Urban Homesteading

I can't deny it any longer--I'm an urban homesteader. It's not something I really want to deny, but I'd prefer to be a homesteader without adjectival modification (that is, I want a small farm with a house in the burbs).

Anyway, last weekend, I decided it would be a good idea to buy 25 pounds of canning tomatoes (and then pick up another dozen or so pounds of heirlooms for variety) and 10 pounds of cucumbers.

I made about 3.5 gallons of salsa on Saturday (well, half on Saturday, the other half on Sunday--I worked about 8 hours, from 8 PM to 4 AM, which is why I didn't make it to the mushroom ID nature walk at 9 AM on Sunday) and 10 quarts of dill pickles on Sunday afternoon.

The salsa recipe I followed calls for 15 pounds of tomatoes to make 8 pints of salsa. I figured that meant the tomatoes reduced a lot during preparation--and I didn't read the note that said the recipe expected 15 pounds of tomatoes to make about three quarts of chopped tomatoes. I doubled the recipe, figuring it to be reasonable (ignoring all the preparation, of course). But then I ended up using almost all of my quart, pint, and half-pint jars in the house to can the salsa--because the recipe made 8 quarts, not 8 pints, and I had doubled it. The pounds of tomatoes left over were sliced and dried in a borrowed food dehydrator.

So on Sunday morning, I had to go buy more jars so I could make 8 quarts of pickles from the cucumbers I had soaking in saltwater overnight. They turned out quite delicious--although next time, I think I'll up the dill (I went on the low end of the suggested amount of dill seed because I could find only a limited supply) and decrease the mustard by a little. These pickles are certainly crunchy and pickley with a nice dill flavour--but they're also a bit more mustardy/spicy than I'd like.

No, my urban homesteading doesn't end in the garden or the kitchen. Yesterday morning, I headed to the garden plot with a friend. She's a friend from the local Gesneriad Society chapter and had given me a bunch of Sinningia tubers to plant in the plot so they could enjoy the sun and heat. They's certainly doing quite well at the plot, as is most everything else.

Besides plants, my friend has many other hobbies, including photography and fiber arts (spinning, dyeing, and knitting). Because I'm growing cotton, we've been talking about dyeing the bolls--perhaps with the woad I'm growing in the plot, dead tomato plants, mugwort, or any number of other plants I have available.

While she was photographing the cotton, she noticed that one of the plants has pink flowers, and another white--I've only ever seen the pink one in bloom, so that's exciting to me! They are all Sea Island brown cotton grown from seed, so there's some flower colour variation in the species.

Although I am growing cotton and plants that can be used to dye fibers, I haven't ever dyed my own fiber or spun my own yarn, but I do knit scarves and crochet toques. My friend decided that I need to up my involvement in the fiber scene. She gifted me a spindle and different types of fiber to practice spinning with (cashmere from a goat named April, some batt [60% Merino wool/40% neon-coloured nylon], five cotton bolls, and some pima cotton).

And I practiced for a few hours last night--my spun wool is irregular and thick, but I'm getting better already!

We're already planning spinning lunches so she can help me practice.

I can grow food, I can prepare food for long-term storage, I can build structures, I'm working on making cheeses, I can make articles of clothing, and now I can make the yarn that can be turned into clothing. Other than making fermented beverages (yum!), what other type of skills do I need to be a homesteader? Perhaps mixed martial arts, and I'll be ready for the Zombie Apocalypse!

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6 Responses to Urban Homesteading

  1. wow!! You're a true inspiration to me! I love how resourceful you are.

    Perhaps someone else will have suggestions on further skills to acquire, but I can't think of any...I'd say you've already got it all covered!

  2. Very impressive! You've definitely got a few tricks/skills up your sleeves. How about wood carving?

  3. Well done! Most cotton plants have both color blooms on the same plant, pretty cool. I like my pickles spicy and super hot LOL so you probably wouldn't like mine. You got quite a bit canned for winter!

    1. I think if these pickles were more dill-y and the same amount of spice, it might be fine. Or if they were more complex spicy, that'd be fine too. But it was just a little too mustard and not much else!

      But I still love them. I made frakkin' PICKLES!!!! I can't wait to pickle okra and other vegetables too!

  4. woow..super.

    I love pickles much..can i have one bottle from you ;)

  5. That salsa recipe sounds interesting, will be something I look in to for sure as I have way too many tomatoes at the moment that I need to do something with.



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