How to Become a Homesteader Pt 3 Harvest & Learn

How to Become a Homesteader Part 3 – Harvest & Learn

In what felt like the snap of my fingers I went from living a completely city-bound life to wanting to homestead and become self-sufficient. Being in the garden and making my own food filled me with such joy and helped me find my purpose in life. This change was all thanks to the 2020 pandemic and I’m so grateful for it. It helped me see what truly mattered and made me prioritize things in my life to become a homesteader.

Once I decided that the homestead life was for me, I wasn’t sure how to get to where I envisioned myself being. It seemed like an impossible journey. Moving to the country – how would we make money and work when our jobs were in the major city? Growing and making my own food – how could I do that when I barely knew how to cook or grow anything? 

If this sounds like you, then you’re in the right place. 

This mini-series will provide a simple road-map for how I was able to go from a city-slicker to a homesteader in a few short years. 

Strawberries Close Up

Preface: My Story

It started small in a tiny suburban backyard with an 8×8 garden bed and from there we focused on eating real whole foods. When we cut out restaurants and pre-made/pre-processed foods and opted for more delicious homemade food it literally changed our lives. We started canning and freezing our garden abundance to utilize throughout the winter. Then we started baking our own bread and (proudly) haven’t bought a loaf from the store since 2020! But we wanted to do more. We loved our time in the garden, learning, growing, eating real food and becoming more self-reliant in a time when food was becoming scarce.

We made big career changes that were really hard and tough so we could buy a new home with some land to keep building our dreams. In 2021 we built nine 4×12 garden beds, a greenhouse and got our first livestock animal – chickens.

2024 marks our fifth year gardening, eating whole foods, and cooking from scratch. Also our third year with chickens and gardening with a greenhouse. We’re planning and prioritizing our most eaten foods from the garden to make the most of our investment. All while also learning new things along the way and still planning for our big forever homestead property with acres of fruit tree fields, vegetable crops, farm animals, and medicinal gardens. We’ve come a long way and I truly hope to help others reading this with what I discovered to get us here. 

What’s Next In Your Homesteading Journey?

Learn From Your Experience 

This is another real key point to gardening that many new and experienced gardeners don’t do. 

You’re going to get cabbage moths on your brassicas (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc). You’re going to experience diseases in your tomato plants. Learn from this and keep a gardening journal, write it down for next year to learn and grow from. 

blossom end rot on a tomato
Blossom end rot

My father-in-law’s gardening journal included: the daily weather, the amount of rain they received, what was growing well, what was harvested, etc. At the time we thought he was a bit crazy going that in depth, but boy, do I get it now. 

You’re going to think you’ll remember the important stuff, but I guarantee you – you won’t. As your gardening journey grows and you have more going on, you’ll need to keep better track if you want to have a successful garden.

Keep track – learn and grow!

Preserving Your Abundance 

This section deserves a whole book. There are plenty of people that have written about it or made an entire social media channel dedicated to this specific art. I’m not going to go that in-depth, but instead offer some beginner’s advice. 

Canning is the process of preserving food in shelf-stable cans. Common items include tomato sauce, pickles, pickled peppers, pickled jalapenos, and many, many more. 

Freezing is as simple as it sounds, it’s cleaning your produce and freezing it to use later. This can be almost anything you can think of: pesto frozen in muffin tins to make pucks, frozen chopped corn or carrots. The possibilities are endless. 

Basil Pesto in muffin tin to be frozen
Basil pesto in muffin tin to be frozen

The most important part of preserving your harvest, is to make sure it’s actually food you’re going to be using on a regular basis. 

We once froze a bag of kale, thinking we’d use it for smoothies and it just wasn’t something we did. From now on we’ll just be eating it fresh. It will take time and things will constantly change as things in your family life change. However, being flexible and being willing to make mistakes and grow along the way is vital to being a homesteader. 

Evaluate Where You Are

Now that you’re growing, eating and preserving your own foods, you have a better idea of where you’re headed. You’ll start to realize what you love to do, what you can eat and grow and how reasonable is it to obtain your homesteading/self-sufficiency dreams.

Some big questions to ask yourself at this stage are: ‘How are we managing?’, ‘Is this lifestyle working for us?’, ‘Is it more work than it’s worth?’. 

There is absolutely no shame in being honest and realizing that homesteading or gardening is a lot harder than once thought. It’s a lot of work to be self-sufficient, eat, grow, and preserve everything yourself. All while also trying to work full-time, have children, clean the house, etc. 

The best part is that life isn’t an all-or-nothing option. You can easily pick and choose whatever works best for you at any point in your life. 

For us, we love growing our homestead little by little each year. As we dive deeper into the self-sufficient lifestyle we’re taking on lots of new challenges. There has been a few things that we have said no to right now. That doesn’t mean we won’t start doing it at some point down the road. We are just aware of our capacity right now.

Up next, is Part 4 – Going Bigger. Subscribe to our email list so you don’t miss any of the next installments of this How to Become a Homesteader series!

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