Apartment homesteading?

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Alphaville
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Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

This is a little more long-term than the current emergencies, but I’m looking ahead at the upcoming recession/depression, wanting to partially decouple from monetary income via a homesteading approach.

2 adults, we’ve been homesteaders before and still have a tax-free cabin in the woods with grazing lands.

However, we are for the time being committed to a small city apartment we rent.

This is a good apartment! It’s close to my wife’s work, and near shopping and services, and therefore it allows us to live well without a car, as well as being near good healthcare, etc. It’s a big studio apartment—big for us anyway, and comfortable, etc.

Problem is we can’t fit crops nor cattle in here, hahaha. And we don’t want to commit to a house with a yard where we could raise rabbits/chickens/grow potatoes in a barrel/etc., because housing here is a huge commitment. We’d like to stay put for the short term, and definitely car-free.

So, looking at a “best of both words” solution here.

Transportation: Bicycle repair is #1 on my checklist as pedaling is our main mode. Currently I rely on bike shops more interested in selling me a new trashy model or something electric than in fixing/upgrading our current rigs. They’re a bit like car dealers. So I’m speeding up the learning in this department. If you started reading here: we have no car anymore, unlike the country homestead where cars were a must to reach town.

FOOD: I’m researching this on my own, but at the same time I’d like to know if anybody here has experience turning a small city apartment into a biophysically productive space. Indoor composting? Shelf-sized greenhouses? Fermenting vats? I have a sunny balcony but I’m not allowed to make it look “trashy,” per the normies. Also, we go from ultrahot summers to freezing winters with little in between, so the balcony can be inhospitable. Clearly no room for cattle here, but perhaps indoor microbial cultures for protein could supplement us (e.g. yeast??). I’m open to ideas here. I’m already a modest fermenter and will expand, I will look into community gardens right away as well, which is the most obvious.

Utilities: while the apartment is outfitted with washer/dryer, we’re returning to hand washing and air/solar drying (we get good passive solar, I just had not set up). A solar oven would allow for summer baking and spare the AC. We don’t have a big electric bill though, so this is less pressing.

Health: we’re back to the high deductible plan next year. This year was uncertain so we went with the “safe” option. We take good care of ourselves, so we should be good there and save a nice chunk.

Entertainment: more downtime = more artmaking & less TV.

Clothes: we’re minimalist in this department, but rely on pricey “outdoor” clothes. Maybe time to look into DIY, which could also become a side business. Not interested in cotton. But linen in the heat. Also more interested in merino, outdoor, bicycling clothes; plus waterproof, that sort of thing. Yeah. Anyone experienced in fine merino weaving? I don’t need nylon warps...

Please note that I lack a workshop/garage space, and due to being new in town/ limited social skills / misanthropy (lol) I might not be able to find free space to tinker & make a mess. I can wing the bike repair at home, but stuff like carpentry or welding will be off-limits due to setup.

Maybe I need to make some friends in this town, or maybe I find a way to micro-bunker, or both.

I appreciate any and all brainstorms. Thank you in advance for your participation in whatever form.

ETA: I’m looking at space station design, no joke.

jacob
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by jacob »

I did woodworking in our apartment. Handtools only. Usually reserved hammering (loud) for certain times of the day where I figured it would be the least annoying.

While I can't say it's impossible due to personal failure of making it work (fallacy of incredulity), we've had little success in growing anything edible at a productive level, but see @sky, so the focus has been more on storing basic ingredients and then having the capacity to process them.

This is actually the general philosophy. Raw resources + the tools to form them into what we need rather than relying on store/factory made products. Wood, 3D-printing, and electronics (consider going electronics free?) is possible in an apartment. Metalworking is harder, but a micro-lathe and mill would also be possible (so far I've not found the ROI of that worthwhile). The alternative and less flexible approach to building your own parts is to store parts. Lots of parts.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 11:25 am
This is actually the general philosophy. Raw resources + the tools to form them into what we need rather than relying on store/factory made products.
I’m so glad I didn’t fully turn my “living room” section into a lounging area yet. Instead of buying a TV stand with a big TV on it, etc., I’m going to build a wall-long workbench where multiple projects can live side by side.

Wife is an artist so she’ll love the idea. Previously she was going full digital out of minimalist necessity. Minimalism was good for us to move here, but now settled, it’s both insufficient and tightly coupled to salary. Fumio Sasaki has to pay a coffee shop to sit on a chair. Works only as long as he’s got a salary.

So I’m starting to mull over the various production technologies you suggested.

Furniture is a one-off thing for me, whereas food is forever. So I think I could maybe use woodworking to make kitchen tools, etc. E.g., a dough board, a butcher block, a grain mill, wooden spoons, etc.

I’m well equipped in the food processing department, so optimizations will be marginal.

Food: I tend to veer towards the life sciences, which was my early university education. I “get” biology at all levels, from the nano to the planetary level. Fun stuff. This merges well with my fondness for eating, which provides motivation for cooking, and biology/chemistry/nutrition are the foundation.

Electronics I’ve tried to learn, I mean at the basic level, but I always end up with a headache. Maybe I used the wrong method, maybe I lack motivation. I like devices, plan to keep them, but my early days of overclocking Duron processors are long gone. Now I prefer long-lasting “appliances”, e.g. 8 yeard old Macbook currently in use, or $300 iPads. However, they’re no longer repairable. I might need to revisit this.

As for making parts: I think the ability to 3D print plastic parts could be the greatest value because that’s how we pay the most for the cheapest garbage. E.g., $10 for 2 miserable Command hooks = WAT. There’s always some silly plastic part required for something. I hate plastic, but it’s handy. Then again, small scale woodworking could make most plastics moot.

A micro lathe seems cool but I don’t want metal shavings on my wife’s pillow [it’s a studio apt—things fly around]. Though I could see the use for bike parts. And I do have a bike part junk box... the only junk I keep right now.

So... looks like I need a work bench... fun stuff.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

You could start with herbs in containers on the porch, many herbs look decorative and would not create objections. For example, get a few 2 gallon pots and start some chives, oregano, thyme and basil.

The most important skill with regard to food is to learn to cook food you enjoy from low cost, long storage life, healthy ingredients. Find a legume that you like and learn to prepare it in a way that tastes good and that you can regularly eat. Try a cooked oat or multigrain porridge breakfast. You will still need vegetables and fruit, but learning how to prepare meals from legumes and grains is an important skill.

You could join a CSA, where you pay a fee and then receive a basket of produce every week from a local farm.

You could get a plot in a community garden. Then you could learn about how difficult it is to grow food in a traditional garden.

The most reliable, easy to grow and nutritious homegrown food that I have discovered is broccoli microgreens grown in potting soil in trays. There is some work involved, and it can be messy with soil spills, but you can consistently produce broccoli microgreens fairly easily every 9 or 10 days. One tray will produce about 300 grams of product with a refrigerated shelf life of about 5 days. You would need a shelf of about 2' x 4', a table to work on, storage space for soil and equipment and a floor that can be cleaned from water and soil spills. I eat broccoli microgreens as part of a green smoothie.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

thanks sky! i’m a very competent cook from scratch, i butcher and bake and feed crowds and improvise from waste and and have grown edible plants in rural settings/larger houses.

i’ve already started working in some of these solutions since i last posted (i’m impulsive/manic like that)

this however:
sky wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:09 pm
The most reliable, easy to grow and nutritious homegrown food that I have discovered is broccoli microgreens grown in potting soil in trays. There is some work involved, and it can be messy with soil spills, but you can consistently produce broccoli microgreens fairly easily every 9 or 10 days. One tray will produce about 300 grams of product with a refrigerated shelf life of about 5 days. You would need a shelf of about 2' x 4', a table to work on, storage space for soil and equipment and a floor that can be cleaned from water and soil spills. I eat broccoli microgreens as part of a green smoothie.
is totally new to me and appears to be solid gold. green gold. yeah. space station crops. perfect for studio apartment. i’ve looked at hydroponics before but got sidetracked.

i have an industrial shelf on wheels in my cabin that i could transport here to accommodate multiple trays. floor is cleanable.

could you please tell me more or point me to some info/equipment/etc for this? lights, etc. thinking of getting ready for next fall as seasonal crops die down.

apartment is kept at 65F In winter but often gets hotter from neighbors’ hatchery-like requirements without any expense on our part.

i’ll go do a search now.



eta: any e. coli danger, like with sprouts?



eta,a: i’m an arugula fiend and i see it’s doable....


eta,3: I’M SOLD. THANKS!

ertyu
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by ertyu »

... could one grow beans?? put the pots on the balcony floor and have them run up a wall. should look pretty and green.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

I learned about growing microgreens from this guy (among others):

https://youtu.be/87iXkD3mRzo

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:54 pm
... could one grow beans?? put the pots on the balcony floor and have them run up a wall. should look pretty and green.
Yeah I was just talking to the lady about our choice of spring plants. We’ve been very successful with tomatoes in the past and they’re a great bang for the buck. I’ve kept tomatoes going into the deep fall indoors.

Beans are not super-productive per square foot, but after what you said I’m thinking of letting some vines go bananas on the balcony. I could overfeed a single pot and let it rip up the edges of the place. Thanks for the idea!
sky wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 4:01 pm
I learned about growing microgreens from this guy (among others):

https://youtu.be/87iXkD3mRzo
this message board is my favorite message board

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

I grew a basil plant in an office once. I didn't know you were supposed to pinch off the leaves. It grew a meter high with just water.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

Gilberto de Piento wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 4:43 pm
I grew a basil plant in an office once. I didn't know you were supposed to pinch off the leaves. It grew a meter high with just water.
glorious, great smelling plant, and a pesto is a summer favorite.

basil, tomato: we got ourselves the makings of a meal.

i just need to raise some buffalo for the mozzarella :mrgreen:

Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Gilberto de Piento »

Pesto freezes well too. If you shape it with an ice cube tray you can then put the cubes in a zip lock and pull them out as you need them.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

oh, pesto i can never keep. i just inhale it all as quickly as i make it.

HalfCent
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by HalfCent »

LOL I, too, suffer from misanthropy

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

True Leaf Market is flooded with seed orders. Here is another source for microgreen seed: Todd's Seed Company.

And another how to video:

https://youtu.be/FsWOa0Dx7nk

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

SO:

Yesterday I had a studio apartment that looked like a too-big hotel room I had to fill up with furniture and rugs and a giant TV. I had a stand-up computer desk shoved in a corner, trying to disappear to make way for “the lounge”.

Today I have a sleeping/lounging section that‘s tightly compact like a European hotel room.

And the other half of the place is open for business/art/microagriculture/microindustry/whatever. I won’t fill it up just yet, but it’s available, like one of those empty storefronts waiting for a tenant.

Thanks to everyone for the inspiration.

@sky: I’ll start ooching into the microgreens with a couple of trays, and see how it goes from there, so I won’t need a bazillion seeds just yet, but I’ll keep watching the videos. looking forward also to hearing news & updates of your growing operation.

@halfcent: fortunately it’s neither absolute nor incurable, hahaha. or so i’d like to think...

ertyu
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by ertyu »

I'd love pictures when you set it up @Alphaville

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

ertyu wrote:
Fri Mar 20, 2020 1:10 pm
I'd love pictures when you set it up @Alphaville
ok. should take a long time though. hopefully, if i’m doing it right.

Alphaville
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by Alphaville »

“A garden in my apartment”

https://www.ted.com/talks/britta_riley_ ... transcript

open source hydroponics project

eta
http://www.windowfarms.nl/nieuws/whatev ... tta-riley/

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windowfarm

the business failed. nevertheless, open source is open source. no?

white belt
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by white belt »

I'm interested in the same topic because I will also be living in apartments for the foreseeable future. So far I plan on increasing my food storage to have 1-2 month supply of food (as recommended here).

sky wrote:
Thu Mar 19, 2020 3:09 pm
The most reliable, easy to grow and nutritious homegrown food that I have discovered is broccoli microgreens grown in potting soil in trays. There is some work involved, and it can be messy with soil spills, but you can consistently produce broccoli microgreens fairly easily every 9 or 10 days. One tray will produce about 300 grams of product with a refrigerated shelf life of about 5 days. You would need a shelf of about 2' x 4', a table to work on, storage space for soil and equipment and a floor that can be cleaned from water and soil spills. I eat broccoli microgreens as part of a green smoothie.
What's the total cost for making a 300 gram batch of broccoli greens? I've seen some of your other threads on the subject and I'm interested in microgreens for personal consumption. I eat a lot of fresh leafy green vegetables which require frequent trips to the supermarket because of the short shelf life.

sky
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Re: Apartment homesteading?

Post by sky »

I made this video some time ago and now grow and eat differently, but this should give you an idea.

https://youtu.be/ZCH6Efp7wAA

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