Apartment homesteading?

Simple living, extreme early retirement, being wealthy, ...
Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

white belt wrote:
Mon Dec 14, 2020 3:24 pm
Thanks. So are you planning to implement some kind of microgreens or worm composting system at your apartment? In the past 6+ months since you started this thread, have you found any other home production strategies that work well on the small-scale?
yeah, i 'd like to start composting first, which would enable microgreens, herbs, plus any other kind of extra houseplant for oxygen/clean air.

my idea is to eventually turn the place into a kind of greenhouse, once the main structure is established. since soil is the limiter, compost would grow the way.

these past months i've been distracted with business projects & given priority to office + gym setup (since we're 2 working from home now, and can't get out much to exercise, i had to buy "stuff." a bit crazy, but we manage. here's to pandemic survival.)

now that the big rocks are in place i can start to fit the small rocks.

i'll need a taller shelf for plants, and that's money, and i'm usually slow to spend (especially after all the furniture we had to order online).

the other home production strategies i got in mind are fermentation (have+want) and mushroom cultivation (maybe).

with fermentation i got dairy going on weekly basis, ive done successful apple ciders (will restart one of these days), i failed at restarting sauerkraut (have done before, recent didn't fly), need to get sourdough going (but not urgent, have tons of commercial yeast). all those add nutrition or digestibility or... entertainment value.

mushroom cultivation might be a way to put coffee grounds or other wet stuff to good use but i'm not there yet. @nunc fluens might start a mushroom thread at some point, so i'm looking forward to reading that.

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

Alphaville wrote:
Mon Dec 14, 2020 3:57 pm
yeah, i 'd like to start composting first, which would enable microgreens, herbs, plus any other kind of extra houseplant for oxygen/clean air.

my idea is to eventually turn the place into a kind of greenhouse, once the main structure is established. since soil is the limiter, compost would grow the way.

these past months i've been distracted with business projects & given priority to office + gym setup (since we're 2 working from home now, and can't get out much to exercise, i had to buy "stuff." a bit crazy, but we manage. here's to pandemic survival.)

now that the big rocks are in place i can start to fit the small rocks.

i'll need a taller shelf for plants, and that's money, and i'm usually slow to spend (especially after all the furniture we had to order online).
I just stumbled upon this video of someone who crams a ton of plants into a NYC apartment. It’s not focused on food production, but perhaps you can take some design ideas from it: https://youtu.be/ojTFAaCMKMM

Depending on your climate, I think you might run into serious humidity concerns with lots of indoor plants. Of course with your prior homestead experience I’m sure you’re already factoring that in. The microgreens did fine in my apartment but with my heat running my humidity is much lower in the winter. In the summer I had to run a dehumidifier in my apartment and that was before I even had the microgreens.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

hah! wow.

yeah ive seen a shorter video of that woman, haha, seems a bit much--1100 plants! we have 3 lol.

but yeah it would be nice to improve air quality, just without white flies or spider mites and that sort of thing that has a way to plague + destroy some things.

one time we got an english ivy for the formaldehyde removal and it came with a lot of undesirable passengers. i might have burned it all to get rid of them.

in any case we're in the southwest where it's dry, so more humidity is always welcome. if it ever gets to be too much indoors you just open the window for a moment and blam, the atmosphere takes all the vapor.

sky
Posts: 1223
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

I have some herbs growing in the house, oregano, thyme, chives and rosemary. As winter progresses I may start plants for another plant sale, and for the outdoor garden. In the past I had a hydroponic lettuce setup that would yield one romaine lettuce per day but replaced that system with a microgreen system.

My goal is to provide a diet of beans-greens-fruit-grains. The beans and grain would be purchased and stockpiled. Greens are microgreens, foraged dandelions and other foraged greens, and kale grown outside, blanched and frozen into pucks that can be added to the beans. I don't know of a way to grow fruit indoors. I have currants and grapes outdoors. Most of my outdoor plants are eaten by my animal neighbors.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

@sky

ive grown small tomatoes indoors into the deep fall/early winter with southern light exposure (this was in my cabin). originally brought in summer as the birds were eating them, and they just kept going & going... till december.

the other fruit i know that grows indoors is small citrus. i think meyer lemon? but i've never done it.

--

eta: i did a little digging. wth is a cucamelon!
https://greenthumbplanet.com/easy-fruit ... w-indoors/

but blueberries: i certainly would. same as strawberry.

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

Well the microgreens taste great and seems to substitute perfectly for spinach in salads. I've just had the basic salad mix and in the next few days I'll start eating the broccoli and spicy salad mix. 10/10 recommend growing them for newbies, since I had no prior gardening experience and had a successful crop within 2 weeks.

@Alphaville or anyone: Any experience with keeping quails for eggs? From my research, it looks like they are quite well suited to small cages and it seems some people even keep them indoors. They don't require outdoor forage space like chickens and make much less noise. From a legal perspective, in many places quails are considered pets not farm animals, so they may be more suitable to apartment life since you can pass them off as bird pets.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

@wb

alas, no quails, rhode island reds only--but this sounds interesting, though the smell of birdcage, hmmm...

--

anyway last night i watched werner herzog's "encounters at the end of the world" (he goes to antarctica) and there's a scene in the greenhouse at mcmurdo-- looked very cool. so i went and looked it up online earlier today:

https://www.space.com/41863-antarctic-g ... oject.html

the walls has reflective foil on it so that was a nice idea... will see if i can find more info about the place. seemed mostly hydroponics.

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

Alphaville wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 1:49 pm
@wb

alas, no quails, rhode island reds only--but this sounds interesting, though the smell of birdcage, hmmm...

--

anyway last night i watched werner herzog's "encounters at the end of the world" (he goes to antarctica) and there's a scene in the greenhouse at mcmurdo-- looked very cool. so i went and looked it up online earlier today:

https://www.space.com/41863-antarctic-g ... oject.html

the walls has reflective foil on it so that was a nice idea... will see if i can find more info about the place. seemed mostly hydroponics.
Interesting greenhouse experiment. I clicked through the website but they don't seem to go into much detail about specifics. I'd be curious to know how they power everything at these remote sites over the winter. My guess is just a huge tank of propane/oil to store over the months they can't get resupply deliveries.

It seems some people do raise quail indoors without issues: https://www.backyardchickens.com/thread ... rs.398242/

The consensus is to use wire bottom cages and add Apple Cider Vinegar to their water to reduce odors. Apparently the droppings only have a smell when they get wet, so if you can keep them dry then there isn't much of an odor. Some folks even use PDZ or baking soda mixed in the bottom tray that catches the droppings to neutralize odors. From what I can tell natural bedding on the floor is what gets wet and starts to smell so that is not recommended for indoor setups. In a studio apartment I think it would be a bit much to have them in your one room, but I think one could put them in a bathroom that gets some natural light if there is space. Some people raise them on shelf setups without any issues.

Then again, I remember helping to take care of pet gerbils and hamsters growing up, which people keep in bedrooms and living spaces even though they definitely have a smell. Indoor livestock is definitely an apartment homestead Wheaton level up in terms of commitment, but still may be more feasible than raising chickens in certain jurisdictions.

sky
Posts: 1223
Joined: Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:20 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

Fermenting sauerkraut is a good indoor homesteading activity.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

sky wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 3:26 pm
Fermenting sauerkraut is a good indoor homesteading activity.
my last batch was weird. was oversalty and kept growing a black mold on top at fast speed. tragic.

---

@wb

my great grandmother kept canaries at home, and i don't recall any smells but who knows. nevertheless, i wouldn't do quails in a bedroom. in a house, sure, why not. i'm not saying it's not doable, it's that personally i'd draw a line at feathers in the air and whatever microorganism is that eats feather dust. e.g. my wife would like a cat but we won't keep pets in this apartment due to hair, dander, and litterbox (plus costs).

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

Alphaville wrote:
Wed Dec 16, 2020 3:49 pm

@wb

my great grandmother kept canaries at home, and i don't recall any smells but who knows. nevertheless, i wouldn't do quails in a bedroom. in a house, sure, why not. i'm not saying it's not doable, it's that personally i'd draw a line at feathers in the air and whatever microorganism is that eats feather dust. e.g. my wife would like a cat but we won't keep pets in this apartment due to hair, dander, and litterbox (plus costs).
I think that’s where I’d draw the line as well, which is why I was saying that perhaps putting the cage in a bathroom might be more feasible if it is large enough to accommodate such a thing. Bathrooms are also easier to clean, usually have pretty good air circulation due to exhaust fans, and realistically are going to be unusable food production space for plants because of hygiene concerns. I don’t see it as much different than apartment dwellers who keep a cat’s litter box in the bathroom.

My bathroom in my studio actually has space for a cage on top of a large cabinet, but my current lease forbids pets. I theorize that at least some of the dust and feathers can be mitigated by covering the cage in a mosquito net or anti-dust screen, which would keep some of the dust and feathers in but still allow adequate air flow.

Having said all that, I’m still in the feasibility assessment of such a plan and wouldn’t pull the trigger until I run the more detailed numbers. However, I do think quail hold a lot of advantages and I’m surprised they aren’t talked about more for urban homesteading. I think in a smaller space they may be preferable to rabbit because you don’t have to deal with the urine smell and they enjoy a high stocking density (up to 3-4 per sq ft without any issues). I think eggs are also much less work to harvest on a regular basis than an entire animal.

Additionally, they do match my convenience criteria for animal care, which is that I can leave the setup for a long weekend (4 days) and not have any issues, provided I’ve set up my cage properly to provide an extended food supply, water, and light on a timer.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 6919
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Keeping pigeons is grandfathered code in some urban areas.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

mmm, pigeons, yummy (lol, sorry pigeons).

anywyay, even if doable, i wouldn't cram quail in a bathroom except under duress/extreme survival conditions.

quality eggs come from happy birds that can forage and eat insects and run around the yard in the sun. at least with chickens anyway, i've seen them eat lizards hahahaha.

for indoors, i think growing microorganisms (eg yeast) is lots more feasible, and plants will be outright beneficial--they will clean after you rather than you clean after them.

i wonder if red wigglers are edible. ive eaten tasty deep fried grubs. red wigglers already look like ground beef? :lol:

eta: "yes" https://unclejimswormfarm.com/can-you-eat-worms/

but mealworms? hmmmmm... more appetizing even lol...

eta: hell yes. keep food invertebrate:
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mealworm
i think it's more efficient nearer the bottom of the food chain

best part:
In 2015, it was discovered that mealworms can degrade polystyrene into usable organic matter at a rate of about 34-39 milligrams per day. Additionally, no difference was found between mealworms fed only styrofoam and mealworms fed conventional foods, during the one-month duration of the experiment.[8] Microorganisms inside the mealworm's gut are responsible for degrading the polystyrene, with mealworms given the antibiotic gentamicin showing no signs of degradation.[9] Isolated colonies of the mealworm's gut microbes, however, have proven less efficient at degradation than the bacteria within the gut.[9] No attempts to commercialize this discovery have been made.[citation needed]
great use for styrofoam

etax2: https://groundtoground.org/2013/01/30/h ... mealworms/

more: https://theconversation.com/five-edible ... -try-17672
Mealworms are particularly interesting for western diets and mass-production. Their overall nutritional value is comparable to beef
beef substitute!!

farming: https://www.wikihow.com/Raise-Mealworms

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:19 pm
Keeping pigeons is grandfathered code in some urban areas.
Exactly. Pigeons, domesticated quail, rabbits, and guinea pigs usually fall into a gray area for a lot of city codes since they are not classified as farm animals. Personally of those 4, quail appeal the most to me because they provide the dual benefits of eggs (females produce an egg a day and it takes 4-5 quail eggs to equal 1 chicken egg) and meat that is quite delicious when it comes time to slaughter. Also, I think they are easier to slaughter than rabbits and guinea pigs due to lower cuteness factor and Americans' familiarity with consuming poultry.

Alphaville wrote:
Thu Dec 17, 2020 4:32 pm
mmm, pigeons, yummy (lol, sorry pigeons).

anywyay, even if doable, i wouldn't cram quail in a bathroom except under duress/extreme survival conditions.

quality eggs come from happy birds that can forage and eat insects and run around the yard in the sun. at least with chickens anyway, i've seen them eat lizards hahahaha.

Coturnix (domesticated) quail are actually quite different from chickens:
Franchesca Duval wrote:"Quail are the complete opposite of chickens in that they want to be confined. They can't be free-ranging out in a pasture like chickens want to because they are a prey animal and so they are very fearful [...] They want to be in something like a rabbit-style hutch. They lay better in there, they thrive, their health is better, and so you can have that in a really small space."

You can check out the whole interview here: https://permacultureforthefuture.com/episode14/

In other words, quail are very well suited to being raised indoors because it reduces their stress by providing protection from predators. I would probably experiment with feeding them various sprouts/fodder to supplement their conventional feed and improve their health, which I can easily produce with the same microgreens supplies I already have.

Meal worms are a great idea, but I'm just not sure they pan out in practice for human or poultry consumption. Even among permaculture people, there are few that seem to think growing meal worms is worth the time and work involved. I do of course have my compost worms, but right now their only alternative task for me is as fishing bait.

The more I learn about it, the more I think that raising quail is not popular compared to other small scale animal husbandry because it is relatively unfamiliar in the modern Western world, despite the fact that quail have been domesticated and raised for hundreds of years. Today, raising quail at the household level is still common in Asia.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

wowza. had no idea abut those plumed mice. learned something new today! quail eggs are great too. thanks for the info! will add to the idea files. and yeah i'll eat small birds. will even chew the tiny bones.

you gonna start it? would make a good read if you log.

ertyu
Posts: 1584
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by ertyu »

@wb, what are your plans for dealing with the smell?

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

I might start it. Still considering it because my lease doesn't allow pets, however I think if I talk to my landlord then birds in cages should be fine (usually the no pet clause in USA is referring to cats and dogs). My other option is to potentially set it up at a friend's house, who is also interested in it for cuteness and pet factor but not as much for eggs. I have looked around and can find chicks or young adult coturnix for sale within an hour's drive. I'll see how I feel about it after the holidays. I am very tempted because I do have the perfect spot above a large bathroom cabinet for a 3 sqft cage that is in view of natural light from a window and is still out of the way of everything (it is currently occupied by a large cardboard box).

ertyu wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 6:14 am
@wb, what are your plans for dealing with the smell?
Good question, from what I've read on various forums about quail raising indoors, the quail actually don't smell at all if you take the correct steps. The keys are to use a mesh bottom cage so their poop can fall below to a tray that is easily cleanable and use a water cup system to ensure that the birds can't splash water anywhere. Like other poultry, their poop is high in ammonia, however because it is dry it only generates a smell if it gets wet. See here for an example cage setup, although I would not stock quail to that level of density and would go with a different feeder system that doesn't require daily refilling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOhGn2Y ... e=youtu.be

The emergency measures if smell becomes an issue for some reason is to use something like PDZ (not sure the equivalent in other countries) or baking soda. I also have an exhaust fan in my bathroom. The plan Z if everything falls apart would be to move it to my friend's garage. I would like to attempt it in my apartment first though as an experiment.

Noise is not an issue because I am only going to keep females, who don't really make any audible noise. Most noise is created by males and from mating. Maybe eventually I'd build up to a full-cycle system, but for now I'm just going to try to buy juvenile or young adult females so I don't have to deal with incubation or a brooder.

The bigger issue would be dust and feathers getting everywhere indoors, but I theorize I could mitigate that by draping the cage in a mosquito net or some other kind of very fine mesh that allows airflow but forces dust and feathers to just fall through the bottom of the cage to the poop tray. Bathroom surfaces are also just easier to clean in the event they get a little dusty, and I spend much less time in my bathroom (maybe an hour a day?) than my living area.

I’ll admit, this idea seems kind of crazy and is well outside of social norms. As an INTJ, generally that isn’t really a consideration for me, but I’d say this is a next level beyond worm composting, growing microgreens at home, or even harvesting my urine for fertilizer. Then again, it probably earns cool street cred points in urban permaculture/homestead hipster circles, of which I am not a part of (if they even exist) in my town.

Edit: Also I’m still not quite sure what to do with all the poop. I think the best option for me would be to bokashi it in a 5 gallon bucket to reduce ammonia/nitrogen content enough so I can bury it in the backyard or near some garden beds. A conventional compost pile isn’t really feasible in my current situation and even if it was, the pile would probably have some smell after rain.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

white belt wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:55 am
My other option is to potentially set it up at a friend's house, who is also interested in it for cuteness and pet factor but not as much for eggs.
do it that way. friend gets the cuteness, you get the eggs without ammonia or dust ;)

eta:
white belt wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 9:55 am

so I can bury it in the backyard
wait. what backyard? your apt. has a backyard?

white belt
Posts: 450
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 12:15 am

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

Alphaville wrote:
Fri Dec 18, 2020 10:31 am
do it that way. friend gets the cuteness, you get the eggs without ammonia or dust ;)

eta: no



wait. what backyard? your apt. has a backyard?
Another option is to strap a HEPA filter to a small fan like this: https://www.instructables.com/Proven-an ... ir-Filter/

I’m not overly concerned about dander or dust since I don’t have any respiratory issues or allergies, but I might still do it as a precaution. The filters aren’t cheap and would probably run me $20 a year along with the cost of electricity for running a fan 24/7. I need to do more research into this.

My apartment is the smaller unit in a single family home that has been split into 2 units. I live in a city of 200,000, about 2 miles away from the more dense downtown. There is a driveway and a very tiny backyard that is maybe 4 ft wide that runs along one side of the house (the other unit). It is under thick tree cover so it gets no sun. The only spot that gets sufficient sun to grow vegetables is a strip along the property line parallel to the driveway (need to test soil to determine viability).

I guess I could potentially put the cage in the yard, but I’d have to look more into it. My concerns would be complaints from neighbors/landlord, predators (cats, raccoons, etc), and figuring out how to shield the cage from the elements. It would also mean I’d have to be more attentive about harvesting eggs, making sure water doesn’t freeze, and figure out how to supplement with extra light during the winter. But it is a possible course of action that I didn’t previously consider so I will do some analysis.

Alphaville
Posts: 2767
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

i treat my bathroom as a clean room. yes, crap goes down the pipes etc, but ideally this the room where i go in dirty and come out clean and refreshed. being that i keep my first aid kit there i can also go in to treat a wound or burn or whatever.

for me it's not a matter of mere appearances or people's opinions (my life is mine) but of biohazard and useful compartamentalization of spaces. same as not eating on the bed or keeping paint thinner in the refrigerator, i'd rather have independent modules and prevent clutter.

plants are generally fine to keep everywhere unless they have pests (eg the dreaded white fly). animals are a different story.

i think it might be easier to social-engineer landlord/neighbor acquiesence to quail cage and thermoregulation & pest control of outdoor cages, than it is to rig sanitary bathroom cage controls etc.

shape of backyard sounds great and sufficient and you could have more birds. racoons could be a problem (they are for chickens) but something like an electric rabbit fence might keep them away. light is the same as indoors? not saying "do this"--just a thought.

roof terraces could also be an option as demonstrated new york pigeon breeders.

Post Reply