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45 Homestead Hacks For The Garden, Kitchen & Home

Life is always throwing challenges and changes at us. It happens no matter where we live in the world. For better or worse, we must learn to cope with whatever comes our way.

While there is both an art and a science to running a homestead, it is often the productivity tips – the homestead hacks – that make a huge difference in just how much you can enjoy the entire experience.

Then the real magic happens when we begin to rethink “changes” (which are often perceived as bad) and turn them into “opportunities” (which, more often than not, are good).

Opportunities for learning, growth, appreciation and awareness.

As you read through this list of homestead hacks, take a peek into your own life to see where you can apply them. Either to:

  • save money
  • to save time
  • save hard work (and your back!)
  • or to simply enjoy more free-time on the homestead

Let’s get down to the business of being efficient!

Homestead garden hacks

The secret has long been out: gardening is not easy work by any means.

You need to fuss over soil conditions, too much or too little rainfall, irrigation methods, drought, seeds, pests and diseases, overflowing bumper crops to nothing to harvest at all.

One thing is for certain, gardening is never certain.

Yet, it can be such an amazing experience to grow your own food and herbs! Otherwise it would fall out of fashion, which is certainly not happening any time soon.

In fact, many people are turning back to the ways of old, every way and where they can. To ensure they always have food to put on the table. So that they can afford to eat organic, wholesome nutritious food. To know that their food is locally grown, without excess plastic packaging.

So many reasons to garden and so little time! Well, in reality most of us can find the time, it matters more where we waste it.

Instead of spending so much time online, rediscover a love for gardening, get out there and do it.

These homestead garden hacks will help you become the most efficient gardener you can be.

1. Grow more food in less space by growing vertically

Saving space is an amazing homestead hack. Heck, it is a terrific hack for everyday life. Who couldn’t use more free space in their home? Or in their garden?

Growing your garden crops vertically has several advantages.

It makes taking care of them easier: watering, pruning and fertilizing.

Growing vertically can increase yields of certain crops. It makes harvesting uncomplicated, allowing you to harvest dirt-free fruits and vegetables. Naturally, it can also make a short-term natural privacy screen. And it couldn’t be easier than putting together a frame, or using stakes go grow ever higher.

10 Fruits And Veggies To Grow Vertically For Epic Yields In Tiny Spaces

How To Trellis And Grow Squash Vertically For Higher Yields In Less Space

How To Grow A Vertical Pallet Garden

2. Grow easy-to-harvest potatoes in tiny spaces

Everyone loves a tasty French fry, or rather a plateful of them, with a side of homemade ketchup. And while potatoes may be one of the cheapest vegetables to buy at the store or a market, the best ones can be grown in your backyard.

If you’ve never sampled home-grown potatoes, you are in for a real treat. Especially those baby new potatoes, the ultimate yum when drenched in butter.

You don’t need a lot of land to grow potatoes. On the contrary, you can use a similar method to the one listed above and grow them in burlap sacks or wire cages. And harvesting couldn’t be easier.

To find out more, dig into the following article:

21 Genius Ideas For Growing Sacks Of Potatoes In Tiny Spaces

Easily Grow Potatoes In a 5-Gallon Bucket

3. Planting perennials to harvest for decades

Want to know one of the easiest and most reliable ways to grow food?

Plant perennials.

Not only do perennial plants produce for multiple years (you only need to plant them once!), they are far more resilient to changing temperatures than annuals are.

When you plant a diverse amount of perennials in your backyard, you are guaranteed to get a crop every year. Incorporate those into a food forest – or forest garden – and you will begin to benefit wildlife as well.

Perennials are low-maintenance, they build up (rather than break down) the soil and they can help extend your garden harvest beyond tomatoes, cucumber and peppers.

Add some perennials to your garden, and see just how much easier they are to take care of than the often fussy market crops.

10+ Edible Perennials To Plant In Fall

4. Vegetables to grow in shade

Gardening hack number 4: growing (and harvesting) crops in shade.

Not every garden has access to full sun. And that is a good thing, because not all plants need full-on sunlight.

If your goal is to grow beets, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks, peas or potatoes, know that they all thrive in partial shade.

Save yourself some unnecessary frustration by knowing what grows where in the garden.

26 Vegetables To Grow In The Shade

5. Propagate herbs by root division

Once you start planting perennials, you will have amazing growth underneath the soil. Though you cannot see it, until you dig it up, it is always there, silently making progress.

Perennials take little care, although every 2-3 years most herbs will benefit from being divided. If you skip this important step, the plants will get overcrowded and leggy, eventually composting themselves.

Know when to dig them up, and you can even make a profit from selling your herbs and other plants.

How To Propagate Mint (& Other Herbs) By Root Division

6. Make your own compost

Getting to know the ins-and-outs of making your own compost can be tricky. Yet, compost is a necessity if you want to garden as locally as possible – adding your own nutrients back to the soil.

Here, at Rural Sprout, we’ve got you covered with plenty of advice on how to get started, as well as troubleshooting your compost problems.

7. Make a hotbed to grow food all winter long

What could be better than harvesting from your garden all summer long?

How about harvesting some fresh greens throughout the winter too?!

If too many potatoes sitting in the cellar are starting to lose their appeal, and their crispness, it may be time to think about how to grow a few cold-hardy crops in a hotbed.

5 Ways to Grow Vegetables Over the Winter & Year-Round

8. How to extend your growing season

If you live in climate with a short growing season, you will always be seeking ways to extend your harvest.

You can accomplish this with the use of row covers, greenhouse space, cloches, mulch and more. Don’t wait till the last minute though, many of these things take time to prepare. Best to get started now.

10 Low-Cost Ideas to Extend Your Growing Season

9. Learn how to prune your own fruit trees

Is a homestead truly a homestead without a fruit tree?

My grandparents had a grand pear right by the back door. Towards the end of summer as the honey-sweet pears started to drop, one had to be careful of the wasps, but there was always plenty to share.

If you would like to make an apple pie with your own apples, or peach cobbler with your own peaches, you not only have to plant the tree years before you make the dish. You also need to keep the fruit trees well maintained too. Pruning them is essential for achieving bountiful harvests.

How To Prune Apple and Pear Trees In Winter For Higher Yields

How To Prune A Plum Tree For Better Harvests

10. And propagate them too

“Hacks” usually show you how to save money.

Have you seen the prices of trees in the nursery?! I know, I have worked at several of them, starting them from tissue culture, seeds, and cuttings.

It takes some practice to learn how to successfully graft some plants, but anyone can do it. With a little effort, you can propagate your own plants too. For yourself, for friends, for sale. Whatever the case may be for you.

40 Plants To Propagate From Hardwood Cuttings & How To Do It

11. Protect tomato plants from cold and frost

Tomatoes are probably that single fruit that every gardener hopes to grow. Not just one or two, more like one or two buckets of them.

Set them out too early in the season and the cold will get to them. Leave them too long and the frost will find them there too. Knowing how to protect them can save your harvest!

13 Ways To Protect Tomato Plants From Cold & Frost

12. Grow microgreens and sprouts all year long

We’ve talked extensively about outdoor plants. But what about growing indoors?

One of the easiest ways to grow nutritious food throughout the year, is to grow it on your countertop – in nothing but water.

Take a jar, add some seeds and water. Rinse. Repeat. Rinse the seeds several times and you will end up with a healthy bunch of sprouts.

If you are seeking winter gardening hacks, try germinating microgreens.

How To Grow These 7 Easy Microgreens Indoors At Any Time Of Year

13. How to harvest and store onions

Do your onions ever get moldy before you have a chance to eat them?

When you only eat one or two at a time, it is likely to happen.

What if someone told you that they could last up to a year, if stored right? Would you believe them?

Here are some onion hacks that can certainly help. No tears required.

How To Harvest, Cure & Store Onions So They Last Up To A Year

14. Tips for a low-maintenance garden

Life is busy. Sometimes it is impossibly hard to fit everything you would like to do into one day.

Add some kids to the mix, and an animal or three, dishes, laundry and a garden to feed you all – and life gets beautifully complicated.

Gardening is a timeless activity that takes as much time as you are willing to put in. Make every moment count.

20 Tips For A Beautiful & Productive Low Maintenance Garden (My favorite is number 5. Be relaxed about weeds)

15. Easy ways to improve your garden soil

In order to produce healthy fruits and vegetables, you have to know that it all starts with the soil. Think about the best wines. Good soil, right?!

And your garden soil? How is it doing? Have you talked to it lately, or held it in your hand, or taken it for a soil test?

There is a lot you can do to help. Many options are free of charge.

15 Practical Ways To Improve Your Garden Soil

16. Grow veg for free

The only thing better than random free food, is nutritious and healthy food grown by you.

Whether or not you have access to land, or an abundance of pots to plant in, there are a multitude of ways to grow food.

Gather your tools and seeds, then work with the energies of the earth (sun, wind and rain) to grow the nutrients your body needs to survive.

Here is another epic post, all about hacking the food you grow:

Grow Veg For Free: 50+ Zero Cost Hacks To Grow Your Own Food

17. Stop digging your garden!

One of the easiest ways to not hurt your back is to put down that spade and stop lifting unnecessary heavy weight.

Do you even know how easy it is to garden when you stop digging up the soil?!

I’m not here to convince you. We’ve already experienced the successes of having a no-dig garden for many years running.

Here is how you can get started with no-dig gardening, the easiest way there is to grow:

6 Reasons To Stop Digging Your Garden + How To Get Started

Homestead kitchen hacks

Once you have your garden routine sorted, you can put more of your focus in the kitchen. Or, rather focus on them simultaneously and do two things at once. Give the garden and the kitchen both plenty of time and attention for the best possible outcome.

Below are several ways to tackle your ever growing homestead kitchen tasks.

18. How to deal with an abundant potato harvest

Once you have mastered the art of growing potatoes, can you keep them “as good as new” till the end of winter?

Naturally that depends on how fast you fry them up, and how quick you’ve simply had enough.

If you don’t have a cellar for storing potatoes “properly”, try your freezer instead.

How to Freeze Potatoes Any Which Way You Slice Them

19. Tips and tricks for preserving tomatoes

When tomatoes are gloriously abundant, it can be difficult to decide how best to use them up. More importantly, how efficiently can they be packed away into jars, dehydrated or frozen?

For some of them, you’ll also need to know how to peel a tomato.

26 Ways To Preserve A Bounty Of Tomatoes

20. Freezing root vegetables

Again, without a cellar, what is a gardener to do? You guessed it right. Freezing is the way to go for those vegetables that are harder to can.

It always happens to be easier too. So long as you still have sufficient space in the deep freezer.

How to Freeze Root Vegetables

21. Staying healthy with fermented foods

Keeping your immune system up and running is a continuous task.

Take it easy by learning how to nurture healthy probiotics, rather than spending time at the doctor’s office.

Try this for starters:

How To Make Honey-Fermented Ginger + My Easy Ginger Peeling Hack

How To Make Honey-Fermented Garlic

Then learn a few more fermentation health hacks to keep everyone in the family happy.

3 Ways To Make Probiotic-Rich Fermented Carrots

Fermented Cranberry Sauce – Easy To Make & Good For Your Gut

The Best Ever Wild Fermented Salsa Recipe Without Whey

22. Freezing basil – too much of a good thing

Can one ever have too much basil? Seems pretty hard to me. Unless your basil is too thin (and in need of pruning!) to produce enough.

4 Ways To Freeze Basil – Including My Super Easy Basil Freezing Hack

23. Making butter

Do you even know how easy it is to make butter? Are you ready to try it?

You can even toss the cream in your stand mixer, while you stand back and watch it work. No churning required.

How To Make Butter & Buttermilk From Cream In 20 Minutes

24. Solving the problem of too many eggs

If you have homestead chickens, or perhaps you have a close friend with more than her fair share of backyard birds, then at some point you will inevitably have too many eggs.

Preserve as many as possible or cook with them every day.

Here are some kitchen hacks to set you on your way:

7 Ways To Preserve Fresh Eggs & 13 Ideas For Using Extra Eggs

25. Eggshells are not something to throw away

You should be eating them instead!!

Or, at the very least, composting them, or using the spent eggshells as tiny plant pots for your garden seedlings.

Here is the number one hack to keep eggshells out of the bin:

15 Brilliant Uses For Eggshells In The Home & Garden + How To Eat Them

26. Bread without yeast?

Surely you have eaten bread made without yeast, but do you have what it takes to make the same delicious rolls and loaves yourself?

It couldn’t be easier than omitting yeast and replacing it with the correct amount of baking soda and baking powder. Problem solved.

No Yeast? No Problem! 5 Delicious No-Yeast Bread Recipes

27. Saving a glut of zucchini

Come midsummer zucchini harvest, you could probably use all the zucchini hacks you can get.

Stuff zucchini rolls with other fresh garden produce, bake them for a crispy zucchini crunch – and prepare the excess for winter in a variety of ways.

14 Ways To Preserve A Glut Of Zucchini: Freeze, Dry or Can

28. How to can peaches without sugar

Once you learn to can without sugar, you may never go back to your old tried, tested and true recipes.

Because you will find that life without sugar is sweeter by far indeed. In as much as the true flavors of the fruits can shine through, and your body will be so much healthier for it. Here are some helpful sugar-reducing hacks if you are still sitting on the fence, or the edge of a sugar cube, so it may be.

Canning Peaches In Light Syrup: Step-by-Step with Photos

Apricot jam without sugar is simply amazing too!

29. Quick (and healthy) snack hacking

Most people have a hard time refusing a midday snack. Or a second, or third mug of coffee…

But it doesn’t always have to be a slice of cake – or anything sweet at all.

When you begin to eat healthy snacks, your children (or spouse/partner) is more likely to grab something healthy to eat as well.

Set a good example as you make great use of what comes out of your garden, starting with carrots of course. They make a great substitute for french fries.

How To Make Quick Spiced Carrot Refrigerator Pickles

30. Prepping

My grandparents always had enough food on hand for at least 3-6 months, depending on the time of year.

It is beneficial to cook up extra for unexpected guests or to have an easy-to-reach abundance in case of ill health or emergencies.

You don’t need to consider yourself a survivalist or a hardcore prepper to fill your pantry. Just consider it wise advice.

Here are two articles to hack your way into being prepared:

Common Sense Prepping: A Prepping Guide for Ordinary People

Prepping Your Pantry – How We Store One Month Of Food Without A Fridge Or Freezer

31. How to use up coffee grounds

Inevitably, the food that came from the garden, or a forested land from afar, will come full circle back to the Earth.

It can benefit the ground beneath your feet, the dirt in your own backyard. If you drink coffee or herbal tea at home, you will always end up with something to toss out. Just be sure that your tea bags do not contain harmful microplastics if you plan on composting them!

28 Uses For Spent Coffee Grounds You’ll Actually Want To Try

Homestead farm animal hacks

Not everyone who lives on a homestead has animals.

Though at some point they eventually bring in a flock of chickens, or backyard ducks. Maybe a milking goat, or two. After all, animals don’t like to be lonely either.

After raising ducks, guinea fowl, turkeys, chickens, goats and mangalica pigs, I’d have to say that raising pigs has been one of the best homestead experiences of my life.

One year my husband and I even brought two piglets home on a bike…

They were put in burlap sacks, tied and tucked one each to the front baskets on our bicycles. Mine got her head free and nibbled my fingers.

She was always a naughty little one!

Raising farm animals comes with its own set of challenges, here are articles that you may find helpful along the way.

32. Do you know the true price of an egg?

Chickens have a tendency to lay a lot of eggs, then nothing at all. All the while, they need to eat and scratch, then eat and scratch some more. Day in and day out, most chickens like to stick to their routines.

I’d say that many people start out with the grand hope of raising chickens for cheaper than store-bought eggs. We tried that too. It didn’t work. Free-ranging was not enough for our chickens to want to produce as many eggs as we expected. Maybe it was all they could give.

In any case, there are some chicken-raising hacks that we have not yet tried. Better luck next time?!

Raising Chickens On a Dime: 14 Ways To Save Money On Your Flock

33. Making money from your chickens

If you happen to have a really great flock, you may even be able to profit from your hens by selling eggs, chicks or pullets. Possibly even selling chicken manure.

Let nothing go to waste.

14 Ways to Make Money From Your Backyard Chickens

34. Saving your flock from predators

Foxes, coyotes, stray dogs, hawks and any other large bird flying overhead can all be threats to your backyard flock of birds.

The best way to protect them as they free-range, is a chicken tractor.

How To Build An A-Frame DIY Chicken Tractor That Will Last: Our Chicken Tractor Story

35. Are goats ever easy to take care of?

I’m sure you’ve heard it before that goats eat everything. That is not completely true. Though they may not want to eat everything that you serve them. They would rather serve themselves.

To bushes. To trees, branches and leaves. If there is a place you don’t want them to go, they will somehow find it.

Here are some tips and tricks to make your first year of raising goats a little bit easier.

10 Super Simple Goat Care Hacks That Can Make Your Job Easier

36. How to stop a cow from kicking

Milking time should be fun, but cows will definitely be picking up on your frustration and stress with life. Don’t take your fears into the milking area or stable with you.

10 Tricks to Stop Your Milk Cow from Kicking

37. Raising pigs the stress-free way

Let them dig, let them burrow, give them plenty of space and some large stones and rocks to play with. This way, they will be happy.

4 Hacks for Beginning Pig Farmers

38. Hacks for beekeepers

This one is just for keepers of bees. Totally worth a read if you are considering a future on the subject!

15 Lifehacks for Beekeepers

General home(stead) hacks

Now we’ve come to the point of showcasing a few homestead hacks that are more universally applicable.

Most of them occur in the home{stead}.

39. Easily remove labels from jars

Reusing glass jars for all your canning needs is great. However, in order to get everything properly sterilized, you are going to have to remove the label. No matter how hard – or easy – it is to do it.

How To Remove Labels From Glass Jars

40. Washing clothes by hand

Whether you are off grid, or the power is simply out for an undetermined amount of time, chances are good that you will still be accumulating laundry.

With a little ingenuity and hand power, your clothes can be good as new again.

Hand-Washing Clothes Made Easy – Try It Once & You’ll Never Go Back!

41. More laundry hacks

Just like creating dirty dishes from cooking, muddy clothes will keep on coming, especially on a homestead. Staying on top of the pile is just one side of the story.

8 Steps To A More Natural & Cheaper Laundry Routine

42. Too many pine cones?

If pine cones just keep falling and falling from the trees, and you don’t know what to do, the following article has some clever ideas for you.

9 Clever & Practical Pine Cone Uses in the Home & Garden

43. An endless supply of toilet paper rolls…

Recycling is one way to get rid of them, but that is not the only way to roll.

14 Practical Ways to Upcycle Toilet Paper Rolls

44. How to spend more time outdoors

Now is the time to stop making excuses. It isn’t too hot, nor is it too cold to be outside. However it may be sometimes too windy or stormy. Just use your best judgement.

For your most vibrant health possible, be sure to get outside daily. Barefoot, if and when you can. Soak up the sun and some vitamin D, energize, reawaken your joy for life.

26 Sneaky Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors

45. Live more life offline

The hack of all hacks is to live less of your life online, and more of it in the real world.

This means turning off your screen, however small or large, and doing something meaningful. Knit, sew, weave a basket, play with clay, read a book by candlelight, sit and enjoy a mug of foraged tea.

Simply relax and be.

Entire books have been written about the subject. Yet, the only way to understand it, is to practice it.

Get offline. Go in the garden, tend to the animals, cook from scratch and be the best homesteader you can be.

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Cheryl Magyar

Well, hello, szia and bună ziua!

My name is Cheryl Magyar and I am a homesteader, organic no-dig gardener and preserver of fruits, vegetables, herbs and life in general. I'm also a forager and a rewilder, rewilding myself and our land in Breb, Romania, along with my husband and our teenage daughter.

Since 2001 I have been living a simple life, going on 15+ years without running water inside our home, heating with firewood cut with a two-wo/man crosscut saw and enjoying the quiet solitude of the countryside where haystacks outnumber the people.

What you wouldn't guess about me, is that I was born and raised in a suburb of Chicago. If I can do this, you can too! It's a life you get to choose, so choose wisely. Because I know you're curious, I've spent 8 years homesteading (raising mangalica pigs, goats and ducks) and gardening on our tanya in Ópusztaszer, Hungary. This lifestyle is going on 8 years in Romania. I wouldn't change it for the world.

To discover more about me, and about us:

you can follow on Instagram
read into our website at Forest Creek Meadows
stop by for a visit and/or a (re)workshop
or shop our growing Etsy store Earth Gratitude Studio

Hope to see you around!