Sustainable Living, Education, Aquaponics and Small Living


The pursuit of the sustainable life

 Leaving the lifestyle of keeping up with the Jones', we are looking to be a self-sufficient family.  We want to depend on less on big corporations who produce our food from who knows where.  We need to get through life eating healthy and fresh meals and hoping it didn't have to be modified or travel from the other side of the world.  Our first focus is to look to cover necessities.


Homesteading we have to look at "do we have the means to do mostly every day to day task from scratch?"  Let's just not take the convenient way of heading to the store and replace or fix what we have.  Where do we start?  Granny Miller has a starting list of 101 basic homesteading skills. It's a list.  It's a start.  We have some ways to go on this list, and we are starting with the most important which is food.  We had nearly no history in our families of experienced farming we begin this journey.  The challenge of growing our food not to rely so heavily on produce from grocery stores (yes it is expensive in the stores!) to the back yard is a big step for us.  Trying to figure out what, when and where we can grow is the challenge of any grower, especially in an urban backyard garden and as most of us know most of us in the burbs or city dwelling, our yards can be very challenging, especially with space.  Our SF home has a pretty decent garden but has some gardening challenging, one of the major being weather and the fog that comes in every evening.  This fog keeps the sun away for most of the day.  Neighbors' homes have been built out to block a lot of sunshine in our backyard which limited many growing options in the city for us.  Our place in Santa Clara has a better climate for gardening, but we had far less soil space to create decent size garden.  We ended up adapting to this environment by doing a lot of container gardening, using any pots and playing the chase the sun game with the pots.   Liz decided to begin gardening as a hobby and fell in love.  Nonstop gardening for a year, buying every magazine, book, and online reading kept her going.  What an incredible HIGH when your seed germinates, and you see the roots and first leaves opening!!!  Then Liz began growing vegetables and realized.  This gardening experience is fun, and now I want chickens!!!!! We research and investigate and found we can have up to 4 hens (no roosters).  We studied chickens, coops, chicken history, habits, etc.  Yay!!  A quick road trip to Hayward and we brought home some chickens and raised them in our family room.  A little chicken coop, heat, and food... some pretty happy little campers!  Now we have early chicks who have been in full production all summer giving us fantastic eggs (4 a day!). So we began our journey to where our food arrives at our table.  Once we found this way, we could not stop!!!  We have fallen back in love with nature.  We no longer want all of our food processed.  We like the idea we can have a closed ecosystem in just a small back yard.  Our imaginations only limit us.


Liz started to bake her organic bread, cookies and meals.  Then came micro greens as they pack lots of nutrients, and the chickens also love them.   With all the food we were producing she decided to start canning.  Liz being Korean they have a long history with fermentation and so it's in her DNA to preserve food.  Can't wait till Liz starts welding lessons.  What is it we can take advantage of and gain quick successes to keep the motivation going?  About a year ago research began to seek a better way to live.   We now have a firm plan on how we want to live better cleaner lives as well as contribute to the community in any way we can.  We feel the need for new types and styles of growing food health and safety with technology is very doable.   First came plants and some vegetables.  Overwatering. Soil issues.  Bugs.  Limiting growing space.  With the homesteading mindset and trying to achieve as much as can without being dependent we start out looking at simple designs.  Things we start to begin our action plan. Eggs, livestock, food on the table, tools, energy efficiency, heating and most importantly. Where are we to live and achieve this?  Here we go?  We put on our thinking caps.  Maybe this isn't quite a simple design?  I don't know that we will ever get to the point of a real homesteader, but we'll certainly try to learn and make the best of some of the opportunities. Dang!  Seem to be getting off course here as I was to start the topic on food.  We need it.  We go to the grocery store and find some things are generally out of season or have extreme cost as they have been shipped half way around the world.  How long does that take?  Does that country have similar governing practices that we have here in the states?  Are they a GMO farm?  Don't know.  Should we try to grow it ourselves? What I do know.  If I can grow it, then I know what goes into it.  If I pick it, I know how fresh it is.   Our first step is to figure out what we can grow.  Heading the local OSH, Home Depot or Lowe's we find seeds, soil, and tools.  Load the truck up and haul it home.  We look to mini potted plants and seeds.  Soils we chose for the type of crops, we plan to grow like tomatoes, basil, squash and herbs like rosemary.  We picked up a bunch of fertilizers to be specific blends to supply nutrients to the specific crops.  Wow!  Pretty pricey I must say.  Already has me thinking just to head back to the grocery store.  Wait! We are just learning, and this is the quick and easy way to Miracle Grow the yard.  Ok...  Not using that stuff any longer, but do admit starting out with it.  I began to mention that when picking your first things to grow, make it the simple vegetables.  Get some success from your efforts.  We start with herbs like rosemary, mint, basil and chives and a whole lot other lovely plants.  Making the soil ready! Finding that little space in the yard might be challenging as it might be weed infested, hard clay, covered up with old junk.  You have to clean out the old to start fresh.  Get that space ready by cleaning it up and making it friendly.  Guess that is why pots and raised garden beds seem to be a good start. We will discuss the benefits of container gardening and the raised bed experience and our eventual evolution to Aquaponics.