Blog Update!
For those of you not following me on Facebook, as of the Summer of 2019 I've moved to Central WA, to a tiny mountain town of less than 1,000 people.

I will be covering my exploits here in the Cascades, as I try to further reduce my impact on the environment. With the same attitude, just at a higher altitude!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Top 11 Urban Homesteading Tools

Mother Earth News has an old article up in their newsletter about their Top 20 Homesteading Tools. I read through it, thinking that the vast majority of the suggestions just didn't apply to those of us who are urban homesteaders.

So, I thought I'd come up with a list of my own. Here are my Top 11 Urban Homesteading Tools:

1. Garden Cart: I worked for years without one, dragging, hoisting and generally straining my back hauling yard waste and bags of compost back and forth. This year I finally got a wheeled garden cart and I wish I had gotten it years earlier.

2. Heavy Duty Hoe: I reviewed the grub hoe I got last year and, even though it's tiring work, it slices through sod like butter, making quick work of basic backyard digging duties.

3. Shovel and Rake: This is just plain obvious stuff here. I have a flat ended shovel I use for, mostly, moving dirt around. The rake I use fairly infrequently, so I consider it optional.

4. Cordless Drill: I actually hate cordless tools, mostly because they seem to poop out at the least opportune time. But, they are invaluable when building new raised beds and doing any kind of minor construction work around the urban farm. I'm not handy enough to build my own coop or anything so you won't be seeing too much in the way of circular saws or anything in this list, but this is about as fancy as I get.

5. Hand Shovel and Garden Shears: Since most of my "crops" are grown in raised beds, I don't need a ton of different tools. Mostly a hand shovel and my garden shears for trimming plants. If I need anything heavy duty, I'll grab my big shears for trimming fruit tree branches.

6. Water and Pressure Canner: I, honestly, have to admit that I never use my pressure canner. I'm too lazy. But the water canner gets a ton of use.

7. Chest Freezer: Because I'm too busy to spend weekends standing over a canner, we tend to freeze a lot of the produce we buy in season. Then, when I have time, I can do whatever canning or cooking I want. It also allows us to buy in bulk when we ordinarily wouldn't do so.

8. Good Knives: Processing a lot of food, especially fruits and vegetables, is a pain in the ass under normal circumstances. Doing so with crappy knives makes it even worse. Even if you can only afford one decent all-purpose knife, it's worth it. My husband got a Shun knife last year for his birthday and it's pretty much the only one I use.

9. Compost Bin: I got this great spinning composting bin thing this year and love it. It turns my chicken poop and chicken bedding into gold!

10. Reference Books: These are the best tools of all. Books like The Backyard Homestead, The Self-Sufficient Life, Fresh Food from Small Spaces and, of course, The Urban Homestead, are great resources as well as sources of inspiration.

11. Rain Barrel: Although we don't depend on this most of the year, given the amount of rain we get in Seattle, having a rain barrel to help water your food plants can be incredibly helpful in reducing your water expenses. Just make sure you aren't using runoff from composite roofs on your food plants.

What are your favorite homesteading tools?


Bethany said...

That's so funny, I got asked questions similar to this so much that I made a website for it :) Lol. Anyway, my favorite urban homesteading tools are the ones in my kitchen, mainly my Foodsaver, All American 30qt canner (yesss.... be jealous) and when this apple crop in my backyard is ready I'm really gonna love my kitchenaid food processor attachment thingy. Otherwise I'd have to vote for my backyard chickens, cuz they feed me :)

simply living said...

The rain barrel would come in handy this year since we had a record 'lack' of rain, surprising also since we had more cloudy days then usual. Let's hope for a better summer next year!

Kate said...

I agree with all your items. There are two that I would add to yours right of the top of my head. (1) A spading fork (aka potato fork) is a type of pitchfork, not too long and invaluable for moving mulch or digging in the ground. The short length works well with women's bodies and strengths. I use it ALL the time. In fact, I got a second one because they're just that useful. Also (2) I would add work gloves - a wide variety for different jobs and different seasons. Love my fleece lined leather work gloves when it's time to water the chickens in January.

Greenpa said...

ok, I gotta tell ya, I usually read MTE as entertainment, rather than for useful information-

so, I was particularly gratified to find this, in their love sonnet to post hole diggers:

"To dig a pesthole, you close the handles and use them to sink the closed jaws into the ground. "

lol! I'm having SO much fun envisioning the newlywed urbanite couple, digging pestholes.

Greenpa said...

More seriously- the garden cart discussion-

just last night I was disagreeing with my PhD engineer son about exactly which/what. We're currently using a 6 cuft contractors wheelbarrow; and I've gotten used to my 10 cuft- 2 wheeled- wheelbarrow, and want it back.

He doesn't like my 2 wheeler; says his 1 wheeler is more nimble- I said, if you need nimble, just lift one handle and run it on one wheel... I don't have my 2 wheeler at the moment because the tornado picked it up and tossed it, and broke the handle.

Garden carts, likewise. It will come to a matter of taste, eventually; and individual skill; there ARE skills to learn with any of these; if you don't take the time to learn the skills, you'll wind up still doing most of the work. Learn the tiny tricks- and the cart or barrow will do the work for you.