, will go a long way to helping your garden succeed without losing the pecans. I believe Hemenway suggests Mulberry and N-fixer shrubs in the walnut guilds he suggests in GG.

  7. Moonvalleyprepper

    Awesome show Jack!

    It’s shows like this that got me hooked on TSP in the first place. Thanks for the new ideas, I definitely need to get some rainwater harvesting in place, and reaffirming my current plans.

    I just added to my livestock, got 2,000 compost worms showing up today or tomorrow, and just put in a half dozen worm towers in my zone 1 contour, woody / rabbit shit core beds.

    Since you mentioned quail, shameless plug for anyone interested.
    http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/index.php?topic=42900.0

    Intensely managed, hyperproductive, small scale creative designs.
    Challenge accepted :)

    • no more ‘thumbs up’..

      so i just have to say.. sounds awesome!

      and thanks for the great show on Quail!

    • Thank you for that excellent free quail resource, Moonvalleyprepper. You obviously spent a great deal of time and effort developing it. If I can find a quail supplier in my urban area, I will definitely try it. Stealth permaculture ideas are always welcome.

  8. Don’t forget about cherries! Some varieties of cherries can grow down to zone 2b. So can some apple varieties. Chinese kiwis can handle zone 4.

    Even in Canada you grow olives and citrus. It’s all about microclimates.

    • Hardy Chicago black figs and dwarf pomegranates also grow very well despite Canadian winters.

  9. I can attest to the hardiness of oregano. I planted some last year and when fall came I just threw a pile of leaves over it. I’m in southern Pennsylvania so we got so snow and late cold spells. The oregano is now taking over a quarter of a 4×4 bed. I had to stick some wood down in around it to keep it from spreading more. It’s also grown over 6 inches tall. I’m going to be dehydrating and freezing a bunch just to keep ahead of it.

    On a different note, anyone know a type of bamboo that doesn’t spread but can get big enough to be used as building material? I know I can bury something in the ground to stop the spreading type but want to try a non-spreading type first.

  10. Jack,
    Just wanted to let you know that almost an hour into this episode, I was moved to tears. I truly appreciate the work you do and listening to you keeps me from feeling alone in my beliefs & actions. You have inspired me and renewed my vigor when I have been feeling exhausted by what feels like a constant struggle with the “ruling class” and my fight with “disposable” life. Thanks again.