I get a lot of requests for more “old school” episodes of TSPC and most of those focus on homesteading, permaculture, hard skills, etc. Today we begin a 4 part series where we will go into what I consider to be the 4 pillars of any proper homestead from a quarter acre suburban homestead to a large landholding in the country.
Note this series is not about commercial farming for a profit, scaling food production to feed 50 families, etc. Rather old school American homesteading like our grand parents did. Feed yourself, store surplus and share surplus with your neighbors. That is not to say a side hustle market garden or similar won’t fit with this series just that the foundation is first about “feeding the family”.
So what are the pillars, for this discussion there will be four….
- Back Yard Livestock
- Perennials and Herbs
- Local Hunter Gatherer Knowledge (foraging and trade)
Like any set of “pillars” these are not end all, be alls, just the foundation on which to build. Each is connected to others though function stacking and additional systems. Gardens create waste, animals create waste the two are connected via composting, compost feeds the garden which feeds the humans and animals as one example.
Today though we keep it simple and start with what many call “the gateway drug to homesteading and/or prepping”, gardening. When I was a kid in rural PA and would cruise around on my bike and eventually my car, it seemed every third or forth yard at best had a garden. I didn’t know it but I was a “poor kid” and yet between these gardens and what the land provided (hunting/fishing/foraging) I never even thought about food being a problem.
When I moved to Texas after my time in the army I was shocked as I drove though suburbs and saw almost no gardens and those that I saw were simply ornamental. And even those planted with wholly useless landscaping plants that provided no food, no medicine not even any decent pollinator habitat.
Today though things are different, while I don’t see a garden in every third yard I do see a few in every neighborhood, see posts about it all the time on Nextdoor.com, etc. People are coming back to the idea that the freshest food comes from your own back yard. When I think about the gardens my grand parents and their neighbors grew though they have some common points that we have largely lost today in what they grew, how they grew it along with how much work they put into it.
My grandparents pretty much worked hard at the beginning of the seasons, a little during the middle and then hard again with harvest and preservation at the end. Kids like me were used for on going mid season tasks, think watering during a drought or weekly cutting of broccoli second crops or green been harvest. The garden was not a hobby, it was something that helped feed us.
My youthful zest even then for “new stuff” was lovingly scoffed at. Basically “okay kid, try what you want but dig an additional bed, all of the space is planned already and we’ve been doing it that way since before your dad was born”. Today I try to balance that old and new mindset. Finding amazing new things like last year finding Indian Snake Bean or finding Ping Tung Eggplant a few years back, yet sticking to the “tiny farm” mindset of my grand parents.
Join Me Today to Discuss…
- The four pillars and why we are talking about them at the beginning of winter
- Small livestock
- Hunter/gatherer/local-trade knowledge
- Why a garden as the first pillar
- Can be done almost anywhere
- Can be done very inexpensively
- It is something you can do for your food security
- It really is “the gateway drug”
- The gardens of my grandparents and their contemporaries
- Great things that did well with little effort in their climate
- Focused on 8-12 crops that were happily eaten and stored in my grand parents case
- Sweet Peppers
- Green Beans
- Wax Beans
- Sweet Corn
- Butternut Squash
- Plants were laid out like a “small farm” rotated seasonally but in dedicated rows
- All beds were in ground beds, no raised wooden frames
- Cabbage was planted first, then broccoli and cauliflower, the the rest
- When the first freeze came we were DONE for the season (hunting season)
- Fertility was the neighbors horse manure, fishing remains, mulch and gasp 10-10-10 fertilizer
- Toxins like 7 dust were used (only when and were deemed necessary)
- Herbs like dill were randomly grown in and around other plants
- Harvest was an on going affair in a scheduled way to create meal quantities and/or enough to make storage make sense
- My modern version
- Follow the wisdom, grow what you eat all the time that is easy for your climate
- Reserve an area to test new stuff annually, adopt what you discover
- Incorporate trellising (vertical space)
- Add in automated irrigation (Texas ain’t PA)
- Use shade as a strategy
- Grow niche crops in things like aquaponics, hydroponics and wicking beds
- Grow dual use crops like sweet potato
- Use raised beds but only because I absolutely have to
- Replace 10-10-10 with an organic equivalent
- Fight disease with organic methods or just grow other things
- Plant in an organized way but interplant more than they did with vines, etc.
- Grow things more for daily meals and mass scale storage (growing season is 250+ days vs. 130-150)
- My 12 Core Crops
- Peppers (sweet & hot)
- Tromboncino Squash
- Asian Long Beans
- Asian Egg Plant
- Asian Cucumbers
- Swiss Chard
- Sweet Potato
- Indian Snake Bean
- Lessons I take from my grandparents way of thinking
- What we call less then ideal they called practical
- There is room for fun but if you spend money/time you need an ROI
- Don’t spend money on shit you don’t need
- Don’t use something unless it is necessary
- Don’t waste your production, eat it, store it, give it away or feed it to livestock
- Harvest and harvest then harvest more it will create more production
- My hope one day is gardens are more the exception than the rule, here’s why
Resources for today’s show
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- TSPC Telegram Channel (just messages from me)
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- All the Bitcoin/Crypto Tools & Gear I Recommend
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