If you are like us and every penny has a purpose, then you may have also considered maximizing your square footage to work for you. We live in a 1,600sqft house on .24 acre. Not a ton of space to do much of anything right? Wrong! Lets break it down.
Our house is so dark, the natural light is practically nonexistent. So how could we ever even consider growing plant indoors? Well, there is one window on the southern facing side of the house that isn’t covered by the house awning. But this teeny tiny window has been maximized to grow early seeds, and year around herbs. We installed two shelves from scrap materials around the house and placed them at the base of the window and halfway up. This has allowed room for a determinate Roma, determinate bush bean and determinate sweet pepper plant on bottom, then a large variety of herbs on the top. I also chose to start spinach and lettuce seeds, because they can be moved out into the greenhouse here in a few weeks. If you have a greenhouse, cold frame, or even a wooden box you can place an old window onto of, you can grow cold tolerate veggies now too! Lettuce, spinach and most leafy greens are very tolerate of cold temperatures and thrive in those environments. As long as they can get sunlight and are safe from frost they will do well. Fresh FREE salads all year long. This winter had been pretty dark, so we got this awesome grow light for $30 on amazon!
We have been trying to look at everything that previously was waste, to see if it has a way to be repurposed and we found a TON of ideas. For starters we have 7 chickens and consume a lot of eggs each day, so we began keeping our eggshells. We would place them into a bowl to dry out, then we would crush them into tiny pieces, and place into a container to feed back to then chickens as a vitamin D supplement. This lead to stronger eggs and better production.
While we’re talking chickens, let’s talk cheap feed options. You can purchase a pound of lentil beans at the store for under a dollar. Take one cup, place it into a bowl, cover beans with water and let them soak for 8 hours. Rinse and place into a large mason jar. If you have cheesecloth great, but if your like me and don’t you can use the mesh most people place in drawers and cabinets! Cut to fit the opening of the jar and attach with a hair tie or rubber band. Morning and night for 5 days you will fill it with water, drain the majority, then place at a downward angle to continue draining. You don’t want the lentils to sit in the water our they will develop mold. After 5 days they are good to feed to your girls, or yourself! You can refrigerate for 3 days if necessary. This much is enough feed for 8 chickens for 2 days.
In our house we drink A LOT of coffee, so this was another obvious one to find a way to repurpose the waste. Come to find out once coffee grounds have been brewed they are nearly neutral and make for perfect compost. We mix them into the soil now since the garden hasn’t been planted outside yet, but once spring arrives we have a compost bin that we will add them to. They make a great ‘green’ medium to help breakdown compost, especially dog poo which with 3 dogs is in abundance at our house. This is also great to occasionally add on the top of the soil around plants to help deter bugs and pests. The filters are biodegradable and can be added to the compost too. And to make it a triple repurpose, use the coffee containers to plant in, or to collect grounds.
Since I mentioned composting, here is our spring setup. We found somewhere local with 50gal. drums for $5, drilled a hole large enough to fit the 2″ metal rod through, and also drilled holes into the 4×4’s for the rod. Cemented the 4×4’s, attached everything and added hinged and a latch for the doors. The top drum is used for scraps we can’t feed to the chickens like meat, cardboard boxes, etc. The bottom drum is used for dog poo, yard clippings and coffee grounds. The dog poo takes a long time to be fully composted in order to use in the garden. We also plan to add earthworms into each to help with the composting process.
If your like us you LOVE garlic! We literally put it in everything, but its a hassle to peel, a hassle to press or chop, and sometimes burns when you sauté. So, we get 30 bulbs at a time, pull the cloves apart, place them into a bowl with a lid and shake! Shake hard. It will blow your mind. The majority of the excess skin will come right off, but there will still be a small amount of peeling. We love to involve the girls and do this as a family to get it done fast. When we are done peeling we do two things, place the peeled cloves and lots of olive oil into a pot to simmer; I mean low, low setting for 1.5 hours; and place the skins into a separate pot. Yes, the skin have a purpose! Cover the skins with water and bring to a boil, let boil for 5 minutes, then let simmer with a lid. The skins can simmer for the remainder of the time the cloves simmer. You will need to strain out the remaining skins from the garlic broth before canning. We feed this to the chickens, but you could also add to your compost bin. When you are done you can place each into separate mason jars, the acidity of the garlic makes it so you don’t need to add anything else before adding lids and the temperature makes is so that they will seal and pop the lids on their own. Here is the best part, the olive oil and cloves can be kept on top of the stove and used as needed for meals. The garlic will smush with a fork like butter and mix flawlessly into your dish with zero waste, like when using a garlic press. The olive oil is now garlic olive oil and adds incredible flavor! Again you have absolutely no waste! You can also do this with onions and their skins as well!
Finally wax and lint! WHAT?!?!? Yes girl, it had a way to repurpose. For most people primitive skills are not of relevance, I mean if you have a lighter why would you ever need another way to make fire? For us, having the skills to survive outside out a grocery store is super important. We take all spent toilet paper rolls and paper towel rolls, stuff them with the lint from the dryer screen, and drizzle the spent wax from our warmers into the center. This is the perfect source for a quick lit fire, that also has means to remain lit for a period of time beyond the cardboard. You could also use this as a quick way to lite your grill without the use of lighter fluid.
These are just a few of the ways we repurpose everyday waste products, and live life on our urban homestead. I would love to hear what you and your family does to repurpose your waste! Happy homesteading.❤️