You CAN Homestead in Suburbia! And I am Proof!

in #homesteading2 years ago

My wife and I currently reside in the suburbs of north San Antonio, though our hearts are most definitely out in the middle of nowhere (somewhere :) ). After eight years living here, we put our home up for sale last week with the plan of moving to some land far away from the city (but still close enough to visit frequently), where we can see every single star in the night sky and not have to ever hear the sound of a car driving down the road.

Now, just because we weren't living on the homestead we hope to have one day, don't think for a minute that we didn't homestead anyway! Let me give you a brief tour of some of the things we've done and are doing.

For the first five years, we kept three to five hens in our backyard. theladies.jpg
(against Homeowners Associate rules, of course! That's just how we roll ;) )

Since water is such a precious resource, especially here, I re-routed our AC unit to the overflow on the back porch and harvested the condensation from our A/C unit into a 275 gallon container (took about 6 weeks to fill during the summer) waterstorage1.jpg.

As far as gardening goes, we have been non-stop experimenters. We built a keyhole garden, because we learned that keyhole gardens are really great at water conservation and are well suited for hot areas like ours. keyhole.jpg

We built a small hoop greenhouse one year in order to experiment with growing veggies during the south Texas winter. greenhouse1.jpg
When we had the greenhouse up, we also began experimenting with solar power in order to learn all about that and the associated electronics. I have a degree in electronic engineering, so I already had a leg up on it, but without having ever actually DONE it, it was all just theory. We used solar to keep two batteries charged which in turn powered a fan to keep the air moving through the greenhouse during the hotter summer months. Reading about it and doing it are really night and day...I learned a LOT of useful info with that one!

I attempted what is called "air rooting" on a branch of my pear tree that I knew I would be pruning anyway, in order to start a whole new tree:
air rooting.jpg
air rooting2.jpg
air rooting3.jpg
We also did a LOT of container/bucket gardening, tried straw bale gardening, planted lots of landscape plants that are edible, invested the time and money to learn about real permaculture subjects like burms and swales, and BUILT burms and swales to capture and focus rain water. stone burm and swale.png loquat swale.png

We of course started experimenting with composting...
compost bin.png

We planted two baby Concord grape vines and built a walk through arbor for them (which they have taken to quite nicely over the past six years!):

I am a seed FANATIC, and am always planting seeds from wherever I can get them! As a result, we have a pretty good collection right now of baby trees that we plan on nurturing until we can plant them on our own permanent homestead
backyard plants.png

We have baby apples:
baby plants.png

We have grapefruit and oranges:
baby grapefruit.png

Texas Persimmon (grown from seeds I harvested from old coon poop! :D ):
texas persimmon.png

A young mulberry tree:

And not pictured are some lemon trees, Sea Buckthorn, JuJube, Pecan, and probably a few more I'm forgetting about. :)

The mother of all suburban experiments was the time I wanted to try aquaponics indoors. I asked my amazing wife for a huge favor: let me hijack our master bathroom garden tub for two months so I could do an experiment. She's so awesome and with only minor hesitation (and a few stipulations), said yes! So I took the cast net and went to a local lake one weekend, bringing home around six wild blue gill. I put them into the tub along with an air stone and a submersible pump, created a grow bed from a six foot length of large PVC pipe, and suspended a grow light above that. aquaponics1.jpg aquaponics2.jpg

Bearing honorable mention here are also my several years now of experimenting with homemade wine (which I will always lovingly refer to as "hooch"):


and kombucha:

I know for sure that there are probably fifty OTHER things we've done along these same lines...oh yeah, making colloidal silver and homemade essential oils...I could go on and on! But the point of this post for you is this: let yourself be inspired by others to go out and learn about and try new things, no matter where you live! Acquire those skills, translate that "book learnin'" you're getting from the internet and Youtube and what not into some practical real world experience you can tuck away into your life bag!

You can do permaculture and homesteading no matter WHAT size space you live in...all it takes is creativity, but more so, inspiration. If it wasn't for Youtube and Dtube and Steemit and Facebook and a host of other sites where smart, creative people congregate and share their ideas and stories, I wouldn't have had half the inspiration that I have. I've learned so much by doing what really amounts to "micro experiments" that now when we finally DO move to a larger space (currently have our eye on 32 acres), we will at least have a clue as to what we're doing.

I know that at least some of the things I shared above sparked something in you...piqued your curiosity. Follow that spark! Fan it, get yourself onto a search somewhere and find out what other people are doing! One excellent example to follow is my good friend (and great inspiration) @DaddyKirbs. You should definitely follow him, and see who it is that HE'S following, too. Oh, and follow me as well. :D

Thank you so much for your time, I know you could've spent it doing something else! Your comments and suggestions and ideas are greatly appreciated.

BiohackerPro (aka, Doug)


Excellent projects! I like seeing urban homesteaders, knowing that it's possible to gain a 'homesteading' mindset, even while living in the midst of the grid. That much further ahead when we're "off" the grid. @ironshield

That's awesome! Good on you for not letting your location limit you. Learning all those skills before you move out to a larger property is going to be very valuable.

Thanks for the encouragement, my friend. Once we get out there, I'll have a whole NEW set of skills to master! Like, what does it actually take to raise a cow? I watched my grandparents do it, rode alongside them and everything...but when I stop and think, "okay, what do I need to do to prepare for a cow...what can I expect by taking this on"...I'm actually fairly clueless! :)

If you were around it as a kid I it should be fairly easy for you. It's surprising the construction skills I learned from my dad that I didn't know I had until I started building the tiny house.

Hey there,

Both myself and my human master, @markangeltrueman, enjoyed this read. Its really interesting to see what you can do even with a limited amount of space in a suburban environment. I also went down the rabbithole on google learning what all of this stuff is. Congrats on the @curie upvote. I have re-steemed this on the @steemsearch blog

The Curator


This post was upvoted by curie and it's trail as a result of a submission to the guild by @markangeltrueman. Curie is a curation guild which finds and upvotes high-quality posts by new and undiscovered members of the Steem community. View the blog at @curie and visit the website at

Welcome to steemit! If you are ever looking for a group, actually a community, of homesteaders/gardeners/self-sufficient like-minded people, I am the moderator of a group here... also the "un"official ambassador to the group.

let me know and I can post an invite link here for you!

Congratulations @biohackerpro!
Your post was mentioned in the Steemit Hit Parade for newcomers in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 8 with $ 58,6

I also upvoted your post to increase its reward
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Awesome! Thank you Doug for the inspiration. We are starting to look for land yourselves. We have a lot to learn. Thanks for more ideas. ....following you and looking forward to more.


Hey Brandon, thanks for the comment! What part of the country are you looking to settle in? We're in south Texas, looking at the area between San Antonio and Houston at the moment.

We are looking in Alaska. Good luck with the search!

Kudos to you for taking on homesteading in an urban setting! You will be so far ahead when you finally get to your homestead. When it comes to animals on the homestead just jump in. The water is fine and you will soon learn which animals are best suited for you. Not everyone wants to raise a buffalo!

Burms and swales, I’ve never heard of those?
You have done a lot for living in the suburbs. How did you manage to get away with breaking HOA rules?
I would love to try making my own wine sometime and I find colloidal silver very intriguing but I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try it. Did you find that it’s very helpful?

@biohackerpro, love this post. You truly have the pioneering spirit. Thanks for sharing.

Wow! What a great post! Seriously... We need more Doug!

You're too kind, @daddykirbs :) But I will do my best to continue to share any aspect of my life that I think might even remotely be useful to someone else!