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Space is a precious commodity, no matter where you live. And if you’re a homesteader, space takes on an entirely new meaning. When most people think of it, they picture wide skies, pastures, and fields of crops. But every homesteader knows you don’t need acreage (or even a house for that matter!) to be successful at it. Your space might dictate the type of homesteading you can pursue, but these tips will help you become as self-sufficient as possible.

Know your goals

While it’s perfectly fine to dive in and grow crops or raise animals, this isn’t the most efficient way to start. Before you so much as install a chicken coop, get a plan. It’s easier to save space if you master-plan your homestead, using every inch of your home and yard, accounting for long-term growth.

Think about what your goal is and how it fits into your space. For example: growing and raising your own food is a great way to have control over your health and wellness, saving you lots of money to boot. But you’ll need space to store it all after a harvest. Turn a closet into the pantry, buy a good chest freezer, and insulate the space under the front porch or staircase for cold storage. Now you’re ready to dive in and get your hands dirty!

Vertical gardening

Too often we look at our homestead in terms of acres. While horizontal size is important, we have to remember that vertical design is an option too. A vertical homestead design helps you do a lot more on your land with way less acreage.

For gardening, consider growing on trellises. Hanging pots can also hold a wide variety of foods like herbs, strawberries, lettuce and peas. Raised bed planters are also successful when you use techniques like 3 sisters planting – growing corn, beans or peas, and squash together to use every inch of the soil. If you’re really cramped for space, consider growing high-density crops like mushrooms. They have a high yield and need very little space to grow.

Permaculture

When you’re short on space, everything has to have multiple functions. Embrace permaculture for multi-functional homestead structures. For example, install a greenhouse that doubles as a chicken coop during the winter. Chamomile, coriander, dill, fennel, basil or lemongrass will grow right under an apple tree, warding off bad bugs while the tree provides shade for the hottest side of your house. Sometimes a good plan just needs a little creative thinking!

When Your Space Is Really Small

If you live in an apartment in the city or have a home on small lot, never fear! You can still do plenty homesteading with limited space. Here are my favorite homesteading tips for the spatially-challenged.

1. Hang dry clothes
Stop relying on your dryer to dry your clothes. Opt to hang-dry your clothes instead. Your clothes will last longer and, during summer months, it can even cut your A/C bill. Set up a clothesline in your yard. Build it vertically so you can plant below the line. Water will drip and give a little extra moisture to your plants. If you live in an apartment, consider using an indoor drying rack.

2. Window or balcony gardens
While raised gardens are a great way to grow fruits and veggies, you might not have enough yard for it. If you’re in a pinch for space, create a window or balcony garden.

Maximize space on window sills and balcony rails with special planters. Shield your home from the sun with vertical planters on a balcony or patio.

3. Yard share
Homesteading is a beautiful tradition built on cooperation. See if you can use land owned by friends, family, or even in your community garden. Many people would be happy to put their land to use, as long as they get a cut of your harvest!

4. Dual purpose animals
Sheep and pigs are fun homesteading animals, but they require a little more room. Make the most of a small backyard with small, dual purpose animals. Yes, chickens are a popular choice and provide both meat and eggs, but rabbits are a great choice too for their meat and pelts. You can even raise quail in a garage using a vertical hutch.

Don’t get stuck on the idea that you need 200 acres to be a homesteader. Make the most of the space you have with these clever tips. And we welcome you to add your own in the comments!

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Should You Be Using A Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

If you’re tuned into the natural hair movement at all, you’ve heard a lot of talk about sulfates over the years, mostly about how terrible they are. According to many curly hair gurus, hair products that contain sulfates can strip all of the moisture from delicate curly hair, resulting in dryness, frizz and damage. But lots of shampoos contain sulfates. Are they really all that harmful?

The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are both pros and cons to sulfates, and understanding how they work will help you figure out the right shampoo for you.

What Are Sulfates, Anyway?

Sulfates are detergents. They’re the ingredient that makes your shampoo lather into that satisfyingly sudsy consistency. They’re in all kinds of products, not only shampoo but also soap, dish detergent, toothpaste and tons of other foam-y products. The most common sulfates are sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate and ammonium laureth sulfate.

Sulfates are certainly harsher than natural cleansers — they really get in there and clean. All that lather results in a squeaky-clean feeling. By the same token, they strip the skin and hair of much of its moisture and oil.

Who Should Use Sulfate-Free Shampoo?

The problem with sulfates is that they can be too stripping. Your hair needs some amount of oil and moisture to feel and look healthy. This is especially important if you have hair that is dry, fragile, kinky, curly or coarse. By using sulfates on your hair regularly, you set yourself up for a game of perpetual catch-up, trying to restore the moisture from your hair that your shampoo keeps taking away.

Sulfate-free shampoo is also useful for people with delicate skin, since the ingredient can cause redness or irritation.

Lastly, if you have dyed hair, consider switching to a sulfate-free shampoo. Sulfates strip the dye from your hair prematurely.

Sulfate-free shampoo isn’t for everyone, though. If your scalp tends to be quite greasy or oily and needs to be washed often, sulfates could work wonderfully for you. Also, if you have dandruff or another scalp condition, you’ll definitely want to stick with a shampoo with sulfates and other active ingredients to cut down on the flakes.

Alternatives to Sulfates

Some people enjoy using products with sulfates simply because it’s satisfying — you get a rich lather, and it feels like it’s easy to get clean. Other products may require more scritching and scratching. However, sulfates are just one of several “surfactants” that lather up. Others, like cocobetaines (derived from coconut oil) have a similar effect and are not quite as harsh.


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